Speeches 2005-13 509



Monday, 7 November 2011

Your Excellency,
Distinguished Mr Ambassador,

It gives me great joy to welcome you on the occasion of the presentation of the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See. Thank you for your cordial words and I ask you, Your Excellency, to be so good as to convey my sincere gratitude to the Federal President, to the Federal Chancellor and to the members of the Federal Government. At the same time, I am eager to assure all my compatriots of my deep affection and good wishes.

We all have vividly before our eyes the joyful images of my Journey to Germany last September. The many demonstrations of sympathy and esteem shown to me on the various stages of my Visit, in Berlin, in Erfurt and in Etzelsbach, as well as in Freiburg, far surpassed expectations. I could see everywhere that people long for the truth. We Christians must witness to the truth, so as to give it expression in our personal, family and social life.

The official Visit of a Pope to Germany offers an opportunity for reflection on the type of service the Catholic Church and the Holy See can offer in a pluralist society, such as the current one in our homeland. Many of our contemporaries consider that the influence of Christianity, as well as of other religions, consists in giving shape to a specific culture and a specific lifestyle in society. A group of believers, through their behaviour, delineates certain forms of social life that others adopt, thereby impressing a specific character on society. This idea is not erroneous but does not fully convey the Catholic Church’s vision of herself. The Church, without a doubt, is also a cultural community and in this way influences the societies in which she is present; however, she is convinced that not only has she created common cultural aspects in different forms in various countries but also that she in turn has been shaped by their traditions.

Furthermore the Catholic Church is aware that through her faith she knows the truth about man and is therefore duty bound to stand up for the values that are valid for human beings as such, independently of the various cultures. She makes a distinction between the specificity of her faith and the truths of reason to which faith gives access and which are also accessible to the person as a person regardless of this faith.

Fortunately, a fundamental defence of all the universal human values became positive law in our Constitution of 1949 and in the declarations on human rights after the Second World War, because, after the horrors of the dictatorship, some people recognized their universal validity that is based on their anthropological truths and expressed them in effective rights. Today, the fundamental values of the human being, in which human dignity as such is questioned, are once again being debated. Here, over and above the area of her faith, the Church considers it her duty to defend in our society as a whole the truths and values in which the very dignity of man is at stake. Accordingly, to mention one particularly important point, we have no right to judge whether an individual is “already a person” or “still a person”, and even less is it up to us to manipulate the human being or even to wish to do so.

A society is truly human when without reservations it protects and respects the dignity of every person from conception until the moment of his or her natural death. However, should it decide to “get rid” of its members in the greatest need of protection, exclude people from being people, it would be behaving in a profoundly inhuman and also distorted manner with regard to the equality — obvious to every person of good will — of the dignity of all people, in all the stages of life.

If the Holy See intervenes in the legislative context with regard to fundamental questions of human dignity that are being brought up today in numerous areas of the prenatal existence of the human being, it does not do so to impose faith indirectly on others but rather to defend values that are fundamentally comprehensible to all as truths of existence, even if interests of another kind seek in various ways to obscure this consideration.

At this point I would like to tackle another disturbing aspect which, it seems, is spreading through material and hedonistic tendencies, especially in the countries of the so-called “Western world”, and that is, the sexual discrimination of women. Every person, whether man or woman, is destined to exist for others. A relationship that fails to respect the fact that men and women have the same dignity constitutes a grave crime against humanity. It is time to vigorously put a stop to prostitution, as well as to the widespread dissemination of material with an erotic or a pornographic content, also on the internet. The Holy See will ensure that the commitment of the Catholic Church in Germany to oppose these evils is implemented in the most decisive and clear way.

With regard to the many years of cordial relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Holy See, we can note many good results. It is fortunate that the Catholic Church in Germany is well equipped for action, that she can proclaim the Gospel freely and help people in the context of numerous charitable and social structures. I am truly grateful for the material support given to this work by the Federal, Regional and Municipal Institutions. Among the many aspects of the positive and appreciable collaboration between the State and the Catholic Church, I wish to mention, for example, the safeguarding of the ecclesiastical labour law by state law, as well as the support offered to Catholic schools and Catholic institutions in the context of charity whose work ultimately furthers the well-being of all citizens.

Esteemed Ambassador, I wish you a good beginning of your mission and every success in this task. At the same time, I assure you of my help in the service you are carrying out and of the availability of the representatives of the Roman Curia. I warmly invoke upon you, upon your wife and upon your collaborators at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See God’s constant protection and his abundant blessings.


