Pope: Give God to the World That's Forgotten Him Urges Italian Bishops to Make Education a Priority
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2009 (www.Zenit.org
).- Benedict XVI is telling Italian bishops that their biggest challenge today is "presenting God again" to a world that has forgotten about him.
The Pope affirmed this in a message to the prelates, who have gathered in Assisi for their 60th general assembly. The papal statement, made public today, was directed to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the episcopal conference.
The Holy Father took up two main themes: the educational crisis and the ongoing Year for Priests, relating both of them to the new evangelization.
Regarding education, the Pontiff classified it as a challenge that "concerns all sectors of the Church and means that the great questions of the modern age must be faced with decision: the question concerning the nature of man and his dignity -- a decisive element in the complete formation of the person -- and the 'question of God' which seems ever more pressing in our own times."
Taking up his exhortation from last July in Aosta, Italy, he continued: "If our fundamental relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form. [...] If we do without God, if God is absent, we lack the compass [...] to show us the path, the direction we must follow.
"God! We must bring the truth of God back into the world, make him known, make him present," the Holy Father declared.
And he urged the Italian bishops to "place the formation of new generations at the center of the attention and efforts of each one, according to each person's respective responsibilities."
"Education is a constitutive and permanent need in the life of the Church," the Pope affirmed.
Linked to the question of education, Benedict XVI highlighted the need to reinvigorate priestly ministry, saying, "In order for this to happen we [...] first and foremost and with all our being, must become living adoration, a gift that changes the world and restores it to God."
"This is the profound message of the Year for Priests," he added, "which is an extraordinary occasion to go the heart of the ordained ministry, redirecting toward a unity, in each priest, [his] identity and mission."
He recalled that the history of Italy "is also the history of a countless number of priests who bent over the wounds of a lost and suffering humanity, making of themselves an offering of salvation."
"I hope that you will be able to glean abundant fruits from this common prayer and meditation on the gift of the priesthood, flowing from the heart of Christ for the salvation of the world," the Pontiff added.
Benedict XVI also mentioned the new Italian edition of the funeral rites.
"The funeral is an important moment in which to announce the Gospel of hope and to reveal the maternity of the Church," he said.
In a world that shuns the idea of death, or that reduces it to a spectacle or transforms it into a "right," the Pope observed that "it is the task of believers to shine the light of Christian revelation on that mystery."