Forgiveness and reconciliation are the paths to peace

VATICAN CITY (VIS) — On the evening of Sept. 15, while visiting the Maronite Patriarchate at Bkerke, Lebanon, Pope Benedict XVI met with young people of the Middle East, urging them, in the midst of the ongoing strife that afflicts their region of the world, to place their enthusiasm, their creativity and their idealism at the service of their country and the Church.

“I am aware of the difficulties which you face daily on account of instability and lack of security, your difficulties in finding employment and your sense of being alone and on the margins. … But not even unemployment and uncertainty should lead you to taste the bitter sweetness of emigration, which involves an uprooting and a separation for the sake of an uncertain future. You are meant to be protagonists of your country’s future and to take your place in society and in the Church.

“You have a special place in my heart and in the whole Church, because the Church is always young! The Church trusts you ... (she) needs your enthusiasm and your creativity! Youth is the time when we aspire to great ideals, when we study and train for our future work. ... Seek beauty and strive for goodness! ... Open the doors of your minds and hearts to Christ! ... Christ says to you: My peace I give to you! This is the true revolution brought by Christ: that of love.

“The frustrations of the present moment must not lead you to take refuge in parallel worlds like those, for example, of the various narcotics or the bleak world of pornography. As for social networks, they are interesting but they can quite easily lead to addiction and confusion between the real and the virtual. Look for relationships of genuine, uplifting friendship. Find ways to give meaning and depth to your lives; fight superficiality and mindless consumption! ... Seek out good teachers, spiritual masters, who will be able to guide you along the path to maturity, leaving behind all that is illusory, garish and deceptive.”

“Meditate on God’s word! Discover how relevant and real the Gospel can be. Pray! Prayer and the sacraments are the sure and effective means to be a Christian and to live rooted and built up in Christ. ... In Him, all men and women are our brothers and sisters. The universal brotherhood which He inaugurated on the cross lights up in a resplendent and challenging way the revolution of love. ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ This is the legacy of Jesus and the sign of the Christian.”

“Christ asks you, then, to do as He did: to be completely open to others, even if they belong to a different cultural, religious or national group. Making space for them, respecting them, being good to them, making them ever more rich in humanity and firm in the peace of the Lord. ... Experiencing together moments of friendship and joy enables us to resist the onset of division, which must always be rejected! ... Be heralds of the Gospel of life and life’s authentic values. Courageously resist everything opposed to life: abortion, violence, rejection of and contempt for others, injustice and war. In this way you will spread peace all around you. Are not ‘peacemakers’ those whom in the end we admire the most? Is it not a world of peace that, deep down, we want for ourselves and for others? ... Truly discovering God’s forgiveness and mercy always enables us to begin a new life. It is not easy to forgive. But God’s forgiveness grants the power of conversion, and the joy of being able to forgive in turn. Forgiveness and reconciliation are the paths of peace; they open up a future.”