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Love in a Time of Hate: the Pope at Ground Zero

Vatican Spokesman Comments on Papal Visit

NEW YORK, APRIL 20, 2008 ( Benedict XVI’s prayer at ground zero bears witness to the fact that in times of incomprehensible hate, love and solidarity become more necessary and intense, says a Vatican spokesman.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, called the Pope’s visit to the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers “a moment of hope, of realistic hope.”

The priest, who is also the director of Vatican Radio, continued, “At ground zero we see the manifestation of the consequences of hate in our time, at least in very recent times. A manifestation of a hate of such proportions as to be also truly mysterious, beyond our capacity to imagine.

“But precisely in the face of this, we recollect ourselves silently in prayer, before God, to ask for the light and the comfort to continue to hope, to be able, in the face of this huge empty crater […] that Ground Zero represents, to rebuild a reconciled society, a future of hope.”

For this reason, he explained, [Benedict XVI’s visit] “was a moment of great compassion, of great participation in a sorrow that continues to be extremely present for the relatives of the victims.”

“With [his] prayer, the Pope invites all to recall that it was an experience of hatred and sorrow, but that it was also, in the moment itself of the tragedy, an experience of solidarity and love, because so many gave their lives to help those who were stricken in that moment,” said Father Lombardi.

The priest continued: “This presents a message that continues and must become stronger, in such a way as to look forward, everyone wanting to build a better society, pulling up the roots of hatred and terrorism and knowing always how to resist [them] with strength.”

According to Father Lombardi, “it is a great message, not only for the American people, but for all humanity as well,” to “look forward with full responsibility.”

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