.- After the completion of their âad liminaâ visit, the prelates from the Slovenian Episcopal Conference were received by Pope Benedict. The Pontiff encouraged the bishops to respond to the materialist culture that is making inroads in their country through evangelization.
In his address, the Holy Father highlighted the great changes the country has seen over the last five years, from its 2004 entry into the European Union to its adoption of the euro and its adherence to the Schengen Agreement. These changes "are not of an ecclesiastical nature but they nonetheless concern the Church because they touch people's lives, and in particular the question of values in Europe", he stated.
Calling to mind the pastoral letter written by Slovenian bishops in 2004, the Pope noted that it remains valid because, "if Europe wishes to remain - and ever more to become - a land of peace, maintaining the dignity of the human person as one of its fundamental values, it cannot relinquish the principle spiritual and ethical component of its foundation: Christianity.â
The Holy Father quoted from the bishops' pastoral letter: "'Christianity is the religion of hope: hope in life, in endless happiness, in the attainment of fraternity among all mankind'. This is true for all continents, including Europe where many intellectuals still struggle to accept the fact that 'reason and faith need one another in order to fulfill their true nature and their mission'".
The Pope then focused on the "main challenge" facing the Church in Slovenia: "Western-style secularism, which is different and perhaps more underhanded than Marxist secularism". This leads to "an unbridled pursuit of material goods, a drop in births and the reduction of religious practice with a notable diminution in vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life".
"Each generation is called to renew the choice between life and goodness and death and evil. We as pastors have the duty to show Christians the path of life that they in their turn may become the salt and light of society. I encourage the Church in Slovenia, then, to respond to materialist and selfish culture with a coherent evangelizing activity that begins in parishes".