Speeches 2005-13 28156
Mr President of the Republic of Poland,
My Venerable Brother, the Cardinal Archbishop of Kraków,
Beloved brothers and sisters!
The time has come for me to say farewell to Poland. For four days I have passed through your country like a pilgrim, visiting places of particular importance for your historical and spiritual identity. Warsaw, Jasna Góra, Kraków, Wadowice, Kalwaria Zebrzydowska, Lagiewniki, Oswiecim – how many memories these names evoke! What a wealth of meaning they have for the Polish people!
When taking leave of his homeland for the last time four years ago, my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II exhorted the Polish nation always to be guided by sentiments of mercy, fraternal solidarity, and dedication to the common good, and he expressed the firm conviction that in this way she would not only find her proper place within a United Europe, but would also enrich this continent and the whole world with her tradition. Today, as your presence in the family of European States is being constantly consolidated, I wish with my whole heart to repeat those words of hope. I ask you to remain faithful custodians of the Christian deposit, and to transmit it to future generations.
Dear Polish people! I want to confide in you that this pilgrimage, during which I have visited places particularly dear to the great John Paul II, has brought me even closer to you, his compatriots. I thank you for the prayer with which you have surrounded me from the moment of my election. During my meetings with you, at audiences in the Vatican, I have often felt a bond of intense prayer and spontaneous sympathy. I would like you to continue to remember me in your prayers, asking the Lord to increase my strength in the service of the universal Church.
I thank the President of the Republic of Poland and the Polish Episcopate for the invitation. I thank the Prime Minister for the Government’s fruitful co-operation with Church representatives in the preparation for this visit. I express my gratitude to the Authorities at every level for their hard work, both before and during my visit. I thank the representatives of the mass media for the efforts they have made to give ample coverage to this pilgrimage. My expressions of appreciation and gratitude are also extended to the services of public order, to the army, the police, the fire brigade, the healthcare teams and all those who have helped to make such a success of the Pope’s encounter with Poland and its inhabitants.
I would like to conclude my visit with the words of the Apostle Paul which have accompanied my pilgrimage in Polish territory: "Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love" (1Co 16,13-14). My blessing upon you all!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have the joy of joining you at the end of this evocative Marian Prayer Meeting. In this way, in front of the Lourdes Grotto in the Vatican Gardens, we end the month of May in this year marked by the reception of the image of Our Lady of Fatima in St Peter's Square on the 25th anniversary of the attack on beloved John Paul II.
This year is also notable for the Apostolic Journey that the Lord granted me to make to Poland, where I was able to visit the places dear to my great Predecessor.
Concerning this Pilgrimage, of which I spoke this morning at the General Audience (see page 11), I now recall in particular my Visit to the Shrine of Jasna Góra in Czestochowa, where I understood even better how closely our heavenly Advocate accompanies the journey of her children, and that she does not leave unheard supplications addressed to her with humility and trust.
I would like to thank her once again, with you, for having accompanied me during my Visit to the beloved Land of Poland.
I would also like to express to Mary my gratitude for the support she offers me in my daily service to the Church. I know that I can count on her help in every situation; indeed, I know that she foresees with maternal intuition all her children's needs and intervenes effectively to sustain them: this has been the experience of the Christian people ever since its first steps in Jerusalem.
On today's Feast of the Visitation, as in every passage of the Gospel, we see Mary docile to the divine plan and with an attitude of provident love for the brethren. In fact, the humble maiden from Nazareth, still amazed at what the Angel Gabriel had announced to her - that is, that she would be the mother of the promised Messiah -, learned that in her old age her elderly kinswoman Elizabeth had also conceived a son.
She immediately set out with haste for the house of her cousin, the Evangelist notes (cf. Lc 1,39), to offer her help at a time of special need.
How can we fail to see that the hidden protagonist in the meeting between the young Mary and the by-then elderly Elizabeth is Jesus?
Mary bears him in her womb as in a sacred tabernacle and offers him as the greatest gift to Zechariah, to Elizabeth, his wife, and also to the infant developing in her womb. "Behold", the Mother of John the Baptist says, "when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy" (Lc 1,44).
Whoever opens his or her heart to the Mother encounters and welcomes the Son and is pervaded by his joy. True Marian devotion never obscures or diminishes faith and love for Jesus Christ Our Saviour, the one Mediator between God and humankind.
On the contrary, entrustment to Our Lady is a privileged path, tested by numerous saints, for a more faithful following of the Lord. Consequently, let us entrust ourselves to her with filial abandonment!
With these sentiments I cordially greet each one of you, Your Eminences, venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, and also you, dear men and women, dear lay faithful who have not wished to miss this annual appointment at the end of May.
