Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to greet you, the members of the World Jurist Association, as you gather in Rome for your Conference this year and I thank President Yevdokimov for his kind words.
The theme of your discussions focuses on the legal aspects of certain economic questions facing our increasingly globalized world. In order for legal systems and juridical instruments to be of real service to all men and women, especially the poor and disadvantaged, they must uphold the whole truth of the human person. It is therefore of utmost importance that the various expressions of international law recognize and respect those moral and spiritual truths that are necessary for properly defending and promoting the dignity and freedom of individuals, peoples and nations.
In the confident hope that your work will make a significant contribution in this area, I cordially invoke upon all of you the abundant blessings of Almighty God.
To my Venerable Brother
Bishop Fernando Charrier of Alessandria
1. I am pleased to send you a cordial greeting on the occasion of the Jubilee celebrations promoted for the fifth centenary of the birth of my Predecessor, St Pius V. I extend my affectionate thoughts to the faithful of this beloved Diocese which, with joy and gratitude to God, is rightly commemorating its illustrious son.
The various events arranged to commemorate this happy anniversary are an opportunity to revive the memory of this great Pontiff and to reflect on the rich heritage of examples and teachings that he left us, which are also more valid than ever for the Christians of our time.
May the fifth centenary of his birth be a blessing for the whole Church, and especially for the beloved Diocese of Alessandria, as well as for the ecclesial community of the Piedmont. May the intercession of St Pius V and the example of his virtues be an incentive to one and all to strengthen their faith and keep it pure and in constant contact with the sources of Revelation, spreading it in society to establish a humanity open to Christ and set on building the civilization of love.
2. The age in which Pius V lived was actually very different from our own, yet there are certain unusual similarities. Both historical periods saw the consolidation of converging religious energies, and at the same time registered deep crises in society with clashes between cities and peoples that sometimes developed into grievous armed conflicts. In both epochs the Church strove to find new ways to revive the faith and present it appropriately in the changed cultural and social conditions, with the celebration of the Council of Trent then, and in the last century with the Second Vatican Council. The Councils were followed by efforts to implement the teachings faithfully - no easy task - by initiating processes of authentic Church reform.
The human and spiritual life of St Pius V, which ended on 1 May 1572, fits into this historical and religious context characteristic of the 16th century. Since childhood, Michele Ghislieri endured the hardships of poverty and had to work to help support his family. He drew on the typical values of his beloved region of Alessandria to which he was always attached, even to the point that on becoming a member of the College of Cardinals he was known as "Cardinal Alessandrino".
At the age of 14, he entered the Order of Preachers and received his formation at the friaries of Vigevano, Bologna and Genoa; he pursued his studies without respite, persevering on the way of Gospel perfection in prayer and learning, and drawing in abundance from the sources of God's Word in accordance with the Dominican charism.
Even then he manifested a special liking for Sacred Scripture and the teachings of the Fathers; he was also an assiduous student of the works of St Thomas Aquinas whom, as Supreme Pontiff, he himself was to make a Doctor of the Church. He was ordained a priest in Genoa in 1528.
Charged by Pope Paul III to ensure that the faith be kept pure in the regions of Padua, Pavia and Como, he drew inspiration from St Dominic, St Peter Martyr of Verona, St Vincent Ferrer and St Antoninus of Florence, whom he took as his models and protectors. His sole concern was always to seek the greatest glory of God and the authentic good of his brethren, faithful to the motto "walk in the truth", which he made his own. He continued with equal zeal when appointed Commissioner for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome and in the other tasks that Popes Julius III, Paul IV and Pius IV entrusted to him. He was appointed Bishop of Sutri and Nepi in 1556; he was created a Cardinal in 1557, and in 1560 he became Bishop of Mondovì.
