Speeches 2005-13 17367



Your Holiness,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican, together with the Bishops and the priests who have accompanied you on this visit. My warm greetings extend to all the members of the Holy Synod, the clergy and the faithful of the Assyrian Church of the East. I pray – in the words of the Apostle Saint Paul – that “the Lord himself, who is our source of joy, may give you peace at all times and in every way” (
2Th 3,16).

On several occasions Your Holiness met with my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II. Most significant was your visit in November 1994, when you came to Rome, accompanied by members of your Holy Synod, to sign a Common Declaration concerning Christology. This Declaration included the decision to establish a Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Assyrian Church of the East. The Joint Commission has undertaken an important study of the sacramental life in our respective traditions and forged an agreement on the Anaphora of the Apostles Addai and Mari. I am most grateful for the results of this dialogue, which hold out the promise of further progress on other disputed questions. Indeed, these achievements deserve to be better known and appreciated, since they make possible various forms of pastoral cooperation between our two communities.

The Assyrian Church of the East is rooted in ancient lands whose names are associated with the history of God’s saving plan for all mankind. At the time of the early Church, the Christians of these lands made a remarkable contribution to the spread of the Gospel, particularly through their missionary activity in the more remote areas of the East. Today, tragically, Christians in this region are suffering both materially and spiritually. Particularly in Iraq, the homeland of so many of the Assyrian faithful, Christian families and communities are feeling increasing pressure from insecurity, aggression and a sense of abandonment. Many of them see no other possibility than to leave the country and to seek a new future abroad. These difficulties are a source of great concern to me, and I wish to express my solidarity with the pastors and the faithful of the Christian communities who remain there, often at the price of heroic sacrifices. In these troubled areas the faithful, both Catholic and Assyrian, are called to work together. I hope and pray that they will find ever more effective ways to support and assist one another for the good of all.

As a result of successive waves of emigration, many Christians from the Eastern Churches are now living in the West. This new situation presents a variety of challenges to their Christian identity and their life as a community. At the same time, when Christians from the East and West live side by side, they have a precious opportunity to enrich one another and to understand more fully the catholicity of the Church, which, as a pilgrim in this world, lives, prays and bears witness to Christ in a variety of cultural, social and human contexts. With complete respect for each other’s doctrinal and disciplinary traditions, Catholic and Assyrian Christians are called to reject antagonistic attitudes and polemical statements, to grow in understanding of the Christian faith which they share and to bear witness as brothers and sisters to Jesus Christ “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1Co 1,24).

New hopes and possibilities sometimes awaken new fears, and this is also true with regard to ecumenical relations. Certain recent developments in the Assyrian Church of the East have created some obstacles to the promising work of the Joint Commission. It is to be hoped that the fruitful labour which the Commission has accomplished over the years can continue, while never losing sight of the ultimate goal of our common journey towards the re-establishment of full communion.

Working for Christian unity is, in fact, a duty born of our fidelity to Christ, the Shepherd of the Church, who gave his life “to gather into one the dispersed children of God” (Jn 11,51-52).

However long and laborious the path towards unity may seem, we are asked by the Lord to join our hands and hearts, so that together we can bear clearer witness to him and better serve our brothers and sisters, particularly in the troubled regions of the East, where many of our faithful look to us, their Pastors, with hope and expectation.

With these sentiments, I once more thank Your Holiness for your presence here today and for your commitment to continuing along the path of dialogue and unity. May the Lord abundantly bless your ministry and sustain you and the faithful whom you serve with his gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.


Your Beatitudes,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Friends of ROACO,

Today's encounter reawakens in me the joy of my recent Visit to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches on the 90th anniversary of its institution. In that circumstance, you, Your Eminence, expressed a particular greeting in the name of the Agencies linked to the Dicastery and now again you have been the interpreter of their collective cordial greeting.

I exchange the kind wishes of His Beatitude Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, the Archbishop Secretary Antonio Maria Vegliò, to the collaborators of the Congregation, to the representatives of the Agencies that comprise ROACO (Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches) and to all the participants at this annual gathering.

The presence of the venerable Eastern Prelates permits me to share in the suffering and worry for the delicate situation prevailing in vast areas of the Middle East. Peace, much implored and awaited, is unfortunately still widely violated.

It is violated in the hearts of individuals, and this compromises interpersonal and community relationships. Old and new injustices further weaken the fragile peace. Thus, it wilts and leaves room for violence, which often degenerates into more or less declared war, until it constitutes, as in our day, a persistent international problem.

