Speeches 2005-13 348
Basilica of Saint John Lateran Tuesday, 15 June 2010
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Psalm says: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity"! (Ps 133: 1). It is just like that and it gives me deep joy to meet you and to be informed of all the good that the parishes and other ecclesial realities of Rome have done in this pastoral year. I greet the Cardinal Vicar with brotherly affection and thank him for his courteous words and for his daily dedication to the governance of the Diocese and his support of the priests and parish communities. I greet the Auxiliary Bishops, the entire Presbyterate and each one of you. I address a cordial thought to all who are sick and in particular difficulty, while I assure them of my prayers.
As Cardinal Vallini recalled, since last year we have been engaged in reviewing our ordinary pastoral work. This evening we are reflecting on two points of primary importance: "The Sunday Eucharist and the witness of charity". I am acquainted with the important work that the parishes, associations and movements have done through meetings of formation and exchanges, to study more deeply and to live better these two fundamental elements of the life and mission of the Church and of every individual believer. This has encouraged that pastoral co-responsibility which in the diversity of ministries and charisms must become ever more widespread if we really want the Gospel to reach the heart of every inhabitant of Rome. A great deal has been done, and we thank the Lord; but, again with his help, much still remains to be done.
Faith can never be taken for granted, because every generation needs to receive this gift through the proclamation of the Gospel and to know the truth that Christ revealed to us. The Church, therefore, is always engaged in presenting to all the deposit of the faith; this also contains the doctrine on the Eucharist a central mystery in which "is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch" (Second Vatican Council, Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 5); a doctrine whose profound value and importance for the life of believers is unfortunately not sufficiently understood. For this reason it is important that a deeper knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord be perceived as a need of the different communities of our Diocese of Rome. At the same time, in the missionary spirit that we wish to encourage, it is necessary to spread the commitment to proclaim this faith in the Eucharist so that every person may encounter Jesus Christ who revealed to us the "close" God, the friend of humanity. It is also necessary to witness to it with an eloquent life of charity.
Throughout his public life, Jesus proclaimed the Father's goodness and mercy for mankind by preaching the Gospel and working miraculous signs. This mission culminated on Golgotha, where the Crucified Christ revealed the Face of God so that in contemplating the Cross man might recognize the fullness of love (cf. Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est ). The sacrifice of Calvary is mysteriously anticipated at the Last Supper when Jesus, in sharing the bread and the wine with the Twelve, transforms them into his Body and his Blood, that he was shortly to offer as the immolated Lamb. The Eucharist is the memorial of the death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of his love for each one of us to the very end, a memorial that he wished to entrust to the Church so that it might be celebrated down the centuries. According to the meaning of the Hebrew verb zakar, the "memorial" is not a mere commemoration of something that happened in the past but the celebration that actualizes the event in such a way as to reproduce its power and saving efficacy. Thus, "it makes present and actual the sacrifice which Christ offered to the Father on the Cross, once and for all on behalf of mankind" (Compendium of the Catholic Church, n. 280). Dear brothers and sisters, in our time the word "sacrifice" is not popular; indeed it seems to belong to other epochs and another way of understanding life. Nevertheless, properly understood, it has remained fundamental, because it reveals to us the love with which God, in Christ, loves us.
In Jesus' offering of himself we find the full newness of Christian worship. In antiquity, people offered the divinities animal sacrifices or the first fruits of the earth. Jesus instead offers himself, his Body and his whole life: he in person becomes that sacrifice which the Liturgy offers in Holy Mass. In fact, with consecration, the bread and the wine become his true Body and Blood. St Augustine asked his faithful not to stop at what appeared to their eyes but to go further: "Recognize in the bread", he said, "that same Body which hung on the Cross, and in the cup, the same Blood which flowed from his side" (Discourse 228 B, 2). To explain this transformation theology coined the term "transubstantiation", a word that resounded in this Basilica for the first time during the Fourth Lateran Council whose eighth centenary will be celebrated in five years time. On that occasion the following words will be incorporated into the profession of faith: "His Body and his Blood are truly contained in the Sacrament of the Altar, under the species of the bread and the wine, for the bread is transubstantiated into his Body, and the wine into his Blood through divine power" (DS 802). It is consequently fundamental to stress in the syllabus for the education in the faith of children, adolescents and young people, as well as in "Centres for listening" to the Word of God, that Christ is truly, really and substantially present in the sacrament of the Eucharist.
Holy Mass, celebrated with respect for the liturgical norms and with appropriate appreciation of the riches of the signs and gestures, encourages and develops growth in Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something but rather enter into a reality that precedes us, indeed that embraces Heaven and earth and therefore also past, future and present. This universal openness, this encounter with all Gods' sons and daughters is the greatness of the Eucharist: let us go to meet the reality of God present among us in the Body and Blood of the Risen One. Therefore, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external appendices but express in practice this reality of the revelation of Christ's Body and Blood, and thus prayer reveals faith, according to the ancient principle lex orandi - lex credendi. And for this reason we can say that "the best Catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself, celebrated well" (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 64). The transcendent dimension must stand out clearly in the Liturgy, that of the Mystery, of the encounter with the Divine which also illuminates and raises the "horizontal" dimension, meaning the bond of communion and solidarity which exists between all the members of the Church. In fact, when the horizontal dimension prevails it is impossible to understand fully the beauty, depth and importance of the mystery celebrated. Dear brothers in the priesthood, on the day of your priestly Ordination the Bishop entrusted to you the task of presiding at the Eucharist. May you always have at heart the exercise of this mission: celebrate the divine mysteries with intense inner participation so that the men and women of our City may be sanctified and put in touch with God, the absolute truth and eternal love.
And let us also keep in mind that the Eucharist, linked to the Cross, to the Resurrection of the Lord, has dictated a new structure to our time. The Risen One showed himself the day after the Sabbath, the first day of the week, the day of the sun and of creation. From the outset Christians have celebrated their encounter with the Risen One, the Eucharist on this first day, in this new day of the true sun of history, the Risen Christ. And thus time always begins anew with the encounter with the Risen One and this encounter gives purpose and force to every day life. It is therefore very important for us Christians to follow this new pace of time, to encounter the Risen One on Sundays and thus to "take" with us his presence that transforms us and transforms our time. Furthermore, I ask everyone to rediscover the fruitfulness of Eucharistic adoration: before the Most Blessed Sacrament we experience in a quite special way that "abiding" in Jesus, which he himself, in John's Gospel, imposes as a prerequisite for bearing much fruit (cf. Jn 15,5). Thus we avoid the reduction of our apostolic action to sterile activism and instead ensure that it bears witness to God's love.
Communion with Christ is always also communion with his Body which is the Church, as the Apostle Paul recalls, saying: "The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the Body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1Co 10,16-17). Indeed, it is the Eucharist that transforms a simple group of people into an ecclesial community: the Eucharist builds the Church. It is therefore fundamental that the celebration of Holy Mass be effectively the culmination, the "backbone" of the life of every parish community. I urge everyone to do their best to take care, also through special liturgical groups, of the preparation and celebration of the Eucharist, so that all who take part in it may encounter the Lord. It is the Risen Christ who makes himself present in our today and gathers us around him. By nourishing ourselves with him we are set free from the bonds of individualism and, through communion with him, we ourselves become, together, only one thing, his mystical Body.
In this way are overcome the differences due to profession, class and nationality, for we discover that we are members of one large family, the family of God's children, in which each one is endowed with a particular grace for the benefit of all. The world and human beings do not need further social aggregation but rather are in need of the Church which in Christ "is in the nature of sacrament a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men" (Second Vatican Council, Constitution Lumen Gentium LG 1), called to make the light of the Risen Lord shine out upon all peoples.
Jesus came to reveal to us the love of the Father, because "man cannot live without love" (John Paul II, Encyclical Redemptor Hominis RH 10). Love is in fact the fundamental experience of every human being, what gives meaning to daily life. Nourished by the Eucharist, we too, after Christ's example, live for him, to be witnesses of love. In receiving the Sacrament, we enter into communion of blood with Jesus Christ. In the Jewish conception blood means life; thus we can say that by nourishing ourselves with the Body of Christ we accept God's life and learn to look at reality with his eyes, abandoning the logic of the world in order to follow the divine logic of the gift freely given. St Augustine recalls that during a vision it seemed to him that he heard the Lord's voice saying to him: "I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me" (cf. Confessioni VII, 10, 16). When we receive Christ, the love of God expands within us, radically changes our hearts and makes us capable of actions that because of the diffusive power of good, can transform the life of those beside us. Charity can generate an authentic and permanent change of society, acting in the hearts and minds of human beings and when it is lived in the truth, it "is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate ). For the disciple of Jesus the witness of charity is not a fleeting sentiment but on the contrary it is what shapes life in every circumstance. I encourage all, and in particular Caritas and Deacons, to devote themselves to the delicate and fundamental field of education in charity, as an ongoing dimension of personal and community life.
