Cardinal Egan Describes What a Bishop Should Be

Emphasizes Help for Parents as Teachers of the Faith

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 1, 2001 (Zenit.org).- A bishop of the new millennium has a threefold task - to educate, sanctify and govern, said Cardinal Edward Egan in his opening address for the sessions of the 10th Synod of Bishops.

The New York cardinal, general relator of the assembly, delivered an extensive address in Latin this morning on the foremost topics the four-week-long synod will address.

The synod's almost 300 participants include 55 cardinals, seven patriarchs, 70 archbishops and 106 bishops.

Before the address began, John Paul II presided over a ceremony to bless the new synod chapel. After singing Psalm 26, he lit the lamp with the light of the Well of St. Gregory the Illuminator, a gift from Armenian Apostolic Patriarch Karekin II.

The Holy Father then briefly greeted Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, acting president-delegate. Cardinal Jan Pieter Schotte, secretary-general of the synod, reported in turn on the way the assembly was prepared.

Then, it was Cardinal Egan's turn to speak. He began by focusing on a key role of bishops: the teaching of the Gospel message.

"Each successor of the apostles must associate to himself as many preachers, evangelizers, teachers and catechists as possible," the 69-year-old archbishop of New York said.

"In this connection," he continued, "his advice is especially necessary for the religion teachers in primary and secondary Catholic schools - for the catechists who work with converts and in diocesan and parish programs for children, youths and adults, as well as for theology professors at the university level.

"It is indispensable that we not neglect another important ally in our proclamation of the Gospel, namely, parents of families. They are the first teachers of the faith. For this very reason, a bishop should take advantage of every opportunity to help parents, especially at the parish level, to study the faith in-depth and transmit it with enthusiasm."

The cardinal added: "In order to be a really effective teacher of the faith, the bishop must work primarily with the priests and deacons of his diocese. The essential prerequisite, of course, is a good education in the seminary for the priests, and solid programs of theological formation and spirituality for the permanent deacons."

The bishop "must know who is forming his future clergy intellectually and spiritually, what they teach, and if they comply with the assigned task," Cardinal Egan emphasized.

Sanctification was the second function addressed by New York's cardinal.

In this connection, he stressed the importance "of ensuring that the liturgies in our churches and chapels are developed in harmony with the norms and practices of the Church, and that they be carried out according to the spirit of true devotion."

Regarding a bishop's function of government, Cardinal Egan highlighted the need that he be a leader "in the areas of poverty and peace, which are closely connected in themselves. Because, where misery prevails, caused by injustice and hardness of heart, conflict can be expected."

"What is more," he added, "in those regions of the world where there is a certain degree of prosperity, the bishop must also remind his people, in very clear terms, about their obligation to the poor and excluded, beyond the boundaries of the diocese or nation."

At this point, Cardinal Egan turned to the issue of globalization that, according to him, can "be for the bishop an opportunity to evangelize, proclaiming the Gospel message of justice and compassion."

He said he believed that bishops today must be prophets of the "globalization of solidarity ... a globalization that responds to the needs of all the people - rich and poor alike - with dignity, generosity and nobility."

In particular, he stressed that the mass movements of men, women and children fleeing from wars, civil conflicts, misery, and diseases, is an appeal to the bishop from God himself, who "is often hidden behind the figure of the 'foreigner'" and "asks for food, clothing and shelter."

"All these topics of justice always make us more sensitive to certain sinful practices of our time, which violate the most elementary of human rights, the right to life," Cardinal Egan added.

"We speak and struggle against abortion, euthanasia and capital punishment, and we renew our determination to defend life in every one of its phases as a blessing of God," he said.

The last challenge the cardinal mentioned in speaking of the bishop's government was the dialogue with believers of other religions, which he said "has become a key factor in the present life of the Church."

"It implies knowledge and sympathy for their values and beliefs, a will to share intuitions and cultures, as well as a desire to cooperate in worthy causes of all kinds," Cardinal Egan said. "The bishop must always be aware, however, that he must not permit the essential values of the Catholic faith to be concealed or compromised."

About 15 bishops spoke in the afternoon, each with an 8-minute limit.

Zenit - The World Seen From Rome
1. oktober 2001

av Webmaster publisert 02.10.2001, sist endret 02.10.2001 - 18:52