.- Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI met with a group of recently ordained bishops who have just completed a period of prayer and reflection over their upcoming duties and new roles. He called on them to be teachers of the faith, and to announce to people the profound good news of the Gospel--a reason, he said, for which to live.
In his address to the bishops, all of whom have been ordained within the last 12 months, the Pope said that "this meeting is part of initiatives for the permanent formation of bishops. ... If many reasons call for a commitment to an aggiornamento on the part of bishops, then it is all the more appropriate that they should have, at the very start of their mission, the opportunity to pass an adequate period of reflection upon the challenges and problems awaiting them."
"Taking your first steps in your episcopal role," he told them, "you have already become aware of the necessity for a humble trust in God and for the apostolic courage that is born of faith and of a bishop's sense of responsibility."
"Among your duties," he stressed, "I would like to underline that of being teachers of the faith. The announcement of the Gospel lies at the origin of the Church and of her development in the world, as well as being at the roots of the expansion of faith among the faithful. ... As successors to the Apostles, you are 'doctores fidei,' true doctors who, with the same authority as Christ, announce to the people a faith in which to believe and which to live."
The Pope said that "Responding to God requires an interior journey that brings the believer to the encounter with the Lord. ... This calls for interior life, silence, and vigilance, attitudes that I invite you not only to experience in person, but also to propose to your faithful, organizing appropriate initiatives ... to help them discover the primacy of spiritual life."
The Holy Father also recalled his presentation of the new Compendium, or summary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church during the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul earlier this summer, and told the bishops that, "Today, symbolically, I give each of you these two fundamental documents of the Church's faith, that they may be a point of reference in your teaching and a sign of our communion of faith."
He invited the new prelates to stay close to the priests and catechists of their dioceses, and, referring to the Year of the Eucharist, now coming to an end, the Pope exhorted them to ensure that it "leaves in the hearts of the faithful the desire to root their lives ever more in the Eucharist."
"All bishops should take particular care over the participation of the faithful in Sunday Mass," he said, "in which the Word of life rings out, and where Christ Himself is present in the species of bread and wine. Moreover, Mass enables the faithful to nourish the community which is also part of the faith."
Calling them his brethren, the Holy Father concluded his address telling the bishops to "have great trust in grace, and know how to infuse this trust in your collaborators, that the precious pearl of faith may shine forth always, treasured, defended and transmitted in all its purity."