VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI underlined the importance of proclaiming the Gospel in an address to a group of bishops from India at the conclusion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.
In his address today, the Holy Father reminded the prelates that "among the more important responsibilities of bishops, the proclamation of the Gospel is pre-eminent."
The Church, the Pontiff stated, "grows by constantly hearing, celebrating and studying that word." He encouraged the bishops to "ensure that the fullness of God's word, which comes to us in the sacred Scriptures and the Church's apostolic tradition, is made readily available to those who seek to deepen their knowledge and love of the Lord and their obedience to his will."
"Every effort should be made to stress that individual and group prayer is, by its very nature, born of, and leads back to, the wellspring of grace found in the Church's sacraments and her entire liturgical life," he added.
Benedict XVI continued: "Nor can it be forgotten that the word of God not only consoles but also challenges believers, as individuals and in community, to advance in justice, reconciliation and peace among themselves and in society as a whole.
"Through your personal encouragement and oversight, may the seeds of God's word presently being sown in your local Churches bear abundant fruit for the salvation of souls and the growth of God's kingdom."
Noting the "impressive signs of the Church's charity in many fields of social activity," the Holy Father urged the bishops to "persevere in this positive and practical witness, in fidelity to the Lord's command and for the sake of the least of our brothers and sisters."
"May Christ's faithful in India continue to assist all those in need in the communities around them, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or social status, out of the conviction that all have been created in God's image and all are due equal respect," he added.
Charity, Benedict XVI continued, "is first experienced by most of us in the family home."
Families, the Pope continued, "are to be examples of that mutual love, respect and support which ought to animate human relations at every level."
"Insofar as they are attentive to prayer, meditate on the Scriptures, and participate fully in the sacramental life of the Church, they will help nourish that "unconditional love" among themselves and in the life of their parishes, and will be a source of great good for the wider community," he added.
In response to some concerns expressed by the bishops regarding the various challenges threatening the family, the Holy Father suggested "a sound catechesis which appeals especially to those preparing for marriage will do much to nourish the faith of Christian families and will assist them in giving a vibrant, living witness to the Church's age-old wisdom regarding marriage, the family, and the responsible use of God's gift of sexuality."
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