Speeches 2005-13 16158
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the Study Seminar convoked by the Pontifical Council for the Laity to reflect on the pastoral care of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities. I thank the many Prelates from every part of the world who have graced the Seminar with their presence: their interest and lively participation have guaranteed the successful outcome of this session which has now reached its last day. I address to all my Brothers in the Episcopate and to everyone present a cordial greeting of communion and peace; in particular, I greet Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishop Josef Clemens, respectively President and Secretary of the Dicastery, and their collaborators.
It is not the first time that the Council for the Laity has organized a Seminar for Bishops on lay movements. I well remember that of 1999, the ideal follow-up of the Meeting of my Beloved Predecessor John Paul II with the Movements and New Communities, held on 30 May in the previous year. As Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith I was involved in the discussion in the first person. I was able to establish a direct dialogue with the Bishops, a frank, brotherly exchange on a great number of important matters. Today's Seminar, in a similar fashion, is intended as a follow-up to the Meeting I myself had on 3 June 2006 with a large group of the faithful representing more than 100 new lay associations. On that occasion, I indicated that the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities and their experience are a "luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and of the Church, his Bride" (cf. Message to the participants at the Congress, held on 22 May 2006). In addressing the "dear friends of the Movements", I urged them to be increasingly "schools of communion, groups journeying on, in which one learns to live in the truth and love that Christ revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the Apostles, in the heart of the great family of his disciples" (ibid.).
The Ecclesial Movements and New Communities are one of the most important innovations inspired by the Holy Spirit in the Church for the implementation of the Second Vatican Council. They spread in the wake of the Council sessions especially in the years that immediately followed it, in a period full of exciting promises but also marked by difficult trials. Paul VI and John Paul II were able to welcome and discern, to encourage and promote the unexpected explosion of the new lay realties which in various and surprising forms have restored vitality, faith and hope to the whole Church. Indeed, even then they were already bearing witness to the joy, reasonableness and beauty of being Christian, showing that they were grateful for belonging to the mystery of communion which is the Church. We have witnessed the reawakening of a vigorous missionary impetus, motivated by the desire to communicate to all the precious experience of the encounter with Christ, felt and lived as the only adequate response to the human heart's profound thirst for truth and happiness.
How is it possible not to realize at the same time that such newness is still waiting to be properly understood in the light of God's plan and of the Church's mission in the context of our time? Precisely because numerous interventions, appeals and directions succeeded one another on the part of the Pontiffs, who were first to initiate ever deeper dialogue and collaboration with numerous particular Churches. Many prejudices, forms of resistance and tensions were overcome. The important task of promoting a more mature communion of all the ecclesial elements, so that all the charisms, with respect for their specificity, may freely and fully contribute to the edification of the one Body of Christ.
I deeply appreciated that for the Seminar you chose to follow-up a theme from the exhortation I addressed to a group of German Bishops on an ad limina visit, and which today I certainly address to all of you, the Pastors of so many particular Churches: "I... ask you to approach movements very lovingly" (18 November 2006). I could almost say that I have nothing else to add! Love is the distinctive sign of the Good Shepherd: it makes the exercise of the ministry that has been entrusted to us authoritative and effective. To meet the needs of the Movements and New Communities very lovingly, impels us to know their situation well, without superficial impressions or belittling judgements. It also helps us to understand that the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities are not an additional problem or risk that comes to top our already difficult task. No! they are a gift of the Lord, a valuable resource for enriching the entire Christian Community with their charisms. Consequently, trusting acceptance that makes room for them and appreciates their contributions to the life of the local Churches must not be absent. Difficulties or misunderstanding on specific questions do not authorize their closure. A "very loving" approach inspires prudence and patience. We Pastors are asked to accompany the Movements and the New Communities closely, with fatherly concern, cordially and wisely, so that they may generously make available for use by all, in an orderly and fruitful manner, the many gifts they bear, which we have learned to recognize and appreciate: missionary enthusiasm, effective courses of Christian formation, a witness of faithfulness and obedience to the Church, sensitivity to the needs of the poor and a wealth of vocations.
