Speeches 2004 - Friday, 26 October 2004

3. Together with fostering mutual trust and confidence, dialogue, a spirit of unity and a common missionary spirit in his relationship with his priests, the Bishop is also responsible for cultivating within the presbyterate a sense of corresponsibility for the governance of the local Church. The Council rightly points out that pastors themselves have a proper share in the munus regendi (cf. Christus Dominus CD 30), while the Bishop is called to rule his Diocese “with the cooperation of the presbyterium” (ibid., 11; cf. CIC CIC 369). The concrete exercise of this corresponsibility demands of the Bishop above all a sound ecclesiological vision, a concern for the legitimate demands of subsidiarity within the Church, and a respect for the proper roles of the various members of the diocesan presbyterate.

Given the historical importance of the parish in the Church in the United States, a fundamental goal of your governance should be that of encouraging and coordinating the pastoral work carried out in the great network of parishes and related institutions which make up the local Church. The parish, in fact, is “pre-eminent among all the other communities in his Diocese for which the Bishop has primary responsibility: it is with the parishes above all that he must be concerned” (Pastores Gregis ). The parish is, and should be, the first and foremost place where the faithful encounter and are invited to share fully in the life and mission of the Church. The Diocese should always be understood as existing in and for its parishes.

For this reason, the renewal of ecclesial life in the service of the new evangelization should rightly begin with the revitalization of the parish community, centered as it is on the preaching of the Gospel and the celebration of the Eucharist (cf. Ecclesia in America ). The Bishop is to play an indispensable role in this revitalization by authoritatively promoting the Church’s teaching and proposing a unified pastoral plan capable of inspiring and directing the apostolate of clergy and laity alike. Pastors need to be helped not only to “build community”, but also to clarify ever more fully the goals at which their governance should aim, always in communion with the particular and universal Church (cf. CIC, canons 528-529), while the lay faithful should be inspired to understand and exercise their proper munus regale in the service of the Kingdom of God (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 31). In a word, the entire Christian community needs to be encouraged to move “from Mass to mission” (Dies Domini, 45) in the pursuit of holiness and the service of the new evangelization.

4. An essential concern of responsible governance must also be to provide for the future. No one can deny that the decline in priestly vocations represents a stark challenge for the Church in the United States, and one that cannot be ignored or put off. The response to this challenge must be insistent prayer according to the Lord’s command (cf. Mt Mt 9,37-38), accompanied by a program of vocational promotion which branches out to every aspect of ecclesial life. Inasmuch as “the entire People of God is responsible for promoting vocations, and does so chiefly by persistent and humble prayer for vocations” (Ecclesia in America ), I would propose for your consideration that the Catholic community in your country annually set aside a national day of prayer for priestly vocations.

Concern for the future also demands particular attention to seminary training, which needs to instil in students for the priesthood not only an integrated theological vision, but also a commitment to holiness and spiritual wisdom, as well as formation in prudent leadership and selfless dedication to the flock. In this regard, I would also encourage you to spare no effort in ensuring a sound continuing education for the clergy, and in particular, to consider it an essential part of your governance to send young priests for advanced studies in the ecclesiastical sciences, especially theology and canon law. This training, whatever the sacrifices it entails, should be seen as a source of lasting enrichment for the life of the local Church.

5. Dear Brothers, the vision of the Council, the spiritual inheritance of the Great Jubilee and the pastoral needs of the faithful in America today call for a renewed commitment to the heart of the Church’s mission: proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ in its integrity, calling to the obedience of faith, promoting authentic holiness and working for the extension of God’s Kingdom in every aspect of personal, social and cultural life. As you strive to carry out this great work in communion with your brother priests, your deacons, the consecrated men and women belonging to your particular Churches and all the faithful in the variety of their gifts and callings, I commend all of you to the loving prayers of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abiding joy and peace in the Lord.



Friday, 26 November 2004

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am truly pleased to greet you today when you are taking part in Rome in the Conference of the Penitentiary Directors from the 45 member States of the Council of Europe. Thank you for your welcome visit which gives me the opportunity to become better acquainted with your work and projects. You are dealing with topics that are more timely than ever, concerning the management in Europe of those in custody and of prisons.

