Audiences 2005-2013 23052

Wednesday, 23 May 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last Wednesday I explained what St Paul says about the Holy Spirit being the great master of prayer who teaches us to address God with the affectionate words that children use, calling him: “Abba, Father”. This is what Jesus did; even in the most dramatic moment of his earthly life he never lost his trust in the Father and always called on him with the intimacy of the beloved Son. In Gethsemane, when he feels the anguish of his approaching death, his prayer is: “Abba, Father, all things are possible to you; remove this cup from me; yet not what I will, but what you will” (
Mc 14,36).

Since the very first steps on her journey the Church has taken up this invocation and made it her own, especially in the prayer of the “Our Father”, in which we say every day: “Our Father… Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven! (Mt 6,9-10).

We find it twice in the Letters of St Paul. The Apostle, as we have just heard, addresses these words to the Galatians: “And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, ‘Abba! Father!’” (Ga 4,6). And, at the centre of that hymn to the Holy Spirit which is the eighth chapter of the Letter to the Romans, St Paul declares: “For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry: ‘Abba! Father!’ it is the Spirit himself...” (Rm 8,15).

Christianity is not a religion of fear but of trust and of love for the Father who loves us. Both these crucial affirmations speak to us of the sending forth and reception of the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen One which makes us sons in Christ, the Only-Begotten Son, and places us in a filial relationship with God, a relationship of deep trust, like that of children; a filial relationship like that of Jesus, even though its origin and quality are different. Jesus is the eternal Son of God who took flesh; we instead become sons in him, in time, through faith and through the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation. Thanks to these two sacraments we are immersed in the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The Holy Spirit is the precious and necessary gift that makes us children of God, that brings about that adoption as sons to which all human beings are called because, as the divine blessing in the Letter to the Ephesians explains, God, in Christ, “chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. He destined us in love to be his [adopted] sons through Jesus Christ” (Ep 1,4).

Perhaps people today fail to perceive the beauty, greatness and profound consolation contained in the word “father” with which we can turn to God in prayer because today the father figure is often not sufficiently present and all too often is not sufficiently positive in daily life. The father’s absence, the problem of a father who is not present in a child’s life, is a serious problem of our time. It therefore becomes difficult to understand what it means to say that God is really our Father. From Jesus himself, from his filial relationship with God, we can learn what “father” really means and what is the true nature of the Father who is in heaven.

Critics of religion have said that speaking of the “Father”, of God, is a projection of our ancestors in heaven. But the opposite is true: in the Gospel Christ shows us who is the father and as he is a true father we can understand true fatherhood and even learn true fatherhood. Let us think of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount where he says: “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven” (Mt 5,44-45). It is the very love of Jesus, the Only-Begotten Son — who goes even to the point of giving himself on the Cross — that reveals to us the true nature of the Father: he is Love and in our prayers as children we too enter this circuit of love, the love of God that purifies our desires, our attitudes marked by closure, self-sufficiency, and the typical selfishness of the former man.

We could therefore say that God in being Father has two dimensions. First of all God is our Father because he is our Creator. Each one of us, each man and each woman, is a miracle of God, is wanted by him and is personally known by him. When it says in the Book of Genesis that the human being is created in the image of God (cf. Gn 1,27), it tries to express this precise reality: God is our Father, for him we are not anonymous, impersonal beings but have a name. And a phrase in the Psalms always moves me when I pray. “Your hands have made and fashioned me”, says the Psalmist (Ps 119,73 [118]:73). In this beautiful image each one of us can express his personal relationship with God. “Your hands have fashioned me. You thought of me and created and wanted me”.

Nonetheless this is still not enough. The Spirit of Christ opens us to a second dimension of God’s fatherhood, beyond creation, since Jesus is the “Son” in the full sense of “one in being with the Father”, as we profess in the Creed. Becoming a human being like us, with his Incarnation, death and Resurrection, Jesus in his turn accepts us in his humanity and even in his being Son, so that we too may enter into his specific belonging to God. Of course, our being children of God does not have the fullness of Jesus. We must increasingly become so throughout the journey of our Christian existence, developing in the following of Christ and in communion with him so as to enter ever more intimately into the relationship of love with God the Father which sustains our life.

