VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The biggest challenge for the Church today, above all in countries with deep Christian roots, is to reintroduce the beauty of Christianity to those who consider it an obstacle to happiness, says Benedict XVI.
The Pope said this Monday at the Basilica of St. John Lateran when he addressed the opening session of Rome's 2011 Diocesan Convention, which is under way through Thursday.
The diocesan convention concludes the pastoral year of the Diocese of Rome. The theme of the meeting is "The Joy of Nurturing Faith in the Church of Rome -- Christian Initiation."
In his address, the Holy Father reflected that drawing close to those who have fallen away from the faith has become "especially urgent today," and that the Church needs "a new evangelization addressed to all those who, although they have heard talk of the faith, no longer appreciate, no longer know the beauty of Christianity; on the contrary, at times they even view it as an obstacle to achieving happiness."
In the cathedral of the Diocese of Rome, which was filled to capacity, Benedict XVI quoted a letter addressed personally to him from theologian Hans Urs von Balthasar (1905-1988): "Faith must never be presupposed but proposed."
"This is just how it is," the Pope stated. "Faith is not kept by itself in the world, it is not automatically passed on to the human heart, but must always be proclaimed."
The Holy Father added that if "the proclamation of faith is to be effective it must stem in turn from a heart that believes and loves, a heart that adores Christ and believes in the power of the Holy Spirit!"
"If people forget God," he continued, "it is partly because the Person of Jesus is often reduced to that of the figure of a wise man and his divinity weakened, if not denied."
Benedict XVI noted that thinking of Christ with only "human ideas" is an "obstacle to understanding the radical newness of Christianity."
"Therefore," he stated, "may there be a growing commitment to a renewed season of evangelization, which is not only the task of some of the members of the Church but rather of them all."
The Pope said that mission of evangelization that the Church must carry out is "to proclaim the newness of the Gospel," to "show the beauty and reasonableness of faith," and to "carry God's light to the people of our time, with courage, with conviction, with joy."
"There are many people who have not encountered the Lord," the Holy Father added. "Special pastoral care should be dedicated to them."
"Beside the children and young people of Christian families who ask to begin the process of Christian initiation," he continued, "there are adults who have not received baptism or who have drifted away from the faith and from the Church. This pastoral attention is especially urgent today and asks us to commit ourselves with confidence, sustained by the certainty that God's grace works in the human heart today too."
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