Speeches 2005-13 28050


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

I welcome you with great joy on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. I greet the President of the Dicastery, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliň whom I thank for his words of joyous warmth the Secretary, the Members, the Consultors and the Officials. I express to everyone the wish that his or her work may be rewarding.

You chose as the topic of this Session the Pastoral care of human mobility today, in the context of the co-responsibility of States and of International Organizations. The movement of persons has been for some time the object of international conventions, which seek to guarantee the protection of fundamental human rights and to fight discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. It concerns documents which provide the principles and methods of supranational protection.

An appreciable effort is being made to build a system of shared norms which contemplate the rights and duties of the foreigner, as well as those of the host community, taking into account in the first place the dignity of every human person, created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Gen
Gn 1,26). Obviously, the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties. In fact, all people enjoy rights and duties which are not arbitrary, for they stem from human nature itself, as Bl. Pope John XXIII's Encyclical Pacem in Terris affirms: "Each individual man is truly a person. His is a nature... endowed with intelligence and freewill. As such he has rights and duties, which together flow as a direct consequence from his nature. These rights and duties are universal and inviolable, and therefore, altogether inalienable" (n. 9). The responsibility of States and international organizations is, therefore, particularly specified in the commitment to influence matters which, respecting the competencies of the national legislator, involve the entire family of peoples, and require an agreement between the Governments and Organisms more directly concerned. I am thinking of such problems as the entry or forced removal of the foreigner, the enjoyment of the goods of nature, of culture and art, of science and technology, which must be accessible to all. One must not forget, then, the important role of mediation so that national and international resolutions, which promote the universal common good, find acceptance with local entities and are reflected in daily life.

In this context, laws on the national and international level which promote the common good and respect for the person encourage hope and the efforts being made for the achievement of a world social order founded on peace, brotherhood and universal cooperation, despite the critical phase international institutions are currently traversing as they concentrate on resolving crucial questions of security and development for everyone. It is true, unfortunately, that we are witnessing the re-emergence of biased cases in some areas of the world, but it is also true that there is reluctance to assume responsibility which should be shared. Moreover, not yet extinguished is the longing of many to break down the walls that divide and to establish broad consensus, also through legislative provisions and administrative practices which foster integration, mutual exchanges and reciprocal enrichment. In effect, the prospects of peoples living side by side can be offered through cautious and concerted policies for acceptance and integration, providing for legal entry, favouring the just right of reuniting families, of asylum and of refuge, compensating for the necessary restrictive measures and opposing the disgraceful traffic of individuals. Precisely here the various international organisations, in cooperation among themselves and with the States, can make their particular contribution by reconciling, with various methods, the recognition of the rights of the person and the principle of national sovereignty, with specific reference to the exigencies of security, public order and the control of borders.

The fundamental rights of the person can be the focal point in the commitment to responsibility by international institutions. This, then, is closely linked to "openness to life, which is at the centre of true development", as I confirmed in the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate (cf. n. 28), where I also appealed to States to promote policies for the centrality and the integrity of the family (cf. n. 44).
On the other hand, it is evident that openness to life and to the rights of the family must conform to the different contexts, because "in an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations" (n. 7). The future of our societies rests upon the meeting between peoples, upon dialogue between cultures with respect for identity and legitimate differences. In this scenario, the family retains its fundamental role. Therefore, the Church with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ in every sector of existence, carries forward "the commitment... in favour not only of the individual migrant, but also of his family, which is a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values", as I affirmed in the Message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, 18 October 2006, celebrated in 2007.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is also your task to awaken the Organizations committed to the world of migrants and itinerant people to forms of co-responsibility. This pastoral sector is tied to a phenomenon in constant expansion and, therefore, your role must be expressed in concrete responses of closeness and personal pastoral support, taking into account the different local situations. On each of you I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit and the maternal protection of Our Lady, as I renew my gratitude for the service that you render to the Church and to society. May the inspiration of Bl. Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, described as the "Father of migrants" by the Venerable John Paul II, the 105th anniversary of whose birth in heaven we shall be commemorating on 1 June, illumine your actions in favour of migrants and itinerant people and spur you to an ever more attentive charity, which will witness to them the unfailing love of God. For my part I assure you of my prayers while blessing you from my heart.



