Vatican City, May 24, 2012 / 14:48 pm
Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops of Italy today that personal holiness is an indispensable first step to reconverting their country and the Western world to Christianity.
"The fundamental condition in order to be able to speak about God is to speak with God, increasingly to become men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and molded by his grace,” the Pope said on May 24.
He encouraged his fellow bishops to allow themselves “to be found and seized by God so as to help the people we meet be touched by the Truth.”
Pope Benedict made his remarks to the participants of the 64th General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, which is being held May 21--25.
The Italian bishops gathered in the Vatican’s Synod Hall, where they heard the Pope lament how for many people in the West, God has “become the great Unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past.”
The Pope said that this is resulting in people no longer understanding the “profound value “ of the “spiritual and moral patrimony” that the West’s roots are in and that “is its lifeblood.” What was once “fertile land,” he said, is now at risk of “becoming a barren desert and the good seed (is in danger) of being suffocated, trampled on and lost.”
Even many baptized people in the West “have lost their identity” and “do not know the essential contents of the faith, or they believe they can cultivate faith without ecclesial mediation,” he warned the bishops.
The practical impact of this, Pope Benedict said, is that while many baptized “look doubtfully at Church teaching,” others have reduced “the Kingdom of God to certain broad values, which are certainly related to the Gospel but which do not touch the central nucleus of Christian faith.”