Wednesday, 9 November 2011
Esteemed and dear Mr Mayor,
Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
Dear Friends of Natz-Schabs,

I can only say a heartfelt “Vergelt’s Gott” [may God reward you] for the great honour that you have given me, now an honorary citizen of your Municipality and, therefore, at home with you, also from a legal and statistical viewpoint. Thank you for the beautiful picture you have given me; now I can always “stroll” through your Municipality and, in this way, feel at home even though I fear that it will not be possible for me to come there again in person, but I shall only be able to look at Natz-Schabs from above. However in my heart I am with you and I am truly pleased with this gift you have given me.

South Tyrol is a special land and it was impressed on my heart through my mother’s stories. I, myself, was unable to meet my great-grandmother and my grandmother died when I was three years old. However many stories about her have lived on, especially the fact that throughout her life she was homesick for South Tyrol and inwardly never felt at home in Bavaria. During her final illness she said: “If only I could have a bucket of water from my house, I would certainly recover!”. She could not recover but lived on the “waters” of her homeland and because of this she had a difficult life, but at the same time a full and rich one.

This reminds me of another little story. As a girl, my mother worked for the Kufstein family. There she found a friend, who eventually married a baker, whom I also met as a child. She loved this friend who often said to her: “Mariedl, you should know that the angels ‘made’ the Tyrol!”. Our mother kept this saying as a kind of testament and handed it down to us too. She was deeply convinced that this was true. Then in 1940, when I was 13 years old, my two siblings and I went to North Tyrol on a bike trip and we were able to confirm that it was true that the angels had made the land.

In the 1950s I also went to South Tyrol where I could perceive that special closeness to God that is expressed in the beauty of these lands. However it did not become so beautiful thanks to Creation alone but also because of the people who responded to the Creator. If we think of the Gothic bell towers, the beautiful houses, the kindness and friendliness of the people, and the fine music, we know that the people responded and through the collaboration of the Creator, his angels and men and women, it became a very beautiful land, an extraordinarily splendid land. I am very proud and happy to be part of it, in one way or another.

My wish at this moment is that it will remain such. Mr Mayor, you said that the church still stands in the middle of the town and expresses the communion that keeps people united. At the same time, it is also a sign of openness. It opens the community beyond the valley to all of Christianity, to the world, and leads people to assume their common responsibility. Therefore my hope is that it may remain the same: that nature, creation and the existence of people be gathered in a single harmony; that faith be a herald of joy and help in overcoming difficult situations too. My great-grandmother left, I believe, because her home was threatened by the waters.

I also hope the strength may be born to maintain this land forever anew, every generation should make a fresh start — as beautiful as it is — beautiful from the inside. Therefore may it stay a homeland that helps people live their human lives correctly.

Vergelt’s Gott” in everything, and may God’s blessing be upon you all!

TO THE MEMBERS OF THE ISRAELI RELIGIOUS COUNCIL Hall of Popes Thursday, 10 November 2011

Your Beatitude,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Friends,

It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you, the members of the Israeli Religious Council, representing as you do the religious communities present in the Holy Land, and I thank you for the kind words addressed to me in the name of all present.

In our troubled times, dialogue between different religions is becoming ever more important in the generation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect that can lead to friendship and solid trust in each other. This is pressing for the religious leaders of the Holy Land who, while living in a place full of memories sacred to our traditions, are tested daily by the difficulties of living together in harmony.

As I remarked in my recent meeting with religious leaders at Assisi, today we find ourselves confronted by two kinds of violence: on the one hand, the use of violence in the name of religion and, on the other, the violence that is the consequence of the denial of God which often characterises life in modern society. In this situation, as religious leaders we are called to reaffirm that the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for peace. This is a truth that must become ever more visible in the way in which we live with each other on a daily basis. Hence, I wish to encourage you to foster a climate of trust and dialogue among the leaders and members of all the religious traditions present in the Holy Land.

We share a grave responsibility to educate the members of our respective religious communities, with a view to nurturing a deeper understanding of each other and developing an openness towards cooperation with people of religious traditions other than our own. Unfortunately, the reality of our world is often fragmentary and flawed, even in the Holy Land. All of us are called to commit ourselves anew to the promotion of greater justice and dignity, in order to enrich our world and to give it a fully human dimension. Justice, together with truth, love and freedom, is a fundamental requirement for lasting and secure peace in the world. Movement towards reconciliation requires courage and vision, as well as the trust that it is God himself who will show us the way. We cannot achieve our goals if God does not give us the strength to do so.