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

I am pleased to meet you to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of Fr Matteo Ricci, sj. I offer a fraternal greeting to Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, who is leading this numerous pilgrimage. With him, I greet my Brother Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Marches and their respective Dioceses, the Civil, Military and Academic Authorities; the priests, seminarians and students, as well as the Pueri Cantores. Macerata is proud of such an illustrious citizen, a religious and a priest! I greet the Members of the Society of Jesus to whom Fr Ricci belonged and in particular Fr Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General, the Jesuits' friends and collaborators and the educational institutes connected with them. A thought also goes to all the Chinese.???! [Hello!].

This great missionary a true protagonist of Gospel proclamation in China in the modern age, following the first evangelization there by Archbishop Giovanni da Montecorvino reached the end of his earthly life in Peking on 11 May 1610. The extraordinary privilege he was granted, unthinkable for a foreigner, of being buried in Chinese soil is proof of the high esteem in which he was held, both in the Chinese capital and at the Imperial Court itself. Today it is also possible to venerate his tomb in Peking, fittingly restored by the Local Authorities. The many initiatives promoted in Europe and in China in honour of Fr Ricci show the keen interest that his work continues to kindle in the Church and in the different cultural contexts.

The history of the Catholic missions includes figures important because of their zeal and courage in bringing Christ to new and distant lands; but Fr Ricci is a unique case of a felicitous synthesis between the proclamation of the Gospel and the dialogue with the culture of the people to whom he brought it; he is an example of balance between doctrinal clarity and prudent pastoral action. Not only his profound knowledge of the language but also his assumption of the lifestyle and customs of the cultured Chinese classes, the result of study and its patient, far-sighted implementation, ensured that Fr Ricci was accepted by the Chinese with respect and esteem, no longer as a foreigner but as the "Master of the Great West". Among the important figures of Chinese history in the "Millennium Museum", Peking, only two foreigners are recorded: Marco Polo and Fr Matteo Ricci.

This missionary's work presents two dimensions that must not be separated: the Chinese inculturation of the Gospel proclamation and the presentation to China of Western culture and science. The scientific aspects often attracted greater interest but the perspective with which Fr Ricci entered into relations with the Chinese world and culture should not be forgotten. It consisted of a humanism that viewed the person as part of his context, cultivated his moral and spiritual values, retaining everything positive that is found in the Chinese tradition and offering to enrich it with the contribution of Western culture and, above all, with the wisdom and truth of Christ. Fr Ricci did not go to China to take it the science and culture of the West but rather to bring to it the Gospel, to make God known. He wrote: "For more than 20 years, every morning and every evening I have prayed with tears to Heaven. I know that the Lord of Heaven takes pity on living creatures and pardons them.... The truth about the Lord of Heaven is already in human hearts. But human beings do not immediately understand it and are not inclined to reflect on such a matter" (Il vero significato del "Signore del Cielo", [the true meaning of the "Lord of Heaven"], Rome 2006,
PP 69-70). And it was precisely while he was proclaiming the Gospel that Fr Ricci discovered in those with whom he was conversing the request for a broader exchange, so that the encounter motivated by faith also became an intercultural dialogue; a disinterested dialogue, free from financial or political ambition and lived in friendship. This makes the work of Fr Ricci and his followers one of the loftiest and happiest peaks in the relationship between China and the West. The "Treaty of Friendship" (1595), one of his first and best known works in Chinese, is eloquent in this regard. In Fr Ricci's thought and teaching science, reason and faith find a natural synthesis: "Anyone who knows Heaven and earth", he wrote in the preface to the third edition of the world map, "can prove that the One who rules Heaven and earth is absolutely good, absolutely great and absolutely one. The ignorant reject Heaven, but knowledge that does not relate back to the Emperor of Heaven as to the first cause is no knowledge at all".

