ope Francis told the
Bishops: “Our mission
is to be for the Church
and for the world the
‘sacraments’ of God’s
closeness”. Our world
seeks this divine closeness, he said.
“The Church herself is lost when she
loses the life-giving tenderness of the
Closeness to God
“Closeness to God is the source of
the Bishop’s ministry”, said the Pope,
and “we exist to make this closeness
palpable”. But we cannot communi-
cate God’s closeness without expe-
riencing it, Pope Francis continued.
“Without the closeness to the Sower”,
we cannot accompany the growth of
the seed “with patient confidence”.
Closeness to God’s people
“Closeness to the people entrusted
to us”, the Pope continued, “is our
essential condition”. “Jesus loves to
approach His brothers and sisters”
through His Bishops, he said, through
their comforting hands; through their
words, proclaiming the Gospel, and
not themselves; through their hearts,
“when they are charged with the
joys and sorrows of our brothers and
“We have to proclaim with our lives
a measure of life different from that
of the world”, said Pope Francis: “the
measure of a love without measure”.
Closeness of the Good Samar-
“The closeness of the Bishop is not
rhetoric”, continued Pope Francis.
It is not about “self-referential
proclamations, but of real availabili-
ty”. Closeness uses concrete verbs, he
said, like those of the Good Samari-
tan: “not looking the other way, not
leaving people waiting and not to
sweeping problems under the carpet”.
The Pope encouraged the new Bish-
ops to “to stay in touch with people,
to devote more time to them than
to the desk”. The Good Samaritan
bandages wounds, and gets his hands
dirty. “To be close to the people of
God is to identify with them”, said
Pope Francis, to share their joys and
Closeness to the poor
“The thermometer of closeness is
the attention to the least, to the poor”,
continued the Pope. Living a simple
life is “to witness that Jesus is enough
for us and that the treasure we want
to surround ourselves with is made
up of those who, in their poverty,
remind us of Him”.
The Pope insisted he was not
speaking about poor people in terms
of abstract “data and social categories,
but concrete people, whose dignity is
entrusted to us as their fathers”. Fa-
therhood, he said, means being able
to see, to caress, to weep.
Closeness of listening
The Pope invited the new Bishops
to be “Apostles of listening”, men who
know how to listen to things that may
not always be pleasant to hear. He
told them not to surround themselves
with “yes men”.
He encouraged them to make
regular pastoral visits: to meet their
people and their pastors; to visit fol-
lowing the example of Our Lady, who
shows us how “to bring the comfort
of the Lord”.
Closeness to priests
Finally, the Pope urged the new
bishops to be especially close to their
priests who need to be “loved, accom-
panied and encouraged”.
“The priest is the closest neighbor
of the bishop”, said Pope Francis.
“Embrace them, and thank them in