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Pope’s 2012 Urbi et Orbi Address: ‘Open the Door of Faith’ (3405)

Addressing thousands of pilgrims at St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father recalled those suffering from conflicts across the world and expressed hope that China’s new leaders will respect the contribution of religions.

12/25/2012 Comments (4)
Franco Origlia/ Getty Images News

Pope Benedict XVI delivers his 'urbi et orbi' blessing (2011).

– Franco Origlia/ Getty Images News

VATICAN CITY — In his Christmas urbi et orbi ("to the city of Rome and to the world") address, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on how the birth of Christ has allowed truth to “spring out of the earth,” bringing kindness, justice and peace, but that man must, for his part, “open the door of faith.”

Addressing thousands of pilgrims from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica, the Holy Father also recalled those suffering from conflicts across the world and expressed his hope that China’s new leaders will respect the contribution of religions.

Taking Psalm 85:12 as his starting point — “Veritas de terra orta est!” (Truth has sprung out of the earth!) — the Pope said that, today, these prophetic words, along with the rest of the Psalm’s text, have been fulfilled.

“In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth do indeed meet,” the Pope said. “Justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth, and justice has looked down from heaven.”

He cited the explanation of St. Augustine of Hippo, who, with “admirable brevity,” wrote, “What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth. … Truth has been born of the Virgin Mary.”

Adding a further reflection of St. Augustine, taken from his Sermones, the Pope explained that “so lofty a God” became “so lowly,” certainly not for his own sake, “but for our great benefit, if we believe.”

 

Year of Faith Theme

With an emphasis on the words “if we believe,” the Pope introduced the theme of the Year of Faith, noting that it is up to each person to open the door of faith to Christ. “God has done everything,” the Pope said. “He has done the impossible: He was made flesh. … And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith!”

He added, “We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: Truth has sprung up! God is born!”

He also noted that “a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness” is one in which there is “a good soil” which God has prepared, “that he might come to dwell among us.”

“This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012,” the Pope continued. “Truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.”

 

Peace on Earth

He then turned to current conflicts in the world, first appealing for an end to the conflict in Syria, “which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims.” He called for relief for refugees and the displaced and a resolution of the conflict sought through dialogue.

He appealed for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, the land where the Redeemer was born, calling on both sides to “embark resolutely” on the path of negotiation.

He called on the Child Jesus to look “in a special way” on Asia and particularly the “high task” facing China’s new leaders. “I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble people and of the whole world,” the Pope said.

China-Holy See relations have been strained over the past year, with Chinese authorities ordaining a bishop without the approval of the Vatican and arresting a bishop who criticized state interference in the Church. The bishop has since been stripped of his title.

The Pope appealed for peace in Mali, which suffered a coup earlier this year and an Islamist power grab, and appealed for “concord in Nigeria,” where “savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians.” The militant Jihadist group Boko Haram has carried out numerous deadly attacks on churches and other targets this year.

The Holy Father further appealed for “help and comfort” for refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and that peace be granted to Kenya, which has experienced an upsurge of terrorism activities targeting churches, security forces and civilians.

Turning to Latin America, Pope Benedict called on the Lord to increase their “human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.”

 

‘A Flowering of New Life’

“Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met,” the Pope said in closing. “They have become incarnate in the Child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!”

In 65 languages, the Pope then offered the greeting: “May the birth of the Prince of Peace remind the world where its true happiness lies; and may your hearts be filled with hope and joy, for the Savior has been born for us.”

Edward Pentin is the Register’s Rome correspondent.

 

 

Below is the complete text of Pope Benedict XVI’s Urbi et Orbi address for 2012, delivered from the loggia of St. Peter’s Basilica.

 

“Veritas de terra orta est!” — “Truth has sprung out of the earth” (Ps 85:12).

Dear brothers and sisters in Rome and throughout the world, a happy Christmas to you and your families!

In this Year of Faith, I express my Christmas greetings and good wishes in these words taken from one of the Psalms: “Truth has sprung out of the earth”. Actually, in the text of the Psalm, these words are in the future: “Kindness and truth shall meet; / justice and peace shall kiss. / Truth shall spring out of the earth, /and justice shall look down from heaven. / The Lord himself will give his benefits; / our land shall yield its increase. / Justice shall walk before him, / and salvation, along the way of his steps” (Ps 85:11-14).

