Speeches 2005-13 381





Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On 11 October 1962, 48 years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on 11 October, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of Our Lady. We too begin on 11 October. We too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Our Lady, the Mother of God.

Pius XI, introduced this feast day in 1931, 1,500 years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of Theotókos, Dei Genitrix. With this great word Dei Genitrix, Theotókos, the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.

In reality, Theotókos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal One, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotókos, yes, but Theotókos no: Theós, God, is beyond, above the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he came out of himself, He united himself so closely, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak always about God. Not only was a man born who had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are no longer outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.

Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only a non-reciprocal relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relationship today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God himself has no relationship with me. With the Incarnation, with the event of the Theotókos, this radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created a relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and to remain Himself always: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act of Pope John, who entrusted the Council, the Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.

The Council began with the icon of the Theotókos.Upon its closure, Pope Paul VI recognized Our Lady with the title of Mater Ecclesiae. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, a single icon because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians to deliver the whole world. He was born as the firstborn of many brothers. He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of recapitulation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theós, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of the One who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.

St Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth, giving us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is in the midst of Jesus' disciples who are praying together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.

Birth in Bethlehem, birth of the Upper Room. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or the one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross is the way towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from a grain of wheat fallen into the earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples gathered in this His Body, dead and risen.

Keeping this connection between Theotókos and Mater Ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with the sun, with 12 stars on her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And she gives birth with a cry of pain. She gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in every generation and thus he assumes the gathering of humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of the martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.

So, at this moment, we can look at the second Psalm of this Midday Prayer, Psalm 81, where we can see part of this process. God is among gods they are still considered as gods in Israel. In this Psalm, in a great concentration, in a prophetic vision, we can see the power taken from the gods. Those that seemed gods are not gods, lose their divine characteristics, and fall to earth. Dii estis et moriemini sicut nomine (cf. Ps 81,6-7): the weakening of power, the fall of the divinities.

This process that is achieved along the path of faith of Israel, and which is summed up here in one vision, is the true process of the history of religion: the fall of the gods. And thus the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the loss of power by the forces that dominate the world, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel we can see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition "Only He is God" is achieved with great pain, beginning with the path of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabeans, to Christ. And this process of the loss of power, spoken in the Book of Revelation, chapter 12 continues throughout history; it mentions the fall of the angels, which are not truly angels, they are not divinities on earth. And it is achieved truly, right at the time of the rising Church, where we can see how with the blood of the martyrs comes the weakening of the divinities, starting with the divine emperor, from all these divinities. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of Mother Church that brings about their fall and thus transforms the world.

This fall is not only the knowledge that they are not God; it is the process of transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of witnesses of Christ. And, if we look closely, we can see that this process never ends. It is achieved in various periods of history in ever new ways; even today, at this moment in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the fall of the gods, with pain, the martyrdom of witnesses. Let us remember all the great powers of the history of today. Let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man which is no longer in man's possession but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power that threatens the world. And then there is the power of terroristic ideologies. Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a voracious beast, extends its claws to all parts of the world and destroys it: it is a divinity, but a false divinity that must fall. Or even the way of living proclaimed by public opinion: today we must do things like this, marriage no longer counts, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.

These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall. What is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the domination, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. Concerning this battle in which we find ourselves, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of Revelations mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that seems no longer to have a place in the face of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple people, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and that saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says the first psalm of the Hour the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf. Ps 118,130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery.

And there is also a final word in Psalm 81, "movebuntur omnia fundamenta terrae" (Ps 81,5), the foundations of the earth are shaken. We see this today, with the climatic problems, how the foundations of the earth are shaken, how they are threatened by our behavior. The external foundations are shaken because the internal foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that follows the right way of living. And we know that faith is the foundation, and, undoubtedly, the foundations of the earth cannot be shaken if they remain close to the faith, to true wisdom.

Then the Psalm says: "Arise, God, judge the world" (Ps 81,8). Thus we say to the Lord: "Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth". And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, Mary, and pray: "You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth may win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world". Amen.




Paul VI Audience Hall Saturday, 16 October 2010

Your Eminencies,
Venerable Brothers,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the end of such intense listening, the mind would like to pause in recollection but at the same time feels the need to express gratitude.

I would like to offer my cordial thanks to Maestro Enoch zu Guttenberg for the kind words he has addressed to me and for having wished to offer me this concert, together with the splendid Die KlangVerwaltung Orchestra, with the combined Neubeuern Choir and with the Family of the Freiherren von und zu Guttenberg. I express my grateful appreciation to the Maestro, who has conducted the performance, to the soloists and to each member of the Orchestra and of the Choir. I warmly thank you!

I am glad to greet the Cardinals, the Prelates, especially the Synod Fathers, the distinguished Authorities and all of you – including the poor assisted by the Diocesan Caritas of Rome – who have been able to enjoy this excellent performance of Giuseppe Verdi's Requiem Mass. He composed it in 1873, in memory of Alessandro Manzoni whom he admired and almost venerated. In a letter he wondered: “What can I tell you of Manzoni? How can I explain to you the sweetest, indefinable and new sensation that I felt in the presence of this Saint, as you call him?”.

In the great composer's mind, the Requiem Mass must have been the crowning and final work of his musical opus; it was not only a tribute to the great writer but also the response to a creative, inner and spiritual requirement that confrontation with Manzoni's human and Christian stature inspired in him.

Giuseppe Verdi spent his life scrutinizing the human heart; in his works he shed light on the drama of the human condition with the music, the stories told and the various figures. His theatre is peopled by the unhappy, the persecuted and victims. This tragic vision of human destiny echoes throughout so many passages of the Requiem Mass. Here we touch on the inevitable reality of death and the fundamental question of the transcendent world; and Verdi, free from theatrical elements, represents, with the words of the Catholic Liturgy and with music alone, the range of human sentiments in the face of life's conclusion: the human being's anguish in confronting his own frail nature, his sense of rebellion as he faces death, his consternation on the threshold of eternity. This music invites reflection on the last realities with all the moods of the human heart in a series of contrasting forms, registers and colours, in which dramatic and melodious moments alternate, marked by hope.

