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Pope Gives New Bishops 3 Ways to Make Mercy Pastoral

Francis Urges Them to Entrust Themselves to God as His Children, Abandon Themselves to His Love

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Pope Francis has given new bishops three ways to make mercy pastoral.
Receiving the participants in an annual course of formation for new bishops, organized jointly by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on Friday in the Vatican, he gave the new bishops some advice about how to best live out their ministry.
The Holy Father had begun his discourse stating how happy he was to receive to receive them and share some thoughts with them, some «which come to the heart of the Successor of Peter, when I see before me those who have been “caught” by God’s heart to guide His Holy People.»
The thrill of having been loved first
«Yes! God precedes you in His loving knowledge!» Francis stressed, noting, «He has “caught” you with the hook of His amazing mercy. His nets were mysteriously tightened and you could do none other than let yourselves be captured.
«Do not be ashamed,» he reminded, «of the times when you were also touched by this distance from God’s thoughts. Instead, abandon the pretext of self-sufficiency and entrust yourselves as children to Him who reveals His Kingdom to little ones.»
Admiral condescension!
The Holy Father stressed how good it is to let oneself be «pierced» by the loving knowledge of God. «It is consoling to know that He truly knows who we are and is not alarmed by our smallness. It is reassuring to keep in our heart the memory of His voice that in fact called us, despite our insufficiencies,» he said.
«It gives peace to abandon oneself to the certainty that it will be Him, and not us, who will bring to fulfillment what He Himself has initiated.»
Cross the heart of Christ, the true Door of Mercy
Pope Francis urged the new bishops to always keep their eyes fixed on Christ, never letting their gaze stray from Him. «The most precious richness you can take from Rome at the beginning of your episcopal ministry is the awareness of the Mercy with which you were looked at and chosen.»
«The only treasure that I ask you not to let rust in you is the certainty that you are not abandoned to your own strength. You are Bishops of the Church, participants of one Episcopate, members of an indivisible College, firmly grafted as humble shoots onto the vine, without which you can do nothing (John 15:48).
«Because now you cannot go along anywhere, because you carry the Bride entrusted to you as a seal imprinted on your soul, in crossing the Holy Door , do so carrying on your shoulders your flock: not by yourselves! — with the flock on your shoulders, carry in your heart the heart of your Bride, of your Churches.»
The task of rendering Mercy pastoral
To render mercy pastoral, Francis stressed, is not an easy task. «Do not be afraid to propose Mercy as the summary of all that God offers to the world, because man’s heart cannot aspire to anything greater.»
«As my venerable and wise Predecessor taught,» Francis said, quoting Benedict, «it is ‘Mercy that puts a limit to evil. In it is expressed the altogether peculiar nature of God – His holiness, the power of truth and of love.’ It is ‘the way with which God opposed the power of darkness with His different and divine power,” in fact “that of Mercy’ (Benedict XVI, Homily, April 15, 2007). » 
Therefore, Francis highlighted, do not let yourselves be frightened, but rather «keep intact the certainty of this humble power with which God knocks at the heart of every man: holiness, truth and love.»
Three recommendations to render Mercy pastoral:
Pope Francis then offered three little thoughts on how to render mercy pastoral, «namely, how to make it accessible, tangible, to be found.»
Be Bishops capable of enchanting and attracting.
«Make of your ministry an icon of Mercy, the only force capable of seducing and attracting in a permanent way the heart of man,» he said.
«God never gives up! It is we who, used to surrendering, often accommodate ourselves, preferring to let ourselves be convinced that they have really been able to eliminate Him and we invent bitter discourses to justify the sloth that blocks us in the immobile sound of vain complaints.»
Be Bishops capable of initiating those who have been entrusted to you
The second point the Pope also stressed was to always use mercy: «He reminded them that Christ is the face of Mercy. In Him,» Francis noted, «remains a permanent and inexhaustible offer; in Him it proclaims that no one is lost – no one is lost!»
«Everyone is unique for Him!» he said.
«Be Bishops capable of initiating your Churches in this abyss of love, which means having healthy intimacy with God and go out to others. «Do not deprive seminarians of your firm and tender paternity.»
Be Bishops that are capable of accompanying
After making the third recommendation to always accompany, Francis blessed all the bishops, adding that he will ask the Lord to walk with them and give them the courage to walk with Him. «It is His face that attracts us, is imprinted in us and accompanies us. So be it!» he said.
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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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