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Monday, January 31, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 30 JAN 2011 (VIS) - At midday today, Benedict XVI appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with faithful gathered below in St. Peter's Square, including young people from Catholic Action in the diocese of Rome who traditionally dedicate the month of January to their "Caravan of Peace" initiative. After the Angelus, a boy and girl from Catholic Action joined the Holy Father at his window to release two white doves as a sign of peace.

  Before the Marian prayer the Pope commented on this Sunday's reading from the Gospel, in which St. Matthew recounts Jesus' first pubic address to the multitudes on the hills around Lake Galilee, known as the Sermon on the Mount or the Beatitudes, in which He describes as blessed the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the merciful, the pure in heart and the persecuted.

  "The Beatitudes", said the Pope, are a new programme for life, to free ourselves from the false values of the world and open ourselves to true goodness, now and in the future. When, in fact, God consoles, when He satisfies hunger for justice or dries the tears of the afflicted, this means that, apart from rewarding each person in material terms, He opens the Kingdom of Heaven. The Beatitudes are the transposition of the cross and the resurrection into the lives of the disciples. They reflect the life of the Son of God Who allowed himself to be persecuted and despised, even unto being sentenced to death, so that mankind might receive salvation".

  "For this reason the Church does not fear poverty, humiliation or persecution in a society often attracted by material wellbeing and worldly power", the Holy Father said.

  After praying the Angelus he recalled how this Sunday also marks World Leprosy Day, which was instituted in the 1950s by Raoul Follereau and is recognised by the United Nations. "Leprosy, though in regression, unfortunately still affects many people who live in conditions of dire poverty. To all leprosy sufferers, I give assurances of my prayers, which I extend to the people who assist them and to those who, in various ways, are committed to eradicating Hansen's disease".

  He then addressed some remarks to the people of various Far Eastern States, who are currently celebrating the new lunar year. "To all those great peoples, my heartfelt best wishes for serenity and prosperity", he said.

  Finally the Pope noted that today also marks the International Day of Intercession for Peace in the Holy Land. "I join the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the Custos of the Holy Land", he said, "in inviting everyone to pray to the Lord that hearts and minds may converge on authentic projects of peace".
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