Vatican Official Ordains 4 Bishops in Central African Republic

Cardinal Filoni: God Sends You To Teach His Word, Which is Light and Truth

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ROME, JULY 24, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, brought "a message of hope and support" to the Church in the Central African Republic, with the ordination of four bishops this past Sunday at Bangui.

"The Church of Central Africa will shine with the light of Christ! I invite you to a renewed commitment with the mission: the time has come for a new beginning! A new era must begin!" said the cardinal before a crowd of more than 1,500 people gathered in the square of the cathedral of Bangui for the episcopal ordination of Dieudonne Nzapalainga, archbishop of Bangui; Nestor Desire Noir Aziabgia, bishop of Bossangoa; Dennis Abgenyadzi, bishop of Berberati; and Cyr Nestor Yapaupa, bishop coadjutor of Alindao, according to Fides news agency.

Concelebrating the five-hour Mass with Cardinal Filoni were all the bishops of the Central African Republic, who were joined by bishops of France, Cameroon, Chad, and Ghana, in addition to the president of the Association of Episcopal Conferences of Central Africa (ACERAC). Also attending were top civil authorities, including the president of the republic.

"The Holy Father, Benedict XVI, gave you on May 14, feast of the Apostle Saint Matthew, four new pastors," the cardinal said in his homily. "God gives them to you so that they will feed you, govern you, that is, to satisfy the thirst and hunger of your souls, leading you to safe waters. God sends them to you to teach you his Word, which is Light and Truth that illuminates people on the path of life. God gives them to you to attain holiness through the sacraments, which are the presence of God, through his Spirit, in our midst."

Commenting on the biblical readings of the day, the cardinal pointed out that "God keeps his promise to be the shepherd of his abandoned people, giving us Jesus of Nazareth, the Good Shepherd. The Gospel describes one of the important characteristics of the figure of the pastor: piety."

The Italian prelate reflected in depth on this subject, emphasizing among other things that "to be a Christian is to be converted, following the example of Jesus, an icon of tenderness, of mercy and of the compassion of God." If this is applied to all Christians, it is even more so to those chosen by God to be bishops, he suggested. After recalling the meaning of the liturgical rites of episcopal consecration, Cardinal Filoni said: "Jesus does not reduce the mandate he entrusts to his Apostles to one dimension, but he converts them by 360 degrees to be evangelizers. Hence, it is obvious that we, pastors, must be aware that, not only are we sent to proclaim the truth but also to carry out acts of compassion, mercy and love."

The prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples concluded his homily by addressing this exhortation to the new bishops. "Your mission is to illuminate the darkness of our world with the light of the Word of God through the witness of your lives. In the name of the Lord, I beg you: renew faith in your life. May the Year of Faith be for you an opportunity to strengthen and deepen faith at the personal and community level. May it help you to strengthen the witness of your charity and your commitment to society."