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''... he appointed Twelve that they might be with him''\i\b (@MC 3,14@)

11 In the same act of love by which he freely established the Twelve as Apostles, Jesus called them to share his own life. This sharing, which is a communion of mind and heart with him, also appears as an inner demand of their participation in Jesus' own mission. The functions of the Bishop must not be reduced to those of administration alone. Precisely in order to avoid this risk, both the preparatory documents of the Synod and many interventions by the Fathers in the Synod Hall dwelt at length on what the reality of the episcopate as the fullness of the sacrament of Holy Orders – in its theological, Christological and pneumatological foundations – entails for the personal life of the Bishop and for the exercise of the ministry entrusted to him.

Objective sanctification, which by Christ's work is present in the sacrament through the communication of the Holy Spirit, needs to coincide with subjective sanctification, in which the Bishop, by the help of grace, must continuously progress through the exercise of his ministry. The ontological transformation brought about by episcopal consecration, as a configuration to Christ, demands a lifestyle that manifests a ''being with him''. Consequently, during the Synod sessions, emphasis was laid on pastoral charity as being the fruit of the character bestowed by the sacrament and of its particular grace. Charity, it was said, is in a sense the heart of the ministry of the Bishop, who is drawn into a dynamic pastoral pro-existence whereby he is impelled to live, like Christ the Good Shepherd, for the Father and for others, in the daily gift of self.

It is above all in exercising his own ministry, inspired by imitation of the charity of the Good Shepherd, that the Bishop is called to be sanctified and to sanctify, taking as his unifying principle contemplation of the face of Christ and the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation.48 His spirituality, therefore, draws direction and nourishment not only from the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation but also from his episcopal ordination, which commits him to living out in faith, hope and charity his ministry of evangelization, liturgical presidency and leadership in the community. The Bishop's spirituality will therefore be an ecclesial spirituality, since everything in his life is directed towards the building up of the Church in love.

This requires of the Bishop an attitude of service marked by personal strength, apostolic courage and trusting abandonment to the inner working of the Spirit. He will therefore strive to adopt a lifestyle which imitates the kenosis of Christ, the poor and humble servant, so that the exercise of his pastoral ministry will be a consistent reflection of Jesus, the Servant of God, and will help him to become, like Jesus, close to everyone, from the greatest to the least. Again, by a form of reciprocal interplay, the faithful and loving exercise of his ministry sanctifies the Bishop and on the subjective level configures him ever more closely to the ontological richness of sanctity which the sacrament has bestowed upon him.

The Bishop's personal holiness, however, is never limited to the purely subjective level, since in its efficacy it always proves beneficial to the faithful entrusted to his pastoral care. In the practice of charity, as the content of the pastoral ministry he has received, the Bishop becomes a sign of Christ and acquires that moral authority needed for the effective exercise of his juridical authority. Unless the episcopal office is based on the witness of a holiness manifested in pastoral charity, humility and simplicity of life, it ends up being reduced to a solely functional role and, tragically, it loses credibility before the clergy and the faithful.

The call to holiness in the Church in our time

12 There is a particularly apt Biblical image to describe the figure of the Bishop as the friend of God and the pastor and guide of his people. It is the figure of Moses. Looking to him, the Bishop can find inspiration for his life and activity as a pastor, for Moses was chosen and sent by the Lord, courageous in leading his people toward the Promised Land, a faithful interpreter of the word and law of the living God, a mediator of the Covenant, ardent and confident in his prayer on behalf of his people. Like Moses, who after his dialogue with the Lord on the holy mountain returned among his people with his face radiant (cf. Ex Ex 34,29-30), so the Bishop will be able to show his brothers and sisters that he is their father, brother and friend only if he has entered the dark yet luminous cloud of the mystery of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Radiant with the light of the Trinity, he will be a sign of the merciful goodness of the Father, a living image of the love of the Son, and transparently a man of the Spirit, consecrated and sent forth to lead the People of God along the paths of history on their pilgrimage to eternity.

The Synod Fathers stressed the importance of spiritual commitment in the life, ministry and growth of the Bishop. I myself have spoken of its priority in conformity with the requirements of the Church's life and the call of the Holy Spirit, who in these years has made evident to everyone the primacy of grace, the widespread desire for spirituality and the urgent need for a witness of holiness.

