Speeches 2005-13 413



Dear Bishop Friedrich,
Dear Friends from Germany,

I extend a cordial welcome to all of you, who represent the leaders of the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, to the Apostolic Palace, and I am delighted that you have come to Rome as a Delegation at the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. Thereby you also show that our deep longing for unity can only bear fruit if it is rooted in common prayer. I would like to thank you, dear Bishop, in particular, for your words, that with great sincerity, express the common effort for deeper unity among all Christians.

In the meantime, the official dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics — as written here — can look back at more than 50 years of intense work. You mentioned 30 years. I think that it was 30 years ago, after the Pope’s Visit, when we officially initiated the dialogue but we had in fact already been dialoguing for some time. I too was a member of the “Jaeger-Stählin-Kreis” that came into being directly after the War. Therefore, one can speak of either 50 or 30 years. Notwithstanding the theological differences that continue to exist on questions that in part are fundamental, a “togetherness’ has developed between us which is increasingly becoming the basis of communion lived in faith and in spirituality between Lutherans and Catholics. What has already been achieved reinforces our trust in continuing the dialogue, for only in this way can we stay together on that path which is ultimately Jesus Christ himself.

Hence the Catholic Church’s commitment to ecumenism, as my Venerable Predecessor Pope John Paul II said in his Encyclical Ut Unum Sint, is not a mere strategy of communication in a changing world, but a fundamental commitment of the Church, starting with her own mission (cf. nn. 28-32).

To some of our contemporaries the common goal of full and visible unity of Christians today seems once again to be very distant. The conversation partners in the ecumenical dialogue express ideas on the unity of the Church that are entirely different. I share the concern of many Christians that the fruits of the ecumenical endeavour, above all in relation to the idea of Church and ministry, are still not sufficiently acknowledged by the ecumenical spokespeople. However, even if new difficulties always arise, let us look with hope to the future. Although the divisions among Christians are an obstacle to fully moulding catholicity in the reality of the Church’s life as was promised in Christ and through Christ (cf . Unitatis Redintegratio UR 4), we trust in the fact that under the Holy Spirit’s guidance ecumenical dialogue, such an important instrument in the Church’s life, will serve to overcome this conflict. This will also happen, in the first place, through the theological dialogue which must contribute to an understanding of the open-ended questions, that are obstacles on the path to visible unity and to the common celebration of the Eucharist as the sacrament of unity among Christians.

I am pleased to say that in Germany the international Lutheran-Catholic dialogue on the topic: “Baptism and growing ecclesial communion”, has been flanked by a bilateral commission for dialogue, since 2009, between the Bishops’ Conference and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, which has resumed its activity on the topic: “God and the dignity of man”. This thematic context also includes in particular the problems that have recently arisen in relation to the protection and dignity of human life, as well as urgent questions on the family, marriage and sexuality, which cannot be silenced or neglected merely to avoid endangering the ecumenical consensus attained so far. We hope that in these important questions related to life, new confessional differences will not emerge but rather that we will be able together to testify to the world and to men what the Lord has shown us and is showing us.

Today ecumenical dialogue can no longer be separated from the reality and the faith life of our Churches without harming them. Thus, let us turn our gaze together to the year 2017, which recalls the posting of Martin Luther’s theses on Indulgences 500 years ago. On that occasion, Lutherans and Catholics will have the opportunity to celebrate throughout the world a common ecumenical commemoration, to strive for fundamental questions at the global level, not — as you yourself have just said — in the form of a triumphant celebration, but as a common profession of our faith in the Triune God, in common obedience to Our Lord and to his Word. We must give an important place to common prayer and to interior prayer addressed to our Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of mutual wrongs and for culpability relative to the divisions. Part of this purification of conscience is the mutual exchange appraising the 1,500 years that preceded the Reformation, and which we therefore have in common. For this reason we wish to implore together, constantly, the help of God and the assistance of the Holy Spirit in order to take further steps towards the longed-for unity and not to be satisfied with the results we have achieved so far.

We are also encouraged on this journey by this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It recalls the Chapter of the Acts of the Apostles: “And they devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Ac 2,42). The early Christians were constant in these four actions and in their behaviour so the community grew with Christ, and from it flowed this “togetherness” of men and women in Christ. This extraordinary and visible witness to the world of the unity of the early Church could also be an incentive and a norm for us on our common ecumenical journey in the future.

