Pope says to follow Christ, show charity, solidarity with suffering

By Cindy Wooden
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Charity and solidarity with the suffering are indispensable signs of truly following Christ, Pope Benedict XVI said.

Citing the teaching of St. Gregory Nazianzen on charity at his Aug. 22 weekly general audience, the pope again appealed for international assistance for the victims of the Aug. 15 earthquake in Peru.

“Once again I want to remember with great affection and spiritual closeness the beloved Peruvian people, so tried in these days, asking for gestures of Christian solidarity,” he said.

The pope returned briefly to the Vatican from Castel Gandolfo for the weekly audience and continued a talk he began Aug. 8 about St. Gregory, the fourth-century doctor of the church.

Pope Benedict told the estimated 8,000 people gathered in the Vatican audience hall, “Gregory reminds us that as human persons, we must be in solidarity with each other. He wrote, ‘We are all one in the Lord, rich and poor, slave and free, healthy and sick, and one alone is the head from which all derives — Jesus Christ.'”

Referring to the obligation to help the sick and the poor, the pope said St. Gregory taught that “‘this is the only salvation for our bodies and souls: charity toward them.’ Gregory emphasized that man must imitate the goodness and love of God, and so he recommends that ‘if one is healthy and rich, he must alleviate the needs of one who is ill and poor.'”

St. Gregory also emphasized the importance and necessity of prayer, the pope said.

“He affirmed that ‘it is necessary to think of God more often than taking a breath’ because prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with our thirst. God thirsts for us to thirst for him,” said the pope.

Pope Benedict said that in prayer “we allow our masks to drop” and present ourselves honestly to God as an offering to be purified and transformed.

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Editors: The Vatican text of the pope’s remarks in English can be found online at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070822_en.html.

The text of his remarks in Spanish can be found online at: http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2007/documents/hf_ben-xvi_aud_20070822_sp.html.

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