CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy (CNS): Pope Benedict XVI said parish priests discouraged by a decline in religious practice should take heart in the fact that the Church has survived centuries of persecutions and trials.
Not even the Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler could destroy Catholicism, although he wanted to, the Pope said.
Pope Benedict made the comments in a question and answer session on August 31 with priests of the Diocese of Albano. The encounter took place at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, which is part of Albano diocese.
Most of the questions touched on pastoral problems common across Italy, including the challenge of getting Catholics to Mass on Sunday and attracting young people to Church activities.
The Pope said it was important for pastors to draw encouragement from the Church’s long history.
In discussing how the Church can better communicate its teachings on marriage, the Pope advised priests to learn from married couples about the meaning of sacrifice.