Speeches 2005-13 15201



Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

I gladly accepted the invitation of the President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization to be present with all of you this evening for a brief moment and, especially, tomorrow for the Eucharistic Celebration. I thank Archbishop Fisichella for the greeting he addressed to me on your behalf and I rejoice to see you in such large numbers.

I know that you are here representing a great many others who, like you, are involved in the far from easy task of the new evangelization. I also greet those who are following this event through the media, enabling many new evangelizers to be connected live, though scattered in different parts of the world.

You have chosen as the guideline for your reflection today the expression: “The Word of God grows and spreads”. The Evangelist Luke uses this formula several times in the Acts of the Apostles; indeed in various circumstances he affirms that “the Word of God grew and multiplied” (cf.
Ac 6,7 Ac 12,24). In today’s theme, however, you have changed the tense of the two verbs to highlight an important aspect of faith: the conscious certainty that the word of God is ever alive, at every moment of history, in our time too, because the Church realizes it through her faithful transmission, the celebration of the sacraments and the witness of believers. For this reason our history is in full continuity with that of the first Christian community and is nourished by the same life-giving sap.

But what soil received the word of God? As then, so today too it can encounter closure and rejection, ways of thinking and living that are far from the search for God and for the truth. People of today are often confused and fail to find an answer to the many questions that torment the mind on the meaning of life, and to the queries that are lodged in the depths of their heart. Human beings cannot escape these questions that touch on the meaning of self and reality, they cannot live in one single dimension! Instead, they are often distanced from the search for the essential in life while an ephemeral happiness is proposed to them that is briefly satisfying but soon gives way to sadness and dissatisfaction.

Yet, despite the condition of people today, we can still say with certainty, as in the early days of Christianity, that the word of God continues to grow and to spread. Why? I would like to mention at least three reasons. The first is that the power of the word does not depend above all on our action, on our means, on our “doing”, but rather on God, who hides his power behind signs of weakness, who becomes present in the gentle morning breeze (cf. 1R 19,12) and is revealed on the wood of the cross. We must always believe in the humble power of the word of God and let God act!

The second reason is because the seed of the word, as the Gospel Parable of the Sower recounts, still falls on good soil that welcomes it and produces fruit (cf. Mt 13,3-9). And the new evangelizers are part of this field enabling the Gospel to grow in abundance and transform their life and the lives of others. In the world, even if evil makes more noise, good soil continues to exist.

The third reason is that the proclamation of the Gospel has truly reached the ends of the earth and, even amidst indifference, misunderstanding and persecution, many, still today, continue courageously to open their hearts and minds to accept Christ’s invitation to meet him and to become his disciples. They make not a sound but are like the tiny mustard seed that becomes a tree, the leaven that causes the dough to rise, the grain which breaks open to bring forth an ear of wheat. If on the one hand all this brings comfort and hope because it shows the ceaselessly active missionary leaven that gives life to the Church, on the other it must fill everyone with a renewed sense of responsibility to the word of God and the spread of the Gospel.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization, which I established last year, is a precious means for identifying the great questions that are troubling the various sectors of today’s society and culture. It is called to offer special help to the Church in her mission and above all in those countries with an ancient Christian tradition that seem to have become indifferent, if not actually hostile to the word of God. Today’s world needs people who proclaim and testify that it is Christ who teaches the art of living, the way of true happiness, because he himself is the path of life; people who first of all keep their own gaze fixed on Jesus, the Son of God: the word of proclamation must always be immersed in an intense relationship with him, in an intense life of prayer. Today’s world needs people who speak to God, so as to be able to speak of God. And we must always remember that Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words or ostentatious means but with his suffering and his death.

The law of the grain of wheat that dies in the ground also applies today; we cannot give life to others without giving our own life: “whoever would save his life will lose it; and whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it”, the Lord tells us (Mc 8,35). In seeing all of you and knowing the great commitment that each one of you dedicates to serving the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelizers will be increasingly multiplied to give life to a real transformation which the world today needs. It is only through men and women moulded by God’s presence that the word of God will continue its journey in the world, bearing its fruit.

