Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Proper Translation of Pope Benedict's Address to Swiss Bishops

Apparently, the first release of the Holy Father's address to Swiss Bishops this year was inaccurate, so it has been re-translated and re-released by the Holy See.

I often like to post text of ad limina visit speeches because they are often so rich, and truly so applicable to more than those being addressed. In this case, the Holy Father did not have a prepared speech. He speaks of attitudes among Christians about faith, and he talks about worship, about confession, catechesis, and about how bishops function. Here is one quote about confession:

The second subject I would like to talk about concerns the Sacrament of Penance, whose practice in the past 50 years or thereabouts has gradually diminished. Thanks be to God, cloisters, abbeys and shrines exist where people go on pilgrimage, where their hearts are opened and also prepared for confession.

We must truly learn this Sacrament anew. From a purely anthropological viewpoint it is important, on the one hand, to recognize sin and on the other, to practice forgiveness. The widespread absence of an awareness of sin is a disturbing phenomenon of our time.

Thus, the gift of the Sacrament of Penance not only consists in the reception of forgiveness, but also and above all in being aware of our need for forgiveness. With this Sacrament we are purified, we are inwardly transformed and subsequently able to understand others even better and to forgive them.

For the human being, the recognition of sin is elementary—he is ill if he no longer perceives it—, and the liberating experience of being granted forgiveness is equally important for him. The Sacrament of Reconciliation is the crucial place where both these things take place.

In this Sacrament, furthermore, faith becomes something completely personal; it is no longer concealed in collectivity. If man faces up to this challenge and in his need of forgiveness presents himself defenseless, as it were, before God, he then has the moving experience of a quite personal encounter with the love of Jesus Christ.

Pope Benedict's full address to Swiss Bishops from Zenit.org