Speeches 2005-13 177




Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls Monday, 13 October 2008

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate
and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The concert this evening is one of the various initiatives planned for the special Jubilee of the Pauline Year. It is taking place in the evocative setting of the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls where several days ago the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was solemnly inaugurated. I naturally extend my greeting and cordial thanks to all those who have promoted and organized this beautiful evening with a high quality musical performance. In the first place, I wish to thank the Pro Musica e Arte Sacra Foundation, well known for its numerous initiatives. I then greet and thank the members of the Wiener Philarmoniker Orchestra, which has offered us a masterful performance of Anton Bruckner's Sixth Symphony, steeped in a religious sense and profound mysticism.

With joy and full of gratitude I greet the Wiener Philarmoniker, conducted today by Christoph Eschenbach, which for the seventh time in the context of the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art has imbued its audience with deep joy. Dear friends, with your professionalism and your musical ability you always succeed in moving the hearts of your listeners and in offering them Bruckner's marvellous music, you have plucked all the heartstrings of human feeling. With your musical talent you raise society from the human to the divine sphere. For this, I say to you all a heartfelt "Vergelt's Gott!".

The Sixth Symphony expresses the faith of its composer who, with his compositions was able to transmit a religious vision of life and of history. We might say that Anton Bruckner, drawing from the Austrian Baroque and from the Schubertian tradition of popular song, took to its extreme conclusion the romantic process of interiorization. In listening to this famous composition in the Basilica dedicated to St Paul one spontaneously thinks of a passage from the First Letter to the Corinthians in which the Apostle, after speaking of the diversity and unity of spiritual gifts compares the Church to the human body, made up of very different members but all indispensable for its good functioning (cf. 1Co 12). The orchestra and the choir are also comprised of different instruments and voices, which in tune with one another offer a harmonious melody, pleasing to the ear and the spirit. Dear brothers and sisters, let us take note of this teaching which we see confirmed in the splendid musical performance we had the pleasure of hearing. I greet you all with affection, as I address a special thought to the Synod Fathers and to the other important people present. Lastly, I extend a fraternal greeting to Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Archpriest of this Papal Basilica, who has once again offered us such a cordial welcome. I would like to thank him, together with his collaborators, for the various religious and cultural events planned for the Pauline Year underway. May this Roman Basilica where the mortal remains of the Apostle to the Gentiles are preserved truly be a fulcrum of liturgical, spiritual and cultural initiatives which aim at rediscovering his missionary work and his theological thought. As I invoke the intercession of this eminent Saint and the motherly protection of Mary Queen of Apostles I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing to everyone present and gladly extend it to their loved ones.


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Working on my book on Jesus has provided ample occasion to see what good can come from modern exegesis, but also for recognizing the problems and risks. Dei Verbum, n. 12 offers two methodological guidelines for suitable exegetical work. Firstly, it confirms the necessity of using the historical-critical method, of which it briefly describes the essential elements. This necessity is the result of the Christian principle formulated in Jn 1: 14, "Verbum caro factum est". Historical fact is a constituent dimension of the Christian faith. The history of salvation is not mythology but rather true history, and is therefore to be studied alongside serious historical research methods.

Nevertheless, this history has another dimension, that of divine action. Dei Verbum, consequentially, speaks of a second methodological level necessary for the correct interpretation of the words that are simultaneously human words and the divine Word. The Council says, according to a fundamental rule of interpretation for literary text, that Scripture is to be interpreted in the same spirit in which it was written. There are therefore three fundamental methodological elements that contribute to taking proper account of the divine, pneumatological dimension of the Bible. One must 1) interpret the text taking into consideration the unity of all of Scripture. Today this is called canonical exegesis; at the time of the Council this term did not yet exist, but the Council expressed the same thing: it is necessary to take into account the unity of the entirety of Scripture; 2) one must also take into account the living tradition of the entire Church; and finally 3) it is necessary to observe the analogy of faith. Only where the two methodological levels, both historical-critical and theological, are observed can one speak of theological exegesis of an exegesis adequate to this Book. While at the first level, academic exegetical work is currently being done to an extremely high standard and provides us real help, the same cannot be said of the other level. Often this second level, the level consisting of the three theological elements mentioned in Dei Verbum, appear almost absent. And this has rather grave consequences.

