CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, APRIL 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday at the Apostolic Palace in Castel Gandolfo after viewing the film “Sotto il Cielo di Roma” (Under the Roman Sky). The film is set in 1940s Rome, and reflects the Church’s efforts to save people from the Nazis, as well as Adolph Hitler’s plot to kidnap the Pope.
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I am very happy to have attended the first showing of the film “Sotto il Cielo di Roma” [Under the Roman Sky], an international co-production which presents the fundamental role of the Venerable Pius XII in the saving of Rome and of so many of the persecuted between 1943 and 1944. Although within the popularizing genre, it is a work that, also in the light of the most recent studies, attempts to reconstruct those dramatic events and the figure of the Pastor Angelicus. I am grateful to Mr. Paolo Garimberti, president of RAI [Italian Radio and Television], for the kind words he addressed to me. A grateful thought also goes to Mr. Ettore Bernabei, to the other producers and to all those who collaborated in making the significant work we have just seen. I greet with affection the Lord Cardinals, the prelates and all those present.
These works — planned for the general public with the most modern means, and at the same time directed to illustrating personalities and events of the last century — are of particular value especially for the new generations. For those who, in school, have studied certain events, of which they have also, perhaps, heard discussed, films like this might be useful and stimulating and can help to know a period that is not remote, in fact, but that the pressure of the events of recent history and a fragmented culture can make one forget.
Pius XII was the Pope of our youth. With his rich teaching he was able to speak to the men of his time pointing out the way of Truth and with his great wisdom was able to direct the Church towards the horizon of the Third Millennium. I must, however, stressed particularly that Pius XII was the Pope that, as father of all, presided in charity in Rome and in the world, above all in the difficult time of World War II. In an address of July 23, 1944, immediately after the liberation of the city of Rome, he thanked the members of Saint Peter’s Circle for their collaboration, saying: “(You) help us to satisfy more amply Our desire to dry so many tears, to alleviate so many sorrows,” and he indicated as central for all Christians Saint Paul’s exhortation to the Colossians (3:14-15): “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body” (Addresses and Radio Messages of Pius XII, pp. 87-88).
The primacy of charity, of love — which is the commandment of the Lord Jesus — is the principle and key of the reading of the whole work of the Church, in primis of her universal Pastor. Charity is the reason for every action, for every intervention. It is the global reason that moves thought and concrete gestures, and I am happy that also in this film this unifying principle emerges. I take the liberty to suggest this key of reading, in the light of the genuine witness of that great teacher of faith, of hope and of charity that was Pope Pius XII.
Renewing to all the expression of my gratitude, I take advantage of the occasion to express my best Easter wishes, while imparting my heartfelt blessing to all those present here, together with your collaborators and loved ones.