The authenticity of new charisms is guaranteed by their readiness to submit to the discernment of the Ecclesiastical Authority. Already numerous Ecclesial Movements and New Communities have been recognized by the Holy See and therefore should certainly be considered a gift of God for the whole Church. Others, in a nascent phase, require the exercise of even more sensitive and watchful guidance by the Pastors of the particular Churches. Those who are called to a service of discernment and guidance should not claim to dominate charisms but rather to guard against the danger of suffocating them (cf. 1Th 5,19-21), resisting the temptation to standardize what the Holy Spirit desired to be multi-form to contribute to building and extending the one Body of Christ, which the same Spirit renders firm in unity. Consecrated and assisted by the Spirit of God, in Christ, the Head of the Church, the Bishop must examine the charisms and test them, to recognize and appreciate what is good, true and beautiful, what contributes to the increase of holiness, of both individuals and communities. When correction is necessary, may it also be imparted with a "very loving" approach. The Movements and New Communities are proud of their associative freedom and faithfulness to their charism, but they have also shown that they are well aware that faithfulness and freedom are assured - and not, of course, limited - by ecclesial communion, whose ministers, custodians and guides are the Bishops, united to the Successor of Peter.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, at the end of this meeting I urge you to revive within you the gift you have received from your own consecration (cf. II Tm 1: 6). May the Spirit of God help us to recognize and preserve the marvels he himself inspires in the Church for the benefit of all men and women. I entrust to Mary Most Holy, Queen of Apostles, each one of your dioceses and, with all my heart, I impart to you an affectionate Apostolic Blessing which I extend to the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and all the lay faithful, and, today in particular, to the members of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities present in the Church and entrusted to your care.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am particularly pleased to meet all of you who are directly involved in the Pontifical Mission Societies, entities at the service of the Pope and the Bishops of the local Churches, which aim to carry out the missionary mandate to evangelize the peoples to the ends of the earth. I first address my cordial thanks to Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for his words on behalf of everyone present. I extend my greeting to the Secretary, and to all the Collaborators of the missionary Dicastery, priests, religious and lay people. Dear friends, it is thanks to your hard work that the affirmation of the Council, according to which "the whole Church by her nature is missionary", becomes an effective reality. The charism of the Pontifical Mission Societies is to encourage among Christians a passion for the Kingdom of God, to be established everywhere through the preaching of the Gospel. Having come into being with this universal outreach, they have been a precious instrument in the hands of my Predecessors who raised them to the rank of "Pontifical", recommending that the Bishops establish them in their dioceses. The Second Vatican Council rightly gave them "pride of place, since they are the means of imbuing Catholics from their very infancy with a genuinely universal and missionary outlook. They are also the means for undertaking an effective collection of funds to subsidize all missions, each according to its needs" (Ad Gentes AGD 38). The Council made a special examination of the nature and mission of the particular Church, recognizing her full dignity and missionary responsibility.
Mission is a task and duty of all Churches which, like communicating vessels, share people and resources in order to carry it out. Every local Church is the people chosen from among the peoples, convoked in the unity of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, to "proclaim the perfection of him who has called them out of darkness into his marvellous light" (Lumen Gentium LG 10). The local Church is the place where the Spirit makes himself manifest with the riches of his charisms, giving to each member of the faithful the call to, and responsibility for, mission. Hers is a mission of communion. The local Church counters with the generating power of unity of Christ's Body, the seeds of disintegration among men and women which daily experience shows to be so deeply rooted in humanity because of sin.
