Speeches 2005-13 10711



Dear Confreres,

“Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum” (
Ps 133,1 [132]:1). At this moment, I feel I am really experiencing these words of the Psalm. We see how lovely it is when brothers are together and together live the joy of priesthood, of being called to the Lord's vineyard.

I would like to say “thank you” with all my heart to you, Cardinal Dean, for your beautiful, moving and comforting words, and also especially for the gift you have offered me, thus our “being together” may be extended to the poor of Rome.

It is not only we who are eating, here with us are those poor people who are in need of our help, of our support, of our love, which is fulfilled in practice through the possibility of eating, of living well. Since we can and want to work in this regard, an important sign for me is that at this solemn hour we are not alone; with us are the poor of Rome who are especially loved by the Lord.

Fratres in unum: the experience of brotherhood is a real situation inherent in the priesthood, for one is never ordained alone but inserted into a presbyterate, or as bishops into the Episcopal College. Thus the “we” of the Church is accompanied and expressed at this time which is a moment of gratitude for the Lord's guidance, for all that he has given and forgiven me in these years, but also a moment of remembrance.

In 1951 the world was totally different: there was no television, there was no Internet, and no computer, there were no mobile phones. The world we come from truly seems “prehistoric”. In the first place our cities had been destroyed, the economy devastated, causing widespread material and spiritual poverty, but there was also a strong energy and the will to rebuild this country and to renew this country, above all, in the European community on the basis of our faith, and to fit into the great Church of Christ which is the People of God and guides us towards the world of God. This is how at that moment we set out with great joy and enthusiasm. Then came the period of the Second Vatican Council in which all these hopes we had, seemed to come true; then the moment of the 1968 cultural revolution, difficult years in which the barque of the Lord appeared to be full of water, about to sink. And yet the Lord who seemed to be asleep at that moment was present and guided us onwards. Those were the years in which I worked with Bl. Pope John Paul II: unforgettable! Eventually the totally unexpected time came on 19 April 2005, when the Lord called me to a new commitment and, only through trust in his power, entrusting myself to him, was I able to pronounce the “yes” in that moment.

In these past 60 years, almost everything has changed, but the Lord's fidelity has remained. He is the same yesterday, today and for ever: and this is our certainty that paves our way to the future. The moment of memory, the moment of gratitude is also the moment of hope: In te Domine speravi, non confundar in aeternum.

I now thank the Lord for his guidance. I thank all of you for your fraternal company, may the Lord bless us all. And thank you for your gift and for all your collaboration. Let us move onwards with the Lord's help.



Your Excellency,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am truly glad to welcome so many of you, full of enthusiasm for the faith. Thank you! I thank Bishop Mario Paciello for his words on behalf of you all. I greet the civil authorities, the priests, the men and women religious, the seminarians and each one of you, extending my thoughts and affection to your diocesan community and, in particular, to those who are living in situations of suffering and hardship. I am grateful to the Lord because your visit gives me the opportunity to share a moment in the synodal process of the Church in Altamura-Gravina-Acquaviva delle Fonti.

The Synod is an event that gives us a tangible experience of being the “People of God” journeying on, of being the Church, a pilgrim community in history moving towards eschatological fulfilment in God. This means recognizing that the Church in herself does not possess the vital principle but depends on Christ, of whom she is a sign and an effective instrument. She finds her own deepest identity in her relationship with the Lord Jesus: to be a gift of God to humanity, prolonging through the Holy Spirit the presence and the work of salvation of the Son of God. In this perspective we understand that the Church is essentially a mystery of love at the service of humanity and with a view to its sanctification.

Concerning this point the Second Vatican Council declared: “[God] has, however, willed to make men holy and save them, not as individuals without any bond or link between them, but rather to make them into a people who might acknowledge him in truth and serve him in holiness” (Lumen Gentium
LG 9).

We see here that the Word of God has truly created a people, a community, it has created a common joy, a common pilgrimage towards the Lord. Being Church, therefore, is not only a result of our own human organizational effort. Rather, it finds its source and true meaning in the communion of love of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit: this eternal love is the source that gives rise to the Church and the Blessed Trinity, it is the model of unity in diversity which generates and shapes the Church as a mystery of communion.

