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Wednesday, May 18, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2011 (VIS) - After having visited the theme of prayer as a universal phenomenon in the past two Wednesday catecheses, today the Pope began a new Biblical reflection on a theme "that will guide us to deepen the dialogue of covenant between God and humanity that animates the history of salvation until its fullness ... in Christ".

  Addressing the pilgrims present in this Wednesday's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI explained that "Abraham, the great patriarch, father of all believers", offers us the first example of a prayer of intercession when God told him of His plan to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, "because of the wickedness of its inhabitants".

  The Patriarch, the Pope said, "did not limit himself to asking for the salvation of the innocent but also implored forgiveness for the entire city, appealing to God's justice", a divine justice that "seeks the good and creates it by means of a forgiveness that transforms the sinners, converting and saving them".

  "Abraham's thought, that seems almost paradoxical, can be summarized thus: of course the innocent cannot be treated like the guilty, that would be unjust; instead the guilty need to be treated as the innocent, applying a 'higher' justice, offering them the possibility of salvation because, if the evildoers accept God's forgiveness and confess their blame, letting themselves be saved, they will not continue doing evil but will also become just, no longer needing to be punished".

  Emphasizing that "forgiveness breaks the spiral of sin", the Pope noted that "Abraham, in his dialogue with God, asks exactly for that ... through his intercession, his prayer to God for the salvation of the others, he demonstrates and expresses the desire for salvation that God always nurtures for the sinner. Evil cannot be accepted. It must be pointed out and destroyed through punishment. the destruction of Sodom had precisely this function. The Lord, however, did not wish the death of the wicked but that they convert and live: His desire is always to forgive, to save, to give life, and to transform evil into good".

  The Pope stressed that "a transformation from within is necessary, a pretext for good, a beginning of what sets in motion the transformation from evil into good, hatred into love, and vengeance into forgiveness".

  "However, God's mercy in the history of His people extends even further. ... The infinite and surprising love of God will be made fully manifest when the Son of God becomes man, the definitive Just One, the perfect Innocent who will bring salvation to the entire world with His death on the cross, forgiving and interceding for those who 'know not what they do'. Then, each person's daily prayer will find its answer, then all our intercessions will be fully granted".

  Benedict XVI ended by asking that "the prayer of Abraham, our father in the faith, teach us to open our hearts more and more to God's overabundant mercy, so that in our daily prayer we might know how to desire the salvation of humanity and to ask for it with perseverance and with confidence in the Lord who is great in love".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2011 (VIS) - At the end of this morning's general audience in St. Peter's Square, Benedict XVI spoke briefly about the Church in China. Next Tuesday, 24 May, is the day dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, who is venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. The Pope took this opportunity to invite the faithful everywhere to join in prayer with and for the Church in China.

  While the Church in China is growing, Christ there, as in other places around the world is still rejected, ignored, or persecuted. The Holy Father asked "all Chinese Catholics to continue and to deepen their own prayers, especially to Mary, the powerful Virgin. At the same time all Catholics throughout the world have a duty to pray for the Church in China: those members of the faithful have a right to our prayers, they need our prayers".

  "Chinese Catholics, as they have said many times, want unity with the universal Church, with the Supreme Pastor, with the Successor of Peter. By our prayers we can obtain for the Church in China that it remain one, holy and Catholic, faithful and steadfast in doctrine and in ecclesial discipline".

  Although many Chinese bishops, priests, and faithful encounter difficulties in freely professing their faith, with our prayers, the Pope emphasized that "we can help them to find the path to keep their faith alive, to keep their hope strong, to keep their love for all people ardent, and to maintain in its integrity the ecclesiology that we have received from the Lord and the Apostles ".

  In conclusion, the Holy Father asked Mary "to enlighten those who are in doubt, to call back the straying, to console the afflicted, and to strengthen those who are ensnared by the allure of opportunism".
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VATICAN CITY, 18 MAY 2011 (VIS) - Today the Holy Father accepted the resignation from the pastoral care of the archdiocese of Cali, Colombia presented by Archbishop Juan Francisco Sarasti Jaramillo, C.I.M., in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law. He is succeeded by Coadjutor Bishop Dario de Jesus Monsalve Mejia.
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