Speeches 2005-13 13157
Mr Vice President,
As I take leave of this blessed land of Brazil, a hymn of gratitude to the Most High rises up in my soul. He has granted me an intense and unforgettable stay in your country, with my gaze fixed on the Senhora Aparecida who, from her shrine, has presided over the beginnings of the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean.
The signs of enthusiasm and the deep piety of this people of the Land of the Holy Cross will remain for ever impressed in my memory. Together with so many pilgrims from the length and breadth of the Continent of Hope, they have given whole-hearted proof of their faith in Christ and their love for the Successor of Peter. I pray that the Lord will assist religious and civil leaders to give renewed impulse to the initiatives that are awaited by all for the common good of the great Latin American family.
With deep gratitude, I extend my farewell greetings to His Excellency, the President of the Republic, to the Government of this Nation and of the State of Sno Paulo, as well as to the other Brazilian Authorities who have offered me so many gestures of courtesy during these days.
I am also grateful to the consular Authorities whose diligent work facilitated in no small measure the participation of the different Nations in these days of reflection, prayer and commitment for the common good of all taking part in this great event.
With particular fraternal esteem and profound gratitude, I greet the Members of the College of Cardinals present, and my brothers in the Episcopate, as well as the priests, deacons, religious men and women and the organizers of the Conference. You have all contributed to the splendour of these days, filling those taking part with joy and hope — gaudium et spes! — for the Christian family and for its mission in society.
Be assured: I carry you all with me in my heart, and from the depths of my heart I impart a blessing to you, which I extend to all the peoples of Latin America and the world.
Thank you very much!
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
I welcome you with joy, Pastors of the Church in Mali, on your visit ad limina Apostolorum. For you yourselves and for the life of your diocesan communities, it is an important moment which shows the communion of your local Churches with the Successor of Peter and the universal Church, and will help you to persevere with missionary dynamism. May your local Churches know that they have a place in the Pope's heart and prayers!
I thank Bishop Jean-Gabriel Diarra, President of your Bishops' Conference, for his kind words on your behalf and for his presentation of the Church's situation in your Country.
I am pleased to note the esteem in which the Catholic community in Mali is held by the Authorities and by the rest of the population.
I would like to greet warmly the priests, men and women religious, catechists and all the lay faithful of your Dioceses. I encourage them to live generously Christ's Gospel, which they have received from their Fathers in the faith.
I also address a greeting to all the inhabitants of Mali, as I ask God to bless each one of their families and grant that all may live in peace and brotherhood.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, in seeking your interior unity and the source of your energy in pastoral charity, the soul of your apostolate, as well as in the affection you show the flock entrusted to you, your ministry will achieve its full development and fresh effectiveness. Be ardent Pastors who guide the People of God as men of faith with confidence and courage, and knowing that you are close to everyone in order to inspire hope even in the most difficult situations.
Indeed, "in the image of Jesus Christ, and following in his footsteps, the Bishop also goes forth to proclaim him before the world as the Saviour of mankind, the Saviour of every man and woman. As a missionary of the Gospel, he acts in the name of the Church, which is an expert in humanity and close to the men and women of our time" (Pastores Gregis ).
Guided by sincere charity and special concern, you are a father, brother and friend to each of your priests. They cooperate generously in your apostolic mission, and often while living in humanly and spiritually difficult situations.
While the diocesan clergy today are called to play a more active role in evangelization, in fraternal and trusting collaboration with the missionaries - whose courageous work I acknowledge -, priests must live their priestly identity by giving themselves to the Lord for the impartial service of their brethren without losing heart in the face of the difficulties they have to confront.
In ever more intimate communion with the One who called them, they will find unity in their life and, despite their diverse daily occupations, strength for their ministry at the service of the men and women entrusted to their care.
Prayer life and sacramental life are an authentic pastoral priority for priests, which will help them to respond with determination to the call to holiness they have received from the Lord, and to their mission to lead the faithful on the same path. May they never forget, as I wrote in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: "People who pray are not wasting their time, even though the situation appears desperate and seems to call for action alone" (n. 36).
If priests are to be effective in their work of evangelization and contribute to the spiritual growth of the Christian community, their formation must be planned with great care. Formation, in fact, is not limited to passing on abstract notions. It must train candidates for the priestly ministry while being effectively linked to the realities of mission and of the presbyteral life.
Human formation is the basis of priestly formation. Special attention to the candidates' emotional maturity will enable them to give a free response to life in celibacy and chastity, a precious gift from God. It will also enable them to have a soundly established awareness of this throughout their lives.
While the Church on your Continent is preparing to celebrate the Second Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for Africa, the commitment of the faithful to the service of reconciliation, justice and peace is urgently needed.
Lay people must therefore acquire a fresh awareness of their special mission in the heart of the one mission of the Church, and of its spiritual requirements for their lives.
In engaging with determination to build a just, supportive and fraternal society, they will thus be authentic messengers of the Good News of Jesus and will contribute to the coming of the Kingdom of God by sanctifying the world and imbuing it with a Gospel spirit.
If this participation in society's transformation is to be effective, it is indispensable to train competent lay people to serve the common good. Their formation, in which knowledge of the Church's social doctrine is an essential feature, must take into account their involvement in civil life so that they may be capable of dealing with their daily tasks in political, economic, social and cultural milieus, showing that probity in public life paves the way to trust on the part of all and to a balanced management of its affairs.
Through the action of the religious communities and committed lay people, the Church also makes an appreciable contribution to the life of society, especially by her educational work for the young generations, her care for people who are suffering and, in a general way, through her charitable institutions.
Nonetheless, these institutions must effectively be an expression of God's loving presence beside people in need.
As I emphasized in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, the Church's charitable activity has a specific profile; hence, it is important that it "maintains all of its splendour and does not become just another form of social assistance" (n. 31).
