Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In his meeting today with the bishops of Thailand on their ad limina visit to the Vatican, which occurs every five years, Benedict XVI insisted on the need for Thai Catholics to promote education in Catholic-run schools as well as the work of catechists; at the same time he stressed the need for working together with Buddhists to preserve and improve Thailand’s cultural traditions, opposing through inter-faith cooperation one of the negative effects of globalisation, namely prostitution-related trafficking in women and children, which is itself a consequence of the trivialisation of sexuality by the media and the entertainment industry.
In his address the Holy Father stressed the importance of inter-faith cooperation for the small Catholic community in this overwhelmingly Buddhist nation, especially against some of the negative effects of globalisation for the latter not only fosters “a sense of global solidarity” but sadly also lead to “fragmentation and a certain individualism in which secularism takes a hold, pushing the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins, eclipsing the very source of harmony and unity within the universe.”
Given such problems cooperation between religions because paramount, he told the bishops. What is needed is “a concerted effort to uphold the spiritual and moral soul of your people. In concordance with Buddhists, you can promote mutual understanding concerning the transmission of traditions to succeeding generations, the articulation of ethical values discernable to reason, reverence for the transcendent, prayer and contemplation. Such practices and dispositions serve the common well-being of society and nurture the essence of every human being.”
Likewise the Pope noted the important contribution Catholic schools make to the “intellectual formation of numerous young Thais,” Catholics and Buddhists alike, and to their “spiritual and moral education”.
To the many men and women religious who “diligently” serve in Catholic institutions of learning, Benedict XVI said that “theirs should not primarily be a role of administration but of mission,” something which requires from them that they always be close to their students and their families.
In the shared commitment to proclaiming the Gospel catechists also perform a special service, but such a task cannot be theirs alone but must be shouldered by priests as well for it is they who have the necessary philosophical and theological training.
For the Pontiff special attention should also be paid to the training of Catholics’ non-Catholic spouses as well as “for the many Catholic individuals and families who in moving from rural parts to the cities risk losing contact with parish life.”
Last but not least Benedict XVI turned his attention to the “scourge of the trafficking of women and children, and prostitution”.
“Undoubtedly poverty is a factor underlying these phenomena,’ he said. And the Church does what it can to counter this problem, “But there is a further aspect which must be acknowledged and collectively addressed if this abhorrent human exploitation is to be effectively confronted. I am speaking of the trivialization of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries which fuels a decline in moral values and leads to the degradation of women, the weakening of fidelity in marriage and even the abuse of children.”