Addressing the Bishops from Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and western Texas today, the Holy Father today reaffirmed the observation of Pope Paul VI, that 'the split between the Gospel and culture is undoubtedly the drama of our time.'
The Pope received the bishops on the occasion of their "ad limina" visit and told them he wished to reflect "on the pressing task you face of the evangelization of culture."
He stated that “the split between Gospel and culture is manifest today as a 'crisis of meaning'.”
“Ambiguous moral positions, the distortion of reason by particular interest groups, and the absolutizing of the subjective, are just some examples of a perspective of life which fails to seek truth itself and abandons the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of human existence," said the Pope.
The Holy Father underscored that "some today view Christianity as weighed down by structures and failing to respond to people's spiritual needs. Yet, far from being something merely institutional, the living center of your preaching of the Gospel is the encounter with our Lord himself."
The Pope then exhorted the bishops: "It is clear then that all your activities must be directed towards the proclamation of Christ. Indeed, your duty of personal integrity renders contradictory any separation between mission and life.”
“I urge you therefore to be close to your priests and people”, said the Pope. “Inspired by the great Pastors who have gone before us, like Saint Charles Borromeo, your visiting and careful listening to your brother priests and the faithful, and your direct contact with the marginalized, will be 'quasi anima episcopalis regiminis'."
John Paul II noted that "in the wake of increasing secularism and fragmentation of knowledge, 'new forms of poverty' have arisen, particularly in cultures which enjoy material well-being, that reflect a 'despair at the lack of meaning in life'.”
“Distrust of the human being's great capacity for knowledge, the acceptance of 'partial and provisional truths', and the senseless pursuit of novelty, all point to the ever more difficult task of conveying to people - especially the young - an understanding of the very foundation and purpose of human life," said the Pope.
Pointing to "the wondrous array of charisms" proper to Religious Institutes, he said that their commitment to "the apostolate of 'intellectual charity," that is, "promotion of excellence in schools, commitment to scholarship, and articulation of the relationship between faith and culture" is "particularly important in cultures undermined by secularism."
On the "prophetic mission of the laity," the Pope said that "over the last forty or so years, while political attention to human subjectivity has focused on individual rights, in the public domain there has been a growing reluctance to acknowledge that all men and women receive their essential and common dignity from God and with it the capacity to move towards truth and goodness.”
The Holy Father continued: “Detached from this vision of the fundamental unity and purpose of the whole human family, rights are at times reduced to self-centered demands: the growth of prostitution and pornography in the name of adult choice, the acceptance of abortion in the name of women's rights, the approval of same sex unions in the name of homosexual rights.”
"In the face of such erroneous yet pervasive thinking" he concluded, "you must do everything possible to encourage the laity in their 'special responsibility' for 'evangelizing culture ... and promoting Christian values in society and public life'."