· In his Discourse to the General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference Benedict XVI points out the pastoral approach for our time ·
To continue together in the renewal of the Church begun by the Second Vatican Council
The “ancient and new mission” that the Pope announced to participants in the General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference at the Audience on Thursday morning, 24 May, in the Vatican's Synod Hall, is to speak to the world once again of a God who “for many people has become the great Unknown”. To do this, the Pontiff said, what we need above all is a determined “renewal of the quality of our faith and of our prayer”. In fact, the first condition for “speaking of God” is “speaking with God”, devoting the whole of our life “to what is truly trustworthy, necessary and essential”. In other words we must aim “for the essence of faith” if we are “to offer a meaningful response to the great social and cultural transformations of our time”.
In this perspective the Pope invited the prelates to continue together in the “ecclesial renewal that the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council entrusted to us”. Its “authoritative instructions”, he recommended, should be received “dynamically and faithfully” in the perspective of the “hermeneutic of continuity and of reform” that he himself suggested in his discourse to the Roman Curia on 22 December 2005.
Moreover, for Benedict XVI “the crisis that is injuring Europe” today is essentially “spiritual and moral, for which reason “new methods of Gospel proclamation and pastoral action do not suffice”. Rather, just as the Council Fathers did 50 years ago – it is necessary “to start afresh from God”, letting ourselves be found and grasped by him so that we may “help every person we encounter to be reached by the Truth”. This is the very goal that the Year of Faith – which will begin next 11 October – is aiming for: a period in which to lead men and women back to “a renewed encounter with Jesus”, showing them that “God is the guarantee and not the rival of our happiness”.
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