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It is sad to see some Bishops squabbling about comparatively unimportant matters, while, close by, people are falling into the pit - into Hell - because of their own freely-chosen actions. Those sinful people who died unrepentant are responsible for their fate; but they were not helped by Bishops who might have taught them the Faith in its fullness, with fervour, and so steered them away from danger.
There are priests and Bishops who die when still imperfect, with serious failings, but who have spent their time and energy in fulfilling their calling. The Lord looks with delight upon such servants and friends as those faithful men who have pointed people towards the kingdom, urging their flocks not to lose Eternal life for the sake of extra social influence or political power or earthly pleasures.
One of the main duties of a Bishop is to teach the Faith. In doing so, and teaching the Faith in its fullness, it's as if he is leading people away from spiritual and moral danger, away from the cliff-edge which represents spiritual and moral disaster and - for those who are unrepentant when they die - the way down to Hell.
Christ loves and honours His beloved Mother Mary. He wants us to love and honour her, and to give her special honour in and through the Church. He delights in seeing Popes and Bishops set an example in this, by their sincere prayers and other acts of devotion at Marian shrines, and before images of Our Blessed Lady.
When a new Bishop is appointed, he should know what his Master, Christ, is inviting Him to examine, as he begins his care of a new Diocese. The Bishop will ask about his priests, and their well-being. He will look at the Seminary, and its training. He will ensure that catechesis is well-organised, orthodox and wholehearted; and he will see whether the Sacred Liturgy is celebrated in a way which gives glory to God, and every possible help for the education and salvation of souls.
People treat a Bishop in all sorts of ways. A bishop is asked to do favours, to help the needy, to preach and console. He is often flattered, and over-busy. He cannot shepherd his flock, and serve them, and keep in mind their Eternal salvation, if he does not make time for prayer. He is in need of the intercessions of his own people, so that he will be of one mind with Christ.
There are two groups of people who look on, as if from afar, as a Bishop speaks with members of his flock. They are those politicians and journalists who regard the Catholic Church as an archaic, irrelevant, and peculiar religion; and they have no idea of the extraordinary role of the Bishop, in God's sight, nor of his awesome responsibilities and privileges.
Since they are often ignorant of Christian history, some groups of puzzled reporters or politicians who regard the Church as irrelevant and a Bishop as a nuisance have no idea of the truth about his office. They do not realise that God the Son, in coming to earth, founded a Church with Divine authority, sent out chosen leaders to preach the truth in every place, about sin and salvation; and that the current Bishop is the particular ambassador or representative of almighty God in this place on earth!
It is not the Bishop's primary task to encourage people to 'save the planet' or merely to leave the world a better place - though we are trying to build God's Kingdom. The Bishop is a man who stands in front of the Abyss, his arms upraised, preaching, as he strives to lead his flock to repent of their sins while they can, to confess them, and to lead holy lives in preparation for Heaven.
Bishops are called to do more than show out niceness. The Bishops of the Church should act, in their faithfulness and preaching, like a 'wall' of truth and care, to prevent any of their flock from falling into the Abyss. When Bishops neglect to preach about sin, but are mainly concerned to be nice to everyone, they will have to account to God for the souls of those whom they let through the gap in the 'wall', without a word of warning.
Christ is glad to see His people arrange for kingly greetings - processions, and trumpets - to be offered to the 'other Christs' He has called to look after His flocks, whether a Bishop or Archbishop. He is the King of Heaven, and these leaders in the Church are representatives of our Heavenly King, and so deserve our respect - including parish priests, also chosen by Christ to lead us.
There are occasions when inter-religious co-operation is wise. It is not wise for Catholic Bishops to take part in inter-religious events that would confuse the Faithful; but when all persons who honour God find themselves in opposition to a series of Godless leaders in Europe, for example, who impose Godless programmes and even immoral plans, for citizens and even children, religious leaders should unite to speak about shared values. When people are in danger, it does not matter whose hands you hold, to remain upright.
It is a cause for joy that there are greater signs of goodwill amongst leaders of various religions than in earlier centuries; yet when our Bishops know that Christ is the only Saviour, and that no other religion, in itself, is salvific, (though individuals may be saved, in them, for special reasons), it is unwise to confuse the Faithful by programmes and meetings that give the impression that it doesn't matter what religion we practice and that each is but another route to Heaven.
Christ holds up St. John Vianney, inviting all priests and Bishops to peer through the mists of time to meet a Saint whose priestly ministry was simple, fervent, Christ-centered, self-forgetful, pure and holy. St John is the ideal patron Saint for all Clergy. Faith and love are important, today, not trying to be being 'relevant'.
It is Satan who helps some of the Clergy to water down the Faith, and to act against the Faith in ways that others do. Christ sees it is as hard for an orthodox priest to speak with a luke-warm Bishop today as it was for Franz Jaggerstatter to speak to the army officer, or St. Thomas More to speak to his king.
God looks from Heaven upon the Earth, and sees the long line of Popes whom He has appointed to be leaders of the other Bishops and of the Church. He sees that although all have been faithful to the Tradition, some have been silent when they should have spoken and allowed evil to flourish. Jesus is the model for all Popes: gentle with the weak but bold in correcting serious faults or misunderstandings.
When we talk about the Magisterium we mean that it is Christ Who has given us the Pope and the other Catholic Bishops, to teach us the truth handed on in Sacred Scripture and in the Sacred Tradition. They teach us right from wrong. To spend a life-time arguing about their sure teaching is to waste valuable time, which we could have spent striving for holiness in the service of God and neighbour.
There are people in the Church who dishonour Christ by distorting the Faith. No-one should insult such dissenters; it is enough to speak about the errors in their works; but no Bishop should give them work to do in His Diocese that will damage the souls of his flock, no matter how famous, influential or persuasive that person might be.
Catholics ought to pray earnestly for their Bishops, who have so many people demanding their time or attention, or complaining, or flattering them; and it is easy for some to forget their main purpose: to teach, govern and sanctify those in their care. They will have to account to God for the souls in their care.
What will God's judgement be, on those Bishops who have focused on unimportant matters, and have neglected to teach the Faith in its entirety, thus endangering the Faithful? It's as though they have allowed souls in need of careful shepherding to wander near the edge of the Abyss.
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