Monday, September 22, 2008

Only Saints, Please: Pope Sets High Goal for Bishops

Tells Newly Ordained That Ministry Depends on Testimony

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2008 ( The Church needs holy bishops today more than ever, says Benedict XVI, since apostolic fruits depend on sanctity of life.

The Pope affirmed this today when he addressed a group of bishops ordained over the past year. A dozen of the bishops come from Eastern Churches.

On Saturday, the Holy Father addressed another group of recently ordained prelates -- those who serve in missionary lands.

Both groups -- with a total of 111 participants -- are involved in two parallel courses under way in Rome and organized by the Congregations for Bishops, Eastern Churches, and the Evangelization of Peoples. The new bishops are being hosted at the Regina Apostolorum university.

The Pontiff gave the new bishops a concrete recommendation: seek sanctity. In that regard, he offered the example of St. Paul, as the Church marks the Pauline Jubilee Year celebrating the 2,000th anniversary of the Apostle's birth.

"The example of the great apostle calls bishops to grow each day in a holy life, so as to have the same sentiments as Christ," Benedict XVI said. "The first apostolic and spiritual commitment of a bishop should be to progress in the life of evangelical perfection."

The Pope exhorted the bishops "to trust each day in the word of God, so as to be teachers of the faith and authentic educators of your faithful." Moreover, he entrusted the prelates to the world of God, "so that you will be faithful to the promises you have pronounced before God and the Church on the day of your episcopal consecration."

"Progressing along the path of sanctity, you will manifest that indispensable moral authority and prudent wisdom that is demanded of one who is at the head of the family of God," the Holy Father affirmed. "This authority is today more necessary than ever. Your ministry will be pastorally fruitful if it is supported on your sanctity of life."

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