“The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.”

That’s what Pope Benedict XVI asserts in today’s letter to the world’s bishops about the SSPX controversy.

The comment comes in a significant passage in which he concisely summarizes the goals of his pontificate. Here is the complete passage:

“I believe that I set forth clearly the priorities of my pontificate in the addresses which I gave at its beginning. Everything that I said then continues unchanged as my plan of action. The first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the Upper Room in the clearest of terms: ‘You ... strengthen your brothers.’ Peter himself formulated this priority anew in his first Letter: ‘Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you’. In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the way to God. Not just any god, but the God Who spoke on Sinai; to that God Whose face we recognize in a love which presses ‘to the end’ — in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with increasingly evident destructive effects.

“Leading men and women to God, to the God Who speaks in the Bible: this is the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God. Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith — ecumenism — is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing images of God, towards the source of Light —  this is inter-religious dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love ‘to the end’ has to bear witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of hatred and enmity — this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of which I spoke in the Encyclical ‘Deus caritas est.’”