Speeches 2005-13 7099


Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

With deep joy and friendship I greet and welcome each and every one of you, beloved Pastors of the West I and West II Regions of the National Bishops' Conference of Brazil. With your group, the long pilgrimage of the members of this Bishops' Conference on their visits ad limina Apostolorum begins and it will give me the opportunity to become better acquainted with the reality of your respective diocesan communities. They will be days of fraternal sharing, to reflect together on the matters that worry you. It is an event longed for since those unforgettable days in May 2007, when during my visit to your country I was able to experience the deep affection of the Brazilian people for the Successor of Peter and, in particular, when I had the opportunity to embrace with my gaze the entire episcopate of this great nation at the meeting in the Cathedral of Sé in São Paulo.

In fact, only God's great heart can know, safeguard and guide the multitude of sons and daughters that he himself has begotten in the great vastness of Brazil. During our conversations in these days several problems and challenges have emerged that you are facing, as the Archbishop of Campo Grande mentioned at the beginning of our meeting. The distances that you yourselves, together with your priests and the other missionary workers, must cover for the service and pastoral animation of your respective faithful are impressive. Many of them live with problems that stem from a relatively recent urbanization in which the State does not always succeed in being an instrument for the promotion of justice and the common good. Do not lose heart! Remember that the proclamation of the Gospel and adherence to the Christian values, as I said recently in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, "is not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human development" (n. 4). I thank you, Bishop Vitório Pavanello, for the cordial words and devout sentiments you have addressed to me on behalf of all. I am pleased to reciprocate with my good wishes for the peace and prosperity of the Brazilian people on their important National Feast Day.

As Successor of Peter and Universal Pastor, I can assure you that every day I feel your anxieties and apostolic efforts in my heart and never cease to remember to God the challenges you face in the development of your diocesan communities. In these days, and in Brazil, the labourers in the Lord's harvest continue to be few for a harvest that is abundant (cf.
Mt 9,36-37). In spite of this shortage, the satisfactory formation of those who are called to serve the People of God remains truly essential. For this reason, in the context of the Year for Priests that we are celebrating, may I be permitted to pause today to reflect with you, beloved Bishops of the Western Brazil, on the concern that marks your episcopal ministry which is to generate new pastors.

Although God is the only one who can plant the call to the pastoral service of his people in the human heart, all the members of the Church should question themselves on the deep urgency and real commitment with which they feel and live this cause. One day, Jesus answered several disciples who were stalling, saying that there were "yet four months" to go before the harvest, with the words: "I tell you, lift up your eyes, and see how the fields are already white for harvest" (Jn 4,35). God does not see as human beings see!

The urgent need of the good Lord is dictated by his wish that "all men... be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth" (1Tm 2,4). There are many who seem to want to spend their whole life in an instant and others who wander in tedium and inertia or who abandon themselves to every sort of violence. Basically, these are nothing other than desperate lives in search of hope, as a widespread if sometimes confused thirst for spirituality shows, a renewed quest for landmarks in order to continue on the journey through life.

Beloved Brothers, in the decades that followed the Second Vatican Council, some have interpreted openness to the world not as a requirement of the missionary zeal of the Heart of Christ, but rather as a passage to secularization, seeing in it several values of great Christian depth, such as equality, freedom and solidarity, and showing that they were ready to make concessions and to discover areas of cooperation. So it was that certain leading clerics took part in ethical debates in response to the expectations of public opinion, but people stopped speaking of certain fundamental truths of faith, such as sin, grace, theological life and the last things. They were unconsciously caught up in the self-secularization of many ecclesial communities; these, hoping to please those who did not come, saw the members they already had leave, deprived and disappointed. When they meet us, our contemporaries want to see what they see nowhere else, that is, the joy and hope that come from being with the Risen Lord.

Today there is a new generation born into this secularized ecclesial context. Instead of showing openness and consensus, it sees the abyss of differences and opposition to the Magisterium of the Church growing ever wider, especially in the field of ethics. In this desert without God, the new generation feels a deep thirst for transcendence.