If we are to understand and live more intensely being Church, the “People of God”, the “Body of Christ”, “Communion”, it is always necessary to start afresh from this truth and in a new way. Otherwise we risk reducing everything to a horizontal dimension that mars the identity of the Church — as well as the proclamation of faith — and would impoverish both our life and the life of the Church.

It is important to stress that the Church is not a social or philanthropic organization like many others. She is the community of God, the community of believers, that loves, that worships the Lord Jesus and that spreads its “sails” to the breath of the Holy Spirit. She is thus a community able to evangelize and humanize. The profound relationship with Christ, lived and nourished by the word and by the Eucharist, is what makes proclamation effective, motivates commitment to catechesis and gives life to the witness of love.

Many men and women of our time need to encounter God, to encounter Christ, to rediscover the beauty of the God who is close, the God who in Jesus Christ revealed his face as Father, who calls us to recognize the meaning and value of life and make people realize that to live as a human being is good.

The present period of history, as we know, is chequered with patches of light and shade. We are witnessing complex attitudes: withdrawal into self, narcissism, the desire for possessions and consumerism, sentiments and affections free from responsibility. The causes of this disorientation, expressed in profound existential unease, are many; yet at the root of them all we can perceive the denial of man's transcendent dimension and of the founding relationship with God. It is therefore crucial that Christian communities promote reliable and demanding itineraries of faith.

Dear friends, special attention should be paid to the approach to education in Christian living so that every man and woman may make an authentic journey of faith through the different stages of life; a journey on which — like the Virgin Mary — the person profoundly receives the word of God and puts it into practice, becoming a Gospel witness.

The Second Vatican Council stated in the Declaration Gravissimum Educationis: “Christian education... is especially directed towards ensuring that those who have been baptized, as they are gradually introduced to a knowledge of the mystery of salvation, become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith which they have received. They should be trained to live their own lives in the new self, justified and sanctified through the the truth” (n. 2). The family is primarily responsible for this educational commitment. Dear parents, may you be the first witnesses of faith! Do not be afraid of the difficulties in which you are required to carry out your mission. You are not alone! The Christian community is close to you and supports you. Catechesis accompanies your children in their human and spiritual development but should be seen as an ongoing formation that is not limited to preparation for receiving the Sacraments.

Throughout our life we must increase in the knowledge of God, as well as in the knowledge of what it means to be a human being. May you always be able to find strength and light in the Liturgy. Participation in the Eucharistic celebration on the Lord’s Day is crucial for families and for the whole community; since it is the structure of our time. Let us always remember that in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus works for the transformation of people by absorbing us in him. It is precisely thanks to the encounter with Christ, to communion with him, that the Christian community can witness to communion, opening itself to service, welcoming the poorest and lowliest and recognizing God’s Face in the sick and in every needy person. I therefore ask you, on the basis of contact with the Lord in daily prayer and, especially, in the Eucharist, to develop appropriate educational possibilities and forms of voluntary service that exist in the diocese in order to form reliable people open and attentive to situations of spiritual and material hardship.

Ultimately, pastoral action must aim at forming people with a mature faith to live in contexts in which God is frequently disregarded. They must be consistent in their faith so that Christ’s light may be brought to all milieus. If they are to pass on the beauty of being Christian, they must be people who live their faith with joy.

Lastly, I would like to address a special thought to you, dear priests. Always be grateful for the gift you have received so that you may serve the People of God entrusted to your care with love and dedication. Proclaim the Gospel with courage and faithfulness, be witnesses of God’s mercy and, guided by the Holy Spirit, may you be able to point out the truth confidently dialoguing with culture and with those in search of God.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust the progress of your diocesan community to Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Lord and Mother of the Church, our Mother. In her we contemplate what the Church is and what she is called to be. With her “yes” she gave the world Jesus and now fully shares in God’s glory. We too are called to give the Lord Jesus to humanity, never forgetting that we must always be his disciples. I thank you again very much for your lovely visit and I warmly thank you for your faith. I accompany you with my prayers and impart to all of you and to the entire diocese the Apostolic Blessing.







