At the General Audience the Pope invokes mobilization of the conscience to stop persecution of Christians and he asks the ministers of the Church to always listen to the people
Acceptance, temperance, patience,
meekness, trustworthiness, goodness of heart: this is “the alphabet, the basic
grammar, of every ministry” in the Church. But — Pope Francis recalled at the
General Audience on Wednesday, 12 November in St Peter’s Square — there is
“basic conduct” which must not be forgotten: the “awareness that everything is
a gift, everything is grace, also helps a Pastor not to fall into the
temptation of placing himself at the centre of attention and trusting only in
himself”. Ministers of the Church must humbly “listen to the people”. And he relaunched
his international appeal against the “absurd violence” being inflicted on
Christians. The following is a translation of the Holy Father’s address, which
he delivered in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
preceding catecheses on the Church, we pointed out how the Lord continues to shepherd his flock
through the ministry of bishops, assisted by priests and deacons. It is in them
that Jesus makes himself present, in the power of his Spirit, and continues to
serve the Church, nourishing within her faith, hope and the witness of love.
These ministers are thus a great gift of the Lord for every Christian community and for the whole
of the Church, as they are a living sign of the presence of his love.
we want to ask ourselves: what is asked of these ministers of the Church, in
order that they may live out their service in a genuine and fruitful way.
sent to his disciples, Timothy and Titus, the Apostle Paul carefully pauses on
the figures of bishop, priest and deacon, — also on the figures of the
faithful, the elderly and young people. He pauses on a description of each state of a Christian in the Church,
delineating for the bishops, priests and deacons what they are called to and
what prerogatives must be acknowledged in those chosen and invested with these
ministries. Today it is emblematic that, along with the gifts inherent in the
faith and in spiritual life — which cannot be overlooked, for they are life
itself — some exquisitely human qualities are listed: acceptance, temperance,
patience, meekness, trustworthiness, goodness of heart. This is the alphabet,
the basic grammar, of every ministry! It must be the basic grammar of every
bishop, priest and deacon. Yes, for without this beautiful and genuine
predisposition, to meet, to know, to dialogue, to appreciate and to relate with
brothers in a respectful and sincere way — it is not possible to offer truly
joyous and credible service and testimony.
There is then the basic conduct which Paul recommends to his disciples and, as
a result, to all those who are called to pastoral ministry, be they bishops,
priests, presbyters or deacons. The Apostle says that the gift which has been
received must be continually rekindled (cf. 1 Tm 4:14; 2 Tm 1:6). This means
that there must always be a profound awareness that one is not bishop, priest or deacon because he is more
intelligent, worthier or better than other men; he is such only pursuant to a
gift, a gift of love bestowed by God, through the power of his Spirit, for the
good of his people. This awareness is very important and constitutes a grace to
ask for every day! Indeed, a Pastor who is cognizant that his ministry springs
only from the heart of God can never assume an authoritarian attitude, as if everyone
were at his feet and the community were his property, his personal kingdom.
The awareness that everything is a gift, everything is grace, also helps a
Pastor not to fall into the temptation of placing himself at the centre of
attention and trusting only in himself. They are the temptations of vanity,
pride, sufficiency, arrogance. There would be problems if a bishop, a priest or
a deacon thought he knew everything, that he always had the right answer for
everything and did not need anyone. On the contrary, awareness that he, as the
first recipient of the mercy and compassion of God, should lead a minister of
the Church to always be humble and sympathetic with respect to others. Also, in
the awareness of being called to bravely guard the faith entrusted (cf. 1 Tm
6:20), he shall listen to the people. He is in fact cognizant of always having
something to learn, even from those who may still be far from the faith and
from the Church. With his confreres, then, all this must lead to taking on a
new attitude marked by sharing, joint responsibility and communion.
friends, we must always be grateful to the Lord, for in the person and in the
ministry of bishops, priests and deacons, he continues to guide and shape his
Church, making her grow along the path of holiness. At the same time, we must
continue to pray, that the Pastors of our communities can be living images of
the communion and of the love of God.
great trepidation I am following the tragic events of Christians who, in
various parts of the world, are being persecuted and killed because of their
religious beliefs. I feel the need to express my deep spiritual closeness to
the Christian communities severely affected by this absurd violence which shows no sign of
stopping, while I encourage the Pastors and all the faithful to remain strong
and steadfast in hope. Once again, I would like to make a heartfelt appeal to
local and international political leaders, as well as to all people of good
will, that a widespread mobilization of
conscience be taken up in support of persecuted Christians. They have the right
to recover safety and peace of mind in their countries, freely professing our
faith. And now for all Christians, persecuted for being Christians, I ask you
to pray the Our Father.
greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s
Audience, including the various groups from England, Denmark, South Africa,
Indonesia, Japan and the United States of America. I thank the choirs for their
praise of God in song. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke joy and
peace in the Lord Jesus. God bless you all!