Speeches 2005-13 25191
My dear Mr President of the Federal Republic,
Distinguished Representatives of the Federal Government,
of Baden Württemburg and its Communities,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Before leaving Germany, I would like very much to thank you for these days, so moving and eventful, spent in our native land.
I am grateful to you, President Wulff, for welcoming me in Berlin in the name of the German people and now, at the moment of my departure, for again honouring me with your gracious words. My thoughts turn to the representatives of the Federal Government and the governments of the Länder who are present at this departure ceremony. I offer heartfelt thanks to Archbishop Zollitsch of Freiburg, who accompanied me throughout the journey. I likewise express my gratitude to Archbishop Woelki of Berlin and Bishop Wanke of Erfurt, who also showed me hospitality, and to the entire German episcopate. Finally I offer a particular word of thanks to all those who worked behind the scenes before and during these four days in order to ensure that all went smoothly: to the civic institutions, to all those engaged in providing security, health services and public transport, and to the many volunteers. I thank all of you for these splendid days, for our many personal encounters and for your many signs of attention and affection.
In Berlin, the Federal Capital, I had the particular opportunity of addressing the members of the Bundestag and presenting some reflections on the intellectual foundations of the state of law. I also readily think of the fruitful conversations which I had with the Federal President and the Federal Chancellor about the present state of the German people and the international community. I was particularly touched by the cordial welcome and enthusiasm shown by so many people in Berlin.
Here in the land of the Reformation, Christian unity was naturally a high point of my journey. I would mention in particular my meeting with representatives of the Evangelical Church in Germany, which took place in the former Augustinian convent of Erfurt. I am profoundly grateful for our fraternal exchange and common prayer. Significant too were my meetings with Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Christians, as well with Jews and Muslims.
Of course my visit was particularly aimed at the Catholic communities in Berlin, Erfurt, Eichsfeld and Freiburg. I gladly recall our common liturgical celebrations and the joy which accompanied them, our common listening to the word of God and our union in prayer and song – especially in those parts of the country where efforts were made for decades to banish religion from people’s lives. This gives me confidence for the future of the Church in Germany and of Christianity in Germany. As in previous visits, it was clear how many people here are bearing witness to their faith and making its transforming power present in today’s world.
Last but not least, after the impressive celebration of World Youth Day in Madrid, I was also delighted to be in the presence of large numbers of young people in Freiburg at yesterday’s youth vigil.
I would like to encourage the Church in Germany to pursue with resolute confidence the path of faith which leads people back to their roots, to the heart of the Good News of Christ. It will be small communities of believers – and these already exist – whose enthusiasm spreads within a pluralistic society and makes others curious to seek the light which gives life in abundance. “There is nothing more beautiful than to know Christ and to speak to others of our friendship with him” (Homily for the Solemn Inauguration of the Petrine Ministry, 24 April 2005). This experience ultimately gives the certainty that “where God is, there is a future.” Wherever God is present, there is hope: new and often unexpected horizons open up beyond the present and the ephemeral. In this sense I accompany in my thoughts and prayers the path of the Church in Germany.
With vivid memories of these days spent in my native land, I now return to Rome. With the assurance of my prayers for all of you, and for a future of peace and freedom for our country, I bid you farewell with a hearfelt “Vergelt’s Gott” [May God reward you]. God bless you all!
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We have gathered together at the end of my summer stay in Castel Gandolfo. Once again this year I am glad to meet with you, to address you all together and to express my gratitude for the invaluable service which you have done and continue to do in competently caring for this residence with competence. In the person of Director Saverio Petrillo, who with his usual kindness has conveyed everyone's sentiments, I thank the entire working community who take care of the Residence and the Pontifical Villas.
In this place, we live in continuous contact with nature and in an atmosphere of silence. In these circumstances, I am glad to recall that both these things bring us close to God: nature, inasmuch as the masterpiece that comes from the hands of the Creator; silence, allows us to think and meditate without distractions, an essential part to our existence. Romano Guardini said: “only in silence do I come before God and only in silence do I know myself”. In such an environment like this it is easier to rediscover ourselves, listening to the inner voice, I would say the presence of God, which gives deep meaning to our lives.