The effective support of the Nation's leaders for these scholastic, social and health-care institutions which are at the service of the whole population without exception, can only be a precious help for the development of society itself.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, your quinquennial reports reveal that the pastoral care of marriage is a real concern in the life of your Dioceses. Indeed, when the number of Christian marriages remains relatively small, it is the Church's duty to help the baptized, especially the young, to understand the beauty and dignity of this Sacrament in Christian life.
In response to the frequently expressed fear of the definitive character of marriage, a sound preparation with the collaboration of lay people and experts may thereby enable Christian couples to stay faithful to their marriage vows. They will become aware that the faithfulness of the spouses and the indissolubility of their covenant, whose model is the faithfulness shown by God in the indestructible Covenant which he himself contracted with man, are a source of happiness to those who marry.
And this happiness will also be shared by their children, who mirror the love their parents have for each other. A human and Christian education imparted from infancy and based on the parents' example will enable children to receive the seeds of faith and will allow them to develop within them.
In this spirit, I give thanks for those young people who are prepared to listen to God's call to serve him in the priesthood and in the consecrated life.
Lastly, I would like to express to you my satisfaction at knowing that the Catholic faithful of Mali maintain cordial relations with their Muslim compatriots. It is thus of paramount importance that proper attention be paid to deepening these relations and to fostering a fruitful friendship and collaboration between Christians and Muslims.
For this reason it is legitimate that the proper identity of each community be visibly expressed in mutual respect, in recognition of the religious diversity of the national community, and that it encourage peaceful coexistence at all levels in society. It will then be possible to proceed together with a common commitment to justice, harmony and peace.
As I conclude, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I offer you my warm encouragement for your mission at the service of Christ's Gospel. The Christian hope that must enliven you is a support for faith and a stimulus for charity. May Our Lady of Mali protect all the families of your Nation!
To each one of you, to the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and all the lay people of your Dioceses, I wholeheartedly impart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
I am truly pleased to welcome you in this visit that follows the Eucharistic celebration in which you participated this morning in St Peter's Basilica.
My cordial greeting goes to each one of you, which I direct in the first place to Cardinal Attilio Nicora, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See, thanking all the representatives for the words they have addressed to me.
My greeting then goes to Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, your President, to the Bishops and priests present, and I extend it to all the members of your worthy Sodality, also to those who could not attend today's meeting, as well as to your families.
In the course of this year's meeting you reflected on the fundamental commitment that characterizes the Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation: to deepen the most current aspects of the Church's social doctrine with reference to the most pressing problems and challenges of today's world.
Secondly, you have come to present to the Pope the fruit of your generosity, so that he may use it to respond to the many requests for help that reach him from every part of the world. And I assure you, they are truly many.
Thank you, therefore, for this contribution, thank you for what you do and for the commitment with which you dedicate yourselves to the activity of your Association, willed by my venerable Predecessor John Paul II. I welcome the occasion to offer some brief reflections for your consideration on the ample and stimulating social theme you have taken up during your work.
You have, in fact, analyzed the changes taking place in the "emerging" countries under the economic and social profile, with the resulting cultural and religious repercussions. In particular, you have focused your attention on the Asian nations, marked by a strong dynamic of economic growth which does not, however, always bring real social development, and on Africa, where economic growth and social development unfortunately meet many obstacles and challenges.
What these people undoubtedly need, as well as those of every part of the earth, is social progress and economic harmony and a real human dimension.
In this regard I am pleased to repeat an incisive passage in the Encyclical Centesimus Annus of our beloved John Paul II, where he affirms that "development must not be understood solely in economic terms, but in a way that is fully human". And he adds that "[i]t is not only a question of raising all peoples to the level currently enjoyed by the richest countries, but rather of building up a more decent life through united labour, of concretely enhancing every individual's dignity and creativity, as well as his capacity to respond to his personal vocation, and thus to God's call" inherent in it (n. 29).
Here we find a constant teaching of the Church's social doctrine, often repeated by my Predecessors in these last decades. Exactly this year is the 40th anniversary of the publication of a great social Encyclical of the Servant of God Paul VI, Populorum Progressio. In this text, often cited in successive Documents, that great Pontiff already strongly asserted that "[d]evelopment cannot be limited to mere economic growth". In fact, "to be authentic, it must be complete: integral, that is, it has to promote the good of every man and of the whole man" (n. 14).
Attention to the true demands of the human being, respect for the dignity of each person and the sincere pursuit of the common good are the inspiring principles that it is good to keep in mind when the development of a nation is being planned.
Unfortunately, however, this does not always happen. Today's globalized society often registers paradoxical and dramatic imbalances. As a result, when one considers the increasing toll of economic growth, when one stops to analyze the problems linked to modern progress, not excluding the high rate of pollution and the irresponsible consumption of natural and environmental resources, it appears evident that only a process of globalization attentive to the demands of solidarity can assure humanity a future of authentic well-being and stable peace for all.
Dear friends, I know that you, professionals and lay faithful actively committed in the world, want to contribute to resolve these problems in the light of the Church's social doctrine. Your goal is also to promote a culture of solidarity and to favour economic development attentive to the real expectations of individuals and peoples.
While I encourage you to follow this pledge, I would like to confirm that only by the ordered interweaving of the three critically needed aspects of development - economic, social and human - can a free and solidary society be born.
In this circumstance, I willingly make my own what Pope Montini expressed with impassioned clarity in his above-cited Encyclical Populorum Progressio: "If further development calls for the work of more and more technicians, even more necessary is the deep thought and reflection of wise men in search of a new humanism which will enable modern man to find himself anew by embracing the higher values of love and friendship, of prayer and contemplation" (n. 20).
This is your mission; this is the duty that the Lord entrusts to you at the service of the Church and society, and I know that you are carrying it out with zeal and generosity.
In this regard, I am happy to learn that your Foundation is extending its presence in various countries of Europe and America. I am truly pleased about it!
Upon you and your initiatives, as also upon your families, I invoke the abundant Blessing of God.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
A few days before the conclusion of the Easter Season - we will celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost this Sunday - we have had this evening a further opportunity to pause to meditate on the wonderful event of Christ's Resurrection.