It is the youth of this generation who knock at the doors of the seminary and need formation teachers who are real men of God, priests totally dedicated to formation, who witness to the gift of themselves to the Church through celibacy and an austere life, in accordance with the model of Christ the Good Shepherd. Thus, these young men will learn to be sensitive to the encounter with the Lord in daily participation in the Eucharist, in loving silence and prayer and in seeking, in the first place, the glory of God and the salvation of souls.

Beloved Brothers, as you know it is the Bishop's task to establish the fundamental criteria for the formation of seminarians and priests in fidelity to the universal norms of the Church: it is in this spirit that the reflections on the theme must be developed, the object of the Plenary Assembly of your Episcopal Conference that took place last April.

With the certainty that I can count on your zeal in all that concerns formation to the priesthood, I ask all Bishops, their priests and the seminarians, to reflect in their own lives the love of Christ the Priest and Good Shepherd, as did the Holy Curé d'Ars. And, like him, may they take as their model and the protector of their vocation the Virgin Mother who answered uniquely to God's call, conceiving in her heart and in her flesh the Word made man, to give him to humanity. Please take back to your dioceses, together with a cordial greeting and the assurance of my prayers, a fatherly Apostolic Blessing.


Your Excellency,
Mr Ambassador,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to receive you and to welcome at this meeting each and every one of you, accompanied by your families. I warmly hope that your visit to Rome, to the tombs of the Apostles, will strengthen you in your faith and fill your hearts with joy and peace.

First of all, I wish to express to you my deep gratitude for your valuable collaboration with the Archdiocese of Zaragoza and the Apostolic Nunciature in Madrid, in setting up the Holy See Pavilion at the International Exposition in Zaragoza last year.

The Holy See pavilion, one of the most visited and appreciated, housed an important exhibition of the valuable artistic, cultural and religious patrimony that the Church looks after. The initiative aimed to offer its numerous visitors a timely reflection on the importance and fundamental value of water for human life.

Through its participation in the Zaragoza Expo, the Holy See sought not only to demonstrate the imperative need to protect the environment and nature constantly but also to discover their deepest spiritual and religious dimension. Today, as never before, it is essential to help people grasp that Creation is something more than a simple source of wealth to be exploited by human hands. Indeed, when God, through creation, gave man the keys to the earth, he expected him to use this great gift properly, making it fruitful in a responsible and respectful way. The human being discovers the intrinsic value of nature if he learns to see it as it truly is, the expression of a project of love and truth which speaks to us of the Creator and of his love for humanity, which will find its fullness in Christ at the end of time (cf. Caritas in Veritate ). In this regard, it is appropriate to recall once again the close relationship that exists between protection of the environment and respect for the ethical requirements of human nature, since "when the "human ecology' is respected within society, environmental ecology also benefits" (ibid., n. 51).

At the end of this meeting, I would like once again to express my gratitude to you for your generous collaboration, as well as to all the people, institutions and firms that took part in this important and praiseworthy initiative. On this occasion, I commend you in a special way to the intercession of the Virgin of the Pillar, at whose feet flow the abundant waters of the River Ebro. With these warm sentiments, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your families.


Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

Like the Apostle Paul at the dawn of the Church, you have come, beloved Pastors of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Olinda e Recife, Paríba, Maceió and Natal, to visit Peter (cf. Gal Ga 1,18). I welcome and greet with affection each one of you, starting with Archbishop Antônio of Maceió. I thank him for conveying your sentiments and also expressing the joys, difficulties and hopes of the pilgrim People of God in the North East II Region. Through each one of you, I embrace the priests and faithful of your diocesan communities.

With her faithful and with her ministers, the Church is the priestly community on earth. She is organically structured as the Body of Christ to carry out effectively her historical mission of salvation, united with her Head. This is what St Paul teaches us: "You are the body of Christ and individually members of it" (1Co 12,27). In fact, the members do not all have the same function: it is this that constitutes the beauty and life of the body (cf. 1Co 12,14-17). The specific identity of the ordained faithful and lay people may be understood through the fundamental difference between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood. This is why the secularization of priests and the clericalization of lay people must be avoided. Thus, in this perspective, the lay faithful must engage to express in reality and also through political commitment the Christian anthropological vision and the social doctrine of the Church.

