The Pope said this today at the beginning of his one-day pastoral visit to the independent enclave that is located in Central Italy. During Mass at the Olympic Stadium in Serravalle, the Holy Father spoke of the need to "develop this precious deposit" of faith, and of the challenges of hedonism facing the nation's populace.
According to tradition, San Marino is the world's oldest republic, founded by St. Marin, who sought refuge on Mount Titan (one of the seven mountains of present-day San Marino) fleeing the persecutions of Emperor Diocletian. The republic is one of the world's smallest, covering a territory of just over 24 square miles. Its population hovers around 30,000.
"I have come to share with you in the joys and hopes, the efforts and commitments, the ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community," Benedict XVI said in his first formal address of the visit.
The Pope noted that the evangelization of San Marino is attributed to Sts. Marin and Leone, who "brought new perspectives and values into the context of this local reality."
He said that the two evangelizers established "a culture and [...] society centered on the human person -- the image of God, and therefore the bearer of rights that precede all human legislation."
"It was evident to their eyes," the Holy Father continued, "that a project for the building of civilization could not be considered complete until all of the elements constituting the people had become a living Christian community, well structured and well built upon faith in the Trinitarian God."
"Rightly, therefore, can we say that the wealth of this people, your wealth, dear people of San Marino, was and is the faith, and that this faith created a truly unique society," the Pontiff affirmed. "You are rightly proud and grateful for all the Holy Spirit has accomplished down the centuries in your Church.
"But you also know that the best way to appreciate an inheritance is by cultivating and enriching it. In reality, you are called to develop this precious deposit in one of the most decisive moments in history.
"Today, your mission is met by the necessity of confronting profound and rapid cultural, social, economic, and political changes that have determined new trends and modified mentalities, customs and sensibilities."
Benedict XVI noted that San Marino, as many other countries, face the challenges of "hedonistic models that darken the mind and risk annihilating morality altogether."
"The temptation has crept in to hold that a man's wealth is not the faith," he said, "but his personal and social power, his intelligence, his culture and his ability to scientifically, technologically and socially manipulate reality."
"Some have begun to substitute the faith and Christian values with presumed riches," the Pope stated, "that, in the end, reveal their emptiness and their inability to hold up to the great promise of the true, the good, the beautiful and the just which, for centuries, your ancestors identified with the experience of the faith."
"I exhort all of the faithful to be as leaven in the world," the Holy Father urged, "showing yourselves [...] as Christians who are present, resourceful and coherent."
Reflecting on today's solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, the Pontiff noted that the feast days celebrates "the center of our faith," but that the liturgy "draws our attention not so much to the mystery, as to the reality of love that is contained in this first and supreme mystery of our faith."
"The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one," he said, "because [they are] love, and love is the absolute life-giving force; the unity created by love is a greater unity than a merely physical one. "
"In the world there is evil," the Holy Father continued, "there is egoism, there is malice, and God could come to judge this world, to destroy evil, to castigate those who work in darkness. Instead He reveals His love for the world, His love for man, despite his sin, and He sends what is most precious to Him: His only-begotten Son.
"And not only does He send Him, but He makes Him a gift to the world."
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On ZENIT's Web page:
Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32887?l=english