Pope John Paul joyfully affirmed that "there has been an increase of local Churches with their own Bishops, clergy and workers in the apostolate... communion between the Churches has led to a lively exchange of spiritual benefits and gifts.... Above all, there is a new awareness that missionary activity is a matter for all Christians, for all dioceses and parishes, Church institutions and associations" (Redemptoris Missio RMi 2). Thanks to the reflection that has developed in the past decades, the Pontifical Mission Societies have become integrated in the context of the new paradigms of evangelization and of the ecclesiological model of communion among the Churches. It is clear that they are Pontifical, but by right they are also episcopal, since they are instruments in the Bishops' hands for the implementation of Christ's missionary mandate. The Pontifical Mission Societies, "while they belong to the Pope, belong also to the whole Episcopate and to the whole People of God" (Paul VI, Message for World Mission Sunday, 20 October 1968; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 13 June 1968, p. 2). They are the specific, privileged and principal means for education in the universal missionary spirit, for communion and for inter-ecclesial collaboration in the service of Gospel proclamation (cf. Statutes, 18).
Moreover, in this phase of the Church's history, which is recognized by her missionary character, the charism and work of the Pontifical Mission Societies are not depleted, nor must they ever be lacking. The mission to evangelize humanity remains urgent and necessary. Mission is a duty, to which we must respond: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1Co 9,16). The Apostle Paul, to whom the Church is dedicating a special year in memory of the 2,000th anniversary of his birth, realized on the road to Damascus and then experienced in the course of his subsequent ministry that redemption and mission are acts of love. It is Christ's love that impelled him to travel the roads of the Roman Empire, to be a herald, apostle and town-crier of the Gospel (cf. 2Tm 2,1) and make himself all things to all people so that he might by all means save some (cf. 1Co 9,22). "He who announces the Gospel participates in the charity of Christ, who loved us and gave himself up for us (cf. Ep 5,2); he is his ambassador and he pleads in the name of Christ: let yourselves be reconciled with God! (cf. 2Co 5,20)", (Doctrinal Note on some aspects of evangelization, 3 December 2007, n. 11; ORE, 19 December 2007, p. 11). It is love that must impel us to proclaim to all people, with honesty and courage, the truth that saves (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 28). This love must shine everywhere and reach the hearts of every man and woman. Indeed, people are waiting for Christ.
Jesus' words, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Mt 28,19-20), are still an obligatory mandate for the whole Church and for every individual member of Christ's faithful. This apostolic task is a duty and also an inalienable right, an expression proper to religious freedom which has its corresponding social- and political-ethical dimensions (cf. Dignitatis Humanae DH 6). The Pontifical Mission Societies are asked to make the Missio ad Gentes the paradigm of all pastoral activity. It is their task, and in particular that of the Pontifical Missionary Union "to promote, that is, increasingly to disseminate among the Christian people the mystery of the Church, that is, this effective missionary spirit" (Paul VI Graves et Increscentes, 5 September 1966). I am sure that you will continue to work with all your enthusiasm to ensure that your local Churches assume ever more generously their share of responsibility in the universal mission.
My Blessing to all.
Mr Extraordinary Commissioner,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After praying at the foot of the Madonna della Guardia in the beautiful Shrine that overlooks the City, my first Meeting is with you, in this place of suffering and hope which was inaugurated on 15 May 1938, exactly 70 years ago. I embrace you, dearest children who are admitted to and cared for with attention and love in this Hospital, "a place of excellence" for paediatrics at the service of Genoa, Italy, and the entire Mediterranean area. Your spokesperson has expressed to me your sentiments of affection, which I warmly reciprocate and accompany with a special thought for your parents too. A cordial greeting to Mrs Marta Vincenzi, Mayor of Genoa, who has expressed the City's welcome. I greet Prof. Vincenzo Lorenzelli, Extraordinary Commissioner of the "Giannina Gaslini" Institute who has recalled this Hospital's aims and the future developments planned.
