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Bishops should be fathers to all, not just to Catholics, Pope tells prelates from Bosnia-Herzegovina

March 16, 2015

Meeting on March 16 with visiting bishops from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Pope Francis reminded them that they are “heirs of many martyrs and confessors, who during the troubled centuries-long history of the country have kept the faith alive.”

Today, the Pope said, the Church in Bosnia-Herzegovina faces a number of serious challenges, including some that result from a high level of emigration and the separation of families. He also mentioned the challenges of working in “a multiethnic and religiously plural population.”

In the context of inter-religious affairs, Pope Francis reminded the visiting bishops that they are, by virtue of their apostolic posts, assigned as “fathers to all,” not just to the Catholic population. “May your heart always be large enough to accommodate all, just as the heart of Christ is able to receive in itself – with divine love – every human being,” he said.

The Pope emphasized that the Church is called to shine the light of the Gospel on the entire world. Therefore, he continued, “it cannot stay closed within its traditions, noble though they may be.”

The Pope told the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina, who were making their ad limina visits, that he is looking forward to his June visit to Sarajevo, which he announced last month.

Although some observers had speculated that the visit to Rome by the bishops of Bosnia-Herzegovina might provide the occasion for a formal Vatican announcement about the reported Marian apparitions at Medjugorje, the Pope did not mention that topic in his prepared remarks.


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