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In an address to the Italian Bishops’ Conference, of which he, as bishop of Rome, is a member, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about the Church’s mission of communicating the faith in a secular world, in which even Catholics know increasingly less about their own faith. An address that not only applies to the bishops of Italy, but all Catholics.
The Holy Father once again refers to this year’s major anniversaries – those of the opening of the Second Vatican Council 50 years ago, and the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church 20 years ago – and reaches his main point via the words of Blessed John XXIII: “What interests the Council most is that the sacred deposit of the Christian doctrine be protected and taught more effectively.”
In order to achieve that, the pope, after painting the major problems in this respect, urges for a new openness to the Transcendent, something sorely lacking in modern society. A solution must start with the liturgy:
“[D]ivine worship orientates man to the future City and restores to God his primacy, molds the Church, incessantly convoked by the Word, and shows the world the fecundity of the encounter with God. In turn, while we must cultivate a grateful look for the growth of the good seed even in a terrain that is often arid, we perceive that our situation requires a renewed impulse, which will point to what is essential of the faith and of Christian life. At a time in which God has become for many the great unknown and Jesus simply a great personality of the past, there will be no new thrust of the missionary action without the renewal of the quality of our faith and our prayer; we will not be able to give adequate answers without a new reception of the gift of Grace; we will not know how to win men over to the Gospel if we ourselves do not first have a profound experience of God.”
The text, in its translation at the link above, is not always equally accessible, but it is worth a read. It is a reminder to us, not only of what we are up against, but also of how we can start to turn the tide.
My translation is available here.
Photo credit: AP Photo/Andrew Medichini
“Events in recent days regarding the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart, though the firm conviction, that despite human weakness, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit, and the Lord will never fail to give His aid in sustaining the Church on her journey. Nevertheless, some entirely gratuitous rumors have multiplied, amplified by some media, which went well beyond the facts, offering a picture of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality. I would like therefore to reiterate my confidence and my encouragement to my staff and to all those who, day in and day out, faithfully and with a spirit of sacrifice, quietly help me in fulfilling my ministry.”
Unscripted words from Pope Benedict XVI at today’s audience.
Everyone seems to know something about the background of what has become known as VatiLeaks – the whodunnit, the conspiracies and exactly which cardinal has it out against the pope – but I think that a loving unity with one another, and today especially with the Holy Father, will go a long way, certainly further than finger-pointing and accusations. That goes for us faithful in the pews just as much as for the prelates in their Vatican offices.
Photo credit: Andreas Solaro/AFP/GettyImages