Speeches 2005-13 306



Mr Ambassador,

I am glad to welcome you on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Belgium to the Holy See. I thank you for your words. To reciprocate I should be grateful if you would kindly express to His Majesty Albert II, King of the Belgians, whom I was recently able to greet in person, my cordial wishes for himself and for the happiness and success of the Belgian people. Through you, I likewise greet the Government and all the authorities of the Kingdom.

At the beginning of the year your country experienced two grievous tragedies, in Liège and in Buizingen. I would like to renew to the bereaved families and to the victims the assurance of my spiritual closeness. These catastrophes bring home to us the frailty of human existence and the need, to protect it, for an authentic social coherence which does not weaken the legitimate diversity of opinions. It rests on the conviction that human life and dignity are a precious good that it is necessary to defend and promote with determination, relying on natural law. For a long time the Church has been fully part of the history and social fabric of your nation. She desires to continue to be a factor of harmonious coexistence among all. For this reason, she makes a very active contribution, especially through her numerous educational institutions, her social works and the charitable commitment of very many of her faithful. The Church is therefore glad to place herself at the service of all the members of Belgian society.

Nonetheless, it would seem useful to stress that as an institution, she possesses a right to express herself publicly. She shares this right with all individuals and all institutions, in order to contribute her advice on questions of common interest. The Church respects the freedom of all to think differently from her; she would also like her right of expression to be respected. The Church is a depository of a teaching, of a religious message which she has received from Jesus Christ. It can be summed up in these words of Holy Scripture: "God is love" (1Jn 4,16), and shines his light on the meaning of the human being's personal, family and social life. Since the common good is the Church's objective, she claims nothing more than the freedom to present this message, without imposing it on anyone and with respect for freedom of conscience.

It was by imbibing this ecclesial teaching in a radical way that Joseph de Veuster became the person we now call "St Damien". This man's exceptional destiny demonstrates the point to which the Gospel inspires an ethics that is friendly to the person, especially if he or she is in need or rejected.
For the Belgian people the canonization of this priest and the fame he enjoys universally is a legitimate cause for pride. This engaging figure is not the product of a solitary journey. It is good to remember the religious roots that nourished his education and his formation, as well as the teachers who awoke within him this admirable generosity. It was to lead him to share the marginalized life of the lepers, even to the point of exposing himself to the disease from which they suffered. In the light of this testimony, it is possible to all for understand that the Gospel is a force which there is no reason to fear. I am convinced that the Christian soil of your land is still rich, in spite of the social developments. It can generously nourish the commitment of a growing number of volunteers who, inspired by the Gospel principles of brotherhood and solidarity, accompany people who are experiencing difficulties and for this reason need help.

Your country, which already hosts the Community institutions, saw its European vocation once again reaffirmed in the choice of one of your compatriots as the first President of the European Council. As can be seen, these successive decisions are not only linked to the geographical location of your country and its multilingualism. A member of the original nucleus of founder countries, your nation had to engage in, and distinguish itself in, the search for a consensus in very complex situations. This quality should be encouraged at a time when the internal challenges of the country must be faced, for the good of all. I wish to emphasize today that if it is to bear fruit in the long term, the art of consensus must not be reduced to a purely dialectic skill; rather it must seek the true and the good. For "without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation, especially in a globalized society at difficult times like the present" (Caritas in Veritate, ).

I would like to take this opportunity to offer a warm greeting to the Bishops of Belgium, whom I shall shortly have the pleasure of welcoming during their visit ad limina Apostolorum. My thoughts turn in particular to Archbishop Léonard who, with enthusiasm and generosity has recently begun his new mission as Archbishop of Malines-Brussels. I would also like to greet the priests of your country and the deacons, as well as all the faithful who form the Belgian Catholic community. I ask them to witness to their faith boldly. In their engagements in the city may they fully bring to bear their right to propose values that respect human nature and correspond to the deepest and most authentic spiritual aspirations of the person.

At the time when you are officially inaugurating your duties at the Holy See, I offer you my best wishes for the success of your mission. You may rest assured, Mr Ambassador, that you will always find with my collaborators cordial attention and understanding. As I invoke the intercession of the Virgin Mary and of St Damien, I pray the Lord to pour out an abundance of Blessings upon you, upon your family and upon your collaborators, as well as on the Belgian people and its leaders.



Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

I am glad of this occasion to meet you and to conclude your Congress that has a particularly evocative title: "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age". I thank Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, President of the Italian Episcopal Conference, for his cordial words of welcome with which, once again, he has wished to express the affection and closeness to my apostolic service of the Church in Italy. Your words, Your Eminence, mirror the faithful adherence to Peter of all the Catholics of this beloved nation and the esteem of so many men and women motivated by the desire to seek the truth.

The present time is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, bringing about an unheard of convergence among the different media and making interactivity possible. The internet is therefore revealing a vocation that is open, basically egalitarian and pluralist but at the same time it is creating a new boundary: indeed, people are talking about the digital divide.
This divide separates the included from the excluded and adds to the other discrepancies that are already distancing nations from one another and dividing them from within. The dangers of standardization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already clearly recognizable in the erosion of the critical spirit, the subordination of truth to the play of opinions, the multiple forms of degradation and humiliation of the person's intimacy. We are therefore witnessing a "pollution of the spirit; it makes us smile less, makes our faces gloomier, less likely to greet each other or look each other in the eye" (Address for the Immaculate Conception, Piazza di Spagna, 8 December 2009). This Congress, on the other hand aims precisely to focus on faces, hence to surmount those collective dynamics that can cause us to lose our perception of the depths of the person by stopping at appearances. When this happens, people are left as bodies without a soul, objects of exchange and consumption.

How is it possible to focus anew on the face? I have also tried to point out the way in my third Encyclical. It passes through that caritas in veritate, which shines out in Christ's Face. Love of truth is "a great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized" (n. 9). The media can become factors of humanization, "not only when, thanks to their technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values" (n. 73). This requires that they "focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity" (ibid.). Only on these conditions can the epochal change we are passing through be fruitful and rich in new opportunities. Let us set sail on the digital sea fearlessly, confronting open navigation with the same enthusiasm that has steered the Barque of the Church for 2,000 years. Rather than for technical resources, although these are necessary, let us also qualify ourselves by dwelling in this world with a believing heart that helps to give a soul to the ceaseless flow of communications that makes up the web.

This is our mission, the inalienable mission of the Church. Every believer who works in the media has a "special responsibility for opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interacti0n and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence" (Message for the 44th World Day of Social Communications, 16 May 2010). Dear friends, you are also called to post yourselves on the web as "leaders of communities", attentive to "preparing ways that lead to the word of God" and showing special sensitivity to "the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute" (ibid.). The web can thus become a sort of "Court of the Gentiles", "offering a space... for those who have not yet come to know God" (ibid.).

As leaders of the world of culture and communications, you are a vital sign that "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level" (ibid.). In Italy, voices in this field are not lacking. It suffices here to recall the daily Avvenire, the television broadcasting station TV2000, the radiophonic circuit inBlu, and the press agency SIR, alongside the Catholic periodicals, the diocesan weeklies and the now numerous websites of Catholic inspiration.
I urge all professionals in communications never to tire of nourishing in their hearts that healthy passion for man which seeks to draw ever closer to his many languages and to his true face.
A sound theological training will help you in this and, especially, a profound and joyful passion for God, fostered by continuous exchanges with the Lord. The particular Churches and religious institutes, for their part, should not hesitate to make the most of the formation courses offered by the Pontifical universities, by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and by the other Catholic and ecclesiastical universities, earmarking for them, with foresight, people and resources. The world of the media is fully part of pastoral planning.

As I thank you for the service you offer to the Church and thus to the human cause, I urge you, enlivened by the courage of the Holy Spirit, to set out on the highways of the digital continent. Our trust is not a-critically placed in any one technical instrument. Our efforts consist in being Church, a believing community that can witness to all to the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that flourishes in fullness to the extent that it is open, enters into relationships and is freely given.

I entrust you to the protection of Mary Most Holy and of the great Saints of communications and I cordially bless you all.




Wednesday, 28 April 2010
Dear Cardinals,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Members and Consultors of the Vox Clara Committee,

I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world. I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm Ps 140,2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.



