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Monday, September 19, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 19 SEP 2011 (VIS) - "As part of its ancient and rich heritage, India has a long and distinguished Christian presence which has contributed to Indian society and benefited your culture in innumerable ways, enriching the lives of countless fellow citizens, not just those who are Catholic", said the Pope this morning receiving a sixth group of prelates from the Conference of Catholic Bishops of India who are currently completing their "ad limina" visit. The group included bishops from the provinces of Agra, New Delhi and Bhopal, as well as from the apostolic vicariate of Nepal.

"The Church in India proclaims its faith and love to society at large, and puts these into action through a concern for all people, in every aspect of their spiritual and material lives. ... In particular, the Catholic Church is the friend of the poor. Like Christ, she welcomes without exception all who approach her to hear the divine message of peace, hope and salvation. Moreover, in obedience to the Lord, she continues to do so without regard for 'tribe and tongue and people and nation', for in Christ, we 'are one body'. It is thus imperative that the clergy, religious and catechists in your dioceses be attentive to the diverse linguistic, cultural and economic circumstances of those whom they serve.

Continuing his English-language remarks the Pope told the prelates: "You, dear brothers, must take into account the challenges that the missionary nature of the Church entails, you must always be prepared to spread the Kingdom of God and to walk in the footsteps of Christ, Who was Himself misunderstood, despised, falsely accused and Who suffered for the sake of truth. Do not be deterred when such trials arise in your own ministry, and in that of your priests and religious. Our belief in the certainty of Christ's Resurrection gives us confidence and courage to face all that may come and to press forward, building the Kingdom of God".

The Holy Father then went on to recall how local Churches in India have recently commemorated the twenty-fifth anniversary of John Paul II's first apostolic visit to the country. "During those memorable days, he had several notable encounters with leaders of other religious traditions. Manifesting his personal respect for his interlocutors, this blessed Pope gave an authentic witness to the value of inter-religious dialogue".

"I encourage you, dear brothers, to carry forward the Church's efforts to promote the well-being of Indian society through continued attention to the promotion of basic rights - rights shared by all humanity - and by inviting your fellow Christians and the followers of other religious traditions to take up the challenge of affirming the dignity of each and every human person. ... I pray that the followers of Christ in India will continue to be promoters of justice, bearers of peace, people of respectful dialogue, and lovers of the truth about God and about man".
AL/ VIS 20110919 (500)

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