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Monday, March 20, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 18, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy Father received prelates from the National Episcopal Conference of Cameroon, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit:

  Speaking to the bishops in French, the Pope encouraged them "to ensure that the Gospel penetrates deeply into your cultures and traditions - so marked by a wealth of human, spiritual and moral values - purifying those cultures, through the necessary conversion, from everything that opposes the fullness of truth."

  After highlighting how the unfavorable economic and social situation "weakens social ties and entails the loss of a series of traditional values such as the family, care for children and young people, and respect for the elderly," the Holy Father referred to other current challenges such as "the assault of sects and the havoc wrought by AIDS." In the face of such problems, he said, "precise theological and pastoral responses must be offered, in order to profoundly evangelize the hearts of human beings and awaken their consciences."

  Benedict XVI expressed the hope that "inspired preaching" associated with "rigorous initial and permanent formation by catechists," may give rise to "a new drive to sanctity in your communities."

  "I am pleased at the increase in numbers of seminarians and priests," the Pope continued, "and I give thanks for the patient work of missionaries that preceded it. ... The search for unity in the service of the mission invites you to safeguard ties of fraternal communion with priests." The Holy Father then invited all priests to meditate "upon the requirements of pastoral charity, and especially upon the need for a chaste life lived in celibacy in accordance with the law of the Church, the just exercise of authority and a healthy relationship with material goods."

  The Pope went on to recall how in their reports the bishops had referred to the challenges facing the family. In this context, he called on them to promote "a form of pastoral care of the family that offers young people a rigorous ... moral education, and prepares them to experience conjugal love in a responsible way, which is a necessary condition for the stability of the family and of all society."

  In closing, Benedict XVI spoke to the bishops of the need to consolidate "fraternal relations with other Christian confessions and with believers from other religions, in order to show the love of Christ the Savior, Who aroused in mankind the desire to live in peace and to form a people of brothers and sisters."

  "Church of Cameroon," he exclaimed, "in your region of Central African so torn by wars, be an ever more tangible sign of peace, ... the peace that overcomes the temptation to take refuge in national or ethnic identity, that excludes the temptation to vengeance or resentment, and that establishes new relations between human beings, relations founded on justice and on peace!"
AL/.../CAMEROON                                VIS 20060320 (490)

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