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Friday, September 10, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 10 SEP 2010 (VIS) - The Holy Father today received prelates from the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast region 3), who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  In his address to them, he highlighted how "the evangelising activity of the Catholic Church was and continues to be crucial in determining the identity of the Brazilian people, an identity characterised by harmonious coexistence among people from different regions and cultures. However, although the values of the Catholic faith have moulded the hearts and minds of Brazilians, today we are seeing that new elements in society, practically unknown just a few decades ago, are exercising a growing influence. This has led to many Catholics abandoning Church life and even the Church herself, while in the religious panorama of Brazil we see the rapid expansion of Evangelical and neo-Pentecostal communities".

  "In a certain sense", he told the bishops, "the success of these groups is a sign of a widespread thirst for God among your people. It is also indicative of an evangelisation, at a personal level, which is sometimes superficial. ... In this context it is necessary, first and foremost, for the Catholic Church in Brazil to commit to a new evangelisation which spares no efforts in seeking out lapsed Catholics and people who know little or nothing of the evangelical message, bringing them to a personal encounter with the living person of Jesus Christ Who is active in His Church. Moreover, with the growth of new groups who claim to follow Christ, though divided among various communities and confessions, it is necessary for Catholic pastors to seek compromise and build bridges to establish contact through ecumenical dialogue in truth".

  Benedict XVI highlighted how "the lack of unity is a cause of scandal which, in the final analysis, undermines the credibility of the Christian message proclaimed in society. Today such proclamation is perhaps even more necessary than it was some years ago, because ... intellectual and mortal relativism is having an increasingly negative influence of peoples lives".

  Referring then to the many obstacles impeding the search for unity among Christians, the Pope underlined the need "to reject an erroneous view of ecumenism, one which leads to a certain doctrinal indifference and seeks (in a kind of uncritical irenicism) to level all 'opinions' to a kind of ecclesiological relativism. At the same time the continual increase of new Christian groups, some of which adopt aggressive proselytism, continues to pose a challenge; this shows how the ecumenical panorama continues to be highly diverse and confused".

  The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to continue their efforts "to dialogue with the Churches and ecclesial communities which belong to the National Council of Christian Churches and which, through initiatives such as the Campaign of Ecumenical Fraternity, help to promote Gospel values in Brazilian society".

  "Dialogue among Christians", Pope Benedict went on, "is a current imperative and an indispensable option for the Church. As Vatican Council II said, prayer, conversion and the sanctification of life must lie at the heart of all efforts towards unity".

  Benedict XVI concluded by highlighting how "pastors must remain obedient to the will of the Lord, promoting concrete initiatives free from any kind of conformist reductionism but realised with the sincerity and realism, the patience and perseverance, which flow from the providential action of the Holy Spirit".
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