Pope's Message for World Youth Day

"Accept Christs Love and You will be the Witnesses so Needed by our World"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2012 - Here is the full text of Pope Benedict XVI's message to young people in preparation for World Youth Day 2013 which will be held in Rio de Janeiro.

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 Dear young friends,

 I greet all of you with great joy and affection. I am sure that many of you returned from World Youth Day in Madrid all the more “planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith” (cf. Col2:7). This year in our Dioceses we celebrated the joy of being Christians, taking as our theme: “Rejoice in the Lord always” (Phil 4:4). And now we are preparing for the next World Youth Day, which will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in July 2013.

 Before all else, I invite you once more to take part in this important event. The celebrated statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking that beautiful Brazilian city will be an eloquent symbol for us. Christ’s open arms are a sign of his willingness to embrace all those who come to him, and his heart represents his immense love for everyone and for each of you. Let yourselves be drawn to Christ! Experience this encounter along with all the other young people who will converge on Rio for the next World Youth Day! Accept Christ’s love and you will be the witnesses so needed by our world.

 I invite you to prepare for World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro by meditating even now on the theme of the meeting: “Go and make disciples of all nations!” (cf. Mt 28:19). This is the great missionary mandate that Christ gave the whole Church, and today, two thousand years later, it remains as urgent as ever. This mandate should resound powerfully in your hearts. The year of preparation for the gathering in Rio coincides with the Year of Faith, which began with the Synod of Bishops devoted to “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith”. I am happy that you too, dear young people, are involved in this missionary outreach on the part of the whole Church. To make Christ known is the most precious gift that you can give to others.

 1. A pressing call

 History shows how many young people, by their generous gift of self, made a great contribution to the Kingdom of God and the development of this world by proclaiming the Gospel. Filled with enthusiasm, they brought the Good News of God’s Love made manifest in Christ; they used the means and possibilities then available, which were far inferior to those we have today. One example which comes to mind is Blessed José de Anchieta. He was a young Spanish Jesuit of the sixteenth century who went as a missionary to Brazil before he was twenty years old and became a great apostle of the New World. But I also think of those among yourselves who are generously devoted to the Church’s mission. I saw a wonderful testimony of this at World Youth Day in Madrid, particularly at the meeting with volunteers.

 Many young people today seriously question whether life is something good, and have a hard time finding their way. More generally, however, young people look at the difficulties of our world and ask themselves: is there anything I can do? The light of faith illumines this darkness. It helps us to understand that every human life is priceless because each of us is the fruit of God’s love. God loves everyone, even those who have fallen away from him or disregard him. God waits patiently. Indeed, God gave his Son to die and rise again in order to free us radically from evil. Christ sent his disciples forth to bring this joyful message of salvation and new life to all people everywhere.

 The Church, in continuing this mission of evangelization, is also counting on you. Dear young people, you are the first missionaries among your contemporaries! At the end of the Second Vatican Council – whose fiftieth anniversary we are celebrating this year – the Servant of God Paul VI consigned a message to the youth of the world. It began: “It is to you, young men and women of the world, that the Council wishes to address its final message. For it is you who are to receive the torch from the hands of your elders and to live in the world at the period of the most massive transformations ever realized in its history. It is you who, taking up the best of the example and the teaching of your parents and your teachers, will shape the society of tomorrow. You will either be saved or perish with it”. It concluded with the words: “Build with enthusiasm a better world than what we have today!” (Message to Young People, 8 December 1965).

 Dear friends, this invitation remains timely. We are passing through a very particular period of history. Technical advances have given us unprecedented possibilities for interaction between people and nations. But the globalization of these relationships will be positive and help the world to grow in humanity only if it is founded on love rather than on materialism. Love is the only thing that can fill hearts and bring people together. God is love. When we forget God, we lose hope and become unable to love others. That is why it is so necessary to testify to God’s presence so that others can experience it. The salvation of humanity depends on this, as well as the salvation of each of us. Anyone who understands this can only exclaim with Saint Paul: “Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Cor 9:16).

 2. Become Christ’s disciples

 This missionary vocation comes to you for another reason as well, and that is because it is necessary for our personal journey in faith. Blessed John Paul II wrote that “faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (Redemptoris Missio, 2). When you proclaim the Gospel, you yourselves grow as you become more deeply rooted in Christ and mature as Christians. Missionary commitment is an essential dimension of faith. We cannot be true believers if we do not evangelize. The proclamation of the Gospel can only be the result of the joy that comes from meeting Christ and finding in him the rock on which our lives can be built. When you work to help others and proclaim the Gospel to them, then your own lives, so often fragmented because of your many activities, will find their unity in the Lord. You will also build up your own selves, and you will grow and mature in humanity.

 What does it mean to be a missionary? Above all, it means being a disciple of Christ. It means listening ever anew to the invitation to follow him and look to him: “Learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart” (Mt 11:29). A disciple is a person attentive to Jesus’ word (cf. Lk10:39), someone who acknowledges that Jesus is the Teacher who has loved us so much that he gave his life for us. Each one of you, therefore, should let yourself be shaped by God’s word every day. This will make you friends of the Lord Jesus and enable you to lead other young people to friendship with him.

 I encourage you to think of the gifts you have received from God so that you can pass them on to others in turn. Learn to reread your personal history. Be conscious of the wonderful legacy passed down to you from previous generations. So many faith-filled people have been courageous in handing down the faith in the face of trials and incomprehension. Let us never forget that we are links in a great chain of men and women who have transmitted the truth of the faith and who depend on us to pass it on to others. Being a missionary presupposes knowledge of this legacy, which is the faith of the Church. It is necessary to know what you believe in, so that you can proclaim it. As I wrote in the introduction to the YouCat, the catechism for young people that I gave you at World Youth Day in Madrid, “you need to know your faith with that same precision with which an IT specialist knows the inner workings of a computer. You need to understand it like a good musician knows the piece he is playing. Yes, you need to be more deeply rooted in the faith than the generation of your parents so that you can engage the challenges and temptations of this time with strength and determination” (Foreward).

 3. Go forth!

 Jesus sent his disciples forth on mission with this command: “Go into all the world and proclaim the good news to the whole creation. The one who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk16:15-16). To evangelize means to bring the Good News of salvation to others and to let them know that this Good News is a person: Jesus Christ. When I meet him, when I discover how much I am loved by God and saved by God, I begin to feel not only the desire, but also the need to make God known to others. At the beginning of John’s Gospel we see how Andrew, immediately after he met Jesus, ran off to fetch his brother Simon (cf. 1:40-42). Evangelization always begins with an encounter with the Lord Jesus. Those who come to Jesus and have experienced his love, immediately want to share the beauty of the meeting and the joy born of his friendship. The more we know Christ, the more we want to talk about him. The more we speak with Christ, the more we want to speak about him. The more we are won over by Christ, the more we want to draw others to him.

 Through Baptism, which brings us to new life, the Holy Spirit abides in us and inflames our minds and hearts. The Spirit shows us how to know God and to enter into ever deeper friendship with Christ. It is the Spirit who encourages us to do good, to serve others and to give of ourselves. Through Confirmation we are strengthened by the gifts of the Spirit so that we can bear witness to the Gospel in an increasingly mature way. It is the Spirit of love, therefore, who is the driving force behind our mission. The Spirit impels us to go out from ourselves and to “go forth” to evangelize. Dear young people, allow yourselves to be led on by the power of God’s love. Let that love overcome the tendency to remain enclosed in your own world with your own problems and your own habits. Have the courage to “go out” from yourselves in order to “go forth” towards others and to show them the way to an encounter with God.

 4. Gather all nations

 The risen Christ sent his disciples forth to bear witness to his saving presence before all the nations, because God in his superabundant love wants everyone to be saved and no one to be lost. By his loving sacrifice on the cross, Jesus opened up the way for every man and woman to come to know God and enter into a communion of love with him. He formed a community of disciples to bring the saving message of the Gospel to the ends of the earth and to reach men and women in every time and place. Let us make God’s desire our own!

 Dear friends, open your eyes and look around you. So many young people no longer see any meaning in their lives. Go forth! Christ needs you too. Let yourselves be caught up and drawn along by his love. Be at the service of this immense love, so it can reach out to everyone, especially to those “far away”. Some people are far away geographically, but others are far away because their way of life has no place for God. Some people have not yet personally received the Gospel, while others have been given it, but live as if God did not exist. Let us open our hearts to everyone. Let us enter into conversation in simplicity and respect. If this conversation is held in true friendship, it will bear fruit. The “nations” that we are invited to reach out to are not only other countries in the world. They are also the different areas of our lives, such as our families, communities, places of study and work, groups of friends and places where we spend our free time. The joyful proclamation of the Gospel is meant for all the areas of our lives, without exception.

 I would like to emphasize two areas where your missionary commitment is all the more necessary. Dear young people, the first is the field of social communications, particularly the world of the internet. As I mentioned to you on another occasion: “I ask you to introduce into the culture of this new environment of communications and information technology the values on which you have built your lives. [...] It falls, in particular, to young people, who have an almost spontaneous affinity for the new means of communication, to take on the responsibility for the evangelization of this ‘digital continent’” (Message for the 43rd World Communications Day, 24 May 2009). Learn how to use these media wisely. Be aware of the hidden dangers they contain, especially the risk of addiction, of confusing the real world with the virtual, and of replacing direct and personal encounters and dialogue with internet contacts.

 The second area is that of travel and migration. Nowadays more and more young people travel, sometimes for their studies or work, and at other times for pleasure. I am also thinking of the movements of migration which involve millions of people, very often young, who go to other regions or countries for financial or social reasons. Here too we can find providential opportunities for sharing the Gospel. Dear young people, do not be afraid to witness to your faith in these settings. It is a precious gift for those you meet when you communicate the joy of an encounter with Christ.

 5. Make disciples!

 I imagine that you have at times found it difficult to invite your contemporaries to an experience of faith. You have seen how many young people, especially at certain points in their life journey, desire to know Christ and to live the values of the Gospel, but also feel inadequate and incapable. What can we do? First, your closeness and your witness will themselves be a way in which God can touch their hearts. Proclaiming Christ is not only a matter of words, but something which involves one’s whole life and translates into signs of love. It is the love that Christ has poured into our hearts which makes us evangelizers. Consequently, our love must become more and more like Christ’s own love. We should always be prepared, like the Good Samaritan, to be attentive to those we meet, to listen, to be understanding and to help. In this way we can lead those who are searching for the truth and for meaning in life to God’s house, the Church, where hope and salvation abide (cf. Lk 10:29-37). Dear friends, never forget that the first act of love that you can do for others is to share the source of our hope. If we do not give them God, we give them too little! Jesus commanded his Apostles: “Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Mt 28:19-20). The main way that we have to “make disciples” is through Baptism and catechesis. This means leading the people we are evangelizing to encounter the living Christ above all in his word and in the sacraments. In this way they can believe in him, they can come to know God and to live in his grace. I would like each of you to ask yourself: Have I ever had the courage to propose Baptism to young people who have not received it? Have I ever invited anyone to embark on a journey of discovery of the Christian faith? Dear friends, do not be afraid to suggest an encounter with Christ to people of your own age. Ask the Holy Spirit for help. The Spirit will show you the way to know and love Christ even more fully, and to be creative in spreading the Gospel.

 6. Firm in the faith

 When faced with difficulties in the mission of evangelizing, perhaps you will be tempted to say, like the prophet Jeremiah: “Ah, Lord God! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth”. But God will say to you too: “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you you shall go” (Jer 1:6-7). Whenever you feel inadequate, incapable and weak in proclaiming and witnessing to the faith, do not be afraid. Evangelization is not our initiative, and it does not depend on our talents. It is a faithful and obedient response to God’s call and so it is not based on our power but on God’s. Saint Paul knew this from experience: “But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, to show that the transcendent power belongs to God and not to us” (2 Cor 4:7).

 For this reason, I encourage you to make prayer and the sacraments your foundation. Authentic evangelization is born of prayer and sustained by prayer. We must first speak with God in order to be able to speak about God. In prayer, we entrust to the Lord the people to whom we have been sent, asking him to touch their hearts. We ask the Holy Spirit to make us his instruments for their salvation. We ask Christ to put his words on our lips and to make us signs of his love. In a more general way, we pray for the mission of the whole Church, as Jesus explicitly asked us: “Pray therefore the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest” (Mt 9:38). Find in the Eucharist the wellspring of your life of faith and Christian witness, regularly attending Mass each Sunday and whenever you can during the week. Approach the sacrament of Reconciliation frequently. It is a very special encounter with God’s mercy in which he welcomes us, forgives us and renews our hearts in charity. Make an effort to receive the Sacrament of Confirmation if you have not already done so, and prepare yourselves for it with care and commitment. Confirmation is, like the Eucharist, a sacrament of mission, for it gives us the strength and love of the Holy Spirit to profess fearlessly our faith. I also encourage you to practise Eucharistic adoration. Time spent in listening and talking with Jesus present in the Blessed Sacrament becomes a source of new missionary enthusiasm.

 If you follow this path, Christ himself will give you the ability to be completely faithful to his word and to bear faithful and courageous witness to him. At times you will be called to give proof of your perseverance, particularly when the word of God is met with rejection or opposition. In certain areas of the world, some of you suffer from the fact that you cannot bear public witness to your faith in Christ due to the lack of religious freedom. Some have already paid with their lives the price of belonging to the Church. I ask you to remain firm in the faith, confident that Christ is at your side in every trial. To you too he says: “Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Mt 5:11-12).

 7. With the whole Church

 Dear young people, if you are to remain firm in professing the Christian faith wherever you are sent, you need the Church. No one can bear witness to the Gospel alone. Jesus sent forth his disciples on mission together. He spoke to them in the plural when he said: “Make disciples”. Our witness is always given as members of the Christian community, and our mission is made fruitful by the communion lived in the Church. It is by our unity and love for one another that others will recognize us as Christ’s disciples (cf. Jn 13:35). I thank God for the wonderful work of evangelization being carried out by our Christian communities, our parishes and our ecclesial movements. The fruits of this evangelization belong to the whole Church. As Jesus said: “One sows and another reaps” (Jn 4:37).

 Here I cannot fail to express my gratitude for the great gift of missionaries, who devote themselves completely to proclaiming the Gospel to the ends of the earth. I also thank the Lord for priests and consecrated persons, who give themselves totally so that Jesus Christ will be proclaimed and loved. Here I would like to encourage young people who are called by God to commit themselves with enthusiasm to these vocations: “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). To those who leave everything to follow him, Jesus promised a hundredfold as much and eternal life besides (cf. Mt 19:29).

 I also give thanks for all those lay men and women who do their best to live their daily lives as mission wherever they find themselves, at home or at work, so that Christ will be loved and served and that the Kingdom of God will grow. I think especially of all those who work in the fields of education, health care, business, politics and finance, and in the many other areas of the lay apostolate. Christ needs your commitment and your witness. Let nothing – whether difficulties or lack of understanding – discourage you from bringing the Gospel of Christ wherever you find yourselves. Each of you is a precious piece in the great mosaic of evangelization!

 8. “Here I am, Lord!”

 Finally, dear young people, I would ask all of you to hear, in the depths of your heart, Jesus’ call to proclaim his Gospel. As the great statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro shows, his heart is open with love for each and every person, and his arms are open wide to reach out to everyone. Be yourselves the heart and arms of Jesus! Go forth and bear witness to his love! Be a new generation of missionaries, impelled by love and openness to all! Follow the example of the Church’s great missionaries like Saint Francis Xavier and so many others.

 At the conclusion of World Youth Day in Madrid, I blessed a number of young people from the different continents who were going forth on mission. They represented all those young people who, echoing the words of the prophet Isaiah, have said to the Lord: “Here I am. Send me!” (Is6:8). The Church has confidence in you and she thanks you for the joy and energy that you contribute. Generously put your talents to use in the service of the proclamation of the Gospel! We know that the Holy Spirit is granted to those who open their hearts to this proclamation. And do not be afraid: Jesus, the Saviour of the world, is with us every day until the end of time (cf.Mt 28:20).

 This call, which I make to the youth of the whole world, has a particular resonance for you, dear young people of Latin America! During the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Bishops, in Aparecida in 2007, the Bishops launched a “continental mission”. Young people form a majority of the population in South America and they are an important and precious resource for the Church and society. Be in the first line of missionaries! Now that World Youth Day is coming back to Latin America, I ask you, the young people on the continent, to transmit the enthusiasm of your faith to your contemporaries from all over the world!

 May Our Lady, Star of the New Evangelization, whom we also invoke under the titles of Our Lady of Aparecida and Our Lady of Guadalupe, accompany each of you in your mission as a witness to God’s love. To all of you, with particular affection, I impart my Apostolic Blessing.

 From the Vatican, 18 October 2012

 

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Papal Address on Christians in Public Square

"Civil and political activity must be given new incentives to seek solid ethical foundations"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 24, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday when he received in audience participants in a meeting promoted by Christian Democrat International.

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 Mr President,

 Honourable Members of Parliament,

 Ladies and Gentlemen,

 I am delighted to be able to receive you during the course of the work of the Executive Committee of the Christian/Centrist Democrat International. I would like, first of all, to address my cordial greetings to the numerous delegations from many countries around the world and, in particular, to your President, the Honourable Pier Ferdinando Casini, whom I thank for the courteous words he addressed to me in your name. Five years have passed since our last meeting, during which time the involvement of Christians in society has not ceased to enliven and improve human relations and living conditions. This commitment must not lessen or decrease; rather, it must be proffered with renewed vitality, in view of the persistence and, in some cases, the worsening of the problems we are facing.

 The current economic situation is becoming increasingly serious, and its complexity and gravity rightly arouse concern. Yet, in the face of this situation, Christians are called to act and express themselves with a prophetic spirit - that is, a spirit capable of seeing in these transformations the unceasing and mysterious presence of God in history - and thus to shoulder their newly emerging responsibilities with realism, confidence and hope. «The current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment ... [it] thus becomes an opportunity for discernment, in which to shape a new vision for the future»(Enc. Caritas in veritate, 21).

 In this way, with confidence not resignation, civil and political activity must be given new incentives to seek solid ethical foundations, the lack of which in the economic field has helped to create the current global financial crisis (Address at Westminster Hall, London, 17 September 2010). Your political and institutional commitment must not, then, be limited to responding to the requirements of market logic. Rather, its central and indispensable goal must remain the search for the common good, correctly understood, and the promotion and protection of the inalienable dignity of the human person. The teaching of Vatican Council II that «the order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around» (Gaudium et spes, 26) is today more timely than ever. This order of persons «is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love» (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1912), and it cannot be discerned without constant attention to the Word of God and the Magisterium of the Church, especially by people such as you, who draw the inspiration for their activities from Christian principles and values.

 Unfortunately the cursory, superficial and short-term responses to the most fundamental and profound human needs are numerous and strident. This makes the words of the Apostle sadly appropriate for our own time, when he warned Timothy of the day in which «people will not put up with sound doctrine, but having itching ears, they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own desires, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander away to myths» (2 Tim 4:3).

 The areas in which this decisive discernment is to be exercised are those touching the most vital and delicate interests of the person, the place where the fundamental choices regarding the meaning of life and the search for happiness are made. These areas are not separate from one another but profoundly interconnected; they possess a manifest continuum which is constituted by respect for the transcendent dignity of human beings (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1929), rooted in the fact that they were made in the image of the Creator and are the ultimate goal of any authentically human social justice. The commitment to respecting life in all its phases from conception to natural death - and the consequent rejection of procured abortion, euthanasia and any form of eugenics - is, in fact, interwoven with respecting marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman and, in its turn, as the foundation for the community of family life. It is in the family, «founded on marriage and open to life» (Address to the Authorities, Milan, 2 June 2012), that human beings experience sharing, respect and gratuitous love, at the same time receiving - be they children, the sick or the elderly - the solidarity they need. The family, moreover, constitutes the principal and most significant place for the education of the person, thanks to the parents who place themselves at the service of their children in order to draw out («e-ducere») the best that is in them. Thus the family, the basic cell of society, is the root which nourishes not only the individual human being, but the very foundations of social coexistence. Blessed John Paul II was right, then, to include among human rights, «the right to live in a united family and in a moral environment conducive to the growth of the child's personality» (Enc. Centesimus annus, 47).

 The authentic progress of human society cannot forgo policies aimed at protecting and promoting marriage, and the community that derives therefrom. Adopting such policies is the duty not only of States but of the International Community as a whole, in order to reverse the tendency towards the growing isolation of the person, which is a source of suffering and atrophy for both individuals and for society.

 Honourable ladies and gentlemen, if it is true that the defence and promotion of human dignity «have been entrusted to us by the Creator" as a duty that pertains strictly and responsibly to "men and women at every moment of history" (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1929), it is equally true that this responsibility particularly concerns those called to political office. They, especially if animated by Christian faith, must be «strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping» (Gaudium et Spes, 31). In this sense, the warning contained in the Book of Wisdom to the effect that «severe judgement falls on those in high places» (Wis 6:5) is highly beneficial, a warning given not to frighten but to spur and encourage those in government, at all levels, to achieve all the good of which they are capable, in keeping with the mission the Lord entrusts to each one.

 In the hope, then, that each of you will continue to fulfil your personal and public commitments with enthusiasm and determination, I assure you all of a remembrance in my prayers, and I invoke God’s blessings upon you and your families. Thank you for your attention.

 

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On Being 'in Synch' With God

"God's logic is always 'other' with respect to ours"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

On our journey with St. Mark’s Gospel last Sunday we entered into the second part, that is the last trip to Jerusalem and toward the culmination of Jesus’ mission. After Peter, in the name of the disciples, professed faith in him, recognizing him as the Messiah (cf. Mark 8:29), Jesus began to speak openly of what would happen at the end. The evangelist reports three successive predictions of the death and resurrection in Chapters 8, 9 and 10: in them Jesus announces in an ever more clear manner the destiny that awaits him and its intrinsic necessity. This Sunday’s passage contains the second of these announcements. Jesus says: “The Son of man” – the expression by which he designates himself – “will be handed over to men and they will kill him; but, 3 days after his death he will rise again” (Mark 9:31). The disciples “however, did not understand these words and were afraid to question him” (9:32).

In fact, reading these words of Mark’s account, it appears evident that there was a grat interior distance between Jesus and his disciples; they were on, so to speak, two different wavelengths, such that the Master’s discourses were not understood, or only superficially. The Apostle Peter, immediately after having manifested his faith in Jesus, reproaches him because Jesus predicted that he would be rejected and killed. After the second announcement of the Passion, the disciples disputed among themselves who was the greatest (cf. Mark 9:34); and, after the third announcement, James and John ask to sit at his right and at his left, when he will be in glory (cf. Mark 10:35-40). But there are various other signs of this distance: for example, the disciples are unable to heal a boy with epilepsy, whom Jesus then heals with the power of prayer (cf. Mark 9:14-29); or when some children are brought to Jesus, and the disciples rebuke them, and Jesus instead, indignant, makes them stay, and states that only those who are as they may enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Mark 10:13-16).

What does all of this tell us? It reminds us that God’s logic is always “other” with respect to ours, as God himself revealed through the mouth of the prophet Isaiah: “My thoughts are not your thoughts, / your ways are not my ways” (Isaiah 55:8). This is why following the Lord always demands of man – of all of us – a profound conversion, a change in our way of thinking and living, it demands that we open our hearts to listen, to let ourselves be interiorly enlightened and transformed. A key point on which God and man differ is pride: in God there is no pride, because he is the complete fullness of love and is entirely disposed to love and give his life; in us men, however, pride is deeply rooted and requires constant vigilance and purification. We, who are little, aspire to appear big, to be the first, while God, who is truly great, is not afraid to abase himself and become last. And the Virgin Mary is perfectly in “synch” with God: let us invoke her with confidence so that she might teach us how to faithfully follow Jesus on the path of love and humility.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, in the French city of Troyes, the priest Louis Brisson, who lived in the nineteenth century, was beatified. He was the founder of the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales. I join with joy in the thanksgiving of the diocesan community of Troyes and all of the spiritual sons and daughters of the newly beatified.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at today’s Angelus prayer. In the Gospel today, our Lord reveals to his disciples that he will be delivered unto death and rise again for our salvation. As we reflect on the call to be “last of all and servants of al,” may Christ’s supreme act of love on Calvary always be our true measure of greatness. God bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you! A good Sunday to all of you.

 

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Papal Address to Recently Ordained Prelates

"Evangelization is not the work of some specialists, but of the whole People of God"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday to a group of recently ordained prelates participating in a course organized by the Congregations for Bishops and for Eastern Churches.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

The pilgrimage to the Tomb of Saint Peter, which you made in these days of reflection on the episcopal ministry, assumes particular importance this year. We are in fact on the eve of the Year of Faith, of the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the 13th General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the topic: "New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith." These events, to which must be added the 20th anniversary of the [publication of the] Catechism of the Catholic Church, are occasions to reinforce the faith, of which, dear Brothers, you are teachers and heralds (cf. Lumen Gentium, 25). I greet each one of you, and express my heartfelt gratitude to Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, also for the words he addressed to me, and to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches.

Your being together in Rome, at the beginning of your episcopal service, is a propitious moment to experience concretely communication and communion among yourselves and in the meeting with the Successor of Peter, nourishing the sense of responsibility for the whole Church. In fact, as members of the Episcopal College you must always have a special concern for the universal Church, in the first place promoting and defending the unity of the faith. Jesus Christ willed to entrust the mission of the proclamation of the Gospel first of all to the body of Pastors, who must collaborate among themselves and with the Successor of Peter (cf. Ibid., 23), so that it reaches all people. This is particularly urgent in our time, which calls us to be daring in inviting people of every condition to the encounter with Jesus and to render the faith more solid (cf. Christus Dominus, 12).

May your priority concern be to promote and support "a more convinced ecclesial commitment in favor of the New Evangelization to rediscover the joy of believing and enthusiasm in communicating the faith" (Apostolic Letter Porta fidei, 7). In this you are also called to favor and nourish communion and collaboration among all the elements of your dioceses. In fact, evangelization is not the work of some specialists, but of the whole People of God, under the guidance of Pastors. Every member of the faithful, in and with the ecclesial community, must feel responsible for the proclamation and witness of the Gospel. Blessed John XXIII, opening the great encounter of Vatican II, looked forward to "a leap toward a doctrinal penetration and formation of consciences," and because of this -- he added -- "it is necessary that this certain and immutable doctrine, which must be faithfully respected, be deepened and presented so that it responds to the needs of our time" (Opening Address of II Vatican Ecumenical Council, October 11, 1962).

We could say that the New Evangelization began in fact with the Council, that Blessed John XXIII saw it as a new Pentecost that would make the Church blossom in her inner richness and extend herself maternally to all the fields of human activity (cf. Address at the Closing of the First Period of the Council, December 8, 1962). The effects of that new Pentecost, despite the difficulties of the times, were extended, reaching the life of the Church in every one of her expressions: from the institutional to the spiritual, from participation of the lay faithful in the Church to charismatic flowering and holiness. In this regard, we cannot fail to think of John XXIII himself and of Blessed John Paul II, of so many figures of bishops, priests, consecrated persons and laymen, who rendered the face of the Church beautiful in our time.

