Speeches 2005-13 21147
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After travelling to Vigevano this afternoon, I am now here with you in Pavia, in this square with the majestic and imposing 15th-century Cathedral that serves as its background. The mortal remains of St Syrus, the first Bishop between the third and fourth centuries, were for centuries jealously guarded in this church, as in a casket; for the moment, however, these relics are temporarily housed in the Church of Our Lady of Carmel. I thank you all for meeting me and for listening to me with deep warmth.
At this first meeting, I would like to greet Madam Mayor and Minister Mastella, to whom I am grateful for their cordial words. I also greet the other civil Authorities present.
I wish to address a special greeting to Bishop Giovanni Giudici, Pastor of the Diocese, and with him, I greet the priests, Religious and all who are actively dedicated to pastoral work.
I want to express a particularly affectionate greeting especially to you, dear young people, who have gathered here in such large numbers for my first contact with your Diocese. You represent its hope and its future: for this reason I am glad to begin my first Visit precisely with you. I am grateful that so many of you are present.
I come to you this evening to renew a proclamation which is ever young and to entrust to you a message which, when it is accepted, changes, renews and fills one's life. In this Easter Season, the Church proclaims this message with special joy: today too, the Risen Christ is alive among us!
Dear young people, how many of your peers have encountered him and have become his friends; they followed him faithfully and witnessed to his love with their own lives!
So do not be afraid to give your life to Christ: he never disappoints our expectations because he knows what is in our hearts. In following him faithfully, it will not be difficult for you to find the answer to the questions you bear in your heart: "What should I do? What task does life have in store for me?".
The Church, which needs your commitment, especially if she is to take the Gospel proclamation to your peers, supports you on the path of the knowledge of faith and of love for God and for your brothers and sisters.
Society, which in our time is marked by innumerable social changes, awaits your contribution in order to build a common coexistence that is less selfish and more supportive, truly inspired by the great ideals of justice, freedom and peace.
This is your mission, dear young friends! Let us work for justice, for peace, for solidarity, for true freedom.
May the Risen Christ, and together with him, the Virgin Mary, his Mother and our Mother, accompany you. With her example and her constant intercession, may Our Lady help you not to be downhearted in moments of failure, and to trust always in the Lord.
Once again, I warmly thank you for your presence and I bless you all with affection. Good night and good-bye until tomorrow!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The programme for my Pastoral Visit to Pavia could not have omitted a stop at the San Matteo Polyclinic to meet you, dear sick people, who come not only from the Province of Pavia but also from the whole of Italy.
I express my personal closeness and solidarity to each one of you as I also embrace in spirit the sick, the suffering, people in difficulty in your Diocese and all those who take loving care of them. I would like to reach out to you all with a word of encouragement and hope.
I address a respectful greeting to Mr Alberto Guglielmo, President of the Polyclinic, and I thank him for his cordial words that he has just addressed to me. My gratitude extends to the doctors, the nurses and all the personnel who work here daily.
I offer grateful thoughts to the Camillian Fathers who every day, with lively pastoral zeal, bring to the sick the comfort of the faith, as well as to the Sisters of Providence involved in generous service in keeping with the charism of St Luigi Scrosoppi, their Founder.
I express heartfelt thanks to the representative of the sick [who spoke prior to the Pope's Address] and I think with affection of their relatives who share moments of trepidation and trustful expectation with their loved ones.
A hospital is a place which in a certain way we might call "holy", where one experiences not only the frailty of human nature but also the enormous potential and resources of human ingenuity and technology at the service of life.
Human life! However often it is explored, this gift always remains a mystery.
I am aware that this hospital structure, your "San Matteo" Polyclinic, is well known in this City and in the rest of Italy, in particular for its pioneering surgery on several occasions. Here, you seek to alleviate suffering in the attempt to restore the person to complete health and this often happens, partly thanks to modern scientific discoveries; and here, truly comforting results are obtained.
I strongly hope that the necessary scientific and technological progress will constantly go hand in hand with the awareness that together with the good of the sick person, one is promoting those fundamental values, such as the respect for and defence of life in all its stages, on which the authentically human quality of coexistence depends.
