Pope Urges Belarus Church to Unity

(17 Dec 09 - RV) Pope Benedict met with bishops from Belarus Thursday at the conclusion of their Ad Limina visit.

In his discourse, the Pope recommended a renewed witness to unity, the fostering of relations with the civil authority, ecumenical relations and dialogue with other cultures and religions.

The Bishops were led by Msgr. Aleksander Kaskiewicz, president of the Bishops' Conference of the former Soviet Union nation.

Pope Benedict XVI encouraged Belarusians to "proclaim with renewed and incisive enthusiasm the perennial message of the Gospel in a society - he stressed - which is not immune to the temptations of secularism, hedonism and relativism," seen in the falling birth rate, the fragility of families, the illusion of finding fortune by emigrating.

Faced with these challenges the pastors of the Church must have "the power of faith," "rooted in a solid tradition," preserving "the profound Christian identity of the nation, in respectful dialogue with other cultures and religions".

The Pope recommended "special attention" to the "educational dimension" of young people as well as to "a solid and rigorous theological and spiritual formation" of candidates for the priesthood.

Pope Benedict then called for "concrete gestures" to affirm a brotherhood of peace, especially by invoking the "fraternal cooperation of the Orthodox Church of Belarus, whose pastors share" in a common commitment to the good of the faithful".


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