Living here at Castel Gandolfo, I experienced during these months serene moments of study, prayer and rest. Also, the General Audiences, in the more familiar and joyful context of the Residence's courtyard or the adjacent square, have taken place regularly thanks to your ever attentive collaboration. May the Lord reward each of you with the abundance of his gifts and keep you and your families in peace. In particular, I thank you for accompanying me with the support of your prayer, and this aid will not leave me after my departure from here.
Christians are essentially distinguished by prayer and love. I invite you, dear friends, to continue to practice both in your life, giving witness to your faith. Prayer as much as love enables us to keep our gaze fixed on God, for the benefit of our brethren: our relationship with the Lord in prayer feeds our spirit and allows us to be ever more generous and open in charity to those in need.
As I also assure you of my remembrance in prayer, I wish you all the best for your family life, for your daily work and in the education of your children and young people. I am thinking also of Christian formation: I invite the youth to take part in the Catechism with commitment, and adults too, to always make the most of formative opportunities. I entrust you to the protection of the Virgin Mary and warmly impart to each one of you present and to your loved ones a special Apostolic Blessing.
Castel Gandolfo Thursday, 29 September 2011
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This year too the summer period I customarily spend in this pleasant and hospitable place that is ever dearer to me is coming to an end. This summer too, Castel Gandolfo has opened its doors to the many pilgrims and visitors who came to meet the Pope and pray with him, especially on Sundays for the regular Angelus appointment and very often on Wednesdays for the General Audience. In these months, I have once again been able to appreciate the concern and the generous work of so many people committed to guaranteeing the necessary assistance to me and my collaborators, as well as to the guests and pilgrims who come to visit me. I would like to express my deep gratitude for all this to each one of you, who made my peaceful stay possible.
I greet with fraternal affection Bishop Marcello Semeraro of Albano Laziale and I am grateful for the kindness that he has always shown me. I greet the parish priest and the parish community of Castel Gandolfo, together with the religious communities and lay people, men and women, who are present in the area. I have felt their spiritual closeness in these months and I wholeheartedly thank them, as I express to everyone the wish that they may respond to God’s call with renewed generosity, expending their energy at the service of the Gospel.
I next address a respectful greeting to Hon. Mr Mayor and to the members of the Board of the Municipal Administration. Thank you for your attention and for all you have done for me and my collaborators in these months. Through you, dear Civil Administrators, I thank and greet all the citizens, with a special thought for the elderly and the sick, whom I assure with affection of my remembrance in prayer.
I now address the directors and staff of the various services of the Governorate: the Police Force, the Garden Services, Technical and Health-Care Services, as well as the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Dear friends, I express to you my sincere esteem and deep appreciation of the work you have carried out daily, guaranteeing assistance and safety to the entire Apostolic Palace and to the Pontifical Villas.
I then thank the staff and Officers of the various Italian Security Forces for their assiduous cooperation, as well as the Officers and Airmen of the 31st Squadron of the Air Force. If everything has taken place in calmness and serenity, it is without a doubt also due to your presence and your highly qualified service.
Dear brothers and sisters, I express to you all my most sincere gratitude. Thank you again for coming to this meeting. I especially thank those who expressed your sentiments. For my part I assure you all that I will not fail to pray for each one of you and for all your intentions, and I ask you to remember me in your prayers.
May the Lord, rich in goodness and mercy, who never permits those who trust in him to lack his help, always be your firm support. May the Virgin Mary, whom we shall invoke in the month of October in a special way with the recitation of the Holy Rosary, watch over you with motherly protection. May she accompany you and your families at every moment. With these sentiments, I bless you with affection together with your relatives and all your loved ones.
Dear Brother Bishops,
I am pleased to offer you a warm fraternal welcome on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum, a privileged opportunity to give thanks to God for the gift of communion that exists in the one Church of Christ, and a moment to deepen our bonds of unity in the apostolic faith. I wish to thank Bishop Situmorang for his kind words offered on your behalf and in the name of those entrusted to your pastoral care. My cordial greetings also go to the priests, the men and women religious, and laity whom you shepherd. Please assure them of my prayers for their sanctification and well-being.
