Pope to North African Bishops: Personal Encounter with Jesus is at the Heart of Your Mission

Calls on Prelates to Remain Close to Priests and Religious During Ad Limina Visit

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In a meeting with the Regional Episcopal Conference of North Africa during their Ad Limina visit, Pope Francis praised their Christian witness and courage in the face of trials and persecution.

The Holy Father began his address by recalling the saints and blesseds from the region who have left a «spiritual patrimony for all the Church». Among those he mentioned were St. Cyprian, St. Augustine and Blessed Charles de Foucald.

He also noted the bravery of the bishops including those suffering in areas known for persecution against Christians. The Pope noted in particular the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laypeople of Libya, who he praised for their «courage, loyalty and perseverance» despite the dangers they face.

«They are genuine witnesses of the Gospel,» he said. «I thank them with all my heart and encourage them to continue their efforts in contributing to peace and reconciliation throughout the region.»

Commenting on their Ad limina visit, the Jesuit Pontiff said that their visit provides on opportunity to renew their commitment to the Church. He also stressed the importance of their closeness with their priests and religious men and women.

“It is particularly important to be close to them and to be attentive to their continuing formation so that they can live their ministry fully and serenely,» he said. «Men and women religious also have a special place in the life and in the mission of your Church, and I thank them for their witness of fraternal life and their generous commitment to the service of their brothers and sisters.»

The Pope went on to stress the importance of the bishops of preserving the spiritual patrimony in North Africa.

“I am pleased to hear that in recent years, various Christian shrines have been restored in Algeria. By welcoming all, kindly and without proselytizing, your communities show that they wish to be a Church with open doors, always reaching out,» he said.

“Universality is a feature of these Churches, where the faithful come from many countries to form living communities. This offers the opportunity to admire God’s work, which spreads among all peoples and all cultures.»

Concluding his address, Pope Francis highlighted the need for the Church in North Africa to be a place of encounter and dialogue for all without distinction, especially the poor, the sick, the elderly, women in need and the imprisoned.

«Recognizing their human dignity and working to awaken consciences before so many human tragedies, you show God’s love for each one of them,» he said. 

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Junno Arocho Esteves

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

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