Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Fatima, Portugal, May 2010
On the Papal Trip to Portugal
"A Touching and Rich Experience of So Many Spiritual Gifts"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear brothers and sisters,
Today I wish to go over with you the various stages of the apostolic journey I undertook in recent days to Portugal, moved especially by a sentiment of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, who in Fatima transmitted to her visionaries and to pilgrims an intense love for the Successor of Peter. I thank God who gave me the possibility to pay homage to that people, to its long and glorious history of faith and Christian witness. Hence, as I requested you to accompany me on this pastoral visit with prayer, I now ask you to join me in thanking the Lord for its happy development and conclusion. I entrust to him the fruits that it has brought and will bring to the Portuguese ecclesial community and to the whole population.
I renew the expression of my gratitude to the president of the republic, Mr. Aníbal Cavaco Silva, and to the other authorities of the state, who received me with so much courtesy and planned everything so that all would unfold in the best way. With intense affection, I think of my brother bishops of the Portuguese dioceses, whom I had the joy to embrace in their land and I thank them fraternally for all that they did for the spiritual and organizational preparation of my visit, and for a notable profuse diligence in its fulfillment. I direct a particular thought to the patriarch of Lisbon, Cardinal José da Cruz Policarpo, to the bishops of Leiria-Fatima, António Augusto dos Santos Marto, and of Porto, Manuel Macário do Nascimento Clemente, and to their respective collaborators, as well as to the various organizations of the episcopal conference led by Archbishop Jorge Ortiga.
Throughout the whole trip, which occurred on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the beatification of the little shepherds Jacinta and Francisco, I felt sustained spiritually by my beloved predecessor, the Venerable John Paul II, who went three times to Fatima, thanking that "invisible hand" that delivered him from death in the attack of the 13th of May, here in St. Peter's Square.
On the evening of my arrival I celebrated Holy Mass in Lisbon in the enchanting scene of the Terreiro do Paco, which looks out on the Tago River. It was a liturgical assembly of celebration and hope, animated by the joyful participation of very numerous faithful. In the capital, from where so many missionaries left over the course of the centuries to take the Gospel to many continents, I encouraged the various components of the local Church to a vigorous evangelizing action in the various realms of society, to be sowers of hope in a world often marked by mistrust. In particular, I exhorted believers to be heralds of the death and resurrection of Christ, heart of Christianity, fulcrum and support of our faith and reason of our joy.
I was able to manifest these sentiments also in the course of the meeting with representatives of the world of culture, held in the Cultural Center of Belem. In this circumstance I made evident the patrimony of values with which Christianity has enriched the culture, art and tradition of the Portuguese people. In this noble land, as in every other country marked profoundly by Christianity, it is possible to build a future of fraternal understanding and of collaboration with other cultural entities, opening mutually to a sincere and respectful dialogue.
I then went to Fatima, a town characterized by an atmosphere of real mysticism, in which one perceives in an almost palpable way the presence of Our Lady. I made myself a pilgrim with the pilgrims in that wonderful shrine, spiritual heart of Portugal and destination of a multitude of persons from the most diverse places of the world. After having paused in prayer and overwhelming recollection in the Chapel of the Apparitions in Cova da Iria, presenting to the heart of the Holy Virgin the joys and expectations as well as the problems and sufferings of the whole world, I had the joy of presiding over the celebration of vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Church of the Most Holy Trinity. Inside this great and modern church, I manifested my heartfelt appreciation to priests, to men and women religious, to deacons and to seminarians who came from every part of Portugal, thanking them for their witness -- often silent and not always easy -- and for their fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church. In this Year for Priests, which is coming to an end, I encouraged the priests to give priority to a religious listening of the Word of God, to profound knowledge of Christ, to the intense celebration of the Eucharist, looking at the luminous example of the Holy Curé d'Ars. I did not fail to entrust and consecrate to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, the true model of a disciple of the Lord, the priests of the whole world.
In the evening, with thousands of persons who met in the great esplanade in front of the shrine, I took part in a thought-provoking torchlight procession. It was a stupendous manifestation of faith in God and of devotion to his and our Mother, expressed with the recitation of the holy rosary. This prayer, so dear to the Christian people, has found in Fatima a propelling center for the whole Church and the world. The "White Lady," in the apparition of June 13, said to the three little shepherds: "I want you to recite the rosary every day." We can say that Fatima and the rosary are almost a synonym.
My visit to that very special place had its culmination in the Eucharistic celebration of May 13, the anniversary of Our Lady's first apparition to Francisco, Jacinta and Lucía. Re-echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah, I invited that immense assembly, gathered with great love and devotion at the feet of the Virgin, to rejoice fully in the Lord (cf. Isaiah 61:10), because his merciful love, which accompanies our pilgrimage on this earth, is the source of our great hope. Precisely charged with hope is the exacting and at the same time consoling message that Our Lady left in Fatima. It is a message centered on prayer, on penance and on conversion, which is projected beyond the threats, the dangers and the horrors of history, to invite man to have confidence in God's action, to cultivate great hope, and to experience the Lord's grace to be enamored of him, source of love and peace.
Significant in this perspective was the overwhelming meeting with the organizations of social ministry, to which I indicated the style of the Good Samaritan in going to meet the needs of our neediest brothers and to serve Christ, promoting the common good. Many young people learn the importance of gratuitousness precisely in Fatima, which is a school of faith and prayer, because it is also a school of charity and of service to brothers.
Held in such a context of faith and prayer was the important and fraternal meeting with the Portuguese episcopate, at the end of my visit to Fatima: It was a moment of intense spiritual communion, in which together we thanked the Lord for the fidelity of the Church that is in Portugal and entrusted to the Virgin our common pastoral expectations and concerns. To such pastoral hopes and prospects I also made reference in the course of the Holy Mass celebrated in the historic and symbolic city of Porto, the "City of the Virgin," the last stage of my pilgrimage on Lusitanian soil. I reminded the great crowd of faithful gathered in the Avenue dos Aliados of the commitment to witness the Gospel in every environment, offering the world the Risen Christ, so that every situation of difficulty, of suffering, of fear is transformed, through the Holy Spirit, into an occasion of growth and life.
Dear brothers and sisters, the pilgrimage in Portugal was for me a touching and rich experience of so many spiritual gifts. While I have fixed in my mind and heart the images of this unforgettable trip, the warm and spontaneous reception, the enthusiasm of the people, I give praise to the Lord because Mary, appearing to the three little shepherds, opened to the world a privileged space to find divine mercy that heals and saves.
In Fatima, the Holy Virgin invites all to consider the earth as the place of our pilgrimage to our definitive homeland, which is heaven. In fact, we are all pilgrims, we are in need of the Mother who guides us. "With you we walk in hope. Wisdom and Mission" was the motto of my apostolic journey to Portugal, and in Fatima the Blessed Virgin Mary invites us to walk with great hope, allowing ourselves to be guided by the "wisdom of on high," which was manifested in Jesus, the wisdom of love, to take to the world the light and joy of Christ.
Hence, I invite you to unite yourselves to my prayer, asking the Lord to bless the efforts of all those, in that beloved nation, who are dedicated to the service of the Gospel and to the search for the true good of man, of every man. Let us pray, moreover, so that through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Holy Spirit will make this apostolic journey fruitful, and animate in the whole world the mission of the Church, instituted by Christ to proclaim to all peoples the Gospel of truth, of peace and of love.
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
My Pastoral Visit to Portugal this past week enabled me to honor Our Lady of Fatima and to pay homage to the distinguished history of Christian faith and evangelizing zeal of the Portuguese people. The visit began with a Mass celebrated in the Terreiro do Paco in Lisbon, where I urged Portugal's Christians to carry on this great work of evangelization in our own day. The heart of my journey was my pilgrimage to Fatima for the tenth anniversary of the Beatification of the shepherd children Francisco and Jacinta. The evening recitation of the Rosary and the solemn Mass on the anniversary of the first apparition were centered on the message of Fatima. Our Lady's exhortation to prayer, penance and conversion is essentially a summons to hope in God's merciful love and trust in his saving plan, which triumphs over the threats and calamities of history. As I give thanks for the blessings of my pilgrimage, I ask you to join me in asking Our Lady of Fatima to continue, by her prayers, to guide us on our journey to heaven, to open the hearts of all to God's infinite mercy, and to confirm the Church in her perennial mission of proclaiming before the world the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am pleased to welcome the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today's Audience, including the groups from England, Malaysia and the United States of America. I extend a special greeting to the students who are here and to the American Patrons of the Vatican Museums. Commending all of you to the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, I ask Almighty God to pour out his blessings upon you.
Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Homily at Fatima Mass
"Yes! God Can Come to Us, and Show Himself to the Eyes of our Heart"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today at a Mass in Fatima.
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"Their descendants shall be renowned among the nations [...], they are a people whom the Lord has blessed" (Is 61:9). So the first reading of this Eucharist began, and its words are wonderfully fulfilled in this assembly devoutly gathered at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima. Dearly beloved brothers and sisters, I too have come as a pilgrim to Fatima, to this "home" from which Mary chose to speak to us in modern times. I have come to Fatima to rejoice in Mary's presence and maternal protection. I have come to Fatima, because today the pilgrim Church, willed by her Son as the instrument of evangelization and the sacrament of salvation, converges upon this place. I have come to Fatima to pray, in union with Mary and so many pilgrims, for our human family, afflicted as it is by various ills and sufferings. Finally, I have come to Fatima with the same sentiments as those of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, and the Servant of God Lúcia, in order to entrust to Our Lady the intimate confession that "I love" Jesus, that the Church and priests "love" him and desire to keep their gaze fixed upon him as this Year for Priests comes to its end, and in order to entrust to Mary's maternal protection priests, consecrated men and women, missionaries and all those who by their good works make the House of God a place of welcome and charitable outreach.
These are the "people whom the Lord has blessed". The people whom the Lord has blessed are you, the beloved Diocese of Leiria-Fatima, with your pastor, Bishop Antonio Marto. I thank him for his words of greeting at the beginning of Mass, and for the gracious hospitality shown particularly by his collaborators at this Shrine. I greet the President of the Republic and the other authorities who serve this glorious Nation. I spiritually embrace all the Dioceses of Portugal, represented here by their Bishops, and I entrust to Heaven all the nations and peoples of the earth. In God I embrace all their sons and daughters, particularly the afflicted or outcast, with the desire of bringing them that great hope which burns in my own heart, and which here, in Fatima, can be palpably felt. May our great hope sink roots in the lives of each of you, dear pilgrims, and of all those who join us through the communications media.
Yes! The Lord, our great hope, is with us. In his merciful love, he offers a future to his people: a future of communion with himself. After experiencing the mercy and consolation of God who did not forsake them along their wearisome return from the Babylonian Exile, the people of God cried out: "I greatly rejoice in the Lord, my whole being exults in my God" (Is 61:10). The resplendent daughter of this people is the Virgin Mary of Nazareth who, clothed with grace and sweetly marvelling at God's presence in her womb, made this joy and hope her own in the canticle of the Magnificat: "My spirit rejoices in God my Saviour". She did not view herself as a fortunate individual in the midst of a barren people, but prophecied for them the sweet joys of a wondrous maternity of God, for "his mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation" (Lk 1:47, 50).
