Speeches 2004 - Friday, 5 November 2004
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I welcome you today with great pleasure on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Roma's foundation. I welcome each one of you and your families. I extend my cordial greeting to all who work in the various centres and branches of your Credit Institute. In particular, I salute and thank your President, who has expressed your common sentiments. He wanted to recall the spirit that from the beginning has animated and continues to sustain the many good initiatives promoted by your Bank in Lazio and in other parts of Italy.
2. When the Banca di Credito Cooperativo di Roma was started 50 years ago, it was very clearly intended by your founders as a means to offer society solidarity and mutuality, inspired by the principles and teachings of the Church's social doctrine. Your Bank has grown considerably today, and so many prospects are opening for its future. My heartfelt wish is that, thanks to the contribution of all, it can carry on, keeping in mind the requirements of the common good.
3. I would like to express particular thanks to you, Mr President, and to your collaborators, for the attention that your Credit Institute pays to the Ecclesial Communities, to the parishes, especially rural ones, and to the works for human advancement run by ecclesiastical entities or by Religious Communities. By helping the activities of the Church, you contribute to spreading the Gospel and consolidating the culture of love. Continue to carry out your activities, treasuring the mature experience in Catholic structures of the Credito Cooperativo. As believers, always be aware that, in order to faithfully accomplish your work, you must assiduously cultivate personal contact with Christ.
In every time, but especially in our age, Christians must be in every field the ferment of authentic social renewal and the yeast of evangelical hope. To this end, the recently published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church can also be helpful for your formation and Christian witness.
Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust each one of you, your families and the many activities of your Bank to Mary. For my part, I assure you of a remembrance in prayer, while I bless you all from the heart.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. It is with particular pleasure that I greet the distinguished members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. I thank your President, Professor Nicola Cabibbo, for the kind message of greetings and good wishes which he has offered me in your name.
The meetings of the Academy have always been an occasion of mutual enrichment and, in some cases, have resulted in studies of significant interest to the Church and the world of culture. These initiatives have contributed to a more fruitful dialogue between the Church and the scientific community. I trust that they will lead to an ever deeper investigation of the truths of science and the truths of faith, truths which ultimately converge in that one Truth which believers acknowledge in its fullness in the face of Jesus Christ.
2. This year’s plenary session, devoted to science and creativity, raises important questions deeply connected with the spiritual dimension of man. Through culture and creative activity, human beings have the capacity to transcend material reality and to "humanize" the world around us. Revelation teaches that men and women are created in the "image and likeness of God" (cf. Gen Gn 1,26) and thus possessed of a special dignity which enables them, by the work of their hands, to reflect God’s own creative activity (cf. Laborem Exercens LE 4). In real way, they are meant to be "co-creators" with God, using their knowledge and skill to shape a cosmos in which the divine plan constantly moves towards fulfilment (cf. Gaudium et Spes GS 34). This human creativity finds privileged expression in the pursuit of knowledge and scientific research. As a spiritual reality, such creativity must be responsibly exercised; it demands respect for the natural order and, above all, for the nature of each human being, inasmuch as man is its subject and end.
The creativity which inspires scientific progress is seen especially in the capacity to confront and solve ever new issues and problems, many of which have planetary repercussions. Men and women of science are challenged to put this creativity more and more at the service of the human family, by working to improve the quality of life on our planet and by promoting an integral development of the human person, both materially and spiritually. If scientific creativity is to benefit authentic human progress, it must remain detached from every form of financial or ideological conditioning, so that it can be devoted solely to the dispassionate search for truth and the disinterested service of humanity. Creativity and new discoveries ought to bring both the scientific community and the world’s peoples together, in a climate of cooperation which values the generous sharing of knowledge over competitivity and individual interests.
3. The theme of your meeting invites renewed reflection on the "paths of discovery". There is in fact a profound inner logic to the process of discovery. Scientists approach nature with a conviction that they confront a reality which they have not created but received, a reality which slowly reveals itself to their patient questioning. They sense – often only implicitly – that nature contains a Logos which invites dialogue. The scientist seeks to ask the right questions of nature, while at the same time maintaining an attitude of humble receptivity and even of contemplation in its regard. The "wonder" which sparked the earliest philosophical reflection on nature and which gave rise to science itself, has in no way been diminished by new discoveries; indeed, it constantly increases and often inspires awe at the distance which separates our knowledge of creation from the fullness of its mystery and grandeur.
