Growth of Sects Needs a Pastoral Response, Says John Paul II

Cites Challenge in Address to Latin America Commission

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2003 ( John Paul II says the phenomenon of sects, especially in Latin America, is a symptom of the thirst that people have for the supernatural.

This was the conclusion drawn from the Pope’s address today to the participants in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The panel is presided over by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops.

“Is not the phenomenon of sects, which also in your lands is spreading intermittently from area to area and with accentuated signs of proselytism among socially and culturally weaker people, a concrete sign of an unsatisfied aspiration to the supernatural?” the Pope asked.

“Does it not constitute, for you pastors, a real challenge to renew the style of acceptance within the ecclesial communities and an urgent stimulation to a new and courageous evangelization, which undertakes appropriate forms of catechesis, especially for adults?” he continued.

The Holy Father offered keys “to address with determination the grave and insidious problem of sects[:] … in-depth evangelization; continuous and active presence of pastors, bishops and priests among the faithful; a personal relation of the faithful with Christ.”

In their work of evangelization, John Paul II requested the cardinals, bishops and priests attending the meeting to give special help to “young people, to families, and above all to priestly vocations, which need urgent attention on the part of pastors, with ample synergy, that is, with the cooperation of all, focusing decisively on unity and communion.”

The Holy Father also emphasized the importance of the evangelizing action of men and women religious, as well as of ecclesial movements, so long as they always act in full ecclesial harmony “and in obedience to the directives authorized by the pastors.”

The phenomenon of sects was a key issue discussed at this week’s meeting of the Latin America commission. It also looked at the challenge of evangelization in the context of globalization.

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