Speeches 2005-13 25037


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this spring Sunday - even if the weather is not very fine - I warmly greet you all, starting with the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops and the Parish Priest. But I greet you above all, who are the living parish, the "living stones" of the Church.

Today is the day of the Annunciation of Mary, the day when we remember that Mary with her "yes" opened Heaven so that God is now one of us. She invites us also to say our "yes" to God, to let him enter our lives.

You have this beautiful parish church, a visible sign that God dwells beside us. But it is always important to build the living Church. And with your faith, your commitment, day after day, you build the living Church which then also gives life to the building.

Thank you for your commitment! Let us hope that the Lord will give you a good Sunday!

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PASTORAL COUNCIL Fifth Sunday of Lent, 25 March 2007


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am simply happy to be here with you, to see a community rich in faith, a young community, and so to see how the Church lives today. While the centre of Rome is somewhat depopulated, here we see that there is a lively Rome. It is the community to which St Paul wrote, where St Peter taught the Gospel. Here St Mark's Gospel came into being, according to tradition, as a reflection of St Peter's preaching.

Therefore, we are in a place where the seed of the Word of God grew from the outset and the "agape", love, also developed, so that 100 years later - more or less in the year 100 - St Ignatius could say that Rome presides in charity. And so it should be. It is not enough for the Pope to be in Rome. An active, committed Church must thrive in Rome, a Church which presides in charity. Therefore, it is a very happy experience for me to see in the parish that this Church of Rome exists, that she is still alive even after 2,000 years. I would like to greet you all. The parish priest has already introduced to me the various members of the community who are present here. We begin of course with the Cardinal Vicar, with the Auxiliary Bishop, with the parish priest, with the priests. And then there are so many groups. It is not necessary here to repeat what your parish priest has already said. I am grateful to all those who collaborate.

And I am grateful for the beautiful poem that was presented to me; one feels that it wells up from the very heart of this community. I see that the gift of poetry is still alive in Rome, even in these rather, as it were, unpoetic times. I do not wish at this point to enter into demanding considerations and reflections. I would only like to thank the adult lay people who are building a living parish.
Here you have the Vocationist Fathers. The word "Vocationist" is reminiscent of "vocation". We can examine two dimensions of this word. First of all, we think immediately of the vocation to the priesthood. But the word has a far broader, more general dimension.

Every person carries within himself a project of God, a personal vocation, a personal idea of God on what he is required to do in history to build his Church, a living Temple of his presence. And the priest's role is above all to reawaken this awareness, to help the individual discover his personal vocation, God's task for each one of us. I see that many here have discovered the project that concerns them, both with regard to professional life in the formation of today's society - where the presence of Christian consciences is fundamental - and also with regard to the call to contribute to the Church's growth and life. Both these things are equally important.

A society where Christian conscience is no longer alive loses its bearings; it no longer knows where to go, what it can do, what it cannot do, and ends up in emptiness, it fails. Only if a living awareness of the faith illumines our hearts can we also build a just society. It is not the Magisterium that imposes doctrine. It is the Magisterium that helps enable the conscience itself to hear God's voice, to know what is good, what is the Lord's will. It is only an aid so that personal responsibility, nourished by a lively conscience, may function well and thus contribute to ensuring that justice is truly present in our society: justice within ourselves and universal justice for all our brothers and sisters in the world today. Today, globalization is not only economic: there is also a globalization of responsibilities, this universality, which is why we are all responsible for everyone.

The Church offers us the encounter with Christ, with the living God, with the "Logos" who is Truth and Light, who does not coerce consciences, does not impose a partial doctrine but helps us ourselves to be men and women who are completely fulfilled and thus to live in personal responsibility and in deeper communion with one another, a communion born from communion with God, with the Lord. I see here this living community. I am grateful to the priests, I am grateful to all of you, their collaborators. And I hope that the Lord will help you and enlighten you always.
Already today, Passion Sunday, I wish you a Happy Easter and I wish your parish, your community, this suburb of Fidene, great good also in the future. ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI


Madam Ambassador,

I welcome you with pleasure, Your Excellency, on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ukraine to the Holy See.

