John Paul II's Concern for the Worker Reaffirmed
Pilgrims Mark Anniversary of Pope's Trip to Italy's Steel Industry
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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI recalled today the love and affection Pope John Paul II continually showed for the worker upon receiving in audience participants of a pilgrimage from the Diocese of Terni-Narni-Amelia, Italy.
The pilgrims traveled to Rome to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1981 visit of Pope John Paul II to Terni and its steel industry. The southern Umbrian is home to Italy's first steel plant, which the Polish Pontiff visited on March 19, the feast of St. Joseph.
Benedict XVI noted in his address the "love that [John Paul II] showed for the working world; we can almost hear him repeat the first words that he spoke shortly after he arrived at Terni: 'The main reason for this visit, which takes place on St. Joseph's day … is to bring a word of encouragement to all the workers and express my solidarity with them, my friendship and my affection.'"
Reiterating the sentiments of his predecessor, Benedict XVI affirmed his own concern for the plight of the worker in the midst of the current global economic crisis.
"It is important always to remember that work is a fundamental element of the person and society," the Pontiff stated. "If it is difficult to find work, the conditions for society itself -- living according to the demands of the common good -- becomes threatened."
The Holy Father noted the benefits of work, which "helps us to be closer to God and to others," and the dignity of work that stems from the fact that "Jesus himself was a worker, indeed he spent most of his earthly life in Nazareth in Joseph's shop."
Benedict XVI recalled the words of John Paul II in Terni some 30 years ago when he spoke of the "Gospel of Work," saying that it was "written above all by the fact that the Son of God, becoming man, worked with his own hands. In fact, his work, which was a physical work, occupied the majority of his life on this earth, and it thus entered into the work of his redemption of man and the world."
"Already this speaks to us of dignity of work," Benedict XVI explained, "indeed of the specific dignity of human work that is inserted into the mystery itself of redemption."
Source of solidarity
The Holy Father praised the efforts of Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia to promote the Sunday Eucharist in the diocese, and he encouraged the pilgrims present to turn to the Eucharist in order to build a more just and solidary society.
"In [Bishop Paglia's] first pastoral letter, 'The Eucharist Saves the World,' your bishop indicated the source that you must draw from and return to in order to live the joy of the faith and have passion for improving the world," the Pope explained. "The Sunday Eucharist has thus become the fulcrum of the diocese's pastoral action.
"It is a decision that has born its fruits; participation in the Sunday Eucharist has increased, from which the diocese's commitment to your land takes its start."
He said that the diocese "feels the responsibility of standing with you to communicate to you the hope of the Gospel and the strength to build a more just and worth society for man," and that it does this by turning to the "source," which is the Eucharist.
"From the Eucharist," Benedict XVI continued, "in which Christ makes himself present in his supreme act of love for all of us, we learn to live in society as Christians, to make it more welcoming, more solidary, more attentive to the needs of everyone -- especially the weakest -- richer in love."
"Living in a 'eucharistic way' means living as one Body, one family, one society bound together by love," he said. "The exhortation to be 'eucharistic' is not a mere moral invitation addressed to individuals, but it is much more: it is the exhortation to participate in Jesus' dynamism itself, Jesus who offers his life for others so that all might become one."
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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-32137?l=english