Saturday, July 06, 2002

Bishops Must Identify with Jesus' Personal Style, Pope Says

( John Paul II told a group of visiting Peruvian bishops they must identify themselves with the personal style of Jesus Christ, and to be an "example of communion."

The call to communion, the formation of youth, the defense of the family, and solidarity with the needy were the main topics that the Pope highlighted in his address to the bishops of the Peruvian episcopal conference, whom he received in audience Tuesday at the end of their quinquennial "ad limina" visit to Rome.

In his address, John Paul II referred to a crucial challenge of the age: "the spirit of communion must reign in the Church," not only as an exigency of the message of Christ, but also as a response to the profound hopes of the world.

The Holy Father reminded the bishops they are "called to be an example of communion," at a historic moment in which the capacity to interrelate frequently coexists with a feeling of isolation within the human family.

Numerous examples of holiness in Peru, such as St. Rose of Lima and St. Martin of Porres, serve as models for pastors, "who must identify themselves with the personal style of Jesus Christ, which consists of simplicity, poverty, closeness, renunciation of personal advantages and full confidence in the power of the Spirit beyond human means," the Pope continued.

Among youth, he added, must be awakened "the passion for the great ideals of the Gospel," combining their evangelization with an urgent pastoral program on vocations.

John Paul II said that Peru "needs priests and evangelizers, saints, knowledgeable and faithful to their vocation. ... This is a task in which the bishop must show a special relation of father and teacher."

Referring to marriage, the Holy Father explained that it is imperative "that youths know the true beauty of love."

On this point, he referred to the need of a multidisciplinary pastoral program that integrates catechesis, the educational action of other lay faithful, the help of families themselves, and the fostering of conditions that favor the love of spouses and family stability.

"Pastors must make their voice heard to highlight the importance of the family as the original and fundamental cell of society, and its irreplaceable contribution to the common good of all citizens," the Holy Father stressed.

This appeal is particularly urgent when, "for more or less opportunistic reasons, anti-birth political projects are planned, the desires for matrimonial fidelity are suffocated, or the development of family life is made difficult in other ways," John Paul II said.

Referring to the vigor of the Peruvian Church's action in favor of the poor, and given the difficult economic situation the country is experiencing, the Pope also encouraged the bishops to foster "a concrete, tangible and organized program of social pastoral care ... which will lay the foundations of a harmonious and lasting development based on the spirit of fraternal solidarity."

This was the framework in which the Pope also wished to express his profound gratitude to the numerous ecclesial institutions, emphasizing the work of the institutes of consecrated life, which "make the light of the Gospel and fraternal help reach the most remote places of Peruvian lands," from the Amazon jungle to the Andean highlands and the coastal plains.

Ecumenical Talks Must Go Forward, Pope Insists
Receives Delegation of Constantinople Patriarchate

( John Paul II told a visiting Orthodox delegation that the theological dialogue between Rome and Constantinople must move forward, despite the slow progress.

Reviewing the theological dialogue that began in 1979 between the two Churches, the Pope said progress seems slow on the ecumenical road, but that does not rule out the hope for unity in the future.

The Holy Father made his evaluation Saturday to a delegation from the Orthodox Patriarchate which was visiting the Vatican to celebrate the solemnity of the Sts. Peter and Paul. The traditional visit is returned by the Roman Church on Nov. 30, when a Vatican delegation goes to Istanbul, Turkey, to celebrate the feast of St. Andrew.

"Despite our efforts, this dialogue marks our pace; we see our impotence to overcome the divisions and find in ourselves the strength to look with hope to the future," the Holy Father said.

"This delicate phase must not discourage us," he added. "[We] cannot accept this state of affairs with indifference. ... We cannot refuse to continue the theological dialogue, an indispensable step toward unity."

The Rev'd Dr. Peter Toon
Minister of Christ Church, Biddulph Moor,
England & Vice-President and Emissary-at-Large
of The Prayer Book Society of America

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