Contemporary scientists, faced with the explosion of new knowledge and discoveries, frequently feel that they are standing before a vast and infinite horizon. Indeed, the inexhaustible bounty of nature, with its promise of ever new discoveries, can be seen as pointing beyond itself to the Creator who has given it to us as a gift whose secrets remain to be explored. In attempting to understand this gift and to use it wisely and well, science constantly encounters a reality which human beings "find". In every phase of scientific discovery, nature stands as something "given." For this reason, creativity and progress along the paths of discovery, as in all other human endeavours, are ultimately to be understood against the backdrop of the mystery of creation itself (cf. Laborem Exercens LE 12).
4. Dear members of the Academy, once again this year I offer my prayerful good wishes for your work on behalf of the advancement of knowledge and the benefit of the human family. May these days of reflection and discussion be a source of spiritual enrichment for all of you. Despite the uncertainties and the labour which every attempt to interpret reality entails – not only in the sciences, but also in philosophy and theology – the paths of discovery are always paths towards truth. And every seeker after truth, whether aware of it or not, is following a path which ultimately leads to God, who is Truth itself (cf. Fides et Ratio FR 16,28). May your patient and humble dialogue with the world of nature bear fruit in ever new discoveries and in a reverent appreciation of its untold marvels. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.
To the Teresian Carmelite Missionaries,
Participants in the 13th General Chapter,
1. I am very pleased to have this meeting with you who are celebrating your 13th General Chapter, a most important time in the life of your Congregation in order to discern the will of God, to renew your faith in the founding charism and to discover the best way to respond, starting from your specific vocation and mission, to the challenges of these first years of the third millennium.
I greet with affection Sister Luisa Ortega Sánchez, who was recently elected Superior General, her Counsellors and other direct collaborators, as well as the other participants in the Chapter. I express sincere gratitude to Sister Pilar Timoneda Armengol, Superior General during the two preceding terms, and I invite you to convey to the Communities in the different countries, together with the decisions reached, your chapter experience with its spiritual depth and sense of fraternity and joy, sustained by living fully and joyfully the charism inspired by your Founder, Bl. Francisco Palau y Quer.
As stated in the Chapter Rule, you must promote in all your Sisters a true "passion for the Church: God and neighbour", so that each community enriches its own particular Church and shows the wonders of God "by the eloquent language of a transfigured life, capable of amazing the world" (Vita Consecrata VC 20).
2. In your programme of life and action for the coming years, you must remember that "more than in external words, the mission consists in making Christ present to the world through personal witness. This is the challenge, this is the primary task of the consecrated life!" (ibid., n. 72). And what can inspire us to make Christ present if not that great Mystery where Christ is "truly present", which is the Eucharist? All dimensions of the Eucharist "come together in one aspect which more than any other makes a demand on our faith: the mystery of the "real' presence" (Mane Nobiscum Domine, n. 16).
I reminded the entire Church of the central and irreplaceable character of the Eucharist for the Christian life in order to be faithful to the vocation to holiness. I now also remind you, confident that by your contemplative Teresian tradition, you understand it very well and make this Most Blessed Sacrament the axis of your spiritual life and the inspiration for every apostolic and missionary project. In fact, it is in this that you will discover Christ; it constitutes, then, a privileged point of encounter for the souls in love with him (cf. ibid., n. 18).
3. I ask Our Lady of Mount Carmel, through the intercession of your Blessed Founder, never to stop showing every day to "all believers the heavenly goods which are already present in this age" (Lumen Gentium LG 44), and to build among the new generations the number of those who recognize the voice of the Spirit when he calls them to a life entirely consecrated to God.
With these wishes, I impart to you from my heart the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend with pleasure to all the Teresian Carmelite Missionaries.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to give you a special greeting on the occasion of the Ninth Public Meeting of the Pontifical Academies, a culminating moment of the multiple activities you have promoted during the course of this year.