The first consequence of the absence of this second methodological level is that the Bible becomes solely a history book. Moral consequences can be drawn from it, history can be learned from it, but the Book as such speaks of history alone and exegesis is no longer truly theological but instead becomes purely historiographical, literary history. This is the first consequence: the Bible remains in the past, speaks only of the past. The second consequence is even graver: where the hermeneutics of faith explained in Dei Verbum disappear, another type of hermeneutics will appear by necessity a hermeneutics that is secularist, positivist, the key fundamental of which is the conviction that the Divine does not appear in human history. According to this hermeneutics, when there seems to be a divine element, the source of that impression must be explained, thus reducing everything to the human element. As a result, it is the grounds for interpretations that deny the historicity of divine elements. Today the exegetical "mainstream" in Germany, for example, denies that the Lord instituted the Holy Eucharist and says that Jesus' corpse remained in the tomb. The Resurrection in this view would not have been a historical event but a theological view. This happens because the hermeneutics of faith is missing: profane philosophical hermeneutics is affirmed instead, which deny the possibility of the entrance and presence of the Divine in history. The result of the absence of the second methodological level is what has created a profound fissure between scientific exegesis and Lectio divina. From precisely this point there sometimes also arises a sort of perplexity in regard to the preparation of homilies. When exegesis is not theological, Scripture cannot be the soul of theology, and vice versa; when theology is not essentially Scriptural interpretation within the Church, then this theology no longer has a foundation.

Therefore for the life and mission of the Church, for the future of faith, it is absolutely necessary to overcome this dualism between exegesis and theology. Biblical theology and systematic theology are two dimensions of one reality, which we call theology. Thus it seems desirable to me that one of the propositions treats of the necessity of keeping in mind within exegesis the two methodological levels mentioned in Dei Verbum, n. 12, where it speaks of the need to develop not only a historical but also a theological exegesis. It will therefore be crucial to expand formation of future exegetes in this sense, so as to truly open the treasures of Scripture to today's world and to all of us.

TO THE BISHOPS OF ECUADOR ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT Consistory Hall Thursday, 16 October 2008

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I receive you with great joy on your ad limina visit which I have looked forward to with such pleasure, and which gives me the opportunity to put into practice the mandate that the Lord entrusted to the Apostle Peter to strengthen his brethren in the faith (cf. Lc 22,32). May I first of all express to you my deep sorrow at the death of Cardinal Antonio José González Zumárraga, Archbishop emeritus of Quito, who served the Church to the end of his days with such great self-denial and fidelity. I ask the Lord to grant him eternal repose and to increase the fruitful work carried out by this most exemplary Pastor.

I am grateful for the kind words of Archbishop Antonio Arregui Yarza of Guayaquil, President of the Bishops' Conference, expressing your sentiments of affection and communion as well as the principal desires that inspire your mission as successors of the Apostles. Motivated by concern as Pastor of the universal Church, I feel very close to you in your anxieties and encourage you to persevere with hope in your generous work at the service of the diocesan communities entrusted to our care.

I note with pleasure that one of the pastoral initiatives that you consider most urgently necessary for the Church in Ecuador is the realization of the "great mission", convoked by the Latin American Episcopate in Aparecida (cf. Final Document, n. 362), which was confirmed at the Third American Missionary Congress, celebrated in Quito last August. The call that the Lord Jesus addressed to his disciples, sending them out to preach his message of salvation and to make disciples of all the peoples (cf. Mt 28,16-20) must be a constant cause of meditation and the raison d'ętre of all pastoral action for the entire ecclesial community. Today too, as in all times and places, men and women need a personal encounter with Christ, in which they can experience the beauty of his life and the truth of his message.

To face the numerous challenges of your mission amid a cultural and social environment that seems to forget the deepest spiritual roots of its identity, I ask you to open yourselves with docility to the action of the Holy Spirit so that under the impetus of his divine power the missionary zeal of the first Gospel preaching, as well as of the first proclamation of the Gospel in your regions, may be renewed. This requires that you make a generous effort to spread the Word of God in such a way that no one is left without this indispensable spiritual food, the source of life and light. The reading of and meditation on Sacred Scripture, in private or in the community, will lead to the intensification of Christian life, as well as to a renewed apostolic impulse in all the faithful.

On the other hand, be fully aware that this missionary effort is based in a special way on priests. Full of love and gratitude for your priests, you must accompany them as fathers and brothers with prayer, affection and closeness, assuring them in addition a satisfactory continuing formation that helps them keep their priestly life vibrant. Continue likewise to encourage religious in their witness of consecrated life, which has brought so many fruits of holiness and evangelization to those lands, and encourage them so that faithful to their charism and in full communion with the Pastors they may continue in their self-sacrificing service to the Church.

At the same time, as you face the scarcity of clergy in many parts of your country, you are firmly committed to involving all the groups, movements and people in your dioceses in a broad and generous vocations ministry, sowing in young people a passion for the figure of Jesus and the great ideals of the Gospel. This effort must be accompanied by the greatest possible care in the selection and intellectual, human and spiritual training of seminarians. In this way, faithful to the teachings of the Magisterium and with the clear awareness that they are ministers of Christ the Good Shepherd, they will be able to assume the requirements of their future ministry with joy and responsibility.

At this important stage in her history, the Church in Ecuador needs mature and committed lay people who, with a solid doctrinal formation and a deep inner life, live out their specific vocation to illumine with the light of Christ all the human, social, cultural and political reality (cf. Lumen gentium LG 31).

In this regard, I would like to thank you for the effort you are making, not without great sacrifices, to attract the attention of society to those values that make human life more just and supportive. Although the Church's activity cannot be confused with political action (cf. Deus caritas est ), she must nevertheless make her contribution to the human community overall through reflection and moral judgments on those political issues that especially affect the dignity of the person (cf. Gaudium et spes GS 76). Among these should be pointed out, partly because of its importance for the future of your People, the promotion and stability of the family, founded on the bond of love between a man and a woman, the defence of human life from the moment of its conception to its natural end, and also the responsibility of parents for the moral education of their children, in which the important human and Christian values that forged the identity of your peoples are transmitted.

I also urge you to pay special attention to the charitable action of your Churches in which the merciful love of Christ is made present, especially to people in need, the elderly, children and emigrants, as well as women who have been abandoned or abused.

Dear Brothers, the recent canonization of St Narcisa de Jesus Martillo Morán expresses the spiritual fruitfulness of our communities. May the example and intercession of this young Ecuadorian Saint obtain fresh vitality and great apostolic zeal for all your particular Churches, so that, full of faith and hope, they may throw themselves into the exciting task of sowing the Gospel in the hearts of all the men and women of this blessed land!

At the end of our brotherly meeting, I reaffirm my encouragement to you in your pastoral tasks and ask you to convey the Pope's greeting and closeness to your priests, deacons and seminarians, to the missionaries, to the men and women religious, and to all the lay faithful. Together with these fervent good wishes and invoking the protection of the Virgin Mary, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all with affection.


Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the Congress fittingly organized on the 10th anniversary of the Encyclical Fides et ratio. I first thank Archbishop Rino Fisichella for his cordial words introducing today's meeting. I am glad that the study days of your Congress involve the effective collaboration of the Lateran University, the Pontifical Academy for Sciences and the World Conference of Catholic University Philosophy Institutions. Collaboration of this kind is always desirable, especially when one is called to account for one's faith in the face of ever more complex challenges that confront believers in the contemporary world.

