Speeches 2005-13 403







Atrium of Paul VI Audience Hall Sunday, 26 December 2010

Dear Friends,

I am very glad to be with you today and I address a cordial welcome to the Rev. Mother General of the Missionaries of Charity, to the Priests, to the Sisters, to the Contemplative Brothers and to all of you present here to experience this fraternal moment together.

The light of the Lord’s Birth fills our hearts with the joy and peace announced by the Angels to the shepherds of Bethlehem: “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Lc 2,14). The Child whom we see in the grotto is God himself who became man, to show us how much he cares for us, how much he loves us: God became one of us to make himself close to each one, to overcome evil, to free us from sin, to give us hope, to tell us that we are never alone. We can always turn to him, without fear, calling him Father, certain that at every moment, in every situation of life, even the most difficult, he does not forget us.

We must say to ourselves more often: “Yes, God actually takes care of me, he loves me, Jesus was born for me too; I must always trust in him”.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us permit the light of the Child Jesus, of the Son of God made man to illumine our lives to turn them into light, as we see in a special way in the lives of Saints. I am thinking of the witness of Bl. Teresa of Calcutta, a reflection of the light of God’s love. Celebrating the 100th anniversary of her birth is a cause of gratitude and reflection for a renewed and joyful commitment to the service of the Lord and of our brothers and sisters, especially the neediest. The Lord himself chose to be needy, as we know. Dear Sisters, dear Priests and Brothers, dear friends of the staff, charity is the force that changes the world, because God is love (cf 1Jn 4,7-9).

Bl. Teresa of Calcutta lived charity to all without distinction, but with a preference for the poorest and the most forsaken: a luminous sign of the God’s fatherhood and goodness. She was able to recognize in each one the Face of Christ, whom she loved with her whole being: she continued to meet the Christ she worshipped and received in the Eucharist on the roads and streets of the city, becoming a living “image” of Jesus who pours on man’s wounds the grace of merciful love.

The answer to those who ask why Mother Teresa became so famous is simple: because she lived in a humble and hidden way, for love and in the love of God. She herself said that her greatest reward was to love Jesus and to serve him in the poor. Her slight figure, her hands joined, or while she was caressing a sick person, a leper, someone dying, or a child, is the visible sign of a life transformed by God. In the night of human sorrow she made the light of divine Love shine out and helped so many hearts to rediscover that peace which God alone can give.

Let us thank the Lord, because in Bl. Teresa of Calcutta we have all seen how our life can change when it encounters Jesus; it can become a reflection of God’s light for others. To so many men and women in wretched situations of suffering, she brought consolation and the certainty that God does not ever abandon anyone! Her mission continues here as in other parts of the world through all those, who live her charism as men and women Missionaries of Charity.

Our gratitude is great, dear Sisters, dear Brothers, for your humble and discreet presence, hidden from human eyes but extraordinary and precious to the heart of God. Your witness of life tells human beings, often in search of illusory happiness, where true joy is to be found: in sharing, in giving, in loving with the same freely-given generosity as God, who breaks the logic of human selfishness.

Dear friends! May you know that the Pope loves you, caries you in his heart, gathers you all in a fatherly embrace and prays for you. Very many good wishes! Thank you for having wanted to share the joy of these days of celebration. I invoke the motherly protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth which we are celebrating today — Jesus, Mary and Joseph — and I bless you all and your loved ones.


Dear young members of the Pueri Cantores Federation,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you today as you celebrate your thirty-sixth International Congress here in Rome, and I thank you for your commitment to the apostolate of liturgical singing. In Saint Augustine’s words: “singing is an expression of joy and … love” (Sermo 34:1). As you tell out God’s praises, you give voice to the natural desire of every human being to glorify him with songs of love. It is hard to find words to convey the joy of the soul’s loving encounter with God, yet fine music is able to express something of the mystery of his love for us and ours for him, as we are reminded by the theme chosen for your Congress: Deus Caritas Est.

