On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI met with bishops from the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua who had completed their “ad limina” visit at the Vatican. He encouraged them to face their challenges by training members of the faithful to give witness and to assist in the management of the Church’s temporal affairs.
During the meeting, the Pontiff emphasized that it is vital for the laity to “receive encouragement from their pastors, obtain profound and continuous religious formation, and maintain perfect faithfulness to the doctrine of the Church.”
"One of the great challenges you are facing" he told the prelates, "is that of the solid religious formation of your faithful, ensuring the Gospel remains deeply inscribed in their minds, their lives and their work.”
Though challenging, this formation is essential at a time in history when “poverty and emigration are accompanied by deep social inequalities and political radicalization,” he continued.
The Holy Father also praised the bishops for creating a “climate of dialogue and openness,” without abandoning their “defense of the fundamental rights of man, denouncing situations of injustice and fomenting a concept of politics as being generous and humble service for the common good."
In doing so, the Pope called on the bishops to “promote and accompany numerous initiatives of charity and solidarity with the most needy who are present at your Churches.” This will “ensure there is no lack of aid for families in difficulty, or of that generous spirit shown by so many lay people who, sometimes anonymously, strive to obtain daily bread for their poorer brethren."
Turning to educators, particularly those in Catholic schools, the Holy Father recalled how they perform “an essential mission of the Church and a priceless service to society.”
The Pontiff concluded by calling on bishops to encourage educators in their work and to make every effort “to preserve parents’ rights to educate their children according to their own convictions and beliefs.”