Pope Benedict XVI tells Latin America bishops: Defend family and promote priestly vocations

.- In message sent to bishops gathered in Lima for the 50th anniversary of the Latin America Bishops Conference, Pope Benedict XVI exhorted them to defend marriage and the Christian family from “ideologies and practices” that undermine their foundations and to promote priestly vocations. 

Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America read the message to the more than 100 bishops and hundreds of invited guests present for the meeting.

In his greeting, the Pope exhorted the bishops to reflect upon “the pastoral care of the family, under assault in our times by grave challenges represented by the different ideologies and practices that undermine the very foundations of marriage and the Christian family.”

“A special emphasis must be placed on family catechesis and on the promotion of a positive and correct vision of marriage and conjugal morality, thus contributing to the formation of genuinely Christian families who stand out for their living of the Gospel values.  The Christian family, a true domestic church, should also be the seed bed of abundant and holy vocations,” the Pontiff wrote.

Promotion of vocations

In his message Pope Benedict called on CELAM to give “particular support to the promotion of vocations so that they might be numerous and holy.”

“Looking towards the future, CELAM should continue offering its important contribution and decisive support in this area in order to teach how to discover the signs of the call and to provide follow-up to the response,” he noted.

The Holy Father recalled the history of CELAM, which was instituted by Pope Pius XII for the purpose of “supporting the pastoral work of bishops and at the same time responding to some of the grave problems facing the Church in Latin America.”

 “During its half-century of existence, CELAM has offered its service to the episcopates of the countries of Latin America, helping them in an ecclesial spirit to unite efforts in facing the challenges of the Latin American subcontinent and pledging in episcopal communion to provide vigor to what in the course of time has come to be called the new evangelization,” the Pope stated.

He also noted that, “In its mission to promote collaboration between bishops and between bishops and the Holy See and in this way to help collegial fondness to grow, CELAM seeks to increase the spirit of communion, of mutual charity in the internal life of the Church.”

The Pope asked that, “In the very exercise of ministry this unity in charity must shine forth between pastors, between pastors and those consecrated in religious life and between these same persons who live their consecration within the charism proper to their community.  In all this, we must keep in mind the model of our Savior who came into this world not to be served, but to serve.”

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