Speeches 2005-13 428


TO MEMBERS OF THE ASSOCIATION PRO PETRI SEDE Consistory Hall Friday, 11 March 2011

Dear Friends,

I welcome you with joy this morning while you are making your pilgrimage to the See of Peter. You have come to strengthen your Christian life and to renew your commitment to serve so many people whom the Pro Petri Sede Association helps with great generosity.

Together with the whole Church we have just entered the Season of Lent. This season gives priority to the interior pilgrimage toward the One who is the “Light of the world”.

Indeed we need to let ourselves be enlightened by Christ so that, feeling the urgency of our responsibility for the poor of our time, we in turn may direct to them the gaze that restores trust and unfolds the horizons of blessed eternity.

For each one is called to the salvation won by Christ’s victory over all the evil that oppresses man. The Lenten Season is a time of fasting, prayer and sharing (cf . Mt Mt 6,1-18).

By helping to fight poverty, sharing and almsgiving we come closer to others. As you know, giving is nothing without the love that motivates it and the bonds of brotherhood it weaves. Thus in acting charitably we express the truth of our being, for there is greater joy in giving than in receiving (cf . Acts Ac 20,35), and we demonstrate the unity of the twofold commandment of love. In fact, in sharing with our neighbour we experience through the joy we receive that fullness of life comes from the love of God. Consequently almsgiving brings us close to God and invites us to conversion.

The generous offering you have brought to the Successor of Peter today enables him to aid the peoples who have been so harshly tried in recent times, particularly the people of Haiti. The service of charity is part of the Church’s very nature. It is a vivid expression of God’s solicitude for all human beings. By bringing them indispensable material aid, the Church can also bring the heartfelt attention and love urgently needed by people who are so sorely tried.

I therefore thank you warmly on their behalf for the support you express to them in the fight against all that demeans and debases the dignity of each person, “created in the image of God”.

Dear friends, may you be everywhere luminous and effective witnesses of the hope that God’s love gives! As I entrust each one of you and your families, as well as the members of your Association, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St Peter and to the Saints of your country, I wholeheartedly impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.


Distinguished Mayors,

I address my cordial greeting to you all and I thank you for coming, now a long-standing tradition. This is testified by the Audiences granted to you by Venerable John Paul II and by previous Pontiffs, as the President of the Association mentioned. I thank him for the fine words full of realism — as well as of poetry and beauty — with which he introduced our Meeting.

This tradition testifies to the special bond that exists between the Pope, Bishop of Rome and Primate of Italy, and the Italian Nation, one of whose characteristics is, precisely, its many colourful towns and villages.

The first idea that springs to mind in meeting Representatives of the National Association of Italian Municipalities is that of their origin, the expression of a community which meets, enters into dialogue, celebrates and plans together, a community of believers which celebrates the Sunday Liturgy and gathers afterwards in the squares of the ancient towns or, in country places, outside the village church.

In an ode to the people of Carnia, [Giosuè] Carducci, an Italian poet, once recalled: “I see in the grazing season the rustic virtue of the commune, set in the enveloping, opaque cool. Following the harvest, the day of festivity...”.

Today too we feel the need to live in a brotherly community where, for example, even amidst the many tensions and sufferings of modern life the parish and the municipality are at the same time architects of a just and supportive modus vivendi.

The multiplicity of people and situations is not in contradiction with the national Unity, recalled by the 150th anniversary that is being commemorated. Unity and plurality, at different levels, including the ecclesiological level, are reciprocally enriching values if they are kept in the proper reciprocal balance.

Two principles that permit this harmonious coexistence of unity and plurality are subsidiariety and solidarity, which are characteristic of the Church’s social teaching. The subject of this social doctrine consists of truths that do not belong exclusively to the patrimony of believers but are rationally accessible to everyone.

Moreover, I reflected on these principles in the Encyclical Caritatis in Veritate, where the principle of subsidariety is considered to be an “expression of inalienable human freedom”. Indeed, “subsidariety is first and foremost a form of assistance to the human person via the autonomy of intermediate bodies. Such assistance is offered when individuals or groups are unable to accomplish something on their own, and it is always designed to achieve their emancipation, because it fosters freedom and participation through assumption of responsibility” (n. 57).

“Hence the principle of subsidiarity is particularly well-suited to managing globalization and directing it toward authentic human development” (ibid.).

