Cardinal Bagnasco: Benedict XVI Loves Italy

At Presentation of Book on Pope’s Italian Trips

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2010 ( Between Benedict XVI and Italy there is a bond very similar to that between a father and a son, says Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian episcopal conference.

The archbishop of Genoa said this last week during a presentation of the book «I Viaggi di Benedetto XVI in Italia” (Benedict XVI’s Travels in Italy), written by Pierluca Azzaro and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana in collaboration with the Italian Embassy to the Holy See.

The volume documents the Pontiff’s travels in Italy up to September of 2009.

In his address at the launch, Cardinal Bagnasco stressed the «particular closeness and affection of the Vicar of Christ for our nation and for the Church that lives in Italy.»
«Benedict XVI’s trips in Italy are, therefore, framed in the most ample context of the many cares he has for that which has become for almost 30 years, and now more so by his election to the Supreme Pontificate, his adopted land,» he continued.
«He loves it with the affection of a father and Italy returns it with filial affection,» the cardinal added. «Expressing Christ’s solicitude, he makes himself a pilgrim and reaches the most diverse situations, gets to know them through the pastors and civil institutions, touches them personally in the inevitable brevity of the time, but with the farsightedness of faith and the intensity of the heart.»

Confirmed in faith

Cardinal Bagnasco then pointed out the «dominant note» that links his pastoral pilgrimages, the «‘cantus firmus’ which constitutes the heart of his lofty mission as Successor of Peter. He confirms the faith: ‘I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren’ (Luke 22:32).»
He asked: «Does not every meeting with the Pope awaken perhaps this profound perception of being confirmed in the faith in Christ, of being more convinced and stronger, of relishing in the main beauty and joy?»
The Petrine charism, the cardinal explained, is a charism «which has the virtue of breaking possible barriers and diffidence; capable of creating bridges because disarmed and disarming: In fact, it is a charism that comes from on high, from the God of peace and love.»
A charism, he continued, which does not arouse «a passing and folkloric merriment» but which «emits feelings and energies that at times seem — in the general view — burnt-out and which move the curious spectator,» and which «rekindles the hope of seen a gentle man who invites to look far to be able to see close.»
A hope, Cardinal Bagnasco affirmed, «that speaks of God and of his Son Jesus Christ; that reminds us of the lofty and fascinating exigencies of Christian life; that manifests the beauty of the Church and points out to the world the way of heaven.»

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