On the anniversary of his pontificate, Pope John Paul II signed a new document on the ministry of bishops and encouraged the bishops to "face the challenges of the day."
"The bishop must be frank in teaching the Christian faith, proposing it in an authentic manner," he said in his address to the cardinals and bishops after the signing at 11 a.m. "The bishop must also promote the participation of all of the faithful for the edification of the Church."
The Apostolic Exhortation "Pastores gregis" is the result of the 10th Synod of Bishops that was held in 2001, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 30. The document, under the theme "The Bishop: Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World", recalls the great importance of the ministry of bishops in the lives of the people of God, said the pope.
"Attentive to the needs of the Church, the bishop will face the challenges of the day," said the pope. "He will be a prophet of peace, a defender of rights for the young and the marginalized. He will proclaim to all the Gospel of life, of truth and of love. He will have a predilection toward the multitudes of the poor who populate this world. … He will sustain ecumenical dialogue so that the Church will once again shine among the nations as a vessel of unity and harmony. In the multiethnic society of this third millennium, he will also promote interreligious dialogue.
"The bishops are called to be fathers, teachers, friends and brothers of every person based on the example of Christ. Seeking faithfully this life, he can attain holiness, a holiness that should not grow alongside the ministry but through the ministry itself," he added.
"The pope shares in the anxiety, suffering, hope and joy of your ministry. I am sprirtually beside each one of you," he concluded.