Mankind Still Needs a Savior, Insists Pontiff

Christmas Day Message Notes "a Heart-rending Cry for Help"

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 25, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- A humanity that has made breakthroughs in communication technologies and biology needs a Savior as much as ever, says Benedict XVI in his Christmas Day message.



"How can we not hear, from the very depths of this humanity, at once joyful and anguished, a heart-rending cry for help?" asked the Pope during an address today before he gave the traditional Christmas blessing "urbi et orbi" (to the city of Rome and the world).

"In this postmodern age, perhaps he [man] needs a Savior all the more, since the society in which he lives has become more complex and the threats to his personal and moral integrity have become more insidious," the Holy Father said from the central loggia of St. Peter's Basilica to the crowds that filled the square below.

The Pontiff offered Christmas greetings in 62 languages, including Turkish, Arabic and Hebrew.

He began his message, broadcast by 102 television stations in 63 countries, with a provocative question.

"But does a 'Savior' still have any value and meaning for the men and women of the third millennium?" he asked. "Is a 'Savior' still needed by a humanity which has reached the moon and Mars and is prepared to conquer the universe; for a humanity which knows no limits in its pursuit of nature's secrets and which has succeeded even in deciphering the marvellous codes of the human genome?

"Is a Saviour needed by a humanity which has invented interactive communication, which navigates in the virtual ocean of the internet and, thanks to the most advanced modern communications technologies, has now made the Earth, our great common home, a global village? This humanity of the 21st century appears as a sure and self-sufficient master of its own destiny, the avid proponent of uncontested triumphs."

Enslaved

"So it would seem, yet this is not the case," the Benedict XVI continued. "People continue to die of hunger and thirst, disease and poverty, in this age of plenty and of unbridled consumerism.

"Some people remain enslaved, exploited and stripped of their dignity; others are victims of racial and religious hatred, hampered by intolerance and discrimination, and by political interference and physical or moral coercion with regard to the free profession of their faith."

The Pope added: "Others see their own bodies and those of their dear ones, particularly their children, maimed by weaponry, by terrorism and by all sorts of violence, at a time when everyone invokes and acclaims progress, solidarity and peace for all."

"And what of those who, bereft of hope, are forced to leave their homes and countries in order to find humane living conditions elsewhere?" the Holy Father asked. "How can we help those who are misled by facile prophets of happiness, those who struggle with relationships and are incapable of accepting responsibility for their present and future, those who are trapped in the tunnel of loneliness and who often end up enslaved to alcohol or drugs?

"What are we to think of those who choose death in the belief that they are celebrating life?"

Benedict XVI observed: "Today our Savior is born to the world, for he knows that even today we need him.

"Despite humanity's many advances, man has always been the same: a freedom poised between good and evil, between life and death. It is there, in the very depths of his being, in what the Bible calls his 'heart,' that man always needs to be 'saved.'"

More insidious

"And, in this postmodern age, perhaps he needs a Savior all the more, since the society in which he lives has become more complex and the threats to his personal and moral integrity have become more insidious," the Pope contended. "Who can defend him, if not the One who loves him to the point of sacrificing on the cross his only-begotten Son as the Savior of the world?

"Christ is also the Savior of men and women today. Who will make this message of hope resound, in a credible way, in every corner of the earth?

"Who will work to ensure the recognition, protection and promotion of the integral good of the human person as the condition for peace, respecting each man and every woman and their proper dignity?"

The Pontiff continued: "Who will help us to realize that with good will, reasonableness and moderation it is possible to avoid aggravating conflicts and instead to find fair solutions?"

"God became man in Jesus Christ," he added. "He brings to all the love of the Father in heaven. He is the Savior of the world! Do not be afraid, open your hearts to him and receive him, so that his Kingdom of love and peace may become the common legacy of each man and woman."