Being here with you, it comes naturally to me to think of Jesus, who in the course of his earthly existence always showed special attention to the suffering, healing them and giving them the possibility of returning to a life of family and social relations which illness had compromised.
I am also thinking of the first Christian community, where, as we read in these days in the Acts of the Apostles, many cases of healing and miracles accompanied the Apostles' preaching.
The Church, following the example of her Lord, always expresses special preference for the suffering and, as the President said, sees Christ himself in the suffering and does not cease to offer to the sick the necessary technical assistance and human love, knowing that she is called to express Christ's love and concern for them and for those who care for them.
Technical progress, technology and human love should always go together!
Moreover, Jesus' words, "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25,40 Mt 25,45), resonate with special timeliness in this place. In every person stricken with illness it is Jesus himself who waits for our love.
Suffering is of course repugnant to the human spirit; yet, it is true that when it is accepted with love and compassion and illumined by faith, it becomes a precious opportunity that mysteriously unites one to Christ the Redeemer, the Man of sorrows who on the Cross took upon himself human suffering and death.
With the sacrifice of his life, he redeemed human suffering and made it the fundamental means of salvation.
Dear sick people, entrust to the Lord the hardships and sorrows that you have to face and in his plan they will become a means of purification and redemption for the whole world.
Dear friends, I assure each and every one of you of my remembrance in prayer and, as I invoke Mary Most Holy, Salus infirmorum - Health of the Sick - so that she may protect you and your families, the directors, the doctors and the whole community of the Polyclinic, I impart to you all with affection a special Apostolic Blessing.
Although it is brief, my Pastoral Visit to Pavia could not leave out a stop at this University, which has been a hallmark of your City for centuries.
I am therefore glad to find myself among you for this encounter, to which I attribute special importance since I also come from the academic world.
I greet with cordial respect the professors, and in the first place, Prof. Angiolino Stella, whom I thank for his courteous words. I greet the students, especially the young man who expressed the sentiments of the other university students. He reassured me of your courage in dedication to the truth, of your courage in seeking beyond the limits of the known and not surrendering to the weakness of reason. And I am very grateful to him for these words.
I also extend my good wishes to all the members of your academic community who were prevented from being present here today.
Your University is one of the oldest and most distinguished of the Italian Universities and - I repeat the words of the Rector Magnificent - among the teachers who have honoured it are figures such as Alessandro Volta, Camillo Golgi and Carlo Forlanini.
I am also eager to recall that teachers and students marked by an eminent spiritual stature have passed through your Athenaeum. They were: Michele Ghislieri, who later became Pope St Pius V, St Charles Borromeo, St Alessandro Sauli, St Riccardo Pampuri, St Gianna Beretta Molla, Bl. Contardo Ferrini and the Servant of God Teresio Olivelli.
Dear friends, every university has an inherent community vocation: indeed, it is, precisely, a universitas, a community of teachers and students committed to seeking the truth and to acquiring superior cultural and professional skills.
The centrality of the person and the community dimension are two co-essential poles for an effective structuring of the universitas studiorum.
Every university must always preserve the traits of a study centre "within man's reach", where the student is preserved from anonymity and can cultivate a fertile dialogue with his teachers from which he draws an incentive for his cultural and human growth.
From this structure derive certain applications that are connected to one another. First of all, it is certain that only by putting the person at the centre and making the most of dialogue and interpersonal relations can the specializing fragmentation of disciplines be overcome and the unitive perspective of knowledge be recovered.
Naturally, and also rightly, the disciplines tend to specialization, while what the person needs is unity and synthesis.
Secondly, it is fundamentally important that the commitment to scientific research be open to the existential question of meaning for the person's life itself. Research seeks knowledge, whereas the person also needs wisdom, that knowledge, as it were, which is expressed in the "knowing-living".
In the third place, only in appreciating the person and interpersonal relationships can the didactic relationship become an educational relationship, a process of human development. Indeed, the structure gives priority to communication while people aspire to sharing.
I know that this attention to the person, his integral experience of life and his aspiration to communion are very present in the pastoral action of the Church of Pavia in the field of culture. This is witnessed to by the work of University Colleges of Christian inspiration.