The call for spirituality arises from a consideration of the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation history, where his presence is active and dynamic, prophetic and missionary. The gift of the fullness of the Holy Spirit, which the Bishop receives at his episcopal ordination, is a precious and urgent call to cooperate with the Spirit's activity in ecclesial communion and in universal mission.

Held in the wake of the Great Jubilee of 2000, the Synodal Assembly made its own from the beginning the call to holiness of life which I set before the whole Church: ''All pastoral initiatives must be set in relation to holiness ... Once the Jubilee is over, we resume our normal path, but knowing that, stressing holiness remains more than ever an urgent pastoral task''.49 An enthusiastic acceptance of my appeal to give first place to the call to holiness was the atmosphere in which the synodal labours took place and the environment which, in a certain sense, unified the Fathers' interventions and reflections. In their hearts they heard resound Saint Gregory Nazianzen's admonition: ''First be purified and then purify others, first allow yourself to be instructed by wisdom and then instruct others, first become light and then enlighten others, first draw close to God and then guide others to him, first be holy yourself and then make others holy''.50

For this reason frequent appeals were heard during the Synodal Assembly for a clearer specification of the properly ''episcopal'' character of the Bishop's path to holiness. This will always be a holiness lived with his people and for his people, in a communion which becomes a stimulus to and a mutual building up in charity. These are not secondary or marginal demands. It is precisely the Bishop's own spiritual life which favours the fruitfulness of his pastoral activity. Is not the ultimate basis of all pastoral effectiveness constant meditation on the mystery of Christ, passionate contemplation of his Face and generous imitation of the life of the Good Shepherd? If ours is indeed a time of continual movement and even at times of frenzied ''doing for the sake of doing'', then the Bishop must be the first to show by the example of his own life the need to re-establish the primacy of ''being'' over ''doing'' and, more importantly, the primacy of grace, which, in the Christian vision of life, remains the essential principle for any ''planning'' of pastoral ministry.51

The Bishop's spiritual journey

13 A Bishop can be considered a genuine minister of communion and hope for God's holy people only when he walks in the presence of the Lord. It is not possible to be a servant of others unless one is first a ''servant of God''. And one can only be a servant of God if one is a ''man of God''. For this reason I stated in my homily at the beginning of the Synod: ''The pastor must be a man of God; his existence and his ministry are entirely under his divine glory and from the supereminent mystery of God they derive their light and vigour''.52

For Bishops the call to holiness is inherent in the sacramental event that stands at the origin of their ministry, that is, their episcopal ordination. The ancient Euchology of Serapion formulates the ritual invocation of the consecration thus: ''God of truth, make thy servant a living Bishop, a holy Bishop in the succession of the holy Apostles''.53 Since episcopal ordination does not infuse the perfection of the virtues, ''the Bishop is called to pursue his path of perfection with greater intensity so as to attain to the stature of Christ, the perfect Man''.54

The Christological and Trinitarian character of his mystery and ministry demands of the Bishop a journey of holiness which consists in a progressive advance towards an ever more profound spiritual and apostolic maturity marked by the primacy of pastoral charity. This journey is obviously experienced together with his people, along a path which is at once personal and communitarian, like the life of the Church itself. Along this path, however, the Bishop becomes, in intimate communion with Christ and attentive docility to the Holy Spirit, a witness, a model, and a source of encouragement and help. This same idea is expressed by canon law: ''Mindful that he is bound to give an example of holiness, charity, humility and simplicity of life, the Diocesan Bishop is to seek in every way to promote the holiness of Christ's faithful according to the special vocation of each. Since he is the principal dispenser of the mysteries of God, he is to strive constantly that the faithful entrusted to his care may grow in grace through the celebration of the sacraments, and may know and live the Paschal mystery''.55

The spiritual journey of the Bishop, like that of every Christian, is rooted in the sacramental grace of Baptism and Confirmation. He shares this grace in common with all the faithful since, as the Second Vatican Council notes, ''all the faithful of whatever condition or rank are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity''.56 Here the celebrated expression of Saint Augustine, with its rich realism and supernatural wisdom, proves especially true: ''If I am in fear because I am for you, I am consoled to be with you. Because for you I am a Bishop, with you I am a Christian. The first name is one of responsibility, the second, one of grace. The former is the name of a danger, the latter of salvation''.57 Thanks to pastoral charity, however, responsibility becomes a form of service and peril is transformed into an opportunity for growth and maturation. The episcopal ministry is not only a source of holiness for others, but is already a cause of sanctification for one who allows the charity of God to pass through his own heart and life.