Ten years after its publication, an attentive look at the Encyclical Fides et ratio enables one to perceive admiringly its lasting topicality; it reveals the farsighted depth of my unforgettable Predecessor. In fact, the Encyclical is characterized by its great openness to reason, especially in a period in which its weakness was theorized. John Paul ii, on the other hand, underlines the importance of combining faith and reason in their reciprocal relationship, yet while also respecting the sphere of autonomy of each. With this Magisterium, the Church has voiced an emerging need within the contemporary cultural context. She has chosen to defend the power of reason and its ability to attain the truth, presenting faith once again as a special form of knowledge, thanks to which we are opened to the truth of Revelation (cf. Fides et ratio FR 13). We read in the Encyclical that we must trust in the abilities of human reason and not set ourselves goals that are too modest: "It is faith which stirs reason to move beyond all isolation and willingly to run risks so that it may attain whatever is beautiful, good and true" (n. 56). Moreover, it is in the passing of time that the achievement of reason's goals, motivated by the passion for truth, are manifest. Who could deny the contribution that the great philosophical systems have made to the development of human self-awareness and the progress of various cultures? What is more, these cultures become fruitful when they are opened to the truth, enabling all those who participate in them to reach goals that make social life ever more human. The quest for the truth bears most fruit when it is sustained by love for the truth. Augustine wrote: "What one holds with the mind is held by knowing it, but no good may be known perfectly unless one loves perfectly" (De diversis quaestionibus, 35, 2).

Yet we cannot deny that a shift has occurred from predominantly speculative thought to that which is primarily experimental. Research has above all involved the observation of nature in the attempt to discover its secrets. The desire to know nature then became the desire to reproduce it. This transformation was far from painless; the evolution of concepts damaged the relationship between fides and ratio, resulting in each taking its own separate path. Scientific and technological breakthroughs, which fides is increasingly challenged to face, have modified the age-old concept of ratio; in a certain way they have marginalized the reason that was seeking the ultimate truth of things in order to make room for a reason content with discovering the contingent truths of the laws of nature. Scientific research undoubtedly has its positive value. The discovery of and increase in the mathematical, physical, chemical and applied sciences are the product of reason and express the intelligence with which man succeeds in penetrating the depth of creation. Faith, for its part, does not fear scientific progress and the developments to which scientific achievements lead when they are aimed towards the human being, his well-being and the progress of humanity as a whole. As the anonymous author of the Letter to Diognetus recalled: "The tree of knowledge does not kill, but disobedience kills. For there cannot be life without knowledge any more than there can be sound knowledge without genuine life, and so the two trees were planted close together" (xii, 2, 4).

Nonetheless, it happens that scientists do not always direct their research to these aims. Easy earnings or, even worse, the arrogance of replacing the Creator, at times play a decisive role. This is a form of the hybris of reason, which can acquire characteristics that are dangerous to humanity itself. Science, moreover, is unable to work out ethical principles; it can only accept them and recognize them as necessary to eradicate its potential pathologies. In this context, philosophy and theology become indispensable aids which must be placed alongside science in order to prevent it from proceeding on its own down a twisting path, full of unexpected accidents and not without risks. This does not mean restricting scientific research or preventing technology from producing the means for development; rather, it consists in maintaining vigilance about the sense of responsibility that reason possesses in regards to science, so that it stays on track in its service to the human being.

Augustine's lesson is still meaningful even in today's context: "What does someone who can use reason well attain other than the truth?" the holy Bishop of Hippo asks. "The truth is not obtained by itself with reasoning but it is what those who use reason seek.... It confesses that what the truth is is not you, for it does not seek itself; you, on the other hand, have not attained it by passing from one place to another, but by seeking it with the disposition of your mind" (De vera religione, 39, 72). In other words, wherever the search for the truth comes from, it remains as a given that is both offered and recognizable as already present in nature. The intelligibility of creation, in fact, is not the result of the scientist's effort, but a condition offered to him to enable him to discover the truth that is present within it. "These things are not made by the process of reasoning, but discovered", Augustine continues in his reflection. "Therefore they abide in themselves even before they are discovered, and once they are discovered they renew us" (ibid., 39, 73). In brief, reason must fully run its course, strong in its autonomy and its rich intellectual tradition.

