Francis Gives Benin's Bishops Ingredients for a Fruitful Church

Pontiff Tells West African Bishops That Synod Will Attempt to Answer Big Family Challenges They Face

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Support families, pursue the formation of young people and promote interreligious dialogue. This was the recipe Pope Francis gave to the bishops of Benin this morning who are in Rome for their Ad limina Apostolorum visit.

“Parish life is animated, the faithful participate in large numbers in the celebrations, conversions to Christ are many and priestly and religious vocations,» the Pontiff observed about the enthusiastic and visible expression of the faith of the Catholics in Benin. 

Yet, Francis went on to acknowledge that the bishops face many problematic issues, especially «major challenges related to family, to which the next Synod in Rome will attempt to answer.” 

“Continue with determination efforts to support families, both in their faith in their daily lives,” he urged. 

Francis also acknowledged that marriage ministry is a difficult one, “given the concrete situation, social and cultural life” of the people, but, in spite of that, he told the bishops to persevere.

The family, he reminded them, is «a gift from God that brings, for people and communities, joy, peace, stability, happiness.” It is, he repeated, the basic unit of society.

Youth and education are challenges the bishops’ face, the Pope said, adding that the opening of schools is a success they should be proud of.

The Jesuit called for the bishops to promote interreligious dialogue and learn from others’ cultures.

Since Benin exemplifies «harmony between religions on its territory,» he stressed that it is even more necessary for bishops «to be vigilant, given the current global climate, in order to preserve this fragile heritage.” 

For your country to move forward, he said, continue promoting harmony and justice in your local Churches.

“It is necessary to go courageously against the current, struggling against the culture of ‘waste’ spread everywhere, and disseminating Gospel values of hospitality and encounter,” the Pope underscored.

Before concluding, the Pope reminded them about the importance of charity and how to use their great number of vocations in the best possible way.


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Deborah Castellano Lubov

Deborah Castellano Lubov is Senior Vatican & Rome Correspondent for ZENIT; author of 'The Other Francis' ('L'Altro Francesco') featuring interviews with those closest to the Pope and preface by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Parolin (currently published in 5 languages); Deborah is also NBC & MSNBC Vatican Analyst. She often covers the Pope's travels abroad, often from the Papal Flight (including for historic trips such as to Abu Dhabi and Japan & Thailand), and has also asked him questions on the return-flight press conference on behalf of the English-speaking press present. Lubov has done much TV & radio commentary, including for NBC, Sky, EWTN, BBC, Vatican Radio, AP, Reuters and more. She also has contributed to various books on the Pope and has written for various Catholic publications. For 'The Other Francis': or

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