Benedict XVI Offers an Answer to Church's Crisis
Posted on December 08, 2006
From Catholic University - an online weekend newspaper
The answer to the crisis the Church is facing, especially in the West, consists in proclaiming and rediscovering the grandeur of God's love, experienced in prayer, says Benedict XVI. The Pope expressed this when analyzing in several meetings with the bishops of Switzerland, from Nov. 7-9, today's challenges to evangelization. The bishops were concluding their five-yearly visit to Rome, which had been put on hold in 2005 because of Pope John Paul II's failing health.
Benedict XVI's two interventions, as well as his homily to the Swiss bishops, are revealing, as he delivered them in German, his mother tongue. They were subsequently translated by the Holy See and will appear later in ZENIT.
The Pontiff began his last talk by explaining that he had not had the time to prepare his addresses as he had wished. "I would like to ask you to excuse me for having come without a prepared text on the very first day," the Holy Father said. "I had of course given it some thought, but I did not have the time to write. And so, once again now, I am presenting myself with this impoverishment, but it might be right also for a Pope to be poor in all senses at this time in the Church's history. "In any case, I am unable to offer you a grand discourse now as would have been fitting after a meeting with these results."
Addressing the present crisis in the Church, Benedict XVI recalled how, "when I used go to Germany in the 1980s and '90s, … I was asked to give interviews and I always knew the questions in advance. They concerned the ordination of women, contraception, abortion and other such constantly recurring problems. "If we let ourselves be drawn into these discussions, the Church is then identified with certain commandments or prohibitions; we give the impression that we are moralists with a few somewhat antiquated convictions, and not even a hint of the true greatness of the faith appears."
The Pope continued: "I therefore consider it essential always to highlight the greatness of our faith -- a commitment from which we must not allow such situations to divert us." Understood from this perspective are the important documents of this pontificate, particularly the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" and the forthcoming book on Jesus to be published this spring.
"God is Logos and God is Love - to the point that he completely humbled himself, assuming a human body and finally, giving himself into our hands as bread," the Holy Father explained. "We know that God is not a philosophical hypothesis, he is not something that perhaps exists, but we know him and he knows us. And we can know him better and better if we keep up a dialogue with him.
"This is why it is a fundamental task of pastoral care to teach people how to pray and how to learn to do so personally, better and better." "Many seek meditation elsewhere because they think that they will not be able to find a spiritual dimension in Christianity," Benedict XVI observed.
"We must show them once again not only that this spiritual dimension exists but that it is the source of all things. "To this end, we must increase the number of these schools of prayer, for praying together, where it is possible to learn personal prayer in all its dimensions: as silent listening to God, as a listening that penetrates his Word, penetrates his silence, sounds the depths of his action in history and in one's own person; and to understand his language in one's life and then to learn to respond in prayer with the great prayers of the Psalms of the Old Testament and prayers of the New.
"This intimate being with God, hence, the experience of God's presence, is what makes us, so to speak, experience ever anew the greatness of Christianity, and then also helps us to find our way through all the trivialities among which, of course, it must also be lived and -- day after day, in suffering and loving, in joy and sorrow -- put into practice."