Mexican Prelates Impressed by Benedict XVI

Tell of Pope’s Keen Interest in Their Dioceses

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ROME, SEPT. 4, 2005 ( Mexican bishops making their five-yearly visit to the Holy See are finding Benedict XVI to be affable, simple and very interested in their country.

From the bishops themselves, one hears about a Pope who is very different from the one portrayed by sectors of the world press that describe him as distant and overly rational.

Mexican prelates who have been meeting privately with the Pope told ZENIT that he is a shepherd of the universal Church who is concerned about their dioceses.

«It was a wonderful meeting, because of the affability, closeness and simplicity of the Holy Father,» said Bishop Braulio Rafael León Villegas of Ciudad Guzman.

He said the issues that seemed to most interest the Pontiff as the priority are priestly vocations and seminaries.

«One of the questions he asked me was how the promotion of religious vocations is going in the diocese; to be informed and to awaken more vocations,» said Bishop León Villegas, 60.

Delicate, attentive

Bishop Gonzalo Galván Castillo of Autlan said that the Pope’s affability is very much part of his nature. He described Benedict XVI as «a Pope who opens his heart to us, who is kind, delicate and attentive.»

«The Pope shares our pastoral concerns: for example, how we get along in the presbytery of Autlan, our communion, closeness to one another, priestly and religious vocations, the seminary, the influence of tourism in the coastal areas, the faith’s response in indigenous communities, the extent of our care, given their poverty,» said Bishop Galván, 54.

The Autlan prelate added that «the Pope inspires in the bishops a new vitality, encouraging them to motivate communities toward unity and spiritual growth in the dioceses.»

Bishop Javier Navarro Rodríguez of San Juan de los Lagos, observed the Pope insisted much on commending the ministry of priests and vocations to the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Benedict XVI «was very happy that there are numerous vocations in my diocese and that we are sharing priests with dioceses in great need and dioceses from outside,» said Bishop Navarro, 55. «He emphasized very much the mission within and outside the Church, as is the case of our priests who are missionaries in Chad.»

Bishop Navarro said the Pope is also very concerned about the preservation of family values and the sanctity of marriage.

«The Holy Father greatly encouraged us to continue working with families,» he said. «He knows that the seed of vocations is there, and nothing concerns him as much as religious vocations.»

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