Speeches 2004 - Tuesday, 27 April 2004
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. To you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Baltimore and Washington, “beloved of God and called to holiness” (cf. Rom Rm 1,7), I offer a cordial greeting in the Lord. May your pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul, and this visit with the Successor of Peter, strengthen you in the Catholic faith which comes from the Apostles (cf. Eucharistic Prayer I) and in joyful witness to the grace of the Risen Christ!
This year, in my meetings with the various groups of Bishops from the United States making their visit ad limina Apostolorum, I wish to reflect on the mystery of the Church and, in particular, the exercise of the episcopal ministry. It is my hope that these reflections will serve as a point of departure for your own personal meditation and prayer, and thus contribute to a pastoral discernment helpful for the renewal and the building up of the Church in the United States.
Let us begin, then, with a consideration of the Bishop’s munus sanctificandi, that is, the service to the holiness of Christ’s Church which he is called to render as a herald of the Gospel, a steward of the mysteries of God (cf. 1Co 4,1) and the spiritual father of the flock entrusted to his care.
2. The sanctifying mission of the Bishop finds its source in the indefectible holiness of the Church. Because “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her” (Ep 5,25-26), she has been endowed with unfailing holiness and has become herself, “in Christ and through Christ, the source and origin of all holiness” (Lumen Gentium LG 47). This fundamental truth of the faith, reaffirmed in every recitation of the Creed, needs to be more clearly understood and appreciated by all the members of Christ’s Body, for it is an essential part of the Church’s self-awareness and the basis of her universal mission.
The Church’s belief in her own holiness is before all else a humble confession of God’s merciful fidelity to his plan of salvation in Christ. Seen in this light, the holiness of the Church becomes a source of gratitude and joy for the completely unmerited gift of redemption and new life which we have received in Christ through the apostolic preaching and the sacraments of the new and eternal Covenant. Reborn in the Holy Spirit and made adoptive children of the Father in his beloved Son, we have become a kingdom of priests, a holy people (cf. Ex Ex 19,6 Ap 5,10), called to offer ourselves “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (cf. Rom Rm 12,1) in intercession for the whole human family.
At the same time, the holiness of the Church on earth remains real yet imperfect (Lumen Gentium LG 8). Her holiness is both gift and call, a constitutive grace and a summons to constant fidelity to that grace. The Second Vatican Council, as the foundation of its program for the renewal of the Church’s witness to Christ before the world, held out to all the baptized the high ideal of God’s universal call to holiness. The Council reaffirmed that “all Christians in any state or walk of life are called to the fullness of Christian life and to the perfection of charity” (Lumen Gentium LG 40) and it invited every member of the Church to an honest recognition of sin and the need for constant conversion along the path of penance and renewal.
The grandeur of faith’s vision of the Church’s unfailing holiness and the realistic acknowledgment of the sinfulness of her members should inspire in all a greater commitment to fidelity in the Christian life.In particular, it summons us, as Bishops, to a continuing discernment about the direction and goal of our activity as ministers of the grace of Christ. The challenge set before us and before the whole Church both by the Council and the Great Jubilee remains as valid as ever: the life of every Christian and all the structures of the Church must be clearly ordered to the pursuit of holiness.
3. The pursuit of personal holiness must be central to the life and identity of every Bishop. He is to recognize his own need to be sanctified as he engages in the sanctification of others. The Bishop himself is first and foremost a Christian – vobiscum sum Christianus (cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 340.1) – called to the obedience of faith (cf. Rom Rm 1,5), consecrated by baptism and given new life in the Holy Spirit. At the same time, thanks to the grace of his Ordination and the sacred character which it imprints, each Bishop stands in the place of Christ himself and acts in his person (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 21). Thus, he is called to progress along a specific path of holiness (Pastores Gregis ): the soul of his apostolate must be that pastoral charity which conforms his heart to the heart of Christ in a sacrificial love for the Church and all her members.
