Speeches 2005-13 536



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

It is a cause of joy to me to meet with you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly and to express to you my appreciation of the service you carry out for the Church and, in a special way, for the Successor of Peter in his ministry of strengthening the brethren in the faith (cf. Lc 22,32). I thank Cardinal William Levada for his cordial greeting, in which he recalled several important tasks that the Dicastery has carried out in recent years. And I am particularly grateful to the Congregation which, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, is preparing for the Year of Faith, seeing it as a favourable moment to repropose to all the gift of faith in the Risen Christ, through the enlightened teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the precious doctrinal synthesis offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

As we know, in vast areas of the earth faith risks being extinguished, like a flame that is no longer fed. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of the religious sense that constitutes the greatest challenge to the Church today. The renewal of faith must therefore take priority in the commitment of the entire Church in our time. I hope that the Year of Faith will contribute, with the cordial cooperation of all the members of the People of God, to making God present in this world once again and to giving men and women access to the faith to entrust themselves to the God who loved us to the very end (cf. Jn 13,1), in Jesus Christ, Crucified and Risen.

The theme of Christian unity is closely linked to this task. I would therefore like to reflect on several doctrinal aspects concerning the ecumenical path of the Church, which has been the object of deep reflection at this Plenary Meeting, which coincides with the conclusion of the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In fact, the impetus of the ecumenical endeavour must spring from “spiritual ecumenism”, the “soul of the whole ecumenical movement” (Unitatis Redintegratio UR 8), which is found in the spirit of the prayer that “they may all be one” (Jn 17,21).

The coherence of the ecumenical endeavour with the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and with the entire Tradition, has been one of the areas to which the Congregation has always paid attention, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Today we can note the many good fruit yielded by ecumenical dialogue. However, we must also recognize that the risk of a false irenism and of indifferentism — totally foreign to the thinking of the Second Vatican Council — demands our vigilance.

This indifferentism is caused by the increasingly widespread opinion that truth is not accessible to man; hence it is necessary to limit oneself to finding rules for a praxis that can better the world. And like this, faith becomes substituted by a moralism without deep foundations. The centre of true ecumenism is, on the contrary, the faith in which the human being finds the truth which is revealed in the Word of God. Without faith the entire ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of “social contract” to which to adhere out of common interest, a “praxeology”, in order to create a better world. The logic of the Second Vatican Council is quite different: the sincere search for the full unity of all Christians is a dynamic inspired by the Word of God, by the divine Truth who speaks to us in this word.

The crucial problem which marks ecumenical dialogue transversally is therefore the question of the structure of revelation — the relationship between Sacred Scripture, the living Tradition in Holy Church and the Ministry of the Successors of the Apostles as a witness of true faith. And in this case the problem of ecclesiology which is part of this problem is implicit: how God’s truth reaches us.

Fundamental here is the discernment between Tradition with a capital “T” and traditions. I do not want to go into detail but merely to make an observation. An important step in this discernment was made in the preparation and application of the provisions for groups of the Anglican Communion who wish to enter into full communion with the Church, in the unity of our common and essential divine Tradition, maintaining their own spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions which are in conformity with the Catholic faith (cf. Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus, art. III). Indeed, a spiritual richness exists in the different Christian denominations which is an expression of the one faith and a gift to share and to seek together in the Tradition of the Church.

Today, moreover, one of the fundamental questions is the problem of the methods adopted in the various ecumenical dialogues. These too must reflect the priority of faith. Knowing the truth is a right of the conversation partner in every true dialogue. It is a requirement of love for one’s brother or sister. In this sense, it is necessary to face controversial issues courageously, always in a spirit of brotherhood and in reciprocal respect. It is also important to offer a correct interpretation of that order or “hierarchy” which exists in Catholic doctrine, observed in the Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio (n. 11), which in no way means reducing the deposit of the faith but rather bringing out its internal structure, the organic nature of this unique structure. The study documents produced by the various ecumenical dialogues are very important. These texts cannot be ignored because they are an important, if temporary, fruit of our common reflection developed over the years. Nevertheless their proper significance should be recognized as a contribution offered to the competent Authority of the Church, which alone is called to judge them definitively. To ascribe to these texts a binding or as it were definitive solution to the thorny questions of the dialogues without the proper evaluation of the ecclesial Authority, would ultimately hinder the journey toward full unity in faith.

Finally, I would like to mention one last matter: the moral problem, which is a new challenge to the ecumenical process. In the dialogue we cannot ignore the great moral questions regarding human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace. It will be important to speak about these topics with one voice, drawing from the foundations in Scripture and in the living Tradition of the Church. This Tradition helps us to decipher the language of the Creator in his creation. In defending the fundamental values of the Church’s great Tradition, we defend the human being, we defend creation.

At the end of these reflections, my hope is that a close and fraternal collaboration of the Congregation with the competent Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, may effectively further the reestablishment of full unity among all Christians. Indeed, the division among Christians, “openly contradicts the will of Christ, scandalizes the world, and damages that most holy cause, the preaching of the Gospel to every creature” (Decree on Ecumenism, Unitatis Redintegratio UR 1).

Unity is therefore not only the fruit of faith but also a means and as it were a presupposition for proclaiming the faith ever more credibly to those who do not yet know the Saviour. Jesus prayed: “that they may all be one; even as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me” (Jn 17,21).

As I once again express to you my gratitude for your service, I assure you of my constant spiritual closeness and cordially impart to all of you the Apostolic Blessing. Many Thanks.
Febbraio 2012


Dear Friends,

It gives me joy to greet you and to welcome you. I thank Cardinal Sarah, the legal representative of the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, as President of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”, for the beautiful words he has just addressed to me. I greet Bishop Bassène, President of the Administrative Council, and all of you who cooperate in this great work of charity. I also address my greetings and gratitude to the representatives of the German and Italian Bishops’ Conferences for their contributions, which go a long way to making the Foundation work.

God took flesh. Has there ever been any greater act of love? Everything that is happening today and that has continued to happen since the day when God was made man is certainly a sign of this. God never ceases to love us and to be incarnate through his Church in all the parts of the world.

Nor has the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel, which came into being almost 30 years ago and was desired by my Blessed Predecessor, ceased to pursue this goal: to be a sign of Christian charity which is embodied and becomes witnessing to Christ.

The Foundation likewise wishes to express the Pope’s presence to our African brothers and sisters who live in the Sahel. This is the Institution’s spirit! For years it has implemented countless projects to counter desertification. This Foundation’s existence demonstrates the great humanity of my Blessed Predecessor whose idea it was.

However, this work will not be fully effective unless it is watered by prayer. For God alone is the source and power of life. He is the Creator of the waters (cf. Gen Gn 1,6-9). Unfortunately, the Sahel has been seriously threatened once again in recent months by a major reduction of food resources and by a famine, caused by the shortage of rain and the resulting relentless encroachment of the desert.

I urge the international community to take serious action to relieve the extreme poverty of these peoples whose living conditions are deteriorating. I would also like to encourage and support the efforts of the ecclesial bodies working in this field. Charity must motivate all our actions. It is not a question of wanting to create a “made to measure” world but, rather, is a matter of loving. For this reason the Church’s priority vocation is not to transform the political order or to change the social fabric. She wants to contribute Christ’s light. It is he who will transform all things and all people. It is because of and for Jesus Christ that the Christian contribution is so specific. Islam exists in some of the countries that you represent. I know that you have good relations with the Muslims and I rejoice in this. Witnessing that Christ is alive and that his love goes beyond all religions, races and cultures, is also important in their regard.

Africa is often described in a belittling and humiliating way as the continent of infinite and insoluble wars and problems. On the contrary, the Africa which today accepts the Good News is the continent of hope for the Church. For us, for you, Africa is the continent of the future. I repeat the exhortation I made during my recent Visit to Benin: “Africa, Good News for the Church, become Good News for the entire world!”.

In order to carry out this task and after 28 years of activity, the Foundation needs to be brought up to date and to be renewed. In this it is assisted by the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum”. This renewal must concern in the first place the Christian and professional formation of people who are working on the spot, in a certain way they are the Holy Father’s tools in these regions. I consider as a priority the Christian education and formation of all who — in one way or another — cooperate in making more visible this great sign of charity, the John Paul II Foundation for the Sahel.

