.- On an overcast, humid Pentecost Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI met with thousands of pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square to give the last Regina Coeli address of the year.
The Pope began by calling to mind that, "today we celebrate the great feast of Pentecost." This feast is especially important for the Church since "we can say that the Church had its solemn beginning with the descent of the Holy Spirit."
Moreover, Benedict explained that "in this extraordinary event, we find the essential characteristics and qualifications of the Church." First, "the Church is One, like the community at Pentecost, united in prayer." Second, "the Church is Holy, not by her merits, but because, animated by the Holy Spirit, she keeps her eyes fixed on Christ."
The Church is also Catholic "because the Gospel is destined for all people and for this reason, from the very beginning, the Holy Spirit makes it so that she speaks all languages." Lastly, "the Church is Apostolic because she was raised on the foundation of the Apostles and faithfully guards their teachings through the uninterrupted chain of Apostolic Succession."
Benedict then returned to the Church’s mission of evangelizing all peoples. "From the very day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit does not cease to push her along the world's paths." The book of Acts epitomizes this because it "describes the passing of the Gospel from the Hebrews to the pagans, from Jerusalem to Rome."
The Holy Father continued on to shed light on the scriptural meaning of Rome, "Rome here indicates the pagan world, and thereby all the people who are outside the ancient people of God." Thus, "one can say that Rome is the concrete name of Catholicity and Missionary Activity: it expresses faithfulness . . . to a Church that speaks all languages and goes to meet all cultures."
The Pope drew his talk to a close by telling the gathered pilgrims that "the first Pentecost happened when Mary Most Holy was present with the disciples in the Cenacle of Jerusalem praying." All members of the Church must, "entrust ourselves to her maternal intercession so that the Holy Spirit may abundantly descend upon the Church in our time, filling the hearts of the faithful and igniting in them, in us, the fire of His love."