3. In January 1566, when he was 62 years old, he was elected Successor of Peter, and during the years of his Pontificate he devoted himself to reviving the practice of faith in every member of the People of God, impressing upon the Church a providential evangelizing zeal. Unflagging in his pastoral work, he sought direct contact with everyone with total disregard for his frail health. He strove to apply faithfully the decrees of the Council of Trent: in the liturgical field, with the publication of the renewed Roman Missal and the new Breviary; in the area of catechetics, by entrusting to parish priests in particular the "Catechism of the Council of Trent"; and as for theology, it was he who introduced St Thomas' Summa into the universities. He reminded the Bishops of their duty to reside in their Dioceses in order to attend to the pastoral care of their faithful, the Religious of the fittingness of enclosure, and the clergy of the importance of celibacy and a holy life.
Conscious of the mission he had received from Christ the Good Shepherd, he devoted himself to tending the flock entrusted to him, encouraging daily recourse to prayer and making Marian devotion a priority. He contributed significantly to spreading it by giving strong encouragement to the practice of praying the Rosary, and he himself would recite the whole of it every day, despite his many exacting tasks.
4. Venerable Brother, may the apostolic zeal, constant aspiration to holiness and love for the Virgin that marked the life of St Pius V be an incentive to all to live their own Christian vocation with deeper commitment. I would like in particular to invite them to imitate him in his filial Marian devotion, and to rediscover the simple and profound prayer of the Rosary which, as I desired to recall in my Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae, is helpful in the contemplation of Christ's mystery: "In the sobriety of its elements, it has all the depth of the Gospel message in its entirety, of which it can be said to be a compendium.... With the Rosary, the Christian people sits at the school of Mary and is led to contemplate the beauty on the face of Christ and to experience the depths of his love" (n. 1).
It is also possible, by means of a fervent recitation of the Rosary, to obtain extraordinary graces through the intercession of the heavenly Mother of the Lord. St Pius V was firmly convinced of this and after the victory of the Battle of Lepanto, he wanted to establish a special feast day for Our Lady of the Rosary.
To Mary, Queen of the holy Rosary, in this beginning of the third millennium, I entrusted with the recitation of the Rosary the precious good of peace and the strengthening of the family institution. I renew this confident entrustment through the intercession of that great devotee of Mary, St Pius V.
5. I assure my special remembrance in prayer to you, Venerable Brother, to the Bishops who will be attending the ceremony for the closure of the Jubilee celebrations, to the National Committee and the Committee of Honour, to the Authorities of the Region, of the Province and of the Municipalities in the territory of Alessandria, to the clergy, the Religious and the beloved faithful, and to all who will be taking part in Holy Mass on 5 May in the Church of Holy Cross Monastery, Boscomarengo.
I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.
From the Vatican, 1 May 2004
Thursday, 6 May 2004
Dear Brother Bishops,
1. It is with great joy that I greet you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical provinces of Detroit and Cincinnati, on the occasion of your visit ad limina Apostolorum. Through you I greet the priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful of your Dioceses: may the grace and peace of the Risen Lord be with all of you, "consecrated in Christ Jesus and called to be a holy people" (1Co 1,2)!
In my meetings with the Bishops of the United States this year I have sought to offer some personal reflections on the episcopal ministry of sanctifying, teaching and governing the People of God. In the present reflection I wish to continue our consideration of the munus sanctificandi in the light of the Bishop’s responsibility for building up the communion of all the baptized in holiness, fidelity to the Gospel and zeal for the spread of God’s Kingdom.
2. Like her holiness, the Church’s unity is an unfailing gift of God and a constant summons to an ever more perfect communion in faith, hope and love. "God himself is communion, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and he calls all people to share in that same Trinitarian communion" (Ecclesia in America ). Through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen Christ, the Church has been established as "a people brought into unity from the unity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit" (Lumen Gentium LG 4). As the sign and sacrament of that unity which is the calling and destiny of the whole human family, the Church lives and carries out her saving mission as "one body" (cf. 1 Cor 12:12ff.), which the Holy Spirit guides in the way of all truth, brings together in communion and in the works of ministry, directs through the variety of hierarchical and charismatic gifts, and adorns with his fruits (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 4). This mystery of unity in diversity is especially evident in the Bishop’s celebration of the Eucharist, when he is surrounded by the presbyterate, ministers, religious and the whole People of God (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 41); in the Eucharist, that "holy communion" which is the very soul of the Church is both expressed and brought about (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 3).
