ROME, MAY 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- With relativism and nihilism influencing culture, one of the Church’s principal contributions should be bearing witness to trust in life and in the human person, his reason and his capacity to love, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this Thursday when he received participants in the general assembly of the Italian episcopal conference, who were gathered in their general assembly that ended today.
Taking up a theme he has previously discussed with the Italian bishops, the Holy Father considered elements of the “educational emergency.” The theme of the bishops’ assembly also centered on this issue.
“At a time in which relativistic and nihilistic concepts of life exercise a powerful enticement, a time in which the very legitimacy of education is placed in doubt, the principal contribution we can make is that of bearing witness to our trust in life and in man, in his reason and in his capacity to love,” he said.
“The difficulty in forming authentic Christians interweaves and melds with the difficulty of creating responsible and mature men and women,” he added, according to the Vatican Information Service.
And, the Bishop of Rome contended, in order to shape a process of overall development, there needs to be at the core of educational projects “an awareness of truth and goodness, and free adherence to these values.”
Moreover, there is a need not only for good curricula but also for authoritative educators, the Pontiff asserted.
“A true educator places himself in the front line and knows how to unite authority and exemplarity in the task of educating those entrusted to his care. We ourselves are aware of this, having been given the role of guides among the People of God, guides whom the Apostle Peter invites to tend God’s sheep and to ‘be examples to the flock,” he noted.
The Pope then referred to the forthcoming Year for Priests, recalling how priestly ministry “is a service to the Church and to Christian people, requiring a profound spirituality […] nourished by prayer and by intense personal union with the Lord, in order to be able to serve our brothers and sisters through preaching, the sacraments, orderly community life and help for the poor. All priestly ministry reveals […] the importance of commitment to education, so that people may grow freely and responsibly as mature and conscientious Christians.”
Benedict XVI went on to consider the economic crisis that “has hit the global community so hard. […] Despite the measures taken at various levels, the social effects of the crisis are still being felt, and seriously felt, especially by the weakest strata of society and by families”
The Pope mentioned the fact that collections raised at Mass next Sunday will be used for the “Loan of Hope” initiative, a program for families affected by the crisis, which he described as “an eloquent testimony of the mutual sharing of burdens, […] a moving announcement of the interior conversion generated by the Gospel and a touching expression of ecclesial communion.”
Finally, the Holy Father considered a particular form of ecclesiastical charity in Italy: “intellectual” charity, of which “one significant example is the commitment to promote a widespread mentality in support of life in its every aspect and moment, with particular concern for lives marked by conditions of fragility and precariousness.”
“Thus,” the Pontiff concluded, “our minds return to the central theme of your assembly — the urgent task of education — which must be rooted in the Word of God and requires spiritual discernment, cultural and social programs, and gratuitous and united witness.”