Speeches 2005-13 7051


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I come to you with great joy, children and heirs of the illustrious Church of Aquileia as I begin my Visit here to the Churches of this region. I address my cordial greeting to you all, pastors and civil Authorities, faithful from the Dioceses of the Triveneto, as well as those from Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Bavaria. I thank the Mayor of Aquileia for his courteous words.

The archaeological ruins and the wonderful remains of artwork that make Aquileia famous everywhere, prompt me at this moment to retrace the origins of this City that was founded in 181 and prospered down the ages. The Bishop-poet Paulinus sang: “beautiful, illustrious, adorned with splendid palaces, renowned for your city walls and even more for the innumerable crowds of your citizens. All the cities of the Venetian region were subject to you and made you their capital and metropolis; you flourished because of your clergy, you were resplendent because of your churches, which you dedicated to Christ” (Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, in M.G.H., 1881, p. 142). Aquileia was born and developed at the height of the power of the Empire, it was a gateway between East and West, a garrison town, a place of economic and cultural exchanges.

But Aquileia’s glory was something else! In fact, St Paul tells us that God did not chose what is noble and strong but what in the world’s eyes is weak and foolish (cf.
1Co 1,27-28). The One who came to enlighten the people with the light of the Truth had been born in the distant Province of Syria at the time of Caesar Augustus: Jesus, Son of Mary, the consubstantial and eternal Son of the Father, revealer of God’s everlasting dominion over humankind, of his plan of communion for all the peoples. The One who, with his death on the Cross suffered at the hand of the Empire, was to establish the true kingdom of justice, love and peace, giving to all who received him “power to become children of God” (Jn 1,12).

The Good News of Christ’s salvation arrived here from Jerusalem, through the Church of Alexandria. The the seed of great hope arrived in this Roman region. Very soon, in the Decima Regio of the Empire, the Church of Aquileia became a community of martyrs, of heroic witnesses to faith in the Risen One, a seed of other disciples and of other communities. Aquileia’s greatness, therefore, was not only due to its place as Italy’s ninth city, but also to being a lively, exemplary Church, capable of authentic Gospel proclamation, maintained and nurtured for centuries, courageously disseminated in the surrounding regions. I therefore pay homage to this blessed land, sprinkled with the blood and sacrifices of so many witnesses, and I pray that the holy Martyrs of Aquileia bring forth in the Church, today too, courageous and faithful disciples of Christ who are devoted to him alone, hence convinced and convincing.

The freedom of worship granted to Christianity in the 4th century did no more than to extend the radius of action of the Church of Aquileia, extending it beyond the natural boundaries of Venetia et Histria as far as Raetia and Noricum, to the vast Danubian regions, to Pannonia and to Pannonia-Savia. In this way the metropolitan ecclesiastical Province of Aquileia was formed. Bishops of quite distant Churches offered Aquileia their obedience, accepted its profession of faith, gathered round it in the indissoluble bonds of ecclesial, liturgical and disciplinarian and even architectural communion. Aquileia was the vibrant heart of this Region, under the learned, fearless guidance of holy Pastors who defended it against the spreading Arianism.

Among all these pastors I recall Chromatius — on whom I reflected in the Catechesis of 5 December 2007 — a solicitous and active Bishop, like Augustine of Hippo, and like Ambrose of Milan, described by Jerome as “the holiest and most learned of Bishops”. What made the Church which Chromatius loved and served great was her profession of faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. In commenting on the Gospel narrative of the woman who pours perfume first on Jesus’ feet and then on his head, Chromatius says: “The feet of Christ indicate the mystery of his Incarnation which is why he deigned to be born of a virgin in these recent times; the head, on the other hand, indicates the glory of his divinity which proceeds from the Father before all the ages. This means that we must believe two things about Christ: that he is God, and that he is man, God begotten by the Father, a man born of a virgin.... We cannot otherwise be saved, unless we believe these two things about Christ” (Chromatius of Aquileia, Catechesis to the People, Cittá Nuova, 1989, p. 93).

Dear brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, heirs of the glorious Church of Aquileia, I am with you today to admire this rich and ancient tradition, but, especially, to strengthen you in the profound faith of your forefathers: at this moment of history, may you rediscover, defend and profess this fundamental truth with spiritual warmth.

