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Monday, May 9, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 8 MAY 2011 (VIS) - This afternoon in St. Mark's Basilica in Venice, the Pope presided over an ecclesial assembly marking the closure of his pastoral diocesan visit.

  After adoration of the Holy Sacrament and before the greeting of Cardinal Angleo Scola, the Pope gave an address.

  Besides priests, men and women religious, and faithful laypersons, there were also present the Abbot and monks of the Armenian Community of Venice; Metropolitan-Archbishop Gennadios (Limouris) of the Greek Orthodox in Italy and Malta; Bishop Nestor (Sirotenko) of Korsun of the Russian Orthodox Church in Italy; and representatives of the Lutheran and Anglican communities.

  Commenting on Jesus' words to Zacchaeus: "'Today I must stay at your house', and he came down quickly and received him with joy", that "were the leitmotif of the community meetings" of his pastoral visit that was initiated in the patriarchate in 2005, the Pope assured them that "the authentic realization of human being and its true joy are not found in power, success, or money, but only in God".

  "From this encounter", he continued, "is born a new life for Zacchaeus. He welcomes Jesus with joy, finally discovering the reality that can truly and fully satisfy his life". In this context, the Holy Father asked the Church in Venice to imitate "Zacchaeus'  example", and added: "Overcome, and help today's men and women overcome the obstacles of individualism and relativism. Never let yourselves be dragged down by the shortcomings that can stain Christian communities. ... Do not be afraid to go against the current to encounter Jesus or to aim upward to meet his gaze!".

  Benedict XVI encouraged those present to "go forward confidently on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service of the poor, and with courageous witness to various social realities. Be aware of being bearers of a message that is for each person and for the entire person: a message of faith, hope, and love".  The Pope extended this invitation, firstly to the priests and also to consecrated persons and the laity. To these latter he recalled that "holiness" doesn't mean doing extraordinary things, but following the will of God each day, truly living well one's vocation with the help of prayer, the Word of God, the sacraments, and the daily effort of living coherently with that vocation. "Yes!", he exclaimed. "Faithful laypersons who are fascinated by the ideal of holiness are needed to build a society worthy of human persons, a civilization of love!".

  "I urge you", he continued, "to not hold back your energy in proclaiming the Gospel or in Christian education, supporting catechesis on all levels" and "dedicating special attention to the Christian education of children, adolescents, and youth".

  The Pope concluded by emphasizing that "our spiritual life depends especially on the Holy Eucharist. Without that, faith and hope burn out and charity grows cool. I urge you, therefore, to take ever better care of the quality of your Eucharistic celebrations, especially on Sundays".

  After greeting the thirty representatives of the assembly, the pontiff left by gondola for St. Mark's Square and the Basilica of St. Mary of Health.
PV-ITALY/                                VIS 20110509 (510)

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