Pope Benedict sets priorities

Zenit news has the text of the Pope's address to the Brazilian Bishops yesterday. There are 400 Brazilian Bishops - I think I heard that this was the largest Bishops' Conference in the world. Several bloggers have already commented on this speech and Fr Z has a copy of the speech in which he has highlighted some elements in bold. Fr Ray Blake suggests that it is really addressed to all the Bishops of the world. There are lots of good things in the speech. I will just focus on a few.

The Holy Father clearly sets out the first priority of the mission of the Church:
"The mission entrusted to us as teachers of the faith consists in recalling, in the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, that our Saviour "desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1 Tim 2:4). This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church: the salvation of individual souls."
He makes some important points about those who have "abandoned the life of the Church" and emphasises the centrality of the sacramental life of the Church:
"As Pastors, it is your primary task to ensure that the faithful share in the eucharistic life and in the Sacrament of Reconciliation."
He goes on to reiterate that General Absolution should only be given in cases of physical or moral impossibility. (How many times does this have to be said?)

On catechesis itself, he says,
"It is therefore clear that the catechist’s task is not simply to communicate faith-experiences; rather—under the guidance of the Pastor—it is to be an authentic herald of revealed truths."
The Holy Father affirms that
"At this time, there is an urgent need for an adequate knowledge of the faith as it is presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and its accompanying Compendium."
and he emphasises the Bishop's responsiblity to ensure that the sacred character of the liturgy is "restored" by boserving liturgical norms with fidelity.

On the responsibility of the Bishop for doctrine, he says:
"Indeed, "within the particular Churches, it is the Bishop’s responsibility to guard and interpret the word of God and to make authoritative judgments as to what is or is not in conformity with it" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian, 19). As the primary Teacher of faith and doctrine, the Bishop will rely on collaboration with the theologian, who, in order "to be faithful to his role of service to the truth, must take into account the proper mission of the Magisterium and collaborate with it" (ibid., 20). The duty to preserve the deposit of faith and safeguard its unity calls for strict vigilance so that the faith may be "preserved and handed down with fidelity and so that particular insights are clearly integrated into the one Gospel of Christ" (Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops, 126)."
Regarding ecumenism, he speaks of an "aggressive proselytism" of some sects that makes ecumenism "more complex". Setting priorities for ecumenism, he says:
"The greatest area of common ground for collaboration should be the defence of fundamental moral values—transmitted by the biblical tradition—against the relativistic and consumerist cultural forces that seek to destroy them. Another such area is faith in God the Creator and in Jesus Christ his incarnate Son."

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