Indeed, it is only from Christ that humanity can receive hope and a future, only from him can it draw the significance and power of forgiveness, of justice, of peace. Always keep alive courageously the faith and deeds of your roots! May you be in your Churches and in society “like a choir of blesseds”, as Jerome said of the clergy of Aquileia, through unity of faith, the study of the word, brotherly love, and in the joyful harmony of ecclesial witness in its many forms. I invite you to make yourselves ever new disciples of the Gospel, to express it in spiritual fervour, clarity of faith, sincere love and prompt sensitivity to the poor: may you shape your life in accordance with that “sermo rusticus”, of which Jerome continued to speak, referring to the evangelical quality of the Aquileian community.

Be diligent in approaching the “manger”, as Chromatius used to say, that is, the altar, where the food is Christ himself, the Bread of life, strength in persecution, nourishment that gives courage in every challenge and weakness, the food of courage and of Christian zeal. May the memory of the Holy Mother Church of Aquileia support you, spur you to new missionary goals in this troubled period of history, make you architects of unity and understanding among the people of your lands. May the Virgin Mary always protect you on your journey and may my my Blessing accompany you.

The Pope then greeted the people in their various languages beginning with the regional dialect of Friulan:

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless you and give you peace and prosperity! I greet the German-speaking faithful. May the ancient Christian roots of your lands bear abundant fruits in your communities. God bless you! I cordially greet the Slovenian faithful. God bless you and your families! Dear Croatian brothers and sisters, thank you for coming! In a month I shall go to Zagreb. God bless you.

SECOND ECCLESIAL CONVENTION OF AQUILEIA Basilica of Aquileia Saturday, 7 May 2011


Dear Cardinal Patriarch,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters,

In the magnificent setting of this historic Basilica that solemnly welcomes us, I extend my warmest greetings to all of you who represent the 15 Dioceses of Triveneto. I am very pleased to meet you as you prepare to celebrate the second Ecclesial Convention of Aquileia next year. I greet with affection the Cardinal Patriarch of Venice and my Brothers in the Episcopate, in particular the Archbishop of Gorizia, whom I thank for the words with which he welcomed me, and Archbishop-Bishop of Padua, who gave us a view of the path towards the Convention.

I greet with equal affection, the priests, men and women religious and the many lay faithful. With the Apostle John, I also repeat to you: “Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come” (
Ap 1,4). It is through the “synodal assembly” that the Holy Spirit speaks to your beloved Churches and to all of you individually, strengthening you for a more mature growth in fellowship and mutual cooperation. This “ecclesial gathering” allows all the Christian communities that you represent here, first of all to share the original experience of Christianity, that of the personal encounter with Jesus, who fully discloses to every man and every woman the meaning and direction of our path, both through life and through history.

It is appropriate that you wanted your Ecclesial Convention to take place in the Mother Church of Aquileia, from which the Churches of the North East of Italy have germinated, but also the Churches of Slovenia and Austria and some Croatian and Bavarian and even Hungarian churches.

Meeting at Aquileia is therefore a significant return to the “roots” in order to rediscover the living “stones” of the spiritual building that has its foundation in Christ and its extension in the most eloquent witnesses of the Aquileian Church: Sts Hermagoras and Fortunatus, Hilary and Tatian, Chrysogonus, Valerian and Chromatius. Coming back to Aquileia means above all learning from the glorious Church which generated you, how to commit yourselves today, in a world which is radically changed, to a renewed evangelization of your area, and how to hand down to future generations the precious heritage of our Christian faith.

“He who has ears, let him hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Ap 2,7). Your pastors have repeated this invitation of the Book of Revelation to all your individual Churches and the various ecclesial realities. In this way they have urged you to discover and to “narrate” what the Holy Spirit has done and is doing in your communities; to read with the eyes of faith the profound changes taking place, the new challenges and questions emerging. How should one proclaim Jesus Christ, to communicate the Gospel and educate people in the faith today? You have chosen to prepare yourselves thoroughly, diocese by diocese, with a view of the Convention of 2012, in order to address challenges that cross the boundaries of individual diocesan realities with a new evangelization rooted in centuries of faith and renewed in vigour.