The most recent Synod of Bishops insisted that the objective sanctification which derives from ordination and the exercise of the episcopal ministry is to coincide with the subjective sanctification in which the Bishop, with the help of God’s grace, must continuously progress (cf. Pastores Gregis ). Accordingly, the unifying principle of the Bishop’s ministry will be his contemplation of the face of Christ and his proclamation of his Gospel of salvation: a dynamic interplay of prayer and work which will spiritually enrich both his outward activity and his interior life.
4. The Synod in fact challenged Bishops to become ever more attentive hearers of the word of God through daily prayer and the contemplative reading of Holy Scripture. Indeed, for the renewal of the Church in holiness, it is essential that the Bishop must not only be one who contemplates; he must also be a teacher of the way of contemplation (cf. Pastores Gregis ). His prayer should be nourished above all by the Eucharist: “not only when he stands before the People of God as sacerdos et pontifex, but also by spending a fair amount of his time in adoration before the tabernacle” (ibid., 16). For his prayer to find its culmination and fulfillment in the Eucharist, it must also be nourished by regular recourse to the sacrament of Penance and, in a special way, by the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours. His whole life of prayer, whether personal or liturgical, will thus become a source of apostolic fruitfulness, since it is presented to the Father in the Holy Spirit as intercession for the entire Body of Christ.
For this reason, the Bishop will surely cultivate an ecclesial spirituality, “since everything in his life is directed to building up the Church in love” (Pastores Gregis ). At the very beginning of the recent Synod of Bishops, I wished to link this attitude of service to the ecclesial community to the adoption of a lifestyle which imitates the poverty of Christ, and I invited the Bishops to “verify to what extent a personal and community conversion to an effective evangelical poverty has taken place in the Church” (Opening Homily, 30 September 2001, 3). At this time I encourage you and your brother Bishops to undertake such a discernment with regard to the practical exercise of the episcopal ministry in your country, in order to ensure that it will be seen ever more clearly as a form of sacrificial service in the midst of Christ’s flock. This will surely bear abundant fruit by providing greater inner freedom in the exercise of the ministry, a more evangelical witness to Jesus Christ, “who carried out the work of redemption in poverty and oppression” (Lumen Gentium LG 8), and a greater solidarity with the struggles and sufferings of the poor.
5. I am deeply convinced that, in a Church constantly called to interior renewal and prophetic witness, the exercise of episcopal authority must be built upon the testimony of personal holiness. The great challenge of the new evangelization to which the Church is called in our time requires a credibility born of personal fidelity to the Gospel and the demands of Christian discipleship. In the memorable words of Pope Paul VI, “it is primarily by her conduct and her life that the Church will evangelize the world, namely, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus – the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, by the witness of her holiness” (Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 41).
As we ponder in faith God’s plan for a human family reconciled and made one in Christ, of which the Church is the sacrament and prophetic foreshadowing, we can see ever more clearly the inseparable relationship between holiness and the Church’s mission (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 90). An essential part of the new evangelization must therefore be a new zeal for holiness, which inspires all our initiatives and finds practical expression in a renewal of faith and Christian life. Let us not neglect the prophetic summons addressed to the whole Church through the experience of the Great Jubilee: the Church is called to offer a genuine “training in holiness” adapted to the needs of all and to ensure that every Christian community becomes a genuine school of prayer and personal sanctification (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 33).
6. This, then, is the great challenge facing the Church at the dawn of the new millennium and the sure path to her authentic interior renewal. As the Catholic community in the United States strives under your leadership to take up this challenge, I assure you of my prayers that you and all the clergy, religious and lay faithful entrusted to your pastoral care will grow daily in holiness and become an authentic leaven of the Gospel in American society.
Dear Brothers, in your efforts to carry out your demanding ministry of sanctification in the Church in America, you are blessed to have an outstanding model of episcopal sanctity in Saint John Neumann, whose life was spent in generous and unassuming service to his flock. Inspired by his example and guided by his prayers, may you grow daily in the grace of your ministry, so that you may ever fulfill the perfect duty of pastoral love (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 41). Commending all of you to his intercession, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.
