Benedict XVI Homilies 13057
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, we are celebrating the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. After the Easter Season, after reliving the event of Pentecost which renews the Baptism of the Church in the Holy Spirit, we turn our gaze, so to speak, towards "the open Heavens", to enter with the eyes of faith into the depths of the mystery of God, one in substance and three in Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
While we allow this supreme mystery to envelop us, let us admire God's glory which is reflected in the lives of the saints. Let us contemplate it above all in those whom I have just presented for the veneration of the universal Church: George Preca, Simon of Lipnica, Charles of St Andrew Houben and Marie Eugenie of Jesus Milleret.
I address my cordial greeting to all the pilgrims gathered here to pay homage to these exemplary Gospel witnesses.
In particular, I greet the Cardinals, the Presidents of the Philippines, of Ireland, of Malta and of Poland, my venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, the Government Delegations and other Civil Authorities who are taking part in this celebration.
In the First Reading from the Book of Proverbs, Wisdom comes on the scene and stands beside God as his assistant, his "architect" (cf. Pr 8,30). The "panoramic view" of the cosmos, seen through the eyes of Wisdom, is stupendous.
Wisdom herself admits: "[I was] playing on the surface of his earth; and I found delight in the sons of men" (Pr 8,31).
Wisdom likes to dwell in the midst of human beings, because in them she recognizes the image and likeness of the Creator. This preferential relationship of Wisdom with human beings calls to mind a famous passage from another of the wisdom books, the Book of Wisdom: We read: Wisdom "is a breath of the power of God.... Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets" (Sg 7,25-27).
The last evocative expression is an invitation to consider the multiform and inexhaustible manifestation of holiness in the People of God down the centuries. God's Wisdom is manifest in the cosmos in the variety and beauty of its elements, but his masterpieces, where his beauty and his greatness truly appear much more, are the saints.
In the passage of the Apostle Paul's Letter to the Romans we find a similar image: that of God's love "poured out into [the] hearts" of saints, that is, of the baptized, "through the Holy Spirit" who has been given to them (cf. Rm 5,5).
The gift of the Spirit, "Person-Love" and "Person-Gift", as the Servant of God John Paul II described him, passes through Christ (cf. Encyclical Dominum et Vivificantem DEV 10). The Spirit of God reaches us through Christ as the beginning of new and "holy" life. The Spirit instils God's love in believers' hearts in the concrete form it had in the man Jesus of Nazareth.
Thus, what St Paul said in his Letter to the Colossians came to pass: "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1,27). "Affliction" is not in contrast to this hope; rather, it helps bring it about through "endurance" and "proven character" (cf. Rm 5,3-4): it is the way of Jesus, the way of the Cross.
In the same perspective, from the Wisdom of God incarnate in Christ and communicated by the Holy Spirit, the Gospel has suggested to us that God the Father continues to manifest his plan of love through the saints.
What we have already observed about Wisdom occurs here too: the Spirit of truth reveals God's design in the multiplicity of cosmic elements - we are grateful for this visibility of God's beauty and goodness in the elements of the cosmos -, and he does so above all through human people and especially through the saints where his light, his truth, his love appear with great power.
Indeed, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1,15) is, properly speaking, Jesus Christ alone, "the Holy and Righteous One" (Ac 3,14).
He is Wisdom incarnate, the Creator Logos, who finds his joy in dwelling among the sons of man and pitches his tent in their midst (cf. Jn 1,14).
God was pleased to place in him "all fullness" (cf. Col 1,19); that is, as he himself says in today's Gospel passage, "all that the Father has is mine" (Jn 16,15). Every individual saint shares in the riches of Christ taken by the Father and communicated in due time.
Jesus' holiness is always the same; it is always he, the "Holy One", whom the Spirit models in "holy souls", thereby forming friends of Jesus and witnesses of his holiness. And Jesus also wants to make us his friends.
Let us open our hearts precisely on this day so that friendship with Jesus also grows in our lives, thus enabling us to witness to his holiness, goodness and truth.
George Preca, born in La Valletta on the Island of Malta, was a friend of Jesus and a witness to the holiness that derives from him. He was a priest totally dedicated to evangelization: by his preaching, his writings, his spiritual direction and the administration of the sacraments and, first and foremost, by the example of his life.
