Audiences 2005-2013 19038

Wednesday, 19 March 2008 - Easter Triduum

Dear Friends,

I offer a cordial welcome to all of you who have come to Rome from various countries and universities to celebrate Holy Week together, and to take part in the International UNIV Congress. In this way, you will be able to benefit from moments of common prayer, cultural enrichment and a helpful exchange of the experiences gained from your association with the centres and activities of Christian formation sponsored by the Prelature of Opus Dei in your respective cities and nations.

Vosotros sabéis que con un serio compromiso personal, inspirado en los valores evangélicos, es posible responder adecuadamente a los grandes interrogantes del tiempo presente. El cristiano sabe que hay un nexo inseparable entre verdad, ética y responsabilidad. Toda expresión cultural auténtica contribuye a formar la conciencia y estimula a la persona a superarse a si misma a fin de que pueda mejorar la sociedad. Uno se siente así responsable ante la verdad, al servicio de la cual ha de ponerse la propia libertad personal. Se trata ciertamente de una misión comprometida y para realizarla el cristiano está llamado a seguir a Jesús, cultivando una intensa amistad con Él a través de la oración y de la contemplación. Ser amigos de Cristo y dar testimonio de Él allí donde nos encontremos exige, además, el esfuerzo de ir contracorriente, recordando las palabras del Seńor: estáis en el mundo pero no sois del mundo (cf.
Jn 15,19). No tengáis, por tanto, miedo, cuando sea necesario, de ser inconformistas en la universidad, en el colegio y en todas partes.

Cari giovani dell’UNIV, siate lievito di speranza in questo mondo che anela di incontrare Gesů, talora senza neppure rendersene conto. Per migliorarlo, sforzatevi anzitutto di cambiare voi stessi mediante una vita sacramentale intensa, specialmente accostandovi al sacramento della Penitenza e prendendo parte assiduamente alla celebrazione dell’Eucaristia. Affido ciascuno di voi e le vostre famiglie a Maria, che non smise mai di contemplare il Volto del suo Figlio Gesů. Su ciascuno di voi invoco la protezione di San Josemaria e di tutti i Santi delle vostre terre, mentre di cuore vi auguro Buona Pasqua!
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Easter Triduum

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Easter Triduum, which the Church now prepares to celebrate, invites us to share in the mystery of Christ’s suffering, death and resurrection. These days are the heart of the liturgical year. On Holy Thursday the Church recalls the Last Supper. At the Chrism Mass, the Bishop and his priests renew their priestly promises and the sacramental oils are blessed. The Mass of the Lord’s Supper commemorates Jesus’ institution of the sacrament of his Body and Blood and his commandment that we should love one another. On Good Friday, we ponder the mystery of sin as we listen to the account of the Lord’s passion and venerate the wood of his Cross. Holy Saturday, a day of silence and prayer, prepares for the joy of the Easter Vigil, when the light of Christ dispels all darkness, and the saving power of his Paschal Mystery is communicated in the sacrament of Baptism. May our sharing in these solemn celebrations deepen our conversion to Christ, particularly through the sacrament of Reconciliation, and our communion, in the hope of the resurrection, with all our suffering brothers and sisters throughout the world.

To special groups

I offer a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Audience, especially the pilgrims from Ireland, Canada and the United States. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord!