I would especially like to commend to your prayers the Vigil that will be held in St Peter's Square this coming Saturday evening with the Movements and the new secular Communities. These are promising associations that have blossomed in the Church since the Second Vatican Council.
May the motherly intercession of the Queen of Saints obtain for all Christ's disciples the gift of an unwavering faith and an unswerving Gospel witness.
I impart my Blessing to you all and willingly extend it to your loved ones and especially to the sick, the elderly and all who are experiencing difficulty.
Dear and Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
I offer to you all, members of the 11th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a fraternal greeting, which I express in particular to Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, General Secretary, to whom I am also grateful for having interpreted your sentiments.
Your presence reminds me of the Synodal Assembly meeting on the theme "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church", which was celebrated in Autumn 2005. I now warmly thank you for the work you are doing, sorting and putting in order the proposals that emerged at this last Synodal Assembly.
Today's Meeting is also a favourable opportunity to shed light once again on the importance of charity in the activity of the Church's Pastors.
I have to say that during their ad limina visits various Bishops frequently ask me: "But when will the Post-Synodal text be ready?". And I reply: "They are working on it. And they certainly cannot take much longer".
I see gathered here so many competent people that I can only hope that I shall soon see and be able myself to learn from this text, which can then be published for the benefit of the whole Church that is eagerly expecting it.
Est amoris officium pascere dominicum gregem: still today this wonderful intuition of the Bishop Augustine (In ev. Jo. 123, 5: PL 35, 1967) is a great encouragement to us Bishops, committed to the care of the flock that does not belong to us but to the Lord. In fulfilling his mandate, we seek to protect his flock, to feed it and to lead it to him, the true Good Shepherd, who wishes the salvation of all.
Feeding the Lord's flock, therefore, is a ministry of vigilant love that demands our total dedication, to the last drop of energy and, if necessary, the sacrifice of our lives.
It is above all the Eucharist which is the source and secret of the ongoing dynamism of our mission. In fact, in his ecclesial life, the Bishop is configured to the image of Christ, who nourishes us with his Flesh and Blood. From the Eucharist the Pastor draws the power to exercise that special pastoral charity which consists in dispensing the food of truth to the Christian people.
And this text which is being drafted will be one such intervention to nourish the People of God with the food of the truth, to help them grow in truth and especially to make known the mystery of the Eucharist and invite them to an intense Eucharistic life.
In particular, if we speak of the truth, the truth about Love cannot be disregarded because it is the very essence of God. Preaching it from the rooftops (cf. Mt 10,27) is not only amoris officium, but a necessary message for human beings in every epoch.
The truth about Gospel love concerns every person and the whole person, and involves the Pastor in proclaiming it without fear or reticence, and never yielding to the conditioning of the world in season and out of season (cf. II Tm 4: 2).
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, in a time such as our own, marked by the growing phenomenon of globalization, it is ever more necessary to make the truth about Christ and his Gospel of salvation reach everyone.
There are countless fields in which to proclaim and witness lovingly to the truth; multitudes are thirsting for it and cannot be allowed to waste away in search of food (cf. Lam Lm 4,4).
This is our mission, venerable and dear Brothers! May the Spirit of the Lord, whom we are preparing to welcome on the upcoming Solemnity of Pentecost, be poured out upon you through the intercession of Mary, and make you Pastors ever more open to the needs of God's Heart. With these sentiments I bless you all and all those who are entrusted to your pastoral care.
I am pleased to greet the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome for the five-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Vatican Museums.
At the same time, I thank you for your continuing interest, which is motivated not only by a sense of stewardship for the incomparable cultural patrimony of the Vatican Museums, but also by a generous commitment to the Church’s evangelizing mission. In every age Christians have sought to give expression to faith’s vision of the beauty and order of God’s creation, the nobility of our vocation as men and women made in his image and likeness, and the promise of a cosmos redeemed and transfigured by the grace of Christ. The artistic treasures which surround us are not simply impressive monuments of a distant past. Rather, for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who contemplate them year after year, they stand as a perennial witness to the Church’s unchanging faith in the Triune God who, in the memorable phrase of Saint Augustine, is himself "Beauty ever ancient, ever new" (Confessions, X, 27).
Dear friends, may your support of the Vatican Museums bear abundant spiritual fruits in your own lives and advance the Church’s mission of bringing all people to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, "the image of the invisible God" (Col 1,15), in whose Eternal Spirit all creation is reconciled, restored and renewed. To you, your families and associates, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of enduring joy and peace in the Lord.
Vatican's Consistory Hall
Dear Students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy,
I am pleased to meet you today and to address to each one of you and to your entire community my cordial greeting, which I extend in the first place to your President, Archbishop Justo Mullor García. I thank him for kindly interpreting your devout and filial sentiments just now.