Dear friends, being evangelizers is not a privilege but a commitment that comes from faith. To the question the Lord addresses to Christians: “Whom shall I send and who will go for us?”, answer with the same courage and the same trust as the Prophet: “Here am I! Send me” (Is 6,8). I ask you to let yourselves be formed by God’s grace and to respond in docility to the action of the Spirit of the Risen One. Be signs of hope, able to look to the future with the certainty that comes from the Lord Jesus, who conquered death and gave us eternal life. Communicate the joy of faith to all with the enthusiasm that comes from being driven by the Holy Spirit, because he makes all things new (cf. Rev Ap 21,5), trusting in the promised that Jesus made to the Church: “and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28,20).

At the end of this day let us also ask for the protection of the Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, as I warmly accompany each one of you and your undertaking with my Apostolic Blessing. Many thanks.


Your Beatitude,

I am pleased to greet you and the members of the Permanent Synod of the Syro-Malabar Church who have travelled to Rome in an expression of communion with the Successor of Peter, and I thank you for your kind words on their behalf and in your own name. This visit is a significant one, as it comes not long after your election as Major Archbishop. By coming here, you provide an eloquent sign of the hierarchical communion that you formally expressed in your recent letter to me requesting confirmation of your election.

Your predecessor, the late Cardinal Varkey Vithayathil, has left a legacy upon which you and your brother Bishops will surely wish to build. In this context, I would like to recall the example of the two holy patrons of the Syro-Malabar Church, Saint Alphonsa Muttathupadathu and Blessed Kuriakose Elias Chavara, who were beatified by Blessed John Paul II, during his visit to Kerala twenty-five years ago. Later, the grace fell to me to canonize Saint Alphonsa in 2008.

At home, the Syro-Malabar Church in Kerala continues to enjoy the respect of the local community for its work in education and for its social and charitable institutions at the service of the whole community. I know that life for Christians has been complicated by sectarian mistrust and even violence, but I would urge you to continue to work with people of good will of all religions in the area, in order to maintain the peace and harmony of the region, for the good of the Church and that of all citizens.

Within the Church itself, there are encouraging signs of vocations to the priesthood and the religious life which will help you to maintain your pastoral outreach. To be kept in mind are the ongoing challenges in the formation of the clergy and religious, in Christian family life and in the pastoral care of your faithful. I commend you for your efforts to maintain the strength of your family structures, the quality of Catholic education and catechesis at every level, and your pastoral work with youth. I also encourage you to continue your good work in fostering vocations among young men and women.

In fidelity to the Gospel and to the grace bestowed upon us by Christ our Lord, you and your faithful have flourished at home and abroad in union with the universal Church. By fostering your own authentic liturgical tradition, your faithful have been nourished by word and sacrament in accordance with what was handed down to you by your fathers in the faith. I am also aware of pastoral initiatives in favour of Syro-Malabar Catholics scattered throughout the world. As I did during your Ad Limina Visit in April, allow me again to encourage you in this important task and, especially with regard to your pastoral outreach to Syro-Malabar Catholics living beyond your homeland, I ask you to do so always mindful of the essential need for cooperation with Catholic Bishops and pastors of other rites.

Your Beatitude, dear Brothers Bishops, with these few thoughts I commend you to the intercession of Saint Thomas, the great Apostle of India, Saint Alphonsa and Blessed Kuriakose. I assure you of my affection and prayers and I willingly impart to you, your clergy and religious and all those entrusted to your care, my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord Jesus Christ.


Domus Australia, Rome

Your Eminence,
Dear Brother Bishops,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am very pleased to be with you for these celebrations to mark the opening of the Domus Australia, the Australian Pilgrimage Centre in Rome. On this occasion, I recall with particular gratitude the warmth of the hospitality that was extended to me when I visited your country for World Youth Day in 2008, and now I have the opportunity to reciprocate by welcoming all of you to Rome.