When I visited Jerusalem in May 2009, I stood in front of the Western Wall and, in my written prayer placed between the stones of the Wall, I asked God for peace in the Holy Land. I wrote: "God of all ages, on my visit to Jerusalem, the ‘City of Peace’, spiritual home to Jews, Christians and Muslims alike, I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the inspirations, the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the world. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hear the cry of the afflicted, the fearful, the bereft; send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of all who call upon your name to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion. ‘The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him!’” (Lm 3,25).

May the Lord hear my prayer for Jerusalem today and fill your hearts with joy during your visit to Rome. May he hear the prayer of all men and women who ask him for the peace of Jerusalem. Indeed, let us never cease praying for the peace of the Holy Land, with confidence in God who himself is our peace and consolation. Entrusting you and those whom you represent to the Almighty's merciful care, I willingly invoke upon all of you divine blessings of joy and peace.


Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends,

I am grateful for the opportunity to greet you as you meet under the auspices of the Pontifical Council “Cor Unum” in this European Year of Volunteering.

Let me begin by thanking Cardinal Robert Sarah for the kind words he has addressed to me on your behalf. I would also like to express my deep gratitude to you and, by extension, to the millions of Catholic volunteers who contribute, regularly and generously, to the Church’s charitable mission throughout the world. At the present time, marked as it is by crisis and uncertainty, your commitment is a reason for confidence, since it shows that goodness exists and that it is growing in our midst. The faith of all Catholics is surely strengthened when they see the good that is being done in the name of Christ (cf. Philem Phm 6).

For Christians, volunteer work is not merely an expression of good will. It is based on a personal experience of Christ. He was the first to serve humanity, he freely gave his life for the good of all. That gift was not based on our merits. From this we learn that God gives us himself. More than that: Deus Caritas est – God is love, to quote a phrase from the First Letter of Saint John (4:8) which I employed as the title of my first Encyclical Letter. The experience of God’s generous love challenges us and liberates us to adopt the same attitude towards our brothers and sisters: “You received with paying, give without pay” (Mt 10,8). We experience this especially in the Eucharist when the Son of God, in the breaking of bread, brings together the vertical dimension of his divine gift with the horizontal dimension of our service to our brothers and sisters.

Christ’s grace helps us to discover within ourselves a human desire for solidarity and a fundamental vocation to love. His grace perfects, strengthens and elevates that vocation and enables us to serve others without reward, satisfaction or any recompense. Here we see something of the grandeur of our human calling: to serve others with the same freedom and generosity which characterizes God himself. We also become visible instruments of his love in a world that still profoundly yearns for that love amid the poverty, loneliness, marginalization and ignorance that we see all around us.

Of course, Catholic volunteer work cannot respond to all these needs, but that does not discourage us. Nor should we let ourselves be seduced by ideologies that want to change the world according to a purely human vision. The little that we manage to do to relieve human needs can be seen as a good seed that will grow and bear much fruit; it is a sign of Christ’s presence and love which, like the tree in the Gospel, grows to give shelter, protection and strength to all who require it.

This is the nature of the witness which you, in all humility and conviction, offer to civil society. While it is the duty of public authority to acknowledge and to appreciate this contribution without distorting it, your role as Christians is to take an active part in the life of society, seeking to make it ever more humane, ever more marked by authentic freedom, justice and solidarity.

Our meeting today takes place on the liturgical memorial of Saint Martin of Tours. Often portrayed sharing his mantle with a poor man, Martin became a model of charity throughout Europe and indeed the whole world. Nowadays, volunteer work as a service of charity has become a universally recognized element of our modern culture. Nonetheless, its origins can still be seen in the particularly Christian concern for safeguarding, without discrimination, the dignity of the human person created in the image and likeness of God. If these spiritual roots are denied or obscured and the criteria of our collaboration become purely utilitarian, what is most distinctive about the service you provide risks being lost, to the detriment of society as a whole.

Dear friends, I would like to conclude by encouraging young people to discover in volunteer work a way to grow in the self-giving love which gives life its deepest meaning. Young people readily react to the call of love. Let us help them to hear Christ who makes his call felt in their hearts and draws them closer to himself. We must not be afraid to set before them a radical and life-changing challenge, helping them to learn that our hearts are made to love and be loved. It is in self-giving that we come to live life in all its fullness.

