Speeches 2005-13 299
I am pleased to greet the members of The Papal Foundation on the occasion of your annual pilgrimage to Rome. Our meeting is pervaded by the joy of this Easter season, as the Church celebrates the Lord’s glorious victory over death and his gift of new life in the Holy Spirit.
A year ago I had the grace of visiting the Holy Land and praying before the Lord’s empty tomb. There, echoing the witness of the Apostle Peter, I proclaimed that Christ, by rising to new life, has taught us “that evil never has the last word, that love is stronger than death, and that our future, and the future of all humanity, lies in the hands of a faithful and provident God” (Address at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, 15 May 2009). In every time and place, the Church is called to proclaim this message of hope and to confirm its truth by her practical witness of holiness and charity. The Papal Foundation has advanced this mission in a particular way by supporting a broad spectrum of charities close to the heart of the Successor of Peter. I thank you for your generous efforts to offer assistance to our brothers and sisters in developing countries, to provide for the education of the Church’s future leaders, and to advance the missionary endeavors of so many dioceses and religious congregations throughout the world.
In these days I ask you to pray for the needs of the universal Church and to implore a renewed outpouring of the Spirit’s gifts of holiness, unity and missionary zeal upon the whole People of God. With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in Jesus our Risen Lord.
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1950th ANNIVERSARY Dear friends, good evening! Let us hope we have a good journey, without this dark cloud that is overshadowing part of Europe.
So what is the reason for this journey to Malta? There are many reasons.
The first is St Paul. The Pauline year of the universal Church has come to an end but Malta is celebrating 1,950 years since his shipwreck. And this gives me an opportunity once again to bring to light this great figure of the Apostle to the Gentiles, together with his message, important, precisely, also for today. I think the essential of his journey may be summed up in the words that he himself used at the end of his Letter to the Galatians: faith working through love.
Today too, these are the important things: faith, the relationship with God that is subsequently transformed into love. However, I also think that the reason for the shipwreck speaks to us. It was from the shipwreck that Malta's good fortune to acquire the faith was born so we may likewise believe that the shipwrecks of life can fulfil God's plan for us and can also be useful for new beginnings in our own lives.
The second reason: I like to live in the midst of a lively Church, such as the Church in Malta in which vocations are blossoming even today and which is full of faith in the midst of our time and responds to the challenges of our time. I know that Malta loves Christ and loves his Church which is his Body, and knows that even if this Body is wounded by our sins, the Lord loves this Church nevertheless and his Gospel is the true purifying and healing force.
The third point: Malta is the place where waves of refugees arrive from Africa and knock at Europe's door. This is a great problem in our time and, of course, it cannot be solved by the Island of Malta. We must all respond to this challenge, we must work to ensure that all may live a dignified life in their own country. On the other hand, we must do our utmost to enable these refugees, in every case and wherever they arrive, to find a dignified living place. A response to a great challenge of our time: Malta reminds us of these problems and also reminds us that faith itself is the power that provides charity, hence also the imagination to respond well to these challenges. Many thanks.
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1950th ANNIVERSARY International Airport of Malta - Luqa Saturday, 17 April 2010
Dear Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Jien kuntent hafna li ninsab fostkom!
It gives me great joy to be here in Malta with you today. I come among you as a pilgrim to worship the Lord and to praise him for the wonders he has worked here. I come also as the Successor of Saint Peter to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lc 22,32) and to join you in prayer to the one living and true God, in the company of all the Saints, including the great Apostle of Malta, Saint Paul. Though my visit to your country is short, I pray that it will bear much fruit.
I am grateful, Mr President, for the kind words with which you have greeted me in your own name and on behalf of the Maltese people. I thank you for your invitation and for the hard work that you and the Government have done in order to prepare for my visit. I thank the Prime Minister, the civil and military authorities, the members of the Diplomatic Corps and everyone present, for honouring this occasion by your presence and for your cordial welcome.
