Audiences 2005-2013 25016
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. Today concludes the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, during which we reflected on the constant necessity to invoke the Lord for the immense gift of full unity among all of Christ's disciples. Indeed, this prayer contributes in an essential way to make the common ecumenical effort of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities more sincere and fruitful.
At this gathering of ours, I would like to take up once more the meditation on Psalm 144, proposed by the Liturgy of Vespers in two distinct moments (cf. vv. 1-8 and vv. 9-15). The tone is still hymnal and entering into the scene is, also in the second movement of this Psalm, the figure of the "Anointed One", that is, the "Consecrated One" par excellence, Jesus, who draws everyone to himself to make of all "one" (cf. Jn 17,11). It is not by chance that the scene dominating the hymn is marked by prosperity and peace, symbols typical of the messianic era.
2. For this reason, the hymn is defined as "new", a term which, in biblical language, evokes not so much the exterior novelty of the words, as the ultimate fullness that seals hope (cf. v. 9). It sings, therefore, of the destination of history where the voice of evil, described by the Psalmist as "lies" and "perjury", expressions which indicate idolatry (cf. v. 11), will finally be silenced.
But this negative aspect is replaced by a more spacious positive dimension, that of the new world, a joyful one about to appear. This is the true shalom or messianic "peace", a luminous horizon that is articulated with a series of images drawn from social life: they too can become for us an auspice for the birth of a more just society.
3. It is above all the family (cf. v. 12) that is founded on generations of young people. Sons, the hope of the future, are compared to strong saplings; daughters are like sturdy columns supporting the house, similar to those of a temple.
From the family we pass on to agriculture and farming, to the fields with its crops stored in the barns, with large flocks of grazing sheep and the working animals that till the fertile fields (cf. vv. 13-14).
Our gaze then turns to the city, that is, to the entire civil society which finally enjoys the precious gift of public peace and order. Indeed, the city walls are never more to be "breached" by invaders during assaults; raids are over, that mean plundering and deportation, and finally, the "sound of weeping" of the despairing, the wounded, victims and orphans, the sad inheritance of war, is no longer raised (cf. v. 14).
4. This portrait of a different yet possible world is entrusted to the work of the Messiah and also to that of his people. Under the guidance of Christ the Messiah, we must work together for this project of harmony and peace, stopping war's destructive action of hatred and violence. It is necessary, however, to make a choice, choosing to be on the side of the God of love and justice.
It is for this reason that the Psalm ends with the words: "Happy the people whose God is the Lord" (v. 15). God is the Good of goods, the condition of all other goods.
Only a people that knows God and defends spiritual and moral values can truly go towards a profound peace and also become a strength of peace for the world and for others; therefore, together with the Psalmist they can sing the "new song", full of trust and hope.
Spontaneous reference is made to the new covenant, to the novelty itself of Christ and his Gospel.
This is what St Augustine reminds us. Reading this Psalm, he also interprets the words: "I will play on the ten-stringed harp to you". To him, the ten-stringed harp is the law summed up in the Ten Commandments.
But we must find the right peg for these ten strings, these Ten Commandments. And only if these ten cords of the Ten Commandments - as St Augustine says - are strummed by the charity of the heart do they sound well.
Charity is the fullness of the law. He who lives the Commandments as a dimension of the one charity, truly sings the "new song". Charity that is united to the sentiments of Christ is the authentic "new song" of the "new man", able to create also a "new world".
This Psalm invites us to sing "on the ten-stringed harp" with a new heart, to sing with the sentiments of Christ, to live the Ten Commandments in the dimension of love and to thereby contribute to the peace and harmony of the world (cf. Esposizioni sui Salmi, 143, 16: Nuova Biblioteca Agostiniana, XXVIII, Rome, 1977, p. 677).
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To special groups
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims here today, especially the students and teachers from Denmark and the ecumenical group from Japan. I greet also those who have come from Ireland, New Zealand and the United States of America. May you experience in your lives the peace and joy of Christ our Lord, and may God bless you all.
Lastly, my thought goes to you, young people, the sick and newly-weds. Among the young people I especially have in mind the students of the "Leopardi" lycée of San Benedetto del Tronto, accompanied by Bishop Gervasio Gestori, and the alumni of the "Pio IX" Pontifical School of Rome. Following the example of the Apostle Paul, whose conversion we celebrated today, I invite you all to live authentically the Christian vocation.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. We have just prayed Psalm 145, a joyful song of praise to the Lord who is exalted as a tender and loving King, concerned for all his creatures. The liturgy presents this hymn to us in two separate parts that also correspond to the two poetical and spiritual movements of the Psalm itself. We now reflect on the first part, which corresponds to verses 1-13.
The Psalm is raised to the Lord who is invoked and described as "King" (cf. Ps 145: 1), a depiction of the divine that is also dominant in other psalmic hymns (cf. Ps 47, 93; 96-99).
Indeed, the spiritual centre of our canticle is constituted precisely by an intense and passionate celebration of the divine kingship. The Hebrew word malkut, "reign", is repeated in it four times, almost as if to indicate the four cardinal points of being and of history (cf. Ps 145,11-13 : 11-13).
We know that this royal symbolism, which was also to be central in Christ's preaching, is the expression of God's saving project: he is not indifferent to human history; on the contrary, he desires to put a plan of harmony and peace for human history into practice with us and for us.
The whole of humanity is called together to implement this plan in order that it comply with the divine saving will, a will that is extended to all "men", to "all generations", from "age to age".
It is a universal action that uproots evil from the world and instils in it the "glory" of the Lord, that is, his personal, effective and transcendent presence.
2. The prayerful praise of the Psalmist, who makes himself the voice of all the faithful and today would like to be the voice of all of us, is directed to this heart of the Psalm, placed precisely at the centre of the composition. The loftiest biblical prayer is in fact the celebration of the works of salvation, which reveal the Lord's love for his creatures.
In this Psalm the Psalmist continues to praise the divine "name", that is, the person of the Lord (cf. vv. 1-2), who manifests himself in his historical action: indeed, his "works", "splendour", "wonderful works", "mighty deeds", "greatness", "justice", "patience", "compassion", "grace", "goodness" and "love" are mentioned.
It is a prayer in the form of a litany which proclaims God's entry into human events in order to bring the whole of created reality to a salvific fullness. We are not at the mercy of dark forces nor alone with our freedom, but rather, we are entrusted to the action of the mighty and loving Lord, who has a plan for us, a "reign" to establish (cf. v. 11).
3. This "kingdom" does not consist of power and might, triumph and oppression, as unfortunately is often the case with earthly kingdoms; rather, it is the place where compassion, love, goodness, grace and justice are manifested, as the Psalmist repeats several times in the flow of verses full of praise.
Verse 8 sums up this divine portrait: the Lord is "slow to anger, abounding in love". These words are reminiscent of God's presentation of himself on Sinai when he said: "The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness" (Ex 34,6).
We have here a preparation for the profession of faith in God of St John the Apostle, who simply tells us that he is love: "Deus caritas est" (cf. 1Jn 4,8 1Jn 4,16).
4. Our attention, as well as being fixed on these beautiful words that portray to us a God who is "slow to anger" and "full of compassion", always ready to forgive and to help, is also fixed on the very beautiful verse 9 which follows: "How good is the Lord to all, compassionate to all his creatures". These are words to meditate upon, words of consolation, a certainty that he brings to our lives.
In this regard, St Peter Chrysologus (c. 380 c. 450) says in his Second Discourse on Fasting: ""Great are the works of the Lord'; but this grandeur that we see in Creation is surpassed by the greatness of his mercy. Indeed, after the Prophet has said, "Great are the works of God', in another passage he adds: "His compassion is greater than all his works'. Mercy, brothers and sisters, fills the heavens, fills the earth.... That is why the great, generous, unique mercy of Christ, who reserved every judgment for a single day, allotted all of man's time to the truce of penance.... That is why the Prophet who did not trust in his own justice abandons himself entirely to God's mercy; "Have mercy on me, O God', he says, "according to your abundant mercy' (Ps 51,3 )" (42, 4-5: Sermoni 1-62bis, Scrittori dell'Area Santambrosiana, 1, Milan-Rome, 1996, pp. 299,301).
And so, let us too say to the Lord, "Have mercy on me, O God, you who are great in your mercy".
To special groups:
I extend a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims here today, including groups from England and the United States of America. I greet in particular those attending the Conference of European English-speaking Rectors as well as the trustees and officers of the University of Notre Dame. Upon all of you, I invoke the peace and joy of Jesus Christ our Lord!
Lastly, I address the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Yesterday, we celebrated the memorial of St John Bosco, priest and educator. Look at him, dear young people, as an authentic teacher of life and holiness. Dear sick people, learn from his spiritual experience to trust in the Crucified Christ in every circumstance. And you, dear newly-weds, have recourse to his intercession so that he may help you take on generously your mission as husbands and wives.
1. Following the liturgy that divides it into two parts, let us return to , a wonderful hymn in honour of the Lord, a loving King who is attentive to his creatures. Let us now meditate upon the second part of the Psalm: they are verses 14 to 21, which take up the fundamental theme of the hymn's first part.
In them are exalted the divine compassion, tenderness, fidelity and goodness which are extended to the whole of humanity, involving every creature. The Psalm now focuses on the love that the Lord reserves particularly for the poor and the weak.
Divine kingship is not, therefore, detached and haughty, as can be the case in the exercise of human power. God expresses his sovereignty by bending down to meet the frailest and most helpless of his creatures.
2. Indeed, he is first and foremost a father who supports those who falter and raises those who have fallen into the dust of humiliation (cf. v. 14). Consequently, living beings are reaching out to the Lord like hungry beggars and he gives them, like a tender parent, the food they need to survive (cf. v. 15).
At this point the profession of faith in justice and holiness, the two divine qualities par excellence, emerges from the lips of the person praying: "The Lord is just in all his ways and loving in all his deeds" (cf. v. 17).
In Hebrew we have two typical adjectives to illustrate the Covenant between God and his People: saadiq and hasid. They express justice that seeks to save and to liberate from evil, and the faithfulness that is a sign of the Lord's loving greatness.
3. The Psalmist takes the side of those who have benefited, whom he describes in various words: in practice, these terms portray true believers. They "call on" the Lord in trusting prayer, they seek him in life with a sincere heart (cf. v. 18); they "fear" their God, respecting his will and obeying his word (cf. v. 19), but above all "love" him, certain that he will take them under the mantle of his protection and his closeness (cf. v. 20).
Then, the Psalmist's closing words are the ones with which he opened his hymn: an invitation to praise and bless the Lord and his "name", that is, as a living and holy Person who works and saves in the world and in history.
Indeed, his call is an assurance that every creature marked by the gift of life associates himself or herself with the prayerful praise: "Let all mankind bless his holy name for ever, for ages unending" (v. 21). This is a sort of perennial hymn that must be raised from earth to heaven; it is a community celebration of God's universal love, source of peace, joy and salvation.
4. To conclude our reflection, let us return to that sweet verse which says: "[The Lord] is close to all who call him, who call on him from their hearts" (v. 18). This sentence was particularly dear to Barsanuphius of Gaza, an ascetic who died in the mid-sixth century, to whom monks, ecclesiastics and lay people would often turn because of the wisdom of his discernment.
Thus, for example, to one disciple who expressed his desire "to seek the causes of the various temptations that assailed him", Barsanuphius responded: "Brother John, do not fear any of the temptations that come to test you, for the Lord will not let you fall prey to them. So, whenever one of these temptations comes to you, do not tire yourself by endeavouring to discern what is at stake, but cry out Jesus' Name: "Jesus, help me!'. And he will hear you, for he "is close to all who call on him'. Do not be discouraged, but run on with enthusiasm and you will reach the destination in Christ Jesus, Our Lord" (Barsanuphius and John of Gaza, Epistolario, 39: Collana di Testi Patristici, XCIII, Rome, 1991, p. 109).
And these words of the ancient Father also apply to us. In our difficulties, problems, temptations, we must not simply make a theoretical reflection - where do they come from? - but must react positively; we must call on the Lord, we must keep alive our contact with the Lord. Indeed, we must cry out the Name of Jesus: "Jesus, help me!".
