Pastores gregis EN











1 The shepherds of the Lord's flock know that they can count on a special divine grace as they carry out their ministry as Bishops. In the Roman Pontifical, during the solemn prayer of episcopal ordination, the principal ordaining Bishop, after invoking the outpouring of the Holy Spirit who leads and guides, repeats a phrase already found in the ancient text of the Apostolic Tradition: “Grant, O Father, knower of all hearts, that this your servant, whom you have chosen for the office of Bishop, may shepherd your holy flock. May he fulfil before you without reproach the ministry of the High Priesthood.”.1 In this way there continues to be carried out the will of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Shepherd, who sent the Apostles even as he himself was sent by the Father (cf. Jn Jn 20,21), and who wishes that their successors, the Bishops, should remain shepherds in his Church until the end of time.2

The image of the Good Shepherd, so dear also to ancient Christian iconography, was very much present to the Bishops from throughout the world who gathered from 30 September to 27 October 2001 for the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. At the tomb of the Apostle Peter, they joined me in reflecting on the figure of The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.We were all agreed that the figure of Jesus the Good Shepherd represents the primary image to which we must constantly refer. No one, in fact, can be considered a pastor worthy of the name, nisi per caritate efficiatur unum cum Christo.3 This is the fundamental reason why ''the ideal figure of the Bishop, on which the Church continues to count, is that of the pastor who, configured to Christ by his holiness of life, expends himself generously for the Church entrusted to him, while at the same time bearing in his heart a concern for all the Churches throughout the world (cf. 2Co 11,28)''.4

The Tenth Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

2 We give thanks to the Lord, then, for having granted us the gift of celebrating once more an assembly of the Synod of Bishops and thus having a truly profound experience of being Church. Held in the wake of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, at the beginning of the third Christian millennium, the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops followed a long series of assemblies: both the Special Assemblies, all of which were marked by a concern for evangelization on the different continents – from Africa to America, Asia, Oceania and Europe; and the Ordinary Assemblies, the last of which were devoted to a reflection on the rich treasure which the Church possesses in the variety of vocations raised up by the Holy Spirit among the People of God. In this context, the attention devoted to the specific ministry of Bishops completed the picture of that ecclesiology of communion and mission which must always be our fundamental point of reference.

Consequently, the work of the Synod made constant reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council on the episcopate and the ministry of Bishops, especially as set forth in the third chapter of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium and in the Decree on the Pastoral Office of Bishops Christus Dominus. Of this luminous teaching, which repeats and develops traditional theological and juridical themes, my predecessor of venerable memory Pope Paul VI, could rightly say: ''It seems to us that episcopal authority emerges from the Council vindicated in its divine institution, confirmed in its irreplaceable function, renewed in its pastoral powers of teaching, sanctifying and governing, honoured in its extension to the universal Church by way of collegial communion, more clearly identified in its hierarchical aspect, strengthened in shared and fraternal responsibility with other Bishops for the universal and particular needs of the Church, and more strongly associated in a spirit of hierarchical union and joint cooperation with the head of the Church, the constitutive centre of the College of Bishops''.5

At the same time, in keeping with the designated topic of the Synod, the Fathers reviewed their ministry in the light of the theological virtue of hope. This approach immediately appeared as especially pertinent to the mission of the pastor who, in the Church, is first and foremost to bear witness to the Paschal and eschatological mystery.

A hope founded on Christ

3 It is in fact the task of every Bishop to proclaim hope to the world, hope based on the proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ: a hope ''which not only concerns penultimate matters but also and above all that eschatological hope which awaits the riches of the glory of God (cf. Eph Ep 1,18), which surpasses anything that the human heart has ever conceived (cf. 1Co 2,9), and to which the sufferings of the present cannot be compared (cf. Rom Rm 8,18)''.6 A stance of theological hope, together with faith and love, must completely shape the Bishop's pastoral ministry.

The Bishop is called in a particular way to be a prophet, witness and servant of hope. He has the duty of instilling confidence and proclaiming before all people the basis of Christian hope (cf. 1P 3,15). The Bishop is the prophet, witness and servant of this hope, especially where a culture of ''the here and now'' leaves no room for openness to transcendence. Where hope is absent, faith itself is called into question. Love too is weakened by the loss of this virtue. Especially in times of growing unbelief and indifference, hope is a stalwart support for faith and an effective incentive for love. It draws its strength from the certainty of God's desire for the salvation of all people (cf. 1Tm 2,4) and from the constant presence of the Lord Jesus, the Emmanuel who remains with us always, until the end of the world (cf. Mt Mt 28,20).

