Speeches 2005-13 23132
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Distinguished Civil Authorities,
Beloved People of Guanajuato and of Mexico,
I am very happy to be here, and I give thanks to God for allowing me to realize the desire, kept in my heart for a long time, to confirm in the faith the People of God of this great nation in their own land. The affection of the Mexican people for the Successor of Peter, whom they always remember in their prayers, is well known. I say this here, considered to be the geographical centre of your land, which my venerable predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, wanted to visit during his first Apostolic Journey. Although he was not able to come, on that occasion he left a message of encouragement while flying over its airspace. I am happy to repeat his words here on land among you: “I am grateful”, he said in the message, “to the faithful of El Bajío and Guanajuato for your affection towards the Pope and your faithfulness to the Lord. May God be with you always” (cf. Telegram, 30 January 1979).
With this in mind, I offer my thanks to you, Mister President, for your warm welcome and I respectfully greet your wife and the rest of the civil authorities who have honoured me by their presence. I offer a special greeting to the Most Reverend José Guadalupe Martín Rábago, Archbishop of León, and to the Most Reverend Carlos Aguiar Retes, Archbishop of Tlalnepantla and President of the Mexican Episcopal Conference and the Latin America Episcopal Council. With this brief visit, I wish to greet all Mexicans and to include all the nations and peoples of Latin America, represented here by many Bishops. Our meeting in this place, where the majestic monument to Christ the King on Mount Cubilete, gives testimony to the deep roots of the Catholic faith among the Mexican people, who receive his constant blessings in all their vicissitudes.
Mexico, and the majority of Latin American nations, have been commemorating in recent years the bicentennial of their independence. There have been many religious celebrations in thanksgiving to God for this important and significant moment. During these celebrations, as in the Mass in Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome on the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Most Holy Mary was invoked fervently, she who gently showed how the Lord loves all people and gave himself for them without distinction. Our Heavenly Mother has kept vigil over the faith of her children in the formation of these nations and she continues to do so today as new challenges present themselves.
I come as a pilgrim of faith, of hope, and of love. I wish to confirm those who believe in Christ in their faith, by strengthening and encouraging them to revitalize their faith by listening to the Word of God, celebrating the sacraments and living coherently. In this way, they will be able to share their faith with others as missionaries to their brothers and sisters and to act as a leaven in society, contributing to a respectful and peaceful coexistence based on the incomparable dignity of every human being, created by God, which no one has the right to forget or disregard. This dignity is expressed especially in the fundamental right to freedom of religion, in its full meaning and integrity.
As a pilgrim of hope, I speak to them in the words of Saint Paul: “But we would not have you ignorant, brethren, concerning those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (1Th 4,13). Confidence in God offers the certainty of meeting him, of receiving his grace; the believer’s hope is based on this. And, aware of this, we strive to transform the present structures and events which are less than satisfactory and seem immovable or insurmountable, while also helping those who do not see meaning or a future in life. Yes, hope changes the practical existence of each man and woman in a real way (cf. Spe Salvi ). Hope points to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Ap 21,1), that is already making visible some of its reflections. Moreover, when it takes root in a people, when it is shared, it shines as light that dispels the darkness which blinds and takes hold of us. This country and the entire continent are called to live their hope in God as a profound conviction, transforming it into an attitude of the heart and a practical commitment to walk together in the building of a better world. As I said in Rome, “continue progressing untiringly in the building of a society founded upon the development of the good, the triumph of love and the spread of justice” (Homily, 12 December 2011).
Together with faith and hope, the believer in Christ – indeed the whole Church – lives and practises charity as an essential element of mission. In its primary meaning, charity “is first of all the simple response to immediate needs and specific situations” (Deus Caritas Est ), as we help those who suffer from hunger, lack shelter, or are in need in some way in their life. Nobody is excluded on account of their origin or belief from this mission of the Church, which does not compete with other private or public initiatives. In fact, the Church willingly works with those who pursue the same ends. Nor does she have any aim other than doing good in an unselfish and respectful way to those in need, who often lack signs of authentic love.
