VATICAN CITY, JUNE 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- If people want to have hope and find meaning in their lives, they need to take God out of the "parentheses," says Benedict XVI.
The Pope affirmed this Monday in the Basilica of St. John Lateran when he inaugurated the ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome. The event is under way through Thursday, focused on the theme: "Jesus Has Risen: Educating for Hope in Prayer, Action and Suffering."
The Holy Father referred to the subject of Christian hope, explaining that, "in a certain way, it concerns each of us personally, [...] but it is also a community hope, a hope for the Church and for the entire human family."
"In today's society and culture, and hence also in this our beloved city of Rome, it is not easy to live in an atmosphere of Christian hope," he said. "There is a widespread feeling that, for both Italy and Europe, the best years have passed and that a future of instability and uncertainty awaits the new generations."
"Moreover," the Pontiff added, "hopes for great novelties and improvements are concentrated on science and technology." Yet, "it is not science and technology that can give meaning to our lives and teach us to distinguish good from evil. Indeed, as I wrote in my encyclical 'Spe Salvi,' it is not science that redeems man: Man is redeemed by love, and this applies even in terms of the present world."
Benedict XVI lamented how "our civilization and our culture [...] too often tend to place God in parentheses, to organize personal and social life without him, to maintain that nothing can be known of God, even to deny his existence. But when God is laid aside, [...] all our hopes, great and small, rest on nothing.
"In order, then, to 'educate for hope' -- as we propose in this congress and during the coming pastoral year -- it is necessary, in the first place, to open our hearts, our intellects and all our lives to God, in order to be his credible witnesses among our fellow man."
The Bishop of Rome mentioned some concrete areas in which the Church will work to better the Eternal City.
"An acute and widespread awareness of the evils and problems afflicting the heart of Rome is reawakening the desire for [...] joint commitment," he said. "It is our task to make our own specific contribution, beginning with the decisive question of the education and formation of the person, but also facing with a constructive spirit the many other real problems that often make the lives of those who live in this city wearisome.
"In particular we will seek to promote a form of culture and social organization more favorable to the family and to welcoming life, as well to valuing the elderly who are so numerous among the population of Rome.
"We will work to respond to the crucial needs of work and housing, especially for the young. We will share the commitment to make our city safer and more 'liveable,' but we will work to ensure it is so for everyone, especially the poorest, and to ensure that immigrants who come among us to find a living space in respect for our laws are not excluded."
Benedict XVI concluded his address by encouraging young people to make "the gift of Christian hope" their own, using it "in freedom and responsibility [...] to enliven the future of our beloved city."
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