Life without God saps hope to face difficulties: Pope

12 Mar 2009

By The Record

Eradicating God and his moral guidance from their lives has not brought people greater happiness and freedom, Pope Benedict XVI said.


By Carol Glatz


Eradicating God and his moral guidance from their lives has not brought people greater happiness and freedom, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Rather it has deprived people of the strength and hope needed to overcome pressing difficulties, he said to Rome’s city officials.
A moral code is incomplete “if it does not hinge upon the inspiration of and submission to God, who is the source and judge of all good,” he said.
The Pope’s remarks came during a visit on March 9 to Rome’s City Hall where he addressed a special session of the city council.
In his address to the city’s leaders, Pope Benedict deplored a recent spate of violence in the city, saying it revealed a deeper social ill that exists within society.
While he did not mention specific events, public attention recently has focused on a number of rapes, including the rape of a 14-year-old girl.
These dreadful acts of violence are a sign “of a true spiritual poverty that afflicts the heart of modern man,” the Pope said.
“The elimination of God and his law, as a condition for the realisation of human happiness, has not reached its goal at all,” he said.
“Rather, it has deprived people of the spiritual grounding and hope that are needed to face everyday difficulties and challenges,” the Pope said.
The Pope said the city could count on the cooperation and help of the Church and the city’s faithful in promoting the necessary “perennial values.”
Seated in front of a towering sculpture of Julius Caesar that stood beneath a portrait of Mary, the Pope said, “In this postmodern age, Rome must reclaim its deep soul and its civil and Christian roots if it wants to promote a new humanism” that recognises humanity’s transcendent and spiritual dimension.
“Christianity is the bearer of a shining message about the truth of humankind” and the Church recognises its responsibility in bringing that message to society and modern culture, he said.
The Pope told the city council that as the bishop of Rome he was concerned about the effects the current economic crisis would have on unemployment, homelessness and financial insecurity for families.
However, he said he was optimistic these difficulties could be overcome. He emphasised that the values of solidarity and generosity were firmly rooted in the heart of the Roman people and that these gifts “could be supported by the light of the Gospel.”
Pope Benedict also spoke to the city’s residents from the City Hall balcony overlooking a 16th-century square designed by Michelangelo.
After living in Rome for so many years, he said he feels like a fellow Roman.
“But more than Roman, I feel like your bishop,” he said to great applause.
With the great social and economic challenges the city is facing, the Pope underlined how much it needed men and women of Christ.
Because “when a person encounters Christ, he does not become self-centered, but opens up to the needs of others” and puts the well-being of other people before his own, he said.
The Pope then visited the nearby monastery of the Oblates of St Francesca Romana. The Pope’s visit coincided with the feast day of its 15th-century founder,
St Frances of Rome.
The Pope told the nuns how important it was in the middle of a city to have church communities dedicated to contemplation, prayer and social works.
He said they act as a sort of “spiritual lung” so that a busy metropolis does not run out of “spiritual breath” and always has a point of reference in God.
Just one day after International Women’s Day, the Pope told the religious that Rome needs women and their gifts of generous and discreet service.
“Women who know how to obey priests, but also support them and stimulate them with their suggestions, are mature in their dialogue with Christ, and have hands-on experience in charity, caring for the sick, the marginalised and youths in difficulty” are greatly needed, he said.