Audiences 2005-2013 21040

Wednesday, 21 April 2010 - Apostolic Journey to Malta


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

As you know, last Saturday and Sunday I made an Apostolic Journey to Malta on which I would like to reflect briefly today. The occasion of my Pastoral Visit was the 1,950th anniversary of St Paul's shipwreck off the coast of the Maltese Archipelago and his stay in those islands for about three months. The event can be dated to about the year AD 60 and is recounted with a wealth of detail in the Book of the Acts of the Apostles (chapters
Ac 27-28). Like St Paul, I too experienced the warm welcome of the Maltese truly extraordinary and for this reason once again express my deep and cordial gratitude to the President of the Republic, to the Government and to the other State Authorities. I also extend my fraternal thanks to the Country's Bishops, together with all those who collaborated in organizing this festive meeting of the Successor of Peter and the Maltese People. The history of this People, almost 2,000 years old, is inseparable from the Catholic faith that characterizes its culture and traditions. It is said that there are at least 365 churches in Malta, "one for each day of the year", a visible sign of this profound faith!

It all began with that shipwreck: after drifting for 14 days, driven by the winds, the ship that was carrying the Apostle Paul and many others to Rome ran aground in the shallows off the Island of Malta. Thus, after the very cordial meeting with the President of the Republic in Valetta, the capital beautifully framed by the joyful greeting of so many boys and girls I went on pilgrimage straightaway to the so-called "Grotto of St Paul", near Rabat, for an intense moment of prayer. I was also able to greet there a large group of Maltese missionaries. To think of that small archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean and of how the seed of the Gospel got there, gives rise to a great sense of wonder at the mysterious designs of divine Providence: it comes naturally to thank the Lord and also St Paul who, in the midst of that violent storm, kept his trust and hope and communicated them to his companions on the voyage. From that shipwreck, or rather from Paul's subsequent stay in Malta, a fervent and solid Christian community came into being. After 2,000 years it is still faithful to the Gospel and strives to combine it with the complex questions of the contemporary age. This of course is not easy, nor must it be taken for granted, but the Maltese People know how to find in the Christian outlook responses to the new challenges. For example, one sign of this is the fact that they have kept intact their profound respect for unborn life and for the sacredness of marriage, opting to refrain from introducing abortion and divorce into the Country's legislation.

My journey therefore aimed to strengthen in the faith the Church in Malta, a very vivid reality, well structured and present on the territories of Malta and of Gozo. The whole of this community met in Floriana, in Granaries Square, in front of the Church of St Publius where I celebrated Holy Mass with a very fervent participation. It was a cause of joy and comfort to me to feel the special warmth of that people which gives the feeling of a large family, bound together by faith and a Christian approach to life. After the celebration I wanted to meet several of the victims of abuse by members of the clergy. I shared in their suffering and with emotion, I prayed with them, assuring them of the Church's action.

Although Malta gives the feeling of a large family, we should not think, because of its geographical location that it is a society "isolated" from the world. This is not how it is, as we see, for example, from the contacts that Malta entertains with various countries and from the fact that Maltese priests are present in many nations. Indeed, the families and parishes of Malta have been able to inculcate in many young people the sense of God and of the Church, so that many of them have responded generously to Jesus' call and have become priests. A large number of these priests have embraced the missionary commitment ad gentes in distant lands, heirs of the apostolic spirit that impelled St Paul to take the Gospel to places where it was not yet known. This is an aspect I willingly reasserted, namely, that "faith is strengthened when it is given to others" (Encyclical Redemptoris Missio, RMi 2). Malta developed from the offshoot of this faith and is now open to various economic, social and cultural realities to which it makes a valuable contribution.

It is clear that down the centuries Malta often had to defend itself and this can be seen from its fortifications. The strategic position of the small archipelago obviously attracted the attention of various political and military powers. Yet the deepest vocation of Malta is the Christian vocation, in other words the universal vocation to peace! The famous Maltese cross, which everyone associates with that nation, has frequently fluttered on flags amidst conflicts and contests but thanks be to God it never lost its authentic, perennial meaning. It is a sign of love and reconciliation, and this is the true vocation of peoples who welcome and embrace the Christian message!

