"Truth Is Not An Imposition"

Pope Benedict XVI is now winging his way back to Rome. With the immediate excitement over, we are left to ponder the messages he brought. Smarter people than me will dissect every word he said. My guess is that his message at the Youth Rally in New York will go down as the highlight of his trip.

Early in the speech the German Pope made an unusual reference to his own life:

My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.

From there he went on to describe the dangers of darkness, the false promises of "freedom," and the hope that is Truth.

Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth, including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept in the private sphere. And in truth’s place – or better said its absence – an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience. This we call relativism.

But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends, truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).

Benedict draws a distinction - too often forgotten in our culture - between freedom and license. Authentic freedom is not simply an escape from rules; it is the ability to move toward something positive, something good, something better than what we leave behind.

It's encouraging that thousands of young people listened to this message with rapt attention. Yet millions more did not. They need to hear the truth, because it is the only thing that will set them free. Here is the full transcript. I highly suggest you read it all.

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