And let us be certain that he hears us, because he is close to those who seek him. Let us not feel discouraged, but let us run on with enthusiasm, as this Father says, and we too will reach the destination of our lives: Jesus, the Lord.
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience, especially those from Ireland and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's Blessings of health and joy.
I then greet you, dear Bishops taking part in the International Meeting organized by the Community of Sant'Egidio, and I hope that these days of reflection and prayer will be fruitful for the ministry you are called to carry out in your Dioceses.
Lastly, my thoughts turn to the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Today, we are celebrating the liturgical memorial of St Jerome Emiliani, Founder of the Order of Clerics Regular of Somaschi, and St Josephine Bakhita, a particularly lovable saint. May the courage of these two faithful witnesses of Christ help you, dear young people, to open your hearts to the heroism of holiness in daily life. May it sustain you, dear sick people, in persevering patiently and in offering your prayer and suffering for the whole Church. And may it give you, dear newly-weds, the courage to make your families communities of love, filled with Christian values.
On Wednesday, 15 February, prior to giving his Catechesis in the Paul VI Audience Hall, the Holy Father spoke to students from various parts of Italy and to the members of the Congregation of St John.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you all with affection, dear students from various parts of Italy. I particularly greet the students and teachers of the Schools of Ostia Lido, of the Institute of the Sacred Heart in Caserta and of Rome's St Dorothy Institute.
Dear friends, you certainly have heard that my first Encyclical has recently been published. Its title is Deus Caritas Est. In it I wanted to recall that God's love is the source and motive of our true joy. I ask each one of you to understand ever better and to accept this Love, which changes life and makes you credible witnesses of the Gospel. You will thus become true friends of Jesus and his faithful apostles.
We must make the tenderness of God's Heart felt, especially by the weakest and neediest people; and do not forget that in spreading divine love, each one of us makes a contribution to building a more just and supportive world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am glad to greet the members and friends of the Congregation of St John, accompanied by the Priors General and Fr Marie-Dominique Philippe, on the occasion of its 30th anniversary. May your pilgrimage be a time of renewal. And may you take care to verify your experience in order to draw from it all that it teaches, and to carry out an ever deeper discernment of the vocations that present themselves and the missions to which you are called, in trusting collaboration with the Pastors of the local Churches. May the Lord lead you to grow in holiness with the help of Mary and of his beloved disciple.
Let us end our meeting by reciting the prayer of the Our Father.
"My soul glorifies the Lord'
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. We have now arrived at the final destination of the long journey begun exactly five years ago in Spring 2001, by my beloved Predecessor, the unforgettable Pope John Paul II. In his Catecheses, the great Pope wanted to cover the whole sequence of the Psalms and Canticles that constitute the fundamental prayerful fabric of the Liturgy of Lauds and Vespers. Having now reached the end of this pilgrimage through the texts, similar to a stroll in a garden filled with flowers of praise, invocation, prayer and contemplation, let us now make room for that Canticle which seals in spirit every celebration of Vespers: the Magnificat (Lc 1,46-55).
It is a canticle that reveals in filigree the spirituality of the biblical anawim, that is, of those faithful who not only recognize themselves as "poor" in the detachment from all idolatry of riches and power, but also in the profound humility of a heart emptied of the temptation to pride and open to the bursting in of the divine saving grace. Indeed, the whole Magnificat, which we have just heard the Sistine Chapel Choir sing, is marked by this "humility", in Greek tapeinosis, which indicates a situation of material humility and poverty.
2. The first part of the Marian canticle (cf. Lc 1,46-50) is a sort of solo voice that rises to Heaven to reach the Lord. The constant resonance of the first person should be noted: "My soul... my spirit... my Saviour... has done great things for me... [they] will call me blessed...". So it is that the soul of the prayer is the celebration of the divine grace which has burst into the heart and life of Mary, making her Mother of the Lord. We hear the Virgin's own voice speaking of her Saviour who has done great things in her soul and body.
