Bring people Christ's mercy, Pope Francis tells new bishops

Pope Francis greets bishops in St Peters Square during the General Audience April 20 2016 Credit Daniel Ibanez CNA 4 20 16 Pope Francis greets bishops during the General Audience in St. Peter's Square, April 20, 2016. | Daniel Ibanez/CNA.

Like the Good Samaritan in the parable, you have been called to show the mercy of God to the men and women God has placed in your path, Pope Francis said to a group of new bishops on Friday.

"Be bishops with a heart wounded by such a mercy and so tireless in the humble task of accompanying the man who 'by chance' God has put in your way," the Pope encouraged.

The Roman Pontiff's Sept. 16 audience was with the participants in an annual training course for bishops held in Rome organized by the Congregation of Bishops and the Congregation of Eastern Churches.

"Men have need of mercy," the Pope said. The Good Samaritan is "interested in (the man's) recovery and his future … mercy, which had broken his heart, needs to pour and pour."

Just as Christ was close to his disciples, accompany your priests first "with patient care", Pope Francis exhorted the new bishops. He added that priests should feel comfortable going to their bishop to ask questions or for explanations.

He also told the bishops to take special care of seminaries and seminarians, not focusing just on the number of vocations, but rather on the "quality of discipleship."

"Do not deprive the seminarians of your firm and tender fatherhood," he said.

The Holy Father also talked about the importance of introducing people to the sacraments, to the fullness of truth in the Church, and to mercy.

"The Mercy of God is the only reality that allows men to not get completely lost, even when unfortunately he tries to escape his appeal," the Pope said. "Bishops, be able to launch your Churches in this abyss of love."

Pope Francis told the bishops that they were caught "from the heart of God to guide his Holy People" and thus should not be afraid to live out their calling.

"Know that this time it is your name that the Father wanted to say," he said. "Indeed, abandon the pretense of self-sufficiency to rely as little children on him who reveals his small kingdom."

The bishops have been called to their vocation and position by God, Pope Francis said, and it is their job to attract people to the mercy of God and to help them discern the whisper of God amid the noise of the world.

"A god distant and indifferent you can ignore, but (you cannot) easily resist a God so near and moreover wounded for love," the Pope continued. "Goodness, beauty, truth, love, good – here is what we can offer to this beggar, the world, although in half-broken bowls."

Pope Francis also encouraged the bishops to accompany families, rejoicing in their generous love and encouraging the immense good they do in the world.

"Put before their eyes the true joy of love and grace with which God elevates the share of his Love. So many people need to rediscover it, others have never known (it), some (are) waiting it redeem it, not a few will bring him the weight of having irretrievably lost," he said.

"Please keep them company in discernment and with empathy."

The Pope reminded the bishops that above all, it is the work of God that they do in their ministries.

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"It is comforting to keep in our hearts the memory of his voice that has called us, despite our shortcomings," he said. "He gives peace, surrender to certainty that it will be him, not us, to bring to fulfillment what he himself started."

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