Among the twelve speeches, homilies, messages, and greetings pronounced by Benedict XVI during his four-day trip to Brazil, the one most keenly awaited was the inaugural address for the fifth conference of the bishops' conference of Latin American and the Caribbean, in Aparecida.More
But the discourse that will be remembered in the future as the one most revealing of the pope's objectives was another. It was the one he delivered to the bishops of Brazil in the cathedral of Sao Paolo, at the end of Vespers on Friday, May 11.
It is the address reproduced further below.
The pope begins it with words "sharper than a sword": the words of the New Testament on perfect obedience to the Father of Jesus, the savior of all precisely because he was obedient in everything, even to the cross. The bishops, he asserts, are simply "bound" to this obedience: their mission is that of preaching the truth, baptizing, "saving souls one by one" in the name of Jesus.
"This, and nothing else, is the purpose of the Church," Benedict XVI emphasizes. Therefore, where the truth of the Christian faith is hidden, and where the sacraments are not celebrated, "the essential is also lacking for the solution of urgent social and political problems."
All of the instructions that the pope gave to the Brazilian bishops following the address descend from this foundation. Benedict XVI's clear intention is that of reestablishing Jesus, true God and true man, as the center of the Latin American Church: a Church that, in his judgment, has in recent decades strayed too far into political territory, under the influence of liberation theology.
For Benedict XVI, a strong effort of evangelization is the real response to the attacks against the family, to the crimes against life, to the abandoning of Catholicism in favor of the new "evangelical" and Pentecostal sects. And priestly celibacy also weakens when "the structure of total consecration to God begins to lose its deepest meaning." And the poor must also be offered "the divine balm of the faith, without overlooking material bread."
Evangelizing means teaching Christian truth in its entirety, as summarized in the Catechism. It means celebrating the sacraments, especially Confession and the Eucharist: not collective Confession, but individual, because "sin is a profoundly personal reality," and the Eucharist in keeping with the norms, because it "is never anyone's private property, neither of the celebrant nor of the community."
Tuesday, May 15, 2007
Sharper than a sword
~Sandro Magister in Chiesa: From Brazil Resounds a Word Sharper than a Sword