Speeches 2005-13 155



St Peter's Square
Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Saturday, 31 May 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We conclude the month of May with this evocative Marian prayer meeting. I greet you with affection and I thank you for your participation. In the first place I greet Cardinal Angelo Comastri; with him I greet the other Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and priests, who have come to this evening celebration. I extend my greeting to the consecrated persons and to all of you, dear lay faithful, who, with your presence have wished to honour the Most Holy Virgin.

Today we are celebrating the Feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin and the memory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Therefore, everything invites us to turn our trusting glance to Mary. To her, also this evening, we addressed the ancient and ever actual pious practice of the Rosary.
The Rosary, when it is not a mechanical, traditional form of repetition, is a Biblical meditation that allows us to trace the events of the Lord's life in the company of the Blessed Virgin, pondering them, like her, in our heart. In many Christian communities during the month of May there is the beautiful custom of reciting the Holy Rosary in a more solemn way in families and in parishes. Now, that the month is ending, may this good habit continue. Rather, may it continue with more commitment so that, at the school of Mary, the lamp of faith may shine ever more in the hearts and homes of Christians.

In today's Feast of the Visitation the liturgy has us listen again to Luke's Gospel passage that recounts Mary of Nazareth's journey to the home of her elderly cousin Elizabeth. Let us imagine the Virgin's state of mind after the Annunciation, when the Angel left her. Mary found herself with a great mystery enclosed within her womb; she knew something extraordinarily unique had happened; she was aware that the last chapter of salvation history in the world had begun. But everything around her remained as before and the village of Nazareth was completely unaware of what had happened to her.

Before worrying about herself, Mary instead thought about elderly Elizabeth, who she knew was well on in her pregnancy and, moved by the mystery of love that she had just welcomed within herself, she set out "in haste" to go to offer Elizabeth her help. This is the simple and sublime greatness of Mary! When she reaches Elizabeth's house, an event takes place that no artist could ever portray with the beauty and the intensity with which it took place. The interior light of the Holy Spirit enfolds their persons. And Elizabeth, enlightened from on high, exclaims: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Lc 1,42-45).

These words could appear to us out of proportion with respect to the real context. Elizabeth is one of the many elderly people in Israel and Mary is an unknown young woman from a lost village of Galilee. What can this be and what can they accomplish in a world where other people count and other powers hold sway. Yet, once again Mary amazes us; her heart is limpid, totally open to God's light. Her soul is without sin, it is not weighed down by pride or selfishness. Elizabeth's words enkindle in her spirit a canticle of praise, which is an authentic and profound "theological" reading of history: a reading that we must continually learn from the one whose faith is without shadow and without wrinkle. "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord". Mary recognizes God's greatness. This is the first indispensable sentiment of faith. It is the sentiment that gives security to human creatures and frees from fear, even in the midst of the tempest of history.

Going beyond the surface, Mary "sees" the work of God in history with the eyes of faith. This is why she is blessed, because she believed. By faith, in fact, she accepted the Word of the Lord and conceived the Incarnate Word. Her faith has shown her that the thrones of the powerful of this world are all temporary, while God's throne is the only rock that does not change or fall. Her Magnificat, at the distance of centuries and millennia, remains the truest and most profound interpretation of history, while the interpretations of so many of this world's wise have been belied by events in the course of the centuries.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us return home with the Magnificat in our heart. Let us bring the same sentiments of praise and thanksgiving of Mary to the Lord, her faith and her hope, her docile abandonment in the hands of Divine Providence. May we imitate her example of readiness and generosity in the service of our brethren. Indeed, only by accepting God's love and making of our existence a selfless and generous service to our neighbour, can we joyfully lift a song of praise to the Lord. May the Blessed Mother, who invites us this evening to find refuge in her Immaculate Heart, obtain this grace for us.

My Blessing to you all.

June 2008


Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Archdiocese of Turin,

To each and every one of you I extend my cordial greeting: welcome to the house of the Successor of St Peter! I am pleased to meet you at the conclusion of your pilgrimage to Rome, which crowns the spiritual and pastoral journey taken by your diocesan community in these years. While I welcome you with joy, I extend my greeting first of all to your Archbishop, Cardinal Severino Poletto, thanking him for his kind words with which he described the ecclesial journey travelled by you up to now and the future missionary plans which await you. I greet the Auxiliary Bishop, Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, the priests, men and women religious, catechists, and representatives from parishes and various organizations of your Archdiocese. I greet the Authorities and all those who have wished to join you at this meeting. Through those present, I wish to extend my greeting to the entire population of Turin, a city rich in civil and religious history. I feel I must address a word of special spiritual closeness and solidarity to the populations of the Pinerolo and Cuneo, struck in these days by the consequences of the bad weather. I assure you of a special prayer to the Lord, that he may welcome all the victims into his peace and sustain all who are struggling in the wake of this grave natural disaster.

