Christian values in the Dominican Republic continue to “animate coexistence” and can be seen in the country’s endeavors in education, culture and health.
This was affirmed today by Pope Francis when he met with the bishops of the Dominican Republic. The Caribbean prelates are in Rome for their five-yearly “ad Limina Apostolorum” visit.
In his address, the Holy Father noted the strength of faith in the Dominican Republic.
“The beginnings of evangelization in the American Continent always bring to mind the Dominican soil that received in the first place the rich deposit of faith, which the missionaries took with fidelity and proclaimed with constancy,” he said.
“Its effect continues to be perceived today in the Christian values that animate coexistence and in the different social endeavors in favor of education, culture and health.”
Reflecting on marriage and the family, which he said was going through a serious cultural crisis, the Pope encouraged the bishops to present the beauty of Christian marriage as well as to strengthen the work of marital and familial reconciliation.
‘Defend Them From the Wolves’
Regarding the priests on the Caribbean island, Pope Francis called on the bishops to dedicate time to them and “to defend them from the wolves that also attack the pastors.”
“The Dominican clergy is distinguished for its fidelity and coherence of Christian life,” he said. “May your commitment in favor of the weakest and neediest help you to overcome the worldly tendency to mediocrity.”
The Holy Father also focused on seminary formation, calling on them to cultivate “pastoral dedication and an affective maturity.”
Turning his attention to the plight of immigrants, the Pope urged them to care for those who come in search of a better life, particularly those coming in from neighboring Haiti.
“It is inexcusable not to promote initiatives of fraternity and peace between the two nations, which make up that beautiful Island of the Caribbean,” he said. “It is important to be able to integrate the immigrants in the society and to receive them in the ecclesial community.”
The 78-year-old Pontiff also expressed his concerns over various problems facing their nation, including drug and human trafficking, corruption, domestic violence, the abuse and exploitation of minors, as well as social insecurity.
Finally, the Pope encouraged them in the pastoral formation of the laity and youth, so that they may reach the areas where “many times bishops, priests and religious do not reach.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis encouraged them to renew their commitment in caring for the environment before entrusting them to the care of the Virgin Mary.
“Man’s relation with nature must not be governed by greed, manipulation or unbridled exploitation, but it must preserve the divine harmony between the creatures and creation to put them at the service of all and of the future generations,” he said.
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On ZENIT’s webpage:
For the full text of the Pope’s address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/en/articles/pope-francis-address-to-bishops-of-the-dominican-republic