Sunday, April 22, 2007

KARWAR: Bishop, a Herald of the Faith: Nuncio

KARWAR: Bishop Primarily a Herald of the Faith: Nuncio Reminds

KARWAR, January 22, 2007 ( "[A] Bishop is, primarily, a herald of the Faith, who has to lead new disciples to Christ," the Apostolic Nuncio in India, Pedro Lopez Quintana reminded.

He was delivering the homily at the episcopal ordination of Msgr. Derek Fernandes at Karwar, 20th April, 2007.

"As an authentic teacher, one of your principal responsibilities" he told the Bishop-elect quoting from Pope John Paul II's Pastores Gregis, "is to proclaim the Gospel; with the courage imparted by the Spirit, (you) are to call people to faith and strengthen them in living faith."

Being endowed with this authority of Jesus and as "living witness of Divine and Catholic truth," the Nuncio said, "you are, therefore, expected first to know the truth and practice that into your life."

The Apostolic Nuncio, His Excellency Pedro Lopez Quintana, the representative of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI in India and Nepal, resides at Delhi, the capital city of India. It was the first time that he was visiting the Diocese of Karwar erected by Pope Paul VI's decree "Christi Missum" dated January 24, 1976.

Drawing from the rich symbolism of river used by prophet Ezekiel in the day's first reading, the Nuncio explained, "a priest, like that river, is God's chosen one to canalize the flow of God's grace and blessings towards those he serves. How much more can we say this about a Bishop, who has received the fullness of priesthood, anointed as God's elected leader of His people, endowed with the power of the Holy Spirit."

In explaining the rite of Consecration that was to follow his homily, the Apostolic Nuncio explained to all gathered that "new Bishop will make an Oath of Fidelity and [a] solemn promise before God and the assembled people of God, 'to maintain the deposit of faith, entire and incorrupt, as handed down by the Apostles and professed by the Church everywhere and at all times', and also 'to be faithful in obedience to the successor of the Apostle Peter'."

Dwelling strongly on the service aspect of leadership, he said, "There is, thus, every possibility that one who undertakes these task, if [he] meets with success, might forget his roots, which is God's calling. Such forgetfulness," the Nuncio explained, "could result in pride, and the pride obscures the vision of one's calling."

In saying this Archbishop Quintana was explaining the second reading of the day where Peter in his first letter exhorted the elders to be a caring shepherd without lording over the group in their charge, a temptation to which, "leaders of the Church, as shown in history, have time and again fallen prey to."

Sharply contrasting the power of the Bishop from secular powers, the Nuncio pointed out that "his governance will be pastorally effective only if it rests on a moral authority bestowed by a life of holiness. This is what will dispose the hearts of the people to accept his authority and the rules he would be laying down for the good of the People of God."

In order to live and excercise his authority as a participation in the mission of Christ, "the Bishop must return again and again to the image of the washing of the feet and that of the Good Shepherd to understand the unique form of authority that he is endowed with," the Archbishop said.

"Counting on a special divine grace, and the consolation born of the Gospel", the Nuncio told the Bishop-elect, "you must fill your heart with compassion, prompting you to draw near to the pain of every suffering man and woman and to soothe their wounds, ever confident that every lost sheep will be found."

The Pope's representative then exhorted the faithful people of Karwar "to accept your new Bishop with open heart", to "pray for him" and to "be his collaborators according to your specific vocation" in order "to help accomplish the Church's mission, which is an eternal salvation of all peoples."

PHOTOS: Episcopal Ordination of Most Rev. Derek Fernandes

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