I thank Cardinal Pell for inviting me to join you this evening, and for his kind words. I also thank Saint Mary’s Cathedral Choir for their praise of God in song. In addition to greeting my brother Bishops, here for their Ad Limina visit, I would like to greet His Excellency Timothy Fischer, Australian Ambassador to the Holy See, and the other Ambassadors present. I am pleased to salute the Rector of the Domus, Father Anthony Denton, and Mr Gabriel Griffa and his staff. I am also happy to greet all the people of Australia and to acknowledge the support and assistance of so many of them for this project which, along with your new Embassy, has brought a little corner of Australia to the ancient city of Rome. May the Domus now be blessed by the passage of many pilgrims!

Almost exactly one year ago, the first Australian saint, Mary MacKillop, was raised to the altars, and I join all of you in giving thanks to God for the many blessings he has already poured out upon the Church in your land through her example. I pray that Saint Mary will continue to inspire many Australians to follow in her footsteps by living lives of holiness, in the service of God and neighbour.

The Lord sent his Apostles out into the whole world, to proclaim the Gospel to all creation (cf.
Mc 16,15). This evening’s event speaks eloquently of the fruits of the Church’s missionary endeavours, by which the Gospel has spread to the very furthest regions of the world, has taken root there and has given birth to a living and thriving Christian community. Like all Christian communities, the Church in Australia is conscious of being on a journey whose ultimate destination lies beyond this world: as Saint Paul expressed it, “our commonwealth is in heaven” (Ph 3,20). Our earthly lives are spent journeying towards that ultimate goal, where “no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love him” (1Co 2,9). Here on earth, the Church’s long tradition of pilgrimage to holy places serves to remind us that we are heavenward bound, it refocuses our minds on the call to holiness, it draws us ever closer to the Lord and strengthens us with spiritual food for the journey.

Many generations of pilgrims have made their way to Rome from all over the Christian world, in order to venerate the tombs of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and thereby to deepen their communion in the one Church of Christ, founded on the Apostles. In so doing, they strengthen the roots of their faith; and roots, as we know, are the source of life-giving sustenance. In that sense, pilgrims to Rome should always feel at home here, and the Domus Australia will play an important part in creating a home for Australian pilgrims in the city of the Apostles. Yet roots are only a part of the story. According to a saying attributed to a great poet from my own country, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, there are two things that children should receive from their parents: roots and wings. From our holy Mother, the Church, we too receive both roots and wings: the faith of the Apostles, handed down from generation to generation, and the grace of the Holy Spirit, conveyed above all through the sacraments of the Church. Pilgrims to this city return to their homelands renewed and strengthened in their faith, and borne aloft by the Holy Spirit in the journey onward and upward to their heavenly home.

My prayer today is that the pilgrims who pass through this house will indeed return to their homes with firmer faith, more joyful hope and more ardent love for the Lord, ready to commit themselves with fresh zeal to the task of bearing witness to Christ in the world in which they live and work. And I pray too that their visit to the See of Peter will deepen their love for the universal Church and unite them more closely with Peter’s Successor, charged with feeding and gathering into one the Lord’s flock from every corner of the world. Commending all of them, and all of you, to the intercession of Our Lady, Help of Christians and Saint Mary MacKillop, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of the joys that await us in our eternal home.

TO THE BISHOPS OF AUSTRALIA ON THEIR "AD LIMINA" VISIT Consistory Hall Thursday, 20 October 2011

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to offer you a warm welcome on the occasion of your visit ad Limina Apostolorum. This pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul provides you with an important occasion to strengthen the bonds of communion in the one Church of Christ. This moment is therefore a privileged opportunity to reaffirm our unity and the fraternal affection which must always characterize relations in the College of Bishops, with and under the Successor of Peter. I wish to thank Archbishop Wilson for his kind words on your behalf. My cordial greetings go to the priests, the men and women religious, and lay faithful of Australia, and I ask you to assure them of my prayers for their peace, prosperity and spiritual well-being.

