Vatican City (AsiaNews) - "A symbol of all those who still today suffer unjustly for ideological, political, or religious reasons", Boethius - a fifth-century Father of the Church of whom the pope spoke at today's general audience - teaches us not to follow "apparent friendships, but real ones, which like true goods do not vanish, and the true good is God". He invited his listeners "not to fall into fatalism, which offers no hope. It is not fate that rules, but rather providence, and providence has a face, one can speak with providence". "It is a dialogue with him who saves".
To the approximately 9,000 people present at the general audience, who because of their numbers were again divided between Saint Peter's basilica and the Paul VI hall, Benedict XVI, continuing his illustration of the Fathers of the Church, today spoke of Boethius and Cassiodorus, who in the early Middle Ages promoted "a time of encounter among cultures, like the time that we are living in today and that continued until the end of the Roman Empire".
Benedict XVI addressed the encounter among the different cultures and the formation of the young generations - themes that are particularly dear to him - in the light of the human experience of the two "Fathers" proposed for the attention of those present, and again when he greeted those present in the basilica, especially the students. In an age marked by the encounter among cultures and by constant transformation, schools, he said, "are facing significant challenges", and for this reason "they cannot be merely the place of theoretical learning, but they are called upon to offer their students the opportunity to deepen their understanding of valid cultural, social, ethical, and religious messages. Those who teach", he continued, "cannot help but take note of the moral dimension of all human knowledge, because man knows in order to act, and action is the result of his knowledge".
The encounter among cultures also characterised the life of Boethius, a Roman senator who was convinced that it was possible to combine the values of Roman civilisation with those of the Ostrogoth people present in Italy at the time. Highly respected by King Theodoric, who later had him imprisoned and killed, Boethius "speaks to contemporary man, and especially to those who suffer the same fate, on account of injustice". He teaches that a person "who for any reason is put in prison glimpses how burdensome the human condition is, especially when, like Boethius, he is subjected to torture. Tortured to death without any other reason but his political, social, and religious convictions".
As for Cassiodorus, a scholar from Calabria who was a contemporary of Boethius, he was also a proponent of a dialogue of "confluence" between Roman culture and that of the new peoples that had migrated to Italy. "We also", the Pope commented, "live in a time of encounter among cultures", and there is "the danger of violence that destroys cultures". For this reason, there must be "the effort required to transmit essential values to the new generations, on the path of reconciliation and peace that we find only in God".
An unusual greeting in Latin addressed by the pope to a group of Swedish students concluded the encounter.