I thank you for your kind words as well as for the greetings you have conveyed to me from H.E. Mr Victor Iouchtchenko, President of the Republic. I would be grateful if you would reciprocate by expressing to him my cordial good wishes for himself as well as my thanks for his warm invitation to visit your beautiful Country, while I remember the Pastoral Visit of my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, in 2001. Through you, I am also pleased to address my best wishes for happiness and prosperity to the Ukrainian People.

Fifteen years have passed since the Holy See and your Country established diplomatic relations, and important headway has been made. In recent years Ukraine, which has always had a vocation as a gateway between East and West due to its location on the Eastern fringes of Europe, has adopted and reinforced a policy of openness and collaboration with the other countries of the Continent.

The Holy See appreciates this perspective which helps restore to Europe its true dimension while assuring the conditions for a fruitful exchange between the countries of West and East, the two cultural "lungs" which have forged Europe's history and have left their mark in particular on its Christian history.

I am certain that the Ukrainian Nation, whose life, culture and institutions were deeply imbued with the Gospel subsequent to its Baptism in Kiev more than 1,000 years ago, will have at heart to bring the dynamism of its identity to other nations, while preserving its original characteristics.

Indeed, in our world increasingly constrained by the urgent pressures of globalization, it is important to encourage a demanding and profound dialogue with cultures and religions. The purpose is not to level them all out in an impoverishing syncretism, but rather, to enable them to develop in mutual respect and to work for the common good, each one in accordance with its specific charism.

This approach will certainly make it possible to reduce the constantly smouldering sources of tension and confrontation between groups or nations and will thus guarantee all the conditions for lasting peace and development.

In this regard, I rejoice in the good atmosphere of relations between the Public Authorities, Communities and the Ecclesial Churches based in Ukraine. Believers in your Country enjoy religious freedom, which is an essential dimension of human freedom, hence, a major expression of human dignity.

In fact, by making a correct distinction between the responsibilities proper to the religious and civil spheres, the State recognizes the different religions and the various religious denominations. It guarantees them equal rights before the law, thereby permitting each one to find its place in Ukrainian society and play its own specific role for the good of the entire Nation.

One of the vocations of the Catholic Church is expressed in the importance she has always given to the education of the young, especially through the apostolate of numerous religious institutions dedicated to this task in the course of history.

For the Church, it is a matter of enabling young people to receive a solid and integral formation founded on Christian ethical principles, and thus on the fundamental dignity of the human being created in God's image. They will thus be able to find a way to personal, moral and spiritual fulfilment.

They will also be better equipped to take on their role in society in the future, with the ongoing concern to further respect for human dignity in its different expressions, in the areas of politics, economics and bioethics.

The Catholic Church desires to play an active part in this great educational mission, putting her experience at the service of all and being in contact with other Christian confessions, as demonstrated by the collaboration successfully undertaken and achieved in the context of the Pan-Ukrainian Council of Churches and Religious Organizations, with the goal to work out together a programme for the teaching of Christian ethics in public schools.
Theology, a university discipline

I am also eager to express my pleasure in the prerogative the Ministry of Education has recently granted to the Catholic University of Ukraine to award the Bachelor's Degree and Licentiate in Theology. This is obviously an important event for the life of the Church in Ukraine because by their decision the Ukrainian Authorities have recognized the status of theology as a university discipline.

Madam Ambassador, permit me once again to greet through you the Catholic community that lives in Ukraine. It belongs to the two Rites, Byzantine and Latin. Furthermore, it has very much at heart the ongoing dialogue between both traditions, Eastern and Western, which are part of the life of the Catholic Church and have shaped the history of the European Continent as well as that of your Country.

I thank the President of the Republic in particular for his cordial attention to the Bishops of the Latin-Rite Bishops' Conference of Ukraine, whom he recently met, and I am certain of the commitment of all Catholics in Ukraine to the service of the common good of the Country.

I know that they wish to witness to the Gospel every day through solidarity with the lowly, determination to build peace and a desire to consolidate increasingly the values of the family based on the institution of marriage.

I also know of their wish to advance on the path of unity with their Orthodox brothers and sisters, as well as with the brothers and sisters of other Christian denominations.

Therefore, I encourage them to show that they are always ready to support the ecumenical dialogue, which is so necessary to overcome the difficulties and achieve the long-awaited unity to offer to the world an ever truer witness of the Good News.

Your Excellency, at the time when you are officially inaugurating your duties, I offer you my best wishes for the success of your mission. You may rest assured, Madam Ambassador, that you will always find cordial attention and understanding among the different services of the Holy See.

