19-July-2008 -- Catholic World News Brief |

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Repentant Sinners Are Best Christian Witnesses, Pope Tells Troubled Youths

Sydney, Jul. 18 (CWNews.com) - Meeting on July 18 with a group of young people recovering from drug addiction and other problems, Pope Benedict XVI told them that they could be "ambassadors of hope to others."

The Pope saluted the young people for having shown "courage in choosing to turn back onto the path of life."

The Holy Father began his speech by citing the words of Moses to the people of Israel: "I set before you life or death, blessing or curse." In response, he observed, the Hebrews "had to turn away from other gods and worship the true God."

The same choice constantly faces all men, the Pope said. Ordinarily, he explained, the "false gods" toward which we are tempted involve "the worship of three things: material possessions, possessive love, or power." When these pursuits become disordered forms of idolatry emerge, the Pope said.

The Pope explained his point by noting that some material things-- food, clothing, shelter-- are essential to life, but the obsessive pursuit of material goods becomes a deadly trap. Human love is a great gift, he continued, but a permissive approach to sexuality or a desire to possess the other becomes disordered. So natural goods, pursued to excess, become evils. "Instead of bringing life, they bring death."

"By contrast, worship of the one true God means recognizing in Him the source of all goodness," the Pope said. Worship of the true God protects the faithful from intemperate urges, because we can recognize in God's will the authentic source of our happiness.

Applying this lesson to his audience, the Pope said that the young people listening to him had, at some earlier point in their lives, made "choices that led you down a path which, however attractive it appeared at the time, only led you deeper into misery and abandonment." Now, having suffered the consequences of their decisions, these young people could become effective spokesmen for the message of the Gospel, the Pope said, "because you speak from experience."

The lesson that every Christian must learn, the Pope said, is that God's mercy extends to every sinner. "All through the Gospels," he pointed out, "it was those who had taken wrong turnings who were particularly loved by Jesus, because once they recognized their mistake, they were all the more open to his healing message."

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