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  September 18, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 16Oakland, CA

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Pope delivers lessons on religion, reason, Church beliefs

New cathedral for Oakland begins to rise

New religious community will minister to deaf Catholics

Former synagogue in Berkeley is new home for Dominican School

St. Mary’s College students delve into classic texts

Michael Feinstein to headline concert
fundraiser at Holy Names University

New website provides one-stop shop
for info on colleges in California

Catholic colleges rank high on list

St. Columba Parish opens another senior housing complex

Social justice is focus
of Sept. 23 gathering

Benefactor leaves funds for direct aid to homeless seniors

Fourteenth annual Chautauqua Oct. 7

High School Information Guide

ANALYSIS
Religious extremism is not only factor in terrorism

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pope delivers lessons on religion, reason,
Church beliefs

REGENSBURG, Germany (CNS) -- Returning to the city where he once taught theology, Pope Benedict XVI offered a fundamental lesson in what the Church believes and why it should proclaim the faith clearly in today’s anxious and violent world.

In a sermon before an estimated 300,000 people in Regensburg Sept. 12, the pope said it was necessary to recognize the modern “pathologies” associated with reason and religion and the ways that “God’s image can be destroyed by hatred and fanaticism.”

In light of these distortions, he said, Christians need to “state clearly the God in whom we believe and proclaim confidently that this God has a human face.”

“Only this can free us from being afraid of God, which is ultimately at the root of modern atheism. Only this God saves us from being afraid of the world and from anxiety before the emptiness of life,” he said.

When he arrived at the Mass site, the pope spent 20 minutes riding through the crowd in a popemobile, smiling and waving as he passed through an enthusiastic crowd. Hundreds of homemade banners expressed, in some form, the “welcome back” sentiment that prevailed in the city.

The pope was spending two days in and around Regensburg, where his older brother, Msgr. Georg Ratzinger, lives and where his parents are buried. The pope taught theology at the University of Regensburg from 1969 until his appointment as archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977.

Speaking from beneath a hillside canopy overlooking a field on the edge of the city, the pope said he was “a bit taken aback” by all the preparation work for his visit. He offered what he called “an inadequate thank you.”

On his left was situated a huge cross, which the pontiff called “a sign of God’s peace in the world.” The phrase underlined what has become a subtext of the pope’s six-day visit and a theme of his papacy: that Christianity does not threaten people, but offers a vision based on love.

Tomas Miklos, a sugar factory worker in Regensburg, said this basic message of the German pope was resonating with younger generations. He stood with other worshippers on one of the manicured plots of grass installed for the Mass.

“I think the pope is trying to bring a new way of seeing things. Instead of war, we create love. That’s the message younger people want to hear, and it’s enough,” he said.

“We see all these terrible images of Iraq, Israel, Beirut. And the pope is saying something about all that: Christianity is love,” he said.

“I think this is bringing younger people closer to the Church,” he added.

In his sermon, the pope said people don’t need high theology to understand the faith. “Deep down, it is quite simple,” he said -- belief in God the creator, in Christ the savior and in everlasting life, as expressed in the Apostles’ Creed.

He said modern attempts to make God “unnecessary” have always failed because it becomes clear that “something is missing from the equation.”

“When God is subtracted, something doesn’t add up for man, the world, the whole vast universe,” he said, in one of several lines that drew applause from the crowd.

The pope said today’s world faces two approaches to the ultimate questions about life: “What came first? Creative reason, the spirit who makes all things and gives them growth, or unreason, which, lacking any meaning ... somehow brings forth a mathematically ordered cosmos, as well as man and his reason.”

He said that if seen as “nothing more than a chance result of evolution,” the human becomes meaningless. Christians, on the other hand, believe that at the beginning of everything is the eternal word -- reason and not unreason, he said.

The pope completed his mini-explication of the creed by examining the Church’s belief in the last judgment. He said it that if the idea of judgment makes people afraid, it also brings the prospect of “the triumph of justice.”

“Don’t we want the outrageous injustice and suffering which we see in human history to be finally undone, so that in the end everyone will find happiness, and everything will be shown to have meaning?” he said.

Faith is not meant to instill fear but to call people to accountability, he said.

“We are not meant to waste our lives, misuse them or spend them selfishly. In the face of injustice we must not remain indifferent and thus end up as silent collaborators or outright accomplices,” he said.

Not everyone who came to the Mass was an active Catholic or enthusiastic supporter of the pope. Andre Lovas, an engineer and a self-described former Catholic, said his office was closed for the papal event, so he decided to attend the liturgy instead of sitting at home.

Lovas said that although he considers the pope a “nice, smart” man he disagrees with the Church on several key issues: treatment of women in the church, Catholic relations with Protestants and the Church’s policy against condom use.


Pope Benedict XVI waves to pilgrims after a Mass held on Islinger Field near Regensburg, Germany, Sept. 12. An estimated 300,000 people attended the liturgy.
CNS PHOTO/KAI PFAFFENBACH/REUTERS

 

Pope Benedict XVI talks to a Bavarian girl in traditional dress after receiving flowers outside the Munich opera house, Sept. 9.
CNS PHOTO/WOLFGANG RATTAY/REUTERS


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