Prevost: From the pope a new responsibility, communion and priority unit of the mission

The American Augustinian, who was appointed head of the bishops’ department in January, comments on the pope’s announcement yesterday of the new Consistory: “It was a surprise, I was following his speech and I heard my name first.” On September 30, the day the Synod begins: “I see this appointment as part of the conciliar spirit that the whole Church wants to live.”

Tiziana Campisi – Vatican City

His motto would be the one already chosen as bishop, “In Illo uno unum,” the words spoken by St. Augustine in a sermon, exposition of Psalm 127, to show that “although we Christians are many, in one Christ we are one.” Monsignor Robert PrevostAugustine abbot of the bishops, among the 21 cardinals whom Francis will create at the Council of Churches on September 30 and announced yesterday in the Angelus, he wants to continue to make them his own, to promote communion and unity in the Church.

to Vatican News – Vatican Radio Monsignor Prevost does not hide the astonishment that gripped him yesterday when he was listening to the Pope’s list of new cardinals. An American, he’ll be 68 when he dons his cardinal’s hat. In Pastoral Background Missions in Peru, various positions in the Order of Saint Augustine – formerly general, from 2001 to 2013 – nominate the bishopric of Chiclayo. On January 30 of this year Francis summoned him to the bishops’ department, whereupon he took office on April 12. About three months into his new assignment, it was a surprise that he was chosen to be a member of the College of Cardinals.

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Listen to the interview with Monsignor Robert Prevost

How did you learn about the news of the church in which Pope Francis will create a cardinal?

It was really a surprise. I have only been back in Rome for three months, and I did not think that only yesterday, in the month of July, during the Angelus, the Pope would make this proclamation. I was following his conversation and then I heard my name on the list first. I immediately thought we should pray, I thank the Pope for this confidence and then hope – but this is already since he appointed me prefect of the bishops’ department – to be able to answer for his confidence in me.

So what was he thinking in those moments?

I was surprised… Certainly I felt delighted, to acknowledge the mission entrusted to me–a very beautiful thing–and at the same time, with reverence and holy trepidation, I thought: I hope I can answer what the Pope asks of me. It is a great responsibility, as when he called me to Rome as prefect. In this case, there were really strong feelings, as I had to leave everything I had lived and done in Peru. This is now a completely different level, but I see it as a continuation of a mission that the Pope decided to give me.

What sentiments are you preparing now for the September 30 Contours?

I’m at full work, so I didn’t think much of it! Yesterday I heard from my two brothers, they both want to come and it would be great to experience this moment with their loved ones too. I have not yet thought about how to prepare. September 30 is also the starting day of the Synod, and I see this candidacy as part of the conciliar spirit that the whole Church wants to live.

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You are an Augustinian, how does Augustinian spirituality characterize your ministry?

We can say several things… As can be seen from my episcopal motto, unity and communion are part of the charism of St. Augustine’s order and also of my manner of acting and thinking. I think it is very important to promote communion in the Church and we know very well that communion, participation and mission are the three key words of the Synod. Therefore, as an Augustinian, the promotion of unity and communion is of paramount importance to me. St. Augustine speaks a lot about unity in the Church and the necessity of living it, and about the fact that there is a certain guarantee of unity in hearing the Bishop of Rome, as part of the Church of Rome. In this sense, too, I feel the Pope’s new vocation as a way to experience my unity, my participation in the Church, and my obedience to the Holy Father. This is also very Augustinian.

To what extent does Augustine’s personality inspire you in your choices, steps, and service in the church?

Saint Augustine is certainly a great figure not only for the order but for all. I wish I had more time to study and read them. She has much to offer the Church, even the Church today. So what I said earlier is important: unity in the Church and fidelity to the Bishop of Rome, always trying to promote communion. That living unity in the Church recommended by Augustine means that we live united in Christ.

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