I greet in particular Cardinal Paul Poupard, the President of the Council for Coordinating the Pontifical Academies, and I thank him for the dedication he pays to this duty. I also extend my greeting to the Bishops, Ambassadors, priests and representatives of the Pontifical Academies present, as well as to those who have not wished to miss this meeting.
2. Today's Public Meeting of the Pontifical Academies touches on an ever more significant theme: the Via pulchritudinis as the best way for the Christian faith and the culture of our time to meet, besides being a valuable instrument for the formation of the young generations.
In 2,000 years of history, the Church has travelled the path of beauty in many ways through sacred works of art that have accompanied prayer, the liturgy, the life of families and of Christian communities. Splendid architectural masterpieces, paintings, sculptures and miniatures, musical compositions, literature and plays, together with other works of art wrongly considered "minor", constitute authentic treasures that make us understand, through the language of beauty and of symbols, the profound syntony that exists between faith and art, between human creativity and the work of God, author of every authentic beauty.
3. Would the people of today have been able to enjoy so vast an artistic patrimony if the Christian community had not encouraged and supported the creativity of numerous artists, offering them as a model and font of inspiration the beauty of Christ, Splendour of the Father?
For beauty to shine in its full splendour, however, it must be united to goodness and the sanctity of life. The luminous face of the good God, wonderful and just, must be made to shine in the world through the sanctity of its children.
It is what Jesus urges his disciples in the Sermon on the Mount: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5,16). The testimony of Christians, if it also wants to influence ordinary society, must nourish itself with beauty in order to become an eloquent transparency of the beauty of God's love.
4. I turn again particularly to you, dear academics and artists! This is your duty: to nourish all that is an authentic expression of human genius, a reflection of divine beauty.
In the Letter to Artists I have emphasized our collaboration: "The Church hopes for a renewed "epiphany' of beauty in our time and apt responses to the particular needs of the Christian community" (n. 10). You must always be conscious of this mission and the Lord will help you to take it to completion in an efficacious way.
To all the academicians, and especially to the members of the renowned Pontificia Insigne Accademia di Belle Arti e Lettere dei Virtuosi al Pantheon, I express my grateful appreciation for the work achieved. I hope that, with everyone's cooperation, a new Christian humanism can be promoted to blaze a trail of authentic beauty, and that it be proposed to everyone as the path of dialogue and peace between all peoples.
5. I am now pleased, on the advice of the Council for Coordinating the Pontifical Academies, to assign the Annual Prize of the Pontifical Academies to the Benedictine Abbey of Keur Moussa in Senegal, where Benedictines from the Motherhouse of Solesmes were placed to learn the traditions of Africa, faithfully conserving at the same time the liturgical patrimony received from the tradition of the Church.
I desire as well to offer a Medal of the Pontificate to the School of Cinematography "Ipotesi Cinema", founded and directed by Mr Ermanno Olmi, for its pedagogy founded on authentic humanism, and also to the Interuniversity Choir of Rome, directed by Maestro Don Massimo Palombella, for the service rendered to divine rite and musical culture.
I entrust each one of you and the various Institutions to which you belong to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, whom we invoke as Tota Pulchra, the "All Beautiful". I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and I impart to you my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
1. I welcome you with joy during your ad limina visit. It gives me the opportunity to speak especially to you, Pastors of the Church scattered across the Islands of the Indian Ocean. Our meeting is an expression of communion between the Bishops and the See of Peter. "What then takes place is not simply an exchange of information but primarily the affirmation and the consolidation of collegiality... in the body of the Church, which gives rise to unity in diversity" (Pastores Gregis ). I thank Bishop
O great Augustine, our father and teacher,
who knows the shining paths of God
and also the crooked paths of men,
we admire the marvels that divine Grace
has worked in you,
making you a passionate witness
to truth and goodness
at the service of your neighbour.
At the start of a new millennium marked by the Cross of Christ,
teach us to read history
in the light of divine Providence,
which guides events to the
final encounter with the Father.
