Pope Benedict discusses importance of witness to the faith


College students from around Rome gathered to hear Pope Benedict speak about St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans on Thursday afternoon. During the address, the Pontiff emphasized the need for Christians to give credible witness to their faith with their lives.

Every year the vicar of Rome holds a Mass for university students in Rome as they prepare for Christmas. This year, Cardinal Agostino Vallini celebrated Mass in the Vatican basilica for the academics in training.

After Mass was finished, Pope Benedict addressed the students on the teaching of St. Paul focusing on his Letter to the Romans.

Pointing out that the Church is celebrating the Pauline Year, the Holy Father said that "the two thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle to the Gentiles is helping the entire Church to rediscover its proper and fundamental missionary vocation and, at the same time, to make full use of the inexhaustible theological and spiritual treasure of the Pauline letters."

"I am convinced that for you, from a personal as well as the communal and apostolic point of view of the university, studying the person and message of St. Paul is a very enriching opportunity. This is why I will soon be presenting his Letter to the Romans to you," the Pope explained.

The Letter to the Romans, the Holy Father said, "is without a doubt one of the most important cultural texts of all time. It is and continues to be principally a living message for the living Church."

Given that the letter contains Paul’s teaching on the relationship between faith and works, the Pope told the students that he hopes the letter will "be substantial nourishment for your faith, leading you to believe more and better and also to reflect upon yourselves so that you might come to a 'mature' faith and, at the same time live this faith, putting it into practice according to the truth of Christ's commandment."

"Only in this way can the faith that one professes become 'credible' for others as well, who are conquered by the eloquent testimony of our deeds," Pope Benedict said.

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