Pope Benedict XVI is calling for an end to violence in Nigeria, where terrorist attacks targeting Christians have been increasing in both strength and frequency – developments he said he is, “follow[ing] with deep concern.” The Holy Father’s appeal came during his weekly General Audience on Wednesday. “While I pray for the victims and for those who suffer,” said Pope Benedict, “I call upon the perpetrators of violence, immediately to stop the shedding of innocent people’s blood.” The Holy Father went on to express the hope that there might be full cooperation among all members of Nigerian society, that they might eschew the path of vengeance, and that all citizens might rather work together to build a peaceful and reconciled society, in which the right freely to profess one’s faith is fully protected. Listen to our report:
These remarks of the Holy Father followed his catechetical reflections on prayer in the writings of St Paul the Apostle. This week, Pope Benedict focused on the great prayer of praise and blessing found at the beginning of the Letter to the Ephesians.
Paul blesses the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for making known to us “the mystery of his will” (Eph 1:9), his eternal plan for our salvation. Before the creation of the world, God “chose us in Christ” (1:4) to be his adopted children and to receive a glorious inheritance. Through the blood of Christ’s cross, He showed the depth of His merciful love, forgave our sins and reconciled us to himself. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, He gave us the seal and pledge of our definitive redemption in the fullness of time.
Pope Benedict said Paul’s prayer invites us to contemplate the unfolding of God’s saving plan in history and to discern the signs of its presence in our own lives and in the life of the Church.
In our own prayer, may we praise the mystery of our election in Christ, and open our hearts and lives ever more fully to the transforming presence of the Blessed Trinity.
Following the catechesis, Pope Benedict had greetings for pilgrims in many languages, including English:
I offer a warm welcome to the Forum of Interreligious Harmony from Indonesia. My greeting also goes to the participants in the Vatican Observatory Summer School. I likewise greet the “Wounded Warriors” group from the United States. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from Scotland, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, the Philippines and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!
Pope Benedict began his series on the Pauline prayer tradition in mid-May, as part of his larger catechetical project on prayer in the broad Christian tradition.