06/22/2008, 00.00
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Pope calls for peace in “beloved and tormented” Lebanon

Benedict XVI mentions the Land of the Cedar Tree on the occasion of the beatification in Beirut of Yaaqub Ghazir Haddad. He expressed his closeness to the victims of the sea tragedy in the Philippines. Before the recitation of the Angelus he highlights how the Gospel teaches that those who “fear” God are not afraid because they are in the “arms” of the Father.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – In the address he made in today’s Angelus the Pope called for peace in “tormented” Lebanon and solidarity with the victims of a ship that capsized in the cyclone that hit the Philippines today. Before the Marian prayer was recited Benedict XVI quoting from today’s Gospel told the 20,000 present in St Peter’s Square that those who “fear” God do not have to fear because they know that they are “in the arms’ of the Father, and are not the victims of the “existential fear” that “sometime turns into anxiety” and “is born from a sense of emptiness linked to a certain culture permeated by widespread theoretical and practical nihilism.”

“In this Sunday’s Gospel,” said the Pope, “we find two invitations by Jesus. On the one hand, He says “do not be afraid of them (men)”; on the other he says to “be afraid” of God (cf Mt, 10:26-28). We are thus urged to reflect on the difference that exists between human fears and the fear of God. Fear is a natural element of life. In childhood we experience different types of fear that turn out to be imaginary and then disappear. Others emerge later on which are rooted in reality; these must be faced and overcome with human endeavour and trust in God. But then there is a deeper form of fear, an existential fear, that at times turns into anxiety. It is born of a sense of emptiness linked to a certain culture permeated by widespread theoretical and practical nihilism. Confronted by a wide and varied outline of human fears,” he added, “the Word of God is clear; those who ‘fear’ God “do not fear’.”

The fear of God, which the Scriptures define as ‘the principle of true wisdom,” coincides with faith in Him, with the sacred respect for His authority on life and the world. To be “without fear of God” is like putting oneself in his place, thinking one is master of good and evil, of life and death. Instead those who are afraid of God feel the security that a child feels in the arms of his mother (cf Psalm, 130:2). Those who are afraid of God can be tranquil even in middle of storms because God, as Jesus revealed, is a father full of mercy and goodness. Those who love him do not fear.”

The Pope had thoughts for Lebanon after the recitation of the Angelus, inspired by today’s beatification in Beirut of Yaaqub Ghazir Haddad, born Khalil, who belonged to the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and founder of the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of the Cross of Lebanon.

“In expressing my congratulation to his spiritual daughters,” he said, “I hope wholeheartedly that the intercession of the blessed Abuna Yaaqub, with that of Lebanese saints, may give this beloved and tormented country, which has suffered too much, a chance to finally move towards a stable peace.”

Benedict XVI then expressed his “spiritual closeness” to the victims of the capsized ferry in the Philippines and the population of the islands that were also affected by the cyclone. He offered a prayer “for the victims of this new tragedy of the sea, apparently involving many children.”

Finally the Pope invited those present to attend the ceremony next Saturday in which he will inaugurate in the Basilica of St Paul the Jubilee Year for the 2,000 years since the birth of the Apostle of the Peoples.

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