It is this fundamental reality that is disclosed to us when we open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and he makes us turn to God saying “Abba!”, Father. We have truly preceded creation, entering into adoption with Jesus; united, we are really in God and are his children in a new way, in a new dimension.

Now I would like to return to St Paul’s two passages on this action of the Holy Spirit in our prayers on which we are reflecting. Here too are two passages that correspond with each other but contain a different nuance. In the Letter to the Galatians, in fact, the Apostle says that the Spirit cries: “Abba! Father!” in us. In the Letter to the Romans he says that it is we who cry: “Abba! Father!”. And St Paul wants to make us understand that Christian prayer is never one way, never happens in one direction from us to God, it is never merely “an action of ours” but, rather, is the expression of a reciprocal relationship in which God is the first to act; it is the Holy Spirit who cries in us and we are able to cry because the impetus comes from the Holy Spirit.

We would not be able to pray were the desire for God, for being children of God, not engraved in the depths of our heart. Since he came into existence homo sapiens has always been in search of God and endeavours to speak with God because God has engraved himself in our hearts. The first initiative therefore comes from God and with Baptism, once again God acts in us, the Holy Spirit acts in us; he is the prime initiator of prayer so that we may really converse with God and say “Abba” to God. Hence his presence opens our prayers and our lives, it opens on to the horizons of the Trinity and of the Church.

We realize in addition — this is the second point — that the prayer of the Spirit of Christ in us and ours in him is not solely an individual act but an act of the entire Church. In praying our heart is opened, not only do we enter into communion with God but actually with all the children of God, because we are one body. When we address the Father in our inner room in silence and in recollection we are never alone. Those who speak to God are not alone. We are within the great prayer of the Church, we are part of a great symphony that the Christian community in all the parts of the earth and in all epochs, raises to God. Naturally, the musicians and instruments differ — and this is an element of enrichment — but the melody of praise is one and in harmony. Every time, then, that we shout or say: “Abba! Father!” it is the Church, the whole communion of people in prayer that supports our invocation and our invocation is an invocation of the Church.

This is also reflected in the wealth of charisms and of the ministries and tasks that we carry out in the community. St Paul writes to the Christians of Corinth: “There are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of working, but it is the same God who inspires them all in everyone” (1Co 12,4-6).

Prayer guided by the Holy Spirit, who makes us say: “Abba! Father!” with Christ and in Christ, inserts us into the great mosaic of the family of God in which each one has a place and an important role, in profound unity with the whole.

One last remark: we also learn to cry “Abba! Father!” with Mary, Mother of the Son of God. The consummation of the fullness of time, of which St Paul speaks in his Letter to the Galatians (cf. Ga 4,4) is brought about at the moment when Mary said “yes”, the moment of her full adherence to God’s will: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lc 1,38).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us learn to savour in our prayers the beauty of being friends, indeed children of God, of being able to call on him with the trust that a child has for the parents who love him. Let us open our prayers to the action of the Holy Spirit so that he may cry to God in us: “Abba! Father!”, and so that our prayers may transform and constantly convert our way of thinking and our action to bring us ever more closely into line with Jesus Christ, the Only-Begotten Son of God. Many thanks.

To special groups:

I am pleased to greet the ecumenical delegation from the Evangelical-Lutheran Church in Sweden. I also welcome the group from the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Finland, Sweden, India, the Philippines, South Korea and the United States, I invoke the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace.

Lastly, a special thought for the young people, the sick and the newlyweds.May the gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost always sustain and nourish the life of faith of the Christian community. Dear young people, put the search for God and love for him above all things; dear sick people, may the Holy Spirit be a help and comfort to you in times of greatest need; and may you, dear newlyweds, make your union sounder and deeper every day with the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 30 May 2012


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this series of Catecheses we are meditating on prayer in the Letters of St Paul and we are endeavouring to see Christian prayer as a true and personal encounter with God the Father, in Christ, and through the Holy Spirit. At this meeting today the faithful “yes” of God and the trusting “amen” of believers enter into dialogue and I would like to emphasize this dynamic by reflecting on the Second Letter to the Corinthians. St Paul sends this passionate Letter to a Church which has called his apostolate into question on several occasions and opens his heart so that those to whom he is writing may be reassured of his fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel. This Second Letter to the Corinthians begins with one of the most exalted prayers of blessing in the New Testament. It says “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God” (
2Co 1,3-4).

