.- Pope Francis met with the bishops of Mexico on Saturday at the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Assumption of Mary, where he highlighted the intercessory power of Our Lady of Guadalupe and encouraged the country’s clergy to overcome their challenges through perseverance and unity.
“I know that by looking into the eyes of the Blessed Virgin, I am able to follow the gaze of her sons and daughters who, in her, have learned to express themselves,” Pope Francis stated.
“I know that here is found the secret heart of each Mexican,” he continued, saying “please allow la Guadalupana to be the starting point of everything I will say to you.”
Pope Francis’ words to the Mexican bishops come during his first apostolic voyage to the country of Mexico from Feb. 12-17. Earlier in the day, he met with President Enrique Pena Nieto and other civil authorities at the National Palace, and will later celebrate Mass at the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Pope Francis’ predecessors St. John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI both visited Mexico during their pontificates, making Pope Francis the third Pope in history to visit the country.
During his meeting, Pope Francis underscored the profound impact of Our Lady of Guadalupe, saying “no other voice can speak so powerfully to me of the Mexican heart… she guards its highest aspirations and the most hidden hopes.”
The Holy Father also pointed to Our Lady of Guadalupe as an example to all religious and clergy, because she “teaches us that the only power capable of conquering the hearts of men and women is the tenderness of God.”
He encouraged the Bishops of Mexico to follow this path of ministry, evangelization and unity that Our Lady of Guadalupe has set. Just like Our Lady of Guadalupe, Pope Francis told the bishops that they too are entrusted “with the mission of enrobing the Mexican nation with fruitfulness.”
“I think of the need to offer a maternal place of rest to young people. May your vision be capable of meeting theirs, loving them and understanding what they search for,” Pope Francis stated.
“Introduce your priests into a right understanding of sacred ministry. Let us allow the Father to assign the place that he has prepared for us,” Pope Francis continued, asking the bishops to particularly guard the hearts of their priests.
Pope Francis additionally noted his concern for those “seduced by the empty power of the world,” who are blinded by the lure of money and the violence of drug trade. The phenomenon of this dangerous power poses a specific challenge to the pastors of the church of Mexico, the Holy Father stated.
“Only by starting with families, by drawing close and embracing the fringes of human existence...will people finally escape the raging waters that drown so many,” he said, asking the bishops to pay particular attention to the family.
The Pope encouraged the Bishops of Mexico to nurture humility, patience and unity with their communities “by weaving the new man which your country awaits with the fine thread made of the men and women you encounter.”
Despite the country’s at times lonely and painful history, the Holy Father encouraged the Mexican bishops to “never cease to remind your people of how powerful their ancient roots are, roots which have allowed a vibrant Christian synthesis of human, cultural and spiritual unity which was forged here.”
“It is important not to squander the inheritance you have received by protecting it through constant work,” Pope Francis told the bishops, saying “it falls to you to sow Christ in this land.”
“Mexico and its vast, multifaceted Church, stand in need of bishops who are servants and custodians of that unity built on the word of God, nourished by his Body and guided by his Spirit who is the lifegiving breath of the Church,” Pope Francis stated.
The Holy Father also touched on the topic of migration, recalling the millions of men and women who gamble their lives in pursuit of a new future. He noted the risks of migration and the heartbreak of separated families for the promise of a new life.
“May your hearts be capable of following these men and women and reaching them beyond borders,” he told the bishops, saying their “efforts will not be in vain when your dioceses show care by pouring balm on the injured feet of those who walk through your territories.”
Although Mexico faces many struggles and challenges, Pope Francis asked the Bishops to embrace the future with a unified vision without losing sight of the destination.
“I would ask you not to lose heart in the face of difficulties and not to spare any effort in promoting, among yourselves and in your dioceses, a missionary zeal, especially towards the most needy areas of the one body of the Mexican Church,” the Pope stated.
“So I invite you to appreciate that the mission which the Church entrusts to you demands a vision embracing the whole. This cannot be realized in an isolated manner, but only in communion.”