Vatican City, 14 February 2014 (VIS) – Today, on the feast of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, Pope Francis received in audience the prelates of the Czech Bishops' Conference at the end of their “ad limina” visit. In the text of the address he handed to them, he writes that to enable the faithful to know Jesus Christ well, it is necessary “to increase appropriate pastoral initiatives dedicated towards a solid preparation for the Sacraments and active participation in the liturgy. Commitment to religious education for a qualified presence in the world of schools and culture is also necessary. On your part, there must be a vigilant and courageous openness to new impulses from the Holy Spirit, Whose charisms are widespread and render the lay faithful available to assume responsibilities and ministries, useful for the renewal and growth of the Church”.
The Pope goes on to state that, to face contemporary challenges and new matters of pastoral urgency, there is a need for synergy between clergy, religious and lay faithful. He also repeats that “while for a long period the Church in your country was oppressed by regimes based on ideologies contrary to human dignity and freedom, today you must face other more insidious difficulties, such as secularism and relativism. It is therefore necessary, alongside the tireless proclamation of Gospel values, to engage in constructive dialogue with all, even with those who are far from any religious feeling”.
The Holy Father emphasises that the bishops must “persevere in prayer, generous in serving your people, full of zeal in the proclamation of the Word. It is your task to follow your priests with paternal affection: they are your principal collaborators, and their parochial mission requires stability to favour a climate of truth and serenity in the people”. He urges them to “promote the pastoral vocation in an increasingly organic and capillary fashion, and in particular to encourage the young in the search for meaning and in giving to God and to their brothers. May you turn your attention also to the pastoral of the family”, he added, “as the family is the cornerstone of social life and only by working in favour of families may we renew the fabric of the ecclesial community and of civil society itself”.
The Pope mentions the importance of unity and solidarity between bishops, as well as their communion with Peter's Successor. “This fraternal union is equally indispensable for the effectiveness of the work of your Episcopal Conference, and can give you ever greater authority in your relations with the civil authorities of the country, both in ordinary life and in facing the most delicate problems”. In relation to economic matters, the Pope mentions that “material goods are destined exclusively to the spiritual mission of the Church, to ensure that every ecclesial situation there are the necessary means and freedom for pastoral activity. It is necessary to pay close attention to guarantee that ecclesiastical assets are administered with caution and transparency, so that they are protected and preserved, also with the help of trusted and competent lay faithful”.