In other words priests must steer clear of personal involvement in politics in order to encourage the unity and communion of all the faithful and thus be a reference point for all. It is important to increase this knowledge in priests, in religious and in the lay faithful, encouraging and taking care in order that each may feel motivated to act according to his or her own state.

The harmonious, correct and clear deepening of the relationship between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood is one of the most delicate issues in the existence and life of the Church. In fact, the small number of priests could lead communities to resign themselves to this shortage, finding comfort, at times, in the fact that the lack of priests makes the role of the lay faithful more prominent. However, it is not the lack of priests that justifies a more active and consistent participation of lay people. The more aware the faithful become of their responsibilities in the Church the more clearly stand out the priest's identity and his irreplaceable role as Pastor of the community overall, as a witness of the authenticity of the faith and a steward on behalf of Christ the Head of the mysteries of salvation.

We know that the "saving mission entrusted by the Father to his incarnate Son was committed to the Apostles and through them to their successors: they receive the Spirit of Jesus to act in his name and in his person. The ordained minister is the sacramental bond that ties the liturgical action to what the Apostles said and did and, through them, to the words and actions of Christ, the source and foundation of the sacraments" (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 1120). For this reason, the role of the priest is essential and irreplaceable for the proclamation of the word and for the celebration of the sacraments, especially of the Eucharist, the memorial of the supreme Sacrifice of Christ who gives his Body and his Blood. I therefore urge you to ask the Lord to send labourers to his harvest; furthermore, it is necessary for priests to express the joy of fidelity to their identity with the enthusiasm of the mission.

Beloved Brothers, I am sure that with your pastoral concern and with prudence, you will take special pains to guarantee the communities of your respective dioceses the presence of an ordained minister. Although many of you are obliged to organize ecclesial life with few priests, it is important to ensure that the current situation is not regarded as normal or typical of the future. As I recalled last week to the first group of Brazilian Bishops, you must focus your efforts on awakening new priestly vocations and on finding the indispensable pastors for your dioceses, helping one another so that all may have at their disposal better trained and more numerous priests to support the life of faith and the apostolic mission of the faithful.

On the other hand, those who have received Sacred Orders are also called to live with consistence and in fullness the grace and commitments of Baptism, in other words to offer themselves and their whole life in union with Christ's sacrifice. The daily celebration of the Sacrifice of the Altar and praying daily the Liturgy of the Hours must always be accompanied by the testimony of an existence that becomes a gift to God and to others and thus serves as an orientation for the faithful.

In recent months, the Church has had her gaze fixed on the exemplary Holy Curé d'Ars who asked the faithful to unite their own lives with the Sacrifice of Christ and offered himself, exclaiming: "How well a priest does to offer himself as a sacrifice to God every morning!" (Le Curé d'Ars. Sa pensée - son coeur, coord. Bernard Nodet, 1966, p. 104). He continues to be an up-to-date model for your priests, especially in living celibacy as a requirement of the total gift of self, an expression of that pastoral charity which the Second Vatican Council presents as a unifying centre of priestly existence and action. Frei Antônio de Sant'Anna Galvão [Fra Anthony of St Anne Galvão], whom I had the joy of canonizing on 11 May 2007, lived in almost the same period as the Curé d'Ars in São Paulo, in our beloved Brazil. He too left us a "witness as an ardent adorer of the Eucharist", living in "laus perennis, in a constant attitude of adoration" (Homily for the canonization of Bl. Fra Anthony of St Anne Galvão, n. 2). In this way they both sought to imitate Jesus Christ, each making himself not only a priest but also a victim and an oblation, like Jesus.

Beloved Brothers in the Episcopate, numerous signs of hope for the future of your particular Churches are already visible, a future that God is preparing through the zeal and fidelity with which you exercise your episcopal ministry. I would like to assure you of my fraternal support and at the same time I ask you for your prayers so that I may be granted to strengthen everyone in the faith of the Apostles (cf. Lc 22,32). May the Blessed Virgin Mary intercede for the whole People of God in Brazil, so that Pastors and faithful, with courage and joy may boldly "proclaim the mystery of the Gospel" (cf. Ep 6,19). With this prayer, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to the priests, and to all the faithful of your dioceses "Peace to all of you that are in Christ" (1P 5,14).



