Aid Group Invites Prayer for Pope on Sunday

Says He «Incarnates Rationality» in Midst of Attacks

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KOENIGSTEIN, Germany, FEB. 20, 2009 ( Noting that this Sunday is the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, the charity group Aid to the Church in Need is inviting believers to a day of prayer for the Pope.

In a statement today signed by the president of Aid to the Church in Need, Father Joaquín Alliende, the international charity pointed to attacks against Benedict XVI. It noted a «resurgence of the unsavory and aggressive attitudes that many thought belonged to the past.»

Though the statement makes no mention of specific issues, it alludes to the turmoil surrounding Lefebvrite Bishop Richard Williamson and an interview in which the prelate denied the gassing of the Jews during the Holocaust.

That interview aired at about the same time as the bishop, along with three other Society of St. Pius X prelates, had their 20-year excommunication lifted, in the framework of Benedict XVI’s continuing efforts to heal the schism with the society. Despite repeated reiteration of the Vatican’s respect for the Jews and the Pontiff’s motives in lifting the excommunication to seek Church unity, the issue was still seen by some as an affront to Jewish-Catholic relations.

Aid to the Church in Need contended that the «dignity of the papacy and the person of Benedict XVI himself have been crudely insulted.» They noted manipulation of facts and an «unworthy dealing with the truth.»

This, they said, «does grave damage to the dialogue between civil society and the great religions.»

However, the statement continued: «In the midst of these strident attacks, the historical personality of Benedict XVI emerges untouched, as a figure who incarnates rationality, lucid wisdom and courteous kindness. That is why many young people find in him a living image of the Good Shepherd.»

«For next Sunday we are inviting all those who believe in a God of truth and love to join us in a day of special prayer,» the statement concluded. «Let us pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten and strengthen Pope Benedict XVI as a prophetic witness of the Gospel of Jesus and a guide for a humanity that longs for peace.»

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