This close relationship between the Church’s holiness and her unity is the basis for that spirituality of communion and mission which I am convinced we must foster at the dawn of this new millennium, "if we wish to be faithful to God’s plan and respond to the world’s deepest yearnings" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 43). The Bishop, as the icon of Christ the Good Shepherd, present in the midst of his holy people, has the primary duty of promoting and encouraging such a spirituality (cf. Pastores Gregis ). The Second Vatican Council, while insisting that the building up of Christ’s body takes place in a rich diversity of members, functions and gifts, also noted that "among these gifts, the primacy belongs to the grace of the apostles" (Lumen Gentium LG 7), whose successors are called to discern and coordinate the charisms and ministries given for the building up of the Church in that work of sanctifying humanity and giving glory to God which is the goal of all her life and activity (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium SC 10).
3. This spirituality of communion, which Bishops are called personally to exemplify, will naturally lead to "a pastoral style which is ever more open to collaboration with all" (Pastores Gregis ). It demands of you, in the first place, an ever closer relationship with your priests, who through sacramental ordination are sharers with you in the one priesthood of Christ and in the one apostolic mission entrusted to his Church (cf. Christus Dominus CD 11). Through Holy Orders, Bishops and priests alike have been entrusted with a ministerial priesthood which differs from the common priesthood of all the baptized "in essence and not only in degree" (Lumen Gentium LG 10). At the same time, within the communion of the Body of Christ you and your priests are called to cooperate in enabling the whole People of God to carry out the royal priesthood conferred by Baptism.
Precisely because the members of his presbyterate are his closest cooperators in the ordained ministry, each Bishop should constantly strive to relate to them "as a father and brother who loves them, listens to them, welcomes them, corrects them, supports them, seeks their cooperation and, as much as possible, is concerned for their human, spiritual, ministerial and financial well-being" (Pastores Gregis ). Just as the Apostle Paul recommended Timothy to the Christian community at Thessalonica, so Bishops should be able to present each of their priests to individual parish communities, saying: "He is our brother and God’s fellow worker in preaching the Gospel of Christ, and so we sent him to strengthen and encourage you in regard to your faith" (1Th 3,2). As a spiritual father and brother to his priests, the Bishop should do everything in his power to encourage them in fidelity to their vocation and to the demands of leading a life worthy of the calling they have received (cf. Eph Ep 4,1).
Here I want to offer a word of acknowledgment and praise for the dedication and faithful work carried out by so many committed priests in the United States, especially those engaged in meeting the daily challenges and demands associated with parish ministry. I invite you, their Bishops, to join me in thanking them and acknowledging with gratitude their untiring commitment as "pastors, preachers of the Gospel and agents of ecclesial communion" (Ecclesia in America ).
4. Strengthening a spirituality of communion and mission will demand a constant effort to renew the bonds of fraternal unity within the presbyterate. This calls for a conscious reappropriation of and daily recommitment to the things we share as the very basis of our identity as priests: the pursuit of holiness, the practice of heartfelt intercessory prayer, a ministerial spirituality nourished by the word of God and celebration of the sacraments, the daily exercise of pastoral charity, and the life of celibate chastity as the expression of a radical commitment to follow Christ. As the spiritual values which unite priests, these should be the basis for the renewal of the priestly ministry and the promotion of unity in the apostolate, so that, under the guidance of its priests the community of disciples may truly be "of one heart and one mind" (Ac 4,32).
A spirituality of communion will naturally bear fruit in the development of a diocesan spirituality grounded in the particular gifts and charisms bestowed by the Holy Spirit for the upbuilding of each local Church. Every priest should find "precisely in his belonging to and dedication to the particular Church a wealth of meaning, criteria for discernment and action which shape both his pastoral mission and his spiritual life" (Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 31). At the same time, an authentic "diocesan spirit" will also inspire and motivate the whole Christian community to a greater sense of responsibility for the fruitful carrying out of the Church’s mission through its rich network of communities, institutions and apostolates (cf. Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 10).
