Benedict XVI's visit to Pavia
"Passion for the Truth
Truly Guided Him"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 15, 2007, Zenit.org - Here is a Vatican
translation of Benedict XVI's homily on Augustine's three stages of
conversion. He delivered it April 22 during his pastoral visit to
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PASTORAL VISIT TO VIGEVANO AND PAVIA (ITALY)
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
"Orti Borromaici" Esplanade, Pavia
Third Sunday of Easter, 22 April 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Yesterday afternoon, I met the diocesan Community of
Vigevano and the heart of my Pastoral Visit was the Eucharistic
concelebration in Piazza Ducale; today, I have the joy of visiting your
Diocese and a culminating moment of our encounter is also here at Holy
I greet with affection my Brothers who are concelebrating
with me: Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, Archbishop of Milan, Bishop
Giovanni Giudici, Pastor of your Diocese, Bishop emeritus Giovanni
Volta, the retired Pastor, and the other Prelates of Lombardy.
I am grateful to the Government Representatives and local
Administrations for their presence. I address my cordial greeting to
the priests, deacons, Religious, leaders of lay associations, the young
people, the sick and all the faithful, and I extend my thoughts to the
entire population of this ancient and noble City, and of the Diocese.
During the Easter Season, the Church presents to us,
Sunday after Sunday, some passages from the preaching with which, after
Easter, the Apostles, particularly Peter, invited Israel to have faith
in Jesus Christ, the Risen One, thereby founding the Church.
In today's reading, the Apostles stand before the
Sanhedrin -- before that institution which, having sentenced Jesus to
death, could not tolerate that this same Jesus was now beginning to be
active again through the Apostles' preaching. They could not tolerate
that his saving power was once more making itself felt and that his
Name was attracting people who believed in him as the promised Redeemer.
They accused the Apostles. Their accusation is: "You want
to make us responsible for that man's blood".
Peter, however, reacted to this accusation with a brief
catechesis on the essence of Christian faith: "No, we do not want to
make you responsible for his blood. The effect of the death and
Resurrection of Jesus is quite different. God has exalted him as "'Head
and Saviour' of all, and of you, too, his People of Israel". And where
will this "Head" lead us? What does this "Saviour" bring?
He leads us, St Peter tells us, to conversion -- creates
for us the leeway and opportunity to mend our ways and repent, begin
again. And he offers us forgiveness for our sins: he introduces us into
the proper relationship with God, hence, into the proper relationship
of each individual with himself or herself and with others.
Peter's brief catechesis did not only apply to the
Sanhedrin. It speaks to us all, for Jesus, the Risen One, is also alive
today. And for all generations, for all men and women, he is the "Head"
who shows us the way and the "Saviour" who straightens out our lives.
The two terms: "conversion" and "forgiveness of sins",
which correspond to the titles of Christ "Head", archegòs in
"Saviour", are the key words of Peter's catechesis, words intended to
move our hearts too, here and now. And what do they mean?
The path we must take -- the path that Jesus points out to
us -- is called "conversion". But what is it? What must we do? In every
life conversion has its own form, because every human being is
something new and no one is merely a copy of another.
But in the course of history, the Lord has sent us models
of conversion to whom we can look to find guidance. We could thus look
at Peter himself to whom the Lord said at the Last Supper: "[W]hen you
have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Luke 22: 32).
We could look at Paul as a great convert. The City of
Pavia speaks of one of the greatest converts in the history of the
Church: St Aurelius Augustine. He died on 28 August in 430 in the port
town of Hippo, in Africa, at that time surrounded and besieged by the
After the considerable turmoil of a turbulent history, the
King of the Longobards acquired Augustine's remains for the City of
Pavia so that today they belong to this City in a special way, and, in
it and from it, have something special to say to all of us, to
humanity, but to all of us here in particular.
In his book, Confessions, Augustine touchingly described
the development of his conversion which achieved its goal with Baptism,
administered to him by Bishop Ambrose in the Cathedral of Milan.
