Speeches 2004



Saturday, 4 September 2004

Your Excellency,

It is a pleasure for me to extend a cordial welcome to you today as I accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Canada to the Holy See. My pastoral visits to your country, especially the joyous occasion of World Youth Day 2002 in Toronto, remain clearly etched in my mind. I thank you for the greetings which you bear from the Governor-General and the people of Canada. Please convey to them my heartfelt thanks and assure them of my prayers for the well-being of the nation.

Canada’s generous and practical contributions to the building of a world of peace, justice and prosperity are widely recognized by the international community. Indeed, solidarity with developing nations is a well-known and laudable trait of your people, evidenced, among other things, by your nation’s notable involvement in peace-keeping missions and the production of low-cost medicines for poorer nations. In the face of the suffering and divisions which so often afflict the human family, the need to find lasting solutions to human conflicts becomes all the more apparent. In this regard, as Your Excellency observed, during thirty-five years of diplomatic relations the Holy See has worked together with Canada on a number of projects for the betterment of disadvantaged people and communities, including the promotion and application of the Ottawa Convention on landmines and the WTO agreement on intellectual property and public health. Similarly, with other countries, Canada and the Holy See have endeavoured to bring stability, peace and development to the Great Lakes Region in Africa.

Such gestures of solidarity are more than just unilateral acts of good intent. Rather, they spring from values and convictions which have shaped Canadian society throughout its history and upon which all authentic social progress depends. For this reason, during my last visit to your country I encouraged all Canadians to treasure the core of their heritage: the spiritual vision of life inspired by the belief that all men and women receive their essential dignity from God and with it the capacity to grow towards truth and goodness (Homily of Concluding Mass, Toronto, 28 July 2002).

Your Excellency has noted that Canada’s openness to migration has brought increasing diversity and a great richness to your culture, fostering mutual accommodation and respect between ethnic groups. The characteristics of tolerance and hospitality have endeared many to your land. With the successful integration of the multiple ethnic communities now found in your country, they also illustrate for other nations that the respect due to every person is rooted in the common origin of all men and women, rather than in the fact of differences between peoples. It is this sublime and fundamental truth concerning the human person – created male and female in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn Gn 1,26-27) – which constitutes the immutable basis for all other anthropological truths. From its nature as divine gift stems the inviolable and sacred dignity of all life, the respect owed to every individual, and the requirement that men and women adhere to the natural and moral structure with which they have been endowed by God (cf. Centesimus Annus CA 38).

For generations Canadians have recognized and celebrated the place of marriage at the heart of your society. Established by the Creator with its own nature and purpose, and preserved in natural moral law, the institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God’s creative activity through the raising of children. Spouses thereby ensure the survival of society and culture, and rightly deserve specific and categorical legal recognition by the State. Any attempts to change the meaning of the word "spouse" contradict right reason: legal guarantees, analogous to those granted to marriage, cannot be applied to unions between persons of the same sex without creating a false understanding of the nature of marriage.

Mr Ambassador, Canada is not alone in the difficult challenges facing individuals in contemporary culture. With goodwill, I am confident that the splendid vision of supportive and stable family life, so dear to the people of Canada, will continue to offer to society the foundation upon which the aspirations of your nation can be built. For her part the Catholic Church in Canada is willing to offer assistance in upholding the essential social foundations of civic life. She is heavily involved in the spiritual and intellectual formation of the young, especially through her schools, and her social apostolate extends to those facing some of the serious problems of modern society including alcohol and drug abuse as well as various forms of social displacement. I am confident that the Catholic community will respond generously to new social challenges as they arise.

Your Excellency, I know that your mission will serve to strengthen further the bonds of friendship which already exist between Canada and the Holy See. As you take up your new responsibilities, I assure you that the various offices of the Roman Curia are ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you, your family and fellow citizens, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.



Saturday, 4 September 2004

Mr Ambassador,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you and accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of Ireland to the Holy See. I thank you for the generous words of greeting which you have addressed to me on behalf of President Mary McAleese, and I ask you kindly to convey to her and to all the beloved Irish people my cordial best wishes and the assurance of my prayers.

