Pope Francis on Friday told bishops that division, gossip and money are weapons in the hands of the devil.
Speaking to a group of recently appointed bishops of mission countries at the end of a formation course organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Pope said each bishop is called to give testimony of God’s love, care and mercy with their own lives and example.
Pointing out that bishops of mission countries come from places that are “different and distant”, each of you – Pope Francis said – has “the great privilege and responsibility of being on the front lines of evangelization”.
Inviting them never to forget that one of their foremost duties is to respond immediately to the requests and needs of their priests, the Pope warned them against the evils that can wreak damage and destroy their mission to evangelize.
He reminded them that a missionary bishop’s first duty as a pastor is to reach out to the lost sheep and to bring the joy of the gospel to those who perhaps do not know Jesus or have rejected him.
He spoke of the vocation of the episcopal ministry saying that each bishop is called give testimony of Jesus’s care and love for all men and women also through their own personal example.
And he warned of the dangers that can foil this vocation mentioning specifically the factors that – he said – become weapons in the hands of the devil bent on destroying the Church.
“The devil – he said – has two weapons: the main one is division; the other is money”.
And saying that the devil slips in through one’s pockets and wreaks havoc through ‘the tongue’, Pope Francis described the tendency to gossip as “a terroristic” one.
“He who gossips is a terrorist who throws a bomb” – because gossip, he said, destroys.
Urging those present to fight against divisions which can destroy the local Church and the universal Church, he said there are many difficult challenges to overcome, but thanks to the grace of God, thanks to prayer and thanks to penitence, it is possible.
Pope Francis concluded his address to the new missionary bishops urging them to take good care of the people of God who have been entrusted to them, to take good care of their priests, and of their seminarians. “This – he said – is your job”.
The Lord presents himself each day and knocks at the door of our heart.