Pope Francs called on Peru’s bishops to be builders of unity, citing the example of Saint Turibius of Mogrovejo, Archbishop of Lima, and Patron of Latin American Episcopate. His remarks came on January 21, 2018, in a meeting with the Bishops in the Archbishop’s Palace in Lima, Peru.
The Holy Father noted that the Saint is often referred to as “The New Moses” and there is a portrait of him in the Vatican that shows him crossing a great river. He explained that for the great saint more was involved than simply getting from one side of the river to the other.
The Pope continued: “His faith and his trust in the Lord impelled him, then and for the rest of his life, to get to the other shore, where the Lord himself was waiting for him in the midst of a great crowd.” According to the Pope, Turibius became a great building of unity and hope, crossing to the “other shore.”
First, rather than stay in the relative comfort of the bishop’s residence, he traveled across his diocese, going where the people were and where he was needed. In 22 years as a bishop, he spent 18 on the road.
“He knew that this was the one way to be a pastor: to be close to his own, dispensing the sacraments, and he constantly exhorted his priests to do the same,” Francis said. “He did so not only by words but by his witness in the front lines of evangelization.”
Second, Turibius wanted to get to the other shore from a cultural standpoint. Thus, he presented the faith in the native language.
“With the Third Council of Lima he provided for catechisms to be compiled and translated into Quechua and Aymara,” the Pope explained. “He encouraged the clergy to learn the language of their flock in order to administer the sacraments to them in a way they could understand.”
Third, the saint crossed the river for the sake of charity: “For our patron, there could be no evangelization without charity. He knew that the supreme form of evangelization is to model in our own lives the self-giving of Jesus Christ, out of love for every man and woman.”
Fourth, the Pope recalled that the saint wanted the natives to be able to become priests: “He realized that it was not enough to visit everywhere and to speak the same language: the Church needed to raise up her own local pastors and thus become a fruitful mother.”
Fifth, Pope Francis pointed to Turibius as a promoter of unity: “In an admirable and prophetic way, he worked to open up possibilities for communion and participation among the different members of God’s people.”
Sixth, when the saint left this world, he did so surrounded by the faithful: “He was a pastor who packed ‘his bags’ with names and faces. They were his passport to heaven. I would not like to pass over this final chord, the moment when the shepherd surrendered his soul to God. He did so in the midst of his people, and a native played a song on his chirimía so that the soul of his pastor would feel at peace.