Speeches 2005-13 419



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

I address to each one of you my cordial greeting at your visit on the occasion of the Plenary Meeting of the Congregation for Catholic Education. I greet Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Dicastery, and thank him for his courteous words, as well the Secretary, the Undersecretary, the Officials and the Co-Workers.

The common denominator of the topics you are addressing in these days is education and formation, which today constitute one of the most urgent challenges that the Church and her institutions are called to face. The task of educating seems to have become increasingly difficult because, in a culture which all too often makes relativism its creed, the light of truth is lacking; indeed it is even considered dangerous to speak of truth, thereby sowing doubt on the basic values of personal and community life. This explains the importance of the service that the many educational institutions inspired by the Christian vision of man and of reality carry out in the world. Educating is an act of love, an exercise of “intellectual charity” which calls for responsibility, dedication and a consistent life. Your Congregation’s work and the decisions you make during these days of reflection and study will certainly contribute to responding to the current “educational emergency”.

Your Congregation, established by Benedict XV in 1915, has carried out its invaluable work in service to the various Catholic educational institutions for almost 100 years. There is no doubt that the seminary is one of the most important of these institutions for the life of the Church and therefore requires a formative plan that will take into account the above-mentioned context.

On various occasions I have emphasized that the seminary is a precious stage of life in which the candidate to the priesthood experiences being “a disciple of Jesus”. This training period requires a certain detachment, a certain “desert”, so that the Lord may speak to hearts with a voice that is heard if there is silence (cf 1R 19,12); but also required is the willingness to live together, to love “family life” and the community dimension, which anticipate the “sacramental brotherhood” which must characterize every diocesan priest (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 8) I also wished to recall this in my recent Letter to Seminarians: “one does not become a priest on one’s own. The “community of disciples” is essential, the unity of those who desire to serve the greater Church.

In these days, you are also studying the draft of the Document: The Internet and formation in seminaries. Because of its ability to cover distances and put people in touch with each other, the Internet also presents great possibilities for the Church and her mission. With the necessary discernment for its intelligent and judicious use, the Internet is an instrument that can serve not only for study but also for the pastoral action of future priests in the various ecclesial areas, such as evangelization, missionary action, catechesis, educational projects and the management of institutions. In this field too it is extremely important to be able to rely on properly trained formation teachers who will be faithful and ever up-to-date guides in order to assist candidates to the priesthood in the correct and positive use of information technology.

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, set up by Venerable Pius XII to encourage collaboration between the Holy See and the local Churches in the valuable work of promoting vocations to the ordained ministry. This anniversary serves as an opportunity to know and to evaluate the most important vocational projects promoted in the local Churches. In addition to emphasizing the value of the universal call to follow Jesus, the pastoral care of vocations must insist more clearly on the profile of the ministerial priesthood, characterized by its specific configuration to Christ, which essentially sets it apart from the other faithful and puts it at their service.

Furthermore, you have started to revise what the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana prescribes on ecclesiastical studies, with regard to Canon Law, Higher Institutes for Religious Studies and, recently, philosophy. Theology is a sector that calls for special reflection. It is important to strengthen increasingly the bond between theology and the study of Sacred Scripture, so that the latter may truly be its heart and soul (cf. Verbum Domini, n. 31).

Nevertheless the theologian must not forget that he is also the one who speaks to God. Hence it is indispensable to keep theology closely united with personal and community prayer and, especially, with liturgical prayer. Theology is sciencia fidei and prayer nourishes faith. In the union with God, mystery is in a certain way, savoured, it makes itself close, and this closeness enlightens the mind.

I would also like to stress the connection between theology and the other disciplines, given that it is taught at Catholic, and, in many cases, at secular universities. Bl. John Henry Newman spoke of the “circle of knowledge”, to indicate that an interdependence exists between the various branches of knowledge; but God and God alone has a relationship with the whole of reality; consequently, eliminating God means breaking the circle of knowledge. In this perspective, Catholic universities, with their specific identity and their openness to the “totality” of the human being, can carry out a valuable task to further the unity of knowledge, guiding students and teachers to the Light of the world, "the true light that enlightens every man" (Jn 1,9). These are considerations that also apply to Catholic schools. First of all there must be the courage to proclaim the “broad” value of education, in order to form solid people who can collaborate with others and give meaning to their lives. Today there is talk of intercultural education, which is also an object of study at your Plenary Assembly.

