Speeches 2004 - Saturday, 4 December 2004



Monday, 6 December 2004

Mr Ambassador,

It is a cause of great joy for me to receive the Letters with which the Republic of Lithuania accredits you as its Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Holy See. Welcome!

I would like first of all to express to you my appreciation for your words conveying the sentiments of the Nation that you now represent here. I accept with gratitude and respect the message that the President of the Republic has addressed to me through you, also on behalf of the Lithuanian People.

Mr Ambassador, please convey my constant cordial thoughts to the Authorities of your Country which I had the joy of visiting in September 1993, together with the assurance of my remembrance in prayer for all the Lithuanians, to whom I am bound by cultural and spiritual ties.

Your presence, Mr Ambassador, evokes indelible memories of the many contacts I have had with the Lithuanian People. The Apostolic See, as you pointed out, has never ceased to follow their vicissitudes throughout their long and chequered history.

One of the tasks of the Successor of Peter is to sustain the faith of believers in every part of the world and, at the same time, to remind them constantly of those universal values on which it is possible to build a just and supportive society. Sustained by the age-old conviction that the universal moral law is a sure path to civil coexistence, the Holy See never tires of defending the right of peoples to enter the scene of history with their own particular features and respect for the legitimate freedom of each one.

I know that in the social and cultural debate that concerns your Country at this time, there is a growing awareness of the need to emphasize its Christian roots, which have nourished the social fabric with vital energy down the ages.

I am eager to express anew my hope that the Representatives of the Lithuanian citizens, continuing to draw on the noble patrimony of human and Gospel ideals that marks the Nation's history, will work with sincere dedication to build a free society on sound ethical and moral foundations. In this perspective, I urge the Catholics who make up a large part of the population to collaborate with all people of good will to prevent Lithuanian society from being heavily influenced by the secularist and hedonistic model of life and its deceptive attractions. Knowing that they cannot be content with fighting the consequences of evil, believers are prepared to walk side by side with those who, through the appropriate legislation and balanced conduct, work to safeguard the family and life, from conception until natural death.

May I likewise express my deep pleasure to you at the entry of the Country that you represent to the community of the European Union. May God grant that this Continent find the ways and means to build peace and prosperity in an atmosphere of fruitful collaboration, with respect for the cultures and legitimate rights of all, pursuing as a goal the good of individuals and of the whole of Europe, from the Atlantic to the Urals.

As I renew to you my fervent good wishes for the lofty mission that your Country has entrusted to you, I would like to assure you of the full, loyal and cordial collaboration of those who assist me in the fulfilment of the tasks incumbent on the Apostolic See. In my co-workers you will find an attentive partner with regard to bilateral issues, and more generally, to the pursuit of the international Community's common good.

The Apostolic See, which has signed several Agreements with Lithuania on matters of common interest, considers the method of cordial and loyal dialogue the best way to overcome any possible difficulty that might emerge in our mutual relations.

As I offer you my fervent good wishes for your exalted service that begins today, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to those who work with you and to your loved ones.





Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to receive you for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Peru to the Holy See. I offer you a cordial welcome and thank you for your kind words. Please convey to H.E. Mr Alejandro Toledo Manrique, President of the Republic, my gratitude for his greeting, in which the beloved Peruvian People join him. I deeply appreciate it and reciprocate by invoking upon them every kind of good.
Collaboration of Church and State.

Your presence clearly shows the traditional relations that as early as 1877 Peru established with the Holy See. Since they are motivated by a spirit of loyal cooperation in solidarity, it is to be hoped that they may always continue in an atmosphere of friendship and respect, since the Constitution of this Nation begins by invoking Almighty God and recognizes the State's close ties of collaboration with the Church.

Religious life in Peru is organized by the Bishops and the priests, their assistants, and has taken shape in the various communities and movements and in the centres for worship, social assistance, education and human and social advancement. This is a clear sign of how the vitality of faith can continue to support the valiant efforts of a noble people who do their utmost to forge ahead without by-passing the authentic roots of their Christian identity.

The Catholic faith, professed by the vast majority of your Country's population, gives rise to broad-minded behaviour in individuals and in society. Where there is no separation between faith and life, it fosters a consistent existence free from incongruity which is able to resist the temptation to have recourse to violence, selfishness and corruption, since the Church, faithful to her mission, offers her guidance for facing today's ethical challenges.

