Pope Francis: evangelization is Church’s essential mission
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis held a special audience on Saturday for the bishops taking part in a training seminar held over the past two weeks under the auspices of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. The sessions were organized particularly for bishops ordained during the course of the past two years, and examined various aspects of episcopal life and ministry, relating to the work of preaching the Good News.
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In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered on Saturday morning, the Holy Father said that the essential mission of the Church is to proclaim the Gospel, and there is now the urgent need for a missionary conversion. “A conversion,” he said, “that concerns every Christian and every parish, but is one that that shepherds are called to live and to witness in the first.”
Pope Francis went on to say that the church needs shepherds of souls – bishops – who are servants, and, “who know how to kneel down in front of others to wash their feet.” He encouraged the participants to seek to give a genuine missionary impulse to their diocesan communities, that they might grow more and more with new members, thanks to their bishops’ witness of life and ministry exercised as a service to the People of God.
He also had special words for the bishops who were not able to take part in the sessions, especially the Chinese bishops ordained in recent years. “How I wish,” he said, “[they] were present at the meeting today,” adding, “at heart, though, I hope that day is not far off.”
Looking forward to the upcoming extraordinary synod assembly on the family, Pope Francis stressed that families are the foundation of the work of evangelization, with their educational mission and with the active participation in the life of the parish community. “I encourage you to promote the pastoral care of families,” he said, “so that families, accompanied and formed in the faith, might always give their best contribution to the life of the Church and of society.