Pope John Paul received the Bishops of Scotland today, as they conclude their "ad limina" visit, and, in his talk, highlighted the "demanding situations which represent pastoral challenges for the Church today," noting that in Scotland, "as in many lands evangelized centuries ago and steeped in Christianity, there no longer exists the reality of a 'Christian society'. " "Modern civilization," he added, "although highly developed from the standpoint of technology, is often stunted in its inner depths by a tendency to exclude God or keep him at a distance. ... The crisis of civilization must be countered by the civilization of love. ... The new evangelization ... can prove a particularly effective instrument for helping to usher in this civilization of love." The Pope affirmed that the new evangelization must be marked by hope because hope sustains the proclamation of the Gospel, enlivens faith communities, enriches society with the Gospel values of life and upholds human dignity. "Christian life itself is revitalized and pastoral initiatives are more readily directed towards their one true end: holiness. In fact, holiness is an intrinsic and essential aspect of the Church ... and is a gift, but a gift which in turns becomes a duty." "The concept of holiness should not be thought of as something extraordinary, as something outside the bounds of normal everyday life. For God calls His people to lead holy lives within the ordinary circumstances in which they find themselves: at home, in the parish, in the workplace, at school, on the playing field. There is much in society that lures people away - sometimes intentionally - from the difficult yet profoundly satisfying quest for holiness." The Holy Father then turned to what he termed "an important aspect of evangelization, the deeply felt need for an evangelization of culture." He remarked that cultures are constantly changing and that "the communication of values is what enables a culture to survive and flourish." He said evangelization becomes even more urgent "in societies where faith and religion are seen as something that should be restricted to the private sphere, and therefore as having no place in public or political debate. .. If culture is the context in which the individual transcends himself, then removing the Absolute from that context, or pushing it off to one side as irrelevant, results in a dangerous fragmentation of reality that gives rise to crises, as culture will no longer be able to present to the younger generation the source of meaning and wisdom which it ultimately seeks." John Paul II urged the bishops to dedicate great time and attention to young people, the builders of future civilizations of love. He pointed out that "the powerful forces of the media and entertainment industry" target young people and try to condition their attitudes. "Confusion is created as youth are beset by moral relativism and religious indifferentism. How can they come to grips with the question of truth and the requirements of consistency in moral behaviour when modern culture teaches them to live as though absolute values did not exist, or tells them to be content with a vague religiosity." Revitalizing Christian life calls for pastoral initiatives and for a common effort by every member of the faith community - bishops, priests, deacons, religious and laity. Cooperation will be especially valuable in dealing with marriage and family life, as well as "in addressing the welcome which your communities can give to refugees and asylum-seekers." The Holy Father concluding by emphasizing that priestly formation must remain a high priority for the bishops. "Today more than ever the Church needs holy priests whose daily journey of conversion inspires in others the desire to seek the holiness which the whole People of God is called to pursue." Candidates to the priesthood, as well as priests, for whom there must be permanent formation, must strive for "a life marked by poverty, chastity and humility in imitation of Christ, the Eternal High Priest, of whom they are (to become) the living icons." Source: Vatican Information Service
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