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The spirit and practice of poverty in Bishops


20 The Synod Fathers, as a sign of collegial unity, responded to the appeal which I made at the opening Mass of the Synod that the evangelical Beatitude of poverty should be considered an indispensable condition for a fruitful episcopal ministry in present-day circumstances. Here too, amid the assembly of Bishops there stood out the figure of Christ the Lord, ''who carried out the work of redemption in poverty and under oppression'', and who invites the Church, and above all her pastors, ''to follow the same path in communicating to humanity the fruits of salvation''.87

Consequently, the Bishop who wishes to be an authentic witness and minister of the Gospel of hope must be a vir pauper. This is demanded by the witness he is called to bear to Christ, who was himself poor. It is also demanded by the Church's concern for the poor, who must be the object of a preferential option. The Bishop's decision to carry out his ministry in poverty contributes decisively to making the Church the ''home of the poor''.

This decision also provides the Bishop with inner freedom in the exercise of his ministry and enables him to communicate effectively the fruits of salvation. Episcopal authority must be exercised with untiring generosity and inexhaustible liberality. On the Bishop's part, this calls for complete trust in the providence of the heavenly Father, an open-hearted communion of goods, an austere way of life and continuous personal conversion. Only in this way will he be able to share in the struggles and sufferings of the People of God, whom he is called not only to lead and nourish but with whom he must show fraternal solidarity, sharing their problems and helping to build their hope.

He will carry out this service effectively if his own life is simple, sober and at the same time active and generous, and if it places those considered least important in our society not on the fringes but rather at the centre of the Christian community.88 Almost without realizing it, he will foster a ''creativity in charity'' which will bear fruit not simply in the efficiency of the assistance offered but also in an ability to live in a spirit of fraternal sharing. In the Church of the Apostles, as the Book of Acts clearly witnesses, the poverty of some members of the community called forth the solidarity of others, with the amazing result that ''there was not a needy person among them'' (4:34). The Church needs to bear witness to this prophecy before a world assailed by the problems of hunger and inequality between peoples. In this perspective of sharing and of simplicity of life, the Bishop will administer the goods of the Church like the ''good head of a household'', and be careful to ensure that they are used for the Church's own specific ends: the worship of God, the support of her ministers, the works of the apostolate and initiatives of charity towards the poor.

The title procurator pauperum has always been applied to the Church's pastors. This must also be the case today, so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ can become present and be heard as a source of hope for all, but especially for those who can expect from God alone a more dignified life and a better future. Encouraged by the example of their pastors, the Church and the Churches must practise that ''preferential option for the poor'' which I have indicated as programmatic for the third millennium.89

With chastity at the service of a Church which reflects

the purity of Christ


21 ''Receive this ring, the seal of fidelity: adorned with undefiled faith, preserve unblemished the Bride of God, the holy Church''. These words of the Roman Pontifical 90 urge the Bishop to realize that he is committed to mirroring the virginal love of Christ for all his faithful ones. He is called above all to foster relationships inspired by the respect and esteem befitting a family where love flourishes, in accordance with the exhortation of the Apostle Peter: ''Love one another deeply, from the heart, for you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God (1P 1,22-23)''.

While exhorting Christians by his example and words to offer their bodies as a living and holy sacrifice pleasing to God (cf. Rom Rm 12,1), the Bishop must remind everyone that ''the form of this world is passing away'' (1Co 7,31), and that it is our duty to ''wait in joyful hope'' for Christ's return in glory (cf. Tit Tt 2,13). In his pastoral concern he should be especially close with paternal affection to all who have embraced the religious life in the profession of the evangelical counsels and who offer their valuable service to the Church. He will support and encourage priests, who, called by God's grace, have freely assumed the commitment of celibacy for the Kingdom of Heaven, and remind himself and them of the evangelical and spiritual grounds of this choice, so important for the service of the People of God. In the reality of the Church and the world today, the witness of chaste love is, on the one hand, a form of spiritual therapy for humanity and, on the other, a form of protest against the idolatry of instinct.

In the present social context, the Bishop needs to remain particularly close to his flock and above all to his priests, showing a father's concern for their ascetic and spiritual difficulties, and providing them with appropriate support to encourage them in fidelity to their vocation and to the requirements of an exemplary life in the exercise of the ministry. In cases of grave lapses, and even more of crimes which do damage to the very witness of the Gospel, especially when these involve the Church's ministers, the Bishop must be firm and decisive, just and impartial. He is bound to intervene in a timely manner, according to the established canonical norms, for the correction and spiritual good of the sacred minister, for the reparation of scandal and the restoration of justice, and for all that is required for the protection and assistance of victims.

