Following is Pope Francis’ Message to the Bishops of France dated October 29, 2018, for the November 2018 Plenary Assembly, published on November 6, 2018, signed by Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
His Excellency Monsignor Georges Pontier
President of the Conference of Bishops of France
On the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Conference of the Bishops of France, gathered at Lourdes, His Holiness Pope Francis wishes to assure you of his prayer and of his spiritual closeness.
In a context rendered difficult, notably because of grave faults committed by certain members of the Church, the Holy Father encourages you to persevere in your fight against paedophilia, without ever forgetting to recognize and support the humble fidelity, lived daily with God’s grace, of so many priests, men and women religious, consecrated persons and lay faithful.
May the reception and the listening of victims, whose wounds will never have a ‘prescription,’ be able to affirm your determination in the implementation of zero tolerance and your work so that “each baptized person feels engaged in the ecclesial and social transformation of which we are in such need” (Cf. Letter to the People of God, August 20, 2018).
The Pope also wishes to associate himself to your thanksgiving for all that the Church in France has already accomplished in the service, accompaniment, and evangelization of young people, in particular at the heart of Catholic teaching.
In this effort, he invites you to invoke strongly the Holy Spirit so that the works of the recent Synod contribute, in France and in the world, to open “new ways in harmony with [the] expectations [of young people] and with the search for a profound spirituality and a more concrete sense of belonging” (Evangelii Gaudium, n. 1005).
Finally, the Holy Father encourages you to promote a culture of encounter at the heart of French society, acknowledging notably those stones of expectation that can contribute to making the living water of Jesus Christ gush in the heart of our contemporaries, who continue to seek the answer to the question of the meaning of life.
With this hope, and entrusting the Bishops of France, as well as their collaborators and their diocesans, to the intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes, of Saint Bernadette and of all the Saints that marked the history of your country, the Holy Father sends you his heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
Cardinal Pietro Parolin
Secretary of State of His Holiness
Translation by Virginia M. Forrester