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Christianity promotes human progress, pope says
By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Because Christianity promotes a culture of values, it aids in human development and progress, Pope Benedict XVI said.
Early Christian monastic women and men began this essential role by proclaiming the Gospel and spreading knowledge about the arts and sciences to the general population, he said March 11 during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
Promoting the Gospel "must also entail promoting a true human culture," he said.
Because the pope's normal schedule was interrupted by Ash Wednesday celebrations and a weeklong Lenten retreat, it was the first general audience in nearly three weeks.
The pope continued his catechesis on early Christian writers of the East and West by focusing his talk on St. Boniface, the eighth-century martyr and missionary of the Germanic peoples.
The Apostle of Germany tirelessly spread the faith, promoted Christian morality and established dioceses and monasteries throughout northern Europe, the pope said.
He said the saint saw these monasteries for men and women religious as being a kind of "lighthouse for the irradiation of faith and a Christian and human culture."
By living holy lives and being well-versed in both sacred and secular disciplines, these religious proclaimed the Gospel and spread a true human culture that is inseparable from the faith and reveals where beauty lies, he said.
St. Boniface encouraged a meeting between Rome's Christian culture and Germanic culture "and knew that to evangelize and humanize culture was part of his episcopal mission," the pope said.
By imbuing the native customs and traditions with Christian values, a new style of life was born in Germany, which was more humane and "resulted in a person's inalienable rights being better respected."
The saint showed how "Christianity -- by fostering the spread of culture -- promotes human progress," the pope said.
It is the task of modern Christians to carry forward "such a precious heritage and let it blossom and benefit future generations," he added.
St. Boniface gives a good example to today's Christians, whose faith has often become "lukewarm and bureaucratic," he said.
He said St. Boniface was so ardently in love with the word of God that he zealously followed its call and his duty to bring it to others even though it meant risking his own life.
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Editor's Note: The text of the pope's audience remarks in English will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2009/documents/hf...
The text of the pope's audience remarks in Spanish will be posted online at: www.vatican.va/holy_father/benedict_xvi/audiences/2009/documents/hf...