Only by the light and consolation born of the Gospel can a Bishop succeed in keeping his own hope alive (cf. Rom Rm 15,4) and in nourishing the hope of those entrusted to his pastoral care. He must therefore model himself on the Virgin Mary, the Mother of Hope, who believed in the fulfilment of the Lord's words (cf. Lk Lc 1,45). Relying on the word of God and holding firmly to hope, which like a sure and steadfast anchor reaches to the heavens (cf. Heb He 6,18-20), the Bishop stands in the midst of the Church as a vigilant sentinel, a courageous prophet, a credible witness and a faithful servant of Christ, ''our hope of glory'' (cf. Col Col 1,27), thanks to whom ''death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying nor pain any more'' (cf. Rev Ap 21,4).

Hope, when hopes are dashed

4 Everyone will remember that the sessions of the Synod of Bishops took place at a dramatic time. The terrible events of 11 September 2001 were intensely felt by the Synod Fathers, with the dreadful fate of countless innocent victims and for the appearance in our world of grave new situations of uncertainty and fear, both for human civilization and the peaceful coexistence of nations. A new spectre of war and death appeared, which, when added to the already existing situations of conflict, made all the more evident the need to implore the Prince of Peace that human hearts might open once more to reconciliation, solidarity and peace.7

Together with its prayers, the Synodal assembly spoke out in condemnation of all forms of violence and identified their ultimate source in human sin. Acknowledging the failure of human hopes based on materialist, immanentist and market ideologies which claim to measure everything in terms of efficiency, relationships of power and market forces, the Synod Fathers reaffirmed their conviction that only the light of the Risen One and the guidance of the Holy Spirit can enable people to base their expectations on the hope that does not disappoint. Thus, they proclaimed: ''We should not allow ourselves to be intimidated by those doctrines which deny the existence of the living God and which strive, more or less openly, to undermine, parody or deride Christian hope. In the joy of the Spirit we profess: 'Christ is truly risen!' In his glorified humanity he has opened up the prospect of eternal life for all those who accept the grace of conversion''.8

The certainty of this profession of faith must be such that it daily strengthens a Bishop's hope and makes him increasingly confident of the unfailing power of God's merciful goodness to open up paths of salvation and propose them to the freedom of each person. Hope encourages a Bishop to discern, wherever he exercises his ministry, the signs of life which are able to uproot the seeds of destruction and death. Hope sustains him as he transforms conflicts themselves into an opportunity for growth and for reconciliation. Hope in Jesus the Good Shepherd will fill his heart with compassion, prompting him to draw near to the pain of every suffering man and woman and to soothe their wounds, ever confident that every lost sheep will be found. The Bishop will thus be an ever more luminous sign of Christ, the Shepherd and Spouse of the Church. Acting as father, brother and friend to all, he will stand beside everyone as the living image of Christ, our hope, in whom all God's promises are fulfilled and all the expectations of creation are brought to completion.9

Servants of the Gospel for the hope of the world

5 In issuing this Apostolic Exhortation, I now take up the reflections which developed during the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, from the first Lineamenta to theInstrumentum Laboris, from the interventions made in the Hall by the Synod Fathers to the two Relations that introduced and summarized these interventions, from the theoretical and practical pastoral insights that emerged from the small groups to the Propositiones presented to me at the conclusion of the Synod to assist me in preparing for the whole Church a document on the Synod's theme of The Bishop, Servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the Hope of the World.10 In doing so, I send my fraternal greetings and the kiss of peace to all the Bishops in communion with this See, first entrusted to Peter so that he might be a guarantee of unity and, as is recognized by all, preside in love.11

To you, venerable and dear Brothers, I repeat the invitation that I addressed to the whole Church at the beginning of the millennium: Duc in altum! It is Christ himself who repeats these words to the Successors of those Apostles who heard them from his lips and who, putting their trust in him, set forth on mission along the byways of the world: Duc in altum (
Lc 5,4). In the light of this pressing command from the Lord, ''we may reread the triple munus entrusted to us in the Church: munus docendi, sanctificandi et regendi ... Duc in docendo! With the Apostle we will say: 'Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke and exhort – be unfailing in patience and in teaching' (2Tm 4,2). Duc in sanctificando! The 'nets' we are called upon to cast among men are, first of all, the sacraments, of which we are the principal dispensers, moderators, guardians and promoters. They form a sort of saving 'net,' which sets free from evil and leads to the fullness of life.Duc in regendo! As pastors and true fathers, assisted by the priests and other helpers, we have the task of gathering together the family of the faithful and in it fostering charity and brotherly communion. As arduous and laborious a mission as this may be, we must not lose heart. With Peter and the first disciples we too with great confidence renew our heartfelt profession of faith: Lord, 'at your word I will lower the nets' (Lc 5,5)! At your word, O Christ, we wish to serve your Gospel for the hope of the world!''.12