In the hope that your visit will reinforce further the effective collaboration between Lutherans and Catholics in Germany, I implore for you all the grace of God and his abundant Blessings.


Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers in Christ,

It is with great joy that I welcome you, the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Through you I gladly extend fraternal greetings to my venerable Brothers, the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches.

I am grateful for the work of the Commission which began in January 2003 as a shared initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity.

As you know, the first phase of the dialogue, from 2003 to 2009, resulted in the common text entitled Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church. The document outlined aspects of fundamental ecclesiological principles that we share and identified issues requiring deeper reflection in successive phases of the dialogue. We can only be grateful that after almost fifteen hundred years of separation we still find agreement about the sacramental nature of the Church, about apostolic succession in priestly service and about the impelling need to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in the world.

In the second phase the Commission has reflected from an historical perspective on the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion down the ages. During the meeting this week you are deepening your study of the communion and communication that existed between the Churches until the mid-fifth century of Christian history, as well as the role played by monasticism in the life of the early Church.

We must be confident that your theological reflection will lead our Churches not only to understand each other more deeply, but resolutely to continue our journey decisively towards the full communion to which we are called by the will of Christ. For this intention we have lifted up our common prayer during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which has just ended.

Many of you come from regions where Christian individuals and communities face trials and difficulties that are a cause of deep concern for us all. All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in order to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in all our Churches, sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities.

With sentiments of fraternal affection I invoke upon all of you the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am glad to welcome you on the happy occasion of the 150th anniversary of the birth in Heaven of St Justin De Jacobis. I cordially greet each one of you, dear priests and seminarians of the Pontifical Ethiopian College, whom Divine Providence has brought to live beside the tomb of the Apostle Peter, a sign of the ancient and profound ties of communion that bind the Church which is in Ethiopia and in Eritrea with the Apostolic See.

I offer a special greeting to the Rector, Fr Teclezghi Bahta, whom I thank for his courteous words introducing our meeting, explaining the various important circumstances that led to it. I welcome you today with special affection and, together with you, I am pleased to remember the communities you come from.

I would now like to reflect on the luminous figure of St Justin De Jacobis, whose important anniversary you celebrated last 31 July. A praiseworthy son of St Vincent de Paul, St Justin lived exemplarily, “making himself all things to all people”, especially in service to the Abyssinian people. At the age of 38 he was sent by Cardinal Franzoni, the then Prefect of Propaganda Fide, as a missionary to Tigrai, Ethiopia. He worked first in Adua and then in Guala, where he immediately thought of forming Ethiopian priests, and founded a seminary called “College of the Immaculate Virgin”. In his zealous ministry he worked tirelessly to ensure that this portion of the People of God might rediscover the original fervour of faith, sown by the first evangelizer, St Frumentius (cf. PL 21, 473-80). With farsightedness Justin perceived that attention to the cultural context must be a privileged path on which the Lord’s grace would form new generations of Christians. Learning the local language and encouraging the age-old liturgical tradition of the Rite of those communities, his approach was effectively ecumenical. For more than 20 years his generous priestly, then episcopal ministry benefited all those he met and loved, as living members of the people entrusted to his care.

Because of his enthusiasm for education, especially for forming priests, he may rightly be considered your College’s Patron; indeed, this praiseworthy Institution still accepts priests and candidates to the priesthood today, supporting them in their commitment to theological, spiritual and pastoral training.

On returning to your original communities or accompanying your compatriots who have emigrated, may you be able to inspire in each one love for God and for the Church, following the example of St Justin De Jacobis. He crowned his fruitful contribution to the religious and civil life of the Abyssinian peoples with the gift of his life, silently given back to God after much suffering and persecution. He was beatified by Venerable Pius XII on 25 June 1939 and canonized by the Servant of God Paul VI on 26 October 1975.

Dear priests and seminarians, the way of holiness is marked out for you too! Christ continues to be present in the world and to reveal himself through those who, like St Justin De Jacobis, allow themselves to be enlivened by his Spirit. The Second Vatican Council reminds us of this, saying, among other things: “God shows to men, in a vivid way, his presence and his face in the lives of those companions of ours in the human condition who are more perfectly transformed into the image of Christ (cf 2Co 3,18), He speaks to us in them and offers us a sign of this Kingdom” (Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium LG 50).