Together with each one of you, I feel I am in communion with all the Churches and Christian communities as well as with those who venerate the Name of God and seek him in sincerity of conscience, and with all men of good will I wish to knock again at the heart of God, Creator and Father, to ask with immense trust for the gift of peace.

I knock at the heart of those who have specific responsibilities so that they may adhere to their grave duty to impartially guarantee peace for all, freeing them from the mortal illness of religious, cultural, historic or geographic discrimination.

With peace, the whole earth rediscovers its vocation and mission to be the "common home" for every people and nation, thanks to the shared commitment to a dialogue that is always sincere and responsible.

Once again I assure you that the Holy Land, Iraq and Lebanon are present, with the urgency and constancy they deserve, in the prayer and action of the Apostolic See and of the whole Church.
I ask the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and each of the Agencies linked to its work to adhere with the same concern so as to make your closeness and intervention more incisive for the benefit of so many of our brothers and sisters. They already feel the comfort of the ecclesial brotherhood and, as we hope with fervent prayer, may they soon see the day of peace dawn.
With these sentiments, I renew to Your Beatitude, the Chaldean Patriarch who is with us today, the Pope's sympathy for the barbaric killing of a defenceless priest and three subdeacons that took place at the end of the Sunday liturgy this past 3 June in Iraq.

With affection and admiration the entire Church accompanies all her sons and daughters and she sustains them in this hour of authentic martyrdom for the Name of Christ.

My embrace equally includes the Pontifical Representative and the Pastors coming from Israel and Palestine, so that they may share their strengthened, tested hope with their own faithful.

As I extend my cordial thoughts to the Apostolic Nuncio and to the dear Bishops from Turkey, I am pleased to recall the consideration of that beloved Ecclesial Community during my Apostolic Visit.

Dear friends, on the Visit to the Oriental Dicastery cited above, thinking of ROACO's work, I had occasion to say: "The charitable movement, which the Congregation is supervising by the Pope's mandate so that the Holy Land and other Eastern regions can receive in an orderly and balanced manner the necessary spiritual and material support for their ordinary ecclesial life and special needs, must continue, indeed, must grow" (Address, 9 June 2007, L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, 27 June, n. 26, p. 3).

I thank you for having consolidated the praiseworthy habit of collaborating with the Congregation. I encourage you to continue it, so that your unique contribution that witnesses to ecclesial charity may find its full expression in the communitarian form it exercises.

Your presence confirms the will to avoid an individualistic management of the planned works and of the allocation of available funds deriving from the faithful's charity. You know well, in fact, what a dangerous illusion it is to think one can work better on one's own: the effort of comparing and collaborating is always a guarantee of a more ordered and just service.

And it is clearly attested that it is not the single individual, but rather the Church that gives what the Lord destined for all in his providential goodness.

As regards the irreversibility of the ecumenical choice and the unbreakability of the interreligious choice, which I have often repeated, I want to emphasize on this occasion how they draw nourishment from the movement of ecclesial charity. Such choices are none other than expressions of the same charity, the only one able to spur the steps of dialogue and to open unhoped for horizons.

While we implore the Lord to hasten the day of full unity among Christians and that of the much-awaited interreligious common life based on reciprocal respect, we ask him to bless our endeavours and enlighten us so that our work may never diminish but rather increase ecclesial communion.

May he make us always more attentive so that, far from any type of indifferentism, we may never shirk, in the exercise of charity, the mission of the local Catholic community.

In practice our ecumenical and interreligious sensitivity must always be built on the local Catholic Churches' involvement with the most cordial appreciation of the different ritual expressions.

Then, recalling the words of St Paul: "So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth" (1Co 3,7), may we always glimpse through prayer the true source of commitment in charity and by it, verify its authenticity.

The same Apostle's admonition is clear: "Let each man take care how he builds upon it. For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ" (1Co 3,10-11).
Being rooted in the Eucharist is indispensable to our work. The future scope of ecclesial charity must be based on the "Eucharistic measure": only what does not contradict, but rather finds and draws nourishment from the mystery of Eucharistic love and by the vision of the cosmos, man and history that flows from it, can guarantee the authenticity of our giving and provide us with a sure foundation on which to build.

It is what I affirmed in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis: "The food of truth demands that we denounce inhumane situations in which people starve to death because of injustice and exploitation, and it gives us renewed strength and courage to work tirelessly in the service of the civilization of love" (n. 90).

