In the fight against intolerance and exclusion, Christian communities are called “to give greater witness to their faith.”
These were the words of Pope Francis during an audience this morning with the Bishops of Mali. The African prelates are in Rome for their Ad Limina Apostolorum visit.
In his address, the Holy Father spoke on current situation in the country which is facing violent outbreaks between the government and separatists forces. He thanked the bishops for “knowing how to preserve the spirit of interreligious dialogue in this delicate context.”
“The common commitment of Christians and Muslims to safeguard the Mali’s cultural treasures, especially the large libraries of Timbuktu, patrimony of humanity, is an eloquent example,” he noted.
“When you return, I want you to express my nearness, not only to your faithful, but also to your fellow citizens of all social classes and religions, men and women of good will involved in the fight against intolerance and exclusion.”
The Jesuit Pope went on to say that Christian communities and their pastors are called to give “an even greater witness to their faith” based on the values of the Gospel.
Among the initiatives of the Mali bishops that the Pope mentioned was the translation of the Bible into the local languages as well as new catechesis manuals.
“Thanks to a solid formation, the lives of the faithful will be even more rooted in faith and strengthened to withstand all threats,” he said.
A Testament to Hope and Peace
Continuing his address, Pope Francis said that the notwithstanding the issues facing the country, the Church in Mali “shows a beautiful dynamic in its work of evangelization.”
Among the other issues he noted were divorce and polygamy. Catholics, he said, “are called upon to concretely proclaim, through their witness, to the Gospel, life, and the family.”
“I also encourage you to continue your pastoral work, paying particular attention to the situation of women: promoting the role of women in society and fighting against abuse and violence toward women is also a way of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who chose to be born of a woman, the Virgin Mary.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis congratulated the bishops in their defense of human dignity and solidarity in the face of increasing violence. He also encouraged them to continue their work in promoting “genuine national reconciliation.”
“Strengthened by the Lord’s promise to be with his family until the end of time, I am convinced that despite the difficulties on their path, the Church in Mali will continue to be a testament to hope and peace,” he said.
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On ZENIT’s website:
To read the translation of the Pope’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-mali-bishops-on-ad-limina-apostolorum-visit