Venerable Brother Bishop,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I receive you with great joy. Welcome!
You have come to consign the document of honorary citizenship which the city of Dubrovnik has wished to grant me as a confirmation of the deep bonds that throughout the centuries have united it to the Pontiffs, and to commemorate the Pastoral Visit I had the joy of making on 6 June of last year. I still vividly remember the various moments of that Apostolic Pilgrimage, on which precisely in Dubrovnik I proclaimed Blessed an illustrious daughter of Croatia: Marija of Jesus Crucified Petkovic, native of Blato on the island of Korcula.
2. I recall that at the conclusion of that Holy Mass of Beatification, I addressed a special "thank you" to the beloved city; I now renew once more my heartfelt expression of gratitude for your warm hospitality.
I am likewise grateful and pleased that you have wished to count me among the citizens of the ancient and beautiful city of Dubrovnik, an authentic "pearl" of the Croatian Adriatic, an age-old cultural centre permeated by the Catholic faith and marked by constant fidelity to the Successors of Peter, even in very difficult times. May this cultural and religious patrimony also develop and grow in the future, producing abundant fruit for the benefit of Dubrovnik and the entire Croatian Nation.
3. May the Most Holy Mother of God invoked as the Madonna of the Great Croatian Baptismal Vow, St Joseph and St Blase watch over the inhabitants of Dubrovnik and those of the County of Dubrovnik-Neretva.
God bless Dubrovnik, from this day on, my city, too, and along with the entire Land of Croatia.
Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Dear Members of the Academy,
1. I greet you all with affection and esteem as we celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. I thank your new President, Professor Mary Ann Glendon, and offer cordial good wishes as she begins her service. At the same time I express my deep gratitude to Professor Edmond Malinvaud for his commitment to the work of the Academy in studying such complex questions as labour and unemployment, forms of social inequality, and democracy and globalization. I am also grateful to Monsignor Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo for his efforts to make the work of the Academy accessible to a wider audience through the resources of modern communications.
2. The theme which you are presently studying – that of relations between generations – is closely connected to your research on globalization. In earlier times the care of grown children for their parents was taken for granted. The family was the primary place of an inter-generational solidarity. There was the solidarity of marriage itself, in which spouses took each other for better or worse and committed themselves to offer each other lifelong mutual assistance. This solidarity of the married couple soon extended to their children, whose education demanded a strong and lasting bond. This led in turn to solidarity between grown children and their aging parents.
At present relations between generations are undergoing significant changes as a result of various factors. In many areas there has been a weakening of the marriage bond, which is often perceived as a mere contract between two individuals. The pressures of a consumer society can cause families to divert attention from the home to the workplace or to a variety of social activities. Children are at times perceived, even before their birth, as an obstacle to the personal fulfilment of their parents, or are seen as one object to be chosen among others. Inter-generational relations are thus affected, since many grown children now leave to the state or society at large the care of their aged parents. The instability of the marriage bond in certain social settings likewise has led to a growing tendency for adult children to distance themselves from their parents and to delegate to third parties the natural obligation and divine command to honour one’s father and mother.
3. Given the fundamental importance of solidarity in the building of healthy human societies (cf. Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38-40), I encourage your study of these significant realities and express my hope that it will lead to a clearer appreciation of the need for a solidarity which crosses generations and unites individuals and groups in mutual assistance and enrichment. I am confident that your research in this area will make a valuable contribution to the development of the Church’s social teaching.
Particular attention needs to be paid to the precarious situation of many elderly persons, which varies according to nations and regions (cf. Evangelium Vitae EV 44 Centesimus Annus, 33). Many of them have insufficient resources or pensions, some suffer from physical maladies, while others no longer feel useful or are ashamed that they require special care, and all too many simply feel abandoned. These issues will certainly be more evident as the number of the elderly increases and the population itself ages as a result of the decline in the birthrate and the availability of better medical care.
