Pope Francis met with all Spanish bishops on their 'ad limina apostolorum' visit to the Vatican. It's the first time all of them gathered with the Pope.
Before the audience, the Pope met privately with the prelates from Santiago de Compostela and Oviedo. Some of them had already picked up Pope Francis 'way of speaking.'
- "Holy Father, I am delegate of the Pastoral for Youth and rector of the seminary.”
- "Almost nothing...”
- "We're a small diocese, but we're trying to make a fuss.”
- "Make a fuss, make a fuss!”
They gave Pope Francis gifts, letters and lots of greetings. In return, he asked for their prayers.
- "Pray for me. We'll see each other in a bit.”
Minutes later, they all gathered at the Consistory Hall. This time, Pope Francis welcomed all the visiting Spanish bishops.
The president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, Card. Antonio María Rouco Varela, recalled that then-Cardinal Bergoglio visited Spain in 2006.
CARD. ANTONIO MARÍA ROUCO VARELA
President, Spanish Episcopal Conference
"How can we forget the spiritual exercises you led for Spanish bishops in 2006, the same year you took part in the World Meeting of Families in Valencia.”
The Pope gave each bishop a written message, asking them to always search for new paths to the Gospel. He also expresses his concern for the mundane culture that "closes God into the sphere of private life and excludes Him from the public sphere.”
On March 11, the Spanish bishops will hold a Plenary Assembly, and the Pope jokingly reminded them.
- "I hope you have a good assembly. When is it, next week?”
- "Have fun!”
A total of 83 bishops will visit Rome in a two week period. For most them, the visit has an important meaning.
MSGR. JESÚS MURGUI
Bishop of Orihuela-Alicante (Spain)
"I was surprised by the easiness and closeness of Pope Francis. Also by the great interest he showed, his capacity to listen and pay attention to all the different opinions of the bishops present.”
MSGR. JULIÁN BARRIO
Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela (Spain)
"It was a joyful gathering, full of happiness. Also very bright. Very similar to today's weather.”
The Spanish Bishops didn't miss the chance to officially invite Pope Francis to visit Spain in 2015. That year that marks the fifth centennial of the birth of St. Teresa of Ávila.