Reflects on Synod, and a Foe of Nazism

«Faith Cannot Be Reduced to a Private Sentiment»

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2005 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today, from the window of his study, when reciting the midday Angelus prayer.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning the beatification took place in St. Peter’s Basilica of Clemens August von Galen, bishop of Muenster, intrepid cardinal opponent of the Nazi regime. Ordained a priest in 1904, for a long time he carried out his ministry in a Berlin parish and, in 1933, became the bishop of Muenster. In the name of God, he denounced the neo-pagan ideology of nationalism, defending the freedom of the Church and of human rights, gravely violated, protecting the Jews and the weakest people, which the regime considered as debris that had to be eliminated.

Well-known are the three famous sermons that intrepid pastor delivered in 1941. Pope Pius XII made him cardinal in February 1946 and, he died a month later, surrounded by the veneration of the faithful, who recognized in him a model of Christian courage. This is precisely the message, always timely, of Blessed von Galen: Faith cannot be reduced to a private sentiment, which, perhaps, is hidden when it becomes something uncomfortable; rather, it implies coherence and witness in the public realm in favor of man, justice and truth. I express my profound congratulations to the diocesan community of Muenster and to the Church in Germany, invoking upon all, through the intercession of the new blessed, abundant graces of the Lord.

In these days, as you know, the assembly of the Synod of Bishops is taking place in the Vatican, to reflect in-depth on the topic of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Church. I have presided at the meetings of the first week and also, in the two that will follow. The synod will become my principal engagement. I ask you to continue to pray for the synod so that it can give the expected fruits. In particular, in this month of October, in which all the ecclesial community is called to renew its own missionary commitment, I invite you to take up what John Paul II wrote in the fourth part of the apostolic letter «Mane Nobiscum Domine,» in regard to the Eucharist as «principle and plan of mission» (Nos. 24-28): «The encounter with Christ, constantly intensified and deepened in the Eucharist, issues in the Church and in every Christian an urgent summons to testimony and evangelization» (No. 24). It is underlined by the dismissal greeting at the end of the Mass: «Ite, missa est,» which reminds of the «mission,» the task of those who have participated in the celebration to take to all the Good News received and to animate society with it.

Let us commend this intention to the intercession of Mary Most Holy and St. Daniele Comboni, who will be remembered tomorrow in the liturgy. May he, famous evangelizer and protector of the African continent, help the Church in our time to respond with faith and courage to the risen Lord’s mandate, who invites her to proclaim the love of God to all peoples.

[At the end of the Angelus, the Pope greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

It was with deep sadness that I learned of yesterday’s earthquake in South Asia, which caused such great damage and loss of life in Pakistan, India and Afghanistan. I commend to God’s loving mercy all those who have died and I extend my deepest sympathy to the many thousands who are injured or bereaved. I pray that the international community will be swift and generous in its response to the disaster and I ask the Lord to grant courage and strength to those involved in the task of rescue work and reconstruction.

To the English-speaking visitors present here today, I offer a warm welcome. I ask your prayers for the work of the synod, and for the bishops from all over the world who have gathered here for this great event in the life of the Church. Be assured of my prayers for you, your families and those who are dear to you. May God bless you all.

[In Spanish, he said:]

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, especially the delegation of Officers of the Military Navy of Ecuador and the faithful of Alzira, Aledo and Totana, Spain. At this time, I wish to remember the dear nations of Central America and Mexico, especially El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, which are suffering the effects of intense rains and floods, which have caused numerous victims, as well as substantial material damage. I pray to the Lord for the eternal rest of the deceased and express my spiritual closeness and affection to those who are deprived of their dwellings and work instruments. Moreover, I invite institutions and persons of good will to give effective help with a spirit of true fraternal solidarity.

[After speaking in French, German, Hungarian and Polish, the Pope spoke again in Italian]

I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, in particular the teachers of the Catholic religion from all over Italy, which during these days have had their first national meeting. Dear friends, your commitment in the school is a precious contribution to the formation of the new generations and to their growth in knowledge of the Catholic tradition and culture in awareness of their personal responsibilities and in the adherence to the values of civil coexistence. For this reason, I remember you in prayer and wish you good work.

With joy I welcome the «Children for Unity» of the Focolare Movement who today will participate here in Rome and in many cities worldwide in a sports relay for unity and peace. Dear boys and girls, remain always united to Christ and you will be builders of genuine fraternity.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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