VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI believes that the secret of the “new evangelization” lies in collaboration among bishops, priests, religious and laity.
The Holy Father expressed this view Saturday when receiving the second group of Polish bishops on their five-yearly visit, who were introduced by Archbishop Stanislaw Dziwisz of Krakow, the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II.
Benedict XVI dedicated his lengthy address to describe how the new evangelization should take place, which was the most ambitious objective of John Paul II’s pontificate.
To illustrate his proposals, Benedict XVI based himself on one of his predecessor’s most personal writings, his book “Rise, Let Us Be on Our Way,” in which the Polish Pontiff recounted his experience as bishop of Krakow.
Reflecting on the protagonists of this new evangelization, Benedict XVI began by addressing the mission of bishops.
“By his way of living the bishop shows that ‘the model of Christ’ is not surpassed; also in the present conditions it continues to be very timely,” said the Pope. “It can be said that a diocese reflects its bishop’s way of being.
“His virtues — chastity, the practice of poverty, the spirit of prayer, simplicity, the delicacy of conscience — are engraved in a certain sense on the hearts of priests.”
“They, in turn, transmit these values to their faithful and so young men feel attracted to respond generously to Christ’s call,” he asserted quoting John Paul II.
Benedict XVI also mentioned the very important role that diocesan priests must have in the new evangelization, the reason why it is important to pay “particular attention to the quality of formation in the seminary.”
“It is necessary to keep in mind not only the intellectual preparation of future priests for their future tasks, but also their spiritual and emotional formation,” he stressed.
In this connection, the Holy Father asked the bishops to take into account the dispositions of the recent Vatican document, “Concerning the Criteria for the Discernment of Vocations with Regard to Persons with Homosexual Tendencies in View of Their Admission to the Seminary and to Holy Orders.”
The Pope continued: “In the case of a vocational crisis, to which priests may fall prey, the bishop should do everything possible to support them and give back to them the original drive and love for Christ and the Church. Even if a warning is necessary, paternal love must not be lacking.”
In addition, Benedict XVI highlighted the role to be played by religious — “a great richness of the Church” — in the new evangelization.
“The bishop can and must encourage them to integrate themselves in the diocesan program of evangelization and to assume the pastoral tasks, according to their charism, in collaboration with the priests and with the lay communities,” he clarified.
In particular, the Pope exhorted diocesan pastors to seek ways to overcome the crisis of vocations in women’s congregations and to support the contemplative orders.
Finally, the Holy Father acknowledged that in the midst of the “silent apostasy” that is verified in some societies, the laity has an “irreplaceable” task, “as it takes place in daily life, in ambits which the priests can only reach with difficulty.”
“Participation in public and political life is a specific task of the laity,” he reminded, assuring that “one and all have the right and duty to participate in politics.”
“The Church does not identify with any party, with any political community, or any political system,” the Pontiff said. “Rather, she always reminds that lay people involved in political life must give a courageous and visible witness of Christian values, which must be affirmed and defended in case they are threatened.”
The laity must carry out this task “publicly either in debates of a political nature or in the media,” he explained.
For political action to be effective, it must be based on “the love of truth and the spirit of service and solidarity in the commitment for the common good,” explained the Pope.
The Pontiff’s meeting with the prelates was particularly eloquent because of the words spoken by Archbishop Dziwisz in memory of John Paul II.
Anxious for a visit
After thanking the Holy Father for having “shortened the time for the beginning of the process of beatification,” Archbishop Dziwisz assured Benedict XVI that the Polish people “are anxious to receive him.”
“All await your visit to our country, a visit to the Church that loves you and supports you with constant prayer,” the archbishop of Krakow said.
In Benedict XVI’s first television interview, broadcast by a Polish channel on Oct. 16, he said that this trip might take place next June.