VATICAN (CWN) -- Pope John Paul II today encouraged a group of bishops from the United States to emphasize the task of evangelization, making each parish a center from which the Gospel is preached.

      The Pope greeted a group of bishops from Washington, Baltimore, and the southeastern US, who were in Rome for their ad limina visit. He reminded them that the Church is always a missionary institution, and expressed his confidence "that you will seek to renew within your communities a vital and dynamite sense of the Church's mission, so that this time of grace will be a springtime of the Gospel."

      One test of the vigor of a Christian community, the Pope said, is "the way in which families transmit the faith from one generation to the next." He added that parish life should guarantee sound teaching for all young Catholics, and urged the bishops to ensure that divisions do not lead to confusion about Church teachings or "polarization" among the faithful.

      Authentic Christianity should also serve the community, the Pope said, insofar as the Gospel impels believers toward responsibility use of their freedom. "When liberty is detached from the truth about the human person and the moral law written in human nature, society and the democratic process are endangered," he said. Thus by preaching the Gospel, Christians are also preserving the health of the democracy, he concluded.

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March 18, 1998 volume 9, no. 55         DAILY CATHOLIC