St Peter's Square

Wednesday, 26 March 2008 - Octave of Easter

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"Et resurrexit tertia die secundum Scripturas - On the third day he rose again according to the Scriptures". Every Sunday, with the Creed, we renew our profession of faith in Christ's Resurrection, a surprising event which is the keystone of Christianity. Everything in the Church is understood on the basis of this great mystery which changed the course of history and becomes present in every Eucharistic celebration. However, there is one liturgical season in which this central reality of the Christian faith is presented more vividly to the faithful, with its doctrinal richness and inexhaustible vitality, so that they may discover it ever better and live it more faithfully: it is the Easter Season. Every year, in the "Most Holy Triduum of the Crucified, dead and Risen Christ", as St Augustine calls it, the Church relives the last events of Jesus' earthly life in an atmosphere of prayer and penance: his condemnation to death, his ascent to Calvary carrying the Cross, his sacrifice for our salvation, being laid in the tomb. Then on the "third day" the Church relives his Resurrection: it is the Passover, Jesus' passing from death to life in which the ancient prophecies were completely fulfilled. The entire liturgy of the Easter Season sings the certitude and joy of Christ's Resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must constantly renew our adherence to Christ who died and rose for us: his Passover is also our Passover because in the Risen Christ we are given the certainty of our own resurrection. The news of his being raised from the dead never ages and Jesus is alive for ever; and his Gospel is alive. "The faith of Christians", St Augustine observed, "is the Resurrection of Christ". The Acts of the Apostles explain it clearly: "God has given assurance to all men by raising him [Jesus] from the dead" (
Ac 17,31). Indeed, his death did not suffice to demonstrate that Jesus is truly the Son of God, the awaited Messiah. How many people in the course of history devoted their lives to a cause they deemed right and died for it! And dead they remained. The Lord's death reveals the immense love with which he loved us, to the point of sacrificing himself for us; but his Resurrection alone is our "assurance", the certainty that what he said is the truth which also applies for us, for all times. In raising Jesus, the Father glorified him. In his Letter to the Romans St Paul wrote: "If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Rm 10,9).

It is important to reaffirm this fundamental truth of our faith whose historical veracity is amply documented even if today, as in the past, there are many who in various ways cast doubt on it or even deny it. The enfeeblement of faith in the Resurrection of Jesus results in weakening the witness of believers. In fact, should the Church's faith in the Resurrection weaken, everything will come to a halt, everything will disintegrate. On the contrary, the adherence of heart and mind to the dead and Risen Christ changes the life and brightens the entire existence of people and peoples. Is it not the certainty that Christ is risen which instils courage, prophetic daring and perseverance in martyrs of every epoch? Is it not the encounter with the living Jesus that converts and fascinates so many men and women who from the beginnings of Christianity have continued to leave all things to follow him and put their own lives at the service of the Gospel? "If Christ has not been raised", the Apostle Paul said, "then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1Co 15,14). But he was raised!

The proclamation we listen to constantly in these days is exactly this: Jesus is risen, he is the Living One and we can encounter him; just as the women who had gone to the tomb met him on the third day, the day after the Sabbath; just as the disciples encountered him, surprised and dismayed by what the women had told them; just as so many other witnesses met him during the days following his Resurrection. And after his Ascension, Jesus also continued to be present among his friends as he had promised: "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20). The Lord is with us, with his Church, until the end of time. Illumined by the Holy Spirit, the members of the early Church began to proclaim the announcement of Easter openly and fearlessly. And this announcement, passed on from one generation to the next, has come down to us and every year at Easter rings out with ever new power.

Especially in this Octave of Easter the liturgy invites us to meet the Risen One personally and to recognize his life-giving action in the events of history and in our daily lives. This Wednesday, for example, the moving episode of the two disciples of Emmaus is presented to us once again (cf. Lc 24,13-35). After Jesus' crucifixion, immersed in sadness and disappointment, they were going home dejected. On their way, they discussed the events that had occurred in those days in Jerusalem; it was then that Jesus approached and began to talk to them and teach them: "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" (Lc 24,25-26). Then starting with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. Christ's teaching - the explanation of the prophecies - was like an unexpected revelation to the disciples of Emmaus, enlightening and comforting. Jesus gave them a new key for interpreting the Bible and everything then appeared clear, oriented to that very moment. Won over by the words of the unknown wayfarer, they invited him to stop and have supper with them. And he accepted and sat down to table with them. The Evangelist Luke says: "When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it, and gave it to them" (Lc 24,30). And it was at that very moment that the eyes of the two disciples were opened and they recognized him, but "he vanished out of their sight" (Lc 24,31). And full of wonder and joy they commented: "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Lc 24,32).

