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Pope speaks on need for obedience to God and forgiveness

Pauline Chapel

Pauline Chapel

Pope Benedict reflected on the primacy of obedience to God and the true meaning of penitence and forgiveness in the life of Christians,  in his homily during a Mass with members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission in the  Vatican's Pauline Chapel.

Recalling the words of St  Peter before the Sanhedrin, the Pope noted that "we must obey God rather than men." Conversely in modern times, he said, the freedom of the human being is often spoken of, of man's full autonomy, and thus of a liberation from obedience to God.

"This autonomy, however, is a lie. It is an ontological lie because man does not exist in and for himself. It is a political and practical lie because collaboration and sharing in freedoms are necessary and if God did not exist, if God is not accessible to call upon, then only the will of the majority remains as a last recourse. The rule of the majority then becomes the final word that we must obey and this consensus - as we know from our history of the last century - can also be a consensus of evil. Thus we see that so-called autonomy does not liberate man."

Benedict XVI highlighted that dictatorships have always been against obedience to God. "Nazi dictatorship, as that of Marxism, cannot accept a God above ideological power." Today, he continued, we do not live under a dictatorship but subtle forms of dictatorship exist: "Conformity, in which it is obligatory to think as everyone else thinks, to act as all others act, and the more or less subtle aggression against the Church demonstrate how this conformity can be a real dictatorship."

The Pope continued to emphasize that "today we are often a little afraid to speak of eternal life. We speak of the things that are useful for the world, we show that Christianity can help improve the world but we dare not say that its goal is eternal life and that from that goal come the criteria of life."

That is why, he added, "we should instead have the courage, the joy, and the great hope that eternal life exists, which is the true life and that from this true life comes the light that also illuminates this world. From this point of view, 'penitence is a grace', a grace that we recognize our sins, that we can recognize that we need renewal, change, a transformation of our very being."

"I have to say that we Christians, also recently, have often avoided the word 'penitence', which seems too harsh. Now, before the attacks from the world that speak of our sins, we see that the power to be penitent is a grace and we see how it is necessary to make penance, to recognize what is wrong in our life. We must be open to forgiveness, prepare ourselves for forgiveness, let ourselves be transformed. The sorrow of penitence, of purification and transformation," he concluded, "is a grace because it is a renewal, the work of Divine Mercy."

Source: VIS