By his words and example, and in his vigilance and paternal intervention, the Bishop fulfils his duty to offer the world the reality of a Church which is holy and chaste, in her ministers and in her faithful. When he does so, he walks as a pastor at the head of his flock, as did Christ the Bridegroom, who gave his life for us and who left to all the example of a love which is transparent and virginal, and therefore fruitful and universal.

The proponent of a spirituality of communion and mission


22 In my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I pointed out the need to ''make the Church the home and the school of communion''.91 This remark had a vast resonance and was taken up by the Synodal Assembly. Obviously the Bishop, in his own spiritual journey, has the primary duty of promoting and encouraging a spirituality of communion, and tirelessly working to make it a basic educational principle wherever human and Christian formation takes place: in parishes, Catholic associations, ecclesial movements, Catholic schools and youth groups. The Bishop will be particularly concerned to ensure that the spirituality of communion takes root and grows wherever future priests are trained, that is to say, in seminaries and in religious novitiates, in religious houses, in institutes and faculties of theology.

In that same Apostolic Letter I indicated the broad outlines of this promotion of a spirituality of communion. Here it will suffice to add that a Bishop must encourage this spirituality especially among his presbyterate, as well as among deacons and men and women religious. He will do so in personal dialogue and encounters, but also in community meetings. To this end he will make an effort to provide in his own particular Church special occasions which facilitate listening, especially to the Spirit ''who speaks to the Churches'' (
Ac 2,7 et al.). Examples of the latter would be retreats, spiritual exercises and days of spirituality, and also a prudent use of new communications media, should this prove useful and effective.

For a Bishop, fostering a spirituality of communion also means nurturing his communion with the Roman Pontiff and with his brother Bishops, especially within the same Episcopal Conference and Ecclesiastical Province. Here too, as an important means of overcoming the risk of a sense of isolation and discouragement in the face of the immensity of the problems and the time spent in dealing with them, the Bishop, in addition to prayer, should readily avail himself of the friendship and fraternal communion of his brother Bishops.

Communion, in its Trinitarian source and model, is always expressed in mission. Mission is the fruit and the logical consequence of communion. The dynamic process of communion is favoured by openness to the horizons and demands of mission, always ensuring the witness of unity so that the world may believe and making ever greater room for love, so that all people may attain to the Trinitarian unity from which they have come forth and to which they are destined. The more intense communion is, the more mission is fostered, especially when it is lived out in the poverty of love, which is the ability to go forth to meet any person or group or culture with the power of the Cross, our spes unica and the supreme witness to the love of God, which is also manifested as a universal love of our brothers and sisters.

A journey undertaken in everyday life


23 Spiritual realism enables us to see that the Bishop is called to live out his vocation to holiness in a context of difficulties within and without, amid his own weaknesses and those of others, in daily contingencies and personal and institutional problems. This is a constant feature of the life of pastors, as Saint Gregory the Great acknowledged when he admitted with regret: ''After having laid upon my heart the burden of the pastoral office, my spirit has become incapable of frequent recollection, because it remains divided among many things. I am obliged to judge the cases of Churches and monasteries; often I am called to involve myself in the lives and actions of individuals ... And so with my mind pulled and torn, forced to think of so many things, when can it recollect itself and concentrate totally on preaching, without withdrawing from the ministry of proclaiming the word? ... The life of the watchman must always be on high and on guard''.92

In order to counterbalance the centrifugal impulses which would disperse his inner unity, the Bishop needs to cultivate a serene lifestyle capable of ensuring his mental, emotional and affective equilibrium and enabling him to be open to individuals and communities, and to their needs, as one who truly shares in their different situations, their joys and their sorrows. Caring for one's own health in its various aspects is also for the Bishop an act of love for his faithful and a pledge of greater openness and docility to the prompting of the Spirit. Hence, the advice which Saint Charles Borromeo, himself an outstanding pastor, proposed in the last of his Synods: ''Do you have the care of souls? Do not on this account neglect the care of yourself, and do not give yourself to others in such a way that nothing of you remains for yourself. You must certainly keep in mind the souls of which you are pastor, but do not forget yourself''.93

The Bishop will therefore be concerned to have a balanced approach to his many commitments, maintaining a harmony between them: the celebration of the divine mysteries and personal prayer, private study and pastoral planning, recollection and necessary rest. Supported by these aids to the spiritual life, he will find peace of heart and experience profound communion with the Holy Trinity who chose and consecrated him. With God's unfailing grace, he will carry out his daily ministry as a witness to hope, attentive to the needs of the Church and the world.

