The Holy Father's Week

June 7-13, 2008
by Brother John Mullan, LC - Edit | Source:

Benedict XVI’s Key Messages This Week
June 7-13, 2008

Interreligious dialogue needs adequate formation: “It is important to emphasize the need for formation for those who promote interreligious dialogue. If it is to be authentic, this dialogue must be a journey of faith. How necessary it is for its promoters to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed about those of others. It is for this reason that I encourage the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to organize formation courses and programs in interreligious dialogue for different Christian groups, especially seminarians and young people in tertiary educational institutions.” (Address to the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, Saturday, June 7)

Christian faith can help open philosophy to a deeper understanding of man: “From the beginning of my pontificate I have listened attentively to the petitions made to me by men and women of our time; in the light of such expectations, I wished to offer a research proposal which, it seems to me, would awaken interest in the relaunching of philosophy and its irreplaceable role within the academic and cultural world. A good understanding of modernity reveals an ‘anthropological question’ that manifests itself in a much more complex and articulated way than that foreseen by the philosophical reflections of the last centuries, above all in Europe. […] The Christian faith must descend to a concrete historical experience that reaches man in the most profound truth of his existence. The understanding of Christianity as a real transformation of the existence of man, if on one hand it drives philosophical reflection to a new approach to religion, on the other it encourages it not to lose confidence in being able to know reality.” (Address to participants in the 6th European Symposium of University Professors, Saturday, June 7)

The message of Christianity is one of love for God and neighbor: “At the center of the Liturgy of the Word this Sunday there is an expression of the prophet Hosea that Jesus takes up again in the Gospel: ‘I want love and not sacrifice, knowledge of God more than holocausts’ (Hosea 6:6). We have a key word here, one that opens for us the door to the heart of sacred Scripture. The context in which Jesus makes it his own, is the call of Matthew. […] The importance of this expression of the prophet is such that the Lord repeats it again in another context, in regard to the observance of the Sabbath (cf. Matthew 12:1-8). Even in this context he assumes the responsibility for the interpretation of this precept, revealing himself as the ‘Lord’ of the legal institutions themselves. […] He made these words his own with all of his heart and he realized them in his conduct even at the cost of vexing the leaders of his people. This word of God has reached us, through the Gospels, as one of the syntheses of the entire Christian message: true religion consists in the love of God and neighbor. This is what gives liturgical worship and observance of the precepts their value.” (Address before praying the midday Angelus, St Peter’s Square, Sunday, June 8)

The secret to success for priests is union with Christ: “Union with Christ is the secret of authentic success for the ministry of each priest. Whatever work you undertake in the Church, ensure that you always remain his true friends, faithful friends who have met him and have learned to love him above all else. Communion with him, the divine master of our souls, will ensure you serenity and peace even in the most complex and difficult moments. […] May prayer, meditation and listening to the word of God be your daily bread. May the celebration of the Eucharist be the core and the focus of your every day and of your entire ministry. [...] It is not possible to approach the Lord every day, to pronounce those tremendous moving words, ‘this is my body, this is my blood,’ [...] to take the body and blood of the Lord in our hands, without allowing ourselves to be seized by him, [...] without allowing his infinite love to change us within.” (Address to priest-students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, Monday, June 9)

To have hope and find meaning in our lives, we need to take God out of parentheses: “In today’s society and culture, and hence also in this our beloved city of Rome, it is not easy to live in an atmosphere of Christian hope. There is a widespread feeling that, for both Italy and Europe, the best years have passed and that a future of instability and uncertainty awaits the new generations. Moreover, hopes for great novelties and improvements are concentrated on science and technology. Yet it is not science and technology that can give meaning to our lives and teach us to distinguish good from evil. Indeed, as I wrote in my encyclical ‘Spe Salvi,’ it is not science that redeems man: man is redeemed by love, and this applies even in terms of the present world. Our civilization and our culture [...] too often tend to put God in parentheses, to organize personal and social life without him, to maintain that nothing can be known of God, even to deny his existence. But when God is laid aside, [...] all our hopes, great and small, rest on nothing. In order, then, to ‘educate for hope’ – as we propose in this congress and during the coming pastoral year – it is necessary, in the first place, to open our hearts, our intellects and all our lives to God, in order to be his credible witnesses among our fellow man.” (Inauguration address, ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome, Monday, June 9)

St. Columban nourished Europe’s Christian roots with faith and love: “St. Columban’s message is centered on a firm call to conversion and detachment from the goods of the earth in view of our eternal heritage. With his ascetic life and his conduct free from compromises in face of the corruption of the powerful, he evokes the severe figure of John the Baptist. His austerity, however, was never an end in itself, but was only the means to open himself freely to the love of God and correspond with his whole being to the gifts received from him, thus reconstructing in himself the image of God and at the same time cultivating the earth and renewing human society. […] A man of great culture – he also wrote poetry in Latin and a grammar book – he proved himself to be rich in gifts of grace. He was a tireless builder of monasteries as well as an intransigent penitential preacher, spending all his energy to nourish the Christian roots of Europe, which was being born. With his spiritual energy, with his faith, with his love for God and for his neighbor, he truly became one of the fathers of Europe: he shows us even today the roots from which our Europe can be reborn.” (Catechesis during the general audience, Wednesday, June 11)

Some activities of the Holy Father


Saturday, June 7: The Pope received in audience participants in the plenary meeting of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. He also met with participants in the 6th European Symposium of University Professors.


Sunday, June 8: The Holy Father prayed the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square.


Monday, June 9: The Pope inaugurated the ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran. He also received in audience students from the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, the institution that trains candidates for the Holy See diplomatic service.


Wednesday, June 11: The Pope held his weekly general audience in Paul VI Hall, in which he dedicated his catechesis to the figure of St. Columban. He also received in audience the participants in a Muslim-Catholic committee meeting in Rome.


Thursday, June 14: Pope Benedict received bishops from Bangladesh, who were in Rome their five-yearly visit to the Vatican.

A prayer for the Holy Father

Christ Jesus, King and Lord of the Church, in your presence I renew my unconditional loyalty to your Vicar on earth, the Pope. In him you have chosen to show us the safe and sure path that we must follow in the midst of confusion, uneasiness, and unrest. I firmly believe that through him you govern, teach, and sanctify us; with him as our shepherd, we form the true Church: one, holy, catholic, and apostolic. Grant me the grace to love, live, and spread faithfully our Holy Father’s teachings. Watch over his life, enlighten his mind, strengthen his spirit, defend him from calumny and evil. Calm the erosive winds of infidelity and disobedience. Hear our prayer and keep your Church united around him, firm in its belief and action, that it may truly be the instrument of your redemption. Amen.

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