The Pope said this today, the third anniversary of his election to the pontificate, during a Mass he said in St. Patrick's Cathedral for priests, religious and deacons.
The Holy Father told those present to proclaim and embody a message of hope "in a world where self-centeredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people’s hearts."
He added, "In a society where the Church seems legalistic and 'institutional' to many people, our most urgent challenge is to communicate the joy born of faith and the experience of God’s love."
Some 3,000 people attended the Mass, but the streets surrounding the Manhattan cathedral were packed since before dawn, made up mostly of religious and young people singing "Bene-det-to."
A five-block perimeter was marked off around the church, and to get anywhere near St. Patrick's, one needed tickets and identification.
Jacqueline Lofaro, a public relations associate for the office communications for Cardinal Egan office in New York, said: "I've never seen security in New York City as tight as this."
As for the all the security hassles, Lofaro says New Yorkers are "used to it because of all the celebrities coming to town, but I think the Pope is someone very, very special. New York has turned into a very loving city for the past few days. I've never handled so much media who have been so happy."
Among New Yorkers no was grumbling, she said. "Most of the people are just excited -- there is a sense of tremendous excitement."
For the thousands who gathered on New York's streets on the beautiful Saturday morning, the Mass was broadcast on large screens.
Lofaro added that Cardinal Edward Egan, the archbishop of New York, who is hosting Benedict XVI this weekend, is also excited. "He has known the Pope for years and years. And the Pope is the religious father for the clergy. Of course, he is for all of us, but I think the clergy in particular have a special reverence for the Pope as their religious father."
Mayor Michael Bloomberg was on hand to greet the Holy Father at the cathedral.
Just prior to Benedict XVI's arrival, Bloomberg addressed those present, thanking the organizers and those who had been involved in helping with the event.
He said: "You picked a great weekend. New York is buzzing and it is Passover."
The Jewish mayor then added: "It says everything about New York and America that a small-town, middle-class kid named Bloomberg could be asked to introduce the Pope. Thank you very much. This is a historic day for New York."
Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit St. Joseph's Seminary Saturday afternoon. There he will briefly greet a group of disabled children before moving on to the sports field behind the seminary building for a gathering with young people and seminarians.
Following this, the Pope will return to his residence in New York where he will dine with staff of the Holy See permanent mission to the United Nations.
On Sunday the Holy Father will make a scheduled visit to Ground Zero, and in the afternoon he will celebrate the closing Mass of his visit, at New York's Yankee Stadium.
The Pontiff will depart from John Fitzgerald Kennedy international airport in the evening.
[Karna Swanson contributed to this report]