But it is precisely the Eucharistic inspiration of our action that will radically challenge man who cannot live by bread alone (cf. Lc 4,4), proclaiming to him the food of eternal life prepared by God in his Son Jesus.

I entrust these prospects to you with great trust and I renew deep thanks to His Beatitude Cardinal Ignace Moussa Daoud, who has worked hard in these years as President of ROACO.

Invoking the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God upon your works, I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing.


Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I am happy to receive you while you are making your ad limina visit. Your pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles is a visible sign of your communion with the Successor of Peter and of the bonds that unite your particular Churches with the universal Church.

I thank Bishop Ambroise Djoliba of Sokodé, President of the Bishops' Conference of Togo, for his kind words on your behalf.

Through you, I address an affectionate greeting to the members of your Dioceses, the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and all the lay faithful. May they be faithful in all circumstances to the Lord's commandment: "Even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (Jn 13,34)!

Likewise, please express to the entire Togolese People the Pope's cordial greetings and fervent good wishes that they may persevere ceaselessly in the endeavour to build a just and reconciled society in which each person may live in dignity.

Dear Brothers, I would like to express my gratitude to you for your perseverance and courage amid the numerous difficulties that your Country has experienced in these recent years. You have contributed on many occasions to the dialogue for national reconciliation, reminding everyone of the requirements of the common good, in fidelity to the truth of God and of man. I ask the Lord to bring these efforts to fruition so that your Country may know a prosperous life in fraternal harmony.

Nor has the life of the Church been exempt from distressing situations.

Your constant efforts to encourage the unity of your Bishops' Conference are the sign that in all circumstances charity must continue to be ever stronger, and that the visible communion of Christ's disciples is an essential reality to be preserved if the Church's witness is to be credible.

In this same perspective, an authentic brotherhood between the Bishops and priests, as well as among the priests themselves, is the hallmark of their full communion, indispensable for the fruitful accomplishment of their ministry. They then will all be able to work in truth for reconciliation within the Church and among the Togolese in general.

May all your diocesan priests, with whose generosity I am well acquainted, be faithful to their vocation in the total gift of themselves to their mission and in full communion with their Bishop (cf. Ecclesia in Africa )!

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, you have the opportunity to carry out your pastoral ministry by participating in your own capacity in the life of the people entrusted to your care.

In fact, "as a body organized within the community and the nation, the Church has both the right and the duty to participate fully in building a just and peaceful society with all the means at her disposal" (ibid., n. 107).

I praise in particular your commitment to the protection of and respect for life which you have had the opportunity to express on numerous occasions, and quite recently demonstrating it once again in detail by your opposition to abortion.

Moreover, the promotion of the truth and dignity of marriage as well as the preservation of essential family values must feature among your principal priorities.

Pastoral care of the family is an essential element for evangelization and enables young people to discover what a commitment that is unique and faithful entails. I therefore urge you to pay special attention to the formation of couples and families.

Through her work of social assistance and her action in the health-care sector in which numerous competent men and women religious and lay people are involved, the Church also expresses God's loving presence to people suffering or in distress and contributes to the progress of justice and respect for human dignity.

In this same perspective, I encourage you to continue your efforts to promote Catholic schools, which provide an integral education at the service of families and of the transmission of faith. Their role, despite the great difficulties they can encounter, is essential to enabling young people to acquire a sound human, cultural and religious formation.

May educators and teachers themselves be models of Christian life for the young!

To succeed in establishing a fully reconciled society, it is of the utmost importance to start out afresh from Christ, who alone can definitively grant this grace to humankind. The work of evangelization is therefore urgently necessary.

Here, I would particularly like to greet with affection the catechists: in your Country, together with the priests and other pastoral workers, they make an effective and generous contribution to proclaiming the Word of God to their brothers and sisters.

In the face of the challenges to the Church's evangelizing mission posed by the contemporary world, the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Africa continues to be a precious guide for your Dioceses and gives them the possibility of strengthening the faithful in the faith and helping them "to persevere in the hope which the Risen Christ gives, overcoming every temptation to discouragement" (n. 7).

The inculturation of the Gospel message, carried out in fidelity to the Church's teaching, contributes to rooting the faith effectively in your people, enabling them to accept the figure of Jesus Christ in all dimensions of their lives. Indeed, the faithful must allow themselves to be transformed by the grace of God who sets them free, banishing all fear from their hearts for "there is no fear in love" (1Jn 4,18).

