VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Ordaining a new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Santiago, Chile, Pope Francis said being named a bishop did not confer authority over others but is a mandate to be at their service.
“The bishop is a servant, shepherd, father, brother,” the pope said June 22. “He is never a mercenary.”
Although the ordination of new auxiliary bishops usually takes place in the diocese where they are assigned, the pope presided over the ordination of Bishop Alberto Lorenzelli Rossi in St. Peter’s Basilica.
As is customary, Pope Francis read the ritual homily for episcopal ordinations, but added his own comments and cautions.
The prepared text included a reminder that Christ continues to preach, teach and sanctify his followers through the ministry of the bishop.
Departing from the text, the pope said that bishops must not only announce the word of God in “every occasion,” but also must be men of prayer.
“Never forget that the first job of a bishop is prayer. This is what St. Peter said on the day he created the deacons: ‘To us, prayer and the announcement of the word.’ A bishop who does not pray is a mercenary,” the pope said.
Pope Francis reminded the newly ordained bishop of his duties to be close to the poor and those in need. A bishop, he added, must also remain close to the priests and deacons of the diocese.
“Be close to the priests, very close, so that when they look for you, they find you quickly, without bureaucracy, directly,” he said.
The Vatican announced Bishop Lorenzelli’s appointment in late May, just over a month after Pope Francis met with Bishop Celestino Aos Braco of Copiapo, Chile, who was chosen to lead the archdiocese temporarily after the resignation of Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati in late March.
Although there already were six auxiliary bishops in Santiago, Bishop Aos told journalists April 8 that he asked the pope to name new auxiliary bishops who can help him with the governance of the archdiocese.
The pope had also named Father Carlos Irarrazaval Errazuriz as auxiliary bishop. However, Father Irarrazaval asked Pope Francis to withdraw his nomination after he was criticized for offensive statements on the clerical sex abuse scandal, the role of women in the church and Jews.
In a statement released by the Archdiocese of Santiago June 14, Father Irarrazaval apologized to those affected by his words and said he withdrew his nomination to safeguard “the unity and peace of this beloved Archdiocese of Santiago.”
Bishop Lorenzelli’s ordination Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica drew many negative comments on social media, especially in Chile, because Cardinals Ezzati and Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa both participated. The two cardinals, both former archbishops of Santiago, are under investigation for possible cover-ups of abuse cases in the archdiocese.
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