Dear brothers and sisters, after having celebrated the Eucharist yesterday in the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls, this morning, it was at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles that together you renewed the solemn profession of faith. And what place could be more appropriate for such a meaningful gesture than the Redditio fidei? In St Peter's Basilica where everything speaks of the heroism at the beginning of Christianity, the blood of the martyrs continues to be an eloquent invitation to follow Christ without compromise. Catholics from all parts of the world come to the Basilica and the Vatican Grottoes and, though they belong to different languages and cultures, they profess the very same faith and are part of the unique Church of Christ. You too were able to immerse yourselves in this climate of holiness and Catholicism and now, before returning to your communities, you await a word of encouragement from the Pope to be consistent Gospel witnesses in our age.

Your Archbishop kindly wished to inform me of the journey your diocesan Community began in 1999, when he was called by the Lord to be its Pastor and, even more so, since September 2003, when he began his pastoral visit, which will come to an end, God willing, next Sunday. This ecclesial itinerary has seen you as protagonists of a vast apostolic and missionary action, starting from an intense spiritual movement centred primarily on the Sunday Eucharist, weekly Eucharistic adoration, and the rediscovery of the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Animated by a sincere longing for a "renewed first evangelization", you have committed yourselves to draw near to the so-called "farthest away", extending the borders of pastoral charity of every parish community. This missionary task has become even more greatly shared in this present pastoral year, the year of Redditio fidei, and finds its culmination precisely in the solemn profession of faith which you proclaimed together this morning at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles.

But all does not end here: after this refreshing pause in Rome, it is necessary to take up the way again and the new tasks which await you. The next pastoral year, in fact, you will dedicate to the Word of God and the following year you will be oriented toward a more attentive contemplation of the mystery of the Passion of Christ. In that context, I will be pleased to meet your great expectations and to welcome your Archbishop's wish that in the Spring of 2010, another solemn "Exposition of the Shroud". If the Lord gives me life and health, I hope that I too may come to this Exposition. It will be a propitious occasion - I am sure of it - to contemplate that mysterious Face, which speaks silently to the hearts of men, inviting them to recognize the Face of God, which "so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3,16).

Dear brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to entrust yourselves to Christ: only He can satisfy the deepest longings of the human heart. Let no difficulty, no obstacle diminish your love for his Gospel! If Jesus is the centre of your families, your parishes and every community, you will feel that his presence is alive and unity and communion will grow between all the various diocesan realities. Therefore, constantly nurture union with the Lord in prayer and the frequent recourse to the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Reconciliation. Among your pastoral concerns may there be that of ensuring a continuous Christian formation of youth and adults. In the wake of your Saints, attentive to the needs of the young and the poor, like Don Bosco, Murialdo, Cottolengo, Cafasso and others, truly a land of saints, may your Diocese shine for its works of charity and for its choral effort in facing the great "educational challenge" of the new generation. May the heavenly Mother of God, whom you invoke as Consoler and Auxiliatrix, protect your priests and pastoral workers, may your communities obtain numerous and holy vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life, and kindle in boys and girls the desire to follow the high ideal of holiness. May she be for all a comfort and support, particularly for the elderly, the sick, the suffering, those who are alone and abandoned. And while I assure you of a special remembrance in prayer, with affection I bless all of you present, extending my thoughts to all your loved ones.


Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to welcome you on your ad Limina visit, as you renew the bonds of communion in faith and love between yourselves as Pastors of God’s people in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and the Successor of Peter in the See of Rome. I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Pakiam has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you the assurance of my prayers and good wishes for all of you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care.

By a happy coincidence, your visit to the city of the Apostles Peter and Paul comes at a time when the Church all over the world is preparing to celebrate a year dedicated to Saint Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, on the two-thousandth anniversary of his birth. I pray that you will draw inspiration from the example of this zealous apostle, outstanding teacher, and courageous witness to the truth of the Gospel. Through his intercession, may you experience renewed fervour in the great missionary task for which you, like Saint Paul, have been set apart and called (cf. Gal Ga 1,15-16) – that of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore. Echoing the words addressed by Saint Paul to the elders at Ephesus, I urge you to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Ac 20,28).

