Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI assures "heartfelt prayer for the repose of the victims and support for the beloved Polish nation" because of "tragic plane crash in Smolensk in which the president of Poland, Mr Lech Kaczynski , his wife, other high authorities of the Polish state and all of their entourage, including the archbishop of the military chaplaincy, lost their lives”.
Following the plane crash that has literally decapitated the Polish leadership with the death of 96 people, the pope turned to the Polish nation twice today during the Regina Coeli from Castel Gandolfo. He expressed his "profound condolences” at the end "of the Marian prayer, and later, also in Polish: “With deep sorrow - he said - I heard the news of the tragic death of Mr. Lech Kaczynski, President of Poland, his wife and people who accompanied them. They died on the journey to Katyn, the site of the execution of thousands of Polish military officers killed seventy years ago. I entrust all of them to the merciful Lord of life. I do this by uniting in prayer with the pilgrims gathered at the Shrine of Lagiewniki and all devotees of God's Mercy throughout the world. "
A group of Polish nuns, immediately after the pope's words, intoned a prayer in the total silence of the assembly of pilgrims who filled the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace. Another thought related to Poland came during the Pope's reflection before the Regina Caeli, linked to the today’s Sunday Gospel, a Sunday which John Paul II named "Divine Mercy" on the occasion of the canonization of the Polish nun, Sister Maria Faustina Kowalska , on April 30, 2000.
Today's Gospel (Jn 20, 19-31), said Benedict XVI, is rich "in the mercy and goodness of God ... It says that Jesus after the Resurrection, visited his disciples, entering the closed doors of ... the Upper Room. Jesus bears the marks of the passion, to the point of allowing doubting Thomas to touch them. How is it possible, however, that a disciple can doubt? In reality, divine condescension allows us to learn even from Thomas’ incredulity as well as from the disciples who believed. In fact, touching the wounds of the Lord, the hesitant disciple not only heals his, but also our suspicion. "
Recalling the gift of the Holy Spirit and the power to forgive sins gifted by Jesus to his disciples at the Last Supper, he added: "This is the mission of the Church constantly assisted by the Paraclete: bring to everyone the good news, the joyful reality of the merciful love of God, ‘because - as St. John says - believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through this belief you may have life in his name' (20:31). "
"In light of this word - he concluded – I particularly encourage, all pastors to follow the example of the Curé d'Ars, who, 'in his time, was able to transform hearts and lives of many people, because he managed to make them feel the Lord's merciful love. Such an announcement and a similar testimony to the truth of Love is urgently needed in our times (Letter Announcing the Year for Priests). In this way we will make He who our eyes have not seen, of whose infinite Mercy we are certain, ever more familiar”.
After praying the Regina Caeli, and after expressing condolences for the tragic Polish air disaster, Benedict XVI recalled the solemn exposition of the Holy Shroud in Turin, which began yesterday and runs until May 23.” God willing – he added - I will go to venerate it on 2 May. I am delighted with this event, which again is causing a huge movement of pilgrims, but also studies, reflections and especially an extraordinary reference to the mystery of Christ's suffering. I hope that this act of veneration will help all peoples seek the Face of God, which was the intimate aspiration of the Apostles, as well as ours. "