Pope: Society Must See "Power of Faith"
Bishops of Belarus
Conclude Visit to Rome
VATICAN CITY, (Zenit.org).- In ministering to a society that is
falling away from God, it is imperative for bishops to be
witnesses to the "power of faith," says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this last week upon receiving in audience the
bishops of Belarus, in Rome for their five-yearly "ad limina"
visit. This was the third such visit made by the prelates since
national independence in 1991, the first under Benedict XVI.
"During my meetings with you I appreciated the pastoral zeal
with which you carry out your ministry," the Pope said, before
encouraging the bishops to continue facing the challenges of
being pastors in a secular society.
"It is particularly important to proclaim with a new and
incisive enthusiasm the perennial Gospel message in a society
that is not immune to the temptations of secularization,
hedonism and relativism," the Pontiff affirmed.
He noted that the signs of the effects of secularism include a
"falling birth rate, the fragility of the family and the
illusion of gaining riches beyond the borders of one's
"The urgent mission of pastors before such challenges is to show
the power of faith," the Holy Father said, "a faith rooted in
solid tradition, which will contribute to the perseveration of
the profound Christian identity of the nation, within the
context of respectful dialogue with other cultures and
The Pope also spoke of the importance of education and
catechesis, especially of the youth: "As I noted many times
before, today we are living a type of 'emergency' in this
delicate and essential area, and it is necessary to multiply our
efforts so as to offer a solid formation, first and foremost to
the new generation."
Benedict XVI noted the importance of catechesis that fits the
needs of people in all stages of their lives, and mentioned with
particular attention the need to care for vocations.
"I urge you to pay particular attention to profound spiritual
and theological formation of candidates to priesthood," he said.
"Always stay close to your priests, especially to those who are
about to start their pastoral work," the Pope continued. "An
attentive and sincere paternal care of a bishop is the basis for
successful priestly service."
"Make use of every good occasion to proclaim and spread the
Kingdom of God," Benedict XVI continued, "being witnesses to it
with concrete deeds of brotherhood that engender peace."
The Pope urged the bishops to work with the Belarusian Orthodox
Church, "whose pastors share with you the commitment to seek the
good of believers."
He noted that both the Orthodox and Catholic Churches are both
facing the challenge of finding an adequate response to
modernity, and how to "correctly transmit the Good News of
"Let us accept the invitation aimed at increasing efforts in the
joint progress toward this objective, which was revealed during
the recent Catholic-Orthodox session in Cyprus," the Pope said.
Since the country gained independence in 1991, the Church there
has grown to include an archdiocese, three dioceses and some 450
Before the end of the Cold War, it had no hierarchy: Priests
manned a few Catholic churches, but without a diocese to
congregate them or bishops to guide them.
Today, some 14% of the 10 million inhabitants of this former
Soviet nation are Catholics. There are 440 priests, 270 of whom
are native Belarusians.