Pope praises church in Nicaragua

 The Holy Father yesterday received prelates of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.

Praising the bishops' efforts "to bring the message of the Gospel to all areas of Nicaragua, with the selfless collaboration of your priests and of the religious institutes present in Nicaragua". he also highlighted the "valuable help" offered in this field by catechists and delegates of the Word.

"It is vital that these generous servants and helpers of the evangelising mission of the Church receive the encouragement of their pastors, obtain profound and continuous religious formation, and maintain perfect faithfulness to the doctrine of the Church", the Pope said.

Benedict XVI noted how "the need for a clergy well-prepared in spiritual, intellectual and human terms" had recently brought the Nicaraguan prelates "to revise the structure of the country's seminaries, in the hope of giving the seminarians of your dioceses a better formation, something that is always necessary and that requires great closeness and attention on the part of each bishop, yielding no ground in the careful discernment of candidates, or in the rigorous conditions necessary to become exemplary priests full of love for Christ and for the Church. ... It is also to be hoped that due religious assistance may improve in hospitals, prisons and other institutions".

Going on then to refer to the question of popular religiosity, "a great treasure ... so deeply-rooted among your people", the Pope called for it to become "something more than a passively-received tradition", and for it to be continually revitalised "through pastoral activity that highlights the profundity of gestures and signs and indicates the unfathomable mystery of salvation and hope that they express".

He said: "One of the great challenges you are facing is that of the solid religious formation of your faithful, ensuring the Gospel remains deeply inscribed in their minds, their lives and their work. ... This is particularly important in a situation in which poverty and emigration are accompanied by deep social inequalities and political radicalisation, especially in recent years".

The Holy Father expressed his satisfaction at the bishops' efforts "to create a climate of dialogue and openness", yet without abandoning their "defence of the fundamental rights of man, denouncing situations of injustice and fomenting a concept of politics as being (rather than ambition for power and control) generous and humble service for the common good". In this context he exhorted them "to promote and accompany numerous initiatives of charity and solidarity with the most needy who are present your Churches, so as to ensure there is no lack of aid for families in difficulty, or of that generous spirit shown by so many lay people who, sometimes anonymously, strive to obtain daily bread for their poorer brethren".

Speaking of educational institutions, and in particular of Catholic schools, Benedict XVI recalled how they perform "an essential mission of the Church and a priceless service to society". And he concluded by calling on bishops to encourage educators in their task and to make every effort "to preserve parents' rights to educate their children according to their own convictions and beliefs".

Source: VIS

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