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    » 09/17/2008, 00.00

    VATICAN

    True separation of church and state cannot leave out the spiritual dimension, says Pope



    In “Render unto Caesar . . .” lies the true foundation of freedom and autonomy for earthly matters,” said Benedict XVI as he talked in today’s general audience about the key moments of his recent trip to France. The foundation of every true culture lies in the search for God. In Lourdes there is “a privileged space for encountering God’s love.”

    Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The true separation of church and state “does not mean leaving out the spiritual dimension, but acknowledges that the latter is a guarantee of freedom and autonomy for earthly matters.” Before a gathering of 8,000 people in the Vatican’s audience hall Benedict XVI spoke positively again about the principle of the separation of church and state of which France is the standard bearer, talking to his audience about the key moments of his visit to Paris and Lourdes which ended last Monday.

    The Pope paid tribute to the “beloved nation” whose cultural development was closely related to the “Church’s fundamental civilising role as early as in the 2nd century.” And “it is interesting that in such a context the need for a healthy distinction between the political and religious spheres developed,” he said.

    “A true separation between church and state does not leave out the spiritual dimension,” he explained, “but acknowledges that the latter is, in a radical way, a guarantee of our freedom and autonomy in earthly matters” since Jesus said that one ought to “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s . . . .” Indeed “if Roman coins bore Caesar in effigy and must be returned to him, the Creator’s fingerprint, that of the one and only lord of life, is in man’s heart.”

    From this perspective the Pope looked at the reflections he developed after meeting cultural leaders in Paris.

    “I began my address with Monasticism whose goal was the search for God” and the “highroad’ he noted. “The search for God led the monks to a culture of the word that sought God following his word.”

    “There was a need to get inside the secrets of language” and thus “in searching the God of Revelation secular sciences became important” as did music and architecture. A culture that shaped our own emerged. “Seeking God is the foundation for every true culture.”

    The Pope later discussed other moments of his stay in the French capital, including the visit to the Institut de France, an institution comprised of five academies, during which “as a member of one those academies I met my colleagues.” As a cardinal he was a member of the Académie des sciences morales et politiques.

    During his time in Lourdes, which he visited on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the apparitions, Benedict XVI said that he went along the “path of the Jubilee which follows the life of St Bernadette.”

    On the evening of his arrival the Holy Father “took part in the traditional Aux Flambeaux procession, a marvellous expression of [one’s] faith in God and devotion to his and our mother.”

    “In a happy coincidence, the Sunday liturgy referred to the Exaltation of the Cross, a sign of hope par excellence, the maximum witness of love,” he said. “In Lourdes pilgrims learn to view life’s crosses in light of Christ’s cross.”

    The Pontiff said that during the first apparition, Mary first’s gesture “was the sign of the cross, in silence.” This way “Our lady gave us the first sign of initiation into our faith,” so much so that “in that sign there is the whole message. God loved so much that he was willing to give his life for us.” Such a “mystery of death and glory” shows how “there is no gift of life without pain.”

    On Monday during the Mass celebrated in the basilica’s esplanade during which he anointed the sick the Pope said that he “meditated on Mary’s tears under the cross and her smile on Easter Day.”

    Towards the end Benedict XVI invited the audience to give thanks to the Lord, especially “because in meeting St Bernadette, Mary opened a privileged space for the world to encounter the Lord’s healing love.”

    He concluded saying that “everyone is a pilgrim who needs a mother to guide us” for “her smile is an invitation to us to go forward because God is good; God is love.”

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    See also

    02/01/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: We are the shepherd’s contemporaries, before the Mother of God and the Infant Child
    In his first General Audience of 2008, Benedict XVI explains devotion to Mary, Mother of God and with an ecumenical slant opens to Protestants and Orthodox. Greetings for 2008 “under the sign of the Blessed Virgin”.

    11/09/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: visit to France marked by themes of Mary, challenges of secularization
    Benedict XVI leaves tomorrow on his tenth international voyage. The central reason is the conclusion of celebrations for the 150th anniversary of the apparitions in Lourdes. But there is also great anticipation over the address that he will give tomorrow evening, in Paris, to the intellectual world.

    15/09/2008 VATICAN
    “Mary’s smile” offer sufferers reasons for hope, says Pope
    Benedict XVI ends his visit to France by celebrating Mass for the sick in Lourdes. Suffering can upset life’s equilibrium, bearing it is very difficult and can lead to the loss of the sense of life, but grace comes as support. From Mary also comes the certainty that Jesus is close those who suffer and “accept without fear or bitterness to leave this world at the hour chosen by God.

    20/02/2008 VATICAN
    Pope: Saint Augustine also teaches what true secularism is
    Benedict XVI continues his reflections for the general audience on the bishop of Hippo, an author who is also fundamental for the formation of all Western culture. The dialogue with God in the Confessions and "the relationship between the political sphere and the sphere of the faith and of the Church" in "De Civitate Dei".

    14/03/2012 VATICAN
    Pope: Mary teaches us to turn to God not just when we need help
    Benedict XVI begins a new series of reflections at today’s General Audience, devoted to prayer in the Acts of the Apostles and St. Paul. In expectation of Pentecost when the Church was born, Mary and the Apostles. "If there is no Church without Pentecost, there is no Pentecost without even the Mother of Jesus."



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