Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 14 September 2002
To Reverend Mother Sister Fabiola Detomi
Superior General of the Institute of the Minim Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage
1. First of all, I want to send my best wishes and greetings to you on the occasion of the General Chapter of your Congregation. I also address them to the sisters called to the service of guiding and directing your religious family, encouraging them to carry out with a generous spirit the delicate task of governance entrusted to them. I greet the chapter sisters, hoping that the experience of these intense days spent in Rome may be a source of human and spiritual enrichment. Lastly, cordial greetings with the assurance of my fatherly support, to each of the Minim Sisters of Our Lady of Suffrage who work in Italy, Argentina, Colombia and Romania.
The Chapter Assembly is an important opportunity to reflect on the ground the community has travelled, and to work out projects of apostolic service in fidelity to the original charism of the institute. The theme: "Witnessing to Christ, our Hope, in a changing world" is attuned with the pastoral guidelines of the Italian Bishops for the first decade of the new century and millennium.
Reverend Mother, it is the common intention of this religious family, after the Chapter break, to return with renewed enthusiasm to its daily activities, underlining that Christ, our Hope, is at the basis of all of life and is the goal to which all tend. His mysterious presence keeps alive the eschatological tension which must motivate every believer. Your congregation considers the eschatological tension of human existence as one of the very basic attitudes that it has inherited from your blessed founder.
2. A life woven with hope was the life of Bl. Francesco Faà di Bruno, whom I had the joy to raise to the honours of the altar on 25 September 1988. Impelled by the inner desire to cooperate in the salvation of his brethren, he was concerned with their final destiny. Man's ultimate goal is the meeting with God, a meeting that one needs to prepare for from now on with a constant ascetical effort, rejecting evil and doing good.
From his youth, Francesco Faà di Bruno was anxious to work for the salvation of souls and for this reason, even before founding the Congregation, he built a church in Turin dedicated to Our Lady of Suffrage. Concern for prayer for the souls of Purgatory is your specific charism, Reverend Mother and dear sisters, which impels you to pray constantly for those who have gone before us. The same charismatic intuition is a concrete incentive to fill every one of our earthly days with the goods that do not fade or spoil.
You deal with an important truth that you intend to proclaim by your evangelizing activities, sustained by prayer and accompanied by accepting and offering to God your suffering, in union with Christ's sacrifice so that souls may be saved. The first and highest form of love for our brothers and sisters is the burning desire for their eternal salvation. Christian love knows no bounds and is removed from the bounds of space and time, allowing us to love those who have already left this earth.
3. Dear sisters in Christ, keep intact the spirit of your founder! I want to repeat to you my words on the day of his beatification. "Francesco Faà di Bruno", I said, is "a giant of faith and charity", for his message of light and love, "far from being exhausted, seems timelier than ever, urging all those who have Gospel values at heart to action" (Homily, 25 September, n. 4; ORE, 24 October 1988, p. 15).
Following in his footsteps, advance with fidelity and courage on the way you have taken, drawing light and strength from his teaching, making living and current his extraordinary experience and shining inheritance. Above all, be tireless, joyful heralds of hope for humanity in our time, who all too often are discouraged by violence and injustices and locked into mere earth-bound horizons.
By imitating your Blessed Founder, may you be the first to be renewed in hope so that, in turn, in the Church and in the world you can be fruitful messengers of hope. May you have a great "thirst" to save souls, helping every brother and sister to discover the "not yet" and the eternal "life above" towards which we are all journeying. The eternal future is built here and now, in time with our daily efforts.
With these sentiments and hopes, dear Sisters, I ask for you, your communities and all those you meet in your daily service, the heavenly intercession of Our Lady of Suffrage and of blessed Francesco Faà di Bruno, as I wholeheartedly bless you and your loved ones.
From Castel Gandolfo, 2 September 2002.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to receive the members of the Committee of Directors, trainers and players of the Fútbol Club Real Madrid, and the fans who have accompanied them. I am grateful to the President of the Club for the cordial words he used to present your sentiments.
