.- On Thursday Pope Benedict XVI received prelates from the Ecuadorian Episcopal Conference following the completion of their âad liminaâ visit. He emphasized that the Church in Ecuador needs âmature and committedâ lay people who can illuminate all reality with the light of Christ.
Pope Benedict noted with satisfaction the Church in Ecuadorâs implementation of the âgreat missionâ pastoral initiative launched by the Latin American episcopate at their meeting in Aparecida, Brazil, the Vatican Information Service reports.
âThe call the Lord Jesus made to His disciples, sending them forth to preach the message of salvation and make disciples of all people, must be a constant theme of meditation and the raison dâÃªtre of all pastoral activity for the entire ecclesial community,â the Pope said.
âIn order to face the many challenges of your mission, and in a cultural and social atmosphere that seems to forget the deepest spiritual roots of its identity ... it is necessary to make generous efforts to spread the world of God so that no-one remains without this indispensable spiritual nourishment, source of life and light,â he continued.
Pope Benedict declared that their mission particularly depends upon priests, but also noted that prelates are committed to involving all groups, movements, and individuals in their dioceses âin a wide-ranging and generous form of vocational pastoral care.â
Such efforts, he added, must be accompanied by the âgreatest careâ in selecting seminarians and in providing their intellectual, human, and spiritual formation.
âIn this way ... they will be able to shoulder the demands of their future ministry with joy and a sense of responsibility,â the Pope told the Ecuadoran bishops.
âIn this important stage of history, the Church in Ecuador needs mature and committed lay people who, with a solid doctrinal formation and a profound interior life, live their specific vocation of illuminating all human, social, cultural and political reality with the light of Christ.â
Noting that the activity of the Church must not be confused with âpolitical concerns,â he said the Church must offer its own contributions through reflection and moral judgment on political questions that âparticularly affect human dignity.â
The Pope also gave his condolences over the recent death of the Archbishop of Quito, Cardinal Antonio Jose Gonzalez Zumarraga, and closed with an exhortation that the bishops dedicate particular attention to charitable activities which âexpress the merciful love of Christ, especially to people in need, the elderly, children, emigrants and to abandoned and mistreated women.â