VATICAN CITY (CNS): The modern bishop should be a firm defender of Catholic doctrine, an active promoter of human rights, a “father of all” to his faithful and a model of personal holiness, a new Vatican document says.
The 301-page Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops was prepared by the Congregation for Bishops and approved by Pope John Paul II. The directory, which updates a 1973 version, covers every area of a bishop’s spiritual, pastoral, administrative and public activities. It emphasises the local bishop’s ties with the Pope and the Vatican and the bishop’s crucial role in promoting Church communion.
It says bishops should make every effort to ensure that the faithful in their dioceses receive Church teachings and that documents from the Vatican are transmitted and followed.
At the same time, the directory says, bishops should “avoid questioning doctrinal aspects of the authentic or disciplinary magisterium, in order not to damage the Church’s authority and their own”.
The directory calls on bishops to take a personal interest in the selection and formation of seminarians and to be close to their priests.
On priestly celibacy, the directory says bishops should help priests better understand and respect this commitment in the face of “real obstacles” posed today.
Reflecting discussions at the 2001 Synod of Bishops on the topic, the directory stresses the need for the bishop to exemplify holiness and all the virtues preached by Christ.
The directory also calls on bishops to preach moral truths “always and everywhere”, especially on vital issues such as human life, the family, human freedom, the proper use of technology, and war and peace.