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Monday, March 27, 2006


VATICAN CITY, MAR 26, 2006 (VIS) - At midday today, following his morning visit to the Roman parish of God the Merciful Father, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square, among them many who came to Rome in the company of their bishops who were elevated to the rank of cardinal in Friday's consistory.

  Before the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled how the recent consistory, in which he created 15 new cardinals, "was an intense ecclesial experience that enabled us to taste the spiritual wealth of collegiality, finding ourselves together among brothers from different backgrounds, all united in a single love for Christ and His Church."

  The Holy Father continued: "In some way, we relived the situation of the first Christian community, united around Peter and Mary Mother of Jesus to welcome the gift of the Spirit and undertake to spread the Gospel throughout world. Faithfulness to this mission even unto the sacrifice of their lives is a distinctive characteristic of cardinals, as their oath testifies and as symbolized by the red they wear, the color of blood."

  By a "providential coincidence," said the Pope, the day of the consistory, March 24, coincided with "the commemoration of missionaries who, over the past year, have died on the frontiers of evangelization and service to man in various parts of the earth. Thus, the consistory provided an opportunity for us to feel closer than ever to those Christians who suffer persecution because of their faith. Their witness, of which news reaches us every day, and especially the sacrifice of those killed, edifies and encourages us to an ever more sincere and generous evangelical commitment.

  "I am thinking particularly," he added, "of those communities living in countries where religious freedom is lacking or where, despite its affirmation in theory, in practice it suffers many restrictions. To all those communities I send warm encouragement to carry on in the patience and charity of Christ, seed of the Kingdom of God to come." Benedict XVI also expressed "solidarity in the name of the entire Church" and "daily recollection in my prayers" to those who work in the service of the Gospel under such difficult conditions.

  "The Church marches forwards in history and spreads over the earth accompanied by Mary, Queen of the Apostles," the Pope concluded. "We ask her to guide us on our daily journey and to protect with special concern those Christian communities undergoing the greatest difficulty and suffering."
ANG/CONSISTORY:MISSIONARIES/...                    VIS 20060327 (430)

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