In this realm courageous and innovative fidelity are required that can combine a clear awareness of one’s own identity with openness to others because of the requirements of coexistence in multicultural societies. To this end the educational role of teaching the Catholic religion is also emerging as an academic subject in an interdisciplinary dialogue with others. In fact, this makes a considerable contribution not only to the student’s integral development, but also to knowledge of the other, to mutual understanding and respect. To achieve these objectives special attention must be given to the training of leaders and formation teachers, not only from the professional but also from the religious and spiritual viewpoints so that the Christian educator’s presence, with the consistency of his or her life and with personal involvement, will be an expression of love and a witness of the truth.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for all you do with your competent work at the service of educational institutions. Always keep your gaze fixed on Christ, the only Teacher, so that with his Spirit he will make your work effective. I entrust you to the motherly protection of Mary Most Holy, Sedes Sapientiae, and I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all.


Dear Brothers and Friends,

I experience true joy at meeting you, priests and seminarians of the Fraternity of St Charles Borromeo who are reunited here on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its birth. I greet and thank Mons. Massimo Camisasca, your Founder and Superior General, his Council, and all of you, parents and friends who are gathered round the community. In particular, I greet Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of Mother of God, Moscow, and Fr Julián Carrón, President of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, who express symbolically both the fruits and the root of the work of the Fraternity of St Charles. This moment reminds me of my long friendship with Mons. Luigi Giussani and witnesses to the fertility of his charism.

On this occasion, I would like to answer two questions that our meeting suggests to me: what is the place of the ordained priesthood in the Church’s life? And what is the place of community life in the priestly experience? Your birth from the movement of Communion and Liberation and your vital reference to the ecclesial experience that it represents, place before our eyes a truth that has continued from the 19th century onwards to be reinforced especially clearly and that found a significant expression in the theology of the Second Vatican Council.

I am referring to the fact that the Christian priesthood is not an end in itself. It was desired by Christ for the birth and life of the Church. Thus every priest can say to the faithful, paraphrasing St Augustine: Vobiscum christianus, pro vobis sacerdos. The glory and joy of the priesthood is to serve Christ and his Mystical Body.

It is a most beautiful and unique vocation within the Church which makes Christ present, because it participates in the one and eternal Priesthood of Christ. The presence of priestly vocations is a reliable sign of the truth and vitality of a Christian community. In fact, God always calls, also to the priesthood. There is no true and fruitful growth in the Church without an authentic priestly presence that supports and nourishes it.

I am therefore grateful to all who devote their energies to the formation of priests and to the reform of priestly life. Like the whole Church, in fact, the priesthood also needs to be continuously renewed, rediscovering in Jesus’ life the most essential forms of its being.

The different possible ways for this renewal cannot disregard certain indispensable elements. First of all, a profound education in meditation and prayer, experienced as a dialogue with the Risen Lord present in his Church. Secondly, a study of theology that makes it possible to encounter the Christian truths in the form of a synthesis linked to the life of the person and of the community; only a sapiential gaze can in fact grasp the power of faith to illuminate life and the world, leading continuously to Christ, Creator and Saviour.

In the course of its brief but intense history the Fraternity of St Charles has emphasized the value of community life. I too have spoken of it on various occasions in my addresses, before and after being called to the Throne of Peter.

“It is important for priests not to live off on their own somewhere, in isolation, but to accompany one another in small communities, to support one another, and so to experience, and constantly realize afresh, their communion in service to Christ and in renunciation for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven” (Light of the World, Ignatius Press, San Francisco 2010 p. 149).

The urgency of this moment is before our eyes. I am thinking, for example, of the shortage of priests. Community life is not first and foremost a strategy with which to respond to these needs. Nor is it, in itself, merely a form of assistance in the face of the human being’s loneliness and weakness. It can indeed be all this but only if fraternal life is conceived of and lived as a way of being immersed in the reality of communion. In fact community life is an expression of Christ’s gift which is the Church, and is prefigured in the apostolic community which brought forth priests. No priest actually administers something that is his own but he shares with his other brothers in a sacramental gift that comes directly from Jesus.

