Rovereto di Novi (AsiaNews) - "The situation you are experiencing has brought to light an aspect I would like you to keep very much in mind: you are not and will not be alone! These days, amid so much destruction and pain, you have seen how many people felt moved to express their closeness, solidarity, affection, through so many signs and concrete help. My presence among you wants to be one of these signs of love and hope. As I gazed upon your land I was deeply moved, but I also saw so many hands that want to reach out to you, I saw that life begins again, it wants to start over with strength and courage, and this is the most beautiful and bright sign. " Thus, Benedict XVI described his brief visit today to the people of Emilia Romagna, struck by an earthquake over a month ago, on May 20 and 29, with a series of aftershocks that have seriously undermined the certainty of recovery. Hundreds of thousands of families, since then, have been living in tents, and many businesses were destroyed or rendered unstable for production.
Benedict XVI had words of encouragement for the affected population, "You - he said - are a people who all of Italy holds in high esteem for your humanity and sociability, for your hard work coupled with good humour. All of this has now been put to the test in this situation but it should not and can not touch what you are as a people, your history and your culture. Remain faithful to your vocation as a fraternal and united people, and face everything with patience and determination, resisting those temptations that are unfortunately related to these moments of weakness and need. "
The Pope commented on Psalm 46: " God is our refuge and our strength/an ever-present help in distress/Thus we do not fear, though earth be shaken and mountains quake to the depths of the sea "(Ps. 46.2 to 3).
"Dear brothers and sisters - he continued - these words seem at odds with the fear that inevitably test us after an experience like the one you have lived through. An immediate reaction, which can impress itself on us more deeply, if the phenomenon continues. But, in fact, the Psalm does not refer to this type of fear, and the security it speaks of is not that of super-men who are not touched by the normal feelings. The security it speaks of is that of faith, so, yes, there may be fear, anxiety - even Jesus experienced this - but above all there is the certainty that God is with me like the child who always knows he can count on his mother and father, because you feel loved, wanted, whatever happens. This is how we are with respect to God, small, fragile, but safe in his hands, entrusted to his love that is solid as a rock. This love we see in Christ crucified, which is the sign both of the pain and love. He is the revelation of God's Love, in solidarity with us to the extreme humiliation.
On this rock, and with firm hope, you can build, you can rebuild. "
Benedict XVI arrived in Rovereto di Novi (Modena) at about 10.15, transported by helicopter from the Vatican. Before meeting with the authorities and various representatives of displaced people in tent camps, he stopped to pray at the Church of St. Catherine of Alexandria, where Don Ivan Martini, pastor, died crushed under the rubble, trying to save a statue of the Madonna inside the building.
At the end of the meeting, the Pope greeted the bishops, priests, officials, and embraced one by one the representatives of several tent cities. Through Cor Unum, Benedict XVI had already donated 100 thousand euros for the earthquake victims. Today, the Vatican has made a further donation of 500 thousand euros. The Italian bishops' conference has donated 3 million euros.
The whole visit took place with a low and simple profile according to wishes of the pope who did not want to disturb the work of reconstruction and assistance.