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8/31/2007 1:13 AM
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Youth in Loreto Head to Confessionals:
Priest Working Around-the-Clock

LORETO, Italy, AUG. 30, 2007 ( A volunteer village is the temporary home for youth involved in preparing Benedict XVI's trip to Loreto. And the center of the village is its chapel.

The Pope will arrive to Loreto on Saturday for the "Agora" meeting with youth.

The meeting with the Pope is the culminating event in the first part of the Italian bishops' three-year project to give pastoral emphasis to youth ministry.

The project aims to increase young people's involvement in the mission of the Church.

Father Basito, of the Community of the Disciples and Apostles of the Holy Spirit, is at the village to minister to the youth.

"I am amazed by the quality of young people," he said.

The priest's ministry has been largely devoted to hearing confessions.

"There are young people who seek me out because they want to go to confession, and I have even worked 'overtime' and heard confessions until 2 a.m.," he said. "Here one perceives the presence of the Holy Spirit.

"There was a need here for a discreet and fraternal presence and I offered to come,” explained the friar, who comes from Palestrina, near Rome. He is assisted in helping the youth by the Oblate Sisters of the Virgin Mary of Fatima.

Father Basito spends time with the youth, in what he calls "a great atmosphere" and then heads back to hearing confessions.

"I make myself available: I have no other tasks because some confessions last for hours, I never look at my watch," he said. "It is nice that the young people search me out. Some make appointments, because they understand that confession is a meeting with the Lord and many are thanking him for these days."

"They amaze me," Father Basito said, "and that is the best part of this vocation, because I touch with my hand the action of the Holy Spirit."

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/31/2007 5:04 AM]
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8/31/2007 4:05 PM
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Here is a translation of an article in Avvenire today:

Homecoming in Loreto
By Francesco Ognibene

It is not just a figure of speech. There really are places where the very stones speak. And Loreto is certainly one of the most eloquent.

A minuscule part of the Holy Land is here, surrounded today by the joy and merriment of young people who have come to meet Pope Benedict tomorrow and Sunday. It is a noisy but tranquil gathering under a piece of heaven that means family, friendship and home to all pilgrims who come here.

The crude bricks of the House of Mary enclose a space small as a womb which this week has been welcoming thousands of youth who are here for the weekend Agora.

They have come to Loreto from all parts of Italy and Europe, attracted to a physical place that ceases to be just a material structure but the external form of history - in which each one encounters his Christian identity, each one with a knapsack laden with individual requests and prayers, and questions about oneself, the future, life.

These stones speak to everyone. From the Holy House, the young people come out as if relieved of burden. Indeed, where else might they feel at home and welcome if not in the house of the Mother?

It is fascinating to watch them as they first arrive, taking in the measure of this space that is so tiny but dense with significance. They take a few uncertain steps, and then they lean trustfully on the wall, stroke the bricks, sit on the floor, often overcome with emotion as they understand - perhaps for the first time - that faith is no abstraction, doctrine or idea, because here is a humble structure of rough stone that speaks to them of the divine becoming human.

Then they leave and breathe again. They have arrived. What else do they have to seek?

But in the spiritual geography of Agora 2007, not only Loreto speaks the language of the heart, and perhaps it is this that has been the major surprise of the days which we have spent amid the participants, all of a piece with the uninterrupted stream of pilgrims that go into the holy house.

Every diocese that has played host to participants from Italy and 50 other countries for this festive encounter that marks the end of summer has offered the young people its own holy places, in addition to their homes, where their guests can experience a harbor of the faith.

Far from being reduced to mere museums of a silenced religion, these holy places give a sense of 'coming home' - places like Sant'Appolinare in Classe, San Gabriele dell'Addolorata, the Basilica of the Holy Face of Manoppello, the abbey of Fiastra, the hermitage of Gamogna, the sanctuary of Maria Goretti in Corinaldo, the cathedral of Orvieto, cathedrals of timeless beauty, monasteries and chapels.

In the host regions of Romagna, Umbria, Maqrche and Abruzo, there is a network of pilgrim routes that have been well-trod in the past several days leading to the Agora.

It is an Italy that speaks to its youth with its true voice, that of its Christian history which is not only origin or roots, but one which lives and breathes.

Guiding these pilgrims towards Montorso where they will all be assembled tomorrow and Sunday is the natural compass of their spiritual searching and questions about life. If they wish, they know they can free themselves of the endless chatter that surrounds their daily life and make the informed choices that matter, without any compromises. And that it is worth doing so.

In inviting them to come to Loreto, Pope Benedict XVI has urged them to take this step and face their questions in tranquillity and without haste.

So the three days they have spent visiting local churches and sanctuaries have prepared them for this, allowing them to discover that in their country, the stones speak and tell them things other than than what they usually hear.

This has prepared them to listen to Benedict this weekend who will speak to them as a father, the father of one large family.

No matter how many of them will be there this weekend, or the choreography that will shape the events and that they themselves will impose, the banners, the songs, the night of vigil.

They will all find thmeselves at home, and that is what matters.

Avvenire, 31 agosto 2007


40,000 more headed to Loreto
by train today and tomorrow

The Italian State Railways said today they expect some 40,000 passengers to be taking 107 special trains they have scheduled for today and the weekend along the main and local rail lines in the Marche region.

These trains will supplement the 60 regular daily trains that run along the Adriatic coast.

Additionally, 8 charter trains are coming from Milan, Pescara, Brescia and Bologna, while six long-distance trains plying the Adriatic route will make special local stops in Loreto and nearby Porto Recanati during these three days.

Railway officials are advising all passengers to take their return trips home from the same station where they arrived.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/1/2007 4:09 AM]
8/31/2007 8:14 PM
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EWTN coverage
EWTN is covering the Apostolic Visit to Loreto.

It starts at 17.00 London time tomorrow - Saturday - for the meeting with young people. The Mass will be shown live on Sunday.

See for details.

Thank you for the full story, Teresa, and the lovely photos and logos!
Mary x [SM=g27811]

Thank you also for documenting all the pastoral visits, starting with Bari. All I had from that visit were the AP and other photos on the Yahoo news site. I now have a DVD made by a friend- it only goes up to the Offertory of the Mass, but I'll try to make some captures, when I have time.
Mary x [SM=g27811]

8/31/2007 9:52 PM
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Loreto (Ancona), Aug. 31 (Apcom) - "The young people taking part in the Agora of Loreto are not pre-fabricated - I don't think their problems are any different from people of the same age," said Mons. Giuseppe Betori, secretary-general of the Italian bishops conference CEI, at a new conference on the eve of the 2007 youth assembly sponsored by the CEI.

"We hope through this event to give a word of trust and hope for all contemporary men," Betori said.

He noted that there was "very great online registration from young people and individuals who do not belong to any parish or church organizations, which shows a need for this kind of encounter."

He pointed out that this is the first stage of a three-year CEI pastoral program for the youth - 2007 is devoted to listening to the Gospel; 2008 will be for the young people to propose the Gospel to other young people, and 2009 will be devoted to cultural events inspired by the Gospel."

He characterized the Agora as an example of close collaboration among the local churches of Italy with a view to an exchange of experiences among different communities with different problems.

"We want young people to experience the Church as a welcoming home, so that they may live their faith as a common patrimony. The youth should experience the Church as a welcoming home, as welcoming as the House of Nazareth was for the Virgin Mary," Betori said.

As of yesterday, some 100,000 participants from all over Italy had arrived in Loreto, most of them fresh from spending a few days with host families in 32 dioceses of the Marche region and 3 other adjoining regions (Emilia-Romagna, Umbria and Abruzzo).

In addition, there were 650 representatives of European and Mediterranean countries, including Cologne, the host of World Youth Day 2005, and Sydney, host of World Youth Day 2008, for which this Agora is considered a preparatory event for Italian youth.

The Italian government has classified the Agora as a 'great national event' which qualifies it for state assistance particularly to insure peace and order.

Mons. Antony Fisher, secretary-general of the organizing committee for Sydney's WYD 2008, is leading the Australian delegation to Loreto.

"This is a learning experience for us," he said. "Italians are very good and very experienced at organizing mega-events. And, of course, we are also here to invite everyone to come to Sydney next year."

Archbishop Gianni Danzi, Pontifical Legate to Loreto and Archbishop of the Prelature of Loreto (equivalent to a diocese), as well as regional officials responsible for security, transportation and health arrangements also spoke at the press conference.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 8/31/2007 9:55 PM]
9/1/2007 12:55 AM
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The citizens of Loreto are counting the hours which separates them from their collective embrace of Benedict VXI at the Piazza della Madonna of their famous basilica.

This embrace will take place at 5 p.m. on Sunday before the Holy Father leaves the city after a 24-hour visit. As a Cardinal, Joseph Ratzinger has presided at a Eucharistic Adoration and Blessing of the Sick in this Piazza, as well as a nighttime Procession of Our Lady of Loreto.

"It's been a year of preparations since the government recognized the Agora as a 'great national event'," says Mayor Moreno Pieroni. "The city has worked day and night for this great event, and we are now ready to live it. These days, all Loretans will give the best of themselves to make all these young people feel they are at home. And just as most of the homes in the area have welcomed this young people, Loreto is now ready to welcome the Pope."

Pieroni said that Loreto has shown that its vocation, more than ever, is 'Italy's open door to the youth of the world'.

Il Messaggero, 31 agosto 2007


Click 2x to enlarge
"Qui gli angeli innalzaro il santo albergo,
che già Maria col santo Figlio accolse
e il portar sovra i nembi e sovra l'acque"
Torquato Tasso
[Here the angels raised the sacred home
where Mary and her divine Son dwelt
and carried it above the cloudes and overseas.]

Loreto (11,000 inhabitants) is the realization of a typical case of a Shrine generating a town, defining its characteristic features and funcions. Consequently, over the centuries the vicissitude of Loreto have almost always coincided with those of its Shrine.

Here are some of the town's main features:

Piazza of the Basilica Giovanni XXIII
The Sixteenth Century Portal built for the facade of the Basilica from a design attributed by some to Bramante and by others to Antonio da Sangallo the Younger.

In 1537 Nerucci built it into the facade of the Basilica, whence it was removed and placed in its present position in 1580. It is admirable for its exquisitely classical style, its graceful proportions and for the elegant and restrained relief of its decorations, that bring it into relief against the austere grey earthware walls of the Palace.

Across the square the visitor can admire the Monument to Pope John XXIII that gives the Piazza its current name. It was commissioned by the people of Loreto to commemorate the historical pilgrimage of the Pope to the Holy House on October 4, 1962.

It is the work of Alessandro Monteleone (1897-1967) who was unable to complete it according to the initial project thet had provided for a base of 1.35 mt. The single sculpted panel he completed depicts Pope John in the act of Blessing.

Piazza Leopardi or Piazza dei Galli

One side of the Piazza is a Long Portico Gallery built in the second half of the 17th century, when Vanvitelli's bell-tower was being built. It seems that in olden times it served as a shelter for the pilgrims who, arriving at the Shrine at night, found the city gates already closed.

Bastion of the Comune

On the far side of Sixtus V Road towers the Bastion of the Comune, built in 1518-1519 by Cristoforo Resse from his own design or, according to others, from a plan of Andrea Sansovino or of Antonio da Sangallo the Younger, and commissioned by Pope Leo X who was concerned about the incursions of the Turks from the nearby Adriatic Sea.

Roman Gate

This was built about 1590 from a design of Pompeo Floriani, when it was also adorned with two statues of Prophets carved by Simone Cioli, initially intended for the Marble Screen of the Holy House (1538-1541).

Corso Boccalini

From Piazza Garibaldi one enters Corso Boccalini, named after the illustrious writer (born in Loreto 1556, died 1613), called Via dei Coronari until 1889.

Lotto Square

Lotto Square opens beneath the magnificent apses of the Basilica. The idea that first springs to mind is of a basilica-fortress, with its sentry walls along corbels dotted with machicolations and arrow-slits between separating merlons.

In this superb work by Baccio Pontelli (1487-1488) the practical requirement of military defence is in perfect harmony with Renaissance aesthetic elegance.

The Castellan Walls

On the south side stand the Castellan Walls and the Gate Tower, both realized by Cristoforo Resse probably from a design by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger (1517-1520).

Piazzale Giovanni Paolo II

Passing through the Marina Gate one reaches a balcony piazza, from where the visitor can enjoy a view, magnificent in its variety and vividness, stretching out to the sea and Mount Conero. The square was recently been embellished by a statue of St. Pio of Pretrelcina.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/1/2007 12:58 AM]
9/1/2007 2:18 AM
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Pope attends eco-friendly youth festival

By NICOLE WINFIELD, Associated Press Writer
Fri Aug 31, 4:05 PM ET

Pope Benedict XVI is taking a new step in the Vatican's environmental campaign, leading a youth festival this weekend where participants will use recycled prayer books, biodegradable plates and backpacks made from reused nylon.

About 300,000 young Roman Catholics are expected to attend the festival in Loreto, home of Italy's most famous Marian shrine, in a run-up to next year's World Youth Day in Sydney, Australia.

The festival coincides with the church's "Save Creation Day" and has a decidedly eco-friendly theme. Each participant will be given a knapsack made of recycled nylon containing a hand-cranked battery recharger, three sets of biodegradable plates and three bags for recycling trash.

Prayer books for Benedict's Sunday Mass are made of recycled paper, hydrogen cars will be on display and trees will be planted in areas of southern Italy recently devastated by forest fires to make up for the carbon dioxide emissions generated by the festival, organizers said.

"The message about caring for the environment will be entrusted not just with words, but with the young people's gestures and the things they use," said the Rev. Paolo Giulietti.