Castel Gandolfo Saturday, 19 September 2009

Your Eminences,
Your Beatitudes,
Venerable Patriarchs and Major Archbishops,

I cordially greet you all and thank you for accepting the invitation to take part in this meeting. I offer each one of you my fraternal embrace of peace. I greet Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, and Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, together with the Secretary and the Dicastery's other officials.

Let us thank God for this informal gathering that enables us to listen to the voices of the Churches you serve with admirable self-denial, and to reinforce the bonds of communion that bind them to the Apostolic See. Today's gathering reminds me of the meeting on 24 April 2005 at the tomb of St Peter. At that time, at the beginning of my Pontificate, I wanted to make a pilgrimage in spirit to the heart of the Christian East. Today's meeting is another significant milestone on that pilgrimage, on which it is my intention to continue. You have asked on various occasions for more frequent contact with the Bishop of Rome to strengthen increasingly the communion of your Churches with the Successor of Peter, and to examine together, when necessary, possible topics of special importance. This proposal was also renewed at the last Plenary Assembly of the Dicastery for the Eastern Churches and at the General Assemblies of the Synod of Bishops.

For my part, I feel it is my main duty to encourage the synodality so dear to Eastern ecclesiology and acknowledged with appreciation by the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. I fully share in the esteem that the Council showed your Churches in the Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum which my venerable Predecessor John Paul II reaffirmed in particular in his Apostolic Exhortation Orientale Lumen. I also share in the hope that the Eastern Catholic Churches will "flourish" in order "to fulfil with new apostolic strength the task entrusted to them", so as to foster "the unity of all Christians, in particular of Eastern Christians, according to the principles laid down in the decree of this holy Council, "On Ecumenism'" (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 1,24). The ecumenical horizon is often connected with the interreligious outlook. In these two areas the whole Church needs the experience of coexistence, which your Churches have developed since the first Christian millennium.

Venerable Brothers, at this fraternal meeting you will certainly be bringing up the problems that are troubling you and that could find adequate guidance in those who are properly competent. I would like to assure you that you are constantly in my thoughts and in my prayers. I do not forget, in particular, that appeal for peace which you put in my hands at the end of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops last October. Moreover, speaking of peace, my thoughts turn in the first place to the regions of the Middle East. I thus take this opportunity to announce the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East which I have convened and which will take place from 10 to 24 October 2010 on the theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and witness 'The company of those who believed were of one heart and soul' (Ac 4,32)".

While I express the wish that today's meeting will bear the hoped-for fruits, as I invoke the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy I bless all of you and all the Eastern Catholic Churches.

TO BISHOPS ORDAINED DURING THE PAST YEAR Hall of the Swiss, Papal Summer Residence of Castel Gandolfo Monday, 21 September 2009


Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I cordially thank you for your visit on the occasion of the Congress organized for the Bishops who have only recently taken on their pastoral ministry. These days of reflection, prayer and updating are truly useful to you, dear Brothers, and will help you familiarize yourselves better with the tasks you are called to carry out as the Pastors of diocesan communities; they are also days of friendly coexistence that provide a special experience of that "collegialitas affectiva" that unites all Bishops in one apostolic body, together with the Successor of Peter, "the perpetual and visible source and foundation of... unity" (Lumen Gentium
LG 23).

I thank Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, for his courteous words on your behalf; I greet Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, and I express my gratitude to all who, in their various capacities, collaborate in the organization of this annual meeting.

This year, as Cardinal Re has mentioned, your Congress fits into the context of the Year for Priests, inaugurated in honour of the 150th anniversary of the death of St John Mary Vianney. As I wrote in the Letter I addressed to all priests for the occasion, this special Year is "meant to deepen the commitment of all priests to interior renewal for the sake of a more forceful and incisive witness to the Gospel in today's world" (Letter to Priests for the inauguration of the Year for Priests, 16 June 2009). For every priest, imitation of the Good Shepherd is the obligatory way to his own sanctification and the essential condition for exercising the pastoral ministry responsibly. If this applies for priests, it applies especially for us, dear Brother Bishops. Indeed, it is important not to forget that one of the Bishop's essential tasks is, precisely, to help priests - by his example and his brotherly support - to follow their vocation faithfully and to work with enthusiasm and love in the Lord's vineyard.

