Speeches 2005-13 8118
PROMOTED BY THE PONTIFICAL LATERAN UNIVERSITY AND THE PONTIFICAL GREGORIAN UNIVERSITY
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the Congress on "The Heritage of the Magisterium of Pius XII and the Second Vatican Council", promoted by the Pontifical Lateran University and the Pontifical Gregorian University. It is an important Congress for the theme that it treats and for the erudite persons from various nations that are taking part in it. In addressing my cordial greeting to each one, I particularly thank Archbishop Rino Fisichella, Rector of the Lateran University and Fr Gianfranco Ghirlanda, Rector of the Gregorian University, for the kind expressions with which they have interpreted your common sentiments.
I have admired the demanding theme on which you have concentrated your attention. In the last years, when one spoke of Pius XII, the attention was drawn in an excessive way to only one issue, considered, moreover, in a rather unilateral manner. Every other consideration aside, this has impeded an adequate approach to the figure of great historical-theological depth that Pope Pius XII has been. The convergence of the impressive activity that took place during this Pontificate and, in a singular way, his Magisterium on what you have considered in these days is an eloquent proof of what I just affirmed. Indeed, his Magisterium is characterized for the vast and beneficent breadth, and also for his exceptional quality, such that one cannot fail to say that it constitutes a precious heritage of which the Church has and continues to treasure.
I have spoken of "the vast and beneficent breadth" of this Magisterium. It suffices to recall, in this regard, the Encyclicals and the many Addresses and Radio Messages contained in the 20 volumes of his "Teachings". There are more than 40 Encyclicals published by him. Among them Mystici Corporis stands out, in which the Pope deals with the theme of the true and intimate nature of the Church. On the scale of research he sheds light on our profound ontological union with Christ and in him, through him and with him with all the other faithful moved by his Spirit, who are nourished by his Body and, transformed in Him, are able to continue to extend his salvific work in the world.
Intimately linked to Mystici Corporis are two other Encyclicals: Divino afflante Spiritu on the Sacred Scripture and Mediator Dei on the Sacred Liturgy. These present two sources from which those who belong to Christ Head of that Mystical Body, the Church must draw. In this wide ranging context, Pius XII has considered the various categories of persons: priests, religious and laity who, by the will of the Lord, partake in the Church, although with different vocations and duties. Thus he has pronounced wise norms on the formation of priests, who must distinguish themselves for personal love for Christ, simplicity and sobriety of life, loyalty to their Bishop and open to those who are entrusted to their pastoral care. Then in the Encyclical Sacra Virginitas and in other documents on religious life Pius XII has put in clear light the excellence of the "gift" that God grants to certain persons inviting them to consecrate themselves totally to his service and to their neighbour in the Church.
In this perspective the Pope strongly insists on the return to the Gospel and to the authentic charism of the Founders and Foundresses of the various religious Orders and Congregations, foreseeing also the necessity of some healthy reforms. There have also been numerous occasions in which Pius XII has treated the responsibility of laity in the Church, in particular taking advantage of the large international Congresses dedicated to this theme. He willingly faced problems of specific professions, indicating, for example, the duty of judges, of lawyers, of social workers, of doctors: to the latter, the Supreme Pontiff dedicated numerous discourses illustrating the deontological norms that must be respected in their work. In the Encyclical Miranda prorsus, the Pope dwelt on the great importance of the modern means of communication, which in an ever more incisive way are influencing public opinion. This is exactly why the Supreme Pontiff, who utilized the new invention of the radio maximally, emphasized the duty of journalists to supply truthful information respectful of the moral norms.