The Italian company Novamont said the use of 400,000 of its biodegradable plates would amount to a reduction of C02 emissions of eight tons. As a result, it said, Loreto will be an "environmentally low-impact" event.

The Vatican has been going greener under Benedict, installing photovoltaic cells on the roof of its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and joining a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions.

Just this week, the pope bemoaned the destruction wrought by the recent forest fires in Greece and Italy, saying the blazes destroyed "humanity's precious environmental patrimony."

Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, frequently spoke out about the need to care for God's creation. And the spiritual leader of the world's Orthodox Christians, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, is known as the "green patriarch" for his environmental initiatives.

The head of the Italian bishops' conference, Monsignor Angelo Bagnasco, told Vatican Radio it was the responsibility of the church to teach its young about caring for the planet.

The youth rally has a poignant aspect: Loreto was dear to John Paul and was the site of his final pilgrimage in September 2004.

The city is famous for the Holy House, a simple stone cottage that Catholic tradition says was the home in Nazareth where the Virgin Mary grew up and received the annunciation.

Legend has it that angels miraculously transported the structure from the Holy Land, where it had come under threat during the turmoil of the Crusades, and brought it to the Loreto area in central Italy near the Adriatic coast in 1294.

Benedict is due to visit the cottage for a moment of prayer Saturday night after taking questions from youths. On Sunday, he will celebrate a morning Mass, then return to the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome, for the rest of his summer holiday.

The Loreto meeting, organized by the Italian bishops' conference, is in many ways an Italian warm-up for World Youth Day, to be held in Sydney next July 15-20. The 80-year-old Benedict is expected to journey to Australia for the event.

9/1/2007 2:42 AM
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'Dear young people, you are here
to discover the sense of life':
A welcome

by Mons. Gianni Danzi,
Archbishop of Loreto

To meet the Holy Father means to meet the Vicar of Christ on earth, or as St. Catherine of Siena said, "our sweet Christ on earth."

Therefore it is an experience of faith with great depth and intensity
which involves our entire being and places us in a very special way in touch with the mystery of a God who became man, who became one of us, except in sin, in order to live a total solidarity with mankind, with every human being.

Therefore, my heart - like that of all Loretans, and I think, of the whole church in Italy - is living through profound emotions in anticipation of this weekend encounter and feels the need to prepare itself in prayer and in silence.

Pope Benedict XVI began his Pontificate reminding the world that God is Love. "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (no. 1).

The 2007 Agora of Italian Youth is a renewal, a new encounter with that Person who lives and 'works' among us, Jesus Christ.

The 2007 Agora reminds the youth and brings to their hearts the truth of the Gospel as the way to live an experience of Love which illumines and reveals the mystery behind every particular detail of one's life.

The 2007 Agora is an event led by Benedict XVI which can reveal to every man the true horizon of one's existence within which we can grasp the true sense of life and therefore 'the decisive direction' that leads to genuine freedom, true love, and the capacity to construct relations of peace, solidarity and fraternity.

In this way, our beloved Holy Father makes us understand that the Gospel is, above all, the most eloquent sign that God loved us first with an eternal love and ardently wants our response.

He reminds us that the Gospel is not primarily a 'commandment', but a word of love that God tells each one of us all over through his son Jesus.

Benedict XVI write: "Since God has loved us first (cfr Jn 3,10), love is no longer just a 'commandment', but our response to the gift of love with which God draws near to us" (Deus caritas est, no. 1).

Dear young people, with the words of John Paul II, I say to you: "Do not be afraid. Open wide the doors to Christ" and you will discover the beauty of life!

+ Archbishop and Pontifical Legate to Loreto

Il Messaggero, 31 agosto 2007

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/1/2007 2:56 AM]
9/1/2007 10:59 AM
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9/1/2007 11:00 AM
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September 1-2, 2007


Saturday, Sept. 1

16.10 Leave the heliport at Castel Gandolfo for Loreto.

17.15 Arrive at John Paul II Center in the Montorso district of Loreto.
Transfer to Popemobile to get to the stage in Montorso plain.

-The Holy Father will respond to questions from the youth.
- Address by the Holy Father.


TV link to Montorso, where the youth will join the prayer
which willl start their all-night vigil.
- Prayer of the Holy Father.

Sunday, Sept. 2

- Homily of the Holy Father.
- Message from the Holy Father.


16.30 At the Loggia of the Pontifical Legation in Loreto
Greeting to the organizing committee and local officials.

At the Square in front of the Basilica.
- Address by the Holy Fahter.

17.45 Depart by helicopter from John Paul II Center in Montorso.

18.45 Arrive in Castel Gandolfo.

[The program omits the interval between the end of the Angelus and the Pope's return to the Pontifical Legation in Loreto.]


Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Loreto on the occasion of the "Agorà of the Italian youth.
Prayer Vigil with the youth and the Holy Father at “Piana di Montorso”.
Sept 1, 12 PM LIVE
Sept 1, 11 PM Encore

Pope Benedict XVI's pilgrimage to Loreto, Holy Mass presided over by His Holiness Benedict XVI
followed by the recitation of the Angelus at “Piana di Montorso”
Sept. 2, 3:30 AM LIVE
Sept. 2, 12:30 PM LIVE

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/1/2007 2:05 PM]
9/1/2007 12:20 PM
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Here is a translation of Corriere della Sera's article today on the Agora:

Two days in Loreto:
The Pope and 300,000 youth

By Gian Guido Vecchi

LORETO (Ancona) — The Agora of Italian Youth, the 'piazza' on the plain of Montorso between the Sanctuary of Loreto and the sea, accommodates an expected 300,000 youth today and tomorrow in an encounter with Pope Benedict XVI.

Unfortunately, the weather forecast promises rain - which means lots of mud in the open field.

But the important thing was underscored yesterday evening by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, who - because of heavy rain - said Mass for some 8,000 early arrivals at the indoor Plazzetto dello Sport of the John Paul II Youth Center adjoining the assembly field.

"I would rather speak of an Agora for adults: the true subject of this event are the older people who are absent, who should learn to overcome their evasions, their fears, sometimes even their counter-testimony, and offer themselves as models for the young."

He pointed out that the Church in Italy has special objectives for the youth, but "we all should examine ourselves and learn to place ourselves in their shoes, to know their problems" and "to listen to them" as the Pope does, who this afternoon will answer some of their questions.

"Young people need to have before them a person who gives them security, strength and encouragement," Tettamanzi said, "and in the Christian community, this person is the Pope."

Benedict XVI will arrive in Loreto in the late afternoon, and from 6 p.m. will answer questions, then lead off the all-night Prayer Vigil, which will include Scripture readings and testimonials by youths and adults, including Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, the missionary who spent 39 days as a captive of Muslim rebels in southern Philippines.

At 9 p.m., the Pope will proceed to the Holy House of Nazareth inside the Loreto Basilica for private prayers. In a brief TV hook-up to the assembly in Montorso, the Pope will say a prayer for the Agora.

He will be spared the 'happening' prepared by RAI state TV to 'jazz up' its primetime telecast: popular Italian entertainers like Claudio Baglione, Lucio Dalla, Andrea Bocelli and the rock group Vibrazione will alternate musical numbers with other theatrical performers who will be reading spiritual passages to the accompaniment of an orchestra.

Many have questioned why the Italian bishops conference CEI, organizers of the Agora, agreed to adulterate the spiritual gathering with pop entertainment.

Especially after the rock group Vibrazione issued a statement yesterday saying "The Church should recognize its errors and open itself to dialog with the youth." [In Italy, it appears endemic that any entertainer makes similar statements - generally uninformed, often anti-clerical - about the Church.]

The entertainment program, which precedes a night of reflection and prayer, sounds somewhat bizarre. Enzo Bianchi, the lay prior of the Bose monastic community, said yesterday that "The modalities of such encounters need to be brought up to date...This is a formula that dates to the 1970s with the Taize community and since 'instituted' into the Catholic Church during the Wojtyla years - but it has been over a quarter century!"

Bianchi conceded that Benedict XVI's interaction with the youth by way of direct dialog "is already a sign of change, because the risk in all these mega-assemblies is to diminish such a confrontation."

Then, there's the question of pop music. Bianchi notes the Pope is lucky he has not heard any of the Masses with electric guitars and amps, parochial 'rap' with tambourines, and a repertory of songs with which by comparison, the WYD pop hymn from 2000 'sounds like a Bach cantata'.

Bianchi says, "The youth today are looking for more essential things, for a congruence with liturgical tradition which has its specific reasons. We cannot use 'worldly' music, even in a positive sense, for something which should speak to us of the Other. God is this Other, and he needs a different music, different words, a different approach."

He continues, "The young people already find this pop music everywhere, so why are they being offered an entertainment show? For the prayer vigil, the program should have kept only to sacred music."

[But why didn't anyone confront Mons. Giuseppe Betori, secretary-general of the CEI and chief organizer of the Agora, at his news conference yesterday about this issue?]

Corriere della sera, 1 settembre 2007

On the pop music aspect, PETRUS has carried editorial comments against it, quoted today in Libero's story on the Agora. The relevant part is translated here:

... Angela Ambrogetti of PETRUS has a provocatory suggestion: "For those who are in Montorso, it will be difficult to 'avoid' this mega-concert a la Primo Maggio [the traditional open-air free pop-rock concert in Rome on May 1 - which this year made headlines because a little-known comedian used his spiel to mock the Pope]. But those who are at home have a choice: they can just turn off the TV in favor of praying the rosary together as a family. It would be a beautiful testimonial of courage and a tribute to the young people who wish to be taken seriously."

In any case, the Agora is an event with huge numbers - such as the 20.6 million euros it cost to stage it, as Mons. Betori said in his news confernce yesterday.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/1/2007 12:33 PM]
9/1/2007 3:36 PM
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Avvenire, of course, has extensive coverage of the Agora in today's issue. Fortunately, much of their background stories on Loreto, the Holy House and Cardinal Ratzinger's previous visits to Loreto have previously been posted in this thread. Will post any additional material when translated.

Photos from Yahoo's newsphoto service:

===================================================================== started its detailed reportage of the Agora yesterday. Photos from the official site

Blue tents housing volunteer workers for the Agora
on the edge of the Montorso assembly area;
the Adriatic Sea is in the background. Below, the main stagewhich will also have the altar for Sunday's Papal Mass

MONTORSO (Loreto), August 31 ( - The heart of the event is the encounter tomorrow between Benedict XVI and Italian youth.

The plain of Montorso, this great expanse just outside the gates of Loreto, started receiving hundreds of thousands of Italian youth today, starting with those who lived the past few days as guests with families of 32 dioceses in the regions adjoining Loreto.

The 2007 Agora of Italian Youth starts officialy around 5 p.m. with the arrival of Benedict XVI in Montorso. A question and answer session with the Pope will precede an all-night vigil of prayer and reflection. [Interrupted by an entertainment-cum-testimonial show for RAI's primetime audience].

The space has been divided into eight theme areas, called 'fountains', where the parricipants can pray, reflect and debate issues of interest to them.

August 31, 11:00 a.m.

Mons. Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops confernce (CEI), tell bishops and priests that they should be "credible, joyous, convinced and enthusastic teachers and witnesses of the Gospel, because this is not a question of age but of the spirit".

In his homily at this pre-Agora Mass, the Archbishop of Genova said, "It is a great pleasure to be here in the House of Mary, a sacred temple for all of Italy, as the vanguard for our youth, to precede them here in prayer. Let us pray that this event in Loreto may leave its mark on the hearts of our young people, our dioceses, our nation."

He said that the encounter with the Holy Father Saturday afternoon is "an encounter of faith and joy, an occasion to nvoke grace for our youth so that may remainf ascinated by Christ, so that their faith may grow, along with their generosity, and the resources of their heart."

"As pastors," he sasid, "we want to be messengers and examplkes for the youth of a great secret: happiness in the fullness of the human spirit.

August 31, 1 p.m.

The soil is humid and the grass is dry in Montorso. The sun is out and there's a pleasant breeze from the sea. Thousands of youths have arrived and have taken places in front of the giant stage. Galgs, streamers, tents serve as place markers.

Some are taking the sun, other catch up on their sleep, some are reading, some are putting up tents, and many are making the rounds to acquiant themselves with available facilities and services.

Bottled water is available to anyone on request, everyone seems to be happy and at peace, while on the stage, various musical groups from different regions rehearse or perform.

Stage lighting and effects are rehearsed for tonight's event.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/1/2007 5:55 PM]
9/1/2007 8:11 PM
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The Holy Father left Castel Gandolfo by helicopter at 16:10 and arrived at the heliport of the John Paul II Youth Center in Montorso, Loreto, at 17:15 as scheduled.

He was welcomed by Mons. Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops conference and archbishop of Genova; Mons. Gianni Dani, Archbishop Prelate of Loreto; Vice President Francesco Rutelli, concurrently Minister of Cultural Assets and Tourism, representing the Italian government; Giuseppe Balboni Acqua, Italy's ambassador to the Holy See; Mons. Giuseppe Bertello, Apostolic Nuncio in Italy; Gian Mario Spacca, president of the Marche region; Giovanni D'Onofrio, prefect of Ancona; Moreno Pieroni, mayor of Loreto; Patricia Casagrande Esposto, president of Ancona province; and Fr. Francesco Pierpaoli, director of the John Paul II Youth Center.


Fr. Giancarlo Bossi spoke briefly in behalf of all missionaries, and thanks the Pope for his prayers during
his hour of need. Right, he finally gets to meet Pope Benedict

Here are the wire-service reports in English:

Pope decries collapse of marriages

LORETO, Italy, Sept. 1 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI decried the collapse of marriages, telling tens of thousands of young Catholics Saturday that he was praying that a crisis in traditional family values doesn't become an "irreversible failure."