Always remember that your singing is a service. It is a service to God, offering him the praise that is due. It is a service to other worshippers, helping them raise their hearts and minds in prayer. And it is a service to the whole Church, a foretaste of the heavenly liturgy in which the choirs of angels and saints unite in one unending song of love and praise.

I greet especially the groups present today from the United States, Sweden, Ireland, Latvia and South Korea. I encourage you to persevere in your good work, I assure you of my prayers, and I gladly impart to you and to all the members of the Pueri Cantores Federation my Apostolic Blessing.

Un affettuoso saluto ai Pueri Cantores di lingua italiana! Cari giovani amici, ringrazio voi e coloro che vi istruiscono nel canto sacro, per il prezioso servizio che svolgete nella Liturgia. Vi incoraggio tutti a perseverare e vi invito a sentirvi sempre partecipi della vita delle comunità cristiane a cui appartenete. Custodite la gioia che la venuta di Gesù porta con sé e scoprite sempre più quanto Egli vi voglia bene. Vi benedico tutti!

Je suis heureux de saluer très cordialement les Pueri Cantores de langue française, venant de Belgique, de République démocratique du Congo et de France. Par la beauté de vos chants, vous manifestez à Dieu votre joie et votre amour, et vous aidez le peuple chrétien à entrer plus profondément dans les mystères célébrés au cours de la Liturgie. Je vous en remercie vivement. Que le chant liturgique, par lequel vous exprimez la grandeur et l’amour de Dieu, vous permette de grandir en sainteté! Que Dieu vous bénisse!

Ganz herzlich grüße ich die Pueri Cantores aus den Ländern deutscher Sprache. Das Evangelium der Heiligen Nacht berichtet vom Lobpreis der Engel, den die Hirten auf dem Feld bei Betlehem gehört haben. Immer schon haben Christen diesen Spruch der Engel als ein Lied aufgefaßt und sich dadurch anregen lassen, ihrerseits Gott mit Musik zu ehren. Auch ihr nehmt mit eurem Gesang an diesem schönen Auftrag teil, damit Gott verherrlicht werde und die Menschen Freude finden. Für euren Einsatz danke ich euch, liebe Jugendliche, und wünsche euch den weihnachtlichen Frieden und die Gnade Jesu Christi.

Saludo con afecto a los Pueri Cantores de lengua española. Con vuestro canto contribuís a que el pueblo cristiano contemple con más profundidad el misterio de Cristo, celebrado en la liturgia. Que el amor de Jesús recién nacido llene vuestros corazones de alegría y de paz. Que Dios os bendiga a vosotros y a vuestras familias.

A minha afectuosa saudação também para os «Pequenos Cantores» vindos de Portugal. Agradeço-vos o precioso serviço que realizais, animando com o canto as celebrações litúrgicas.

Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruje do Pueri Cantores z Polski. Dziekuje wam za cenna posluge, jaka pelnicie, ozywiajac spiewem celebracje liturgiczne. W ten sposób pomagacie innym wielbic i chwalic Pana.

[Un affettuoso saluto ai Pueri Cantores venuti dalla Polonia. Grazie per il prezioso servizio che svolgete animando con il canto le celebrazioni liturgiche e aiutando, così, a lodare e ringraziare il Signore!]

??????? ???? ??????? ??????????-????????? «Pueri Cantores» ? ???????. ????? ??? ?? ????? ????????, ??? ?? ?????????, ????????????? ?????? ?????????? ????????.

[Un affettuoso saluto ai Pueri Cantores venuti dall’Ucraina. Vi ringrazio per il prezioso servizio che svolgete animando con il canto le celebrazioni liturgiche!]

January 2011



Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Your Eminence,
Dear Priests,
Academic Authorities,
Medical and Paramedical Personnel,
Dear Children, Parents and Friends,

Why have I come here to be with you today, a day on which we begin to celebrate the Solemnity of the Epiphany? First of all to say “thank you”. Thank you to all of you children who have welcomed me. I would like to tell you that I love you and that I am close to you with my prayers and my affection, and also to give you strength in facing this illness.