Indeed Paul lived amidst great trials, he had to pass through much difficulty and affliction but he never gave in to discouragement. He was sustained by the grace and closeness of the Lord Jesus Christ, for whom he had become an apostle and a witness, putting his whole life into Jesus’ hands. For this very reason Paul begins this Letter with a prayer of blessing and thanksgiving to God, since in his life as an Apostle of Christ he never, not even for a single moment, felt deprived of the support of the merciful Father, the God of all comfort.

His suffering was appalling, as he says in this very Letter, but in all these situations, when it seemed that there was no way out, he received consolation and comfort from God. He was also persecuted for proclaiming Christ and even thrown into prison, but he always felt inwardly free, enlivened by Christ’s presence and keen to proclaim the word of hope of the Gospel.

So it was that he wrote from prison to Timothy, his faithful collaborator. In chains, he wrote, “the word of God is not fettered. Therefore I endure everything for the [God’s] sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which in Christ Jesus goes with eternal glory” (2Tm 2,9-10). In suffering for Christ, he experiences God’s consolation. He writes: “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2Co 1,5).

So, in the prayer of blessing that introduces the Second Letter to the Corinthians, the theme of affliction stands out next to the theme of consolation. This should not be understood merely as comfort but especially as an encouragement and an exhortation not to let oneself be overcome by trials and tribulations. The invitation is to live every situation united to Christ, who takes upon his shoulders the whole burden of the world’s suffering and sin in order to bring light, hope and redemption.

So it is that Jesus makes us capable in our turn of consoling those experiencing every sort of affliction. Profound union with Christ in prayer and trust in his presence, lead to the readiness to share in the suffering and troubles of our brethren. St Paul writes: “Who is weak, and am I not weak? Who is made to fall, and am I not indignant?” (cf. 2Co 11,29). This sharing is not born simply from kindness, nor solely from human generosity or an altruistic spirit; rather, it stems from the consolation of the Lord, from the steadfast support of the “transcendent power [that] belongs to God and not to us” (2Co 4,7).

Dear brothers and sisters, our life and our journey are frequently marked by difficulty, misunderstanding and suffering. We all know it. In a faithful relationship with the Lord, in constant, daily prayer, we too can feel tangibly the consolation that comes from God. And this strengthens our faith, because it enables us to have an actual experience of God’s “yes” to man, to us, to me, in Christ. It makes us feel the fidelity of his love which even extended to the gift of his Son on the Cross. St Paul says, “for the Son of God, Jesus Christ, whom we preached among you, Silvanus and Timothy and I, was not Yes and No; but in him it is always Yes. For all the promises of God find their Yes in him. That is why we utter the Amen through him, to the glory of God” (2Co 1,19-20). The “yes” of God is not halved, it is not somewhere between “yes” and “no”, but is a sound and simple “yes”. And we respond to this “yes” with our own “yes”, with our “amen”, and so we are sure of the “yes” of God.

Faith is not primarily a human action but rather a freely given gift of God which is rooted in his faithfulness, in his “yes”, which makes us understand how to live our life, loving him and our brethren. The whole history of salvation is a gradual revelation of this faithfulness of God, in spite of our infidelity and negation, in the certainty that “the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable!”, as the Apostle declares in his Letter to the Romans (Rm 11,29).

Dear brothers and sisters, God’s way of acting — very different from ours — gives us comfort, strength and hope because God does not withdraw his “yes”. In the face of stressful human relations, even in the family, we often fail to persevere in freely given love which demands commitment and sacrifice. Instead, God does not grow tired of us; he never wearies of being patient with us and, with his immense mercy, always leads the way and reaches out to us first: his “yes” is absolutely reliable.

In the event of the Crucifixion he offers us the measure of his love which does not count the cost and knows no bounds. St Paul writes in his Letter to Titus: “the goodness and loving kindness of God our Saviour appeared” (Tt 3,4). And because this “yes” is renewed every day, “it is God who... has commissioned us; he has put his seal upon us and given us his Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2Co 1,21-22).

