.- Catholics in Italy celebrated the fifth anniversary Benedict XVI becoming the Pope on Monday with a national day of prayer. The Italian Bishops' Conference (CEI) encouraged the initiative, which invited all Church communities to pray for the Pope, the "center of unity and visible sign of communion."
Inviting participation in Masses, liturgies of the word, prayer vigils, Eucharistic adoration and rosaries, the Italian bishops called for thanksgiving to God "for the illuminated teaching and crystalline testimony of the Pope."
The CEI also asked for prayer "in this hour of need" for the purification in the Church, for the victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse, and for "new energies" to reinforce the educational passion of clergy, religious and lay faithful.
Words of solidarity rolled into the Vatican from all parts of Italy and the world on the anniversary of the Pope's election, which took place on this day in 2005. CEI's news service reported letters of support and prayer initiatives planned for the occasion.
Among the celebrations planned for Monday is a prayer vigil and adoration in the Cathedral of Genoa, presided over by the president of the CEI, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.