I offer a cordial greeting to you all. I am pleased to welcome the representatives of this famous club, which for 100 years has been part of the scene in our city.
I know that during this century there have been splendid years, but there have also been difficult periods. I am pleased to hear that recent years have brought success upon success. I hope they will constantly increase.
May Krakow bear witness that by forming characters and teaching the nobility of competition and solidarity in effort, sports can be an expression of the highest human and social values.
God bless you!
I am pleased to welcome you at the presentation of the Letters of Credence accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Cuba to the Holy See. I am grateful for your kind words and for the greetings from Dr Fidel Castro Ruz, President of the Council of State and the Government of the Republic. I express my best wishes to him for his good health and for the integral prosperity of the beloved Cuban Nation. For this Nation I ask God, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, venerated in your Country under the lovely title: "Nuestra Señora de la Caridad del Cobre", to deepen the sentiments of mutual understanding and genuine brotherhood that will enable the Homeland to be the true home built by all.
At the same time, I can tell you of the interest with which I follow the commitment of the Cuban Authorities to maintaining and developing the goals they have succeeded in achieving with effort in the areas of health care, education at various levels and culture in its different expressions. The Holy See considers that by assuring these conditions of human life one sets in place some of the pillars in building up peace, which means not merely the absence of war but also the possibility for all a society's members to enjoy integral human advancement, good health and the harmonious development of mind and body.
Likewise, the Holy See keenly hopes that the obstacles standing in the way of free communication and exchanges between the Cuban Nation and a part of the international community can be removed as soon as possible, and thus the conditions required for its authentic development strengthened through respectful and open dialogue with one and all.
For its part, Cuba is distinguished for its spirit of solidarity, demonstrated by the personnel and material resources that it sends to relieve the basic needs of various peoples affected by natural disasters, war or poverty. The Church's social teaching has come a long way in recent years, particularly in shedding light on situations that require this dimension of solidarity, based on justice and truth. In this regard, the Church in Cuba, with her evangelizing presence and spirit of sincere and effective service to the Cuban People, strives to draw attention to her social magisterium, not only with words but also through practical advice and concrete achievements. The whole range of values and proposals, an integral part of the Church's teaching and her consequent social action, are part of her evangelizing mission, hence, also of her identity.
If the Church's action among the Cuban People is to be more effective in promoting the common good, it would be appropriate that she be able, in an atmosphere of genuine religious freedom (cf. Dignitatis Humanae DH 13), to maintain and increase the bonds of solidarity that already exist with her other Sister Churches. The latter do not hesitate to support the Cuban People generously in very different ways. In particular, they make available priests and men and women religious who further the work of the Catholic Church in Cuba, whose members belong to the Cuban People and who live united and in communion and harmony with the Apostolic See.
Indeed, in any pluralist society the Church offers guidelines and proposals that can lead to different viewpoints among those who share the faith and those who do not. Divergence here must not lead to any form of social conflict; rather, it must encourage a broad and constructive dialogue.
In this regard there are areas in which the Church in Cuba desires to shed light on the social situation, such as, for example, the widespread problems caused by the promotion of human dignity; consideration of the real situation of families and the education of the new generations in a culture of peace, life and hope; the complex relations between the economy and spiritual values; overall attention to the human person. These are the contexts in which to further dialogue with all the groups that comprise the Cuban People.
Mr Ambassador, at the time when you are beginning your duties in this diplomatic mission, I would like to confirm to you the willingness of the Holy See and of the Church in Cuba to persevere in their service to the men and women who live in your Country, and to take the path of constructive dialogue to overcome any differences. I renew my greetings to the Cuban Authorities and invoke God's help and an abundance of his Blessings upon you, your family and your collaborators, as well as upon the entire Cuban Nation which I always remember with affection.
Dear Crew members of the 31st Squadron of the Italian Air Force,
I welcome you with joy and greet you with affection! I greet in particular your Chief of Staff and thank him for his kind words on your behalf. I very gladly reciprocate with my warmest good wishes to you for the New Year that has just begun: may it be a serene and prosperous year for you all!
In 2005, the Church will continue to contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist, "the living bread which came down from heaven" (Jn 6,51) for our salvation. This bread of eternal life is Christ, the wellspring of our hope and the source of love from which gifts of justice, forgiveness and peace are constantly poured out upon the world. Let us experience the riches of this mystery, dear friends, especially by taking part in Holy Mass on Sundays, which for Christians is the centre and culmination of the week.
This is the hope that I express as I invoke the motherly protection of the Virgin Mary upon you and your families. On this occasion, I am also particularly eager to express my gratitude once again for the generous and special cooperation that you offer me in my pastoral ministry.
