Vatican City, 1 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received the prelates of the Swiss Bishops' Conference at the end of their five-yearly “ad Limina” visit and handed them the text of the discourse he had prepared in advance, in which he referred to the country's long Christian tradition and the responsibility of prelates to keep faith strong. “Without living faith in the risen Christ, your beautiful churches and monasteries will gradually transform into museums; all the commendable works and institutions lose their soul, leaving behind only empty spaces and abandoned people”, he writes. “The mission that has been entrusted to you is to nurture your flock, proceeding in accordance with current circumstances. … The People of God cannot exist without their pastors, bishops and priests; the Lord has given the Church the gift of the apostolic succession in the service of the unity of faith and its full transmission”.
In this way, the Pope encourages them to continue their efforts in the formation of the seminarians, which constitutes the challenge for the future of the Church, and invites them to pay attention to their priests, especially in the case of estrangement or when the meaning of episcopal paternity appears to be forgotten. “A humble, honest and fraternal dialogue often enables a new beginning”, he writes. Similarly, he urges the bishops to acknowledge the support and efforts of the laity, differentiating between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood. He encourages them to continue in the formation of the baptised regarding the truths of faith and their importance to liturgy, the parish, family and life, and to carefully select personnel to permit the laity to be truly integrated in and to take their rightful place in the Church.
The Holy Father mentions that the Church was born in Pentecost when the apostles went out and spoke in all languages thus reaching all mankind through the power of the Holy Spirit, and he recalls the Redeemer's invitation to preach the Gospel to all, proclaiming the Good News without bending to the whims of man. Finally, he imparts his apostolic blessing and expresses his hope that they may continue to cultivate God's field with diligence and patience, maintaining their passion for the truth, and he encourages them to entrust the future of evangelisation in their country to the Virgin Mary and to the intercession of St. Nicolas de Flue, St. Maurice, and their companions.