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Wednesday, September 12, 2007


VATICAN CITY, SEP 12, 2007 (VIS) - Shortly before 10 a.m. today, the Pope arrived in the Vatican by helicopter from his summer residence in Castelgandolfo. He then went to St. Peter's Square for his weekly general audience.

  Addressing the more than 12,000 people present, the Holy Father recalled his recent pastoral visit to Austria to commemorate the 850th anniversary of the shrine of Mariazell, a visit, he said, "that was above all a pilgrimage on the theme of 'looking to Christ,' that is, of going towards Mary who shows us Jesus."

  The Pope spoke of his arrival in Vienna where he had visited the city's Judenplatz and the monument to the Shoah, and of his meeting with the public authorities of the country and the diplomatic corps. "Such moments," he explained, "are precious opportunities in which Peter's Successor has the chance of exhorting the leaders of nations to favor the cause of peace and of true economic and social progress. With particular reference to Europe, I renewed my encouragement to continue the current process of unification on the basis of values inspired by its shared Christian heritage."

  The Pope described Mariazell as "one of the symbols of the meeting between European peoples and Christianity" and highlighted how many philosophers, not always from a Christian standpoint, "have recognized the central role of Christianity in defending the modern conscience from the currents of nihilism and fundamentalism." In the Marian shrine, said the Holy Father, we understand that "to see Jesus with Mary's eyes is to encounter God Love, Who was made man for us and died upon the Cross."

  Turning to consider his meeting with the Austrian clergy, Benedict XVI pointed out how religious and priests always "strive to present everyone with a reflection of the goodness and beauty of God," by choosing the way of poverty, chastity and obedience, understood "in their authentic Christological sense, not individualist but relational and ecclesial."

  During Sunday's concelebrated Mass in Vienna's cathedral of St. Stephen, "I dwelt upon the importance of Sundays" said the Holy Father, "which give meaning to work and rest, renew the significance of creation and redemption, and express the value of freedom and of service to others."

  Benedict XVI also mentioned the joy he had felt when he visited the abbey of Heiligenkreuz and the Pontifical Theological Faculty. There, he recalled, he reiterated the value of prayer "as service of praise and adoration ... over which nothing must take precedence," and of the liturgy "oriented towards God," highlighting also how "theological study must never be separated from spiritual life and prayer."

  Finally, the Pope mentioned his meeting with voluntary groups in Vienna. "Volunteer work must not be seen as 'filling the gaps' left by the State and public institutions," he said, "rather as a complementary presence, vital to ensure that attention remains focused on the least advantaged."

  "In Vienna and Mariazell," he concluded, "the living, faithful and variegated truth of the Catholic Church appeared particularly clearly. ... A Church that implements and is witness to a generous 'yes' to life in all its dimensions, a Church that renews her bi-millennial tradition at the service of a future of peace and of true social progress for the entire human family."
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