On the Pope's Mission
"To Make Present Among Men the Peace of God"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 24, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence at Castel Gandolfo.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters!
This Sunday's liturgy addresses the twofold question that Jesus one day posed to his disciples, to us Christians, and to every man and woman. First he asks them: "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" They told him that for some he was John the Baptist come back to life, for others, Elijah, Jeremiah or one of the prophets. Then the Lord directly asked the disciples: "Who do you say that I am?" Peter speaks decisively and with enthusiasm on behalf of all: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." A solemn proclamation of faith that the Church has continued to repeat ever since.
We too today desire to proclaim with deep conviction: Yes, Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God! We do this knowing that Christ is the true "treasure" for which it is worth sacrificing everything; he is the friend who never abandons us, because he knows the most intimate longings of our heart. Jesus is the "Son of the living God," the promised Messiah, who has come to earth to offer salvation and to satisfy the thirst for life and love that inhabits every human being. How much humanity would gain by welcoming this proclamation that brings joy and peace with it!
"You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God." In response to this inspired profession of faith from Peter, Jesus says: "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build my Church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. To you I will give the keys of the kingdom of heaven."
This is the first time that Jesus speaks of the Church, whose mission is the actuation of the great design of God to gather the whole of humanity into one family in Christ. The mission of Peter, and of his successors, is precisely to serve this unity of the one Church of God made up of pagans and Jews; his indispensable ministry is to make sure that the Church never identifies herself with any particular nation or culture, but that she be the Church of all peoples, to make present among men -- who are marked by countless divisions and contrasts -- the peace of God, the unity of those who have become brothers and sisters in Christ: This is the unique mission of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter.
Before the enormous responsibility of this task, I feel more and more the obligation and importance of the service to the Church and the world that has been entrusted to me. Because of this I ask you dear brothers and sisters to support me with your prayer, so that, faithful to Christ, together we can announce and bear witness to his presence in our time. May Mary, whom we confidently invoke as Mother of the Church and Star of Evangelization, obtain this grace for us.
[Following the Angelus, the Pope said the following:]
The growing tensions around the world in recent weeks is cause for lively concern. We must note, with bitterness, the threat of a progressive deterioration in the climate of confidence and cooperation that should characterize relations between nations. In the present circumstances, how can we not measure the difficulty with which humanity strives to form that common awareness of being the "family of nations" that John Paul II indicated as the ideal to the general assembly of the United Nations? We must deepen the awareness of being united by a common destiny, that, in the final analysis, is a transcendent destiny (Cf. "Message for the World Day of Peace," Jan. 1, 2006, No. 6), to avert the return to nationalistic conflicts that in other historical periods have had such tragic consequences.
The recent events have weakened the confidence in many that such experiences had been consigned to the past. But we must not give in to pessimism! We must instead actively commit ourselves to reject the temptation to confront new situations with old systems. Violence must be repudiated! The moral force of law, equitable and transparent negotiations to settle controversies, beginning with those linked to the territorial integrity and self-determination of peoples, fidelity to the word given, pursuit of the common good: These are some of the principal routes to take, with tenacity and creativity, to build fruitful and sincere relations and to guarantee to present and future generations times of concord and moral and civil progress!
Let us transform these thoughts and these desires into prayer, so that all the members of the international community and those, in particular, who have been given great responsibility, will work with generosity to re-establish the superior motivations of justice and peace. Mary, Queen of peace, intercede for us!
[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
[Then the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus prayer. Today's Liturgy reminds us that as Christians we profess with Simon Peter that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God. As members of the Church may we always find the courage to live faithfully and bear witness in word and deed to Christ our Lord and Saviour. I wish you all a pleasant stay in Castel Gandolfo and Rome, and a blessed Sunday!
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