The Gaslini project was born in the heart of a generous benefactor, the industrialist and Senator Gerolamo Gaslini, who dedicated this institute to his daughter who died when she was only 12 years old. It is part of the history of charity which makes Genoa a "city of Christian charity". Today too, faith inspires in many people of good will acts of love and material support for this Institute, which, with justifiable pride, the Genoese regard as a precious patrimony. I thank you all and encourage you to continue. In particular, I rejoice at the new complex whose foundation stone was laid recently and which has found a munificent donor. The effective, cordial attention of the public Administration is also a sign of recognition for the social value of the Gaslini institute for the children of the City and beyond. Indeed, when a good is destined for all it deserves the contribution of all, with the proper respect for roles and competence.
I now address you, dear doctors, researchers, paramedical and administrative staff; and you, dear chaplains, volunteers and all who are involved in offering spiritual assistance to the small patients and their relatives. I know that you are unanimously committed to ensuring that the Gaslini Institute is an authentic "sanctuary of life" and a "sanctuary of the family", where workers in every sector combine loving attention for the person with their professionalism. The decision of the Founder, who held that the President of the Foundation must be the pro-tempore Archbishop of Genoa, expresses the wish that the Christian inspiration of the Institute may never be lacking and that everyone may always be sustained by the Gospel values.
In 1931, when he was laying the foundations of the structure, Senator Gerolamo Gaslini predicted "the perennial work of good that must shine out from the Institute itself". Hence your Hospital's aim is to radiate goodness through the loving care of sick children. Therefore, while I thank all the personnel - managerial, administrative and medical - for their professionalism and dedicated service, I express the hope that this excellent Paediatric Institute may continue to develop its technologies, treatments and services, but also to extend its horizons increasingly in that perspective of positive globalization for which resources, services and needs are recognized, creating and reinforcing a network of solidarity that is so urgently needed today. And all this must never lack that supplement of affection which the little patients feel to be as important as the indispensable treatment. The Hospital will then become ever more a place of hope.
Hope at the Gaslini institute is expressed in the care of paediatric patients, for whom help is provided through the continuous formation of health-care workers. In fact, as an esteemed Institute for scientific research and treatment, your Hospital is known for being monothematic and multifunctional, covering almost all the specializations in the paediatric sector. Hence the hope that is fostered here is well-founded. Yet, to face the future effectively, it is indispensable that this hope be sustained by a loftier vision of life that enables the scientist, the doctor, the professional, the nurse and the parents themselves to devote all their capacities, sparing no efforts to obtain the best results that science and technology can offer today at the level of prevention and treatment. Then comes the thought of God's silent presence which, almost imperceptibly, accompanies the human being on his long journey through history. True "dependable" hope is God alone, who in Jesus Christ and in his Gospel opened wide the dark door of time to the future. "I am risen and now I am always with you", Jesus repeats to us, especially at the most difficult moments: "my hand supports you. Wherever you might fall, you will fall into my arms. I am present even at the threshold of death".
It is children who are treated here at the Gaslini institute. How is it possible not to recall Jesus' special love for children? He wanted them beside him, he pointed them out to the Apostles as models to follow in their spontaneous, generous faith, in their innocence. With harsh words he warned people against despising or shocking them. He was moved by the widow of Nain, a mother who had lost her son, her only son. The Evangelist Luke wrote that the Lord reassured her and said to her: "Do not weep" (cf. Lc 7,13). Still today Jesus repeats these comforting words to those in pain: "Do not weep". He shows solidarity to each one of us and asks us if we want to be his disciples, to bear witness to his love for anyone who gets into difficulty.
Lastly, I address you, dearest children, to repeat to you that the Pope loves you. I see your relatives beside you, who share with you moments of anxiety and hope. You may all rest assured: God never abandons us. Stay united to him and you will never lose your calm, not even in the darkest and most difficult moments. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and entrust you to Mary Most Holy who, as a Mother, suffered for the sufferings of her divine Son but now dwells with him in glory. I thank each one of you again for this meeting, which will remain impressed on my heart. I bless you all with affection.
