Speeches 2005-13 13
ON OCCASION OF THE 75th ANNIVERSARY OF ITS FOUNDATION
Friday, 3 March 2006
Live One-O-Five broadcast at Vatican Radio
"Card. Karol Wojtyla" Studium
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I warmly greet all Vatican Radio's listeners and wish them the peace and joy of the Lord. It is a great joy for me to be here.
We know that 75 years ago Pope Pius XI inaugurated Vatican Radio and thus gave a new voice to the Holy See, indeed, to the Church and to the Lord; a voice through which the Lord's mandate could truly be carried out: "Proclaim the Gospel to all creatures to the ends of the earth".
In the meantime, I see that technology has vastly improved in the past 75 years. Today, the voice of Vatican Radio can reach every part of the world and a great many homes, and - as has been emphasized - there is above all a beautiful reciprocity, not only in speaking but also in welcoming the answers, in a true dialogue so as to understand, respond and build up the family of God.
This seems to me to be the meaning of a means of communication such as this: to help build this great family that knows no frontiers, in which all are brothers and sisters in the multiplicity of cultures and languages and thus constitute a peace-making force.
I would like to express to all who are listening to me at this moment the hope that they will be able to feel truly involved in this great dialogue of truth.
In the world of the media, as we know, opposing voices are not absent. The existence of this voice that truly wants to put itself at the service of the truth, of Christ and thus of peace and reconciliation in the world, is very important.
I hope that those who work here can be effective instruments of this great work of the Lord's peace. I thank you for all that you do day after day, perhaps also night after night.
I hope that the listeners who are themselves involved in this great dialogue may also become witnesses of the truth and a force for peace in the world.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I willingly visit you at your fine headquarters in the Palazzo Pio, which the Servant of God Paul VI wished to make available to Vatican Radio. I offer you all a cordial greeting and I thank you for your welcome.
I greet in particular the Superior General of the Society of Jesus, Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, and I thank him for the service which, since the origins of Vatican Radio, the Jesuits have rendered to the Holy See, faithful to the Ignation charism of total dedication to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff.
I greet Cardinal Roberto Tucci and Fr Antonio Stefanizzi as well as Fr Pasquale Borgomeo - whom prior engagements have prevented from being here -, who for many years were General Directors of Vatican Radio.
I greet Fr Federico Lombardi, the current General Director. I am grateful to him for his words on behalf of you all. I am also grateful to Mr Candi, who has expressed the sentiments of the lay employees. My thoughts go at this time to those employees who have been detained at the Radio's other offices - the Broadcasting Centre at Santa Maria di Galeria, Palazzina Leone XIII and Palazzina Marconi -, who are taking part in this meeting by audio-visual link-up.
I greet your retired colleagues, the many collaborators, relatives and friends, and everyone who would have liked to have been present but have been prevented by the lack of space. I also extend my greeting to your listeners scattered throughout the world.
The evocative images of 75 years ago present the first Vatican Radio Station to us which today might seem modest; but Guglielmo Marconi knew that the path opened by science and technology would have a great influence on human life.
My venerable Predecessor Pius XI was also well aware of the importance that the new means of communication with which the Church was equipping herself would have for the dissemination of the Papal Magisterium throughout the world.
With original solemnity, he addressed his first Radio Message on 12 February 1931, which inaugurated the history of your Broadcasting Station, to "all peoples and to every creature".
In the years that followed, the Servant of God Pius XII, with his historic Radio Messages during the Second World War, enabled all the peoples to hear his words of comfort, advice and passionate exhortations to hope and for peace.
Furthermore, when Communism extended its domination over various nations in Central and Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world, Vatican Radio increased its programmes and the languages of its broadcasts, to ensure that the witness of closeness and solidarity offered by the Pope and the universal Church would reach the Christian Communities oppressed by totalitarian regimes.
The Second Vatican Council spread an even greater awareness of the importance that the means of communication were to have in the dissemination of the Gospel message in our time, and your Radio Broadcasting Station with effective and modern technical means began to develop ever fuller and more numerous programmes.
Today, at last, thanks to the most advanced technologies - satellite and internet in particular - you can produce programmes in various languages that are relayed and transmitted by numerous broadcasting stations on every continent, thus reaching a wider range of listeners.
Dear friends, we cannot but thank the Lord for all this, and at the same time pray to him to continue to assist you in your work. Call on him with the words written on the main façade of your offices: "Adsis Christe, eorumque aspira laboribus, qui pro tuo nomine certant - Help us, O Christ, and inspire the efforts of those who fight for your Name". Yes! Yours is the "good fight of the faith", as the Apostle Paul said (cf. 1Tm 6,12), in order to spread Christ's Gospel.