The Synod Fathers presented in synthesis some of the demands of this journey. Above all they stressed the character given in Baptism and Confirmation, which from the beginning of our lives as Christians, through the theological virtues, makes us capable of believing in God, hoping in him and loving him. The Holy Spirit, in turn, infuses his gifts and fosters our growth in goodness through the exercise of the moral virtues that concretize, also on the human level, our spiritual life.58 By means of the Baptism he has received, the Bishop shares, like every Christian, in that spirituality which is rooted in incorporation in Christ and is manifested in following Christ in accordance with the Gospel. For this reason the Bishop shares the call to holiness proper to all the faithful. He must therefore cultivate a life of prayer and profound faith, and put all his trust in God, offering his witness to the Gospel in docile obedience to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, and maintaining a particular filial devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the perfect teacher of the spiritual life.59

The spirituality of the Bishop will thus be a spirituality of communion, lived in harmony with the other baptized faithful who with him are children of one Father in heaven and one Mother on earth, Holy Church. Like all believers in Christ, he needs to nourish his spiritual life with the living and effective word of the Gospel and with the living bread of the Holy Eucharist, the food of eternal life. Because of his human frailty the Bishop is also called to have frequent and regular recourse to the sacrament of Penance, in order to obtain the gift of that mercy of which he himself has been made a minister. Mindful, therefore, of his human weaknesses and sins, each Bishop, along with his priests, personally experiences the sacrament of Reconciliation as a profound need and as a grace to be received ever anew, and thus renews his own commitment to holiness in the exercise of his ministry. In this way he also gives visible expression to the mystery of a Church which is constitutively holy, yet also made up of sinners in need of forgiveness.

Like all priests and, obviously, in special communion with the priests of his diocesan presbyterate, the Bishop will strive to progress along a specific path of holiness. He is also called to holiness by a new title arising from Holy Orders. The Bishop thus lives by faith, hope and love, inasmuch as he is a minister of the Lord's word and of the sanctification and spiritual advancement of the People of God. He must be holy because he must serve the Church as teacher, sanctifier and guide. As such, he must also love the Church deeply and fervently. Each Bishop is configured to Christ in order to love the Church with the love of Christ the Bridegroom, and in order to be in the Church a minister of her unity, enabling her to become ''a people gathered by the unity of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit''.60

The specific spirituality of the Bishop, as the Synod Fathers repeatedly emphasized, is further enriched by the bestowal of that grace inherent in the fullness of the priesthood which is given to him at the moment of his ordination. As a pastor of the flock and servant of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in hope, the Bishop must become as it were a transparent reflection of the very person of Christ, the Supreme Pastor. In the Roman Pontifical this requirement is explicitly mentioned: ''Receive the miter, and may the splendour of holiness shine forth in you, so that when the Chief Shepherd appears, you may deserve to receive from him an unfading crown of glory''.61

Hence, the Bishop constantly needs the grace of God that strengthens and perfects his human nature. He can say with the Apostle Paul: ''Our sole credit is from God who has made us qualified ministers of a new covenant'' (
2Co 3,5-6). It needs to be emphasized that the apostolic ministry is a source of spirituality for the Bishop, who should derive from it all the spiritual resources which will make him grow in holiness and enable him to discover the workings of the Holy Spirit in the People of God entrusted to his pastoral care.62

The spiritual journey of the Bishop coincides, from this perspective, with that pastoral charity which must rightly be considered the soul of his apostolate, as it is of the apostolate of priests and deacons. Here it is not only a matter of an existentia but indeed of a pro-existentia, that is to say, of a way of living inspired by the supreme model of Christ the Lord and which is spent totally in worship of the Father and in service of neighbour. The Second Vatican Council rightly states that pastors, in the image of Christ, must carry out their ministry with holiness and zeal, with humility and fortitude, ''which, fulfilled in this way, will be for them an excellent means of sanctification''.63 No Bishop can fail to realize that the summit of Christian holiness is the crucified Christ in his supreme self-oblation to the Father and to his brothers and sisters in the Holy Spirit. For this reason configuration to Christ and a share in his sufferings (cf. 1P 4,15) becomes the royal road of the Bishop's holiness in the midst of his people.

