.- Pope John Paul II received bishops from Colombia ending their “ad limina” visit this morning and encouraged them to continue to proclaim the Gospel of justice, peace and reconciliation with their words and witness, in their fight against the “moral deterioration” and violent “attacks on life, freedom, and the dignity of persons,” affecting their country.
The Pope spoke about the “depth of the Christian faith in the country and the dynamism of the apostolic commitment,” highlighting “the growing number of vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, the widespread presence of religious institutions, and the existence of many centers of study and formation.”
However, the Pope said that "the increase in moral deterioration [is] present in many different forms and affects the most varied areas of personal, family and social life, thereby undermining the intrinsic importance of moral conduct and putting the authenticity of faith in serious danger.”
He said that the phenomenon was “a result, in part, of ideologies that deny human beings the capacity to clearly know what is right and to put it into practice.”
The Holy Father said that responding to the challenge requires "Proclaiming justice, truth, fidelity and love of one's neighbor, in all their specific implications” which "is inherent to announcing the Gospel in its entirety. ... This teaching, complete and in full agreement with the moral doctrine of the Church, will be much more fruitful if it is united with personal example, constant unity with the faithful, and tireless courage."
"Assuming one's own obligations,” said the Pope, “is a necessary requirement for affirming the true dignity of the person, which generates interior peace and then extends to one's surroundings, especially to institutions, when they are founded on an authentic spirit of service for the common good, and when they are administered with the criteria of equality, justice, honesty and truth.”
He affirmed that "The need for organized Christian initiation, tailored to the cultural conditions of our times and to each place, ... is a priority, especially where the social climate does not promote the faith or where the channels of transmission or development - such as the family, school and the Christian community itself - break down."
The Holy Father encouraged the bishops in the face of violence and kidnappings – evils which originated in drug-trafficking and affect “all spheres of society” and "show, once again, the perversion which human baseness can reach when the moral perspective is lost in the interests of evil and when the most fundamental rights of man are not respected.
"In light of these facts," he concluded, "I share your pain and I appreciate all your efforts to stop violence, eliminate the causes and minimize its effects, while paying attention to the victims and tirelessly encouraging those who want to abandon the language of arms in order to take up the path of peaceful dialogue."