With these sentiments, I cordially impart my Blessing to you all.
Monday, 10 January 2005
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. The quiet joy which marks this season when the Church re-lives the mystery of the birth of Emmanuel and the mystery of his humble family in Nazareth, is very much a part of this, my yearly meeting with you, the distinguished Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See. In gathering here today, you in a certain way make visible the great family of the Nations.
This joy-filled and long-awaited meeting has opened with the message of good wishes, respect and appreciation for my universal concern on the part of your Dean, Professor Giovanni Galassi, Ambassador of San Marino. I am grateful for his kind words and I reciprocate with good wishes of peace and joy for all of you and your beloved families, and of peace and prosperity for the countries you represent.
I offer a particularly cordial word of welcome and good wishes to the thirty-seven Ambassadors who began their mission at the See of Peter in the past year, and to the members of their families.
2. These sentiments of joy are overshadowed, unfortunately, by the enormous catastrophe which on 26 December struck different countries of Southeast Asia and as far as the coasts of East Africa. It made for a painful ending of the year just past: a year troubled also by other natural calamities, such as the devastating cyclones in the Indian Ocean and the Antilles, and the plague of locusts which desolated vast regions of Northwest Africa. Other tragedies also cast a shadow on 2004, like the acts of barbarous terrorism which caused bloodshed in Iraq and other countries of the world, the savage attack in Madrid, the terrorist massacre in Beslan, the inhuman acts of violence inflicted on the people of Darfur, the atrocities perpetrated in the Great Lakes region of Africa.
These events have caused great anguish and distress, and we would feel a tragic concern for the future of humanity, were it not for the fact that from the cradle of Bethlehem there comes to us a message, both divine and human, of life and more certain hope: in Jesus Christ, who comes into the world as the brother of every man and woman and takes his place at our side, it is God himself who asks us not to yield to discouragement, but to overcome every difficulty, however great it may be, by strengthening the common bonds of our humanity and by making them prevail over all other considerations.
3. Your presence here, as representatives of almost all the peoples of the earth, immediately sets before our eyes the great tableau of humanity with its grave and troubling problems and its great and undampened hopes. The Catholic Church, because of her universal nature, is always directly engaged in the great causes for which the men and women of our age struggle and hope. She considers herself a stranger to no people, since wherever there are Christians, the whole body of the Church is called into play; indeed, wherever there is any one individual, we sense a bond of brotherhood. In her presence and her concern for the future of men and women everywhere, the Holy See knows that it can count on Your Excellencies to offer an important service, since it is precisely the mission of diplomats to transcend borders and to bring peoples and governments together in the desire to cooperate harmoniously, in scrupulous respect for each other's competencies, but at the same time in the quest for a higher common good.
4. In my Message for this year's World Day of Peace, I called the attention of the Catholic faithful and of all men and women of good will to the exhortation of the Apostle Paul: "Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good": vince in bono malum (Rm 12,21). There is a profound truth underlying these words: in the moral and social sphere, evil takes on the countenance of selfishness and hatred, which is negativity; it can only be overcome by love, which has the positivity of generous and disinterested giving, even to the point of self-sacrifice. This is the heart of the mystery of Christ's birth: to save humanity from the selfishness of sin and its corollary of death, God himself lovingly enters, in Christ, into the fullness of life, into human history, thus raising humanity to the horizon of an even greater life.
This is the message -"overcome evil with good"- which I would like to address today to your Excellencies, and through you to the beloved peoples whom you represent and to your Governments. This message also has a specific application to international relations, and it can be a guide to all in meeting the great challenges facing humanity today. Here I would like to point out some of the more significant ones:
5. The first is the challenge of life. Life is the first gift which God has given us, it is the first resource which man can enjoy. The Church is called to proclaim "the Gospel of Life". And the State has as its primary task precisely the safeguarding and promotion of human life.
The challenge to life has grown in scale and urgency in recent years. It has involved particularly the beginning of human life, when human beings are at their weakest and most in need of protection. Conflicting views have been put forward regarding abortion, assisted procreation, the use of human embryonic stem cells for scientific research, and cloning. The Church's position, supported by reason and science, is clear: the human embryo is a subject identical to the human being which will be born at the term of its development. Consequently whatever violates the integrity and the dignity of the embryo is ethically inadmissible. Similarly, any form of scientific research which treats the embryo merely as a laboratory specimen is unworthy of man. Scientific research in the field of genetics needs to be encouraged and promoted, but, like every other human activity, it can never be exempt from moral imperatives; research using adult stem cells, moreover, offers the promise of considerable success.
