Francis' Address to Czech Bishops

“A synergy is necessary between the clergy, the religious, and the lay faithful”

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Here is a translation of the Pope’s address Friday to prelates from the Czech Republic in Rome for their ad limina visits.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I receive you on the occasion of your visit ad limina Apostolorum, with which you renewed and consolidated the communion of the Church that is in the Czech Republic with the See of Peter. The meetings and cordial conversations of these days, in which you shared with me and with my collaborators of the Roman Curia the joys and hopes, as well as the difficulties and anxieties of the Communities entrusted to you, were for me the occasion to know better the situation of the Church in your regions. You are justly proud of the solid Christian roots of your people, whose faith goes back to the evangelization of Saints Cyril and Methodius. At the same time, you are aware that the adherence to Christ is not only the consequence of a past, though important, but it is the personal and ecclesial act which commits in the today of history every person and every community.

To foster in the faithful an adequate knowledge of Jesus Christ and a personal encounter with Him, you have been called first of all to increase timely pastoral initiatives geared to a solid preparation for the Sacraments and active participation in the liturgy. Necessary, among other things, is the commitment to religious education and for a qualified presence in the world of schools and of culture. There cannot be lacking on your part a vigilant and courageous opening to the new impulses of the Holy Spirit, who distributes his charisms and renders the lay faithful available to assume responsibilities and ministries, useful for the renewal and growth of the Church. To address the contemporary challenges and the new pastoral urgencies, a synergy is necessary between the clergy, the Religious, and the lay faithful. Each one in his own role is called to give a generous contribution so that the Good News  is proclaimed in every environment, also in the most hostile and distant from the Church; so that the proclamation can reach the fringes, the different categories of persons, especially the weakest and the poorest in hope. It is my heartfelt wish that, trusting in the words of the Lord, who promised to remain always present among us (cf. Matthew 28:20), you continue to walk with your people on the path of joyful adherence to the Gospel.

If the Church in your country was oppressed for a long period by regimes founded on ideologies contrary to human dignity and liberty, today you are confronted with other dangers as, for example, secularism and relativism. Necessary, therefore, besides a tireless proclamation of evangelical values is a constructive dialogue with all, also with those who are far from any religious sentiment. May the Christian communities always be places of hospitality, of open and calm confrontation; may they be agents of reconciliation and peace, stimulation for the entire society in the pursuit of the common good and in care for the neediest; may they be agents of the culture of encounter.

In face of the precarious conditions in which several bands of the society live, especially families, the elderly and the sick, as well as in face of the spiritual and moral fragility of so many persons, in particular young people, the whole Christian community feels called upon, beginning with its pastors, and especially the Bishop. He is called to offer Christ’s answer everywhere, dedicating himself unreservedly to the service of the Gospel, sanctifying, instructing and guiding the People of God. Therefore, I exhort you to be perseverant in prayer, generous in the service of your people, full of zeal in the proclamation of the Word. It will be your care to follow the priests with paternal affection: they are your principal collaborators, and their parish ministry requires timely stability, whether to carry out a profitable pastoral program or to foster a climate of trust and serenity in the people. I encourage you to promote in an ever more organic and capillary way the vocational pastoral, to foster especially in young people the search for the meaning and donation to God and to brothers. Your attention must also be turned to the family pastoral: the family is the important element of social life and only by working in favor of families can the fabric of the ecclesial community and of civil society itself be renewed. How can one not see, then, the importance of the presence of Catholics in public life, as well as in the means of communication? It also depends on them that a voice of truth is always heard on the problems of the moment and that the Church is perceived as allied to man, at the service of his dignity.

We all know the fundamental importance of union and solidarity between the Bishops, as well as their communion with the Successor of Peter. This fraternal union is equally indispensable for the efficacy of the works of your Episcopal Conference, which can also give you greater authoritativeness in your relations with the civil authorities of the country, both in ordinary life as well as in addressing the most delicate problems. In the economic field, it is necessary to develop a system that, taking account that the material means are allocated exclusively to the spiritual mission of the Church, guarantees to every ecclesial reality what is necessary and the liberty for pastoral activity. There must be careful vigilance so that ecclesiastical goods are administered with prudence and transparency, are protected and preserved, also with the help of trustworthy and competent laymen.  

Dear Brothers, I express my gratitude for the tireless pastoral work you carry out in your Churches and I assure you of my spiritual closeness and my support in prayer. On invoking upon you and your ministry the intercession of the Holy Virgin, I ask you please to always pray for me and I impart my heartfelt Blessing to you, to your priests, to the consecrated persons and to all the faithful.

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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