Pope addresses Pacific bishops
Pope John Paul spoke on Saturday to bishops of countries of the Pacific Islands, at the end of their ad limina visit, echoing the bishops' own concerns about the "encroachment of secularism, particularly in the form of consumerism, and the long reach of the most insidious aspects of the media, which convey a deformed outlook on life".
The Holy Father suggested that "meeting with and listening to your closest collaborators - priests, religious and catechists - and direct contact with the poor, sick and elderly, will unite your people and enrich your teaching thanks to the concrete example that you offer of humble faith and service."
After recalling the evangelising work of men and women religious in the region, the Pope said that "apostolic fruitfulness, generosity in love of the poor, and the ability to inspire vocations among the young depend upon this priority in the spiritual life."
He said: "As general educational standards among your communities rise, it is imperative that your people grow in their understanding of the faith and their ability to express its liberating truth. In this regard, I am confident that you will give special consideration to the development of the chaplaincy at the University of the South Pacific where so many of your fine young men and women are being trained as future leaders of your communities."
Meanwhile New Zealand Bishop Patrick Dunn (pictured) has written a report on the New Zealand bishops' recently-completed ad limina visit, in which he nominated the meeting with the Holy Father as the highlight.
In his report, Bishop Dunn contradicted media interpretations of the Pope's emphasis on the importance of Sunday Mass, and his noting that the weakening its observance "dims the light of witness to Christ's presence" in New Zealand.
Bishop Dunn said: "Contrary to media reports in NZ, the Pope was not opposed to sports or entertainment on Sunday, but was simply warning us to keep our priorities in order and not forget the central importance for all Catholics of the Sunday Eucharist."
He reported on the Pope's physical condition: "Although his eyes are bright and piercing, he is indubitably frail, and has not walked in public for over a year. His condition makes it an effort for him to talk, and at times even to swallow."
Urging the Kiwi faithful to keep the Holy Father in their prayers, Bishop Dunn said: "We bishops in Rome had the sense that this outstanding Pope, now so manifestly crippled and paralysed by illness, is perhaps at this time living out the greatest days of his extraordinary Pontificate."
Oceania: use the media to help people know god better (Vatican Information Service 18/9/04)
Bishop Patrick Dunn reports on the New Zealand bishops Ad Limina visit to Rome (Catholic Communications New Zealand 20/9/04)
Strength, challenges seen in Church in Oceania (Catholic World News 20/9/04)
Address of President of Pacific Episcopate to John Paul II/Pope's Address to Bishops of Episcopal Conference of the Pacific (Zenit/RPN)
21 Sep 2004