After the way of the cross

After the Stations of the Cross through Sydney, Pope Benedict's day was far from over. Pope Benedict XVI. During a meeting with representatives of other religions in Sydney, Benedict stressed the importance of dialogue in securing peace. And he met with difficult-to-educate young people. At the same time, he warned against escaping into alcohol, drugs or crime.

Pope Benedict XVI. At a meeting with representatives of other religions in Sydney, stressed the importance of dialogue in securing peace. Religions could contribute to a harmonious relationship between religion and public life. This is all the more important at a time when some have come to believe that religion is a cause of division rather than a force for unity."I have come to Australia as an ambassador of peace.", with these words Benedict summarized his concern. He considers himself fortunate "to meet you who share both this longing and the desire to help the world attain peace."Religions must pull together, the Pope said – for the good of mankind: "In a world threatened by insidious and indiscriminate forms of violence, people of faith urge nations and communities with a united voice to resolve conflicts by peaceful means and with full respect for human dignity."Religions open up an image of humanity in which generosity and friendship are at the center."At their core, human relationships cannot be explained in terms of power, domination, and self-interest. Rather, they testify to and perfect man's natural inclination to live in community and harmony with others."Let the religious sense open men and women to God and lead them to the realization that personal fulfillment does not consist in the selfish gratification of short-lived desires. Religions are important because "they teach people that true service requires sacrifice and self-control, which in turn must be cultivated through self-denial, moderation, and a modest use of this world's goods. This leads men and women to view the environment as a marvel to be cherished and preserved, rather than a commodity to be simply consumed."Benedict clarified the common ground for dialogue, saying that the universality of human experience enables adherents of different religions to enter into dialogue with one another in order to come to terms with the mystery of life's joys and sorrows. "In this sense, the Church eagerly seeks ways to listen to the spiritual experience of other religions. We could say that all religions aim to penetrate the deep meaning of human existence by linking it to an origin or principle that lies outside of it. Religions offer an attempt to understand the cosmos as something that emerges from and returns to this origin or principle. Christians believe that God has revealed this origin and principle in Jesus, of whom the Bible speaks as the "Alpha and Omega" (cf. Rev 1:8; 22:1) speaks."The search for peace goes hand in hand with the search for meaning. The quest for international understanding springs from that truth which gives meaning to life and leads to it: "Religion gives peace, but more importantly, it awakens in the human spirit a thirst for truth and a hunger for virtue. Let us encourage everyone – especially young people – to marvel at the beauty of life, to seek its ultimate meaning and to strive to realize its exceedingly great potential!"Muslim representative Sheikh Femhi El-Imam also emphasized the peacemaking power of religions in his welcoming remarks."If Muslims and Christians and other faith communities reach out to each other and build bridges instead of barriers, all humanity will enjoy it. In recent days we have heard from the young people: 'Let us build a fundamentalism of love instead of a fundamentalism of hatred. My greatest hope is that you, Holy Father, will become an inspiration for love, justice and peace for the half million young people gathered here to celebrate their faith with yours and many more millions around the world."Jewish representative Rabbi Jeremy Lawrence thanked Benedict XVI. for the progress in the Jewish-Christian dialogue."Your Holiness, bless them with the words from the Book of Deuteronomy the Almighty, that they promote the spiritual profile and awareness around our faith in our city. May you also return home in good health with God's blessing and continue the dialogue with the religious leaders, the rabbis and the scholars that has made possible this historic rapprochement over the last forty years.

"Meeting with young people who are difficult to educate In his meeting with hard-to-educate youth, the pope warned against escaping into alcohol, drugs or crime. While these might seem like a way out of difficult situations in the short term. Ultimately, however, these aberrations do not promote life, but death. The pope spoke to participants in the "Alive" social program at Notre Dame University. Benedict XVI expressly turned to the. Against idolatry of possessions: "When we are greedy, when we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, we make our possessions a false god. How many voices in our materialistic society tell us that happiness is to be found in acquiring as many possessions and luxury items as we can! But that means making ownership a false god. Instead of bringing life, he brings death."Even without love, life would hardly be worth living, the Pope stressed. But, "Often people think they love when in reality they want to own and manipulate the other person. Sometimes treating others as objects to satisfy their own needs rather than as persons to be loved and cherished. How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive attitude toward sexuality, without regard for decency, self-respect, or moral values that give human relationships their quality! This is worship of a false god. Instead of bringing life, it brings death."Power is also good and necessary in principle, he said, if it is used with responsibility. But when someone clings to power and tries to dominate others or exploit the environment for selfish interests, power becomes a false idol.Drawing on the parable of the prodigal son, Benedict XVI praised. the courage of young people to repent: "I look to you as ambassadors of hope for others in similar situations. You can convince them of the necessity to choose the way of life and to avoid the way of death, because you speak from experience."Benedict encouraged the young people to also encourage others to get out of drugs or crime. His message to the youth: "Choose life so that you and your descendants may live in the love of the Lord your God. Let His Spirit guide you on the path of life so that you obey His commandments, follow His teachings, leave behind the deviations that lead only to death, and commit yourself to a lifelong friendship with Jesus Christ. In the power of the Holy Spirit, choose life and choose love, and testify before the world the joy it brings. This is what I ask in prayer for each one of you at this World Youth Day. God bless you all."After the evening meeting, Benedict XVI. into his quarters at Cathedral St. Mary.

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