I would then like also to thank your parents, your relatives, the executives and all the hospital personnel, who with expertise and charity care for human suffering. I would like to thank in particular the team of the Department of Paediatrics and the Centre for the care of children with spina bifida. I bless the people, the dedication and these areas in which love is shown in practice to the smallest and the neediest.

Dear children and young people, I wanted to come to visit you also to imitate, a little, the Magi, as you have done; the Magi presented Jesus with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh to adore him and show their affection. Today I too have brought you some gifts, so that you may feel, through this small sign, the Pope’s kindness, closeness and affection. But I would like everyone, adults and children, in this Christmas Season to remember the greatest gift that God has given to each one of us.

Let us look inside the grotto of Bethlehem and in the crib, who do we see? Who do we meet? Mary, Joseph and especially an infant, small, in need of attention, care and love. That baby is Jesus, that baby is God himself who wanted to come to the earth to show us how much he loves us, it is God who made himself a child like you, to tell you that he is always near you and to tell each one of us that each child bears his face.

Now, before concluding, I cannot but extend a cordial greeting to all the personnel and patients of this large hospital. I encourage the various initiatives of good and of voluntary work, as well as the institutions which give quality to the commitment to the service of life, I am thinking in particular in this circumstance, of the Paul VI International Scientific Institute, which aims at promoting responsible procreation.

Thanks again to you all! The Pope loves you all!


TO THE MEMBERS OF THE DIPLOMATIC CORPS Regia Hall Monday, 10 January 2011

Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you, the distinguished representatives of so many countries, to this meeting which each year assembles you around the Successor of Peter. It is a deeply significant meeting, since it is a sign and illustration of the place of the Church and of the Holy See in the international community. I offer my greetings and cordial good wishes to each of you, and particularly to those who have come for the first time. I am grateful to you for the commitment and interest with which, in the exercise of your demanding responsibilities, you follow my activities, those of the Roman Curia and thus, in some sense, the life of the Catholic Church throughout the world. Your Dean, Ambassador Alejandro Valladares Lanza, has interpreted your sentiments and I thank him for the good wishes which he has expressed to me in the name of all. Knowing how close-knit your community is, I am certain that today you are also thinking of the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Baroness van Lynden-Leijten, who several weeks ago returned to the house of the Father. I prayerfully share your sentiments.

As a new year begins, our own hearts and the entire world continue to echo the joyful message proclaimed twenty centuries ago in the night of Bethlehem, a night which symbolizes humanity’s deep need for light, love and peace. To the men and women of that time, as to those of our own day, the heavenly hosts brought the good news of the coming of the Saviour: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Is 9,1). The mystery of the Son of God who became the son of man truly surpasses all human expectations. In its absolute gratuitousness this saving event is the authentic and full response to the deep desire of every heart. The truth, goodness, happiness and abundant life which each man and woman consciously or unconsciously seeks are given to us by God. In longing for these gifts, each person is seeking his Creator, for “God alone responds to the yearning present in the heart of every man and woman” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, 23). Humanity throughout history, in its beliefs and rituals, demonstrates a constant search for God and “these forms of religious expression are so universal that one may well call man a religious being” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 28). The religious dimension is an undeniable and irrepressible feature of man’s being and acting, the measure of the fulfilment of his destiny and of the building up of the community to which he belongs. Consequently, when the individual himself or those around him neglect or deny this fundamental dimension, imbalances and conflicts arise at all levels, both personal and interpersonal.

This primary and basic truth is the reason why, in this year’s Message for World Day of Peace, I identified religious freedom as the fundamental path to peace. Peace is built and preserved only when human beings can freely seek and serve God in their hearts, in their lives and in their relationships with others.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your presence on this solemn occasion is an invitation to survey the countries which you represent and the entire world. In this panorama do we not find numerous situations in which, sadly, the right to religious freedom is violated or denied? It is indeed the first of human rights, not only because it was historically the first to be recognized but also because it touches the constitutive dimension of man, his relation with his Creator. Yet is this fundamental human right not all too often called into question or violated? It seems to me that society, its leaders and public opinion are becoming more and more aware, even if not always in a clear way, of this grave attack on the dignity and freedom of homo religiosus, which I have sought on numerous occasions to draw to the attention of all.