As His Grace pointed out in his address, the church in Australia has been marked by two special moments of grace in recent years. Firstly, World Youth Day was blessed with great success and, together with you, I saw how the Holy Spirit moved the young people gathered on your home soil from all over the world. I have also learned from your reports of the continued impact of that celebration. Not just Sydney but Dioceses throughout the country welcomed the world’s young Catholics as they came to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ along with their Australian sisters and brothers. Your clergy and faithful saw and experienced the youthful vitality of the Church to which we all belong and the perennial relevance of the Good News which must be proclaimed afresh to every generation. I understand that one of the outstanding consequences of the event is still to be seen in the numbers of young people who are discerning vocations to the priesthood and the religious life. The Holy Spirit never ceases to awaken in young hearts the desire for holiness and apostolic zeal. You should therefore continue to foster that radical attachment to the person of Jesus Christ, whose attraction inspires them to give their lives completely to him and to the service of the Gospel in the Church. By assisting them, you will help other young people to reflect seriously upon the possibility of a life in the priesthood or the religious life. In so doing, you will strengthen a similar love and single-minded fidelity among those men and women who have already embraced the Lord’s call.

The canonization last year of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop is another great event in the life of the Church in Australia. Indeed, she is an example of holiness and dedication to Australians and to the Church throughout the world, especially to women religious and to all involved in the education of young people. In circumstances that were often very trying, Saint Mary remained steadfast, a loving spiritual mother to the women and children in her care, an innovative teacher of the young and an energetic role model for all concerned with excellence in education. She is rightly considered by her fellow Australians to be an example of personal goodness worthy of imitation. Saint Mary is now held up within the Church for her openness to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and for her zeal for the good of souls which drew many others to follow in her footsteps. Her vigorous faith, translated into dedicated and patient action, was her gift to Australia; her life of holiness is a wonderful gift of your country to the Church and to the world. May her example and prayers inspire the actions of parents, religious, teachers and others concerned with the good of children, with their protection from harm and with their sound education for a happy and prosperous future.

Saint Mary MacKillop’s courageous response to the difficulties she faced throughout her life can also inspire today’s Catholics as they confront the new evangelization and serious challenges to the spread of the Gospel in society as a whole. All the members of the Church need to be formed in their faith, from a sound catechesis for children, and religious education imparted in your Catholic schools, to much-needed catechetical programmes for adults. Clergy and religious must also be assisted and encouraged by an ongoing formation of their own, with a deepened spiritual life in the rapidly secularizing world around them. It is urgent to ensure that all those entrusted to your care understand, embrace and propose their Catholic faith intelligently and willingly to others. In this way, you, your clergy and your people will give such an account of your faith by word and example that it will be convincing and attractive. People of good will, seeing your witness, will respond naturally to the truth, the goodness and the hope that you embody.

It is true that yours is a pastoral burden which has been made heavier by the past sins and mistakes of others, most regrettably including some clergy and religious; but the task now falls to you to continue to repair the errors of the past with honesty and openness, in order to build, with humility and resolve, a better future for all concerned. I therefore encourage you to continue to be pastors of souls who, along with your clergy, are always prepared to go one step further in love and truth for the sake of the consciences of the flock entrusted to you (cf.
Mt 5,41), seeking to preserve them in holiness, to teach them humbly and to lead them irreproachably in the ways of the Catholic faith.