This holy place is the proof of it. In seven years you will return here to celebrate the centenary of the first visit made by the Lady "come from heaven", the Teacher who introduced the little seers to a deep knowledge of the Love of the Blessed Trinity and led them to savour God himself as the most beautiful reality of human existence. This experience of grace made them fall in love with God in Jesus, so much so that Jacinta could cry out: "How much I delight in telling Jesus that I love him! When I tell him this often, I feel as if I have a fire in my breast, yet it does not burn me". And Francisco could say: "What I liked most of all was seeing Our Lord in that light which Our Mother put into our hearts. I love God so much!" (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 42 and 126).
Brothers and sisters, in listening to these innocent and profound mystical confidences of the shepherd children, one might look at them with a touch of envy for what they were able to see, or with the disappointed resignation of someone who was not so fortunate, yet still demands to see. To such persons, the Pope says, as does Jesus: "Is not this the reason you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God?" (Mk 12:24). The Scriptures invite us to believe: "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" (Jn 20:29), but God, who is more deeply present to me than I am to myself (cf. Saint Augustine, Confessions, III, 6, 11) - has the power to come to us, particularly through our inner senses, so that the soul can receive the gentle touch of a reality which is beyond the senses and which enables us to reach what is not accessible or visible to the senses. For this to happen, we must cultivate an interior watchfulness of the heart which, for most of the time, we do not possess on account of the powerful pressure exerted by outside realities and the images and concerns which fill our soul (cf. Theological Commentary on The Message of Fatima, 2000). Yes! God can come to us, and show himself to the eyes of our heart.
Moreover, that Light deep within the shepherd children, which comes from the future of God, is the same Light which was manifested in the fullness of time and came for us all: the Son of God made man. He has the power to inflame the coldest and saddest of hearts, as we see in the case of the disciples on the way to Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:32). Henceforth our hope has a real foundation, it is based on an event which belongs to history and at the same time transcends history: Jesus of Nazareth. The enthusiasm roused by his wisdom and his saving power among the people of that time was such that a woman in the midst of the crowd - as we heard in the Gospel - cried out: "Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts that nursed you!". And Jesus said: "Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it!" (Lk 11:27-28). But who finds time to hear God's word and to let themselves be attracted by his love? Who keeps watch, in the night of doubt and uncertainty, with a heart vigilant in prayer? Who awaits the dawn of the new day, fanning the flame of faith? Faith in God opens before us the horizon of a sure hope, one which does not disappoint; it indicates a solid foundation on which to base one's life without fear; it demands a faith-filled surrender into the hands of the Love which sustains the world.
"Their descendants shall be known among the nations, [...] they are a people whom the Lord has blessed" (Is 61:9) with an unshakable hope which bears fruit in a love which sacrifices for others, yet does not sacrifice others. Rather, as we heard in the second reading, this love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (1 Cor 13:7). An example and encouragement is to be found in the shepherd children, who offered their whole lives to God and shared them fully with others for love of God. Our Lady helped them to open their hearts to universal love. Blessed Jacinta, in particular, proved tireless in sharing with the needy and in making sacrifices for the conversion of sinners. Only with this fraternal and generous love will we succeed in building the civilization of love and peace.
We would be mistaken to think that Fatima's prophetic mission is complete. Here there takes on new life the plan of God which asks humanity from the beginning: "Where is your brother Abel [...] Your brother's blood is crying out to me from the ground!" (Gen 4:9). Mankind has succeeded in unleashing a cycle of death and terror, but failed in bringing it to an end... In sacred Scripture we often find that God seeks righteous men and women in order to save the city of man and he does the same here, in Fatima, when Our Lady asks: "Do you want to offer yourselves to God, to endure all the sufferings which he will send you, in an act of reparation for the sins by which he is offended and of supplication for the conversion of sinners?" (Memoirs of Sister Lúcia, I, 162).
At a time when the human family was ready to sacrifice all that was most sacred on the altar of the petty and selfish interests of nations, races, ideologies, groups and individuals, our Blessed Mother came from heaven, offering to implant in the hearts of all those who trust in her the Love of God burning in her own heart. At that time it was only to three children, yet the example of their lives spread and multiplied, especially as a result of the travels of the Pilgrim Virgin, in countless groups throughout the world dedicated to the cause of fraternal solidarity. May the seven years which separate us from the centenary of the apparitions hasten the fulfilment of the prophecy of the triumph of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity.
©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Greeting to the Sick
"You Can Overcome the Feeling of the Uselessness of Suffering"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the words Benedict XVI addressed today to the sick gathered at the Fatima shrine. He had finished celebrating Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
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Dear brothers and sisters who are sick,
Before I walk among you carrying the monstrance containing Jesus present in the Eucharist, I would like to offer you a word of encouragement and hope, a word which I extend to all those following us on television and radio, and to those without even such means, but who are united to us by the deeper bonds of the Spirit, that is, in faith and prayer.
My dear brother and sister, in the eyes of God you are “worth so much to God that he himself became man in order to suffer with man in an utterly real way -- in flesh and blood -- as is revealed to us in the account of Jesus's Passion. Hence in all human suffering we are joined by one who experiences and carries that suffering with us; hence con-solatio is present in all suffering, the consolation of God's compassionate love -- and so the star of hope rises” (Spe Salvi, 39). With such hope in your heart, you can leave behind the quicksand of illness and death and stand on the firm rock of divine love. In other words, you can overcome the feeling of the uselessness of suffering which consumes a person from within and makes him feel a burden to those around him when, in reality, suffering which is lived with Jesus assists in the salvation of your brethren.
How is this possible? Because the spring of divine power rises in the midst of human weakness. This is the paradox of the Gospel. Therefore, the divine Master, instead of explaining the reasons for suffering, preferred to call everyone to follow him, saying: Take up your cross and follow me (cf. Mk 8:34). Come with me. With your suffering, take part in the work of salvation which is realized through my suffering, by means of my cross. As you gradually embrace your own cross, uniting yourself spiritually to my cross, the salvific meaning of suffering will be revealed to you. And in suffering, you will discover an interior peace and even spiritual joy.
Dear friends who are sick, welcome the call of Jesus who will shortly pass among you in the Most Blessed Sacrament, and entrust to him every setback and pain that you face, so that they become -- according to his design -- a means of redemption for the whole world. You will be redeemers with the Redeemer, just as you are sons in the Son. At the cross … stands the mother of Jesus, our mother.
[The Holy Father also greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]
I welcome the English-speaking pilgrims present today who have come from near and far. As we offer our fervent prayers to our Lady of Fátima, I encourage you to ask her to intercede for the needs of the Church throughout the world. I cordially invoke God’s blessing upon all of you, and in a particular way upon the young and those who are sick.
©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Address to Charity Organizations
"Anyone Who Learns From the God Who Is Love Will Inevitably Be a Person for Others"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Fatima at a meeting with those who work in charities.
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Dear brothers and sisters,
You have heard Jesus say: "Go and do likewise" (Lk 10:37). He exhorts us to imitate the example of the Good Samaritan, which was just now proclaimed, when approaching situations which call for fraternal assistance. And what is this example? It is that of "a heart which sees". "This heart sees where love is needed and acts accordingly" (Deus Caritas Est, 31). This is how the Good Samaritan acted. Jesus does not only exhort us; as the Fathers of the Church taught, he is himself the Good Shepherd who draws near to each man and "pours upon his wounds the oil of consolation and the wine of hope" (Portuguese Common Preface VIII). Christ then leads him to the inn, which is the Church, entrusts him to the care of his ministers and pays in person, beforehand, for his healing. "Go and do likewise". The unconditional love of Jesus which has healed us must now become a love bestowed freely and generously, through justice and charity, if we want to live with a good Samaritan's heart.
I am very happy to meet you in this holy place where God chose to remind mankind, through Mary, of his plan of merciful love. I offer a friendly greeting to all of you, and to the institutions which you represent. Yours is a variety of faces, all one in concern for social issues and, above all, in showing compassion to the poor, the infirm, prisoners, the lonely and abandoned, the disabled, children and the elderly, migrants, the unemployed and all those who experience needs which compromise personal dignity and freedom. I thank Bishop Carlos Azevedo, for the pledge of communion and fidelity to the Church and to the Pope which he has expressed both on the part of this assembly of charity and of the Episcopal Commission for Pastoral Social Work of which he is President, which constantly encourages this great sowing of charitable works throughout Portugal. Conscious, as the Church, of not being able to provide practical solutions to each concrete problem, and lacking any kind of power, yet determined to serve the common good, you are ready to assist and to offer the means of salvation to all.
Dear brothers and sisters working in the vast world of charity, "Christ reveals to us that ‘God is love' (1 Jn 4:8) and at the same time teaches that the fundamental law of human perfection, and consequently of the transformation of the world, is the new commandment of love. He assures those who trust in the charity of God that the way of love is open to all" (Gaudium et Spes, 38). History presently offers us a scenario of socio-economic, cultural and spiritual crisis, which highlights the need for a discernment guided by a creative proposal of the Church's social message. The study of her social doctrine, which takes charity as its principal strength and guide, will make possible a process of integral human development capable of engaging the depths of the human heart and achieving a greater humanization of society (cf. Caritas in Veritate, 20). This is not simply a matter of intellectual knowledge, but of a wisdom which can provide creativity, a sort of flavour and seasoning, to the intellectual and practical approaches aimed at meeting this broad and complex crisis. May the Church's institutions, together with all non-ecclesial organizations, perfect their theoretical analyses and their concrete directives in view of a new and grandiose process capable of leading to "that civilization of love, whose seed God has planted in every people, in every culture" (ibid., 33).
In its social and political dimension, this service of charity is the proper realm of the lay faithful, who are called to promote organically justice and the common good, and to configure social life correctly (cf.Deus Caritas Est, 29). One pastoral conclusion which emerged in your recent reflections is that a new generation of servant leaders needs to be trained. Attracting new lay workers for this pastoral field surely calls for particular concern on the part of the Church's pastors as they look to the future. Anyone who learns from the God who is Love will inevitably be a person for others. In effect, "the love of God is revealed in responsibility for others" (Spe Salvi, 28). United to Christ in his consecration to the Father, we are seized by his compassion for the multitudes who cry out for justice and solidarity, and like the Good Samaritan in the parable, committed to providing concrete and generous responses.
Often, however, it is not easy to arrive at a satisfactory synthesis between spiritual life and apostolic activity. The pressure exerted by the prevailing culture, which constantly holds up a lifestyle based on the law of the stronger, on easy and attractive gain, ends up influencing our ways of thinking, our projects and the goals of our service, and risks emptying them of the motivation of faith and Christian hope which had originally inspired them. The many pressing requests which we receive for support and assistance from the poor and marginalized of society impel us to look for solutions which correspond to the logic of efficiency, quantifiable effects and publicity. Nonetheless, the synthesis which I mentioned above is absolutely necessary, dear brothers and sisters, if you are to serve Christ in the men and women who look to you. In this world of division, all of us are called to have a profound and authentic unity of heart, spirit and action.
