Pope Benedict praised the Church in Zimbabwe during his meeting yesterday with prelates from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops' Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. In his address, the Pope recalled the recent elections in the country, which "have laid the basis for what I trust will be a new beginning in the process of national reconciliation and the moral rebuilding of society." On this subject, he thanked the bishops for the "significant contribution to the electoral process" they offered "to the Catholic faithful and to all your fellow-citizens" with the joint pastoral statement they published last year. "As you rightly noted, ... responsibility for the common good demands that all members of the body politic work together in laying firm moral and spiritual foundations for the future of the nation." Benedict XVI told the African prelates that in their preaching and teaching "the faithful should be able to hear the voice of the Lord Himself, a voice that speaks with authority of what is right and true, of peace and justice, of love and reconciliation, a voice that can console them in the midst of their troubles and show them the way forward in hope." Despite current difficulties, the Holy Father went on, "the Church in Zimbabwe can rejoice in the presence of so many communities vibrant in faith, a significant number of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, and the presence of a committed laity devoted to various works of the apostolate. These gifts of God's grace are at once a consolation and a challenge to an ever more profound and integrated catechesis aimed at training the faithful to live fully their Christian vocation." After encouraging the prelates "to work together to ensure suitable and comprehensive catechetical preparation for all the faithful," the Holy Father stressed the need to help priests "present the fullness of the Catholic faith in a way which truly addresses and responds to people's difficulties, questions and problems." The Pope also referred to the importance of supporting national seminaries "in their challenging task of providing seminarians with an adequate human, spiritual, doctrinal and pastoral formation; while the younger clergy would greatly benefit, in the first years of their priestly ministry, from a program of spiritual, pastoral and human accompaniment guided by experienced and exemplary priests." Benedict XVI concluded by stressing that the bishops' "concern for sound catechesis and an integral religious education must also extend to the system of Catholic schools, whose religious identity needs to be strengthened, for the good not only of their students, but of the entire Catholic community in your country." Source: VIS
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