MESSAGE OF POPE BENEDICT XVI,
To Bishop Mariano De Nicolò of Rimini
With this Message, the Holy Father makes himself spiritually present with deep joy at the 26th Meeting in Rimini on the theme: Freedom is the greatest good that the Heavens have bestowed upon humanity.
At a moment in history and culture when nothing is as misunderstood as the term "freedom", this year's theme is extraordinarily important. It is quite true: above all, God has our freedom at heart. He wants us to be free, he loves us as free people, even to the point that he accepts the risk of allowing us to drift away from him, while he preserves within us the possibility of recognizing him without inner limitations.
But why does God love our freedom? It is because he sees in us the image of his Incarnate Son, who freely complied with the Father's plan, freely accepted a body and freely humbled himself even to death on the Cross, in that sacrificial oblation which every day the Sacrament of the Eucharist actualizes on the altar.
We too will experience true freedom only when, complying with Christ's plan without reserve, we can also share in his freedom.
Genuine freedom is therefore the fruit of a personal encounter with Jesus. In him, God gives and restores to us that freedom we would otherwise have lost for ever because of our first parents' sin.
What happened to the Samaritan woman of whom John speaks in his Gospel (cf. 4: 5-43) happens to each one of us: she felt inwardly reborn and had the perception of returning to being truly free in the encounter with that "man" who told her everything she ever did and revealed to her his true face and destiny.
On the other hand, the rich young man (cf. Mt 19: 16-22) did indeed recognize the possibility of human fulfilment in the Lord but could not muster the courage to follow him radically, for, as the Gospel says, he had too many possessions. He erroneously presumed that true freedom, which he ardently desired, was free from the restrictions and bonds that go with every form of obedience.
Thus, although to all appearances he remained free to act according to his own autonomous choices, he went away sad.
We can certainly attempt to build our lives on doing without Christ, but only if we are prepared to suffer the consequences of being lonely and forlorn for ever.
The Message that the Holy Father sends to all those who are taking part in the meeting is that it is Jesus Christ alone who sets us free!
It is impossible to think of freedom without reflecting on the term "liberation", which is part of your Movement's name. Jesus is our liberation! Liberation from sin, from our false desires, ultimately, from ourselves.
Ubi fides ibi et libertas; these words, spoken on the occasion of the late Mons. Giussani's funeral, His Holiness now confirms, repeating that liberation is the most beautiful existential reverberation to which faith can give rise in our lives.
With these sentiments, the Holy Father sends to the participants his very best wishes for the successful outcome of the meeting, and he imparts his Blessing to everyone as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours.
As I also offer my cordial wishes for every success to the organizers of the initiative, I remain, with brotherly respect,
Yours most devotedly in the Lord,
Cardinal Angelo Sodano