John Paul II Warns Against "Bureaucratization" of Church

Meetings and Episcopal Conferences Cannot Replace Bishops

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II emphasizes that organizations and episcopal conferences must serve bishops, not take their place, and cautions against «bureaucratization» in the Church.

The Holy Father gave this instruction when he met with 37 bishops from the Brazilian national bishops’ conference, in Rome Jan. 27-Feb. 8 on their quinquennial «ad limina» visit to the Pope and Roman Curia.

Among those present were Bishop Jayme Henrique Chemello, President of the Brazilian Episcopal Conference, and Cardinal Jose Freire Falcaõ, archbishop of Brazil.

«Episcopal conferences cooperate with fruitful and diversified help, to give life in an effective and concrete manner to the collegial union,» the Pope said.

For this reason, the Holy Father encouraged the bishops to participate in the works of their episcopal conference, but with two limitations.

On one hand, the conference must restrict itself to «those affairs that must be addressed by it, in keeping with its statutes, for the good of the totality of the diocese.» On the other hand, the pastoral dedication of a bishop to his dioceses cannot be neglected because of his participation in activities of the episcopal conference.

In this connection, the Pope referred to «the excess of organizations and meetings, which oblige many Bishops to remain frequently outside of their dioceses.»

This phenomenon, John Paul II said, «in addition to being contrary to the ‘law of residence’ (canon 395), has negative consequences both on the bishop’s closeness to priests, as well as on other pastoral aspects, for example the penetration of sects.»

The Holy Father asked the bishops to avoid «the excessive multiplication of organizations, the bureaucratization of organizations and subsidiary commissions that continue to be active in the period between plenary meetings: these organizations exist to help bishops, not to take their place,» he stressed.

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