Pope Francis has told the Bishops of England and Wales to spread his message of joy.
The bishops revealed the Holy Father’s message in a final statement from Rome following their ad Limina visit.
The bishops spoke with the pope for over two hours on Friday 28th September, an experience they described as ‘remarkable and intimate’.
‘We asked the Holy Father for a message which we could bring back to our dioceses, to our priests and people. His message was simple: we are to live the gift of our faith with joy. Joy was his great emphasis,’ the bishops said in their official report of the meeting. ‘He explained that this joy is rooted firmly in our relationship with Jesus. It is a joy of knowing that he is with us; of knowing the presence of the Holy Spirit at work in our lives, drawing and guiding us towards the will of God; a joy of knowing our Heavenly Father is waiting for us, longing to hold us in his embrace of loving mercy. This is the joy of the faith by which we are to live. He added that this joy is the source of lasting peace in our hearts and lives, no matter our circumstances.
‘As we spoke with Pope Francis we realised, more and more, that he simply radiates this joy and peace. He is indeed gifted with a unique grace of the Holy Spirit of God,’ they added.
The meeting took place against the backdrop of the clerical abuse scandal and the bishops said the pope ‘spoke, movingly, of the wounds inflicted by abuse and neglect, wounds that wreak such harm in the lives of its victims and in the life of the Church’.
The bishops said the pontiff also encouraged them, in their pastoral work, ‘never to neglect even the tiny flames of faith that exist in so many communities and people’.
Picture: Pope Francis meets at the Vatican with bishops from England and Wales on 28th September. The bishops were making their ad Limina visits to Rome to report on the status of their dioceses, pray at the tombs of the apostles and meet with a variety of Vatican officials. (CNS photo/Vatican Media).