Speeches 2005-13 18010


Distinguished friends,

With affection I greet all the members of your ecumenical delegation who have come to Rome for the celebration of the feast of Saint Henrik. This occasion marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of your annual visits to Rome. It is therefore with gratitude that I recall how these meetings have contributed significantly to strengthening the relations among the Christians in your country.

The Second Vatican Council committed the Catholic Church “irrevocably to following the path of the ecumenical venture, thus heeding the Spirit of the Lord who teaches us to interpret carefully the ‘signs of the times’” (Ut Unum Sint
UUS 3). This is the path that the Catholic Church has wholeheartedly embraced since that time. The Churches of East and West, both of whose traditions are present in your country, share a real, if still imperfect, communion. This is a motive to regret the troubles of the past, but it is surely also a motive which spurs us to ever greater efforts at understanding and reconciliation, so that our brotherly friendship and dialogue may yet blossom into a perfect, visible unity in Christ Jesus.

You mentioned in your address the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, now ten years old, which is a concrete sign of the brotherhood rediscovered between Lutherans and Catholics. In this context, I am pleased to note the recent work of the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in Finland and Sweden on questions deriving from the Joint Declaration. It is greatly to be hoped that the text resulting from the dialogue will contribute positively to the path which leads to the restoration of our lost unity.

Once again, I am pleased to express my gratitude for your perseverance for these twenty-five years of pilgrimage together. They demonstrate your respect for the Successor of Peter as well as your good faith and desire for unity through fraternal dialogue. It is my fervent prayer that the various Christian Churches and ecclesial communities which you represent may build on this sense of brotherhood as we persevere in our pilgrimage together. Upon you and all those in your pastoral care I am pleased to invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.


Dear Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Presidents and Academicians,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to welcome you and meet with you on the occasion of the Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, the culminating moment of their multiple activities during the year. I greet Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Coordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, and I thank him for the kind words he has addressed to me. I extend my greetings to the Presidents of the Pontifical Academies, to the Academicians and to the Associates present. Today's Public Session, during which the Pontifical Academies' Prize was awarded in my name, touches a theme which, in the context of the Year for Priests, takes on particular significance: The theological formation of the priest.

Today, the memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, great Doctor of the Church, I wish to offer you various reflections on the goal and specific mission of the meritorious cultural institutions of the Holy See that you are part of, and which can claim a varied and rich tradition of research and engagement in different sectors. In fact, the years 2009-2010, for some of them, are marked by specific anniversaries which constitute yet another reason to give thanks to the Lord. In particular, the Pontifical Roman Academy of Archeology marks its foundation two centuries ago, in 1810, and its promotion to a Pontifical Academy in 1829. The Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas and the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum have celebrated their 130th anniversary, both having been established in 1879. The International Pontifical Marian Academy has celebrated its 50th year since it was made into a Pontifical Academy. Finally, the Pontifical Academies of St Thomas Aquinas and of theology marked the 10th anniversary of their institutional renewal which took place in 1999 with the Motu Proprio Inter munera Academiarum, which bears the date of 28 January.

So many occasions, then, to revisit the past, through the attentive reading of the thought and action of the Founders and all those who gave of their best for the progress of these institutions. But a retrospective look at the memory of a glorious past cannot be the only approach to these events, which recall above all the task and the responsibility of the Pontifical Academies to serve the Church and the Holy See faithfully, updating their rich and diverse commitment which has already produced so many precious results, even in the recent past. In fact, contemporary culture and believers even more continually requires the reflection and action of the Church in the various fields where new problems are emerging, and which also constitute the very sectors in which you work, such as philosophical and theological research; reflection on the figure of the Virgin Mary; the study of history, monuments, of the testimony received as a legacy from the faithful of the first Christian generations, beginning with the Martyrs; the delicate and important dialogue between the Christian faith and artistic creativity, to which I dedicated the meeting with representatives of the world of art and culture in the Sistine Chapel last 21 November. In these delicate areas of research and commitment, you are called to offer a qualified contribution that is competent and impassioned, so that the whole Church, and particularly the Holy See, can avail themselves of the opportunities, different languages and appropriate means to dialogue with contemporary culture, and respond effectively to the questions and challenges that arise in the various fields of knowledge and human experience.

