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Sunday, September 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 26 SEP 2009 (VIS) - At 6 p.m. today the Pope presided at the celebration of Vespers with bishops, priests, religious, seminarians and members of lay movements in Prague's cathedral of St. Vitus, St. Wenceslas and St. Adalbert.

  "Love for Christ and for one's fellow men and women must be the hallmark of every Christian and every community", said the Holy Father, and in this context he encouraged those present to "nourish your love for Christ by prayer and listening to His word; feed on Him in the Eucharist, and by His grace, be builders of unity and peace wherever you go".

  He went on: "Twenty years ago, after the long winter of Communist dictatorship, your Christian communities began once more to express themselves freely. ... Yet you are well aware that even today it is not easy to live and bear witness to the Gospel. Society continues to suffer from the wounds caused by atheist ideology, and it is often seduced by the modern mentality of hedonistic consumerism amid a dangerous crisis of human and religious values and a growing drift towards ethical and cultural relativism. In this context there is an urgent need for renewed effort throughout the Church so as to strengthen spiritual and moral values in present-day society".

  "Your pastoral activity in the field of educating new generations should be undertaken with particular zeal. Catholic schools should foster respect for the human person; attention should also be given to the pastoral care of young people outside the school environment, without neglecting other groups of the faithful. Christ is for everyone! I sincerely hope that there will be a growing accord with other institutions, both public and private. It is always worth repeating that the Church does not seek privileges, but only to be able to work freely in the service of all, in the spirit of the Gospel".

  The Pope told bishops and priests: "it is your task to work tirelessly for the good of those entrusted to your care". To consecrated people he pointed out that, "by professing the evangelical counsels, you recall the primacy that each of us must give to God in our lives. By living in community, you bear witness to the enrichment that comes from practising the commandment of love".

  Finally the Pope turned to young people in seminaries or houses of formation. "Be sure", he told them, "to acquire a solid cultural, spiritual and pastoral preparation". And he concluded: "In this Year of Priests, with which I chose to mark the 150th anniversary of the death of the 'Cure of Ars', may you learn from the example of this pastor who was completely dedicated to God and to the care of souls; he was well aware that it was his ministry, nourished by prayer, that constituted his path to sanctification".

  Following the celebration, the Holy Father travelled to the apostolic nunciature where he spent the night.
PV-CZECH REP./VESPERS/PRAGUE                        VIS 20090927 (500)

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