If it is to be effective, this renewal must begin with personal prayer and conversion. May the Virgin Mary and Blessed John Paul II help us! Many thanks!




Seminary Chapel
Wednesday, 15 February 2012

Your Eminence,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Seminarians,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the day of Our Lady of Trust, it gives me great joy to see my seminarians, the seminarians of Rome, on their way towards the priesthood and thus to see the Church of the future, the Church which is ever alive.

Today we have heard a text — we hear it and we meditate upon it — from the Letter to the Romans: Paul speaks to the Romans and therefore speaks to us, because he is speaking to Romans of all the epochs. This Letter is not only St Paul’s greatest, but it is also extraordinary because of its doctrinal and spiritual weight. And it is extraordinary because it is a letter written to a community he had neither founded nor even visited. He writes to announce his visit and express his desire to visit Rome, and he announces in advance the essential content of his kerygma; in this way he prepares the City for his visit. He writes to this community, with which he is not personally acquainted, because he is the Apostle to the Gentiles — of the transmission of the Gospel of the Jews to the Gentiles — and Rome is the capital of the Gentiles and hence the centre, and the destination of his message too.

The Gospel had to arrive here, so that it might really reach the pagan world. It was to arrive, but in a different way from that which he had imagined. Paul was to arrive in chains for Christ, and even in chains he would feel free to proclaim the Gospel.

In the first chapter of the Letter to the Romans, Paul also says: your faith, the faith of the Church of Rome, is proclaimed in all the world (cf. 1:8). What is memorable about the faith of this Church is that it is proclaimed throughout the world, and we can reflect on the situation today. Today too, a lot is said about the Church of Rome, many things, but let us hope that people are also talking about our faith, about the exemplary faith of this Church, and let us pray the Lord that we may ensure that they do not say many things but speak of the faith of the Church of Rome.

The text that was read (Rm 12,1-2), is the beginning of the fourth and last part of the Letter to the Romans and begins with the word “I appeal to you” (v. 1). It is usually said that it is a question of the moral part that follows the dogmatic part, but in St Paul’s thought and also in his language things cannot be divided in this manner: this word “appeal”, in Greek parakalo, contains within it the word paraklesis — parakletos, it has a depth that goes far beyond morality; it is a term that certainly implies reproof, but also consolation, care for others, fatherly and indeed motherly tenderness; this word “mercy” — in Greek oiktirmon and in Hebrew rachamim, maternal womb — expresses the compassion, kindness and tenderness of a mother. And if Paul is making an appeal, all this is implicit: he speaks from the heart, he speaks with the tenderness of a father’s love and it is not only he who speaks. Paul says: “by the mercies of God” (v. 1): he makes himself an instrument of God’s words, an instrument of Christ’s words; Christ speaks to us with this tenderness, with this fatherly love, with this care for us. And so too he does not only appeal to our morality and our will, but also to the Grace that is in us, an appeal to us to let Grace act. It is, as it were, an action in which the Grace given at Baptism becomes active within us, it must be active within us; thus Grace, the gift of God, and our cooperation go hand in hand.

What is Paul appealing for in this regard? “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (v. 1). “Present your bodies”: he speaks of the liturgy, he speaks of God, of the priority of God but he does not speak of the liturgy as a ceremony, he speaks of the liturgy as life. We ourselves, our body; we in our body and as a body must be liturgy. This is the newness of the New Testament, and we shall see it again later: Christ offers himself and thereby replaces all the other sacrifices. And he wants “to draw” us into the communion of his Body. Our body, with his, becomes God’s glory, becomes liturgy. Hence this term “present” — in Greek parastesai — is not only an allegory; allegorically our life would also be a liturgy but, on the contrary, the true liturgy is that of our body, of our being in the Body of Christ, just as Christ himself made the liturgy of the world, the cosmic liturgy, which strives to draw all people to itself.

“In your body, present your body”: these words indicate man in his totality, indivisible — in the end — between soul and body, spirit and body; in the body we are ourselves and the body enlivened by the soul, the body itself, must be the realization of our worship. And we think — perhaps, I would say, each one of us should then reflect on these words — that our daily life in our body, in the small things, must be inspired, profuse, immersed in the divine reality, it must become action together with God. This does not mean that we must always be thinking of God, but that we must really be penetrated by the reality of God so that our whole life — and not only a few thoughts — may be a liturgy, may be adoration.