This inheritance has also been entrusted to your pastoral care. Draw from this patrimony of doctrine, of spirituality, and of holiness to form your faithful in the faith, so that their witness is more credible. At the same time, your episcopal service requires that your give a "reason for the hope that is in you" (1 Peter 3:15), to all those who are seeking faith and the ultimate meaning of life, in whom also "grace works invisibly. Christ, in fact, died for all and man's ultimate vocation is, effectively, one, the divine" (Gaudium et spes, 22). Hence I encourage you to commit yourselves so that all, according to the different ages and conditions of life, are presented the essential contents of the faith, systematically and organically, to respond, also, to the questions posed by our technological and globalized world. Always timely are the words of the Servant of God Paul VI, who said: "We must evangelize -- not in a decorative manner, like superficial varnish, but in a vital way, in profundity and to the roots of culture and the cultures of man, always beginning from the person and turning always to the relations of persons among themselves and with God" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 20). Fundamental to this end is the Catechism of the Catholic Church, sure norm for the teaching of the faith and communion in the one Creed. The reality in which we live  demands that a Christian have a solid formation!

Faith calls for credible witnesses, who trust in the Lord and entrust themselves to Him to be "living sign of the presence of the Risen One in the world" (Apostolic Letter Porta fidei, 15). The bishop, first witness of the faith, accompanies the journey of believers offering the example of a life lived in confident abandonment to God. Hence, in order to be an authoritative teacher and herald of the faith, he must live in the Lord's presence, as a man of God. In fact, one cannot be at the service of men without first being at the service of God. May your personal commitment to holiness be seen every day in assimilation of the Word of God in prayer and nourished by the Eucharist, to draw from this twofold table the vital lymph for the ministry. May charity drive you to be close to your priests, with that paternal love that is able to support, encourage and forgive; they are your first and precious collaborators in taking God to men and men to God. Likewise, the charity of the Good Shepherd will make you attentive to the poor and the suffering, to sustain and console them, as well as to orient those who have lost the meaning of life. Be particularly close to families, to parents, helping them to be the first educators of the faith of their children; to youngsters and youth, so that they are able to build their life on the solid rock of friendship with Christ. Have special care for seminarians, being concerned that they be formed humanly, spiritually, theologically and pastorally, so that the communities can have mature and joyful pastors and sure guides in the faith.

Dear Brothers, the Apostle Paul wrote to Timothy: "aim at righteousness, faith, love, and peace . The Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with gentleness" (2 Timothy 2:22-25). Recalling these words to myself and to you, I impart to each of you my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing, so that the Churches entrusted to you, driven by the wind of the Holy Spirit, will grow in the faith and proclaim it on the paths of history with new ardor.

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On the Sacred Liturgy as a School of Prayer

"Lord, teach us to pray"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father began a new series of catecheses on prayer today, moving from prayer in sacred Scripture to prayer in the sacred Liturgy.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

In recent months, we have made a journey in the light of God’s Word in order to learn to pray more authentically, by looking at several great figures of the Old Testament, at the Psalms, at the Letters of St. Paul and at Revelation, but above all by looking to the unique and fundamental experience of Jesus, in his relationship with the heavenly Father. In reality, only in Christ is man enabled to unite himself to God with the depth and intimacy of a child toward a father who loves him; only in him may we turn in all truth to God, affectionately calling him “Abba! Father!” Like the Apostles, we too repeated over these weeks, and today again we say to Jesus: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)

Furthermore, in order to learn to live more intensely in a personal relationship with God, we learned to call upon the Holy Spirit, the Risen One’s first gift to those who believe, since it is he who “helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought” (Romans 8:26), St. Paul says, and we know how right he is.

At this point, after a long series of catecheses on prayer in the Scripture, we may ask ourselves: how can I allow myself to be formed by the Holy Spirit and thus become capable of entering into God’s ambiance, to pray with God? What is this school, in which he teaches me to pray, helps me in my struggle to turn to God in the right way? The first school of prayer -- where we spent these weeks -- is the Word of God, Sacred Scripture. The Sacred Scripture is a lasting dialogue between God and man, an ongoing dialogue in which God displays his increasing closeness, in which we may better know his face, his voice, his being; and man learns to accept God, to know God, to speak with God. Therefore, over these weeks, by reading Sacred Scripture, we have sought from the Scripture, from this lasting dialogue, to learn how we may enter into contact with God.

There is yet another precious “space”, another precious “source” for growing in prayer, a fount of living water in close relationship with the former. I am referring to the liturgy, which is a privileged place where God speaks to each one of us, here and now, and awaits our response.

What is the liturgy? If we open the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a precious and, I would say, indispensable aid, we read that the word “liturgy” originally meant “a service in the name of/ on behalf of the people” (n. 1069). If Christian theology took this word from the Greek world, it clearly did so thinking of the new People of God that was brought into being by Christ, who opened his arms on the Cross in order to unite men in the peace of the One God. “Service on behalf of the people” -- a people that does not exist by itself, but that was formed by the Paschal Mystery of Jesus Christ. In fact, the People of God is not bound by blood, territory, or nation; rather, it continually comes into being through the work of the Son of God and from the communion with the Father, which He obtains for us.

The Catechism also indicates that “in Christian tradition [the word ‘liturgy’] means the participation of the People of God in the ‘work of God’” (n. 1069).

The very development of the Second Vatican Council reminds us of this. It began its work fifty years ago with the discussion on the schema on the sacred liturgy, which was then solemnly approved on December 4, 1963, the first text to be approved by the Council. That the document on the liturgy was the first result of the Conciliar assembly was considered perhaps by some to be a matter of chance. Amid so many projects, the text on the sacred liturgy seemed to be the least controversial and, precisely on this account, was able to serve as a kind of exercise for learning the methodology of the Council’s work. But without a shadow of a doubt, what at first glance may seem to have been a chance event proved to be the right choice, also from the hierarchy of subjects and the Church’s most important tasks. By beginning, in fact, with the subject of the “liturgy” the Council highlighted with great clarity the primacy of God, his absolute precedence. Before all else, there is God: this is what the Council’s choice to begin with the liturgy tells us. Where the gaze upon God is not decisive, everything else loses its orientation. The fundamental criterion for the liturgy is its orientation toward God, to be able thus to participate in his work.

But we might ask ourselves: what is this work of God in which we are called to participate? The answer that the Council’s Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy offers us is seemingly twofold. In No. 5 it tells us, in fact, that the work of God consists in His actions in history, which bring us salvation, and which culminated in the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ; however, in No. 7 the same Constitution defines the celebration of the liturgy as the “work of Christ”.

In reality, these two meanings are inseparably linked. If we ask ourselves who saves the world and man, the only answer is: Jesus of Nazareth, Lord and Christ, crucified and risen. And where is the Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ made present for us, for me today? The answer is: in Christ’s action in and through the Church, in the liturgy, especially in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, which makes present the sacrificial offering of the Son of God, who redeemed us; in the Sacrament of Penance, in which we pass from the death of sin to new life; and in the other sacramental acts whereby we are sanctified (cf. Presbyterorum ordinis, 5). Thus, the Paschal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ is the center of the liturgical theology of the Council.

Let us go a step further and ask ourselves: how is this making present of Christ’s Paschal Mystery made possible? Blessed John Paul II, on the 25th anniversary of the promulgation of the Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, wrote: “In order to reenact his Paschal Mystery, Christ is ever present in his Church, especially in liturgical celebrations. Hence the Liturgy is the privileged place for the encounter of Christians with God and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ (cf John 17:3)” (Vicesimus Quintus Annus, n. 7). Along these same lines, we read in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “A sacramental celebration is a meeting of God’s children with their Father, in Christ and the Holy Spirit; this meeting takes the form of a dialogue, through actions and words” (n. 1153).

Therefore, the first requirement for a proper liturgical celebration is that it be prayer, conversation with God, first listening and then response. St. Benedict, in his “Rule”, speaking about the prayer of the Psalms, points out to the monks: mens corcordet voci, “that the mind may be in harmony with the voice”. The Saint teaches that in praying the Psalms the words must come before our minds. Usually it does not happen in this way; first we have to think, and then we convert what we have thought into words. Here instead, in the liturgy, it is just the opposite -- the word comes first. God has given us the word, and the sacred liturgy offers us the words; we must enter into the words, into their meaning, receive them into ourselves, become attuned to these words; thus do we become God’s children, like unto God. As Sacrosanctum Concilium reminds us, in order that the liturgy may be able to produce its full effects “it is necessary that the faithful come to it with proper dispositions, that their minds should be attuned to their voices, and that they should cooperate with divine grace lest they receive it in vain” (n. 11).

A fundamental, essential element of dialogue with God in the liturgy is the harmony between what we say with our lips and what we carry in our hearts. By entering into the words of the great history of prayer we ourselves are conformed to the spirit of these words and become capable of speaking with God.

Along these lines, I would like only to touch upon one of the moments during the liturgy that summons us and helps us to find this harmony, this conforming of ourselves to what we hear, say and do in the celebration of the liturgy. I am referring to the invitation that the Celebrant formulates before the Eucharistic Prayer: “Sursum corda”, let us lift up our hearts beyond the entanglement of our concerns, our desires, our anxieties and our distractions. Our heart, the most intimate place within us, should open docilely to the Word of God and be recollected in the prayer of the Church, and thereby receive its orientation toward God from the very words that we hear and say. The gaze of the heart must be directed to the Lord, who abides among us: it is a fundamental disposition.

When we live the liturgy with this basic attitude, our hearts are, as it were, withdrawn from the force of gravity that draws them downward, and they are raised interiorly upward, toward truth, toward love, toward God. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us: “In the sacramental liturgy of the Church, the mission of Christ and of the Holy Spirit proclaims, makes present, and communicates the mystery of salvation, which is continued in the heart that prays” (n. 2655): altare Dei est cor nostrum.

Dear friends, we celebrate and live the liturgy well only if we remain in an attitude of prayer, not if we want to “do something”, to make ourselves seen or to act, but if we direct our hearts to God and if we remain in an attitude of prayer by uniting ourselves to the Mystery of Christ and to his conversation, as Son, with the Father. God himself teaches us to pray, St. Paul affirms (cf. Romans 8:26). He himself has given us the appropriate words for addressing ourselves to Him, words we encounter in the Psalter, in the great prayer of the sacred liturgy and in the Eucharistic celebration itself. Let us ask the Lord to be more and more aware each day of the fact that the Liturgy is the action of God and of man; prayer that springs forth from the Holy Spirit and from ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the Son of God made man (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2564). Thank you.

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Having focused for several weeks now on prayer as taught to us in the sacred Scriptures, we turn to another precious source of prayer, namely the liturgy. The word “liturgy” in Greek means “work done by the people and for the people”. Here, this “people” is the new People of God, brought into being by Christ, a people which does not exist by itself and which is not bound by blood, territory or country, but is brought into being through the Paschal Mystery. The liturgy is also the “work of God”. As the Second Vatican Council teaches, it is by means of the liturgy that Christ our Redeemer and High Priest continues the work of our redemption in, with, and through his Church. This is the great marvel of the liturgy: God acts, while we are caught up in his action.

The Council began its work by discussing the liturgy, and righty so, for the liturgy reminds us of the primacy of God. The fundamental criterion for it is its orientation towards the Father, whose saving love culminates in the death and resurrection of his Son. It is in the liturgy that we “lift up our hearts”, opening ourselves to the word of God as we gather with our brethren in a prayer which rises within us, and which is directed to the Father, through the Son, in the Spirit.

* * *

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Papal Address to Participants of the 32nd World Congress of Sports Medicine

"I Urge You to Continue to Keep Before You the Dignity of Those Whom You Assist"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, SEPT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Pope Benedict XVI's address to participants of the 32nd World Congress of Sports Medicine, whom he received in Audience in the Swiss Hall of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Distinguished Guests,

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome to Castel Gandolfo the representatives of the thirty-second World Congress of Sports Medicine as, for the first time in your history, you hold your biennial Congress in Rome. I would also like to thank Doctor Maurizio Casasco for his kind words on your behalf.

On this occasion, it seemed appropriate to offer you a few thoughts on the care of athletes and of participants in sports. I understand that you who have come for the Congress hail from one hundred and seventeen countries and five continents, your diversity being an important sign of the ubiquity of athletics across cultures, regions and circumstances. It is also a significant indication of the capacity for sports and athletic endeavors to unite persons and peoples in the common pursuit of peaceful competitive excellence. The recent Olympics and Paralympics in London made this clear. The universal appeal and importance of athletics and the field of sports medicine are also justly reflected in the theme of your Congress this year, which speaks of the worldwide implications of your work, and its potential to inspire many different people all around the globe.

As Doctor Casasco rightly pointed out in his speech, you as medical experts recognize that the starting point of all your work is the individual athlete whom you serve. Just as sport is more than just competition, each sportsman and woman is more than a mere competitor: they are possessed of a moral and spiritual capacity which ought to be enriched and deepened by sports and sports medicine. Sometimes, however, success, fame, medals and the pursuit of money become the primary, or even sole, motive for those involved. It has even happened from time to time that winning at all costs has replaced the true spirit of sport and has led to the abuse and misuse of the means at the disposal of modern medicine.

You, as practitioners of sports medicine, are aware of this temptation and I know that you are discussing this important question during your Congress. This is surely because you too appreciate that those whom you care for are unique and gifted individuals, regardless of athletic capabilities, and that they are called to moral and spiritual perfection prior to the call to any physical achievement. Indeed, Saint Paul notes in his first letter to the Corinthians, that spiritual and athletic excellence are closely related, and he exhorts believers to train themselves in the spiritual life. "Every athlete", he says, "exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable" (9:25). This is why, dear friends, I urge you to continue to keep before you the dignity of those whom you assist by your professional medical work. In this way, you will be agents not only of physical healing and athletic excellence, but also of moral, spiritual and cultural regeneration.

As the Lord himself took human flesh and became man, so each human person is called to reflect perfectly the image and likeness of God. I therefore pray for you and for those whom your work benefits, that your efforts will lead to an ever more profound appreciation of the beauty, the mystery and the potential of each human person, athletic or otherwise, able-bodied or physically challenged. May your professionalism, good counsel and friendship benefit all those whom you are called to serve. With these thoughts, I invoke upon you and those whom you serve God’s abundant blessings! Thank you!

 

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Pope's Address after Performance of "Augustinus" in Castel Gandolfo

"This Mosaic Represents the Greatness and Complexity of Augustine the Man and the Theologian"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, SEPT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address given by Pope Benedict yesterday after a performance of Augustinus, A Mosaic of Sounds, in the inner courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo. The opera concert was offered by the diocese of Wurzburg in honor of the Holy Father. The author of the libretto was Professor Winfried Bohm of Wurzburg and was composed by Wilfried Hiller of Monaco.

* * *

Lord Cardinals,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Dear Monsignor Hofmann, Dear Monsignor Scheele,

Distinguished Musicians,

Dear Guests from Wurzburg and Franconia!

Ladies and Gentlemen!

The performance of a work on Saint Augustine here at Castel Gandolfo is certainly a unique event. My heartfelt thanks to all those who made this event possible this evening. My particular gratitude goes to you, dear monsignor Hofmann, to the Augustinus Institute and to the diocese of Wurzburg, for the gift you gave me of this concert in the ambit of the International Symposium on Augustine being held at the Augustinianumof Rome. I thank especially the artists – the Maestro di Cappella professor Martin Berger, the soloists, the Chamber Choir of the Cathedral of Wurzburg and all the musicians – for their masterful performance. To all of you from my heart a “Vergelt’s Gott” [May God reward you].

The title of this work on Augustine describes it as a “mosaic of sounds.” Painted impressively in seven musical images, composed in turn by different voices, songs and melodies, was a portrait of Saint Augustine in sounds. It is a mosaic. Some stones shine, according to how the light falls and the point of observation, but only in the whole does the images appear. This mosaic represents the greatness and complexity of Augustine the man and the theologian, which is saved from a classification and a systematization tending to evidence too much only single aspects. Thus this composition tells us that, if we really want to know Augustine, we must never lose sight, while we are occupied with the particular, of the whole of his thought, of his work and of his person.

The timeliness of this great Latin Father of the Church is uninterrupted. This also was demonstrated to us, once again, by the work on Augustine [that we heard]. The seven images made us know the Bishop of Hippo in contemporary musical language. It should be highlighted that they did so without making the main personage himself appear. However, precisely because of his “absence,” Augustine makes himself present and is “timeless.” Man’s struggle and his search for what is most intimate to him, the search for truth, the search for God remains at all times; it does not concern only a rector or teacher of grammar in the lacerations and upheavals of late antiquity, but every man in every time. And thus, at the end of the work, we find the famous introductory words of the Confessions which resounded being muffled in different languages: “Magnus es, Domine, et laudibilsvalde: magna virtus tua et sapientiae tuae non est numerus. … Quaerents enim inveniunt eum et invenientes laudabunt eum.” – “You are great, Lord, and very worthy of praise; great is your virtue and unfathomable your wisdom. … Those will bless the Lord who seek Him, because seeking Him they find Him, and finding Him, they praise Him” (I, 1, 1).

My gratitude goes once again to the promoters of this evening dedicated to the figure of Saint Augustine, to the musicians and to all those who contributed to the realization of this concert. Thank you for your generous offer and precious gift. I also greet all the participants in the International Symposium on Saint Augustine, which is being held these days at the headquarters of the AugustinianumPatristic Institute in Rome. May your congress on the relation between the cultures in De civitate Dei contribute fruitfully to further reflection on the thought of the holy Bishop of Hippo and to recognition of his timeliness for the questions and challenges that present themselves to us today. To all I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

 

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Papal Farewell to Castel Gandolfo Staff

"The best way to remember each other is by prayer"

CASTEL GANDOFLO, Italy, OCT. 1, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the brief address Benedict XVI gave Saturday upon taking leave of the staff and community at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am glad to welcome you at the end of my summer stay at Castel Gandolfo. It allowed me a period of study, prayer and relaxation, during which I noted with admiration the solicitude and the consideration of all the persons enlisted to provide help and hospitality to me and my collaborators, guests and pilgrims who come here to meet the Successor of Peter. I express my deep gratitude to each and every one for the dedication lavished [upon me] these past months. During the summer period Castel Gandolfo truly becomes a “second see” of the Bishop of Rome, which competes with the “first see” in its capacity to welcome visitors and pilgrims who have come to pray the Sunday Angelus or for the Wednesday General Audiences.

I greet with affection and gratitude first of all the Bishop of Albano, Monsignor Marcello Semeraro. I greet the parish priest of Castel Gandolfo and his collaborators, together with the religious and lay communities present here. I invite all of you to let me know of your spiritual closeness even after my departure as you did while I was here. I am grateful to you for this and I encourage you to pursue with confidence and joy your service to Christ and to his Gospel. I offer a cordial greeting to the civil authorities of Castel Gandolfo in the person of the mayor. As I thank you for the availability and solicitude that you have shown, I assure you that I will remember you in my prayer for your whole community, especially for the families in difficulty and the sick.

I also gladly offer my greeting to the officials of the services of the governorate: the gendarmes, the “Floreria,” the technical and health services; and the other groups that cooperated in particular ways in the careful oversight of all the events: the Pontifical Swiss Guard, the officials and agents of the Italian police forces and the officers and pilots of the 31st Air Force Wing. May the Lord grant you a recompense of abundant heavenly gifts, and protect you and your families.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for your presence today at this gathering. The best way to remember each other is by prayer: I will not forget to pray for you and for your intentions, and I trust you will do likewise. To the Virgin Mary, whom we venerate in the month of October as Queen of the Holy Rosary, I entrust each of you, your families and friends. May she always accompany us with her loving gaze and guide our steps along the road of justice and truth. With these sentiments I bestow from my heart to each of you present here and to all your loved ones the apostolic blessing.

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On the Ecclesial Nature of Liturgical Prayer

The Liturgy is the Act Whereby We Enter Into Contact with God

VATICAN, OCTOBER 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father continued his new series of catecheses on prayer in the Sacred Liturgy by reflecting upon the ecclesial nature of liturgical prayer.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

In the last catechesis I began to speak about one of the privileged sources of Christian prayer: the sacred liturgy, which – as the Catechism of the Catholic Church states – is “a participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit. In the liturgy, all Christian prayer finds its source and goal” (n. 1073). Today I would like for us to ask ourselves: in my life, do I reserve sufficient space for prayer and, above all, what place does liturgical prayer have in my relationship with God, especially the Holy Mass, as the participation in the common prayer of the Body of Christ, which is the Church?

In responding to this question, first we must remember that prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit (cf. ibid. n. 2565). Therefore, the life of prayer consists in abiding habitually in the presence of God and being aware of this, in living in relationship with God as we live the normal relationships of our lives, with the dearest members of our family and with our truest friends; indeed, it is our relationship with the Lord that enlightens all our other relationships. This communion of life with God, One and Triune, is possible because by our Baptism we have been inserted into Christ. We have begun to be one with him (cf. Romans 6:5).

In fact, it is only in Christ that we may converse with God the Father as children; otherwise it is not possible, but in communion with the Son we too may say, as he did: “Abbà”. In communion with Christ we can come to know God as a true Father (Matthew 11:27). Therefore, Christian prayer consists in looking constantly and ever anew to Christ, in speaking with him, being silent with him, listening to him, acting and suffering with him. The Christian discovers his truest identity in Christ, “the first born of all creation” in whom all things subsist (cf. Colossians 1: 15ff). In identifying myself with him, in being one with him, I discover my personal identity as a true child who looks to God as to a Father full of love.

But let us not forget: We discover Christ, and we come to know him as a living Person in the Church. She is “his Body”. This corporality can be understood in light of the biblical words about man and woman: the two will be one flesh (cf. Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 5:30ff; 1 Corinthians 6:16 ff). The unbreakable bond between Christ and the Church, through the unifying force of love, does not destroy the “you” and the “I” but rather raises them to their most profound unity. To find one’s identity in Christ means attaining a communion with him that does not destroy me but rather elevates me to the highest dignity, that of being a child of God in Christ: “The love-story between God and man consists in the very fact that this communion of will increases in a communion of thought and sentiment, and thus our will and God's will increasingly coincide” (Encyclical Deus caritas est, 17). To pray means to be raised to the heights of God, through a necessary and gradual transformation of our being.

Thus, in participating in the liturgy, we make our own the language of our Mother the Church; we learn to speak in her and through her. Naturally, as I already said, this happens gradually, little by little. I must gradually immerse myself in the words of the Church, with my prayer, with my life, with my sufferings, with my joys, with my thoughts. It is a journey that transforms us.

I think, then, that these reflections allow us to respond to the question we asked ourselves at the beginning: how do I learn to pray, how do I grow in my prayer? Looking to the model that Jesus taught us, the Pater noster [the Our Father], we see that the first word is “Pater” [Father] and the second is “noster” [our]. The answer, then, is clear: I learn to pray, I nourish my prayer, by turning to God as Father and by praying with others, by praying with the Church, by accepting the gift of her words, which little by little become familiar to me and rich in meaning. The dialogue that God establishes with each one of us and we with him in prayer always includes a “with”; we cannot pray to God in an individualistic manner. In liturgical prayer, especially the celebration of the Eucharist, and – formed by the liturgy – in every prayer, we do not pray alone as individual persons; rather, we enter into the “we” of the praying Church. And we must transform our “I” by entering into this “we”.

I would like to recall another important aspect. In the Catechism of the Catholic Church we read: “In the liturgy of the New Covenant every liturgical action, especially the celebration of the Eucharist and the sacraments, is an encounter between Christ and the Church” (n. 1097); therefore, it is the “whole Christ”, the whole Community, the Body of Christ united with her Head who celebrates. The liturgy then is not a kind of “self-manifestation” of a community; instead, it is a going out of simply “being ourselves” -- of being closed in on ourselves -- and the portal to the great banquet, the entrance into the great living community, in which God himself nourishes us. The liturgy involves universality, and this universal character must enter ever anew into everyone’s awareness. The Christian liturgy is the worship of the universal temple, which is the Risen Christ. His arms are extended on the Cross in order to draw all men into the embrace of God’s eternal love. It is the worship of heaven opened wide. It is never merely the event of a single community, with its own position in time and space. It is important that every Christian feel and really be inserted into this universal “we”, which provides the foundation and refuge for the “I” in the Body of the Christ, which is the Church.

In this, we must always be mindful of and accept the logic of the Incarnation of God: He has drawn close, become present, by entering into history and into human nature, by becoming one of us. And this presence continues in the Church, his Body. The liturgy then is not the memory of past events, but rather the living presence of Christ’s Paschal Mystery, which transcends and unites both time and space. If the centrality of Christ does not emerge at the forefront in the celebration, we will not have Christian liturgy, which is totally dependent upon the Lord and sustained by his creative presence. God acts by means of Christ and we cannot act except through him and in him. Every day, the conviction must grow in us that the liturgy is not ours, my own “doing”; rather, it is God’s action in us and with us.

Therefore, it is neither the individual – priest or faithful – nor the group who celebrates the liturgy; rather, it is primarily God’s action through the Church, who has her own history, her own rich tradition and her own creativity. This universality and fundamental openness, which is proper to the liturgy as a whole, is one of the reasons why it cannot be designed or modified by individual communities or by experts, but must be faithful to the forms of the universal Church.

Even in the liturgy of the smallest communities, the entire Church is always present. For this reason, there are no “strangers” in the liturgical community. In every liturgical celebration the whole Church participates together, heaven and earth, God and men. The Christian liturgy, although it is celebrated in a concrete place and space and expresses the “yes” of a particular community, is by its very nature catholic; it comes from the whole and leads to the whole, in unity with the Pope, with the Bishops, with believers of all times and ages and from all places. The more a celebration is animated by this awareness, the more fruitfully will the authentic meaning of the liturgy there be realized.

Dear friends, the Church is made visible in many ways: in charitable works, in missionary endeavors, in the personal apostolate that every Christian should carry out in his own environment. But the place where she is fully experienced as the Church is in the liturgy: it is the act, we believe, whereby God enters into our reality and we can encounter him, we can touch him. It is the act whereby we enter into contact with God: He comes to us, and we are enlightened by him. Therefore, when in our reflections we focus our attention only on how we may render it attractive, interesting, beautiful, we risk forgetting the essential: the liturgy is celebrated for God and not for us; it is his work; he is the subject; and we should open ourselves to him and allow ourselves to be guided by him and by his Body, which is the Church.

Let us ask the Lord to grant that we may learn each day to live the sacred liturgy, especially the Eucharistic Celebration, by praying in the “we” of the Church, who directs her gaze not to herself but to God, and by feeling that we are part of the living Church of all places and times. Thank you.

 

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today, I would like to highlight the ecclesial nature of liturgical prayer. The liturgy is a “participation in Christ’s own prayer addressed to the Father in the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1073). The Church, as Christ’s Mystical Body and united with him, offers worship to the Father. By identifying ourselves with Christ in his prayer to the Father, we rediscover our deepest identity as Christians, as children of “Our Father who art in heaven”. The liturgy is also an encounter of the whole Christ, that is, with Christ and his body the Church. Thus, the liturgy is a sharing in the prayer of the living, universal community of believers in Christ. Prayer becomes the habitual realization of the presence of God, as we make the words of the Church our own, and learn to speak in her and through her. The Church is most truly itself in the liturgy, as it is the place where God comes to us and enters our lives. Let us remember that the liturgy is celebrated for God, not for us; it is his work; he is its subject. For our part, in the liturgy we must leave ourselves open to be guided by him and by his Body, the Church.

* * *

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present, including the Saint Hallvard Boys' choir from Oslo. I also welcome students from the Pontifical North American College, who are to be ordained deacon tomorrow. Dear ordinands, always be faithful heralds of the Gospel and generous witnesses to the love of Christ! Upon you and your loved ones, and indeed upon all present, I invoke God’s abundant blessings. Thank you!

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Appeal

 Dear brothers and sisters, tomorrow I will visit the Sanctuary of Loreto on the 50th anniversary of the famous pilgrimage of Blessed Pope John XXIII to that Marian shrine, which occurred one week before the opening of the Second Vatican Council.

