Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Rich countries must increase their aid to the development of the world’s nations in need, by upholding the right to education which is the real platform for progress among peoples; the Church knows this well from its lengthy experience at the forefront in this field. This was Benedict XVI’s appeal to the leaders of the worlds industrial powers gathered in Germany for the annual G8 summit which opened today. The Pope has asked those gathered in Heligendamm to “maintain their promises to substantially increase development aid in favour of the world’s needy nations, above all those in Africa”.
“Special attention – he continued – needs to be paid to the millennium goals: to access to basic education for all; the promise that by 2015 every boy and girl will be able to complete a primary school cycle. This is a fundamental factor in achieving all of the other millennium goals. It is a guarantee of the consolidation of the objectives to be reached; it is the starting point for autonomous and sustainable development”.Benedict XVI concluded by recalling that the Catholic Church “has always been at the forefront of education” along with “other Christian churches, religious groups and civil organisations”. It is a reality – he added – which in line with the principal of subsidiarity, the governments and international organisations is called to recognise, evaluate and support, also by means of adequate financial contributions”.
Before his appeal, delivered to the 30 thousand pilgrims and visitors taking part in the audience, Benedict XVI spoke of the unity of the Church founded on Peter, and of the “heart” as “the place where God speaks to man and man listens to God”.
The two themes were discussed by the Pope in light of his reflections on the figure of Saint Cyprianus, the next in Benedict XVI’s cycle of catechesis on the early fathers of the Church.
The Pope recalled that Cyprianus, the first African bishop to be martyred, was born in fourth century Carthage to rich pagan family. After a misspent youth he converted to Christianity at 35, an experience he described as: “A sovereign light spreading through my heart, a second birth”. As a bishop he faced the first two waves of persecution of Decimus and Valerian. After the particularly cruel oppression of Decimus, he strove to “bring about a return to discipline in the community”: many had renounced the faith or failed to maintain its precepts: “they were the ‘lapsed’, and fallen” who wanted to return to the community, divided by liberals and rigorists. Cyprianus foresaw the possibility of forgiveness after an exemplary penitence.
In his letters, the bishop from Carthage, “strongly affirms that the Church is one, founded on Peter. Those who abandon it elude themselves in the belief that they remain in the Church”. “There is no salvation outside the Church, those who do not have the Church as their mother, cannot have God as their Father”. “The unity which the Church finds in its foundation on Peter and the perfect realization it obtains in the Eucharist” are the inalienable characteristics of the Church.
A second point made by Benedict XVI dealt with Cyprianus teachings on prayer. The Pope revealed his “particular love of his book on the Our Father, which helped me to better understand it and thus better pray it”. “He teaches us – continued the Pope – how the Our Father is an outline for Christians on the correct way to pray”. The Pope underlined the fact that “the Our Father is written in the plural so that he who prayer it does so not only for himself. Our prayer is a public prayer, a communal prayer and when we pray it, we pray it for all Christians because all of us are one people”.
From Cyprianus we must learn the attitude that “when we pray we do so with calm, reserve and discipline”. “We must remember that we are before the gaze of God. We bring pleasure to God’s divine eyes, both by our body’s composure and the tone of our voice”, but recalling that “God listens not to the voice, but to the heart”, “prayer is fruit of the heart, not of the lips”. In conclusion Benedict XVI remarked that Cyprianus is at the very origins of “that fertile theological and spiritual tradition, which sees the heart as the place of prayer” and that “today we still need to make ours a heart receptive to the Bible and the father’s words”.
Before the beginning of the audience, while Benedict XVI was travelling the square in his open topped popemobile to greet the faithful, a woman climbed over the barriers in an attempt to near the Pope, but was stopped by security.