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Pope: Christians cannot go on with business as usual

Christians cannot afford to go on with business as usual, Pope Benedict told crowds at Hyde Park this evening.

Addressing 80,000 people who had come to Hyde Park for evening prayer, Benedict said that Christians needed to “imbue temporal life with the values of the Gospel” and not ignore the “profound crisis of faith which has overtaken our society”. He also said that fidelity to the Gospel came at a cost.

He said: “No one who looks realistically at our world today could think that Christians can afford to go on with business as usual, ignoring the profound crisis of faith which has overtaken our society, or simply trusting that patrimony of values handed down by the Christian centuries will continue to inspire and shape the future of our society.

“We know that in times of crisis and upheaval God has raised up great saint and prophets for the renewal of the Church and Christian society; we trust in providence and we pray for his continued guidance. But each of us, in accordance with his or her state of life, is called to work for the advancement of God’s Kingdom by imbuing temporal life with the values of the Gospel.

“Each of us has a mission, each of us is called to change the world, to work for a culture of life, a culture forged by love and respect for the dignity of each human person. As our Lord tells us in the Gospel we have just heard, our light must shine in the sight of all, so that, on seeing our good works, they may give praise to our heavenly Father.”

The Pope, who was greeted by screams and cheers when he arrived for the Hyde Park prayer vigil, had braved protestors on his way to the event.

On the eve of tomorrow’s beatification in Birmingham, the Holy Father said aspects of Cardinal John Henry Newman’s life were very relevant for Christians today.

He said: “Newman’s life also teaches us that passion for the truth, intellectual honesty and genuine conversion are costly.

“The truth that sets us free cannot be kept to ourselves; it calls for testimony, it begs to be hear, and in the end its convincing power comes from itself and not from the human eloquence or arguments in which it may be couched.”

The Pope drew attention to the closeness of Tyburn to Hyde Park where Catholic martyrs of the Reformation died for the faith.

“In our own time, the price to be paid for fidelity to the Gospel is no longer being hanged drawn and quartered,” he said. “But it often involves being dismissed out of hand, ridiculed or parodied.”

If we accept the truth of Christ, he said, “then there can be no separation between what we believe and the way we live our lives”.

He said: “Our every thought, word and action must be directed to the glory of God and the spread of his Kingdom, Newman understood this, and was the great champion of the prophetic office of the Christian laity. He saw clearly that we do not so much accept the truth in a purely intellectual act as embrace it in a spiritual dynamic that penetrates to the core of our being.”

And he warned against a faith that was merely formal He said: “Truth is passed on not merely by formal teaching, important as that is, but also by the witness of lives lived in integrity, fidelity and holiness; those who live in and by the truth instinctively recognise what is false and precisely as false, inimical to the beauty and goodness which accompany the splendour of truth, veritatis splendor.”

He said: “By letting the light of faith shine in our hearts, and by abiding in that light through our daily union with the Lord in prayer and participation in the life-giving sacraments of the Church, we ourselves become light to those around us; we exercise our ‘prophetic office’; often without even knowing it, we draw people one step closer to the Lord and his truth.

“Without the life of prayer, without the interior transformation which takes place through the grace of the sacraments, we cannot, in Newman’s words, ‘radiate Christ’; we become just another ‘clashing cymbal’ in a world filled with growing noise and confusion, filled with false paths leading only to heartbreak and illusion.”

Finally, he called for the young to ask God to help them find their vocations.

“Ask him for the generosity to say ‘yes!’ he said. “Do not be afraid to give yourself totally to Jesus. He will give you the grace you need to fulfil your vocation.”