This morning, Benedict XVI traveled to Rome’s Town Hall, located on the city's Capitoline Hill, where he met with Mayor Gianni Alemanno and other civic leaders. In his address, the Holy Father spoke of the “social and economic challenges” the city is facing and encouraged Rome to rediscover its Christian roots.
Before Pope Benedict began his address, the mayor announced plans to build a help-center for disadvantaged youth on land donated by the city. The center will be named after Pope Benedict XVI.
Following the announcement, the Holy Father took the stage, and began by recalling the visits of his predecessors to the Town Hall: Blessed Pius IX in 1870, Paul VI in 1966 and John Paul II in 1998.
"These visits are a testament to the affection and respect Peter's Successors, pastors of the Catholic community of Rome and of the universal Church, have always nourished for Rome, the center of Latin and Christian civilization and 'hospitable mother of peoples,'" he explained.
He assured the officials of his “paternal concern” for the city’s inhabitants, for those who visit Rome for religious or cultural reasons, and for those who come for tourism or work. He reaffirmed that the Catholic Church “will not fail to provide her active support for all cultural and social initiatives that seek to promote the authentic good of all people and of the city as a whole."
Pope Benedict then noted the difficulties Roman society is facing. "Rome has always been a welcoming city," although it is currently “facing unprecedented cultural, social and economic challenges” similar to those in all of Italy and around the world.
Referring to “recent episodes of violence,” the Holy Father explained that they are signs of “the real spiritual poverty afflicting the heart of modern man.” He continued, “Eliminating God and His law, as a way of achieving man's happiness, has not in fact achieved its goal. On the contrary it deprives man of the spiritual certainties and the hope necessary to face the difficulties and challenges of everyday life."
"Rome must rediscover its most profound soul, its civil and Christian roots, if it wishes to promote a new humanism which focuses upon man, recognized in the fullness of his truth.
“Man, detached from God, loses his transcendent vocation,” the Pontiff reminded.
“Christianity carries a shining message of the truth about man; and the Church, which is the depository of that message, is aware of her responsibility towards contemporary culture,” he said.
Finally, the Pope thanked the mayor for the dedication of the center for disadvantaged youth. "May this new enterprise be a stimulus for Rome to create a social fabric of acceptance and respect, where the meeting between culture and faith, between social life and religious witness, may co-operate to create a community that is truly free and animated by feelings of peace."