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Bishops should serve, not lord it over their people, Pope tells nuncios

Catholic World News - June 21, 2013

In a June 21 address to apostolic nuncios, Pope Francis stressed the importance of finding bishops who will be good pastors and servants of the faithful in their dioceses.

The nuncios are diplomatic representatives of the Holy See, but in his talk the Pope downplayed their work as ambassadors and laid the heaviest emphasis on their role in identifying candidates for episcopal office. He urged them to be sure that “the candidates are pastors who are close to the people: fathers and brothers.”

“Be attentive that they aren't ambitious, that they don't seek the episcopate,” the Pope said. Candidates to become bishops should be poor in spirit, he said; he warned sternly against those who have “the mindset of princes.”

The Pope warned the nuncios against the same sort of “spiritual worldliness” in their own lives. “Giving in to the spirit of the world, which leads one to act for personal realization and not for the glory of God, is that kind of 'bourgeoisie of spirit and life' that urges one to get comfortable, to seek a calm and easy life,” he said.

Pope Francis acknowledged the hardships involved in service in the Vatican diplomatic corps. “Your lives are nomadic,” he observed, since nuncios typically move from one country to another every few years. Accepting that sort of life, he said, is a “mortification, the sacrifice of stripping yourselves of things, friends, ties, and always beginning anew.” However, he suggested that it may be a means of spiritual growth, since “the goods and perspectives of this world end up disappointing, they push and are never satisfied. The Lord is the good that does not disappoint.”

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  • Posted by: koinonia - Jun. 23, 2013 9:48 AM ET USA

    This is tremendously important with regard to the nonexistent discussion of baptismal rights. Of course this message might be distorted by some who would undo the concept of the hierarchical Church authority structure. It's about souls; the sacraments are for the people. Preach the faith in humility and docility. Humbly accept the enormity of who you are as shepherds of souls. Value justice in the charitable service of God and of his beloved members. Pray for all pastors of souls!

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