Bishop Ricken

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The Most Rev. David L. Ricken is the 12th bishop of the Diocese of Green Bay.

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Pope Francis: A new pope, a new approach

By Bishop David Ricken | February 26, 2014

It has been over a year since Pope Benedict XVI resigned his position as the chief shepherd of the universal church and almost a year since Pope Francis appeared on the balcony at St. Peter’s to give his first blessing to the city and to the world. He surprised everyone with his humble approach to accepting this office of universal pastor when he bowed his head and asked for the peoples’ blessing as he set out on the course of shepherding the church.

This was just the beginning of many surprises. In many ways, his activities and the changes he is working on have been a whirlwind of activity and new approaches.  We can best understand Pope Francis if we see him through the eyes of those whom he leads and serves, especially the marginalized, the poor and those who see themselves as outside the ranks of the church.

Understood in this way, we can see that his eyes are not so much fixed on those right in front of him, but on those who may not be at the banquet for whatever reason. Those who are or feel marginalized, for whatever reason. As we look at Pope Francis, we need to remind ourselves that Jesus came for everyone and that he is trying to touch everyone. In the Gospel of Luke, we read in chapter 19 that Jesus said, “Today salvation has come to this house because this man (Zacchaeus) too is a descendant of Abraham. For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost.” Jesus is showing us through Pope Francis that salvation has come to your house.

Those of you who are regularly going to church and who pray regularly reach out, first of all in prayer to those who have been lost or consider themselves lost, and then be like Pope Francis. Reach out and touch someone in the name of Jesus. Do it in little ways that show you love and care for someone who is not with us regularly. Be the touch of the Good Shepherd Jesus. For those of you who may be reading this very short column and feel you have been left out, or that you are on the peripheries of the life of the church, please feel welcomed home. Drop me a letter or send me a message by email. We miss you! The church loves you and we miss you. Let the touch of the gentle shepherd Jesus touch you! You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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