It consists, as we read in your Statutes, in "proclaiming the Christian message with freedom, fidelity and effectiveness, and in linking the centre of Catholicism with the various countries of the world: spreading the voice and teachings of the Roman Pontiff; providing information on the activities of the Holy See; reporting on Catholic life in the world; directing people to evaluate current problems in the light of the Magisterium of the Church and with constant attention to the signs of the times" (n. 1.3).
This mission is ever up to date, even if the circumstances and ways of carrying it out change with the times. Indeed, Vatican Radio today is no longer a single voice that sounds from a single point as it was with Marconi's first broadcasting station.
Rather, it is a choir of voices that rings out in more than 40 languages and can keep up a dialogue with different cultures and religions; a choir of voices that travels through the air via electromagnetic waves and is broadcast everywhere by means of the increasingly dense telematic network that spans the globe.
Continue, dear friends, to work in the great areopagus of modern communications, treasuring the extraordinary experience you lived during the great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and especially on the occasion of the death of beloved Pope John Paul II, an event that showed humanity's eagerness to be acquainted with the reality of the Church.
Do not forget, however, that in order to carry out the mission entrusted to you, a proper technical and professional training is of course necessary; above all, though, you must ceaselessly cultivate within you a spirit of prayer and faithful adherence to the teachings of Christ and his Church. May the Virgin Mary, Star of the new evangelization, help and protect you always!
Dear brothers and sisters, as I renew the expression of my gratitude, I gladly impart to everyone present here my Blessing, which I extend to your loved ones and to all Vatican Radio listeners.
Dear Friends of the Christian Union of Business Executives,
I am pleased to welcome you and to address my cordial greeting to each one of you. A special thought goes to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli who has interpreted your common sentiments. I thank him for his address, and I am also grateful to the President of the UCID for courteously introducing our meeting and presenting the ideals and style of your commitment, as individuals and as an association.
I am particularly impressed by your determination to aspire to an ethic that goes beyond mere professional deontology - even if, in the current context this would be quite something. It made me think of the relationship between justice and charity, to which I dedicated a specific reflection in the second part of the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est (nn. 26-29).
Christians are called to seek justice always, but possess an inner impulse to love that goes beyond justice itself. The journey of lay Christians, from the mid-19th century to today, has brought them to the awareness that charitable acts must not replace the commitment to social justice.
The Church's social doctrine and especially the action of so many groups of Christian inspiration, such as yours, demonstrate the great progress the Ecclesial Community has made in this area.
In recent times, also thanks to the Magisterium and to the witness of the Roman Pontiffs, and in particular, that of beloved Pope John Paul II, it has become clearer to all of us that justice and charity are the two inseparable aspects of the single social commitment of Christians.
It is incumbent on lay faithful in particular to work for a just order in society, taking part in public life in the first person, cooperating with other citizens and fulfilling their own responsibility (cf. Deus Caritas Est ).
In doing just this, they are motivated by "social charity" which makes them attentive to people as individuals, to situations of greater difficulty and loneliness, and to needs that are not only material (cf. ibid., n. 28b).
Thanks to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, two years ago the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was published. It is an especially useful instrument of formation for all who wish to be guided by the Gospel in their work and professional activity.
I am sure that you too have made it the object of attentive examination, and I hope that for each one of you and for the local branches of the UCID it will become a constant reference point in examining issues, working out projects and seeking solutions for the complex problems of the world of work and of the economy.
Indeed, it is precisely in this sphere that you carry out an indispensable part of your mission as lay Christians, and consequently, part of the process of your sanctification.
I was also interested to see the "Charter of values" of the young members of the UCID and I congratulate you on the positive spirit and confidence in the human person that enlivens it. To each "I believe" it adds an "I commit myself", thereby focusing on the coherence between strong conviction and the consequent active effort.
In particular, I appreciated the resolution to value every person for what he or she is and can give according to one's talents, avoiding every form of exploitation; I also appreciated the recognition of the importance of the family and of personal responsibility.
Unfortunately, partly because of current economic difficulties, these values often run the risk of not being followed by those business persons who lack a sound moral inspiration. Therefore, the contribution of those who draw from their Christian formation is indispensable, and thus should not be taken for granted but always nourished and renewed.