Throughout the liturgical year, particularly in Holy Week and Easter Week, the Lord walks beside us and explains the Scriptures to us, makes us understand this mystery: everything speaks of him. And this should also make our hearts burn within us, so that our eyes too may be opened. The Lord is with us, he shows us the true path. Just as the two disciples recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, so today, in the breaking of the bread, let us too recognize his presence. The disciples of Emmaus recognized him and remembered the times when Jesus had broken the bread. And this breaking of the bread reminds us of the first Eucharist celebrated in the context of the Last Supper, when Jesus broke the bread and thus anticipated his death and Resurrection by giving himself to the disciples. Jesus also breaks bread with us and for us, he makes himself present with us in the Holy Eucharist, he gives us himself and opens our hearts. In the Holy Eucharist, in the encounter with his Word, we too can meet and know Jesus at this two-fold Table of the Word and of the consecrated Bread and Wine. Every Sunday the community thus relives the Lord's Passover and receives from the Saviour his testament of love and brotherly service. Dear brothers and sisters, may the joy of these days strengthen our faithful attachment to the Crucified and Risen Christ. Above all, may we let ourselves be won over by the fascination of his Resurrection. May Mary help us to be messengers of the light and joy of Easter for all our brethren. Once again, I wish you all a Happy Easter.

To special groups

I offer a warm welcome to the international group of School Sisters of St Francis gathered in Rome. I also thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Wales, Ireland, Indonesia, Japan, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and the newly-weds. Dear young people - and especially you, boys and girls - who have come in such large numbers from the parishes and after-school prayer and recreation centres of the Archdiocese of Milan, may you be enthusiastic protagonists in the Church and in society. May you who are making your "Profession of Faith" this year strive to build the civilization of love, founded on Christ who died and rose for all. Dear sick people, may the light of the Resurrection illuminate and sustain your daily suffering, making it fruitful for the benefit of all humanity. And you, dear newly-weds, may you every day draw from the Paschal Mystery the strength for a sincere and inexhaustible love.

St Peter's Square

Wednesday, 9 April 2008 - Saint Benedict of Norcia

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, I would like to speak about Benedict, the Founder of Western Monasticism and also the Patron of my Pontificate. I begin with words that St Gregory the Great wrote about St Benedict: "The man of God who shone on this earth among so many miracles was just as brilliant in the eloquent exposition of his teaching" (cf. Dialogues II, 36). The great Pope wrote these words in 592 A.D. The holy monk, who had died barely 50 years earlier, lived on in people's memories and especially in the flourishing religious Order he had founded. St Benedict of Norcia, with his life and his work, had a fundamental influence on the development of European civilization and culture. The most important source on Benedict's life is the second book of St Gregory the Great's Dialogues. It is not a biography in the classical sense. In accordance with the ideas of his time, by giving the example of a real man - St Benedict, in this case - Gregory wished to illustrate the ascent to the peak of contemplation which can be achieved by those who abandon themselves to God. He therefore gives us a model for human life in the climb towards the summit of perfection. St Gregory the Great also tells in this book of the Dialogues of many miracles worked by the Saint, and here too he does not merely wish to recount something curious but rather to show how God, by admonishing, helping and even punishing, intervenes in the practical situations of man's life. Gregory's aim was to demonstrate that God is not a distant hypothesis placed at the origin of the world but is present in the life of man, of every man.

This perspective of the "biographer" is also explained in light of the general context of his time: straddling the fifth and sixth centuries, "the world was overturned by a tremendous crisis of values and institutions caused by the collapse of the Roman Empire, the invasion of new peoples and the decay of morals". But in this terrible situation, here, in this very city of Rome, Gregory presented St Benedict as a "luminous star" in order to point the way out of the "black night of history" (cf. John Paul II, 18 May 1979). In fact, the Saint's work and particularly his Rule were to prove heralds of an authentic spiritual leaven which, in the course of the centuries, far beyond the boundaries of his country and time, changed the face of Europe following the fall of the political unity created by the Roman Empire, inspiring a new spiritual and cultural unity, that of the Christian faith shared by the peoples of the Continent. This is how the reality we call "Europe" came into being.