Dear Young People,
Unfortunately I am being pursued by the rain in these days but let us take it as a sign of blessing, of fertility for the land, as well as a symbol of the Holy Spirit who comes and renews the earth, even the arid terrain of our souls. You are the youth of Genoa! I am happy to see you here! I embrace you with the Heart of Christ! I thank the two representatives who have acted as your "spokespersons". And I thank you all for your work of preparation, not only external but above all spiritual: with the Eucharistic adoration and the prayer vigil you have really reached out to the Holy Spirit and, in the Spirit, you enter the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today. Thank you for this journey you have made! And I thank you for the enthusiasm that must always be a feature of your soul, not only in the years of your youth, full of expectations and dreams, but always, even when the years of youth are over and you will be called to live other seasons. But we must all remain young in heart! It is beautiful to be young and today everyone wants to be young, to stay young, and they disguise themselves as young, even if the time of youth has passed, visibly passed. And I wonder - I have thought about it - why is it beautiful to be young? What is the reason for the dream of eternal youth? It seems to me that there are two crucial elements: youth still has the whole future before it. Everything is in the future, a time of hope. The future is full of promises. To be sincere, we must say that for many people the future is also dark, full of threats. One wonders: will I find a job? Will I find somewhere to live? Will I find love? What will my true future be? And in the face of these threats, the future can also appear as a great void. Today, therefore, many desire to stop time for fear of a future in emptiness. They want to enjoy all the beauties of life instantly - and in this way the oil in the lamp is consumed just as life is beginning. Thus it is important to choose the true promises that pave the way to the future, even with sacrifices. Those who have chosen God still have before them in old age a future without end and without threats. It is therefore vital to choose well, not to destroy the future. And the first and fundamental choice must be God, God revealed in the Son Jesus Christ, and in the light of this choice which at the same time offers us company on the way, trustworthy company that never abandons me, in the light of this choice criteria are found to make the other necessary choices. Being young implies being good and generous and once again true goodness is Jesus himself, that Jesus whom you know or whom your heart is seeking: he is the Friend who never betrays, faithful to the point of giving his life on the Cross. Surrender to his love! As you have printed on the tee-shirts made for this Meeting, "scioglietevi" [soften] before Jesus for he alone can melt your anxieties and fears and fulfil your expectations. He gave his life for us, for each one of us. Could he ever betray your trust? Could he lead you on the wrong paths? His are the ways of life, the ways that lead to the pastures of the soul, even if they rise steeply and are daunting. It is the spiritual life that I am asking you to cultivate, dear friends. Jesus said: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15,5). Jesus comes to the point, he is clear and direct. Everyone understands him and takes a stand. The life of the soul is the encounter with him, the actual Face of God; it is silent, persevering prayer, it is sacramental life, it is the Gospel meditated upon, it is spiritual guidance, it is cordial membership in the Church, in your Ecclesial Communities.
Yet how can one love, how can one enter into friendship with someone unknown? Knowledge is an incentive to love and love stimulates knowledge. This is how it is with Christ too. To find love with Christ, to truly find him as the companion of our lives, we must first of all be acquainted with him.