Dear friends, in a few days' time, we will be celebrating the solemnity of St Joseph, Patron of Workers. There is no doubt that throughout its history your Association has always had a veneration for St Joseph.
For my part I, who bear his name, am pleased today to be able to point him out to you not only as a heavenly Protector and Intercessor for every worthwhile initiative, but first and foremost as one to whom you can confide your prayer and your ordinary commitment, which are surely marked both by satisfactions and disappointments in your daily life and, I would say, tenacious search for God's justice in human affairs.
St Joseph himself will help you put into practice Jesus' demanding exhortation: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness" (cf. Mt 6,33).
May the Virgin Mary also always help you, together with the great witnesses of social charity who have spread the Gospel of charity with their teaching and action.
Lastly, may you be accompanied by the Apostolic Blessing, which I cordially impart to you who are present here and gladly extend to all the members and to your relatives.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet with affection all of you who have taken part in the International Conference organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the Pontifical Urban University on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the conciliar Decree Ad Gentes.
I greet first of all Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and thank him for his words on your behalf. I greet the Bishops and priests present and all those who have taken part in this initiative, which is as timely as ever since it responds to the need to continue to deepen knowledge of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in order to bring out the impelling power that this Council session impressed upon the life and mission of the Church.
Indeed, the approval on 7 December 1965 of the Decree Ad Gentes gave a new impetus to the Church's mission. The theological foundations of missionary commitment were more clearly spelled out, as well as its value and timeliness in the face of the changes in the world and the challenges of modern life to the preaching of the Gospel (cf. n. 1).
The Church has acquired an ever clearer awareness of her innate missionary vocation, recognizing it as a constitutive element of her very nature.
Out of obedience to the command of Christ, who sent his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations (cf. Mt 28,18-20), the Christian community in our time too feels sent to the men and women of the third millennium in order to acquaint them with the truth of the Gospel message and thereby give them access to the path of salvation.
And this, as I said, is not an option but the vocation proper to the People of God, a duty incumbent upon it by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ himself (cf. Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 5).
Actually, the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel are the first service that Christians can render to every person and to the entire human race, called as they are to communicate to all God's love, which was fully manifested in Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of the world.
The publication of the conciliar Decree Ad Gentes, on which you have opportunely reflected, has made it possible to highlight better the original root of the Church's mission, that is, the Trinitarian life of God from which comes the movement of love that the Divine Persons pour out upon humanity. It all flows from the Heart of the heavenly Father, who so loved the world that he gave his Only-begotten Son so that those who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life (cf. Jn 3,16).
With the mystery of the Incarnation, the Only-begotten Son was made the authentic and supreme Mediator between the Father and men and women. In the One who died and rose, the Father's provident tenderness reaches every person in forms and ways he alone knows.
It is the Church's task to communicate this divine love ceaselessly through the vivifying action of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is the Spirit who transforms the life of believers, freeing them from the bondage of sin and death and making them capable of witnessing to the merciful love of God, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son (cf. Deus Caritas Est ).
From the outset, the Christian People has been clearly aware of the importance of sharing the riches of this love with those who do not yet know Christ through constant missionary activity.
The need to reaffirm this commitment has been felt even more forcefully in recent years, because in the modern epoch, as my beloved Predecessor John Paul II observed, the missio ad gentes has sometimes seemed to be slowing down because of difficulties due to changes in humanity's anthropological, cultural, social and religious contexts.
Today, the Church is called to embrace new challenges and be ready to enter into dialogue with different cultures and religions, seeking with every person of good will to build peaceful coexistence between peoples.
Thus, the area of the missio ad gentes appears to have been considerably extended and cannot be defined solely on the basis of geographical or juridical considerations; indeed, the missionary activity of the People of God is not only intended for non-Christian peoples and distant lands, but above all for social and cultural contexts and hearts.
Carrying out this mandate faithfully demands patience and foresight, courage and humility, listening to God and alert discernment of the "signs of the times". The conciliar Decree Ad Gentes reveals the Church's awareness that, in order that "what was accomplished [by the Lord] for the salvation of all men may, in the course of time, achieve its universal effect" (n. 3), it is necessary to take the same way as Christ, a way that leads to death on the cross.
Indeed, evangelizing action "must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious..." (ibid., n. 5). Yes! The Church is called to serve the humanity of our time by trusting in Jesus alone, by allowing herself to be illumined by his Word and imitating him in the generous gift of herself to his brethren. She is an instrument in his hands and therefore does what she can, conscious that the One who does everything is the Lord.
