Benedict XVI Outlines Duties of a Bishop


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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2010 ( As teachers of the faith, bishops have the task of presenting the truth to the faithful, and of helping them to discover the joy of being loved by God, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Saturday upon receiving in audience the bishops of Eastern Region II of the Brazilian episcopal conference, at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

"In as much as teachers and doctors of the faith," he said, "you have the mission to teach with audacity the truth that must be believed and lived, presenting it in an authentic way."

"Therefore, help the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care to discover the joy of the faith, the joy of being loved personally by God, who offered His Son for our salvation," the Pontiff added.

He continued: "To believe consists above all in abandoning oneself to this God who knows and loves us personally, accepting the truth that he revealed in Jesus Christ with the attitude that leads us to trust in grace.

"Be able to infuse this trust in your people, so that the faith is always protected, defended and transmitted in its purity and integrity."

Benedict XVI said that bishops are the "administrators of the supreme priesthood," and that they "must truly make the liturgy an epiphany of the mystery, that is, expression of the genuine nature of the Church, which actively offers worship to God through Christ in the Holy Spirit."

Additionally, the Pontiff noted the "responsibility of the celebration of the Eucharist," stressing the importance of providing it "so that the faithful can access the Lord's table, especially on Sunday," and the need to "be promoters and animators of prayer in the human city, often agitated, noisy and forgetful of God."

"You must create places and occasions where, in silence, in listening to God, in personal and community prayer, man can find and have a living experience of Jesus Christ who reveals the authentic face of the Father," he said. "It is necessary that parishes and shrines, realms of education and suffering, families, become places of communion with the Lord."

Humble servant

The Pope also asked the prelates "to promote the participation of all the faithful in the building of the Church, governing with the heart of a humble servant and affectionate pastors, looking to the glory of God and the salvation of souls."

In virtue of the task of governance, he said, the bishop is "also called to judge and discipline the life of the people of God entrusted to his pastoral care, through laws, directives and suggestions, as established in the universal discipline of the Church."

This "right and duty" is very important, he added, "so that the diocesan community will remain united in its interior and walk in sincere communion of faith, love and discipline with the Bishop of Rome and with the whole Church."

"Hence, do not tire of nourishing in the faithful the sense of belonging to the Church and the joy of fraternal communion," he exhorted.

The Holy Father added that the bishop's governance will be fruitful pastorally "only if it enjoys the support of good moral credibility, which stems from the holiness of his life."

"Molded interiorly by the Holy Spirit, may each one of you come to be 'everything for everyone,' proposing the truth of the faith, celebrating the sacraments of our sanctification and giving witness of the Lord's charity," he added.

"Receive with open heart all those who call at your door," the Holy Father concluded. "Counsel them, comfort them and support them on the path of God, seeking to guide all of them to that unity in the faith and in love of which, by the will of the Lord, you must be visible principle and basis in your dioceses."