Pope Tells Swiss Bishops Their Church Cannot Be Just Another NGO

Also Says Without a Living Faith, Beautiful Churches Become Museums

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The witness of Christians and parishes, the Pope says, can help people achieve happiness.

During his meeting with Swiss bishops in the Vatican this morning, for the occasion of their Ad limina visit, the Holy Father decided rather than to read his remarks, to give them each the pre-prepared text, and greet them one by one, Vatican Radio reported.

In the text, the Holy Father urges the bishops that the Gospel is a powerful force that can counter a thinking that deliberately denies the transcendent dimension of man, of life and of human relations, especially in the face of suffering and death.

Here, he noted, the witness of Christians and parishes can really brighten the way and support the pursuit of happiness for people. In this way, Francis added, “The Church in Switzerland will clearly be the Body of Christ, the People of God, and not only a beautiful organization, another NGO.”

To keep the faith alive in Switzerland, the Holy Father also exhorted the bishops to look back on their nation’s long Christian tradition.

“Without a living faith in the risen Christ, the beautiful churches and monasteries gradually become museums, the commendable works and institutions lose their soul, leaving only empty spaces and lost people,” he observed.

The 77-year-old Pontiff reminded them that the mission entrusted to the bishops is to “feed the flock”. “The people of God cannot be without a shepherd,” he continued, adding that the role of bishops and priests is to serve the unity of the faith and ensure it is taught according to Church tradition.

In addition, the Pope noted that the Gospel has an inherent, original prepositive power, and that it’s the pastors’ job to make the full extent of this accessible to people experiencing difficulties in their everyday life.

When bishops do this, he explained, they must do so without tarnishing its beauty or weakening its appeal, particularly for people who are searching for meaning in their lives, or those who have turned away from the Church.

Our faith, Francis said, invites us to reach out to those with whom we come in contact, regardless of their culture, religion, or beliefs.

The Holy Father’s written remarks concluded, encouraging the bishops to continue their efforts for the formation of seminarians and stressing the role of the laity.

“The mission of the laity in the Church has an important place, because they contribute to the life of parishes and church institutions, whether as a full-time workers or volunteers,” Francis said.

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