Speeches 2005-13 395
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to offer you all my cordial greeting. I address a grateful thought to Hon. Mr Franco Frattini, Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Italian State, who has wished to take part in this Audience since he himself belongs to the large group of ski instructors. I thank him for his courteous words on behalf of all. On this occasion, I also express my deep gratitude for his efforts to have Italy welcome straight away numerous Catholics who were recently injured in Baghdad. Thank you.
Your presence prompts me to make two brief reflections on the value of sports and the natural environment. Sports are one of the means that contribute to the person’s harmonious development and to his moral perfection (cf. Second Vatican Council, Gravissimum Educationis ). Your duty as “ski instructors” helps to stimulate various capacities, for example, for persistence in pursuing goals, for respecting rules and for tenacity in confronting and surmounting difficulties. Practised ethically and with passion, sports become a training ground for learning and developing human and Christian values, as well as for practising a healthy spirit of competition. In fact, they teach the harmonization of important dimensions of the human being, favouring their integral development. Through sports, a person understands better that his body cannot be considered an object; rather, through corporeity, he expresses himself and enters into relationships with others. In this way, the balance between the physical and spiritual dimensions does not bring us to idolize the body, but rather to respect it and not to let it become an instrument to be strengthened at all costs, possibly even by resorting to illegal methods.
The other aspect I would like to mention is suggested by the fact that skiing is done in a mountain environment. This makes us feel small in a special way and restores for us the right dimensions of our being creatures. It enables us to ask ourselves about the meaning of creation and to look up on high and open ourselves to the Creator.
I think of how often, in climbing a mountain in order to ski down it or in cross-country skiing, breathtaking views unfolded; they uplift the mind and spontaneously invite us not only to raise our outer gaze but also the gaze of the heart.
In contemplating creation, man recognizes the greatness of God, the ultimate source of his being and of the universe. We should not forget that the relationship with creation is an important element for the development of the human identity and not even the sin of man has eliminated his duty to be a guardian of the world.
Sports can also be conceived and lived as a part of this responsibility. Progress in the fields of science and technology give human beings the possibility to meddle with and manipulate nature, but the risk that always lies in wait is the desire to replace the Creator and reduce creation to a product to be used and consumed.
What, instead, is the right approach? Surely it consists in a profound sense of gratitude and recognition, but also of responsibility for tilling and keeping the work of God (cf . Gen Gn 2,15). Sports are a help in pursuing certain goals since they affect one's lifestyle itself which they orient to balance, self-discipline and respect. For you, then, in particular, contact with nature is a reason for cultivating a profound love for God’s creation.
In the light of these reflections, your role appears important for a healthy training in sports and an education in respect for the environment. This is not, therefore, a duty to carry out on one’s own, but rather in agreement with families — especially when your students are minors — and in collaboration with school and other educational institutions. Your example as lay faithful is also important in the context of sports, which can give the right centrality to moments fundamental to the life of faith and, especially, to the sanctification of Sunday as the Lord’s Day.
Dear friends, I thank you for your cordial visit and as I wish you all the best in your professional and sports activities, I assure you of my prayers and I cordially bless you, your relatives and your students.
Clementine Hall Thursday, 18 November 2010
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It gives me great joy to meet you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during which you are reflecting on the theme: “Towards a new stage in the ecumenical dialogue”, In addressing my cordial greeting to each one of you, I also wish to thank in particular your President, Archbishop Kurt Koch for his warm words expressing your sentiments.
Yesterday, as Archbishop Koch mentioned, you celebrated with a solemn commemorative Act the 50th anniversary of your Dicastery. On 5 June 1960, on the eve of the Second Vatican Council which identified ecumenical commitment as central for the Church, Bl. John XXIII created the Secretariat for Promoting Christian Unity which in 1988 was given the name of “Pontifical Council”. This Act was a milestone on the ecumenical journey of the Catholic Church. In the course of 50 years great headway has been made.
I would like to express deep gratitude to all those who have devoted their service to the Pontifical Council, recalling first of all the successive Presidents: Cardinal Agostino Bea, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy; and I am particularly pleased to thank Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has led the Dicastery in the past 11 years with competence and enthusiasm. I thank the members and consultors, officials and collaborators, those who have contributed to bringing about the theological dialogues and ecumenical meetings and all those who have prayed the Lord for the gift of visible unity among Christians.
