Speeches 2005-13 70



Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you, Your Excellency, on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Turkey to the Holy See.

I thank you for the kind words you have conveyed to me from H.E. Mr Ahmet Necdet Sezer, President of the Republic. I would be grateful if you would kindly reciprocate by expressing to him my cordial good wishes for himself and for his compatriots.

On this occasion, I would like to express once again my gratitude to the Turkish Authorities and to the Turkish People for the welcome they offered me during my Pastoral Visit last December.

The unforgettable experience that led me to Ankara, Ephesus and Istanbul in the steps of my Predecessors, Paul VI and John Paul II, enabled me to ascertain the good relations established long ago between your Country and the Holy See.

In my various meetings with the political Authorities, I sought to reaffirm the implantation of the Catholic Church in Turkish society, due to the prestigious heritage of the first Christian communities in Asia Minor and the irreplaceable contribution to the life of the universal Church of the first Ecumenical Councils, but also to the existence of the Christian communities today. They are, of course, a minority, but are attached to their Country and to the common good of all society and desire to make their contribution to building the Nation.

While she enjoys the religious freedom that the Turkish Constitution guarantees to all believers, the Catholic Church would like to be able to benefit from a recognized juridical status and to see an official dialogue established between the Bishops' Conference and the State Authorities, in order to settle the various problems that may arise and to pursue good relations between the two parties. I have no doubt that your Government will do everything in its power to advance in this direction.

During my memorable Visit, I frequently expressed the respect of the Catholic Church for Islam and the esteem of the Pope and the faithful for Muslim believers, especially during my Visit to Istanbul's Blue Mosque.

In the contemporary world, where tensions seem exacerbated, the conviction of the Holy See, which agrees with the one you have just expressed, is that the faithful of different religions must strive to work together for peace.

They must start by denouncing violence, all too often used in the past under the pretext of religious motivations, and by learning to know and respect one another better in order to build an increasingly fraternal society.

Religions can also join forces in acting to encourage respect for the human being, created in the image of the Almighty, and to make people recognize the acknowledged fundamental values that govern the life of people and of societies.

Dialogue, essential between religious Authorities at all levels, begins in daily life through the mutual respect and esteem that believers of every religion have for one another, sharing in the same life and working together for the common good.

As I recently recalled in Ankara, the Holy See recognizes Turkey's specific place and her geographic and historical situation as a bridge between the Continents of Asia and Europe, and a crossroads between cultures and religions.

It deeply appreciates your Country's commitment to peace in the international community, and especially its action for the resumption of negotiations in the Near East and its actual involvement in Lebanon, helping to rebuild the Country devastated by war and to enable a constructive dialogue to be initiated between all the constitutive parts of Lebanese society.

The Holy See always follows with close attention the discussions and efforts made by nations to settle among themselves, sometimes with the assistance of a third country and regional or international Authorities, situations of conflict inherited from the past, as well as practical actions to bring about a rapprochement of countries in political, cultural and economic associations or unions.

The globalization of exchanges, already manifest at the economic and financial levels, must of course be accompanied by common political engagements across the globe in order to guarantee a lasting and organized development that excludes no one and guarantees to individuals, families and peoples a balanced future.

Mr Ambassador, please allow me to greet through you the Catholic communities of Turkey, which I had the joy to visit, especially in Ephesus and Istanbul.

I repeat to the Bishops, the priests and all the faithful the affection of the Successor of Peter and his encouragement in order that the Catholic Church in Turkey may continue to witness humbly and faithfully to love of God through dialogue with everyone, especially Muslim believers, and through her involvement in the service to the common good.

I also greet with affection His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Bishops and all the faithful of the Orthodox Church, with which so many ties of kinship already bind us as we await the blessed day when we will be invited to share in Christ's banquet.

Mr Ambassador, at the time when you are officially beginning your mission at the Holy See I offer you my very best wishes for its success. You may be sure that you will always find in my collaborators an attentive welcome and cordial understanding.

I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of Blessings from the Almighty upon you, Your Excellency, upon your family and collaborators at the embassy, as well as upon the Turkish Authorities and People.


Dear Bishops Peura and Wróbel,
Distinguished Friends,

With joy I welcome you, the members of the ecumenical delegation from Finland, as you visit Rome on the occasion of the feast of Saint Henrik, Patron of your nation.

Your presence here coincides with this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme of the week - “he makes the deaf hear and the mute speak” - (Mc 7,37), illustrates how Jesus frees all of us from spiritual deafness, enabling us to hear his saving word and to proclaim it to others. This charge of common witness in word and deed nurtures our ecumenical journey. In drawing us closer to Christ, converting us to his truth and love, it draws us closer to one another.

In recent times relations between Christians in Finland have developed in a way that offers much hope for the future of ecumenism. Readily they pray and work together, bearing common public witness to the word of God. It is precisely this convincing testimony to the guiding and saving truths of the Gospel that all men and women seek or need to hear. On the part of Christians this demands courage. Indeed, as I suggested at the Ecumenical Vespers during my visit to Bavaria, behind any “weakening of the theme of justification and of forgiveness of sins is ultimately a weakening of the theme of our relationship with God. In this sense our first task will perhaps be to rediscover in a new way the living God present in our lives, in our time, and in our society.”