Giuseppe Verdi, who, in a famous letter to the publisher, Ricordi, described himself as “something of an atheist”, wrote this Mass, which appears to us as a great call to the Eternal Father in the attempt to overcome the cry of despair in the face of death, to rediscover the longing for life that becomes a silent, heartfelt prayer: “Libera me, Domine” [Free me, Lord]. Verdi's Requiem, in fact, begins with a passage in G minor which almost seems to sink towards silence – only a few muted bars of the cello, played very softly – and ends with the hushed invocation to the Lord, “Libera me”. This cathedral of music describes the spiritual drama of man in the presence of Almighty God, of man who cannot escape the eternal question on his own existence.

After writing the Requiem Mass, Verdi was to live a sort of second “season of composition”, which would end once again with religious music, the Quattro Pezzi Sacri: a sign of his spiritual restlessness, a sign that the longing for God is engraved in the heart of the human being because our hope rests in the Lord. “Qui Mariam absolvisti, et latronem exaudisti, mihi quoque spem dedisti”, we heard: “You who forgave Mary (Magdalen) and answered the good thief, have also given hope to me”. The great musical fresco of this evening renews in us the certainty of St Augustine's words: “Inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te – Our hearts are restless until they rest in you” (Confessions, I, 1).

Dear friends, we must thank the Lord once again for granting us a moment of true beauty that can raise our spirit. At the same time we must also thank those who have made themselves instruments of divine Providence! My warm thanks are therefore once again addressed to Professor zu Guttenberg, to the soloists and to the members of the Orchestra and of the Choir, and to all those who contributed in different ways to organizing this beautiful evening. May God reward you all. Thank you and have a good evening!


Mr Ambassador,

With deep joy I offer you my cordial welcome on the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Colombia to the Holy See. In repeating my warm affection for the beloved children of your country, I express the wish that the mission your Government has entrusted to you may be fruitful.

I also thank you for your words and for the sentiments you have expressed to me on behalf of the President, H.E. Mr Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, who has recently assumed the eminent office of guiding this beloved nation on the path of progress in justice, protecting absolute respect for the basic rights of the person, ceaselessly journeying on towards increasingly noble and lofty goals — both human and spiritual. Kindly convey to him my best wishes for peace and wellbeing and the assurance of my prayers for the fruitful exercise of his important task.

Your presence and your kind words, Your Excellency, bring to mind once again the affection and devotion of a people known for its untarnished human and Christian virtues and its deep Catholic roots. Even amid difficult situations of various kinds, it has been able to preserve its faith in God and its firm determination to foster and put into practice the values of the Gospel, an inexhaustible source of energy and inspiration to engage in the noblest causes.

Mr Ambassador, you are beginning your delicate mandate to the Holy See at a particularly significant moment for Colombia. Indeed, the Bicentenary of the beginning of the process that led to Colombia's Independence and to the constitution of the Republic is being commemorated this year. I am sure that this important anniversary will be a unique opportunity to benefit from the lessons history furnishes, redoubling initiatives and measures that can consolidate security, peace, harmony and the integral development of all your fellow-citizens looking with serenity and hope to the future, now at hand.

In this process the contribution of all is of fundamental importance, so that the deepest aspirations and the most longed for projects of the Colombian people may become, increasingly, a happy and encouraging reality.

Not only has the Catholic Church been present during the past two centuries but also in each stage of the development of your country's history, since the dawn of the arrival of the Spanish in America, constantly playing a fundamental and crucial role. In fact, the self-sacrificing work of so many Bishops, priests, religious and lay people has permanently marked the most varied contexts of your homeland's daily life: for example, on culture, art, health care, social coexistence and on the establishment of peace.

As the years have passed, in every corner of Colombia this spiritual legacy has germinated in a wide range of fruitful human, spiritual and material achievements. These efforts, not exempt from sacrifice and adversity, cannot be forgotten. It is well worth preserving them as a precious heritage and reinforcing them as a beneficial example for the whole nation.

In this regard, in the context of the Bicentenary and faithful to the office she has received from the Lord, the Church will continue to give the best of herself to the Colombian People in solidarity with their aspirations for improvement and helping everyone, on the basis of her mission.

In the same vein, in the Message of 30 June 2008 that I addressed to the Columbian Episcopal Conference for the Centenary of its foundation, I took the opportunity to urge the Bishops to continue, with foresight and mindful of the eloquent testimony of apostolic zeal of the Pastors who preceded them, “to respond with prompt dedication, firm faith and renewed fervour to the challenges that confront the Church in your Homeland”, and “to serve everyone with enthusiasm, especially the most underprivileged, bringing them a message of peace, justice and reconciliation”.

In this exciting undertaking the Church in Colombia demands no privileges. She only wants to serve the faithful and all who open the doors of their heart to her, with a hand stretched out; and she is ever willing to strengthen everything that will further the education of the new generations, the care of the sick and the elderly, respect for the Indigenous peoples and their legitimate traditions, the eradication of poverty, the drug trade and corruption and attention to prisoners, to the displaced, to migrants and to workers, as well as assistance to needy families.

It is ultimately a matter of continuing to offer loyal collaboration for the integral growth of communities in which Pastors, religious and faithful carry out their service, motivated solely by the demands inherent in their priestly ordination, their religious congregation or their Christian vocation.

In this framework of mutual cooperation and cordial relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia — which this year is celebrating its 165th anniversary — I would like to express anew the Church's interest in protecting and encouraging the inviolable dignity of the human person.

This essentially requires that the juridical order respect the natural law in such essential areas as the safeguard of human life from its conception to its natural end; the right to be born and to live in a family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman and the right of parents to ensure that their children receive an education compatible with their own moral criteria or beliefs. These are all irreplaceable pillars in the building of a society truly worthy of human beings and the values inseparable from it.

Your Excellency, at this solemn meeting with you I likewise wish to express my spiritual closeness to, and prayers for, those who have been unjustly and cruelly deprived of their freedom. I also pray for their relatives and, in general, for the victims of violence in all its forms. At the same time I implore God to put an end to all this suffering once and for all and to obtain that all Colombians may live reconciled with one another and in peace in this blessed land, so full of natural resources, beautiful valleys and towering mountains, mighty rivers and picturesque landscapes that must be preserved as a magnificent gift of God.

Mr Ambassador, in concluding my Address I repeat my best wishes to you for the mission which you are beginning today and in which you will always find the welcoming support of my collaborators.

As I invoke the motherly intercession of Our Lady of Chiquinquirá upon you, Your Excellency, and upon the members of this Diplomatic Mission, upon the Government and upon the beloved Colombian People, I ask the Almighty to ensure that your Country play a leading role in the service to the common good and to brotherhood among all people and to encourage Colombians to walk unerringly on paths of reciprocal understanding and solidarity.


