Embrace Poverty, Pope Urges as Synod of Bishops Opens

An Indispensable Requirement for Proclaiming Gospel, He Says

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 30, 2001 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II today inaugurated the 10th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops with an urgent call to poverty, so that the bishops become heralds of the salvation of Christ.

"Indeed, poverty is an essential feature of Jesus' person and of his mystery of salvation, and it represents one of the indispensable requirements so that the proclamation of the Gospel will be heard and accepted by humanity today," the Pope said.

He concelebrated Mass in St. Peter's Basilica with the synod's participants, including 55 cardinals, seven patriarchs, 70 archbishops, 106 bishops and 10 priests. All the world's 112 bishops' conferences are represented at the synod.

The synod, which ends Oct. 27, will focus on the role of the bishop. It is the culmination of a series of synods since the Second Vatican Council analyzing ministries and states of life in the Church.

During the homily, the Pontiff asked the bishops to make an examination of conscience "on our attitude toward earthly goods, especially the use made of them."

"We are asked to verify to what degree there is personal and communal conversion in the Church connected to effective evangelical poverty," John Paul II said.

"The way of poverty will help us transmit the fruits of salvation to our contemporaries," he stressed. "Therefore, as bishops, we are called to be poor in the service of the Gospel."

Bishops must be "servants of the revealed Word who, denouncing abuses, raise their voice when necessary in defense of the last," the Pontiff said.

Today, bishops must be "prophets who courageously manifest social sins connected to consumerism, hedonism, an economy that produces an unacceptable division between luxury and misery," John Paul II emphasized.

The key to accomplish the above is that bishops teach and support "that ensemble of principles of solidarity and social justice that make up the social doctrine of the Church," the Holy Father explained.

However, poverty in the bishop's life only has meaning if he is a "man of God," if his life and ministry are totally under divine lordship, and if they draw light and vigor from the unfathomable mystery of God," the Pope added.

He added: "Episcopal ordination does not infuse the perfection of virtues: The bishop is called to follow his way of sanctification with greater intensity, in order to reach the stature of Christ, the perfect Man."

John Paul II said that the bishop's mission to teach, sanctify and govern is a "difficult and wearisome mission" and, because of this, might lead to discouragement.

He reminded the world's prelates, however, that their vocation is a call from Christ. The Pope concluded: "[We] want to serve his Gospel for the hope of the world!"

Zenit - The World Seen From Rome
30. september 2001

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