Among these, I too would like to recall the Collegio Borromeo, desired by St Charles Borromeo with Pope Pius IV's Bull of foundation, and the Collegio Santa Caterina, founded by the Diocese of Pavia to comply with the wishes of the Servant of God Paul VI, with a crucial contribution from the Holy See.
In this sense, the work of the parishes and ecclesial movements is also important, especially that of the Diocesan University Centre and the Italian Catholic University Students' Association (FUCI).
The purpose of their activity is to welcome the person in his totality, to propose harmonious processes of human, cultural and Christian formation, and to provide spaces for sharing, discussion and communion.
I would like to take this opportunity to ask both students and teachers not to feel that they are merely the object of pastoral attention but to participate actively and to make their contribution to the cultural project of Christian inspiration which the Church promotes in Italy and in Europe.
In meeting you, dear friends, the thought of Augustine, Co-Patron of this University together with St Catherine of Alexandria, springs spontaneously to mind. Augustine's existential and intellectual development witnesses to the fertile interaction between faith and culture.
St Augustine was a man driven by a tireless desire to find the truth, to find out what life is, to know how to live, to know man. And precisely because of his passion for the human being, he necessarily sought God, because it is only in the light of God that the greatness of the human being and the beauty of the adventure of being human can fully appear.
At first, this God appeared very remote to him. Then Augustine found him: this great and inaccessible God made himself close, one of us. The great God is our God, he is a God with a human face. Thus, his faith in Christ did not have its ultimate end in his philosophy or in his intellectual daring, but on the contrary, impelled him further to seek the depths of the human being and to help others to live well, to find life, the art of living.
This was his philosophy: to know how to live with all the reason and all the depths of our thought, of our will, and to allow ourselves to be guided on the path of truth, which is a path of courage, humility and permanent purification.
Faith in Christ brought all Augustine's seeking to fulfilment, but fulfilment in the sense that he always remained on the way. Indeed, he tells us: even in eternity our seeking will not be completed, it will be an eternal adventure, the discovery of new greatness, new beauty.
He interpreted the words of the Psalm, "Seek his face continually", and said: this is true for eternity; and the beauty of eternity is that it is not a static reality but immense progress in the immense beauty of God.
Thus, he could discover God as the founding reason, but also as love which embraces us, guides us and gives meaning to history and to our personal life.
This morning I had the opportunity to say that this love for Christ shaped his personal commitment. From a life patterned on seeking, he moved on to a life given totally to Christ and thus to a life for others.
He discovered - this was his second conversion - that being converted to Christ means not living for oneself but truly being at the service of all.
May St Augustine be for us and also for the academic world a model of dialogue between reason and faith, a model of a broad dialogue which alone can seek truth, hence, also peace.
As my venerable Predecessor, John Paul II commented in his Encyclical Fides et Ratio: "The Bishop of Hippo succeeded in producing the first great synthesis of philosophy and theology, embracing currents of thought both Greek and Latin. In him too the great unity of knowledge, grounded in the thought of the Bible, was both confirmed and sustained by a depth of speculative thinking" (n. 40).
I therefore invoke the intercession of St Augustine, so that the University of Pavia may always be distinguished by special attention to the individual, by an accentuated community dimension in scientific research and by a fruitful dialogue between faith and culture.
I thank you for your presence and as I wish you every good for your studies, I impart to you all my Blessing, which I extend to your relatives and loved ones.
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3). I welcome you and greet you all at the end of your meeting with these words that the Apostle to the Gentiles addressed to the Christians of the community of Corinth.
Concern for all the Churches, complying with the mandate which Christ entrusted to the Apostle Peter and to his Successors, has impelled me to convoke your Extraordinary Synod, at which Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Secretary of State, whom I greet and cordially thank, presided in my name. I would also like to thank you, Your Beatitude, and each one of you for your active participation in the Synod's work and for your generous contributions to solving the problems and difficulties that the praiseworthy Syrian Catholic Church has been encountering for some time.
In convoking you to this extraordinary assembly, my sole intention was to revive and increasingly revitalize the age-old bonds that unite your Church to the Apostolic See, and at the same time, to express the esteem and anxiety which the Bishop of Rome feels for each one of you, Pastors of a portion of the People of God which, although not large, is ancient and important.
