11/11/2009, 00.00
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Pope: a political solution and respect for human rights in Sri Lanka

Appeal of Benedict XVI at the end of the general audience, during which he reaffirmed the fundamental role of Christianity in the birth of "European identity" and asked that all those who cherish authentic humanism and the future of Europe to rediscover, appreciate and protect its great spiritual heritage.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) - Respect for human rights, a just political solution to the problems that still exist and international support. This was Benedict XVI’s request for Sri Lanka, six months, as he himself pointed out, from the end of the conflict, while "we note with satisfaction the efforts of those authorities who are facilitating the return home of displaced persons". The Pope's appeal came at the end of the general audience, during which he spoke of the Cluniac order to the nine thousand people present in the Paul VI, once again strongly emphasising the role of Christianity in the formation of European identity in particular for its affirmation of "respect of the human person" and the "precious gift of peace."  

"It's been about six months - is the appeal of the Pope – since the end of the conflict that has bloodied Sri Lanka. We note with satisfaction the efforts of those authorities which, in recent weeks, have been facilitating the safe return of displaced persons from war. I strongly encourage an acceleration of that commitment and I urge all citizens to strive for a quick peace with full respect for human rights, and for a just political solution to the challenges still facing the country. I hope, finally, that the international community will act to support the humanitarian and economic needs of Sri Lanka, and I raise my prayer to the Holy Virgin of Madhu, to continue to watch over that beloved Land".

Earlier, in his address to those present, the Pope spoke of "a monastic movement of great importance in the Middle Ages", the order of Cluny "which at the beginning of the twelfth century came to include almost 1,200 monasteries” and which was born in 910, thanks to a donation from William the Pious. "Western monasticism was greatly degraded since the days of St. Benedict, due to unstable political and social conditions caused by invasions and devastation”. There was widespread poverty and dependence of the abbeys on local lords.     

Monastic revival began in Cluny. "The Benedictine rule was restored, with some adaptations and above all the central role of the liturgy in the Christian life with great care to chants, psalms, liturgy of the hours, the celebration of Holy Mass, enriching the worship of God with displays of art and music and introducing new festivals in early November as a celebration for the dead" and a great devotion to Mary, all as" participation in the liturgy of heaven. They felt responsible to intercede  on behalf of the living and the dead at the altar of God".  Precisely for this purpose William the Pious had wanted the birth of the abbey of Cluny, as indicated in the Act of donation.

To "custody an atmosphere of prayer, the rule of Cluny emphasized the practice of silence to which monks willingly subjected themselves, convinced of the importance of an intimate and constant meditation”.    The famed sanctity of the abbey soon spread and many monastic communities decided to follow their customs. Popes and kings promoted their creation and "in doing so they began outlining a Europe of the spirit in France, Italy, Germany Hungary" which "helped shape the Christian identity of the continent”.  


"The success was due primarily to an elevated spirituality, but also to other factors".  The monasteries were recognized as exempt from the jurisdiction of bishops local authorities and directly under the jurisdiction of the Roman pontiff. Thanks to the protection and encouragement born of this bond with the See of Peter they were able to spread rapidly. The abbots were elected without any interference from civil authorities, unlike in other institutions". “Truly worthy people” succeeded to the leadership of the movement "like the saints Oddone, Odilon, Majolus, Hugh, ensuring stability to the reform undertaken”.

  Thanks to Cluny, there was "not only the purification and the revival of monastic life, but also of the universal Church". With the desire for evangelical perfection it was possible to combat the "two serious evils of the age, simony, or the purchase of ecclesiastical benefits, and the immorality of the secular clergy". Cluniac monks who became bishops and popes were protagonists of the renewal and the fruits were not lacking, such as a new found appreciation for celibacy and transparency in government offices. In an era when only the ecclesiastical institutions provided for the needy, charitable actions were promoted.

They were also responsible for the establishment of the "Truce of God and God's peace. In a time of violence and spirit of revenge long periods of non-belligerency were assured during holidays and with the peace requests were made for the respect of innocent civilians and holy places". Thus "two key elements for the construction of society” became increasingly clear: “the value of the human person and the primary good of peace." "A thousand years ago, while the formation of European identity was underway, the reform of Cluny gave an important and valuable contribution:  it recalled the primacy of the goods of the Spirit, it  kept alive attention to the primacy of God, it encouraged institutions to promote human values, it educated people to a spirit of peace" . Moreover, the monks of Cluny possessed extensive properties that they diligently put to good use contributing to the development of the economy. "There were also schools for children and libraries”.  

"In this way the Cluniac experience has brought its unique contribution, it  recalled the goods of the spirit, the primacy of God, through its institutions it  worked for the promotion of human values and education to a spirit of peace."  

"Let us pray - concluded the pope - for all those who cherish authentic humanism and the future of Europe that they may know, rediscover, appreciate and protect the great spiritual heritage of the religious of this century".

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