I greet in a special way Archbishop Paul Cremona, Bishop Mario Grech and Auxiliary Bishop Annetto Depasquale, as well as the other Bishops present. In greeting you, I wish to express my affection for the priests, deacons, men and women Religious and all the lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.
The occasion of my visit to these islands is the nineteen hundred and fiftieth anniversary of Saint Paul’s shipwreck off the island of Malta. Saint Luke describes this event in the Acts of the Apostles, and it is from his account that you have chosen the theme of this visit: “Jehtieg izda li naslu fi gzira” (Ac 27,26). Some might consider Saint Paul’s arrival in Malta by means of a humanly unforeseen event to be a mere accident of history. The eyes of faith, however, enable us to recognize here the workings of divine Providence.
Malta, in fact, has been at the crossroads of many of the great events and cultural exchanges in European and Mediterranean history, right up to our own times. These islands have played a key role in the political, religious and cultural development of Europe, the Near East, and North Africa. To these shores, then, in the mysterious designs of God, the Gospel was brought by Saint Paul and the early followers of Christ. Their missionary work has borne much fruit over the centuries, contributing in innumerable ways to shaping Malta’s rich and noble culture.
On account of their geographical position, these islands have been of great strategic importance on more than one occasion, even in recent times: indeed, the George Cross upon your national flag proudly testifies to your people’s great courage during the dark days of the last world war. Likewise, the fortifications that feature so prominently in the island’s architecture speak of earlier struggles, when Malta contributed so much to the defence of Christianity by land and by sea. You continue to play a valuable role in the ongoing debates on European identity, culture and policy. At the same time, I am pleased to note your Government’s commitment to humanitarian projects further afield, especially in Africa. It is greatly to be hoped that this will serve to promote the welfare of those less fortunate than yourselves, as an expression of genuine Christian charity.
Indeed, Malta has much to contribute to questions as diverse as tolerance, reciprocity, immigration, and other issues crucial to the future of this continent. Your Nation should continue to stand up for the indissolubility of marriage as a natural institution as well as a sacramental one, and for the true nature of the family, just as it does for the sacredness of human life from conception to natural death and for the proper respect owed to religious freedom in ways that bring authentic integral development to individuals and society.
Malta also has close links to the near East, not only in cultural and religious terms, but even linguistically. Allow me to encourage you to put this ensemble of skills and strengths to ever greater use so as to serve as a bridge of understanding between the peoples, cultures and religions which surround the Mediterranean. Much has still to be done to build relationships of genuine trust and fruitful dialogue, and Malta is well placed to hold out the hand of friendship to her neighbours to north and south, to east and west.
The Maltese people, enlightened for almost two millennia by the teachings of the Gospel and continually fortified by their Christian roots, are rightly proud of the indispensable role that the Catholic faith has played in their nation’s development. The beauty of our faith is expressed in various and complementary ways here, not least in the lives of holiness which have led Maltese to give of themselves for the good of others. Among these we must include Dun Gorg Preca, whom I was pleased to canonize just three years ago (3 June, 2007). I invite all of you to invoke his intercession for the spiritual fruitfulness of this, my first pastoral visit among you.
I look forward to praying with you during my time in Malta and I wish, as a father and as a brother, to assure you of my affection for you and my eagerness to share this time with you in faith and friendship. With these thoughts, I entrust all of you to the protection of Our Lady of Ta’ Pinu and your father in the faith, the great Apostle Paul.
Il-Mulej ibierek lill-poplu kollu ta’ Malta u ta’ Ghawdex!
 I am delighted to be here with you!
 “But we are to be stranded on some island” (Ac 27,26).
 God bless all the people of Malta and Gozo!
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1950th ANNIVERSARY Rabat Saturday, 17 April 2010
Dear Archbishop Cremona,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My pilgrimage to Malta has begun with a moment of silent prayer at the Grotto of Saint Paul, who first brought the faith to these islands. I have come in the footsteps of those countless pilgrims down the centuries who have prayed in this holy place, entrusting themselves, their families and the welfare of this nation to the intercession of the Apostle of the Gentiles. I rejoice to be at last in your midst and I greet all of you with great affection in the Lord!
