The Pope’s Visit

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, Pope Benedict XVI visited Portugal from 11-14 May 2010. The goal of his pilgrimage was Fatima and a veritable multitude of humanity followed in his wake as he moved from the central to the northern part of the country.
The Pope told the crowds that in the profound crisis in which the world currently finds itself?only only an economic but also a cultural and spiritual crisis?we all need words to encourage and inspire us.
In fact he too felt the need to visit the Mother of Jesus to receive reassurance that God is indeed accompanying his Church, the ?bark of Peter,? which at present is battling ?strong storms.? The citizens of Lisbon, Fatima and Porto all flooded the streets to welcome the Holy Father and listen joyfully and enthusiastically to what he had to say.
He greeted everyone with an open smile and humble demeanor, offering them words of hope, pointing out to them how to remain faithful to Christ and encouraging them to dialogue with society. The Pope asked Christians to learn to live in such a way as to irradiate the Gospel to the many areas of society in which they are immersed: their family circles, the educational system, political life, social organizations, etc.
He congratulated the Io Credo youth group for its witness to Christ. He told teachers that the Church serves society by revealing to it new horizons of truth, beauty and human dignity. He urged priests and religious to remain faithful to their vocation as disciples of Christ.
?Fidelity is another name for love,? he emphasized, ? a genuine, coherent and profound love for Christ.? He asked pastoral workers to respect the dignity of the person and to defend human life, saying that from the very beginning of the Church the charism of the laity has always been characterized by ?service in love,? carried out by persons who see the needs of others and, like the Good Samaritan, strive to meet them.
In Porto, Benedict XVI invited the Christians of this diocese ?in mission? to focus their attention on those without faith, to give them reasons for hope and to always be ready to dialogue with everyone without trying to force their beliefs on others. ?Even though we are few,? he commented, ?we are salt of the earth.? He expressed his appreciation for the bishops? plan for social work and for the formation of the clergy, encouraging them to be true shepherds to the people of God.
The culminating stage of the Pope?s pilgrimage was his visit to the Sanctuary of Fatima, where he prayed the rosary in the Chapel of the Apparitions in the main square, surrounded by a crowd of more than 500,000 people, all bearing lighted candles. In his homily of 13 May, Benedict XVI surprised everyone by saying that ?in Sacred Scripture, God always seems to be looking for ?an upright person? to save our human city.
The same thing happened here at Fatima and the message proclaimed here has not yet concluded. When we close a door, God opens a window from heaven.?
Now that the Pope has returned to Rome, only time will reveal who has enough love to respond courageously: ?Yes, Holy Father, the message of Fatima continues to be proclaimed in time, casting light on history, including the small, personal life stories of those who embrace the challenge to dedicate their lives to saving our human city.?