Speeches 2005-13 16117


Your Eminence,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Fathers,

It is a particular pleasure for me to greet you, the Superiors General of Missionary Societies of Apostolic Life, meeting here in Rome at the invitation of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. Your assembly, which brings together the Superiors of the fifteen Missionary Societies of pontifical right and the six of diocesan right, bears eloquent witness to the continuing vitality of the missionary impulse in the Church and the spirit of communion uniting your members and their manifold activities to the Successor of Peter and his universal apostolic ministry.

Your meeting is also a concrete sign of the historic relationship between the various Missionary Societies of Apostolic Life and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In these days you have sought to examine new ways of consolidating and strengthening this privileged relationship. As the Second Vatican Council observed, Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to every creature applies primarily and immediately to the College of Bishops, cum et sub Petro (cf. Ad Gentes
AGD 38). Within the hierarchical unity of the Body of Christ, enriched by the variety of gifts and charisms bestowed by the Spirit, communion with the successors of the Apostles remains the criterion and guarantee of the spiritual fruitfulness of all missionary activity. For the Church’s communion in faith, hope and love is itself the sign and foretaste of that unity and peace which is God’s plan in Christ for the whole human family.

One of the promising indications of a renewal in the Church’s missionary consciousness in recent decades has been the growing desire of many lay men and women, whether single or married, to cooperate generously in the missio ad gentes. As the Council stressed, the work of evangelization is a fundamental duty incumbent upon the whole People of God, and all the baptized are called to “a lively awareness of their personal responsibility for the spreading of the Gospel” (Ad Gentes AGD 36). While some Missionary Societies have had a long history of close collaboration with lay men and women, others have only more recently developed forms of lay association with their apostolate. Given the extent and the importance of the contribution made by these associates to the work of the various Societies, the proper forms of their cooperation should naturally be governed by specific statutes and clear directives respectful of each institute’s proper canonical identity.

Dear friends, our meeting today gives me a welcome opportunity to express my gratitude to you and to all the members of your Societies, past and present, for your enduring commitment to the Church’s mission. Today, as in the past, missionaries continue to leave their families and homes, often at great sacrifice, for the sole purpose of proclaiming the Good News of Christ and serving him in their brothers and sisters. Many of them, also in our time, have heroically confirmed their preaching by the shedding of their blood, and contributed to establishing the Church in distant lands. Today, changed circumstances have led in many cases to a decrease in the number of young people who are attracted to missionary societies, and a consequent decline in missionary outreach. All the same, as the late Pope John Paul II insisted, the mission ad gentes is still only beginning, and the Lord is summoning us, all of us, to be committed wholeheartedly to its service (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 1). “The harvest is great!” (Mt 9,37) While conscious of the challenges you face, I encourage you to follow faithfully in the footsteps of your founders, and to stir into flame the charisms and apostolic zeal which you have inherited from them, confident that Christ will continue to work with you and to confirm your preaching with signs of his presence and power (cf. Mc 16,20).

With great affection, I commend you, together with the members and associates of your various Societies, to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of the Church. To all of you I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, strength and peace in the Lord.


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

I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of this International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care. I address my cordial greeting to each of you, which goes in the first place to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, with sentiments of gratitude for the kind expressions he addressed to me in the name of all. With him I greet the Secretary and the other members of the Pontifical Council, the distinguished persons present and all those who are taking part in this meeting to reflect together on the theme of the pastoral care of the aged sick. This is a central aspect of pastoral health care today, which, thanks to the increase in life span, concerns an ever greater population who have multiple needs, but at the same time indubitable human and spiritual resources.

If it is true that human life in every phase is worthy of the maximum respect, in some sense it is even more so when it is marked by age and sickness. Old age constitutes the last step of our earthly pilgrimage, which has distinct phases, each with its own lights and shadows. One may ask: does a human being who moves toward a rather precarious condition due to age and sickness still have a reason to exist? Why continue to defend life when the challenge of illness becomes dramatic, and why not instead accept euthanasia as a liberation? Is it possible to live illness as a human experience to accept with patience and courage?

