Pope Francis did not take part in the National Eucharistic Congress (CEN), held in Genoa from 15 to 18 September 2016. Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, was personally appointed by Bergoglio as his special envoy to the event. In a letter to the cardinal, the Pope, taking the documents of Vatican Council II, writes: “It will be attended by many cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay people to celebrate the living source of the Church and the pledge of future glory”. On this occasion, “I urge you – the Pope continued – to honor the Most Holy Eucharist more and more, ‘a sacrament of love, a bond of charity, a Paschal banquet’ (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 47), to feed upon them and be fraternally united, and to cooperate for the edification of the Church and the good of the world.”
Not only. The Holy Father invites us to rediscover Eucharistic adoration, visiting, “if possible, every day, especially in the difficulties of life, the Blessed Sacrament of the infinite love and mercy of Christ, preserved in our churches and often abandoned, to talk to him filially, to listen in silence and confidence to entrust ourselves to Him.”
“Wishing to add even more dignity to the event, which will be celebrated – the report says – we turned our thoughts to you, our venerable brother, diligent metropolitan archbishop of the same city and president of the CEI. Therefore, you elect and nominate our special correspondent, so you can represent in this Eucharistic Congress our person and be an interpreter and messenger of the desires and exhortations of our hearts, certain that your noble qualities of mind and talent and your pastoral experience shall perform with great diligence and with the help of the Holy Spirit, the mission we entrust to you.” Concluding his letter, Bergoglio pleaded “the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God” to “make arise abundant spiritual fruits from this National Eucharistic Congress.”
The Pope has never missed this great event of the Italian Church. Benedict XVI, in his eight years of pontificate, has always partaken in the Cen. St. John Paul II, only once (in 27 years) in 1994 did not partake in the Congress. The reason why the Pope will not be present in Genoa was stated in December 2015 by the Cardinal Archbishop of Milan, Mgr. Scola, who at the press conference reported a note from the Secretariat of State which read: “because of the increased commitments for the Jubilee, the Pope intends to postpone his pastoral visits in Italy”.