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"An Important Vehicle to Spread the Gospel"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The book of the Acts of the Apostles states that Jesus, after his resurrection, appeared to the disciples during 40 days and afterward "as they were looking on, he was lifted up" (Acts 1:9). It was the Ascension, the feast we will celebrate on Thursday, May 25, though in some countries it is transferred to next Sunday.

The meaning of this last gesture of Jesus is twofold. Above all, ascending on "high," he unequivocally reveals his divinity: He returns to where he came from, that is, to God, after having fulfilled his mission on earth. Moreover, Christ ascends to heaven with the humanity he had assumed and which has resurrected from the dead: That humanity is ours, transfigured, divinized, made eternal. The Ascension, therefore, reveals the "supreme vocation" ("Gaudium et Spes," no. 22) of every human person -- called to the eternal life of the kingdom of God, kingdom of love, light and peace.

Celebrated on the feast of the Ascension, is the World Day of Social Communications, initiated by the Second Vatican Council, and now in its 40th year. Its theme this year is "The Media: Network of Communication, Communion and Cooperation." The Church looks with attention at the media, because it is an important vehicle to spread the Gospel and to foster solidarity between peoples, calling attention to the great problems that still mark them profoundly.

Today, for example, the initiative Walk the World, initiated by the United Nations World Food Program, seeks to sensitize governments and public opinion on the need for concrete and timely action to guarantee all, particularly children, "freedom from hunger." With prayer I am close to this demonstration, which is taking place in Rome and in other cities on some 100 countries.

I earnestly hope that, thanks to the contribution of all, the plague of hunger will be surmounted which still afflicts humanity, putting in great danger the hope of life of millions of people. I am thinking, above all, of the urgent and tragic situation in Darfur, Sudan, where strong difficulties persist to satisfy even the primary food needs of the population.

With the usual recitation of the Regina Caeli, we particularly entrust today to the Virgin Mary our brothers oppressed by the scourge of hunger, all those who come to their aid and those who, through the means of social communication, contribute to consolidate between peoples the bonds of solidarity and peace. We also pray to Our Lady to make fruitful the apostolic trip to Poland that, God willing, I will make from Thursday to next Sunday in memory of our beloved Pope John Paul II.

[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in six languages. In Italian, he said:]

While the last preparations for my apostolic trip to Poland proceed rapidly, I also have present in my heart and prayer the important meeting on Saturday, June 3, the eve of Pentecost, when I will have the joy to meet in St. Peter's Square with numerous members of the more than one hundred ecclesial movements and new communities, from all over the world.

I know well what their formative, educational and missionary wealth -- so appreciated, supported and encouraged by our beloved Pope John Paul II -- means for the Church. Together we will celebrate the first vespers of the solemnity of Pentecost, invoking the Holy Spirit with confidence, so that he will fill the hearts of the faithful and proclaim to all the message of the love of Christ, savior of the world.

On the occasion of the "Day of Relief," which will be celebrated in Italy next Sunday, I assure my remembrance in prayer for terminally ill patients and for all those who assist them in living their suffering in a human way.

[Greeting Polish pilgrims in Polish, the Pope continued:]

I address cordial greetings to the Poles. We are preparing for the now close meeting in Poland. I commend the trip to Mary most holy and pray through her intercession that in these days God will revive and consolidate our faith. May his blessing sustain us always.

[In English, the Pontiff said:]

I greet with joy the English-speaking pilgrims who have come here today. At this time we are approaching the great feast of the Ascension of Our Lord, which falls on Thursday of this week, though in some countries it is transferred to next Sunday. We rejoice that Christ our savior has taken his place at the right hand of the Father, because where he has gone, we hope to follow.

On the feast of the Ascension we also celebrate World Communications Day, and we seek to make ever greater use of the resources placed at our disposal by the media in order to promote communication, communion and cooperation between people everywhere. May God bless you all.

© Copyright 2006 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana [adapted]

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The Vatican
http://www.catholic.org , VA
Pope Benedict XVI - Bishop of Rome, 661 869-1000

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Keywords

Pope, Benedict, Communications, Caeli, Gospel

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