“The Church’s faith in Jesus is a gift received and a gift to be shared; it is the greatest gift which the Church can offer to Asia” (Ecclesia in Asia ). Happily, the peoples of Asia display an intense yearning for God (cf. ibid., 9). In handing on to them the message that you also received (cf. 1Co 15,3), you are sowing the seeds of evangelization in fertile ground. If the faith is to flourish, however, it needs to strike deep roots in Asian soil, lest it be perceived as a foreign import, alien to the culture and traditions of your people. Mindful of the manner in which Saint Paul preached the Good News to the Athenians (cf. Ac 17,22-34), you are called to present the Christian faith in ways that resonate with the “innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom in the Asian soul” (Ecclesia in Asia ), so that people will welcome it and make it their own.

In particular, you need to ensure that the Christian Gospel is in no way confused in their minds with secular principles associated with the Enlightenment. On the contrary, by “speaking the truth in love” (Ep 4,15) you can help your fellow citizens to distinguish the wheat of the Gospel from the chaff of materialism and relativism. You can help them to respond to the urgent challenges posed by the Enlightenment, familiar to Western Christianity for over two centuries, but only now beginning to have a significant impact upon other parts of the world. While resisting the “dictatorship of positivist reason” that tries to exclude God from public discourse, we should welcome the “true conquests of the Enlightenment” – especially the stress on human rights and the freedom of religion and its practice (cf. Address to the Members of the Roman Curia at the Traditional Exchange of Christmas Greetings, 22 December 2006). By stressing the universal character of human rights, grounded in the dignity of the human person created in God’s image, you carry out an important task of evangelization, since this teaching forms an essential aspect of the Gospel. In so doing, you are following in the footsteps of Saint Paul, who knew how to express the essentials of Christian faith and practice in a way that could be assimilated by the Gentile communities to which he was sent.

This Pauline apostolate requires a commitment to interreligious dialogue, and I encourage you to carry forward this important work, exploring every avenue open to you. I realize that not all the territories you represent offer the same degree of religious liberty, and many of you, for example, encounter serious difficulties in promoting Christian religious instruction in schools. Do not become disheartened, but continue to proclaim with conviction the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Ep 3,8), so that all may come to hear of the love of God made manifest in Jesus. In the context of open and honest dialogue with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and the followers of other religions present in your respective countries, you assist your fellow citizens to recognize and observe the law “written on their hearts” (Rm 2,15) by clearly articulating the truth of the Gospel. In this way, your teaching can reach a wide audience and help to promote a unified vision of the common good. This in turn should help to foster growth in religious freedom and greater social cohesion between members of different ethnic groups, which can only be conducive to the peace and well-being of the entire community.

In terms of the pastoral care that you offer to your people, I would encourage you to show particular concern for your priests. Using the image evoked by Saint Paul in writing to the young Timothy, urge them to rekindle the gift of God that is within them through the laying on of hands (cf. 2Tm 1,6). Be a father, brother and friend to them, as Paul was to Timothy and to Titus. Lead them by example, showing them the way to imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd. Saint Paul famously proclaimed “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Ga 2,20). By modelling your whole life and conduct upon Christ, let your priests see what it is to live as alter Christus in the midst of your people. In this way, not only will you inspire them to offer their whole lives “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rm 12,1), but more young people will aspire to this sublime life of priestly service.

I am aware that in the territories you represent there are some regions where it is rare for the people to see a priest and others where the people have not yet heard the Gospel. They too have a particular claim on your pastoral solicitude and your prayers. For “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” (Rm 10,14). Here the formation of the laity takes on added importance, so that through sound catechesis the scattered children of God can know the hope to which they have been called, “the riches of his glorious inheritance” (Ep 1,18). In this way they can be prepared to welcome the priest when he comes among them. Tell your catechists, both lay and religious, that I remember them in my prayers, and that I appreciate the enormous contribution they make to the life of the Christian communities in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore. Through their vital work, countless men, women and children are enabled “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” and so come to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Ep 3,19).

Dear brother Bishops, I pray that, as you return to your respective countries, you will “rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1Th 5,16). Commending all of you and your priests, religious and lay faithful to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.


