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Wednesday, October 31, 2007


VATICAN CITY, OCT 31, 2007 (VIS) - During his general audience, held this morning in a rainy St. Peter's Square in the presence of 30,000 faithful, Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to the figure of St. Maximus of Turin.

  Maximus became bishop of that Italian city in the year 398 just as it was being threatened by various barbarian tribes which had entered Italy through the eastern passes and pushed as far as the western Alps. Turin was protected by a military garrison and served as a safe haven for people fleeing rural areas.

  Faced with such a situation the activities of Maximus, author of around 90 sermons, "bear witness to his commitment to react to the degradation and break-up" of civil society, said the Pope. The bishop censured the faithful when they sought to turn another's disadvantage to their own benefit, thus highlighting "the profound relationship between a person's duties as a Christian and as a citizen." And Maximus was concerned "not only with people's traditional love for their hometown" but also proclaimed "the specific duty of paying taxes."

  A historical and literary analysis of the figure of St. Maximus, said the Pope, "demonstrates his growing awareness of the political responsibility of the ecclesiastical authorities at a time in which they were, in effect, substituting civil authority."

  "It is clear that today's historical, cultural and social context is completely different," the Holy Father went on, "but in any case, ... the duties of believers towards their city and their homeland remain the same. The link between the obligations of the 'honest citizen' and those of the 'good Christian' has not changed in the least."

  In this context, Pope Benedict then went on to refer to the Vatican Council II Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et spes" which had the aim "of illuminating one of the most important aspects of the unity of Christian life: coherence between faith and life, between Gospel and culture."

  Vatican Council II, he concluded, "exhorts Christians, as citizens of two cities, to strive to discharge their earthly duties conscientiously and in response to the Gospel spirit. They are mistaken who, knowing that we have here no abiding city but seek one which is to come, think that they may therefore shirk their earthly responsibilities. For they are forgetting that by the faith itself they are more obliged than ever to measure up to these duties, each according to his proper vocation."
AG/MAXIMUS OF TURIN/...                    VIS 20071031 (420)

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