.- The Pope today received participants in the annual meeting of bishops, friends of the "Focolare" movement, who are considering the theme: "Christ crucified and abandoned, light in the cultural night," and participants in the ninth congress of bishops, friends of the Sant'Egidio Community, who are studying the question: "The globalization of love."
The Pope told the bishops that their closeness to these movements "highlights the vitality of new groupings of the faithful, and expresses the communion between charisms that constitutes a typical 'sign of the times.'"
This "multiplicity and unity of charisms and of ministries is inseparable from the life of the Church," said the Holy Father. "The Holy Spirit wants the variety of the movements [to be] at the service of the one Body which is, of course, the Church, and He brings this about through the ministry of the people He has placed to run the Church of God: the bishops in communion with Peter's Successor."
"In the wealthy Western world where, although cultural relativism does exist, there is no lack of a widespread desire for spirituality, your movements testify to the joy of the faith and the beauty of being Christian. In the vast deprived areas of the earth, they communicate the message of solidarity and stand alongside the poor and weak with that love, human and divine, that I sought to bring to everyone's attention with my Encyclical 'Deus caritas est.'"
"The Focolare movement," he continued, "highlights the charism and service of unity, which it puts into effect in various social and cultural fields ... and through ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue. The Sant'Egidio Community, placing prayer and liturgy at the core of its own existence, wishes to be close to those suffering distress and social marginalization."
"Together we can face with greater fortitude the pressing challenges that call our attention at the beginning of this third millennium," such as "the search for justice and peace, and the urgent need to construct a more fraternal and united world, starting with the countries from which a number of you come, wracked by bloody conflicts."
Benedict XVI made particular mention of Africa "a continent," he said, "that I carry in my heart and that I hope may finally see a period of stable peace and real development. The forthcoming synod of African bishops will surely be an appropriate moment to show the great love that God reserves for the beloved people of Africa."