Today, the Canadian Bishops continued their ad-limina visit. The Holy Father received prelates from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and Atlantic Assembly.
At the beginning of his address, the Pope noted how "Canada is today suffering from the pervasive effects of secularism. One of the more dramatic symptoms of this mentality, clearly evident in your own region, is the plummeting birth rate."
"Ecclesial leadership bears much fruit when, in its concern for the common good, it generously seeks to support civil authorities in their task of promoting regeneration in the community," Pope Benedict declared.
Turning to the question of pastoral care, the Pope noted how "with aging clergy and many isolated communities the challenges are great."
He also highlighted the importance of Catholic education, calling on the bishops "to ensure that the intrinsic relationship between the Church's Magisterium, individuals' faith, and testimony in public life is preserved and promoted. Only in this way can we hope to overcome the debilitating split between the Gospel and culture."
"Of notable importance are your catechists," he added, "Teaching the faith cannot be reduced to a mere transmission of 'things' or words or even a body of abstract truths. The Church's Tradition is alive!"
On this same subject of catechization, he called on "the young adults of your dioceses to take up the rewarding challenge of catechetical service and share in the satisfaction of handing on the faith. Their example of Christian witness to those younger than themselves will strengthen their own faith, while bringing to others the happiness that flows from the sense of purpose and meaning in life which the Lord reveals."
The Pontiff called for “the pastoral promotion of sanctity." This, he added, may be achieved by "an authentic education in prayer, a knowledge of the lives of the saints and of the multiple forms of spirituality that beautify and stimulate Church life, assiduous participation in the Sacrament of Penance, and a convincing catechesis of Sunday as 'day of the faith'."
"Remain vigilant in your duty to promote a culture of vocation,” he concluded.