In the Joint Declaration on Justification, Lutherans and Catholics have covered a considerable distance theologically. Further work remains and so it is encouraging that the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in Finland and Sweden is examining the topic “Justification in the Life of the Church.” I hope and pray that these conversations will effectively contribute to the quest for full and visible unity of the Church, while at the same time offering an ever clearer response to the fundamental questions affecting life and society.

Confident in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is the real protagonist of the ecumenical endeavour (cf. Unitatis Redintegratio UR 1 UR 4), let us continue to pray and work for the building of closer bonds of love and cooperation between Lutherans and Catholics in Finland. Upon you and all the beloved people of Finland I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace and joy.


Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers,
Monsignor Rector,
Dear Students of the Capranica College,

I am pleased to welcome you just before the Feast of your Patroness, St Agnes. I greet you all with affection, starting with the Cardinal Vicar, Camillo Ruini, and Archbishop Pio Vigo, who form the Episcopal Commission in charge of the College. I greet the Rector, Mons. Ermenegildo Manicardi. I extend a special welcome to you, dear students, who belong to the community of the oldest ecclesiastical college of Rome.

Five hundred and fifty years have passed since that 5 January 1457 when Cardinal Domenico Capranica, Archbishop of Fermo, founded the College that was named after him. He bequeathed to it all his property and his palace near Santa Maria in Aquiro, so that it could house young students called to the priesthood.

The newborn institution was the first of its kind in Rome; initially reserved for young Romans and young men from Fermo, it later extended hospitality to students from other regions of Italy and of different nationalities.

Cardinal Capranica died less than two years later, but his foundation had already started on the way it has followed until today, undergoing only 10 years of closure from 1798 to 1807 during the so-called Roman Republic.

Two Popes studied at the Capranica: Pope Benedict XV, whom you rightly consider "Parens alter" because of the special affection he always felt for your house, and then, if for a shorter period, the Servant of God Pius XII. My venerable Predecessors, some of whom visited you on special occasions, have always demonstrated their benevolence towards your College.

Our meeting today also takes place not only close to the Memorial of St Agnes but also in the context of an important anniversary for your institution. In this historical and spiritual perspective, it is useful to ask what motives impelled Cardinal Capranica to found this provident work, and what value they still have for you today.

It is necessary, in the first place, to remember that the founder had direct experience of the colleges of the Universities of Padua and of Bologna where he himself had been a student, as well as those of Sienna, Florence and Perugia. These institutions had developed in order to house young scholars who did not belong to wealthy families.

By altering several elements of these models, he conceived of one that would be exclusively destined to training future priests, with preferential attention to less well-off candidates. Thus, he anticipated by more than a century the establishment of "seminaries" decreed by the Council of Trent.

However, we have not yet focused on the basic reason for this provident initiative: it was the conviction that the quality of the clergy depends on the seriousness of their formation.

Now, in Cardinal Capranica's time, there was no careful selection of aspirants to sacred Orders: they were sometimes examined in literature and song, but not in theology, morals and canon law, with foreseeable negative repercussions on the Ecclesial Community.

This is why, in the Constitutions of his College, the Cardinal imposed on theology students knowledge of the best authors, especially Thomas Aquinas; on law students, the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, and on them all, Aristotelian ethics.

Further, not content with the lessons of the Studium Urbis, he guaranteed supplimentary lessons provided by specialists directly within the College itself.

This curriculum was integrated into a framework of integral formation centred on the spiritual dimension. It was supported by the pillars of the Sacraments of the Eucharist - daily - and of Penance - at least monthly - and sustained by the pious practices prescribed or suggested by the Church.

Great importance was given to charity, both in ordinary fraternal life and in assistance to the sick, as well as to what today we call "pastoral experience". Indeed, it established that on feast days, students would serve in the cathedral and in other local churches.

An effective support in the students' formation was also provided by the style of the community itself, including strong participation in decisions concerning life in the College.

Here we find the same fundamental disposition that was later to be made by the diocesan seminaries, of course, for the latter with a fuller sense of belonging to the particular Church; the choice, that is, of a serious human, cultural and spiritual formation, open to the requirements proper to the time and place.

Dear friends, let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy and St Agnes, that the Almo Collegio Capranica may continue on its way, faithful to its long tradition and to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Dear students, I hope that every day you will renew your offering to God and to the Holy Church from the bottom of your hearts, conforming ever more closely to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who has called you to follow him and to work in his vineyard.

I thank you for this pleasant visit and, as I assure you of my prayers, I impart with affection a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.


Mr Ambassador,

I am pleased to welcome you at the Vatican, Your Excellency, on the occasion of the solemn presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Romania to the Holy See.

I would be grateful if you would kindly convey to H.E. Mr Traian Basescu, President of Romania, my cordial good wishes for him and for the happiness and prosperity of the Romanian People. I pray God may accompany the efforts of all in the work of building an increasingly united and brotherly Nation.

At the beginning of this year, Mr Ambassador, after years of negotiations, your Country has rightly rejoiced on being officially admitted to the European Union. The Holy See, which has had close and fruitful relations with Romania for a long time as you yourself emphasized, learned with pleasure of this new situation since it consecrates increasingly each day the rediscovered unity of the European Continent after the long, sad period of separation during the Cold War.