I respectfully greet you all. I greet in a special way the Director General of Legal Affairs of the Council of Europe and the Department Head of the Italian Prisons Administration, to whom I express my deep gratitude for their kind words on behalf of all.

2. You are reflecting on how to adapt the norms of European penitentiaries to bring them increasingly into line with the needs of prisoners. There is no doubt that they should always recognize the personal dignity of the prisoner as a subject with rights and duties. In every civilized nation, the safeguard of the inalienable rights of every human being must be a shared concern. Thus, with the commitment of all, laws and norms that counter this must be adjusted, especially when it is a question of the right to life and health, culture, employment, the exercise of freedom of thought and the profession of one's own faith.

Respect for human dignity is a value of European culture that is rooted in Christianity: a universal human value and, as such, susceptible of the broadest consensus. Every State must ensure that full attention be paid in all prisons to fundamental human rights.

3. Measures that are merely repressive or punitive, to which it is normal to have recourse today, prove inadequate for achieving the goal of the genuine rehabilitation of prisoners. Consequently, you must rethink the situation of prisons, as you are doing, regarding their foundations and goals.
If the purpose of penitentiaries is not only the custody but also the recovery of their inmates, it will be necessary to abolish physical and moral treatment that is harmful to human dignity and to strive to give a better professional standing to the role of those who work in penal institutions.

4. In this light, the search for alternative forms of punishment other than imprisonment should be encouraged and support given to an authentic rehabilitation of prisoners through programmes of human, professional and spiritual formation.

The useful role of religious ministers has been recognized in this context. They are called to carry out a sensitive and in some respects indispensable task that cannot be reduced to acts of worship alone but often extends to the social needs of prisoners that the prison structure cannot always satisfy.
How can we then fail to note with pleasure the increasing number of institutions and associations for volunteers dedicated to helping prisoners and to their rehabilitation in society?

5. A legitimate concern that some have reasserted is that respect for the human dignity of prisoners should not jeopardize public security. They are therefore insisting on the need to defend citizens, even with those forms of deterrence in conformity with the sentences. However, the necessary enforcement of justice to safeguard citizens and the public order should not detract from the attention due to the rights and rehabilitation of prisoners; on the contrary, these two aspects are integrated with each another. Prevention and repression, detention and re-socialization are complementary interventions.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, may God sustain your efforts to make prison a place of humanity, redemption and hope. I assure you of my prayers, and invoke God's blessing upon those of you present here and upon all those who work in the prisons of Europe, with a particularly affectionate thought for all the prisoners.



Monday, 29 November 2004

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

1. I am delighted to welcome and greet each one of you. You have gathered here on the occasion of this special Audience for the representatives of the numerous members of the Pope John XXIII Communities' Association that has spread far and wide in Italy and in another 20 countries of the world.

I greet your Founder and Director General, dear Fr Oreste Benzi, with special affection and thank him for his words on behalf of you all. I greet his collaborators, the priests, consecrated persons and all the various members of your praiseworthy sodality, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary in these days.

2. From the outset, that is, ever since Fr Oreste Benzi opened his first family-house, your Community, which a few months ago acquired recognition as a private international Association of the Faithful of Pontifical Right, has distinguished itself by its special service to the lowliest and a style of true sharing that aspires to give new life and love to those who for various reasons have no family.

It has been constantly encouraged by your Pastors and continues to maintain cordial and harmonious relations with the Dioceses and parishes in which it works. In addition, your activities seek to fulfil a role in the area by cooperating with the public and private social structures as well as by measuring up to the characteristic Christian inspiration that constantly guides and enlivens them.

3. You are well aware that charitable activity for our brothers and sisters acquires its full value when it is based on the primacy of God's love. If we are to show genuine love to our brethren, we must find it in God. It is therefore fitting that you spend long periods in prayer, in listening to God's Word and basing the whole of your lives on Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, continue to care for your spiritual formation and to have frequent recourse to the sacraments. In particular, ensure that the Eucharist is the heart of your family-houses and of all your other social and educational activities. During this year dedicated to the Sacrament of the Altar, revive your contemplative fervour and love for the divine Redeemer, who makes himself in the Eucharist our food for immortal life. Draw from him the spiritual energy to be tireless Gospel workers, witnessing to tenderness among all who live in situations of hardship and neglect.

