Speeches 2005-13 440




Holy Father, I want to thank you for your presence here, which fills us with joy and helps us remember that today is the day in which Jesus showed his love in the most radical way, that is, by dying on the Cross as an innocent. It is precisely on this theme of innocent sorrow which is the first question that comes from a seven-year-old Japanese child who says: “My name is Elena. I am Japanese and I am seven years old. I am very frightened because the house where I felt safe really shook a lot and many children my age have died. I cannot go to play in the park. I want to know: why do I have to be so afraid? Why do children have to be so sad? I’m asking the Pope, who speaks with God, to explain it to me”.

Dear Elena, I send you my heartfelt greetings. I also have the same questions: why is it this way? Why do you have to suffer so much while others live in ease? And we do not have the answers but we know that Jesus suffered as you do, an innocent, and that the true God who is revealed in Jesus is by your side. This seems very important to me, even if we do not have answers, even if we are still sad; God is by your side and you can be certain that this will help you. One day we will even understand why it was so. At this moment it seems important to me that you know “God loves me” even if it seems like he doesn’t know me. No, he loves me, he is by my side, and you can be sure that in the world, in the universe, there are many who are with you, thinking of you, doing what they can for you, to help you. And be aware that, one day, I will understand that this suffering was not empty, it wasn't in vain, but behind it was a good plan, a plan of love. It is not chance. Be assured, we are with you, with all the Japanese children who are suffering. We want to help you with our prayers, with our actions, and you can be sure that God will help you. In this sense we pray together so that light may come to you as soon as possible.

The second question presents us with a Calvary because we have a mother under her son’s cross. This mother is an Italian named Maria Teresa and she asks you: “Your Holiness, has the soul of my son Francesco, who has been in a vegetative coma since Easter Sunday 2009, left his body, seeing that he is no longer conscious, or is it still near him?”

Certainly his soul is still present in his body. The situation, perhaps, is like that of a guitar whose strings have been broken and therefore can no longer play. The instrument of the body is fragile like that, it is vulnerable, and the soul cannot play, so to speak, but remains present. I am also sure that this hidden soul feels your love deep down, even if he is unable to understand the details, your words, etc. He feels the presence of love. Your presence, therefore, dear parents, dear mother, next to him for hours and hours every day, is the true act of a love of great value because this presence enters into the depth of that hidden soul. Your act is thus also a witness of faith in God, of faith in man, of faith, let us say, of commitment to life, of respect for human life, even in the saddest of situations. I encourage you, therefore, to carry on, to know that you are giving a great service to humanity with this sign of faith, with this sign of respect for life, with this love for a wounded body and a suffering soul.

The third question takes us to Iraq, to the youth of Baghdad, persecuted Christians, who send you this question; “Greetings from Iraq, Holy Father” they say. “We Christians in Baghdad are persecuted like Jesus. Holy Father, in your opinion, in what way can we help our Christian community to reconsider their desire to emigrate to other countries, convincing them that leaving is not the only solution?”

First of all I want to cordially greet all the Christians of Iraq, our brothers and sisters, and I have to say that I pray every day for the Christians in Iraq. They are our suffering brothers and sisters, as those who are suffering in other lands are too, and therefore they are particularly dear to our hearts and we must do whatever we can so that they might be able to stay, so that they might be able to resist the temptation to emigrate, which is very understandable in the conditions they are living in. I would say that it is important that we are close to you, dear brothers and sisters in Iraq, and we also want to help you when you come, to welcome sincerely you as brothers and sisters. Naturally, all the institutions that truly have the possibility to do something in Iraq for you should do it. The Holy See is in permanent contact with the diverse communities, not only the Catholic community and the other Christian communities, but also with our Muslim brothers and sister, Shi'ites and Sunni. We want to create reconciliation and understanding, with the government as well, to help in this difficult journey of rebuilding a torn society. Because this is the problem, that the society is profoundly divided, torn, there is no longer the awareness that “In our diversity we are one people with a common history, where each has his place”. This awareness needs to be rebuilt: that in diversity, they have a common history, a common determination. In dialogue, precisely with the various groups, we want to assist the process of reconstruction and encourage you, dear brothers and sisters in Iraq, to have faith, to be patient and have faith in God, to collaborate in this difficult process. Be assured of our prayers.