These are 50 years in which a true knowledge and greater esteem has been acquired with the Churches and Ecclesial Communities, overcoming prejudices crystallized by history: we have grown in theological dialogue and in the dialogue of charity; various forms of collaboration have developed, among which, in addition to those for defending life, for safeguarding creation and for combating injustice, collaboration in the field of ecumenical translations of Sacred Scripture has been important and fruitful.
In recent years, then, the Pontifical Council has been involved, among other things in an extensive project, called the Harvest Project, in order to draw up a first estimate of the goals achieved in the theological dialogues with the principal Ecclesial Communities since the Second Vatican Council.
This is valuable work that has highlighted both the areas of convergence and those in which it is necessary to continue to deepen reflection.
As I thank God for the fruits already gathered, I encourage you to persevere in your commitment to promoting a correct assessment of the results achieved and to make known exactly the present state of the theological research at the service of the journey towards unity. Today some people think that this journey, especially in the West, has lost its impetus; therefore the urgent need to revive ecumenical interest and to give fresh purpose to the dialogues is felt.
Moreover we are presented with unheard of challenges: the new anthropological and ethical interpretations, the ecumenical formation of the new generations and the further fragmentation of the ecumenical scene. It is essential to become aware of these changes and to identify ways to proceed effectively in the light of the Lord’s desire: “that they may all be one” (Jn 17,21).
Also with the Orthodox Churches and the Ancient Churches of the East, the “closest intimacy” (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 15). The Catholic Church is eagerly continuing the dialogue, seeking seriously and rigorously to deepen the common theological, liturgical and spiritual patrimony in order to face with serenity and commitment the elements that still divide us. With the Orthodox she has reached a crucial point in comparison and reflection: the role of the Bishop of Rome in the Church’s communion. And the ecclesiological issue is also the centre of the dialogue with the Ancient Churches of the East: despite many centuries of misunderstanding and distance, it is joyfully noted that a precious common patrimony has been preserved.
Dear friends, even in the presence of problematic situations or difficult points for the dialogue, the goal of the ecumenical journey remains unchanged, as does the firm commitment to pursue it. However, it is not a commitment in accordance with political categories, so to speak, in which comes into play the ability to negotiate or the greatest skill in finding compromises through which we as good mediators might expect, after a certain time, to reach agreements acceptable to all. Ecumenical action has a dual movement.
On the one hand there is the convinced, passionate and tenacious search to find full unity in truth, to conceive of models of unity, to throw light on disagreement and obscure points in order to attain unity. And this takes place in the necessary theological dialogue but especially in prayer and penance, in that spiritual ecumenism which constitutes the vibrant heart of the whole journey: the unity of Christians is and remains prayer, it dwells in prayer.
On the other hand, there is another active movement that stems from the firm awareness that we do not know the time of the fulfillment of unity between all Christ’s disciples and we cannot know it, because it is not “we who can decide it”, God “decides” it. It comes from on high from the unity of the Father with the Son in the dialogue of love which is the Holy Spirit; it is a participation in the divine unity. And this must not diminish our commitment; indeed it must make us ever more attentive to understanding the signs and times of the Lord, knowing and recognizing with gratitude what already unites us and working to consolidate and increase it. In the end, also on the ecumenical journey it is a question of leaving to God what is his alone and of exploring, with seriousness, constancy and dedication, what is our duty, bearing in mind that the binomials of acting and suffering, of activity and patience, of effort and joy are part of our commitment.
