Vatican, Dec. 19 (CWNews.com) - The Church should provide adequate support and formation for Catholics engaged in political activity, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) told visiting Polish bishops on December 17.
Speaking to the third group of Polish bishops making their ad limina visits to Rome, the Holy Father said that Catholic political leaders "need the Church's help." At the same time, he said that proper distinctions must be maintained between the causes that some Christians champsion and those which pastors carry out on behalf of the Church.
The Pope's remarks to the Polish bishops centered on their work as pastors and ministry to the laity. The first responsibility of pastors, he said, is to ensure that the Catholic laity recognize the great gift of the Eucharist and the value of the sacraments. He also encouraged efforts to spur lay activity in the field of service to the poor and needy, missionary outreach, and ecumenism-- cautioning, regarding ecumenical work, that the objective should be "the truth, not simplistic compromises that can bring Catholic movements to lose their own identity."
Regarding Catholic politicians, Pope Benedict said that pastors should encourage civic activity, and help lay leaders to form their consciences properly so that they attain a full understanding of the requirements of justice and the common good. Catholics who engage in campaigns to promote social justice deserve the support of the Church, he said.