The presence today in this magnificent Basilica of the dioceses born from Aquileia seems to indicate the mission of the North-East of the future which is also open to the surrounding areas and to those who, for various reasons, come into contact with them. The North-East of Italy is a witness and heir to a rich history of faith, culture and art, the signs of which are still visible even in today’s secularized society. The Christian experience has forged a people who are friendly, hardworking, tenacious and supportive and profoundly marked by the Gospel of Christ, despite the diversity of its cultural identities. This is demonstrated by the vitality of your parish communities, the liveliness of your groups, the responsible commitment of your pastoral workers.

The horizon of faith and its Christian motivations have given and continue to give a new impetus to social life, they inspire intentions and guide morals. There are clear signs of this in the openness and sensitivity to the transcendent dimension of life, despite widespread materialism; a basic religious sense, shared by almost the entire population; the attachment to religious traditions; the renewal of courses of Christian initiation; the many expressions of faith, love and culture; the manifestations of popular piety; the sense of solidarity and the voluntary work undertaken. Preserve, strengthen, and live this precious heritage. Be jealous of all that has made and still makes these lands great!

The primary mission that God entrusts to you today, renewed by a personal encounter with him, is to bear witness to God’s love for man. You are called to do this first and foremost with works of love and life decisions in favour of real people, starting with those most vulnerable, frail, helpless, and dependent, such as the poor, the elderly, the sick, the disabled, what St Paul calls the weak parts of the Body of the Church (cf. 1Co 12 1Co 15-27).

New ideas and achievements in the approach to longevity, such a precious asset for human relations, are a beautiful and innovative witness to evangelical charity projected into the social dimension. Be sure to put at the centre of your attention the family, the cradle of love and life, the fundamental cell of society and the ecclesial community; this pastoral commitment is made more urgent by the growing crisis of married life and the declining birth rate. In all your pastoral activities make sure that you reserve a very special care for young people: they, who today look to the future with great uncertainty, often live in a state of unease, insecurity and fragility, but who carry in their hearts a great hunger and thirst for God, which calls for a constant attention and response!

Also in this context of yours, Christian faith today must face new challenges: the often exacerbated search for economic well-being in a period of serious economic and financial crisis, the practical materialism, the prevailing subjectivism. It is within the complexity of these situations that you are called to promote the Christian meaning of life through the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, brought with gentle pride and great joy to the various milieus of daily life.

From faith lived with courage, today as in the past, flows a rich culture of love for life, from conception until its natural end, the promotion of human dignity, of the elevation of the importance of the family based on faithful marriage and open to life, and of the commitment to justice and solidarity. The cultural changes taking place are asking you to be committed Christians, “Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope” (1P 3,15), able to face up to new cultural challenges, in a respectful confrontation which is both constructive and mindful with all those who live in this society.

The geographical location of the North East, no longer only the crossroads between East and West Europe, but also between the North and the South (the Adriatic carries the Mediterranean to the heart of Europe), the huge phenomenon of tourism and immigration, territorial mobility, the process of homogenization resulting from the action of a pervasive mass media, have accentuated cultural and religious pluralism. In this context, which in any case is that which Providence gives us, it is necessary that Christians, sustained by a “trustworthy hope”, present the beauty of the event of Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life, to every man and every woman, in a frank and sincere relationship with the non-practicing, with non-believers and with believers of other religions.

You are called to live with that attitude full of faith that is described in the Letter to Diognetus: do not deny anything of the Gospel in which you believe, but live in the midst of others with sympathy, communicating by your very way of life that humanism which is rooted in Christianity, in order to build together with all people of good will a “city” which is more human, more just and more supportive.

As the long tradition of Catholicism in these regions testifies, continue to witness vigorously God’s love also by promoting the “common good”: the good of each and by everyone. Your Church communities generally have a positive relationship with civil society and with the various institutions. Continue to give your contribution in order to humanize the areas of civil coexistence.

Finally, I entrust to you, as to the other Churches in Italy, the commitment to inspire a new generation of men and women capable of assuming responsibility in the various areas of society, especially in politics. This area needs more than ever people who are capable of building a “good life” for the benefit and at the service of all, especially young people. Indeed, Christians, pilgrims bound for Heaven but who already live an anticipation of eternity on earth cannot shirk this commitment.

Dear brothers and sisters! I thank God who has granted me to share with you this very significant moment. I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and to your holy Patrons, and with great affection I impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you and your loved ones.