My greeting also goes to your collaborators, to the priests and deacons in the first place, as well as to all the members of the Syrian Catholic Church.
The liturgy of the Easter Season in which we are living invites us to turn our gaze and heart to the fundamental event of Christian faith: Christ's death and Resurrection.
The Acts of the Apostles that we are reading in these days presents to us the progress of the newborn Church, a journey that was not always easy but rich in apostolic fruit. From the first, there had been no lack of external hostility and persecution, nor, even within the communities, was the risk of tension and opposition absent.
In spite of these shadows and the various difficulties that the early Christians had to confront, the radiant light of the Church's faith in Jesus Christ never grew dim.
From her very first steps, the Church, guided by the Apostles and their collaborators and enlivened by an extraordinary courage and inner force, was able to preserve and to increase the precious treasure of unity and communion over and above differences in people, language and culture.
Venerable Brothers, while the Extraordinary Synod in which you have taken part is drawing to a close, aware of the problems that have worried you all these years and that you are seeking to overcome, I remember with gratitude my Venerable Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, who was close to you in so many ways. He listened to you, he met with you, and he tirelessly urged you on several occasions, especially in his Letter of August 2003, to seek unity and reconciliation with the participation of all.
As for me, I took up the task on which he had embarked in my Letter of October 2005, since I am deeply convinced that today, as at the dawn of Christianity, each community is asked to offer a clear witness of brotherhood.
It is moving to read in the Acts of the Apostles that "the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (4: 32). It is here, in this shared love which is a gift of the Holy Spirit, that the secret of apostolic effectiveness lies.
In these days, dear and venerable Brothers, you have reflected on ways to overcome the obstacles that prevent your ecclesial life from functioning normally. You are well aware of what is necessary and even indispensable.
It is the ministry that the Lord entrusted to you with his flock that demands it; it is the good of the Syrian Catholic Church that demands it. The particular situation in which the Middle East is living and the witness that the Catholic Churches in their unity can give, demand it.
May Paul's exhortation to the faithful of Corinth, tinged with sorrow, resonate in your hearts: "I appeal to you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree and that there be no dissensions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment" (1Co 1,10).
In our time Christian communities across the world must face so many challenges, while numerous dangers and traps risk masking the Gospel values.
With regard to your Church, the violence and conflicts which mark a part of the flock entrusted to your care constitute extra difficulties that endanger even more not only peaceful coexistence, but also peoples' very lives.
In such situations it is important that the Syrian-Catholic Ecclesial Community be able to proclaim the Gospel forcefully, to promote a pastoral ministry adapted to the challenges of post-modernity and to a fragmented, divided world, a shining example of unity.
Venerable Brothers, the Second Vatican Council emphasized that the Oriental Catholic Churches, in response to Christ's prayer ut unum sint, are called to play a special role in the promotion of the ecumenical process: "by prayer above all, by their example, by their scrupulous fidelity to the ancient traditions of the East, by better knowledge of each other, by working together, and by a brotherly attitude towards persons and things (Decree Orientalium Ecclesiarum OE 24).
Here is a final element that, together with those requirements dictated by interreligious dialogue, can only spur you to exercise the apostolic mission the Lord has entrusted to your Church with confidence. Precisely yesterday, the Latin liturgy granted us to hear the moving episode of Paul's conversion on the road to Damascus. You too are called today to continue the Apostle Paul's missionary action with enthusiasm, confidence and perseverance, following in the footsteps of St Ignatius of Antioch, St Ephrem and your other Patron Saints.
May Mary, whom you venerate under the title of Our Lady of Deliverance, always intercede for you and protect you.
With these sentiments, I assure you of my full support and that of my collaborators, and I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you who are present here, the Patriarch and the members of your Holy Synod, and to all the faithful of the Syrian Catholic rite.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rm 15,13).
I am happy to welcome you with these words from St Paul's Letter to the Romans: yes, may the God of hope fill you with his heavenly consolations!