Benedict urged an estimated 300,000 young pilgrims who trekked to Loreto for a weekend rally to have faith that they can succeed in marriage even though so many others had failed.

"There is so much failure of love all around us!" Benedict told the crowd, camped out on a vast, dusty field. "How many couples don't succeed and separate? How many families end up in pieces? How many kids, even among you, have seen their parents separate and divorce?"

The weekend festival, designed to reinvigorate Italian Catholic youth, coincides with the Catholic Church's "Save Creation Day," and has a decidedly eco-friendly theme. Participants were given bright orange thermal packs made out of recycled nylon — containing their food for the weekend and biodegradable plates. They were also given a hand-cranked battery charger, three bags for recycling trash and prayer books for the Sunday Mass made out of recycled paper.

The Vatican has been going greener under Benedict, installing photovoltaic cells on the roof of its main auditorium to convert sunlight into electricity and joining a reforestation project aimed at offsetting its CO2 emissions.

Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, frequently spoke out about the need to care for God's creation.

On Saturday, Benedict listened to the young people's stories about their broken homes and living on the periphery of society and assured them that he and the entire Roman Catholic Church were praying "that the crisis that is affecting families today doesn't become an irreversible failure."

Benedict has often bemoaned the collapse of family values and has spoken of the need to support "traditional" marriage between a man and a woman. The Italian bishops conference — which organized the rally — has mounted a major campaign to support traditional families and oppose proposed Italian legislation giving same-sex couples new rights.

Loreto is famous for the Holy House, a simple stone cottage that Catholic tradition says was the home in Nazareth where the Virgin Mary grew up and received the annunciation.

Legend has it that angels miraculously transported the structure from the Holy Land, where it had come under threat during the turmoil of the Crusades, and brought it to the Loreto area in central Italy near the Adriatic coast in 1294.

Benedict was to pray before the shrine late Saturday, and then return to the vast campground to celebrate Mass on Sunday morning. Many of the 300,000 youths planned to spend the night camped out on the field, where singer Andrea Bocelli and a host of others were entertaining them through the night.

Loreto was dear to Pope John Paul II, and was the site of his final pilgrimage, in September 2004.

The Loreto meeting was the first of three annual meetings sponsored by Italian bishops and is in many ways a warm-up for World Youth Day, to be held in Sydney next July 15-20. The 80-year-old Benedict is expected to journey to Australia for the event.

Pope says Mother Teresa
felt "God's silence"

Sept. 1 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict said on Saturday that even the late Mother Teresa of Calcutta "suffered from the silence of God" despite her immense charity and faith.

The Pope, addressing a youth rally in central Italy, referred to a new book that reveals that the Roman Catholic nun was deeply tormented about her faith and suffered periods of doubt about God.

It is significant that the Pope mentioned Mother Teresa's torment about God's silence as not being unusual because there was some speculation that the letters could hurt the procedure to make her a saint.

"All believers know about the silence of God," he said in unprepared remarks. "Even Mother Teresa, with all her charity and force of faith, suffered from the silence of God," he said.

He said believers sometimes had to withstand the silence of God in order to understand the situation of people who do not believe.

Due out on September 4, the book, "Mother Teresa: Come Be My Light" is a collection of letters written to colleagues and superiors over 66 years.

The ethnic Albanian nun, who dedicated her life to poor, sick and dying in India, died in 1997 aged 87.

Mother Teresa had wanted all her letters destroyed, but the Vatican ordered they be preserved as potential relics of a saint, according to a spokeswoman for Doubleday, the U.S. publisher of the book.

Mother Teresa has been beatified but has not yet been made a saint.

Time magazine, which has first serial rights, published excerpts on its Web site last month.

When the German-born pontiff visited the former Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz last year, he publicly asked why God was silent when 1.5 million victims, mostly Jews, died there.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/2/2007 2:11 PM]
9/2/2007 1:47 AM
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Here is a translation of the Pope's address at the Encounter with the youth of Agora 2007 early tonight:

My dear young people who make up the hope of the Church in Italy!

I am happy to meet you in this quite singular place, on this special evening, rich with prayers, song, silences, hopes and profound emotions.

This valley, where in the past, even my beloved predecessor John Paul II met most of you probably, has become your agora, your public square, without walls or barriers, in which thousands of roads converge and depart.

I have listened with attention to those who spoke in the name of all of you. In this place of peaceful, authentic and joyous encounter, you have arrived for thousands of different reasons: some because you belong to a group, some invited by friends, some because of intimate conviction, some with some doubts in your hearts, some out of simple curiosity.

But whatever reason led you here, I can say that it is the Holy Spirit who brought us here together. Yes, the Spirit guided you here. You have come here with your doubts and certainties, your joys and concerns. And now, it is up to you to open your hearts and offer everything to Jesus.

Tell him: "Here I am - certainly not yet as you would want me to be, I cannot even understand all of me myself, but with your help, I am ready to follow you. Lord Jesus, tonight, I wish to speak to you, adopting the interior attitude and the trustful abandon of that young girl who, more than 2000 years ago, said Yes to the Father who chose her to be your Mother."

The Father chose her because she was meek and obedient to His will. Like her, like the young Mary, each of you, my dear young friends, must tell God with faith: "Here I am - be it done to me according to your word."

What an amazing spectacle of young and engaged faith we are living tonight! Tonight Loreto has become, thanks to you, the spiritual capital of the youth - the center of convergence for the multitudes of young people who inhabit the five continents.

At this moment, we feel surrounded by the expectations and hopes of millions of young people of the whole world. Right now, some are staying up, some are sleeping, some are studying or working. Some are hopeful and others are desperate; some believe, and others cannot get themselves to believe; some love life while others are wasting it.

I would like my words to reach everyone: the Pope is close to you, he shares your joys and your pains; above all, I share your most intimate hopes; and for each of you, I ask the Lord the gift of a full and happy life, a life that is rich in sense, a true life.

Unfortunately today, not unusually, a full and happy existence is seen by many young people as a difficult dream, and sometimes almost unrealizable. So many of your contemporaries look at the future with apprehension and ask themselves many questions.

They are concerned about how to fit themselves into a society marked by numerous and grave injustices and sufferings. How to react to the selfishness and violence which often seem to predominate. How to give a sense of fullness to life.

With love and conviction, I repeat to you, who are present here, and through you, to your contemporaries around the world: Do not be afraid! Christ can fulfill the most intimate aspirations of your heart. Are there are unreliable dreams when it is the Spirit of God who inspires and cultivates them in the heart? Is there anything that could dampen our enthusiasm if we are united with Christ? Nothing and no one, the Apostle Paul would say, can ever separate us from the love of God, in Jesus Christ, our Lord (cf Rom 8,35-39).

Allow me to repeat this to you tonight: if yo0u stay one with Christ, each of you can do great things. That is why, dear friends, you should not be afraid to dream with open eyes about great plans for good, and you should not allow yourselves to be discouraged by difficulties.

Christ has confidence in you and he wants you to realize each of your noble dreams for authentic happiness. Nothing is impossible for whoever trusts in God and entrusts himself to him.

Look at the young Mary! The Angel proposed to her something truly inconceivable: to participate in the most intimate way possible in God's greatest plan, the salvation of humanity. Before such a proposal, Mary was troubled, aware of the smallness of her being compared to God's omnipotence, and so she asked: How is it possible, why me? But she was willing to fulfill the divine will, and readily gave her Yes, which changed her life and the story of all mankind. Thanks to that Yes, we are here together tonight.

I ask myself and you: Can the requests that God makes of us - no matter how demanding they may seem to be - ever equal that which God asked of the young Mary? Dear boys and girls, let us learn from Mary to say Yes, because she knows what it means to answer generously to the requests of the Lord.

Dear young people, Mary knows your most noble and deepest aspirations. Above all, she knows your great desire for love, your need to love and be loved. Looking at her, following her obediently, you will discover the beauty of love - not a throwaway love, fleeting and deceptive, imprisoned in a selfish and materialistic mentality - but true and profound love.

In the most intimate part of the heart, every boy and girl who faces life, cultivates the dream of a love which can give full sense to one's future. For many, this finds fulfillment in the choice of matrimony and forming a family in which the love between a man and a woman is lived as a reciprocal gift of faithfulness, as a definitive gift, sealed by the Yes pronounced before God on the day of matrimony, a Yes for all of one's life.

I know that this dream is becoming even more difficult to realize. How many failures of love surround us! How many couples give up and separate! How many families are breaking up! How many children, even among you, have seen the separation and divorce of their parents!

To whoever finds themselves in such sensitive and complex situations, I would like to say tonight: the Mother of God, the community of believers, the Pope, are near to you and pray that the crisis which threatens the family in our time does not become an irreversible failure.

May Christian families, with the help of Divine grace, stay faithful to that solemn pledge of love taken with such joy before the priest and the Christian community on the solemn day of matrimony.

In the face of such failures, this question is not infrequent: am I better than my friends and my parents who have tried and failed? Why should I succeed where others have given up? This human fear can hamper even the most courageous spirit, but on this night before you, at the foot of her Holy House, Mary repeats to each of you, dear young friends, the words which she herself heard the angel address to her: Have no fear! Do not be afraid! The Holy Spirit is with you and will never abandon you. Nothing is impossible to whoever trusts in God.

And this is valid for those who are destined for married life, and even more for those to whom God proposes a life of total detachment from earthly goods in order to dedicate themselves fulltime to his Kingdom.

Among you, there are those who are headed to the priesthood, towards the consecrated life, perhaps some who wish to be missionaries, even knowing what risks and how much risk this means. Think of the priests, the religious and the lay missionaries who have fallen in the trenches of love in the service of the Gospel.

About that life, Fr. Giancarlo Bossi can tell you so many things, he for whom we all prayed during his period of captivity in the Philippines, and whom we joyously welcome among us today. In him, I wish to greet and thank all those who spend their existence for Christ on the frontiers of evangelization.

Dear young people, if the Lord calls you to live more intimately in his service, then respond generously. You may be certain that a life dedicated to God is never spent in vain.

Dear young people, I end my words tonight, not without first embracing you with the heart of a father. I embrace you one by one, and I greet each of you from the heart.

I also greet the bishops present, starting with Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the CEI, and Archbishop Gianni Danzi who is our welcoming host in his ecclesial community.

I greet the priests, the religious, the spiritual advisers who accompanied you here. I greet the civilian authorities and all who were in charge of realizing this event.

A little later tonight, we shall once again be reunited 'virtually' and we will see each other again tomorrow morning, after this night of vigil, for the high point of our encounter, when Jesus himself will be present in the Word and the mystery of the Eucharist.

I would also like to make an appointment to see you in Sydney, where within a year the next World Youth Day will be held. I know - Australia is very far away, and for Italians it is literally at the other end of the world.

Let us pray that the Lord who can work every wonder may grant to many of you the gift of being there. That he may grant it to me, and grant it to you. This is one of so many dreams that tonight, praying together, we will entrust to Mary.

9/2/2007 3:50 AM
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Here's the first story from La Stampa posted by Lella on her blog late tonight - translated here:

A crowd of 400,000 young people from every part of Italy and many countries of the world welcomed Pope Benedict XVI on the plain of Montorso this afternoon on the first day of the 2007 Agora of Italian Youth.


Songs, prolonged applause and screams chanting his name alternated during the Pope's 'embrace' of the youth. It started with his Popemobile travelling through all the sectors of the vast esplanade. The Pope was accompanied by Mons. Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops conference.

Jesus, the faith, the Church and society were the issues at the center of the questions addressed to the Pope who answered them extemporaneously, encouraging them to 'move ahead' even 'in
difficult situations'.

"In the divine plan," he told them, "there are no peripheries" - referring to the 'periferia', the outskirts of large cities which is home to some of the young people who told their stories. "Wherever Christ is, is the center."

But to avoid staying "at the margins of society and history", one must understand that "the greatness of our life is in discovering we are loved and because of this, called on to love in return."

"Society today," he told them, "needs solidarity, and to put Christ in the center. The world has to change."

"Go forth, live and love! In the eyes of God, each of us is important," the Pope exhorted. "Don't anyone of you feel marginal. No life is without importance or sense. You are all truly important, each one is a protagonist because you are at the center of God's love."

"You should not be afraid to dream with open eyes great plans for good and do not allow yourselves to be discouraged by difficulties," he called on them, whom he greeted earlier as "the hope of the Church in Italy."

"I would like my words to reach everyone: the Pope is close to you, he shares your joys and your pains; above all, he shares the most intimate hopes in your hearts and for each of you, I ask the Lord for the gift of a full and happy life, a life rich with sense, a true life."

The Pope's advice was forceful: "Do not be afraid," he said more than once. "Can there be any unrealizable dreams when it is the Spirit of God which inspires and cultivates them in your heart?... Unfortunately today, not unusually, a full and happy existence is seen by many young people as a difficult dream, sometimes almost unrealizable. So many of your contemporaries look at the future with apprehension and ask themselves not a few questions."

"But allow me to repeat to you tonight: If you remain one with Christ, each of you can achieve great things. That is why, dear friends, you should not be afraid to dream with open eyes great plans for good and do not let yourselves be discouraged by difficulties. Christ trusts you and wants you to realize each of your most noble dream for true happiness. Nothing is impossible for those who trust in God and entrust themselves to him."

Loreto, spiritual capital of the young

NB: A full translation of the Pope's address is in the preceding post.

Loreto, Sept. 1 (AsiaNews) – As the moving voice of tenor Andrea Bocelli singing Gounod’s Ave Maria drifted across the Plains of Montorso, the dark statue of Our Lady of Loreto slowly made its way through a huge crowd of almost 300,000 young people, amid their applause and enthusiasm.

