(13 Mar 08 - RV) Pope Benedict XVI addressed bishops from the Caribbean nation of
Haiti Thursday at the end of their Ad Limina pilgrimage to Rome.
country in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti has been plagued by political violence for
most of its history. The Holy Father began his address to the nation’s bishops with
an appeal for solidarity and reconciliation.
“Your country has known painful
times” he said “which the Church has watched with increasing attention: divisions,
injustices, poverty, famine, all a source of deep concern for your people. I ask
the Lord to fill the hearts of Haitians, above all those in positions of responsibility
with the courage to promote reconciliation and change, so the island’s inhabitants
may know a dignified life and reap the benefits of the land, in an atmosphere of solidarity”.
Benedict urged the international community to persevere and intensify its aid to Haiti,
enabling the people of this island nation to help themselves and develop a future.
Pope then turned to the bishops’ five yearly report, which during the course of the
week the prelates have presented to the Pope. Chief among their concerns, noted Pope
Benedict was the progressive loss of the sense of marriage and the family: “Family
life has been seriously destabilised by the current crises” he said “as well as attempts
to place it on a level with other forms of union”.
The Pope said that the
church must help society protect and develop the family, because it is in the family
that the true nature of man is formed and relationship skills learned. In this respect
he said youth formation is essential. The Holy Father encouraged the bishops to emphasise
education, he pointed out the important role of the Catholic schools and colleges
which are appreciated by the authorities and population. These institutions along
with the priceless collaboration of priests as pastors in the community must accompany
the future generation of Haitians in their Human, Moral and Spiritual formation.
In this regards the Pope pointed to the encyclical Fidei Donum, and invited
the bishops to welcome the support of the Churches from other nations, who have experienced
educators available to accompany the Church in Haiti at this crucial turning point
in the country’s history. Pope Benedict XVI emphasised the future of the Church
in Haiti depends upon this.
Concluding the Holy Father asked the bishops’ to
carry a message from him to all of the young men and women of Haiti. Tell them he
said that the Pope has confidence in them, that them that the Pope knows their generosity
and understands their desire to rebuild their lives. Tell them he said that they
are a source of joy for the Pope. Any country which wants to develop, a church that
wants to become more dynamic then must concentrate all of its efforts on the young.