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Monday, March 15, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 13 MAR 2010 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, the Holy Father received prelates of the Sudan Catholic Bishops' Conference at the end of their "ad limina" visit. "Your fidelity to the Lord and the fruits of your labours amid difficulties and sufferings bear eloquent witness to the power of the Cross which shines through our human limitations and weakness" he told them, beginning his English-language address.

"I know how much you and the faithful of your country long for peace", he added, "and how patiently you are working for its restoration. Anchored in your faith and hope in Christ the Prince of Peace, may you always find in the Gospel the principles needed to shape your preaching and teaching, your judgements and actions.

"Inspired by those principles, and echoing the just aspirations of the entire Catholic community, you have spoken out with one voice in rejecting 'any return to war' and in appealing for the establishment of peace at every level of national life", noted the Holy Father, likewise highlighting how, if peace is to triumph, "efforts must be made to diminish the factors contributing to unrest, particularly corruption, ethnic tensions, indifference and selfishness. Initiatives in this regard will surely prove fruitful if they are based on integrity, a sense of universal brotherhood and the virtues of justice, responsibility and charity", he said.

Benedict XVI then called on the prelates to draw inspiration from the recent Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops "as you continue to preach reconciliation and forgiveness. The effects of violence may take many years to heal, yet the change of heart which is the indispensable condition for a just and lasting peace must even now be implored as a gift of God's grace".

The Pope went on: "As heralds of the Gospel, you have sought to instil in your people and in society a sense of responsibility towards present and future generations, encouraging forgiveness, mutual acceptance and respect for commitments taken. You have likewise worked to advance fundamental human rights through the rule of law and have called for the application of an integral model of economic and human development. I appreciate all that the Church in your country is doing to assist poor people to live in dignity and self-respect, to help them find long-term work and to enable them to make their proper contribution to society".

The Holy Father then turned to consider the bishops' relations with their priests, in which context he told them "you yourselves must be the first teachers and witnesses of our communion in faith and the love of Christ, sharing common initiatives, listening to your collaborators, helping priests, religious and faithful to accept and support one another as brothers and sisters, without distinction of race or ethnic group, in a generous exchange of gifts".

Finally Pope Benedict expressed his appreciation to the bishops for their efforts "to maintain good relations with the followers of Islam. As you work to promote co-operation in practical initiatives, I would encourage you to stress the values that Christians share in common with Muslims as the basis for that 'dialogue of life' which is an essential first step towards genuine inter-religious respect and understanding. The same openness and love should be shown to people belonging to the traditional religions".
AL/.../SUDAN VIS 20100315 (560)

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