However, admiration for Fr Ricci must not lead us to forget the role and influence of his Chinese conversation partners. The decisions he made did not depend on an abstract strategy of inculturation of the faith but rather on events as a whole, on the meetings and experiences that he continued to have, which is why what he was able to achieve was also thanks to his encounter with the Chinese. He experienced this encounter in many ways but deepened it through his relationship with a few friends and followers, especially his four famous converts, "pillars of the nascent Chinese Church". The first and most famous of them was Xu Guangqi, a native of Shanghai, a literary man and a scientist, mathematician, astronomer and agricultural expert who reached the highest ranks in the imperial bureaucracy, an integral man of great faith and Christian life, who was dedicated to serving his country and occupied an important place in the history of Chinese culture. It was he, for example, who convinced and helped Fr Ricci to translate into Chinese Euclid's Elements, a fundamental work of geometry, and who persuaded the Emperor to entrust the reform of the Chinese calendar to Jesuit astronomers. Li Zhizao, another of the Chinese scholars who converted to Christianity, likewise helped Fr Ricci in completing the last and most developed editions of the world map that were to give the Chinese a new image of the world. He described Fr Ricci in these words: "I believed him to be a unique man because he lives in celibacy, steers clear of intrigue in his office, speaks little, has an orderly conduct and this is his daily practice he cultivates virtue secretly and serves God ceaselessly". Thus it is right to associate with Fr Matteo Ricci his closest friends who shared with him the experience of faith.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the memory of these men of God dedicated to the Gospel and to the Church, their example of fidelity to Christ, their deep love for the Chinese people, their commitment of intelligence and study and their virtuous lives be an opportunity to pray for the Church in China and for the entire Chinese people, as we do every year, on 24 May, addressing Mary Most Holy, venerated in the famous Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai; and may they also be an incentive and an encouragement to live the Christian faith intensely, in dialogue with the different cultures but in the certainty that in Christ true humanism is fulfilled, open to God, rich in moral and spiritual values and capable of responding to the deepest desires of the human soul. Today I too, like Fr Matteo Ricci, express my profound esteem to the noble Chinese people and to their 1,000-old culture, in the conviction that a renewed encounter with Christianity will bear abundant fruits of good, just as it then fostered a peaceful coexistence among peoples. Many thanks.

CONCLUSION OF THE MARIAN MONTH OF MAY Lourdes Grotto, Vatican Gardens Monday, 31 May 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I join you with great joy at the end of this traditional prayer meeting which concludes the month of May in the Vatican. With reference to today's liturgy, let us contemplate Mary Most Holy in the mystery of her Visitation. We recognize in the Virgin Mary who goes to visit her kinswoman Elizabeth the clearest example and the truest meaning of our journey as believers and of the journey of the Church herself. The Church is missionary by her very nature, she is called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and always and to pass on the faith to every man and woman, and to every culture.

"In those days", wrote St Luke the Evangelist, "Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah" (
Lc 1,39). Mary's is a real missionary journey. It leads her far from home, impels her into the world to places alien to her daily habits; in a certain sense it stretches her to her maximum capacity. Here, also for all of us, lies the secret of our lives as men and women and Christians. Our existence as individuals and as Church is projected outside ourselves. As had happened to Abraham, we are asked to come out of ourselves, from where we feel safe, to reach out to others in different places and surroundings. It is the Lord who asks this of us: "You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses... to the end of the earth" (Ac 1,8). And it is once again the Lord who sets us on this path beside Mary as our travelling companion and caring mother. She reassures us, for she reminds us that the Son, her Jesus, is always with us as he promised: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28,20).

The Evangelist notes that "Mary remained with her" (with her relative Elizabeth) "about three months" (Lc 1,56). These simple words explain the most immediate purpose of Mary's journey. She knew from the Angel that Elizabeth was expecting a son and that she was already in her sixth month (Lc 1,36). However Elizabeth was elderly and the closeness of Mary, still very young, could be helpful to her. For this reason Mary visits her and stays with her about three months in order to offer her that affectionate closeness, that practical help and all those daily services she needed. Elizabeth thus becomes the symbol of many elderly and sick people indeed, of all who are in need of help and love. And how many of them there are today too in our families, in our communities and in our cities! And Mary who had described herself as "the handmaid of the Lord" (Lc 1,38) makes herself the servant of human beings. More precisely, she serves the Lord whom she encounters in her brethren.

