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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

General audience: a Church separated from her bishop is an ailing Church

Vatican City, 5 November 2014 (VIS) – The Holy Father dedicated today's catechesis to the hierarchical dimension of the Church. Christ edifies the Church as His body through her ministries, and it is through the episcopal ministry that the Lord is present in His Church, guiding and caring for her.

“In the presence and in the ministry of the bishops, the presbyters and the deacons”, he said, “we are able to recognise the true face of the Church. ... And through these brothers, elected by the Lord and consecrated by the sacrament of ordination, the Church exercises her maternity”. Francis emphasised that this office is not, however, an honour but rather a service to be performed following Christ's example.

He also remarked that bishops must be united, as a family. “When Jesus chose and called the Apostles, he imagined them not separated from each other, but together, united with Him, like one family. The bishops too constitute a single college, gathered around the Pope, who is the guardian and guarantor of this profound communion”. He added, “let us think of all those bishops around the world who, while living in widely differing locations, cultures, sensibilities and traditions … feel close to one another and become an expression of the intimate bond, in Christ, between their communities”.

The Pope concluded by explaining that a healthy Church cannot exist if the faithful, deacons and presbyters are not united with their bishop: “The Church separated from her bishop is an ailing Church. This union of the faithful and the bishop is willed by Jesus”.

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