Your visit gives me the opportunity to express to you the attention with which I am following your Academy: in it you are preparing with commitment and dedication to exercise in a special way the priestly ministry which service to the Holy See implies.
It is an important service because it aims to extend to the particular Churches and nations of the whole world the witness of the Successor of Peter's concern.
Dear students, to prepare yourselves properly for the mission that awaits you, you are called first of all to be a community of prayer, in which the relationship with God is constant, faithful and intense, and becomes for each one the life-giving sap of his entire existence.
May the Eucharist you celebrate daily be the vital centre, source and root of your every activity in these years and in the future, when you will be exercising your priestly ministry at the service of the Holy See in the different countries.
Indeed, your action will be effective to the extent that you strive to be witnesses of Christ, the Truth that illumines and directs the peoples on their way. Therefore, make yourselves messengers of his Gospel of love, capable of renewing hearts and making coexistence within every society fully human. Only if you are faithful to your vocation will you be able to render a valid service to the Apostolic See.
Your Academy wishes to continue to be both a school of prayer and a training ground for authentic human and theological formation. The pastoral ministry for which you are preparing requires careful training with specific skills. Today, more than ever, a solid education is indispensable. In addition to the necessary theological formation, it must provide a deeper knowledge of the perennial doctrine of the Church and the guidelines of the Holy See's activity at the ecclesial and international levels.
May you treasure the educational opportunities that are offered to you during this period of learning, and continue in the future to update yourselves constantly through a personal and serious commitment to study.
Your Academy now has a 300-year-old history, and following in the wake of its past must continue to be a place of communion.
The possibility of living in Rome, where the catholicity of the Church is uniquely experienced, and the fact that you come from different continents is a precious opportunity to foster the spirit of unity and communion.
In the future, you will have the opportunity of coming into contact with peoples whose languages and civilizations differ; you will exercise your priestly ministry in particular Churches that are often culturally different from the ones from which you come.
Consequently, you must be able to understand, love, support and encourage every Christian community in order everywhere to be faithful servants of Peter's charism, which is a charism of unity and coherence for the entire ecclesial company. You are therefore rightly inspired to spend your stay at the Academy in a spirit of true priestly brotherhood, so as to develop the pastoral sense of communion and unity.
Thus, always open the horizons of your mind and heart to the universality of the Church, to overcome every temptation of particularism and individualism.
Lastly, in the course of your formation may you not lack a filial and genuine devotion to the Virgin Mary. May she be the one who helps you to grow in love for Christ and for the Church and always to strive for holiness, the supreme and indispensable aspiration of our Christian and priestly life.
With these sentiments and wishes, I invoke upon you an abundance of the Holy Spirit's gifts, while I affectionately impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Today, I am pleased to meet in the Vatican with the personnel of the Catholic daily, Avvenire, of the television channel, Sat2000, of the radio broadcasting station InBlu, and of the press agency, Sir.
This is a very important group in the media connected with the Italian Bishops' Conference, which is represented here by its President, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, to whom I first extend my respectful greeting.
I then greet with affection each one of you, and I thank the Director of Avvenire and of Sat2000 for the kind words on behalf of everyone present.
Dear friends, you carry out a truly important role: your contribution, in fact, gives continuity to the commitment of Italian Catholics to bring Christ's Gospel to the life of the Nation.
I am pleased to remember, in fact, that in the years immediately following the Council, Paul VI strongly desired that Avvenire be founded as the national Catholic newspaper. It was a courageous decision to then extend your commitment to the field of radio and television broadcasting, using the most modern technologies as the conciliar Decree Inter Mirifica had hoped (cf. nn. 13-14).
You have thus become one of the instruments for the dissemination of the Christian message in Italy.
Faith and culture
To grasp the overall significance of the work to which you dedicate yourselves every day, it might be helpful to reflect briefly on the relations between faith and culture as they have developed in recent decades.
As you know well, Christianity helped to shape European culture down the centuries.
With the advent of Illuminism, Western culture began to drift more and more swiftly away from its Christian foundations. Especially in the most recent period, the break-up of the family and of marriage, attacks on human life and its dignity, the reduction of faith to a subjective experience and the consequent secularization of public awareness are seen as the stark and dramatic consequences of this distancing.
Yet, in various parts of Europe experiences and forms of Christian culture exist that are growing stronger or re-emerging with increased vitality. In particular, the Catholic faith is still substantially present in the life of the Italian People, and the signs of its renewed vitality are visible to all.
In your work as communicators inspired by the Gospel, constant discernment is therefore essential.
As you know well, the Pastors of the Church in Italy are anxious to preserve those Christian forms that derive from the great tradition of the Italian People and mould community life, bringing them up to date, purifying them where necessary, but above all reinforcing and encouraging them.
