Praying for cardinals and bishops who died in the past year, Pope Francis urged people to remember the priestly witness they gave.
Some of the bishops, he said, had been “called to witness to the Gospel in a heroic way, enduring heavy tribulation.”
The Vatican booklet for the Mass on 4th November listed by name the seven cardinals and 136 bishops from around the world who died since 25th October 2015. The deceased included five bishops from mainland China, all of whom had served time in prison or labour camps because of their ministry.
The deceased cardinals and bishops, Pope Francis said, were pastors who dedicated their lives to serving the people entrusted to them. They offered the sacraments, preached the Gospel and, with a father’s love, “tried to love everyone, especially the poor, the defenseless and those in need of help.”
“In the name of the God of mercy and forgiveness, their hands blessed and absolved,” the pope said. “Their words comforted and dried tears; their presence witnessed eloquently that the goodness of God is inexhaustible and his mercy is infinite.”
Remembering the deceased cardinals and bishops, he said, Catholics give thanks to God for their gift of their lives and confidently pray that God would welcome them into his kingdom.
Picture: Pope Francis celebrates Mass in St Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican in remembrance of cardinals and bishops who died in the past year. (CNS photo/Paul Haring).