With these sentiments, I renew my gratitude to all of you and to all those whom you represent. I ask God to watch over your many works of service and to make them ever more spiritually fruitful, for the good of the Church and of the whole world. To you and your associates I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Dear Brother Bishops,
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Guests,
Dear Friends,

I wish to thank Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Pontifical Council for Culture, for his kind words and for promoting this International Conference on Adult Stem Cells: Science and the Future of Man and Culture. I would also like to thank Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Care of Health Workers, and Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life for their contribution to this particular endeavour. A special word of gratitude goes to the many benefactors whose support has made this event possible. In this regard, I would like to express the Holy See’s appreciation of all the work that is done, by various institutions, to promote cultural and formative initiatives aimed at supporting top-level scientific research on adult stem cells and exploring the cultural, ethical and anthropological implications of their use.

Scientific research provides a unique opportunity to explore the wonder of the universe, the complexity of nature and the distinctive beauty of life, including human life. But since human beings are endowed with immortal souls and are created in the image and likeness of God, there are dimensions of human existence that lie beyond the limits of what the natural sciences are competent to determine. If these limits are transgressed, there is a serious risk that the unique dignity and inviolability of human life could be subordinated to purely utilitarian considerations. But if instead these limits are duly respected, science can make a truly remarkable contribution to promoting and safeguarding the dignity of man: indeed herein lies its true utility. Man, the agent of scientific research, will sometimes, in his biological nature, form the object of that research. Nevertheless, his transcendent dignity entitles him always to remain the ultimate beneficiary of scientific research and never to be reduced to its instrument.

In this sense, the potential benefits of adult stem cell research are very considerable, since it opens up possibilities for healing chronic degenerative illnesses by repairing damaged tissue and restoring its capacity for regeneration. The improvement that such therapies promise would constitute a significant step forward in medical science, bringing fresh hope to sufferers and their families alike. For this reason, the Church naturally offers her encouragement to those who are engaged in conducting and supporting research of this kind, always with the proviso that it be carried out with due regard for the integral good of the human person and the common good of society.

This proviso is most important. The pragmatic mentality that so often influences decision-making in the world today is all too ready to sanction whatever means are available in order to attain the desired end, despite ample evidence of the disastrous consequences of such thinking. When the end in view is one so eminently desirable as the discovery of a cure for degenerative illnesses, it is tempting for scientists and policy-makers to brush aside ethical objections and to press ahead with whatever research seems to offer the prospect of a breakthrough. Those who advocate research on embryonic stem cells in the hope of achieving such a result make the grave mistake of denying the inalienable right to life of all human beings from the moment of conception to natural death. The destruction of even one human life can never be justified in terms of the benefit that it might conceivably bring to another. Yet, in general, no such ethical problems arise when stem cells are taken from the tissues of an adult organism, from the blood of the umbilical cord at the moment of birth, or from fetuses who have died of natural causes (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Instruction Dignitas Personae, 32).

It follows that dialogue between science and ethics is of the greatest importance in order to ensure that medical advances are never made at unacceptable human cost. The Church contributes to this dialogue by helping to form consciences in accordance with right reason and in the light of revealed truth. In so doing she seeks, not to impede scientific progress, but on the contrary to guide it in a direction that is truly fruitful and beneficial to humanity. Indeed, it is her conviction that everything human, including scientific research, “is not only received and respected by faith, but is also purified, elevated and perfected” (ibid., 7). In this way science can be helped to serve the common good of all mankind, with a particular regard for the weakest and most vulnerable.

In drawing attention to the needs of the defenceless, the Church thinks not only of the unborn but also of those without easy access to expensive medical treatment. Illness is no respecter of persons, and justice demands that every effort be made to place the fruits of scientific research at the disposal of all who stand to benefit from them, irrespective of their means. In addition to purely ethical considerations, then, there are issues of a social, economic and political nature that need to be addressed in order to ensure that advances in medical science go hand in hand with just and equitable provision of health-care services. Here the Church is able to offer concrete assistance through her extensive health-care apostolate, active in so many countries across the globe and directed with particular solicitude to the needs of the world’s poor.