The Johannine expression, "Verbum caro factum est" always directed his soul and his work and thus the Lord could make use of him to give life to a praiseworthy institution, the "Society of Christian Doctrine", whose purpose is to guarantee parishes the qualified service of properly trained and generous catechists.
As a profoundly priestly and mystical soul, he poured himself out in effusions of love for God, Jesus, the Virgin Mary and the saints. He liked to repeat: "Lord God, how obliged to you I am! Thank you, Lord God, and forgive me, Lord God!". This is a prayer that we can also repeat and make our own.
May St George Preca help the Church, in Malta and throughout the world, to be always a faithful echo of the voice of Christ, the Incarnate Word.
The new Saint, Simon of Lipnica, a great son of Poland, a witness of Christ and a follower of the spirituality of St Francis of Assisi, lived in a distant age but precisely today is held up to the Church as a timely model of a Christian who - enlivened by the spirit of the Gospel - was ready to dedicate his life to his brethren.
Thus, filled with the mercy he drew from the Eucharist, he did not hesitate to help the sick who were struck by the plague, and he himself contracted this disease which led to his death.
Today in particular, let us entrust to his protection those who are suffering from poverty, illness, loneliness and social injustice. Let us ask through his intercession for the grace of persevering and active love, for Christ and for our brothers and sisters.
"The love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given us". Truly, in the case of the Passionist priest, Charles of Saint Andrew Houben, we see how that love overflowed in a life totally dedicated to the care of souls.
During his many years of priestly ministry in England and Ireland, the people flocked to him to seek out his wise counsel, his compassionate care and his healing touch.
In the sick and the suffering he recognized the face of the Crucified Christ, to whom he had a lifelong devotion. He drank deeply from the rivers of living water that poured forth from the side of the Pierced One, and in the power of the Spirit he bore witness before the world to the Father's love.
At the funeral of this much-loved priest, affectionately known as Fr Charles of Mount Argus, his superior was moved to observe: "The people have already declared him a saint".
Marie Eugenie Milleret reminds us first of all of the importance of the Eucharist in the Christian life and in spiritual growth. In fact, as she herself emphasizes, her First Holy Communion was an important moment, even if she was unaware of it at the time.
Christ, present in the depths of her heart, was working within her, giving her time to follow her own pace and to pursue her inner quest, which was to lead her to the point of giving herself totally to the Lord in the Religious life in response to the needs of her time.
In particular, she realized how important it was to pass on to the young generations, especially young girls, an intellectual, moral and spiritual training that would make them adults capable of taking charge of their family life and of making their contribution to the Church and society. Throughout her life she drew the strength for her mission from her life of prayer, ceaselessly combining contemplation and action.
May the example of St Marie Eugenie invite men and women today to pass on to young people values that will help them to become strong adults and joyful witnesses of the Risen One. May young people never be afraid to welcome these moral and spiritual values, living them patiently and faithfully. In this way, they will build their personality and prepare for their future.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God for the wonders he has worked in the saints, in whom his glory shines. Let us be attracted by their example and allow ourselves to be guided by their teaching, so that the whole of our life may become, like theirs, a hymn of praise to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
May Mary, Queen of the Saints, and the intercession of these four new "older Brothers and Sister" whom we joyfully venerate today, obtain this for us. Amen.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have just sung the Sequence: "Dogma datur christianis, / quod in carnem transit panis, / et vinum in sanguinem - this [is] the truth each Christian learns, / bread into his flesh he turns, to his precious blood the wine".
Today we reaffirm with great joy our faith in the Eucharist, the Mystery that constitutes the heart of the Church. In the recent Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis I recalled that the Eucharistic Mystery "is the gift that Jesus Christ makes of himself, thus revealing to us God's infinite love for every man and woman" (n. 1).
Corpus Christi, therefore, is a unique feast and constitutes an important encounter of faith and praise for every Christian community. This feast originated in a specific historical and cultural context: it was born for the very precise purpose of openly reaffirming the faith of the People of God in Jesus Christ, alive and truly present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist. It is a feast that was established in order to publicly adore, praise and thank the Lord, who continues "to love us "to the end', even to offering us his body and his blood" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 1).
The Eucharistic celebration this evening takes us back to the spiritual atmosphere of Holy Thursday, the day on which in the Upper Room, on the eve of his Passion, Christ instituted the Most Holy Eucharist.
Corpus Christi is thus a renewal of the mystery of Holy Thursday, as it were, in obedience to Jesus' invitation to proclaim from "the housetops" what he told us in secret (cf. Mt 10,27). It was the Apostles who received the gift of the Eucharist from the Lord in the intimacy of the Last Supper, but it was destined for all, for the whole world. This is why it should be proclaimed and exposed to view: so that each one may encounter "Jesus who passes" as happened on the roads of Galilee, Samaria and Judea; in order that each one, in receiving it, may be healed and renewed by the power of his love. Dear friends, this is the perpetual and living heritage that Jesus has bequeathed to us in the Sacrament of his Body and his Blood. It is an inheritance that demands to be constantly rethought and relived so that, as venerable Pope Paul VI said, its "inexhaustible effectiveness may be impressed upon all the days of our mortal life" (cf. Insegnamenti, 25 May 1967, p. 779).
Also in the Post-Synodal Exhortation, commenting on the exclamation of the priest after the consecration: "Let us proclaim the mystery of faith!", I observed: with these words he "proclaims the mystery being celebrated and expresses his wonder before the substantial change of bread and wine into the body and blood of the Lord Jesus, a reality which surpasses all human understanding" (n. 6).
Precisely because this is a mysterious reality that surpasses our understanding, we must not be surprised if today too many find it hard to accept the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist. It cannot be otherwise. This is how it has been since the day when, in the synagogue at Capernaum, Jesus openly declared that he had come to give us his flesh and his blood as food (cf. Jn 6,26-58).
This seemed "a hard saying" and many of his disciples withdrew when they heard it. Then, as now, the Eucharist remains a "sign of contradiction" and can only be so because a God who makes himself flesh and sacrifices himself for the life of the world throws human wisdom into crisis.
However, with humble trust, the Church makes the faith of Peter and the other Apostles her own and proclaims with them, and we proclaim: "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life" (Jn 6,68). Let us too renew this evening our profession of faith in Christ, alive and present in the Eucharist. Yes, "this [is] the truth each Christian learns, / bread into his flesh he turns, / to his precious blood the wine".
At its culminating point, in the Sequence we sing: "Ecce panis angelorum, / factus cibus viatorum: / vere panis filiorum" - "Lo! The angel's food is given / to the pilgrim who has striven; / see the children's bread from heaven". And by God's grace we are the children.
The Eucharist is the food reserved for those who in Baptism were delivered from slavery and have become sons; it is the food that sustained them on the long journey of the exodus through the desert of human existence.
Like the manna for the people of Israel, for every Christian generation the Eucharist is the indispensable nourishment that sustains them as they cross the desert of this world, parched by the ideological and economic systems that do not promote life but rather humiliate it. It is a world where the logic of power and possessions prevails rather than that of service and love; a world where the culture of violence and death is frequently triumphant.
Yet Jesus comes to meet us and imbues us with certainty: he himself is "the Bread of life" (Jn 6,35). He repeated this to us in the words of the Gospel Acclamation: "I am the living bread from Heaven, if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever" (cf. Jn 6,51).
In the Gospel passage just proclaimed, St Luke, narrating the miracle of the multiplication of the five loaves and two fish with which Jesus fed the multitude "in a lonely place", concludes with the words: "And all ate and were satisfied" (cf. Lc 9,11-17).
I would like in the first place to emphasize this "all". Indeed, the Lord desired every human being to be nourished by the Eucharist, because the Eucharist is for everyone.
If the close relationship between the Last Supper and the mystery of Jesus' death on the Cross is emphasized on Holy Thursday, today, the Feast of Corpus Christi, with the procession and unanimous adoration of the Eucharist, attention is called to the fact that Christ sacrificed himself for all humanity. His passing among the houses and along the streets of our city will be for those who live there an offering of joy, eternal life, peace and love.
In the Gospel passage, a second element catches one's eye: the miracle worked by the Lord contains an explicit invitation to each person to make his own contribution. The two fish and five loaves signify our contribution, poor but necessary, which he transforms into a gift of love for all.
"Christ continues today" I wrote in the above-mentioned Post Synodal Exhortation, "to exhort his disciples to become personally engaged" (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 88).
Thus, the Eucharist is a call to holiness and to the gift of oneself to one's brethren: "Each of us is truly called, together with Jesus, to be bread broken for the life of the world" (ibid.).
Our Redeemer addressed this invitation in particular to us, dear brothers and sisters of Rome, gathered round the Eucharist in this historical square.
I greet you all with affection. My greeting is addressed first of all to the Cardinal Vicar and to the Auxiliary Bishops, to my other venerable Brother Cardinals and Bishops, as well as to the numerous priests and deacons, men and women religious and the many lay faithful.
At the end of the Eucharistic celebration we will join in the procession as if to carry the Lord Jesus in spirit through all the streets and neighbourhoods of Rome. We will immerse him, so to speak, in the daily routine of our lives, so that he may walk where we walk and live where we live.
Indeed we know, as the Apostle Paul reminded us in his Letter to the Corinthians, that in every Eucharist, also in the Eucharist this evening, we "proclaim the Lord's death until he comes" (cf. 1Co 11,26). We travel on the highways of the world knowing that he is beside us, supported by the hope of being able to see him one day face to face, in the definitive encounter.
In the meantime, let us listen to his voice repeat, as we read in the Book of Revelation, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me" (Ap 3,20).
The Feast of Corpus Christi wants to make the Lord's knocking audible, despite the hardness of our interior hearing. Jesus knocks at the door of our heart and asks to enter not only for the space of a day but for ever. Let us welcome him joyfully, raising to him with one voice the invocation of the Liturgy:
"Very bread, Good Shepherd, tend us, / Jesu, of your love befriend us.... /You who all things can and know, /who on earth such food bestow, / grant us with your saints, though lowest, / where the heav'nly feast you show, / fellow heirs and guests to be".
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
What is the Lord saying to us today while we celebrate the Eucharist in the evocative setting of this square, in which eight centuries of holiness, devotion, art and culture linked to the name of Francis of Assisi are gathered?
Today, everything here speaks of conversion, as Archbishop Domenico Sorrentino recalled and whom I warmly thank for his kind words. With him, I greet the entire Church of Assisi-Nocera Umbra-Gualdo Tadino, as well as the Pastors of the Churches of Umbria.
I extend a grateful thought to Cardinal Attilio Nicora, my Legate for the two Papal Basilicas of this Town.
I address an affectionate greeting to the sons of Francis of the various Orders present here with their Ministers General. I express my cordial respects to the President of the Council of Ministers and to all the Civil Authorities who have wished to honour us with their presence.
Speaking of conversion means going to the heart of the Christian message, and at the same time to the roots of human existence. The Word of God just proclaimed enlightens us by holding up to our gaze three converted figures.
The first is David. The passage concerning him, taken from the Second Book of Samuel, presents to us one of the most dramatic conversations in the Old Testament. A burning verdict lies at the heart of this dialogue, with which the Word of God, uttered by the Prophet Nathan, exposes a king who had reached the summit of his political fortune but had also fallen to the lowest level of his moral life.
To grasp the dramatic tension of this dialogue, it is necessary to bear in mind its historical and theological horizon. This horizon is outlined by the event of love with which God chooses Israel as his People, establishing a Covenant with them and taking care to assure them a land and freedom.
David is a link in this history of God's continuing concern for his People. He was chosen in a difficult period and placed beside King Saul, then to become his successor. God's design also concerns his descendants connected with the messianic project, which was to find its complete fulfilment in Christ, "Son of David".
The figure of David is thus an image of both historical and religious importance. In even starker contrast with this is the abjection into which he falls. Blinded by his passion for Bathsheba, he wrenches her from her husband, one of his most faithful warriors, and then orders his assassination in cold blood. This is something that makes one shudder: how could a man chosen by God fall so low?
The human being is truly greatness and wretchedness: he is great because he bears in himself God's image and is the object of his love; he is wretched because he can make evil use of the freedom which is his great privilege, ending by setting himself against his Creator.
God's verdict on David, pronounced by Nathan, sheds light on the intimate fibres of the conscience where armies, power and public opinion count for nothing but where one is alone with God himself.
