Pope: Italy Can Be Proud of Church's Role in Its History

Prays Rosary With Bishops on 150th Unification Anniversary

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ROME, MAY 27, 2011 (Zenit.org).- The Gospel is a source of civilization in every historical period, and it is “no wonder” that Italy “can be proud of the presence and action of the Church” in its history, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope said this Thursday when he gathered with Italian bishops at the Basilica of St. Mary Major to pray the rosary. The event celebrated the 150th anniversary of Italy’s unification.

The Holy Father and his brother bishops prayed the luminous mysteries, and then he gave an address in which he reflected on Mary and the bishops’ roles in Italy.

Speaking of Our Lady’s faith and her complete surrender to God’s will, he noted how the Son she bore is the “sap that gives life to a history that otherwise would be irremediably impaired.”

“Prayer helps us to recognize in him the center of our life,” he said, “to remain in his presence, to conform our will to his, to do ‘what he tells us.'”

The Pontiff spoke of how Mary is the model of the Church: “She is the one who presents to us the mirror in which we are invited to recognize our identity. Her life is a call to turn from what we are to hear and accept the Word, being able in faith to proclaim the greatness of the Lord, before which our only possible greatness is that expressed in filial obedience: ‘Be it done unto me according to thy word.'”

New beginning

Benedict XVI noted the dispositions of Mary’s heart: “listening, acceptance, humility, fidelity, praise and waiting,” saying they “correspond to the interior attitudes and to the gestures that mold Christian life. The Church is nourished by them, conscious that they express what God expects from her.”

The Pope said Mary’s “personal life is the synthesis of the history of a whole nation, which places the Church in continuity with ancient Israel.”

“Within this perspective individual histories receive meaning,” he added.

Open to God’s action, Mary gives birth to “the presence of God who comes to inhabit history and opens it to a new and definitive beginning, which is the possibility for every man to be reborn from on high, to live in the will of God and thus to be completely fulfilled.”

“In every historical period the encounter with the ever new Word of the Gospel was a source of civilization,” he said. “It built bridges between peoples and enriched the fabric of our cities, expressing itself in culture, in the arts and, not last, in the thousand forms of charity. No wonder Italy, celebrating the 150 years of its political unity, can be proud of the presence and action of the Church.”

The Church, the Pontiff said, “does not pursue privileges or desire to substitute the responsibilities of the political institutions; respectful of the legitimate secularity of the state, she is attentive in supporting the fundamental rights of man.”

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32693?l=english

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