As I pointed out during the Jubilee of the World of Sport, the Church considers sports as an instrument of education when they foster high human and spiritual ideals and when they form young people in an integral way to develop in such values as loyalty, perseverance, friendship, solidarity and peace. Because they jump over cultural differences and ideologies, sports can be a good opportunity for dialogue and understanding among peoples to build the desired civilization of love (cf. Address to Convention held during the Jubilee for the World of Sport, 28 October; ORE, 15 November 2000, p. 9; cf. Mass for the Jubilee for the World of Sport, 29 October; ORE, 1 November 2000, p.1).
I therefore invite you to practice these values, that correspond to the high dignity of the human person, when you face possible interests that can tarnish the nobility of your sport.
May Our Lady, the Virgin of the Almudena, Patroness of Madrid, accompany you! As I thank you once again for your visit, with affection I impart to you my Apostolic Blessing and extend it to your families.
To Reverend Mother Sr Tomasina Gheduzzi
Superior General of the Congregation of the
Sisters Servants of the Sick of St Camillus
1. On the occasion of the General Chapter for which you and the delegates are meeting in these days, I am delighted to send a greeting to each of you, with the assurance of my spiritual closeness.
You come from different countries in Europe, Latin America, Africa and South-East Asia: through each one of you, I would like to greet all your sisters and the ecclesial communities in which you are at the service of the sick and the suffering.
The Chapter is a suitable occasion on which to pray and reflect upon the issues that challenge the Church and the world at this special historical moment. It is a chance for you to contemplate more deeply the charism that distinguishes you and to adapt it to current needs.
Thinking of you, I immediately recall 6 May 1995, when I had the joy of beatifying your foundress, Mother Maria Domenica Brun Barbantini. With deep pleasure I discovered that the event of grace was for the whole Congregation reason for renewed inspiration that impelled you to become more familiar with your charism and your spirituality, in order to draw from their roots a genuine nourishment so that your daily life and work might benefit from its vigour and light.
2. At this point, it is easier to understand the theme you have chosen for your 32nd General Chapter: "Towards a new Rule of life". Your new aim is not that of changing your original orientation, but, on the contrary, it is the outcome of exacting and enthusiastic research into your sources, a result that, if possible, seeks to be more faithful to your roots, to the gift that the Lord entrusted to Bl. Maria Domenica and her companions for the good of the Church and of humanity.
From the small group of women who, with Maria Domenica, wanted to call themselves "oblate nurses" and, thanks to the discernment and encouragement of the Pastors of the Church, an institute arose from the small group of women that today is present in nine countries on three continents.
The Holy Spirit, who always "draws" from the inexhaustible riches of Christ to distribute in the Church new gifts of light and grace (cf. Jn Jn 16,14), planted in the heart and life of the foundress a special vocation for serving the sick, in imitation of Christ, and in continuation of his ministry, who bent over every human illness to cure it with his divine power (cf. Lk Lc 10,30-35 Mt 4,23). In his overflowing mercy, the Son of God made himself close to us by becoming himself the "suffering servant" for our healing. For this reason, in the least of our brothers in difficulty, he is present and waits for us to open our hearts to him. If we offer him the "little" that we are and have, we receive in return the "all" that he is.
3. As the Blessed Foundress wrote in the Rule, the Sisters must act in this spirit: they "will serve our Lord in the person of the poor sick with generosity and purity of intention, ever ready to risk their own lives out of love for Jesus who died on the Cross for us" (I, 11). To be able to be faithful to this vocation, it is indispensable to nourish one's personal life with prayer and, especially, with devout participation in the Holy Eucharist, in which, every day, Jesus makes sacramentally present the saving miracle of his passion, death and resurrection. By remaining closely united and configured to him, you will be his hands, his eyes and his heart, for multitudes of our brothers and sisters, after the shining example of St Camillus of Lellis.
May witnessing to (divine) charity be the constant goal of your congregation, dear sisters, a charity that knows no bounds and speaks the language of every region of the earth. Contemporary humanity, tried as it is by old and new forms of misery and poverty, more than ever needs to experience God's love and mercy. It needs to feel loved, if it is to love and welcome life.