Organised by the Italian Bishops’ Conference in preparation of the 2008 World Youth Day in Sydney, the statue symbolises the gathering, the agora. A combination of carnival, party and prayer, the youth Vigil brought out the best in young Italian Catholics, their concerns and eagerness included; it did the same for Benedict XVI, who expressed his emotions, attentiveness and imagination, who answered questions posed to him directly in an easy, fatherly, even anecdoytal manner.

The vigil, which included chanting and music, saw some speakers bear witness as to what it means to be young today, addressing questions to the Pope.

From the southern Italian city of Bari, Piero, an engineer, and Giovanna, a social worker from the city’s slums, were the first to speak. After talking about their own commitment, they asked: “How is it possible to hope when reality takes away whatever dream for happiness you may have, denies you a chance to plan your life?”

In his reply, the Holy Father spoke about marginalisation and ghettoisation, tragedies caused by the inaction or weakening of institutions like the parish and the family.

He said no one is an outsider in the Church and everyone is part of the whole; that Christ was born in Nazareth, a place on the outskirts of the Roman empire, and yet he “revolutionised the world.”

He said the Church should go into the poorer neighbourhoods and with Christ’s help rebuild the social fabric, and that young people must do their part to “change the world,” starting in its poorest corners.

Sara, a 24-year-old office worker from Genoa, spoke about young people’s confusion, about the violence they experience and the lack of educators “as good and credible reference points to whom one may turn with one’s pain is too much. "Holy Father, in this silence so heavy for me and my faith, where is everybody? Above all, where is God?” she asked.

“Every believer knows about God’s silence,” said the Pontiff answering off the cuff. “With all her charity, even Mother Teresa suffered from God’s silence.” But he recalled a story about Pope John Paul II, when he was still Cardinal Wojtyla. A scientist told him that he was “certain” that God did not exist but that “whenever he looked out at the mountains, he saw that He existed.”

In truth, “the beauty of creation,” the Pope said, “is a sign of God’s goodness.” Not only do we meet God in creation, but we feel his “presence in the liturgical celebrations and in the Word,” he said. We have the same experience in the “great music by Bach, Mozart, and Haendel.” Listening to them we discover that God is the source of everything.

Also there is friendship and companionship in faith and travel like what young people in Loreto have experienced. “God,” he said, “wants us to bear witness to our faith and be a light” onto others.

Acknowledging that “it is hard to talk to our friends about God and the Church,” especially if it is a God “of prohibitions” and “a Church that imposes,” he urged his audience to “try to experience the living Church, not the image of a Church that is a centre of power.”

Remembering his visit to Fazenda Esperanza in Brazil, a drug rehab centre, he said that “the certainty in God’s existence means salvation from desperation.” God “broadens life,” he noted, “drugs destroy it.”

He concluded saying that “Christ came to create a network of communion in the world so that we can all help each other. In so doing we discover that the commandments and the relationship to God are in reality a path to joy.”

Ilaria, 26 and from Rome, offered a story with a happy ending. She told her fellow young people the story of her family, a violent father, her anorexia and worsening health problems and how her mother and a priest helped her recover spiritually. Now she is married and the mother of a little girl, and has adopted Pope Wojtyła’s apostolic motto Totus Tuus ("totally yours”) which he borrowed from the Marian consecrating prayer.

Fr Giancarlo Bossi’s story is another happy ending. A missionary with the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions (PIME), he survived 39 days in captivity in southern Philippines.

“Holy Father,” he said, “I am happy to be here tonight to give thanks, to God for holding my life lovingly in His hands; to you for holding me in your heart during my captivity and encouraging so many to pray for me; to all those young people who through their prayers and love gave me courage to remain faithful to Christ, His Church, my missionary vocation and all the people to whom I belong. You also gave courage to missionaries who work around the world. Thank you in the name of God!”

After singing, praying and Bible readings, Benedict XVI spoke about Loreto which, because of so many young people, has become the “spiritual capital, the centre, where so many young people from the five continents have converged to share their ideals.”

The Pope spoke about their hopes and expectations, but also about their deceptions, the “impossible” dreams they have. He referred to their “anxieties” and “doubts,” asking “how can one become part of a society with so much injustice and suffering? How can one react to selfishness and violence which sometimes appears so overwhelming? How can one give real meaning to life? In raising these questions Benedict XVI said he felt “close” to the young people in Loreto, telling them that “through you,” he could reach out “to people of your own age.”

“Fear not, Christ can fulfill the most intimate aspirations your heart holds! Can some dreams be impossible if they are awakened and nourished in the heart by God’s spirit?”

In comforting tones, he told young people to face the unease that their fragility, insecurity and sense of uselessness may cause. “Let me repeat, tonight,” he said, “if each one of you remains united with Christ, you can accomplish great things. This is why, dear friends, you must not fear to dream, eyes wide open, and do good; don’t let yourselves be discouraged by hardships. Christ trusts you and wants you to achieve your highest and noblest dream of real happiness.”

“Look upon Mary,” he suggested, who, in saying “yes” to God found Herself at the “centre of humanity.” “Looking upon her, meekly following her, you shall discover the beauty of love, not a disposable one, transient and deceptive, prisoner to a selfish and materialistic mentality, but one that is true and deep.”

The Pope also raised the issue of so many “broken” families, of couples that break up, saying that to “those who find themselves in such a delicate and complex situations I say this tonight: the Mother of God, the Community of Believers and the Pope stand by you and pray that the crisis that affects today’s families not turn into an irreversible failure.”

In his address to the young crowd Benedict XVI was especially keen in supporting the more responsible choices young people make, helping them overcome their fear of failure. “In the night that awaits us, at the foot of Her Holy House, Mary shall again tell each one of you, my dear young friends, the same words She heard from the Angel: Don’t fear! Don’t be afraid! The Holy Spirit is with you and shall never abandon you. To anyone who places his trust in God, nothing is impossible. This is true for those who are meant to marry; it is even more so for those to whom God proposes a life of total detachment from earthly things and a full commitment to his Kingdom.”

Referring to Fr Bossi, the Pope said: "In him we want to greet and thank all those who live for Christ on the edges of evangelisation. My dear young people, if the Lord calls you to live intimately at His service, answer with generosity. Be certain that a life devoted to God is never lived in vain.”

The Pope ended his homily, greeting with a “father’s heart” “each one” of the young people present in the Plains of Montorso, urging them to meet again in Sydney.

“Let us pray that the Lord who does all kinds of wonders may let many of you to be there. May He give me and you such an opportunity! This is but one of the many dreams we have and which tonight we shall entrust in Mary as we pray together.”

The Pontiff then blessed the Jubilee Cross from the diocese of Endeber (Ethiopia). Young Italian Catholics have in fact taken on the task of helping the Church in this African country.

At the end of the meeting and following a brief pause the Pope walked over to the Holy House to pray in silence as young people prepared for the night vigil. Tomorrow he is scheduled to celebrate mass in the Plains of Montorso.

Here is the reportage from, translated:

MONTORSO (LORETO), Sept. 1 ( - It is time for the vigil, for the Pope's arrival, for the testimonials and prayer. The most awaited moment of the day. In the skies over Loreto, the Pope's helicopter arrives on time, first circling over the plain of Montorso, alive with all the vibrant colors of youth, before landing at the John Paul II youth center.

Then, the Popemobile tour among the tens of thousands who had been waiting hours under the sun. And the enthusiasm rose as the Popemobile approached the stage, asnd the youth sang 'Emmanuel' (hymn of WYD 2000) and 'Jesus Christ, you are my life' (from the Toronto WYD).

They also sang 'Laudato sii' (May He be praised) with its clear reference to the Creator and his Creation, since today is also the Day for the Protection of Creation.

When the Pope finally walked on to center stage, he was welcomed by Mary Petrilo and Fabriio Bucci, who read from psalms. "Men look at appearances, God looks at the heart. Before him, a man is worth what his heart is." The onstage choir and orchestra sang the hymn "Alzati e risplendi" (Arise and shine).

The Pope formally started the Prayer Vigil with the Sign of the Cross.

A young man, Luca Romani, welcomed the pope in behalf of all the youth. "Your presence with us, Holiness, presents an important sign of the Church's attention even for us, the young."

He also spoke for those who were not there, Romani said. "They are friends, colleagues, fellow travelers, not different from us. We have the same doubts, and questions and expectations...We present ourselves to you, certain that your words will be for us a beacon in the great sea of life."

"We are here," he said, "because we are committed to give a concrete face to hope...Many times, the world of the young is described as indifferent and superficial. but the message we want to send from Loreto is the opposite: 'Tonight, we want to tell everyone - it is mot so! We truly want to be active players in society, in the family, at school and work and in the Christian community."

The Pope joined the assembly in applauding these lines.

Later, he thanked them for being at what he called 'the Nazareth of Italy', where, as in many centuries ago, God's proposal to man resounds as it did then in Galilee.

Testimonials followed, led by Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, the missionary who was held captive by Muslim rebels in southern Philippines. He thanked God for "having once again held my life tenderly in his hands", the Pope "for having carried me in your heart and in your prayers during my hour of need" and the youth "because with your prayers and love, you give me the courage to remain faithful to Christ, to his church, to my missionary vocation and to the people to whom I belong."

Some of those who gave testimonials directed their question to the Pope who answered them spontaneously. Their stories told of difficulties in life, deprivation, marginalization, loneliness. At least two described themselves as inhabitants of a big city suburb, the peripheries.

The Pope said in the Church there are no peripheries because wherever Christ is, is the center. But he also pointed out that God has a plan for each of us, a plan we should learn to accept, within the security of the faith.

He said each of us must understand the 'greatness of life' that one discovers by knowing one is loved, and because of this, is also called on to love.

Sarah, a 24-year-old mother from Rome who has found happiness after a troubled life, said "It's not easy to speak about God with my friends, and in the face of so much rejection, I wanted to feel the nearness of God, and asked in all of the silence of loneliness, 'Where is God?""

The Pope answered: "Your desperate cry - we now all know - was the same that was felt by Mother Teresa, who with all her charity and the force of her faith suffered from the silence of God". The silence, he said, helps us to 'understand our brothers who don't believe' and it does form part of human experience.

Nevertheless, the Pope said, we must look for the voice of God, listening to it 'in celebrations and feasts of faith' as well as in 'a personal dialog' with God, in which 'God does not always answer us right away.' But he can speak to us through our friends - "The gathering here in Loreto did not come out of nothing!".

God may be silent, but "he talks to us and reveals himself", and so it is important "that we remain attentive to him."

Then, the image of the Madonna of Loreto was borne into the plain borne on a platform decorated with flowers and escorted by the Capuchin friars who have custody of the Basilica. As it neared the stage, pop tenor Andrea Boccelli sang Schubert's Ave Maria.

One of the young presentors read: "The angel had said, Do not be afraid, Mary. If God does not choose triumphal ways, lights and the gold of the temples, he comes as a God in love. To believe in him is to acquire the beauty of living, to know that is is beautiful to meet others, to work, to get married, to reproduce, it is beautiful to dedicate oneself to another, who is also of God, it is beautiful to be a man and a woman, and to work for something positive here in time, towards a life that will never end."

Three of the young presenters read the story of the Annunciation from the Gospel of Luke, followed by the Pope’s homily.

[The report then cites some excerpts from the Pope's address]

Afterwards, the pope blessed a large wooden Crucifix which will be sent to the Ethiopian diocese of Emdeber, beneficiary of a charitable project for which the 2007 Agora raised funds. On September 16, the Cross will be received by all the Ethiopian bishops at the start of their Jubilee celebrations (by their local calendar, the second millennium jubilee of Christianity starts on September 12).


Before leaving the Agora site, Pope Benedict XVI greeted the executives of RAI state TV, entertainers and volunteer workers for the Agora, including director general Claudi Cappon.

He also greeted actors Alessandro Preziosi, Bianca Guaccero, Fabio Fulco and Giancarlo Giannini, and the singers Lucio Dalla, Claudio Baglioni, Andrea Bocelli, the rock group Vibrazioni, along with the pianist Giovanni Allevi and ballerina Eleonora Abbagnato, who were to perform in the entertainment show that was broadcast by RAI later in the evening.


Translated from Vatican news bulletin:

At 8 p.m., the Pope left Montorso by car for the Apostolic palace in Loreto, where he is staying for the night. After a priivate dinner, he went down to the Basilica at 9:15, accompanied by Archbishops Bagnasco and Danzi.

They were welcomed at the entrance by the Rector of the Sanctuary, the Capuchin friar P. Marzio Calletti.

In th German Chapel, he imparted his blessing to the Cappuchin friars who are in charge of the sanctuary, the cloistered nuns of Loreto from the Monastery of the Annunciation (Discalced Carmelites) and from the Monastery of San Gabriele dell'Addolorata (Passionist).

He then proceeded to the Holy House for private prayers. A TV feed at 9:25 to Montorso enabled the gathered youth to join him in prayer to begin their all-night Prayer Vigil.

The Pope led them in reciting a prayer he had written last February for the Agora, which he first reicted with the Bishops and pilgrims from the Marche at the Vatican after a Gene3ral Audience last February.

A highlight of the Pope's visit to the Holy House this time was that he presented the Papal Golden Rose - a token of special homage - to the image of Our Lady of Loreto.

Caterina got hold of the only picture of this that I have seen, which she presented as an enlargement. Please click twice on the thumbnail to get the full size.

[Below is the Prayer which we first posted in the 8/14 announcement of the Loreto trip.]


On February 14th, the Holy Father asked the faithful of the Marche region to recite this prayer everyday in preparation for the Agora.