The next question comes to you from a Muslim woman from the Ivory Coast, a country that has been at war for years. This lady’s name is Bintu and she greets you in Arabic, saying “May God be in all the words that we say to one another and may God be with you”. It is an expression that they use when beginning an address. She then continues in French: “Dear Holy Father, here in the Ivory Coast we have always lived in harmony between Christians and Muslims. Families are often formed by members of both religions. There also exists a diversity of ethnicities but we have never had problems. Now everything has changed: the crisis we are living under, caused by politics, has sown division. How many innocents have lost their lives! How many persons have been displaced, how many mothers and how many children traumatized! The messengers have exhorted peace, the prophets have exhorted peace. As an ambassador of Jesus, what do you advise for our country?

I would like to respond to your greeting: May God also be with you and help you forever. I have to say that I have received heartbreaking letters from the Ivory Coast in which I see the sorrow, the depth of suffering, and I am saddened that I can do so little. We can do one thing always: remain in prayer with you and, as much as possible, we can offer works of charity. Above all we want to help, as much as is in our power, the political and human contacts. I have entrusted Cardinal Turkson, who is the president of our Council for Justice and Peace, to go to the Ivory Coast to try to mediate, to speak with the various groups and various persons to encourage a new beginning. Above all we want to make the voice of Jesus, whom you also believe in as a prophet, heard. He was always a man of peace. It could be expected that, when God came to earth, he would be a man of great power, destroying the opposing forces. That he would be a man of powerful violence as an instrument of peace. Not at all. He came in weakness. He came with only the strength of love, totally without violence, even to the point of going to the Cross. This is what shows us the true face of God, that violence never comes from God, never helps bring anything good, but is a destructive means and not the path to escape difficulties. He is thus a strong voice against every type of violence. He strongly invites all sides to renounce violence, even if they feel they are right. The only path is to renounce violence, to begin anew with dialogue, with the attempt to find peace together, with a new concern for one another, a new willingness to be open to one another. This, dear lady, is Jesus’ true message: seek peace with the means of peace and leave violence aside. We pray for you, that all sections of your society may hear Jesus’ voice and thus that peace and communion will return.

Holy Father, the next question is on the theme of Jesus’ death and Resurrection and comes from Italy. I will read it to you: “Your Holiness, what is Jesus doing in the time between His death and resurrection? Seeing that in reciting the Creed it says that Jesus, after his death, descended into Hell, should we think that that will also happen to us, after death, before going to Heaven?”

First of all, this descent of Jesus’ soul should not be imagined as a geographical or a spatial trip, from one continent to another. It is the soul’s journey. We have to remember that Jesus’ soul always touches the Father, it is always in contact with the Father but, at the same time, this human soul extends to the very borders of the human being. In this sense it goes into the depths, into the lost places, to where all who do not arrive at their life’s goal go, thus transcending the continents of the past. This word about the Lord’s descent into Hell mainly means that Jesus reaches even the past, that the effectiveness of the Redemption does not begin in the year 0 or 30, but also goes to the past, embraces the past, all men and women of all time. The Church Fathers say, with a very beautiful image, that Jesus takes Adam and Eve, that is, humanity, by the hand and guides them forward, guides them on high. He thus creates access to God because humanity, on its own cannot arrive at God’s level. He himself, being man, can take humanity by the hand and open the access. To what? To the reality we call Heaven. So this descent into Hell, that is, into the depth of the human being, into humanity’s past, is an essential part of Jesus’ mission, of his mission as Redeemer, and does not apply to us. Our lives are different. We are already redeemed by the Lord and we arrive before the Judge, after our death, under Jesus’ gaze. On one had, this gaze will be purifying: I think that all of us, in greater or lesser measure, are in need of purification. Jesus’ gaze purifies us, thus making us capable of living with God, of living with the saints, and above all of living in communion with those dear to us who have preceded us.

The next question is also on the theme of Resurrection and comes from Italy. “Your Holiness, when the women reach the tomb on the Sunday after Jesus’ death, they do not recognize their Master but confuse him with another. It also happens to the Apostles: Jesus shows them his wounds, breaks bread, in order to be recognized, precisely by his actions. He has a true body, made of flesh, but it is also glorified. What does it mean that his risen body didn't have the same characteristics as before? What, exactly, does a glorified body mean? Will the Resurrection also be like that for us?”