The many social institutions which serve the common good, and are close to those in need, include those of the Catholic Church. The guiding principles of the latter need to be clear, so that they can be clearly indentifiable by the inspiration of their aims, in the choice of their human resources, in their methods of operation, in the quality of their services, and in the serious and effective management of their means. The solid identity of these institutions provides a real service, and is of great help to those who benefit from them. Beyond this issue of identity, and connected with it, it is a fundamental step to ensure that Christian charitable activity is granted autonomy and independence from politics and ideologies (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31b), even while cooperating with state agencies in the pursuit of common goals.
The services you provide, and your educational and charitable activities, must all be crowned by projects of freedom whose goal is human promotion and universal fraternity. Here we can locate the urgent commitment of Christians in defence of human rights, with concern for the totality of the human person in its various dimensions. I express my deep appreciation for all those social and pastoral initiatives aimed at combating the socio-economic and cultural mechanisms which lead to abortion, and are openly concerned to defend life and to promote the reconciliation and healing of those harmed by the tragedy of abortion. Initiatives aimed at protecting the essential and primary values of life, beginning at conception, and of the family based on the indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman, help to respond to some of today's most insidious and dangerous threats to the common good. Such initiatives represent, alongside numerous other forms of commitment, essential elements in the building of the civilization of love.
All this fits very closely with the message of Our Lady which resounds in this place: penance, prayer and forgiveness aimed at the conversion of hearts. In this way you are building the civilization of love, whose seeds God has sown in the heart of every man and woman, to which faith in Christ the Saviour gives abundant growth.
©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Benedict XVI's Address to Bishops
"Join Your Voice to the Voices of the Least Powerful"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 13, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Fatima when he met with Portuguese bishops.
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Dear Brother Bishops,
I thank God for giving me this occasion to meet all of you here at the Shrine of Fatima, the spiritual heart of Portugal, where multitudes of pilgrims from all over the world come looking to discover or to reinforce their certainty in the truths of Heaven. Among them has come from Rome the Successor of Peter, accepting the oft-repeated invitations and moved by a debt of gratitude to the Virgin Mary, who herself transmitted to her seers and pilgrims an intense love for the Holy Father which has borne fruit in a great multitude which prays, with Jesus as its guide: Peter, "I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:32).
As you see, the Pope needs to open himself ever more fully to the mystery of the Cross, embracing it as the one hope and the supreme way to gain and to gather in the Crucified One all his brothers and sisters in humanity. Obeying the word of God, he is called to live not for himself but for the presence of God in the world. I am comforted by the determination with which you too follow me closely, fearing nothing except the loss of eternal salvation for your people, as was clearly expressed in the words of greeting spoken by Archbishop Jorge Ortiga upon my arrival in your midst, and which testify to the unconditional fidelity of the Bishops of Portugal to the Successor of Peter. From my heart I thank you. I thank you as well for all the attention that you have given to organizing my Visit. May God reward you, and pour out the Holy Spirit in abundance upon you and your Dioceses so that, with one heart and with one soul, you may bring to completion the pastoral work which you have begun, that is, offering each member of the faithful an exacting and attractive Christian initiation, one which communicates the integrity of the faith and genuine spirituality, rooted in the Gospel, and capable of forming free and generous labourers in the midst of public life.
In truth, the times in which we live demand a new missionary vigour on the part of Christians, who are called to form a mature laity, identified with the Church and sensitive to the complex transformations taking place in our world. Authentic witnesses to Jesus Christ are needed, above all in those human situations where the silence of the faith is most widely and deeply felt: among politicians, intellectuals, communications professionals who profess and who promote a monocultural ideal, with disdain for the religious and contemplative dimension of life. In such circles are found some believers who are ashamed of their beliefs and who even give a helping hand to this type of secularism, which builds barriers before Christian inspiration. And yet, dear brothers, may all those who defend the faith in these situations, with courage, with a vigorous Catholic outlook and in fidelity to the magisterium, continue to receive your help and your insightful encouragement in order to live out, as faithful lay men and women, their Christian freedom.
You maintain a strong prophetic dimension, without allowing yourselves to be silenced, in the present social context, for "the word of God is not fettered" (2 Tim 2:9). People cry out for the Good News of Jesus Christ, which gives meaning to their lives and protects their dignity. In your role as first evangelizers, it will be useful for you to know and to understand the diverse social and cultural factors, to evaluate their spiritual deficiencies and to utilize effectively your pastoral resources; what is decisive, however, is the ability to inculcate in all those engaged in the work of evangelization a true desire for holiness, in the awareness that the results derive above all from our union with Christ and the working of the Holy Spirit.
In fact, when, in the view of many people, the Catholic faith is no longer the common patrimony of society and, often, seen as seed threatened and obscured by the "gods" and masters of this world, only with great difficulty can the faith touch the hearts of people by means of simple speeches or moral appeals, and even less by a general appeal to Christian values. The courageous and integral appeal to principles is essential and indispensable; yet simply proclaiming the message does not penetrate to the depths of people's hearts, it does not touch their freedom, it does not change their lives. What attracts is, above all, the encounter with believing persons who, through their faith, draw others to the grace of Christ by bearing witness to him. The words of Pope John Paul II come to mind: "The Church needs above all great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness among the ‘Christifideles' because it is from holiness that is born every authentic renewal of the Church, all intelligent enrichment of the faith and of the Christian life, the vital and fecund reactualization of Christianity with the needs of man, a renewed form of presence in the heart of human existence and of the culture of nations (Address for the XX Anniversary of the Promulgation of the Conciliar Decree "Apostolicam Actuositatem", 18 November 1985). One could say, "the Church has need of these great currents, movements and witnesses of holiness..., but there are none!"
In this regard, I confess to you the pleasant surprise that I had in making contact with the movements and the new ecclesial communities. Watching them, I had the joy and the grace to see how, at a moment of weariness in the Church, at a time when we were hearing about "the winter of the Church", the Holy Spirit was creating a new springtime, awakening in young people and adults alike the joy of being Christian, of living in the Church, which is the living Body of Christ. Thanks to their charisms, the radicality of the Gospel, the objective contents of the faith, the living flow of her tradition, are all being communicated in a persuasive way and welcomed as a personal experience, as adherence in freedom to the present event of Christ.
The necessary condition, naturally, is that these new realities desire to live in the one Church, albeit with spaces in some way set aside for their own life, in such a way that this life becomes fruitful for all the others. The bearers of a particular charism must feel themselves fundamentally responsible for communion, for the common faith of the Church, and submit themselves to the leadership of their Bishops. It is they who must ensure the ecclesial nature of the movements. Bishops are not only those who hold an office, but those who themselves are bearers of charisms, and responsible for the openness of the Church to the working of the Holy Spirit. We, Bishops, in the sacrament of Holy Orders, are anointed by the Holy Spirit and thus the sacrament ensures that we too are open to his gifts. Thus, on the one hand, we must feel responsibility for welcoming these impulses which are gifts for the Church and which give her new vitality, but, on the other hand, we must also help the movements to find the right way, making some corrections with understanding - with the spiritual and human understanding that is able to combine guidance, gratitude and a certain openness and a willingness to learn.
This is precisely what you must foster or confirm in your priests. In this Year for Priests now drawing to a close, rediscover, dear brothers, the role of the Bishop as father, especially with regard to your priests. For all too long the responsibility of authority as a service aimed at the growth of others and in the first place of priests, has been given second place. Priests are called to serve, in their pastoral ministry, and to be part of a pastoral activity of communion or oneness, as the Conciliar Decree Presbyterorum Ordinis reminds us, "No priest is sufficiently equipped to carry out his mission alone and as it were single-handed. He can only do so by joining forces with other priests, under the leadership of those who govern the Church" (No. 7). This is not a matter of turning back to the past, nor of a simple return to our origins, but rather of a recovery of the fervour of the origins, of the joy of the initial Christian experience, and of walking beside Christ like the disciples of Emmaus on the day of Easter, allowing his word to warm our hearts and his "broken bread" to open our eyes to the contemplation of his face. Only in this way will the fire of charity blaze strongly enough to impel every Christian to become a source of light and life in the Church and among all men and women.
Before concluding, I would like to ask you, in your role as leaders and ministers of charity in the Church, to rekindle, in yourselves as individuals and as a group, a sense of mercy and of compassion, in order to respond to grave social needs. New organizations must be established, and those already existing perfected, so that they can be capable of responding creatively to every form of poverty, including those experienced as a lack of the meaningfulness in life and the absence of hope. The efforts you are making to assist the Dioceses most in need, especially in Portuguese-speaking countries, is praiseworthy. May difficulties, which today are more deeply felt, not make you shrink from the logic of self-giving. Let there continue and flourish in this country, your witness as prophets of justice and peace, and defenders of the inalienable rights of the person. Join your voice to the voices of the least powerful, whom you have wisely helped to gain a voice of their own, without ever being afraid of raising your voice on behalf of the oppressed, the downtrodden and those who have been mistreated.
I entrust all of you to Our Lady of Fatima, and I ask her to sustain you with her maternal care amid the challenges which you face, so that you will be promoters of a culture and a spirituality of charity, peace, hope and justice, faith and service. To you, to the members of your families and to your diocesan communities I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Address Upon Arriving to Portugal
"I Come As a Pilgrim to Our Lady of Fatima"
LISBON, Portugal, MAY 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon arriving at Portugal's Lisbon Portela Airport.
Today the Pope began his 4-day visit to the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were two of the witnesses of Our Lady of Fatima's apparitions in 1917.
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Dear Brother Bishops,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Only now has it been possible for me to accept the kind invitations of the President and my Brother Bishops to visit this beloved and ancient Nation, which this year is celebrating the centenary of the proclamation of the Republic. As I set foot on Portuguese soil for the first time since Divine Providence called me to the See of Peter, I feel greatly honoured and I am moved to gratitude by the respectful and hospitable presence of all of you. I thank you, Mr President, for your kind words of welcome, giving voice to the sentiments and the hopes of the beloved Portuguese people. To all, whatever their faith or religion, I extend a greeting in friendship, especially to those who were unable to be here to meet me. I come as a pilgrim to Our Lady of Fatima, having received from on high the mission to strengthen my brothers as they advance along their pilgrim journey to heaven.
Since the earliest days of their nationhood, the Portuguese people have looked to the Successor of Peter for recognition of their existence as a Nation; in due course, one of my predecessors was to honour Portugal, in the person of its King, with the title "most faithful" (cf. Pius II, Bull Dum Tuam, 25 January 1460), for long and distinguished service to the cause of the Gospel. As for the event that took place 93 years ago, when heaven itself was opened over Portugal -- like a window of hope that God opens when man closes the door to him -- in order to refashion, within the human family, the bonds of fraternal solidarity based on the mutual recognition of the one Father, this was a loving design from God; it does not depend on the Pope, nor on any other ecclesial authority: "It was not the Church that imposed Fatima", as Cardinal Manuel Cerejeira of blessed memory used to say, "but it was Fatima that imposed itself on the Church."
