.- The Holy Father made the trip across Rome this afternoon to complete the traditional act of papal veneration at the monument of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. In his message from the Piazza di Spagna, he contrasted the loving example of Mary with the persistent drum beat of evil found in the news media.
The Pope addressed Romans from the site of the famous Spanish Steps, where he said a statue of Mary "almost keeps watch over the city.”
Mary, Benedict XVI pointed out, is present all over Christian cities in paintings, mosaics and chapels, and through her presence she reminds us that "where sin is abundant, grace is overabundant."
"She is the Immaculate Mother that repeats also to the men of our time: do not be afraid, Jesus has conquered evil, he has conquered over it at the root, freeing us from its dominion."
"How much we need this wonderful news!" the Pope exclaimed, remarking on the contrast of this message to the communication of evil spread daily through the news media to the people.
This negativity, he continued, "isn't completely disposed of and day by day it accumulates. The heart hardens and thoughts are clouded."
"This is why the city needs Mary."
The Holy Father explained that by her very presence "she speaks to us of God, reminds us of the victory of Grace over sin and brings us hope even in the mostly humanly difficult situations."
Pope Benedict then delivered a powerful reflection on the dangers of urban living, The city, he said, has a tendency to make people disappear and every so often the story of one of these "invisible people" gets picked up by the media and exposed to the public "without mercy, or with false mercy." Every person, though, desires "to be accepted as a person and considered a sacred reality" and we all "require the greatest respect."
Each of us, though, as a part of our city is called to make it more hospitable. Said the Pope, "Everyone contributes to its life and to its moral climate, in good or in evil."
We "often we complain about the pollution of the air" but there also exists a "pollution of the spirit" that can impede us from treating others as they deserve to be treated. He stressed the importance of remembering that the people around us are not just bodies or "objects with faces, exchangeable and consumable."
It is Immaculate Mary, said the Holy Father, that "helps us to rediscover and defend the depth of the person, because in her there is perfect transparence of the soul in the body." "She is purity in person, in the sense that spirit, soul and body are in her fully coherent between themselves and with the will of God."
The Madonna teaches us to see the world and others "with mercy, with love, with infinite tenderness," he explained.
Pope Benedict closed the gathering with praise for those who already practice this behavior in their actions and implored all to "lend an ear to the voice of Mary" in her message that "where sin is abundant, grace is overabundant." In being aware of this and acting with our hearts, he said, our cities will be "more beautiful, more Christian, and more human."