The occasion has been given to us by the performance of this evocative Oratorio that the Italian Bishops' Conference, gathered at their General Assembly, has wished to offer to me and to my collaborators for my 80th Birthday and as the crowning event of the ad limina visit of the Italian Bishops, which took place in the course of this pastoral year in a climate of deep ecclesial communion.
Thank you, venerable and dear Italian Brother Bishops, for this pleasant gift. Together we have listened to evocative music recalling the figures of the Gospel and scenes that lead us again to the central mystery of our faith: the Resurrection of the Lord.
We have been able to enjoy a concerto and poetic composition characterized by an interweaving of artistic expressivity and spiritual symbolism, melody and inspiring passages for meditation.
At the end of this beautiful concert, I wish to thank those who have promoted it, carefully prepared it and now masterfully executed it.
Above all, I wish to address my grateful thought to Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, who for some months now has assumed the leadership as President of the Italian Bishops' Conference. I greet him with affection and I thank him for the cordial words that he addressed to me at the beginning of our meeting, and I assure him of my benevolence accompanied by constant prayer for the lofty duty he is called to assume at the service of the Italian Church.
I greet the Venerable Cardinals, Bishops, priests and Authorities present, and those who have wished to be present for this musical evening. With sincere gratitude I greet the chorus with their Maestro Marco Faelli and the Arena Orchestra of Verona conducted by Maestro Julian Kovatchev.
I thank the "ALIVE" choir of treble voices and their Conductor Paolo Facincani, and also those of the "Benjamin Britten" treble voices conducted by Maestro Marco Tonini.
To each one of you, dear artists and musicians, my cordial thanks for the wonderful performance of this sacred Oratorio, accomplished by Alberto Colla, the composer, and by Roberto Mussapi, who wrote the poetic text: to them goes my lively and grateful appreciation.
At the beginning I said that this musical evening has given us an opportunity to meditate on the central event of our faith: the Resurrection of Christ. The title "Resurrexi", "I am risen", taken from the Latin incipit of the Easter Mass entrance antiphon, in reality sounds like the self-presentation of Jesus, who in the liturgy identifies himself and makes himself recognizable precisely in his risen state.
The Oratorio helps us to relive the sentiments of wonder and joy felt by those who were the first eye-witnesses of the Resurrection.
Through the five "tableaux", harmoniously linked in a melodic and poetic sequence, the authors of this melodrama have helped us to meditate on the dawn of the third day, suffused with brilliant light, which opened the hearts of the Apostles and permitted them to understand in its full significance the dramatic events of the death and Resurrection of the Divine Teacher, as also his life's previous acts and teachings.
Easter constitutes the heart of Christianity. For every believer and for each Ecclesial Community it is important to meet Jesus Christ crucified and Risen. Without this personal and community experience, without an intimate friendship with Jesus, faith remains superficial and sterile.
I very much hope that this Oratorio too, which we have followed with religious attention and participation, will helps us to grow in our faith.
Christ's Easter anticipates the new life of the risen world: consequently, if we are firmly convinced of it, the more conscious and ardent with apostolic zeal will our evangelical witness be.
May the Holy Spirit, who came down abundantly at Pentecost upon the nascent Church, obtain this gift for us.
With these sentiments, while I renew, also in the name of those present, a cordial "thank you" to those who organized the evening and also to the talented maestri, musicians and singers, I heartily impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.
Mr President of the Parliament,
Honourable Members of the Government,
Venerable Brother Representatives of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church, I am pleased to address to each one of you my cordial welcome on the liturgical Memorial of Sts Cyril and Methodius. This occasion is most opportune to manifest my esteem and closeness to the Bulgarian People, who also today have wished to witness their Christian roots by sending this Delegation.
In this gesture I also see the desire to reaffirm your own European traditions, profoundly marked by Gospel values.
Certainly, given its origin, the history of Bulgaria precedes Christian revelation. It is without doubt, however, that the Nation has found in the Gospel a source of values able to strengthen its culture, identity and the genius typical of this people.
In this way the teaching of the Brothers from Thessalonica has contributed to moulding the spiritual physiognomy of the Bulgarian People, ensuring them a just place in the cultural tradition of the European Continent.
After the sad and difficult Communist domination, Bulgaria today is directed toward full integration with the other European nations. By making its own the teachings of Cyril and Methodius, this noble Nation can strengthen the objectives reached thus far, drawing from that font of precious human and spiritual values which has nourished its life and development.
It is my fervent hope that the cultural and spiritual foundations present in Bulgarian society may continue to be cultivated not only in the territory of the Republic, but with its valid contribution they can be defended and proposed also in those Assemblies where Bulgaria is already an authoritative protagonist.
In particular, I hope that Bulgaria and its people preserve and promote those Christian virtues that come down from the teachings of Sts Cyril and Methodius, which are still valid and necessary today.
On this occasion, I wish to recall that the thoughts and concerns of the Bulgarian People are always with me, and for this reason I assure them of my prayer and spiritual closeness.
With these sentiments, I renew the expression of my esteem and, assuring that the Holy See will follow the progress of this Nation with friendly attention, I renew to you, Mr President, and to the honourable Members of the Delegation my Blessing and prayerful greeting, which I extend to all the citizens of the dear Bulgarian Republic.
Mr President of the Parliament,
Honourable Members of the Government,
Venerable Brother Representatives of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church, I still retain a vivid memory of the recent meeting during which H.E. Mr Prime Minister conveyed to me the cordial greeting of the Prime Magistrate of your Country.
I also remember with pleasure the exchange of letters that followed confirming the friendship and good relations existing between the Apostolic See and the Republic that you worthily represent here. Since this collaboration embraces both civil and religious aspects, it promises further intensification in the future.
Today's meeting on the occasion of the traditional anniversary of the liturgical Memorial of Sts Cyril and Methodius also inserts us in this context of mutual esteem and friendship.
