Beware of Spiritual “Pollution,” Pope Says

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

During his homily Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI said that just as the human body is threatened by breathing polluted air, the human soul is polluted by images and ideas that glorify violence or the exploitation of others.

“The metaphor of the ‘impetuous wind’ of Pentecost makes one think of how precious it is to breathe clean air both with the lungs – the physical – as well as with the heart – the spiritual,” the pope said, according to a report appearing on CathNews.

His homily focused on the use of wind or breath and of fire to describe the movement of the Holy Spirit in Scripture. He said the image of wind “makes us think of the air, which distinguishes our planet from the other heavenly bodies and allows us to live on it. What air is for biological life, the spirit is for spiritual life.”

“And just as there exists atmospheric pollution, which poisons the environment and living beings, so there exists a pollution of the heart and of the spirit, which mortifies and poisons spiritual existence,” he said.

While it is right to make protecting the environment a priority, the pope said it is equally important that people begin combating “the many products polluting the mind and heart” today, including “images that make a spectacle of pleasure, violence and contempt for men and women.”

The other image used to describe the Holy Spirit is fire, the energy of the Holy Spirit brought to earth by Christ, he said.

Fire is a metaphor for power, an energy that can be used for good or for evil, the pope said.

“Taking possession of the energies of the cosmos – the ‘fire’ – the human being today seems to affirm himself as a god and to want to transform the world by excluding, putting aside or even denying the creator of the universe,” the pope said.

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