5. It is in major and minor seminaries that the seeds of a spirituality of communion and mission, and of a healthy priesthood are sown. I encourage you to make frequent visits to the seminary, in order to know personally those who may one day be priests in your local Churches. Such direct contacts will also help to "ensure that the seminaries form mature and balanced personalities, men capable of establishing sound human and pastoral relationships, knowledgeable in theology, solid in the spiritual life, and in love with the Church" (Pastores Gregis ). The challenges of ecclesial life increasingly call for the priest to be, in every sense, a "man of communion" (Pastores Dabo Vobis PDV 43), committed to an effective cooperation with others in the service of the ecclesial community.
Proper formation in chastity and celibacy remains an essential component of seminary training, together with the presentation of a solid and correct theological understanding of the Church and the priesthood, including a clear and precise identification of those positions which are not compatible with the Church’s authoritative self-understanding as expressed by the Council and the documents of the post-conciliar renewal. This is a personal responsibility that falls to you as Pastors concerned for the future of your local Churches, and one that cannot be delegated. Since priestly formation does not end with ordination, your ministry of sanctification must also include care for the ongoing spiritual life of your priests and the effectiveness of their ministry. This calls for a continuing personal formation aimed at deepening and harmonizing the human, spiritual, intellectual, and pastoral aspects of their priestly life (cf. Directory on the Life and Ministry of Priests, 70). In this way they will grow ever more fully into "men of the Church", imbued with a truly catholic spirit and authentic missionary zeal.
I am personally convinced that prayer is the primary force that inspires and forms priestly vocations. As I wrote in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Gregis, "Vocations need a vast network of people who pray fervently to ‘the Lord of the harvest’. The more the problem of vocations is confronted in the context of prayer, the more prayer will help those whom God has called to hear his voice" (No. 48).
6. Dear Brothers, our reflections today have highlighted the connection between the munus sanctificandi and the spirituality of communion and mission. In the daily exercise of your episcopal ministry may you be builders of communion in personal dialogue and personal encounter with your priests, deacons, men and women religious and the lay faithful of your local Churches. This is the sure path that will enable them to grow in that holiness which is "the hidden source and the infallible measure of the Church’s apostolic activity and missionary zeal" (Christifideles Laici CL 17).
With gratitude for the tremendous gift and mystery that has been entrusted to us in the sacred ministry, I express my steadfast solidarity with you and your brother priests. To you and all the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Savior.
My Dear Guards,
Dear Relatives and Friends of the Swiss Guard,
1. Once again the swearing-in of the new recruits of the Swiss Guard offers me a pleasant opportunity to welcome you all to the Apostolic Palace. I greet the new Guards in particular, as well as their parents, relatives and friends with whom I would like to share this important moment in the lives of these young men. Dear Guardsmen, your willing service and your commitment, your deep faith and the noble virtues that live on in your beloved Homeland of Switzerland, bear an eloquent witness to your fidelity to the Successor of Peter. Be assured of the high esteem in which I hold the sometimes very demanding service that you carry out here in the Vatican with your strong and valuable personal commitment. The multitudes of people who visit St Peter's and Vatican City every year are also impressed by your disinterested service. Consequently, this meeting with you and your esteemed relatives fills me with sincere joy.
2. Your mission of service to the Pope and the Church, dear new recruits of the Swiss Guard, springs from your Baptism. In your proper place, you must witness to your faith in Christ, who died and rose; every important moment in our lives, such as today for you, is an opportunity to rediscover Christ's truth more deeply, to believe in him and to live the fraternal love that he revealed and taught to us. May the faces of all those whom you will meet in your humble service, the members of the Curia and the pilgrims who come every day, be as many appeals to accept the true meaning of our lives: to discover and help others discover God's love for each person!
