Pope: challenge for Christians is to enliven the future of our beloved city

Vatican City, Jun. 10, 2008 (vaticans.org) - Pope Benedict XVI presided at the opening of an ecclesial congress for the Rome diocese on Monday evening, June 9, and told the participants that the Church might offer "the gift of Christian hope" to a skeptical society.

At the opening session, held in the Roman basilica of St. John Lateran, the Holy Father concentrated his remarks on "educating for hope," the theme of this year's congress. He remarked that contemporary society badly needs new sources of hope, since the secular world often breeds the belief that "the best years have passed and that a future of instability and uncertainty awaits the new generations."

At other times, the Pope continued, a secular outlook offers false hopes, based on the notion that scientific progress will solve human problems. That confidence is misplaced, he said, because "it is not science and technology that can give meaning to our lives and teach us to distinguish good from evil."

Real hope comes from God and refers back to God, the Pope said. Unfortunately, he continued, today's world "tends to place God in parentheses, to organize personal and social life without Him." When society takes that attitude, the Pontiff said, "all our hopes, great and small, rest on nothing."

To provide genuine hope, then, Christians must bear witness to their faith, the Pope said. He argued that the people of the Rome diocese are ready to listen to that witness, because even the secular world has come to recognize the emptiness of modern life. The challenge for Christians is to "enliven the future of our beloved city," the Pope concluded.

Pope Benedict suggested some specific areas in which the Church should help to bring new hope to secular society: by protecting and promoting healthy family life, by welcoming new life, by caring for the needs of the poor and immigrants.

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