VATICAN CITY (CNS) — The desire to see and know God is innate in everyone, even nonbelievers, Pope Benedict XVI said.
But it’s especially important that people don’t just seek God when they need him but make room for him throughout their busy lives, he said during his weekly general audience in the Vatican’s Paul VI hall Jan. 16.
At the end of the audience, the pope also greeted U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, a Catholic.
The brief encounter came during the so-called “baciamano,” the moment when the pope offers a select group of prelates and special guests a brief handshake one-by-one rather than a private audience.
The pope spoke at length with the former CIA director, who was smiling and gently holding both of the pope’s hands, and gave him one of the medallions reserved for special guests.
Panetta said later that the pope told him, “Thank you for helping to protect the world.” Panetta said he replied, “Pray for me.”
Panetta, who was stepping down as Pentagon chief, was in Rome as part of a Europe-wide tour to meet with European defense ministers to discuss the conflicts in Afghanistan and Mali.
During his catechesis dedicated to the Year of Faith, the pope said, “The desire to really know God, that is, to see the face of God, exists in everyone, even atheists.”
It can even be an unconscious desire simply to know “who is he, what is he for us?” the pope said.
That yearning finds fulfillment in Christ, he said; as Jesus told his disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.”
The pope said it was important to follow Christ “not just in those moments when we need him,” but to “find room for him in our daily tasks” and throughout one’s life.
“The splendor of the divine countenance is the source of life, it’s what lets one see reality” and its light is a sure guide in life, he said.
At the end of his catechesis, the pope made an appeal for people to join the observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25. The theme for this year’s week is “What does God require of us?”
“I invite everyone to pray, ceaselessly asking God for the great gift of unity among the disciples of the Lord. May the inexhaustible power of the Holy Spirit encourage us in a sincere commitment to the search for unity, so that together we may all profess that Jesus is the Savior of the world,” he said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: Canada slashed funds to Catholic agency despite bureaucratic support
NEXT: Meeting between pope, Vietnam’s Communist Party head boosts relations
Share this story