While respecting the rich traditions that are the vibrant expression of their people's soul, Christians must adamantly reject all that is in opposition to the liberating message of Christ and which encloses the human being and society in alienation. This requires that the formation of priests and of consecrated and lay people must have priority in the pastoral care of your Dioceses.

"People who have never had the chance to learn cannot really know the truths of faith, nor can they perform actions which they have never been taught" (Ecclesia in Africa ).

The formation offered to Christians must give them the means to deepen their faith so that they can face the difficult situations they encounter and transmit the content of the faith through their witness of life, sustained by firm personal convictions.

Moreover, this formation must also help the lay faithful to acquire skills that permit them to be committed to working for the common good in the life of society.

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church is henceforth a precious instrument at the service of the formation of all and of lay people in particular. Their involvement in public life, through respect for life, the promotion of justice, the defence of human rights and the integral development of the human person, is a witness borne to Christ. In this way the faithful take part in the construction and development of the nation, as well as in the task of the world's evangelization.

Lastly, I would like to stress the need to pursue and to deepen the cordial relations with Muslims that exist in your Country. Indeed, such relations are indispensable for concord and harmony among all citizens and the promotion of values common to humanity.

By training competent people in the ecclesial institutions founded with a view to interreligious dialogue, you foster a better mutual knowledge, in charity and in truth, for an effective collaboration in the area of the development of individuals and of society.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, at the end of this meeting, I ask you to persevere with courage and determination in your ministry at the service of the people entrusted to you. May the Lord accompany you with his power and light.

I entrust each one of your Dioceses to the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, and I willingly impart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to you as well as to the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and all the lay faithful of your Dioceses.


Your Eminence,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends!

I am particularly pleased to receive you during the first European Meeting of University Lecturers, sponsored by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and organized by teachers from the Roman universities, coordinated by the Vicariate of Rome’s Office for the Pastoral Care of Universities. It is taking place on the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which gave rise to the present European Union, and its participants include university lecturers from every country on the continent, including those of the Caucasus: Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. I thank Cardinal Péter Erdo, President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, for his kind words of introduction. I greet the representatives of the Italian government, particularly those from the Ministry for Universities and Research, and from the Ministry for Italy’s Cultural Heritage, as well as the representatives of the Region of Lazio and the Province and City of Rome. My greeting also goes to the other civil and religious authorities, the Rectors and the teachers of the various universities, as well as the chaplains and students present.

The theme of your meeting – "A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities" – invites a disciplined assessment of contemporary culture on the continent. Europe is presently experiencing a certain social instability and diffidence in the face of traditional values, yet her distinguished history and her established academic institutions have much to contribute to shaping a future of hope. The "question of man", which is central to your discussions, is essential for a correct understanding of current cultural processes. It also provides a solid point of departure for the effort of universities to create a new cultural presence and activity in the service of a more united Europe. Promoting a new humanism, in fact, requires a clear understanding of what this "newness" actually embodies. Far from being the fruit of a superficial desire for novelty, the quest for a new humanism must take serious account of the fact that Europe today is experiencing a massive cultural shift, one in which men and women are increasingly conscious of their call to be actively engaged in shaping their own history. Historically, it was in Europe that humanism developed, thanks to the fruitful interplay between the various cultures of her peoples and the Christian faith. Europe today needs to preserve and reappropriate her authentic tradition if she is to remain faithful to her vocation as the cradle of humanism.

The present cultural shift is often seen as a "challenge" to the culture of the university and Christianity itself, rather than as a "horizon" against which creative solutions can and must be found. As men and women of higher education, you are called to take part in this demanding task, which calls for sustained reflection on a number of foundational issues.

Among these, I would mention in the first place the need for a comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity. European culture in recent centuries has been powerfully conditioned by the notion of modernity. The present crisis, however, has less to do with modernity’s insistence on the centrality of man and his concerns, than with the problems raised by a "humanism" that claims to build a regnum hominis detached from its necessary ontological foundation. A false dichotomy between theism and authentic humanism, taken to the extreme of positing an irreconcilable conflict between divine law and human freedom, has led to a situation in which humanity, for all its economic and technical advances, feels deeply threatened. As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, stated, we need to ask "whether in the context of all this progress, man, as man, is becoming truly better, that is to say, more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible and more open to others" (Redemptor Hominis RH 15). The anthropocentrism which characterizes modernity can never be detached from an acknowledgment of the full truth about man, which includes his transcendent vocation.