It is also your task to sustain and promote the new Christian experiences that are being born, and to help them to develop an ever clearer awareness of their own ecclesial roots and of the role that they can play in the society and culture of Italy.
All this, dear friends, is part of your daily labour, of a task that must not be carried out in an abstract or purely intellectual way, but with attention to the thousands of aspects of the practical life of a people, its problems, its needs and its hopes.
May the certainty that the Christian faith is open to "whatever is true, honourable, just, pure, lovely, gracious" in the culture of peoples, as the Apostle Paul taught the Philippians (cf. 4: 8), sustain you and give you courage in your labours.
Thus, continue in your work with this spirit and this attitude, bearing a shining witness of a profoundly Christian life and consequently remaining tenaciously united to Christ, so that you can look at the world with his own eyes.
Be happy to belong to the Church and to add your voice and your reasoning to the great communications circuit. Never grow weary of building bridges of understanding and communication between the ecclesial experience and public opinion. In this way you will be protagonists of a form of communication that is not evasive but friendly to the service of our contemporaries.
I warmly hope that Catholics and all Italians desirous of authentic values will give their attention and support to this communication.
For my part, I assure you of my constant closeness, and in order that your work may bear ever more abundant fruit, I impart with affection to you and your families the Apostolic Blessing, which favours the light and strength that only God can instil in the hearts of his children.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to be with you once again to introduce with my Reflection our Diocesan Convention, which is dedicated to a theme of great beauty and paramount pastoral importance: the joy that derives from faith and its relationship with the education of the new generations.
Thus, in a perspective that more directly concerns the young, we are returning to and further developing the subject we began discussing a year ago on the occasion of the previous Diocesan Convention. We then focused on the role of the family and of the Christian community in the formation of the person and the transmission of faith.
I greet each one of you with affection, Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious and lay people engaged in witnessing to our faith. In particular, I greet you young people who are planning to combine the process of your personal formation with taking on ecclesial and missionary responsibility for other young people and children. I warmly thank the Cardinal Vicar for his words on behalf of you all.
With this Convention and with the pastoral year that will be inspired by its content, the Diocese of Rome is journeying on through the long period that began 10 years ago now with the City Mission desired by John Paul II, my beloved Predecessor.
Actually, its goal is still the same: to revive the faith in our communities and seek to reawaken or inspire it in all the individuals and families of this great city, where the faith was preached and the Church already established by the first generation of Christians, and the Apostles Peter and Paul in particular.
In the past three years you have focused your attention especially on the family in order to consolidate this fundamental human reality with the Gospel truth - today, unfortunately, seriously undermined and threatened - and to help it carry out its indispensable mission in the Church and in society.
The priority we are now giving to the education in the faith of the new generations does not mean that we are abandoning our commitment to the family, which is primarily responsible for education.
Rather, we are responding to the widespread concern of many believing families, who fear, in today's social and cultural context, that they might not succeed in passing on to their children the precious heritage of the faith.
In fact, discovering the beauty and joy of faith is a path that every new generation must take on its own, for all that we have that is most our own and most intimate is staked on faith: our heart, our mind, our freedom, in a deeply personal relationship with the Lord at work within us.
Just as radically, however, faith is a community act and attitude; it is the "we believe" of the Church.
Thus, the joy of faith is a joy shared: as the Apostle John says: "that which we have seen and heard [the Word of life] we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us.... And we are writing this that our joy may be complete" (1Jn 3,4).
Consequently, educating the new generations in the faith is an important and fundamental task that involves the entire Christian community.
Dear brothers and sisters, today you have experienced how various aspects of this educational task have become very difficult, but for this very reason it is even more important and especially urgent.
Indeed, it is possible to identify two basic lines of our current secularized society that are clearly interdependent. They impel people to move away from the Christian proclamation and cannot but have an effect on those whose inclinations and choices of life are developing.
One of these is agnosticism, which derives from the reduction of human intelligence to a mere practical mechanism that tends to stifle the religious sense engraved in the depths of our nature.
The other is the process of relativization and uprooting, which corrodes the most sacred bonds and most worthy affections of the human being, with the result that people are debilitated and our reciprocal relations rendered precarious and unstable.
It is in this very situation that all of us, and especially our children, adolescents and young people, need to live faith as joy and to savour that profound tranquillity to which the encounter with the Lord gives rise.
In the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I wrote: "We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (n. 1).
The source of Christian joy is the certainty of being loved by God, loved personally by our Creator, by the One who holds the entire universe in his hands and loves each one of us and the whole great human family with a passionate and faithful love, a love greater than our infidelities and sins, a love which forgives.
This love "is so great that it turns God against himself", as appears definitively in the mystery of the Cross: "So great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love" (Deus Caritas Est ).
