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Pope's Q&A Session With Members of Roman Clergy (Part 2)

3/26/2006 - 7:00 AM PST

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"The World Is Changing at an Ever Faster Pace"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2006 (Zenit) - Benedict XVI addressed members of the Roman clergy on March 2, in the Hall of Blessings.

After a greeting by Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar of Rome, the Pope responded to questions and statements by 10 priests, and later responded to the interventions of five other priests.

Below is Part 2 of a synopsis of the 15 questions and a translation of the Holy Father's responses. Part 1 of this synopsis, published by the Holy See, appear Saturday on Catholic Online.

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9. The feast of the holy patrons of my parish, the Holy Martyrs of Uganda, is celebrated on June 3. I praise God for this pastoral experience. May more people join in prayer in and for Africa.

Benedict XVI: Then, the Martyrs of Uganda. Thank you for your contribution. You remind us of the African continent, which is the great hope of the Church.

In recent months I have received the majority of the African bishops on their "ad limina" visits. I found it very edifying and comforting to see bishops of a high theological and cultural standard. They are zealous bishops, truly enlivened by the joy of faith. We know that this Church is in good hands, but that she still suffers because the nations are not yet formed.

In Europe it was precisely through Christianity that, in addition to the ethnic groups that existed, the great bodies of nations, the great languages were formed, and thus communion of cultures and places of peace, although later, these great areas of peace, in opposition to one another, created a new sort of war that had previously not existed.

However, in many parts of Africa we still have this situation where there are above all dominant ethnic groups. The colonial power then imposed boundaries within which nations now have to develop.

But there is still the difficulty of finding oneself in a great mass and of discovering, in addition to the ethnic groups, the unity of democratic government as well as the possibility of opposing forms of colonial abuse that continue. Africa still continues to be the object of abuse by the great powers, and many conflicts would not have taken this form if the interests of these great powers had not been behind them.

Thus, I have also seen how, in all this confusion, the Church with her Catholic unity is the great factor that unites in dispersion. In many situations, especially now, after the great war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Church has remained the one reality which functions and makes life continue, which provides the necessary assistance, guarantees coexistence and helps to find the possibility of creating one great solution.

In this sense, in these situations, the Church also carries out a service that replaces the political level, giving the possibility of living together and of rebuilding communion after destruction and of rebuilding, after the outburst of hatred, the spirit of reconciliation. Many people have told me that precisely in these situations, the sacrament of penance is of great importance as a force of reconciliation and must also be administered with this in view.

In a word, I wanted to say that Africa is a continent of great hope, of great faith, of moving ecclesial realities, of zealous priests and bishops. But it has always been a continent which, after the destruction we brought to it from Europe, needs our brotherly help. And this cannot but be born from faith that also creates universal love, over and above human divisions.

This is our great responsibility in this epoch. Europe has exported its ideologies, its interests, but has also exported, with the mission, the factor of healing.

Today, we are especially responsible for having a zealous faith that is communicated, that wants to help others, that is aware that giving faith does not mean introducing an alienating power but means giving the true gift that human beings need precisely in order to be creatures of love.

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10. I see with concern the situation in Rome, especially the plight of young people and adolescents "on the fringe of humanity," many of whom do not go to church. I believe that priests, lay people and religious should be closer to our faithful, especially youth, and we should put our charisms at the service of catechesis.

Benedict XVI: A last point was touched on by the Carmelite parochial vicar of St. Teresa of Avila who has rightly revealed his worries to us.

A simple and superficial optimism which does not discern the great threats to youth, children and families today would certainly be erroneous. We must perceive with great realism these threats that come into being wherever God is absent.

We must be ...

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