Mary, Mother of Hope and teacher of the spiritual life

14 The Bishop will also find support for his spiritual life in the maternal presence of the Virgin Mary,Mater spei et spes nostra, as the Church invokes her. The Bishop will therefore nourish an authentic and filial devotion to Mary, and feel himself called to make her fiat his own, re-experiencing and re-appropriating each day Jesus' entrusting of Mary at the foot of the Cross to the Beloved Disciple, and of the Beloved Disciple to Mary (cf. Jn Jn 19,26-27). The Bishop is also called to reflect the unanimous and persevering prayer of Christ's disciples and Apostles with his Mother in preparation for Pentecost. This icon of the nascent Church manifests the indissoluble bond uniting Mary and the successors of the Apostles (cf. Acts Ac 1,14).

The holy Mother of God will consequently be the Bishop's teacher in listening to the word of God and promptly putting it into practice, as a faithful disciple of the one Teacher, in firm faith, confident hope and ardent charity. As Mary was the ''memory'' of the incarnation of the Word in the first Christian community, so the Bishop must preserve and pass on the living Tradition of the Church, in communion with all the other Bishops, in union with, and under the authority of, the Successor of Peter.

The Bishop's solid Marian devotion will be constantly related to the liturgy, where the Blessed Virgin is particularly present in the celebration of the mysteries of salvation and serves as a model of docility and prayer, of spiritual oblation and motherhood for the whole Church. Indeed, it will be the Bishop's responsibility to ensure that the liturgy always appears ''as an 'exemplary form', a source of inspiration, a constant point of reference and the ultimate goal'' for the Marian piety of the People of God.64 While holding to this principle, the Bishop will also nourish his personal and communitarian Marian devotion by devotional practices approved and recommended by the Church, especially by the recitation of that compendium of the Gospel which is the Holy Rosary. Being himself completely familiar with this prayer, completely centred as it is on the contemplation of the saving events of Christ's life with which his holy Mother was closely associated, every Bishop is also called to promote diligently its recitation.65

Entrusting oneself to the word

15 The assembly of the Synod of Bishops indicated several indispensable means for the sustenance and progress of the spiritual life.66 First among these is reading and meditating on the word of God. Every Bishop should always commend himself and feel commended ''to the Lord and to the word of his grace, which is able to build up and give the inheritance among all those who are sanctified'' (cf. Ac 20,32). Before becoming one who hands on the word, the Bishop, together with his priests and indeed like every member of the faithful and like the Church herself,67 must be a hearer of the word. He should live ''within'' the word and allow himself to be protected and nourished by it, as if by a mother's womb. With Saint Ignatius of Antioch the Bishop must say: ''I commend myself to the Gospel as to the flesh of Christ''.68 Each Bishop will thus take to heart the well-known admonition of Saint Jerome quoted by the Second Vatican Council: ''Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ''.69 There can be no primacy of holiness without attentive listening to the Word of God, which is the guide and nourishment of all holiness.

To commend oneself to the word of God and to keep it, like the Virgin Mary, Virgo audiens,70requires the practice of certain aids constantly proposed by the Church's tradition and spiritual experience. These include, first of all, frequent personal reading and regular study of Sacred Scripture. A Bishop would try in vain to preach the word to others if he did not first listen to it within himself.71 Without frequent contact with Sacred Scripture a Bishop would hardly be a credible minister of hope, since, as Saint Paul reminds us, it is ''from the lessons of patience and the words of encouragement in the Scriptures that we can derive hope'' (cf. Rom Rm 15,4). The words of Origen remain ever applicable: ''These are the two activities of the Bishop: learning from God by reading the divine Scriptures and meditating on them frequently, and teaching the people. But let him teach the things that he himself has learned from God''.72

The Synod recalled the importance of reading (lectio) and meditation (meditatio) on the word of God in the life of pastors and in their ministry of service to the community. As I wrote in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, ''it is especially necessary that listening to the word of God should become a life-giving encounter, in the ancient and ever valid tradition of lectio divina, which draws from the biblical text the living word which questions, directs and shapes our lives''.73 In the realm of meditation and lectio, the heart which has already received the word opens itself to the contemplation of God's work and, consequently, to a conversion of thoughts and life to him, accompanied by a heartfelt request for his forgiveness and grace.