Christ’s message of salvation, forgiveness and love has been preached in your country for centuries. Indeed, the missionary impulse remains essential to the Church’s life, and finds expression not only in the preaching of the Gospel, but also in the witness of Christian charity (cf. Ad Gentes AGD 2). In this regard, I appreciate the intense efforts made by numerous individuals and agencies in the name of the Church to bring the tender compassion of God to many members of Indonesian society. This is the hallmark of every movement, action and expression of the Church, in all of her sacramental, charitable, educational and social endeavors, so that in everything her members may strive to make the Triune God known and loved through Jesus Christ. This will not only contribute to the spiritual vitality of the Church as she grows in confidence through humble yet courageous witness; it will also strengthen Indonesian society by promoting those values that your fellow citizens hold dear: tolerance, unity and justice for all citizens. Appropriately, Indonesia’s constitution guarantees the fundamental human right of freedom to practice one’s religion. The freedom to live and preach the Gospel can never be taken for granted and must always be justly and patiently upheld. Nor is religious freedom merely a right to be free from outside constraints. It is also a right to be authentically and fully Catholic, to practice the faith, to build up the Church and to contribute to the common good, proclaiming the Gospel as Good News for all, and inviting everyone to intimacy with the God of mercy and compassion made manifest in Jesus Christ.
A significant amount of the charitable and educational work within your Dioceses is done under the aegis of religious men and women. Their consecration to Christ and their lives of deep prayer and genuine sacrifice continue to enrich the Church and to render God’s presence visible and active in your nation. I wish to express my gratitude to the many priests and men and women religious who offer glory to the Lord through countless good works which benefit their Indonesian brothers and sisters. Their labors are an indispensable expression of the Church’s commitment to humanity, and in particular to the most needy. For this reason, I ask you, dear Brother Bishops, to continue to ensure that the formation and education that seminarians and men and women religious receive will always be adequate to the mission entrusted to them. Amid the growing complexities of our world and the rapid transformation of Indonesian society, the need for well-prepared religious men and women is all the more urgent. In concert with their local Superiors, ascertain that they have received what is necessary for them to live lives filled with spiritual wisdom and understanding, and to bear fruit in every good work (cf. Col Col 1,9).
I can only encourage you in your continuing efforts to promote and sustain interreligious dialogue in your nation. Your country, so rich in its cultural diversity and possessed of a large population, is home to significant numbers of followers of various religious traditions. Thus, the people of Indonesia are well-placed to make important contributions to the quest for peace and understanding among the peoples of the world. Your participation in this great enterprise is decisive, and so I urge you, dear brothers, to ensure that those whom you shepherd know that they, as Christians, are to be agents of peace, perseverance and charity. The Church is called to follow her Divine Master, who unites all things in himself, and to witness to that peace which only he can give. This is the precious fruit of charity in him who, suffering unjustly, gave us his life and taught us to respond in all situations with forgiveness, mercy and love in truth. Believers in Christ, rooted in charity, ought to be committed to dialogue with other religions, respecting mutual differences. Common endeavors for the upbuilding of society will be of great value when they strengthen friendships and overcome misunderstanding or distrust. I have confidence that you and the priests, religious and laity of your Dioceses will continue to bear witness to the image and likeness of God in each man, woman and child, regardless of their faith, by encouraging everyone to be open to dialogue in the service of peace and harmony. By doing everything possible to ensure that the rights of minorities in your country are respected, you further the cause of tolerance and mutual harmony in your country and beyond.
With these thoughts, dear Brother Bishops, I renew to you my sentiments of affection and esteem. Your country is composed of thousands of islands; so too the Church in Indonesia is made up of thousands of Christian communities, “islands of Christ’s presence”. May you always be united in faith, hope and love among yourselves and with the Successor of Peter. I commend all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. Assuring you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.
