Amid the wonders of creation, deep wounds affect man, Pope says

Sydney, Australia, Jul 17, 2008 / 11:51 am (CNA) .- In his welcoming address to the young pilgrims at World Youth Day, the Holy Father spoke of the majesty of creation: the sparkle and vastness of the oceans, the beauty of the sunset before reinforcing that while nature is “truly wonderous,” man is the “apex of God’s creation.”

After greeting those present, the Pontiff recalled the evangelization of the Apostles and those who had brought the Gospels to Australia to inspire new generations.  The Holy Father then said that now it is his turn to announce the Gospel, “Today, it is my turn. For some of us, it might seem like we have come to the end of the world! For people of your age, however, any flight is an exciting prospect. But for me, this one was somewhat daunting!”

After describing the aerial views from the plane as “truly wondrous,” Benedict commented how “the sparkle of the Mediterranean, the grandeur of the north African desert, the lushness of Asia’s forestation, the vastness of the Pacific Ocean, the horizon upon which the sun rose and set, and the majestic splendor of Australia’s natural beauty which I have been able to enjoy these last couple of days; these all evoke a profound sense of awe.”

Humanity is the apex of Creation

“And there is more – something hardly perceivable from the sky – men and women, made in nothing less than God’s own image and likeness.  At the heart of the marvel of creation are you and I, the human family ‘crowned with glory and honor.’ How astounding!”

However, when pondering creation, the Pope noted that we discover “scars which mark the surface of our earth: erosion, deforestation, the squandering of the world’s mineral and ocean resources in order to fuel an insatiable consumption.”

Faced with this reality, the Holy Father recalled that in man “the apex of God’s creation,” is also impacted. With numerous advances in medicine, technology, and the arts, “the quality and enjoyment of people’s lives in many ways are steadily rising.”

In addition, Benedict XVI stressed that “All of us, young and old, have those moments when the innate goodness of the human person - perhaps glimpsed in the gesture of a little child or an adult’s readiness to forgive - fills us with profound joy and gratitude.”

Scars on the social environment

Yet, we are not always filled with that joy, the Pope explained. When we consider “why,” we discover that it is not only the natural environment that has imperfections, “but also the social environment – the habitat we fashion for ourselves – has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss.”

“And so we discover that not only the natural but also the social environment – the habitat we fashion for ourselves – has its scars; wounds indicating that something is amiss. Here too, in our personal lives and in our communities, we can encounter a hostility, something dangerous; a poison which threatens to corrode what is good, reshape who we are, and distort the purpose for which we have been created.”

“Examples abound, as you yourselves know. Among the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment. I ask myself, could anyone standing face to face with people who actually do suffer violence and sexual exploitation ‘explain’ that these tragedies, portrayed in virtual form, are considered merely ‘entertainment’?”

The Holy Father concluded his talk stressing the point that “God’s creation is one and it is good.  The concerns for non-violence, sustainable development, justice and peace, and care for our environment are of vital importance for humanity. They cannot, however, be understood apart from a profound reflection upon the innate dignity of every human life from conception to natural death: a dignity conferred by God himself and thus inviolable.”

The world today “has grown weary of greed, exploitation and division, of the tedium of false idols and piecemeal responses, and the pain of false promises. Our hearts and minds are yearning for a vision of life where love endures, where gifts are shared, where unity is built, where freedom finds meaning in truth, and where identity is found in respectful communion.”

It is through the Holy Spirit that this vision can be achieved, explained the Pontiff.  “This is the hope held out by the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It is to bear witness to this reality that you were created anew at Baptism and strengthened through the gifts of the Spirit at Confirmation. Let this be the message that you bring from Sydney to the world!”