During his weekly General Audience, Pope Francis entrusted himself and all bishops to the prayers of the faithful. Through their prayers, he said, “we can at least hope to be closer to the [acts of service] that the Apostle Paul advises for all bishops.”
Encouraging the thousands gathered, he asked, “Do you agree? Will you pray for us?”
The Holy Father said that bishops must have many virtues, despite being “sinners.”
Through the Holy Spirit’s power and grace, he continued, “Christ does not fail to give rise to the ordained ministries, in order to build up the Christian community as His body.”
The Pope said the role of the bishop, among these ministries, “stands out.”
“In the bishop, assisted by priests and deacons,” he said, “it is Christ Himself who is present and who continues to take care of his Church, ensuring his protection and guidance.”
Through their presence and ministry, he declared, we can recognize the “true face” of the Church.
“She is our Holy Mother, the Hierarchical Church,” he said. “And really, through these brothers chosen by the Lord and consecrated by the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Church exercises her motherhood.”
“There should not be room in the Church for a worldly mentality,” he continued. “A worldly mentality speaks of a man who has an ‘ecclesiastical career and has become a bishop.’”
The 77 year old Pontiff went on to say that that the role of a bishop is not a place of honor but rather a service to others, following the example of the Good Shepherd.
It is sad, he said, when we see a man “who seeks this office and does all he can to get it and when he gets it does not serve, instead goes around like a peacock and lives only for his vanity.”
Recalling the recent Synod of Bishops, the Pope noted that while the bishops came from different cultures and places, the meeting exemplified that bishops are “a single college.”
He noted “how beautiful” it is “when the bishops, with the Pope, express this collegiality!”
More than just Christian communities recognizing the bishop as a “great gift,” he stressed they are called to nurture a sincere and profound communion with him, starting with the priests and deacons.
“There is no healthy Church if the faithful priests, deacons are not united around their bishop,” he underscored. “This Church not united around their bishop is a sick Church.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis said that the “relationship of each Church with the Apostles is visible and with all the other communities, united with their bishops and the Pope in the One Church of the Lord Jesus, that is our Holy Mother, the Hierarchical Church.”
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