St Benedict was born around the year 480. As St Gregory said, he came "ex provincia Nursiae" - from the province of Norcia. His well-to-do parents sent him to study in Rome. However, he did not stay long in the Eternal City. As a fully plausible explanation, Gregory mentions that the young Benedict was put off by the dissolute lifestyle of many of his fellow students and did not wish to make the same mistakes. He wanted only to please God: "soli Deo placere desiderans" (II Dialogues, Prol. 1). Thus, even before he finished his studies, Benedict left Rome and withdrew to the solitude of the mountains east of Rome. After a short stay in the village of Enfide (today, Affile), where for a time he lived with a "religious community" of monks, he became a hermit in the neighbouring locality of Subiaco. He lived there completely alone for three years in a cave which has been the heart of a Benedictine Monastery called the "Sacro Speco" (Holy Grotto) since the early Middle Ages. The period in Subiaco, a time of solitude with God, was a time of maturation for Benedict. It was here that he bore and overcame the three fundamental temptations of every human being: the temptation of self-affirmation and the desire to put oneself at the centre, the temptation of sensuality and, lastly, the temptation of anger and revenge. In fact, Benedict was convinced that only after overcoming these temptations would he be able to say a useful word to others about their own situations of neediness. Thus, having tranquilized his soul, he could be in full control of the drive of his ego and thus create peace around him. Only then did he decide to found his first monasteries in the Valley of the Anio, near Subiaco.

In the year 529, Benedict left Subiaco and settled in Monte Cassino. Some have explained this move as an escape from the intrigues of an envious local cleric. However, this attempt at an explanation hardly proved convincing since the latter's sudden death did not induce Benedict to return (II Dialogues, 8). In fact, this decision was called for because he had entered a new phase of inner maturity and monastic experience. According to Gregory the Great, Benedict's exodus from the remote Valley of the Anio to Monte Cassio - a plateau dominating the vast surrounding plain which can be seen from afar - has a symbolic character: a hidden monastic life has its own raison d'ętre but a monastery also has its public purpose in the life of the Church and of society, and it must give visibility to the faith as a force of life. Indeed, when Benedict's earthly life ended on 21 March 547, he bequeathed with his Rule and the Benedictine family he founded a heritage that bore fruit in the passing centuries and is still bearing fruit throughout the world.

Throughout the second book of his Dialogues, Gregory shows us how St Benedict's life was steeped in an atmosphere of prayer, the foundation of his existence. Without prayer there is no experience of God. Yet Benedict's spirituality was not an interiority removed from reality. In the anxiety and confusion of his day, he lived under God's gaze and in this very way never lost sight of the duties of daily life and of man with his practical needs. Seeing God, he understood the reality of man and his mission. In his Rule he describes monastic life as "a school for the service of the Lord" (Prol. RB 1,45) and advises his monks, "let nothing be preferred to the Work of God" [that is, the Divine Office or the Liturgy of the Hours] (RB 43,3). However, Benedict states that in the first place prayer is an act of listening (Prol. RB 1,9-11), which must then be expressed in action. "The Lord is waiting every day for us to respond to his holy admonitions by our deeds" (Prol. RB 1,35). Thus, the monk's life becomes a fruitful symbiosis between action and contemplation, "so that God may be glorified in all things" (RB 57,9). In contrast with a facile and egocentric self-fulfilment, today often exalted, the first and indispensable commitment of a disciple of St Benedict is the sincere search for God (RB 58,7) on the path mapped out by the humble and obedient Christ (RB 5,13), whose love he must put before all else (RB 4,21 RB 72,11), and in this way, in the service of the other, he becomes a man of service and peace. In the exercise of obedience practised by faith inspired by love (RB 5,2), the monk achieves humility (RB 5,1), to which the Rule dedicates an entire chapter (RB 7). In this way, man conforms ever more to Christ and attains true self-fulfilment as a creature in the image and likeness of God.

The obedience of the disciple must correspond with the wisdom of the Abbot who, in the monastery, "is believed to hold the place of Christ" (RB 2,2 RB 63,13). The figure of the Abbot, which is described above all in Chapter II of the Rule with a profile of spiritual beauty and demanding commitment, can be considered a self-portrait of Benedict, since, as St Gregory the Great wrote, "the holy man could not teach otherwise than as he himself lived" (cf. Dialogues II, 36). The Abbot must be at the same time a tender father and a strict teacher (cf. RB 2,24), a true educator. Inflexible against vices, he is nevertheless called above all to imitate the tenderness of the Good Shepherd (RB 27,8), to "serve rather than to rule" (RB 64,8) in order "to show them all what is good and holy by his deeds more than by his words" and "illustrate the divine precepts by his example" (RB 2,12). To be able to decide responsibly, the Abbot must also be a person who listens to "the brethren's views" (RB 3,2), because "the Lord often reveals to the youngest what is best" (RB 3,3). This provision makes a Rule written almost 15 centuries ago surprisingly modern! A man with public responsibility even in small circles must always be a man who can listen and learn from what he hears.

Benedict describes the Rule he wrote as "minimal, just an initial outline" (cf. RB 73,8); in fact, however, he offers useful guidelines not only for monks but for all who seek guidance on their journey toward God. For its moderation, humanity and sober discernment between the essential and the secondary in spiritual life, his Rule has retained its illuminating power even to today. By proclaiming St Benedict Patron of Europe on 24 October 1964, Paul VI intended to recognize the marvellous work the Saint achieved with his Rule for the formation of the civilization and culture of Europe. Having recently emerged from a century that was deeply wounded by two World Wars and the collapse of the great ideologies, now revealed as tragic utopias, Europe today is in search of its own identity. Of course, in order to create new and lasting unity, political, economic and juridical instruments are important, but it is also necessary to awaken an ethical and spiritual renewal which draws on the Christian roots of the Continent, otherwise a new Europe cannot be built. Without this vital sap, man is exposed to the danger of succumbing to the ancient temptation of seeking to redeem himself by himself - a utopia which in different ways, in 20th-century Europe, as Pope John Paul II pointed out, has caused "a regression without precedent in the tormented history of humanity" (Address to the Pontifical Council for Culture, 12 January 1990). Today, in seeking true progress, let us also listen to the Rule of St Benedict as a guiding light on our journey. The great monk is still a true master at whose school we can learn to become proficient in true humanism.

To special groups

I am happy to greet the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, including the pilgrims from the Archdiocese of Manila, and the many groups from England and the United States. May your lives, after the example of St Benedict, be lived in humility, prayer, obedience to God and faithful service to your neighbour. May the Lord bless you and your families!

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and the newly-weds, exhorting each one to live this Easter Season intensely, witnessing to the joy that the dead and Risen Christ gives to those who entrust themselves to him.

St Peter's Square

Wednesday, 30 April 2008 - Apostolic Journey to the United States of America

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Although several days have already passed since my return, I would like, nevertheless, to devote today's Catechesis, as usual, to the Apostolic Journey I made to the United Nations Organizations and to the United States of America from 15 to 21 April. I first of all renew the expression of my most heartfelt gratitude to the United States Bishops' Conference, and likewise to President Bush for having invited me, and for the warm welcome they gave me. I would like, however, to extend my "thank you" to all those in Washington and in New York who came to greet me and to express their love for the Pope or who accompanied and sustained me with their prayers and the offering of their sacrifices. As is well known, the occasion of the Visit was the 200th anniversary of the elevation of the Country's first Diocese - Baltimore - to a metropolitan Archdiocese and the establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Louisville. On this characteristically ecclesial occasion, I therefore had the joy of going in person, for the first time as Successor of Peter, to visit the beloved People of the United States of America, to strengthen Catholics in the faith, to renew and to increase brotherhood among all Christians and to proclaim to all the Message of "Christ our Hope" which resounds as the motto of my Journey.