Monday, 18 October 2010

Mr Ambassador,

I welcome you today with great pleasure at this solemn act of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of El Salvador to the Holy See, and I thank you for the cordial sentiments you have expressed on behalf of the Government and the beloved people of El Salvador. I reciprocate this sensitive attention and ask you kindly to convey my respectful greeting to H.E. Mr Mauricio Funes Cartagena, President of the Republic. Please assure him that the Apostolic See willingly contributes to the path of dialogue and peaceful coexistence on which the Authorities of your country have set out, in such a way that every Salvadorian may consider the fatherland as an authentic welcoming home that offers him the possibility of living in it peacefully.

Thus the reinforcement of internal harmony will promote the good of the nation. This will help it to retain its important place throughout Central America, where it is essential that voices inviting mutual understanding and generous cooperation be heard, in the name of just progress and of the stability of the International Community.

With your ongoing dedication to the mission you are beginning today, Your Excellency, the Authorities of your country have wished to enhance the prestige of the Diplomatic Representation of El Salvador to the Holy See in harmony with the sentiments of the majority of your fellow citizens, who profess profound veneration for and filial devotion to the Successor of St Peter. Your illustrious personal gifts, Your Excellency — your faith as well as your vast experience in various fields of teaching, of public administration and of social life — are the best guarantee of success in your work of strengthening the fruitful and continuous relations that your country has maintained for some time with the Holy See.

These close bonds that unite the faithful of El Salvador to the Chair of the Prince of the Apostles express a very noble tradition and it has been impossible to separate them from the history and customs of this blessed land since the time of the arrival there of the sons of St Dominic and of St Francis. The Catholic faith ploughed a fertile furrow in El Salvador. It inspired the very name of this Central American Nation and a wealth of famous artistic monuments. It also created beneficial initiatives for health care, education and social assistance and likewise promoted the innumerable personal, family and social virtues inherent in the Christian state. This patrimony of values, fostered with the Gospel leaven, is the glorious hallmark that Salvadorians have received as a legacy, a treasure of wisdom, which they must foster and consolidate in a just and orderly manner today, so as to subsequently draw enough moral energy to plan a luminous future.

The Church in El Salvador, with its specific competence, with independence and freedom, endeavours to serve and promote the common good in all its dimensions. It also seeks to encourage the conditions that permit the integral development of men and women, thereby imbuing the social context with the light that shines from her vocation to renew the world.

Evangelizing and bearing witness to love of God and to all people, without exception, becomes an effective means of eradicating poverty and giving a vigorous impetus to combating violence, impunity and drug trafficking which are causing such great harm, especially among the young. By contributing as far as possible to caring for the sick and the elderly and for rebuilding the regions devastated by natural catastrophes, the Church wishes to follow the example of her Divine Founder, who does not permit her to remain apart from the human person’s aspirations and dynamics. He does not allow her to limit herself to looking on with indifference when attention is not given to important requirements such as the fair distribution of wealth, honesty in carrying out public offices, or the independence of tribunals of justice.

Nor does the ecclesial community stop feeling called into question when many lack decent housing or dignified work that permits them to fulfil themselves and to provide for their family; inadequate conditions force them to emigrate from their own country.

Likewise, it would be strange if disciples of Christ were to remain neutral before the aggressive presence of the sects. They seem to offer an easy and comfortable religious response, but in fact undermine the culture and habits that have moulded the Salvadorian identity for centuries; they obscure the beauty of the Gospel message and break the unity of the faithful around their Pastors. The maternal work of the Church, on the other hand, in her constant desire to defend the inviolable dignity of human life from its conception to its natural end — as the Constitution of the country also proclaims — the value of the family founded on the marriage between a man and a woman, and the right of parents to educate their progeny in accordance with their own moral and spiritual convictions, creates a climate in which the true religious spirit is founded, with the courage to attain ever higher goals of wellbeing and progress, opening the nation to a vast horizon of hope.

It is comforting to see the effort that your country is making to build an ever more harmonious and supportive society, advancing on the path opened by the Agreements signed in 1992 that put an end to the long internal conflict that El Salvador was involved in. It is a land of enormous natural resources that speak eloquently of God and must be carefully preserved and protected in order to consign it in all its luxuriance to the generations to come. Of course, the self-sacrificing and hard-working people of El Salvador, will experience great joy once the peace process is strengthened day by day and the decisions aiming to promote civil security have been reinforced. In this regard I ask the Almighty with fervent trust to offer your fellow citizens the help they need to give up once and for all everything that sparks disputes, replacing enmity with reciprocal understanding and preserving the safety of people and of their possessions.

To bring about this result they must realize that violence achieves nothing and makes everything worse, since it is a dead end, a detestable and inadmissible evil, an enticement that deceives and insults the person and his/her dignity. The aspiration to peace, on the contrary, is what distinguishes every person who is worthy of this name. As a gift of the Divine Saviour, it is also a duty all must cooperate in without hesitation. To do this they must find in the State a staunch champion, which provides opportune juridical, economic and social measures, as well as adequate police and security forces to watch over the well-being of the population within the framework of legality. In the process of overcoming difficulties, they will always find the hands of the Church's children extended, she warmly exhorts them with their testimony as Christ’s missionaries and disciples, increasingly to identify with him and to pray him to make every Salvadorian an architect of reconciliation.

I entrust to Our Lady of Peace, heavenly Patroness of El Salvador, the personal, family and public concerns and challenges of your fellow citizens. May she help and protect you too, Mr Ambassador, in the lofty responsibility which you are now beginning and in which you will always be able to count on the diligent solicitude of my collaborators.

At the same time I invoke her motherly protection upon you, upon your esteemed family and upon the personnel of this Diplomatic Mission, and I implore the Almighty to bestow abundant Blessings upon the Republic of El Salvador.


Your Excellency,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Korea to the Holy See. I would like to express my gratitude for the good wishes that you bring from President Lee Myung-bak, whose visit to the Vatican last year I recall with much pleasure. Indeed, His Excellency’s visit served to deepen the very cordial relations that have existed for almost half a century between your country and the Holy See. Kindly convey my cordial greetings to His Excellency and to the Government, and assure them of my continued prayers for all the people of Korea.

