Earlier this week, in his opening address to the 181st plenary assembly of the Portuguese episcopal conference, its president, Cardinal José Policarpo, said that Pope Francis asked him twice to consecrate his ministry to Our Lady of Fatima.
"Pope Francis asked me twice to consecrate his new ministry to Our Lady of Fatima," the cardinal said.
"It is a request," he added, "that I can fulfill in the silence of prayer," but that would be better if "all the episcopal conference associated itself to the realization of this request. Mary will guide us in all our works and also in the way of fulfilling this desire of Pope Francis."
"We begin our works inspired in the two events that mark this present moment of the life of the Church: the Resurrection of Christ and the election of the new Bishop of Rome," continued the president of the episcopal conference.
Cardinal Policarpo reflected on the fact that in the short span of this pontificate, strong lines are emerging that "challenge our pastoral ministry." And he reminded that the Pope’s power cannot be understood in the light of the powers of this world. "The crowds need to be loved, attracted by the love of the good shepherd. In that love, charged with joy and tenderness, he spoke to us immediately of the importance of tenderness in our pastoral relations."
The cardinal specified that Francis "has given a privileged place to the poor, the marginalized, to all those who suffer." He was very clear in affirming that the model of the Church which attracts him is a poor Church at the service of the poor.
"He had the daring to translate that vision of the Church in the external symbols," added the patriarch of Lisbon.
The cardinal said that the Pope’s "predilection for young people" was seen immediately, as well as his "clear affirmation of the importance of the conciliar spirit, playing down tensions and currents
This message of hope, he continued, will certainly be translated into inevitable reforms in the life of the Church.
"Everyone speaks of the reform of the Curia," the cardinal noted, applying it to the local situation: "To correct something that we also see in our dioceses, which is to give priority to pastoral vitality, not allowing the administrative bureaucracy to take the first place."
"The Church will always be the place of conversion and forgiveness. And the Pope has already reminded us of two key aspects: God forgives by loving; only one who rejects love is not open to forgiveness. God forgives always; we are the ones who can grow tired of asking him for forgiveness," he added.
"Let us be open to the exigencies of surprise. In our diocesan structures there is also much to change, in the light of that pastoral priority of the Church," invited the patriarch of Lisbon.