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Friday, January 30, 2009

Ubi Primum on the Duties of Bishops

To Our Venerable Brothers, the Patriarchs, the Primates, the Archbishops, and the Bishops. 

Venerable Brothers, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction. 

When it first pleased God to raise Us to the supreme See of Saint Peter, He entrusted to Us the power of the Vicar of Christ as governor of His universal Church. We heard the divine voice: 

"Feed my lambs; feed my sheep." The care of both the lambs of the Lord's flock (who are the people scattered through the entire world) and of the sheep, (the bishops who act as tender parents of the lambs) is entrusted to the pope. Therefore, brothers, receive the words of your shepherd through this letter. You are called to share in Our concerns. Understand from Our warnings and exhortations how much the desire to fulfill Our duties presses upon Us. Keep in mind also the strength of Our love for you, which leads Us to earnestly desire the eternal joy of the shepherds which comes from the progress of the flock.


Concluding Exhortation

6. Finally, to cover many matters in a few words, it is fitting that you yourselves be the promoters, the leaders, and the teachers in every sacred and ecclesiastical function and in every exercise of divine worship and of piety. Thus, both the clergy and the whole flock may be enlightened, as if by the brightness of your holiness and may be warmed by the fire of your love. Therefore, be an example for your flock in the frequent celebration of the Mass, in devout offering, in solemn celebration of Masses, in administering the sacraments, in reciting the breviary, in respect for and in the splendor of the churches in the discipline of your household and of your spiritual family, in love for the poor and in helping them, in looking after the sick and supporting them, in welcoming pilgrims with hospitality, and finally in every good work of Christian virtue. Thus, all may be imitators of you just as you are imitators of Christ as is fitting for bishops whom the Holy Spirit placed in charge of the Church of God which Jesus redeemed by His blood. Look back often on the apostles to whose place you have succeeded. Follow in their footsteps in works, in vigilance, in bearing hardship, in keeping the wolves away from your sheep, in removing the roots of vices, in teaching the evangelical law, and in leading back to salutary penance those who have strayed.

The omnipotent and merciful God will surely be with you. In that comforter, we can do everything. We trust that religious princes will give you their help. In addition, this Holy See will assist you whenever you think Our Apostolic authority will be helpful. May all of you whom We love in Christ Jesus come to Us with confidence as Our brothers, Our helpers, and Our crown of glory. Come to the Holy Roman Church, your mother and the head and teacher of all the churches. The source of religion comes from her. The rock of faith and the fount of priestly unity resides here, as well as the teaching of uncorrupted truth. We desire nothing more and find nothing more pleasant than to serve the glory of God with you and to work for the protection and the propagation of the Catholic faith. We want to save souls for whom We would willingly offer Our lives if necessary. Finally, may the great reward which waits for you rouse you and spur you on. When the Prince of Shepherds appears, you will receive an unfading crown of glory and a crown of justice which is reserved for those faithful dispensers of the mysteries of God and for those energetic and vigilant observers of the house of Israel, the Holy Church of God. Though unworthy, We take the place of God on earth; accordingly, We bless your brotherhood lovingly. We impart Our apostolic blessing to your clergy and faithful people with paternal affection.

Given in Rome, at St. Mary Major, on the third day of December, 1740, the first year of Our pontificate.
The crisis in the Catholic Church is episcopal, starting with demands for following the "spirit of Vatican" to the exclusion of all other Councils and all the pronouncements of Popes through the ages. 
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