Like the two disciples who followed him after hearing the words of John the Baptist and asked him timidly, "Rabbi, where are you staying?", they wanted to know him better. It was Jesus himself, talking to his disciples who made the distinction: "Who do people say that I am", referring to those who knew him from afar, so to speak, by hear-say, and "Who do you say that I am?", referring to those who knew him personally, having lived with him and having truly penetrated his private life, to the point of witnessing his prayer, his dialogue with the Father. Thus, it is also important for us not to reduce ourselves merely to the superficiality of the many who have heard something about him - that he was an important figure, etc. - but to enter into a personal relationship to know him truly. And this demands knowledge of Scripture, especially of the Gospels where the Lord speaks to us. These words are not always easy, but in entering into them, entering into dialogue, knocking at the door of words, saying to the Lord, "Let me in", we truly find words of eternal life, living words for today, as timely as they were then and as they will be in the future. This conversation with the Lord in Scripture must always be a conversation that is not only individual but communal, in the great communion of the Church where Christ is ever present, in the communion of the liturgy, of the very personal encounter with the Holy Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where the Lord says to me "I forgive you". And another very important step to take is to help the poor in need, to make time for others. There are many dimensions for entering into knowledge of Jesus; also, of course the lives of saints. You have plenty of Saints here in Liguria, in Genoa, who help us discover the true Face of Jesus. Only in this way, by being personally acquainted with Jesus, can we also communicate this friendship to others. We can overcome indifference. Because even if it seems invincible - in fact, indifference sometimes appears not to need a God - in fact, everyone knows that something is missing in his life. Only after discovering Jesus do we realize "this is what I was waiting for". And, the truer a friend of Jesus we are, the better able we are to open our hearts to others so that they too may become truly young and have a great future before them.
At the end of our Meeting I shall have the joy of presenting the Gospel to some of you as a sign of a missionary mandate. Dear young people, venture forth into the milieus of life, your parishes, the most difficult districts, the streets! Proclaim Christ the Lord, the hope of the world. The further people drift from God, their Source, the more they lose themselves, the more difficult human coexistence becomes and the more society crumbles. Stay united to one another, help one another to live and to increase in faith and in Christian life to be daring witnesses of the Lord. Be united but not closed. Be humble but not fearful. Be simple but non ingenuous. Be thoughtful but not complicated. Enter into dialogue with all, but be yourselves. Remain in communion with your Pastors: they are ministers of the Gospel, of the Divine Eucharist, of God's forgiveness. They are fathers and friends for you, your companions on the way. You need them and they - we all - need you.
If each one of you, dear young people, remains united to Christ and to the Church, he or she can do great things. This is the hope I leave you to carry out. I say goodbye until Sydney to those of you who have enrolled to go to the World Meeting in July, and I extend it to all, because anyone will be able to follow the event from here as well. I know that in those days the dioceses will be organizing some special community events so that there will truly be a new Pentecost for the young people of the whole world. I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, a model of availability and of humble courage in accepting the Lord's mission. Learn from her to make your life a "yes" to God! In this way Jesus will come to dwell within you and you will take him joyfully to all. With my Blessing!
Dear Members of the Cathedral Chapter,
Dear Men and Women Religious,
In this brief but intense Pastoral Visit to Genoa I could not omit a visit to your famous Cathedral, dedicated to St Lawrence, which preserves the relics of St John the Baptist, the Precursor of Jesus. I am happy to meet the Canons of the venerable Metropolitan Chapter and the men and women Religious present and working in the Archdiocese. This church, surrounded by a network of alleys, seems to be the point of convergence and arrival of every path as though people desired to come out from the shade of the narrow streets into the light of their Cathedral, as if they wanted to come out into the light of God that welcomes, embraces, illumines and restores all. I offer my cordial greeting to each one of you. I address a special greeting to Mons. Mario Grone, Head of the Cathedral Chapter, and Fr Domenico Rossi, Diocesan Delegate for Consecrated Life who have expressed your devout sentiments.
In past centuries, the Church of Genoa had a rich tradition of holiness and generous service to the brethren, thanks to the work of zealous priests and men and women religious of both active and contemplative life. Here the names of various Saints and Blesseds spring to mind: Antonio Maria Gianelli, Agostino Roscelli, Tommaso Reggio, Francesco Maria da Camporosso, Caterina Fieschi Adorno, Virginia Centurione Bracelli, Paola Frassinetti, Eugenia Ravasco, Maria Repetto, Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello. But even now, notwithstanding the difficulties that society is going through, the enthusiasm for evangelization is strong in your communities. What has grown in particular is the common desire to have closer relations of ever more brotherly understanding in order to collaborate in the missionary action promoted throughout the Archdiocese. In fact, in compliance with the guidelines of the Italian Bishops' Conference, you wish to adopt an ongoing state of mission as a testimony of the joy of the Gospel and an explicit invitation to encounter Jesus Christ that is addressed to all. Here I am among you, dear friends, to encourage you to walk in this direction.
