Pope urges lapsed Catholics to return to fold at end of Synod of Bishops

Pope Benedict XVI closed the Synod of Bishops on Sunday with an exhortation to develop new ways of reaching out to those who had drifted from the faith.

The pope closed the three-week meeting of some 260 bishops with a solemn Mass in St Peter’s Basilica.

The bishops discussed ways to stem what has been noted as the haemorrhaging of the faithful from the Church, especially in Europe, North America and Latin America.

“Besides traditional and perennially valid pastoral methods, the Church seeks to adopt new ones, developing a new language, attuned to the different world cultures,” the pope said.

Reuters reported that one of the 58 proposals made by the bishops at the end of the meeting is for Catholic leaders to be better trained in the use of electronic communications.

In his homily, the pope said Church leaders had to work harder to turn around a situation “where the light of faith has grown dim and people have drifted away from God, no longer considering him relevant for their lives”.

The synod’s final message, issued on Friday, said the Roman Catholic faith in many advanced countries risked being “eclipsed” by an increasingly secularized and materialistic world.

The message, a synthesis of the topics discussed, said that while the gospel could not be “a product to be placed in the market of religions”, the Church needed to find new ways of putting it “into practice in today’s circumstances”.

Friday’s message took a dig at the United States and Canada, saying the countries of North America needed to “recognize the many expressions of the present culture in the countries of your world which are today far from the Gospel”.

The pope will use the deliberations at the synod and the proposals to write his own document, known as a “apostolic exhortation” on the topic.


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