Speeches 2005-13 21169



Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,

It has become a happy custom to welcome you at the end of the second annual meeting of the Assembly of Organizations for Aid to the Eastern Churches. I am grateful to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, for his kind words on behalf of all. I reciprocate with a cordial greeting which I gladly extend to the Secretary, Archbishop Cyril Vasil', to the recently appointed Undersecretary, to the Dicastery's other collaborators and to Cardinal Foley. I greet their Excellencies the Prelates and the Custos of the Holy Land who are gathered with the Representatives of the International Catholic Agencies and of Bethlehem University. I warmly thank you, dear friends, for all that you do for the Eastern and Latin communities resident in the territories entrusted to this Congregation and in the other regions of the world where the children of the Catholic East, together with their Pastors, strive to build a peaceful coexistence with the faithful of other Christian denominations and different religions.

With the forthcoming Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, the Year dedicated to the Apostle to the Gentiles for the 2,000th anniversary of his birth is coming to a close. Taken by Christ and consumed by the Holy Spirit, he was a privileged witness of the mystery of the love of God manifested in Christ Jesus. His inspired word and his witness confirmed by the supreme gift of martyrdom were an incomparable praise of Christian love and are very timely. I am referring in particular to the hymn to Christian love in the First Letter to the Corinthians (
1Co 13). On the lips of Paul of Tarsus, the word of God points out to us unequivocally what is "greatest" for all disciples of Christ: love! It is the fruitful source of all service to the Church, its measure, its method and its verification. Through your adherence to ROACO you wish to live out this love in particular by offering your availability to the Bishop of Rome through the intermediary of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches. In this way "the charitable movement, which the Congregation is supervising by the Pope's mandate so that that the Holy Land and other Eastern regions can receive in an orderly and balanced manner the necessary spiritual and material support for their ordinary ecclesial life and special needs, must continue, indeed, must grow" (Discourse during Visit to the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, 9 June 2007).

Today's meeting rekindles the joy of my recent Pilgrimage to the Holy Land. In this regard I renew my gratitude to the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, to the Papal Representative for Israel and for the Palestinian Territories, to Father Custos and to all who have helped to make my pilgrimage fruitful. Indeed, there were many moments of grace, when I was able to encourage and comfort the Catholic communities in the Holy Land, urging their members to persevere in their witness a witness filled with fidelity, celebration, and at times great suffering. I was also able to remind the Christians of the region of their ecumenical and interreligious responsibility, in keeping with the spirit of the Second Vatican Council. I renew my prayer and my appeal for no more war, no more violence, no more injustice. I wish to assure you that the universal Church remains at the side of all our brothers and sisters who reside in the Holy Land. This concern is reflected in a special way in the Annual Holy Land Collection. I therefore exhort your ROACO Agencies to continue their charitable activities with zeal and with fidelity to the Successor of Peter.

Dear friends of ROACO, I accompany with special appreciation the work you do in this sensitive global situation which threatens to jeopardize loving ecclesial service in general, the projects already embarked upon and, especially, the future initiatives of your charitable organizations. I would like to take the opportunity to urge you and the agencies you represent to redouble your efforts. With a spirit of faith and with careful analyses and the necessary realism it will be possible to correct certain impractical decisions and to face effectively the current situations of need. I am thinking of the plight of refugees and migrants, which deeply concerns the Eastern Churches, and reconstruction in the Gaza Strip, still lacking attention, where it is also necessary to take into account Israel's legitimate concern for its own security. In the face of these totally new challenges, the Church's loving service remains an effective instrument of salvation and the safest investment for the present and for the future.

Dear friends, I have several times emphasized the importance of the education of the People of God and, especially at this time when we have just started the Year for Priests, I am eager to recommend that you give the most favourable attention possible to the care of priests and the support of seminaries. When I inaugurated this unique Jubilee Year last Friday, the Solemnity of the Sacred Heart, I entrusted all the priests in the world to the Heart of Christ and to the Heart of the Immaculate Mother, with a special thought for those in the East as in the West who are living moments of difficulty and trial. I take this opportunity also to ask you to pray for priests. I ask you to continue to support me too, the Successor of the Apostle Peter, so that I may fully carry out my mission at the service of the universal Church. I thank you once again for the work you are doing: may God reward you abundantly. With these sentiments, I impart to each one of you, to your loved ones and to the communities and agencies you represent, the comfort of the Apostolic Blessing.


