Bishop of Rome Speaks With Diocesan Priests

Sparks Impromptu Dialogue in Basilica

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2005 ( Benedict XVI engaged in an impromptu dialogue with the priests of his diocese, sharing with them some of his primary concerns: the proclamation of Christ and the situation of Africa.

After an address the Holy Father delivered today in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, in which he announced the dispensation of the five-year waiting period to begin the cause of John Paul II’s beatification, a group of 20 parish priests began asking questions.

The priests broached various topics, ranging from the need to stress that Christ is the center of ecclesial and parish life, to the situation of divorced persons, to the ecumenical and missionary commitment of the Church.

In responding, specifically, to the question of missionary commitment, the Holy Father highlighted the present situation in Africa.

«Africa is a continent of very great possibilities, of very great generosity on the part of its people, with a lively and impressive faith, but we must admit that Europe has exported, unfortunately, not only faith in Christ, but also vices,» said the Pope.

In the dialogue, transmitted by Vatican Radio, the Pope continued: «It has exported the sense of corruption; it has exported the violence that is now devastating Africa. There is the arms trade, and the abuse of the treasures of this earth. We Christians must do everything possible so that with faith the strength will be there to resist these vices.»

Then, amid applause, the Holy Father reaffirmed the need to proclaim Christ.

«If we have found the Lord, if for me the Lord is the light and joy of my life, if it is so, then we are sure that whoever has not found Christ is lacking something essential. We have the duty to this essential reality to each person,» he said.

«Then we leave what follows to the Holy Spirit and to the freedom of each one. But, if we are convinced that we have the experience that without Christ life is incomplete, that it is lacking a reality, the fundamental reality, then we will also be convinced that we are doing no harm to any one if we show them Christ, and if we offer them the possibility to have the joy of having found life,» he concluded.

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