VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Secularism is now affecting the patrimony of Christian values that Communism couldn’t destroy, Benedict XVI told the bishops of Slovakia.
The Pope said this today in his message to the prelates from the formerly Communist country, in Rome for their five-yearly visit.
With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Holy Father said that Slovakia “is entering more fully, from the religious-cultural point of view, into the common dynamics of other European countries of ancient Christian tradition, which, nowadays, are heavily influenced by a widespread process of secularization.”
“Those Christian communities which preserved their ancient and well-rooted Catholic religious practices, after coming out of the tunnel of persecution,” continued the Pontiff, “now run the risk of seeing the patrimony that Communism couldn’t destroy, seriously affected by phenomena typical of the Western societies: consumerism, hedonism, secularism, relativism, etc.”
Regarding the reality of family life, Benedict XVI said: “I have been informed that in Slovakia, too, the crisis of marriage and birthrates is also beginning to be felt.”
This crisis, the Pope said, has “in the first place causes of an economic nature which lead couples to delay their marriages.”
The Pontiff continued: “There is also less social regard for the value of marriage. To this we add the fragility of younger generations that are frequently afraid of making lasting decisions and assuming lifelong commitments.
“Another destabilizing factor is, without doubt, the systematic attack on marriage and family which takes place in certain cultural environments and the media.”
The Holy Father asked: “In light of this, should not the Church intensify her prayer and continue to commit herself decisively to helping families face present-day challenges?”
Benedict XVI encouraged the development of a “well-structured sacramental pastoral plan linked to the family: marriage, baptism of children, first Communion and confirmation, with mandatory preparation.”
Regarding the help that bishops and priests offer families, the Pope concluded by calling to mind the “valuable support” that is offered by “groups, movements, and lay ecclesial associations committed primarily to the promotion of marriage and family, and to spreading the teachings of the Church regarding marriage, family, sexual morality, and bioethical issues.”
Slovakia has a population of 5.5 million inhabitants, of which close to 75% are Catholic.