Pope at the Grotto of St. Paul, speaks about new evangelisation

Judging from a quick look at the media, I get the impression that Pope Benedict XVI does suffer from the current crisis in the Church. During this morning’s Mass he had to be nudged awake by Master of Ceremonies, Msgr. Marini, and his voice was said to sound somewhat hoarse during the homily.

But the people of Malta have welcomed him enthusiastically – children sang ‘happy birthday’ when the pope arrived yesterday, for example – and his words are, as can be expected, but poignant, honest and inspiring.

After the open-air Mass this morning, the Holy Father met privately with a group of men who were abused as children. This had been a request of theirs and the meeting is said to have gone very well. For more about how that meeting went, read John Allen‘s description.

Pope Benedict XVI prays in the grotto of St. Paul, Saturday evening.

His first stop yesterday was the Grotto of St. Paul, the place where the apostle is said to have lived for three months after a shipwreck en route to Rome. The pope prayed there and then spoke to the people assembled there. His main topic was the new evangelisation. He called on parents and teachers to share their own encounter with the Risen Jesus:

Believe that your moments of faith assure an encounter with God, who in his mighty power touches human hearts. In this way, you will introduce the young to the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith, and offer them a sound catechesis, inviting them to ever more active participation in the sacramental life of the Church.

The world needs this witness! In the face of so many threats to the sacredness of human life, and to the dignity of marriage and the family, do not our contemporaries need to be constantly reminded of the grandeur of our dignity as God’s children and the sublime vocation we have received in Christ? Does not society need to reappropriate and defend those fundamental moral truths which remain the foundation of authentic freedom and genuine progress?

The text of Pope Benedict’s greeting can be read in English and in Dutch. Further translations will have to wait until tomorrow because of two things: the lovely weather here and my Sunday duties in the parish.