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Promote unity, Pope tells Indian bishops
Bishops are called not only to teach, sanctify and govern their flocks, but also to promote unity and to "mould his flock into one family," Pope Benedict told Indian bishops on their ad limina visit.
- June 20, 2011
The Pope reflected on the duty of a bishop to promote unity upon receiving in audience Group IV of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of India, Zenit reports.
"By the laying on of hands and the invocation of the Holy Spirit," he began, "you are set over God's people as pastors, and you are called to teach, sanctify and govern the local Churches."
"In this delicate and demanding role," the Pontiff continued, "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."
The Holy Father told the Latin rite bishops from the Indian provinces of Madras-Mylapore, Madurai, Pondicherry and Raipur, that "promoting the charism of unity" is one of the "most important responsibilities of the bishop," and he reminded the prelates that the Holy Spirit "longs to unite all Christians in bonds of faith, hope and charity."
"By your ministry," he said, "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, whether they be young or old, male or female, rich or poor."
Pope Benedict also urged the bishops to lead by example, and to put themselves at the service of unity so as to "draw the people that you shepherd into deeper communion, fraternity and peace."
He continued: "Moreover, the witness of the reciprocal love and service between you and your priests -- without regard for caste or ethnicity, but focused upon the love of God, the spread of the Gospel and the sanctification of the Church -- is earnestly desired by the people you serve.
"They look to you and your priests for a model of holiness, friendship and harmony that speaks to their hearts and teaches by example how to live the new commandment of love."
The Pope stated that religious men and women also look to their bishops for "guidance and support," and urged the prelates to "ensure that the members of religious institutes in your dioceses live their particular charisms in their fullness and in harmony with the priests and lay faithful."
He added that the bishops should make sure that the religious "a solid human, spiritual and theological foundation," as well as the ongoing formation that will "help them mature in all aspects of consecrated life."
Noting the contribution of religious men and women in the Church, he affirmed that they "offer countless prayers and perform innumerable good works, often hidden, but nevertheless of great value to the up-building of God's kingdom."
Pope to Indian Bishops: Promote Unity in Charity (Zenit)