.- Speaking to visiting Mexican bishops earlier today at the Vatican, Pope Benedict stressed the need for strengthening the family and building up of an authentic culture of life in that country, respectful of the humanity of all its citizens.
The Holy Father said in his address to the prelates that, "Faced with growing laicism that seeks to reduce the religious life of citizens to the private sphere, with no social or public expression, the Church knows very well that the Christian message reinforces and illuminates the basic principles of all coexistence."
In this context, the Pope pointed out how the family as an institution "needs special support, because in Mexico, as in other countries, its vitality and fundamental role are declining, not only because of cultural changes, but also because of the phenomenon of emigration, which brings serious difficulties of various kinds, especially for women, children and young people."
Pope Benedict also addressed the problem of drug trafficking, noting "the continuous efforts made up to now by the State and by various social organizations" to combat it.
"It must not be forgotten", he said, "that one of the roots of the problem is great economic inequality, which prevents the just development of a large part of the population. ... It is urgent for everyone to unite their efforts to eradicate this evil through the spread of authentic human values and the construction of a real culture of life. The Church offers her full collaboration in this field."
The Pope also recognized the importance of the country's indigenous people, "who for centuries have struggled to uphold their ancestral values and traditions." He echoed John Paul II's words on his trip to Mexico in 2002 to canonize the indigenous St. Juan Diego: "Mexico needs its indigenous peoples and these peoples need Mexico!"
"In fact," he added, "today more than ever it is necessary to favor their integration, while respecting their customs and their ways of organizing their communities; this enables them to develop their own culture and to open themselves, without losing their identity, to the challenges of a globalized world."
Benedict XVI concluded his address by speaking of the forthcoming elections in 2006, "which represent an opportunity and a challenge to consolidate the significant progress made in democratizing the country. It is to be hoped that the electoral process contributes to a continued strengthening of the democratic order, firmly orienting it towards policies inspired by the common good and by the integral promotion of all citizens, with special care for the weakest and most unprotected. Mexican bishops referred to this in their message before the start of the electoral process. The title of that message, 'Strengthen democracy by rebuilding civic trust,' well indicates the needs of the present time."