Pope Francis on Monday received in audience the bishops of the Portuguese Episcopal Conference, at the end of their “ad Limina” visit, and subsequently handed them a written discourse in which he praises, among other things, the growth of synodality as a style of pastoral life in the country’s particular Churches and various initiatives including the general enquiry on the beliefs and faith of the Portuguese people, the first response to which is the Note “Promoting pastoral renewal in the Church in Portugal” (April 2013).
The Pope also emphasised that the five-yearly reports of the bishops suggest that the Church in Portugal has more positive than negative aspects and lives serenely, guided by common sense, and is listened to by the majority of the population and national institutions, even though her voice is not always followed. The people are hospitable, generous, religious and peace-loving, and the episcopate is fraternally united. The priests are well-prepared both spiritually and culturally, and consecrated persons are faithful to the charism of their founders, while the laity expresses in the world the effective presence of the Church.
However, the Pope notes the abandonment of Christian practice by young people after their confirmation, precisely at an age at which they take up the reins of future life, and asked if this is perhaps due to a failure of catechesis to grow with them and to respond to their questions and concerns. He therefore invites the bishops to rethink the question of a global catechetical path covering different ages and offers them encouragement, recalling that the Lord assures His constant presence and His infallible assistance to the Church.