Mister President, my dear friends: in these days I will pray to the Lord and to Our Lady of Guadalupe for all of you so that you may be true to the faith which you have received and to its best traditions. I will pray especially for those in need, particularly for those who suffer because of old and new rivalries, resentments and all forms of violence. I know that I am in a country which is proud of its hospitality and wishes no one to feel unwelcome. I already knew this, and now I can see it and feel it in my heart. I sincerely hope that many Mexicans who live far from their homeland will feel the same way and that nothing will cause them to forget it or to lose the wish to see its growth in harmony and in authentic integral development. Thank you!
(From the balcony of the house of Count Rul)
Dear Young People,
I am happy to be able to meet with you and to see your smiling faces as you fill this beautiful square. You have a very special place in the Pope’s heart. And in these moments, I would like all the children of Mexico to know this, especially those who have to bear the burden of suffering, abandonment, violence or hunger, which in recent months, because of drought, has made itself strongly felt in some regions. I am grateful for this encounter of faith, and for the festive and joyful presence expressed in song. Today we are full of jubilation, and this is important. God wants us to be happy always. He knows us and he loves us. If we allow the love of Christ to change our heart, then we can change the world. This is the secret of authentic happiness.
This place where we stand today has a name which expresses the yearning present in the heart of each and every person: “la paz”, Peace. This is a gift which comes from on high. “Peace be with you” (Jn 20,21). These are the words of the Risen Lord. We hear them during each Mass, and today they resound anew in this place, with the hope that each one of you will be transformed, becoming a sower and messenger of that peace for which Christ offered his life.
The disciple of Jesus does not respond to evil with evil, but is always an instrument of good instead, a herald of pardon, a bearer of happiness, a servant of unity. He wishes to write in each of your lives a story of friendship. Hold on to him, then, as the best of friends. He will never tire of speaking to those who always love and who do good. This you will hear, if you strive in each moment to be with him who will help you in more difficult situations.
I have come that you may know my affection. Each one of you is a gift of God to Mexico and to the world. Your family, the Church, your school and those who have responsibility in society must work together to ensure that you receive a better world as your inheritance, without jealousies and divisions.
That is why I wish to lift up my voice, inviting everyone to protect and to care for children, so that nothing may extinguish their smile, but that they may live in peace and look to the future with confidence.
You, my dear young friends, are not alone. You can count on the help of Christ and his Church in order to live a Christian lifestyle. Participate in Sunday Mass, in catechesis, in apostolic works, looking for occasions of prayer, fraternity and charity. Blessed Cristóbal, Antonio and Juan, the child martyrs of Tlaxcala, lived this way, and knowing Jesus, during the time of the initial evangelization of Mexico, they discovered that there is no greater treasure than he. They were children like you, and from them we can learn that we are never too young to love and serve.
How I would like to spend more time with all of you, but the time has already come for me to go. We will remain close in prayer. So I invite you to pray continually, even in your homes; in this way, you will experience the happiness of speaking about God with your families. Pray for everyone, and also for me. I will pray for all of you, so that Mexico may be a place in which everyone can live in serenity and harmony. I bless all of you from my heart and I ask you to bring the affection and blessing of the Pope to your parents, brothers and sisters, and other loved ones. May the Virgin accompany you. Thank you very much, my dear young friends.
Dear friends, thank you very much for your enthusiasm. I am so happy to be with you. I have accomplished many journeys but I have never been received with so much enthusiasm. I will bring with me, in my heart, the impression of these days. Mexico will always be in my heart. I can say that for years I have been praying every day for Mexico, but in the future I will pray much more. Now I can understand why Pope John Paul II said: “I feel I am a Mexican Pope”.
Dear friends, although I am very happy with this encounter you must forgive me if I leave since tomorrow will be a demanding day. I conclude this day with my blessing: May Almighty God bless you, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Buenas noches! (Good Night!)
