.- In a meeting with the president of Portugal, Jorge Sampaio, this morning, Pope John Paul II said that "the formation of a critical conscience in order to discern the meaning of life and of history is the greatest cultural challenge of our times,” especially in the context of “the grave crisis of values in modern society.”
Recalling his visit to Fatima in 2000 for the beatification of "the two great Portuguese little ones: Francisco and Jacinta Marto," the Pope said that "the special light that shone in their lives wants to illuminate the world.”
“The world continues to look to Portugal with hope, especially in terms of becoming aware of the grave crisis of values in modern society, ever more insecure in the face of fundamental ethical decisions for the future path of humanity," he said.
"The formation of a critical conscience in order to discern the meaning of life and of history is the greatest cultural challenge of our times,” said the Pope, “something which the Church in Portugal wants to confront through its collaboration, as the new Concordat that will go into effect in a few days demonstrates."
The recently signed concordat between the Holy See and Portugal regulates relations between the Church and the secular government in a number of areas such as education, the teaching of religion, and assigning Catholic chaplains to prisoners and the military.