Speeches 2004 - Tuesday, 11 May 2004

You are offering a message of love and hope. By means of the missionary animation that you carry out in obedience to the commandment of Christ, the Saviour of all, you collaborate in taking the "Good News" to the ends of the earth. In fact, the living Christ continues to offer his message of salvation to all without distinction.

3. You are heralds of the hope that was born from the death and Resurrection of Christ. You must have special concern, therefore, for those peoples of the world whose suffering is the greatest and whose needs are the most acute: the populations of the so-called Third World. Your commitment is to stand beside the Gospel missionaries who preach solidarity and love and sacrifice themselves for peace, sometimes even to the point of giving their life, because "the love of Christ impels [them]" (II Cor 5: 14).

Thus, you are Cyreneans who help the Saviour to carry his Cross in every person who suffers and dies. To all intents and purposes, you are authentic missionaries in our globalized world in which suffering for truth and justice goes beyond every national boundary.

When you feel distressed about other peoples' suffering and strive to alleviate their great need for aid, you are at the same time helping your own people to emerge from the grip of selfishness, to save them from being suffocated by abundance and emptiness and from behaviour at times unworthy of human beings. It is not merely a matter of almsgiving, as my venerable Predecessor Pope Pius XII wrote, but of carrying out a duty that is a feature of our Christian identity: to help those in need.

Therefore, be preachers of the Resurrection and of Life, as were your own Founders and Foundresses. It is your task to proclaim the Risen Christ, together with the entire Church. You too can say with the Apostle John: "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life... we proclaim to you" (1Jn 1,1). Indeed, when you meditate on Christ's words with sincere faith and work in his Spirit, you know that his words apply to you: "as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25,40).

4. It comforts me to learn that you are arranging to update your Statues. This shows your desire to continue carrying out your mission of "mercy and peace" ever more and better. May the Spirit of the Risen Lord reveal his will to you, as he did to the Apostles, in your choice of new ways to cooperate in the mission to bring truth, justice and peace to all the people of our time, according to the Gospel.

The goal of the General Assembly of your Superior Council is to seek the paths of the Lord for a renewed mission in this world that is constantly changing. Your concern motivates you to bring love and mercy to all people, our brothers and sisters in the one human family. I therefore urge you to collaborate, as you do already, with the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in the continuous search for "new paths" for the Gospel. In brief, missionary animation and cooperation are the raison d'être of your existence and the single purpose of your constant "anxiety for all the Churches" (II Cor 11: 28), with a view to the world's salvation.

5. Aware of this, I offer you my warmest good wishes for an ever generous commitment, even in all kinds of difficulties. I am sure that you share in "the joy and the hope, the grief and the anguish of the men of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted" (Gaudium et Spes GS 1). Actually, this is a consequence of living in the love of "the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all consolation, who comforts us in all our affliction" (II Cor 1: 3-4).

May my Apostolic Blessing which I most cordially impart to you be a pledge of this divine consolation.



Thursday, 13 May 2004

Dear Brothers,

1. A year has now passed since the great celebration for the beatification of your Founder, Fr James Alberione. I am delighted to welcome you today, his spiritual sons who have gathered for the General Chapter of the Society of St Paul. I greet you and I thank you for the cordial sentiments that your new Superior General, Fr Silvio Sassi, has courteously expressed. I wish him the very best for his work. Through you, I would like to convey my thoughts to all your Confreres scattered in so many nations across the world.

2. The Chapter Meeting has a significant theme: Being St Paul alive today: A Congregation moving ahead. These words are typical of Bl. Alberione: his veneration for the Apostle Paul, his evangelical optimism, his "apostolic mysticism", inspired through and through by meditation on the Pauline writings. About 50 years ago he noted: "The Pauline Family must be St Paul alive today, according to the idea of the divine Master; working under the gaze and with the grace of Mary, Regina Apostolorum" (Bolletino San Paolo, July-August 1954). Hence, the need to imitate him, as he himself wrote to the Christians of Corinth: "Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ" (1Co 11,1). Consequently, the theme you have chosen invites you to set out anew from Christ and from St Paul.

