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Wednesday, May 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 27 MAY 2009 (VIS) - Yesterday evening in the basilica of St. John Lateran, cathedral of Rome, Benedict XVI inaugurated the ecclesial congress of the diocese of Rome. The congress, which is due to last until 29 May, has as its theme: "Church membership and pastoral co-responsibility".

On his arrival the Holy Father was welcomed by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, papal vicar general for the diocese of Rome. In his address, the Pope called on ecclesial moments to work in harmony with the diocese, with "a true sense of belonging to the Church", and highlighted the need for a redoubling of commitment on the part of lay people, who are called "not merely to be collaborators of the clergy" but to shoulder their own specific responsibilities in the life of the Church.

He then dwelt on various erroneous tendencies such as that of tending to identify the Church with her hierarchy while forgetting that, in fact, everyone is part of her "from the Pope to the most recently baptised", or that of conceiving of the People of God in sociological and political terms, while overlooking the novelty of the Church.

In this context, Benedict XVI spoke of the good fruits of Vatican Council II, and rejected those forms of interpretation that consider the Council as a break in the continuity of Church tradition.

The Pope invited young people "to experience the beauty of being Church" in a world where individualism reigns and a sense of belonging is being lost. He also suggested the creation of missionary groups in the workplace, where many people spend most of their time, and highlighted the need for "adequate pastoral care on environment issues".

Recalling then how many baptised people do not feel they form part of the ecclesial community and that few lay people, though they call themselves Catholic, are ready to work in the various fields of pastoral activity, the Holy Father encouraged pastors to favour a climate of spiritual and apostolic growth in their flock and to reach out to the population of Rome.

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