The intimate structure of her prayerful canticle, therefore, is praise, thanksgiving and grateful joy. But this personal witness is neither solitary nor intimistic, purely individualistic, because the Virgin Mother is aware that she has a mission to fulfil for humanity and her experience fits into the history of salvation.
She can thus say: "And his mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation" (v. 50). With this praise of the Lord, Our Lady gives a voice to all redeemed creatures, who find in her "fiat", and thus in the figure of Jesus, born of the Virgin, the mercy of God.
3. It is at this point that the second poetic and spiritual part of the Magnificat unfolds (cf. vv. 51-55). It has a more choral tone, almost as if the voices of the whole community of the faithful were associated with Mary's voice, celebrating God's amazing decision.
In the original Greek of Luke's Gospel, we have seven aorist verbs that indicate the same number of actions which the Lord carries out repeatedly in history: "He has shown strength... he has scattered the proud... he has put down the mighty... he has exalted those of low degree... he has filled the hungry with good things... the rich he has sent empty away... he has helped... Israel".
In these seven divine acts, the "style" that inspires the behaviour of the Lord of history stands out: he takes the part of the lowly. His plan is one that is often hidden beneath the opaque context of human events that see "the proud, the mighty and the rich" triumph.
Yet his secret strength is destined in the end to be revealed, to show who God's true favourites are: "Those who fear him", faithful to his words: "those of low degree", "the hungry", "his servant Israel"; in other words, the community of the People of God who, like Mary, consist of people who are "poor", pure and simple of heart. It is that "little flock" which is told not to fear, for the Lord has been pleased to give it his Kingdom (cf. Lc 12,32). And this Canticle invites us to join the tiny flock and the true members of the People of God in purity and simplicity of heart, in God's love.
4. Let us therefore accept the invitation that St Ambrose, the great Doctor of the Church, addresses to us in his commentary on the text of the Magnificat: "May Mary's soul be in each one to magnify the Lord, may Mary's spirit be in each one to rejoice in God; if, according to the flesh, the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ; each, in fact, welcomes the Word of God within.... Mary's soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God because, consecrated in soul and spirit to the Father and to the Son, she adores with devout affection one God, from whom come all things and only one Lord, by virtue of whom all things exist" (Exposition of the Holy Gospel according to Saint Lc 2,26-27, SAEMO, XI, Milan-Rome, 1978, p. 169).
In this marvellous commentary on the Magnificat by St Ambrose, I am always especially moved by the surprising words: "If, according to the flesh the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ: indeed, each one intimately welcomes the Word of God". Thus, interpreting Our Lady's very words, the Holy Doctor invites us to ensure that the Lord can find a dwelling place in our own souls and lives. Not only must we carry him in our hearts, but we must bring him to the world, so that we too can bring forth Christ for our epoch. Let us pray the Lord to help us praise him with Mary's spirit and soul, and to bring Christ back to our world.
To special groups
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am happy to offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today's Audience. I extend particular greetings to the groups from England, Ireland, Denmark, Norway and the United States of America. May your time in Rome strengthen your faith and renew your love for the Lord and his Blessed Mother. May God bless you all!
I now offer a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. I first address an affectionate thought to the Maestro, Mons. Giuseppe Liberto and the Sistine Chapel Choir, present today at the end of the series of Catecheses commenting on the Psalms and Canticles that make up the Liturgy of the Hours. They sang the Magnificat for us superbly.
Dear friends, I would like to express to you my grateful appreciation for your service during the liturgical celebrations at which the Successor of Peter presides; I am especially grateful to you for having enlivened the General Audiences with song. Thank you for everything.
I then greet you, dear Bishops who are taking part in the 30th Congress organized by the Focolare Movement, and I encourage you to increasingly deepen the authentic spirituality of communion that must distinguish the priestly and episcopal ministry.
I also greet you, participants in the General Chapter of the Oblates of St Joseph, and I hope that you and your Religious Family will persevere generously in your service to Christ and to the Church, following faithfully in the footsteps of the Founder, Bl. Bishop Joseph Marello.
