Benedict XVI Warns of an Emptied Christianity

Says Emmaus Discouragement Is Present Also Today

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VENICE, Italy, MAY 8, 2011 ( Benedict XVI is bringing a message of the new evangelization to northeastern Italy, urging the region to remember that the faith is more than a cultural and social tradition.

The Pope visited Venice and Aquilea Saturday and today, giving four addresses and a homily in just a few hours.This afternoon, some 300,000 people attended the Mass he celebrated, coming not only from dioceses of the region, but also from Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and Germany.

“You live in a context in which Christianity shows itself as the faith that has accompanied the path of so many peoples for centuries, even through persecutions and the most difficult trials,” the Holy Father said in his homily. “Nevertheless, today this belonging to Christ runs the risk of being emptied of its truth and its deepest elements: It runs the risk of becoming a perspective that only touches life superficially, in the aspects that are just social and cultural.”

He warned of being content with a Christianity “in which the experience of faith in Jesus, crucified and risen, does not enlighten the path of existence.”

The Bishop of Rome proposed that the situation of the peoples of the region is similar to that of the disciples on the way to Emmaus.

The depression and discouragement of those two disciples is seen “when the disciples of today distance themselves from the Jerusalem of the Crucified and Risen One, when they cease to believe in the power and the living presence of the Lord,” he proposed. “The problem of evil, of pain and suffering, the problem of injustice and abuse, of fear of others, of outsiders, and those who arrive to our lands from far away and seem to threaten who we are, [this] brings Christians of today to say with sadness: ‘We had hoped that the Lord would free us from evil, from pain, from suffering, from fear, from injustice.”

The Pope invited these Christians to rediscover Christ, through the Word of God, and the sacrament of his Body and Blood, which “restores to us the eyes of faith, so as to see everything and everyone with the eyes of God and the light of his love.”

“Be holy!” the Pontiff urged them. “Put Christ at the center of your lives. Build the edifice of your existence upon him.

“In Jesus you will find the strength to open yourselves to others and to make of yourselves, with his example, a gift for all of humanity.”

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