Pope rallies bishops to revive Christian faith


VATICAN CITY, (AFP) – Pope Benedict XVI on Sunday called on bishops from across the world to revive the Christian faith among those who have forgotten or abandoned it.

The Church needs a new “missionary dynamic” of lay people and must pay “particular attention (to) baptised people who do not live according to the requirements of the baptism”, he said as 262 bishops wound up a three-week huddle that broached all major issues and crises shaking the 2,000-year-old institution.

Clerics must also apply “new methods, a new language that suits different cultures” in their bid for a “new evangelism”, he said during a closing mass at Saint Peter’s.

“The real protagonists of the new evangelism are the saints,” said the head of the Roman Catholic Church. “The example of their lives and their charitable work is a language that is understood by all.”

It was urgent to make Christ known again “where the fire of God” has become mere “embers that need to be rekindled so it can again be a lively flame that gives light and warmth to the entire house”, he added.

During the synod’s frank debates, missionary issues took centre stage rather than structural Church reforms.

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“There aren’t many institutions in the world that dare question” what they are doing, said Olivier Schmitthaeusler of Phnom Penh, the youngest bishop attending the synod, in a veiled reference to months of crisis over Benedict’s butler who has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for leaking papal documents.

Pierre-Marie Carre, archbishop of the southern French city of Montpellier, who was the synod’s special secretary, insisted that “structural changes were not needed.”

“Believers can bring about change through their faith, a well-structured faith,” he said.

There about 1.2 billion Catholics in the world, with the Americas accounting for almost half of the figure.

Africa has a popluation of 135.2 million, Asia 120 million.