Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) - At the conclusion of reflection before the Angelus, Benedict XVI recalled that on September 16 he will travel to Great Britain for the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. "I ask everyone – he said - to accompany me with prayer during this apostolic visit”. His request was greeted by a deafening applause from the pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.
On the eve of the trip to the United Kingdom, the country has unleashed a media campaign against the visit, against the Catholic Church's teaching on priestly celibacy and in favour of women priests, as well as the scandal of paedophile priests.
The pope repeated his request for prayers for this trip, even in greetings in French.
Earlier, Benedict XVI summed up the sense of today’s Gospel, chapter 15 of St. Luke's - in which Jesus tells the three parables of mercy: that of the lost sheep, the lost drachma, and of the father and prodigal son. "The shepherd who finds the lost sheep - he explained - is the Lord himself who takes sinful humanity upon himself and through the cross redeem it”.
"Dear friends - he added - how can we fail to open our hearts to the certainty that, while sinners we are loved by God? He never tires of coming to meet us, he is always the first to travels the path that separates us from Him. "
The pope focused primarily on the parable of the prodigal son, emphasizing the "inner pilgrimage" that he undertakes, returning "home, to himself and to his father." Citing Augustine, he added: "It is Word itself calls you to return, and with him is a place of unperturbed rest, where love is not forsaken unless it first forsakes (Confessions, IV, 11.16). And "Repentance is the measure of faith and with it we will return to the Truth”.
The pope also recalled the eldest son of the parable, who is "shocked by the joyful reception given to his brother" and who also needs assistance from the father who begs him. "Only faith - he concluded - can transform selfishness into joy and renew just relationships with others and with God."
In greetings in English, he mentioned in particular the Friends of John Paul II Foundation from Saudi Arabia.