Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of April 14, 2008
Spiritual renewal needed to chart new course – pope
By CAROL GLATZ
St. Benedict is still the best teacher to show people "the art of living true humanism."
- Pope Benedict
A crucial source for spiritual renewal can be found in St. Benedict, the patron saint of Europe, who is still the best teacher to show people "the art of living true humanism."
The pope spoke about St. Benedict, the sixth-century father of Western monasticism and "patron saint of my pontificate" in his April 9 general audience.
He referred to St. Pope Gregory the Great's writings about St. Benedict in describing the life and contributions of this Italian saint who lived from 480 to 547.
St. Gregory wrote the book The Dialogues during a time when Europe was experiencing a "tremendous crisis of values" and turmoil, he said. That turmoil was caused by "the fall of the Roman Empire, the invasion of new peoples" and traditional customs sinking into decadence.
The sixth-century pope believed that St. Benedict was "a shining star" whose life, example and rule could light the way out of such dark times in history, the pope said.
St. Benedict's legacy created a new kind of unity based on Christian spirituality and culture which the whole continent shared, and in this way "the reality of what we call Europe was born," the pope said.
Today, Europe again is searching for a new kind of unity and identity after emerging from two tragic world wars and the aftermath of "great ideologies revealed as tragic utopias," the pope said.
While political, economic and juridical agreements and institutions are important, he said, it is also necessary to foster "an ethical and spiritual renewal that taps into the continent's Christian roots; otherwise Europe cannot be rebuilt."
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