Your Country has a long Christian tradition that is lively and fertile in its culture as well as in the dynamism of its various Churches and Ecclesial Communities and their active participation in social life.

Thus, I rejoice that Romania, rich in this "undeniable Christian heritage of the Continent, which has greatly contributed to the formation of European nations and European peoples" (Address to the Diplomatic Corps, 8 January 2007; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 17 January, p. 7), is able to make its original contribution to the European community to ensure that Europe is not only an economic power and an important trade centre, but also that it discover a new political, cultural and spiritual impetus to build a promising future for the new generations.

As I recently reminded the Diplomatic Corps, "It is by respecting the human person that peace can be promoted, and it is by building peace that the foundations of an authentic integral humanism are laid. This is where I find the answer to the concern for the future voiced by so many of our contemporaries" (ibid.).

Your Country has been involved for years in the task of a thorough renewal of society, anxious to heal the wounds of the past and to enable one and all to enjoy the fundamental freedoms and benefit from economic and social progress. I rejoice in this.

Furthermore, I encourage political leaders to pay special attention to the need for active solidarity between every sector of the population, to prevent in the era of globalization a widening of the gap between those citizens who have legitimate access to the benefits of economic development and those who are finding themselves gradually marginalized, that is, excluded from this process, as unfortunately can be noted in many modern societies.

It is equally important to guarantee to all fair access to an independent and transparent system of justice that can effectively fight those who fail to respect the common good and who bend the law to suit their own interests. In this perspective, I likewise hope that new attention will be paid to the poorest families so that they may raise their children in dignity.

I also rejoice in the progress made by your Government in the sensitive management of the return of property confiscated from religious communities. This is a long-term task demanded by justice and equity that must enable all recognized forms of worship to have their own legitimate place in Romanian society.

I also hope that the rules regulating religious freedom, which is a fundamental freedom, will be properly respected, especially where they involve the Greek Catholic Church. I know that for her part the Catholic Church is always prepared to examine in a spirit of dialogue with the competent Authorities the means with which to overcome the possible problems that might arise in their mutual relations. This will make an important contribution to social peace.

In this regard, I cannot but express my concern about the matter of St Joseph's Cathedral in Bucharest, regarding which the Archdiocese of Bucharest has approached the competent State Authorities a number of times in order to preserve the historical patrimony that is constituted by the Cathedral and the value of faith that it represents, not only for the Catholic community but also for the entire Romanian population.

Pope John Paul II's Visit to your Country in 1999 left a mark in "the heart and mind of Romanians", as you said. It especially led to a new blossoming of relations between the Catholic Church and the Romanian Orthodox Church.

While, through you, I cordially greet H.B. Teoctist, the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, who in turn came to visit the Church of Rome in 2002, I express the hope that both Catholic and Orthodox faithful will continue to form more and more brotherly relations in daily life and likewise that opportunities for dialogue will increase at all levels.

In particular, I hope that the European Ecumenical Meeting scheduled to take place in Sibiu next September will be an important landmark on this journey towards unity on which we have set out together.

May I also greet the Catholic community of Romania, united round its Pastors. As my Predecessor recalled, it has had "the providential opportunity to see flourishing side by side for centuries the two traditions, the Latin and the Byzantine, that beautify the face of the one Church" (John Paul II, Address to the Bishops of Romania on an Ad Limina Visit, 1 March 2003; ORE, 12 March, p. 4). This requires it to bear a special witness to Catholic unity and quite specially qualifies it to work for ecumenism.

I know that the Catholic faithful play an active part in the life of the Country, especially in the social and spiritual context, and I warmly encourage them to witness courageously to the indispensable place of the family in the heart of society.

At the time when you are officially assuming your office to the Holy See, Your Excellency, I offer you my best wishes for the success of your mission. Be assured, Mr Ambassador, that you will always meet with the attention and cordial understanding of my collaborators.

I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings upon you, Your Excellency, upon your family, your collaborators at the Embassy and the entire Romanian People.


Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I am very pleased to receive and to greet with affection the Councillors and Members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly. I thank the President, Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, for his courteous words that express your common sentiments and the profound desire to renew your commitment to serve, cum Petro et sub Petro, the pilgrim Church in Latin America, following the example of Christ, the Good Shepherd, who loved his sheep and gave himself for them.

In thinking of the challenges that threaten Evangelization at the beginning of this Third Millennium, you have chosen as the theme for reflection at this meeting: "The family and Christian education in Latin America", perfectly in tune with the unforgettable World Meeting of Families last spring in Valencia, Spain. It was a joyful event that I was able to share with Catholic families from across the world, many of whom were Latin American.

Your presence here reminds me of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate and of the Caribbean, which I have convoked in Aparecida, Brazil, and will have the pleasure of opening. I ask the Holy Spirit, who always helps his Church, to grant that the glory of God the Merciful Father and the paschal presence of his Son may guide and illumine the work of this important ecclesial event so that it may be a sign, a witness and a force of communion for the entire Church in Latin America.

This Conference, in continuity with the four previous ones, is called to give a new stimulus to Evangelization in this vast, chiefly Catholic region of the world, the home of a large part of the community of believers.

