.- The Pope expressed sorrow over the Sandy Hook school shooting that massacred 20 children and offered prayers for the victims' families.
“I was deeply saddened by Friday's senseless violence in Newtown, Connnecticut,” said Pope Benedict XVI Dec. 16.
“I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer,” he told thousands gathered at St. Peter's Square for the Angelus prayer.
“May the God of consolation touch their hearts and their ease pain,” he said, adding that he “invoked God's blessings upon those affected by this tragedy.”
Marking the third Sunday of Advent, Pope Benedict spoke of the compatibility of love and justice.
“Justice and charity are not opposed, but both are necessary and complement each other,” he noted.
He stated that the gospel of Gaudete Sunday talks again about John the Baptist, who was at the Jordan River baptizing people and preparing them for the coming of Jesus.
“Justice calls to overcome the imbalance between those who have too much and those who lack basic necessities,” he said looking out from his window of the Apostolic Palace.
He noted that “charity urges us to be attentive to each other and face their needs, instead of finding excuses to defend one's own interests.”
“Love will always be necessary, even in the most just society, because there will always be situations of material need where help is indispensable in the form of concrete love of one's neighbor,” added the Pontiff.
The 85-year-old then blessed children from the Centro Oratori Romani, an association of lay catechists who promote pastoral public speaking in Rome, and their Baby Jesus statues, that will be taken later to schools, homes and parishes.
“I give a special greeting to the children who came to Rome for the traditional blessing of the Baby Jesus,” said Pope Benedict.
“As I bless the little statues of Jesus that you will put in your crib, I cordially bless each of you and your families as well as those from Centro Oratori Romani,” he added.
Pope Benedict said that John the Baptist gave three answers to people who asked him how they should prepare for the coming of Jesus.
The first was “he who has two coats, let him share with him who has none, and whoever has food must do likewise.”
The second answer John the Baptist gives is for tax collectors to change jobs.
“The prophet, in God's name, doesn't ask for exceptional gestures, but the honest fulfillment of duty above all,” said the Pope.
“The first step to eternal life is always keeping the commandments and in this case it's the seventh, thou shall not steal,” he stated.
John the Baptist gives a third order to prepare for the coming of the Messiah, which is to not abuse power that has been given to you.
“Again, the conversion starts with honesty and respect towards others, an indication that applies to everyone and especially for those with more responsibility,” said Pope Benedict.
“Things would be much better in our complex world if everyone observed these rules of conduct,” he added.