Pope to bishops in Thailand: sheep are lost when shepherd gives them up for lost

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At the shrine of martyr Nicolas Bunkerd Kitbamrung, the pope met with the bishops of the country. There are fewer than 20, even after being accompanied by other Asian bishops and cardinals, such as Oswald Gracias from India.

The archbishop of Bangkok greeted him on behalf of all the prelates of the country, but also on behalf of the whole Federation of Asian Bishops' Conferences. He said the pope's visit is a great reason for celebration.

I welcome you to Thailand. We are honored by your presence among us here. 

Pope Francis reflected about Catholics' situations in places such as Thailand, where they are the minority. He encouraged them to recover the spirit of the first missionaries who evangelized in those lands, and gave them this advice.

I like to observe that the mission, even prior to things to be done or projects to be implemented, demands the cultivation of a gaze and a sense of smell. The mission calls for a paternal and maternal concern, because the sheep is only lost once the shepherd gives it up for lost, and never before.

He also reminded them that the laity is in the most direct contact with the local people and for this reason, they must be protagonists in evangelization.

Let us not lose sight that many of your lands were evangelized by laypeople. Let's not clericalize the mission, not let us clericalize the laity.

At the end, Pope Francis also advised them not to be carried away by discouragement or apathy. He said these are allies of the devil.

To wrap up the meeting, he asked them to pray so he could put everything he said into practice, then greeted each of the bishops one by one.

Javier Romero
Translated: Rachel Dobrzynski

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