Upon you yourself, your family, your colleagues at the Embassy and upon the Authorities and People of Ukraine, I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings.


Dear Friends,

I am particularly pleased with your visit and I address my cordial greeting to each one of you. I greet in particular your President, Mr Giorgio Natalino Guerrini, and thank him for his courteous and profound words to me on behalf of all. I extend my respectful thoughts to the other directors and members of your Confederation, which is now more than 60 years old, years rich with intense activity.

Confartigianato was founded in 1946 on the principle of free enrolment open to every geographical, sectorial and cultural member of entrepreneurial activity and small artisan businesses. There is no doubt that it has helped to build the modern Italian Nation. It has characterized certain important aspects of the Nation's development in society and economics, art and culture, and has impressed its own stylistic code upon Italian progress.

Indeed, if until a few decades ago, craftwork evoked something "old-fashioned" and "picturesque", to be associated with the image of the locksmith or the cobbler's workshop, today instead it stands for autonomy, creativity and personalization in the production of goods and services.

Dear friends, your presence offers me the opportunity to reflect on an important aspect of human experience. I am referring to the reality of work, which in this age is in the midst of tremendous economic and social changes that are increasingly rapid and complex.

In the Bible, the authentic meaning of human work is highlighted in various passages. To start with Genesis, we read that the Creator made man in his image and likeness and invited him to cultivate the earth (cf. Gn Gn 2,5-6).

Work is consequently inherent in man's original condition. Unfortunately, because of our first parents' sin it became an effort and a penalty (cf. Gn Gn 3,6-8), but in the divine plan its value has remained unchanged.

And the Church, faithful to God's Word, does not cease to recall the principle: "Work is "for man' and not man "for work'" (Laborem Exercens LE 6). Thus, she ceaselessly proclaims the primacy of man over the work of his hands and recalls that it must all be oriented to the true progress of the human person and the common good: capital, science, technology, public resources and even private ownership.

This has been felicitously achieved in the craftwork businesses you represent, which are inspired by the Gospel teachings and the principles of the Church's social doctrine.

I would like here to recall what the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church says in this regard: "Work in small and medium-sized businesses, the work of artisans and independent work can represent an occasion to make the actual work experience more human, both in terms of the possibility of establishing positive personal relationships in smaller-sized communities and in terms of the opportunities for greater initiative and industriousness" (n. 315).

Dear artisans, on the occasion of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, my Predecessor John Paul II addressed some significant words to you which have retained the same timeliness and urgency. Today, I would like to present them once again to the whole of Confartigianato: "You can give new strength and practical expression to those values which have always marked your activity: quality, a spirit of initiative, the promotion of artistic skills, freedom and cooperation, the correct relationship between technology and the environment, devotion to family, good neighbourly relations.

"In the past", he added, "the culture of crafts has created great occasions for bringing people together and has bequeathed wonderful syntheses of culture and faith to later generations" (Teachings of John Paul II, 2000, vol. 1P 372).

Dear friends, continue with tenacity and perseverance to preserve and put to good use the productive craft culture that can give life to important opportunities for balanced financial progress and encounters between men and peoples.

Furthermore, may you as Christians be committed to living and testifying to the "Gospel of work", in the awareness that the Lord calls all the baptized to holiness through their daily occupations.
Josemaría Escrivá, a Saint of our times, notes in this regard that since Christ who worked as a craftsman took it into his hands, "work has become for us a redeemed and redemptive reality. Not only is it the background of man's life, it is a means and path of holiness. It is something to be sanctified and something which sanctifies" (Christ Is Passing By, Homily, n. 47).

May the Virgin Mary, who lived in hardworking concealment, and St Joseph, Patron of the Church and your special Protector, help you in this task which becomes a precious service to evangelization. At the school of the Family of Nazareth you can learn how to join more easily a coherent life of faith with the efforts and difficulties of work, personal profit and the commitment to solidarity for the needy.

As I renew to you the expression of my gratitude for your visit, I assure you of a special remembrance in prayer for each one of you and for your various activities, and I cordially bless you together with your loved ones.

