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From Babel to unity

· Benedict XVI presides at Mass in the Vatican Basilica for the Solemnity of Pentecost ·

On 7 October St John of Avila and St Hildegard of Bingen will be Doctors of the Church

"The break-up of Babel is contrasted with the unity of Pentecost”. In these words Benedict XVI recalled the “perennial truth” of the biblical narrative which describes the attempt of men “to be like God” as building a way to heaven by themselves.

The Pope, presiding at Mass in the Vatican Basilica on Sunday, 27 May, the Solemnity of Pentecost, said in his Homily that he was convinced that in in our day too, marked by enormous progress in the fields of communications and science, “we are reliving

the same experience as Babel”.  The signs the Pontiff pointed out are different and disturbing. “Imbalances endure” he said, “that all too often lead to conflicts; dialogue between the generations is heavy-going and at times antagonization prevails; we are witnessing daily events in which we find people becoming more aggressive and more belligerent”. In this situation, he added, “praying to God seems obsolete or pointless”, while among people “a sense of mutual mistrust,  suspicion and fear” seems to be widespread.

So what is the way to recover “the ability to agree, to understand each other and to work together”?  “We find the answer”, the Pope assured the faithful, “in Sacred Scripture: unity can only exist as a gift of God’s Spirit who will give us a new heart and a new language, a new ability to communicate”. This presupposes that “behaving as Christians means no longer being shut into our own 'ego' but rather being open to all things: it means inwardly welcoming the whole Church”, rejecting “the tendency to dominate others” and choosing “the joy of disinterested service”.

At the end of Mass, before the recitation of the Regina Caeli, the Pope announced that next 7 October he would proclaim St John of Avila and St Hildegard of Bingen Doctors of the Church.

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