Mary, Mother of YES, you have listened to Jesus. You know the sound of His voice and you have heard the beat of His heart. Star of the Morning, speak to us of Him. Tell us of your following Him on the road of faith.

Mary, you lived with Jesus in Nazareth. Imprint in us your docility and that silence that listens. Make the Word flower in us so that we choose true liberty.

Mary, speak to us of Jesus, so that the freshness of faith shines in our eyes and warms the hearts of those we meet. Visiting Elizabeth in her old age, you made her rejoice with you in the gift of life. May we too cause those we meet rejoice in the gift of life.

Mary, Virgin of the Magnificat, help us bring joy to the world. Help us to inspire today’s youth to fraternal service and as at Cana, to do what Jesus says.

Mary, look kindly on the Agorà of Italian youth, so that Italy may become fertile land for the Church. Pray that Jesus, crucified and risen, may be born again in us and change our night into a day of light and Him.

Mary, Our Lady of Loreto, gate of heaven, help us to raise our sights. Help us to see Jesus, to talk with Him, to tell everyone of His love.

Before leaving the Holy House, the Pope offered a silver Rose for the Virgin - similar to Papal roses given in the past to other Marian images such as Fatima, Aparecida and Guadalupe.


Korazym takes up the story for the rest of the evening:

21:00, Sept. 1 ( - The live broadcast from Montorso, opened by reflections, proceeded to spectacle and music. A play of lights introduced the images direct from the Basilica of Loreto, and to the Pope’s prayer at the Holy House.

Then on to Claudio Baglioni and the Vibrazioni and Luci Dalla. In between were testimonials by young people, with stories of difficulties as well as togetherness, affections, new lives.

But the most intense moment was the long account by Fr. Giancarlo Bossi of his recent captivity.

Fr. Bossi greeted by the Pope earlier.

Quite uneasy as the center of attention, the missionary was overcome with emotion several times as he told of his captivity and his attempts to establish rapport with his captors, whom he called ‘poor devils’ stricken more by poverty than the wish to do evil, how he asked guidance from God, his attempts to make sense of what was happening. Applause greeted his story of how he was finally liberated, his first telephone call to his mother, and his final words of reflection.

“I’ve been back in Italy for some weeks but I would like to return as soon as possible to the Philippines. Here I hear both children and adults saying in front of food, 'How awful!’ In the Philippines, some children have to look for food in garbage cans and thank God if they find something. We must change all this.”

Other ‘light’ shows and testimonials concluded the evening – quite an atypical formula for an encounter which saw some 400,000 participants who came to the Marche for this event.

The attendance was much greater than expected – all the sectors of the esplanade were occupied. It was warm but not humid, so there were no particular emergencies, except a few cases who were seen for fatigue.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 11/19/2007 8:08 PM]
9/2/2007 12:03 PM
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The stories in today's Italian newspapers about the Agora encounter yesterday are all excellent, so I hope to be able to translate the major ones in this space. I must give pride of place to La Repubblica's Marco Politi, who is often not too kind with Pope Benedict. But this one - despite the 'iron Pope' stereotype in the first paragraph - is excellent:

The Pope among 400,000 youth:
You must change the world

He listens to their stories
and is clearly moved
La Repubblica, 2 Sept. 2007

LORETO - Tears well up in the light blue eyes of Benedict the XVI. The iron Pope is moved while listening to the story of Ilaria from Rome, born into a troubled family, with a violent father who was often away, so that she had often wished she had never been born.

Then she meets a priest who not only prepares her for confirmation at a late age but also finds treatment for her [miscellaneous psychosomatic ailments, starting with anorexia]. Today, she is married and the mother of a two-year-old but she cannot forget that so many others her age 'are crying for help'.

Afterwards, Papa Ratzinger would hold her in a long hug. But meanwhile, he tells her and the 400,000 other young people present at the Plain of Montorso yesterday, "The world must be changed, and it is the mission of the youth to do that. Society needs solidarity, a sense of legality, as well as the creativity of everyone."

This interaction was the most immediate and refreshing in the Agora of Italian Youth, a two-day kermesse half prayer assembly, half mega-pop concert which has assembled some 400,000 young people here in Montorso just outside Loreto.

Young people who had been bivouacked under the sun for hours, waiting for the Pope's arrival - many with shirts off (males) and navels exposed, in a climate of 'everyone at the beach' (the Adriatic shore is a few hundred meters away), jumping and clapping as the tireless activities-dj tells them on the PA system.

The Agora is a mini-WYD planned by the Italian bishops conference following the formula for the Wojtylian megashows for the youth which were never entirely to Joseph Ratzinger's liking.

But the testimonials by some young people, which prompted questions posed directly to the Pope - there would have been more if the organizers had been more courageous* - gripped the Pope who ignored answers earlier prepared by his aides to answer them off the cuff.

[Teresa's note: This was, in fact, a surprising disappointment yesterday, because the organizers had previously announced there would be a Q&A as the Pope has had previously with the youth of Rome, with seminarians and various local clergy. The Pope ended up answering only two questions - both were necessarily 'huge' but he did very well bringing them down to practical proportions.]

Luca from Rome spoke of a disoriented childhood lived in marginal and precarious conditions. Giovanna and Pietro of Bari spoke of their marginal suburb of San Paolo, describing these 'peripheries' without hope, inhabited by 'the discards of globalization' - one friend barely escapes the trap of chronic petty crimedoing by finding work, while another friend wastes her days waiting for a boyfriend who is in and out of the local jails. And another four friends are killed one day in a barroom brawl. How, they asked, is it possible to hope at all if reality just destroys every plan one has for life?

Sara of Genoa recounts how her family took in a street waif her age when they were both 7, but who never did well because he was convinced that "if one is born unfortunate, one will die unfortunate."

Sara tells the Pope: "It is not easy to speak about God to friends who feel they are at the margins of life. Many of them see the Church as a reality that judges young people harshly and opposes their desires for happiness and love. I believe in the God who has touched my heart, but I have so mich fear within me, and I feel my loneliness. Holiness, in this silence, where is God?"

Benedict XVI replies spontaneously. "All believers experience the silence of God. A book on Mother Teresa has just come out, and she, with all her charity and strength of faith, suffered from the silence of God." Great applause rose from the plain, and then they held their breath for the rest of the Pope's answer.

He recalled to them a Russian scientist who told John Paul II: "For me, as a scientist, God does not exist, but when I find myself amidst the majesty of the mountains, then I think God exists."` It is important, the pope told the young people, to know how to interpret a silent God because this also helps us to understand non-believers.

But besides learning how to accept a silent God, he said, we must also be able to listen and see - because God shows himself and speaks to us in creation, in the liturgy, in the good things of the world.

Yes, he said, it is difficult to speak of a God who is perceived only as an authority who imposes 'commandments', or of a Church that appears to be an institution :limiting freedom and imposing prohibitions."

But the Church, he said, is not a power center - it is a community of companions, fellow Christians. And in a world where political and economic institutions wield the real power, it is essential to rediscover asnd nurture the vital cells of society represented by the family and the church community.

"For the Church, there are no peripheries. Wherever Christ is, everyting is central." And the faith creates great networks of solidarity and courage which are centers agains despair, because in the eyes of God, everyone is important and no one is peripheral.

Later, the Pope would come back to the theme of the family. He invites his audience not to give in to 'disposable' love, to be committed to a matrimony that lasts for all of one's life, not to allow couples to break up, and to do everything so that the crisis of the contemporary fmaily does not become an 'irreversible failure'.

As the sun set slowly over the plain of Montorso, the image of the Black Madonna of Loreto was borne in on a symbolic boat. Andrea Bocelli sang Gounod's Ave Maria.

Before the Popeleft, the multitudes would once again chant his name in rhythm, 'BE-NE-DET-TO, BE-NE-DET-TO', as they had done throughout the afternoon.

In their ears, they would have retained yet another exhortation from the Pope - that they should know how to say Yes not only to matrimony but also to the priesthood if they heard the call, "because a life dedicated to God is never onde spent in vain ."

He cited missionary prist Fr. Giancarlo Bossi, who had come onstage to thank the Pope and the young people and all who prayed for him during his captivity by Muslim rebels in southern Philippines.

But the night had only just begun. From the Holy House of Nazareth in the Sanctuary of Loreto, the Pope would later be telecast to the assembly in Montorso to start off an all-night prayer vigil by the youth, with a prayer that he had composed specially for the Agora.

Before leaving Montorso, the Pope greeted the entertainers who were to take part in the show prepared by RAI state TV for primetime airing.

After that, the youth had a choice of eight 'fountains of light', or areas where they could reflect on isues regarding confession, problems of couples, personal issues, vocations. Volunteers went around amking sure that those who had not made a recent confession took advantage of available confessors.

A sidebar from Repubblica

The organizers had set up a special tent just behind the stage in Montorso for the Pope to rest in if he should need it. It had a beautitul bed furnished with fine linen from Recanati. But Benedict XVI did not need it at all. He was in great form yesterday - relaxed and smiling, very much at ease in front of that great multitude that had come to see him in Loreto.

It was also learned that the Vatican had specified that the Pope should only be served light meals. So his private dinner at the Episcopal Palace last night was a beef consomme, steamed vegetables and boiled beef.


Benedict XVI speaks to the youth:
- 'True love is not disposable"
- 'Your mission is to change the world'
- 'All believers experience the silence of God -
even Mother Teresa'
By Luigi Accattoli
Corriere della Sera
Sept. 2, 2007

LORETO (Ancona) — A warm appeal by Benedict XVI against 'disposable' love. An invitation to 'hold aloft' the dream of 'authentic happiness.' A 25-year-old mother who embraces the Pope with all her strength as young people used to do with Papa Wojtyla. And 400,000 young people who screamed and chanted 'BE-NE-DET-TO, BE-NE-DET-TO' from a natural amphitheater next to the Adriatic sea which sparkled green under the setting sun.

It was the Pope's first encounter yesterday afternoon with the Agora - the 'public square' - of Italian youth, a great assembly, unprecedented, that the Italian bishops conference had organised.

The second encounter takes place this morning, with the Mass that Benedict will celebrate on the same stage, before the same crowd of young people who would have spent the night in the open, in the tradition of World Youth Day events.

Yesterday, Benedict XVI invited the young people to discover as Christians 'the beauty of love', but not, he said, 'disposable, throw-away-after-use love'- which is fleeting and deceptive, trapped in an selfish and materialistic mentality - but true and profound love." Because "in the most intimate heart of every girl and boy who faces life, he or she cultivates the dream of a love which will give a full sense to one's future."

The Pope said he 'knew well' that this dream of a love that endures through life, lived as a 'definitive gift', is today 'always increasingly less easy to realize." Nevertheless, he invited the youth not to 'resign themselves' to fleeting relations, not to be discouraged by difficulties, but to commit themselves to be faithful to their 'most noble and highest dreams of authentic happiness."

Before his address, in a dialog with some youths who posed qustions, the Pope - speaking off the cuff - had other strong statemenets.

"We should show that the Church is not a power center but a community and company in which the problems of life are lived in freedom and joy," he told a young man who asked 'what to do' about contemporaries who distrust Christianity and see it only as a series of prohibitions.

"The world must change, and this is the mission of the youth," he told another one, saying that they carry 'the hopes of everyone'.

To a young woman who asked about 'the silence of God', he said one must not conclude that 'God does not speak': "Yes, all believers experience this silence of God. Even Mother Teresa, with all her charity and strength of faith, suffered from such silence, as one sees clearly in a book about her spiritual experiences that was recently published."

There ewas also a 'testimonial' from missionary priest Giancarlo Bossi, who spent 39 days as hostage of a Islamist group in southern Philippines early in the summer.

"God held my life lovingly in his hands," Bossi said, thanking the Pope "for having carried me in your heart and prayers during my captivity."

We asked Fr. Bossi how such kidnappings could be reduced, and he said, "Usually, as in my case, these are actions by poor souls for motives of gain...And this will not cease until there is better justice."

Welcoming the Pope in Loreto - where he arrived in late afternoon by helicopter from Castel Gandolfo - were Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops conference and Vice-Premier Francesco Rutelli, along with Archbishop Gianni Danzi, Prelate and Pontifical Legate to Loreto, and regional and local officials.

The all-night vigil of the youth at Montorso eventually proceeded to a concert organized by RAI state TV - with the agreement of the CEI - for primetime telecast. Musical numbers by Claudio Baglioni, Lucio Dalla, Andrea Bccelli and the rock group Vibrazioni alternated with testimonials by more youth.

After the Pope left, the Agora participants had dinner - sandwiches and pizza - then they watched a telecast of the Pope in prayer at the Holy House of Mazareth in the Loreto Basilica. He led them in the prayer he composed for the Agora last February that asks, among others, "Mary, Virgin of the Magnificat, help us to bring joy to the world."

Corriere della sera, 2 settembre 2007

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/3/2007 2:22 PM]
9/2/2007 12:59 PM
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Here are the wire-service stories about today's Mass:

Pope urges youth to forego
violence and consumerism

LORETO, Italy, Sept. 2 (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI celebrated a giant mass Sunday at Loreto - home to one of Italy's most cherished Christian shrines - by appealing to young people to eschew pride, violence and consumerism.

"Go against the current, don't listen to the numerous voices advocating lifestyles based on arrogance, violence, success at all costs and outward appearances and the possession of material things," he said.

The pontiff was speaking to some 500,000 young people who had gathered here for a festival.

The pope urged them to adopt a "lifestyle that is sober and interdependent, with relations that are sincere and pure, and with an interest in the common good."

He also exhorted them to protect the environment, asking the congregation to "react urgently .... to recreate a strong bond between Man and Earth and to reverse trends which risk causing irreparable damage."

