.- In a meeting this morning with 30 members of the Italian group, Circolo San Pietro, Pope Benedict received the traditional “Peter’s Pence” collection and thanked the group for their “service…faithfulness and acquiescence” to Peter’s successor.
Founded in the 19th century, Circolo San Pietro gives voluntary help in papal ceremonies and cares for people in need in the Italian capital. According to the Vatican, The Circolo also enjoys the ancient privilege of collecting the fund known as Peter's Pence, which is given to the Holy Father as a means of cooperating in his ministry to the Universal Church.
In his meeting today, the Pope noted that although, "this is the first time I have met you since God called me to undertake the Petrine ministry in the Church…I have long known of your service, animated by convinced faithfulness and acquiescence to Peter's Successor."
"The mission you carry out with such admirable commitment is vital,” he said. “Apart from liturgical service, you concern yourselves with going out to meet the poor and with bringing relief to the sick and suffering. In so doing you imitate the Good Samaritan and provide concrete witness of the missionary zeal and evangelical love that should distinguish all true disciples of Christ.”
“You have come here today,” he told the gathering, “as you do every year, to present the Peter's Pence fund to the Pope; this is a further sign of your generous openness to your brethren in difficulty. At the same time, it represents a significant participation in the efforts of the Holy See to respond to the growing needs of the Church, especially in the poorest countries."