The Message of Salvation must be proclaimed in its integrity, so that it can succeed in permeating the roots of the culture and become embodied in this period of Latin American history, to respond better to its legitimate needs and aspirations.

At the same time, the dignity of every human being should be recognized and defended as a fundamental criterion in social, cultural and economic projects so that they contribute to building history in accordance with God's plan. In fact, the history of Latin America offers a multitude of witnesses, men and women who faithfully followed Christ in such a radical way that, inspired by the divine fire which totally consumed them, they forged the Christian identity of the Continent's peoples. Their exemplary lives are an invitation to follow in their footsteps.

The Church in Latin America is facing enormous challenges: the cultural changes that result from a social communications media that conditions the mindset and morals of millions of people; the migratory flows, with countless repercussions on family life and on religious practice in the new milieus; the re-emergence of questions on how peoples should take on their historical memory and their democratic future; the globalization, secularism, increasing poverty and ecological deterioration, especially in the large cities, as well as violence and the drug trade.

In the face of all this, there is an urgent need for a new Evangelization that impels us to deepen our knowledge of the values of our faith, so that they may become a lifeline and develop the identity of these beloved peoples who will one day receive the light of the Gospel.

Therefore, the theme chosen to guide this Conference's reflections: Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ, so that our peoples may have life in him, seems timely. In fact, the Fifth Conference must encourage every Christian to convert and become a true disciple of Jesus Christ, sent out by him as an apostle and, as Pope John Paul II said, with a commitment "not of re-evangelization, but rather, of a new evangelization; new in its ardour, methods and expression", so that the Good News may take root in the lives and consciences of all the men and women of Latin America (Address at the Opening of the 19th Ordinary Plenary Assembly of the Latin American Episcopal Council [CELAM], III, Port-au-Prince Cathedral, Haiti, 9 March 1983; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 18 April, p. 9).

Dear Brothers, the men and women of Latin America are thirsting for God. When the life of communities feels as though it were bereft of God the Father, the work of Bishops, priests and other pastoral workers becomes vital, so that they may witness as Christ did to the fact that God the Father is always provident Love who revealed himself in his Son. When faith is not nourished by prayer and meditation on the divine Word, when sacramental life languishes, then sects and new pseudo-religious groups thrive, causing many Catholics to distance themselves from the Church.

The failure to respond to their deepest aspirations - which could be found in a shared life of faith - gives rise to spiritual emptiness. In the work of Evangelization, it is fundamental to remember always that at Pentecost the Father and the Son sent forth the Holy Spirit, and that this same Spirit continues to enliven the life of the Church.

Therefore, what is important is the sense of ecclesial belonging where the Christian grows and matures in communion with his brethren, children of the same God and Father.

"I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but by me" (Jn 14,6).

As my venerable Predecessor, John Paul II, pointed out in his Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America: "Jesus Christ is thus the definitive answer to the question of the meaning of life, and to those fundamental questions which still trouble so many men and women on the American Continent" (n. 10).

Only by living their love for Jesus Christ intensely and dedicating themselves generously to the service of charity will his disciples be eloquent and credible witnesses of God's love for every human being.

In this way, loving with God's love, they will play an active part in the world's transformation, establishing in it a new civilization which beloved Pope Paul VI rightly used to call, "the civilization of love" (cf. Address at the Closure of the Holy Year, 25 December 1975).

For the future of the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean it is important that Christians have a deeper knowledge and adopt an appropriate lifestyle as Jesus' disciples, simple and joyful with a firm faith rooted in the depths of their heart and nourished by prayer and the sacraments.

In fact, the Christian faith is nourished above all by the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist, in which is brought about a unique and special community encounter with Christ, his life and his Word.
The true disciple grows and develops in the family and in the parish and diocesan communities; he becomes a missionary when he proclaims Christ and his Gospel in all areas of life: school, business, culture, politics and the means of social communications.

In a special way, the frequently recurring phenomena of exploitation and injustice, corruption and violence, are a pressing appeal to Christians to live their faith consistently and to strive to receive a firm doctrinal and spiritual formation, thereby helping to build a more just, more human and more Christian society.

It is an important duty to encourage Christians to work tirelessly, enlivened by their spirit of faith and charity, to offer new opportunities to those who live in poverty or in the most forsaken suburban areas, by bringing them a message of faith, hope and charity so that these poor individuals may actively undertake their own development.

To conclude, I return to the theme of your meeting during these days on the Christian family, the privileged context in which to live and pass on faith and the virtues. It is in the family home that the patrimony of the faith is preserved; it is here that children receive the gift of life, feel loved for what they are and learn the values that will help them live as God's children.

In this way, the family, accepting the gift of life, becomes a propitious environment in order to respond to the gift of a vocation (cf. Angelus, Valencia, 8 July 2006), especially now that we feel the urgent need for the Lord to send labourers into his harvest.

Let us ask Mary, a model Mother in the Holy Family, Mother of the Church and Star of Evangelization, to guide the Ecclesial Communities in Latin America and the Caribbean and help the participants in the Fifth Congress to find the best ways to enable those people to have life in Christ and to build the so-called "Continent of hope", a worthy future for every man and every woman.

I encourage you all in your work and I wholeheartedly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.