It is encouraging to note the remarkable economic growth that your country has experienced in recent years, which has transformed Korea from a net recipient of aid into a donor country. Such a development would be inconceivable without a remarkable degree of industry and generosity on the part of the Korean people, and I take this opportunity to pay tribute to their achievement. At the same time, as your President pointed out during his visit to the Vatican, there are dangers involved in rapid economic growth which can all too easily bypass ethical considerations, with the result that the poorer elements in society tend to be excluded from their rightful share of the nation’s prosperity. The financial crisis of recent years has exacerbated the problem, but it has also focused attention on the need to renew the ethical foundations of all economic and political activity. I wish to encourage your Government in its commitment to ensure that social justice and care for the common good grow side by side with material prosperity, and I assure you that the Catholic Church in Korea is ready and willing to work with the Government as it seeks to promote these worthy goals.

Indeed, the commitment of the local Church to work for the good of society is well illustrated by the great variety of apostolates in which it is engaged. By means of its network of schools and its educational programmes it contributes greatly to the moral and spiritual formation of the young. Through its work for interreligious dialogue it seeks to break down barriers between peoples and to foster social cohesion based on mutual respect and growth in understanding. In its charitable outreach it seeks to assist the poor and the needy, particularly refugees and migrant workers who so often find themselves on the margins of society. In all these ways, the local Church helps to nurture and promote the values of solidarity and fraternity that are essential for the common good of any human community, and I acknowledge with gratitude the appreciation shown by the Government for the Church’s involvement in all these areas.

Furthermore, the Church “has a public role over and above her charitable and educational activities” (Caritas in Veritate ). It is a role that involves proclaiming the truths of the Gospel, which continually challenge us to look beyond the narrow pragmatism and partisan interests that can so often condition political choices, and to recognize the obligations incumbent upon us in view of the dignity of the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. This requires of us an unambiguous commitment to defend human life at every stage from conception to natural death, to promote stable family life in accordance with the norms of the natural law and to build peace and justice wherever there is conflict. The importance that your Government attaches to our diplomatic relations demonstrates its recognition of the Church’s prophetic role in these areas, and I thank you for the willingness you have expressed, on behalf of the Government, to continue to work with the Holy See in order to promote the common good of society.

In this context I should like to express the Holy See’s appreciation for the active role played by the Republic of Korea within the international community. By promoting the peace and stability of the peninsula, as well as the security and economic integration of nations throughout the Asia-Pacific region, through its extensive diplomatic links with African countries, and especially by hosting next month’s G20 Summit in Seoul, your Government has given ample proof of its role as an important player on the world stage, and has helped to guarantee that the process of globalization will be directed by considerations of solidarity and fraternity. Under “the guidance of charity in truth”, the Holy See is eager to cooperate with all efforts to steer the powerful forces that shape the lives of millions towards that “‘civilization of love’ whose seed God has planted in every people, in every culture” (Caritas in Veritate ).

Your Excellency, you have spoken of the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity that took place in Seoul in early September under the auspices of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. I too see in this important event a clear sign of the fruitful cooperation that already exists between your country and the Holy See and that bodes well for the future of our relations. It was only right that the Congress’s focus was on the lay faithful who, as you have pointed out, not only sowed the first seeds of the Gospel on Korean soil but bore witness in great numbers to their firm faith in Christ through the shedding of their blood. I am confident that, inspired and strengthened by the witness of the Korean martyrs, lay men and women will continue to build up the life and well-being of the nation through “their loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, their willingness to forgive their enemies and persecutors, their example of justice, truthfulness and solidarity in the workplace, and their presence in public life” (Message on the occasion of the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity, Seoul 2010).

Your Excellency, in offering my best wishes for the success of your mission, I would like to assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are ready to provide help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon Your Excellency, your family and all the people of the Republic of Korea, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.


Thursday, 21 October 2010
Mr Ambassador,

I am glad to welcome you this morning at the time when you are presenting the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Romania to the Holy See. I thank you for your cordial words to me. In my turn I would be grateful if you would kindly convey my warm good wishes to H.E. Mr Traian Basescu, President of Romania, for his own and the Romanian Peoples' happiness and peace. Through you, I also greet the Government and all the Authorities of your country. Likewise, I wish to extend a brotherly greeting to H.B. Daniel, Patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Romania.

Twenty years ago Romania decided to write a new page of its history. However, so many years lived under the yoke of a totalitarian ideology have deeply affected the attitude of individuals in political and economic life. After the period of the euphoria of freedom, your nation undertook with determination a process of rebuilding and healing. Its entry into the European Union was thus an important milestone in the effort to achieve an authentic democracy.

To pursue this renewal in depth, a number of new challenges need to be met in order to prevent your society from being based solely on the search for well-being and the lure of profit—understandable consequences of a period of more than 40 years of deprivation. Naturally, it is only right that integrity, honesty and rectitude should prevail in the first place. These virtues must inspire and motivate all the members of society for a good management. In guiding the citizens, they effectively will contribute to regenerating the political, economic and social fabric in the increasingly complex contemporary world.

Romania is a mosaic of peoples. This variety could be regarded as an obstacle to national unity but it may also be seen as enriching the country’s identity, of which it is a feature. It is therefore right to ensure that each individual has a legitimate place in society, going beyond this variety while also respecting it. Dealing with the heritage left by Communism is difficult because of the disintegration of society and of the individual, which it fostered. The authentic values, in fact, were overshadowed to the advantage of false theories that were idolized for reasons of State.

Today, therefore, it is a question of engaging in the difficult task of the just ordering of human affairs by making good use of freedom. True freedom implies the search for truth and goodness and it is achieved, precisely, by knowing and doing what is appropriate and right. In this process of rebuilding social links, the family has pride of place. Every effort must be made to enable it to carry out its basic function in society. With the family, it is important to set in place an educational system that encourages the young generations, giving them a formation to which they are entitled while respecting and nurturing their ability to transcend the limits within which people sometimes wish to constrain them.

In the presence of great ideals, young people will aspire to moral virtue with an open considerate outlook for others through compassion and goodness. The family and education are the starting point in order to fight poverty. They also contribute to respect for each person, to respect for minorities, to respect for the family and for life itself. They are the soil in which the fundamental ethical values are rooted and in which religious life can develop.

Mr Ambassador, Romania has a long and rich religious tradition that has also been wounded by the dark decades and some of these wounds are still open. They consequently ask to be healed by means that are acceptable to each one of the communities. It is in fact right to make reparation for the injustices inherited from the past without being afraid to do justice. For this reason it would be right to encourage a process that can take place at two levels: at a State level, in other words by encouraging an authentic dialogue between the State and the different religious leaders, and, second by encouraging harmonious relations between the different religious communities of your country.

