.- Troubled times in the Catholic Church and increasing secularization can be an opportunity for renewal, Pope Benedict XVI said in Germany.
The Pope looked back on the history of the Church during Sept. 25 remarks to a group of Catholics involved in German civil society. He observed that times of persecution and difficulty have often contributed “significantly” to the Church’s “purification and inner reform.”
“Secularizing trends – whether by expropriation of Church goods, or elimination of privileges or the like – have always meant a profound liberation of the Church from forms of worldliness, for in the process she has set aside her worldly wealth and has once again completely embraced her worldly poverty,” he said.
The Pope suggested that once freed from her “material and political burdens,” the Church can “reach out more effectively and in a truly Christian way to the whole world.”
Thus the Church avoids giving greater weight to “organization and institutionalization (rather) than to her vocation” which is to be “a tool of salvation, in filling the world with God’s word and in transforming the world by bringing it into loving unity with God.”
This, however, doesn’t not mean that the Church should or can change her teachings. Pope Benedict recounted an anecdote from the life of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta who was once asked what was the first thing that would have to change in the Church.
“Her answer was: you and I,” recalled the Pope.
Today’s gathering took place in the south western city of Freiburg on, this, the last day of Pope Benedict’s state visit to Germany. The Pope praised those attending the address, held in the local diocesan seminary, for standing up for the “faith and for the Church something that is not always easy at the present time.” He recognized that the scandal of clerical abuse was often obscuring the Church’s preaching of the “scandal of the cross.”
“A dangerous situation arises when these scandals take the place of the primary scandal of the Cross and in so doing they put it beyond reach, concealing the true demands of the Christian Gospel behind the unworthiness of those who proclaim it.”
Earlier in the afternoon Pope Benedict also met with the judges of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court. Established wake of the Second World War, the court’s 16 judges operate as Germany’s supreme court and adjudicate on the interpretation of the “Grundgesetz,” Germany’s basic law.
The Pope also met briefly with the organizing committee, benefactors and security teams who have made his four-day state visit to Germany possible in order to thank them for their efforts.