Pope Benedict believes that the Catholic Church of 2012 possesses “a more sober and humble joy” compared to the optimism that marked the Second Vatican Council’s opening 50 years ago.
“Over these fifty years we have learned and experienced how original sin exists and is translated, ever and anew, into individual sins which can also become structures of sin,” the Pope said during a candlelit vigil gathered in St. Peter’s Square to mark the opening of the Year of Faith Oct. 11.
“We have seen how weeds are also always present in the field of the Lord,” he added. “We have seen how Peter’s net also brings in bad fish.”
“We have seen how human fragility is also present in the Church, how the ship of the Church is also sailing against a counter wind and is threatened by storms; and at times we have thought that the Lord is sleeping and has forgotten us.”
The night time procession and vigil was organized by the lay Catholic Action movement in coordination with the Diocese of Rome. Pope Benedict spoke from the window of his study in scenes deliberately reminiscent of the opening day of Second Vatican Council on Oct. 11 1962.
“On this day fifty years ago I was in the square looking up at this window where the Good Pope, Blessed John XXIII, appeared and addressed us with unforgettable words, words full of poetry and goodness, words from the heart,” he recalled.
As a young priest, the Pope had participated in the Second Vatican Council as an academic adviser to Cardinal Joseph Frings of Cologne.
He also remembered how the happy and enthusiastic crowds of 1962 were certain that “a new springtime for the Church was in the offing.”
“Today too we are happy. We have joy in our hearts but, I would say, it is perhaps a more sober and humble joy,” Pope Benedict said.
Over the past half-century, he suggested, the Church has repeatedly witnessed “how the Lord does not forget us” but, instead, has brought forth new signs of life throughout the Church that “illuminate the world and give us a guarantee of God’s goodness.”
“In closing I make bold to echo the unforgettable words of Pope John: 'Go to your homes, give your children a kiss and say it is from the Pope.'”