Christ, the eternal Priest of the New Covenant, who with his special vocation to the priestly ministry has “conquered” our life, does not suppress the characteristic qualities of the person; on the contrary, he uplifts them, he ennobles them and, making them his own, calls them to serve his mystery and his work. God also needs each one of us so that “in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Ep 2,7).

Despite the individual character of each one’s vocation we are not separated from each other, on the contrary we are in solidarity, in communion within a single spiritual body. We are called to form the total Christ, a unity recapitulated in the Lord, enlivened by his Sprit to become his “pleroma” and to enrich the canticle of praise that he raises to the Father.

Christ is inseparable from the Church which is his Body. It is in the Church that Christ most closely gathers round him the baptized and, nourishing them with his own Body and his Blood, makes them partakers in his own glorious life (cf . Lumen Gentium LG 48).

Holiness is therefore placed in the very heart of the ecclesial mystery and is the vocation to which we are all called. The Saints are not external ornaments that adorn the Church but are like the blossom of a tree that reveals the inexhaustible vitality of the sap that rises in it. It is thus beautiful to contemplate the Church, ascending towards the fullness of the Vir perfectus in continuous, demanding and gradual maturation, dynamically impelled towards complete fulfilment in Christ.

Dear priests and seminarians of the Pontifical Ethiopian College, live with joy and dedication this important period of your formation in the shadow of the dome of St Peter’s. May you walk with determination on the path of holiness. You are a sign of hope, especially for the Church in your native countries. I am sure that the experience of communion you have lived here in Rome will help you also to make a precious contribution to the growth and peaceful coexistence of your beloved nations.

I accompany your progress with my prayers and, through the intercession of St Justin De Jacobis and of the Virgin Mary, I impart to you with affection the Apostolic Blessing that I gladly extend to the Sisters of Maria Bambina, to the Personnel of the House and to all your loved ones.
February 2011


Mr Ambassador,

I accept with pleasure the Letters with which the President of the Republic of Austria has accredited you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. At the same time I thank you for the cordial words with which you expressed the closeness to the Successor of Peter of the President and of the Government. For my part, I extend my affectionate greetings to the President, to the Chancellor and to the members of the Government, as well as to all the citizens of Austria. I also willingly express the hope that relations between the Holy See and Austria may continue to bear fruit in the future.

The culture, the history and daily life of Austria, “land of cathedrals” (from the National Anthem) have been profoundly formed by the Catholic faith. I had the opportunity to notice this too during my Pastoral Visit to your country and during the pilgrimage I made to Mariazell four years ago. The faithful I was able to meet represent the thousands of men and women throughout the country who, in living their faith in daily life and making themselves available to others, show the noblest human features and spread Christ’s love.

At the same time Austria is also a country in which the peaceful coexistence of various religions and cultures has a long tradition. The old popular anthem of the time of the monarchy said “In harmony lies strength”. This is particularly true for the religious dimension which is rooted in the depths of the human conscience and is therefore part of each individual’s life and of the coexistence of the community.

The spiritual homeland, for which many people in an ever more mobile employment situation and constant change, feel a personal need, must be able to exist publicly and in an atmosphere of peaceful coexistence with other confessions of faith.

In many European countries the relationship between State and religion is facing a particular tension. On the one hand, the political authorities are taking great care not to grant any public space to religions understood as merely the individual ideas of faith of citizens. On the other hand, an effort is being made to apply to the religious communities the criteria of an age-old public opinion.

It seems that there is a desire to adapt the Gospel to culture and yet, almost embarrassingly, there is an attempt to prevent culture from being shaped by the religious dimension.

Instead, emphasis should be given to the view of some States, in particular of Central and Eastern Europe, that room should be made for the fundamental human aspirations, for human faith in God and for faith in salvation through God.

The Holy See has noted with pleasure some actions of the Austrian Government in this regard, not the least of which is the position it has taken to the so-called “crucifix ruling” of the European Court of Human Rights and the proposal of the Minister for Foreign Affairs “that the new European service for external action too should note the situation of religious freedom in the world, draft regular reports and present them to the Foreign Ministers of the European Union” (Austria Presse Agentur, 10 December 2010).

Recognition of religious freedom permits the ecclesial community to carry out its multiple activities from which the whole of society benefits. A reference is made here to the various institutes for education and charitable services managed by the Church, which you mentioned, Mr Ambassador.

