Pope Francis signs the preface for a just released book by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Archbishop Emeritus of Genoa and former President of the Italian Bishops’ Conference.
By Linda Bordoni
“Pastor Dentro Chiesa, società e persona” (“Pastors within: Church, society and person”) is the title of Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco’s book just published by the Pauline Books & Media Publishing House in Italy.
Expressing joy for having been asked to write the preface to the work, Pope Francis says the Cardinal’s reflections derive from his considerations and reflections during his second mandate as President of the Italian Episcopal Conference.
He expresses appreciation for the spotlight the author shines on topics such as education, the family, poverty, and politics, “with the intention of tracing them back to their original principle”: the proclamation of Jesus.
“Faced with the anthropological mutation underway, which concerns not only the European context, but also, more generally, the entire world,” the Pope says the path is and remains education in the faith, in order to rediscover ‘the person’, starting from the mystery of Christ.
He adds that these pages are not just a tribute to history, but a guide on how bishops are called to read the signs of our times.
The bishop – the pastor – he says, must strive to set his gaze on his brothers and sisters in the Lord with an attitude of service and in the knowledge that his life “does not belong to him because it is given to God.”
“The pastor must proclaim the Word of God and incarnate it in church and personal life,” the Pope writes, noting that within this proclamation, and the journey that follows, lies the true joy of shepherds who carry “the smell of the sheep” , who live in the midst of their flock and are “fishers of men.”.
The Pope expresses appreciation for the title of this volume that, he says, suggests that bishops are “pastors within” and he calls on them to always fix their gaze on those who are wounded and excluded.
Cardinal Bagnasco, he continues, has managed to show us that the Church is a living, breathing organism, and not just a bureaucratic organization to which some would like to reduce it.
Concluding the preface, Pope Francis praises the literary work for the help and guidance it offers to all pastors of the Lord, and notes that it is recommended reading not only for bishops and their collaborators, but also for laypersons and for those Christians who feel ” distant” as it helps “stimulate thinking and live our times.”