“Christians must not be tepid. This is the most serious threat to Christianity nowadays: tepidity discredits Christianity.” With these words Benedict XVI opened the first session of the Synod on the New Evangelization attended by 262 bishops from all over the world.
“Fire,” the Pope said, “is light, warmth and transforming power: civilization began when man discovered the creative power of fire, which destroys, but which above all transforms and regenerates man, turning him into light in God.”
The difference between the use of the word confession instead of profession in Church Latin is important to the theologian Pope. The word confession was used during the trials of the martyrs under the Romans, and so contains within itself a reference to martyrdom: the witness given to the enemies of the Christian faith, given in the face of death. Confession is a word denoting the acceptance of pain.
“This,” the Pope emphasized, addressing the Synodal Assembly, “is very important; this makes our faith credible. Faith cannot be dropped like anything else. Everyone can see that confession is not an empty word for us; it is more than death. Those who make their confession prove that truth is worth more than life, that it is a precious pearl.” In this connection the Holy Father remarked that confession is located in the heart and the mouth: in other words, faith does not belong to the heart alone, it is by nature confessed. It avails itself of the courage of the word.
Confessio is therefore the first step of evangelization; it is not an abstraction. If it has deep foundations — the Pope said in the end — “it stirs our neighbors’ hearts, it is something new which manifests itself, strength in the present and the future.”