This City of ours asks Christ's disciples, with a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, for a clearer and more transparent witness of charity. It is with the language of love, desirous of the human being's integral good, that the Church speaks to the inhabitants of Rome. In these years of my ministry as your Bishop, I have been able to visit various places where charity is lived intensely. I am grateful to all who work in the different charitable structures for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and the marginalized. The needs and the poverty of so many men and women profoundly challenge us: it is Christ himself who every day, in the poor, asks us to satisfy his hunger and his thirst, to visit him in hospitals and prisons, to welcome and clothe him. The Eucharist celebrated obliges us, and at the same time enables us, to become in our turn, bread broken for our brothers and sisters, meeting their needs and giving ourselves. For this reason a Eucharistic celebration that does not lead to meeting people where they live, work and suffer, in order to bring them God's love, does not express the truth it contains. In order to be faithful to the mystery that is celebrated on the altars we must, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us, offer our bodies, ourselves, as a spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God (cf. Rom Rm 12,1) in those circumstances that ask us to make our "I" die and that constitute our daily "altar". The gestures of sharing create communion, renew the fabric of interpersonal relations, impressing them with free giving and with the gift, and permit the construction of a civilization of love. At a time like the present with a financial and social crisis, let us show solidarity to those who live in poverty in order to give all the hope of a better future worthy of the human being. If we really live as disciples of God-Love, we will help the inhabitants of Rome to discover that they are brothers and sisters and children of the one Father.
The very nature of love demands definitive and irrevocable choices of life. I address you in particular, dear young people: do not be afraid to choose love as the supreme rule of life. Do not be afraid to love Christ in the priesthood and, if in your heart you become aware of the Lord's call, follow him in this extraordinary adventure of love, abandoning yourselves to him with trust! Do not be afraid to form Christian families who live faithful and indissoluble love that is open to life! Bear witness that love, as Christ lived it and as the Church's Magisterium teaches, takes nothing from our happiness but on the contrary provides that profound joy that Christ promised his disciples.
May the Virgin Mary accompany with her motherly intercession the journey of our Church in Rome. May Mary, who, in a totally unique way, lived communion with God and the sacrifice of her own Son on Calvary, obtain that we may live ever more intensely, devoutly and wisely the mystery of the Eucharist, in order to proclaim with our words and our life the love that God feels for every human being. Dear friends, I assure you of my prayers and from my hear I impart to you all the Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
"To those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 2-3). With these words I welcome you all, beloved Pastors of the East ii Region who are making your ad limina visit, and I greet you with deep affection in the knowledge of the collegial ties that unite the Pope with the Bishops in the bond of unity, charity and peace. I thank Archbishop Walmor for his kind words expressing your sentiments of homage to the See of Peter and describing the challenges and problems that call for your commitment for the good of the flock that God has entrusted to you in the States of Espírito Santo and Minas Gerais.
I see that you love your dioceses profoundly and I too share deeply in your love, accompanying you with prayers and apostolic concern. Ours is a beautiful history whose beginning is tangible in the Bulls issued by the Holy Father for episcopal ordination and in that "Here I am" spoken by each Bishop at the beginning of the rite of his consecration and consequent entry into the College of Bishops. You become members of the College "through episcopal consecration and hierarchical communion with the head of the College and its members" (Preliminary Explanatory Note annexed to the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium LG 2), likewise becoming successors of the Apostles with the threefold role of teaching, sanctifying and governing the People of God.