Then Paul tells us: “Present your bodies as a living sacrifice” (v. 1): the Greek term is logike latreia and it then appears in the Roman Canon, in the First Eucharistic Prayer, “rationabile obsequium”. It is a new definition of worship but is prepared for both in the Old Testament and in Greek philosophy; they are two rivers — so to speak — that flow towards this point and converge in the new liturgy of Christians and of Christ. In the Old Testament: from the outset they understood that God did not need bulls, rams, and such things. In Psalm 50[49], God says: Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls or drink the blood of goats? I have no need of these things, I do not like them. I do not drink and eat these things. They are not a sacrifice for me. Sacrifice is praise of God, if you come to me it is thanksgiving to God (cf. vv. 13-15, 23). Thus the Old Testament route leads towards a point in which these external things, symbols and substitutions, disappear and man himself becomes praise of God.

The same happens in the world of Greek philosophy. Here too one understands increasingly that it is not possible to glorify God with these things — animals or offerings — but that only the “logos” of man, his reason having become the glory of God is really worship, and the idea is that man must come out of himself and unite with the “Logos”, with the great Reason of the world and thus truly be worship. However, here there is something missing: man, according to this philosophy, must — so to speak — leave his body, he must be spiritualized; only the spirit would be adoration. Christianity, on the contrary, is not simply spiritualization or moralization: it is incarnation, that is, Christ is the “Logos” he is the incarnate Word and he gathers all of us so that in him and with him, in his Body, as members of this Body, we really become a glorification of God.

Let us keep this in mind: on the one hand of course, to emerge from these material things for a more spiritual conception of the worship of God, but on the other to arrive at the incarnation of the spirit, to arrive at the point in which our body is assumed into the Body of Christ and our praise of God is not purely words, purely activities, but the reality of our whole life. I think that we must reflect on this and pray to God to help us so that his spirit may take flesh in us too, and our flesh may become full of God’s Spirit.

We also find the same reality in the fourth chapter of St John’s Gospel where the Lord says to the Samaritan woman: in the future people will not worship on this mountain or that, with one rite or another; but they will worship in spirit and in truth (cf. Jn 4,21-23). To come out of these carnal rites is of course spiritualization, but this spirit, this truth, is not any kind of abstract spirit: the spirit is the Holy Spirit, and the truth is Christ. Worshipping in spirit and truth really means to enter through the Holy Spirit into the Body of Christ, into the truth of being. And thus we become truth and we become a glorification of God. Becoming truth in Christ demands our total involvement.

And then let us continue: “Holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Rm 12,1). The second verse: after this fundamental definition of our life as the liturgy of God, the incarnation of the Word in us, every day, with Christ — the Incarnate Word — St Paul continues: “Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (v. 2). “Do not be conformed to this world”. There is the non-conformism of Christians who do not let themselves be conformed. This does not mean that we want to flee from the world, that the world does not interest us: on the contrary we want to transform ourselves and to let ourselves be transformed, thereby transforming the world. And we must bear in mind that in the New Testament, especially in the Gospel according to St John, the word “world” has two meanings and thus points to the problem and to the reality concerned. On one side is the “world” created by God, loved by God, to the point that he gives himself and his Son for this world; the world is a creature of God, God loves it and wants to give himself so that it may really be a creation and respond to his love. But there is also the other conception of the “world” kosmos houtos: the world that is in evil, that is in the power of evil, that reflects original sin. We see this power of evil today, for example, in two great powers which are useful and good in themselves but can easily be abused: the power of finance and the power of the media. Both are necessary, because they can be useful, but are so easy to abuse that they frequently convey the opposite of their true intentions.

We see that the world of finance can dominate the human being, that possessions and appearance dominate the world and enslave it. The world of finance is no longer an instrument to foster well-being, to foster human life, but becomes a power that oppresses it, that almost demands worship: “Mammon”, the real false divinity that dominates the world. To counter this conformism of submission to this power we must be non-conformist: “having” does not count, it is “being” that counts! Let us not submit to the former, let us use it as a means, but with the freedom of God’s children.

