Tens of thousands of Neapolitans turned out today in pouring rain to hear the Pope’s words and show their support for him. Cries of “viva la Papa” (long live the Pope) could be heard as the he made his way in the Pope mobile to the Piazza del Plebiscito, where he celebrated Mass and recited the Angelus.
The Holy Father’s message for Naples was that its culture of violence must be overcome through political solutions and above all, by a spiritual renewal which is fueled by the “great force for transforming the world,” prayer.
Naples needs effective political solutions to fight against the mentality which draws young people into an underworld of illegal activities, but even more so it needs a deep spiritual renewal, the Pope said.
This renewal will come about through a formation of consciences which can transform people’s attitudes and ways of behaving. The indispensable key to this conversion is prayer: “The deepest expression of faith, which in silence can change the world and transform it into the kingdom of God,” the pontiff explained.
Pope Benedict also showed that he is aware of life outside of the better parts of Naples and provided some solutions for the circumstances of abject poverty that many Neapolitans find themselves in. In a move reminiscent of when Pope John Paul II spoke out against the Sicilian mafia, Benedict XVI also singled out the Camorra, the organized crime network in Naples for contributing to the city's corruption.
In his homily, the Pope said that it is crucial to immediately intervene to protect children who are at risk of being drawn into gangs and drug rings. He suggested supporting children in schools, organizing their free time and helping them find jobs.
The Holy Father challenged the Neapolitans to see that hope for a change in their city will take place. “The seeds of hope may be small but they can grow into large trees which can bear much fruit,” Benedict counseled. He concluded his homily by encouraging the faithful to “build on authentic faith which… can keep hope alive even in the most difficult situations.”