From the decree on the pastoral office of bishops in the Church of the Second Vatican Council
|Ready for every good work|
In exercising their duty of teaching, bishops are to proclaim the Gospel of Christ before men, a task that stands out among their principal duties. In the strength of the Spirit they are to call men to faith, or confirm them in a living faith. They are to set before them the mystery of Christ in its entirety, that is, those truths which are necessary in order to know Christ, as well as the divinely revealed way of glorifying God and so attaining to eternal happiness.
Moreover, they are to make it clear that earthly realities and human institutions are themselves directed, in the plan of God the creator, toward man’s salvation, and are thus able to make no small contribution to the building up of the body of Christ.
They should therefore insist on the value placed by the Church’s teaching on the human person, his freedom and also his physical life; on the family, its unity and stability, and the procreation and education of children; on civil society, with its laws and its professions; on work and leisure, the arts and technological developments; on poverty and affluence. They should also set forth the principles for resolving the very serious problems relating to the possession, increase and proper distribution of material goods, to peace and war, and to friendly relations among all peoples.
They should present Christian teaching in a way appropriate to the needs of the times, that is, in a way that meets the difficulties and problems that people today find a special burden and source of anxiety. They should also safeguard this teaching, instructing the faithful how to defend it and propagate it themselves. In handing on this teaching they should manifest the Church’s motherly concern for all, believers and unbelievers alike. They should show a special solicitude for the poor and less fortunate, to whom the Lord has sent them to preach the good news.
In discharging their duty as father and shepherd, bishops should be among their people as those who serve, good shepherds who know their sheep and whose sheep know them. They should be outstanding in their spirit of love and concern for all, true fathers whose God-given authority all obey with joyful heart. They should unite and mold the entire family of their flock so that all are made aware of their responsibilities and are able to live and work in loving communion with each other.
To do this effectively, bishops should order their lives in keeping with the needs of the times, and so be ready for every good work, enduring all for the sake of God’s chosen ones.