Venerable Brother in the Episcopate, Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Friends of Serra San Bruno,
I am glad to be able to meet you before entering the Charterhouse, where I shall spend the second part of my Pastoral Visit to Calabria. I greet you all with affection and thank you for your warm welcome; I also thank in particular Archbishop Vincenzo Bertolone of Catanzaro-Squillace and Mr Bruno Rosi, the Mayor, for his courteous words. It is true, two Visits, close together, by the Successor of Peter are a privilege for your civil community.
However, as the Mayor has rightly pointed out, it is a great privilege above all to have in your territory this spiritual “citadel” which is the Charterhouse. The very presence of the monastic community, with its long history that dates back to St Bruno, is a constant reference to God, it is openness to Heaven and an invitation to remember that we are brothers and sisters in Christ.
Monasteries have a very precious — I would say indispensable — function in the world. If in the Middle Ages they were centres for the reclaiming of swamplands, today they serve to “reclaim” the environment in a different sense: at times, in fact, the atmosphere we breathe in our societies is not healthy, it is polluted by a mindset that is neither Christian nor even human because it is dominated by economic interests, it is solely concerned with earthly things and lacks a spiritual dimension. In such an atmosphere not only God is marginalized, but also our neighbour, and no effort is made for the common good. The monastery, instead, is a model of a society centred on God and on brotherly relations. We stand in great need of this in our time too.
Dear friends of Serra San Bruno, the privilege of having the Charterhouse nearby is also a responsibility for you: cherish the great spiritual tradition of this place and endeavour to put it into practice in daily life. May the Virgin Mary and St Bruno protect you always. I cordially bless all of you and your families.
Hon. Mr Minister,
I am glad to meet you, especially this year when — as has been mentioned — the 150th anniversary of the Unification of Italy is being celebrated and I address my respectful and cordial greeting to you all, well aware of the importance of the Prefects’ role in the structure of the Italian State.
I address a special greeting to Hon. Mr Roberto Maroni, Minister of the Interior, and thank him for his courteous words interpreting your common sentiments. You come from the Provinces of the entire peninsular in which testimonies of the presence of Christianity abound. Christianity down the ages has made the Italian culture fruitful, giving rise to a civilization rich in universal values. Traces of the Christian faith impressed on the morals of the Italian people can in fact be seen everywhere, giving rise to noble and deeply rooted religious and cultural traditions and to an artistic heritage unique in the world.
Bearing a message of salvation valid for human beings in every age, the Catholic Church is firmly rooted, well-organized and active throughout the Italian territory. She is a living and life-giving reality, like the leaven of which the Gospel speaks (cf. Mt 13,33). The Church is a significant presence, characterized by her closeness to the people to understand their deepest needs in her readiness to serve. The expectations and needs to which the Gospel proclamation and initiatives of fraternal solidarity must respond are multiple.
The more pressing these needs are, the harder the Church tries to be an attentive and fruitful presence. Respectful of the legitimate autonomies and competencies, the ecclesial community seeks to address its precise mandate to the human being in every sphere of life: cultural, work, service and leisure time. Aware that “we are all really responsible for all”, as Bl. John Paul II wrote (Sollicitudo Rei Socialis SRS 38), the Church wishes to construct, together with the other institutions and bodies in the territory, a solid platform of moral virtues on which to build a coexistence on the human scale.
She knows that in this mission she can count on the warm and effective collaboration of the Prefects who carry out roles of encouragement and social coherence that guarantee civil rights and constitute an important reference point for the various entities in the territory.
In this regard, as I emphasize with deep pleasure the close relationship and fruitful cooperation of the respective Prefectures with the dioceses and parishes, I wish to encourage each one to continue along the lines of this mutual understanding in the interest of the citizens and of the common good.
Distinguished Prefects, I know that you endeavour to carry out your lofty and highly qualified service to the nation with sincere dedication, paying attention at the same time to the needs of the local bodies and to the various problems that arise in business firms, the family and personally.
