Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The message of Benedict XVI to Urban, religions and mission.

October 23, 2014

di Benedetto XVI

I would first like to express my heartfelt thanks to the Rector and to the academic authorities of the Pontifical Urban University More Officers and Representatives of Students, for their proposal to name to my name, the Great Hall restored. I would like to thank in a special way the Chancellor of the University, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, to have welcomed this initiative. It is a great joy for me to be so ever-present in the work of the Pontifical Urban University.

Over the course of several visits that I could do as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I was always impressed by the universality of that reigns in this university, where young people from almost all countries of the world are preparing for the service to the Gospel in today's world. Even today, I see inside front of me, in this hall, a community made up of many young people, and we see vividly the wonderful reality of the Catholic Church.

"Catholic": this definition of the church, which belongs to the profession of faith since ancient times, carries something of Pentecost. It reminds us that the Church of Jesus Christ was never about one people or one culture, but from the beginning it was intended to humanity. The last words Jesus said to his disciples were: "Make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19). And at the time of Pentecost the Apostles spoke in all languages, thus being able to demonstrate, through the power of the Holy Spirit, the full breadth of their faith.

Since then the Church has really grown on every continent. Your presence, dear students, dear students, reflects the face of the universal Church. The prophet Zechariah had announced a messianic kingdom which would go from sea to sea, and would have been a kingdom of peace (Zech 9.9s.). In fact, wherever the Eucharist is celebrated and men, with the Lord, they become one body between them, there is something of that peace which Jesus Christ had promised to give to his disciples. Dear friends, be co-operators of this peace, in a world torn and violent, it becomes increasingly urgent to build and preserve. This is why it is so important to the work of your university, in which you want to learn how to get closer to Jesus Christ to become His witnesses.

The Risen Lord commissioned his apostles, and through them the disciples of all time, to bring his word to the ends of the earth and make disciples of men. The Second Vatican Council, taking in the decree "Ad Gentes", a constant tradition, has highlighted the deep reasons for this missionary task and did so with renewed force assigned to the Church of today.

But is it really more? - Is asked by many today, both inside and outside the Church—indeed, the mission is still relevant? Would not it be more appropriate to meet in dialogue between religions together and serve the cause of peace in the world? The counter-question: Is the dialogue can replace the mission? Today, many, in fact, have the idea that religions should respect each other and, in the dialogue between them, becoming a joint peacekeeping force. In this way of thinking, most of the time it takes for the assumption that the different religions are variants of one and the same reality; that "religion" is the common gender, which takes different forms according to the different cultures, but still expresses the same reality. The question of truth, the one that originally moved the Christians more than anything else, here is put in brackets. It is assumed that the real truth about God, ultimately, is unattainable and that at best we can to make present that which is ineffable only with a variety of symbols. This renunciation of the truth seems realistic and helpful to the peace among the religions in the world.

And yet it is deadly to the faith. Indeed, faith loses its binding nature and its seriousness, if all boils down to basically interchangeable symbols, able to postpone only from afar the inaccessible mystery of the divine.

Dear friends, you see that the issue of mission places us not only to meet the basic questions of faith but also in front of that of what man is. Within a short welcome address, obviously I can not groped to analyze this issue in a comprehensive way that profoundly affects all of us today. I would, however, at least hint at the direction that should take our thinking. I do this by moving from two different starting points.


1 The common opinion is that religions are as it were side by side, as the continents and individual countries on the map. However, this is not accurate. Religions are moving at a historic level, as they are moving peoples and cultures. There are religions in waiting. The tribal religions are of this type: they have their moment in history, and yet they are waiting for a larger meeting that leads to fullness.
We, as Christians, we believe that, in the silence, they await the encounter with Jesus Christ, the light that comes from him, which alone can bring them fully to their truth. And Christ awaits them. The encounter with him is not the intrusion of a stranger who destroys their own culture and their own history. It is, however, the entrance into something bigger, to which they are on the way. So this meeting is always at a time, purification and maturation. Moreover, the meeting is always mutual. Christ expects their history, their wisdom, their view of things.

