Economic Crisis Seen as Time to Build Hope

Prelate Affirms Christ’s Closeness in Dark Moments

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By Carmen Elena Villa

ROME, MARCH 11, 2009 ( The present economic crisis can be a moment to unite oneself to the cross of Christ, suggested the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi said this Monday in his address on «The Challenges of the Crisis: Fears and Hopes,» delivered in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, as part of the program called «Dialogues in the Cathedral,» organized by the Diocese of Rome.

The event was presided over by Cardinal Agostino Vallini, vicar general of the diocese of Rome. Sociologist Giuseppe de Rita, president of Le Monnier and former president of the National Council of the Economy of Work, also addressed the gathering.

Archbishop Ravasi pointed out how the economic crisis touches the lives and feelings of people that change like a «chromatic specter» that goes «from icy purple to red hot.» He noted that when man stays in the purple hue, it would seem that «there is no return; there will be no other morning.»

The prelate noted that sometimes in life «it is necessary that our faith know the purple of desperation,» so that the virtue of hope is tested.

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The archbishop stated that there are three types of hope: «spiritual, interior and psychological hope.» He also spoke about «the hope we must make flourish in the physical world,» which is tested in moments of poverty and sickness, a hope that «must be in communion with these physical sufferings.»

He noted that there must also be «a social hope,» and he gave the example of the Gospel miracle of the healing of the lepers, who were «isolated and marginalized.»

Archbishop Ravasi assured his listeners that Christ «makes hope flourish […] in the physical world, in poverty and also in sickness.»

Referring to the healing of the 10 lepers, he added, «Christ advances toward us» in the same way, and this miracle «is a call he makes to us: to make hope flourish, also when communication is lacking and marginalization is present.»

The prelate noted that «in the mystery of the incarnation, Christ enters in the dark gallery of suffering» and «tells us that to be a man one must suffer and die,» but this does not defeat faith because «Christ shows us his closeness and breaks the limit of frailty.»

He concluded his address by assuring those present that «hope is the littlest sister of faith and charity,» and that «to allow oneself to be dragged down is the greatest temptation.» He said, «You, Christians, must be ready to respond.»

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