Posted: 22 Apr 2011 07:15 PM PDT
The German-born pontiff, like his Polish predecessor John Paul, has allowed rare televised interviews with journalists but his contact with the public marked a new step for the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics.
The interaction was shown on Italian television in mid afternoon at around the time Christ is believed to have died. Later the pope attended the traditional Via Crucis (Way of the Cross) procession to commemorate Christ's crucifixion and death.
Though heavily controlled by Vatican officials, the television broadcast, called "In His Image," represented an attempt to freshen the image of the Church by the pope, who has lamented the decline of Christian faith in the Western world.
Following roughly the format of an Italian TV chat show, with a moderator and a panel of experts before a studio audience, it included pre-recorded responses from the 84-year old pope speaking via video link.
Sitting at his desk, the pope told the mother of a man who has been in a coma for a long time that her son's soul was still in his body and that he could feel the presence of love.
"The situation, perhaps, is like that of a guitar whose strings have been broken and therefore can no longer play," the pope told the Italian mother, who spoke beside her son.
To a seven year-old girl in Japan asking him to explain the suffering in her country after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami which killed 28,000 people, he pointed to Jesus and said suffering was not in vain.
"We do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do," the pope said.
Responding to a request for advice from a Muslim woman in Ivory Coast, which is emerging from a conflict in which at least 1,500 people died and a million were forced to flee, the pope said people should look to Christ as an example of peace.
"Violence never comes from God, never helps bring anything good, but is a destructive means and not the path to escape difficulties," he said.
He also told youth in Iraq that the Church was encouraging dialogue between religions.
Later yesterday he stood before tens of thousands of people holding candles and watched the solemn procession around the ancient ruins of the Colosseum.
The ceremony at the site associated with early Christian martyrs is one of the main services before Easter, the climax of the Christian year.
Wearing a red cape, the pontiff listened to meditations composed by Mother Maria Rita Piccione, an Augustinian nun who is one of few women to have been given the task for the 14 "stations of the cross."
Today, Benedict will say an Easter Eve mass and on Sunday will deliver an "Urbi et Orbi" (to the city and the world) blessing and message. — ReutersFull Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
Posted: 22 Apr 2011 05:48 PM PDT
LONDON, April 23 — About 5,500 street parties will be held across Britain to toast next Friday's wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, although the royal nuptials appear to have failed to excite locals in east London.
Applications for road closures to hold the traditional celebration of state occasions have flooded into councils across the country, and officials say more affluent southern England appears to be more royalist than the poorer north.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said many councils had been inundated with requests for parties, in which streets are adorned with bunting and flags, while locals erect folding tables in the road to share food and drink.
However, the east London borough of Barking and Dagenham, a diverse, working-class area home to many poorer people of immigrant origin, has not received a single application.
"There are a few things going on like parties in community halls, but we haven't had any applications to close roads," a spokesman for the council said.
"We haven't been offering funding for help with royal wedding street parties. That may be a reason."
Across the capital as a whole, there will be more than 800 such parties while the southeastern counties of Surrey, Hertfordshire and Kent, which surround London, have between them also received several hundred requests.
The figures indicate there was less enthusiasm for the community get-togethers outside major cities in the north.
"I think it would be a fair point to say the south is more royalist, well has had more road closure applications than the north," said a LGA spokesman. "Why that is, we don't know."
While Queen Elizabeth, William's grandmother, remains popular after 59 years on the throne, British royalists have had little to celebrate for two decades, with the royal family more often in the news over divorce, death and scandal.
The LGA said not all parties would require official permission — such as those staged in pubs or parks. It rejected as "ill-founded" government assertions that bureaucracy had deterred some would-be party organisers.
Media reported one woman had been told she would have to take out public liability insurance worth 5 million pounds ($8.23 million) of she wanted to hold a celebration.
Prime Minister David Cameron, who is hosting a street party outside his official Downing Street residence, has urged councils not to get in their way of people having fun.
"To those councils that are asking small groups of neighbours for licenses, insurance and other bureaucracy my message is clear: don't interfere, don't get in the way, and don't make problems where there are none," he said.
"And my message to everyone who wants to have a street party is: I'm having one and I want you to go ahead and have one too." — ReutersFull Feed Generated by Get Full RSS, sponsored by USA Best Price.
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