Indeed, the figure of the Prefect is increasingly perceived by the public as a reference point in the territory for the solution of social problems, who may be asked to guarantee mediation and public services. In your responsibility at the provincial level, concerning order and basic public security you are placed as the unitary and principal promoters and guarantors of the criterion of loyal cooperation in a pluralistic system. In this regard do not forget that “as an instrument of the State, public administration at any level — national, regional, community — is oriented towards the service of citizens.... The role of those working in public administration is not to be regarded as impersonal or bureaucratic, but rather as an act of generous assistance for citizens, undertaken in a spirit of service” (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 412).
Furthermore, your delicate institutional role is, as it were, to safeguard the weakest categories and is made even more complex and crucial by the present social and economic uncertainty. Do not be discouraged by difficulties and misunderstandings, but always be ready to deal with the matters entrusted to you with a strong sense of duty and prudence, never lacking respect for the truth or the courage to defend the supreme good.
In this regard the luminous figure of St Ambrose, your heavenly patron, spontaneously springs to mind. He was called unexpectedly to the Episcopate — as you know — and obliged to give up a brilliant career as a senior public official. And he was not yet baptized! This holy Bishop admired and loved the Roman Empire which he had served loyally and generously until he was 35 years old, before being chosen as Pastor of the Ambrosian Church [the Church of Milan].
This esteem for legitimate authority, which he had cultivated since his youth, was invigorated by the grace of Baptism to the point that he not only passionately loved the Church for her spiritual riches of truth and life, but also for the practical nature of her institutions and for the people of whom she was composed, especially the poor and the lowliest. St Ambrose was able, in a certain sense, to transfer to the exercise of his pastoral ministry the substantial features of that habitus which had distinguished him and had earned him the admiration of many for being an honest civil servant. Moreover, having become a bishop, he was able to point out to those in charge of the civil institutions the Christian values that give fresh energy and new splendour to the work of all who are involved in public life.
St Ambrose affirmed in his Commentary on Luke’s Gospel: “The institution of civil power derives so clearly from God that whoever exercises it is also a minister of God” (Expositio evangelii secundum Lucam 4:29). This means that the civil role is so eminently distinguished as to assume an almost “sacred” character. Therefore it needs to be exercised with great dignity and a keen sense of responsibility.
This holy Bishop and Doctor of the Church, inspired by great love and respect for the institutions of both State and Church, is an extraordinary example of rectitude, especially with his loyalty to the law, his firm opposition to forms of injustice and oppression, as well as the freedom of speech, with which he rebuked even the powerful and taught the principles of genuine freedom and of service to all.
He wrote: “The Apostle [Paul] taught me what goes beyond freedom itself, namely that service is also freedom. ‘For though I am free from all men,” he says, “ I have made myself a slave to all’ [1 Cor 9:19].... For the wise, therefore, service is also freedom” (Ep 7,23-24).
You too, as important representatives, are called in the exercise of your duties to combine authority and professionalism, especially at moments of tension and of conflict. May the witness of St Ambrose be an incentive and encouragement to you, so that your work may be every day at the service of justice, peace, freedom and the common good. God will not fail to sustain you in your efforts, enriching them with an abundance of good results for an ever broader and more far-reaching dissemination of the civilization of love. With these hopes, and their realization, I invoke the blessing of the Almighty upon you all.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am very glad to welcome you on the occasion of the Annual Congress of the Centesimus Annus — Pro Pontifice Foundation which has brought you together for two study days on the theme of the relationship between the family and business. I thank Mr Domingo Sugranyes Bickel for his courteous word and I cordially greet you all.
This year, as was mentioned, is the 20th anniversary of the Encyclical Centesimus Annus of Blessed John Paul II, published 100 years after Rerum Novarum. It is also the 30th anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio. This double commemoration makes your well chosen theme ever more timely. In the past 120 years of the development of the Church’s social teaching great changes have occurred in the world that were not even imaginable at the time of Pope Leo’s historic Encyclical.
Yet, the inner patrimony of the social Magisterium that has always promoted the human person and the family, in the context of their life and business, has not changed with the changing external conditions. The Second Vatican Council spoke of the family in terms of the domestic Church as the “intangible sanctuary” where a person’s affections, solidarity and spirituality mature. Even economics, with its laws, must always take into account and safeguard this primary cell of society; the etymological origin of the very word “economics” contains a reference to the family’s importance: oikia and nomos, the law of the home.