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for the reflection you have developed in these days, deepening your knowledge of the content and style of missionary activity in our epoch and reflecting in particular on shedding light on the role of theology, which is also a systematic exposition of various aspects of the Church's mission.
With the contribution of all Christians, the proclamation of the Gospel will undoubtedly be ever more comprehensible and effective. May Mary, Star of Evangelization, help and sustain those in many regions of the world who work on the front lines of the Mission.
In this regard, how could one forget those who, also recently, have given their life for the Gospel? May their sacrifice obtain a renewed springtime, rich in apostolic fruit for evangelization. Let us pray for this, entrusting to the Lord all who in various ways work in the great vineyard of the Lord.
With these sentiments, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you who are present here, and I cordially extend it to your loved ones and to the Ecclesial Communities to which you belong.
Redemptoris Mater Chapel Saturday, 11 March 2006
At the end of these days of grace it is right and beautiful for the Pope to say: "Thank you! Thank you first and foremost to the Lord, who has granted us this physical and spiritual break, and also thank you to you, Your Eminence, for guiding us in St Mark's footsteps on the road to Jerusalem with Jesus.
At the outset, you immediately made us understand the profound ecclesial nature of this "sacramentum exercitii". You made us realize that it was not a question of an individual or private retreat. With the "sacramentum exercitii" we express our solidarity with the Church in the common sacramental "exercitum", and thus respond to our responsibility as Pastors.
We cannot bring to the world the Good News which is Christ himself in person if we ourselves are not deeply united with Christ, if we do not know him profoundly, personally, if we do not live on his Words.
Together with the ecclesiastical and ecclesial nature of these Exercises, you have also shown us their Christological dimension. You have made us attentive to the inner Teacher; you have helped us to listen to the Teacher who speaks with us and within us; you have helped us to respond to and speak with the Lord, listening to his words. You have led us on this "catechumenal" journey which is the Gospel according to Mark, on a common pilgrimage together with the disciples bound for Jerusalem.
You have also restored to us the certainty that in our Barque, despite all the storms of history, is Christ. You have taught us to see anew on the suffering face of Christ, on the face crowned with thorns, the glory of the Risen One.
We are grateful to you for this, Your Eminence, and we can journey on towards Easter, together with Christ and the disciples, with new strength and new joy.
In all these days, my gaze has necessarily focused on this depiction of the Annunciation of Mary. What fascinated me is this: the Archangel Gabriel holds a scroll in his hand, which I believe is the symbol of Scripture, of the Word of God. And Mary is kneeling within the scroll; that is, she lives her whole life in the Word of God. It is as though she were steeped in the Word. Thus, all her thoughts, her will and her actions are imbued with and formed by the Word.
Since she herself dwells in the Word, she can also become the new "Dwelling Place" of the Word in the world.
Silently, with these points alone, Your Eminence, you have guided us on a Marian path. This Marian route calls us to be integrated into the Word of God, to place our lives within the Word of God and thereby let our being be imbued with this Word, so that we may be witnesses in our time of the living Word, of Christ himself.
Thus, with new courage and new joy, we journey on towards Easter, towards the celebration of the Mystery of Christ that is always more than a celebration or rite: it is Presence and Truth. And let us pray the Lord to help us return to him and thus also to be guides and pastors of the flock entrusted to our care.
Thank you, Your Eminence!
Thank you, dear Confreres!
Paul VI Audience Hall Saturday, 11 March 2006
Dear Young University Students,
At the end of the Prayer of the Holy Rosary, with great joy I address my cordial greetings to you all, gathered here in the Vatican and at the same time in Madrid, Nairobi, Owerri, Abidjan, Dublin, Salamanca, Munich, Fribourg, St Petersburg and Sofia, as well as in Antananarivo and Bonn. With you I greet and thank the venerable Pastors who are with you and, linked up with us, are guiding your prayer. This is a beautiful sign of the Catholic Church's communion.
I likewise thank the Choir and the Orchestra as well as the various bodies that have organized this event: Vatican Television Centre, Vatican Radio, Telespace, the Foreign and University Ministries and the Province and Municipality of Rome.
This Marian Vigil, dear to Pope John Paul II, builds bridges of brotherhood between the young university students of Europe and this evening extends them to the interior of the great Continent of Africa, so that communion will grow among the new generations and the civilization of love will be spread.
I therefore desire to reach out to the friends who are linked up with us in Africa with a special affectionate embrace that I would like to extend to all the beloved African Peoples.
Dear young university students who have gathered in Madrid and Salamanca, may the Virgin Mary help you to witness to God's love among your friends and companions.