The principle of subsidiariety must remain closely linked to the principle of solidarity and vice versa, since the former without the latter gives way to social privatism, while the latter without the former gives way to paternalist social assistance that is demeaning to those in need” (n. 58).

These principles should also be applied at the municipal level, in a dual sense: in relations with the public authorities of the State, Region and Province, as well as in the relationship of the municipal authorities with the social bodies and with the intermediate groups present in the territory.

Such groups carry out highly useful social work, since they advocate humanization and socialization and are especially dedicated to the marginalized and the deprived. They also include numerous church bodies, such as parishes, after-school recreation, religious houses, Catholic educational institutes and those that provide social assistance. I hope that this invaluable activity will always meet with the proper appreciation and support, also in financial terms.

In this regard I would like to reaffirm that the Church demands no privileges but only asks to be able to carry out her mission freely, as effective respect for religious freedom requires. In Italy religious freedom permits the collaboration that exists between the civil and ecclesial communities. Unfortunately in other countries Christian minorities are all too often victims of discrimination and persecution.

I wish to express my appreciation of the motion that was unanimously approved on 3 February 2011 by your National Council, with the invitation to sensitize to these phenomena those Municipalities that belong to the Association and at the same time to reinforce the “undeniable character of religious freedom as the foundation for free and peaceful coexistence among peoples”.

I would like to emphasize further the importance of the topic of “citizenship” which you have placed at the centre of your work. On this theme the Church in Italy is developing a rich reflection, especially since the Ecclesial Convention in Verona, because citizenship is one of the fundamental contexts of the life and coexistence of peoples.

The upcoming National Eucharistic Congress in Ancona will also dedicate a day to this important subject, to which, as we have been informed, the Mayors of Italy have appropriately been invited.

Citizenship today fits exactly into the context of globalization which is characterized among other things by immense migratory flows. In the face of this situation, as I mentioned earlier, must be combined solidarity and respect for the law, so that social coexistence may not be disturbed and that importance be given to the principles of law and the cultural and religious traditions at the origin of the Italian nation.

As local administrators who are close to the daily life of the people, you are particularly aware of this need. Special dedication is asked of you in the public service you carry out for citizens, so that you may champion collaboration, solidarity and humanity.

History has given us the example of Mayors who, with their prestige and dedication, left a mark on the life of their communities, as you rightly recalled Giorgio La Pira, an exemplary Christian and an esteemed public administrator.

May this tradition continue to bear fruit for the good of the country and its citizens! I assure you of my prayers for this and I beseech you, dear friends, to trust in the Lord for, as the Psalm says, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain” (127[126]:1).

As I invoke the motherly intercession of the Virgin Mary, venerated by the Italian people at her many Shrines, places of spirituality, art and culture, and of the holy Patrons Francis of Assisi and Catherine of Siena, I bless you all, your collaborators and the entire Italian Nation.


BENEDICT XVI "Redemptoris Mater" Chapel Saturday, 19 March 2011

Dear Brothers,
Dear Fr Léthel,

At the end of this journey of reflection, meditation and prayer in the company of the holy friends of Pope John Paul II, I would like to say to with all my heart: thank you, Fr Léthel, for your firm guidance and for the spiritual riches you have given us. You have shown the saints to us as “stars” in the firmament of history and, with your enthusiasm and joy, you have inserted us in the circle of these saints and have shown us that it is precisely the “little” saints who are “great” saints. You have shown us that the scientia fidei and the scientia amoris go hand in hand and complete one another, that great reason and great love go hand in hand, indeed that great love sees more than reason alone.

Providence wanted these Exercises to conclude with the Feast of St Joseph, my personal Patron and the Patron of Holy Church: a humble saint, a humble worker who was made worthy to be the Custodian of the Redeemer.

St Matthew describes St Joseph with one word: he was a “just” man, “dikaios”, from “dike”, and in the vision of the Old Testament, as we find it, for example, in Psalm 1; the man who is immersed in the word of God, who lives in the word of God and does not experience the Law as a “yoke” but rather as a “joy”, who dwells in — we might say — the Law as a “Gospel”. St Joseph was just, he was immersed in the word of God, written and transmitted through the wisdom of his people, and he was trained and called in this very way to know the Incarnate Word — the Word who came among us as a man — and was predestined to look after, to protect this Incarnate Word; this remained his mission for ever: to look after Holy Church and Our Lord.

