Video courtesy of Rome Reports
And this report from EWTN News.
VATICAN CITY, 3 MAR 2011 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received a group of prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit.
Addressing them in English, the Pope mentioned the pastoral challenges confronting the country. "Among them, one of the most important is the task of ongoing catechetical formation. The deep personal piety of your people needs to be nourished and supported by a profound understanding of and appreciation for the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals. Indeed, these elements are required in order for the human heart to give its full and proper response to God", he said.
The Holy Father likewise called on the bishops not to fail to include "outreach to families" in their catechesis, "with particular care for parents in their role as the first educators of their children in the faith". [that is why I really believe in holding Sunday catechetical classes in parishes. We had that before, back in the '80s and then pufft!]
"As diocesan bishops you never face any challenge alone, being assisted first and foremost by your clergy", Pope Benedict XVI remarked, going on to highlight the prelates' "particular duty to know your priests well and to guide them with sincere concern, while priests are always to be prepared to fulfil humbly and faithfully the tasks entrusted to them". ["I know my sheep and my sheep know me." says the Lord. Bishops are shepherds after the Heart of the Savior, and they must follow the Good Shepherd, in word and deed.]
"Many of your dioceses already have in place programmes of continuing formation for young priests", he said, noting how "older priests who have proven themselves to be faithful servants of the Lord ... can guide their younger confreres along the path towards a mature and well-balanced way of priestly living. [We just have to be sure that the older priests do not belong to the "hippie type", "Spirit of Vatican 2" die hards!]
"Moreover", the Pope added, "priests of all ages require ongoing care. Regular days of recollection, yearly retreats and convocations, as well as programmes for continuing education and assistance for priests who may be facing difficulties, are to be promoted. I am confident that you will also find ways to support those priests whose assignments leave them isolated".
"In accordance with their solemn promises at ordination, remind your priests of their commitment to celibacy, obedience, and an ever greater dedication to pastoral service. [Big words if you ask me, as I know a lot who failed and a lot more who are still struggling to keep their vows. That is why priests need our prayers.] In living out their promises, these men will become true spiritual fathers with a personal and psychological maturity that will grow to mirror the paternity of God". [Priests are always tempted. Pray for them!]
The Holy Father then went on to emphasise that "dialogue with other religions remains a high priority, especially in the southern areas of your country. While the Church proclaims without fail that Christ is the way, the truth, and the life, nevertheless she respects all that is true and good in other religions, and she seeks, with prudence and charity, to enter into an honest and amicable dialogue with the followers of those religions whenever possible. In doing so, the Church works toward mutual understanding and the advancement of the common good of humanity. [Unfortunately, the Islamists do not have a common good, and unfortunately these radicals are already in our shores.] I commend you for the work you have already done and I encourage you, by means of the dialogue that has been established, to continue to promote the path to true and lasting peace with all of your neighbours, never failing to treat each person, no matter his or her beliefs, as created in the image of God". [Now this is the true Christian love called on by Christ! Just do not compromise your Faith.]
And the Pope concluded: "The greatest good that we can offer those whom we serve is given to us in the Eucharist. In the Holy Mass, the faithful receive the grace needed to be transformed in Jesus Christ. It is heartening that many Filipinos attend Sunday Mass, but this does not leave room for complacency on your part as shepherds. It is your task, and that of your priests, never to grow weary in pursuing the lost sheep, making sure that all the faithful draw life from the great gift given to us in the sacred Mysteries". [The Holy Father should have reminded the bishops to be vigilant in putting a stop to liturgical abuses.]