In his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio, Bl. John Paul II pointed out four tasks for the family institution which I should like to recall briefly: forming a community of persons; serving life; participating in the development of society; and sharing in the life and mission of the Church. All these tasks are based on love and it is love that teaches and forms the family.
“The love”, the Venerable Pontiff started, “between husband and wife and, in a derivatory and broader way, the love between members of the same family — between parents and children, brothers and sisters and relatives and members of the household — is given life and sustenance by an unceasing inner dynamism leading the family to ever deeper and more intense communion, which is the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family” (n. 18). In the same way, love is at the root of the service to life, founded on the cooperation that the family gives to the continuity of creation, to the procreation of man made in God’s image and likeness.
Moreover the family is the first place where one learns that the right approach in the social context and also in the world of work, economics and business, must be guided by caritas, in the logic of “free giving” giving, of solidarity, and of responsibility for each other. “The relationships between the members of the family community”, Bl. John Paul II wrote further, “are inspired and guided by the law of ‘free giving’. By respecting and fostering personal dignity in each and every one as the only basis for value, this free giving takes the form of heartfelt acceptance, encounter and dialogue, disinterested availability, generous service and deep solidarity” (n. 43).
In this perspective, from being a mere object, the family becomes an active subject that is able to remember the “human countenance” which the world of economics must present. If this applies to society in general, in the ecclesial community it assumes an even greater importance. Indeed, the family also has an important role in evangelization, as I recently mentioned in Ancona: it is not simply on the receiving end of pastoral action but plays the lead in it. It is called to take part in evangelization in its own original way, placing its being and action as “an ‘intimate community of life and love’ at the service of the Church and of society” (cf. Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio FC 50). Family and work are privileged places in which to realize the vocation of human beings to collaborate with God’s creative work today.
As you pointed out in your reports, in the difficult situation in which we live we are unfortunately witnessing a crisis of work and of the economy which is accompanied by a crisis of the family: the conflict within the couple, between generations and between the time for family and for work, as well as the employment crisis, are creating a complex situation of unease that has a negative influence on life in society itself. A new, harmonious synthesis between family and work is therefore necessary, to which the Church’s social doctrine can make its own precious contribution.
In the Encyclical Caritas in Veritate I wished to stress that the family model of the logic of love, of free giving and of reciprocal gift, should be extended to a universal dimension. Commutative justice — “giving in order to acquire” — and distributive justice — “giving through duty” [n. 39], are not sufficient to build up society. In order for true justice to exist it is necessary to add free giving and solidarity.
“Solidarity is first and foremost a sense of responsibility on the part of everyone with regard to everyone and it cannot therefore be delegated to the State alone. While in the past it was possible to argue that justice had to come first and that gratuitousness could compliment it afterwards, today one must say that without gratuitousness, there can be no justice in the first place.... Charity in truth, in this case, requires that shape and structure be given to those types of economic initiative which, without rejecting profit, aim at a higher goal than the mere logic of the exchange of equivalents, of profit as an end in itself” (cf. n. 38).
“The market of gratuitousness does not exist, and attitudes of gratuitousness cannot be established by law. Yet both the market and politics need individuals who are open to reciprocal gift” (ibid., n. 39). It is not up to the Church to define ways to face the current crisis. Yet Christians are duty bound to report evils, to witness to and to keep alive the values on which the person’s dignity is founded and to promote those forms of solidarity that encourage the common good so that humanity may become increasingly a family of God.
Dear friends, I hope that the considerations which arose at your Congress will help you to assume ever more actively your role in the spread and application of the Church’s social teaching, without forgetting that “development needs Christians with their arms raised towards God in prayer, Christians moved by the knowledge that truth-filled love, caritas in veritate, from which authentic development proceeds, is not produced by us, but given to us” (n. 79).
With this wish, as I entrust you to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, I warmly impart to all of you and to your dear ones a special Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 2005-13 25191