As I have stated several times, today's culture is strongly influenced both by a vision dominated by relativism and subjectivism, as well as by methods and attitudes that are often superficial and even banal, to the detriment of serious research and reflection, and consequently, of dialogue, confrontation and interpersonal communications. Therefore, it seems urgent and necessary to recreate the essential conditions for a real capacity for in depth study and research, in order that we can dialogue reasonably and effectively confront each other on various problems, in the perspective of common growth and a formation that promotes the human being in his wholeness and completeness. The lack of ideal and moral reference points, which particularly penalizes civil coexistence, and above all, the formation of the younger generations, should be met with an ideal and practical proposal of values and truth, of strong reasons for life and hope, which can and should interest everyone, especially the young. Such a commitment should be especially cogent in the area of forming candidates for the ordained ministry, as the Year for Priests calls for, and as confirmed by your happy decision to dedicate your Annual Public Session to this theme.

One of the Pontifical Academies is named after St Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor Angelicus et Communis, an always relevant model to inspire the activity and dialogue of the Pontifical Academies with the different cultures. In fact, he succeeded in establishing a fruitful confrontation both with the Arab and the Jewish thinking in his time, and while setting store by the Greek philosophical tradition, he produced an extraordinary theological synthesis, fully harmonizing reason and faith. He already left his contemporaries a profound and indelible memory, precisely on account of the extraordinary refinement and acuteness of his intelligence and the greatness and originality of his genius, quite apart from the luminous sanctity of his life. His first biographer, William of Tocco, emphasized the extraordinary and pervasive pedagogical originality of St Thomas, with expressions that could also inspire your activities. He wrote: "Fra Tommaso introduced new articles into his lectures, resolved questions in a new and clearer way with new arguments. Consequently, those who heard him teach new theses, treating them with new methods, could not doubt that God had enlightened him with a new light: indeed, could one ever teach or write new opinions if one had not received new inspiration from God?" (Vita Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, in Fontes Vitae S. Thomae Aquinatis notis historicis et criticis illustrati, ed. D. Prümmer M.-H. Laurent, Tolosa, s.d., fasc.
2P 81).

St Thomas Aquinas' thought and witness suggest that we should study emerging problems with great attention in order to offer appropriate and creative responses. Confident in the possibilities of "human reason", in full fidelity to the immutable depositum fidei, we must as the "Doctor Communis" did always draw from the riches of Tradition, in the constant search for "the truth of things". For this, it is necessary that the Pontifical Academies, today more than ever, be vital and lively institutions, able to grasp the questions of society and of cultures, as well as the needs and expectations of the Church, to offer an adequate and valid contribution, and thus promote, with all the energy and means at their disposal, an authentic Christian humanism.

Therefore, as I thank the Pontifical Academies for their generous dedication and profound commitment, I wish that each one may enrich their individual histories and traditions with new significant projects to carry out their respective missions with new impetus. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer, and in invoking upon you and your Institutions the intercession of the Mother of God, Seat of Wisdom, and of St Thomas Aquinas, I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing.


Clementine Hall Thursday, 29 January 2010
Dear Members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota,

I am pleased to meet you once again for the inauguration of the Judicial Year. I cordially greet the College of Prelate Auditors, beginning with the Dean, Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, whom I thank for the words he has addressed to me on behalf of all present. I extend my greeting to the Promoters of Justice, the Defenders of the Bond, the other Officials, the Advocates, and all of this Apostolic Tribunal's Collaborators, as well as the Members of the Studium Rotale. I gladly take this opportunity to renew the expression of my profound esteem and sincere gratitude for your ecclesial ministry, and at the same time I underline the necessity of your judicial activity. The valuable work that the Prelate Auditors are called to carry out diligently, in the name and under the mandate of the Apostolic See, is supported by the authoritative and well-established traditions of this Tribunal, which each one of you is bound to respect.

