Evangelii Nuntiandi 68: Bishops and Pastors

Bishops recently convened for a few weeks to discuss the “new evangelization.” Does that square with Church teaching on their role? Let’s see what Pope Paul said about it:

68. In union with the Successor of Peter, the bishops, who are successors of the apostles, receive through the power of their episcopal ordination the authority to teach the revealed truth in the Church. They are teachers of the faith.

We’ve seen elsewhere, especially in Christus Dominus, that one of the primary ministries of the bishop is preaching the Word. Communicating the Word is part of evangelization, and so the bishop, naturally, is a big part of any evangelical ministry.

Priests of all sorts are associated with the apostolic/episcopal ministry:

Associated with the bishops in the ministry of evangelization and responsible by a special title are those who through priestly ordination “act in the person of Christ.”[Lumen Gentium 10, 37; Ad Gentes 39; Presbyterorum Ordinis 2, 12, 13] They are educators of the People of God in the faith and preachers, while at the same time being ministers of the Eucharist and of the other sacraments.

The pope speaks to his bishops:

We pastors are therefore invited to take note of this duty, more than any other members of the Church. What identifies our priestly service, gives a profound unity to the thousand and one tasks which claim our attention day by day and throughout our lives, and confers a distinct character on our activities, is this aim, ever present in all our action: to proclaim the Gospel of God.[Cf. 1 Thess 2:9]

Pastors are identified as who they are by the ministry of evangelization, as realized in these various ways of serving through the Word and sacraments:

A mark of our identity which no doubts ought to encroach upon and no objection eclipse is this: as pastors, we have been chosen by the mercy of the Supreme Pastor,[Cf. 1 Pt 5:4] in spite of our inadequacy, to proclaim with authority the Word of God, to assemble the scattered People of God, to teach this People with the signs of the action of Christ which are the sacraments, to set this People on the road to salvation, to maintain it in that unity of which we are, at different levels, active and living instruments, and unceasingly to keep this community gathered around Christ faithful to its deepest vocation. And when we do all these things, within our human limits and by the grace of God, it is a work of evangelization that we are carrying out. This includes ourself as Pastor of the universal Church, our brother bishops at the head of the individual Churches, priests and deacons united with their bishops and whose assistants they are, by a communion which has its source in the sacrament of Orders and in the charity of the Church.

This “communion” within holy orders is sometimes strained these days. But when the clergy work together, especially in an area as essential to their identity, it can be a marvelous cooperation with grace.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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