Today we see more and more clearly another aspect: while in the countries of its great history of Christianity in many ways has become tired and some branches of the great tree grew from the mustard seed of the Gospel have become dry and fall to the ground, the encounter with Christ of religions in waiting comes new life. Where before there was only fatigue, manifest and bring joy to new dimensions of faith.

2. The religion itself is not a unitary phenomenon. In it are always more distinct dimensions. On one side is the magnitude of reaching out beyond the world, to the eternal God. Yet, on the other hand, there are elements in it arising from the history of the men and their practice of religion. Where we can (rivenirsi) rediscover, re-find, certainly noble and beautiful things, but also low and destructive, where selfishness of man has taken possession of religion, and instead of an opening, turned it into a closure in their own space.

For this reason, religion is never simply a phenomenon only positive or only negative: in it one or the other aspect are mixed. At its beginnings, the Christian mission felt very strongly, especially the negative elements of the pagan religions in which he met. For this reason, the Christian message was at first extremely critical of religion. Only by overcoming their traditions and in part also considered demonic faith could develop its renewing power. On the basis of elements of this kind, the Protestant theologian Karl Barth put in opposition to religion and faith, judging the first in an absolutely negative as arbitrary behaviour of the man who tries, from himself, to grasp God. Dietrich Bonhoeffer has taken answer to this setting in favor of a Christianity "without religion. "It is without doubt one-sided view that can not be accepted. Yet it is fair to say that every religion, to stay in the right, at the same time must also always be critical of religion. Clearly this is true, since its inception, and according to its nature, the Christian faith, which, on the one hand, looks great compared to the deep hold and the deep richness of religions, but on the other hand, sees a critical Also what is negative. It goes without saying that the Christian faith must constantly develop the critical force also in relation to its religious history.

For us Christians, Jesus Christ is the Logos of God, the light that helps us to distinguish between the nature of religion and its distortion.

3. In our time becomes ever stronger voice for those who want to convince us that religion as such is outdated. One critical reason should guide the actions of man. Behind such views is the belief that the positivistic thought the reason in all its purity has finally acquired the domain. In fact, even this way of thinking and living is historically conditioned and tied to certain historical cultures. Consider it as the only valid belittle the man, taking away essential dimensions of its existence. Man becomes smaller, not larger, when there is no space for an ethos that, according to its true nature, to over pragmatism, when there is no more space for our gaze fixed on God. proper place of reason positivist is in the major areas of action of the technique and the economy, and yet it does not exhaust all that is human. So, it is up to us again and again that we throw open the doors, beyond mere technique and pure pragmatism, leading to all the greatness of our existence, the encounter with the living God.


1 These reflections, perhaps a little 'difficult, should show that even today, in a world profoundly changed, it remains reasonable to the task of communicating to others the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
And yet there is also a second way, easier to justify today this task. The joy demands to be communicated. Love demands to be communicated. The truth demands to be communicated. Who received a great joy, he can not simply keep it for themselves, they must pass it on. The same applies to the gift of love, for the gift of recognition of the truth that is manifested.

When Andrea met Christ, he could not help but say to his brother: "We have found the Messiah" (Jn 1:41). And Philip, who had been given the same meeting, he could not help but say to Nathanael that he had found him of whom Moses and the prophets had written (John 1:45). We proclaim Jesus Christ to bring to our community as many members as possible; and much less power. Let’s talk about Him because we feel we need to transmit the joy that was given to us.

We will be credible proclaimers of Jesus Christ when we have truly met in the depths of our existence, when, through the encounter with Him, we will have been given the great experience of truth, love and joy.

2. It is part of the nature of religion, the deep tension between the mystical offer to God, in which we totally over him, and responsibility for others and the world he created. Martha and Mary are always inseparable, even if, from time to time, the emphasis can fall on one or other. The meeting point between the two poles is the love in which we touch at the same time God and his creatures. "We have known and believed the love" (1 Jn 4:16): This phrase expresses the true nature of Christianity. The love that is achieved and is reflected in multifaceted way in the saints of all time, is the authentic proof of the truth of Christianity.

Benedetto XVI

The language does not flow well because it was translated from Italian by and online translator.


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