Let us entrust ourselves at this moment to his care, let us pray that he may help us in our humble service. Let us go ahead courageously under this protection. We are grateful for the humble saints, and let us pray the Lord to make us too humble in our service and thereby holy in the company of the saints.

Once again my thanks to you, Fr Léthel, for your inspiration. Thank you!


Dear Brother Bishops,

I welcome all of you here today on the occasion of your pilgrimage ad Limina Apostolorum. I thank His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis for the devoted sentiments which he has addressed to me in your name. Through you, I extend greetings to all the priests, religious and lay faithful of your eparchies, and I wish to assure them of my prayers for their spiritual and material well-being. This time together is a privileged occasion to deepen the bonds of fraternity and communion between the See of Peter and the Syro-Malankara Church, happily promoted to Major Archiepiscopal Church by the Venerable John Paul II in 2005.

The apostolic traditions which you maintain enjoy their full spiritual fruitfulness when they are lived in union with the Church universal. In this sense, you rightly follow in the footsteps of the Servant of God Mar Ivanios, who led your predecessors and their faithful into full communion with the Catholic Church. Like your forefathers, you too are called, within the one household of God, to continue in firm fidelity to that which has been passed down to you. All Catholic Bishops share a proper concern for faithfulness to Jesus Christ and are desirous of that unity which he willed for his disciples (cf. Jn 17,11), while preserving their legitimate diversity. So it is that “the Catholic Church wishes the traditions of each particular Church or rite to remain whole and entire, and she likewise wishes to adapt her own way of life to the various needs of time and place” (Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 2). Each generation must confront the challenges to the Church in accordance with its capacities and in harmony with the rest of the Mystical Body of Christ. I encourage you, therefore, to foster an affection among your priests and people for the liturgical and spiritual heritage that has come down to you, while steadfastly building upon your communion with the See of Peter.

The deposit of faith handed down from the Apostles and faithfully transmitted to our times is a precious gift from the Lord. It is that message of salvation which has been revealed in the person of Jesus whose Spirit unites believers of every time and place, giving us fellowship with the Father and with his Son so that our joy may be complete (cf. 1Jn 1,1-4). You and your priests are called to promote this fellowship through word and sacrament, and to strengthen it by a sound catechesis, so that the Word of Life, Jesus Christ, and the gift of divine life - communion with him - may be known throughout the world (cf. Verbum Domini, 2). Due to its ancient roots and distinguished history, Christianity in India has long made its proper contribution to culture and society, and to its religious and spiritual expressions. It is through a determination to live the Gospel, “the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith” (Rm 1,16), that those whom you serve will make a more effective contribution to the entire body of Christ and to Indian society, to the benefit of all. May your people continue to flourish by the preaching of God’s word and by the promotion of a fellowship based on the love of God.

I note the particular challenges to many of your parishes in providing proper pastoral care and mutual support, especially when there is not always a parish priest at hand. And yet, smaller parishes, bearing in mind the social reality Christians face in the broader cultural context, present their own opportunities for truly fraternal upbuilding and assistance. Small Christian communities have often, as you know, given outstanding witness in the history of the Church. Just as in apostolic times, the Church in our age will surely thrive in the presence of the living Christ, who has promised to be with us always (cf. Mt 28,20) and to sustain us (cf. 1Co 1,8). It is this divine presence which must remain at the centre of your people’s life, faith and witness, and which you their Pastors are called to watch over so that, even if they must live far from their community, they will not live far from Christ. Indeed, it is important to remember that Christian communities are “the proper setting where a personal and communal journey based on the word of God can occur and truly serve as the basis for our spiritual life” (Verbum Domini, 72).

One of the ways in which you exercise your role as teachers of the faith to the Christian community is through the catechetical and faith formation programmes taking place under your direction. Since “instruction should be based on holy scripture, tradition, liturgy, and on the teaching authority and life of the Church” (Christus Dominus CD 14), I am pleased to note the variety and number of programmes that you currently employ. Along with the celebration of the sacraments, such programmes will help ensure that those in your care will always be able to give an account of the hope which is theirs in Christ. Indeed, catechesis and spiritual development are among the most important challenges which pastors of souls face, and so I warmly encourage you to persevere along the path you have chosen as you seek to form your people in a deeper knowledge and love of the faith, aided by God’s grace and by your humble trust in his providence.

