In today’s post and in the days ahead, we’ll examine various loci in which communion is fostered. First among places is the diocese, which the Aparecida bishops regard as a “privileged place of communion.”
One important message in all this for us readers: we are not on mission alone. We do not rely on some exclusive spiritual presence of God. Indeed, others have been called and chosen to join with us in mission. The bishops describe this as “essential.”
164. Life in community is essential to the Christian vocation. Discipleship and mission always entail belonging to a community. God did not intend to save us in isolation, but by making us a People.(Lumen Gentium 9) This is an aspect that sets apart living the Christian vocation from a mere individual religious feeling. Hence, the experience of faith is always lived in a particular church.
The role of a hierarchy:
165. Gathered and fed by the Word and the Eucharist, the Catholic Church exists and is made manifest in each particular church, in communion with the Bishop of Rome.(Christifidelis Laici 85) As the Council says, it is “a portion of the people of God which is entrusted to a bishop to be shepherded by him with the cooperation of the presbytery.”(Christus Dominus 11)
It doesn’t always seem this way, but the structure of pope and bishops does not exist for its own sake. You might expect Pope John Paul II to emphasize the importance of union with Rome. Vatican II’s document on bishops outlines the responsibility given to a bishop for the sake of the people he shepherds. We’ll explore this a bit more in the days ahead. But for now, any matters to discuss?
For a deeper look, remember to check the English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.