Naturally, we cannot define the glorified body because it is beyond our experience. We can only note the signs that Jesus has given us to understand, at least a little, in which direction we should seek this reality. The first sign: the tomb is empty. That is, Jesus dead did not leave his body behind to corruption. This shows us that even matter is destined for eternity, that it is truly resurrected, that it does not remain something lost. But he then assumed this matter in a new condition of life. This is the second point: Jesus no longer dies, that is, He is beyond the laws of biology and physics because He endured this one death. Therefore there is a new condition, a different one, that we do not know but which is shown in the fact of Jesus and which is a great promise for all of us: that there is a new world, a new life, toward which we are on a journey. Being in this condition, Jesus had the possibility of letting himself be felt, of offering his hand to his followers, of eating with them, but still of being beyond the conditions of biological life as we live it. We know that, on the one hand, he is a real man, not a ghost, that he lives a real life, but a new life that is no longer submitted to the death that is our great promise. It is important to understand this, at least as much as we can, for the Eucharist. In the Eucharist, the Lord gives us his glorified body, not flesh to eat in a biological sense. He gives us himself, this newness that he is in our humanity, in our being as person, and it touches us within with his being so that we might let ourselves be penetrated by his presence, transformed in his presence. It is an important point because we are thus already in contact with this new life, this new type of life, since he has entered into me and I have gone out of myself and am extended toward a new dimension of life. I think that this aspect of the promise, of the reality that he gives himself to me and pulls me out of myself, toward on high, is the most important point. It is not about noting things that we cannot understand but of being on a journey to the newness that always begins again anew in the Eucharist.

Holy Father, the last question is about Mary. At the Cross we witness a poignant dialogue between Jesus and his Mother in which Jesus says to Mary: “Behold your son”, and to John, “Behold your Mother”. In your latest book, “Jesus of Nazareth”, you define it as “Jesus’ final provision”. How are we to understand these words? What meaning did they have at that moment and what do they mean today? And, on the subject of entrusting, do you intend to renew a consecration to the Virgin at the beginning of this new millennium?

These words of Jesus are, above all, a very human act. We see Jesus as a true man who makes a human act, an act of love for his Mother, entrusting the Mother to the young John so that she might be safe. A woman living alone in the East at that time was an impossible situation. He entrusts his Mother to this young man and to this young man he gives his Mother, therefore Jesus actually acts as a human with a deeply human sentiment. This seems very beautiful to me, very important, that before any theology we see in this act the true humanity of Jesus, his true humanism. Naturally, however, this has several dimensions, not just about this moment but regarding all of history. In John, Jesus entrusts all of us, the whole Church, all future disciples, to his Mother and his Mother to us. In this the course of history is fulfilled. More and more, humanity and Christians have understood that the Mother of Jesus is their Mother and more and more they have entrusted themselves to the Mother. Think of the great sanctuaries, think of this devotion for Mary in which more and more people feel “This is your mother”. And even some who have difficulty reaching Jesus in his greatness, the Son of God, entrust themselves without difficulty to the Mother. Someone said, “But this doesn’t have any Biblical foundation!” To this I reply, with St Gregory the Great: “In reading”, he says, “grow the words of Scripture.” That is, they develop in lived reality. They grow and more and more in history this Word develops. We see how we can all be grateful because there is truly a Mother; we have all been given a Mother. We can also go to this Mother with great confidence because she is also the Mother of every Christian. However, it is also true that this Mother expresses the Church. We cannot be Christians alone, following a Christianity based on our own ideas. The Mother is the image of the Church, the Mother Church, and entrusting ourselves to Mary means we must also entrust ourselves to the Church, live the Church, be the Church with Mary. And so we arrive at the meaning of entrusting ourselves: the Popes — whether it was Pius XII or Paul VI or John Paul II — have made a great act of entrusting the world to the Our Lady and it seems to me, as a gesture before humankind, before Mary herself, that it was a very important gesture. I believe that now it is important to internalize this act, to let ourselves be penetrated, and to bear it out in ourselves. In this sense I have gone to some of the great Marian sanctuaries of the world: Lourdes, Fatima, Czestochowa, Altötting…, always with this sense of making real, of interiorizing this act of entrustment, so that it might truly become our act. I think that the great, public act has been made. Perhaps one day it will be necessary to repeat it again, but at the moment it seems more important to me to live it, to make it real, to enter into this entrusting so that it might truly be our own. For example, at Fatima I saw how the thousands of persons present truly entered into this entrustment. In themselves, for themselves they entrusted themselves to her; they made this made this trust real within them. It thus becomes a reality in the living Church and thus also the Church grows. The common entrustment to Mary, letting ourselves be penetrated by this presence, creating and entering into communion with Mary makes the Church, make us together with Mary, truly the Bride of Christ. Thus, at the moment, I do not intend to make a new act of public entrustment, but I would rather invite you to enter into this entrustment that has already been made, so that we may truly live it every day, and thus that a truly Marian Church might grow, a Church that is Mother, Bride, and Daughter of Jesus.

