The Pope delivered this message Monday when opening the ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome. The theme of the congress which continues through Thursday is "The Joy of Faith and the Education of New Generations."
The congress aims to elaborate the diocese's pastoral program for the coming year.
Monday's meeting was held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran, the cathedral of Rome. The Holy Father addressed the priests, religious and laity participating in the congress, seated behind a wooden table as he did during his years as a theology professor.
"He who knows he is loved, feels in turn called to love," the Pontiff said explaining the meaning of the transmission of faith to new generations. "Precisely in this way the Lord, who first loved us, asks us to put love of him and of the people he has loved at the center of our lives."
"Adolescents and youths especially, who experience strongly within themselves the call to love, are in need of being liberated from the widespread prejudice, according to which, Christianity, with its commandments and prohibitions, puts too many obstacles to the joy of love," Benedict XVI said.
This explains why young people see in Christian life something that "prevents them from experiencing that happiness that man and woman find in their reciprocal love," the Holy Father explained.
"Faith and Christian ethics do not wish to suffocate love but to make it healthy, strong and really free," observed the Pope. "This is precisely the meaning of the Ten Commandments, which are not a series of 'noes' but a big 'yes' to love and life.
"Human love must be purified, it must mature and go beyond its own limits in order to become truly human, to be the origin of true and lasting joy, to respond to that demand for eternity it carries within itself and which it cannot relinquish without betraying itself. This is the fundamental reason for which love between man and woman is fully realized only in marriage."
In all educational endeavors, "in the formation of man and of the Christian, we must not leave to one side the great question of love out of fear or human respect," warned the Pope. "If we should do so, we would present a disincarnated Christianity, which cannot seriously interest the youth who is opening to life.
"But we must also introduce the integral dimension of Christian love, in which love for God and love for man are indissolubly united and where love for one's neighbor is an extremely concrete commitment."
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for the diocese, was seated at Benedict XVI's right during the address. He thanked the Pontiff for his ministry, which he said reinforces "our confidence to be able to respond to the call and to the will of the Lord."