"I am well aware that, despite the solidarity forthcoming from all sides, there are many daily discomforts involved in living outside your homes, in cars or tents, especially because of the cold and rain. ... My poor presence among you is intended as a tangible sign of the fact that the crucified Lord is risen and does not abandon you. ... He is not deaf to the anguished cries of so many families who have lost everything: houses, savings, work and sometimes even human lives. Of course, His tangible response comes though our solidarity, which cannot be limited to the initial emergency but must become a stable project over time. I encourage everyone, institutions and companies, to ensure that this city and this land may arise again".
The Holy Father then pronounced "some words of comfort" concerning the people killed in the earthquake. "They are alive in God", he said, "and await from you a testimony of courage and hope. They hope to see the rebirth of their land, which must once more adorn itself with houses and churches, beautiful and solid. ... Love remains, even beyond the river-crossing of this our precarious earthly life, because true Love is God. Those who love overcome death in God, and know that their loved ones are not lost". The Holy Father then concluded his remarks by reading as special prayer for the victims of the earthquake.
REUTERS/Max Rossi (ITALY DISASTER RELIGION SOCIETY
REUTERS/Max Rossi (ITALY DISASTER RELIGION SOCIETY)
Also from VIS:At midday today, the Pope arrived at the courtyard of the training school of the "Guardia di Finanza" in Coppito near the Italian city L'Aquila, where he met with people affected by the earthquake of 6 April, and with rescue and aid workers (volunteers, the Italian Civil Protection, firemen, soldiers, etc.).
"Here I am in this square", said the Holy Father in his address, "which almost from the first moment functioned as a headquarters for the rescue operations. This place, consecrated by the victims' prayers and tears, represents a symbol of your tenacious determination not to give way to discouragement." Quoting then the motto of the "Guardia di Finanza" - "Nec recisa recedit" - he pointed out that it "seems to well express what the mayor defined as your firm intention to rebuild the city, with that constancy which characterises you people of the Abruzzo region".
This same square, Benedict XVI went on, in which Cardinal Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone S.D.B. officiated at the funeral of the many victims of the tremor, "is today occupied by the forces involved in helping L'Aquila and Abruzzo to rise from the rubble of the earthquake. ... My visit among you, which I wished to make from the first moment, is intended as a sign of my closeness to each one of you, and of the fraternal solidarity of the entire Church.
"The truth is that as a Christian community we are a single spiritual body", he added, "if one part suffers, all the others suffer too; if one part struggles to arise, all share in that effort. I must tell you that expressions of solidarity have reached me from all sides. Many high-ranking figures of the Orthodox Churches have written to assure me of their prayers and spiritual solidarity, also sending economic aid".
The Pope continued by underlining "the value and importance of solidarity which, though chiefly demonstrated at moments of crisis, is like a fire hidden under the embers. Solidarity is a highly civic and Christian sentiment, a measure of the maturity of a society. In practical terms it is expressed in aid work, but it not merely an efficient organisational machine; it has a soul and a passion which arise from the great civil and Christian history of our people, whether it takes an institutional form or is expressed through volunteer work.
"The tragic earthquake calls the civil community and the Church to profound reflection", said the Holy Father. At Easter, he went on, "we celebrated the death and resurrection of Christ, bringing your pain to our minds and hearts, and praying that those affected would not lose their trust in God and their hope. The civil community must also undertake a serious examination of conscience, and ensure it always shoulders its responsibilities. On this basis L'Aquila, though wounded, will arise once more".
Benedict XVI concluded his words by invoking the protection of Our Lady of Roio, much venerated in the local area, for "all localities affected by the earthquake" and, having sung the Regina Coeli, placed a golden rose at the foot of her statue.
REUTERS/Alessandro Bianchi (ITALY DISASTER RELIGION SOCIETY)
We entrust our loved ones to you, Lord,
Knowing that you never take the lives of your faithful, but transform them,
And that at the moment the dwelling places of this our earthly exile are destroyed,
You prepare an eternal and immortal one for us in paradise.
Holy Father, Lord of heaven and earth,
Hear the cry of pain and of hope
That rises from this community harshly tied by the earthquake.
It is the silent cry of the blood of mothers, fathers, young people
And also innocent little ones that rises up from this land.
They have been snatched from the affection of their loved ones,
Welcome them all into your peace, Lord, who is God-with-us,
Who is the Love able to give life without end.
We need you and your strength
Because we feel small and fragile in the face of death;
Help us, we pray, because only your support
Can help us get up and, with trust, take each other's hands,
And start out again on the journey of life.
We ask you this through Jesus Christ, our savior,
In whom shines the hope of the blessed resurrection. Amen.