Drawing nourishment from the Eucharist

16 Just as the Paschal Mystery stands at the centre of the life and mission of the Good Shepherd, so too the Eucharist stands at the centre of the life and mission of the Bishop, as of every priest.

At the daily celebration of Holy Mass, the Bishop offers himself together with Christ. When this celebration takes place in the cathedral or in other churches, especially parish churches, with the presence and the active participation of the faithful, the Bishop stands before all as Sacerdos et Pontifex, since he acts in the person of Christ and in the power of his Spirit, and as hiereus, the holy priest, devoted to enacting the sacred mysteries of the altar, which he proclaims and explains by his preaching.74

The Bishop's love of the Holy Eucharist is also expressed when in the course of the day he devotes a fair part of his time to adoration before the tabernacle. Here the Bishop opens his heart to the Lord, allowing it to be filled and shaped by the love poured forth from the Cross by the great Shepherd of the sheep, who shed his blood and gave his life for them. To him the Bishop raises his prayer in constant intercession for the sheep entrusted to his care.

Prayer and the Liturgy of the Hours

17 A second means (for the advancement of the Bishop's spiritual life) mentioned by the Synod Fathers is prayer, especially the prayer raised to the Lord in the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, which remains the distinctive prayer of the Christian community, carried out in the name of Christ and under the guidance of the Spirit.

Prayer is itself a particular duty for a Bishop, and for all those who ''have received the gift of a vocation to the specially consecrated life: of its nature, their consecration makes them more open to the experience of contemplation''.75 The Bishop himself cannot forget that he is a successor of those Apostles who were appointed by Christ above all ''to be with him'' (
Mc 3,14), and who at the beginning of their mission made a solemn declaration which is a programme of life: ''We will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word'' (Ac 6,4). The Bishop will be a true teacher of prayer for the faithful only if he can draw upon his own personal experience of dialogue with God. He must be able to turn to God continually with the words of the Psalmist: ''I hope in your word'' (Ps 119,114). From prayer he will gain that hope which he must in turn pass on to the faithful. Prayer is the privileged forum where hope finds expression and nourishment, since it is, in the words of Saint Thomas Aquinas, the ''interpreter of hope''.76

The Bishop's personal prayer will be particularly and typically ''apostolic,'' in the sense that it is presented to the Father as intercession for all the needs of the people entrusted to his care. In the Roman Pontifical this is the final commitment demanded of the candidate elected to the episcopacy before the rite of the imposition of hands: ''Are you resolved to pray without ceasing for the People of God, and to carry out the office of high priest without reproach?''.77 The Bishop prays in a very special way for the holiness of his priests, for vocations to the ordained ministry and the consecrated life, so that missionary and apostolic commitment will be all the more ardent in the Church..

With regard to the Liturgy of the Hours, which is meant to consecrate and guide the course of the entire day through the praise of God, we cannot fail to recall the impressive statement of the Second Vatican Council: ''When this wonderful song of praise is worthily rendered by priests and others who are deputed for this purpose by Church ordinance, or by the faithful praying together with the priest in an approved form, then it is truly the voice of the Bride addressing her Bridegroom; it is the very prayer which Christ himself, together with his Body, addresses to the Father. Hence, all who perform this service are not only fulfilling a duty of the Church, but also are sharing in the greatest honour accorded to Christ's Spouse, for by offering these praises to God they are standing before God's throne in the name of the Church, their Mother''.78 Writing on the prayer of the Divine Office, my predecessor of venerable memory Pope Paul VI, called it ''the prayer of the local Church'', which expresses ''the true nature of the praying Church''.79 The consecratio temporis, effected by theLiturgy of the Hours, brings about that laus perennis which is an anticipation and prefiguration of the heavenly liturgy and a bond of union with the angels and saints who glorify God's name throughout eternity. The Bishop will become, and will appear, as a man of hope to the extent that he enters into the eschatological dynamism of praying the Psalter. The Psalms resound with the voice of the Bride (vox sponsae) as she calls upon her Bridegroom.

Every Bishop therefore prays with his people and for his people. He himself is supported and assisted by the prayer of his faithful: priests, deacons, consecrated persons and the lay people of all ages. In their midst the Bishop is a teacher and a promoter of prayer. He not only hands down what he himself has contemplated, but he opens to Christians the way of contemplation itself. The well-known mottocontemplata aliis tradere thus becomes contemplationem aliis tradere.