I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you at the conclusion of the Tenth Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. To all of you taking part in this important gathering I extend cordial greetings. I thank in particular Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran for his gracious words.

"Dialogue in veritate et caritate: Pastoral orientations" – this is the theme of your Plenary Assembly. I am happy to learn that during these days you have sought to arrive at a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church’s approach to people of other religious traditions. You have considered the broader purpose of dialogue – to discover the truth – and the motivation for it, which is charity, in obedience to the divine mission entrusted to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the inauguration of my Pontificate I affirmed that "the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole" (Address to Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April 2005). Through the ministry of the Successors of Peter, including the work of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the efforts of local Ordinaries and the People of God throughout the world, the Church continues to reach out to followers of different religions. In this way she gives expression to that desire for encounter and collaboration in truth and freedom. In the words of my venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, the Church’s principal responsibility is service to the Truth – "truth about God, truth about man and his hidden destiny, truth about the world, truth which we discover in the Word of God" (Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 78).

Human beings seek answers to some of the fundamental existential questions: What is the origin and destiny of human beings? What are good and evil? What awaits human beings at the end of their earthly existence? All people have a natural duty and a moral obligation to seek the truth. Once it is known, they are bound to adhere to it and to order their whole lives in accordance with its demands (cf. Nostra Aetate NAE 1 and Dignitatis Humanae DH 2).

Dear friends, "Caritas Christi urget nos" (2Co 5,14). It is the love of Christ which impels the Church to reach out to every human being without distinction, beyond the borders of the visible Church. The source of the Church’s mission is Divine Love. This love is revealed in Christ and made present through the action of the Holy Spirit. All the Church’s activities are to be imbued with love (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 2-5 Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 26, and Dialogue and Mission, EN 9). Thus, it is love that urges every believer to listen to the other and seek areas of collaboration. It encourages Christian partners in dialogue with the followers of other religions to propose, but not impose, faith in Christ who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn 14,16). As I said in my recent Encyclicals, the Christian faith has shown us that "truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities" (Spe Salvi ). For the Church, "charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (Deus Caritas Est ).

The great proliferation of interreligious meetings around the world today calls for discernment. In this regard, I am pleased to note that during these days you have reflected on pastoral orientations for interreligious dialogue. Since the Second Vatican Council, attention has been focused on the spiritual elements which different religious traditions have in common. In many ways, this has helped to build bridges of understanding across religious boundaries. I understand that during your discussions you have been considering some of the issues of practical concern in interreligious relations: the identity of the partners in dialogue, religious education in schools, conversion, proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom, and the role of religious leaders in society. These are important issues to which religious leaders living and working in pluralistic societies must pay close attention.

It is important to emphasize the need for formation for those who promote interreligious dialogue. If it is to be authentic, this dialogue must be a journey of faith. How necessary it is for its promoters to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed about those of others. It is for this reason that I encourage the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to organize formation courses and programmes in interreligious dialogue for different Christian groups, especially seminarians and young people in tertiary educational institutions.

Interreligious collaboration provides opportunities to express the highest ideals of each religious tradition. Helping the sick, bringing relief to the victims of natural disasters or violence, caring for the aged and the poor: these are some of the areas in which people of different religions collaborate. I encourage all those who are inspired by the teaching of their religions to help the suffering members of society.

Dear friends, as you come to the end of your Plenary Assembly, I thank you for the work you have done. I ask you to take the message of good will from the Successor of Peter to your Christian flock and to all our friends of other religions. Willingly I impart my Apostolic blessing to you as a pledge of grace and peace in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.


Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Illustrious Professors,

For me it is a motive of profound joy to meet you on the occasion of the Sixth European Symposium for University Professors on the theme: "Widen the horizons of rationality. Perspectives for Philosophy" promoted by the Professors of the Universities of Rome and organized by the Office for Campus Ministry of the Vicariate of Rome in collaboration with the regional and provincial Institutions and the Municipality of Rome. I thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini and Prof. Cesare Mirabelli who have interpreted your sentiments, and I address my cordial welcome to all those present.

In continuity with last year's European meeting of university Lecturers, your Symposium takes up a very important academic and cultural theme. I would like to express my gratitude to the organizing committee for this choice which permits us, among other things, to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Letter Fides et Ratio of my beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II. Already on that occasion 50 civil and ecclesial philosophy professors of the public and pontifical universities of Rome manifested their gratitude to the Pope with a declaration which confirmed the urgency of relaunching the study of philosophy in universities and schools. Sharing this concern and encouraging fruitful collaboration among the professors of various Roman and European athenaeums, I wish to address a particular invitation to philosophy professors to continue with confidence in philosophical research, investing intellectual energy and involving new generations in this task.

