CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 9, 2004 (Zenit.org).- In the face of a growing “culture of death,” John Paul II encouraged the Schoenstatt International Movement in its efforts to defend life and the family.
“Responsibility for society and understanding of social relations based on the spirit of Christianity is growing in your movement,” the Pope said today when receiving some 2,000 pilgrims of this new ecclesial reality in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.
The pilgrims were on hand for the inauguration of the Omnia Matri Ecclesiae Shrine of Belmonte, near Rome, and of Schoenstatt’s International Center in the city, which took place Wednesday.
“I have always tried to inspire in the Church this responsibility before the world” to stand up for life, the Holy Father said. “Because of this, I would like to reinforce you in this commitment, which can be assumed in many ways.”
“Also included among these is the concrete defense of life before the threat of a culture of death that is spreading increasingly, as demonstrated in a terrible way by abortion. In this connection, all the faithful are invited to sketch ‘luminous signs’ of which the world is in constant need,” the Pope said in his German-language address.
The Pontiff thanked the head of the movement’s General Presidency, Father Heinrich Walter, and said that “Schoenstatt’s efforts are directed in particular to the family, as the fundamental cell of the Church, culture and society.”
“Following your founder’s advice,” he said in reference to Father Joseph Kentenich (1885-1968), the Holy Father invited the pilgrims to “reserve for the cross and for Mary’s image a place of honor in your homes,” making them “shrines of the Church,” in which “Mary acts as mother and teacher.”
“Our Church needs to revitalize religious life and the apostolic endeavor,” the Pope said, adding that in “this commitment are united the many ecclesial communities and numerous spiritual movements that the Spirit of the Lord has given rise to at the dawn of the third millennium.”
“They are a response of Providence to the numerous challenges of our time,” he said.
On Wednesday, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope’s vicar for Rome and the president of the Italian episcopal conference, attended the inauguration and blessed the Omnia Matri Ecclesiae Shrine in the presence of 3,000 people.
Schoenstatt’s members also participated in a prayer vigil in the Vatican Gardens on Tuesday.