In their task of leading people to the light of Christ, bishops must have the courage to face opposition and peacefully stand firm in the truth, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Meeting the approval of the wider public "is not the criterion to which
we submit. Our criterion is the Lord himself," the pope said Jan. 6 as
he celebrated the feast of the Epiphany of the Lord with a Mass in St.
"The fear of God frees us from the fear of men. It liberates," he said.
During the three-hour ceremony, the pope also ordained four new
archbishops, including his longtime secretary, Archbishop Georg
Ganswein, 56, who became prefect of the papal household, a job that
involves organizing the pope's daily round of audiences and meetings.
The four men swore their fidelity to the Gospel and to the church and
laid prostrate on an ornate rug on the floor of St. Peter's Basilica as
the Litany of Saints was chanted. Then they knelt before Pope Benedict,
who laid his hands on their heads and ordained them bishops.
He anointed their heads with chrism oil, gave them the book of the
Gospels, slipped a ring on their fingers and gave each a miter and
In his homily at the Mass, the pope looked at the figure of the Three
Kings, the wise men who set out from the East in search of Jesus; the
pope drew comparisons between them and the mission to which the new
bishops are called.
Like the Magi, he said, the bishop, too, must not be content with his
position, but want to be "seized by God" and "gripped by God's concern
for men and women."
Prayer, in fact, helps "detach us from our false sense of security, from
our being enclosed within material and visible realities" and gives "us
a restlessness for God and thus an openness and concern for one
Like the wise men, who probably were scorned or ridiculed for following a
star in search of the promised king, a bishop must know that seeking
the truth is more important that "the taunts of the world, so apparently
"The humility of faith, of sharing the faith of the church of every age,
will constantly be in conflict with the prevailing wisdom of those who
cling to what seems certain," he said.
But a bishop, who must guide today's men and women to the way of faith,
hope and love, must have "the courage to contradict the prevailing
mindset" of agnosticism, which is "extremely intolerant regarding
anything that would question it and the criteria it employs."
However, "this courage or forcefulness does not consist in striking out
or in acting aggressively, but rather in allowing oneself to be struck
and to be steadfast before the principles of the prevalent way of
"We are not provocative; on the contrary we invite all to enter into the
joy of that truth which shows us the way," the pope said.
By defending the Lord's cause, the church inevitably will stir up
opposition, but it also will "constantly gain others to the way of the
Gospel," he said.
The other men the pope ordained were Italian Archbishop Angelo Zani, 62,
the new secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Nigerian
Archbishop Fortunatus Nwachukwu, 52, nuncio to Nicaragua; and French
Archbishop Nicolas Henry Thevenin, 54, nuncio to Guatemala. The nuncios
as the Holy See's ambassadors abroad and serve as liaisons with the
local Catholic communities.
Along with the Sistine Chapel choir, singers from the Palestrina Choir
of St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin, provided music for the Mass.
After Mass, an Italian folklore association sponsored an Epiphany parade
featuring drummers, flag twirlers and men and women in Renaissance
costumes. The parade ended with the arrival on horseback of the Magi in
St. Peter's Square.
In his midday Angelus address to thousands of people in the square, the
pope offered special prayers for Eastern Christians celebrating
Christmas Jan. 7 in accordance with the Julian calendar.
He also tweeted a message from his eight different @Pontifex Twitter
accounts saying, "The Wise Men followed the star and reached Jesus, the
great light that illuminates all of humanity."