Papal Preacher Explains Purpose of Spiritual Exercises

Bishop Must Be Disciple of Christ, Cardinal Hummes Emphasizes

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 18, 2002 ( Cardinal Claudio Hummes knew the responsibility he assumed when accepting the invitation to preach at the annual retreat of the Pope and the Roman Curia.

During this interview with Vatican Radio, the archbishop of Sao Paulo explained that the Church depends on the spiritual life of its pastors.

Q: What value do these Spiritual Exercises have?

Cardinal Hummes: It will be a very important time for the Roman Curia, and for the Pope with it. These exercises have repercussions throughout the Church, because spirituality is a fundamental aspect of the life of the pastors of souls. Therefore, it is a very great challenge for the one who preaches: I accepted it with a genuine spirit of service.

Q: The general theme is «Disciples of Christ Forever.» How have you prepared it?

Cardinal Hummes: We Christians, beyond being pastors and faithful, are disciples of Christ. Therefore, we, the bishops, who in addition are teachers of the faith, must first be genuine disciples. Only a good disciple can be a good teacher.

Q: What advice would you give a Christian who wants to live this Lent intensely?

Cardinal Hummes: Lent always represents a point of conversion, a change of life. A change toward Jesus Christ and toward one´s neighbor. We must love our neighbor concretely, especially our poorest neighbor, the neediest; this should be a fundamental point for a Christian during Lent.

How will I change my attitude toward my neighbor, especially toward the poor, so that I can contribute to the change of an unequal world — too egotistical on one hand, and too unjust on the other? This is a question we must ask ourselves during Lent.

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