Skip to comments.Pope to new Bishops: Tend the flock of God
Posted on 09/19/2013 5:56:34 AM PDT by markomalley
Pope Francis received new Bishops from around the world in audience today in Rome. The audience marked the end of the annual Conference for New Bishops, which provides formation and orientation for men who have been elevated to the episcopate each year.
Cardinal Marc Ouellet, the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and Cardinal Leonardi Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches were also in attendance at the Conference, along with Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, the Archbishop of Manila.
In his address to the new Bishops, Pope Francis said the worldwide episcopate forms a unique body that gives direction to the Bishops in their daily work and presses them to ask themselves how to live the spirit of collegiality and collaboration in the Episcopate? how to be builders of communion an unity in the Church the Lord has entrusted to them. He reminded them that the Bishop is a man of communion and unity, the visible principle and foundation of unity (Lumen gentium, 27).
The Holy Father offered some reflections on a passage from the first Letter of Saint Peter: Tend the flock of God in your midst, [overseeing] not by constraint but willingly, as God would have it, not for shameful profit but eagerly. Do not lord it over those assigned to you, but be examples to the flock (1 Pt 5,2-3). These words, he said, are carved on the heart! They call you and establish you as Pastors not from yourselves, but from the Lord; and not to serve yourselves, but to serve the flock entrusted to you, to serve it even to the point of giving your life, like Christ, the Good Shepherd.
But, he asked, what does it mean to tend the flock, to have habitual and daily care of the flock (Lumen gentium, 27)? To tend the flock, Pope Francis said, means: to welcome with magnanimity, to journey with the flock, to remain with the flock.
1. To welcome with magnanimity: When someone knocks at the door of your house, the Pope asked, what do they find? If the door is open, he continued, they will experience the paternity of God and understand how the Church is a good mother that always loves and welcomes them.
2. To journey with the flock: Pope Francis explained that Bishops must be welcoming to everyone in order to journey with everyone. The Bishop, he said, journeys with and among his flock. He focused especially on three points with regard to this journey.
First, the Pope said, a bishop must have affection for their priests. Priests are the people closest to the Bishop. Time spent with your priests is never lost! he said. Receive them when they call on you, do not let a phone call go unanswered, always be close to them, in continual contact with them. In off-the-cuff remarks he insisted that if a priest calls his Bishop, the Bishop should respond the same day, or at most the next day, and that the Bishop should always find a way to make time for priests who want to see him.
The second point is presence in the diocese. Reminding the Bishops of his call that Pastors must have the odour of the sheep, the Pope told the Bishops their presence among their people is not secondary, it is indispensable! He called on them, to go down into the midst of your faithful, even to the edges of your dioceses and into all those existential peripheries where there is suffering, solitude, loss of human dignity.
His third point referred to the style of service. He called for Bishops to serve with humility, which he described as a certain austerity and a focus on what is essential. We Pastors, he said, must not have "the psychology of Princes." He complained of "ambitious men, men that are married to this Church, but hoping for a more beautiful or a richer [Church]. This is a scandal!" he said, describing the desire for a bigger or better diocese as a kind of "spiritual adultery." He warned the Bishops not to fall into the "spirit of careerism," which he called "a cancer."
Pope Francis spoke finally about a third element of tending the flock: remaining with the flock. I refer to stability, he said, which has two precise aspects to remain in the diocese, and to remain in this diocese, without seeking change or promotion. In an age when travelling has become very easy, the Holy Father said the ancient law of residence hasnt passed out of fashion. Residence in the diocese is not only functional, he insisted, but has deep theological roots. Avoid the scandal of being airport bishops! he said.
"Be welcoming Pastors," he concluded, "journeying with your people, with affection, with mercy, with sweetness of expression and paternal firmness, with humility and discretion, being able to see your own limitations, and with a good sense of humor . . . and remain with your flock!
As he concluded his address, Pope Francis asked the Bishops to greet their communities on his behalf, especially the priests, men and women religious, the seminarians, all the faithful, and those most in need of the nearness of the Lord. With two Syrian Bishops in attendance, the Holy Father once more prayed for the gift of peace: Peace for Syria, peace for the Middle East, peace for the world!
At the end of his talk, the Pope asked the assembled Bishops Remember to pray for me, as I do for you. He concluded by invoking the Apostolic Blessing from the heart upon each of the new Bishops and upon their communities.
**Tend the flock of God**
Very close to Christ’s words to St. Peter: “Feed my shee; Tend my sheep; Feed my lambs.”
"24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creatorwho is forever praised. Amen. 26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error. 28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done.
Romans 1: 24-28
"Francis wrote: You ask me if the God of the Christians forgives those who dont believe and who dont seek the faith. I start by saying and this is the fundamental thing that Gods mercy has no limits if you go to him with a sincere and contrite heart. The issue for those who do not believe in God is to obey their conscience. Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience."
"12 All who sin apart from the law will also perish apart from the law, and all who sin under the law will be judged by the law. 13 For it is not those who hear the law who are righteous in Gods sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous. 14 (Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.) 16 This will take place on the day when God judges peoples secrets through Jesus Christ, as my gospel declares.
Romans 2: 16-16
Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey God's Law, even if they don't believe in God.
People can have a seared conscience, which makes it useless for determining what is and isn't sin.
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