Finally, as Bishops, you are conscious of your special duty to care for the celebration of the liturgy. The new translation of the Roman Missal, which is the fruit of a remarkable cooperation of the Holy See, the Bishops and experts from all over the world, is intended to enrich and deepen the sacrifice of praise offered to God by his people. Help your clergy to welcome and to appreciate what has been achieved, so that they in turn may assist the faithful as everyone adjusts to the new translation. As we know, the sacred liturgy and its forms are written deeply in the heart of every Catholic. Make every effort to help catechists and musicians in their respective preparations to render the celebration of the Roman Rite in your Dioceses a moment of greater grace and beauty, worthy of the Lord and spiritually enriching for everyone. In this way, as in all your pastoral efforts, you will lead the Church in Australia towards her heavenly home under the sign of the Southern Cross.

With these thoughts, dear Brother Bishops, I renew to you my sentiments of affection and esteem, and I commend all of you to the intercession of Saint Mary MacKillop. Assuring you of my prayers for you and for those entrusted to your care, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of grace and peace in the Lord. Thank you.



Your Excellency,

In welcoming you to the Vatican and accepting the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Holy See, I wish first of all to express my gratitude to you for transmitting the courteous greeting of Her Majesty Queen Beatrix, and I would ask you kindly to reciprocate and to convey, in turn, my good wishes to her, as well as my appreciation of the cordial relations existing between the Holy See and your country.

Bilateral relations between a nation-state and the Holy See are clearly of a different character from those between nation-states. The Holy See is not an economic or military power. Yet as you yourself have indicated, its moral voice exerts considerable influence around the world. Among the reasons for this is precisely the fact that the Holy See’s moral stance is unaffected by the political or economic interests of a nation-state or the electoral concerns of a political party. Its contribution to international diplomacy consists largely in articulating the ethical principles that ought to underpin the social and political order, and in drawing attention to the need for action to remedy violations of such principles. It does so, evidently, from the standpoint of the Christian faith, but as I observed in my recent address to the German Parliament, Christianity has always pointed to reason and nature as the sources of the norms on which a state of law should be built (Address to the Bundestag, 22 September 2011). Hence the diplomatic dialogue in which the Holy See engages is conducted neither on confessional nor on pragmatic grounds but on the basis of universally applicable principles that are as real as the physical elements of the natural environment.

In acting as a voice for the voiceless and defending the rights of the defenceless, including the poor, the sick, the unborn, the elderly, and the members of minority groups who suffer unjust discrimination, the Church seeks always to promote natural justice as it is her right and duty to do. While recognizing with humility that her own members do not always live up to the high moral standards that she proposes, the Church cannot do other than continue to urge all people, her own members included, to seek to do whatever is in accordance with justice and right reason and to oppose whatever is contrary.

On this basis, I have no doubt that the Holy See and the Kingdom of the Netherlands have many areas of shared concern. Mr Ambassador, you have spoken of the need to promote global peace through just resolution of conflicts and through opposing the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. You underlined the need to foster development and to promote self-reliance in emerging countries. You mentioned the generous humanitarian response of the Dutch people when emergency aid is needed around the world. And you spoke of the need to defend human dignity. These and many other areas of international policy will continue to provide opportunities for fruitful exchanges between your country and the Holy See.

I am heartened also by your words about the Dutch Government’s intention to promote freedom of religion which, as you know, is a matter of particular concern to the Holy See at the present time. It is threatened not only by legal constraints in some parts of the world, but by an anti-religious mentality within many societies, even those where freedom of religion enjoys the protection of law. It is therefore greatly to be hoped that your Government will be vigilant, so that the freedom of religion and freedom of worship will continue to be protected and promoted, both at home and abroad.

I am likewise encouraged by the steps that the Dutch Government has taken to discourage drug abuse and prostitution. While your nation has long championed the freedom of individuals to make their own choices, nevertheless, those choices by which people inflict harm on themselves or others must be discouraged, for the good of individuals and society as a whole. Catholic social teaching, as you know, places great emphasis on the common good, as well as the integral good of individuals, and care is always needed to discern whether perceived rights are truly in accordance with those natural principles of which I spoke earlier.

With these sentiments, Your Excellency, I offer my best wishes for the success of your mission, and I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are always ready to provide help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you, your family and all the people of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.

