May 05, 2014 - In the recent past, Burundi has experienced terrible conflicts whose
wounds have not healed completely. In this context the Catholic Church in the country
must continue its role in bringing about social and political dialogue, without hesitating
to meet even those in power. This was one of the several exhortations of Pope Francis
to the Bishops of Burundi who met him in a group on Monday. The bishops are in Rome
on their ‘ad limina’ visit, which heads of dioceses around the world are required
to make every five years of or so, to report on the state of their jurisdiction.
In a written message handed to them, the Pope alluded to the terrible 1994 genocide
of mass killings of Tutsis by the Hutu people, and reminded the country’s bishops
that they are witnesses of brotherhood of the Gospel even in the public spheres.
When war has taught to hate, peace can return if one sows brotherhood again, the
Pope said. Saying that violence has caused deep wounds and extreme poverty continues
to bleed the people, the Pope asked the Burundian bishops to sow in the conscience
of the people the Gospel, which only can lead them to brotherhood and forgiveness.
The Pope urged the Church in Burundi to do everything possible to continue dialoguing
in the social and political spheres, especially with the nation’s authorities, in
order to bring about reconciliation. But for this to happen, the bishops need to
witness to their faith and their courageous preaching of the Gospel, so they can understand
and appreciate the Church’s social teaching with regard to managing public issues.
Among other issues, Pope Francis also advised the Burundian bishops on the formation
of candidates to the priesthood, the religious, the laity and the young.