The prelates, all members of the Episcopal Conference of the Ivory Coast, have just completed their regular "ad limina" visits.
The Holy Father
told the group that after reading the reports they had presented him on
the tense and often violent political situation in their region, he is
praying that their nation "may find unity and peace in true fraternity
among all her citizens."
In 2002, the
country, which was once called a model of stability, slipped into a
violent civil war which has divided the nation in two ever since.
The Pope said
that "The crisis your country has been through highlighted the
divisions that constitute such a deep wound in relations between the
various components of society."
violence, he continued, "dealt a harsh blow to trust between people and
the stability of the country, leaving much suffering in its wake.”
He told the
prelates that “In order to recreate true peace, there must be generous
forgiveness and true reconciliation among the individuals and groups
affected. ... They must begin a courageous dialogue, examining ... the
causes that gave rise to the conflict."
"The road to
peace," Benedict stressed, "is long and difficult, but it is never
impossible, and Catholics must take their place in this shared
endeavor, because building a world of reconciliation is never something
foreign to them."
He said that in
order to achieve this lofty goal, "it is necessary…to restore
confidence among Christ's followers, despite their differences of
opinion…Faced with political or ethnic tensions in diocesan churches,
bishops, priests and consecrated people must be models of fraternity
and charity for everyone, contributing through word and deed to the
construction of a unified and reconciled society."
The Pope told
the bishops that in this light, their primary concern must be initial
and permanent formation of priests. They must, he said ensure that
priests had "an intense spiritual life," and also must "favor unity and
fraternal life among them."
Evangelizing the laity
reports, the bishops mentioned "the urgent need for the formation of
the laity" in their country. To this, the Holy Father said that “a
deepening of the faith is truly necessary in order to resist the return
of ancient practices or the lure of sects, and above all as a testimony
to Christian hope in a complicated world of new and grave problems."
He said that
"For the Church to be an ever clearer sign of what she truly is, and
more adapted to her mission, attention must be given to the
enculturation of the faith…This process, which is so important for
announcing the Gospel to all cultures, must not compromise the
specificity and integrity of the faith, rather it must help Christians
to understand and experience the gospel message in their own cultures,
abandoning practices that run counter to their baptismal promises."
on, explaining that "The weight of traditional mentality is often an
obstacle to the acceptance of the Gospel," and among the many questions
facing the faithful, that of "commitment to the Sacrament of marriage
is one of the most important.”
“Polygamy or de
facto cohabitation with no kind of religious celebration,” he chided,
“often constitute great obstacles." Therefore, "it is necessary to
continue tirelessly in efforts to ensure that people, especially the
young, accept that for Christians marriage is a way to sanctity."
the Pope noted the important growth of various ecclesial movements in
the Ivory Coast’s dioceses, saying that these groups "contribute to
providing a renewed missionary drive in Christian communities."
encouraged the movements to entrust themselves to the generosity of
Christ, "remaining always rooted in His Church."
Benedict stressed, "these movements must be subject to enlightened and
constant discernment by bishops, in order to guarantee the ecclesiality
of their activities and to maintain authentic communion with the
universal and diocesan Church."
today, Pope Benedict XVI met with a number of Bishop’s from Africa’s
often violence-ridded Ivory Coast, to whom he explained that although
the road to peace is long and difficult, the Church must strive to
build a “world of reconciliation.”