In the Holy Father’s address to the prelates from the Portuguese Episcopal Conference who have just completed their "ad limina" visit, the Pope invited them to turn to God in thanksgiving "for the great mercy He showed towards the pilgrim Church in Portugal during the Holy Year, and over subsequent years which were impregnated with that same jubilee spirit."
The Pope emphasized the need to incorporate the “faithful into community life.” He mentioned the necessity of changing the “manner of organization of the Portuguese ecclesial community and the mentality of its members," to ensure "that the Church marches to the rhythm of Vatican Council II and that the functions of clergy and laity remain clearly established," at the same time bearing in mind the fact that "we are all one since we were baptized and integrated into the family of the children of God, and we are all responsible for the growth of the Church."
"Ecclesiology of communion in accordance with the Council," the Pope continued, "is the right path that must be followed," though "without losing sight of possible obstacles such as horizontalism, ... democratization in the attribution of sacramental ministries, parity between conferred orders and new services, and discussion over which of the members of the community is first (a useless discussion because the Lord Jesus has already decided who is last)."
The Holy Father pointed out that, despite the fact that it is sometimes necessary to discuss the attribution of responsibility, we must remain focused on the “true mission of the Church” which must "speak principally not of herself but of God.”
"The evangelization of individuals and of communities depends on ... the encounter with Jesus Christ," said Benedict XVI, recalling how "Christian initiation normally takes place via the Church."
"Faced with the large number of non-practicing Christians in your dioceses," said the Pope, "it might be worthwhile to verify 'the effectiveness of current approaches to Christian initiation, so that the faithful can be helped both to mature through the formation received in our communities and to give their lives an authentically Eucharistic direction, so that they can offer a reason for the hope within them in a way suited to our times'."