The pontiff flew into Loreto in central Italy by helicopter Saturday to attend the pilgrimage over the weekend that was a warm-up for a much-bigger World Youth Day to take place in Australia next year.

Pope: Do not be afraid to follow
the “alternative” route of true love

Loreto, Sept 2 (AsiaNews) – In a demanding and clear proposal Benedict XVI today invited the young people gathered on the Montorso plain between Loreto and the Adriatic sea, to a lifestyle that “goes against the trend”, to transform society by following the “humble” example of Mary.


In his homily during mass concluding the Youth Agorà, he said:
“Do not follow the path of pride, rather, follow the path of humility” Go against the trend: do not listen to that chorus of bias and persuasive voices which today put forward a model of life that is drenched in arrogance and violence, in dominance and success at all costs, where appearance and possession to the detriment of others is openly promoted. All of these messages carried by the mass media are aimed at you! Be vigilant! Be critical! Do not follow the trend produced by this powerfully persuasive media.

"Do not be afraid, my dear friends, to prefer the ‘alternative’ route indicated by true love: a sober style of life, a life of solidarity; an honest commitment to your studies and work; a cultivated interest in the common good. Do not be afraid to appear different, or the criticism that you are out of fashion or a loser; people your age, even adults, all of those who seem far from the mentality of the Gospel values, have a deep seated need to see someone who dares to live according to the fullness of humanity manifested by Jesus Christ”.

The pope’s words met with the warm applause of the immense crowd gathered on the plain. Yesterday alone, over 300,000 people for the vigil; this morning, the arrival of thousands more young people pushing the numbers up to touch half a million. Many of them spent the night in the open, in prayer and meditation or in dialogue, helped by the “fountains of light”, illuminated meeting points placed at intervals throughout the plain, where priests and catechists were present to listen, hear confessions, speak about vocations, until first light appeared and the Morning Prayer said.

Yesterday evening during the vigil the testimonies of some young people laid bare the difficulties and insecurities, the marginalization and unemployment linked to the world of the young.

Today the pope affirmed that “Jesus has a special preference for the young” and that God himself “seeks young hearts …. To become the protagonists of the New Alliance”.

The pope’s programme for young people is taken from Mary’s “youth” and has at its foundation her humility. Recalling the nearby sanctuary of Loreto, where stones from the Holy House of Nazareth are preserved, he said: “The Holy House of Nazareth is the sanctuary of humility: the humility of God who became flesh and of Mary who welcomed him to her womb”.

The pope showed the stark opposition between the ideals of the world and Christianity: “The humble – he says – are perceived as being defeated and beaten, people who have nothing to offer the world. Yet this is the master route, not only because humility is a great virtue, but because above all it represents the very way in which God himself behaves. It is the path chosen by Christ”.

After having underlined the necessity of a witness that “goes against the trend”, he adds: “My dear friends, the path of humility is not the path of renunciation, it is the path of true courage. It is not the result of a defeat but of victory of love over selfishness and of grace over sin. In following Christ and imitating Mary, we must have the courage of humility”.

The “new paths” which the young people need to follow imply the ability to say “yes to God”, from whic “all the Yeses of our lives” come from. “Our faith does is not merely a list of moral prerogatives, rather, it is a glorious journey towards the light of our Yes to God. It is true; there are many great challenges ahead of you. The first of which remains the challenge of following Christ to the very depths, without reservations, without compromise. Following Christ means being a living part of his body, which is the Church. You cannot call yourself a disciple of Jesus if you do not love and follow his Church”.

The Church (which is not a “power centre”, he had said last night) is a place which unites, not for “success”, but for “the good of humanity, a good which is both authentic and shared, and which does not subsist in power or possession, but in being”. These radical decisions are necessary in order to build “the city of God with man, a city which grows contemporarily from the ground up and from Heaven downwards, because it develops in the encounter and collaboration between man and God”( Ap 21,2-3).

Noting that today the Italian Church marks the National Day for the proteciton of the environment, teh Pope said: “The future of the planetis in the hands of the new generations, a planet where the signs of a development that has not always protected the delicate equilibrium of nature, can be seen. Before it is too late, we must take courageous steps, to recreate the alliance between man and earth. We need to say yes to safeguarding creation, we must decidedly commit ourselves to invert those tendencies which risk bringing about irreversible degradation”.

At the end of his homily, the applause, waving of banners, scarves and the shouting of slogans lasted so long that the pope was forced to ask for silence in order to continue the Mass.

Before the Angelus, the pontiff returned once again to underlining the bond between Loreto and Nazareth, the place of the annunciation to Mary: “Loreto second only to Nazareth, is the ideal place to pray and meditate on the mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God….the place where the Virgin said ‘yes’ to God and conceived in her womb the eternal incarnate Word”.

The Poe suggested that Loreto become a constant reference point in the lives of the young: “In the most important moment of your lives come here, at least in your hearts, to gather yourselves spiritually between the walls of the Holy House…. Then will you become its true witnesses in the ‘squares’, in society, bringers of a Gospel that is not abstract, but incarnated in your own lives”.

Confirming this commitment to witnessing God in society, at the end of the mass 72 young people from diocese across Italy received the missionary Mandate of the Italian Agorà, to bring the faith “with joy and gratitude” throughout the world. The pope bestowed on them the so-called “pilgrims sackcloth”, distributed by two bishops.

Pope urges young to care for planet

LORETO, Italy. Sept. 2 (AP) - Pope Benedict XVI urged hundreds of thousands of young Catholics on Sunday to take better care of the planet, saying the world's water supply needs to be preserved and shared to avoid conflicts.

Benedict offered a very eco-friendly message during an open-air Mass on the final day of a weekend religious youth rally in the pilgrimage town of Loreto that was organized by the Italian bishops' conference.

The Italian Church has designated Sept. 1 as "Save Creation Day," and as a result the Loreto meeting carried a strong environmental message, with each of the participants given biodegradable plates, recycling bags for their trash and a hand-cranked cell-phone recharger.

Benedict told the crowd that it was up to them to urgently save the planet from development that had often ignored "nature's delicate equilibrium."

"Before it's too late, we need to make courageous choices that will recreate a strong alliance between man and Earth," Benedict said in his homily. "We need a decisive 'yes' to care for creation and a strong commitment to reverse those trends that risk making the situation of decay irreversible."

He said water, in particular, was a "precious" resource that needed to be preserved since "it unfortunately becomes a source of strong tensions and conflicts if it isn't shared in an equitable and peaceful manner."

Benedict has been on something of a green campaign of late, lamenting just this past week the environmental impact of recent forest fires in Italy and Greece. During his recent summer vacation in the mountains, he spoke frequently about the importance of nature in rekindling spirituality.

An estimated 500,000 people turned out for Benedict's Mass, the ANSA news agency said, citing police. Most of them spent the night camped out on tarps and tents on the field down the hill from Loreto, Italy's most important shrine dedicated to the Virgin Mary.

The meeting was an Italian warm-up for next year's World Youth Day, in Sydney, Australia, which the 80-year-old pope plans to attend.

Save the planet before it's too late,
Pope urges

By Philip Pullella

LORETO, Italy, Sept. 2 (Reuters) - Pope Benedict, leading the Catholic Church's first 'eco-friendly' youth rally, on Sunday told up to half a million people that world leaders must make courageous decisions to save the planet "before it is too late."

"A decisive 'yes' is needed in decisions to safeguard creation as well as a strong commitment to reverse tendencies that risk leading to irreversible situations of degradation," the 80-year old Pope said in his homily.

Intentionally wearing green vestments, he spoke to a vast crowd of mostly young people sprawled over a massive hillside near the Adriatic city of Loreto on the day Italy's Catholic Church marks it annual Save Creation Day.

More than 300,000 of them had slept on blankets and in tents or prayed during the night. Organizers said they were joined by some 200,000 more people who arrived from throughout Italy on Sunday morning.

"New generations will be entrusted with the future of the planet, which bears clear signs of a type of development that has not always protected nature's delicate equilibriums," the Pope said, speaking to the crowd from a massive white stage.

Making one of his strongest environmental appeals to date Benedict said: "Courageous choices that can re-create a strong alliance between man and earth must be made before it is too late."

The two-day rally the Pope closed with a Sunday morning mass was the first environmentally friendly youth rally, a break from past gatherings that left tonnes of garbage and scars on the earth.

A participants' kit included backpacks made of recyclable material, a flashlight operated by a crank instead of batteries, and color-coded trash bags so their personal garbage could be easily recycled. Meals were served on biodegradable plates.

Tens of thousands of prayer books for Sunday's mass were printed on recycled paper and an adequate number of trees would be planted to compensate for the carbon produced at the event, many in areas of southern Italy devastated by recent brushfires.

Under Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, the Vatican has become progressively "green." It has installed photovoltaic cells on buildings to produce electricity and hosted a scientific conference to discuss the ramifications of global warming and climate change.

Last month Benedict said the human race must listen to "the voice of the Earth" or risk destroying its very existence.

Loreto is famous in the Catholic world for the "holy house of the Madonna" a small stone structure purported to be where Mary grew up in the Holy Land and where she was told by an angel she would give birth to Jesus although a virgin.

According to popular legend, it was "flown" by angels from the Holy Land in the 13th century to save it from Muslim armies.

Modern scholars have said parts of the walls may have been brought in pieces from the Middle East by defeated Crusaders or that the entire structure may have been built on the site where it now stands in order to draw pilgrims to the city.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/2/2007 8:07 PM]
9/2/2007 5:05 PM
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Following is a translation of the Pope's homily at the Mass in Montorso today and his words at the Angelus that closed the Agora.


Dear brothers and sisters,
dear young friends!

After the overnight vigil here, our encounter in Loreto ends today around the altar with the solemn Eucharistic Celebration. Once more, I extend to you all my most heartfelt greeting.

I especially greet the bishops and I thank Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco who spoke in your behalf. I greet the Archbishop of Loreto who has welcomed us with affection and attention. I greet the priests, the religious, and all those who prepared this important demonstration of faith with such care.

I also extend a deferent greeting to the civilian and military authorities present, with a special thought for the Vice President of the Council of Ministers, the Honorable Francesco Rutelli.

This is truly a day of grace! The Readings which we just heard help us to understand what wondrous work the Lord has done to bring us together here in Loreto in such great numbers and in a joyous atmosphere of prayer and celebration.

In our gathering together near the Sanctuary of the Virgin, the words of the Letter to the Hebrews has come true in a certain sense: "You have climbed Mount Sion towards the city of the living God."

Celebrating the Eucharist in the shadow of the Holy House, we too approach "the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven", and we can thus experience the joy of finding ourselves in front of "God the judge of all and the spirits of the just made perfect." With Mary, Mother of the Redeemer and our Mother, we come to encounter "the mediator of the new covenant", our Lord Jesus Christ (cfr Heb 12,22-24).

The heavenly Father, who many times and in many ways, has spoken to man (cfr Heb 1,1), offering his Alliance and often meeting resistance and refusal, wished, in the fullness of time, to bind men to him with a new pact, definitive and irrevocable, sealing it with the blood of his only Son who died and resurrection for the salvation of all mankind.

Jesus Christ, God made man, took on our flesh in Mary, took part in our life, and shared our history. To realize this new alliance, God looked for a young heart and found it in the girl Mary.

Even today, God seeks out young hearts, he is looking for young people with great hearts, capable of making room for him in their life in order to be active players in the New Alliance. In order to welcome a proposal as fascinating as that which Jesus offers us, in order to make an alliance with him, one must be young interiorly, able to let oneself respond to newness, in order to undertake new paths with him.

Jesus has a predilection for young people, as we can well see in his dialog with the rich young man (cfr Mt 19,16-22; Mk 10,17-22). He respects the freedom of youth, but he never tires of proposing to them higher goals in life: the novelty of the Gospel and the beauty of holy conduct.

Following the example of the Lord, the Church continues to give young people the attention that he did. That is why, dear young people, the Church looks at you with immense affection, it is with you in moments of joy and celebration, as well as in trials and confusion; it sustains you with the gifts of sacramental grace and it accompanies you in discerning your true vocation.

Dear young people, if you allow yourselves to be involved in the new life that comes from the encounter with Christ, you will be able to be apostles of his peace in your families, among your friends, within your church community, and in the different circles in which you live and work.

But what is it that makes one 'young' in the evangelical sense? This encounter of ours, which is taking place in the shado0w of a Marian sanctuary, invites us to look at the Madonna. And we ask ourselves: How did she live her youth? Why did the impossible become possible in her?

She discloses it to us herself in the canticle of the Magnificat: God "has regarded the humility of his handmaid" (Lk 1,48a). Mary's humility is what God appreciated most in her. And the other two readings of today's liturgy speak to us of humility.

Is it not perhaps a happy coincidence that this message comes to us precisely here in Loreto? Here, our thoughts go naturally to the Holy House of Nazareth, which is the shrine of humility: the humility of God-who-became-man, who made himself small; and the humility of Mary who welcomed him in her womb - the humility of the Creator and the humility of his creature.

From this meeting of humility, Jesus was born, Son of God and Son of Man. "The greater thou art, the more humble thyself in all things, and thou shalt find grace before God", a passage from Ecclesiastes tells us (3,20); and Jesus, in today's Gospel, after the parable of teh wedding guests, concludes: "For every one who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted" (Lk 14,11).

This prospect indicated in Scriptures appears even more provocative today because of the culture and sensibility of contemporary man. The humble is considered one who has given up, a failure, someone who has nothing to say to the world.

On the contrary, this is the master way, and not only because humility is a great human virtue, but because, in the first place, it represents God's own way. It is the way chosen by Christ, the mediator of our New Covenant, who, appearing in human form, "humbled himself, becoming obedient unto death, even to the death of the cross(Phil 2,8).

