The following is from an article in the Los Angeles Times by Tracy Wilkinson and Michael Muskal. The photo is by Carolyn Cole of the Times. Click on the headline to read the full text of the Holy Father's homily.
WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI today presided over the first open-air Mass of his trip to the United States and urged Christian renewal through loyalty to God as a way to confront troubled times.
Speaking in Nationals Park, a sports cathedral more suited to the cheers and jeers of baseball than the notes of sacred music and words, Benedict told 46,000 faithful that an enthusiastic and active Roman Catholic Church is needed to deal with a complex and often troubled society.
"Who can deny that the present moment is a crossroads, not only for the church in America but also for society as a whole," the scholarly Benedict said in his homily.
"It is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more interdependent," he said.
"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."
The pontiff said he was confident that the "profound harmony of faith and reason" will empower Catholics to confront urgent issues that shape the future of American society.
"Let us trust in the Spirit's power to inspire conversion, to heal every wound, to overcome every division and to inspire new life and freedom," the pope said. "How much we need these gifts!"