Yet Mary's charity does not stop at material assistance but reaches its summit in giving Jesus himself, in "favouring an encounter with him". Once again, it is St Luke who emphasizes this: "When Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb" (Lc 1,41). We are thus at the heart and culmination of the evangelizing mission. We have come to the truest meaning and most genuine purpose of every missionary journey: to give people the living and personal Gospel which is the Lord Jesus himself. And Jesus' Gospel is a communication and a gift which as Elizabeth testifies fill the heart with joy: "For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my years, the babe in my womb leaped for joy" (Lc 1,44). Jesus is the only true treasure to give to humanity that we possess. It is for him that the men and women of our time have a deep longing, even when they seem to ignore or to reject him. It is for him that the society in which we live, Europe and the whole world, has so great a need.

This extraordinary responsibility is entrusted to us. Let us live it with joy and commitment, so that ours may truly be a civilization in which truth, justice, freedom and love prevail, the fundamental and irreplaceable pillars of a true orderly and peaceful coexistence. Let us live this responsibility by devoting ourselves to listening to the word of God in brotherly union, to the breaking of bread and the prayers (cf. Ac 2,42). May this be the grace we ask of the Most Holy Virgin this evening. My Blessing to you all!




Fr. Lombardi: Your Holiness, we thank you for meeting with us, as on all your Journeys, and for giving us a focus for the coming days, which will be so busy. We are of course unfortunately forced to ask the first question due to yesterday's event, the assassination of Bishop Padovese that has so grievously shocked us and has been a cause of profound sorrow to you. Therefore, on behalf of all my colleagues, may I ask you to say a few words on how you have taken this news and how you feel at the beginning of your Journey to Cyprus in this atmosphere.

Holy Father: Naturally, I am profoundly distressed by the death of Bishop Padovese, who has greatly contributed to the preparation of the Synod; his collaboration would have been invaluable in this Synod. Let us commend his soul to the goodness of the Lord. However, this shadow has nothing to do with the themes and reality of our Journey since we must not attribute this event to Turkey or to the Turks. It is something about which we have little information. It was certainly not a political or religious assassination but a personal matter. We are still awaiting a full explanation, but do not let us now confuse this tragic situation with the dialogue with Islam and with all the problems of our Journey. It is a separate case that saddens us but must in no way cloud the dialogue that will be the theme and purpose of this Journey.

Fr. Lombardi: Cyprus is a divided country, Your Holiness, and you will not be visiting the northern part that is occupied by the Turks. Do you have a Message for the inhabitants of that region? And how do you think your Visit can help to bridge the gap between the Greek and Turkish sides, in order to bring about peaceful coexistence with respect for religious freedom and the spiritual and cultural heritage of the various communities?

Holy Father: This Trip to Cyprus is in many ways a continuation both of the Journey I made last year to the Holy Land and of my Visit to Malta earlier this year. The Journey to the Holy Land had three parts: Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian Territories. For all three it was a religious and Pastoral Visit; it was not a political or tourist trip. The fundamental theme was Christ's peace, which must be universal peace throughout the world. The theme was therefore on the one hand, the proclamation of our faith, the witness of faith, the pilgrimage to these places that testify to Christ's life and to the whole of sacred history. On the other, there was the common responsibility of all who believe in a God Creator of Heaven and earth, a God in whose image we have been created. Malta and Cyprus still forcefully contribute to the theme of St Paul, a great believer and evangelizer, and also of St Barnabas who was a Cypriot and opened the door to the mission of St Paul. Hence the themes are a testimony of our faith in the one God, dialogue and peace. Peace in a very profound sense; it is not a political appendix to our religious activity; rather, peace is a word that is the core of faith, it lies at the heart of the Pauline teaching; let us think of the Letter to the Ephesians where it says that Christ brought peace and broke down the dividing wall of hostility. This has remained a permanent mandate so I am not coming with a political but rather a religious Message that must prepare people's hearts better for finding an opening for peace. These are not things that come about from one day to the next, but it is very important not only to take the necessary political steps but also and above all to prepare souls to be capable of taking the necessary political steps, of creating that inner openness to peace which comes ultimately from faith in God and in the conviction that we are all God's children and each other's brothers and sisters.