Unfortunately, you work where there are many serious attacks on life, the fruit of a culture of death that tends to become more widespread in societies infected by materialism and hedonistic consumerism. Continue, dear sisters, to keep this in mind and to work generously on this apostolic "front". It is a matter of urgent pastoral need, that has to be faced with professional competence and apostolic zeal.
4. To be able to carry out such a demanding mission, you will need to be committed to formation on a broad scale and, appropriately, your Chapter intends to stress this priority. It is necessary to foster the spiritual life and, in wise harmony with it, the cultural, professional and apostolic dimensions and that of your specific charism (cf. Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita consecrata VC 71). Moreover, you must pay special attention to community life; indeed, it is an integral and decisive part of ecclesial witness, especially in a community of consecrated life that is called to be a prophetic sign in the midst of the People of God.
Dear Sisters, with these thoughts I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer so that the serene and strong light of the Holy Spirit may shine on each of you and on the work of the Chapter.
May the Blessed Virgin Mary, Health of the Sick, assist you and make all your initiatives prosper. May she give you the joy and love of serving her divine Son in your needy neighbour. May my Apostolic Blessing, which I cordially impart to you and to your entire religious family, be a comfort to you.
From Castel Gandolfo, 12 September, 2002.
1. The meeting of the two General Chapters of the venerable Cistercian Order of Strict Observance gives me the pleasant opportunity of meeting you, dear abbots, abbesses and representatives of the Trappist monks and nuns.
Thank you for this visit with which you desire to renew your faithful loyalty to the Successor of Peter. I greet each one of you with affection. I especially thank Fr Bernardo Olivera who has expressed your common sentiments and illustrated the purpose and objectives of your meeting.
Through you, I greet the confreres and sisters of your monasteries in every part of the world. The Pope is grateful to you because, from the silence of your cloisters, you offer an unceasing prayer for his ministry and for the intentions and needs of the entire ecclesial community.
2. Dear brothers and sisters! In these days, you have gathered to reflect on how to ensure that your common spiritual heritage while keeping its original spirit intact may be more responsive to the needs of the present time. Humanity, following up on the recent tragic events whose anniversary we observe these days, seems confused and in search of certainties: it longs for truth, it aspires to peace.
But where should we seek a sure refuge if not in God? Only in divine mercy - as I recalled in my recent journey to Poland - can the world find peace and the human person happiness. Down through the ages, your monasteries have been extraordinary witnesses to this secret, hidden from the learned and the clever but revealed to children (cf. Mt Mt 11,25).
In fact, from the beginning, the Cistercians have been distinguished by a sort of "mystical passion", showing how the sincere search for God on an austere ascetical path leads to the ineffable joy of the spousal union with him in Christ. In this regard St Bernard teaches that those who thirst after the Lord no longer have anything of their own and henceforth have all in common with God. He adds that the soul, in this situation, "it is not for liberty that she asks, nor for an award, not for an inheritance nor even knowledge, but for a kiss [of God]. It is obviously the request of a bride who is chaste, who breathes forth a love that is holy, a love whose ardor she cannot entirely disguise" (Bernard, Super cantica canticorum, 7,2; Song of Songs 1P 39, Cistercian Publications, Kalamazoo, Michigan 1981).
3. This lofty spirituality keeps its full value as a witness in today's cultural situation, which all too often kindles the desire for deceptive goods and artificial paradises. Dear brothers and sisters, in fact your vocation is that of witnessing with your life of recollection in Trappist houses to the high ideal of holiness summed up in an unconditional love for God, infinite goodness, and, as a reflection, a love that in prayer mystically embraces all humanity.
Your distinctive life style clearly emphasizes these two basic structural coordinates of love. You do not live as hermits in a community, but as cenobites in a special kind of desert. God manifests himself in your personal solitude, as well as in the solidarity that unites you to the members of the community. You are alone and separated from the world in order to advance further on the path of divine intimacy. At the same time, you share this spiritual experience with other brothers and sisters in a constant balance between personal contemplation and union with the liturgy of the Church.
Keep this charismatic patrimony unchanged! It constitutes a treasure for the entire Christian people.