In this regard, in his Post-Synodal Exhortation Pastores Gregis, my venerable Predecessor John Paul II pointed out that the action of the priest who places his hands in the hands of the Bishop on the day of his priestly ordination commits them both: the priest and the Bishop. The new priest chooses to entrust himself to the Bishop and the Bishop, for his part, obliges himself to look after those hands (cf. n. 47). At a close look, this is a solemn task which, for the Bishop, takes the form of paternal responsibility in safeguarding and fostering the priestly identity of those presbyters entrusted to his pastoral care. Today, unfortunately, we see this identity severely tried by the spreading secularization. Therefore, Pastores Gregis continues, "the Bishop will always strive to relate to his priests as a father and brother who loves them, listens to them, welcomes them, corrects them, supports them, seeks their cooperation and, as much as possible, is concerned for their human spiritual, ministerial and financial well-being" (ibid., n. 47).

The Bishop is called in a special way to nurture spiritual life in his priests so as to foster in them harmony between prayer and the apostolate, looking at Jesus' example and that of the Apostles whom Jesus called first of all, as St Mark tells us, "to be with him" (Mc 3,14). Indeed, an indispensable condition for producing fruits of good is that the priest remain united with the Lord; herein lies the secret of his ministry's fruitfulness: only if he is incorporated into Christ, the true Vine, does he bear fruit. Today a priest's mission and even more so that of a Bishop, entails a mountain of work that tends to absorb him continuously and totally. Difficulties increase and his duties multiply, partly because he is faced by new situations and greater pastoral demands. Yet, attention to every day problems and initiatives that aim to lead people on God's path must never distract us from intimate and personal union with Christ. Being available to people must not diminish or cloud our availability to the Lord. The time that priests and Bishops dedicate to God in prayer is always well spent, because prayer is the soul of pastoral activity, the "sap" that imbues them with strength, it is support in moments of uncertainty and discouragement and is the inexhaustible source of missionary zeal and brotherly love for all.

At the heart of priestly life is the Eucharist. In my Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis I stressed that "Mass is formative in the deepest sense of the word, since it fosters the priest's configuration to Christ and strengthens him in his vocation" (n. 80). May the Eucharistic celebration therefore illumine the whole of your day and that of your priests, impressing its grace and its spiritual influence upon the sad and joyous, disturbed and restful moments, the moments of action and moments of contemplation. An advantageous way of extending the mysterious sanctifying action of the Eucharist throughout the day is the devout recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours, as well as Eucharistic Adoration, lectio divina and the contemplative prayer of the Rosary. The Holy Curé d'Ars teaches us how valuable are the priest's identification of himself with the Eucharistic sacrifice and the education of the faithful in the Eucharistic presence and in communion. As I recalled in the Letter to Priests, thanks to the word and to the sacraments of Jesus, St John Mary Vianney built up his flock (cf. Letter to Priests for the Inauguration of the Year for Priests, 16 June 2009). When the Saint was appointed parish priest of Ars, the Vicar General of the Diocese of Belley said to him: "There is little love of God in that parish; you will be the one to put it there" (ibid.). And that parish was transformed.

Dear new Bishops, thank you for the service you are rendering to the Church with dedication and love. I greet you with affection and assure you of my constant support, united with my prayers that you may "go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15,16). For this reason I invoke the intercession of Mary Regina Apostolorum, and I wholeheartedly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, to your priests and to your diocesan communities.


Consistory Hall, Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

Welcome! With great pleasure I receive you in this house and I hope with all my heart that your ad limina visit will give you the comfort and encouragement that you are expecting. I thank you for the cordial welcome you have just addressed to me through Dom José, Archbishop of Fortaleza, testifying to the sentiments of affection and communion that unite your particular Churches to the See of Rome, and to the determination with which you have assumed the urgent mission to rekindle the light and grace of Christ on your people's paths through life.

