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Thursday, June 11, 2015

To Bishops of Latvia and Estonia: Be Near to Migrant Families

Vatican City, 11 June 2015 (VIS) – This morning Pope Francis received in audience prelates of the Episcopal Conferences of Latvia and Estonia at the conclusion of their ad Limina visit. In the speech he addressed to them he reminded them that the Lord has chosen them “to work in a society that, having been for so long oppressed by regimes based on ideologies that are contrary to human dignity and freedom, is today called to measure itself against other insidious dangers, such as secularism and relativism. While that may make it harder for your pastoral outreach, I urge you continue tirelessly, never losing faith, in proclaiming Christ's Gospel, the Word of salvation for persons of every time and culture.”

In this renewed evangelization you are not alone. You have your priests who, although few and of many diverse origins, are there by your side with respect, obedience, and generosity. … I encourage you to take good care of their formation, both in terms of theological and ecclesial preparation as well as in terms of human maturity rooted in a solid spirituality and characterized by friendly openness, capable of discerning the reality of the world in which we live. … For the growth and journey of your communities, the presence of men and women in the consecrated life is also extremely valuable. Especially in this Year dedicated to them it is opportune to make them understand that they are not only appreciated for the services they render but primarily for the richness of their charisms and their witness, for the very fact that they are, [their presence] spreads the perfume of Christ among the people of God in how they follow the Gospel counsels.”

The participation of the lay faithful is also indispensable for the mission of evangelization,” Pope Francis emphasized. “Your nearness and concern will help them carry out those responsibilities that, according to the teachings of Vatican Council II, they are called to undertake in the cultural, social, political, and also charitable and catechetical fields. … The lay faithful are the living path between what we Pastors preach and the various social environments. … At the same time, both they and you are in daily contact with other Christian traditions that are present in your territory and together you can support ecumenical dialogue, which is so necessary today in view of the fact that social peace is sometimes shaken by ethnic and linguistic differences.”

The Pope shares the bishops' determination to promote the family, noting however that “marriage today is often considered a form of emotional gratification that can be constituted in any way whatsoever or changed according to the sensibilities of each. Unfortunately, this reductive conception also affects the mindset of Christians, causing a ease in resorting to divorce or separation. As pastors we are called to question on the preparation for marriage given to engaged couples and also on how to assist those who are living in these situations so that the children do not become the primary victims and the spouses do not feel excluded from God's mercy and the Church's care but are helped on their faith journey and in the Christian education of their children.”

Finally, the Pope recalled the economic and social crisis that has also affected Latvia and Estonia, provoking a migration the result of which has been a large number of single-parent families in need of special pastoral attention. The absence of a father or mother in many families causes the other spouse greater effort, in every sense, in raising the children. For these families your attention and the pastoral outreach of your priests is truly valuable, combined with the effective nearness of the communities.”

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