I did so during the past year in my Apostolic Journeys to Malta, Portugal, Cyprus, the United Kingdom and Spain. Above and beyond the diversity of those countries, I recall with gratitude their warm welcome. The Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican in October, was a moment of prayer and reflection in which our thoughts turned insistently to the Christian communities in that part of the world which suffer greatly because of their fidelity to Christ and the Church.

Looking to the East, the attacks which brought death, grief and dismay among the Christians of Iraq, even to the point of inducing them to leave the land where their families have lived for centuries, has troubled us deeply. To the authorities of that country and to the Muslim religious leaders I renew my heartfelt appeal that their Christian fellow-citizens be able to live in security, continuing to contribute to the society in which they are fully members. In Egypt too, in Alexandria, terrorism brutally struck Christians as they prayed in church. This succession of attacks is yet another sign of the urgent need for the governments of the region to adopt, in spite of difficulties and dangers, effective measures for the protection of religious minorities. Need we repeat it? In the Middle East, Christians are original and authentic citizens who are loyal to their fatherland and assume their duties toward their country. It is natural that they should enjoy all the rights of citizenship, freedom of conscience, freedom of worship and freedom in education, teaching and the use of the mass media” (Message to the People of God of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, 10). I appreciate the concern for the rights of the most vulnerable and the political farsightedness which some countries in Europe have demonstrated in recent days by their call for a concerted response on the part of the European Union for the defence of Christians in the Middle East. Finally, I would like to state once again that the right to religious freedom is not fully respected when only freedom of worship is guaranteed, and that with restrictions. Furthermore, I encourage the accompaniment of the full safeguarding of religious freedom and other humans rights by programmes which, beginning in primary school and within the context of religious instruction, will educate everyone to respect their brothers and sisters in humanity. Regarding the states of the Arabian Peninsula, where numerous Christian immigrant workers live, I hope that the Catholic Church will be able to establish suitable pastoral structures.

Among the norms prejudicing the right of persons to religious freedom, particular mention must be made of the law against blasphemy in Pakistan: I once more encourage the leaders of that country to take the necessary steps to abrogate that law, all the more so because it is clear that it serves as a pretext for acts of injustice and violence against religious minorities. The tragic murder of the governor of Punjab shows the urgent need to make progress in this direction: the worship of God furthers fraternity and love, not hatred and division. Other troubling situations, at times accompanied by acts of violence, can be mentioned in south and south-east Asia, in countries which for that matter have a tradition of peaceful social relations. The particular influence of a given religion in a nation ought never to mean that citizens of another religion can be subject to discrimination in social life or, even worse, that violence against them can be tolerated. In this regard, it is important for interreligious dialogue to favour a common commitment to recognizing and promoting the religious freedom of each person and community. And, as I remarked earlier, violence against Christians does not spare Africa. Attacks on places of worship in Nigeria during the very celebrations marking the birth of Christ are another sad proof of this.

In a number of countries, on the other hand, a constitutionally recognized right to religious freedom exists, yet the life of religious communities is in fact made difficult and at times even dangerous (cf. Dignitatis Humanae DH 15) because the legal or social order is inspired by philosophical and political systems which call for strict control, if not a monopoly, of the state over society. Such inconsistencies must end, so that believers will not find themselves torn between fidelity to God and loyalty to their country. I ask in particular that Catholic communities be everywhere guaranteed full autonomy of organization and the freedom to carry out their mission, in conformity with international norms and standards in this sphere.

My thoughts turn once again to the Catholic community of mainland China and its pastors, who are experiencing a time of difficulty and trial. I would also like to offer a word of encouragement to the authorities of Cuba, a country which in 2010 celebrated seventy-five years of uninterrupted diplomatic relations with the Holy See, that the dialogue happily begun with the Church may be reinforced and expanded.