 I ask you to join me in prayer in recommending to the Mother of God the major ecclesial events that we are about to live: the Year of Faith and the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization. May the Holy Virgin accompany the Church in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel to the men and women of our day.

 

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Pope's Homily at Shrine of Loreto (Year of Faith)

"Faith Lets Us Reside, or Dwell, But It Also Lets Us Walk on the Path of Life"

LORETO, Italy, OCT. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's homily during Mass at the Shrine of Loreto.

 * * *

 Your Eminences,

Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 On 4 October 1962, Blessed John XXIII came as a pilgrim to this Shrine to entrust to the Virgin Mary the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, due to begin a week later. On that occasion, with deep filial devotion to the Mother of God, he addressed her in these words: "Again today, and in the name of the entire episcopate, I ask you, sweetest Mother, as Help of Bishops, to intercede for me as Bishop of Rome and for all the bishops of the world, to obtain for us the grace to enter the Council Hall of Saint Peter’s Basilica, as the Apostles and the first disciples of Jesus entered the Upper Room: with one heart, one heartbeat of love for Christ and for souls, with one purpose only, to live and to sacrifice ourselves for the salvation of individuals and peoples. Thus, by your maternal intercession, in the years and the centuries to come, may it be said that the grace of God prepared, accompanied and crowned the twenty-first Ecumenical Council, filling all the children of the holy Church with a new fervor, a new impulse to generosity, and a renewed firmness of purpose" (AAS 54 [1962], 727).

 Fifty years on, having been called by divine Providence to succeed that unforgettable Pope to the See of Peter, I too have come on pilgrimage to entrust to the Mother of God two important ecclesial initiatives: the Year of Faith, which will begin in a week, on 11 October, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, and the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which I have convened this October with the theme "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith". Dear friends, to all of you I offer my most cordial greetings. I thank the Most Reverend Giovanni Tonucci, Archbishop of Loreto, for his warm words of welcome. I greet the other bishops present, the priests, the Capuchin Fathers, to whom the pastoral care of this shrine is entrusted, and the religious sisters. I also salute Dr. Paolo Niccoletti, Mayor of Loreto, thanking him for his courteous words, and I greet the representatives of the government and the civil and military authorities here present. My thanks also go to those who have generously offered their assistance to make my pilgrimage possible.

 As I said in my Apostolic Letter announcing the Year of Faith, "I wish to invite my brother bishops from all over the world to join the Successor of Peter, during this time of spiritual grace that the Lord offers us, in recalling the precious gift of faith" (Porta Fidei, 8). It is precisely here at Loreto that we have the opportunity to attend the school of Mary who was called "blessed" because she "believed" (Lk 1:45). This Shrine, built around her earthly home, preserves the memory of the moment when the angel of Lord came to Mary with the great announcement of the Incarnation, and she gave her reply. This humble home is a physical, tangible witness to the greatest event in our history, the Incarnation; the Word became flesh and Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, is the privileged channel through which God came to dwell among us (cf. Jn 1:14). Mary offered her very body; she placed her entire being at the disposal of God’s will, becoming the "place" of his presence, a "place" of dwelling for the Son of God. We are reminded here of the words of the Psalm with which, according to the Letter to the Hebrews, Christ began his earthly life, saying to the Father, "Sacrifices and offering you have not desired, but you have prepared a body for me… Behold, I have come to do your will, O God" (10:5, 7). To the Angel who reveals God’s plan for her, Mary replies in similar words: "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38). The will of Mary coincides with the will of the Son in the Father’s unique project of love and, in her, heaven and earth are united, God the Creator is united to his creature. God becomes man, and Mary becomes a "living house" for the Lord, a temple where the Most High dwells. Here at Loreto fifty years ago, Blessed John XXIII issued an invitation to contemplate this mystery, to "reflect on that union of heaven and earth, which is the purpose of the Incarnation and Redemption", and he went on to affirm that the aim of the Council itself was to spread ever wider the beneficent impact of the Incarnation and Redemption on all spheres of life (cf. AAS 54 [1962], 724). This invitation resounds today with particular urgency. In the present crisis affecting not only the economy but also many sectors of society, the Incarnation of the Son of God speaks to us of how important man is to God, and God to man. Without God, man ultimately chooses selfishness over solidarity and love, material things over values, having over being. We must return to God, so that man may return to being man. With God, even in difficult times or moments of crisis, there is always a horizon of hope: the Incarnation tells us that we are never alone, that God has come to humanity and that he accompanies us.

 The idea of the Son of God dwelling in the "living house", the temple which is Mary, leads us to another thought: we must recognize that where God dwells, all are "at home"; wherever Christ dwells, his brothers and sisters are no longer strangers. Mary, who is the Mother of Christ, is also our mother, and she open to us the door to her home, she helps us enter into the will of her Son. So it is faith which gives us a home in this world, which brings us together in one family and which makes all of us brothers and sisters. As we contemplate Mary, we must ask if we too wish to be open to the Lord, if we wish to offer our life as his dwelling place; or if we are afraid that the presence of God may somehow place limits on our freedom, if we wish to set aside a part of our life in such a way that it belongs only to us. Yet it is precisely God who liberates our liberty, he frees it from being closed in on itself, from the thirst for power, possessions, and domination; he opens it up to the dimension which completely fulfills it: the gift of self, of love, which in turn becomes service and sharing.

 Faith lets us reside, or dwell, but it also lets us walk on the path of life. The Holy House of Loreto contains an important teaching in this respect as well. Its location on a street is well known. At first this might seem strange: after all, a house and a street appear mutually exclusive. In reality, it is precisely here that an unusual message about this House has been preserved. It is not a private house, nor does it belong to a single person or a single family, rather it is an abode open to everyone placed, as it were, on our street. So here in Loreto we find a house which lets us stay, or dwell, and which at the same time lets us continue, or journey, and reminds us that we are pilgrims, that we must always be on the way to another dwelling, towards our final home, the Eternal City, the dwelling place of God and the people he has redeemed (cf. Rev 21:3).

 There is one more important point in the Gospel account of the Annunciation which I would like to underline, one which never fails to strike us: God asks for mankind’s "yes"; he has created a free partner in dialogue, from whom he requests a reply in complete liberty. In one of his most celebrated sermons, Saint Bernard of Clairvaux "recreates", as it were, the scene where God and humanity wait for Mary to say "yes". Turning to her he begs: "The angel awaits your response, as he must now return to the One who sent him… O Lady, give that reply which the earth, the underworld and the very heavens await. Just as the King and Lord of all wished to behold your beauty, in the same way he earnestly desires your word of consent… Arise, run, open up! Arise with faith, run with your devotion, open up with your consent!" (In  laudibus Virginis Matris, Hom. IV,8: Opera omnia, Edit. Cisterc. 4, 1966, p.53f). God asks for Mary’s free consent that he may become man. To be sure, the "yes" of the Virgin is the fruit of divine grace. But grace does not eliminate freedom; on the contrary it creates and sustains it. Faith removes nothing from the human creature; rather it permits his full and final realization.

 Dear brothers and sisters, on this pilgrimage in the footsteps of Blessed John XXIII – and which comes, providentially, on the day in which the Church remembers Saint Francis of Assisi, a veritable "living Gospel" – I wish to entrust to the Most Holy Mother of God all the difficulties affecting our world as it seeks serenity and peace, the problems of the many families who look anxiously to the future, the aspirations of young people at the start of their lives, the suffering of those awaiting signs or decisions of solidarity and love. I also wish to place in the hands of the Mother of God this special time of grace for the Church, now opening up before us. Mother of the "yes", you who heard Jesus, speak to us of him; tell us of your journey, that we may follow him on the path of faith; help us to proclaim him, that each person may welcome him and become the dwelling place of God. Amen!

 

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On the Holy Rosary

"We Let Ourselves be Guided by Mary, the Model of Faith, in Meditating on the Mysteries of Christ"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before praying the midday Angelus at the conclusion of the Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Square for the proclamation of St. John of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as doctors of the Church and for the opening of the 13th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops.

  * *

 [In Italian he said:]

 Dear brothers and sisters,

 Let us turn now in prayer to Mary Most Holy, whom we venerate today as Queen of the Holy Rosary. At this time at the shrine in Pompeii, the traditional “Supplication” is being prayed and joined in by countless people around the world. As we too spiritually associate ourselves with this choral invocation, I would like to propose that everyone make a special effort to pray the Rosary during the upcoming Year of Faith. With the Rosary, in fact, we let ourselves be guided by Mary, the model of faith, in meditating on the mysteries of Christ, and day after day we are helped to assimilate the Gospel so that it gives form to our whole life. Thus, following the lead of my predecessors, especially Blessed John Paul II, who gave us the apostolic letter “Rosarium Virginis Mariae” 10 years ago, I invite you to pray the Rosary personally, in the family and in community, placing ourselves in the school of Mary, who leads us to Christ, the living center of our faith.

 [In English he said:]

 I greet the English-speaking pilgrims here today! I ask all of you to pray for the work of the Synod on the New Evangelization, beginning today. Later this week, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, the Year of Faith begins. May these events confirm us in the beauty and joy of our faith in Jesus Christ which comes to us through the Church! Entrusting these intentions to our Lady of the Rosary, I invoke upon all of you God’s abundant blessings!

 

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Pope Benedict XVI's Homily at Opening Mass of Synod of Bishops

"The Holy Spirit Has Nurtured in the Church a New Effort to Announce the Good News"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2012 - The following is the translation of the homily delivered by Pope Benedict XVI today at the Opening Mass of the Synod of Bishops on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. During the Mass, the Holy Father proclaimed St. Juan of Avila and St. Hildegard of Bingen as Doctors of the Church.

 * * *

 Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear brothers and sisters,

 With this solemn concelebration we open the thirteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the theme The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. This theme reflects a programmatic direction for the life of the Church, its members, families, its communities and institutions. And this outline is reinforced by the fact that it coincides with the beginning of the Year of Faith, starting on 11 October, on the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. I give a cordial and grateful welcome to you who have come to be part of the Synodal Assembly, in particular to the Secretary-General of the Synod of Bishops, and to his colleagues. I salute the fraternal delegates of the other churches and ecclesial communities as well as all present, inviting them to accompany in daily prayer the deliberations which will take place over the next three weeks.

 The readings for this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word propose to us two principal points of reflection: the first on matrimony, which I will touch shortly; and the second on Jesus Christ, which I will discuss now. We do not have time to comment upon the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews but, at the beginning of this Synodal Assembly, we ought to welcome the invitation to fix our gaze upon the Lord Jesus, "crowned with glory and honor, because of the suffering of death (2:9). The word of God places us before the glorious One who was crucified, so that our whole lives, and in particular the commitment of this Synodal session, will take place in the sight of him and in the light of his mystery. In every time and place, evangelization always has as its starting and finishing points Jesus Christ, the Son of God (cf. Mk1:1); and the Crucifix is the supremely distinctive sign of him who announces the Gospel: a sign of love and peace, a call to conversion and reconciliation. My dear Brother Bishops, starting with ourselves, let us fix our gaze upon him and let us be purified by his grace.

 I would now like briefly to examine the new evangelization, and its relation to ordinary evangelization and the mission ad Gentes. The Church exists to evangelize. Faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ’s command, his disciples went out to the whole world to announce the Good News, spreading Christian communities everywhere. With time, these became well-organized churches with many faithful. At various times in history, divine providence has given birth to a renewed dynamism in Church’s evangelizing activity. We need only think of the evangelization of the Anglo-Saxon peoples or the Slavs, or the transmission of the faith on the continent of America, or the missionary undertakings among the peoples of Africa, Asia and Oceania. It is against this dynamic background that I like to look at the two radiant figures that I have just proclaimed Doctors of the Church, Saint John of Avila and Saint Hildegard of Bingen. Even in our own times, the Holy Spirit has nurtured in the Church a new effort to announce the Good News, a pastoral and spiritual dynamism which found a more universal expression and its most authoritative impulse in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. Such renewed evangelical dynamism produces a beneficent influence on the two specific "branches" developed by it, that is, on the one hand the Missio ad Gentes or announcement of the Gospel to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ and his message of salvation, and on the other the New Evangelization, directed principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life. The Synodal Assembly which opens today is dedicated to this new evangelization, to help these people encounter the Lord, who alone who fills existence with deep meaning and peace; and to favor the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life. Obviously, such a special focus must not diminish either missionary efforts in the strict sense or the ordinary activity of evangelization in our Christian communities, as these are three aspects of the one reality of evangelization which complement and enrich each other.

 The theme of marriage, found in the Gospel and the first reading, deserves special attention. The message of the word of God may be summed up in the expression found in the Book of Genesis and taken up by Jesus himself: "Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh" (Gen 2:24; Mk 10:7-8). What does this word say to us today? It seems to me that it invites us to be more aware of a reality, already well known but not fully appreciated: that matrimony is a Gospel in itself, a Good News for the world of today, especially the de-Christianized world. The union of a man and a woman, their becoming "one flesh" in charity, in fruitful and indissoluble love, is a sign that speaks of God with a force and an eloquence which in our days has become greater because unfortunately, for various reasons, marriage, in precisely the oldest regions evangelized, is going through a profound crisis. And it is not by chance. Marriage is linked to faith, but not in a general way. Marriage, as a union of faithful and indissoluble love, is based upon the grace that comes from the triune God, who in Christ loved us with a faithful love, even to the Cross. Today we ought to grasp the full truth of this statement, in contrast to the painful reality of many marriages which, unhappily, end badly. There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. And, as the Church has said and witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelization. This is already being seen in the many experiences of communities and movements, but its realization is also growing in dioceses and parishes, as shown in the recent World Meeting of Families.

 One of the important ideas of the renewed impulse that the Second Vatican Council gave to evangelization is that of the universal call to holiness, which in itself concerns all Christians (cf. Lumen Gentium, 39-42). The saints are the true actors in evangelization in all its expressions. In a special way they are even pioneers and bringers of the new evangelization: with their intercession and the example of lives attentive to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, they show the beauty of the Gospel to those who are indifferent or even hostile, and they invite, as it were tepid believers, to live with the joy of faith, hope and charity, to rediscover the taste for the word of God and for the sacraments, especially for the bread of life, the Eucharist. Holy men and women bloom among the generous missionaries who announce the Good News to non-Christians, in the past in mission countries and now in any place where there are non-Christians. Holiness is not confined by cultural, social, political or religious barriers. Its language, that of love and truth, is understandable to all people of good will and it draws them to Jesus Christ, the inexhaustible source of new life.

 At this point, let us pause for a moment to appreciate the two saints who today have been added to the elect number of Doctors of the Church. Saint John of Avila lived in the sixteenth century. A profound expert on the sacred Scriptures, he was gifted with an ardent missionary spirit. He knew how to penetrate in a uniquely profound way the mysteries of the redemption worked by Christ for humanity. A man of God, he united constant prayer to apostolic action. He dedicated himself to preaching and to the more frequent practice of the sacraments, concentrating his commitment on improving the formation of candidates for the priesthood, of religious and of lay people, with a view to a fruitful reform of the Church.

 Saint Hildegard of Bingen, an important female figure of the twelfth century, offered her precious contribution to the growth of the Church of her time, employing the gifts received from God and showing herself to be a woman of brilliant intelligence, deep sensitivity and recognized spiritual authority. The Lord granted her a prophetic spirit and fervent capacity to discern the signs of the times. Hildegard nurtured an evident love of creation, and was learned in medicine, poetry and music. Above all, she maintained a great and faithful love for Christ and the Church.

 This summary of the ideal in Christian life, expressed in the call to holiness, draws us to look with humility at the fragility, even sin, of many Christians, as individuals and communities, which is a great obstacle to evangelization and to recognizing the force of God that, in faith, meets human weakness. Thus, we cannot speak about the new evangelization without a sincere desire for conversion. The best path to the new evangelization is to let ourselves be reconciled with God and with each other (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). Solemnly purified, Christians can regain a legitimate pride in their dignity as children of God, created in his image and redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, and they can experience his joy in order to share it with everyone, both near and far.

 Dear brothers and sisters, let us entrust the work of the Synod meeting to God, sustained by the communion of saints, invoking in particular the intercession of great evangelizers, among whom, with much affection, we ought to number Blessed John Paul II, whose long pontificate was an example of the new evangelization. Let us place ourselves under the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization. With her let us invoke a new outpouring of the Holy Spirit that from on high he may illumine the Synodal assembly and make it fruitful for the Church’s way ahead.

 

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Pope Benedict XVI Grants Plenary Indulgence to Faithful (Year of Faith)

Apostolic Penitentiary Issues Decree on Occasion of the Year of Faith

By Junno Arocho

 VATICAN CITY, OCT. 5, 2012 - In a decree signed by Cardinal Manuel Monteiro de Castro, Penitentiary Major and Bishop Krzysztof Nykiel, regent of the Apostolic Penitentiary, the Holy Father has granted the faithful a Plenary Indulgence on the occasion of the Year of Faith. The indulgence will last the entire Year of Faith, from October 11th, 2012 to November 24th, 2013.

 "The day of the fiftieth anniversary of the solemn opening of Vatican Council II the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has decreed the beginning of a Year especially dedicated to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation, through the reading of - or better still the pious meditation upon - the Acts of the Council and the articles of the Catechism of the Catholic Church," the statement read.

 According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "an indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."

 Indicating that the primary objective of the Year of Faith is to "develop sanctity of life to the highest degree possible on this earth", the decree granted the Plenary Indulgence will be granted to the faithful who are "truly penitent, take Sacramental Confession and the Eucharist and pray in accordance with the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff."

 The document states that those faithful who are unable to leave their residence due to illness or a legitimate cause can still receive a Plenary Indulgence if, during the times where the Holy Father or participating bishops words are broadcast through radio or television, they recite "the Our Father, the Profession of Faith in any legitimate form, and other prayers that concord with the objectives of the Year of Faith, offering up the suffering and discomfort of their lives."

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On the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council (Year of Faith)

"An Event of Light That Shines Forth Until Today"

VATICAN CITY, OCTOBER 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. On this Eve of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, the Holy Father dedicated his reflection to the importance of rediscovering the conciliar documents.

 * * *

 Dear brothers and sisters,

 We stand on the eve of the day when we will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the beginning of the Year of Faith. With this catechesis, I would like to begin to reflect – with a few brief thoughts – on the great ecclesial event of the Council, an event I witnessed firsthand. It appears to us, as it were, as a magnificent fresco, painted in its great multiplicity and variety of elements under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. And as if standing before a great painting, so we continue even today to take in the extraordinary richness of that moment of grace, and to rediscover its particular passages, features and parts.

 On the threshold of the third millennium, Blessed John Paul II wrote: “I feel more than ever in duty bound to point to the Council as the great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century: there we find a sure compass by which to take our bearings in the century now beginning” (Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, 57). I think this image is quite eloquent: the documents of the Second Vatican Council, to which we must return by freeing them from a mass of publications that often hid them rather than making them known, are also in our own day a compass that allows the ship of the Church to proceed on the open seas, amid storms or on calm and tranquil waves, to navigate safely and to reach her destination.

 I remember the time well: I was a young professor of fundamental theology at the University of Bonn, and it was the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Frings -- for me a model of human and priestly life -- who brought me with him to Rome as his theological advisor; I was then also appointed as a peritus for the Council. For me it was a unique experience: following all the fervor and enthusiasm of the preparations, I was able to see a Church that was alive – nearly three thousand Council Fathers from every part of the world gathered together under the guidance of the Successor of the Apostle Peter – who placed himself in the school of the Holy Spirit, the true driving force of the Council. Rarely in history as then could one, as it were, concretely “touch” the universality of the Church, in a moment of great achievement in her mission of carrying the Gospel to every age and to the ends of the earth.  During these days, if you see the images of the opening of this great Meeting on television or the other means of communication, you too will be able to perceive the joy, the hope and the encouragement that taking part in this event gave to us all -- an event of light that shines forth until today.

 In the history of the Church, as I think you know, various Councils preceded Vatican II. Usually these great ecclesial assemblies were convened in order to define fundamental elements of the faith, especially by correcting errors that placed it in danger. We think of the Council of Nicea in 325, to counter the Arian heresy and to reaffirm clearly the divinity of Jesus, the Only Begotten Son of God the Father; or of Ephesus in 431, which defined Mary as the Mother of God; of Chalcedon in 451, which affirmed the One Person of Christ in two natures, the divine nature and the human. Closer to our own day, we should mention the Council of Trent in the 16thcentury, which clarified essential points of Catholic doctrine in the face of the Protestant Reformation; or Vatican I, which began to reflect on various topics, but which only had time to produce two documents, one on the knowledge of God, revelation, and faith and their relationships with reason, and the other on the primacy of the Pope and his infallibility, since it was interrupted by the occupation of Rome in September 1870.

 If we look at the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council we see that, in that moment of the Church’s journey, there were no particular errors of faith to correct or to condemn, nor were there any specific questions of doctrine or discipline to clarify. One may then understand the surprise of the small group of cardinals present in the chapter room of the Benedictine Monastery at St. Paul Outside the Walls when, on the 25thof January 1959, Blessed John XXIII announced the diocesan Synod for Rome and the Council for the Universal Church. The first question posed during the preparations for this great event was precisely how it was to begin, and what specific task it was to be assigned. In his opening address on October 11thfifty years ago, Blessed John XXIII provided a general guideline: the faith had to speak in a “renewed” and more penetrating way -- for the world was rapidly changing -- all the while keeping intact its perennial content, without caving in or compromise. 

 The Pope desired that the Church reflect upon her faith, upon the truths that guide her. But on the basis of this serious, in-depth reflection, the relationship between the Church and the modern age, between Christianity and certain essential elements of modern thought was to be outlined, not so as to conform to them but rather in order to present to our world, which tends to distance itself from God, the requirement of the Gospel in its full greatness and purity (cf. Address to the Roman Curia to Offer Christmas Greetings, 22 December 2005).

 The Servant of God Paul VI indicated it well in his homily at the end of the closing session of the Council – on December 7, 1965 – with extraordinarily timely words, when he stated that, in order to evaluate this event properly: “It is necessary to remember the time in which it occurred.” In fact, the Pope said – “it occurred at a time, as everyone admits, in which men are intent on the kingdom of earth rather than on the kingdom of heaven; a time, we might add, in which forgetfulness of God has become habitual, and seems, quite wrongly, to be prompted by the progress of science; a time in which the fundamental act of the human person, more conscious now of himself and of his liberty, tends to pronounce in favor of his own absolute autonomy, in emancipation from every transcendent law; a time in which secularism is considered the legitimate consequence of modern thought and the highest wisdom in the temporal ordering of society … It was at such a time as this that our council was held to the honor of God, in the name of Christ and under the impulse of the Spirit.” Such were the words of Paul VI, and he concluded by pointing to the question of God as the central point of the Council, that God who “truly exists, lives, a personal, provident God, infinitely good; and not only good in Himself, but also immeasurably good to us. He is Our Creator, our truth, our happiness; so much so that when man seeks to fix his mind and heart on God in contemplation, he fulfills the highest, most perfect act of his soul, the act which even today can and must be the apex of the innumerable fields of human activity, from which they receive their dignity” (AAS 58 [1966], 52-53).

 We see how the time in which we live continues to be marked by a forgetfulness and deafness in relation to God. I believe, then, that we must learn the simplest and most fundamental lessons of the Council, and that is that Christianity in its essence consists in faith in God, who is Trinitarian Love, and in a personal and communal encounter with Christ who orients and guides our lives: Everything else follows from this. The important thing today, as was the desire of the Council Fathers, is that we see clearly and anew that God is present, that he is watching over us, that he responds to us, and that by contrast, when faith in God is found wanting, all that is essential crumbles, because man loses his profound dignity and what makes his humanity great in the face of every form of reductionism. The Council reminds us that the Church, in all her members, has the task, the mandate, of transmitting the word of God’s saving love, so that the divine call that holds within itself our eternal beatitude may be heard and welcomed.

 Looking in this light at the riches contained in the documents of Vatican II, I wish only to name the four Constitutions, the four cardinal points on our guiding compass. The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium tells us that at the Church’s beginning there is worship, there is God, there is the centrality of the mystery of the presence of Christ. And the Church’s most fundamental task, as the body of Christ and a people on pilgrimage through time, is to glorify God, as expressed in the dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium. The third document I wish to cite is the Constitution on Divine Revelation, Dei Verbum: the living Word of God calls the Church together and enlivens her along her journey through history. And the manner in which the Church is to carry the light she has received from God to the entire world so that He may be glorified, is the subject at the heart of the pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes.

 The Second Vatican Council is a powerful appeal to us to daily rediscover the beauty of our faith, to know it deeply so as to enter into a more intense relationship with the Lord, and to live out our Christian vocation to the very end. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and of all the Church, help us to realize and to bring to completion what the Council Fathers, animated by the Holy Spirit, kept alive in their hearts: the desire that all people might come to know the Gospel and encounter the Lord Jesus as the way, the truth and the life. Thank you.

 

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Today marks the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. I remember well the enthusiasm, the hope and the joy, not only of the bishops, but of the whole Church during that period. As we begin tomorrow the Year of Faith, it is more necessary than ever to return to the documents of this great Council, which was convoked, in the words of Blessed John the twenty-third, to proclaim the truths of the faith in a "renewed" way, all the while keeping intact their perennial content. Our own era, which has forgotten God, needs to be reminded of the profound message of the Council, that Christianity consists of faith in the triune God and in a personal and communal encounter with Christ who orients and gives meaning to life. Everything else flows from this. As in the time of the Council, may we in our time recognize with clarity that God is present, he is watching over us, he responds to us, and that when man forgets God, he forgets what is essential to his own human dignity. The fiftieth anniversary of the Council thus reminds us that the Church, in all its members, has the task of transmitting the message of God’s love which saves and which leads us to eternal beatitude.

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, visitors and groups present today, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Ghana, Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I warmly greet young people, the sick and newlyweds, by inviting them to direct their thoughts to Mary, who is invoked in this month of October as Queen of the Holy Rosary. May you look to her, dear young people, especially those of you who are students at the Schools of the Daughters of Mary, Help of Campania and of the Basilicata, and may you be ready to renew your “yes” to God’s plan of love for each one of you. Dear sick, may you share your sufferings with Mary, by offering them as a give of salvation for your brothers and sisters. May you persevere in prayer, together with her in prayer, dear newlyweds, like the Apostles in the Upper Room, and may your families experience the comforting presence of the Holy Spirit.

 

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Pope Benedict XVI's Address at Evening Torchlight Procession

"We Have Seen that the Lord Does Not Forget Us"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 12, 2012 - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Benedict XVI yesterday evening to the participants of the Torchlight Procession gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Good evening everyone and thank you for coming. I want to thank the Italian Catholic Action who has organized this torchlight procession.

Fifty years ago, on this day, I was also here in this Square, looking towards this window where the good Pope, Blessed John[XIII], was overlooking and spoke to us with unforgettable words, words full of poetry, of kindness; words of the heart.

We were happy – I would say – and full of enthusiasm. The great Ecumenical Council had begun; we were sure that a new springtime for the Church was coming, a new Pentecost, with a new strong presence of the liberating grace of the Gospel.

Today we are happy as well, we carry joy in our hearts, but I would say a more sober joy, a humble joy. In these 50 years we have learned and experienced that original sin exists and is translated, always anew, in personal sins, which can also become structures of sin. We have seen that in the field of the Lord there are always weeds. We have seen that in Peter's net there are also bad fish. We have seen that human frailty is present in the Church as well, that the ship of the Church is sailing against the current, with storms that threaten the ship and sometimes we thought: "The Lord sleeps and he has forgotten us."

