We have realized how important the transformation of ordinary pastoral activity is, no longer content with caring only for that portion of believers who persevere in Christian life but, more decisively and more systematically, caring also for the many sheep who are lost or bewildered.This is a most astute and important observation, and a difficult one. How can the Church and her ministers best do so? And so we come to his question: "What, in your view, are the elements that guarantee that one does not rush in vain into the pastoral demands of proclaiming Christ to our generation?"
Anyone who would offer concrete examples in this arena straightaway should be heard with a bit of skepticism. "Little can be said in theory," Pope Benedict said, "but practical experience will show us the paths to follow"
While noting "that I can give no recipes for this practical work because the paths to follow differ according to the people, their professions, and the particular situation," Pope Benedict did propose "two elements: the Word and witness."
This proclamation of the Word as experienced in the here and now validates, as it were, the experiences of the past. This union of Word and witness in proclamation, says the Holy Father, "is absolutely indispensable, fundamental, to give credibility to this word through witness so that it does not only appear as a lofty philosophy or a fine utopia, but as reality, a reality with which it is possible to live, but this is not all: a reality that is life-giving."
"The need to associate the word with the witness of a just life, being for others, opening oneself to the poor, to the needy, and also to the rich who need to have their hearts opened, to feel someone knocking at their hearts" is very important, he said. "So, it is a question of different avenues, according to the situation."