September 10, 2006


Pope stresses Gospel over giving (Philip Pullella, 9/11/06, REUTERS NEWS AGENCY)

Western societies are losing their souls to scientific rationality and frightening believers in the developing world who still fear God, Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday during an open-air Mass in Germany.

Benedict, on the second day of a visit to his native Bavaria, said that spreading the good news of Jesus Christ is more important than all the emergency and development aid that rich churches such as those in Germany give to poor countries.

"People in Africa and Asia admire our scientific and technical prowess, but at the same time, they are frightened by a form of rationality that totally excludes God from man's vision, as if this were the highest form of reason," he said.

The pope also stressed the role of faith in fighting AIDS "by realistically facing its deeper causes," indirectly confirming the Roman Catholic Church's view that premarital abstinence and marital fidelity are the way to combat sexually transmitted diseases.

Benedict XVI Has Become a Franciscan: A true Franciscan. Against all the environmentalist, pacifist, and syncretistic distortions. Rebuilding the Church was the task Jesus assigned to the saint of Assisi. The pope has made him his own, and is re-proposing him as a model for today (Sandro Magister, 9/11/06, Chiesa)

The truth of Saint Francis – the pope emphasizes – is his “radical choice of Christ,” the conversion awakened in him by the words of the crucified Jesus: ‘Go, rebuild my house.’

Joseph Ratzinger has been thinking about this restoration of the true saint Francis for some time.

When in November of 2005 the pope appointed as bishop of Assisi Domenico Sorrentino – previously the secretary of the Vatican congregation for the liturgy – he, Benedict XVI, was the one who suggested to the new bishop that he dedicate his first pastoral letter to the conversion of saint Francis, which took place in 1206.

In the conversation he had with Sorrentino on the occasion of his appointment, the pope told him that “the entire meaning of the life of Francis is contained in the words with which the Crucifix of San Damiano sent Francis to rebuild the Church.”

The new bishop of Assisi was faithful to his charge. His first pastoral letter, published last Lent, has on the cover the image of the Crucifix of San Damiano (see photo), and for its title the words Jesus spoke to the saint: “Go, Francis, rebuild my house.”

In one passage of the pastoral letter, bishop Sorrentino quotes these words and then comments upon them:

“‘Go, Francis, rebuild my house, which, as you see, is all in ruins.’ These words from the Crucifix immediately prompted Francis to dedicate himself to the physical restoration of the little church of San Damiano and of other churches. But could this have been all that voice meant to say? The biographers interpret this as mission of the ‘Poverello’ for the spiritual renewal of Christendom. Without a doubt, this was also true. But it nevertheless seems to me that in the spiritual travail that the young Francis was living through, he perceived these words of vocation and mission as being in the first place an invitation to carry out completely the conversion that had already begun, making his own the concern and plans of Christ for his Church.”

The saint Francis that Benedict XVI wants to restore to his true nature is, therefore, a converted man who for the sake of Jesus crucified made a “radical choice,“ and from there “gradually came to understand what it meant to ‘rebuild the house of the Lord’.”

This model of conversion and holiness is, pope Ratzinger maintains, more valid than ever for today’s Church.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 10, 2006 11:45 PM
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