The Virgin Mary came from heaven to remind us of Gospel truths that constitute for humanity -- so lacking in love and without hope for salvation -- the source of hope. To be sure, this hope has as its primary and radical dimension not the horizontal relation, but the vertical and transcendental one. The relationship with God is constitutive of the human being, who was created and ordered towards God; he seeks truth by means of his cognitive processes, he tends towards the good in the sphere of volition, and he is attracted by beauty in the aesthetic dimension. Consciousness is Christian to the degree to which it opens itself to the fullness of life and wisdom that we find in Jesus Christ. The visit that I am now beginning under the sign of hope is intended as a proposal of wisdom and mission.
From a wise vision of life and of the world, the just ordering of society follows. Situated within history, the Church is open to cooperating with anyone who does not marginalize or reduce to the private sphere the essential consideration of the human meaning of life. The point at issue is not an ethical confrontation between a secular and a religious system, so much as a question about the meaning that we give to our freedom. What matters is the value attributed to the problem of meaning and its implication in public life. By separating Church and State, the Republican revolution which took place 100 years ago in Portugal, opened up a new area of freedom for the Church, to which the two concordats of 1940 and 2004 would give shape, in cultural settings and ecclesial perspectives profoundly marked by rapid change. For the most part, the sufferings caused by these transformations have been faced with courage. Living amid a plurality of value systems and ethical outlooks requires a journey to the core of one’s being and to the nucleus of Christianity so as to reinforce the quality of one’s witness to the point of sanctity, and to find mission paths that lead even to the radical choice of martyrdom.
Dear Portuguese brothers and sisters, my friends, I thank you once more for your cordial welcome. May God bless those who are here and all the inhabitants of this noble and beloved Nation, which I entrust to Our Lady of Fatima, the sublime image of God’s love embracing all as children.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Homily at Lisbon Mass
"Base Your Human Hopes Upon Divine Hope"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during a public Mass in Lisbon's Commerce Square, also known as Palace Square.
Today the Pope began his 4-day visit to the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were two of the witnesses of Our Lady of Fatima's apparitions in 1917.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Young Friends,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations … teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:19-20). These words of the risen Christ take on a particular significance in this city of Lisbon, from which generations upon generations of Christians – bishops, priests, consecrated and lay persons, men and women, young and not so young – have journeyed forth in great numbers in obedience to the Lord’s call, armed simply with the certainty that he had entrusted to them: “I am with you always”. Portugal has gained a glorious place among the nations for the service rendered to the spreading of the faith: in all five continents there are local churches that owe their origin to Portuguese missionary activity.
In times past, your departure in search of other peoples neither impeded nor severed your bonds with what you were and what you believed. On the contrary, with Christian wisdom you succeeded in transplanting experiences and characteristic elements, opening yourselves up to the contribution of others so as to be yourselves, through an apparent weakness which is actually strength. Today, as you play your part in building up the European Community, you offer the contribution of your cultural and religious identity. Indeed, just as Jesus Christ joined the disciples on the road to Emmaus, so today he walks with us in accordance with his promise: “I am with you always, to the close of the age.” We too have a real and personal experience of the risen Lord, even if it differs from that of the Apostles. The distance of centuries is overcome and the risen Lord presents himself alive and at work, acting through us, in the Church and the world of today. This is our great joy. In the living river of ecclesial Tradition, Christ is not two thousand years distant from us, but is really present among us: he gives us the Truth and he gives us the light which is our life and helps us find the path towards the future.
Present in his word, present in the assembly of the people of God with its Pastors, and pre-eminently present in the sacrament of his Body and Blood, Jesus is here with us. I greet the Cardinal Patriarch of Lisbon, whom I thank for the affectionate words that he addressed to me at the start of the celebration, in the name of his community that has made me so welcome. I in turn embrace the almost two million sons and daughters who form that community. To all of you here present – dear brother bishops and priests, beloved consecrated women and men and members of the lay faithful, dear families and young people, baptized and catechumens – I address my fraternal and friendly greeting, which I extend to those who are united with us through radio and television. I warmly thank the President of the Republic for his presence, as well as the other authorities, especially the Mayor of Lisbon, who has been good enough to confer upon me the keys of the city.
Lisbon – friend, port and shelter for the great hopes that were placed in you by those who set off from here, hopes that were cherished by those who visited you – today I wish to make use of these keys that you have given me so that you may be able to base your human hopes upon divine Hope. In the reading that has just been proclaimed, taken from the First Letter of Saint Peter, we heard: “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone, a cornerstone chosen and precious, and he who believes in him will not be put to shame”. And the Apostle explains: Draw near to the Lord, “that living stone, rejected by men but in God’s sight chosen and precious” (1 Pet 2:6,4). Brothers and sisters, those who believe in Jesus will not be put to shame: he is the Word of God, who can neither deceive nor be deceived, and this Word is attested by a “great multitude which no man could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and tongues,” a multitude pictured by the author of the Apocalypse “clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands” (Rev 7:9). This countless multitude includes not only Saints Verissimus, Maxima and Julia, martyred here during the persecution of Diocletian, Saint Vincent, deacon and martyr, the principal patron of the Patriarchate, Saint Anthony and Saint John of Brito who set off from here to sow God’s good seed in other lands and among other peoples, and Saint Nuno of Santa Maria, whom I added to the ranks of the Saints just over a year ago. It is formed of the “servants of our God” from all times and places, on whose forehead the sign of the cross has been inscribed with “the seal of the living God” (Rev 7:2), that is to say, with the Holy Spirit. I am referring to the initial rite administered to each one of us in the sacrament of Baptism, through which the Church gives birth to the “saints”.
We know that she also has quarrelsome and even rebellious sons and daughters, but it is in the saints that the Church recognizes her most characteristic features, it is in them that she tastes her deepest joy. They all share the desire to incarnate the Gospel in their own lives, under the inspiration of the eternal animator of God’s People – the Holy Spirit. Focussing her attention upon her own saints, this local Church has rightly concluded that today’s pastoral priority is to make each Christian man and woman a radiant presence of the Gospel perspective in the midst of the world, in the family, in culture, in the economy, in politics. Often we are anxiously preoccupied with the social, cultural and political consequences of the faith, taking for granted that faith is present, which unfortunately is less and less realistic. Perhaps we have placed an excessive trust in ecclesial structures and programmes, in the distribution of powers and functions; but what will happen if salt loses its flavour?
In order for this not to happen, it is necessary to proclaim anew with vigour and joy the event of the death and resurrection of Christ, the heart of Christianity, the fulcrum and mainstay of our faith, the firm lever of our certainties, the strong wind that sweeps away all fear and indecision, all doubt and human calculation. The resurrection of Christ assures us that no adverse power will ever be able to destroy the Church. Therefore our faith is well-founded, but this faith needs to come alive in each one of us. A vast effort at every level is required if every Christian is to be transformed into a witness capable of rendering account to all and at all times of the hope that inspires him (cf. 1 Pet 3:15): only Christ can fully satisfy the profound longings of every human heart and give answers to its most pressing questions concerning suffering, injustice and evil, concerning death and the life hereafter.
Dear brothers and sisters, dear young friends, Christ is always with us and always walks with his Church, accompanies her and guards her, as he has told us: “I am with you always, to the close of the age” (Mt 28:20). Never doubt his presence! Always seek the Lord Jesus, grow in friendship with him, receive him in communion. Learn to listen to his word and also to recognize him in the poor. Live your lives with joy and enthusiasm, sure of his presence and of his unconditional, generous friendship, faithful even to death on the cross. Bear witness to all of the joy that his strong yet gentle presence evokes, starting with your contemporaries. Tell them that it is beautiful to be a friend of Jesus and that it is well worth following him. With your enthusiasm, demonstrate that, among all the different ways of life that the world today seems to offer us – apparently all on the same level – the only way in which we find the true meaning of life and hence true and lasting joy, is by following Jesus.
Seek daily the protection of Mary, Mother of the Lord and mirror of all holiness. She, the all-holy one, will help you to be faithful disciples of her Son Jesus Christ.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Greeting to Youth at Apostolic Nunciature
"Thank You for Your Joyful Witness to Christ"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the brief greeting Benedict XVI delivered today to the youth who gathered at the Apostolic Nunciature in Lisbon to welcome the Pope to Portugal, and receive his apostolic blessing.
Today the Pope began his 4-day visit to the country to mark the 10th anniversary of the beatification of Jacinta and Francisco Marto, who were two of the witnesses of Our Lady of Fatima's apparitions in 1917.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Dear Young Friends,
I appreciated the lively and numerous participation of young people in this afternoon’s Mass on the Terreiro do Paço, a clear indication of their faith and their desire to build their future on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Thank you for your joyful witness to Christ, who is eternally young, and thank you for the kindness you have shown to his humble Vicar on earth by gathering here this evening. You have come to wish me good night and from my heart I thank you; but now you must let me go and sleep, otherwise the night will not be good, and tomorrow awaits us.
I am very happy in being able to join the multitude of pilgrims to Fatima on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the Beatification of Francisco and Jacinta. With Our Lady’s help, they learned to recognize God’s light in the depths of their hearts and to adore it in their lives. May the Virgin Mary obtain the same grace for you and may she protect you! I continue to count on you and on your prayers that this Visit to Portugal may bear abundant fruit. And now, with great affection, I give you my blessing, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Good night! See you tomorrow.
Thank you very much!
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Press Conference En Route to Portugal
"Forgiveness Does Not Replace Justice"
ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, MAY 12, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the press conference Benedict XVI gave Tuesday en route to his four-day apostolic trip to Portugal.
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Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, what concerns and feelings do you have about the situation of the Church in Portugal? What can be said to Portugal, which was once very Catholic and brought the faith to the world, but which today is undergoing a profound secularization, both in daily life as well as legally and culturally? How is the faith to be proclaimed in a context which is indifferent and even hostile to the Church?