Your Eminence,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I receive you with great joy, Pastors of the Catholic Church in Vietnam. Our meeting acquires special significance during these days when the whole Church is celebrating the Solemnity of the Apostles Peter and Paul, and it is a great comfort to me for I know the deep links of fidelity and love that the faithful of your country feel for the Church and for the Pope.

You have come to the tombs of these two Princes of the Apostles to express your communion with the Successor of Peter and to reinforce the unity that must always unite you and that must continue to grow. I thank Bishop Pierre Nguyên Vãn Nhon, Bishop of Ðà Lat, for his kind words on your behalf. Allow me to greet in particular the Bishops who have been appointed since your last ad limina visit. I would also like to remember venerable Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Ðinh Tung, Archbishop of Hanoi for many years. With you, I thank God for the pastoral zeal he exercised humbly in profound fatherly love for his people and great brotherhood for his priests. May the example of holiness, humility, simplicity of life of the outstanding Pastors of your country be for you incentives in your episcopal ministry at the service of the Vietnamese people, to whom I wish to express my high esteem.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, the Year for Priests began a few days ago. It will bring into the limelight the greatness and beauty of the ministry of priests. I would be grateful if you would kindly thank the diocesan and religious priests of your beloved country for their lives consecrated to the Lord and for their pastoral efforts with a view to the sanctification of the People of God. Be concerned for them and full of understanding, and help them to complete their continuing formation. If he is to be an authentic guide conformed to the Heart of God and the teaching of the Church, the priest must deepen his inner life and strive for holiness after the example of the humble Curé d'Ars. The flourishing of priestly and religious vocations, especially in the consecrated life of women, is a gift of the Lord for your Church. Let us give thanks to God for their charisms, which you encourage by respecting and promoting them.

In your Pastoral Letter last year you paid special attention to the lay faithful, highlighting the role of their vocation in the family context. It is to be hoped that every Catholic family, by teaching their children to live in accordance with an upright conscience, in loyalty and truth, may become a home of values and human virtues, a school of faith and love for God. Lay Catholics for their part must show by their life, which is based on charity, honesty and love for the common good, that a good Catholic is also a good citizen. For this reason you must ensure that they have a sound formation, by promoting their life of faith and their cultural standard so that they may serve the Church and society effectively.

I would like to entrust to you the young people in particular, especially rural youth who are attracted by the city to continue their advanced studies in it and to find jobs. It would be desirable to develop appropriate pastoral care for these young internal migrants, starting by strengthening, here too, collaboration between the young people's original dioceses and the host dioceses and by being unsparing in ethical advice and practical directives.

The Church in Vietnam is currently preparing to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Vietnamese episcopal hierarchy. This celebration which will be especially marked by the Jubilee Year 2010, will enable it to share the joy of faith enthusiastically with all the Vietnamese, in renewing their missionary commitments. On this occasion the People of God must be asked to give thanks for the gift of faith in Jesus Christ. This gift was generously received, lived and witnessed to by numerous martyrs who wished to proclaim the truth and universality of faith in God. In this regard, witness born to Christ is a supreme service that the Church can offer to Vietnam and to all the peoples of Asia, because it responds to the profound research for the truth and values that guarantee integral human development (cf. Ecclesia in Asia ). In the face of the many challenges that this witness currently encounters, closer collaboration is necessary between the different dioceses and between the dioceses and religious congregations, as well as within them.

The Pastoral Letter that your Bishops' Conference published in 1980 emphasized "the Church of Christ in the midst of his People". In contributing her specific message, the proclamation of the Good News of Christ, the Church is contributing to the human and spiritual development of people, but also to the development of the country. Her participation in this process is a duty and an important contribution, especially at the time when Vietnam is gradually opening to the international community.

You know, as well as I do, that healthy collaboration between the Church and the political community is possible. In this regard, the Church invites all her members to be loyally committed to building a just, supportive and fair society. Her intention is certainly not to replace government leaders; she wishes only to be able to play a just role in the nation's life, at the service of the whole people, in a spirit of dialogue and respectful collaboration. By active participation in her own province and in accordance with her specific vocation, the Church can never be exempt from practising charity as an organized activity of believers, and on the other hand, there will never be a situation where the charity of each individual Christian is unnecessary, because in addition to justice humans need, and will always need, love (Deus Caritas Est ). Furthermore, it seems important to me to emphasize that religions do not represent a threat to the nation's unity since they aim to help individuals to sanctify themselves and through their institutions desire to put themselves generously and impartially at the service of their neighbour.