Today I wish to reflect on the essential nucleus of your ministry, seeking to analyze its relationship with justice, charity and truth. I will refer especially to some of the observations made in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, which, although considered within the context of the social doctrine of the Church, can also illuminate other ecclesial areas. It is necessary to take note of the widespread and deeply-rooted, though not always evident, tendency to place justice and charity in opposition to one another, as if the two were mutually exclusive. In this regard, with reference more specifically to the life of the Church, some maintain that pastoral charity could justify every step towards declaring the nullity of the marriage bond in order to assist people who find themselves in irregular matrimonial situations. Truth itself, even if lip service be paid to it, tends thus to be viewed through a manipulative lens that would seek to adapt it, case by case, to the different requirements that emerge.

Setting out from the expression “administration of justice”, I wish to point out first of all that your ministry is essentially a work of justice: a virtue “that consists in the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbour” (CEC 1807) – the human and Christian value of which it is more important than ever to rediscover, even within the Church. Canon Law is at times undervalued, as if it were a mere technical instrument at the service of any given subjective interest, even one that is not founded on truth. Instead, Canon Law must always be considered in its essential relationship with justice, in the recognition that, in the Church, the goal of juridical activity is the salvation of souls and that it “constitutes a special participation in the mission of Christ the Shepherd.... in realizing the order that Christ himself desired” (John Paul II, cf. Address to the Rota Romana, 18 Jan 1990, AAS 82 [1990], p. 874, n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition (ORE): 29 Jan. 1990, p. 6, n. 5). In this perspective, one must also bear in mind, in any situation, that the process and the sentence are linked fundamentally to justice and must be placed at its service. The process and the sentence have a great relevance both for the parties to a dispute, and for the entire ecclesial body, and this acquires a most singular value when it entails a pronouncement on the nullity of a marriage which directly concerns the human and supernatural good of the spouses, as well as the public good of the Church. Over and above this dimension of justice that may be termed “objective”, there is another inseparable dimension which concerns those who “implement the law”, namely, those who make justice possible. I wish to underscore that they must be characterized by the high practice of human and Christian virtues, particularly prudence and justice, but also fortitude. This last virtue becomes more relevant the more injustice appears to be the easiest approach to take, insofar as it implies accommodating the desires and expectations of the parties or even the conditioning of the social context. Against this background, the Judge who seeks to be just and wishes to live up to the classic paradigm of “animate justice” (cf. Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, V, 1132a), has the grave responsibility before God and men of his function, which includes due timeliness in every phase of the process: “quam primum, salva iustitia [as soon as possible, while safeguarding justice](Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, Instruction Dignitas Connubii, art. 72). All those who work in the field of law, each according to his proper function, must be guided by justice. I am thinking particularly of the advocates, who must not only pay full attention to respecting the truth of the evidence, but also carefully avoid assuming, as lawyers di fiducia, patronage of causes which, according to their conscience, cannot be objectively supported.

The action, therefore, of those who administer justice cannot prescind from charity. Love for God and for neighbour should inform every activity, even if it appears to be the most technical and bureaucratic. The perspective and the measure of charity will help focus attention on the fact that the judge is always dealing with people, beset by problems and difficulties. The principle that “charity goes beyond justice” (Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, ) applies equally to the specific sphere of those engaged in the administration of justice. Consequently, the approach towards people, while admittedly observing a specific modality linked to the process, must seek, with sensitivity and concern for the individuals involved, to facilitate contact with the competent tribunal by the parties to the case. At the same time, it is important to take definite steps, every time one glimpses hope for a favourable outcome, to induce the spouses if possible to convalidate their marriage and restore conjugal living (cf. CIC 1676). Moreover, one should try to establish between the parties a climate of human and Christian openness that is based on the search for the truth (cf. Dignitas Connubii, art. 65 §§ 2-3).

It must be reiterated that every work of authentic charity includes an indispensable reference to justice, all the more so in our case. “Love – caritas – is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace” (Caritas in Veritate, ). ”If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is ‘inseparable from charity’, and intrinsic to it” (ibid., n. 6). Charity without justice is not charity, but a counterfeit, because charity itself requires that objectivity which is typical of justice and which must not be confused with inhuman coldness. In this regard, as my Predecessor, Venerable Pope John Paul II, said in his Address on the relationship between pastoral care and the law: “The judge... must always guard against the risk of misplaced compassion, which could degenerate into sentimentality, itself pastoral only in appearance” (18 Jan 1990, in AAS, 82 [1990], p. 875, n. 5; ORE, 29 Jan. 1990, p. 5,6. n. 5).