The person called to accompany the aged sick must confront these questions, especially when there seems to be no possibility of healing. Today's efficiency mentality often tends to marginalize our suffering brothers and sisters, as if they were only a "weight" and "a problem" for society. The person with a sense of human dignity knows that they are to respect and sustain them while they face serious difficulties linked to their condition. Indeed, recourse to the use of palliative care when necessary is correct, which, even though it cannot heal, can relieve the pain caused by illness.
Alongside the indispensable clinical treatment, however, it is always necessary to show a concrete capacity to love, because the sick need understanding, comfort and constant encouragement and accompaniment. The elderly in particular must be helped to travel in a mindful and human way on the last stretch of earthly existence in order to prepare serenely for death, which - we Christians know - is a passage toward the embrace of the Heavenly Father, full of tenderness and mercy.

I would like to add that this necessary pastoral solicitude for the aged sick cannot fail to involve families, too. Generally, it is best to do what is possible so that the families themselves accept them and assume the duty with thankful affection, so that the aged sick can pass the final period of their life in their home and prepare for death in a warm family environment. Even when it would become necessary to be admitted to a health-care structure, it is important that the patient's bonds with his loved ones and with his own environment are not broken. In the most difficult moments of sickness, sustained by pastoral care, the patient is to be encouraged to find the strength to face his hard trial in prayer and with the comfort of the sacraments. He is to be surrounded by brethren in the faith who are ready to listen and to share his sentiments. Truly, this is the true objective of "pastoral" care for the aged, especially when they are sick, and more so if gravely sick.

On many occasions, my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, who especially during his sickness offered an exemplary testimony of faith and courage, exhorted scientists and doctors to undertake research to prevent and treat illnesses linked to old age without ever ceding to the temptation to have recourse to practices that shorten the life of the aged and sick, practices that would turn out to be, in fact, forms of euthanasia. May scientists, researchers, doctors, nurses, as well as politicians, administrative and pastoral workers never forget that the temptation of euthanasia appears as "one of the more alarming symptoms of the "culture of death', which is advancing above all in prosperous societies" (Evangelium Vitae
EV 64). Man's life is a gift of God that we are all called to guard always. This duty also belongs to health-care workers, whose specific mission is to be "ministers of life" in all its phases, particularly in those marked by fragility connected with infirmity. A general commitment is needed so that human life is respected, not only in Catholic hospitals, but in every treatment facility.

It is faith in Christ that enlightens Christians regarding sickness and the condition of the aged person, as in every other event and phase of existence. Jesus, dying on the Cross, gave human suffering a transcendent value and meaning. Faced with suffering and sickness, believers are invited to remain calm because nothing, not even death, can separate us from the love of Christ. In him and with him it is possible to face and overcome every physical and spiritual trial and to experience, exactly in the moment of greatest weakness, the fruits of Redemption. The Risen Lord manifests himself to those who believe in him as the Living One who transforms human existence, giving even sickness and death a salvific sense.

Dear brothers and sisters, while I invoke upon each one of you and your daily work the maternal protection of Mary, Salus infirmorum, and of the Saints who have spent their lives at the service of the sick, I exhort you to always work to spread the "Gospel of life". With these sentiments, I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing, willingly extending it to your loved ones, co-workers and particularly to the aged patients.

TO THE BISHOPS OF KENYA ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT Consistory Hall Monday, 19 November 2007

My dear Brother Bishops,

It is with great joy that I welcome you, the Bishops of Kenya, on your quinquennial visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, a visit which serves to strengthen the bonds of fraternal love and communion between us. I thank Archbishop Njue for his kind words addressed to me on your behalf. Your solicitude for one another and for the people entrusted to your care, your love of the Lord and your devotion to the Successor of Peter are for me a source of profound joy and thanksgiving.

Every Bishop has a particular responsibility to build up the unity of his flock, mindful of our Lord’s prayer “that they may be one, even as you, Father, are in me and I in you” (Jn 17,21). United in one faith, sharing one Baptism and believing in the one Lord, (cf. Ep 4,5), the Church is one throughout the world, yet at the same time she is marked by a rich diversity of traditions and cultural expressions. In Africa, the colour and vibrancy with which the faithful manifest their religious sentiments has added a new dimension to the rich tapestry of Christian culture worldwide, while at the same time your people’s strong attachment to the traditional values associated with family life can help to express the shared faith which is at the heart of the mystery of the Church’s unity (cf. Ecclesia in Africa ). Christ himself is the source and guarantee of our unity since he has overcome all forms of division through his death on the Cross and has reconciled us to God in the one body (cf. Ep 2,14). I thank you, dear Brothers, for preaching the love of Christ and exhorting your people to tolerance, respect and love of their brothers and sisters and of all persons. In this way you exercise the prophetic ministry that the Lord has entrusted to the Church, and in particular to the Successors of the Apostles (cf. Pastores Gregis ).

