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Monday, September 6, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 5 SEP 2010 (VIS) - This morning Benedict XVI made a pastoral visit to Carpineto Romano, a small town located eighty kilometres north of Rome, to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci, a native of Carpineto who later became Pope Leo XIII.

  The Holy Father celebrated Mass in the town's main square in the presence of several thousand faithful. In his homily he commented on today's Gospel readings, which concern the primacy of God and of Christ. In this context he noted that Leo XIII "was a man of great faith and profound devotion. This remains the basis of everything, for all Christians including the Pope", he said, "without prayer; that is, without the inner union with God, we can do nothing, as Jesus made clear to His disciples during the Last Supper".

  "Absolutely nothing comes before the love of God and of Christ. And Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci absorbed this primary and principal quality here, in his hometown, from his parents and from his parish", said the Pope.

  He then highlighted "another aspect deriving from the primacy of God and Christ, which is to be found in the public activity of all pastors of the Church particularly the Supreme Pontiff, each with the characteristics specific to his own personality. ... All pastors are called to transmit to the People of God not abstract truths but a 'wisdom'; in other words, a message that unites faith and life, truth and tangible reality. Pope Leo XIII, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, was able to do this in one of the most difficult historical periods for the Church, remaining faithful to tradition while, at the same time, measuring himself against the great questions of his day".

  Leo XIII's social Magisterium was made famous "by his 1891 Encyclical 'Rerum novarum', but it was also rich in many other contributions which together make an organic corpus, the first nucleus of Church social doctrine", said Pope Benedict.

  In this context he also mentioned the 1890 Encyclical "Catholicae Ecclesiae" on the subject of slavery. "The new Christian fraternity overcame the separation between slaves and freemen, introducing into history the principle of human promotion which would lead to the abolition of slavery, but also to overcoming barriers that still exist today".

  On the subject of the "human promotion which Christianity brought to the progress of civilisation", the Pope highlighted how "Christians, acting as individual citizens or in associations, represent a beneficial and peaceful force for profound change, favouring the development of potentials inherent to reality itself. This is the form of presence and activity in the world suggested by Church social doctrine which always aims at maturity of conscience as a condition for valid and lasting transformation".

  "During a period of harsh anticlericalism and virulent demonstrations against the Pope, Leo XIII was able to guide and support Catholics along the path of constructive participation, rich in content, firm in its principles yet capable of openness. The immediate wake of the publication of 'Rerum novarum' was followed, in Italy and other countries, by a veritable explosion of initiatives: associations, savings societies for rural workers and artisans, newspapers, etc. ... Thus, a very old but wise and farsighted Pope was able to steer a rejuvenated Church into the twentieth century, with an attitude appropriate to facing new challenges. He was a Pope still politically and physically 'prisoner' of the Vatican but in reality, with his Magisterium, he represented a Church capable of facing, without too many complexes, the great questions of the modern age".

  The Holy Father concluded by expressing "the old but ever new commandment to love one another as Christ lived us, and with this love to be salt and light of the world. Thus will you be faithful to the heritage of your great and venerated fellow citizen, Pope Leo XIII. And thus may it be for the whole the Church!"

  At the end of the Eucharistic celebration, the Pope returned by helicopter to the Apostolic Palace at Castelgandolfo for the Angelus prayer.
PV-CARPINETO ROMANO/                    VIS 20100906 (690)

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