Readers of his Confessions can share in the journey that Augustine had
to make in a long inner struggle to receive at last, at the baptismal
font on the night before Easter 387, the Sacrament which marked the
great turning point in his life.
A careful examination of the course of St Augustine's life
enables one to perceive that his conversion was not an event of a
single moment but, precisely, a journey. And one can see that this
journey did not end at the baptismal font.
Just as prior to his baptism Augustine's life was a
journey of conversion, after it too, although differently, his life
continued to be a journey of conversion -- until his last illness, when
he had the penitential Psalms hung on the walls so that he might have
them always before his eyes, and when he excluded himself from
receiving the Eucharist in order to go back once again over the path of
his repentance and receive salvation from Christ's hands as a gift of
Thus, we can rightly speak of Augustine's "conversions",
which actually consisted of one important conversion in his quest for
the Face of Christ and then in the journeying on with him.
I would like to mention briefly three important landmarks
in this process of conversion, three "conversions".
The first fundamental conversion was the inner march
towards Christianity, towards the "yes" of the faith and of Baptism.
What was the essential aspect of this journey?
On the one hand, Augustine was a son of his time, deeply
conditioned by the customs and passions prevalent then as well as by
all the questions and problems that beset any young man. He lived like
all the others, yet with a difference: he continued to be a person
constantly seeking. He was never satisfied with life as it presented
itself and as so many people lived it.
The question of the truth tormented him ceaselessly. He
longed to discover truth. He wanted to succeed in knowing what man is;
where we ourselves come from, where we are going and how we can find
He desired to find the life that was right and not merely
to live blindly, without meaning or purpose.
Passion for truth is the true key phrase of his life.
Passion for the truth truly guided him.
There is a further peculiarity: anything that did not bear
Christ's Name did not suffice for him. Love for this Name, he tells us,
he had tasted from his mother's milk (cf. Confessions, 3, 4, 8). And he
always believed -- sometimes rather vaguely, at other times, more
clearly -- that God exists and takes care of us (cf. Confessions, 6, 5,
But to truly know this God and to become really familiar
with this Jesus Christ and reach the point of saying "yes" to him with
all its consequences -- this was the great interior struggle of his
St Augustine tells us that through Platonic philosophy he
learned and recognized that "in the beginning was the Word" -- the
Logos, creative reason. But philosophy, which showed him that the
beginning of all things was creative reason, did not show him any path
on which to reach it; this Logos remained remote and intangible.
Only through faith in the Church did he later find the
second essential truth: the Word, the Logos, was made flesh.
Thus, he touches us and we touch him. The humility of
God's Incarnation -- this is the important step -- must be equalled by
the humility of our faith, which lays down its self-important pride and
bows upon entering the community of Christ's Body; which lives with the
Church and through her alone can enter into concrete and bodily
communion with the living God.
I do not have to say how deeply all this concerns us: to
remain seekers; to refuse to be satisfied with what everyone else says
and does; to keep our gaze fixed on the eternal God and on Jesus
Christ; to learn the humility of faith in the corporeal Church of Jesus
Christ, of the Logos Incarnate.
Augustine described his second conversion at the end of
the 10th book of his Confessions with the words: "Terrified by my sins
and the pile of my misery, I had racked my heart and had meditated,
taking flight to live in solitude. But you forbade me and comforted me,
saying: "That is why Christ died for all, so that those who live should
not live for themselves, but for him who died for them' (2 Corinthians
5:15)"; Confessions, 10, 43, 70).
What had happened? After his baptism, Augustine had
decided to return to Africa and with some of his friends had founded a
small monastery there. His life was then to be totally dedicated to
conversation with God and reflection on and contemplation of the beauty
and truth of his Word.
Thus, he spent three happy years in which he believed he
had achieved the goal of his life; in that period, a series of valuable
philosophical and theological works came into being.
In 391, four years after his baptism, he went to the port
town of Hippo to meet a friend whom he desired to win over for his
monastery. But he was recognized at the Sunday liturgy in the cathedral
in which he took part.