Masters in the faith of the Slavic peoples, these two great Apostles of the Gospel are invoked as intercessors and protectors by all Catholics of Europe, who wish to preserve unaltered the spiritual patrimony passed down to them and to build together a future of progress and peace for all.
In addressing to you my most cordial welcome, I make my own the hope you expressed, that not only the spiritual patrimony which you inherited be shared, but that your particular identity be accorded the due consideration you expect from the other European peoples who are close to you in terms of tradition and culture.
These Co-Patron Saints of Europe, to whom you rightfully refer, have traced a human and spiritual path that makes your Land a meeting place for diverse cultural and religious needs.
The peaceful settlement of the aspirations of the peoples who live there, project on the European Continent an example of effective and fruitful coexistence, to which the Holy See looks with favour.
My cordial wish is that you may always faithfully preserve the inheritance of your two holy Protectors, so that your voice, in the civil as well as the religious field, can be heard and given just consideration.
While I invoke from God serenity and peace for your Country, I am pleased, in this unique circumstance to renew to each one of you an expression of the benevolent friendship of the Apostolic See. I accompany my cordial sentiments with the assurance of my personal esteem and friendship.
Once again my sincere best wishes, and I confirm them with the prayer that I raise to God for you here present, the Authorities and the Macedonian People.
Dear Italian Bishop Brothers,
We have today, on the occasion of your 57th General Assembly, a new and pleasant opportunity to meet and to live a moment of intense communion together.
I greet your new President, Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco, and I heartily thank him for the kind words that he has addressed to me in the name of all of you. I renew the expression of my gratitude to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, who as President has served your Conference for many years.
I greet the three Vice-Presidents and the Secretary General. I greet with affection each of you, reliving those sentiments of friendship and communion that I was able to express personally on the occasion of your ad limina visit.
That meeting with all the Pastors of the Italian Church is a beautiful memory for me. I thus learned, so to speak, the "exterior" geography, but above all the "spiritual" geography of beautiful Italy.
I was really able to enter intimately into the life of the Church, where there is still great richness, much vitality of faith; where, in our difficult time, problems are not wanting, but one also sees that the strength of the faith is deeply at work in souls. Even where the faith appears to be extinguished, a little flame remains; and we can revive it.
I wish to speak to you above all precisely about the ad limina visit that you have had in the past months, because it has been a great comfort and a joyful experience for me, in addition to the opportunity to know you and your Dioceses better and to share with you the satisfactions and worries that accompany your pastoral solicitude.
As a whole in these meetings with you, I have above all been able to confirm with certainty that the faith in Italy is alive and deeply rooted and that the Church is a reality for the people, capillarily near to persons and families. There are undoubtedly different situations in this Country so rich in history, also religious history, and characterized by multiple heritages besides the different conditions of life, work and income.
The Catholic faith and the presence of the Church remain, however, a strong unifying factor in this beloved Nation and a precious preserver of moral energy for its future.
Naturally, these consoling positive realities do not allow us to ignore or underestimate the difficulties already present and the threats that can grow with the passage of time and generations. Daily we sense, in the images suggested by public debate and amplified by the communication system, but also, although in different measure, in the life and behaviours of people, the weight of a culture marked by moral relativism, poor in reference points and rich instead in frequently unjustified demands.
We also sense the need to reinforce Christian formation through more substantial catechesis, to which the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church can be a great service.
The constant commitment to put God at the centre of the life of our communities is also necessary, giving the primacy to prayer, personal friendship with Jesus and therefore to the call to holiness.
In particular, great care must be given to vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, and also the solicitude for permanent formation and for the conditions in which priests live and work: especially in some regions, indeed precisely the very small number of young priests represents already now a serious problem for pastoral work.
Together with the whole Christian community, we trustingly ask and humbly beg the Lord for the gift of new and holy workers for his harvest (cf. Mt 9,37-38).
We know that the Lord sometimes makes us wait, but we also know that no one knocks in vain. So, with patient confidence we continue to pray to the Lord for the gift of new holy "labourers".
Dear Brother Bishops, a little prior to beginning the ad limina visit these themes were the object of the Convention that brought the Italian Church together at Verona.
My heart keeps a great and grateful memory of the day that I spent with you on that occasion and I am pleased with the results that grew out of the Convention.
Basically, it is now a question of continuing the journey to make increasingly more effective and concrete that "great "yes'" that God in Jesus Christ has said to man and to his life, to human love, to our freedom and intelligence: in that "yes" is summarized the very sense of the Convention.
Beginning from this fact and making it perceived by all - that is, that Christianity is a great "yes", a "yes" that comes from God himself and is made concrete in the Incarnation of the Son - seems very important to me.
Only if we place our Christian existence within this "yes", if we deeply penetrate the joy of this "yes", can we then live Christian life in every aspect of our existence, even in those that are difficult to live as Christians today.
I am pleased, therefore, that in your Assembly you have approved the Pastoral Note that takes up and relaunches the fruit of the work accomplished in the Convention.
It is very important that this hope in Jesus Risen, this spirit of communion and this desire of missionary witness which animated and sustained the preparatory work and then the celebration of the Convention, continues to nourish the life and multiform commitment of the Church in Italy.
In turn, the principal theme of your Assembly is closely linked with the objectives of the Convention in Verona. You are reflecting, in fact, on "Jesus Christ, the only Saviour of the world: the Church in mission, ad gentes and among us". Embrace it, therefore, in a perspective of articulated but actually unitary evangelization, because it always concerns the proclamation and witness of the same Jesus Christ, whether to the people who are opening themselves up for the first time to the faith, or to the children of those people who are now coming to live and work in Italy, or even to our own people, who at times distance themselves from the faith and are, however, under the pressure of those secular tendencies that seek to dominate society and culture in this Country and in all of Europe.
To all and to each one, the mission of the Church and our pastoral solicitude must be addressed: it seems to me appropriate to recall the Encyclical Fidei Donum of Pius XII, particularly on its 50th anniversary.