Your Eminence, dear Brothers in the Episcopate, on your return to your country, please convey the Pope's warm greeting to the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and all the faithful, especially to the poorest and to those who suffer physically and spiritually. I warmly encourage them to stay faithful to the faith received from the Apostles, whose generous witnesses they are, in conditions that are often difficult, and to show the humble firmness which the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, n. 9) recognizes as one of their characteristics. May the Lord's Spirit be their guide and their strength! As I entrust you to the motherly protection of Our Lady of La Vang and to the intercession of the holy Martyrs of Vietnam, I impart to you all an affectionate Apostolic Blessing.


"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (
Ep 1,2).

Venerable Brothers,

It is with these words that St Paul, "an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God" addressed "the saints" who lived in Ephesus and the "faithful in Christ Jesus" (Ep 1,1). Today, through this proclamation of peace and salvation, I wish you welcome on the patronal feast of Sts Peter and Paul with which we shall conclude the Pauline Year. Last year, His Holiness Bartholomew 1, the Ecumenical Patriarch, wished to honour us with his presence in order to celebrate together the inauguration of this year of prayers, reflection and the exchange of acts of communion between Rome and Constantinople. In our turn, we had the joy of sending a delegation to the corresponding celebrations organized by the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Moreover it could not be otherwise in this year dedicated to St Paul who strongly recommended that "the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace [be maintained]", teaching us that "there is one body and one Spirit" (Ep 4,3-4).

Welcome, therefore, dear Brothers who have been sent by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to whom, in reciprocation, I ask you to take my warm fraternal greeting in the Lord. We will thank the Lord together for all the fruits and benefits that the celebration of the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St Paul has brought us. We will celebrate in harmony the Feast of Sts Peter and Paul, the protòthroni of the Apostles, as the Orthodox liturgical tradition invokes them, that is, those who occupy the first place among the Apostles and are called "teachers of the ecumene".

By your presence, which is a sign of ecclesial brotherhood, you remind us of our common commitment to seeking full communion. You know this already, but I have the pleasure today once again of confirming that the Catholic Church intends to contribute in every possible way to re-establishing full unity, in response to Christ's will for his disciples and keeping in mind the teaching of Paul who reminds us that we are called "to the one hope". In this perspective we can therefore contemplate confidently the successful continuation of the work of the Joint International Commission for the Theological Dialogue between Orthodox and Catholics. This Commission will be meeting next October to address a crucial topic for relations between East and West, that is, the "role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church in the first millennium". The study of this aspect is in fact proving indispensable for deepening the overall knowledge of this issue in the current context of the search for full communion. The Commission, which has already carried out important work, will be generously received by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus to which, from this moment, we express all our gratitude, since her fraternal welcome and the prayerful atmosphere that will surround our conversations cannot but facilitate our task and our mutual understanding.

I would like those who are taking part in the Catholic-Orthodox dialogue to know that they are accompanied by my prayers and that this dialogue has the full support of the Catholic Church. I hope with all my heart that the misunderstandings and tension encountered among the Orthodox Delegates at the last Plenary Meetings of this Commission have been resolved in brotherly love in such a way that this dialogue may be more broadly representative of Orthodoxy.

Beloved Brothers, I thank you once again for being with us today and I ask you to convey my fraternal greeting to His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch, to the Holy Synod and to all the clergy, as well as to the Orthodox faithful. May the joy of the Feast of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul that we traditionally celebrate on the same day fill your hearts with trust and hope.


Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After the celebrations for the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, it is a real pleasure for me to meet all of you, Metropolitan Archbishops who received the pallium yesterday in the Vatican Basilica, and your relatives and friends who have accompanied you to this special audience. Thus the joy of communion experienced on the feast of the two great Apostles on which I was able to confer upon you the pallium, a symbol of the unity that binds the Pastors of the particular Churches to the Successor of Peter, Bishop of Rome. I address my cordial welcome to each one of you, who come from every continent, significantly revealing the face of the Catholic Church, spread over all the earth.

I first address you, beloved Pastors of the Church in Italy. I greet Archbishop Giuseppe Betori of Florence, Archbishop Salvatore Pappalardo of Siracusa and Archbishop Domenico Umberto D'Ambrosio of Lecce. We are at the beginning of the Year for Priests: may you therefore take pains to be exemplary Pastors, zealous and full of love for the Lord and for your communities. You will thus be able to guide and firmly support in their pastoral ministry the priests, your first collaborators, and cooperate effectively in spreading the Kingdom of God in the beloved land of Italy.

