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Monday, September 10, 2012


Vatican City,  (VIS) - "The history of Colombia is indelibly marked by the profound Catholic faith of its its people, by their love for the Eucharist, their devotion to the Virgin Mary and the witness of charity of outstanding pastors and lay people. The announcement of the Gospel has produced fruit among you", said the Holy Father to a second group of prelates from the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit

Yet the Pope also noted how, in their reports, the bishops had drawn attention to "the devastating effects of increasing secularisation, which is affecting people's lifestyles and upsetting their scale of values, undermining the very foundation of Catholic faith, of marriage, the family and Christian morals". In this context, "tireless defence and promotion of the institution of the family continues to be a pastoral priority for you", he said. "Therefore, amidst the difficulties, I invite you not to lessen your efforts but to continue to proclaim the integral truth about the family, founded on marriage as a domestic Church and a shrine of life".

Benedict XVI then turned to focus on the Episcopal Conference of Colombia's Global Plan (2012-2020) and its overall objective of "promoting the processes of new evangelisation in order to form missionary disciples, encourage ecclesial communion and modify society on the basis of Gospel values. ... I accompany this intention with my prayers, asking God that, in putting it into effect, ministers of the Church may never cease to identify themselves with the sentiments of Christ, the Good Shepherd, going out to meet all people ... so as to offer them the light of His Word. Thus the dynamism of interior renewal will lead your compatriots to revitalise their love for the Lord, a source capable of infusing steadfast hope to live the faith responsibly and joyfully, and irradiate it on all sides".

The Pope went on to invite the bishops to consecrate "your best ministry to the priests, deacons and religious under your care, ... helping them to discern the truth of God's call that they may respond thereto with generosity and right intention. In this context, it would be appropriate for you, following to guidance of the Magisterium, to favour a revision of the content and methodology of their formation, seeking to ensure that it responds to the challenges of the present time and the urgent needs and requirements of the People of God".

Notwithstanding a number of hopeful signs, "violence continues to bring suffering, solitude, death and injustice to many of our brothers and sisters in Colombia", said the Holy Father. and he expressed his appreciation for "the pastoral mission which, often in places beset with difficulties and dangers, is being carried out in support of so many people who are unjustly suffering in your beloved nation". Finally he exhorted the episcopate to continue "to defend human life and cultivate peace, drawing inspiration from the example of our Saviour and humbly entreating His grace. Sow the Gospel and you will reap reconciliation, knowing that, wherever Christ reaches, harmony opens a way. hatred gives place to forgiveness and rivalry is transformed into fraternity".

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