It was not by chance that the Bishop of the city, a man of
Greek origin who was not fluent in Latin and found preaching rather a
struggle, said in his homily that he was hoping to find a priest to
whom he could entrust the task of preaching.
People instantly grabbed hold of Augustine and forced him
forward to be ordained a priest to serve the city.
Immediately after his forced ordination, Augustine wrote
to Bishop Valerius: "I was constrained ... to accept second place at
the helm, when as yet I knew not how to handle an oar. ... And from
this derived the tears which some of my brethren perceived me shedding
in the city at the time of my ordination" (cf. Letter 21, 1ff.).
Augustine's beautiful dream of a contemplative life had
vanished. As a result, his life had fundamentally changed. He could now
no longer dedicate himself solely to meditation in solitude. He had to
live with Christ for everyone. He had to express his sublime knowledge
and thoughts in the thoughts and language of the simple people in his
city. The great philosophical work of an entire lifetime, of which he
had dreamed, was to remain unwritten.
Instead, however, we have been given something far more
precious: the Gospel translated into the language of everyday life and
of his sufferings.
These were now part of his daily life, which he described
as the following: "reprimanding the undisciplined, comforting the
faint-hearted, supporting the weak, refuting opponents ... encouraging
the negligent, soothing the quarrelsome, helping the needy, liberating
the oppressed, expressing approval to the good, tolerating the wicked
and loving all" (Sermon 340, 3).
"Continuously preaching, arguing, rebuking, building God's
house, having to manage for everyone -- who would not shrink from such
a heavy burden?" (Sermon 339, 4).
This was the second conversion which this man, struggling
and suffering, was constantly obliged to make: to be available to
everyone, time and again, and not for his own perfection; time and
again, to lay down his life with Christ so that others might find him,
Further, there was a third, decisive phase in the journey
of conversion of St Augustine. After his Ordination to the priesthood
he had requested a vacation period to study the Sacred Scriptures in
His first series of homilies, after this pause for
reflection, were on the Sermon on the Mount; he explained the way to an
upright life, "the perfect life", pointed out by Christ in a new way.
He presented it as a pilgrimage to the holy mountain of the Word of
God. In these homilies it is possible to further perceive all the
enthusiasm of faith newly discovered and lived; his firm conviction
that the baptized, in living totally in accordance with Christ's
message, can precisely be "perfect" in accordance with the Sermon on
Approximately 20 years later, Augustine wrote a book
called the Retractations, in which he critically reviewed all the works
he had thus far written, adding corrections wherever he had in the
meantime learned something new.
With regard to the ideal of perfection in his homilies on
the Sermon on the Mount, he noted: "In the meantime, I have understood
that one alone is truly perfect and that the words of the Sermon on the
Mount are totally fulfilled in one alone: Jesus Christ himself.
"The whole Church, on the other hand -- all of us,
including the Apostles -- must pray every day: forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us" (cf. Retract. I
Augustine had learned a further degree of humility -- not
only the humility of integrating his great thought into the humble
faith of the Church, not only the humility of translating his great
knowledge into the simplicity of announcement, but also the humility of
recognizing that he himself and the entire pilgrim Church needed and
continually need the merciful goodness of a God who forgives every day.
And we, he added, liken ourselves to Christ, the only
Perfect One, to the greatest possible extent when we become, like him,
people of mercy.
Let us now thank God for the great light that shines out
from St Augustine's wisdom and humility and pray the Lord to give to us
all, day after day, the conversion we need, and thus lead us toward
true life. Amen.
Papal Address at
the University of Pavia
"What the Person Needs Is Unity and Synthesis"
University's Theresian Courtyard, Pavia
Sunday, 22 April 2007
Although it is brief, my Pastoral Visit to Pavia
leave out a stop at this University, which has been a hallmark of your
City for centuries.
I am therefore glad to find myself among you for
encounter, to which I attribute special importance since I also come
from the academic world.
I greet with cordial respect the professors, and in
first place, Prof. Angiolino Stella, whom I thank for his courteous
words. I greet the students, especially the young man who expressed the
sentiments of the other university students. He reassured me of your
courage in dedication to the truth, of your courage in seeking beyond
the limits of the known and not surrendering to the weakness of reason.
