08/03/2008, 00.00
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Pope: best wishes for Beijing Games; remembrance of Paul VI

Benedict XVI hopes that the Beijing Olympics may be a "pledge of fraternity and peace among peoples", and may unfold "in respect of common dignity". Remembrance of the "superhuman merit" of Paul VI, for guiding the Church in the difficult post-council phase.

Bressanone (AsiaNews) - Benedict XVI hopes that the Beijing Olympics may offer "to the international community a valid example of coexistence among persons of the most varied origin, in respect of common dignity. May sports once again be a pledge of fraternity and peace among peoples".

The pope made no reference to the problems surrounding the games in the Chinese capital (freedom of the press, social and environmental questions), nor did he recall the problems that various Christian and other religious communities - including Catholic - still suffer (disappeared bishops, priests in prison, communities prevented from meeting together). Magnanimously, he addressed "cordial greetings" "to the host country, to the organizers and participants, in the first place to the athletes" and said he is following "this great sporting encounter with profound interest".

But the reflection of today's Angelus, from the square of the cathedral in Bressanone, where he has been on vacation since July 28, was dedicated above all to the memory of Pope Paul VI, who died on August 6, 1978.

"As supreme Pastor of the Church", the pontiff said, "he led the people of God to the contemplation of the face of Christ, Redeemer of man and Lord of history. And the loving orientation of the mind and heart toward Christ was precisely one of the central themes of Vatican Council II, a fundamental attitude that my venerable predecessor John Paul II inherited and presented again with the great Jubilee of 2000. At the center of everything, there is always and only Christ: at the center of the Sacred Scriptures and of Tradition, in the heart of the Church, of the world, and of the entire universe. Divine Providence called Giovanni Battista Montini from the see of Milan to that of Rome at the most delicate moment of the Council - when the intuition of Blessed John XXIII was in danger of not taking shape. How can we not thank the Lord for his fruitful and courageous pastoral action? As our view of the past gradually becomes wider and more complete, the merit of Paul VI appears ever greater, almost superhuman, in presiding over the conciliar assembly, in bringing it to a successful conclusion and managing the eventful post-conciliar phase. We could truly say, together with the apostle Paul, that in him the grace of God "was not in vain" (cf. 1 Cor. 1510): it made good use of his outstanding gifts of intelligence and his passionate love for the Church and for men. While we give thanks to God for the gift of this great pope, let us strive to treasure his teachings".

Before the recitation of the Marian prayer, Benedict XVI recalled that Paul VI himself wanted to pay special honor to the Virgin Mary by proclaiming her "'Mother of the Church' (cf. Insegnamenti, II [1964], 675), an image and model not only of the Christian but, as the holy Fathers teach, of the entire mystical Body of Christ".

At the end of the Angelus, after greetings and good wishes for the Beijing Olympics, the pope greeted the thousands of pilgrims gathered in the square. Among the various languages, he did not forget the greetings in the Ladin language, used in some of the valleys of Alto Adige.

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