With these thoughts, I renew my sentiments of fraternal affection and esteem for you. Invoking the intercession of Saint Thomas the Apostle, India’s great patron, I assure you of my prayers and willingly impart to you and to those entrusted to your care my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Dear Friends,

I am very glad to address to each one of you my most cordial welcome. I greet Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, Major Penitentiary, and I thank him for his courteous words. I greet Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Penitentiary, the personnel, the co-workers and all the participants in the Course on the Internal Forum which has now become a traditional appointment and an important occasion for deepening the knowledge of topics linked to the sacrament of Penance. I would like to reflect with you on an aspect not sufficiently thought about but which is of great spiritual and pastoral importance: the pedagogical value of Sacramental Confession.

Although it is true that it is always necessary to safeguard the objectivity of the effects of the sacrament and its correct celebration in accordance with the norms of the Rite of Penance, it is not out of place to reflect on how much it can educate the faith of both the minister and the penitent. The faithful and generous availability of priests to hear confessions — after the example of the great saints of the past from St John Mary Vianney to St John Bosco, from St Josemaría Escrivá to St Pius of Pietrelcina, from St Joseph Cafasso to St Leopold Mandic — shows all of us that the confessional may be a real “place” of sanctification.

How does the sacrament of Penance educate? In what sense does its celebration have pedagogical value, especially for ministers? We may start by recognizing that the mission of priests is a unique and privileged observation point, from which it is daily granted to contemplate the splendour of divine Mercy. How often in celebrating the sacrament of Penance the priest witnesses real miracles of conversion which, in renewing “the encounter with an event, a person” (Deus Caritas Est ), reinforces his own faith!

Basically, hearing confession means witnessing as many professiones fidei as there are penitents, and contemplating the merciful God’s action in history, feeling tangibly the saving effects of the Cross and of the Resurrection of Christ, in every epoch and for every person.

We are often faced with true and proper existential and spiritual dramas that find no answer in human words but are embraced and taken up by divine Love, which pardons and transforms: “though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Is 1,18).

If, on the one hand knowing and, in a certain way, visiting the depths of the human heart, even its darkest aspects, tests the humanity and the faith of the priest himself, on the other, it fosters within him the certainty that it is God who has the last word over human evil and history, it is his Mercy which can make all things new (cf. Rev Ap 21,5).

Then, how much the priest can learn from exemplary penitents: through their spiritual life, the seriousness with which they carry out their examination of conscience, the transparency with which they admit their sins and their docility to the Church’s teaching and to the confessor’s instructions.

From the administration of the sacrament of Penance we may draw profound lessons of humility and faith! It is a very strong appeal to each priest for knowledge of his own identity. We will never be able to hear the confessions of our brothers and sisters solely by virtue of our humanity! If they approach us, it is only because we are priests, configured to Christ the Eternal High Priest, and enabled to act in his Name and in his Person, to make God who forgives, renews and transforms, truly present. The celebration of the sacrament of Penance has a pedagogical value for the priest, as regards his faith, as well as the truth and poverty of his person, and nourishes within him an awareness of the sacramental identity.

What is the pedagogical value of the sacrament of Penance for penitents? We should state beforehand that first and foremost it depends on the action of Grace and on the objective effect on the soul of the member of the faithful. Of course, sacramental Reconciliation is one of the moments in which personal freedom and an awareness of self need to be expressed particularly clearly. It is perhaps also for this reason, in an epoch of relativism and of the consequent attenuated awareness of one’s being, that this sacramental practice is also weakened.

Examination of conscience has an important pedagogical value. It teaches us how to look squarely at our life, to compare it with the truth of the Gospel and to evaluate it with parameters that are not only human but are also borrowed from divine Revelation. Comparison with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes and, especially, with the Precept of love, constitutes the first great “school of penance”.

In our time, marked by noise, distraction and loneliness, the penitent’s conversation with the confessor can be one of the few — if not the only — opportunities to be truly heard in depth.

Dear priests, do not neglect to allow enough room for the exercise of the ministry of Penance in the confessional: to be welcomed and heard is also a human sign of God’s welcoming kindness to his children.

Moreover the integral confession of sins teaches the penitent humility, recognition of his or her own frailty and, at the same time, an awareness of the need for God’s forgiveness and the trust that divine Grace can transform his life. Likewise, listening to the confessor’s recommendations and advice is important for judging actions, for the spiritual journey and for the inner healing of the penitent.

