X WORLD SYNOD OF BISHOPS
MOST REV. SEÁN BRADY, DCL
ELEVENTH GENERAL CONGREGATION
(MORNING, OCTOBER 8TH 2001)
To be a servant of hope, a bishop must be himself a man of hope. He must find time to contemplate the grounds of hope in his own life, namely the promises of Christ and the presence of the Holy Spirit.
One of the great signs of hope today is the hunger for God and the desire for prayer which so many people experience. To meet that need the Bishop and his chief collaborators, the priests, must reconcile in their own lives being seated at the feet of the Lord, like Mary, and being busy building the Kingdom on earth, like Martha.
Another sign of hope today is the number of people who, in their search for meaning and purpose in life, take up the study of philosophy and of theology. They must be inspired to become dynamic agents of hope in their time, as Jesus was in his.
The willingness of the Church to promote justice and peace is a tremendous sign of hope, especially for the poor and oppressed. The consistent and courageous defence of the dignity of every human person irrespective of health or wealth, race or religion, is an example of how the Bishop offer reasons for hope.
When the Bishop clearly sets forth the teaching of the Church in favour of life in opposition to the culture of death, in favour of marriage and of the family, in favour of peace as opposed to violence, he becomes a beacon of hope to those who suffer in the darkness of despair and discouragement.
We must stand under the Cross with those who grieve and try to console the broken-hearted. At an appropriate time the Bishop will encourage them to let go of their grief and try to persuade them to offer forgiveness and reconciliation. At such times, the presence of the Bishop among his people and his availability to his priests is vitally important. It is a rich source of hope as they struggle to restrain the violent, calm passion and restore peace.
The final sign of hope which I want to mention is the invitation of Pope John Paul contained in Novo millenio ineunte to see the light of the Trinity shine on the face of the Brothers and Sisters around us.
It is in that spirit of appreciation and mutual trust that the question of the relationship between the Universal Church and local Church should be discussed. The ministry of the Bishop of Rome is the visible sign and guarantee of unity. This essential good, as Ut unum sint calls it, must always be seen as a great gift by the particular Church. One gift which the Particular Church is uniquely placed to offer in exchange is its knowledge and experience of conditions in the local situation.