A short sermon by the pope on May 22 offers hope for a major change not just for the Catholic Church but for religious and anti-religious thought and behavior worldwide. The Vatican Radio website provides what appears to be an almost word-for-word translation of the pope’s remarks at http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/05/22/pope_at_mass:_culture_of_encounter _is_the_foundation_of_peace/en1-694445.
The pope’s appeal was made in a very modest fashion, namely at an early morning mass for governmental employees of the Vatican City State. Nonetheless, he spoke about what is common to all people everywhere.
The pope noted first that we all are able to do good. We also have in common a moral sense of a duty to do good and avoid evil. The pope said we not only can do good, we must.
The sermon or homily was inspired by the Gospel reading for the day, John 9:30-40, which tells of the disciples trying to stop someone who was driving out devils in Jesus’ name who was not a disciple and Jesus saying they should not try to prevent commendable actions.
The pope noted that it has been common throughout history for people who believe they have the truth to not recognize the good deeds of those who do not share their vision of truth. This blindness to the goodness of others leads to war and even to killing in the name of God, which is an extreme form of blasphemy.
The pope ended by saying: “The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! ‘Father, the atheists?’ Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. ‘But I don’t believe, Father, I am an atheist!’ But do good: we will meet one another there.”
“Doing good” the Pope explained, is not a matter of faith: “It is a duty, it is an identity card that our Father has given to all of us, because He has made us in His image and likeness. And He does good, always.”