CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 12, 2010 ( The work of a bishop is one of fostering hope, sharing the joys and sufferings of the faithful, and of imitating the charity of Christ, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Saturday upon addressing the new bishops participating in a seminar on evangelization, organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. "The Church places no small amount of hope, and she follows you with prayer and affection," he told those present.

"I know the challenges that you must face," the Pontiff affirmed, "especially in the Christian communities who live their faith in difficult contexts, where, besides various forms of poverty, there are often various forms of persecution because of their Christian faith. You have the task of nourishing their hope, of sharing their difficulties, taking inspiration from the charity of Christ, which consists in attention, tenderness, compassion, acceptance, availability and interest in the problems of the people, for whom you are disposed to give your life."

The Holy Father told the news bishops that "in every task you are sustained by the Holy Spirit," and urged the prelates to "dedicate an adequate amount of time" to prayer. "The life of the bishop must be a continual oblation to God for the salvation of his Church, and especially for the salvation of the souls that have been entrusted to him," he added.

The work of a bishop, he continued, is "a service of love. The bishop is called to serve the Church in the fashion of the God made man, becoming ever more fully the servant of the Lord and the servant of humanity.

"He is above all the servant and the minister of the Word of God, who is also his true strength. The primary duty of proclamation, accompanied by the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, flows from the mission received."

"The bishop must nourish himself abundantly with this Word of salvation, listening to it constantly," the Pope said, noting that "receptivity and the fruit of proclamation of the Good News are closely linked to the quality of faith and prayer."

"Those called to the ministry of proclamation must believe in the power of God that flows from the sacraments and that accompanies them in the task of sanctifying, governing and proclaiming; they must believe and live that they celebrate," he added.

Benedict XVI assured the bishops that he is aware of the challenges they face, and acknowledged that "the bishop's mission is particularly demanding."

"But it is precisely in such circumstances that, through your ministry, the Gospel can show all of its salvific power," he concluded. "You must not give in to pessimism or discouragement, because it is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and gives her, with his mighty breath, the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization to reach hitherto unexplored spheres.

"The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive precisely because it responds to the deep need of human existence, announcing in a convincing way that Christ is the only Savior of the whole man and all men. This proclamation remains as valid today as it was at the beginning of Christianity, when the first great missionary expansion of the Gospel was undertaken."

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