3. But how can you do this? Once again it is Bl. Alberione who tells you: it is a matter of being more closely acquainted with the Apostle, imitating his virtues better, praying to him and loving him. Every new generation of Paulines must, in a certain sense, rediscover St Paul: "Knowing the Apostolus Christi, the Magister gentium, the Minister Ecclesiae, the Vas electionis, the Praedicator evangelii, the Martyr Christi". You must work hard, with filial love, to imitate St Paul, to be "formed" by him: "Ut nosmetipsos formam daremus vobis" ["to give you in our conduct an example to imitate"] (II Thes 3: 9), as the Apostle recalled to the Thessalonians. As your Founder rightly observes, you must nourish in prayer a special trust in him, based on your awareness of being his sons: "Sons receive life from their father: live it, therefore, in him, from him and for him, in order to live Jesus Christ" (Bolletino San Paolo, October 1954).

4. The future of your Congregation depends on fidelity to this charism. Always strive to combine a constant search for holiness with the necessary professional competence. Be first and foremost men of prayer and joyful witnesses of unfailing fidelity to Christ. May he, the divine Master, head your every project. Towards him must converge every apostolic and missionary action in social communications, a very important field for the new evangelization. With this interior disposition, in full fidelity to the Church and to her Pastors, you will be able to bring thoroughly up to date the valuable spiritual, doctrinal and apostolic heritage that the Founder left you.

5. Urged on by his example, always ask yourselves: "What would St Paul have done had he lived in our time?". Fr Alberione himself answers you: "If St Paul were alive, he would continue to burn with those two flames... zeal for God and his Christ, and for the men and women of every country; and to make himself heard, he would have climbed the highest pulpits and multiplied his words using the means synonymous with modern progress: the press, the cinema, the radio, the television" (Bolletino San Paolo, October 1954).

Dear friends, this is your demanding apostolic programme. If you carry it out with constant fidelity to the original spirit of your Institute, you will be making a precious contribution to the mission of the Church in the third millennium.

May Mary Most Holy, Queen of the Apostles, guide and accompany you. I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer and cordially bless you and all your Confreres.



Thursday, 13 May 2004

Mr President,

I am pleased to receive Your Excellency and to offer a cordial welcome to you and to the entire delegation that has accompanied you.

I express to you my fervent good wishes for you yourself and for the accomplishment of your important mission, as I cherish happy memories of my Apostolic Visit to Senegal. I ask the Most High to support the efforts of all who are involved in building a society based on justice and peace, with respect for the religious values and traditions that are proper to each one and will contribute to national unity, as well as to preserving harmony and furthering brotherly relations among all the members of society.

I implore from the Almighty an abundance of Blessings upon you, Your Excellency, upon your family, and upon the people of Senegal and their leaders.



Friday, 14 May 2004

Dear Brother Bishops,

1. "God who is rich in mercy, out of great love ..., made us alive together with Christ" (Ep 2,4-5). With these words of Saint Paul I warmly welcome you, the Bishops of the Church in California, Nevada and Hawaii, on the occasion of your visit ad limina Apostolorum. Continuing my reflection on the munus sanctificandi of Bishops, I wish to reflect on the call to a profound conversion of heart and mind, essential to the new impetus in Christian living to which I have invited the whole Church. I am confident that a commitment to ongoing purification and deep renewal will bring about a greater appreciation of the Church’s sanctifying mission and embolden her prophetic witness to American society and the world. 2. Every member of the Church is a pilgrim along the path of personal sanctification. Through baptism the believer enters into the holiness of God himself, being incorporated into Christ and made a dwelling place of his Spirit. But holiness is not only a gift. It is also a task, intrinsic and essential to discipleship, which shapes the whole of Christian life (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 30). Impelled by the Lord’s explicit teaching – "this is the will of God, your sanctification" (1Th 4,3) – the community of believers rightly grows in the awareness that it is holiness which best expresses the mystery of the Church (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 7) and which stirs the desire to give "striking witness" (Lumen Gentium LG 39).

As Bishops you must be at the forefront of this spiritual journey of sanctification. Your episcopal ministry of ecclesial service, marked by your personal quest for holiness and your vocation to sanctify others, is a participation in Jesus’ own ministry and directed towards the building up of his Church. It demands a pattern of life that unequivocally rejects any temptation to ostentation, careerism, or the recourse to secular models of leadership and instead requires you to bear witness to the kenosis of Christ, in pastoral charity, humility and simplicity of life (cf. The Code of Canon Law, c. 387; Ecclesia in America ). Walking in the presence of the Lord, you will grow in a holiness lived with and for your priests and people, inspiring in them the desire to embrace the high standards of Christian life and guiding them along the footsteps of Christ.

