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Friday, March 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 25 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received prelates of the Syro-Malankar Church, who have just completed their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.

  "The apostolic traditions which you maintain enjoy their full spiritual fruitfulness when they are lived in union with the Church universal", said the Pope in his English-language remarks. "In this sense, you rightly follow in the footsteps of the Servant of God Mar Ivanios, who led your predecessors and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church. Like your forefathers, you too are called, within the one household of God, to continue in firm fidelity to that which has been passed down to you".

  "The deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles and faithfully transmitted to our times is a precious gift from the Lord", said the Holy Father, noting that "due to its ancient roots and distinguished history, Christianity in India has long made its proper contribution to culture and society, and to its religious and spiritual expressions. It is through a determination to live the Gospel ... that those whom you serve will make a more effective contribution to the entire body of Christ and to Indian society, to the benefit of all. May your people continue to flourish by the preaching of God's word and by the promotion of a fellowship based on the love of God".

  Benedict then turned to consider the challenges facing the prelates in their work, especially the shortage of parish priests. In this context he encouraged them not to lose heart because "small Christian communities have often, as you know, given outstanding witness in the history of the Church. ... It is this divine presence which must remain at the centre of your people's life, faith and witness, and which you their pastors are called to watch over so that, even if they must live far from their community, they will not live far from Christ".

  "One of the ways in which you exercise your role as teachers of the faith to the Christian community", the Pope concluded his remarks to the bishops, "is through catechetical and faith formation programmes. ... Since 'instruction should be based on Holy Scripture, Tradition, liturgy, and on the teaching authority and life of the Church', I am pleased to note the variety and number of programmes that you currently employ. Along with the celebration of the Sacraments, such programmes will help ensure that those in your care will always be able to give an account of the hope which is theirs in Christ".
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