The permanent formation of Bishops


24 The Bishop's untiring commitment to the pursuit of holiness through a Christocentric and ecclesial spirituality was closely linked in the Synodal Assembly to his urgent need for permanent formation. As was stressed in previous Synods and reaffirmed in the successive Apostolic ExhortationsChristifideles Laici, Pastores Dabo Vobis and Vita Consecrata, permanent formation is necessary for all the faithful and should be considered particularly necessary for the Bishop, who bears personal responsibility for the harmonious progress of all in the Church.

For the Bishop, as for priests and religious, permanent formation is an intrinsic requirement of his vocation and mission. Through permanent formation he is able to discern the new calls by which God clarifies the initial call and applies it to different situations. The Apostle Peter, after hearing the words ''follow me'' at his first meeting with Christ (cf. Mt
Mt 4,19), heard this command again from the Risen One, who before leaving the earth foretold to him the trials and tribulations of his future ministry and then added: ''You follow me'' (cf. Jn Jn 21,22). ''Consequently, there is a 'follow me' which accompanies the Apostle's whole life and mission. It is a 'follow me' in line with the call and the demand of faithfulness unto death, a 'follow me' which can signify a sequela Christi to the point of total self-giving in martyrdom''.94 Clearly it is not simply a matter of setting up adequate programmes of continuing education aimed at providing a realistic acquaintance with the situation of the Church and the world, which would then enable pastors to deal with contemporary issues with an open mind and a compassionate heart. This is in itself a good reason for permanent formation, but there are also anthropological reasons, based on the fact that life itself is a continuing journey towards maturity, as well as theological reasons, deeply connected to the sacrament once received: the Bishop in fact must ''safeguard with vigilant love the 'mystery' which he bears within his heart for the good of the Church and mankind''.95

Periodic updating, especially on certain more important subjects, calls for longer periods for listening, fellowship and dialogue with experts Bishops, priests, religious men and women, and lay people in an exchange of pastoral experiences, sound doctrine and spiritual resources which will ensure genuine personal enrichment. To this end the Synod Fathers emphasized the usefulness of special courses of formation for Bishops, like the annual sessions sponsored by the Congregation for Bishops or by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples for recently ordained Bishops. Likewise, there was a call to make available short courses of formation or days of study and updating, as well as programmes of spiritual exercises for Bishops, organized by Patriarchal Synods, Episcopal Conferences at the regional and national levels and also by the continental Assemblies of Bishops.

It would also be appropriate for the Officers of the Episcopal Conference to take on the responsibility of providing for the preparation and implementation of such programmes of permanent formation, and to encourage Bishops to take part in these courses, so as to build greater communion among them and to ensure more effective pastoral care in the individual Dioceses.96

It is in any case evident that, like the life of the Church itself, pastoral styles and initiatives and forms of episcopal ministry are evolving. For this reason too, updating is needed, in conformity with the norms of the Code of Canon Law and in view of the new challenges and commitments of the Church in society. In this context the Synodal Assembly proposed a revision of the Directory Ecclesiae Imago, issued by the Congregation for Bishops on 22 February 1973, and its adaptation to the needs of the times and the changes which have taken place in the Church and pastoral life.97

The example of sainted Bishops


25 In their life and ministry, in their spiritual journey and their efforts to carry out their pastoral activity, Bishops have always found encouragement in the lives of the saints who were themselves pastors. In my homily at the concluding Eucharistic celebration of the Synod, I held up the example of the holy pastors canonized during the last century as a testimony to a grace of the Holy Spirit which has never been lacking and will never be lacking in the Church.98

Throughout the history of the Church, from the Apostles onwards, there has been an extraordinary number of pastors whose teaching and holiness are capable of giving light and direction for the spiritual journey of Bishops in the third millennium. The glorious witness of the great pastors of the early centuries of the Church, of the founders of particular Churches, of the confessors and martyrs who in times of persecution gave their life for Christ, remains as a beacon to which the Bishops of our time can refer and from which they can derive guidance and encouragement in their service to the Gospel.