The challenge to life has also emerged with regard to the very sanctuary of life: the family.Today the family is often threatened by social and cultural pressures which tend to undermine its stability; but in some countries the family is also threatened by legislation which B at times directly B challenge its natural structure, which is and must necessarily be that of a union between a man and a woman founded on marriage. The family, as a fruitful source of life and a fundamental and irreplaceable condition for the happiness of the individual spouses, for the raising of children and for the well-being of society, and indeed for the material prosperity of the nation, must never be undermined by laws based on a narrow and unnatural vision of man. There needs to prevail a just, pure and elevated understanding of human love, which finds in the family its primordial and exemplary expression. Vince in bono malum.
6. The second challenge is that of food. This world, made wondrously fruitful by its Creator, possesses a sufficient quantity and variety of food for all its inhabitants, now and in the future. Yet the statistics on world hunger are dramatic: hundreds of millions of human beings are suffering from grave malnutrition, and each year millions of children die of hunger or its effects.
In fact, the alarm has been raised for some time now, and the leading international organizations have set important targets, at least for reducing the emergency. Concrete proposals have also been put forward, such as those discussed at the Meeting in New York on hunger and poverty held on 20 September 2004. I had asked Cardinal Angelo Sodano, Secretary of State, to represent me at that meeting, as a way of demonstrating the Church's great interest in this dramatic problem. Many non-governmental associations have also been generously committed to providing assistance. Yet all this is not enough. An adequate response to this need, which is growing in scale and urgency, calls for a vast moral mobilization of public opinion; the same applies all the more to political leaders, especially in those countries enjoying a sufficient or even prosperous standard of living.
In this regard, I would like to recall an important principle of the Church's social teaching, to which I once again made reference in my Message for this year's World Day of Peace and included in the recently-published Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: the principle of the universal destination of the earth's goods. While this principle cannot be used to justify collectivist forms of economic policy, it should serve to advance a radical commitment to justice and a more attentive and determined display of solidarity. This is the good which can overcome the evil of hunger and unjust poverty. Vince in bono malum.
7. There is also the challenge of peace. As a supreme good and the condition for attaining many other essential goods, peace is the dream of every generation. Yet how many wars and armed conflicts continue to take place - between States, ethnic groups, peoples and groups living in the same territory. From one end of the world to the other, they are claiming countless innocent victims and spawning so many other evils! Our thoughts naturally turn to different countries in the Middle East, Africa, Asia, and Latin America, where recourse to arms and violence has not only led to incalculable material damage, but also fomented hatred and increased the causes of tension, thereby adding to the difficulty of finding and implementing solutions capable of reconciling the legitimate interests of all the parties involved. In addition to these tragic evils there is the brutal, inhuman phenomenon of terrorism, a scourge which has taken on a global dimension unknown to previous generations.
How can the great challenge of building peace overcome such evils? As diplomats, you are men and women of peace by profession but also by personal vocation. You know the nature and extent of the means which the international community has at its disposal for keeping or restoring peace. Like my venerable predecessors, I have spoken out countless times, in public statements - especially in my annual Message for the World Day of Peace - and through the Holy See's diplomatic activity, and I shall continue to do so, pointing out the paths to peace and urging that they be followed with courage and patience. The arrogance of power must be countered with reason, force with dialogue, pointed weapons with outstretched hands, evil with good.
Many indeed are the men and women who are working towards this goal with courage and perseverance, and there are some encouraging signs that the great challenge of building peace can be met. In Africa, for instance, despite serious relapses into disagreements which appeared to have been resolved, there is a growing common will to resolve and prevent conflicts through a fuller cooperation between the great international organizations and continental groupings, like the African Union: examples of this were had in the meeting of the United Nations Security Council in Nairobi last November to discuss the humanitarian emergency in Darfur and the situation in Somalia, and in the international Conference on the Great Lakes region. In the Middle East, the land so dear and sacred to believers in the God of Abraham, armed confrontation appears to be decreasing, with the hope of a political breakthrough in the direction of dialogue and negotiation. Certainly an outstanding example of the possibility of peace can be seen in Europe: nations which were once fierce enemies locked in deadly wars are now members of the European Union, which during the past year aimed at further consolidation through the constitutional Treaty of Rome, while at the same time showing an openness to admitting other States willing to accept the requirements of membership.
Bringing about an authentic and lasting peace in this violence-filled world calls for a power of good that does not shrink before difficulties. It is a power that human beings on their own cannot obtain or preserve: it is a gift from God. Christ came to bring this gift to mankind, as the angels sang above the manger in Bethlehem: "peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lc 2,14). God loves mankind, and he wants peace for all men and women. We are asked to be active instruments of that peace, and to overcome evil with good. Vince in bono malum.
8. There is another challenge that I wish to mention: the challenge of freedom. All of you know how important this is to me, especially because of the history of my native people, yet it is also important to each of you. In your service as diplomats you are rightly concerned to protect the freedom of the peoples you represent, and you are diligent in defending that freedom. Yet freedom is first and foremost a right of each individual. As the Universal Declaration of Human Rights fittingly states in Article 1 -"all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights". Article 3 goes on to state that "everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person". Certainly the freedom of States is also sacred; they need to be free, above all so that they can carry out adequately their fundamental duty of safeguarding both the life and the freedom of their citizens in all their legitimate manifestations.
Freedom is a great good, because only by freedom can human beings find fulfilment in a manner befitting their nature. Freedom is like light: it enables one to choose responsibly his proper goals and the right means of achieving them. At the very heart of human freedom is the right to religious freedom, since it deals with man's most fundamental relationship: his relationship with God. Religious freedom is expressly guaranteed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (cf. Article 18). It was also the subject - as all of you are well aware - of a solemn Declaration of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, one which began with the significant words Dignitatis Humanae.
In many States, freedom of religion is a right which is not yet sufficiently or adequately recognized. Yet the yearning for freedom of religion cannot be suppressed: as long as human beings are alive, it will always be present and pressing. Consequently I repeat today an appeal which the Church has already made on numerous occasions: "It is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee, and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society" (Dignitatis Humanae DH 15).
There need be no fear that legitimate religious freedom would limit other freedoms or be injurious to the life of civil society. On the contrary: together with religious freedom, all other freedoms develop and thrive, inasmuch as freedom is an indivisible good, the prerogative of the human person and his dignity. Neither should there be a fear that religious freedom, once granted to the Catholic Church, would intrude upon the realm of political freedom and the competencies proper to the State: the Church is able carefully to distinguish, as she must, what belongs to Caesar from what belongs to God (cf. Mt Mt 22,21). She actively cooperates in promoting the common good of society, inasmuch as she repudiates falsehood and educates to truth, she condemns hatred and contempt, and she calls for a spirit of brotherhood; always and everywhere she encourages - as history clearly shows - works of charity, science and the arts. She asks only for freedom, so that she can effectively cooperate with all public and private institutions concerned with the good of mankind. True freedom always aims at overcoming evil with good. Vince in bono malum.
Your Excellencies, in the year now beginning I am certain that, as you carry out your lofty mandate, you will continue to accompany the Holy See in its daily efforts to meet, in accordance with its specific responsibilities, the abovementioned challenges which affect all humanity. Jesus Christ, whose birth we have celebrated in these days, was foretold by the Prophet as Admirabilis Consiliarius, Princeps Pacis, "Wonderful Counselor, Prince of Peace" (Is 9,5). May the light of his word, his spirit of justice and brotherhood, and the gift of his peace, so needed and so desired, a peace which he offers to all, shine upon your lives, your beloved families and your dear ones, upon your noble countries and upon all humanity.
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I welcome you with joy and offer you all my cordial greeting. I greet first of all the Prefect of the Congregation for the Oriental Churches and thank him for his courteous words on behalf of everyone present. I extend my greeting to the Communities you represent here and to those who are taking part in your Synod on the theme: "Communion and Gospel Proclamation".
This topic is particularly timely both for your two Eparchies and for the Exarchial Monastery of Grottaferrata. Heirs to a common spiritual heritage, your ecclesial institutions are called to witness to the unity of the same faith in different social contexts. They collaborate in pastoral affairs with the communities of Latin tradition and continue to strengthen their identity, treasuring their 1,000-year-old Byzantine tradition.
2. To encourage all this, your Synod has placed an emphasis on essential topics such as catechesis and mystagogy, with a view to the satisfactory spiritual growth of the entire People of God. The Synod has also determined theological and ascetical approaches for the training of clergy and members of institutes of consecrated life. In addition, to avoid any undue alteration in the spiritual identity that distinguishes you, you intend to encourage a sound formation that is rooted in the Eastern tradition and can respond effectively to the growing challenges of secularization.
The Holy See, through the Congregation for the Oriental Churches, will not fail to offer its support to this practical renewal, while you will be able to find useful references to back your efforts in the texts of the Second Vatican Council and the Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches.
3. The Byzantine-rite Mirabilia Dei for humanity and, in this regard, the Anaphoras of St John Chrysostom and St Basil, serve as sublime examples. The Eucharistic Prayers and the celebration of the other sacraments, such as the full development of the liturgy and divine worship with their rich hymnography, are a powerful vehicle of catechesis for the Christian people.