L'Osservatore Romano, Weekly Edition, 27 April 2011



Good Friday, 22 April 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This evening, in faith, we have accompanied Jesus as he takes the final steps of his earthly journey, the most painful steps, the steps that lead to Calvary. We have heard the cries of the crowd, the words of condemnation, the insults of the soldiers, the lamentation of the Virgin Mary and of the women. Now we are immersed in the silence of this night, in the silence of the cross, the silence of death. It is a silence pregnant with the burden of pain borne by a man rejected, oppressed, downtrodden, the burden of sin which mars his face, the burden of evil. Tonight we have re-lived, deep within our hearts, the drama of Jesus, weighed down by pain, by evil, by human sin.

What remains now before our eyes? It is a crucified man, a cross raised on Golgotha, a cross which seems a sign of the final defeat of the One who brought light to those immersed in darkness, the One who spoke of the power of forgiveness and of mercy, the One who asked us to believe in God’s infinite love for each human person. Despised and rejected by men, there stands before us “a man of suffering and acquainted with infirmity, one from whom others hide their faces” (Is 53,3).

But let us look more closely at that man crucified between earth and heaven. Let us contemplate him more intently, and we will realize that the cross is not the banner of the victory of death, sin and evil, but rather the luminous sign of love, of God’s immense love, of something that we could never have asked, imagined or expected: God bent down over us, he lowered himself, even to the darkest corner of our lives, in order to stretch out his hand and draw us to himself, to bring us all the way to himself. The cross speaks to us of the supreme love of God and invites, today, to renew our faith in the power of that love, and to believe that in every situation of our lives, our history and our world, God is able to vanquish death, sin and evil, and to give us new, risen life. In the Son of God’s death on the cross, we find the seed of new hope for life, like the seed which dies within the earth.

This night full of silence, full of hope, echoes God’s call to us as found in the words of Saint Augustine: “Have faith! You will come to me and you will taste the good things of my table, even as I did not disdain to taste the evil things of your table... I have promised you my own life. As a pledge of this, I have given you my death, as if to say: Look! I am inviting you to share in my life. It is a life where no one dies, a life which is truly blessed, which offers an incorruptible food, the food which refreshes and never fails. The goal to which I invite you … is friendship with the Father and the Holy Spirit, it is the eternal supper, it is communion with me … It is a share in my own life (cf. Sermo 231, 5).

Let us gaze on the crucified Jesus, and let us ask in prayer: Enlighten our hearts, Lord, that we may follow you along the way of the cross. Put to death in us the “old man” bound by selfishness, evil and sin. Make us “new men”, men and women of holiness, transformed and enlivened by your love.


Dear Friends,

I am very happy to welcome all of you, members and participants in the 17th Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union. This year the Union is a guest of Vatican Radio, on the occasion of its 80th anniversary.

I greet Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I thank Mr Jean-Paul Philippot, President of the European Broadcasting Union, and Fr Federico Lombardi, General Director of Vatican Radio, for the courteous words with which they have presented the nature of your meeting and the problems you must face.

When my Predecessor Pius xi spoke to Guglielmo Marconi about setting up a radio broadcasting station in Vatican City State equipped with the best available technology in this epoch, he showed that he had clearly perceived the direction in which the world of communications was developing and the potential the radio could offer for the service of the Church’s mission.

Through the radio the Popes were effectively able to broadcast beyond frontiers messages of great importance for humanity, such as the famous Messages of Pius XII during the Second World War which gave a voice to the deepest aspirations of justice and peace, or that of John XXIII at the height of the crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962.

Piux XII was also able to broadcast hundreds of thousands of messages from families concerning prisoners and those who disappeared during the war, carrying out a humanitarian initiative which earned him undying gratitude. And also, via radio, he kept alive the hopes of believers and of peoples subjected to regimes, that oppressed human rights and religious freedom, for a long time.

The Holy See is aware of the extraordinary potential the world of communications has in reserve for the progress and growth of people and of society. It could be said that the Church’s entire teaching in this sector, starting with Pius XII’s Discourses, passing through the documents of the Second Vatican Council, to my most recent Messages on the new digital technologies, contains a vein of optimism, hope and sincere sympathy for those who are committed in this area to encouraging encounter and dialogue, to serve the human community and to contribute to the peaceful development of society.

Each one of you knows of course that there are latent difficulties and risks in the development of social communications. Allow me to express to all of you my interest and my solidarity in your important work. In today’s society, the basic values for the good of humanity are at stake, and public opinion, in the formation of which your work has great importance, is often disoriented and divided. You well know what the concerns of the Church are on respect for human life, the defence of the family, the recognition of the authentic rights and the just aspirations of peoples. Her concerns over the imbalances caused by underdevelopment and hunger in many parts of the world, the reception of immigrants, of unemployment and of social security, the new forms of poverty and social marginalization, discrimination and the violations of religious freedom, disarmament and the search for a peaceful solution to conflicts.