I acknowledge the successive Governments achievement in establishing relations between the Catholic Church and Romania. I mention with pleasure, among others, the resumption of our reciprocal relations whose 20th anniversary we are celebrating. I likewise took note of the new Law of Cults that you mentioned in your address. There is also a body for encounter, the Joint Commission established in 1998, whose work it would be appropriate to reactivate.

For her part, the Catholic Church wishes to continue making a specific contribution to your nation, both by pursuing the construction of Romanian society and in the desired dialogue with all the non-Catholic Christian communities. In this regard, she sees ecumenical dialogue as a privileged path for meeting her brothers and sisters in the faith and for building God’s Kingdom with them, while respecting the specificity of each one.

The witness of brotherhood between Catholics and Orthodox, in a spirit of charity and justice, must prevail over the difficulties and must open hearts to reconciliation. In this area, the numerous fruits resulting from the historic visit that Pope John Paul II made about 10 years ago, the first to a nation with an Orthodox majority, should strengthen the commitment to dialogue in charity and truth, and the promotion of joint initiatives.

Such a constructive dialogue will not fail to serve as a leaven of unity and concord, not only for your country but also for the whole of Europe. On this happy occasion, I would also like to greet warmly the Bishops and faithful of the Catholic Church in Romania.

At the time when your mission is beginning, I offer you, Mr Ambassador, my best wishes for the noble task that awaits you, as I assure you that you will always find with my collaborators an attentive welcome and cordial understanding.

I wholeheartedly invoke upon you, Your Excellency, upon your family and upon your collaborators, upon all the Romanian People and upon its leaders, an abundance of God’s Blessings.


Signor Ambasciatore,

Sono lieto di ricevere dalle sue mani le Lettere che l'accreditano come Ambasciatore Straordinario e Plenipotenziario della Repubblica dell'Ecuador presso la Santa Sede, e, nel porgerle il più cordiale benvenuto, le chiedo di accogliere le espressioni del mio affetto per tutti i figli di questa amata Nazione. La ringrazio anche per le gentili parole che mi ha rivolto da parte del Signor Presidente Costituzionale della Repubblica, l'Economista Rafael Correa Delgado, che contraccambio con piacere, e allo stesso tempo le chiedo di trasmettergli i miei più ferventi voti di pace e di benessere per la sua persona e per il nobile popolo dell'Ecuador.

Nella sua patria, che ho avuto la gioia di visitare nel 1978, come Inviato Straordinario del mio venerato Predecessore, Papa Giovanni Paolo I, al III Congresso Mariano Nazionale dell'Ecuador, la Parola di Dio è stata seminata con generosità ed è splendidamente fiorita. In essa sono state raggiunte vette di santità illustri, che si sommano ad altre non tanto note, ma non per questo meno significative, che sono suggello di gloria per questa amata Repubblica e allo stesso tempo evidenziano quanti benefici la fede cattolica può apportare alla promozione di tutte quelle iniziative che nobilitano la persona e perfezionano la società. Questo è stato la meta a cui ha aspirato e aspira in ogni momento la Chiesa nel suo Paese. Essa, nel compimento della sua missione specifica, non ricerca alcun privilegio; vuole solo incrementare tutto ciò che può contribuire allo sviluppo integrale delle persone. In tal senso, la comunità ecclesiale, che ha visto la sua gioia moltiplicata con la recente erezione canonica della Diocesi di San Jacinto de Yaguachi, gioisce anche quando vede favorita la concordia sociale e a tal fine asseconda lo sforzo che le Autorità ecuadoriane stanno compiendo da diversi anni per riscoprire le fondamenta della stessa convivenza democratica, rafforzare lo stato di diritto e dare nuovo impulso alla solidarietà e alla fratellanza. Chiedo all'Altissimo che questo luminoso orizzonte di speranza si dilati sempre più con nuovi progetti e decisioni appropriate, di modo che il bene comune prevalga sugli interessi di partito e di classe, l'imperativo etico sia il punto di riferimento obbligatorio di ogni cittadino, la ricchezza sia equamente distribuita e i sacrifici si condividano in modo eguale e non gravino solo sui più bisognosi.

La sua presenza, Eccellenza, in questo solenne atto mi permette di rivolgere il mio pensiero alla sua Patria, che il Creatore ha dotato di formidabili risorse naturali, con un suolo fertile e solcato da un'incomparabile alternanza di mesete andine, candide vette e fiumi maestosi, che devono esser preservati con impegno e probità, poiché sono riflesso dell'amore e della grandezza di Dio. Questa filigrana di rare bellezze paesaggistiche è conforme alla serie di qualità che contraddistinguono gli ecuadoriani, gente ospitale e operosa, che riconosce che non c'è progresso giusto né bene comune universale senza il bene spirituale e morale delle persone, considerate nella loro totalità di anima e corpo. Senza questo requisito irrinunciabile, la vita pubblica si debilita nelle sue motivazioni e "i diritti umani rischiano di non essere rispettati o perché vengono privati del loro fondamento trascendente o perché non viene riconosciuta la libertà personale" (Caritas in veritate ). Tali valori fondamentali sono profondamente radicati nella verità dell'essere umano che, creato a immagine e somiglianza di Dio, costituisce di per sé il limite di ogni potere politico e, allo stesso tempo, la ragione del suo servizio. A tale proposito la storia insegna che ignorare o distorcere questa verità sull'uomo conduce spesso a ingiustizie e a totalitarismi. Invece quando lo Stato si dota degli strumenti legislativi e giuridici adeguanti affinché essa venga generosamente salvaguardata e favorita, il regime di libertà e di autentica partecipazione civile si consolida, il tessuto sociale si fortifica e l'assistenza ai più bisognosi si rafforza.

