Speeches 2005-13 15068
I welcome you with joy, Your Excellency, at the moment when you are inaugurating your mission as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cameroon to the Holy See, acknowledging the fact that you are the first Ambassador of your Country to reside in Rome.
I thank you for your kind words conveying the good wishes of President Paul Biya. I would be grateful if you would reciprocate them by expressing to him my cordial greetings and best wishes for his lofty mission at the service of all his compatriots. I also extend my good wishes to the State Authorities and to all Cameroonians, especially the faithful of the Catholic Church; they are called to be an increasingly active part of the res publica, with all their brothers and sisters, and to make the fundamental human and Christian values visible in the management of social life for the development of the Nation and the well-being of all.
Your Country, like many others, especially on the Continent of Africa, is suffering more particularly from the current economic situation which affects numerous families that do not have the minimum to provide for their most basic needs and this does not promote national growth. However, there are internal elements which can also redirect this growth. Every nation must seek economic and social stability, ceaselessly striving to organize itself with its own means and in the framework of its own institutions. It is every nation's task to promote micro-projects that employ men and women locally, as well as to effectively combat illegal trade and the phenomena of corruption. Therefore, I invite all Cameroonians to have an ever fuller awareness of the common good. It is to be hoped moreover that the international community, by means of well-targeted and appropriate assistance and likewise by an economic policy on a world scale, will help to break the vicious cycle of underdevelopment and extreme poverty; it is also right to take into account various phenomena which have a negative effect on the populations, such as natural disasters, global warming, pandemics, wars and terrorism. I can only hope that the International Institutions with which the National Authorities are working, with a view to agreements that aim to decrease or cancel the debt and to ensure a fairer division of wealth, will enable your beloved Nation to recover a new economic and social impetus for the good of all the inhabitants and to give the young people fresh hope for a better future.
Your Country is currently facing an increase in the number of refugees from neighbouring countries. While appreciating the attention given to people who are often obliged to leave their homeland because of the armed conflicts taking place there, I can only ask the nations in the region to respond ever better to the requirements of security and peace, in order to face the various hotbeds of violence to which the entire innocent population and the Church herself often, unfortunately, fall prey. How can we forget the tragic death of Mons. Yves Plumey, of the Jesuit Father Engelbert Mveng and, more recently, the German Claretian, Bro. Anton Probst? One of the fundamental duties of political leaders is without any doubt to offer to their fellow-citizens a peaceful situation and harmony and to endeavour to put an end to the tension and discontent that regularly spark conflicts, to make dialogue and respect for the legitimate cultural diversity prevail between social and ethnic groups, in order to build and to unify the nation. Likewise, I appeal to all those involved in the trade or trafficking of arms, often with very lucrative interests, to question themselves on the consequences of their conduct. May the international community be involved alongside the local Authorities in this domain and intervene so greater peace can come about daily in all countries.
I am delighted with the attention that the Cameroonian Authorities are giving to the place of the Church and her work, especially in the context of education and health care, knowing likewise that her work is also deeply appreciated by the population. You may be certain that the local ecclesial communities, missionaries and Catholic charitable institutions present on the territory are seeking first and foremost the good and the development of individuals, and that they are concerned about their health. In this spirit, the Church does not fail to pay attention to all that regards tropical diseases and the pandemic of AIDS, seeking with all the means at her disposal to provide proper education on these matters. Moreover, subsequent to the agreement on the recognition of university degrees awarded by the Catholic University of Central Africa, signed on 17 August 1995 by the Holy See and the Authorities of Yaoundé, which can only be a cause of rejoicing, the possibility of a more organic Agreement between the Holy See and Cameroon will be able to encourage the development of ecclesial activity for education and the health-care of all, with the support and assistance that the Government can contribute in this sector.
At the end of our meeting, Mr Ambassador, when you are inaugurating your mission, I offer you my most fervent good wishes for the noble task that awaits you. Be assured that you will always find at the Secretariat of State the support and the attentive welcome you may need. I invoke the Blessings of the Almighty upon you, Your Excellency, upon your loved ones, upon the Members of your Embassy, upon the Authorities and upon all your Compatriots in the beloved Nation of Cameroon.
Dear Brother Bishops,
I am pleased to welcome you, the Bishops of Pakistan, as you make your quinquennial pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. Grateful to Archbishop Saldanha for his kind words, I convey warm greetings to the priests, religious and laity of your dioceses, assuring them of my prayers for their well-being. May they never tire in giving thanks for having received the “first fruits” of the Holy Spirit, who is always with them to strengthen them and to intercede on their behalf (cf. Rom Rm 8,23-27).
The seeds of the Gospel, sown in your region by zealous missionaries in the sixteenth century, continue to grow despite conditions that sometimes hinder their capacity to take root. Your visit to the See of Peter not only provides me with an opportunity to rejoice with you over the fruits of your labours, but to listen to your account of the hardships which you and your flock must endure for the sake of the Lord’s name. Whenever we courageously shoulder the burdens placed upon us in circumstances often beyond our control, we encounter Jesus himself, who gives us a hope that surpasses the sufferings of the present because it transforms us from within (cf. Spe Salvi ).
Your priests, united by a special bond to Christ the Good Shepherd, are heralds of Christian hope as they proclaim that Jesus lives among his people to ease their anguish and strengthen them in their weakness (cf. Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 75). I would ask you to assure your clergy of my spiritual closeness to them as they carry out this task. Just as the Lord continually gave to his Apostles signs of his love and solicitude for them, so should you strive to create a climate of affection and trust with your clergy who are your principal and irreplaceable co-workers. By looking upon you as a father and brother (cf. Pastores Gregis ) and hearing your words of encouragement for their pastoral initiatives, they will be inspired to unite their will to yours and dedicate themselves more completely to the spiritual good of God’s people (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 14-15).
The centrality of the Eucharist, both through the worthy celebration of the Lord’s Supper and in silent adoration of the Sacrament, should be especially apparent in the lives of priests and Bishops. This will lead the laity to follow your example and come to a deeper appreciation for the Lord’s abiding presence among them. As Bishops, you are the chief stewards of the mysteries of God and the main promoters of the liturgical life of your local Churches (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 22). In this regard, I am pleased to note the various programmes you have initiated to raise awareness of the radical change that becomes possible when Christians allow their entire life to take on a “eucharistic form” (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 70-83). The source and summit of the Church’s life radically reorients the way Christians think, speak and act in the world and makes present the salvific meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection, thus renewing history and vivifying all creation. The breaking of the bread reminds us again and again that the absurdity of violence never has the last word, for Christ has conquered sin and death through his glorious resurrection. The holy Sacrifice assures us that his wounds are the remedy for our sins, his weakness the power of God within us, and his death our life (cf. 1P 2,24 2Co 13,4 2Co 4,10). I am confident that the daily offering of the Mass by you and your priests will lead your people to give constant thanks and praise to God the Father for the graces granted us in his Son, through whom we have received the Spirit of filial adoption (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 1110).
Eucharistic spirituality embraces every aspect of the Christian life (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 77). This is evident in the emerging vitality of ecclesial movements within your Dioceses. The charisms of these associations both reflect and meet the particular needs of our time. By exhorting the members of these movements and all the faithful to listen attentively to the word of God and to cultivate a habit of daily prayer, may your people foster genuine fellowship and create ever expanding networks of charitable solicitude for their neighbours.
