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Monday, May 23, 2005


VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2005 (VIS) - Pope Benedict welcomed eight bishops from Rwanda this morning as they end their "ad limina" visit to Rome and, in his address in French, asked them to greet their communities on his behalf and to "exhort priests and the faithful, harshly tried by the 1994 genocide and its consequences, to remain strong in the faith and to persevere in the hope given by the Risen Christ, while overcoming every temptation to discouragement."

  "To work actively for peace and reconciliation," said the Pope, "you are notably promoting a pastoral ministry of closeness, based on the commitment of small communities of lay people to the missionary work of the Church, in harmony with her pastors. I encourage you to support these communities so that the faithful welcome the truths of the faith and its demands, thus developing a stronger ecclesial and spiritual life, so that they do not allow themselves to be turned away from the Gospel of Christ, notably by the numerous sects present in the country."

  The Holy Father urged the prelates "to work ceaselessly so that the Gospel penetrates ever more deeply into the hearts and lives of believers, inviting the faithful to assume their responsibilities in society, especially in the fields of economy and politics, with a moral sense nourished by the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine."

  Benedict XVI, noting that the clergy is Rwanda is becoming native-born, said, "I would like to honor the patient work done by missionaries to proclaim Christ and His Gospel, and to have created the Christian communities entrusted to you today." He exhorted the bishops to be close to their priests, attentive to their ongoing formation and "to their conditions of life and the exercise of their mission." May your priests, he concluded "remain faithful to the demands of their state and live their priesthood as a true path of holiness!"
AL/.../RWANDA                            VIS 20050523 (320)

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