Ad limina visit of the Swiss bishops

Source: FSSPX News


On November 7, on the occasion of the Ad limina visit of the Swiss bishops, Benedict XVI gave the homily in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace. “Western Christianity, the new ‘first guests’, now largely excuse themselves, they do not have time to come to the Lord”, said the pope by way of introduction. “We know the churches that are ever more empty, seminaries continue to be empty, religious houses that are increasingly empty; we are familiar with all the forms in which this ‘no, I have other important things to do’, is presented”, he added.

“We should ask ourselves: why is this happening?” continued the sovereign Pontiff. “How can a man say ‘no’ to the greatest thing that exists; that he has no time for what is most important; that he can lock himself into his own existence?” Because they no longer have “a taste” for God.

Thus, “our task is to help people so they can taste the flavor for God anew. For when man is entirely caught up in his own world, with material things, with what he can do, with all that is feasible and brings him success, with all that he can produce or understand by himself, then his capacity to perceive God weakens.”

On the same day, in the address to the bishops of Switzerland, the pope declared that “in our time faith must truly have priority.” Because “faith is the center of all things, it is above all faith in God. In Christianity it is not a matter of an enormous bundle of different things; all that the Creed says and the development of faith has achieved exists only to make our perception of the Face of God clearer.”

The pope recalled the necessity of good theological training for future priests and preachers of the faith,” this means that teachers “do not only impart sound knowledge, but inculcate in students an intelligent faith.” “Therefore,” he added, “we need good theological faculties, good major seminaries and qualified theology teachers.” On the other hand, “catechesis has come a long way in its methodology”, yet it is deplorable that “much has been lost in anthropology and in the search for reference points; all too often catechesis does not even reach the content of the faith.” The pope also requested that “children truly learn “what ‘creation’ is, what the ‘history of salvation’ brought about by God is, and who Jesus Christ is.”

Benedict XVI specified that preaching was a duty of the priest even if he is weary, elderly or overburdened with tasks. “The homily itself is part of the sacramental event [of the Eucharist] and is not the task of the laity. “The homily is not a discursive interruption in the Liturgy. The priest must carry out his mission integrally.”

The pope recalled the importance of the sacrament of penance, “whose practice in the past 50 years or thereabouts has gradually diminished.” “The widespread absence of an awareness of sin is a disturbing phenomenon of our time.” “Thanks be to God, cloisters, abbeys and shrines exist where people go on pilgrimage, where their hearts are opened and also prepared for confession.”

To conclude, Benedict XVI tackled the issue of ecumenism, and affirmed the necessity of “guaranteeing the essential values and framework of our society since they come from God. (…) If we learn to act together in this field, we could achieve a large degree of unity, even where full theological and sacramental unity is not yet possible.”


On November 9, in his address at the conclusion of the meeting with the bishops of Switzerland, Benedict XVI declared: “We should not allow our faith to be drained by too many discussions of multiple, minor details, but rather, should always keep our eyes in the first place on the greatness of Christianity.” Calling to mind the interviews he was asked to give when he was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the pope specified: “I knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems.” Thus, the Church should not “let [herself] be drawn into these discussions”, which end up by reducing her to “certain commandments or prohibitions.”

“I often hear it said that people today have a longing for God, for spirituality, for religion, and are starting once again to see the Church as a possible conversation partner from which, in this regard, they can receive something.” (…) Yet many find it difficult to accept “the morality that the Church proclaims.” “In our age morality is, as it were, split in two. Modern society doesnot merely lack morals but has ‘discovered’ and demands another dimension of morality, which in the Church’s proclamation in recent decades and even earlier perhaps has not been sufficiently presented. This dimension includes the great topics of peace, non-violence, justice for all, concern for the poor and respect for creation. They have become an ethical whole which, precisely as a political force, has great power and for many constitutes the substitution or succession of religion. (…) The great moral themes come into play as the essential which then confers dignity on man and engages him.”

“The other part of morality, often received controversially by politics, concerns life. One aspect of it is the commitment to life from conception to death, that is, its defense against abortion, against euthanasia, against the manipulation and man’s self-authorization in order to dispose of life. People often seek to justify these interventions with the seemingly great purpose of thereby serving the future generations.”

“The morality of marriage and the family also fit into this context. Marriage is becoming, so to speak, ever more marginalized. We are aware of the example of certain countries where legislation has been modified so that marriage is no longer defined as a bond between a man and a woman but a bond between persons; with this, obviously, the basic idea is destroyed and society from its roots becomes something quite different. (…) Every type of bond seems entirely normal, they represent a sort of overall morality of non-discrimination and a form of freedom due to man. Naturally, with this the indissolubility of marriage has become almost a utopian idea.” It seems that “people have little confidence in the future and that they feel the family is no longer viable as a lasting community.”


“I think that this is the great task we have before us: not to make Christianity seem merely a code of morality, but rather a gift in which we are given the love that sustains us and provides us with the strength we need to be able to ‘lose our own life.’”