VATICAN CITY, 6 SEP 2009 (VIS) - This morning the Pope travelled by helicopter from Castelgandolfo to Viterbo, "the city of Popes", where, at 10.15 a.m., he presided at a Eucharistic concelebration in the city's Valle Faul in the presence of some 10,000 people.
Before reaching Valle Faul, the Holy Father paused in piazza San Lorenzo where he blessed the new bronze doors of the cathedral, the work of the Italian sculptor Roberto Ioppolo. He then visited the Palazzo dei Papi and the Hall of the Conclave, where Pope Gregory X was elected in 1271.
In his homily the Pope commented on the episode from the Gospel of St. Mark in which Jesus heals a deaf man. "In this 'sign'", he said, "we see Jesus' ardent desire to overcome man's solitude and isolation, the result of his egotism, and to give rise to a 'new humanity', a humanity that listens, a humanity of the word, of dialogue, of communication, of communion. A 'good' humanity, ... with no discrimination or exclusion, ... that the world may become 'a place of true brotherhood' for everyone".
Addressing some remarks to the Church in Viterbo, Benedict XVI identified one particular pastoral priority: "education in the faith, as a search, as Christian initiation, as life in Christ. ... This experience involves parishes, families and various associations. Catechists and all other educators are called to show commitment and to make their contribution to schools, ... and in particular to Catholic schools". In this context he invited the faithful to follow the model of "authentic pioneers of education in the faith" such as St. Rosa Venerini (1656-1728), "a true groundbreaker of female schooling in Italy" and St. Lucia Filippini (1672-1732) who, with the help of the Venerable Cardinal Marco Antonio Barbarigo (1640-1706), founded the 'Pious Matrons".
"Alongside education is witness of the faith", the Pope went on. "Faith, St. Paul wrote, becomes effective through love. It is in this perspective that the charitable activity of the Church takes form: her initiatives and her actions are signs of the faith and love of God, Who is Love". In this context the Holy Father noted how in Viterbo "the voluntary sector is flowering and must be boosted, both on the personal level and in associations. In Caritas", he added, "it has its driving force and educator".
Finally the Pope mentioned another aspect of pastoral activity in the diocese of Viterbo: "awareness of the signs of God. ... Listening to His Word and discerning His signs must", he said, "be the concern of all Christians and of each community. And the most immediate of the signs of God is certainly attention to one's neighbour".
"As Vatican Council II says, each Christian 'must stand before the world as a witness to the resurrection and life of the Lord Jesus and a symbol of the living God'. This must apply primarily to the priest whom Christ has chosen entirely for Himself. During this Year for Priests pray more intensely for priests and seminarians ... that they may be faithful to their vocation! Likewise all consecrated persons and all the baptised must be signs of the living God".
Turning then to address lay people, the young and families, the Holy Father said "do not be afraid to live and bear witness to the faith in the various areas of society, in the varied circumstances of human existence".
"The periods of history come and go", he concluded, "social contexts change, but the Christian vocation to live the Gospel in solidarity with the human family does not vary or go out of fashion. This is social commitment, this is the service appropriate to political activity, this is integral human development".
PV-ITALY/MASS/VITERBO VIS 20090907 (630)