It seemed like business as usual when the Pope led his weekly general audience. There were hugs, blessings and plenty of cheers. But there was also grief, as the Pope deals with the death of three of his relatives, who died in a car crash in Argentina.
"I too have a family. We were five siblings and I have 16 nieces and nephews. One of my nephews was involved in the car crash. His wife died and so did their two children: One was 2 years old, the other just a few months. My nephew is in critical condition. Thank you for your condolences and prayers.”
The Pope also prayed for all religious minorities who are being persecuted in Iraq. Reflecting on his recent trip to South Korea, where he beatified 124 martyrs, the Pope highlighted the role of the laity, which introduced Catholicism in the country.
"So the Church in Korea was founded on faith, on missionary dedication and on the martyrdom of the faithful laity.”
Using that country as an example, he added that Christianity doesn't overshadow a culture or tradition, but rather it strengthens it.
"Christ doesn't eliminate culture. He doesn't suppress the path of a people, who throughout centuries have searched for truth by expressing their love for God and their neighbor. Christ does not abolish what is good, rather He moves it forward, He completes it.”
There was also a very group of guests in the audience. The Pope's favorite soccer team, 'San Lorenzo' which recently won the South American Libertadores Cup, flew to Rome to greet the Pope and to give him a replica of their trophy.