Vatican City (Friday, 11/07/2014, Gaudium Press) The Bishops of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea Bissau, were received by Pope Francis on the occasion of their “Ad Limina” visit. The Holy Father pointed out that in these African countries often Christians are a minority and yet offer a generous and courageous witness to the Gospel. He urged the Bishops to work for a constructive dialogue with Moslems.
When Pope Francis met the Bishops of Senegal, Mauritania, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau, he said the visit was an opportunity for him and for the Bishops to strengthen the bonds of love between the particular Churches and the Church of Rome.
In the speech, Pope Francis quotes from his Apostolic Exhortation known as “Evangelii Gaudium” (Number 259) and encourages the Bishops to continue to support each other in ministry as Spirit-filled evangelizers because the Holy Spirit would also continue to unite and grant them the courage to proclaim the newness of the Gospel with boldness in every time and place. Pope Francis, however, told the Bishops that he understood the complexities of their regional conference in terms of language, geography, culture and history.
The Holy Father also spoke of the need for the laity, in the dioceses, to receive a solid doctrinal and spiritual formation if they are to bear witness to Christ in the environment of their communities. The Gospel must imbue society with the principles of the Gospel. Faith should not be marginalized in public life.
Pope Francis also advised the Bishops to continue paying attention to Family ministry because the family is the basic cell of society and the Church. It is in the family that the basics of the faith are taught.
With regard to priestly formation, Pope Francis told the Bishops, “Priestly formation is decisive for the future. Your countries experience very different situations, but the primacy of quality above quantity should always be important. I invite you to be close to your priests, especially those who are young, to ensure that after their ordination they continue with their formation, persevere in their life of prayer and are able to count on a spiritual guide. The Holy Father said.
Lastly, the Holy Father told the Bishops that while the Moslems are a strong majority, the Church must engage in constructive dialogue with Moslems. “More generally, it seems to me that it is important not to hesitate to occupy space that is essentially yours in civil society. I know that you work tirelessly for peace and reconciliation, especially in Senegal and Guinea-Bissau. I am happy about this. Maintain good relations with the political authorities in order to promote the official acknowledgement of Church structures. This will be useful in facilitating the work of evangelization. Some of you, such as the Bishops of Cape Verde, already benefit from the existence of a framework agreement between the state of Cape Verde and the Holy See. Even where the Church is in a minority or is completely at the margins of civil life, she is appreciated and recognized for her important contribution in the fields of human development, healthcare and education.