And I am very grateful to him for these words.
I also extend my good wishes to all the members of
your academic community who were prevented from being present here
Your University is one of the oldest and most
distinguished of the Italian Universities and -- I repeat the words of
the Rector Magnificent -- among the teachers who have honoured it are
figures such as Alessandro Volta, Camillo Golgi and Carlo Forlanini.
I am also eager to recall that teachers and
marked by an eminent spiritual stature have passed through your
Athenaeum. They were: Michele Ghislieri, who later became Pope St Pius
V, St Charles Borromeo, St Alessandro Sauli, St Riccardo Pampuri, St
Gianna Beretta Molla, Bl. Contardo Ferrini and the Servant of God
Dear friends, every university has an inherent
vocation: indeed, it is, precisely, a universitas, a community of
teachers and students committed to seeking the truth and to acquiring
superior cultural and professional skills.
The centrality of the person and the community
are two co-essential poles for an effective structuring of the
Every university must always preserve the traits of
study centre "within man's reach", where the student is preserved from
anonymity and can cultivate a fertile dialogue with his teachers from
which he draws an incentive for his cultural and human growth.
From this structure derive certain applications
connected to one another. First of all, it is certain that only by
putting the person at the centre and making the most of dialogue and
interpersonal relations can the specializing fragmentation of
disciplines be overcome and the unitive perspective of knowledge be
Naturally, and also rightly, the disciplines tend
to specialization, while what the person needs is unity and synthesis.
Secondly, it is fundamentally important that the
commitment to scientific research be open to the existential question
of meaning for the person's life itself. Research seeks knowledge,
whereas the person also needs wisdom, that knowledge, as it were, which
is expressed in the "knowing-living".
In the third place, only in appreciating the person
interpersonal relationships can the didactic relationship become an
educational relationship, a process of human development. Indeed, the
structure gives priority to communication while people aspire to
I know that this attention to the person, his
experience of life and his aspiration to communion are very present in
the pastoral action of the Church of Pavia in the field of culture.
This is witnessed to by the work of University Colleges of Christian
Among these, I too would like to recall the
Borromeo, desired by St Charles Borromeo with Pope Pius IV's Bull of
foundation, and the Collegio Santa Caterina, founded by the Diocese of
Pavia to comply with the wishes of the Servant of God Paul VI, with a
crucial contribution from the Holy See.
In this sense, the work of the parishes and
movements is also important, especially that of the Diocesan University
Centre and the Italian Catholic University Students' Association (FUCI).
The purpose of their activity is to welcome the
his totality, to propose harmonious processes of human, cultural and
Christian formation, and to provide spaces for sharing, discussion and
I would like to take this opportunity to ask both
and teachers not to feel that they are merely the object of pastoral
attention but to participate actively and to make their contribution to
the cultural project of Christian inspiration which the Church promotes
in Italy and in Europe.
In meeting you, dear friends, the thought of
Co-Patron of this University together with St Catherine of Alexandria,
springs spontaneously to mind. Augustine's existential and intellectual
development witnesses to the fertile interaction between faith and
St Augustine was a man driven by a tireless desire
the truth, to find out what life is, to know how to live, to know man.
And precisely because of his passion for the human being, he
necessarily sought God, because it is only in the light of God that the
greatness of the human being and the beauty of the adventure of being
human can fully appear.
At first, this God appeared very remote to him.
Augustine found him: this great and inaccessible God made himself
close, one of us. The great God is our God, he is a God with a human
face. Thus, his faith in Christ did not have its ultimate end in his
philosophy or in his intellectual daring, but on the contrary, impelled
him further to seek the depths of the human being and to help others to
live well, to find life, the art of living.
This was his philosophy: to know how to live with
reason and all the depths of our thought, of our will, and to allow
ourselves to be guided on the path of truth, which is a path of
courage, humility and permanent purification.
