address, the Holy Father told the bishops--in Italy for their “ad
limina” visits--that they "have all come to Rome, this city where the
Apostles Peter and Paul gave of themselves completely in imitation of
Christ. ... The gift of self to the other is also at the heart of the
Sacrament of Holy Orders.”
“Those who receive this sacrament”, he stressed, “are configured in a particular way to Christ, the Head of the Church."
The Pope went on
to praise recent efforts in Ghana "to deal with the scourge of poverty
and to strengthen the economy,” but pointed out that “Notwithstanding
this laudable progress, much still remains to be done to overcome this
condition which impedes a large portion of the population.”
widespread poverty”, he said, “often results in a general moral decline
leading to crime, corruption, attacks on the sanctity of human life or
even a return to the superstitious practices of the past."
The Pope said
that in the midst of this tenuous struggle however, the Church "shines
forth as a beacon of hope in the life of the Christian, ... by helping
the faithful gain a better understanding of the promises of Jesus
Christ," and forming them "to deepen their Christian faith and thus
enable them to take their rightful place both in the Church of Christ
and in society."
In this light,
he particularly praised the work of the country’s catechists, although
noting that they "are often impeded in their task by a lack of
resources or hostile environments."
He also invited
the bishops "to ensure that these evangelists receive the spiritual,
doctrinal, moral and material support they require to carry out their
in Ghana, "young people constitute almost half of the population,”
Benedict stressed that “A solid catechetical foundation…will strengthen
them in their Catholic identity and give them the necessary tools to
confront the challenges of changing economic realities, globalization
and disease. It will also assist them in responding to the arguments
often put forward by religious sects."
The Pope went on
to highlight "the Church's task to assist Christian families to live
faithfully and generously as true 'domestic churches',” reiterating the
bishops' own concern "about the proper celebration of Christian
marriage in Ghana.”
Christianity”, he said, “always seeks to respect the venerable
traditions of cultures and peoples, it also seeks to purify those
practices which are contrary to the Gospel."
He said that
"For this reason, it is essential that the entire Catholic community
continue to stress the importance of the monogamous and indissoluble
union of man and woman, consecrated in holy matrimony. For the
Christian, traditional forms of marriage can never be a substitute for
also addressed the question of the priesthood, saying that it "must
never be seen as a way of improving one's social standing or standard
of living. If it is, then priestly gift of self and docility to God's
designs will give way to personal desires, rendering the priest
ineffective and unfulfilled."
The Holy Father
closed his address by encouraging the bishop’s efforts "to ensure the
suitability of candidates for the priesthood and to guarantee proper
priestly formation for those who are studying for the sacred ministry."
He also pointed
out that this year will mark 500 years since the arrival of
missionaries in northern Ghana, saying, "It is my special prayer that
missionary zeal will continue to fill you and your beloved people,
strengthening you in your efforts to spread the Gospel."
with a group of prelates from the Catholic Bishops Conference of Ghana,
Pope Benedict XVI said today that despite many economic and social
struggles in the African country, that the Church continues to shine
forth as “a beacon of hope” for Christians.