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Monday, October 16, 2006


VATICAN CITY, OCT 14, 2006 (VIS) - In St. Peter's Square at midday today, Benedict XVI met with 30,000 people from Italy and other countries who have come together to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the foundation, by St. Pio of Pietrelcina, of the hospital, "Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza" (House for Relief of Suffering).

  Among those present were the Capuchin Fathers of the Shrine of St. Mary of Grace and of the new church dedicated to St. Pio, located in San Giovanni Rotondo in southern Italy, as well as directors, doctors and nurses of the hospital, and members of various prayer groups.

  In his address to them, the Pope called on the Capuchin Fathers, "spurred on and supported by the example of Padre Pio and by his intercession," to make every effort "to imitate him and help everyone to live a profound spiritual experience focussed on the contemplation of the Crucified Christ, Who reveals and mediates the merciful love of the heavenly Father.

  "From the heart of Padre Pio, which burned with charity, arose the House for Relief of Suffering," he added. The saint "chose to call it 'house' so that sick people, especially the poor, might feel at ease there, ... and might find 'relief' from their suffering ... thanks to two converging forces: prayer and science. ... Faith in God and scientific research work together towards the same aim, that can best be expressed in Jesus' own words: 'that they may have life, and have it abundantly.' Yes, God is life, and wants man to be healed from all of the evils of the body and of the spirit."

  The Holy Father then went on to recall how the prayer groups came into being following a call to pray for peace made by Pope Pius XII in 1942 during World War II. "Padre Pio," he said, "encouraged his spiritual children to give a prompt response to the appeal of the Vicar of Christ."

  "The prayer groups have spread to parishes, convents and hospitals, and today number more than 3,000 with a presence on all the continents. ... Your prayer, as it says in your Statutes, is 'with the Church, through the Church and in the Church,' to be experienced always in full accordance with the Magisterium, with ready obedience to the Pope and the bishops, under the guidance of a priest appointed by the bishop. The Statues also prescribe another vital commitment of the prayer groups: 'effective and assiduous charity to bring relief to the suffering and the needy as a practical demonstration of charity towards God.' Here again is the combination prayer and charity, God and our fellow man."

  Benedict XVI concluded his remarks by thanking the faithful for "the support you give me with your prayers. May the Lord repay you! At the same time, for the community of the House for Relief of Suffering I ask the special grace of remaining ever faithful to the spirit and project of Padre Pio."
AC/ST. PIO/...                                    VIS 20061016 (510)

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