18-July-2008 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Pope Benedict XVI: Jesus Loves Those Who Make Mistakes

VATICAN CITY, 18 JUL 2008 (VIS) - At 3 p.m. local time today on the square in front of St. Mary's Cathedral in Sydney, Benedict XVI led the first station of the Way of the Cross, which is traditionally celebrated by young people during World Youth Days. At the end of his prayer, the Pope descended into the crypt of the cathedral to follow a televised transmission of the remaining stations of the Cross through the streets of Sydney. The event was also shown on giant screens set up along the route.

At the end of the Way of the Cross, the Pope travelled by car to the University of Notre Dame Australia, which was founded by an Act of the Parliament of Western Australia in 1989 and enrolled its first students in 1992. The institution's various faculties focus on Catholic pastoral concern for ethical and humanistic values.

On his arrival, the Pope was greeted by the chancellor of the university who accompanied him to the Sacred Heart chapel. There the pontiff met young people with histories of drug addiction and other problems, who are following the "Alive" rehabilitation programme.

The name of the rehabilitation programme was the central focus of the Holy Father's remarks. He recalled Moses' words in the Old Testament: "'I set before you life or death, blessing or curse. Choose life, then, so that you and your descendants may live in the love of the Lord your God, ... for in this your life consists'.

"It was clear what they had to do", the Pope explained, "they had to turn away from other gods and worship the true God Who had revealed himself to Moses - and they had to obey His commandments. You might think that in today's world, people are unlikely to start worshipping other gods. But sometimes people worship 'other gods' without realising it. False 'gods' ... are nearly always associated with the worship of three things: material possessions, possessive love, or power".

"Material possessions, in themselves, are good. We would not survive for long without money, clothing and shelter. ... Yet if we are greedy, if we refuse to share what we have with the hungry and the poor, then we make our possessions into a false god. How many voices in our materialist society tell us that happiness is to be found by acquiring as many possessions and luxuries as we can! But this is to make possessions into a false god. Instead of bringing life, they bring death.

"Authentic love is obviously something good", the Pope continued. "When we love, we become most fully ourselves, most fully human. But ... people often think they are being loving when actually they are being possessive or manipulative. People sometimes treat others as objects to satisfy their own needs. ... How easy it is to be deceived by the many voices in our society that advocate a permissive approach to sexuality, without regard for modesty, self-respect or the moral values that bring quality to human relationships!"

"The power God has given us to shape the world around us is obviously something good. Used properly and responsibly, it enables us to transform people's lives. ... Yet how tempting it can be to grasp at power for its own sake, to seek to dominate others or to exploit the natural environment for selfish purposes!"

"The cult of material possessions, the cult of possessive love and the cult of power often lead people to attempt to 'play God': to try to seize total control, with no regard for the wisdom or the commandments that God has made known to us. This is the path that leads towards death. By contrast, worship of the one true God means recognising in Him the source of all goodness, ... that is the way to choose life".

Benedict XVI then referred to the personal life stories of many members of the community, who made "choices that led you down a path which, however attractive it appeared at the time, only led you deeper into misery and abandonment". And he acknowledged their "courage in choosing to turn back onto the path of life".

"Dear friends", he concluded, "I see you as ambassadors of hope to others in similar situations. You can convince them of the need to choose the path of life and shun the path of death, because you speak from experience. All through the Gospels, it was those who had taken wrong turnings who were particularly loved by Jesus, because once they recognised their mistake, they were all the more open to His healing message. ... It was those who were willing to rebuild their lives who were most ready to listen to Jesus and become His disciples. You can follow in their footsteps, you too can grow particularly close to Jesus because you have chosen to turn back towards Him".

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