Holy Father: Before all else, I wish you all a good morning, and may we have a good journey, despite the famous cloud beneath us. With regard to Portugal, I feel happy and grateful for everything that this country has done and is doing in the world and in history, and for the deep humanity of this people which I came to know from an earlier visit and from many Portuguese friends. I would say that it is true, very true, that Portugal has been a great force for the Catholic faith, it carried that faith throughout the world; a courageous, intelligent and creative faith; it was able to create a great culture which we see in Brazil and in Portugal itself, but also in the presence of the Portuguese spirit in Africa and Asia. On the other hand, the spirit of secularism is nothing new. The dialectic between secularism and faith in Portugal has a long history. Already in the eighteenth century the presence of the Enlightenment was strongly felt: we need only think of the name Pombal. So we can see that in these last centuries Portugal has always been living in a dialectic, which nowadays has naturally become more radical and appears with all the marks of the contemporary European spirit. This strikes me both as a challenge and a great opportunity. In these centuries of a dialectic between enlightenment, secularism and faith, there were always individuals who sought to build bridges and create a dialogue, but unfortunately the prevailing tendency was one of opposition and mutual exclusion. Today we see that this very dialectic represents an opportunity and that we need to develop a synthesis and a forward-looking and profound dialogue. In the multicultural situation in which we all find ourselves, we see that if European culture were merely rationalist, it would lack a transcendent religious dimension, and not be able to enter into dialogue with the great cultures of humanity all of which have this transcendent religious dimension – which is a dimension of man himself. So to think that there exists a pure, anti-historical reason, solely self-existent, which is “reason” itself, is a mistake; we are finding more and more that it affects only part of man, it expresses a certain historical situation but it is not reason as such. Reason as such is open to transcendence and only in the encounter between transcendent reality and faith and reason does man find himself. So I think that the precise task and mission of Europe in this situation is to create this dialogue, to integrate faith and modern rationality in a single anthropological vision which approaches the human being as a whole and thus also makes human cultures communicable. So I would say that the presence of secularism is something normal, but the separation and the opposition between secularism and a culture of faith is something anomalous and must be transcended. The great challenge of the present moment is for the two to come together, and in this way to discover their true identity. This, as I have said, is Europe’s mission and mankind’s need in our history.
Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness. Let us continue with the subject of Europe. The economic crisis has recently worsened in Europe and involves Portugal in particular. Some European leaders think that the future of the European Union is at risk. What lessons can be learned from this crisis, also from the ethical and moral standpoint? What are the keys for consolidating unity and cooperation among Europe’s countries in the future?
Holy Father: I would say that this very economic crisis, with its moral component, that no one can ignore, is a practical, concrete case of what I said earlier, that is, that two separate cultural currents have to meet each other, or else we will not find the way to the future. Here too we find a false dualism, that is, an economic positivism that thinks it can work without an ethical component, a market regulated purely by itself, by economic forces alone, by the positivist and pragmatic reasoning of economics – while ethics would be something else, completely separate from it. The fact is, we are now seeing that a pure economic pragmatism which prescinds from the reality of man – who is an ethical being – does not end happily, but creates insoluble problems. So now is the time to see that ethics is not something extraneous, but intrinsic to economic reasoning and pragmatism. On the other hand, we must also confess that the Catholic, Christian faith, was often excessively individualistic; it left practical, economic matters to the world and thought only of individual salvation, religious acts, without seeing that these imply global responsibility, responsibility for the world. Hence, here too we need to enter into a concrete dialogue. I set out in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate – and the whole tradition of the Church’s social teaching goes in this direction – to broaden the ethical aspect of the faith above and beyond the individual towards responsibility for the world, towards a “performative” reasoning inspired by ethics. On the other hand, the most recent events in the market, over the past two or three years, have shown that the ethical dimension is internal and needs to enter deeply into economic activity, since man is a unified being, and it is man that we are speaking of, as well as a sound anthropology which embraces the whole, and only thus can the problem be solved, and only thus can Europe carry out and achieve its mission.
Father Lombardi: Thank you, and now come to Fatima, in some way the culmination, even spiritually, of this visit. Your Holiness, what meaning do the Fatima apparitions have for us today? In June 2000, when you presented the text of the third secret in the Vatican Press Office, a number of us and our former colleagues were present. You were asked if the message could be extended, beyond the attack on John Paul II, to other sufferings on the part of the Popes. Is it possible, to your mind, to include in that vision the sufferings of the Church today for the sins involving the sexual abuse of minors?
Holy Father: Before all else, I want to say how happy I am to be going to Fatima, to pray before Our Lady of Fatima. For us, Fatima is a sign of the presence of faith, of the fact that it is precisely from the little ones that faith gains new strength, one which is not limited to the little ones but has a message for the entire world and touches history here and now, and sheds light on this history. In 2000, in my presentation, I said that an apparition – a supernatural impulse which does not come purely from a person’s imagination but really from the Virgin Mary, from the supernatural – that such an impulse enters into a subject and is expressed according to the capacities of that subject. The subject is determined by his or her historical, personal, temperamental conditions, and so translates the great supernatural impulse into his or her own capabilities for seeing, imagining, expressing; yet these expressions, shaped by the subject, conceal a content which is greater, which goes deeper, and only in the course of history can we see the full depth, which was – let us say - “clothed” in this vision that was accessible to specific individuals. Consequently, I would say that, here too, beyond this great vision of the suffering of the Pope, which we can in the first place refer to Pope John Paul II, an indication is given of realities involving the future of the Church, which are gradually taking shape and becoming evident. So it is true that, in addition to moment indicated in the vision, there is mention of, there is seen, the need for a passion of the Church, which naturally is reflected in the person of the Pope, yet the Pope stands for the Church and thus it is sufferings of the Church that are announced. The Lord told us that the Church would constantly be suffering, in different ways, until the end of the world. The important thing is that the message, the response of Fatima, in substance is not directed to particular devotions, but precisely to the fundamental response, that is, to ongoing conversion, penance, prayer, and the three theological virtues: faith, hope and charity. Thus we see here the true, fundamental response which the Church must give – which we, every one of us, must give in this situation. As for the new things which we can find in this message today, there is also the fact that attacks on the Pope and the Church come not only from without, but the sufferings of the Church come precisely from within the Church, from the sin existing within the Church. This too is something that we have always known, but today we are seeing it in a really terrifying way: that the greatest persecution of the Church comes not from her enemies without, but arises from sin within the Church, and that the Church thus has a deep need to relearn penance, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice. Forgiveness does not replace justice. In a word, we need to relearn precisely this essential: conversion, prayer, penance and the theological virtues. This is our response, we are realists in expecting that evil always attacks, attacks from within and without, yet that the forces of good are also ever present and that, in the end, the Lord is more powerful than evil and Our Lady is for us the visible, motherly guarantee of God’s goodness, which is always the last word in history.
Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness, for the clarity and the depth of your answers and for this concluding word of hope which you have given us. We offer you our very best wishes that this very demanding journey will be a pleasant one for you and that during it you will experience all the joy and spiritual depth that an encounter with the mystery of Fatima inspires in us. We wish you a happy visit and we will strive to do a good job in our service, and to report objectively what you will do.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address at Belem Cultural Center
"Keep Alive the Search for Truth, and Consequently for God"
LISBON, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the Belem Cultural Center in Lisbon at a meeting with representatives of the world of culture.
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Dear Brother Bishops, Distinguished Authorities, Eminent representatives of the arts and sciences, Dear friends,
I am very pleased to meet you, men and women devoted to research and expansion in the various fields of knowledge, and worthy representatives of the rich world of culture in Portugal. I take this occasion to express my deep esteem and appreciation of you and your work. The Government, represented here by the Minister for Culture, to whom I extend my respectful and warm greetings, gives praiseworthy support to the national priorities of the world of culture. I am grateful to all those who have made this meeting possible, particularly the Cultural Commission of the Bishops’ Conference and its President, Bishop Manuel Clemente, whom I thank for his kind words of welcome and his presentation of the multifaceted reality of Portuguese culture, represented here by some of its most distinguished leaders. Their sentiments and expectations have been expressed by film director Manoel de Oliveira, a man venerable in years and in professional activity, to whom I extend my affectionate greetings and esteem. I also thank him for his kind words, which have given a glimpse of the concerns and the mood of the soul of Portugal in this turbulent period of the life of society.
Today’s culture is in fact permeated by a "tension" which at times takes the form of a "conflict" between the present and tradition. The dynamic movement of society gives absolute value to the present, isolating it from the cultural legacy of the past, without attempting to trace a path for the future. This emphasis on the "present" as a source of inspiration for the meaning of life, both individual and social, nonetheless clashes with the powerful cultural tradition of the Portuguese people, deeply marked by the millenary influence of Christianity and by a sense of global responsibility. This came to the fore in the adventure of the Discoveries and in the missionary zeal which shared the gift of faith with other peoples. The Christian ideal of universality and fraternity inspired this common adventure, even though influences from the Enlightenment and laicism also made themselves felt. This tradition gave rise to what could be called a "wisdom", that is to say, an understanding of life and history which included a corpus of ethical values and an "ideal" to be realized by Portugal, which has always sought to establish relations with the rest of the world.
The Church appears as the champion of a healthy and lofty tradition, whose rich contribution she sets at the service of society. Society continues to respect and appreciate her service to the common good but distances itself from that "wisdom" which is part of her legacy. This "conflict" between tradition and the present finds expression in the crisis of truth, yet only truth can provide direction and trace the path of a fulfilled existence both for individuals and for a people. Indeed, a people no longer conscious of its own truth ends up by being lost in the maze of time and history, deprived of clearly defined values and lacking great and clearly formulated goals. Dear friends, much still needs to be learned about the form in which the Church takes her place in the world, helping society to understand that the proclamation of truth is a service which she offers to society, and opening new horizons for the future, horizons of grandeur and dignity.
The Church, in effect, has "a mission of truth to accomplish, in every time and circumstance, for a society that is attuned to man, to his dignity, to his vocation. […] Fidelity to man requires fidelity to the truth, which alone is the guarantee of freedom (cf. Jn 8:32) and of the possibility of integral human development. For this reason the Church searches for truth, proclaims it tirelessly and recognizes it wherever it is manifested. This mission of truth is something that the Church can never renounce" (Caritas in Veritate, 9). For a society made up mainly of Catholics, and whose culture has been profoundly marked by Christianity, the search for truth apart from Christ proves dramatic. For Christians, Truth is divine; it is the eternal "Logos" which found human expression in Jesus Christ, who could objectively state: "I am the truth" (Jn 14:6). The Church, in her adherence to the eternal character of truth, is in the process of learning how to live with respect for other "truths" and for the truth of others. Through this respect, open to dialogue, new doors can be opened to the transmission of truth.
"The Church," wrote Pope Paul VI, "must enter into dialogue with the world in which she lives. The Church becomes word, she becomes message, she becomes dialogue" (Ecclesiam Suam, 67). Dialogue, without ambiguity and marked by respect for those taking part, is a priority in today’s world, and the Church does not intend to withdraw from it. A testimony to this is the Holy See’s presence in several international organizations, as for example her presence at the Council of Europe’s North-South Centre, established 20 years ago here in Lisbon, which is focused on intercultural dialogue with a view to promoting cooperation between Europe, the southern Mediterranean and Africa, and building a global citizenship based on human rights and civic responsibility, independent of ethnic origin or political allegiance, and respectful of religious beliefs. Given the reality of cultural diversity, people need not only to accept the existence of the culture of others, but also to aspire to be enriched by it and to offer to it whatever they possess that is good, true and beautiful.
Ours is a time which calls for the best of our efforts, prophetic courage and a renewed capacity to "point out new worlds to the world", to use the words of your national poet (Luís de Camões, Os Lusíades, II, 45). You who are representatives of culture in all its forms, forgers of thought and opinion, "thanks to your talent, have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. […] Do not be afraid to approach the first and last source of beauty, to enter into dialogue with believers, with those who, like yourselves, consider that they are pilgrims in this world and in history towards infinite Beauty!" (Address to Artists, 21 November 2009).