Pius XII also addressed his attention to science and to the extraordinary progress that it achieved. While admiring the conquests reached in these fields, the Pope did not fail to warn about the risks that research which disregards moral values could bring. It suffices to recall one example: the famous discourse he pronounced when the atom was split, with extraordinary foresight, however, the Pope admonished about the need to impede at whatever cost that these ingenious scientific progresses would be used to build deadly arms that would be able to provoke dreadful catastrophes and even the total destruction of humanity. How can one not recall the long and inspiring discourses concerning the hoped-for re-ordering of civil society, national and international, for which he indicates justice as a necessary foundation, true supposition for coexistence among peoples: "opus iustitiae pax!". Equally worthy of special mention is the Mariological teaching of Pius XII, that would reach its culmination in the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary Most Holy, through whom the Holy Father intended to emphasize the eschatological dimension of our existence and exalt the dignity of the woman as well.
What can be said of the quality of Pius XII's teaching? He was contrary to improvisations: he wrote each discourse with the maximum care, weighing each phrase and each word before pronouncing it in public. He attentively studied the various questions and he had the habit of asking council from renown specialists when he treated themes requiring a particular competence. By nature and temperament Pius XII was a realistic and measured man, disinclined to easy optimism, but he was likewise immune from the danger of pessimism that is not suitable for believers. He abhorred sterile polemics and was deeply distrustful in regards to fanaticism and sentimentalism.
These interior attitudes of his justify the value and depth, as well as the trustworthiness of his teaching and explain the confident adhesion that not only the faithful reserve for them but also many people who do not belong to the Church. Considering the lofty and widespread quality of Pius XII's Magisterium, one must consider how he was able to do so much although he had to dedicate himself to many other duties connected to his office as Supreme Pontiff: the daily governing of the Church, the nomination and the visits of Bishops, the visits of the heads of state and of diplomats, the countless audiences granted to private persons and many diverse groups.
Everyone acknowledges Pius XII's uncommon intelligence, iron memory, singular familiarity with foreign languages and a noteworthy sensitivity. It is said that he was an accomplished diplomat, an outstanding jurist, an excellent theologian. All this is true but it does not explain everything; in him there was also the continuous effort and the firm will to give himself to God without regard for his delicate health. This was the true driving force of his behaviour: all was born from love for his Lord Jesus Christ and from love for the Church and for humanity. Indeed, before all else he was a priest in constant and intimate union with God, a priest who found the strength for his enormous work in long periods of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, in silent colloquy with his Creator and Redeemer. From there sprang the origin and impulse of his Magisterium as, on the other hand, it was for his every other activity.
Therefore it must not be surprising that his teaching continues even today to shed light in the Church. Already 50 years have passed since his death, but his multifaceted and fruitful Magisterium remains even for Christians today one of priceless value. Certainly the Church, Mystical Body of Christ, is a living and vital organism, not steadfastly defending what was 50 years ago. But development occurs in coherency. This is why the heritage of the Magisterium of Pius XII has been gathered by the Second Vatican Council and reproposed to the later Christian generations. It is well known that of the oral interventions and writings presented by the Second Vatican Council Fathers, over 1,000 references cite the Magisterium of Pius XII. Not all the documents of the Council have an array of Notes, but in those documents that do have them, the name of Pius XII recurs more than 200 times. This means that, with the exception of Sacred Scripture, this Pope is the most authoritative and frequently cited source. It is also well known that the special notes of these documents are not, generally, simple explicative references, but often constitute true and proper integral parts of Conciliar texts. They do not furnish only justifications to support what the text affirms, but offer an interpretive key.
Therefore we can rightly say that in the person of the Supreme Pontiff Pius XII the Lord has made an exceptional gift to his church for which we must all be thankful. Therefore I renew the expression of my appreciation for the important work you undertook in preparing and carrying out this International Symposium on the Magisterium of Pius XII and I hope that the precious inheritance that the immortal Pontiff left to the Church continues to be reflected upon to draw useful application to the problems emerging today. With this wish I invoke the help of the Lord upon your endeavours and I warmly impart my Blessing to each of you.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
I am delighted to receive you, Bishops of Bolivia, who have come to Rome on an ad limina visit to pray at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and to renew your bonds of unity, love and peace with the Successor of Peter (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 22). I warmly thank Cardinal Julio Terrazas Sandoval, Archbishop of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and President of the Bishops' Conference, for his kind words on behalf of all. I would first like to express my appreciation to you and to assure you of my encouragement in your generous service to the great task of preserving and nourishing the faith of the People of God.
I am well aware of the difficult circumstances that the faithful and the other inhabitants of your country have been experiencing for some time and that now seem to be becoming more acute.
These are certainly a cause of worry and of special pastoral concern for the Church which has been able to remain very close to all Bolivians in delicate situations, with the sole aim of preserving hope, reviving faith, promoting unity and exhorting people to reconciliation and to the safeguard of peace. With their efforts in this task, carried out in a fraternal, solidary and harmonious manner, Pastors recall the Gospel Parable of the Sower, who went out to sow an abundance of seed without thinking in advance about the harvest he would be able to gather for himself.
Other challenges also confront you in your daily work, since the faith implanted in Bolivia constantly needs to be nourished and strengthened, especially when signs are seen of a certain weakening in Christian life that are due to various factors: a widespread lack of coherence between the faith professed and models of personal and social life or a superficial formation which leaves the baptized exposed to the influence of dazzling but empty promises.
To face these challenges the Church in Bolivia has a powerful means at her disposal: popular piety, the precious treasure accumulated down the centuries thanks to the work of daring missionaries and preserved in Bolivian families for generations with deep fidelity. It is a gift that must certainly be safeguarded and promoted today, as I know is being done with care and dedication but which requires a constant effort to ensure that the value of the signs penetrate the depths of hearts and that they always be illuminated by God's Word and transformed into firm convictions of faith, consolidated by the sacraments and by fidelity to moral values. Indeed, you must cultivate a mature faith and "a firm hope for living out the faith joyfully and responsibly, thus spreading it in one's own surroundings" (Address at the opening session of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops' Conferences, Aparecida, Brazil, 13 May 2007).
This will require a systematic, widespread and penetrating catechesis which teaches the Catholic faith clearly and in its integrity. The Pauline Year that we are celebrating is a privileged opportunity to imitate the apostolic and missionary vigour of this great Apostle, who was not afraid at the time to proclaim God's plan in its integrity, as he said to the elders of the Church at Miletus (cf. Ac 20,27). In fact, a partial or incomplete teaching of the Gospel message does not befit the mission proper to the Church and cannot be fruitful.
A high quality general education that includes the person's spiritual and religious dimension also makes a considerable contribution to building a solid foundation for growth in the faith. The Church in Bolivia has numerous educational institutions, some of great prestige, that must continue to be able to count on the attention of their Pastors so that they may preserve their own identity in them and be respected. In any case, it is necessary not to forget that "All Christians that is, all those who, having been reborn in water and the Holy Spirit are called and in fact are children of God have a right to a Christian education" (Gravissimum educationis GE 2).
I am glad to see your efforts to offer seminarians a sound human, spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation by giving them priests who help them in their vocational discernment and are concerned with their suitability and competence. This criterion, always necessary, becomes even more impelling in the present day when there is an inclination to spread information too thinly and to disrupt his deep interiority, where the human being has a law engraved by God (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 16). For this reason it is necessary to continue to help them, in order to guarantee the continuing formation of the clergy and also of the other pastoral workers, a formation that must constantly nourish their spiritual life and prevent their work from becoming a routine or give in to superficiality. They are called to show the faithful, from their viewpoint, that Jesus' words are spirit and life (cf. Jn 6,63), "otherwise, how could they proclaim a message whose content and spirit they do not know thoroughly?" (Address at the opening session of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops' Conferences, Aparecida, Brazil, 13 May 2007).
