Faith, not ideology, changes world, Pope tells
Aug. 22 (CWNews.com) - Faith in God, not human
ideologies, will change the face of the world, Pope
Benedict XVI told 800,000 young people at a
Saturday-night vigil during World Youth Day (WYD) in
Meeting with the young people who were encamped on
August 20 at Marienfeld, a park outside Cologe, the Holy
Father delivered a lengthy sermon, calling attention to
the theme of the 20th WYD by comparing the young
peoples' pilgrimages to the journey of the Magi. The
Pope switched languages several times during his homily,
acknowledging the international character of the
congregation by using German, English, French, Spanish,
and Italian in turn.
As the WYD festivities moved toward their conclusion,
the Pope observed that the participants had reached the
objective of their pilgrimages, and were now in the same
situation as the Magi, when they reached Bethlehem:
"Outwardly, their journey was now over. They had reached
their goal. But at this point a new journey began for
them, an inner pilgrimage which changed their whole
Extending the comparison between the three wise men of
St. Matthew's Gospel and the young people now gathered
in Cologne, the Pope said that both had made a long
trip, prompted by their desire to help create a better
world. "This hunger and thirst had spurred them on in
their pilgrimage," he said.
When they met the Christ child, however, the pilgrims
were confronted with something unexpected: a reality
more profound than they had expected. Prepared to meet
an earthly king, they found instead a helpless child.
"They had to change their ideas about power, about God,
and about man-- and in so doing, they also had to change
In Bethlehem, the Pope continued, the Magi found an
incarnate God who rules through selfless love. "He
contrasts the noisy and ostentatious power of this world
with the defenseless power of love, which succumbs to
death on the Cross, and dies ever anew throughout
history; yet it is this same love which constitutes the
new divine intervention that opposes injustice and
ushers in the Kingdom of God."
Pope Benedict emphasized that the self-sacrificing love
of Jesus Christ has infinite power; and those who
imitate Christ faithfully have the power to change the
world. Thus Christian love is a greater force for change
than any human ideology. "The saints," he said, "are the
"Now I want to express this in an even more radical
way," the Pontiff continued. "Only from the saints, only
from God, does true revolution come: the definitive way
to change the world."
Nearing his conclusion, the Pope contrasting the
transformative power of Christian love with the secular
ideologies that dominated the history of the 20th
century. The brutal record of those ideologies, he
pointed out, demonstrate that a revolution inspired only
by human ambitions "does not liberate man, but takes
away his dignity and enslaves him." Christian love, on
the other hand, ennobles everyone it touches.
The young people who heard the Pope's words had arrived
at Marienfeld earlier in the day for the final weekend
of WYD. After the Pope's homily there was a "celebration
of light," in which an icon of the Virgin Mary was
brought to the podium and a candle bearing a flame that
had been enkindled in the Nativity grotto at Bethlehem
was brought to the Pontiff.
For the first time in the history of World Youth Day,
the evening vigil closed with a period of Eucharistic
adoration. Pope Benedict led the crowd in kneeling
silently before the Eucharist, then presided at
Benediction to close the ceremony.
Throughout the vigil, the massive crowd joined in hymns
of the Taize community, in homage to the founder of that
ecumenical group, Brother Roger Schütz, who was killed
by a deranged assailant on August 16.