Students cheer Pope at general audience

 A large group of students from Sapienza University attended Pope Benedict's general audience yesterday held in Pope Paul VI Hall. The 6,000 strong crowd applauded while the students shouted "freedom, freedom". "If Benedict does not go to La Sapienza, La Sapienza comes to Benedict", read one of the banners that the young people raised. "So there are three places where the Pope cannot go: Moscow, Beijing, and the university of Rome", commented one of the young people present at the audience. Pope Benedict didn't mention the university in his address. For the second week, he focussed on Saint Augustine, dwelling in particularly on the last year of the life of the bishop of Hippo, who died during the Vandal assault on his city in 430. The Pope recalled Augustine's appeal to the priests to remain close to the faithful in moments of difficulty, as so many priests have done so often throughout history. Benedict XVI recalled Augustine's protests against the conflict that would lead to the barbarian invasion, citing the statement that "the greater honour is that of slaying war with the word, rather than slaying men with the sword," and of "defending peace with peace". The tragic events of killing and devastation that struck the region drove some priests to ask the bishop if it were right to flee in order to save one's life. "When all are in danger", Augustine replied, in the words repeated by the Pope, "those who are in need should not be abandoned by those whose duty it is to assist them. They should be saved together, or face calamity together. This is the supreme proof of charity". He said: "The world recognises in these words the heroic message that so many priests throughout the ages have welcomed and made their own". In the third month of the siege, the Pope said , Augustine was confined to bed with the illness that would end his life. He affirmed that no one - bishop, priest, or layperson - can face death without doing penance. Augustine died on August 4 of the year 430. His body was brought to Sardinia, and from there to Pavia, where it still rests. Pope Benedict said: "When I read the writings of Saint Augustine, I do not get the impression that he was a man who died about 1,600 years ago, but that he is a man of today, a friend, a contemporary, who speaks to me, who speaks to us, with his faith that is still fresh and relevant today". Finally, greeting the Italians present, Benedict XVI talked about the Week for Christian Unity that begins tomorrow, and is in its hundredth year. He said: "The theme is the summons of Saint Paul to the Thessalonians to 'pray without ceasing', a call that I gladly make my own and that I extend to the entire Church. Yes, it is necessary to pray without ceasing, asking God for the great gift of unity among all of the Lord's disciples". Source: VIS/AsiaNews

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