Pope Benedict XVI says that his mission as the successor of St. Peter is ensuring that the Church never identifies itself with just one nation or culture.
The Pope affirmed this today after he prayed the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the summer papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.
Referring to the Gospel reading for today's Mass, the Holy Father reflected on the mission of Peter, who received from Christ "the keys of the kingdom of heaven."
Like Peter, he said, "we too today desire to proclaim with deep conviction: Yes, Jesus, you are the Christ, the Son of the living God! We do this knowing that Christ is the true 'treasure' for which it is worth sacrificing everything; He is the friend who never abandons us, because He knows the most intimate longings of our heart."
"Jesus is the 'Son of the living God,' the promised Messiah, who has come to earth to offer salvation and to satisfy the thirst for life and love that inhabits every human being," the Pontiff added. "How much humanity would gain by welcoming this proclamation that brings joy and peace with it."
Pope Benedict XVI noted that in this dialogue with Peter, Christ mentions the Church for the first time," whose mission is the actuation of the great design of God to gather the whole of humanity into one family in Christ."
He added: "The mission of Peter, and of his successors, is precisely to serve this unity of the one Church of God made up of pagans and Jews; his indispensable ministry is to make sure that the Church never identifies herself with any particular nation or culture, but that she be the Church of all peoples, to make present among men -- who are marked by countless divisions and contrasts -- the peace of God, the unity of those who have become brothers and sisters in Christ: This is the unique mission of the Pope, the Bishop of Rome, the successor of Peter."
The Holy Father concluded by asking the faithful to pray for him as he shoulders such an "enormous responsibility," so that, "faithful to Christ, together we can announce and bear witness to His presence in our time."