Pope Francis has stressed to Mexico's bishops that despite the serious problems it faces, the Church in Mexico is “consolidated on strong pillars”.

He has also urged the bishops always to be faithful to the “dual transcendence": the first in prayer with the Lord, and the second with closeness to the people.

The Pope received the bishops of the Mexican episcopal conference at the Vatican earlier today, at the end of their five-yearly ad limina visit.

In his address, he stressed that fidelity to Jesus Christ must be lived as committed solidarity with the people and their needs. He noted the gravity of the problems from which Mexican Churches suffer, but said the country's Church "is established on very strong foundations."

The foundations, combined with their "very strong bond" with Mary, who "will not leave you alone in the face of so many painful problems," will protect your churches, he said.

"The only recommendation that I would do," the Pontiff told them, was to remind them of "double transcendence."

Explaining the term, he said the first transcendence is "prayer to the Lord, do not forget your prayer." The second transcendence is proximity to their own people. "With these two things, forward! With this double intention, forward!," he said. 

Francis also noted, "the many forms of violence that afflict Mexican society, especially the young, call for a renewed appeal to promote this spirit of harmony through the culture of encounter, dialogue and peace.”

He clarified that "it is certainly not for pastors to offer technical solutions or to adopt policy measures that are outside the scope of their pastoral ministry," but  “they must be tireless in their proclamation, to all, of the Good News.”

“I am aware of your work for those most in need,” such as those  who work in subhuman conditions, migrants in search of better living conditions, and farmers. “I know of your concern for the victims of drug trafficking and for the most vulnerable social groups, and your commitment to the defense of human rights and the full development of the individual.

All this, he said, which “is an expression of the 'intimate connection' between the Gospel and the search for the good of others contributes, without doubt, to the credibility of the Church and gives relevance to the voice of her pastors.”

The difficulties that may arise in the transmission of Christian faith between generations can be overcome, he said. “The young see with their own eyes the living witnesses of faith, that truly embody in their life what they profess with their lips." 

The family is the “basic cell of society and the first centre for evangelization, he said, urging them to intensify their pastoral care of the family.

After reminding the prelates of the importance of their proximity to priests and consecrated persons, he spoke on the care that must be offered to their formation and to future vocations.

“In this way”, he concluded, “we can bear witness to Christ in life even among the most distant, and reach out of ourselves to work with enthusiasm in the task that has been entrusted to us, keeping our arms lifted in prayer.” (D.C.L.)