Dear brothers and sisters, this certitude and this joy of being loved by God must be conveyed in some palpable and practical way to each one of us, and especially to the young generations who are entering the world of faith. In other words: Jesus said he was the "Way" that leads to the Father, as well as the "Truth" and the "Life" (cf. Jn 14,5-7).
Thus, the question is: how can our children and young people, practically and existentially, find in him this path of salvation and joy? This is precisely the great mission for which the Church exists - as the family of God and the company of friends into which we are already integrated with Baptism as tiny children -, in which our faith and joy and the certainty of being loved by the Lord must grow.
It is therefore indispensable - and this is the task entrusted to Christian families, priests, catechists and educators, to young people themselves among their peers and to our parishes, associations and movements, and lastly to the entire diocesan community - that the new generations experience the Church as a company of friends who are truly dependable and close in all life's moments and circumstances, whether joyful and gratifying or arduous and obscure; as a company that will never fail us, not even in death, for it carries within it the promise of eternity.
Dear children and young people of Rome, I would like to ask you in turn to entrust yourselves to the Church and to love and trust her, because in her the Lord is present and because she seeks nothing but your true good.
Anyone who knows he is loved is in turn prompted to love. It is the Lord himself, who loved us first, who asks us to place at the centre of our lives love for him and for the people he has loved.
It is especially adolescents and young people, who feel within them the pressing call to love, who need to be freed from the widespread prejudice that Christianity, with its commandments and prohibitions, sets too many obstacles in the path of the joy of love and, in particular, prevents people from fully enjoying the happiness that men and women find in their love for one another.
On the contrary, Christian faith and ethics do not wish to stifle love but to make it healthy, strong and truly free: this is the exact meaning of the Ten Commandments, which are not a series of "noes" but a great "yes" to love and to life.
Human love, in fact, needs to be purified, to mature and also to surpass itself if it is to be able to become fully human, to be the beginning of true and lasting joy, to respond, that is, to the question of eternity which it bears within it and which it cannot renounce without betraying itself.
This is the principal reason why love between a man and a woman is only completely fulfilled in marriage.
In all educational work, in the formation of the person and of the Christian, we must not shelve the important issue of love through fear or embarrassment: were we to do so, we would present a disembodied Christianity that could not seriously interest the young person who is opening himself or herself to life.
Yet we must also introduce this young person to the integral dimension of Christian love, where love for God and love for man are indissolubly united, and where love of neighbour is a particularly concrete commitment.
Christians cannot be satisfied with words or deceptive ideologies but must go to meet the needs of their brethren, truly offering themselves without being content with some sporadic good deed.
Proposing to children a practical experience of service to their needier neighbour is therefore part of an authentic and complete education in the faith.
Together with the need to love, the desire for truth is inherent in the human being's very nature.
Therefore, in the education of the new generations, the question of the truth can certainly not be avoided: on the contrary, it must have a central position.
By asking the question about the truth, we are in fact broadening the horizon of our rationality, we are beginning to free reason from those excessively narrow boundaries that confine it when we consider as rational only what can be the object of experimentation or calculation.
It is here that the encounter between reason and faith takes place. In fact, through faith we accept the gift that God makes of himself in revealing himself to us, creatures made in his image. We welcome and accept that Truth which our minds cannot fully comprehend or possess but which, for this very reason, extends the horizon of our knowledge and enables us to arrive at the Mystery in which we are immersed, and to find in God the definitive meaning of our lives.
Dear friends, we know well that it is not easy to agree to overcome the limits of our reason in this way. Faith, therefore, which is a very personal human act, remains a choice of our freedom which can also be rejected.
Here, however, a second dimension of faith comes to light, the entrustment of oneself to a person, not just any person but Jesus Christ, and to the Father who sent him.
Believing means creating a very personal bond with our Creator and Redeemer, by virtue of the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts, and making this bond the foundation of our whole lives.
Indeed, Jesus Christ "is the Personified Truth who attracts the world to himself.... Every other truth is a fragment of the Truth that he is, and refers to him" (Address to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, CDF 10 February 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 22 February 2006, p. 3).
Thus, he fills our hearts, enlarging and overwhelming them with joy, extending our minds toward unexplored horizons, offering our freedom its crucial reference point, uplifting it from the narrowness of selfishness and making it capable of authentic love.
In educating the new generations, therefore, we must not have any fears about confronting the truth of the faith with the authentic conquests of human knowledge. Science is making very rapid progress today and all too often this is presented as being in contradiction to the affirmations of faith, causing confusion and making the acceptance of the Christian truth more difficult.
But Jesus Christ is and remains the Lord of all creation and of all history: "All things were created through him and for him... in him all things hold together" (Col 1,16).
