Speeches 2005-13 328


Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome to you all! I address my cordial greeting to Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, whom I thank for his kind words; to Archbishop Robert Sarah, Secretary; Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, Adjunct Secretary and President of the Pontifical Mission Societies; to all of the Dicastery's collaborators, and in a special way to the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies who have come from all the Churches to convene in Rome for the Annual Ordinary Assembly of the Supreme Committee.

I am particularly grateful to this Congregation, whose assignment to "direct and coordinate missionary work and missionary cooperation throughout the world" (Ad Gentes AGD 29) was confirmed by the Second Vatican Council, in accordance with the Congregation's founding Statute in 1622. It is a weighty mission, that of evangelization, especially in our time in which humanity suffers from a certain lack of reflection and wisdom (cf. Caritas in Veritate ) and a humanism is spreading that excludes God (cf. ibid., n. 78). For this reason it is even more urgent and necessary to illuminate new problems that arise with the light of the Gospel that does not change. In fact, we are convinced that the Lord Jesus Christ, faithful witness of the Father's love, "by his death and Resurrection, is the principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity" (ibid., n. 1). At the beginning of my ministry as the Successor of the Apostle Peter I strongly affirmed: "the purpose of our lives is to reveal God to men. And only where God is seen does life truly begin. Only when we meet the living God in Christ do we know what life is.... There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him" (Homily at the start of Petrine Ministry, 24 April 2005). Preaching the Gospel is an invaluable service that the Church can offer to the whole of humanity that journeys through history. You who come from Dioceses across the world are an eloquent and living sign of the catholicity of the Church, which finds expression in the universal breath of the apostolic mission, "to the end of the earth" (Ac 1,8), "to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20), so that no people nor environment may be deprived of the light and grace of Christ. This is the significance, the historical trajectory, the mission and hope of the Church.

The mission of proclaiming the Gospel to all peoples entails a critical judgment on the worldwide transformations that are now substantially changing humanity's culture. The Church present and active on the geographical and anthropological frontiers bears a message that has been passed down through history, in which she proclaims inalienable human values, with the proclamation and witness of God's saving plan made visible and operative in Christ. Preaching the Gospel is the call of God's children to freedom, to the construction of an ever more just and solidary society, and to our preparation for eternal life. Whoever participates in Christ's mission must inevitably face tribulation, conflict and suffering, because they will come up against the resistance and the powers of this world.
And we, like the Apostle Paul, have no arms but the word of Christ and of his Cross (cf. 1 Cor: 1: 22-25). The mission ad gentes asks the Church and her missionaries to accept the consequences of their ministry: evangelical poverty, which confers on them the freedom to preach the Gospel with courage and openness; non-violence, by which they respond to evil with good (cf. Mt 5,38-42 Rm 12,17-21); willingness to give their life for Christ's name and for love of mankind.

Just as the Apostle Paul showed the authenticity of his apostolate through the persecutions, wounds and harassment he endured (cf. 2Co 6-7), so also is persecution the proof of the authenticity of our own apostolic mission. But it is important to remember that the Gospel "takes shape in human minds and hearts and extends through history. In all this it is the Holy Spirit who gives life" (John Paul II, Encyclical Dominum et vivificantem DEV 64), and that the Church and her missionaries have been empowered by the Spirit to fulfil the mission entrusted to them (cf. ibid., n. 25). It is the Holy Spirit (cf. 1Co 14) who unites and preserves the Church, giving her strength to grow, filling Christ's disciples with an overflowing wealth of charisms. And it is from the Holy Spirit that the Church receives the authority of the apostolic proclamation and ministry. Therefore, I wish to strongly reiterate what I have already said in regard to development (cf. Caritas in Veritate ), that is, that evangelization needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that the conversion of the world to Christ is not brought about by us, but given to us. The celebration of the Year for Priests has truly helped us to be more aware that missionary work requires an ever increasingly profound union with the One who God the Father sent for the salvation of all. It is a call to participation in that "new way of life" which the Lord Jesus inaugurated and which the Apostles made their own (cf. Address to participants at the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for the Clergy, 16 March 2009).

Dear friends, my thanks again to all of you of the Pontifical Mission Societies, who in diverse ways are committed to safeguarding the missionary awareness of the local Churches. You impel them to more active participation in the missio ad gentes through the formation and the sending out of men and women missionaries and through solidary aid to the young Churches. My warm gratitude goes to you also for the reception and formation of priests, women religious, seminarians, and laypersons offered by the Congregation's Pontifical Colleges. As I entrust your ecclesial service to the protection of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles, I bless you all wholeheartedly.



