Pope Calls Priests to Bring God’s Mercy to the World


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(30 Jun 10 - RV) On Wednesday Pope Benedict XVI dedicated his audience to the figure of an nineteenth century Italian Priest devoted to bringing God's mercy to those on the margins of the Church and society, St Joseph Cafasso.

"In these days we celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of a great model of priestly holiness and apostolic zeal, Saint Joseph Cafasso, a priest of Turin, Italy, in the nineteenth century".

Joseph Cafasso was born in 1811 in the same Northern Italian town as St. John Bosco. At the age of 22 he was ordained a priest and went to work at the boarding school of St Francis of Assisi in Turin. There he remained for his entire life, becoming a spiritual father to many priests who devoted themselves to improving the spiritual and social conditions of the people of their time, priests such as St John Bosco.

The Holy father said :"Saint Joseph devoted his entire ministry to the formation of priests, spiritual direction and service to the poor, especially prisoners condemned to death".

In Italian, the Pope added "St Joseph paid attention to the humble and in particular to prisoners who in nineteenth century Turin lived in inhumane and dehumanizing situations". "He was a good shepherd, understanding and compassionate." "The inmates were captivated, his presence consoled them, touching hardened hearts". "The condemned to death were subject to a special human and spiritual treatment." He accompanied 57 of them "with deep love and respect until the end of their earthly existence".

In greetings at the end of his audience, Pope Benedict welcomed the 12 Archbishops from English speaking countries who received the Pallium from him on Tuesday. Calling each man by name, he also greeted the large groups of faithful who accompanied their pastors to Rome, some from as far afield as Lesotho and Zimbabwe in Africa, from Korea and the Philippines, from England and the USA.

To them, their families and their churches at home he said: "Dear Brothers, I ask the Lord to strengthen all of you in your witness to the apostolic faith and in generous service to the flocks entrusted to your care".

And taking his leave of the 25 thousand people who packed St Peter's square despite the midday heat he had a special word of thanks to a group of pilgrims from Schola Cantorum of Saint Peter's Cathedral, Belfast, "for their praise of God in song".