The prefect of the Congregation for Bishops made that observation when he presided Wednesday over the eucharistic celebration that opened the third working session of the Italian episcopal conference’s General Assembly. The session ends today.
For a bishop, to be a “man of his word” means “to be faithful to his commitments,” said Cardinal Re.
“With the help of God’s grace, he does not get discouraged in face of difficulties, he does not give up when he meets with obstacles. In other words, he is a person who tries to ‘be’ before he ‘does,'” the cardinal explained in his homily.
By persevering, the bishop “creates communion in his diocese and makes it grow, giving attention to all, with particular dedication to his priests, being with and for them a father and a friend,” the cardinal said.
As a “man of the Word,” the bishop’s principal duty “is, after prayer, dedication to preaching, to the proclamation of the Word of God,” the prefect of the Congregation for Bishops noted.
This is what the apostles did, he said. They, who lacked means, “had such ardor that they proclaimed the message of Christ with the success that characterized the nascent Church,” the cardinal said.
The need persists “to carry out the proclamation of the Word of God with the drive and ardor of the early Church,” he exhorted.
In this context, Cardinal Re cited John Paul II, who, “despite limitations of health, gives us a luminous example of dedication and an incomparable testimony of faith, love and courage.”
Yet, it is not sufficient to proclaim. “The bishop is called to teach with the ministry of the Word and, beyond that, with the witness of his life, so that all will be open to the Word of God,” the cardinal said, when describing the “bishop as man made word.”
“The word, the person and the life of the bishop must become testimony, that is, faith that becomes life,” Cardinal Re said.
Indeed, the language of testimony “is the most comprehensible and the most convincing for the men and women of our time,” he added. “Our words must be backed up by a credible life.”