Therefore, if the dialogue between faith and reason is conducted with sincerity and exactness, it offers a possibility of perceiving more effectively and more convincingly the reasonableness of faith in God - not just in any God but in that God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ -, and likewise of showing that every authentic human aspiration is fulfilled in Jesus Christ himself.
Dear young people of Rome, press forward, therefore, with trust and courage on the way of the search for the truth. And you, dear priests and educators, do not hesitate to promote a true and proper "pastoral care of the mind" - and more widely, of the person - that takes young peoples' questions seriously, both existential questions and those that arise from comparison with the forms of rationality widespread today, in order to help them find valid and pertinent Christian answers, and lastly, to make their own that decisive response which is Christ the Lord.
We have spoken of faith as an encounter with the One who is Truth and Love. We have also seen that this is an encounter which is both communitarian and personal, and must take place in all the dimensions of our lives through the exercise of our intelligence, the choices of freedom, the service of love.
A privileged place exists, however, where this encounter takes place more directly. Here it is reinforced and deepened and thus can truly permeate and mark the whole of life: this space is prayer.
Dear young people, I am sure that many of you were present at the World Youth Day in Cologne. There, together, we prayed to the Lord, we adored him present in the Eucharist, we offered his Holy Sacrifice.
We meditated on that decisive act of love with which Jesus at the Last Supper anticipated his own death, accepted it in his inmost depths and transformed it into an action of love, into that unique revolution which can truly renew the world and liberate humanity, overcoming the power of sin and death. I ask you young people and all of you who are here, dear brothers and sisters, I ask the whole of the beloved Church of Rome, in particular consecrated souls especially in the cloistered monasteries, to be assiduous in prayer, spiritually united with Mary our Mother, to worship Christ alive in the Eucharist, to fall ever more deeply in love with him. He is our brother and our true friend, the Church's Bridegroom, the faithful and merciful God who loved us first.
Thus, you young people will be ready and willing to answer his call if he wants you entirely for himself in the priesthood or the consecrated life.
To the extent that we nourish ourselves on Christ and are in love with him, we feel within us the incentive to bring others to him: indeed, we cannot keep the joy of the faith to ourselves; we must pass it on.
This need becomes even stronger and more pressing in the context of that strange forgetfulness of God which has spread in vast areas of the world today and to a certain extent also exists here in Rome. This forgetfulness is giving rise to a lot of fleeting chatter, to many useless arguments, but also to great dissatisfaction and a sense of emptiness.
Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, in our humble service as witnesses and missionaries of the living God, we must be everywhere messengers of that hope which is born from the certitude of the faith: we will thus help our brethren and our fellow citizens to rediscover the meaning and joy of their own lives.
I know that you are working with dedication in the beloved contexts of pastoral care: I am delighted, and I thank the Lord with you.
In the first year of my Pontificate, I have been able in particular to experience and appreciate the liveliness of the Christian presence among the young people and university students of Rome, and among the children receiving First Communion. I ask you to continue with trust, ever deepening your bond with the Lord, hence, making your apostolate more and more effective.
In this commitment, do not overlook any of life's dimensions, because Christ has come to save the whole of the person, in the intimacy of consciences as well as in the expressions of culture and social relations.
Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust these reflections to you with a friendly heart, as a contribution to your work during the evenings of the Convention and then during the coming Pastoral Year. May my affection and Blessing accompany you, today and in the future.
Thank you for your attention!
With the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul now close at hand, it is a pleasure for me to meet you, together with your families. Your visit today enables me to renew my gratitude to you for your many years of service to the Successor of Peter. I greet you all with affection, as I thank your President who has kindly interpreted your common sentiments.
Your Sts Peter and Paul Association, which in 1970 inherited the legacy of the Palatine Guard, carries out with dedication a voluntary service to the Holy See. The three practical sections of which it is composed - I am referring to the liturgical, charitable and cultural sections - reflect three complementary aspects of the life and action of the ecclesial community.
In the first place, it is important for you to take care of the liturgy, which, as the Second Vatican Council teaches: "daily builds up those who are in the Church... into a holy temple of the Lord ... to the mature measure of the fullness of Christ. At the same time it marvellously increases their power to preach Christ" (Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 2).
May an intense life of prayer and assiduous participation in the liturgy continue to be your priority commitment, as individuals and as a sodality.
Dear friends, only if we let ourselves be constantly formed in listening to the Word of God and nourish ourselves regularly with the Body and Blood of Christ, can we pass on to others the love of God which is a gift of the Holy Spirit. In the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I wanted to recall that love of neighbour, grounded in the love of God, is first and foremost a responsibility for each individual member of the faithful, but it is also a responsibility for the entire ecclesial community at every level (cf. n. 20).
