Pope Benedict calls Europe to return to the cross, the 'guiding star'

Pope Benedict calls Europe to return to the cross, the 'guiding star'


Developing further the concept of "new evangelization" in the world, Pope Benedict XVI has called all of Europe - especially young people - out of the darkness and into the light of faith.

Speaking to the faithful during Mass celebrated outside Santiago de Compostela's cathedral on Nov. 6, Benedict XVI reflected on the work of the apostles as recounted in the Gospels. The Gospels give account of the apostles' witness to Jesus' life, death and resurrection and their lives of service, drawing from Christ's example of humility and obedient to the Father's will, he said.

Employing this service as "an essential part of their being," disciples look to follow and imitate Christ, making God's love present "to all in every way and bear(ing) witness to him in the simplest of actions," he explained.

The Pontiff expressed his wish that the Gospel message of working together in community in a "logic of love and service" might reach all young people. Through the Gospel, he said, they will see a "path by which, in renouncing a selfish and short-sighted way of thinking so common today, and taking on instead Jesus’ own way of thinking, you may attain fulfillment and become a seed of hope."

The Holy Year of Santiago de Compostela, he said, also brings to mind these themes in experience of the pilgrimage which opens people's hearts "to what is the deepest and most common bond that unites us as human beings." That bond, he said, is that "we are in quest, we need truth and beauty, we need an experience of grace, charity, peace, forgiveness and redemption."

Turning to the Church in Europe, he said that "her contribution is centered on a simple and decisive reality: God exists and he has given us life.

"He alone is absolute, faithful and unfailing love, that infinite goal that is glimpsed behind the good, the true and the beautiful things of this world, admirable indeed, but insufficient for the human heart," said the Pope.

Looking to the most recent chapters in European history in which God has become excluded, Benedict XVI asked, "How can what is most decisive in life be confined to the purely private sphere or banished to the shadows?"

"We cannot live in darkness, without seeing the light of the sun. How is it then that God, who is the light of every mind, the power of every will and the magnet of every heart, be denied the right to propose the light that dissipates all darkness?

"This," he explained, "is why we need to hear God once again under the skies of Europe; may this holy word not be spoken in vain, and may it not be put at the service of purposes other than its own. It needs to be spoken in a holy way" and heard "in this way in ordinary life," he said.

"Europe must open itself to God," the Pope said. To do so he offered the cross, "the supreme sign of love," as a "guiding star in the night of time.

"The cross and love, the cross and light have been synonymous in our history because Christ allowed himself to hang there in order to give us the supreme witness of his love, to invite us to forgiveness and reconciliation, to teach us how to overcome evil with good.

"So," he said to the people, "do not fail to learn the lessons of that Christ whom we encounter at the crossroads of our journey and our whole life, in whom God comes forth to meet us as our friend, father and guide.

"Blessed Cross, shine always upon the lands of Europe!" he exclaimed.

Highlighting the importance of protecting the dignity of all people, he said that "the Europe of science and technology, the Europe of civilization and culture, must be at the same time a Europe open to transcendence and fraternity with other continents, and open to the living and true God, starting with the living and true man.

"This is what the Church wishes to contribute to Europe: to be watchful for God and for man based on the understanding of both which is offered to us in Jesus Christ."

Mass was the final event on the Pope's schedule before moving on to Barcelona by plane.

On Sunday, he will dedicate the Church of the Holy Family, or the "Sagrada Familia," also elevating it to a basilica.

The text of the Pope’s homily can be found here: http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/spain10/resource.php?res_id=1447

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