Community life is therefore the expression of a form of assistance that Christ gives to our life by calling us, through the presence of brothers, to an ever deeper configuration to him. Living with others means accepting the need for one’s own continuous conversion and, especially, discovering the beauty of this journey, the joy of humility, of penance, but also of conversation, of mutual forgiveness and of reciprocal support. Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum (Ps 133,1).

No one can acquire the regenerating power of community life without prayer, without looking at the experience and teaching of the saints – and in a special way of the Fathers of the Church – or without a sacramental life lived faithfully. Unless one enters the eternal dialogue which the Son maintains with the Father in the Holy Spirit, no authentic community life is possible. We must be with Jesus in order to be able to be with others. This is the heart of the mission. In the company of Christ and of his brethren each priest can find the necessary energy to care for human beings, to shoulder the spiritual and material needs he encounters, to teach with words ever new, dictated by love, the eternal truths of the faith for which our contemporaries also thirst.

Dear brothers and friends, may you continue to go all over the world to take to everyone the communion that is born from Christ’s Heart! May the experience of the Apostles with Jesus always be the beacon that illuminates your priestly life! As I encourage you to continue on the path marked out in these years, I willingly impart my Blessing to all the priests and seminarians of the Fraternity of St Charles, to the Missionary Sisters of St Charles and to their relatives and friends.


My dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to receive you today on the occasion of your ad Limina visit, and I offer my sincere good wishes and prayers for yourselves and for all those entrusted to your pastoral care. Your presence at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul strengthens the profound unity that already exists between the Church in the Philippines and the Holy See. As the deep links which Catholics enjoy with the Successor of Peter have always been a significant characteristic of faith in your country, I pray that this communion will continue to grow and flourish as you consider the present challenges of your apostolate.

While the Philippines continues to face many challenges in the area of economic development, we must recognize that these obstacles to a life of happiness and fulfilment are not the only stumbling blocks that must be addressed by the Church. Filipino culture is also confronted with the more subtle questions inherent to the secularism, materialism, and consumerism of our times. When self-sufficiency and freedom are severed from their dependence upon and completion in God, the human person creates for himself a false destiny and loses sight of the eternal joy for which he has been made. The path to rediscovering humanity’s true destiny can only be found in the re-establishment of the priority of God in the heart and mind of every person.

Above all, to keep God at the center of the life of the faithful, the preaching of you and your clergy must be personal in its focus so that each Catholic will grasp in his or her innermost depths the life-transforming fact that God exists, that he loves us, and that in Christ he answers the deepest questions of our lives. Your great task in evangelization is therefore to propose a personal relationship with Christ as key to complete fulfilment. In this context, the second Plenary Council of the Philippines continues to have beneficial effects, the result being that many dioceses have formed pastoral programs focused on conveying the good news of salvation. At the same time, it must be recognized that new initiatives in evangelization will only be fruitful if, by the grace of God, those proposing them are people who truly believe and live the message of the Gospel themselves.

This is surely one of the reasons why basic ecclesial communities have had such a positive impact throughout the country. When formed and guided by people whose motivating force is the love of Christ, these communities have proven themselves to be worthy tools of evangelization as they work in conjunction with local parishes. Similarly, the Church in the Philippines is fortunate to have a number of lay organizations which continue to draw people to the Lord. In order to confront the questions of our times, the laity need to hear the Gospel message in its fullness, to understand its implications for their personal lives and for society in general, and thus be constantly converted to the Lord. I therefore urge you to take special care in shepherding such groups, so that the primacy of God may remain in the forefront.

This primacy is of particular importance when it comes to the evangelization of youth. I am happy to note that, in your country, the faith plays a very important role in the lives of many young people, a fact that is due in large part to the patient work of the local Church to reach out to the youth at all levels. I encourage you to continue to remind young people that the glamour of this world will not satisfy their natural desire for happiness. Only true friendship with God will break the bonds of loneliness from which our fragile humanity suffers and will establish a true and lasting communion with others, a spiritual bond that will readily prompt within us the wish to serve the needs of those we love in Christ. Care must also be given to showing young people the importance of the sacraments as instruments of God's grace and assistance. This is particularly true of the sacrament of matrimony, which sanctifies married life from its very beginning, so that God's presence may sustain young couples in their struggles.