This is one part of the experience made in these 50 years, but we have also had a new experience of the presence of the Lord, of his goodness, of his strength. The fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of Christ is not a consuming or destructive fire; it is a silent fire, a small flame of goodness, of goodness and of truth that transforms, that gives warmth and light. We have seen that the Lord does not forget us. Even today, in His own humble way, the Lord is present and gives warmth to the heart, shows life, creates charisms of goodness and charity that illuminates the world and are for us a guarantee of the goodness of God. Yes, Christ lives, and he is with us today as well, and we can also be happy today because his goodness does not extinguish, it is strong even today.

In closing, I dare to make mine the unforgettable worlds of Pope John: "Go to your homes, give a kiss to your children and tell them it is from the Pope."

In this sense, with all my heart I impart my Blessing: "Blessed be the name of the Lord..."

 

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Pope Benedict XVI's Recollection of Vatican II

"It Was a Moment of Extraordinary Expectation"

VATICAN CITY, OCT.12, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of Pope Benedict XVI's experience of the Second Vatican Council, published in yesterday's edition of the "L'Osservatore Romano."

* * *

It was a splendid day on 11 October 1962 when the Second Vatican Council opened with the solemn procession into St Peter’s Basilica in Rome of more than two thousand Council Fathers. In 1931 Pius XI had dedicated this day to the feast of the Divine Motherhood of Mary, mindful that 1,500 years earlier, in 431, the Council of Ephesus had solemnly recognized this title for Mary in order to express God’s indissoluble union with man in Christ. Pope John XXIII had chosen this day for the beginning of the Council so as to entrust the great ecclesial assembly, which he had convoked, to the motherly goodness of Mary and to anchor the Council’s work firmly in the mystery of Jesus Christ. It was impressive to see in the entrance procession bishops from all over the world, from all peoples and all races: an image of the Church of Jesus Christ which embraces the whole world, in which the peoples of the earth know they are united in his peace.

It was a moment of extraordinary expectation. Great things were about to happen. The previous Councils had almost always been convoked for a precise question to which they were to provide an answer. This time there was no specific problem to resolve. But precisely because of this, a general sense of expectation hovered in the air: Christianity, which had built and formed the Western world, seemed more and more to be losing its power to shape society. It appeared weary and it looked as if the future would be determined by other spiritual forces. The sense of this loss of the present on the part of Christianity, and of the task following on from that, was well summed up in the word “aggiornamento” (updating). Christianity must be in the present if it is to be able to form the future. So that it might once again be a force to shape the future, John XXIII had convoked the Council without indicating to it any specific problems or programs. This was the greatness and, at the same time, the difficulty of the task that was set before the ecclesial assembly.

The various episcopates undoubtedly approached the great event with different ideas. Some of them arrived rather with an attitude of expectation regarding the program that was to be developed. It was the episcopates of Central Europe – Belgium, France and Germany – that came with the clearest ideas. In matters of detail, they stressed completely different aspects, yet they had common priorities. A fundamental theme was ecclesiology, that needed to be studied in greater depth from a Trinitarian and sacramental viewpoint and in connection with salvation history; then there was a need to amplify the doctrine of primacy from the First Vatican Council by giving greater weight to the episcopal ministry. An important theme for the episcopates of Central Europe was liturgical renewal, which Pius XII had already started to implement. Another central aspect, especially for the German episcopate, was ecumenism: the shared experience of Nazi persecution had brought Protestant and Catholic Christians closer together; this now had to happen at the level of the whole Church, and to be developed further. Then there was also the group of themes: Revelation – Scripture – Tradition – Magisterium. For the French, the subject of the relationship between the Church and the modern world came increasingly to the fore – in other words the work of the so-called “Schema XIII”, from which the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World later emerged. This point touches on the real expectations of the Council. The Church, which during the Baroque era was still, in a broad sense, shaping the world, had from the nineteenth century onwards visibly entered into a negative relationship with the modern era, which had only then properly begun. Did it have to remain so? Could the Church not take a positive step into the new era? Behind the vague expression “today’s world” lies the question of the relationship with the modern era. To clarify this, it would have been necessary to define more clearly the essential features that constitute the modern era. “Schema XIII” did not succeed in doing this. Although the Pastoral Constitution expressed many important elements for an understanding of the “world” and made significant contributions to the question of Christian ethics, it failed to offer substantial clarification on this point.

Unexpectedly, the encounter with the great themes of the modern epoch did not happen in the great Pastoral Constitution, but instead in two minor documents, whose importance has only gradually come to light in the context of the reception of the Council. First, there is the Declaration on Religious Liberty, which was urgently requested, and also drafted, by the American Bishops in particular. With developments in philosophical thought and in ways of understanding the modern State, the doctrine of tolerance, as worked out in detail by Pius XII, no longer seemed sufficient. At stake was the freedom to choose and practice religion and the freedom to change it, as fundamental human rights and freedoms. Given its inner foundation, such a concept could not be foreign to the Christian faith, which had come into being claiming that the State could neither decide on the truth nor prescribe any kind of worship.

The Christian faith demanded freedom of religious belief and freedom of religious practice in worship, without thereby violating the law of the State in its internal ordering; Christians prayed for the emperor, but did not worship him. To this extent, it can be said that Christianity, at its birth, brought the principle of religious freedom into the world. Yet the interpretation of this right to freedom in the context of modern thought was not easy, since it could seem as if the modern version of religious freedom presupposed the inaccessibility of the truth to man and so, perforce, shifted religion into the sphere of the subjective. It was certainly providential that thirteen years after the conclusion of the Council, Pope John Paul II arrived from a country in which freedom of religion had been denied by Marxism, in other words by a particular form of modern philosophy of the State. The Pope had come, as it were, from a situation resembling that of the early Church, so that the inner orientation of the faith towards the theme of freedom, and especially freedom of religion and worship, became visible once more.

The second document that was to prove important for the Church’s encounter with the modern age came into being almost by chance and it developed in various phases. I am referring to the Declaration “Nostra Aetate” on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions. At the outset the intention was to draft a declaration on relations between the Church and Judaism, a text that had become intrinsically necessary after the horrors of the Shoah. The Council Fathers from Arab countries were not opposed to such a text, but they explained that if there were an intention to speak of Judaism, then there should also be some words on Islam. How right they were, we in the West have only gradually come to understand. Lastly the realization grew that it was also right to speak of two other great religions – Hinduism and Buddhism – as well as the theme of religion in general. Then, following naturally, came a brief indication regarding dialogue and collaboration with the religions, whose spiritual, moral, and socio-cultural values were to be respected, protected and encouraged (ibid., 2). Thus, in a precise and extraordinarily dense document, a theme is opened up whose importance could not be foreseen at the time. The task that it involves and the efforts that are still necessary in order to distinguish, clarify and understand, are appearing ever more clearly. In the process of active reception, a weakness of this otherwise extraordinary text has gradually emerged: it speaks of religion solely in a positive way and it disregards the sick and distorted forms of religion which, from the historical and theological viewpoints, are of far-reaching importance; for this reason the Christian faith, from the outset, adopted a critical stance towards religion, both internally and externally.

If at the beginning of the Council the dominant groups were the Central European Episcopates with their theologians, during the Council sessions the scope of the common endeavor and responsibility constantly broadened. The bishops considered themselves apprentices at the school of the Holy Spirit and at the school of reciprocal collaboration, but at the same time servants of the word of God who were living and working in faith. The Council Fathers neither could nor wished to create a new or different Church. They had neither the authority nor the mandate to do so. It was only in their capacity as bishops that they were now Council Fathers with a vote and decision-making powers, that is to say, on the basis of the Sacrament and in the Church of the Sacrament. For this reason they neither could nor wished to create a different faith or a new Church, but rather to understand these more deeply and hence truly to “renew them”. This is why a hermeneutic of rupture is absurd and is contrary to the spirit and the will of the Council Fathers.

In Cardinal Frings I had a “father” who lived this spirit of the Council in an exemplary way. He was a man of great openness and breadth, but he also knew that faith alone leads us out into the open, into that space which remains barred to the positivist spirit. This is the faith that he wished to serve with the authority he had received through the sacrament of Episcopal Ordination. I cannot but be ever grateful to him for having brought me – the youngest professor of the Catholic theology faculty of the University of Bonn – as his consultant to the great Church assembly, thereby enabling me, alongside the others, to attend that school and to walk the path of the Council from within. The present volume contains a collection of the various writings that I presented at that school. They are thoroughly fragmentary offerings, which also reveal the learning process that the Council and its reception meant and still means for me. I hope that despite all their limitations, these various offerings, combined, will help to make the Council better understood and to implement it in a healthy ecclesial life. I warmly thank Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller and his collaborators at the Pope Benedict XVI Institute for the extraordinary commitment they have taken on in order to produce this volume.

Castel Gandolfo, on the Feast of Saint Eusebius, Bishop of Vercelli

2 August 2012

Benedictus PP. XVI

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On Wealth

"The Church's History is Full of Examples of Rich People Who Used their Possessions in an Evangelical Way"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Wealth is the principal topic of this Sunday’s Gospel (Mark 10:17-30). Jesus teaches that it is very difficult for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God, but not impossible; in fact, God can conquer the heart of a person who has many possessions and move him to solidarity and sharing with the needy, with the poor, to enter into the logic of the gift. This is how wealth presents itself in the life of Jesus Christ, who – as the Apostle Paul writes – “rich though he was, he became poor for us so that we might become rich though his poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:9).

As often happens in the Gospels, everything begins from an encounter. In this case Jesus’ meeting with a man who “had many possessions” (Mark 10:22). He was a person who from his youth had faithfully observed the commandments of God’s Law, but he had not yet found true happiness; this is why he asks Jesus what he must do to “inherit eternal life” (10:17). On the one hand, like everyone else, he is after life in its fullness. On the other hand, being used to depending on his wealth, he thinks that he might be able to “buy” eternal life in some way, perhaps by observing some special commandment. Jesus welcomes the profound desire that is in him and, the evangelist notes, casts a gaze full of love upon him, God’s own gaze (cf. 10:21). But Jesus also understands what the man’s weakness is: it is precisely his attachment to his many possessions, and this is why he invites him to give everything to the poor, so that his treasure – and thus his heart – will no longer be on earth but in heave, and adds: “Come! Follow me!” (10:22). That man, instead of accepting Jesus’ invitation, goes away sad (10:23) since he is unable to give up his wealth, which can never give him happiness and eternal life.

It is at this point that Jesus offers his teaching to the disciples, and to us today: "How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!" (10:23). The disciples are puzzled, and even more so when Jesus adds: “It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for one who is rich to enter the kingdom of God." But seeing that the disciples are astonished he says: "For human beings it is impossible, but not for God.

All things are possible for God" (10:24-27). St. Clement comments on the episode in this way: “The story teaches the rich that they must not neglect their salvation as if they were already condemned. They need not throw their wealth into the sea or condemn it as insidious and hostile to life, but they must learn how to use their wealth and obtain life” (“What rich person will be saved?” 27, 1-2). The Church’s history is full of examples of rich people who used their possessions in an evangelical way, achieving sanctity. We need only think of St. Francis, St. Elizabeth or St. Charles Borromeo. May the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, help us to welcome Jesus’ invitation with joy so that we might enter into the fullness of life.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Prague Frederick Bachstein and 13 of his confreres of the Order of Friars Minors were beatified. They were killed in 1611 because of their faith. They are the first persons who have been beatified in the Year of Faith, and they are martyrs: they remind us that believing in Christ also means suffering with him and for him.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present. During this Year of Faith may we, like the man in today’s Gospel, have the courage to ask the Lord what more can we do, especially for the poor, the lonely, the sick and the suffering, so as to be witnesses and heirs to the eternal life God promises. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings of peace.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Have a good week. Thank you! Have a good Sunday everyone!

 

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Benedict XVI's Address To Second Vatican Council Fathers (Year of faith)

Christianity Must not be Considered as 'Something of the Past'

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address on Friday during an audience with several bishops who took part as Conciliar Fathers in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, together with patriarchs and archbishops of the Catholic Eastern Churches and numerous presidents of Episcopal Conferences around the world. The occasion marked the opening of the Year of Faith and 50th anniversary of Vatican II.

* * *

Venerable and Dear Brothers,

We are together today, after the solemn celebration that gathered us yesterday in Saint Peter’s Square. The cordial and fraternal greeting which I now wish to give stems from that profound communion that only the Eucharistic celebration is able to create. Rendered visible in it, almost tangibly, are those bonds that unite us as members of the Episcopal College, gathered with the Successor of Peter.

In your faces, dear patriarchs and archbishops of the Catholic Eastern Churches, dear presidents of the Episcopal Conferences of the world, I also see the hundreds of bishops that in all areas of the earth are committed in the proclamation of the Gospel and in the service of the Church and of man, in obedience to the mandate received from Christ. However, I would like to address a particular greeting today to you, dear Brothers, who had the grace of taking part in the quality of Fathers in the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. I am grateful to cardinal Arinze, who made himself the interpreter of your sentiments, and at this moment I am keeping present in prayer and in affection the whole group – almost seventy – of bishops still living who took part in the conciliar works. In responding to the invitation for this commemoration, to which they have been unable to be present because of their advanced age and health, many of them have recalled with moving words those days, assuring their spiritual union at this moment, also with the offering of their suffering.

There are so many memories that come to our mind and that each one has well in the heart of that very lively, rich and fecund period which was the Council; however, I do not wish to dwell too long on it, but – taking up some elements of my homily yesterday – I would like to recall how one word, launched by Blessed John XXIII almost programmatically, returned continually in the conciliar works: the word “aggiornamento.”

Fifty years after the opening of that solemn meeting of the Church some might wonder if that expression was not, perhaps from the beginning, not altogether a happy one. I think that on the choice of words one could discuss for hours and one would find continually discordant opinions, but I am convinced that Blessed John XXIII’s intuition, summarized with this word, was and still is exact. Christianity must not be considered as “something of the past,” and it must not be lived ever looking “back,” because Jesus Christ is yesterday, today and for eternity (cf. Hebrews 13:8). Christianity is marked by the presence of the eternal God, who entered time and is present at all times, because all time flows from his creative power, from his eternal “today.”

Because of this, Christianity is always new. We must never see it as a tree fully developed from the evangelical mustard seed, which has grown, has given its fruits, and one day ages and arrives at the waning of its vital energy. Christianity is a tree which is, so to speak, in constant “dawn,” is always young. And this actuality, this “aggiornamento” does not mean a break with tradition, but expresses its constant vitality; it does not mean reducing the faith, lowering it to the fashion of the times, to the measure of what please us, to what pleases public opinion, but it is the contrary: exactly as the Conciliar Fathers did, we must bear the “today” that we live to the measure of the Christian event, we must bear the “today” of our time in the “today” of God.

The Council was a time of grace in which the Holy Spirit taught us that the Church, in her journey in history, must always speak to contemporary man, but this can only happen through the strength of those who are profoundly rooted in God, who allow themselves to be guided by Him and live their faith with purity; it does not happen with those who adapt themselves to the passing moment, those who choose the most comfortable way. The Council was very clear when, in number 49 of Lumen Gentium, the Dogmatic Constitution on  the Church, it affirmed that all in the Church are called to sanctity in keeping with what the Apostle Paul said “For this is the will of God, your sanctification” (1 Thessalonians 4:3): sanctity shows the true face of the Church, it makes the eternal “today” of God enter in the “today” of our life, in the “today” of the man of our time.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, the memory of the past is precious, but it is never an end in itself. The Year of Faith,which we began yesterday, suggests to us the best way to remember and commemorate the Council, concentrating ourselves on the heart of its message, which in the end is none other than the message of faith in Jesus Christ, as the only Savior of the world, proclaimed to the man of our time. What is important and essential today is to bring the ray of God’s love to the heart and life of every man and every woman, and to bring the men and women of every place and every time to God. I very much hope that all the particular Churches will find, in the celebration of this Year, the occasion for the ever necessary return to the living source of the Gospel, to the transforming encounter with the person of Jesus Christ. Thank you.

 

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Pope's Address at Luncheon with Synod Fathers and Bishops Who Participated in Vatican II

"The Lord Will Also Help us to Move Forward Exteriorly"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the address Pope Benedict XVI gave during a luncheon on Friday celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. Present at the luncheon were the participating cardinals and bishops from the Synod of Bishops and Council Father who attended the Second Vatican Council. Also present were His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and His Grace, Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of the Anglican Communion.

* * *

Your Holiness,

Your Grace,

Dear Brothers,

Firstly, I would like to announce a little bit of 'grace', that is, this afternoon we will not begin at 4:30pm-it seems inhumane to me-,but at quarter to six.

It is a beautiful tradition created by Blessed Pope John Paul II to crown the Synod with a communal luncheon. For me it is a great joy that at my right hand stands His Holiness Bartholomew [I], Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople and, on the other side, Archbishop Rowan Williams from the Anglican Communion.

For me, this communion is a sign that we are on the way towards unity and that in the heart we are moving forward. The Lord will also help us to move forward exteriorly. This joy, I think, gives us strength also for the mandate of the evangelization. Synodos means "common path", "to be on a common path", and thus, the word synodos makes me think of the famous road of the Lord with the two disciples of Emmaus, who are somehow an image of today's agnostic world. Jesus, their hope, was dead; the world, empty; it seemed that God was in reality either not there or not interested in us.

With this desperation in the heart, and yet with a small flame of faith, they go forward. The Lord walks with them mysteriously and helps them better understand the mystery of God, his presence in history, his silent walking with us. In the end, during supper, when already the word of the Lord and their hearing it had kindled the heart and enlightened the mind, they recognize Him at supper and finally their heart begins to see. Likewise, in the Synod, we are on the road together with our contemporaries. Let us pray that the Lord may enlighten us, that He may ignite the heart so that it become a seer, that He may enlighten the mind; and let us pray that, in the supper, in the Eucharistic communion, we may truly be open, see him and so ignite also the world a give his light to this our world.

In this sense, the supper – as the Lord often used lunch and supper as symbols of the Kingdom of God-could also be for us a symbol of the common path and an occasion to pray the Lord to accompany us; helps us. In this sense, let us now say the prayer of thanksgiving…

 

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Pope Benedict XVI Gives Exclusive Interview for Documentary

"Bells of Europe" Highlights the History between Christianity and Europe

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2012 - On Monday, the film "Bells of Europe – A Journey into the Faith in Europe" was shown to several Synod Fathers. The documentary was a joint production of Vatican Television Centre (CTV) and RAI Cinema, along with the support of the Gregorian Foundation and Intesa San Paolo.

 Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of both the Holy See Press Office and CTV introduced the film, saying that "the importance of the film lies in the way it brings together a series of exceptional interviews regarding the relationship between Christianity and Europe, its history and culture."

 "Various prestigious personalities, including the highest religious authorities of the major Christian denominations, generously granted original and exclusive interviews to the filmmaker."

 Among those interviewed were Pope Benedict XVI, Bartholomew I, the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Patriarch Kirill I of the Russian Orthodox Church, the Archbishop of Canterbury and Anglican Primate, Rowan Williams, and the former President of the Council of the Lutheran Churches of Germany, Bishop Wolfgang Huber.

 The Holy See Has made available Pope Benedict XVI's interview:

 * * *

Q.: Your Holiness, your Encyclicals present a compelling view of man: a man inhabited by God's charity, a man whose reason is broadened by the experience of faith, a man who possesses social responsibility thanks to the dynamism of charity received and given in truth. Holiness, it is from this anthropological standpoint - in which the evangelical message exalts all the laudable aspects of humankind, purifying the grime that covers the authentic countenance of man created in the image and likeness of God - that you have repeatedly stated that this rediscovery of the human countenance, of evangelical values, of the deepest roots of Europe, is a cause of great hope for the European continent and not only for the European continent. Can you explain to us the reasons for your hope?

 Pope Benedict XVI: The first reason for my hope consists in the fact that the desire for God, the search for God, is profoundly inscribed into each human soul and cannot disappear. Certainly we can forget God for a time, lay Him aside and concern ourselves with other things, but God never disappears. St. Augustine's words are true: we men are restless until we have found God. This restlessness also exists today, and is an expression of the hope that man may, ever and anew, even today, start to journey towards this God.

 The second reason for my hope lies in the fact that the Gospel of Jesus Christ, faith in Jesus Christ, is quite simply true; and the truth never ages. It too may be forgotten for a time, it may be laid aside and attention may turn to other things, but the truth as such does not disappear. Ideologies have their days numbered. They appear powerful and irresistible but, after a certain period, they wear out and lose their energy because they lack profound truth. They are particles of truth, but in the end they are consumed. The Gospel, on the other hand, is true and can therefore never wear out. In each period of history it reveals new dimensions, it emerges in all its novelty as it responds to the needs of the heart and mind of human beings, who can walk in this truth and so discover themselves. It is this reason, therefore, that I am convinced there will also be a new springtime for Christianity.

 A third reason, an empirical reason, is evident in the fact that this sense of restlessness today exists among the young. Young people have seen much - the proposals of the various ideologies and of consumerism - and they have become aware of the emptiness and insufficiency of those things. Man was created for the infinite, the finite is too little. Thus, among the new generations we are seeing the reawakening of this restlessness, and they too begin their journey making new discoveries of the beauty of Christianity, non a cut-price or watered-down version, but Christianity in all its radicalism and profundity. Thus I believe that anthropology, as such, is showing us that there will always be a new reawakening of Christianity. The facts confirm this in a single phrase: Deep foundation. That is Christianity; it is true and the truth always has a future.

 Q.: Your Holiness, you have repeatedly said that Europe has had, and continues to have, a cultural influence on the entire human race, and it cannot but feel a particular sense of responsibility, not only for its own future, but also for that of humankind as a whole. Looking ahead, is it possible to discern the contours of the visible witness Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants in Europe from the Atlantic to the Urals must show as, living the Gospel values in which they believe, they contribute to the building of a Europe faithful to Christ, more welcoming and united, not merely safeguarding their cultural and spiritual heritage but also committed to finding new ways to face the great challenges that characterize the post-modern and multicultural age?

 Pope Benedict XVI: This is an important question. It is clear that Europe has great weight in today’s world, in terms of economic, cultural and intellectual importance; as a consequence of this it also has great responsibility. But Europe, as you said, still has to find its true identity in order to be able to speak and act in keeping with her responsibility. In my opinion, the problem today does not consist in national differences which, thank God, are differences not divisions. In their cultural, human and temperamental differences, nations are a rich asset which, together, give rise to a great symphony of cultures. Basically, they are a shared culture. The problem Europe has in finding its own identity consists, I believe, in the fact that in Europe today we see two souls: one is abstract anti-historical reason, which seeks to dominate all else because it considers itself above all cultures; it is like a reason which has finally discovered itself and intends to liberate itself from all traditions and cultural values in favor of an abstract rationality. Strasburg’s first verdict on the crucifix was an example of such abstract reason which seeks emancipation from all traditions, even from history itself. Yet we cannot live like that and, moreover, even "pure reason" is conditioned by a certain historical context, and only in that context can it exist. We could call Europe's other soul the Christian one. It is a soul open to all that is reasonable, a soul which itself created the audaciousness of reason and the freedom of critical reasoning, but which remains anchored to the roots from which this Europe was born, the roots which created the continent's fundamental values and great institutions, in the vision of the Christian faith. As you said, this soul has to find a shared expression in ecumenical dialogue between the Catholic, Orthodox and Protestant Churches. It must then encounter this abstract reason; in other words, it must accept and maintain the freedom of reason to criticize everything it can do and has done, but to practice this and give it concrete form on the foundations and in the context of the great values that Christianity has given us. Only by blending these elements can Europe have weight in the intercultural dialogue of mankind today and tomorrow. Only when reason has a historical and moral identity can it speak to others, search for an "interculturality" in which everyone can enter and find a fundamental unity in the values that open the way to the future, to a new humanism. This must be our aim. For us this humanism arises directly from the view of man created in the image and likeness of God.

 

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Canonizations

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

 Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear brothers and sisters!

 “Today the Church listens again to these words of Jesus, spoken by the Lord during his journey to Jerusalem, where he was to accomplish the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection. They are words which enshrine the meaning of Christ’s mission on earth, marked by his sacrifice, by his total self-giving.

 On this third Sunday of October, on which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Church listens to  them with special attention and renews her conviction that she should always be fully dedicated to serve mankind and the Gospel, after the example of the One who gave himself up even to the  sacrifice of his life. I extend warm greetings to all of you who fill Saint Peter’s Square, especially the official delegations and the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the seven new saints. I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who, during these days, are taking part in the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization.

 The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and  the word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects. It shows how to be evangelizers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his very path. This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new  evangelization in places with ancient Christian roots.

 The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45) These words were the blueprint for living of the seven Blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrols  this morning in the glorious ranks of the saints. With heroic courage they spent their lives in total  consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren. They are sons and daughters  of the Church who chose the path of service following the Lord. Holiness always rises up in the Church from the well-spring of the mystery of redemption, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first  reading: the Servant of the Lord is the righteous one who “shall make many to be accounted as righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities” (Is 53:11); he is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and living in glory.

 Today’s canonization is an eloquent confirmation of this mysterious saving reality. The tenacious profession of faith of these seven generous disciples of Christ, their configuration to the Son of Man shines out brightly today in the whole Church.

  Jacques Berthieu, born in 1838 in France, was passionate about Jesus Christ at an early age. During his parish ministry, he had the burning desire to save souls. Becoming a Jesuit, he wished to journey through the world for the glory of God. A tireless pastor on the island of Sainte Marie, then in Madagascar, he struggled against injustice while bringing succour to the poor and sick. The Malagasies thought of him as a priest come down from heaven, saying, You are our “father and mother!” He made himself all things to all men, drawing from prayer and his love of the sacred heart of Jesus the human and priestly force to face martyrdom in 1896. He died, saying “I prefer to die rather than renounce my faith”. Dear friends, may the life of this evangelizer be an encouragement and a model for priests that, like him, they will be men of God! May his example aid the many Christians of today persecuted for their faith! In this Year of Faith, may his intercession bring forth many fruits for Madagascar and the African Continent! May God bless the Malagasy people!

  Pedro Calungsod was born around the year sixteen fifty-four, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In sixteen sixty-eight, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the second of April, sixteen seventy-two. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!

 Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. He raised awareness of the need for a cultural and social presence of Catholicism in the modern world, and so he dedicated himself to the Christian, moral and professional growth of the younger generations with an enlightened input of humanity and goodness. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, including the Artigianelli Institute, Queriniana Publishers, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men, and for women the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord. The secret of his intense and busy life is found in the long hours he gave to prayer. When he was overburdened with work, he increased the length of his encounter, heart to heart, with the Lord. He preferred to pause before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and return to gaining people’s hearts, especially the young, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.

 “May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:22). With these words, the liturgy invites us to make our own this hymn to God, creator and provider, accepting his plan into our lives. María Carmelo Sallés y Barangueras, a religious born in Vic in Spain in 1848, did just so. Filled with hope in spite of many trials, she, on seeing the progress of the Congregation of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, which she founded in 1892, was able to sing with the Mother of God, “His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). Her educational work, entrusted to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, continues to bear abundant fruit among young people through the generous dedication of her daughters who, like her, entrust themselves to God for whom all is possible.

 I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in eighteen thirty-eight in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in eighteen sixty-two she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world.

 There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

 Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in sixteen fifty-six to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateri remained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity. Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we Entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!

 Anna Schaeffer, from Mindelstetten, as a young woman wished to enter a missionary order. She came from a poor background so, in order to earn the dowry needed for acceptance into the cloister, she worked as a maid. One day she suffered a terrible accident and received incurable burns on her legs which forced her to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. So her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a missionary service. She struggled for a time to accept her fate, but then understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many  who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.