Mr Ambassador,

It is a cause of special joy for me to receive the Letters with which H.E. Mr Filip Vujanovic, President of the Republic of Montenegro, accredits you as the Country's first Ambassador to the Apostolic See. Welcome!

The sentiments today of the Successor of Peter have ancient roots and thrive on a memory that renews the on-going dialogue between the Montenegrin peoples and the Bishop of Rome down the centuries.

Through you, Mr Ambassador, I would like to express my deep pleasure in the first place to the President of the Republic, whom I had the joy to meet recently, and then to all the other State Authorities and to the entire civil society of Montenegro, which, with its multiethnic features, has desired to establish a direct and cordial dialogue with the Holy See.

As you know, already in the time of the Apostles, the Good News reached those lands which in our day constitute the Republic to which you belong.

These spiritual bonds were strengthened by the apostolic work of the Benedictine monks, to the point that during the Pontificate of the great Pope Gregory VII, the independence of the Kingdom of Coclea was publicly recognized and Prince Mihail received the royal insignia from the See of Peter.

In the course of the alternating events of the centuries, the peoples present in today's Crna Gora always maintained such a dynamic and cordial relationship with the other neighbouring peoples that they made interesting contributions to the life of European nations, and not the least to Italy itself, to which in the last century they gave a Queen.

The ancient Charters refer to a fruitful dialogue between the Apostolic See and Prince Nicola of Montenegro, which led in 1886 to the stipulation of an agreement that provided for the spiritual needs of Catholic citizens, dependent on Cetinje, the former capital.

The farsightedness of the deliberations adopted by that Head of State with regard to recognition of the rights of a part of his fellow citizens still elicits admiration today and stresses the need for a correct appraisal of the objective requirements of the religious practice of each person.

All Catholics are well aware of the prerogatives of the State, but at the same time are likewise conscious of their duties with regard to the Gospel imperatives.

Thus, in reflecting on the past centuries when the Gospel message of salvation reached the regions of Montenegro, one can see that by embracing both the Eastern and Western traditions, your Homeland, Mr Ambassador, has always distinguished itself as a privileged place for that ecumenical encounter longed for by all. Some outstanding examples of Christian-Muslim encounter have been achieved in Montenegro.

It is necessary to pursue this path on which the Church hopes that all will converge in the commitment to join forces at the service of the nobility inherent in the human being. Indeed, the Church sees this as an important part of her mission at the service of the person in his entirety of thought, action and planning, with respect for the traditions that identify a land as such.

I am sure that in the European arena Montenegro will not fail to make its own active contribution in the civil contexts as well as in the political, social, cultural and religious spheres.

One of the priorities on which the new independent Republic which you represent is certainly reflecting, is the reinforcement of the state of rights in various areas of public life, through the adoption of provisions that guarantee the effective enjoyment of all those rights provided for by the fundamental laws of the State.

This will foster social confidence in the citizens, enabling them to feel free to pursue their legitimate objectives, both as individuals and as communities in which they have chosen to gather. It will be expressed in a general development of the culture of legality.

Montenegro belongs to the family of European nations to which, even in its own small way, it has made and intends to continue to make a generous contribution. Full recognition of the life and aims of the Catholic community in the context of Montenegrin society, which came into force more than a century ago, has proven useful to the sovereignty of the State and welcome to the specific mission of the Church.

In that specific occasion in history, how can one fail to note the respectful attitude of the Orthodox Church of that time, which did not oppose an agreement with the Apostolic See? Indeed, she saw in this step a useful means to provide in a better way for the spiritual needs of the population. It is to be hoped that this Christian attitude will develop further.

As in the past, so also today the Apostolic See desires to reassert its own esteem, affection and consideration for the noble groups that dwell in Montenegro by pursuing a fraternal dialogue with Orthodoxy, which is very present and alive throughout the Country. The 1,000-year-old relations of reciprocal respect witness to this approach.

It is also necessary today to deepen this constructive attitude in order to serve better the peoples you worthily represent here today. With a broadminded outlook they see East and West acting as a bridge between both these realities contemporaneously.

In unreserved cordiality, as in past centuries, it is possible to establish those forms of understanding which serve to benefit the Country and the Catholic Community without harming in the very slightest the legitimate rights of other religious communities. This is the way that contemporary Europe has taken and that your Country intends to take with great hope.

Mr Ambassador, the credentials you have presented to me today are the sign of a positive will to contribute to international life with your own specific identity. In this regard, you will find in the Apostolic See a conversation partner well versed in the history, in the current situation and in the aspirations of your People. You will find in me and in my excellent collaborators attention and consideration based on our 1,000-year-old cordial reciprocal relations.

As I ask you to convey my esteem and gratitude to the Authorities who have accredited you, please express my warmest good wishes for prosperity, peace and progress to all the inhabitants of Montenegro, upon whom I invoke abundant Blessings from the Most High.


Dear and Venerable Brothers,

Thank you for your visit. I greet you all with affection, starting with the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, whom I thank for his words on behalf of you all. Under his guidance, you have met for the fifth time for the purpose of implementing the decisions of the 11th Ordinary General Assembly and to begin preparations for the next Assembly.

I welcome you with the words of the Apostle to the Gentiles whose extraordinary conversion we are commemorating today: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1Co 1,3). Jesus is the supreme Pastor of the Church and it is in his name and mandate that we are entrusted with the care of guarding his flock with complete willingness even to making the total gift of our lives.

