Thursday, September 21, 2006

Pope's Wednesday General Audience emphasizes highlights of pastoral visit to Bavaria

Pope Benedict reiterated that his words at the University of Regensburg were meant to emphasize that "not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together."

Agenzia Fides

At his Wednesday General Audience Pope Benedict XVI retraces the steps of his pastoral visit to Bavaria: a returning to the past and a providential opportunity to look with hope to the future

Vatican City (Agenzia Fides) - Addressing about 40,000 visitors gathered in St Peter’s Square this morning for the weekly Wednesday audience Pope Benedict XVI told them about his recent visit to his German homeland Bavaria. He explained the reason for his visit, to remember all those who helped form his personality, “and to reaffirm and confirm, as Successor of Peter, the close bonds between the See of Rome and the Church in Germany. More than a journey to my roots, it was an opportunity to look forward with hope. Under the motto “those who believe are never alone” I invited all to reflect on the baptised person’s membership in the Church where, never alone, one is in constant communion with God and others..”

First of all the Holy Father went to the city of Munich, to Marienplatz, where there is a column the Mariensäule bearing a famous centuries old statue of the Virgin and Child: “in that square, at the foot of that same image of Mary about thirty years ago, I was welcomed as Archbishop of Munich and began my ministry as such with a prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary - the Pope said -; at the end of my mandate before leaving for Rome I had returned to that place. This time I went to pray at the foot of the Mariensäule to implore the intercession and blessing of the Mother of God not only for the city of Munich and for Bavaria but for the whole Church and the whole world”. The next day in his homily during open air Mass at Munich’s new exhibition centre Neue Messe the Pope said people today were ‘hard of hearing’ with regard to God. “It is our duty as Christians in a secularised world to proclaim and bear witness to the message of hope offered by the faith” the Pope said. In the evening at Vespers with children who made their First Holy Communion recently and their families, catechists and other pastoral workers, Pope Benedict XVI said: “God is not in some distant unreachable place in the universe; on the contrary, in Jesus He has come close to us to establish with each human person a relationship of friendship”.

Most of Monday 11 September the Pope spent in Altötting, a greatly loved Marian Shrine where there is the famous Black Madonna: “With a thousands of faithful present for Mass celebrated in the square in front of the Church we reflected on the role of Mary in the work of salvation and to learn from her how to be helpful kindness, humility and generous acceptance of God’s will” the Pope said. The next day Tuesday 12 September, in Regensburg, the Pope celebrated another open air Mass, this time at Islinger Feld, “during which, returning to the theme of the pastoral visit "Those who believe are never alone” we reflected on the contents of the Creed”; in the late afternoon in Regensburg, the Pope presided an ecumenical celebration of Vespers: “a providential opportunity to pray together to hasten the coming of full unity among the disciples of Christ and to reaffirm our duty to proclaim integrally and clearly our faith in Jesus Christ above all through our behaviour of sincere love.”

“A particularly moving experience that day was the opportunity to give a lecture to a large auditorium of professors and students at University of Regensburg, where I was a professor for many years - the Pope continued - … The subject I had chosen was the question of the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce the auditorium to the dramatic relevance of the topic I quoted a few words, part of a Christian/Muslim dialogue in the 14th century, with which the Christian interlocutor - Byzantine Emperor Manuel II Paleologo - in a manner for us today incomprehensibly brusque - presented to the Muslim interlocutor the problem of the relationship between religion and violence. That quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding. In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor. I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together. The theme of my lecture - responding to the University’s mission - was therefore the relationship between faith and religion: I intended to invite the Christian faith to dialogue with the modern world and all the different cultures and religions. I hope that on various occasions during my visit - for example in Munich when I underlined the importance of respecting that which for others is sacred - I made clear my deep respect for the great religions and in particular for Muslims who "adore One God" and with whom we are committed to "to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom. " (Nostra Aetate, 3). I trust therefore that after certain initial reactions, my words at Regensburg University will give new impulse and encouragement for positive dialogue, and self-criticism, among religions and among modern reason and the faith of Christians.”

The Pope’s last engagement was on Thursday 14 September a meeting with clergy and permanent deacons in the Cathedral of Freising. “Reliving the emotion of my ordination to the priesthood- the Pope said XVI - , I reminded those present of the duty to collaborate with the Lord to encourage new vocations at the service of the "harvest" which also today is "plentiful", and I encouraged them to cultivate the interior life as a pastoral priority, so as not to lose contact with Christ, source of joy in the daily fatigue of the ministry”.

At the farewell ceremony “once again thanking all who worked hard for the visit, I reaffirmed its main purpose: to re-propose to my countrymen and women the eternal truths of the Gospel and confirm believers in their fidelity to Christ, the Son of God, who became man, died and rose again for us ”. (S.L.) (Agenzia Fides 20/9/2006, righe 71, parole 1040)

See the Pope's address


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