During the Meeting with the President at his residence, I was able to pay tribute to this great Country which was built from the outset on the foundations of a felicitous combination of religious, ethical and political principles which still constitute a valid example of healthy secularism where the religious dimension, with the diversity of its expressions, is not only tolerated but appreciated as the Nation's "soul" and a fundamental guarantee of human rights and duties. In this context the Church can carry out her mission of evangelization and human promotion with freedom and commitment and also as a "critical conscience". She thus contributes to building a society worthy of the human person and, at the same time, encourages a Country such as the United States - to which everyone looks as to one of the principal actors on the international stage - toward global solidarity, ever more necessary and urgent, and the patient exercise of dialogue in international relations.

The mission and role of the ecclesial Community were naturally the focus of the Meeting with the Bishops, which was held at the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Washington. In the liturgical context of Vespers, we praised the Lord for the progress made by the People of God in the United States, for the zeal of its Pastors and the fervour and generosity of its faithful. This is expressed in the high and candid esteem in which faith is held and in countless charitable and humanitarian initiatives, at home and abroad. At the same time, I supported my Brothers in the Episcopate in their far from easy task of sowing the Gospel in a society marked by many contradictions, which even threaten the coherence of Catholics and the clergy themselves. I encouraged them to make their voice heard on the current moral and social issues and to form the lay faithful to be good "leaven" in the civil community, starting with the fundamental cell which is the family. In this regard I urged them to repropose the Sacrament of Matrimony as a gift and an indissoluble commitment between a man and a woman, the natural context for welcoming and raising children. The Church and the family, together with school, especially schools of Christian inspiration - must cooperate in order to offer young people a sound moral education, but in this task those who work in communications and entertainment also have a great responsibility. In thinking of the painful matter of the sexual abuse of minors committed by ordained ministers, I wanted to express my closeness to the Bishops, encouraging them in their endeavour to bind up the wounds and to strengthen relations with their priests. In responding to some of the questions the Bishops asked, I took the opportunity to stress several important aspects: the intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and "natural law"; a healthy conception of freedom that is understood and realized in love; the ecclesial dimension of Christian experience; the need for a new way to proclaim "salvation" as fullness of life, especially to young people, and to teach prayer, from which generous responses to the Lord's call germinate.

In the great and festive Eucharistic Celebration at Nationals Park Stadium in Washington we invoked the Holy Spirit upon the whole Church in the United States of America so that, firmly rooted in the faith transmitted by the Fathers and profoundly united and renewed, she may face present and future challenges with courage and hope, the hope that "does not disappoint us, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (
Rm 5,5). One of these challenges is certainly that of education. I therefore met at the Catholic University of America the Rectors of Catholic universities and colleges, diocesan heads of teaching and representatives of teachers and students. The duty to educate is an integral part of the Church's mission and the American ecclesial community is increasingly involved in it, at the same time rendering an important social and cultural service to the entire Country. It is important that this service continue, and it is likewise important to care for the quality of Catholic institutes so that in them people may truly be formed in accordance with "measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ" (cf. EP 4,13), combining faith and reason, freedom and truth. Thus with joy I strengthened teachers in their precious task of intellectual charity.

In a Country with a multicultural vocation such as the United States of America the meetings with the representatives of other religions have acquired special importance: in Washington, at the John Paul II Cultural Center, with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Jains; in New York, the Visit to the Synagogue. These were very cordial moments, especially the latter, which confirmed the common commitment to dialogue, and to the promotion of peace and of spiritual and moral values. In what can be considered the homeland of religious freedom, I wanted to recall that the latter should always be defended with united efforts, to avoid any form of discrimination and prejudice. And I emphasized the great responsibility of religious leaders both in teaching respect and non-violence, as well as keeping alive the deepest questions of the human conscience. The ecumenical celebration in Parish Church of St Joseph was also marked by great cordiality. Together we prayed the Lord to increase in Christians the ability to account, with ever greater unity, for the one great hope that is in them (cf. 1P 3,15) through their common faith in Jesus Christ.