MEETING WITH THE FAITHFUL St Mark's Square in Venice Saturday, 7 May 2011

Dear Cardinal Patriarch,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Mr Mayor and Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I address a cordial greeting to each of you who have come to this quay, from the “calli” and “campi” [alleyways and squares] of this marvellous city, to express your affection to the Successor of Peter, who is here on pilgrimage to the land of St Mark. Your presence, accompanied by vibrant enthusiasm, expresses your faith and devotion, and in my opinion this is a reason for great joy. In particular, I thank the Mayor for the noble words he has addressed to me on behalf of the whole city and for the sentiments he has expressed to me; together with him, I greet and thank the Civil and Military Authorities who have come to welcome me.

Today I have the joy of being able to meet the people of this Lagoon. I have come to you to renew the profound link of communion which historically unites you with the Bishop of Rome and whose primary witnesses are the venerable Pastors who left this Patriarchal See for that of St Peter: many of you have kept a vivid memory of Patriarch Albino Luciani, a son of these Venetian regions, who became Pope with the name of John Paul I. How can one forget Patriarch Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who, having become Pope John XXIII, has been raised by the Church to the honours of the altar and proclaimed Blessed? Lastly, let us remember Patriarch Giuseppe Sarto, the future St Pius X, who continues to enliven this particular Church and the whole universal Church with his example of holiness. The Pastoral Visits made by the Servant of God Paul VI and by Bl. John Paul II are a further testimony of the Popes’ pastoral care for your city. In the footsteps of my Predecessors, I too wished to be with you today to bring you a word of love and hope, and to strengthen you in the faith of the Church, which the Lord Jesus chose to found on the rock which was Peter and which he entrusted to the guidance of the Apostles and their successors in communion with the Church of Rome “which presides in charity” (St Ignatius).

Dear friends, in accordance with the Venetian traditions you have wished to welcome me in this evocative place which is, as it were, the gate to the heart of the city. From here one’s gaze embraces the serene basin of St Mark, the elegant Ducal Palace, the marvellous structure of Basilica di San Marco, the unmistakable profile of the city, rightly known as “the pearl of the Adriatic”. From here one can appreciate the aspect of rare openness that has always characterized Venice, a crossroads of people and communities of all origins, cultures, languages and religions. As a landing and meeting place for human beings from all continents, due to its beauty, its history, its civil traditions, for centuries this city has responded to the special vocation of being a bridge between East and West.

In our day too, with its new perspectives and their complex challenges, Venice is called to take on important responsibilities with regard to a culture of hospitality and sharing in order to build bridges of dialogue between peoples and nations; a culture of harmony and love which has its solid foundations in the Gospel.

The splendour of its monuments and the reputation of its age-old institutions testify to its glorious history and the character of the Venetian people, honest and hard-working, endowed with great sensitivity, with organizational ability and with what in today’s parlance is called “common sense”. This patrimony of civil, cultural and artistic traditions found fertile development thanks to its acceptance of the Christian faith, which is rooted in the very distant past, already from the time of the foundation of the first settlements on this lagoon. As the centuries passed, the faith transmitted by the first evangelizers became ever more deeply rooted in the social fabric, thus becoming an essential part of it. Visible evidence of this are the splendid churches and the many devotional aedicules along the streets, canals and bridges.

I would like in particular to recall the two important Shrines which, at different times, were built by the Venetians in compliance with a vow in order to obtain from divine Providence deliverance from the scourge of the plague: there they stand opposite this quay, the Basilica of the Redeemer and the Shrine of the Madonna della Salute, both destinations of numerous pilgrims on their respective anniversaries. Your ancestors knew well that human life is in the hands of God and that without his blessing man builds in vain. Therefore, as I visit your city, I ask the Lord to give you all a sincere and fruitful faith that is capable of nurturing great hope and a patient quest for the common good.

Dear friends, my prayer rises to God to implore him to pour out his blessings on Venice and its territory. I invite you all, dear Venetians, always to seek and to preserve harmony between the eyes of faith and reason, which enables the conscience to perceive the true good, so that the decisions of the civil community may always be inspired by ethical principles that correspond to the deep truth of human nature. Man cannot renounce the truth about himself without his sense of personal responsibility, solidarity with others and honesty in economic and working relations, suffering.

