To Bishops: Promote a New Flowering of Vocations

VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2003 (VIS) - Today at 1:45 p.m. the Holy Father ate lunch in the seminary of Banska Bystrica with bishops from the Slovak Episcopal Conference - which commemorates the 10th anniversary of its constitution on September 15 - and with cardinals and bishops from his entourage. At present there are 19 Slovak bishops: 9 ordinary, 7 auxiliary, 1 coadjutor and 2 emeritus. There are two cardinals: Jan Chryzostom Korec, S.J., bishop of Nitra and Jozef Tomko, prefect emeritus of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

In a message that he gave them at the end of the gathering, the Pope writes: «The Church of God in Slovakia, after the dark days of persecution and silence, during which it offered a shining witness of faithfulness to the Gospel, has been able in these last years to take up again its activities and to provide itself with those structures that are necessary for the free exercise of its mission.»

«You are committed overall,» he continues, «to the renewal of Christian life at different levels. The results we are seeing are comforting. Many people have rediscovered the evangelic courage to declare openly their Catholic faith. ... The apostolic work ? carried out under your guidance by so many zealous priests, religious men and women, and committed lay people ? is bearing fruits.»

«I exhort you to continue courageously along the path you have begun. Human and spiritual formation, together with an adequate cultural preparation, must be the object of special concern in seminaries and religious houses so as to offer to the Church and to the world priests and consecrated persons who can be humble and ardent apostles of the Gospel. ... The urgent task of promoting a new flowering of priestly and religious vocations is to be undertaken. In fact, the future of the Church in Slovakia depends on this.»

John Paul II asks the bishops to take special care of the family, «the temple of love and life. Proclaim and defend the unity and indissolubility of marriage. Look with love on young people who are the present and future of the Church and society. Cultivate an open dialogue with the world of culture.»

«Take care of the weak and the poor. ... With pastoral solicitude, be close to the unemployed. Take upon yourselves their difficult situation and encourage all areas of society to seek possible ways to create new jobs.»

The Holy Father concludes: «The Pope knows that the Episcopal ministry brings with it thorns and crosses that often remain hidden in the secret of the heart. But he also knows, as do you, that in the mysterious design of Providence, these sufferings are the guarantee of fruitfulness of an apostolate that, with God's help, will produce abundant results. Do not become discouraged! Do not let yourselves be overcome by difficulties and fatigue. Rely always on the support of God's grace.»

The Pope is scheduled to leave the seminary in late afternoon, before which he will greet some seminarians as well as a group of representatives from other Churches and Christian confessions in the country and seminarians. Later he will return to Bratislava by plane to spend the night in the apostolic nunciature.

Vatican Information Service
12. september 2003

av Webmaster publisert 12.09.2003, sist endret 12.09.2003 - 21:06