With this greeting, I offer each one of you a fraternal embrace, beloved Pastors of a part of the Lord's flock that is particularly dear to me! You come from different countries, with a variety of races, cultures and languages, whose Ecclesial Communities are nonetheless linked to the same faith in the Risen Christ passed down to us by the Apostles. Welcome!
I greet each one of you as I warmly express my gratitude for his kind words to Archbishop Stanislav Hocevar, President of your International Bishops' Conference of Sts Cyril and Methodius, established in December 2004 by my Predecessor, Servant of God John Paul II.
Your President expressed the sentiments of communion that bind you to the Successor of Peter: I am grateful to you. This house is also your own; in it you can experience the catholicity of Christ's Church which extends her tent to the very ends of the earth. At the end of your ad limina Apostolorum visit, I renew to you the expression of my cordial gratitude, which I also ask you to convey to your communities on whose prayerful support I confidently rely.
Please assure them all - priests, men and women religious, children and young people, the elderly and families - that the Pope is close to them and every day remembers them to the Lord.
I urge everyone to persevere in unity, in reciprocal openness and in the spirit of brotherhood. The different countries and social and religious contexts in which your faithful live, venerable Brothers, have many repercussions on their Christian life.
I am thinking, for example, of marriage between spouses of different denominations or religions; they require of you, dear Pastors, special spiritual care and a more harmonious cooperation with the other Christian Churches.
I am furthermore thinking of the religious education of the new generations which should be provided for in school curricula, as is only right. And then how can I fail to mention that aspect which is fundamental for ecclesial life: the formation of sacred ministers and their spiritual guidance in the multiconfessional context mentioned above?
I know that a Major Seminary at Subotica is being planned. I warmly encourage this initiative because of the good service it will be able to give the various Dioceses.
It is necessary to help seminarians to develop the clear awareness that a priest is an "alter Christus", who must cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus if he wishes to carry out his mission properly and not to consider himself a mere "official" of an ecclesiastical organization.
The priest is totally at the service of the Church, a living and spiritual body which does not draw her energy from nationalistic, ethnic or political elements but from the action of Christ present in her ministers.
Indeed, the Lord wanted his Church to be open to all; this is how the Apostles built her up when Christianity was taking its first steps and the martyrs witnessed with their blood to her holiness and "catholicity". Down the centuries, Tradition kept intact her character of universality as she continued to spread and to come into contact with different languages, races, nationalities and cultures. For you, this unity in diversity of the Church is a daily experience.
Dear and venerable Brothers, during these days I have been able to become better acquainted with the situations of your Dioceses that are often composed of a small flock set in the vast context of a multiplicity of races, cultures and religions. Thus, your mission is far from easy! Yet, with the Lord's help and in docility to his Spirit you urge all whom he has entrusted to your care never to tire of being the Gospel "leaven" that ferments society.
In this way, you will be able together, in line with the Apostle Peter's exhortation, to account for the hope that is in you (1P 3,15). You will do this by means of constant faithfulness to Christ, diligent administration of the sacraments and generous apostolic dedication.
To this end, you will need to involve every member of the People of God, using every available means of Christian formation, prepared in the different languages of the population.
This kind of shared pastoral action cannot fail to have beneficial effects also in the civil context. Indeed, upright consciences formed in accordance with the Gospel will be more easily spurred to build a society on a human scale.
An incorrectly understood concept of modernity is tending today to excessively exalt the needs of the individual to the detriment of every person's duties to God and to the community to which he belongs. It is important, for example, to shed light on the correct conception of civil and public responsibility, since the commitment to respect each person's rights and for a convinced integration of one's own culture with others stems precisely from this vision and from striving together for the common good.
Providence has set your peoples in the context of a European Continent that is being restructured. Your Churches also feel they share in this historic process, knowing well that they can make their own special contribution.
Unfortunately, obstacles are not lacking: the scarcity of available means because of the economic situation and the diminutive number of Catholic forces might discourage you.
It is far from easy to forget the burdensome legacy of more than 40 years of unilateral thinking that has given rise to forms of social behaviour in which freedom and personal responsibility are wanting.
At the same time, it is difficult to resist the temptations of Western materialism, with the risk of relativism and ethical liberalism, radicalism and political fundamentalism.
