A welcoming mother of peoples who has made herself a disciple of the truth: this is Rome in the opinion of her Bishop, Benedict, who borrowed the words of two ancient Christian authors, Prudentius, a Spanish layman who sang the praises of the martyrs, and Leo the Great, a theologian and preacher just like his Successor today. Hence Rome is a city which is always welcoming, which received the truth together with Christianity and – from the loggia of the Capitol – felt encouraged by the Pope in the deeply human words of another poet, the pagan Ovid: “hold out and persist: you have got through far more difficult situations”.
Having lived in Rome for so many years, Benedict XVI declared that he had become “a little Roman”, but said that he felt even more Roman as the City's Bishop, the Bishop of the Catholic community of a City with multi-racial and multi-religious features, as it was in the times in which the first Christians arrived in it. The City is beautiful too, above all because of the generosity and holiness of all the men and women who in the events of history showed the openness and characteristic hospitality of those who had encountered Christ and could put the good of all before their own interests.
The Pope's were not empty words. Indeed, the Bishop of Rome knows that his faithful are often fighting in the front line against poverty and intolerance and supports them in this effort, just as he looks to young people and prays for them every day, “as an elderly Pontiff”. And in the difficulties of the present time it is important that Benedict XVI has spoken of hospitality and truth, of that truth which does not seek to impose itself but, by welcoming everyone and being open to everyone, asks to be welcomed.
Only in this way will it be possible to remedy the spiritual impoverishment that is born when God is eliminated from the human horizon, when he is eliminated with the intention of assuring happiness to human beings but in fact undermining their ability to sustain the difficulties and challenges of daily life. Poverty and intolerance, and also the duty to educate the new generations are also pressing realities in Rome. And this demands the commitment of all, not only of Catholics – thanks to the common roots which are both civil and Christian – each respecting the dignity of every human being.
St. Peter’s Square
Sept. 20, 2019
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