Many of those Bishops were exemplary in the practice of the virtue of hope, when in difficult times they revived the spirits of their people, rebuilt churches after times of persecution or calamity, constructed hospices for pilgrims and the poor, and opened hospitals to care for the sick and the elderly. Many others were enlightened leaders who blazed new trails for their people. In times of difficulty, with their gaze firmly fixed on the crucified and risen Christ, our hope, they reacted positively and creatively to the challenges of the moment. At the beginning of the third millennium, some of those pastors are still among us, and they have a story to tell, a story of faith firmly anchored to the Cross. They are pastors who have a sense of people's aspirations and can take them up, purify them and interpret them in the light of the Gospel, and for this reason they too have a future to build, together with the people entrusted to their care.

Consequently, each particular Church should be concerned to celebrate its own saints who were Bishops and also to remember those pastors who by virtue of their holy lives and enlightened teachings handed down to their people a particular legacy of admiration and affection. They are the spiritual sentinels who from heaven guide the way of the pilgrim Church through time. In order to keep ever alive the memory of those faithful Bishops who were outstanding in the exercise of their ministry, the Synodal Assembly recommended that particular Churches or, when suitable, the Bishops' Conferences, should make the lives of these Bishops known to the faithful through updated biographies and, when the case warrants, consider the possibility of introducing their cause for canonization.99

Today too, the testimony of a fully realized spiritual and apostolic life remains the greatest proof of the power of the Gospel to transform individuals and communities, thus enabling God's own holiness to break into the world and history. Here we find yet another reason for hope, especially for the younger generation, which looks to the Church for exciting ideas and a vision capable of inspiring their efforts to renew in Christ the society of our time.



CHAPTER THREE


TEACHER OF THE FAITH


AND HERALD OF THE WORD


''Go into all the world and preach the Gospel... (Mc 16,15)


26 The risen Jesus entrusted to his Apostles the mission of ''making disciples'' of all nations, teaching them to observe all that he himself had commanded. The task of proclaiming the Gospel to the whole world has thus been solemnly entrusted to the Church, the community of the disciples of the crucified and risen Lord. It is a task which will continue until the end of time. From the beginning, this mission of evangelization has been an integral part of the Church's identity. The Apostle Paul was well aware of this when he wrote: ''If I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! (1Co 9,16).

If the duty of proclaiming the Gospel is incumbent upon the whole Church and each of her children, it is particularly so upon Bishops, who on the day of their sacred ordination, which places them in apostolic succession, assume as one of their principal responsibilities the proclamation of the Gospel; ''with the courage imparted by the Spirit, they are to call people to faith and strengthen them in living faith''.100

The Bishop's work of evangelization, aimed at leading men and women to faith or to strengthening the faith within them, is an outstanding manifestation of his spiritual fatherhood. He can thus repeat with Paul: ''Though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the Gospel'' (1Co 4,15). Precisely because of this constant process of begetting new life in the Spirit, the episcopal ministry appears in the world as a sign of hope for every individual and people.

The Synod Fathers rightly stated that the proclamation of Christ always takes first place and that the Bishop is the first preacher of the Gospel by his words and by the witness of his life. He must be aware of the challenges of the present hour and have the courage to face them. All Bishops, as ministers of truth, will carry out this task with strength and trust.101

Christ at the heart of the Gospel and of humanity


27 The proclamation of the Gospel emerged as a prominent theme in the interventions of the Synod Fathers, who on several occasions and in a wide variety of ways stated that the living centre of the preaching of the Gospel is Christ, crucified and risen for the salvation of all peoples.102

Christ is in fact the heart of evangelization and, as I myself have often insisted, is the very programme of the new evangelization, which ''ultimately has its centre in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem. This is a programme which does not change with shifts of times and cultures, even though it takes account of time and culture for the sake of true dialogue and effective communication. This programme for all times is our programme for the Third Millennium''.103

From Christ, the heart of the Gospel, all the other truths of faith are derived, and hope shines forth for all humanity. Christ is the light which enlightens everyone, and all those reborn in him receive the first fruits of the Spirit, which enable them to fulfil the new law of love.104

