Saturday, April 21, 2007

The Pope on his way to pray at the tomb of St. Augustine

Today, he stopped at the Italian city of Vigevano, in the only Italian diocese not visited by his predecessor. The last Pope to come by here was Martin V in 1418, so I guess there was much joy.

In the news section on I could find no mention of this, but MSNBC carries a Reuters report on the reaction of local Muslims to the Papal visit, which occurs in the aftermath of an ugly incident where a convert to Christianity from Islam was beaten up (presumably by his former co-religionists)
In a letter given to the city’s bishop for the pope, the Muslim community told him they were committed to “a common path of understanding and reciprocal respect.”

“We too participate in the joy and feasting of those who see in you an important and strong guide for their personal, social and religious lives,” the letter said.
The focus of his talk was on the importance of the family. According to this report, the crowd kept interrupting him with chants and applause, and he soldiered on in his speech. Except at one point.
Solo quando i fedeli lo interrompono con applausi nel passaggio dedicato alla famiglia - "solo lavorando in favore delle famiglie si può rinnovare il tessuto della comunità ecclesiale e della stessa società civile", dice - si ferma e aggiunge: "Vedo che siamo d'accordo".

Only when the faithful interrupted him in the passage dedicated to the family - "only working in favor of families can one renew thefabric of the ecclesial community and civil society itself" - he stops and adds: "I see that we're in agreement."
And, the local children write to Pope Benedict with their questions. (My translation)
Federica writes to "Mister Pope" to ask "peace in the world and an end to wars." Omar wants the same but assures him, "If you can't do that, it's enough that you come here." ... "Dear Papa, sorry for bothering you, but is it demanding to be Pope? Do you trust your cardinals?" asks Emmanuele. "Do you never have moments of discomfort?" Lucas asks him. ... If Simona wants to know if the Pope can see his guardian angel, Alessia wants to know who he confesses to when he sins.

There's room for contemporary problems as well, with Alberto asking for a special benediction for his father, "because he has married twice," and Marcho, who confides that "my parents are separated. Please pray that they come back together." ... And Juline, "How much love does one require to be Pope? Does God love even those people who live together without being married? I think so, do you?" ... Jon however wants to know whether Benedict XVI is happy with him, an Orthodox, who nonetheless attends religious intruction.

..."We want to ask Benedict XVI if it is not possible to renew the church giving her a less opulent image. We understand that all the splendor serves to honor Jesus, giving his imagie the richness that he was not able to have in his life" ... "but the emotions that have stirred up within us after seeing the scenes filmed in Korogocho by Padre Alex Zanotelli, those thousands upon thousands of people "sardinalized" [squashed together like sardines] in their shacks, has made us ashamed of all that we have."
Some thoughtful teens, in that last question. (Though I've never heard that exact explanation for the earthly splendor of the Church!) No word on what the Holy Father's response was.

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