Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi has said that the Holy Father’s words and deeds in recent days have been “exceptionally intense and crucial” for the life of the Church.
He stressed Benedict XVI’s attempts to heal tensions and misunderstandings and preserve unity during these difficult times. And he singled out this quotation from a papal statement as particularly significant, given after a meeting with the Bishop Emeritus of Augsburg, Walter Mixa:
“In a time of contrasts and insecurity, the world expects Christians to show harmonious witness on the basis of their encounter with the Risen Lord, with which they help one another and the whole of society to find the right path to the future”.
“These are the sentiments of the Pope,” Fr. Lombardi said. “His exquisitely evangelical witness is clear. We must follow it.”
The Holy Father has said much to guide the faithful through these difficult times and give hope and encouragement. Here are perhaps some of the most significant quotes of recent weeks.
June 29, 2010 – Homily during the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
“Jesus’ promise that ‘the powers of darkness will not prevail’ over the Church embraces the historical experience of persecution suffered by Peter and Paul, and by other witnesses to the Gospel; but it also goes further, ensuring protection above all from threats of a spiritual nature”.
“[The Church] suffers her greatest damage from that which pollutes the faith and the Christian life of her members and her communities, damaging the integrity of her mystical Body, weakening her capacity for prophecy and witness, obscuring the beauty of her countenance. [Quoting St. Paul’s Second Letter to Timothy] Men who work evil ‘will not make much progress, because their folly will become plain to everyone’. There is, then, a guarantee of freedom that God gives the Church: freedom from material ties which seek to impede or inhibit her mission, and from spiritual and moral evils which can damage her authenticity and credibility.”
“Communion with Peter and his successors is, in fact, a guarantee of freedom for the pastors of the Church and for the communities entrusted to their care. At the historical level, union with the Apostolic See ensures that particular Churches and episcopal conferences remain free from local, national or trans-national powers, which can in certain cases hinder the mission of the Church. Also, and more importantly, the Petrine ministry is a guarantee of freedom in terms of full adherence to truth and authentic tradition, that the People of God may be protected from errors of faith and morality”.
June 11, 2010 - Homily at Mass to Close Year for Priests.
“Had the Year for Priests been a glorification of our individual human performance, it would have been ruined by these [abuse scandal] events. But for us what happened was precisely the opposite: we grew in gratitude for God’s gift, a gift concealed in ‘earthen vessels’ which ever anew, even amid human weakness, makes His love concretely present in this world. So let us look upon all that happened as a summons to purification, as a task which we bring to the future and which makes us acknowledge and love all the more the great gift we have received from God. In this way, His gift becomes a commitment to respond to God’s courage and humility by our own courage and our own humility”.
“When speaking of the darkest valley, we can also think of the dark valleys of temptation, discouragement and trial through which everyone has to pass. Even in these dark valleys of life He is there. ... Help us priests, so that we can remain beside the persons entrusted to us in these dark nights. So that we can show them your own light.”
“The Church too must use the shepherd’s rod, the rod with which she protects the faith against those who falsify it, against currents which lead the flock astray. The use of the rod can actually be a service of love. Today we can see that it has nothing to do with love when conduct unworthy of the priestly life is tolerated.”
June 27, 2010 – On the raid of the Belgian Catholic Church.
“On a number of occasions I myself have highlighted how these serious matters should be dealt with by both civil law and canon law, while respecting the specific nature and autonomy of each. In this context, I trust that justice may run its course in order to guarantee the fundamental rights of persons and of institutions, at the same time respecting victims, showing unconditional recognition for those who undertake to collaborate, and rejecting everything that obscures the noble goal with which justice is assigned.”
June 28, 2010 – On the new Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.
“Not only is there physical hunger, there is also a more profound hunger which only God can satisfy. Man in the third millennium also seeks an authentic and full life; he needs truth, profound freedom and gratuitous love. Even in the deserts of the secularised world man’s soul thirsts for God, for the living God.”
The Holy Father left for his summer vacation in Castel Gandolfo this afternoon. Although he will recite the Angelus prayer on Sundays, he won’t be receiving visitors, or holding his weekly general audience until August 4.