Ireland is rightly proud of its ancient heritage of warm hospitality and generous assistance to those in need. Based on a Christian love of neighbour and nurtured in stable family life, these virtues have formed the "soul" of Ireland and continue to be one of its most precious resources. The unwritten story of so many Irish men and women who have dedicated their lives to serve others is one of the most impressive chapters of your country’s history. I very much appreciate your thoughtful reference to one of them, the late Archbishop Michael Courtney, who offered the supreme sacrifice of his life to bring peace and well-being to the suffering people of Burundi. It is encouraging to see that the same love of neighbour inspires so many young Irish people who generously volunteer their time, their talents and their professional skills for the service of others. In this spirit of assistance to those in need Ireland has done much within the international community to alleviate suffering by providing financial assistance, educational opportunities and professional guidance, and by sending emergency relief funds and peace-keeping troops when requested.

The experience of generations of Irish emigrants has made your people aware of the serious difficulties and precarious conditions often encountered by individuals and families seeking a new beginning in a foreign land. This sensitivity represents a great resource for developing a mature culture of acceptance. Such a culture calls for generosity and openness to legitimate diversity, while demanding a necessary respect for the nation’s cultural patrimony and a commitment to the promotion of adequate forms of integration (cf. Ecclesia in Europa, 101-102). The plight of refugees and those displaced by poverty, war or persecution is particularly dramatic and calls for special consideration and generosity. The Holy See hopes that the steps taken during the Irish presidency of the European Union in favour of policies of openness to other peoples will continue to inspire the community’s attitude to immigrants from other continents and cultures. I encourage your country to continue to address this important humanitarian problem together with your European counterparts with an open heart and a persevering commitment.

As Your Excellency has noted, Ireland has recently undergone significant social changes, including remarkable economic growth. A more prosperous society has greater possibilities of becoming a more just and open society, but it is also faced with new challenges, including the danger of a certain spiritual impoverishment and indifference to the deeper moral and religious dimensions of life. Your country’s aspiration to become a profoundly modern society, within the family of European nations, will find its highest expression in a commitment to reaffirming above all the incomparable dignity and the right to life of each human person. I am confident that by remaining true to the values which have shaped Ireland as a nation from the time of its evangelization, your people will help to make an outstanding contribution to the future of Europe (cf. Ecclesia in Europa, 96).

You have mentioned Ireland’s hopes for the peace process. I pray that every effort is being made to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the Good Friday Agreement, which has given new impulse and new hope to the people of Northern Ireland. The Catholic Church in Ireland working together with other Christian communities is committed to consolidating positive attitudes of comprehension, respect and esteem of others through ecumenical activities and educational efforts. The message of the Gospel cannot be separated from the call to a change of heart; neither can evangelization be isolated from ecumenism and the promotion of fellowship, reconciliation and openness to others, especially to other Christians. May the initiatives of all those who seek peace and reconciliation be blessed by God’s grace and bear fruit for the children of tomorrow.

Mr Ambassador, you begin your duties as the Representative of your country to the Holy See in the same year that we together celebrate the Seventy-fifth Anniversary of our diplomatic relations. Let me assure you of my prayers for the success of your mission. I ask Almighty God's abundant blessings upon you and your family and upon the beloved people of Ireland.


Saturday, 4 September 2004

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I now turn to you, dear leaders and members of the Italian Association of St Cecilia, gathered in Rome for a Meeting on Gregorian Chant in the Liturgy, on the occasion of the 14th Centenary of the death of St Gregory the Great. I extend my cordial greeting to you and express grateful appreciation for the care that you devote to the context of sacred music, always attentive to the teachings of the Magisterium. In this way, you offer a valid contribution to the implementation of the liturgical reform of the Second Vatican Council. As I once again encourage you, I bless you and the entire Association from my heart, together with the numerous singers who today and tomorrow will gladden the celebrations in the Vatican.

2. I am delighted to welcome and greet you, representatives of the Pueri Cantores International Federation, gathered for your General Assembly in Rome.

I am pleased that thanks to your association, thousands of children and young people throughout the world can participate in the beauty of the liturgy, contributing in this way to "express adequately the mystery grasped in the fullness of the Church's faith and in accordance with the pastoral guidelines appropriately laid down by the competent Authority" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 50). I heartily encourage you to continue to be concerned with the formation of these youth so that through their song, they will be active members of the Church and living witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.

