Pope On a Boat
At the end of one of his pontificate's more significant weeks, B16 spent this weekend in Italy's Northeast, the trip culminating with a gondola ride along Venice's Grand Canal with the city's patriarch, Cardinal Angelo Scola.
Before heading to the famous water city (three of whose chief pastors became 20th century Popes), the pontiff went to the humbler town of Aquileia -- its Christian roots dating to the 4th century -- telling its residents that, in the words of St Paul, "God chooses those the world sees as weak and stupid" to reveal his glory.
Among other engagements in Venice -- where this morning's open-air Mass drew some 300,000 (three times its predicted crowd) -- Benedict addressed a gathering of its leaders of culture, the arts and finance, saying that, while "the greatest force for the transformation of the world," the Gospel "is not a utopia, nor is it an ideology.
"Above all," the Pope said, "the first generations of Christians called it 'the way' -- how to live as Christ first practiced, and that he calls us to follow."
The primate of Italy returned to Rome earlier tonight... and for the rest, fulltexts to follow.