VATICAN CITY, 7 MAY 2011 (VIS) – This afternoon, Benedict XVI travelled by plane from Rome’s Ciampino Airport to the Friuli-Venezia Giulia Airport, from which he travelled by car to Aquileia, Italy where he met with its citizens in Piazza Capitolo.
At the beginning of this first step of his pastoral visit – late this afternoon he will travel to Venice – the Pope wanted to pay homage to “this blessed land, sprinkled with the blood and the sacrifice of so many witnesses”, asking the “holy martyrs of Aquileia to still today in the Church awaken valiant and faithful disciples of Christ who are drawn to Him and who are therefore convinced and convincing”.
“Today, I am meeting with you”, he added, “to admire this rich and ancient tradition, but above all to affirm you in the profound faith of your forebears: that at this moment of history you may rediscover, defend, and profess with spiritual zeal this fundamental truth. Humanity can only receive hope and the future from Christ; only from Him can the meaning and the strength of forgiveness, justice, and peace be had”.
After the greeting, the Holy Father entered the basilica where he presided over the assembly in preparation for the II Ecclesial Congress of Aquileia that will take place in 2012. Representatives from the 15 dioceses of the Triveneto ecclesiastical region (corresponding to the Trentino-Alto Adigie, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, and Veneto regions) were present).
“It is appropriate”, he said in the address, “that you wanted this ecclesial congress to take place in the Mother Church of Aquileia, which gave birth to the churches of Northeast Italy, but also the churches of Austria and Slovenia, as well as some churches in Croatia, Bavaria, and even Hungary”.
Benedict XVI told the faithful that they have the mission of “witnessing to the love of God for humanity, above all, through acts of love and life choices made in favor of actual persons, beginning with the most vulnerable, fragile, and defenseless … such as the poor, the elderly, the ill, and the disabled”.
Faced with today’s challenges, such as “the often exaggerated pursuit of economic well-being, in a period of serious economic and financial crisis, widespread materialism, and predominant subjectivism, … you must promote the Christian meaning of life through the explicit proclamation of the Gospel. … From faith lived courageously arises, today as in the past, a fertile culture of love for life, from its conception to its natural end, for the promotion of human dignity, for the exaltation of the importance of the family based on faithful marriage and openness to life, and for a commitment to justice and solidarity”.
The Pope concluded, recommending that “like other churches in Italy, commit yourselves to raising a new generation of men and women capable of taking on direct responsibilities in the various areas of society, especially in the political arena, which today, more than ever, needs people, especially young persons, capable of building a ‘good life’ in service of all”.
At the end of the service, the Holy Father traveled to Venice by helicopter.
PV-ITALY/ VIS 20110509 (500)