RIMINI, Italy, AUG. 23, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI has sent a message to the 30th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, alluding to the theme of the gathering by affirming that an encounter with Christ is an "event" that creates communion.

The papal message, sent by the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, was read at today's opening Mass of the week-long conference, sponsored by the Catholic lay Communion and Liberation movement. Some 700,000 people are attending, reflecting on the spiritual heritage left by the movement's founder, Monsignor Luigi Giussani.

This year's theme is "Knowledge Is Always an Event." The papal message echoed that idea, recalling that "'event' is a word with which Don Giussani tried to re-explain the very nature of Christianity, which for him is an 'encounter,' that is, an experiential fact of knowledge and communion."

The Pontiff relates the words "event" and "encounter" to explain how knowledge is gained, and particularly, knowledge of God.

"It can be asked if there is knowledge more necessary for man that that of the knowledge of his Creator; if there is a knowledge described more adequately by the word 'encounter' than that of the fundamental relationship that exists precisely between the spirit of man and the Spirit of God," he wrote.

The fathers of the Church, the papal message continues, insisted "on the need to purify the eyes of the soul to be able to see God, inspired in the Gospel Beatitude: 'Blessed are the pure of heart for they shall see God.'"

"Man's reason can only be exercised, and thus reach its true goal -- knowledge of the truth and of God -- thanks to a purified heart that sincerely loves the truth it seeks," the note added. "Purified in this way, the human spirit can open itself to the revelation of the truth."

Through his message, Benedict XVI called participants in the Rimini Meeting to "go with confidence to the Lord, welcoming his mysterious presence, which is the fountain of truth and love for man and for society."

According to its organizers, the Rimini meeting seeks to "create points of contact between experiences and people of different faiths and cultures who share a positive desire for knowledge and reciprocal enhancement."

Among the speakers this year are Tony Blair, former British prime minister; Jeb Bush, former Florida governor; Cardinal Antonio María Rouco Varela, archbishop of Madrid and president of the Spanish episcopal conference; John Milbank, writer and professor from the University of Nottingham; and Carl Anderson, supreme knight of the Knights of Columbus.

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On the Net:

Rimini Meeting: www.meetingrimini.org/default.asp?id=825