Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holy Father Says World "Hungry" For Hope

Addresses Japanese Bishops on the Fulfillment of the Human Heart

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The deception caused by the glamour of modern culture, which so often leads youth to despair and even suicide, can be overcome with the hope Christ gives, Benedict XVI told Japanese bishops.

The Pope spoke today about the hope for which the world longs when he received in audience bishops from Japan, in Rome for their five-yearly visit.

"Indeed the world is hungry for the message of hope that the Gospel brings," the Holy Father said. "Even in countries as highly developed as yours, many are discovering that economic success and advanced technology are not sufficient in themselves to bring fulfillment to the human heart. Anyone who does not know God 'is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life.'

"Remind people that there is more to life than professional success and profit. Through the practice of charity, in the family and in the community, they can be led toward 'that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others.'

"This is the great hope that Christians in Japan can offer their compatriots; it is not foreign to Japanese culture, but rather it reinforces and gives new impetus to all that is good and noble in the heritage of your beloved nation."

Promoting vocations

The Pontiff particularly encouraged the bishops to instill hope in the young.

"Young people especially are at risk of being deceived by the glamour of modern secular culture," he said. "Yet, like all the greater and lesser hopes that appear on first sight to promise so much, this turns out to be a false hope -- and tragically, disillusion not infrequently leads to depression and despair, even to suicide.

"If their youthful energy and enthusiasm can be directed toward the things of God, which alone are sufficient to satisfy their deepest longings, more young people will be inspired to commit their lives to Christ, and some will recognize a call to serve him in the priesthood or the religious life.

"Invite them to consider whether this may be their vocation. Never be afraid to do so. Encourage your priests and religious likewise to be active in promoting vocations, and lead your people in prayer, asking the Lord to 'send out laborers into his harvest.'"

Benedict XVI also applauded the example of peace that Japan has given in the last 60 years.

"You have made the voice of the Church heard on the enduring importance of this witness, all the greater in a world where armed conflicts bring so much suffering to the innocent," he said. "I encourage you to continue to speak on matters of public concern in the life of your nation, and to ensure that your statements are promoted and widely disseminated, so that they may be properly heard at all levels within society.

"In this way, the message of hope that the Gospel brings can truly touch hearts and minds, leading to greater confidence in the future, greater love and respect for life, increasing openness toward the stranger and the sojourner in your midst. 'The one who has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life.'"

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