4. In meeting these challenges, every generation and social group has a role to play. Special attention needs to be paid to the respective competencies of the State and the family in the building of an effective solidarity between generations. In full respect for the principle of subsidiarity (cf. Centesimus Annus CA 48), public authorities must be concerned to acknowledge the effects of an individualism which – as your studies have already shown – can seriously affect relations between different generations. For its part, the family, as the origin and foundation of human society (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 11 Familiaris Consortio FC 42), also has an irreplaceable role in the building of inter-generational solidarity. There is no age when one ceases to be a father or mother, a son or daughter. We have a special responsibility not only towards those to whom we have given the gift of life, but also toward those from whom we have received that gift.
Dear Members of the Academy, as you carry forward your important work I offer you my prayerful good wishes and I cordially invoke upon you and your loved ones the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to send my greetings to all the participants who have gathered in Rome for the International Conference on the theme: Confronting Globalization: Global Governance and the Politics of Development, organized by the Vatican Foundation Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice.
I extend a grateful thought to Cardinal Attilio Nicora, President of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA). I greet Count Lorenzo Rossi of Montelera, President of the Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice Foundation, the Relators and all those who have seen to the arrangements for the meeting.
As everyone knows, globalization is a widespread social phenomenon that poses numerous challenges to the international community and expects responses that are effective and ethically responsible. For this very reason, the reflection your Convention intends to develop by applying itself to listening to the new claims that are emerging from the social, cultural and economic contexts across the world, is particularly apt.
2. Your Conference has started from the premise that in the globalization process throughout the world the gap between rich and poor countries is unfortunately growing wider and wider. It is urgently necessary to intervene on behalf of those who are living in unacceptable conditions of wretchedness or situations of hunger, poverty and growing social inequality, to safeguard the dignity of the person and promote the common good.
You are rightly wondering, therefore, whether globalization and solidarity may be integrated to give rise to global dynamics that will lead both to a harmonious economic growth and balanced development.
The ongoing challenge remains: to give life to a globalization with solidarity, identifying the causes of economic and social imbalances and exploring operational decisions that are likely to assure to everyone a future under the banner of solidarity and hope.
3. The globalization process under way must be inspired by basic ethical values and must aim at the integral development of every person and of the whole person; it is vital to inculcate in consciences a strong sense of responsibility and attention to the good of humanity as a whole and of each individual member.
Only on these conditions will the human family, made up of peoples of different races, cultures and religions, be able to introduce forms of economic, social and cultural cooperation that are kindled by humane brotherly feeling.
Dear brothers and sisters, I am certain that your meeting will also provide useful guidelines for facing these vast, new economic and social problems with competence and an open mind.
With respect for the various cultures and in tune with the Magisterium of the Church, your Foundation will be able to make its own contribution to protecting the dignity of the person. This is a noble form of Christian witness that seeks to instil in our contemporary society the perennial values of the Gospel. May God bless your every effort and make your activity fruitful!
Lastly, I take this opportunity to reiterate to this praiseworthy Institution my deep appreciation for the work that it has been carrying out for years at the service of the Church, and particularly of the Successor of Peter.
As I assure each one of you and your families of my daily remembrance in prayer, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
From the Vatican, 29 April 2004
To my Venerable Brother
Bishop Mariano De Nicolò of Rimini
1. I am pleased, this year too, to address my cordial greeting to you, and through you to those taking part in the national Convention of the groups and communities of Renewal in the Spirit, held in this City of Rimini from 29 April to 2 May 2004. The theme: "Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth... be glad and rejoice forever in that which I create" (Is 65,17-18), helps us to contemplate the great mystery of Christian joy. I invite each and every one to make their own the closing prayer of the Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici, in which I asked the "Virgin of the Magnificat" to "teach us to treat the affairs of the world with a real sense of Christian responsibility and a joyful hope of the coming of God's Kingdom, and of a new heavens and a new earth" (n. 64). If the meetings of the groups and communities of Renewal in the Spirit are truly enlivened by the presence of the Lord's Spirit, especially when they culminate in the celebration of the Eucharist, they are events that give us "a glimpse of Heaven on earth, and the perennial hymn of praise rises from the community of believers in unison with the hymn of heavenly Jerusalem" (Spiritus et Sponsa, n. 16 L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 31 December 2003, p. 3), and that "unite Heaven and earth" (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 8,19).