I am pleased that you have wished to put the fundamental truth that Jesus Christ is the only Saviour of the world at the foundation of this missionary commitment. The certainty of this truth, in fact, has furnished from the beginning the decisive impetus for the Christian mission.
Even today, as the Declaration Dominus Iesus confirmed, we must be fully aware that from the mystery of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man alive and present in the Church, flows the salvific oneness and universality of Christian revelation and therefore the inalienable duty to proclaim to all, without tiring or resignation, the same Jesus Christ who is the way, the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14,6).
It seems to me that if we look at the panorama of the world situation today, one can understand - I would say even humanly, almost without the need of having recourse to faith - that the God who has taken on a human face, the God who has become incarnate, whose name is Jesus Christ and who has suffered for us, this God is needed by all and is the only response to all the challenges of this time.
Esteem and respect for all other religions and cultures, with the seeds of truth and goodness that are present there and that represent a preparation for the Gospel, are particularly necessary today in a world that is growing ever closer together.
One cannot, therefore, diminish the awareness of the originality, fullness and oneness of the revelation of the true God who in Christ has given himself to us definitively, and neither can one tone down or weaken the missionary vocation of the Church.
The relativistic cultural climate that surrounds us makes it always more important and urgent to root and to bring to maturity within the entire ecclesial body the certainty that Christ, the God with a human face, is our true and only Saviour.
The book "Jesus of Nazareth" - a very personal book, not by the Pope but by this man - is written with this intention: that again we can, with the heart and with reason, see that Christ is truly the One whom the human heart awaits.
Dear Brothers, as Italian Bishops you have a precise responsibility not only toward the Churches entrusted to you, but also toward the entire Nation. With full and cordial respect for the distinction between Church and politics, between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22,21), we cannot fail to be concerned in fact about what is good for man, creature and image of God: this means in the concrete, of the common good of Italy.
You have given a clear witness of this attention to the common good through the Note approved by the Permanent Episcopal Council regarding the family founded on matrimony and the legislative initiatives in matters of de facto unions, moving in full consonance with the constant teaching of the Apostolic See.
In this context, the recent manifestation in favour of the family, which took place through the initiative of the Catholic laity but shared also by many non-Catholics, was a great and extraordinary festival of the people, which confirmed how the family itself is profoundly rooted in the heart and life of Italians.
This event has certainly contributed to making visible to all the family's meaning and role in society, which particularly needs to be understood and recognized today in the face of a culture that deludes itself in promoting the happiness of individuals by unilaterally insisting on the freedom of the individual person. However, each State initiative in favour of the family as such cannot fail to be valued and encouraged.
The same attention to people's true needs is expressed in the daily service to the many the many forms of poverty, old and new, visible or hidden. It is a service in which many ecclesial realities work, beginning with your Dioceses, your parishes, Caritas and many other volunteer organizations.
Insist, dear Brother Bishops, on promoting and animating this service, so that it always shines with the authentic love of Christ and so that all can feel that no separation exists between the Church as keeper of the moral law written by God in the heart of man, and the Church that invites the faithful to be good Samaritans, recognizing their own neighbour in every suffering person.
Lastly, I would like to recall the meeting that will bring us together again at Loreto, at the beginning of September, for the pilgrimage and encounter under the name, "Agorà of the Italian youth", and that wishes to insert youth more profoundly into the Church's journey following the Convention of Verona and to prepare them for the World Youth Day next year in Sydney.
We know well that Christian formation of the new generations is perhaps the most difficult but also the extremely important duty that the Church faces.
We will therefore go to Loreto together with our young people, so that the Virgin Mary may help them and that they be ever more in love with Jesus Christ and thus remain within the Church, recognized as a trustworthy companion, and communicate to their brethren the joyful certainty of being loved by God.
Dearest Italian Bishops, in exercising our ministry we meet, today as always, not a few difficulties, but also many more abundant consolations of the Lord, transmitted also through the witness of our people's affection.
We thank God for all this and we continue our journey fortified by the communion that unites us and that we have experienced anew today.
With this sentiment I assure you of my prayers for you, your Churches and Italy, and I heartily impart to you and all your faithful the Apostolic Blessing.
Beloved Brothers in the Episcopate,
You have come to Rome, accompanied in spirit by your Christian people, to venerate the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, in line with an ancient tradition. By your presence here today you wish to witness as a College to the unity of faith in conformity with the cooperation existing between your particular Churches and the Church in Rome which "presides in charity" (St Ignatius of Antioch, Epistula ad Romanos, I, I), as well as to the unity between you and the Successor of Peter, sharing his solicitude for the whole Church (cf. II Cor 11: 28).
I know that you always exercise your ministry in union with the Pope, as you have often told me and now repeat through the cordial words of Archbishop Tomé Makhweliha of Nampula, President of the Bishops' Conference, who has expressed during your ad Limina visit your current sentiments and concerns. Therefore, I embrace and welcome you with great joy and esteem in this House, taking this opportunity to send, with you and through you, a cordial greeting to all the People of God in Mozambique: the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and animators, Christian families and all the lay faithful, since all are called, in the diversity of their charisms, to witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Beloved Pastors, I hope that those among you who received the fullness of the priesthood long ago can tirelessly continue in the pastoral care of the people entrusted to you.
To those of you more recently consecrated as Bishops I express my warm affection and hope before God that your youthful energy will give a new impulse to the ongoing work of evangelization and Christian formation. At the same time, I assure each one of you of my prayers that the Spirit of the Lord, through your example and ministry, may bring about a new Pentecost and "renew the face of the earth" in your beloved Nation.
Yes, I ask the Holy Spirit, with his abundant light and strength, to accompany you in the exercise of your pastoral duty. As you were told on the day of your episcopal ordination, you are responsible for proclaiming the Word of God in the entire region entrusted to you: for liturgical celebrations, formation in prayer and preparation for the sacraments so that they may be administered with dignity to the Christian people. You are also responsible for the organic unity of the Diocese, its charitable institutions, formation and apostolate.
