Pope Benedict XVI began today with a private Mass at the Sao Bento monastery. Following the Mass, Pope Benedict XVI briefly met with Brazil's President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva at the presidential palace. According to the Guardian Unlimited: "Brazil's president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, met Pope Benedict XVI today amid growing controversy over abortion. Presidential aides told reporters that the issue was not mentioned during their 30-minute meeting in Sao Paulo's Bandeirantes palace. Instead the two men focused on poverty reduction and biofuel production." At least the President voiced his opposition to the legalization of abortion in the country the previous day.
I hope that the Holy Father does talk about abortion and ask the people of the country to condemn it. Let us pray for this! Ending the genocide against the unborn is far more important than discussing "biofuel production".
Following the 30 minute meeting with the President of Brazil, Pope Benedict XVI met representatives of various religious groups from Brazil. I hope that true ecumenism was expressed at the meeting, which involves trying to convert other Christians to the one Truth - Catholicism. Real dialogue with other Christian denominations never involves compromising the truth in order to make a new creed. Rather, real dialogue involves seeking to bring non-Catholics to the truth of Catholicism. Remember: Extra ecclesiam nulla salus (there is no salvation outside of the Church).
Later in the evening, Pope Benedict XVI concluded his second day in Brazil with an appearance at a youth rally at the old soccer Stadium of Pacaembu in Sao Paulo. Below is a copy of his lengthy address. I have bolded various parts to add emphasis. Many photos are available on the blog of AmericanPapist.
Meeting with the youth
My dear young friends!
“If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor…and come, follow me” (Mt 19:21).
1. I was particularly eager to include a meeting with you during this my first journey to Latin America. I have come to inaugurate the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America which, according to my wish, will take place at Aparecida, here in Brazil, at the Shrine of Our Lady. It is she who leads us to the feet of Jesus so that we can learn his teachings about the Kingdom, and it is she who stirs us up to be his missionaries so that the people of this “Continent of Hope” may have full life in him.
In their General Assembly last year, your Bishops here in Brazil reflected on the theme of the evangelization of youth and they placed a document into your hands. They asked you to receive that document and add your own reflections to it in the course of the year. At their most recent Assembly, the Bishops returned to the theme, enriched now by your collaboration, in the hope that the reflections and guidelines proposed therein would serve as a stimulus and a beacon for your journey. The words offered by the Archbishop of São Paulo and the Director of Pastoral Care for Young People, both of whom I thank, confirm the spirit that moves your hearts.
While flying over the land of Brazil yesterday evening, I was already anticipating our encounter here in the Stadium of Pacaembu, anxious to extend to all of you a warm Brazilian embrace and to share with you the sentiments which I carry in the depths of my heart, and which are very appropriately indicated to us in today’s Gospel.
I have always felt a very special joy at these encounters. I remember especially the Twentieth World Youth Day at which I was able to preside two years ago in Germany. Some of you gathered here today were also present! It is an emotional memory for me on account of the abundant fruits of the Lord’s grace poured out upon those who were there.
Among the many fruits which I could point to, there is little doubt that the first was the exemplary sense of fraternity that stood as a clear witness to the Church’s perennial vitality throughout the world.
2. For this reason, my dear friends, I am certain that today the same impressions I received in Germany will be renewed here. In 1991, during his visit to Mato Grosso, the Servant of God Pope John Paul II, of venerable memory, said that “youth are the first protagonists of the third millennium … they are the ones who will be charged with the destiny of this new phase in human history” (16 October 1991). Today, I feel moved to make the same observation regarding all of you.
The Christian life you lead in numerous parishes and small ecclesial communities, in universities, colleges and schools, and most of all, in places of work both in the city and in the countryside, is undoubtedly pleasing to the Lord. But it is necessary to go even further. We can never say “enough”, because the love of God is infinite, and the Lord asks us—or better—requires us to open our hearts wider so that there will be room for even more love, goodness, and understanding for our brothers and sisters, and for the problems which concern not only the human community, but also the effective preservation and protection of the natural environment of which we are all a part. “Our forests have more life”: do not allow this flame of hope which your National Hymn places on your lips to die out. The devastation of the environment in the Amazon Basin and the threats against the human dignity of peoples living within that region call for greater commitment in the different areas of activity than society tends to recognize.
