Pope Benedict XVI, messenger of hope
Pope Benedict will make his first apostolic visit to the United States from April 15 to 20. The six-day trip will begin in Washington, D.C. and will end in New York City. Although the Holy Father will be in our country for only a few days, and geographically not too close to San Antonio, his trip has a historic value for the entire United States, especially for Catholics.
The trip, in fact, will include some symbolic events and places for our country and for the world: the Holy Father will visit the White House, will address the United Nations General Assembly and will visit Ground Zero.
Also, he will participate in various public events, including the Mass at Nationals Park in Washington and Yankee Stadium in New York. He will also have a meeting with the United States bishops at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. It is important to notice the theme of his visit: “Christ our hope.” He has personally chosen it, and I think that it is more important than the places he will visit or the authorities with whom he will meet.
Why has Benedict XVI chosen this subject? Because as he has indicated in his last encyclical “Spe Salvi” (Saved in Hope), today we run the risk of falling into a world where the secular promises can create many illusions, but they are not capable of providing the true hope that the human person needs to be able to live.
In this regard, the Holy Father wrote: “We have all witnessed the way in which progress, in the wrong hands, can become and has indeed become a terrifying progress in evil.
“If technical progress is not matched by corresponding progress in man’s inner growth, then it is not progress at all, but a threat for man and for the world … Let us put it very simply: man needs God, otherwise he remains without hope.” (Spe Salvi 22-23)
That then is the great objective of the pope’s upcoming visit to our country: to remind us that Christ is our hope, that he is the only hope in the world. There is no doubt that Benedict XVI will be warmly received in the United States.
A short time ago, the Knights of Columbus reported that 58 percent of Americans have a positive opinion of the Holy Father, almost 60 percent say that they will follow the pope’s visit through the media, and 42 percent, including many evangelicals, are interested in witnessing at least one of the scheduled events during his visit.
The figures are exciting, but for us Catholics, it is much more than an event that will conclude when we see the plane that will take the pope back to Rome depart.
For us, the papal visit must be an occasion to receive the teachings of Christ from the vicar of Christ on earth. Pope Benedict XVI will help us apply in our daily lives that fundamental truth that we are celebrating during this Easter season: that Christ is the source, the root and the reason for Christian hope. That is why I wish to entrust the fruits of the upcoming papal visit to the prayers of all the faithful of the archdiocese.
The pope will sow seeds of hope, but we will only see the fruits of charity flourish if we receive the teachings that the pope will give us and then, after his departure, apply them in our personal lives, in our parishes, in our schools and in the public arena.
The pope’s visit to our country brings the memory of the visit of the Servant of God, Pope John Paul II to our city. It is then a good time to recall his words and retake the commitment to continue our journey of faith and love in the hope of sharing our faith with modern society.
Pope John Paul II said to us in 1987, “Today, it is your turn to be evangelizers of each other and of all those whose faith is weak or who have not yet given themselves to the Lord. May you be no less zealous in evangelization and in Christian service than your forebears!”
With all my heart, I pray that our Catholic identity and our sense of historical responsibility best prepare us to receive the teachings that the vicar of Christ will bring us.
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