In this way, living as men of hope and reflecting in their ministry the ecclesiology of communion and mission, Bishops will truly be a source of hope for their flock. We know that the world needs the ''hope that does not disappoint'' (cf. Rom Rm 5,5). We know that this hope is Christ. We know it and therefore we proclaim the hope that springs from the Cross.

Ave Crux, spes unica! May this acclamation, which echoed in the Synod Hall at the central moment of the work of the Tenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, remain ever on our lips, for the Cross is a mystery of life and death. The Cross has become for the Church a ''tree of life''. For this reason we proclaim that life has triumphed over death.

In making this Paschal proclamation we follow in the footsteps of a great multitude of holy pastors who have been eloquent images of the Good Shepherd in medio Ecclesiae.This prompts us always to praise and thank almighty and eternal God, for, as we sing in the sacred Liturgy, he strengthens us by their example, instructs us by their teaching and gives us protection through their intercession.13 As I said at the conclusion of the Synod's work, the face of each of these holy Bishops, from the beginning of the Church's life to our own day, is like a tile placed in a sort of mystical mosaic forming the face of Christ the Good Shepherd. It is he, then, that we contemplate, setting an example for the flock entrusted to us by the Pastor of Pastors, so that we can become ever more committed servants of the Gospel for the hope of the world.

As we gaze upon the face of our Master and Lord at that hour when he ''loved his own to the end'', all of us, like the Apostle Peter, allow our feet to be washed so that we might have a part in him (cf. Jn 13,1-9). And with the strength that comes to us from him in the Church, in the presence of our priests and deacons, before all men and women of the consecrated life and all our beloved lay people, we repeat aloud: ''Whatever we may be, let not your hope be placed in us: if we are good, we are your servants; if we are bad, we are still your servants. But if we are good and faithful servants, it is then that we are truly your servants''.14 Servants of the Gospel for the hope of the world.




''... and he chose from them Twelve''\b\i (@LC 6,13@)

6 The Lord Jesus, during his earthly pilgrimage, proclaimed the Gospel of the Kingdom and inaugurated it in his own person, revealing its mystery to all people.15 He called men and women to be his followers, and from his disciples he chose Twelve ''to be with him'' (Mc 3,14). The Gospel of Luke points out that Jesus made this choice after a night spent in prayer on the mountain (cf. 6:12). The Gospel of Mark, for its part, appears to see in this action of Jesus a sovereign act, a constitutive act which gives an identity to those whom he chose: ''he appointed Twelve'' (3:14). The mystery of the election of the Twelve is thus disclosed: it is an act of love, freely willed by Jesus in intimate union with the Father and the Holy Spirit.

The mission entrusted by Jesus to the Apostles is to last until the end of time (cf. Mt Mt 28,20), since the Gospel which they have been charged to hand down is the life of the Church in every age. It was precisely for this reason that the Apostles were concerned to appoint for themselves successors, so that, as Saint Irenaeus attests, the apostolic tradition might be manifested and preserved down the centuries.16

The special outpouring of the Holy Spirit with which the Risen Lord filled the Apostles (cf. Acts Ac 1,5 Ac 8 Ac 2,4 Jn 20,22-23) was shared by them through the gesture of laying hands upon their co-workers (cf. 1Tm 4,14 2Tm 1,6-7). These in turn transmitted it by the same gesture to others, and these to others still. In this way, the spiritual gift given in the beginning has come down to our own day through the imposition of hands, in other words, by episcopal consecration, which confers the fullness of the sacrament of Orders, the high priesthood and the totality of the sacred ministry. Thus, through the Bishops and the priests, their co-workers, the Lord Jesus Christ, seated at the right hand of God the Father, remains present in the midst of believers. In every time and place it is he who proclaims the word of God to all peoples, administers the sacraments of faith to believers and guides the people of the New Testament on their pilgrimage to eternal happiness. The Good Shepherd does not abandon his flock but preserves and protects it always through those who, by their ontological share in his life and mission, carry out in an eminent and visible way the role of teacher, shepherd and priest, who act in his name in exercising the functions associated with the pastoral ministry, and who are constituted his vicars and ambassadors.17

