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Pope draws lesson from water in Venice

By on Monday, 9 May 2011

Benedict XVI takes a gondola across the Grand Canal in Venice (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Benedict XVI takes a gondola across the Grand Canal in Venice (CNS photo/Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

Visiting Venice, the city of gondolas and canals, Pope Benedict XVI has said Christians must try to make their lives reflect the life-giving qualities of water and not the chaos and destruction it can bring.

Pope Benedict said at the end of a two-day visit to Aquileia and Venice in northern Italy: “Water is an ambivalent symbol: of life, but also death; the populations struck by flooding and tsunamis know this.”

Seated in a white gondola amid a colorful flotilla of all kinds of boats, Pope Benedict rode to a meeting with Venetian cultural, artistic, political and economic leaders.

He said Venetians knew how fascinating water had made their city and, yet, how many difficulties it had caused, particularly for the health and stability of the city.

Residents, he said, could choose to reflect either the beautiful or the problematic qualities of water in their relationships with others and in the way they organise their life together. Either they are “fluid” to the extent of being adrift and destructive, or they hold firm to their Christian heritage and become a source of life for all, he said.

Celebrating Mass for an estimated 300,000 people in a park in nearby Mestre that morning, Pope Benedict preached about the Gospel story of the disciples meeting the risen Jesus on the road of Emmaus. The story, he said, was about “conversion from desperation to hope, conversion from sadness to joy and, also, conversion to community life”.

“Sometimes when one speaks of conversion, people think only about the hard work, detachment and renunciation it involves. But Christian conversion is most of all a source of joy, hope and love,” as seen in the Gospel story when the disciples discover that Jesus truly rose from the dead and they return to Jerusalem to share the good news with the other disciples.

Too many Christians today tend to live like the disciples going toward Emmaus: they once knew Jesus or heard about him, but now they are “immersed in doubt, sadness and disappointment”, he said.

“The problem of evil, of pain and suffering, the problem of injustice and oppression, the fear of others, of foreigners and of those from far away who reach our lands and seem to threaten who we are, can lead Christians today to say: we had hoped that the Lord would free us from evil, pain, suffering, fear and injustice,” the Pope said.

The only truly Christian response, he said, was to recognise that Christ had risen and continues to be present in his Church, helping people respond to new challenges with hope and trust.

The Pope began his weekend visit in Aquileia, an ancient Roman city at the extreme northeastern edge of Italy. Many of the town’s early Christians were martyred under the Emperor Diocletian in 303.

During an outdoor meeting with residents of the town, Pope Benedict said he wanted to visit Aquileia “to admire this rich and ancient tradition, but also to confirm you in the deep faith of your forefathers”.

  • Memory-of-Forever

    what’s with all the rich boats and the fancy chairs and stuff? the church should be poorer.. enough with the pope flying in excellent jets and 90,000$$ cars!!

  • ss

    He is the Holy Father. The vicar of Christ. God supplies all our needs according to His riches in Glory. Humility in Spirit, Loved and honored by the church. We honor Christ when we take care of pray for the Holy Father. They don’t ask for the pampering, Perhaps the church supplies it as a sign of God’s abundant mercy and love. When we care for each other we are caring for Jesus. Let go of judgement and perhaps read the words of the Holy Father’s writings. Look not with with your five senses but let the eyes of your understanding be opened. God Bless you.

  • Caisake

    He has give himself for the service of the Lord and how we who cannot give ourself totally to God ‘s vineyard try to critise what the Lord has prepared for him. If we critise Pope or clergy of the Church we should pray that one of your generation be willing to go for priesthood or even you as criticism man

  • Ratbag

    What do you expect the Holy Father to do? Fly Easyjet or Brianair? Go around in a Mini? Hire a donkey? Shop at the Co-Op?

    For your information, the gondola was previously and especially made for the late Pope (now Blessed) John Paul II on his visit to Venice many years ago, including the cushions.

    I bet my bottom dollar that you’d even complain if the Holy Father was seen enjoying a cornetto at the same time! How indulgent!

    Why not go the whole hog, then, Memory-of-Forever? Tell the Queen to sell Buck House, Balmoral, Sandringham and the Crown Jewels. Tell The President of the United States puts the White House up for sale and give up his Presidential car, which is far more expensive than the Pope’s.

    Or, for that matter, tell Nicolas Sarkozy opens up Versailles as a Metro station. Or President Medvedev to shift his carcass from the former imperial palaces in Russia to a gulag with an olivetti manual typewriter!

    Like these world leaders, the Holy Father has inherited the tools of the trade, accommodation with the job (which is quite small, actually) and staff to help him. 

    Why are you so obsessed about the Pope’s fixtures and fittings anyway? The €90,000 cars might have extra security stuff fitted on since JP2 had several attempts on his life and are specially adapted for his flock to get a close look at him. His aeroplane is an extention of his office. Often, certain national carriers like Iberia or Alitalia fly the Holy Father from A to B.

    World poverty and hunger would not be solved by the proceeds from the sales of these things. As Christ said, the poor will always be with us.