Speeches 2005-13 11055


Pope honours Our Lady of Guadalupe, prays for mothers

Holy Mary, who under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe are invoked as Mother by the men and women of Mexico and of Latin America, encouraged by the love that you inspire in us, we once again place our life in your motherly hands.

May you, who are present in these Vatican Gardens, hold sway in the hearts of all the mothers of the world and in our own heart. With great hope, we turn to you and trust in you.

Hail Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with thee,
blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Our Lady of Guadalupe,
Pray for us.


Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to meet you today, a little less than a month after I began my pastoral service as Successor of Peter. I am touched by the words that His Excellency Prof. Giovanni Galassi, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps to the Holy See, has just addressed to me, and appreciate the attention that all the diplomats pay to the Church's mission in the world. I offer my cordial greetings to each one of you and to those who work with you. I thank you for your courtesy during the great events that we lived through this past April, as well as for your daily work.

As I speak to you, I am thinking in addition of the countries you represent and of their Leaders. I am also thinking of the nations with which the Holy See does not yet have diplomatic relations. Some of them took part in the celebrations for the funeral of my Predecessor and for my election to the Chair of Peter.

Having appreciated these gestures, today I would like to thank them and to address a respectful greeting to the civil Authorities of those countries. Moreover, I express the hope that sooner or later I will see them represented at the Holy See.

I have received messages from them, especially those with numerous Catholic communities, which I particularly appreciated. I would like to say that I cherish these communities and all the peoples that belong to them, and assure them all of my remembrance in prayer.

In seeing you, how can I fail to recall the long and fruitful ministry of our beloved Pope John Paul II! An unflagging Gospel missionary in the many countries that he visited, he also rendered a unique service to the cause of the unity of the human family. He pointed out the way to God, inviting all people of good will to sharpen their consciences all the time and to build a society of justice, peace and solidarity, in charity and in mutual forgiveness.

Nor should we forget his countless meetings here in the Vatican with Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ambassadors, at which he devoted himself to defending the cause of peace.

For my part, I come from a Country where peace and brotherhood are treasured by all the inhabitants, especially those who, like myself, lived through the war and the separation of brothers and sisters belonging to the same Nation because of destructive and inhuman ideologies that, beneath a mask of dreams and illusions, burdened men and women with the heavy yoke of oppression. Thus, you will understand that I am particularly sensitive to dialogue between all human beings in order to overcome every kind of conflict and tension and to make our earth an earth of peace and brotherhood.

All together, by combining their efforts, Christian communities, national Leaders, Diplomats and all people of good will are called to achieve a peaceful society, to overcome the temptation of confrontation between cultures, races and worlds that are different. For this, each people must find in its spiritual and cultural patrimony the best values it possesses so that it may advance undaunted to encounter the other, ready to share its own spiritual and material riches for the benefit of all.

In order to continue in this direction, the Church never ceases to proclaim and defend the fundamental human rights, which unfortunately are still violated in various parts of the earth. She is working for recognition of the rights of every human person to life, food, a home, work, health-care assistance, the protection of the family and the promotion of social development, with respect for the dignity of men and of women, created in the image of God.

Rest assured that the Catholic Church will continue to offer to cooperate, in her own province and with her own means, to safeguard the dignity of every person and to serve the common good. She asks no privileges for herself but only the legitimate conditions of freedom to carry out her mission. In the concert of nations, she always seeks to encourage understanding and cooperation between peoples based on loyalty, discretion and friendliness.

Lastly, I ask you to renew my thanks to your Governments for their participation in the celebrations on the occasion of the death of Pope John Paul II and of my election, as well as my respectful and cordial greeting, which I accompany with a special prayer that God will pour out an abundance of his Blessings upon you personally, upon your families, upon your countries and upon all who live in them.


Dear Priests and Deacons,
Dear Men and Women Religious,
Dear Lay persons who work in the Vicariate,

I have come to pay you a Visit and I extend my cordial greetings to all. I especially greet the Cardinal Vicar, thanking him for the words he addressed to me on behalf of you all. It is good to be able to meet with you in the building where you carry out your daily service to the Church, working in close collaboration with the Bishops of the Episcopal Council.

The duties entrusted to you, in the numerous offices and in the three tribunals linked to the Vicariate of Rome, are varied and specialized; they are, however, united by participation in the same mission of the Church.

It is precisely this unique mission which calls each person to a deep communion whose centre is Jesus Christ; it requires a daily openness to collaboration on the part of all. In this way, each person joyfully fulfils the duty entrusted to him or her for the good of the entire diocesan community.
Dear friends, the ministry of Bishop of Rome binds me to you in a special way and means I can count on your spiritual closeness and concrete and generous support.

On my part I assure you of constant prayers for you, your families and all those dear to you. May the Lord always be close to you. May the Holy Virgin, who we venerate today under the title of Our Lady of Fatima, assist and protect you.

