Pretoria, 24 January, 2020 / 2:58 am (ACI Africa).
At the ongoing Plenary Assembly of the Bishops in Botswana, South Africa and Swaziland, the Papal representative in the region, Archbishop Peter Bryan Wells outlined, on Wednesday, January 22, five characteristics of missionary episcopate that the Holy Father desires of serving Bishops as explained in Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium and that “the bishop must become a model of the joy of Christ.”
“The most important “takeaway” from Evangelii Gaudium is the reality that despite all the crises that the world and individuals within the world experience, with Christ joy is constantly born anew,” Archbishop Wells who represents the Holy Father in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho, and Swaziland told the members of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC).
He added in reference to the joy that comes with having a relationship with Jesus Christ, “This is an insight for the Christian faithful. It is an insight for the mission of the bishop. But, even more importantly, as sheep ourselves, it is an insight for the person of the bishop; the bishop must become a model of the joy of Christ. This is the first mark of Pope Francis’ model of the missionary episcopacy.”
In the face of the “consumeristic, throw-away culture of the world,” each member of SACBC needed to maintain his closeness to the person of Jesus Christ as “a bishop who sits at the wellspring of the joy of Christ, which comes to us through the Gospels,” the Apostolic Nuncio noted as a second characteristic of missionary episcopate during his Wednesday address at St. John Vianney Seminary in Pretoria, South Africa.
He explained, “If we bishops take the time to vulnerably sit with the Lord, silently approaching Him, coming to know His Good News, our faith should be nourished, and more than that, the way in which we “see” the world should be tinged by the experience we have of Christ and Christ’s vision.”