Lastly, I greet the sick people and the newly-weds. Yesterday, we celebrated the Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius, Apostles to the Slavs and the first to spread the faith among the Slav Peoples. May their witness also help you to be apostles of the Gospel and a leaven of authentic renewal in your personal, family and social life.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today, the Latin-rite liturgy celebrates the Feast of the Chair of St Peter. This is a very ancient tradition, proven to have existed in Rome since the fourth century. On it we give thanks to God for the mission he entrusted to the Apostle Peter and his Successors.
"Cathedra" literally means the established seat of the Bishop, placed in the mother church of a diocese which for this reason is known as a "cathedral"; it is the symbol of the Bishop's authority and in particular, of his "magisterium", that is, the evangelical teaching which, as a successor of the Apostles, he is called to safeguard and to transmit to the Christian Community.
When a Bishop takes possession of the particular Church that has been entrusted to him, wearing his mitre and holding the pastoral staff, he sits on the cathedra. From this seat, as teacher and pastor, he will guide the journey of the faithful in faith, hope and charity.
So what was the "Chair" of St Peter? Chosen by Christ as the "rock" on which to build the Church (cf. Mt 16,18), he began his ministry in Jerusalem, after the Ascension of the Lord and Pentecost. The Church's first "seat" was the Upper Room, and it is likely that a special place was reserved for Simon Peter in that room where Mary, Mother of Jesus, also prayed with the disciples.
Subsequently, the See of Peter was Antioch, a city located on the Oronte River in Syria, today Turkey, which at the time was the third metropolis of the Roman Empire after Rome and Alexandria in Egypt. Peter was the first Bishop of that city, which was evangelized by Barnabas and Paul, where "the disciples were for the first time called Christians" (Ac 11,26), and consequently where our name "Christians" came into being. In fact, the Roman Martyrology, prior to the reform of the calendar, also established a specific celebration of the Chair of Peter in Antioch.
From there, Providence led Peter to Rome. Therefore, we have the journey from Jerusalem, the newly born Church, to Antioch, the first centre of the Church formed from pagans and also still united with the Church that came from the Jews. Then Peter went to Rome, the centre of the Empire, the symbol of the "Orbis" - the "Urbs", which expresses "Orbis", the earth, where he ended his race at the service of the Gospel with martyrdom.
So it is that the See of Rome, which had received the greatest of honours, also has the honour that Christ entrusted to Peter of being at the service of all the particular Churches for the edification and unity of the entire People of God.
The See of Rome, after St Peter's travels, thus came to be recognized as the See of the Successor of Peter, and its Bishop's "cathedra" represented the mission entrusted to him by Christ to tend his entire flock.
This is testified by the most ancient Fathers of the Church, such as, for example, St Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons, but who came from Asia Minor, who in his treatise Adversus Haereses, describes the Church of Rome as the "greatest and most ancient, known by all... founded and established in Rome by the two most glorious Apostles, Peter and Paul"; and he added: "The universal Church, that is, the faithful everywhere, must be in agreement with this Church because of her outstanding superiority" (III, 3, 2-3).
Tertullian, a little later, said for his part: "How blessed is the Church of Rome, on which the Apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood!" (De Praescriptione Hereticorum, 36).
Consequently, the Chair of the Bishop of Rome represents not only his service to the Roman community but also his mission as guide of the entire People of God.
Celebrating the "Chair" of Peter, therefore, as we are doing today, means attributing a strong spiritual significance to it and recognizing it as a privileged sign of the love of God, the eternal Good Shepherd, who wanted to gather his whole Church and lead her on the path of salvation.
Among the numerous testimonies of the Fathers, I would like to quote St Jerome's. It is an extract from one of his letters, addressed to the Bishop of Rome. It is especially interesting precisely because it makes an explicit reference to the "Chair" of Peter, presenting it as a safe harbour of truth and peace.
This is what Jerome wrote: "I decided to consult the Chair of Peter, where that faith is found exalted by the lips of an Apostle; I now come to ask for nourishment for my soul there, where once I received the garment of Christ. I follow no leader save Christ, so I enter into communion with your beatitude, that is, with the Chair of Peter, for this I know is the rock upon which the Church is built" (cf. Le lettere I, 15, 1-2).
