The governing office

The governing office

The bishops, as vicars and legates of Christ, govern the particular Churches assigned to them by their counsels, exhortations, and example, but over and above that also by the authority and sacred power which indeed they ought to exercise so as to edify, in the spirit of service which is that of their Master.

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The power which they exercise personally in the name of Christ, is proper, ordinary, and immediate, although its exercise is ultimately controlled by the supreme authority of the Church.

But the bishops should not be thought of as vicars of the Pope. His ordinary and immediate authority over the whole Church does not annul, but on the contrary confirms and defends that of the bishops. Their authority must be exercised in communion with the whole Church under the guidance of the Pope.

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The Good Shepherd ought to be the model and "form" of the bishop's pastoral office. Conscious of his own weaknesses, the bishop . . . can have compassion for those who are ignorant and erring. 

He should not refuse to listen to his subjects whose welfare he promotes as of his very own children.... the faithful ... should be closely attached to the bishop as the Church is to Jesus Christ, and as Jesus Christ is to the Father.

Let all follow the bishop, as Jesus Christ follows his Father, and the college of presbyters as the apostles; respect the deacons as you do God's law. Let no one do anything concerning the Church in separation from the bishop.

Death is transformed by Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, also himself suffered the death that is part of the human condition. Yet, despite his anguish as he faced death, he accepted it in an act of complete and free submission to his Father's will. The obedience of Jesus has transformed the curse of death into a blessing.

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Because of Christ, Christian death has a positive meaning: For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. The saying is sure: if we have died with him, we will also live with him.  

What is essentially new about Christian death is this: through Baptism, the Christian has already died with Christ sacramentally, in order to live a new life; and if we die in Christ's grace, physical death completes this dying with Christ and so completes our incorporation into him in his redeeming act.

It is better for me to die in (eis) Christ Jesus than to reign over the ends of the earth. Him it is I seek - who died for us. Him it is I desire - who rose for us. I am on the point of giving birth .... Let me receive pure light; when I shall have arrived there, then shall I be a man.

In death, God calls man to himself. Therefore the Christian can experience a desire for death like St. Paul's. My desire is to depart and be with Christ. He can transform his own death into an act of obedience and love towards the Father, after the example of Christ.

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