At the end of the general audience, Pope Francis launched an appeal for peace on the Korean peninsula, assuring his prayer for the Summit. Catechesis on baptism focused on "the strength to overcome evil". The value of the anointing with the oil of the catechumens, similar to the oil used by the ancient wrestlers. "It is difficult to fight against evil, to escape from its deceptions, to regain strength after a tiring struggle, but we must know that all of Christian life is a fight. But we must also know that we are not alone ".
Vatican City (AsiaNews) - The Holy See supports and accompanies every peace initiative for the Korean peninsula and in particular the inter-Korean Summit, set for April 27, which will see the meeting between the two presidents of the South and the North , Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un. This is what Pope Francis said at the end of the general audience held today in Saint Peter's Square.
An appeal by the pontiff was expected and hoped for by the Church of Korea. Speaking in front of over 30 thousand faithful, the pontiff said: "Next Friday, 27 April, an Inter-Korean Summit will be held in Panmunjeom, which will be attended by the leaders of the two Koreas, Mr. Moon Jae-in and Mr. Kim Jong -un. This meeting will be a favorable opportunity to start a transparent dialogue and a concrete path of reconciliation and newfound fraternity, in order to guarantee peace in the Korean Peninsula and in the whole world. To the Korean people, who ardently desire peace, I assure my personal prayer and the closeness of the whole Church. The Holy See accompanies, supports and encourages all useful and sincere initiatives to build a better future, in the name of encounter and friendship among peoples. I ask those who have direct political responsibilities to have the courage of hope by becoming "artisans" of peace, while I exhort them to continue with confidence the path undertaken for the good of all ".
Previously the Pope had focused his audience on the subject of baptism and in particular on "the strength to overcome evil".
Above all, the pontiff described the path that the catechumens walk to receive baptism, a "sacrament of faith": "Educated by listening to Jesus, by his teaching and his works, the catechumens relive the experience of the water-thirsty Samaritan woman, of the blind man born who opens his eyes to the light, of Lazarus coming out of the sepulchre. The Gospel carries within itself the strength to transform those who welcome it with faith, tearing them from the dominion of evil so that they learn to serve the Lord with joy and newness of life ".
"One never goes alone to the baptismal font, but is accompanied by the prayer of the whole Church, as the litanies of the saints who precede the prayer of exorcism and pre-baptismal anointing with the oil of the catechumens recall. They are gestures that, since ancient times, assure those who are preparing to be reborn as children of God that the Church's prayer assists them in the fight against evil, accompanies them on the path of good, helps them to escape the power of sin to pass into kingdom of divine grace. For this reason, the path of adult catechumens is marked by repeated exorcisms pronounced by the priest (cf. CCC, 1237), that is, by prayers that call for liberation from everything that separates them from Christ and prevents intimate union with Him. Also for children God is asked to free them from original sin and consecrate them as the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit (see Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 56). As the Gospels testify, Jesus himself fought and cast out demons to manifest the coming of the kingdom of God (cf. Mt 12,28): his victory over the power of evil leaves free space to the lordship of God that gladdens hearts and reconciles with the life".
"Baptism is not a magic formula, but a gift of the Holy Spirit that enables those who receive it" to fight against the spirit of evil ", believing that" God has sent his Son into the world to destroy the power of Satan and bring 'man from darkness into his kingdom of infinite light' (see Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 56). We know from experience that Christian life is always subject to the temptation to separate itself from God, from His will, from communion with Him, to fall back into the bonds of worldly seductions ".
Pope Francis explained that in the rite of baptism there is the anointing on the chest with the oil of the catechumens: "Because of oil's property to penetrate the bodily tissues bringing benefit, the ancient wrestlers used to sprinkle themselves with oil to tone the muscles and to escape their opponent's grip more easily. In light of this symbolism, Christians of the first centuries adopted the use of anointing the body of candidates for baptism with oil blessed by the bishop, in order to signify, through this "sign of salvation", that the power of Christ Savior strengthens us to fight against evil and overcome it (see Rite of the Baptism of Children, No. 105) ".
"It is tiring - he concluded - to fight against evil, to escape his deceptions, to regain strength after a tiring struggle, but we must know that all of Christian life is a battle. But we must also know that we are not alone, that the Mother Church prays so that her children, regenerated in Baptism, do not succumb to the snares of the evil one but defeat them through the power of the Passover of Christ. Strengthened by the Risen Lord, who has defeated the prince of this world (cf. Jn 12: 31), we too can repeat with the faith of St. Paul: "I can do all things in Him who strengthens me" (Phil 4:13) " .