My dear friends gathered in Nairobi, Owerri and Dublin, may Mary, Seat of Wisdom, teach you always to integrate truth and love in your studies and in your lives!
Dear young friends in Munich and Bonn, draw divine Love from Christ's Heart and express it in concrete acts of service to your brothers and sisters. May the Virgin Mary accompany you and help you in this!
Dear students of Fribourg and Abidjan, under the motherly guidance of Mary, always follow Jesus on the path of love, making a generous gift of your lives.
Dear friends in St Petersburg, may the Holy Mother of God accompany you on your journey of formation, so that you can embark on your professional activity motivated by Christian love.
Dear young people of Sofia, God is love: may this fundamental truth of the Christian faith always illumine your studies and your whole life.
Dear friends, in a little while I will be presenting my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est to some of your representatives. Thus, symbolically, I intend to offer it to all the students of Europe and of Africa, with the hope that the fundamental truth of the Christian faith - God is love - may light the way for each one of you and shine out through your witness to your student companions.
This truth about the love of God, the beginning, meaning and end of the universe and of history, was revealed by Jesus Christ with his words and with his life, culminating in his death and Resurrection at Easter. It is at the root of Christian wisdom which, like yeast, can cause every human culture to ferment, so that it may express the best of itself and may cooperate in the development of a more just and peaceful world.
Dear university students, in presenting the Encyclical to you, I also recommend my Message for the 21st World Youth Day that we will be celebrating on Palm Sunday. I dedicated this Message to the importance of the Word of God, and therefore took the title from the verse of Psalm 119 which says: "Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path" (v. 105).
In preparation for Palm Sunday, I invite you to the traditional meeting for all young people that will take place on Thursday afternoon, 6 April, in St Peter's Square. Let us take up the pilgrim Cross that comes from Cologne and remember with a grateful heart, a year after his death, my great Predecessor, John Paul II.
May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, obtain for you this Lent a profound spiritual renewal, so that you can always live and offer your studies for the glory of God. To this end I assure you that I will continue to remember you in my prayers, as I cordially bless all of you and your relatives.
Distinguished members of the American Jewish Committee,
I gladly welcome you to the Vatican, and I trust that this meeting will further encourage your efforts to increase friendship between the Jewish people and the Catholic Church.
The recent celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Declaration of the Second Vatican Council Nostra Aetate has increased our shared desire to know each other better and to develop a dialogue characterised by mutual respect and love. Indeed, Jews and Christians have a rich common patrimony. In many ways this distinguishes our relationship as unique among the religions of the world. The Church can never forget that chosen people with whom God entered into a holy covenant (cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 4).
Judaism, Christianity and Islam believe in the one God, Creator of heaven and earth. It follows, therefore, that all three monotheistic religions are called to cooperate with one another for the common good of humanity, serving the cause of justice and peace in the world. This is especially important today when particular attention must be given to teaching respect for God, for religions and their symbols, and for holy sites and places of worship. Religious leaders have a responsibility to work for reconciliation through genuine dialogue and acts of human solidarity.
Dear friends, I pray that your visit today may confirm you in your endeavours to build bridges of understanding across all barriers. Upon all of you I invoke the divine gifts of strength and comfort.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Vatican today on the occasion of the annual Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I wish first to thank Archbishop Foley, President of the Council, for his kind words of introduction, and indeed to thank all of you for your commitment to the important apostolate of social communications, both as a direct form of evangelization and as a contribution to the promotion of all that is good and true for every human society.
In my first Message for World Communications Day I chose to reflect on the media as a network which facilitates communication, communion and cooperation. I did so recalling that the Decree of the Second Vatican Council, Inter Mirifica, had already recognized the enormous power of the media to inform the minds of individuals and to shape their thinking. Forty years later we realize, more than ever, the pressing need to harness that power for the benefit of all humanity.
Saint Paul reminds us that through Christ we are no longer strangers and aliens but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, growing into a holy temple, a dwelling place for God (cf. Ep 2,19-22). This sublime portrayal of a life of communion engages all aspects of our lives as Christians and for you, in a particular way, points to the challenge to encourage the social communications and entertainment industries to be protagonists of truth and promoters of the peace that ensues from lives lived in accordance with that liberating truth. As you well know, such a commitment demands principled courage and resolve, on the part of those who own and work within the hugely influential media industry, to ensure that promotion of the common good is never sacrificed to a self-serving quest for profit or an ideological agenda with little public accountability. In reflecting on such concerns I am confident that your study of my beloved Predecessor’s Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development, will be of great assistance.