Let us trustingly invoke the Holy Spirit so that he may guide us on our journey and that everyone may feel with fresh vigour the call to work for the ecumenical cause. I encourage all of you to continue in your work; it is help that you offer the Bishop of Rome in the fulfillment of his mission at the service of unity. As a sign of affection and gratitude, I warmly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
The feelings and emotions we experienced yesterday and the day before, on the occasion of the creation of 24 new Cardinals are still alive in our minds and hearts. They were moments of fervent prayer and profound communion, that we wish to extend today with our hearts filled with gratitude to the Lord who has granted us the joy to live a new page of the history of the Church. Therefore I am pleased to welcome you all today to this simple and family meeting and to address a cordial greeting to the new Cardinals, as well as to their relatives, friends and all those who have accompanied them on this solemn and momentous occasion
In Italian: I first greet you dear Italian Cardinals! I greet you, Cardinal Angelo Amato, Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints; I greet you, Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls; I greet you, Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, Major Penitentiary; I greet you, Cardinal Paolo Sardi, Vice-Camerlengo of Holy Roman Church; I greet you, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy; I greet you, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, President of the Prefecture for Economic Affairs of the Holy See; I greet you, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture; I greet you, Cardinal Paolo Romeo, Archbishop of Palermo; I greet you, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, formerly President of the Pontifical Academy for Life; I greet you Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, formerly Choir Master of the Sistine Chapel Choir.
Dear and Venerable Brothers, through you the Church in Italy is further enriching the College of Cardinals with pastoral wisdom and Apostolic enthusiasm. I gladly extend my cordial greeting to all those who share with you in the joy of this moment and I urge them to assure the support of their prayer, so that you may faithfully persevere in your respective duties for the benefit of the Gospel and of all Christian people.
In French: I address my cordial greeting to the new French-speaking Cardinals: Cardinal Antonios Naguib, Patriarch of Alexandria for Copts; Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”; Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa. I also greet joyfully their loved ones and all the people who have accompanied them during these days of celebration we have just experienced.
Dear friends, these celebrations call us to broaden our gaze to the dimensions of the universal Church. I invite you to pray for the new Cardinals so that in communion with the Successor of Peter they may work effectively for the unity and holiness of the entire People of God. And, may you yourselves be ardent witnesses of the Gospel to restore to the world the hope it needs and to contribute to re-establishing peace and brotherhood everywhere.
In English: I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking Prelates whom I had the joy of raising to the dignity of Cardinal in last Saturday’s Consistory. Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura; Cardinal Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, Archbishop emeritus of Lusaka, Zambia; Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, USA, and Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, Archbishop of Colombo, Sri Lanka.
I also welcome their family members and friends, and all the faithful who have accompanied them to Rome.
The College of Cardinals, whose origin is linked to the ancient clergy of the Roman Church, is charged with electing the Successor of Peter and advising him in matters of greater importance. Whether in the offices of the Roman Curia or in their ministry in the local Churches throughout the world, the Cardinals are called to share in a special way in the Pope’s solicitude for the universal Church. The vivid colour of their robes has traditionally been seen as a sign of their commitment to defending Christ’s flock even to the shedding of their blood. As the new Cardinals accept the burden of this office, I am confident that they will be supported by your constant prayers and your cooperation in their efforts to build up the Body of Christ in unity, holiness and peace.
In German: I address a special greeting in particular to the new German-speaking Cardinals. Beginning with Cardinal Kurt Koch, I cordially greet you, with all your relatives, friends and guests from Switzerland. I greet in particular the representatives of the Diocese of Basel, where Cardinal Koch worked as Bishop for many years, as well as the representatives of the Swiss Federal Council and of the Cantons. Join with him in prayer and sustain him in his important task for the universal Church and as collaborator of the Pope at the service of Christian unity.
With joy I also welcome Cardinal Reinhard Marx and his family, his guests and the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising. I also greet the Bishops, their collaborators in the various episcopal institutions, the representatives of political and public life and to all believers in the Diocese of Trier and his home diocese of Paderborn. Lastly, I cordially greet Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, his relatives and his friends from Rome, Augusburg and Bamberg. Dear friends, the Cardinals participate in a particular way in the concern of the Successor of Peter for the universal Church. The bright red of the Cardinals’ vestments is a sign, which highlights their duty to protect and defend Christ even to the most extreme consequences, including the gift of their blood.
Accompany them in the fulfillment of their duty with your prayers and your work for the Church.
