In an upbeat homily in Yankee Stadium, Pope Benedict XVI praised the growth of the Catholic Church in America as he celebrated the 200th anniversary of the archdioceses in New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville.
"From a small flock," he said, "the Church in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of love of God and love of neighbor."
Baltimore is the mother of the Catholic Church in America. In 1808, the four new dioceses were created as the church gradually took root. After recounting the growth of the church with waves of immigration, Benedict added: "Today's celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations."
During his homily, the pope focused on words in the Our Father, "Thy kingdom come." He applied that prayer in a way that seemed to cover many of the issues he addressed during his visit, including the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
Praying "Thy kingdom come," he said, "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 ... It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives."