Speeches 2005-13 13252

PROJECTION OF THE FILM "MARY OF NAZARETH" Clementine Hall Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Dear Friends,

Thank you for this moment which through the images and dialogue of the film “Maria di Nazareth” invites us to reflect. I thank in particular the RAI with its Director General, Ms. Lorenza Lei, and the other representatives, as well as Lux Vide, the Bernabei family and the production staff.

I cordially thank the Director of Bayerischen Rundfunks, Prof. Gerhard Fuchs, Producer Martin Choroba of the Tellux-Film-Gesellschaft of Munich, as well as all the collaborators, the actors present and the cameramen for this screening in the Apostolic Palace.

I also thank the representatives of Telecinco of Spain.

It is not easy to outline the figure of a mother because it contains richness of life difficult to describe; thus this task is more challenging when the figure is Mary of Nazareth, a woman who is the Mother of Jesus, the Son of God made man.

You have based the film on three female figures whose lives intersect but who make profoundly different decisions. Herodias stays closed in herself, in her own world. She does not succeed in lifting her gaze in order to read God’s signs and does not escape evil. Mary Magdalen has a more complicated story: she succumbs to the appeal of an easy life, based on material things, and uses various means to achieve her goals, until the dramatic moment when she is judged and confronted with her life; here the encounter with Jesus opens her heart and changes her existence. However, at the centre is Mary of Nazareth, in her there is the wealth of a life which was a “here I am” to God: she was a mother who had the desire to keep her Son always at her side, but knows that he belongs to God; her faith and love are so great that she accepts his departure and fulfills his mission, it is a repetition of her “here I am” to God, from the Annunciation to the Cross.

Three experiences, a paradigm of how one can arrange one’s life: based on selfishness, on closing oneself in; on material things, allowing oneself to be guided by evil; or on the meaning of the presence of God who came and remains among us and who waits kindly if we fail and he asks us to follow him and to trust him.

Mary of Nazareth is the woman of the full and complete “here I am” to the divine will and in this “Yes”, also repeated in the face of the pain of the loss of her Son, finds full and deep beatitude. Thank you all for the lovely evening!


Dear Brother Bishops,

I greet all of you with fraternal affection in the Lord. Our meeting today concludes the series of quinquennial visits of the Bishops of the United States of America ad limina Apostolorum. As you know, over these past six months I have wished to reflect with you and your Brother Bishops on a number of pressing spiritual and cultural challenges facing the Church in your country as it takes up the task of the new evangelization.

I am particularly pleased that this, our final meeting, takes place in the presence of the Bishops of the various Eastern Churches present in the United States, since you and your faithful embody in a unique way the ethnic, cultural and spiritual richness of the American Catholic community, past and present. Historically, the Church in America has struggled to recognize and incorporate this diversity, and has succeeded, not without difficulty, in forging a communion in Christ and in the apostolic faith which mirrors the catholicity which is an indefectible mark of the Church. In this communion, which finds its source and model in the mystery of the Triune God (cf. Lumen Gentium
LG 4), unity and diversity are constantly reconciled and enhanced, as a sign and sacrament of the ultimate vocation and destiny of the entire human family.

Throughout our meetings, you and your Brother Bishops have spoken insistently of the importance of preserving, fostering and advancing this gift of Catholic unity as an essential condition for the fulfillment of the Church’s mission in your country. In this concluding talk, I would like simply to touch on two specific points which have recurred in our discussions and which, with you, I consider crucial for the exercise of your ministry of guiding Christ’s flock forward amid the difficulties and opportunities of the present moment.

I would begin by praising your unremitting efforts, in the best traditions of the Church in America, to respond to the ongoing phenomenon of immigration in your country. The Catholic community in the United States continues, with great generosity, to welcome waves of new immigrants, to provide them with pastoral care and charitable assistance, and to support ways of regularizing their situation, especially with regard to the unification of families. A particular sign of this is the long-standing commitment of the American Bishops to immigration reform. This is clearly a difficult and complex issue from the civil and political, as well as the social and economic, but above all from the human point of view. It is thus of profound concern to the Church, since it involves ensuring the just treatment and the defense of the human dignity of immigrants.

In our day too, the Church in America is called to embrace, incorporate and cultivate the rich patrimony of faith and culture present in America's many immigrant groups, including not only those of your own rites, but also the swelling numbers of Hispanic, Asian and African Catholics. The demanding pastoral task of fostering a communion of cultures within your local Churches must be considered of particular importance in the exercise of your ministry at the service of unity (cf. Directory for the Pastoral Ministry of Bishops ). This diaconia of communion entails more than simply respecting linguistic diversity, promoting sound traditions, and providing much-needed social programs and services. It also calls for a commitment to ongoing preaching, catechesis and pastoral activity aimed at inspiring in all the faithful a deeper sense of their communion in the apostolic faith and their responsibility for the Church's mission in the United States. Nor can the significance of this challenge be underestimated: the immense promise and the vibrant energies of a new generation of Catholics are waiting to be tapped for the renewal of the Church’s life and the rebuilding of the fabric of American society.

This commitment to fostering Catholic unity is necessary not only for meeting the positive challenges of the new evangelization but also countering the forces of disgregation within the Church which increasingly represent a grave obstacle to her mission in the United States. I appreciate the efforts being made to encourage the faithful, individually and in the variety of ecclesial associations, to move forward together, speaking with one voice in addressing the urgent problems of the present moment. Here I would repeat the heartfelt plea that I made to America’s Catholics during my Pastoral Visit: “We can only move forward if we turn our gaze together to Christ” and thus embrace “that true spiritual renewal desired by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world” (Homily in Saint Patrick's Cathedral, New York, 19 April 2008).

In our conversations, many of you have spoken of your concern to build ever stronger relationships of friendship, cooperation and trust with your priests. At the present time, too, I urge you to remain particularly close to the men and women in your local Churches who are committed to following Christ ever more perfectly by generously embracing the evangelical counsels. I wish to reaffirm my deep gratitude for the example of fidelity and self-sacrifice given by many consecrated women in your country, and to join them in praying that this moment of discernment will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of their communities in fidelity to Christ and the Church, as well as to their founding charisms. The urgent need in our own time for credible and attractive witnesses to the redemptive and transformative power of the Gospel makes it essential to recapture a sense of the sublime dignity and beauty of the consecrated life, to pray for religious vocations and to promote them actively, while strengthening existing channels for communication and cooperation, especially through the work of the Vicar or Delegate for Religious in each Diocese.

Dear Brother Bishops, it is my hope that the Year of Faith which will open on 12 October this year, the fiftieth anniversary of the convening of the Second Vatican Council, will awaken a desire on the part of the entire Catholic community in America to reappropriate with joy and gratitude the priceless treasure of our faith. With the progressive weakening of traditional Christian values, and the threat of a season in which our fidelity to the Gospel may cost us dearly, the truth of Christ needs not only to be understood, articulated and defended, but to be proposed joyfully and confidently as the key to authentic human fulfillment and to the welfare of society as a whole.

Now, at the conclusion of these meetings, I willingly join all of you in thanking Almighty God for the signs of new vitality and hope with which he has blessed the Church in the United States of America. At the same time I ask him to confirm you and your Brother Bishops in your delicate mission of guiding the Catholic community in your country in the ways of unity, truth and charity as it faces the challenges of the future. In the words of the ancient prayer, let us ask the Lord to direct our hearts and those of our people, that the flock may never fail in obedience to its shepherds, nor the shepherds in the care of the flock (cf. Sacramentarium Veronense, Missa de natale Episcoporum). With great affection I commend you, and the clergy, religious and lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, to the loving intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.


Paul VI Hall Saturday, 19 May 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am glad to welcome you this morning in this meeting that brings together the Ecclesial Movement for Cultural Commitment, the Federation of Christian Organizations for International Volunteer Service and the Christian Workers Movement. I greet with affection my Brothers in the Episcopate who support you and guide you, the Directors and Leaders, the Chaplains and all of the members and supporters. This year your associations are celebrating the respective anniversaries of their foundation. The Ecclesial Movement for Cultural Commitment is celebrating 80 years; the Federation of Christian International Volunteer Service Organizations and the Christian Workers Movement are celebrating 40 years. And all three of these entities are indebted to the wise work of the Servant of God Paul VI, who, as National Chaplain in 1932 supported the first steps of the Graduate Movement of Catholic Action, and, as Pontiff, gave recognition to the Federation of Christian Volunteer Organizations and to the Christian Workers Movement in 1972. To my Venerable Predecessor goes our grateful remembrance for having given impetus to such important ecclesial associations.

These anniversaries are favourable occasions for reconsidering your charisms with gratitude and with critical scrutiny too, attentive to the historical origins and to the new signs of the times. Culture, volunteer service and work constitute an indissoluble trinomial of the daily commitment of the Catholic laity, which intends to give incisive witness to Christ and the Church both in the private sphere and in the public sphere of society. The faithful layman takes up a challenge when he becomes involved in one or more of these areas and — in cultural service, in acts of solidarity with those in need, or in work — seeks to promote human dignity. These three spheres are linked by a common denominator: the gift of self. Cultural engagement, above all in schools and universities, aimed at the formation of future generations, is not limited to the transmission of technical and theoretical concepts, but requires the gift of self by word and example. Volunteering, an irreplaceable resource for society, does not so much involve giving things but in giving oneself in concrete assistance to the neediest. Finally, work is not only an instrument for individual profit but a moment in which we express our abilities by spending ourselves, in a spirit of service, in professional activity, whether this be in manual labour, farming, science or some other area.

But this has a Christian connotation for all of you. Your activity must be animated by charity; this means learning to see with the eyes of Christ and giving to the other more than external necessities; it means looking and acting with love in your relationships with those in need. This is born from the love that comes from God, who loved us first, it is born from the intimate encounter with him (cf. Deus Caritas Est ). St Paul, in his farewell discourse to the elders at Ephesus, recalls a truth expressed by Jesus: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (
Ac 20,35). Dear friends, it is the logic of the gift — a logic that is often threatened — that you value and to which you bear witness: giving your time, your skills and expertise, your teaching, your professionalism; in a word, giving attention to others without expecting any reward in this world; and I thank you for this great testimony. Acting in this way, not only do we do good for others, but we discover profound happiness, according to the logic of Christ, who gave all of himself.

The family is the first place in which we experience gratuitous love; and when that does not happen, the family becomes unnatural, it enters into crisis. What happens in the family, giving oneself without reserve for the good of the other is a fundamental educational moment for learning how to live as a Christian even in relation to culture, volunteer work and work. In the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate I wished to extend the family model of the logic of gratuitousness and the gift to a universal dimension. Justice alone, in fact, is insufficient. To ensure true justice that “more”, that only gratuitousness and solidarity can give, is necessary: “Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone, with regard to everyone, and it cannot therefore be merely delegated to the State. While in the past it was possible to argue that justice had to come first and gratuitousness could follow afterwards, as a complement, today it is clear that without gratuitousness, there can be no justice in the first place” (n. 38). Gratuitousness cannot be bought on the market, nor can it be prescribed by law. And, yet, both the economy and politics need gratuitousness and people capable of mutual self-giving (cf. ibid., n. 39).

Today’s meeting highlights two elements: your affirmation of the necessity of continuing to follow the way of the Gospel in fidelity to the social doctrine of the Church and to her Pastors; and my encouragement, the Pope’s encouragement, that invites you to continue with constancy your commitment to our brethren. Revealing injustices and bearing witness to the values on which the dignity of the person is based, promoting forms of solidarity that favour the common good — these are also part of your commitment. The Ecclesial Movement for Cultural Commitment, in light of its history, is called to a renewed service in the world of culture, which is marked by urgent and complex challenges, for the spread of Christian humanism: reason and faith are allied in the path to the Truth. May the Federation of Christian Organizations of International Volunteer Service continue to have confidence above all in the power of the charity that comes from God, continuing in its commitment to eliminate every form of poverty and exclusion on behalf of the most disadvantaged populations. May the Christian Workers Movement endeavour to bring the light of Christian hope into the world of work in order to achieve ever greater social justice. Moreover, always look to the world of young people, who today more than ever seek forms of engagement that combine idealism and the concrete aspect.

