Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Fight violence and build peace by tackling poverty, says Pope

Vatican City, Jan 1, 2009 / 12:31 pm (CNA).- Presiding over the celebration of Mass for the Solemnity of Mary Mother of God, Pope Benedict XVI re-emphasized the need to fight poverty to build a society of peace. Violence, hatred and mistrust, which he called “forms of poverty,” must be brought to an end, especially in the Holy Land, he exhorted.

The Holy Father began his homily by commemorating the Incarnation, “a light which will not go out and which offers the faithful and men of good will the possibility to construct a civilization of love and of peace.”

“The Second Vatican Council said, in this regard, that ‘by His incarnation the Son of God has united Himself in some fashion with every man,’” the Pope noted. With his birth in Bethlehem, Benedict XVI said, Jesus reveals to humanity that God chose poverty for himself in his coming among them.

“The scene that the shepherds saw first and that confirmed the announcement made to them by the angel is that of the stable where Mary and Jesus looked for refuge and of the manger in which the Virgin laid the Infant wrapped in swaddling clothes.”

Turning to today’s celebration of the 42nd World Day of Peace, the Pope explained that its theme-- Combating poverty. Building peace-- contains two elements: “the poverty chosen and proposed by Jesus and of combating poverty to make the world more just.”

The second consideration is that “there is poverty that God does not want: a poverty that impedes individuals and families from living according to their dignity; a poverty which offends justice and equality and which threatens peaceful coexistence,” the Pontiff said. In addition, he pointed to forms of spiritual poverty: “marginalization and moral and spiritual misery.”

“To combat unjust poverty it is necessary to rediscover sobriety and solidarity, those evangelical and at the same time, universal values,” Pope Benedict asserted.

Christians must learn from the mystery of the poverty of God, which is fully understood after Mary laid Jesus’ body, dead and wrapped in linen, in the sepulcher, he said. This mystery is that “he was poor for humanity to enrich them by his poverty full of love,” the Holy Father taught.

Benedict XVI brought his homily to a close by invoking Mary and calling upon the faithful to pray for an end to the violence in the Holy Land. “To her we entrust the deep desire to live in peace that rises from the heart of the vast majority of Israeli and Palestinian populations, once again put at risk by massive violence erupted in the Gaza Strip in response to more violence. Violence, hatred and mistrust are forms of poverty - perhaps the most terrible - ‘to fight.’ Help us to follow his example, to combat and defeat poverty and to construct true peace, which is the opus iustitiae.”

Later on Thursday the Pope addressed the faithful before praying the Angelus. Raising the topic of the financial crisis that developed during the second half of 2008, he argued that the crisis should be an opportunity for people around the world to place their trust in the grace of God, since “only with it - can ever again hope that the future is better than the past.”

Benedict XVI then turned to the plight of the poor, who are the most vulnerable during the economic downturn. Fighting violence and the lack of peace can only be accomplished by combating poverty, he said drawing upon his Message for the World Day of Peace.

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