Atrium of the Paul VI Audience Hall Monday, 4 July 2011

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

It is a great joy for me to meet you and to receive your creative and multiform tribute on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. I am sincerely grateful for your closeness on this anniversary, which is so significant and important to me. During the Eucharistic Celebration of 29 June, the Solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul, I thanked the Lord for the gift of my priestly vocation. Today, I thank you for the friendship and kindness which you have shown me. I cordially greet Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture who, together with his colleagues, has organized this unique artistic exhibition and I thank him for his courteous words addressed to me. I also extend my greeting to everyone present, especially you, dear artists, who have accepted the invitation to present one of your creations in this Exhibition.

Our meeting today, at which I have the joy and the curiosity to admire your works, is meant as a new step in which a journey of friendship and dialogue that began on 21 November, 2009 in the Sistine Chapel; an event which I still hold dear in my heart. The Church and artists once again encounter each other, to speak together and sustain a conversation which should and must become ever more intense and articulate, so that it also may offer to culture, or rather the cultures of our times, an eloquent example of fruitful and effective dialogue, aimed at making this, our world, more human and more beautiful. Today, you present me with the fruit of your creativity, of your reflection, of your talent, expressions of the various artistic environments which you represent: painting, sculpture, architecture, goldsmithery, cinema, music, literature and poetry. Before I admire them together with you, allow me to stop for a moment and reflect on the evocative title of this Exhibition: “Lo splendore della verità, la bellezza della carità” (“The Splendor of Truth, the Beauty of Love”). Precisely in the homily of the Mass pro eligendo Pontifice, I commented on the beautiful expression of St Paul in the Letter to the Ephesians, “veritatem facientes in caritate” (4:15), and I said that to “make truth in love” was a fundamental formula for Christian existence. I added, “Truth and love coincide in Christ. To the extent that we draw close to Christ, in our own lives too, truth and love are blended. Love without truth would be blind; truth without love would be like “a clanging cymbal” (1Co 13,1). It is precisely from union, I would like to say from the symphony of perfect harmony between truth and love that an authentic beauty emanates, capable of eliciting admiration, wonder and true joy in human hearts. The world in which we live needs the truth to shine brightly and not to be obscured by lies or banality; it needs love that enflames and that is not overwhelmed by pride and egotism. We need the beauty of truth and love to strike us in the intimacy of our hearts and make us more human.

Dear friends, I wish to renew to you and all artists a friendly and passionate appeal: do not ever separate artistic creativity from truth and from love, do not ever search for beauty far from truth and love, but with the richness of your genius, of your creative leanings, be always, courageously, seekers of the truth and witnesses to love; let truth shine brightly in your works and make their beauty elicit in the gaze and in the hearts of those who admire them, the desire and need to make their existence beautiful and true, every existence, enriching it with that treasure which is never lacking, which makes life a work of art and every man an extraordinary artist: charity, love. May the Holy Spirit, author of every beauty that is in the world, always illuminate you and guide you towards the final and lasting Beauty, that which warms our minds and our hearts and for which we wait, one day, to be able to contemplate in all its splendour. Once again, thank you for your friendship, for your presence here and for bringing a ray of this Beauty, which is God, to the world. Truly from my heart, I impart to all of you and to your loved ones and to the entire world of art, my Apostolic Blessing.



Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be able to meet you in the offices of the daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, where every day you carry out your valuable and highly qualified work at the service of the Holy See. I greet you all with affection. I greet the Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Giovanni Maria Vian, the Assistant Editor, the editorial staff, and the whole of this paper's large family.

A few days ago, on 1 July, L’Osservatore Romano reached the important milestone of 150 years of existence. I would like to wish you really warmly, as one does at home, “Happy Birthday!”. This event gives rise to sentiments of gratitude and legitimate pride, but alongside the special, solemn commemorations — I also wanted to come here to be with you, to express my gratitude to each one of those who actually “put out” the newspaper, with human and Christian enthusiasm and with professionalism.

For some time I have been truly curious to see how a newspaper is produced today, to see where the paper comes into being and to meet, at least for a moment, the people who put our paper together. I now have the joy of discovering the modern method, totally different from what it was 50 years ago, which brings a newspaper into being. It demands far more human creativity, let us say, than technical work. And thus this “workshop” is certainly dedicated to doing, but first and above all to knowing, to thinking, to judging and to reflecting. It is not even solely a “workshop”. It is above all a great observatory, as its name says. An observatory for seeing the reality of this world and for informing ourselves of this reality.