Dear friends, I hope that each of you will carry out your personal and group commitments with joy, witnessing to the Gospel of the gift and gratuitousness. I invoke on you the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary upon you and I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to all the members and their families. Thank you for your work, for your presence.

AT THE LUNCHEON WITH THE CARDINALS Hall of Dukes, Apostolic Palace Monday, 21 May 2012

Your Eminence,
Dear Brothers,

At this moment my words can only be of gratitude. A “thank you” first of all to the Lord for the many years he has given me; years filled with many days of joy, marvelous times but also with dark nights. Yet, in retrospect, one understands that those nights were necessary and good, a cause for thanksgiving.

Today the phrase ecclesia militans is somewhat out of fashion but in fact we can understand ever more so that it is true, that it contains within it the truth. We see how evil wishes to dominate in the world and that it is necessary to fight against evil. We see that it does so in so many ways: cruelty, through the different forms of violence, but even disguised as good and thereby undermining the moral foundations of society.

St Augustine said that all history is a struggle between two loves: love of self to the point of despising God; and love of God to the point of despising oneself, in martyrdom. We are caught up in this struggle and in this struggle it is very important to have friends. And as for myself, I am surrounded by my friends in the College of Cardinals; you are my friends and I feel at home with you, I feel safe in this company of great friends, who are here with me and all together with the Lord.

Thank you for this friendship. Thank you, Your Eminence, for all you have done for this event today and for all that you always do. Thank you for the communion in joys and in troubles. Let us move ahead, the Lord said: courage, I have conquered the world. We are on the Lord’s team, hence on the winning team. I thank you all. May the Lord bless all of you. And let us raise our glasses.


Venerable and Dear Brothers,

Your annual General Assembly is an event of grace in which you exchange your deep experience of discernment and sharing for your common progress, enlivened by the Spirit of the Risen Lord. It is a moment of grace that expresses the Church’s nature. I thank Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco for his cordial words of welcome interpreting your sentiments and I address to you, Your Eminence, my congratulations and good wishes on the renewal of your appointment as head of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

May the collegial affection that inspires you increasingly nourish your collaboration at the service of the ecclesial communion and of the common good of the Italian nation, in fruitful dialogue with its civil institutions. In this new quinquennium may you pursue together the ecclesial renewal entrusted to us by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council; and may the 50th anniversary of its opening that we shall be celebrating this autumn be a reason for deepening our knowledge of its texts, a condition for their dynamic and faithful reception. “The greatest concern of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred deposit of Christian doctrine should be guarded and taught more efficaciously”, Bl. Pope John XXIII said in his opening Discourse. And it is worth reading and meditating on these words.

The Pope asked the Fathers to examine in depth and to present this perennial doctrine in continuity with the 1,000-year-old Tradition of the Church: “to transmit the doctrine, pure and integral, without any attenuation or distortion”, but in a new way, according “to that work which our era demands of us” (Pope John XXIII’s Opening Speech to the Second Vatican Council, 11 October 1962). With this key to interpreting and applying it — not of course in the perspective of an unacceptable hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture but rather of a hermeneutic of continuity and reform — listening to the Council and making its authoritative instructions our own is the way to identify the modalities by which the Church can offer a meaningful response to the great social and cultural changes of our time which also have visible consequences on the religious dimension.

In fact not only do scientific rationality and the technological culture tend to homogenize the world but they also often exceed their respective specific spheres, claiming to outline the perimeter of the certainties of reason with the sole empirical criterion of their own breakthroughs. Thus the power of human skills ends by considering itself the yardstick for action, free from every moral norm.