Then the other, the power of public opinion. Of course we need information, we need knowledge of world affairs, but then it can be a power of appearance; in the end, what is said counts more than the reality itself. An appearance is superimposed on reality, it becomes more important, and man no longer follows the truth of his being, but wishes above all to appear, to be in conformity with these realities. And Christian non-conformism is also against this: we do not always wish “to be conformed”, to be praised, we do not want appearances, but the truth, and this gives us freedom and true Christian freedom; in freeing ourselves from this need to please, to speak as the masses think we ought to, in order to have the freedom of truth and thus to recreate the world in such a way that it is not oppressed by opinion, by appearances which no longer allow the reality to emerge; the virtual world becomes more real, stronger, and the real world of God’s Creation is no longer seen. The non-conformism of the Christian redeems us, restores the truth to us. Let us pray the Lord that he help us to be free people in this non-conformism which is not against the world but is true love of the world.

And St Paul continues: “Be transformed by the renewal of your mind” (v. 2). Two very important words: “to transform”, from the Greek metamorphon, and “to renew”, in Greek anakainosis. Transforming ourselves, letting ourselves be transformed by the Lord into the form of the image of God, transforming ourselves every day anew, through his reality into the truth of our being. And “renewal”; this is the true novelty which does not subject us to opinions, to appearances, but to the Grace of God, to his revelation. Let us permit ourselves to be formed, to be molded, so that the image of God really appears in the human being.

“By the renewal”, St Paul says, in a way I find surprising, “of your mind”. Therefore this renewal, this transformation, begins with the renewal of thought. St Paul says “o nous”: our entire way of reasoning, reason itself must be renewed. Renewed not according to the usual categories but to renew means truly allowing ourselves to be illuminated by the Truth that speaks to us in the Word of God. And so, finally, to learn the new way of thinking, which is that way which does not obey power and possessing, appearances, etc., but obeys the truth of our being that dwells in our depths and that is given to us anew in Baptism.

“The renewal of your mind”; every day is a task proper to the process of studying theology, of preparing for the priesthood. Studying theology well, spiritually, thinking about it deeply, meditating on Scripture every day; this way of studying theology, listening to God himself who speaks to us is the way to the renewal of thought, to the transformation of our being and of the world. And lastly, “Let us do everything” according to Paul, “to be able to discern God’s will, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (cf. v. 2). Discerning God’s will: we can only learn this in a humble and obedient journey with the Word of God, with the Church, with the Sacraments, with meditation on Sacred Scripture. Knowing and discerning God’s will, all that is good. This is fundamental in our life.

Moreover on the day of Our Lady of Trust, we see in Our Lady the very reality of all this, the person who is really new, who is really transformed, who is really a living sacrifice. Our Lady sees the will of God, she lives in God’s will, she says “yes”, and this “yes” of Our Lady is the whole of her being and thus she shows us the way, she helps us.

Consequently on this day, let us pray to Our Lady who is the living icon of the new man. May she help us to transform, to let our being be transformed, to truly be new men, then later, if God wishes, to be Pastors of his Church. Many thanks.


Dear Cardinals,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am glad to receive you at the end of the Symposium of the Bishops of Africa and Europe and I greet you all with great affection, in particular Cardinal Péter Erdö, President of the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences, and Cardinal Polycarp Pengo, President of the Symposium of the Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Madagascar, thanking them for their courteous greeting with which they opened our meeting. I express my heartfelt appreciation to all those who promoted the study days during which you have addressed the topic of evangelization today in your countries, in the light of the reciprocal communion and pastoral collaboration that was established during the First Symposium in the year 2004.

With you, I thank God for the spiritual fruits that have flowed from the relationships of friendship and cooperation among the ecclesial communities of your Continents in the course of these years. Beginning from different cultural, social and economic environments, you have made the most of the common apostolic elan to proclaim Jesus Christ and his Gospel to your people in the context of an “exchange of gifts”. Continue on this fruitful path of active brotherhood and joint intentions, widening ever more the horizons of evangelization. For the Church in Europe, in fact, the meeting with the Church in Africa is always a moment of grace because of the hope and joy with which the African ecclesial communities live and communicate the faith, as I have been able to note on my Apostolic Journeys. Moreover, it is wonderful to see how the Church in Africa, though living amid so many difficulties and in need of peace and reconciliation, is willing to share her faith.

In the relations between the Church in Africa and the Church in Europe, you must take care to remember the fundamental bond between faith and charity, so that they may illumine one another in their truth. Charity fosters openness and encounter with the people of today, in their concrete reality, to take to them Christ and his love for every person and every family, especially for those who are the poorest and loneliest. “Caritas Christi urget nos” (2Co 5,14); it is in fact the love of Christ that fills hearts and impels us to evangelize. The divine Teacher, today as then, sends his disciples on the highways of the world to proclaim his message of salvation to all the peoples of the earth (cf. Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, n. 7).

The challenges you have before you today are demanding. I am thinking, in the first place, of religious indifference, which leads many people to live as if God did not exist or to be content with a vague sense of religion, incapable of contending with the question of truth and the duty of coherence. Today, especially in Europe, but also in some parts of Africa, one feels the weight of the secularized environment, often hostile to the Christian faith. Another challenge to Gospel proclamation is hedonism, which has contributed to making the crisis of values penetrate daily life, the structure of the family, and the very way of interpreting the meaning of life. Symptomatic of a situation of grave social unease is also the spread of phenomena such as pornography and prostitution. You are well aware of these challenges, which stir your pastoral awareness and your sense of responsibility. They must not discourage you but, rather, must be an opportunity to renew your commitment and hope, the hope that is born from the awareness that the night is far gone and the day is at hand (cf. Rom Rm 13,12), because the Risen Christ is always with us. In the societies of Africa and Europe there are numerous good forces, many of whom are active in the parishes and are outstanding for their commitment to personal holiness and to the apostolate. I hope that, with your help, they will be able to become increasingly the living and vital cells of the New Evangelization.

May the family be the centre of your attention as Pastors: the domestic Church is also the best guarantee for the renewal of society. The family, which preserves customs, traditions, habits, rites permeated by faith, is the most appropriate terrain for the flowering of vocations. Today's consumerist mentality may have negative repercussions on the awakening and care of vocations; hence the need to pay particular attention to the promotion of priestly vocations and special consecrations. The family is also the formative fulcrum of youth. Europe and Africa need generous young people, who can take their future in a responsible way, and all the Institutions must be well aware that these young people represent the future and that it is important to do everything possible to ensure that their path is not marked by uncertainty and darkness. Dear Brothers, follow with special care their human and spiritual growth, also by encouraging initiatives to do volunteer work that can have educational value.

The cultural dimension plays an important role in the formation of the new generations. You know well how highly the Church esteems and promotes every genuine form of culture, to which she offers the richness of the Word of God and of the grace that flows from the Paschal Mystery of Christ. The Church respects every discovery of truth, because all truth comes from God, but she knows that the gaze of faith fixed on Christ opens human minds and hearts to the First Truth, which is God. Thus culture nourished by faith leads to true humanization, whereas false cultures lead to de-humanization: we have had sad examples in Europe and Africa. Culture, therefore, must be a constant concern in your pastoral action, always remembering that the light of the Gospel, inserted in the cultural fabric, raises it and multiplies its riches.

Dear friends, your Symposium has offered you the occasion to reflect on the problems of the Church on the two Continents. They are certainly never lacking and at times are considerable; but, on the other hand, they are also the proof that the Church is alive, that she is growing, and is not afraid to fulfil her evangelizing mission. Because of this, she is in need of prayer and of the commitment of all the faithful; in fact, evangelization is an integral part of the vocation of all the baptized, which is a vocation to holiness. Christians who have a lively faith and are open to the action of the Holy Spirit become witnesses with the word and life of the Gospel of Christ. However Pastors are entrusted with a special responsibility. Hence, “your own holiness must be outstanding, to the benefit of those entrusted to your pastoral care, those whom you must serve. Your life of prayer will nourish your apostolate from within. The bishop must be someone in love with Christ. The moral authority and the prestige that uphold the exercise of your juridical power can only come from the holiness of your life” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Africae Munus, n. 100).

I entrust your spiritual resolutions and your pastoral projects to the intercession of Mary, Star of Evangelization, while imparting to you, to the Bishops’ Conferences of Africa and Europe and to all your priests and faithful, a special, heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 2005-13 536