As teachers and doctors of faith, your mission is to teach with daring the truth that must be believed and lived out, presenting it in an authentic manner. As I said to you at Aparecida, "The Church has the great task of guarding and nourishing the faith of the People of God, and reminding the faithful... that, by virtue of their Baptism, they are called to be disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ" (Address at the Opening Session of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Bishops' Conferences, 13 May 2007, n. 3). Help the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care, therefore, to discover the joy of faith, the joy of being personally loved by God who gave his Son for our salvation. As you know well, believing consists above all in abandoning oneself to this God who knows and loves us personally, accepting the Truth that he revealed in Jesus Christ with the attitude that leads us to have trust in him as one who reveals the Father. Dear Brothers, have great trust in grace and may you be able to imbue your people with this trust so that the faith may always be preserved, defended and passed on in its purity and integrity.
As stewards of the supreme priesthood, you must ensure that the Liturgy is truly an epiphany of the mystery, that is, an expression of the genuine nature of the Church which actively offers worship to God through Christ in the Holy Spirit. Of all the duties of your ministry, "that of celebrating the Eucharist is the most compelling and important", and you have the duty of "ensuring that the faithful have access to the Lord's table, especially on Sunday, which, as I just mentioned, is the day on which the Church, the community and family of the children of God, rediscovers her specific Christian identity around her own priests" (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis ). The task of sanctifying that you have received obliges you in addition to be promoters and animators of prayer in the human city, often chaotic, noisy and forgetful of God: you must create places and opportunities for prayer where in silence, in listening to God, in personal and community prayer, the person can encounter and have a living experience of Jesus Christ who reveals the authentic Face of the Father. Parishes and shrines, areas of education and suffering and families must become places of communion with the Lord.
Lastly, as guides of the Christian people, you must encourage the participation of all the faithful in building the Church, in governing with the heart of a humble servant and an affectionate Pastor, aspiring to the glory of God and the salvation of souls. By virtue of the task of governance the Bishop is also called to judge and discipline the life of the People of God entrusted to his pastoral care through laws, directives and suggestions, as the universal discipline of the Church prescribes. This right and duty is very important if the diocesan community is to remain inwardly united and to walk in sincere communion of faith, love and discipline with the Bishop of Rome and with the whole Church. Therefore do not tire of nourishing the faithful with the sense of belonging to the Church and the joy of fraternal communion.
However, the Bishop's governance will be pastorally effective only if "it rests on a moral authority bestowed by his life of holiness. This is what will dispose hearts to accept the Gospel that the Bishop proclaims in his Church, as well as the rules which he lays down for the good of the People of God" (ibid., n. 43). Consequently, moulded from within by the Holy Spirit, may each one of you become "all things to all men" (cf. 1Co 9,22), proposing the truth of the faith, celebrating the sacraments of our sanctification and witnessing to the Lord's charity. Accept with an open heart all who knock at your door: advise them, comfort them and support them on God's path, seeking to guide them all toward that unity of faith and love of which, by the Lord's will, you must be the principal and visible foundation in your dioceses (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium LG 23).
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, as I conclude our meeting I would like to renew to each one of you my sentiments of gratitude for the service you offer to the Church with keen dedication and love. Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, "a model of that motherly love with which all who join in the Church's apostolic mission for the regeneration of mankind should be animated" (ibid., n. 65), I invoke Christ, the Eternal High Priest, that he may grant to your ministry an abundance of gifts and heavenly consolations and I impart to you a special Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the priests and deacons, to the consecrated men and women, to the seminarians and lay faithful of your communities.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the first place, I would like to greet warmly all of you gathered here today for this important event. The majestic statue of Our Lady, knocked down some months ago by a violent wind, has returned to this hill to keep watch over our City. I greet first of all the Cardinal Vicar Agostino Vallini, and the other Bishops present. I address a special thought to Fr Flavio Peloso, re-elected as head of the Opera Don Orione, and I thank him for his kind words. I extend this greeting to the religious taking part in their 13th General Chapter, to those who work in this Institution at the service of the young and the suffering and to the whole spiritual Family of Don Orione. I address my respectful thought to Hon. Mr Gianni Alemanno, Mayor of Rome today is his name day. I would like to express to you in advance my appreciation of the Concert which the Campidoglio will be offering me on the evening of 29 June; this gesture testifies to the affection for the Pope of the entire City of Rome. I also greet the other Civil and Military Authorities. Lastly, I cannot but offer my heartfelt thanks to all who have contributed in various ways to restoring the statue of Our Lady to its original splendour.
