Aparecida 186-187: Bishops As Missionary Disciples

Paragraphs 186 through 190 address the matter of “Bishops, missionary disciples of Jesus High Priest.” The Vatican II document on the ministry of bishops is cited:

186. As successors of the apostles, together with the Supreme Pontiff and under his authority,(Cf. Christus Dominus 2) we bishops have accepted with faith and hope the calling to serve the people of God, according to the heart of Christ, Good Shepherd.

As a missionary disciple, a bishop is first and foremost a baptized person. The commonality is the desire to follow Jesus:

Together with all the faithful and by virtue of baptism we are, first of all, disciples and members of the People of God. Like all the baptized and together with them, we want to follow Jesus, Master of life and truth in the communion of the Church. As shepherds, servants of the Gospel, we are conscious of being called to embody love for Jesus Christ and for the Church in the intimacy of prayer, and to give of ourselves to our brothers and sisters, over whom we preside in charity. It is as Saint Augustine says: with you I am Christian, for you I am bishop.

That citation of the Bishop of Hippo is quite apt. The posture of desire for the Lord, to seek the virtue of love, to pray, to sacrifice is both the basic attitude of the baptized person as well as the personal vector for a Christian who is called to lead other Christians.

The emphasis is on the sanctification of the entire faithful, not just a priestly caste:

187. The Lord calls us to promote the charity and holiness of the faithful by all means.

  • We strive so that the people of God will grow through the sacraments presided over by us and by the other ordained ministers.
  • We are called to be teachers of the faith, and hence to announce the Good News, which is source of hope for all, to oversee and promote the Catholic faith with care and courage.
  • By virtue of the close fraternity that comes from the sacrament of holy orders, it is our duty to cultivate in a special way the bonds that unite us to our priests and deacons.
  • We serve Christ and the Church through discernment of the will of the Father to reflect the Lord in his way of thinking, feeling, speaking and behaving in the midst of human beings.

The bullet points are my addition here. They outline sacramental presidency, teachers and evangelizers, a unifying factor for clergy, and a servant who imitates Jesus. To sum up:

In short, we bishops must be close joyful witnesses of Jesus Christ, Good Shepherd (cf. Jn 1:1-18).

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization. Bookmark the permalink.

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