Aug 22, 2012

If Pope Benedict were asked to summarise his teaching in one word, it is quite possible that he would name “friendship” as the heart of his message.

He would then stress that friendship with Jesus Christ is the heart of a person’s healthy human existence.

In April 2005 his first homily as pope concluded with this message of friendship with Jesus Christ:

Are we not perhaps all afraid in some way? If we let Christ enter fully into our lives, if we open ourselves totally to Him, are we not afraid that He might take something away from us?…And once again the Pope said: No! If we let Christ into our lives, we lose nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes life free, beautiful and great. No! Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation….When we give ourselves to Him, we receive a hundredfold in return. Yes, open, open wide the doors to Christ – and you will find true life.

If we focus on friendship with Christ as the heart of our human life, then (and only then) do human friendships become something beautiful, great and liberating.

If we give human friendship the central place in our lives, (that is the place that belongs to God), then our human friendships will falter and fail.

Earlier this week Pope Benedict sent a greeting to the Rimini Meeting for Friendship amongst People. 

In this message he said that despite human’s trying to escape this fundamental relationship with God, the human heart is still in search of the infinite, albeit in the wrong direction.  We begin a frantic search for a sterile and false infinite that leads to dangerous places: to drugs, sexuality lived in a disorderly manner, success at any cost, and even deceptive forms of religiosity.’

You can read the complete text of the pope’s brief message to the Rimini meeting at this link.

This is an extraordinary gathering of people. Last year 800.000 people took part in the gathering; people attracted by beauty and truth, people seeking the infinite.

The theme of this year’s gathering is “By nature, the human person is relation to the infinite”.

Yesterday I spent time in conversation with a Buddhist monk. Later in the day with more than 8000 people (mostly much younger than me), I was in an auditorium to hear a 93 year old Cardinal (Julien Reis) in dialogue with a Buddhist monk.

You can discover more about the Rimini meeting at

or get a taste of the gathering with these clips:

1 Comment

  1. Dear Fr John,
    I am so happy that I found your blog! I don’t know if you remember me, I’m Francesca, the stewardess that accompanied you and your friends for half the week! I hope that we can keep in touch, so that you can tell me how things are going in Christchurch and how you’re learning to pronounce the italian ‘R’!
    A big hug from Italy,


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