Vatican City, 20 May 2012 (VIS) - After praying the Regina Coeli this morning, the Pope expressed his outrage at the "cowardly attack" against a school in the Italian town of Brindisi on Saturday morning, which killed a sixteen-year-old girl and wounded six others.
"Let us pray together for the wounded, some very seriously, and especially for young Melissa, an innocent victim of brutal violence and for her family, who are suffering", he said.
The Holy Father then turned his attention to the earthquake which struck the Italian region of Emilia Romagna early this morning leaving seven dead, around fifty injured and more than 4,000 people homeless. "I am spiritually close to those who are suffering from this calamity. We implore God's mercy for those who are dead and relief from suffering for the wounded".
The Pope also mentioned the World Day of Social Communications, which is being celebrated today on the theme of "Silence and Word: Path of Evangelisation". He said: "Silence is an integral part of communication, it is a privileged place of encounter with the Word of God and our brothers and sisters. I invite everyone to pray that communications, in all its forms, may always serve to establish a genuine dialogue with others, founded on mutual respect, listening and sharing".
Benedict XVI went on: "Thursday 24 May is a day dedicated to the liturgical memorial of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians, venerated with great devotion at the Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai. We join in prayer with all Catholics who are in China, that they may announce with humility and joy the Risen Christ, remain faithful to His Church and the Successor of Peter, and live their daily lives in a manner consistent with the faith we profess. May Mary, Virgin most faithful, support the path of Chinese Catholics, render their prayer ever more intense and precious in the eyes of the Lord, and advance the affection and the participation of the universal Church in the journey of the Church in China".
The Pope also had greetings for members of the Italian Movement for Life who are meeting today in the Paul VI Hall. "Your movement", he told them, "has always been committed to defending human life according to the teachings of the Church. In this context you have announced a new initiative entitled "One of us," to uphold the dignity and rights of every human being from conception. I encourage and urge you always to be witnesses and builders of a culture of life".