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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good evening everyone and thank you for coming. I want to thank the Italian Catholic Action who has organized this torchlight procession.
Fifty years ago, on this day, I was also here in this Square, looking towards this window where the good Pope, Blessed John[XIII], was overlooking and spoke to us with unforgettable words, words full of poetry, of kindness; words of the heart.
We were happy – I would say – and full of enthusiasm. The great Ecumenical Council had begun; we were sure that a new springtime for the Church was coming, a new Pentecost, with a new strong presence of the liberating grace of the Gospel.
Today we are happy as well, we carry joy in our hearts, but I would say a more sober joy, a humble joy. In these 50 years we have learned and experienced that original sin exists and is translated, always anew, in personal sins, which can also become structures of sin. We have seen that in the field of the Lord there are always weeds. We have seen that in Peter's net there are also bad fish. We have seen that human frailty is present in the Church as well, that the ship of the Church is sailing against the current, with storms that threaten the ship and sometimes we thought: "The Lord sleeps and he has forgotten us."
This is one part of the experience made in these 50 years, but we have also had a new experience of the presence of the Lord, of his goodness, of his strength. The fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Christ is not a consuming or destructive fire; it is a silent fire, a small flame of goodness, of goodness and of truth that transforms, that gives warmth and light. We have seen that the Lord does not forget us. Even today, in His own humble way, the Lord is present and gives warmth to the heart, shows life, creates charisms of goodness and charity that illuminates the world and are for us a guarantee of the goodness of God. Yes, Christ lives, and he is with us today as well, and we can also be happy today because his goodness does not extinguish, it is strong even today.
In closing, I dare to make mine the unforgettable worlds of Pope John: "Go to your homes, give a kiss to your children and tell them it is from the Pope."
In this sense, with all my heart I impart my Blessing: "Blessed be the name of the Lord..."
[Translation by ZENIT]