By Peter J. Smith

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin, January 5, 2010 ( – Catholics and Christians in the pro-life movement may often find themselves asking what role their bishops should exercise in their communities as shepherds. At his installation Mass yesterday in Milwaukee, Catholic Archbishop Jerome Listecki gave faithful Christians an answer, saying that the bishop's main responsibility is “governing, teaching, and sanctifying” the local church community, and that the faithful also have a share in this responsibility.

Listecki was officially installed as Archbishop of Milwaukee on January 4, 2010 by Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Papal Nuncio to the United States, although he had already been exercising pastoral care of his new episcopal territory as Archbishop-designate wasting no time to rebuke the dissident “Young Catholics for Choice” for distorting Catholic teaching on contraception and abortion. (see coverage )

In his homily  at St. John the Evangelist Cathedral in Milwaukee, Listecki chose to illustrate the character of the bishop's office by referring to scripture, specifically the exchange between Jesus and the apostle Peter in the Gospel of John, where Christ's thrice-said entreaty “Do you love me?” is followed by the command to feed his “sheep” and “lambs.”

“Today the three repetitions of the Lord's question might easily address the three responsibilities of Episcopal office—governing, teaching and sanctifying,” said Listecki.”

The Archbishop insisted that the teaching of the Church – especially on life and family – is essential to the formation of faithful Christians, since it “is the truth of the teaching that maintains our right relationship with Jesus.”

“Our teaching on the dignity of the human person embraces life from the moment of conception to natural death. It reflects the love of life entrusted to us.”

The sacredness of human life reflects the “Image of God” and Listecki proclaimed, “It is this very life for which Christ came into the world, to suffer, die and rise. In our social principles our care for the poor and neglected is mandated out of a love of neighbor grounded in the love of God.”

“In our protection of marriage and family life an environment is created for the responsible transmission of the faith.”

Listecki admitted that “adherence to the Church's teaching is not always easy,” but nevertheless “one must sacrifice for the truth. In this sacrifice we demonstrate our love.”

He pointed out that the Western world applauded when Pope John Paul II condemned the evils of communism, but found it too hard when John Paul also condemned the “destructiveness of radical individualism, consumerism, materialism and relativism.”

“Given our situation today perhaps we should have paid more attention,” mused Listecki.

“The truth is at times difficult but the Church does not follow the Lord's request to tend his sheep if it fails to teach the truth with love.”

The new Archbishop of Milwaukee said that while “governing, teaching, and sanctifying” are the marks of the bishop's office, these burdens are not born alone by the bishop. The lay faithful also participate in a degree in all these roles: through unity with the local bishop who is their link to the universal Church guided by Peter's successor in Rome; by “faithfulness in reflecting the mind and the heart of our Church that represents the singular voice of Christ to our community and the world;” by living and teaching others “truth in charity;” and pursuing the “common vocation to holiness” through personal prayer and sacramental communion with the Church.

Listecki concluded his homily saying, “Let us together by feeding and tending to His Church answer the question that the Lord poses: 'Do you love me more than these?' 'Yes, Lord you know that we do.'”

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