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Symbol of love for poor and oppressed

· Address for 50th anniversary of Shrine of Christ the King ·

In the afternoon of Tuesday, 11 May, the Holy Father went to “Terreiro do Paço”, Palace Square, called after the royal palace that stood there before it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1755. From this Square can be seen the towering statue of Christ the King above the Shrine on the left bank of the River Tagus. It was inspired by the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, and inaugurated on 17 May 1959. The Mayor of Lisbon presented the keys of the capital to the Holy Father and Cardinal Policarpo greeted the Pope who then addressed those present. Towards the end of the celebrations for its 50th anniversary, the Pope expressed the wish that the Shrine might become a place where the baptized assess how deeply rooted in their lives are the values of Christ's Kingdom. The following is a translation of his speech, which was given in Portuguese.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At this moment, I look across to the other bank of the Tagus, towards the imposing statue of Christ the King, as we approach the end of the celebrations of its fiftieth anniversary. While it has not been possible to visit the Shrine, as Bishop Gilberto of Setúbal would have wished — I take the opportunity from here to point out to the younger generation the example of hope in God and fidelity to their vow that the Bishops and faithful Christians of that time left us in this sculpture, a sign of their love and gratitude for the preservation of peace in Portugal. The image of Christ extends his arms over the whole of Portugal, as if to remind it of the Cross on which Jesus obtained the peace of the world and showed himself to be both King and servant, since he is the true Saviour of mankind.

Let this Shrine become ever more a place in which every member of the faithful can assess how deeply rooted the values of the Kingdom of Christ are in his life of baptismal consecration, for the building up of love, justice and peace through engagement in society in favour of the poor and oppressed, so as to focus the spirituality of Christian communities upon Christ, the Lord and Judge of history.

Upon all who work and serve in the Shrine of Christ the King, upon its pilgrims and upon all the faithful of the Diocese of Setúbal I invoke abundant heavenly blessings of hope and lasting peace in the hearts of individuals, in families and in society.

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