Catholic World News

Opening Synod, Pope urges attack on 'false gods' of materialism, terrorism, hedonism

October 11, 2010

Pope Benedict XVI opened the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East on October 11 with an address in which he said that a vigorous and apostolic Church in that region must combat the “false gods” such as exploitative capitalism, terrorism, drug abuse, and attacks on the institution of marriage.

Christians must fight against these false gods, for the sake of the Gospel and the welfare of mankind, the Pope said. He pointed to the history of the early Church, when "the blood of the martyrs" testified to the truth of Christ's message and exposed the false gods, ultimately weakening those who oppressed them. Today too the world needs that heroic witness, the Pope said.

In speaking of capitalism, the Pope made it clear that he intended to denounce the approach that manipulates economic systems so that “they are no longer things of man but have become an anonymous power that man serves.”

Terrorist ideology, the Pope said, “has nothing to do with God and instead everything to do with false gods that must be exposed.” Drug abuse, he continued, is “like a voracious beast.” And society is endangered by “forms touted by public opinion today for which values like marriage count for nothing anymore, chastity is no longer a virtue and so on."

The Holy Father entrusted the Synod to the protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of God. In doing so he used the title “Theotokos,” which is common in the Eastern churches that will play a dominant role in the October assembly. It is an “audacious title,” the Pope remarked, alluding to the “adventure of God” who became incarnate by a woman.

The Pope made these remarks in an unscripted address to the opening session of the Synod on Monday morning. On Sunday he had presided at the formal opening of the Synod assembly, celebrating the Eucharistic liturgy in St. Peter’s basilica together with several patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic churches.

This unprecedented gathering of the leaders of the sui juris Eastern churches, the Pope observed, “demonstrates the interest of the whole Church for that precious and beloved part of God's people who live in the Holy Land and the whole of the Middle East.” That region deserves special attention, he said in his homily, because it is “the cradle of a universal design of salvation.” The salvation won by Jesus Christ is offered to all, the Pontiff said, “but it passes through a specific historical mediation: the mediation of the people of Israel, which goes on to become that of Jesus Christ and the Church.”

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