TO THE CLERGY OF ROME Basilica of St John Lateran Friday, 13 May 2005

Dear Priests and Deacons who serve the Diocese of Rome with your pastoral work,

I am happy to meet you at the beginning of my ministry as Bishop of this Church, "which presides in charity". I greet with affection the Cardinal Vicar and thank him for his kind words, and I also greet the Vicegerent and the Auxiliary Bishops. I offer a friendly greeting to each one of you, and at this very first Meeting I want to express my gratitude to you for your daily efforts in the Lord's vineyard.

The extraordinary experience of faith that we lived on the occasion of the death of our beloved Pope John Paul II showed us a Church of Rome that is deeply united, full of life and rich in zeal: all this is also the fruit of your prayers and apostolate.

Thus, humbly attached to Christ, our One Lord, together we can and must encourage that "exemplarity" of the Church of Rome which is genuine service to our Sister Churches across the world. The indissoluble bond between romanum and petrinum implies and indeed requires the Church of Rome's participation in the universal concern of her Bishops.

But responsibility for this participation concerns you in a special way, dear priests and deacons, united to your Bishop by the sacramental bond that also makes you his precious collaborators. I am therefore counting on you, on your prayers, your acceptance and your dedication, so that our beloved Diocese may respond ever more generously to the vocation the Lord has entrusted to it.
For my part, I assure you that despite my limitations, you can count on the sincerity of my paternal affection for you all.

Dear priests, the quality of your lives and your pastoral service seem to indicate that in this Diocese, as in many others of the world, we have now left behind us that period of identity crisis that troubled so many priests. However, still present are the causes of the "spiritual wilderness" that afflict humanity in our day and consequently also undermine the Church, which dwells among humankind. How can we not fear that they may also ensnare the lives of priests?

It is indispensable, therefore, to return ever anew to the solid root of our priesthood. This root, as we well know, is one: Jesus Christ our Lord. It is he whom the Father sent, he is the cornerstone (cf. 1P 2,7). Through him, through the mystery of his death and Resurrection, the Kingdom of God is established and the salvation of the human race brought about.

This Jesus, however, possesses nothing of his own; everything he has is from the Father and for the Father. So he says that his doctrine is not his own but comes from the One who sent him (cf. Jn 7,16): and that he, the Son, cannot do anything by himself (cf. Jn 5,19 Jn 30).

Dear friends, this is also the true nature of our priesthood. In fact, all that constitutes our priestly ministry cannot be the product of our personal abilities. This is true for the administration of the Sacraments, but it is also true for the service of the Word: we are not sent to proclaim ourselves or our personal opinions, but the mystery of Christ and, in him, the measure of true humanism. We are not charged to utter many words, but to echo and bear the message of a single "Word", the Word of God made flesh for our salvation. Consequently, these words of Jesus also apply to us: "My doctrine is not my own; it comes from him who sent me" (Jn 7,16).

Dear priests of Rome, the Lord calls us friends, he makes us his friends, he entrusts himself to us, he entrusts to us his Body in the Eucharist, he entrusts to us his Church. Therefore, we must be true friends to him, we must have the same perception as he has, we must want what he wants and not what he does not want. Jesus himself tells us: "You are my friends if you do what I command you" (Jn 15,14). Let this be our common resolution: all of us together, to do his holy will, in which lies our freedom and our joy.

Since the priesthood is rooted in Christ, it is by its nature in the Church and for the Church. Indeed, the Christian faith is not something purely spiritual and internal, nor is our relationship with Christ itself exclusively subjective and private.

Rather, it is a completely concrete and ecclesial relationship. At times, the ministerial priesthood has a constitutive relationship with the Body of Christ in his dual and inseparable dimensions as Eucharist and as Church, as Eucharistic body and Ecclesial body.

Therefore, our ministry is amoris officium (St Augustine, In Iohannis Evangelium Tractatus 123, 5), it is the office of the Good Shepherd who offers his life for his sheep (cf. Jn 10,14-15). In the Eucharistic mystery, Christ gives himself ever anew, and it is precisely in the Eucharist that we learn love of Christ, hence, love for the Church.

I therefore repeat with you, dear brothers in the priesthood, the unforgettable words of John Paul II: "Holy Mass is the absolute centre of my life and of every day of my life" (Address at a Symposium in honour of the 30th anniversary of the Decree "Presbyterorum Ordinis", 27 October 1995, n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 15 November 1995, p. 7). And each one of us should be able to say these words are his own: Holy Mass is the absolute centre of my life and of my every day.

