Speaking to a group of bishops from Australia who are in Rome for their “ad limina” visit, Pope John Paul II said that bishops must be “fearless prophets” of truth and hope.
The Pontiff warned that “the pernicious ideology of secularism has found fertile ground in Australia. At the root of this disturbing development is the attempt to promote a vision of humanity without God,” which has as a consequence “the undermining of family life and a drift away from the Church.”
“In the face of such challenges,” he stated, “Bishops must stand out as fearless prophets, witnesses and servants of the hope of Christ” and proclaim hope “which springs from the Cross,” leading men and women “from the shadows of moral confusion and ambiguous thinking into the radiance of Christ’s truth and love.”
Turning to the Church’s witness through worship, the Holy Father emphasized that “Sunday is the ‘supreme day of faith’, ‘an indispensable day’, ‘the day of Christian hope!’ Any weakening in the Sunday observance of Holy Mass weakens Christian discipleship.”
“Intimately linked to the liturgy is the Church’s mission to evangelize,” he continued. “Sent by the Lord himself into the vineyard – the home, the workplace, schools, civic organizations – disciples of Christ find no room for ‘standing idle in the marketplace’, nor can they be so deeply immersed in the internal organization of parish life, that they are distracted from the command to evangelize others actively.”
The Pope said later that “incisive and faithful explanation of Christian doctrine regarding marriage and the family is of utmost importance in order to counter the secular, pragmatic and individualistic outlook which has gained ground in the area of legislation and even a certain acceptance in the realm of public opinion.”
“It is the Bishop’s particular task to ensure that within civil society – including the media and entertainment industry sectors – the values of marriage and family life are supported and defended,” he concluded.