Pope Benedict XVI received a second group of bishops from Colombia on Monday, who are on their ad limina pilgrimage. Welcoming them to Castel Gandolfo, Pope Benedict spoke of the importance of the Ad Limina pilgrimage as a sign of unity between the successor of St. Peter and the pastors of the Universal Church. Emer McCarthy Listen:
In his address to the group, delivered in Spanish, Pope Benedict spoke of the scourge of violence that has plagued the country: “despite some encouraging signs, violence continues to bring pain, loneliness, death and injustice to many brothers and sisters in Colombia. While I recognize and appreciate the pastoral mission, often in places full of difficulties and dangers, that is being done for so many innocent people who are suffering in his beloved nation, I encourage you to continue to contribute to the protection of human life and the culture of peace, drawing inspiration from the example of our Savior and humbly beseeching His grace. Sow the Gospel and reap reconciliation, knowing that wherever Christ comes, He opens the path to agreement, hatred gives way to forgiveness and rivalry becomes brotherhood”.
“Colombia's history”, he said “ is indelibly marked by the deep Catholic faith of its people, their love for the Eucharist, devotion to the Virgin Mary and the witness of charity of noteworthy pastors and laity. The proclamation of the Gospel has borne fruit among you with abundant vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, in the commitment shown for the mission ad gentes, in the emergence of apostolic movements, as well as pastoral vitality of parish communities. Along with this, you yourselves have also noted the devastating effects of increasing secularization, which has a strong impact on livelihoods and upsets the scale of values of people, undermining the very foundations of the Catholic faith, marriage, the family and Christian morality. In this regard, the tireless defense and promotion of the institution of the family remains a pastoral priority for you. So in the midst of these difficulties, I invite to continue your efforts and to proclaim the integral truth about the family, founded on marriage as the domestic Church and a sanctuary of life”.
Pope Benedict also dwelt on the The Global Plan (2012 - 2020) of the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, which aims to promote new evangelization processes that form “missionary disciples, encourage ecclesial communion and impact on society with the Gospel values " (cf. n. 5.1 ). I accompany this objective with my prayer…that the dynamism of interior renewal help your people revitalize their love for the Lord,…instilling in them a firm hope to live their faith responsibly and joyfully and irradiate it in every environment”.
The Holy Father also encouraged the Bishops to be close to the priests, deacons and religious in your care: “Give them the attention they need for their spiritual, intellectual and material life, so they can live their ministry faithfully and fruitfully. And where necessary timely, clear and charitable correction and guidance. But above all, be for them a model of life and dedication to the mission received from Christ. And do not fail to encourage vocations and the initial formation of candidates for Holy Orders or religious life, helping them to discern the truth of God's call, to respond to it with generosity and the right intention. In this regard, it is appropriate that, under the guidance of the Magisterium, you encourage the revision of the content and methods of formation, with the hope that it may respond to the challenges of the present time and the needs and demands of the people of God”.
Finally, Pope Benedict asked the Bishops to pay special attention to young people : “The development of a successful youth ministry is equally important, through which new generations can clearly perceive that Christ seeks and wishes to offer the friendship (cf. Jn 15, 13-15). He gave his life to have abundant life, so the heart is not drawn towards mediocrity or proposals that leave only emptiness and sadness behind. He wants to help those who have the future in their hands to realize their most noble aspirations, so they may bring a fruitful contribution to society, and through this progress on the paths of safeguarding the environment, of orderly progress and real solidarity”.