Renewal for the whole Church in Australia 19 July 2008

 At 9.30am local time today, the Pope celebrated Mass for bishops, priests, deacons, seminarians and religious at St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. The cathedral is dedicated to Our Lady Help of Christians, patroness of Australia.

In his homily the Pope made reference to the new altar, which he dedicated during the ceremony, pointing out that "in today's liturgy the Church reminds us that, like this altar, we too have been consecrated, set 'apart' for the service of God and the building up of His Kingdom. All too often, however, we find ourselves immersed in a world that would set God 'aside'. In the name of human freedom and autonomy, God's name is passed over in silence, religion is reduced to private devotion, and faith is shunned in the public square. At times this mentality, so completely at odds with the core of the Gospel, can even cloud our own understanding of the Church and her mission.

"We too", he added, "can be tempted to make the life of faith a matter of mere sentiment, thus blunting its power to inspire a consistent vision of the world and a rigorous dialogue with the many other visions competing for the minds and hearts of our contemporaries.

"Yet history", he continued, "shows that the question of God will never be silenced, and that indifference to the religious dimension of human existence ultimately diminishes and betrays man himself. Is that not the message which is proclaimed by the magnificent architecture of this cathedral? Is that not the mystery of faith which will be proclaimed from this altar at every celebration of the Eucharist?"

"Wherever man is diminished, the world around us is also diminished; it loses its ultimate meaning and strays from its goal. What emerges is a culture, not of life, but of death. How could this be considered 'progress'? It is a backward step, a form of regression which ultimately dries up the very sources of life for individuals and all of society".

After indicating that "today's liturgy offers an eloquent symbol of that progressive spiritual transformation to which each of us is called", the Pope expressed the hope that "this celebration, in the presence of the Successor of Peter, may be a moment of rededication and renewal for the whole Church in Australia".

He went on: "Here I would like to pause to acknowledge the shame which we have all felt as a result of the sexual abuse of minors by some clergy and religious in this country. Indeed, I am deeply sorry for the pain and suffering the victims have endured, and I assure them that, as their pastor, I too share in their suffering. These misdeeds, which constitute so grave a betrayal of trust, deserve unequivocal condemnation. They have caused great pain and have damaged the Church's witness. I ask all of you to support and assist your bishops, and to work together with them in combating this evil. Victims should receive compassion and care, and those responsible for these evils must be brought to justice. It is an urgent priority to promote a safer and more wholesome environment, especially for young people".

Turning then to address young religious and seminarians, the Pope encouraged them to "enter sincerely and deeply into the discipline and spirit of your programmes of formation. Walk in Christ's light daily through fidelity to personal and liturgical prayer, nourished by meditation on the inspired word of God. ... Make the daily celebration of the Eucharist the centre of your life".

"Model your lives daily", he told them, "on the Lord's own loving self-oblation in obedience to the will of the Father. You will then discover the freedom and joy which can draw others to the Love which lies beyond all other loves as their source and their ultimate fulfilment.

"Never forget that celibacy for the sake of the Kingdom means embracing a life completely devoted to love, a love that enables you to commit yourselves fully to God's service and to be totally present to your brothers and sisters, especially those in need. The greatest treasures that you share with other young people - your idealism, your generosity, your time and energy - these are the very sacrifices which you are placing upon the Lord's altar. May you always cherish this beautiful charism which God has given you for His glory and the building up of the Church!"

Following Mass, Benedict XVI returned to Cathedral House where he had lunch with Australian bishops and his entourage.

Source: VIS

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