.- The Holy Father will be making a pastoral visit to Italy's largest island in October. Local bishops are looking forward to the occasion which they predict will give new life to evangelization in the area, focusing on the Sicily's holy past and not on its present difficulties.
Benedict XVI will follow up trips to Carpineto Romano, Italy and the United Kingdom in the coming months with a visit to Palermo, Sicily on Oct. 3. He accepted the invitation of the Sicilian bishops, led by Archbishop Paolo Romeo, extended by letter in May 2009.
A new archdiocesan website for the visit lists the major events on the schedule. The Pope will celebrate an outdoor Mass followed by the Angelus which will be attended by a special delegation of local families, near the city's Mediterranean waterfront.
Picking up again after lunch, he will meet with clergy, consecrated and seminarians in the Cathedral of Palermo followed by an encounter with youth in Politeama Square.
According to a press release, during the visit, the people of Sicily wish to "show the Successor of Peter not only the history but also the current common commitment of the 18 dioceses for building the Kingdom of God."
The two most anticipated events of Pope Benedict XVI's one-day stay on the island are the Eucharistic celebration with a large presence of families and the youth rally, notes the archdiocesean release.
The communique also explains that "the churches of Sicily are already deeply committed to reasserting the dignity and the unique and irreplaceable value of the family, founded on marriage and open to life." The faithful there "have close to their hearts the destiny of the young generations often left to their own devices and in need of a specific educative attention."
The bishops of Sicily, concludes the statement, are "conscious" that the visit and the Pope's teachings will help to give the Christian community "renewed missionary drive, pushing them towards the arduous task of evangelization and the transmission of the faith to the new generation in such a complex and difficult time..."
A separate statement from the Archdiocese of Palermo notes Archbishop Romeo's words at a press conference to announce the occasion in which he drove home the theme of the visit.
"We want to present to the Holy Father and to the whole world the true face of Sicily, which is not at all just about the garbage emergency, Mafia and social problems, but about a history that our saints have marked."