Today on the calendar published by the Vatican we find that it is not only the feast day of St. Mary Goretti, it is also the feast “Omnium Sanctorum Romanorum Pontificum… Of all the Holy Roman Pontiffs”. This feast is celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter in the Vatican.
The following is taken from a book probably not on your bookshelf or at your religious goods store … the Proprium Missarum ad usum Sacrosanctae Patriarchalis Basilicae Vaticanae … Proper of Masses for use at the Most Holy Patriarchal Vatican Basilica” for 6 July:
Deus, qui mirabili providentia disposuisti
ut plurimi Summi Pontifices,
fide clari et sollicitudine pleni,
martyres ac doctores
in Ecclesia sancta fierent,
eorum intercessione concede
populum tuum tales habere pastores,
qui ipsorum magisterio obsequentem
ad vitam perducant aeternam.
O God, who by a wondrous providence determined
that in the Holy Church many Supreme Pontiffs,
distinguished for their faith and filled with diligent care,
would become martyrs and teachers,
by their intercession grant
that Your people have the kind of shepherds
who may guide the people, obedient to their Magisterium,
unto life eternal.
The prayer singles out a characteristic of the early Popes, martyrdom, and a characteristic of all the popes: teaching. Often we think in terms of martyrs and confessors, but here we have martyrs and doctors. Doctores here is not being used so much in the technical sense of "Doctor of the Church", but rather in the sense that all the Pontiffs have Christ’s authority to teach as well as to govern and sanctify.
Another point not to be missed is that the Pope is described as a shepherd who leads. Thus, those who are led are like sheep. They must be obedient and not rebellious subjects. Obedience is necessary not only for the good sake of the individual, but also for the collective flock. If an individual sheep leaves the flock, he endangers himself. However, he also endangers others. By straying he constrains the shepherd to leave the "99" and go in search of the one who is lost. Thus, the "99" are exposed to dangers in the absence of the shepherd.
When our shepherds are constantly constrained to deal with the problems created by dissenters, they have less time for the more positive dimension of their ministry.
Always examine your conscience under the light of charity.