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Indian Bishops: Promoting the Charism of Unity

June 20, 2011 by  
Filed under India, Persecution

Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI

Vatican City, 17 Jun 2011 (VIS) – This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received a fourth group of Indian prelates (from Madras-Mylapore, Madurai, Pondicherry and Raipur), who have just completed their “ad limina” visit. Continuing his reflections on the life of the Church in India, he spoke of the bishops’ responsibilities towards clergy and religious.

“You are set over God’s people as pastors, and you are called to teach, sanctify and govern the local Churches”, the Pope told them, speaking English. “You do this through your preaching of the Gospel, your celebration of the Sacraments, and your care for the sanctity and effective pastoral action of the clergy. … You are also called to govern in charity by means of a prudent vigilance in your legislative, executive and judicial capacities. In this delicate and demanding role, the bishop, as pastor and father, should so unite and mould his flock into one family that all, conscious of their duties, will wish to live and act as one in charity.

“Promoting the charism of unity, which is a powerful testimony to the oneness of God and a mark of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, is among the most important responsibilities of the bishop”, he added. “By your ministry, you are called to strengthen the people whom God has chosen to be His own, to serve them and to build them into a unified temple, a worthy dwelling-place for the Spirit”.

“You are to be supportive of your priests, your closest collaborators, and to be attentive to their needs and aspirations, showing solicitude for their spiritual, intellectual and material well-being. They, as sons and co-workers, are called in turn to respect your authority, working cheerfully, humbly and with complete dedication to the good of the Church, but always under your direction. The bonds of fraternal love and mutual concern which you foster with your priests will become the basis for overcoming any tensions that may arise, and will promote those conditions which are most propitious for the service of the people of God, …. leading them to know their worth and to assume the dignity which is theirs as children of God”.

The Holy Father went on: “Religious men and women also look to you for guidance and support. The witness of your own deep love for Jesus Christ and His Church will serve to inspire them as they devote themselves with perfect poverty, chastity and obedience to the life to which they have been called”.

Benedict XVI concluded his remarks to the group by underlining the importance of consecrated life, and he asked the prelates to ensure that consecrated people “receive a solid human, spiritual and theological foundation”. Finally, he expressed his particular appreciation for “the many women religious of the Church in India. They bear witness to its holiness, vitality and hope. They offer countless prayers and perform innumerable good works, often hidden, but nevertheless of great value to the up-building of God’s kingdom”.

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