Speeches 2005-13 27099
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am grateful to Almighty God for the opportunity to meet with you who are here representing the various Christian communities of this land. I thank Doctor Cerný, President of the Ecumenical Council of Churches in the Czech Republic, for the kind words of welcome which he has addressed to me on your behalf.
My dear friends, Europe continues to undergo many changes. It is hard to believe that only two decades have passed since the collapse of former regimes gave way to a difficult but productive transition towards more participatory political structures. During this period, Christians joined together with others of good will in helping to rebuild a just political order, and they continue to engage in dialogue today in order to pave new ways towards mutual understanding, cooperation for peace and the advancement of the common good.
Nevertheless, attempts to marginalize the influence of Christianity upon public life – sometimes under the pretext that its teachings are detrimental to the well-being of society – are emerging in new forms. This phenomenon gives us pause to reflect. As I suggested in my Encyclical on Christian hope, the artificial separation of the Gospel from intellectual and public life should prompt us to engage in a mutual “self-critique of modernity” and “self-critique of modern Christianity,” specifically with regard to the hope each of them can offer mankind (cf. Spe Salvi ). We may ask ourselves, what does the Gospel have to say to the Czech Republic and indeed all of Europe today in a period marked by proliferating world views?
Christianity has much to offer on the practical and ethical level, for the Gospel never ceases to inspire men and women to place themselves at the service of their brothers and sisters. Few would dispute this. Yet those who fix their gaze upon Jesus of Nazareth with eyes of faith know that God offers a deeper reality which is nonetheless inseparable from the “economy” of charity at work in this world (cf. Caritas in Veritate, ): He offers salvation.
The term is replete with connotations, yet it expresses something fundamental and universal about the human yearning for well-being and wholeness. It alludes to the ardent desire for reconciliation and communion that wells up spontaneously in the depths of the human spirit. It is the central truth of the Gospel and the goal to which every effort of evangelization and pastoral care is directed. And it is the criterion to which Christians constantly redirect their focus as they endeavour to heal the wounds of past divisions. To this end – as Doctor Cerný has noted – the Holy See was pleased to host an International Symposium in 1999 on Jan Hus to facilitate a discussion of the complex and turbulent religious history in this country and in Europe more generally (cf. Pope John Paul II, Address to the International Symposium on John Hus, 1999). I pray that such ecumenical initiatives will yield fruit not only in the pursuit of Christian unity, but for the good of all European society.
We take confidence in knowing that the Church’s proclamation of salvation in Christ Jesus is ever ancient and ever new, steeped in the wisdom of the past and brimming with hope for the future. As Europe listens to the story of Christianity, she hears her own. Her notions of justice, freedom and social responsibility, together with the cultural and legal institutions established to preserve these ideas and hand them on to future generations, are shaped by her Christian inheritance. Indeed, her memory of the past animates her aspirations for the future.
This is why, in fact, Christians draw upon the example of figures such as Saint Adalbert and Saint Agnes of Bohemia. Their commitment to spreading the Gospel was motivated by the conviction that Christians should not cower in fear of the world but rather confidently share the treasury of truths entrusted to them. Likewise Christians today, opening themselves to present realities and affirming all that is good in society, must have the courage to invite men and women to the radical conversion that ensues upon an encounter with Christ and ushers in a new life of grace.
From this perspective, we understand more clearly why Christians are obliged to join others in reminding Europe of her roots. It is not because these roots have long since withered. On the contrary! It is because they continue – in subtle but nonetheless fruitful ways – to supply the continent with the spiritual and moral sustenance that allows her to enter into meaningful dialogue with people from other cultures and religions. Precisely because the Gospel is not an ideology, it does not presume to lock evolving socio-political realities into rigid schemas. Rather, it transcends the vicissitudes of this world and casts new light on the dignity of the human person in every age. Dear friends, let us ask the Lord to implant within us a spirit of courage to share the timeless saving truths which have shaped, and will continue to shape, the social and cultural progress of this continent.