Indeed, it is the Holy Spirit who makes God’s “yes” in Jesus Christ constantly present and alive and creates in our hearts the desire to follow him so as to enter totally into his love, one day, when we will receive a dwelling-place in heaven not built by human hands. There is no one who has not been touched and called into question by this faithful love, which is also capable of waiting even for all those who continue to respond with the “no” of rejection or of the hardening of their hearts. God waits for us, he always seeks us out, he wants to welcome us into communion with him to give to each one of us fullness of life, hope and peace.

The Church’s “amen” is grafted onto God’s faithful “yes” which resonates in every action of the Liturgy. “Amen” is the answer of faith that always concludes our personal and community prayers and expresses our “yes” to God’s project. We often respond to prayers with our “amen” out of habit, without grasping its deep meaning.

The word derives from ’aman, which in Hebrew and in Aramaic means “to make permanent”, “to consolidate” and, consequently, “to be certain”, “to tell the truth”. If we look at Sacred Scripture we see that this “amen” is said at the end of the Psalms of blessing and praise, such as, for example, Psalm 41[40] “But you have upheld me because of my integrity, and set me in your presence for ever. Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Amen and Amen” (vv. 12-13).

Or else it expresses adherence to God at the moment when the People of Israel return full of joy from the Babylonian Exile and say their “yes”, their “amen” to God and to his Law. In the Book of Nehemiah it is told that after this return, “Ezra opened the book [of the Law] in the sight of all the people; for he was above all the people; and when he opened it all the people stood. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God; and all the people answered, ‘Amen, Amen’, lifting up their hands” (Ne 8,5-6).

From the outset, therefore, the “amen” of the Jewish liturgy became the “amen” of the first Christian communities. Indeed the Book of the Christian liturgy par excellence, the Revelation to John begins with the “amen” of the Church: “To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Ap 1,5-6). This is what it says in the first chapter of the Book of Revelation. And the same Book ends with the invocation “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!” (Ap 22,20).

Dear friends, prayer is the encounter with a living Person to listen to and with whom to converse; it is the meeting with God that renews his unshakeable fidelity, his “yes” to man, to each one of us, to give us his consolation in the storms of life and to enable us to live, united to him, a life full of joy and goodness, which will find fulfilment in eternal life.

In our prayers we are called to say “yes” to God, to respond with this “amen” of adherence, of faithfulness to him throughout our life. We can never achieve this faithfulness by our own efforts; it is not only the fruit of our daily striving; it comes from God and is founded on the “yes” of Christ who said: my food is to do the will of the Father (cf. Jn 4,34).

It is into this “yes” that we must enter, into this “yes” of Christ, into adherence to God’s will, in order to reach the point of saying with St Paul that it is not we who live but Christ himself who lives in us. Then the “amen” of our personal and community prayers will envelop and transform the whole of our life into a life of God’s consolation, a life immersed in eternal and steadfast love. Thank you.

To special groups:

I welcome the Vietnamese pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Hochiminh City, led by Cardinal Jean-Baptiste Pham Minh Mân. I also welcome the participants in the Buddhist-Christian Symposium being held in Castel Gandolfo. My greeting likewise goes to the Hope for Tomorrow Foundation from the United States. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Ireland, Norway, India, Indonesia, Japan and the United States I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

Then I would like to address a special greeting to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. May the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen Christ guide you, dear young people and enable you to orientate your life to goodness with determination; may he sustain you, dear sick people, in accepting suffering as a mysterious instrument of salvation for you and for your brothers and sisters; may it help you, dear newlyweds, to rediscover every day the demands of love, to be ever ready to understand each other and be of mutual support.


The incidents of these days concerning the Curia and my co-workers have filled my heart with sorrow but have never obscured the firm certainty that, despite the human weakness, difficulties and trials, the Church is guided by the Holy Spirit and the Lord will never withhold his help to sustain her on her journey. However, rumours, exaggerated by some of the media, totally gratuitously and that have gone far beyond the facts, paint an image of the Holy See that does not correspond to reality. For this reason, I wish to renew my truth and my encouragement to my closest collaborators and to all who, daily, with fidelity, with a spirit of sacrifice and in silence, help me in fulfilling my daily Ministry.