4. Today, the growth of the Order, especially in the Far East, brings you into contact with the different religious traditions, a fact that obliges you to engage in a wise and prudent dialogue, so that everywhere the one light of Christ may shine out in the plurality of cultures. Jesus is the radiant Sun of whom the Church must be the faithful reflection, in accord with the expression "mysterium lunae" (mystery of the moon), an expression that the Fathers cherished. This task, as I wrote in my Apostolic Letter "Novo Millennio ineunte", makes one tremble if one takes human weakness into account, but becomes possible when one is open to the renewing grace of God (cf. n. 55).
Brothers and sisters, do not be discouraged with the difficulties and trials, no matter how painful they might be. In this regard, I am thinking of the seven monks of Notre-Dame d'Atlas, in Tibhirine, Algeria, who were brutally killed in May 1996. May the blood shed be the seed of many holy vocations for your monasteries in Europe, where the aging of the communities of monks and nuns is more noticeable, and in other parts of the world where there is a greater urgency of ensuring the formation of many aspirants to Cistercian life. I also hope that a more organic coordination of the different branches of the Order will make more significant the witness to your common charism.
5. "Duc in altum!" (Lc 5,4). Dear Brothers and Sisters, I also address to you Jesus' invitation to put out into the deep; this invitation re-echoed once again for the entire Christian people at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000. Do advance without fear on the road you have taken, encouraged by the "good zeal" of which St Benedict speaks in his Rule, putting absolutely nothing before Christ (cf. chap. LXXII).
May the prudent Virgin Mary, accompany you and, with her, may the Order's saints and blesseds protect you. The Pope assures you of his constant remembrance in prayer while he cordially blesses those of you present and your monastic communities.
To Reverend Mother Sister Aurelia Damiani
Superior General of the Congregation of the Hospital Sisters of Mercy
1. I am pleased to address a cordial thought to you and your Sisters as you observe your 42nd General Chapter, that sees you involved in a harmonious search for the will of God for your institute at this special time in history, the beginning of a new millennium.
I wish to express my fatherly gratitude to all the Hospital Sisters of Mercy who carry out their Mission in Italy and in other nations. How valuable dear Sisters, is the service you offer to so many persons in need, performed with great pastoral zeal. How praiseworthy is your mission! Working in the world of the hospital, you bring relief to the sick and the suffering and for them you are the witness of the divine mercy that provides. Always keep alive this special charism, sealed by the bond of a special vow.
Christ sends you as his witnesses of "creativity in charity' to the world of the hospital
2. Every day, at the bedside of the sick and in your contact with their families and with health-care personnel, you have a chance to bring to each one an eloquent Gospel witness in full fidelity to Christ's mandate: "Go into the world, preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick" (cf. Lk Lc 9,1-2).
This is one of the more urgent forms of evangelization, and, as you had the opportunity of reaffirming during the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 and now during this Chapter, your religious family intends to devote itself to this form, exploring the meaning and practical ways of carrying out your mission. You will thus exercise the ""creativity' in charity" which I expounded in my Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte, recommending that it be carried out "not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by "getting close' to those who suffer" (n. 50). The theme of the Chapter fits into this perspective: "Rooted in charity, to live and witness to the Mercy of Christ, the Good Samaritan of all times and all cultures".
By word and example, you must assure your brothers and sisters in need that "apart from the mercy of God there is no other source of hope for mankind" (John Paul II, Homily at the Mass for the consecration of the Shrine of Divine Mercy at Kraków-Lagiewniki, 17 August 2002, n. 1; ORE, 21 August 2002, p. 6).
3. You have lived your whole history along these lines from the beginning when you were founded to nurse the sick in the Papal States. Indeed, recognizing the urgent needs of the time, Princess Teresa Orsini in Doria Pamphilj, assisted by Cardinal Giuseppe Antonio Sala and under the aegis of Pope Pius VII, founded your congregation in the Hospital of St John in Rome. With you I thank the Lord who, through his Spirit, brought forth your institute in the Church to serve Christ in the sick, and I wish to encourage you to live up to this commitment of love and fidelity to God and to the Church, bringing to life in today's situation your specific, distinguishing charism that is a gift for society as a whole.
