Upon receiving the bishops of the Taiwanese Episcopal Conference this morning as part of their ‘ad limina’ visit, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized that the Catholics of their country “are a living sign that, in a justly ordered society, one need not fear to be a faithful Catholic and a good citizen.”
In his address, the Pope recalled the celebration of the 150th anniversary of Catholic Evangelization in Taiwan, noting that it represented "an occasion to manifest ever more eagerly your oneness with each other and with our Lord as you together promote the Church's common apostolate."
"This unity of mind and heart," he continued, "is evidenced by your desire to cooperate more closely in spreading the Gospel among non-believers and forming those already initiated into the Church through Baptism and Confirmation. I am pleased to note that you continue to coordinate a variety of institutions for this purpose, with due emphasis on the parish, the 'prime mover and pre-eminent place for catechesis',” he continued.
The Pontiff then discussed programs for priestly formation saying that they should be “designed with due consideration for the variety of ages, life conditions and duties found among your clergy" and asked that the catechists be furnished "with the necessary resources so that they may follow the example of Jesus in speaking the truth straightforwardly and in a way readily accessible to all."
It is through effective catechesis that stronger families are built, which in turn lead to an increase in vocations. “Parents, pastors, teachers, parish leaders, and all the members of the Church must set before young people the radical decision to follow Christ, so that in finding him, they find themselves,” he continued.
Benedict XVI then referred to the recent pastoral letter of the bishops—"Social Concern and Evangelization"—which "underscores the Church's need to engage actively in the promotion of family life." He noted that "your deep concern for the good of families and society as a whole moves you to assist couples in preserving the indissolubility of their marital promises.”
“Never tire in promoting just civil legislation and policies that protect the sacredness of marriage,” he continued. “Safeguard this sacrament from all that can harm it, especially the deliberate taking of life in its most vulnerable stages.”
The Pontiff also encouraged the Taiwanese Church in its efforts to help the most vulnerable, especially migrants. “In several recent pastoral letters, you have indicated the essential role of the parish in serving migrants and raising awareness of their needs.”
"Your apostolic bond with the Successor of Peter entails a pastoral responsibility for the universal Church across the globe. This particularly means, in your case, a loving concern for Catholics on the mainland, whom I constantly hold in prayer.”
He concluded, “you and the Christian faithful in Taiwan are a living sign that, in a justly ordered society, one need not fear to be a faithful Catholic and a good citizen. I pray that as part of the great Chinese Catholic family, you will continue to be spiritually united with your brethren on the mainland."