21-September-2006 -- Vatican Information Service |

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BUILDING ECCLESIAL COMMUNION IS EVERY BISHOP'S DUTY

VATICAN CITY, SEP 21, 2006 (VIS) - This morning in the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo, in a traditional encounter for this time of year, the Pope received a group of recently-appointed bishops who are participating in a meeting in Rome.

"Following Christ's example," the Pope told them, "each of you, in the daily nurture of your flock, must become 'all things to all men,' presenting the truth of faith, celebrating the sacraments of our sanctification and bearing witness to the Lord's charity. Welcome with an open heart those who knock at your door, advise them, console them and support them on the way of God."

"Demonstrate this care, in the first place, towards priests. Always act towards them as fathers and elder brothers who know how to listen, accept, comfort and, when necessary, also correct."

Benedict XVI then went on to remind the bishops that, by virtue of their power to govern, they are called "to judge and discipline the life of the people of God entrusted to their pastoral care, with laws, indications and suggestions, in accordance with what is laid down by the universal discipline of the Church. This right and duty of bishops is absolutely vital in order that the diocesan community may be internally united and progress in profound union of faith, of love and of discipline with the Bishop of Rome and with the entire Church. ... Building ecclesial communion," he said, "must be your daily duty."

"Serenity in relationships, delicacy in dealings with others and simplicity of life are gifts that without doubt enrich the human personality of a bishop. ... The total giving of self, which the care of the Lord's flock requires, needs the support of an intense spiritual life nourished by assiduous individual and community prayer."

The Holy Father called on the bishops to ensure that their days be characterized by "a constant contact with God," and explained how "living in intimate union with Christ will help you to strike that vital balance between inner meditation and the exertions required for the multiple occupations of life, avoiding the danger of excessive activism."

"Following Christ, the Pastor and Bishop of your souls," he concluded, "you will be encouraged to tend tirelessly towards sanctity, which is the fundamental aim of the life of all Christians."

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