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Official Portrait

Welcoming Bishop
Michael C. Barber, SJ

California a large
influence in Barber
family history

Journey to Oakland

Decree appointing
Bishop Barber

Your new bishop,
my brother, Michael,
'did time' at
San Quentin

Welcome to this
local church

Homily for the
ordination of the fifth
bishop of Oakland

Reflection: Lessons remembered, and
lived: Be merciful
and pure of heart

Getting around

'A ministry
of service,
of availability and
of vulnerability'

Bishop, and a
naval officer

A pair of
Navy chaplains

Bishop Barber's
photo album

A lifetime of
spiritual influences
formed Bishop
Barber's path

First classroom visit:
St. Agnes School,
fourth grade

Sister Mary Jude,
a teacher who made
a difference

A hello in their
native language

Why people
came out

Description of
Bishop Barber's
personal coat of arms, episcopal symbols

Parts of a bishop's
coat of arms

high school boys paths intersect
during careers

Bishops of the
Diocese of Oakland

Bishop selection
process is thorough,
strictly confidential

What the Church teaches about

New focus on
Jesuits' role within
the church

What the pope
is looking for
in new bishops

What you might
not know about
Bishop Barber

The bishop at the
cathedral, 2008

By the numbers:
Michael C. Barber, SJ

In This Issue:

Rev. John Paul

placeholder July 15, 2013   •   VOL. 51, NO. 13   •   Oakland, CA
What the pope is looking for in new bishops

Pope Francis smiles as he arrives to lead his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican June 26.
Paul Haring/cns

VATICAN CITY — Tracing the characteristics he wants to see in candidates to serve as bishops, Pope Francis said they must be "pastors who are close to their people, fathers and brothers, who are meek, patient and merciful."

A good prospective bishop will "love interior poverty as freedom for the Lord" and live that externally with a simple lifestyle, and he won't have the "mindset of a prince," the pope said June 21 during a meeting with nuncios and apostolic delegates.

The 108 papal representatives to nations and international organizations, along with 40 retired nuncios, were making a two-day Year of Faith pilgrimage to the Vatican and were scheduled to dine under the stars that evening with Pope Francis in the Vatican gardens.

The majority of the Vatican diplomats are nuncios or apostolic delegates to one or more countries; Pope Francis said one of the most important tasks they have is studying the needs of vacant dioceses and helping him find appropriate candidates for the ministry.

"It's a delicate task," the pope said. "Beware of those who are ambitious, who seek the episcopacy."

Pope Francis, a member of the Society of Jesus, was elected March 13. He appointed a fellow Jesuit, Michael C. Barber, bishop of Oakland on May 3.

Pope Francis said the best priest to choose as bishop or the best bishop to choose to head a larger diocese or archdiocese is one who is wed to his diocese, "the spouse of one church, who is not constantly seeking another."

"I will comment (more) about this when it's not being recorded," the pope told the nuncios, who laughed.

Candidates must be real pastors and shepherds, he said, able to watch over their flock, keep them united, protect them from danger and, especially, nourish their hope, "sustaining with love and patience the plans that God is working within his people."

"Shepherds need to be in front of their flocks to indicate the path, in the midst of the flock to keep them united, behind the flock to make sure none is left behind," the pope said.

Telling the nuncios and representatives that he wrote his speech himself after much thought and prayer, Pope Francis said he knows their ministries mean they often are nomads. "I've often thought, 'these poor men,'" they not only leave their homelands, but serve for a few years in one country, then are moved to another.

The one thing they must never leave behind, he said, is their faith in Jesus and their love for the Church.

"There is always the danger, including for churchmen, to give into what — borrowing an expression from (the late Jesuit Cardinal Henri) De Lubac — I call 'spiritual worldliness': giving into the spirit of the world which leads to acting for one's self-realization and not for the glory of God," he said.

If a nuncio is not always drawing on the strength of the Lord and not always focused on Christ and his Gospel, "he risks turning a holy mission into something ridiculous," the pope said. "I know 'ridiculous' is a strong word, but it's true. Giving into the spirit of the world makes pastors, especially, ridiculous. We might gain some applause, but those same people who appear to approve of us will criticize us behind our backs."

Even though they don't have a parish or a diocese, nuncios and other Vatican diplomats are called to be pastors, the pope said. "Always seek the good, the good of all, the good of the church and each person."

But along with prayer and works of charity, nuncios must work with a high level of diplomatic professionalism. "This is kind of like your hairshirt, your penance," he said.

As a gift, Pope Francis gave each of the nuncios a commemorative silver pectoral cross made for the occasion.

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