Likewise, obedience to Christ, who made amends for Adam's disobedience, is in practice expressed in ecclesial obedience, which for the priest in daily life means first and foremost obedience to his Bishop. In the Church, however, obedience is not something formalistic; it is obedience to the one who, in turn, obeys and personifies the obedient Christ. All this neither frustrates nor even attenuates the practical requirements of obedience, but guarantees theological depth and its Catholic tone: in the Bishop we obey Christ and the whole Church which he represents in this place.

Jesus Christ was sent by the Father, through the power of the Holy Spirit, for the salvation of the entire human family, and we priests are enabled through the grace of the sacrament to share in this mission of his. As the Apostle Paul writes, "God... has given us the ministry of reconciliation.... This makes us ambassadors for Christ, God as it were appealing through us. We implore you, in Christ's name: be reconciled to God" (II Cor 5: 18-29). This is how St Paul describes our mission as priests.

Therefore, in the Homily prior to the Conclave, I spoke of the "holy restlessness" that must animate us, the concern to bring to everyone the gift of faith, to offer everyone the salvation that alone endures for ever. And in a city as large as Rome, which on the one hand is so steeped in faith yet in which so many people live who have not really perceived in their hearts the proclamation of faith, we should be especially impelled by this restless concern to bring this joy, this centre of life, which gives it meaning and direction.

Dear brother priests of Rome, the Risen Christ is calling us to be his witnesses and gives us the strength of his Spirit to enable us to be truly such. It is necessary, therefore, to be with him (cf. Mc 3,14 Ac 1,21-23) for life. As in the first description of the "munus apostolicum" in Mark 3, an account is given of what the Lord thought being an apostle should mean: being with him and being available for the mission. The two things go together and only by staying with him are we also and always on the move with the Gospel towards others.

Thus, it is essential to be with him, and in this way that restlessness pervades us and enables us to bring the power and joy of the faith to others with our whole lives and not only with just a few words.

The Apostle Paul's words can apply to us: "Yet preaching the Gospel is not the subject of a boast; I am under compulsion and have no choice. I am ruined if I do not preach it!... Although I am not bound to anyone, I made myself the slave of all so as to win over as many as possible.... I have made myself all things to all men in order to save at least some of them" (1Co 9,16-22).

These words that are the self-portrait of the Apostle are also the portrait of every priest. Making oneself "all things to all men" is expressed in daily life, in attention to every person and family: in this regard, you priests of Rome have a great tradition, and I say so with deep conviction, and you are also honouring it today when the city has spread so much and is profoundly changed. It is crucial, as you well know, that the closeness and attention to everyone are always expressed in Christ's Name and constantly strive to lead people to him.

This closeness and dedication, of course, has a personal cost for each one of you, for us. It involves time, worry, the expenditure of energy. I am aware of your daily efforts and want to thank you on behalf of the Lord. But I also want to help you as much as I can so that you do not yield under this burden.

To be able to bear, indeed, even to grow, as persons and as priests, it is fundamental first of all to have intimate communion with Christ, whose food was to do the will of his Father (cf. Jn 4,34): all we do is done in communion with him, and we thus rediscover ever anew the unity of our lives in the many facets of our daily occupations.

Let us also learn from the Lord Jesus Christ, who sacrificed himself to do the will of the Father, the art of priestly ascesis which is also necessary today: it should not be exercised on a par with pastoral activities as an additional burden that makes our day even more difficult. On the contrary, we must learn how to surpass ourselves, how to give and how to offer our lives.

But, if all this is truly to happen within us so that our very action may truly become our ascesis and our self-giving, so that all this may not be just a wish, there is no doubt that we need moments in which to replenish our energies, including the physical, and especially to pray and meditate, returning to our inner selves and finding the Lord within us.

Thus, spending time in God's presence in prayer is a real pastoral priority; it is not an addition to pastoral work: being before the Lord is a pastoral priority and in the final analysis, the most important. John Paul II showed this to us in the most practical and enlightened way in every circumstance of his life and ministry.

Dear priests, we can never sufficiently emphasize how fundamental and crucial our personal response to the call to holiness is. It is not only the condition for our personal apostolate to be fruitful but also, and more generally, for the face of the Church to reflect the light of Christ (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 1), thereby inducing people to recognize and adore the Lord.

We must first inwardly accept the Apostle Paul's plea that we let ourselves be reconciled to God (cf. II Cor 5: 20), asking the Lord with a sincere heart and courageous determination to take away from us all that separates us from God and is contrary to the mission we have received. The Lord is merciful, we are certain, and will answer our prayer.

My ministry as Bishop of Rome follows in the wake of the ministry of my Predecessors. I welcome in particular the precious heritage bequeathed by John Paul II: dear priests and deacons, let us walk on this path with serenity and trust.

We will continue to seek to increase communion in the great family of the diocesan Church and to collaborate to develop a missionary approach in our pastoral work in conformity with the basic guidelines of the Roman Synod, translated into action with special effectiveness by the City Mission. Rome is a very large Diocese and truly a very special one, because of the universal concern that the Lord has entrusted to his Bishop.