Turning our gaze from East to West, we find ourselves faced with other kinds of threats to the full exercise of religious freedom. I think in the first place of countries which accord great importance to pluralism and tolerance, but where religion is increasingly being marginalized. There is a tendency to consider religion, all religion, as something insignificant, alien or even destabilizing to modern society, and to attempt by different means to prevent it from having any influence on the life of society. Christians are even required at times to act in the exercise of their profession with no reference to their religious and moral convictions, and even in opposition to them, as for example where laws are enforced limiting the right to conscientious objection on the part of health care or legal professionals.

In this context, one can only be gratified by the adoption by the Council of Europe last October of a resolution protecting the right to conscientious objection on the part of medical personnel vis-à-vis certain acts which gravely violate the right to life, such as abortion.

Another sign of the marginalization of religion, and of Christianity in particular, is the banning of religious feasts and symbols from civic life under the guise of respect for the members of other religions or those who are not believers. By acting in this way, not only is the right of believers to the public expression of their faith restricted, but an attack is made on the cultural roots which nourish the profound identity and social cohesion of many nations. Last year, a number of European countries supported the appeal lodged by the Italian government in the well-known case involving the display of the crucifix in public places. I am grateful to the authorities of those nations, as well as to all those who became involved in the issue, episcopates, civil and religious organizations and associations, particularly the Patriarchate of Moscow and the other representatives of the Orthodox hierarchy, as well as to all those – believers and non-believers alike – who wished to show their sympathy for this symbol, which bespeaks universal values.

Acknowledging religious freedom also means ensuring that religious communities can operate freely in society through initiatives in the social, charitable or educational sectors. Throughout the world, one can see the fruitful work accomplished by the Catholic Church in these areas. It is troubling that this service which religious communities render to society as a whole, particularly through the education of young people, is compromised or hampered by legislative proposals which risk creating a sort of state monopoly in the schools; this can be seen, for example, in certain countries in Latin America. Now that many of those countries are celebrating the second centenary of their independence – a fitting time for remembering the contribution made by the Catholic Church to the development of their national identity – I exhort all governments to promote educational systems respectful of the primordial right of families to make decisions about the education of their children, systems inspired by the principle of subsidiarity which is basic to the organization of a just society.

Continuing my reflection, I cannot remain silent about another attack on the religious freedom of families in certain European countries which mandate obligatory participation in courses of sexual or civic education which allegedly convey a neutral conception of the person and of life, yet in fact reflect an anthropology opposed to faith and to right reason.

Ladies and Gentlemen, on this solemn occasion, allow me to state clearly several principles which inspire the Holy See, together with the whole Catholic Church, in its activity within the intergovernmental International Organizations for the promotion of full respect for the religious freedom of all. First, the conviction that one cannot create a sort of scale of degrees of religious intolerance. Unfortunately, such an attitude is frequently found, and it is precisely acts of discrimination against Christians which are considered less grave and less worthy of attention on the part of governments and public opinion. At the same time, there is a need to reject the dangerous notion of a conflict between the right to religious freedom and other human rights, thus disregarding or denying the central role of respect for religious freedom in the defence and protection of fundamental human dignity. Even less justifiable are attempts to counter the right of religious freedom with other alleged new rights which, while actively promoted by certain sectors of society and inserted in national legislation or in international directives, are nonetheless merely the expression of selfish desires lacking a foundation in authentic human nature. Finally, it seems unnecessary to point out that an abstract proclamation of religious freedom is insufficient: this fundamental rule of social life must find application and respect at every level and in all areas; otherwise, despite correct affirmations of principle, there is a risk that deep injustice will be done to citizens wishing to profess and freely practise their faith.

Promoting the full religious freedom of Catholic communities is also the aim of the Holy See in signing Concordats and other agreements. I am gratified that states in different parts of the world, and of different religious, cultural and juridical traditions, choose international conventions as a means of organizing relations between the political community and the Catholic Church, thus establishing through dialogue a framework of cooperation and respect for reciprocal areas of competence. Last year witnessed the signing and implementation of an Agreement for the religious assistance of the Catholic faithful in the armed forces in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and negotiations are presently under way with different countries. We trust that they will have a positive outcome, ensuring solutions respectful of the nature and freedom of the Church for the good of society as a whole.

