Pope Calls on Newly Ordained Bishops to "Be Courageous"

Celebrates Solemnity of Epiphany in St. Peter’s Basilica

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Pope Benedict XVI conferred Episcopal ordination upon four bishops yesterday during Holy Mass for the Solemnity of the Lord’s Epiphany in Saint Peter’s Basilica.

Those ordained were Angelo Vincenzo Zani was elected titular archbishop of Volturno and named secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Fortunato Nwachukwu, elected titular archbishop of Acquaviva and named apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua; Georg Ganswein, private secretary to Benedict XVI, named titular archbishop of Urbisaglia and prefect of the pontifical household; and Nicolas Henry Marie Denis Thevenin, elected titular archbishop of Eclano and named apostolic nuncio to Guatemala.

In yesterday’s homily, the Pope Benedict spoke of the Three Wise Men, referring to them as «seekers after God,» for whom «the truth meant more than the taunts of the world.»
«For the Church which believes and prays, the Wise Men from the East who, guided by the star, made their way to the manger of Bethlehem, are only the beginning of a great procession which winds throughout history… ike the shepherds, who as the first visitors to the newborn Child in the manger, embodied the poor of Israel and more generally those humble souls who live in deep interior closeness to Jesus, so the men from the East embody the world of the pleoples, the Church of the Gentiles – the men and women who in every age set out on the way which leads to the Child of Bethlehem, to offer him homage as the Son of God and to bow down before him.»

With regard to the significance of celebrating the Epiphany with the Episcopal ordination, Pope Benedict explained: «The connection between this episcopal ordination and the theme of the pilgrimage of the peoples to Jesus Christ is evident. It is the task of the Bishop in this pilgrimage not merely to walk beside the others, but to go before them, showing the way.»
The magi, he continued, «who set out towards the unknown were, in any event, men with a restless heart. Men driven by a restless quest for God and the salvation of the world. They were filled with expectation, not satisfied with their secure income and their respectable place in society. They were looking for something greater.»

«Their outward pilgrimage was an expression of their inward journey, the inner pilgrimage of their hearts. They were men who sought God and were ultimately on the way towards him. They were seekers after God,» Pope Benedict said.

A man ordained a bishop, the Holy Father went on, also «must above all be a man concerned for God, for only then will he also be truly concerned about men. Inversely, we could also say that a Bishop must be a man concerned for others, one who is concerned about what happens to them. He must be a man for others. But he can only truly be so if he is a man seized by God, if concern for God has also become for him concern for God’s creature who is man.»

The Pope continued: «The Bishop, as a pilgrim of God, must be above all a man of prayer. He must live be in constant inner contact with God; his soul must be open wide to God. He must bring before God his own needs and the needs of others, as well as his joys and the joys of others, and thus in his own way establish contact between God and the world in communion with Christ, so that Christ’s light can shine in the world.»

Turning back to magi, the Holy Father speaks of their integrity in their decision to seek out the star, which likely «was met with derision: the scorn of those realists who could only mock the reveries of such men. Anyone who took off on the basis of such uncertain promises, risking everything, could only appear ridiculous. But for these men, inwardly seized by God, the way which he pointed out was more important than what other people thought. For them, seeking the truth meant more than the taunts of the world, so apparently clever.»

Likewise, Bishops today «will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who cling to what seems certain. Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day. Today’s regnant agnosticism has its own dogmas and is extremely intolerant regarding anything that would question it and the criteria it employs. Therefore the courage to contradict the prevailing mindset is particularly urgent for a Bishop today. He must be courageous.»

The Holy Father concluded: «The Wise Men followed the star, and thus came to Jesus, to the great Light which enlightens everyone coming into this world (cf. Jn 1:9). As pilgrims of faith, the Wise Men themselves became stars shining in the firmament of history and they show us the way.»

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Ann Schneible

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