April 2007



I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors here this Palm Sunday, when we acclaim Jesus, model of humility, our Messiah and King. In a special way I greet all the young people gathered in Rome and around the world to celebrate World Youth Day. May the great events of Holy Week, in which we see love unfold in its most radical form, inspire you to be courageous "witnesses of charity" for your friends, your communities and our world. Upon each of you present and your families, I invoke God's Blessings of peace and wisdom.



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

By following Jesus on the way of his Passion we not only see the Passion of Jesus, but we also see all the suffering in the world, and this is the profound intention of the prayer of the Way of the Cross: to open our hearts and to help us to see with our heart.

The Fathers of the Church considered insensitivity and hardness of heart the greatest sin of the pagan world and were fond of the Prophet Ezekiel's prophecy: "I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh" (cf. Ez Ez 36,26).

Being converted to Christ, becoming Christian, meant receiving a heart of flesh, a heart sensitive to the passion and suffering of others.

Our God is not a remote God, intangible in his blessedness. Our God has a heart.

Indeed, he has a heart of flesh; he was made flesh precisely to be able to suffer with us and to be with us in our suffering.

He was made man to give us a heart of flesh and to reawaken within us love for the suffering, for the destitute.

Let us pray to the Lord at this time for all the suffering people of the world.

Let us pray to the Lord that he will truly give us a heart of flesh, that he will make us messengers of his love not only with words, but with our entire life. Amen.


Your Eminence, Dear Canon and Dear Friends,

There is so much to be grateful for that I do not know where to begin. And when the heart is full, words can sometimes spill over, yet at times one can be tongue-tied. At this moment, I have no words to express my heartfelt gratitude as I should like. I want to thank you warmly, dear Brother, for all that you have done in these long years as Archbishop of Munich, for all your energy, your faith, your love, knowledge, courage and friendship. I think that the Archdiocese feels all this and knows that it has been guided by a Good Shepherd. In these hours let us pray to God to help us to find the right person to take in hand St Corbinian's apostolate.

Above all, I would like to give heartfelt thanks for the experiences I had during those beautiful days of my Visit to Bavaria, especially to Munich and to Freising, and for the love, attention, careful preparation, dedication and, obviously, the prayers in common.

Those days - from the beginning at the airport and especially in Marienplatz, in the Cathedral of Munich and that of Freising, at the Fair and in the Bishops' Residence itself - are luminously present in my mind. The human being needs memories to help him.

I am accustomed to thinking back with a grateful heart to the landscape of memories; and it is then that I am particularly fond of thinking back to those blessed days.

I thank you all, dear Brothers: a special personal relationship binds me to each one of you; I do not need to list them here - nor could I. I know well that each of you, in your office, carries out a service for the Archdiocese, for the Church of God, in profound communion with the one chosen to be the Successor of Peter.

I know, so to speak, that an entire existential process and the gift of a life, the inner struggle and the effort of an existence are interwoven with your commitment and shine out in the Archdiocese, helping to ensure that you are able to live faith in the communion of the Church, in communion with the Lord and in communion with Our Lady of Munich, and joyously to pass it on to the future.

You are the Metropolitan Chapter of Our Lady - what a lovely name -, which unites, precisely, the metropolis, that is, the mother-city of the faith with the Mother of faith herself, thus to be able to spread the warmth and cordiality of the faith in our Land of Bavaria.

This morning, I had two encouraging conversations: one with the Minister President of Bavaria and the other with the Minister President of Schleswig-Holstein; in spite of coming from remarkably different environments and temperaments, they both expressed the inner certainty that faith gives access to a future and that at this moment in the encounter of cultures and with the conflict of cultures on the horizon, it is of prime importance that the interior, pacifying and healing power of the Christian faith remain alive in our people and thereby influence the future as a force for good.

There was another good meeting this morning: with Metropolitan Ioannis Zizioulas of Pergamon, the Envoy of the Patriarch of Constantinople, one of the great champions of the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. He is sustained by a deep inner conviction that the encounter between Rome and Orthodoxy is fundamentally important for the European Continent and the future of universal history, and that we must spare no effort to ensure that this encounter truly leads to brotherly communion and that from it is then born the blessing of communion of faith: the blessing so that humanity may see that we are "one" and, on this basis, believe in Christ.

I think this is our common mission: to commit ourselves, each in his own role, so that the power of faith may become active in this world and effective as joy, as trust, as a gift at this moment.