The Church’s commitment to those in need clearly shows the way in which the Church, in a certain sense, considers herself the spokesperson of the underprivileged. This ecclesial commitment which is widely recognized in society cannot be reduced to charity alone.

Its deepest roots are in God, in God who is love. Thus it is necessary fully to respect the Church's action and not to make her one of the many dispensers of social assistance. Rather, she must be seen in the totality of her religious dimension. It is therefore always necessary to counter the tendency to egoistic isolation. It is the urgent and constant duty of all the members of society to guarantee the moral dimension of culture, the dimension of a culture that is worthy of the human being and of human life in a community. For this reason the Catholic Church does her utmost for the good of society.

A further important requirement of the Holy See is for a balanced family policy. The family occupies a place in society that concerns the foundations of human life. The social order finds essential support in the spousal union of a man and a woman which is also oriented to procreation. For this reason marriage and the family also require the special protection of the State. For all their members they are a school of humanity with positive effects for individuals as well as for society.

Indeed, families are called to live and safeguard reciprocal love and truth, respect and justice, faithfulness and collaboration, service and willingness to help others, especially the weakest. Yet families with many children are often at a disadvantage. The problems in these families, such as, for example, a high potential for conflictuality, low standard of living, difficult access to education, indebtedness and an increase in divorce, give rise to the thought of their deeper causes which must be uprooted from society. Furthermore, it is regrettable that the life of unborn children does not receive adequate protection and that, on the contrary, recognition of their right to life is only secondary to the parents’ right to decide on it freely.

The building of Europe as a common home can only be successful if this continent is aware of its Christian roots and if the Gospel values, as well as the Christian image of the human being, are the leaven of European civilization also in the future. Faith lived in Christ and active love for one’s neighbour, marked by Christ’s word and life and by the Saints’ example, carry more weight than Western Christian culture.

Your recently canonized compatriots, such as Franz Jägerstätter, Sr Restituta Kafka, Ladislaus Batthyány-Strattman and Charles of Austria, can open wider horizons to us. These Saints, on their different paths through life, placed themselves with the same dedication at the service of God and of his message of love for neighbour. Thus they remain for us guiding examples of faith and witnesses of understanding among peoples.

Lastly, Mr Ambassador, I would like to assure you that in carrying out the lofty mission that has been entrusted to you, you may count on my support and that of my co-workers. I willingly entrust you, your family and all the members of the Austrian Embassy to the Holy See to the Blessed Virgin Mary, the Magna Mater Austriae, and I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to the entire beloved people of Austria.



Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you when the Emmanuel Community is preparing to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the death of Pierre Goursat, their Founder, whose cause of Beatification was introduced last year. May the example of his faith life and that of his missionary commitment encourage you and be a constant appeal for you to walk towards holiness!

In the coming months you will also be celebrating the 30th anniversary of FIDESCO's service in the least privileged countries and then the 40th anniversary of the Community’s foundation, as well as the 20th anniversary of the recognition of the Statutes by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. I thank God with you for this work!

I address my cordial thanks to each and everyone of you, priests and lay people. I greet in particular the Moderator of the Community, whom I thank for his kind words, the members of the International Council, those in charge of the important services, as well as the Bishops the Community has produced. May your pilgrimage to Rome at the beginning of this Jubilee Year be an opportunity to renew your commitment to remain ardent disciples of Christ in fidelity to the Church and to her Pastors!

Dear friends, the profound grace of your Community comes from Eucharistic Adoration. From this Adoration is born compassion for all and from this compassion is born the thirst to evangelize (cf. Statutes, Preamble, I). In the spirit of your charism, I thus encourage you to deepen your spiritual life by giving an essential place to the personal encounter with Christ, the Emmanuel, God-with-us, so that you may let yourselves be transformed by him and enable the passionate desire for mission to develop within you.

In the Eucharist you find the source of all your commitments in the following of Christ, and in adoring him you purify your contemplation of life in the world. “The love that we celebrate in the sacrament is not something we can keep to ourselves. By its very nature it demands to be shared with all. What the world needs is God’s love; it needs to encounter Christ and to believe in him” (Sacramentum Caritatis, n. 84). An authentically Eucharistic life is a missionary life. In a world that is often bewildered and that seeks new reasons for living, Christ’s light must be brought to all. Be zealous Gospel Missionaries amidst the men and women of today, sustained by a life that has been radically taken over by Christ! May you thirst to proclaim the word of God!