Precisely so as "to place the modern world in contact with the life-giving and perennial energies of the Gospel" (John XXIII, Apostolic Constitution Humanae Salutis, 3), the Second Vatican Council was convened. There the Church, on the basis of a renewed awareness of the Catholic tradition, took seriously and discerned, transformed and overcame the fundamental critiques that gave rise to the modern world, the Reformation and the Enlightenment. In this way the Church herself accepted and refashioned the best of the requirements of modernity by transcending them on the one hand, and on the other by avoiding their errors and dead ends. The Council laid the foundation for an authentic Catholic renewal and for a new civilization -- "the civilization of love" -- as an evangelical service to man and society.
Dear friends, the Church considers that her most important mission in today’s culture is to keep alive the search for truth, and consequently for God; to bring people to look beyond penultimate realities and to seek those that are ultimate. I invite you to deepen your knowledge of God as he has revealed himself in Jesus Christ for our complete fulfilment. Produce beautiful things, but above all make your lives places of beauty.
May Our Lady of Belém intercede for you, she who has been venerated down through the centuries by navigators, and is venerated today by the navigators of Goodness, Truth and Beauty.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Prayer at Apparition Chapel
"I Consign the Golden Rose That I Have Brought From Rome"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the prayer Benedict XVI pronounced today at the Chapel of Apparitions upon arriving to the Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.
* * *
Mother of all men and women,
I come before you as a son
visiting his Mother,
and I do so in company
with a multitude of brothers and sisters.
As the Successor of Peter,
to whom was entrusted the mission
of presiding in the service
of charity in the Church of Christ
and of confirming all in faith and in hope,
I wish to present to your
the joys and hopes
as well as the problems and sufferings
of each one of these sons and daughters of yours
who are gathered in the Cova di Iria
or who are praying with us from afar.
Mother most gentle,
you know each one by name,
you know each one’s face and personal history,
and you love them all
with maternal benevolence
that wells up from the very heart of Divine Love.
I entrust and consecrate them all to you,
Mary Most Holy,
Mother of God and our Mother.
Cantors and Assembly: We sing to you and we praise you, O Mary (v. 1)
The Venerable Pope John Paul II,
who visited you three times here in Fatima
and thanked the "unseen hand"
that rescued him from death
in the assassination attempt on 13 May
in Saint Peter’s Square almost thirty years ago,
wanted to offer to the Shrine of Fatima
a bullet which gravely wounded him
and was placed in the crown of the Queen of Peace.
It is a profound consolation
to know that you are crowned
not only with the silver
and gold of our joys and hopes,
but also with the "bullet"
of our anxieties and sufferings.
I thank you, beloved Mother,
for the prayers and sacrifices
that the shepherd-children
of Fatima offered for the Pope,
led by the sentiments
that you inspired in them in the apparitions.
I also thank all those who,
pray for the Successor of Peter
and for his intentions,
that the Pope may be strong in faith,
bold in hope and zealous in love.
Cantors and Assembly: We sing to you and we praise you, O Mary (v. 2)
Beloved Mother of us all,
here in your Shrine at Fatima I consign
the Golden Rose
that I have brought from Rome
as a homage of gratitude from the Pope
for the marvels that the Almighty
has worked through you
in the hearts of so many who come as pilgrims
to this your maternal home.
I am sure that the shepherd-children of Fatima,
Blessed Francisco and Jacinta
and the Servant of God Lucia of Jesus,
are united with us at this hour of prayer and jubilation.
Cantors and Assembly: We sing to you and we praise you, O Mary (v. 5).
Pontiff's Homily at Vespers With Priests
"Thank You for Your Witness, Often Silent and Certainly Not Easy"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today at the celebration of vespers with the religious, seminarians and diocesan priests at the Church of the Blessed Trinity in Fatima. The encounter was dedicated to the priesthood in this Year for Priests.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son born of woman, […] so that we might receive adoption as sons" (Gal 4:4,5). The fullness of time came when the Eternal broke into time; by the grace of the Holy Spirit the Son of the Most High was conceived and became man in the womb of a woman, the Virgin Mary, type and lofty model of the believing Church. The Church does not cease to beget new sons in the Son, whom the Father willed to be the first-born of many brothers. Each one of us is called to be with Mary and like Mary, a humble and simple sign of the Church who offers herself constantly as a spouse into the hands of her Lord.
To all of you who have given your life to Christ I wish to express this evening the Church’s appreciation and recognition. Thank you for your witness, often silent and certainly not easy; thank you for your fidelity to the Gospel and to the Church. In Jesus, present in the Eucharist, I embrace my brothers in the priesthood and the deacons, the consecrated women and men, the seminarians and the members of the movements and new ecclesial communities present. May the Lord reward, as he alone can and does, all those who have made it possible for us to gather together before the presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. I mention especially the Episcopal Commission for Vocations and Ministries, with its President, Bishop António Santos, whom I thank for his greeting, full of collegial and fraternal affection, at the beginning of Vespers. In this "upper room" of faith which is Fatima, the Virgin Mother shows us the way to place our pure and holy offering into the hands of the Father.
Let me open my heart and tell you that the greatest concern of every Christian, especially of every consecrated person or minister of the altar, must be fidelity, loyalty to one’s own vocation, as a disciple who wishes to follow the Lord. Faithfulness over time is the name of love, of a consistent, true and profound love for Christ the Priest. "Since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalistic ethic and a shallow religiosity" (John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, 31). In this Year for Priests which is drawing to its close, may grace in abundance come down upon you that you may live joyfully your consecration and bear witness to your priestly fidelity grounded in the fidelity of Christ. This evidently supposes true intimacy with Christ in prayer, since it is the powerful and intense experience of the Lord’s love that brings priests and consecrated persons to respond to his love in way that is exclusive and spousal.
This life of special consecration was born to keep the Gospel always before the People of God, as a reminder which manifests, certifies and proclaims to the whole Church the radical nature of the Gospel and the coming of the Kingdom. Dear consecrated men and women, by your dedication to prayer, asceticism and growth in the spiritual life, to apostolic action and mission, you are progressing towards the heavenly Jerusalem, you are a foretaste of the eschatological Church, solid in her possession and loving contemplation of God who is love. How much we need this witness today! Many of our brothers and sisters live as if there were nothing beyond this life, and without concern for their eternal salvation. Men and women are called to know and love God, and the Church has the mission to assist them in this calling. We know well that God is the master of his gifts and that conversion is a grace. But we are responsible for proclaiming the faith, the whole faith, with all its demands. Dear friends, let us imitate the Curé of Ars who prayed to the Lord in the following words: "Grant me the conversion of my parish, and I accept to suffer all that you wish for the rest of my life". And he did everything to pull people away from their own lukewarm attitude in order to lead them back to love.
There exists a deep solidarity among all the members of the Body of Christ. It is not possible to love Christ without loving his brothers and sisters. For their salvation John Mary Vianney decided to become a priest: "to win souls for the good God", as he said when, at eighteen years of age, he announced his vocation, just as Paul had said: "to win as many as I could" (1 Cor 9:19). The Vicar General had told him: "there is not much love of God in the parish; you will bring it there". In his priestly passion, this holy parish priest was merciful like Jesus in meeting each sinner. He preferred to insist on the attractive aspect of virtue, on God’s mercy, in comparison to which our sins are like "grains of sand". He pointed to the merciful love of God which had been offended. He feared that priests would become "insensitive" and accustomed to the indifference of their faithful: "Woe to the Pastor – he would warn – who remains silent while God is offended and souls are lost".
Dear brother priests, in this place, which Mary has made special, keep before your eyes her vocation as a faithful disciple of her Son Jesus from the moment of his conception to the Cross, and then beyond, along the path of the nascent Church, and consider the unheard-of grace of your priesthood. Fidelity to one’s vocation requires courage and trust, but the Lord also wishes that you join forces: that you be concerned for one another and support one another fraternally. Moments of common prayer and study, and sharing in the demands of the priestly life and work, are a necessary part of your life. It is a fine thing when you welcome one another into your homes with the peace of Christ in your hearts! It is important to assist one another with prayer, helpful advice and discernment! Be especially attentive to those situations where there is a certain weakening of priestly ideals or dedication to activities not fully consonant with what is proper for a minister of Jesus Christ. Then is the time to take a firm stand, with an attitude of warm fraternal love, as brother assisting his brother to "remain on his feet".
The priesthood of Christ is eternal (cf. Heb 5:6), but the life of priests is limited. Christ has willed that others continue in time the priestly ministry that he instituted. Keep alive in your hearts, and in others around you, the desire to raise up – in cooperation with the grace of the Holy Spirit – new priestly vocations among the faithful. Trustful and persevering prayer, joyful love of one’s own vocation and commitment to the work of spiritual direction will allow you to discern the charism of vocation in those whom God calls.
Dear seminarians, who have taken the first step towards the priesthood and are preparing in the major seminary or in houses of formation, the Pope encourages you to be conscious of the great responsibility which you will have to assume. Carefully examine your intentions and your motivations. Devote yourselves with a steadfast heart and a generous spirit to your training. The Eucharist, which is the centre of Christian life and the school of humility and service, should be your first love. Adoration, piety and care for the Most Holy Sacrament during these years of preparation will lead you one day to celebrate the Sacrifice of the Altar in an edifying and devout manner.
Along this path of fidelity, beloved priests and deacons, consecrated men and women, seminarians and committed lay persons, may the Blessed Virgin Mary guide us. With her and like her, we are free so as to be saints; free so as to be poor, chaste and obedient; free for all because detached from all, free from self so that others may grow in Christ, the true Holy One of the Father and the Shepherd to whom priests, as his presence, lend their voice and their gestures; free to bring to today’s world Jesus who died and rose again, Jesus who remains with us until the end of time and who gives himself to all in the Most Holy Eucharist.
Benedict XVI's Act of Consecration of Priests
"May the Church Be Thus Renewed by Priests Who Are Holy"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the Act of Entrustment and Consecration of Priests to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, prayed today by Benedict XVI at the conclusion of the celebration of vespers with the religious, seminarians and diocesan priests at the Church of the Most Holy Trinity in Fatima.
The encounter was dedicated to the priesthood in this Year for Priests.
* * *
in this place of grace,
called together by the love of your Son Jesus
the Eternal High Priest, we,
sons in the Son and his priests,
consecrate ourselves to your maternal Heart,
in order to carry out faithfully the Father’s Will.
We are mindful that, without Jesus,
we can do nothing good (cf. Jn 15:5)
and that only through him, with him and in him,
will we be instruments of salvation
for the world.
Bride of the Holy Spirit,
obtain for us the inestimable gift
of transformation in Christ.
Through the same power of the Spirit that
making you the Mother of the Saviour,
help us to bring Christ your Son
to birth in ourselves too.
May the Church
be thus renewed by priests who are holy,
priests transfigured by the grace of him
who makes all things new.
