Sermon at St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls

Source: FSSPX News


In his sermon preached in the basilica of St. Paul-Outside-the-Walls in Rome on April 25, Benedict XVI emphasized the urgency of proclaiming the Gospel to the world. The pope, happy to be at the tomb of the Apostle of the Gentiles, also said that it was justifiable to expect a new blossoming in the Church.

 Benedict XVI read out in Latin passages from Saint Paul’s Epistle to the Romans. “Before he arrived in Rome, the Apostle wrote to the Christians of this city, capital of the Empire, his most important letter doctrinally speaking,” he said during his sermon, which was given in Italian from the Pontifical Throne, in the apse of the basilica.

 Benedict XVI first of all expressed his joy at being able to “come and pray at the tomb of the Apostle Paul,” describing his pilgrimage there as “very much desired” This is “a gesture of faith, which I make in my own name, but also (…) in the name of the diocese of Rome and (…) of the Universal Church.” “A pilgrimage to the very roots of the Mission, of the Mission which the risen Christ entrusted to Peter, to the Apostles and also in a special way to Paul, spurring him on to proclaim the Gospel to the Gentiles, until he reached this city,” where, having preached the Kingdom of God for many years, he was martyred.

 “As the successor of Peter, I am here to revive in faith this grace of apostleship, because God, according to an expression of the Apostle of the Gentiles, has entrusted to me the care of all the Churches,” the pope explained to the cardinals who surrounded him, to the members of delegations from other Christian confessions, to priests and seminarians of the diocese of Rome, as well as many faithful. Referring to the example of John Paul II, “missionary pope (…) truly inimitable,” Benedict XVI expressed a wish, amid warm applause from the congregation, “that the Lord may infuse such a love also in me.” “The Church is by her very nature missionary, her prime task is evangelization,” he stressed.

 According to the pope, “at the beginning of the third millennium, the Church is aware, with a renewed force, that the missionary mandate of Christ is more relevant than ever.” Benedict XVI also affirmed that the twentieth century, as in the early days of the Church, had been a time of martyrdom, a fact which John Paul II had shown by the updating of the martyrology and the canonization and beatification of many contemporary martyrs. “If then, the blood of martyrs is the seed of new Christians, we can expect a new flowering in the Church.”

 The pope received lengthy applause and was encouraged by many cries of “Viva il papa”and “Benedetto” chanted by the congregation. He then intoned prayerfully in Latin the Pater noster, sung by the congregation, notably by the Benedictines of the basilica.