Therefore, dear priests, your relationship with the diocesan Bishop, who unfortunately I am, cannot have the daily immediacy I would have liked and which may be possible in other situations. Through the work of the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishops, to whom I express my deep gratitude, I can nonetheless be concretely close to each one of you, in the joys and difficulties that accompany every priest on his journey.

I would like above all to assure you of that deeper and more decisive closeness that binds the Bishop to his priests and deacons in daily prayer, and you may be sure that the clergy of Rome are truly particularly present in my prayers. And we are close in faith and love for Christ and in entrustment to Mary, Mother of the one High Priest. That serenity and trust which we all feel we need, both for our apostolic work and for our personal lives, derive precisely from our union with Christ and with the Virgin.

Dear priests and deacons, these are some of the thoughts that I wanted to bring to your attention. Before giving the floor to you for your questions and reflections, I still have some very joyful news to announce. We received a communiqué today. It was written by Cardinal Saraiva Martins, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, together with Archbishop Nowak, Secretary of the Congregation:

The Holy Father then read the Latin text regarding the Cause of the late Pope John Paul II:

Instante Em.mo ac Rev.mo Domino D. Camillo S.R.E. Cardinali Ruini, Vicario Generali Suae Sanctitatis pro Dioecesi Romana, Summus Pontifex BENEDICTUS XVI, attentis peculiaribus expositis adiunctis, in audentia eidem Cardinali Vicario Generali die 28 mensis Aprilis huius anni 2005 concessa, dispensavit a tempore quinque annorum exspectationis post mortem Servi Dei Ioannis Pauli II (Caroli Wojtyla), Summi Pontificis, ita ut causa Beatificationis et Canonizationis eiusdem Servi Dei statim incipi posset. Contrariis non obstantibus quibuslibet.

Datum Romae, ex aedibus huius Congregationis de Causis Sanctorum, die 9 mensis Maii A.D. 2005.
Iosephus Card. Saraiva Martins
Eduardus Nowak
Archiepiscopus tit. Lunensis
a Secretis

The floor is now yours. At the end, I will do my best to answer you.

The Holy Father responded "off the cuff" to interventions made by members of the clergy of Rome, which followed his formal Address:

At the end, I can only say "thank you" for the richness and depth of these contributions, where a Presbytery full of enthusiasm, of love for Christ and for the flock entrusted to us and of love for the poor is evident. And not only of the city of Rome, but truly of the universal Church, of all our brothers and sisters. Thank you also for the affection you have expressed for me; it helps me greatly.

Presently, I do not feel in a position to enter into details regarding what has been said. It would be good to continue a true discussion, and I hope that it will be possible to have a concrete question-and-answer discussion.

Now, I simply express my gratitude for everything. I truly perceive your pastoral dedication, I perceive your desire to build the Church of Christ here in Rome, I perceive your reflections on how to do better, I perceive how all springs forth from a great love for the Lord and the Church.

I would only like to touch on three or four points that have remained in my mind. You have spoken of this "Roman" and "universal" interlacement. For me, this seems to be a very important point.

On the one hand, this is an authentic local Church that must live as such. There are some people who suffer, who live, who want to believe or are unable to believe. It is here, in the parishes, that the Church of Rome must grow with her great responsibility for the world as she carries within herself this mandate, in a certain way, of "exemplarity"; in this way, there appears in the Church of Rome the face of the Church as such, and it is a model for other local Churches. To be a model, we ourselves must be a local Church that is busy each day in the humble work demanded by this "being Church", in a determined place at a determined time.

You have spoken of the parish as a fundamental structure, assisted and enriched by movements. And it seems to me that precisely during the Pontificate of Pope John Paul II, a fruitful combination between the constant element of the parochial structure and, let us say, the "charismatic" element, was created, which offers new initiatives, new inspirations, new life. Under the wise guidance of the Cardinal Vicar and the Auxiliary Bishops, all parish priests can together be truly responsible for the growth of the parish, taking in all of the factors that can come from the movements and the living reality of the Church in varied dimensions.

But I wanted to speak once more about this Roman and universal interlacment. One of our brothers spoke of our responsibility towards Africa. We have seen how, in Rome, Africa is present, India is present, the universe is present. And this presence of our brothers and sisters obliges us to think not only of ourselves, but to feel precisely in this moment of history, in all of these circumstances with which we are familiar, the presence of the other Continents.

It seems to me that at this time we have a particular responsibility towards Africa, towards Latin America and towards Asia, where Christianity - with the exception of the Philippines - is still a very large minority, even if in India it is growing and shows itself a strength for the future. And so, we also think of this responsibility.