Saint Peter's Square

Wednesday, 6 June 2012: Pastoral Visit to the Archdiocese of Milan - 7th World Meeting of Families


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Family: Work and Celebration” was the theme of the Seventh World Meeting of Families which has taken place in Milan in the past few days. I still have in my eyes and in my heart the images and emotions of this unforgettable and marvellous event that transformed Milan into a city of families: families from all over the world, united by the joy of believing in Jesus Christ. I am profoundly grateful to God who has granted me to live this event “with” families and “for” the family.

In all those who listened to me during these days I met with a sincere readiness to accept and to witness to the “Gospel of the family”. Yes, for without the family humanity has no future; young people in particular need to learn the values that give meaning to life, they need to be born into and grow up in that community of life and love which God himself desired for men and women.

The meeting with the many families from the different continents has given me the happy opportunity to visit the Archdiocese of Milan for the first time as Successor of Peter. Cardinal Angelo Scola, the priests and all the faithful, as well as the Mayor and the other authorities, welcomed me with great warmth — for which I am deeply grateful. I was thus able to experience from close at hand the faith of the people of Milan, rich in history, culture, humanity and active charity.

The first event of this busy three-day Pastoral Visit took place in the square outside the cathedral, the symbol and heart of the city. I cannot forget the warm embrace of the crowd of Milanese people and participants in the Seventh World Meeting of Families that accompanied me throughout my Visit, overflowing the streets.

An expanse of celebrating families that with sentiments of deep participation joined in particular with the affectionate thoughts and solidarity that I wanted to address straight away to all those in need of help and comfort, those who are troubled by various anxieties and, especially, the families worst hit by the economic crisis, as well as the beloved peoples struck by the earthquake.

At this first meeting with the City, I first wanted to speak to the hearts of the faithful of the Ambrosian City. I urged them to live out their faith in their experience as individuals and as a community, in private and in public, so as to foster an authentic “well-being”, starting with the family which must be rediscovered as humanity’s principal patrimony. From the top of the Cathedral, the statue of Our Lady, with her arms wide open, seemed to welcome with motherly tenderness all the families of Milan and of the whole world!

Then Milan reserved a unique and noble greeting for me in one of the most evocative and meaningful places in the city, La Scala, where important pages of the country’s history have been written, under the impulse of great spiritual values and ideals.

In this temple of music, the notes of Ludwig van Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony gave a voice to that example of universality and brotherhood which the Church reproposes tirelessly by proclaiming the Gospel. And at the end of the concert — which I dedicated to our many brothers and sisters who have been sorely tried by the earthquake — I referred specifically to the contrast between this ideal and the dramas of history, and to the need for a God who is close and who shares in our suffering. I emphasized that in Jesus of Nazareth God makes himself close and shoulders our suffering with us.

At the end of that intense musical and spiritual moment I mentioned the family of the third millennium, recalling that it is in the family that we first feel that the human person is not created to live withdrawn into him- or herself but rather in relationships with others; and it is in the family that the light of peace is first kindled in hearts so that it may illuminate our world.

The next day, in the Cathedral thronged with priests and men and women religious and in the presence of numerous Cardinals and Bishops from various countries of the world, I celebrated Terce according to the Ambrosian Liturgy. On that occasion I wished to reaffirm the value of celibacy and consecrated virginity, so dear to the great St Ambrose. Celibacy and virginity in the Church are a luminous sign of love for God and for the brethren, which stems from an ever closer relationship with Christ in prayer and is expressed in the total gift of oneself.

Then the event in the Meazza Stadium was an encounter charged with enthusiasm. Here I experienced the embrace of a joyful multitude of young men and women who have received this year or who are about to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation. The careful preparation of the event, with meaningful texts and prayers, as well as choreography, made the meeting even more stimulating. To the youth of Milan I addressed the appeal to say a free and conscious “yes” to the Gospel of Jesus, accepting the gifts of the Holy Spirit which make it possible to be formed as Christians, to live the Gospel and to be active members of the community. I encouraged them to be dedicated to their studies in particular and to generous service of their neighbour.