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Mexican friends,
My brief but intense visit to Mexico is now coming to an end. Yet this is not the end of my affection and my closeness to a country so very dear to me. I leave full of unforgettable experiences, not the least of which are the innumerable courtesies and signs of affection which I have received. With all my heart I thank the President for his kind words to me, and for all that the authorities have done for this memorable Journey. And I thank the many people who have helped, even in the smallest details, to make the events of these days go smoothly. I beg the Lord that all these efforts may not be in vain, and that with his help, they may produce abundant and long-lasting fruits in the life of faith, hope and charity of León and Guanajuato, in Mexico and the other countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.
Recognizing the faith in Jesus Christ which I have felt resounding in your hearts, and your affectionate devotion to his Mother, invoked here with beautiful titles like Our Lady of Guadalupe and Our Lady of Light, a light I have seen reflected in your faces, I wish to reiterate clearly and with vigour a plea to the Mexican people to remain faithful to yourselves, not to let yourselves be intimidated by the powers of evil, but to be valiant and to work to ensure that the sap of your Christian roots may nourish your present and your future.
I have also seen for myself expressions of concern for various aspects of the life in this beloved country, some more recent and others longstanding, which continue to cause such great distress. I take them with me as well, as I share in the joys and the suffering of my Mexican brothers and sisters, so as to place them in prayer at the foot of the Cross, in the heart of Christ, from which flow the blood and water of redemption.
In these circumstances, I strongly urge Mexican Catholics, and all men and women of good will, not to yield to a utilitarian mentality which always leads to the sacrifice of the weakest and most defenceless. I invite you to a common effort so that society can be renewed from the ground up, in order to attain a life of dignity, justice and peace for everyone. For Catholics, this contribution to the common good is also a requirement of that essential dimension of the Gospel which is human promotion and a supreme expression of charity. For this reason, the Church exhorts all her faithful to be good citizens, conscious of their responsibility to be concerned for the good of all, both in their personal lives and throughout society.
Dear Mexican friends, I say to you “Adios!” in the traditional sense of this fine Hispanic expression: remain with God! Yes, “Adios!”; for ever in the love of Christ, in which we meet each other and will again meet with one another. May the Lord bless you and may Mary Most Holy protect you! Thank you!
Dear Cardinals and Brother Bishops,
Members of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear People of Cuba,
Thank you, Mr President, for your welcome and your kind words, with which you also conveyed the sentiments of respect of the Cuban government and people for the Successor of Peter. I greet the civil authorities here present, as well as the members of the diplomatic corps. I cordially greet the President of the Episcopal Conference, Archbishop Dionisio Guillermo García Ibáñez of Santiago de Cuba; the Archbishop of Havana, Cardinal Jaime Ortega y Alamino, and my other Brother Bishops of Cuba, and I assure them of my deep spiritual closeness. Finally, I greet with heartfelt affection all the faithful of the Catholic Church in Cuba, the beloved people of this beautiful island, and all Cubans wherever they may be. You are always present in my heart and prayers, especially in the days preceding the much anticipated moment of my visit to you, which the grace and goodness of God has made possible.
Standing here among you, I cannot but recall the historic visit to Cuba of my predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, who left an indelible mark on the soul of all Cubans. For many, whether believers or not, his example and his teachings are a luminous guide for their personal lives and their public activity in the service of the common good of the nation. His visit to this island was like a gentle breath of fresh air which gave new strength to the Church in Cuba, awakening in many a renewed awareness of the importance of faith and inspiring them to open their hearts to Christ, while at the same time kindling their hope and encouraging their desire to work fearlessly for a better future. One of the important fruits of that visit was the inauguration of a new phase in the relationship in Cuba between Church and State, in a new spirit of cooperation and trust, even if many areas remain in which greater progress can and ought to be made, especially as regards the indispensable public contribution that religion is called to make in the life of society.