I have mentioned many of these issues in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate. To produce each day balanced and correct information and a mature debate in order to find the best shared solutions on these issues in a pluralist society, is the task of radio stations as well as television channels.

It is a task that demands great professional honesty, correctness and respect, openness to different perspectives, clarity in the treatment of problems, freedom with regard to ideological barriers and an awareness of the complexity of the problems. It is a matter of patient research to identify the “daily truth” which best expresses values in life the better to direct the journey of society, and sought with humility by everyone.

In this search, the Catholic Church has a specific contribution to offer, which she intends to offer by witnessing to her adherence to the truth that is Christ, yet doing so in a spirit of openness and dialogue. As I said during my meeting with leading figures from the worlds of British culture and politics at Westminster Hall in London last September, religion does not seek to manipulate non-believers, but to assist reason in the discovery of objective moral principles. Religion contributes by “purifying” reason, helping it not to fall prey to distortions, such as manipulation by ideology or partial application that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person.

At the same time, religion likewise recognizes its need for the corrective of reason in order to avoid excesses, such as fundamentalism or sectarianism. “Religion ... is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation”. I therefore invite you too, “within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason” with a view to serving the common good of the nation.

Yours is a “public service”, a service to the people, to help them each day to know and understand better what is happening and why it is happening, and to communicate actively so as to accompany them in society’s journey together. I am well aware that this service meets with difficulties that take on different features and proportions in different countries. These can include the challenge of competition from commercial broadcasters, the conditioning of politics understood as the carving up of power rather than service of the common good, scarcity of economic resources made more acute by situations of crisis, the impact of developments in new technologies of communication, the laborious search for viewers and listeners. But the challenges of the modern world on which you have to report are too great and too urgent to let yourselves become discouraged or tempted to give up in the face of such difficulties.

Twenty years ago, in 1991, when your General Assembly was received in the Vatican by the Venerable John Paul II, whom tomorrow I shall have the joy of beatifying, he encouraged you to develop your mutual collaboration in order to favour the growth of the community of the peoples of the world.

Today, I think of the processes unfolding in certain countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, some of which are also members of your Association. We know that the new forms of communication continue to play a role of some significance in these very processes. I urge you to place your international contacts and activities at the service of reflection and commitment aimed at ensuring that the instruments of social communication promote dialogue, peace and development of peoples in solidarity, overcoming cultural separation, uncertainties and fears.

Finally, dear friends, while I sincerely wish all of you and your Association much success in your work, I would also like to express my thanks for the specific collaboration that on many occasions you have provided for my ministry, and that you continue to provide, as during the great festivals of Christmas and Easter, or on my Apostolic Journeys. For me too, and for the Catholic Church, you are therefore important allies and friends in our mission. In this spirit I am pleased to invoke the Lord’s blessing upon all of you, upon those who are dear to you and upon your work.
May 2011


Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the Papal Foundation, on the occasion of your annual visit to Rome. During this Easter season, marked by spiritual joy and gratitude for the gift of our new life in Christ, I pray that this pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs will renew all of you in your love for the Lord and his Church.

This meeting gives me a welcome opportunity to renew my thanks for the important contribution which the Foundation makes to the Church’s mission by its promotion of charities close to the heart of the Pope. I am most grateful for your involvement in projects aimed at integral human development, your encouragement of the apostolic activities of dioceses and religious congregations throughout the world, your concern for the education of the Church’s future leaders and your support for the activities of the Holy See. The Papal Foundation was born as a means of demonstrating practical solidarity with the Successor of Peter in his solicitude for the universal Church. May you see your commitment to the ideals of the Foundation as a privileged expression of your Christian engagement in the Church and before the world. In this way, you will testify that the Church is missionary by her very nature; for “it is our responsibility to pass on what, by God’s grace, we ourselves have received” (Verbum Domini, 91).

Dear friends, with these sentiments and with affection in the Lord, 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 Easter joy and peace.




Paul VI Audience Hall Thursday, 5 May 2011

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

Once again this year, to mark the beginning of my Pontificate, the President of the Italian Republic, the Honourable Giorgio Napolitano, with his customary perfect courtesy has wished to enable us to enjoy an uplifting musical moment. While I offer you and your gracious Lady, my heartfelt thanks, Mr President, I express my deep gratitude for this pleasurable tribute and for your cordial words; they demonstrate the closeness of the beloved Italian people to the Bishop of Rome and recall the unforgettable event of the Beatification of John Paul II.

