Vatican City, 21 June 2013 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace, as part of the Year of Faith, the Holy Father received the pontifical representatives. After an introduction by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., the Holy Father addressed the nuncios with “simple thoughts” and informal words “close to his heart” regarding what he called some “existential” aspects of the labour they carry out.
“Your lives,” the Pope said, “are nomadic. Every three or four years … you change your place, move from one continent to another, one country to another, one reality of Church to another, often very different one. You always have your suitcase in hand. … This entails … mortification, the sacrifice of stripping yourselves of things, friends, ties, and always beginning anew. This isn't easy.”
Francis recalled the words that, then-substitute of the Secretariat of State, Msgr. Montini, used on 25 April 1951 to describe the figure of the pontifical representative: “one who is truly aware of bearing Christ with him”. With this, the Pope clarified that “the goods and perspectives of this world end up disappointing, they push and are never satisfied. The Lord is the good that does not disappoint.”
The Pope didn't forget to mention that this “nomadic” life holds the danger, even for men of the Church, to give in to what he called—using an expression from the theologian Henri de Lubac—“spiritual worldliness”. “Giving in to the spirit of the world, which leads one to act for personal realization and not for the glory of God in that kind of 'bourgeoisie of spirit and life' that urges one to get comfortable, to seek a calm and easy life.”
“We are shepherds and we must never forget this! Dear pontifical representatives, you are Christ's presence, you are a priestly presence, as pastors. … Always do everything with profound love! Even in dealing with the civil authorities and colleagues: always seek the good, the good in everyone, the good of the Church, and of every person.”
The Holy Father wanted to conclude his address by highlighting one of the principal and most delicate tasks of the representatives, to look for episcopal appointments: “be attentive,” he told them, “that the candidates are Pastors who are close to the people, fathers and brothers; that they are gentle, patient, and merciful; that they love poverty, interior poverty as freedom for the Lord and exterior poverty as simplicity and austerity of life; that they don't have the mindset of 'princes'. Be attentive that they aren't ambitious, that they don't seek the episcopate—'volentes nolumus'—and that they are spouses of a Church without constantly seeking another. That they are capable of 'keeping an eye on' the flock that will be entrusted to them, that is, of caring for everything that keeps it united; of being 'vigilant' over it; of being attentive to dangers that threaten it; but above all that they are capable of 'keeping an eye over' the flock; of keeping watch; of tending hope, that there is sun and light in their hearts; of sustaining with love and patience the plans that God has for his people.”