A natural crossroads, Malta is located on a central migration route. Men and women, as St Paul once did, land on the coasts of Malta, sometimes driven by very harsh living conditions, violence and persecution. This naturally entails complex humanitarian, political and legal problems whose solution is not easy but must be sought with perseverance and tenacity, organizing interventions at the international level. It would be good to do this in all nations whose Constitutional Charters and cultures are rooted in Christian values.

The challenge of combining our contemporary complexity with the perennial validity of the Gospel is fascinating to all, but especially to the young. The new generations, in fact, are strongly aware of this and that is why I wanted a youth meeting in Malta, despite the brevity of my Visit. It was a moment of profound and intense exchanges, rendered even more beautiful by the environment in which it took place the Port of Valletta and by the enthusiasm of the young people. I could not but remind them of the youthful experience of St Paul: an extraordinary experience, unique yet able to speak to the new generations of every epoch, because of that radical transformation which followed his encounter with the Risen Christ. I therefore looked at the young people of Malta as potential heirs of the spiritual adventure of St Paul, called, like him, to discover the beauty of God's love, given to us in Jesus Christ; to embrace the mystery of his Cross; to win, despite trials and tribulations, not to fear the "storms" of life, nor shipwreck, because God's plan of love is greater even than storms and shipwreck.

Dear friends, this, to sum up, was the Message that I took to Malta. However, as I mentioned, I myself received so much from the Church there and from that people blessed by God which could effectively collaborate with his grace. Through the intercession of the Apostle Paul, of St George Preca, a priest and the first Maltese Saint, and of the Virgin Mary whom the faithful of Malta and Gozo venerate with such deep devotion, may Malta always advance in peace and in prosperity.
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I welcome the newly-ordained deacons from the Pontifical Scots College, together with their family members and friends. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, especially those from Finland, Norway, Sweden, Indonesia, the Philippines, Canada and the United States, I invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Lord.

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 28 April 2010 - Saint Leonard Murialdo and Saint Joseph Cottolengo

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We are moving towards the end of the Year for Priests and, on this last Wednesday of April, I would like to talk to you about two holy priests who were exemplary in the gift of themselves to God, in their witness of charity, lived in and for the Church, and to their needier brethren: St Leonard Murialdo and St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo. We are commemorating the 110th anniversary of the death of the former and the 40th anniversary of his canonization, and the celebrations for the second centenary of the priestly ordination of the latter are beginning.

Murialdo was born in Turin on 26 October 1828: it was the Turin of St John Bosco and likewise of St Joseph Cottolengo, a land made fruitful by so many examples of holiness among lay people and priests. Leonard was the eighth child of a simple family. As a boy, together with his brother, he entered the College of the Piarist Fathers of Savona for the elementary classes, middle school and secondary school. There he encountered teachers trained in a pious atmosphere, based on serious catechesis with regular devotional practices. Nevertheless in adolescence he went through a profound existential and spiritual crisis that led him to go home sooner than expected and to conclude his studies in Turin, where he enrolled in the two-year philosophy course. His "return to the light" occurred as he recounts after several months with the grace of a general confession in which he rediscovered God's immense mercy. Then, at the age of 17, he took the decision to become a priest, as a loving response to God who had grasped him with his love. Leonard Murialdo was ordained on 20 September 1851. Precisely in that period, as a catechist of the Oratorio of the Guardian Angel, he came to the attention of Don Bosco who appreciated his qualities and convinced him to accept the directorship of the new Oratorio di San Luigi, in Porta Nuova, which he held until in 1865. There Fr Leonard also came into contact with the grave problems of the poorest classes. He visited their homes, developing a deep social, educational and apostolic sensitivity which led him subsequently to undertake a wide range of projects for youth. Catecheses, school and recreational activities were the foundation of his educational method in the Oratorio. Don Bosco still wanted Leonard with him on the occasion of the Audience that Blessed Pius ix granted to him in 1858.

In 1873, Fr Leonard founded the Congregation of St Joseph whose aim from the start was the formation of youth, especially the poorest and most neglected. Turin at that time was marked by the vigorously flourishing works and charitable activities promoted by Murialdo until his death on 30 March 1900.

I would like to emphasize that the heart of Murialdo's spirituality was his conviction of the merciful love of God, a Father ever good, patient and generous, who reveals the grandeur and immensity of his mercy with forgiveness. St Leonard did not experience this reality at an intellectual level but rather in his life, through his vivid encounter with the Lord. He always considered himself a man whom God in his mercy had pardoned. He therefore experienced a joyful feeling of gratitude to the Lord, serene awareness of his own limitations, the ardent desire for penance, and the constant and generous commitment to conversion. He saw his whole life not only enlightened, guided and supported by this love but continuously immersed in God's infinite mercy. He wrote in his Spiritual Testament: "Your mercy surrounds me, O Lord... Just as God is always and everywhere, so there is always and everywhere love, mercy is always and everywhere". Remembering the crisis he had been through in his youth, he noted: "The good Lord wanted to make his kindness and generosity shine out in a completely special way. Not only did he readmit me to his friendship, but he called me to make a decision of predilection: he called me to the priesthood, even only a few months after I had returned to him". Thus St Leonard lived his priestly vocation as a gift of God's mercy, freely given, with a sense of gratitude, joy and love. He wrote further: "God has chosen me! He has called me, he has even forced upon me the honour, glory, and ineffable happiness of being his minister, of being "another Christ'.... And where was I when you sought me, my God? At the bottom of the abyss! I was there, and there God came to find me; there he made me hear his voice".

Underlining the greatness of the mission of the priest who must "continue the work of redemption, the great work of Jesus Christ, the work of the Saviour of the world" namely, the work of "saving souls", St Leonard always reminded himself and his brethren of the responsibility of a life consistent with the sacrament received. Love of God and love for God: this was the force that impelled him on his journey to holiness, the law of his priesthood, the deepest meaning of his apostolate among poor youths and the source of his prayer. St Leonard Murialdo abandoned himself with trust to Providence, generously doing the divine will, in touch with God and dedicating himself to poor young people. In this way he combined contemplative silence with the tireless zeal of action, fidelity to every day tasks with ingenious initiatives, fortitude in difficulty with peace of mind. This was his path of holiness in order to live the commandment of love for God and for his neighbour.

St Joseph Benedict Cottolengo, who lived 40 years before Murialdo the Founder of the work which he himself called the "Little House of Divine Providence" and which today is also called "Cottolengo" embodied this same spirit of charity. Next Sunday, during my Pastoral Visit to Turin, I shall have the opportunity to venerate the remains of this Saint and to meet the residents of the "Little House".

Joseph Benedict Cottolengo was born in Bra, a small town in the Province of Cuneo, on 3 May 1786. The eldest of 12, six of whom died in infancy, he showed great sensitivity to the poor from childhood. He embraced the way of the priesthood, setting an example to two of his brothers. The years of his youth coincided with the Napoleonic period and the consequent hardships in both the religious and social contexts. Cottolengo became a good priest much sought after by penitents and, in the Turin of that time, a preacher of spiritual exercises and conferences for university students who always met with noteworthy success. At the age of 32, he was appointed canon of the Santissima Trinità, a congregation of priests whose task was to officiate in the Corpus Domini Church and to ensure the decorum of the city's religious ceremonies, but he felt uneasy in this situation. God was preparing him for a special mission and, precisely with an unexpected and decisive encounter, made him realize what was to be his future destiny in the exercise of the ministry.

The Lord always sets signs on our path to guide us according to his will to our own true good. This also happened to Cottolengo, dramatically, on Sunday morning, 2 September 1827. The diligence from Milan arrived in Turin, more crowded than ever. Crammed into it was a whole French family. The mother, with five children, was at an advanced stage of pregnancy and had a high temperature. After traipsing to various hospitals, this family found lodgings in a public dormitory but the woman's situation was serious and some people went in search of a priest. By a mysterious design they came across Cottolengo and it was precisely he who, heavy hearted, accompanied this young mother to her death, amid the distress of the entire family. Having carried out this painful task, with deep anguish he went to the Blessed Sacrament and knelt in prayer: "My God, why? Why did you want me to be a witness? What do you want of me? Something must be done!". He got to his feet and had all the bells rung and the candles lit and, gathering in the church those who were curious, told them: "The grace has been granted! The grace has been granted!". From that time Cottolengo was transformed: all his skills, especially his financial and organizational ability, were used to give life to projects in support of the neediest.

In his undertaking he was able to involve dozens and dozens of collaborators and volunteers. Moving towards the outskirts of Turin to expand his work, he created a sort of village, in which he assigned a meaningful name to every building he managed to build: "House of Faith", "House of Hope", "House of Charity". He adopted a "familystyle", establishing true and proper communities of people with volunteers, men and women religious and lay people, who joined forces in order to face and overcome the difficulties that arose. Everyone in that Little House of Divine Providence had a precise task: work, prayer, service, teaching or administration. The healthy and the sick shared the same daily burden. With time religious life could be specifically planned in accordance with particular needs and requirements. Cottolengo even thought of setting up his own seminary to provide specific formation for the priests of his Work. He was always ready to follow and serve Divine Providence and never questioned it. He would say: "I am a good for nothing and I don't even know what to make of myself. But Divine Providence certainly knows what it wants. It is only up to me to support it. Let us go ahead in Domino". To his poor and the neediest, he would always call himself "the labourer of Divine Providence".

He also chose to found beside the small citadels five monasteries of contemplative sisters and one of hermits, and considered them among his most important achievements. They were a sort of "heart" which was to beat for the entire Work. He died on 30 April 1842, with these words on his lips: "Misericordia, Domine; Misericordia, Domine. Good and Holy Providence... Blessed Virgin, it is now up to you". The whole of his life, as a newspaper of the time said, was "an intense day of love".

Dear friends, these two holy priests, a few of whose characteristics I have described, carried out their ministry with the total gift of their lives to the poorest, the neediest and the lowliest, always finding the deep roots, the inexhaustible source for their action in their relationship with God. They drew from his love in the profound conviction that it is impossible to exercise charity without living in Christ and in the Church. May their intercession and example continue to illumine the ministry of the many priests who spend themselves generously for God and for the flock entrusted to them, and help each one give himself joyfully and generously to God and neighbour.
* * *

I offer a most cordial welcome to the ecumenical delegations from the Lutheran Church of Norway and from the Church of England. My warm greeting also goes to the group of Jewish leaders visiting the Vatican with the Pave the Way Foundation. Upon all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially those from England, Scotland, Norway, Indonesia and the United States of America I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 5 May 2010 - Munus sanctificandi

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last Sunday, on my Pastoral Visit to Turin, I had the joy of pausing in prayer before the Holy Shroud, joining the more than two million pilgrims who have been able to contemplate it during the solemn Exposition of these days. That sacred Cloth can nourish and foster faith and reinvigorate Christian devotion because it is an incentive to go to the Face of Christ, to the Body of the Crucified and Risen Christ, to contemplate the Paschal Mystery, the heart of the Christian Message. We, dear Brothers and Sisters, are living members of the Body of the Risen Christ, alive and active in history (cf.
Rm 12,5), each one in accordance with the role, that is, the task the Lord has wished to entrust to each one of us. Today, in this Catechesis, I would like to return to the specific tasks of priests, which tradition claims are essentially three: teaching, sanctifying and governing. In one of our previous Catecheses I spoke on the first of these three duties: teaching, the proclamation of the truth, the proclamation of God revealed in Christ or, in other words the prophetic task of putting the person in touch with the truth, of helping him to know the essential of his life, of reality itself.

Today I would like to reflect with you briefly on the priest's second duty, that of sanctifying people, above all through the sacraments and the worship of the Church. Here we must ask ourselves first of all: what does the word "Holy" mean? The answer is: "Holy" is God's specific quality of being, namely, absolute truth, goodness, love, beauty pure light. Thus sanctifying a person means putting him or her in touch with God, with this being light, truth, pure love. It is obvious that such contact transforms the person. The ancients had this firm conviction: no one can see God without dying instantly. The power of truth and light is too great! If the human being touches this absolute current, he cannot survive. On the other hand there is also the conviction: without a minimal contact with God man cannot live. Truth, goodness and love are fundamental conditions of his being. The question is: how can man find that contact with God, which is fundamental, without dying overpowered by the greatness of his divine being? The Church's faith tells us that God himself creates this contact that gradually transforms us into true images of God.

Thus we have once again arrived at the priest's task of "sanctifying". No man on his own, relying on his own power, can put another in touch with God. An essential part of the priest's grace is the gift, the task of creating this contact. This is achieved in the proclamation of God's word in which his light comes to meet us. It is achieved in a particularly concentrated manner in the Sacraments. Immersion in the Paschal Mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ takes place in Baptism, is reinforced in Confirmation and Reconciliation and is nourished by the Eucharist, a sacrament that builds the Church as the People of God, Body of Christ, Temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis ). Thus it is Christ himself who makes us holy, that is, who draws us into God's sphere. However, as an act of his infinite mercy, he calls some "to be" with him (cf. Mc 3,14) and to become, through the Sacrament of Orders, despite their human poverty, sharers in his own priesthood, ministers of this sanctification, stewards of his mysteries, "bridges" to the encounter with him and of his mediation between God and man and between man and God (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5).

