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POPE-SECAM Feb-16-2012 (490 words) xxxi
Family is key to new generation rooted in Gospel, pope says
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The family is the church's best ally for raising a new generation resistant to materialism and committed to living out the Gospel, Pope Benedict XVI told bishops from Africa and Europe.
"Europe and Africa need generous young people who know how to take responsibility for their future," he said.
All institutions, like the family, school and church, "must be well aware that these young people hold the future and that it is important to do everything possible so that their journey is not marked by uncertainty and darkness," he said.
The pope made his remarks during a Feb. 16 audience with 80 bishops, priests and other participants attending a joint conference organized by the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, known as SECAM, and the Council of European Bishops' Conferences, known by the acronym CCEE.
The conference, held in Rome Feb. 13-17, was dedicated to finding ways in which European and African Catholics can cooperate in evangelization.
During the symposium, Cardinal Josip Bozanic of Zagreb, Croatia, said that even though economic and social conditions in the two continents are vastly different, the Gospel is universal.
Wherever it finds itself, the church has a message of faith that "understands humankind, whether in Europe or Africa, as created in the image and likeness of God and who deep down has basic needs that only God can fully satisfy," he said.
"Social and spiritual concerns are both present; one is not separated from the other, but rather, they are dimensions of the one same integral development of the human person and society," the cardinal said.
In his speech to the group, the pope said a huge obstacle in proclaiming the Gospel is hedonism, "which has contributed to making the crisis of values in people's daily life spread to the family and how people make sense of one's life."
The increasing problems of pornography and prostitution are symptoms of this "serious social malaise."
The church must also pay close attention to the current culture and work diligently in helping "the light of the Gospel insert itself in the cultural milieu" so as to enlighten it and prevent "false cultures" that de-humanize people from taking hold.
Pope Benedict said the church needs to pay close attention to the family, which, as the domestic church, "is also the strongest guarantee of the renewal of society."
The family safeguards traditions, customs, habits, and rituals of faith, and can have a big impact on fostering vocations, he said.
The current mentality of materialism can have a negative effect on vocations, but the family is also a pivotal player in the formation of the young, he said.
As the church, family and other institutions work together in raising the next generations, the pope asked the bishops to pay special attention to young people's "human and spiritual growth, encouraging them also to do volunteer work, which can have educational value."
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