"You are that man" are the words that nailed David to his responsibilities. Deeply struck by them, the king developed sincere repentance and opened himself to the offer of mercy. This is the path of conversion.
Today, it is Francis who invites us to make this journey beside David. From what the Saint's biographers have said of his youthful years, nothing would lead us to imagine actions as serious as those imputed to the ancient King of Israel. Yet, in the Testament he compiled during the last months of his life, Francis himself regarded the first 25 years of his existence as a time when he "was in sin" (cf. Testament 1).
Over and above its individual manifestations, he conceived of sin as organizing one's whole life around oneself, pursuing vain dreams of earthly glory.
While he was the "king of feasts" among the young men of Assisi (cf. 2 Cel I, 3, 7), he was not without spontaneous generosity. But this was still far from the Christian love that is given to the other without reserve.
As he himself recalled, the sight of lepers seemed bitter to him. Sin prevented him from overcoming his physical repugnance to recognize them as so many brothers to love. Conversion led him to show them mercy and at the same time obtained mercy for him.
Serving lepers, even to the point of kissing them, was not merely a philanthropic gesture, a "social" conversion, so to speak, but a true religious experience commanded by the initiative of God's grace and love: "The Lord himself", he said, "led me among them" (Test. 2). It was then that what had seemed bitter was changed into "sweetness in (his) soul and body" (Test. 3).
Yes, my dear brothers and sisters, converting to love means passing from bitterness to "sweetness", from sorrow to true joy. Man is truly himself and fulfils himself completely to the extent that he lives with God and of God, recognizing him and loving him in his brethren.
Another aspect of the journey of conversion emerges in the passage from the Letter to the Galatians. It is explained to us by another great convert, the Apostle Paul. The discussion in which the primitive community found itself involved is the immediate context of his words: in this discussion, many Christians who came from Judaism tended to link salvation to fulfilling the requirements of the ancient Law, thereby making the newness of Christ and the universality of his message vain.
Paul stood as a witness and champion of grace. On the road to Damascus, Christ's radiant face and strong voice had snatched him from his violent zeal as a persecutor and had kindled within him the new zeal of the Crucified One, who reconciles in his Cross those who are near and far (cf. Ep 2,11-22).
Paul realized that in Christ the whole of the law is fulfilled and that those who adhere to Christ are united with him and fulfil the law. Bringing Christ, and with Christ the one God, to all peoples became his mission. Christ "is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Ep 2,14).
At the same time, Paul's very personal confession of love also expresses the common essence of Christian life: "The life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Ga 2,20). And how can one respond to this love except by embracing the Crucified Christ to the point of living his very life? "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Ga 2,20a).
In speaking of being crucified with Christ, St Paul was not only referring to his new birth in Baptism, but to the whole of his life at the service of Christ. This connection with his apostolic life appears clearly in the final words of his defence of Christian freedom at the end of the Letter to the Galatians: "Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus" (Ga 6,17).
This is the first time in the history of Christianity that the words "the marks of Jesus" [stigmata] appear. In the dispute on the right way of seeing and living the Gospel, it is not, in the end, the arguments that decide our thought: it is the reality of life that decides, communion lived and suffered with Jesus, not only in ideas or words but in the depths of our existence, also involving the body, the flesh.
The bruises that the Apostle received in the long history of his passion are the witness of the presence of the Cross of Jesus in St Paul's body; they are his stigmata. Thus, one can say that it is not circumcision that saves: these stigmata are the consequence of his Baptism, the expression of his dying with Jesus, day after day, the sure sign of his being a new creature (cf. Ga 6,15).
Moreover, by using the word "marks", Paul is referring to the ancient practice of branding the slave with his owner's mark. Thus, the servant was "marked" as the property of his owner and was under his protection. The sign of the Cross, stamped on Paul's skin through long drawn-out suffering, was his boast. It legitimized him as a true servant of Jesus, protected by the Lord's love.
Today, dear friends, Francis of Assisi presents all of these words of Paul anew, together with the power of his witness. Since the time when the faces of lepers, loved through love of God, made him understand in a certain way the mystery of kenosis (cf. Ph 2,7) - the humbling of God in the flesh of the Son of Man -, from the time when the voice of the Crucifix in San Damiano put in his heart the programme for his life, "Go, Francis, repair my house" (2 Cel I, 6, 10), his journey was none other than the daily effort to put on Christ.