Paul’s shipwreck and his three-month stay in Malta left an indelible mark upon the history of your country. His words to his companions prior to his arrival in Malta are recorded for us in the Acts of the Apostles and have been a special theme in your preparation for my visit. Those words – “Jehtieg izda li naslu fi gzira” – in their original context are a summons to courage in the face of the unknown and to unfailing confidence in God’s mysterious providence. The castaways were, in fact, warmly welcomed by the Maltese people, following the lead given by Saint Publius. In God’s plan, Saint Paul thus became your father in the Christian faith. Thanks to his presence among you, the Gospel of Jesus Christ took deep root and bore fruit not only in the lives of individuals, families and communities, but also in the formation of Malta’s national identity and its vibrant and distinctive culture.
Paul’s apostolic labours also bore a rich harvest in the generations of preachers who followed in his footsteps, and particularly in the great number of priests and religious who imitated his missionary zeal by leaving Malta in order to bring the Gospel to distant shores. I am happy to have had the opportunity to meet so many of them today in this Church of Saint Paul, and to encourage them in their challenging and often heroic vocation. Dear missionaries: I thank all of you, in the name of the whole Church, for your witness to the Risen Lord and for your lives spent in the service of others. Your presence and activity in so many countries of the world brings honour to your country and testifies to an evangelical impulse deeply embedded in the Church in Malta. Let us ask the Lord to raise up many more men and women to carry forward the noble mission of proclaiming the Gospel and working for the advancement of Christ’s Kingdom in every land and people!
Saint Paul’s arrival in Malta was not planned. As we know, he was travelling to Rome when a violent storm arose and his ship ran aground on this island. Sailors can map a journey, but God, in his wisdom and providence, charts a course of his own. Paul, who dramatically encountered the Risen Lord while on the road to Damascus, knew this well. The course of his life was suddenly changed; henceforth, for him, to live was Christ (cf. Ph 1,21); his every thought and action was directed to proclaiming the mystery of the Cross and its message of God’s reconciling love.
That same word, the word of the Gospel, still has the power to break into our lives and to change their course. Today the same Gospel which Paul preached continues to summon the people of these islands to conversion, new life and a future of hope. Standing in your midst as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I invite you to hear God’s word afresh, as your ancestors did, and to let it challenge your ways of thinking and the way you live your lives.
From this holy place where the apostolic preaching first spread throughout these islands, I call upon each of you to take up the exciting challenge of the new evangelization. Live out your faith ever more fully with the members of your families, with your friends, in your neighbourhoods, in the workplace and in the whole fabric of Maltese society. In a particular way I urge parents, teachers and catechists to speak of your own living encounter with the Risen Jesus to others, especially the young people who are Malta’s future. “Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 2). Believe that your moments of faith assure an encounter with God, who in his mighty power touches human hearts. In this way, you will introduce the young to the beauty and richness of the Catholic faith, and offer them a sound catechesis, inviting them to ever more active participation in the sacramental life of the Church.
The world needs this witness! In the face of so many threats to the sacredness of human life, and to the dignity of marriage and the family, do not our contemporaries need to be constantly reminded of the grandeur of our dignity as God’s children and the sublime vocation we have received in Christ? Does not society need to reappropriate and defend those fundamental moral truths which remain the foundation of authentic freedom and genuine progress?
Just now, as I stood before this Grotto, I reflected on the great spiritual gift (cf. Rom Rm 1,11) which Paul gave to Malta, and I prayed that you might keep unblemished the heritage bequeathed to you by the great Apostle. May the Lord confirm you and your families in the faith which works through love (cf. Gal Ga 5,6), and make you joyful witnesses to the hope which never disappoints (cf. Rom Rm 5,5). Christ is risen! He is truly risen! Alleluia!
 “But we are to be stranded on some island” (Ac 27,26).
