.- With 10,000 people gathered in St. Peter’s Square, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated Wednesday’s general audience to retracing the stages of his journey to the Czech Republic. The history of the region, the Pope explained, shows us that progress must either be rooted in “integral human formation” or risk falling prey to dictators. In our day, the dictator is relativism, coupled with the dominance of technology.
The journey to the Czech Republic, he said, “was both a true pilgrimage and a mission to the heart of Europe, a pilgrimage, because Bohemia and Moravia have for over one thousand years been territories of faith and holiness, a mission, because Europe needs to find in God and His love the firm foundation of hope.”
"The love of Christ is our strength,” the Pope stated, explaining that it is "a force which inspires and animates real revolution, peaceful and free, and which sustains us in times of crisis, allowing us to rise again when painfully recovered freedom is in danger of being lost, of loosing its true meaning.”
Recalling his visit to the Church of Our Lady Victorious in the Czech capital, where the famous statue of the Infant of Prague is located, Benedict XVI reminded the faithful that, “The love of Christ began to reveal itself in the face of a child." The Infant of Prague statue, he added, “reminds us of the mystery of God made man, God close to us, the foundation of our hope," and in that church "I prayed for children, parents and the future of families."
Prague’s castle, in the words of Pope Benedict, "contains numerous monuments, environments, institutions, almost like a polis: the cathedral, the palace, the square, the garden. Thus I could touch both the civil and religious which are not juxtaposed but in a harmonious closeness in their distinction.”
Thanking God for the success of the visit, the Pope recalled the ecumenical meeting in the Prague archbishop’s residence, where representatives of various Christian and Jewish communities were present. "Looking back at history and the bitter conflicts of the past,” he said, “it is a cause for gratitude to God to have found ourselves together to share our faith and historical responsibility in the face of current challenges. The effort to move towards a more full and visible unity among us makes our joint commitment to rediscover the Christian roots of Europe stronger and more effective.”
The Holy Father also recounted that in his encounter with the academic world he insisted on the role of universities in the context of the “common commitment to rediscover the Christian roots of Europe.”
"The University,” he concluded, “is a vital environment for society, ensuring peace and development, as demonstrated by the so-called 'Velvet Revolution.'"
"Twenty years afterwards, I raised the idea of integral human formation to counter a new dictatorship, that of relativism combined with the domination of technology. Humanistic and scientific culture cannot be separated, they are two sides of the same coin. The Czech lands themselves remind us of this, being home to great writers like Kafka and to abbot Mendel, pioneer of modern genetics."