Pete Winn | Senior Staff Writer | Friday, April 18, 2008
"It is your task to proclaim boldly the arguments from faith and reason in favor of the institution of marriage, understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman, open to the transmission of life," the pope told the gathering of more than 300 bishops.
"This message should resonate with people today, because it is essentially an unconditional and unreserved 'yes' to life, a 'yes' to love and a 'yes' to the aspirations at the heart of our common humanity, as we strive to fulfill our deep yearning for intimacy with others and with the Lord," the pope added.
Benedict linked the priest sex-abuse scandal to a wider context: the failure of bishops to stand up for and proclaim "authentic moral values" in the public square.
"Truly caring about young people and the future of our civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values, which alone enable the human person to flourish," he said.
Benedict underscored the need for the Catholic Church and its leadership to address the loose sexual mores of society.
"Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships," the pope said. "They should be spared the degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral values rooted in the dignity of the human person."
Evils like Internet pornography, he pointed out, rob children of innocence.
"What does it mean to speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes through media widely available today?" said the pope. "We need to reassess urgently the values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be offered to young people and adults alike."
The pope chided the bishops for not speaking out strongly enough against moral evils in society or promoting strong family values.
"It falls to you, as pastors modeled upon Christ, the Good Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores," he said.
The pontiff's message to the American bishops was similar to one he delivered at the Vatican in 2007, in which he proclaimed that marriage and family are the principal means for the expression of Christian life and the transmission of values.
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