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Sunday, September 25, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 24 SEP 2011 (VIS) - At 6.1.5 p.m. today in the main hall of the Seminary of Freiburg im Breisgau the Holy Father met with council members of the Central Committee for German Catholics. The committee was founded in 1952 to support the apostolic work of the Catholic Church.

The Holy Father focused on the "exposure programmes" promoted by the committee whereby, for a certain period, experts in various sectors share the daily lives of poor people in developing countries "in order to see the world through their eyes and hence to learn how to practise solidarity. ... Let us imagine", the Pope said, "that an exposure programme of this kind were to take place here in Germany. Experts from a far country would ... find much to admire here, for example the prosperity, the order and the efficiency. But looking on with unprejudiced eyes, they would also see plenty of poverty: poverty in human relations and poverty in the religious sphere.

"We live at a time that is broadly characterised by a subliminal relativism that penetrates every area of life", he added. "Sometimes this relativism becomes aggressive, when it opposes those who claim to know where the truth or meaning of life is to be found. And we observe that this relativism exerts more and more influence on human relationships and on society. ... Many no longer seem capable of any form of self-denial or of making a sacrifice for others. Even the altruistic commitment to the common good, in the social and cultural sphere or on behalf of the needy, is in decline. Others are now quite incapable of committing themselves unreservedly to a single partner".

"We see that in our affluent western world much is lacking. Many people lack experience of God's goodness. They no longer find any point of contact with the mainstream Churches and their traditional structures. But why is this? I think this is a question on which we must reflect very seriously. Addressing it is the principal task of the Pontifical Council for the New Evangelisation. But naturally it is something that concerns us all".

In this context the Holy Father noted that "the Church in Germany is superbly organised". However, he asked, "behind the structures, is there also a corresponding spiritual strength, the strength of faith in a living God? We must honestly admit that we have more than enough by way of structure but not enough by way of Spirit. I would add: the real crisis facing the Church in the western world is a crisis of faith. If we do not find a way of genuinely renewing our faith, all structural reform will remain ineffective".

"We are called to seek new paths of evangelisation. Small communities could be one such path, where friendships are lived and deepened in regular communal adoration before God", Benedict XVI suggested. "There we find people who speak of these small faith experiences at their workplace and within their circle of family and friends, and in so doing bear witness to a new closeness between Church and society".

Following the meeting, the Holy Father moved on to the fairgrounds of Freiburg im Breisgau to preside at a prayer vigil with young people.
PV-GERMANY/ VIS 20110925 (550)

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