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Friday, May 14, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 14 MAY 2010 (VIS) - This morning the Holy Father left the "Casa Nossa Senhora do Carmo" at the shrine of Fatima and travelled by helicopter to Porto, Portugal's second largest city and the industrial capital of the north, where he landed at 9.30 a.m.

On arrival Benedict XVI was welcomed by Bishop Manuel J. Macario do Nascimento Clemente of Porto and by the local civil and military authorities. He then travelled five kilometres to the city's Gran Plaza de la Avenida dos Aliados greeting the crowds who had gathered there to attend Mass, which began at 10.15 a.m.

In his homily the Pope turned his attention to the figure of St. Matthias, whose feast day falls today. "He was", he said, "a witness to Jesus' public life and to His triumph over death, remaining faithful unto the end, despite the fact that many abandoned Him". He was chosen by the Apostles as one of their number after the death of Judas.

"'One of these men must become with us a witness to His resurrection', said Peter. His Successor now repeats to each of you: My brothers and sisters, you need to become witnesses with me to the resurrection of Jesus. For if you do not become His witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place?", the Holy Father asked.

"Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world", he said. "This is the indispensable mission of every ecclesial community: to receive the Risen Christ from God and to offer Him to the world, so that every situation of weakness and death may be transformed, through the Holy Spirit, into an opportunity for growth and life".

"We impose nothing, yet we propose ceaselessly, as Peter recommends in one of his Letters: 'In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you'. And, in the end, everyone asks this of us, even those who seem not to. ... In fact, the most profound expectations of the world and the great certainties of the Gospel meet in the ineluctable mission which is ours".

"Yet even though this certainty consoles and calms us", explained the Pope, "it does not exempt us from going forth to others. We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have safely in our possession, or think we have. This would mean inevitable death for the Church's presence in the world".

"From its origins, Christian people have clearly recognised the importance of communicating the Good News of Jesus to those who do not yet know Him. In recent years the anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework of humanity has changed; today the Church is called to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, seeking ways to build peaceful coexistence, along with all people of good will. The field of the 'ad gentes' mission appears much broader today, and can no longer to be defined on the basis of geographic considerations alone. Indeed, it is not only non-Christian peoples and distant lands that await us, but also social and cultural milieux and, above all, human hearts which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God".

"Yes!", cried the Holy Father. "We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone, letting ourselves be enlightened by His Word. ... Everything must be defined starting with Christ, as far as the origins and effectiveness of mission is concerned: we always receive our mission from Christ Who told us what He heard from His Father, and we are appointed to mission through the Spirit, in the Church. Like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and His Spirit, we must renew the face of the earth starting from God, always and only God".

At the conclusion of Mass, the Pope went to the municipal palace of Porto. There he signed the visitor's book then emerged onto the balcony to greet the thousands of people gathered in the square and thank them for welcoming him to the "city of the Virgin".

"I would have happily prolonged my stay in your city", he told them, "but it is not possible. So let me take my leave of you, embracing each one of you affectionately in Christ our Hope".

The Holy Father then travelled to the airport of Porto for his return journey to Rome.
PV-PORTUGAL/ VIS 20100514 (780)

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