12:55 - BENEDICT XVI: TO ITALIAN BISHOPS: LET US RENEW THE QUALITY OF OUR FAITH
Today the spiritual and moral heritage which lies at the roots of the West and which is its vital sap, is no longer understood in its profound significance, to the point that we can no longer grasp its truth. Even a fruitful land runs the risk of becoming an inhospitable desert and the good seed of being choked, trampled on, and lost: Benedict XVI said this today upon receiving in audience in the Vatican the Italian bishops who are participating in their 64th general assembly. Having recalled the service carried out by the bishops for the common good of the Italian nation, in fruitful dialogue with the civil authorities, Benedict XVI analysed the current situation, marked by great social and cultural transformations which have visible consequences in the religious sphere too. In this regard, he drew attention to the drop in religious practice, especially participation in the Eucharist, and even more, in the Sacrament of Penance. Many baptized have lost their identity and sense of belonging: they do not know the essential contents of the faith, or believe they can cultivate the faith without ecclesial mediation. And while many look doubtfully at the truth proclaimed by the Church, others reduce the Kingdom of God to certain broad values, which are certainly related to the Gospel, but which do not touch the central nucleus of the Christian faith. (continued)
12:55 - BENEDICT XVI: TO ITALIAN BISHOPS: LET US RENEW THE QUALITY OF OUR FAITH (2)
At a time in which, for many people, God has become the great Unknown and Jesus simply an important figure of the past, we cannot re-launch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer: so the Pope invited the Italian bishops to commit themselves in the spiritual field to offer adequate answers to people who are distant from God. For this reason - he added - I decided to proclaim the ‘Year of Faith which will begin on 11 October 2012, to rediscover and welcome again this precious gift which is faith, to gain an ever deeper knowledge of the truths which are the lifeblood of our lives. The new evangelisation needs adults who are ‘mature in faith and witnesses of humanity - the Pontiff continued, encouraging the bishops to make sure that the Christian community knows how to form adults in the faith because they have met Jesus Christ who has become a fundamental reference in their lives. In this regard, he recalled the 50th anniversary of the Council, as well as the need to gain an accurate knowledge of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, whose 20th anniversary of publication is celebrated this year. The new evangelisation - he concluded - must refer to the doctrine of the Council and the Church must be free to bear witness to a true experience of communion to live in service of charity.