The Pope Recalls the Mission of the Bishop

Source: FSSPX News

One hundred ten missionary bishops from around the world, appointed less than a year ago, met for two weeks in Rome for a formation session organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples on the premises of Regina Apostolorum, the University of the Legionaries of Christ. Benedict XVI received them in an audience on September 11 at Castel Gandolfo, as he has done each year since the beginning of his pontificate.

On this occasion, the Holy Father invited the bishops “not [to] give in to pessimism or discouragement”.  He immediately explained that the Holy Spirit guides the Church and gives “the courage to persevere and also to seek out new methods of evangelization in order to reach unexplored territory.”  In the Hall of the Swiss in the Apostolic Palace, the pope likewise affirmed that “Christian truth is attractive and persuasive precisely because it responds to the profound need of human existence.”

Furthermore, the Supreme Pontiff exhorted the bishops to “spend sufficient time ‘being with [Christ]’ and contemplating him in the intimacy of prayer”.  The bishop, he explained, is called to “be frequently in God's presence, [to be] a man of prayer and adoration”.  The episcopacy, like the presbyterate, is “a service of love” and should never to be taken up according to “worldly categories”, he added.  “[The life of the bishop] must be a continuous oblation to God for the salvation of his Church and especially for the salvation of the souls that are entrusted to him,” the pope went on to say in the presence of the new bishops.  This pastoral oblation constitutes the true dignity of the bishop, victim and altar for the salvation of the world.

“I know the challenges you must face,” the Supreme Pontiff continued, “especially in Christian communities that practice their faith in far from easy conditions, in which, in addition to various forms of poverty, they are at times the object of persecution, precisely because of their Christian faith.”

On September 10, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State of the Holy See, explained to the bishops in his homily that their mission as “guide of the people (…) of God” was “arduous but exciting” and that they ought to be at the head of the flock “to serve, and not to be served”.  (Sources : apic/imedia/VIS/fides – DICI no. 223 dated October 16, 2010)