This morning at the Vatican, the Holy Father recalled the importance of devotion to the Eucharist as he received prelates from the Pakistan Catholic Bishops' Conference, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. “The Eucharist,” the Pope recalled, “reminds us … violence never has the last word, for Christ has conquered sin and death through His glorious resurrection.”
Benedict XVI explained the important role that the Body of Christ should have in the lives of the prelates as they lead the people of Pakistan. "The centrality of the Eucharist, both through the worthy celebration of the Lord's Supper and in silent adoration of the Sacrament, should be especially apparent in the lives of priests and bishops. This will lead the laity to follow your example and come to a deeper appreciation for the Lord's abiding presence among them," he said.
The Pope explained this is essential because the Eucharist "reorients the way Christians think, speak and act in the world and makes present the salvific meaning of Christ's death and resurrection, thus renewing history and vivifying all creation. The breaking of the bread reminds us again and again that the absurdity of violence never has the last word, for Christ has conquered sin and death through His glorious resurrection."
"Eucharistic spirituality," continued the Holy Father, "embraces every aspect of the Christian life. This is evident in the emerging vitality of ecclesial movements within your dioceses. ... By exhorting the members of these movements and all the faithful to listen attentively to the word of God and to cultivate a habit of daily prayer, may your people foster genuine fellowship and create ever expanding networks of charitable solicitude for their neighbors."
The Pope also bolstered the bishops by saying, "the 'theologate' in Karachi, the program of philosophy in Lahore and your minor seminaries are vital institutions for the future of the Church in Pakistan," said the Holy Father. "Never doubt that your investment of human and material resources will ensure a solid formation for your candidates for the priesthood.”
At this time, it is particularly urgent, the Holy Father went on, to prepare seminarians -and indeed all catechists and lay leaders – “to become effective promoters of inter-religious dialogue. They share a responsibility with all Christians in Pakistan to foster understanding and trust with members of other religions by constructing peaceful forums for open conversation."
The Pope also recalled how other Catholic institutions such as "hospitals, schools, social and charitable agencies ... continue to serve the common good of the Pakistani people" by responding "to the concrete needs of others."
Benedict XVI left the bishops with words of encouragement, saying, "build on the noble example of service to neighbor etched in the history of these institutions.” When priests, religious and the lay faithful in your dioceses, care for the sick, help young people grow in knowledge and virtue, and meet the needs of the poor, they reveal the human face of God's love for each and every person, the Pontiff added.