17-September-2006 -- Vatican Information Service |

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VATICAN CITY, SEP 17, 2006 (VIS) - Before praying the Angelus with pilgrims gathered in the internal courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castelgandolfo, Benedict XVI recalled his recent trip to Bavaria, describing it as "a deep spiritual experience," that brought together "personal memories linked to places well known to me and pastoral initiatives towards an effective proclamation of the Gospel for today."

He then went on: "At this time, I wish also to add that I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address at the University of Regensburg, which were considered offensive to the sensibility of Muslims. These in fact were a quotation from a medieval text, which do not in any way express my personal thought.

"Yesterday, the Cardinal Secretary of State published a statement in this regard in which he explained the true meaning of my words. I hope that this serves to appease hearts and to clarify the true meaning of my address, which in its totality was and is an invitation to frank and sincere dialogue, with great mutual respect."

The Pope then referred to the recent liturgical feasts of the Exaltation of the Cross (September 14) and of Our Lady of Sorrows (September 15) which come together, he said, "in the traditional image of the Crucifixion, with the Virgin Mary at the foot of the Cross."

"What does it mean to exalt the Cross? Is it not a scandal to venerate so shameful a gibbet?" asked the Pope. Yet, "Christians do not exalt any cross, but that particular Cross which Jesus sanctified with His sacrifice, fruit and witness of immense love. Christ on the Cross spilt all His blood to free humanity from the slavery of sin and death. And thus, from a sign of iniquity, the Cross has been transformed to a sign of blessing, from a symbol of death to the symbol par excellence of the Love that overcomes hatred and violence, and generates immortal life."

In the same way, Mary's suffering "forms a single whole with that of her Son. It is a suffering full of faith and love. The Virgin at Calvary participates in the salvific power of Christ's suffering, uniting her 'fiat' to that of her Son."

"Let us too renew our 'yes' to God Who chose the way of the Cross to save us. It is a great mystery that is still taking place, until the end of the world, and that also needs our collaboration."

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