.- Meeting with a group of German bishops for their “ad limina” visit today, Pope Benedict XVI said that the “crisis of secularization” is the providential challenge of our day. The Holy Father emphasized the urgent need to offer convincing answers to the many that seek and look with hope to the Christian message.
According to a report from Vatican Radio, the Pope affirmed that, “the Republic of Germany shares, with the whole Western world, the situation of a culture dominated by secularization, in which God seems to disappear more and more from the public conscience.”
“The German Church,” he said, “has the spiritual roots and the ability to promote the faith and support the needs of those in the country.”
“Above all,” the Pope emphasized, “the Church in Germany must again show the power and the beauty of the Catholic Faith.”
Benedict then spoke about the growing Muslim population of Germany and the necessity of dialogue between the two religions.
Muslims, the Pope said, "who hold to their convictions and their rites [ceremonies] with such seriousness, have the right to our humble and resolute witness to Jesus Christ. To make that witness credible requires a great commitment, and for this reason it is necessary that in places where there is a large Muslim population, there also be Catholic interlocutors who have the essential knowledge of the language and religious history that makes them capable of engaging in dialogue with Muslims,” he stressed.
But, he added, a full understanding of the truths of the Catholic faith are a pre-requisite for entering into a fruitful dialogue.
The Holy Father also addressed the teaching of religion, Catholic schools, and the formation of Catholic adults. One key focus of Catholic education should be, he said, "above all, the matter of the curriculum of the teaching of religion so that the entire scholarly journey can transmit the fullness of the Faith and of the life of the Church."
“In Catholic schools it is fundamental that the introduction to the Catholic view of the world and the practicing of the Faith are not only transmitted during religion classes, but in a convincing way in the daily routine of the scholastic life and by means of the personal testimony of instructors," Benedict said.
He also encouraged a profitable collaboration between lay people and clergy, but warned that such collaboration should not confuse the specific rolls proper to each state of life. The Pontiff mentioned, for example, that the homily at Mass is reserved to the preaching by clergy. “It is the Sacrament of Orders that allows the person to work and speak sacramentally, in persona Christi.”