One must avoid pseudo-pastoral claims that would situate questions on a purely horizontal plane, in which what matters is to satisfy subjective requests to arrive at a declaration of nullity at any cost, so that the parties may be able to overcome, among other things, obstacles to receiving the Sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist. The supreme good of readmission to Eucharistic Communion after sacramental Reconciliation demands, instead, that due consideration be given to the authentic good of the individuals, inseparable from the truth of their canonical situation. It would be a false “good” and a grave lack of justice and love to pave the way for them to receive the sacraments nevertheless, and would risk causing them to live in objective contradiction to the truth of their own personal condition.

Regarding truth, in my Addresses to this Apostolic Tribunal in 2006 and 2007, I stressed that it is possible to arrive at the truth on the essence of marriage and the reality of every personal situation that is submitted to the judgement of the tribunal (28 Jan. 2006, in AAS 98 [2006], PP 135-138 ORE, 8 Feb., p. 3, n. 6; and 27 Jan. 2007, in AAS 99 [2007], PP 86-91 ORE, 31 Jan., p. 3, n. 5), and also the truth of matrimonial processes (cf. Dignitas Connubii, artt. 65 §§ 1-2, 95 § 1, 167, 177, 178). Today I wish to emphasize that both justice and charity postulate love for truth and essentially entail searching for truth. In particular, charity makes the reference to truth even more exacting. “To defend the truth, to articulate it with humility and conviction, and to bear witness to it in life are therefore exacting and indispensable forms of charity. Charity, in fact, ‘rejoices in the truth' (1Co 13,6)” (Caritas in Veritate, ). “Only in truth does charity shine forth, only in truth can charity be authentically lived... Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love. It falls prey to contingent subjective emotions and opinions, the word ‘love' is abused and distorted, to the point where it comes to mean the opposite” (ibid., n. 3).

One must keep in mind that an emptying of this kind can take place not only in the act of judging but also in the theoretical concepts that greatly influence concrete judgments. The problem arises when the very essence of marriage, rooted in the nature of man and woman, is more or less obscured, as it is the essence of marriage that makes it possible to express objective judgments on a specific marriage. In this sense, existential, person-centred and relational consideration of the conjugal union can never be at the expense of indissolubility, an essential property which, in Christian marriage, obtains, with unity, a special firmness by reason of the sacrament (cf. CIC 1056). Moreover, it must not be forgotten that matrimony is favoured by the law. Consequently, in case of doubt, it must be considered valid until the contrary has been proven (cf. CIC 1060). Otherwise, there is a grave risk of losing any objective reference point for pronouncements on nullity, by transforming every conjugal difficulty into a symptom of failure to establish a union whose essential nucleus of justice – the indissoluble bond – is effectively denied.

Distinguished Prelate Auditors, Officials and Advocates, I entrust these reflections to you, knowing well the spirit of faithfulness that inspires you and the commitment that you strengthen as you implement fully the Church’s norms, in the search for the true good of the People of God. As comfort for your valuable work, upon each of you and upon your daily work I invoke the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, Speculum Iustitiae (Mirror of Justice), and I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Dear Brother Bishops,

I welcome all of you on your ad Limina visit to Rome, where you have come to venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Vincent Nichols has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you my warmest good wishes and prayers for yourselves and all the faithful of England and Wales entrusted to your pastoral care. Your visit to Rome strengthens the bonds of communion between the Catholic community in your country and the Apostolic See, a communion that sustained your people’s faith for centuries, and today provides fresh energies for renewal and evangelization. Even amid the pressures of a secular age, there are many signs of living faith and devotion among the Catholics of England and Wales. I am thinking, for example, of the enthusiasm generated by the visit of the relics of Saint Thérèse, the interest aroused by the prospect of Cardinal Newman’s beatification, and the eagerness of young people to take part in pilgrimages and World Youth Days. On the occasion of my forthcoming Apostolic Visit to Great Britain, I shall be able to witness that faith for myself and, as Successor of Peter, to strengthen and confirm it. During the months of preparation that lie ahead, be sure to encourage the Catholics of England and Wales in their devotion, and assure them that the Pope constantly remembers them in his prayers and holds them in his heart.