Signor Ambasciatore, se nel passato della sua amata Nazione, tanto vicina al cuore del Papa, ci sono stati momenti di difficoltà e di apprensione, non sono state minori le virtù umane e cristiane del suo popolo, come pure gli aneliti di superamento, con sacrifici che evocano proficui insegnamenti, la cui ulteriore cura è affidata agli uomini di oggi, in vista della proiezione di un futuro sereno e lusinghiero. Le Autorità ecuadoriane presteranno un gran servizio al Paese se accresceranno questo insigne patrimonio umano e spirituale, dal quale si potranno trarre energie e ispirazione per continuare a costruire le colonne portanti di ogni comunità umana che si pregia di tale nome, come la difesa della vita dal suo concepimento fino al suo termine naturale, la libertà religiosa, la libera espressione del pensiero, e anche le altre libertà civili, costituendo queste ultime l'autentica condizione per una reale giustizia sociale. Questa, a sua volta, si potrà affermare solo a partire dal sostegno e dalla tutela, anche in termini giuridici ed economici, della cellula primaria della società, che non è altro che la famiglia basata sull'unione matrimoniale fra un uomo e una donna. Di fondamentale importanza saranno pure quei programmi destinati a sradicare la disoccupazione, la violenza, l'impunità, l'analfabetismo e la corruzione. Nel conseguimento di questi lodevoli obiettivi, i Pastori della Chiesa sono consapevoli di non dover intervenire nel dibattito politico, proponendo soluzioni concrete o imponendo il proprio comportamento. Ma non possono e non devono neppure restare neutrali dinanzi ai grandi problemi o alle aspirazioni dell'essere umano, né essere indolenti al momento di lottare per la giustizia. Con il dovuto rispetto per la pluralità di opzioni legittime, il loro ruolo consiste piuttosto nell'illuminare con il Vangelo e con la Dottrina sociale della Chiesa le menti e le volontà dei fedeli, affinché scelgano con responsabilità le decisioni volte all'edificazione di una società più armoniosa e ordinata.

Eccellenza, una delle grandi mete che i suoi concittadini si sono proposti è quella di ottenere un'ampia riforma del sistema educativo, dal livello primario a quello universitario. La Chiesa in Ecuador ha una feconda storia nell'area dell'istruzione dei bambini e dei giovani, avendo esercitato la sua opera docente con particolare dedizione in regioni lontane, isolate e povere della Nazione. È giusto non ignorare questo arduo compito ecclesiale, esempio di sana collaborazione con lo Stato. Anzi, la comunità cristiana desidera continuare a porre la sua vasta esperienza in questo campo al servizio di tutti. Perciò è pronta a collaborare all'elevazione del livello culturale, che costituisce una sfida prioritaria per il retto progresso umano, il che esige allo stesso tempo quella libertà senza la quale l'educazione smetterebbe di essere tale. In effetti, l'identità più profonda della scuola e dell'università non si esaurisce nella mera trasmissione di dati e d'informazioni utili, ma risponde alla volontà di infondere negli studenti l'amore per la verità, affinché li conduca verso quella maturità personale con cui dovranno esercitare il loro ruolo di protagonisti dello sviluppo sociale, economico e culturale del Paese. Nell'accettare questa sfida, l'Autorità pubblica deve garantire il diritto che corrisponde ai genitori sia di formare i figli secondo le loro convinzioni religiose e i loro criteri etici, sia di fondare e sostenere istituzioni scolastiche. In questa prospettiva è anche importante che l'Autorità pubblica rispetti l'identità specifica e l'autonomia delle istituzioni educative e dell'università cattolica, in sintonia con il modus vivendi, sottoscritto più di settant'anni fa fra la Repubblica dell'Ecuador e la Santa Sede. D'altro canto, in virtù dei loro diritti educativi, i genitori devono poter contare sul fatto che la libertà di educazione venga promossa anche nelle istituzioni scolastiche statali, dove la legislazione continuerà a garantire l'insegnamento religioso scolastico in un curriculum corrispondente ai fini propri della scuola in quanto tale.

Signor Ambasciatore, nel concludere questo incontro che dà inizio alla sua missione di rafforzare ancora di più le già feconde relazioni fra la Repubblica dell'Ecuador e la Santa Sede, affido lei, la sua distinta famiglia e il personale di questa Missione Diplomatica all'amorevole intercessione di Maria Santissima, nel suo titolo di Nuestra Señora de la Presentación del Quinche, celeste Patrona dell'Ecuador. Supplico la Madre di Dio di accompagnare tutti i figli di questa bella terra, affinché si ravvivi in essi il pensiero del loro egregio concittadino, il dottor Eugenio de Santacruz y Espejo, che nei giorni dell'indipendenza della Nazione, duecento anni fa, esortava tutti gli ecuadoriani a essere liberi al riparo della Croce. Con questi sentimenti, imploro da Colui che fu inchiodato ad essa di proteggere e benedire tutti i suoi concittadini.


Friday, 22 October 2010

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to receive from your hands the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Ecuador to the Holy See. In offering you a most cordial welcome, I ask you kindly to pass on the expression of my affection to all the children of this beloved nation. I also thank you for the kind words you have conveyed to me from the Constitutional President of the Republic, the economist H.E. Mr Rafael Correa Delgado, which I reciprocate with pleasure. At the same time I ask you to express my most fervent good wishes for peace and well-being, for himself and for the noble People of Ecuador.

In your country, which I had the joy of visiting in 1978 as Special Envoy of my Venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II to Ecuador’s Third National Marian Congress, the word of Christ was generously scattered and has flourished splendidly. Peaks of outstanding holiness were reached in it, in addition to others that are less well known, though no less meaningful, that are the seal of glory for this beloved Republic. At the same time they highlight all the benefits that Catholic faith can bring to the promotion of all those initiatives that ennoble the person and perfect society.

This was the goal to which the Church in your country aspired and aspires at every moment. In carrying out her special mission the Church seeks no privileges but only wishes to foster all that can contribute to the person’s integral development.

In this regard, the ecclesial community, which has seen its joy redoubled with the recent canonical establishment of the Diocese of St Jacinto de Yaguachi, also rejoices to see social harmony encouraged. To this end it supports the efforts that the Ecuadorian Authorities have been making in recent years to rediscover the foundations of democratic coexistence to reinforce the State of rights and give a fresh impetus to solidarity and brotherhood.

I ask the Most High to extend this luminous horizon of hope to include many new projects and to obtain that appropriate decisions for the common good prevail over party or class interests. May the ethical imperative be the obligatory reference point of every citizen, may riches be fairly distributed and hardships equally shared, so as not to burden only the neediest.

Your presence, Your Excellency, at this solemn ceremony enables me to address my thoughts to your Homeland which the Creator has endowed with formidable natural resources. It has fertile soil, marked by an incomparable alternation of the plateaux of the Andes, snowy peaks and majestic rivers, all of which must be preserved with commitment and probity, since they are reflections of the love and grandeur of God.

This filigree of unusually beautiful scenery is in conformity with the series of qualities that distinguish Ecuadorians, a hospitable and hard-working people that recognizes that there is no just progress or common universal good without the spiritual and moral good of the person, seen in the totality of his soul and body.