Africa is a Continent that has enormous potential and the enormous generosity of the people, with an impressive, living faith. But we must confess that Europe exported not only faith in Christ, but also all of the vices of the Old Continent.

It exported the sense of corruption, it exported the violence that is currently devastating Africa. And we must acknowledge our responsibility so that the exportation of the faith, an answer to the intimate hope of every human being, is stronger than the exportation of the vices of Europe. This seems to me a great responsibility.

The weapons trade is still alive, with the exploitation of the earth's goods. We Christians must do much more in these regards so that faith is made present, and with faith, the strength to resist these vices and to rebuild a Christian Africa, destined to be a happy Africa, a great Continent of new humanism.

Something was then said about the need, on one hand, to proclaim, to speak, but on the other, also to listen. To me, this seems important in two ways.

The priest, deacon, catechist and Religious must, on the one hand, proclaim, be witnesses. But naturally, for this they must listen, in a two-fold sense: on the one hand, with their soul open to Christ, interiorly listening to his Word so that it is assimilated and transformed and forms my being; and on the other, listening to today's humanity, our neighbours, those of my parish, those for whom I have been given a certain responsibility.

Naturally, listening to the world of today that exists also in us, we listen to all the problems, all the difficulties that are contrary to faith. And we must be able to seriously take upon ourselves these problems.

In his First Letter, St Peter, the first Bishop of Rome, says that we Christians must be ready to explain our faith. This presupposes that we ourselves have understood the reason of faith, that we have truly "digested", even rationally, with the heart, with the wisdom of heart, this word that can truly be an answer for others.

In the First Letter of St Peter, in the Greek text, with a fine play on words, it is written: "apologia", the answer to the "logos", of the reason for our faith. And so, the "logos", the reason for the faith, the word of faith, must become the answer of faith. And we know well that the language of faith is often very far from today's men and women; it can bring them close only if it becomes in us our modern-day language. We are contemporary, we live in this world, with these thoughts, these emotions. If it is transformed in us, one can find the answer.

Naturally, I am aware and we all know that many are not immediately able to identify themselves with, to understand, to assimilate all that the Church teaches. It seems to me important firstly to awaken this intention to believe with the Church, even if personally someone may not yet have assimilated many particulars. It is necessary to have this will to believe with the Church, to have trust that this Church - the community not only of 2,000 years of pilgrimage of the people of God, but the community that embraces heaven and earth, the community where all the righteous of all times are therefore present - that this Church enlivened by the Holy Spirit truly carries within the "compass" of the Spirit and therefore is the true subject of faith.

The individual, then, is inserted into this subject, adheres to it, and so, even if he or she is still not completely penetrated by this, the person has trust and participates in the faith of the Church, wants to believe with the Church. To me, this seems like our lifelong pilgrimage: to arrive with our thought, our affections, with our entire life at the communion of faith. We can offer this to everyone, so that little by little one can identify and especially take this step over and over again to trust in the faith of the Church, to insert themselves in this pilgrimage of faith, so as to receive the light of faith.

To conclude, I would like once more to say "thank you" for the contribution expressed here regarding Christocentrism, the requirement for our faith to be ever nourished by personal encounter with Christ, a personal friendship with Jesus.

Romano Guardini correctly said 70 years ago that the essence of Christianity is not an idea but a Person. Great theologians have tried to describe the essential ideas that make up Christianity. But in the end, the Christianity that they constructed was not convincing, because Christianity is in the first place an Event, a Person. And thus in the Person we discover the richness of what is contained. This is important.

And here I think we also find an answer to a difficulty often voiced today regarding the missionary nature of the Church. From many comes the temptation to think this way regarding others: "But why do we not leave them in peace? They have their authenticity, their truth. We have ours. And so, let us live together in harmony, leaving all persons as the are, so that they search out their authenticity in the best way".

But how can one's personal authenticity be discovered if in reality, in the depth of our hearts, there is the expectation of Jesus, and the genuine authenticity of each person is found exactly in communion with Christ and not without Christ? Said in another way: If we have found the Lord and if he is the light and joy of our lives, are we sure that for someone else who has not found Christ he is not lacking something essential and that it is our duty to offer him this essential reality?

We then leave what will transpire to the direction of the Holy Spirit and the freedom of each person. But if we are convinced and we have experienced the fact that without Christ life is incomplete, is missing a reality, the fundamental reality, we must also be convinced that we do harm to no one if we show them Christ and we offer them in this way too the possibility to discover their true authenticity, the joy of having discovered life.

In closing, I would like to say "thank you" to all who make up the Presbytery and the Ecclesial Community of Rome, to the parish and vice-parish priests, to all who collaborate in the various offices, to deacons, catechists and above all to the men and women religious who are somewhat the "heart" of the ecclesial life of a Diocese. Thank you for this witness that you give.

