Pope John Paul II, in an address to bishops from Angola and Sao Tome this morning – the 26th anniversary of the beginning of his papal ministry – spoke about the need to work for justice and reconciliation and urged the education of chastity and chaste love as the “solid hope to overcome the forces that threaten the institution of the family, and at the same time, to free humanity of the devastating scourge of AIDS."
The Pope, who urged the bishops “to rebuild the communities destroyed by war, to console wounded hearts and help the people entrusted to you so that they may make progress on the path of the Gospel," said that "today more than ever, Angola needs peace with justice; specifically reconciliation, rejecting every temptation to resort to violence…I urge you to work tirelessly for reconciliation and to bear authentic witness through acts of solidarity and aid for victims of the decades of violence," said the Holy Father.
Turning his thoughts to threats facing family life, he exhorted proclaim "the liberating message of authentic Christian love," urging educational programs to emphasize that "true love is chaste love, and that chastity offers us solid hope to overcome the forces that threaten the institution of the family, and at the same time, to free humanity of the devastating scourge of AIDS."
The Holy Father urged young people to have recourse to the sacraments saying that "through a life of prayer and a solid sacramental life, they will remain united to Christ in order to pass on the values of the Gospel in their environments and they will generously assume their role in transforming society."
He emphasized that Catholic schools are "an especially effective means to ensure" the formation of young people, and told the bishops to "promote religious and moral teaching, also in public schools, in order to create a consensus in public opinion on the importance of this type of formation. This service, which could come from closer collaboration with the government, is an important form of active Catholic participation in the society of your country," he said.
Referring to the selection and formation of priests, the Pope said that "candidates for the priesthood must be carefully selected and formed," as well as their professors, "with clear human and priestly maturity."
Priests, he continued, "are called to give up material goods and consecrate themselves to the service of their brothers and sisters through the complete personal gift of self of celibacy. Scandalous behaviour must always be analyzed, investigated and corrected."
The Holy Father remarked in conclusion that the "flourishing number of vocations to consecrated life, especially to female religious life, is a magnificent gift from heaven to the Church of Sao Tome and Angola."