The conditions in which your Nation and a large part of the Latin American Continent live give rise to serious challenges that must be faced with generosity and upright judgment. Several months ago, the Bishops of Peru repeated their urgent appeal for "peace, concord and understanding... a call to hope, to build Peru, to seek social order, to defend the rights of the constitutional state". If, indeed, it is important to defend civic values, it should not be forgotten that they will be better respected when they are based on the ethical and moral values of honesty and effective solidarity, thus making it possible to correct unjust social inequalities and personal and social individualism that hinder the full achievement of the common good.

The efforts of the Authorities to improve the standard of living in the least privileged categories of society, by seeking to offer dignified work opportunities and attention to health care and a decent life, are well known. Unfortunately, however, poverty is continuing to mar thousands of citizens' lives. Meeting the basic needs of the most deprived and alienated persons must be considered a fundamental priority, since the rapid pace of international economic changes has put many of them in an almost desperate plight.

In this regard, the Church, mother and teacher, faithful to her mission, closely accompanies many families and people who today are living the dehumanizing consequences of this situation. This is one of the areas in which collaboration between the different public institutions and the Ecclesial Community finds fertile ground for serving and helping the poor.

Peru has also undertaken to strengthen its national institutions as well as its projects for regional integration. It is to be hoped in this regard that the defence of human life and the institution of the family, today threatened from all sides by an erroneous concept of modernity or freedom, is not beyond the reach of Government measures, since the family, in accordance with the natural order established by the Creator, is the irreplaceable foundation of a nation's harmonious development.

I would also like to say a word of closeness and encouragement to the large Peruvian community that has emigrated to other countries and whose presence in Europe is substantial. The remoteness of the Homeland is due in most cases to the desire to find a better standard of life. Of course, they must feel committed to contributing solutions to the Country that saw their birth and today still considers them her children, despite the distance.

The Church does not limit herself to recalling the fundamental ethical principle that "immigrants must always be treated with the respect due to the dignity of every human person" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2001, n. 13), but mobilizes all her resources to attend to them as well as possible. Indeed, with a certain frequency, churches and other Catholic institutions are becoming their main reference point; here they can meet, hold their celebrations, keep alive the identity of their homeland and find effective support, if not the only support, to defend their rights or find a solution to awkward situations.

Mr Ambassador, at this point, I would like to offer you my best wishes for the success of your mission to this Apostolic See. Please assure the Peruvian People of my prayer for their integral progress by recalling the words I said on my arrival at Lima Airport on my first Apostolic Visit: "The 500 years of the evangelization of this Land is a pledge to form a Latin American and Peruvian whose faith is very strong, who is very upright, very solidary, very respectful of the rights of others and ready to stand up for his or her own; someone who is very Christian and human" (cf. Arrival Address, 1 February 1985, n. 2). I ask God to help you in your mission that is beginning today, and I invoke every heavenly Blessing upon you, your distinguished family, your collaborators and the Government Leaders and citizens of Peru.



Tuesday, 7 December 2004

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I welcome you very warmly to this meeting which has a high symbolic value. Thank you for your distinguished presence. I greet each one of you, eminent members of the international scientific community.

I greet the Authorities and representatives of the public institutions. In particular, I greet Prof. Antonino Zichichi and thank him for his words on behalf of all.

2. Today I receive from your hands the "Erice Prize, Ettore Majorana - Science for Peace". I thank you for your generous gift. I will put it towards scholarships for needy Third World students.

The prize is associated with the memory of the famous Italian physicist who made a notable contribution to the development of theoretical nuclear physics. The International Centre of Scientific Culture, founded by Prof. Antonino Zichichi more than 40 years ago in Erice, Sicily, is dedicated to him. With time it has become an important "Upper Room" focused on various cultural areas of modern knowledge.

On previous occasions I have had the opportunity to appreciate the work done there, and I congratulate you on the results achieved.

3. May the joint efforts of the international scientific community, the public institutions and all people of good will guarantee humanity a future of hope and peace. May God make this common endeavour fruitful; in particular, may he help believers who are dedicated to scientific research to offer a clear Gospel witness and to encourage the dialogue between science and faith.

I entrust these wishes to the motherly intercession of Mary, while with all my heart I bless you who are present here, your loved ones and all those who attend to the Ettore Majorana Centre in Erice.




Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary

Wednesday, 8 December 2004

Immaculate Virgin!
Once again we are here to honour you, at the foot of this column
from which you lovingly watch
over Rome and the whole world,
ever since, 150 years ago,
Bl. Pius IX proclaimed
as a truth of the Catholic faith
your preservation from
every stain of sin
in anticipation of the
death and Resurrection
of your Son, Jesus Christ.

Immaculate Virgin!
Your spotless spiritual beauty
is for us a living source of
confidence and hope.
To have you as Mother, Holy Virgin,
reassures us on the path of life
as a pledge of eternal salvation.
Because of this, O Mary,
we have recourse to you
with confidence.
Help us to build a world
where human life is always
cherished and defended,
every form of violence banished,
the peace of all tenaciously sought.

Immaculate Virgin!
In this Year of the Eucharist,
grant that we may celebrate and adore
with renewed faith and ardent love
the holy mystery of the
Body and Blood of Christ.
At your school,
O Woman of the Eucharist,
teach us to remember the marvels
that God never ceases to work in
human hearts.
With motherly tenderness, Virgin Mary,
guide our steps always on the
path of good. Amen!




Friday, 10 December 2004

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. In this, the last of my meetings with the Pastors of the Church in the United States making their quinquennial visits ad limina Apostolorum, I offer a warm greeting to you, the Bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota.

In the course of this year, I have engaged with you and your fellow Bishops in a series of reflections on the threefold office of teaching, sanctifying and governing entrusted to the successors of the Apostles. Through a consideration of the spiritual gifts and the apostolic mission received at episcopal ordination, whereby each Bishop is sacramentally configured to Jesus Christ, the Head and chief Shepherd of his Church (cf. 1P 5,4), we have sought to deepen our appreciation of the mystery of the Church, the mystical Body of Christ, enlivened by the Holy Spirit and constantly built up in unity through a rich diversity of gifts, ministries and works (cf. 1Co 12,4-6 Lumen Gentium LG 7).

2. In these past eight months, I have been blessed with an opportunity to meet with each of the American Bishops, and, through them, to hear the living voice of the Church throughout the United States. This has been a source of great consolation for me, and an invitation to give thanks to the Triune God for the rich harvest which his grace continues to bring forth in your local Churches. At the same time, I have shared the deep pain which you and your people have experienced in these last years, and I have witnessed your determination to deal fairly and forthrightly with the serious pastoral issues which have been raised as a result. In fulfillment of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have wished to confirm each and every one of you in the faith (cf. Lk Lc 22,32) and to encourage you in your efforts to be "vigilant sentinels, courageous prophets, credible witnesses and faithful servants of Christ" for the People of God entrusted to your care (cf. Pastores Gregis ).

From the beginning of our meetings, I have stressed that your duty of building up the Church in communion and mission must necessarily begin with your own spiritual renewal, and I have encouraged you to be the first to indicate, by your own witness of conversion to the word of God and obedience to the apostolic Tradition, the royal way that leads the pilgrim Church to Christ and the fullness of his Kingdom. In particular, I have called you to adopt a lifestyle marked by that evangelical poverty which represents "an indispensable condition for a fruitful episcopal ministry" (Pastores Gregis ). As the Council itself stated, the Lord himself carried out the work of redemption in poverty and persecution, and his Church is called to follow along this same path (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 8).

3. Now, at the conclusion of this series of meetings, I leave two charges to you and your Brother Bishops. The first is a fraternal encouragement to persevere joyfully in the ministry entrusted to you, in obedience to the authentic teaching of the Church. Can we not see in the pain and scandal of recent years both a "sign of the times" (cf. Mt Mt 16,3) and a providential call to conversion and deeper fidelity to the demands of the Gospel? In the life of each believer and the life of the whole Church, a sincere examination of conscience and the recognition of failure is always accompanied by renewed confidence in the healing power of God’s grace and a summons to press on to what lies ahead (Ph 3,13). In her own way, the Church in the United States has been called to begin the new millennium by "starting afresh from Christ" (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 29) and by making the truth of the Gospel clearly the measure of her life and all her activity.

