How bishops are expected to function

The bishop . . . will be sure to listen to the interested parties

Various mandates have been published respecting the proper functioning of bishops.  More importantly, in 2004,  the Congregation for Bishops prepared and disseminated “Apostolorum Successores” (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops).   Here are three sections that I have selected because they specify the conduct required of bishops.  With even greater force, therefore, they apply to the conduct of Cardinal Ratzinger.

#1  Good government requires the Bishop to do all in his power to seek the truth and to make every effort to perfect his teaching, attentive not only to the quantity but also to the quality of his pronouncements. In this way he will avoid the risk of adopting pastoral solutions of a purely formal nature which fail to address the substance of the problems (sec. 57).

#2  The Bishop should make it his business to acquire accurate knowledge of the common good of the diocese. This knowledge should be continually updated and confirmed through frequent visits among the people of God entrusted to him – so that he comes to know them – and also through study, socio-religious research, the counsel of prudent persons and constant dialogue with the faithful, since modern life is subject to such rapid changes (sec. 58).

#3  The Bishop will judge all things with prudence. . . .  With a merciful and benign yet firm spirit, he will rise above personal interests, avoiding undue haste or partisan spirit, and will be sure to listen to the interested parties before reaching a judgement on their actions (sec. 65).

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