Indeed it is the Bishops who, as ministers and signs of communion in Christ, are pre-eminently called to make manifest the unity of his Church. The collegial nature of the episcopal ministry traces its origins to the Twelve Apostles, called together by Christ and given the task of proclaiming the Gospel and making disciples of all nations. Their pastoral mission is continued by the members of the episcopal College in such a way that “whoever listens to them is listening to Christ” (Lumen Gentium LG 20). I urge you to continue your fraternal cooperation with one another in the spirit of the community of Christ’s disciples, united in your love for him and in the Gospel that you proclaim. While each of you has an individual contribution to make to the common collegial voice of the Church in your country, it is important to ensure that this variety of perspectives always serves to enrich the unity of the Body of Christ, just as the unity of the Twelve was deepened and strengthened by the different gifts of the Apostles themselves. Your dedication to working together on issues of ecclesial and social concern will bring great fruit for the life of the Church in Kenya and for the effectiveness of your episcopal ministry.

Within each diocese, the vibrancy and harmony of the presbyterate offers a clear sign of the vitality of the local Church. Structures of consultation and participation are necessary, but can be ineffective if the proper spirit is missing. As Bishops, we must constantly strive to build up the sense of community among our priests, united in the love of Christ and in their sacramental ministry. Life can be difficult for priests today. They can feel isolated or alone and overwhelmed by their pastoral responsibilities. We must be close to them and encourage them, in the first place, to remain firmly rooted in prayer, because only those who are themselves nourished are able to nourish others in turn. Let them drink deeply from the wells of Sacred Scripture and from the daily and reverent celebration of the most holy Eucharist. Let them give themselves generously to praying the Liturgy of the Hours, a prayer that is made “in communion with all who pray throughout history, a prayer in communion with Jesus Christ” (Address to the priests and permanent deacons of Bavaria, 14 September 2006). By praying in this way they include and represent others who may lack the time or energy or capacity to pray, and thus the power of prayer, the presence of Jesus Christ, renews their priesthood and flows out into the world (cf. ibid.). Help your priests in this way to grow in solidarity with one another, with their people, and with you, as your consecrated co-workers. Respectful dialogue and closeness between Bishop and priests not only builds up the local Church but also edifies the entire community. Indeed, visible unity among the spiritual leaders can be a powerful antidote against division within the wider family of God’s people.

A key focus of unity in a community is the institution of marriage and family life, which the people of Africa hold in particular esteem. The devoted love of Christian married couples is a blessing for your country, expressing sacramentally the indissoluble covenant between Christ and his Church. This precious treasure must be guarded at all costs. All too often, the ills besetting some parts of African society, such as promiscuity, polygamy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, can be directly related to disordered notions of marriage and family life. For this reason it is important to assist parents in teaching their children how to live out a Christian vision of marriage, conceived as an indissoluble union between one man and one woman, essentially equal in their humanity (cf. Ecclesia in Africa ) and open to the generation of new life.

While this understanding of Christian family life finds a deep resonance in Africa, it is a matter of great concern that the globalized secular culture is exerting an increasing influence on local communities as a result of campaigns by agencies promoting abortion. This direct destruction of an innocent human life can never be justified, however difficult the circumstances that may lead some to consider taking such a grave step. When you preach the Gospel of Life, remind your people that the right to life of every innocent human being, born or unborn, is absolute and applies equally to all people with no exception whatsoever. This equality “is the basis of all authentic social relationships which, to be truly such, can only be founded on truth and justice” (Evangelium Vitae EV 57). The Catholic community must offer support to those women who may find it difficult to accept a child, above all when they are isolated from their family and friends. Likewise, the community should be open to welcome back all who repent of having participated in the grave sin of abortion, and should guide them with pastoral charity to accept the grace of forgiveness, the need for penance, and the joy of entering once more into the new life of Christ.

