Pope urges Opus Dei students to share faith

Benedict XVI told university students attending an Opus Dei-sponsored conference to deepen their friendship with Christ so they can share their faith with their friends.

Catholic News Service reports that some 5,000 university students from 32 countries attended the UNIV 2006 Conference in Rome for a week of study and exchanges on faith and modern life, focusing especially on the mass media.

The pope told the students yesterday it was obvious that the mass media do not always promote "personal relations, sincere dialogue and friendship among people," and they do not always help people cultivate their relationships with God.

The only way to combat the negative influence of the media, he said, is to "keep Jesus as one of your dearest friends, rather your best friend. Then you will see how friendship with him will lead to you opening yourselves to others."

Pope Benedict reminded the students that St Josemaria Escriva de Balaguer, the founder of Opus Dei, used to preach about the "apostolate of friendship," which involved being a true friend to others and sharing faith with them.

"Every Christian is called to be a friend of God and, with his grace, to attract one's friends to him," the pope said.

The pope told the students that through prayer and the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and penance, they would grow in friendship with Jesus and become a "new generation of apostles."

Anthony Njubi Gichiki from the Opus Dei-related Strathmore University in Nairobi, Kenya, spoke on behalf of the students, first of all in conveying their best wishes to the pope for his 79th birthday on 16 April.

At the end of the audience, a young woman presented Pope Benedict with a birthday cake; atop the chocolate icing sat a grand piano made of dark chocolate.

Pope urges students at Opus Dei conference to share their faith (Catholic News Service 10/4/06)

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11 Apr 2006