The way of the evangelical counsels and the Beatitudes

18 To all his disciples, and especially to those who while still on this earth wish to follow him more closely like the Apostles, the Lord proposes the way of the evangelical counsels. In addition to being a gift of the Holy Trinity to the Church, the counsels are a reflection of the life of the Trinity in each believer.80 This is especially the case in the Bishop, who, as a successor of the Apostles, is called to follow Christ along the path leading to the perfection of charity. For this reason he is consecrated, even as Jesus was consecrated. The Bishop's life is radically dependent on Christ and a completely transparent image of Christ before the Church and the world. The life of the Bishop must radiate the life of Christ and consequently Christ's own obedience to the Father, even unto death, death on a Cross (cf. Phil Ph 2,8), his chaste and virginal love, and his poverty which is absolute detachment from all earthly goods.

In this way the Bishops can lead by their example not only those members of the Church who are called to follow Christ in the consecrated life but also priests, to whom the radicalism of holiness in accordance with the spirit of the evangelical counsels is also proposed. Indeed, this radicalism is incumbent on all the faithful, including lay people, for it is ''a fundamental, undeniable demand flowing from the call of Christ to follow and imitate him by virtue of the intimate communion of life with him brought about by the Spirit''.81

The faithful ought to be able to contemplate on the face of their Bishop the grace-given qualities which in the various Beatitudes make up the self-portrait of Christ: the face of poverty, meekness and the thirst for righteousness; the merciful face of the Father and of the peaceful and peacegiving man; the pure face of one who constantly looks to God alone. The faithful should also be able to see in their Bishop the face of one who relives Jesus' own compassion for the afflicted and, today as much as in the past, the face filled with strength and interior joy of one persecuted for the truth of the Gospel.

The virtue of obedience

19 By taking on these very human features of Jesus, the Bishop also becomes the model and promoter of a spirituality of communion, carefully and vigilantly working to build up the Church, so that all that he says and does will reflect a common filial submission in Christ and in the Spirit to the loving plan of the Father. As a teacher of holiness and minister of the sanctification of his people, the Bishop is called to carry out faithfully the will of the Father. The Bishop's obedience must be lived according to the example – for it could hardly be otherwise – of the obedience of Christ himself, who said that he came down from heaven not to do his own will, but rather the will of the One who sent him (cf. Jn Jn 6,38 Jn 8,29 Ph 2,7-8).

Walking in the footsteps of Christ, the Bishop is obedient to the Gospel and the Church's Tradition; he is able to read the signs of the times and to recognize the voice of the Holy Spirit in the Petrine ministry and in episcopal collegiality. In my Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis I stressed the apostolic, communitarian and pastoral character of priestly obedience.82 These hallmarks naturally appear even more markedly in the obedience of the Bishop. The fullness of the Sacrament of Holy Orders which he has received puts him in a special relationship with the Successor of Peter, with the members of the College of Bishops and with his own particular Church. He must feel committed to living intensely this relationship with the Pope and his brother Bishops in a close bond of unity and cooperation, and thus conforming to the divine plan which willed to unite the Apostles inseparably around Peter. This hierarchical communion of the Bishop with the Supreme Pontiff strengthens his ability to make present, by virtue of the Order he has received, Jesus Christ, the invisible Head of the whole Church.

The apostolic aspect of obedience is necessarily linked also to its communitarian aspect, since the episcopate is by its nature ''one and indivisible”.83 As a result of this communal dimension, the Bishop is called to live out his obedience by overcoming all temptations to individualism and by taking upon himself, within the wider context of the mission of the College of Bishops, concern for the good of the whole Church.

As a model of attentive listening, the Bishop will also strive to understand, through prayer and discernment, the will of God in what the Spirit is saying to the Church. Through the evangelical exercise of his authority, he will be ready to dialogue with his co-workers and the faithful in order to build effective mutual understanding.84 This will enable him to show a pastoral appreciation of the dignity and responsibility of each member of the People of God, fostering in a balanced and serene way their spirit of initiative. The faithful should be helped to grow towards a responsible obedience which will enable them to be actively engaged on the pastoral plane.85 Here the exhortation which Saint Ignatius of Antioch addressed to Polycarp remains timely: ''Let nothing be done without your consent, but do nothing yourself without the consent of God''.86

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