In this very context, often in a confused way, a unique and growing demand for spirituality and for the supernatural does not fail to re-emerge. This is a sign of anxiety which dwells in the hearts of people who are not open to the transcendent horizon of God. This situation of secularism is particularly characteristic of societies with an ancient Christian tradition and has a wearing effect on the cultural fabric which, until a recent past, was a unifying reference that could embrace the whole of human existence and mark its most significant events, from birth to the transition to eternal life.

The profound value of the spiritual and moral patrimony in which the West has put down roots and which is its lifeblood, is no longer understood, to the point that people no longer grasp its authoritative truth. Even a fertile land thus risks becoming an inhospitable desert and the promising good seed is in danger of being crushed, trodden on and lost.

A sign of this is the dwindling of religious practice, visible in the participation in the Eucharistic liturgy and, especially, in the sacrament of Penance. So many of the baptized have lost their identity and belonging: the do not know the essential content of the faith or think they can cultivate it without the mediation of the Church. And while many look doubtfully at the truths taught by the Church others reduce the Kingdom of God to several great values which certainly have to do with the Gospel but do not yet concern the central nucleus of the Christian faith.

The Kingdom of God is a gift that transcends us. As Bl. John Paul II said, “The kingdom of God is not a concept, a doctrine, or a programme subject to free interpretation, but it is before all else a person with the face and name of Jesus of Nazareth, the image of the invisible God” (Encyclical Letter, Redemptoris Missio, 7 December 1990, n. 18).

Unfortunately it is God himself who is excluded from the horizon of so many people; and when the topic of God does not meet with indifference, closure or rejection, people wish in any case to relegate it to the subjective context, reducing it to an intimate and private factor, marginalized from public awareness. The heart of the crisis that is damaging Europe — a spiritual and moral crisis — can be identified in this neglect; this lack of openness to the Transcendent, since man claims to have a complete identity simply in himself.

In this context, how can we measure up to the responsibility that has been entrusted to us by the Lord? How can we sow the Word of God with trust so that everyone may find the truth about himself, his own authenticity and hope?

We know that new methods of Gospel proclamation or pastoral action do not suffice to ensure that the Christian proposal meet with wider acceptance and sharing. In the preparation for the Second Vatican Council the main question to which the Council meeting intended to answer was: “Church, what have you to say for yourself?”. Going deeply into this question the Council Fathers were so to speak led back to the heart of the answer: it was a matter of starting afresh from God, celebrated, professed and witnessed to. In fact, apparently by chance, but basically not by chance, the first Constitution to be approved was on the Sacred Liturgy: divine worship orients human beings towards the future City and restores to God his primacy, fashions the Church, ceaselessly convoked by the Word, and shows the world the fruitfulness of the encounter with God.

In our turn while we must cultivate a grateful look for the growth of good quality wheat even in a soil that is often dry, we realize that our situation demands a fresh outreach, that aims at what is essential in faith and in Christian life.

In a period in which for many God has become the great Unknown and Jesus merely an important figure of the past, missionary action will not be relaunched without the renewal of the quality of our faith and our prayer: we will not be able to offer appropriate answers without a new reception of the gift of Grace; we will not know how to win people over to the Gospel except by being the first to return to a profound experience of God.

Dear Brothers, our first true and unique task remains that of dedicating life to what is worthwhile and endures, to what is really reliable, necessary and final. Men and women live from God, from the One whom they are often seeking unconsciously or groping for to give full meaning to their life: it is our task to proclaim him, show him and guide them to the encounter with him.

However it is always important to remember that the first condition for speaking of God is speaking to God, becoming increasingly people of God, nourished by an intense life of prayer and shaped by his Grace.

St Augustine, after a journey of anxious but sincere seeking for the Truth at last succeeded in finding it in God. He then realized an unusual aspect which filled his heart with joy and amazement: he understood that throughout his journey it had been the Truth which was seeking him and had found him.

I would like to say to each one of you: let us allow ourselves to be found and grasped by God, to help every person we meet to be reached by the Truth. It is in the relationship with him that our communion is born and that the ecclesial community — which spans all epochs times and all places — is brought into being to constitute the one People of God.

