God Is Near Those in Need, Pope Assures

Addresses Immigrant Parish on Rome’s Outskirts

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI encouraged the community of a poor immigrant parish in Rome to have faith that even though God can’t be seen, he is near to those in need.

«We know that the ‘sun,’ although hidden, exists, that God is near, that he helps us and accompanies us,» the Pontiff said today upon addressing the small parish of The Holy Face of Jesus at Magliana, which is located on the outskirts of the city.

«So, in this sense we want to journey toward Easter knowing that there are suffering and difficulties in our life but with the awareness that behind it there is the sun of divine Goodness,» he added.

Benedict XVI exhorted his listeners, many of whom gathered in the rain outside the small church, to put themselves in the service of their neighbor, especially those who have problems because of the economic crisis.

He pointed to St. Maximilian Kolbe — who sacrificed his life in the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz to save the life of fellow prisoner who had a family — as an example of charity to follow.

«In our time, marked by a general social and economic crisis, the effort that you are making above all through the parish Caritas and the Sant’Egidio group, to help the poorest and neediest as far as possible, is meritorious,» he said.

Many communities and congregations are active in the parish, which serves some 15,000, many of them poor.

Caritas, the Militia of the Immaculata (founded by St. Maximilian Kolbe), the Padre Pio Prayer Group, the Community of the Risen Jesus, the Neocatechumenal Way and the Community of Sant’Egidio are all active in the parish.

The Congregation of the Poor Daughters of the Visitation run a local nursing home, and brought many of the elderly from the home to see the Pope.

The church was named after St. Maximilian Kolbe in 1982, but changed its name to The Holy Face of Jesus in 2001.

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