The challenge of inculturation today requires that believers proclaim the Good News in language and ways that the people of our time can understand. An urgent mission and vast apostolic horizons also unfold before you, dear Hospital Sisters of Mercy. From a discerning attention to the modern social and cultural realities will spring the concrete directions for making the presence of your institute more effective in the sector of health care and, at the same time, ready to identify more suitable methods of apostolic activity.
Always keep before your eyes the suffering face of Christ. Every day set out from him with humble courage to be witnesses to his merciful love in the vast field of sickness and suffering. As I wrote in the Letter Novo Millennio ineunte which I quoted earlier, "it is not therefore a matter of inventing a "new programme'. The programme already exists: it is the plan found in the Gospel and in the living Tradition, it is the same as ever. Ultimately, it has its centre in Christ himself" (n. 29).
4. I well know, Reverend Mother, how precious is the work of those who serve the sick daily, and I realize how many difficulties they have to face. You will find the strength to overcome them all if you strive to see Christ in every person. For this reason, the spiritual tension can never be absent from your difficult apostolic activity. You should therefore live your day in intense and watchful prayer. May contemplation sustain your action.
Mary, our Mother of Mercy, is the model in whom you will find inspiration, she is an image of living obedience to God's will. I entrust your General Chapter to her, so that wise and courageous decisions for the entire institute may result from it: decisions that you should make with your gaze fixed on the face of Christ.
With these sentiments, I cordially impart to you and to your Council, to the Chapter and to all the Hospital Sisters of Mercy a special Apostolic Blessing.
From Castel Gandolfo, 14 September 2002
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
1. I am delighted to receive you today, Archbishops and Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Regions West 1 and West 2, which correspond respectively to Mato Grosso and Southern Mato Grosso. You have come to Rome to renew your faith at the tombs of the Apostles. The Diocese of Juína and the Prelature of Paranatinga, established during the past five years, come on their first ad limina visit, which all Bishops make to strengthen their bond of communion with the Successor of Peter.
I thank Archbishop Bonifácio Piccinini of Cuiabá for his greeting on your behalf; and I thank each one of you for giving me the opportunity, in our personal meetings, to know the sentiments of the communities you serve as Pastors and thus to share in your desire that your flock may grow "in every way into him who is the head, into Christ" (Ep 4,15).
To encourage your pastoral solicitude, I would now like to share some thoughts with you, prompted by the concrete situation in which you exercise the ministry of making known and "declaring the mystery of Christ" (Col 4,3).
2. The ad limina visit of the successive large groups of Pastors who make up the Episcopate of Brazil, thanks to many personal conversations, contribute to a strong experience of affective and effective communion, that I wished to emphasize in my last meeting with the group from the Amazonia region. With pleasure I learn about the work you are doing both jointly and in your single dioceses to forge an ecclesial community full of vitality and intent on evangelization, which lives a profound Christian experience that is nourished by the Word of God, prayer and the sacraments in accord with the Gospel values lived in their personal, family and social life.
In the context of your vast and binding responsibility, I wish in particular to reflect on the collaboration of lay people in diocesan life and, especially, with the sacred ministry of priests.
Special feature of laity is to seek the Kingdom of God engaging in temporal affairs
That your country has the largest number of baptized Catholics in the whole world is no big surprise. After the Second Vatican Council, the Synod of Bishops in 1987 and the resulting Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles laici highlighted the fact that the identity of lay people is based on the "radical newness of the Christian life that comes from Baptism" (Christifideles laici CL 10). The call to all the members of the Mystical Body of Christ to take an active part in building up the People of God has been repeated in the documents of the Magisterium (cf. Lumen gentium LG 3 Apostolicam actuositatem AA 24).
3. In 1997, the Magisterium presented once again the principle of the different identities, common dignity and mission and difference of functions of the laity, sacred ministers and religious (cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, Instruction on Certain questions regarding the Collaboration of the Non-Ordained Faithful in the Sacred Ministry of Priests, Premiss). It is important to reflect on this collaboration in order to put it into practice in the most appropriate way, especially in the communities that normally constitute the life of the dioceses and in which their members actively collaborate.
