THE POPE: DESPITE THE WEAKNESS OF MAN, THE LORD WILL ALWAYS SUPPORT HIS CHURCH
At the end of today’s general audience, the Holy Father made some remarks concerning recent developments in the Vatican.
“The events of recent days involving the Curia and my collaborators have brought sadness to my heart. However, I have never lost my firm certainty that, despite the weakness of man, despite difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Lord will ensure she never lacks the help she needs to support her on her journey.
“Nonetheless there has been increasing conjecture, amplified by the communications media, which is entirely gratuitous, goes beyond the facts and presents a completely unrealistic image of the Holy See. Thus, I wish to reiterate my trust and encouragement to my closest collaborators and to all those people who every day, in silent faithlessness and with a spirit of sacrifice, help me carry out my ministry.”
WE MUST NOT ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE OVERCOME BY TRIBULATIONS AND DIFFICULTIES
During his general audience this morning, which was celebrated in St. Peter’s Square, the Holy Father continued a series of catecheses on Christian prayer according to St. Paul who, the Pope said, saw it as “a real individual encounter with God the Father, in Christ, through the Holy Spirit. This dialogue comprehends the faithful ‘yes’ on the part of God and the trusting ‘amen of the faithful.”
In his explanation of this relationship Benedict XVI focused on the Second Letter to the Corinthians, where the Apostle writes: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
Comfort, the Pope explained, is not to be understood as mere consolation, but as an “exhortation not to allow ourselves to be overcome by tribulations and difficulties. We are invited to experience every situation in unity with Christ, Who takes all the suffering and sin of the world upon Himself in order to bring light, hope and redemption. Thus He enables us, in our turn, to console those who are afflicted by any kind of suffering.” Profound union with Christ in prayer, and confidence in His presence, predispose us to share the sufferings of our brothers and sisters.
“Our life and our Christian journey are often marked by difficulty, misunderstandings and pain”, the Holy Father went on. “In a faithful relationship with the Lord, in constant daily prayer, we are able to feel the consolation that comes from God. This strengthens our faith because it means that we enjoy a concrete experience of God’s ‘yes’ to man . . . in Christ, the faithfulness of His love which went so far as to give His Son on the cross.”
The faith, a gratuitous gift of God, is rooted in His fidelity, “in His ‘yes’ which leads us to understand how to live our lives while loving Him and our neighbor. The entire history of salvation is a progressive revelation of this fidelity of God’s, despite our own infidelity and our constant denials.”
In this context the Pope pointed out that God’s way of acting is quite different from that of man. “Faced with conflict in human relationships, often even within the family, we tend not to persevere in gratuitous love, which requires commitment and sacrifice. However God never loses patience with us and, in His immense mercy, precedes us always and comes out to meet us. . . . On the cross He offers us the measure of His love, which is not calculated and has no limit.” Such faithful love can wait even for those who reject it. God always seeks man and wishes to welcome him into His communion, to give him fullness of life, hope and peace.
Onto the ‘yes’ of God is grafted the ‘amen’ of the Church, the response of faith with which we conclude our prayers and which expresses our own ‘yes’ to God’s initiative. “In our prayers we are called to say ‘yes’ to God, to respond with an ‘amen’ which is an expression of adherence, of faithfulness to Him with all of our lives. But we can never achieve such faithfulness by our own powers, it is not only the result of our daily efforts; it comes from God and is founded on the ‘yes’ of Christ. . . . We must enter into Christ’s ‘yes’ by following God’s will so that, with St. Paul, we too can affirm that it is not we who live, but Christ Himself Who lives in us. Then the ‘amen’ of our individual and community prayers will embrace and transform all of our lives.”
INTERVIEW WITH SUBSTITUTE FOR GENERAL AFFAIRS ON STOLEN PAPAL DOCUMENTS
The “Osservatore Romano” newspaper today published an interview with Archbishop Angelo Becciu, substitute for General Affairs of the Secretariat of State, concerning the question of stolen papal documents.
Archbishop Becciu says that he has seen the Holy Father “suffering because, on the basis of what has thus far emerged, someone very close to him would seem to have acted in a completely unjustifiable manner. Of course, the Pope’s prevailing sentiment is one of pity for the person involved, but the fact remains that he has been the victim of a brutal action. Benedict XVI has had to witness the publication of letters stolen from his own home, not simply private correspondence but information, reflections, expressions of states of mind, and effusive comments which he has received merely by virtue of his ministry. For this reason the Pope is particularly sorrowful, also for the violence suffered by the writers of the letters he has received.”
In the view of the Secretariat of State, the publication of these documents “is an immoral act of unprecedented gravity, especially because it is not just a serious violation of the privacy to which everybody should have the right, but a despicable abuse of the relationship of trust that exists between Benedict XVI and those who turn to him, even if they do so to express some heartfelt protest. The question does not merely involve the theft of some of the Pope’s letters; the consciences of those who address him as the Vicar of Christ have been violated, and the ministry of the Successor of the Apostle Peter has come under attack.”
It is, Archbishop Becciu said, unjustifiable to claim that the stolen documents were published for the cause of transparency and reform in the Church. Robbery and accepting stolen goods are both illegal. “These are simple concepts, perhaps too simple for some people, but certainly when a person loses sight of them he easily loses his way and also leads others into disaster. Renewal cannot trample moral law on the basis of the principle that the end justifies the means, which is not in any case a Christian principle.”
A number of articles which have appeared in newspapers in recent days have suggested that the published documents reveal turbid dealings inside the Vatican walls. On this subject the substitute for General Affairs notes that, “on the one hand they criticize the monarchic and absolutist nature of central Church government, while on the other they are scandalized because people who write to the Pope may express ideas or even complaints about how that government is organized. Many of the published documents do not reveal power struggles or vendettas but the freedom of thought which the Church is criticized for not allowing. . . . Diverging points of view, even contrasting evaluations, are part of the normal order, and if someone feels misunderstood he has every right to turn to the Pontiff. What is scandalous about that? Obedience does not mean renouncing one’s own opinions, but sincerely and fully expressing one’s point of view, then abiding by the leader’s decision.”
In conclusion Archbishop Becciu tells the Catholic faithful that “the Pope has not lost that serenity which enables him to govern the Church with determination and foresight. . . . We wish to echo the Gospel parable which the Holy Father himself mentioned a few days ago: the winds beat against the house but it does not fall. The Lord sustains it and no storm can bring it down.”
OTHER PONTIFICAL ACTS
The Holy Father appointed Fr. Jeremias Antonio de Jesus of the clergy of the diocese of Braganca Paulista, Brazil, pastor of the parish of “Cristo Rei” in the city of Atibaia, as bishop of Guanhaes (area 15.047, population 278,000, Catholics 248,000, priests 26, religious 16), Brazil. The bishop-elect was born in Atibaia in 1966 and ordained a priest in 1993. He has served in a number of parishes and worked as rector of the major diocesan seminary of “Imaculada Conceicao.”
Category: From the Vatican