In this light, I once more praise your efforts to ensure that each individual and group in the Church understands the urgent need for a consistent, honest and faithful witness to the Catholic faith, and that each of the Church’s institutions and apostolates expresses in every aspect of its life a clear Catholic identity.This is perhaps the most difficult and delicate challenge which you face in your role as teachers and shepherds of the Church in America today, yet it is one which cannot be renounced. In fulfilling your duty to "teach, exhort and correct with all authority" (cf. Tit Tt 2,15), you are first called to be "united in mind and judgment" (1Co 1,10), working harmoniously in the proclamation of the Gospel.

4. The second charge is a heartfelt appeal to keep your gaze fixed on the great goal set before the whole Church at the dawn of this third Christian millennium: the proclamation of Jesus Christ as the Redeemer of humanity. If the events of the past few years have necessarily focused your attention on the interior life of the Church, this should in no way distract you from lifting your eyes to the great task of the new evangelization and the need for "a new apostolic outreach" (Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 40). Duc in altum! "The Church in America must speak increasingly of Jesus Christ, the human face of God and the divine face of man" (Ecclesia in America ), devoting the best of her efforts to a more compelling proclamation of the Gospel, the growth of holiness, and the more effective transmission of the treasure of the faith to the younger generation.

Since a clear sense of mission will naturally bear fruit in unity of purpose among all the members of the Christian community (cf. Christifideles Laici CL 32), such a missionary outreach will surely promote the work of reconciliation and renewal within your local Churches. It will also consolidate and advance the Church’s prophetic witness in contemporary American society. The Church feels responsible for every human being and for the future of society (cf. Redemptor Hominis RH 15), and this responsibility falls in a particular way to the lay faithful, whose vocation is to be a leaven of the Gospel in the world. As we look to the challenges lying before the Church in the United States today, two urgent tasks immediately present themselves: the need for an evangelization of culture in general, which, as I have stated, is a unique contribution which the Church in your country can make to the mission ad gentes today, and the need for Catholics to cooperate fruitfully with men and women of good will in building a culture of respect for life (cf. Evangelium Vitae EV 95).

5. Dear Brothers, I give thanks to God for the many blessings bestowed during this series of meetings of the Successor of Peter with the American Bishops. Having come to the heart of the Church and been confirmed in communion with the Chair of unity, may you now return to your local Churches with renewed enthusiasm for your mission of teaching, sanctifying and governing the flocks entrusted to your care. As you bear "the burden of the day and the heat" (cf. Mt Mt 20,12) in the service of the Gospel, may you always be reassured by the knowledge that, at every step of her earthly journey, "the Church draws strength from the power of her Risen Lord to overcome, in patience and in charity, her sorrows and her difficulties, both those from within and those from without, so that she may reveal in the world, faithfully albeit amid shadows, the mystery of her Lord, until in the end it shall be manifested in the fullness of light" (Lumen Gentium LG 8).

Our meetings have fittingly come to an end during the week in which the Church celebrates the sesquicentenary of the definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Patroness of the Church in the United States. As we lift up the fruits of these visits to the Lord and implore his blessings upon the Catholic community in America, let us turn our eyes to Our Lady, who, in the words of the Council, remains "the pre-eminent and wholly unique member of the Church, and its outstanding model in faith and love" (Lumen Gentium LG 13). May Mary Immaculate guide each of you, together with all the clergy, religious and lay faithful of your local Churches, along your pilgrim way to the fullness of the Kingdom, and lift your eyes to the glorious vision of a creation redeemed and transformed by grace. May she, the Mother of the Church, assist her children, "who have fallen yet strive to rise again," to rejoice in the great things which the Lord has already accomplished (cf. Lk Lc 1,49) and to be faithful witnesses before the world of the hope which will never leave us disappointed (cf. Rom Rm 5,5).

To all of you, with great affection in the Lord, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.





Saturday, 11 December 2004

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you for the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Croatia to the Holy See. I am grateful to you for your cordial words, also on behalf of the President of the Republic, the Government and the Croatian People whom you represent here. Please convey to them the assurance of my esteem and benevolence as well as of my prayers for peace and for the harmonious development of the entire Nation.

In receiving you, I am reminded of your beautiful and hospitable Croatia, which I have had the joy of visiting three times. My most recent Apostolic Pilgrimage there last year was also my 100th International Journey. On each occasion I could feel tangibly the very visible signs of Christianity incarnate in the life of the People.

