“As you know, all of the Church’s activities are meant to glorify God and fill his people with the truth that sets us free,” Pope Benedict told a group of Indian bishops at Castel Gandolfo.
“This saving truth, at the heart of the deposit of faith, must remain the foundation of all the Church’s endeavors, proposed to others always with respect but also without compromise.”
Thursday's audience was the Pope's second meeting with the Indian bishops, the last of four groups making the customary “ad limina” visit to Rome required every five years. The group of 23 bishops includes Mumbai's Cardinal Archbishop Oswald Gracias.
In his remarks to the bishops, Pope Benedict said the Indian Church was “blessed with a multitude of institutions which are intended to be expressions of the love of God for humanity,” enabling the Church to make “an invaluable contribution to the well-being not only of Catholics, but of society at large.”
He noted that India's Catholic schools hold a “special place” among these institutions – and should, therefore, be watched over carefully.
“I encourage you to continue to pay close attention to the quality of instruction in the schools present in your dioceses,” the Pope said, “to ensure that they (are) genuinely Catholic and therefore capable of passing on those truths and values necessary for the salvation of souls and the up-building of society.”
Pope Benedict then turned his attention to other areas of Catholic education, reflecting on the task of “those who teach in Catholic institutes of higher education and those who are charged with the ecclesial task of educating seminarians, religious or the lay faithful, whether in theology, catechetical studies or Christian spirituality.”
“Those who teach in the name of the Church,” he noted, “have a particular obligation faithfully to hand on the riches of the tradition, in accordance with the Magisterium and in a way that responds to the needs of today.”
And students, for their part, “have the right to receive the fullness of the intellectual and spiritual heritage of the Church,” in order to serve both the Church and the world in the best manner.
“Having received the benefits of a sound formation and dedicated to charity in truth,” he explained, “the clergy, religious and lay leaders of the Christian community will be better able to contribute to the growth of the Church and the advancement of Indian society.”
The Pope also stressed the importance of men and women in consecrated religious life, “who are the often unsung heroes of the Church’s vitality locally” – not just because of their “apostolic labors,” but because “ the lives they lead are a source of spiritual fruitfulness for the entire Christian community.”
This source of vitally, he warned, could die out if bishops do not provide for its future.
“In this regard, my Brother Bishops, I know that you are aware of the many factors which inhibit spiritual and vocational growth, particularly among young people.”
“Yet we know that it is Jesus Christ alone who responds to our deepest longings, and who gives true meaning to our lives. Only in him can our hearts truly find rest.”
“Continue, therefore, to speak to young people and to encourage them to consider seriously the consecrated or priestly life,” Pope Benedict urged the bishops. “Speak with parents about their indispensable role in encouraging and supporting such vocations; and lead your people in prayer to the Lord of the harvest, that he may send many more laborers into this harvest.”
The Pope ended invoking the Virgin Mary's intercession as “Mother of the Church,” promising to pray for the Indian bishops and their faithful before giving his apostolic blessing.
Pope Benedict XVI told a group of Indian bishops visiting his summer residence on Sept. 8 that they should take special care to ensure that Church institutions convey the message of the Gospel.