 Dear brothers and sisters, these new saints, different in origin, language, nationality and social condition, are united among themselves and with the whole People of God in the mystery of salvation of Christ the Redeemer. With them, we too, together with the Synod Fathers from all parts of the world, proclaim to the Lord in the words of the psalm that he “is our help and our shield” and we invoke him saying, “may your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you” (Ps 32:20.22). May the witness of these new saints, and their lives generously spent for love of Christ, speak today to the whole Church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

 

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Year of Faith audiences on Faith

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Today’s Audience introduces a new series of catecheses meant to accompany the Church’s celebration of the Year of Faith, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council.  The Year of Faith invites us to renewed enthusiasm for the gift of our belief in Jesus Christ.  Jesus, the Son of God, and shows us the ultimate meaning of our human existence.

Faith transforms our lives, enabling us to know and love the God who created us, to live freely in accordance with his will, and to cooperate in building a truly humane and fraternal society. 

 Our catecheses will thus deal with the central truths of the faith as expressed in the words of the Apostles’ Creed.  May the Year of Faith lead all believers to a fuller knowledge of the mystery of Christ and a deeper participation in the life of his Body, the Church!

 I offer a warm welcome to the Muslim and Catholic study group from the Diocese of Broken Bay in Australia.  I also greet the representatives of the Jewish Federation of North America and the participants in the European Conference of the American Bankruptcy Institute.  I thank the Cathedral Choir from Oslo and the Hawaiian dancers for their performances.  Upon all the English-speaking visitors present, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Jersey, Norway, Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Singapore, Canada and the United States, I invoke God’s abundant blessing."

 

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Pope's Message Commemorating World Food Day

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2012  -Here is a translation of the message that the Pope Benedict XVI sent to the Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva, on the occasion of World Food Day 2012, being observed today on the topic “Agricultural Cooperatives Feed the World.”

  * * *

 To Mr. Jose Graziano da Silva

 Director General of FAO

 This year the World Food Day is being observed while the effects of the economic crisis increasingly affect primary needs, including the fundamental right of every person to sufficient and healthy nutrition, aggravating especially the situation of those who live in conditions of poverty and underdevelopment. It is a context that is similar to that which inspired the institution of FAO, and which calls national and international institutions to the commitment to free humanity from hunger through agricultural development and the growth of rural communities. Weighing on malnutrition, in fact, is a gradual disengagement and an excessive competitiveness which risk forgetting that common and shared solutions are able to give adequate answers to persons’ and peoples’ expectations.

 Hence I greet with particular satisfaction the choice to dedicate this Day to reflection on the topic “Agricultural Cooperatives Feed the World.” It is not only about giving support to cooperatives as expression of a different way of economic and social organization, but of considering them a real instrument of international action. The experience realized in many countries shows, in fact, that cooperatives, in addition to giving impulse to agricultural work, are a way of enabling farmers and rural populations to intervene in decisive moments as well as being an effective instrument to carry out the integral development of which the person is the foundation and end.

 To guarantee freedom from hunger means, in fact, to be aware that the activity of institutions and the contribution of committed men and women can attain adequate results only through actions and structures inspired by solidarity and geared to participation. In this sense, agricultural cooperatives are a concrete example because they are called to carry out not only adequate levels of production and distribution, but also a more general growth of the rural areas and of the communities that live in them.

 Cooperation in its most profound meaning indicates the person’s need to be associated to achieve, together with others, new aims in the social, economic, cultural and religious ambit. It is a dynamic and varied reality, called not only to give answers to immediate and material needs, but to contribute with the prospects of every community.

 Giving due priority to the human dimension, the cooperatives can surmount the exclusively technical profile of agricultural work, re-evaluating its centrality in economic activity and thus fostering adequate answers to the real local necessities. It is an alternative vision to that determined by internal and international measures which seems to have as their sole objective profit, the defense of markets, the use of agricultural products for ends other than food, and the introduction of new techniques of production without the necessary precaution as.

 In face of an ever wider demand for food, which necessarily unites the quality and quantity of foods, the work of agricultural cooperatives could represent something more than a simple aspiration, showing concretely a possible way to satisfy the demand of an ever growing world population. Their increasingly consolidated presence can then put an end to the speculative tendencies which now touch even <essential products> destined for human alimentation and stem the cornering of cultivable areas which in different regions constrain farmers to abandon their land because as individuals they have no possibility of having their rights appreciated.

 As is known, the Catholic Church also considers cooperative work and enterprise as ways of living an experience of unity and solidarity capable of surmounting differences and even social conflicts between persons and different groups. Because of this , with her teaching and her action <the Church> has always upheld the model of cooperatives in as much as she is convinced that their activity is not limited solely to the economic dimension, but contributes to the human, social, cultural and moral growth of which they are a part and of the community in which they are inserted.

 In fact, cooperatives are a concrete expression not of a sterile complementarity, but of true subsidiarity, a principle that the Social Doctrine of the Church puts as the foundation of a correct relation between the person, the society and the institutions. Subsidiarity, in fact, guarantees the capacity and original contribution of the person, preserving his aspirations in the spiritual and material dimension, having in just consideration the promotion of the common good and the protection of the rights of the person.

 Looking at situations where conflicts or natural disasters limit agricultural work, a particular thought goes to the irreplaceable role of women often called to direct the activity of cooperatives, to maintain family bonds and to safeguard those precious elements of knowledge and technique proper to the rural world.

 In a world seeking appropriate intervention to overcome the difficulties stemming from the economic crisis and to give globalization a genuinely human meaning, the experience of cooperatives well represents that new type of economy at the service of the persons, that is, capable of fostering ways of sharing and gratuitousness which are the fruit, respectively, of solidarity and fraternity (Caritas in veritate, 39).  Indispensable, because of this, is that public powers operating at the national and international level predispose the necessary legislative and financial instruments so that in rural areas cooperatives can be effective instruments of agricultural production, food security, social change and a wider improvement of conditions of life. It is to be hoped that in this new context the young generations will be able to look to their future with renewed confidence, maintaining the links with the work of fields, the rural world and their traditional values.

 In renewing the Church’s attention and the commitment of her institutions so that humanity can really be free of hunger, I invoke the most abundant blessings of God Almighty on you, Mr. Director General, on the representatives of the nations accredited to FAO, and on all those who work in the Organization and contribute to the attainment of its ends.

 From the Vatican, October 16, 2012

 BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

 

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Pope's Address to Recipients of the Ratzinger Prize

Venerable Brothers,

illustrious Ladies and Gentlemen,

dear brothers and sisters!

I am happy to offer my greeting to all of you who have come for this ceremony. I thank Cardinal Ruini for his remarks along with Monsignor Scotti who introduced this gathering. I warmly congratulate Prof. Daley and Prof. Brague, who by their personalities illustrate this initiative in its second edition. And here I mean “personality” in the full sense: the character of the research and the whole scientific endeavor; the precious service of teaching, which both have undertaken for many years; but also their being, naturally in in different ways – one a Jesuit, the other a married layman – working in the Church, active in offering their qualified contribution to the Church’s presence in today’s world.

In this regard I noted something that led to some reflection, and that is that this year’s 2 recipients are competent and engaged in 2 matters that are decisive for the Church of our times: I am referring to ecumenism and the encounter with other religions. Father Daley, studying the Fathers of the Church in depth, has placed himself in the best school for knowing and loving the Church one and undivided but in the richness of her different traditions; thus he carries out a service of responsibility in relations with the Orthodox Churches. And Prof. Brague is a great scholar of the philosophy of religions, particularly the medieval Jewish and Islamic. Well, 50 years after Vatican Council II, I would like to re-read 2 conciliar documents with them: the declaration “Nostra Aetate,” on non-Christian religions, and the decree “Unitatis redintegratio,” on ecumenism, to which, however, I would add another document that has shown itself to be of extraordinary importance: the declaration “Dignitatis humanae” on religious freedom. Certainly it would be very interesting, dear Father and dear Professor, to listen to your reflections and also to your experiences in these fields in which a relevant part of the Church’s dialogue with the contemporary world takes place.

In fact, this ideal meeting already occurred in reading their publications, some of which are available in various languages. I feel a duty to express particular appreciation and gratitude for this labor of communicating the fruits of research. This is a grave but precious task for the Church and for those who work in the academic and cultural world. In this respect, I would simply like to underscore the fact that both of the recipients are university professors, very much involved in teaching. This element deserves to be highlighted, because it manifests something that is consistent with the activity of the Foundation, which, besides this award, offers scholarships for doctoral students in theology and sponsors academic conferences at universities, such as the one that was held this year in Poland, and the one that will take place in Rio de Janeiro in 3 weeks. Personalities such as Father Daley and Prof. Brague are exemplary in the transmission of a knowledge that unites science and wisdom, scientific rigor and a passion for man, to bring about the discovery of an “art of living.” And it is proper to people who, through an enlightened and lived faith, bring God closer and make him believable to man today, something that we need; people who look steadily to God and draw from this source true humanity to help those whom the Lord places along our path to understand that Christ is the way to life; people whose intellect is illuminated by the light of God so that they may be able to speak to the minds and hearts of others. They work in the vineyard of the Lord, where he calls us, so that the men and women of our time may discover and rediscover the truth “art of living”: this was also one of the great passions of Vatican Council II, which is more relevant than ever in the work of the new evangelization. 

Again, from my heart, I offer my congratulations to the recipients and to the Foundation’s Board of Researchers and to all the collaborators in this projects. Thank you.

 

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Holy Father's Telegram of Condolence to Beirut Attack Victims

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the telegram given by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone sending the Holy Father's condolences to victims of the attack in Beirut.

 * * *

 His Beatitude Béchara Boutros Raï

 Patriarch of Antioch for Maronites

 Bkerké

 Learning of the terrible attack that took place in Beirut, which injured and killed numerous people, His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI shares through prayer in the sorrow of the grieving families and the sadness of all the people of Lebanon. He entrusts the victims to God, who is full of mercy, imploring him to welcome them into his light. He expresses his profound sympathy for the injured and their families, asking the Lord to aid and console them in their trial. As he did during his apostolic voyage to Lebanon, the Holy Father once again condemns the violence that brings about such suffering and asks God to grant the gift of peace and reconciliation to Lebanon and the entire region. His Holiness wholeheartedly invokes the abundance of divine blessings upon the grieving families and upon all the people of Lebanon!

 Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone

 Secretary of State of His Holiness

 

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Pope Benedict XVI's Homily at Mass of Canonization of Seven New Saints

"May the witness of these new saints[...]speak today to the whole Church"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the Canonization Mass of Seven New Saints.

* * *

Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church listens again to these words of Jesus, spoken by the Lord during his journey to Jerusalem, where he was to accomplish the mystery of his passion, death and resurrection. They are words which enshrine the meaning of Christ’s mission on earth, marked by his sacrifice, by his total self-giving. On this third Sunday of October, on which we celebrate World Mission Sunday, the Church listens to them with special attention and renews her conviction that she should always be fully dedicated to serve mankind and the Gospel, after the example of the One who gave himself up even to the sacrifice of his life.

I extend warm greetings to all of you who fill Saint Peter’s Square, especially the official delegations and the pilgrims who have come to celebrate the seven new saints. I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who, during these days, are taking part in the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization. The coincidence between this ecclesiastical meeting and World Mission Sunday is a happy one; and the word of God that we have listened to sheds light on both subjects. It shows how to be evangelizers, called to bear witness and to proclaim the Christian message, configuring ourselves to Christ and following his same way of life. This is true both for the mission ad Gentes and for the new evangelization in places with ancient Christian roots.

The Son of Man came to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many (cf. Mk 10:45)

These words were the blueprint for living of the seven Blessed men and women that the Church solemnly enrols this morning in the glorious ranks of the saints. With heroic courage they spent their lives in total consecration to the Lord and in the generous service of their brethren. They are sons and daughters of the Church who chose a life of service following the Lord. Holiness always rises up in the Church from the well-spring of the mystery of redemption, as foretold by the prophet Isaiah in the first reading: the Servant of the Lord is the righteous one who "shall make many to be accounted as righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities" (Is 53:11); this Servant is Jesus Christ, crucified, risen and living in glory. Today’s canonization is an eloquent confirmation of this mysterious saving reality. The tenacious profession of faith of these seven generous disciples of Christ, their configuration to the Son of Man shines out brightly today in the whole Church.

[in French] Jacques Berthieu, born in 1838 in France, was passionate about Jesus Christ at an early age. During his parish ministry, he had the burning desire to save souls. Becoming a Jesuit, he wished to journey through the world for the glory of God. A tireless pastor on the island of Sainte Marie, then in Madagascar, he struggled against injustice while bringing succour to the poor and sick. The Malagasies thought of him as a priest come down from heaven, saying, You are our "father and mother!" He made himself all things to all men, drawing from prayer and his love of the sacred heart of Jesus the human and priestly force to face martyrdom in 1896. He died, saying "I prefer to die rather than renounce my faith". Dear friends, may the life of this evangelizer be an encouragement and a model for priests that, like him, they will be men of God! May his example aid the many Christians of today persecuted for their faith! In this Year of Faith, may his intercession bring forth many fruits for Madagascar and the African Continent! May God bless the Malagasy people!

[in English] Pedro Calungsod was born around the year sixteen fifty-four, in the Visayas region of the Philippines. His love for Christ inspired him to train as a catechist with the Jesuit missionaries there. In sixteen sixty-eight, along with other young catechists, he accompanied Father Diego Luís de San Vitores to the Marianas Islands in order to evangelize the Chamorro people. Life there was hard and the missionaries also faced persecution arising from envy and slander. Pedro, however, displayed deep faith and charity and continued to catechize his many converts, giving witness to Christ by a life of purity and dedication to the Gospel. Uppermost was his desire to win souls for Christ, and this made him resolute in accepting martyrdom. He died on the second of April, sixteen seventy-two. Witnesses record that Pedro could have fled for safety but chose to stay at Father Diego’s side. The priest was able to give Pedro absolution before he himself was killed. May the example and courageous witness of Pedro Calungsod inspire the dear people of the Philippines to announce the Kingdom bravely and to win souls for God!

[in Italian] Giovanni Battista Piamarta, priest of the Diocese of Brescia, was a great apostle of charity and of young people. He raised awareness of the need for a cultural and social presence of Catholicism in the modern world, and so he dedicated himself to the Christian, moral and professional growth of the younger generations with an enlightened input of humanity and goodness. Animated by unshakable faith in divine providence and by a profound spirit of sacrifice, he faced difficulties and fatigue to breathe life into various apostolic works, including the Artigianelli Institute, Queriniana Publishers, the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth for men, and for women the Congregation of the Humble Sister Servants of the Lord. The secret of his intense and busy life is found in the long hours he gave to prayer. When he was overburdened with work, he increased the length of his encounter, heart to heart, with the Lord. He preferred to pause before the Blessed Sacrament, meditating upon the passion, death and resurrection of Christ, to gain spiritual fortitude and return to gaining people’s hearts, especially the young, to bring them back to the sources of life with fresh pastoral initiatives.

[in Spanish] "May your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you" (Ps 32:22). With these words, the liturgy invites us to make our own this hymn to God, creator and provider, accepting his plan into our lives. María Carmelo Sallés y Barangueras, a religious born in Vic in Spain in 1848, did just so. Filled with hope in spite of many trials, she, on seeing the progress of the Congregation of the Conceptionist Missionary Sisters of Teaching, which she founded in 1892, was able to sing with the Mother of God, "His mercy is on those who fear him from generation to generation" (Lk 1:50). Her educational work, entrusted to the Immaculate Virgin Mary, continues to bear abundant fruit among young people through the generous dedication of her daughters who, like her, entrust themselves to God for whom all is possible. [in English] I now turn to Marianne Cope, born in eighteen thirty-eight in Heppenheim, Germany. Only one year old when taken to the United States, in eighteen sixty-two she entered the Third Order Regular of Saint Francis at Syracuse, New York. Later, as Superior General of her congregation, Mother Marianne willingly embraced a call to care for the lepers of Hawaii after many others had refused. She personally went, with six of her fellow sisters, to manage a hospital on Oahu, later founding Malulani Hospital on Maui and opening a home for girls whose parents were lepers. Five years after that she accepted the invitation to open a home for women and girls on the island of Molokai itself, bravely going there herself and effectively ending her contact with the outside world. There she looked after Father Damien, already famous for his heroic work among the lepers, nursed him as he died and took over his work among male lepers. At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm. She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved Saint Francis.

[in English] Kateri Tekakwitha was born in today’s New York state in sixteen fifty-six to a Mohawk father and a Christian Algonquin mother who gave to her a sense of the living God. She was baptized at twenty years of age and, to escape persecution, she took refuge in Saint Francis Xavier Mission near Montreal. There she worked, faithful to the traditions of her people, although renouncing their religious convictions until her death at the age of twenty-four. Leading a simple life, Kateriremained faithful to her love for Jesus, to prayer and to daily Mass. Her greatest wish was to know and to do what pleased God. She lived a life radiant with faith and purity.

[in French] Kateri impresses us by the action of grace in her life in spite of the absence of external help and by the courage of her vocation, so unusual in her culture. In her, faith and culture enrich each other! May her example help us to live where we are, loving Jesus without denying who we are. Saint Kateri, Protectress of Canada and the first native American saint, we entrust to you the renewal of the faith in the first nations and in all of North America! May God bless the first nations!

[in German] Anna Schaeffer, from Mindelstetten, as a young woman wished to enter a missionary order. She came from a poor background so, in order to earn the dowry needed for acceptance into the cloister, she worked as a maid. One day she suffered a terrible accident and received incurable burns on her legs which forced her to be bed-ridden for the rest of her life. So her sick-bed became her cloister cell and her suffering a missionary service. She struggled for a time to accept her fate, but then understood her situation as a loving call from the crucified One to follow him. Strengthened by daily communion, she became an untiring intercessor in prayer and a mirror of God’s love for the many who sought her counsel. May her apostolate of prayer and suffering, of sacrifice and expiation, be a shining example for believers in her homeland, and may her intercession strengthen the Christian hospice movement in its beneficial activity.

Dear brothers and sisters, these new saints, different in origin, language, nationality and social condition, are united among themselves and with the whole People of God in the mystery of salvation of Christ the Redeemer. With them, we too, together with the Synod Fathers from all parts of the world, proclaim to the Lord in the words of the psalm that he "is our help and our shield" and we invoke him saying, "may your love be upon us, O Lord, as we place all our hope in you" (Ps 32:20.22). May the witness of these new saints, and their lives generously spent for love of Christ, speak today to the whole Church, and may their intercession strengthen and sustain her in her mission to proclaim the Gospel to the whole world.

 

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On A New Series of Audiences for The Year of Faith

"With Faith, Everything Changes in Us and for Us"

VATICAN, OCTOBER 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. Today the Holy Father introduced a new series of catechesis meant to accompany the Church during the Year of Faith.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to introduce a new series of catecheses that will be developed throughout the course of the newly inaugurated Year of Faith and that, for the time being, will interrupt the series dedicated to the school of prayer. I called this special Year with the Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, so that the Church might experience a renewed enthusiasm in her faith in Jesus Christ, the only Savior of the world, reawaken her joy in walking on the way he has pointed out to us, and witness in a tangible way to the transforming power of faith.

The 50thanniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council is an important occasion to return to God, to deepen and to live one’s faith more courageously, to strengthen one’s sense of belonging to the Church, the “teacher of humanity”, who through the proclamation of the Word, the celebration of the Sacraments and deeds of charity leads us to encounter and to know Christ, true God and true man. It is an encounter not with an idea or a plan of life, but with a living Person, who profoundly transforms us from within by revealing to us our true identity as children of God.

Encountering Christ renews our human relationships by directing them, day by day, to a greater solidarity and fraternity, in accord with the logic of love. Faith in the Lord is not something that affects only our minds, the realm of intellectual knowledge; rather, it is a change involving the whole of our existence: our feelings, heart, mind, will, body, emotions and human relationships. With faith, everything changes in us and for us, and it reveals clearly our future destiny, the truth of our vocation in history, the meaning of our lives, the joy of being pilgrims en route to our heavenly homeland.

But - we ask ourselves - is faith really the transforming power of our lives, of my life? Or is it just one part of life, without being the deciding factor that involves it completely? Through these catecheses for the Year of Faith, we will journey along a path to strengthen or to rediscover the joy of faith, by learning that faith is not something foreign and disconnected from real life but rather, it is its very soul. Faith in a God who is love, and who drew near to man by becoming incarnate and giving himself on the Cross to save us and reopen the doors of Heaven, tells us clearly that man’s fullness consists in love alone.

Today, as ongoing cultural transformations often reveal forms of savagery passing under the sign of “conquests of civilization”, it needs to be repeated clearly: faith affirms that there is no true humanity except in the places, in the acts, in the times and in the ways in which man is animated by the love that comes from God, is expressed as a gift and is manifested in relationships rich in love, compassion, care and disinterested service for the other. Where there is domination, possessiveness, exploitation and commodification of the other brought about by egoism; where the arrogance of the ‘I’ closed in upon itself exists, there man is impoverished, degraded and disfigured. Christian faith, which is active in love and strong in hope, does not limit life but rather humanizes it and indeed, makes it fully human.

Faith means welcoming this transforming message into our lives; it means receiving the revelation of God, who lets us know who He is, how he acts and what his plans are for us. To be sure, the mystery of God forever remains beyond the capacity of our concepts and our reason, our rites and our prayers. And yet, by his revelation God himself communicates with us, he tells us about himself and he makes himself accessible. And we are enabled to listen to his Word and to receive his truth. This, then, is the wonder of faith: God, in his love, creates in us – through the working of the Holy Spirit – the proper conditions for us to recognize his Word. God himself, in his will to reveal himself to us, to enter into contact with us and to make himself present in history, enables us to listen to him and to receive him. St. Paul expresses it with joy and gratitude in this way: “We thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).

God has revealed himself in words and deeds throughout the course of a long history of friendship with man, culminating in the Incarnation of the Son of God and in his mystery of death and resurrection. God not only revealed himself in the history of a people; he not only spoke by means of the prophets, but he crossed the threshold of Heaven to enter the land of men as a man, so that we might encounter him and listen to him. And from Jerusalem, the proclamation of the Gospel of salvation spread to the ends of the earth. The Church, born from the side of Christ, became the bearer of a new and firm hope: Jesus of Nazareth, crucified and risen, the Savior of the world, who is seated at the right hand of the Father and who is judge of the living and the dead. This is the kerigma, the central and unsettling proclamation of the faith.

Yet from the beginning there arose the problem of the “rule of faith”, i.e. of the faithfulness of believers to the truth of the Gospel, in which they were to stand firm, and to the saving truth about God and man, which was to be guarded and handed on. St. Paul writes: “Through it [the Gospel] you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you will have believed in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:2).

But where do we find the essential formula of the faith? Where do we find the truths that have been faithfully transmitted and that are light for our daily lives? The answer is simple: in the Creed, in the Profession of Faith, or the Symbol of Faith, we reconnect with the original event of the Person and history of Jesus of Nazareth. It makes concrete what the Apostle to the Gentiles said to the Christians at Corinth: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3).

Today, too, we need the Creed to be better known, understood and prayed. Above all, it is important that the Creed be “recognized”, as it were. For knowing can be a merely intellectual act, while “recognizing” involves discovering the profound connection between the truths that we profess in the Creed and our daily lives, such that that these truths truly and tangibly become – as they have always been – light for the steps of our lives, water that quenches our burning thirst along our journey, and life that overcomes some of the deserts of our modern day. The moral life of the believer is grafted onto the Creed, and it finds its foundation and justification therein.

It is no accident that Blessed John Paul II wanted the Catechism of the Catholic Church - a secure norm for teaching the faith and a reliable source for a renewed catechesis - to be patterned after the Creed. It was a matter of confirming and protecting the central core of the truths of the faith, while putting it into language more intelligible for men of our own times, for us. It is the Church’s duty to transmit the faith and to communicate the Gospel, so that Christian truths may shed light on new cultural transformations, and so that Christians may be able to make a defense for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Peter 3:14).

Today we live in a society that has changed profoundly, even compared with the recent past, and that is in constant motion. The process of secularization and a widespread nihilistic mentality, according to which everything is relative, have had a profound impact on the general mindset. Thus, life is often lived lightly without clear ideals and solid hopes, and within fluid and passing family and social ties. Above all, the new generations are not being formed to seek the truth and the profound meaning of life that goes beyond all that is passing. Nor are they being formed to have stable affections and attachments, and to trust. On the contrary, relativism leads to having no firm foundation. Suspicion and inconstancy cause ruptures in human relationships, while life is lived in experiments that do not last, without assuming responsibility. If individualism and relativism seem to dominate the minds of many of our contemporaries, it cannot be said that believers remain totally immune to these dangers by which we are confronted in handing on the faith. The survey promoted on all the continents for the celebration of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization, highlighted some of these dangers: a faith lived in a passive or private manner, failure to educate in the faith, the fracture between life and faith.

Today, Christians often do not even know the core of their own Catholic faith, the Creed.  This can leave the door open to certain syncretism and religious relativism that lacks clarity about the truths we must believe and about Christianity’s unique power to save. Today we are not so far away from the risk of building a “do-it-yourself” religion. We must instead return to God, to the God of Jesus Christ. We must rediscover the message of the Gospel and make it enter more deeply into our consciences and into our daily lives.

In the catecheses for the Year of Faith, I would like to offer help for the journey, for taking up and exploring the central truths of the faith about God, about man, about the Church, about the whole social and cosmic reality, by meditating and reflecting on the statements of the Creed. And I would like for it to become clear that the content or truths of faith (fides quae – “faith which”) are directly connected to our lives, that they require a conversion of our lives, that they give birth to a new way of believing in God (fides qua – “faith by which”). Knowing God, meeting him, exploring the features of His Face, brings our lives into play, for He enters into the deep dynamics of being human.

May the journey we will make this year cause us all to grow in faith and love for Christ, so that we may learn to live, in our choices and daily actions, the good and beautiful life of the Gospel. Thank you.

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Audience introduces a new series of catecheses meant to accompany the Church’s celebration of the Year of Faith, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The Year of Faith invites us to renewed enthusiasm for the gift of our belief in Jesus Christ. Jesus, the Son of God, shows us the ultimate meaning of our human existence. Faith transforms our lives, enabling us to know and love the God who created us, to live freely in accordance with his will, and to cooperate in building a truly humane and fraternal society. Our catecheses will thus deal with the central truths of the faith as expressed in the words of the Apostles’ Creed. May the Year of Faith lead all believers to a fuller knowledge of the mystery of Christ and a deeper participation in the life of his Body, the Church!

 

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On the Nature of Faith

"Faith is a gift of God, but it is also a profoundly free and human act"

VATICAN, OCTOBER 24, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. Today the Holy Father continued his new series of catecheses on faith.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Last Wednesday, with the inauguration of the Year of Faith, I began a new series of catecheses on faith. And today I would like to reflect with you on the basic question: What is faith? Does faith still make sense in a world where science and technology have opened horizons heretofore unimagined? What does it mean to believe today? Indeed, in our own day a renewed education in the faith is greatly needed. This should naturally include a knowledge of the truths of the faith and the events of salvation, but above all it should come from a true encounter with God in Jesus Christ, from loving Him, from trusting Him, so that it involves the whole of our lives.

