30-November-2012 -- EWTNews Feature |

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Pope asks French bishops to mobilize for spiritual renewal

Pope Benedict XVI on Friday told Catholic bishops from France that they should find hope in the spiritual wealth of their country's past and look to mobilize religious renewal and combat religious ignorance in the present.

"The Church in France is part of a long line of saints, doctors, martyrs and confessors of the faith. You are the heirs of a great human experience and immense spiritual wealth," Pope Benedict said. He mentioned the early history of Christianity in France and its saints like St. Irenaeus, St. Vincent of Lerins, and St. Francis de Sales.

The bishops who participated in the Nov. 30 meeting were the third and final group of French bishops this year to visit Rome for an ad limina visit

While the Pope told them the origins of French Christianity can nourish "great hope," he also lamented "religious ignorance" among both Catholics and non-Catholics as "one of the most serious problems of our time."

"There is an urgent need to mobilize all available energies, so that young people can listen to the voice of the Lord," he said. He added that Christian families and communities are at the "heart" of any evangelistic initiative, even in a culture of "relativism and hedonism." In modern times, Pope Benedict said, there is a "double ignorance" both about the person of Jesus Christ and about the "sublimity of his teachings, their universal and permanent value in the quest for the meaning of life and happiness."

This ignorance creates new generations unable to understand the history of the Christian tradition that has shaped European culture, he said.

He criticized indifference to the decline in vocations and in ordinations, but also noted the possibility of renewal.

"Signs of vitality and commitment of the laity in French society are already an encouraging reality," he said. "The love of the truth that shines is itself an evangelizer."

The Pope said the New Evangelization will be effective if it engages both communities and parishes in depth.

He voiced appreciation for the work of the laity, calling them "the face of the world in the Church and at the same time the face of the Church in the world."

The "admirable task" of Catholic education made possible by the "tireless dedication" of teachers, priests, vowed religious and laity was also singled out by the Pope for praise.

Teachers, he said, should "enable young people to assimilate the human and Christian values to strive for the search and love of truth and beauty."

Citing the Second Vatican Council's document "Lumen Gentium," he said the Holy Spirit rejuvenates the Church and constantly renews her.

Pope Benedict said the initiatives of the Year of Faith should encourage the "rediscovery and renewal of joyful testimony of the faith" and to share "what is most dear to Christians:" Jesus Christ.

"The example of our Divine Master is always the foundation of all our thinking and our actions," the Pope told the French bishops. "Prayer and action, these are the ways that our Savior asks us to use again and again."

Read more: http://www.ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/Vatican.php?id=6640#ixzz2E29GDJla

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