New Zealand Catholic Bishops feel more connected to Pope following visit

New Zealand bishops were grateful to have discussions with Cardinal Oscar Rodrigues over the weekend in Wellington soon after the inaugural meeting of the Commission of Cardinals and the Pope's visit to Assisi.

"Speaking with Cardinal Oscar gave us real insight into Pope Francis and what he is doing," said Archbishop John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference.

Commenting on behalf of the NZ Bishop following the Cardinal's visit Archbishop John said "It was a great privilege having him here, especially as he came straight from the meeting of the Commission of Cardinals and the Pope’ visit to Assisi."

"The discussions with the Cardinal made us all feel more connected to the Holy See and to the Holy Father. He has given us a sense of hope and excitement," Archbishop John said.

"He really listened in his discussions with us, which is an example of the kind of dialogue Pope Francis has been speaking of," he said.

"We were inspired by what the Cardinal to those gathered during the whakatau, that when Pope Francis says to go out to the periphery, he means not only those who are poor and marginalised but also those parts of the Church, like New Zealand, which are geographically distant,"

"He said that although he could not understand much of what was said in te reo the language of love and warmth was communicated through signs and gestures,"

"He told us he loved the whakatau, the speeches, the singing, the flower garlands. It made him feel not just welcome, but accepted into our midst." He said.

"Although here for a short visit I'm sure he will remember for a long time what he witnessed of the vibrant faith community here in Aotearoa."