Today, along with so many signs of goodness, a kind of spiritual desert is also widening around us. Sometimes we get the feeling from certain events we hear about each day that the world is not moving towards the building up of a more fraternal and peaceful community. The very ideas of progress and wellbeing also reveal their shadows. Despite the grandeur of scientific discoveries and technological breakthroughs, men today do not seem to have become freer and more humane; so many forms of exploitation, manipulation, violence, oppression and injustice still remain.

In addition, a certain kind of culture has taught men to move only along the horizons of things, of the practical, and to believe only in what can be seen and touched with one’s hands. On the other hand, however, there are an increasing number of people who feel lost and who - in the quest to move beyond a merely horizontal vision of reality - are ready to believe everything as well as its opposite. Within this context several fundamental questions emerge, which are far more concrete than they appear at first sight: What is the meaning of life? Is there a future for man, for us and for the new generations? How shall we direct the choices we freely make toward a successful and happy life? What awaits us beyond the threshold of death?

These insuppressible questions show that the world of planning, exact calculation and experimentation - in a word, of scientific knowledge - important as they are for the life of man, of themselves are not enough. We don’t only need bread; we need love, meaning and hope. We need a firm foundation and solid ground that helps us to live with real meaning, even in times of crisis, darkness and difficulty, and amid our daily problems. This is precisely what faith gives us: it is a confident entrusting of oneself to a “Thou” who is God; it provides a kind of certainty different from but no less sure than what comes to us from exact calculation or science.

Faith is not simply a matter of man’s intellectual assent to truths about God; it is an act whereby I freely entrust myself to a God who is a Father and who loves me; it means clinging to a “Thou” who gives me hope and confidence. To be sure, this adherence to God is not devoid of content: it enables us to know that God himself revealed himself to us in Christ. He showed us his face and he truly drew near to each one of us. Indeed, God revealed that his love for man, for each one of us, is without measure: on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God made man, shows us in the clearest fashion how far this love goes -- to the point of giving himself, to total sacrifice. By the mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, God descends into the depths of our humanity in order to bring it back to himself, to raise it to his heights.

Faith means believing in God’s unfailing love, which endures even in the face of man’s iniquity, of evil and of death, and which is able to transform every form of slavery by granting the possibility of salvation. To have faith, then, is to encounter this “Thou” - God - who sustains me and offers me the promise of an imperishable love that not only aspires to eternity but also gives it. It means entrusting myself to God with the attitude of a child who knows very well that all of his difficulties and problems are safe in the “thou” of the mother.

And this possibility of salvation through faith is a gift that God offers to all people. I think we should meditate more often on this in our daily lives, which are sometimes characterized by tragic problems and situations. We need to reflect on the fact that Christian belief involves this trusting self-surrender to the profound meaning that upholds me and the world: that meaning we are incapable of giving ourselves but can only receive as a gift, and that provides the foundation on which we can live without fear. And we must be able to proclaim this freeing and reassuring certainty with our words and to demonstrate it by our Christian lives.

Each day, however, we see around us that many people remain indifferent or refuse to welcome this announcement. At the end of the Gospel of Mark we today have before us hard words from the Risen One, who tells us: “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16), he will be lost. I would like to invite you to reflect on this. Confidence in the action of the Holy Spirit must always move us to go out and preach the Gospel, to courageously witness to the faith. But in addition to the possibility of a positive response to the gift of faith, there is also the risk of the Gospel being rejected, of a vital encounter with Christ not being received. St. Augustine posed this problem in one of his commentaries on the parable of the sower: “ We speak – he said – we cast the seed, we scatter the seed. There are those who despise, those who criticize and those who scoff. If we fear them, we shall have nothing more to sow, and the day of harvest will remain without a crop. Therefore, may the seed come forth from good soil (Discourse on Christian discipline, 13,14: PL 40, 677-678).

Rejection, then, cannot discourage us. As Christians we are witnesses of this fertile soil: despite our limitations, our faith shows that good soil exists, where the seed of God’s Word produces abundant fruits of justice, peace, love, of new humanity and of salvation. And the whole history of the Church, with all its problems, also demonstrates that good soil exists, good seed exists, and it bears fruit.

But we ask ourselves: where does man obtainthat openness of heart and mind that enables him to believe in God who became visible in Jesus Christ crucified and risen, and to receive his salvation so that Christ and his Gospel become the guide and light of life? The answer: we are able to believe in God because he draws near to us and touches us, because the Holy Spirit, the gift of the Risen One, enables us to receive and welcome the living God. Faith, then, is first and foremost a supernatural gift, a gift of God. The Second Vatican Council states: “To make this act of faith, the grace of God and the interior help of the Holy Spirit must precede and assist, moving the heart and turning it to God, opening the eyes of the mind and giving ‘joy and ease to everyone in assenting to the truth and believing it’ (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 5).

The basis of our journey of faith is Baptism, the sacrament that gives us the Holy Spirit – making us children of God in Christ - and marks our entrance into the community of faith, the Church: we don’t believe on our own, without the preceding grace of the Spirit; and we don’t believe alone but together with our brothers and sisters. From Baptism on, every believer is called to re-live and make this confession of faith his own, together with his brothers and sisters.

Faith is a gift of God, but it is also a profoundly free and human act. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states it clearly. It says: “Believing is possible only by grace and the interior helps of the Holy Spirit. But it is no less true that believing is an authentically human act. [It] is contrary neither to human freedom nor to human reason” (n. 154). In fact, it involves them and exalts them in a gamble on life that is like an exodus; i.e., a going out of themselves, a departure from the security they afford and from their mental constructs in order to entrust themselves to the action of God, who shows us the way to attain true freedom, our human identity, true joy of heart and peace with everyone. To believe is to entrust oneself in all freedom and with joy to God’s providential plan for history, like the patriarch Abram, like Mary of Nazareth. Faith, then, is an assent whereby our minds and hearts pronounce their “yes” to God by confessing that Jesus is the Lord. And this “yes” transforms life and opens the way towards the fullness of meaning, making it so new, so rich in joy and reliable hope.

Dear friends, the times in which we live need Christians who have been seized by Christ, who grow in faith through familiarity with the Sacred Scriptures and the Sacraments – persons who are like an open book that tells of the experience of new life in the Spirit and the presence of God who sustains us on the journey and opens the way to endless life. Thank you.

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our series of catecheses for the Year of Faith, we now consider the nature of faith. More than simply knowledge about God, faith is a living encounter with him. Through faith we come to know and love God, who reveals himself in the life, death and resurrection of Christ, and in so doing reveals the deepest meaning and truth of our human existence. Faith offers us sure hope and direction amid the spiritual confusion of our times. Before all else, faith is a divine gift which enables us to open our hearts and minds to God’s word and, through Baptism, to share in his divine life within the community of the Church. Yet faith is also a profoundly human act, engaging our intelligence and freedom. When we welcome God’s invitation and gift, our lives, and the world around us, are transformed. May this Year of Faith help us to live our faith fully, and to invite others to hear and welcome God’s word, opening their hearts to the eternal life which faith promises.

* * *

I offer a cordial greeting to the General Chapter of the Salvatorian Sisters. I also greet the large group of pilgrims from Japan. My warm welcome goes to the priests from the Archdiocese of Westminster. I welcome the members of the Apostolic Union of Clergy. I also greet the study group of Anglican clergy visiting Rome. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present, including those from England, Scotland, Denmark, Norway, Nigeria, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

Lastly, a thought for the young, the sick and newlyweds. Last Monday we celebrated the memorial of Blessed John Paul II, whose figure is still alive among us: dear young people, may you learn to approach life with his ardor and enthusiasm; dear sick, may you joyfully carry the cross of suffering as he himself taught us; and may you, dear newlyweds, always place God at the center so that your married life may be rich in love and happiness.

 

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And now, it is with great joy that I announce my intention to hold a Consistory on 24 November, during which I will appoint 6 new members of the College of Cardinals.

 

Cardinals have the task of assisting the Successor of Peter in carrying out his ministry of confirming his brethren in the faith and of being the principle and foundation of the Church’s unity and communion.

Here are the names of the new cardinals:

1. Archbishop MICHAEL JAMES HARVEY, Prefect of the Papal Household, whom I plan to appoint as Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls;

2. His Beatitude BÉCHARA BOUTROS RAÏ, Patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites (Lebanon);

3. His Beatitude Baselios Cleemis THOTTUNKAL, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankars (India);

4. Archbishop John Olorunfemi Onaiyekan, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria);

5. Archbishop RubÉn Salazar Gomez, Archbishop of Bogotá (Colombia);

6. Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle, Archbishop of Manila (Philippines).

The new Cardinals - as you have heard - exercise their ministry in the service of the Holy See or as Fathers and Shepherds of particular Churches in various parts of the world.

I invite everyone to pray for the newly elected, asking the maternal intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, that they may always love Christ and his Church with courage and devotion.

 

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On the Ecclesial Nature of Faith

No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother.

VATICAN, OCT. 31, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. Today the Holy Father continued with the second reflection in his new series of catecheses on faith.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

We continue on our journey of meditation on the Catholic Faith. Last week I explained that faith is a gift, for it is God who takes the initiative and comes to meet us. Thus faith is the response whereby we welcome him as the stable foundation of our lives. It is a gift that transforms our existence, for it allows us to see through the eyes of Jesus, who works in us and opens us to love for God and for others.

Today I would like to take another step forward in our reflection, beginning once again with a number of questions: Is faith only personal and individual? Does it only concern my own person? Do I live my faith alone? Certainly, the act of faith is an eminently personal act that takes place in the most intimate depths of our being and signals a change in direction, a personal conversion. It is my life that is marked by a turning point and receives a new orientation.

In the liturgy of Baptism, at the time of the promises, the celebrant asks for a manifestation of faith, and he puts forward three questions: Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ his only Son? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? Historically, these questions were addressed personally to the one who was to receive baptism, before immersing him three times in water. And today, too, the response is in the singular: “I believe”. But my belief is not the result of my own personal reflection, nor the product of my own thoughts.  Rather, it is the fruit of a relationship, of a dialogue that involves listening, receiving and a response. It is a conversation with Jesus that causes me to go out of my self-enclosed “I” in order that I may be opened to the love of God the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I discover that I am united not only to Jesus but also to all those who have walked, and who continue to walk, along the same path. And this new birth, which begins at baptism, continues throughout the whole course of life. 

I cannot build my personal faith on a private conversation with Jesus, for faith is given to me by God through the community of believers, which is the Church. It numbers me among the multitude of believers, in a communion which is not merely sociological but, rather, which is rooted in the eternal love of God, who in himself is the communion of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit - who is Trinitarian Love. Our faith is truly personal only if it is also communal. It can only be my faith only if it lives and moves in the “we” of the Church, only if it is our faith, the common faith of the one Church.

On Sunday, when we recite the “Creed” [the “I believe”] during the Holy Mass, we express ourselves in the first person, but we confess the one faith of the Church as a community. The “I believe” that we profess individually is joined to an immense choir spanning time and space, in which each person contributes, as it were, to a harmonious polyphony of faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes this with great clarity: “’Believing’ is an ecclesial act. The Church’s faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. The Church is the mother of all believers. ‘No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother’ [St. Cyprian]” (n. 181). Therefore, faith is born in the Church, leads to her and lives in her. This is very important to remember.

At the beginning of the Christian adventure, when the Holy Spirit descends with power on the disciples on the day of Pentecost, as narrated in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:1-13), the nascent Church receives strength to carry out the mission entrusted to her by the risen Lord: to spread the Gospel, the good news of the Kingdom of God, to every corner of the world, and to guide every man to an encounter with the risen Christ and to the faith that saves. The Apostles overcome every fear in proclaiming what they have heard, seen and personally experienced with Jesus. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, they begin to speak in new languages, openly announcing the mystery they had witnessed.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we are then told about the great speech Peter addressed on the day of Pentecost. He begins with a passage from the prophet Joel (3:1-5), refers it to Jesus and proclaims the core of Christian faith: He who had been bountifully good to all, and was attested to by God with miracles and mighty works, was crucified and killed, but God raised him from the dead, establishing him as Lord and Christ. Through him, we have entered into the definitive salvation announced by the prophets, and whosoever shall call upon his name shall be saved (cf. Acts 2:17-24). Many of those who heard Peter’s words felt personally challenged; they repented of their sins and were baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2: 37-41).

Thus begins the Church’s journey. She is the community that carries this proclamation through space and time, the community of the People of God founded on the new covenant in Christ’s blood, whose members do not belong to a particular social or ethnic group but who are men and women from every nation and culture. The Church is a “catholic” people that speaks new languages and is universally open to welcoming everyone, that transcends every border and breaks every barrier. St. Paul says: “Here there is not Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Colossians 3:11).

From her earliest days, then, the Church was the place of faith, the place where the faith was transmitted, the place where, through baptism, we are immersed in the Paschal Mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection, which frees us from the prison of sin, gives us the freedom of children and introduces us into communion with the Trinitarian God. At the same time, we are immersed in a communion with other brothers and sisters in faith, with the entire Body of Christ, and in this way we are brought forth from our isolation. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminds us: “God does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals, without bond or link between one another. Rather has it pleased Him to bring men together as one people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness” (Dogmatic Constitution, Lumen Gentium, 9).

Again recalling the liturgy of Baptism, we may note that at the conclusion of the promises whereby we renounce evil and respond “I believe” to the central truths of the faith, the celebrant declares: “This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church and we glory in professing it in Christ Jesus Our Lord”. Faith is a theological virtue given by God but transmitted by the Church throughout the span of history. Again St. Paul, writing to the Corinthians, states that he has handed on to them the Gospel, which he himself had also received (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3).

 There is an unbroken chain in the Church’s life, in the announcement of God’s Word, in the celebration of the Sacraments, which comes to us and which we call Tradition. It provides us with the guarantee that what we believe in is Christ’s original message, as preached by the Apostles. The core of this primordial announcement is the event of the Lord’s Death and Resurrection, from which the entire patrimony of faith flows. The Council says: “The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by an unending succession of preachers until the end of time (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 8). Thus, if Sacred Scripture contains God’s Word, the Tradition of the Church conserves and faithfully transmits it, so that men of every age may have access to its immense wealth and be enriched by its treasures of grace. In this way the Church, “in her teaching, life and worship, perpetuates and hands on to all generations all that she herself is, all that she believes” (ibid.).

 Lastly, I would like to emphasize that it is within the ecclesial community that personal faith grows and matures. It is interesting to observe that in the New Testament the word “saints” refers to Christians as a whole - and certainly not all of them had the necessary qualities to be declared saints by the Church. What, then, was intended by the use of this term? The fact that those who had faith in the Risen Christ and lived it out were called to become models for others, by putting them in contact with the Person and the Message of Jesus, who reveals the Face of the living God. This is also true for us: a Christian who allows himself to be gradually guided and shaped by the Church’s faith - despite his weaknesses, limitations and difficulties - becomes, as it were, a window open to the light of the living God that receives this light and transmits it to the world. In the encyclical Redemptoris missio, Blessed John Paul II affirmed that “missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others!” (no. 2).

The widespread tendency today to relegate the faith to the private sphere contradicts its very nature. We need the Church to confirm our faith and to experience God’s gifts: His Word, the Sacraments, the support of grace and the witness of love. In this way, our “I” taken up into the “we” of the Church – will be able to perceive itself as the recipient of and participant in an event that far surpasses it: the experience of communion with God, who establishes communion among men. In a world in which individualism seems to regulate human relationships, causing them to become ever more fragile, faith calls us to be the Church, i.e. bearers of God’s love and communion to all mankind. (cf. Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, 1). Thank you for your attention.

[In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our series of catecheses for the Year of Faith, we have seen that faith is something intensely personal: a gift of God, which transforms and enriches our life. At the same time, the gift of faith is given in and through the community of the Church. In Baptism I receive and appropriate the faith of the Church; my personal faith finds expression in the recitation of the Creed and in the communal celebration of the sacraments. The new life I live in Christ through the gift of his Spirit is received and nourished within the Church’s communion. In this sense, the Church is our Mother. As Saint Cyprian says, "No one can have God as Father who does not have the Church as Mother". Dwelling in the Church’s living Tradition, may we mature in the faith we have received and, by putting it into practice, become beacons of Christ’s light and peace in our world.

Conscious of the devastation caused by the hurricane which recently struck the East Coast of the United States of America, I offer my prayers for the victims and express my solidarity with all those engaged in the work of rebuilding. I now greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Ireland, Sweden, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. My greetings go in particular to the group of elders from Nigeria visiting Rome on pilgrimage, and to the members of the Vox Clara Committee. Upon all of you I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

A final thought for young people, for the sick and for newlyweds. Tomorrow we celebrate the Solemnity of All Saints, which reminds us of the universal call to holiness: dear young people, may your aspirations to happiness be realized in the Gospel Beatitudes; dear sick, may carrying your cross with Christ sanctify you in love; and may you, dear newlyweds, learn how to devote ample time to prayer, so that your married life may proceed along a path of holiness. Thank you all

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Pope's Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

"I am Convinced of the Urgent need for Continued Dialogue and Cooperation between the Worlds of Science and of Faith"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 8, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Pope Benedict XVI's address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of their Plenary Assembly.

* * *

Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of this Plenary Assembly, and I express my gratitude to your President, Professor Werner Arber, for his kind words of greeting in your name. I am also pleased to salute Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, your Chancellor, and to thank him for his important work on your behalf.

The present plenary session, on “Complexity and Analogy in Science: Theoretical, Methodological and Epistemological Aspects”, touches on an important subject which opens up a variety of perspectives pointing towards a new vision of the unity of the sciences. Indeed, the significant discoveries and advances of recent years invite us to consider the great analogy of physics and biology which is clearly manifested every time that we achieve a deeper understanding of the natural order. If it is true that some of the new notions obtained in this way can also allow us to draw conclusions about processes of earlier times, this extrapolation points further to the great unity of nature in the complex structure of the cosmos and to the mystery of man’s place within it. The complexity and greatness of contemporary science in all that it enables man to know about nature has direct repercussions for human beings. Only man can constantly expand his knowledge of truth and order it wisely for his good and that of his environment.

In your discussions, you have sought to examine, on the one hand, the ongoing dialectic of the constant expansion of scientific research, methods and specializations and, on the other, the quest for a comprehensive vision of this universe in which human beings, endowed with intelligence and freedom, are called to understand, love, live and work. In our time the availability of powerful instruments of research and the potential for highly complicated and precise experiments have enabled the natural sciences to approach the very foundations of corporeal reality as such, even if they do not manage to understand completely its unifying structure and ultimate unity. The unending succession and the patient integration of various theories, where results once achieved serve in turn as the presuppositions for new research, testify both to the unity of the scientific process and to the constant impetus of scientists towards a more appropriate understanding of the truth of nature and a more inclusive vision of it. We may think here, for example, of the efforts of science and technology to reduce the various forms of energy to one elementary fundamental force, which now seems to be better expressed in the emerging approach of complexity as a basis for explanatory models. If this fundamental force no longer seems so simple, this challenges researchers to elaborate a broader formulation capable of embracing both the simplest and the most complex systems.

Such an interdisciplinary approach to complexity also shows too that the sciences are not intellectual worlds disconnected from one another and from reality but rather that they are interconnected and directed to the study of nature as a unified, intelligible and harmonious reality in its undoubted complexity. Such a vision has fruitful points of contact with the view of the universe taken by Christian philosophy and theology, with its notion of participated being, in which each individual creature, possessed of its proper perfection, also shares in a specific nature and this within an ordered cosmos originating in God’s creative Word. It is precisely this inbuilt “logical” and “analogical” organization of nature that encourages scientific research and draws the human mind to discover the horizontal co-participation between beings and the transcendental participation by the First Being. The universe is not chaos or the result of chaos, rather, it appears ever more clearly as an ordered complexity which allows us to rise, through comparative analysis and analogy, from specialization towards a more universalizing viewpoint and vice versa. While the very first moments of the cosmos and life still elude scientific observation, science nonetheless finds itself pondering a vast set of processes which reveals an order of evident constants and correspondences and serves as essential components of permanent creation.

It is within this broader context that I would note how fruitful the use of analogy has proved for philosophy and theology, not simply as a tool of horizontal analysis of nature’s realities, but also as a stimulus to creative thinking on a higher transcendental plane. Precisely because of the notion of creation, Christian thought has employed analogy not only for the investigation of worldly realities, but also as a means of rising from the created order to the contemplation of its Creator, with due regard for the principle that God’s transcendence implies that every similarity with his creatures necessarily entails a greater dissimilarity: whereas the structure of the creature is that of being a being by participation, that of God is that of being a being by essence, or Esse subsistens. In the great human enterprise of striving to unlock the mysteries of man and the universe, I am convinced of the urgent need for continued dialogue and cooperation between the worlds of science and of faith in the building of a culture of respect for man, for human dignity and freedom, for the future of our human family and for the long-term sustainable development of our planet. Without this necessary interplay, the great questions of humanity leave the domain of reason and truth, and are abandoned to the irrational, to myth, or to indifference, with great damage to humanity itself, to world peace and to our ultimate destiny.

Dear friends, as I conclude these reflections, I would like to draw your attention to the Year of Faith which the Church is celebrating in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In thanking you for the Academy’s specific contribution to strengthening the relationship between reason and faith, I assure you of my close interest in your activities and my prayers for you and your families. Upon all of you I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

[Text from Vatican Radio]

our Excellencies,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I greet the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of this Plenary Assembly, and I express my gratitude to your President, Professor Werner Arber, for his kind words of greeting in your name. I am also pleased to salute Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, your Chancellor, and to thank him for his important work on your behalf.

The present plenary session, on “Complexity and Analogy in Science: Theoretical, Methodological and Epistemological Aspects”, touches on an important subject which opens up a variety of perspectives pointing towards a new vision of the unity of the sciences. Indeed, the significant discoveries and advances of recent years invite us to consider the great analogy of physics and biology which is clearly manifested every time that we achieve a deeper understanding of the natural order. If it is true that some of the new notions obtained in this way can also allow us to draw conclusions about processes of earlier times, this extrapolation points further to the great unity of nature in the complex structure of the cosmos and to the mystery of man’s place within it. The complexity and greatness of contemporary science in all that it enables man to know about nature has direct repercussions for human beings. Only man can constantly expand his knowledge of truth and order it wisely for his good and that of his environment.

In your discussions, you have sought to examine, on the one hand, the ongoing dialectic of the constant expansion of scientific research, methods and specializations and, on the other, the quest for a comprehensive vision of this universe in which human beings, endowed with intelligence and freedom, are called to understand, love, live and work. In our time the availability of powerful instruments of research and the potential for highly complicated and precise experiments have enabled the natural sciences to approach the very foundations of corporeal reality as such, even if they do not manage to understand completely its unifying structure and ultimate unity. The unending succession and the patient integration of various theories, where results once achieved serve in turn as the presuppositions for new research, testify both to the unity of the scientific process and to the constant impetus of scientists towards a more appropriate understanding of the truth of nature and a more inclusive vision of it. We may think here, for example, of the efforts of science and technology to reduce the various forms of energy to one elementary fundamental force, which now seems to be better expressed in the emerging approach of complexity as a basis for explanatory models. If this fundamental force no longer seems so simple, this challenges researchers to elaborate a broader formulation capable of embracing both the simplest and the most complex systems.

Such an interdisciplinary approach to complexity also shows too that the sciences are not intellectual worlds disconnected from one another and from reality but rather that they are interconnected and directed to the study of nature as a unified, intelligible and harmonious reality in its undoubted complexity. Such a vision has fruitful points of contact with the view of the universe taken by Christian philosophy and theology, with its notion of participated being, in which each individual creature, possessed of its proper perfection, also shares in a specific nature and this within an ordered cosmos originating in God’s creative Word. It is precisely this inbuilt “logical” and “analogical” organization of nature that encourages scientific research and draws the human mind to discover the horizontal co-participation between beings and the transcendental participation by the First Being. The universe is not chaos or the result of chaos, rather, it appears ever more clearly as an ordered complexity which allows us to rise, through comparative analysis and analogy, from specialization towards a more universalizing viewpoint and vice versa. While the very first moments of the cosmos and life still elude scientific observation, science nonetheless finds itself pondering a vast set of processes which reveals an order of evident constants and correspondences and serves as essential components of permanent creation.

It is within this broader context that I would note how fruitful the use of analogy has proved for philosophy and theology, not simply as a tool of horizontal analysis of nature’s realities, but also as a stimulus to creative thinking on a higher transcendental plane. Precisely because of the notion of creation, Christian thought has employed analogy not only for the investigation of worldly realities, but also as a means of rising from the created order to the contemplation of its Creator, with due regard for the principle that God’s transcendence implies that every similarity with his creatures necessarily entails a greater dissimilarity: whereas the structure of the creature is that of being a being by participation, that of God is that of being a being by essence, or Esse subsistens. In the great human enterprise of striving to unlock the mysteries of man and the universe, I am convinced of the urgent need for continued dialogue and cooperation between the worlds of science and of faith in the building of a culture of respect for man, for human dignity and freedom, for the future of our human family and for the long-term sustainable development of our planet. Without this necessary interplay, the great questions of humanity leave the domain of reason and truth, and are abandoned to the irrational, to myth, or to indifference, with great damage to humanity itself, to world peace and to our ultimate destiny.

Dear friends, as I conclude these reflections, I would like to draw your attention to the Year of Faith which the Church is celebrating in commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. In thanking you for the Academy’s specific contribution to strengthening the relationship between reason and faith, I assure you of my close interest in your activities and my prayers for you and your families. Upon all of you I invoke Almighty God’s blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

 

Below please find the concluding statement of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Complexity and Analogy in Science: Theoretical, Methodological and Epistemological Aspects

In the past decades scientific investigations have been quite successful by reductionistic research approaches. But scientists are ever more aware that their specific knowledge obtained so far will have to become integrated into a more holistic understanding of the reality of nature, which shows ever higher degrees of complexity and analogy. Evidence of this can be found, for example, in micro and macro physics as well as in biological systems. The Council presumes that most of our Academicians will be able to contribute with their personal view and experience to the proposed topic. This can offer a welcome occasion to learn from one another and to outline promising approaches for future scientific investigations.

The concept of complexity in science has many different meanings with regard to theoretical, methodological and epistemological aspects, while its basic meaning remains stable. It is, first of all, the theory of nonlinear complex systems, which is used with regard to physics and quantum systems as well as to cellular organisms and the brain. The aim of the Plenary Session is to explore the important concept of complexity in science in general and in different scientific disciplines. Are the concepts used analogous, or can a phenomenon be, for instance, complex from the biological point of view, but not from the physical one? Shall our practice just ignore problems we cannot currently handle – or can science render apparently complex systems in simple underlying theories? Furthermore, is there a difference between complex and complicated such that some complex systems are not actually complicated even though all complicated systems are indeed complex? In general, complexity has become an important area of research in several disciplines in the last decades. For instance, the complexity and the ensuing unpredictability of weather systems has been known for a long time.

In systemic approaches to fully understand functions and evolution of life, one may have to consider each individual organism as a complex system of biological functions, then each ecosystem as a complex system of mutually interactive organisms belonging to different species, and finally, the entire living world together with its different habitats as a large planetary system

 

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Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran Message to Hindus

"May Fellowship and Fraternity Shine Forth More"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 8, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the message sent by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, addressed to Hindus on the Feast of Diwali.

* * *

MESSAGE FOR THE FEAST OF DEEPVALI (DIWALI) 2012

Dear Hindu Friends,

1. The Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue sends its warmest greetings and congratulations on the occasion of this year’s Deepavali celebrations. May fellowship and fraternity shine forth more and more in your families and communities.

2. At this point in time in human history, when various negative forces threaten the legitimate aspirations in many regions of the world for peaceful co-existence, we would like to use this cherished tradition of sharing with you a reflection to explore the responsibility that Hindus, Christians and others have in doing everything possible to form all people, especially the young generation, into peace-makers.