I gladly accepted the invitation to join you in paying homage to Mary, "Salus populi romani", portrayed in this marvellous statue so dear to the Roman people. The statue is a memorial of dramatic and providential events, written in history and in the consciousness of the City. Indeed, it was set upon the hill of Monte Mario in 1953 to fulfil the vow that the people made during the Second World War when the hostilities and weapons gave rise to fear for Rome's fate. Then Don Orione's Roman institutions had the idea to collect signatures for a vow to Our Lady. More than a million citizens supported it. Venerable Pius XII welcomed the devout initiative of the people that entrusted itself to Mary and the vow was made on 4 June 1944, in front of the image of Our Lady of Divine Love. The peaceful liberation of Rome occurred that same day. How can I fail to renew with you today too, dear friends of Rome, that gesture of devotion to Mary: "Salus populi romani", by blessing this beautiful statue?
Don Orione's followers wanted a large statue and they had it set high up, overlooking the city, to pay homage to the outstanding holiness of the Mother of God who, humble on earth, "was exalted above the choirs of angels in celestial realms" as Pope Gregory VII said (Gregory VII, To Adelaide of Hungary) as well as to have a sign of her familiar presence in their daily lives. May Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, the lovable consoler of your souls, the sure guide of your will, the support of your footsteps, and a persuasive inspirer of the imitation of Jesus Christ, always come first in your thoughts and affections. In the act of looking down from on high upon the places of family, civil and religious life in Rome, may the "Madonnina" as the Romans like to call her protect families, inspire good resolutions and suggest to all the wish for Heaven. "Look down from Heaven, pray, then go ahead courageously and work. Hail Mary and on we go!", urged St Luigi Orione.
In their vow to Our Lady, as well as promising prayers and devotion, the Romans also committed themselves to works of charity. For their part, even before the statue was set up, Don Orione's followers were taking crippled children and orphans into this Centre on Monte Mario. St Luigi Orione's programme "Charity alone will save the world" was expressed in an important way here and, together with the Madonnina set upon the hill, became a sign of hope for Rome. Dear brothers and sisters, spiritual heirs of Luigi Orione, the Saint of Charity! The theme of the General Chapter that has just ended consists of this motto, dear to your Founder: "Charity alone will save the world". I bless the resolutions and decisions that have been made to relaunch that spiritual and apostolic dynamism which must always distinguish you.
Don Orione lived with clear sight and enthusiasm the Church's duty to live love in order to let God's light enter the world (cf. Deus Caritas Est ). He bequeathed this mission to his disciples as their spiritual and apostolic way, convinced that "charity opens eyes to faith and warms hearts with love for God". Continue, dear Sons of Divine Providence, on this charismatic path that he began because, as he said: "charity is the best apology for the Catholic faith", "charity attracts, charity moves people, leading to faith and hope" (Verbali, 26 November 1930, p. 95). Works of charity, both in the form of personal actions and as services to the weak that are offered in large institutions, can never be reduced to philanthropic gestures, but must always remain tangible expressions of God's providential love. To do this, Don Orione recalls, "It is necessary to be kneaded by the sweetest charity of Our Lord" (Writings 70, 231) through an authentic and holy life. Only in this way is it possible to pass from works of charity to charity in works, because, your Founder added, "works without God's charity that gives them value in his eyes, are worth nothing" (To the PSMC, 19 June 1920, p. 141).
Dear brothers and sisters, thank you once again for your invitation and for your welcome. May you be accompanied every day by the motherly protection of Mary; let us invoke her together for all who work at this Centre and for the whole population of Rome and, as I assure my remembrance in prayer to each and every one, I bless you all with affection.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,
I welcome you with joy at the summer session of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches and I cordially thank Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, for his greeting to me. I reciprocate and accompany my greeting to him with remembrance to the Lord, extending it to the Archbishop Secretary, to the Undersecretary and to the Collaborators of the Dicastery, with a cordial thought for the Papal Representative in Jerusalem, in Israel and in Palestine, for the Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus and for the Father Custos of the Holy Land, who are gathered here with the Representatives of the International Catholic Agencies and of Bethlehem University. I express to you all my gratitude and that of the whole Church and in particular of the Eastern and Latin-Rite Pastors and faithful of the territories entrusted to the Eastern Congregation and of all who are emigrants from their homeland.