The Novena of Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception begins precisely today. I entrust you to her, the Virgin Mother of God, so that she may make you sowers of hope, love and peace for ever. With these sentiments, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to those of you present here, to the entire Association and to all who in any way support your important work.



Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to met all of you in the atmosphere of joy and gratitude to the Lord for the 60th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of Fr Marcial Maciel Degollado, Founder and Superior General of your young and praiseworthy religious Family.

My affection greeting goes first to dear Fr Maciel, to whom I willingly offer my most cordial good wishes for a priestly ministry filled with the gifts of the Holy Spirit. I then greet the Superiors of the Institute, in particular the Vicar General whom I thank for his words on behalf of all. I also greet you, dear Priests and Seminarians, Legionaries of Christ, dear Members of the Regnum Christi Movement, and all of you who have been taking part in these days in the Jubilee celebrations.

2. While the happy event that has gathered you all around the Founder invites you to commemorate the gifts that he has received from the Lord during these 60 years of his priestly ministry, at the same time it affords the opportunity to reaffirm the commitments you have made as Legionaries of Christ to serve the Gospel. Today, in particular, meeting the Successor of Peter, you have desired to renew your commitment of total fidelity to the Church and to the person Providence has desired to be her Pastor.

At this important Meeting, I am eager to repeat to you what I said at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000: "There is a need today more than ever for a confident proclamation of the Gospel which, casting aside all crippling fears, announces with intellectual depth and with courage the truth about God, about man, about the world" (Address to the Legionaries of Christ and the Members of the "Regnum Christi' Movement, n. 4, 4 January 2001; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 17 January 2001, p. 5).

3. To bring this demanding mission to completion, it is indispensable to cultivate constant intimacy with Christ, seeking to follow him and imitate him with docility. This will make you ever ready to respond to the most authentic and profound expectations of the men and women of our time.

May the Year of the Eucharist that began in October be a favourable opportunity for you to grow in love for the Eucharist, the source and summit of all Christian life. For the Church, this supreme Mystery is a gift of Christ par excellence, because it is "the gift of himself, of his person in his sacred humanity, as well as the gift of his saving work" (Ecclesia de Eucharistia EE 11).

4. Stay united round the Eucharist! Faithful to the charism that distinguishes you, pursue your evangelizing mission, drawing nourishment from Christ and making yourselves his undaunted witnesses.

May your holy Protectors go with you. In particular, may Mary Most Holy, Our Lady Help of Christians, guide and sustain you!

With these sentiments and wishes, I warmly impart to dear Fr Maciel and to all of you present here, a special Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to the Members of your religious Family and to everyone you meet in your daily apostolate.

December 2004



Thursday, 2 December 2004

Mr President,

Your visit affords me an opportunity to send a greeting to the beloved People of Guinea who are present so frequently in my thoughts and prayers.

In your Country, which I had the joy of visiting in 1982, the Church, together with evangelization, developed with the means available her generous activity in education, health care and the advancement of the most needy. Inspired by the Gospel, all she desires is to serve the promotion of human dignity in a suitable atmosphere of freedom, cooperation, reconciliation, understanding and respect that will allow her peacefully and fruitfully to fulfil her spiritual and humanitarian mission.

I would also like this meeting to contribute to cordial and serene relations and understanding between the public Authorities and the Christian community, and to benefit all the citizens in their desire to improve their standard of living so that they may find fulfilment as persons and as children of God.

As I thank you for your visit, I offer you my best wishes for all the People of Guinea and invoke upon them an abundance of divine Blessings that will encourage them in their hopes and legitimate aspirations.


Thursday, 2 December 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to offer a cordial greeting to all of you who have wished to pay this visit to the Successor of Peter on the 20th anniversary of the foundation of your Institute. Welcome!

I greet Archbishop Benigno Luigi Papa of Taranto who has accompanied you, and I thank him for his kind words on your behalf. I would then like to express to your Founder, Mons. Pietro Galeone, and to your entire family of "Servants of Suffering", my deepest appreciation for the work you are doing in Italy and in other nations, following Christ who with his passion redeemed the world.