The salvation wrought by Jesus suffering, death, resurrection and ascension into heaven not only transforms us who believe in him, but urges us to share this Good News with others. Enlightened by the Spirit’s gifts of knowledge, wisdom and understanding (cf. Is Is 11,1-2 Ex 35,31), may our capacity to grasp the truth taught by Jesus Christ impel us to work tirelessly for the unity he desires for all his children reborn through Baptism, and indeed for the whole human race.
With these sentiments, and with fraternal affection for you and the members of your respective communities, I express my deep thanks to you and commend you to Almighty God, who is our fortress, our stronghold and our deliverer (cf. Ps 144,2). Amen.
Distinguished Rectors and Professors,
Dear Students and Friends,
Our meeting this evening gives me a welcome opportunity to express my esteem for the indispensable role in society of universities and institutions of higher learning. I thank the student who has kindly greeted me in your name, the members of the university choir for their fine performance, and the distinguished Rector of Charles University, Professor Václav Hampl, for his thoughtful presentation. The service of academia, upholding and contributing to the cultural and spiritual values of society, enriches the nation’s intellectual patrimony and strengthens the foundations of its future development. The great changes which swept Czech society twenty years ago were precipitated not least by movements of reform which originated in university and student circles. That quest for freedom has continued to guide the work of scholars whose diakonia of truth is indispensable to any nation’s well-being.
I address you as one who has been a professor, solicitous of the right to academic freedom and the responsibility for the authentic use of reason, and is now the Pope who, in his role as Shepherd, is recognized as a voice for the ethical reasoning of humanity. While some argue that the questions raised by religion, faith and ethics have no place within the purview of collective reason, that view is by no means axiomatic. The freedom that underlies the exercise of reason – be it in a university or in the Church – has a purpose: it is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university. Indeed, man’s thirst for knowledge prompts every generation to broaden the concept of reason and to drink at the wellsprings of faith. It was precisely the rich heritage of classical wisdom, assimilated and placed at the service of the Gospel, which the first Christian missionaries brought to these lands and established as the basis of a spiritual and cultural unity which endures to this day. The same spirit led my predecessor Pope Clement VI to establish the famed Charles University in 1347, which continues to make an important contribution to wider European academic, religious and cultural circles.
The proper autonomy of a university, or indeed any educational institution, finds meaning in its accountability to the authority of truth. Nevertheless, that autonomy can be thwarted in a variety of ways. The great formative tradition, open to the transcendent, which stands at the base of universities across Europe, was in this land, and others, systematically subverted by the reductive ideology of materialism, the repression of religion and the suppression of the human spirit. In 1989, however, the world witnessed in dramatic ways the overthrow of a failed totalitarian ideology and the triumph of the human spirit. The yearning for freedom and truth is inalienably part of our common humanity. It can never be eliminated; and, as history has shown, it is denied at humanity’s own peril. It is to this yearning that religious faith, the various arts, philosophy, theology and other scientific disciplines, each with its own method, seek to respond, both on the level of disciplined reflection and on the level of a sound praxis.
Distinguished Rectors and Professors, together with your research there is a further essential aspect of the mission of the university in which you are engaged, namely the responsibility for enlightening the minds and hearts of the young men and women of today. This grave duty is of course not new. From the time of Plato, education has been not merely the accumulation of knowledge or skills, but paideia, human formation in the treasures of an intellectual tradition directed to a virtuous life. While the great universities springing up throughout Europe during the middle ages aimed with confidence at the ideal of a synthesis of all knowledge, it was always in the service of an authentic humanitas, the perfection of the individual within the unity of a well-ordered society. And likewise today: once young people’s understanding of the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened, they relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of how they ought to be and what they ought to do.
