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Monday, February 27, 2017
Pope speaks on the Eucharist; comforts victims in USA and Iraq
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 Before his reflection on the Angelus yesterday, Pope Benedict called for all Catholics to be involved in preparation for next month's Synod on the Eucharist with prayer and reflection. He also later had words of comfort for hurricane victims in the United States and people in Iraq. Speaking at his Summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, the Holy Father spoke of the approaching end of the "Year of the Eucharist called by Pope John Paul II to revive Christian faith, wonder and love for this important sacrament which constitutes the very treasure of the Church". The Pope recalled the devotion with which John Paul II celebrated Mass "and how much time he spent in adoring, silent prayer in front of the Tabernacle", and at the hour of his death he offered his life with that of Christ in the Mass being celebrated at his bedside. "His earthly life came to an end on the Octave of Easter, right at the heart of this Eucharistic Year in which we have passed from his great pontificate to mine. With joy therefore, from the beginning of this service to which the Lord has called me, I reaffirm the centrality of the Sacrament of the real presence of Christ in the life of the Church and that of individual Christians." The Pope went on to recall references to the mystery of the Eucharist also on the occasion of World Youth Day in Cologne, Germany, during the Vigil on 20 August, at Marienfeld, "which had adoration of the Eucharist as its culmination". Several churches in Cologne, Bonn and Düsseldorf organised twenty-four hour adoration with the participation of many young people. Lastly Benedict XVI said he hoped that in every community participation in the Eucharist would be "ever more fervent and frequent", and in particular he urged Catholics "make holy with joy the 'Lord's Day' Sunday, a holy day for Christians". After the Angelus prayer the Pope turned his thoughts to the hurricane victims in America and the people killed in a panic stampede in Baghdad: "In recent days we were all saddened by the disaster caused by a hurricane in the United States of America, New Orleans especially. I wish to assure my prayers for the dead and their families, for the injured and the displaced, for the sick, the children, the old people; I bless those involved in difficult work of rescue and rebuilding. I have charged the President of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes to carry my solidarity to the stricken people. My thoughts go also to the people in Iraq who last Wednesday saw hundreds of their fellow citizens , mostly old people, women and children, gathered in Baghdad for a religious commemoration, killed in an irreversible stampede of panic. May Almighty God touch every heart so that an atmosphere of reconciliation and reciprocal trust may be installed at last in that travailed land."
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