Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Pope says being silent about Christianity will not increase peace

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- In the name of peace, many people are tempted to think it is better not to speak about religion or their specific faith, but that runs the risk of giving free rein to those who abuse religion and the name of God, Pope Benedict XVI said.

The pope made his comments July 23 at the tiny parish in the village of Rhemes-Saint-Georges, near where he was vacationing in the Italian Alps.

The Vatican press office July 25 published a transcript of the pope's unprepared remarks to parishioners during the evening prayer service for peace in the Middle East.

"Today in a multicultural and multireligious world, many are tempted to say, 'It is better for peace in the world among religions and cultures not to talk too much about the specifics of Christianity, that is, of Christ, the church and the sacraments,'" the pope said.

Many people reason to themselves, "Let's be content with the things we have more or less in common," he said.

But that will not increase the chances for peace, the pope said.

"Precisely at this moment -- a moment of great abuse of the name of God -- we need the God who triumphed on the cross, who won not with violence but by his love," Pope Benedict said.

"Precisely at this moment we need the face of Christ to understand the true face of God and, in that way, to bring reconciliation and light to the world," he said.

On July 24 Vatican Radio interviewed Father Paolo Curtaz, pastor of the parishes in the Rhemes and Savarenche valleys, including the parish where the pope celebrated the prayer service.

He said Msgr. Georg Ganswein, the pope's personal secretary, visited several churches in the valleys July 22, then made a choice of where the pope would go.

"It was a surprise," Father Curtaz said. "Saturday evening Msgr. Georg phoned and said, 'We want to pray with you tomorrow.' And that's what happened."

The little parish, he said, does not even number 200 people, "so it was a parish that never ever would have thought" it could host a papal visit.

He said the parishioners were "euphoric," but in the typical mountain way.

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