Pope Lauds Welcome of Immigrants Given by Church in US

Notes ‘Immense Promise,’ ‘Vibrant Energies’ of a New Generation of Catholics

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By Ann Schneible

VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI today greeted the final group of United States bishops to come to Rome for their ad limina visits, praising the bishops for the welcome immigrants find in the Church in the U.S..

Bishops and archbishops from Region XV hail from the Eastern Rite eparchies and archeparchies throughout the United States, having been given their own Ad limina visit separate from their Latin Rite brothers.

«I am particularly pleased,» said Pope Benedict, «that this, our final meeting, takes place in the presence of the Bishops of the various Eastern Churches present in the United States, since you and your faithful embody in a unique way the ethnic, cultural and spiritual richness of the American Catholic community, past and present.»

«Historically, the Church in America has struggled to recognize and incorporate this diversity, and has succeeded, not without difficulty, in forging a communion in Christ and in the apostolic faith which mirrors the catholicity which is an indefectible mark of the Church.»

The Holy Father praised their efforts to respond to the phenomena of immigration with compassion, taking into account the many complexities that society faces as a result. «The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families… It is thus of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defense of the human dignity of immigrants.»

«The immense promise and the vibrant energies of a new generation of Catholics are waiting to be tapped for the renewal of the Church’s life and the rebuilding of the fabric of American society,” he added.

Dignity of consecrated life

The Pontiff also spoke about the need to strengthen the rapport of friendship and trust between bishops and their priests, and offered encouragement for those many consecrated sisters who have given their all in service. «The urgent need in our own time,» he explained, «for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel makes it essential to recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life, to pray for religious vocations and to promote them actively, while strengthening existing channels for communication and cooperation, especially through the work of the Vicar or Delegate for Religious in each Diocese.»

As the Church approaches the Year of Faith in October, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic community in American will «awaken a desire… to reappropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith,” the Pope said.

This Year of Faith, however, comes at a time when progressive ideologies threaten to overturn many of the Christian values in society. «The truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated and defended,” he affirmed, “but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfillment and to the welfare of society as a whole.»

Concluding his speech to the bishops and archbishops of Region XV, the Holy Father thanked God «for the signs of new vitality and hope with which he has blessed the Church in the United States of America. At the same time,» he continued, «I ask him to confirm you and your Brother Bishops in your delicate mission of guiding the Catholic community in your country in the ways of unity, truth and charity as it faces the challenges of the future.»

«With great affection I commend you, and the clergy, religious and lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.»

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Full text: http://www.zenit.org/article-34803?l=english

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