With all my heart I impart the Apostolic Blessing.



Thursday, 9 September 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters
of the International Schönstatt Movement,

1. I joyfully welcome you to Castel Gandolfo. In these days, you have taken part in the inauguration of the Shrine of Matri Ecclesiae in the Eternal City. The creation of an International Schönstatt Centre in Rome highlights and strengthens your movement's ties with the Successor of Peter and with Mother Church.

I thank the President of the General Presidium for his cordial words. They show how the different branches of your movement are fired by the Apostolate in the contemporary world and by the ideal of Christian holiness.

2. In your movement your responsibility for society and for ensuring that the Christian spirit imbues social relations is growing. I have always sought to reawaken in our Church this responsibility for the world. I would therefore like to strengthen you in this task that takes many varied forms. One of them is active pro-life commitment in the midst of the dangers and threats of an ever more widespread culture of death, as the gruesome practice of abortion shows. All the faithful are therefore urged to provide those "signs of light" that the world always needs.

Schönstatt's commitment is addressed especially to the family as the primary nucleus of the Church, of culture and of society. In accordance with your Founder's recommendations, you give a privileged place to the Crucifix and to the image of Mary in your homes so that they will become "domestic sanctuaries of the Church" (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio FC 55), where Mary is active as a Mother and Teacher. Thus, as "the pilgrim Mother of God", Mary reaches out to human beings so that they may experience her motherly love.

Our Church needs a revitalization of faith and apostolic activity. This commitment involves all the spiritual movements and Ecclesial Communities that the Spirit of God has brought forth on the threshold of the third millennium. They are Providence's reaction to the numerous challenges of our time.

3. Your new Shrine in Rome is dedicated to Mary, Mother of the Church. May the Handmaid of the Lord accompany and guide you in your service to the Church, so that through it, the features of the Mater Ecclesiae as the Body of Christ will become ever more clearly visible.

I therefore impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to you and to all those throughout the world who belong to your large family.




Saturday, 11 September 2004


Dear Brother Bishops,

With great affection I greet you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Cardinal Rigali has mentioned that today marks the third anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States. I assure you of my closeness to the American people and I join you in praying for an end to the scourge of terrorism and the growth of the civilization of love.

Our thoughts today are centered on the Bishop’s exercise of sacred power, which must always be rooted in the moral authority of a life shaped by his sharing in Christ’s consecration and mission. This demands of us a pastoral style inspired by the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd, and aimed at fostering holiness, communion and mission in the ecclesial community.

Dear brothers, as you guide the Churches entrusted to your care, may you find wisdom and strength through the intercession of Mary Immaculate, Patroness of your country. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.


Dear Brother Bishops,

1. With fraternal affection I welcome you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical region of Pennsylvania and New Jersey, on the occasion of your quinquennial visit to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul. During our ad Limina meetings this year I have invited you and your Brother Bishops from the United States to reflect with me on the significance of the ministry entrusted to us as "true and authentic teachers of the faith, pontiffs and pastors" (Christus Dominus CD 2). Today our considerations turn to the munus regendi, the power of governance by which the successors of the Apostles have been set apart by the Holy Spirit as guardians of the flock and shepherds of the Church of God (cf. Acts Ac 20,28). As the Church’s constant Tradition attests, this apostolic authority is a form of service to the Body of Christ. As such, it can only be inspired by and modelled on the self-sacrificing love of the Lord who came among us as a servant (cf. Mk Mc 10,45) and, after stooping to wash the feet of his disciples, commanded them to do as he had done (cf. Jn Jn 13,15).

The existence of an unequivocal right and duty of governance entrusted to the successors of the Apostles is an essential part of the Church’s divinely-willed constitution (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 18). As a ministerial power, given for building up the Body (cf. 2Co 10,8), this sacra potestas must be seen as one of the hierarchical gifts (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 4) bestowed upon the Church by her divine Founder, and thus a constitutive element of that sacred Tradition which contains everything passed down from the Apostles as a means of preserving and fostering the holiness and faith of the People of God (cf. Dei Verbum DV 8). History amply demonstrates that the firm and sage exercise of this apostolic authority, particularly in moments of crisis, has enabled the Church to preserve her integrity, independence and fidelity to the Gospel in the face of threats from within and without.

