CORNWALL, Ont.—Pope Francis is grateful for the support from Canada’s bishops during the present time of difficulty in the Church, says the Vatican’s ambassador to Canada.

Speaking Sept. 24 at the annual plenary of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Luigi Bonazzi said he met with Pope Francis earlier this month and relayed to him the many messages from bishops that reflect a “sense of community, this deep sense of community for what he is going through.”

“You were able to give him some encouragement,” said the Apostolic Nuncio. “We are so grateful he is able to stay calm in the storm that blows, and to give us stable leadership when some try to pull him and others in the Church down.

“We in the Church so desperately need the leadership he is giving us, which is a sure sign of the love of God for us,” he said. “He was very, very moved, and said it was a meeting of joy and consolation, and it gave me great joy,” the Nuncio said.

Archbishop Bonazzi told the bishops that the crisis afflicting the Church stems from what he called a crisis of communion, “a lack of unity.”

He said it is a crisis “in the soul, in the heart and in the behaviour of many believers.” 

“In the years of my ministry as priest and bishop, I have become increasingly convinced that communion is weak not because there are serious problems; but there are serious problems because the communion is weak,” he said.

“If a local church possessed abundant reserves of communion, it would be able to overcome the difficulties it encounters,” he said. 

But when the Church is in crisis, “the temptation of despair knocks at the door,” he said.

Archbishop Bonazzi quoted St. John Paul II who, at the threshold of the second millennium, recounted the story of the disciples who failed to catch any fish after trying all night. Jesus told Simon to set out into the deep and cast the nets. They caught so many fish, the nets were tearing, the Nuncio said.

Jesus will always surprise the Church with new “miraculous catches,” the Nuncio said.

“Turning the Church into a house of communion, this is the major challenge that faces us,” he said. Parishes, dioceses and homes need to become “schools of communion” as they work together.

The first level of communion is the Petrine Ministry of the Pope and the bishops in collegiality with him, said Archbishop Bonazzi. The second level is the communion of the priests with their bishops.

Living in unity, is “more important than letting me be absorbed by my own work,” he said. It also helps priests to “live with grace, chastity, poverty and obedience.” 

The third level regards communion with the laity and the promotion of their co-responsibility in the life and mission of the Church, he said.

Canadian Catholic News