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Mary and the city

The media was struck by Benedict XVI's remarks in front of the image of Mary Immaculate in Piazza di Spagna on Tuesday afternoon.

The relationship between the Pope and the world of the press is not an easy one. It was never easy, and it is not easy today, to the point that an authoritative French journalist and historian has recently written an important book on this matter (Bernarde Lecomte, Pourquoi le pape a mauvaise presse. Entretiens avec Marc Leboucher, Desclée de Brouwer ). Thus, the Discourse on Mary and the city was also reported – even though many were in agreement – emphasizing the Pope's criticism of the media for dwelling on bad news with little if no scruples.

Of course, the problem is not new: in the Christian tradition, the Fathers of the Church had also recognized it with regard to the theatre, which developed thanks to sacred representations.

But the main focus of Benedict XVI's reflection was not this issue, even if it is highly relevant. Instead the Pope yet again went, with simplicity, to the root of the matter, drawing inspiration from the Marian images set around Rome to remind men of the presence of God among them. To remind them that evil was in fact conquered by a human being, a woman, who was preserved from original sin. To remind every human creature that hope is possible. A presence –  God's – that can change things, “or rather [it] changes people, and hence improves society”,  said Benedict  XVI.

What really matters is that evil was conquered. This is the “good news” to keep in mind when faced with the evil that can little by little make man increasingly insensitive. From there it progressively hardens the heart, darkens thoughts and faces, reducing human beings to soulless bodies. This is a reality that is often the result of certain choices made by those who control the media and seek to reduce it to the equivalent of a show, thus taking responsibility away  from those considered to be no more than spectators. Beyond this broadly shared analysis, with realism the Pope recalled that – whether or not the person realizes it – every human being is nevertheless a protagonist of right or wrong, because even small daily choices always have consequences.

Therefore, even in reporting about evil, in the media's ruthless abuse of people – who are body and soul, realities which Christ assumed and then saved – and above all of those who are usually ignored (“invisible”) and thus defenceless, it must be remembered that every human story is a sacred story.

Benedict XVI said this forcefully, explaining in this way the motive of the dehumanization of our contemporary societies. If God is removed from the horizon – from the public scene as well as from our hearts – then the human being too, made in the image of God, is deprived of sacredness.

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St. Peter’s Square

Sept. 17, 2019

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