India's Bishops Make Appeal on Pope's Behalf

Call Recent Attacks "Irresponsible and Offensive"

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NEW DELHI, MARCH 27, 2009 (Zenit.org).- India's bishops have called recent media attacks on Benedict XVI as "irresponsible," and appealed for more "respect" for the Pope.



In statement published Tuesday, the nation's episcopal conference called the Holy Father "one of the greatest intellectuals of modern times," and highlighted his lucidity on moral and social issues, reported the news agency Eglises d'Asie.

The attacks came earlier this month after the Holy Father said during a press conference on the plane en route to Cameroon that condoms are not the solution for AIDS.

Signed by Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes of Gandhinagar, secretary-general of the conference, the note affirmed that Benedict XVI is "loved and respected by the entire world," and that the bishops judged the attacks to be "gravely irresponsible and offensive."
 
"He invites the whole world to go forward, with the Spirit of God, to build a society based on moral values and respect for life," the episcopal body continued. "This is the moral role of the Pope, to direct and guide consciences, the conscience of humanity in general and of Catholics in particular."
 
The Holy Father "is perfectly informed on the present tendencies that show the moral degradation of humanity," affirmed the statement.
 
The bishops' text ends by appealing to Catholics and non-Catholics to "beware of making ill-considered statements" against Benedict XVI, who "has always worked for peace, reconciliation, fraternity, unity and attention to the poorest and most abandoned."