I also greet the other Authorities of the Italian State, the Ambassadors, the various important figures, the Municipality of Rome, and all of you. A special “thank you” goes to the conductor, the soloists, the orchestra and the choir of the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma for their splendid performance of the two masterpieces, one by Antonio Vivaldi and the other by Gioacchino Rossini, two supreme musicians, of whom Italy, which is celebrating the 150th anniversary of its political unity, can be proud. A “thank you” also goes to everyone who has made this event possible.

“Credo” and “Amen”: the two words at both the beginning and the end of the Credo, the Church’s “Profession of faith”, which we have heard. What does credo mean? It is a word that has various meanings: it suggests receiving something from within one’s own convictions, trusting someone, having assurance. When, however, we say it in the “Creed”, it acquires a deeper meaning: it is affirming with trust the true meaning of the reality that sustains us, that sustains the world. It means accepting this meaning as the firm ground which we can stand on without fear; it is knowing that the foundation of all things cannot be made by us but only received.

And the Christian faith does not say “I believe in something”, but rather, “I believe in Someone”, in God who is revealed in Jesus; in him I perceive the world’s true meaning. And this believing involves the whole person who is journeying on towards him. Moreover the word “Amen”, which in Hebrew has the same root as the word “faith”, takes up the same concept: confident reliance on the sound base of God.

And we come to the piece by Vivaldi, a great representative of 18th-century music in Venice. Unfortunately his sacred music — which is little known — contains precious treasures: we had an example of this in this evening’s piece, most likely probably composed in 1715.

I would like to make three remarks. First of all, an anomalous factor in Vivaldi’s vocal production: there are no soloists — there is only the choir. In this way Vivaldi wished to express the “we” of the faith. The “Credo” is the “we” of the Church which sings her faith, in space and in time, as a community of believers. When I say “credo” I do so inserted into the “we” of the community.

I would then like to point out the two splendid central movements: Et incarnatus est and Crucifixus. Vivaldi, as was the practice, dwells on the moment when God, who seemed remote, makes himself close, is incarnate and gives himself on the Cross. Here the repetition of words, the continuous modulations, convey the profound meaning of wonder before this Mystery and invite us to meditation and to prayer.

One last observation: Carlo Goldoni, a great exponent of the Venetian theatre, noted at his first meeting with Vivaldi: “I found him surrounded with music and with the Breviary in his hand”. Vivaldi was a priest and his music sprang from his faith.

This evening’s second masterpiece, the Stabat Mater by Gioacchino Rossini, is a great meditation on the mystery of the death of Jesus and on the profound sorrow of Mary. Rossini had ended the active phase of his career when he was only 37 years old, in 1829, with William Tell.From this moment he no longer wrote pieces of vast proportions, with only two exceptions, both sacred music: the Stabat Mater and the Petite Messe solonnelle. Rossini’s religious sense expressed a rich range of sentiments before the mysteries of Christ with a strong emotional tension. From the great initial fresco of the Stabat Mater, sorrowful and affectionate, to the passages in which the Rossinian and Italian lyrical quality emerges, but which are always dramatically tense, until the double final fugue with the powerful Amen, which expresses the firmness of faith, and the In sempiterna saecula, which seeks to to convey the sense of eternity. However I think that the two true pearls of this work are the two passages a capella, the Eja mater fons amoris and the Quando corpus morietur.

Here the Maestro returns to the lesson of the great polyphony with an emotional intensity that becomes heartfelt prayer: “When my body dies, grant that my soul may be granted the glory of Paradise”. At the age of 71, after composing the Petite messe solonnelle, Rossini wrote “Good Lord, now this poor Mass has ended…. You know well that I was born for comic opera! Not much knowledge, a little heart, that’s all. Therefore be blessed and obtain for me paradise” — a simple, genuine faith.

Dear friends, I hope that the pieces this evening have also nourished our faith. I renew my gratitude to the President of the Italian Republic, to the soloists, to the complexes of the Teatro dell’ Opera di Roma, to the conductor, to the organizers and to everyone present and I ask for remembrance in prayer for my ministry in the Lord’s vineyard. May he continue to bless you and your loved ones! Thank you.


Your Eminences,
Reverend Abbot Primate
Reverend Rector Magificent,
Distinguished Professors,
Dear Students,

I welcome you with joy on the occasion of the Ninth International Congress on Liturgy which you are celebrating in the context of the 50th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute. I cordially greet each one of you and in particular the Grand Chancellor, Abbot Primate Notker Wolf, and I thank him for his courteous words to me on behalf of you all.

