Yesterday Benedict XVI met with clergy from the Italian dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso in the church of St. Justina, Martyr, in Auronzo, near Lorenzago di Cadore where he is spending a few weeks holiday.
During the meeting, which was reserved for priests only, the Pope replied to ten questions concerning "the problem of forming young people and their moral conscience, priestly life, the priority of the ministry in the present conditions of pastoral care in Italy, and the evolution of the current historical situation," as Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi S.J. explained in a talk on Vatican Radio.
Other themes considered included "evangelization and respectful dialogue with other religions in a context of vast migration" and the question of "divorced people who have remarried or who cohabit and how to reconcile mercy and truth." Attention was also given to "faithfulness to Vatican Council II and its spirit."
These, said Fr. Lombardi, "are very broad and varied subjects that the Holy Father has considered on other occasions in his talks and documents."
The Holy See Press Office Director went on to say that Benedict XVI had encouraged the priests to live "with their feet on the ground and their eyes on heaven" and had affirmed that "the essence of Christianity cannot be considered just as a collection of dogmas." The Pope also highlighted how "the best way to announce God's message is to live a life of love," he said.
The priests presented the Pope with a walnut statue of St. Benedict, patron saint of Europe, with details in bronze, Murano glass and gold. As he was leaving the church after the meeting, Benedict XVI told waiting journalists that he had spoken with the priests "about the Church, about God and about modern humanity," and he expressed thanks "for the climate of friendship and cordiality" which is characterizing his holiday.