During a U.S. bishops' ad limina visit June 6, 1998, Pope John Paul II stressed the importance of each bishop's role in the teaching of the Catholic faith in his diocese (See stories, Page 14).
In an ecclesiology of communion, the Church's hierarchical structure is not a matter of power but of service, completely ordered to the holiness of Christ's members.
The Marian dimension of the Church is prior to the Petrine or hierarchical dimension, as well as being supreme and pre-eminent, richer in personal and communitarian implications for the various ecclesial vocations. If I mention these well-known truths, it is because everywhere in the Church, and not least in your country, we see the spread of a fresh and invigorating lay spirituality and the magnificent fruits of the laity's greater involvement in the Church's life.
As we approach the third Christian millennium it is of paramount importance that the Pope and the bishops, fully conscious of their own special ministry of service in the Mystical Body of Christ, continue to stir and promote a deeper awareness among all the faithful of the gift and responsibility they share, both in association and as individuals, in the communion and mission of the Church.