The Church in Kenya is well known for the fine contribution made by its educational institutions in forming generations of young people in sound ethical principles and in opening their minds to engage in peaceful and respectful dialogue with members of other social or religious groups. At a time when a secularist and relativist mentality is increasingly asserting itself through global means of social communication, it is all the more essential that you continue to promote the quality and the Catholic identity of your schools, universities and seminaries. Take the steps necessary in order to affirm and clarify their proper institutional status. Society greatly benefits from educated Catholics who know and practise the Church’s social doctrine. Today there is a particular need for highly trained professionals and persons of integrity in the area of medicine, where advances in technology continue to raise serious moral questions. Ecumenical and inter-religious dialogue likewise present major challenges that can only be addressed adequately on the basis of sound catechesis in the principles of Catholic doctrine, as expounded in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I know that you will continue to be vigilant over the quality and content of teaching that is offered to young people through the Church’s educational institutions, so that the light of Christ’s truth may shine ever more brightly over the land and the people of Kenya.

My dear Brother Bishops, as you guide your people into the unity for which Christ prayed, do so with ardent charity and firm authority, unfailing in patience and in teaching (cf. 2Tm 4,2). Please convey my affectionate greetings and my prayerful encouragement to your beloved people, and to all those who are active in the service of the Church, through prayer or in parishes and mission stations, in education, humanitarian activity and health care. To each of you and to those entrusted to your pastoral care, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Mr President,
Mr Director General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you gather for the Thirty-fourth Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican. Our meeting today is part of a tradition reaching back to the time when your Organization first set up its headquarters in Rome. I am happy to have yet another occasion to express appreciation for your work to eliminate the scourge of global hunger.

As you know, the Holy See has always maintained a keen interest in every effort made to rid the human family of famine and malnutrition, in the awareness that resolving these problems requires not only extraordinary dedication and highly refined technical training, but above all a genuine spirit of cooperation uniting all men and women of good will.

This noble goal calls for unwavering acknowledgement of the inherent dignity of the human person at every stage of life. All forms of discrimination, and particularly those that thwart agricultural development, must be rejected since they constitute a violation of the basic right of every person to be “free from hunger”. These convictions are in fact demanded by the very nature of your work on behalf of the common good of humanity, as expressed so eloquently by your motto - fiat panis - words that are also at the heart of the Gospel which the Church is called to proclaim.

The data gathered through your research and the extent of your programmes for supporting the global endeavour to develop the world’s natural resources clearly testify to one of the most troubling paradoxes of our time: the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology.

The obstacles standing in the way of overcoming this tragic situation can at times be discouraging. Armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples: all these obstacles should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread. For her part, the Church is convinced that the quest for more effective technical solutions in an ever-changing and expanding world calls for far-sighted programmes embodying enduring values grounded in the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person.

FAO continues to play an essential role in relieving world hunger, while reminding the international community of the pressing need constantly to update methods and to design strategies adequate to today’s challenges. I express my appreciation for the generous efforts made in this regard by all associated with your Organization. The Holy See has closely followed the activities of FAO over the last sixty years and is confident that the significant results already achieved will continue. FAO was one of the first international organizations with which the Holy See established regular diplomatic relations. On 23 November 1948, during the Fourth Session of your Conference, the Holy See was granted the unique status of “Permanent Observer”, thus ensuring its right to participate in the activities of FAO’s various departments and affiliated agencies in a way consonant with the Church’s religious and moral mission.

The united effort of the international community to eliminate malnutrition and promote genuine development necessarily calls for clear structures of management and oversight, and a realistic assessment of the resources needed to address a wide range of different situations. It requires the contribution of every member of society - individuals, volunteer organizations, businesses, and local and national governments - always with due regard for those ethical and moral principles which are the common patrimony of all people and the foundation of all social life. The international community must always avail itself of this precious treasure of common values since genuine and lasting development can only be furthered in a spirit of cooperation and a willingness to share professional and technical resources.

Indeed, today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming the conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development. Mankind is thirsting for true and lasting peace - a peace that can only come about if individuals, groups at every level, and government leaders cultivate habits of responsible decision-making rooted firmly in the fundamental principles of justice. It is therefore essential that societies dedicate their energies to educating authentic peacemakers: this is a task which falls in a particular way to organizations like your own, which cannot fail to recognize as the foundation of authentic justice the universal destination of the goods of creation.