Faith in Christ brought all Augustine's seeking to
fulfilment, but fulfilment in the sense that he always remained on the
way. Indeed, he tells us: even in eternity our seeking will not be
completed, it will be an eternal adventure, the discovery of new
greatness, new beauty.
He interpreted the words of the Psalm, "Seek his
continually", and said: this is true for eternity; and the beauty of
eternity is that it is not a static reality but immense progress in the
immense beauty of God.
Thus, he could discover God as the founding reason,
also as love which embraces us, guides us and gives meaning to history
and to our personal life.
This morning I had the opportunity to say that this
for Christ shaped his personal commitment. From a life patterned on
seeking, he moved on to a life given totally to Christ and thus to a
life for others.
He discovered -- this was his second conversion --
being converted to Christ means not living for oneself but truly being
at the service of all.
May St Augustine be for us and also for the
a model of dialogue between reason and faith, a model of a broad
dialogue which alone can seek truth, hence, also peace.
As my venerable Predecessor, John Paul II commented
Encyclical Fides et Ratio: "The Bishop of Hippo succeeded in producing
the first great synthesis of philosophy and theology, embracing
currents of thought both Greek and Latin. In him too the great unity of
knowledge, grounded in the thought of the Bible, was both confirmed and
sustained by a depth of speculative thinking" (n. 40).
I therefore invoke the intercession of St
that the University of Pavia may always be distinguished by special
attention to the individual, by an accentuated community dimension in
scientific research and by a fruitful dialogue between faith and
I thank you for your presence and as I
you every good for your studies, I impart to you all my Blessing, which
I extend to your relatives and loved ones.
Papal Homily at
"Serving Christ Is First of All
a Question of Love"
PAVIA, Italy, MAY 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
translation of Benedict XVI's April 22 homily at the basilica which
houses St. Augustine's tomb.
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PASTORAL VISIT TO VIGEVANO AND PAVIA (ITALY)
CELEBRATION OF VESPERS
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Basilica of St Pietro in Ciel d'Oro, Pavia
Third Sunday of Easter, 22 April 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
With this final event, my Visit to Pavia acquires
of a pilgrimage. This is the form in which I had conceived of it from
the outset, desiring to come here to venerate the mortal remains of St
Augustine, to express both the homage of the whole Catholic Church to
one of her greatest "fathers" and my personal devotion and gratitude to
the one who played such an important part in my life as a theologian
and a Pastor, but, I would say, even more as a man and a priest.
I renew with affection my greeting to Bishop
Giudici and I offer a special greeting to Fr Robert Francis Prevost,
Prior General of the Augustinians, to the Father Provincial and to the
entire Augustinian community. I greet you all with joy, dear priests,
men and women religious, consecrated lay people and seminarians.
Providence has deigned that my journey acquire the
character of a true and proper Pastoral Visit, and therefore, in this
pause for prayer here at the tomb of the Doctor gratiae, I would like
to identify a significant message for the Church's progress. This
message comes to us from the encounter of the Word of God and the
personal experience of the great Bishop of Hippo.
We have listened to the short biblical Reading for
Vespers of the Third Sunday of Easter (Heb 10:12-14). The Letter to the
Hebrews has set us before Christ, the eternal High Priest, exalted to
the Father's glory after offering himself as the one perfect sacrifice
of the New Covenant in which the work of Redemption was accomplished.
St Augustine fixed his gaze on this mystery and in
found the Truth he was so ardently seeking. Jesus Christ, the Incarnate
Word, the Sacrificed and Risen Lamb, is the Face of God-Love for every
human being on his journey along the paths of time towards eternity.
The Apostle John writes in a passage that can be
considered parallel to the one just proclaimed in the Letter to the
Hebrews: "In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins" (I Jn 4:10). Here is
the heart of the Gospel, the central nucleus of Christianity. The light
of this love opened Augustine's eyes and led him to encounter the
"beauty so old and so new" (Confessions, X, 27) in which alone the
human heart finds peace.