By drawing on this incorruptible religious patrimony, Croatians will continue also in the future to build their history. With their strong spiritual identity they will be able to contribute their own experience to the consortium of European Peoples. I therefore hope that the sustained efforts of Croatia to join the European Union will be successful, and I share the concern expressed by some that if Croatia's entry into the European Union should be delayed, this could damage the process of democratic reform not only in this Country, but also in the other nations on that part of the Continent which are moving with strong hope towards European integration.

Mr Ambassador, in your words about the Croatian People's commitment to fostering dialogue, reconciliation and peace in your Homeland and in the larger consortium of Euro-Atlantic Countries, I could detect that universal aspiration to justice and cooperation that always motivates it. It is of course primarily the task of those responsible for the institutions to identify practical and technical ways to express these aspirations in legislation and in political initiatives. Believers, however, know that peace is not only the product of planning and human endeavour, but also a gift of God to people of good will. This peace then rests on the structural pillars of justice and forgiveness. Justice guarantees full respect for rights and duties and forgiveness heals and rebuilds from their foundations relationships between people who are still feeling the consequences of the clashes between ideologies in the recent past.

Yes! It is true, the Country you represent also needs reconciliation and peace. I am thinking, moreover, of the on-going problem of refugees and exiles and especially of the refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina who are waiting to return to their own homes.

I would like to express my appreciation for the concrete steps taken to resolve this problem, and I offer my fervent good wishes that the return to the Homeland of one and all will be effectively permitted and facilitated. In this regard, the recent Agreement between Croatia and Serbia makes a positive and important contribution to guaranteeing the full and reciprocal recognition of the rights of the Croat minority in Serbia and Montenegro, and of the Serb minority in the Republic of Croatia.

After the sad experience of totalitarianism that denied the fundamental rights of the human person and having left behind the grievous period of the last war, Croatia is now on its way towards harmonious progress, giving proof of patience and the readiness for sacrifice and persevering optimism as it tenaciously strives to create a better future for all its inhabitants. Stable social and economic development cannot fail to take into account the cultural, social and spiritual needs of the people, just as it must appreciate its noblest resources and popular traditions. It must do this, aware that the growing phenomenon of globalization worldwide could only negatively affect, in your Country too, the levelling out of social and economic diversities and accentuate the present imbalance between those who benefit from the ever greater possibility of producing wealth and those who are left on the fringes of progress.

Mr Ambassador, your Country boasts of a long tradition of useful collaboration between the ecclesial and secular Communities. In the recent past, the Church has also played a positive role in reconciliation and in solving many problems and tensions. I have had the opportunity to encourage the Bishops several times to spare no effort to promote an evangelization that makes the most of the valid elements of popular devotion and to cooperate actively with the State for the true good of Croatian society.

In this regard, the Agreements stipulated between the Holy See and Croatia that are demonstrating their efficacy have been useful, although some aspects still await full implementation. I have cause to think that the good relations which exist between the Government and the Church in Croatia will facilitate every further step to increase mutual understanding for the benefit of all citizens.

I am certain that in fulfilling the lofty task entrusted to you, you too will contribute to reinforcing the good relations that already exist between the Holy See and your Country. I assure you that you will be able to count on the full availability of all my collaborators in this regard.

I also wish you an enjoyable stay in the city of Rome, rich in history, culture and Christian faith. Its ancient remains are well known to you who are a scholar of Roman antiquities and Christian archaeology.

As I invoke the heavenly protection of the Mother of God, venerated as Advocata Croatiae fidelissima [most faithful advocate of Croatians], and of St Joseph, Patron of Croatia, upon you, Mr Ambassador, your family, the Government Authorities and all the inhabitants of the beloved Croatian Nation, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to your loved ones and to all those you represent here.



Saturday, 11 December 2004

Dear Brother in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet you and offer a special greeting to Bishop Jacques Perrier of Tarbes and Lourdes. I remember with emotion my pilgrimage to the Grotto of Massabielle and thank you for your warm welcome, which enabled me to meditate near Our Lady on this 150th Anniversary of the Dogma of the Immaculate Conception.

I thank all the people who contributed to the success of my stay. My thoughts go to the sick and to all the volunteers at the Shrines. I also join all the pilgrims who have come to entrust their intentions to Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother, inviting each one to study at her school. As I entrust you to Our Lady and to St Bernadette, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of the Diocese and those who work at the Shrines.