The meeting with the representatives of institutional authorities, of business people and of workers, of the worlds of culture and of education of the Milanese and Lombard society enabled me to highlight how important it is that legislation and the work of the State institutions be at the service and for the safeguard of the person in his many aspects, starting with the right to life — whose deliberate suppression can never be legitimate — and with recognition of the identity proper to the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman.

After this appointment dedicated to the situation of the diocese and the city, I went to the vast Parco Nord in the territory of Bresso. Here I took part in the involving Feast of Testimonies entitled “One world, family, love”. Here I had the joy of meeting thousands of people, a rainbow of families from Italy and from across the world, who had already gathered in the early hours of the afternoon in a genuinely family atmosphere of festivity and warmth. Answering the questions of several families resulting from their life and experience, I wanted to give them a sign of the open dialogue that exists between families and the Church, between the world and the Church.

I was deeply impressed by the moving testimonies of married couples and children from different continents on highly topical themes of our times: the economic crisis, the difficulty in reconciling work time with time for the family, the spread of separations and divorces, and also existential questions that affect adults, young people and children. I would like here to recall what I said in defence of time for the family, threatened by a sort of “dictatorship” of work commitments: Sunday is the day of the Lord and of men and women, a day in which everyone must be able to be free, free for the family and free for God. In defending Sunday we defend human freedom!

The Holy Mass on Sunday, 3 June, for the conclusion of the Seventh World Meeting of Families was an immense and prayerful crowd that completely filled the area of Bresso Airport which seemed transformed into an open air cathedral, partly because of the reproductions of the magnificent polychrome stained-glass windows of the Cathedral that stood out on the dais.

To that multitude of the faithful from different nations, deeply immersed in the beautifully prepared liturgy, I launched an appeal to build ecclesial communities that would be increasingly families and would be able to reflect the beauty of the Blessed Trinity and to evangelize not only with words but by outreach, with the power of love lived, because love is the only power that can transform the world. I also stressed the importance of the “triad” of family, work and celebration. These are three gifts of God, three dimensions of our life that must find a harmonious balance in order to build societies with a human face.

I feel deeply grateful for these magnificent days in Milan. I thank Cardinal Ennio Antonelli and the Pontifical Council for the Family, all the Authorities, for their presence and collaboration in these event; my thanks also goes to the Prime Minister of the Italian Republic for having taken part in Holy Mass on Sunday. And I renew my cordial “thank you” to the various institutions which generously cooperated with the Holy See and with the Archdiocese of Milan in the organization of the Meeting; which had tremendous pastoral and ecclesial success, and vast echoes throughout the world. In fact it brought to Milan more than a million people, who peacefully invaded the streets for several days, witnessing to the beauty of the family, hope for humanity.

The World Meeting in Milan thus resulted from this most eloquent “epiphany” of the family, which was demonstrated in the variety of its expressions, but also in the oneness of its essential identity: that of a communion of love, founded on marriage and called to be the sanctuary of life, a miniature Church, the cell of society.

From Milan a message of hope was launched to the entire world. It was substantiated by the living experiences: it is possible and joyous, although demanding, to live faithful love open to life “forever”; it is possible to participate as families in the mission of the Church and in the construction of society. With the help of God and the special protection of Mary Most Holy, Queen of the Family, may the Milan experience bring abundant fruit to the Church’s journey; and may it be a harbinger of increased attention to the cause of the family, which coincides with that of man and of civilization. Many thanks.

To special groups:

I offer a cordial welcome to the Felician Sisters assembled for their General chapter and I offer my prayerful good wishes for their deliberations. I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking visitors, including those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Zimbabwe, Australia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the United States of America, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

I address a thought to the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. Dear young people, may the faithful love of God be the model of your relations with your brothers and sisters; dear sick people, you are never alone in your suffering but the whole Church prays for you and with you; lastly, dear newlyweds, may the communion of love which God lives in himself always be the basis of your conjugal and family relationship.

Finally, I would like to remind you that tomorrow, the Feast of Corpus Christi, we shall be celebrating Holy Mass at St John Lateran at 7:00 p.m., as we do every year. After the Mass the solemn procession down Via Merulana will end at St Mary Major. I invite the faithful of Rome and the pilgrims to join in this act of profound faith for the Eucharist, which is the most precious treasure of the Church and of humanity.

Paul VI Audience Hall

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Audiences 2005-2013 23052