You have therefore been invested with authority as Pastors; this authority, however, takes the form of the servant who offers his own life, time, strength and heart for his sheep and it is strengthened by the example you give them in order to bring them to holiness of life by becoming "examples to the flock" (1P 5,3).
Obviously, this pastoral service passes through your presence which must be as constant as possible in all the communities scattered throughout the Diocese and in your fatherly attention to their human and religious condition.
Your priests, in particular, need to be visited and received, listened to, guided and encouraged. Together with them you have an enormous duty: the first evangelization of more than half the population of Mozambique, to carry out of course, in communion with the Holy Spirit who moves hearts.
We know that the obstacles are many and complex, that reception and growth depend not on us but on the freedom of each person and on grace. However, at least try to make the missionary proclamation your top priority and make known to those who have the grace to be Christians that they must contribute to its fulfilment.
The Ecclesial Movements and new Communities are a providential instrument for a renewed missionary outreach; welcome and promote them in your Dioceses, since the Holy Spirit uses them to awaken and deepen faith in hearts and to proclaim the joy of believing in Jesus Christ.
In fact, it is important to deepen the faith through all the means you have at your disposal: catechesis of youth and young adults, meetings, liturgy, with the necessary inculturation.
Without this profound formation, faith and religious practice would remain superficial and fragile, ancestral customs could not be imbued with a Christian spirit, souls would be upset by every sort of doctrine, sects would attract the faithful and distance them from the Church, respectful dialogue with other religions would be blocked by snares and risks. And above all, the baptized would not be able to withstand religious indifference, materialism and neopaganism, widespread phenomena in today's consumer society.
On the contrary, deep and committed faith will renew peoples' behaviour in their social and professional life, hence also in the fabric of society.
In this way Christians help to combat injustices; raise the standard of living of the neediest persons and groups; teaching people upright morals, tolerance, pardon and reconciliation.
It is a very important ethical task that serves the good of the Country; as Pastors it is up to you to inspire and support it, always maintaining your freedom, which belongs to the Church in her prophetic mission, making a clear distinction between pastoral mission and the policies set out in political programmes.
All the work of which I have spoken depends on the number and quality of the apostolic workers who collaborate with you: priests, men and women religious, catechists and animators of movements and communities.
Regarding priests, I am pleased to recall their first Continuing Formation Meeting in July 2001, an initiative that gave you an opportunity to urge them to spiritual renewal and to conform their life to their apostolic activity.
I encourage you to promote this permanent formation with a view to the theological and pastoral updating of the clergy, as well as their regular spiritual life. It concerns their apostolic dynamism at the service of evangelization, their capacity for facing the problems and holiness in their ministry.
Equally important and decisive is the sound preparation of future priests. I know you have at heart the improvement of theological and spiritual formation in seminaries. This is a theme frequently treated in the work of your Bishops' Conference and of the Conference of Men and Women Religious Superiors, who are ready to offer their collaboration.
Given the importance of what is at stake, I exhort you to dedicate your best priests to this formation, to ensure that seminary spiritual directors are duly prepared.
The grave shortage of priests shows how necessary it is to invest in the pastoral care of priestly and religious vocations, giving them a new impulse and coordination at the diocesan and national level. This passes through a reflection on the role of priests with all the members of the Church, especially the so-called "Small Christian Communities".
It would be worth deepening and broadening the same awareness with regard to the consecrated life. How is it that its candidates and the Christian people admire Institutes of consecrated life for the help they give to the apostolate and human advancement rather than for the intrinsic value and incomparable beauty of total consecration to God, in following Christ to whom the consecrated person unites himself as to his Divine Spouse?
The latter perspective is so beneficial for the whole Church that she would find in it a very special call to holiness through the lived experience of the Beatitudes.
Here too, it is impossible to ignore the importance of a careful basic formation for aspirants to the consecrated life, according to the specific spirituality of each religious family. I am in no doubt that the bodies which coordinate men and women religious must cooperate with you in order to face this need.
In Mozambique, as in many African Countries, the role of catechists is crucial in the formation of catechumens and in encouraging many communities without a resident priest. Their generous and disinterested dedication is great and praiseworthy, but they need careful formation and special support to face their responsibility to witness to the faith before the cultural evolution of their own brothers and sisters, and to be able to guide them with the example of a holy life.
The future will depend largely on the way in which youth - who in your Country constitute the majority of the population - are able to acquire faith convictions, to live them in a context that no longer offers ethical orientations and supportive institutions as in the past, and to integrate themselves with confidence into the Ecclesial Community.
It is an immense field to which can be added the world of children, adolescents and above all students, exposed to every sort of trend and problematical issues.
I particularly encourage you in your efforts to give all young Christians the chance to receive sound religious instruction to prepare them for appropriate Christian action.
The evangelization of Christian life and the budding of vocations depends on the formation of authentically Christian families that accept the model, demands and grace of Christian marriage.
I know that there are no lack of difficulties due to the limitations of some ancient customs and also to the instability of domestic life, sorely tried by a so-called "modern" society permeated with sensualism and individualism.
The crisis will not abate unless there is a dynamic and solidly founded pastoral care of the family, with the support of family associations coordinated at the diocesan and national level.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, there are other fields where your pastoral solicitude is required: assistance to the poor, the sick and the marginalized, the attitude to adopt to face the invasion of the sects, the development of the means of social communications, etc.
Although the points mentioned already represent a burden that demands a sustained effort, if we consider the limited apostolic forces at your disposal, even calling on priests and Religious from other countries whom I hope will be generous.
I am certain that all these challenges can be overcome thanks to the faith and determination that motivate you and thanks to the Holy Spirit who never refuses his help to those who ask and seek the will of God.
This is first of all affective and effective union at the heart of your Bishops' Conference. At the Last Supper, as you know well, the Lord Jesus prayed for the unity of the Apostles so that they would imitate his union with the Father (cf. Jn 17,21). In the solid bond that unites you to the Successor of Peter, preserve and increase unity and collegial activity among yourselves.
Pool your experiences, interpret harmoniously the signs of the times regarding the needs of your own people, always moved by the spirit of fidelity to the Church.
