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Pope Urges Parish Priests to Defend Life and Family

Meets With Clergy of Rome Diocese

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI met with parish priests of Rome in a traditional start-of-Lent encounter, and encouraged them to defend life and the family.

Representatives from Rome’s more than 330 parishes took part in the two-hour meeting today with the Pope.

According to Vatican Radio’s report on the audience, the Bishop of Rome emphasized that “it is important to teach family prayer.”

After sharing a priest’s concern over the isolation of families and within families, Benedict XVI confirmed that families need to play an active part in the life of the Church.

In his replies to the parish priests, the Pope highlighted the importance of Eucharistic adoration, which must always be encouraged, he said.

Referring to the encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” he directed words of encouragement to those who are committed to the poor and the sick as witnesses of Christian love.

According to Italian news agencies, the Holy Father also replied to a priest’s question about the role of women in the Church.

“The priesthood is a sacrament, not a power of which the Church can dispose at her pleasure,” he reportedly answered. “But new realms and roles might open for women in the Church.”

Father Santoro

Both the Pontiff as well as Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar for Rome, recalled the testimony of Christian love left by Father Andrea Santoro, a missionary priest from the diocese who was slain in Turkey on Feb. 5.

According to Vatican Radio, the Pope emphasized that during Lent we must remember that “a world devoid of God, which has forgotten God, loses its life and falls into a culture of death.”

This danger, he continued, was already indicated by Pope John Paul II in the encyclical “Evangelium Vitae.” By giving our life, we find it, Benedict XVI added. This is the “ultimate meaning of the cross.”

The ANSA agency noted that the Pope also spoke of Africa: “We owe it the transmission of a joyful and lively faith.”

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