Your country is well known for its firm commitment to equality of opportunity for all members of society. Yet as you have rightly pointed out, the effect of some of the legislation designed to achieve this goal has been to impose unjust limitations on the freedom of religious communities to act in accordance with their beliefs. In some respects it actually violates the natural law upon which the equality of all human beings is grounded and by which it is guaranteed. I urge you as Pastors to ensure that the Church’s moral teaching be always presented in its entirety and convincingly defended. Fidelity to the Gospel in no way restricts the freedom of others – on the contrary, it serves their freedom by offering them the truth. Continue to insist upon your right to participate in national debate through respectful dialogue with other elements in society. In doing so, you are not only maintaining long-standing British traditions of freedom of expression and honest exchange of opinion, but you are actually giving voice to the convictions of many people who lack the means to express them: when so many of the population claim to be Christian, how could anyone dispute the Gospel’s right to be heard?

If the full saving message of Christ is to be presented effectively and convincingly to the world, the Catholic community in your country needs to speak with a united voice. This requires not only you, the Bishops, but also priests, teachers, catechists, writers – in short all who are engaged in the task of communicating the Gospel – to be attentive to the promptings of the Spirit, who guides the whole Church into the truth, gathers her into unity and inspires her with missionary zeal.

Make it your concern, then, to draw on the considerable gifts of the lay faithful in England and Wales and see that they are equipped to hand on the faith to new generations comprehensively, accurately, and with a keen awareness that in so doing they are playing their part in the Church’s mission. In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that “kindly light” wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.

Much attention has rightly been given to Newman’s scholarship and to his extensive writings, but it is important to remember that he saw himself first and foremost as a priest. In this Annus Sacerdotalis, I urge you to hold up to your priests his example of dedication to prayer, pastoral sensitivity towards the needs of his flock, and passion for preaching the Gospel. You yourselves should set a similar example. Be close to your priests, and rekindle their sense of the enormous privilege and joy of standing among the people of God as alter Christus. In Newman’s words, “Christ’s priests have no priesthood but His … what they do, He does; when they baptize, He is baptizing; when they bless, He is blessing” (Parochial and Plain Sermons, VI 242). Indeed, since the priest plays an irreplaceable role in the life of the Church, spare no effort in encouraging priestly vocations and emphasizing to the faithful the true meaning and necessity of the priesthood. Encourage the lay faithful to express their appreciation of the priests who serve them, and to recognize the difficulties they sometimes face on account of their declining numbers and increasing pressures. The support and understanding of the faithful is particularly necessary when parishes have to be merged or Mass times adjusted. Help them to avoid any temptation to view the clergy as mere functionaries but rather to rejoice in the gift of priestly ministry, a gift that can never be taken for granted.

Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue assume great importance in England and Wales, given the varied demographic profile of the population. As well as encouraging you in your important work in these areas, I would ask you to be generous in implementing the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, so as to assist those groups of Anglicans who wish to enter into full communion with the Catholic Church. I am convinced that, if given a warm and open-hearted welcome, such groups will be a blessing for the entire Church.

With these thoughts, I commend your apostolic ministry to the intercession of Saint David, Saint George and all the saints and martyrs of England and Wales. May Our Lady of Walsingham guide and protect you always. To all of you, and to the priests, religious and lay faithful of your country, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.



Dear Brother Bishops,

I extend a warm welcome to all of you on your ad Limina visit to Rome. I thank you for the kind words that Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien has addressed to me on your behalf, and I assure you of my constant prayers for you and for the faithful entrusted to your care.Your presence here expresses a reality that lies at the heart of every Catholic diocese – its relationship of communio with the See of Peter, and hence with the universal Church. Pastoral initiatives that take due account of this essential dimension bring authentic renewal: when the bonds of communion with the universal Church, and in particular with Rome, are accepted joyfully and lived fully, the people’s faith can grow freely and yield a harvest of good works.

