Be Men of Prayer, Pope Urges Bishops

Says They Are Called To Know Christ Deeply

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 23, 2007, (Zenit.org).- The prayer of a bishop is not only a commitment, but a necessity, says Benedict XVI.



The Pope said this upon receiving in audience at Castel Gandolfo on Saturday the participants of a meeting of recently ordained bishops.

The Holy Father spoke to the 112 prelates, all of whom were named bishops in the last year, of the "the apostolic and pastoral character of the 'bishop's prayer.'"

The prelates participated this week in the annual gathering for newly ordained bishops organized by the Congregation for Bishops at the Regina Apostolorum university.

The Pontiff told the bishops that like the Twelve Apostles, "we were called above all to stay with Christ, to know him more deeply and to take part in his ministry of love and his relationship of full confidence in the Father."

"And the Apostles understood well that listening in prayer and then proclaiming what they heard must have first place among their many tasks," he added.

Benedict XVI said that the organizational tasks and commitments of a bishop are numerous, "but the first place in the life of a successor of the Apostles must be reserved for God."

The Pope also reminded the prelates that through prayer "the pastor becomes sensitive to the needs of others and merciful toward all." He added as well that "the pastor rooted in contemplation knows how to welcome the needs of others, which become his own through prayer."

Never tire

The Holy Father said that the bishop must also create opportunities for the faithful to pray: "In the cities in which you live and operate, often frenetic and noisy, where man runs and loses himself, where one lives as if God does not exist, may you be able to create places and occasions of prayer."

He encouraged the prelates to "never tire" of helping parishes, schools and families become places of prayer. He urged them in particular "to make the cathedral an exemplary house of prayer, above all of liturgical prayer, where the diocesan community gathered together with their bishop can praise and thank God for the work of salvation and intercede for all men."

"Be men of prayer!" urged Benedict XVI. "The spiritual fecundity of the ministry of the bishop depends on the intensity of his union with the Lord.

"It is from prayer that a bishop must draw light, strength and comfort in his pastoral activity."