CONCERT OFFERED BY "BAYERISCHE STAATSOPER" Paul VI Audience Hall Saturday, 22 October 2011


Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Hon. Ministers Dr Heubisch and Dr Spaenle,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

A sincere “thank you” goes to the Bayerischen Staatsorchester and to the Audi-Jugendchorakademie, to Maestro Kent Nagano and to the soloists for this great gift that they have given us. The splendid performance of two masterpieces by Anton Bruckner, the Te Deum and the Ninth Symphony, allowed us to become deeply immersed in the music of this great composer. Thank you to the Bavarian State Orchestra for offering this beautiful concert, and to all those who made this moment possible.

When on 11 October 1896, Bruckner died, he was still writing his Ninth Symphony, which he had begun nearly 10 years before. He felt, recalling Beethoven and Schubert, that it was his “symphonic testament” and actually — as we know — he never succeeded in completing the fourth movement, leaving his work unfinished. Bruckner’s symphonic style breaks with the classical model, as its musical theme is developed by the juxtaposition of large elaborate and complex sections that are not clearly defined, and often linked by simple connecting episodes, as well as by pauses.

Listening to Bruckner's music is like being in a great cathedral, observing its imposing structural framework surrounding and elevating us, which stirs up emotion. There is however an element that lies at the foundations of Bruckner's music, both the symphonic and the sacred: the simple, solid, genuine faith he professed throughout his life, to the point of wishing to be buried in the Abbey Church of St Florian, in the crypt under the massive organ he had played many times. Comparing him to another exponent of late Romanticism, the great conductor Bruno Walter used to say that: “Mahler always sought after God, whereas Bruckner had found him”.

The symphony we have just heard has a very specific title: Dem lieben Gott [To the Beloved God], almost as if he had wished to dedicate and entrust the last and most mature fruit of his art to the One in whom he had always believed, the One who had become his only true interlocutor to whom he turned in the last stage of his life.

And one feels a sense of expectation throughout the Symphony we heard: slow tempi open and guide us in a hidden, almost timeless dimension; from the first tempo, marked by the indication “Feierlich-mysteriously” to the adagio that opens grandly with the first violins. It develops rising progressively through a succession of bright moments, sudden silences, isolated timbres, and sonorous notes of the organ, from the chorus, to bursts of sound, melodious tones, until it reaches the paccata. The quiet radiant conclusion in E major.

It is significant that in this last tempo four notes are inserted in the miserere from the gloria of his Mass in D minor, and that there are echoes from the Benedictus from another Mass of his, the one in F minor.

Bruckner asked the good God to let him enter his mystery, to be able to ascend to his heights, so as to praise the Lord in heaven as he had done on earth with his music. Te Deum laudamus, Te Dominum confitemur: this great work we have just heard — written at one sitting then reworked over 15 years as if reconsidering how to thank and praise God better — sums up the faith of this great musician, repeated in the final great double fugue: In te, Domine speravi: non confundar in aeternum.

It is also a reminder for us to open our horizons and think of eternal life, not so as to escape the present, though burdened with problems and difficulties, but to experience it still more intensely, bringing a little light, hope and love into the reality in which we live.

Once again I would like to say a heartfelt Vergelt’s Gott (May God reward you), to Maestro Kent Nagano, the soloists, the Bayerischen Staatsorchester and to the Audi-Jugendchorakademie and to their Director, to the Bayerischen Staatsoper, to the collaborators and to all of you.

TO MEMBERS OF THE JOHN PAUL II FOUNDATION Clementine Hall Monday, 24 October 2011

Dear Cardinals,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thirty years ago, at the request of “some brothers and sisters who live in Poland or have emigrated from there but retain strong links with their land of origin”, my Predecessor Blessed John Paul II instituted in Vatican City a Foundation bearing his name, with the object of “promoting through their support, material and otherwise, initiatives of a religious, cultural, pastoral and charitable nature, and cultivating and reinforcing the traditional links between them and the Holy See” (Decree of Institution).

