Benedict XVI Reflects on Trips to US, France

Says Journeys Are at Service of God’s Presence

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 22, 2008 ( Benedict XVI is underscoring the importance of his apostolic trips in 2008 — to the United States, France and Australia.

The Pope recalled the journeys today when he had his traditional exchange of Christmas greetings with prelates and members of the Roman Curia. In this annual address, the Holy Father highlights key events of the year; this year he also touched on the October synod of bishops and the inauguration of the Pauline Jubilee Year.

The apostolic journeys were about the «presence of the Word of God, of God himself in the current moment of history,» the Pontiff said. The purpose of these trips can «only be to serve this presence [of God].»

«On these occasions, the Church is made publicly perceptible, [and] with it, the faith, and because of this, at least, the question about God,» he continued.

The Pope said that these public manifestations are a call to those who «try to understand the present times and the forces at work in it.»

He particularly mentioned his trip to Australia, for the World Youth Day in July, saying that these events have created a type of youth culture.

And regarding his journeys to the United States in April and to France in September, the Pontiff said that «the Church made itself visible before the world and for the world, as a spiritual force that indicates the paths of life and, through the testimony of faith, brings light to the world.»

Those trips, he said, were days that «radiated light, radiated trust in the value of life and determination for the good.»

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