Let us not forget how many conversions and how many truly holy lives began in a confessional! The acceptance of the penance and listening to the words “I absolve you from your sins”, are, lastly, a true school of love and hope that guides the person to full trust in the God Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, to responsibility and to the commitment to continuous conversion.

Dear priests, our own prior experience of divine Mercy and of being humble instruments teaches us an ever more faithful celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and profound gratitude to God who “gave us the ministry of reconciliation” (2Co 5,18).

I entrust to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mater misericordiae and Refugium peccatorum, the fruits of your Course on the Internal Forum and the ministry of all Confessors, as I bless you all with great affection.



Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very glad to welcome you this morning and to address my cordial greeting to the authorities present, to the men and women workers and to all of you who have come on pilgrimage to the See of Peter. I offer a particular greeting to your Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, whom I thank for the words he has addressed to me also on your behalf. Many of you have come to this gathering — I am sorry that some of you were unable to enter — on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of John Paul II’s Visit to Terni. Today, we are remembering him in a special way for the love he showed for the working world; we almost seem to hear him repeating the first words he spoke on his arrival in Terni: “The principal purpose of this visit, which takes place on St Joseph’s day… is to bring a word of encouragement to all workers” and to “express to them my solidarity, my friendship and my affection” (Speech to the civil authorities, Terni, 19 March 1981). I make these sentiments my own and warmly embrace you all and your families. On the day of my election, I too presented myself with conviction as “a humble worker in the Lord’s vineyard”, and today, together with you, I want to remember all workers and entrust them to the protection of St Joseph the worker.

Terni is marked by the presence of one of the largest steel foundries which has contributed to the growth of employment. A path that brought light, but also difficult moments, like the one that we are experiencing today. The crisis in the industrial world is harshly trying the life of the city that must rethink its future. All this also involves your lives as workers and the lives of your families. In your Bishop’s words I heard the echo of the anxieties you bear in your hearts. I know that the diocesan Church makes them her own and feels the responsibility to be close to you and to communicate the hope of the Gospel and the strength to build a society that is more just and more worthy of humanity. And it does this from the source, from the Eucharist.

In his first Pastoral Letter, The Eucharist Saves the World, your Bishop pointed out to you the source from which to draw and to which to return in order to live the joy of faith and the passion to improve the world. The Sunday Eucharist has thus become the fulcrum of pastoral action in the diocese. It is a choice that has borne fruit; participation in the Sunday Eucharist has grown, which is what your diocese is committed to for the good of the earth. Indeed, from the Eucharist in which Christ makes himself present in his supreme act of love for us all, we learn how live as Christians in society, to make it more welcoming, more supportive, more attentive to the needs of all, especially the neediest, and richer in love.

St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr, defined Christians as those who “live according to Sundays” (iuxta dominicum viventes), or “according to the Eucharist”. Living in a “Eucharistic” way means living as a single Body, a single family, a society built around love. The exhortation to be “Eucharistic” is not a simple moral invitation addressed to single individuals, it is much more: it is the exhortation to participate in the dynamism itself of Jesus who offered his life for others, for us all to be one.

On this horizon there is also the subject of work, which worries you with its problems today, especially that of unemployment. It is important always to remember that work is one of the fundamental elements both of the human person and of society. The difficult or precarious conditions of work make the conditions of society itself difficult and precarious, the conditions of living a life ordered by the common good. As Bishop Paglia reminded us, in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I urged the faithful to “continue to prioritize the goal of access to steady employment for everyone” (n. 32).

I would also like to mention the serious problem of safety in the work-place. I know that you have frequently had to face this dramatic reality. Every effort should be made to break the chain of deaths and accidents. And what can be said about the precariousness of jobs, especially for the young? This is an aspect that creates anxiety in so many families! The Bishop also mentioned the difficult situation of the chemical industry in your city, as well as the problems in the steel sector. I am particularly close to you, placing in God’s hands all your anxieties and concerns, and I hope that in the logic of giving freely and of solidarity these moments may be overcome so that safe, dignified and stable employment may be assured.

