Benedict XVI Greets Sant'Egidio Community

On Group's 39th Anniversary

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VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI received in audience representatives and bishop-friends of the Community of Sant'Egidio on the occasion of the group's 39th anniversary.



The Pope said to the representatives today: "By putting prayer and the liturgy at the center of its existence, the Community of Sant'Egidio seeks to be close to those who are in situations of poverty and social marginalization.

"For a Christian, a person, though distant, is never a stranger."

Attending the audience were Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia, spiritual adviser of the Sant'Egidio Community, and the group's founder, Andrea Riccardi.

Commenting on the theme "The Globalization of Love" of the 9th Congress of Bishop-friends of the Sant'Egidio Community, held in Rome, the Holy Father said in his address that it is "a particularly timely" topic.

Referring to the group's presence in Africa, the Pontiff said that it is a "continent that I bear in my heart and that I hope will finally be able to experience a time of stable peace and genuine development."

The community celebrated its anniversary with a Mass at 6:30 p.m., presided over by Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The Sant'Egidio Community was founded in Rome in February 1968. Today it has more than 50,000 members, all volunteers, in more than 70 countries.