On Monday morning, Pope Francis met privately at the Apostolic Palace with about 200 newly ordained bishops over the past year, taking part in the second session of a formation course that takes place at the Regina Apostolorum Atheneum and is organized by the dicasteries for the bishops and for the Eastern Churches.
By Salvatore Cernuzio
Pope Francis’ private audience with the bishops marked an informal gathering, with all seated in a circle, consisting of testimonies, suggestions and encouragement to serve the poor. The meeting concluded days devoted to “learning” how to be a bishop, the challenges to be met and the issues to be brought forward.
About 200 new bishops participating in the formation course organized by the Dicasteries for Bishops and for the Eastern Churches met the pope Monday morning in the Clementine Hall. The meeting was confidential in order to allow a free conversation between the Pope and the bishops, many of them from Latin America. Present were the participants of the second session of the course from September 12 to 19 which was held at the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum in Rome.
Caring for the poor
The first session, which took place earlier, from September 1 to 8, opened with a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State. The course was divided into two sessions given the high number of participants and the Covid restrictions which required it. Pope Francis received course participants – a tradition that began in 2000 under the pontificate of John Paul II – and dedicated this year to the theme “Proclaiming the Gospel in Changing Times After the Pandemic: Service to the ‘bishop”.
Also at that time, the pope did not have a prepared speech, but held a confidential discussion, as São Paulo auxiliary Archbishop Angelo Ademir Mezzari told Vatican News. He said the Pope welcomed those present with a message, namely not to forget the need to be close to the poor, knowing that everything is interconnected and everything needs care on this planet. Then he wanted to listen directly to his brother bishops, their stories, their situations, their requests. The meeting lasted about an hour and a half.
The same type of meeting took place Monday morning in a “synodal” atmosphere, according to the Brazilian bishop Maurício da Silva Jardim, who will take over the leadership of the diocese of Rondonópolis-Guiratinga on October 23. “Synodal”, explains the prelate, also marked the atmosphere of the working week at the Regina Apostolorum, when in the light of the magisterium of Pope Francis, the speakers focused on a central theme and then gave the floor to the assembly, then invited to “express themselves, raise concrete questions and current problems, such as hunger, violence, social inequalities, migrations, political and health crises, ethics and social problems in the world. The new Brazilian bishops were also able to draw the attention of course participants and the Pope to the major problems that mark the face of the Amazon, such as mining, exploitation and deforestation. illegal.
Challenges and magisterium
During the training course, certain writings of the pope – Amoris laetitia, Fratelli tutti and Laudato si’, in particular – were then explored in depth. Then some of the cornerstones of the pontificate became the focus, such as the family and universal brotherhood through integral human promotion. Bishop Jardim says it was “an opportunity to walk together on different fronts, encouraging us to be ‘pastors of the people’ and offering ideas on how to act in our dioceses, according to the principle established by the pope Francis of a missionary and synodal Church of communion and participation.”
Audience to the bishops of mission lands
Pope Francis met another group of bishops in audience last Saturday, bishops from mission lands who participated in another training seminar in Rome, organized by the Dicastery for Evangelization. In an open dialogue also in private audience, the Pope urged the Bishops to always deepen their relationship with the Lord, their communion between Bishops and with their priests, while being close to the faithful. The Vicar Apostolic of Caroní in Venezuela, Archbishop Gonzalo Ontiveros, told Vatican News that the bishops had the opportunity to share their experiences of missionary work with the Pope, giving the Pope food for thought. In particular, the pope reiterated the importance of prayer in the episcopal ministry, because if a bishop does not pray, he moves away from God and “withers away”. Furthermore, Bishop Ontiveros said the Pope has called for greater unity among bishops as “brothers in the episcopate” and to come closer to their priests, collaborators and parish communities: “Answer them, call them. Be attentive to their needs”. says the Pope. Among the recommendations were also to avoid protagonism, self-referentiality and proselytism, which is different from “evangelism” to be carried out “in the way of Jesus”.