Vatican City, Oct 16, 2003 / 22:00 pm
Bishops are called to be prophets, witnesses and servants of hope in the world, says the new Vatican document on the role of bishops. "Pastores gregis" addresses all aspects of the ministry of bishops, including their teaching, collegiality and spirituality, and recalls the great importance of the ministry of bishops in the lives of the people of God and the Church.
The 192-page document was signed and issued by the pope yesterday on the occasion of his 25th-anniversary. The apostolic exhortation emerged from the 10th Synod of Bishops that was held in 2001, from Sept. 27 to Oct. 30.
The document, directed to the Church's 4,695 bishops and written under the theme "The Bishop: Minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World", reiterates the need for priests to remain celibate.
In it, the pope reaffirms the bishops' authority on moral issues and emphasizes the bishop's role as a teacher of the faith, underlining the need for clear teachings of the faith, "particularly in this time marked by religious indifference and ignorance."