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Wednesday, January 4, 2006


VATICAN CITY, JAN 4, 2006 (VIS) - Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, sent a telegram to Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, Archbishop of München and Freising (Germany), expressing the Pope's condolences to the families of the victims of the collapse of the roof of the skating rink in Bad Reichenhall (Bavarian Alps). The majority of those that died during this accident, which occurred on January 2nd, were young persons.


VATICAN CITY, JAN 4, 2006 (VIS) - The first general audience for 2006 was divided into two separate moments: at 10:30 am, the Pope met with the various groups of faithful in the Paul VI Hall, and after that, he returned to the Vatican Basilica to welcome the persons who could not get into the Hall.

  The theme for the catechesis for this Wednesday was the Christological hymn from St. Paul's Letter to the Colossians, "Christ was created before any other creature; He is the firstborn of He who resuscitates the dead". The Holy Father said: "The text begins with an ample formula of thanks. This helps us to create a spiritual atmosphere to live these first days of 2006 well, along with our path during the entire new year".

  "Praise rises to "God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ", the source of that salvation that is described negatively as the "liberation from the power of the darkness", (...) then re-proposed from the positive viewpoint as the "participation in the destiny of the saints of light".

  Benedict XVI stated that at the beginning of this hymn, "Christ is presented as the firstborn of all of creation". He is the "image of the invisible God". He continued, saying that in the second part of this hymn, "the figure of Christ the Saviour within the history of salvation is dominant. (...) the head of the body, that is to say, the Church: this is the privileged saving horizon where the liberation and the redemption, the vital communion that runs between the head and the parts of the body, that is between Christ and the Christians, is fully manifested".
  Improvising, the Pope stated that "St. Paul shows us something of great importance, history has a goal, it has a direction, history moves towards a humanity united in Christ. (...) In other words, St. Paul tells us yes, there is progress in history, there is one if we strive for evolution in history, progress is everything that allows us to come closer to Christ, thus bringing us closer to a united humanity, to true humanism; and behind these indications is also hidden an imperative for us, to work for progress, something we all want: all of us can work towards the closeness of men towards Christ, we can personally conform to Christ, going along the line of true progress".

  He continued: "Christ is He who opens the doors to eternal life, tearing us away from the limitation of death and evil. Here in fact, is that "fullness" of life and grace that is in Christ Himself, and is given and communicated to us. With this vital presence, which allows us to participate in divinity, we are transformed internally, reconciled, pacified".

  The Holy Father recalled some words from Saint Proclo of Constantinople: "Who redeemed us was not merely man, (...) nor was He a God deprived of a human nature: in fact, He had a body. Had He not transformed into man, He would not have saved me. Appearing in the womb of the Virgin, He became the condemned man. There lies the tremendous exchange, He gave the spirit and took on the flesh".

  The Pope concluded saying: "Therefore, we are faced with the work of God, who achieved Redemption because He became man. He is at the same time the Son of God, Saviour, but also our brother and because of this proximity He infuses the Divine Gift in us".
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