By virtue of his apostolic mission the Bishop is enabled to lead his people to the heart of the mystery of faith, where they will be able to encounter the living person of Jesus Christ. In this way they will come to understand that all Christian experience has its source and its unfailing point of reference in the Paschal mystery of Jesus, the victor over sin and death.105

The proclamation of the Lord's death and Resurrection thus includes ''the prophetic proclamation of a hereafter, which is man's deepest and definitive calling, in continuity and discontinuity with his present situation: beyond time and history, beyond the reality of this world, which is passing away ... Evangelization thus includes the preaching of hope in the promises made by God in the new Covenant in Jesus Christ''.106

The Bishop, hearer and guardian of the word


28 The Second Vatican Council, advancing along the path indicated by the Church's tradition, explains that the mission of teaching proper to Bishops consists in reverently safeguarding and courageously proclaiming the faith.107

Here we see all the rich meaning of the gesture found in the Roman rite of episcopal ordination, when the open Book of the Gospels is placed on the head of the Bishop-elect. This gesture indicates, on the one hand, that the word embraces and watches over the Bishop's ministry and, on the other, that the Bishop's life is to be completely submitted to the word of God in his daily commitment of preaching the Gospel in all patience and sound doctrine (cf.
2Tm 4). The Synod Fathers often stated that the Bishop is one who keeps the word of God with love and courageously defends it as he testifies to its message of salvation. The meaning of the episcopal munus docendi is rooted in the very nature of what must be preserved, that is, the deposit of faith.

Christ our Lord in the sacred Scripture of the Old and New Testaments and in Tradition has entrusted to his Church the one deposit of divine revelation, which is like a mirror in which the Church during her pilgrim journey here on earth ''contemplates God, from whom she receives everything, until such time as she is brought home to see him face to face as he really is''.108 This has happened down the centuries until our own day: the different communities, in welcoming the word, ever new and effective in the course of time, have listened with docility to the voice of the Holy Spirit, pledging themselves to make it alive, applicable and effective in different times of history. In this way the word handed down Tradition has become ever more consciously a word of life, and at the same time the task of proclaiming and preserving it has progressively continued under the guidance and assistance of the Spirit of Truth, as a continuous passing on of all that the Church herself is and all that she believes.109

This Tradition, which comes from the Apostles, makes progress in the life of the Church, as the Second Vatican Council has taught. There is likewise growth and development in the understanding of the realities and words handed down, so that in holding, practising and professing the faith that has been handed on, there comes about a unique harmony between the Bishops and the faithful.110 In striving to remain faithful to the Spirit who speaks within the Church, the faithful and the Bishops converge and create those profound bonds of faith which represent as it were the first stage of thesensus fidei. Here it is helpful to listen once more to the words of the Council: ''The whole body of the faithful, who have an anointing that comes from the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Jn 2,20), cannot err in matters of belief. This characteristic is shown in the supernatural sense of the faith (sensus fidei) of the whole people, when, 'from the bishops to the last of the faithful' they manifest a universal consent in matters of faith and morals''.111

Consequently, for every Bishop the life of the Church and life in the Church is the condition for exercising his mission to teach. A Bishop finds his identity and place amid the community of the Lord's disciples where he received the gift of divine life and his first instruction in the faith. Every Bishop, especially when he is seated in his cathedral before the faithful and exercising his role as a teacher in the Church, must be able to repeat with Saint Augustine: ''With respect to the place which we occupy, we are your teachers; with respect to the one Master, we are fellow disciples with you in the same school''.112 In the Church, the school of the living God, Bishops and the faithful are all fellow disciples, and all need to be taught by the Spirit.

Many indeed are the places from which the Spirit imparts his inner teaching: first of all, in the heart of every person, and then in the life of the various particular Churches, where the various needs of individuals and the various ecclesial communities emerge and make themselves heard, not only in languages that are known but also in those that are new and different.

The Spirit also makes himself heard as he awakens in the Church different forms of charisms and services. For this reason too, there were frequent calls during the Synod for Bishops to have direct and personal contact with the faithful living in the communities entrusted to their pastoral care, following the example of the Good Shepherd who knows his sheep and calls each by name. Indeed, frequent meetings of the Bishop with his priests, in the first place, and then with the deacons, consecrated persons and their communities, and with the laity, individually and in their various forms of association, are of great importance for the exercise of effective ministry among the People of God.

