ROME, OCT. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will visit Venice next May, also stopping in Aquilea, which is considered a mother Church for many local Churches in northeast Italy, Slovenia, Croatia and Austria.
Cardinal Angelo Scola announced that the Pope has accepted an invitation to visit the region on May 7-8, Vatican Radio reported Friday.
The papal visit will occur 26 years after Pope John Paul II’s visit to Venice, and almost 40 years after Pope Paul VI’s. Cardinal Scola also recalled the three Popes of the 20th century who were patriarchs of Venice: Pius X, John XXIII and John Paul I.
The cardinal particularly welcomed the visit as a call to “re-center an integral proclamation of Christ’s coming in the life of faith.”
A proclamation that “mobilizes not only Christians,” but that will drive them to “open this delicate and fragile city to propose all the mysteries of the life of faith and also all the dimensions and aspects of social and anthropological relevance, of relationship with Creation” that the Gospel and Christ represent, he added.
The patriarch of Venice confirmed that the Churches who trace their history to Aquilea will all be invited to the papal visit. This will also serve as a first step in preparations for the 2012 ecclesial conference to be held there.
Cardinal Scola reflected that the various pastoral situations the Holy Father will find in the region are quite distinct. But he highlighted something they all have in common: “what today is being called post-secularism, namely, this phase in which many speak of a forgetfulness of God.”
Nevertheless, the cardinal contended, there is an “explosion of the religious phenomenon, perhaps in a spontaneous way, which must be accepted, interpreted and helped.” The Pope’s recent trips to the United Kingdom and Palermo are manifestations of this explosion, he proposed.
Speaking of Venice in particular, Cardinal Scola noted a situation with “typical common features of postmodern man, a man somewhat faltering under the weight of these great changes, but then with specific features derived from the splendid and fragile city that is Venice.”
He recalled that John Paul II said Venice has a missionary field in the millions of visitors it welcomes annually — today more than 20 million tourists each year.
“Anything that is done in Venice, is already on the global stage,” commented Cardinal Scola.
Speaking of his pastoral visit throughout the diocese, the patriarch said there is a nucleus of practicing faithful with “many signs of Christian vitality and of personal and public witness.”
The question is to “find the way to propose, with liberty and frankness, to the men and women of today, the inevitable relationship with God.”
Cardinal Scola concluded, affirming that “a human society without God can be built” but, he questioned, won’t this lead to “making a society against man.”