I am pleased to meet the French-speaking pilgrims who are accompanying the new Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I have had the joy of conferring the pallium. I would like first of all to greet Archbishop Ghaleb Moussa Abdalla Bader of Algiers, Algeria, Archbishop Pierre-André Fournier of Rimouski, Canada, Archbishop Joseph Aké Yapo of Gagnoa, Côte d'Ivoire, Archbishop Marcel Utembi Tapa of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Archbishop Philippe Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. I also extend my warm greetings to the Bishops, priests and faithful of our countries, assuring them of my fervent prayers. The pallium is a sign of special communion with the Successor of Peter. May this sign also be for the priests and faithful of your dioceses an appeal to consolidate increasingly authentic communion with their Pastors and among all the members of the Church.

I extend warm greetings to the English-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I conferred the pallium yesterday: Archbishop Paul Mandla Khumalo of Pretoria, South Africa; Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver, Canada; Archbishop Allen Henry Vigneron of Detroit, U.S.A.; Archbishop Anicetus Bongsu Antonius Sinaga of Medan, Indonesia; Archbishop Philip Naameh of Tamale, Ghana; Archbishop Timothy Michael Dolan of New York, U.S.A.; Archbishop Vincent Gerard Nichols of Westminster, U.K.; Archbishop Robert James Carlson of Saint Louis, U.S.A.; Archbishop Francis Xavier Kriengsak Kovithavanij of Bangkok, Thailand; Archbishop George Joseph Lucas of Omaha, U.S.A.; Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond of New Orleans, U.S.A. and Archbishop Patebendige Don Albert Malcom Ranjith of Colombo, Sri Lanka. I also welcome their family members, their relatives, friends and the faithful of their respective Archdioceses who have come to Rome to pray with them and to share their joy on this happy occasion. The pallium is received from the hands of the Successor of Peter and worn by the Archbishops as a sign of communion in faith and love and in the governance of God's People. It also recalls to Pastors their responsibilities as shepherds after the Heart of Jesus. To all of you I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord.

I cordially greet the Spanish-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops who have come to Rome for the solemn ceremony of the conferral of the pallium: Archbishop Domingo Díaz Martínez of Tulancingo; Manuel Felipe Díaz Sánchez of Calabozo; José Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador; Carlos Osoro Sierra of Valencia; Víctor Sánchez Espinosa of Puebla de los Ángeles; Archbishop Carlos Aguiar Retes of Tlalnepantla; Archbishop Ismael Rueda Sierra of Bucaramanga, and Archbishop Braulio Rodríguez Plaza of Toledo, as well as the relatives, friends, priests and faithful of their respective particular Churches who have accompanied them. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, may the black silk cross embroidered on the pallium remind you that you must be every day more closely configured to Jesus Christ. Following in his footsteps as the Good Shepherd, always be signs of unity among your faithful, strengthening your bonds of communion with the Successor of Peter, with your suffragan Bishops and with all those who collaborate in your evangelizing mission. In this Year for Priests which has just began, carry deeply in your hearts your priests who expect of you kindly treatment as fathers and brothers who welcome them, listen to them and are concerned about them. I place you and your diocesan communities under the protection of Mary Most Holy, Queen of Apostles, who is so widely venerated in the countries that you come from: Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Colombia and Spain.

I welcome with joy the relatives and friends of the new Metropolitan Archbishops of Brazil who have accompanied them for the conferral of the pallium, a sign of profound communion with the Successor of Peter. In this communion I address a special greeting to Archbishop Sérgio da Rocha of Teresina; Archbishop Maurício Grotto de Camargo of Botucatu; Archbishop Gil António Moreira of Juiz de Fora; and Archbishop Orani João Tempesta of São Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro. Please convey my greetings to the priests and to all the faithful of your Archdioceses, so that united in the same faith of Peter you may contribute to the evangelization of society. As a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord, I impart my Blessing to you all.

I greet you, Archbishop Mieczyslaw Mokrzycki of Lviv for Latins, and all those who surround you at this moment of lively ecclesial communion. Once again, I am grateful for your service to the Church as my collaborator, and earlier, as that of my venerable Predecessor John Paul ii. May the Spirit of the Lord accompany you in your pastoral ministry for the faithful entrusted to your care, to whom I send a cordial greeting.

