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Europe's 'rich soil' becoming 'inhospitable desert' for faith, Pope warns Italian bishops

Catholic World News - May 24, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI urged the Italian hierarchy to embrace the “new evangelization” as he addressed the 64th plenary assembly of the Italian bishops’ conference on May 24.

Speaking in unusually strong terms, the Holy Father characterized Europe as “wounded” by a flight from faith, and said that “a rich soil risks becoming an inhospitable desert.” He remarked that “many of the baptized have lost their identity and affiliation, and “they do not know the essential content of faith, or they think they can nourish it independently of the Church.”

"At a time in which God has, for many people, become the great Unknown and Jesus is simply an important figure of the past, we cannot relaunch missionary activity without renewing the quality of our own faith and prayer,” the Pope said. He explained that the first essential need of the new evangelization is a strong life of prayer, and that “the first condition to speak about God is to speak with God, becoming more and more men of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and shaped by his Grace.”

The Pontiff encouraged the bishops to help their people recognize that religious faith does not detract from personal freedom, but expands it. "God is the guarantor, not the competitor, of our freedom,” he said.

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  • Posted by: Father Fetus - May. 26, 2012 8:22 AM ET USA

    No wonder their economy is tanking. And so is ours here in the U.S. How great is our faith here? Are we better off than Europe in that department? Is it time to stop gloating over the Tower of Babel we have constructed here out of a plethora of quasi-Christian ecclesial bodies?

  • Posted by: John J Plick - May. 24, 2012 7:25 PM ET USA

    "“the first condition to speak about God is to speak with God." Frightening accuracy. How many of those bishops let alone European laity have any kind of vibrant prayer life outside of the traditional obligations...

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