Thank you again for the meeting in Munich and for the meeting here. Let us pray together that the Lord will help us, each one of us, to do the right thing, and thus that our history may be blessed. A warm "thank you" to you all, and please greet Bavaria for me!



Hall of Dukes Monday, 16 April 2007

Dear Brothers and Friends,

At this moment I can only say "thank you" with all my heart.

My thanks go first of all to the Cardinal Dean of the Sacred College, both for his words paying homage to me yesterday with exquisite kindness and for what was written in 30 Giorni [30 Days magazine], and then for his most sensitive and competent organization of this very fine luncheon, at which we have experienced a moment of our affective and effective collegiality.

Indeed, I would say that it was not only a moment of collegiality but also of authentic brotherhood. We truly felt how beautiful it is to be together: "Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum" (Ps 133[132]: 1).

I am grateful for this experience of brotherhood, which I also feel in my daily life. Even if we do not see one another constantly, I always sense and notice the collaboration of those who help me. The College of Cardinals really offers effective and important support to the work of the Successor of Peter.

I would further like to say "thank you" here to all the Cardinals who wrote such beautiful things, both in 30 Giorni and in the special column of Avvenire newspaper, as well as in other publications.

I also thank those who did not write, but thought and prayed. The true gift to me today is prayer, which gives me the certainty that I am accepted from within and above all, assisted and sustained in my Petrine ministry, a ministry which I cannot carry out on my own but only in communion with all who help me, also by praying, so that the Lord may be with all of us and also with me.

Today, in the Office of Readings we recited the words of a Psalm which ring especially true and are very precious to me: "In manibus tuis sortes meae" (Ps 31[30]: 16); in the Vetus latina the text was: "In manu tua tempora mea"; the Italian translation says: "Nelle tue mani sono i miei giorni"; the Greek text speaks of kairoi mou [the English translation is "my times are in your hands"].

All these versions mirror a single truth: that our time, every day, the events of our life, our destiny and our action are in the good hands of the Lord. This accounts for the great trust with which we go ahead, knowing that these hands of the Lord are sustained by the hands and hearts of so many Cardinals.

This is a cause of great joy to me today. I thank you all, and offer you very many good wishes!

Paul VI Audience Hall Monday, 16 April 2007
Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

At the end of this marvellous concert at which the Stuttgart Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra have offered us a gift by uplifting our hearts, I would like to greet you all warmly.

I thank Minister Willi Stächele and Prof. Peter Voss, Director of the Südwestrundfunks, for their courteous words to me at the beginning.

I willingly and joyfully accepted your musical gift, this marvellous Birthday present from Southwest Germany, especially because the Baden-Württemberg Land is linked to an important and formative phase of my life. The Minister has already mentioned my roots.

In fact, I willingly think back to my years at Tübingen, to the intellectual and scientific exchange in that university and the many precious meetings with people which I had there and which continued for years and decades and are still taking place.

Above all, I would now like to thank the musicians of this evening's event, the members of the Stuttgarter Radio-Sinfonieorchesters,the SWR, who with their skill have offered us all an authentic experience of the inspiring power of great music.

I thank Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor, and Hilary Hahn, the soloist, and all of you, Ladies and Gentlemen. Since the language of music is universal, we see people from completely different cultural and religious backgrounds who let themselves be gripped and likewise guided by it and who also interpret it.

Today, this universal aspect of music is given special emphasis, thanks to the electronic and digital instruments of communications. How many people there are in the most diverse countries who are able to take part in this musical performance at home, or experience it later!

I am convinced that music - and here I am thinking in particular of the great Mozart and this evening, of course, of the marvellous music by Gabrieli and the majestic "New World" by Dvorák - really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth and get them to lift their gaze on high and open themselves to the Absolute Good and Beauty whose ultimate source is God himself.

In looking back over my life, I thank God for placing music beside me, as it were, as a travelling companion that has offered me comfort and joy. I also thank the people who from the very first years of my childhood brought me close to this source of inspiration and serenity.

I thank those who combine music and prayer in harmonious praise of God and his works: they help us glorify the Creator and Redeemer of the world, which is the marvellous work of his hands.

This is my hope: that the greatness and beauty of music will also give you, dear friends, new and continuous inspiration in order to build a world of love, solidarity and peace.

