INTROD, Italy, JULY 29, 2005 ( Addressing the widespread religious indifference that exists in Western societies is not easy, but the Church "must go forward," says Benedict XVI.

The Pope made these spontaneous comments at a closed-door question and answer session on Monday with 140 priests, religious and deacons of the Diocese of Val d'Aosta, who met in the church of Introd, near Les Combes, where the Holy Father spent his summer holidays.

"It seems that people don't need us," he said in Italian, saying that in today's society, "all we do seems useless."

"The Pope is not an oracle; he is infallible in very rare situations, as we know. Therefore, I share with you these questions, these problems. I also suffer," he said in his address, transcribed and published by the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

"All of us together want, on one hand, to suffer with these problems and, through suffering, transform the problems, because suffering is precisely the way of transformation, and without suffering nothing is transformed," he said.


"This is also the meaning of the parable of the grain of wheat that fell on the earth: Only through a process of tormented transformation does one obtain the fruit and see the solution," he said.

"And if the apparent inefficacy of our preaching is not a suffering for us, it would be a sign of a lack of faith, of a lack of genuine commitment," stated the Bishop of Rome.

"We must take these difficulties of our time seriously and transform them by suffering with Christ, and so transform ourselves," he said.

"And in the measure that we ourselves are transformed, we can also answer the question articulated earlier; we can see the presence of the kingdom of God and make others see it," he stated.

In face of "the so-called great Churches," which seem to be "dying, especially in Australia, but also in Europe, not so much in the United States," the Holy Father said that he does not believe in "a recipe for a rapid change."

"We must go forward, go through the tunnel with patience, with the certainty that Christ is the answer and that in the end his light will appear again."


Benedict XVI continued: "Without reference to the true God, man destroys himself. We see it with our own eyes.

"In all this suffering, not only must we not lose the certainty that Christ is really the face of God, but in addition we must deepen this certainty and the joy of knowing it and of really being, therefore, ministers of the world's future, of the future of every man."

"And we must deepen this certainty in a personal and profound relationship with the Lord," he said.

The Holy Father urged those present to "find the imagination to help young people" know Christ.