Christians Need Christ's Heart, Says Pontiff

Urges Faithful to Open Eyes to Others' Suffering

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 7, 2007 ( Benedict XVI says that becoming Christian means receiving a heart sensitive to the sufferings of others.

The Pope made that comment on Good Friday, following the Way of the Cross in the Colosseum.

The Holy Father said the intention of the Way of the Cross is to open our hearts, "to help us to see with the heart."

He added: "The fathers of the Church considered the greatest sin of the pagan world to be their insensitivity, their hardness of heart, and they loved the prophesy of the prophet Ezekiel: 'I will take away your heart of stone and will give you a heart of flesh.'

"Converting to Christ, becoming Christian, meant receiving a heart of flesh, a heart sensitive to the passion and the suffering of others."

This year's meditations were written by Monsignor Gianfranco Ravasi. According to Vatican Radio, Monsignor Ravasi said his reflections have a contemplative element so that listeners "can see how Christ's bloody footsteps leave telltale traces on the streets of today's world."

Benedict XVI echoed a similar thought, saying that Christ became man to be with us in our sufferings.

"Our God is not a distant God, untouchable in his blessedness," the Pope explained. "Our God has a heart, indeed a heart of flesh. He became flesh precisely to suffer with us and to be with us in our sufferings. He became man to give us a heart of flesh and to awaken in us a love for those who suffer, for those in need.

"Let us pray to the Lord in this hour for all those in the world who are suffering, let us pray to the Lord that he truly give us a heart of flesh, that he make us messengers of his love not only with words but with our entire life."