Mr Ambassador,

It is a pleasure to receive you on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Democratic Republic of Congo to the Holy See. I thank you for your kind words conveying to me the respectful tribute of the President of the Republic, H.E. Mr Joseph Kabila Kabange, and of the Congolese people. I had the pleasure of meeting your President in June 2008. I should be grateful if you would kindly convey to him my best wishes for himself and for the accomplishment of his task at the service of the nation. May God guide him in his effort to achieve peace, the guarantee of dignified life and integral development. I also cordially greet the various Authorities and all the inhabitants of your country.

Your presence, Mr Ambassador, at the head of your Embassy, after long years of vacancy, shows the desire of your Head of State and of the Government to strengthen relations with the Holy See and I thank them for it. I likewise point out that this decision has been made in the year of the 50th anniversary of your country's Independence. May this Jubilee enable the nation to make a new start.

In these same years your country has gone through some particularly difficult and tragic moments. A large section of it has been the victims of blind and merciless violence, that has sown ruin and death and crushed these people under its brutal and onerous yoke. I am thinking in particular of the women, young people and children, whose dignity has been outrageously trampled upon by the violation of their rights. I would like to express my concern to them and assure them of my prayers. Many of the members and structures of the Catholic Church herself have been injured and she wishes to foster inner healing and brotherhood. The Bishops' Conference spoke at length on this subject in its Message last June. Thus it would now be right to use all political and human means to put an end to the suffering. It would likewise be right to make amends and to do them justice, accepting the invitation of the words "justice and peace" in the national coat of arms. The commitment made in Goma in 2008 and in particular the application of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region are of course necessary but it is even more urgent to work out the preliminary conditions for their implementation. It can only be implemented little by little by repairing the social fabric so seriously damaged by promoting the first natural society, which is the family, and by consolidating interpersonal relations between the Congolese that are based on an integral education, a source of peace and justice. The Catholic Church, Mr Ambassador, wishes to continue to make her contribution to this noble task through the complex of structures she has available, thanks to her tradition of providing spiritual, educational, and health care.

I ask the public Authorities to leave no stone unturned to put an end to the situation of war which, alas, still exists in some of the country's provinces, and to devote themselves to the human and social rebuilding of the nation with respect for the fundamental human rights. Peace is not only the absence of fighting, it is also a gift and an obligatory task for both the citizens and the State. The Church is convinced that she can only fulfil herself in "respect for the "grammar' written on human hearts by the divine Creator", in other words in a human response in harmony with the divine plan. This " "grammar', that is to say, the body of rules for individual action and the reciprocal relations of persons in accordance with justice and solidarity, is inscribed on, human consciences, in which the wise plan of God is reflected" (cf. Message for the World Day of Peace, 2007; ORE 20 December 2006, p. 6). I appeal to the international community, involved in various degrees in the successive conflicts that your nation has known, to mobilize itself in order to contribute effectively to restoring peace and legality to the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

After so many years of suffering, Your Excellency, your country needs to set out with determination on the path to national reconciliation. Your Bishops have declared this anniversary year for the nation a year of grace, renewal and joy, a year of reconciliation in order to build a Congo that is solidary, prosperous and united. One of the best ways for succeeding in this is to promote education for the young generations. The spirit of reconciliation and peace, born in the family, is strengthened and extended at school and at university. The Congolese desire a good education for their children but the direct responsibility of paying the fees is heavy and even onerous for many of them. I am sure that a just solution can be found. By helping parents financially and by assuring the regular payment of teachers, the State will make a beneficial investment to all. It is essential that children and young people be educated with patience and tenacity, especially those deprived of instruction and trained to kill. It is not only appropriate to inculcate in them a knowledge that will help them in their future adult and professional life. They must also be given a solid moral and spiritual foundation that will help them reject the temptation to be violent and resentful and to choose what is just and true. Through these educational structures and in accordance with her possibilities, the Church can help and complete those of the State.

The important natural resources with which God has endowed your land and which have unfortunately become the source of covetousness and disproportionate profit for many, both within your country and outside it by means of an equitable sharing of profits can certainly help the population emerge from poverty and provide for its food and health-care security. Congolese families and the education of youth will be the first to benefit. This duty of justice promoted by the State will consolidate reconciliation and national peace and will enable the population to experience a serene life, an essential foundation of prosperity.

