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Pope Recalls Padre Pio and His Works

11/6/2006 - 6:00 AM PST

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"Faith in God and Scientific Research Cooperate"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2006 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered in St. Peter's Square on Oct. 14 to a group of pilgrims connected with the charitable works of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With great joy I meet you in this Square, which in 1999 and in 2002 saw the memorable celebrations for the Beatification and Canonization of Padre Pio of Pietrelcina.

Today, you have come in large numbers on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of what constitutes an important and integral part of your work: the House for the Relief of Suffering.

I welcome you with affection and extend to each one of you my cordial greeting: to Archbishop Umberto D'Ambrosio, who I thank for his kind words; to the Capuchin Friars of the Shrine and of the Province; to the managers, doctors, nursing staff and personnel of the Hospital; to members of the Prayer Groups, coming from every part of Italy and also from other countries; to the pilgrims from the Diocese of Manfredonia-Vieste-San Giovanni Rotondo.

All together you form a great spiritual family, because you recognize yourselves as sons and daughters of Padre Pio, a simple man, a "poor Friar", as he used to say, to whom God has entrusted the perennial message of his Crucified Love for the whole of humanity.

You are the first inheritors of his witness, dear Capuchin Friars, who are the custodians of the Shrine of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the large new church dedicated to St Pio of Pietrelcina. You are the principal animators of these places of grace, visited each year by millions of pilgrims.

Spurred on and sustained by the example of Padre Pio and by his intercession, do your best to emulate him in order to help all to live a profound spiritual experience, centered on contemplation of the Crucified Christ, revealer and mediator of the merciful love of the Heavenly Father.

Padre Pio's heart, on fire with charity, gave rise to the House for the Relief of Suffering, whose name already shows the inspiration that characterizes it and the program it intends to accomplish.

Padre Pio wanted to call it a "house" because the sick, especially those who are poor, would feel at ease in it, welcomed in a family atmosphere, and in this house one could find "relief" from his suffering. Relief thanks to two converging factors: prayer and science. This was the idea of the Founder, which must always be kept in focus and personalized by all those who work in the hospital.

Faith in God and scientific research cooperate to the same goal, which can be expressed better with the words of Jesus himself: "that they may have life, and have it abundantly" (Jn 10:10).

Yes, God is life, and wants man to be healed from every ailment of body and spirit. This is why Jesus takes untiring care of the sick, forecasting with their healing the Kingdom of God already near.

For the same reason the Church, thanks to the charisms of many saints, has extended and diffused throughout the centuries this prophetic ministry of Christ by means of the countless initiatives in the fields of health and service to the suffering.

If the scientific and technological dimension is proper to the hospital, prayer pervades the entire work of Padre Pio. It is, so to speak, the transversal element: it animates every initiative. It is the spiritual strength that moves all and orients all according to charity, which is ultimately God himself.

God is love. Therefore, the fundamental binomial that I want to repropose to your attention is what is at the centre of my Encyclical: love of God and love of neighbor, prayer and charity (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," nn. 16-18).

Padre Pio has been above all a "man of God". From childhood he felt called by him and responded "with all his heart, with all his soul and with all his strength" (cf. Dt 6:5). Thus, divine love was able to take possession of his humble person and make of him an elect instrument of his salvific design.

Praise be to God, who in every age chooses simple and generous souls to accomplish great things (cf. Lk 1:48-49)!

In the Church all comes from God, and without him nothing can stand. The works of Padre Pio offer an extraordinary example of this truth: the House for the Relief of Suffering can be well defined as a "miracle". Who could have humanly thought that next to that little convent of San Giovanni Rotondo there would arise one of the largest and most modern hospitals of Southern Italy?

Who, if not the man of God, who looked at reality with the eyes of faith and with great hope, because he knew that nothing is impossible to God?

This is why the ...

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