Without this indispensable prerequisite the motivations of public life are debilitated and “human rights risk being ignored either because they are robbed of their transcendent foundation or because personal freedom is not acknowledged” (Caritas in Veritate ).

These fundamental values are deeply rooted in the truth of the human being who, created in the image and likeness of God, constitutes in himself the limit of all political power and, at the same time, motivates his service.

In this regard history teaches that disregarding or distorting this truth about the human being often leads to injustices and forms of totalitarianism. When the State is equipped with adequate legislative and juridical instruments so that it may be generously safeguarded and favoured, the regime of freedom and authentic civil participation is consolidated, the social fabric is strengthened and help for the most deprived people is reinforced.

Mr Ambassador, although there have been times of difficulty and anxiety in the past of your beloved nation, so dear to the Pope's heart, they have not diminished the human and Christian virtues of your people. Nor have they diminished the desire to overcome them with sacrifices that recall useful teachings whose ongoing care is entrusted to the people of today with a view to planning a serene and encouraging future.

The Ecuadorian Authorities will render an important service to the country if they increase this outstanding human and spiritual heritage. In it can be found the energy and inspiration to continue to build the pillars of every human community worthy of this name.

These pillars include the defence of life from its conception to its natural end, religious freedom, the free expression of thought, and also the other civil freedoms. The latter constitute the authentic condition for real social justice. This, in turn, can only be affirmed on the basis of the support and protection, in both juridical and economic terms, of the primary cell of society: which is nothing other than the family based on the matrimonial union of a man and a woman.

Programmes intended to uproot unemployment, violence, impunity, illiteracy, and corruption will also be of fundamental importance. In achieving these praiseworthy goals, the Church's Pastors are aware that they must not intervene in the political debate by proposing practical solutions or imposing their own conduct.

Yet they cannot and must not remain neutral in the face of the great problems or aspirations of the human being. Nor must they be inactive when the time comes to fight for justice. Rather, with due respect for the plurality of legitimate options their role consists in illuminating the minds and wills of the faithful with the Gospel and with the Church's social teaching. Thus they will make responsible decisions for building a more harmonious and well-ordered society.

Your Excellency, one of the important goals established by your fellow-citizens is to obtain an extensive reform of the educational system, from the primary to the university levels.

The Church in Ecuador has a fruitful history in the area of the instruction of children and young people, having carried out her teaching role with special dedication in the Nation's remote, isolated and poor regions. It is right not to overlook this arduous ecclesial labour, an example of healthy collaboration with the State.

Indeed, the Christian community wishes to continue to place at the service of all its vast experience in this field. It is therefore prepared to collaborate in raising the standard of culture, which is a priority challenge for upright human progress. At the same time this requires freedom. Without it education would stop being such. In fact, the deepest identity of school and university does not consist in the mere transmission of useful data and information but responds to the desire to instil in students a love for the truth so that it may lead them toward that personal maturity with which they must exercise their role as protagonists of the country’s social, economic and cultural development.

In accepting this challenge, the public Authorities must guarantee the right of parents to raise their children in accordance with their religious convictions and ethical criteria and to found and support scholastic institutions. In this perspective it is also important that the public Authorities respect the specific identity and autonomy of the educational institutions and of the Catholic university, in harmony with the modus vivendi signed more than 70 years ago by the Republic of Ecuador and the Holy See.

On the other hand, by virtue of their educational rights, parents must be able to rely on the fact that freedom of education is also promoted in the scholastic institutions of the State, in which legislation will continue to guarantee religious teaching at school in a curriculum that corresponds with the aims proper to take the school as such.

Mr Ambassador, in concluding this Meeting which begins your mission to strengthen further the already fruitful relations between the Republic of Ecuador and the Holy See, I entrust you, your distinguished family and the staff of this Diplomatic Mission to the loving intercession of Mary Most Holy, under her title of Our Lady of the Presentation of Quinche, the heavenly Patroness of Ecuador.

I implore the Mother of God to accompany all the children of this beautiful land so that they may remember Dr Eugenio de Santacruz y Espejo, their distinguished fellow citizen who, on Independence Day 200 years ago, urged all Ecuadorians to be free and to seek refuge in the Cross. With these sentiments, I implore the One who was nailed to it to protect and bless all your fellow citizens.


Friday, 22 October 2010

Your Excellency,

It is a real pleasure to receive you at the moment when you are presenting the Letters accrediting you to the Apostolic See as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Slovenia. I would like to express my appreciation of the deferential testimony of the Civil Authorities and of your compatriots' sentiments of affection for the Successor of Peter which you have interpreted. Kindly convey my greetings to H.E. Dr Danilo Türk, President of the Republic of Slovenia, as well as to the other members of the Government. I would like to assure every one of your fellow-countrymen of my affection and my closeness.

Among the fundamental presuppositions of the entry of the Slovenian nation into the European Union, which has taken place ever more naturally in these years, are the common Christian roots of “the Old Continent”. We are particularly indebted to Sts Cyril and Methodius, unflagging and zealous missionaries in the central regions of Europe, for the proclamation of the Gospel and the rooting of Christianity in the soul of the Slav peoples. So it was that Slovenia's anchorage in the Gospel values, which always reinforce a nation's identity and enrich its culture, made an important contribution to the country's cohesion and fostered feelings of friendship with other nations on that part of the continent.

On looking at the history of the Slovene People the stamp of moral values and the spirituality of Christianity stand out. In fact, the earliest evidence of the Slovenian language and literature are manuscripts of prayers and of other religious texts; but I am also thinking of the beautiful churches and chapels present in territory. Even in the most difficult and painful moments, this patrimony, a perpetual source of consolation and hope, sustained Slovenia on its way to Independence after the fall of the Communist régime.

In that period the Holy See wanted to be especially close to the Slovenian nation. Madam Ambassador, you emphasized that the relations between the Republic of Slovenia and the Holy See have been good from the beginning and continue to be so today. I hope, therefore, that in this context a solution may be found to all the problems left unresolved by the Accord signed on the 14 December 2001.

In exercising democratic prerogatives, Slovenia has obtained a certain economic well-being which has permitted the consolidation of a peaceful civil and social coexistence. I noticed with pleasure the recent approval of a law regarding the issue of the so-called “erased”, who in many cases found themselves in very difficult situations. This is an important step forward in the attempt to find a solution to the cases of all those who have lost their right to residence, to work and to health care. I encourage you to continue in this direction and I hope that efforts will be made to alleviate their suffering.