In Spanish: I greet with affection the new Spanish-speaking Cardinals, accompanied by their relatives and by numerous Bishops, priests, religious and lay people who have come especially from Ecuador and Spain. The Church in Ecuador is rejoicing with Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, Archbishop emeritus of Quito, who with zeal and exemplary dedication also carried out his episcopal ministry in Guayaquil, Azogues, and as Military Ordinary. The pilgrim Church in Spain also congratulates Cardinal José Manuel Estepa Llaurens, Military Ordinary emeritus, Spain, whose service to drafting the Catechism of the Catholic Church was invaluable. I ask all of you to accompany with your prayers and spiritual closeness the new members of the College of Cardinals so that, motivated by intense love for Christ and united in close communion with the Successor of Peter, they may continue to serve the Church faithfully.
In Portuguese: I greet Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, surrounded by his friends who rejoice in seeing him more intimately associated with the Pope’s ministry. Your presence today reminds me of the times of deep joy and great ecclesial hope experienced in Aparecida, during my unforgettable Visit to Brazil, which, especially that day extended to the whole Continent of Latin America and of the Caribbean, reunited with its episcopate gathered there in communion of trust, hope and love, under the maternal gaze of Mary, and around to the Successor of Peter. Today with you, I reiterate my affectionate faith to the Cardinal, Archbishop of Aparecida, and I ask Our Lady to protect and assist you all, illuminating your path with hope, in union with your Pastor and friend to establish all things in Christ.
In Polish: I address greetings to Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and to his guests. The cardinalitial appointment obliges the care of not only the local Church, but also of the fate of the universal Church, as well as to the close collaboration with the Pope in the execution of the Petrine office. Thus I implore all the graces necessary for him and I ask all of you to pray ceaselessly for the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit — spirit of wisdom and counsel. God bless you all!
Dear and Venerable Brothers who have joined the College of Cardinals. I renew to each one of you my most cordial good wishes. Your ministry is enriched by a further commitment to supporting the Successor of Peter in his universal service to the Church. I put great trust in your prayers and in your precious help. With brotherly admiration, I encourage you all to continue on your spiritual and Apostolic mission which has experienced a very important step. Keep your gaze fixed on Christ, drawing on him for every grace and spiritual comfort; on the shining example of the holy Cardinals, intrepid servants of the Church who through in the course of the centuries has given glory to God with heroic practice of virtue and tenacious fidelity to the Gospel. I invoke upon you and upon all those present the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and of the martyr St Cecilia, whose Memorial we celebrate today. May the Patroness of music and bel canto accompany you and sustain your commitment to be attentive listeners to the various voices to deepen the unity of hearts.
With these sentiments, I impart with affection to you and to all those present a special Apostolic Blessing.
Private Audience with the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies
The reasons of faith in public debate
On Friday, 26 November, the Holy Father spoke to the journalists taking part in the Assembly of the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, whom he received in Audience in the Vatican’s Clementine Hall. The following is a translation of the Pope’s Address, which was given in Italian.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the Assembly of the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies. I extend my cordial greeting to Bishop Marian Crociata, Secretary of the Italian Episcopal Conference, to the Prelates and Priests present, and to Fr Giorgio Zucchelli, President of the Federation, whom I thank for his courteous words. I greet you all, editors and collaborators of the 188 Catholic newspapers represented in the Federation. I greet in particular the Director of the press agency SIR and the Editor of the daily, Avvenire.
I am grateful for this meeting, with which you express your fidelity to the Church and to her Magisterium: I also thank you for your continued support of the Peter’s Pence Collection, and of the charitable initiatives promoted and supported by the Holy See.
The Italian Federation of Catholic Journalists is made up of the diocesan weeklies and the various Catholic organs of the press of the whole Italian peninsular.
It was established in 1966 in response to the need to develop synergies and collaboration aimed at encouraging the precious task of popularizing the Church’s life, activity and teaching.
Channels of communication between the different local organs of the press scattered across Italy were created in order to respond to the need to encourage collaboration and to give a certain organic dimension to the various intellectual and creative potentials with the aim of increasing the efficacy and effectiveness of the proclamation of the Gospel message.
This is the specific role of newspapers of Catholic inspiration: to proclaim the Good News by covering current events in Christian communities and the real situations of which they are part.
