Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Catholics to be faithful and courageous in witnessing to a secularized society in a letter sent to an Italian archdiocese.
The letter, published Dec. 14 by L’Osservatore Romano, was addressed to Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of Naples, Italy to mark the archdiocese's Jubilee Year.
Benedict XVI noted that the religious heritage of Naples “demands consistent fidelity and courageous witness.” He explained that this witness is made difficult by the socio-cultural context of the world today “which is very different from the past.” The world is now characterized by a “secularist view of life and the influence of evil” on civil life, the Pope said.
Amid the negative and erroneous models that affect family and social life, the Pope underscored “the urgency of human and Christian formation for boys and girls, as they are heavily exposed to the risks associated with these deviations.”
“For this reason it is necessary that men and women are taught to have strong personalities, solid faith and to live the Christian life consistently,” he added.
Benedict XVI exhorted parents to teach the faith to the children from a young age, using the signs and words that have always been a part of the Christian community. “The future depends in large measure on the success of this comprehensive educational effort,” he added.
“Christians are called to be operators of the truth and courageous witnesses of the Gospel. Each one can and should strive to ensure that their ethical and spiritual values, translated into their way of life, make a decisive contribution to the building of a more just and fraternal society.”
The Pope said Catholics must form relationships based on authentic charity, with the inspiration and strength that comes from God, and that result in concrete acts of solidarity and service. Thus they will witness to alternative lifestyles that will inspire others and serve as examples.
In this manner, the Pope concluded, Catholics will reinforce the awareness that still today the seed of the Kingdom of God is present and active, and that if that seed is accepted on a personal level and with generosity, even the most difficult situations can be transformed and the city of Naples will be renewed.