For this I invoke upon us who are gathered this evening in the Vatican and upon everyone who is linked to us via radio and television the constant protection of God, of that God of love who desires to kindle ceaselessly in our hearts the flame of good, and to feed it with his grace. May he, the Lord and Giver of new and definitive life, whose victory we are joyfully celebrating in this Easter Season, bless you all!

I thank you once again for your presence and for your good wishes.

A Happy Easter Season to everyone!

Thank you!

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PAPAL FOUNDATION Clementine Hall Friday, 20 April 2007


Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the members of The Papal Foundation on the occasion of your annual pilgrimage to Rome. This year our meeting is once again filled with the joy of the Easter season, in which the Church commemorates Christ’s passover from death to life, the dawn of the new creation and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May the same Spirit fill your hearts with gifts of wisdom, joy and peace, and may your pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs renew your love of the Lord and his Church.

Since its inception, The Papal Foundation has sought to advance the Church’s mission by supporting specific charities close to the heart of the Successor of Peter in his solicitude for all the Churches (cf.
1Co 11,28). I willingly take this occasion to express my gratitude not only for the assistance which the Foundation has given to developing countries through grants supporting a variety of educational and charitable projects, but also through the many scholarships provided to Pontifical Universities here in Rome for lay faithful, priests and religious. In this way, you are making a significant contribution to the formation of future leaders whose minds and hearts are shaped by the teaching of the Gospel, the wisdom of Catholic social teaching and a profound sense of communion with the universal Church in her service to the entire human family.

During this Easter season I encourage all of you to discover ever more fully in the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ’s sacrificial love, the inspiration and strength needed to work ever more generously for the spread of God’s Kingdom and the growth of the civilization of love (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 90). With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.


TO THE YOUTH AND SICK OF THE DIOCESE Balcony of the Bishopric Sant' Ambrogio Square, Vigevano Saturday, 21 April 2007


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be with you and I thank you for your cordial and festive welcome. As I emerged from the helicopter, it was almost as if I heard the echo of the bells of all the churches in the Diocese pealing joyfully as they offered me a unanimous greeting. I am grateful to you for this gesture of affection.

My first meeting was with the school children and those who belong to sports associations, who had come to welcome me at the municipal stadium. Then along the way, I saw multitudes of people. Thank you to each and every one.

I wanted to begin my Pastoral Pilgrimage in Italy here in Vigevano, the only Lombard Diocese that my Predecessor John Paul II did not visit.

Thus, it is as though I were starting out afresh on the path he trod to continue proclaiming to the men and women of beloved Italy the announcement, old and ever new, which rings out with special clarity in this Easter Season: Christ is risen! Christ is alive! Christ is with us today and for ever!

I greet the Mayor of this City whom I thank for his courteous words of welcome on behalf of the civic community. I express my heartfelt thanks to all who cooperated in various ways in the arrangement and organization of my Visit, for which you prepared yourselves in particular by prayer.

I address a special thought to the Sisters, Perpetual Adorers of the Most Blessed Sacrament, whom I have just met; their praying presence is an everlasting reminder to the entire Diocese to be increasingly aware of the importance of the Eucharist, the centre and summit of the life of the Church. I reach out with my encouragement and gratitude to these beloved Sisters, who have consecrated their entire lives to the Lord.

I then greet the sick and, as I speak to you who are present here, I extend my thoughts to all the people in the villages and towns of the Diocese who are suffering, in difficulty or marginalized. May the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin sustain and comfort each one of you in times of trial.

I address a special greeting to you, dear young people who have gathered in this square, as I embrace in spirit all the young people of Vigevano and Lomello. Dear friends, the Risen Christ renews to each one of you his invitation to follow him. Do not hesitate to entrust yourselves to him: meet him, listen to him, love him with all your heart; in friendship with him you will experience the true joy that gives meaning and value to life.

Dear brothers and sisters, I would gladly have accepted the invitation to extend my stay in your Diocese, but it is impossible for me to do so; thus, I enclose in a warm embrace every inhabitant of this City and of the Vicariates of Mortara, Garlasco, Mede and Cava Manara. In a little while, we will all be gathered in spirit around the altar for the solemn Eucharistic concelebration, and we will pray that the Risen Lord will ensure that the Visit of the Successor of Peter will inspire renewed religious fervour in every member of your diocesan Community. With this greeting, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

Speeches 2005-13 25037