success stories

Priest-bishop relationship is not one way,
Pope tells new prelates

By Catholic News Service

When a new priest promises to respect and obey his bishop, the bishop promises to guide him and care for him, especially in times of trouble, Pope John Paul II said.

Addressing 117 recently named bishops from 33 countries Sept. 21, the pope said, "The spiritual care of priests is a primary obligation of every diocesan bishop."

During the ordination rite, when a priest places his hands in the hands of his bishop and pledges his "filial devotion and obedience," it is not "a one-way gesture," the pope said during the meeting at his summer villa south of Rome.

"The young priest chooses to entrust himself to the bishop, and the bishop, for his part, commits himself to watching over these hands," Pope John Paul said.

"In this way, the bishop becomes responsible for the fate of those hands which he grasps in his own. A priest must be able to feel, especially in moments of difficulty or solitude, that his hands are grasped by the bishop's," the pope said.

Pope John Paul told the new bishops their mission to preach the Gospel is not easy in today's world, often marked by agnosticism and materialism.

"However, we must not give into pessimism and discouragement because it is the Spirit which guides the church" and inspires its members to find new ways of preaching the Good News, he said.

"The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive precisely because it is able to give strong orientations to human existence, announcing in a convincing way that Christ is the one savior of all humankind," the pope said.

Pope John Paul told his fellow bishops, "The effectiveness and fruitfulness of our ministry depends in a large part on our configuration to Christ and on our personal holiness."

The first task of a pastor, he said, is to increase the desire of the faithful to be holy, and that happens when they see their pastors striving for holiness.