(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has urged his representatives across the globe to keep a vigilant and lucid gaze on the Church and on the world.
The Pope was addressing Papal Nuncios in the Vatican Clementine Hall on Saturday morning as they concluded a 3-day meeting especially convened during the Holy Year of Mercy.
106 out of the 108 Papal representatives currently in service attended the event – only two were unable to travel to Rome. Among the 108 Papal representatives in service, 103 are Apostolic Nuncios with episcopal rank, and 5 are prelates who perform the mission of Permanent Observer at various international bodies.
During the long and multi-faceted speech to his men on the ground, Pope Francis said “you are the link between the Successor of Peter and the various local Churches” which are vital nourishment for the life of the Church and for the proclamation of God’s message.
And pointing out that without humility no service is possible or fruitful, the Pope said that the humility of a Nuncio passes through his love for the country and for the Church in which he is called to serve.
Pope Francis said that watching, analyzing and reporting back are all necessary tasks, but he said, they are not sufficient in the life of a Nuncio who must also “meet, listen, talk, share, propose and work together, showing sincere love, sympathy and empathy with the people and with the local Church”.
He exhorted them not “to point fingers at” or criticize those whose opinions differ from their own, this – he said - is a miserable tactic of today's political and cultural wars and must not be a method adopted by the Church.
“Our gaze must be far-reaching and deep” – he said- and the formation of consciences is a primary duty that requires delicacy and perseverance.
And acknowledging that there are many threats in the world that attack the flock, confusing it, disrupting it, dispersing and even destroying it, Pope Francis told the Nuncios they must be aware of the faces of danger that threaten their flocks; and he pointed to the situation of so many Christians in the Middle East who are threatened with eradication thanks also to the complicit silence of many.
“To be ready and happy to spend (sometimes even lose) time with bishops, priests, religious, parishes, cultural and social institutions, is ultimately “the job of a Nuncio” he said.
The Pope also exhorted those present to make sure the Apostolic Nunciature truly is the “Pope’s home”: a place in which the entire ecclesial body can find support and advice, and in which public authorities may find a constant reference point - and not only for diplomatic functions.
“Make sure, he said, that your Nunciature never becomes a refuge for ‘friends and friends of friends’. Flee from gossip and careerists” he said.
Pope Francis then encouraged the Nuncios not to be afraid of facing complex and difficult issues and situations, but warned them against endorsing political or ideological battles “because the Church's permanence is not based on the consent of parlors or squares, but on loyalty towards the Lord”.
And pointing out that the Church’s true power flows from God’s mercy, the Pope said “We have no right to deprive the world, the diplomatic forum and large areas of international discussion of this wealth that no one else can provide”.
This awareness – he said - encourages us to enter into dialogue with everyone, to be the prophetic voice of the marginalized: “May their cry become our cry and together we can break the barrier of indifference that often reigns to hide hypocrisy and selfishness”.
The Pope then told the Nuncios that “to accompany, you have to move”. He invited them to visit dioceses, religious institutes, parishes and seminaries to understand how God’s people live, what they think and which are the questions they ask.
He told them to be “a true expression of an outgoing Church, or a ‘field hospital’ which is capable of being part of the local Church, of the country or of the institution” to which they have been sent.
“May your diplomatic service be the attentive and clear gaze of the Successor of Peter upon the Church and the world!” he said.
Acknowledging that the speed of our times demands constant and permanent updating and training, Pope Francis said the challenges we face today are great ones and he said papal diplomacy is called to be involved and to make “mercy palpable in this wounded and broken world”.
He said that while the Church must not underestimate current problematics, it is called to look ahead and not be obsessed with the need for immediate results
The Pope told the nuncios not to be afraid to speak with confidence to people and to public institutions certain of the fact that clarity and mercy never confuse or detract from the beauty and the power of truth.
The world, Pope Francis said: “is afraid and is spreading fear. Often this is the key it adopts in its reading of reality and chooses – as its strategy - to build a world founded on walls and moats”.
“We can understand the reasons of that fear, but we must not embrace it, ‘for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice but rather of power and love and self-control’(2 Tim 1, 7)”.
Draw from this spirit – Pope Francis said - and go: “open doors, build bridges, create ties, make friendships, promote unity. Be men of prayer: never neglect this, especially silent adoration, the true source of your work”.
Fear – he concluded - lives permanently in the darkness of the past and is provisional: “The future is ours because it belongs to Christ!”
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