Page 1, 10th November 1978

10th November 1978
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Page 1, 10th November 1978 — Pope vows to speak out
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People: John Paul
Locations: Avignon, Assisi, Rome

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Pope vows to speak out

Pope John Paul II will speak out tirelessly on major issues concerning the role of the Church in the world today.

He made that clear in an off-the-cuff statement given to the crowd which packed the little town of Assisi last Sunday for his visit to the tomb of St Francis.

As he was about to climb the steps to the helicopter a voice

from the crowd shouted "Talk to us some more". The Pope replied: "T will always talk for this is not a Church of silence."

Obviously he was not referring to the persecuted Church behind the Iron Curtain, which is often referred to as "the Church of silence", but rather to his own plans for clear, firm leadership.

The visits to the tomb of St Francis and later to that of St Catherine of Siena in Rome cemented the affection of Italians for their first non-Italian Pope in centuries.

From start to finish the two pilgrimages were triumphal processions and a proof of the stamina of this new athletic successor to St Peter.

In Assisi he stressed the reasons for his visit: "I have wished to dedicate this day to the patron saints of this land, Italy. It is a land to which God has called me so that I may serve as successor of Saint Peter. Since I was not born on this soil, I feel all the more the need here for a spiritual `birth'."

Pope John Paul told the crowd that the Franciscan message "spread far and wide, beyond the boundaries of Italy, and very early it reached also the soil of Poland, my homeland ...

"As Archbishop of Krakow, 1 lived near a very old Franciscan church, and now and then I would go there to pray, to make the way of the cross and to visit the Chapel of Our Lady of sorrows."

From Assisi, the Pope flew directly back to the Vatican and then drove to the Church of Santa Maria Sopra Minerva, where St Catherine's body lies exposed to view beneath the high altar.

Again vast crowds were there to greet him.

He used the occasion to speak of the great mission that St Catherine had accomplished in bringing the Papacy back from Avignon to Rome and of the role of the woman in the Church to. day.




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