The pastoral care of young people which aims to establish the primacy of God in their hearts, tends inherently to result not only in vocations to Christian marriage but also in plentiful callings of all kinds. I am pleased to note the success of local initiatives in fostering numerous vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. However, the need for ever more dedicated servants of Christ both at home and abroad is still pressing. From your quinquennial reports, it appears that in many dioceses the number of priests and the corresponding number of parishes is not yet sufficient to meet the spiritual needs of the large and growing Catholic population. With you, I therefore pray that young Filipinos who feel called to the priesthood and the religious life will respond generously to the promptings of the Spirit. May the Church’s mission of evangelization be sustained by the wonderful gifts which the Lord offers to those whom he calls! In your turn, as Pastors you will wish to offer these young vocations a well-developed and carefully applied plan of integral formation so that their initial inclination towards a life of service to Christ and his faithful may come to full spiritual and human maturity.

Dear brothers in the episcopate, with these thoughts I assure you of my prayers and commend you to the intercession of Saint Lorenzo Ruiz. May his example of steadfast faithfulness to Christ be an encouragement to you in your apostolic labors. To you, to the clergy and religious, and to all the faithful entrusted to your care, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace.


Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

I am pleased to greet you, the students and faculty of the Pontifical Filipino College in this year marking the fiftieth anniversary of its establishment by my predecessor Blessed John XXIII. I join you in giving thanks to God for all your College has contributed to the life of your fellow Filipinos both at home and abroad over the course of the last five decades.

As a house of formation located here, by the tombs of the great Apostles Peter and Paul, the Filipino College has fulfilled the mission entrusted to it in a variety of ways. Its first and most important task remains to assist students in their formation in the sacred sciences. This the College has accomplished well, as hundreds of priests have returned home with advanced degrees obtained from the various Pontifical universities and institutions in the city, and have gone on to serve the Church throughout the world, some of them with great distinction. Let me encourage you, the present generation of students at the College, to grow in faith, to strive for excellence in your studies, and to grasp every opportunity afforded you to attain spiritual and theological maturity, so that you will be equipped, trained, and stout-hearted for whatever awaits you in the future.

As you know, a complete priestly formation includes not only the


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

I welcome you with joy on the occasion of the annual Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I greet in particular the President, Bishop Ignacio de Paula, and thank him for his courteous words. I address my cordial welcome to each one of you! During these days of work you have treated topics of important timeliness, which profoundly call into question contemporary society and challenge us to find ever more adequate responses for the good of the human person.

The topic of post-abortion syndrome — that is, the grave psychological distress experienced by women who have had recourse to voluntary abortion — reveals the irrepressible voice of the moral conscience and the most serious wound it suffers every time that human action betrays the innate vocation to the good of the human being, to which it bears witness.

In this reflection it would be useful also to focus attention on the at times obscured conscience of the fathers of children who often leave pregnant women on their own. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that the moral conscience is that “judgement of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed” (n. 1778).

Indeed it is a duty of the moral conscience to discern good from evil in the different situations of life, so that, on the basis of this judgement, the human being may freely turn towards goodness. To those who would like to deny the existence of the human moral conscience, reducing its voice to the result of external conditioning or to a purely emotional phenomenon, it is important to reaffirm that the moral quality of human action is neither an extrinsic or optional value, nor is it a prerogative of Christians or believers; rather it brings together every human being.

It is through the moral conscience that God speaks to every person and invites him to defend human life at every moment. The profound dignity of the moral conscience and the reason for its inviolability is inherent in this personal bond with the Creator.

The human being in his wholeness — mind, emotions, will — fulfils his vocation to the good in his conscience, so that the choice of good or evil in the concrete situations of life ends by profoundly marking the human person in every expression of his being. The whole person, in fact, is injured when his action is contrary to the dictates of his conscience. Yet, even when man rejects the truth and goodness that the Creator proposes to him, God does not abandon him but, precisely through the voice of his conscience, continues to see him and to speak to him so that he will recognize his error and open himself to divine Mercy which can heal any wound.