Authentic and authoritative service of the word


29 At his episcopal ordination, each Bishop received the fundamental mission of authoritatively proclaiming the word of God. Indeed, every Bishop, by virtue of sacred ordination, is an authentic teacher who preaches to the people entrusted to his care the faith to be believed and to be put into practice in the moral life. This means that Bishops are endowed with the authority of Christ himself, and for this fundamental reason when they ''teach in communion with the Roman Pontiff they are to be revered by all as witnesses of divine and catholic truth; the faithful, for their part, are obliged to submit to their Bishop's decision, made in the name of Christ, in matters of faith and morals, and to adhere to it with a religious assent of the mind''.113 In this service of the truth, every Bishop is placed before the community, inasmuch as he is for the community, which is the object of his proper pastoral concern and for which he insistently lifts up his prayer to God.

That which every Bishop has heard and received from the heart of the Church he must then give back to his brothers and sisters, whom he must care for like the Good Shepherd. In him the sensus fideiattains completeness. As the Second Vatican Council teaches: ''By the sense of the faith, which is aroused and sustained by the Spirit of truth, the People of God, under the guidance of the magisterium to which it is faithfully obedient, receives no longer the words of men, but truly the word of God (cf.
1Th 2,13), it adheres 'indefectibly to the faith once for all delivered to the saints' (Jud 3). It penetrates more deeply into that same faith through right judgment, and applies it more fully to life''.114 The word of the Bishop is thus, within the community and before it, no longer simply his private word, but rather the word of a pastor who strengthens the community in faith, gathers it around the mystery of God and gives it life.

The faithful need the word of their Bishop, they need to have their faith confirmed and purified. The Synodal Assembly for its part emphasized this need and drew attention to several specific areas in which it is particularly felt. One of these areas is that of the initial proclamation of the word, thekerygma, which is always needed for bringing about the obedience of faith, but is all the more urgent today, in times marked by indifference and by religious ignorance on the part of many Christians.115In the area of catechesis too, the Bishop is clearly the pre-eminent catechist of his people. The decisive role in this area played by so many great and saintly Bishops, whose catechetical writings are still read with profit today, makes it clear that it remains the Bishop's duty to be ultimately in charge of the catechesis imparted in his Diocese. In carrying out this duty he will not fail to refer to theCatechism of the Catholic Church.

The words which I addressed to Bishops in my Apostolic Exhortation Catechesi Tradendae remain valid: ''You have a special mission within your Churches, you are before all others the ones primarily responsible for catechesis''.116 It is therefore the duty of every Bishop to give real priority in his particular Church to active and effective catechesis. He must demonstrate his personal concern through direct interventions aimed at promoting and preserving an authentic passion for catechesis.117

Conscious, then, of his responsibility in the area of transmitting and teaching the faith, every Bishop must ensure that a corresponding concern is shown by all those who by their vocation and mission are called to hand down the faith. This means priests and deacons, the faithful who have embraced the consecrated life, fathers and mothers of families, pastoral workers and in a special way catechists, as well as teachers of theology and teachers of the ecclesiastical sciences and religious education.118 The Bishop will thus take care to provide them with both initial and ongoing training.

In carrying out this duty Bishops will derive particular benefit from open dialogue and cooperation with theologians, whose task it is to employ an appropriate methodology in the quest for deeper knowledge of the unfathomable richness of the mystery of Christ. Bishops will not fail to encourage and support them and the schools or academic institutions where they work, so that they can carry out their service to the People of God in fidelity to Tradition and with attentiveness to changing historical circumstances.119 Whenever appropriate, Bishops must firmly defend the unity and integrity of the faith, judging with authority what is or is not in conformity with the word of God.120

The Synod Fathers also called the Bishops' attention to their magisterial responsibilities in the area of morality. The rules that the Church sets forth reflect the divine commandments, which find their crown and synthesis in the Gospel command of love. The end to which every divine rule tends is the greater good of human beings. The exhortation of the Book of Deuteronomy is still valid today: ''Walk in all the way which the Lord your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may go well with you'' (5:33). Nor must we forget that the Ten Commandments have a firm foundation in human nature itself, and thus the values which they defend have universal validity. This is particularly true of values such as human life, which must be defended from conception until its end in natural death; the freedom of individuals and of nations, social justice and the structures needed to achieve it.121


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