.- Earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI met with visiting Mexican bishops and challenged them to help change their country's social structure, bringing it "more into line with the dignity of individuals and their fundamental rights."
The prelates, who were in Rome for their 'ad limina' visit, came from the ecclesiastical areas of Monterrey, Morelia and San Luis Potosi in central and north east Mexico.
During the Pope's address, he stressed that, "Catholics, who still constitute the majority of the population, are called to participate in this task, discovering their commitment to their faith and the unitary meaning of their presence in the world. Otherwise, the 'split between the faith which many profess and their daily lives deserves to be counted among the more serious errors of our age'."
He lamented that this social structure had broken down in many important areas, particularly, the lack of "healthy forms of coexistence and the management of public affairs." The Holy Father also noted the increase of "corruption, impunity, infiltration of drug trafficking and organized crime," all of which "leads to various forms of violence, indifference and contempt for the inviolable value of life. On this matter, the post-synodal Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in America' clearly criticizes the 'social sins' of our times."
"In Mexico too," he continued, "people frequently live in situations of poverty. Nonetheless, many faithful display a faith in God, a religious sense accompanied by expressions rich in humanity, hospitality, fraternity and solidarity. These values are being endangered by migration abroad, where many work in precarious conditions, unprotected and struggling to face a cultural context very different from their own social and religious practices."
The Holy Father emphasized that "human mobility is a pastoral priority in cooperative relations with the Churches of North America," explaining that "beyond economic and social factors, an appreciable unity exists, rooted in a shared faith and favoring a fraternal and solidary communion. This is the result of the various forms the presence and encounter with the living Christ have taken, and continue to take, in the history of America."
The Pope noted the difficulty for many of the baptized to belong to a church community in the midst of a culture which often runs counter to Catholic teaching and thought. He said that these people are "influenced by innumerable proposals for ways of thinking and acting, are indifferent to the values of the Gospel, and are even drawn towards forms of behavior that run counter to the Christian vision of life."
Hope for the lost
"All this," he said however, "united with the activity of sects and new religious groups in America, far from leaving you indifferent, must stimulate your particular Churches to offer the faithful more personalized religious care, strengthening the structures of communion and proposing a purified form of popular religiosity, in order to revive the faith of all Catholics. One pressing task is to form, responsibly, the faith of Catholics, so as to help them live in the world joyfully and courageously."
The Holy Father closed his address saying that "all this implies, in practical pastoral care, the need to revise our mentality ... and to broaden our horizons, ... in order to respond to the great questions facing mankind today. As a missionary Church, we are all called to understand the challenges that postmodern culture presents to the new evangelization of the continent. The Church's dialogue with the culture of our time is vital, both for the Church and for the world."