Benedict defines three concentric mission circles

Reflecting on his recent trip to Turkey, Pope Benedict has characterised his mission as Pope as forming three concentric circles, beginning with the task of confirming Catholics in the faith, meeting other Christians and addressing non-Christians and the whole of humanity.

Independent Catholic News reports that Pope Benedict was speaking at the Wednesday general audience held this week in two locations, first in the Vatican Basilica in the presence of faithful from various Italian cities, then in the Paul VI Hall with pilgrims from other countries.

In the basilica, the Holy Father addressed a special greeting to faithful from dioceses in the Italian region of Lazio, come to Rome in the company of their bishops who are currently completing their "ad limina" visit.

"I encourage you," he told them, "to intensify your life of faith, bearing in mind the guidelines that emerged recently from the meeting of the Italian Church at Verona."

"I am certain that courageous evangelising activity," Benedict XVI continued, "will bring about the longed-for renewal of Catholic commitment in society, also in Lazio.

"The primary aim of evangelisation is to indicate in Jesus Christ the Saviour of all men and women. Never tire from entrusting yourselves to Him and announcing Him in your family lives and in all environments. This is what people, even today, expect from the Church."

The Holy Father then moved from the Vatican Basilica to the Paul VI Hall where the rest of the pilgrims were awaiting his arrival. His catechesis today was dedicated to his recent apostolic trip to Turkey which took place from 28 November to 1 December.

"The Pope's journeys also contribute to the accomplishment his mission," began Benedict XVI, a mission he described as being divided into "concentric circles."

In the innermost circle, he explained, "Peter's Successor confirms Catholics in the faith, in the intermediate circle he meets other Christians, and in the outermost circle he addresses non-Christians and humanity entire."

Part of this latter circle, the Holy Father went on, was the first day of his journey to Turkey, when he met with the civil authorities.

These meetings were "a very important part of my visit, above all because Turkey is a country with a very big Muslim majority, but regulated by a constitution affirming the laicism of the State.

"Consequently, the country is emblematic of the great challenge facing the world today: on the one hand ... rediscovering the reality of God and the public importance of religious faith and, on the other, guaranteeing that the expression of faith remains free, repudiating all forms of violence and not degenerating into fundamentalism."

The three objectives of the trip were, therefore, interreligious, ecumenical and pastoral. In virtue of the last concentric circle, the "innermost," the Pope confirmed in the faith the small Catholic community, which numbers about 30,000 in a population of more than 70 million.

Zenit adds that the Pope clarified this vision, basing himself on the Second Vatican Council dogmatic constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium when evaluating his recent trip to Turkey.

Pope reflects on visit to Turkey (Independent Catholic News, 7/12/06)
Pope Sees 3 "Concentric Circles" in His Ministry (Zenit, 7/12/06)

Full communion the aim, Patriarch tells Pope (CathNews, 1/12/06)
Vatican says "no" to violence as al-Qaeda denounces Pope's Turkey visit (Cathnews, 30/11/06)
Peaceful Pope promotes brotherhood, backs Turkey for EU (CathNews, 29/11/06)
Benedict to brave protests over Turkey visit (CathNews, 28/11/06)
Istanbul man fires shots in suspected protest over Benedict visit (CathNews, 3/11/06)
Pope Turkey trip looking likely for November (CathNews, 8/9/05)

After the Visit to Turkey, the Travel Diary of His Holiness (www.chiesa, 6/12/06)

8 Dec 2006