2. The Holy Spirit will not fail to enrich each person's witness with the "spiritual gifts and charisms given to the Church" (General Audience, 27 February 1991; ORE, 4 March 1991, n. 1P 3). Especially important among these charisms are those that "serve the fullness of the spiritual life" (ibid., n. 4), instilling in the faithful "a taste for prayer", which does not exclude "the experience of silence" (cf. Spiritus et Sponsa, nn. 13-14). The "enormous range of charisms through which the Holy Spirit shares his charity and holiness with the Church" (General Audience, 27 February 1991, n. 5; ORE, 4 March 1991, p. 3) will be an incentive to you, dear brothers and sisters who are taking part in the meeting, to spread love for Christ and for his Church, the "one Mother on earth" (cf. Pastores Gregis ), and to integrate the praise you raise to God, under the guidance of your Pastors, in the room that is left to you "for the creativity and adaptation that enable [the Liturgy] to correspond closely with the need to give expression to the respective situation and culture of the various regions" (Spiritus et Sponsa, n. 15).
3. I warmly hope that the Renewal in the Holy Spirit may increasingly awaken in the Church that inner conversion without which human beings find it difficult to resist the enticements of the flesh and the concupiscence of this world. Our time stands in great need of men and women who, like rays of light, can communicate the fascination of the Gospel and the beauty of new life in the Spirit. With the overwhelming force of prayers of praise and the grace that flows from sacramental life, the Spirit ceaselessly pours out his charisms on the Ecclesial Community so that it may be constantly beautified and edified.
It is necessary, therefore, to respond to Christ's Gospel with the daring of faith that is mother to all miracles of love, and with that firm trust which makes us implore God for every good for the salvation of our souls. Each person, therefore, as a true disciple of Jesus, must apply himself constantly to following his teachings, making his own journey of spiritual renewal an on-going school of conversion and holiness.
4. To witness to the "reasons of the Spirit": this is your mission, dear members of Renewal in the Holy Spirit, in a society that rarely seems to be steeped in the wisdom that comes from on High. Sow in the minds of believers who take part in the activities of your groups and communities the seed of fruitful hope in the conscientious fulfilment of each one's daily tasks.
As I wrote in my Encyclical on the Eucharist: "Certainly the Christian vision leads to the expectation of "new heavens' and "a new earth' (cf. Rv Ap 21,1), but this increases, rather than lessens, our sense of responsibility for the world today"; this must make us feel "more obliged than ever not to neglect [our] duties as citizens in this world". Thus, you will be able to contribute to "the building of a more human world, a world fully in harmony with God's plan" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 20).
May the Virgin Mary who awaited Pentecost with the Apostles in the Upper Room accompany the work of your Convention. For my part, I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer, as I impart my Blessing to you all.
From the Vatican, 29 April 2004, Feast of St Catherine of Siena, Patroness of Italy and of Europe
To my Venerable Brother
Bishop Salvatore Boccaccio of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino
1. Last August, under your guidance, venerable Brother, the Chapter of the Cathedral of Ferentino proclaimed a commemorative year to celebrate the 17th centenary of the death of the martyr St Ambrose, Protector of the city and Co-Patron with St Maria Salome of the beloved Diocese of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino. The Jubilee Year ends on 1 August this year.
On this happy occasion, I wanted to join in the joy of those who are thanking the Lord for the marvels wrought through the heroic life and martyrdom of the holy centurion Ambrose, killed according to tradition on 16 August 304 during the ferocious persecution of the Emperor Diocletian. Since then, the memory of that outstanding witness of Christ has continued to accompany the Christians of Ferentino and of this diocesan Community on their journey through life.
