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Let us reflect attentively on the lofty ecclesial responsibility to which these, our Brothers, have been called. Our Lord Jesus Christ sent by the Father to redeem men, in turn sent twelve Apostles to the world so that, full of the power of the Holy Spirit, they would proclaim the Gospel to all peoples gathering them under one Shepherd, to sanctify them and lead them to salvation.
In order to perpetuate this apostolic ministry from generation to generation, the twelve made use of apostolic collaborators, transmitting to them with the imposition of hands, the gift of the Spirit received from Christ, which conferred the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders.
Thus, through the uninterrupted succession of Bishops in the living tradition of the Church, this primary ministry has been preserved; it is the work of the Savior that is followed and developed down to our times.
In the Bishop surrounded by his presbyters Our Lord Jesus Christ himself is present in your midst, as High Priest in eternity.
It is Christ, in fact, who in the ministry of the Bishop continues preaching the Gospel of salvation and sanctifying believers through the sacraments of the faith. It is Christ who through the Bishop’s paternity adds new members to His Body, which is the Church. It is Christ who in the wisdom and prudence of the Bishop leads the People of God in the earthly pilgrimage to eternal happiness.
Receive, therefore, with joy and gratitude these our Brothers whom we Bishops, with the imposition of our hands, associate to the Episcopal College. Render them the honor that is due to Christ’s ministers and to those who dispense God’s ministries, to whom is entrusted the witness of the Gospel and the ministry of the Spirit for sanctification. Remember Jesus Christ’s words to the Apostles: “He who hears you hears me, he who scorns you scorns me, and he who scorns you scorns the One who sent me.”
As for you, Jean-Marie and Gianpiero, chosen by the Lord, reflect that you have been chosen among men and for men, you have been constituted in the things that refer to God. “Episcopate” is in fact the name of a service, not of an honor. It is for the Bishop to serve rather than dominate, according to the Master’s commandment: he who is the greatest among you must be the least, who governs as one who serves, always in service, always the service. Proclaim the word at all times, whether opportune or inopportune. Admonish, reprimand, exhort with all magnanimity and doctrine, and through prayer and the offering of sacrifice for your people, attain the fullness of sanctity of Christ, the manifold richness of divine grace, through prayer. Recall the first conflict in the Church of Jerusalem, when the Bishops had so much work to protect widows and orphans that they decided to appoint deacons. Why? To pray and to preach the Word. A Bishop who does not pray is a halfway bishop, and if he does not pray to the Lord he ends up in worldliness. In the Church that has been entrusted to you, be faithful custodians and dispensers of the mystery of Christ, placed by the Father at the head of his family. Follow always the example of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and is known by them, and who did not hesitate to give his life for them. The love of the Bishop: love with the love of a father and a brother all those whom God entrusts to you. Above all love the presbyters and deacons who are your collaborators, they are the ones who are closer to those close to you. Never make a presbyter wait for an audience. Answer them immediately. Be close to them. Love, also, the poor and the vulnerable and those who are in need of hospitality and help. And go with love to the whole flock, in which the Holy Spirit places you to rule the Church of God. Watch in the name of the Father in whose name you take the image, in the name of Jesus Christ his Son from whom you are constituted teachers, priests and pastors. And in the name of the Holy Spirit who gives life to the Church and with his power sustains our weakness. So be it.[Translation by ZENIT]