I am particularly grateful to your families who have come to be with you. They have agreed to allow you to come to Rome to carry out this service, and they support you with their love and prayers. The oath you are about to swear, dear young men, extends and honours the memory of your predecessors who gave their lives on 6 May 1527, defending Pope Clement VII. The Pope knows this well and today assures you of his profound gratitude.
3. Dear Pontifical Swiss Guards, thank you for the service you carry out for the Successor of Peter and his collaborators here in the Vatican. It is a demanding and perhaps burdensome commitment, but God will reward you for it. Always be faithful to your mission, carefully cultivating the ideal of love for Christ and the Church that your families and the Christian communities of Switzerland strive constantly to foster. As you know, next 5 and 6 June I shall be in Berne to take part, please God, in the meeting with young Swiss Catholics, and I will also meet the members of the Association of Former Swiss Guards. I am counting on the prayers and spiritual support of you all.
I renew my most cordial good wishes to you for today's festivities, and assure you that I will always remember you in my prayers.
4. Through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and Mother of God, and your Patrons, Sts Martin and Sebastian, as well as the Patron Saint of your homeland, Br. Klaus of Flüe, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to your families and your friends, as well as to all those who have come to Rome for the swearing-in ceremony.
I gladly accept the Letters accrediting you as the new representative of Ukraine to the Holy See. On this happy occasion, I am pleased to greet you and extend a most cordial welcome to you.
I appreciated your kind words just now, and I ask you to convey to Mr Leonid Danilovic Kucma, President of Ukraine, my gratitude for the special greeting he has desired to send me through you. I willingly reciprocate his sentiments and offer him my best wishes for his lofty task as First Citizen of the beloved Ukrainian Nation, to which I would like to communicate my affectionate thoughts and good wishes.
Because of their typical traditions and culture, the Ukrainian People rightly feel part of Europe. They want to weave a more intense relationship with the other Nations on the Continent, while preserving the political and cultural features that distinguish them.
The Holy See believes that it is worth giving these legitimate aspirations careful consideration, since they could be useful for the plan of European collaboration. Located on the crossroads between East and West, Ukraine will be better able to carry out its mission as a place of encounter between the different peoples and cultures if it keeps its own special profile intact. By continuing to work briskly in the spiritual and social, political and economic areas, it could become an important laboratory for dialogue, development and cooperation with and for everyone.
However, to achieve this goal, all the sons and daughters of the Land of Ukraine, each one in accordance with his or her own responsibilities and skills, must dedicate themselves with far-sighted generosity to seeking the common good. This requires that the representatives of the people, public administrators, men and women of culture and financiers put their skills at the service of the Country's authentic progress in a disinterested way, paying special attention to the poor, to young people in search of employment, to children and even to unborn infants in their mother's womb.
The Catholic Church, as far as she can and with full respect for the legitimate field of action of the civil Authorities, will not fail to contribute to building a prosperous and peaceful Nation.
Mr Ambassador, as I welcome you today, I hearken back to the Visit that Providence granted me to make three years ago to Ukraine, a Land where peoples with different cultures and traditions converge. How could I forget Kiev with its golden cupolas, its splendid gardens, its hard-working and open people, and Lviv, the city of impressive monuments, so rich in Christian memories and imbued with genuine, warm hospitality?
Ever since the purification of Baptism on the banks of the Dnieper admitted the peoples of Ukraine into the great family of Christ's disciples more than 1,000 years ago, the specific identity of that Land developed the strong profile of its own cultural and spiritual identity. The Gospel shaped its life, culture and institutions, which is why Ukraine today has a great responsibility to understand, defend and promote its own Christian heritage, a distinctive feature of the Nation that has remained fundamentally sound even after the grievous Communist dictatorship.
The Church is very glad to sustain this identity. As she has opportunely recalled, the Government is pursuing a policy of religious freedom which enables the Ecclesial Communities to carry out their mission. In this context of good will, it is to be hoped that the Churches may soon acquire juridical status with effective parity among them all and, at the same time, that honourable understandings may be reached concerning religious teaching and the recognition by the State of theology as a university discipline. It is also to be hoped that satisfactory agreements may be stipulated in the highly sensitive area of the return of ecclesiastical property confiscated during the Communist dictatorship.