My dear brothers, I join you in thanking God who calls forth men to serve as priests in your local Churches. The theologate in Karachi, the programme of philosophy in Lahore and your minor seminaries are vital institutions for the future of the Church in Pakistan. Never doubt that your investment of human and material resources will ensure a solid formation for your candidates for the priesthood. Generous collaborators are also to be found among members of religious orders who can help to enhance programmes of priestly formation and strengthen bonds of cooperation between religious and diocesan clergy. Of particular urgency at the present time is the task of preparing these men – and indeed all catechists and lay leaders – to become effective promoters of interreligious dialogue. They share a responsibility with all Christians in Pakistan to foster understanding and trust with members of other religions by constructing peaceful forums for open conversation.
Likewise, other Catholic institutions continue to serve the common good of the Pakistani people. They demonstrate that the love of Christ is no mere abstraction, but reaches out to every man and woman as it passes through real persons working in the Church’s charitable institutions. The Gospel teaches us that Jesus cannot be loved in the abstract (cf. Mt 25,31-37). Those who serve in Catholic hospitals, schools, social and charitable agencies respond to the concrete needs of others, knowing well that they are ministering to the Lord himself through their particular acts of charity (cf. Mt 25,40). I encourage you to build on the noble example of service to neighbour etched in the history of these institutions. Priests, religious and the lay faithful in your Dioceses, by caring for the sick, helping young people grow in knowledge and virtue, and meeting the needs of the poor, reveal the human face of God’s love for each and every person. May their encounter with the living Christ awaken in their hearts a desire to share with others the joy of living in God’s presence (cf. Ps 73,25). In imitation of Saint Paul, may they freely give to others what they themselves have received without cost (cf. 1Co 4,7 2Co 11,7 Mt 10,8).
My brothers in the Episcopate, you exercise a special mission as preachers of the Gospel and as agents of love and peace in the Church and in society. May you support one another in prayer and effective collaboration as you face the difficult tasks that lie ahead. Invoking upon you and your priests, religious and lay faithful the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord Jesus.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,
I am pleased to greet you on the occasion of your second annual assembly. I cordially greet Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, Prefect of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, and I thank him for the courteous tribute he has addressed to me as President of ROACO on behalf of all. I extend my greeting to Archbishop Antonio Vegliò, Secretary, to the other Prelates and to the Father Custos of the Holy Land, to the Collaborators of the Dicastery, to the Representatives of the various International Agencies and to the Friends of Bethlehem University.
I would like first of all to thank you for the valuable support you offer to the mission proper to the Bishop of Rome to preside in universal charity. Indeed, you are brought together by love for the Eastern Catholic Churches, to whom I am happy to offer my special encouragement as a confirmation of the consideration they deserve for their faithful bond with the See of Peter. Their ordinary life and their special mission, especially in the ecumenical and interreligious context, should be supported by the entire Catholic Church. The Congregation and ROACO have appropriately made themselves interpreters of the spiritual and material solidarity of all Catholics in order that those communities may live to the full the mystery of the one Church of Christ with fidelity to their own spiritual traditions. I therefore urge you to strengthen this bond of charity so that, in accordance with the recommendation of the Apostle to the Gentiles, those who have an abundance may provide for those in need and that there may be equality in brotherhood (cf. 2Co 8,14-15).
In these days your attention has turned towards the Catholic Communities in Armenia and in Georgia, which were among the first to receive the light of Christ. I greet cordially my brother Bishops who are serving God's people in these areas, and I recall with pleasure our recent meeting on the occasion of their ad limina visit. By living humbly and fraternally with other Christian Churches, and by generously serving the poor, these Catholic communities, small though they are, can express in a very practical manner the communion of love proper to the universal Catholic Church. Let me recall what I said on the occasion of the recent visit of His Holiness Karekin II: "If our hearts and minds are open to the Spirit of communion, God can work miracles again in the Church, restoring the bonds of unity".
Dear friends of ROACO, the suffering of Iraqi Christians has long been the centre of your concern. Three months have already passed since the beginning of Holy Week, when our hearts were filled with immense sorrow at the killing of the Archbishop for Chaldeans, Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, in Mossul. Like many other Iraqi Christians, the Archbishop took up his cross and followed the Lord. In this way he contributed to bringing justice to his tormented land and to the whole world, bearing witness to the truth. He was a man of peace and dialogue. I encourage the aid organizations present to continue their efforts to help Iraqi Christians: those who, often as refugees, live in Iraq and those now in the bordering Countries who must face life in difficult conditions.
With gratitude and relief we followed the recent developments in Lebanon which has rediscovered the way of dialogue and mutual understanding. Once again I express the wish that Lebanon may be able to respond courageously to its vocation to be, for the Middle East and for the whole world, a sign of the effective possibility of a peaceful and constructive coexistence among human beings.
Next Sunday, the Christians of Lebanon will have the joy of taking part in Beirut in the Beatification of Venerable Fr Jacques Ghazir Haddad. Touched by the Cross of Jesus, this Capuchin Father made himself close to the sick and the poor and called a great number of young women to serve them. May his witness move the hearts of young Lebanese Christians today so that they in turn may learn the sweetness of an evangelical life at the service of the poor and the lowly, as faithful witnesses of the Catholic faith in the Arab world.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, some of my collaborators in the Roman Curia and, among them, the Cardinal Prefect of your Congregation, recently visited the Latin and Eastern communities of the Holy Land, conveying to them the Pope's affection and concern. I renew the expression of my special gratitude to those who take to heart the cause of these Communities, which is vital for the whole Church. I share with them in their trials and their hopes and I ardently pray that I may be able to visit them in person, as I likewise pray that certain signs of peace, which I hail with immense trust, may soon come to fruition. I appeal to the leaders of nations to see that the long-awaited peace and social stability with respect for the fundamental rights of the person, including real religious freedom are offered to the Middle East and in particular to the Holy Land of Jesus, to Lebanon and to Iraq.
Peace, moreover, is the only way in which to tackle the serious problem of refugees and halt the emigration, especially of Christians, which is deeply wounding the Eastern Churches. I entrust these hopes to Blessed John XXIII, a sincere friend of the East and the Pope of Pacem in Terris. And I invoke upon everyone the heavenly intercession of the Queen of Peace, while I cordially impart my Blessing to each one.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am pleased to welcome you to this house which is the house of Peter, and I joyfully offer my welcome to you all - Directors, editors and administrators - and the representatives of the many Catholic Radios throughout the world who are meeting in Rome, convoked by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to consider the identity and mission of Catholic Radio Stations today. Through you, I would like to greet with affection your many listeners in the various countries and continents who tune in daily and, thanks to your news broadcasts, learn to know Christ better, to listen to the Pope and to love the Church. I extend a warm "thank you" to the President of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, for his kind tribute to me. With him I greet the Secretaries, the Undersecretary and all the Officials of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.
The many different forms of communication with which we all have to deal show with obvious clarity that man, in his essential anthropological structure, was made to enter into relations with others. He does so above all through speech. In its simplicity and apparent poverty, the word, inscribed in the common grammar of language, is an instrument that assists the human capacity for relationships. This is based on the shared riches of a reason created in the image and likeness of the eternal Logos of God in which all things are created freely and for love. We know that that Logos did not remain extraneous to human events but, through love, communicated himself to men and women - ho Logos sarx egheneto (Jn 1,14) - and, in the love revealed by him and given in Christ, he continues to invite people to relate to him and to one another in a new way.
