LUCCA, Italy, OCT. 6, 2005 ( Benedict XVI raised his voice "to extol the great works wrought by the Holy Spirit" in the 20th century, as he saluted an international congress held in Lucca, Italy.

The congress, which attracted cardinals, bishops, and personal secretaries of the last four Popes, as well as founders and representatives of Catholic movements and associations, promoted a spiritual rereading of the last century.

Benedict XVI's wishes were conveyed in a message sent Sunday on his behalf by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Vatican secretary of state. The message was to be read at the meeting.

The theme of the congress is "The Signs of the Spirit in the 20th Century. A Historical Re-reading: The Witnesses' Account." Among the participants are leaders of the cultural, scientific, economic and political world.

In his message, the Pope greeted all those who promoted and organized the three-day meeting, which ended Sunday.

The promoters and organizers included the general coordinator of Renewal in the Spirit, Salvatore Martinez; the general superior of the Congregation of Oblates of the Holy Spirit, Sister Gemma Girolami; the founder of the Focolare Movement, Chiara Lubich; and the founder of the Community of Sant'Egidio, Andrea Riccardi.

"Wonderful testimonies"

In the congress's host city, Lucca, "was born Blessed Mother Elena Guerra, founder of the Institute of Oblates of the Holy Spirit, who, at the beginning of the 20th century, requested Leo XIII to consecrate the world to the Holy Spirit, […] something the Supreme Pontiff did on January 1, 1901," states the cardinal's message sent in Benedict XVI's name.

The message expresses the Holy Father's appreciation "for this significant initiative oriented to recovering the spiritual memory of the century just ended full of sad pages of history, but soaked also 'with wonderful testimonies of spiritual and charismatic awakening in all areas of human life.'"

"Starting from such a historical-ecclesial reference," the congress engaged in a broad rereading of the past century, "animated by a sentiment of gratitude to the Holy Spirit," the message said.

"The Second Vatican Council is situated precisely in the heart of the 20th century, main ecclesial event of the century, inspired and guided by the Holy Spirit," states the message signed by Cardinal Sodano.

"The whole Christian people continues to look" at that event, "while it enters the third millennium, announcing and proclaiming with joy the Gospel of life and love," it states. For its part, "the conciliar 'Pentecost,' perceived in all its force, has not failed to make its beneficent gust felt in the whole world."

Man's Redeemer

"To a humanity at times worried and even perturbed by the great challenges of the modern age," continues the message, "the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council has launched a courageous invitation to hope, an invitation based not on ideologies or utopias, but in the living presence of Christ, dead and risen.

"He alone is man's Redeemer, the Lord of history capable of satisfying the most profound expectations of the human heart. Only Christ is the Truth that illuminates man's existence, unmasking the dangers and snares that threaten it and valuing every positive resource in it."

Finally, the cardinal expresses the Pope's hope that the Lucca congress will contribute "to make evident the importance of Christians' mission in our time, called to develop a prophetic evangelizing action in every realm."

The general coordinator of the Italian group Renewal in the Spirit, Salvatore Martinez, said: "The wonder of the Holy Spirit's effusion," which continues to nourish the Church, is "a mystery that must be communicated to the men of our time."

Recalling the troubled 20th century, Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, stressed that "these atrocities should drive us even more to identify the signs of hope," including in the darkest years, because "the silent but powerful motor of history is the Holy Spirit."

Archbishop Rylko emphasized that history is not in the hands of the powerful or left to human forces, because God, who is not indifferent to human vicissitudes, arises in the world and in history.

"The program of the 20th century was to no longer wait for God's intervention," he said, "and we have witnessed where the absolutization of what is not absolute but relative leads: to totalitarianism."