The Vatican Radio Website offered some very encouraging insights from Pope Francis today. In the article Pope to Swiss Bishops: Be the Body of Christ, not just another NGO, the Holy Father reminded the Swiss bishops that:
… the mission entrusted to the bishops is to “feed the flock”. “The people of God cannot be without a shepherd”, he continued and the role of bishops and priests is to serve the unity of the faith and ensure that it is taught according to Church tradition.
The article noted:
The Pope comments on how the Gospel is a powerful force to counter a thinking that deliberately denies the transcendent dimension of man, of life and of human relations, especially in the face of suffering and death. Here, he continues, the witness of Christians and parishes can really brighten the way and support the pursuit of happiness for people. In this way, Pope Francis states “the Church in Switzerland will clearly be the Body of Christ, the People of God, and not only a beautiful organization, another NGO”.
Later the report stated:
The Pope adds however, that in prayer and in the joint proclamation of the Lord Jesus, we must be careful to allow the faithful of every Christian denomination, to live their faith clearly and free of confusion at the expense of truth without the differences. He warns against an ecumenism which – on the pretext of “a certain accommodation” hides our Eucharistic faith, which implies that we take neither our own “greatest treasure” nor our interlocutor seriously enough.
The Pope had words for the laity as well:
“The mission of the laity in the Church has an important place, because they contribute to the life of parishes and church institutions, whether as a full-time workers or volunteers”, concludes Pope Francis. He adds that while their commitment and support should be appreciated, clear respect must always be shown for the difference between the common priesthood of the faithful and sacramental priesthood.
When the Holy Father speaks, there is something to be learned. The lesson may be intended for many or it may speak personally to the individual soul.
We who are the parishioners, sheep, and lambs at St. Peter Roman Catholic Church in Washington, VA should take heart in the words spoken by Pope Francis. We know that our Holy Father, as the Vicar of Christ, desires that we have a shepherd who will “feed the flock.” He also understands that we, the laity, have our individual roles in the “common priesthood” and that we deserve a shepherd who will live to the fullness of his “sacramental priesthood.”