.- Pope Benedict XVI spoke this morning to 40 members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, emphasizing "the significance of work in pontifical representations."
"The service of representation for which you are preparing yourselves," he said, "means participating in that 'sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum' which characterizes the ministry of the Roman Pontiff. ... In this ecclesial perspective, representation involves the need to accept and nourish certain dimensions of one's own priestly life."
The first such dimension is the need "to cultivate full inner adherence to the person of the Pope, his Magisterium and his universal ministry; in other words, complete adherence to the one who has been given the task of strengthening his brothers in the faith. Secondly, it involves attentive care, true 'passion,' for ecclesial communion."
Finally, being a representative of the Roman Pontiff means "having the capacity to be a solid 'bridge,' a safe channel of communication between the particular Churches and the Apostolic See, on the one hand giving the Pope and his collaborators an objective, correct and in-depth view of the ecclesial and social reality in which you live while, on the other, undertaking to transmit the norms, indications and guidelines emanating from the Holy See, not bureaucratically but with profound love for the Church, ... at the same time respecting the efforts of bishops and the path of the particular Churches to which you have been sent."
Pope Benedict continued to say that this service requires "complete dedication and generous willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, individual intuitions, personal projects and other possibilities to exercise the priestly ministry."
If the pontifical representative strives "to enter into harmony with the universal perspective, and to serve the unity of the flock of God, ... he truly becomes a sign of the Pope's presence and charity. And while this is a benefit for the life of all the particular Churches, it is especially so in certain delicate or difficult situations in which, for various reasons, the Christian community finds itself living."
Therefore the work of pontifical representatives is "an authentic priestly service that bears close analogy to the representation of Christ, which is typical of priests. As such, it has an intrinsically sacrificial dimension," he said.
"The figure and presence of the nuncio, the apostolic delegate and the permanent observer is determined not only by the environment in which they work but, first and foremost, by the One Whom they are called to represent. ... Being spokesman for the Vicar of Christ can be demanding, sometimes extremely arduous, but it is never demeaning or depersonalizing. It is, rather, an original way to fulfill one's priestly vocation."