Political pilgrim

Externally, he will certainly be remembered as the visit with the continuous rain. None of the 120 papal trips abroad so far in modern times has been as wet and almost without sunshine as Benedict XVI's three days. In Austria – without falling into the water with it. The over-30s in particular demonstrated weatherproofness.000 pilgrims of Mariazell faithfulness, Marian devotion and papal enthusiasm.

Forceful Europe-appeal The Pope's pilgrimage will be remembered for its clear messages and, above all, for the urgent appeal to Europe. And it is not yet clear whether and how the head of the church, through his kind, if firm words, could give support to a local church burdened by many conflicts and scandals.It was to be a pilgrimage and not a political visit, Benedict XVI insisted. from the beginning great value. He came as a pilgrim to the 850th anniversary celebration of the national shrine of Mariazell. But it was also clear that a visit to the "bridge country" of Austria and a visit to Mariazell, which since the fall of the Iron Curtain has once again amed its role of connecting people between East and West, would not be without social relevance.

Protection of life and friendliness to children That was especially true of his speech to diplomats, UN officials and politicians in Vienna. The "House of Europe" must be built on common cultural and moral values, the head of the Church said. It must not deny its Christian roots, he said. Europe must take a leading role in the fight for peace and against poverty. It must show international solidarity, should be active in Darfur as in the Middle East, in the fight against AIDS, but also against unjust exploitation of natural resources and against the arms trade.At the same time, Benedict XVI. Protecting life and being kind to children, and ied a rejection of abortion and active euthanasia. The question of what consequences should be drawn from the Pope's admonition not to soften the qualification of abortion as an injustice, as established in the Austrian "legal order", caused some discussion.Benedict XVI. also addressed other pressing ies: child soldiers, child poverty and child abuse, selfishness and contempt for humanity. At the great mass in St. Stephen's Cathedral in Vienna, he called for the preservation of Sunday as a day of rest and a holiday, as the center of life and a "weekly celebration of creation". The Pope thus supported a colorful alliance of churches, trade unions and political parties. He further welcomed and called for the social commitment of Christians, especially in voluntary work. First actual pastoral trip in Europe This first real pastoral trip in Europe was to a country at the crossroads between East and West, whose society and church face problems similar to those of most Western and now also several Eastern countries on the continent. The message of these three days was directed beyond Vienna and Mariazell to the rest of the continent. Ecumenism and interreligious dialogue were not part of the pilgrimage – there was not enough time, according to the pope.He took advantage of the meeting with the Protestant Superintendent Paul Weiland, who presented him with a large candle at Vespers in Mariazell as a gesture of greeting from the ecumenical assembly in Sibiu, Romania, which was taking place at the same time, to express his heartfelt and lengthy thanks. And earlier, the pope from Germany met with the leadership of the Jewish community in front of the Shoah Monument on Vienna's Judenplatz – saying the Kaddish prayer on the occasion.Benedict XVI. showed himself in Vienna not as the strict guardian of the faith of earlier years, but as an understanding shepherd of the universal church. He encouraged and strengthened the church between Lake Constance and Burgenland in the faith and was welcomed enthusiastically – even if the rain might have kept some visitors away.

New emphasis Benedict XVI. also set new accents. The church is something other than a moral system and a series of demands and laws, he stressed. He interpreted the Ten Commandments not as a collection of prohibitions – but as an obligation: for the family, for life, for truth. New in this form was also the demand for more credibility, which the church must show towards women in conflict situations.In none of his speeches did Benedict XVI go out of his way. The minister referred to the conflicts of the past years: the former Viennese Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer (1995) or the sex affair in the seminary of Sankt Polten (2004). The fact that the Church of Austria has recovered from the scandals is mainly due to the course of the current Viennese Chief Shepherd Cardinal Christoph Schonborn. The latter proved to be a sovereign host – and Benedict XVI. made it clear that he appreciates his Viennese archbishop and will continue to follow his course in the future.

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