VATICAN CITY, 29 OCT 2008 (VIS) - To mark the 50th anniversary of the election to the pontifical throne of Blessed John XXIII, Benedict XVI spoke of the "Papa buono" in remarks he made at the end of a Mass celebrated yesterday afternoon in St. Peter's Basilica. The Mass, presided by Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, S.D.B., was attended by around 3,000 pilgrims from the late Pope's home diocese of Bergamo, Italy.
Benedict XVI recalled how at the time John XXIII was elected "the grace of God was preparing a period of commitment and promise for the Church and for society, and it found in the docility to the Holy Spirit which marked the entire life of John XXIII a fertile soil in which to sow harmony, hope, unity and peace, for the good of all humanity.
"Pope John", the Holy Father added, "identified faith in Christ and membership of the Church ... as a guarantee of fruitful Christian witness in the world. And thus, amid the sharp contrasts of his time, the Pope remained a man and pastor of peace, who opened unexpected horizons of fraternity among Christians and of dialogue with everyone, in both East and West".
Pope Benedict highlighted how Vatican Council II, "called, prepared and begun" by John XXIII, was "a truly special gift for the Church. ... We are all committed to accepting that gift in appropriate ways, continuing to reflect upon its teachings and to translate its practical guidelines into everyday life".
Going on, then, to refer to Bergamo's recent diocesan synod which focused on the theme of the parish, the Pope affirmed: "It is in the parish that we learn to live our own faith solidly. This enables us to keep the rich tradition of the past alive and to re-propose its values in a secularised social environment which is often hostile and indifferent".
Benedict XVI also dwelt on the importance John XXIII gave to the family, "where we learn to apply the fundamental Christian precept of love in daily life", he said. "The late Pope trustingly gave the parish - a family of families - the task of nourishing the sentiments of communion and fraternity among the faithful.
"Moulded by the Eucharist", Benedict XVI concluded, quoting the words of his predecessor, "the parish will become a beneficial ferment amidst the widespread consumerism and individualism of our time, reawakening solidarity and opening, in faith, the eye of the heart to recognise the Father, Who is gratuitous love and Who wishes to share his own joy with His children".
AC/JOHN XXIII/... VIS 20081029 (440)