Another important objective of my journey was the Visit to the Headquarters of the UN, the fourth Visit of a Pope after Paul VI's in 1965 and the two Visits of John Paul II in 1979 and 1995.
On the 60th anniversary of the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights" Providence gave me the opportunity to confirm the value of this Charter at the broadest and most authoritative supra-national Assembly. I referred to its universal foundations, that is, the dignity of the human person, created by God in his image and likeness so that he might cooperate in the world with God's great plan of life and peace. Like peace, respect for human rights is also rooted in "justice", in other words, in a valid ethical order for all epochs and all peoples, which can be summarized in the famous maxim: "Do not do to others what you would not like them to do to you" or, expressed in a positive form in Jesus' words: "Treat others the way you would have them treat you" (Mt 7,12). On this basis, which constitutes the Holy See's characteristic contribution to the United Nations Organization, I renewed and I renew again today the effective commitment of the Catholic Church to contribute to strengthening international relations marked by the principles of responsibility and solidarity.

The other moments of my stay in New York also remain deeply impressed on my heart. In St Patrick's Cathedral, in the heart of Manhattan - truly a "house of prayer for all peoples" I celebrated Holy Mass for priests and consecrated people who came from every part of the Country. I shall never forget the great warmth with which they congratulated me on the third anniversary of my election to the Chair of Peter. It was a moving moment in which I experienced in a tangible way all of the Church's support for my ministry. I can say the same about the Meeting with Young People and Seminarians at the Diocesan Seminary which was preceded by a very significant stop among disabled children and young people with their relatives. To the youth, who by their nature thirst for truth and love, I proposed several outstanding men and women who bore an exemplary witness to the Gospel in American territory, the Gospel of truth which makes them free in love, in service and in a life spent for others. By coming to grips with the problems that threaten young people today, they can find in the saints the light that dispels this darkness: the light of Christ, hope for every person! This hope, stronger than sin and death, enlivened the moment charged with emotion that I spent in silence in the abyss of Ground Zero, where I lit a candle, praying for all the victims of that terrible tragedy. Lastly, my Visit culminated in the Eucharistic celebration in New York's Yankee Stadium: I still carry in my heart that celebration of faith and brotherhood with which we celebrated the 200th anniversary of the oldest dioceses in North America. Enriched with faith and with the traditions of successive waves of immigrants, the little flock of the origins has developed enormously. To that Church, which now faces the challenges of the present time, I had the joy of proclaiming anew "Christ our Hope" yesterday, today, and for ever.

Dear brothers and sisters, I ask you to join me in thanksgiving for the comforting success of this Apostolic Visit and in asking God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, to make it bear a fruitful harvest for the Church in America and in every part of the world.
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To special groups

I offer a warm welcome to the participants in the third Christian-Buddhist Symposium, meeting in Castel Gandolfo during these days. Upon all of you and upon the English-speaking pilgrims from England, Ireland, Scandinavia, Malta, South Africa, Korea, Thailand, Canada and the United States, I cordially invoke the joy and peace of the Risen Christ.

My thoughts go lastly to the young people, the sick and the newly weds. Today the liturgy commemorates the holy Pontiff Pius V who, moved by profound love for the Church, promoted the propagation of the faith with tireless zeal and reformed liturgical worship. May his example and his intercession encourage you, dear young people, to carry out authentically and coherently your Christian vocation; may it sustain you, dear sick people, so that you may persevere in hope and offer your sufferings in union with those of Christ for the salvation of humanity; may it make you, dear newly-weds grow in the reciprocal commitment to fidelity and love.

St Peter's Square

Audiences 2005-2013 19038