Love Must Shape Pastoral Styles, Says Preacher

Meditation on 4th Full Day of Pope’s Annual Retreat

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 17, 2005 ( Jesus’ new commandment of love must characterize the face of the Church and Christians’ personal lives, says the preacher of this year’s papal Spiritual Exercises.

Today, the fourth day of the retreat being attended by John Paul II and officials of the Roman Curia, Bishop Renato Corti of Novara dedicated a meditation to the concept of “Giving the Church a Fraternal Face.”

He explained that the commandment of love left by Jesus must also be the pastoral style of bishops and priests.

“The new commandment is that of charity and love; therefore, it is important to analyze the life of the Church again in the light of the question: ‘Are we giving witness of all this? How?” asked the preacher in words broadcast on Vatican Radio.

The vice president of the Italian episcopal conference suggested a passage from the apostolic letter “Novo Millennio Ineunte,” in which John Paul II proposes a “spirituality of communion” to the Church, and the characteristics it should have.

“One is a reference to the mystery of the Trinity, mystery of communion. Another is a reference to Jesus Christ, whose members we are, the mystical body of Christ,” he said.

The apostolic letter offers, in addition, indications of an “anthropological and pedagogical character,” Bishop Corti continued.

“For example, the one which states that if one wishes to witness an experience of communion, one must learn to see in the other not only that which is mistaken, but also that which is good; one must learn to appreciate him,” the preacher said.

“If one wishes to live an experience of communion, one is certainly asked one thing: to bear others’ burdens,” he continued. “This is the way to live communion and — in a certain sense, as we are very limited — the way to live the central commandment of the New Covenant, which is the commandment of love.”

The Pope’s retreat ends Saturday.

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