3. The credibility of the Church’s proclamation of the Good News is intimately linked to the commitment of her members to personal sanctification. The Church is always in need of purification and so she must constantly follow the path of penance and renewal (cf. Lumen Gentium LG 8). The Father’s will that all believers be sanctified is amplified by the Son’s fundamental exhortation: "Repent, and believe in the gospel" (Mc 1,15). Just as Peter boldly echoed this imperative at Pentecost (cf. Acts Ac 2,38), you are charged with heralding a kerygmatic call to conversion and penance, proclaiming the boundless mercy of God, and inviting everyone to experience the call to reconciliation and hope at the heart of the Gospel (cf. Pastores Gregis ).

The courage to face the crisis of the loss of the sense of sin, to which I alerted the whole Church early in my Pontificate (cf. Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 18), must be addressed today with particular urgency. While the effects of sin abound – greed, dishonesty and corruption, broken relationships and exploitation of persons, pornography and violence – the recognition of individual sinfulness has waned. In its place a disturbing culture of blame and litigiousness has arisen which speaks more of revenge than justice and fails to acknowledge that in every man and woman there is a wound which, in the light of faith, we call original sin (cf. ibid., 2).

Saint John tells us: "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves" (1Jn 1,8). Sin is an integral part of the truth about the human person. To recognize oneself as a sinner is the first and essential step in returning to the healing love of God. Given this reality, the Bishop’s duty to indicate the sad and destructive presence of sin, both in individuals and in communities, is in fact a service of hope. Far from being something negative, it strengthens believers to abandon evil and embrace the perfection of love and the fullness of Christian life. Let us boldly announce that indeed we are not the sum total of our weaknesses and failures! We are the sum of the Father’s love for us, and capable of becoming the image of his Son!

4. The lasting peace and harmony so longed for by individuals, families and society can only be won through that conversion which is a fruit of mercy and constituent of genuine reconciliation. As Bishops you have the difficult yet satisfying duty of promoting the true Christian understanding of reconciliation. Perhaps no story better illustrates the profound drama of metanoia than the parable of the Prodigal Son, upon which I have elsewhere commented at length (cf. Dives in Misericordia DM 5-6). The prodigal son is in a certain sense all men and women. We all can be lured by the temptation to separate ourselves from the Father and thus suffer loss of dignity, humiliation and shame, but equally so we all can have the courage to turn back to the Father who embraces us with a love which, transcending even justice, manifests itself as mercy.

Christ, who reveals the abounding mercy of God, demands the same of us, even when confronted with grievous sin. Indeed mercy "constitutes the fundamental content of the messianic message of Christ and the constitutive power of his mission" (ibid., 6) and thus can never be set aside in the name of pragmatism. It is precisely the father’s fidelity to the merciful love proper to him as a father that sees him restore the filial relationship of his son who "was lost and is found" (Lc 15,32). As pastors of your flock it is with this merciful love – never a mere sense of favor – that you too must "reach down to every prodigal son, to every human misery, and above all to every form of moral misery, to sin" (Dives in Misericordia DM 6). In this way you will draw good from evil, restore life from death, revealing anew the authentic face of the Father’s mercy so necessary in our times.

5. Dear Brothers, I particularly wish to encourage you in your promotion of the Sacrament of Penance. As a divinely instituted means by which the Church offers the pastoral activity of reconciliation, it is "the only ordinary way for the faithful to reconcile themselves with God and the Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church CEC 1484). Though it cannot be denied that the profound power of this Sacrament is often considered today with indifference it is also the case that young people in particular readily give testimony to the graces and transforming benefits it bestows. Strengthened by this encouraging message I again appeal directly to you and to your priests: arm yourselves with more confidence, creativity and perseverance in presenting it and leading people to appreciate it (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte NM 37). Time spent in the confessional is time spent in service of the spiritual patrimony of the Church and the salvation of souls (cf. Reconciliatio et Paenitentia RP 29).

As Bishops, it is of special importance for you to have frequent recourse to the Sacrament of Reconciliation in order to obtain the gift of that mercy of which you yourselves have been made ministers (cf. Pastores Gregis ). Since you are called to show forth the face of the Good Shepherd, and therefore to have the heart of Christ himself, you more than others must make your own the Psalmist’s ardent cry: "A pure heart create for me, O God, put a steadfast spirit within me" (Ps 51,12). Sanctified by the graces received in your regular reception of the sacrament, I am confident that you will encourage your brother priests and indeed all the faithful to discover anew the full beauty of this sacrament.

