Prayerful hope can overcome despair, Cardinal Levada says

By Brad Miklosovic
Catholic News Service

CLEVELAND (CNS) — The highest ranking American at the Vatican said that hope, nourished in prayer, can help overcome the despair that people feel in an increasingly violent society.

“Violence is contrary to hope,” Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told more than 200 people who gathered April 24 at Gesu Church for the Margaret F. Grace Lecture sponsored by John Carroll University’s Cardinal Suenens Center.

Dedicating his presentation to the families, survivors and the memories of the students and teachers killed April 16 at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., Cardinal Levada addressed the issue of hope and left the audience with suggestions that could help blunt the impact of the many forms of violence so prevalent in society.

“I am convinced that the dulling of (people’s) hope is from secularization,” Cardinal Levada said. But it does not need to be that way, the cardinal added as he encouraged the audience to find hope through prayer to God.

Of the theological virtues of faith, hope and charity, faith and charity are often the most familiar, but people suffer the most when hope is lost, he said.

Cardinal Levada cited Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est” (“God Is Love”), which states, “Faith, hope and charity go together. Hope is practiced through the virtue of patience, which continues to do good even in the face of apparent failures, and through the virtue of humility which accepts God’s mystery and trusts him even at times of darkness.”

The great hope for every Catholic, according to Cardinal Levada, is the hope of eternal life.

Hope in an eternal life, however, does not draw people from the world, he explained, but provides the strength to make a better world. “Hope of eternal life is the agent to change the world,” he said.

The cardinal also said that the church is a sign of hope in the world.

Echoing Pope Benedict’s theme of a 2005 speech given in Germany, Cardinal Levada emphasized the importance of understanding the connection between reason and faith to start a dialogue among religions as well as between those who believe in God and atheists.

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