I also wished in my message this year to draw particular attention to the urgent need to uphold and support marriage and family life, the foundation of every culture and society. In cooperation with parents, the social communications and entertainment industries can assist in the difficult but sublimely satisfying vocation of bringing up children, through presenting edifying models of human life and love. How disheartening and destructive it is to us all when the opposite occurs! Do not our hearts cry out, most especially, when our young people are subjected to debased or false expressions of love which ridicule the God-given dignity of the human person and undermine family interests?
In conclusion, I urge you to renew your efforts to assist those working in the world of media to promote what is good and true, especially in regard to the meaning of human and social existence, and to denounce what is false, especially pernicious trends which erode the fabric of a civil society worthy of the human person. Let us be encouraged by the words of Saint Paul: Christ is our peace: In him we are one (cf. Ep 2,14)! And let us work together to build up the communion of love according to the designs of the Creator made known through his Son! To all of you, your colleagues, and the members of your families at home I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing
Vatican's Clementine Hall
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
I am pleased to offer a cordial welcome to you as you are making your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I greet in particular those who are making their first ad limina visit this year. You have come to meet the Successor of Peter to strengthen the bonds of communion that bind you to him.
At our Meetings, I listened carefully to your joys and anxieties as Pastors of the Church in Cameroon. I assure you of my prayers for your episcopal ministry and for your diocesan Communities. May your visit strengthen your missionary dynamism and increase unity in charity among you, so that you will guide with justice and steadiness the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care!
I thank Archbishop Simon-Victor Tonyé Bakot of Yaoundé, President of your Bishops' Conference, for his cordial words and his presentation of the challenges that confront the Church in Cameroon today. When you return home, take to all the members of your Dioceses an affectionate greeting from the Pope, who asks them to let themselves be renewed within by Christ, to bear a witness of brotherhood and communion that calls contemporary society more and more into question.
The Church's life in Cameroon was marked last year by the 10th anniversary of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa, which Pope John Paul II signed in Yaoundé in September 1995. That moment of grace, lived with faith and hope, revealed a real, organic pastoral solidarity throughout the African Continent. This was displayed in particular by the fruitful and stimulating sessions of the Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
I hope that the ecclesiological and spiritual insights contained in this text, true antidotes to discouragement and resignation, will inspire in your Communities and in the Bishops' Conference fresh enthusiasm for carrying out the saving mission that the Church has received from Christ. You must make the Gospel penetrate the depths of your peoples' cultures and traditions, characterized by their wealth of human, spiritual and moral values, without ceasing to purify these cultures through a necessary conversion of everything in them opposed to the fullness of truth and life as revealed in Jesus Christ.
This also calls for proclaiming and living the Good News. It means entering undaunted into a critical dialogue with the new cultures linked to the appearance of globalization, so that the Church can bring them an ever more relevant and credible message while staying faithful to the commandment she has received from her Lord (cf. Mt 28,19).
Your quinquennial reports emphasize the unfavourable financial and social context that increases the number of people who live in a very precarious condition, weakening social ties and bringing the loss of a certain number of traditional values such as the family, sharing, attention to children and young people, the sense of generosity and respect for the elderly.
The invasion of the sects that exploit the gullibility of the faithful to drag them far from Christ and the Church, the different practices of popular religiosity that flourish in the communities which should be continually purified as well as the ravages of AIDS, are so many challenges to which you are asked to give precise theological and pastoral responses in order to evangelize peoples' hearts in depth and reawaken their consciences.
In this perspective, it is right to help all members of the Church without exception to develop ever greater intimacy with Christ, nourished by the Word of God, an intense prayer life and regular reception of the sacraments. May you guide them on the paths of a sounder and more adult faith that can transform hearts and consciences profoundly, giving birth to more and more friendly relations and greater solidarity among all.
It is your task, by your words and your witness of life, to call people to find Christ in the power of the Spirit and to strengthen them in the living faith. I warmly hope that the riches of your preaching, your concern to promote structured catechesis and to guarantee a demanding initial and continuing formation for catechists, your support for theological research and the attention you pay to your ministry of sanctification will give rise to a new impetus of holiness in the Communities.
Christians will then be able to take their place and act competently in social and political milieus and in the economy, proposing to their compatriots an ideal of the person and of society that conforms with basic human values and the teachings of the Church's social doctrine.
