Ascension Sunday Plea for Use of Internet

Pope´s Address at Regina Caeli

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 12, 2002 (Zenit.org).- This is a translation of the address John Paul II gave before leading pilgrims in praying the midday Regina Caeli today at St. Peter´s Square.



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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. In many countries, among them Italy, the solemnity of the Ascension of Christ has been postponed until today. With this feast we remember that Jesus, after his resurrection, presented himself alive to the disciples for 40 days (Acts 1:3), at the end of which, having led them to the Mount Olivet, "he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight" (Acts 1:9). Risen and ascended to heaven, the Redeemer constitutes for the faithful the anchor of salvation and comfort in the daily commitment to the service of truth and peace, of justice and freedom. Ascending to heaven, he reopens for us the way toward the blessed Homeland, but not to alienate us from history, but rather to give the breath of hope to our path.

2. In fact, we have to confront the realities of this world every day. We also recall the World Communications Day, which we celebrate today.

The most recent advancements in communications and information have put the Church in front of previously unheard-of possibilities for evangelization. That is why this year I thought to present a very-current theme: "Internet: A New Forum for Proclaiming the Gospel."

We must enter into this modern and every more replete communications network with realism and confidence, convinced that, if it is used with competence and conscientious responsibility, it can offer useful opportunities for spreading the Gospel message.

There is no need, therefore, to worry about "putting out to sea" in the vast informational ocean. One can also reach the heart of men and women of the new millennium through the Good News itself.

3. Nevertheless, we must never forget that the secret of every apostolic action is, first of all, prayer. After the Ascension, it is precisely in intense prayer that the disciples lived in the Cenacle awaiting the Holy Spirit promised by Christ. With them was Mary, the Mother of Jesus (Acts 1:14). While we prepare to celebrate next Sunday the solemn feast of Pentecost, we, with Mary, invoke the Holy Spirit to instill in Christians a renewed missionary push and to guide the steps of humanity along the path of solidarity and peace.

[Translation by ZENIT; original text in Italian]

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[After praying the Regina Caeli, the Pope addressed these words to the pilgrims]

We have received with relief the news that the Basilica of the Nativity in Bethlehem has been restored to God and the faithful.

I thank all those who have contributed to return the holy place its true religious identity. I send a particular salute to the communities of Franciscans, Greeks and Armenian Orthodox who with notable sacrifices have been faithful custodians of the sanctuary. To the people of Bethlehem and its surroundings I send my hearty encouragement to re-embark on the path of faith and hope in God, who became so close to mankind in your land.

My special envoy, His Eminence Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, today is the spokesman in Bethlehem for my sentiments.

The universal message of Bethlehem is love, justice, reconciliation and peace. On these foundations a future can be built respectful of the rights of the Israeli and Palestinian peoples, with mutual confidence.

[Translation by ZENIT; original text in Italian]