The activity of the Papal Representatives accredited to states and international organizations is likewise at the service of religious freedom. I would like to point out with satisfaction that the Vietnamese authorities have accepted my appointment of a Representative who will express the solicitude of the Successor of Peter by visiting the beloved Catholic community of that country. I would also like to mention that in the past year the diplomatic presence of the Holy See was expanded in Africa, since a stable presence is now assured in three countries without a resident Nuncio. God willing, I will once more travel to that continent, to Benin next November, in order to consign the Apostolic Exhortation which will gather the fruits of the labours of the second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.

Before this distinguished assembly, I would like once more to state forcefully that religion does not represent a problem for society, that it is not a source of discord or conflict. I would repeat that the Church seeks no privileges, nor does she seek to intervene in areas unrelated to her mission, but simply to exercise the latter with freedom. I invite everyone to acknowledge the great lesson of history: “How can anyone deny the contribution of the world’s great religions to the development of civilization? The sincere search for God has led to greater respect for human dignity. Christian communities, with their patrimony of values and principles, have contributed much to making individuals and peoples aware of their identity and their dignity, the establishment of democratic institutions and the recognition of human rights and their corresponding duties. Today too, in an increasingly globalized society, Christians are called, not only through their responsible involvement in civic, economic and political life but also through the witness of their charity and faith, to offer a valuable contribution to the laborious and stimulating pursuit of justice, integral human development and the right ordering of human affairs” (Message for the Celebration of World Peace Day, 1 January 2011, 7).

A clear example of this was Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta: the centenary of her birth was celebrated at Tirana, Skopje and Pristina as well as in India, and a moving homage was paid to her not only by the Church but also by civil authorities and religious leaders, to say nothing of people of all religions. People like her show the world the extent to which the commitment born of faith is beneficial to society as a whole.

May no human society willingly deprive itself of the essential contribution of religious persons and communities! As the Second Vatican Council recalled, by guaranteeing just religious freedom fully and to all, society can “enjoy the benefits of justice and peace which result from faithfulness to God and his holy will” (Declaration Dignitatis Humanae DH 6).

For this reason, as we exchange good wishes for a new year rich in concord and genuine progress, I exhort everyone, political and religious leaders and persons of every walk of life, to set out with determination on the path leading to authentic and lasting peace, a path which passes through respect for the right to religious freedom in all its fullness.

On this commitment, whose accomplishment calls for the involvement of the whole human family, I invoke the blessing of Almighty God, who has reconciled us with himself and with one another through his Son Jesus Christ our peace (Ep 2,14).

A Happy New Year to all!


Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Complying with a joyful tradition, this year too I have the pleasure of meeting the representatives of the Institutions of the Lazio Region and of the Municipality and Province of Rome. I thank Hon. Ms Renata Polverini, President of the Regional Board of Lazio, Hon. Mr Giovanni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome, and Hon. Mr Nicola Zingaretti, President of the Province of Rome, for their kind words on behalf of all. I reciprocate with cordial good wishes for the New Year to all the citizens of Rome and of the Province and to all the inhabitants of Lazio, to which I feel particularly attached as Bishop of this City, Successor of Peter.

The unique vocation of Rome, the centre of Catholicism and the capital of the Italian State, requires our City to be an example of fruitful and profitable collaboration between the public institutions and the ecclesial community. This collaboration with regard to our mutual skills is particularly urgent today because of the new challenges that are looming on the horizon. The Church, especially through the work of the lay faithful and Catholic associations, wishes to make her contribution through the promotion of the common good and through authentic human progress.

The original cell of society is the family, founded on the marriage of a man and a woman. It is in the family that children learn the human and Christian values which enable them to have a constructive and peaceful coexistence. It is in the family that they learn solidarity between the generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and how to welcome others. It is in their own home that young people, experiencing their parents’ affection, discover what love is and learn how to love. Therefore the family must be supported by administrative policies that are not limited to proposing solutions to contingent problems, but aim to consolidate and develop the family and are accompanied by adequate education.