3. Today I would like to reflect on the text we have just heard from Saint Matthew (cf. 19:16-22). It speaks of a young man who ran to see Jesus. His impatience merits special attention. In this young man I see all of you young people of Brazil and Latin America. You have “run” here from various regions of this Continent for this meeting of ours. You want to listen to the words of Jesus himself — spoken through the voice of the Pope.
You have a crucial question — a question that appears in this Gospel — to put to him. It is the same question posed by the young man who ran to see Jesus: What good deed must I do, to have eternal life? I would like to take a deeper look at this question with you. It has to do with life. A life which—in all of you—is exuberant and beautiful. What are you to do with it? How can you live it to the full?
We see at once that in the very formulation of the question, the “here” and “now” are not enough; to put it another way, we cannot limit our life within the confines of space and time, however much we might try to broaden their horizons.
Life transcends them. In other words: we want to live, not die. We have a sense of something telling us that life is eternal and that we must apply ourselves to reach it. In short, it rests in our hands and is dependent, in a certain way, on our own decision.
The question in the Gospel does not regard only the future. It does not regard only a question about what will happen after death. On the contrary, it exists as a task in the present, in the “here” and “now”, which must guarantee authenticity and consequently the future. In short, the young man’s question raises the issue of life’s meaning. It can therefore be formulated in this way: what must I do so that my life has meaning? How must I live so as to reap the full fruits of life? Or again: what must I do so that my life is not wasted?
Jesus alone can give us the answer, because he alone can guarantee us eternal life. He alone, therefore, can show us the meaning of this present life and give it fullness.
4. But before giving his response, Jesus asks about a very important aspect of the young man’s enquiry: why do you ask me about what is good? In this question, we find the key to the answer. This young man perceives that Jesus is good and that he is a teacher — a teacher who does not deceive. We are here because we have the very same conviction: Jesus is good. It may be that we do not know how to explain fully the reason for this perception, but it undoubtedly draws us to him and opens us up to his teaching: he is a good teacher. To recognize the good means to love. And whoever loves—to use a felicitous expression of Saint John—knows God (cf. 1 Jn 4:7). The young man in the Gospel has perceived God in Jesús Christ.
Jesus assures us that God alone is good. To be open to goodness means to receive God. In this way, he invites us to see God in all things and in everything that happens, even where most people see only God’s absence. When we see the beauty of creation and recognize the goodness present there, it is impossible not to believe in God and to experience his saving and reassuring presence. If we came to see all the good that exists in the world—and moreover, experience the good that comes from God himself—we would never cease to approach him, praise him, and thank him. He continually fills us with joy and good things. His joy is our strength.
But we can only know in an imperfect, partial way. To understand what is good, we need help, which the Church offers us on many occasions, especially through catechesis. Jesus himself shows what is good for us by giving us the first element in his catechesis: “If you would enter life, keep the commandments” (Mt 19:17). He begins with the knowledge that the young man has surely already acquired from his family and from the synagogue: he knows the commandments. These lead to life, which means that they guarantee our authenticity. They are the great signs which lead us along the right path.
Whoever keeps the commandments is on the way that leads to God. It is not enough, however, simply to know them. Witness is even more important than knowledge; or rather, it is applied knowledge. The commandments are not imposed upon us from without; they do not diminish our freedom. On the contrary: they are strong internal incentives leading us to act in a certain way. At the heart of them we find both grace and nature, which do not allow us to stay still. We must walk. We are motivated to do something in order fulfil our potential. To find fulfilment through action is, in reality, to become real. To a large extent, from the time of our youth, we are whatever we want to be. We are, so to speak, the work of our own hands.