He fell in love with Christ. The wounds of the Crucified One wounded his heart before leaving their marks on his body on Mount La Verna. He could truly say with Paul: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me".
And so we come to the evangelical heart of today's Word of God. Jesus himself, in the passage from Luke's Gospel which has just been read, explains to us the dynamism of authentic conversion, pointing out to us as a model the sinful woman redeemed by love. It should be recognized that this woman had ventured much.
The manner in which she chose to come before Jesus, bathing his feet with tears and drying them with her hair, kissing them and sprinkling scented oil upon them, was done to shock those who viewed people in her condition with the merciless eye of the judge.
What is striking, on the other hand, is the tenderness with which Jesus treated this woman, exploited and judged by so many. In Jesus she found at last a pure eye, a heart capable of loving without exploiting. In the gaze and heart of Jesus she received the revelation of God-Love!
To avoid any misunderstanding, it should be noted that Jesus' mercy was not expressed by putting moral law in parentheses. For Jesus, good is good and evil is evil. Mercy does not change the connotations of sin but consumes it in a fire of love.
This purifying and healing effect is achieved if within the person there is a corresponding love which implies recognition of God's law, sincere repentance and the resolution to start a new life.
The sinful woman in the Gospel was pardoned greatly because she loved greatly. In Jesus, God comes to give love to us and to ask love of us.
My dear brothers and sisters, what was the life of the converted Francis if not a great act of love? This is revealed by his passionate prayers, rich in contemplation and praise, his tender embrace of the Divine Child at Greccio, his contemplation of the Passion at La Verna, his living "according to the form of the Holy Gospel" (2 Test. 14), his choice of poverty and his quest for Christ in the faces of the poor.
This was his conversion to Christ, to the point that he sought to be "transformed" into him, becoming his total image; and this explains his typical way of life by virtue of which he appears to us to be so modern, even in comparison with the great themes of our time such as the search for peace, the safeguard of nature, the promotion of dialogue among all people. In these things Francis was a true teacher. However, he was so by starting from Christ.
Indeed, Christ is "our peace" (cf. Ep 2,14). Christ is the very principle of the cosmos, since through him all things were made (cf. Jn 1,3). Christ is the divine truth, the eternal "Logos", in which, in time, every "dia-logos" finds its ultimate foundation. Francis profoundly embodies this "Christological" truth which is at the root of human existence, the cosmos and history.
I cannot forget in today's context the initiative of John Paul II, my Predecessor of holy memory, who in 1986 wanted to gather here at a Prayer Meeting for Peace representatives of the Christian denominations and of the different world religions.
It was a prophetic intuition and a moment of grace, as I said a few months ago in my Letter to the Bishop of this Town on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of that event. The choice of celebrating the meeting at Assisi was prompted precisely by the witness of Francis as a man of peace to whom so many people, even from other cultural and religious positions, look with sympathy.
At the same time, the light of the "Poverello" on that initiative was a guarantee of Christian authenticity, since his life and message are so visibly based on Christ's choice to reject a priori any temptation of religious indifferentism which would have nothing to do with authentic interreligious dialogue.
The "spirit of Assisi", which has continued to spread throughout the world since that event, counters the spirit of violence and the abuse of religion as a pretext for violence. Assisi tells us that faithfulness to one's own religious conviction, and especially faithfulness to the Crucified and Risen Christ, is not expressed in violence and intolerance but in sincere respect for the other, in dialogue, in a proclamation that appeals to freedom and reason and in the commitment to peace and reconciliation.
The failure to combine acceptance, dialogue and respect for all with the certainty of faith which every Christian, like the Saint of Assisi, is bound to foster, proclaiming Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life of man (cf. Jn 14,6), the one Saviour of the World, can be neither an evangelical nor a Franciscan attitude.
May Francis of Assisi obtain the grace of an authentic and full conversion to the love of Christ for this particular Church, for the Churches in Umbria, for the whole of the Church in Italy whose Patron he is, together with St Catherine of Siena, and for the many people in the world who refer to him.
Benedict XVI Homilies 13057