The Pope stated this today in an audience with prelates of the Syro-Malabar Church of India who are in Rome for their five-yearly "ad limina" visit.
Catholics in India belong to one of three rites: Latin, Syro-Malabar and Syro-Malankara. The Syro-Malabar Church is made up of about 3.5 million of the country's 16 million Catholics.
The Pontiff acknowledged that "the rapid and dramatic changes which are a part of contemporary society throughout the world bring with them not only serious challenges, but new possibilities to proclaim the liberating truth of the Gospel message to transform and elevate all human relationships."
"Your support, dear Brother Bishops, and that of your priests and communities for the sound and integral education of young people in the ways of chastity and responsibility will not only enable them to embrace the true nature of marriage, but will also benefit Indian culture as a whole," he affirmed.
He noted, "Unfortunately, the Church can no longer count on the support of society at large to promote the Christian understanding of marriage as a permanent and indissoluble union ordered to procreation and the sanctification of the spouses."
The Holy Father exhorted: "Have your families look to the Lord and his saving word for a complete and truly positive vision of life and marital relations, so necessary for the good of the whole human family.
"Let your preaching and catechesis in this field be patient and constant."
Benedict XVI also expressed appreciation for the "charity, faith and hard work" of the men and women religious "who by professing and living the evangelical counsels of poverty, chastity and obedience offer an example of complete devotion to the divine Master and thus help considerably to equip your faithful for every good work."
He continued, "The vocation to religious life and the pursuit of perfect charity is attractive in every age, but it should be nourished by a constant spiritual renewal which is to be fostered by superiors who devote great care to the human, intellectual and spiritual formation of their fellow religious."
"The Church insists that preparation for religious profession is to be marked by long and careful discernment with the goal of ensuring, before final vows are made, that each candidate is firmly rooted in Christ, solid in his or her capacity for genuine commitment and joyful in the gift of self to Jesus Christ and his Church," the Pope stated.
"Furthermore," he added, "by its nature, formation is never completed, but is ongoing and must be an integral part of the daily life of each individual and community."
The Pontiff encouraged the prelates, "in close collaboration with religious superiors, to plan effectively for such a solid ongoing formation, so that religious men and women continue to be powerful witnesses to the presence of God in the world and to our eternal destiny, so that the complete gift of self to God through religious life may shine with all its beauty and purity before men."--- --- ---
On ZENIT's Web page
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32254?l=english