It is a happy coincidence that the Year for Priests, which the whole Church is currently celebrating, marks the four hundredth anniversary of the priestly ordination of the great Scottish martyr Saint John Ogilvie. Rightly venerated as a faithful servant of the Gospel, he was truly outstanding in his dedication to a difficult and dangerous pastoral ministry, to the point of laying down his life. Hold him up as an example for your priests today. I am glad to know of the emphasis you place on continuing formation for your clergy, especially through the initiative “Priests for Scotland”. The witness of priests who are genuinely committed to prayer and joyful in their ministry bears fruit not only in the spiritual lives of the faithful, but also in new vocations. Remember, though, that your commendable initiatives to promote vocations must be accompanied by sustained catechesis among the faithful about the true meaning of priesthood. Emphasize the indispensable role of the priest in the Church’s life, above all in providing the Eucharist by which the Church herself receives life. And encourage those entrusted with the formation of seminarians to do all they can to prepare a new generation of committed and zealous priests, well equipped humanly, academically and spiritually for the task of ministry in the twenty-first century.

Hand in hand with a proper appreciation of the priest’s role is a correct understanding of the specific vocation of the laity. Sometimes a tendency to confuse lay apostolate with lay ministry has led to an inward-looking concept of their ecclesial role. Yet the Second Vatican Council’s vision is that wherever the lay faithful live out their baptismal vocation – in the family, at home, at work – they are actively participating in the Church’s mission to sanctify the world. A renewed focus on lay apostolate will help to clarify the roles of clergy and laity and so give a strong impetus to the task of evangelizing society.

That task requires a readiness to grapple firmly with the challenges presented by the increasing tide of secularism in your country. Support for euthanasia strikes at the very heart of the Christian understanding of the dignity of human life. Recent developments in medical ethics and some of the practices advocated in the field of embryology give cause for great concern. If the Church’s teaching is compromised, even slightly, in one such area, then it becomes hard to defend the fullness of Catholic doctrine in an integral manner. Pastors of the Church, therefore, must continually call the faithful to complete fidelity to the Church’s Magisterium, while at the same time upholding and defending the Church’s right to live freely in society according to her beliefs.

The Church offers the world a positive and inspiring vision of human life, the beauty of marriage and the joy of parenthood. It is rooted in God’s infinite, transforming and ennobling love for all of us, which opens our eyes to recognize and love his image in our neighbour (cf. Deus Caritas Est et passim). Be sure to present this teaching in such a way that it is recognized for the message of hope that it is. All too often the Church’s doctrine is perceived as a series of prohibitions and retrograde positions, whereas the reality, as we know, is that it is creative and life-giving, and it is directed towards the fullest possible realization of the great potential for good and for happiness that God has implanted within every one of us.

The Church in your country, like many in Northern Europe, has suffered the tragedy of division. It is sobering to recall the great rupture with Scotland’s Catholic past that occurred four hundred and fifty years ago. I give thanks to God for the progress that has been made in healing the wounds that were the legacy of that period, especially the sectarianism that has continued to rear its head even in recent times. Through your participation in Action of Churches Together in Scotland, see that the work of rebuilding unity among the followers of Christ is carried forward with constancy and commitment. While resisting any pressure to dilute the Christian message, set your sights on the goal of full, visible unity, for nothing less can respond to the will of Christ.

You can be proud of the contribution made by Scotland’s Catholic schools in overcoming sectarianism and building good relations between communities. Faith schools are a powerful force for social cohesion, and when the occasion arises, you do well to underline this point. As you encourage Catholic teachers in their work, place special emphasis on the quality and depth of religious education, so as to prepare an articulate and well-informed Catholic laity, able and willing to carry out its mission “by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Christifideles Laici CL 15). A strong Catholic presence in the media, local and national politics, the judiciary, the professions and the universities can only serve to enrich Scotland’s national life, as people of faith bear witness to the truth, especially when that truth is called into question.

Later this year, I shall have the joy of being present with you and the Catholics of Scotland on your native soil. As you prepare for the Apostolic Visit, encourage your people to pray that it will be a time of grace for the whole Catholic community. Take the opportunity to deepen their faith and to rekindle their commitment to bear witness to the Gospel. Like the monks from Iona who spread the Christian message throughout the length and breadth of Scotland, let them be beacons of faith and holiness for the Scottish people today.

With these thoughts, I commend your apostolic labours to the intercession of Our Lady, Saint Andrew, Saint Margaret and all the saints of Scotland. To all of you, and to your clergy, religious and lay faithful I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Speeches 2005-13 18010