Mr Prime Minister,
Honourable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church,

I am glad to extend a cordial welcome to each one of you, honourable Members of the Official Delegation, who have come to Rome on the happy occasion of the liturgical Memorial of Sts Cyril and Methodius. Your presence, which testifies to the Christian roots of the Bulgarian people, offers me the propitious opportunity to express my esteem for this dear Nation, and permits us to consolidate our friendship, fortified by devotion for these two brother Saints from Thessalonica.

Through their tireless work of evangelization, realized with truly apostolic ardour, Sts Cyril and Methodius providentially rooted Christianity in the soul of the Bulgarian people. Thus it has become anchored in those Gospel values which always strengthen a nation's identity and enrich its culture. The Gospel, in fact, does not weaken the authenticity of diverse cultural traditions. On the contrary, precisely because faith in Jesus shows us the splendour of Truth; it gives a person the capacity to recognize what is truly good and in turn helps him or her to express it in life and in the social context. It is therefore reasonable to maintain that Sts Cyril and Methodius made a significant contribution to shaping the humanity and the spiritual makeup of the Bulgarian people, bringing it into a shared cultural Christian tradition.

On the journey towards full integration with the other European nations, Bulgaria is thus called to foster and witness to those Christian roots, which derive from the teachings of Sts Cyril and Methodius, which are more timely and necessary today than ever. It is called, that is, to remain faithful and to guard the precious heritage that unites those who profess the same faith in the Apostles and are united by a common Baptism, whether Orthodox or Catholic. As Christians, we have the task of conserving and reinforcing the intrinsic bond that exists between the Gospel and our respective cultural identities. As disciples of the Lord in mutual respect of the diverse ecclesial traditions we are called to a shared witness of our faith in Jesus, in whose name we may obtain salvation.

I wholeheartedly hope that our meeting may be for all of those pres-ent, and for the ecclesial and civil entities that you represent, a catalyst for ever more intense, fraternal and supportive relations. With these sentiments, I encourage the Bulgarian people to persevere in the edification of a society founded on justice and peace. To this end, I assure you of my prayers and my spiritual nearness. I renew to you, Mr Prime Minister, and to each of you, my blessing which I also extend to all of the citizens of your beloved Country.



Mr President of the Assembly,
Honourable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church,

I am glad to welcome you and to express my joy and appreciation to the Lord, giver of every grace, for this occasion that sees us gathered together to invoke him through the intercession of Sts Cyril and Methodius heavenly patrons of your population and of all Europe in the annual pilgrimage that you make to Rome to venerate St Cyril's relics.

My beloved Predecessor, the Venerable John Paul II, in the Encyclical Slavorum Apostoli, reminded us all that, thanks to the teachings and the fruits of the Second Vatican Council, today we can look in a new way at the work of the Holy Brothers of Thessalonica, "now separated from us by 11 centuries. And we can read in their lives and apostolic activity the elements that the wisdom of divine Providence placed in them, so that they might be revealed with fresh fullness in our own age and might bear new fruits" (n. 3). The fruits of Cyril and Methodius' evangelization in their time were truly abundant. They knew suffering, deprivation and hostility, but they endured all of it with unwavering faith and invincible hope in God. With this strength, they gave their all for the peoples entrusted to them, preserving the Scriptural texts indispensable in the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy that they had translated into a paleo-Slavic language, written in a new alphabet and for which they subsequently gained the authoritative approval of the Church. In difficulty and in happiness, they felt they were always accompanied by God, whose love they experienced daily, along with that of their brothers and sisters. We too understand ever more fully that when we feel loved by the Lord and we know how to respond to this love, we are enveloped in and guided by his grace in all of our activities and our actions.

With the outpouring of the multiple gifts of the Holy Spirit, the more we learn how to love and to give ourselves to others, the more the same Spirit can come to aid us in our weakness, showing us new ways to act. According to tradition, Methodius remained faithful to the end to the words his brother Cyril had said to him on his deathbed: "Behold, my brother, we have shared the same destiny, ploughing the same furrow; I now fall in the field at the end of my day.... Do not... give up your work of teaching" (ibid., n. 6). Dear brothers and sisters, together let us put our hands to the plough and continue to work the same furrow that God, in his providence, indicated to Sts Cyril and Methodius. May the Lord bless your work at the service of the common good and of your entire Nation, and shower it with the gifts of his Spirit of unity and peace.



Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished and Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet you on the occasion of the study Conference promoted by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation. I greet Cardinal Attilio Nicora, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and the other Prelates and priests present. I am thinking in particular of the President, Mr Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, whom I thank for his kind words. I also extend a greeting to you, Counsellors and Members of the Foundation, whom have wished to visit me with your families.

I was glad to see that the central focus of your meeting is reflection on the relationship between "development, progress, common good". Indeed, today more than ever, the human family may develop as a free society of free peoples if globalization is guided by solidarity and by the common good, and also by a relative social justice, which find a precious source in the message of Christ and in the Church. In reality, the crisis and difficulties which are now afflicting international relations, the States, society and the economy, are largely due to the lack of trust and inadequate supportive and creative inspiration, as well as a lack of dynamism oriented to the common good, which lead to authentic human relationships of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity even "within" economic activities. The common good is the goal that gives meaning to progress and to development, which would otherwise be limited solely to the production of material goods. These are necessary, but unless they are oriented to the common good, consumerism, waste, poverty and imbalances will ultimately prevail factors impeding progress and development.

As I highlighted in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, one of the greatest risks in the world today is that "the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development" (n. 9). For example, such interaction appears to be too weak in those governments which, in the face of renewed episodes of irresponsible speculation with regard to the weakest nations, fail to react by introducing adequate measures for financial regulation. Politics must take priority over finance and ethics should direct every activity.

Without the common good as a universal reference point, one cannot say that a true global ethos exists and that there is a corresponding will to enact it through appropriate institutions. The identification of those goods to which all peoples must have access for their human fulfilment is thus crucial. And this should not be undertaken casually, but in an orderly and harmonious manner. Indeed, the common good is made up of many goods: material, cognitive and institutional goods, and moral and spiritual goods. The latter are superior to the former. The commitment to the common good of the family of nations, as for every society, thus involves tending and making available a complex of institutions which give legal, civil, political and cultural structure to social life globally in such a way that they become a form of a pólis, a human city (cf. ibid., 7). In this way, it may be ensured that the economic-productive order is socially responsible and at the service of humanity, with combined and united action on more fronts, also internationally (cf. ibid., nn. 57, 67). Likewise, the consolidation of constitutional, legal and administrative systems needs to be supported in nations which do not yet fully enjoy them. Therefore, besides economic assistance, there must be aid intended to reinforce the real guarantees of a State of law, a system of true and efficient public order, in full respect of human rights, along with truly democratic and participative institutions (cf. ibid., n. 41).

However, what is fundamental and a priority in view to the development of the entire family of nations is to make every effort to recognize the true scale of values and goods. Only with a correct hierarchy of human goods will it be possible to understand which type of growth should be supported. The integral development of nations, which is the main objective of the universal common good, cannot be achieved by the diffusion of entrepreneurship alone (cf. ibid.), material and cognitive goods such as housing and education, from the choices available. This is provided especially by the increasing number of good decisions that are possible when a notion of integral human good exists, when there is a telos, an end, in the light of which growth is considered and desired. The notion of integral human growth presumes precise coordinates, such as subsidiarity and solidarity, in addition to an interdependence between State, society and the market. In a global society, composed of many peoples and of various religions, the common good and integral development are only achieved with the input of all. In this, religions are crucial, particularly when they teach brotherhood and peace, because they teach people to make room for God and to be open to the Transcendent, especially in our society marked by secularization. The exclusion of religions from the public sphere, just as, in another way, religious fundamentalism, impedes the encounter of peoples and their collaboration for the progress of humanity. The life of society is drained of its motivation and politics assumes oppressive and aggressive features (cf. ibid. n. 56).

Dear friends, the Christian vision of development, progress and the common good the way it emerges from the Social Doctrine of the Church responds to man's deepest expectations and your commitment to delve into it and to disseminate it is a valid contribution towards the edification of "the civilization of love". For this I express my gratitude and best wishes, and I impart my heartfelt Blessing to you all.



