.- Speaking to the final group of Mexican bishops, in Rome for their 'ad limina' visit earlier today, Pope Benedict XVI encouraged prelates from the regions of Acapulco, Antequera and Yucatan to make the Gospel message and charity the cement which will build up "authentic human and community development" in that country. In his address, the Pope stressed the centrality of the bishop's teaching mission, namely through the transmission the Gospel "with its moral and religious values." He highlighted the need to bear in mind "the various situations and aspirations arising from contemporary society, the situation of which the pastors must know well."
"It is important", he said, "that special efforts be made to explain properly the reasons for the Church's position, stressing that it is not a case of imposing on non-believers a vision based on faith, but of interpreting and defending the values rooted in the very nature of the human person'."
"At the same time," he continued, "the pastors of the Church in Mexico must pay special attention ... to the most unprotected groups and to the poor. ... From the Gospel, the appropriate response is to promote the solidarity and peace that make justice truly possible. For this reason the Church seeks effective collaboration in order to eradicate all forms of marginalization, orienting Christians to practice justice and peace. In this context, encourage those with greater resources to share them."
The prelates, Pope Benedict said, need "not only to alleviate the most serious needs, but to go to the roots thereof, proposing measures to give social, political and economic structures a fairer and more charitable configuration."
"In this way," he said, "charity will be at the service of culture, politics, economy and the family, and will become the cement for authentic human and community development."
Pastoral care and festive celebration
The Holy Father noted the joy and festivity which often characterize religious expression in Mexico, and explained that the bishops must "orient this particular feature, so common among the Mexican faithful, towards a solid and mature faith, one capable of forming a way of life in keeping with what is so joyfully professed. This will also intensify the growing missionary drive of Mexicans."
He also pointed out that in Mexico, "the genius of women is frequently apparent," and identified "one challenge of our times" as "changing people's mentality so that women are treated with full dignity in all fields, protecting their unique mission to be mothers and the first educators of their children."
Pope Benedict went on to stress that the pastoral care of young people "is an important task. ... Many of them have the false idea that taking on commitment and making definitive decisions means loss of freedom."
"On the contrary," he said, "they should be reminded that men and women become free when they unconditionally commit themselves to truth and goodness. Only thus is it possible to discover a meaning to life and to build something great and lasting, if they have Jesus Christ as the center of their lives."
The Holy Father closed his address by calling on the bishops "to go forward and act harmoniously, in a spirit of communion that has its peak and its never-ending source in the Eucharist." In this light, he mentioned the recent International Eucharistic Congress of Guadalajara, which, he said, "left a profound impression on the faithful, an impression which must be maintained as a treasure of shared and celebrated faith."