Bl. John XXIII, in accepting the requests of the liturgical movement which sought to give a new impetus and a new breath to the Church’s prayer, shortly before the Second Vatican Council and during its celebration, wanted the Faculty of the Benedictines on the Aventine Hill to be a centre for study and research to assure a sound basis for the conciliar liturgical reform.

On the eve of the Council, in fact, the urgent need for reform in the liturgical sector emerged ever more acutely, also postulated by the requests made by various episcopates. Moreover, the strong pastoral demands that motivated the liturgical movement required that a more active participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations be encouraged and elicited through the use of national languages. Also necessary was an in-depth examination of the subject of the adaptation of the rites in the various cultures and especially in mission lands.

In addition, the need for a more thorough study of the theological foundation of the Liturgy appeared clear from the outset, in order to avoid lapsing into ritualism or fostering subjectivism and to prevent the celebrant from making himself the centre of attention; and to base the reform firmly found within the context of the Revelation and in continuity with the tradition of the Church. In order to respond to these needs Pope John XXIII, inspired by his wisdom and his prophetic spirit, created the Liturgical Institute, which he immediately called “Pontifical” to denote its special connection with the Apostolic See.

Dear friends, the title chosen for the Congress of this Jubilee Year is equally significant: “The Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Between Memory and Prophecy”. As regards memory, we must note the abundant fruits generated by the Holy Spirit in half a century of history and let us thank the Giver of all good for this, despite the misunderstandings and errors in the practical implementation of the reform. How can we forget the pioneers, present at the act of the foundation of the Faculty? They were: Fr Cipriano Vagaggini, Fr Adrien Nocent, Fr Salvatore Marsili and Fr Burkhard Neunheuser who, in accepting the Pontiff-founder’s requests, committed themselves to a further examination, especially after the promulgation of the conciliar Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, of the “exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ. It involves the presentation of man’s sanctification under the guise of signs perceptible by the senses and its accomplishment in ways appropriate to each of these signs. In it full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and his members” (n. 7).

To the “memory” belongs the very life of the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, which has made its contribution to the Church committed to the reception of the Second Vatican Council, through 50 years of academic liturgical formation. Formation offered in the light of the celebration of the holy mysteries, of comparative liturgy, of the word of God, of liturgical sources, of the Magisterium, of the history of ecumenical requests and of a solid anthropology.

Thanks to this important formative work, a large number of those with degrees and licences now offer their service to the Church in various parts of the world, helping the Holy People of God to live the Liturgy as an expression of the Church in prayer, as a presence of Christ among people and as a constitutive feature of the history of salvation.

In fact, the conciliar Document sheds a clear light on the dual theological and ecclesiological character of the Liturgy. The celebration at the same time brings about an epiphany of the Lord and an epiphany of the Church, two dimensions that unite in the liturgical assembly, where Christ actualizes the Pascal Mystery of death and Resurrection and the people of the baptized draw more abundantly from the sources of salvation. The active presence of Christ subsists in the liturgical action of the Church: what he did as he went about among human beings, he continues to make active through his personal sacramental action whose centre is the Eucharist.

With the term “prophecy”, our gaze opens to new horizons. The Liturgy of the Church goes beyond the “conciliar reform” itself (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 1), whose aim, in fact, was not primarily to change the rites and the texts, but rather to renew mentalities and to put at the centre of Christian life and ministry the celebration of the Paschal Mystery of Christ.

Unfortunately, perhaps, we too, Pastors and experts, understood the Liturgy as an object to be reformed rather than a subject capable of renewing Christian life, since “A very close and organic bond exists between the renewal of the Liturgy and the renewal of the whole life of the Church. The Church not only acts but also expresses herself in the Liturgy and draws from the Liturgy the strength for her life”. Blessed John Paul II reminds us of this in Vicesimus Quintus Annus, in which the Liturgy is seen as the vibrant heart of all ecclesial activity. And the Servant of God Paul VI, referring to the worship of the Church, affirmed with concise words: “From the lex credendi we pass to the lex orandi, which takes us back to the lux operandi et vivendi” (Address at the ceremony of the Presentation of Candles, 2 February, 1970, ORE, 12 Feb. 1970, p. 2).

The Liturgy, the summit toward which the activity of the Church is directed is at the same time the fount from which all her power flows (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10), with its celebratory universe thus becomes the great educator in the primacy of the faith and of grace. The Liturgy, a privileged witness of the living Tradition of the Church, faithful to its original duty to reveal and to make present in the hodie of human vicissitudes the opus Redemptionis, lives on a correct and constant relationship between healthy traditio and legitima progressio, which the conciliar Constitution has made lucidly explicit in n. 23.

