This afternoon, Pope Francis received in audience — in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Vatican Palace –, Bishops who support the Focolare Movement, and delivered the address that we translate below.
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Dear Brothers, welcome!
This year the theme is “The Mutual Love among Christ’s Disciples,” a topic that echoes the new commandment given by Jesus to his disciples. The opportunity of fraternal coexistence is a good thing, in which to share spiritual and pastoral experiences in the perspective of the charism of unity. As Bishops, you are called to bring to these meetings the full breadth of the Church, so that what you receive here is for the benefit of the whole Church.
Today’s society is in great need of the witness of a lifestyle that reveals the novelty given to us by the Lord Jesus: brothers who love one another also in their differences of character, of provenance, of age … This witness awakens the desire to be involved in the great parable of communion which is the Church. When a person perceives that “reciprocity of love among the disciples of Christ” is possible and is capable of transforming the quality of interpersonal relations, he feels called to discover and to rediscover Christ, opens himself to the encounter with Him, living and acting, and is stimulated to go out of himself to go to others and to diffuse the hope he has received as gift.
In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, Blessed John Paul II wrote: “To make the Church the home and the school of communion: that is the great challenge facing us in the millennium which is now beginning, if we wish to be faithful to God’s plan and respond to the world’s deepest yearnings.” And he adds: “Before making practical plans, we need to promote a spirituality of communion, making it the guiding principle of education wherever individuals and Christians are formed, wherever ministers of the altar, consecrated persons, and pastoral workers are trained, wherever families and communities are being built up” (n. 43).
“To make the Church house and school of communion” is truly essential for the efficacy of every commitment to evangelization, in as much as it reveals the profound desire of the Father: that all His children live as brothers; it reveals the will of the heart of Christ: that” they may all be one” (John 17:21); it reveals the dynamism of the Holy Spirit, his free and liberating force of attraction. To cultivate the spirituality of communion contributes, moreover, to make us more capable of living the ecumenical journey and inter-religious dialogue.
Dear Brothers, thank you for your visit! I hope that your meeting is a propitious occasion to grow in the spirit of collegiality, and to draw from your reciprocal love a motive of encouragement and renewed hope. May the Virgin Mary accompany you and support you in your ministry. I count on your prayers and assure you of mine. I bless all of you and the communities entrusted to you.[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]