Fr. Lombardi: You are going to the Middle East a few days after the Israeli attack on the flotilla in front of Gaza added further tension to the already tense peace process. How do you think that the Holy See can help in overcoming this difficult moment for the Middle East?

Holy Father: I would say that we contribute mainly in a religious way. We can be of help by offering political and strategic advice, but the Vatican's work is always essentially religious, work that moves hearts. With all these episodes that we are experiencing we are always in danger of losing patience, of saying "that's enough", and of no longer desiring to seek peace. And here, in this Year for Priests, a beautiful story of the Curé d'Ars springs to my mind. To the people who said to him: "It is pointless for me to go to confession and absolution because I am sure that the day after tomorrow I shall relapse into the same sins", the Curé d'Ars answered: "it doesn't matter, the Lord deliberately forgets that you will commit the same sins the day after tomorrow, he forgives you now, completely, he will be forbearing and will continue to help you and to reach out to you". We should consequently imitate, as it were, God and his patience. After all the cases of violence, we must not lose patience, not lose courage, not lose our forbearance in order to start again; we must create this readiness of heart to start ever anew, in the certainty that we can forge ahead, that we can achieve peace, that the solution is not violence but patience for the true good. Creating this attitude seems to me to be the principal task that the Vatican, its offices and the Pope can undertake.

Fr. Lombardi: Your Holiness, the dialogue with the Orthodox has made great headway from the viewpoint of culture, spirituality and life. On the occasion of the recent Concert offered to you by the Patriarch of Moscow, a deep harmony between Orthodox and Catholics was felt with regard to the challenges to Christianity in Europe posed by secularization. But what is your evaluation of the dialogue, also from the more strictly theological viewpoint?

Holy Father: First, I would like to emphasize that we have made great progress in our common witness to the Christian values in the secularized world. This is not only a moral and political coalition let us say but also really is a profound quality of faith, because the fundamental values for which we live in this secularized world are not forms of moralism but the fundamental features of the Christian faith. When we are able to bear witness to these values together, when we can engage in dialogue, in the discussion of this world, in witnessing in order to live these values, we have already borne a fundamental witness to a very deep unity of faith. There are of course many theological problems, but here too the elements of unity are strong. I would like to point out three elements that bind us, that see us ever closer, that draw us ever closer. The first: Scripture. The Bible is not a book fallen from Heaven that now exists and that everyone takes up; it is a book that developed among the People of God and is alive in this common subject of the People of God. And only here does it remain ever present and real. In other words the Bible cannot be isolated but exists in the connection between tradition and Church. Knowledge of this is fundamental and belongs to the foundations of Orthodoxy and Catholicism and gives us a common route. As the second element: let us say Tradition, that we interpret, that opens the door of Scripture to us, has in addition an institutional, sacred and sacramental form, desired by the Lord, namely the episcopate. Tradition has a personal form, that is, the College of Bishops that all together is a witness and presence of this tradition. And the third point: the so-called regula fidei, that is, the confession of faith worked out in the ancient Councils is the sum of all that is contained in Scripture and opens the "door" to interpretation. Then other elements: the Liturgy and our common love for Our Lady bind us deeply and it is becoming ever clearer to us that they are the foundations of Christian life. We must be more aware and must also examine the details more deeply, but I think that although the different cultures and situations have given rise to misunderstandings and difficulties, our awareness of the essential and of the unity of the essential is growing. I would like to add that it is naturally not theological discussion which creates unity in itself; unity is an important dimension but the whole of Christian life, mutual knowledge, the experience of brotherhood, learning, despite the experience of the past, as well as this common brotherhood are processes that likewise demand great patience. Yet I think we are actually learning patience and love as well, and with all the dimensions of theological dialogue we are making progress, leaving it to the Lord to decide when he will give us perfect unity.

Fr. Lombardi: One purpose of this Journey is the presentation of the working document of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. What are your principal expectations and hopes for this Synod, for the Christian communities and also for the believers of other faiths in this region?

