It was an emotional day at the Vatican as Pope Benedict XVI, in two of his last public addresses, called again on Christians to continue to defend the lives of innocent unborn and vulnerable people and to uphold the sanctity of natural marriage. In last Wednesday’s general audience, he warned that Christians will face great pressure to give up their commitments.
“Even those who come from a Christian family … must renew daily their decision to be Christian, to give God the first place in the face of the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, in the face of the criticism of many of their contemporaries.”
“It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, to practice mercy in our everyday lives, or to leave space for prayer and inner silence.”
“It is not easy to publicly oppose the decisions that many consider to be obvious, such as abortion in the case of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in the case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to avoid hereditary diseases.”
Towards the end of the Mass, the pope stood quietly while prolonged applause erupted spontaneously from the crowd. One observer present said that although the tone of the Mass was deeply reverent, “as all papal Masses have been under this pope, it was simply impossible to stop people pouring out their affection and deep sorrow at his impending departure from the throne of Peter.”