In support of Pope: Tens of Thousands of Italian Youth Join Pope in Prayer
20 Jan 2008
Vatican City: January 20, 2008. Tens of thousands of people packed traditional noontime blessing by Pope on Sunday in a show support after the Vatican canceled his visit to a university because of some protests by students and faculty.
The vicar for Rome, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, had urged a high turnout for Benedict's weekly blessing.
The Vatican estimated the crowd at 200,000, far larger than on a typical Sunday.
The Vatican canceled the pope's planned speech last Thursday at La Sapienza university after 63 professors and some students said they opposed the religious leader speaking at a secular campus. The Vatican said it did not want to create a pretext for further unpleasantness by going ahead with the visit.
Benedict referred to the issue on Sunday, saying he had put off the visit "against my will" but that the climate surrounding his appearance had made his presence at the school "inopportune."