At midday today, following this morning's celebration in the Sistine Chapel during which he baptised a number of newborn infants, the Pope appeared at the window of his study to pray the Angelus with several thousand pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square below.
The Holy Father explained how today's Feast of the Baptism of the Lord ends the liturgical period of Christmas. "This mystery of Christ's life", he said, "is a visible sign that His assuming the flesh was the sublime act of love of the three divine Persons. We can say that after this solemn event the creative, redemptory and sanctifying action of the Most Holy Trinity became increasingly manifest in the public mission of Jesus, in His teaching and miracles, in His passion, death and resurrection".
"It is truly the Messiah, Son of the Most High God, Who, emerging from the waters of the River Jordan, establishes regeneration in the Spirit and opens, for those who wish, the possibility of becoming children of God. It is, indeed, no coincidence that each baptized person acquires the status of child on the basis of a Christian name, an unmistakable sign that the Holy Spirit causes man to be 'born again' in the bosom of the Church".
Benedict XVI highlighted how "Baptism is the beginning of spiritual life, which reaches fullness through the Church. At the moment of the Sacrament, while the ecclesial community prays and commends a new child to God, the parents and godparents undertake to welcome the neo-baptized and to support it in its formation and Christian education. This is a great responsibility, which derives from a great gift! Therefore, I wish to encourage all the faithful to rediscover the beauty of being baptized and thus of belonging to the great family of God, and to bear joyful witness to their faith that it may generate fruits of goodness and harmony".
Following the Marian prayer, the Pope mentioned "the people of Haiti a year after the great earthquake which was, alas, followed by a serious cholera epidemic. Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council 'Cor Unum' will travel to the Caribbean island today to express my constant proximity, and that of the entire Church".
The Holy Father then turned to address a group of Italian parliamentarians whom he thanked "for their commitment, and that of their colleagues, in support of religious freedom. With them I also greet the Coptic faithful, who are present here today and to whom I renew expressions of my closeness", he concluded.
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