Reason also understands and discovers that, in addition to what it has already attained and achieved, there exists a truth that it will never be able to discover based solely on itself, but only receive as a gift freely given. The truth of Revelation does not superimpose the truth achieved by reason; rather, it purifies and exalts reason, thereby enabling it to broaden its horizons to enter into a field of research as unfathomably expansive as mystery itself. The truth revealed, when "the time had fully come" (Ga 4,4), assumed the Face of a person, Jesus of Nazareth, who brought the ultimate and definitive answer to the question of human meaning. The truth of Christ, since it affects every person in search of joy, happiness and meaning, far exceeds any other truth that reason can discover. It surrounds mystery, so that fides and ratio might find the real possibility of a common path.

The Synod of Bishops on the theme: "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church", is taking place in these days. How can we fail to see the providential coincidence of this event with your Congress? Passion for the truth impels us to re-enter into our interior selves to grasp the profound meaning of our lives. True philosophy must take every person by the hand and bring them to discover how fundamental it is to their dignity to know the truth of Revelation. Before this demand for meaning, which gives no respite until it flows into Jesus Christ, the Word of God reveals his character as a definitive response: one Word of revelation that becomes life and that asks to be welcomed as an inexhaustible source of truth.

As I hope that each one of you will increasingly feel within you this passion for the truth and will do everything in your power to satisfy its demands, I would like to assure you that I am following your commitment with appreciation and pleasure, accompanying your research with my prayers. To confirm these sentiments, I willingly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you who are present here and to your loved ones.


Your Eminences,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

The film we have just seen takes us back in spirit to that late evening of 16 October 1978, 30 years ago, which has remained impressed in the hearts of all. On this day, and at almost the same time, the new Pope addressed the multitude of the faithful thronging St Peter's Square, and said: "If I make a mistake, you will correct me" (First words of Pope John Paul II following his election, 16 October 1978; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, [ORE], 26 October 1978, p. 6). It was the first encounter with the City and with the world of the newly-elected Bishop who came, as he himself said, from a distant country. Cardinal Karol Wojtyla, Archbishop of Krakow, chose the name John Paul ii, thus putting himself in continuity with his Predecessor, Pope Albino Luciani, who had guided the Church for only 33 days.

We could say that John Paul II's Pontificate is contained in two of his expressions. The first: "Do not be afraid! Open wide the doors to Christ!" (Homily inaugurating the Pontificate, 22 October 1978) was vibrant; it made an impression, an impact on public opinion and was to be frequently on his lips in the following years. The Pope spoke his other words, "Let me go to the Father's House", feebly, as he lay on his deathbed, at the end of a long and fruitful earthly pilgrimage. Those who heard his first words were many; his last words were heard only by those close to him, including his faithful secretary, Fr Stanislaw, today Metropolitan Archbishop of Krakow. In his book "A life with Karol", made into a film entitled: "Testimonianza", he recounts his long familiarity with this great Pontiff, first in Krakow and then in Rome, retracing moments of joy and sorrow, of hope and apostolic daring. Revealing unheard of episodes, the film portrays the human simplicity, decisive courage and, finally, the suffering of Pope Wojtyla, which he faced to the very end with the stamina of a mountain man and the patience of a humble servant of the Gospel.

This moving cinematographic narrative comes in addition to the large number of publications on this Pontiff, who marked the history of the Church and the world in the last part of the 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium. Thanks to this film, constituted of both documentary material and narrative reconstructions of historical events, the spectator unacquainted with John Paul II is given a means to take in his spirit and evangelical passion. The film offers us who knew him an opportunity to relive with deep emotion certain moments of his life with original interpretations that assume the book's content and enrich it with new elements. The film also gives us an opportunity to become more familiar with Poland, Pope Wojtyla's homeland, and its cultural and religious traditions; it enables us to retrace well known ecclesial and civil events as well as episodes unknown to most. It is all recounted as we have seen with the affection of one who shared closely in these events, in the shadow of the protagonist.

