John Paul II Cautions About Factions Within Church

Urges Bishops to Act as «Men of Communion»

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2004 ( One of the essential missions of a bishop is to address the «worrisome phenomenon» of factions within the Church, says John Paul II.

«As in any family, the Church’s internal harmony can at times be challenged by a lack of charity and the presence of conflict among her members,» the Pope said Saturday when meeting with U.S. bishops from the ecclesiastical provinces of San Antonio and Oklahoma City.

«This can lead to the formation of factions within the Church which often become so concerned with their special interests that they lose sight of the unity and solidarity which are the foundations of ecclesial life and the sources of communion in the family of God,» the Holy Father said.

The Pope delivered his address after having read the reports the bishops gave him during their five-yearly visit to Rome.

«To address this worrisome phenomenon bishops are charged to act with fatherly solicitude as men of communion to ensure that their particular Churches act as families, so that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another,» John Paul II exhorted.

He added: «This requires that the bishop strive to remedy any division which can exist among his flock by attempting to rebuild a level of trust, reconciliation and mutual understanding in the ecclesial family.»

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