For this reason I wished to proclaim a Year of Faith which will begin next 11 October, in order to rediscover and to receive once again this precious gift which is faith, in order to have a deeper knowledge of the truths that are our lifeblood, to lead the people of today, who are often distracted, to a renewed encounter with Jesus Christ, “the way, the life and the truth” .

In the midst of transformations that were affecting large categories of humanity, the Servant of God Paul VI clearly pointed out the task of the Church as that of affecting and as it were upsetting, “through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 8 December 1975, n. 19).

Here I would like to mention that on the occasion of his first journey as Pope to the land of his birth, Bl. John Paul II visited an industrial district of Krakow known as a sort of “Godless city”. The stubbornness of the workers alone led to the erection first of a cross and then a church. It was in these symbols that the Pope recognized the beginning of what, for the first time, he described as the “new evangelization”. He explained that “The evangelization of the new millennium must refer to the Teaching of the Second Vatican Council. It must be, as that Council taught, a work shared by bishops, priests, religious and laity, by parents and young people”. and he concluded: “You have built the church; build your lives with the Gospel” (Homily, Mass at the Shrine of Holy Cross, Mogila, Poland, 9 June 1979).

Dear Brothers, the ancient and new mission which lies before us is that of introducing the men and women of our time to the relationship with God, helping them to open their minds and hearts to God who is seeking them and wants to become close to them, to lead them to the realization that doing his will does not curtail freedom but is being truly free, attaining the true good of life. God is the guarantor and not rival of our happiness and wherever the Gospel enters — hence Christ’s friendship — human beings experience that they are the subject of a love that purifies, warms and renews, it enables people to love and serve man with divine love.

As the main theme of your Assembly appropriately highlights, the new evangelization stands in need of adults who are “mature in faith and witnesses of humanity”. Attention to the adult world expresses your awareness of the crucial role of those who are called in the various milieus of life to take on educational responsibility for the new generations.

Be alert and strive to ensure that the Christian community can train adults in the faith because they have encountered Jesus Christ who has become the fundamental reference of their life; people who know him because they love him and love him because they have become acquainted with him; people who can give sound and credible reasons for life. In this formative process the Catechism of the Catholic Church — 20 years after its publication, is an especially important tool for a thorough and complete knowledge of the content of faith, that offers guidance to the encounter with Christ. Thanks too to this instrument may the assent to faith become a criterion of knowledge and action that involves the whole of life.

Since we are in the Novena of Pentecost, I would like to conclude these thoughts with a prayer to the Holy Spirit:

Spirit of Life, who was moving over the abyss, help human beings in our time to understand that the exclusion of God leads them to lose their way in the desert of the world, and that it is only where faith enters that dignity and freedom flourish and the whole of society is built in justice.

Spirit of Pentecost, who made the Church one Body, restore to us, the baptized, an authentic experience of communion; make us living signs of the Risen One’s presence in the world, a community of saints that lives in service to charity.

Holy Spirit, who equips us for the mission, grant that we may recognize that so many people in our time too are in quest of the truth about their life and about the world.

Make us work for their joy by proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ,

God’s grain of wheat that enriches the soil of life and ensures an abundant harvest.




Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome you with great joy on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the foundation of Renewal in the Holy Spirit in Italy, an expression of the broader movement of charismatic renewal which swept through the Catholic Church following the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. I greet you all with affection, starting with your National President whom I thank for his kind words to me, full of Spirit, on behalf of you all. I greet the Spiritual Counsellor, the Committee and Council members and the leaders and animators of all the Groups and Communities in Italy. On your pilgrimage, which gives you the opportunity to pause in prayer at the tomb of St Peter, may you invigorate your faith anew to grow in Christian witness, and guided by the Holy Spirit, fearlessly face the demanding tasks of the new evangelization.

