Pope Encourages Pious Traditions

Urges Bolivian Bishops to Make Them Into Convictions

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- As Bolivia goes through difficult political situations, Benedict XVI is encouraging the nation’s bishops to foster the popular pious traditions characteristic of the nation.

The Pope made that recommendation today when he received the South American bishops for their five-yearly visit.

The Holy Father acknowledged that the bishops are faced with “difficult circumstances” that affect the county “and that in these moments seem to intensify even more.” He urged them to stay “very close to Bolivians,” so as to “maintain hope, enliven faith, nourish unity, encourage reconciliation and safeguard peace.”

He also referred to the “signs of a weakening in Christian life due to factors of various origins, a growing incoherence between the faith being professed and the patterns of personal and social life, or the superficial formation that leaves the baptized exposed to the influence of dazzling, but empty, promises.”

In this context, the Bishop of Rome encouraged his brothers to promote “popular devotion — this precious treasure accumulated during centuries thanks to the work of audacious missionaries, and maintained with an intimate fidelity by generations of Bolivian families.”

This devotion is “a gift that should certainly be protected and promoted today, as I know you are doing with effort and dedication, but which requires a constant effort so that the value of signs penetrates into the depths of hearts, is constantly enlightened by the Word of God and becomes firm convictions of faith.”

The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to continue promoting education, noting that the Church in Bolivia has various educational institutions, “which need to count on the attention of their pastors so that they maintain and are respected in their unique identity.” He also spoke of the need for a “systematic catechesis, broad and penetrating, which teaches the Catholic faith clearly and integrally.”

Benedict XVI particularly entrusted the bishops with promoting knowledge of Scripture among the faithful: “May faithful proclamation, listening and meditation of Scripture always be at the forefront, since there the People of God finds its reason for existing, its vocation and identity.

“From docile listening to the divine Word, love for neighbors is born, and with it, disinterested service to one’s brothers, an element that has a very relevant role in the pastoral work of Bolivia, given the situation of poverty, marginalization or abandonment of a good part of the population.”

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