Audiences 2005-2013 17020

Wednesday, 17 February 2010 - Ash Wednesday

17020

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Ash Wednesday, we are beginning the Lenten Journey, a journey that takes 40 days and brings us to the joy of the Lord's Pasch. On this spiritual journey we are not alone because the Church accompanies and supports us from the outset with the word of God, which contains a programme of spiritual life and penitential commitment, and with the grace of the sacraments.

The Apostle Paul's words give us a precise order "We entreat you not to accept the grace of God in vain.... Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation" (
2Co 6,1-2).
Indeed in the Christian vision of life every moment must be favourable and every day must be a day of salvation but the Church's Liturgy speaks of this in a very special way in the Season of Lent. And we can understand that the 40 days in preparation for Easter are a favourable time and a time of grace precisely from the appeal that the austere rite of the imposition of ashes addresses to us and which is expressed in the Liturgy in two formulas: "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel"; "Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return".

The first appeal is for conversion, a word to be understood with its extraordinary gravity, grasping the surprising newness it releases. The appeal to conversion, in fact, lays bare and denounces the facile superficiality that all too often marks our lives. To repent [or convert] is to change direction in the journey of life: not, however, by means of a small adjustment, but with a true and proper about turn. Conversion means swimming against the tide, where the "tide" is the superficial lifestyle, inconsistent and deceptive, that often sweeps us long, overwhelms us and makes us slaves to evil or at any rate prisoners of moral mediocrity. With conversion, on the other hand, we are aiming for the high standard of Christian living, we entrust ourselves to the living and personal Gospel which is Jesus Christ. He is our final goal and the profound meaning of conversion, he is the path on which all are called to walk through life, letting themselves be illumined by his light and sustained by his power which moves our steps. In this way conversion expresses his most splendid and fascinating Face: it is not a mere moral decision that rectifies our conduct in life, but rather a choice of faith that wholly involves us in close communion with Jesus as a real and living Person. To repent and believe in the Gospel are not two different things or in some way only juxtaposed, but express the same reality. Repentance is the total "yes" of those who consign their whole life to the Gospel responding freely to Christ who first offers himself to humankind as the Way, the Truth and the Life, as the only One who sets us free and saves us. This is the precise meaning of the first words with which, according to the Evangelist Mark, Jesus begins preaching the "Gospel of God": "The time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the Gospel" (Mc 1,15).

The "Repent, and believe in the Gospel" is not only at the beginning of Christian life but accompanies it throughout, endures, is renewed and spreads, branching out into all its expressions. Every day is a favourable moment of grace because every day presses us to give ourselves to Jesus, to trust in him, to abide in him, to share his lifestyle, to learn true love from him, to follow him in the daily fulfilment of the Father's will, the one great law of life. Every day, even when it is fraught with difficulties and toil, weariness and setbacks, even when we are tempted to leave the path of the following of Christ and withdraw into ourselves, into our selfishness, without realizing our need to open ourselves to the love of God in Christ, to live the same logic of justice and love. In my recent Message for Lent I wanted to recall that "humility is required to accept that I need Another to free me from "what is mine', to give me gratuitously "what is His'. This happens especially in the sacraments of Reconciliation and the Eucharist. Thanks to Christ's action, we may enter into the "greatest' justice, which is that of love (cf. Rm 13,8-10), the justice that recognizes itself in every case more a debtor than a creditor, because it has received more than could ever have been expected" (Message, 30 October 2009).

The favourable moment of grace in Lent also reveals its spiritual significance to us in the ancient formula: "Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return" which the priest says as he places a little ash on our foreheads. Thus we are referred back to the dawn of human history when the Lord told Adam, after the original sin: "In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return" (Gn 3,19). Here, the word of God reminds us of our frailty, indeed of our death, which is the extreme form. Before the innate fear of the end and even sooner in the context of a culture which in so many ways tends to censure the reality and the human experience of death, the Lenten Liturgy, on the one hand, reminds us of death, inviting us to realism and wisdom; but, on the other, it impels us above all to understand and live the unexpected newness that the Christian faith releases from the reality of death itself.

Man is dust and to dust he shall return, but dust is precious in God's eyes because God created man, destining him to immortality. Hence the Liturgical formula, "Remember, man, you are dust and to dust you will return", finds the fullness of its meaning in reference to the new Adam, Christ. The Lord Jesus also chose freely to share with every human being the destiny of weakness, in particular through his death on the Cross; but this very death, the culmination of his love for the Father and for humanity, was the way to the glorious Resurrection, through which Christ became a source of grace, given to all who believe in him, who are made to share in divine life itself. This life that will have no end has already begun in the earthly phase of our existence but it will be brought to completion after "the resurrection of the flesh". The little action of the imposition of ashes reveals to us the unique riches of its meaning. It is an invitation to spend the Lenten Season as a more conscious and intense immersion in Christ's Paschal Mystery in his death and Resurrection, through participation in the Eucharist and in the life of charity, which is born from the Eucharist in which it also finds its fulfilment. With the imposition of ashes we renew our commitment to following Jesus, to letting ourselves be transformed by his Paschal Mystery, to overcoming evil and to doing good, in order to make our former self, linked to sin die and to give birth to our "new nature", transformed by God's grace.

Dear friends, while we prepare to set out on the austere Lenten journey, let us invoke with special trust the protection and help of the Virgin Mary. May it be her, the first believer in Christ, to accompany us in these 40 days of intense prayer and sincere penitence so that we may arrive purified and completely renewed in mind and in spirit at the great Mystery of the Pasch of his Son.

I wish you all a good Lent!

To special groups

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially those from England, Ireland and the United States. My special greeting goes to the members of the Movement Pro Sanctitate from Lithuania, led by Bishop Antons Justs. I also greet the many school and university students, including those from Bishop Hendrickson High School in Rhode Island, and I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you I invoke God's Blessings of joy and peace!

In a special way I greet with affection the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear young people I urge you to live Lent with an authentic penitential spirit, as a return to the Father who awaits all with open arms. Dear sick people, I encourage you to offer up your suffering together with Christ for the conversion of all who are still far from God; and I hope that you, dear newlyweds, may build your family courageously and generously on the firm rock of divine love.





Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 3 March 2010 - Saint Bonaventure

30310
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to talk about St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. I confide to you that in broaching this subject I feel a certain nostalgia, for I am thinking back to my research as a young scholar on this author who was particularly dear to me. My knowledge of him had quite an impact on my formation. A few months ago, with great joy, I made a pilgrimage to the place of his birth, Bagnoregio, an Italian town in Lazio that venerates his memory.

St Bonaventure, in all likelihood born in 1217, died in 1274. Thus he lived in the 13th century, an epoch in which the Christian faith which had deeply penetrated the culture and society of Europe inspired imperishable works in the fields of literature, the visual arts, philosophy and theology. Among the great Christian figures who contributed to the composition of this harmony between faith and culture Bonaventure stands out, a man of action and contemplation, of profound piety and prudent government.

He was called Giovanni di Fidanza. An episode that occurred when he was still a boy deeply marked his life, as he himself recounts. He fell seriously ill and even his father, who was a doctor, gave up all hope of saving him from death. So his mother had recourse to the intercession of St Francis of Assisi, who had recently been canonized. And Giovanni recovered.

The figure of the Poverello of Assisi became even more familiar to him several years later when he was in Paris, where he had gone to pursue his studies. He had obtained a Master of Arts Diploma, which we could compare with that of a prestigious secondary school in our time. At that point, like so many young men in the past and also today, Giovanni asked himself a crucial question: "What should I do with my life?". Fascinated by the witness of fervour and evangelical radicalism of the Friars Minor who had arrived in Paris in 1219, Giovanni knocked at the door of the Franciscan convent in that city and asked to be admitted to the great family of St Francis' disciples. Many years later he explained the reasons for his decision: he recognized Christ's action in St Francis and in the movement he had founded. Thus he wrote in a letter addressed to another friar: "I confess before God that the reason which made me love the life of blessed Francis most is that it resembled the birth and early development of the Church. The Church began with simple fishermen, and was subsequently enriched by very distinguished and wise teachers; the religion of Blessed Francis was not established by the prudence of men but by Christ" (Epistula de tribus quaestionibus ad magistrum innominatum, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Introduzione generale, Rome 1990, p. 29).

So it was that in about the year 1243 Giovanni was clothed in the Franciscan habit and took the name "Bonaventure". He was immediately sent to study and attended the Faculty of Theology of the University of Paris where he took a series of very demanding courses. He obtained the various qualifications required for an academic career earning a bachelor's degree in Scripture and in the Sentences. Thus Bonaventure studied profoundly Sacred Scripture, the Sentences of Peter Lombard the theology manual in that time and the most important theological authors. He was in contact with the teachers and students from across Europe who converged in Paris and he developed his own personal thinking and a spiritual sensitivity of great value with which, in the following years, he was able to infuse his works and his sermons, thus becoming one of the most important theologians in the history of the Church. It is important to remember the title of the thesis he defended in order to qualify to teach theology, the licentia ubique docendi, as it was then called. His dissertation was entitled Questions on the knowledge of Christ. This subject reveals the central role that Christ always played in Bonaventure's life and teaching. We may certainly say that the whole of his thinking was profoundly Christocentric.

In those years in Paris, Bonaventure's adopted city, a violent dispute was raging against the Friars Minor of St Francis Assisi and the Friars Preachers of St Dominic de Guzmßn. Their right to teach at the university was contested and doubt was even being cast upon the authenticity of their consecrated life. Of course, the changes introduced by the Mendicant Orders in the way of understanding religious life, of which I have spoken in previous Catecheses, were so entirely new that not everyone managed to understand them. Then it should be added, just as sometimes happens even among sincerely religious people, that human weakness, such as envy and jealousy, came into play. Although Bonaventure was confronted by the opposition of the other university masters, he had already begun to teach at the Franciscans' Chair of theology and, to respond to those who were challenging the Mendicant Orders, he composed a text entitled Evangelical Perfection. In this work he shows how the Mendicant Orders, especially the Friars Minor, in practising the vows of poverty, chastity and obedience, were following the recommendations of the Gospel itself. Over and above these historical circumstances the teaching that Bonaventure provides in this work of his and in his life remains every timely: the Church is made more luminous and beautiful by the fidelity to their vocation of those sons and daughters of hers who not only put the evangelical precepts into practice but, by the grace of God, are called to observe their counsels and thereby, with their poor, chaste and obedient way of life, to witness to the Gospel as a source of joy and perfection.

The storm blew over, at least for a while, and through the personal intervention of Pope Alexander VI in 1257, Bonaventure was officially recognized as a doctor and master of the University of Paris. However, he was obliged to relinquish this prestigious office because in that same year the General Chapter of the Order elected him Minister General.

He fulfilled this office for 17 years with wisdom and dedication, visiting the provinces, writing to his brethren, and at times intervening with some severity to eliminate abuses. When Bonaventure began this service, the Order of Friars Minor had experienced an extraordinary expansion: there were more than 30,000 Friars scattered throughout the West with missionaries in North Africa, the Middle East, and even in Peking. It was necessary to consolidate this expansion and especially, to give it unity of action and of spirit in full fidelity to Francis' charism. In fact different ways of interpreting the message of the Saint of Assisi arose among his followers and they ran a real risk of an internal split. To avoid this danger in 1260 the General Chapter of the Order in Narbonne accepted and ratified a text proposed by Bonaventure in which the norms regulating the daily life of the Friars Minor were collected and unified. Bonaventure, however, foresaw that regardless of the wisdom and moderation which inspired the legislative measures they would not suffice to guarantee communion of spirit and hearts. It was necessary to share the same ideals and the same motivations.
For this reason Bonaventure wished to present the authentic charism of Francis, his life and his teaching. Thus he zealously collected documents concerning the Poverello and listened attentively to the memories of those who had actually known Francis. This inspired a historically well founded biography of the Saint of Assisi, entitled Legenda Maior. It was redrafted more concisely, hence entitled Legenda minor. Unlike the Italian term the Latin word does not mean a product of the imagination but, on the contrary, "Legenda" means an authoritative text, "to be read" officially. Indeed, the General Chapter of the Friars Minor in 1263, meeting in Pisa, recognized St Bonaventure's biography as the most faithful portrait of their Founder and so it became the Saint's official biography.

What image of St Francis emerged from the heart and pen of his follower and successor, St Bonaventure? The key point: Francis is an alter Christus, a man who sought Christ passionately. In the love that impelled Francis to imitate Christ, he was entirely conformed to Christ. Bonaventure pointed out this living ideal to all Francis' followers. This ideal, valid for every Christian, yesterday, today and for ever, was also proposed as a programme for the Church in the Third Millennium by my Predecessor, Venerable John Paul II. This programme, he wrote in his Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, is centred "in Christ himself, who is to be known, loved and imitated, so that in him we may live the life of the Trinity, and with him transform history until its fulfilment in the heavenly Jerusalem" (
NM 29).

In 1273, St Bonaventure experienced another great change in his life. Pope Gregory X wanted to consecrate him a Bishop and to appoint him a Cardinal. The Pope also asked him to prepare the Second Ecumenical Council of Lyons, a most important ecclesial event, for the purpose of re-establishing communion between the Latin Church and the Greek Church. Boniface dedicated himself diligently to this task but was unable to see the conclusion of this ecumenical session because he died before it ended. An anonymous papal notary composed a eulogy to Bonaventure which gives us a conclusive portrait of this great Saint and excellent theologian. "A good, affable, devout and compassionate man, full of virtue, beloved of God and human beings alike.... God in fact had bestowed upon him such grace that all who saw him were pervaded by a love that their hearts could not conceal" (cf. J.G. Bougerol, Bonaventura, in A. Vauchez (edited by), Storia dei santi e della santitÓ cristiana. Vol. VI. L'epoca del rinnovamento evangelico, Milan 191, p. 91).

Let us gather the heritage of this holy doctor of the Church who reminds us of the meaning of our life with the following words: "On earth... we may contemplate the divine immensity through reasoning and admiration; in the heavenly homeland, on the other hand, through the vision, when we are likened to God and through ecstasy... we shall enter into the joy of God" (La conoscenza di Cristo, q. 6, conclusione, in Opere di San Bonaventura. Opuscoli Teologici / 1, Rome 1993, p. 187).

To special groups

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present at today's Audience, including those from Nigeria, Japan and the United States. To the pilgrims from Sophia University in Tokyo I offer my prayerful good wishes that the coming centenary of your University will strengthen your service to the pursuit of truth and your witness to the harmony of faith and reason. Upon you and your families I invoke God's abundant Blessings!

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear young people, prepare yourselves to face the important stages of life by founding every project of yours on fidelity to God and to your brothers and sisters. Dear sick people, offer your sufferings to the heavenly Father in union with those of Christ, to contribute to building the Kingdom of God. And you, dear newlyweds, may you be able to edify your family in listening to God in faithful and reciprocal love.





Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 17 March 2010 - Saint Bonaventure (3)

17030

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning, continuing last Wednesday's reflection, I would like to study with you some other aspects of the doctrine of St Bonaventure of Bagnoregio. He is an eminent theologian who deserves to be set beside another great thinker, a contemporary of his, St Thomas Aquinas. Both scrutinized the mysteries of Revelation, making the most of the resources of human reason, in the fruitful dialogue between faith and reason that characterized the Christian Middle Ages, making it a time of great intellectual vigour, as well as of faith and ecclesial renewal, which is often not sufficiently emphasized. Other similarities link them: Both Bonaventure, a Franciscan, and Thomas, a Dominican, belonged to the Mendicant Orders which, with their spiritual freshness, as I mentioned in previous Catecheses, renewed the whole Church in the 13th century and attracted many followers. They both served the Church with diligence, passion and love, to the point that they were invited to take part in the Ecumenical Council of Lyons in 1274, the very same year in which they died; Thomas while he was on his way to Lyons, Bonaventure while the Council was taking place.
Even the statues of the two Saints in St Peter's Square are parallel. They stand right at the beginning of the colonnade, starting from the fašade of the Vatican Basilica; one is on the left wing and the other on the right. Despite all these aspects, in these two great Saints we can discern two different approaches to philosophical and theological research which show the originality and depth of the thinking of each. I would like to point out some of their differences.

A first difference concerns the concept of theology. Both doctors wondered whether theology was a practical or a theoretical and speculative science. St Thomas reflects on two possible contrasting answers. The first says: theology is a reflection on faith and the purpose of faith is that the human being become good and live in accordance with God's will. Hence the aim of theology would be to guide people on the right, good road; thus it is basically a practical science. The other position says: theology seeks to know God. We are the work of God; God is above our action. God works right action in us; so it essentially concerns not our own doing but knowing God, not our own actions. St Thomas' conclusion is: theology entails both aspects: it is theoretical, it seeks to know God ever better, and it is practical: it seeks to orient our life to the good. But there is a primacy of knowledge: above all we must know God and then continue to act in accordance with God (Summa Theologiae,
I 1,4). This primacy of knowledge in comparison with practice is significant to St Thomas' fundamental orientation.

