Benedict XVI says the world is at a crossroads between great promise for the future and the breakdown of the foundations of society, and Christians are called to give witness of their hope in this context.

The Pope affirmed this to a crowd of over 45,000 who gathered in Washington Nationals stadium on 17th April 2008 for the Papal Mass.

This podcast made available from the Vatican Radio podcast.

Click here to download full text of Papal Homily

In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the Apostles (cf. Lk 22:32). I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead (cf. Acts 2:14ff.). I have come to repeat the Apostle’s urgent call to conversion and the forgiveness of sins, and to implore from the Lord a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country. As we have heard throughout this Easter season, the Church was born of the Spirits gift of repentance and faith in the risen Lord. In every age she is impelled by the same Spirit to bring to men and women of every race, language and people (cf. Rev 5:9) the good news of our reconciliation with God in Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI

Who can deny that the present moment is a crossroads, not only for the Church in America but also for society as a whole? It is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more interdependent. Yet at the same time we see clear signs of a disturbing breakdown in the very foundations of society: signs of alienation, anger and polarization on the part of many of our contemporaries; increased violence; a weakening of the moral sense; a coarsening of social relations; and a growing forgetfulness of God.
Pope Benedict XVI

Noting the 200th anniversary being marked by the first U.S. diocese, Baltimore, the Pontiff added, “The Church in America can rightfully praise the accomplishment of past generations in bringing together widely differing immigrant groups within the unity of the Catholic faith and in a common commitment to the spread of the Gospel.”

“The Church in the United States is now called to look to the future,” he said, “firmly grounded in the faith passed on by previous generations, and ready to meet new challenges — challenges no less demanding than those faced by your forebears — with the hope born of God’s love, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.”

Witness

Dear friends, my visit to the United States is meant to be a witness to Christ our Hope . Americans have always been a people of hope: your ancestors came to this country with the expectation of finding new freedom and opportunity, while the vastness of the unexplored wilderness inspired in them the hope of being able to start completely anew, building a new nation on new foundations. To be sure, this promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one thinks of the injustices endured by the native American peoples and by those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves. Yet hope, hope for the future, is very much a part of the American character. And the Christian virtue of hope the hope poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, the hope which supernaturally purifies and corrects our aspirations by focusing them on the Lord and his saving plan that hope has also marked, and continues to mark, the life of the Catholic community in this country.
Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI encouraged the faithful in an “unceasing missionary outreach,” saying that he prays that “this significant anniversary in the life of the Church in the United States, and the presence of the Successor of Peter in your midst, will be an occasion for all Catholics to reaffirm their unity in the apostolic faith, to offer their contemporaries a convincing account of the hope which inspires them and to be renewed in missionary zeal for the extension of God’s Kingdom.”