Pope Francis

Pope Francis

July 1, 2013
CINDY WOODEN
CATHOLIC NEWS SERVICE

VATICAN CITY – Tracing the characteristics he wants to see in candidates to serve as bishops, Pope Francis said they must be "pastors who are close to their people, fathers and brothers, who are meek, patient and merciful."

A good prospective bishop will "love interior poverty as freedom for the Lord" and live that externally with a simple lifestyle, the pope said.

As well, a bishop won't have the "mindset of a prince," he said June 21 during a meeting with nuncios and apostolic delegates.

Pope Francis said one of the most important tasks the nuncios have is studying the needs of vacant dioceses and helping him find appropriate candidates for the ministry.

"It's a delicate task," the pope said. "Beware of those who are ambitious, who seek the episcopacy."

SPOUSE OF HIS CHURCH

Pope Francis said the best priest to choose as bishop or the best bishop to choose to head a larger diocese or archdiocese is one who is wed to his diocese - "the spouse of one church, who is not constantly seeking another."

"I will comment (more) about this when it's not being recorded," the pope told the nuncios, who laughed.

Telling the nuncios and representatives that he wrote his speech himself after much thought and prayer, Pope Francis said he knows their ministries mean they often are nomads.

FAITH IN JESUS

"I've often thought, 'these poor men,'" they not only leave their homelands, but serve for a few years in one country, then are moved to another.

The one thing they must never leave behind, he said, is their faith in Jesus and their love for the Church.

If a nuncio is not always drawing on the strength of the Lord and not always focused on Christ and his Gospel, "he risks turning a holy mission into something ridiculous," the pope said.

"I know 'ridiculous' is a strong word, but it's true. Giving into the spirit of the world makes pastors, especially, ridiculous. We might gain some applause, but those same people who appear to approve of us will criticize us behind our backs."

Even though they don't have a parish or a diocese, nuncios and other Vatican diplomats are called to be pastors, the pope said. "Always seek the good, the good of all, the good of the Church and each person."