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Wednesday, January 26, 2005


VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2005 (VIS) - In today's general audience, which was held in the Paul VI Hall, the Pope spoke on Psalm 114, and the subject of "thanksgiving."

  The psalmist, John Paul II affirmed, "expresses loving recognition to the Lord, after his intense supplications were answered: 'I love the Lord because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on Him as long as I live.' This declaration of love is immediately followed by a vivid description of the mortal danger that had been menacing the psalmist's life."

  "From that tragic abyss," continued the Pope, "a cry arose towards the only One who can extend a hand and lift the anguished psalmist from that inextricable turmoil: 'O Lord. I beseech you, save my life!'"

  "The call for help addressed to the Lord that we have just heard in the psalm," said the Holy Father, "reminds us of the great value of prayer. The believer clings to the Lord as his only hope of salvation and expresses his grateful love for the protection he receives."

  The Holy Father highlighted the fact that "authentic faith always sees God as love, even if at times we find it difficult to understand His actions fully. It always remains certain that 'the Lord preserves the simple', and so in misery and solitude you can always rely upon Him."

  "Prayer helps us to rediscover the loving face of God. He never abandons his people but guarantees that, notwithstanding trials and suffering, good triumphs in the end."
AG/PSALM 114/...                                VIS 20050126 (280)


VATICAN CITY, JAN 26, 2005 (VIS) - Last evening, feast of the conversion of St. Paul, Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, presided in the name of the Holy Father at the celebration of Vespers at the basilica of St. Paul's Outside-the-Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

  In his homily, which focused on "Jesus Christ, Our Common Foundation," the cardinal quoted St. Paul's words to the Corinthians - "No one may lay a foundation different from that already laid, which is Jesus Christ" - and told the religious leaders assembled that "this is the reason for our ecumenical commitment."

  "Today," said the council president, "at the start of the new year, we do not wish to look to the past but rather to the future, the future of ecumenism. From its very beginnings, at the start of the 20th century, the ecumenical movement has known great changes in the world and in our Churches. The ecumenical situation itself is quite different. At times, the initial impulse seems to run the risk of falling into a lethargic state and of losing its credibility. On one side signs of reticence and resistance emerge and, on the other, signs of resignation and frustration. Therefore, we cannot continue to repeat: 'business as usual'. What must we do? What can we do?"

  We must reflect, said Cardinal Kasper, on Jesus Christ, our foundation, on "faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man, Who is the foundation of our baptism, which makes us Christians, incorporating us into the Church. ... Jesus Christ is not only the foundation but also the goal of our ecumenical commitment: in Him we will be one. ...  Precisely today, in post-modern society when everything becomes relative and arbitrary, and everyone creates his or her own religion a la carte, we need a solid foundation and a trustworthy common reference point for our personal life and our ecumenical work."

  The cardinal asked: "What does this mean concretely? I will mention only three consequences. In the first place, it is over the Bible that we are divided and it is only through reading, studying and meditating on the Bible that we can rediscover unity. ... Secondly, through Baptism we are incorporated into Jesus Christ. In our ecumenical commitment, we don't start from zero. Through Baptism we are already in a fundamental communion that unites us to Christ and unites us one to the other. ... Thirdly, Jesus Christ is present in the Church through His Word and His sacraments. He is the Head of the Church and the Church is His Body."

  In concluding remarks, Cardinal Kasper said: "We can and must distinguish Christ from the Church, but we cannot separate one from the other. St. Augustine taught us the formula 'Christus totus', the fullness of Christ as Head and Body. And this is the deepest point of divergence between the Churches and the ecclesial communities of the West, which impedes us from fully being signs and instruments of Christ."
CON-UC/WEEK PRAYER UNITY/KASPER            VIS 20050126 (520)

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