Then how could I not express special gratitude to those who contributed to the production of this new film? My sincere thanks go first of all to dear Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, to whom I am grateful for this book and for this film. It truly makes us relive those days and see once again our beloved Pope John Paul II who from Heaven is certainly with us at this moment. I thank Pawel Pitera, the director, and the other collaborators it would take too long to list them all who have done a truly masterful job in editing the book and adapting it for the cinema. I also greet with affection all those who are gathered here this evening, starting with the Cardinals, Bishops, priests and men and women religious, then the great number of lay people present here who admired and loved my great Predecessor. At this moment, let us take up in particular his invitation not to be afraid. Following his example, let us too courageously bear our witness to Christ. With this hope, I renew my thanks to all those who produced this film and collaborated in organizing the event this evening. I impart my Blessing to you all.







Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With the celebration of Vespers, we have addressed God using his very words: the Psalms. The meditation on the Word of God is a light that guides our steps. We have had the joy of having with us on this occasion of intense recollection the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, whom I greet warmly also on your behalf. I now invite you to listen to the reflections he will present to us on the subject of the Word of God, the theme of the Synod of Bishops which is being celebrated in the Vatican in these days.
* * *

Your Holiness,

I would like to say a wholehearted "thank you" to you for your words. The applause of the Fathers was far more than an expression of courtesy, it was truly an expression of deep spiritual joy and of a vital experience of our communion. At that moment we truly lived the "synod": we were travelling together in the land of the divine Word under Your Holiness' guidance, and we savoured its beauty with the great joy of being listeners to the Word of God, of being set before this gift of his Word.

What you said was profoundly nourished by the spirit of the Fathers, by the Sacred Liturgy, and for this very reason also strongly contextualized in our time, with a great Christian realism that made us see the challenges. We saw that in going to the heart of Sacred Scripture, truly encountering the Word in words, penetrating God's Word also opens our eyes to our world, to today's reality.

And this was also a joyful experience an experience of unity, perhaps not perfect yet true and profound. I thought: your Fathers, whom you cited extensively, are also our Fathers, and ours are also yours: if we have common Fathers, how is it possible for us not to be brothers? Thank you, Your Holiness. Your words will accompany us in our work this coming week, they will enlighten us and also in the next week and beyond we shall be sharing the journey with you.

Thank you, Your Holiness.



Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear men and women religious,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Before entering the Shrine to recite the Holy Rosary with you, I paused briefly before the tomb of Bl. Bartolo Longo and, praying, I asked myself: "Where did this great apostle of Mary find the energy and perseverance he needed to bring such an impressive work, now known across the world, to completion? Was it not in the Rosary, which he accepted as a true gift from Our Lady's Heart?" Yes, that truly was how it happened! The experience of the Saints bears witness to it: this popular Marian prayer is a precious spiritual means to grow in intimacy with Jesus, and to learn at the school of the Blessed Virgin always to fulfil the divine will. It is contemplation of the mysteries of Christ in spiritual union with Mary as the Servant of God Paul VI stressed in his Apostolic Exhortation Marialis cultus (n. 46) and as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II abundantly illustrated in his Apostolic Letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae that today I once again present in spirit to the Community of Pompeii and to each one of you. You who live and work here in Pompeii, especially you, dear priests, men and women religious and lay people involved in this unique portion of the Church, are all called to make Bl. Bartolo Longo's charism your own and to become, to the extent and in the way that God grants to each one, authentic apostles of the Rosary.

To be apostles of the Rosary, however, it is necessary to experience personally the beauty and depth of this prayer which is simple and accessible to everyone. It is first of all necessary to let the Blessed Virgin take one by the hand to contemplate the Face of Christ: a joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious Face. Those who, like Mary and with her, cherish and ponder the mysteries of Jesus assiduously, increasingly assimilate his sentiments and are conformed to him. In this regard, I would like to quote a beautiful thought of Bl. Bartolo Longo: "Just as two friends, frequently in each other's company, tend to develop similar habits", he wrote, "so too, by holding familiar converse with Jesus and the Blessed Virgin, by meditating on the mysteries of the Rosary and by living the same life in Holy Communion, we can become, to the extent of our lowliness, similar to them and can learn from these supreme models a life of humility, poverty, hiddenness, patience and perfection" (I Quindici Sabati del Santissimo Rosario, 27th edition, Pompeii, 1916, p. 27: cited in Rosarium Virginis Mariae
RVM 15).