Through you, I also wish to address warm good wishes to the members of the Catholic community in your country, particularly the Bishops, asking them to be generous witnesses of God's love and to contribute to the edification of a united and brotherly nation where each one feels fully loved and respected.

At the time when your mission is beginning, Mr Ambassador, I offer you my best wishes for the noble task that awaits you, and I assure you that you will always find an attentive welcome and cordial understanding in my collaborators.

I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings upon you, Your Excellency, upon your family, upon all the Congolese people and upon its Leaders.


Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to welcome you, the Bishops of Liberia, The Gambia and Sierra Leone on your Ad Limina visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I am grateful for the sentiments of communion and affection expressed by Bishop Koroma on your behalf, and I ask you to convey my warm greetings and encouragement to your beloved people as they strive to lead a life worthy of their calling (cf. Ep 4,1).

The Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops was a rich experience of communion and a providential occasion for renewing your own episcopal ministry and reflecting on its essential task, namely, “to help the People of God to give to the word of revelation the obedience of faith and to embrace fully the teachings of Christ” (Pastores Gregis ). I am pleased to see from your Quinquennial Reports that, while dedicated to the administration of your Dioceses, you personally strive to preach the Gospel at confirmations, in your visits to parishes, when meeting with groups of priests, religious or lay people and in your pastoral letters. Through your teaching the Lord preserves your people from evil, ignorance and superstition, and transforms them into children of his Kingdom. Strive to build vibrant and expansive communities of men and women strong in their faith, contemplative and joyful in the liturgy, and well instructed on “how to live in the way that pleases God” (1Th 4,1). In an environment marked by divorce and polygamy, promote the unity and well-being of the Christian family built on the sacrament of marriage. Initiatives and associations dedicated to the sanctification of this basic community deserve your full support. Continue to uphold the dignity of women in the context of human rights and defend your people against attempts to introduce an anti-birth mentality disguised as a form of cultural progress (cf. Caritas in Veritate ). Your mission also requires that you give attention to the adequate discernment and preparation of vocations and to the ongoing formation of priests, who are your closest collaborators in the task of evangelization. Continue to lead them by word and example to be men of prayer, sound and clear in their teaching, mature and respectful in their dealings with others, faithful to their spiritual commitments and strong in compassion towards all in need. Likewise do not hesitate to invite missionaries from other countries to assist the good work being done by your clergy, religious and catechists.

In your countries the Church is held in high regard for her contribution to the good of society especially in education, development and health care, offered to all without distinction. This tribute speaks well of the vitality of your Christian charity, that divine legacy given to the Universal Church by her founder (cf. Caritas in Veritate ). I appreciate in a special way the assistance you offer to refugees and immigrants and I urge you to seek, when possible, pastoral cooperation from their countries of origin. The struggle against poverty must be carried out with respect for the dignity of all concerned by encouraging them to be the protagonists of their own integral development. Much good can be done through small-scale community engagements and microeconomic initiatives at the service of families. In developing and sustaining such strategies, improved education will always be a decisive factor. Hence I encourage you to continue providing school programmes that prepare and motivate new generations to become responsible citizens, socially active for the good of their community and their country. You rightly encourage people in positions of authority to lead in the struggle against corruption by calling attention to the gravity and injustice of such sins. In this regard, the spiritual and moral formation of lay men and women for leadership, through specialized courses in Catholic Social Doctrine, is an important contribution to the common good.

I commend you for your attention to the great gift which is peace. I pray that the process of reconciliation in justice and truth, which you have rightly supported in the region, may produce lasting respect for all God-given human rights and defuse tendencies to retaliation and vengeance. In your service to peace continue to promote dialogue with other religions, especially with Islam, so as to sustain the existing good relations and forestall any form of intolerance, injustice or oppression, detrimental to the promotion of mutual trust. Working together in the defence of life and in the struggle against disease and malnutrition will not fail to build understanding, respect and acceptance. Above all, a climate of dialogue and communion must characterize the local Church. By your own example, lead your priests, religious and lay faithful to grow in understanding and cooperation, in listening to one another and in sharing initiatives. The Church as the sign and instrument of the one Family of God must bear clear witness to the love of Jesus our Lord and Saviour that extends beyond ethnic frontiers and embraces all men and women.

