On Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI received the participants in a conference celebrating the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II reform of the military Ordinariates – the structures that provide for the spiritual care of soldiers and their families all around the world.
The occasion for the meeting was the sixth International Congress of Military Ordinariates and the third International Formation Course in Humanitarian Law for Military Chaplains, which took place this week under the joint sponsorship and organization of the Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.
In his remarks to the participants, Pope Benedict XVI said the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s document, Spiritali militum curae is an excellent opportunity to pause and reflect on the quarter-century of development that the Pope’s reform stirred. “In expressing my heartfelt encouragement,” said Pope Benedict, “I would draw your attention to the need to ensure that men and women of the Armed Forces receive spiritual assistance that meets all the requirements of a consistent Christian life and mission.”
“The issue,” he went on to say, “is one of forming Christians who have a deep faith, who live a committed religious practice, and are true witnesses of Christ in their community.” The Holy Father said that, to achieve this goal, the military chaplains and bishops should feel responsible for proclaiming the Gospel and administering the sacraments wherever there are soldiers and their families.
“The work of evangelization in the world of the military,” said Pope Benedict, “requires a growing assumption of responsibility, so that, in military life as well, there be an ever new, convicted and joyful proclamation of Jesus Christ, the one hope for life and peace for all humanity.
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