by Sarah Delaney and Carol Glatz
VATICAN CITY (CNS) – In a gesture recalling how the Second Vatican Council sought to enhance the connection between the Church and the world, Pope Benedict XVI handed out copies of the council’s messages for laypeople in various walks of life.
At the end of the Mass in St. Peter’s Square marking the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II and the start of the Year of Faith, the pope gave out texts of the special messages that Pope Paul VI had composed for seven categories of the faithful; Pope Benedict chose contemporary representatives of those groups to receive the messages Oct. 11.
The symbolic gesture was meant not just to recall and commemorate an event from the past, but to “enter more deeply into the spiritual movement, which characterized Vatican II, to make it ours and to develop it according to its true meaning,” the pope said in his homily.
The seven messages, initially presented by Pope Paul on Dec. 8, 1965, address the concerns and responsibilities of: political leaders; scientists and cultural figures; artists; women; workers; the poor, sick and suffering; and young people.
Pope Benedict gave the “Message to Politicians” to some members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, including ambassadors to the Vatican from each continent.
The message said that the only thing the Church asks of politicians is freedom - “the liberty to believe and to preach her faith, the freedom to love her God and serve him, the freedom to live and to bring to men her message of life. Do not fear her.”
It added: “Allow Christ to exercise his purifying action on society. Do not crucify him anew.”
Pope Benedict, who was standing and shook each person’s hand, gave an Italian physicist, a German philosopher and a German Biblicist copies of the “Message to the World of Culture and Science.”
The message speaks of the clear possibility for “a deep understanding between real science and real faith, mutual servants of one another in the one truth. Do not stand in the way of this important meeting. Have confidence in faith, this great friend of intelligence.”
James MacMillan, a Scottish composer; Italian sculptor Arnaldo Pomodoro; and two members of Italy’s film industry accepted the “Message to Artists.”
The message said the world “needs beauty in order not to sink into despair.” Artists are “the guardians of beauty” and should be free from fads and “strange or unbecoming expressions.”