St Bonaventure's answer is very similar but the stress he gives is different. St Bonaventure knows the same arguments for both directions, as does St Thomas, but in answer to the question as to whether theology was a practical or a theoretical science, St Bonaventure makes a triple distinction he therefore extends the alternative between the theoretical (the primacy of knowledge) and the practical (the primacy of practice), adding a third attitude which he calls "sapiential" and affirming that wisdom embraces both aspects. And he continues: wisdom seeks contemplation (as the highest form of knowledge), and has as its intention "ut boni fiamus" that we become good, especially this: to become good (cf. Breviloquium, Prologus, 5). He then adds: "faith is in the intellect, in such a way that it provokes affection. For example: the knowledge that Christ died "for us' does not remain knowledge but necessarily becomes affection, love (Proemium in I Sent., q. 3).

His defence of theology is along the same lines, namely, of the rational and methodical reflection on faith. St Bonaventure lists several arguments against engaging in theology perhaps also widespread among a section of the Franciscan friars and also present in our time: that reason would empty faith, that it would be an aggressive attitude to the word of God, that we should listen and not analyze the word of God (cf. Letter of St Francis of Assisi to St Anthony of Padua). The Saint responds to these arguments against theology that demonstrate the perils that exist in theology itself saying: it is true that there is an arrogant manner of engaging in theology, a pride of reason that sets itself above the word of God. Yet real theology, the rational work of the true and good theology has another origin, not the pride of reason. One who loves wants to know his beloved better and better; true theology does not involve reason and its research prompted by pride, "sed propter amorem eius cui assentit [but is] motivated by love of the One who gave his consent" (Proemium in I Sent., q. 2) and wants to be better acquainted with the beloved: this is the fundamental intention of theology. Thus in the end, for St Bonaventure, the primacy of love is crucial.

Consequently St Thomas and St Bonaventure define the human being's final goal, his complete happiness in different ways. For St Thomas the supreme end, to which our desire is directed is: to see God. In this simple act of seeing God all problems are solved: we are happy, nothing else is necessary.

Instead, for St Bonaventure the ultimate destiny of the human being is to love God, to encounter him and to be united in his and our love. For him this is the most satisfactory definition of our happiness.

Along these lines we could also say that the loftiest category for St Thomas is the true, whereas for St Bonaventure it is the good. It would be mistaken to see a contradiction in these two answers. For both of them the true is also the good, and the good is also the true; to see God is to love and to love is to see. Hence it was a question of their different interpretation of a fundamentally shared vision. Both emphases have given shape to different traditions and different spiritualities and have thus shown the fruitfulness of the faith: one, in the diversity of its expressions.

Let us return to St Bonaventure. It is obvious that the specific emphasis he gave to his theology, of which I have given only one example, is explained on the basis of the Franciscan charism. The "Poverello" of Assisi, notwithstanding the intellectual debates of his time, had shown with his whole life the primacy of love. He was a living icon of Christ in love with Christ and thus he made the figure of the Lord present in his time he did not convince his contemporaries with his words but rather with his life. In all St Bonaventure's works, precisely also his scientific works, his scholarly works, one sees and finds this Franciscan inspiration; in other words one notices that his thought starts with his encounter with the "Poverello" of Assisi. However, in order to understand the practical elaboration of the topic "primacy of love" we must bear in mind yet another source: the writings of the so-called Pseudo-Dionysius, a Syrian theologian of the 6th century who concealed himself behind the pseudonym of Dionysius the Areopagite. In the choice of this name he was referring, to a figure in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. Ac 17,34). This theologian had created a liturgical theology and a mystical theology, and had spoken extensively of the different orders of angels. His writings were translated into Latin in the ninth century. At the time of St Bonaventure we are in the 13th century a new tradition appeared that aroused the interest of the Saint and of other theologians of his century. Two things in particular attracted St Bonaventure's attention.

