Pope Francis addressed newly-appointed bishops in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall on Friday, reminding them of the thrill of being loved in advance by God and exhorting them to ‘make mercy pastoral’.
The audience came at the end of formation course for new bishops
organized by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the
Father Fintan Monahan, Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Killaloe, was
among the newly-appointed bishops who participated in the formation
Make mercy pastoral, for you have experienced the thrill of being
loved by God. That, according to Pope Francis, is the mission of
bishops, especially those who are new Pastors of the Church.
He said the bishops had been “fished, that is, caught by the love of
God’s surprising mercy” and pointed them to the example of biblical
figures like Moses and Nathaniel who were loved and known by God even
before they realized it.
The Holy Father called this “an admirable condescension”. He said,
“How beautiful it is to let oneself be transfixed by the loving
knowledge of God. It consoles us to know that He truly knows who we are
and is not afraid of our littleness…, despite our insufficiencies.”
The Pope said the Holy Door of the Jubilee of Mercy is Christ, the only
Door. Passing through that door, he said, should help them live “a
personal experience of gratitude, of reconciliation, of total trust, of
complete self-giving of one’s life without limit to the Pastor of
“The most precious richness you can bring from Rome at the beginning
of your episcopal ministry is the awareness of the mercy with which you
have been seen and chosen.”
Pope Francis then called the bishops to fulfill their duty to make mercy
pastoral for their flocks. “Mercy,” he said, “should form and inform
the pastoral structures of our Churches.
This does not mean lowering our
standards or giving away our pearls. Rather, the only condition placed
by the precious pearl on those who find it is to give their all. It’s
only pretense is to awake in the heart of the one who finds it is that
he or she risk all to obtain it.”
He gave the bishops three recommendations for how to make mercy
pastoral, saying their ministry must be accessible, tangible, and
capable of encounter.
The Holy Father told them to accessible to their flock and able to
invite them through “goodness, beauty, truth, love, and goodness”.
Though he warned them in an off-the-cuff remark that “the world is tired
of enchanting liars, that is, fashionable priests or fashionable
He also told them to not be afraid to ‘initiate’ those entrusted to them, especially seminarians.
“I ask you,” he said, “to take special care of the structures of
initiation of your Churches, especially Seminaries. Do not be tempted by
numbers and quantities of vocations, but search rather for the quality
of your seminaries. Do not deprive you seminarians of your firm and
Pope Francis concluded by telling them to be “bishops capable of
accompanying” their flock, just as the Good Samaritan accompanied the
man left hurt on the side of the road to a safe place.
“Accompany, above all, your presbiterate with patient care… Place
before their eyes the joy of authentic love and the grace of God with
which God raises them to the participation in His own Love.”
Father Monahan met with Pope Francis today and was presented with
Rosary beads as a gift from the Holy Father with his motto “mercying Him
& choosing Him”.