Standing Up to Secularization May Require Heroism, Says Pope

Warns That Societies Are in Danger of Agnosticism

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2004 ( John Paul II says that Catholics’ response to the present process of secularization requires consistency to the point of heroism.

«In our times, secularism advances, threatening to lead societies of former evangelization to forms of agnosticism that constitute a real challenge for believers,» the Pope states in a message sent to Bishop Salvatore Boccaccio of Frosinone, on the 17th centenary of the death of St. Ambrose, co-patron of the diocese.

«In this context, the testimony of those who, out of fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel, have not hesitated to give their lives, acquires extraordinary eloquence,» the Holy Father writes. «With their example, they encourage Christians to a courageous consistency» to the point of «heroism.»

«Only those who are capable of following him to the end are able to place themselves without reservations at the service of man, the first and fundamental way of the mission of believers in the world,» he explains.

After discussing some of the priorities of apostolic commitment today — «peace, youth, the family, poverty, immigrants» — John Paul II invites the faithful to evangelize «giving concrete witness of the love of God for every human being.»

«In the face of every person, without distinction of race or culture, and especially in the poorest and most needy of men, Christians recognize the luminous face of Christ,» he continues.

«This is possible if we keep ourselves well anchored in prayer, if we nourish ourselves with the Eucharist and with the Word of God, if we renew ourselves constantly in the sacrament of reconciliation,» the Pope explains.

«The real priority for the baptized person consists in seeking holiness,» the message adds. «Without a profound renewal of faith and holiness and without constant divine support, how could the ecclesial community face the great challenge of the new evangelization?»

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