We can't be content with "pastoral plans that never get put into practice."
After a meeting with Colombian bishops earlier today, Pope Francis addressed representatives of all of the bishops of Latin America, telling them they must put “passion” into their mission of fostering hope in the region.
The Successor of Peter thanked the Latin American Episcopal Conference (CELAM) for being a “center for fostering a sense of discipleship and missionary spirit.” It is also a “vital point of reference for the development of a deeper understanding of Latin American Catholicism,” he said.
However, the pontiff added, if they want to serve Latin America, the bishops of CELAM must do it “with passion.”
Unfortunately, he said, this is”often lacking” today. “We need to have the passion of young lovers and of wise elders,” he insisted. “Do not be content with the palaver and the proposals found in pastoral plans that never get put into practice.”
Ensure hope takes a concrete shape
“The Latin American heart has been taught by hope,” he continued, and its people “have learned that no disappointment can crush it.” The Church cannot just be a “sacrament of hope”: It must “watch over how that hope takes concrete shape.”
In Latin America, “hope has a young face,” the pope said. The bishops must “pay no attention to caricatures” of youth as being unmotivated or mere pawns of consumerism or crime; rather, Francis invited the bishops to “look them in the eye and seek in them the courage of hope.” The Church must “encourage them to stake their lives on God.”
The Church must also rely on “women who keep patiently kindling the flame of faith.” Without women, the Church cannot open “a new and living chapter of faith in this continent.” Women are “on the front lines” of the Church, which must “understand, respect, appreciate and promote the ecclesial and social impact of all that they do.”
For this mission, “recovering unity is imperative,” said Francis. “How greatly we need to be recollected, within and without,” he lamented. In today’s circumstances, he said, the bishops must “encounter anew the heart of the Church’s mission in Latin America.”
Indeed, unity is always found “in Jesus.” He is the one who ignites the “generosity and enthusiasm that burn in the heart of the missionary.” Thus, the pope urged pastors of Latin American to “deepen [their] call” and “set out on mission with Jesus today.” “The mission is carried out by one to one contact,” insisted the pontiff.