2. Your Secular Institute was born from an explicit desire of St Pio of Pietrelcina [Padre Pio], for the purpose of serving all who are suffering. In the span of 10 years it has grown considerably, becoming a vehicle of hope for so many people who are harshly tried in body and in spirit. You are called to proclaim the Gospel of suffering, illumined by faith. In my Apostolic Letter Salvifici Doloris I wrote that for Christians, "the Gospel of suffering signifies, not only the presence of suffering in the Gospel, as one of the themes of the Good News, but also the revelation of the salvific power and salvific significance of suffering in Christ's messianic mission and, subsequently, in the mission and vocation of the Church" (n. 25).

3. Dear friends, looking at the cloud of physical and spiritual pain that envelopes humanity, how necessary your witness is! As "Servants of Suffering", be silent "Cyrenians" who help all who are put to the test and assure them that God does not forget a single tear but indeed, gathers them all and keeps count of them in his book (cf. Ps 56[55]: 9).

Follow in the footsteps of Padre Pio, whose teachings are always very timely; be constantly inspired by them. Be apostles, like him, of prayer and suffering! Prayer illumines hearts and makes them readier to accept suffering; suffering, received with docile abandonment in God, opens the soul to understanding the pain of others.

May the Blessed Virgin accompany you and make you ever more faithful to your mission in the Church. With this wish, I bless you all.



Friday, 3 December 2004

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the Assembly of the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, held every three years. I cordially greet all of you, representing approximately 150 diocesan newspapers, and your collaborators, and I extend my cordial thoughts to all your readers. In particular, I greet your President, Mons. Vincenzo Rini, and I thank him for his words on your behalf.

2. Thanks be to God, Italy has a rich tradition of Catholic weeklies with outstanding priests and lay people who have marked their history. Among them I would like to recall Mons. Andrea Spada, well-known to you, who died a few days ago. The contribution of Catholic journalists is also especially valuable today on the pastoral as well as the cultural and social levels.

Their service primarily offers information on the life of the Church, supported by the appropriate documentation and an analysis of ecclesial initiatives and their content. Then, in view of their wide local distribution, diocesan weeklies effectively help to spread in families, parishes and cities the Christian values that account for a large part of the spiritual heritage of the Italian People. I am thinking in particular of the protection of every dimension of human life, as well as of marriage and the family, which a misunderstood culture of "personal rights" is tending to distort, and lastly, of the values of truth, justice and solidarity.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for your service that, with your journalistic articles, contributes to the building of the "civilization of love". In this age of global communications, your mission is becoming more and more difficult. Do not lose heart, dear friends, because of the difficulties you encounter. Conscientiously persevere in preaching the Gospel of truth and hope from the special "pulpits" of your diocesan weeklies, remaining ever open to the wide horizons of the universal Church.

4. To be able to carry out this mission of yours fully, take pains to ensure that you are not the first to lack the indispensable spiritual nourishment of prayer and an intense sacramental life. In addition, be concerned to enrich your ethical and cultural training so as to keep your convictions in tune with the Gospel, and do not let yourselves be led astray by the harmful trends that dominate a particular aspect of modern culture.

May the Immaculate Virgin protect you; may St Francis Xavier, Patron of the Missions, whose liturgical memorial occurs today, intercede for you. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and to you all, together with your loved ones, I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing.




Saturday, 4 December 2004

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. On the occasion of your quinquennial ad Limina visit, I extend a warm welcome to you, the Bishops of the ecclesiastical Provinces of Louisville, Mobile and New Orleans. As we continue our reflections on the ministry of governance entrusted to the successors of the Apostles, I would like today to consider some specific aspects of your relationship with the lay faithful.

I wish first of all to express my profound appreciation for the outstanding contribution which the laity have made, and continue to make, to the growth and expansion of the Church in your country, a contribution which I have personally witnessed and admired during my visits to the United States. I am convinced that, because "the renewal of the Church in America will not be possible without the active presence of the laity" (Ecclesia in America ), an essential part of your pastoral governance must be guiding and supporting them in their efforts to be a leaven of the Gospel in the world.