I cordially greet the Poles present here. In particular, I greet Archbishop Andrzej Dziega, the new Metropolitan of Szczecin-Kamien who received the pallium yesterday, and the faithful who come from this Metropolis. In the Year for Priests may the pallium also be for priests a symbol and a challenge to build communion with their own Bishops, among themselves and also with the faithful. As I implore for all of you the gifts of God's charity, I cordially bless you. Praised be Jesus Christ!

Dear brothers and sisters, may today's memorial of the Protomartyrs of Rome be a stimulus for each one of us to love Jesus Christ and the Church ever more intensely. May you be accompanied by the maternal assistance of Mary, Mother of the Church, by the Apostles Peter and Paul and by St John Mary Vianney. To each and every one of you I impart my Blessing.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I meet you with great pleasure, aware of the precious pastoral service that you carry out in the context of the promotion, animation and discernment of vocations. You have come to Rome to take part in a congress of reflection, comparison and sharing among the Churches of Europe on the theme: "Sowers of the Gospel of Vocation: a word that calls and sends forth" and it aims to imbue your commitment to vocations with new dynamism. The fostering of vocations is a pastoral priority for every diocese which assumes even greater value in the context of the Year for Priests that has just begun. I therefore warmly greet the Bishops Delegate for the pastoral care of vocations of the various Bishops' Conferences, as well as the directors of the national Vocations Centres, their collaborators and all of you present.

At the heart of your labours is the Gospel Parable of the Sower. The Lord scatters the seed of the word of God freely and with abundance but knowing that it may fall on poor soil, which will not allow a seed to mature because of dryness, or that its vital force may be extinguished, choked by thorn bushes. Yet the sower does not lose heart, for he knows that part of this seed is destined to find "good soil", namely, ardent hearts capable of receiving the word with willingness to help it mature through perseverance and yield fruit generously for the benefit of many.

The image of the soil can evoke the reality of the family, on the whole good; the sometimes arid and harsh environment of work; the days of suffering and tears. The earth is above all the heart of every person, especially of youth, to whom you address your service of listening and guidance: a heart that is often confused and disoriented, yet capable of containing unimaginable powers of generosity. It is like a bud ready to open to a life spent for the love of Jesus, able to follow him with the totality and the certainty that comes from having found the greatest treasure that exists. It is always and only the Lord who sows in human hearts. Only after the abundant and generous sowing of the word of God can one progress further along the paths of companionship and education, of formation and discernment. All this is linked to that tiny seed, the mysterious gift of divine Providence which releases from within an extraordinary force. In fact, it is the Word of God who brings about in himself what he says and desires.

There is another saying of Jesus' which uses the image of the seed, and which can accompany the Parable of the Sower: "Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit" (
Jn 12,24). Here the Lord insists on the connection between the death of the seed and the "much fruit" that it will yield. The grain of wheat is he, Jesus. The fruit is having "life abundantly" (Jn 10,10), which he acquired for us through his Cross. This is also the logic and the true fruitfulness of every vocations ministry in the Church. Like Christ, the priest and the animator must be a "grain of wheat" who sacrifices itself to do the Father's will; who lives hidden from the clamour and the noise; who renounces the search for that visibility and grandiose image which today often become the criteria and even goals of life in a large part of our culture and which attract many young people.

Dear friends, be sowers of trust and hope. The sense of being lost that the youth of today often experience is indeed profound. Human words are frequently without a future or prospects, and also lack meaning and wisdom. The attitude of frenetic impatience and of the inability to live through a period of waiting is spreading. Yet, this could be God's hour: his call, mediated by the power and efficacy of the word, generates a path of hope towards the fullness of life. The word of God can truly become light and strength, a spring of hope, it can plot a path that passes through Jesus, the "path" and the "way"; through his Cross, which is the fullness of love. This is the message that comes to us from the Pauline Year which has just ended. St Paul, won over by Christ, inspired and formed vocations, as can be seen clearly from the greetings of his Letters, in which dozens of proper names appear, that is, the faces of men and women who worked with him in service of the Gospel. This is also the message of the Year for Priests that has just begun: the Holy Curé d'Ars, John Mary Vianney who is the "beacon" of this new spiritual itinerary was a priest who devoted his life to the spiritual guidance of people, with humility and simplicity, "tasting and seeing" God's goodness in ordinary situations. He thus proved to be a true teacher in the ministry of consolation and vocational guidance. The Year for Priests therefore offers a beautiful opportunity to rediscover the profound sense of the vocations ministry, as well as the fundamental decisions on its method: simple and credible witness, communion, with itineraries organized and shared within the local Church, the daily routine which is a lesson in following the Lord in everyday life; listening, guided by the Holy Spirit, to orient youth in their search for God and for true happiness; and lastly truth, which alone can give rise to inner freedom.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the word of God become in each one of you a source of blessing, of consolation and of renewed trust, so that you may help many to "see" and "touch" that Jesus whom they welcomed as Teacher. May the Word of the Lord always dwell within you, renew in your hearts the light, love and peace that God alone can give, and make you capable of witnessing and proclaiming the Gospel, source of communion and love. With this hope, which I entrust to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all.



