MANILA, March 4, 2011—Parents are the primary educators of their children in the faith, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Addressing Filipino bishops on March 3, the pope highlighted the importance of catechesis for families in the face of negative influences that threaten to destroy its rights and integrity.

He told the bishops to reach out to families and educate parents on “their role as the first educators of their children in the faith.”

The pope lauded the bishops’ efforts even as he singled out the contributions of “many religious sisters and lay catechists” in the ministry.

“The deep personal piety of your people needs to be nourished and supported by a profound understanding of and appreciation for the teachings of the Church in matters of faith and morals,” the pope stressed.

Peace dialogue

Alluding on the ongoing peace dialogue in Mindanao, the Holy Father said “dialogue with other religions remains a high priority, especially in the southern areas of your country.”

“I commend you for the work you have already done and I encourage you, by means of the dialogue that has been established, to continue to promote the path to true and lasting peace with all of your neighbors, never failing to treat each person, no matter his or her beliefs, as created in the image of God,” said the Holy Father.

Seek the “lost sheep”

The pope urged the bishops to seek out “the lost sheep” and make sure “that all the faithful draw life from the great gift given to us in the Sacred Mysteries.”

He told the prelates not to “grow weary of doing good” as “the greatest good that we can offer those whom we serve is given to us in the Eucharist.”

“It is heartening that many Filipinos attend Sunday Mass, but this does not leave room for complacency on your part as shepherds,” the pope said.

The last batch of bishops from Mindanao and Lipa are in Rome, Feb. 21 to March 5 for their five-yearly ad limina visit. (CBCPNews)