Monday, May 25, 2009

Benedict XVI Recalls Chinese Catholics in Prayer

Pope Benedict XVI prays at the Polish military cemetery during ...

Calls for Peace at World War II Polish Cemetery

CASSINO, Italy, MAY 24, 2009 ( Benedict XVI is affirming his support for the Catholics in China and is calling them to renewed fidelity to Christ and communion with the Successor of Peter.

The Pope stated this today in an address before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the crowd gathered in the Miranda Plaza -- renamed the Benedict XVI Plaza -- in Cassino, the town east of the Monte Cassino Abbey.

The Pontiff spent the day visiting the monastery founded by his patron, St. Benedict, the cradle of the Benedictine order.

He spoke about the saint's example in living peace, "the paschal gift par excellence."

The Holy Father continued, "As you know, in my recent trip to the Holy Land, I went as a pilgrim of peace, and today -- in this land marked by the Benedictine charism -- I have the opportunity to emphasize, once again, that peace is in the first place a gift of God, and therefore its power is in prayer."

He affirmed that only by learning, "with the grace of Christ, to combat and defeat the evil within ourselves and in relationships with others, can we become authentic builders of peace and civil progress."

"May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Peace, help all Christians, in their different vocations and situations in life, to be witnesses of that peace that Christ gave us and left us as a demanding mission to realize everywhere," said Benedict XVI.

Unity and peace

He recalled the Blessed Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, celebrated in the liturgy on this date, March 24, and venerated "with great devotion at the shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai"

The Pope added: "We celebrate the Day of Prayer for the Church in China. My thoughts turn to all the people of China.

"In particular I greet the Catholics of China with great affection and I exhort them to renew on this day their communion of faith in Christ and of fidelity to the Successor of Peter.

"May our common prayer obtain an effusion of gifts of the Holy Spirit, so that unity of all Christians, the catholicity and the universality of the Church always will be deeper and more visible."

The Pontiff greeted the Polish people, and spoke about his plan to visit the Polish cemetery of Monte Cassino commemorating the World War II battle later that afternoon.

"In this place," he said, "where so many lost their lives in the battles that were fought during the Second World War, we pray especially for the souls of the fallen, commending them to God's infinite mercy, and we pray for an end to the wars that continue to afflict our world."

"Through the intercession of St. Benedict," the Holy Father affirmed, "we ask God that, in prayer and work, we will discover the new dimensions of freedom, and that peace endures in Europe and in the whole world."

After praying the Regina Caeli, the Pope departed for the abbey of Monte Cassino, stopping en route to visit the "House of Charity" for homeless immigrants.

At the abbey, he met with abbots and abbesses from the Benedictine order around the world, as well as a large number of monks and nuns. He celebrated Vespers with the community, and addressed those present.

The Pontiff then left the monastery, and made a private visit to the Polish military cemetery. He read a prayer for the fallen of all wars and all nations, after which he left by helicopter for Rome.

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