However sometimes violent acts occur and certain aspects of the family crisis, caused by the rapid social and cultural changes, are aggravated. Even the approval of certain forms of union which distort the essence and purpose of the family end by penalizing those who, not without effort, work to live out stable emotional ties, legally guaranteed and publically recognized. In this perspective the Church sees favourably those initiatives which aim at teaching young people to live love in the logic of the gift of self with a high altruistic vision of sexuality. An educational convergence between the various members of society serves this purpose, so that human love is not reduced to a consumer object but may be perceived and lived as a fundamental experience that gives meaning and a purpose to life.

The mutual giving of husband and wife brings openness to procreation: indeed the desire for fatherhood and motherhood is engraved in the human heart. Many couples would like to welcome the gift of new children but are compelled to wait. It is therefore necessary to give motherhood concrete support as well as to guarantee women with a profession the possibility to reconcile family and work.

All too often, in fact, women are faced with the need to choose between the two. The development of appropriate policies for assistance, as well as structures destined for infants, day nurseries and those run by families, can help ensure that a child is not seen as a problem but rather as a gift and a great joy.

Furthermore, since “openness to life is at the centre of true development” (Caritas in Veritate ), the increased number of abortions that occur in our Region should not leave us indifferent. The Christian community, through the many “Case Famiglia” [foster homes] and “Centri di Aiuto alla Vita” [centres that offer support to mothers and families in difficulty because of a new pregnancy], and other such initiatives, is committed to accompanying and supporting women who find it difficult to welcome a new life. May public institutions understand how to offer their support so that family counsellors are in a position to help these women overcome the causes that can induce them to terminate pregnancy. In this regard, I express my appreciation of the law in force in the Lazio Region which provides for the so-called “family quotient” and considers the conceived child as part of the family; and I hope this legislation will be fully implemented. I am pleased that the City of Rome has already committed itself to this.

At the other end of life is the ageing of the population. Elderly people are a great treasure for society. Their knowledge, experience and wisdom are a patrimony for young people, who need teachers of life. While many of the elderly can count on the support and closeness of their own family, the number of those who are alone and in need of medical and health-care assistance is growing.

The Church, in our Region too, has always been close to those who find themselves in fragile conditions because of age or unstable health. While I rejoice in the existing synergy with the large Catholic health centres — such as, for example, in the paediatric sector, with the Bambino Gesù Hospital and the public institutions — I hope that these institutions will continue to collaborate with the local entities to assure their service to those who turn to them. I renew the invitation to promote a culture that respects life until its natural end, in the awareness that “the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer” (Encyclical Spe Salvi ).

In recent times the serenity of our families is threatened by a serious and persistent economic crisis and many families can no longer guarantee their children an adequate standard of living. Our parishes, through Caritas, are doing their utmost to come to the aid of these families as far as possible, alleviating hardship and responding to basic needs. I trust that appropriate measures can be adopted which aim to support low-income families, especially large families which are all too often penalized.

Then there is an additional problem which is every day more dramatic. I am referring to the serious question of work. Young people in particular, who after years of training see few job opportunities and possibilities for social integration or for planning for the future; they often feel disappointed and are tempted to reject society itself. The continuation of such situations causes social tensions that are exploited by organized crime for illegal activities. It is therefore urgent, even in a difficult period, to make every effort to promote employment policies that can guarantee work and a decent livelihood, an indispensable condition for giving life to new families.

Dear Authorities, there are multiple problems which demand solutions. Your duty as administrators who strive to collaborate for the good of the community is always to consider human beings as an end, so that they may live in an authentically human way.

As Bishop of this City I would therefore like to invite you all to find in the word of God the source of inspiration for your political and social action, through “work for the true common good in respecting and promoting the dignity of every person” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, n. 101).

I assure you all that I will remember you in my prayers, especially those who are beginning their service to the common good today; and as I invoke the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, on your work, I cordially impart my Blessing, which I willingly extend to the inhabitants of Rome, of the Province and of all Lazio.
Speeches 2005-13 403