Religion, as a potent spiritual force for healing the wounds of conflict and division, has its own distinctive contribution to make in this regard, especially through the work of forming minds and hearts in accordance with a vision of the human person.

Ladies and Gentlemen, technical progress, important as it is, is not everything. Such progress must be placed within the wider context of the integral good of the human person. It must constantly draw nourishment from the common patrimony of values which can inspire concrete initiatives aimed at a more equitable distribution of spiritual and material goods. As I wrote in my encyclical Deus Caritas Est, “those who are in a position to help others will realize that, in doing so, they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own” (No. 35). This principle has a special application to the world of agriculture, in which the work of those who are often considered the “lowliest” members of society should be duly acknowledged and esteemed.

FAO’s outstanding activity on behalf of development and food security clearly points to the correlation between the spread of poverty and the denial of basic human rights, beginning with the fundamental right to adequate nutrition. Peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights are inseparably linked. The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!

Dear friends, in renewing my esteem for your work, I assure you of my prayers that Almighty God will enlighten and guide your deliberations, so that the activity of FAO will respond ever more fully to the human family’s yearning for solidarity, justice and peace.



AT THE CONCLUSION OF THE CELEBRATION St Peter's Square Saturday, 24 November 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome here in this Square! Thank you for your presence. We feared the rain, and this is why we were inside the Basilica. You have been courageously present here, you have prayed with us. I thank you for your prayerful presence, for your participation in this important step of the Catholic Church. The new Cardinals reflect the universality of the Church, her catholicity. The Church speaks all languages, embraces all peoples, all cultures. All together we form God's family. And as a family we are gathered here and praying that the Lord will bless these new Cardinals at the service of you all. And we pray that Our Lady will accompany us step by step.

I wish you all a good Sunday and a good return trip. Thank you for coming. Good-bye and have a good day!




Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,
Dear Friends,

Our meeting today extends the atmosphere of prayer and communion we have lived in these days of festivity for the creation of 23 new Cardinals. The Consistory and yesterday's Eucharistic Celebration on the Solemnity of Christ the King have afforded us a special opportunity to experience the Church's catholicity, well represented by the variegated provenance of the members of the College of Cardinals gathered round the Successor of Peter in close communion. I am thus glad once again to address my cordial greeting to these new Cardinals and with them, I greet all of you, relatives and friends, who have come to gather round them at such an important moment in their lives.

I greet you first, dear Italian Cardinals. I greet you, Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the Pontifical Commission and of the Governorate of Vatican City State; I greet you, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, my Vicar General for Vatican City State and President of the Fabric of St Peter; I greet you, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church; I greet you, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa and President of the Italian Bishops' Conference; I greet you, Cardinal Giovanni Coppa, former Apostolic Nuncio in the Czech Republic; I greet you, Cardinal Umberto Betti, former Rector of the Pontifical Lateran University. Venerable and dear Brothers, so many persons and friends, bound to you in various ways, are beside you on this occasion, which is at the same time both solemn and intimate. I urge each one of them never to let you lack friendship, esteem and prayers, thereby helping you to continue to serve the Church faithfully, and in the various tasks and ministries that Providence entrusts to you, to bear an ever more generous witness of love for Christ.

I am pleased to greet the new members of the College of Cardinals. Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, Archbishop of Paris; Cardinal Théodore-Adrien Sarr, Archbishop of Dakar, as well as their loved ones and members of their Dioceses who have wished to accompany them on this happy occasion. May the ceremonies we have been able to experience in the past two days strengthen your faith and your love of Christ and the Church. I also ask you to support your Pastors and accompany them with your prayers, so that they may always guide the people entrusted to them with care. Let us also not forget to ask Christ for young people to be willing to accept a commitment to the priesthood.

