Print Version    Email to Friend
Build unity and shun clericalism pope tells new bishops

VATICAN (CNS): The Catholic Church needs bishops who promote unity, “not soloists singing their own tune or captains fighting personal battles,” Pope Francis told 74 new bishops from 34 countries in Africa, Asia, Oceania and Latin America on September 8.
They new bishops were in Rome attending a course sponsored by the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples.
He told them, “Dear brothers, flee from clericalism, an anomalous way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred.”
The pope said that while some bishops think they have “all the talents, all the charisms” necessary to run the Church, that is never true. However, he stressed that what a good bishop does have is passion for communion with the Church and with each and every member of his flock.
On the other hand, Pope Francis said clericalism “generates a division in the Church body that supports and helps perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today,” quoting from his letter August 20 to the Church about the clerical abuse scandal.
Pope Francis said a bishop must be “a man of prayer, a man of proclamation and a man of communion,” and he must show special care and concern for families, for the defense of life from the moment of conception, for seminarians, for young people and for the poor.
“Don’t think you are lords of the flock—you are not the masters of the flock, even if some people would like you to be or certain local customs promote that,” the pope told them. “Be men who are poor in things and rich in relationships, never harsh or surly, but friendly, patient, simple and open.”
Prayer is not just one of a bishop’s daily tasks, but rather must be the foundation of everything a bishop does, he said. And the chief concern in a bishop’s prayer must be his people and their needs. They must come first.
“It is easy to wear a cross on your chest,” the pope said, “but the Lord is asking you to carry a much heavier one on your shoulders and in your heart: he asks you to share his cross.”
The task of a bishop also involves proclaiming to the world the good news of salvation in Jesus and that cannot be done from one’s desk, he said. “A bishop doesn’t live in his office like a company administrator but among the people on the roads of the world.”
During his September 11 morning Mass, Pope Francis kept the new bishops in mind in his homily noting that since the apostles were chosen by Jesus—not the disciples themselves—“the faithful bishop knows that he did not choose. The bishop who loves Jesus is not a climber who moves up with his vocation as if it were a job.”
He said the fact that Jesus goes down from the mountain to teach and heal shows that a bishop is “a man who is not afraid to come down to level ground and be close to the people.”
The great accuser (satan), the pope said, “roams the world seeking how to blame. The strength of the bishop against the great accuser is prayer—his own and Jesus’, the humility to feel chosen and staying close to the people of God without heading toward an aristocratic life.”

More from this section