The idea of an integrated education, based on the unity of knowledge grounded in truth, must be regained. It serves to counteract the tendency, so evident in contemporary society, towards a fragmentation of knowledge. With the massive growth in information and technology there comes the temptation to detach reason from the pursuit of truth. Sundered from the fundamental human orientation towards truth, however, reason begins to lose direction: it withers, either under the guise of modesty, resting content with the merely partial or provisional, or under the guise of certainty, insisting on capitulation to the demands of those who indiscriminately give equal value to practically everything. The relativism that ensues provides a dense camouflage behind which new threats to the autonomy of academic institutions can lurk. While the period of interference from political totalitarianism has passed, is it not the case that frequently, across the globe, the exercise of reason and academic research are – subtly and not so subtly – constrained to bow to the pressures of ideological interest groups and the lure of short-term utilitarian or pragmatic goals? What will happen if our culture builds itself only on fashionable arguments, with little reference to a genuine historical intellectual tradition, or on the viewpoints that are most vociferously promoted and most heavily funded? What will happen if in its anxiety to preserve a radical secularism, it detaches itself from its life-giving roots? Our societies will not become more reasonable or tolerant or adaptable but rather more brittle and less inclusive, and they will increasingly struggle to recognize what is true, noble and good.
Dear friends, I wish to encourage you in all that you do to meet the idealism and generosity of young people today not only with programmes of study which assist them to excel, but also by an experience of shared ideals and mutual support in the great enterprise of learning. The skills of analysis and those required to generate a hypothesis, combined with the prudent art of discernment, offer an effective antidote to the attitudes of self-absorption, disengagement and even alienation which are sometimes found in our prosperous societies, and which can particularly affect the young. In this context of an eminently humanistic vision of the mission of the university, I would like briefly to mention the mending of the breach between science and religion which was a central concern of my predecessor, Pope John Paul II. He, as you know, promoted a fuller understanding of the relationship between faith and reason as the two wings by which the human spirit is lifted to the contemplation of truth (cf. Fides et Ratio, Proemium). Each supports the other and each has its own scope of action (cf. ibid., 17), yet still there are those who would detach one from the other. Not only do the proponents of this positivistic exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason negate what is one of the most profound convictions of religious believers, they also thwart the very dialogue of cultures which they themselves propose. An understanding of reason that is deaf to the divine and which relegates religions into the realm of subcultures, is incapable of entering into the dialogue of cultures that our world so urgently needs. In the end, “fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom” (Caritas in Veritate ). This confidence in the human ability to seek truth, to find truth and to live by the truth led to the foundation of the great European universities. Surely we must reaffirm this today in order to bring courage to the intellectual forces necessary for the development of a future of authentic human flourishing, a future truly worthy of man.
With these reflections, dear friends, I offer you my prayerful good wishes for your demanding work. I pray that it will always be inspired and directed by a human wisdom which genuinely seeks the truth which sets us free (cf. Jn 8,28). Upon you and your families I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
Dear Young Friends,
At the conclusion of this celebration I turn to you directly and I greet you warmly. You have come here in great numbers from all over the country and from neighbouring countries; you camped here yesterday evening and you spent the night in tents, sharing an experience of faith and companionship. Thank you for your presence here, which gives me a sense of the enthusiasm and generosity so characteristic of youth. Being with you makes the Pope feel young! I extend a particular word of thanks to your representative for his words and for the wonderful gift.
Dear friends, it is not hard to see that in every young person there is an aspiration towards happiness, sometimes tinged with anxiety: an aspiration that is often exploited, however, by present-day consumerist society in false and alienating ways. Instead, that longing for happiness must be taken seriously, it demands a true and comprehensive response. At your age, the first major choices are made, choices that can set your lives on a particular course, for better or worse. Unfortunately, many of your contemporaries allow themselves to be led astray by illusory visions of spurious happiness, and then they find themselves sad and alone. Yet there are also many young men and women who seek to transform doctrine into action, as your representative said, so as to give the fullness of meaning to their lives. I invite you all to consider the experience of Saint Augustine, who said that the heart of every person is restless until it finds what it truly seeks. And he discovered that Jesus Christ alone is the answer that can satisfy his and every person’s desire for a life of happiness, filled with meaning and value (cf. Confessions, I.1.1).
As he did with Augustine, so the Lord comes to meet each one of you. He knocks at the door of your freedom and asks to be welcomed as a friend. He wants to make you happy, to fill you with humanity and dignity. The Christian faith is this: encounter with Christ, the living Person who gives life a new horizon and thereby a definitive direction. And when the heart of a young person opens up to his divine plans, it is not difficult to recognize and follow his voice. The Lord calls each of us by name, and entrusts to us a specific mission in the Church and in society. Dear young people, be aware that by Baptism you have become children of God and members of his Body, the Church. Jesus constantly renews his invitation to you to be his disciples and his witnesses. Many of you he calls to marriage, and the preparation for this Sacrament constitutes a real vocational journey. Consider seriously the divine call to raise a Christian family, and let your youth be the time in which to build your future with a sense of responsibility. Society needs Christian families, saintly families!
