On the Feast of the Holy Patrons of Rome, Benedict XVI addressed to all Catholics enduring words that also deserve to be heard beyond the visible boundaries of the Church, as he meditated upon what is essential: the truth. That truth which Peter and Paul preached, until their blood was poured out under Nero, bearing supreme witness ( martýrion , in Greek) to Christ in the capital of the Empire. The Roman Church is founded on the martyrdom of the two Apostles, just as over the centuries thousands of the faithful recognized, kneeling before their tombs that were already identified 18 centuries ago by Christian devotion, which is clearly rooted in history; just as Pius XII and Paul VI affirmed for St Peter and as their Successor is now affirming for St Paul.
Speaking of the convert on the road to Damascus the Pope recalled how, with Christ, a new way of worshipping God began, a personal and profoundly true devotion because it is realized in one's own life through interior renewal, which is the only way to change the world without conforming to it – to arrive at a new way of thinking and of being, not as children but as adults. But not, of course, in a childish way, as people have come to twist the expression “adult faith”, seeing it as a mature and courageous attitude possibly even opposed to the Magisterium of the Church. With bitter irony Benedict XVI recalled that this is not the way to show great courage in today's de-Christianized society.
An adult faith, on the other hand, the Pope described as faith in the truth that knows how to uphold the inviolability of human life – from its very first moments – and to the ordering, which is natural and Christian, of indissoluble marriage. It is opposing falsehood in the name of truth, which cannot be separated from love. And the commitment to truth that looks to Christ is profound: “We need a reason illumined by the heart, to learn to act in accordance with the truth in love”, Benedict XVI summarized.
Since his studies and youthful works, Joseph Ratzinger, steeped in the Christian tradition, has set himself the goal of explaining the “alphabet of faith” in our day, and as the Successor of Peter he is continuing to carry out this service which is at the same time theological and pastoral.
And through the first of the Apostles he has looked once again to Christ, the “Bishop of souls”, in the solemn Liturgy for the conferral of the pallium, which also visibly expresses Catholic communion.
To descend to the depths of the truth witnessed by the Apostles and to repeat that – despite the conformism of the world and despite the enemies, once again identified by the Gospel term: “wolves” – after the example of Peter and Paul and Saints such as Francis, the Curé d’Ars and Padre Pio, the task of Bishops and priests is above all to open hearts and souls to God. Because only in this way is it possible to make God present in the world and thus to renew it.
St. Peter’s Square
Feb. 18, 2020
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