At the conclusion of Sunday’s Papal Mass in Viterbo, Italy, Pope Benedict XVI spoke on the theme chosen for his pastoral visit: “Confirm your brothers.” These are the words, he recalled, that Jesus said to St. Peter at the Last Supper, entrusting Peter and his successors with the task of being “Pastor of all his Church.”
Pope Benedict explained that throughout the ages, the Viterbo diocese has been a sign of affection and communion with the Successor of Peter. “I was able to take notice,” he shared, “while visiting the Palace of the Popes and especially, the hall of the ‘Conclave.’”
Benedict XVI added that the area was the birthplace of St. Leo the Great, “who rendered a great service to truth in charity, by way of an assiduous exercise of the word, as testified by St. Leo’s Sermons and by his Letters.”
Viterbo has a history of being the home of the Roman Pontiffs for the second half of the thirteenth century, as five popes were elected and four were buried in the city. In addition, 50 popes have visited there, most recently, the Servant of God John Paul II, 25 years ago.
Pope Benedict explained that he wants to stress the spiritual value of these numbers. “Viterbo,” he said, “is rightly called ‘City of Popes,’ and this constitutes for you, her residents, a reason to live and to testify to the Christian faith, the same faith for which the holy martyrs Valentine and Hilary, whose relics are contained in the cathedral and the first of a long line of saints, martyrs and blessed from your land.”
Returning to the theme of his visit, the Pope reflected on how the exhortation to confirm his brothers is an invitation of the Lord that is “today directed to me with particular intensity.”
“Pray, dear brothers and sisters, so that I might always complete with fidelity and love the mission of Pastor of all Christ’s sheep. For my part, I assure constant prayer for your diocese so that the diverse expressions, a symbolic representation of which I was able to admire on the new doors of the cathedral, tend to fuller unity and fraternal communion, indispensible conditions for offering the world an effective evangelical testimony.”
After the Angelus prayer, Pope Benedict XVI extended greetings to the participants of the International Congress “Man and Religions,” which is taking place in Krakow, Poland, with the theme, “Faiths and culture in dialogue.”
The Pontiff said: “Representatives of various religions, invited by the Archdiocese of Krakow and the St. Egidio Community, are gathered to reflect and pray in favor of peace, 50 years after the start of the Second World War.
"We cannot forget the dramatic facts which initiated one of the most terrible conflicts of history, causing millions of deaths and much suffering for the beloved Polish people, a conflict which witnessed the tragedy of the Holocaust and the extermination of other innocents. The memory of these events moves us to pray for the victims and for those who still bear wounds on the body and in their heart. May it serve as an example for all to not repeat such barbarity and to intensify efforts to construct in our time, still marked by conflict, a lasting peace, transmitting to new generations a culture and lifestyle of love, solidarity and respect for others.”