By becoming incarnate in Mary's womb, the Word of God offers the world a relationship of intimacy and friendship: "No longer do I call you servants... but I have called you friends" (Jn 15,15). The Word is transformed into a source of newness for the world and is integrated into humanity as the beginning of a new civilization of truth and of love. In fact, "the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known - it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing" (Spe Salvi ). God's self-communication offers a new horizon of hope and truth to human hopes and from this springs forth, already in this world, the beginning of a new world, a world of this eternal life that brightens the darkness of the human future.
Dear friends, as you work in Catholic radio stations you are at the service of the Word. The words that you broadcast each day are an echo of that eternal Word which became flesh. Your own words will bear fruit only to the extent that they serve the eternal Word, Jesus Christ. In God's saving plan and providence, that Word lived among us, or - as St John says - "pitched his tent among us" (Jn 1,14), in humility. The Incarnation took place in a distant village, far away from the noisy imperial cities of antiquity. Today, even though you make use of modern communication technologies, the words which you broadcast are also humble, and sometimes it may seem to you that they are completely lost amidst the competition of other noisy and more powerful mass media. But do not be disheartened! You are sowing the Word "in season and out of season" (2Tm 4,2), and thus fulfilling Jesus' command that the Gospel be preached to all nations (cf. Mt 28,19). The words which you transmit reach countless people, some of whom are alone and for whom your word comes as a consoling gift, some of whom are curious and are intrigued by what they hear, some of whom never attend church because they belong to different religions or to no religion at all, and others still who have never heard the name of Jesus Christ, yet through your service first come to hear the words of salvation. This work of patient sowing, carried on day after day, hour after hour, is your way of cooperating in the apostolic mission.
If the many forms and types of communication can be a gift of God to the service of development of the human person and of all humanity, radio, through which you exercise your apostolate, proposes closeness and listening to the word and to music in order to inform people and to make them relax, to announce and to denounce, but always with respect for reality and in a clear perspective of education in the truth and in hope. Indeed, Jesus Christ gives us the Truth about man and the truth for man and, based on this truth, a hope for the present and for the future of people and of the world. In this perspective, the Pope encourages you in your mission and congratulates you on the work you have done. However, as Redemptoris Missio emphasizes: "It is not enough to use the media simply to spread the Christian message and the Church's authentic teaching. It is also necessary to integrate that message into the "new culture' created by modern communications" (n. 37, c). By virtue of its association with words radio shares in the Church's mission and in its visibility but also creates a new way of living, being and making Church; this mission entails ecclesiological and pastoral challenges. It is important to make the Word of God attractive by giving it substance in your programmes and broadcasts to move the hearts of the men and women of our time and to take part in the transformation of our contemporaries' lives.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what exciting prospects you have before you in your commitment and your work! Your network can represent a small but concrete echo in the world of that network of friendship which the presence of the Risen Christ, the God-with-us, has inaugurated between Heaven and earth and among the peoples of all continents and epochs. By doing so your work itself will be fully part of the mission of the Church which I invite you to love deeply. By helping the heart of every person to open up to Christ you will help the world to be open to hope and to be wide open to that civilization of truth and love which is the most eloquent fruit of his presence among us. My Blessing to you all!
The publication of this first edition of L’Osservatore Romano in the Malayalam language is a highly significant event in the life of the Church in India, since it will keep the over six million Catholics in Kerala State fully informed about the ministry of the Pope and the work of the Holy See and strengthen the bonds of faith and ecclesial communion linking the Catholic community to the See of Peter. I willingly take this occasion to offer my prayerful good wishes for this important undertaking, together with my heartfelt thanks to the directors of the Carmel International Publishing House and to all those who in any way have contributed to its realization.
It is my hope that this new translation of the English edition, which now takes its place alongside the other language editions of L’Osservatore Romano, will prove a valuable source of instruction and enrichment in the faith, an incentive to ever greater fraternity and cooperation within Kerala’s richly diverse Catholic community, and an indispensable aid to the continuing work of evangelization.
To you and your families I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
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 Gabonese Republic to the Holy See.
I was moved by the friendly words you addressed to me, Mr Ambassador, as well as by the greeting and good wishes you conveyed to me from H.E. Mr El Hadj Omar Bongo Ondimba, President of the Republic. I would be grateful if you would reciprocate by conveying to him and to the entire Gabonese people my cordial good wishes for the Country's happiness and prosperity, as I pray God to grant that all may live in an increasingly fraternal and supportive Nation where the gifts that each one has received from God may blossom fully for the benefit of all.
You have just emphasized, Your Excellency, the importance of the relations marked by mutual trust that have existed for 40 years between Gabon and the Holy See. These ties were strengthened on the occasion of the recent visit to your Country last January of Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States. The warmth of the welcome that the President and the various State Authorities gave him is an expression of the harmony that marks these relations and of the desire for ongoing dialogue and collaboration. The Church's contribution to the history and construction of your Country is important, as you were eager to emphasize, Mr Ambassador. I cannot fail to appreciate this attention that your compatriots pay to the Church's mission. In this perspective, it is right to mention the Accord-Framework between Gabon and the Holy See, signed just over 10 years ago. It constitutes the basis for an increasing cooperation between the Holy See and your Country. For the Church, these diplomatic procedures serve essentially to help her carry out her mission at the service of every person and all people in their daily lives, thereby taking part in the development of the population and of the Nation and giving each person new hope in the future.
In conformity with her vocation and especially thanks to her numerous institutions, religious Congregations and local communities overall, the Church contributes and desires to contribute increasingly to the education of men, women and children, without distinction, with respect for people and their culture, passing on to each one the spiritual and moral values indispensable for the growth of the human person. Likewise, in her long tradition for the people's well-being, the Church is involved in health-care education and in providing care for the sick. The many dispensaries run by Religious Congregations in your Country are proof of this. It is to be hoped that in the framework of an agreement the Country will fully recognize and support this charitable service offered to all who have recourse to it. Legal recognition of this kind will not fail to have beneficial effects on the religious presence and on the dynamism of structures in the health-care and social sectors.
Among the essential areas it is also necessary to mention that in connection with teaching an Accord was signed in 2001; despite her limited means, the Church is anxious to be able to continue her mission in this context, with the support of all the bodies concerned. Her wish is to educate all the young people entrusted to her to give them an integral formation which will enable them to have a better future and to take charge of their destiny, that of their family and that of society. It is also an opportunity to participate in the training of men and women who will be leaders of the Nation in the future. It is by means of a very special attention to the integral education of people that a society shows that her members constitute the principal wealth of the Nation. I can therefore only hope that the Accords will be reinforced with your Country's Bishops, concerning teaching at all levels, especially higher education. The Church intends to maintain and develop high quality teaching. This requires the confident support of the Authorities and the various services of the State. This teaching must pass on intellectual knowledge in the various domains of science and thought, but at the same time must also form the whole being while communicating the essential values, both personal and collective.
The Church's role is also to offer people human and spiritual assistance, helping them to respond to their search for meaning. It is in this spirit that she desires to be able to organize better the pastoral care of the Armed Forces, whose mission is particularly sensitive and is first and foremost a service of peace, justice and security in the Country and in the entire region. Mr Ambassador, you know that in accompanying Catholic soldiers and their families, the Church desires to help them carry out their specific task by relying on the human and moral values of Christianity so that they are able to serve their Homeland faithfully and build their personal and family lives in accordance with their Christian vocation. Indeed, it is the task of Pastors of the Church to follow the whole flock entrusted to them and it is right that members of the Armed Forces may form special Christian communities under the guidance of a Pastor who will recognize and respect the specificity of the military world.
