Mutuae Relationes 7: Indivisibility of Ministry

SenanquecloisterWe’ll continue an examination of the ministry of bishops. Today we’ll discuss the importance of unity: bishops to the faithful, to Christ, with their clergy, and with one another. You can check the full document online here.

The indivisibility of the ministry of Bishops

7. The bishop with the collaboration of his priests renders a three-fold service to the community of the faithful, namely that of teaching, sanctifying and ruling (cf. LG 25-27; Christus Dominus 12-20; Presbyter Ordinis 4-6). There is no question, however, of three separate ministries. Since, in the New Law, Christ has essentially fused the three functions of Teacher, Priest and Pastor into one, there is only one ministry unique in its origin. Consequently the bishop’s ministry is exercised in its different functions in an indivisible way.

Three ministries, but indivisible? I wonder how many Catholics, let alone bishops see this as a reality. The modern mind compartmentalizes things: files, schedules, tasks. Is it really a sort of Trinity, three-in-one?

If circumstances at times require that one of these three aspects be given greater prominence, the other two are never to be separated or disregarded, lest the inner unity of the entire ministry be weakened in any way. The bishop, then, not only governs, not only sanctifies, not only teaches, but, with the help of his priests, he feeds his flock by teaching, by sanctifying, by governing, as a unique and indivisible action. Hence the bishop, by virtue of his very ministry, is responsible, in a special way for the growth in holiness of all his faithful inasmuch as he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God and the sanctifier of his flock according to the vocation proper to each one (cf. Christus Dominus 15) — likewise, therefore, and above all according to the vocation of religious.

Bishops are responsible, they concede. Their ministry includes a responsibility to religious women and men.

Thoughts or comments?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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