Vatican City (AsiaNews) – At the end of the Regina Coeli prayer Benedict XVI launched a strong appeal for an end to “clashes between Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and the launching of rockets against the populations of neighbouring Israeli cities”. The Pope underlined that these actions – which include “the armed intervention” by Israel - “are provoking the bloody deterioiration of the situation, and causing serious suffereing”.
“Once agian – he said – in the name of God, I urge an end to this tragic violence, while I express my solidarity with and closeness to the tried Palestinian and Israeli populations, whom I assure have a place in my prayers”.
He then added: “I appeal to all of the Palestinain Authorities, to their sense of responsability so that, through dialogue and with determiniation, they may return to the arduous journey of mutual understanding, and in doing so neutralize those who promote violence. I invite the Israeli government to moderation and I exhort the International community to multiply its efforts to relaunch peace negotiations. May the Lord inspire and support those who work for peace!”.
In his first meeting with the faithful of Rome since his journey to Brazil (May 9 – 14) and a brief period of respite in Castel Gandolfo, Benedict XVI thanked God for the outcome of the papal voyage and those who accompanied him with their prayers. He also promised : “I hope to return to this voyage at length next Wednesday, during my general audience. In the interim I invite you all to continue to pray for the Conference underway in Aparecida and for the journey of God's people who live in Latin America”.
As is tradition in the Catholic Church, the Ascension is also dedicated to the World Day for Social Communications, which this year has as it's theme: “Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education ". In his reflections before the Marian prayer, the Pope also dwelt on the mass medai and its' influence which all too often - the Pontiff noted - “competes against the school, the Church and even the familiy”. Benedict XVI maintians that “a suitable education to the correct use of the media is essential: parents, teachers and the ecclesial community are called to work together in educating children and teenagers to be selective in their use of the media and to nurture a critical capacity which cultivates their taste for what is esthetically and morally valid”.
But, he added, the media too must take on an educative role by “promoting human dignity, marraige and the family, society's conquests and its' objectives. Programes which favour violence and anti-social behaviour or those which vulgarize human sexulaity are unacceptable, above all when they are aimed at the young”. The Pope called on the industry leaders and those who work in the feild of communications to “safeguard the common good by respecting the truth and protecting dignity of the human person and of the family”.
Before a crowd of over 20 thousand people gathered in the square, the Pontif finished recalling the liturgical feast of the Ascension (which was celebrated Thursday in the Vatican): “The Risen Christ returns to the Father, thus opening for us the way to eternal life and gifting us the Holy Spirit. As the Apostles did then we too gather ourselves in prayer after the Ascension to envoke the coming of the Spirit, in spiritual union with the Virgin Mary (cfr At 1,12-14). May her intercession grant a renewed Pentecost for the entire Church”.
Finally Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in many languages. He had a special greeting for “over one thousand young people from the Archdiocese of Genoa who have been or are about to be confirmed in their faith” The young boys and girls were accompanied by their Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Conference of Catholic Bishops and by Card. Tarcisio Bertone, former Archbishop of Genoa.