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Saturday, March 21, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 20 MAR 2009 (VIS) - At 7 p.m. today at the apostolic nunciature in Luanda, the Pope met with bishops of Angola and Sao Tome.

  "God will reward you", he told the prelates, "for all the apostolic work which you have accomplished in difficult conditions, both during the war and at the present time, in spite of so many limitations, thus helping to give the Church in Angola and in Sao Tome and Principe that dynamism which everyone acknowledges".

  Referring then to the challenges they have to face, he recalled the fact that, "as a corrective to a widespread relativism which acknowledges nothing as definitive and, even more, tends to make its ultimate measure the individual and his personal caprice, we hold out another measure: the Son of God, Who is also true man. Christ is the measure of true humanism. The Christian marked by an adult and mature faith is not one who is borne along by the waves of fashion and the latest novelties, but one who lives deeply rooted in the friendship of Christ. This friendship opens us up to all that is good, and it provides us with the criterion for discerning between error and truth".

  "Culture and models of behaviour are nowadays more and more conditioned and shaped by the images set forth by the communications media. For this reason, I wish to acknowledge your praiseworthy efforts to develop, in this area too, a communications strategy which will enable you to provide everyone with a Christian interpretation of human events, problems and realities".

  The Holy Father dwelt upon the "difficulties and threats" facing families, which "are particularly in need of evangelisation and practical support, since, in addition to the fragility and lack of inner stability of so many conjugal unions, there is the widespread tendency in society and culture to call into question the unique nature and specific mission of the family based on marriage.

  "In your pastoral concern which extends to every human being", he added, "continue to raise your voice in defence of the sacredness of human life and the value of the institution of marriage, as well as in promotion of the family's proper role in the Church and in society, at the same time demanding economic and legislative measures to support the family in bearing and raising children".

  The Pope spoke of his joy "that your nations have so many vibrant communities of faith, a committed laity devoted to many works of the apostolate, and a significant number of vocations to the ordained ministry and the consecrated life, especially the contemplative life. They represent a genuine sign of hope for the future", he said.

  Noting that the clergy is becoming "increasingly indigenous", he praised "the work which has been patiently and heroically carried out by the missionaries in proclaiming Christ and His Gospel and in giving birth to the Christian communities for which you today are responsible".

  Pope Benedict urged the prelates "to be deeply concerned for your priests, attentive to their continuing formation on both the theological and spiritual levels, and alert to the conditions in which they live and exercise their specific mission, so that they can be authentic witnesses of the Word they proclaim and the Sacraments they celebrate.

  "In the gift of themselves to Christ and to the people whom they shepherd, may they remain faithful to the demands of their state of life, and live out their priestly ministry as a true path to holiness, striving to become saints and in this way to raise up new saints all around them".

  At the end of the meeting, Benedict XVI dined with the bishops of Angola and Sao Tome, and his entourage.
PV-ANGOLA/MEETING BISHOPS/LUANDA            VIS 20090321 (630)

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