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BISHOPS MUST DEFEND AND PROMOTE DOCTRINAL UNITY

VATICAN CITY, OCT 8, 2000 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at 10 a.m. today, the Pope presided at a Eucharistic celebration for the Jubilee of Bishops. Eighty cardinals and 1,500 bishops from all over the world concelebrated with the Holy Father. At the end of Mass, together with the bishops, John Paul II recited the Act of Entrustment to Mary, before the statue of Our Lady of Fatima. 
In his homily, the Pope invited the bishops to give thanks to God for the "gift of the vocation," both priestly and episcopal. "Turning to contemplate the events of our lives, our hearts are struck by emotion as we realize in how many ways the Lord has shown us His Love and His mercy." 
John Paul II highlighted that "the bishop, successor to the Apostles, is one for whom Christ is everything," and this is what he "must bear witness to in all his behavior." He went on to recall the numerous bishops who, over two millennia, "have offered Christ the supreme witness of martyrdom.
... The twentieth century was particularly rich in such witnesses, some of whom I myself have had the joy of elevating to the glory of the altars."
 "At the same time," he added, "it is right and just to give thanks to God for all the wise and generous pastors who throughout the centuries have illumined the Church with their teaching and their example.
How many confessor saints and blesseds there are among the bishops!"
The Holy Father indicated that "the challenge of new evangelization further highlights the episcopal ministry. The pastor is the primary leader and animator of the ecclesial community, both in the necessity for communion and in missionary drive. In the face of the relativism and subjectivism that pollute so much of modern culture, bishops are called to defend and promote doctrinal unity." 
The Pope expressed his fraternal solidarity with bishops "who are subject to persecution, are in jail or are prevented from exercising their ministry," and also recalled "our brother priests who suffer the same trials." 

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