This morning at Castelgandolfo, Pope John Paul II received 130 French-, Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking bishops from Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas and exhorted them to be models of Christian life, guardians of faith and to evangelize tirelessly in their “often tried” communities.
In his speech in French, to the bishops who participated in a formation seminar promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pope expressed his joy "at the vitality of your churches. In all cultures, they are called to show the communion of the one Church of Christ, in fidelity to the Magisterium.
“Your first concern,” said the Holy Father, “is to be diligent guardians of the integrity of the faith and the unity of the Church. Called to follow Christ, strive to increase communion with the Roman Pontiff and with other bishops, especially within the same Episcopal conference and ecclesiastic province.”
"Be models," he said, "for the Christian community, drawing the strength to be servants of the Gospel from a spiritual life, an intense sacramental life and permanent formation."
"In order to guide the faithful to true sanctity and to express Christian hope, may each one of you make St. Paul's outlook your own: 'Evangelizing is not a reason for pride but a duty that is imposed on me. Woe to me if I do not announce the Gospel!"
John Paul II asked the bishops, who he recognized were returning to their "often tried" communities, to assure their faithful that he was praying for them and for their intentions.
He concluded with a message for the priests of the bishops’ respective dioceses: "Tell your pastors that the Church counts on them to be witnesses with their word and their life. May Our Lady, Queen of Missions, help you in the service that has been entrusted to you."