Mr Ambassador,

I welcome you with joy, Your Excellency, on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Envoy Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Haiti to the Holy See, a mission moreover which is not unknown to you, Your Excellency, since you formerly held the same office at the Holy See from 2002 to 2004.

I am grateful to you for conveying the cordial message addressed to me by H.E. Mr René Garcia Préval, President of the Republic. To reciprocate, I would be grateful to you if you would kindly express to him my best wishes for himself and for all Haitians, hoping that they may be able to live in dignity and safety and form a society that is increasingly just and fraternal. Mr Ambassador, as I thank you for your courteous words, I would also like to mention to you the forthcoming celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Concordat between the Holy See and Haiti, the oldest in America. On this occasion, I am delighted with the numerous fruits that the Agreements have produced for the Church and for the nation, emphasizing once again in this regard that in Haiti the Catholic community has always enjoyed the esteem of the Authorities and of the population.

In recent months, Your Excellency, your country has suffered natural disasters which have caused serious damage throughout the national territory. The widespread destruction of farmland caused by hurricanes have aggravated the already difficult situation of many families. I hope that the international solidarity, for which I appealed on various occasions last year will continue to be forthcoming. In fact, in this particularly delicate period of national life the international community must give concrete signs of support to people in need. Moreover, as is known, in recent years many Haitians have left their country to seek the means to support their families elsewhere. It is therefore desirable that, despite the sometimes problematic administrative situations, rapid solutions be found to enable these families to live united.

Your country's vulnerability to bad and sometimes violent weather to which it is regularly subject has thus led to a better awareness of the need to take care of Creation. Indeed there is a sort of kinship of mankind with Creation which must lead him to respect each situation. The protection of the environment is a challenge to all, for it is a question of defending and making the most of a collective good, destined for all, a responsibility which must therefore encourage the present generations to be concerned about the generations to come. The thoughtless exploitation of the resources of Creation and its consequences, which all too often seriously affect the life of the poorest people, can only be effectively tackled by political and financial decisions in conformity with human dignity and by effective international cooperation.

However, your country is not without signs of hope. They are mainly based on the human and Christian values that exist in Haitian society, such as respect for life, attachment to the family, the sense of responsibility and above all faith in God who does not abandon those who trust in him. Attachment to these values makes it possible to avoid many of the evils that threaten social and family life. I therefore warmly encourage the efforts of all those in your country who contribute to promoting the protection of life and to restoring to the family institution its full importance, rediscovering in particular the value of marriage in social life. In fact, "every social model that intends to serve the good of man must not overlook the centrality and social responsibility of the family" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 214). In this perspective, it is indispensable to provide families who are in need with real support, and to guarantee women and children who are sometimes the victims of violence, neglect or injustice with effective protection.

The education of youth is also a priority for the future of the nation. This task is important and urgent in order to develop the quality of human life, at both the individual and social levels. In fact, at the root of poverty there are often various forms of cultural deprivation. In this domain, the Catholic Church makes a considerable contribution, through her numerous educational institutions, through her presence in rural and distant regions and also through the quality of the education and training provided by the Catholic schools. I am glad to know that these institutions are appreciated by the authorities as well as by the population.

On this happy occasion, Mr Ambassador, I would also like to offer a warm greeting to the Catholic community in your country which, guided by its Bishops, bears a generous witness to the Gospel. I encourage it to pursue its service to Haitian society, ever attentive to the needs of the poorest people and seeking the nation's unity with all, in brotherhood and solidarity. Indeed, it is an authentic sign of hope for all Haitians.

Mr Ambassador, when your noble mission of representing your country to the Holy See is beginning, I address my most cordial wishes to you for its success, and I assure you that you will always find with my collaborators the understanding and support that you need! I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings upon you yourself, your family, your collaborators, and upon the entire people of Haiti and its leaders.

Speeches 2005-13 21169