We wish for everyone in the Holy Land, in Iraq and in the Middle East the gift of a lasting peace based on genuine friendly coexistence. They are born from respect for the rights of individuals, families, communities and peoples, and, by overcoming all religious, cultural and social discrimination. I entrust to God, but likewise to you, the appeal for the Christian East that I launched in Cyprus. As instruments of ecclesial charity, may you collaborate increasingly in building justice in freedom and in peace!
I encourage our brothers and sisters here, who in the East, share the priceless gift of Baptism, to persevere in the faith and, despite the numerous sacrifices, to remain where they were born. At the same time, I urge Eastern migrants not to forget their origins, especially their religious origins, their fidelity and human and Christian credibility depend on them. I would like to pay a special tribute to the Christians who suffer violence for the sake of the Gospel, and I entrust them to the Lord. I always rely on the Leaders of Nations to guarantee in a concrete way without making distinctions and everywhere the public and community profession of the religious convictions of each person.
Last year, on this occasion and because of the Year for Priests, I asked that special attention be paid to the ministers of Christ and of the Church. Abundant fruits of sanctification have matured, not only for priests but also for the whole People of God. Let us implore the Holy Spirit to reinforce the signs of divine benevolence through the gift of vocations, of which the ecclesial community stands in great need in both the West and the East.
I am delighted to note that the Eastern Catholic Churches have collaborated with zeal in the implementation of the objectives of the Year for Priests, and that the relief agencies of ROACO have wished to support them in this context too. You did not only take into consideration the formation of candidates to Sacred Orders, which is a constant priority, but also the needs of the clergy active in pastoral work, such as, for example, a spiritual and cultural updating and aid to priests, especially in the difficult yet at the same time fruitful phase of illness and old age. In this way you help to radiate in the Church and in contemporary society the precious and indispensable gift of priestly service. In the ancient world, the East was the seat of important schools of priestly spirituality. The Church of Antioch, to give an example, produced exceptional Saints: extremely cultured priests who did not put themselves but Christ and the Apostles in the front line. They devoted themselves without reserve to proclaiming the word and to the celebration of the divine mysteries. They were in a condition to stir people's consciences profoundly, reaching depths they would have been unable to fathom with merely human means.
Dear friends, with your commitment you contribute above all to enabling priests of the Eastern Churches in our day and age to be an echo of this spiritual heritage. This will give a strong impetus to the network of educational and social institutions, which is rightly your province, so that it will branch out into a sound pastoral perspective. When priests are guided in their service by a truly spiritual motivation then lay people too are strengthened in their commitment to manage temporal matters in accordance with their Christian vocation.
We now have the common task of preparing for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I thank God for this initiative, which is already producing the beneficial fruits of "communion and witness" for which the Synod was initially convoked. Last year at Castel Gandolfo, I had the pleasure of announcing this Synodal Assembly during a meeting of fraternal prayer and reflection with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Churches. During my recent Visit to Cyprus, which I recall with deep gratitude to God and to those who welcomed me, I consigned the Instrumentum Laboris of this Special Assembly to representatives of the Episcopate of the Middle East. I am pleased at the broad cooperation provided thus far by the Eastern Churches and for the work which, from the beginning ROACO has done and continues to do for this historical event. This joint effort will have fruitful results because of the presence of your representatives at this episcopal gathering and your ongoing relationship with the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.
Dear friends, I ask you to contribute with your agencies to keeping alive among the Christians of the East "the hope that does not disappoint" (Rm 5,5 cf. Instrumentum Laboris, Conclusions). In the "little flock" (Lc 12,32) that they make up, the future of God and the "hard way" that they are taking is described in the Gospel as "the way... that leads to life" (Mt 7,13-14). Let us always be beside them! Trusting in the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God and of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, I commend to the Lord the benefactors, friends and collaborators, alive or deceased, linked in various ways with ROACO, with a special remembrance of Bishop Padovese, who died recently, while I impart to each one of you, members and supporters of the international Agencies, and to all the beloved Eastern Catholic Churches, the comfort of the Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 2005-13 348