The upcoming Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will be the 12th. Its theme will be: The Word of God in the life and the mission of the Church. The importance of this topic, the one that proved the most popular of all in consultation with the Pastors of the particular Churches, escapes no one. This theme has been on the agenda for quite some time.

And this can easily be understood because the spiritual action that expresses and nourishes the life and mission of the Church is necessarily founded on the Word of God.

Furthermore, since the Word of God is destined for all the Lord's disciples, as the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity reminded us - it requires special veneration and obedience so that it may also be accepted as an urgent call to full communion among believers in Christ.

You have worked with dedication on the above-mentioned topic and have now reached the final stage of the draft of the Lineamenta, a Document intended as a response to the need, so deeply felt by Pastors, to encourage increasingly contact with the Word of God in meditation and in prayer.
I am grateful to you for the appreciated work which, with the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops and a valuable group of experts, you are bringing to completion. And I found your brief report informing me of all the work you have done very interesting.

I am sure that once the Lineamenta are published the entire Church will find it is a precious instrument to acquire a deeper knowledge of the theme of the upcoming Synodal Assembly.
I express my heartfelt hope that it will help every Christian and every ecclesial and civil community to rediscover the importance of God's Word in their life and also to rediscover the missionary dynamism inherent in the Word of God. The Word of God, as the Letter to the Hebrews recalls, is alive and effective (cf. 4: 12) and illumines us as we continue our earthly pilgrimage towards the total fulfilment of the Kingdom of God.

Thank you again, dear brothers and sisters, for your visit today. I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer for your intentions, as I invoke upon you the motherly protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, who gave Jesus Christ, the living Word made flesh, to the world. As a sign of gratitude and a pledge of the Holy Spirit's assistance in the future consultation of the universal Church, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all and willingly extend it to all those who are entrusted to your pastoral care.

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE TRIBUNAL OF THE ROMAN ROTA Clementine Hall Saturday, 27 January 2007

Dear Prelate Auditors,
Officials and Collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota,

I am particularly pleased to meet you once again on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

I cordially greet the College of Prelate Auditors, starting with the Dean, Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, whom I thank for his words introducing our meeting. I then greet the Officials, the Advocates and the other Collaborators of this Tribunal, as well as the Members of the Studio Rotale and all those present. I willingly take this opportunity to renew to you the expression of my esteem and, at the same time, to reaffirm the importance of your ecclesial ministry in as vital a sector as judicial activity. I am very mindful of the valuable work you are required to carry out diligently and scrupulously on behalf of this Apostolic See and with its mandate. Your sensitive task of service to the truth in justice is supported by the illustrious traditions of this Tribunal, which each one of you must feel bound to respect.

Last year, at my first meeting with you, I sought to explore ways to overcome the apparent antithesis between the institution of causes of the nullity of marriage and genuine pastoral concern. In this perspective, the love of truth emerges as a point of convergence between processual research and the pastoral service of the person. We must not forget, however, that in causes of the nullity of marriage, the legal truth presupposes the "truth of the marriage" itself. Yet the expression "truth of the marriage" loses its existential importance in a cultural context that is marked by relativism and juridical positivism, which regard marriage as a mere social formalization of emotional ties.

Consequently, not only is it becoming incidental, as human sentiments can be, but it is also presented as a legal superstructure of the human will that can be arbitrarily manipulated and even deprived of its heterosexual character.

This crisis of the meaning of marriage is also influencing the attitude of many of the faithful. The practical effects of what I have called "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" with regard to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 4 January 2006, p. 4), is felt especially acutely in the sphere of marriage and the family.

Indeed, it seems to some that the conciliar teaching on marriage, and in particular, the description of this institution as "intima communitas vitae et amoris" [the intimate partnership of life and love] (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes GS 48), must lead to a denial of the existence of an indissoluble conjugal bond because this would be a question of an "ideal" to which "normal Christians" cannot be "constrained".

In fact, the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage, independently, that is, of the "truth" of his/her personal status, has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus. The process of the declaration of matrimonial nullity is actually considered as a legal means for achieving this objective, according to a logic in which the law becomes the formalization of subjective claims. In this regard, it should first be pointed out that the Council certainly described marriage as intima communitas vitae et amoris, but this partnership is determined, in accordance with the tradition of the Church, by a whole set of principles of the divine law which establish its true and permanent anthropological meaning (cf. ibid.).

Furthermore, the Magisteriums of Paul VI and John Paul II, as well as the legislative action of both the Latin and Eastern Codes, have followed up the Council in faithful hermeneutical continuity with regard to both the doctrine and the discipline of marriage and indeed, persevered in its effort for "reform' or "renewal in continuity' (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, op. cit.). This development was based on the indisputable presupposition that marriage has a truth of its own - that is, the human knowledge, illumined by the Word of God, of the sexually different reality of the man and of the woman with their profound needs for complementarity, definitive self-giving and exclusivity - to whose discovery and deepening reason and faith harmoniously contribute.

The anthropological and saving truth of marriage - also in its juridical dimension - is already presented in Sacred Scripture. Jesus' response to those Pharisees who asked his opinion about the lawfulness of repudiation is well known: "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one'? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt 19,4-6).

