VATICAN CITY, 10 NOV 2009 (VIS) - Made public today was a Message from the Holy Father addressed to participants in the sixtieth general assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference (CEI), which is being held this week in the Italian town of Assisi.
Reiterating the theme of the "urgent task of education", about which he had spoken to the Italian prelates last May, the Pope explains that this "concerns all sectors of the Church and means that the great questions of the modern age must be faced with decision: the question concerning the nature of man and his dignity (a decisive element in the complete formation of the person), and the 'question of God' which seems ever more pressing in our own times".
Benedict XVI also repeats words he pronounced this summer in the cathedral of Aosta, Italy: "If our fundamental relationship with God is not living, if it is not lived, then none of our other relationships can take their correct form. ... If we do without God, if God is absent, we lack the compass ... to show us the path, the direction we must follow. God! We must bring the truth of God back into the world, make Him known, make Him present".
The Holy Father goes on: "In order for this to happen we, first and foremost and with all our being, must become living adoration, a gift that changes the world and restores it to God. This is the profound message of the Year for Priests".
Turning then to consider the question of southern Italy, one of the themes due to be examined during the course of the assembly, the Pope notes how the prelates "felt the need to give voice and support to the needs of the country, which cannot hope to develop unless it is united. The Church's presence in the south is a seed for personal and social renewal, and for integral development", he says.
The Pope also dwells on another of the items on the agenda of the general assembly, that of the new Italian edition of the funeral rites. In this context, he concludes his Message by noting how "the funeral is an important moment in which to announce the Gospel of hope and to reveal the maternity of the Church. ... In a culture that tends to remove the idea of death - when, indeed, it does not seek to exorcise it by reducing it to a spectacle or transforming it into a right - it is the task of believers to shine the light of Christian revelation on that mystery".
MESS/.../CEI PLENARY ASSEMBLY VIS 20091110 (440)