Italian president calls for embracing spirit of Assisi
On eve of pope's visit, calls for embrace of St. Francis03 October, 15:10
Napolitano cited Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, to explain what he meant.
''In all fields we need opening, reciprocal listening and understanding, dialogue, rapprochement and unity in diversity.
We need, that is, the spirit of Assisi,'' Napolitano quoted the cardinal saying in a public forum in which the president also participated.
''I believe it is particularly important for all Italians, believers and nonbelievers, to rediscover the extraordinary message witnessed by St. Francis, which can help even today every person of good will to recognize those values and expend themselves for the good of all, for our country and the whole world,'' Napolitano continued.
''On October 4, Pope Francis will travel to Assisi to stop at the tomb of Saint Francis - a pilgrimage that confirms the deep meaning of the choice of this name for the first time by a pope,'' the Italian president explained.
''At the beginning of his pontificate, John XXIII felt the need to make a pilgrimage to Assisi to entrust St. Francis the extraordinary and historically fruitful event that was about to begin - the Second Vatican Council''.
''Both popes thus felt the particular necessity to bear witness to the world a path of brotherhood and peace - in different moments, but united by a great need for understanding among men, nations, faiths - drawing inspiration from a saint who was a great believer and a great Italian,'' the president wrote.