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BY Jim Cosgrove
VATICAN CITY-Conversion comprises a return to God and liberation from evil, a process which each individual must actively undertake to be saved, Pope John Paul II said.
Included in his Aug. 18 general audience, the catechesis followed previous teachings on heaven, purgatory and hell, and the way to attain eternal happiness.
The Pope noted that the problem of evil is a focus of the final year of preparation for the Great Jubilee Year 2000, as he stipulated in his apostolic letter, Tertio Millennio Adveniente.
Because the Christian sees the “road to conversion as liberation from evil, it is a topic that profoundly touches our experience,” the Holy Father observed. In fact, “the whole of personal and communal history is, to a great extent, a struggle against evil.”
“While the struggle against evil is a significant part of the experience of personal and community life, we know that to overcome sin we must rely on the strength which God gives us in Christ,”'the Pope told pilgrims gathered in the Paul VI Audience Hall.
Scripture emphasizes that conversion means making a sincere return to God as well as being freed from sin, he noted.
“In this process,”'he added, “the sinner recognizes his sin and returns to God, placing his confidence in God's mercy and forgiveness.”
“As Christians, we believe that Jesus Christ has definitively conquered the evil one,”'Pope John Paul said. “However, each one of us must freely accept this victory by undertaking the commitment and continual vigilance which the struggle against sin requires.”
Linked to man's freedom, the Pope explained that sin emerges in the interior terrain where “man's conscience, will and sensibility are in contact with dark forces which, according to St. Paul, ‘act in the world until they dominate it.’ Sadly, human beings can become protagonists of perversity, that is, become an evil and perverse generation,”
He said immorality, which arises from evil, provokes suffering that can be alleviated only by overcoming sin.
“We are called to conversion,”'Pope John Paul said, “that is, to return sincerely to God and to free ourselves from evil; these are the two aspects of a single path.”
The Pope added, “only Jesus makes us conscious of evil.”
Pope John Paul pointed out that in St. Matthew's version of the Our Father, the faithful are meant to ask for deliverance “from the evil one” ‘- an “adjective form,”’ the Pope added, “which can indicate a personification of evil.”
“This is provoked in the world by the spiritual being, called the devil or Satan in biblical revelation, who deliberately opposes God,”'he continued.
“Human malignity caused by that which is demonic or which is provoked by its influence,”'the Pope said, is present “even in our time in an alluring form, seducing minds and hearts, in this way causing the loss of the sense of evil and of sin.”