According to church organizers, 120,000 people heard the pope’s homily on September 27, which Benedict delivered in an open field near the Brno airport. Like his other addresses on the challenges of modernity and secularization, Benedict spoke on behalf of the broad Christian tradition, indicating that the dire situation demands a unified Christian apologetic. He referenced Isaiah 61:1-3a, when the prophet explains his Spirit-anointed mission to proclaim liberty to captives and console the afflicted and poor. Jesus, of course, fulfilled this promise (Luke 4:16-21). Indeed, Jesus accomplished this mission counter-intuitively, through his death and resurrection. Those who believe in him are freed from slavery to selfishness and evil, sin and death.
This message never changes, but Benedict admitted that the cultural circumstances in Europe have altered dramatically. Faith has been limited to the private, supernatural realm. Scientific, economic, and social progress claim to fill the void. Yet Benedict reminded the audience that history holds little promise that a society built on anything but God can long sustain human freedom and promote the values of goodness, justice, and fraternity.
“Technical developments and the improvement of social structures are important and certainly necessary, but they are not enough to guarantee the moral welfare of society,” Benedict said. “Man needs to be liberated from material oppressions, but more profoundly, he must be saved from the evils that afflict the spirit. And who can save him if not God, who is Love and has revealed his face as almighty and merciful Father in Jesus Christ? Our firm hope is therefore Christ: in him, God has loved us to the utmost and has given us life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10), the life that every person, even if unknowingly, longs to possess.”
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