In expressing my sentiments of fraternal closeness to you, venerable Brother, I extend my thoughts to the priests who are your closest collaborators, to the men and women religious and to all the members of the People of God entrusted to your pastoral care.
The patronal feast of St Ambrose the Martyr falls on 1 May in the liturgical context of the Easter Season. It is a particularly favourable time for celebrating a holy martyr, a witness par excellence of the Lord Jesus who died and rose. The passion of the Lord reveals its full salvific power in the light of the Resurrection, making it easier to understand the significance and value of Christian martyrdom. Blood poured out in communion with Christ's redemptive sacrifice is a seed of new Gospel life: of faith, hope and charity. For the Church it is a life-force, the first fruits of humanity, renewed in love and actively striving to find the kingdom of God and of his justice. St Ambrose the Martyr represents all this for the Church which believes, hopes and loves, in Ferentino and throughout the Diocese.
2. Many things have changed in the past 17 centuries of history. The world is profoundly different and the many human and social breakthroughs that have been achieved were due partly to the beneficial influence of the Gospel message and the generous contribution of so many generations of Christians. In our day, however, secularism is advancing, threatening to introduce even to societies evangelized in ancient times forms of agnosticism that are a real challenge to believers. In this context, the witness of those who did not hesitate to give up their lives out of fidelity to Christ and his Gospel becomes extraordinarily eloquent. By their example, they encourage Christians to be courageously consistent to the point of heroism. Only those who are ready to follow him to the very end will be able to put themselves unreservedly at the service of the human person, "the primary and fundamental way" for the mission of believers in the world (cf. Encyclical Redemptor Hominis RH 14).
In this regard, dear Brother, the pastoral priorities that you have chosen to put before the Ecclesial Community in this centenary year seem particularly appropriate. You rightly invite all the baptized to seek new awareness of their missionary vocation and highlight certain priority areas for apostolic intervention: peace, young people, families, poverty, immigrants. I ask the entire diocesan Community to set out on this path intentionally and enthusiastically, motivated by the desire to make the Gospel proclamation ring out in our time and witnessing concretely to God's love for every human being. May Christians recognize in every person's face, irrespective of race or culture, and especially in the faces of the most wretched and deprived, the luminous face of Christ.
3. In offering up their life, the martyrs witness to the fact that only if we keep closely united to Christ can we carry out effectively this passionate service to the human cause. This will be possible as long as we endeavour to be well-grounded in prayer, nourished by the Eucharist and the Word of God and constantly renewed in the sacrament of Reconciliation (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, part III). By his own example the martyr reminds us that the true priority of the baptized person is to strive for holiness, as the Second Vatican Council teaches in chapter V of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium.
Since the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I have emphasized this "pastoral urgency" several times as an indispensable condition for an authentic renewal of the Christian community. Holiness demands that we keep the eyes of our hearts fixed on the face of Christ, in imitation of Mary, the model for every believer. It is likewise necessary that each person find in the sacraments, and especially in the Eucharist, the strength to accomplish his or her own mission. Indeed, without a profound renewal of faith and holiness, without constant divine support, how could the Ecclesial Community face the great challenge of the new evangelization?
4. May the memory and example of St Ambrose the Martyr be an encouragement and incentive for all to follow Christ in complete and docile fidelity. To help the priests, Religious and faithful of this Diocese to take this Christian journey with deeper awareness and coherence, in union with believers in every part of the world, I would like in spirit to present anew to everyone the Apostolic Letters Novo Millennio Ineunte and Rosarium Virginis Mariae, together with the Encyclical Ecclesia de Eucharistia. I set down in these Documents what I thought were the most indispensable instructions to help each person to enter the third millennium with hope.
I gladly renew this gift to the beloved Diocese of Frosinone-Veroli-Ferentino, and invoke the heavenly intercession of its holy Patron, Ambrose the Martyr, as well as the motherly protection of Mary Most Holy, as I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, venerable Brother, and to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.
From the Vatican, 27 April 2004
Speeches 2004 - Tuesday, 27 April 2004