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Monday, May 14, 2012


Vatican City, 13 May 2012 (VIS) - Benedict XVI today made a pastoral visit to Arezzo in the Italian region of Tuscany, where he was greeted on arrival by Mario Monti, prime minister of Italy, and by the local religious and civil authorities. The Holy Father then went on to celebrate Mass at the "Il Prato" park behind the cathedral of Arezzo.

"The first reading presented us with an important moment which expresses the universality of Christ and the Church’s message: St. Peter, in the house of Cornelius, baptised the first pagans. In the Old Testament God had wanted the blessing of the Jewish people not to remain exclusive, but to extend to all nations". Thus "Peter’s gesture becomes a symbol of the Church’s openness to all humanity. Following the great tradition of your Church and your community, be authentic witnesses of God’s love for all", said the Holy Father.

He then mentioned some of the outstanding figures of the local Church, such as San Donato and Blessed Gregory X who is buried in the cathedral. In this context he exhorted the modern-day faithful to be "ferment in society, ... active and coherent. With its centuries-old history, the city of Arezzo brings together significant expressions of culture and values", he said. "This land was the birthplace of great Renaissance personalities, from Petrarch to Vasari, and played an active role in affirming that concept of man which left its mark on the history of Europe, drawing strength from Christian values. ... Within the context of the Church in Italy, which has dedicated this decade to the theme of education, we must ask - especially in this region where the Renaissance was born - what vision of man we are proposing to the new generations. The Word of God we have heard is a powerful invitation to live God’s love towards all; and indeed, among its distinctive values, the culture of this land includes solidarity, attention to the weak and respect for the dignity of all. ... Showing solidarity with the poor, means recognising the plan of God the Creator, Who made us all one family".

Benedict XVI then turned to consider the current economic crisis. "The complexity of the problems makes it difficult to find quick and effective solutions to emerge from the present situation, which particularly affects the weakest elements of society and is of special concern to young people. Since earliest times, attention to others has moved the Church to show concrete signs of solidarity with those in need, sharing resources, promoting simpler lifestyles, going against an ephemeral culture which has disappointed many and determined a profound spiritual crisis. May this diocesan Church, enriched by the shining witness of St. Francis of Assisi, continue to be caring and attentive towards those in need, and may it teach people to go beyond the purely materialistic ideologies that often mark our age and end up clouding our sense of solidarity and charity.

"Bearing witness to the love of God by caring for the weakest is tied to the defence of human life, from beginning to natural end", the Pope added. "In your region, ensuring everyone dignity, health and fundamental rights, is justly considered an indispensable good. The defence of the family, through laws that are just and protect the weakest, is always an important point that keeps the fabric of society strong and offers hope for the future. Just as in the Middle Ages, the statutes of your city became instruments that ensured inalienable rights to many, may they continue that task today, promoting a city with an ever more human face. The Church offers her contribution to this task so that the love of God may always be accompanied love for neighbour".

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