Guide us towards goals of peace,
kindling in our hearts
your own desire for the values
upon which we,
with the strength that comes from God,
can build the "city of Man".
May the profound teaching that you drew,
with loving and patient study,
from the ever-living sources of Scripture
enlighten all who are tempted today
by alienating mirages.
May you obtain for them the courage
to set out on the way
towards that "inner man" in whom the One,
who alone can restore peace
to our restless hearts, awaits.
So many of our contemporaries seem to have
lost the hope of reaching,
amidst the many conflicting ideologies,
the truth that they continue to yearn for
in depths of their hearts.
Teach them never to give up their quest
in the certainty that,
in the end, their efforts will be rewarded
by the fulfilling encounter
with that supreme Truth, who is the Source
of every created truth.
Lastly, O St Augustine,
communicate to us too a spark
of that burning love for the Church,
the Catholic mother of the Saints,
which sustained and gave life
to the efforts of your own long ministry.
Enable us, as we walk together under
the guidance of our legitimate Pastors,
to reach the glory of the heavenly Homeland
where, with all the Blesseds,
we can join in singing
the new and eternal Alleluia.
Friday, 12 November 2004
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the International Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care which is taking place at this time. With your visit, you have wished to reaffirm your scientific and human commitment to those who are suffering.
I thank Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán for his courteous words on behalf of you all. My grateful thoughts and appreciation go to everyone who has made a contribution to these sessions, as well as to the doctors and health-care workers throughout the world who dedicate their scientific and human skills and their spirituality to relieving pain and its consequences.
2. Medicine is always at the service of life. Even when medical treatment is unable to defeat a serious pathology, all its possibilities are directed to the alleviation of suffering. Working enthusiastically to help the patient in every situation means being aware of the inalienable dignity of every human being, even in the extreme conditions of terminal illness. Christians recognize this devotion as a fundamental dimension of their vocation: indeed, in carrying out this task they know that they are caring for Christ himself (cf. Mt Mt 25,35-40).
"It is therefore through Christ, and in Christ, that light is thrown on the riddle of suffering and death which, apart from his Gospel, overwhelms us", the Council recalls (Gaudium et Spes GS 22).
Those who open themselves to this light in faith find comfort in their own suffering and acquire the ability to alleviate that of others. Indeed, there is a directly proportional relationship between the ability to suffer and the ability to help those who are suffering. Daily experience teaches that the persons most sensitive to the suffering of others and who are the most dedicated to alleviating the suffering of others are also more disposed to accept, with God's help, their own suffering.
3. Love of neighbour, which Jesus vividly portrayed in the Parable of the Good Samaritan (cf. Lk Lc 10, 2ff.), enables us to recognize the dignity of every person, even when illness has become a burden. Suffering, old age, a comatose state or the imminence of death in no way diminish the intrinsic dignity of the person created in God's image.
Euthanasia is one of those tragedies caused by an ethic that claims to dictate who should live and who should die. Even if it is motivated by sentiments of a misconstrued compassion or of a misunderstood preservation of dignity, euthanasia actually eliminates the person instead of relieving the individual of suffering.
Unless compassion is combined with the desire to tackle suffering and support those who are afflicted, it leads to the cancellation of life in order to eliminate pain, thereby distorting the ethical status of medical science.
4. True compassion, on the contrary, encourages every reasonable effort for the patient's recovery. At the same time, it helps draw the line when it is clear that no further treatment will serve this purpose.
The refusal of aggressive treatment is neither a rejection of the patient nor of his or her life. Indeed, the object of the decision on whether to begin or to continue a treatment has nothing to do with the value of the patient's life, but rather with whether such medical intervention is beneficial for the patient.
The possible decision either not to start or to halt a treatment will be deemed ethically correct if the treatment is ineffective or obviously disproportionate to the aims of sustaining life or recovering health. Consequently, the decision to forego aggressive treatment is an expression of the respect that is due to the patient at every moment.
It is precisely this sense of loving respect that will help support patients to the very end. Every possible act and attention should be brought into play to lessen their suffering in the last part of their earthly existence and to encourage a life as peaceful as possible, which will dispose them to prepare their souls for the encounter with the heavenly Father.
