Pope leads Easter vigil, calls for "true enlightenment"
By Peter Mayer Apr 7, 2012, 21:58 GMT
Vatican City - Pope Benedict XVI warned late Saturday in his homily at the Vatican's Easter vigil that scientific achievements and technical feats cannot replace the 'true enlightenment' of faith in God.
'Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment?' Benedict asked.
The pontiff spoke inside the packed St Peter's Basilica.
Having spoken often since his election in 2005 of the need to respect the environment, Benedict said that 'incredible technical feats ... are not only progress, but also dangers that put us and the world at risk.'
'The darkness that poses a real threat to mankind, after all, is the fact that he can see and investigate tangible material things, but cannot see where the world is going or whence it comes, where our own life is going, what is good and what is evil,' Benedict said.
The ceremony began with Benedict entering a darkened St Peter's carrying a tall candle.
The pontiff, who turns 85 this month, used a mobile platform - a device to aid movement that he has used since late last year - and began making his way up the basilica's central nave.
Taking their cue from the pontiff, the faithful in attendance lit their own flickering candles inside the immense basilica. For Catholics, illuminating the darkness symbolizes the salvation brought by Jesus' resurrection.
Outside, on a cool spring night in Rome, tens of thousands more watched the ceremony on several giant screens erected on St Peter's Square.
After delivering the homily, Benedict administered Catholic sacraments of baptism, Holy Communion and confirmation to eight converts - nationals of Italy, Albania, Slovakia, Germany, Turkmenistan, Cameroon and the United States.
On Good Friday, Benedict presided over the Via Crucis, or Way of the Cross, procession at Rome's Colosseum to commemorate the last hours leading to Jesus' crucifixion.
In his address, the pontiff spoke of the 'trials and tribulations' faced by many families, including those caused by economic crisis.
In specially penned reflections read out during the ceremony, the faithful were invited to meditate on how Jesus suffered and died under the weight of human sins, including those committed within the context of family life. These included marital infidelity, divorce and abortions.
Benedict has often reiterated Catholic teachings on the traditional family, based on marriage between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation. He has often spoken out against divorce, same-sex unions and abortion.
On Sunday, the pope is due to deliver his Urbi et Orbi message and blessing 'to the city and the world.'
Easter celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ and is regarded by Christians as their most important religious feast.
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