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    Monday, September 11, 2006

    Social myopia


    The deafness of which the Gospel speaks and which, the Pope said, cuts people off from social life, is not simply a physical deafness. “There is also,” he said, “a ‘hardness of hearing’ where God is concerned, and this is something from which we particularly suffer in our own time. Put simply, we are no longer able to hear God - there are too many different frequencies filling our ears.”

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    “What is said about God strikes us as pre-scientific, no longer suited to our age. Along with this hardness of hearing or outright deafness where God is concerned, we naturally lose our ability to speak with him and to him. And so we end up losing a decisive capacity for perception. We risk losing our inner senses.”

    “This weakening of our capacity for perception drastically and dangerously curtails the range of our relationship with reality. The horizon of our life is disturbingly foreshortened,” the Pope worried.

    However, the "Ephphatha" - "Be opened" which Jesus spoke to the deaf and mute man in the Gospel, Jesus speaks to men and women today, Benedict said. “What happened then was unique, but it does not belong to a distant past: Jesus continues to do the same thing anew, even today.” By means of our Baptism, he said, we all have been given the ability to hear God’s voice and speak to Him.

    And this openness to God is something Germans should renew and export to the world. Benedict said that Bishops from around the world have praised the social activities of German Catholics, but find a lack of concern for faith itself. The Pope recounted the words of an African Bishop, who recently told him, “If I come to Germany and present social projects, suddenly every door opens. But if I come with a plan for evangelization, I meet with reservations".

    “Clearly,” the Pontiff lamented, “some people have the idea that social projects should be urgently undertaken, while anything dealing with God or even the Catholic faith is of limited and lesser importance.”

    However, he said, for progress to be made in social issues, evangelization and conversion of hearts must be first. Work done in an area such as the AIDS epidemic can only be fruitful once the conversion of hearts is achieved, he said.

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