VATICAN CITY, 8 NOV 2009 (VIS) - At 9.30 a.m. today Benedict XVI arrived at the "Tenente Alfredo Fusco" military airport near the Italian city of Brescia. There he was welcomed by Bishop Luciano Monari of Brescia, by Gianni Letta, under secretary of the council of ministers who represented the Italian government, and by various other political, ecclesiastical and civil authorities.
Following the welcome ceremony the Pope travelled to the parish church of Our Lady of the Assumption in Botticino Sera where he venerated the mortal remains of St. Arcangelo Tadini (1846-1912), pastor of that parish, who was canonised on 26 April this year.
Having then arrived in Brescia, the Pope travelled by popemobile through the city's Piazza della Loggia where a plaque commemorates the eight victims of a bomb attack which took place there on 28 May 1974. At 10.15 a.m. the Holy Father visited the city's cathedral where he paused briefly before a monument dedicated to Paul VI, venerated the relics of St. Andrew and St. Benito, and prayed before the Blessed Sacrament.
At 10.30 a.m., in the nearby square named after Paul VI, which was crowded with faithful, he presided at Mass and pronounced a homily.
At the beginning of his homily the Pope expressed his joy at being able to celebrate the Eucharist "at the heart of the diocese of Brescia, which saw the birth and early education of Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini (Pope Paul VI), ... who consecrated his entire life to the Church.
"The Church", Pope Benedict added, "is a tangible spiritual organism which prolongs the oblation of the Son of God over time and space; an apparently insignificant sacrifice compared to the dimensions of the world and history, but decisive in the eyes of God. ... The Church, which is born ever and anew from the Eucharist, from the self-giving of Jesus, is the continuation of this gift, of this superabundance which finds expression in poverty, of this whole which offers itself in a fragment. It is the Body of Christ that incessantly gives of itself, a Body broken and shared, constantly adhering to the will of its Head".
Quoting then from Paul VI's "A Thought about Death", Benedict XVI highlighted his predecessor's "vision of a 'poor and free' Church. ... This", he affirmed, "is how the ecclesial community must be in order to communicate with modern mankind. The Church's meeting and dialogue with mankind of our times was something particularly close to Giovanni Battista Montini's heart throughout his life".
Paul VI "dedicated all his energies to serving a Church that was, as far as possible, conformed to her Lord Jesus Christ so that, encountering the Church, modern men and women may encounter Him, Christ, because it is of Him that they have most need", said Benedict XVI, who went on to ask: "How can we not see that the question of the Church - her importance in the plan of salvation and her relationship with the world - remains absolutely vital even today? And, indeed, that the growth of secularisation and globalisation have rendered this even more urgent in the face of the neglect of God, on the one hand, and of relations with non-Christian religions, on the other?"
The Holy Father also referred to the Year for Priests, reminding the clergy present of the Encyclical "Sacerdotalis caelibatus" in which Paul VI wrote: "The consecrated celibacy of sacred ministers actually manifests the virginal love of Christ for the Church, and the virginal and supernatural fecundity of this marriage".
"May the splendour of divine beauty shine out in each of our communities, and may the Church be a luminous sign of hope for humanity in the third millennium", the Pope concluded.
After Mass and before praying the Angelus, the Pope recalled how Paul VI "placed his own priesthood under the maternal protection of the Mother of Jesus, and this bond accompanied him all his life".
For this reason, during Vatican Council II, he proclaimed Mary Most Holy "as Mother of the Church, highlighting, with great ecumenical sensibility, that 'devotion to Mary ... is a means essentially ordained for guiding souls to Christ and so uniting them to the Father, in the love of the Holy Spirit'".
PV-ITALY/MASS ANGELUS/BRESCIA VIS 20091109 (720)