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1950th ANNIVERSARY Grand Harbour of Valletta
Third Sunday of Easter, 18 April 2010
Zghazagh Maltin u Ghawdxin, jien kuntent hafna li ninsab maghkom,
What a joy it is for me to be with you today on your native soil! On this significant anniversary, we thank God for sending the Apostle Paul to these islands, which were thus among the first to receive the Good News of Our Lord Jesus Christ.
I warmly greet Archbishop Cremona, as well as Bishop Grech whom I thank for his kind words, and all the bishops, priests and religious who are here. Most especially, I greet you, young people of Malta and Gozo, and I thank you for speaking to me of the matters that concern you most deeply. I appreciate your desire to seek and find the truth, and to know what you must do to attain the fullness of life.
Saint Paul, as a young man, had an experience that changed him for ever. As you know, he was once an enemy of the Church, and did all he could to destroy it. While he was travelling to Damascus, intending to hunt down any Christians he could find there, the Lord appeared to him in a vision. A blinding light shone around him and he heard a voice saying, “Why do you persecute me? … I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting” (Ac 9,4-5). Paul was completely overcome by this encounter with the Lord, and his whole life was transformed. He became a disciple, and went on to be a great apostle and missionary. Here in Malta, you have particular reason to give thanks for Paul’s missionary labours, which spread the Gospel throughout the Mediterranean.
Every personal encounter with Jesus is an overwhelming experience of love. Previously, as Paul himself admits, he had “persecuted the church of God violently and tried to destroy it” (Ga 1,13). But the hatred and anger expressed in those words was completely swept away by the power of Christ’s love. For the rest of his life, Paul had a burning desire to carry the news of that love to the ends of the earth.
Maybe some of you will say to me, Saint Paul is often severe in his writings. How can I say that he was spreading a message of love? My answer is this. God loves every one of us with a depth and intensity that we can hardly begin to imagine. And he knows us intimately, he knows all our strengths and all our faults. Because he loves us so much, he wants to purify us of our faults and build up our virtues so that we can have life in abundance. When he challenges us because something in our lives is displeasing to him, he is not rejecting us, but he is asking us to change and become more perfect. That is what he asked of Saint Paul on the road to Damascus. God rejects no one. And the Church rejects no one. Yet in his great love, God challenges all of us to change and to become more perfect.
Saint John tells us that perfect love casts out fear (cf. 1Jn 4,18). And so I say to all of you, “Do not be afraid!” How many times we hear those words in the Scriptures! They are addressed by the angel to Mary at the Annunciation, by Jesus to Peter when calling him to be a disciple, and by the angel to Paul on the eve of his shipwreck. To all of you who wish to follow Christ, as married couples, as parents, as priests, as religious, as lay faithful bringing the message of the Gospel to the world, I say, do not be afraid! You may well encounter opposition to the Gospel message. Today’s culture, like every culture, promotes ideas and values that are sometimes at variance with those lived and preached by our Lord Jesus Christ. Often they are presented with great persuasive power, reinforced by the media and by social pressure from groups hostile to the Christian faith. It is easy, when we are young and impressionable, to be swayed by our peers to accept ideas and values that we know are not what the Lord truly wants for us. That is why I say to you: do not be afraid, but rejoice in his love for you; trust him, answer his call to discipleship, and find nourishment and spiritual healing in the sacraments of the Church.
Here in Malta, you live in a society that is steeped in Christian faith and values. You should be proud that your country both defends the unborn and promotes stable family life by saying no to abortion and divorce. I urge you to maintain this courageous witness to the sanctity of life and the centrality of marriage and family life for a healthy society. In Malta and Gozo, families know how to value and care for their elderly and infirm members, and they welcome children as gifts from God. Other nations can learn from your Christian example. In the context of European society, Gospel values are once again becoming counter-cultural, just as they were at the time of Saint Paul.
In this Year for Priests, I ask you to be open to the possibility that the Lord may be calling some of you to give yourselves totally to the service of his people in the priesthood or the consecrated life. Your country has given many fine priests and religious to the Church. Be inspired by their example, and recognize the profound joy that comes from dedicating one’s life to spreading the message of God’s love for all people, without exception.