1. Pseudo-Dionysius speaks of nine orders of angels whose names he had found in Scripture and then organized in his own way, from the simple angels to the seraphim. St Bonaventure interprets these orders of angels as steps on the human creature's way to God. Thus they can represent the human journey, the ascent towards communion with God. For St Bonaventure there is no doubt: St Francis of Assisi belonged to the Seraphic Order, to the supreme Order, to the choir of seraphim, namely, he was a pure flame of love. And this is what Franciscans should have been. But St Bonaventure knew well that this final step in the approach to God could not be inserted into a juridical order but is always a special gift of God. For this reason the structure of the Franciscan Order is more modest, more realistic, but nevertheless must help its members to come ever closer to a seraphic existence of pure love. Last Wednesday I spoke of this synthesis between sober realism and evangelical radicalism in the thought and action of St Bonaventure.

2. St Bonaventure, however, found in the writings of Peusdo-Dionysius another element, an even more important one. Whereas for St Augustine the intellectus, the seeing with reason and the heart, is the ultimate category of knowledge, Pseudo-Dionysius takes a further step: in the ascent towards God one can reach a point in which reason no longer sees. But in the night of the intellect love still sees it sees what is inaccessible to reason. Love goes beyond reason, it sees further, it enters more profoundly into God's mystery. St Bonaventure was fascinated by this vision which converged with his own Franciscan spirituality. It is precisely in the dark night of the Cross that divine love appears in its full grandeur; where reason no longer sees, love sees. The final words of his "The Journey of the Mind into God", can seem to be a superficial interpretation an exaggerated expression of devotion devoid of content; instead, read in the light of St Bonaventure's theology of the Cross, they are a clear and realistic expression of Franciscan spirituality: "If you seek in what manner these things occur (that is, the ascent towards God) interrogate grace, not doctrine, desire, not understanding; the groan of praying, not the study of reading... not light, but the fire totally inflaming, transferring one into God" (VII 6). All this is neither anti-intellectual nor anti-rational: it implies the process of reason but transcends it in the love of the Crucified Christ. With this transformation of the mysticism of Pseudo-Dionysius, St Bonaventure is placed at the source of a great mystical current which has greatly raised and purified the human mind: it is a lofty peak in the history of the human spirit.

This theology of the Cross, born of the encounter of Pseudo-Dionysius' theology and Franciscan spirituality, must not make us forget that St Bonaventure also shares with St Francis of Assisi his love for creation, his joy at the beauty of God's creation. On this point I cite a sentence from the first chapter of the "Journey": "He who is not brightened by such splendours of created things is blind; he who does not awake at such clamours is deaf; he who does not praise God on account of all these effects is mute; he who does not turn towards the First Principle on account of such indications is stupid" (I, 15).

The whole creation speaks loudly of God, of the good and beautiful God; of his love. Hence for St Bonaventure the whole of our life is a "journey", a pilgrimage, an ascent to God. But with our own strength alone we are incapable of climbing to the loftiness of God. God himself must help us, must "pull" us up. Thus prayer is necessary. Prayer, says the Saint, is the mother and the origin of the upward movement - "sursum actio", an action that lifts us up, Bonaventure says. Accordingly I conclude with the prayer with which he begins his "Journey": "Let us therefore say to the Lord Our God: "Lead me forth, Lord, in thy way, and let me step in thy truth; let my heart be glad, that it fears thy name' " (I, 1).

To special groups

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today is the Feast of St Patrick, and in a special way I greet all the Irish faithful and pilgrims here present. As you know, in recent months the Church in Ireland has been severely shaken as a result of the child abuse crisis. As a sign of my deep concern I have written a Pastoral Letter dealing with this painful situation. I will sign it on the solemnity of St Joseph, the Guardian of the Holy Family and Patron of the universal Church, and send it soon after. I ask all of you to read it for yourselves with an open heart and in a spirit of faith. My hope is that it will help the process of repentance, healing and renewal.

I welcome all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from England, Ireland, Denmark, Indonesia and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke God's abundant Blessings.

And now my greeting goes to the young. Dear young people, meeting you is always a cause of comfort and hope because your age is the springtime of life. May you always be faithful to God's love for you. I now address an affectionate thought to you, dear sick people. When one is suffering the whole reality within us and around us seems to darken but, in the depths of our heart, this must not extinguish the consoling light of faith. Christ with his Cross sustains us in trial. And you, dear newlyweds, whom I greet warmly, may you be grateful to God for the gift of the family. Always counting on his help, make your life a mission of faithful and generous love.




Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 24 March 2010 - Saint Albert the Great


Audiences 2005-2013 17020