Pope asks for prayers at start of Lenten retreat

 Pope John Paul II began his annual retreat on Sunday evening, with other members of the Roman Curia. During his reflections before the Sunday Angelus with the faithful in St Peter's Square, the Holy Father spoke of the Gospel on the temptations of Jesus, of his Lenten Message centred on children and of the spiritual exercises that he and other members of the Curia were starting that evening. The Pope said that in the Gospel of this first Sunday of Lent, Christ, "sustained by the Holy Spirit, withdrew to the desert where he remained for forty days. The Gospel account tells us of the three well-known temptations which are an echo of the old deception that Satan used to make our ancestors fall. But Christ, the new Adam, overcame them, rejecting decisively His tempter: 'It has been said; You shall not tempt the Lord your God'. Jesus' victory over evil assures us that we will not yield at the moment of trial if we remain united to the Spirit." The Holy Father then spoke of his Message for Lent 2004 "in which I wished to recall, in a special way, children, who are often the innocent victims of man's evil deeds." Noting that children were special for Christ, he said: "May this time of the liturgical year be transformed into a generous match of solidarity towards these little ones, especially those in the most grave danger and difficulties." "Dear brothers and sisters, "said the Pope in conclusion, "I ask you to pray for this intention. I also ask you to accompany me spiritually in the retreat that will start, as they do every year, this evening" in the Vatican.

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