Pope Urges Taiwan Bishops to Focus on Catechesis

Says It Sets the Stage for Priestly Vocations

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Good catechesis leads to strong Christian families, and this in turn is fertile soil for priestly vocations, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this today when he received bishops of Taiwan in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

The Holy Father took words from the Church’s liturgy this week: “Comfort, give comfort to my people,” saying that this was a neat summary of his message to the bishops.

“You are never alone! United to the Father through the Son and in the Holy Spirit, you, together with all your brothers in the episcopate, are graced with that ‘affective collegiality’ that strengthens you to preach the Gospel and care for the needs of the Lord’s flock,” he said. “Indeed, your celebration of the 150th anniversary of Catholic evangelization in Taiwan is an occasion to manifest ever more eagerly your oneness with each other and with our Lord as you together promote the Church’s common apostolate.”

The Pontiff praised the Taiwanese prelates’ desire to “cooperate more closely in spreading the Gospel among non-believers and forming those already initiated into the Church through baptism and confirmation.”

Taiwan’s almost 23 million people are mostly Buddhist and Taoist (93%), with only 4.5% of the population being Christian.

Catechists

In this context, Benedict XVI said that priority must be given to the “thorough preparation” of catechists.

“Once again, it is essential to take into consideration the array of settings in which they work and to furnish them with the necessary resources so that they may follow the example of Jesus in speaking the truth straightforwardly and in a way readily accessible to all,” he said. “With their active support, you will be able to draw up well-planned catechetical programs that employ a progressive and gradual methodology, so that from year to year an ever-deepening encounter with the Triune God may be fostered among your people.”

And, he asserted that “effective catechesis inevitably builds stronger families, which in turn give birth to new priestly vocations.”

“The family, as you know, is that ‘first and vital cell’: the prototype for every level of society,” the Pope affirmed. “[…] Founded on an irrevocable covenant, the family leads people to discover goodness, beauty and truth, so that they may perceive their unique destiny and learn how to contribute to the building up of a civilization of love. […] Never tire in promoting just civil legislation and policies that protect the sacredness of marriage. Safeguard this sacrament from all that can harm it, especially the deliberate taking of life in its most vulnerable stages.”

The Holy Father also focused attention on the problems related to migration. He said he was pleased to note that “the Church in Taiwan has been actively advocating laws and policies that protect the human rights of migrants. As you know, many of those who arrive on your shores not only share in the fullness of the Catholic communion, but also carry with them the unique cultural heritage of their respective places of origin. I encourage you to continue welcoming them with affection so that they may receive the assiduous pastoral care that will assure them of their belonging to the ‘family of the faith.'”

China

The Bishop of Rome also encouraged the bishops of Taiwan, in their “pastoral responsibility for the universal Church across the globe,” to have a “loving concern for Catholics on the mainland, whom I constantly hold in prayer.”

“You and the Christian faithful in Taiwan are a living sign that, in a justly ordered society, one need not fear to be a faithful Catholic and a good citizen,” he affirmed. “I pray that as part of the great Chinese Catholic family, you will continue to be spiritually united with your brethren on the mainland.”

Benedict XVI concluded by acknowledging that the Taiwanese bishops sometimes face obstacles that “can seem overwhelming.”

But, he said, “The Lord indeed dwells among us! He continues to teach us by his word and feed us with his body and blood. […] I am confident that your faithful celebration of the Holy Sacrifice will prepare you and your people to meet the Lord when he comes again.”

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24551?l=english

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