Pope Opens Assembly of Italian Bishops

Pope Francis Gave the Bishops a Card with the Image of the Good Shepherd and the Beatitudes of the Bishop: A “Time of Grace” says Cardinal Bassetti

Pope Italian Bishops
The image of the Good Samaritan card given by the Pope to the bishops

Pope Francis met with the Italian Bishops, gathered in Rome’s Hotel Ergife for the 75th Extraordinary General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), being held until November 25 on the theme “Synodal Journey of the Church in Italy,” which began last May. The meeting lasted just under two hours and was strictly private, its contents not leaked either by Vatican sources or CEI.

he Pope’s prayer with the bishops (C) Vatican Media

The Holy Father left Casa Santa Marta at 3:30 pm. On his arrival, he was greeted by Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti, Archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve and President of CEI. Also present were the Vice-Presidents, Monsignor Erio Castellucci, Archbishop Abbot of Modena-Nonatola and the Bishop of Carpi, Monsignor Giuseppe Andrea Salvatore Baturi, Archbishop of Cagliari; Monsignor Antonino Raspanti, Bishop of Acireale and the Secretary General, Monsignor Stefano Russo.

The Pope’s Gift

The Holy Father answers a question (C) Vatican Media

The Pontiff opened the CEI’s Assembly works by giving those present a card with the image of the Good Shepherd and a text of the “Beatitudes of the Bishop.”

“Holy Father, thank you for having come out of your home once again to meet with us,” said Cardinal Bassetti in his greeting.  “It is for all of us a gift that is renewed after a few months. Allow me a joke: “We have not yet concluded the beauty contest!” he continued, referring to Pope Francis’ joke about the “location” of the Assembly, the same as last May’s.

The Collegiate Expression of Beauty

 “We certainly want to take part in a sharing that finds in collegiality and in synodality its most intense and lively expression, “continued CEI’s President. “These days Paul VI’s words have often come to mind, <expressed>  in the last public session of the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council. It was December 7, 1965. I was not a priest yet; I was to be Ordained in a few months, yet those words opened my heart, accompanying all my ministry,” he added.

‘The Church gathered in her intimate spiritual conscience, not to be pleased with erudite analyses of religious psychology or the history of her experiences [. . . ] but to rediscover in herself, living and working in the Holy Spirit, the word of Christ, to reflect in greater depth on the mystery [. . . ] and to revive in herself that faith [. . . ] and that love that obliges her to sing without pause the praises of God [. . .],’ said Paul VI.

(C) Vatican Media

This is the beauty to which we wish to aspire and that, in these days, we seek to vivify reflecting on the Synodal Journey of our Churches in Italy, which began with the General Assembly in May. It is an itinerary that is unfolding in all our territories, in all our communities, fully in tune with that of the Synod of Bishops.

A Time of Grace

 It is a time of grace for our Churches, for this Journey which has already started everywhere; with the meeting in Florence with your presence on February 27, to continue more profoundly the path undertaken at Bari in February of 2020. Finally, the pandemic permitting, your meeting with adolescents immediately after Easter. We pray to the Spirit to help us to take up and live the three opportunities you indicated last October 9, during the moment of reflection for the start of the Synodal Journey, namely, to be a “Synodal Church, a listening Church, a close Church.”

At the end of the meeting, which concluded around 6:00 pm, the Pope left the Ergife Hotel and returned to the Vatican, meanwhile planned for tomorrow at 9:00 am, is the introductory Report of the Cardinal President.

A Family Meeting, says Monsignor Russo

 In an interview with TV2000, the news of CEI’s broadcaster, Monsignor Russo commented: “It was a lovely family meeting. The note the Pope gave us today is an exhortation for the Bishop to be always a witness of mercy. The principal theme of this Assembly is the Synodal Journey of the Italian Churches. We are living the time of listening and, as always, the Pope is the first to witness it. He came among us Bishops today and he listened.”

“He listened to the Bishops that posed questions, and he took time in his answers. The Pope is truly very attentive to our realities. In every answer to each Bishop, he often mentioned something linked to the dioceses. It was truly a family meeting,” he concluded.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester