.- Bishops should imitate St. Peter as leaders of the Church by following the word of God instead of shifting popular opinion, said Archbishop Jerome G. Hanus of Dubuque, Iowa.
âAccording to Jesus' words, a leader in the manner of Peter must be solid as a rock, he cannot be fickle, he cannot change with the winds of popularity, he must subject himself to Godâs word,â the archbishop said at St. Peterâs tomb on March 7.
Archbishop Hanus is one of 21 bishops from Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska and Kansas who are beginning their âad limina apostolurumâ (to the threshold of the apostles) visit in Rome.
The visit kicked off with an early morning Mass on March 7 in St. Peterâs Basilica. Over the next six days they will meet with the Pope and Vatican officials to discuss the health of the Church in each of their dioceses.
Archbishop Hanus preached about Matthew 16:18, in which Christ proclaimed âYou are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church.â He noted how âJesus assigns the leadership responsibility to Peter only after Peter proclaims his faith in Jesus,â adding that âany leader must begin service by professing faith in Jesus.â
He also said that the way Peter âdid not choose to be a leaderâ is still the way leadership is given in the Church today. It still comes as âa gift, a call from Christ.â
In terms of the papacy, âwhat Jesus entrusted to Peter is entrusted to the successors of Peter â the bishops of Rome â and in our day to Pope Benedict XVI,â he explained. This is because since the days of the early Church âsomeone had to decideâ on matters of faith and morals.
âAccording to the meaning of todayâs Gospel, that responsibility of ultimate decision was given by Jesus to Peter and his successors.â
This is why Christians, and particularly Catholics, have always âunderstood that Peterâs leadership role in the Church is so essential, it is an essential component of the Church,â he said.
âIt is part of what we believe, what we profess in our faith.â
Like any leadership role in the Church, it is also a ministry based on service, so that âepiscopal leadership, papal leadership, is for Christians and particularly for us Catholics a source of appreciation, assurance, guidance, peaceful acceptance.â
The bishopsâ schedule for today also included a meeting with the Vaticanâs Congregation for Bishops. This evening they will be guests of honor at a reception hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See.