2012-01-29 Vatican RadioEarly Sunday morning, Rome was woken to the sound of song as thousands of young boys and girls from the Catholic Action group wound their Caravan of Peace through the city’s streets on route to St. Peter’s Square. In two thousand cities across the world other young people, like them, were also marking the International Day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land. Listen to Emer McCarthy's report:
“We want to bring the joy of our faith onto the streets”, Noemi, a young girl told Pope Benedict, joining him at the window of his study for the annual release of two white doves following the midday Angelus prayer. In prepared remarks, she spoke of Catholic Action’s commitment to reflect, even in silence, on the value of peace, recalling those children who are born into difficult situations and of how their group is sponsoring a detention centre, as an alternative to prison, for underage girls in Bolivia.
"We ask you to pray with us for our parents, teachers and priests so that we may be formed to be witnesses and peacemakers”, she concluded. Then two young people, together with Pope Benedict, released the two doves, a gesture the Holy Father described as a " sign of peace for the city of Rome and the whole world" and on seeing that the doves at first seemed to want to go back inside, he jokingly added: "They want to stay in the Pope’s house."
The International Day of intercession for peace in the Holy Land was born from the desire of some Catholic youth associations, in communion with the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem and the Holy Land and involves churches of the 5 continents. Father Pierbattista Pizzaballa is the Custodian of the Holy Land. He says “the first that we as Christians could and should do is refer all of our aims for peace to God. Peace means relations, good relations among us and our relations should start first and foremost from our relations with God”. “The youth have the responsibility to build a mentality and culture of peace in the next generation. This is a very important moment”.
Earlier in his reflections before the Angelus Pope Benedict spoke of the Sunday Gospel where we hear how the unclean spirit recognizes Jesus as the “Holy One of God”. He said: “For man, authority often means possession, power, control, success. For God, however, authority means service, humility, love”.
Pope Benedict also marked World Leprosy Day encouraging “all those affected by this disease, as well as their caregivers who, in many ways, are committed to eradicating poverty and marginalization, the real causes of the persistence of the infection”.
And finally he recalled that on Thursday, February 2, we celebrate the feast of the Presentation of Our Lord in the Temple, the World Day for Consecrated Life. To mark the occasion, Pope Benedict will preside at Vespers in St. Peter’s Basilica at 17.30, together with members of the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.