Mother of Mercy,
it was your Son Jesus who called us
to become like him:
light of the world and salt of the earth
(cf. Mt 5:13-14).
through your powerful intercession,
never to fall short of this sublime vocation,
nor to give way to our selfishness,
to the allurements of the world
and to the wiles of the Evil One.
Preserve us with your purity,
guard us with your humility
and enfold us with your maternal love
that is reflected in so many souls
consecrated to you,
who have become for us
true spiritual mothers.
Mother of the Church,
we priests want to be pastors
who do not feed themselves
but rather give themselves to God for their brethren,
finding their happiness in this.
Not only with words, but with our lives,
we want to repeat humbly,
day after day,
Our “here I am”.
Guided by you,
we want to be Apostles
of Divine Mercy,
glad to celebrate every day
the Holy Sacrifice of the Altar
and to offer to those who request it
the sacrament of Reconciliation.
Advocate and Mediatrix of grace,
you who are fully immersed
in the one universal mediation of Christ,
invoke upon us, from God,
a heart completely renewed
that loves God with all its strength
and serves mankind as you did.
Repeat to the Lord
your efficacious word:
“They have no wine” (Jn 2:3),
so that the Father and the Son will send upon us
a new outpouring of
the Holy Spirit.
Full of wonder and gratitude
at your continuing presence in our midst,
in the name of all priests
I too want to cry out:
“Why is this granted me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk 1:43).
Our Mother for all time,
do not tire of “visiting us”,
consoling us, sustaining us.
Come to our aid
and deliver us from every danger
that threatens us.
With this act of entrustment and consecration,
we wish to welcome you
more deeply, more radically,
for ever and totally
into our human and priestly lives.
Let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth
in the desert of our loneliness,
let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness,
let it restore calm after the tempest,
so that all mankind shall see the salvation
of the Lord,
who has the name and the face of Jesus,
who is reflected in our hearts,
for ever united to yours!
© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Holy Father's Address at Fatima Shrine
"Do Not Be Afraid to Talk of God"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before leading the faithful in the recitation of the rosary at the Chapel of Apparitions, Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima.
* * *
All of you, standing together with lighted candles in your hands, seem like a sea of light around this simple chapel, lovingly built to the honour of the Mother of God and our mother, whose path from earth to heaven appeared to the shepherd children like a way of light. However, neither Mary nor we have a light of our own: we receive it from Jesus. His presence within us renews the mystery and the call of the burning bush which once drew Moses on Mount Sinai and still fascinates those aware of the light within us which burns without consuming us (cf. Ex 3:2-5). We are merely a bush, but one upon which the glory of God has now come down. To him therefore be every glory, and to us the humble confession of our nothingness and the unworthy adoration of the divine plan which will be fulfilled when "God will be all in all" (cf. 1 Cor 15:28). The matchless servant of that plan was the Virgin full of grace: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord: let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38).
Dear pilgrims, let us imitate Mary, letting her words "Let it be done to me" resound in our lives. God ordered Moses: "Take off your shoes, for the place on which you stand is holy ground" (Ex3:5). And that is what he did: he would put his shoes back on to free his people from slavery in Egypt and to guide them to the promised land. This was not about the possession of a parcel of land or about the national territory to which every people has a right; in the struggle for the freedom of Israel and in the exodus from Egypt, what appears central is above all the freedom to worship, the freedom of a religion of one’s own. Throughout the history of the chosen people, the promise of a homeland comes more and more to mean this: the land is granted in order to be a place of obedience, a window open to God.
In our time, in which the faith in many places seems like a light in danger of being snuffed out forever, the highest priority is to make God visible in the world and to open to humanity a way to God. And not to any god, but to the God who had spoken on Sinai; the God whose face we recognize in the love borne to the very end (cf. Jn 13:1) in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen. Dear brothers and sisters, worship Christ the Lord in your hearts (cf. 1 Pet 3:15)! Do not be afraid to talk of God and to manifest without fear the signs of faith, letting the light of Christ shine in the presence of the people of today, just as the Church which gives birth to humanity as the family of God sings on the night of the Easter Vigil.
Brothers and sisters, in this place it is amazing to think how three children entrusted themselves to the interior force which had enflamed them in the apparitions of the Angel and of our heavenly Mother. In this place where we were repeatedly requested to recite the rosary, let us allow ourselves to be attracted by the mysteries of Christ, the mysteries of Mary’s rosary. The recitation of the rosary allows us to fix our gaze and our hearts upon Jesus, just like his Mother, the supreme model of contemplation of the Son. Meditating upon the joyful, luminous, sorrowful and glorious mysteries as we pray our Hail Marys, let us reflect upon the interior mystery of Jesus, from the Incarnation, through the Cross, to the glory of the Resurrection; let us contemplate the intimate participation of Mary in the mystery of our life in Christ today, a life which is also made up of joy and sorrow, of darkness and light, of fear and hope. Grace invades our hearts, provoking a wish for an incisive and evangelical change of life so that we can say with Saint Paul: "For me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21) in a communion of life and destiny with Christ.
The devotion and affection of all of you, the faithful who have come here from all around the world, is clear to me. I bring with me the worries and hopes of our times, the sufferings of our wounded humanity and the problems of the world, and I place them at the feet of Our Lady of Fatima: Virgin Mother of God and our own dear Mother, intercede for us before your Son, that the family of nations, both those called Christians and those who do not yet know the Saviour, may live in peace and harmony, in order that they come together as the one people of God, to the glory of the most holy and indivisible Trinity. Amen.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Cardinal Bertone's Homily at Vigil Mass
"The World Belongs to Whoever Loves It Most and Is Best Able to Tell It So"
FATIMA, Portugal, MAY 12, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily given today by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Benedict XVI's secretary of state, at a vigil Mass for Thursday's feast of Our Lady of Fatima.
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone celebrated the Mass following a rosary led by the Pope in Latin and a candlelight pilgrimage.
* * *
Venerable Brother Bishops and Priests
Beloved Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,
Jesus said: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). In order to enter the kingdom, we must become humble, ever humbler and smaller, as small as possible: this is the secret of the mystical life. A serious commitment to the spiritual life begins when a person makes an authentic act of humility, moving away from the difficult position of one who always considers himself the centre of the universe so as to abandon oneself into the arms of the mystery of God, with the heart of a child.
Into the arms of the mystery of God! In him not only is there power, knowledge and majesty, but also infancy, innocence, infinite tenderness, because he is Father, infinitely Father.
We did not know this before, nor could we have known it; it was only when he sent his Son to us that we were able to discover it. The Son became a child and so he could tell us to become children ourselves in order to enter his kingdom. He, the God of infinite grandeur, became so small and humble before us that only the eyes of faith, only the eyes of the simple are able to recognize him (cf. Mt 11:25). In this way he called into question the natural instinct of self-assertion that dominates us: “Become like God” (cf. Gen 3:5). Very well, then! God appeared on earth as a child. Now we know what God is like: he is a child. We had to see it to believe it! He came to address our overwhelming need to be noticed, but he turned it on its head by inviting us to place it at the service of love; to be noticed, yes, but as the most peaceable, indulgent, generous and serviceable to all: the servant and the last of all.
Brothers and sisters, this is “the wisdom from above” (cf. Jas 3:17). By contrast, the “wisdom” of the world exalts personal success and seeks it at any cost, eliminating without scruples those who are considered an obstacle to one’s own supremacy. This is what people call life, but the trail of death that it leaves behind immediately contradicts them. “Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer”, as we heard in our second reading, “and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him” (1 Jn 3:15). Only someone who loves his brother possesses in himself eternal life, that is to say, the presence of God, who, through the Spirit, communicates his love to the believer, making him a sharer in the mystery of the life of the Blessed Trinity.
Just as an emigré to a foreign country, even if he adapts well to the new situation, preserves – at least in his heart – the laws and customs of his people, so too when Jesus came on earth, he brought with him, as a pilgrim of the Blessed Trinity, the manner of life of his heavenly homeland which “expresses humanly the divine ways of the Trinity” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 470). In baptism, each one of us renounced the “wisdom” of the world and turned towards the “wisdom from above”, which was manifested in Jesus, the matchless Teacher of the art of loving (cf. 1 Jn 3:16). To lay down one’s life for one’s brother is the highest form of love, said Jesus (cf. Jn 15:13); he both said it and did it, commanding us to love as he did (cf. Jn
15:12). Passing from life as possession to life as gift is the great challenge that reveals – to ourselves and to others – who we are and who we want to be.
Fraternal and gratuitous love is the commandment and the mission that the divine Teacher left us, one that is capable of convincing our brothers and sisters in humanity: “By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). At times we lament the marginal place of Christianity in present-day society, the difficulty of handing on the faith to the young, the decline in the number of priestly and religious vocations ... and one could list other grounds for concern; in fact, we often think of ourselves as the losers vis-à-vis the world. The adventure of hope, however, takes us beyond that point. It teaches us that the world belongs to whoever loves it most and is best able to tell it so. In the heart of every person there is an infinite thirst for love; and we, with the love that God pours into our hearts (cf. Rom 5:5), are able to satisfy that thirst. Naturally, our love must express itself not “in word or speech but in deed and in truth”, joyfully and readily placing our goods at the disposal of those in need (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18).
Beloved pilgrims, and all who are listening to me, “share with joy, like Jacinta”. That is the invitation that this Shrine chose to highlight on the centenary of the birth of the blessed visionary of Fatima. Ten years ago, in this very place, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II raised her to the glory of the altars together with her brother Francisco; they accomplished in a short time the long journey towards holiness, guided and sustained by the hands of the Virgin Mary.
They are two mature fruits of the tree of our Saviour’s Cross. Reflecting upon them, we know that this is the season of fruits … fruits of holiness. O ancient Lusitanian stock, nourished by Christianity, with branches reaching out into other worlds and sprouting up there as new Christian peoples, upon you the Queen of Heaven has placed her foot – the victorious foot that crushed the head of the deceitful serpent (cf. Gen 3:15) – seeking out the little ones of the kingdom of heaven. Strengthened by the prayer of this night of vigil and with eyes firmly fixed upon the glory of Blessed Francisco and Jacinta, accept Jesus’s challenge: “Unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 18:3). For those like us, spoilt by pride, it is not easy to become like children. That is why Jesus admonishes us so severely: “You will not enter … ”! He leaves us no alternative. Portugal, do not resign yourself to forms of thinking and living that have no future, because they are not based on the firm certitude of the word of God, of the Gospel. “Do not be afraid! The Gospel is not against you, but for you … In the Gospel, which is Jesus, you will find the sure and lasting hope to which you aspire. This hope is grounded in the victory of Christ over sin and death. He wishes this victory to be your own, for your salvation and your joy” (Ecclesia in Europa, 121).
