Pope Francis speaks to Italy’s Catholic bishops in ‘strictly private’ meeting

Hannah Brockhaus   By Hannah Brockhaus for CNA


Pope Francis addresses the Italian bishops’ conference in Rome, Nov. 22, 2021. / Vatican Media.

Rome, Italy, Nov 23, 2021 / 05:00 am (CNA).

Pope Francis spoke with the Italian bishops’ conference on Monday afternoon in what was a “strictly private” meeting, according to the Vatican.

The two-hour encounter took place at the Ergife Palace Hotel and Conference Center, around three miles from the Vatican, for the opening session of the bishops’ 75th Extraordinary General Assembly.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

According to a brief Vatican statement, at the beginning of the meeting, Pope Francis gave the 210 bishops a card with an image of the Good Shepherd and a meditation called “The Beatitudes of the Bishop.”

The eight “beatitudes,” which loosely correspond with the eight beatitudes spoken by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, appear to have originated with Archbishop Domenico Battaglia of Naples.

The 58-year-old Battaglia became archbishop of Naples in December 2020. Prior to the appointment, he was a parish priest in another southern Italian archdiocese, Catanzaro-Squillace, where he was called “Don Mimmo” and known as a “street priest” who cared for the marginalized.

Battaglia outlined the eight qualities of a bishop in a homily at the ordination of three auxiliary bishops for Naples archdiocese on Oct. 31.

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

The closed-door meeting took place six months after Pope Francis addressed the Italian bishops’ spring assembly on May 24.

The May meeting was live streamed until the video feed was abruptly cut off by Vatican Media roughly five minutes in.

Before giving unscripted remarks about Italy’s synodal journey, Pope Francis could be heard over the microphone asking those on stage if journalists were present in the room. After he was assured that the media were not present, the pope replied: “Good, so we can speak freely.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

Earlier that day, he had visited the offices of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication and spoken live on Vatican Radio about the importance of Vatican media reaching the people.

During the broadcast, he questioned the number of listeners the radio has, as well as how many people read the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, which was established in 1861.

The national conference’s fall assembly is taking place on Nov. 22-25 on the theme “Synodal Way of the Churches in Italy.”

Vatican Media.
Vatican Media.

At the beginning of the second day, conference president Cardinal Gualtiero Bassetti addressed the other bishops, saying that, in Pope Francis, “we recognize the Bishop of Rome and the successor of Peter, the one who received from Christ the task of ‘confirming his brothers.’”

“Our love and thanks go to him,” the archbishop of Perugia-Città della Pieve said. “As always, Pope Francis has addressed important words to us, which spur us to seize the opportunities of grace that this time offers us.”

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  1. Of course we can’t make a conspiratorial judgment on a secret meeting without admission of being conspiratorial. So what then? “The Good Shepherd and a meditation called The Beatitudes of the Bishop”, led by Archbishop “Don Mimmo” as affectionately known as Naples street priest. Are we getting somewhere? Are we rather baited to draw insurgent Catholics out of the weeds for easy target shooting? Il Poverello Don Francesco is a quick gunslinger when provoked by the ungracious. I remember well the shootout at the first Synod on the family a sort of OK Corral moment, except one man was doing all the firing, the many rapid potshots taken by Don Francesco at Pharisaical bishops, pretenders of Christ who “throw stones” at the beloved marginalized. Stones needless to say analogous to Church doctrine. I should stop here and pray for the best.

  2. Francis reportedly gave each Italian bishop a card on which was listed the beatitudes according to Francis.

    One “Blessed is the bishop who…dreams of the good even in the midst of evil, because he will be able to rejoice in God’s countenance, discovering his reflection in every puddle of the city of mankind.”

    I didn’t read more. That Francis thinks puddles in the cities reflect God’s face simply boggles the mind. Jesus, have mercy.

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