In recent decades there have been tendencies that aim to give precedence, in the priest's identity and mission, to the dimension of proclamation, detaching it from that of sanctification; it is often said that it would be necessary to go beyond a merely sacramental pastoral ministry. Yet, is it possible to exercise the priestly ministry authentically by "going beyond" the sacramental ministry? What exactly does it mean for priests to evangelize, in what does the professed "primacy of proclamation" consist? As the Gospels report, Jesus says that the proclamation of the Kingdom of God is the goal of his mission; this proclamation, however, is not only a "discourse" but at the same time includes his action; the signs and miracles that Jesus works show that the Kingdom comes as a present reality and in the end coincides with his very Person, with his gift of himself, as we heard today in the Gospel Reading. And the same applies for the ordained ministry: he, the priest, represents Christ, the One sent by the Father, he continues his mission, through the "word" and the "sacrament", in this totality of body and soul, of sign and word. Referring to priests in a letter to Bishop Honoratus of Thiabe, St Augustine says: "Let those, therefore, who are servants of Christ, his ministers in word and sacrament, do what he has commanded or permitted" (Letter 228, 2). It is necessary to reflect on whether, in some cases, having underestimated the faithful exercise of the munus sanctificandi might not have represented a weakening of faith itself in the salvific efficacy of the sacraments, and ultimately in the actual action of Christ and of his Spirit, through the Church, in the world.

Who, therefore, saves the world and man? The only answer we can give is: Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, Crucified and Risen. And where is the Mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ that brings about salvation? In Christ's action through the Church, and in particular in the sacrament of the Eucharist, which makes the redemptive sacrificial offering of the Son of God present in the sacrament of Reconciliation in which from the death of sin one returns to new life, and in every other sacramental act of sanctification (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5). It is therefore important to encourage an appropriate catechesis to help the faithful understand the value of the sacraments; but it is likewise necessary, after the example of the Holy Curé d'Ars, to be available, generous and attentive in giving the brothers and sisters the treasures of grace that God has placed in our hands, and of which we are not the "masters" but rather caretakers and stewards. Especially in this time of ours, in which, on the one hand it seems that faith is weakening, and, on the other, a profound need and a widespread quest for spirituality are emerging, it is essential that every priest remember that in his mission the missionary proclamation and worship and the sacraments are never separate and encourage a healthy sacramental ministry, to form the People of God and to help it experience to the full the Liturgy, the Church's worship and the sacraments as freely given gifts of God, free and effective gestures of his saving action.

As I recalled in the Holy Chrism Mass this year: "At the centre of the Church's worship is the notion of "sacrament'. This means that it is not primarily we who act, but God comes first to meet us through his action, he looks upon us and he leads us to himself.... God touches us through material things... that he takes up into his service, making them instruments of the encounter between us and himself" (Chrism Mass, 1 April 2010). The truth according to which in the Sacrament "it is not primarily we who act" (ibid.), also concerns and must concern priestly awareness: each priest knows well that he is an instrument necessary to God's saving action but also that he is always only an instrument. This awareness must make priests humble and generous in the administration of the Sacraments, in respect of the canonical norms, but also in the deep conviction that their mission is to ensure that all people, united to Christ, may offer themselves to God as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to him (cf. Rm 12,1). St John Mary Vianney, once again, is exemplary with regard to the munus sanctificandi and the correct interpretation of the sacramental ministry; one day, to a man who was saying that he had no faith and wished to ask him about it, the parish priest answered: "Oh! My friend, you are not really speaking to the right person, I do not know how to reason... but it you need some comfort, sit there... (and he pointed to the ever present stool in the confessional) and believe me, many others have sat there before you and have had nothing to regret" (cf. Monnin, A., Il Curato d'Ars, Vita di Gian-Battista-Maria Vianney, Vol. I, Turin 1870, pp. 163-164).