It is first and foremost the duty of National Leaders and of those who at all levels are called to lead the destiny of peoples to build societies of peace. I am pleased with your Country's attention in this sphere. Through you, Mr Ambassador, I invite all the authorities and people of good will, especially in the beloved Continent of Africa to be ever more committed to a peaceful, brotherly and supportive world. Today I appeal for an increasingly prophetic courage, while we remember that peace and justice go hand in hand and that this must be implemented through respect for legality in every milieu. Indeed, without justice, in the battle against every form of corruption, without respect for the rules of law, it is impossible to build true peace and it is clear that citizens will then have difficulty in trusting their leaders. Moreover, without respect for every individual's freedom, it is impossible to have peace. In conformity with her tradition, and in all the ways that are incumbent on her, the Church is prepared to collaborate with and to give her support to all people whose primary concern is to build a society that respects the most elementary human rights and who desire to build a society fit for the human person.
You are attentive, Mr Ambassador, to the important issues that affect the future of our world. This future is all too often linked to purely economic issues that give rise to numerous conflicts. It is right to ensure that the Country's inhabitants are the first to benefit from the products of the Nation's natural riches and to do all that is in our power to ensure a better protection of the planet, enabling us to bequeath to future generations an earth that is truly inhabitable and able to feed all its inhabitants.
Allow me, Mr Ambassador, to take this happy opportunity which your presence affords me to offer my cordial greetings, through you, to all the Catholics of Gabon, especially the Bishops who came here on their ad limina visit last October. I am aware of the attachment and affection they have for their Country, as well as of their firm determination to work for its development in fraternal harmony with all their compatriots. I affectionately invite them to continue to be increasingly fervent artisans and witnesses of peace, brotherhood and solidarity among all. Mr Ambassador, at the moment when your mission to the Apostolic See is officially beginning, I offer you my cordial good wishes for the noble task you are undertaking. You may rest assured that you will find here, with my collaborators, the attentive and understanding welcome that you may need.
I warmly invoke upon you, Your Excellency, upon the leaders of the Nation and on the entire Gabonese People an abundance of Blessings from the Almighty.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
I receive you with great joy this morning and I am grateful to the Lord to have been able to meet you in order to share all the projects and hopes, worries and difficulties in your hearts as Pastors of the Church. The Catholic Community of Honduras has been blessed with the recent ordination of five new Bishops; may the Lord grant that this ad limina visit, taking place during the celebration of the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II's Pastoral Visit to your Country, contribute to strengthening further the close bonds of communion between you and the Successor of Peter so that with fresh zeal you may take up the mission the Lord has entrusted to you.
I would like to thank warmly Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa and President of your Bishops' Conference for his kind words to me expressing your affection and loyalty, as well as that of your priests, religious and diocesan faithful. I keep them all, especially those who are suffering because of poverty, violence or sickness, ever present in my prayers and express to all my esteem and spiritual closeness.
The People of Honduras are characterized by their profound religious spirit which is expressed in the numerous and deep-rooted practices of popular piety which, duly purified of elements foreign to the faith, must be an effective instrument for the announcement of the Gospel. On the other hand, as is happening in other places, the spread of secularism and the proselytism of the sects are a source of confusion for many of the faithful and, in addition, give rise to a loss of the feeling of membership in the Church.
Far from leading to discouragement, the awareness of the enormous difficulties that stand in the way of your pastoral mission must serve as a vehicle for an extensive and bold evangelizing drive which relies not on the effectiveness of material means or human projects but rather relies on the power of the Word of God (cf. He 4,12), accepted with faith, lived with humility and proclaimed with fidelity.
As successors of the Apostles, you have been called to a sublime mission: "to perpetuate the work of Christ, the eternal Pastor" (Christus Dominus CD 2). Christ is certainly the heart of evangelization (cf. Pastores Gregis ) and this is why love for him as well as for men and women urges you to bring his message to the most remote corners of your beloved Nation so that everyone can arrive at this personal and intimate encounter with the Lord, which is the beginning of a genuine Christian life (cf. Deus Caritas Est ).
In this urgent task of proclaiming the Good News of salvation, you rely on the invaluable help of your priests. As the first collaborators in your pastoral mission, they must be the first to whom you - as fathers, brothers and friends - show your concern, with attention to their spiritual life and material needs. Likewise, the care and attention with which you follow the seminarians' formation is an eloquent expression of your love for the priesthood. With trust in the Lord and with generosity, always make available to the Seminary the best formation teachers and the appropriate material means, so that these future priests may acquire the human, spiritual and priestly maturity that the faithful need and have a right to expect from their pastors.
Despite the increase in vocations in recent times, the scarcity of priests in your particular Churches is rightly one of your main concerns. Therefore, the commitment to inspiring vocations among youth should be a primary goal of your pastoral programmes and must involve all the diocesan and parish communities. In this regard, I urge you to encourage private and community prayer which, in addition to being an order of the Lord (cf. Mt 9,38), is necessary so as to discover and nurture a generous response to their vocation. I cannot fail to recognize the great work of evangelization that the religious communities carry out, enriching your Dioceses with the presence of specific charisms and whose collaboration you must continue to promote in a spirit of true ecclesial communion.
I would also like to point out the important role that the lay Catholics of Honduras are taking on in parishes as catechists and delegates of the Word. One important aspect of the pastoral ministry consists in working tirelessly to make the faithful increasingly aware that, by virtue of their Baptism and confirmation, they are called to live the fullness of charity by taking part in the Church's saving mission (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 33). By their witness to Christian life, they can bring to every social class the light of Christ's message, attracting to the ecclesial community those whose faith has faltered or who are distant from it. Therefore, the lay faithful need to intensify their relationship with God and to acquire a sound formation, especially with regard to the Church's social teaching. In this way, like the leaven in the dough, they will be able to carry out their mission to transform society according to God's wishes (cf. ibid., n. 31).
Likewise, a context that requires special pastoral attention is that of marriage and the family, whose solidity and stability so greatly benefit both the Church and society. In this respect, it is right to recognize the important step taken to include in your Country's Constitution an explicit recognition of marriage. Yet, you know well that possessing a good legislation does not suffice without the cultural work and catechesis required to illuminate the truth and beauty of marriage, a true perpetual covenant of life and love between a man and a woman.
Like the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of the sacraments, the service of charity is an essential part of the Church's mission (cf. Deus Caritas Est ). Hence Bishops, as successors of the Apostles, should be primarily responsible for this service of charity in the particular Churches (cf. ibid., n. 32). I know well your concern for the poverty in which so many of your compatriots live, as well as the increase in violence, emigration, the destruction of the environment, corruption and the gaps in education, among other serious problems. As ministers of the Good Shepherd you have carried out, with words and actions, an intense work of assistance for the needy. I warmly urge you to reveal God's merciful face in your ministry, strengthening in all your diocesan and parish communities a widespread and far-reaching service of charity, which reaches in particular the sick, the elderly and prisoners.
Dear brothers, I reaffirm to you my affection and my gratitude for all your dedication and pastoral solicitude. At the same time, I ask you to convey to your priests, religious, seminarians and lay faithful, the Pope's greeting and appreciation.
