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Proclaim Christ, avoid syncretism: papal address to Indian bishops

Catholic World News - May 17, 2011

Describing India as a “home to various ancient religions, including Christianity,” Pope Benedict urged a group of Latin-rite bishops from India to promote a culture of religious freedom and tolerance, avoid “semblances of syncretism,” and proclaim Christ.

Speaking to the bishops on their ad limina visit to Rome, the Pontiff said:

Today, as in every age, the apostolic mandate finds its source and its central focus in the proclamation of the Incarnate Son of God, who is the fullness of divine revelation and "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn. 14:6). The Savior of all creation, he is the bearer of Good News for all and the fulfillment of man’s deepest yearnings. The definitive revelation of God which comes to us in Jesus Christ and which believers throughout the world joyfully proclaim is expressed in a particular way in the sacred Scriptures and in the sacramental life of the Church.

Christ’s saving power is also proclaimed in the lives of the saints who have wholeheartedly taken up the Gospel message and lived it faithfully among their brothers and sisters. Christian revelation, when accepted in freedom and by the working of God’s grace, transforms men and women from within and establishes a wonderful, redemptive relationship with God our heavenly Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit. This is the heart of the message we teach, this is the great gift we offer in charity to our neighbor: a share in the very life of God.

“Within the Church, believers’ first steps along the way of Christ must always be accompanied by a sound catechesis that will allow them to flourish in faith, love and service,” he added. “Recognizing that catechesis is distinct from theological speculation, priests, religious and lay catechists need to know how to communicate with clarity and loving devotion the life-transforming beauty of Christian living and teaching, which will enable and enrich the encounter with Christ himself. This is especially true of the preparation of the faithful to meet our Lord in the sacraments.”

1.6% of India’s 1.15 billion people are Catholic, according to Vatican statistics. While India has only 18.8 million Catholics--far fewer than Brazil, the Philippines, or the United States--the country has more seminarians and women religious than any other nation in the world.

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