The Church is called to become more and more a home and school of communion. From this perspective the work done together in a spirit of charity, in your Episcopal Conference composed of French-speaking and English-speaking Bishops, is already in itself an eloquent sign of that unity which you experience, and serves to carry forward the evangelization of your people, marked by ethnic differences.
I encourage you to continue in this direction, showing by your words and writings how the Catholic Church takes to heart the promotion of the well-being and dignity of all the People of Cameroon without exception, and the fulfilment of their profound aspirations to unity, peace, justice and fraternity.
I am delighted at the increasing number of priests and seminarians in your Country, and I am also grateful for the patient work of the missionaries who preceded them and gave themselves with generosity and an apostolic spirit to build Communities which can inspire priestly vocations in their midst.
The search for unity at the service of the mission requires you to be attentive to the ties of frater-nal communion with your priests. I also encourage your priests to allow themselves to be renewed by the pastoral charity that must guide those who are configured through Ordination to Christ, Head and Pastor.
May each one meditate upon the total gift he has made of himself to God and to the Church in the image of the gift of Christ. May he also meditate upon the demands of pastoral charity and especially upon the need for a chaste life lived in celibacy in conformity with the law of the Church, upon the proper exercise of authority and upon a healthy relationship with material goods.
It is your task to sustain your priests in their priestly life by your closeness and your example, recalling: "Unless the episcopal office is based on the witness of a holiness manifested in pastoral charity, humility and simplicity of life, it ends up being reduced to a solely functional role, and inevitably loses credibility before the clergy and the faithful" (Pastores Gregis, ). It is not primarily our pastoral actions but the gift of ourselves and our witness of life that reveal the love of Christ for his flock.
In your quinquennial reports you presented the major challenges that confront the family. The family is suffering the full force of the devastating effects of a society that proposes behaviour which all too often undermines it.
For this reason it is right to encourage a family ministry that offers young people a demanding emotional and moral education, and prepares them to commit themselves to living conjugal love responsibly, a condition that is so important for the stability of families and for the whole of society.
Through an initial and continuing formation, may you enable Christian families to perceive the greatness and importance of their vocation, calling them ceaselessly to revive their communion through daily fidelity to the promise of the mutual, unique and exclusive gift that marriage entails.
The Church in Cameroon is constantly concerned with expressing specifically and effectively the love of Christ for everyone in the varied contexts of development, human advancement, justice and peace and health care, revealing the close connection between evangelization and social action. I appreciate the initiatives promoted in this perspective and greet the Christians involved in them, especially in the area of pastoral health care, highlighted in particular on the occasion of the World Day of the Sick held last year in Yaoundé.
This event will certainly have contributed to making public opinion more aware of the Church's pastoral commitment and her mission to the sick and to teaching basic health care, for fruitful collaboration with partners working in the health-care sector.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, at the end of our Meeting I would like to encourage you to pursue the work of evangelization in your Country. I also invite you to continue in a spirit of sincere and patient dialogue, lived in truth and charity, to build up brotherly relations with other Christian confessions and believers of other religions, to express the love of Christ the Saviour which gives rise to the human desire to live in peace and to form a brotherhood of peoples!
The Church in Cameroon, in this part of Central Africa so devastated by war, always remains a tangible sign of the peace that must be built, a peace that surpasses withdrawal into identity or race, banishes the temptation of revenge or resentment and strengthens people in new relations founded on justice and charity!
I entrust you all to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and willingly grant to you as well as to the priests, deacons, Religious and all the lay faithful of your Dioceses a special Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Representatives of the Holy See
to International Organizations,
I welcome you all with affection to this Meeting, at which I have the joy for the first time of coming into contact with you, who have gathered here in Rome to reflect together on certain key issues of the day.
I address my cordial greeting to you all and offer my heartfelt thanks to the Cardinal Secretary of State for his words on your behalf.
The increased participation of the Holy See in international activities is a precious incentive to ensure that it can continue to give a voice to the conscience of all who make up the international community. It is a sensitive and difficult service, founded on the apparently inert but ultimately prevalent force of the truth, through which the Holy See intends to collaborate in building an international society that is more attentive to the dignity and true needs of the human person.
In this perspective, its presence in International Intergovernmental Organizations makes a basic contribution to guaranteeing respect for human rights and for the common good, and thus for authentic freedom and justice.
We are in the presence of a specific and irreplaceable commitment that could become even more effective were those who collaborate with loyal dedication in the Church's mission in the world to join forces.
