Pontiff Asking for More Prayerful Bishops

Says Contact With God Is Key for Serving Faithful

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is asking the bishops of Chile to cultivate «intense interior life and profound faith» as prerequisites for responding to the spiritual needs of the faithful.

The Pope made this invitation today when he addressed the South American prelates who are in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

«In intimate contact with the Master in prayer,» he told them, «the best pastoral initiatives to respond to the spiritual needs of the faithful are brought to maturity.»

This life of prayer is even more necessary, the Holy Father added, faced with the challenge of evangelization that was launched by the 5th General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, which the Pontiff opened near the shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil in May 2007.

In fact, he continued, in this «great evangelizing undertaking,» the «personal testimony of holiness […] of all members of the Church, and especially her pastors,» is fundamental.

«You well know,» Benedict XVI said, «that the man of today feels an urgent need of truly evangelical and coherent role models.»

He added, «Certainly there are multiple difficulties and obstacles, but sustained by the promise of Our Lord, who assures us of his presence among us every day until the end of the world, and by the power of his Holy Spirit, with eagerness and enthusiasm, we can jump into the great task of bringing Christ to all men with the same ardor of the apostles.»

In this endeavor, a «missionary awareness» must permeate the entire Christian community, and especially, the Pope emphasized, the formation of priests and seminarians is key.

The Holy Father invited the bishops to be very close to their priests and to help them «in the midst of the multiple activities that fill their days, to know how to give primacy to prayer and the celebration of the Eucharist.»

He also urged the bishops to improve the quality of human, intellectual and spiritual formation of priests, as well as to «maximize the vocational dimension of Christian life in ministry with youth.»

«Every sector of society can be enlightened with the light of faith,» the Pontiff affirmed. «I am thinking, among other things, of the world of culture, of science and politics, of the promotion of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, in the creation of more just working conditions and in aid to the most underprivileged, in care of the environment, in the defense of human life in all of the stages of its existence, and in parents’ right and obligation in the moral and spiritual education of their children.»

Finally, the Holy Father asked the bishops to «cultivate a spirit of communion with the Roman Pontiff and with their brother bishops, above all within the episcopal conference and the ecclesiastical province.»

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