6. With fraternal affection I share these reflections with you and assure you of my prayers as you seek to make the sanctifying and reconciling mission of the Church ever more appreciated and recognizable in your ecclesial and civic communities. The message of hope which you proclaim to a world often fraught with sinfulness and division will not fail to evoke fresh fervor and a renewed zeal for Christian life! With these sentiments I commend you to Mary, the Mother of Jesus, in whom is effected the reconciliation of God with humanity. I gladly impart to you and to the priests, deacons, Religious, and lay faithful of your Dioceses my Apostolic Blessing.






Friday, 14 May 2004

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I address a particularly joyful greeting to you all during this Easter season, when you are gathered in Rome for the Fourth Meeting of the Special Assembly for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

I am grateful to you for the work you carry out for the good of the Episcopal College, offering the Successor of Peter the support of your prudent counsel and pastoral charity.

Today, with you, I have the joy of greeting Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, who I recently asked as General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops to carry out this special service to the Petrine ministry and to the collegiality of the Pastors of the Church.

2. It is the first time that you have met since the promulgation of the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, subsequent to the second Special Assembly for Europe of the Synod of Bishops. Your purpose is to reflect on its reception and to strive to disseminate, make known and apply this important Document that came into being in the synodal atmosphere of the pilgrim Church in our Europe.

Your meeting takes place at a special time, marked by the recent enlargement of the European Union. The Catholic Church hopes that this process will continue until it extends to the geographical boundaries of the Continent, embracing all its peoples. Indeed, apart from their strong historical bonds, they share the same cultural and religious values.

3. She hopes it will be a Europe of peoples united in respect for the legitimate plurality that enriches the individual nations, small and large, in an open process of the exchange of gifts; a Europe that respects the transcendent dignity of the human person, the value of reason, of freedom, of democracy, of a State of rights and of the distinction between politics and religion (cf. Ecclesia in Europa, n. 109). This Europe, founded on law, desirous of respecting the human and Christian values and oriented to solidarity for all its members, especially the neediest, will become a prosperous and peaceful Continent whose example will be an incentive to other peoples and other nations.

The Catholic Church, strengthened by the message of peace and hope that the Risen Lord offers her, will never tire of reproposing this ideal to the European peoples at this important time in their history, doing her utmost within her own province to put this noble project into practice so that it may become the source of a better future for all those who live in Europe and for all humanity.

4. I commend to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope, the fulfilment of these generous resolutions so that Europe, in rediscovering itself, may be able to build a better future for all its citizens with respect for divine and human law, and become more and more a Continent of prosperity and peace.

As a pledge of collegial communion and gratitude for your precious service, also as members of the Special Council for Europe of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, I very willingly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.



Saturday, 15 May 2004

Mr President,

I welcome Your Excellency with joy and extend to you and the delegation accompanying you a cordial welcome.

I cherish a pleasant memory of my Apostolic Visit to your dear Nation, and I express my warmest wishes for yourself and all of your fellow countrymen and women. I ask God to help all Lebanese peoples to strengthen the unity of their Nation in reciprocal harmony and respect. I hope that the canonization of a son of your Land, Fr Nimatullah Al-Hardini, will serve as an example of brotherhood to his fellow citizens. I pray God may also sustain the efforts of all men and women of good will working for peace, especially in the region of the Middle East, so tried by unacceptable violence.

Upon Your Excellency and your family, upon the dear Lebanese People and its leaders, I invoke an abundance of Divine Blessings.



Saturday, 15 May 2004

I am pleased to receive you, Madam Mayor, and welcome you and the delegation you have brought with you.

I express the hope that the forthcoming celebration of the Olympic Games in your city will be a demonstration of brotherhood for all the participants, and a message of peace and "encounter" for the public of spectators watching all over the world. In this spirit, I invoke upon you and all of the organizers of this event divine Blessings.



Saturday, 15 May 2004

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

1. I cordially greet all of you who are gathered here from different parts of the world to take part in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

I greet the President, Archbishop Michael Louis Fitzgerald, and I thank him for his kind words on your behalf. I greet the Secretary and other collaborators of the Pontifical Council and those who have prepared this important meeting which commemorates the 40th anniversary of the Dicastery's establishment on 19 May 1964.