This unity among you, Bishops, will be the centre and root of perfect ecclesial communion, which includes all in Christ: Bishops, priests, men and women religious and lay faithful.
Above all, may the Virgin Mary, to whom I entrust you, watch over you with motherly love, as I impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to your collaborators and to all the Church in Mozambique, which God has made leaven and light in the heart of your beloved Nation.
Thank you for your visit, which is particularly pleasing to me: to each one of you I address my cordial greeting.
In the first place, I greet your President, Dr Matteo Colaninno, and I thank him for the kind words that he has addressed to me in the name of all of you.
I extend my thoughts to the heads of the national, regional and provincial levels of the Small Business Youth Movement as well as to all the members of your sodality, which distinguishes itself by the fact that it is a movement of persons and not simply an organization of businesses. In this way you wish to emphasize the responsibility of the small businessman, called to make a particular contribution to the economic development of society.
Actually, the level of social well-being that Italy enjoys today would be unthinkable without the contribution of small entrepreneurs and managers, whose "roles", as the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church recalls, "have a central importance from the viewpoint of society, because they are at the heart of that network of technical, commercial, financial and cultural bonds that characterizes the modern business reality" (n. 344).
At this meeting I would like to set out some brief considerations concerning your role in the commercial environment. I take up the idea from a famous and often-cited text of the Second Vatican Council: "In business enterprises", the Council recalls, "it is persons who work together, that is, free and independent human beings, created to the image of God. Therefore, the active participation of everyone in the running of the enterprise should be promoted. This participation should be exercised in appropriately determined ways. It should take into account each person's function, whether it be one of ownership, hiring, management or labour. It should provide for the necessary unity of operations" (Gaudium et Spes GS 68).
Each enterprise must consider itself, in the first place, as a group of people whose rights and dignity are to be respected. Concerning this, I am pleased to know that your Movement, in the course of these years, is committed to vigorously emphasizing the centrality of man in the economic field.
The theme of your first National Convention of 2006: The Economy of Man, is also noteworthy. Actually, it is indispensable that the ultimate aim of every economic undertaking be the common good and the satisfaction of the legitimate expectations of the human being.
In other words, human life and its value must always be the beginning and end of the economy. In this perspective, the function of profit assumes its correct proportion as the first indication of the good performance of the company.
The Church's social Magisterium at the same time recognizes its importance, emphasizing the need to safeguard the dignity of those involved in business on various levels.
Even in moments of great crisis, the criterion that regulates entrepreneurial choices cannot be merely the promotion of greater profit. The above-cited Compendium affirms in this regard: "Business owners and management must not limit themselves to taking into account only the economic objectives of the company, the criteria for economic efficiency and the proper care of "capital' as the sum of the means of production. It is also their precise duty to respect concretely the human dignity of those who work within the company.
"These workers", the text continues, "constitute "the firm's most valuable asset' and the decisive factor of production. In important decisions concerning strategy and finances, in decisions to buy or sell, to resize, close or to merge a site, financial and commercial criteria must not be the only considerations made" (n. 344).
It is necessary that the workplace return to being the environment where man can realize his own potential, putting his personal capacities and ingenuity to use, and much depends on you, business owners, to create the most favourable conditions for this to occur.
It is true, all of this is not easy since the business world is marked by a strong and persistent crisis, but I am certain that you will spare no effort to safeguard the employment, especially of youth. In fact, to confidently build their own future, they must be able to count on a font of sure means of support for themselves and their dear ones.
Besides the centrality of man in the economy, your reflection in the course of these years has faced other highly topical issues, for example, that of the family in Italian business. Several times I have been able to repeat the importance of the family founded on marriage as the supporting element of a society's life and development.
To work in favour of the family means to contribute to renewing the social fabric and also to ensuring the foundations of an authentic economic development.
Another important theme that you emphasize is the complex phenomenon of globalization. This is a phenomenon which, if on the one hand nourishes the hope of a more general participation in the development and diffusion of well-being thanks to the redistribution of production on a world scale, on the other, presents various risks linked to the new dimensions of commercial and financial relationships, which move towards a greater gap between the economic riches of the few and the growth in poverty of the many.
As my venerable Predecessor John Paul II was able to affirm in an incisive way, it is a duty "to ensure a globalization in solidarity, a globalization without marginalization" (Message for the 1998 World Day of Peace, L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 17/25 December 1997, p. 3, n. 3).
Dear friends, may the Lord enlighten your minds and strengthen your will so that you can fulfil your mission as a precious service to society.
With these sentiments, while I assure you of a particular remembrance in my prayers for each one of you and for your business activities, I heartily bless you together with your families and loved ones.
Faithful Brothers and Sisters,
Those of the Syro-Malankara Synod,
I am pleased to welcome you on your first visit to Rome since your election as Major Archbishop of the beloved Catholic Syro-Malankara Church. I am most grateful to Your Beatitude for your affectionate and respectful greetings, and I thank you sincerely for your eager wish to “see Peter” (cf. Gal Ga 1,18). Together let us give thanks to God for this providential opportunity to confirm that bond of communion with the See of Rome of which your community is justly proud.
My thoughts turn to the distinguished Pastors that the Holy Spirit has called forth to lead your people to rediscover unity with Peter’s Successor. I think especially of Mar Ivannios, who in 1930 solemnly professed the Catholic faith, and set out generously upon an ecclesial path rich in blessings. This made it possible for my predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, to raise the Syro-Malankara Church to the level of a Major Archbishopric in February 2005. The Venerable Cyril Mar Baselios, Metropolitan sui juris of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars, thus became your first Major Archbishop. In this capacity, he travelled to Rome to represent the Malankara community, as the Church and the world took leave of that beloved Pontiff, who had since been called to the Father’s House. Soon afterwards, Mar Baselios himself was to follow him. Today we sense the closeness of these unforgettable Pastors, as the Syro-Malankara Church continues her generous mission, filled with confidence in God’s grace.