I have spoken already of the need to care for the very young, and for the elderly and infirm. Yet a Christian is called to bring the healing message of the Gospel to everyone. God loves every single person in this world, indeed he loves everyone who has ever lived throughout the history of the world. In the death and Resurrection of Jesus, which is made present whenever we celebrate the Mass, he offers life in abundance to all those people. As Christians we are called to manifest God’s all-inclusive love. So we should seek out the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalized; we should have a special care for those who are in distress, those suffering from depression or anxiety; we should care for the disabled, and do all we can to promote their dignity and quality of life; we should be attentive to the needs of immigrants and asylum seekers in our midst; we should extend the hand of friendship to members of all faiths and none. That is the noble vocation of love and service that we have all received. Let it inspire you to dedicate your lives to following Christ. La tibzghux tkunu hbieb intimi ta’ Kristu.
Dear young people, as I take my leave of you, I want you to know that I am close to you and I remember you and your families and friends in my prayers.
Dear young people of Malta and Gozo, I am very happy to be with you.
Do not be afraid to be intimate friends of Christ.
ON THE OCCASION OF THE 1950th ANNIVERSARY International Airport of Malta - Luqa
Third Sunday of Easter, 18 April 2010
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The time has come for me to bid farewell to Malta. I thank God for the opportunity to meet so many of you and to visit this beautiful island. I thank the President for his gracious words and I thank all of you who have given me such a warm and generous welcome. My journey has given me a deeper appreciation of how the Gospel preached by Saint Paul has shaped the spiritual identity of the Maltese people. As I leave you, let me encourage you once more to cultivate a deep awareness of your identity and to embrace the responsibilities that flow from it, especially by promoting the Gospel values that will grant you a clear vision of human dignity and the common origin and destiny of mankind.
Be an example, at home and abroad, of dynamic Christian living. Be proud of your Christian vocation. Cherish your religious and cultural heritage. Look to the future with hope, with profound respect for God’s creation, with reverence for human life, and with high esteem for marriage and the integrity of the family! Kunu wlied denji ta’ San Pawl!
On account of its geographical position in the heart of the Mediterranean, many immigrants arrive on Malta’s shores, some fleeing from situations of violence and persecution, others in search of better conditions of life. I am aware of the difficulties that welcoming a large number of people may cause, difficulties which cannot be solved by any country of first arrival on its own. At the same time, I am also confident that, on the strength of its Christian roots and its long and proud history of welcoming strangers, Malta will endeavour, with the support of other States and international organizations, to come to the aid of those who arrive here and to ensure that their rights be respected.
These noble goals depend on an unwavering dedication to the challenging task of dialogue and cooperation within the international and European communities, key forums in which Malta bears witness to the Christian values that have helped to shape her identity. Unity, solidarity and mutual respect stand at the basis of your social and political life. Inspired by your Catholic faith, they are the compass that will guide you in the search for authentic and integral development. The treasure of the Church’s social teaching will inspire and guide these efforts. Never allow your true identity to be compromised by indifferentism or relativism. May you always remain faithful to the teaching of Saint Paul, who exhorts you to “be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love” (1Co 16,13-14). Grazzi hafna, il-Bambin iberikkom!
 Be worthy sons and daughters of Saint Paul!
 Many thanks and may God bless you!
I am pleased to welcome you, Your Excellency, for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to the Holy See. I am grateful to you for the cordial words, you have addressed to me also on behalf of the authorities and of the noble nation that you represent. Please convey to them the expression of my esteem and good wishes, together with the assurance of my prayers for concord and for the harmonious development of the whole country.
In receiving you my thoughts turn to the annual meeting of the Successor of Peter with an authoritative official Delegation of your country that takes place on the occasion of the Feast of Sts Cyril and Methodius, the venerated spiritual guides of the Slav peoples and Co-Patrons of Europe. This event, which has become a pleasant custom, testifies to the good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. They are bilateral relations which have developed well, especially in recent years, and are marked by cordial cooperation. In this regard, I wish to express my pleasure at the mutual commitment to the recent construction of new buildings for Catholic worship in various localities of the country.
