Home   |  About Us   |  Contacts   |  Products    
 News Items
 Top Stories
 News Briefs
 Also Featuring
 Movie Reviews
 Sunday Scripture
 CNS Blog
 Links to Clients
 Major Events
 2008 papal visit
 World Youth Day
 John Paul II
 For Clients
 Client Login
 CNS Insider
 We're also on ...
 RSS Feeds
 Top Stories
 Movie Reviews
 CNS Blog
 For More Info

 If you would like
 more information
 about Catholic
 News Service,
 please contact
 CNS at one of
 the following:
 (202) 541-3250


 This material
 may not
 be published,
 rewritten or
 except by
 linking to
 a page on
 this site.

 CNS Story:

POPE-BISHOPS Sep-19-2013 (540 words) xxxi

Pope: Bishops are pastors, not princes; be humble, loving, return calls

Pope Francis greets a boy as he leaves his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Sept. 18. (CNS/Paul Haring)

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Don't be on the road all the time, aloof or deaf to people's needs; be simple, loving and always close by, just like a spouse would be for his wife, Pope Francis told new bishops.

Bishops are pastors, not princes, so always return people's calls, listen to parishioners, recognize one's limitations and sharpen that sense of humor, he said Sept. 19 to some 120 recently appointed bishops from around the world.

"Your presence (among the people) isn't secondary, it's indispensable," he said. People want their bishop to be near, sharing their hopes, joys, pains and sorrows.

The pope based his talk on what St. Peter meant with his words: "Tend the flock of God in your midst."

Tending one's flock, he said, is all about welcoming people with joy, and then walking and staying with them through thick and thin.

It's clearly wrong for a husband to be searching or pining for women who seemed better or richer than his wife, he said. A bishop, likewise, should remain appreciative and faithful to his diocese.

Dioceses need stability, he said.

Staying put and not becoming "airport bishops," who are constantly out of town, is good not only for pastoral governance, it also has theological importance. "You are spouses of your community, deeply bonded with them," he said.

"Please, we pastors are not men with a princely mentality, ambitious men, who are married to this church, waiting for another that's more beautiful or wealthier."

Such careerism is scandalous and "a cancer," he said. And bishops must serve in a way that is humble, austere and back to basics.

The pope emphasized how important it is for bishops to spend time with his priests and return their calls.

If time is tight, call the same day or the next to set up an appointment to talk or meet up later, but never give the impression there is never any time for them, he said. Otherwise, the priest may end up thinking, 'Well, he doesn't care. He is not a father, he's an office manager.'"

"Time spent with priests is never a waste of time," he said.

Bishops must be "welcoming, walking with your people, with affection, mercy, a gentle manner and paternal firmness, with humility and discretion, also able to recognize your limitations and have a measure of good humor," he said.

Being able to laugh at oneself and other things "is a grace we have to ask for."

Make the church a welcoming place by being available and generous, he said. That way when people come knocking they will experience "the paternity of God and will understand how the church is a good mother" with open, loving arms, ready to listen, help and guide people.

A bishop needs to lead his flock in order to show people the way; he needs to be in the middle of his flock "in order to strengthen it in unity;" and he needs to bring up the rear so no one is left behind, the pope said.

He must also keep his ears open: listening to the Holy Spirit, his people and diocesan boards and consultants who are there to advise their bishop, "promoting a loyal and constructive dialogue."


Copyright (c) 2013 Catholic News Service/USCCB. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed.
CNS · 3211 Fourth St NE · Washington DC 20017 · 202.541.3250