Pope Francis receives Bishops of Mozambique
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the bishops of Mozambique on Saturday in the Apostolic Palace at the Vatican. The bishops are in Rome for their ad limina visits. The role of the bishop as pastor – the shepherd appointed by Christ to care for Christ’s flock, and so to serve Christ by serving and building up His people – was the central focus of the Holy Father’s remarks, which were prepared in Portuguese and delivered in written form on Saturday morning.
“Jesus is the supreme Pastor of the Church,” writes Pope Francis, “it is in His name and by His mandate that we are to take care to keep his flock, fully ready to give everything, even our lives,” in that service.
The Holy Father also encouraged the bishops to form and maintain strong relationships with their priests, caring for their spiritual and material needs.
He had special praise for the role the Church plays in the larger society of Mozambique, especially in the fields of education and health care.
Care for – and defense of – the family was another major focal point of Pope Francis’ remarks, in which he told the bishops to spare no effort in supporting the family and the defense of life from conception to natural death. “The family,” writes Pope Francis, “is always to be defended as a prime source of fraternity and of respect for others, as well as a primary way of peace.”
Finally, Pope Francis recalled the missionary vocation of all the baptized, and the bishops’ peculiar role as guardians and nurturers of the missionary spirit. “When we go out to take the Gospel with true apostolic spirit, He walks with us,” writes Pope Francis. “He precedes us, and for us this is fundamental: God always goes before us.”