Dear and Venerated Brothers,

In the Gospel proclaimed last Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost, Jesus promised: "The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14,26). The Holy Spirit guides the Church through the world and through the course of history. Thanks to this gift of the Risen Christ, the Lord remains with us as events pass by; it is through the Spirit that we can recognise in Christ the meaning of human events. The Holy Spirit gives us the Church, communion and the community constantly convened, renewed, and sent forwards towards the accomplishment of the Kingdom of God. The origin and fundamental reason for your presence here and for my being once more, with joy, among you on the occasion of this annual appointment, lies in ecclesiastical communion. In this perspective I exhort you to consider the themes of your work, in which you are called upon to reflect: on the life and renewal of the pastoral activity of the Church in Italy. I am grateful to Cardinal Bagnasco for the strong and courteous words he has addressed to me, acting as the interpreter of your feelings: the Pope knows that he can always count on the Italian Bishops. Through you I greet the diocesan communities entrusted to your care, while I extend my thoughts and my spiritual closeness to all the people of Italy.

Sustained by the Spirit, and following the path indicated by the Second Vatican Council, and in particular the pastoral orientations of the decade which has just come to an end, you have chosen to take education as your principal theme for the next ten years. This time scale is appropriate for the radical and broad nature of the educational question. It seems to me that it is necessary to go to the deepest roots of this emergency in order to find the appropriate answers to this challenge. I see two above all. One essential root I think consists in a false concept of man's autonomy: man should develop on his own, without interference from others, who could assist his self-development but should not enter into this development. In reality, the essential fact is that the human person becomes himself only with the other. The "I" becomes itself only from the "thou" and from the "you". It is created for dialogue, for synchronic and diachronic communion. It is only the encounter with the "you" and with the "we" that the "I" opens to itself. Thus, the so-called antiauthoritarian education is not education but the rejection of education; thus what we are bound to impart to others is not imparted, meaning this "you" and "we" in which the "I" opens to itself. Therefore a first point seems to me to be this: to overcome this false idea of man's autonomy as a complete "I" in himself, whereas the "I" is fulfilled in the encounter with the "you" and "we".

I see the other root of the educational emergency in scepticism and relativism or, in simpler, clearer words, the exclusion of the two sources that orient the human journey. The first source would be nature according to Revelation. But today Nature is considered as a purely mechanical thing, which therefore does not contain any moral imperative in itself, any value orientation: it is purely a mechanical thing and orientation comes from being itself. Revelation is considered either as a moment in historical development, therefore relative like all historical and cultural development, or it is said perhaps there is Revelation but it does not contain content, only motivations. And if these two sources are silent, Nature and Revelation then, the third source, history, no longer speaks, because history too becomes only a conglomeration of occasional, arbitrary cultural decisions which have no value for the present nor for the future. It is fundamental to recover a true concept of Nature as the Creation of God that speaks to us; the Creator, through the book of Creation speaks to us and shows us the true values. And thus finding Revelation: recognizing that the book of Creation, in which God gives us the fundamental orientation, is deciphered in Revelation, is applied and becomes itself in cultural and religious history, not without mistakes, but in a substantially valid manner, to be further developed and purified anew. Thus, in this "concert" so to speak between Creation deciphered in Revelation, concretized in cultural history that moves ever forward and in which we always increasingly find the language of God, the indications for education also open, that are not an imposition but are really openness to the "I" to the "you", to the "we" and to the "You" of God.

Therefore the difficulties are great: to rediscover the sources, the language of the origins. While being aware of the weight of these difficulties, we must not give way to resignation and lack of confidence. It has never been easy to educate, but we must not surrender: we should fall short of the mandate that the Lord himself gave us, calling us to tend his flock with love. Let us rather reawaken in our communities that passion for teaching, which is a passion for the "I" for the "you", for the "we", for God, that is not fulfilled in didactics, in a collection of techniques and not even in the transmission of dry principles. Education means forming the new generations, so that they may know how to relate to the world, strong in a meaningful memory, that is not only occasional, but nurtured by the language of God that we find in Nature and in Revelation, in a shared interior patrimony, in that real knowledge which recognizes the transcendent purpose of life, and at the same time directs the thoughts, the affections and the judgement.

The thirst that young people carry in their hearts is a desire for meaning and authentic human relationships, that will help them not to feel alone before the challenges of life. It is a desire for a future rendered less uncertain by a sure and trustworthy companionship that stands at the side of each person with delicacy and respect, offering strong values from which to set out towards goals which are high, but not impossible to achieve. Our answer is the proclamation of God, the friend of man, who through Jesus became close to each one of us. The transmission of the faith is an inalienable part of the integral formation of the person, because in Jesus Christ the hope of a fulfilled life is realized: as the Second Vatican Council teaches, "whoever follows Christ the perfect man becomes himself more a man" (Gaudium et Spes GS 41). The personal encounter with Jesus is the key to understanding the importance of God in our daily existence, the secret of how to live it in brotherly love, the condition that makes it possible to pick ourselves up after a fall and to move towards constant conversion.

