In what were in effect his closing words to the Catholics of the United States, Pope Benedict XVI called on them not only to pray "Thy Kingdom come" but to do their share to make the coming of God's Kingdom take place. The Holy Father's homily at the Mass in Yankee Stadium were a pastoral but pointed reminder that American Catholicism has much work to do.
As he has done repeatedly during his trip, the Pope recalled that this is the 200th anniversary of the designation of Baltimore as an archdiocese--the first in the U.S.--and the creation of the dioceses of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Bardstown, Ky. (now, Louisville). He warmly praised the generations of American Catholics who have achieved so much in the 200 years since those events. But he made it clear that the Kingdom hasn't come yet.
Here are the key passages of the papal homily:
"Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom...means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. I means facing the challenges of prsent and future with confidence in Christ's victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal.
"It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, 'there is no human activity--even in secular affairs--which can be withdrawn from God's dominion' (Lumen Gentium, 36)....
"And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As 'a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation', follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God's Kingdom in this land!
"Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day, too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!"
-- Russell Shaw