Pope Calls on Lithuanian Bishops to Help Families, Vocations

Receives Prelates in Rome on their Ad Limina Apostolorum Visit

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«I encourage you, as Pastors, to give your contribution in this great work of discernment, and above all to care for the family pastoral [ministry], so that couples can feel the closeness of the Christian community and be helped to ‘not be conformed to the mentality of this world but to renew itself continuously in the spirit of the Gospel.'»

These were the words of Pope Francis today during a meeting with the Bishops of Lithuania. The prelates are in Rome for their ad limina Apostolorum visit, which all bishops must undertake every 5 years.

After welcoming them to Rome, the Holy Father noted not only the youthfulness of the Lithuanian bishops, but also the heroism of those present who endured persecution during the Soviet occupation in 1940. «Thank you for your witness of Jesus Christ and for your service to the holy people of God!» the Pope exclaimed.

However, the Holy Father said that while the Church in Lithuania has overcome past hardships during persecution, in today’s world they face new dangers: the ideologies of secularism and relativism.

«For this reason, together with the inexhaustible announcement of the Gospel and Christian values, do not forget a constructive dialogue with all, even with those who do not belong to the Church or are far from the religious experience,» he said. «Take care that Christian communities may always be welcoming places, in an open and constructive way, as a stimulus for the whole society in the pursuit of the common good.»

Commitment to Families, Vocations and the Poor

Pope Francis reminded the bishops of the focus on the family this year for the Church, inviting them as well to contribute in the «great work of discernment» on how to help families face their challenges in this day and age.

«Even your own country, which has now entered fully into the European Union, is exposed to the influx of ideologies that wish to introduce destabilization elements of the family, the fruit of a misunderstood sense of personal freedom,» he said. «The age-old Lithuanian traditions, in this regard, will help you to respond, according to reason and according to faith, to those challenges.»

Focusing on the need for more attention to vocations to the priesthood and religious life, the Pope called on the Lithuanian prelates to «never tire in continuing to pray for vocations.» He also exhorted them to pay attention to the formation of priests, religious men and women and seminarians, particularly in their spiritual and moral life.

«Love your priests, try to always be very helpful when they look for you, and do not always wait for them to look for you, do not leave them alone in difficulties,» he stressed.  «Also have a particular heart for catechists, transmitting to them with your witness the joy of evangelizing.»

Rounding out his address, the Jesuit Pope called on the bishops to care for the poor and the homeless, saying that they must «be close to them.» He also urged them to care for those youth who leave the country to find a new path abroad.

«Their rising number and their needs require attention and pastoral care from the Episcopal Conference, so that they may preserve the faith and Lithuanian religious traditions,» he said.

Concluding his address, the Pope once again thanked the Lithuanian bishops and entrusted them and the Church in their country to the Virgin Mary.

«May She protect with Her mantle the priests, religious men and women and all the faithful and obtain for every community the fullness of the grace of the Lord,» he concluded.

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For the full text of the Holy Father’s address, go to: 


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Junno Arocho Esteves

Newark, New Jersey, USA Bachelor of Science degree in Diplomacy and International Relations.

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