The Trinitarian foundation of the episcopal ministry

7 The Christological dimension of the pastoral ministry, considered in depth, leads to an understanding of the Trinitarian foundation of ministry itself. Christ's life is Trinitarian. He is the eternal and only-begotten Son of the Father and the anointed of the Holy Spirit, sent into the world; it is he who, together with the Father, pours out the Spirit upon the Church. This Trinitarian dimension, manifested in every aspect of Christ's life and activity, also shapes the life and activity of the Bishop. Rightly, then, the Synod Fathers chose explicitly to describe the life and ministry of the Bishop in the light of the Trinitarian ecclesiology contained in the teaching of the Second Vatican Council.

The tradition which sees the Bishop as an image of God the Father is quite ancient. As Saint Ignatius of Antioch wrote, the Father is like an invisible Bishop, the Bishop of all. Every Bishop, therefore, stands in the place of the Father of Jesus Christ in such a way that, precisely because of this representation, he is to be revered by all.18 Consonant with this symbolism, the Bishop's chair, which especially in the tradition of the Eastern Churches evokes God's paternal authority, can only be occupied by the Bishop. This same symbolism is the source of every Bishop's duty to lead the holy people of God as a devoted father and to guide them – together with his priests, his co-workers in the episcopal ministry, and with his deacons – in the way of salvation.19 Conversely, as an ancient text exhorts, the faithful are to love their Bishops who are, after God, their fathers and mothers.20 For this reason, in accordance with a custom widespread in certain cultures, one kisses the Bishop's hand as one would kiss the hand of the loving Father, the giver of life.

Christ is the primordial icon of the Father and the manifestation of his merciful presence among men and women. The Bishop, who acts in the person and in the name of Christ himself, becomes in the Church entrusted to him a living sign of the Lord Jesus, Shepherd and Spouse, Teacher and High Priest of the Church.21 Here we find the source of pastoral ministry, and the reason why, as the homily outline in the Roman Pontifical suggests, the three functions of teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God are to be carried out in imitation of the Good Shepherd: with charity, knowledge of the flock, concern for all, mercy towards the poor, the stranger and those in need, and a willingness to seek out the lost sheep and to bring them back to the one sheepfold.

Finally, the anointing of the Holy Spirit, by configuring the Bishop to Christ, enables him to be a living continuation of the mystery of Christ for the Church. Because of this Trinitarian shaping of his existence, every Bishop in his ministry is committed to keeping watch over the whole flock with love, for he has been placed in their midst by the Spirit to govern the Church of God: in the name of the Father, whose image he represents; in the name of Jesus Christ his Son, by whom he has been established as teacher, priest and shepherd; in the name of the Holy Spirit, who gives life to the Church and by his power strengthens us in our human weakness.22

The collegial nature of the episcopal ministry

8 ''And he appointed Twelve'' (Mc 3,14). The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium employs this Gospel text to introduce its teaching on the collegial nature of the group of the Twelve, formed ''after the manner of a college or a fixed group, over which he placed Peter, chosen from among them''.23Similarly, through the personal succession of the Bishop of Rome to Saint Peter and the succession of all the Bishops as a group to the Apostles, the Roman Pontiff and the Bishops are united among themselves as a College.24

The collegial union between the Bishops is based on both episcopal ordination and hierarchical communion. It thus affects the inmost being of each Bishop and belongs to the structure of the Church as willed by Jesus Christ. One attains to the fullness of episcopal ministry by virtue of episcopal consecration and through hierarchical communion with the Head of the College and with its members, that is, with the College, which always includes its Head. This is how one becomes a member of the College of Bishops,25 and the reason why the three functions received in episcopal ordination – sanctifying, teaching and governing – must be exercised in hierarchical communion, even though, given their different immediate finalities, in a distinct way26.

This constitutes what is called ''the spirit of collegiality'' (affectus collegialis), or ''affective'' collegiality, which is the basis of the Bishops' concern for the other particular Churches and for the universal Church.27 Consequently, if we must say that a Bishop is never alone, inasmuch as he is always united to the Father though the Son in the Holy Spirit, we must also add that he is also never alone because he is always and continuously united with his brothers in the episcopate and with the one whom the Lord has chosen as the Successor of Peter.