The task of educating, that you have chosen as your priority, makes use of signs and traditions, in which Italy is rich. It has need of trustworthy references: the family above all, with its distinctive and inalienable role; the school, a common horizon beyond membership of any ideological choice; the parish, "the village fountain", a place and an experience which initiates the faith in the fabric of everyday relationships. The quality of our testimony remains a decisive factor in each of these areas, a privileged path for the ecclesiastical mission. The acceptance of the Christian proposal takes place, in fact, through relationships of closeness, loyalty and trust. In a time in which the great tradition of the past risks becoming a dead letter, we are called on to stand beside each young person with an ever new availability, accompanying him/her on the journey of discovery and the personal assimilation of the truth. By doing this we too can discover anew the fundamental realities in a new way.

The wish to promote a renewed season of evangelization does not hide the wounds that have marked the ecclesiastical community, caused by the weakness and sin of some of its members. This humble and painful admission must not make us forget, however, the selfless and passionate service of many believers, the priests above all. The special year dedicated to them was intended to provide an opportunity to encourage an interior renewal, as a condition for a more incisive evangelical and ministerial commitment. At the same time, it helps us to recognize the testimony of holiness of those who, after the example of the Curé d'Ars, devote themselves without stint to educating towards hope, faith and charity. In this light, what is a cause for scandal must be translated in us into a call for "a deep need to relearn penitence, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice" (Benedict XVI's interview with journalists during his flight to Portugal, 11 May 2010).

Dear Brothers, I encourage you to take upon yourselves without hesitation the commitment to educate. The Holy Spirit will help you never to lose faith in the young, it will help you to go forth to meet them, it will lead you to go to vital spheres, including that of the new communication technologies, which now permeate every expression of culture. This is not a question of adapting the Gospel to the world, but of drawing from the Gospel that everlasting newness that allows us in every age to discover the most fitting ways of spreading the Word that never dies, vitalizing and serving human life. So, let us once more propound to the young the high and transcendental dimension of life understood as a vocation: called to a consecrated life, whether to priesthood or to marriage, may they know how to respond with generosity to the call of the Lord, because only in this way will each person be able to gather what is essential for him/her. The frontiers of education provide space for a wide convergence of intentions: the formation of the new generations cannot but be close to the heart of all people of goodwill, calling upon the capacity of the whole of society to ensure reliable points of reference for the harmonious development of the individual.

In Italy, too, this period is marked by an uncertainty over values, which is evident from the difficulties many adults find in respecting the commitments they have undertaken: this is a symptom of a cultural and spiritual crisis, as serious as the economic one. It would be illusory I wish to emphasize this to think of confronting the one while ignoring the other. For this reason, while I renew my appeal to those responsible for public affairs and to businessmen to do whatever they can to lighten the effects of the employment crisis, I exhort everyone to reflect on the prerequisites of a good and meaningful life, which are the foundations of that authoritativeness that alone can educate and returns to the true source of the values. The Church, in fact, has the common good at heart, which commits us to share our economic and intellectual, moral and spiritual resources, learning how to face together in a context of reciprocity, the problems and the challenges of the country. This perspective, amply developed in our recent Document on the Church and the South, will be further examined during the next Italian Catholic Social Week due to be held in Reggio Calabria in October, where you will be able, together with the most qualified members of the Catholic laity, to draw up an agenda of hope for Italy, so as to understand the requirements of justice and to achieve them politically (cf. Encyclical Deus Caritas Est ). Your ministry, dear Brothers, and the vivacity of the diocesan communities whom you are called upon to guide, are the best assurance that the Church will continue responsibly to offer her contribution to the social and moral growth of Italy.

Called by grace to be the Pastor of the Universal Church and of the splendid City of Rome, I carry with me constantly your worries and expectations, which in these last days I have deposited, with those of all humanity, at the feet of the Madonna of Fatima. To her goes our prayer: Virgin Mother of God and our most dear Mother, "let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of our loneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let it restore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see the salvation of the Lord, who has the name and the Face of Jesus, who is reflected in our hearts, for ever united with yours! Amen!" (Act of Entrustment, Fatima, 12 May).

