Given below are extracts of the Holy Father's Letter to members of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, which he signed Saturday Morning during his visit to the cathedral of Valencia, Spain, and consigned to the president of the conference, Bishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Bilbao:
"You know that I follow closely and with much interest the life of the Church in your country, a country with deep Christian roots, one which has greatly contributed and must still contribute to the proclamation and spread of the faith to many other parts of the world. Keep alive and vigorous this spirit, which has accompanied the life of Spaniards throughout their history, so that it will help nourish and vitalize the soul of your people.
"I am aware of, and I encourage, the impulse that you are giving to pastoral activity at a time of rapid secularization, which can also affect the internal life of Christian communities. Continue dauntlessly to proclaim that to live without God, to act as if He did not exist or to relegate faith to the purely private sphere, undermines the truth about man and compromises the future of culture and society."
"Lifting one's gaze to the living God, the garantor of our freedom and of truth, is a premise for arriving at a new humanity. Nowadays, in a special way, the world needs people capable of proclaiming and bearing witness to God Who is love, and consequently the one light which in the end, illumines the darkness of the world and gives us strength to live and work."
"Prompted by your pastoral solicitude and the spirit of full communion in the proclamation of the Gospel, you have guided the Christian conscience of the faithful about different aspects of the situation confronting them. ... You have also made the Eucharist a central theme of your pastoral plan, with the aim of 'revitalizing Christian life from its very heart, since when we enter into the Eucharistic mystery we encounter the heart of God'."
"Brothers in the episcopate, I exhort you earnestly to preserve and increase your fraternal communion, as a witness and model of the ecclesial communion which should reign in all the faithful people entrusted to your care. I pray for you, and I pray for Spain. I ask you to pray for me and for the whole Church. I invoke the Most Holy Virgin Mary, so greatly venerated in your land, asking that she protect and accompany you in your pastoral ministry, and to all of you I impart with great affection my apostolic blessing."