.- Pope Benedict received this morning the participants in the 56th general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, inviting them to contribute to guaranty and promote the dignity of the person and the common good of society.
The Pontiff opened his address by referring to one of the bishops' "essential tasks" as always remaining "close to our priests," watching over their formation, concerning themselves with their material and spiritual well-being, ensuring they do not face difficulties alone, and performing "a careful selection of candidates for the priesthood."
Through the Bishops, he went on to thank “our priests for their continual and often unseen dedication.”
Refering to the upcoming fourth national ecclesial congress of Verona, due to be held from October 16 to 20, the Pope declared "I will have the joy of participating."
Going on to quote his recent Encyclical "Deus caritas est," Benedict XVI recalled how the Church is aware of the fundamental "distinction between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God, in other words, the distinction between Church and State, or the autonomy of the temporal sphere."
"At the same time," he added, "and precisely by virtue of her mission of salvation, the Church cannot rescind her task of purifying reason by the proposal of her own social doctrine based upon 'what is in accord with the nature of every human being,' and reawakening moral and spiritual forces by opening people's will to the authentic needs of what is good."
Pope Benedict added: "In current circumstances, by recalling the value for public and private life of certain ethical principles rooted in the great Christian heritage of Europe, and in particular of Italy, we commit no violation of the laicism of the State, rather we contribute to guaranteeing and promoting the dignity of the person and the common good of society."
The Pope concluded by highlighting the need to offer "a clear testimony to all our brothers and sisters in humanity. By doing so we do not burden them with useless weight, but help them, to progress along the road of life and of true freedom."