Doctors in particular cannot fail in the grave duty to defend from deception the conscience of many women who believe abortion is the solution to family, financial and social problems or those that relate to their baby’s health. Especially in the latter situation the woman is all too often convinced, at times by doctors themselves, that abortion is not only a morally licit choice, but is even a “therapeutic” action that is only right, in order to prevent the child and his family from suffering and from being an “unjust” burden on society.

Against a cultural background characterized by the eclipse of the sense of life, in which the common perception of the moral gravity of abortion and of other kinds of attacks on human life, special fortitude is demanded of doctors so that they may continue to assert that abortion resolves nothing but kills the child, destroys the woman and blinds the conscience of the child’s father, all too often ruining family life. This duty, however, does not only concern the medical profession and health-care workers. The whole of society must defend the right to life of the child conceived and the true good of the woman who will never, in any circumstance, be able to find fulfilment in the decision of abortion.

It will likewise be necessary, as your work has shown, to provide women who having unfortunately already had an abortion are now experiencing the full moral and existential tragedy of it. Many dioceses and volunteer organizations offer psychological and spiritual support for full human recovery. The solidarity of the Christian community cannot dispense with this type of co- responsibility.

In this regard I would like to recall the invitation addressed by Venerable John Paul II to women who have had an abortion: “The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone’s right to life” (Encyclical Evangelium vitae, EV 99).

The moral conscience of researchers and of the entire civil society is also closely involved in the second topic, which is the subject of your work today; the use of umbilical cord banks, for clinical and research purposes. Medical and scientific research is a value, hence a commitment, not only for researchers but for the whole civil community. From it stems the duty to promote ethically effective research by institutions and the value of solidarity of individuals in taking part in research that aims to further the common good. This value and the need for solidarity are very clearly highlighted in the case of the use of umbilical cord stem cells. These are important clinical applications and promising research at the scientific level, but their implementation relies heavily on generosity in donating umbilical cord blood at the moment of birth, and on updating structures to enable women giving birth to donate this blood if they so wish.

I therefore invite you all to become champions of a true and conscious human and Christian solidarity. In this regard, many medical researchers rightly view with perplexity the ever increasing number of private banks for the preservation of umbilical cord blood for the exclusive use of individuals.

In addition to lacking true scientific superiority with regard to cord donation this option — as your Assembly’s work shows — undermines the genuine spirit of solidarity that must constantly motivate the search for the common good to which science and medical research ultimately aspire.

Dear brothers and sisters, I renew the expression of my gratitude to the President and to all the Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life for the scientific and ethical value with which you carry out your commitment to serving the good of the human person. I hope that you will keep ever alive the spirit of authentic service that makes minds and hearts sensitive to recognizing the needs of our contemporaries. I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to each one of you and to your loved ones.


Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to greet you on the occasion of the dicastery’s Plenary Assembly. I greet the President, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, whom I thank for his courteous words, and the Secretaries, the Officials, the Consultors and all the Personnel.

In this year’s Message for the World Day of Social Communications I asked the faithful to reflect on the fact that new technologies are not only changing the world of communication but are also bringing about a vast cultural transformation. A new way of learning and thinking is developing, with unprecedented opportunities for establishing relationships and building fellowship.

I would now like to reflect on the fact that thought and relation are always in the modality of language, meant of course in the broad sense, not only verbal. Language is not merely an interchangeable and temporary veneer; rather, it is the living, pulsating context in which human thoughts, anxieties and projects come to life and are patterned in gestures, symbols and words. The human being, therefore, does not only “use” but, in a certain sense, “dwells” in language.

Today, in particular, what the Second Vatican Council described as “marvellous technical inventions” (Inter mirifica IM 1) are transforming the cultural environment and this requires specific attention to the languages that are developing in it.

The power of the new technologies “extends to defining not only what people will think but even what they will think about” (Aetatis Novae, n. 4). The new languages developing in digital communications determine among other things an intuitive and emotive rather than analytical ability, they are geared to a different logical organization of thought and of the relationship with reality, they frequently give priority to the image and to hypertextual connections. Then the traditional clear distinction between written and oral language seems to fade, giving way to written communication that takes the form and immediacy of the spoken word.

The dynamics proper to “participatory networks” further require that the person be involved in what he or she communicates. When people exchange information, they are already sharing themselves and their vision of the world: they become “witnesses” of what gives their life meaning.

