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In Syria on behalf of the Pope and of the Synod

· A delegation of the Synod of Bishops will go to Damascus to express solidarity, closeness and encouragement for an agreement that respects the rights and duties of all ·

And at the General Audience Benedict XVI begins a new series of Reflections on the Year of Faith

Benedict XVI has arranged to send a delegation to Syria to express solidarity and closeness to the tormented people of that nation, both on behalf of the Synod of Bishops and on his own behalf, . Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, announced this yesterday afternoon, Tuesday, 16 October, during the work of the 14th General Congregation. And this morning, while the Synod Fathers were contiuing their interventions on the new evangelization, the Pope at the General Audience fitted its content into the Year of Faith, to which he expressed his wish to dedicate a new series of Catecheses, temporarily interrupting the series on the school of prayer.

A special Year, as Benedict XVI described it – announced in order that “the Church might witness in practice to the transforming power of faith”. It is made necessary he explained, “by the cultural transformations under way”, that “frequently show us so many forms of barbarity”, which are passed off as “conquests of civilization”. While, “wherever there is domination, possession, exploitation and the commodification of others through personal selfishness, wherever there is the arrogance of the 'I' withdrawn into the self, the human being is impoverished, debased and disfigured”.

On the contrary, it is “only Christian faith, active in charity and strong in hope” that “does not limit but rather humanizes life”.

In short, the year of Faith must be an opportunity “for returning to God”. And Benedict XVI reflected on the problem of the 'rule of faith', in other words its essential content. For the Pontiff this is found in the Creed, which must be better “known, understood and prayed”, and, especially, “'recognized'.  Indeed, knowing may be a merely intellectual operation, whereas 'recognizing'” implies “the need to discover the deep connection between the truth we profess in the Creed and our daily existence, so that these truths may truly be in practice”, he added with two evocative images, “light for our steps on the way through life, water that refreshes us on the parched stretches of our journey”. And this means in practice illuminating the “cultural transformation” under way with “Christian truths”, specially where life is  “lived frivolously, with no clear ideals or and well-founded hopes and within fluid and temporary social ties”, or “in experiments that do not last and without  the assumption of responsibility”. And this can be said of many Christians who often do not even know “the central core” of the Catholic faith, leaving room for syncretism and relativism, and for “do-it-yourself” religions.

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