Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Pope has made a "heartfelt appeal" to "those who have political responsibilities at local and international levels, as well as to all people of good will, so that we undertake a large-scale mobilization of consciences in favor of persecuted Christians. They have the right to find peace and security in their own countries, professing their faith freely".
At the end of today's general audience Pope Francis expressed his "great trepidation" with which he follows "the dramatic events of Christians who in various parts of the world are persecuted and killed because of their religious beliefs. I feel the need to express my deep spiritual closeness to the Christian communities hard hit by an absurd violence that shows no signs of stopping, while I encourage pastors and the faithful to be strong and firm in hope". And "for all persecuted Christians because they are Christians, I invite you all to pray with me now the Our Father ...".
Before the appeal, continuing catechesis dedicated to the Church with to 25 thousand people gathered in St Peter's Square on a cloudy day, the Pope, spoke of "what is required from the ministers of the Church, so that they can authentically and fruitfully live their service". He warned: "Woe to a bishop, priest or deacon who think they know everything, that they always have the right answer for everything and do not need anyone" or those who behave as if "the community was his personal property, his personal kingdom". Instead they should always "listen to the people", even those who "may still be distant" from the community.
In the 'Pastoral Letters' sent his disciples Timothy and Titus, the Apostle Paul, "dwells at length on the figure of the bishops, priests and deacons" and "on a description of every Christian in the Church." In particular, the bishops, priests, deacons "he lists some exquisitely human qualities: welcome, sobriety, patience, gentleness, reliability, goodness of heart. I repeat: welcome, sobriety, patience and goodness, trustworthiness, kindness of heart. This is an alphabet of the basic grammar of every ministry! It must be the basic grammar of every bishop, every priest, every deacon" because "without this beautiful and genuine predisposition, to get to know, to dialogue with, to appreciate and relate to our brothers and sisters in a respectful and sincere way, you cannot offer a truly joyful and credible service and witness".
"There is a fundamental attitude that Paul recommends to his disciples and, consequently, to all those who are invested with the pastoral ministry," "continually renew the gift that has been received." "This means that we must always be keenly aware that we are not bishops, priests or deacons because we are smarter, more talented and better than others, but only by virtue of a gift, a gift of love bestowed by God, in power of his Spirit, for the good of His people".
"The knowledge that everything is a gift, everything is grace, also helps a Pastor not to fall into the temptation of believing that they are the center of attention and to trust only themselves. These are the temptations of vanity, pride, arrogance. God forbid that a bishop, priest or deacon would think they know everything, always have the right answer for everything and have no need of anyone. On the contrary, awareness that he is the first object of God's mercy and compassion should lead a minister of the Church to be more humble and understanding towards others. We are aware of being called to guard the deposit of faith with courage, listening to the people. We should always be conscious that we have something to learn, even from those who may still be distant from the faith and the Church. With his brothers, then, this must lead to assume a new attitude, one of sharing, co-responsibility and communion".
In his greetings in Spanish, finally, Pope Francis recalled "the tragedy of the students kidnapped and killed" by drug traffickers.