ROME, JUNE 15, 2001 (Zenit.org).- People need the Eucharist, source of strength for evangelization, in order to change the world and help the neediest, John Paul II said Thursday on the feast of Corpus Christi.
The Holy Father said that, more than ever before, Christians need the Eucharist to promote the “missionary renewal” they have undertaken at the beginning of the millennium.
As he has done throughout his pontificate, John Paul II celebrated Mass on Corpus Christi in the open air, at the St. John Lateran Basilica, the Bishop of Rome´s cathedral.
After the Mass, he presided over the procession along the Via Merulana to the Basilica of St. Mary Major, accompanying the Blessed Sacrament. Some 20,000 people participated.
“In order to continue, it is necessary to return to Christ, that is, the Eucharist,” the Pope explained during the homily. “We walk with generosity and courage, seeking communion within our ecclesial community, dedicated with love to the humble and selfless service of all, especially the neediest.”
The Holy Father concelebrated Mass with Cardinal Camillo Ruini, his vicar for Rome, as well as auxiliary bishops and recently ordained priests of the diocese.
John Paul II reintroduced the Corpus Christi procession in Rome in the first year of his pontificate. The procession had not taken place since the annexation of the Papal States, which for years kept popes behind the Vatican walls.
In 1979 city officials tried to oppose the initiative. John Paul II answered that if he was able to hold this procession in Krakow at the height of the Communist period, he would not abandon the custom in Rome.
The Pope accompanied the Blessed Sacrament in a car. He has not walked in the procession since 1994 because of a right-leg fracture.