Vatican City, 14 September 2014 (VIS) – At midday today, after celebrating the marriage of twenty couples from the diocese of Rome, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with the faithful present in St. Peter's Square.
Pope Francis commented that today, 14 September, the Church celebrates the festivity of the Exaltation of the Cross. “Any non-Christian might ask, why 'exalt' the Cross? We can answer that we do not exalt just any cross, or all crosses: we exalt Jesus Cross, as it was upon the Cross that he revealed the extent of God's love for humanity”, he explained. “The Father gave his Son to save us, and this involved the death of Jesus, and he died on the Cross. Why? Why was the Cross necessary? Because of the gravity of the evil that had enslaved us. The Cross of Jesus expresses both of these things: all the negative force of evil, and all the gentle omnipotence of God's mercy. The Cross appeared to decree Jesus' demise, but in reality it marked His victory. … And it is precisely for this reason that God 'exalted' Jesus, conferring upon Him a universal kingship”.
“When we turn our gaze to the Cross, where Jesus was nailed”, he continued, “we contemplate the sign of God's infinite love for each one of us, and the root of our salvation. From this Cross there springs the mercy of the Father who embraces the entire world. Through the Cross, the evil one is vanquished and death defeated, we are given life, and hope is restored to us. … The Cross of Jesus is our only true hope! This is why the Chruch exalts the glorious Cross of Jesus, sign of God's immense love, sign of our salvation, and path to the Resurrection. And this is our hope”.
“When we contemplate and celebrate the Holy Cross”, he concluded, “we think with emotion of our many brothers and sisters who are persecuted and killed for their fidelity to Christ. This happens especially where religious freedom is not guaranteed or fully realised. It also occurs, however, in countries and in environments where in principle freedom and human rights are protected, but where in practice believers and Christians in particular often encounter limitations or discrimination. Therefore, today we remember them and pray especially for them”.