5. Particularly in the stages of illness when proportionate and effective treatment is no longer possible, while it is necessary to avoid every kind of persistent or aggressive treatment, methods of "palliative care" are required. As the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae affirms, they must "seek to make suffering more bearable in the final stages of illness and to ensure that the patient is supported and accompanied in his or her ordeal" (n. 65).
In fact, palliative care aims, especially in the case of patients with terminal diseases, at alleviating a vast gamut of symptoms of physical, psychological and mental suffering; hence, it requires the intervention of a team of specialists with medical, psychological and religious qualifications who will work together to support the patient in critical stages.
The Encyclical Evangelium Vitae in particular sums up the traditional teaching on the licit use of pain killers that are sometimes called for, with respect for the freedom of patients who should be able, as far as possible, "to satisfy their moral and family duties, and above all... to prepare in a fully conscious way for their definitive meeting with God" (n. 65).
Moreover, while patients in need of pain killers should not be made to forego the relief that they can bring, the dose should be effectively proportionate to the intensity of their pain and its treatment. All forms of euthanasia that would result from the administration of massive doses of a sedative for the purpose of causing death must be avoided.
To provide this help in its different forms, it is necessary to encourage the training of specialists in palliative care at special teaching institutes where psychologists and health-care workers can also be involved.
6. Science and technology, however, will never be able to provide a satisfactory response to the essential questions of the human heart; these are questions that faith alone can answer. The Church intends to continue making her own specific contribution, offering human and spiritual support to sick people who want to open themselves to the message of the love of God, who is ever attentive to the tears of those who turn to him (cf. Ps Ps 39,13). Here, emphasis is placed on the importance of health pastoral care in which hospital chaplaincies have a special role and contribute so much to people's spiritual well-being during their hospital stay.
Then how can we forget the precious contribution of volunteers, who through their service give life to that creativity in charity which imbues hope, even in the unpleasant experience of suffering? Moreover, it is through them that Jesus can continue today to exist among men and women, doing good and healing them (cf. Acts Ac 10,38).
7. Thus, the Church makes her own contribution to this moving mission for the benefit of the suffering. May the Lord deign to enlighten all who are close to the sick and encourage them to persevere in their different roles and various responsibilities.
May Mary, Mother of Christ, accompany everyone in the difficult moments of pain and illness, so that human suffering may be raised to the saving mystery of the Cross of Christ.
I accompany these hopes with my Blessing.
It is with great pleasure that I receive and greet Your Excellency and your distinguished entourage, remembering the greetings that we exchanged during the Visit that I made to your beloved Fatherland for the beatification of the two great Portuguese children: Francisco and Jacinta Marto.
The charitable Light that shone in their lives seeks to radiate to the whole world. This Light continues to shine with hope on Portugal, particularly concerned at the grave crisis of values present in today's society, which is increasingly insecure when faced with ethical
decisions that are indispensable for the future of humanity.
The formation of a critical conscience to discern the meaning of life and history is the greatest cultural challenge of the moment which the Church and Portugal wish to face through healthy collaboration, as demonstrated by the new Concordat that will soon come into force.
On you, your respective families and your People, I invoke with all my heart the Blessing of Almighty God.
Saturday, 13 November 2004
Dear Friends of the Christian Office for the Disabled,
1. I am pleased to welcome you here with your Foundress, Marie-Hélène Mathieu, on the occasion of the pilgrimage you are making to celebrate the 40th anniversary of your association. I would like to give thanks with you for your work with disabled persons and their families that demonstrates the incomparable value of every life.
Through your attention to people afflicted with a disability, you remind our contemporaries that people cannot be reduced to their aptitude or financial status, but are God's creatures whom he loves for their own sake and not for what they do.
My affectionate prayers also reach out to their parents and to everyone who accepts to welcome a disabled person. I know of the sacrifices that this involves but I also know the joy of seeing happiness on the face of a disabled person and the affection that the disabled show to those who care for them.