The precious heritage of your ecclesial tradition was placed in the hands of Your Beatitude through the act of canonical election conducted by the Fathers of the Syro-Malankara Synod. May the Lord grant you an abundance of spiritual gifts so that this heritage may continue to bear much fruit, according to the Lord’s will.
As Peter’s Successor, I happily confirmed the Synod’s decision. Now the universal Church, together with all those who belong to your ecclesial tradition, is counting upon Your Beatitude to ensure that the Malankara community can proceed along a twofold path. On the one hand, through faithfulness to the Apostolic See you will always participate fully in the universal breath of the one Church of Christ; on the other hand your fidelity to the specifically Eastern features of your tradition will enable the whole Church to benefit from what in his manifold wisdom “the Spirit is saying to the Churches” (cf. Rev Ap 2,7 et passim).
In your capacity as Head and Shepherd of the Syro-Malankara Church, Your Beatitude has been entrusted with the mission of leading and sustaining the Christian witness and ecclesial life of the faithful of that noble Church throughout the vast Indian Sub-Continent and the other regions where Syro-Malankara Catholics are found. At the same time you are seeking to address the major challenges that present themselves at the start of this Third Christian Millennium. Now is a time of new evangelization, a time of constantly renewed and convinced dialogue with all our brothers and sisters who share our Christian faith, a time of respectful and fruitful encounter between religions and cultures for the good of all, and especially the poorest of the poor. Our commitment to evangelization needs to be constantly renewed, as we strive to build peace, in justice and solidarity, for the whole human family. May you always draw strength from the Lord and from the collegial support of your Brother Bishops —the members of the Synod. Please assure them of my prayers and convey my special greetings to them on the happy occasion of the 75th anniversary of the establishment of the Syro-Malankara hierarchy.
We are still breathing the atmosphere of Pentecost and we wish to linger with the Holy Mother of God and the Apostles in the Upper Room of Jerusalem, docile to the action of the Spirit. To the Holy Virgin I entrust my prayers for Your Beatitude and for the whole Syro-Malankara Church, asking that the gift of the Spirit may continue to nourish and strengthen you as you bear witness to the Gospel of Christ. With these sentiments I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, my Venerable Brother, and to all the sons and daughters of the Syro-Malankara Church.
Thank you, God bless you.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all" (II Thes 3: 18).
With the words of the Apostle Paul I address a cordial greeting to all of you who form the large family of those who work in the various Offices of Vatican City State.
I greet the Cardinal Members of the Pontifical Commission and the President, Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, whom I thank for the kind words of welcome. My greeting extends to the other Cardinals and the Superiors of the Governorate.
I thank you all for having come here and for the generosity with which you contribute at various levels to the diverse activities that the Governorate complex is called to administer.
I extend a special greeting to the Vatican Museum's Patrons of the Arts who have been so kind to join us. Thank you for making such a long journey from the United States, England, Ireland, Portugal and Chile. Your generosity gives splendid witness to the beauty of the faith, expressed so richly in the works of art you have graciously helped to restore.
My thought goes in a particular way to you, dear friends, who render your service in the different sectors of our little State, from the most visible to the most hidden.
Daily I notice and appreciate the fruit of your commitment and competence, and I came here in order to say my sincere thanks to you and to give you a concrete sign of my closeness.
I know well that your service is often tiring and that it requires sacrifices that sometimes involve both you and your families: this makes my thanks even more heartfelt. And I welcome the occasion to greet your relatives, some of whom are here with us this evening.
The Governorate, by whom you are employed, carries out an important function. When my Venerable Predecessor Pius XI concluded the negotiations for the Lateran Treaty, he was concerned that the Holy See could count on "that bit of territory" to guarantee "absolute independence for the fulfilment of its lofty mission in the world".
Performing your duties with commitment, dear friends, you assure the daily life of the State and help the Pope in fulfilling the ministry that the Lord has entrusted to him at the service of the Church and the world.
Hence, it is not out of place to define you as "collaborators of the Pope", and as such to greet you today, exactly here, in front of this building that ideally symbolizes the various offices where you carry out your duties.
Therefore, you work in the Vatican for and with the Pope; you work in the places that have seen the witness of many martyrs and above all of the Apostle Peter. This asks of you, besides competence, professionalism and dedication, also a serious commitment to be Gospel witnesses.
I count on you, and I ask you to grow each day in the knowledge of the Christian faith, in friendship with God and in the generous service of your brethren.
I exhort you, therefore, at home and at work, to be always faithful to your Baptism, and to be docile disciples and credible witnesses of the Lord Jesus. Only in this way can you make your precious contribution to the spreading of the Gospel and the edification of the civilization of love.
A little while ago, in the Governorate Chapel, I blessed a beautiful image of the Blessed Mother, whom you venerate as "Mother of the Family". I also blessed the new organ expressly desired to accompany the song of the liturgical assembly that unites you for the daily Holy Mass.
The Church's presence amid your offices and workplaces reminds you each day that the paternal glance of God, in his providence, follows you and takes care of each one of you.
May prayer, which is confident dialogue with the Lord, and also midweek participation in the celebration of the Divine Sacrifice that unites us to Christ the Saviour, be the secret and strength of your days and sustain you always, especially in difficult moments.
I have also been informed that the projects of the Governorate include a fountain dedicated to St Joseph, subsidized by generous donors. The Spouse of the Virgin Mary, head of the Holy Family and Patron of the Church, can quite rightly be considered the example and model for those committed in the numerous services of the Governorate, who for the most part carry out services that are humble and silent, but which are an indispensable support for the activity of the Holy See.
I hope, therefore, that the project will be successfully completed. And I ask St Joseph to protect you and your families always.
Besides the protection of St Joseph I invoke upon you the maternal assistance of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, who watches us from above this building. I entrust all of you to her: may her maternal smile accompany you and may her intercession obtain for you God's choicest Blessings.
While I wholeheartedly bless you, once again I thank you for your work.
Speeches 2005-13 13157