Sunday, January 20, 2008

"Pope Day" in the Piazza

Amid an atmosphere one attendee described as "electric," early estimates tip the crowd for today's Angelus in the 200,000 range.

Following last week's student protests that led to B16's cancellation of a planned appearance and lecture (fulltext) at Rome's University of La Sapienza, the Urban vicar Cardinal Camillo Ruini encouraged a large turnout as a show of "affection, serenity and joy" -- and solidarity with the pontiff. A large crowd had already been foreseen for the Rome diocese's annual "Day of the Catholic School," but Ruini's appeal served to increase the final attendance even further.

After the Marian prayer and its opening catechesis on the current observance of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the Pope addressed the Sapienza controversy, thanking the many who showed, Ruini for "promoting" the event and repeating his regrets over his absence from the Thursday opening of the university's academic year.

Going unusually personal, Papa Ratzi said the following to the midday meeting:
"The university environment, which for many years was my world, linked for me a love for the seeking of truth, for exchange, for frank and respectful dialogue between differing positions. All this, too, is the mission of the church, charged to faithfully follow Jesus, the Teacher of life, of truth and of love. As a professor, so to say, emeritus, who's encountered many students in his life, I encourage you, dear collegians, to always be respectful of other people's opinions and to seek out, with a free and responsible spirit, the truth and the good. To all and each of you I renew the expression of my gratitude, assuring you of my affection and prayers."
Per usual, several attendees held signs and banners aloft. This week, however, many referred to the week's events, with one blaring in Italian that "Science Without Conscience Isn't Wisdom" -- a pun on the Italian word for "wisdom"... Sapienza.

PHOTO: Loggiarazzi