While in the evening of this day we are entering the Sunday feast, let us prepare ourselves to celebrate the weekly Easter of the Lord with the joy that characterizes the Easter Season and with the certainty that Jesus conquered death with his Resurrection and wants to make us share in his own life. As I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, I invoke the Lord’s Blessing upon this city, upon those who live in it, upon those who govern it and upon those who do their utmost to make it ever more worthy of God and of man. Thank you all and have a nice Sunday.

ASSEMBLY FOR THE CONCLUSION OF THE DIOCESAN PASTORAL VISIT Basilica of Saint Mark - Venice Third Sunday of Easter, 8 May 2011

“Magnificat anima mea Dominum”

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the words of the Virgin Mary I would like to raise with you the hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift of the Pastoral Visit, which began in the Patriarchate of Venice in 2005 and which today has reached its appropriate conclusion in this General Assembly. To God, the Giver of all good, we address our praise for having supported your spiritual resolutions and your apostolic efforts during this time of the Pastoral Visit, made by your Pastor, Cardinal Angelo Scola, whom I greet and thank for his kind words to me on behalf of you all.

With him I also greet the Auxiliary Bishop and Bishop-elect of Vicenza, the episcopal vicars and all those who have assisted in this long and complex pastoral commitment, an event of grace and a powerful ecclesial experience, in which the entire Christian people has been regenerated in faith, reaching forward with renewed enthusiasm for its mission.

And it is therefore especially to you, dear priests, religious and lay faithful, that I extend my warm greetings and sincere appreciation for your service, particularly in the smooth-running of ecclesial Assemblies. I am very pleased to greet the ancient Armenian community of Venice with the Abbot and the Mechitarist monks. A thought goes to the Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and to Bishop Nestor of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as to the representatives of the Lutheran and Anglican Communities.

Gratitude and joy are therefore the feelings that characterize our meeting. It is taking place in the sacred space, so full of art and memories, of the Basilica of San Marco, where faith and human creativity have given rise to an eloquent catechesis through images.

The Servant of God Albino Luciani, who was your unforgettable patriarch, described his first visit to this Church as a young priest: “I found myself immersed in a river of light ... At last I could see with my own eyes and enjoy the full splendour of a world of art and unique beauty, whose charm penetrates your inmost depths (Io sono il ragazzo del mio Signore, Venice-Quarto d'Altino, 1998). This temple is the image and symbol of the Church of living stones which you are, Christians of Venice. “‘[I] must stay at your house today’. So he made haste and came down and received him joyfully” (
Lc 19,5-6). How often during the Pastoral Visit, did you listen to and ponder these words, addressed by Jesus to Zacchaeus!

They have been the main theme of your community meetings, providing you with an effective stimulus to welcome the Risen Jesus, a sure way to find fullness of life and happiness. In fact, genuine human fulfilment and true joy are not found in power, success or money, but only in God, whom Jesus Christ makes known and brings close to us.

This is Zacchaeus’ experience. According to the current mentality, he has it all: power and money. He can be called a “ man who has ‘made it’”: he has worked his way up, has achieved what he wanted and could say, like the rich fool in the Gospel parable, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” (Lc 12,19). For this reason his desire to see Jesus is surprising. What impelled him to seek Jesus out? Zacchaeus realized that what he possessed was not enough, he felt the desire for more. And here was Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth, passing through Jericho, his hometown.

The echo of some unusual words spoken by Jesus had reached him: blessed are the poor, the meek, those who mourn, who hunger for righteousness. These words were strange to him, but perhaps for this very reason, were also fascinating and new. He wanted to see this Jesus. But though Zacchaeus was rich and powerful, he was short. So he ran ahead and climbed a tree, a sycamore. It did not matter to him whether he was exposing himself to ridicule: he found a way to make the meeting possible.

And Jesus arrived, he looked up at him and called him by name: “Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today” (Lc 19,5). Nothing is impossible to God! From this meeting streamed forth a new life for Zacchaeus: he welcomed Jesus with joy, discovering at last the reality that can truly and fully fill his life. He had first hand experience of salvation, was no longer the same as before. As a sign of conversion he committed himself to donating half of his possessions to the poor and giving back four-fold to those he had robbed. He found the true treasure, because the Treasure, which is Jesus, found him!

Beloved Church in Venice! Imitate the example of Zacchaeus and surpass it! Overtake the men and women of today and help them to surmount the barriers of individualism, of relativism; never let yourselves be brought low by the failures that can scar Christian communities. Strive to look closely at the person of Christ, who said: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (Jn 14,6).