The recent Assembly of the Synod of Bishops stressed precisely that "the Church' s principal task, at the start of this new millennium, is above all to nourish herself on the Word of God, in order to make new evangelization, the proclamation in our day, more effective" (Homily at the Mass concluding the Synod, 26 October 2008). Thus I warmly urge you to ensure that in your homilies, catecheses, celebrations in parishes and in the many small communities scattered afar, but with their own important chapels, as can be seen in your country, faithful proclamation, listening and meditation on the Scriptures are always given priority, because it is in them that the People of God find their raison d'Ítre, their vocation and their identity.
Love for neighbour is born from docile listening to the divine word, disinterested service to the brethren (cf. ibid.), a particularly important aspect of pastoral activity in Bolivia, in the face of the situations of poverty, marginalization or abandonment in which a large part of the population lives.
The ecclesial community has shown that like the Good Samaritan it has "a pure and generous love... the best witness to the God in whom we believe and by whom we are driven to love" (Deus Caritas Est ). In this sense, the ecclesial community is also, so to speak, a "heart that speaks", which has within it the Word who dwells in the depths of its being and whom it cannot renounce, even though it must sometimes keep silent. Thus, if brotherhood with the neediest brethren make us excellent disciples of the Teacher, special dedication and concern for them transforms us into missionaries of Love.
At the end of this meeting, I would like to reaffirm to you my encouragement in the mission you carry out as guides of the Church in Bolivia, and as you also do in the spirit of communion and concord. A communion enriched by special bonds of close brotherhood with other particular churches, some in distant lands but which desire to share with you in the joys and hopes of evangelization in the country. Please convey my greeting and gratitude to the Bishops emeritus, to the priests and seminarians, to the numerous men and women religious who enrich and enliven your Christian communities, the catechists and other collaborators in your task of bringing the light of the Gospel to Bolivians.
I entrust your intentions to the Most Holy Virgin Mary, so deeply venerated by the Bolivian people in numerous Marian shrines, and I cordially impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.
I am pleased to offer you my cordial welcome at the moment when I am receiving from your hands the Letters of recommendation accrediting you to this Apostolic See as Minister Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the ancient and illustrious Republic of San Marino. My first respectful thought goes to their Excellencies the Captains Regent, whose important Representative you have become, and to the entire population of San Marino, ever dear to the Successor of Peter. In fact, from its birth, the Titanus Republic has had serene and fruitful relations with the Apostolic See, officially established in 1926 with bonds of reciprocal and respectful interaction. I am therefore pleased to renew the expression of my spiritual closeness to the People which, as from today, you have been delegated to represent. It is a small people because of the size of the territory that it occupies but deserves every attention and respect for its history, rich in cultural and religious traditions.
In greeting you with warm pleasure, I would like to recall with sincere gratitude your praiseworthy predecessor, Prof. Giovanni Galassi, who, in addition to serving as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, has acted as Representative of the Republic of San Marino for many years. The sensitivity, human tact and competence that marked his activities attracted the esteem of his diplomatic colleagues and above all contributed to intensifying the already cordial relations between the Republic of San Marino and the Holy See. Following in the same tracks, I am certain that you will continue the work already begun so that the consolidation of fruitful mutual relations, as well as fostering dialogue and facilitating understanding between the authorities and the Catholic community of San Marino, will also be useful for a common action encouraging solidarity and peace in Europe and in the world.
Every nation and every institution, whether it is large or small, is called today to work actively to build an international community that is based on shared human and spiritual values. The Republic of San Marino will certainly not fail to make its contribution to this project of world importance, making available to all the experience of a past rich in history and culture, in which the protection of the family, the fundamental cell of every community, plays the lead. The land known as the "Sperone del Titano" [spur of Mount Titanus] is marked by a particular identity that is part of the cultural and spiritual riches of the Italian Peninsula. The key feature of this identity is the ancient patrimony of values that is nourished principally by the Christian faith in which the life and history of the people and institutions of San Marino are steeped. Thus in your words you rightly mentioned these ancient roots, referring also to the Visit made by my venerable Predecessor John Paul ii, on 28 April 1982, amid the enthusiasm of the People of San Marino. I express my heartfelt hope that, following in the wake of these centuries-old cultural and spiritual traditions and continuing the effort made until today by numerous people of good will, the present civil and religious community of San Marino may be able to write together a new page of progress and civilization, recognizing the indispensable role that every family, as the place where an education in peace is acquired, is called to play in training the new generations.
