The Pope Has Come to Germany, He Speaks of God

L’Osservatore Director Reflects on First Days of State Visit

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ROME, SEPT. 24, 2011 ( Here is the signed editorial by Giovanni Maria Vian, director of the semi-official Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, published today, on the second day of Benedict XVI’s four-day state visit to Germany. The editorial is titled «The Sun Over Germany.»

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It is already possible to extend to the whole journey the well-chosen image of the sun over Berlin chosen by the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as the title of a commentary on the masterful discourse of Benedict XVI — which with an intelligent and perfect journalistic choice the authoritative German daily published in its entirety. Not only and not so much because of the beautiful fresh, sunny weather that is accompanying him, as rather for the importance of the visit in the different events. Therefore the sun is shining on Germany to which Joseph Ratzinger has returned for the third time since he was elected Pope to meet the people and to speak of God, as he explained at the outset.

In the Christian tradition sunlight also symbolizes that divine light which illuminates the world, and the Bishop of Rome has chosen to speak of God’s light itself, meeting the Evangelical representatives in Erfurt — in the very place where the young Luther studied theology — whom he welcomed with genuine warmth. And it was of course the question on God, central in the thought and torment of the young Augustinian monk, which Benedict XVI had at heart above all. Who is concerned about it, even among Christians? Who takes his own failings and the reality of evil seriously? Rethinking «Christ’s cause», dear to Luther and hence to faith, is the main ecumenical commitment today in a world in which God’s absence weighs ever more heavily.

The very image of light is used by the Pope to describe the gradual distancing of the world from God: at the outset, his reflection still illuminates man but increasingly he ends by losing his life. This is why it is always necessary to overcome the error of the past, the emphasis of what divides Christians, and to insist instead on what — and it is already a lot — unites them. The faith of the Trinitarian God revealed by Christ and his testimony in a world thirsting for it as if it were penetrating ever deeper into a waterless desert.

One must reflect upon this common witness of Christians — in a society where ethics are replaced by solely utilitarian calculations — in the struggle to defend «the inviolable dignity of every single person, from conception until death». In the dialogue with other religions, and especially with Judaism and Islam, as the Pope repeated while meeting with a few representatives. In fact, Christians can and must collaborate with Muslims and Jews, in a society where it is necessary to struggle together to make the public dimension secure and to create through justice the conditions for peace: opus iustitiae pax, to use the Old Testament phrase that Eugenio Pacelli chose as his motto.

In a time of restlessness and indifference and in circumstances that often squeeze you like a wine press, those who live in the joy of the Church, which is the most beautiful gift of God, must let themselves to be mysteriously transformed into the sweet wine of Christ, offered to all with friendship and reason. Today man can destroy the world and because of this he must rediscover through reason the foundations of law, as he explained to Parliament in Berlin. As was evocatively written in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: «The fisher of men has come from Rome».

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