It seems to me that from this observatory we see both things that are distant from us as well as those that are close. Distant in a dual sense: first of all remote in all the parts of the world, as are the Philippines, Australia and Latin America; for me this is one of the great advantages of L'Osservatore Romano which truly offers a universal information, which really views the whole world and not only a part of it. I am really grateful for this because in newspapers news is provided but with a preponderance of our own world and this makes us forget many other parts of the earth that are no less important.

Here may be seen something of the coincidence of the Urbs et Orbis which is characteristic of catholicity and, in a certain sense, is also a Roman heritage, truly to view the world and not only ourselves.

In the second place, from this observatory we see distant things in another sense too. “L'Osservatore” [the observer] does not stop at the surface of events but goes to their root. Beyond the surface it shows us the cultural roots and the depth of things.

Moreover in my opinion this is not only a newspaper but also a cultural journal. I admire the fact that it is possible every day to make important contributions that help us understand better the human being, the roots from which things come and how they should be understood, brought about and transformed. But this newspaper also sees things from close at hand. Sometimes it is really difficult to see our small world from close to which is nevertheless an immense world.

There is another phenomenon that makes me think and for which I am grateful: namely, that no one can be informed about everything. Even the most globalized media, so to speak, cannot say everything: it is impossible.

Discernment, a choice, is always necessary. Hence in presenting events the criterion of choice is crucial: there is never pure fact, there is always also a choice that determines what appears and what does not appear. And we know well that the priority choices today, in many organs of public opinion, are often highly disputable. And L’Osservatore Romano, as the Editor-in-Chief said, has always offered in its masthead two criteria: “Unicuique suum” and “Non praevalebunt”.

This characteristically sums up the culture of the Western world. On the one hand, the great Roman law, natural law, the natural human culture expressed in Roman culture, with its law and its sense of justice; and on the other hand the Gospel.

One could also say: with these two criteria — of natural law and of the Gospel — we have justice as our criterion and, moreover, the hope that derives from faith. Together, these two criteria — justice that respects everyone and hope that sees even negative things in the light of a divine goodness of which we may be sure through faith — really help to offer a human, a humanistic, information in the sense of a humanism whose roots are in God’s goodness. And in this way it is not only information but, really, cultural formation. For all this I am grateful to you. I warmly impart to all of you and to your loved ones the Apostolic Blessing.


Dear friends, I wish you all a good evening! I came here to begin my vacation and here I find everything: mountains, the lake, and even the sea; a beautiful church with a renewed façade and good people. For these reasons, I am happy to be here. Let us hope that the Lord will give us a good vacation. I impart my blessing to all of you, with all my heart.

Good evening and thank you.

TO A DELEGATION OF THE MUNICIPALITY OF TRAUNSTEIN Courtyard of the Papal Summer Residence, Castel Gandolfo Saturday, 30 July 2011

Dear Friends,

A cordial greeting to all of you who have come from Chiemgau and Rupertiwinkel. With you, as the Landrat [county commissioner] said, Castel Gandolfo has become a Bavarian village and this makes me glad, for through you my Bavarian homeland is present here. May the Lord reward you!

I extend to you, dear Mr Landrat, my deep gratitude for your heartfelt words: they came from your heart and they have touched my heart; they outlined a picture of our homeland while at the same time reaffirming your ties with me. That this ring of honour should be awarded to me unanimously, over and above every party membership, every difference which — rightly — exists, gives me great joy.

For me it is a sign that with you I am truly “at home”, that we welcome each other and that I continue to belong to you. I am happy and grateful for my beautiful land and for this marvellous evening you have offered me. May the Lord reward you!

The ring of honour will probably not be seen on my finger, but it will be displayed in such a way that I always have it before my eyes to remind me of what, in any case, I know in the depths of my heart: I am at home there in Chiemgau and in Rupertiwinkel, in the places of my youth that you have mentioned. I am grateful to you because, if only for an instant, you have enabled me to relive the beauty and joy of the Bavarian culture.

Dear Mr Landrat! You spoke of our country as a “terra benedicta” [blessed land] and mentioned the monks who developed this culture of joy among us. Thanks to the Creator our land is truly a “terra benedicta”: he gave us mountains, lakes, valleys and woods. We must be grateful to him for them, because he has entrusted such a precious part of the earth to us. However, our land is fully a “terra benedicta” essentially because the faith of men and women has been touched by the beauty of creation and by the goodness of the Creator. Touched by him, they were able to endow our land with its full splendour and the capacity for reflecting it.

What would Bavaria be without its towers with the onion-shape domes of our churches, without the splendour of the Baroque and the joy of the redeemed that expands within them? Without our music, the sacred music — which gives you a direct glimpse of Heaven — and our profane music? A warm “thank you” to you, musicians: you have given an excellent performance of Bavarian music here and have reminded me once again that I am at home in Bavaria, that I came from there and continue to belong to that land. May the Lord reward you!

Without the churches, wayside crosses and chapels — as the provincial councillor has also recalled — Bavaria would not be Bavaria; without its music, its poetry, the affability and cordiality and joy that we have just felt. Joy, cordiality and kindness only increase, however, if the skies above us are clear. The sun does not shine every day, as you said too, Mr Landrat; at times we must pass through dark valleys. Yet we can do so remaining joyful and human — if the sky is clear for us, if we are touched by the certainty that he loves us in all things, that God is good and that this is why it is good to be a human being.

Bavaria has become what it is on the basis of this certainty, and let us all pray and hope that it will remain so. In order for it to stay like this and continue to be ever beautiful and for people to be able to continue to say “yes” to life and to the future, it is important that we do not lose the splendour of faith, that we remain believers, Christians, Catholics, wherever Catholic also means always being “open to the world” — that is, the world, life and faith at the same time — it means being tolerant and open to each other and to warm brotherhood for those who know they belong to the one Father and are loved by the one Lord.

This is my prayer; let us allow ourselves to be touched by faith, let us allow ourselves to be guided by faith so that the splendour of Heaven may reach us and illuminate the world in its wretchedness, making it beautiful and bright.

For my part, I promise you that my land is ever present in my prayers, and as a pledge of this I now impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.

May the Lord reward you! I wish you a pleasant stay at Castel Gandolfo! Give Bavaria my greetings.

                                                                       August 2011





AT THE END OF THE CONCERT Courtyard of the Apostolic Palace, Castel Gandolfo Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Reverend Dean, Esteemed Musicians,
Dear Friends,

There is certainly nothing that can be added to the wonderful music that is still resounding within us.

Nevertheless I must extend a word of thanks to those who made possible and organized this concert here at Castel Gandolfo. I warmly thank the Dean for his opening address, and especially the musicians, Maestro Albrecht Mayer, the conductor and oboist, Arabella Steinbacher, the violinist, and the New Seasons Ensemble for their splendid performance that uplifted our hearts.

It also makes me particularly happy that you wanted to offer this concert on the occasion of the 60th priestly jubilee that my brother and I, with divine grace, were able to celebrate together a little while ago. Moreover, Mr Mayer, you dedicated this concert to the theme: “Whatever God does, is well done”; thus you have offered a concert of heartfelt thanksgiving and believing trust. I am infinitely grateful to you for this gift!

This evening we have been able to meet two really important exponents of 16th-century music: Antonio Vivaldi and Johann Sebastian Bach, the maestro of maestros.

The two works by Vivaldi that have resounded this evening are part of the so-called “full orchestra” pieces, composed for an orchestra of strings and basso continuo, many of which had a didactic aim, especially when Vivaldi taught at the “Pietà” [Ospedale della Pietà], one of the four orphanages-conservatories for girls in Venice.

The structure of the three movements with a brief central adagio is typical of the great Italian composer. However, this architectural uniformity is never monotonous because — as we have heard, the tone treatment, the orchestral colour, the dynamic of the musical subject, the blend of harmonies, the art of counterpoint and echoing, make Vivaldi concertos an example of luminosity and beauty that conveys serenity and joy. And I think that this stemmed from his faith. Vivaldi was a Catholic priest, faithful to his Breviary and to his devotional practices. In listening to his opus of sacred music his profoundly religious heart is revealed.

This is a feature that puts him on an equal footing with Johann Sebastian Bach, a Lutheran, and an admirer of Vivaldi, several of whose concertos he studied and transcribed. “Soli Deo gloria”: This phrase appears as a refrain in Bach’s manuscripts — a leitmotif of Bach's cantatas as the programme says — and constitutes a central element for understanding the music of the great German composer. Deep devotion was an essential element of his character and his solid faith sustained and illuminated him throughout his life.

