By Catholic News Service
Pope Benedict XVI greets Chaldean Bishop Sarhad Y. Jammo of the Eparchy of St. Peter the Apostle based in El Cajon, Calif., during a May 19 meeting with U.S. bishops from Eastern Catholic churches. Bishops from the Chaldean, Ruthenian, Maronite, Ukrainian, Armenian, Melkite, Syriac and Romanian Catholic churches were making their “ad limina” visits to the Vatican to report on the status of their dioceses. (CNS photo/L’Osservatore Romano)
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS) — Bishops today must be courageous in proclaiming the Gospel, encouraging others to grow in faith and working to ensure the unity of the church based on adherence to its teaching, Pope Benedict XVI said.
The pope met Sept. 20 with 95 new bishops attending a seminar in Rome on their new roles and responsibilities. The group included 17 bishops from the United States and eight from Canada; most of them had been ordained in the past year.
Pope Benedict told them that as members of the College of Bishops, “you always must have a special concern for the universal church, in the first place by promoting and defending the unity of the faith.”
Beginning their ministry as bishops close to the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the opening of the Year of Faith Oct. 11, the new bishops must focus on being “teachers and heralds” of the Gospel and of the Catholic faith, the pope said.
“Your priority concern is that of promoting and sustaining a stronger ecclesial commitment to new evangelization in order to rediscover the joy of believing and the enthusiasm for communicating the faith,” the pope said.
Pope Benedict told the bishops that their call to lead was not a call for them to try to do everything themselves or find a few close associates to help. “Evangelization is not a work for a few specialists, but for the whole people of God under the guidance of pastors,” he said.
What is now called “the new evangelization,” an effort to re-propose the faith in places where religious practice is waning, actually began with the Second Vatican Council’s efforts to respond with faith to the questions and problems of the modern world, the pope said.
He told the bishops to draw from the council’s presentation of Catholic “doctrine, spirituality and sanctity in order to educate your flock in the faith, that their witness may become increasingly credible.”
Pope Benedict also told the bishops that no one should be overlooked when it comes to opportunities to hear the Gospel or to know more about what the Catholic Church really teaches, both about basic Christian doctrine as well as modern ethical questions. People need to be “presented the essential contents of the faith, in a systematic and organic way, also to respond to the questions that our technological and globalized world raises,” he said.
The new bishops were attending a Sept. 11-20 course sponsored by the Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Eastern Churches.