Day 5: Power in Church Is Service, Papal Preacher Says

Cardinal Hummes´ Meditation During Spiritual Exercises

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Authority for the Church spells service, the preacher at the papal Spiritual Exercises said Thursday.

On Day 5 of the annual retreat of the Pope and his Roman Curia aides, Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the preacher, said the clearest example of authority-as-service is Christ himself, who knelt to wash his disciples´ feet at the Last Supper.

In this connection, the archbishop of Sao Paolo referred to the insights of the Second Vatican Council. Service, he explained, can evoke two opposite concepts: slavery or the free giving of oneself. The first state degrades man, but the second makes him grow, exalting his dignity.

“In serving man, God is served, because God desires to be served through the acts of charity done to a suffering neighbor, and is recognized in the latter´s countenance,” the cardinal affirmed.

The papal preacher focused at length on the concept of “authority,” which in the Church is never dominion over others, even if this is a temptation for pastors, the cardinal clarified.

This service is especially difficult and important in the exercise of ecclesial authority, which must “welcome diversity in unity,” the cardinal added.

“It is not always easy to have the pastoral and paternal sensibility to perceive and support the action of the Holy Spirit in the particular Churches, in the communities, and in each individual, evangelically discerning their initiatives,” Cardinal Hummes said.

“The authority of the Church is always a call to give oneself fully and with humility to brothers, a service that can only be carried out with the spirit of Christ, with the disposition to place oneself at the feet of all,” he concluded.

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