Dear brothers and sisters, in the apse of St Peter's Basilica, as you know, is the monument to the Chair of the Apostle, a mature work of Bernini. It is in the form of a great bronze throne supported by the statues of four Doctors of the Church: two from the West, St Augustine and St Ambrose, and two from the East: St John Chrysostom and St Athanasius.
I invite you to pause before this evocative work which today can be admired, decorated with myriads of candles, and to say a special prayer for the ministry that God has entrusted to me. Raise your eyes to the alabaster glass window located directly above the Chair and call upon the Holy Spirit, so that with his enlightenment and power, he will always sustain my daily service to the entire Church. For this, as for your devoted attention, I thank you from my heart.
To special groups
I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Audience. In particular, I greet the members of the Pro Oriente Syriac Commission, and also the members of the British Parliament. Today, I invite you all to visit the specially decorated monument to the "cathedra" of Peter, in the Basilica. There, I ask you to pray that the Holy Spirit may enlighten me and support me in my service to the Church. Thank you and may God bless you all!
Lastly, my thoughts go to the sick and the newly-weds. Dear sick people, offer to the Lord your moments of trial so that they may open the doors of hearts to the proclamation of the Gospel. And may you, dear newly-weds, always be witnesses of the love of Christ who has called you to achieve a common project of life.
The Feast of the Chair of St Peter is a particularly suitable day for announcing that next 24 March I will be holding a Consistory at which I will appoint new Members to the College of Cardinals. It is appropriate to make this announcement on the Feast of the Chair because the task of Cardinals is to sustain and assist the Successor of Peter in carrying out the apostolic office that has been entrusted to him at the service of the Church.
It is not by chance that in ancient ecclesiastical documents the Popes described the College of Cardinals as "pars corporis nostri" (cf. F.X. Wernz, Ius Decretalium, II, n. 459). In fact, the Cardinals form a sort of Senate that surrounds the Pope and of which he avails himself in carrying out the tasks connected with his ministry as the "lasting and visible source and foundation of the unity both of faith and of communion" (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 18).
With the creation of the new Cardinals, therefore, I intend to bring to 120 the number of Members Electors of the College of Cardinals, as fixed by Pope Paul VI of venerable memory (cf. AAS 65, 1973, p. 163).
The following are the names of the new Cardinals:
1.- Archbishop William Joseph Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;
2.- Archbishop Franc Rodé, C.M., Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;
3.- Archbishop Agostino Vallini, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura;
4.- Archbishop Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino of Caracas, Venezuela;
5.- Archbishop Gaudencio B. Rosales of Manila, the Philippines;
6.- Archbishop Jean-Pierre Ricard of Bordeaux, France;
7.- Archbishop Antonio Cañizares Llovera of Toledo, Spain;
8.- Archbishop Nicholas Cheong-Jin-suk of Seoul, Korea;
9.- Archbishop Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., of Boston, U.S.A.;
10.- Archbishop Stanis³aw Dziwisz of Krakow, Poland;
11.- Archbishop Carlo Caffarra of Bologna, Italy;
12.- Bishop Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, S.D.B., of Hong Kong, China.
I have also decided to raise to the dignity of Cardinal three ecclesiastics who are older than 80, out of esteem for the services they have rendered to the Church with exemplary faithfulness and admirable dedication.
1. Archbishop Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Archpriest of the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls;
2. Archbishop Peter Poreku Dery, Archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana;
3. Fr Albert Vanhoye, S.J., the former praiseworthy Rector of the Pontifical Institute the Biblicum, and Secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission: a great exegete.
The Church's universality is clearly reflected in the group of new Cardinals. Indeed, they come from various parts of the world and carry out different offices at the service of the People of God. I ask you to raise to God a special prayer to the Lord, so that he will grant them the necessary graces to carry out their mission generously.
As I said at the outset, I will be holding the announced Consistory next 24 March and the following day, 25 March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, I will have the joy of presiding at a solemn Concelebration with the new Cardinals. I also invite all the Members of the College of Cardinals to take part; I have in mind to organize a meeting with them for reflection and prayer on the previous day, 23 March.
Let us now end with the singing of the Pater Noster.
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