Summary: The bishop has a special ministry of leadership, teaching and service in the Church.
November 12, 2012
Vatican II Documents
Monday of 32nd Week in Course
St. Paul writes today that “a bishop, as God's steward, must be blameless; he must not be arrogant or quick-tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, 8 but hospitable, a lover of goodness, master of himself, upright, holy, and self-controlled; 9 he must hold firm to the sure word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to confute those who contradict it.” It is important for each of us to consider our relationship with our bishops, even to examine our consciences on that matter, because they are the living presence of Christ the shepherd in our lives.
Like all clergy, the bishop has three responsibilities: teaching, leading and service. The Council Fathers taught: “Bishops, therefore, with their helpers, the priests and deacons, have taken up the service of the community, (11*) presiding in place of God over the flock,(12*) whose shepherds they are, as teachers for doctrine, priests for sacred worship, and ministers for governing.(13*) And just as the office granted individually to Peter, the first among the apostles, is permanent and is to be transmitted to his successors, so also the apostles' office of nurturing the Church is permanent, and is to be exercised without interruption by the sacred order of bishops. (14*) . . .bishops by divine institution have succeeded to the place of the apostles, (15*) as shepherds of the Church, and he who hears them, hears Christ, and he who rejects them, rejects Christ and Him who sent Christ.” His primary charism should be in leadership. The world has always understood this. That’s why the society that is trying to destroy the Church will go after the bishops, and hit them in their weak spots.
The bishop does not serve and lead as a monad. He belongs to what is called the apostolic college, college here meaning an assembly of like people on a mission: “Just as in the Gospel, the Lord so disposing, St. Peter and the other apostles constitute one apostolic college, so in a similar way the Roman Pontiff, the successor of Peter, and the bishops, the successors of the apostles, are joined together. Indeed, the very ancient practice whereby bishops duly established in all parts of the world were in communion with one another and with the Bishop of Rome in a bond of unity, charity and peace,(23*) and also the councils assembled together,(24*) in which more profound issues were settled in common, (25*) the opinion of the many having been prudently considered,(26*) both of these factors are already an indication of the collegiate character and aspect of the Episcopal order; and the ecumenical councils held in the course of centuries are also manifest proof of that same character.” Bishops also meet together in what are called Synods, organized around particular topics. They do this in order to speak to the Church with one voice about a particularly important part of our life. This latest Synod confronted the greatest task of our century, the re-evangelization of our mostly pagan world.