Dear brothers and sisters, here, in front of St
Augustine's tomb, I would like in spirit to present anew to the Church
and to the world my first Encyclical, which contains precisely this
central message of the Gospel: Deus caritas est, God is love (cf. I Jn
4:8,16). This Encyclical, especially Part One, is deeply indebted to
the thought of St Augustine, who was in love with the Love of God and
sang of it, meditated upon it, preached it in all his writings and
above all witnessed to it in his pastoral ministry.
Following in the wake of the teachings of the
Vatican Council and of my venerable Predecessors John XXIII, Paul VI,
John Paul I and John Paul II, I am convinced that humanity today stands
in need of this essential message, incarnate in Jesus Christ: God is
love. Everything must start from here and everything must lead to here,
every pastoral action, every theological treatise.
As St Paul said, "If I ... have not love I gain
(cf. I Cor 13:3). All charisms lose their meaning and value without
love, thanks to which instead, all compete to build the Mystical Body
Here then is the message that still today St
repeats to the whole Church and in particular, to this diocesan
Community which preserves his relics with such veneration. Love is the
soul of the Church's life and of her pastoral action. We heard it this
morning in the dialogue between Jesus and Simon Peter: "Do you love
me?... Tend my sheep" (cf. Jn 21:5-17).
Only those who live a personal experience of the
love are able to exercise the task of guiding and accompanying others
on the way of following Christ. At the school of St Augustine, I repeat
this truth for you as Bishop of Rome, while as a Christian I welcome it
with you with ever new joy.
Serving Christ is first of all a question of love.
brothers and sisters, your membership in the Church and your apostolate
always shine forth through freedom from any individual interest and
through adherence without reserve to Christ's love.
The young, in particular, need to receive the
of freedom and joy whose secret lies in Christ. He is the truest
response to the expectations of their hearts, restless because of the
many questions they bear within them.
Only in him, the Word spoken for us by the Father,
found that combination of truth and love which contains the full
meaning of life. Augustine lived in the first person and explored to
their depths the questions that man carries in his heart, and
investigated his capacity to open himself to the infinity of God.
In Augustine's footsteps, may you also be a Church
candidly proclaims the "glad tidings" of Christ, his proposal of life,
his message of reconciliation and forgiveness.
I have seen that your first pastoral goal is to
people to Christian maturity. I appreciate this priority given to
personal formation because the Church is not a mere organization of
group events or, on the contrary, the sum of individuals who live a
private religiosity. The Church is a community of people who believe in
the God of Jesus Christ and commit themselves to live in the world the
commandment of love that he bequeathed to us.
Thus, she is a community where one is taught to
this education happens not despite but through the events of life. This
is how it was for Peter, for Augustine and for all the saints. So it is
Personal maturation, enlivened by ecclesial
makes it possible to grow in community discernment, that is, in the
ability to read and interpret the present time in the light of the
Gospel in order to respond to the Lord's call. I encourage you to
progress in your personal and communal witness to active love.
The service of charity, which you correctly
conceive of as
always linked to the proclamation of the Word and the celebration of
the Sacraments, calls you and at the same time drives you to be
attentive to the material and spiritual needs of your brothers and
I encourage you to pursue the "high standard" of
living which finds in charity the bond of perfection and which must
also be expressed in a lifestyle inspired by the Gospel, inevitably
against the tide by the world's standards but which must always be
witnessed to with humility, respect and cordiality.
Dear brothers and sisters, it was a gift to me,
gift, to share with you this time at St Augustine's tomb. Your presence
has given my pilgrimage a more concrete sense of Church. Let us start
out from here bearing in our hearts the joy of being disciples of Love.
May the Virgin Mary, to whose motherly protection I
entrust each one of you and your loved ones, accompany us always, while
with deep affection I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all.
* * *
As he left the Basilica, the Pope greeted the
Pavia, including a large number of children who were waiting for him
In taking leave of this marvellous City of Pavia,
it is a
great joy for me to be able to see the children, boys and girls and
young people. You are especially close to the Lord. His love is
especially for you.
Let us move forward in love for the Lord! Pray for
me, and I will pray for you. Good-bye!
