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Monday, January 09, 2006

Baptism counters the culture of death, Pope says

Vatican, Jan. 09 ( - As he baptized 10 infants on Sunday, January 8, Pope Benedict XVI said that being faithful to Baptismal vows requires the Christian to "say No to a culture largely dominated by death."

Continuing a Vatican tradition that was interrupted by the illness of Pope John Paul II, the Holy Father baptized the 10 infants-- 5 boys and 5 girls, of them Italian-- during a Mass in the Sistine Chapel. The Pope performs these baptisms each year on the feast of the Baptism of the Lord.

In his homily, which he delivered extemporaneously, Pope Benedict remarked that the newly baptized children were now full participants in the community of believers. He remarked that we cannot predict what will occur over the course of their lives, "but we can be sure that as members of the family of God they will never be alone."

The Pope went on to draw a stark contrast between the "culture of life" pursued by Christians and the prevalent "anti-culture" marked by drug abuse, escapism, and "the false happiness that is expressed in lies, fraud, injustice, and contempt for others." The culture of death, he continued, "is expressed in a sexuality which becomes pure enjoyment without responsibility, which makes man a mere object, no longer a person but a commodity."

In opposition to these attitudes, the Pope continued, the baptized Christian affirms his "Yes to Christ-- a Yes to the One who conquered death." The Christian also assents to God's Commandments, which provide a positive vision for "the culture of life that takes concrete and practical form in communion with Christ."

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