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    » 02/14/2013, 00.00

    VATICAN

    Benedict XVI’s decision for the Church's mission and the truth of the world

    Bernardo Cervellera

    In his freely "renouncing" his title, the pope is carrying out a bold gesture of missionary passion for Proclamation. His decision to retire in seclusion and contemplation shows the real root of the effectiveness of every Christian action. Most media have failed to grasp this divine-human dimension of his actions and are belittling the breath of his witness with political platitudes or gossip of secret plots. Yet there is huge interest in him, a sign of a secret hope.

    Rome (AsiaNews) - Four days after the announcement that shocked the Church and the world, the interest of Christians and the international media in the resignation of Benedict XVI is showing no sign of subsiding, although with vastly different results.

    Among the faithful, bishops and laity, it is increasingly clear that the pope's decision to step down from the Petrine ministry to Christ and the Church is an act of love for both. It is not dictated by a desire to "abdicate", to "final have time for his own interests", but his passion for mission and that the Church have renewed stimulus and strength. His recognition of failing strength of his body, as he nears almost eighty-six years of age, is not simply a question of having "reached the age limit." As he said, his decision was driven by the need to "preach the Gospel" "in today's world, subject to rapid change and agitated by issues of great importance for the life of faith." His decision to resign is thus motivated by an acute a missionary zeal for the Church, that it may find new ways, new faces and new energy to devote to the work that absorbed him throughout his life: bringing Christ close to man and above all to people man who do not know him or who even despise him.

    Theologians explain that Christ "renounced" his divine title to become man, to die on the Cross (Philippians 2: 6-11), the missionaries, especially those who are in distant countries, "renounce" their culture to penetrate into the fibers of other cultures and get close to other peoples. Benedict XVI on the back of his momentum for the proclamation of faith in today's world has "renounced" the title of pope.

    In laying bare his offer to Christ and the Church he will continue to work for mission, but in a very special way, which is that of contemplation. In the announcement of his decision to the Cardinals, he said: "I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering." The suffering of his weakened body and cloistered prayer he is about to enter, will be as effective for the Church as his word, his travels, his publications, his active witness.

    In taking this step, he has become a master for all Christians, priests, bishops, cardinals, who consider their active role in certain tasks, duties and organizations "essential". With his choice of life Pope Benedict XVI is telling us that effectiveness of our existence lies our placing ourseleves completely in Christ's hands, the true guarantee of all fruitfulness. He himself, in many homilies and speeches reminded us of the fruitfulness of Little flower Teresa, the cloistered Carmelite who became the patron saint of missions: a contemplative, a model of the sharpest and most universal of Christian activities.

    With his choice taken "before God" Benedict XVI has become an even greater "pontifex", or bridge between God and man. In this final step, so extreme and so very courageous, we are convinced even further that Christ is present in the life of man, capable of transforming the weakness of old age - both eschewed and hidden in our time - into a sacrament of love for God, for each other and the world.

    Perhaps it is the fact that his choice is in its very essence so close to God that has rendered so many media outlets coverage of the news so shallow and dull by contrast.  Without a sensitivity to this vertical dimension, which is human and divine, the Pope's decision is just another chapter in the life of a man who is retiring, the result of exhaustion from battles between warring factions within the Church, the shrewd and crafty move to "condition" elections in the Church and in the world. This world seems incapable of understanding that this decision is for a greater love ("Simon, do you love me more than these?" - John. 21, 15) and therefore the mass media has no option but to drag it down to its own level, to a pragmatism of mean interests, to a politicking that fills us with satisfaction and despair. The media's haste to find a sub-plot, reveal hidden secrets, point to "obvious" failures is a desperate attempt to dismiss, trivialize, delete the Christ that the Pope's gesture has once again rendered loving and close at hand.

    But perhaps in this iconoclastic attempt to drown the beauty of his testimony in the usual mud, there is also a secret hope: that in the midst of this materialism, relativism and ideological presumption that there has shrivelled our souls, the truth can exist: "And everything conspires to silencing of us, like the silence of / shame, perhaps, like the silence of an unspeakable hope. "

    (R.M. Rilke, Duino Elegies, II).

    Moreover, even the pope, who is mocked and mourned for his failures, is similar, very similar to Jesus Christ, who defeated the hatred of the world as he was nailed to the cross.

     

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    See also

    15/10/2009 ASIA
    Mission, the light of Christ to bring hope to the world
    The search for God and the Christian faith witness a rebirth in countries of atheism. The announcement to non-Christians is a force for progress and support for justice and peace. Even persecution and martyrdom do not stop evangelisation. A commentary on the Pope's Message for World Mission Day.

    14/03/2013 VATICAN
    Pope Francis: God scores a goal
    His election, after a few votes, shows unity among the cardinals. He is a pope who rejected Marxist liberation theology, but who lives like the poor and with the poor. He will be a reformer of the Curia starting from the mission of the Church, which is the message of Christ who is close to all men in everyday life. The dialogue with other Christian denominations and religions to meet the challenge of relativism and materialism, which gives rise to abortion, euthanasia, gender ideology, pollution, wild finance and dictatorships.

    01/05/2011 VATICAN
    Blessed John Paul II and our mission
    Some "enlightened" Catholics criticise the "hurry" for his beatification. But the personality of John Paul II testified that faith is not about rules, abstract dogmas or sociological moralisms, but a relationship with Jesus Christ that changes lives. His consecration to Mary without sentimentality; contemplation and missionary zeal to bring Christ to the world, surpassing clerical closure and materialistic suffocation, these are the pillars of his message. He was the pope who launched the mission in Asia for the Third Millennium. AsiaNews is indebted to the vision of this great pope and blessed.

    10/01/2011 VATICAN
    Freedom of religion: the Pope’s campaign for world peace
    Benedict XVI offers step by step instructions in how to put religious freedom into practice in the East and West. Specific requests to the governments of the Middle East, China, Europe and Latin America. No society should deprive itself of the contribution of religious people and communities. The example of Mother Teresa.

    02/09/2010 ASIA - VATICAN
    Lay Catholics in Asia: a "sleeping giant" that is waking up
    Investing in church structures must not stifle the testimony in work, family, politics. The specific mission of the laity is to be in contact with the world and with non-Christians. The teaching of Ratzinger. The testimony of Mgr. Dao and Jess Estanislao, a former member of the Philippine government.



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