Today I would like to speak of the first of these paths: the family based on marriage, "the intimate union of marriage, as a mutual giving of two persons... a man and a woman" (cf. Gaudium et Spes
GS 48). As a natural institution confirmed by the divine law, the family is ordered to the good of the spouses and the education of the offspring, and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory (cf. ibid.). All this is being called into question by forces and voices in contemporary society that seem determined to demolish the natural cradle of human life. Your reports and our individual conversations have repeatedly touched on this situation of the family under siege, whose life is drained by numerous battles; however, it is encouraging to perceive that despite all the negative influences the people of your North East Regions i and iv, sustained by their characteristic religious piety and a deep sense of fraternal solidarity, continue to be open to the Gospel of Life.

Since we know that the image and likeness proper to the human being can only come from God (Gn 1,27), as happened in the Creation the generation and continuation of Creation with you and with your faithful, "I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with might through his Spirit in the inner man" (Ep 3,14-16). May the father and mother in every home, intimately fortified by the power of the Holy Spirit, continue united to be God's Blessing in their own family, seeking the eternity of their love in the sources of grace entrusted to the Church which is "a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Lumen Gentium LG 4).

However, whereas the Church compares human life with the life of the Blessed Trinity the first unity of life in the plurality of the Persons and never tires of teaching that the family is founded on marriage and on God's plan; much of the secularized world experiences the deepest uncertainty in this regard, especially since Western societies legalized divorce. The only recognized foundation seems to be sentiment or individual subjectivity which is expressed in the desire to live together. In this situation, the number of marriages is dwindling, because no one pledges their life on such a frail and inconstant premise, and so de facto unions and divorces are increasing. The drama of so many children who are deprived of the support of their parents, victims of uneasiness and neglect is played out in this instability, and social disorder spreads.

The Church cannot be indifferent to the separation of spouses and to divorce, facing the break-up of homes and the consequences for the children that divorce causes. If they are to be instructed and educated, children need extremely precise and concrete reference points, in other words parents who are determined and reliable who contribute in quite another way to their upbringing. Nor, it is this principle that the practice of divorce is undermining and jeopardizing with the so-called "extended" family that multiplies "father" and "mother" figures and explains why today the majority of those who feel "orphans" are not children without parents but children who have too many. This situation, with the inevitable interference and the intersection of relationships, cannot but give rise to inner conflict and confusion, contributing to creating and impressing upon children an erroneous typology of the family, which in a certain sense can be compared to cohabitation, because of its precariousness.

The Church is firmly convinced that the true solution to the current problems that husbands and wives encounter and that weaken their union lies in a return to the stable Christian family, an environment of mutual trust, reciprocal giving, respect for freedom and education in social life. It is important to remember that: "the love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 1644). In fact, Jesus said clearly "what therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder" (Mc 10,9) and added, "whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery" (Mc 10,11-12). With all the understanding that the Church can show in these situations, there are no spouses of the second marriage but only of the first: this is an irregular and dangerous situation which it is necessary to resolve, in fidelity to Christ and with the help of a priest, finding a possible way to save all those involved.

To help families, I urge you to propose to them with conviction the virtues of the Holy Family: prayer, the cornerstone of every domestic hearth faithful to its own identity and mission; hard work, the backbone of every mature and responsible marriage; silence, the foundation of every free and effective activity. In this way, I encourage your priests and the pastoral centres of your dioceses to accompany families, so that they are not disappointed or seduced by certain relativistic lifestyles that the cinema and other forms of media promote. I trust in the witness of those families that draw their energy from the sacrament of marriage; with them it becomes possible to overcome the trial that befalls them, to be able to forgive an offence, to accept a suffering child, to illumine the life of the other, even if he or she is weak or disabled, through the beauty of love. It is on the basis of families such as these that the fabric of society must be restored.

Dear Brothers, these are a few thoughts that I leave you at the end of your ad limina visit full of comforting information but also anxiety for the future features that your beloved nation could acquire. Work with intelligence and zeal, spare no effort in training active communities aware of their faith, to consolidate the features of the North Eastern population in accordance with the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth. These are my wishes which I strengthen with the Apostolic Blessing which I impart to you all, extending it to the Christian families and to the various ecclesial communities with their pastors, as well as to all the faithful of your beloved dioceses.

Speeches 2005-13 7099