As you emphasized, the signs of human and Christian values, embodied in people's lives, are clearly visible in the Macedonian People and constitute the appreciated spiritual and cultural patrimony of the nation. Further evidence of this are the wonderful religious buildings, constructed in different epochs and places but especially in the city of Ohrid. The Holy See regards this precious heritage with high esteem and consideration, encouraging insofar as it is her competence the study of its history and documentation, for a greater knowledge of its religious and cultural past. Drawing on this patrimony, in the future too the citizens of your country will continue to build their own history. Strong in their spiritual identity, they will be able to contribute their experience to the consortium of European peoples. For this reason I am anxious that the aspirations and increasing efforts of this country to become part of a united Europe, may meet with success, in a condition of acceptance of the respective rights and duties with reciprocal respect for collective structures and the traditional values of the individual peoples.
Mr Ambassador, in addressing the Macedonian People's commitment to encourage increasingly dialogue and coexistence among the ethnic and religious groups that make up the country, I identified in that universal aspiration to justice and internal consistence which has always motivated it and which can become an example to others in the Balkan region. In fact, the bridges of the exchange of a broader understanding and close religious relations among the various members of Macedonian society have favoured the creation of an atmosphere in which people recognize each other as brothers and sisters, children of the same God and citizens of one country. In the first place it is certainly the task of those in charge of the institutions to identify ways in which to express in political initiatives the aspirations of men and women to dialogue and to peace. Believers, however, know that peace is not only the result of planning and human endeavour but is first and formost a gift of God to people of good will. Moreover, justice and forgiveness are the pillars that support this peace. Justice assures full respect for rights and duties, and forgiveness heals and rebuilds from their foundations relations between people who are still suffering the consequences of the ideological clashes of the recent past.
Having surmounted the tragic period of the last World War, after the sorrowful experience of a totalitarianism that denied the fundamental rights of the human person, the Macedonian People have set out towards a harmonious progress, giving proof of patience, a readiness to sacrifice and persevering optimism, tenaciously striving to create a better future for all the country's inhabitants. A stable social and economic development cannot but take into account peoples' cultural, social and spiritual needs, as it must also make the most of the noblest of the popular traditions and resources. This must be done in the awareness that the growing phenomenon of globalization, which on the one hand brings with it a certain levelling out of social and economic differences, on the other, might aggravate the imbalance between those who increasingly benefit from the ever greater possibilities of producing riches and those on the contrary who are left on the margins of the progress.
Mr Ambassador, your country boasts a long and luminous Christian tradition which dates back to apostolic times. I hope that in a global context of moral relativism and the scant interest in religious experience with which part of European society often acts, the citizens of the noble people you represent will be able to carry out a wise discernment, opening themselves to the new horizons of authentic civilization and true humanism. To do this, it is necessary to keep alive and sound, at the personal and community level, those principles that are also at the root of this People's civilization: attachment to the family, the defence of human life and the promotion of religious requirements, especially those of young people. Even though the Catholic Church in your nation is a minority, she wishes to make her sincere contribution to building a more just and supportive society, based on the Christian values that have inspired the consciences of its inhabitants. I am certain that the Catholic community, in the awareness that charity in the truth "is the principle driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity" (Caritas in Veritate, ), will pursue her charitable mission which is so widely appreciated in your country, especially for the poor and the suffering.
Your Excellency, I am sure that you too, in fulfilling the lofty office entrusted to you, will contribute to intensifying the already good relations that exist between the Holy See and the Macedonian nation, and I assure you that to this end you will be able to rely on the full availability of all my collaborators in the Roman Curia. With these fervent good wishes, I invoke upon you, Mr Ambassador, upon your family, upon the leaders and upon all the inhabitants of the nation that you represent, an abundance of divine Blessings.
Speeches 2005-13 299