The citations of Genesis (1: 27; 2: 24) propose the matrimonial truth of the "principle", that truth whose fullness is found in connection with Christ's union with the Church (cf. Ep 5,30-31) and was the object of such broad and deep reflections on the part of Pope John Paul II in his cycles of catecheses on human love in the divine design.

On the basis of this dual unity of the human couple, it is possible to work out an authentic juridical anthropology of marriage. In this sense, Jesus' conclusive words are especially enlightening: "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder". Every marriage is of course the result of the free consent of the man and the woman, but in practice their freedom expresses the natural capacity inherent in their masculinity and femininity.

The union takes place by virtue of the very plan of God who created them male and female and gives them the power to unite for ever those natural and complementary dimensions of their persons.

The indissolubility of marriage does not derive from the definitive commitment of those who contract it but is intrinsic in the nature of the "powerful bond established by the Creator" (John Paul II, Catechesis, General Audience 21 November 1979, n. 2; ORE, 26 November 1979, p, 1).

People who contract marriage must be definitively committed to it because marriage is such in the plan of creation and of redemption. And the essential juridical character of marriage is inherent precisely in this bond which represents for the man and for the woman a requirement of justice and love from which, for their good and for the good of all, they may not withdraw without contradicting what God himself has wrought within them.

It is necessary to study this aspect further, not only in consideration of your role as canon lawyers, but also because the overall understanding of the institution of marriage must also include clarity with regard to its juridical dimension. However, conceptions of the nature of this relationship can be radically divergent. For positivism, the legality of the conjugal bond would be solely the result of the application of a formally valid and effective human norm. In this way, the human reality of life and conjugal love remains extrinsic to the "juridical" institution of marriage. A hiatus is created between law and human existence which radically denies the possibility of an anthropological foundation of the law.

The traditional role of the Church is quite different in the understanding of the juridical dimension of the conjugal union following the teachings of Jesus, of the Apostles and of the Holy Fathers. St Augustine, for instance, in citing St Paul, forcefully affirms: "Cui fidei [coniugali] tantum iuris tribuit Apostolus, ut eam potestatem appellaret, dicens: Mulier non habet potestatem corporis sui, sed vir; similiter autem et vir non habet potestatem corporis sui, sed mulier (1Co 7,4)" (De Bono Coniugali, 4, 4).

St Paul who so profoundly explains in his Letter to the Ephesians the "mysterion mega" of conjugal love in relation to Christ's union with the Church (5: 22-31), did not hesitate to apply to marriage the strongest legal terms to designate the juridical bond by which spouses are united in their sexual dimension. So too, for St Augustine, lawfulness is essential in each one of the three goods (proles, fides, sacramentum) that form the backbone of his doctrinal exposition on marriage.

With regard to the subjective and libertarian relativization of the sexual experience, the Church's tradition clearly affirms the natural juridical character of marriage, that is, the fact that it belongs by nature to the context of justice in interpersonal relations.

In this perspective, the law is truly interwoven with life and love as one of the intrinsic obligations of its existence. Therefore, as I wrote in my first Encyclical, "From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose" (Deus Caritas Est ).

Thus, love and law can be united to the point of ensuring that husband and wife mutually owe to one another the love with which they spontaneously love one another: the love in them is the fruit of their free desire for the good of one another and of their children; which, moreover, is also a requirement of love for one's own true good.

All the activity of the Church and of the faithful in the context of the family, must be based on this truth about marriage and its intrinsic juridical dimension. In spite of this, as I recalled earlier, the relativistic mindset, in more or less open or subtle ways, can also insinuate itself into the ecclesial community.

You are well aware that this is a risk of our time which is sometimes expressed in a distorted interpretation of the canonical norms in force. One must react to this tendency with courage and faith, constantly applying the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity and not allowing oneself to be seduced by forms of interpretation that involve a break with the Church's tradition.

These paths lead away from the true essence of marriage, as well as from its intrinsic juridical dimension and, under various more or less attractive names, seek to conceal a false conjugal reality.
So it is that the point is sometimes reached of maintaining that nothing is right or wrong in a couple's relationship, provided it corresponds with the achievement of the subjective aspirations of each party. In this perspective, the idea of marriage "in facto esse" oscillates between merely factual relations and the juridical-positivistic aspect, overlooking its essence as an intrinsic bond of justice between the persons of the man and of the woman.

The contribution of ecclesiastical tribunals to overcoming the crisis of the meaning of marriage, in the Church and in civil society, could seem to some people of somewhat secondary or minor importance.

However, precisely because marriage has an intrinsically juridical dimension, being wise and convinced servants of justice in this sensitive and most important sector has the significant value of witness and is of deep reassurance to all. Dear Prelate Auditors, you are committed on a front in which responsibility for the truth makes itself felt in a special way in our times.

In being faithful to your task, make sure that your action fits harmoniously into an overall rediscovery of the beauty of that "truth about marriage", the truth of the "principle", which Jesus fully taught us and of which the Holy Spirit continually reminds us in the Church today.

Dear Prelate Auditors, Officials and collaborators, these are the considerations to which I felt impelled to call your attention, in the certainty that I would find in you judges and magistrates ready to share and make your own so important and serious a doctrine.