3. Peace is not merely absence of war, nor is it a pact or treaty which ensures a tranquil life; rather, it is being complete and intact, a restoration of harmony (cf.BENEDICT XVI, Ecclesia in Medio Oriente, 9) and a fruit of charity. Parents, teachers, elders, religious and political leaders, peace-workers, those in the world of communications and all those who have the cause of peace at heart are called to educate the young generation, and are called to foster such wholeness.

4. To form young men and women into people of peace and builders of peace is an urgent summons to collective engagement and common action. If peace is to be authentic and enduring, it must be built on the pillars of truth, justice, love and freedom (cf.JOHN XXIII, Pacem in Terris, 35), and all young men and women need to be taught above all to act truthfully and justly in love and freedom. Furthermore, in all education for peace, cultural differences ought surely to be treated as a richness rather than a threat or danger.

5. The family is the first school of peace and the parents the primary educators for peace. By their example and teachings, they have the unique privilege of forming their children in values that are essential for peaceful living: mutual trust, respect, understanding, listening, sharing, caring and forgiving. In schools, colleges and universities, as young people mature by relating, studying and working with others from different religions and cultures, their teachers and others responsible for their training have the noble task of ensuring an education that respects and celebrates the innate dignity of all human beings and promotes friendship, justice, peace and cooperation for integral human development. With spiritual and moral values as the bedrock of education, it becomes their ethical imperative also to caution the students against ideologies that cause discord and division.

While states and individual leaders in the social, political and cultural fields, generally have their own important roles to play in strengthening the education of the young, religious leaders in particular, by reason of their vocation to be spiritual and moral leaders, must continue to inspire the young generation to walk the path of peace and to become messengers of peace. Since all means of communication greatly shape the way people think, feel and act, those involved in these fields must, to the utmost possible extent, contribute to promoting thoughts, words, and works of peace. Indeed, young people themselves ought to live up to the ideals they set for others, by employing their freedom responsibly and by promoting cordial relationships for a culture of peace.

6. Evidently, the wholeness which peace conveys will shape a more fraternal world and a “new kind of fraternity” among people in which “a shared sense of the greatness of each person” will prevail. (cf. BENEDICT XVI, Apostolic Journey to Lebanon, Meeting with Members of the Government, Institutions of the Republic, the Diplomatic Corps, Religious leaders and Representatives from the world of culture, 15 September 2012).

7. May all of us seek, always and everywhere, to adhere to the moral and religious imperative to inspire the young as they strive to become peace-makers.Wish you all a Blessed Deepavali!

Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, President

P. Miguel Ángel Ayuso Guixot, M.C.C.J.Secretary

 

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Pope Benedict XVI's Intervention at the Synod of Bishops

"The Lord is Present and Powerful"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Intervention at the final day of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before expressing my gratitude I would like to make an announcement. In the context of the reflections of the Synod of Bishops [on] “The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith" and at the conclusion of a path of reflection on the topics of seminaries and catechesis, I am pleased to tell you that I have decided, after prayer and subsequent reflection, to transfer the oversight of seminaries from the Congregation for Catholic Education to the Congregation for the Clergy and the oversight of catechesis from the Congregation for the Clergy to the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization.

The pertinent documents will follow in the form of apostolic letters motu proprio to define the areas of oversight and respective faculties. We pray to the Lord that he will accompany the 3 dicasteries of the Roman Curia in their important mission with the assistance of the whole Church.

Already having the floor, I would also like to express my most cordial greetings to the new cardinals. I wished, with this little consistory, to complete the consistory in February, precisely in the context of the new evangelization, with a gesture of the Church’s universality, showing that the Church is the Church of all peoples, speaking all languages, she is always the Church of Pentecost; she not the Church of a continent but the universal Church. This was exactly my intention, to express this context, this universality of the Church; it is also the beautiful expression of this Synod. For me it has truly been edifying, consoling and encouraging to see here the mirror of the universal Church with her sufferings, threats, perils and joys, experiences of the Lord’s presence even in difficult situations.

We have heard how the Church grows, lives today as well. I think, for example, of what we were told of Cambodia, where the Church, the faith is reborn; or about Norway, and many other places. We see how today too, where it was unexpected, the Lord is present and powerful and the Lord is working even through our labors and our reflections.

Even if the Church feels contrary winds, nevertheless she feels the wind of the Holy Spirit who helps us, who shows us the right road; and so, we are on our way, it seems to me, with new enthusiasm, and we thank the Lord for granting this truly catholic gathering. I thank everyone: the Synod fathers, the auditors, with the often truly moving witness, the experts, the fraternal delegates who helped us; and we know that we all wish to proclaim Christ and his Gospel and to fight, in this difficult time, for the presence of Christ’s truth and its proclamation.

I would above all like to thank our presidents who have guided us gently and decisively, the speakers, who worked day and night. I think it is somewhat against the natural law to work even at night, but if they do it freely they can be thanked and we must be grateful; and, naturally, I would like to thank our general secretary, who was indefatigable and rich with ideas.

Now these “propositiones” are a testament, a gift, given to me by us, to develop into a document that comes from life and must generate life. Let us hope for this and for pray for it; in any case, let us go forward with the Lord’s help. I thank all of you. I will see many of you again in November at the consistory. Thank you.

 

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Final List of Propositions of the Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- For the Final List of the Propositions of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith, go to http://www.zenit.org/article-35831?l=english.

 

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Pope's Homily at Concluding Mass of the Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's homily at the Closing Mass of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. The mass was held in St. Peter's Basilica.

* * *

Dear Brother Bishops,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The miracle of the healing of blind Bartimaeus comes at a significant point in the structure of Saint Mark’s Gospel. It is situated at the end of the section on the "journey to Jerusalem", that is, Jesus’ last pilgrimage to the Holy City, for the Passover, in which he knows that his passion, death and resurrection await him. In order to ascend to Jerusalem from the Jordan valley, Jesus passes through Jericho, and the meeting with Bartimaeus occurs as he leaves the city – in the evangelist’s words, "as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great multitude" (10:46). This is the multitude that soon afterwards would acclaim Jesus as Messiah on his entry into Jerusalem. Sitting and begging by the side of the road was Bartimaeus, whose name means "son of Timaeus", as the evangelist tells us. The whole of Mark’s Gospel is a journey of faith, which develops gradually under Jesus’ tutelage. The disciples are the first actors on this journey of discovery, but there are also other characters who play an important role, and Bartimaeus is one of them. His is the last miraculous healing that Jesus performs before his passion, and it is no accident that it should be that of a blind person, someone whose eyes have lost the light. We know from other texts too that the state of blindness has great significance in the Gospels. It represents man who needs God’s light, the light of faith, if he is to know reality truly and to walk the path of life. It is essential to acknowledge one’s blindness, one’s need for this light, otherwise one could remain blind for ever (cf. Jn 9:39-41).

Bartimaeus, then, at that strategic point of Mark’s account, is presented as a model. He was not blind from birth, but he lost his sight. He represents man who has lost the light and knows it, but has not lost hope: he knows how to seize the opportunity to encounter Jesus and he entrusts himself to him for healing. Indeed, when he hears that the Master is passing along the road, he cries out: "Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mk 10:47), and he repeats it even louder (v. 48). And when Jesus calls him and asks what he wants from him, he replies: "Master, let me receive my sight!" (v. 51). Bartimaeus represents man aware of his pain and crying out to the Lord, confident of being healed. His simple and sincere plea is exemplary, and indeed – like that of the publican in the Temple: "God, be merciful to me a sinner" (Lk 18:13) – it has found its way into the tradition of Christian prayer. In the encounter with Christ, lived with faith, Bartimaeus regains the light he had lost, and with it the fullness of his dignity: he gets back onto his feet and resumes the journey, which from that moment has a guide, Jesus, and a path, the same that Jesus is travelling. The evangelist tells us nothing more about Bartimaeus, but in him he shows us what discipleship is: following Jesus "along the way" (v. 52), in the light of faith.

Saint Augustine, in one of his writings, makes a striking comment about the figure of Bartimaeus, which can be interesting and important for us today. He reflects on the fact that in this case Mark indicates not only the name of the person who is healed, but also the name of his father, and he concludes that "Bartimaeus, the son of Timaeus, had fallen from some position of great prosperity, and was now regarded as an object of the most notorious and the most remarkable wretchedness, because, in addition to being blind, he had also to sit begging. And this is also the reason, then, why Mark has chosen to mention only the one whose restoration to sight acquired for the miracle a fame as widespread as was the notoriety which the man’s misfortune itself had gained" (On the Consensus of the Evangelists, 2, 65, 125: PL 34, 1138). Those are Saint Augustine’s words.

This interpretation, that Bartimaeus was a man who had fallen from a condition of "great prosperity", causes us to think. It invites us to reflect on the fact that our lives contain precious riches that we can lose, and I am not speaking of material riches here. From this perspective, Bartimaeus could represent those who live in regions that were evangelized long ago, where the light of faith has grown dim and people have drifted away from God, no longer considering him relevant for their lives. These people have therefore lost a precious treasure, they have "fallen" from a lofty dignity – not financially or in terms of earthly power, but in a Christian sense – their lives have lost a secure and sound direction and they have become, often unconsciously, beggars for the meaning of existence. They are the many in need of a new evangelization, that is, a new encounter with Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God (cf. Mk 1:1), who can open their eyes afresh and teach them the path. It is significant that the liturgy puts the Gospel of Bartimaeus before us today, as we conclude the Synodal Assembly on the New Evangelization. This biblical passage has something particular to say to us as we grapple with the urgent need to proclaim Christ anew in places where the light of faith has been weakened, in places where the fire of God is more like smouldering cinders, crying out to be stirred up, so that they can become a living flame that gives light and heat to the whole house.

The new evangelization applies to the whole of the Church’s life. It applies, in the first instance, to the ordinary pastoral ministry that must be more animated by the fire of the Spirit, so as to inflame the hearts of the faithful who regularly take part in community worship and gather on the Lord’s day to be nourished by his word and by the bread of eternal life. I would like here to highlight three pastoral themes that have emerged from the Synod. The first concerns the sacraments of Christian initiation. It has been reaffirmed that appropriate catechesis must accompany preparation for Baptism, Confirmation and Eucharist. The importance of Confession, the sacrament of God’s mercy, has also been emphasized. This sacramental journey is where we encounter the Lord’s call to holiness, addressed to all Christians. In fact it has often been said that the real protagonists of the new evangelization are the saints: they speak a language intelligible to all through the example of their lives and their works of charity.

Secondly, the new evangelization is essentially linked to the Missio ad Gentes. The Church’s task is to evangelize, to proclaim the message of salvation to those who do not yet know Jesus Christ. During the Synod, it was emphasized that there are still many regions in Africa, Asia and Oceania whose inhabitants await with lively expectation, sometimes without being fully aware of it, the first proclamation of the Gospel. So we must ask the Holy Spirit to arouse in the Church a new missionary dynamism, whose progatonists are, in particular, pastoral workers and the lay faithful. Globalization has led to a remarkable migration of peoples. So the first proclamation is needed even in countries that were evangelized long ago. All people have a right to know Jesus Christ and his Gospel: and Christians, all Christians – priests, religious and lay faithful – have a corresponding duty to proclaim the Good News.

A third aspect concerns the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism. During the Synod, it was emphasized that such people are found in all continents, especially in the most secularized countries. The Church is particularly concerned that they should encounter Jesus Christ anew, rediscover the joy of faith and return to religious practice in the community of the faithful. Besides traditional and perennially valid pastoral methods, the Church seeks to adopt new ones, developing new language attuned to the different world cultures, proposing the truth of Christ with an attitude of dialogue and friendship rooted in God who is Love. In various parts of the world, the Church has already set out on this path of pastoral creativity, so as to bring back those who have drifted away or are seeking the meaning of life, happiness and, ultimately, God. We may recall some important city missions, the "Courtyard of the Gentiles", the continental mission, and so on. There is no doubt that the Lord, the Good Shepherd, will abundantly bless these efforts which proceed from zeal for his Person and his Gospel.

Dear brothers and sisters, Bartimaeus, on regaining his sight from Jesus, joined the crowd of disciples, which must certainly have included others like him, who had been healed by the Master. New evangelizers are like that: people who have had the experience of being healed by God, through Jesus Christ. And characteristic of them all is a joyful heart that cries out with the Psalmist: "What marvels the Lord worked for us: indeed we were glad" (Ps 125:3). Today, we too turn to the Lord Jesus,Redemptor hominis and lumen gentium, with joyful gratitude, making our own a prayer of Saint Clement of Alexandria: "until now I wandered in the hope of finding God, but since you enlighten me, O Lord, I find God through you and I receive the Father from you, I become your coheir, since you did not shrink from having me for your brother. Let us put away, then, let us put away all blindness to the truth, all ignorance: and removing the darkness that obscures our vision like fog before the eyes, let us contemplate the true God ...; since a light from heaven shone down upon us who were buried in darkness and imprisoned in the shadow of death, [a light] purer than the sun, sweeter than life on this earth" (Protrepticus, 113: 2 – 114:1). Amen.

[Original text: Italian]

 

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ANGELUS

On the Conclusion of the Synod of Bishops

"The Synod is Always a Moment of Vibrant Ecclesial Communion"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus before the end of the Mass of the Closing of Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

The 13th Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops was concluded with the Holy Mass celebrated in the Basilica of St. Peter this morning. For 3 weeks we dealt with the reality of the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith: the whole Church was represented and, thus, involved in this work, with will not fail to bear its fruits with the Lord’s grace. First of all, however, the Synod is always a moment of vibrant ecclesial communion, and I would to thank God for this together with all of you. He has once again made us experience the beauty of being Church, and to be it precisely today, in this world as it is, in the midst of this humanity with its toils and its hopes.

It was very significant that this synodal assembly coincided with the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II, and so with the beginning of the Year of Faith. Thinking again of Bl. John XXIII, of the Servant of God Paul VI, of the conciliar season, was quite helpful because it helped us to recognize that the new evangelization is not our invention but a dynamism that developed in the Church in a special way beginning in the 1950’s, when it appeared that even the countries with an ancient Christian tradition had become, as is often said, “mission territory.” Thus there emerged the need for s renewed proclamation of the Gospel in the secularized societies, with the twofold certainty that, on the one hand, it is only he, Jesus Christ, the one who is truly new, who answers to the expectations of the men of every age, and, on the other hand, that his message must be transmitted in changed social and cultural contexts.

What can we say at the end of these days of intense work? For my part, I listened to and gathered many points for reflection and many proposals that, with the help of the secretariat of the Synod and my collaborators, I will try to order and elaborate so as to offer to the whole Church an organic synthesis and coherent teaching. From this moment we can say that there has emerged from this Synod a strengthened commitment to the spiritual renewal of the Church herself so as to spiritually renew the secularized world; and this renewal will come from the rediscovery of Jesus Christ, of his truth and of his grace, of his “countenance” so human and so divine upon which the mystery of God’s transcendence shines.

We entrust to the Virgin Mary the fruits of the word of this synodal meeting just concluded. May she, Star of the new evangelization, teach us an help us to bring all to Christ, with courage and joy.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I begin with a request.

In recent days a devastating hurricane, which struck Cuba, Haiti, Jamaica and the Bahamas with particular violence, has caused many deaths and severe damage, forcing many people to leave their homes. I would like to assure those who have been affected by this natural that I am near to you and that you are in my thoughts and I invite everyone to prayer and solidarity, to alleviate the grief of the families of the victims and to offer help to the thousands who have been injured.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present for this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, Jesus grants sight to the blind man with the words: "Your faith has saved you". As we mark the end of the Synod on the new evangelization, let us renew both our faith in Christ and our commitment to the spread of his Gospel of healing and joy. God bless you and your families!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday and happy feast of All Saints. Have a good Sunday. Thank you!

 

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Pope's Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

"Faith and Hope are Inseparable in the Hearts of Many Migrants"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2012  - Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's message for the 99th World Day of Migrants and Refugees which will be celebrated on January 13, 2013, under the theme "Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope.

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Migrations: Pilgrimage of Faith and Hope

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, recalled that "the Church goes forward together with humanity" (No. 40); therefore "the joys and the hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well. Indeed, nothing genuinely human fails to raise an echo in their hearts" (ibid., 1). The Servant of God Paul VI echoed these words when he called the Church an "expert in humanity" (Populorum Progressio, 13), as did Blessed John Paul II when he stated that the human person is "the primary route that the Church must travel in fulfilling her mission... the way traced out by Christ himself" (Centesimus Annus, 53). In the footsteps of my predecessors, I sought to emphasize in my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate that "the whole Church, in all her being and acting – when she proclaims, when she celebrates, when she performs works of charity – is engaged in promoting integral human development" (No. 11). I was thinking also of the millions of men and women who, for various reasons, have known the experience of migration. Migration is in fact "a striking phenomenon because of the sheer numbers of people involved, the social, economic, political, cultural and religious problems it raises, and the dramatic challenges it poses to nations and the international community" (ibid.,62), for "every migrant is a human person who, as such, possesses fundamental, inalienable rights that must be respected by everyone and in every circumstance" (ibid.).

For this reason, I have chosen to dedicate the 2013 World Day of Migrants and Refugees to the theme "Migrations: pilgrimage of faith and hope", in conjunction with the celebrations marking the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council and the sixtieth anniversary of the promulgation of the Apostolic Constitution Exsul Familia, and at a time when the whole Church is celebrating the Year of Faith, taking up with enthusiasm the challenge of the new evangelization.

Faith and hope are inseparable in the hearts of many migrants, who deeply desire a better life and not infrequently try to leave behind the "hopelessness" of an unpromising future. During their journey many of them are sustained by the deep trust that God never abandons his children; this certainty makes the pain of their uprooting and separation more tolerable and even gives them the hope of eventually returning to their country of origin. Faith and hope are often among the possessions which emigrants carry with them, knowing that with them, "we can face our present: the present, even if it is arduous, can be lived and accepted if it leads towards a goal, if we can be sure of this goal, and if this goal is great enough to justify the effort of the journey" (Spe Salvi, 1).

In the vast sector of migration, the Church shows her maternal concern in a variety of ways. On the one hand, she witnesses the immense poverty and suffering entailed in migration, leading often to painful and tragic situations. This inspires the creation of programmes aimed at meeting emergencies through the generous help of individuals and groups, volunteer associations and movements, parochial and diocesan organizations in cooperation with all people of good will. The Church also works to highlight the positive aspects, the potential and the resources which migrations offer. Along these lines, programmes and centres of welcome have been established to help and sustain the full integration of migrants, asylum seekers and refugees into a new social and cultural context, without neglecting the religious dimension, fundamental for every person’s life. Indeed, it is to this dimension that the Church, by virtue of the mission entrusted to her by Christ, must devote special attention and care: this is her most important and specific task. For Christians coming from various parts of the world, attention to the religious dimension also entails ecumenical dialogue and the care of new communities, while for the Catholic faithful it involves, among other things, establishing new pastoral structures and showing esteem for the various rites, so as to foster full participation in the life of the local ecclesial community. Human promotion goes side by side with spiritual communion, which opens the way "to an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the only Saviour of the world" (Porta Fidei, 6). The Church always offers a precious gift when she guides people to an encounter with Christ, which opens the way to a stable and trustworthy hope.

Where migrants and refugees are concerned, the Church and her various agencies ought to avoid offering charitable services alone; they are also called to promote real integration in a society where all are active members and responsible for one another’s welfare, generously offering a creative contribution and rightfully sharing in the same rights and duties. Emigrants bring with them a sense of trust and hope which has inspired and sustained their search for better opportunities in life. Yet they do not seek simply to improve their financial, social and political condition. It is true that the experience of migration often begins in fear, especially when persecutions and violence are its cause, and in the trauma of having to leave behind family and possessions which had in some way ensured survival. But suffering, great losses and at times a sense of disorientation before an uncertain future do not destroy the dream of being able to build, with hope and courage, a new life in a new country. Indeed, migrants trust that they will encounter acceptance, solidarity and help, that they will meet people who sympathize with the distress and tragedy experienced by others, recognize the values and resources the latter have to offer, and are open to sharing humanly and materially with the needy and disadvantaged. It is important to realize that "the reality of human solidarity, which is a benefit for us, also imposes a duty" (Caritas in Veritate, 43). Migrants and refugees can experience, along with difficulties, new, welcoming relationships which enable them to enrich their new countries with their professional skills, their social and cultural heritage and, not infrequently, their witness of faith, which can bring new energy and life to communities of ancient Christian tradition, and invite others to encounter Christ and to come to know the Church.

Certainly every state has the right to regulate migration and to enact policies dictated by the general requirements of the common good, albeit always in safeguarding respect for the dignity of each human person. The right of persons to migrate – as the Council’s Constitution Gaudium et Spes, No. 65, recalled – is numbered among the fundamental human rights, allowing persons to settle wherever they consider best for the realization of their abilities, aspirations and plans. In the current social and political context, however, even before the right to migrate, there is need to reaffirm the right not to emigrate, that is, to remain in one’s homeland; as Blessed John Paul II stated: "It is a basic human right to live in one’s own country. However this rights become effective only if the factors that urge people to emigrate are constantly kept under control" (Address to the Fourth World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Refugees, 9 October 1998). Today in fact we can see that many migrations are the result of economic instability, the lack of essential goods, natural disasters, wars and social unrest. Instead of a pilgrimage filled with trust, faith and hope, migration then becomes an ordeal undertaken for the sake of survival, where men and women appear more as victims than as agents responsible for the decision to migrate. As a result, while some migrants attain a satisfactory social status and a dignified level of life through proper integration into their new social setting, many others are living at the margins, frequently exploited and deprived of their fundamental rights, or engaged in forms of behaviour harmful to their host society. The process of integration entails rights and duties, attention and concern for the dignified existence of migrants; it also calls for attention on the part of migrants to the values offered by the society to which they now belong.

In this regard, we must not overlook the question of irregular migration, an issue all the more pressing when it takes the form of human trafficking and exploitation, particularly of women and children. These crimes must be clearly condemned and prosecuted, while an orderly migration policy which does not end up in a hermetic sealing of borders, more severe sanctions against irregular migrants and the adoption of measures meant to discourage new entries, could at least limit for many migrants the danger of falling prey to such forms of human trafficking. There is an urgent need for structured multilateral interventions for the development of the countries of departure, effective countermeasures aimed at eliminating human trafficking, comprehensive programmes regulating legal entry, and a greater openness to considering individual cases calling for humanitarian protection more than political asylum. In addition to suitable legislation, there is a need for a patient and persevering effort to form minds and consciences. In all this, it is important to strengthen and develop understanding and cooperation between ecclesial and other institutions devoted to promoting the integral development of the human person. In the Christian vision, social and humanitarian commitment draws its strength from fidelity to the Gospel, in the knowledge that "to follow Christ, the perfect man, is to become more human oneself" (Gaudium et Spes, 41).

Dear brothers and sisters who yourselves are migrants, may this World Day help you renew your trust and hope in the Lord who is always at our side! Take every opportunity to encounter him and to see his face in the acts of kindness you receive during your pilgrimage of migration. Rejoice, for the Lord is near, and with him you will be able to overcome obstacles and difficulties, treasuring the experiences of openness and acceptance that many people offer you. For "life is like a voyage on the sea of history, often dark and stormy, a voyage in which we watch for the stars that indicate the route. The true stars of our life are the people who have lived good lives. They are lights of hope. Certainly, Jesus Christ is the true light, the sun that has risen above all the shadows of history. But to reach him we also need lights close by – people who shine with his light and so guide us along our way" (Spe Salvi, 49).

I entrust each of you to the Blessed Virgin Mary, sign of sure hope and consolation, our "guiding star", who with her maternal presence is close to us at every moment of our life. To all I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.

 

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Pope Benedict: "The 'Way of Beauty' Leads 'Mind and Heart to the Lord'"

Documentary Explores Links Between Art and Faith

ROME, OCTOBER 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On Thursday evening, Pope Benedict XVI attended an official viewing of the new documentary film entitled "Art and Faith," which was projected onto a large screen in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall.

The Polish film studied the link between art and faith as found throughout the Vatican Museums, exploring the religious, historical, and cultural significance of the paintings and sculptures found throughout them.

After film, the Holy Father noted the significance that the release of the documentary coincides with the beginning of the Year of Faith. The Vatican Museums provide the opportunity, Pope Benedict explained, to spread the message of Christianity for those who come to Rome. For many of these visitors, the Museums become "the strongest contact, sometimes the only one, with the Holy See.”

"One could say that the artistic heritage of Vatican City constitutes a sort of grand "parable" through which the Pope speaks to men and women from around the world… The language of art is a 'parabolic' language, with a special openness to the universal: the 'Way of Beauty' is a way capable of leading the mind and heart to the Lord, to elevate them to the heights of God."

Pope Benedict continued by saying he was pleased by the homage paid "to the great sensitivity to the dialogue between art and faith of my beloved Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II."

The Holy Father concluded: "Art and faith: a combination that accompanies the Church and the Holy See for two thousand years; a combination that we need even more today in our commitment to announcing to the men and women of our time the Gospel of a God who is infinite Beauty and Love."

 

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Pope's Homily at 500th Anniversary of the Sistine Chapel's Inauguration

"Contemplated in Prayer, the Sistine Chapel is Even More Beautiful"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 2, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily that Pope Benedict XVI gave during the  celebration of the First Vespers of the solemnity of All Saints in the Sistine Chapel, on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Chapel’s inauguration.

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Venerable Brothers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this liturgy of the First Vespers of the solemnity of All Saints, we commemorate the act in which 500 years ago Pope Julius inaugurated the fresco of the ceiling of this Sistine Chapel. I thank Cardinal Bertello for the words he addressed to me and I cordially greet all those present.

Why should we recall such an historical, artistic event in a liturgical celebration? First of all because the Sistine is, by its nature, the liturgical hall, it is the great Chapel of the Apostolic Vatican Palace. In addition, because the artistic works that decorate it, in particular the series of frescoes, find in the liturgy, so to speak, their vital environment, the context in which they express best all their beauty, all the richness and the gestation of their meaning. It is as if, during the liturgical action, this whole symphony of figures comes to life, certainly in a spiritual sense, but inseparably also aesthetic, because the perception of the artistic form is a typically human act and, as such, involves the senses and the spirit. In short, contemplated in prayer, the Sistine Chapel is even more beautiful, more authentic; it reveals itself in all its richness.

Here everything lives; everything resonates, from contact with the Word of God. We heard the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews: "you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering …" (12:22-23). The author addresses the Christians and explains that the promises of the Old Covenant have been realized for them: a celebration of communion which has God as its center, and Jesus, the immolated and risen Lamb (cf. 23-24). This whole dynamic of promise and fulfillment we have here represented in the frescoes of these long walls, work of great Umbrian and Tuscan painters of the second half of the 15th century. And when the biblical text continues saying that we have come close "to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect” (verse 23), our gaze rises to Michelangelo’s Last Judgment, where the blue background of the sky, recalled in the mantle of the Virgin Mary, gives a ray of hope to the entire vision, which is quite dramatic. “Christe, redemptor omnium, / conserva tuos famulos, / beatae semper Virginis / placates sanctis precibus” – says the first verse of the Latin hymn of these Vespers. And it is in fact what we see: Christ the Redeemer at the center, crowned by his Saints, beside him Mary in an act of suppliant intercession , as though wishing to mitigate the tremendous judgment.

