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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

General audience: the spiritual and human alphabet of ministers of the Church

Vatican City, 12 November 2014 (VIS) – What is required of ministers of the Church – bishops, priests and deacons – for their service to be authentic and fruitful?”. This was the question posed by Pope Francis in his catechesis during this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square.

In his pastoral epistles, St. Paul lists, alongside faith and spiritual life, a number of human qualities essential for these ministries: hospitality, temperance, patience, gentleness, reliability, and goodness of heart. These, said the Holy Father, are “the alphabet, the grammar at the base of every ministry! Without this predisposition to encounter, know, enter into dialogue with, appreciate and relate to one's brethren in a respectful and sincere way, it is impossible to offer a service and a truly joyful and credible witness”.

There is another basic attitude that Paul recommends to his disciples and, consequently, to all those in whom pastoral ministry is invested: the continual renewal of the gift received. “This means always keeping alive the awareness that one does not become a bishop, priest or deacon for being more intelligent or better than others, but by receiving a gift from God … for the good of His people. This knowledge is truly important and constitutes a grace to be asked for every day. Indeed, a pastor who is aware that his ministry stems solely from the mercy and from the heart of God can never assume an authoritarian attitude, as if he had everyone at his feet and as if the community were his own property, his own personal kingdom”.

“The awareness that it is all a gift, it is a grace, also helps the pastor not to give in to the temptation to place himself at the centre of attention and to trust only in himself. These are the temptations of vanity, pride, sufficiency, arrogance. God does not like it when a bishop, priest or deacon thinks that he knows it all, that he always has the right answer for everything and has no need for anyone else”, exclaimed Francis. “On the contrary, the knowledge that he, first and foremost, is the object of God's mercy and compassion must lead a minister of the Church always to be humble and understanding towards others. While in the knowledge of being required to courageously guard the faith entrusted to him, he must always be willing to listen to the people. Indeed, he is aware that there is always something to learn, even from those who may be distant from the faith and from the Church. All this must lead him to assume, with his brethren, a new attitude characterised by sharing, corresponsibility and communion”.

“We must always be grateful to the Lord Who, in the person and the ministry of the bishops, priests and deacons, continues to guide and form His Church, enabling her to grow along the path of sanctity. At the same time, we must continue to pray, so that the pastors of our communities may be the living image of communion and of God's love”, concluded the bishop of Rome.

Francis expresses his closeness to persecuted Christians and the Mexican people

Vatican City, 12 November 2014 (VIS) – “It is with great trepidation that I follow the dramatic events of Christians who in various parts of the world are persecuted and killed for their religious beliefs. I feel the need to express my profound spiritual closeness to the Christian communities who are so badly afflicted by an absurd violence that shows no sign of stopping, and I encourage the pastors and all faithful to be strong and firm in their hope”.

The Pope thus launched a heartfelt appeal to all those with political responsibility at local and international levels, as well as all persons of good will, “to mobilise consciences on a large scale in favour of persecuted Christians. They have the right to find safety and serenity in their own countries, freely professing their faith”.

Before concluding the general audience, the Pope greeted the faithful in various languages, and dedicated some off-the-cuff comments to pilgrims from Mexico. “I wish to express to the Mexicans, those present and those in their homelands, my closeness in this painful moment following the formal disappearance, which we know to be the assassination, of students. This makes visible the dramatic reality of the criminality behind the trade and trafficking in drugs. I am close to you and your families”.

Francis also mentioned the upcoming thirtieth anniversary of the signing of the peace treaty between Argentina and Chile, which was achieved as a result of the “will to dialogue”, and, recalling with gratitude the role played by St. John Paul II and Cardinal Antonio Samore in this treaty, he expressed his hope that “all peoples in conflict for any reason, territorial or cultural, will be encouraged to resolve them through dialogue and not by the cruelty of war”.


Vatican City, 12 November 2014 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- a delegation from the Catholic-Muslim forum;

- a group of sick children and disabled persons.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father has:

- appointed Bishop Cesar Augusto Franco Martinez as bishop of Segovia (area 6,949, population 166,200, Catholics 156,200, priests 185, religious 387), Spain. Bishop Franco Martinez is currently auxiliary of the archdiocese of Madrid. He succeeds Bishop Angel Rubio Castro, whose resignation from the pastoral care of the same diocese upon reaching the age limit was accepted by the Holy Father.

- appointed Fr. Antonio Tourinho Neto as auxiliary of the archdiocese of Olinda e Recife (area 4,058, population 3,996,000, Catholics 3,777,000, priests 275, permanent deacons 23, religious 1,216), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Jequie, Brazil in 1964 and was ordained a priest in 1990. He holds a licentiate in canon law from the Institute of Canon Law of the archdiocese of Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro and has served in a number of pastoral roles in the diocese of Jequie, including: defender of the bond and promoter of justice, judge auditor of the Ecclesiastical Chamber, parish priest of the Santo Antonio Cathedral, chancellor of the diocesan curia, spiritual director of the Joao Paulo II diocesan seminary, and parish priest of the community of Santo Antonio do Quilometro Cem in the municipality of Brejoes. He is currently vicar general in the diocese of Jequie.

- accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Zaragoza, Spain, presented by Archbishop Manuel Urena Pastor, in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.
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