Dear friends, as I conclude my remarks, I want to assure you of a special remembrance in prayer andI commend to the intercession of Mary, Salus Infirmorum, all of you who work so hard to bring healing and hope to those who suffer. I pray that your commitment to adult stem cell research will bring great blessings for the future of man and genuine enrichment to his culture. To you, your families and your collaborators, as well as to all the patients who stand to benefit from your generous expertise and the results of your work, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you very much!



Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, we welcome you among us, among this group of journalists accompanying you on your way to Africa. We are very grateful to you for devoting some of your time to us once again. Here, on this aeroplane, there are around forty journalists, photographers and cameramen from various agencies and television companies, then there are also the Vatican media operators travelling with you: around fifty persons. In Cotonou, about a thousand journalists are waiting for us, and they will be following the journey in situ. As usual, we are going to ask you some questions that have been put together in recent days among our colleagues. The first question I shall address to you in French, as it occurs to me that this would be welcomed by listeners and viewers in Benin, who will be able to follow the interview once we have arrived.

Father Lombardi: Holy Father, this journey takes us to Benin. But it is a very important journey for the whole of the African continent. What made you think Benin would be the right country for a message addressed to the whole of Africa, for today and for the future?

Holy Father: There are a number of reasons. The first is that Benin is a country at peace, both externally and internally. There are well-functioning democratic institutions, established in a spirit of freedom and responsibility, and so justice and work for the common good are possible and guaranteed by the functioning of the democratic institutions and the sense of responsibility in freedom. The second reason is that, as in most African countries, there are different religions present, and they coexist peacefully. There are Christians of different confessions – which is not always easy, there are Muslims, and finally there are the traditional religions, and all three of these different religions live side by side in mutual respect with a shared responsibility for peace, for interior and exterior reconciliation. It seems to me that this coexistence of religions, where interreligious dialogue fosters peace and freedom, is very important, and it is also an important element of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation. And finally, the third reason is that it is the country of my dear friend Cardinal Bernardin Gantin. I have always wanted, one day, to pray at his tomb. He was really a great friend – perhaps I will speak of him at the end, and so to visit the country of Cardinal Gantin, a great representative of Catholic Africa, and of African civilization at its most humane, is a further reason for me to go to Benin.

Father Lombardi: While Africans are experiencing the weakening of their traditional communities, the Catholic Church finds herself faced with the increasing success of Evangelical or Pentecostal Churches, which sometimes spring up spontaneously in Africa. They offer an attractive faith, and a great simplification of the Christian message: they emphasize healings, and they mix their rituals with those of the traditional religions. What stance does the Catholic Church adopt towards these communities, which are so aggressive towards her? And how can the Church be attractive, when these communities portray themselves as festive, warm or inculturated?

Holy Father: These communities are a worldwide phenomenon, found in all continents. In particular, they have a strong presence, in different forms, in Latin America and in Africa. I would say that the characteristic elements are minimal institutional character, few institutions, lightweight teaching, a straightforward message, simple, easily grasped, apparently concrete and then – as you say – a participative liturgy with the expression of personal emotions and of the native culture, with combinations of different religions, sometimes in a syncretistic way. All this, on the one hand, guarantees success, but it also implies instability. We also know that many people come back to the Catholic Church or else migrate from one of these communities to another. Hence, we must not imitate these communities, but we must ask what we can do to give fresh vitality to the Catholic faith. And I would say that an initial point is certainly a simple, profound, easily grasped message; it is important that Christianity should not come across as a difficult European system that others cannot understand and put into practice, but as a universal message that there is a God, a God who matters [to us], a God who knows us and loves us, and that concrete religion stimulates cooperation and fraternity. So, a simple concrete message is very important. Another very important point is that the institution should never be too heavy, that is to say, the initiative of the community and of the individual should be predominant. And I would also say that a participative but not emotional liturgy is needed: it must not be based merely on the expression of emotions, but should be characterized by the presence of the mystery into which we enter, by which we are formed. And finally, I would say, it is important for inculturation not to lose universality. I would prefer to speak of interculturalism, rather than inculturation, that is, a meeting of cultures within the shared truth of our humanity and our era, giving rise to a growth in universal fraternity; we must not lose the great gift of catholicity, meaning that in every part of the world we are brothers, we are a family, knowing one another and working together in a spirit of fraternity.

Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, in recent decades Africa has seen many peace-keeping operations, conferences for national reconstruction, truth and reconciliation commissions with results that are sometimes good and sometimes disappointing. During the Synodal Assembly, the bishops spoke forcefully about the responsibility of politicians for the problems of the continent. What message do you intend to address to Africa’s political leaders, and what is the specific contribution that the Church can make to the building of lasting peace on the continent?

Holy Father: The message is contained in the text that I shall consign to the Church in Africa: I cannot summarize it now, in a few words. It is true that there have been a great many international conferences specifically about Africa, for universal fraternity. Good things have been said, and sometimes good things have actually been done: we must acknowledge this. But without any doubt, words loom larger, good intentions and good will are more conspicuous than real results, and we must ask ourselves why the reality does not match the words and the intentions. A fundamental factor, it seems to me, is that this renewal, this universal fraternity demands sacrifice, it demands that people move beyond selfishness and live for others. This is easy to say, but hard to accomplish. Man, in consequence of original sin, wants to possess himself, to possess life, and not to give his life. Whatever I have, I want to keep. But if this is my attitude, if I want not to give but to possess, then of course good intentions lead nowhere. Indeed it is only through love and knowledge of a God who loves us and gives to us that we can arrive at the point where we dare to lose our lives and give ourselves, knowing that this is how we stand to gain. So the contents of today’s Synod document are concerned with this fundamental position: by loving God and by living in friendship with this God who gives himself, we too can dare to give, we can implore the grace to give, not just to possess; to sacrifice, to be there for others, to lose our lives in the certitude that in this way, we truly gain.

Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, at the opening of the African Synod in Rome, you spoke of Africa as a great “spiritual lung for a humanity that appears to be in a crisis of faith and hope”. Bearing in mind Africa’s great problems, this expression seems almost disconcerting. In what sense do you really think that Africa can be a source of faith and hope for the world? Do you also see a role for Africa in the evangelization of the rest of the world?

Holy Father: Of course Africa has great problems and difficulties, the whole of mankind has great problems. If I think back to my youth, the world then was totally different from the world today, and sometimes I think I am living on a different planet from the one I knew as a boy. Man is caught up in a process of transformation that is getting faster all the time. For Africa over the last 50-60 years – from independence, after the colonial era, up to the present – this process has been very demanding, and of course it has been very difficult, there have been great difficulties and problems, and they are not solved yet. As mankind moves forward, so do the difficulties. Yet the freshness of Africa’s yes to life and the youthfulness that is found there, so full of enthusiasm and hope as well as humour and liveliness, show us that Africa has a reserve of humanity, there is still a freshness about its religious sense and its hope; there is still a perception of metaphysical reality, total reality, including God: not this reduction to positivism, that constricts our life and makes it somewhat dry, extinguishing hope in the process. So I would say that the fresh humanism found in Africa’s young soul, despite all the problems of today and tomorrow, shows that Africa still has a reserve of life and vitality for the future, on which we can depend.

Father Lombardi: One final question, Your Holiness, let us go back for a moment to a point that you mentioned among the reasons for this journey to Benin: we know that a very important place in this journey belongs to the figure of the late Cardinal Gantin. You knew him very well: he was your predecessor as Dean of the Sacred College, and he was universally held in great esteem. Would you like to offer us a brief personal testimony about him?

Holy Father: I first set eyes on Cardinal Gantin at my ordination as Archbishop of Munich in 1977. He had come because one of his students had studied with me: so there was already a notional friendship between us, even though we had yet to meet. On that crucial day of my episcopal ordination, I was very pleased to meet this young African bishop, so full of faith, joy and courage. Later we worked together a great deal, especially when he was Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and then in the Sacred College. I always admired his practical and profound intelligence; his sense of discernment, of not resorting to stock phrases, but understanding what was the essential point and what made no sense. And then his real sense of humour, which was very fine. Above all he was a man of deep faith and prayer. All this made Cardinal Gantin not just a friend, but also an example to follow, a great African bishop, a great Catholic. I am truly glad to have the opportunity now to pray at his tomb and to feel his closeness and his great faith, which for me makes him a constant example and friend.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Holy Father. If I may, I will just add that “your student” who invited Cardinal Gantin is present with us today on this journey: he is Monsignor Barthélémy Adoukounou and he too is present for this beautiful occasion. Finally, we thank you for giving us your time. We wish you a good journey, and as usual, we will aim to work together to communicate your messages for Africa over the coming days. Thank you again, and we will see you again soon.

Speeches 2005-13 509