The spirit of collegiality is realized and expressed in different degrees and in various modalities, including institutional forms such as, for example, the Synod of Bishops, Particular Councils, Episcopal Conferences, the Roman Curia, ad Limina visits, missionary cooperation, etc. In its full sense, however, the spirit of collegiality is realized and expressed only in collegial action in the strict sense, that is, in the action of all the Bishops together with their Head, with whom they exercise full and supreme power over the whole Church.28

This collegial nature of the apostolic ministry is willed by Christ himself. Consequently, the spirit of collegiality, or affective collegiality (collegialitas affectiva), is always present among the Bishops ascommunio episcoporum, but only in certain acts does it find expression as effective collegiality (collegialitas effectiva). The various ways in which affective collegiality comes to be realized in effective collegiality belong to the human order, but in varying degrees they concretize the divine requirement that the episcopate should express itself in a collegial manner.29 The College's supreme authority over the whole Church is solemnly exercised in Ecumenical Councils.30

The collegial dimension gives the episcopate its character of universality. A parallelism can thus be established between the Church as one and universal, and therefore indivisible, and the episcopacy as one and indivisible, and therefore universal. The principle and foundation of this unity, be it that of the Church or of the Bishops, is the Roman Pontiff. Indeed, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, the College, ''insofar as it is composed of many, expresses the variety and universality of the People of God, but insofar as it is assembled under one head, it expresses the unity of the flock of Christ''.31For this reason, ''the unity of the episcopate is one of the constitutive elements of the unity of the Church''.32

The universal Church is not the sum of the particular Churches, or a federation of the latter, or even the result of their communion as such, since, in the expression of the early Fathers and the liturgy, in her essential mystery the Church precedes creation itself.33 In the light of this teaching, we can add that the relationship of mutual interiority existing between the universal Church and each particular Church, whereby the particular Churches are ''formed in the likeness of the universal Church, and in and from the particular Churches there comes into being the one and only Catholic Church'',34 is reproduced in the relationship between the College of Bishops in its entirety and each Bishop as an individual. For this reason, ''the College of Bishops is not to be understood as the aggregate of the Bishops who govern the particular Churches, nor as the result of their communion; rather, as an essential element of the universal Church, it is a reality which precedes the office of being the head of a particular Church''.35

We can better understand this parallelism between the universal Church and the College of Bishops in light of the Council's statement that ''the Apostles were the first members of the new Israel, and at the same time the beginning of the sacred hierarchy''.36 In the Apostles, not considered individually but as a College, there was already contained the structure of the Church – which in them was established in her universality and unity – and the structure of the College of Bishops, their successors, the sign of this universality and unity.37

It is thus that ''the power of the College of Bishops over the whole Church is not the result of the sum of the powers of the individual Bishops over their particular Churches; it is a pre-existing reality in which individual Bishops participate. They have no competence to act over the whole Church except collegially''.38 Bishops share as a body in the power of teaching and governing, and they do so immediately by the very fact that they are members of the College of Bishops, in which the Apostolic College truly continues in being.39

Just as the universal Church is one and indivisible, so too the College of Bishops is one ''indivisible theological subject,'' and hence the supreme, full and universal power possessed by the College, and by the Roman Pontiff personally, is one and indivisible. Precisely because the College of Bishops is a reality prior to the office of heading a particular Church, there are many Bishops who, while carrying out tasks that are properly episcopal, are not heads of particular Churches.40 Each Bishop, always in union with his brothers in the episcopate and with the Roman Pontiff, represents Christ the Head and Shepherd of the Church: he does this not only in a proper and specific manner when he receives the office of pastor of a particular Church, but also when he cooperates with the Diocesan Bishop in the governance of his Church 41 or when he shares in the Roman Pontiff's office of universal pastor in the governance of the universal Church. In the course of her history the Church has also recognized, in addition to the specific form of presidency over a particular Church, other forms of exercising the episcopal ministry – such as that of an Auxiliary Bishop or a representative of the Roman Pontiff in the offices of the Holy See or in Papal Legations; today too, in accordance with the norms of law, she admits these other forms when they are needed.42

The missionary character and the unitary nature of the episcopal ministry

9 The Gospel of Luke (cf. 6:13) tells us that Jesus named the Twelve ''Apostles'', which literally means ''envoys'', ''those who are sent''. In the Gospel of Mark we read that Jesus also appointed the Twelve ''to be sent out to preach'' (3:14). This means that both the election and the establishment of the Twelve as Apostles are directed towards mission. Their first sending (cf. Mt Mt 10,5 Mc 6,7 Lc 9,1-2) comes to its fulfilment in the mission that Jesus entrusts to them after the Resurrection, at the moment of his Ascension into heaven. The Lord's words remain as timely as ever: ''All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age'' (Mt 28,18-20). This apostolic mission finds its solemn confirmation on the day of Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

In the text of the Gospel of Matthew just quoted, the entire pastoral ministry can be seen as organized according to the threefold function of teaching, sanctifying and governing. We see here a reflection of the threefold dimension of Christ's service and mission. We, as Christians, and in a qualitatively new manner as priests, participate in the mission of our Master, who is Prophet, Priest and King, and we are called to bear special witness to him in the Church and before the world.