Let us all go forward together, moved by the love of Christ. And in this way, we will succeed!


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, I joyfully welcome all of you who have come to take part in the Beatification of Mother Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus Nicol Goñi and of Mother Marianne Cope, which was held on Saturday afternoon [14 May] in the Vatican Basilica. These two new Blesseds, exemplary witnesses of the charity of Christ, help us to understand better the sense and value of our Christian vocation.

Dear pilgrims, you have come to Rome to relive the missionary message that Mother Ascensión of the Heart of Jesus Nicol Goñi, who has just been proclaimed "Blessed", bequeathed to the Church with her life and works. I invite you to keep alive in your heart the apostolic ardour, born from love for Jesus, that Mother Ascensión lived and knew how to pass on to her spiritual daughters.

As I cordially greet my Brother Bishops, the various Authorities and the faithful who participated in this meaningful event, I address in particular the Dominican Missionary Sisters of the Rosary, so that, following the example of their Blessed Foundress, they help us to relive the spirit of St Dominic in our times. Keep alive the experience of God's presence in missionary life - "God is so closely felt", Mother Ascensión would say -, the spirit of fraternity in your communities, ready to go to those places where the Church needs you, with that bold spirit which led Mother Ascensión to the undeveloped territory of the Vicariate of Puerto Maldonado.

I greet the pilgrims of this Apostolic Vicariate and of the other Peruvian regions, in whom I see maturing a precious fruit of genuine evangelization, cultivated with an especially feminine care.

I also greet the pilgrims from Navarra, birthplace of the new Blessed, and from the other parts of Spain, where the seed of faith is deeply rooted and has given many missionaries to the entire world.

The ceremony took place on a very significant day for missionaries and for the entire Church: the vigil of Pentecost, a moment in which, under the impulse of the Holy Spirit, the disciples of Jesus fearlessly launched themselves to proclaim everywhere and publicly Jesus' teaching. Since then, others have welcomed the missionary mandate, placing their energies at the service of the Gospel. Among them is Mother Ascensión, who, in turn, allowed herself to be inflamed by the fire of Pentecost and made it her duty to spread it in the world.

May she now intercede for all of you so that you bring to the world the light that gave splendour to her life and joy to her heart.

I bless you all with much affection. Thank you.

It is with great joy that I welcome you to Rome, dear brothers and sisters, for the Beatification of Mother Marianne Cope. I know that your participation in Saturday's solemn liturgy, so significant for the universal Church, will have been a source of renewed grace and commitment to the exercise of charity which marks the life of every Christian.

Marianne Cope's life was one of profound faith and love which bore fruit in a missionary spirit of immense hope and trust. In 1862 she entered the Congregation of the Franciscan Sisters of Syracuse where she imbibed the particular spirituality of St Francis of Assisi, dedicating herself wholeheartedly to spiritual and corporal works of mercy. Her own experience of consecrated life saw an extraordinary apostolate unfold, adorned with heroic virtue.

As is well known, while Mother Marianne was Superior General of her Congregation, the then Bishop of Honolulu invited the Order to come to Hawaii and work among the lepers. Leprosy was spreading rapidly and causing unspeakable suffering and misery among the afflicted. Fifty other Congregations received the same plea for assistance, but only Mother Marianne, in the name of her Sisters, responded positively.

True to the charism of the Order and in imitation of St Francis, who had embraced lepers, Mother Marianne volunteered herself for the mission with a trusting, "Yes"! And for 35 years, until her death in 1918, our new Blessed dedicated her life to the love and service of lepers on the islands of Maui and Molokai.

Undoubtedly the generosity of Mother Marianne was, humanly speaking, exemplary. Good intentions and selflessness alone, however, do not adequately explain her vocation. It is only the perspective of faith which enables us to understand her witness - as a Christian and as a Religious - to that sacrificial love which reaches its fullness in Jesus Christ. All that she achieved was inspired by her personal love of the Lord, which she in turn expressed through her love of those abandoned and rejected by society in a most wretched way.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us today be inspired by Bl. Marianne Cope to renew our commitment to walk the path of holiness.

With my own prayers that your pilgrimage here to Rome may be a time of spiritual enrichment, I gladly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to the members of your families at home, especially those who are ill or suffering in any way.

May the Virgin Mary obtain for us the gift of continual fidelity to the Gospel. May she help us to follow the example of the new Blesseds and to strive tirelessly towards holiness. To all of you present here and to your dear ones, I impart my Blessing.


Your Excellency,

I am pleased to welcome you today and to accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Holy See. I am grateful for the warm words of greeting which you have conveyed from President Crvenkovski. I gladly reciprocate them and assure the Government and citizens of your nation of my prayers for the country’s peace and well-being.

