Ubi Primum: On the Duties of Bishops

The Papal Encyclicals

An encyclical, as defined in the Introduction, “is a document in the form of a letter sent by the Pope to the bishops of the entire world…directed to the whole Christian people… as a means of insuring unity within the Church.”

This particular encyclical was written by Pope Benedict XIV (Prospero Lambertini), who reigned from 1740-1758. It was written on 3 Dec 1740.

He begins with shepherd/sheep imagery. I like him already! 🙂

The importance of clergy is to be examples for the faithful. Quality rather than quantity of priests is to be preferred.

Seminaries – train them in piety, integrity and discipline, visit them, expand them, create them where necessary, prepare good laborers for the harvest, invest in them.

Selecting clerics – “Entrust the care of souls to exemplary men.” These men should teach the basic information needed for salvation, divine law, and Catholic dogma. They should teach children the faith (here he’s talking about equipping the faithful). They need time for rest and spiritual exercise, i.e. a retreat annually. It’s comforting to know that this basic task of our priests hasn’t changed. And it’s a good reminder to our bishop, who often and increasingly in these time of priest shortage ask so much of our beloved pastors, that these good men need rest as well. We can’t expect them to run the race in a dead sprint all of the time and be able to finish strong. They need to recharge so that they can continue to fight the fight and to lead us all to greater holiness.

Necessity of Residency – You can’t be a good shepherd if you don’t live among the sheep. Being away from your diocese for 3 months out of the year is too much time away. The people should hear the voice of the bishop even over the voice of the priests, as special grace is given to the bishop by the Holy Spirit. Because of this particular grace, you should not rely solely on the priests for the formation of the flock.

Visitation – Visit your churches, get to know your flock personally, visit every part of the diocese so that nothing will be hidden. Be diligent and attentive to the entire area in which your flock resides. If you find things wrong, not only make recommendations to fix them, but follow through and see that it is done. I think this is a good quality for any leader to remember. If you are personally involved, not only will people not shirk on that which they are supposed to be doing, but they will also grow to trust you, because they will see by your behavior that you are invested in them and truly care about their well-being.

Exhortation – Be the primary teacher, celebrate Mass frequently and solemnly, and may all imitate you as you imitate Christ. Do all this; God will be with you and the Holy See has got your back

After reading encyclical #1… This pope is awesome! I love him! 🙂 I can’t wait to read the rest of his encyclicals! 🙂

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