I entrust to the Immaculate Virgin of Suyapa you, your intentions and your pastoral proposals so that you may bring back to all the children of Honduras the hope that never disappoints, Jesus Christ, the one Saviour of the human race. With these hopes, I accompany you with my prayers and my Apostolic Blessing.
My dear Brother Bishops,
Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth (cf. Ps 104,30). With these words I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to you. I thank His Eminence Cardinal Zen for the kind words of filial devotion which he expressed on your behalf. Please be assured of my personal affection and my prayers for you and for all who have been entrusted to your pastoral care. I am thinking at this moment of the priests, the religious men and women and all the lay faithful of your two diocesan communities. This Ad Limina Apostolorum visit is an occasion to renew your commitment to make Jesus ever more visible in the Church and better known in society by bearing witness to his love and the truth of his Gospel.
As I wrote in my letter of 27 May 2007 to the Catholic Church in China, referring to the invitation Duc in altum (cf. Lc 5,4) which Jesus offered to Peter, to his brother Andrew and to the first disciples, “these words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (He 13,8)” (cf. No. 3). Your two particular Churches are also called to be witnesses to Christ, to look forward in hope and to announce the Gospel facing up to the new challenges that the people of Hong Kong and Macao must embrace.
The Lord has given every man and woman the right to hear the proclamation that Jesus Christ “loved me and gave himself for me” (Ga 2,20). Corresponding to this right is the duty to evangelize: “For I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1Co 9,16 cf Rm 10,14). All of the Church’s activities are oriented towards evangelization and may not be separated from the commitment to assist everyone to encounter Christ in faith, which is the primary aim of evangelization: “Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable. When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little” (Benedict XVI Homily during Holy Mass at Munich’s Neue Messe Esplanade [10 September 2006] AAS 98  710).
The Church’s mission is taking place today in the context of globalization. I observed recently that the forces generated by globalization hold humanity suspended between two poles. On the one hand are the many social and cultural bonds which tend to promote attitudes of world-wide solidarity and shared responsibility for the good of mankind. On the other hand, there are worrying signs of fragmentation and individualism dominated by secularism which pushes the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipses the very source of harmony and unity of the universe. The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon draw attention to the need for a solid formation and call for concentrated efforts aimed at supporting the spiritual and moral ethos of your people.
I am aware that in both Dioceses, just as in the rest of the Church, an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy is needed. Hence the invitation extended to you as Bishops who are responsible for your ecclesial communities, to give special attention to young priests confronted with new pastoral challenges arising from the task of evangelizing a society as complex as today’s. Ongoing formation of the clergy “is an intrinsic requirement of the gift and sacramental ministry received; and it proves necessary in every age. It is particularly urgent today, not only because of rapid changes in the social and cultural conditions of individuals and peoples among whom the priestly ministry is exercised, but also because of that ‘new evangelization’ which constitutes the essential and pressing task of the Church at the end of the Second Millennium” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis [25 March 1992], 70: AAS  78). Your pastoral solicitude should embrace especially all consecrated men and women, called to render visible in the Church and in the world, the characteristic traits of Jesus, chaste, poor and obedient.
Dear Brothers, as you know, Catholic schools offer an important contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and moral formation of the new generations. This crucial aspect of personal growth is what motivates Catholic parents, and those from other religious traditions, to seek out Catholic schools. In this regard I wish to send greetings to all the men and women who offer generous service to the Catholic schools of both Dioceses. They are called to be “witnesses of Christ, epiphany of the love of God in the world” and to posses “the courage of witnessing and the patience of dialogue” serving “human dignity, the harmony of creation, the existence of peoples and peace” (Consecrated Persons and their mission in schools, 1-2). It is therefore of great importance to be close to students and to their families, to watch over the formation of the young in the light of Gospel teaching and to follow closely the spiritual needs of all who form part of the school community. The Catholic schools of your two dioceses have given significant impulse to the social development and cultural growth of your people. Today these educational centres face new difficulties; be assured that I am with you, and I encourage you to ensure that this important service will never fall by the wayside.
In your mission as Pastors, draw confidence from the Paraclete who defends, counsels and protects (cf. Jn 14,16)! Encourage the faithful to welcome all to which the Spirit gives birth! I have recalled on different occasions that ecclesial movements and new communities are a “luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and of the Church his Bride” (cf. Message to the Participants in the Congress of 22 May 2006). Addressing them as my “dear friends of the movements”, I encouraged them to act so that they would always be “schools of communion, journeying together and learning the truth and the love that Jesus has revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the Apostles, in the great family of his disciples” (ibid.). I exhort you to support the movements with great love because they are one of the most important new realities fostered by the Spirit in the Church in order to put into practice the Second Vatican Council (cf. Address to the participants of a Seminar promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity [17 May 2008]). I pray too that the movements themselves will make every effort to harmonize their activities with the pastoral and spiritual programmes of the Dioceses.
I am personally grateful to you for the affection and devotion you have shown to the Holy See in different ways. As I congratulate you on the many achievements of your well organized Diocesan communities, I encourage you to even greater commitment in the search for adequate means of presenting the Christian message of love in a more comprehensible way to the world in which you live. By doing so you will effectively show to all your brothers and sisters the enduring youthfulness and inexhaustible capacity for renewal of the Gospel of Christ, and bear witness to the fact that one can be authentically Catholic and authentically Chinese at the same time.
I also encourage your Dioceses to continue your contribution to the life of the Church in mainland China, both by offering personnel for formation purposes and by supporting initiatives in the field of human promotion and assistance. In this regard I cannot but recognize the invaluable service which the charitable organization Caritas of both Dioceses has offered to the needy with such generosity and professionalism. We must never forget however that Christ is also for China a Teacher, Pastor and loving Redeemer. The Church must never allow this good news to remain unspoken.
I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your Brother Bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church. I willingly avail myself of the occasion to send to the Catholic community of China and to all the people of that vast country the assurance of my prayers and my affection.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am very glad to greet you and to offer my cordial welcome to each one of you. I address it, first of all and especially to you, dear Cardinal Camillo Ruini, whom I wish to thank publicly today at the end of your long service as Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. I have already had an opportunity to express my sentiments to you recently with a letter in which I was able to recall the many aspects of your daily and appreciated ministry, which began in January 1991 when the Servant of God John Paul II called on you to succeed Cardinal Ugo Poletti. I now have the opportunity to renew the expression of my gratitude to you in the presence of the Auxiliary Bishops, the Parish Priest Prefects, the other representatives of the Diocese and the working community of the Vicariate of Rome.
The final years of the past century and the first of the new one were a truly extraordinary period, especially for those, like us, who were destined to live beside an authentic giant of the Church's faith and mission, as was my Venerable Predecessor. He guided the People of God towards the historic goal of the Year 2000 and, through the Great Jubilee, ushered it into the third millennium of the Christian era. Working closely with him, we were "swept away" by his exceptional spiritual strength, rooted in prayer, in profound union with the Lord Jesus Christ and in filial intimacy with his Most Holy Mother. The missionary charism of Pope John Paul II rightly had a crucial influence on the period of his Pontificate, particularly during the preparation for the Jubilee of the Year 2000; and it was possible to see this directly in the Diocese of Rome, the Pope's Diocese, thanks to the constant commitment of the Cardinal Vicar and his collaborators. As an example of this I limit myself to recalling the City Mission of Rome and the so-called "Dialogues in the Cathedral", an expression of a Church which, at the very moment in which it was becoming more aware of its diocesan identity and gradually acquiring its features, resolutely opened itself to a missionary mindset and a style coherent with it, a mindset and style that were destined to last not only for a season but rather, as has often been said, to become permanent. Venerable Brother, this is a particularly important aspect for which I wish to give you merit, especially since you not only promoted and nurtured it here in Rome but, in your capacity as President of the Bishops' Conference, also throughout the Italian Nation.