And if the Lord is calling you to follow him in the ministerial priesthood or in the consecrated life, do not hesitate to respond to his invitation. In particular, in this Year of Priests, I appeal to you, young men: be attentive and open to Jesus call to offer your lives in the service of God and his people. The Church in every country, including this one, needs many holy priests and also persons fully consecrated to the service of Christ, Hope of the world.
Hope! This word, to which I often return, sits particularly well with youth. You, my dear young people, are the hope of the Church! She expects you to become messengers of hope, as happened last year in Australia, during World Youth Day, that great manifestation of youthful faith that I was able to experience personally, and in which some of you took part. Many more of you will be able to come to Madrid in August 2011. I invite you here and now to participate in this great gathering of young people with Christ in the Church.
Dear friends, thank you again for being here and thank you for your gift: the book of photographs recounting the lives of young people in your dioceses. Thank you also for the sign of your solidarity towards the young people of Africa, which you have presented to me. The Pope asks you to live your faith with joy and enthusiasm; to grow in unity among yourselves and with Christ; to pray and to be diligent in frequenting the sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession; to take seriously your Christian formation, remaining ever obedient to the teachings of your Pastors. May Saint Wenceslaus guide you along this path through his example and his intercession, and may you always enjoy the protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother. I bless all of you with affection!
* * *
So srdca vítam pútnikov zo Slovenska, osobitne mladých. Milí mladí, bratia a sestry, dakujem sa vašu úcast na dnešnom slávení. Nezabúdajte: Božia láska je vašou silou! Ochotne žehnám vás i vašich drahých. Pochválený bud Ježiš Kristus!
[I extend a warm welcome to the pilgrims who have come from Slovakia, especially the young people. Dear young people, dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your presence at today’s celebration. Do not forget: let the love of God be your strength! I gladly bless you and your loved ones. May Jesus Christ be praised!]
Slowa pozdrowienia kieruje do obecnych tu Polaków, szczególnie do mlodych, którzy towarzysza braciom Czechom w duchu zywej przyjazni. Wspierajcie sie wzajemnie radosnym swiadectwem wiary, abyscie wzrastali w milosci Chrystusa i w mocy Ducha Swietego ku pelni waszego czlowieczenstwa i ku swietosci! Niech Bóg wam blogoslawi!
[I address a word of greeting to the Poles here present, and especially to the young who have come to join their Czech brothers and sisters in a spirit of warm friendship. Support one another by a joyful testimony of faith, growing in Christ’s love and in the power of the Holy Spirit, so as to reach the fullness of humanity and holiness. May God bless you!]
Ganz herzlich grüße ich die Jugendlichen und alle Pilger aus den deutschsprachigen Nachbarländern. Danke für euer Kommen! Eure Teilnahme an diesem Fest des Glaubens und der Hoffnung ist ein Zeichen dafür, daß ihr in Jesus Christus und in der Gemeinschaft der Kirche die Antworten auf eure Fragen und inneren Wünsche sucht. Christus selbst ist der Weg, die Wahrheit und das Leben (vgl. Joh 14,6). Er ist der Grund, der wirklich unser Leben trägt. Auf diesem Fundament können christliche Familien entstehen und junge Menschen auf ihre Berufung zum Priester und zum geweihten Leben antworten. Die persönliche Freundschaft mit Christus erfüllt uns mit echter, bleibender Freude und macht uns bereit, Gottes Plan für unser Leben zu verwirklichen. Dazu erbitte ich euch allen den Beistand des Heiligen Geistes.
