Pope to new Bishops: Be open to dialogue and close to poor

On Monday morning Pope Francis met privately in the Apostolic Palace with around 200 newly ordained Bishops over the past year taking part in the second session of a formation course taking place at the Regina Apostolorum Atheneum and organized by the Dicasteries for Bishops and for Eastern Churches.

By Salvatore Cernuzio

The private audience of Pope Francis with the Bishops marked an informal meeting, with all seated in a circle, consisting of testimonies, suggestions, and encouragement to serve the poor. The meeting topped off days dedicated to ‘learning’ how to be bishops, the challenges to face, and the issues to bring forward.

Around 200 new bishops participating in the formation course organized by the Dicasteries for Bishops and for Eastern Churches met with the Pope on Monday morning in the Clementine Hall. The meeting was confidential so as to allow free conversation between the Pope and the Bishops, many from Latin America. Those present consisted of participants in the second session of the course from 12-19 September held at the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum in Rome.

Audience to Bishops from mission lands

Pope Francis met with another group of Bishops in audience last Saturday, Bishops from mission lands who participated in Rome in another training seminar, one organized by the Dicastery for Evangelization. In an open dialogue also in a private audience, the Pope urged the Bishops to always deepen their relationship with the Lord, their communion among Bishops and with their priests, while being close to the faithful. The vicar apostolic of Caroní in Venezuela, Bishop Gonzalo Ontiveros, told Vatican News that the bishops had the opportunity to share their experiences of missionary work with the Pope, thus giving the Pope food for thought. In particular, the Pope reiterated the importance of prayer in episcopal ministry, because if a bishop does not pray, he distances himself from God and “withers away.” Also, Bishop Ontiveros said the Pope called for greater unity among bishops as “brothers in the episcopate” and to draw close to their priests, co-workers, and parish communities: “Answer them, call them. Be attentive to their needs,” the Pope said. Also among the recommendations were to avoid protagonism, self-referentiality, and proselytism, which is different from “evangelization” to be carried out “in the style of Jesus.”

Audience in the Clementine Hall

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