Today, the urgent need for this proclamation is making itself felt, particularly in families that so often fall apart, among young people and in intellectual milieus. May you help to renew the apostolic dynamism of parishes from within by developing their spiritual and missionary approaches! I further encourage you to be attentive to people who return to the Church and who have not had the benefit of a sound catechesis. Help them to root their faith in an authentically theological, sacramental and ecclesial life! Especially the work carried out by FIDESCO witnesses to your commitment to the people of the least privileged countries. May your charity be radiant with Christ’s love everywhere and thus become a force for building a more just and fraternal world!

I invite your community in particular to live authentic communion among its members. This communion, which is not merely human solidarity among the members of a single spiritual family, is founded on your relationship with Christ and on the common commitment to serving him. The community life that you hope to develop, with respect for each one’s state of life, will thus be for society a living witness of the brotherly love that must give life to all human relations. Fraternal communion is already a proclamation of the new world which Christ came to establish.

May this same communion, which is not withdrawal into self, also be effective with the local Churches. Indeed, each charism relates to the growth of the whole of Christ’s Body. Missionary action must therefore constantly be adapted to the situations of the local Church, with permanent concern for cooperation and collaboration with the pastors, under the authority of the Bishop. Moreover, the mutual recognition of the diversity of vocations in the Church and of their indispensable contribution for evangelization, is an eloquent sign of the unity of Christ’s disciples and of the credibility of their witness.

The Virgin Mary, Mother of the Emmanuel, has an important place in your Community’s spirituality. Take her into your “home”, as the Beloved Disciple did, so that she may truly be the mother who guides you towards her divine Son and who helps you to stay faithful to him. As I entrust you to her motherly intercession, I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing to each and every one of you, as well as to all the members of the Emmanuel Community.


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

I would like first of all to offer my cordial greeting to Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, whom I thank for his address at the beginning of this Meeting. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops who are Members of the Supreme Tribunal, the Secretary, the Officials and all the co-workers who carry out their daily service in the Dicastery. I also extend a cordial greeting to the Referendaries and the Advocates.

This is my first opportunity to meet the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura after the promulgation of the Lex propria [Proper Law], which I signed on 21 June 2008. It was precisely in the preparation of this law that there emerged the desire of the Members of the Signatura to devote a regular Congregatio plenaria [plenary assembly] — in the form common to every Dicastery of the Roman Curia (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus June 1988, art. 11; General Regulation of the Roman Curia [Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana], 30 April 1999, articles 112-117) — to furthering the correct administration of justice in the Church (cf. Lex propria, art. 112). Indeed, this Tribunal’s area of responsibility is not limited to the highest exercise of the judicial function, but also includes the duty, in the realm of executive governance, to exercise vigilance over the correct administration of justice in the community of the Church (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 121; Lex propria, art. 32).

Among other things, as the Lex propria points out, this entails maintaining an up-to-date body of information on the state and activity of the local tribunals by means of the annual report which each tribunal is bound to send to the Apostolic Signatura. It also involves the organization and elaboration of the data that comes from these reports; the identification of strategies for an appropriate use of human and institutional resources in the local tribunals, as well as the constant practice of communicating with the Bishop-Moderators of the diocesan and interdiocesan tribunals, who have direct responsibility, institutionally, for the administration of justice.

This is a coordinated and patient task which aims above all to provide for the faithful the correct, rapid and efficient administration of justice, as I requested with regard to causes of nullity of marriage in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis: “When legitimate doubts exist about the validity of the prior sacramental marriage, the necessary investigation must be carried out to establish if these are well-founded. Consequently there is a need to ensure, in full respect for canon law, the presence of local ecclesiastical tribunals, their pastoral character, and their correct and prompt functioning. Each diocese should have a sufficient number of persons with the necessary preparation, so that the ecclesiastical tribunals can operate in an expeditious manner. I repeat that ‘it is a grave obligation to bring the Church’s institutional activity in her tribunals ever closer to the faithful’ ” (n. 29). On that occasion I did not fail to refer to the Instruction Dignitas Connubii, which provides judges and the other ministers of tribunals with the necessary norms — in the form of a vademecum — so that causes of matrimonial nullity may be addressed and defined in the most rapid and reliable way.

