BANSKA BYSTRICA, Slovakia, SEPT. 12, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The future of the Church in Slovakia depends on youth deciding to follow God in religious and priestly life, John Paul II said in a message to the nation’s bishops.
The papal text mentions the 10th anniversary of the Slovakian episcopal conference. It was made public at the luncheon the Pope attended today with the bishops in Banska Bystrica’s seminary, on the second day of his stay in the country.
In his message, the Holy Father said: “The urgent task of promoting a new flowering of priestly and religious vocations is to be undertaken. In fact, the future of the Church in Slovakia depends on this.”
“The Church of God in Slovakia, after the dark days of persecution and silence, during which it offered a shining witness of faithfulness to the Gospel, has been able in these last years to take up again its activities and to provide itself with those structures that are necessary for the free exercise of its mission,” the Pope continued.
“The results we are seeing are comforting. Many people have rediscovered the evangelic courage to declare openly their Catholic faith,” he added.
He continued: “Human and spiritual formation, together with an adequate cultural preparation, must be the object of special concern in seminaries and religious houses so as to offer to the Church and to the world priests and consecrated persons who can be humble and ardent apostles of the Gospel.”
The Holy Father asked the bishops to take special care of the family, “the temple of love and life. Proclaim and defend the unity and indissolubility of marriage.”
“Take care of the weak and the poor,” he urged. “With pastoral solicitude, be close to the unemployed. Take upon yourselves their difficult situation and encourage all areas of society to seek possible ways to create new jobs.”