The events which took place in the last 10 years since the Encyclical's publication have further delineated the historical and cultural scene in which philosophical research is called to enter. Indeed, the crisis of modernity is not synonymous with the decline in philosophy; instead philosophy must commit itself to a new path of research to comprehend the true nature of this crisis (cf. Address to European Meeting of University Lecturers, 23 June 2007) and to identify new prospectives toward which to be oriented. Modernity, if well understood, reveals an "anthropological question" that presents itself in a much more complex and articulated way than what has taken place in the philosophical reflections of the last centuries, above all in Europe. Without diminishing the attempts made, much still remains to be probed and understood. Modernity is not simply a cultural phenomenon, historically dated; in reality it implies a new planning, a more exact understanding of human nature. It is not difficult to gather from the writings of authoritative thinkers an honest reflection on the difficulties that arise in the resolution of this prolonged crisis. Giving credit to some authors' proposals in regard to religions and in particular to Christianity, is an evident sign of the sincere desire to exist from the self-sufficiency of philosophical reflection.

From the beginning of my Pontificate I have listened attentively to the requests that reach me from the men and women of our time and, in view of their expectations, I have wished to offer a pointer for research that seems to me capable of raising interest to relaunch philosophy and its irreplaceable role in the academic and cultural world. You have made it the object of reflection of your Symposium: it is the proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality". This allows me to reflect on it with you as among friends who desire to pursue a common journey. I would like to begin with a deep conviction which I have expressed many times: "Christian faith has made its clear choice: against the gods of religion for the God of philosophers, in other words against the myth of mere custom for the truth of being" (cf. J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Ch. 3). This affirmation, that reflects the Christian journey from its dawning, shows itself completely actual in the cultural historical context that we are living. In fact, only beginning from this premise, which is historic and theological at the same time, is it possible to meet the new expectations of philosophical reflection. The risk that religion, even Christianity, be strumentalized as a surreptitious phenomenon is very concrete even today.

But Christianity, as I recalled in the Encyclical Spe Salvi, is not only "informative", but "performative" (cf. n. 2). This means that from the beginning Christian faith cannot be enclosed within an abstract world of theories, but it must descend into the concrete historic experience that reaches humanity in the most profound truth of his existence. This experience, conditioned by new cultural and ideological situations, is the place in which theological research must evaluate and upon which it is urgent to initiate a fruitful dialogue with philosophy. The understanding of Christianity as a real transformation of human existence, if on the one hand it impels theological reflection to a new approach in regard to religion, on the other, it encourages it not to lose confidence in being able to know reality. The proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality", therefore, must not simply be counted among the new lines of theological and philosophical thought, but it must be understood as the requisite for a new opening onto the reality that the human person in his uni-totality is, rising above ancient prejudices and reductionisms, to open itself also to the way toward a true understanding of modernity. Humanity's desire for fullness cannot be disregarded. The Christian faith is called to take on this historical emergency by involving the men and women of good will in a simple task. The new dialogue between faith and reason, required today, cannot happen in the terms and in the ways in which it happened in the past. If it does not want to be reduced to a sterile intellectual exercise, it must begin from the present concrete situation of humanity and upon this develop a reflection that draws from the ontological-metaphysical truth.

Dear friends, you have before you a very exacting journey. First of all, it is necessary to promote high-level academic centres in which philosophy can dialogue with other disciplines, in particular with theology, favouring new, suitable cultural syntheses to orient society's journey. The European dimension of your meeting in Rome - indeed, you come from 26 countries - can favour a truly fruitful comparison and exchange. I trust that the Catholic academic institutions are ready to open true cultural laboratories. I would also like to invite you to encourage youth to engage in philosophical studies, opportunely favouring initiatives with a university orientation. I am certain that the new generations, with their enthusiasm, will know how to respond generously to the expectations of the Church and society.

In a few days I will have the joy of opening the Pauline Year, during which we will celebrate the Apostle to the Gentiles: I hope that this unique initiative constitutes for all of you an opportune occasion to rediscover, in the footsteps of the great Apostle, the historic fecundity of the Gospel and its extraordinary potentiality for contemporary culture too. With this wish, I impart my Blessing to you all.