You seek to witness to this love for the poor at the meals at the "Dono di Maria" House and in the paediatric medical centre of Santa Marta, as well as in the social initiatives promoted in your parishes. May charity motivate all your activities. May the exhortation that the Apostle Paul addressed to the Colossians, "above all these put on love which binds everything together in perfect harmony" (Col 3,14), be your rule for life.
No less important is the attention you wish to pay to an appropriate cultural formation in order to mature in the faith. Today, evangelization requires a responsible knowledge of modern cultural situations and a constant deepening of sound Catholic teaching. Thus, you do well, dear friends, not to ignore this aspect either, and I encourage you to continue on the rewarding path on which you have already set out.
You came into being to be at the service of the Successor of Peter, and I thank you for the generosity with which you carry out this task. May the Lord make it ever more fruitful and, with the power of his Spirit, may he make you his authentic disciples.
May the Virgin Mary, Virgo Fidelis, whose image you venerate in your chapel, protect and accompany you always. I assure you of my prayers and with affection I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all, willingly extending it to your families and your loved ones.
Clementine Hall Thursday, 22 June 2006
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,
I welcome you with joy and greet you with affection. I cordially thank Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, who has expressed your common sentiments. I extend my greetings to the Secretary, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliň, to the Collaborators of the Dicastery, to the other Prelates from the beloved Churches of the Holy Land and other Middle Eastern regions, as well as to the directors and friends of each of the Agencies represented here.
I thank you, dear friends of ROACO, for your service since 1968, giving a voice to the Churches of the different Oriental and Latin traditions in the territories entrusted to the competence of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, supporting their activities of pastoral care, education and social assistance, and meeting their urgent needs. You have always been guided by an evangelical inspiration and an outstanding ecclesial sensitivity that stems from the bond that exists between you and the Successor of Peter.
Today's meeting gives me the pleasant opportunity to thank God, the provident and merciful Father, for the apostolic action carried out in these past years by the disciples of Christ in the Middle East, committed to witnessing with brotherly concern to the Gospel of peace and love, even among the many difficulties.
I am also grateful for your tireless efforts to preserve the special character of charitable activity in the Church. Continue to encourage the "formation of the heart" in the educators and charity workers who receive your help so that they will be led, as I wrote in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, "to that encounter with God in Christ which awakens their love and opens their spirits to others. As a result, love of neighbour will no longer be for them a commandment imposed, so to speak, from without, but a consequence deriving from their faith, a faith which becomes active through love" (n. 31).
I turn my thought with affection to the venerable Oriental Catholic Communities and in the first place to those of the Holy Land, to which you dedicate constant attention. It is the desire of all Christians to be able always to find a lively Christian community in the Land of Our Redeemer's birth. The serious difficulties they are experiencing because of the atmosphere of oppressive insecurity, the lack of employment, the countless restrictions with the consequent increase in poverty, are a cause of suffering to us all.
This situation makes equally uncertain the educational, professional and family future of the young generations who are, unfortunately, strongly tempted to leave the beloved Land of their birth forever. This is also happening in other areas of the Middle East, such as Iraq and Iran, which providently benefit from your generous consideration.
How are such grave problems to be faced? Our first and fundamental duty is to persevere in trusting prayer to the Lord, who never abandons his children in time of trial. This should be combined with an active fraternal concern that is capable of finding ever new and at times unhoped for ways to meet those peoples' needs.
I address an invitation to the pastors and faithful and to all who have roles of responsibility in the civil community to foster mutual respect among the cultures and religions, so that conditions for a serene and peaceful coexistence may be created as soon as possible in all the regions of the Middle East.
To this end, I assure you of my daily remembrance to the Lord, and I invoke the protection of Mary, Mother of God, upon each one of you, dear friends of ROACO, upon all those who are dear to you, and upon the praiseworthy institutions you represent. May God make your activity fruitful. I accompany these sentiments with a special Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly impart to you who are present here and to all your loved ones.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Thank you for your pleasant visit. You have come from the peaceful lands of the Baltic ad limina Apostolorum, to strengthen your communion with the Successor of Peter and to bring him the cordial greeting of those entrusted to your pastoral care. I extend my grateful thoughts to each one of you, addressed first of all to Cardinal Janis Pujats, Archbishop of Riga, and to Archbishop Sigitas Tamkevicius, Metropolitan Archbishop of Kaunas.
They have expressed sentiments of convinced attachment to the ministry of the Bishop of Rome on your behalf and on behalf of your diocesan Communities, to which I assure my remembrance in prayer. In the past few days I have listened to and shared with attention what each one of you personally wished to point out to me concerning the functioning of his own Diocese, the generous commitment of the priests, the hope of the lay people and the direction in which civil society is moving.
