Catholic World News

Pope to new bishops: listen to your people, cultivate discernment, avoid rigidity

September 14, 2017

Pope Francis asked newly appointed bishops to “cultivate an attitude of listening” in their pastoral work, in an address delivered on September 14 to participants in an orientation program run by the Congregation for Bishops.

The Pope said that bishops should listen to other bishops, to their priests, and to the laity before making decisions. He insisted that they should not “bring your own ideas and projects, nor abstract, invented solutions that treat the Church like your own vegetable garden.”

”The bishop is not the ‘self-sufficient father-patron’ and still less the frightened and isolated ‘solitary pastor,” the Pontiff said. He said that consultation, dialogue, and discernment are essential to those who want to avoid being “imprisoned by nostalgia.”

Discernment, in particular, is an “antidote against rigidity,” the Pope said, because “the same solutions aren’t valid everywhere.”

Pope Francis encouraged bishops to become thoroughly acquainted with their dioceses, with the spiritual and cultural traditions of their people. He added that they should be particular attentive to “the culture of religiosity” and popular devotions in their dioceses, since they are “often the foundation of a people’s self-understanding.”


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  • Posted by: unum - Sep. 15, 2017 8:57 AM ET USA

    The U.S. bishops don't have time for "listening". They are too busy writing political letters telling the Congress of the U.S. what to do. The moral guidance for the faithful is lost in the political opinions of our bishops!

  • Posted by: john.n.akiko7522 - Sep. 15, 2017 1:15 AM ET USA

    Another take on discernment from Cardinal Burke: “Discernment means seeking to know the will of God in my life. As such, it means studying carefully what God teaches us in the Church and applying it faithfully to my life,”