The Rosary is a school of contemplation and silence. At first glance, it could seem a prayer that accumulates words, therefore difficult to reconcile with the silence that is rightly recommended for meditation and contemplation. In fact, this cadent repetition of the Hail Mary does not disturb inner silence but indeed both demands and nourishes it. Similarly to what happens for the Psalms when one prays the Liturgy of the Hours, the silence surfaces through the words and sentences, not as emptiness, but rather as the presence of an ultimate meaning that transcends the words themselves and through them speaks to the heart. Thus, in reciting the Hail Mary, we must be careful that our voices do not "cover" the voice of God who always speaks through the silence like the "still small voice" of a gentle breeze (1R 19,12). Then how important it is to foster this silence full of God, both in one's personal recitation and in its recitation with the community! Even when the Rosary is prayed, as today, by great assemblies, and as you do in this Shrine every day, it must be perceived as a contemplative prayer. And this cannot happen without an atmosphere of inner silence.

I would like to add a further reflection concerning the Word of God in the Rosary, particularly appropriate in this period in which the Synod of Bishops is taking place on the theme: "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church".If Christian contemplation cannot leave the Word of God out of consideration, if it is to be a contemplative prayer, the Rosary must always emerge from the silence of the heart as a response to the Word, after the model of Mary's prayer. Seen clearly, the Rosary is completely interwoven with scriptural elements. First of all there is the enunciation of the mystery, preferably made, as it has been today, with words taken from the Bible. The Our Father follows; by giving the prayer a "vertical" orientation, the soul of who recites the rosary is opened to the correct filial attitude in accordance with the Lord's invitation: "When you pray say: Father..." (Lc 11,2). The first part of the Hail Mary, also taken from the Gospel, lets us listen again each time to the words that God addressed to the Virgin through the Angel and to the words of her cousin Elizabeth's blessing. The second part of the Hail Mary resounds like the answer of children who, in addressing supplications to their Mother, do nothing other than express their own adherence to the saving plan revealed by God. Thus the thought of those who pray remains ever anchored to Scripture and to the mysteries presented in it.

Lastly, remembering that today we are celebrating World Mission Sunday, I wish to recall the apostolic dimension of the Rosary, a dimension that Blessed Bartolo Longo lived intensely, drawing inspiration from it to carry out on this earth so many charitable initiatives and works of human and social promotion. Furthermore, he wanted this Shrine to be open to the whole world as a centre of outreach of the prayer of the Rosary and as a place of intercession for peace among peoples. Dear friends, I would like to reinforce both of these aims: the apostolate of charity and prayer for peace, and I wish to confirm and entrust them once again to your spiritual and pastoral commitment. Following the example and with the support of the venerable Founder, never tire of working with enthusiasm in this part of the Lord's vineyard for which Our Lady has shown a special fondness.

Dear brothers and sisters, the time has come to take my leave of you and of this beautiful Shrine. I thank you for your warm welcome and especially for your prayers. I thank the Archbishop Prelate and Pontifical Delegate, his collaborators and those who worked to prepare my Visit in the best possible way. I must leave you, but my heart remains close to this region and to this community. I entrust you all to the Blessed Virgin of the Holy Rosary and I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to each one.
* * *

Before leaving the Shrine of Our Lady of the Rosary at Pompeii, the Holy Father spoke briefly to the faithful:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The time has come for me to say "good-bye' but as I said, in my heart I shall always remain close to you, close to this most beautiful Shrine, to this people full of faith, enthusiasm and charity. Thank you! Let us stay faithful to Our Lady and thus we shall stay faithful to love and to peace. I bless you all in the name of Almighty God, Father, and Son and Holy Spirit. Good-bye until next time! Thank you!

Speeches 2005-13 177