World Youth Day in Sydney has seen an unprecedented public proclamation of the Gospel of Christ through the Australian media.
Far from just a call to private faith behind the four walls of a church, this event has like no other, challenged, questioned and confronted secular society with the social claims of the Christian Gospel.
Images of thousands of happy young Christians celebrating against the backdrop of Sydneyâ€™s spectacular harbour have been beamed in to living rooms throughout Australia and overseas.
Not only has the Pope exhorted people to turn to Christ for their own individual salvation, but his messages have questioned modern societyâ€™s greed, lack of concern for the poor and moral breakdown.
After a generation of aggressive secularism, the Popeâ€™s call for faith and reason to be partners once again, was echoed by the Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when he addressed the welcome mass on Tuesday.
â€œSome say faith is the enemy of reason, I say they are wrong,â€ Rudd declared.
â€œThey are great partners, rich in history and scientific progress.â€
Using an environmental metaphor, Benedict XVI told pilgrims yesterday there was a social habitat that was being poisoned. â€œAmong the more prevalent are alcohol and drug abuse, and the exaltation of violence and sexual degradation, often presented through television and the internet as entertainment.â€
The Pope also hit out at our abandonment of absolute truth. â€œRelativism, by indiscriminately giving value to practically everything, has made â€˜experienceâ€™ all-important. Yet, experiences, detached from any consideration of what is good or true, can lead, not to genuine freedom, but to moral or intellectual confusion, to a lowering of standards, to a loss of self-respect, and even to despair.â€
As politicians contemplate the decriminalisation of abortion in Victoria and the on-going Medicare funding of it nationwide, they might reflect on the Popeâ€™s words on this vexed subject yesterday.
â€œHow can it be that the most wondrous and sacred human space â€“ the womb â€“ has become a place of unutterable violence?â€
Click here to read his entire address.
In an article entitled â€œTest of Spiritâ€, veteran political journalist Paul Kelly analyses Benedictâ€™s messages of concern regarding the decline in western civilisation. His critique, as presented by Kelly, of the failure of secularism and the promises of the 1960s is compelling. Click here to read Kellyâ€™s article.
Here is a key quote from the article. For the church and for Christianity â€œthere can be no room for purely private religionâ€. Indeed Benedict calls upon the faithful to resist the new secularism by re-entering the public square and taking Christian values to the marketplace. This neatly summarises ACLâ€™s mission.