10/06/2008, 00.00
VATICAN

Pope: economic crisis demonstrates that only the word of God is solid

Opening the work of the synod, Benedict XVI takes his cue from the passage in the Gospel about the house built on sand and the house built on rock, to affirm that those who found their lives on success, career, and money are based upon "nothing." Evangelization, the role of the magisterium, and interreligious relations in the speech by Cardinal Ouellet.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Only those who build upon the word of God build "on rock," and those who set their foundations on things like success, career, and money are building "on sand," as shown by the news of the economic crisis of these days. With an unexpected reference to the economic situation, Benedict XVI today addressed the opening of the assembly of the synod of bishops at the Vatican, dedicated to the Word of God.

"The word of God," he said, "is the foundation of everything, it is true reality. And in order to be realists, we must count on this reality. We must change our ideas that the material, solid things, that which can be touched, is the more solid and more secure reality. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord speaks to us of two possibilities for building the house of one's life: on sand, or on rock. Those who build on the sand to build upon the visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money. Apparently, these are the true realities. But all of this will pass away one day. We see this today in the collapse of the major banks: this money is disappearing, it is nothing. And like all of these things, which seem to be the true reality on which to rely, our realities of a second order. Those who build their lives on these realities, on the material, on success, on all that which is visible, build on the sand. Only the word of God is the foundation of all reality, enduring like the sky, and even more than the sky, is reality. We must therefore change our concept of realism. The realist is the one who recognizes in the Word of God, in this apparently feeble reality, the foundation of everything. The realist is the one who builds his life on this foundation that remains forever."

Secularization, its consequences, and the reaction to these were at the center of the speech at the beginning of the synod delivered by the relator general, Canadian cardinal Marc Ouellet. He emphasizes the necessity of "proposing concrete solutions to span the abyss and remedy the ignorance of the Scriptures that compounds the current difficulties in evangelization." Faith and the missionary impulse, in fact, "are profoundly impacted by various sociocultural phenomenon like secularization, religious pluralism, globalization, and the explosion of the means of communication. To these are added the "internal difficulties" of the Church. Among these, he indicated those "concerning the transmission of the faith in the family, the lack of catechetical formation, the tensions between the ecclesial magisterium and theology in the universities, the crisis within exegesis and its connection with theology, and more in general a certain separation of scholars from the pastors and the ordinary people."

Among the difficulties, the cardinal also indicated the "dissatisfaction" with homilies, which sometimes end up pushing Catholics toward other religious groups. "Exegesis" and "new pedagogical or technological means" can be helpful, but what is mainly necessary is "helping the homilists to connect life and the word," and "the homily must attain spiritual profundity."

The relationship between the interpretation of the Bible and the bishops was also the subject of remarks by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith. "Only the living ecclesial tradition," he said, "permits sacred Scripture to be understood as the authentic word of God, which becomes a guide, norm, and rule of life for the Church and the spiritual growth of believers. This involves the rejection of any subjective or purely experiential interpretation, or the result of a unilateral analysis incapable of grasping in itself the overall meaning that over the course of the centuries has guided the tradition of the entire people of God." "In this context," he emphasized, "emerges the necessity and responsibility of the magisterium, called to become an authentic interpreter of the Word of God itself, in service of the entire Christian people and for the salvation of the whole world; and we bishops also understand how great are our responsibilities as legitimate successors of the apostles, and how much is expected from us by today's society, to which we must transmit the truth that we have, in turn, received."Thus," he concluded, "this task belongs to the bishops directly and personally."

Finally, Cardinal Oullet emphasized the importance of interreligious relations. In regard to the Jews, he affirmed that Catholics have been called upon "not only to repair the injustice committed toward the Jews, but also to renewed respect for the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament." The "respectful and constructive" dialogue that has been opened with Judaism can serve to "deepen, on both sides, the interpretation of sacred Scripture."

As for the Muslims, "in the face of secularization and liberalism, they are allies in the defense of human life and in the affirmation of the social importance of religion. Dialogue with them is more important than ever under the present circumstances, in order to promote together social justice, moral values, peace and freedom for all men."

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