In an audience this morning with the Bishops of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Pope Francis called on them “to promote a solid social pastoral ministry in relation to the faithful.”
The prelates are in Rome for their ad Limina Apostolorum visit. The visit comes ahead of the Holy Father’s Apostolic trip to Sarajevo in June.
In an address handed to the Bishops, the Holy Father emphasized the Holy See’s care for Church in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Their church, he said, are “the heirs of many martyrs and confessors, who during the troubled centuries-long history of the country have kept the faith alive”.
The Pope wrote in regards to the social issues that challenged their country, particularly migration.
“It evokes the difficulty of return for many of your co-citizens, the scarcity of sources of work, the instability of families, the emotional and social laceration of entire communities, the practical precariousness of many parishes, and the still fresh memories of conflict, both at a personal and community level, in which wounded hearts are still painful,” he wrote.
The Holy Father assured his support to the prelates, calling on them to continue to help those who are most weak.
“The society in which you live has a multicultural and multi-ethnic dimension. And you have been entrusted the task of being fathers to all, in spite of material limits and the crisis within which you work,” he stated.
“May your heart always be large enough to accommodate all, just as the heart of Christ is able to receive in itself – with divine love – every human being.”
The 78 year old Pontiff also highlighted the dimensions of their ministry, saying that they are “pastoral, ecumenical and interreligious.”
Stressing that while their work must have respect for all, they are not absolved from “the need to give open and frank testimony of your belonging to Christ.”
“The priests, men and women religious and lay faithful, who live in close contact with citizens of different religious traditions, are able to offer you valid advice regarding your mixed communities,” he wrote. “I consider an approach of this type to be wise as it may bear the seeds and fruits of pacification, understanding and collaboration”.
Reminding them of this year, which is dedicated to Consecrated Life, the Holy Father underlined the need that all charisms and ministries are destined for God’s glory and the salvation of men and women.
Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged the Bishops to work in unity with the Church and in communion with the Successor of St. Peter.
“One word alone emerges spontaneously from my heart: you are in communion,” he stated. “Although at times imperfect, such communion is to be pursued vigorously at all levels, setting individual peculiarities aside. It is necessary to act on the basis of your belonging to the same Apostolic College; other considerations are of secondary importance and are to be analyzed in the light of the catholicity of your faith and your ministry.”
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