The risks that are taken are of course visible to everyone; the loss of interiority, superficiality in living out relationships, escape into emotionality, the prevalence of the most convincing opinion over the desire for truth. Yet, these risks are the consequences of an inability to experience fully and authentically the meaning of the innovations. For this reason reflection on the languages developed by the new technologies is urgently necessary.

The starting point is the Revelation which bears witness to us of how, until his full manifestation of self in the Incarnate Son, God communicated his marvels precisely through language and the real experience of human beings, “according to the culture proper to each age” (Gaudium et Spes GS 58).

Faith never fails to penetrate, enrich, exalt and invigorate culture; and culture, in its turn, becomes a vehicle of faith to which it offers the language for thinking and expressing itself. Hence, if we are to be attentive to God’s work in the world, we must listen attentively to the language of the people of our time.

In this context the work the Pontifical Council for Social Communications carries out in deepening the knowledge of “digital culture” is important. It stimulates and sustains reflection for a greater awareness of the challenges that lie in store for the ecclesial and civil communities. It is not only a matter of expressing the Gospel message in contemporary language; it is also necessary to have the courage to think more deeply — as happened in other epochs — about the relationship between faith, the life of the Church and the changes human beings are experiencing.

It is also the commitment to helping all those who have responsibilities in the Church to understand, interpret and speak the “new language” of the media in their pastoral duties (cf. Aetatis Novae, n. 2) and in dialogue with the contemporary world, asking themselves: what challenges does “digital thought” pose to faith and theology? What questions and requests?

The world of communications involves the entire cultural, social and spiritual universe of the human person. If the new languages have an impact on the way of thinking and living, this in some way also concerns the world of faith and the understanding and expression of it. According to a classical definition theology means the understanding of faith and we know well that understanding, perceived as reflective and critical knowledge, is not alien to the cultural changes that are under way.

The digital culture presents new challenges to our ability to speak and listen to a symbolic language that talks about transcendence. In proclaiming the Kingdom Jesus himself knew how to use elements of the culture and environment of his time: the flock, tents, the banquet, seeds, and so forth. Today we are called to discover also in the digital culture symbols and metaphors which are meaningful to people and can be of help in talking about the Kingdom of God to contemporary man.

The fact that communication in the times of the “new media” entails an ever more usual relationship between the human being and machines, from the computer to cell phones, to mention only the most common, is also food for thought. What will be the effects of this constant relationship?

In former times Pope Paul vi, referring to the first plans for the automation of the linguistic analysis of the biblical text, pointed out a track for reflection when he asked himself: “Is not this effort to imbue in mechanical instruments the reflection of spiritual duties, ennobled and uplifted to a service which touches the sacred? Is it the spirit which is made a prisoner of matter or is it matter, already tamed and obliged to carry out laws of the spirit, which perhaps offers sublime deference to the spirit itself?” (Address at the Automation Centre of the Aloisianum, Gallarate, 19 June 1964). It is possible to discern in these words the profound link with the human spirit to which technology is called by vocation (cf. Encyclical Caritas in Veritate ).

It is precisely the appeal to spiritual values that will make it possible to promote communication that is truly human: over and above every facile form of enthusiasm or scepticism, we know that it is a response to the call impressed upon our nature as beings created in the image and likeness of the God of communion.

For this reason biblical communion in accordance with God’s will is always linked to dialogue and to responsibility as, for example, the figures of Abraham, Moses, Job and the Prophets testify and never to linguistic seduction as, instead, is the case of the serpent, or of incommunicability and violence, as in the case of Cain.

The contribution of believers will then be of help to the world of the media itself by unfolding horizons of meaning and value that the digital culture alone can neither foresee nor portray.

To conclude, alongside many other communicators, I would like to remember Fr Matteo Ricci, the fourth centenary of whose death we celebrated. He was a protagonist of Gospel proclamation in China in the modern age. In his work disseminating Christ’s message, he always considered individual people and their cultural and philosophical context, values, and language, accepting everything positive to be found in his or her tradition, and offering to enliven and uplift it with the wisdom and truth of Christ.

Dear friends, I thank you for your service; I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary and, as I assure you of my prayers, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all.
March 2011
Speeches 2005-13 419