Pope to bishops: be realistic, not too political


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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 25, 2009 ( There is a double danger when speaking of social issues, says Benedict XVI. The first is to focus too much on politics; the second is to be unrealistic.

The Pope said this Saturday at a luncheon held Saturday in the atrium of the Paul VI Hall with those who participated in the in the Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

The three-week assembly, which gathered 33 cardinals, 79 archbishops and 156 bishops, considered the theme "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace."

In addressing the synod participants, the Holy Father noted the two-fold danger of choosing the synodal theme, which "implies a strong political dimension."

The Pontiff noted "that reconciliation, justice and peace are not possible without a profound purification of the heart, without a renewal of thought, a 'metanoia' (conversion), without a newness that must come precisely from the encounter with God."

"But even if this spiritual dimension is profound and fundamental, the political dimension is also very real, because without political realizations, these new things of the Spirit are not commonly realized," he continued. "Thus, the temptation could have been to politicize the theme, to speak less of pastoral work and more about politics, with a competence that is not ours."

Benedict XVI pointed out the second danger: "that of retreating into a purely spiritual world, into an abstract and beautiful but unrealistic world."

"The discourse of a pastor must be realistic," the Pontiff affirmed. "It must deal with reality, but from the perspective of God and his Word."

In the middle

"So this mediation involves, on one hand, being truly connected with reality, attentive to speak of what is, and, on the other hand, to not fall into technically political solutions; that means indicating a concrete but spiritual word," he continued. "This was the great issue of the synod and I think, thanks be to God, we successfully resolved it."

Benedict XVI noted in his address the nomination of Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson, the archbishop of Ghana and relator-general of the synod, as the new president of the Pontifical Council of Justice and Peace.

"Thank you, your eminence, for accepting," the Pope said. "We are glad that you will be with us soon."

"The synod ends and does not end, not only because the work goes forward with post-synodal exhortation," the Pontiff added. "'Synodus' means common journey.

"We continue on the same journey with the Lord, we go forward with the Lord to prepare the way for him, to help him, open the gates of the world so that he might create his kingdom among us."