The Apostolic Signatura carries out certain activities in order to ensure that ecclesiastical tribunals are present in the territory concerned and that their ministry is in line with the proper requirements of speed and simplicity to which the faithful are entitled in the treatment of their cases. According to its competence it encourages the establishment of interdiocesan tribunals, provides prudently for dispensing tribunal ministers from academic qualifications while carefully verifying their true expertise in substantive and procedural law, and grants the necessary dispensations from procedural laws when the exercise of justice requires in a specific case the relaxatio legis in order to achieve the purpose intended by the law. This also is an important work of understanding and application of procedural law.

However, vigilance over the correct administration of justice would be inadequate if it did not also entail the function of safeguarding correct jurisprudence (cf. Lex propria, art. 111, §1). The means for knowing and for intervening, which the Lex propria and its own institutional position provide to this Apostolic Signatura, permit it to act in a manner that, in synergy with the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (cf.Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 126), proves providential for the Church. The exhortations and prescriptions which this Apostolic Signatura includes in its responses to the annual reports of the local tribunals not infrequently recommend to the respective Bishop-Moderators knowledge of and adherence to not only the directives proposed in the Pope’s annual Addresses to the Roman Rota, but also common Rotal jurisprudence regarding specific aspects that are crucial to the individual tribunals. I therefore also encourage the reflection, with which you will be engaged in these days, on the correct jurisprudence to propose to the local tribunals in the matter of error iuris as a cause of matrimonial nullity.

This Supreme Tribunal is likewise committed to another sensitive area of the administration of justice, which was entrusted to it by the Servant of God Paul VI; in fact, the Signatura adjudicates controversies which have arisen from acts of ecclesiastical administrative power and have been brought to it by means of recourses legitimately proposed against individual administrative acts, whether issued by the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia or approved by them (cf. Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, 15 August 1967, n. 106; CIC 1445, § 2: Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 123; Lex propria, art. 34). This is a service of primary importance: the provision of instruments of justice — from the peaceful settlement of disputes to their judicial treatment and resolution — offers a place for dialogue and for the restoration of communion in the Church.

If it is indeed true that injustice should be confronted first of all with the spiritual weapons of prayer, charity, forgiveness and penance, nonetheless it cannot be excluded in certain cases that it is appropriate and necessary for it to be addressed by procedural means. The latter constitute above all occasions for dialogue which sometimes lead to harmony and reconciliation. It is not by chance that the procedural norms provide that in limine litis, indeed, at every stage of the trial, an opening and and opportunity be offered so that, “whenever someone feels injured by a decree, there not be a contention between this person and the author of the decree but that care be taken by common counsel to find an equitable solution between them, perhaps through the use of respected persons in mediation and study so that the controversy may be avoided or solved by some suitable means” (CIC 1733 § 2). To this end initiatives and norms are also encouraged which aim at establishing offices or councils whose duty, according to norms to be established, is to seek and suggest equitable solutions (cf. ibid., § 2).

In other cases, that is, when it is impossible to settle the controversy peacefully, the carrying out of the contentious-administrative process will bring about a judicial resolution of the dispute. In this case too, the activity of the Supreme Tribunal aims to reconstitute ecclesial communion, namely, to re-establish an objective order in conformity with the good of the Church. Only this communion re-established and justified through the motivation of the judicial decision can lead to genuine peace and harmony within the ecclesial structure.

This is the meaning of the well-known principle: Opus iustitiae pax. The demanding re-establishment of justice is destined to reconstruct just and orderly relations among the faithful, and between them and ecclesiastical Authority.

Indeed, the inner peace and the willing collaboration of the faithful in the Church’s mission derive from the re-established awareness that they are acting in full accord with their vocation. Justice, which the Church pursues through the contentious-administrative process, can be considered as a beginning, a minimal requirement and at the same time an expectation of charity, at once indispensable and yet insufficient, if it is compared with the charity on which the Church lives. Nevertheless the pilgrim People of God on earth will be unable to realize its identity as a community of love unless it takes into consideration the demands of justice.

I entrust to Mary Most Holy, Speculum Iustitiae and Regina Pacis, the prized and delicate ministry which the Apostolic Signatura carries out at the service of communion in the Church, while I express to each one of you the assurance of my esteem and my appreciation.

I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit upon you and upon your daily work and I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.
Speeches 2005-13 413