2. As the Second Vatican Council clearly stated, the exercise of the episcopal munus regendi by its very nature requires a recognition of the contribution and charisms of the lay faithful and their proper role in building up the Church’s unity and carrying forward her mission in the world (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 30-31). Each Bishop is called to acknowledge the "essential and irreplaceable role" of the laity in the Church’s mission (cf. Christifideles Laici CL 7) and to enable them to carry out their proper apostolate, "guided by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church, and impelled by Christian charity" (Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 7).

In your ministry of governance, you should consider it a clear pastoral priority to assist the lay faithful in understanding and embracing the munus regale which they have received by their baptismal incorporation into Christ. As the Church’s tradition affirms, this kingly office is expressed first in that "royal freedom" which enables the faithful to overcome the reign of sin in their own lives and, "by serving Christ in others..., to guide them to that King whom to serve is to reign" (Lumen Gentium LG 36). The lay faithful, however, exercise this kingly office in a specific way through their efforts to extend the Kingdom of God in and through their secular activity, so that "the world will be imbued with the Spirit of Christ and more effectively attain its purpose in justice, in love and in peace" (ibid.).

3. It follows that lay men and women must be encouraged, through sound catechesis and continuing formation, to recognize the distinctive dignity and mission which they have received in Baptism and to embody in all their daily activities an integrated approach to life which finds its inspiration and strength from the Gospel (cf. Christifideles Laici CL 34). This means that the laity must be trained to distinguish clearly between their rights and duties as members of the Church and those which they have as members of human society, and encouraged to combine the two harmoniously, recognizing that "in every temporal affair they are to be guided by their Christian conscience, since there is no human activity – even of the temporal order – that can be withdrawn from God’s dominion" (Lumen Gentium LG 36).

A clear and authoritative reaffirmation of these fundamental principles of the lay apostolate will help to overcome the serious pastoral problems created by a growing failure to understand the Church’s binding obligation to remind the faithful of their duty in conscience to act in accordance with her authoritative teaching. There is urgent need for a comprehensive catechesis on the lay apostolate which will necessarily highlight the importance of a properly formed conscience, the intrinsic relationship between freedom and moral truth, and the grave duty incumbent upon each Christian to work to renew and perfect the temporal order in accordance with the values of God’s Kingdom. While fully respecting the legitimate separation of Church and State in American life, such a catechesis must also make clear that for the faithful Christian there can be no separation between the faith which is to be believed and put into practice (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 25) and a commitment to full and responsible participation in professional, political and cultural life.

Given the importance of these issues for the life and mission of the Church in your country, I would encourage you to consider the inculcation of the doctrinal and moral principles underlying the lay apostolate as essential to your ministry as teachers and shepherds of the Church in America. I also invite you to discern, in consultation with members of the laity outstanding for their fidelity, knowledge and prudence, the most effective ways of promoting catechesis and clear-sighted reflection on this important area of the Church’s social teaching.

4. An appreciation of the distinct gifts and apostolate of the laity will naturally lead to a strengthened commitment to fostering among the laity a sense of shared responsibility for the life and mission of the Church. In stressing the need for a theology and spirituality of communion and mission for the renewal of ecclesial life, I have pointed to the importance of "making our own the ancient pastoral wisdom which, without prejudice to their authority, encouraged Pastors to listen more widely to the People of God" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 45). Certainly this will involve a conscious effort on the part of each Bishop to develop, within his particular Church, structures of communion and participation which make it possible, without prejudice to his personal responsibility for decisions he is called to make by virtue of his apostolic authority, "to listen to the Spirit who lives and speaks in the faithful" (cf. Pastores Gregis ). More importantly, it calls for the cultivation, in every aspect of ecclesial life, of a spirit of communion grounded in the supernatural sensus fidei and the rich variety of charisms and missions which the Holy Spirit pours out upon the whole body of the baptized in order to build them up in unity and fidelity to the word of God (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 12). An understanding of cooperation and shared responsibility which is firmly rooted in the principles of a sound ecclesiology will ensure a genuine and fruitful collaboration between the Church’s Pastors and the lay faithful, without the danger of distorting this relationship by the uncritical importation of categories and structures drawn from secular life.

