VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2001 (Zenit.org).- Today more than ever, a bishop must exercise his ministry as a service, John Paul II said when he met with the first new bishops of the millennium.
The group comprised 153 diocesan pastors appointed by the Pope since the start of 2000 and up to last month. The bishops were in Rome for a study-meeting organized by the Vatican Congregation for Bishops at the Pontifical Athenaeum Regina Apostolorum, a university institution directed by the Legionaries of Christ.
The meeting, which started June 29 and continues through Friday, is “a pause of fraternal communion and serene study of some topics and practical problems that particularly challenge the life of a bishop,” the Pontiff explained.
“We certainly live in a difficult and complex world,” the Pope said today when he greeted the group at the Vatican.
“The ministry of the bishop is not lived under the flag of triumphalism, but rather of the cross of Christ,” the Holy Father added. “In fact, with the sacrament of ordination you have remained more closely configured with Christ. No difficulty must disturb you, because Christ is our hope.”
“In fulfilling your ministry, you must be animated by a great spirit of service,” the Pontiff continued. “Today more than ever the role of the bishop must be understood in terms of service. The bishop is servant of all. He is at the service of God and, because of his love, also of men.”
Service, he noted, will be the topic of the synod of bishops in October. The synod´s motto is “The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel for the Hope of the World.”
According to John Paul II, a bishop must be a “sign of the love of Christ for every human person.”
He added: “Our efficacy, when it comes to showing Christ to the world, depends in good measure on the authenticity of our following of Christ. Personal holiness is the condition for our fruitful ministry as bishops of the Church. Our union with Jesus Christ determines the credibility of our witness of the Gospel.”