Work, dear friends, helps one to be closer to God and to others. Jesus himself was a worker, indeed he spent a large part of his life on earth in Nazareth, in Joseph’s workshop. The Evangelist Matthew reminds us that people spoke of Jesus as “the carpenter’s son” (
Mt 13,55) and John Paul II spoke in Terni of the “Gospel of work”, saying that it was “written particularly by the fact that the Son of God, of the same substance as the Father, on becoming man, worked with his hands. In fact, his work, which was real physical work, occupied most of his life on this earth, and in this way entered the work of redemption of man and of the world” (Address to workers, Terni, 19 March 1981). This already speaks of the dignity of work, indeed of the specific dignity of human work that is integrated into the mystery of redemption itself.

It is important to understand this in the Christian perspective. Instead it is often perceived as a mere means of earning, if not, in different situations in the world, even as a means of exploitation and therefore an offence to the dignity of the person. I would also like to mention the problem of work on Sundays. Unfortunately, in our societies the rhythm of consumerism can even rob us of the sense of festivity and of Sunday as the Day of the Lord and of the community.

Dear men and women workers, dear friends, I would like to end these brief words by saying that the Church supports, comforts and encourages every effort to guarantee safe, dignified and permanent work for all. The Pope is close to you, to your families, your children, your young people and your elderly and bears you in her heart before God. May the Lord bless you, your work and your future. Thank you.


Fosse Ardeatine
Third Sunday of Lent, 27 March 2011

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I very gladly accepted the invitation of the National Association of the Italian Families of the Martyrs who died for the freedom of the Homeland to come on pilgrimage to this Sacrarium, dear to all Italians and in particular to the people of Rome. I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Chief Rabbi, the President of the Association, the General Commissioner, the Director of the Mausoleum and especially the families of the victims, as well as everyone present.

“I believe in God and in Italy / I believe in the resurrection /of the martyrs and heroes / I believe in the rebirth / of the homeland and in the / freedom of the people”. These words were carved on the wall of a torture cell in Via Tasso in Rome during the Nazi occupation. They are the testament of an unknown person who was imprisoned in that cell and show that the human spirit remains free even in the harshest conditions.

“I believe in God and in Italy”: these words struck me too because this year is the 150th Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, but especially because they affirm the primacy of faith, from which to draw trust and hope for Italy and for its future. What happened here on 24 March 1944 gravely offended God, because it was the deliberate violence of man against man. This is a most detestable effect of war, of every war, whereas God is life, peace and communion.

Like my Predecessors, I have come here to pray and to refresh my memory. I have come to invoke divine Mercy which alone can fill the emptiness, the gulf opened by human beings when, driven by blind violence, they deny the very dignity of God’s children, brothers and sisters of each other.

As Bishop of Rome, a city consecrated by the blood of the martyrs of the Gospel of Love, I also come to pay homage to these brethren, killed very close to the ancient catacombs.

“I believe in God and in Italy”. In that testament carved in a place of violence and death, the bond between faith and love of the homeland appears in its full purity, without any rhetoric. Whoever wrote these words did so only out of deep conviction, as the extreme testimony to the truth believed, which makes the human soul royal even in extreme debasement. In this way every man is called to fulfil his own dignity: by testifying to this truth which each recognizes in conscience.

Another testimony impressed me and this was discovered actually inside the Fosse Ardeatine. It is a sheet of paper on which one of those who died had written: “God my great Father, we pray you that you may protect the Jews from barbarous persecution. One Our Father, two Hail Marys, one Glory Be”. At that moment, so tragic, so inhuman, in that person’s heart was the loftiest invocation: “God my great Father”. Father of All! Just as the words on the lips of Jesus, dying on the Cross were “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit”. In that name, “Father”, is the sure guarantee of hope; the possibility of a different future, free from hatred and revenge, a future of freedom and brotherhood, for Rome, for Italy, for Europe, for the world.

Yes, wherever they may be, on every continent, to whatever people they may belong, human beings are children of that Father who is in Heaven, they are brothers or sisters of all in humanity. However, this being a son and a brother is not easy. The Fosse Ardeatine also unfortunately demonstrate this. It is necessary to desire it, it is necessary to say “yes” to goodness and “no” to evil. It is necessary to believe in the God of love and of life and to reject every other false divine image that betrays his holy Name and consequently betrays man, made in his image.

Therefore, in this place, a sorrowful memorial of the most horrendous crime, the truest response is to take one another by the hand, as bothers and sisters, and to say: “Our Father, we believe in you and with the strength of your love we want to walk together, in peace, in Rome, in Italy, in Europe and throughout the world”. Amen.
April 2011
Speeches 2005-13 428