2. Building on the rich reflection on the episcopal munus regendi occasioned by the Council, and in light of the challenges of the new evangelization, the recent Synod of Bishops insisted on the urgent need to recover a fuller and more authentically "apostolic" understanding of the episcopal office. The Bishop is above all a witness, a teacher and model of holiness, as well as a prudent administrator of the Church’s goods. The sacred power which he legitimately exercises should be rooted in the moral authority of a life completely shaped by his sacramental sharing in Christ’s consecration and mission. Indeed, "all that the Bishop says and does must reveal the authority of Christ’s word and his way of acting" (Pastores Gregis ). As a result, "a renewed appreciation of the Bishop’s authority will not be expressed by external signs, but by an ever deeper understanding of the theological, spiritual and moral significance of this ministry, founded on the charism of apostolicity" (ibid.). Bishops need to be esteemed as successors of the Apostles not only in authority and sacred power, but above all by their apostolic life and witness.

In our meetings, many of you have expressed your concern about the crisis of confidence in the Church’s leadership provoked by the recent sexual abuse scandals, the general call for accountability in the Church’s governance on every level and the relations between Bishops, clergy and the lay faithful. I am convinced that today, as at every critical moment in her history, the Church will find the resources for an authentic self-renewal in the wisdom, vision and zeal of Bishops outstanding for their holiness. Saintly reformers like Gregory the Great, Charles Borromeo and Pius X understood that the Church is only authentically "re-formed" when she returns to her origins in a conscious reappropriation of the apostolic Tradition and a purifying re-evaluation of her institutions in the light of the Gospel. In the present circumstances of the Church in America, this will entail a spiritual discernment and critique of certain styles of governance which, even in the name of a legitimate concern for good "administration" and responsible oversight, can run the risk of distancing the pastor from the members of his flock, and obscuring his image as their father and brother in Christ.

3. In this regard, the Synod of Bishops acknowledged the need today for each Bishop to develop "a pastoral style which is ever more open to collaboration with all" (Pastores Gregis ), grounded in a clear understanding of the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the baptized (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 10). While the Bishop himself remains responsible for the authoritative decisions which he is called to make in the exercise of his pastoral governance, ecclesial communion also "presupposes the participation of every category of the faithful, inasmuch as they share responsibility for the good of the particular Church which they themselves form" (Pastores Gregis, loc. cit.). Within a sound ecclesiology of communion, a commitment to creating better structures of participation, consultation and shared responsibility should not be misunderstood as a concession to a secular "democratic" model of governance, but as an intrinsic requirement of the exercise of episcopal authority and a necessary means of strengthening that authority.

4. The exercise of the munus regendi is directed both to gathering the flock in the visible unity of a single profession of faith lived in the sacramental communion of the Church and to guiding that flock, in the diversity of its gifts and callings, towards a common goal: the proclamation of the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Every act of ecclesiastical governance, consequently, must be aimed at fostering communion and mission. In view, then, of their common purpose and aim, the three munera of teaching, sanctifying and ruling are clearly inseparable and interpenetrating: "when the Bishop teaches, he also sanctifies and governs the People of God; when he sanctifies, he also teaches and governs; when he governs, he teaches and sanctifies" (Pastores Gregis cf. Lumen Gentium LG 20,27).

Experience shows that when priority is mainly given to outward stability, the impetus to personal conversion, ecclesial renewal and missionary zeal can be lost and a false sense of security can ensue. The painful period of self-examination provoked by the events of the past two years will bear spiritual fruit only if it leads the whole Catholic community in America to a deeper understanding of the Church’s authentic nature and mission, and a more intense commitment to making the Church in your country reflect, in every aspect of her life, the light of Christ’s grace and truth. Here I can only state once more my profound conviction that the documents of the Second Vatican Council need to be carefully studied and taken to heart by all the faithful, since these normative texts of the Magisterium offer the basis for a genuine ecclesial renewal in obedience to the will of Christ and in conformity with the Church’s apostolic Tradition (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 57).

