Pope says God does not abandon people

God never leaves his creatures alone, not even at the moment of death when each person must complete his or her journey without the company of anyone else, Pope Benedict XVI said yesterday at his weekly general audience in St Peter Square.

CLICK HERECatholic News Service reports that the Holy Father said that God continually stretches out his hand to guide those he loves.

"His closeness is not one of judgment that incites terror, but one of support and liberation," the pope said.

Offering a reflection on Psalm 139 and its praise of God who is "all knowing and ever present," Pope Benedict set aside his prepared text to focus on the extent to which God remains with each individual not only in life, but also at the moment of death.

"God is always with us. Even in the darkest nights of our lives, he does not abandon us. Even at the most difficult times of our lives, he is present," Pope Benedict said. "And even on the last night, in the last solitude where no one can accompany us, the night of death, the Lord does not abandon us."

"Therefore, we Christians can trust that we are never left alone. The goodness of God never abandons us," the pope said.

In his prepared text, Pope Benedict said that although God looks on evil with severity, "his is not a looming and inspectorial presence," but a "saving presence capable of embracing all existence and all history."

At the end of the audience, the pope spent more than an hour shaking hands, blessing children and collecting gifts.

The smaller gifts were wrapped for Christmas, but the pope also was given a large crystal cross, a jewel-encrusted Book of the Gospels from the faithful of the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church, table linens, a wooden Nativity scene and several paintings, especially of Mary.

God never leaves people, even at moment of death, says pope (Catholic News Service 14/12/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Pope Benedict XVI: Audiences

Psalm 138: Meditating on God, transcendent and near (Vatican Information Service 14/12/05)
Papal honour for NFP couple (Catholic Weekly 18/12/05)
Pope, many Europeans express outrage over execution of 'Tookie' Williams (CBC/AP 13/12/05)
Pope Benedict's travel calendar filling up (catholicireland.net 14/12/05)
Papal audience: God's presence brings freedom, not fear (Catholic World News 14/12/05)
Pope Sees Terrorism and Arms Race as Key Threats (Zenit 13/12/05)
Scale of Wartime Killing of Jews in Ukraine Shocks Pope (Zenit 13/12/05)
Message for '06 World Day of Peace (Zenit 13/12/05)
Papal Homily at Vespers of First Sunday of Advent (Zenit 13/12/05)

Note: The production of this story was affected by an extended Internet access outage.

15 Dec 2005