Pope: May wounded Lebanon reject violence, seek justice and reconciliation

At the end of the general audience, Benedict XVI talked about the murder of Pierre Gemayel and appealed to the international community to move to eliminate so many injustices in the Middle East.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The murder of the Christian minister, Pierre Gemayel in Beirut yesterday evening should prompt the Lebanese people to work together to build national unity. And countries with the welfare of the Middle East at heart should strive to eliminate injustice afflicting it. Benedict XVI talked about the latest murder in Lebanon at the end of the general audience, launching an appeal to the Lebanese people to refute violence, and to the international community to face the tragic situation in the Middle East.

The pope expressed "profound sorrow" for the "brutal murder" of Gemayel, which he "firmly condemned". He said: "I give assurance of my prayers and spiritual closeness to the family in mourning and the beloved Lebanese people." He continued: "Faced with the dark forces that are seeking to destroy the country, I invite all Lebanese not to allow hatred to triumph but to develop national unity, justice and reconciliation and to work together to build a future of peace together. I invite state leaders who have the interest of Lebanon at heart to contribute to a global, negotiated solution to heal the situations of injustice that have marked the region for many years."

In the catechesis for the general audience, Benedict XVI talked about the unity of the Church, "body" and "bride" of Christ, in the multiplicity of charisms that the Spirit calls forth, born of the union with its founder. The reality of the Church in Paul's thinking, "one of the most important themes of his thinking", was tackled by Benedict XVI during the general audience, attended by 20,000 people in spite of a day marked by heavy rainfall. St Peter's Square was packed with thousands of multi-coloured umbrellas. "Let us hope that the Lord is propitious and makes this rain stop," said the pope, whose words were followed shortly afterwards by a timid ray of sun. "I would like to thank the Lord for giving us a moment of light and a break from the rain," he added jokingly at the end of the audience.

Recalling the thinking of Paul, to who he today dedicated his reflection for the fourth time, the pope said: "His first contact with the person of Jesus came through the Christian community of Jerusalem" of which, for three times, the apostle says "I persecuted the Church of God". Even if in Paul's case, the meeting was not positive: "History shows that one reaches Jesus going through the Church."

For Paul, "adherence was propitiated by a direct intervention of Christ" who on his way to Damascus personified the Church by saying that He was being persecuted when the Church was persecuted. Thus it is understandable that the Church was always very present in the thinking and activities of Paul, who set up various churches in cities he evangelized. Some would cause him concern and displeasure, but he never ceased to love them.

Paul, continued Benedict XVI, "shows us his doctrine on the Church as such, as the definition of the Church as the body of Christ". The pope said we find the root of his "astounding definition" in the definition of the body of Christ and also in the Eucharist. "All of you are one in the body of Christ," wrote Paul. The pope said: "It is from here that the greatness and uniqueness of the Church comes, of all of us who form part of it, being parts, members of Christ."

Underlining the need for unity however does not mean "maintaining that Christian life should be made uniform and hammered out according to only one way of working," said Benedict XVI, adding that Paul himself had cited countless Charismatic manifestations of the Spirit. For the apostle, then, everything should "contribute to weaving the ecclesial fabric", both vertical, between Jesus and the faithful, and horizontal, between "all those who distinguish themselves in the world because they invoke the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." He added: "It is well understood how desirable it is that what St Paul hoped for will be realized."