You celebrate almost daily the Divine Liturgy of St John Chrysostom, who has been called "Mouth-of-Gold" for his oratorical skill and knowledge of Sacred Scripture. Still today, his words penetrate human ears and hearts. You are right, therefore, to make his words ring out, comprehensible to all, in the languages of our time.
4. I next encourage you, through your common liturgical tradition, to pursue your contacts with the Orthodox Churches, which also desire to glorify the One God and Saviour. May Almighty God, who at Christmas, just over, has revealed his divine tenderness in the luminous Incarnation of the Word, grant that all believers in Christ may live to the full the unity of the same faith. I pray for this, and I ask the Lord that your Synod may contribute to encouraging a renewed proclamation of the Gospel in every one of your Communities, as well as vigorous ecumenical enthusiasm.
I entrust this ardent hope to Mary Most Holy, Mother of God, as I wholeheartedly impart to you who are present here and to your Eparchies a special Apostolic Blessing.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. I am pleased to welcome you at the beginning of the New Year for the traditional exchange of greetings, and I offer each one of you my most cordial good wishes.
I greet respectfully Hon. Mr Francesco Storace, President of the Lazio Region, Hon. Mr Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome, and Hon. Mr Enrico Gasbarra, President of the Province of Rome. I thank them for expressing the common sentiments of those present. I also greet the Presidents and Members of the three Council Assemblies and their staff. My thoughts then go to all the inhabitants of the City, Province and Region; I affectionately wish them a year of serenity, spiritual and civil growth, and peace.
2. On this occasion, I would like first of all to tell you once again of my deep pleasure at the approval of the Statutes of the Lazio Region. Indeed, in addition to emphasizing Rome's role as a centre of Catholicism, they explicitly recognize the primacy of the person and the fundamental value of life. They also recognize the rights of the family as a natural society founded on marriage, they propose to support families in the fulfilment of their social role, and they explicitly mention the regional permanent observer on families. The Statutes also provide for the Region to guarantee the right to study and freedom in the choice of education.
3. A further cause for satisfaction is the signing of the Protocol of Agreement between the Vicariate, the Municipality and the Region concerning the construction of new parish complexes on the city outskirts. This Accord, rightly inspired by the principle of subsidiarity, will make it easier to build new parishes which, in addition to providing pastoral care, also upgrade the urban area and function as social centres where people can meet. Also on the agenda is collaboration between the Church and the Municipal, Provincial and Regional Institutions for the promotion of cultural events that will make the most of our great artistic, historical and spiritual heritage.
4. Among the problems that deserve special attention, I would like first to point out housing, especially for young families with a modest income. A joint effort by the institutions is indispensable in this regard, given the social implications that the lack of an adequate home entails for founding a new family and for having children.
The sad phenomena of drug addiction and more generally, hardship among youth, in turn require constant watchful attention and commitment, to provide young people with as good a future as possible.
Then what can be said of the urban traffic that becomes more congested and nerve-wracking from year to year? It causes considerable difficulties in the daily lives of many people and families. I very much hope that the bodies concerned can combine their contribution to improve the situation of urban traffic and transport. I eagerly hope that the matter of the condition of the roads and of city transport may be radically confronted with the contribution of all responsible bodies. With this in view, the opening of new communicating thoroughfares would certainly be helpful.
5. Honourable Representatives of the Regional, Provincial and Municipal Boards, I assure you of the support of my prayers for you and your daily work. With these sentiments, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and gladly extend it to your families and to all who live and work in Rome, in its Province and throughout Lazio.
A warm welcome to you! I thank the Archbishop and the Rector for their words. I am delighted to offer hospitality to such distinguished representatives of the University of Silesia, accompanied by the Ordinary of Katowice and the Mayor of the City.
According to the classical concept, a university without a theological faculty could not exist; it would have been considered incomplete. Today, this has changed. Nevertheless, it is obvious that the presence of the theological sciences, among the other branches of learning at the university, creates the possibility of a valid exchange of ideas. Fides et ratio converge in the quest for wisdom. They use different tools and methods but enrich each other on the way to the discovery of the many facets of the truth.
I hope that the University of Silesia in Katowice may reap a rich harvest from this collaboration that began four years ago. I ask the Rector and all of you, distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, to convey my greeting and my Blessing to all the teachers and students of your Athenaeum. God bless you!
Your Excellencies and dear Friends from Finland,
With affection I welcome the Ecumenical Delegation which has come to Rome on the occasion of the feast of Finland’s Patron, Saint Henrik.