09/24/2006, 00.00
VATICAN
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Pope: Sr Leonella Sgorbati, an authentic Christian witness

Benedict XVI upheld the Sister killed in Somalia as an example of "artisans of peace". He called for prayers for men of the sea and their families.

Castel Gandolfo (AsiaNews) – The "logic of Christianity", that is, the giving of self to others, at times to the point of sacrificing one's life, is testified to around the world by many Christians who "lay down their lives for others because of Jesus Christ, working concretely as servants of love and thus as 'artisans' of peace", just as Sr Leonella Sgorbati did. The example of the missionary killed in Somalia was upheld today by Benedict XVI before 3,000 people in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

Addressing the small festive crowd that applauded him warmly and vigorously called out his name, Benedict XVI made no other reference to a meeting set for tomorrow at Castel Gandolfo, with ambassadors of Muslim majority counties accredited to the Vatican and some Muslim religious leaders. Turning to today's Gospel, Benedict XVI talked instead about the "logic of Christianity, which responds to the truth of man created in the image of God, but at the same time counters his egotism, a consequence of original sin. Each and every human being is drawn by love – that is ultimately God himself – but often makes mistakes in concrete ways of loving, and thus from a tendency with positive roots but often contaminated by sin, bad intentions and actions can emerge."

Referring to the testimony of "peace artisans", he said: "At times, some people are asked for the supreme witness of their blood, as happened a few days ago with the Italian religious, Sr Leonella Sgorbati, who was a victim of violence. This sister, who for many years served the poor and little ones in Somalia, died uttering the word 'forgiveness': here we have the most authentic Christian witness, a pacific sign of contradiction that reveals the victory of love over hatred and evil. There is no doubt that following Christ is difficult, but, as He said, only those who lose their life for his sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it (Mk 8:35), giving full meaning to their existence. There is no other way to be his disciples; there is other path to testifying to his love and aiming for gospel perfection. Mary helps us, who we invoke today as the Blessed Virgin of Mercede, to open our hearts always to the love of God, mystery of joy and holiness."

After the recital of the Marian prayer, the pope recalled the upcoming celebration of World Maritime Day. He said in English: "I would like to invite all of you to pray for the men and women involved in seafaring, and for their families. I thank the Lord for the work of the Apostleship of the Sea, which for many years has offered human and spiritual support to those who live this difficult and challenging way of life." The pope then applauded recent initiatives taken by the International Maritime Organization to contribute to the fight against poverty and hunger.

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