Today, members of the Foundation and friends from all over the world have chosen to celebrate this anniversary, giving thanks to the Lord for all the fruits that the various activities have produced in the course of three decades. I am pleased to be able to join you in this thanksgiving. I warmly greet all of you here today, especially Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former Secretary of the beloved Holy Father and one of the promoters of the Foundation, now its ex officio head as Archbishop of Cracow. I extend a cordial welcome to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, President of the Council of Administration, and I thank him for the words that he addressed to me. I greet Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, former President, as well as the distinguished Members of the Council, and together with them the Directors of the individual Institutions of the Foundation. Finally I extend a cordial greeting to all the members of the Circle of Friends of the Foundation dispersed throughout the continents. All who are present here represent the thousands of benefactors who continue to support the work of the Foundation financially and spiritually. I ask you to convey to all of them my greetings and my thanks.

As we read in the premise of the Statutes, “conscious of the greatness of the gift that the person and work of the Polish Pope represent for the Church, for the homeland and for the world, the Foundation seeks to conserve and develop this spiritual heritage, which it aims to transmit to future generations.” I know that this object is realized above all through the “Centre for the Documentation and Study of the Pontificate of John Paul II”, which not only collects archives, bibliographical material and museum items, but also promotes publications, exhibitions, congresses and other scientific and cultural events, in order to disseminate the teaching and the pastoral and humanitarian activity of the Blessed Pontiff. I trust that, through daily study of the sources and cooperation with bodies of similar character both in Rome and elsewhere, this Centre will become an ever more important point of reference for all who seek to know and appreciate the vast and rich heritage that he left us.

Affiliated to the Foundation, the Casa Giovanni Paolo II here in Rome, in collaboration with the noble Hospice of Saint Stanislaus, offers practical and spiritual assistance to pilgrims who come to the tombs of the Apostles so as to reinforce their faith and their union with the Pope and the universal Church. The Blessed Pontiff sought at every moment to bind the faithful not to himself, but ever more to Christ, to the Apostolic Tradition and to the Catholic community united to the episcopal college with the Pope as its head. I myself can experience the efficacy of these efforts, as I receive the love and spiritual support of so many people from all over the world who welcome me with affection as the Successor of Peter, called by the Lord to confirm them in the faith. I am grateful that the Foundation continues to cultivate this spirit of love that unites us in Christ.

One task of great human and cultural value, explicitly desired by John Paul II and undertaken by the Foundation, is that of assisting the “formation of the clergy and the laity, especially those from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe”. Every year, students arrive in Lublin, Warsaw and Cracow from countries which, in former times, suffered the ideological oppression of the Communist regime, in order to pursue studies in the various branches of science, so as to live new experiences, to encounter different spiritual traditions, and to broaden their cultural horizons. Then they return to their own countries, enriching the various sectors of social, economic, cultural, political and ecclesial life. More than 900 graduates is a precious gift for those nations. All this is possible thanks to the study bursaries and the spiritual and professional assistance guaranteed by the generosity of the Foundation. I hope that this work will continue, develop and bear abundant fruits.

My dear friends, one could list many more successes and many accomplishments of your Foundation. Yet I would like to underline one aspect of primary importance, over and above its immediate and visible effects. In association with the Foundation, there has evolved a spiritual union of thousands of people in various continents who not only support it materially, but constitute the Circles of Friends, communities of formation based on the teaching and the example of Blessed John Paul II. They do not limit themselves to a sentimental memory of the past, but they discern the needs of the present, they look to the future with solicitude and confidence, and they commit themselves to imbue the world more deeply with the spirit of solidarity and fraternity. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit who unites, enlightens and inspires you.

With a grateful heart, through the intercession of your Patron, Blessed John Paul II, I entrust the future of your Foundation to Divine Providence and I bless you from my heart.

Speeches 2005-13 15201