5. Dear Brothers, as you guide the Churches entrusted to your pastoral care, may you daily find consolation, support and strength from the clergy, religious and lay faithful whom you serve. The ministry to which you have been called is demanding and even burdensome, yet it is also a source of immense spiritual joy and an indispensable service to the growth of Christ’s disciples in faith, hope and love. With great affection I commend all of you to the prayers of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.



Monday, 13 September 2004

Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord with ourselves as servants" (2Co 4,5). With these telling words of Saint Paul I cordially welcome you, the Bishops of New Zealand, and thank Bishop Browne for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf. I warmly reciprocate them and assure you of my prayers for yourselves and those entrusted to your pastoral care. Your first visit ad Limina Apostolorum in this new millennium is an occasion to give thanks to God for the immense gift of faith in Jesus Christ so treasured by the peoples of your country (cf. Ecclesia in Oceania, 1). That same faith, for which Saints Peter and Paul shed their blood, saw from the earliest centuries the Church of Rome as "the ultimate reference of communion" (Pastores Gregis ). Coming to see Peter (cf. Gal Ga 1,18) from an island nation so distant, you attest to the strength of that communion which "safeguards legitimate differences and yet is vigilant to ensure that particularity not only does not harm unity but serves it" (Pastores Gregis ). 2. New Zealand enjoys a proud heritage, steeped in rich cultural diversity, yet like many other countries is today suffering the effects of unrestrained secularism. This radical "split between the Gospel and culture" (Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 20) is manifested as a "crisis of meaning" (cf. Fides et Ratio FR 81): the distortion of reason by particular interest groups and exaggerated individualism are examples of this perspective of life which neglects the search for the ultimate goal and meaning of human existence. Your own reports indeed unequivocally indicate the pressing need for Christ’s liberating message in a society experiencing the tragic consequences of the eclipse of the sense of God: the drift away from the Church; the undermining of family life; the facilitation of abortion and prostitution; a misguided vision of life which seeks pleasure and "success" rather than goodness and wisdom.

Faced with such disquieting developments, New Zealanders look to you to be men of hope, preaching and teaching with passion the splendour of Christ’s truth which dispels the darkness and illuminates the true path of life. Know that the Lord himself is close to you! Listen to his voice: "Courage! It is I! Have no fear" (Mc 6,50). With your hearts and minds firmly fixed on Christ, I am confident that you will lead others from the limitations of shallow thinking into the open radiance of God’s love. Indeed, it is only by contemplating the unfathomed beauty of humanity’s final destiny – eternal life in heaven – that the multitude of daily joys and sorrows can be adequately explained, enabling people to embrace life’s challenges with the confidence born of faith and hope.

3. All the faithful of Aotearoa, through their baptismal vocation, are called to share in your witness to the hope that the Church holds (cf. 1P 3,15). There is no better way to do this than through joyful participation in worship. Sunday Mass, beyond the fulfilment of a solemn obligation, is a glorious epiphany of the Church in which the holy People of God, actively and fully sharing in the same liturgical celebration (cf. Dies Domini, 34), testify to the "supreme day of faith", "an indispensable day", "the day of Christian hope!"

The weakening in Sunday Mass observance, of which each of you has spoken with profound concern, dims the light of witness to Christ’s presence in your country. When Sunday becomes subordinate to a popular concept of "weekend" and is unduly dominated by entertainment and sport, rather than being truly sanctified and revitalized, people remain trapped in a relentless and often meaningless pursuit of novelty and fail to experience the freshness of Christ’s "living water" (Jn 4,11). In this regard, echoing the words found in the Letter to the Hebrews, I join you in urging the laity of New Zealand – and in a special way the young people – to remain faithful to the celebration of Sunday Mass: "hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, ... not neglecting to meet together ... but encouraging one another" (He 10,23-25).

4. From her sacred liturgy, the Church draws strength and inspiration for her mission to evangelize. This was expressed with great clarity during the Synod for Oceania: the "purpose of being with Jesus is to go forth from Jesus, in his power and with his grace" (Ecclesia in Oceania, 3). This dynamic, articulated during the Prayer after Communion and the Concluding Rite of every Mass (cf. Dies Domini, 45), directs every Christian to the task of the evangelization of culture. It is a duty that no single believer can ignore. Sent by the Lord himself into the vineyard – the home, schools, the workplace, civic organizations – Christ’s disciples find no time for "standing idle in the marketplace" (Mt 20,3), nor can they be so absorbed by the internal aspects of parish life that they are distracted from the command to evangelize others actively (cf. Christifideles Laici CL 2). Spurred on by word and strengthened by sacrament, the followers of Jesus must return to their "vineyard" burning with a desire to "speak" of Christ and to "show" him to the world (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 16).Dear Brothers, your own pastoral letters are a fine example of the way in which you earnestly seek to present the truth of Christ in the public arena. The cordial relations which you have diligently developed with the government authorities allow you to be firm in your appraisal of their deliberations when necessary. In this regard, I encourage you to continue to ensure that your statements clearly convey the whole of the Church’s magisterial teaching. Among the many challenges currently confronting you in this regard is the need to defend the sanctity and uniqueness of marriage.Established by the Creator with its own nature and purpose, preserved in natural moral law, and given expression in all cultures, the institution of marriage necessarily entails the complementarity of husbands and wives who participate in God’s creative activity through the bearing and raising of children. Spouses rightly deserve specific and categorical legal recognition by the State, while any attempt to equate marriage with other forms of cohabitation violates its unique role in God’s plan for humanity.

5. Within the context of the evangelization of culture, I wish to acknowledge the outstanding contribution of your Catholic schools. Their growth has enriched the faith of the Christian community and contributed to the promotion of excellence in the nation. The worth of our schools cannot, however, be measured simply in numbers. Catholic schools today must be active agents of evangelization at the heart of parish life! To this end I appeal directly to the generous and sincere young faithful of New Zealand: Enter into your religious education with enthusiasm! Listen to the voice of Jesus calling you to share in the life of his family, the Church! Take up your rightful place in parish life!

Catechesis and religious education today is a taxing apostolate. I thank and encourage those many lay men and women, together with Religious, who with unstinting dedication strive to ensure that "the baptized ... become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith which they have received" (Gravissimum Educationis GE 2). As Bishops, it is your grave obligation to assist teachers to deepen their personal witness to Jesus Christ among the young and to grow in their readiness to teach pupils to pray, thereby enriching their contribution to the specific nature and mission of Catholic education. This demands, particularly for specialist teachers, a solid theological and spiritual preparation that is in harmony with that of your priests; it also points to the need to ensure that your tertiary education chaplaincies are vibrant sources of sound catechesis. Here I wish also to make a special appeal to the apostolic Religious: strengthen your commitment to the educational and school apostolate! In places where the young are easily lured away from the path of truth and genuine freedom, the consecrated person’s witness to the evangelical counsels is a marvellous and irreplaceable gift.

6. Dear Brothers, you have assiduously promoted collaboration in your leadership of the Church in New Zealand, making it possible for "all to journey together along the common path of faith and mission" (Pastores Gregis ). Authentic collaboration never weakens the clear and unequivocal right and duty of governance which pertains to the munus episcopale but rather is one of the fruits of its fullness. I know you are selflessly assisted by your priests for whose pastoral generosity and commitment I join you in thanking the Lord. Assure them that the Christian faithful depend upon and are greatly appreciative of them. Similarly, Religious Priests, Brothers and Sisters need to be encouraged as they too seek to foster ecclesial communion by their cooperative presence and apostolate in your Dioceses. As a gift to the Church, the consecrated life lies at her very heart, manifesting the deep beauty of the Christian vocation to selfless, sacrificial love. In accord with your endeavours to promote a "culture of vocation", I urge Religious to propose afresh to young people the ideal of consecration and mission found in the various states of ecclesial life which together exist "that the world may believe" (Jn 17,21).

7. With affection and fraternal gratitude I offer these reflections to you and encourage you to share the fruits of the charism of truth which the Spirit has bestowed upon you. United in your proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ and guided by the example of the Saints, go forward in hope! Invoking upon you the intercession of Mary, "Star of the New Evangelization", I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and the priests, Religious, and lay faithful of your dioceses.

Speeches 2004