5. Dear Brothers, in a spirit of gratitude and profound appreciation, let us commend to the Lord all the lay faithful of your particular Churches – the young people who are the hope of the future and even now are called to be a ferment of life and renewal in the Church and in American society, the married couples who strive to mirror in themselves and in their families the mystery of Christ’s love for the Church, and the countless men and women who strive each day to bring the light of the Gospel to their homes, their workplaces and to the whole life of society. May they be ever more credible witnesses of the faith which has reconciled us to God (cf. Rom Rm 5,1), the love which will transfigure the world, and the hope which looks forward to "new heavens and a new earth, where, according to his promise, the justice of God will reside" (2P 3,13).

With these sentiments and with fraternal affection, I invoke upon you and upon the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care the loving protection of Mary, Mother of the Church. To all I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.




Saturday, 4 December 2004

Your Eminence,

1. On the occasion of the Annual Congress of the Vatican Foundation Centesimus Annus - Pro Pontifice, I am pleased to address my cordial greeting to you and the members, with a special thought for the President, Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera.

I was delighted to learn that since its creation just over 10 years ago the Foundation has started to spread in the Dioceses of various Nations and is attracting more and more members. I urge you to persevere in the enterprise on which you have embarked, ever careful to preserve a close relationship with the Pastors of the local Churches.

2. The Foundation intends to combine material support for the activities of the Pope and of the Holy See with dedication to spreading the teaching of the Church on the great social issues that Christians are required to face in the light and with the strength of the Gospel of Jesus, the great revealer of God's truth about man.

This year, your reflection has focused most appropriately on the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, recently published by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace.

Indeed, the text is an up-to-date means of acquiring knowledge of Catholic social teaching of which, as time has passed, important studies have been made in response to the complex problems of a global society in rapid and troubled development.

Much remains to be done to ensure that this enriching contribution of ecclesial teaching becomes a consistent yardstick and a certain force of inspiration for Christian social action. One sometimes has the impression either that the social doctrine of the Church is mentioned rather than known, or that it is seen merely as a horizon of values perhaps too grand and noble ever to be put into practice in this world, rather than a demanding criterion for judgment and action.

3. It is therefore truly important to have a precise, motivated and complete approach to making the Church's social teaching known so as to avoid stressing any one aspect more than another, swayed by preconceived emotions or views, thus losing sight of its integral structure and using it instrumentally.

In addition, people must learn to use this doctrine as a valid reference in the context of family, professional and civil responsibilities. They must accept it as a shared criterion for personal and community decisions and actions, in continuity with the fine witness borne, especially since Rerum Novarum, by Christians, both lowly and great, who have lived the passion for the human cause in the light of the Gospel.

In any case, it will be crucial to understand the social doctrine as an element that characterizes the spirituality of the lay faithful. In this regard, the Compendium fittingly recalls that lay spirituality "steers clear of both intimistic spiritualism and social activism and can be expressed in a vital synthesis that confers unity, meaning and hope upon life, which is contradictory and fragmented for many different reasons" (cf. Compendium, n. 545).

4. I therefore urge the Members to spare no effort to ensure that the Foundation seeks to pursue these goals in full harmony with the Statutes, recently updated after the experience of the first decade.

The important issues that trouble and challenge humanity across the world in a more and more "global" and "interdependent" context must be faced with clear-sighted vision by man and his personal and social vocation based on natural law, their common foundation. However, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls, "The precepts of natural law are not perceived by everyone clearly and immediately. In the present situation sinful man needs grace and revelation so moral and religious truths may be known "by everyone with facility, with firm certainty and with no admixture of error' [First Vatican Council, Constitution, cf. Dei Filius, n. 2]" (n. 1960).

5. The social teaching of the Church illumines the values of an orderly and supportive human coexistence with the light of Revelation and keeps them clear and unambiguous. Lay Christians, open to the action of God's grace, are the living means of effectively instilling these values in history.

Therefore, as I once again express my appreciation for the Members' formative and cultural activity and the generous support they offer the Pope to enable him to respond better to the many needs that call on his pastoral tenderness for all the Churches, I gladly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you, Venerable Brother, and to each one of them, and I gladly extend it to all your loved ones.

Speeches 2004 - Friday, 26 October 2004