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Monday, April 7, 2008


VATICAN CITY, 7 APR 2008 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates from the Antilles Episcopal Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

  Addressing the bishops in English, the Holy Father reminded them how "your shores have been battered by negative aspects of the entertainment industry, exploitative tourism and the scourge of the arms and drugs trade; influences which not only undermine family life and unsettle the foundations of traditional cultural values, but tend to affect negatively local politics".

  Benedict XVI went on to encourage the prelates: "Be audacious witnesses to the light of Christ, which gives families direction and purpose, and be bold preachers of the power of the Gospel, which must permeate their way of thinking, standards of judgement, and norms of behaviour".

  "Pastoral renewal is an indispensable task for each of your dioceses", said the Holy Father, highlighting the vital importance of "the tireless promotion of vocations together with the guidance and ongoing formation of priests. ... Your solicitude for the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral formation of your seminarians and priests is a sure expression of your care and concern for the constant deepening of their pastoral commitment". He encouraged the prelates to support the Saint John Vianney and Ugandan Martyrs Seminary, and noted how "the establishment of a Francophone seminary in the region is a welcome sign of hope".

  "Your pastoral concern for the decline in religious vocations exemplifies your deep appreciation of consecrated life. I too appeal to your religious communities, encouraging them to reaffirm their calling with confidence and, guided by the Holy Spirit, to propose afresh to young people the ideal of consecration and mission".

  Concluding his remarks in French, the Pope noted that each of the bishops "feels the great responsibility to do everything possible to support marriage and family life, which is the primary source of cohesion in communities and hence of vital importance in the eyes of the government authorities. In this perspective, the great network of Catholic schools throughout your region can make a great contribution. Values rooted in the way of truth presented by Christ illuminate the spirit and heart of young people and encourage them to continue along the path of faithfulness, responsibility and real freedom. Good young Christians make good citizens".
AL/.../ANTILLES                            VIS 20080407 (390)

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