The feast of Saints Cyril and Methodius who, along with Saints Benedict, Bridget of Sweden, Catherine of Siena and Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, are the great Patrons of Europe, is marked by an annual visit to Rome of a delegation from your country. This richly symbolic event recalls the close interest Popes Nicholas I, Hadrian II and John VIII showed in the Apostles of the Slavs, by encouraging them to fulfil their missionary activity with fidelity and creativity. Just as Cyril and Methodius recognized the acute need to transpose correctly Biblical notions and Greek theological concepts into a very different context of thought and historical experience, so today the primary task facing Christians in Europe is that of casting the ennobling light of Revelation on all that is good, true and beautiful. In this way all peoples and nations are drawn towards that peace and freedom which God the Creator intends for everyone.

I recognise with sentiments of thanksgiving that your nation has reaffirmed its commitment to forge a path of peace and reconciliation. By doing so it can become an example to others in the Balkan region. Tragically, cultural differences have often been a source of misunderstanding between peoples and even the cause of senseless conflicts and wars. In fact dialogue between cultures is an indispensable building stone of the universal civilization of love for which every man and woman longs. I encourage you and your citizens therefore to affirm the fundamental values common to all cultures; common because they find their source in the very nature of the human person. In this way the quest for peace is consolidated allowing you to dedicate every human and spiritual resource to the material and moral progress of your people, in a spirit of fruitful co-operation with neighbouring countries.

Mr Ambassador, you have noted that the goal of social integration which your Government is courageously pursuing legitimately brings you closer to the rest of Europe. Indeed your traditions and your culture find a natural resonance there and belong to the spirit that permeates this Continent. As my beloved predecessor said on a number of occasions: Europe needs the Balkan nations, and they need Europe! Entry into the European Community should not, however, be understood merely as a panacea to overcome economic adversity. In the process of the European Union’s expansion it is "of capital importance" to remember that it "will lack substance if it is reduced to merely geographic and economic dimensions." Rather, the union must "consist above all in an agreement about values which ... find expression in its law and in its life" (Ecclesia in Europa, 110). This rightly demands of each state a proper ordering of society that creatively reclaims the soul of Europe, acquired through the decisive contribution of Christianity, affirming the transcendent dignity of the human person and the values of reason, freedom, democracy and the constitutional state (cf. ibid., 109).

The people of your land have already achieved much in the difficult but rewarding task of ensuring social coherence and stability. Authentic development requires a coordinated national plan of progress which honours the legitimate aspirations of all sectors of society and to which political and civic leaders can be held accountable. Human history teaches us repeatedly that if such programmes are to effect a lasting positive change, they must be based on the protection of human rights including those of ethnic and religious minorities, the practice of responsible and transparent governance, and the maintenance of law and order by an impartial judiciary system and an honourable police force. Without these foundations, the hope for true progress remains elusive.

Mr Ambassador, your Government’s commitment to improving the social and economic prosperity of its citizens presents the young generation with a vision of confidence and optimism. Central to this promise is the creation of educational opportunities. Where schools function in a professional manner and are staffed by people of personal integrity, hope is offered to all and most especially the youth. Integral to such formation is religious instruction. This assists the young to discover the full meaning of human existence, especially the fundamentally important relationship of freedom to truth (cf. Fides et Ratio FR 90). Indeed, knowledge enlightened by faith, far from dividing communities, binds peoples together in the common search for truth which defines every human as one who lives by belief (cf. ibid., 31). I strongly encourage the Government, therefore, to pursue its intention to permit the teaching of religion in primary schools.

The Catholic Church in your nation, though numerically small, desires to reach out in co-operation with other religious communities to all members of Macedonian society without distinction. Her charitable mission, particularly to the poor and suffering, forms part of her "commitment to practical and concrete love for every human being" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 49) and is much appreciated in your country. I am confident that the Church is willing to contribute even more extensively to the country’s human development programmes, promoting the values of peace, justice, solidarity and freedom.

Your Excellency, the diplomatic mission which you begin today will further strengthen the bonds of understanding and cooperation existing between your country and the Holy See. I assure you that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. With my sincere good wishes, I invoke upon you, your family and all the people of your nation God’s abundant blessings.


Dear Georg,
Esteemed Ambassador Botschafter,
Esteemed President Schambeck,
Esteemed Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It seems strange for me to speak now. As I was coming down here, the Secretary rightly told me: "Now, dear Holy Father, your brother is the most important person". There is no doubt about this. I find it wonderfully appropriate that my brother, who for 30 years worked so diligently in sacred music in the Cathedral of Ratisbon and in the rest of the world, is receiving recognition from such competent persons.

