Pope exhorts Rwandans to remain strong despite past violence

.- On Saturday, Pope Benedict recieved eight bishops from Rwanda, who are concluding their "ad limina" visits, and told them to "exhort priests and the faithful, harshly tried by the 1994 genocide and its consequences, to remain strong in the faith and to persevere in the hope given by the Risen Christ, while overcoming every temptation to discouragement." The Holy Father said that, "To work actively for peace and reconciliation, you are notably promoting a pastoral ministry of closeness, based on the commitment of small communities of lay people to the missionary work of the Church, in harmony with her pastors.”

“I encourage you”, he said, “to support these communities so that the faithful welcome the truths of the faith and its demands, thus developing a stronger ecclesial and spiritual life, so that they do not allow themselves to be turned away from the Gospel of Christ, notably by the numerous sects present in the country."

Pope Benedict stressed the need for the bishops "to work ceaselessly so that the Gospel penetrates ever more deeply into the hearts and lives of believers, inviting the faithful to assume their responsibilities in society, especially in the fields of economy and politics, with a moral sense nourished by the Gospel and the Church's social doctrine."

Pointing out that much of Rwanda’s clergy is becoming native-born, the Holy Father said, "I would like to honor the patient work done by missionaries to proclaim Christ and His Gospel, and to have created the Christian communities entrusted to you today."

He likewise, urged the bishops to closely support their priests, being attentive to their ongoing formation and "to their conditions of life and the exercise of their mission." May your priests, he concluded, "remain faithful to the demands of their state and live their priesthood as a true path of holiness!"

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