Explaining the Pope's reasons for making the effort, Father Raniero Cantalamessa, preacher for the Pontifical Household, emphasized the importance of the weekly audiences, which were started by Pius XI.
"I think he does so to give pleasure and joy to many people, who make this Wednesday meeting with the Pope the object of their visit to Rome," the Capuchin priest told Vatican Radio today.
"He certainly does cause great joy, and I know this from experience, as I have sometimes accompanied people who came from abroad to attend the meeting with the Pope, even non-Catholics," the preacher said. "They told me it was the most beautiful thing that happened to them in Rome."
"A non-Catholic said to me: 'One day , we will also be able to call that man "father."' It is certainly a moment to build the Kingdom," he added.
"The meeting with the Pope is a meeting with the messenger," Father Cantalamessa concluded. "People, perhaps, remember some words, but above all they remember this man who makes of the proclamation, of service, of the sharing of the Word of God in each circumstance, the object of life."