In a speech to the bishops of Guinea, Pope Francis said Christian marriage must be lived without ambiguity, and stressed that only if Christians are united in love can they give witness to the truth.
Addressing the bishops at the end of their ad limina visit on Monday, the Pope said he was grateful for the great work of evangelisation that is taking place in Guinea, despite a lack of material resources. He also underlined unity, reconciliation and dialogue with members of other religions.
“Christ’s disciples form a living body that manifests the joy of the Gospel by the enthusiasm of faith, although the conditions under which the Good News is proclaimed are often difficult”, the Pope said.
“From a purely human point of view, the means of evangelisation may seem ridiculous,” he said. “Far from being discouraged, you must remember that this is the work of Jesus Himself, beyond all that we are able to discover and understand. However, for the Gospel to profoundly touch and convert hearts, we must remember that only if we are united in love can we give witness to the truth of the Gospel.”
The Pope added that discord between Christians “is the greatest obstacle” to evangelisation. “It favours the development of groups that exploit poverty and credulity to propose easy but illusory problems to the problems faced by the people,” he said. “In a world afflicted by many ethnic, political and religious conflicts, communities must be ‘authentically fraternal and reconciled’ for their witness to be ‘luminous and attractive’. God will give us the grace, if we know how to receive it, to render unity greater than conflict”.
Pope Francis went on to remark that, for the proclamation of the Gospel to be fruitful, all existence must be coherent with what is proclaimed. He thanked the bishops for having instituted centres for the formation of laypersons and catechists for this purpose, and he urged them to support families in which Christian marriage must be lived without ambiguity, given that polygamy is very widespread within the country.
He also suggested that they encourage the young to “bear witness to their faith, by committing themselves within society, thereby demonstrating their attachment to their country.
“In collaboration with the different actors in social life, they must always be artisans of peace and reconciliation in the fight against the extreme poverty that Guinea faces,” he said. “In this respect, despite difficulties, I encourage you to deepen your relationships with your Muslim compatriots, mutually learning to accept different ways of being, thinking and expressing oneself”.
The Pope then turned his attention to religious who in Guinea “express the love of Christ in works of aid for the population, both in healthcare and in education and instruction … accomplishing a true act of evangelisation, and giving authentic testimony of God’s tenderness towards all mankind, especially the poorest and weakest; a witness that touches hearts and firmly entrenches faith”.
Despite a lack of resources, Francis urged the prelates always to support them, “both spiritually and materially so that they may courageously persevere in their work of evangelisation and social promotion”.
Finally, the Holy Father spoke about priests, who are still few in number in Guinea. The Holy Father congratulated them for the recent opening of the “Benedict XVI” major seminary which offered hope for the future. Priests who live their vocation with joy is essential for ensuring that the new priests “learn to live truly the requirements of ecclesiastical celibacy, and the proper relationship with material goods, rejecting worldliness and careerism – for the priesthood is not a means of social mobility – as well as a real engagement with the poorest,” he said.