The first reading shows us how Samuel found a guide in the High Priest Eli. In his dealings with the boy, Eli displayed all the prudence required for the task of a true educator, one who is able to intuit the nature of the profound experience that Samuel is undergoing. No one, in fact, can decide the vocation of another; therefore Eli directs Samuel to listen humbly to the word of God: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:10). In a sense we can interpret in a similar light this visit by the Holy Father, which has as its theme: “Pope Benedict XVI, we walk with you in Hope!” These are words that suggest both a collective confession of faith and adherence to the Church that is visibly founded on Peter, and also a personal apprenticeship of trust and loyalty towards the paternal and wise guidance of the one chosen by heaven to point out the sure way that leads there to the people of today.
Holy Father, “we walk with you in Hope!” With you, we learn to distinguish between the great Hope and the lesser hopes that, like ourselves, are always limited! At those moments when, amid the general defection back to the lesser hopes, we hear the challenging words of Jesus, the Great Hope: “Do you also wish to go away?”, awaken us, Peter, with your perennial response: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life; and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God” (Jn 6:68-69). Truly – as we are reminded by the Peter of today, Pope Benedict XVI – “anyone who does not know God, even though he may entertain all kinds of hopes, is ultimately without hope, without the great hope that sustains the whole of life (cf. Eph 2:12). Man’s great, true hope which holds firm in spite of all disappointments can only be God – God who has loved us and who continues to love us ‘to the end’, until all ‘is accomplished’ (cf. Jn 13:1 and 19:30)” (Spe Salvi, 27).
Beloved pilgrims of Fatima, make sure that heaven is always the horizon of your lives! People have tried to tell you that heaven can wait, but they have been deceiving you … the voice that comes from heaven is not like these siren voices, reminiscent of the legendary creatures who duped their victims into distraction before plunging them into the abyss. For two thousand years, beginning from Galilee, the definitive voice of the Son of God has resounded to the ends of the earth, saying: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mk 1:15). Fatima reminds us that heaven cannot wait! Therefore we ask Our Lady, with filial trust, to teach us how to offer heaven to earth: O Virgin Mary, teach us to believe, to worship, to hope and to love with you! Show us the way towards the kingdom of Jesus, the way of spiritual childhood. O Star of Hope, as you anxiously await us in the unending Light of the heavenly homeland, shine upon us and guide us in the events of every day, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.
Pope's Words of Farewell to Portugal
"May This Glorious Nation Continue to Manifest Greatness of Spirit"
PORTO, Portugal, MAY 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the farewell ceremony held at the International Airport of Porto, marking the end of his four-day trip to the country.
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Dear Brother Bishops,
At the conclusion of my visit, my heart is filled with vivid memories of a great many moments from my pilgrimage to Portugal. I shall long remember the heartfelt and affectionate welcome that you accorded me, the warmth and spontaneity with which bonds of communion were established with the groups that I was able to encounter, the hard work that went into the preparation and realization of the pastoral programme.
As I take my leave, I express sincere gratitude to all of you: to the President of the Republic, who has honoured me with his presence since my arrival here, to my brother bishops with whom I have renewed our profound union in the service of Christ’s Kingdom, to the Government and to all the civil and military authorities who have done their utmost with visible dedication throughout the entire journey. I offer you every good wish! The communications media have enabled me to reach out to many people who were unable to see me in person. To them too I am most grateful.
To all the Portuguese, whether Catholic or not, to the men and women who live here, whether they were born here or elsewhere, I extend my greetings at this moment of leave-taking. May you live in increasing harmony with one another, a pre-requisite for genuine cohesion and the only way to address the challenges before you with shared responsibility. May this glorious nation continue to manifest greatness of spirit, a profound sense of God and an openness to solidarity, governed by principles and values imbued with Christian humanism. In Fatima I prayed for the whole world, asking that the future may see an increase in fraternity and solidarity, greater mutual respect and renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly Father.
It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Portuguese ecclesial community. I was able to see the enthusiasm of the children and young people, the faithfulness of the priests, deacons and religious, the pastoral dedication of the bishops, the desire to search for truth and evident beauty in the world of culture, the resourcefulness of the social pastoral workers, the vibrancy of faith among the lay faithful in the dioceses that I visited. I hope that my visit may become an incentive for renewed spiritual and apostolic ardour. May the Gospel be accepted in its entirety and witnessed with passion by every disciple of Christ, so that it may show itself to be a leaven of authentic renewal for the whole of society!
I impart my Apostolic Blessing to Portugal and to all its sons and daughters, bringing hope, peace and courage, which I implore from God through the intercession of Our Lady of Fatima, to whom you pray with such trust and firm love. Let us continue to walk in hope! Good-bye!
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Homily at Mass in Porto
"It Is Jesus Whom Everyone Awaits"
PORTO, Portugal, MAY 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during a public Mass in Porto's Gran Plaza de la Avenida dos Aliados, which is in front of the municipal palace, with the participation of 120,000 faithful.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
"It is written in the book of Psalms, … ‘His office let another take’. One of these men, then […] must become a witness with us to his resurrection" (Acts 1:20-22). These were the words of Peter, as he read and interpreted the word of God in the midst of his brethren gathered in the Upper Room following Jesus’ ascension to heaven. The one who was chosen was Matthias, who had been a witness to the public life of Jesus and his victory over death, and had remained faithful to him to the end, despite the fact that many abandoned him. The "disproportion" between the forces on the field, which we find so alarming today, astounded those who saw and heard Christ two thousand years ago. It was only he, from the shore of the Lake of Galilee right up to the squares of Jerusalem, alone or almost alone at the decisive moments: he, in union with the Father; he, in the power of the Spirit. Yet it came about, in the end, that from the same love that created the world, the newness of the Kingdom sprang up like a small seed which rises from the ground, like a ray of light which breaks into the darkness, like the dawn of a unending day: it is Christ Risen. And he appeared to his friends, showing them the need for the Cross in order to attain the resurrection.
On that day Peter was looking for a witness to all this. Two were presented, and heaven chose "Matthias, and he was enrolled with the eleven apostles" (Acts 1:26). Today we celebrate his glorious memory in this "undefeated city", which festively welcomes the Successor of Peter. I give thanks to God that I have been able come here and meet you around the altar. I offer a cordial greeting to you, my brethren and friends of the city and the Diocese of Oporto, to those who have come from the ecclesiastical province of Northern Portugal and from nearby Spain, and to all those physically or spiritually present at this liturgical assembly. I greet the Bishop of Oporto, Dom Manuel Clemente, who greatly desired this visit of mine, welcomed me with great affection, and voiced your sentiments at the beginning of this Eucharist. I greet his predecessors, his brother Bishops, all the priests, women and men religious, and the lay faithful, and in particular those actively involved in the Diocesan Mission, and, more concretely, in the preparations for my visit. I know that you have been able to count on the practical cooperation of the Mayor of Oporto and the public authorities, many of whom honour me by their presence; I wish to take advantage of this opportunity to greet them and to express to them, and to all whom they represent and serve, my best wishes for the good of all.
"One of these men must become with us a witness to his resurrection," said Peter. His Successor now repeats to each of you: My brothers and sisters, you need to become witnesses with me to the resurrection of Jesus. In effect, if you do not become his witnesses in your daily lives, who will do so in your place? Christians are, in the Church and with the Church, missionaries of Christ sent into the world. This is the indispensable mission of every ecclesial community: to receive from God and to offer to the world the Risen Christ, so that every situation of weakness and of death may be transformed, through the Holy Spirit, into an opportunity for growth and life. To this end, in every Eucharistic celebration, we will listen more attentively to the word of Christ and devoutly taste the bread of his presence. This will make us witnesses, and, even more, bearers of the Risen Jesus in the world, bringing him to the various sectors of society and to all those who live and work there, spreading that "life in abundance" (cf. Jn 10:10) which he has won for us by his cross and resurrection, and which satisfies the most authentic yearnings of the human heart.
We impose nothing, yet we propose ceaselessly, as Peter recommends in one of his Letters: "In your hearts, reverence Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to make a defence to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). And everyone, in the end, asks this of us, even those who seem not to. From personal and communal experience, we know well that it is Jesus whom everyone awaits. In fact, the most profound expectations of the world and the great certainties of the Gospel meet in the ineluctable mission which is ours, for "without God man neither knows which way to go, nor even understands who he is. In the face of the enormous problems surrounding the development of peoples, which almost make us yield to discouragement, we find solace in the sayings of our Lord Jesus Christ, who teaches us: ‘Apart from me you can do nothing’ (Jn 15:5) and who encourages us: ‘I am with you always, to the close of the age’ (Mt 28:20)" (Caritas in Veritate, 78).
Yet even though this certainty consoles and calms us, it does not exempt us from going forth to others. We must overcome the temptation to restrict ourselves to what we already have, or think we have, safely in our possession: it would be sure death in terms of the Church’s presence in the world; the Church, for that matter, can only be missionary, in the outward movement of the Spirit. From its origins, the Christian people has clearly recognized the importance of communicating the Good News of Jesus to those who did not yet know him. In recent years the anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework of humanity has changed; today the Church is called to face new challenges and is ready to dialogue with different cultures and religions, in the search for ways of building, along with all people of good will, the peaceful coexistence of peoples. The field of the mission ad gentes appears much broader today, and no longer to be defined on the basis of geographic considerations alone; in effect, not only non-Christian peoples and those who are far distant await us, but so do social and cultural milieux, and above all human hearts, which are the real goal of the missionary activity of the People of God.
This is the mandate whose faithful fulfilment "must follow the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and of self-sacrifice even unto death, a death from which he emerged victorious by his resurrection" (Ad Gentes, 5). Yes! We are called to serve the humanity of our own time, trusting in Jesus alone, letting ourselves be enlightened by his word: "You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (Jn 15:16). How much time we have lost, how must work has been set back, on account of our lack of attention to this point! Everything is to be defined starting with Christ, as far as the origins and effectiveness of mission is concerned: we receive mission always from Christ, who has made known to us what he has heard from his Father, and we are appointed to mission through the Spirit, in the Church. Like the Church herself, which is the work of Christ and his Spirit, it is a question of renewing the face of the earth starting from God, God always and alone.
Dear brothers and sisters of Oporto, lift up your eyes to the One whom you have chosen as the patroness of your city, the Immaculate Conception. The angel of the Annunciation greeted Mary as "full of grace", signifying with this expression that her heart and her life were totally open to God and, as such, completely permeated by his grace. May Our Lady help you to make yourselves a free and total "Yes" to the grace of God, so that you can be renewed and thus renew humanity by the light and the joy of the Holy Spirit.
[After the Mass ended, the Pope directed this greeting from the balcony of the Municipal Palace]
Brothers and sisters, my dear friends,
I am happy to be among you and I thank you for the festive and cordial welcome which I have received here in Oporto, the "City of the Virgin." To her motherly protection I entrust you and your families, your communities and institutions serving the common good, including the universities of the city whose students have gathered to show me their gratitude and their attachment to the teaching of the Successor of Peter. Thank you for your presence and for the witness of your faith. I also thank again those who worked in various ways preparing and realizing my visit, especially the preparations made in prayer. I would have happily prolonged my stay in your city, but it is not possible. So let me take my leave of you, embracing each one of you affectionately in Christ our Hope, as I give you my blessing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana