Speaking to a group of bishops gathered in Rome this week, Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, said “in the midst of the dramatic divisions and injuries in the world” the Church is called to give a reason for the hope which she bears.
“In the midst of the dramatic and persistent divisions and wounds in the world, the Church is called, through her pastors, the Successors to the Apostles, to give a reason for the hope which she bears, announcing and giving witness to the saving Word of God, the Word of life, that gives peace and unity to men of every race and condition,” he said.
During the seminar promoted by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Colombian cardinal explained the sacramental roots of the Munus docendi, the evangelical and missionary purpose of episcopal ministry, inculturation and interreligious dialogue.
“Christ is made present in us, the pastors visible to the eyes of the faithful, such that ‘in an eminent and visible way’ we carry on the role of Christ as teacher, shepherd and pontiff, and we act in his person,” Cardinal Castrillon said.
Regarding the teaching ministry of the bishop, the cardinal underscored that “in the development of our ministry and in the planning of pastoral activities in our dioceses, we must always remember that the word of the bishop is never just a message or the broadcasting of information: it has a salvific content, because through it Christ works.”
The episcopal ministry of announcing the Word of God should always be, he pointed out, in complete union with Christ and with his Church: “It is a mission which consists of piously safeguarding and announcing the faith with courage and of defending the Christian people from the errors which threaten it.”
Referring to inculturation, the Cardinal explained that the teaching mission which bishops carry out in mission territories “is a true inculturation of the Gospel: you announce and give witness to the mystery of Christ, knowing that it is the fundamental criteria for judging all authentic inculturation.”
The first rule of all inculturation is “to make the Gospel inhabit a determined culture”: it is profound process which requires a just amount of time, for sometimes “we think we are being slow or taking too long because we are caught up in the idolatry of our day of being efficient and of obtaining immediate results, and of the culture of seeing results at all costs,” he pointed out.