I am pleased to meet you on the eve of Pentecost — a fundamental celebration for the Church and consequently important for your Movement — and I urge you to accept God’s love which is communicated to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit, the principal unifier of the Church. In the recent decades — 40 years — you have striven to make your specific contribution to spreading the Kingdom of God and to building up the Christian community, fostering communion with the Successor of Peter, with the Pastors and with the entire Church.

You have affirmed in various ways the primacy of God to whom our worship is always and supremely addressed. Further, you have sought to suggest this experience to the new generations, demonstrating the joy of new life in the Spirit through a far-reaching labour of formation and many activities linked to the new evangelization and to the missio ad gentes. Your apostolic work has thus contributed to the growth of spiritual life in Italy’s ecclesial and social fabric, through processes of conversion which have led many people to be deeply healed by God’s love and many families to overcome moments of crisis. In your groups there has been no shortage of young people who have generously responded to the vocation of special consecration to God in the priesthood or in the consecrated life. I thank you and the Lord for all these things!

Dear friends, continue to witness to the joy of faith in Christ, to the beauty of being disciples of Christ, to the power of love that his Gospel infuses into history, as well as to the incomparable grace that every believer can experience in the Church with the sanctifying practice of the sacraments and the humble and disinterested exercise of the gifts, which, as St Paul says, should always be used for the common good. Do not succumb to the temptation of mediocrity and habit! Cultivate in your mind lofty and generous aspirations! Make Jesus’ thoughts, sentiments and actions your own! Yes, the Lord calls each one of you to be a tireless collaborator of his plan of salvation which changes hearts. He also needs you to make your families, communities and cities places of love and hope.

In today’s society we are living in a situation that in some ways is precarious, marked by insecurity and the fragmentary nature of decisions. Valid reference points in which to find inspiration for one’s own life are frequently lacking. Thus it is becoming ever more important to build life and the complex of social relations on the firm rock of the Word of God, letting oneself be guided by the Magisterium of the Church. We understand ever better the crucial value of Jesus’ affirmation who says: “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock” (
Mt 7,24-25).

The Lord is with us, he acts with the power of his Spirit. He invites us to grow in trust and in abandonment to his will, in faithfulness to our vocation and in the commitment to become adults in faith, hope and charity. According to the Gospel an adult is not someone who is not subordinate to another and has no need of anyone. An adult, that is, a mature and responsible person, can only be someone who makes himself lowly, humble and a servant before God and does not merely follow the current trends. It is therefore necessary to form consciences in the light of the Word of God and thus give firmness and true maturity; the Word of God from which every ecclesial and human project draws meaning and an impetus, also for building the earthly city (cf. Ps 127[126]:1). The soul of institutions must be renewed and history must be made fertile with the seeds of new life.

Believers today are called to bear a convinced, sincere and credible witness of faith, adhering strictly to the commitment to charity. Indeed through charity, even people distant from or indifferent to the Gospel Message succeed in drawing closer to the truth and being converted to the merciful love of the heavenly Father. In this regard, I express my pleasure at all you are doing to spread a “culture of Pentecost” in social milieus, offering spiritual animation with initiatives for those who are suffering situations of hardship and marginalization.

I am thinking in particular of your work for the spiritual and material rebirth of prisoners and of former prisoners. I am thinking of the “Polo di Eccellenza della promozione umana e della solidarietà Mario and Luigi Sturzo” in Caltagirone; as well as of the “Centro Internazionale per la Famiglia” of Nazareth, whose foundation stone I had the joy of blessing. Pursue your commitment to the family, an indispensable place for an education in love and self-sacrifice.

Dear friends of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, do not grow weary of turning to Heaven: the world stands in need of prayer. It needs men and women who feel the attraction of Heaven in their life, who make praise to the Lord a new way of life. And may you be joyful Christians! I entrust you all to Mary Most Holy, present in the Upper Room at the event of Pentecost. Persevere with her in prayer, walk, guided by the light of the living Holy Spirit, proclaiming the Good News of Christ. May you be accompanied by the Apostolic Blessing which I impart to you with affection, extending it to all your members and your relatives. Many thanks!

Speeches 2005-13 13252