A second issue involves the broadening of our understanding of rationality. A correct understanding of the challenges posed by contemporary culture, and the formulation of meaningful responses to those challenges, must take a critical approach towards narrow and ultimately irrational attempts to limit the scope of reason. The concept of reason needs instead to be "broadened" in order to be able to explore and embrace those aspects of reality which go beyond the purely empirical. This will allow for a more fruitful, complementary approach to the relationship between faith and reason. The rise of the European universities was fostered by the conviction that faith and reason are meant to cooperate in the search for truth, each respecting the nature and legitimate autonomy of the other, yet working together harmoniously and creatively to serve the fulfilment of the human person in truth and love.

A third issue needing to be investigated concerns the nature of the contribution which Christianity can make to the humanism of the future. The question of man, and thus of modernity, challenges the Church to devise effective ways of proclaiming to contemporary culture the "realism" of her faith in the saving work of Christ. Christianity must not be relegated to the world of myth and emotion, but respected for its claim to shed light on the truth about man, to be able to transform men and women spiritually, and thus to enable them to carry out their vocation in history. In my recent visit to Brazil, I voiced my conviction that "unless we do know God in and with Christ, all of reality becomes an indecipherable enigma" (Address to Bishops of CELAM, 3). Knowledge can never be limited to the purely intellectual realm; it also includes a renewed ability to look at things in a way free of prejudices and preconceptions, and to allow ourselves to be "amazed" by reality, whose truth can be discovered by uniting understanding with love. Only the God who has a human face, revealed in Jesus Christ, can prevent us from truncating reality at the very moment when it demands ever new and more complex levels of understanding. The Church is conscious of her responsibility to offer this contribution to contemporary culture.

In Europe, as elsewhere, society urgently needs the service to wisdom which the university community provides. This service extends also to the practical aspects of directing research and activity to the promotion of human dignity and to the daunting task of building the civilization of love. University professors, in particular, are called to embody the virtue of intellectual charity, recovering their primordial vocation to train future generations not only by imparting knowledge but by the prophetic witness of their own lives. The university, for its part, must never lose sight of its particular calling to be an "universitas" in which the various disciplines, each in its own way, are seen as part of a greater unum.How urgent is the need to rediscover the unity of knowledge and to counter the tendency to fragmentation and lack of communicability that is all too often the case in our schools! The effort to reconcile the drive to specialization with the need to preserve the unity of knowledge can encourage the growth of European unity and help the continent to rediscover its specific cultural "vocation" in today’s world. Only a Europe conscious of its own cultural identity can make a specific contribution to other cultures, while remaining open to the contribution of other peoples.

Dear friends, it is my hope that universities will increasingly become communities committed to the tireless pursuit of truth, "laboratories of culture" where teachers and students join in exploring issues of particular importance for society, employing interdisciplinary methods and counting on the collaboration of theologians. This can easily be done in Europe, given the presence of so many prestigious Catholic institutions and faculties of theology. I am convinced that greater cooperation and new forms of fellowship between the various academic communities will enable Catholic universities to bear witness to the historical fruitfulness of the encounter between faith and reason. The result will be a concrete contribution to the attainment of the goals of the Bologna Process, and an incentive for developing a suitable university apostolate in the local Churches. Effective support for these efforts, which have been increasingly a concern of the European Episcopal Conferences (cf. Ecclesia in Europa, 58-59), can come from those ecclesial associations and movements already engaged in the university apostolate.

Dear friends, may your deliberations during these days prove fruitful and help to build an active network of university instructors committed to bringing the light of the Gospel to contemporary culture. I assure you and your families of a special remembrance in my prayers, and I invoke upon you, and the universities in which you work, the maternal protection of Mary, Seat of Wisdom. To each of you I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I accepted with joy the invitation addressed to me by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Librarian of Holy Roman Church, to visit the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Secret Archives of the Vatican.

Because of the important service they render to the Apostolic See and to the world of culture, both these institutions certainly deserve special attention on the part of the Pope. I have therefore gladly come to meet you and as I thank you for your warm welcome, I address my cordial greeting to you all.

In the first place, I greet Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, whom I thank for his words and the sentiments he has expressed on your behalf. With equal affection I greet Bishop Raffaele Farina and the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Fr Sergio Pagano, as well as those of you who are present here and all who collaborate in various capacities in the Library and in the Archives.

Your work, dear friends, is not merely work but, as I have just said, a unique service that you offer to the Church and especially to the Pope.