To each and every one I express in particular my pleasure and my total confidence that the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, an effective and authoritative manifestation of the juridical wisdom of the Church, will continue to carry out consistently its own, far from easy munus, at the service of the divine plan followed by the Creator and the Redeemer in the institution of marriage.
As I invoke divine help upon your work, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

February 2007


Dear Friends,

It is a joy for me, having been one of the founding members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research and Dialogue, to meet you again and to welcome you today at the Vatican. I greet in particular His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of Jordan whom I have the pleasure to meet on this occasion.

I thank H.E. Metropolitan Damaskinos of Andrianoupolis, your President, who has presented to me the first result of your work: a joint edition of the three Sacred Books of the three monotheistic religions in their original language and in chronological order. Indeed, this was the very first project we conceived of in creating the Foundation together, so as to "make a specific and positive contribution to the dialogue between cultures and religions".

As I have said on several occasions, in continuation with the Conciliar Declaration Nostra Aetate and with my beloved Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, we, Jews, Christians and Muslims are called to develop the bonds that unite us.

Indeed, it was this idea that led us to create this Foundation which aims to seek "the most essential and authentic message that the three monotheistic religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity and Islam, can address to the world of the 21st century", to give a new impetus to interreligious and intercultural dialogue by means of our common research and by highlighting and disseminating everything in our respective spiritual heritages that helps to strengthen fraternal ties between our communities of believers.

Consequently, the Foundation had to work out an instrument of reference that would help us overcome misunderstandings and prejudices and offer a common platform for future work. Thus, you have produced this beautiful edition of the three books which are the source of our religious beliefs, creators of culture, that have made a deep mark on peoples and to which we are indebted today.

The reinterpretation, and for some people, the discovery of the texts that so many people across the world venerate as sacred, demands mutual respect in trusting dialogue. Our contemporaries expect of us a message of harmony and peace and the practical expression of our common willingness to help them achieve their legitimate aspiration to live in justice and peace.

They are entitled to expect of us a strong sign of renewed understanding and reinforced cooperation in accordance with the actual objective of the Foundation, which proposes to offer "to the world in this way a sign of hope and the promise of divine Blessings that always accompanies charitable action".

The Foundation's work will contribute to a growing awareness of everything in the different cultures of our time which is in conformity with divine wisdom and serves human dignity, the better to discern and reject everything that usurps God's name and deforms man's humanity.

Thus, we are invited to engage in a common task of reflection. This is a labour of reason for which I wholeheartedly appeal, with you, to be able to examine God's mystery in the light of our respective religious traditions and wisdom so as to discern the values likely to illumine the men and women of all the peoples on earth, whatever their culture and religion.

For this reason it is henceforth invaluable to have at our disposal a common reference point, thanks to the work you have done. Thus, we will be able to make headway in interreligious and intercultural dialogue which today is more necessary than ever: a true dialogue, respectful of differences, courageous, patient and persevering, which finds its strength in prayer and is nourished by the hope that dwells in all who believe in God and put their trust in him.

Our respective religious traditions all insist on the sacred character of the life and dignity of the human person. We believe that God will bless our initiatives if they converge for the good of all his children and enable them to respect each other in brotherhood world-wide.

Together with all people of good will, we aspire to peace. That is why I insist once again: interreligious and intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need for our time.

May the Almighty bless your work and grant an abundance of his Blessings to you and to your loved ones!


Dear Brothers in Christ,

It is with great joy that I welcome you, the members of the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches, on the occasion of your fourth plenary meeting. Through you, I gladly extend fraternal greetings to my Venerable Brothers, the Heads of the Oriental Orthodox Churches: His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, His Holiness Patriarch Zakka I Iwas, His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II, His Holiness Catholicos Aram I, His Holiness Patriarch Paulus, His Holiness Patriarch Antonios I and His Holiness Baselios Marthoma Didymus I.

Your meeting concerning the constitution and the mission of the Church is of great importance for our common journey towards the restoration of full communion. The Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches share an ecclesial patrimony stemming from apostolic times and the first centuries of Christianity. This “heritage of experience” should shape our future “guiding our common path towards the re-establishment of full communion” (cf. Ut Unum Sint UUS 56).

We have been entrusted by the Lord Jesus with the mandate “Go into all the world and proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation” (Mc 16,15). Many people today are still waiting for the truth of the Gospel to be brought to them. May their thirst for the Good News strengthen our resolve to work and pray diligently for that unity required for the Church to exercise her mission in the world, according to the prayer of Jesus “that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me” (Jn 17,23).

Many of you come from countries of the Middle East. The difficult situation which individuals and Christian communities face in the region is a cause of deep concern for us all. Indeed, Christian minorities find it difficult to survive in the midst of such a volatile geopolitical panorama and are often tempted to emigrate. In these circumstances, Christians of all traditions and communities in the Middle East are called to be courageous and steadfast in the power of the Spirit of Christ (cf. Christmas Message to Catholics Living in the Middle East Region, 21 December 2006). May the intercession and example of the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in these lands, sustain and strengthen the Christian communities in their faith!

Thank you for presence today and for your ongoing commitment to the path of dialogue and unity. May the Holy Spirit accompany you in your deliberations. To all of you, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
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