When I think of the religious situation of the beloved Ukrainian People, I cannot but reflect that unfortunately Christ's disciples are still divided, and this is perceived with a certain regret by the Ukrainian Community overall. Yet ecumenical dialogue goes on, working for an ever better understanding in reciprocal respect and constantly seeking the unity that Christ desired. May this sincere and far-sighted dialogue continue and indeed be intensified by the contribution of all!
As for the Catholic Church in Ukraine, since the Country's independence to this day she has known a promising springtime of hope, and all her members are motivated by the desire to achieve full unity with all Christians.
Mr Ambassador, at the time when you are preparing to assume your lofty task, I am pleased to assure you that here in the Vatican you will always find minds and hearts ready to offer you every kind of assistance and support, so that you may carry out the mission entrusted to you as well as possible. For my part, as I express my heartfelt hope that the strong bonds which already unite the Country you represent and the Holy See will be constantly strengthened, I invoke upon you, upon the Government Authorities and upon the entire Ukrainian People, especially dear to me, an abundance of divine Blessings.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am pleased to greet you, the members of the Papal Foundation, on your annual visit to Rome, and I welcome you with the words that our Savior spoke to his disciples after his resurrection from the dead: "Peace be with you" (Jn 20,19).
I am most grateful to all of you for your continued support of my pastoral ministry to the universal Church. Indeed, your dedication to the Papal Foundation through the generous gift of your time, talent and treasure is a concrete example of your love and commitment to the Church and the Successor of Peter.
As you return to your country, I entrust all of you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your families as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.
1. With affection I greet you, Ambassadors of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization, as you come to the Vatican, and I thank you Ambassador Omolewa for the kind sentiments you expressed. I hope that your visit to the Eternal City will enrich and renew you in your efforts to protect and promote authentic educational, scientific and cultural progress.
The advancement of human society is directly related to the progress of culture. In reality culture is a specific way of "living" and "being" for mankind and, at the same time, it forms a bond which determines the unique character of man’s social existence. Mankind, in fact, lives a truly human life because of culture, an important expression of which is found in the arts and sciences.
2. The Church has always been a friend of the arts and sciences. The world's art heritage is actually a treasure of human creativity; it bears an eloquent witness to the intelligence of humanity that shares in the work of the divine Creator. The Church has always relied on the fine arts to help her celebrate, in a way that is truly dignified, fitting and beautiful, the gift of life and most particularly her sacred rites.
In so doing, she has helped to develop an incomparable patrimony of music, art and literature that has made a significant contribution to the progress of culture. Furthermore, the Church has encouraged the development of the sciences, especially by promoting the dignity and value of human life.
3. Her involvement, in practice, is expressed though the creation of numerous institutions such as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which recently celebrated its fourth centenary, the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences and the Pontifical Academy for Life.
Unfortunately, in these difficult times we often find our progress threatened by the evils of war, poverty, racism and the exploitation of others. These harmful influences not only weigh heavily on our human existence, but are also a constraint upon our ability to build a better world.
4. I pray that organizations such as UNESCO may remain an essential element in the construction of a true culture founded on peace, justice and fairness.
As I offer you my very best wishes for the continuation of your mission, I invoke an abundance of divine Blessings upon you and all your colleagues.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies,
1. I welcome you all with great pleasure to Peter's house here in the Vatican after another year of missionary service in your Churches, scattered throughout the world. I am very pleased to meet you because in a very special way you are "tireless workers for his mercy and his peace" (General Audience, 14 April 2004, n. 4; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 21 April 2004, p. 11).
I cordially greet and thank Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, for his words on behalf of you all.
2. Dear brothers and sisters, in the stormy times in which humanity is living, the Pontifical Mission Societies that serve the Churches across the world are a sound reference for all who seek the truth that saves. Indeed, by proclaiming Christ, you point out to them the Way to take to reach salvation.