The decision of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, derives from "the atmosphere of union and expectation that clearly characterized the Second Vatican Council" (Discourse to the College of Cardinals, 23 June 1964), as he himself wrote. And from the Council itself, especially with the Declaration Nostra Aetate, this new Council received the guidelines for its activity, aimed at promoting relations with followers of other religions.

2. Throughout these past 40 years, the Dicastery has accomplished its ecclesial service with zealous determination, finding positive collaboration and reciprocal advantages in many dioceses and in church and Christian communities of different denominations.

The importance of the work you carry out has been likewise understood by many organizations of other religions which have, and still continue today, to maintain positive contacts with your Pontifical Council and join in different initiatives of dialogue. It becomes necessary to intensify such fruitful cooperation, focusing attention on topics of common interest.

3. Over the next years the Church will assiduously endeavour to answer the great challenge of interreligious dialogue. In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte I emphasized that the millennium just begun is situated in the climate of "increased cultural and religious pluralism" (n. 55).

Dialogue is therefore important and must continue, since it "is part of the Church's evangelizing mission", in "intimate connection" with the proclamation of Christ and at the same time distinct from it, without confusion and manipulation (cf. Encyclical Letter Redemptoris Missio, n. 55). However, so as to foster such dialogue with the followers of other religions, all religious relativism and indifferentism must be avoided, making the effort to offer respectfully to all the joyful witness of the "hope that is in us" (cf. 1P 3,15).

4. As I observed in Novo Millennio Ineunte, interreligious dialogue is also important for "establishing a sure basis for peace", as it enables "the name of the one God" to become "increasingly what it is: a name of peace and a summons to peace" (n. 55). By virtue of the "ministry of reconciliation" entrusted to them by God (cf. II Cor 5: 18), Christians are aware of their ability to contribute to the building of peace in the world, allowing themselves to be vivified by love for all men and women and for each person, courageously seeking out the truth, cultivating a prophetic thirst for justice and freedom. Persevering, humble, trusting prayer to God must always be part of this effort; indeed, peace is above all a divine gift to implore unceasingly.

May the Virgin Mary accompany the work of your Pontifical Council and make fruitful each of your projects. For my part, I assure you of my prayer and cordially impart to you a special Apostolic Blessing.



Saturday, 15 May 2004

1. It is with great joy that I meet with you this evening, dear brothers and sisters who represent the entire family of Bl. Luigi Orione.

I greet the Cardinals, Bishops, Authorities and all who have wished to be present for this celebration. I address a particular greeting to the General Director of the Institute, Don Roberto Simionato, who has expressed the sentiments of each one of you.

I then greet the various branches of the Don Orione Family: the Sons of Divine Providence, the Little Missionary Sisters of Charity, consecrated laity and associates of the Don Orione Lay People's Movement, the devoted and pilgrims coming from Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.

I extend a special greeting to the young people and to the numerous disabled persons present, who give me the opportunity to embrace spiritually all the guests of your homes, looked upon by Don Orione as his "treasures" and precious "pearls". A thankful greeting goes also to the "Rai" [television and radio station] which offers to many Italians throughout the world the possibility to take part in this event.

2. It was a most pleasant surprise to hear the voice of Don Orione just now; how many hearts received comfort from that voice, how many persons received counsel! To everyone, it indicated the path of good.

Humble and brave, throughout his entire life he was always ready and bent low to the needs of the poor, so much so that he was nicknamed: "porter of Divine Providence".

His witness is alive still today. The world, all too often dominated by indifference and violence, needs persons like him who "fill with love the furrows of the earth [that are instead] so full of selfishness and hatred" (Writings, 62, 99). Good Samaritans are needed, ready to answer the "anguished cry of so many of our brothers who suffer and yearn for Christ" (ibid., 80, 170).

3. Dear brothers and sisters, Don Orione clearly intuited that the first work of justice is to give Christ to others, since "it is charity that edifies and unites all in Christ and in his Church" (ibid., 61, 153).

Here lies the secret of holiness, but also of the peace that we ardently desire, for families and peoples. May Don Orione intercede for peace especially in the Holy Land, Iraq and the other areas of the world thrown into confusion by wars and bloody conflicts.

We now turn to Our Lady, to whom your Founder was always entirely devoted, so that she may continue to protect the Little Work of Divine Providence, called to proclaim and witness the Gospel to the men and women of the third millennium.