Relations between States and within States are correct to the extent that they respect the truth. When, instead, truth is violated, peace is threatened, law is endangered, then, as a logical consequence, forms of injustice are unleashed. These form boundaries that divide countries far more deeply than the frontiers outlined on maps and are often not only external but also internal.
Moreover, these injustices acquire many aspects: for example, indifference or confusion, which leads to damaging the structure of that life-giving cell of society: the family; or overbearing or arrogant behaviour, which may become arbitrary and silence those who have no voice or who lack the strength to make themselves heard, as in the case of the most serious injustice today: the suppression of unborn human life.
"God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong" (1Co 1,27). May this criterion of divine action, of lasting timeliness, encourage you not to be surprised or, even less, alarmed by difficulties and misunderstandings. Indeed, you know that through them you participate authoritatively in the prophetic responsibility of the Church, which intends to continue raising her voice in humanity's defence, even when State policy or the majority opinion take the opposite direction.
Indeed, truth draws strength from itself and not from the number of votes in its favour.
You may be certain that I accompany you on your demanding and important mission with cordial attention and sincere gratitude, and I assure you of my remembrance in prayer as I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I greet you with joy and offer you my cordial welcome! You have come to Rome from various parts of the world, bringing with you the knowledge that you belong to an ancient and noble Church which contributes with her spiritual treasures to enriching the beauty of Christ's Bride.
Thank you, Your Beatitude, for the fervent expressions of communion that you have addressed to me on behalf of the Synod of Bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church and everyone present.
You have wished to recall the many signs of kindness and concern with which my Predecessors have treated your ancient and venerable Church.
At the same time, the strong attachment to the See of Peter, sometimes to the point of martyrdom, which your Community has always shown in a reciprocal and fruitful relationship of faith and affection must also be recognized. This is another reason why I want to express my deep gratitude.
The Armenian Church, whose reference is the Patriarchate of Cilicia, certainly shares fully in the historical vicissitudes which the Armenian People have experienced down the centuries. In particular, she shares in the anguish it suffered in the name of the Christian faith in the years of the terrible persecution that in history recalls with sorrowful significance "metz yeghèrn", the great evil.
In this regard, how can we forget Leo XIII's numerous invitations to Catholics to go to the aid of the Armenian population in need and suffering? Nor can we forget, as you appropriately emphasized, Pope Benedict XV's decisive interventions when he deplored with deep emotion the: "Miserrima Armeniorum gens prope ad interitum adducitur" (AAS, VII, 1915, 510).
The Armenians, who always strove to fit into the societies in which they found themselves with their hard work and their dignity, still continue today to witness their fidelity to the Gospel.
Indeed, the Armenian Catholic Community is scattered in many countries, even outside the Patriarchal territory. Taking this into account, the Apostolic See has established Eparchies or Ordinariates wherever necessary for their pastoral care. Providence set the Patriarchate for Armenian Catholics in the Middle East, in Cilicia, and subsequently in Lebanon: all the Armenian Catholic faithful look to it as a firm reference point for their age-old cultural and liturgical tradition.
Then, we see how various Churches which recognize St Gregory the Illuminator as their common Founding Father are divided among themselves, although in recent decades they have all resumed a cordial and fruitful dialogue in order to rediscover their common roots. I encourage this rediscovered brotherhood and collaboration, and I hope that new initiatives for a common journey towards full unity will spring from it.
Even if historical events have witnessed the fragmentation of the Armenian Church, divine Providence will ensure that one day she will return to being united with one Hierarchy in fraternal harmony within and in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.
The celebration of the 1,700th anniversary of the Armenian Church, in which my beloved Predecessor, John Paul II, took part, was a comforting sign of this hoped-for unity. The Lord's love for his pilgrim Church will be able, in time, to offer Christians - this is our confident hope - the necessary means to achieve his pressing desire: "ut unum sint". Let us all be instruments at Christ's disposal. May he, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, grant that we persevere, sparing no effort, so that there may be one flock under one Pastor as soon as possible.
Dear brothers and sisters, with these sentiments I invoke upon you, your communities and the Armenian People the heavenly intercession of Mary Most Holy, who, as St Nerses Shnorali liked to say, is "a place of the uncircumscribed Word, the land sealed on every side in which the Light, the dawn of the Sun of justice, dwells".
May you also be sustained by the protection of St Gregory the Illuminator and of the Saints and Martyrs who have witnessed to the Gospel down the centuries.
Lastly, may you be accompanied by the Blessing that I warmly impart to you and to all your People as a pledge of the Successor of Peter's constant affection for all Armenians.
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