Moreover, it is well known that the Vatican Library, which - as Cardinal Tauran has just announced - is getting ready for an immense restoration project, is not called "Apostolic" by chance, since it is an institution which since its foundation has been held to be the "Pope's library", belonging directly to him.

In recent times too, the Servant of God John Paul II desired to recall this bond which binds the Vatican Apostolic Library to the Successor of Peter and which sheds light on its special mission, stressed by Pope Sixtus IV in former times: "Ad decorem militantis Ecclesiae et fidei augmentum - for the decorum of the militant Church and for the dissemination of the faith".

This was echoed by another of my Predecessors, Pope Nicholas V, who mentioned its purpose in these words: "Pro communi doctorum virorum commodo - for the use and common interest of scholars".

Down the centuries, the Vatican Library has assimilated and refined this mission, giving it an unmistakeable character so that it has become a welcoming house of knowledge, culture and humanity, which opens its doors to scholars from every part of the world, irrespective of their origin, religion or culture.

Your task, dear friends who work here every day, is to foster the synthesis between culture and faith which transpires from the valuable documents and treasures in your custody, from the walls that surround you, from the Museums near you and from the splendid, luminous Basilica which can be seen from your windows.

I am very familiar with the work you carry out with humble and almost hidden daily commitment in the Secret Archives, the destination of so many researchers who come from across the world: in the manuscripts, less grand than the rich codices in the Apostolic Library but equally important for their historical interest, these researchers seek the roots of many ecclesiastical and civil institutions and study the history of remote and more recent times.

Furthermore, they can trace the outline of the distinguished figures of the Church and of civilization and make the many-faceted work of the Roman Pontiffs and numerous other Pastors better known.
The Vatican Archives were opened for consultation to scholars in 1881 by Leo XIII with his wise foresight; entire generations of historians have referred to them, as indeed have the European nations themselves.

The latter, to encourage research into such an ancient and rich scrinium as the Church of Rome, founded specific cultural Institutes in the Eternal City.

Today, people turn to the Secret Archives not only for erudite research concerning periods remote from us - although this in itself is praiseworthy and highly commendable - but also for their interest in ages and times that are close to us, even very close.

This is proven by the initial results produced to date thanks to the recent opening to scholars of the Pontificate of Pius XI, on which I decided in June 2006.

Besides research projects, studies and publications, polemics may sometimes arise. In this regard I have nothing but praise for the unselfish and unbiased service which the Vatican Secret Archives has carried out, steering clear of barren and also often weak and partisan historical views and offering to researchers, without exceptions or preconceptions, the documentary material in its possession, which has been seriously and competently organized.

The Secret Archives, as also the Apostolic Library, receive from many places tokens of the appreciation and esteem of cultural institutes and private scholars from different nations. This seems to me to be the best recognition to which the two Institutions can aspire. And I would like to assure them both, their Superiors and all their Personnel at the different structural levels of my gratitude and closeness.

I confess that, on reaching 70 years of age, I would have liked for beloved John Paul II to permit me to devote myself to study and research into the interesting documents and materials that you carefully conserve, true masterpieces that help us to review the history of humanity and of Christianity.

In his providential design the Lord had other plans for me and here I am with you today, not as a passionate scholar of ancient texts but rather as a Pastor who is required to encourage all the faithful to cooperate in the world's salvation, each one doing God's will wherever God places us to work.

For you, dear friends, this means fulfilling your Christian vocation in contact with the rich testimonies of culture, knowledge and spirituality, spending your days and in the end a large part of your lives in study, publication and service to the public and particularly to the bodies of the Roman Curia.

For your multifaceted activity you avail yourselves of the most advanced information technology, in cataloguing, restoration, photography and in general in everything that concerns the protection and fruition of the very rich patrimony that you preserve.

In praising you for your commitment, I urge you always to view your work as a true mission to be carried out with passion and patience, kindness and a spirit of faith. Always be concerned to present a welcoming image of the Apostolic See, aware that the Gospel message also passes through your consistent Christian testimony.

Now, at the end of our meeting, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. I have appointed Bishop Raffaele Farina to replace him as Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church, and have raised him at the same time to the dignity of Archbishop.

I have called upon Mons. Cesare Pasini, until now Vice-Prefect of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, to succeed him as Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Straightaway, I wish both of them success in their new offices.

I now thank all of you once again for your precious service in the Apostolic Library and in the Vatican Archives. I impart my Blessing warmly and with special affection to each one of you and willingly extend it to your respective families and loved ones.

Speeches 2005-13 17367