In their programme of reform, the Council Fathers wished to maintain an equilibrium between both terms, a balance between the great liturgical tradition of the past and that of the future. Tradition and progress are often clumsily opposed. Actually, the two concepts merge: tradition is a living reality, which therefore includes in itself the principle of development, of progress. It is as if to say that the river of tradition also carries its source in itself and flows towards the outlet.

Dear friends, I trust that this Faculty of Sacred Liturgy will continue its service to the Church with a renewed impetus, in full fidelity to the rich and precious liturgical tradition and the reform desired by the Second Vatican Council, in accordance with the guidelines of Sacrosanctum Concilium and the pronouncements of the Magisterium. The Christian Liturgy is the Liturgy of the promise fulfilled in Christ, but it is also the Liturgy of hope, of the pilgrimage on its way to the transformation of the world, which will take place when God is everything to every one (cf. 1Co 15,28).

Through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, in communion with the heavenly Church and with the Patrons, St Benedict and St Anselm, I invoke the Apostolic Blessing upon each one. Thank you.


Dear Mr Commandant,
Reverend Chaplain,
Dear Officials and Members of the Swiss Guard,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am particularly glad to meet you on the occasion of your anniversary and I would especially like to address a cordial greeting to the new recruits. In following the example of many of their compatriots, they have chosen to dedicate a few years of their youth to serving the Successor of Peter. The presence of your parents, relatives and friends who have come to Rome to take part in these days of festivity, not only expresses the ties of many Swiss Catholics to the Holy See, but also the teaching, moral education and good example through which parents have handed down to their sons the Christian faith and sense of disinterested service.

This day is an opportunity to take a look at the glorious past of the Pontifical Swiss Guard. I am thinking in particular of the event — recalled several times, because it is a fundamental part of your history — of the famous “Sack of Rome” which saw the Swiss Guard courageously defending the Pope, to the point of giving their lives for him. Reference to the “Sack of Rome” should make us reflect that the threat of a more dangerous form of sacking also exists, which we might describe as spiritual.

In the contemporary social context many young people in fact run the risk of falling into a gradual impoverishment of the soul, because they follow superficial ideals and perspectives which only fulfil material needs and requirements. Your stay in Rome is a good opportunity for you to make the most of the many possibilities that this city offers you, giving your life an ever more solid and profound meaning.

Rome is rich in history, culture and faith; therefore take the opportunities that are given to you to broaden your cultural, linguistic, and especially spiritual horizon. The period you spend in the “Eternal City” will be a wonderful interlude in your life: live it with a spirit of sincere brotherhood, helping each other to lead an exemplary Christian life which corresponds with your faith and with your special mission in the Church.

While some of you will swear to carry out your service faithfully in the Pontifical Swiss Guard and others renew this oath in their hearts, think of the luminous face of Christ who calls you to be authentic, true Christians, protagonists of your lives.

His Passion, death and Resurrection are an eloquent appeal to face the difficulties and challenges of life by showing maturity, knowing well, as the liturgy of the Easter Vigil reminded us, that the Risen Lord is the eternal King “who has conquered! ... Darkness vanishes for ever”. He alone is the Truth, the Way and the Life. He must become more and more every day the parametre of our life and our behaviour. Imitate him, the One who chose full and total faithfulness to the mission of salvation entrusted to him by the Father, as a measure and reference point in life.

Dear young men, the Lord is walking with you, he supports you, encourages you to follow him with the same faithfulness: I warmly hope that you will always feel the joy and consolation of his luminous and fortifying presence.

This meeting gives me the opportunity to express to the new recruits my deep gratitude for their decision to make themselves available, for a certain period, to the Successor of Peter and thereby to guarantee the necessary order and security within Vatican City.

I willingly take this opportunity to extend the expression of my gratitude also to the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps as a whole, called as it is, among its different tasks, to welcome pilgrims and visitors to the Vatican with courtesy and kindness. This work of surveillance, which you carry out with diligence, love and solicitude, is assuredly both important and delicate. It requires at the same time great patience, perseverance and the willingness to listen.

Dear friends, your service is particularly useful for the tranquillity and security of daily life and of the spiritual and religious events in Vatican City. May your significant presence at the heart of Christendom, the destination of a never ending flow of the faithful who come to meet the Successor of Peter and to visit the tombs of the Apostles, inspire increasingly in each one of you the resolve to intensify the spiritual dimension of life, as well as the commitment to deepen your Christian faith, joyfully witnessing to it by your consistent behaviour. I assure you of my fervent prayers and I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to each one of you and to all those around you in this special circumstance.


MEETING WITH THE PEOPLE OF AQUILEIA Piazza Capitolo - Aquileia Saturday, 7 May 2011

Speeches 2005-13 440