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Bishops need courage to challenge society, Pope says as he ordains 4 prelates

January 07, 2013

Bishops today must have the “courage to contradict the prevailing mindset,” Pope Benedict XVI said on January 6 as he ordained four new bishops.

In his homily at the ordination Mass, the Pope spoke about the Magi, characterizing them as “men with a restless heart—men driven by a restless quest for God and the salvation of the world.” Ordinary men would not have the courage to undertake the quest they made, he said; they were willing to take great risks because they were driven by a special dedication.

Bishops should show the same willingness to challenge convention and go beyond what the world considers comfortably certain, the Pontiff said. “Like the Wise Men from the East, a Bishop must not be someone who merely does his job and is content with that. No, he must be gripped by God’s concern for men and women. He must in some way think and feel with God.”

“Anyone who lives and proclaims the faith of the Church is on many points out of step with the prevalent way of thinking, even in our own day,” the Pope said. Since it is essential to the bishop’s vocation to challenge popular ideology, he said, bishops must show the same courage.

Following a Vatican tradition, the Pontiff had scheduled the episcopal ordinations for the feast of the Epiphany. Among those ordained were his longtime personal secretary, Father Georg Gänswein, who is now Archbishop Gänswein, the prefect of the Pontifical Household.

The other three newly ordained prelates—all of them Vatican officials—are Archbishops Fortunatus Nwachukwu, the apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua; Nicholas Thevenin, the nuncio to Guatemala; and Angelo Vincenzo Zani, the secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

Later, at his Angelus audience, the Pope returned to the theme of the Magi, saying that they represent the encounter of the secular world with Christ. The wise men, he said, stand for “the peoples--and we can also say the civilizations, cultures, and religions—that are, so to speak, on the path to God.”


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