Venerable Brother,
Dear Priests of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy,

I am pleased to welcome you and address my cordial welcome to each one of you. I greet, first of all, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, your President, and thank him for the devoted sentiments he has expressed to me on behalf of all. I greet his Collaborators and I also greet you, dear Students, with special affection. Our meeting is taking place in this month of June, in which the Christian people practice special devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, an inexhaustible furnace from which to draw love and mercy to witness and spread among all the members of the People of God. We priests must be the first to quench our thirst at this font if we are to be able to communicate the divine tenderness to others in carrying out the different ministries that Providence entrusts to us.

May each one of you, dear Priests, increasingly develop your knowledge of this divine love: only in this way will you be able to bring to completion, with fidelity and without compromise, the mission for which you are preparing during these years of study. The apostolic and diplomatic ministry at the service of the Holy See that you will carry out wherever you are sent requires skills that cannot be improvised; treasure this period of your formation, therefore, so that later you can deal suitably with every situation. In your daily work you will come into contact with ecclesial circumstances that require understanding and support: you will often be living far from your land of origin in countries that you will learn to know and love; you will have to bring the worlds of bilateral and multilateral diplomacy closer to one another and be prepared to offer not only the contribution of your own diplomatic experience but also and above all your priestly witness. For this reason, in addition to the necessary and obligatory juridical, theological and diplomatic training, what matters most and marks your life is that your activity reflect a faithful love for Christ and for the Church that inspires in you a welcoming pastoral concern for all.

To carry out this task faithfully, seek from this very moment to "live by faith in the Son of God" (Ga 2,20); in other words, strive to be Pastors according to the Heart of Christ who engage in daily and intimate conversation with him. Unity with Jesus is the secret of authentic success for every priest's ministry. Whatever work you carry out in the Church, always seek to remain his true friends, faithful friends who have encountered him and have learned to love him above all else. Communion with him, the divine Master of our souls, will guarantee you peace and quiet even in the most complex and difficult moments.

Caught up in the vortex of frenetic activity, humanity often runs the risk of losing the meaning of life, while a certain contemporary culture casts doubt on every absolute value and even on the possibility of recognizing truth and goodness. It is therefore necessary to witness to the presence of God, a God who understands man and can speak to his heart. Your precise task will be to proclaim the joyful and comforting news of the Gospel of love with your way of life even before your words in contexts that are sometimes very distant from the Christian experience. Thus, be docile listeners to the Word of God every day; live in it and live by it so as to make it present in your priestly activity. Proclaim the truth that is Christ. May prayer, meditation and listening to the Word of God be your daily bread. If communion with Jesus grows within you, if you live by him and not only for him, you will radiate his love and glory around you.

Besides listening daily to the Word of God, may the celebration of the Eucharist be the heart and centre of every one of your days and of your entire ministry. Priests, like every baptized person, live by Eucharistic communion with the Lord. It is impossible to receive the Lord every day, taking his Body and Blood into our hands, pronouncing the tremendous and wonderful words: "This is my Body, this is my Blood" without letting ourselves be seized by him, without letting ourselves be won over by fascination for him, without letting his infinite love change us from within. May the Eucharist become a school of life for you in which Jesus' sacrifice on the Cross teaches you to make a total gift of yourselves to your brethren. In carrying out his mission, the Papal Representative is required to offer his neighbour this testimony of acceptance, the fruit of constant union with Christ.

Dear Priests of the Ecclesiastical Academy, thank you once again for this visit of yours which enables me to emphasize the importance of the role and function of Apostolic Nuncios, offering myself at the same time the opportunity to thank all who work in the Nunciatures and in the Diplomatic Service of the Holy See. I extend a special greeting and good wishes to all those who are about to leave the Academy and take up their first post: may the Lord sustain you and accompany you with his grace. I entrust you all, dear brothers, to the protection of the Holy Mother of God, a model and comfort for all who aspire to holiness and dedicate themselves to the cause of the Kingdom. May the Patrons of the Ecclesiastical Academy, St Anthony Abbot, St Peter and St Paul watch over you. We are preparing to celebrate a Jubilee Year of the latter on the occasion of the 2,000th anniversary of his birth. May you always be accompanied by my prayers and by the Blessing that I warmly impart to each one of you, to the Reverend Sisters, to the Academy Staff and to all your loved ones.
Speeches 2005-13 155