Three Australians completed a training course for new bishops in Rome yesterday, including Toowoomba Bishop Robert McGuckin whose predecessor Bishop William Morris was removed by the Holy See in May 2011.
Armidale Bishop Michael Kennedy and Ballarat’s Bishop-elect Paul Bird were also numbered among an estimated 105 men in attendance.
The ten day course (September 11-20) course provided the bishops with practical training for their new role as well as a deeper understanding of the theological underpinning of the office.
The course was run by the Congregation of Bishops, the ecclessial equivalent of a department of the Holy See and the body tasked with vetting and recommending prospective bishops to the Pope for appointment.
“(The course) is regarded as a pilgrimage to the tomb of St Peter for new bishops,” Bishop McGuckin told The Record in Rome last week.
“By being ordained as a bishop you become a member of the order of bishops and (the visit to Rome) is an opportunity for fraternity among the new bishops themselves,” Bishop McGuckin said.
Bishop McGuckin met with newly appointed confreres from as far afield as Eritrea, although he and his two Australian colleagues were the bishops who had journeyed farthest to be there.
Pope Benedict XVI met with the attending bishops yesterday, pointing to the significance of two upcoming events – the Year of Faith (October 11, 2012 – November 24, 2013) and October’s Rome synod on the New Evangelisation.
The bishops’ first concern, the Pope said, was to promote stronger support for the new evangelisation so that the joy of believing and communicating the faith might be rediscovered among the faithful.
“Evangelisation is not the work of a small number of specialists but of the entire People of God under the guidance of their pastors,” the Pope said.
“Each member of the faithful, with and within ecclesial communion, must feel the responsibility to announce and bear witness to the Gospel.”
The Pope urged the bishops to ensure “that everyone, in keeping with their age and condition, be presented with the central contents of the faith, systematically and completely, in order to respond to the questions raised by our technological and globalised world”.
He recommended the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a “vital” and “sure norm for teaching faith and communion”.