It is a long document but I have picked out three sections that relate to bishops, priests and laity as provoking some thought for all of us, as members of all three groups referred to are reminded of the enormity of the Christan calling. After a careful reading of each one, my question was, "Who would be a bishop?" "Who would be a priest?" "Who would be a Christian?"
from within. The bishop must be someone in love with Christ. The moral authority and the prestige that uphold the exercise of your juridical power can only come from the holiness of your life.
102. Be one with the Successor of Peter, [it's often the perception that some bishops don't exactly go all out to fulfil this injunction] together with your priests and all the faithful. Do not waste your human and pastoral energies in the vain search for answers to questions which are not of your direct competence, or in the twists and turns of a nationalism that can easily blind. It is easier to follow this idol, or to absolutize African culture, [or the secular "pastoral humanist" agenda, as one friend of mine calls it, referring to humam care without the supernatural element] than to follow the demands of Christ. Such idols are illusions. Even more, they are a temptation, that believing that human efforts alone can bring the kingdom of eternal happiness to earth.
104. Dear brother bishops, following in the footsteps of Christ the Good Shepherd, be good pastors and servants of the flock entrusted to your care, exemplary in life and conduct. The good administration of your dioceses requires your presence. To make your message credible, see to it that your dioceses become models in the conduct of personnel, in transparency and good financial management. Do not hesitate to seek help from experts in auditing, so as to give example to the faithful and to society at large. Promote the good functioning of the ecclesial bodies provided for by Church law on the diocesan and parochial level. To you in the first place belongs the task of seeking unity, justice and peace since you have the responsibility for the local Churches.
108. As close and indispensable co-workers of the bishop, priests are charged with carrying out the work of evangelization. The Second Assembly of the Synod for Africa took place during the year that I dedicated to the priesthood, appealing in a special way for growth in holiness. Dear priests, remember that your witness to living together in peace, over ethnic and racial lines, can touch hearts. The call to holiness bids us become pastors according to the heart of God, feeding our flock with justice (cf. Ez 34:16). To yield to the temptation of becoming political leaders or social agents [a temptation for us in the West as well, as it is so much more acceptable to the world around us] would be to betray your priestly mission and to do a disservice to society, which expects of you prophetic words and deeds. As Saint Cyprian put it in his own day: “Those who bear the honour of the divine priesthood… should lend their ministry only to the service of the altar and give their time to prayer alone”.
111. Build up the Christian communities by your example, living in truth and joy your priestly commitments, celibacy in chastity and detachment from material possessions. When lived in maturity and peace, these signs, so consonant with the lifestyle of Jesus, express “total and exclusive gift of self to Christ, to the Church and to the kingdom of God”. Devote yourselves intensely to putting into practice the diocesan pastoral plan for re-conciliation, justice and peace, especially through the celebration of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist, catechesis, the formation of lay people and ongoing dialogue with those holding positions of responsibility in society. Every priest should feel happy to serve the Church. ["Should"!]
VIII. Lay people
128. Through her lay members, the Church is present and active in the world. Lay people have an important role to play in the Church and in society. To enable them properly to take up this role, it is fitting that centres of biblical, spiritual, liturgical and pastoral formation be organized in the dioceses. It is my heartfelt desire that lay people with responsibility in the political, economic and social fields be equipped with a solid knowledge of the Church’s social doctrine, which can provide them with principles for acting in conformity with the Gospel. Lay men and women, in fact, are “ambassadors of Christ” (2 Cor 5:20) in the public sphere, in the heart of the world! [In all the places the clergy don't get to, among the lapsed in families and in the workplace but we do seem to have lost this aspect that was once so strong and was actually re-iterated by the Second Vatican Council. José Maria Escriva was telling lay people to do this long before the 1960's.] Their Christian witness will be credible only if they are competent and honest professional people.
129. Lay men and women are called, above all, to holiness, a holiness which is to be lived in the world. Dear members of the faithful: cultivate your interior life and your relationship with God, so that the Holy Spirit may enlighten you in all circumstances. In order to ensure that the human person and the common good remain effectively at the centre of all human, political, economic or social activity, deepen your union with Christ, so as to know and love him by devoting time to God in prayer and in the reception of the sacraments. Allow yourselves to be enlightened and instructed by God and by his word.
130. I would like to dwell again on the distinctive feature of a Christian’s professional life. In a word, it means bearing witness to Christ in the world by showing, through your example, that work can be a very positive setting for personal development and not primarily a means of making profit. Your work enables you to participate in the work of creation and to serve your brothers and sisters. Acting in this way, you will be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world”, as the Lord asks of us. In daily life, put into practice the preferential option for the poor, whatever your position in society, in accordance with the spirit of the Beatitudes (cf. Mt 5:3-12), so as to see in them the face of Jesus who calls you to serve him (cf. Mt 25:31-46).
131. It can be helpful for you to form associations in order to continue shaping your Christian conscience and supporting one another in the struggle for justice and peace. [It appears to me that many of the organisations which we have allowed to fall into abeyance as "old-fashioned" did just this - Young Christian Workers, the SVP, theLegion of Mary - all these groups had /have an outward looking dimension whereas now so many groups in the parish are inward looking.] The Small Christian Communities (SCCs) and the “new communities” are fundamental structures for fanning the flame of your Baptism. Bring your areas of competence to the life and activity of the Catholic universities, which continue to grow following the recommendations of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa. I also encourage you to have an active and courageous presence in the areas of political life, culture, the arts, the media and various associations. Do not be hesitant or ashamed about this presence, but be proud of it and conscious of the valuable contribution it can offer to the common good!