To everyone I extend my Blessing.


1. Mary, Mother of Christ and of the Church, as we contemplate next to you in glory Luigi Orione, father of the poor and benefactor of suffering and abandoned humanity, we consecrate to you the Little Work of Divine Providence, your "work" from the beginning.

Give to your little sons and daughters, O Mother, that unfailing capacity to love, which flows from the pierced Heart of the Crucified One.

Give them hunger and thirst for apostolic charity after the example of their Founder, who sighed: Souls, souls!

2. Remember, Holy Virgin, this humble religious Family that Don Orione offered to the Church following intense and continued prayer before your venerated image.

You wished to avail yourself of the Little Work, calling your sons and daughters to the highest privilege of serving Christ in the poor.

You wanted them to be animated by ardent charity and complete trust in your Divine Providence. May the sacred fire of love for God and neighbour never be extinguished in them.

3. Give them devoted love for the Successor of Peter, zealous obedience to Bishops, generous availability in serving the Christian community. Make them sensitive to the needs of their neighbour, attentive and solicitous toward their poorest and most abandoned brothers and sisters, the rejected and those looked upon as the dregs of society.

May the daughters and sons of Don Orione, sustained by boundless love for Christ, know how to welcome with inexhaustible mercy every form of human misery, showing love and compassion for all.

4. Grant, O Mary, to the Family of Don Orione, an immense and generous heart which knows how to encounter every suffering and to dry every tear.

Shower your graces abundantly on those who turn to you with trust in every need. May the life of the Little Work of Divine Providence be consecrated to give Christ to people and people to Christ.

5. Mary, shining star of the morning, placed by God on the horizon of humanity, gently spread your mantle over us, pilgrims on the paths of time, amidst numerous risks and snares, and come to our aid now and at the hour of our death. Amen!




Monday, 17 May 2004

Mr President,

I receive you with great joy and offer you a most cordial welcome. I am grateful for your visit and express my best wishes to you, for yourself and for your lofty mission at the service of the Honduran People. On this occasion, I would like to tell you once again of my affection for the inhabitants of your Country, whom I always remember in my prayers; I ask God to bless each one of them, the families and the various social groups, so that they may have a peaceful present and a future full of hope, building a society based on justice, peace, brotherhood and solidarity, thereby fostering the integral progress of one and all, especially the most underprivileged.

I invoke upon Your Excellency, your collaborators in the Government and especially upon all the Catholic People of Honduras, every type of Blessing from our provident and merciful Lord, through the Most Holy Virgin of Suyapa who is so widely venerated in this beloved Nation.



Monday, 17 May 2004

1. After yesterday's solemn celebration, at which I had the joy of proclaiming six new Saints, I am happy to meet with you, joined as you are by special ties of spiritual affection to five of them: Hannibal Mary Di Francia, José Manyanet y Vives, Nimatullah Kassab Al-Hardini, Paola Elisabetta Cerioli and Gianna Beretta Molla.

As I address to you my heartfelt greeting, I would now like to pause together with you to reflect briefly on the Marian devotion of these Saints.

2. Hannibal Mary Di Francia was honoured from Baptism with the name of "Mary", who he loved to call "my Mother". He cultivated a most tender and ardent devotion to her, and called upon her as "Mother of the Church" and "Mother of Vocations". He wished that the Immaculate be considered as the "absolute, immediate and actual Superior" of the Daughters of Divine Zeal and of the Rogationist Fathers, both founded by him, recommending such devotion as the secret to holiness and the special glory for both Institutes.

3. I now greet with affection the Spanish-speaking pilgrims who have come to take part in the canonization of St José Manyanet, a Spanish priest who was a chosen instrument in the 19th century to promote the good of the family together with the education of children and youth.

He placed his heart in the Holy Family. The "Gospel of the family", lived by Jesus of Nazareth together with Mary and Joseph, was the motor behind Fr Manyanet's pastoral charity and the inspiration of his teaching. Furthermore, he worked so that the Holy Family would be known, venerated and imitated within families. This is his heritage and with his words, in his Catalonian language, I say to you today, the Religious founded by him, to the fathers and mothers of families and to the alumni and ex-alumni of his centres: "Make of your homes a Nazareth, of your families a Holy Family". May St José Manyanet intercede for you!

Speeches 2004 - Tuesday, 11 May 2004