I am pleased to share your joy as you celebrate the four hundredth anniversary of the discovery of the holy statue of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre. Since the beginning she has been very much present in the personal lives of Cubans as well as in the great events of the nation, especially since independence, for she is honoured by all as the true mother of the Cuban people. Devotion to the Virgen Mambisa has sustained the faith and inspired the defence and promotion of all that gives dignity to the human condition and its fundamental rights, and continues to do so today with ever greater strength, giving visible witness to the fruitfulness of the preaching of the Gospel in these lands, and to the profound Christian roots which shape the deepest identity of the Cuban soul. Following in the footsteps of countless pilgrims down the centuries, I too wish to go to El Cobre to kneel at the feet of the Mother of God, to thank her for her concern for all her Cuban children, and to ask her to guide the future of this beloved nation in the ways of justice, peace, freedom and reconciliation.
I come to Cuba as a pilgrim of charity, to confirm my brothers and sisters in the faith and strengthen them in the hope which is born of the presence of God’s love in our lives. I carry in my heart the just aspirations and legitimate desires of all Cubans, wherever they may be, their sufferings and their joys, their concerns and their noblest desires, those of the young and the elderly, of adolescents and children, of the sick and workers, of prisoners and their families, and of the poor and those in need.
Many parts of the world today are experiencing a time of particular economic difficulty, that not a few people regard as part of a profound spiritual and moral crisis which has left humanity devoid of values and defenceless before the ambition and selfishness of certain powers which take little account of the true good of individuals and families. We can no longer continue in the same cultural and moral direction which has caused the painful situation that many suffer. On the other hand, real progress calls for an ethics which focuses on the human person and takes account of the most profound human needs, especially man’s spiritual and religious dimension. In the hearts and minds of many, the way is thus opening to an ever greater certainty that the rebirth of society demands upright men and women of firm moral convictions, with noble and strong values who will not be manipulated by dubious interests and who are respectful of the unchanging and transcendent nature of the human person.
Dear friends, I am convinced that Cuba, at this moment of particular importance in its history, is already looking to the future, and thus is striving to renew and broaden its horizons. Of great help in this enterprise will be the fine patrimony of spiritual and moral values which fashioned the nation’s true identity, and which stand out in the work and the life of many distinguished fathers of the country, like Blessed José Olallo y Valdés, the Servant of God Félix Varela, and the acclaimed José Martí. For her part, the Church too has diligently contributed to the cultivation of those values through her generous and selfless pastoral mission, and renews her commitment to work tirelessly the better to serve all Cubans.
I ask the Lord to bless abundantly this land and its children, in particular those who feel disadvantaged, the excluded and all those who suffer in body or spirit. At the same time, I pray that, through the intercession of Our Lady of Charity of El Cobre, he will grant to all a future of hope, solidarity and harmony. Thank you.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I have come as a pilgrim to the house of the blessed statue of Our Lady of Charity, la Mambisa as you call upon her with affection. Her presence in this town of El Cobre is a gift from heaven for all Cubans.
I am pleased to offer cordial greetings to everyone here present. Receive the affection of the Pope and carry it with you from this place, so that everyone can experience consolation and strength in faith. Let all those you meet know, whether near or far, that I have entrusted to the Mother of God the future of your country, advancing along the ways renewal and hope, for the greater good of all Cubans. I have also prayed to the Virgin for the needs of those who suffer, of those who are deprived of freedom, those who are separated from their loved ones or who are undergoing times of difficulty. I have placed in her Immaculate Heart young people, that they may be authentic friends of Christ and that they may not succumb to things which bring sadness in their wake. Before Mary of Charity, I remember in a particular way Cubans who are the descendents of those who arrived here from Africa, like the nearby people of Haiti, where the consequences of the earthquake of two years ago are still being suffered. And I cannot forget the many country people and their families who wish to live the Gospel deeply in their homes and who offer their homes as mission centres for the celebration of Mass.
Following the example of the Most Holy Virgin, I encourage all the sons and daughters of this dear country to continue to build their lives on the firm rock which is Jesus Christ, to work for justice, to be servants of charity and to persevere in the midst of trials. May nothing or no one take from you your inner joy which is so characteristic of the Cuban soul. May God bless you. Thank you very much.
