Holy Spirit Continues to Build Church, Says Pope

Offers Bishops a Reflection on Charisms

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ROME, SEPT. 15, 2011 (Zenit.org).- As the Holy Spirit continues to build the Church and inspire new charisms, it is the role of the bishop to accept the gifts with gratitude, but also to discern and judge their validity, says Benedict XVI. The Pope said this today to a group of some 100 newly ordained bishops upon receiving them in audience this morning in the apostolic palace in Castel Gandolfo. The bishops are taking part in an annual course organized jointly by the Congregation for Bishops and Congregation for Eastern Churches. 

In his address, the Holy Father reflected on the role of the bishop with regard to "the charisms that the Spirit arouses for the edification of the Church."

Reminding the bishops that "episcopal consecration has conferred on you the plenitude of the sacrament of holy orders," he noted that they are "placed at the service of the common priesthood of the faithful, of their spiritual growth and their sanctity."

"Because of this," the Pontiff continued, "bishops have the task of watching and working to ensure that the baptized increase in grace, in accordance with the charisms the Holy Spirit causes to arise in their hearts and communities."

Benedict XVI referred to the Second Vatican Council, noting that it "recalled that the Holy Spirit, while unifying in the communion and ministry of the Church, provides and directs her with different hierarchical and charismatic gifts and embellishes her with their fruits."

He mentioned the recent World Youth Day as a sign of the "fecundity of the charisms of the Church," and said that this is a demonstration of "a vitality that reinforces the work of evangelization and the presence of Christ in the world."

"We are able to see -- and we can almost touch -- that the Holy Spirit is still present in the Church today, and that He creates charisms and unity," the Pope added.

"Always bear in mind the fact that the gifts of the Spirit -- be they extraordinary or simple and humble -- are always given freely for the edification of all," the Holy Father continued. "The bishop, as a visible sign of the unity of his particular Church, has the duty of unifying and harmonizing charismatic diversity, favoring reciprocity between the hierarchical and the baptismal priesthood."

He urged the prelates to "accept, therefore, the charisms with gratitude for the sanctification of the Church and the vitality of the apostolate."

However, he cautioned that acceptance of charisms is "inseparable from the discernment that is proper to the mission of the bishop": "Vatican Council II said as much when it gave pastoral ministry the task of judging the genuineness of charisms and their proper use, not extinguishing the Spirit but testing and retaining what is good."

"Therefore," he added, "it must always be clear that no charism can dispense from deferring and submitting to the pastors of the Church."

"By accepting, judging and ordering the different gifts and charisms," the Pope said, "the bishop carries out a great and valuable service to the priesthood of the faithful and to the vitality of the Church, which will shine as the Lord's Bride, clothed in the sanctity of her children."

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33449?l=english