20-December-2012 -- ZENIT.org News Agency |

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Benedict XVI Writes Article for the Financial Times

Pontiff Responds to Request by Major Newspaper to Comment on the Christmas Season

By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Following a request by the Editorial Office of the Financial Times, Pope Benedict XVI has written an article for the major newspaper. The Financial Times had requested the Holy Father's comments on the occasion of Christmas following the publication of his recent book on the infancy of Jesus Christ.

In a communique by the Holy See Press Office, Pope Benedict accepted the request willingly "despite the unusual nature of the request."

"It is perhaps appropriate to recall the Pope's willingness to respond to other unusual requests in the past, such as the interview given for the BBC, again at Christmas a few months after his visit to the United Kingdom, or the television interview for the program 'A Sua Imagine' (In His Image) produced by [...] RAI, the Italian state broadcasting company, to mark the occasion of Good Friday," the communique stated.

"These too have been opportunities to speak about Jesus Christ and to bring his message to a wide forum at salient moments during the Christian liturgical year."

The article, entitled "A Time for Christians to Engage with the World" begins with the Holy Father recalling the gospel passage of Jesus' response on paying taxes: "Render unto Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God." Pope Benedict wrote that despite the intentions of the question to either expose Him as a threat or as a fraud, Jesus' answer took the argument to a different level.

"Jesus' answer deftly moves the argument to a higher plane, gently cautioning against both the politicization of religion and the deification of temporal power, along with the relentless pursuit of wealth," the Holy Father wrote.

"His audience needed to be reminded that the Messiah was not Caesar, and Caesar was not God. The kingdom that Jesus came to establish was of an altogether higher order. As he told Pontius Pilate: 'My kingship is not of this world.'"

Pope Benedict XVI went on to say that the birth of Christ was meant to usher in a different and "far greater peace" than those awaiting the Messiah could imagine. "Jesus is present to us as King David's heir, but the liberation he brought to his people was not about holding hostile armies at bay; it was about conquering sin and death forever."

'Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven'

The Holy Father emphasized that the Christmas season can serve as an opportunity for all to truly know Jesus Christ not just as the Child in the manger, "but as the one in whom we recognize God made Man."

"It is in the Gospel that Christians find inspiration for their daily lives and their involvement in worldly affairs - be it in the Houses of Parliament or the stock exchange," the Holy Father wrote.

"Christians should not shun the world; they should engage with it. But their involvement in politics and economics should transcend every form of ideology."

Making reference to the aforementioned response of Christ, the 85 year old Pontiff wrote that while there is much cooperation between Christians and others, Christians can only "render to Caesar only what belongs to Caesar, not what belongs to God."

"Christians have at times throughout history been unable to comply with demands made by Caesar. From the emperor cult of ancient Rome to the totalitarian regimes of the past century, Caesar has tried to take the place of God," the Holy Father stated.

"When Christians refuse to bow down before the false gods proposed today, it is not because of an antiquated worldview. Rather, it is because they are free from the constraints of ideology and inspired by such a noble vision of human destiny that they cannot collude with anything that undermines it."

Concluding his article, Pope Benedict XVI stated that the celebration of the birth of Christ reminds all that there is a new king that does not rely on the power of arms but on the power of love. "From the manger, Christ calls us to live as citizens of his heavenly kingdom, a kingdom that all people of goodwill can help to build here on earth," the Pope wrote.

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