[I offer warm greetings to the young people and to all the pilgrims who have come from neighbouring German-speaking countries. Thank you for your presence! Your participation in this feast of faith and hope is a sign that you are seeking answers to your questions and inner desires in Jesus Christ and in the community of the Church. Christ himself is the way, the truth and the life (cf. Jn 14,6). He is the foundation that truly supports our life. On this firm basis, Christian families can be raised and young people can respond to their vocation to the priesthood and the consecrated life. Personal friendship with Christ fills us with genuine, lasting joy and makes us ready to put into effect God’s plan for our life. To this end, I invoke upon all of you the assistance of the Holy Spirit.]
Milovaní mladí prátelé, vaše nadšení pro krestanskou víru je znamením nadeje pro církev žijící a pusobící v techto zemích. Abyste dali plnejší smysl svému mládí, následujte odvážne a štedre Pána Ježíše, který klepe na dvere vašeho srdce. Kristus od vás žádá, abyste jej prijali jako prítele. Necht vám Pán žehná a naplní každý váš dobrý životní plán!
[Dear young friends, your enthusiasm for the Christian faith is a sign of hope for the Church that is present and active in these lands. In order to give a fuller meaning to your youth, follow the Lord Jesus with courage and generosity as he knocks on the door of your hearts. Christ asks you to welcome him as a friend. May the Lord bless you and bring to fulfilment every good plan that you make for your lives!]
[Mr President, Dear Cardinals, Brother Bishops, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I come to bid farewell, I wish to thank you for your generous hospitality during my short stay in this beautiful country.]
I am especially grateful to you, Mr President, for your words and for the time spent at your residence. On this feast of Saint Wenceslaus, your country’s guardian and patron, allow me once again to offer you my sincere good wishes for your name-day. As today is also the name-day of Bishop Václav Malý, I offer my greetings to him too, and I wish to thank him for all his hard work in coordinating the arrangements for my pastoral visit to the Czech Republic. To Cardinal Vlk, Archbishop Graubner, and all who did so much to ensure the smooth unfolding of the series of meetings and celebrations, I am deeply grateful. Naturally I include in my thanks the public authorities, the media, the many volunteers who helped to direct the crowds, and all the faithful who have been praying that this visit might bear fruit for the good of the Czech nation and for the Church in the region.
I shall treasure the memory of the moments of prayer that I was able to spend together with the Bishops, priests and faithful of this country. It was particularly moving this morning to celebrate Mass at Stará Boleslav, site of the martyrdom of the young duke Wenceslaus, and to venerate him at his tomb on Saturday evening in the majestic Cathedral that dominates Prague’s skyline. Yesterday in Moravia, where Saints Cyril and Methodius launched their apostolic mission, I was able to reflect in prayerful thanksgiving on the origins of Christianity in this region, and indeed throughout the Slavic territories. The Church in this country has been truly blessed with a remarkable array of missionaries and martyrs, as well as contemplative saints, among whom I would single out Saint Agnes of Bohemia, whose canonization just twenty years ago providentially heralded the liberation of this country from atheist oppression.
My meeting yesterday with representatives of other Christian communities brought home to me the importance of ecumenical dialogue in this land which suffered so much from the consequences of religious division at the time of the Thirty Years’ War. Much has already been achieved in healing the wounds of the past, and decisive steps have been taken along the path towards reconciliation and true unity in Christ. In building further on these solid foundations, there is an important role for the academic community to play, through its uncompromising search for truth. I was glad to have the opportunity to spend time yesterday with representatives of the nation’s universities, and to express my esteem for the noble vocation to which they have dedicated their lives.
I was especially delighted to meet the young people, and to encourage them to build on the best traditions of this nation’s past, particularly its Christian heritage. According to a saying attributed to Franz Kafka, “Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old” (Gustav Janouch, Conversations with Kafka). If our eyes remain open to the beauty of God’s creation and our minds to the beauty of his truth, then we may indeed hope to remain young and to build a world that reflects something of that divine beauty, so as to inspire future generations to do likewise.
Mr President, dear friends: I thank you once again and I promise to remember you in my prayers and to carry you in my heart. May God bless the Czech Republic!