Your concern for the mission was always accompanied and sustained by an excellent capacity for theological and philosophical reflection, which you have expressed and exercised since the years of your youth. The apostolate, especially in our time, must be constantly nourished with thought if it is to motivate the meaning of gestures and actions; otherwise it is destined to be reduced to sterile activism. And you, Your Eminence, made an important contribution in this respect, placing your well known gifts of intelligence and wisdom at the service of the Holy Father, the Holy See and the entire Church. I myself witnessed this in my previous office and especially in these recent years in which I have been able to avail myself of your closeness in serving the Church in Italy and particularly in Rome. In this regard, I am pleased to recall our collaboration on the themes of the Diocesan Ecclesial Conventions, which aim at responding to the main pastoral needs, taking the social and cultural contexts of the City into account. We all know that the "cultural project" is a particular initiative of the Italian Church which is due to the zeal and farsightedness of Cardinal Ruini, but the expression, "cultural project", more generally and radically, recalls the Church's way of being present in society, that is, the desire of the Christian Community - in response to the mission of her Lord - to be present in the midst of humanity and history with a human, family, and social relations project inspired by the Word of God and declined in dialogue with the today's culture.
Dear Cardinal, in this you have set an example that continues beyond initiatives of the moment as an example of your commitment to "thinking faith" in absolute fidelity to the Church's Magisterium, with regular attention to the teachings of the Bishop of Rome and, at the same time, listening constantly to the questions that emerge from the contemporary culture and from the problems of society today.
As I express my gratitude to Cardinal Camillo Ruini, I am delighted to inform you that I have appointed Cardinal Agostino Vallini, until now Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura to replace him as Vicar General for the Diocese of Rome. I greet him with deep affection and I welcome him to his new office, which I entrust to him aware of his pastoral experience, which he first developed as Auxiliary of the great Diocese of Naples and later as Bishop of Albano; with this experience he combines tested gifts of wisdom and affability. In this context I have appointed him Archpriest of the Basilica of St John Lateran and Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University. Your Eminence, from today my prayers for you will be particularly intense so that the Lord may grant you all the graces you need for this new task. I encourage you to express your pastoral zeal to the full and I wish you a serene and fruitful ministry in which - I am certain - you will be able to avail yourself of the constant and generous collaboration of the Auxiliary Bishops and of all the priests, religious and lay people who work in the Vicariate of Rome. Indeed, I make the most of this happy occasion, dear brothers and sisters, to express to all of you who work in the central offices of the Diocese my deep gratitude and encouragement to do your best for the good of the Church in Rome.
Dear Cardinals, may God fill you with an abundance of his gifts. May he reward the one who is leaving and sustain the one who is replacing him. May he multiply in everyone thanksgiving for his infinite goodness and may he always grant to all the joy of serving Christ by working humbly for his Church. May the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, watch over us and guide us from Heaven. As I invoke her intercession, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing on all of you present here and on the entire City of Rome.
With profound and sincere joy I greet you and the distinguished entourage that has accompanied you and I am pleased to do so with the words taken from the Second Letter of St Peter: "To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ. May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (1: 1-2). The celebration of Sts Peter and Paul, Patrons of the Church of Rome as that of St Andrew Patron of the Church of Constantinople, annually offers us the possibility of an exchange of Visits, which are always important opportunities for brotherly conversations and common moments of prayer. Thus our mutual personal knowledge grows: projects are harmonized and hope increases, which enlivens us all, that we may soon achieve full unity, in obedience to the Lord's mandate.
This year, here in Rome, in addition to the patronal Feast, is the happy circumstance of the inauguration of the Pauline Year which I have desired to institute in order to commemorate the second millennium of St Paul's birth, with the intention of promoting an ever deeper reflection on the theological and spiritual inheritance bequeathed to the Church by the Apostle to the Gentiles with his vast and profound work of evangelization. I learned with pleasure that you too, Your Holiness, have instituted a Pauline Year. This felicitous circumstance highlights the roots of our common Christian vocation and the meaningful harmony, which we are living, of sentiments and pastoral commitments. For this I give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ who is guiding our steps towards unity with the power of his Spirit.
St Paul reminds us that full communion among all Christians is founded on "one Lord, one faith, one Baptism" (Ep 4,5). May our common faith, the one Baptism for the forgiveness of sins and obedience to the one Lord and Saviour, therefore, be fully expressed in the community and ecclesial dimensions as soon as possible. "One body and one Spirit", the Apostle to the Gentiles says, and he adds: "just as you were called to the one hope" (Ep 4,4). St Paul also points out to us a reliable way to preserve unity, and in the case of division, to restore it. The Decree on Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council took Paul's suggestion and represented it in the context of ecumenical commitment, referring to the rich and ever timely words of the Letter to the Ephesians: "I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all lowliness and meekness, with patience, forbearing one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace" (4: 1-3).
St Paul was not afraid to address a strong appeal to the Christians of Corinth among whom disputes had arisen, so that they might be unanimous in their speech, that the dissensions among them disappear and that they foster perfect union of thought and intention (cf. 1Co 1,10). In our world, in which the phenomenon of globalization is being consolidated but where divisions and conflicts continue to persist, men and women feel increasingly the need for certainties and peace. At the same time, however, they are bewildered and, as it were, enticed by a certain hedonistic and relativistic culture which casts doubt even on the existence of the truth. In this regard, the Apostle's instructions are particularly favourable for encouraging the efforts to seek full unity among all Christians, so necessary to offer the people of the third millennium an ever more luminous witness of Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life. Only in Christ and in his Gospel can humanity find a response to its deepest expectations.
May the Pauline Year, which will solemnly begin this evening, help the Christian people to renew their ecumenical commitment and may our common initiatives on the way towards communion among all Christ's disciples be intensified. Your presence here today is certainly an encouraging sign of this process. For this reason I once again express my joy to you all, while together we raise our grateful prayer to the Lord.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After yesterday's solemn celebration during which I had the joy of conferring the pallium on the Metropolitan Archbishops appointed during the past year, today's meeting offers me the pleasant opportunity of renewing to all of you my cordial greeting and of prolonging the atmosphere of communion - hierarchical and at the same time family - that we have experienced on this particular occasion. The image of the organic body Paul applied to the Church is one of the strong and characteristic elements his doctrine. Therefore, in this Jubilee Year dedicated to him, I wish to entrust each one of you, dear Archbishops, to his heavenly protection. May the Apostle to the Gentiles help you to make the communities entrusted to you grow, united and missionary, harmonious and coordinated in pastoral activity, enlivened by constant apostolic dynamism.
I would now like to address a cordial greeting to each one of you, dear Metropolitan Archbishops, as well as to your relatives and the figures who have desired to grace this meeting with their presence, as I extend my thoughts and prayers to your particular Churches. I am pleased to be able to begin with the Holy Land and to greet Archbishop Fouad Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem for Latins, and those who accompany him. I greet with affection Archbishop Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, Archbishop Paolo Benotto and Archbishop Francesco Montenegro, Metropolitans respectively of Campobasso-Boiano, Pisa and Agrigento. May the Lord always bless you and guide you in your daily pastoral ministry!
