From Asia News Italy:
Just two days before his trip to Turkey, Benedict XVI today asked an enormous crowd of pilgrims gathered in St Peter’s Square for the Angelus to accompany him “in prayer, so that this pilgrimage may bear all the fruits that God desires”. The voyage of the pope to Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul is presenting problems, given the opposition voiced by a section of Turkish opinion linked to Islamist and nationalist ideology, and certain hesitation on the part of the Ankara government. The pope has bypassed these tensions: “From now, I want to send cordial greetings to the dear Turkish people, rich in history and culture; to these people and its representatives, I express sentiments of respect and sincere friendship.” As a mark of this respect, the organizers of the papal trip are trying to fit a visit to Istanbul’s Blue Mosque into the pontiff’s already packed schedule. Anyhow, the aim of the trip is to participate in celebrations for the feast of St Andrew on 30 November together with the Greek-Orthodox Patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I. The pope continued: “With great emotion, I look forward to meeting the small Catholic community, which is always in my heart, and to uniting fraternally with the Orthodox Church on the occasion of the feast of the apostle St Andrew. With confidence, I follow in the footsteps of my venerated predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II and I invoke the heavenly protection of the Blessed John XXIII who for 10 years was Apostolic Delegate in Turkey and who fostered affection and respect for that nation.”
Before, Benedict XVI dwelt upon the meaning of today’s feast: Christ, King of the universe.
The pope said: “He did not come to dominate peoples and lands, but to free men from the slavery of sin and to reconcile them with God.” The pontiff turned to the gospel of today’s Mass, which presents the dialogue between Jesus and Pilate, during which the scourged Jesus claims for himself the title of king and witness of truth. “But what is the ‘truth’ that Christ came to testify to in the world?” asked the pope. “His entire existence reveals that God is love: this then is the truth to which He bore full witness with the sacrifice of his very life on Calvary. The Cross is the ‘throne’ from which he revealed the sublime royalty of God Love: offering himself in expiation for the sins of the world, He defeated the dominion of ‘the prince of this world’ (Jn 12:31) and he installed the Kingdom of God definitively. A Kingdom that would manifest itself fully at the end of time, after all its enemies, finishing with death, would have been destroyed (cfr 1 Cor 15:25, 26).
The way to “enter” into God’s Kingdom “does not permit shortcuts”; rather, “every person must freely welcome the truth of the love of God. He is Love and Truth and both love and truth never impose themselves: they knock at the door of the heart and mind and, wherever they may enter, they bring peace and joy. This is God’s way of reigning; this is his project of salvation, a ‘mystery’ in the biblical sense of the word, which is a plan that is revealed little by little throughout history.”
Benedict XVI added: “The sovereignty of Christ has been associated in a most singular way with the Virgin Mary. God asked Her, the humble girl from Nazareth, to become the Mother of the Messiah, and Mary responded to this call with all of herself, uniting her unconditional ‘yes’ with that of the Son Jesus, making herself obedient with Him to the extent of sacrifice. For this, God exalted her above all creatures and Christ crowned her Queen of Heaven and earth. We entrust the Church and all humanity to her intercession, that God’s love may reign in all hearts and that his plan of justice and peace may be done.”