As you, Your Excellency, underlined just now, the commitment to promote the good of the human being unites the action of the Holy See and of the Republic of Slovenia. You rightly alluded to the active presence of the Holy See at the international level and to its persevering work for the recognition of the fundamental dignity and freedoms of every human being, as well as safeguarding the right of every people to live in peace. For this reason the Apostolic See encourages the initiatives adopted in international circles to promote peace and justice, to overcome disagreements and to intensify constructive relations. In this regard, I am pleased to acknowledge as a positive move Slovenia's recent entry into the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, an important testimony to its openness and desire to collaborate with other nations. This intention to dedicate itself to issues concerning the international community and to global challenges is laudable. In international, as in interpersonal, relations it is of fundamental importance to fulfil the commitments assumed: pacta sunt servanda. It is my sincere wish that the Republic of Slovenia may make its own contribution in the international forums, as well as through a sound collaboration with the Holy See.

The specific mission of the Catholic Church which she carries out in the land of Slovenia, as in every part of the world, is to proclaim the Gospel and to carry to every man and woman the salvation which comes from the Lord Jesus. A sign of the vitality of the Church in Slovenia was the recently celebrated National Eucharistic Congress which saw a great number of the faithful gathered in Celje with their Bishops. The culminating moment of this event, at which my Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, presided was the Beatification of the young Lojze Grozde, martyred in hatred of the Faith during a difficult period in the country's history.

The numerous pastoral and charitable projects introduced into the various social contexts: schools, hospitals, prisons, the armed forces and other institutions are a further demonstration of the vitality of the Ecclesial Community in Slovenia. I take this opportunity to address a warm greeting to all the Catholics in your country. Through various initiatives they commit themselves to helping everyone to deepen the spiritual meaning of life and they want to contribute to building an increasingly just and stable society with respect for the convictions and the religious practices of each member.

Your Excellency, the Holy See desires to intensify the fruitful collaboration with the Slovenian Authorities; in observing the respective duties and goals, it wishes to continue to pursue the shared commitment for the true good of every person and of society. As you begin your mission of representing the Republic of Slovenia to the Holy See, I offer you my best wishes. In the exercise of your office, be assured that you will always find in my collaborators the attentive support and cordial understanding that you may need.

Upon you, Madam Ambassador, upon the Slovenian people, and upon its leaders, I warmly invoke abundant Blessings.


Friday, 22 October 2010

Mr Ambassador,

I gladly take this opportunity of the presentation of the Letters of Credence with which today you are officially appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Portugal to the Holy See, to welcome you. As I congratulate you on your appointment, I express my best wishes to you for your new mission that intends to make a new contribution to building up the friendly relations that already exist between your country and this Apostolic See.

As you recalled in your greeting, faith and history have united to forge a special bond between the Portuguese People and the Successor of Peter, a bond that is entrusted to the responsibility of each successive generation and for which we must never cease to thank Christ, the Good Shepherd of his Church and the Lord of history, of individual people and of nations.

The expression of the noble sentiments that enliven you on this day, which is certainly very important, deserves my full attention. I would like first of all to express my gratitude for the words you have addressed to me and then to reciprocate the sentiments of esteem that H.E. Mr Aníbal Cavaco Silva, President of the Republic, has conveyed to me through you, Your Excellency. I ask you in turn to be kind enough to convey to the President my gratitude for them, together with my encouragement and good wishes for his lofty mission. Please assure him of my prayers to the Most High for the prosperity and spiritual good of all the Portuguese.

While I was preparing for this Meeting with you, Mr Ambassador, the edifying and happy memories that I cherish in my heart of my Visit to Portugal last May sprang to mind. I would like once again to thank everyone for their contribution to the serenity and fruitfulness of this Visit which had a far-reaching effect, as is testified by the innumerable messages sent to me alluding to those unforgettable days.

I shall never forget the warm welcome I was given nor the kind and respectful way in which my words were received. I consider that all this is also of social importance of wherever society increases and people are strengthened in goodness thanks to the message of faith, social coexistence also benefits and citizens feel readier to serve the common good.

With its presence in the international forum the Holy See focuses all its efforts on serving the cause of the integral promotion of man and of peoples. Everyone must be convinced that the obstacles to this promotion are not only economic but also depend on deeper attitudes and values: the moral and spiritual values that determine the behaviour of every human being, to himself, to others and to the whole of creation. Your presence here, Mr Ambassador, testifies to Portugal's desire to give an important place to these values without which a society cannot be firmly established.

When the Church in your country furthers the awareness that these same values must inspire both public and private life, she does not do so out of political ambition but rather in order to be faithful to the mission that her divine Founder has entrusted to her. Since by her nature and mission the Church, as the Second Vatican Council says, “is universal in that she is not committed to any one culture or to any political, economic or social system. Hence she can be a very close bond between the various communities of men and nations, provided they have trust in the Church and guarantee her true freedom to carry out her mission” (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World Gaudium et Spes GS 42).

She does not represent partial or temporary models of society but endeavours to transform hearts and minds so that men and women may rediscover and recognize themselves in the full truth of their humanity.

Given that the Church's mission is a moral and religious one the Church respects the State's specific area of competence. At the same time she encourages Christians to assume their civic responsibilities fully so that, with the other citizens, they may contribute effectively to the common good and to the great human causes.

Respectful collaboration and loyal understanding between the Church and the civil authority cannot but benefit Portuguese society.

Motivated by this hope, the new Concordat between the Holy See and Portugal which you recalled Mr Ambassador, was signed six years ago [18 May 2004]. On that occasion Pope John Paul II saw this juridical instrument as a confirmation of the “reciprocal sentiments of respect that mark the relations between the Holy See and Portugal”, and expressed the hope that the new Concordat might “encourage ever better understanding between the State Authorities and the Pastors of the Church for the common good of the Nation”.

Mr Ambassador, I listened with joy to your aspiration to encourage the efforts being made for the full and faithful application of the Concordat in the various contexts of the Catholic Church and of Portuguese society.

Before concluding this Meeting, I wish to assure you, Mr Ambassador, of the full collaboration and support of the Holy See as you carry out the lofty mission that has been entrusted to you. Through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima I ask the good Lord of Heaven to assist with an abundance of his gifts to you, Your Excellency, your distinguished family, all who serve the common good of the Portuguese Nation and all its people, to whom I impart my Blessing.

Speeches 2005-13 381