Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The World Needs God

Sunday morning, the Holy Father celebrated Mass in the grounds of Munich's fairgrounds, the "Neue Messe." The event was attended by 250,000 people.

Commenting the three biblical readings of today's liturgy, the Pope pointed out how they all "speak of God as the center of all reality and the center of our personal life."

Benedict XVI then praised the Church in Germany as being "outstanding for her social activities, for her readiness to help wherever help is needed." In this context he recalled how bishops on their "ad limina" visits, most recently African bishops, "have always mentioned with gratitude the generosity of German Catholics."

Nonetheless, he went on, "when we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little. All too quickly the mechanisms of violence take over: the capacity to destroy and to kill becomes the dominant way to gain power. ... Reconciliation, and a shared commitment to justice and love, recede into the distance."

"People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time they are frightened by a form of rationality which totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason, and one to be imposed on their cultures too. They do not see the real threat to their identity in the Christian faith, but in the contempt for God and the cynicism that considers mockery of the sacred to be an exercise of freedom and that holds up utility as the supreme moral criterion for the future of scientific research."

"This cynicism is not the kind of tolerance and cultural openness that the world's peoples are looking for and that all of us want! The tolerance which we urgently need includes the fear of God, respect for what others hold sacred. ... This sense of respect can be reborn in the Western world only if faith in God is reborn, if God become once more present to us and in us. We impose this faith upon no one. ... Faith can develop only in freedom. But we do appeal to the freedom of men and women to be open to God, to seek Him, to hear His voice."

"The world needs God," exclaimed Pope Benedict. "We need God. But what God? ... Jesus, the Son of God incarnate. His 'vengeance' is the Cross: a 'no' to violence and a 'love to the end.' This is the God we need. We do not fail to show respect for other religions and cultures, profound respect for their faith, when we proclaim clearly and uncompromisingly the God Who counters violence with His own suffering; who in the face of the power of evil exalts his mercy, in order that evil may be limited and overcome. To Him we now lift up our prayer, that He may remain with us and help us to be credible witnesses to Himself."

After the Eucharistic celebration, and before praying the Angelus, the Holy Father addressed a prayer to Mary: "She is and remains the handmaid of the Lord who never puts herself at the center, but wishes to guide us towards God, to teach us a way of life in which God is acknowledge as the center of all there is and the center of our personal lives."

At the conclusion of the Mass, the Pope travelled to the archbishop's palace where he had lunch with the members of his entourage and guests.


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