In particular, I would like to point out to you as an example the Apostle Paul, whose special Jubilee we are preparing to celebrate on the occasion of the 2,000th anniversary of his birth. After his conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus he dedicated himself without reserve to the Gospel cause. For Christ he faced trials of all kinds and stayed faithful to him until the sacrifice of his life. Having come to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, he wrote to Timothy his faithful disciple: "For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (II Tim 4: 6-7). May each one of us, dear brothers and sisters, be able to say the same thing on the last day of his/her own life. In order for this to happen, and it is what the Lord expects of his friends, we must cultivate the same missionary spirit that animated St Paul with constant spiritual, ascetic and pastoral formation. Above all, we must become "specialists" in listening to God and credible examples of a holiness that is expressed in fidelity to the Gospel without yielding to the spirit of the world. As Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, a zealous Pastor of this Archdiocese for several decades and now buried in this Cathedral of yours, wrote: "Religious life pivots around God and arranges all things around God and thus becomes a witness of God and the call of God" (Letter to all the Women Religious Praying and Working in the Diocese of Genoa on the Congress on: "Worship of the Lord", 15 August 1953).
Dear Members of the Chapter of Canons of the Cathedral, in attending to the liturgies which take place here, may you remember that everything in us is invigorated by personal and liturgical prayer. Once again it was Cardinal Siri who stressed that "the most venerable and holiest action, worthy of all consideration and regard, of all honour and distinction which is carried out in a diocese is the solemn celebration of the Divine Office, in other words what you do.... The entire Diocese, and in a certain sense the entire Church, prays through your lips. The debt of the diocesan family of the faithful is discharged before God primarily with this prayer of yours" (Towards the Congress on "Worship of the Lord", Pastoral Letter to the Canons, 24 January 1953).
Dear brothers and sisters and in particular you Consecrated People, I thank you for your presence. It is a presence old and ever new, despite your dwindling numbers and strength. But be confident: our times are not those of God and of his Providence. It is necessary to pray and to increase in personal and community holiness. The Lord provides. I ask you never to consider yourselves as though you were in the "twilight" of life: Christ is the eternal dawn, our light. I ask you to persevere in your institutions and especially in your presence: the death of your communities impoverishes you but also Genoa. The poor, the sick, families, children, our Parishes: all this forms a valuable context for service and gift in order to build the Church and serve humankind. I especially recommend to you the education of children and young people: you know that it is the educational challenge which is most urgent because without an authentic human education it is impossible to go far. And all of you, although in different ways, have had an educational experience in the past. We must help parents in their extraordinary and difficult educational task; we must help Parishes and groups; we must continue even with great sacrifices, Catholic schools which are a great treasure of the Christian community and a true resource for the Country.
Dear Canons and dear men and women Religious, the long spiritual tradition of Genoa includes six Popes, among whom I remember above all Benedict XV of venerable memory, the Pope of peace.
In Humani Generis Redemptionem he wrote, "What gives a man's words life and vigour and makes them promote wonderfully the salvation of souls is divine grace" [n. 17]. Let us never forget it: being called to proclaim together the joy of Christ and the beauty of the Church is what binds us. This joy and this beauty, which come from the Spirit, are a gift and a sign of God's presence in our souls. In order to be witnesses and heralds of the saving message we cannot rely solely on our human forces. It is God's own fidelity that encourages and shapes fidelity to him: for this reason let us be guided by the Spirit of truth and love. This is the invitation that I address to each one of you, corroborating it with a special remembrance in prayer. I entrust you all to the Madonna della Guardia, to St Lawrence, to St John the Baptist and to your Patron Saints. With these sentiments I bless you wholeheartedly.
Speeches 2005-13 16158