Almost one month ago, Pope Benedict XVI undertook a one-day papal visit that was both national (ie. within Italy) and international. I haven’t been able to devote much attention to it until now, but for the sake of completeness I want to do so now.
The Diocese of San Marino-Mentefeltro encompasses parts of two countries in the area southwest of Italy’s Po valley. Firstly, of course, Italy (parts of the region Emilia-Romagna) and secondly, the tiny and ancient Republic of San Marino. The latter nation being small enough and economically tied into the culture and economy of surrounding Italy to such an extent that it warrants being part of one ecclesiastical jurisdiction. The 61,000 Catholics of the diocese, led by Bishop Luigi Negri, hosted the papal entourage on 19 June, in San Marino and at the episcopal residence in Pennabilli.
Pope Benedict XVI spoke on four occasions, the texts of which may be read in full here. Below follow my usual papal soundbytes.
On the Trinity and love:
The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one because God is love and love is an absolute life-giving force; the unity created by love is a unity greater than a purely physical unity. The Father gives everything to the Son; the Son receives everything from the Father with gratitude; and the Holy Spirit is the fruit of this mutual love of the Father and the Son. The texts of today’s Mass speak of God and thus speak of love; they do not dwell so much on the three Persons, but rather on love which is the substance and, at the same time, the unity and trinity (Eucharistic Concelebration, Olympic stadium of Serravalle, San Marino).
The Face of God
Moses [...] asked God to reveal himself, to allow him to see his face. However, God did not show his face, but rather revealed his being, full of goodness, with these words: “The Lord, the Lord, a merciful and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Ex 34:6). This is the Face of God. This self-definition of God expresses his merciful love: a love that triumphs over sin, covers it, eliminates it. We can always be sure of this goodness which does not abandon us. There can be no clearer revelation. We have a God who refuses to destroy sinners and wants to show his love in an even more profound and surprising way to sinners themselves, in order to always offer them the possibility of conversion and forgiveness (idem).
The Trinity present on the Cross
[I]n the mystery of the cross, the three divine Persons are present: the Father, who gives his Only-Begotten Son for the salvation of the world; the Son, who totally fulfils the Father’s plan; the Holy Spirit — poured out by Jesus at the moment of his death — who comes to make us participants in divine life, to transform our existence so that it may be enlivened by divine love (idem).
[W]e know well that in the present context the family institution is being called into question, as if in the attempt to ignore its inalienable value. Those that suffer the consequences are the weakest social categories, especially the young generations that are more vulnerable and so more easily exposed to disorientation, situations of self-marginalization and the slavery of dependence. It is sometimes difficult for educational institutes to provide youth with adequate responses and when family support is lacking they often find natural insertion into the social fabric difficult. For this reason too it is important to recognize that the family, as God made it, is the milieu that best encourages harmonious growth and helps free and responsible individuals to develop, trained in the deep and enduring values (Meeting with members of Government, Congress and the Diplomatic Corps, Hall of the Great and General Council of the Public Palace, San Marino).
The important questions
The important questions we bear within us remain, they always resurface. Who are we? Where do we come from? Who do we live for? These questions are the highest sign of the transcendence of the human being and of our innate capacity not to stop at appearances. And it is precisely by looking at ourselves with truth, sincerity and courage that we understand the beauty, and also the precariousness of life and feel a dissatisfaction, a restlessness, that nothing material can assuage. In the end all promises often prove inadequate (Meeting with the young people of San Marino-Montefeltro, Pennabili).
The human experience
Dear young people, the human experience is a reality that we share, but it may be given various degrees of meaning. And it is here that is decided the way to direct one’s life, and here that one chooses to whom to entrust it, to whom to entrust oneself. The risk is always that of remaining confined to the world of things, of the immediate, the relative, the useful, of losing sensitivity to all that refers to our spiritual dimension. It is by no means a question of contempt for the use of reason or of rejecting scientific progress, far from it. Rather, it is a matter of understanding that each one of us is not only made in a “horizontal” dimension but also has a “vertical” dimension. Scientific data and technological instruments cannot replace the world of life, the horizons of meaning and freedom, of the richness of relations of friendship and love (idem).
The Lord goes with you!
Do not be afraid to face difficult situations, moments of crisis, the trials of life, for the Lord goes with you, he is with you! I encourage you to grow in friendship with him through frequent reading of the Bible and of the whole of Sacred Scripture, through faithful participation in the Eucharist as a personal encounter with Christ, through commitment within the ecclesial community, journeying on with a good spiritual director (idem).
 VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images
 ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images
 REUTERS/Giampiero Sposito