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Wednesday, May 12, 2010


VATICAN CITY, 11 MAY 2010 (VIS) - At 5.30 p.m. today the Holy Father travelled by popemobile from the apostolic nunciature in the Portuguese capital of Lisbon to the "Terreiro do Paco", the city's central square also known as "Praca do Comercio". There, before the beginning of the Eucharistic celebration in the presence of 200,000 faithful, the mayor handed him the keys of the city.

  In his homily, the Pope recalled how "generations upon generations of Christians ... have journeyed forth" from Lisbon, and how "in all five continents there are local churches that owe their origin to Portuguese missionary activity.

  "In times past", he added, "your departure in search of other peoples neither impeded nor severed your bonds with what you were and what you believed. On the contrary, with Christian wisdom you succeeded in transplanting experiences and characteristic elements, opening yourselves up to the contribution of others so as to be yourselves, through an apparent weakness which is actually strength. Today, as you play your part in building up the European Community, you offer the contribution of your cultural and religious identity".

  "Christ is not two thousand years distant from us, but is really present among us: He gives us the Truth and He gives us the light which is our life and helps us find the path towards the future", said Benedict XVI. He is "present in His word, present in the assembly of the people of God with its pastors, and pre-eminently present in the Sacrament of His Body and Blood. Jesus is here with us".

  Although the Church "has quarrelsome and even rebellious sons and daughters", said the Holy Father, "it is in the saints that she recognises her most characteristic features, it is in them that she tastes her deepest joy".

  "This local Church has rightly concluded that today's pastoral priority is to make each Christian man and woman a radiant presence of the Gospel perspective in the midst of the world, in the family, in culture, in the economy, in politics. Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic".

  "In order for this not to happen, it is necessary to proclaim anew with vigour and joy the event of the death and resurrection of Christ, the heart of Christianity, the fulcrum and mainstay of our faith, the firm lever of our certainties, the strong wind that sweeps away all fear and indecision, all doubt and human calculation. The resurrection of Christ assures us that no adverse power will ever be able to destroy the Church.

  "Therefore our faith is well-founded, but this faith needs to come alive in each one of us. ... Only Christ can fully satisfy the profound longings of every human heart and give answers to its most pressing questions concerning suffering, injustice and evil, concerning death and the life hereafter".

  Benedict XVI went on to encourage the faithful never to doubt the presence of Christ. "Always seek the Lord Jesus, grow in friendship with Him, receive Him in communion. Learn to listen to His word and also to recognise Him in the poor. Live your lives with joy and enthusiasm, sure of His presence and of His unconditional, generous friendship, faithful even to death on the cross.

  "Bear witness to all of the joy that His strong yet gentle presence evokes, starting with your contemporaries", he added in conclusion. "Tell them that it is beautiful to be a friend of Jesus and that it is well worth following Him. With your enthusiasm, demonstrate that, among all the different ways of life that the world today seems to offer us - apparently all on the same level - the only way in which we find the true meaning of life and hence true and lasting joy, is by following Jesus".

  Before the end of Mass the Pope read out a brief message to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the shrine of Christ the King at Almada, in the Portuguese diocese of Setubal. He took the opportunity "to point out to the younger generation the example of hope in God and fidelity to their vow, that the bishops and faithful Christians of that time left us in this sculpture, a sign of their love and gratitude for the preservation of peace in Portugal".

  Benedict XVI then travelled back to the apostolic nunciature where he had dinner. Hearing the singing of a group of young people from various parishes and ecclesial movements who had gathered outside the building, the Holy Father emerged onto the balcony to greet and bless them.
PV-PORTUGAL/                            VIS 20100512 (800)

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