As Successor of the Apostle Peter, visiting your land in these days, I repeat to each one of you: do not be afraid to swim against the tide in order to meet Jesus, to direct your attention upwards to meet his gaze. The “logo” of my Pastoral Visit portrays the scene of Mark delivering the Gospel to Peter, taken from a mosaic in this basilica. Today, symbolically, I come to redeliver the Gospel to you, the spiritual children of St Mark, in order to strengthen you in the faith and encourage you in the face of the challenges of the present time. Move ahead with confidence on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service to the poor and with courageous testimony in the various social realities. Be aware that you bear a message meant for every man and for the whole man; a message of faith, of hope and of love.

This invitation is in the first place, for you, dear priests, configured through the sacrament of Orders to Christ “Head and Shepherd” and placed as guides of his people. Recognizing the immense gift you have received, continue to carry out your ministry with generosity and dedication, seeking support both in priestly brotherhood lived as co-responsibility and cooperation, and in intense prayer and in-depth theological and pastoral renewal. An affectionate greeting to the sick and elderly priests who are united with us in spirit. This invitation is also extended to you, consecrated persons, who form a valuable spiritual resource for the entire Christian people, and who point out in a special way the importance and the possibility of total self gift to God through the profession of your vows.

Lastly, this invitation is for all of you, dear lay faithful. May you always and everywhere know how to account for the hope that is in you (cf. 1P 3,15). The Church needs your gifts and your enthusiasm. Know how to say “yes” to Christ who calls you to be his disciples, to be holy. I would remind you, once again, that “holiness” does not mean doing extraordinary things, but following the will of God every day, living one’s own vocation really well, with the help of prayer, of the Word of God, the sacraments and with the daily effort for consistency. Yes, it takes lay faithful who are fascinated by the ideal of “holiness”, to build a society worthy of man, a civilization of love.

During the Pastoral Visit you paid special attention to the testimony that your Christian communities are called upon to give, beginning with the faithful who are more motivated and aware. In this regard, you are rightly concerned to revive the evangelization and catechesis of adults and of the younger generations beginning with small communities of adults and parents, who, being domestic as it were, can live the logic of the Christian event first and foremost by witnessing to communion and love.

I urge you to spare no energy in proclaiming the Gospel and in Christian education, promoting both catechesis at all levels, and the cultural and educational contributions that make up your considerable spiritual heritage. May you be able to devote special attention to the Christian formation of children, adolescents and young people. They need effective points of reference: be an example to them of human and Christian coherence. During the course of the Pastoral Visit the need for an ever greater commitment in love, experienced as a free and generous gift of self, also emerged as well as the need to demonstrate clearly the missionary face of the parish to the point of creating pastoral realities which, without sacrificing pervasiveness, should be more capable of apostolic zeal.

Dear friends, the mission of the Church bears fruit because Christ is truly present among us in a quite special way in the Holy Eucharist. His is a dynamic presence which grasps us in order to make us his, to liken us to him. Christ draws us to himself, he brings us out of ourselves to make us all one with him. In this way he also inserts us into the community of brothers and sisters: communion with the Lord is always also communion with others.

For this reason our spiritual life depends essentially on the Eucharist. Without it, faith and hope are extinguished, love cools. I therefore urge you increasingly to pay special attention to the quality of Eucharistic celebrations, especially those on Sunday, so that the day of the Lord is lived fully and may illuminate the happenings and activities of daily life. From the Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of divine love, you can tap into the energy needed to bring Christ to others and to bring others to Christ, to be daily witnesses of charity and solidarity and to share the goods that Providence gives you with brothers and sisters who lack the necessities of life.

Dear friends, I assure you of my prayers that the demanding journey of growth in communion which you have made in these years of the Pastoral Visit, may renew the life of faith of your particular church as a whole and, at the same time, may kindle a more selfless dedication to service of God and neighbour.

May Most Holy Mary, whom you honour with the title “Virgin Nicopeja”, whose evocative image is resplendent in this Basilica, obtain for all of you and for the entire diocesan community complete fidelity to Christ. I commend the journey that awaits you to the intercession of the heavenly Mother of the Redeemer and to the support of the saints and blesseds of your land, while with affection I impart to you and to the whole Church of St Mark a special Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the sick, to prisoners and to all suffering in body and in spirit.

Speeches 2005-13 7051