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Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Vatican City, 13 June 2012 (VIS) - On the evening of Monday 11 June in the basilica of St. John Lateran, Benedict XVI inaugurated the diocesan ecclesial congress of Rome, which comes to an end today. During the three-day event participants discussed the importance of Baptism in the context of the theme of the gathering: "Go and make disciples, baptising and teaching. Let us rediscover the beauty of Baptism".

Extracts from the Pope's off-the-cuff inaugural address are given below:

"Baptism means being united to God in a new and unique existence. ... Thinking about this, we immediately see that it has certain consequences. The first of these is that God is no longer distant from us. ... We are in God and God is in us. The priority, the central place of God in our lives is a first consequence of Baptism".

"A second consequence ... is that we become Christian. ... Of course, my own decision is also necessary, but above all it is an action of God with me. ... I am assumed by God ... and, by saying 'yes' to this action by God, I become Christian. ... A third element ... is that, by being immersed in God, I am naturally united to my brothers and sisters, because everyone else is also in God and, if I am drawn out of my isolation, ... then I am immersed in communion with others".

"This rite, like the rite of nearly all the Sacraments, is made up of two elements: matter (water) and word. ... Christianity is not something purely spiritual. ... God is the creator of all matter, ... and that is why it is very important for matter to be part of our faith. ... The other element is the word, which takes three forms: renunciations, promises and invocations. It is important that these words ... mark our life journey".

"Let us examine the renunciations. They are three in number and I will first consider the second: 'Do you renounce the lure of evil?' ... In the early Church ... they used the phrase: 'Do you renounce the pomp of the devil'. ... The pomp of the devil referred to the brutal public shows in which cruelty became a form of entertainment, in which killing men became a spectacle. ... Yet, beyond this immediate meaning, ... the phrase also referred to a certain kind of culture, ... and Baptism fundamentally means ... freeing oneself from that culture. Today too we see cultures in which the truth does not count. In which all that counts is the spirit of calumny and destruction. A culture which does not seek goodness, a culture which uses its morality as a mask to confuse and destroy. To this culture in which falsehood is disguised as truth and information, to this culture which seeks only material wealth and denies God, we say 'no'".

"The first renunciation is: 'Do you renounce sin to live in the freedom of the children of God?' Today freedom and Christian life ... seem to move in opposite directions. Being Christian is taken to mean a kind of slavery and freedom is seen as emancipation from Christian faith, in the final analysis emancipation from God. ... Yet God made Himself vulnerable ... because He loves us. ... Our first concern must be ... not to destroy His love, ... because to do so is to go against our own selves and our own freedom".

"And ultimately: 'Do you renounce Satan?' This tells us that there is a 'yes' to God and a 'no' to the power of the Evil One, who ... wishes to become god of this world".

"Finally there remains the question ... of the Baptism of children. Is it right to do so or would it be better for them to follow a catechumenal journey before Baptism? The other question that always arises is: Can we impose a religion upon children? ... Yet the true question is, in fact: Is it right to give life in this world without having received consent? ... I would say that it is possible and right to do so only if, along with life, we also give the guarantee that life, despite all the problems of the world, is good ... and protected by God. ... Only the anticipation of the meaning can justify the anticipation of life. Therefore Baptism as a guarantee of God's goodness, as an anticipation of meaning, as an anticipation of God's 'yes' which protects this life, justifies the anticipation of life".

1 comment:

  1. Is it possible to translate the whole off-the-cuff address of the Holy Father and to include it in the vatican website www.vatican.va under the Pope's speeches? Many catholics, and I am one of them, like to read the Holy Father's writings and speeches. They are really informative, inspirational, and can help transform one's faith. The Zenit website has its own translation of the address and you may use it as reference. Thanks.


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