Holy Father: The first important point is that the various Bishops, Heads of Churches, be seen here, because we have so many Churches various Rites are scattered throughout the different countries in different situations. They often appear isolated, they often possess little information about each other; it means coming together, meeting each other and thus becoming acquainted with each other, with the problems, differences and situations they have in common, appraising the situation together, in order to decide on the way to take. This practical communion of dialogue and life is a first point. The second point is the visibility of these Churches. In other words that people in the world see that there is one, great and ancient Christianity in the Middle East one that is often not before our eyes. This visibility can also help us to be close to these Churches, to deepen our reciprocal knowledge, to learn from each other, to help each other and thereby also to help the Christians of the Middle East not to lose hope and to remain there although their situation may be difficult. Thus the third point through the dialogue with each other, dialogue also opens with the other Christians, with the Orthodox, Armenians, etc.. A common awareness of the Christian responsibility is growing, together with a common capacity for dialogue with our Muslim brothers and sisters who are our brothers and sisters despite the differences. And it seems to me that there is encouragement too, in spite of all the problems, to continue, with a common vision, the dialogue with them. All the endeavours for an ever more fruitful and brotherly coexistence are very important. This is therefore a meeting within the Catholic Christianity of the Middle East in the different Rites, but it is also precisely an encounter of openness, of a renewed capacity for dialogue, courage and hope for the future.

WELCOMING CEREMONY International Paphos Airport Friday, 4 June 2010


Mr President,
Your Beatitude Chrysostomos,
Your Beatitudes,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

[1] Greetings! Peace be with you! It is a great pleasure to be with you today.

Mr President, I am grateful for the kind invitation to visit the Republic of Cyprus. I express my cordial greetings to you and to the Government and people of this nation, and thank you for your gracious words of welcome. I also recall with gratitude your recent visit to the Vatican and look forward to our meeting tomorrow in Nicosia.

Cyprus stands at the crossroads of cultures and religions, of histories both proud and ancient but which still retain a strong and visible impact upon the life of your country. Having recently acceded to the European Union, the Republic of Cyprus is beginning to witness the benefit of closer economic and political ties with other European states. Membership has already given your country access to markets, technology and know-how. It is greatly to be hoped that membership will lead to prosperity at home and that other Europeans in their turn will be enriched by your spiritual and cultural heritage which reflects your historical role, standing between Europe, Asia and Africa. May the love of your homeland and of your families and the desire to live in harmony with your neighbours under the compassionate protection of almighty God, inspire you patiently to resolve the remaining concerns that you share with the international community for the future of your island.

Following in the footsteps of our common fathers in the faith, Saints Paul and Barnabas, I have come among you as a pilgrim and the servant of the servants of God. Since the Apostles brought the Christian message to these shores, Cyprus has been blessed by a resilient Christian heritage. I greet as a brother in that faith His Beatitude Chrysostomos the Second, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, and I look forward shortly to meeting many more members of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

I also look forward to greeting other Cypriot religious leaders. I hope to strengthen our common bonds and to reiterate the need to build up mutual trust and lasting friendship between all those who worship the one God.

As the Successor of Peter, I come in a special way to greet the Catholics of Cyprus, to confirm them in the faith (cf.
Lc 22,32) and to encourage them to be both exemplary Christians and exemplary citizens, and to play a full role in society, to the benefit of both Church and state.

During my stay with you, I will also consign the Instrumentum Laboris, a working document in view of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops to be held later this year in Rome. That Assembly will examine many aspects of the Church’s presence in the region and the challenges that Catholics face, sometimes in trying circumstances, in living out their communion within the Catholic Church and offering their witness in the service of society and the world. Cyprus is thus an appropriate place in which to launch our Church’s reflection on the place of the centuries-old Catholic community in the Middle East, our solidarity with all the Christians of the region and our conviction that they have an irreplaceable role to play in peace and reconciliation among its peoples.

Mr President, dear friends, with these thoughts, I entrust my pilgrimage to Mary, the Mother of God, and to the intercession of Saints Paul and Barnabas.

[2] May God bless the people of Cyprus. May the All-Holy [Virgin] protect you always!

Speeches 2005-13 28050