Saint Peter's Square
Wednesday, 5 May 2010



Munus sanctificandi

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

During my recent visit to Turin, I prayed before the sacred Shroud, which invites us to contemplate the face of Christ and to ponder the mystery of his death and resurrection. As members of Christís Body, the Church, all the baptized are called to share in his saving work. In these final days of the Year for Priests, however, I would like to return to the specific ministry of the priest and, today, to his ministry of sanctification. Holiness, as we know, is proper to God, who is himself absolute truth, goodness, love and beauty. As ministers of Christ, priests bring us into life-giving contact with the mystery of Godís holiness. Thanks to the priestís preaching of the Gospel and his celebration of the sacraments, we are enabled to approach God and to be transformed gradually into the divine image. In the celebration of the sacraments, and in particular the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, Christís sanctifying work is constantly made present and effective. In their devout celebration of the sacraments, priests sanctify the faithful and are themselves sanctified and configured ever more closely to Christ. I ask all of you to pray for priests and their ministry of sanctification, that they may be true shepherds according to Godís heart.

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I offer a cordial welcome to the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at todayís Audience. My warm greetings go to the teachers and students of the Institute of Saint Joseph in Copenhagen. Upon all of you, including those from England, Scotland, Canada, Indonesia and the United States of America, I invoke Almighty Godís blessings of joy and peace!

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I send cordial greetings to all who will be taking part in the Congress on the Family in JŲnkŲping, Sweden, later this month. Your message to the world is truly a message of joy, because Godís gift to us of marriage and family life enables us to experience something of the infinite love that unites the three divine persons Ė Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Human beings, made in the image and likeness of God, are made for love Ė indeed at the core of our being, we long to love and to be loved in return. Only Godís love can fully satisfy our deepest needs, and yet through the love of husband and wife, the love of parents and children, the love of siblings for one another, we are offered a foretaste of the boundless love that awaits us in the life to come. Marriage is truly an instrument of salvation, not only for married people but for the whole of society.  Like any truly worthwhile goal, it places demands upon us, it challenges us, it calls us to be prepared to sacrifice our own interests for the good of the other. It requires us to exercise tolerance and to offer forgiveness. It invites us to nurture and protect the gift of new life. Those of us fortunate enough to be born into a stable family discover there the first and most fundamental school for virtuous living and the qualities of good citizenship. I encourage all of you in your efforts to promote a proper understanding and appreciation of the inestimable good that marriage and family life offer to human society. May God bless all of you.


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