.- In the Vatican Basilica this morning, the Pope met with prelates from the Italian region of Lombardy, who are currently in the course of their "ad limina" visit. Pope Benedict told the bishops along with several groups of Catholics from their various dioceses that it is an ever more important task of all the faithful to announce the Gospel in areas where secularism, individualism, and hedonistic consumerism have taken hold.
The Church, the Pope told them, "has an important role she must continue to play in Lombard society: announcing and bearing witness to the Gospel in all areas, especially where there exist the negative traits of hedonistic consumer culture, of secularism and individualism, where old and new forms of poverty appear with worrying signs of youth alienation and phenomena of violence and criminality.”
Lombardi currently one of the wealthiest regions of Italy, yet it is also the one with the lowest birthrate in all of Italy.
“Although public institutions and various educational organizations at times seem to suffer moments of difficulty there is, however, no lack of ... moral resources in your people, so rich in noble family and religious traditions.”
"Your field of activity is thus truly immense," the Holy Father added. "On the one hand you must defend and promote the culture of human life and legality, on the other, an ever more coherent conversion to Christ is needed, at both an individual and community level.”
“Indeed,” the Pontiff continued, “in order for our faith in man, made in God's image, to increase, we must penetrate more deeply and coherently into the mystery of Christ and proclaim His message of salvation.”
“We must do everything possible to gain an ever better understanding of the figure of Jesus, so that our knowledge of him is not just 'second hand,' but cones through prayer, liturgy and love for others. This is clearly a difficult commitment, but there is comfort in the words of the Lord: 'Remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age'."
The Holy Father called for "an intensification of your evangelical witness so that Christians in all fields, guided by the Holy Spirit that dwells in the Church and in the hearts of the faithful as in a temple, may become living signs of supernatural hope. I encourage you, dear bishops," he concluded, "to guide the dynamic people of Lombardy along this path, relying in all situations on never-failing divine assistance."