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Pope addresses nuncios on dealings with governments, selection of bishops

September 19, 2016

Pope Francis met with the Holy See’s apostolic nuncios and other pontifical representatives and urged them to “be a true expression of an outbound Church, a ‘field hospital.’”

“In the immense task of ensuring the freedom of the Church before every form of power that wishes to silence Truth, do not delude yourselves that this freedom is solely the fruit of agreements, accords and diplomatic negotiations, however perfect and successful they may seem,” the Pope told the nuncios on September 17 in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, adding:

Remember that you represent Peter, the rock that withstands the flood of ideologies, the reduction of the Word to mere convenience, submission to the powers of this passing world. Therefore, do not position yourselves on political or ideological battle lines, because the permanence of the Church does not rest on the consensus of the drawing room or the town square, but on faithfulness to the Lord, Who, unlike wolves and birds, has no den or nest to rest His head.

Emphasizing that “the selection of future bishops is a great concern of mine,” the Pope called for bishops who are men of prayer and “pastors, not princes or officials.”

“You are the first to have to scrutinize the fields to see where the little Davids are hidden,” the Pope told the nuncios. “You must cast your nets out widely. You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding ground of ‘friends of friends.’”

Turning to international diplomacy, Pope Francis spoke of “the urgency of making mercy palpable in this wounded and shattered world.”

He explained:

No situation is impermeable to the subtle and irresistible power of God’s goodness that never abandons man or his destiny. … This new radical perception of the diplomatic mission frees the papal representative from immediate geopolitical, economic or military interests, calling upon him to discern in his first governmental, political and social interlocutors and in public institutions the desire to serve the common good.

“We are not bearers of the fear and the night, but custodians of the dawn and the light of the Risen Christ,” the Pope said in conclusion. “Let us draw from this spirit, and go: open doors, build bridges; weave bonds; establish friendships; promote unity. Be men of prayer: never neglect it, especially in silent adoration, the true source of all your work.”


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  • Posted by: - Sep. 19, 2016 9:00 PM ET USA

    Another thought struck while reading the entire text of his message to the nuncios: maybe Francis has learned something about how to inspire his helpers since he issued his infamous "Christmas Stink-Bomb" speech to the Curia in December 2014.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 19, 2016 8:53 PM ET USA

    This is the essence of what is to love about the public Francis! Now, if the nuncios listen, we can hope that new bishops will be "other Christs", who, while showing His mercy and His searching for lost sheep, will also show the steel of His sword and the heat of His fire to those who want to diminish His message of the need for a radical choice for Him as He has been proclaimed in the fullness of the Church's teaching.

  • Posted by: feedback - Sep. 19, 2016 11:54 AM ET USA

    What a truly amazing address! I LOVE the line: "You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding ground of ‘friends of friends.’" This is the voice of Apostle Peter. Thank you for highlighting it.