Pope Fields Pastoral Query on Couples

Holds Q-and-A Session With Italian Clergy

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AURONZO, Italy, JULY 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI, responding to a priest's question about divorced and remarried couples, says there is a need to reconcile mercy and truth.



The Pope said this today when meeting with some 400 priests from the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso.

Ten priests from the dioceses were able to ask the Pontiff questions in the Church of St. Justina Martine in Auronzo, near Lorenzago di Cadore, where the Holy Father is vacationing.

After the meeting, the Pontiff told journalists that during the dialogue, "we spoke about the Church, God and the humanity of today. We are the Church and we must work together."

Journalists were not permitted to join the priests during the question-and-answer session, but Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, offered a summary that aired on Vatican Radio.

He said that the priests' questions gave Benedict XVI the opportunity to speak about issues such as evangelization and respectful dialogue with other religions, in the context of widespread immigration.

Mercy and truth

The Pontiff responded to the "delicate question that affects many people and many priests, that of divorced and remarried couples, or unmarried couples who live together," Father Lombardi added. The Pope focused on "how to reconcile mercy and truth."

Other themes included faithfulness to the intent of the Second Vatican Council, the challenge of formation of youth and their moral conscience, and the problems associated with the priestly life.

According to Father Lombardi, the Bishop of Rome said that "the substance of Christianity should not be considered a package of dogmas." And the best way to witness to God is to proclaim him in everyday life, "with love, faith and hope," the priest added.

The Holy Father explained that the Catholic faith requires having "our feet on the ground and our eyes fixed toward heaven," Father Lombardi said. Pastoral work, the priest continued, "helps to see the beauty of all God's gifts."

"The priests present at the meeting literally hung on his every word," added the Vatican spokesman.

Resting

After the question-and-answer session, Benedict XVI told journalists that during his time of vacation in the Dolomite mountains he has had rest, "not only of the heart, but of the soul as well."

"I breathed the air of the gift of the Creator, but also the air of friendship and cordiality for which I am very appreciative," Benedict XVI said.

After the visit to Auronzo, the Holy Father returned to his chalet in Lorenzago di Cadore, where he will continue his summer vacation until Friday.