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Monday, October 22, 2007


VATICAN CITY, OCT 22, 2007 (VIS) - Today the Pope made a pastoral visit to Naples, Italy, celebrating Mass at 10 a.m. in the city's central square of Piazza del Plebisicito where, despite the cold and rain, more than 20,000 people gathered to hear him. He subsequently went on to inaugurate an International Meeting for Peace, organized by the Sant'Egidio Community.

  In his homily, commenting today's Bible reading on the "need to pray always and not to lose heart," the Holy Father told the citizens of Naples that "faced with difficult and complex social situations such as your own, it is necessary to reinforce hope, which is founded on faith and expressed in tireless prayer."

  "Faith," he went on, "assures us that God always listens to our prayers and answers them at the right moment, even if daily experience seems to contradict this certainty.

  "In fact," he added, "in the face of certain criminal acts, or of the many problems of daily life which the newspapers do not even mention, the entreaty of the ancient prophet arises spontaneously in the heart: 'O Lord, how long shall I cry for help and you will not listen? Or cry to you 'Violence!' and you will not save?' There is just one reply to this urgent invocation: God cannot change things without our conversion, and our conversion begins with the 'cry' of the soul imploring forgiveness and salvation."

  Turning to consider the daily reality of life in Naples, the Holy Father mentioned "poverty and the lack of housing, unemployment and underemployment, and the lack of prospects for the future. Then there is the sad phenomenon of violence," he added, which concerns not only "the deplorable number of crimes of the Camorra, but also the fact that violence tends, unfortunately, to become a widespread mentality insinuating itself into the fiber of social life - in both the historic neighborhoods of the city center and in the modern and anonymous outskirts - with the particular risk of attracting young people who grow up in environments in which illegality and the black market ... flourish."

  In this context, Pope Benedict called for an "intensification of efforts towards a serious prevention strategy, aimed at school, work and helping young people to manage their free time. What is needed is an intervention that involves everyone in combating all forms of violence, starting with the formation of consciences and transforming mentalities, attitudes and everyday behavior."

  Benedict XVI concluded by asking God "to make the Christian community grow in true faith and firm hope, capable of effectively contrasting despair and violence.

  "Naples needs appropriate political interventions but, even more so, a profound spiritual renewal. It needs believers who put their full faith in God and, with His help, commit themselves to spreading the values of the Gospel in society. For this we ask the help of Mary and of your patron saints, in particular St. Gennaro."
PV-ITALY/MASS/NAPLES                        VIS 20071022 (500)

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