I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking Prelates whom I had the joy of raising to the dignity of Cardinal in last Saturday's Consistory. Cardinal John Patrick Foley, Grand Master of the Knights of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem; Cardinal Seán Baptist Brady, Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland; Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay, India; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston (U.S.A.); Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi (Kenya); Cardinal Emmanuel III Delly, Patriarch of Babylon for Chaldeans. I am also pleased to have this opportunity to welcome their family members and friends, and all the faithful who have accompanied them to Rome. The College of Cardinals, whose origin is linked to the ancient clergy of the Roman Church, is charged with electing the Successor of Peter and advising him in matters of greater importance. Whether in the offices of the Roman Curia or in their ministry in the local Churches throughout the world, the Cardinals are called to share in a special way in the Pope's solicitude for the universal Church. The vivid colour of their robes has traditionally been seen as a sign of their commitment to defending Christ's flock even to the shedding of their blood. As the new Cardinals accept the burden of this office, I am confident that they will be supported by your constant prayers and your cooperation in their efforts to build up the Body of Christ in unity, holiness and peace.

I offer a warm welcome to Cardinal Paul Josef Cordes, to his family, his friends and his guests who have come from Germany, as well as the faithful from his Archdiocese of Paderborn, of which he was also Bishop. Together with you, I thank our new Cardinal for the precious service to the Successor of Peter that he has carried out for many years as President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum". Continue to accompany him with your prayers and support him in his important task of practical solicitude for the Pope's loving service to the poor and needy. May the Lord give his grace to you all!

I warmly greet the new Spanish-speaking Cardinals, accompanied by their relatives and numerous Bishops, priests, Religious and lay people from Argentina, Spain and Mexico. Argentina rejoices for Cardinal Leonardo Sandri who, after serving the Holy See as Substitute of the Secretariat of State, is now in charge of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, and also for Cardinal Estanislao Esteban Karlic, Archbishop emeritus of Paraná, who has served that Ecclesial Community for so many years with affection and self-denial. The Church in Spain rejoices for Cardinal Agustín García-Gasco Vicente, Archbishop of Valencia, a city I visited last year for the World Day of the Family; for Cardinal Lluís Martínez Sistach, Archbishop of Barcelona, who formerly carried out a fruitful ministry in Tortosa and Tarragona; and also for Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, former Rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University, who devoted his life to studying and teaching Canon Law. The pilgrim Church in Mexico congratulates Cardinal Francisco Robles Ortega, Archbishop of Monterrey, whose constant pastoral dedication was also manifest in Toluca. Let us turn our minds to the Virgin Mary, to whom your peoples are so devoted, and ask her to intercede for these Cardinals with her divine Son in order to enrich their service to the Church with an abundance of fruit.

I greet Cardinal Odilo Pedro Scherer and the Bishops who have desired to accompany him together with his family, friends and guests. I find this a favourable opportunity to recall the days of my Pastoral Visit to São Paulo this year and to renew my gratitude for the welcome I received in his Archdiocese. I express the wish that his appointment as Cardinal may help deepen his love for the Church and strengthen the faith of his faithful in Jesus Christ, our Saviour and Lord!

I greet Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and his guests. I thank him for all that he does for the participation of lay people in the life of the Church and I wish him abundant graces. I commend you all to the love of God and I cordially bless you.

Lastly, I renew my brotherly greeting to you, venerable and dear new Cardinals, and as I assure you of my prayers, I ask you to accompany me always with your appreciated human and pastoral experience. I set great store by your invaluable support to enable me to carry out as well as possible my ministry at the service of the entire People of God. I am in need of this support. And to you, dear brothers and sisters who gather round them with affection, once again, thank you for your participation in the various rites and moments of the Consistory. Continue to pray for them and also for me that the communion of the Pastors with the Pope may always be firm, so as to offer the whole world the witness of a Church faithful to Christ and ready to respond with prophetic courage to the spiritual expectations and needs of the people of our time. On your return to your various Dioceses, I ask you to convey to everyone my greeting and the assurance of my constant remembrance with the Lord. I invoke upon you, dear new Cardinals, and upon all of you who are present here, the protection of the Heavenly Mother of God and of the Holy Apostles, Peter and Paul. With these sentiments, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.

December 2007


Your Excellencies,
Representatives of the Holy See to International Organizations,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet all of you who are assembled in Rome to reflect on the contribution which Catholic-inspired Non-governmental Organizations can offer, in close collaboration with the Holy See, to the solution of the many problems and challenges associated with the various activities of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations. To each of you I offer a cordial welcome. In a particular way I thank the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who has graciously interpreted your common sentiments, while at the same time informing me of the goals of your Forum. I also greet the young representative of the Non-governmental Organizations present.