These three functions (triplex munus) and the powers that derive from them express on the level of action the pastoral ministry (munus pastorale) that every Bishop receives with episcopal consecration. It is a share in Christ's own love that is given in the consecration; this love is made concrete in the proclamation of the Gospel of hope to all peoples (cf. Lk Lc 4,16-19), in the administration of the sacraments to those who embrace salvation and in the guidance of God's holy people towards eternal life. These three functions are, in fact, deeply interconnected; they explain, influence and clarify one another.43

For this reason, then, when the Bishop teaches, he also sanctifies and governs the People of God; when he sanctifies, he also teaches and governs; when he governs, he teaches and sanctifies. Saint Augustine defines the entirety of this episcopal ministry as an office of love: amoris officium.44 This gives us the certainty that the pastoral charity of Jesus Christ will never be lacking in the Church.

''He called to him those whom he desired''\b\i (@MC 3,13-14@)

10 A great crowd was following Jesus when he decided to go up the mountain and call the Apostles. There were many disciples, but from them he chose Twelve alone for the specific role of Apostles (cf. Mc 3,13-19). In the Synod Hall the words of Saint Augustine were often heard: ''For you I am a Bishop and with you I am a Christian''.45

As a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, the Bishop is above all else, like every other Christian, a son and member of the Church. From this holy Mother he has received the gift of divine life in the sacrament of Baptism and his first instruction in the faith. Together with all the faithful he shares in the incomparable dignity of the children of God, a dignity to be lived out in communion and in a spirit of gratitude and fraternity. On the other hand, by virtue of the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders, the Bishop is also the one who, before the faithful, is teacher, sanctifier and shepherd, charged with acting in the name and in the person of Christ.

These are obviously two relationships which do not simply stand side-by-side but are deeply interconnected; they are ordered to each other inasmuch as both draw upon the richness of Christ, the one High Priest. The Bishop becomes a ''father'' precisely because he is fully a ''son'' of the Church. This brings up once again the relationship between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood: two modes of participation in the one priesthood of Christ, which involves two dimensions which unite in the supreme act of the sacrifice of the Cross.

This is reflected in the relationship which exists in the Church between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood. The fact that for all their difference in essence each is ordered to the other46 gives rise to an interplay that harmoniously structures the life of the Church as the place where the salvation brought about by Christ is made historically present. This interplay is present in the very person of the Bishop, who is and remains a baptized member of the Church, yet is incorporated into the high priesthood. This deeper reality of the Bishop is the foundation of his ''being among'' the other faithful and of his being placed ''before'' them.

The Second Vatican Council puts this nicely: ''If therefore everyone in the Church does not walk along the same path, nevertheless all are called to sanctity and have received an equal privilege of faith through the justice of God (cf 2P 1,1). And if by the will of Christ some are made teachers, dispensers of mysteries, and shepherds on behalf of others, yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ. For the distinction which the Lord made between sacred ministers and the rest of the People of God entails a unity, since pastors and the other faithful are bound to each other by a common bond. The Church's pastors, following the example of the Lord, should minister to one another and to the rest of the faithful. The faithful in their turn should cooperate gladly with their pastors and teachers''.47

The pastoral ministry received in episcopal consecration, which sets the Bishop ''before'' the other faithful, finds expression in his ''being for'' the other members of the faithful while not detracting from his ''being with'' them. This is true with regard both to the Bishop's personal sanctification, which must be pursued and realized in the exercise of his ministry, and to the ''style'' with which he carries out this ministry in all its respective functions.

The interplay between the common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial priesthood, present in the episcopal ministry itself, is manifested in a kind of ''perichoresis'' between the two forms of priesthood: a perichoresis between the common witness to the faith given by the faithful and the Bishop's authoritative witness to the faith through his magisterial acts; a perichoresis between the lived holiness of the faithful and the means of sanctification that the Bishop offers them; and finally, a perichoresis between the personal responsibility of the Bishop for the good of the Church entrusted to him and the shared responsibility of all the faithful for that same Church.

Pastores gregis EN