The Church is born from the "utterly free and mysterious decree of his own wisdom and goodness" of the Father (Lumen gentium LG 2) to save all people through his Son and in the Holy Spirit. "De unitate Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti plebs adunata" (a people made one with the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit), the Bishop and Martyr, St Cyprian says, describing the Church (De Orat. dom. 23; PL 4, 553). In founding his Church, Christ does not make her a simple institution that would be juridically self-sustaining, into which human beings would be inserted to obtain salvation. She is far more than all this. The Father has called men and women to build a People of sons in the Son, in Christ, through the immolated flesh of his Son made man: in other words, so that they might become the Body of Christ.
The Council opened itself to a positive vision of the specific character of the laity: its special feature is to "seek the Kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God" (Lumen gentium LG 31). All those who live in the world and from it draw the raw material of their sanctification, seek to transform human realities in order to foster the common good of the family, of society and of politics, but, above all, to elevate them to God glorifying the Creator and living in a Christian way in the world.
Some of the Bishops present here may recall that at my Meeting with the Catholic laity in Campo Grande in 1991, I wished to cite the "various forms of the organic participation of the laity in the single mission of the Church as communion" (Discourse to Catholic Laity, Campo Grande, Brazil, 17 October, n. 1; ORE, 28 October 1991, p. 12).
The Church has the goal of continuing in the world Christ's saving mission. In the course of history, she is dedicated to fulfilling this mandate with the light of the Holy Spirit through the action of her members, within the limits of the proper function that each one exercises within the Mystical Body of Christ.
4. Among the objectives of the liturgical reform established by the Second Vatican Council, there was the need to bring all the faithful to "that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy. Such participation by the Christian people as "a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a purchased people' (1P 2,9), is their right and duty by reason of their baptism" (Sacrosanctum concilium SC 14).
In practice, however, in the years following the Council, with the goal of realizing this mandate, what took place was an arbitrary "confusion of roles especially rearding the priestly ministry and the role of the laity indiscriminate, shared recitation of the Eucharistic Prayer, homilies given by lay people, lay people distributing communion while the priests refrain from doing so" (Congregation for the Sacraments and Divine Worship, Inaestimabile Donum, Instruction Concerning Worship of the Eucharistic Mystery, Foreword; ORE, 9 June 1980, p. 10).
These serious practical abuses have often originated in doctrinal errors, especially with regard to the nature of the liturgy, the common priesthood of Christians, of the vocation and mission and of the laity and the ordained ministry of priests.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, as you know, the Council held that the liturgy is "an exercise of the priestly office of Jesus Christ", which involves "the sanctification of man ... manifested by signs perceptible to the senses, and is effected in a way which is proper to each of these signs; in the liturgy full public worship is performed by the Mystical Body of Jesus Christ, that is, by the Head and His members" (Sacrosanctum concilium SC 7).
Redemption is fully accomplished by Christ. Indeed, in this great work in which God is perfectly glorified and men are sanctified, Christ always associates the Church, his beloved Bride with himself (cf. ibid., n. 7). Through the liturgy, the Lord "continues the work of our redemption in, with and through his Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 1069).
The liturgy is the action of the whole Mystical Body of Christ, Head and members (ibid., n. 1070). It is the action of all the faithful, because they all participate in the priesthood of Christ (cf. ibid., n. 1141 and 1273). However, all do not have the same function, because all do not participate in the same way in the priesthood of Christ. Through Baptism, all the faithful share in the priesthood of Christ; this is what has been called the "common priesthood of the faithful". In addition to this priesthood and to serve it, there is another form of participation in Christ's mission: the ministry conferred with the Sacrament of Orders (Catechism of the Catholic Church, CEC 1591), or the "ministerial Priesthood". "The common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood are nonetheless related to each other. Each of them in its own special way is a participation in the one priesthood of Christ. The ministerial priest, by the sacred power he enjoys, moulds and rules the priestly people. Acting in the person of Christ, he brings about the Eucharistic Sacrifice, and offers it to God in the name of all the people. For their part, the faithful join in the offering of the Eucharist by virtue of their royal priesthood. They likewise exercise that priesthood by receiving the sacraments, by prayer and thanksgiving, by the witness of a holy life, and by self-denial and active charity" (Lumen gentium LG 10).
