Church´s Social Doctrine Vital for Costa Rican Democracy, Pope Says

Tells Country´s Bishops of Pacifying Force of the Gospel

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2001 ( The Church´s social doctrine has had, and must continue to have, a key role in Costa Rica´s democracy, John Paul II said today when he received the country´s bishops in audience.

The meeting took place in the Vatican, at the conclusion of the bishops´ quinquennial «ad limina» visit to Rome.

The Holy Father started off by referring to Bernardo Agusto Thiel, the second bishop of San Jose, who was a pioneer in Christian social doctrine.

To this doctrine is owed «the long democratic tradition of dialogue and tolerance in Costa Rica, a precious legacy that will lead you to renewed confidence in the pacifying force of the Gospel, at a moment of history when this value, indispensable for nations and the whole of the human race, seems to be threatened and almost impossible to attain.»

«This conviction will also help to focus with Christian discernment on the current processes of social coexistence, one of which is the presence in Costa Rica of numerous immigrants from neighboring countries,» the Pope added.

«In Costa Rica, as in other countries, man is living in a dramatic but at the same time fascinating moment,» the Bishop of Rome continued.

«On one hand, a lifestyle seems to be spreading that is based on purely material criteria, which incites to trivial consumerism, which entails so many negative consequences for the dignity of individuals and the common good of society,» the Pope explained.

«On the other, however, one perceives the resurgence of a deep religious spirit, well rooted in the Costa Rican people, and the search for the real face of the Christian faith,» the Pope added.

About 76% of the Central American country´s 3.77 million inhabitants are Catholic.

Christianity «is not a group of propositions that must be accepted and ratified by the mind, but knowledge of Christ experienced personally, a lively remembrance of his commandments, a truth that must be lived,» the Pontiff explained.

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