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Sunday, 8 March 2009

Simply an exchange of gifts

On Thursday 27 February, Pope Benedict met with priests of the Rome diocese and engaged in a Pope's Question and Answer session in the Vatican’s Hall of Blessings.

One of the priests asked about work with young people. (In this quotation from the Holy Father's reply, bear in mind that in Italy, youth groups are often called the "Oratorio.")
To be sure, a youth center that merely offers games and something to drink would be absolutely superfluous. The point of an oratory really has to be cultural formation, the formation of a human and Christian personality, which must become a mature personality.
Another priest, the Salesian Fr Riggi, asked about indulgences and other devotions which were not abolished by Vatican II but are seldom spoken about. In this part of his reply, the Holy Father offered some considerations regarding indulgences:
I would say that it’s simply a matter of an exchange of gifts. That is, when there’s something good in the Church, it’s meant for all. With the key of indulgences, we can enter into this communion of goods in the Church. Protestants oppose it, affirming that the only treasure is Christ. But for me, the marvelous thing is that Christ – who is more than sufficient in his infinite love, in his divinity and humanity – wanted to add, to what he did, also our poverty. He doesn’t consider us solely as objects of his mercy, but he makes us subjects of mercy and of love together with him, almost as if – even if not quantitatively, but at least in a mysterious sense – he wanted to add us to the great treasure of the Body of Christ. He wanted to be the head with the body. He wanted the mystery of redemption to be completed with the body. Jesus wanted to have the Church as his body, in which all the richness of what he did is realized. On the basis of this mystery, there is a tesaurus ecclesiae, which the body, like the head, gives away, which we may have and which we may give one to the other.
The whole exchange is worth reading.

Veteran Vaticanologist John Allen's comments are also valuable: Benedict perfects the Q&A format
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