NEW YORK, November 25, 2011 ( – Speaking to various bishops of the United States Saturday, Pope Benedict XVI responded to concerns expressed by the bishops about “the grave challenges” coming from secular society against the practice of faith.  The pope noted that many in society are now beginning to recognize the damage of crumbling moral foundations and urged the bishops to speak out in defense of Christian morality. 

“The present moment can thus be seen, in positive terms, as a summons to exercise the prophetic dimension of your episcopal ministry by speaking out, humbly yet insistently, in defense of moral truth, and offering a word of hope, capable of opening hearts and minds to the truth that sets us free,” he said.


The pope’s sense of urgency echoes his remarks in England in September where he urged the faithful to work actively to build a culture of life. 

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“No one who looks realistically at our world today could think that Christians can afford to go on with business as usual, ignoring the profound crisis of faith which has overtaken our society, or simply trusting that the patrimony of values handed down by the Christian centuries will continue to inspire and shape the future of our society,” he said in Hyde Park on September 18.  “Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person.”

Speaking to the U.S. Bishops Saturday, the pope acknowledged the spiritual crisis facing America.

“The seriousness of the challenges which the Church in America, under your leadership, is called to confront in the near future cannot be underestimated,” he said. “The obstacles to Christian faith and practice raised by a secularized culture also affect the lives of believers. Immersed in this culture, believers are daily beset by the objections, the troubling questions and the cynicism of a society which seems to have lost its roots, by a world in which the love of God has grown cold in so many hearts.”

The pope’s remarks are backed up by recent statements from Vatican Cardinal Raymond Burke, an American by nationality, who said he could envision active persecution of Catholics in the United States.

During his address, the pope noted that he would be issuing a document of reflections for the bishops in directing the American Church for the coming years.

The full text of the Pope’s address to the US Bishops is available from the Vatican website here.