Today these prophetic words have been fulfilled! In Jesus, born in Bethlehem of the Virgin Mary, kindness and truth do indeed meet; justice and peace have kissed; truth has sprung out of the earth and justice has looked down from heaven. Saint Augustine explains with admirable brevity: “What is truth? The Son of God. What is the earth? The flesh. Ask whence Christ has been born, and you will see that truth has sprung out of the earth … truth has been born of the Virgin Mary” (En. in Ps. 84:13). And in a Christmas sermon he says that “in this yearly feast we celebrate that day when the prophecy was fulfilled: ‘truth shall spring out of the earth, and justice shall look down from heaven.’ The Truth, which is in the bosom of the Father has sprung out of the earth, to be in the womb of a mother too. The Truth which rules the whole world has sprung out of the earth, to be held in the arms of a woman ... The Truth which heaven cannot contain has sprung out of the earth, to be laid in a manger. For whose benefit did so lofty a God become so lowly? Certainly not for his own, but for our great benefit, if we believe” (Sermones, 185, 1).

“If we believe.” Here we see the power of faith! God has done everything; he has done the impossible: he was made flesh. His all-powerful love has accomplished something which surpasses all human understanding: the Infinite has become a child, has entered the human family. And yet, this same God cannot enter my heart unless I open the door to him. Porta fidei! The door of faith! We could be frightened by this, our inverse omnipotence. This human ability to be closed to God can make us fearful. But see the reality which chases away this gloomy thought, the hope that conquers fear: truth has sprung up! God is born! “The earth has yielded its fruits” (Ps 67:7). Yes, there is a good earth, a healthy earth, an earth freed of all selfishness and all lack of openness. In this world there is a good soil which God has prepared, that he might come to dwell among us. A dwelling place for his presence in the world. This good earth exists, and today too, in 2012, from this earth truth has sprung up! Consequently, there is hope in the world, a hope in which we can trust, even at the most difficult times and in the most difficult situations. Truth has sprung up, bringing kindness, justice and peace.

Yes, may peace spring up for the people of Syria, deeply wounded and divided by a conflict which does not spare even the defenseless and reaps innocent victims. Once again I appeal for an end to the bloodshed, easier access for the relief of refugees and the displaced, and dialogue in the pursuit of a political solution to the conflict.

May peace spring up in the Land where the Redeemer was born, and may he grant Israelis and Palestinians courage to end to long years of conflict and division, and to embark resolutely on the path of negotiation.

In the countries of North Africa, which are experiencing a major transition in pursuit of a new future — and especially the beloved land of Egypt, blessed by the childhood of Jesus — may citizens work together to build societies founded on justice and respect for the freedom and dignity of every person.

May peace spring up on the vast continent of Asia. May the Child Jesus look graciously on the many peoples who dwell in those lands and, in a special way, upon all those who believe in him. May the King of Peace turn his gaze to the new leaders of the People’s Republic of China for the high task which awaits them. I express my hope that, in fulfilling this task, they will esteem the contribution of the religions, in respect for each, in such a way that they can help to build a fraternal society for the benefit of that noble People and of the whole world.

May the Birth of Christ favor the return of peace in Mali and that of concord in Nigeria, where savage acts of terrorism continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians. May the Redeemer bring help and comfort to the refugees from the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and grant peace to Kenya, where brutal attacks have struck the civilian population and places of worship.

May the Child Jesus bless the great numbers of the faithful who celebrate him in Latin America. May he increase their human and Christian virtues, sustain all those forced to leave behind their families and their land, and confirm government leaders in their commitment to development and fighting crime.

Dear brothers and sisters! Kindness and truth, justice and peace have met; they have become incarnate in the child born of Mary in Bethlehem. That child is the Son of God; he is God appearing in history. His birth is a flowering of new life for all humanity. May every land become a good earth which receives and brings forth kindness and truth, justice and peace. Happy Christmas to all of you!

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