Pope urges African, European bishops to give youth cultural formation
By David Kerr

.- Pope Benedict XVI says that bishops must pay particular attention to the cultural formation of their young people.

“You know well how much the Church esteems and promotes every form of authentic culture that offers the richness of the Word of God and the grace that flows from the Paschal Mystery of Christ,” he told a group of European and African bishops at the Vatican on Feb. 16.

“So the culture nurtured by faith leads to genuine humanity, while false cultures eventually lead to dehumanization: in Europe and in Africa we have had sad examples.”

The Pope was addressing a delegation of bishops who have been taking part in the 2nd Symposium of African and European Bishops at Rome’s Regina Apostolurum University Feb. 13-17.

He used his address to outline some of the key cultural challenges facing the Church in both continents.

“I think, in the first place, is religious indifference,” he said, “which leads many people to live as if God does not exist, or to be content with a vague religiosity, incapable of measuring up against the question of truth or the requirement of being coherent.”

He observed that especially in Europe, “but also in parts of Africa,” there exists a secularized environment that is often hostile to the Christian faith.

The Pope also identified hedonism as “another challenge to the announcement of the Gospel.” He said it has created a “crisis of values in daily life, in family structures” and even the way people “interpret the meaning of existence.”

In practical terms, he said, its symptoms can be witnessed in “serious social unrest” and “the spread of phenomena such as pornography and prostitution.”

But he urged the bishops not be discouraged, as “the risen Christ is always with us,” and because their dioceses contain many parishes and people “distinguished by a commitment to personal holiness and apostolate.”

The family as “the domestic church” is key to promoting a revival of their local Churches, and is “the most solid guarantee of for the renewal of society,” the Pope said.

“Within the family that preserves habits, traditions, customs and rituals imbued with faith you will find the most suitable soil for the flowering of vocations.”

Observing that “today’s consumer mentality” can often have a “negative impact” on fostering vocations, he called for particular focus on raising up “generous young people” in Africa and Europe, who “know how to responsibly take charge of their future.”

Pope Benedict underscored the fact that developing an atmosphere friendly to vocations care requires bishops to attend to the cultural formation of their young people.

The best way bishops can lead by their young people, the Pope said, is by giving them a personal example of sanctity.

“The moral authority and credibility that support the exercise of your juridical power, can only come from the holiness of your life,” he said.

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