I greet with joy the pilgrims who have come from Niger, from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, from Haiti and from France. You have accompanied the new Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I am glad to have conferred the pallium, a sign of close communion with the Apostolic See. I extend my special greetings to Archbishop Michel Christian Cartatéguy of Niamey, Niger, to Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Archbishop Louis Kébreau of Cap Haïtien, Haiti, to Archbishop Serge Miot of Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and to Archbishop Laurent Ulrich of Lille, France. Please pass on my greetings to your priests and to all the faithful of your dioceses. Assure them of my fervent prayers. The pallium symbolizes the deep union of their Pastor with the Successor of Peter, as well as the Archbishop's pastoral concern for his people. May the faithful adhere more strongly to Christ in this communion of charity, to bear witness to it with courage and truth.
Your Excellencies, dear friends in Christ, I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I conferred the pallium yesterday: Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi, Kenya; Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore, U.S.A.; Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax, Canada; Archbishop Martin Currie of Saint John's, Newfoundland, Canada; Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei, Taiwan; Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna, Nigeria; Archbishop Richard Anthony Burke of Benin City, Nigeria; Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries, Saint Lucia; Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea; Archbishop Thomas Kwaku Mensah, of Kumasi, Ghana; Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile, U.S.A.; Archbishop Donald Reese of Kingston in Jamaica, Jamaica; Archbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri, Kenya; Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, U.S.A., and Archbishop John Lee Hiong Fun-Yit Yaw of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia.
I also welcome the family members and friends of the new Metropolitans, and the faithful from their Archdioceses who have accompanied them to Rome. The pallium is worn by Metropolitan Archbishops as a symbol of their hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter in the governance of God's People. It is made of sheepswool, as a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world and the Good Shepherd who keeps vigilant watch over his flock. The pallium reminds Bishops that, as vicars of Christ in their local Churches, they are called to be shepherds after the example of Jesus. As a symbol of the burden of the episcopal office, it also reminds the faithful of their duty to support the Church's Pastors by their prayers and to cooperate generously with them for the spread of the Gospel and the growth of Christ's Church in holiness, unity and love. Dear friends: may your pilgrimage to the tombs of Sts Peter and Paul confirm you in the Catholic faith which comes from the Apostles. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.
I address a joyful "Grüß Gott" to all of you who have come here from my Diocese of Munich and Freising to accompany the new Pastor, Archbishop Reinhard Marx, to Rome for the conferral of the pallium. I also warmly greet the guests of Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eijk of Utrecht. Yesterday I conferred upon your Pastors the pallium which indicates to us the Good Shepherd who carries the lost sheep on his shoulders and lays down his life for his sheep. The Lord called the Apostles to follow him in love. Three times the Risen Christ asked Peter if he loved him and three times he repeated to him his task of tending the Lord's sheep. Thus, today too, Pastors must be pervaded by the desire to guarantee unity with the Lord and with his flock. May you support your Archbishops in their service, in harmony and with prayer. May the true God be with you with his grace!
I address with affection the Spanish-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops: Archbishop Pérez González of Pamplona y Tudela, Archbishop Lorenzo Voltolini Esti of Portoviejo, Archbishop Andrés Stanovnik of Corrientes, Archbishop Óscar Urbina Ortega of Villavicencio, Archbishop Antonio José López Castillo of Barquisimeto, who came to Rome for the solemn ceremony for the conferral of the pallium, accompanied by relatives, friends and representatives of their respective particular Churches. Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, may the pallium, a liturgical adornment of venerable tradition woven of white wool always remind you of Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd, and, at the same time, of the Lamb sacrificed for our salvation. Faithful to your ministry, seek at all times to foster communion among the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province over which you preside, and with the Bishop of Rome. I encourage all those who have wished to accompany you on this beautiful occasion never to forget you in their prayers, so that you may continue to guide the flock that has been entrusted to your pastoral care with ardent charity, so that Christ, for whom the holy Apostles Peter and Paul shed their blood may be ever better known, loved and imitated. I ask the Virgin Mary who is invoked with such great fervour in your countries - Spain, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, to protect and support with her motherly love your suffragan Bishops, your priests, your religious communities and your diocesan faithful. With these sentiments, I cordially impart to you the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant heavenly favours.
I greet with fraternal esteem the Portuguese-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops who received the pallium yesterday: Archbishop Mauro Aparecido dos Santos of Cascavel; Archbishop Luís Gonzaga Silva Pepeu of Vitória da Conquista; and Archbishop José Francisco Sanches Alves of Évora. Esteemed Brothers, may you always care for the flock of Christ entrusted to you, seeking to reinforce increasingly your bonds of communion with the Successor of Peter and among your suffragan dioceses. And you, dear friends who have accompanied them, continue to follow their teachings with docility, cooperating with them generously for the realization of the Kingdom of God.
As I invoke the protection of the Virgin Mother of God, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you present here and to your archdiocesan communities.
I greet the Polish pilgrims. In a special way I greet the new Metropolitan of Gdansk, Archbishop Leszek Slawoj Glódz, who received the pallium yesterday, the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. I greet all those who have accompanied him on this solemn occasion, particularly his loved ones and the faithful of the Metropolis of Gdansk. I hope that the Pauline Year that has just begun will strengthen your faith and your bond with the Church and with her Pastors. In my prayers, Your Excellency, I entrust your pastoral service to God. I cordially bless all the pilgrims present here. Jesus Christ be praised!
I greet with affection Archbishop Paolo Pezzi of Mother of God in Moscow. I thank the Authorities present and assure them of my special prayers.
I address my cordial greeting to Archbishop Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz of Minsk-Mohilev and to all who have come with him and my best wishes for his ministry.
I cordially greet the pilgrims who have come from Slovakia to accompany the new Metropolitan Archbishops: Archbishop Stanislav of Bratislava and Archbishop Ján of Presov. Brothers and sisters, the pallium that these Prelates received yesterday is a sign of union with the Bishop of Rome. I bless you and your families with affection. Praised be Jesus Christ!
I address a cordial greeting to Archbishop Marin Srakic, the new Metropolitan Archbishop of Djakovo-Osijek, his relatives and his guests who have come to Rome from the ever faithful Croatia. The pallium is a sign of the special bond of Pastors of the Church with the Successor of Peter. While I express the hope that the Lord will guide and protect you, venerable Brother, and the community of the faithful of beloved Slavonia, I impart a special Blessing to everyone. Praised be Jesus and Mary!
Dear friends, let us thank God who does not cease to guarantee Pastors to his Church, to lead her firmly on the earthly pilgrimage. Let us always remember that for every Pastor the condition of his service is love for Christ, which must always come first. "Simon, son of John, do you love me?". May Jesus' question to Peter always resound in our hearts, dear Brothers, and prompt our response, new and heartfelt every time: "Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you". It is from this love for Christ that derives the mission: "tend my sheep" (Jn 21,16), a mission which is summed up first of all in witnessing to him, the Teacher and Lord: "Follow me" (Jn 21,19). May this be our joy while it is certainly our cross: sweet and light, because it is a cross of love. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope always watch over and support you and may you be accompanied by my Apostolic Blessing which I cordially renew to each one of you, to your loved ones and to all those who are entrusted to your ministry.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
At this collective meeting during your visit ad limina Apostolorum, I rejoice to share the same faith in Jesus Christ which accompanies our journey and is alive and present in the communities entrusted to your pastoral care. I address my affectionate greeting to you as well as to the diocesan Churches over which you preside with such great dedication and generosity.