Your Eminences, my Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I thank God for allowing me to visit this beautiful Isle which left so deep a mark on the heart of my beloved predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, when he came to these lands as a herald of truth and hope. I too greatly have wished to come among you as a pilgrim of charity, in order to thank the Virgin Mary for the presence of her venerable statue of the Sanctuary of El Cobre, whence for four centuries she has accompanied the journey of the Church in this nation and given encouragement to all Cubans so that, from the hand of Christ, they might discover the true meaning of the desires and aspirations found in the human heart and gain the strength needed to build a fraternal society in which no one feels excluded. “Christ, risen from the dead, shines in this world, and he does so most brightly in those places where, in human terms, everything is somber and hopeless. He has conquered death – he is alive – and faith in him, like a small light, cuts through all that is dark and threatening” (Prayer Vigil with Young People, Freiburg, 24 September 2011).
I thank the President and the other national authorities for the interest and generous cooperation which they have shown in the the preparation of this Journey. I am also deeply grateful to the members of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Cuba, who spared no effort or sacrifice in this regard, and to all those who have helped in various ways, especially by their prayers.
I hold deep in my heart all the Cuban people, each and every one. You have surrounded me with prayer and affection, offered me cordial hospitality and shared with me your profound and rightful aspirations.
I came here as a witness to Jesus Christ, convinced that, wherever he is present, discouragement yields to hope, goodness dispels uncertainties and a powerful force opens up the horizon to beneficial and unexpected possibilities. In Christ’s name, and as the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I wished to proclaim his message of salvation and to strengthen the zeal and pastoral concern of the Cuban Bishops, the priests, the religious and all those preparing with enthusiasm for priestly ministry and the consecrated life. May this Journey also serve as a new impulse to all those who cooperate with perseverance and self-sacrifice in the work of evangelization, particularly the lay faithful. By intensifying their commitment to God at home and in the workplace, may they never tire of offering their responsible contribution for the good and the integral progress of their homeland.
The path which Christ points out to humanity, and to each particular individual and people, is not a source of constraint, but rather the primary and principal premise for their authentic development. The light of the Lord, has shone brightly during these days; may that light never fade in those who have welcomed it; may it help all people to foster social harmony and to allow the blossoming of all that is finest in the Cuban soul, its most noble values, which can be the basis for building a society of broad vision, renewed and reconciled. May no one feel excluded from taking up this exciting task because of limitations of his or her basic freedoms, or excused by indolence or lack of material resources, a situation which is worsened when restrictive economic measures, imposed from outside the country, unfairly burden its people.
I now conclude my pilgrimage, but I will continue praying fervently that you will go forward and that Cuba will be the home of all and for all Cubans, where justice and freedom coexist in a climate of serene fraternity. Respect and promotion of freedom which is present in the heart of each person are essential in order to respond adequately to the fundamental demands of his or her dignity and, in this way, to build up a society in which all are indispensable actors in the future of their life, their family and their country.
The present hour urgently demands that in personal, national and international co-existence we reject immovable positions and unilateral viewpoints which tend to make understanding more difficult and efforts at cooperation ineffective. Possible discrepancies and difficulties will be resolved by tirelessly seeking what unites everyone, with patient and sincere dialogue, and a willingness to listen and accept goals which will bring new hope.
Cuba, look again to the faith of your elders, draw from that faith the strength to build a better future, trust in the Lord’s promises, and open your heart to his Gospel so as to renew authentically your personal and social life.
As I bid you a heartfelt adios, I ask our Lady of Charity of El Cobre to protect all Cubans under her mantle, to sustain them in the midst of their trials and to obtain from Almighty God the grace that they most desire. Hasta siempre, Cuba, a land made beautiful by the maternal presence of Mary. May God bless your future. Thank you!
Dear Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Young People,
I thank Cardinal Antonio María Ruoco Varela for the kind words he has addressed to me, expressing the sentiments of everyone present, and I greet him with great affection. Likewise I greet the Bishops from the ecclesiastical Province of Madrid and the Bishop of San Sebastián, in charge of youth ministry in the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.