On the cover of the “Kleines Orgelbüchlein” these two lines can be read: “Dem höchsten Gott allein zu Ehren, Dem Nächsten draus sich zu belehren” [To God Most High to honour him, to others to teach them].

Bach had a deeply religious conception of music: honouring God and recreating the human spirit. Listening to his music in its overall harmonious unity somehow reminds one of a bubbling brook, or rather of a great architectural project, in which all is harmoniously pieced together in an attempt to reproduce that perfect harmony which God impressed on his creation. Bach is a splendid “architect of music” whose counterpoint has never been equalled. He is an architect guided by a tenacious esprit de géometrie, a symbol of order and wisdom, a reflection of God and hence pure rationality become music in the loftiest and purest sense, resplendent beauty.

This evening we have been able to admire Bach’s spirit in the initial passages from the monumental works of faith which his Cantatas are, in that pure, crystalline music of Partita n. 2 in D minor for solo violin and in the loveliest Concerto, BWV 1060, proposed in a version which in all likelihood corresponds to the oldest.

Thanks once again, also on behalf of my brother, to the Dean, to Maestro Mayer, to the violinist Arabella Steinbacher and to the New Seasons Ensemble. I wish you all a heartfelt “Vergelt’s Gott” [may God reward you]. I gladly impart to you and to everyone present my Apostolic Blessing.




Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: Holy Father, we have come to the 26th World Youth Day, the 12th to be celebrated with an important world meeting. John Paul II, who invented the Youth Days, is now Blessed and is the official Patron of this World Youth Day in Madrid. At the beginning of your Pontificate people wondered whether you would continue along the same lines as your Predecessor. This is now your third World Youth Day, after Cologne and Sydney. How do you view the significance of these events in the pastoral “strategy” of the universal Church in the third millennium?

The Holy Father: Dear friends, good morning! I am glad to be going to Spain with you for this great event. After personally experiencing two WYDs, I can only say that Pope John Paul II was truly inspired when he created this important meeting of young people and of the world with the Lord.

I would say that these World Youth Days are a sign, a cascade of light; they give visibility to the faith and to God’s presence in the world, and thus create the courage to be believers. Believers often feel isolated in this world, almost lost. Here they see that they are not alone, that there is a great network of faith, a great community of believers in the world, that it is beautiful to live in this universal friendship. And thus, it seems to me, friendships are born, friendships beyond the confines of different cultures and different countries. And this birth of a universal network of friendship that links the world and God, is an important reality for the future of humanity, for the life of humanity today.

Naturally, the WYD cannot be an isolated event; it is part of a larger process, it should be prepared for by this journey of the Cross that transmigrates to different countries and already unites young people in the sign of the cross and in the marvellous sign of Our Lady. So it is that the preparation for the World Youth Day is of course far more than the technical plan for an event with a great many technical hitches; it is an inner preparation, a starting out towards others, together towards God. Then, later, the foundation of groups of friends follows, preserving this universal contact that opens the boundaries between cultures, between human and religious differences, hence it is a continuous journey that leads subsequently to a new summit, to a new World Youth Day. It seems to me, in this sense, that the World Youth Day should be seen as a sign, as part of a great journey; it creates friendships, opens frontiers and makes visible the beauty of our being with God and of God’s being with us. In this regard, let us continue to implement Bl. Pope John Paul II's important idea.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: Your Holiness, times are changing. Europe and the Western world in general are going through a profound economic crisis which is also showing dimensions of serious social and moral hardship and great uncertainty for the future which is becoming particularly acute for young people. In the past few days we have seen, for example, what happened in Great Britain when rebellion and aggressiveness were unleashed. At the same time there are signs of generous and enthusiastic commitment, of voluntary service and of solidarity, of young believers and non-believers alike. In Madrid we shall meet a large number of marvellous young people. What message of hope can the Church provide to encourage youth throughout the world, especially those who feel discouraged today and are tempted to rebel?

