Vatican City, 22 September 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican's Clementine Hall, the Holy Father received the bishops participating in the seminar organised by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples. Pope Francis praised the courage of the bishops, who have not allowed themselves “to be intimidated by the difficulties and challenges of the current world, that make the mission of bishops even more arduous nowadays”, but have instead placed their trust in the Lord, “in imitation of the first disciples”.
He reminded them of the urgent need for missionary conversion “that involves every baptised person and every parish”, emphasising that pastors are required to be the first to live and witness this conversion as the leaders of the particular Churches. Therefore, he added, “I encourage you to direct your life and your episcopal ministry towards this missionary transformation that currently challenges the People of God”.
“Service to humanity is at the centre of this missionary conversion of the Church. … A shining example of this pastoral service is offered by the Korean martyr saints … whose liturgical memory we celebrate today. Anchored in Christ, the Good Shepherd, they did not hesitate to shed their own blood for the Gospel, of which they were faithful dispensers and heroic witnesses. The Church needs pastors, that is, servants, bishops, who are able to kneel before others to wash their feet. Pastors who are close to the people, meek fathers and brothers, patient and merciful; who embrace poverty both as freedom for the Lord and as simplicity and austerity in life”.
“Make efforts to give a new missionary impetus to your diocesan communities, so that they continue to grow with new members, thanks to your witness of life and your episcopal ministry, exercised as a service to the People of God. Be close to your priests, pay attention to religious life, and love the poor”. He concluded by urging them to promote pastoral care for the family, “so that families, accompanied and educated, may be increasingly better able to offer their contribution to the life of the Church and society”, and so that they may provide the foundation for the work of evangelisation, “through their educational mission and with their active participation in the life of parish communities”.