Vatican City (Fides Service) – “The formation of the Christian and the handing on of the faith to the new generations are of decisive importance, made all the greater in the present social and cultural context, in which many factors contribute to rendering more difficult and, so to say, “against the current” , commitment to become authentic disciples of the Lord, while the speed and profundity of changes increase the distance and at times the almost in-communicability between generations.” Pope John Paul II said this when on 20 May he received participants at the 51st General Assembly of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI).
Recalling that the theme chosen for the Bishops’ Assembly was Christian Initiation, the Pope said “in a situation which calls for strong commitment for new evangelisation, also itineraries of Christian initiation must give ample space to the proclamation of the faith and the proposal of its fundamental motivations, in a manner suited to the age and preparation of the individual. It is most important to start Christian education of children as early as possible, so that it may be properly assimilated from early infancy: families must be made aware of their noble mission and helped to fulfil it, also integrating their possible deficiencies. No baptised child must in fact be deprived of the nourishment which helps the growth of the seed planted by Baptism.”
The Pope then reflected on other questions examined by the CEI Assembly: the family, important “for the moral and social well being of the nation”; the reform of the school system and new prospects for the teaching of the Catholic faith. John Paul II also voiced a “special closeness to all individuals and families without work and those living under difficult conditions” and recalling the 40th anniversary of the Pacem in Terris encyclical he mentioned the Holy Land, “among the many regions of the world for too long deprived of the fundamental good of peace” SL (Fides Service 21/5/2003 EM lines 28 Words: 363)