Just as a small quantity of leaven, mixed with flour, causes the mass of dough to rise, so the Church, present in society, causes what is true, good and beautiful grow and mature.
It is your task to broadcast this presence which promotes and strengthens what is authentically human and brings to contemporary men and women the message of truth and hope of the Lord Jesus.
You know well that in the context of post-modernity in which we live, one of the most important cultural challenges is posed by the way of understanding truth. The prevalent culture, the most widespread in the areopagus of the media, adopts a sceptical and relativistic approach to the truth, measuring it with the same yardstick as that by which simple opinions are judged, and consequently deems many “truths” to be possible and legitimate at the same time.
Yet the desire that dwells in human hearts testifies to the impossibility of being satisfied with partial truths. This is why the “search looks towards an ulterior truth which would explain the meaning of life. And it is therefore a search which can reach its end only in reaching the absolute” (John Paul ii, Encyclical Fides et Ratio FR 33).
The truth for which the human person thirsts is a person: the Lord Jesus. It is in encountering this Truth, in knowing and loving it, that we find true peace and true happiness. The Church’s mission consists in creating the necessary conditions for this encounter of the human being with Christ.
By collaborating in this task, organs of information are called to serve truth courageously, to help public opinion to look at and interpret reality from an evangelical viewpoint. It is a matter of presenting the reasons for faith which, as such, go beyond any ideological vision and are fully entitled to citizenship in public debate.
From this need is born your constant commitment to give a voice to a viewpoint that respects Catholic thought in all ethical and social matters.
Dear friends, the importance of your presence is testified by the far-reaching distribution of the weeklies you represent.
This distribution passes through the means of printed paper which, precisely because of its simplicity, continues to be an effective sound box of all that happens in the different diocesan realities. I therefore urge you to continue in your service providing information about the events that mark the progress of the communities, their daily lives, and the many charitable and beneficial initiatives that they promote.
Continue to be papers for the people that seek to encourage authentic dialogue between the various members of society, training-grounds for comparison and loyal discussion between different opinions.
By so doing, while they carry out their important duty of informing, Catholic newspapers carry out at the same time an indispensable formative role, promoting an gospel understanding of the complex reality as well as educating critical and Christian consciences.
In this way you also are responding to the appeal of the Italian Episcopal Conference which has made the educational challenge, the need to give to the Christian people a solid and robust formation, the focus of its pastoral commitment in the coming decade.
Dear brothers and sisters, through the sacrament of Baptism every Christian becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit and, immersed in the death and Resurrection of the Lord, is consecrated to him and belongs to him.
In order to bring your important task to completion, you too must first of all cultivate a constant and profound bond with Christ; only profound communion with him will enable you to bring to our contemporaries the news of Salvation!
In hard work and dedication to your daily tasks, may you be able to witness to your faith, the great and freely given gift of the Christian vocation. Continue to remain in ecclesial communion with your Pastors, so as to cooperate with them as editors, writers and administrators of Catholic weeklies, in the Church’s evangelizing mission.
As I take my leave of you, I would like to assure you of my remembrance in suffrage for the late Mons. Franco Peradotto, who died recently. He was the first President of the Federation of Italian Catholic Weeklies and was editor of the Turin paper Voice of the People for many years.
As I entrust the Federation and your work to the heavenly intercession of the Virgin Mary and of St Francis de Sales, I warmly impart to you and to all your collaborators the Apostolic Blessing.
Dearest Brothers and Sisters,
I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the bi-annual Assembly of the Union of Superiors General which you are celebrating, in continuity with the meeting last May, on the theme of the consecrated life in Europe.
I greet the President, Fr Pascual Chávez, whom I thank for his words, as well as the Executive Council; a special greeting goes to the Directive Committee of the International Union of Superiors General and to the numerous Superiors General. I extend my thoughts to all your brothers and sisters scattered across the world and especially to those who are suffering for their witness to the Gospel.
I would like to express my deep thanks for all you do in and with the Church on behalf of evangelization and of the human being. I am thinking of the many pastoral activities in the parishes, shrines and centres of worship, of catechesis and of the Christian formation of children, young people and adults, in which you show your passion for Christ and for humanity.
