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Authority in the Church requires docility to Christ, Pope tells weekly audience

Catholic World News - May 26, 2010

All authority in the Church comes from Christ, Pope Benedict XVI told his public audience on May 26. Therefore, holding any office "subjects the person to the mystery of Christ, making him His servant."

The Holy Father had devoted three weekly audiences to the priestly ministry, and in his third and final talk of the series he spoke of the priest's duty to "govern and guide-- with the authority of Christ, not with his own."

No one in the Church can act purely on his own authority, the Pope continued. He pointed out that this is especially true of the Roman Pontiff, who "cannot do as he pleases; quite the contrary, he is the custodian of obedience to Christ and his Word."

If they expect the faithful to follow their leadership, Pope Benedict said, bishops and priests should make it clear that they themselves accept the guidance of the Church. He explained:

No one, in fact, is truly capable of feeding the flock if they do not live in profound and authentic obedience to Christ and the Church; and the docility of the people towards their priests depends on the docility of priests toward Christ.

In the Church, all leadership entails service, the Pope said. "Christ's power was expressed in the washing of feet, and his kingship by the wood of the Cross; so too, the priestly ministry of governance must be expressed in pastoral charity."

Leaders who seek to act on their own authority, without reference to divine guidance, are dangerous, the Pope argued. He said: "The regimes which spread death and terror last century are a powerful reminder that authority, in all fields, when exercised without reference to the transcendent, when it ignores the supreme authority that is God Himself, inevitably ends up by turning against man."

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