Making the most of the Greco-Roman heritage, enriched by the encounter with Christianity, thus constitutes an indisputable opportunity that is also offered to the Republic of San Marino to contribute to making Europe a land of dialogue and a "common home" for nations with their own specific cultural and religious features. The environmental and social conditions in which we live today have certainly changed but the ultimate goal of each one of our personal and community daily commitments is still the same: the quest for the individual's authentic well-being and the construction of a society that is open to acceptance and attentive to the real needs of all. The combined collection of values and laws, the common spiritual "alphabet" that enabled our people in the past centuries to write noble pages of civil and religious history, is a precious legacy that must not be lost, an inheritance to be increased with the contribution of the modern discoveries of science, technology and communications, placed at the service of the true good of man.
Mr Ambassador, the Holy See renews the attestation of its full readiness to collaborate in order to pursue these shared goals, aware as it is of the need for the cooperation of all in such a vast undertaking: at the local, national and international levels the contribution of each one in his own milieu and with his own specific skills is asked for, always with reciprocal respect and in constant dialogue. These are the conditions for that "healthy" secularism which is indispensable for building a society where different traditions, cultures and religions may peacefully coexist. Indeed, in totally separating public life from every value of traditions, would mean introducing oneself into a blind alley and a dead end. This is why it is essential to redefine the sense of a secularism that emphasizes the true difference and autonomy between the different components of society but that also preserves their specific competences in a context of common responsibility. Of course, this "healthy" secularism of the State entails the possibility for every temporal reality to be governed by its own rules, which, however, must not neglect the fundamental ethical base which is inherent in the very nature of the human being, and for this very reason, refers ultimately to the Creator. When through her legitimate Pastors the Catholic Church appeals to the value of certain fundamental ethical principles, rooted in the Christian heritage of Europe, for private and especially for public life, she is motivated solely by the desire to guarantee and promote the inviolable dignity of the person and the authentic good of society.
Mr Ambassador, these are the sentiments that spring to my mind at this moment. As I thank you for your kind words and assure you of the total availability of my collaborators, I express the wish that you will carry out your lofty mission well. I renew my greeting, corroborated by prayer, to their Excellencies the Captains Regent and the People of the beloved Republic of San Marino, which you represent here, so that God may protect and bless each and every one always.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet all of you today, Members and Consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, as you meet in Plenary Assembly. I greet Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko and Bishop Josef Clemens, President and Secretary of the Dicastery, and together with them the other Bishops present. I extend a special welcome to the lay faithful coming from diverse apostolic experiences and various social and cultural contexts. The theme chosen for your Assembly "20 years from Christifideles laici: remembrance, development, new challenges and work" directly introduces us to the service that your Dicastery is called to offer to the Church for the good of the lay faithful of the entire world.
The Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici defined the magna charta for Catholic laity of our time is the mature fruit of the reflections and of the exchange of experiences and proposals and of the reflections of the 7th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the month of October in 1987 on the theme "Vocation and mission of the laity in the Church and in the world". It involved an organic revisiting of the Second Vatican Council's teachings in regard to lay people: the dignity of the baptized, the vocation to holiness, belonging to the ecclesial communion, participation in the building of the Christian community and the Church's mission, witness in all social contexts and commitment to service of the person for the individual's integral development and for the common good of society themes present above all in the Constitutions Lumen gentium and Gaudium et spes, as well as in the Decree Apostolicam actuositatem.