The Holy Father: It is this. In the current economic crisis what formerly appeared in the previous great crisis has been confirmed: namely, that the ethical dimension is not alien to economic problems but an internal and fundamental dimension of them. The economy does not function with a self-regulation of the market alone, but it needs an ethical reason if it is to function for man. And once again Pope John II’s words in his first social Encyclical become apparent: man must be the centre of the economy and the economy cannot be measured according to the maxim of profit but rather according to the common good of all, that it implies responsibility for others and only really functions well if it functions humanly, with respect for others. And with the different dimensions: responsibility for one's own nation and not only for oneself; responsibility for the world — even a nation is not isolated, even Europe is not isolated but is responsible for the whole of humanity and must always think about economic problems in this key of responsibility for the other parts of the world too, for all who suffer, who thirst and hunger, who have no future. And so — a third dimension of this responsibility — is responsibility for the future.

We know we must protect our planet but, all things considered, we must protect a functional service of employment for everyone and realize that tomorrow is also today. If today’s young people have no prospects in life then our own life today is misguided and “wrong”. Therefore the Church, with her social doctrine, with her doctrine on responsibility to God, proposes the readiness to give up the maxim of profit and to see things in the humanistic and religious dimension: in other words existing for each other. Thus new ways can also be found. The throngs of volunteers who are working in various parts of the world, not for themselves but for others, and who thereby find the meaning of life, show that it is possible to do this and that an education in these great goals, such as the Church tries to provide, is fundamental for our future.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: Youth today generally live in multicultural and multidenominational milieus. Reciprocal tolerance is more necessary than ever. You stress the importance of truth. Do you not think that this insistence on truth and on the one Truth which is Christ is a problem for the young today? Don't you think that this insistence might lead to opposition and to difficulty in dialogue and in seeking together with others?

The Holy Father: The connection between truth and intolerance, monotheism and the incapacity for dialogue with others is a subject that recurs frequently in the discussion on Christianity today. And, of course, it is true that in history there have been instances of abuse, both of the concept of truth and of the concept of monotheism; but there has been abuse. The reality is totally different. The hypothesis is erroneous because truth is only accessible in freedom. It is possible to impose forms of conduct, observance or activity with violence, but not truth!

Truth is only open to freedom, to free consent, and therefore freedom and truth are closely tied, the one is a condition for the other. Besides, there is no alternative to seeking the truth, the true values that give life and a future: we do not want falsehood, we do not want the positivism of norms imposed with a certain force; true values alone lead to the future; and let us say that it is therefore necessary to seek true values and not to permit the arbitrariness of the few, not to let a positivist reason be established which tells us, concerning ethical problems, the great problems of humanity: that there is no rational truth. This would really be exposing man to the will of those in power. We must always be in search of the truth, of true values; we have a nucleus in the fundamental values, in human rights; other similar fundamental elements are recognized and precisely these put us in dialogue with one another. The truth as such is dialogical because it seeks to know better, to understand better and does so in dialogue with others. Thus, seeking the truth and the dignity of the human being is the greatest guarantee of freedom.

Fr Federico Lombardi, SJ: The World Youth Days are a beautiful interlude and give rise to great enthusiasm, but the young people then go home and find a world in which religious practice is rapidly diminishing. Many of them will probably not be seen again in church. How can the fruits of the World Youth Days be ensured in the future? Do you think the Days effectively produce fruits that last longer than the momentary bursts of enthusiasm?

The Holy Father: God always sows in silence. The results are not immediately apparent in the statistics. And the seed the Lord scatters on the ground with the World Youth Days is like the seed of which he speaks in the Gospel: some seeds fell along the path and were lost; some fell on rocky ground and were lost, some fell upon thorns and were lost; but other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth abundant fruit.

It is exactly like this with the sowing of the WYDs: a great deal is lost — and this is human. To borrow other words from the Lord: the mustard seed was small, but it grew and became a great tree. And with yet other words: of course, a great deal is lost, we cannot say straight away that there will be an immense growth of the Church tomorrow. God does not act in this way. However, the Church grows in silence and vigorously. I know from other World Youth Days that a great many friendships were born, friendships for life; a great many experiences that God exists. And let us place trust in this silent growth, and we may be certain, even if the statistics do not tell us much, that the Lord’s seed really grows and will be for very many people the beginning of a friendship with God and with others, of a universality of thought, of a common responsibility which really shows us that these days do bear fruit. Many thanks!

Speeches 2005-13 10711