Dear young people, I see in this Word of God on humility a message that is as important as it is relevant to you who wish to follow Christ and be part of his Church. The message is: do not follow the way of pride, but that of humility. Go against the current: do not listen to interested and persuasive voices that, from many sides today, advocate life styles marked by arrogance and violence, arrogance and success at any cost, given to appearance and to possession to the detriment of being.

How many messages, which are reaching you especially through the mass media, are addressed to you! Be vigilant! Be critical! Do not be drawn into the wave produced by these powerful acts of persuasion.

Do not be afraid, dear friends, to prefer the 'alternative' ways indicated by true love: a life style that is moderate and fraternal; emotional relationships that are sincere and pure; an honest commitment to study and work; a profound interest in the common good.

Do not be afraid to appear different and to be criticized for what appears to be a losing cause or unfashionable. Your contemporaries - but even adults - especially those who seem most remote from the
mentality and the values of the Gospel, have a profound need to see someone who dares to live according to the fullness of humanity that was shown by Jesus Christ.

Dear friends, humility is not therefore a way of resignation but of courage. It is not the outcome of failure but the victory of love over selfishness, and grace over sin. Following Christ and imitating Mary, we should have the courage of humility. We should entrust ourselves humbly to God because only then can we become obedient instruments in his hands, allowing him to work great things in us.

What great miracles the Lord has worked in Mary and the saints! I think for example of Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, patrons of Italy. I think also of splendid young people like Saint Gemma Galgani, St. Gabriele of Addolorata, St. Aloysius Gonzaga, St. Domenico Savio, Saint Maria Goretti - who was born not far from here, and the Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati and Alberto Marvelli [all of them, saints and blesseds who lived in the region].

And I think of all the many boys and girls who belong to the ranks of 'anonymous' saints but who are not anonymous to God. For him, every single person is unique, with his own name and face. All of us - and you know this - are called on to be saints.

As you see, dear young people, the humility which the Lord teaches us and which the saints have demonstrated - each one according to the particularity of his own calling - is anything but living in a resigned way. Let us look above all to Mary: to her school, so that even we, like she, can experience God's Yes to humanity from which comes all the Yeses in our life.

It is true - the challenges you face are so great. But the first one must always be to follow Christ to the end, without reservations or compromises. To follow Christ means to feel oneself a living part of his body, which is the Church. The Church is our family, in which love for the Lord and for our brothers, especially when we participate in the Eucharist, makes us experience the joy of foretaste of that future life which will be completely illuminated by Love.

May our daily commitment be to live down here as if we were already up there. To feel part of the Church is also feeling the call of sainthood. It is a daily commitment to build communion and unity by conquering every resistance and overcoming any misunderstanding.

In the Church we learn to love, educating ourselves in freely welcoming our neighbor, in thoughtful attention to whoever is in difficulty, to the poor and the least. The fundamental motivation which unites all believers in Christ, is not success but goodness, a goodness which is more authentic the more it is shared, and which does not consist above all in possession or power but in being.

And so we build the city of God with men, a city which grows on earth at the same time as it comes down from heaven, because it develops in the encounter and collaboration between men and God (cfr Ap 21,2-3).

To follow Christ, dear young people, also involves a constant effort to contribute to building a society that is more just and fraternal, in which everyone can enjoy the goods ot the earth. I know that many of you have dedicated yourselves generously to testifying to your faith in various social fields, working as volunteers, for the promotion of the common good, peace and justice in every community.

One of the fields in which it is urgent to work is most definitely that of safeguarding creation. The new generations are responsible for the future of the planet, which shows evident signs of a development that has not always known to preserve the delicate balances of nature. Before it is too late, we must make courageous choices with a view to a strong alliance between man and the earth.

We need a decisive Yes to safeguarding creation and a strong commitment to reverse those tendencies which risk bringing us to a situation of irreversible (environmental) degradation. That is why I appreciate the initiative of the Italian Church to promote greater sensitivity to the problems of protecting the environment by designating a national day for this purpose on September the first.

This year, attention is directed towards water, a most precious asset which, unless it is shared in a just and peaceful way, will become a cause for tensions and bitter conflicts.

My dear young friends, after listening to your reflections yesterday evening and later in the night, and allowing myself to be guided by the Word of God, I wanted to entrust to you these considerations, which are meant to be fatherly encouragement to follow Christ in order to be witneses of his hope and his love.

On my part, I will continue to be beside you with prayers and affection so that you may proceed with enthusiasm along the road of the Agora, this singular three-year course of listening, dialog and mission.

In concluding its first year with this wonderful encounter, I must invite you to look forward now to the next big appointment on World Youth Day in Sydney next July. I invite you to prepare yourselves for that manifestation of youthful faith by meditating on the profound message on the Holy Spirit, in order that we may live together a new spring of the Spirit. Therefore, I hope to see you in great numbers in Australia even as you will be ending the second year of the Agora.

Finally, let us turn our eyes once more to Mary, model of humility and courage. Help us, Virgin of Nazareth, to be obedient to the work of the Holy Spirit as you were; help us to become even more saintly, enamoured disciples of your Son Jesus; support and accompany these young people so that they may be joyous and tireless missionaries of the Gospel among people of their own age, in every corner of Italy. Amen!


At the end of this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, let us now recite, dear young people, the prayers of the Angelus, in spiritual communion with all those who are linked to us by radio and television.

After Nazareth, Loreto is the ideal place for this prayer of meditation on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. Therefore, at this moment, I invite you so that all together we may turn, with our mind and heart, to the Sanctuary of the Holy House, within whose walls, that tradition tells us came from Nazareth, was where the Virgin said Yes to God and conceived the eternal Word Incarnate in her womb.

Before ending our assembly, let us leave this agora, this square, for the moment, and enter ideally into the Holy House. There is a reciprocal relation between the public square and the home.

The square is large and open, the place for meeting others, for dialog and for friendly confrontation. The house, on the other hand, is a place fo meditation and interior silence, where the Word can be heard in its profundity.

In order to bring God to the public square, he must first be internalized in our home, as Mary did in the Annunciation. And reciprocally, the house opens to the public square. That is suggested even by the fact that the Holy House of Loreto only has three walls, not four - it is an open house, open to the world, to life, and even to this Agora of italian youth.

Dear friends, it is a great privilege for Italy to have, in this most pleasant corner of the Marche region, the Sanctuary of the Holy House. Be rightly proud of it and take advantage. In the most important moments of your life, come here, at least in your heart, to gather yourself spiritually within the walls of the Holy House. Pray to the Virgin Mary that she may obtain for you the light and the power of the Holy Spirit in order to respond fully and generously to the voice of God. Then you will become his true witnesses in the public square, in society, bearer of a Gospel that is not abstract but incarnated in your own life.

Angelus Domini

Angelus Domini nuntiavit Marìae,
et concepit de Spiritu Sancto.
Ave Maria ...

Ecce Ancilla Domini,
fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum
Ave Maria ...

Et Verbum caro factum est,
et habitavit in nobis.
Ave Maria ...

Ora pro nobis, sancta Dei Genitrix.
Ut digni efficiamur promissionibus Christi.
Gratiam tuam, quaesumus, Domine,
mentibus nostris infunde;
ut qui, angelo nuntiante,
Christi Filii tui incarnationem cognovimus,
per passionem eius et crucem,
ad resurrectionis gloriam perducamur.
Per eundem Christum Dominum nostrum.
Gloria Patri ...

After leaving Montorso, the Holy Father returned to the Apostolic Palace for lunch with the bishops of the Permanent Council of the Italian bishops conference and with the members of his entourage.

9/3/2007 1:05 AM
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I posted an outrageous May 13 article written by a Carmelite priest (doctorate in civil and canon law, a judge in the Church Tribunal of Lazio province, and regular contributor to the MSM newspapers), which flatly called Pope Benedict's trip to Brazil 'a flop' (using the English term, even) - which the English media picked up.

Was it an aberration? - because almost every sentence of the brief article was questionable, and to fisk it was far more extensive work than the article itself. The basis for his 'flop' conclusion was a comparison with the crowds John Paul II drew on his three trips to Brazil (different era, different context, pre-evangelical boom).

Therefore, the following article translated from La Stampa after yesterday's encounter in Loreto is even more remarkable.

The shy theologian
who is more popular than Wojtyla

By Filippo Di Giacomo

Something Wojtylian still persists in Loreto - in the faux-liturgical pastiches which still reach the TV screens these days out of sheer inertia, even if now they only interest those who can profit from its show business aspects.

Above all, after Cologne, Rome and San Paolo, the 'Papa-boys' generation has perhaps understood that unlike Wojtylism and its fecund complexity, Ratzingerism does not admit the contradiction between stage spotlights and muted lights behind-the-scenes.

Do you remember the sardonic forecast the day after the election of`Benedict XVI that this was a Pope who was 'destined to empty the public squares and fill up the churches'? Even if he still has to fill up the churches, Papa Ratzinger has not emptied the public squares. Instead, even if we simply limit ourselves to young people, the numbers continue to rise.

Paradoxically, that part of Catholic youth that did not recognize itself fully in the Wojtylian assemblies - because they were educated in an intimate, coherent faith - are those who are setting the positive trend in favor of the new pontiff. [After 28 months, he is still the 'new' Pope?]

Because they have discovered a theologian-Pope who does not avoid dialog nor confrontation. And unlike John Paul II, who was able to easily contradict even what he himself may have said the previous day [???? Example????], Ratzinger has known how to tie up theology with all those fervid moments which, from John XXIII to our day, the Holy Spirit has granted to the Church.

The young people follow Ratzinger to hear him explain that 'something specifically Catholic' which the Pope, at the start of his Pontificate, had summarized this way: "Catholicism is not an accumulation of prohibitions but of positive options. And it is very important it should be seen in that light anew, because that consciousness today has almost completely disappeared. So much has been said instead on the things that are not allowed..."

These young people - and some not so young - have not chosen an easy school, those who follow Papa Ratzinger in order to know Christ. The German Pope's Magisterium is something that will probably be understood far more differently after - at the political and cultural levels- the themes and criteria still missing to date from that 'compatible secularism' that the nations of the European Union urgently need to define today.

Because one has to be deaf and blind to allege that the Catholic Church, in Italy and elsewhere in Europe, is in any way privileged by the State.

The Church, fully ensconced in history, is now treading along the ridge of a modernity compatible with the Church, continually having to discern means to safeguard the deposit of the faith, through a laborious process of reviewing its plans for its presence and action in the world.

Even in Loreto, the statement was made that the youth must be 'credible witnesses' for Christ. But the Christ and the Church as taught by Benedict XVI do not have anything to do with the speculations - of little political value - that only see in the youth of the Ratzingerian assemblies, either disciplined theo-con heirs or a boisterous crowd that opposes any debate on science, religion, and rights for everyone.

But as young people continue to assemble in order to learn from Ratzinger how to reclaim their Church back, the objective signal contained in the teachings of Benedict XVI should become clear from now on to Italian Catholics now involved in politics and society.

For two years, this Pope has been indicating how it is possible to re-start, from the pontifical Magisterium, a profound and serious discussion on the great central issues in theology and history as well as the premises that determine them.

On the Italian socio-political horizon, the 400,000 youth at Loreto would be nothing if they are only seen as an indicator of success for a Pope who loves to teach. But they are important if they are recognized as a piece of the continental and global mosaic which made Benedict XVI proclaim at the start of his Pontificate, "The Church is alive! And it is young!"

And if the Church is alive because of the faith, then it is not licit for any believer to transform Catholic values into a politically lethal weapon.

La Stampa, 2 settembre 2007


This one is translated from SIR, the news agency of the Italian bishops conference:

And they call this Pope timid?
The Pope fielded difficult questions
easily off the cuff

"And they call this Pope timid? He answered off the cuff, without beeding to be particular tactful, with some degree of tolerance but puinctilious theology, and taking on the weight of questions that were pitilessly stark, perhaps as though to underscore that he would never avoid such questions nor delegate them, because the Cross weighs on the shoulder of each and everyone, believer or not."

This was the comment of Sergio Zavoli, journalist and TV director, after yesterday's massive encounter of nearly half a million youth with Pope Benedict XVI.

"It was the first time that a great religious youth assembly was not reduced to merely its religious significance, no matter how edifying. It was the first time they gathered around the Pope in such an explicitly secular manner.

"All that presentation before the Pope, using the language of suffering - dialectical, anecdotal and arcane all at once - was, of course, still related to faith and a church that really does not prohibit any questions," Zavoli says. And in the 'crossroads' that Loreto represented, "everyone was free to 'arrive at', get to Benedict XVI through whatever individual path they took.

"In the intuition of whoever thought of giving this 'twist' to the youth assembly, the new element was the questions. And it was all about trying to understand the mystery of God's silence, of people wanting more to speak to the Pope first rather than just listening to him. It turned out to be a frank, painful but trusting appeal to the Pope, who received it all with wide welcoming arms," Zavoli concluded.


This was from Corriere della Sera:

The Agora encounter on TV:
The Pope turns out to be
the 'youngest', the most
informal, even the cheekiest!

By Aldo Grasso

A Pope's encounters with young people are always a media event, because of the inevitable presence of TV cameras.

And this latest assembly in Loreto, where the Holy Father was welcomed yesterday by 400,000 young people, immediately impressed with its communicative and charismatic power: the celebration, the songs, the prolonged applauses, the shouts, the imposing scenography of the stage and the location, the Pope's tour through the various sectors in the Popemobile, Andrea Bocelli singing Ave Maria - everything came together on TV to convey a story of great intensity, which was both news as well as ritual, a moment when, thanks above all to the presence of the Pope, a means of communication actually could seek to make its own performance as a medium memorable.