While taking up again the teachings of the Council, Christifideles laici orients the discernment, examination and orientation of lay efforts within the Church faced with the social changes of these years. In many different Churches lay participation has grown thanks to pastoral, diocesan and parish councils revealing itself to be very positive insofar as it is animated by an authentic sensus Ecclesiae. The clear awareness of the Church's charismatic dimension has brought about an appreciation and esteemed the more simple charisms that Divine Providence bestows on individuals as well as those that bring great spiritual, educational and missionary fecundity. Not by chance does the Document recognize and encourage the "new era of group endeavours of the lay faithful". It is a sign of the "richness and the versatility of resources that the Holy Spirit nourishes in the ecclesial community" (n. 29), which indicate the ecclesial "criteria" necessary on one side for the discernment of Pastors and on the other side for growth of the life of lay associations, ecclesial movements and new communities. In this respect I would like to thank the Pontifical Council for the Laity in a very special way, for the work completed during the last decades to welcome, accompany, discern, recognize and encourage these ecclesial realities, favouring the knowledge of their Catholic identity, helping them to insert themselves more fully into the great tradition and the living fabric of the Church, and promoting their missionary development.
To speak of Catholic laity means to refer to the countless baptized persons working in multiple and various circumstances to grow as disciples and witnesses of the Lord and to rediscover and experience the beauty in the truth and joy of being Christians. The current cultural and social condition renders still more urgent this apostolic action to generously share in the treasure of grace and holiness, of charity, doctrine, culture and works, from which the stream of Catholic tradition flows. The new generations are not only the preferred audience of this transmission and sharing but also those whose hearts await truth and happiness in order to be able to give Christian witness, as happens already in an admirable way. I myself have been witness to it in Sydney at the recent World Youth Day. And therefore I encourage the Pontifical Council for the Laity to continue the work of this providential global youth pilgrimage in the name of Christ, and to work at the promotion of youth ministry and their authentic education everywhere.
I also know of your commitment regarding issues of special importance, such as that of the dignity and participation of women in the life of the Church and of society. I have already had the opportunity to appreciate the Convention you sponsored 20 years from the promulgation of the Apostolic Letter Mulieris dignitatem on the theme "Woman and Man, the Humanum in its Entirety". Man and woman, equal in dignity, are called to enrich themselves mutually in communion and collaboration, not only in matrimony and in the family, but also in society and all of its dimensions. Christian women are asked to be knowledgeable of and courageous in facing their demanding work, for which, however, they do not lack the support of a distinct tendency towards holiness, of a special acuteness in the discernment of our time's cultural currents, and of the particular passion for human care that characterizes them. Enough cannot be said for how much the Church recognizes, appreciates and values women's participation in her mission of service to the spreading of the Gospel.
Allow me, dear friends, a last reflection regarding the secular nature that is characteristic of the lay faithful. The world within the scheme of family life, its working and social life is a theological place, an environment and a means in which and through which to realize their vocation and mission (cf. Christifideles laici CL 15-17). Every milieu, circumstance and activity in which we engage that can become resplendent with the unity of faith and life is entrusted to the responsibility of lay faithful, moved by the desire to communicate the gift of encounter with Christ and the certainty of the human person's dignity. It is their duty to take up the witness of charity especially with the most poor, suffering and needy just as it is to assume every Christian task aimed to construct conditions of ever greater justice and peace within human coexistence, thus opening new horizons to the Gospel! Therefore I ask the Pontifical Council for the Laity to follow with diligent pastoral care the formation, witness and collaboration of lay faithful in the most varied situations, in which the authentic nature of human life in society is at risk. In a particular way, I confirm the necessity and urgency of the evangelical formation and pastoral accompaniment of a new generation of Catholics working in politics, that they be coherent with the professed faith, that they have moral firmness, the capacity of educated judgment, professional competence and passion for service to the common good.
Work in the Lord's large vineyard needs Christifideles laici who, like the Most Holy Virgin Mary, speak and live the "fiat" to God's plan in their life. With this prospective, I thank you, then, for your precious contribution to such a noble cause and I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and those dear to you.
Speeches 2005-13 8118