Thursday morning saw Pope Benedict receive bishops from Honduras as they completed their “ad limina” visit. The Pontiff exhorted the prelates to continue their work to promote the truth about marriage in their country.
Recalling that the Honduran people "is characterized by a profound religious spirit which finds expression, among other things, in the numerous and deep-rooted practices of popular devotion,” the Pope noted that this character faces challenges. Most notable among the challenges are “the spread of secularism and the proselytism of sects,” Benedict said.
These trials should not lead to discouragement, said the Holy Father. Rather, they should “serve as a stimulus for a bold and far- reaching effort of evangelization, founded - rather than on the effectiveness of material means and human plans - on the power of the Word of God, faithfully accepted, humbly experienced and trustingly announced."
Calling the formation of priests to announce the Gospel “priceless,” the Pope also emphasized the importance of good formation for seminarians.
The Pope then focused in on the topic of defending marriage and the family, saying that the “solidity and stability” of the two foundational institutions “is such a benefit to the Church and society.” “In this respect, it is right to recognize the important step taken by including an explicit recognition of marriage in your country's Constitution, although you well know it is not enough to possess good legislation if then we do not undertake the necessary cultural and catechetical labors that highlight "the truth and beauty of marriage, a perpetual alliance of life and love between a man and a woman,” Benedict XVI said.
Charity was also highlighted as an important role for the bishops to cultivate. As “successors of the Apostles," the Holy Father said, bishops must be "the foremost leaders of this service of charity in the particular Churches."
"I well know how you are affected by the poverty in which so many of your fellow citizens live, and by the increase in violence, emigration, environmental destruction, corruption and shortcomings in education, alongside other serious problems. As ministers of the Good Shepherd you have - through word and deed - worked intensely to assist the needy,” the Pope noted.
I exhort you," he concluded, "to continue through your ministry to show the merciful face of God, strengthening the network of charity in your diocesan and parish communities with particular concern for the sick, the elderly and the imprisoned."