I am grateful to Archbishop Ramón Benito de la Rosa y Carpio of Santiago de los Caballeros, President of the Dominican Bishops' Conference, for his kind words on behalf of all. At the same time, I feel I closely share in your anxieties and aspirations. I ask God to grant that this visit to Rome may be a source of blessings for all the priests, religious communities and pastoral workers who collaborate with you amid the beloved Dominican People, aware of the challenges of the globalized world which are to be reckoned with today.
In your quinquennial reports, I noted that your Church is a community that is alive, dynamic, participatory and missionary; it feels challenged by Jesus' mandate to proclaim the Gospel to the whole creation (cf. Mc 16,15) and strives to ensure that this proclamation reaches everyone.
To achieve this goal, the message must be clear and precise so that the words of life proclaimed may be converted into personal attachment to Jesus, our Saviour.
Thus, "it is urgent to rediscover and to set forth once more the authentic reality of the Christian faith, which is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with an intellectual assent. Rather, faith is a lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments and a truth to be lived out" (Veritatis Splendor VS 88).
The priority of your pastoral ministry must be to ensure that the truth about Christ and the truth about man penetrate more deeply the different strata of Dominican society, since "[t]here is no true evangelization if the name, the teaching, the life, the promises, the kingdom and the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God, are not proclaimed" (Evangelii Nuntiandi EN 22).
This work, which is not exempt from difficulties, develops among a people whose spirit is open and sensitive to the Good News.
There is no doubt that the symptoms of a process of secularization are also making themselves felt in your Country in which for many people God does not represent the origin and destination of life nor its ultimate meaning. Yet, basically, as you well know, this people has a profoundly Christian soul, demonstrated by the lively and active Ecclesial Communities in which so many people, families and groups are doing their best to live and witness to their faith.
The family is also a priority objective of the new evangelization. It is the true "domestic Church", especially when it is the fruit of lively Christian communities which produce young people who have a true vocation to the Sacrament of Marriage.
Families are not alone in having to face great challenges; the Ecclesial Community supports them, enlivens their faith and ensures their perseverance in a Christian project of life that is all too often subject to so many ups and downs and dangers.
The Church desires that the family truly be the place where the person is born, matures and is educated for life, and where parents, by loving their children tenderly, prepare them for healthy interpersonal relationships which embody moral and human values in the midst of a society so heavily marked by hedonism and religious indifference.
At the same time, in collaboration with the public institutions, Ecclesial Communities will be on the alert to safeguard the stability of families and to encourage their spiritual and material progress. This will lead to an improvement in the upbringing of children.
For this reason, it is to be hoped that the Authorities of your beloved Country collaborate increasingly in this indispensable task of working for families.
In this regard, my Predecessor stressed in his Message for the World Day of Peace in 1994: "The family has a right to the full support of the State in order to carry out fully its particular mission" (n. 5).
I am not unaware of the problems which the family institution encounters in your Nation, especially with the drama of divorce and the pressures to legalize abortion, in addition to the spread of unions that do not comply with the Creator's plan for marriage.
I know that you take special care of priestly vocations in order to meet all the needs of your Dioceses. Indeed, the promotion of priestly and religious vocations must be a priority for the Bishops and a commitment of all the faithful.
I therefore fervently implore the Lord of the harvest that he will continue to give to your seminaries - which must be seen as the very heart of the Diocese (cf. Optatam Totius OT 5) - numerous candidates to the priesthood who will one day serve their brethren as "servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God" (1Co 4,1).
In addition to an integral formation, a profound discernment is necessary on the human and Christian suitability of seminarians in order to ensure as well as possible that their future ministry will be exercised with dignity.
Taking into account that "the presbyterate thus appears as a true family" (Pastores Dabo Vobis, PDV 74), it is desirable that the bonds of charity between the Bishop and his priests be very strong and cordial. If young men see that priests live a true spirituality of communion around their Bishop, witnessing to union and charity among themselves, to Gospel charity and missionary availability, they themselves will feel more attracted to the priestly vocation.
It is of paramount importance that Bishops pay special attention to their principal collaborators, the priests (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis PO 8), that they be impartial in their dealings with them, closely acquainted with their personal and pastoral needs, fatherly to them in their difficulties and that they give constant encouragement to their priests' work and endeavours and, in the context of the new evangelization, that they reach out to those who have distanced themselves.
The theme this year of the Third Pastoral Plan: "Disciple of the Lord, welcome those who are close and seek out those who are distant", has a vast application in the complex context of migration which involves so many families.
Devote much effort to reach groups of your compatriots who are abroad, but I also warmly ask you to accompany with great love the Haitian immigrants who have left their Country in search of better living conditions for themselves and their families, as you are already doing.
I am pleased to observe that you have already been in contact with your brother Bishops of Haiti in the endeavour to alleviate the situation of poverty and wretchedness which is an offence to the dignity of so many people in this Sister Nation.
In your episcopal ministry many pastoral challenges are closely related to the evangelization of culture which must promote human and evangelical values in their full integrity.
The field of culture is one of "the modern equivalents of the Areopagus", in which the Gospel must be made present with its full impact (cf. Redemptoris Missio RMi 37). It is impossible to do this task without the social communications media: radio, television broadcasts, videos and computer networks can be most useful for spreading the Gospel far and wide.
This task particularly involves lay people, since it is part of their distinctive task to "take on themselves this renewal of the temporal order. Guided by the light of the Gospel and the mind of the Church, prompted by Christian love, they should act in this domain in a direct way and in their own specific manner" (Apostolicam Actuositatem AA 7).
It is therefore necessary to give them an appropriate religious formation which makes them capable of facing the numerous challenges of contemporary society. It is up to them to promote the human and Christian values which illumine the political, economic and cultural reality of the Country, in order to establish a fair and more equitable social order in accordance with the Church's social doctrine.
At the same time, consistent with ethical and moral norms, they must set an example of honesty and transparency in the management of public activities, in the face of the sly and widespread blight of corruption which at times also creeps into the areas of political and economic power, as well as into other public and social milieus.
Lay people must be the leaven in society, acting in public life to illumine with Gospel values the various areas in which a people's identity is forged. With their daily activities, they must "testify how the Christian faith constitutes the only fully valid response... to the problems and hopes that life poses to every person and society" (Christifideles Laici CL 34).
Their condition as citizens and followers of Christ must not induce them to lead "two parallel lives in their existence: on the one hand, the so-called "spiritual' life with its values and demands; and on the other, the so-called "secular' life, that is, life in a family, at work, in social relationships, in the responsibilities of public life and in culture" (ibid., n. 59).
On the contrary, there must be an effort to make consistency in life and in faith an eloquent testimony of the truth of the Christian message.
Together with you, I would like to entrust all these suggestions and desires to the Virgin of Altagracia, the title with which you honour your Mother and Patroness of the Nation, so that she will continue to accompany your pastoral work.
I entrust you to her with full hope as I impart to you my Apostolic Blessing, which I cordially extend to your particular Churches, your priests, religious communities and consecrated persons as well as to the Catholic faithful of the Dominican Republic.
Speeches 2005-13 15068