PIME Bishop: Francis, a missionary Pope and pastor of the Church
Parintins (AsiaNews) - After the "charisma of John Paul II" and the "science of Benedict XVI," the universal Church is entrusted to "a pope who is pastoral", capable of enhancing "the missionary spirit, starting from the example of the Jesuits "who evangelized the South American continent in the sixteenth century. So says Msgr. Giuliano Frigeni, a priest of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), in Brazil since 1978, as he describes Pope Francis to AsiaNews, who today in St. Peter's Square celebrated Mass for the beginning of his ministry. At the head of the Diocese of Parintins (Amazon) since 19 March 1999, the Italian-born prelate had the opportunity to closely observe the former archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio during meetings, conferences and seminars of the Church in Latin America. He describes him as a "strong personality but at the same time gentle, humble, intelligent, despite being a Jesuit scholar and very active and dedicated to pastoral ministry."
The missionary spirit of Pope Francis emerges in all its clarity in the final document of the Fifth General Conference of Latin American Bishops, held in May 2007 in Aparecida, Brazil, starting with the title "Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our peoples may have life in Him". Compiled thanks to the "personal commitment" of then Card. Bergoglio, the final text "is the most beautiful to emerge in recent years in the field of evangelization and mission ad gentes". For Msgr. Frigeni, in fact, it "marks the life of the Church in South America" and gives a "view of the world," because "the essence of Christianity consists in missionary task, which is given to every believer."
The bishop of the Amazon, immersed in a reality characterized by large pockets of poverty and backwardness even in an environment rich in raw materials and natural elements, remembers that "the uniqueness of the Church as pointed out by Pope Bergoglio, lies in an encounter with Christ". "He may also work for the poor - continues Msgr. Frigeni - but his work should not be confused with that of any humanitarian organization. The Church is not an NGO, its mission is to evangelize, starting from the unity of its people" .
As evidence of renewed missionary commitment of the pope, also thanks to his belonging to the Jesuits, the Italian-born prelate describes a concrete example that actually comes from Parintins. "Increasingly vocations are being born, as confirmed by the choice of a young nun who left the Amazon to go on mission to Hong Kong. At the same time, we have some sisters from Papua New Guinea. This - adds Msgr. Frigeni - is the missionary spirit proposed over the years by then Card. Bergoglio. Mission is the most precious gift that unites Latin America to the rest of the world and is the most obvious and tangible sign of the vitality of the South American Church. " Tracing the path of some great figures in the history of the Church in Asia, such as St. Francis Xavier, Matteo Ricci and Roberto de Nobili, shows that the "Gospel becomes the proposal and answer for the people and the way to satisfy the desire for the infinite that is within in the heart of every man. " At the same time, the commitment to inter-religious dialogue and peace emerges from the reference to "the saint of Assisi whose name he chose", demonstrating that the new pope "wants to go straight to the essentials, stripped of everything."
Finally a thought to the World Youth Day 2013, held in late July in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to which Msgr. Frigeni will go as a delegate in charge of the youth ministry of the bishops of the Amazon. "It will be an important moment of encounter and engagement with young people - said the bishop - but an important test for us as priests and bishops. We will ask Pope Francis, during the meeting, for his blessing, as he has asked for God's through his people on the evening of his election. We will ask him to pray that we can be free from appearances, so that we can live and love silence as a place of listening to Another voice. "