Pope Francis urges new bishops to draw close to God and His people

Pope Francis addresses new bishops at the Consistory Hall of the Vatican Sept 13 2018 Credit Vatican Media CNA Pope Francis addresses new bishops at the Vatican's Consistory Hall, Sept. 13, 2018. | Vatican Media.

As Pope Francis met Thursday with bishops ordained in the past year, he urged them to make time for an intimate relationship with God and for pastoral visits to people they serve.

"We need bishops capable of feeling the heartbeat of their communities and their priests, even from a distance: feel the pulse," Pope Francis advised Sept. 12.

The pope urged "real availability" in the life of a bishop, pointing to the example of the Good Samaritan, who saw a need and did not look the other way.

"Stay in contact with people. Dedicate time to them more than at the desk. Don't fear contact with reality," he said.

"In particular, I would like to encourage regular pastoral visits: to visit frequently, to meet people and pastors," he said. "Visit, following the example of Mary, who wasted no time and got up to go quickly to her cousin. The Mother of God shows us that to visit is to bring near Him who makes one jump with joy, is to bring the comfort of the Lord who does great things among the humble."

The new bishops are in Rome to participate in a formation course organized by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

"Every day, sparing no time, we must stand before Jesus and bring Him people, situations, like channels always open between Him and our people," Pope Francis said.

"'This is my Body offered for you', we say at the highest moment of the Eucharistic offering for our people. Our life springs from here and leads us to become broken loaves for the life of the world," he said.

Pope Francis said that without a close connection to Christ, it is easy to slip into the pessimistic mentality of those who say "everything is bad."'

"Without this personal trust, without this intimacy cultivated every day in prayer, even and especially in the hours of desolation and aridity, the core of our episcopal mission crumbles," he said.

"Only by being with Jesus we are preserved from the Pelagian presumption that good derives from our skill," he added. "Only by staying with Jesus does the profound peace that our brothers and sisters seek from us reach our hearts."

Pope Francis advised that living a simple life as a bishop serves as a witness that Christ is enough.

"The thermometer of closeness is attention to the least, to the poor, which is already an announcement of the Kingdom," Francis said, noting "not the poor in the abstract with data and social categories, but concrete persons, whose dignity it is entrusted to us as their fathers."

He said that bishops should be "apostles of listening," listening even to what is not pleasant to hear. Francis advised the new bishops not to surround themselves with "yes men" or "climbing priests."

"Please do not let fear of the risks of the ministry prevail, by turning away and keeping your distance," he advised.

"God surprises us and often loves to upset our agenda: be prepared for this without fear," Pope Francis added.

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