Dear priests, experience the Liturgy and worship with joy and love: it is an action which the Risen One carries out with the power of the Holy Spirit in us, with us and for us. I would like to renew the invitation made recently to "return to the confessional as a place in which to celebrate the Sacrament of Reconciliation, but also as a place in which "to dwell' more often, so that the faithful may find compassion, advice and comfort, feel that they are loved and understood by God and experience the presence of Divine Mercy beside the Real Presence in the Eucharist" (Address to participants in the course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary, 11 March 2010). And I would also like to ask each priest to celebrate and to live intensely the Eucharist which is at the heart of the duty of sanctifying; it is Jesus who wants to be with us, to live in us, to give himself to us, to show us God's infinite mercy and tenderness; it is the one sacrifice of the love of Christ who makes himself present, who makes himself real among us and arrives at the throne of Grace, at God's presence... embraces humanity... and unites us with him (cf. Discourse to the Parish Priests of the Diocese of Rome, 18 February 2010). And the priest is called to be a minister of this great Mystery, in the Sacrament and in life. If "the great ecclesial tradition has rightly separated sacramental efficacy from the concrete existential situation of the individual priest and so the legitimate expectations of the faithful are appropriately safeguarded", this correct doctrinal explanation takes nothing "from the necessary, indeed indispensable aspiration to moral perfection that must dwell in every authentically priestly heart": there is also an example of faith and the testimony of holiness, that the People of God rightly expect from its Pastors (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, 16 March 2009). And it is in the celebration of the Holy Mysteries that the priest finds the root of his holiness (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 12-13).

Dear Friends, may you be aware of the great gift that priests are for the Church and for the world; through their ministry the Lord continues to save men, to make himself present, to sanctify. May you be able to thank God and above all be close to your priests with prayer and support, especially in difficulty, so that there may be more and more Pastors in accordance with the Heart of God. Many thanks.

To Special Groups

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I offer a cordial welcome to the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today's Audience. My warm greetings go to the teachers and students of the Institute of St Joseph in Copenhagen. Upon all of you, including those from England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia and the United States of America, I invoke Almighty God's Blessings of joy and peace!

Lastly I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear young people, especially you students from Palermo, with your priest you witness to faith in Jesus Christ who calls you to build his Church together with your Pastors, each in accordance with his own responsibility. May you respond generously to his invitation. Dear sick people, you too are here today to make an act of faith and of ecclesial communion. If the daily burden of your sufferings is offered to Jesus Christ Crucified, it gives you the possibility to cooperate in your own and the world's salvation. and also you, dear newlyweds, with your union you are called to be an expression of love that binds Christ to the Church. May you always be aware of the lofty mission to which you are bound by the Sacrament you have received.
* * *

I send cordial greetings to all who will be taking part in the Congress on the Family in Jönköping, Sweden, later this month. Your message to the world is truly a message of joy, because God’s gift to us of marriage and family life enables us to experience something of the infinite love that unites the three divine persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, are made for love – indeed at the core of our being, we long to love and to be loved in return. Only God’s love can fully satisfy our deepest needs, and yet through the love of husband and wife, the love of parents and children, the love of siblings for one another, we are offered a foretaste of the boundless love that awaits us in the life to come. Marriage is truly an instrument of salvation, not only for married people but for the whole of society. Like any truly worthwhile goal, it places demands upon us, it challenges us, it calls us to be prepared to sacrifice our own interests for the good of the other. It requires us to exercise tolerance and to offer forgiveness. It invites us to nurture and protect the gift of new life. Those of us fortunate enough to be born into a stable family discover there the first and most fundamental school for virtuous living and the qualities of good citizenship. I encourage all of you in your efforts to promote a proper understanding and appreciation of the inestimable good that marriage and family life offer to human society. May God bless all of you.

Appeal to participants in the UN Conference on nuclear weapons

On 3 May in New York, work began at the Eighth Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Progress toward a collaborative and secure nuclear disarmament is closely connected with the full and rapid fulfilment of the relevant international commitments. Peace, in fact, rests on trust and on respect for assumed obligations, not only on the balance of power. In this spirit, I encourage the initiatives that pursue a progressive disarmament and the creation of nuclear-free zones, with a view to their complete elimination from the planet. Finally, I appeal to all the participants in the meeting in New York to break away from the trends of the past and to patiently construct political and economic grounds for peace, in order to support integral human development and the authentic hopes of all Peoples.

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 19 May 2010 - Apostolic Journey to Portugal

Audiences 2005-2013 21040