Pope’s message of Hope for Bangladesh


12 June 08 - Pope Benedict addressed a group of bishops from the South East Asian nation of Bangladesh Thursday, at the end of their Ad Limina pilgrimage to the Holy See.

The Holy Father told the group that "personal integrity and holiness of life are essential components of a Bishop's witness", adding that "in this way, they lead others to see all human realities in the light of the Kingdom of Heaven".

Pope Benedict went on to praise the Bishops promotion and formation of the laity in the Church in Bangladesh, and returned to his constant concern regarding the difficulty men and women have today to commit to marriage. He told the group that "there is an urgent need to reassert the joy of total self-giving".

But the main body of the Holy Fathers speech focused on inter religious dialogue and how much the tiny church in Bangladesh has to offer its nation:

"In your love for your country you inspire tolerance, moderation and understanding. By encouraging people who share important values to cooperate for the common good, you help to consolidate your country's stability and to maintain it for the future. These efforts, however subtle, give effective support to the majority of your fellow citizens who uphold the country's noble tradition of mutual respect, tolerance and social harmony".

Pope Benedict urged the Bishops to persevere with their patient dedication to inter-religious dialogue:

"Dialogue, based on mutual respect and truth, cannot fail to have a positive influence on the social climate of your country. The delicacy of this task requires thorough preparation of clergy and lay people, first of all by offering them a deeper knowledge of their own faith and then by helping them to grow in their understanding of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the other religions present in your region".

The Pope acknowledged that the path of dialogue is not always an easy one, "I am aware of the difficulties of this mission entrusted to you. Like the first Christians, you live as a small community among a large non-Christian population. My prayers accompany you as you lead your priests, men and women religious and lay faithful along the path marked out by so many dedicated missionaries, beginning with Saint Francis Xavier, who brought the Gospel to your country. The Church you represent "proclaims the Good News with loving respect and esteem for her listeners" (Ecclesia in Asia, 20). Continue this task with goodness and simplicity, and with "creativity in charity" (cf. Pastores Gregis, 73), according to your talents, your specific graces and the means at your disposal. Have confidence in the Lord who opens the hearts of listeners to heed what is announced in his name (cf. Acts 16:14)".