As I thank you for your spontaneous trust, in a spirit of collegial co-responsibility for the People of God, I encourage you to discern the seeds of good that God has sown in your Communities in order to carry out an increasingly convinced, courageous and tireless missionary action.
Among the many topics I would like to discuss with you, I will reflect today on one of great importance even in your countries: the family. Side by side with exemplary families, there are often others that are unfortunately marked by the frailty of conjugal bonds, the scourge of abortion and the demographic crisis, little attention to teaching authentic values to the children, the precariousness of employment, social mobility that weakens relations between the generations and a growing sense of inner bewilderment among the young people.
A modernity that is not rooted in authentic human values is destined to be dominated by the tyranny of instability and confusion. For this reason, every Ecclesial Community, rich in its faith and supported by God's grace, is called to be a reference point and to enter into dialogue with the Community of which it is an integral part.
The Church, teacher of life, draws from natural law and the Word of God those principles which indicate the indispensable foundations on which to build the family according to the Creator's plan. Dear and venerable Brothers, never tire of always being courageous defenders of life and of the family; persevere in the efforts you have undertaken for the human and religious formation of engaged couples and young families. This is a highly deserving task which I hope will also be appreciated and supported by the institutions of civil society.
The duty of guiding the People of God, of protecting it, defending it and training it in truth and love, is entrusted to you as Pastors. Christ, the Supreme High Priest, is its true Head and, as the Second Vatican Council teaches, he is present among believers in the person of the Bishops, assisted by the priests (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 21).
"Just as... St Peter and the rest of the Apostles constitute a unique apostolic college, so in like fashion the Roman Pontiff, Peter's Successor, and the Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, are related with and united to one another" (ibid., n. 22). The Bishops placed in charge of the particular Churches "exercise their pastoral office over the portion of the People of God assigned to them, not over other Churches nor the Church universal" (ibid., n. 23).
It is important, therefore, that an affective and effective collegiality between the Successor of Peter and all the Pastors be reinforced with full respect for the ministry of each one. Thus, as a well-structured, harmonious body, the People of God can grow in holiness and in missionary vitality, thanks to the contribution of each one of its members.
Venerable Brothers, tirelessly foster communion among yourselves and within each one of your Dioceses, making the most of the contribution of all. Love the priests, your first collaborators who are co-responsible for pastoral care, and give them spiritual and if necessary also material support.
The better able they are to have at their disposal the indispensable guarantees for a dignified living standard, the more serenely they will be able to dedicate themselves to the pastoral ministry entrusted to them. See to their constant formation, also with renewal courses that help them to deepen their knowledge of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and to appreciate the rich content of the liturgical texts and documents of the Church translated into your respective languages.
Nurture missionary zeal in them so that they will proclaim and witness with joy and enthusiasm to the Good News. May every priest be like the "apple of the Bishop's eye", always followed with fatherly affection and esteem. If priests are enlivened by trust and an authentic Gospel spirit, they will be able to accompany effectively the promising reawakening of lay people, already active in your ecclesiastical district area.
Venerable Brothers, I know that you appropriately combine with concern for your priests another important preoccupation: vocations and the formation of seminarians and aspirants to the consecrated life. The secularized mindset that has also burst into your Communities is increasingly discouraging young men from responding positively to Christ's invitation to follow him more closely, and for this reason you should promote an attentive youth and vocations ministry. Do not hesitate to propose explicitly to youth the Gospel ideal, the beauty of the sequela Christi sine glossa without compromises; help all who set out on the path of the priesthood and the consecrated life to respond generously to the Lord Jesus, who never ceases to look lovingly upon his Church and upon humanity.
As for seminarians, ensure that they have formation teachers endowed with a solid humanity and deep piety and who are open to dialogue and collaboration, teachers faithful to the teaching of the Magisterium and credible Gospel witnesses.
Venerable Brothers, the Lord has chosen you to work in his vineyard in a society that only recently emerged from the sad winter of persecution. While the wounds that Communism inflicted on your peoples have not yet completely healed, the influence of a secularism that exalts the mirages of consumerism and makes man the measure of himself is growing. All this makes your pastoral action even more difficult, but without losing confidence, persevere tirelessly in proclaiming the Gospel of Christ, the word of salvation for the people of every epoch and every culture.
The Gospel does not humiliate human freedom and authentic social progress; on the contrary, it helps human beings to fulfil themselves completely and renews society through the gentle and exacting law of love.
May the powerful intercession of Mary, our heavenly Mother, sustain you in your mission and may the example of the martyrs who remained faithful to Christ during the terrible persecutions of past times be an encouragement to you. I assure you of my fraternal and prayerful closeness, as I warmly bless you, the priests, the men and women religious and all the lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.
Speeches 2005-13 28156