Moreover, television - as has been said so many times - is the new agora, a great virtual public square without barriers [and fittingly, the great assembly at Loreto is called the Agora of Italianj youth], an ideal and universal place even for 'an evening specially rich in prayers and song', to use the words of Benedict XVI himself. And so it was.

But when TV is there, one must abide by its rules, which - even if this was an assembly of faith - also requires that the presentation must serve to feed the enthusiasm both of the participants and the Christian community that is its audience.

So it is not surprising that something new was evident to the TV viewer last night, possibly marginal and insignificant in the context of the Agora. But in the mediatic sense, nothing of what is seen is without significance.

The young people who were used as presentors - reading passages or introducing numbers - were all unusually beautiful people, as if drawn from Central Casting. The girls with studiously casual hairdo and equally casual dresses that covered and revealed assets appropriately, blonde and blue-eyed girls as well as classic brunette beauties. For the first time, the old 'ecclesial' chestnut -according to which even young believers were supposed not to be concerned at all about how they look - was dropped.

And so for the first time, the young people who were expressing themselves in front of the Pope seemed to have - or wanted to show - complete confidence before the demanding TV eye.

We might suspect that the organizers did not even bother to choose from aong the actual Agora participants but simply hired actors to play the roles. Especially since the director of the whole evening was Bibi Ballandi, shadow director of RAI and manager of several TV and music stars, including Lucio Dalla,

But to whoever followed the extended telecast of RAI last night, the 'new look' that premiered in Loreto was further highlighted by a singular exception who did offer a striking contrast.

While the young participants were very proficient and were 'performing' or at least 'reciting'- because they were reading something prepared for them - Benedict XVI simply spoke off the cuff, unconcerned with form or with style.

And even if the issues he spoke on - from his exhortation never to stop dreaming to his warning against throwaway or disposable love - were extremely interesting as well as profound, it was he who seemed the youngest, the most informal, and even the cheekiest.

This is a beautiful lesson that should not be lost on the TV experts.

Corriere della sera, 2 settembre 2007

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/3/2007 9:45 PM]
9/3/2007 2:09 AM
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He may have had a Spartan dinner last night of clear broth, steamed veggies and boiled beef, but the Pope's lunch today was a bit more substantial and a full Italian meal, with first and second dishes (i.e., a pasta and an entree). Here's a story translated from the Ancona edition of Il Messaggero, posted by Lella on her blog.

Typical Marche dishes for the Pope

LORETO - Simplicity is the common feature of the best Marche specialties served to Pope Benedict and some 100 guests at lunch today in the Apostolic Palace adjoining the Basilica.

To begin, antipasti which included typical smoked meats and sausages, grilled vegetables, and a sausage-filled pastry served with lettuce and salad greens in oil.

Guests had a choice of spinosini or pennetti (pasta types) in a tomato-and-basil sauce for the first dish.

The entree was grilled filet (from cows raised in the Marche), served with baked new potatoes in extra-virgin olive oil from a local olive press.

And for dessert, a monumental cake created by a Loreto patisserie for the Pope on the basis of rice custard and pralines.

Wines were from the Garofoli vintners of Loreto and Santacassella of Porta Potenza.

In charge of the preparation and serving was the staff of the Antonio Nebbia advanced culinary institute in Loreto, whose chefs submitted menus from with the Apostolic Legate made the choice.

Il Messaggero (Ancona), 2 settembre 2007


I am obviously unable to keep up translating the volume of reportage on Loreto in the Italian press, but inasmuch as reports on the major events have been posted here in timely manner, I will post all other translations in this thread as I am able to.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/3/2007 2:27 PM]
9/3/2007 3:42 PM
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Pictures from Yahoo's service of the Pope's final event in Loreto yesterday
when he addressed the people of Loreto at the Piazza in front of the Basilica of the Holy House.
The Pope left Loreto yesterday afternoon after this encounter:

Here is the only story I have found so far that says anything about this final event, from L'Eco di Bergamo,
a northern Italian regional paper, thanks to Lella's blog. Here is a translation:

'Thank you, the Italian Church
has done incredible work'

by Alberto Bobbio

LORETO (ANCONA), Sept. 2 - Pope Benedict XVI left Loreto after saying "Thank you" to the people of Loreto, and great praise for the Italian bishops conference (CEI) which organized the huge Agora for Italian Youth. And warm thanks, even as he was stepping onto the helicopter that took him back to Castel Gandolfo, to Guido Bertolaso, who oversaw the vast work of security and civil protection for the two-day youth assembly.

"The Italian Church has done truly incredibly work," Pope Benedict VI
said at the end of lunch with members of the Permanent Council of the CEI and almost a hundred other guests, including Vice Premier Francesco Rutelli, representing the Italian government.

"It is a source of great joy to see all this young people working alongside their bishops and priests," the Pope said, according to Fr. Ciro Benedettini, deputy press director of the Vatican.

The Pope also noted the presence of a delegation of Australian youth at the Agora, saying that the experience of the Agora could be useful for the World Youth Day in Sydney next July.

Rutelli and his wife at Communion yesterday.

Earlier, Vice Premier Rutelli had reaffirmed "the commitment of public institutions to work with the Church in the interest of the common good, with full respect of each other's autonomy."

After the luncheon, the Bishop of Macerata, Mons. Claudio Giuliodori, who has been a spokesman for the CEI, thanked the Italian government in the name of the dioceses of the Marche region for "the excellent collaboration in the preparations for and execution of the Loreto events."

Lunch was pasta in a tomato-basil sauce and grilled filet with vegetables. While the guests drank Marche wines, the Pope had his customary orange juice.

Meanwhile, the Agora participants left the Montorso assembly area in very orderly manner. The Italian railway service had to organize three special convoys - in addition to all the other special trains previously organized for the Agora and the system's regular service - to accommodate everyone leaving Loreto.

In the afternoon, the Pope met the faithful of Loreto in the piazza in front of the Basilica of the Holy House.

"At this time, I truly feel at home," he told them. He recalled John Paul II's encounter in 1995 at Montorso with young people from all over Europe, and said that with his predecessor, he shared a veneration for Loreto as the 'Marian heart" of Italy, and said he would continue to keep Loreto in his prayers.

Introducing the Pope, Archbishop Danzi said that Benedict XVI has been "a father, a pastor and a teacher" for the Church as well as for the people of Loreto.

Loreto Mayor Moreno Pieroni, a Social Democrat, expressed the
'profound emotion' of the city for the Pope's visit. To great applause, he recalled the words of John Paul II on his first visit to Loreto as Pope in 1979, when he called the Holy House of Nazareth "the house of Our lady, the house of the family and all young people, and therefore also, the house of the Pope."

The town presented the Pope with an art book on artists and poets of the Marche region. Some children also gave him drawings made by them.

L'Eco di Bergamo, 3 settembre 2007


I have barely kept up with the Italian media reports on the Pope's first day in Loreto and his encounter with the Agora youth, and now there's an equal pile of reportage and commentary about yesterday's Mass. Again, as with the September 1 events, since the initial reports on both events were posted in a timely manner here, I will post other translations as I am able to do them.


Here's a very good story about the final event in Loreto from the 'special' today in the Marche edition of Il Messaggero, which has many excellent articles on the Agora, which definitely warrant translation:

Loreto is ecstatic:
'This is also my home',
Benedict XVI says


LORETO - "Loreto is also the home of the Pope," Benedict XVI's words came like a warm embrace over a crowded Piazza della Madonna, causing a thrill of recognition among those who remembered the same words said by John Paul II on September 8, 1979, when he first visited Loreto as Pope.

Loreto Mayor Moreno Pieroni referred to the Polish Pope's words in welcoming the German Pope to the only event specifically devoted to the people of Loreto on his two-day visit for the Agora of Italian Youth.

Benedict promptly picked up on it. "In these hours," he said, "I have felt truly at home. Thank you all, and thanks to the young people of the Agora."

From 4 p.m. on, Corso Boccalini, the main street, festooned with yello-and-white Vatican flags, started filling up with people, all the way towards the Piazza in front of the Basilica, already packed by people who had been waiting under the sun for hours.

The Piazza too was decorated as for a feast day with flowers everywhere, and the citizens of Loreto awaiting His Holiness.

At 16:41, the bells pealed and the Black Madonna was borne out of the Basilica to an ovation from the crowd. After a moment, the chanting of BE-NE-DET-TO started, as the Holy Father was seen emerging into the third-floor loggia running along the length of the Apostolic Palace which delineates the left side of the Piazza.

At 16:45, the Pope stepped onto the Piazza to a fresh wave of thunderous applause from the crowd. The stadium-style chanting and cheers seemed endless, thousands of camera flashes welcomed and illumined him, but none was more illuminating than the radiance of holiness that Benedict himself emanates.

The waving of flags and handkerchiefs that greeted him, the arms raised in greeting, seemed like a wave engulfing the Pope and washing up against the Basilica behind him.

Benedict XVI acknowledged the greeting with open arms and finally, took his seat.

Mons. Gianni Danzi, Apostolic Legate to Loreto and Bishop of the Special Prelature, greeted him: "Most Blessed Father, with hearts full of gratitude, we wish to convey to Your Holiness the greeting of all the Church, our sentiments and profound thanks for the days you have spent with us in the shadow of the Holy House of Nazareth."

Making reference to the Annunciation which, according to tradition, took place within the walls venerated in Loreto, Mons. Danzi said, "Thank you for accompanying us in reaffirming our total Yes to God."

"I thank you all from the heart and greet each of you - thank you all for this welcome," the Pope said when it was his turn to speak. Applause kept interrupting his short remarks, and cheers of 'VIVA IL PAPA' alternated with 'VIVA LA MADONNA'.

Acclamation for the Pope appeared unanimous, even among those who could not find place in the Piazza.

Marina, a lady in her 60s, said: "He is a true shepherd and a great personality. He seems fragile, and although he has been described as a cold, remote person, he comes across as very refined, very profound and intense. As a great man."

Vittorio, 50: "Humble, intelligent, accessible, full of enthusiasm - and he conveys it!"

Donatella, in her 40s, has tears in her eyes as she continues tkaing pictures: "He is making himself known to us and he is succeeding very well - he's someone whom one comes to love more and more."

Meanwhile, the Pope was telling the faithful something he had told the 500,000 pilgrims at the Mass in Montorso earlier: "The Holy House is truly the center and the heart of this city. Never forget that you live in the shadow of the Holy House. Take advantage of it." Once again, the ovation sounded like a volcanic explosion.

And to such an eruption of enthusiasm behind him, the Pope took his leave of Loreto for this time.

Il Messaggero (Marche), 3 settembre 2007


Here is a translation of the Vatican bulletin about this event.


At 16:30, before leaving the Apostolic Palace, the Holy Father greeted a delegation of the Organizing Committee, the Pontifical Delegation and the Civil Protection units of the government at the Loggia. Also present was Vice Premier Francesco Rutelli, who is concurrently Minister for Cultural Assets and for Tourism.

At 17:00, the Pope met the faithful of the city of Loreto at the Piazza in front of the Basilica. After introductions by Archbishop Prelate Gianni Danzi and Mayor Moreno Pieroni, the Holy Father delivered the following message (translated here):

Dear Brother, Pastor of the Church in Loreto,
Mister Mayor of this singular Marian city,
dearest faithful of Loreto:

Thank you for this meeting which concludes my brief visit here in Loreto, where I was able to meet so many young people and live with them experiences of powerful eucharistic and Marian spirituality.

But I could not miss dedicating some time, although quite brief, expressly for the community of Loreto. The kind words of your Pastor and that of your first citizen have expressed the esteem and affection that you have for the person of the Pope.

I thank you from the heart and I greet each one of you with warm cordiality. Thank you for your hospitality!

Loreto - your Mayor has said, recalling some words of my beloved predecessor John Paul II - is also the Pope's home, and I must say that here, in these past hours, I have truly felt at home.

Thank you for all you have done to make fruitful the visit by myself and my co-workers, but also that of the young people of the Agora.

In truth, you the residents of Loreto, are used to similar huge youth assemblies with the Pope, of which your mayor just recalled EurHope, whch John Paul II had with European youth in 1995. I am sure that beyind certain inevitable inconveniences that such events necessarily bring, these religious events, like the daily influx of pilgrims coming here from all over Italy and other parts of the world, represent for you valuable opportunities to trasure increasingly.

They constitute a constant invitation to grow in faith and in devotion to the Madonna. Never forget the great privilege you have of living in the shadow of the Holy House. Take advantage of this to
carry on with Mary, our celestial mother, a filial dialog of trust and love.

With your hospitality you offer the visitors and devotees daily testimony of the maternal love that in this place, particularly, Mary grants to all her children. May the Holy House be truly the center and heart of your city!

In bedding you farewell, dear friends, I ask you to convey to your families my greeting and the assurance that I will continue to have Loreto in my prayers. I will remember each of your residents, particualrly those who suffer and who find themselves in material and spiritual diffficulties.

In special way, I will remember the patients of the hospital which I could not visit this time, to whom I send my affectionate greeting.

For each and everyone, I invoke once more the maternal assistance of Mary, and as I renew my expressions of gratitude, I bless you will all my affection.

At the end of the meeting, the Pope received tributes from some children, and then was driven to the John Paul II Youth Center in Montorso.

In the interior courtyard of the Center, the Holy Father blessed some ceramic gourpings representing the Beatitudes and posed for pictures with a group of young people from Mediterranean countries who are taking part in the fifth edition of the Agora of Mediterranean youth.

At 17:45, the Holy Father boarded a helicopter to return to Castel Gandolfo, where he was scheduled to arrive at 18:45.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 9/4/2007 2:56 AM]
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