I am pleased to welcome all of you who have come to the See of Peter and are participating in this pilgrimage, which you have enthusiastically organized as a ‘thank you’ to the Pope for his Journey to Spain on the occasion of World Youth Day, celebrated last August. I cordially greet the authorities, organizers, sponsors and volunteers, and, in a special way, the young people, who are the protagonists and main beneficiaries of this initiative, strongly desired by my beloved Predecessor, John Paul II, whose passing to Heaven we remember today.
Present here today are the Bishops of Spain and the episcopal delegates of the young people who collaborated in the dioceses for the successful outcome of such a ecclesial event. And I cannot fail to mention the members of the Consecrated Life and many other people and institutions who have offered their valuable and generous contribution for the success of this initiative.
Whenever I think of the 26th World Youth Day, my heart fills with gratitude to God for the experience of such grace during those unforgettable days in Madrid. On arrival I was met by many displays of welcome and hospitality, combined with the faith and joy of the young people, which became eloquent signs of Christ Risen.
Dear friends, that splendid meeting can be understood only in the light of the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church. He never ceases to inspire courage in our hearts, and continuously urges us into the public forum of history, like at Pentecost, to witness to the marvels of God. You are called to cooperate in this exciting task and it is worth devoting yourselves to it wholeheartedly. Christ needs you at his side to spread and build up his Kingdom of love. This will only be possible if you see him as your best friend and give witness to him by leading a life according to the Gospel, with courage and faithfulness.
One could assume that this has nothing to do with him or that the undertaking surpasses one’s abilities and talents. But it is not so. In this adventure, nothing is too much. Do not fail to ask yourselves what the Lord is calling you to do and how you can help him. Each of you has a personal vocation and he suggests it to you for your own happiness and holiness. When one is overcome by the fire of his gaze, no sacrifice seems too great in order to follow him and to give him the best of oneself. This is how the saints have always done it, by spreading the light of the Lord and the power of his love, by transforming the world until it becomes a hearth welcoming all, where God is glorified and his children blessed.
Dear young people, like the first Apostles, may you too be missionaries of Christ to your families, friends and acquaintances, in your study and work environments, among the poor and the sick. Speak of his love and of his goodness with simplicity, without complexes or fears. Christ himself will give you the strength for this. For your part, listen to him and may you enjoy a consistent and sincere relationship with him. With trust, tell him about your hopes and your aspirations, your sorrows too and those of the people you see who are in need of consolation and hope. Calling to mind those splendid days, I urge you to spare no effort that those around you may personally discover him and that they may meet the living One and with him his Church.
Yesterday, on the Solemnity of Palm Sunday, we began Holy Week, in which we follow in the footsteps of Christ to the celebration of his Paschal Mystery. We proclaim him the Messiah and the Son of David, waving the palms of salvation and jubilee like the children and young people of Jerusalem. At the same time, we contemplate his sorrowful passion and his humiliation unto death. I invite you, throughout these holy days, to unite yourselves entirely with our Redeemer, recalling the solemn Way of the Cross of World Youth Day. In it we prayed, deeply moved, before the beauty of those sacred images, which profoundly express the mysteries of our faith. I encourage you, too, to take up your cross, and the cross of sorrow and of the sins of the world, in order to better understand Christ’s love for humanity. Like this you will feel called to proclaim that God loves man and sent him his Son, not to condemn him, but that man might attain a full and meaningful life.
Dear friends, I am sure that you are already thinking of going to Rio de Janeiro, where many young people around the world want to meet, in what will undoubtedly be another milestone on the journey of the Church, ever young, which wants to broaden the horizon of the new generations with the treasure of the Gospel, the energy of life for the world. For now, let us go forward with eyes fixed on the approaching dawn of Easter. May the celebration of World Youth Day in Brazil be a new and joyful experience of Christ Risen, who leads all of humanity toward the splendour of life that proceeds from God.
May Mary Most Holy, who remained silent at the food of her Son’s Cross and waited patiently for the fulfillment of his promises, be ever for you a Mother of mercy, of life, of sweetness and of your hope. Thank you, thank you for your festive and joyful presence, dear young people. I bless you with all my heart.
Speeches 2005-13 23132