I thank you and Bless you with all my heart.



Mr Ambassador,

I welcome you with pleasure at the beginning of your mission to the Holy See and I thank you for the courteous words you have just addressed to me. In return, I would be grateful if you would kindly convey to H.E. Mr Thomas Boni Yayi whose visit I remember well my good wishes for him and for the accomplishment of his lofty mission at the service of the people of Benin. Please also thank him for wishing Benin to have an Ambassador to the Holy See who is resident in Rome. I appreciate this gesture that stresses the excellence of the relations that exist between the Republic of Benin and the Holy See and the high esteem for the Catholic Church of the Beninese people. I also extend my good wishes to the Government and to the other Authorities of your country and to all the Beninese.

In your discourse you have just recalled the late Cardinal Bernardin Gantin. It is already two years since the death of this remarkable man of the Church, who was not only a noble son of your nation but also an authentic builder of bridges between cultures and continents. I am sure that he will be an example for numerous Beninese, particularly the youngest. As for his ecclesial ministry, it will not fail to encourage men and women of the Church to carry out a generous and ever more competent service for the greatest possible good of your beloved country which will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of its evangelization next year.

Twenty years ago, in February 1990, the Conference of Living Forces of the Nation was held. This major event that was not only political, but likewise witnessed to the close relationship between the faith and its expression in the public life of Benin determined your future and continues to inspire your present. I ask God to bless the efforts of all who are working to build a society established on justice and peace, in recognition of the rights of all the nation's members. The realization of this ideal requires brotherly union, a love of justice and respect for work.

As protagonists of their own destiny, the people of Benin are asked to encourage an authentic brotherhood. This is a primordial condition for social peace and a factor of integral human advancement. It is a precious pearl that must be preserved and cultivated, banishing divisions that can undermine the unity of the nation and even harmony in families. In the face of such possible causes of destabilization, the values drawn from your cultural patrimony will be an invaluable help in affirming both their identity and their vocation. Among these values I would like to stress in particular respect for the sacred character of life, the consequences of which must be taken into account, especially in the framework of legislation. Brotherhood, a practical expression of the equal dignity of all citizens, is a fundamental principal and a basic virtue for achieving a genuinely fulfilled society because it enables people to make the most of all human and spiritual potential. Brotherhood must also lead to the search for justice, the absence of which is always a cause of social tension and brings numerous harmful consequences. "Peace is threatened when man is not given all that is due him as a human person, when his dignity is not respected and when civil life is not directed to the common good" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 494).

The quest for personal interest to the detriment of the common good is an evil that slowly gnaws away at the public institutions, thereby impeding the integral development of the human being. The political, economic and social leaders of a nation must be just. They are, as it were, its "watchful conscience" that guarantees the transparency of its structures and the ethic that motivates every society's life. They must be just. Justice always goes hand in hand with brotherhood. It constitutes a factor of efficiency and social balance, permitting the Beninese to share their human and natural resources, to live a dignified life and to guarantee their children's future.

Work is an important priority in a society's development. Indeed, it is co-existential to the human condition (cf. ibid., n. 256) for the human being is totally fulfilled by his work. Love of work ennobles and creates a real symbiosis between people as well as between the human being and the other elements of creation. By dignified work, man can provide for his vital needs and can contribute to building a prosperous, just and fraternal society. Benin's motto: Brotherhood Justice Work is therefore like a true compendium of the charter of a nation with high human ideals. Putting them into practice also helps to spread solidarity to other nations. In this regard I would like to address my thanks to all the Beninese for the active brotherhood they showed the people of Haiti at the time of the recent earthquake there.

Through you I would like to offer a warm greeting to the Catholic community of Benin and its Pastors. I encourage them to be, increasingly, authentic witnesses of the faith and brotherly love that Christ teaches us. I would also like to acknowledge the efforts made by all, particularly the Authorities, to consolidate relations of reciprocal respect and esteem among the religious denominations in your country. Religious freedom cannot but help to enrich democracy and foster its development.

At the beginning of your mission as the Head of the Beninese Mission resident in Rome and accredited to the Holy See, I offer my best wishes to you, Mr Ambassador, as I assure you of the full availability of my collaborators to give you all the help you may need in the fulfilment of your office. I ask God to support the people of Benin and very willingly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you, to your collaborators and to those who are close to you.


Speeches 2005-13 328