Pope Announces Document on Role of the Bishop

Apostolic Exhortation Due Out Next Month

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II announced that on Oct. 16, the 25th anniversary of his pontificate, he will publish a postsynodal apostolic exhortation on the figure of the bishop.

The document will gather the conclusions of the synod of bishops, held in the Vatican from Sept. 30 to Oct. 27, 2001, on “The Bishop: Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.”

The Pope announced the news today when receiving some 100 recently appointed bishops, who are taking part in a pilgrimage-meeting organized by the Vatican Congregation for Bishops.

During the meeting, which took place in the Center of Higher Studies of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome, the new bishops spent time with the 450 religious of 37 nationalities who reside there.

“The pastoral mission which has been entrusted to you is exalting, but today it is also particularly arduous and difficult,” the Pope told the bishops.

“Our time, in fact, with its own problems, is characterized by loss of direction and uncertainties,” he continued. “Even many Christians seem disoriented and without hope. In this context, we pastors are called to proclaim the Gospel and to be witnesses of hope, with our gaze directed toward the cross, to the mystery of the triumph and fecundity of Christ crucified.”

The Pope added: “He, the one who lives, accompanies us on the paths of history, with the strength of his Spirit. This illuminating certainty must profoundly inspire our pastoral mentality, confirming our confidence in God and in men, and increasing our apostolic boldness.”

The founder of the Legionaries, Father Marcial Maciel, was present at the Holy Father’s audience with the bishops.

During these days the bishops have celebrated Mass and the Liturgy of the Hours, and participated in meetings with cardinals and bishops of the Roman Curia and of diverse dioceses, in which they have offered their testimony of years of episcopal ministry.

This year, for the first time, the bishops’ course included meetings to reflect on their ministry. The bishops were separated according to continents and met in classrooms of the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum.

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