Address at Pavia
"Technology and Human Love
Should Always Go Together"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican
translation of Benedict XVI's April 22 address during his visit to the
San Matteo Polyclinic in Pavia, Italy.
* * *
PASTORAL VISIT TO VIGEVANO AND PAVIA (ITALY)
VISIT TO THE "SAN MATTEO" POLYCLINIC IN PAVIA
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE DIRECTORS, MEDICAL STAFF, THE SICK AND THEIR
"San Matteo" Polyclinic, Pavia
Sunday, 22 April 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The programme for my Pastoral Visit to Pavia could not
have omitted a stop at the San Matteo Polyclinic to meet you, dear sick
people, who come not only from the Province of Pavia but also from the
whole of Italy.
I express my personal closeness and solidarity to each one
of you as I also embrace in spirit the sick, the suffering, people in
difficulty in your Diocese and all those who take loving care of them.
I would like to reach out to you all with a word of encouragement and
I address a respectful greeting to Mr Alberto Guglielmo,
President of the Polyclinic, and I thank him for his cordial words that
he has just addressed to me. My gratitude extends to the doctors, the
nurses and all the personnel who work here daily.
I offer grateful thoughts to the Camillian Fathers who
every day, with lively pastoral zeal, bring to the sick the comfort of
the faith, as well as to the Sisters of Providence involved in generous
service in keeping with the charism of St Luigi Scrosoppi, their
I express heartfelt thanks to the representative of the
sick [who spoke prior to the Pope's Address] and I think with affection
of their relatives who share moments of trepidation and trustful
expectation with their loved ones.
A hospital is a place which in a certain way we might call
"holy", where one experiences not only the frailty of human nature but
also the enormous potential and resources of human ingenuity and
technology at the service of life.
Human life! However often it is explored, this gift always
remains a mystery.
I am aware that this hospital structure, your "San Matteo"
Polyclinic, is well known in this City and in the rest of Italy, in
particular for its pioneering surgery on several occasions. Here, you
seek to alleviate suffering in the attempt to restore the person to
complete health and this often happens, partly thanks to modern
scientific discoveries; and here, truly comforting results are obtained.
I strongly hope that the necessary scientific and
technological progress will constantly go hand in hand with the
awareness that together with the good of the sick person, one is
promoting those fundamental values, such as the respect for and defence
of life in all its stages, on which the authentically human quality of
Being here with you, it comes naturally to me to think of
Jesus, who in the course of his earthly existence always showed special
attention to the suffering, healing them and giving them the
possibility of returning to a life of family and social relations which
illness had compromised.
I am also thinking of the first Christian community,
where, as we read in these days in the Acts of the Apostles, many cases
of healing and miracles accompanied the Apostles' preaching.
The Church, following the example of her Lord, always
expresses special preference for the suffering and, as the President
said, sees Christ himself in the suffering and does not cease to offer
to the sick the necessary technical assistance and human love, knowing
that she is called to express Christ's love and concern for them and
for those who care for them.
Technical progress, technology and human love should
always go together!
Moreover, Jesus' words, "As you did it to one of the least
of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40;45), resonate with
special timeliness in this place. In every person stricken with illness
it is Jesus himself who waits for our love.
Suffering is of course repugnant to the human spirit; yet,
it is true that when it is accepted with love and compassion and
illumined by faith, it becomes a precious opportunity that mysteriously
unites one to Christ the Redeemer, the Man of sorrows who on the Cross
took upon himself human suffering and death.
With the sacrifice of his life, he redeemed human
suffering and made it the fundamental means of salvation.
Dear sick people, entrust to the Lord the hardships and
sorrows that you have to face and in his plan they will become a means
of purification and redemption for the whole world.
Dear friends, I assure each and every one of you of my
remembrance in prayer and, as I invoke Mary Most Holy, Salus infirmorum
-- Health of the Sick -- so that she may protect you and your families,
the directors, the doctors and the whole community of the Polyclinic, I
impart to you all with affection a special Apostolic Blessing.