VATICAN - Cardinal Filoni meets the Bishops of Equatorial Guinea, "pastors, fathers and brothers"

Monday, 22 May 2017 filoni   local churches   bishops   missionary animation  

Mongomo (Agenzia Fides) - The morning, May 22 was dedicated to the Bishops of Equatorial Guinea: the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, met them in Mongomo, and therefore he presided the Eucharistic concelebration with them.
In his speech, the Cardinal focused in particular on the importance of communion between Bishops, clergy, with members of consecrated life, and within the People of God. "United together as Pastors and Brothers, formed as the Apostles close to their Master, a body of people responsible for the Church of Equatorial Guinea", said Cardinal Filoni, who then reiterated: "You have been chosen by Christ to be pastors, fathers and brothers". Such paternity and fraternity must be especially expressed towards the priests, first collaborators, creating a climate of understanding and solidarity. The collaboration with the religious men and women must never lack: "In your Country – he recalled - you have a good presence of institutes of consecrated life, also thanks to the historical aid from Spain. These years of tireless missionary work, of educational and catechetical commitment, of silent work in the healthcare field, really deserve great appreciation. Try to support this valuable collaboration by helping all the institutes present in your territory even in their vocational work".
Among the problems to be faced, the Prefect drew the attention on "the infiltration of sects among the People of God. Where we withdraw or where we lose zeal, there the door to discord opens to sects". "You have been entrusted with the serious responsibility (munus) of teaching, governing, and sanctifying the people of God", he continued. Exercising such a task requires a permanent configuration to Jesus Good Shepherd. You have to feel, act and love like Him! Love your Church, work not for yourself, but for the good of the Church and the faithful entrusted to you". The Bishop, as the Father of the Diocese, "is one who listens and then decides; it means one who loves and has a farsighted gaze. This love and this responsibility must help others grow". In particular, he told the Bishops to be attentive to the formation of priests and to the care of new vocations.
The Bishop's paternity extends to the entire people of God: Today, the pastoral care of families has a crucial role, and this is why well-prepared parish leaders are needed. "In each parish, it is good to propose various social and spiritual initiatives, also using the collaboration of the movements that have developed in recent times, always under the leadership and responsibility of priests who work on the spot", he said. Thus, the parish becomes a place of growth, culture, and human development, capable of responding to the different needs of our faithful. And, more importantly, the parish must be the place of deep Christian life, encounter and evangelical proclamation".
"I thank you for everything you do; I urge you not to be tired of spreading the message of salvation that has been entrusted to us", concluded the Cardinal, recalling that Pope Francis "teaches us and gives us the example of coming out of the vision of a comfortable Church and pushes us to go towards the real and existential suburbs".
In the homily Cardinal Filoni went back to the importance of communion - "the Bishop must be a man of communion close to everyone, capable of sharing the life of the flock, including the poorest and most distant, the excluded and marginalized" - and on the missionary task of the Bishop. "Even though there are no persecutions against Christians in Equatorial Guinea today, as in many countries in the Middle East, Asia, and in some areas of Africa", said the Cardinal, "there are, however, several problems that threaten the Christian faith, in particular the aggressive activity of the sects, sorcery, envy, materialism, isolation and individualism, and the degradation of morality. In the face of such problems you must not be afraid. You must move forward with courage and confidence".
The book of the Acts of the Apostles teaches us that the work of evangelization is inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit, and "this must encourage you to put your Church in a permanent state of mission without fear", concluded Cardinal Filoni, reiterating that "missionary impulse is a sign of vitality and growth of a Church". (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 22/5/2017)