Francis expresses concern and pain for "the sharpening of tensions". Concluding catechesis on Baptism, affirms that children have the "right of children" to receive a Christian education which "tends to gradually lead them to know God's plan in Christ: thus they can personally ratify the faith in which they have been baptized.” Greetings to Muslims ahead of Ramadan.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Pope is "very concerned" about the violence in the Holy Land and the Middle East, expressing "great sorrow" for the victims and asking for a renewed commitment to dialogue.
The latest appeal for peace by Francis who, at the end of today's general audience, said he was " I am very concerned about the escalation of tensions in the Holy Land and in the Middle East, and for the spiral of violence that increasingly moves away from the path of peace, dialogue and negotiations. I express - he added - my great sorrow for the dead and the wounded and I am close with prayer and affection to all those who suffer. I repeat that it is never the use of violence that leads to peace. War begets war, violence begets violence. I invite all the parties involved and the international community to renew their commitment so that dialogue, justice and peace prevail ".
Suggestive of the need for the "cessation of conflicts" was the presence at the general audience of a group of former WWII combatants who arrived for the celebrations of the anniversary of the battle of Monte Cassino. "It is very sad - he said, in unscripted remarks – to remember the wars: last century two big ones. We never learn ". "The tragedy of war which you experienced - he added - the strength of spirit, fidelity to ideals and the witness of life become an appeal for the cessation of conflicts in progress in the world and for the search for ways of peace".
Finally, Francis also referred to peace in a "cordial greeting" addressed to Muslims "for the month of Ramadan, which will begin tomorrow. May this privileged time of prayer and fasting help to walk in the way of God which is the path of peace ".
Previously, in the speech addressed to the 25 thousand people present in St. Peter's Square, the Pope concluded the catechesis dedicated to baptism, affirming "children's right" to receive a Christian education that "tends to guide them gradually to know the design of God in Christ: thus they can personally ratify the faith in which they were baptized ".
"The spiritual effects" of Baptism, he said, "invisible to the eyes but operative in the heart of those who have become new creatures, are explicit in the delivery of the white garment and the lighted candle. These are visible signs that manifest the dignity of the baptized and their Christian vocation, as stated by St. Paul: "How many you have been baptized in Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal 3:27, cf. Rom 13: 14). After regeneration in water, able to recreate man according to God in true holiness (cf. Eph 4:24), it seemed natural, from the first centuries, to vest the newly baptized with a new, candid garment, like the splendor of life achieved in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. The white garment, while symbolically expressing what happened in the sacrament, announces the condition of the transfigured in divine glory. The mandate to wear this garment "without stain for eternal life" (Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 72) traces the path that leads from the baptismal font to the Jerusalem of Heaven. In fact, the Book of the Apocalypse writes that "the victor will be clothed in white robes" (Ap 3,5) ".
"What does it mean to put on Christ, St. Paul reminds us by explaining the virtues that the baptized must cultivate: "Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do"(Col 3: 12-14). The ritual delivery of the flame drawn from the Paschal candle also recalls the effect of Baptism: "Receive the light of Christ". These words remind us that we are not the light but Jesus Christ (Jn 1: 9, 12, 46), who, having risen from the dead, has conquered the darkness of evil. We are called to receive its splendor! As the flame of the paschal candle gives light to individual candles, so the love of the Risen Lord inflames the hearts of the baptized, filling them with light and heat. Since ancient times the sacrament of Baptism is also called 'illumination' and the neophytes are called 'illuminated', according to the very word of Jesus: "I am the light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life "(Jn 8:12). This is indeed the Christian vocation: "to always walk as children of light, persevering in faith" (cf. Rite of the Christian initiation of adults, No. 226, Jn 12: 36). When it comes to children, it is the task of parents, together with godparents and godmothers, to take care to nourish the flame of baptismal grace in their children, helping them to persevere in faith (cf. Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 73). "Christian education is a children's right; it tends to gradually guide them to know God's plan in Christ: thus they can personally ratify the faith in which they were baptized "(ibid., Introduction, 3)".
"The celebration of Baptism ends with the prayer of the Our Father, proper to the community of the children of God. In fact, the children reborn in baptism will receive the fullness of the gift of the Spirit in Confirmation and participate in the Eucharist, learning what it means to turn to God calling him 'Father' in the Holy Church ".