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Massive Italian rally to support Pope Benedict

Catholic World News - May 17, 2010

Over 150,000 people crammed into St. Peter's Square on Sunday, May 16, to show support for Pope Benedict XVI at his midday audience.

The enormous crowd gathered in response to a call from the Italian lay organizations for a rally to counteract public criticism of the Holy Father. Pope Benedict thanked the participants who "enthusiastically joined this beautiful and spontaneous demonstration of faith and solidarity."

The Pope told the crowd that the Church must not fear public criticism. "The real enemy to be feared and fought is sin, spiritual evil, which at times, unfortunately, also infects members of the Church," he said.

In his remarks at the midday audience the Pope noted that Italy was one of the nations observing the feast of the Ascension on that day. The day's Gospel, he observed, recounts "the last separation of the Lord Jesus from his disciples." However, he quickly added, "this is not an abandonment, because He remains with them always in a new form."

Finally, noting that the universal Church was observing the World Day of Social Communications, the Pontiff reminded his audience of the message that he had released for the occasion, encouraging priests to "know how to use the communications media the make the life of the Church known and help the men and women of today discover the face of Christ." The Pope's message for the World Day of Social Communications, with its special focus on the Year for Priests, was released in January.

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