Dear Brother Bishops, I know that you find inspiration and encouragement in the words of the Risen Christ to his Apostles: “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I send you” (Jn 20,21). On your return home to continue your mission as successors of the Apostles, please convey my affectionate and prayerful good wishes to your priests, religious, catechists and all your beloved people. To each of you, and to those entrusted to your pastoral care, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.




Paul VI Audience Hall Thursday, 29 April 2010

Mr President of the Republic,
Your Eminences,
Honourable Ministers and Authorities,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Once again Hon. Mr Giorgio Napolitano, President of the Italian Republic, with a gesture of exquisite courtesy has wished to offer to all of us the possibility of listening to excellent music on the occasion of the anniversary of the beginning of my Pontificate. In greeting you respectfully, Mr President, together with your charming wife, I wish to express my warm gratitude to you for the truly appreciated tribute of this concert and for your courteous words to me. In this caring act I also see a further sign of the Italian People's love for the Pope, an affection that was so fervent in St Catherine of Siena, Patroness of Italy, whose Feast we are celebrating today. I am glad to greet the other Authorities of the Italian State, the ambassadors, the various important figures and all of you who have taken part in this lofty cultural and musical event.

I would like to thank all those who have generously cooperated in the realization of this event and in particular the Directors of the Fondazione Scuola di Musica di Fiesole [Fiesole Music School Foundation], of which the Italian Youth Orchestra, competently conducted by Maestro Nicola Paszkowski, forms an important part. Certain of interpreting the sentiments of everyone present, I express my sincere appreciation to the members of the orchestra who have played skilfully and effectively the demanding passages by the Milanese composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and by Ludwig van Beethoven.

This evening we have had the joy of listening to young concert performers, students of the Fiesole Music School founded by Piero Farulli. In the course of time this School has become an excellent national centre for orchestral training, offering many children, adolescents, young people and adults high quality courses aimed at training musicians for the best Italian and European orchestras. The study of music is of great value in the process of a person's education since it has a positive influence on the development of the individual, encouraging a harmonious human and spiritual growth. We know that the formative value of music, with its implications at the expressive, creative, relational, social and cultural levels, is commonly recognized.

Therefore, the more than 30-year-old experience of the Fiesole Music School is of special relevance since daily reality tells us that educating is far from easy. In today's social context, in fact, every educational undertaking seems to become ever more arduous and problematic: parents and teachers often talk of the difficulties they encounter in passing on to the new generations the basic values of existence and of good behaviour. This problematic situation involves both the school and the family, as well as the various bodies working in the area of formation.

The current social conditions demand an extraordinary educational commitment on behalf of the new generations. Young people, even if they live in different contexts, have in common the sensitivity to the great ideals of life but encounter many difficulties in living them out. We cannot ignore their needs and expectations, nor even the obstacles and threats that they encounter. They feel the need to draw close to authentic values such as the centrality of the person, human dignity, peace and justice, tolerance and solidarity. In search of balance and harmony, they also seek spirituality and transcendence, at times in ways that are confused and contradictory. In this regard, I am pleased to note that music is capable of opening minds and hearts to the dimension of the spirit and leads people to lift their gaze to the Most High, to open themselves to the absolute Good and Beauty whose ultimate source is in God. Joyful singing and music is likewise a constant invitation to believers and to all people of good will to work hard to give humanity a future rich in hope. Furthermore, the experience of playing in an orchestra also implies the collective dimension: patience during the constant rehearsals; the discipline of listening to the other musicians; the commitment to not playing "a solo part" but rather making sure that the different "orchestral colours" while retaining their own characteristics blend together; the common search for the best possible expression, all this constitutes a formidable "training ground", not only artistic and professional but also from the overall human viewpoint.

Dear friends, I hope that the greatness and beauty of the musical passages masterfully performed this evening will give to all a new and continuous inspiration to strive for ever loftier goals in their personal and social life. I renew to the President of the Italian Republic, to the organizers and to everyone present the expression of my sincere gratitude for this appreciated tribute!

Remember me in your prayers so that as I begin the sixth year of my Pontificate I may always exercise my Ministry as the Lord wishes. May he who is our strength and our peace, bless you all and your families.

Speeches 2005-13 306