Thursday, October 20, 2005

Divine forgiveness is theme of papal audience

Vatican, Oct. 19 ( - Christians should see God not an as implacable sovereign but as a loving father, Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) said at his weekly public audience on October 19.

Speaking to about 40,000 people, as yet another large crowd gathered in St. Peter's square for the Wednesday audience, the Holy Father offered a meditation on Psalm 129, noting that it is "one of the best-known and most loved psalms of the Christian tradition."

This psalm, with its familiar phrase "out of the depths I cry to thee," illustrates the sinner's comprehension of his own iniquity, the Pope said. (Breaking from his prepared text, and looking up at the gray overcast skies above Rome, he commented that the weather seemed to be appropriate for penitential devotions.) But no matter how low a sinner might sink, God is prepared to welcome him back, the Pope continued.

In Psalm 129, the Pope said, the sinner recognizes God's immense mercy, as "the supplication of De Profundis, from the dark abyss of sin, reaches up to God's luminous horizon." It is God's mercy, rather than the fear of punishment, that should rouse awe in the believer, he said.

Pope Benedict concluded his remarks by citing the words of St. Ambrose: "Never lose hope in divine forgiveness, however great your sin."