Vatican City, 9 June 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received in audience prelates from the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Papua New Guinea and Solomon Islands, who have just completed their "ad limina" visit. Speaking English, he began by highlighting how the Church provides for the basic needs of the poor, the marginalised and the sick, especially those suffering from HIV/AIDS, through the work of diocesan agencies. He also noted that the bishops exercise an important aspect of their pastoral ministry when they "speak publicly as an objective moral voice on behalf of those in need".
The Holy Father went on: "When the Church voices her concern in the public square, she does so legitimately and in order to contribute to the common good, not proposing concrete political solutions, but rather helping to 'purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles'. Such principles are accessible to all through right reason and are necessary for the just ordering of civil society. In view of this, I encourage you to continue to dialogue and to work with the civil authorities so that the Church may be free to speak and to provide services for the common good in a manner fully consonant with Gospel values".
In their reports the bishops had spoked of spoken of pastoral efforts aimed at the evangelisation of culture. "This", the Holy Father noted, "is of great importance since the human person can 'achieve true and full humanity only by means of culture'. We also observe the essential role of culture in salvation history, since the Triune God gradually revealed Himself in time, culminating in the sending of His only Son, Who Himself was born into a particular culture".
Moreover, "while acknowledging the respective contribution of each culture and at times calling upon its resources in fulfilling her mission, the Church has been sent to preach the Gospel to all nations, transcending man-made boundaries. In the work of evangelisation then, my brother bishops, continue to apply the eternal truths of the Gospel to the customs of the people whom you serve, in order to build upon the positive elements already present and to purify others when necessary. In this way, you play your part in the Church’s mission to lead people of every nation, race and language to Jesus Christ the Saviour in Whom we find revealed the fullness and truth of humanity".
The family plays a key role in this aspect of evangelisation, since it is "the first place where faith and culture are appropriated. Although society has recognised the important role of the family throughout history, particular attention needs to be given at the present time to the religious, social and moral goods of fidelity, equality and mutual respect that must exist between husband and wife. The Church tirelessly proclaims that the family is based on the natural institution of marriage between a man and a woman and, in the case of baptised Christians, it is a covenant which has been raised by Christ to the supernatural level of a Sacrament". Commending the prelates' efforts to give pastoral priority to the evangelisation of marriage and the family in accordance with Catholic moral teaching, the Pope also recalled Blessed Peter To Rot, the centenary of whose birth is currently being celebrated and "who shed his blood in defence of the sanctity of marriage".
Finally the Holy Father turned his attention to the importance of "a properly catechised laity and well formed clergy and religious" in order that they may "resist the temptations of the secular world" and "be wise enough not to be deceived by attempts to convert them to overly simplistic versions of Christianity that are often based solely on false promises of material prosperity. ... These witnesses and those they teach, with your guidance and support, will help to ensure that the Church in your countries will continue to be an effective instrument of evangelisation, attracting those who do not yet know Christ and inspiring those who have become lukewarm in their faith".