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Vatican tells bishops how to do their job

The Congregation for Bishops has issued a 258 page manual offering advice and setting forth norms regarding the use of episcopal authority and the proper responses to contemporary problems.

The Guide, titled Apostolorum Successores, includes responses to 231 specific questions. It updates a previous guide that had been in force since 1973. It is currently available only in Italian, but an English translation is expected in the coming months.

In an explanatory note released to the media yesterday, the Congregation said the new manual draws on material from Vatican II, the new 1983 Code of Canon Law, and pontifical teachings of the past 30 years, particularly Pope John Paul II's apostolic exhortation Pastores Gregis. It said the suggestion for the updated manual had come from the Synod of Bishops, which met in October 2001.

"The bishop is a father, who lives for his children," the Congregation says in the introductory note. It goes on to say that the bishop should do everything within his power to form the consciences of the faithful under his care.

The book is divided into nine chapters. The first three chapters examine the bishop's own pursuit of sanctity. The next four chapters focus on the bishop's ministry, as the leader and center of unity in his diocese; they offer encouragement to the bishop in carrying out the three-fold task of teaching, sanctifying, and governing his particular Church.

Vatican explains new guide for bishops (Catholic World News 9/3/04)

"Apostolorum Successores": New directory for bishops (Vatican Information Service 9/3/04)

10 Mar 2004