Do not lose heart but rather, join forces and patiently persevere in your work, certain that one day, with God's help, it will be possible to gather in the fruits that he himself will bring to maturity in accordance with his mysterious plans of salvation.
I am anxious at this moment to assure you that the Pope is close to you and encourages you to carry on, trusting in the help of the Lord, the Good Shepherd.
Dear Brothers, always stay beside your faithful: they need wise teachers, holy Pastors and reliable guides who, setting an example, lead them on the journey of total adherence to Christ.
Be united with one another, care for vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life; be helpful to your pastoral workers; encourage lay people to assume their proper responsibilities in the civil and ecclesial contexts in accordance with the spirit of Gaudium et Spes, so that their witness may be harmonious and truly Catholic.
The Lord has put you in close contact with our Orthodox brothers and sisters: as a member of one Body, seek every possible opportunity for collaboration at the service of the one Kingdom of God.
Nor should you be unwilling to collaborate with the other Christian confessions and with every person of good will in order to encourage all that can serve to disseminate the Gospel values.
Dear and venerable Brothers, at this meeting I wished to highlight certain aspects of the life of your Communities which came to the fore at our individual meetings. As I take my leave of you, I express to you once again my affection and assure you of my prayers.
While I invoke the heavenly protection of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, and of Sts Cyril and Methodius, Patrons of your International Bishops' Conference, I impart to you all a cordial Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to all the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.
Dear Swiss Guards,
It is a true pleasure for me to meet you on the occasion of the swearing-in of the new Swiss Guards.
First of all, to each one of you, dear new halberdiers, I address my cordial greeting, which I extend to all the Swiss Guards, thanking you for having chosen to dedicate some years of your youth to the service of the Pope and his closest collaborators.
I also thank your Commandant for all that he does so that you can carry out your service in a proper way. I greet your Chaplain and also your families and relatives, the ex-Swiss Guards and the friends who wanted to be present at the solemn swearing-in ceremony of the new Swiss Guards, which is such a meaningful act for the Apostolic See.
I clearly recall the solemn commemorative celebrations of the fifth centenary of the foundation of the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps which took place last year with many people participating. These celebrations have contributed to making better known the origin, history and value of your Corps and the significant witness of faith and love that you have rendered to the Church for more than 500 years.
Actually, it all began on 22 January 1506 when a troop of 150 men arrived in the Vatican, whom my Predecessor Julius II had requested at the "Ober-alemannischen Eidgenossenschaft".
From that day to our time the history of your Corps of Guards is intimately interwoven with the events and the life of the Church, and in particular of the Pope. And it is a long history of fidelity and generous service, always given with dedication, sometimes even to the heroic sacrifice of one's life.
Your most appreciated dedication has rightly merited the esteem and trust of all the Pontiffs, who have constantly found help, support and protection in your Corps' guardianship.
Thank you, dear friends, for your silent but efficient presence next to the person of the Pope; thank you for the professionalism and also for the love with which you carry out your mission.
Yes, yours is not only a professional duty; it is also a true mission at the service of Christ and his Church.
In the new Pontifical Swiss Guard Rule, approved by me precisely last year on the occasion of the fifth centenary of its birth, it states that "the Swiss Guards must demonstrate in all circumstances that they are good Christians and exemplar soldiers" (art. 73); and again, "they must avoid whatever contrasts with the faith, Christian morals and duties of their own state. Furthermore, they must always be faithful to the characteristics and traditions of the Corps, with a simple and sober lifestyle" (art. 75).
It is also added that with "the objective of forming a true community, they must personally cultivate and reciprocally exercise a spirit of Christian solidarity, which means to preserve and promote the mutual union of souls" (art. 77). As it is easy to see, it concerns very precise and concrete directives to bring the plan that God has for each one of you to fulfilment, having called you to serve him in such a worthy Institution.
Ultimately, the Lord calls you to holiness, to be his disciples, always ready to listen to his voice, to do his will and to accomplish it in the daily fulfilment of your duties. This will contribute to make you "good Christians" and at the same time "exemplary soldiers", animated by that evangelical spirit which makes each baptized person "yeast" able to ferment the mass and "light" that illuminates and warms the environment where you live and work.
Speeches 2005-13 21147