[May the Holy Infant of Prague continue to inspire and guide you and all the families of this nation! May God bless all of you!]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year too the summer period which I habitually spend at the Residence in Castel Gandolfo is drawing to a close. These months have given me the opportunity to observe from close at hand the generous dedication and competent work of so many people to ensure every possible assistance to me and to my collaborators, my guests and the pilgrims who come to pay me visits, especially on Sundays for the customary recitation of the Angelus. I renew to each one of you my sincere gratitude for all this now, when I am taking leave of this beautiful, happy place that is dear to me.
First of all I greet and thank Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano Laziale, the parish priest and the parish community of Castel Gandolfo, together with the various religious communities who live and work here. In various meetings, I have been granted to note the spiritual dynamism that enlivens the whole local Church of Albano, which I encourage to continue with renewed enthusiasm in the proclamation and witness of the Gospel.
I then offer a respectful greeting to the Mayor and to the members of the Municipal Administration, who never fail to do their utmost in the areas of their competence to make my stay smooth here at Castel Gandolfo. In thanking you for the helpful collaboration with the Administration of the Pontifical Villas that you keep up throughout the year, I gladly take this opportunity to extend my sentiments of affection and appreciation to the entire population of Castel Gandolfo.
I now address the directors and officials of the various Services of the Governorate, starting with the Police Force, the Floreria and the Technical Assistance. Dear friends, here in Castel Gandolfo I have also been able to appreciate the self-denial that distinguishes you in your work at the service of the Successor of Peter. I assure you of my constant remembrance in prayer for you and your families. With deep cordiality, I also address my grateful greeting to the Pontifical Swiss Guard, whose presence and efficiency here in the Apostolic Palace and at the meetings with the Pope and pilgrims, certainly offers visitors a more efficient welcome.
Then a thought of sincere gratitude goes to the officers and agents of the various Italian Police Forces, for their constant collaboration, as well as to the officers and airmen of the 31st Squadron of the Italian Airforce. I thank you all for your qualified service that contributes to the serenity of my stay and that of my collaborators, and which is particularly useful to me in my helicopter trips.
Dear brothers and sisters, once again I repeat my truly wholehearted thanks to you all.
Today the Church is commemorating St Thérčse of the Child Jesus, a Carmelite of the Monastery of Lisieux. Her witness shows that the word of God alone, received and understood in practical requirements, becomes a renewed source of life. To our society, all too often permeated by a rationalistic culture and widespread practical materialism, the little Thérčse of Lisieux points out in response to the great existential questions, the "little way", which instead looks at the essential of things. It is the humble path of love, able to envelop and to give meaning and value to every human event. Dear friends, follow the example of this Saint; the road she took is within everyone's reach, because it is the road of total trust in God who is Love and never abandons us.
Thank you once again for coming to this meeting; I thank in a special way those who have expressed your sentiments. I entrust you all to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin and I warmly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, which I extend to your families and to your loved ones.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Having come to the end of my stay in Castel Gandolfo, I would like to renew to you my deep gratitude for the valuable hard work you carry out here, in the Pontifical Villas. I greet first of all the Director, Mr Saverio Petrillo, and thank him for the courteous words with which he has expressed your common sentiments; I then greet his collaborators and all of you who form the working team of this "appendix" of the Vatican. In these months I have been able to note personally the attention and promptness with which you carry out your daily work. My heartfelt thanks to you all!
I extend my thanks to your families that in a certain way participate in your service to the Holy See, accepting your availability which entails frequent absences from home, especially in the period of my stay at Castel Gandolfo. I ask the Lord to help you and your loved ones, filling you with his grace and accompanying you with his fatherly love.
Today we are celebrating the Memorial of St Thérčse of the Child Jesus who is commemorated by the Church especially because she intuited and described the profound truth of Love as the centre and heart of the Church, and lived this mystery intensely in her rather short life. Precisely because of the central position that her relationship with God assumed, her choice of love and the place she reserved for affection and sentiment on the spiritual journey, Thérčse of Lisieux is a very timely Saint, who is presented as a unique model and guide for all, young people and adults alike. I entrust you to her special protection so that you may carry out your work serenely and profitably. May the Blessed Virgin whom I trustingly invoke always watch over you and your families, while I assure you my remembrance in prayer and Bless you all with affection.
Speeches 2005-13 27099