Monday, 13 December 2004

1. I joyfully welcome you today, dear Sons and Daughters of the Cross, and I cordially greet you. I greet Cardinal Andrzej Maria Deskur who has accompanied you and those in charge of your Institute.

Our Meeting acquires special value because it is taking place just a few days after the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. Moreover, this year is the 150th Anniversary of the proclamation of this important Marian Dogma by my Predecessor, Bl. Pius IX.

2. Dear Sons and Daughters of the Cross! Your spirituality is steeped in devotion to and love for the Virgin Mother of God.

Love Our Lady, to whom you are totally consecrated, and like her, be faithful disciples of Christ. Serve the Church with enthusiasm, fostering unity and perfect harmony with the Pastors of the Christian Communities to whom you offer your pastoral cooperation. This will make you effective witnesses of the One who, from high on the Cross, entrusted us all as children to his sweetest Mother.

May the Immaculate Conception continue to guide your steps and make you conform ever more closely to Jesus, who in a few days we will contemplate as a Child in the mystery of Holy Christmas. I express my fervent good wishes to you for the Christmas celebrations, and I cordially bless you all.




Thursday, 16 December 2004

Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican and to accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Thailand to the Holy See. I am grateful for the kind greetings which you bring from His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, and I request that you convey to him the assurance of my prayers for your country and its people. The long-standing ties between the Kingdom of Thailand and the Holy See find their origins in the seventeenth century when King Narai the Great and Pope Innocent XI began a cordial and friendly relationship. Indeed, this association remains a source of pride for both parties.

Thailand continues admirably to cultivate a climate of religious tolerance and peaceful coexistence among its citizens. In fact, this noble tradition in which the followers of differing beliefs live together in harmony is one of the foundations of your country. Examples of this are found not only in the Crown’s role as the protector of the nation’s moral and religious values but also in the new constitution’s guarantee of the right to full religious expression and religious liberty. It is regrettable, however, that even in the most tolerant of societies challenges to peaceful relationships among peoples can occur. In this regard, I assure Your Excellency that the Catholic Church has considerable experience in the field of inter-religious relations and is always willing to assist in fostering and facilitating dialogue to help resolve problems which may arise.

One of the primary ways the Church supports civil society in developing respect and understanding between diverse groups is through her commitment to education. Proper instruction makes it possible for people to acquire the necessary knowledge to become fully contributing members of society, promoting the solidarity and respect which unite individuals, families, peoples and nations. Humanity yearns for harmony and serenity, and it is only through the active and enlightened participation of all sectors of public life that this desire can be fulfilled. Education rooted in authentic values is the key to the future, the heart of proper communication and the way towards real development.

In Your Excellency’s remarks you mentioned King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s recognition that the people of Thailand need to offer one another mutual support. His philosophy for economic reform makes that clear, as it seeks to help those at the lowest economic levels by providing access to local resources and technology. I urge your nation to continue to assist those who are most in need so that they may obtain the economic self-sufficiency to which they have a right. One of the most effective ways to ensure this is by safeguarding family life. In fact, family life shapes the social and ethical order of human work and is the true source of genuine economic progress (cf. Encyclical Letter Laborem Exercens, 10). In Asia the family has traditionally enjoyed a high level of esteem, regarded not only as the heart of interpersonal relationships but also as a place of economic security for its members. "The Family, therefore, must rightfully be seen as an essential agent of economic life, guided not by the market mentality but by the logic of sharing and solidarity among generations" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 248). It is my hope that your Government will foster an ever greater respect for the importance of the family, convincing young people that material wealth and quick economic gain are no replacement for the loving rapport found in "domestic society".

Your Excellency has indicated the important role Thailand plays in regional and global politics. The growth of your country’s influence in the international community is a clear sign of its achievements in the social and political arenas. I pray that the civil authority will continue to participate actively in seeking solutions to today’s grave global problems. Be assured that the Church remains committed to assist in this challenge, promoting respect for international law and, in particular, encouraging the international community to continue its search for multilateral mechanisms which will lead to the peaceful resolution of conflict and to wider access to humanitarian aid.

Mr Ambassador, I offer you my best wishes at the beginning of your mission, and assure you of the readiness of the offices of the Holy See to assist you in your work. I invoke upon you and the beloved people of the Kingdom of Thailand abundant divine blessings.

Speeches 2004 - Saturday, 4 December 2004