I am thinking of your important work in the field of education, in the universities and schools, of the many social institutions through which you meet the needs of the most deprived brethren with God’s own love. I am thinking also of the witness, at times full of risk, of evangelical life in the mission ad gentes, in circumstances that are often difficult.
Your last two Assemblies were dedicated to reflecting on the future of the consecrated life in Europe. This has meant rethinking the very meaning of your vocation which entails, first and foremost, seeking God, Quaerere Deum: you are seekers of God by vocation. You devote the best energies of your lives to this research. You move from what is secondary to what is really essential to what is really important: seeking God, keeping your gaze fixed on him. Like the first monks, cultivate an eschatological orientation: behind the provisional seek what remains, what does not pass away (cf. Address at the Collège des Bernardins, Paris, 12 September 2008).
Seek God in the confreres or sisters he has given you, with whom you share the same life and mission. Seek him in the men and women of our time, to whom you are sent to offer the gift of the Gospel with your life and your words. Seek him particularly in the poor, the first to whom the Good News is addressed (cf Lc 4,18). Seek him in the Church, where the Lord makes himself present, especially in the Eucharist and in the other sacraments, and in his word, which is the main road for seeking God. It introduces us into conversation with him and reveals to us his true Face. May you always be enthusiastic seekers and witnesses of God!
The profound renewal of the consecrated life starts from the centrality of the word of God, and more practically, from the Gospel, the supreme rule for all of you, as the Second Vatican Council states in the Decree Perfectae Caritatis (cf. n. 2) and as your Founders understood well: the consecrated life is a plant with a mass of branches whose roots are sunk in the Gospel. The history of your Institutes in which the determination to live Christ’s Message and to configure your own life to it, was and remains the fundamental criterion of vocational discernment and of your personal and community discernment. The Gospel lived daily provides the element that gives fascination and beauty to the consecrated life and presents you to the world as a reliable alternative. Contemporary society stands in need of this, and the Church expects this of you: to be a living Gospel.
Another fundamental aspect of the consecrated life that I would like to emphasize is brotherhood: Confessio Trinitatis (cf. John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Vita Consecrata VC 41) and model of Church communion. Indeed, the witness of your consecration passes through it. Fraternal life is one of the main aspects that young people seek when they approach your life; it is an important prophetic element that you offer in a strongly individualistic society.
I know the efforts you are making in this area, as I also know the difficulties that community life entails. There is a need for serious and constant discernment to listen to what the Spirit says to the communities (cf . Rev Ap 2,7), to distinguish what comes from the Lord from what is contrary to him (cf . Vita Consecrata VC 73).
Without discernment, accompanied by prayer and reflection, the consecrated life runs the risk of adapting to the criteria of this world: individualism, consumerism, materialism; criteria that cause fraternity to fade and the consecrated life itself to lose its fascination and pungency. Be masters of discernment so that your confreres and your sisters may adopt this habitus and your communities become an eloquent sign for the world today.
May you who exercise the service of authority and have duties of guidance and of planning the future of your Religious Institutes, remember that an important part of spiritual animation and governance is the common search for the means to foster communion, mutual communication, warmth and truth in reciprocal relations.
A last point that I would like to highlight is the mission. The mission is the Church’s way of being and, within her, of the consecrated life. It is part of your identity; it spurs you to take the Gospel to everyone without boundaries. The mission sustained by a strong experience of God, by a robust formation and by fraternal life in community, is a key to understanding and revitalizing the consecrated life. Go, then, and in creative fidelity make your own the challenge of the new evangelization. Renew your presence in today’s areopagi to proclaim, as St Paul did in Athens, the “unknown” God (cf. Discourse at the Collège des Bernardins).
Dear Superiors General, at present many Institutes are faced with dwindling numbers, particularly in Europe. The difficulties, however, must not make us forget that the origin of the consecrated life is in the Lord: it was desired by him for the edification and holiness of his Church, and therefore the Church herself will never be deprived of it. While I encourage you to walk in faith and hope, I ask of you a renewed commitment to the pastoral care of vocations and to initial and continuing formation.
I entrust you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, to your Holy Founders and Patrons, as I warmly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to your religious Families.
Speeches 2005-13 395