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Sunday, May 8, 2011
VATICAN: POPE: 300,000 AT PAPAL MASS NEAR VENICE
RADIO VATICANA RERPORT: Pope Benedict XVI celebrated mass for over 300,000 people outside of Venice on Sunday. During his homily, he called on the city to remember its historic role as a bridge between cultures, and said it was particularly important in light of the phenomenon of immigration and the new geopolitical circumstances.
Christopher Altieri is in Venice with the Pope, and sent this report…
I was several hours early, if you reckon by the schedule. In effect, though, I was running late if you judge by the teeming multitude of humanity in which I was caught when I tried to cross the footbridge that overpasses the main traffic artery and opens onto San Giuliano park – the sprawling verdant stretch of public space where at 10 this morning, Pope Benedict XVI celebrated Mass under a Sun-drenched Venetian sky.
Several articles appearing in local papers over the past couple of days have recounted the polemical tones with which certain elements within both the civil community and the Church have approached this Papal visit: too much time in organizing, too much energy spent in a thousand ways, too many interruptions of daily life, including traffic patterns on sea, air and land; too much money in a time when money is short all around.
The locals this morning were predicting a turnout of about a hundred thousand: authorities estimate that 3 times that number were on hand to greet Pope Benedict as he approached the sanctuary in the popemobile and hear the choir intone the tu es petrus.
In his homily, Pope Benedict returned to what emerged from the very beginning of his public remarks as the central theme of this visit to north-eastern Italy: the integral role of the Church in public life, commerce and culture.
“It is significant,” said Pope Benedict, “that that the place chosen for this liturgy is the Parco San Giuliano: a place where you usually do not celebrate religious rituals, but cultural and musical events,” and he went on to say that on this Sunday, this space is host to the Risen Jesus, truly present in his Word, in the People of God with their pastors, and pre-eminently in the sacrament of his Body and his Blood.”
To be in the world, though not of it: this tension is perennially present in the life of the Church.
It was a tension the Holy Father addressed in his remarks at the Regina Coeli after Sunday Mass in Parco San Giuliano, this time in a prayerful and a Marian key:
“The Lord grant the people of this land,” he prayed, “long blessed with a rich Christian history, to live the Gospel after the model of the early Church, in which, "the multitude of those who came to faith had one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32).
The Pope invoked the Blessed Virgin Mary, asking her to sustain the apostolic labors of priests, to make fruitful the testimony of men and women religious, enliven the daily work of parents in the first transmission of the faith their children, light the way for young people, so that they might walk confidently on the path traced by the faith of their fathers, fill the hearts of the elderly with hope; be near and comfort the sick and suffering, and strengthen the work of the many lay people who are active in the new evangelization in parishes.
Finally, he encouraged everyone to work with the true spirit of communion in the world, which he described as the great vineyard in which the Lord has called us to labour.