Taking part in this important meeting are representatives of groups long associated with the presence and activity of the Catholic laity at the international level, along with members of other, more recent groups which have come into being as part of the current process of global integration. Also present are groups mainly committed to advocacy, and others chiefly concerned with the concrete management of cooperative projects promoting development. Some of your organizations are recognized by the Church as public and private associations of the lay faithful, others share in the charism of certain institutes of consecrated life, while still others enjoy only civil recognition and include non-Catholics and non-Christians among their members. All of you, however, have in common a passion for promoting human dignity. This same passion has constantly inspired the activity of the Holy See in the international community. The real reason for the present meeting, then, is to express gratitude and appreciation for what you are doing in active collaboration with the papal representatives to international organizations. In addition, this meeting seeks to foster a spirit of cooperation among your organizations and consequently the effectiveness of your common activity on behalf of the integral good of the human person and of all humanity.

This unity of purpose can only be achieved through a variety of roles and activities. The multilateral diplomacy of the Holy See, for the most part, strives to reaffirm the great fundamental principles of international life, since the Church’s specific contribution consists in helping "to form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly" (Deus Caritas Est ). On the other hand, "the direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful" – and in the context of international life this includes Christian diplomats and members of Non-governmental Organizations – who "are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity" and "to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility" (ibid., 29).

International cooperation between governments, which was already emerging at the end of the nineteenth century and which grew steadily throughout the last century despite the tragic disruption of two world wars, has significantly contributed towards the creation of a more just international order. In this regard, we can look with satisfaction to achievements such as the universal recognition of the juridical and political primacy of human rights, the adoption of shared goals regarding the full enjoyment of economic and social rights by all the earth’s inhabitants, the efforts being made to develop a just global economy and, more recently, the protection of the environment and the promotion of intercultural dialogue.

At the same time, international discussions often seem marked by a relativistic logic which would consider as the sole guarantee of peaceful coexistence between peoples a refusal to admit the truth about man and his dignity, to say nothing of the possibility of an ethics based on recognition of the natural moral law. This has led, in effect, to the imposition of a notion of law and politics which ultimately makes consensus between states – a consensus conditioned at times by short-term interests or manipulated by ideological pressure – the only real basis of international norms. The bitter fruits of this relativistic logic are sadly evident: we think, for example, of the attempt to consider as human rights the consequences of certain self-centred lifestyles; a lack of concern for the economic and social needs of the poorer nations; contempt for humanitarian law, and a selective defence of human rights. It is my hope that your study and reflection during these days will result in more effective ways of making the Church’s social doctrine better known and accepted on the international level. I encourage you, then, to counter relativism creatively by presenting the great truths about man’s innate dignity and the rights which are derived from that dignity. This in turn will contribute to the forging of a more adequate response to the many issues being discussed today in the international forum. Above all, it will help to advance specific initiatives marked by a spirit of solidarity and freedom.

What is needed, in fact, is a spirit of solidarity conducive for promoting as a body those ethical principles which, by their very nature and their role as the basis of social life, remain non-negotiable. A spirit of solidarity imbued with a strong sense of fraternal love leads to a better appreciation of the initiatives of others and a deeper desire to cooperate with them. Thanks to this spirit, one will always, whenever it is useful or necessary, work in collaboration either with the various non-governmental organizations or the representatives of the Holy See, with due respect for their differences of nature, institutional ends and methods of operation. On the other hand, an authentic spirit of freedom, lived in solidarity, will help the initiative of the members of non-governmental organization to create a broad gamut of new approaches and solutions with regard to those temporal affairs which God has left to the free and responsible judgement of every individual. When experienced in solidarity, legitimate pluralism and diversity will lead not to division and competition, but to ever greater effectiveness. The activities of your organizations will bear genuine fruit provided they remain faithful to the Church’s magisterium, anchored in communion with her pastors and above all with the successor of Peter, and meet in a spirit of prudent openness the challenges of the present moment.

Dear friends, I thank you once again for your presence today and for your dedicated efforts to advance the cause of justice and peace within the human family. Assuring you of a special remembrance in my prayers, I invoke upon you, and the organizations you represent, the maternal protection of Mary, Queen of the World. To you, your families and your associates, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Speeches 2005-13 16117