5. To prescind from this essential difference and mutual relationship of the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the faithful to each other has had immediate repercussions on liturgical celebrations that are the actions of the organically structured Church.
I wanted to recall these declarations of the Magisterium of the Church, certain that, although you know them yourselves, you will once more explain them clearly, so that lay people may avoid exercising in the liturgy the functions that belong exclusively to the ministerial priest since he alone acts specifically in persona Christi capitis (in the person of Christ the head).
I have already had occasion to refer to the confusion and the idea of an equivalence between the common priesthood and the ministerial priesthood. I have also mentioned the scarse observance of certain ecclesiastical norms and laws, the arbitrary interpretion of the concept of "supply", to the tendency toward the "clericalization" of the lay faithful etc., pointing out that "it is also necessary that Pastors guard against a facile yet abusive recourse to a presumed "situation of emergency' or to "supply by necessity' where objectively this does not exist or where alternative possibilities could exist through better pastoral planning" (Christifideles laici CL 23).
I wish to recall here that non ordained lay persons can exercise tasks and functions of collaboration in the pastoral service when they have been properly prepared for that by their Pastors and in accord with the prescriptions of law (can. 228 1). Likewise, those who do not have an active or passive voice in Presbyteral Councils are deacons, non-ordained members of the faithful, priests who have lost the clerical state or in some way have abandoned the sacred ministry (cf. Ecclesiae de mysterio, Art. 5).
Lastly, I also remind you that the members of Diocesan or Parochial Pastoral Councils only enjoy a consultative vote, which for that reason cannot become deliberative (ibid.).
The Bishop will listen to the faithful, clergy and laity to form an opinion, even if the latter cannot formulate the definitive judgement of the Church, which belongs only to the Bishop to discern and pronounce, not as a mere matter of conscience, but as the Teacher of the Faith (cann. 212 and 512 2). In this way one will avoid viewing the Pastoral Council in a restrictive way as the representative body or spokesman for the faithful of the diocese.
6. In a broad context, without wishing to depart from the considerations I have just made, I would also like to bring up the issue of the revival of the permanent diaconate for married men, which after the Council has greatly enriched the mission of the Church.
In fact, the Catechism of the Catholic Church considers it appropriate and useful ... "in the liturgical and pastoral life ... in its social and charitable works" (n. 1571). There is no doubt that the collaboration which the permanent deacon offers to the Church, especially where there is a shortage of priests, is a great blessing for ecclesial life. In Brazil you have set up the National Commission of Deacons with the task of making sure that their characteristic service may be put into practice, under the authority of the bishops, where it is requested for the good of the faithful. Of course, the service of the permanent deacon is, and always will be, limited to the prescriptions of law, since it is for priests to exercise the full ministerial power. In this way one will avoid the risk of ambiguity that can confuse the faithful, especially in liturgical celebrations.
Pastors must also feel the need to foster the pastoral care of the vocations of the young men who, out of love for God and his Church, want to dedicate themselves in real and definitive apostolic celibacy with moral rectitude and true spiritual freedom for the sake of God. The proposal of priestly celibacy that the Church makes is clear in its requirements: priests must embrace perfect continence for the Kingdom of Heaven.
7. At the end of this meeting, I warmly ask you to convey my cordial remembrance to the members of your dioceses in Mato Grosso. I am thinking in particular of young people, setting out on their ecclesial journey. May you share in the experience of those older diocesan communities, and be encouraged to live with joy your faith in Christ our Saviour.
I entrust your resolutions and pastoral plans to the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who is always invoked in Brazil with great fervour as the Senhora Aparecida. I likewise take this opportunity to greet the priests, all the ministers of the Church, the permanent deacons, the communities of consecrated persons, the parishes, the Christian Associations, the families, the elderly, and all who are suffering from every kind of physical or moral pain. I gladly remember the young people and children, the object of my great hopes; lastly, I assure all of your diocesans of Mato Grosso and Southern Mato Grosso of my affection and encouragement to live their Christian vocation in union with God our Lord and with the Successor of Peter, with the Apostolic Blessing that I cordially impart to them.
Speeches 2002 - Saturday, 14 September 2002