A First-of-Its-Kind Meeting for Bishops

Vatican Congregation Gives Prelates a Chance to Share Experiences

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VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Being pastor of a diocese is one of today´s most difficult missions, John Paul II said when he met with the first bishops of the millennium.

This is one reason why the Vatican Congregation for Bishops has invited the Church´s newest bishops — those appointed last year and the first months of 2001 — to Rome to share their experiences and study, in the Pope´s words, “some topics and practical problems that particularly challenge the life of the bishop.”

The June 29-July 6 meeting — the first of its kind — is being held in the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a university institution directed by the Legionaries of Christ.

During the morning sessions, the bishops have heard from fellow bishops with years of experience.

Members of the Roman Curia addressed the bishops too. Among them:

–Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who spoke about “The Bishop: Teacher and Custodian of the Faith.”

–Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos, prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, who spoke about “The Bishop: Father and Pastor.”

–Cardinal Jorge Arturo Medina Estevez, prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, who focused on the figure of the bishop as “sanctifier of his people.”

Other speakers came from the dioceses of various continents. Among them:

–Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid, who spoke on “The Governance of the Diocese.”

–Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger, archbishop of Paris, who addressed the topic: “The Bishop and the Media.”

–Archbishop Justin Francis Rigali of St. Louis, who spoke on “The Promotion of Vocations and Care of Seminaries.”

The everyday, practical details of governing a diocese were the focus of exchanges during the afternoon sessions. Among the speakers and the topics:

–Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, analyzed the relation between the bishop and the diocese´s publications.

–Legionary Father Gonzalo Miranda, dean of the School of Bioethics of Regina Apostolorum, reflected on the “Problems of Bioethics.”

–Cardinal Anthony Joseph Bevilacqua, archbishop of Philadelphia, addressed the most acute difficulties faced by priests today.

–Cardinal Claudio Hummes, archbishop of Sao Paulo, gave advice on how a bishop can organize his numerous commitments.

–Cardinal Edmund Szoka, president of the Commission for Vatican City State, spoke on “The Bishop and Finance Management.”

–Cardinal Francesco Pompedda, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, spoke about the workings of “The Ecclesiastical Tribunals.”

According to the participants, the most important aspect of the meeting has been the chance to meet with fellow bishops from around the world, who share the same problems and challenges.

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