The Apostolic Nuncio to Canada, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, reminded the Canadian bishops of the graces they received on their ad limina visits to Rome last spring. He spoke to the bishops' annual plenary Sept. 25. Photo by Deborah Gyapong

Nuncio challenges bishops to build on ad limina visits to Rome

  • September 26, 2017

CORNWALL, ONT. – The Vatican’s representative in Canada has urged Canada’s bishops to build on the “moment of grace” and “fresh wind” of their ad limina visits to Rome earlier this year.

Speaking to more than 80 bishops and exarchs attending the annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi, the Apostolic Nuncio, reminded them of their various visits through the spring months to meet with Pope Francis and various dicasteries in Rome.

“I believe that for all, this was a moment of grace, a moment which you will keep as a living, tangible and unforgettable memory,” Bonazzi said.

“It remains true — and we are witnesses to this each day — that the Church is marked by many weaknesses and fragilities, for the simple reason that we who are the Church are weak and fragile,” the Nuncio said. “But, however weak it may be, the Church has a very reliable guide given her by Christ.”

He quoted Pope Francis, who said, “Peter … is not a great stone; he is a small stone, but taken up by Jesus, he becomes the centre of communion.”

The Nuncio had praise for the Pope. “Without any wish for triumphalism, but with a peaceful realism, we can say: ‘What other society has at this time a guide as authoritative and as recognized as Pope Francis?’”

He spoke of how the Church is founded on the Apostles and Peter, their leader, and “on their successors, the bishops in union with the successor of Peter.”

He challenged the bishops to be mindful of their mission.

“The Second Vatican Council teaches us that ‘in the person of bishops assisted by priests, it is the Lord Jesus Christ, supreme pontiff, who is present among believers.’ ” It is important that bishops “be always accompanied by this awareness,” the Nuncio said.

“Are we up to the task? Are we capable?” he asked. “If we look at ourselves, if we look at our human capacities, the answer is certainly: no! But Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd who called us, is himself well aware that we are radically inadequate. He knows perfectly well that we are poor sinners.”

Although a bishop becomes one at his ordination, the Nuncio pointed out, “we are always in the process of becoming bishop, that every day we must learn — in order to grow within us, the stature of Christ the Good Shepherd, from whom we must learn each and every day the wise search” for the one thing necessary, the “salvation of souls.”

This requires a permanent, not an occasional, “spiritual apprenticeship,” both personal and “lived together,” he said.

He urged the bishops to stay close to their priests with “brotherly and paternal love,” noting the priests are the bishops’ first neighbours. Their brother bishops are also their first neighbours.

“Let us support one another,” he said. “Let us commit ourselves to cultivating and growing among ourselves the episcopal fraternity. Let us help each other to remain in that ‘spiritual apprenticeship; that will enable Jesus, in and through us, to continue, as Good Shepherd, to serve this land that is yours in Canada.”

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