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Ramiro Pellitero, high school Superior of Religious Sciences, University of Navarra, Spain
The echo of a message
A recent book, "Attack on Ratzinger" (by Paolo Rodari and Andrea Tornielli, ed. Piemme, 2010?), includes, in its preface, the desire that some people had for the pontificate of Benedict XVI to be brief and go unnoticed. The Pope himself explained that he chose the name Benedict in honor of the patron saint of Europe and also in memory of Benedict XV: a Pope who had worked for peace, even though his pontificate had not been very long.
Going unnoticed does not fit in with the Pope's activity. And since he has not passed as quickly as some would have wished," the authors say with fine irony, "given that his pontificate is destined to leave a sign, the attacks against Benedict XVI have multiplied. Hence the degree scroll of the book.
These two Vatican experts ask themselves if the Pope is alone; they answer that this is not really the case, because many people support him, although his collaborators could probably help him better in the organization of work, relations with the media, etc. There is no lack of those who silence his message, hinder it or manipulate it. And in some cases it is possible to verify the existence of real media "alliances" to discredit him.
The preface ends by quoting the words of Benedict XVI at the inaugural Mass of his pontificate (24 April 2005): "Pray for me, that I may not flee in fear before the wolves".
Now, what can we ordinary Christians do to help the Pope in his ministry of unity and service to Christians and humanity?
St. Josemaría Escrivá wrote: "Our Holy Mother the Church, in a magnificent outpouring of love, is spreading the seed of the Gospel throughout the world. From Rome to the periphery. -As you collaborate in this expansion throughout the whole world, bring the periphery to the Pope, so that the whole earth may be one flock and one Shepherd: a single apostolate" (The Forge, 638).
In addition to praying and continuing to work as best we can for the glory of God and the service of society, we can and must echo his message, serving him as a loudspeaker with our lives and our words. It is not enough to think: "This does not affect me very much, it is a matter for the Pope and his collaborators...".
It is necessary that Christians, together with many other people of good will, help to ensure that the message of Benedict XVI, which is none other than that of the Gospel, renewed in our time, is "heard" and appreciated. We must counteract the silences of some, the ineffectiveness of others, the manipulations of certain mass media. It is necessary to reach, as we can, individually or in group, many people, to explain what the Pope really proposes: the primacy of love, the learning of hope, the responsibility of all for the human promotion and the integral development of people. This requires a good knowledge of his major documents (the three encyclicals and the exhortation on the Eucharist), as well as his main messages and speeches.
Briefly: it is necessary to study and dialogue on what the Pope says: do we know him? Have we thought about our possibilities to echo him at all levels of society?
This is a good time for young people (because they are the ones who can express their faith most forcefully, and in whom the Church and the world place their hope) to be called to "huddle" together with the Pope. All Christians should feel this invitation to unity: first of all through our union with Jesus Christ, since the Pope is the Vicar of Christ, head of the Mystical Body, and also by each of us, according to our place in the Church and in the world, our gifts and circumstances (age, ability, programs of study, responsibilities, mission statement, charisms, etc.), asking ourselves "what we do and what we can do", besides praying for the Pope and his ministry, besides being personally better Christians and helping others to be better Christians, which is undoubtedly the first thing. All of this can and will undoubtedly be perceived by other believers, and even by people who are looking for a transcendent meaning in life.
Students will be able to talk with their classmates and organize groups of meeting and dialogue on the Pope's major themes. Educators and communicators, leaders of groups and movements, parents (and grandparents), priests in parishes and ecclesial institutions, professionals with their friends, etc., can do the same. We can all collaborate at staff and social level. Some will be able to call to more people, promote actions of cultural and public scope: adhesions, interviews, publications, etc., at local, national or international level.
The only thing we should not do is to fold our arms, for that would mean prolonging the silences, inefficiencies and manipulations. We cannot leave the Pope alone, because his mission statement -promote the unity and life of Christians, witnessing to and strengthening the faith, presiding over and promoting the Gospel throughout the world, so that humanity may become the great family of God - is also ours mission statement. We must echo his message, the Gospel, with our lives and words.
A particularly appropriate occasion is the Pope's travels, especially on the occasion of the workshop World Youth Day. It is a matter of working so that many young people can meet him (physically or through the media), so that the Gospel can come alive - as a proposal of wisdom and beauty, of truth, goodness and joy - in the life of the world.