2. Your activity is both a service and a genuine mission for the promotion of the human person and the defence of each one's dignity. This is clear from the theme of your pilgrimage: You have chosen us to serve in your presence. You carry out in the heart of the Church a meritorious service of charity, tenderness and compassion among the disabled and their families who have "put on the face of Christ", as St Gregory of Nyssa says of all the poor (cf. Love of the Poor).
You are one of the signs of the solidarity that the entire Christian community shows to those who are injured in body and in mind; you are also a reminder that Christ came to give life in abundance to every man and woman and to reveal to us that salvation is for everyone, as he proclaimed in the Synagogue at Nazareth (cf. Lc 4,14-21). As the Second Vatican Council aptly stressed: "The spirit of poverty and charity is the glory and witness of the Church of Christ" (Gaudium et Spes GS 88).
3. Your presence invites me to make another pressing appeal to all people of good will, particularly those with a role in the government or legislation, to alert their consciences and humanity. I appeal for the protection of every human life, especially the lives of the frailest, lowliest and poorest; and also for an end to all acts whose aim is to eliminate defenceless unborn children, for by so doing man makes himself the master of life. To scorn the life of little ones is, in a certain way, to scorn our own humanity, for we are bound by the same brotherhood and the same solidarity.
As I ask Our Lady of Lourdes to sustain you in your mission, I impart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of the Office Chrétien des Handicapés, to their families and to all who are involved in your activity.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I welcome you with great joy and warmly greet you all at the closing of the Symposium of Bishops of Africa and Europe. I greet especially the Presidents of the European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar (SECAM). I am grateful to them for the courteous words addressed to me on your behalf. I thank those whose efforts of promotion and collaboration have made this meeting a reality, aimed at increasing communion between the European and African Churches who are facing together issues of common interest. The theme itself of your Symposium says it: "Communion and solidarity between Africa and Europe".
2. Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, I rejoice that you have felt the desire to deepen the bonds of sacramental fraternity that give life to your pastoral responsibility at the service of God and neighbour. It is a duty that must be expressed in constant collaboration in the style of "exchanging gifts". Speaking of this, I would like to recall the bond of deep understanding that in the third century linked Sts Cornelius and Cyprian, Bishops respectively of Rome and Carthage. In their letters it clearly emerges that the unity of the Church is built on the Eucharist and manifested in a constant search for brotherly and supportive cooperation.
This style of fraternal love serves as a meaningful witness that the Pastors of the Churches in Europe and Africa are called to offer in order to confront the great challenges that question the Christian faith in today's globalized society.
3. Your Symposium has supported encounter and dialogue between the culture and mentality of Europe and that of Africa. It is a question of employing the different cultural traditions in a complementary way, enabling the various Ecclesial Communities to face existential issues side-by-side. These topics include the conception of humanity and society and the settings in which pastoral service is carried out, together with evangelization and ecumenical and interreligious relations.
Furthermore, the awareness of carrying out the same mission at the service of the Gospel in Europe and Africa makes you all the more attentive to the expectations of the universal family of peoples.
4. However, to bring to fulfilment this urgent missionary service, in the first place it is essential to cultivate prayer and personal contact with Christ. Therefore, in these days you have emphasized the prayerful support of your respective Ecclesial Communities, especially those of many monasteries scattered on the two Continents. I also join in this unanimous request for heavenly aid, invoking upon you the protection of Mary Most Holy, Star of Evangelization, together with the special intercession of St Augustine of Hippo, who is, as it were, a bridge between Africa and Europe. Exactly today is the 1,650th anniversary of his birth, and in these days his relics are in Rome.
5. Lastly, welcoming the aspirations of the Post-Synodal Council, an expression of the hopes of African Pastors, I take the occasion to announce my intention to convoke a Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops.
I entrust this project to your prayers, warmly inviting you all to implore the Lord for the precious gift of communion and peace for the beloved Land of Africa.
Repeating my thanks for your visit, I cordially impart a special Blessing to you, the Bishops' Conferences for Africa and Europe, and to all of the inhabitants of these Continents.
Speeches 2004 - Friday, 5 November 2004