When I speak, regardless of my own incompetence, I feel like the spokesperson, so to speak, of those gathered here and who rejoice and are full of gratitude and satisfaction for this moment and time. My brother has already said: "Austria is, in a very special way, a Land of music". Those who think of Austria, think first of all of the beauty of creation that the Lord has given to this nearby Country. One thinks of the beautiful buildings, the cordiality of the people, but also and above all of the music, whose great composers have already been mentioned, and also of the musical tradition: Weiner Sängerknaben, Weiner Philharmoniker, Salzburger Festspiele, etc.

For this reason, the fact that our beloved neighbour, Austria, confers this award upon my brother assumes a very special value. I too express my heartfelt gratitude.

I imagine that also for the new generation of Cathedral cantors, guided by the Chapel Master, the recognition of 30 years of work is a reason to rejoice and to be encouraged; it can help them in this time when we especially need to pay homage to the message of the good God and to lead men and women to joy with renewed ardour and enthusiasm. Thank you.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am certain to interpret the common sentiments and express living gratitude to those who wanted to offer me and all of you the opportunity to view this moving film tonight; it traces the life of young Karol Wojtyla, leading to his election as the Pontiff known as "John Paul II".

I greet and thank Cardinal Roberto Tucci for his introduction to the film. I then address a word of admiration to the director and writer, Giacomo Battiato, and to the actors, especially Piotr Adamczyk who played the part of John Paul II, to the producer Pietro Valsecchi and to the networks "Taodue" and "Mediaset".

I cordially greet the other Cardinals, Bishops, priests, Authorities and all those who wanted to take part in this viewing in honour of the beloved Pontiff, recently deceased. We all remember him with deep affection and heartfelt gratitude. Yesterday, he would have celebrated his 85th birthday.

"Karol, un uomo diventato Papa" [Karol, a man who became Pope] is the title of the drama, taken from a text by Gian Franco Svidercoschi. The first segment, as we have seen, highlights the situation in Poland under the Nazi regime, with emphasis - now and then very emotionally strong - given to the repression of the Polish people and to the genocide of the Jews. These are atrocious crimes that show all of the evil that was contained in the Nazi ideology.

Young Karol, shocked by so much suffering and violence, decided to do something about it in his own life, answering the divine call to the priesthood. The film presents scenes and episodes that, in their severity, awaken in the viewers an instinctive "turning away" in horror and stimulates them to consider the abyss of iniquity that can be hidden in the human soul.
At the same time, calling to the fore such aberration revives in every right-minded person the duty to do what he or she can so that such inhuman barbarism never happens again.

Today's viewing takes place just some days after the 60th anniversary of the end of the Second World War. On 8 May 1945 the conclusion was marked of that frightful tragedy which sowed destruction and death, in a measure never-before heard of, in Europe and in the world.

Ten years ago, John Paul II wrote that World War II appears with evermore clarity as a "suicide of humanity". Each time a totalitarian ideology crushes man, humanity as a whole is seriously threatened. With the passing of time, memories do not have to fade; rather, they must be a stern lesson for this and future generations. We have the responsibility of reminding especially youth of the forms of unprecedented violence that can lead to contempt for men and women and the violation of their rights.

Under the light of Providence, how can we not read as a divine plan the fact that on the Chair of Peter, a Polish Pope is succeeded by a citizen of that Country, Germany, where the Nazi regime was the most vicious, attacking the nearby nations, Poland among them?

In their youth, both of these Popes - even if on opposing fronts and in different situations - knew the cruelty of the Second World War and of the senseless violence of men fighting men, people fighting people.

During the final days of the Second Vatican Council held here in Rome, the Polish Bishops consigned the "letter of reconciliation" to the German Bishops; the letter contained those famous words that today too resound in our souls: "We forgive and we ask forgiveness".

In last Sunday's Homily I reminded the newly-ordained priests that "nothing can improve the world if evil is not overcome. Evil can be overcome only by forgiveness" (L'Osservatore Romano English Edition, 18 May, p. 7). May the mutual and sincere condemnation of Nazism, as with atheistic communism, be everyone's duty for the building of reconciliation and peace on forgiveness.

"To forgive", our beloved John Paul II again reminds us, "does not mean to forget", adding that "if memory is the law of history, forgiveness is the power of God, the power of Christ that works in the vicissitudes of man" (cf. Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, XVII/2 [1994], p. 250). Peace is, in the first place, a gift of God, who makes sentiments of love and solidarity arise in the heart of the person who welcomes it.

I hope that, thanks also to this witness of Pope John Paul II commemorated in this meaningful film, there will be a revival on the part of each person in the proposal to work - each in his or her own field and according to one's means - at the service of a definite action for peace in Europe and in the entire world.

I entrust the hope of peace that all of us carry in our heart to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who is venerated especially in this month of May. May she, Queen of Peace, encourage the generous contribution of those who intend to put their efforts toward the building of true peace on the solid pillars of truth, justice, freedom and love. With these sentiments, I extend to all my Apostolic Blessing.


Speeches 2005-13 11055