However, this evening, our attention goes mainly to the great fresco of the ceiling, which Michelangelo, by request of Julius II, executed in about four years, from 1508 to 1512. The great artist, already famous for masterpieces of sculpture, undertook the enterprise of painting more than one thousand square meters of plaster, and we can imagine that the effect produced on those who saw it for the first time must have really been impressive. Precipitated from this immense fresco on Italian and European art – said Wolfflin in 1899 with a beautiful and now famous metaphor – was something like a "violent storm that is the bearer of happiness and at the same time of devastation": nothing remained as it was before. Giorgio Vasari, in a famous passage of the Lives, wrote very effectively: "This work was and is truly the lamp of our art that gave so much benefit and light to the art of painting, which has been sufficient to illuminate the world."

Lamp, light, illuminate: three words of Vasari which were not far from the heart of those present at the celebration of Vespers of that October 31, 1512. However, it is not a question of light that comes from the wise use of color rich in contrasts, or the movement that animates Michelangelo’s masterpiece, but of the idea that runs through the great ceiling: it is the light of God that illuminates these frescos and the whole Papal Chapel. That light that with its power conquers chaos and darkness to give life: in creation and in redemption. And the Sistine Chapel tells this story of light, of deliverance, of salvation; it speaks of God’s relationship with humanity. With the brilliant ceiling of Michelangelo, our gaze is driven to go over the message of the prophets, to which are added the pagan Sibyls in expectation of Christ, to the beginning of everything: “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” (Genesis 1:1). With unique expressive intensity, the great artist designed the Creator God, his action, his power, to say with evidence that the world is not produced from darkness, by chance, by the absurd, but derives from intelligence, from a liberty, from a supreme act of Love. In that meeting between the finger of God and that of man, we perceive the contact between heaven and earth; in Adam God enters into a new relationship with his creation, man is in direct relationship with Him, is called by Him, is in the image and likeness of God.

Twenty years later, in the Universal Judgment, Michelangelo concluded the great parable of humanity’s journey, driving one’s gaze to the fulfillment of this reality of the world and of man, to the definitive meeting with Christ Judge of the living and the dead.

To pray this evening in this Sistine Chapel, enveloped in the history of God’s journey with man, wonderfully represented in the frescos which are above us and surround us, is an invitation to praise, an invitation to raise to God the Creator, Redeemer and Judge of the living and of the dead, with all the Saints of Heaven, the words of the canticle of Revelation: “Amen, alleluia. […] Praise our God, all you his servants, you who fear him, small and great! […] Alleluia. […] Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory” (19:4a.5.7a). Amen

 

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On God's Love

"Let us Love the Lord in this way, and Our Neighbor as Ourselves"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

This Sunday’s Gospel (Matthew 12:28-34) re-proposes Jesus teaching about the great commandment: the commandment of love, which is twofold: we must love God and love our neighbor. The saints, all of whom we celebrated a few days ago in a solemn feast, are precisely those who, trusting in God’s grace, seek to live according to this fundamental law.

The commandment of love can be put fully into practice by those who live in a deep relationship with God, precisely in the way that a child becomes capable of living through a good relationship to his mother and father. St. Juan of Avila, who a short time ago I proclaimed a Doctor of the Church, writes at the beginning of this “Treatise on the Love of God”: “That which most moves our heart to love God is the profound consideration of the love he had for us ... This, more than the benefits we receive from him, moves the heart to love; because he who gives some good to another gives him something that he has; but he who loves, gives himself with everything he has, so that he has nothing else to give.” Before being a commandment, love is a gift, a reality that God makes us know and experience in such a way that like a seed, it can germinate within us and develop in our life.

If God’s love has sunk deep roots in a person, he is able to love even those who do not merit this love, just as God loves us. Fathers and mothers do not love their children only when they merit it: they love them always, even if, of course, they make them understand when they have made mistakes. From God we learn to will always and only the good and never evil. We learn to look upon others not only with our own eyes but with the gaze of God, which is the gaze of Jesus Christ. It is a look that comes from the heart and does not stop at the surface; it goes beyond appearances and succeeds in grasping the expectations of the other: of being listened to, of being gratuitously attended to; in a word, of being loved. But there is also the inverse path: opening myself to the other as he is, reaching out to him, making myself available, I open myself also to knowing God, to knowing that he exists and that he is good. Love of God and love of neighbor are inseparable and reciprocally related. Jesus did not invent either of them, but he revealed that they are, at bottom, a single commandment, and he did this not only with words, but above all with his witness: the very Person of Jesus and his whole mystery incarnate the unity of the love of God and neighbor, like the 2 lines of the cross, the vertical and the horizontal. In the Eucharist he grants us a twofold love, giving us himself, so that, nourished by this Bread, we love each other as he loved us.

Dear friends, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, let us pray that every Christian know how to show his faith in the one true God with a clear witness of love of neighbor.

 

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors, especially those from the London Oratory School, from Holy Rosary Parish in Billingham-on-Tees, and from Saint Philip’s School, London. Jesus teaches us that those who love the Lord with all their heart, soul, mind and strength are not far from the Kingdom. Let us love the Lord in this way, and our neighbour as ourselves. May God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Thanks for your attention. Have a good Sunday!

 

------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Pope's Homily at Memorial Mass for Deceased Cardinals and Bishops

"The Shepherds Whom We Remember Today Have, In Fact, Served the Church with Fidelity and Love"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily during Mass on Saturday for the repose of the Cardinals and Bishops who have passed away this year.

 * *

Venerable Brothers,

dear brothers and sisters!

 The Communion of Saints and the commemoration of the faithful who have died are present and live in our hearts. The liturgy has allowed us to experience these in an intense way in the celebrations of the past few days. In particular, visiting cemeteries has helped us to renew our bond with the loved ones who have left us; death, paradoxically, preserves that which life cannot hold onto. The way our dead lived, what they loved, feared and hoped, what they rejected, we discover, in fact, in a special way precisely at their graves, which are almost a mirror of their existence, of their world: they speak to us and lead us to renew the dialogue that death brought to a crisis. Thus, the cemeteries constitute a kind of assembly in which the living meet their dead and strengthen the bonds of communion that death was unable to interrupt. And here in Rome, in these unique cemeteries that are the catacombs, we notice, as in no other place, our link to ancient Christianity, which we feel quite near to us. When we enter into the corridors of the Roman catacombs – just as when we enter the cemeteries of our own cities and towns – it is as if we have crossed over a spiritual threshold and entered into communication with them whose past, with its joys and sorrows, failures and hopes, they safeguard. This happens because death regards the man of today in the same way that it regarded the man of the past; moreover, even if many things of the past have become foreign to us, death has remained the same.

In the face of this reality, human beings of every age seek a glimmer of light that permits hope, that still speaks of life, and visiting cemeteries expresses this desire too. But how do we Christians respond to this question of death? We respond with faith in God, with a look firm with hope founded on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So death opens to life, to eternal life, which is not an infinite doubling of the present time but something completely new. Faith tells us that the true immortality to which we aspire is not an idea, a concept, but a relation of full communion with the living God: it is being in his hands, in his love, and becoming in him one with all our brothers and sisters that he has created and redeemed, with the whole of creation. Our hope, then, rests in God’s love which shines on the Cross of Christ and makes Jesus’ words to the good thief resound in our hearts: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This is life that has reached its fullness, life in God; it is a life that now we can only glimpse as one glimpses calm skies through the clouds.

In this climate of faith and prayer, dear Brothers, we are gathered about the altar to offer the eucharistic Sacrifice on behalf of cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, who over the past year have ended their earthly existence. In a particular way we recall our mourned Brother Cardinals John Patrick Foley, Anthony Bevilacqua, José Sánchez, Ignace Moussa Daoud, Luis Aponte Martínez, Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, Eugênio de Araújo Sales, Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, Carlo Maria Martini, Fortunato Baldelli. We also extend our affectionate remembrance to all of the deceased archbishops and bishops, asking the Lord, who is faithful, just and merciful (cf. Psalm 114), to will to grant them the eternal reward promised to the faithful servants of the Gospel.

Reflection once more upon the witness of these venerable Brothers of ours, we can recognize in them those “meek” disciples, the “merciful,” “pure of heart,” “peacemakers” of which the Gospel passage spoke (Matthew 5:1-12): friends of the Lord who, trusting in his promises through difficulties and even through persecutions, preserved the joy of faith, and now live forever in the Father’s house and enjoy the heavenly recompense, filled with happiness and grace. The Shepherds whom we remember today have, in fact, served the Church with fidelity and love, sometimes confronting burdensome trials to assure the flock entrusted to them their attention and care. In the variety of respective gifts and tasks, they have given an example of mindful vigilance, of wise and zealous dedication to the Kingdom of God, offering a precious contribution to the post-conciliar season, a time of renewal in the whole Church.

The eucharistic Feast that they approached first as laymen and then, daily, as ministers, anticipates in the most eloquent way that which the Lord promised in the “Sermon on the Mount”: the possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the feast of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us pray that this happens for everyone. Our prayer is nourished by this first hope that “does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5), because it is guaranteed by Christ who wished to experience death in the flesh so as to triumph over it with the wondrous event of the Resurrection. “Why do you seek among the dead he who is alive? He is not here, he is risen” (Luke 24:5-6). This announcement by the angels, proclaimed on Easter morning at the empty sepulcher has come down to us through the centuries, and it proposes, in this liturgical assembly as well, the essential reason for our hope. In fact, “if we have died in Christ,” says St. Paul, alluding to what happens in Baptism, “we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). It is the same Holy Spirit – through whom the love of God has been poured into our hearts – that makes it so that our hope is not in vain (cf. Romans 5:5). If God the Father, rich in mercy, handed his only begotten Son over to death while we were still sinners, how will he not grant us salvation now that we are justified through his blood? (cf. Romans 5:6-11). Our justice is based on faith in Christ. He is the “Just One,” proclaimed beforehand in all of the Scriptures; it is by his Paschal Mystery that, crossing over the threshold of death, our eyes are able to see God, to contemplate his face (cf. Job 19:27).

Alongside the singular human existence of the Son of God is that of his Most Holy Mother, who, alone among all creatures, we venerate as the Immaculate and as full of grace. Our brother cardinals and bishops, whom we remember today, were loved with predilection by the Virgin Mary and have returned her love with filial devotion. To her maternal intercession we wish to entrust their souls that they might be introduced into the eternal Kingdom of the Father, surrounded by many members of the flock for whom they gave their life. May Mary watch over with her loving gaze those who sleep in peace in expectation of the blessed resurrection. And, sustained by the hope that we will all meet again one day united forever in Paradise, we lift up our prayer for them to God. Amen.

 

------------------------------------------------------

Pope's Message to His Holiness Anba Tawadros

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2012  - Here is the text of the telegram sent by Pope Benedict XVI to the newly elected Patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt, His Holiness Anba Tawadros, who was chosen yesterday as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark in Cairo.

* * *

His Holiness Anba Tawadros

Pope-Elect of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark

I was filled with joy on learning of your election as pope of Alexandria and patriarch of the see of Saint Mark and I gladly extend to you and to the clergy and faithful of the Coptic Orthodox Church my good wishes and prayerful solidarity, asking the Lord to pour out his abundant blessings upon the lofty ministry you are about to assume. I am confident that, like your renowned predecessor Pope Shenouda III, you will be a genuine spiritual father for your people and an effective partner with all your fellow citizens in building the new Egypt in peace and harmony, serving the common good and the good of the entire Middle East. In these challenging times, it is important for all Christians to bear witness to the love and fellowship that binds them together, mindful of the prayer offered by our Lord at the Last Supper: That all may be one, so that world may believe (cf. Jn. 17:21). I thank the Almighty for the important progress that was made, under the leadership of your esteemed predecessor, in the relations between the Coptic Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church, and I earnestly hope and pray that our continuing friendship and dialogue, guided by the Holy Spirit, will bear fruit in ever closer solidarity and lasting reconciliation. May our Heavenly Father fill you with peace and strength for the noble task that awaits you.

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

 

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

 

Pope's Homily at Memorial Mass for Deceased Cardinals and Bishops

"The Shepherds Whom We Remember Today Have, In Fact, Served the Church with Fidelity and Love"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 4, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father's homily during Mass on Saturday for the repose of the Cardinals and Bishops who have passed away this year.

* * *

Venerable Brothers,

dear brothers and sisters!

 The Communion of Saints and the commemoration of the faithful who have died are present and live in our hearts. The liturgy has allowed us to experience these in an intense way in the celebrations of the past few days. In particular, visiting cemeteries has helped us to renew our bond with the loved ones who have left us; death, paradoxically, preserves that which life cannot hold onto. The way our dead lived, what they loved, feared and hoped, what they rejected, we discover, in fact, in a special way precisely at their graves, which are almost a mirror of their existence, of their world: they speak to us and lead us to renew the dialogue that death brought to a crisis. Thus, the cemeteries constitute a kind of assembly in which the living meet their dead and strengthen the bonds of communion that death was unable to interrupt. And here in Rome, in these unique cemeteries that are the catacombs, we notice, as in no other place, our link to ancient Christianity, which we feel quite near to us. When we enter into the corridors of the Roman catacombs – just as when we enter the cemeteries of our own cities and towns – it is as if we have crossed over a spiritual threshold and entered into communication with them whose past, with its joys and sorrows, failures and hopes, they safeguard. This happens because death regards the man of today in the same way that it regarded the man of the past; moreover, even if many things of the past have become foreign to us, death has remained the same.

In the face of this reality, human beings of every age seek a glimmer of light that permits hope, that still speaks of life, and visiting cemeteries expresses this desire too. But how do we Christians respond to this question of death? We respond with faith in God, with a look firm with hope founded on the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. So death opens to life, to eternal life, which is not an infinite doubling of the present time but something completely new. Faith tells us that the true immortality to which we aspire is not an idea, a concept, but a relation of full communion with the living God: it is being in his hands, in his love, and becoming in him one with all our brothers and sisters that he has created and redeemed, with the whole of creation. Our hope, then, rests in God’s love which shines on the Cross of Christ and makes Jesus’ words to the good thief resound in our hearts: “Today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). This is life that has reached its fullness, life in God; it is a life that now we can only glimpse as one glimpses calm skies through the clouds.

In this climate of faith and prayer, dear Brothers, we are gathered about the altar to offer the eucharistic Sacrifice on behalf of cardinals, archbishops, and bishops, who over the past year have ended their earthly existence. In a particular way we recall our mourned Brother Cardinals John Patrick Foley, Anthony Bevilacqua, José Sánchez, Ignace Moussa Daoud, Luis Aponte Martínez, Rodolfo Quezada Toruño, Eugênio de Araújo Sales, Paul Shan Kuo-hsi, Carlo Maria Martini, Fortunato Baldelli. We also extend our affectionate remembrance to all of the deceased archbishops and bishops, asking the Lord, who is faithful, just and merciful (cf. Psalm 114), to will to grant them the eternal reward promised to the faithful servants of the Gospel.

Reflection once more upon the witness of these venerable Brothers of ours, we can recognize in them those “meek” disciples, the “merciful,” “pure of heart,” “peacemakers” of which the Gospel passage spoke (Matthew 5:1-12): friends of the Lord who, trusting in his promises through difficulties and even through persecutions, preserved the joy of faith, and now live forever in the Father’s house and enjoy the heavenly recompense, filled with happiness and grace. The Shepherds whom we remember today have, in fact, served the Church with fidelity and love, sometimes confronting burdensome trials to assure the flock entrusted to them their attention and care. In the variety of respective gifts and tasks, they have given an example of mindful vigilance, of wise and zealous dedication to the Kingdom of God, offering a precious contribution to the post-conciliar season, a time of renewal in the whole Church.

The eucharistic Feast that they approached first as laymen and then, daily, as ministers, anticipates in the most eloquent way that which the Lord promised in the “Sermon on the Mount”: the possession of the Kingdom of Heaven, in the feast of the heavenly Jerusalem. Let us pray that this happens for everyone. Our prayer is nourished by this first hope that “does not disappoint” (Romans 5:5), because it is guaranteed by Christ who wished to experience death in the flesh so as to triumph over it with the wondrous event of the Resurrection. “Why do you seek among the dead he who is alive? He is not here, he is risen” (Luke 24:5-6). This announcement by the angels, proclaimed on Easter morning at the empty sepulcher has come down to us through the centuries, and it proposes, in this liturgical assembly as well, the essential reason for our hope. In fact, “if we have died in Christ,” says St. Paul, alluding to what happens in Baptism, “we believe that we will also live with him” (Romans 6:8). It is the same Holy Spirit – through whom the love of God has been poured into our hearts – that makes it so that our hope is not in vain (cf. Romans 5:5). If God the Father, rich in mercy, handed his only begotten Son over to death while we were still sinners, how will he not grant us salvation now that we are justified through his blood? (cf. Romans 5:6-11). Our justice is based on faith in Christ. He is the “Just One,” proclaimed beforehand in all of the Scriptures; it is by his Paschal Mystery that, crossing over the threshold of death, our eyes are able to see God, to contemplate his face (cf. Job 19:27).

Alongside the singular human existence of the Son of God is that of his Most Holy Mother, who, alone among all creatures, we venerate as the Immaculate and as full of grace. Our brother cardinals and bishops, whom we remember today, were loved with predilection by the Virgin Mary and have returned her love with filial devotion. To her maternal intercession we wish to entrust their souls that they might be introduced into the eternal Kingdom of the Father, surrounded by many members of the flock for whom they gave their life. May Mary watch over with her loving gaze those who sleep in peace in expectation of the blessed resurrection. And, sustained by the hope that we will all meet again one day united forever in Paradise, we lift up our prayer for them to God. Amen.

 

--------------------------------------------------------

On the Desire for God (Year of Faith)

Our Hearts Are Restless Until They Find Their Rest in God

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 7, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter’s Square. The Holy Father continued his series of catecheses on faith.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The path of reflection that we have undertaken together in this Year of Faith leads us to meditate today on a fascinating aspect of human and Christian experience: man bears within him a mysterious desire for God. Very significantly, the Catechism of the Catholic Church opens with the following statement: "The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God, and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for"(no. 27).

Such a statement, which even today in many cultural contexts seems quite acceptable, almost obvious, might instead seem a provocation in secularized Western culture. Many of our contemporaries could in fact argue that in no way do they feel such a desire for God. For large sections of society, He is no longer the awaited one, the desired one, but rather a reality that leaves people indifferent, in front of which one should not even make the effort to comment. In reality, what we have defined as "the desire of God" has not disappeared completely, and presents itself even today, in many ways, in the heart of man. Human desire tends always to certain concrete goods, often anything but spiritual, yet finds itself before the question of what is really "the" good, and thus finds itself dealing with something that is other than itself, that man cannot create, but which he is called to recognize. What can truly satisfy human desire?

In my first Encyclical, Deus Caritas Est, I tried to analyze how this dynamism takes place in the experience of human love, an experience that in our age is more easily perceived as a moment of ecstasy, a going out of oneself, a place where man realizes he is permeated by a desire that surpasses him. Through love, man and woman experience in a new way, thanks to each other, the grandeur and beauty of life and reality. If what I experience is not a mere illusion, if I truly desire the other's good as a way also to my own good, then I must be willing to de-center myself, to put myself at the other's service, to the point of renouncing myself. The answer to the question about the meaning of the experience of love thus passes through the purification and healing of the will, required by the very love which I have for the other. We must practice this, we must train, and even correct ourselves, so that we may truly desire that good.

The initial ecstasy thus becomes a pilgrimage, "an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God" (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, 6). Through this journey, man will gradually deepen in the knowledge of that love which he had initially experienced. And the mystery which it represents will increasingly stand out: not even the person loved, in fact, can satisfy the desire that dwells in the human heart; on the contrary, the more authentic the love for the other is, the more it allows the question to arise concerning its origin and its destiny, concerning the chance it has of lasting forever. Thus, the human experience of love has within it a dynamism that leads beyond oneself, it is an experience of a good that leads one to go out of oneself and to find oneself before the mystery surrounding the whole of existence.

Similar considerations could also be made with regard to other human experiences, such as friendship, the experience of beauty, the love of knowledge: every good experienced by man reaches out into the mystery surrounding man himself; every desire that arises within the human heart echoes a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied. Certainly, from that deep desire, which also hides something enigmatic, one cannot arrive directly at faith. Man, after all, knows well what does not satisfy him, but he cannot guess or define what would make him experience that happiness the nostalgia of which he carries in his heart. It is not possible to know God on the basis of man's desire alone. From this point of view, the mystery remains: man is the seeker of the Absolute, a seeker who advances through small and uncertain steps. And yet, already the experience of desire, of the "restless heart" as St. Augustine called it, is highly significant. It tells us that man is, deep down, a religious being (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28), a "beggar before God." We can say in the words of Pascal: "Man infinitely surpasses man" (Pensées, ed. Chevalier 438, ed. Brunschvicg 434). Our eyes recognize objects when they are illuminated by the light. Hence the desire to know the light itself, which makes the things of the world shine and with them, enkindles the sense of beauty.

We must therefore believe it possible in our time, so apparently adverse to the dimension of the transcendent, to open a path towards the authentic religious sense of life, which shows how the gift of faith is not absurd, is not irrational. It would be of great use, for that purpose, to promote a kind of pedagogy of desire, both for the path of those who do not yet believe, and for those who have already received the gift of faith. A pedagogy that includes at least two aspects. First, learning or re-learning the taste for the authentic joys of life. Not all the satisfactions produce the same effect in us: some leave a positive trace, they are able to pacify the soul, they make us more active and generous. Others instead, after the initial light, seem to disappoint the expectations they had aroused and sometimes leave behind bitterness, dissatisfaction or a sense of emptiness. Educating individuals from an early age to savor the true joys, in all areas of life - family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, self-denial to serve others, love for knowledge, for art, for the beauties of nature -, all this means exercising that inner taste and producing effective antibodies against the trivialization and flattening prevailing today. Adults, too, need to rediscover these joys, to desire true realities, purifying themselves from the mediocrity in which they find themselves entangled. It will then become easier to drop or reject everything that, while seemingly attractive, instead proves insipid, a source of addiction and not of freedom. And this will cause that desire for God of which we are speaking to emerge.

A second aspect, which goes hand in hand with the previous one, is to never to be satisfied with what has been achieved. It is precisely the truest joys that are capable of freeing in us that healthy unrest that leads us to be more demanding - to desire a higher, more profound good - and at the same time, to perceive with increasing clarity that nothing finite can fill our hearts. Thus we will learn to stretch out, unarmed, towards that good which we cannot construct or procure for ourselves by our own efforts; we will learn not be discouraged by the difficulty involved or by the obstacles that come from our sin.

In this regard, we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption. Even when it advances along mistaken paths, when it chases artificial paradises and seems to lose the ability to yearn for the true good. Even in the abyss of sin, that spark is not extinguished in man that allows him to recognize the true good, to savor it, and thus to begin a path of ascent, for which God, through the gift of his grace, never fails to provide his help. All of us, moreover, need to tread a path of the purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims towards the heavenly homeland, towards that full, eternal good, which nothing will ever be able to snatch from us. It is not a matter, therefore, of stifling the desire which is in the heart of man, but of liberating it, so that it can reach its true stature. When in desire a window is opened towards God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God. St. Augustine also said: "By making us wait, God increases our desire, which in turn enlarges the capacity of our soul" (Commentary on the First Letter of John, 4,6: PL 35, 2009).

In this pilgrimage, let us feel ourselves the brothers of all men, the travelling companions even of those who do not believe, of those who are seeking, of those who allow themselves to be questioned with sincerity by the dynamism of their desire for truth and goodness. Let us pray, in this Year of Faith, that God show his face to all those who seek him with a sincere heart.

------

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Continuing our catechesis for the Year of Faith, we now consider the mysterious desire for God which lies deep in the human heart.  God has created us for himself and, in the words of Saint Augustine: our hearts are restless until they find their rest in him.  Even in today’s secularized society, this desire for God continues to make itself felt, above all in the experience of love.

In love, which seeks the good of the other, we find ourselves by giving ourselves away, in a process involving the purification and healing of our hearts.  So too in friendship, in the experience of beauty and the thirst for truth and goodness: we sense that we are caught up in a process which points us beyond ourselves to a mystery in which we dimly perceive the promise of complete fulfillment.  Thanks to this innate religious sense, we can open our hearts to the gift of faith which draws us ever closer to God, the source of all good and the fulfillment of our deepest desire.  During this Year of Faith, let us pray for our contemporaries who seek the truth with a sincere heart that they may come to know the joy and freedom born of faith.

-----------------

I welcome the Inter-ministerial Delegation for Religious Affairs from Vietnam on official visit to the Vatican.  I also greet the group from Saint Paul High School in Japan.  Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Denmark, Finland, Ghana, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Canada and the United States, I cordially impart God’s abundant blessings.

* * *

Appeal by the Holy Father concerning Syria

I continue to follow with great concern the tragic situation of violent conflict in Syria, where the fighting has not ceased and each day the toll of victims rises, accompanied by the untold suffering of many civilians, especially those who have been forced to abandon their homes.

As a sign of my own solidarity and that of the whole Church for the Syrian people, as well as our spiritual closeness to the Christian communities in that country, I had hoped to send a Delegation of Synod Fathers to Damascus.

Unfortunately, due to a variety of circumstances and developments, it was not possible to carry out this initiative as planned, and so I have decided to entrust a special mission to Cardinal Robert Sarah, President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum".

From today until 10 November, he will be in Lebanon, where he will meet the Pastors and faithful of the Churches present in Syria. He will visit a number of refugees from that country and will chair a meeting of Catholic charitable agencies to coordinate efforts, as the Holy See has urgently requested, to provide assistance to the Syrian people, within and outside the country.

As I make my prayer to God, I renew my invitation to the parties in conflict, and to all those who have the good of Syria at heart, to spare no effort in the search for peace and to pursue through dialogue the path to a just coexistence, in view of a suitable political solution of the conflict.

We must do everything possible because one day it may be too late.

 

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Finally, I wish to address, as usual, the young, the sick and the newlyweds. The day after tomorrow we will celebrate the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John in Lateran, the cathedral of Rome. This event invites you, dear young people, to become living and precious stones, used to build the House of the Lord. It encourages you, dear sick people, to offer to God your daily sacrifice for the good of the whole Christian community; and it pushes you, dear newlyweds, to make your families small domestic churches.

 

-----------------------------------------------------

Vatican Radio translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s general Audience catechesis, the third in his series on the Year of Faith:

Dear brothers and sisters,

The journey of reflection that we are making together this Year of Faith leads us to meditate today on a fascinating aspect of the Human and Christian experience: man carries within himself a mysterious desire for God. In a very significant way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church opens with the following consideration: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for"(No. 27).

Such a statement, which even today in many cultural contexts seems quite acceptable, almost obvious, might instead appear as a provocation in the sphere of secularized Western culture. Many of our contemporaries could, in fact, argue that they do not feel such a desire for God at all. For large sectors of society He is no longer desired, expected, but rather a reality that leaves some indifferent and not even worth wasting one’s breath over. Actually, what we have defined as "desire for God” has not completely disappeared and still today, in many ways, appears in the heart of man. Human desire always tends towards certain tangible assets, which are often far from spiritual, and yet it is still faced with the question of what “the” good really is and as a result confront itself with something other than itself, something that man cannot create, but is called upon to recognize. What can really satisfy man’s desire?

In my first encyclical, Deus caritas est, I tried to analyze how such dynamism is experienced in human love, an experience which in our era is more easily perceived as a moment of ecstasy, of going beyond oneself, as a place where man senses that he is being filled with a desire that is beyond him. Through love, men and women experience in a new way, thanks to one another, the grandeur and beauty of life and of reality. If what I experience is not a mere illusion, if I really want the good of the other as a path towards my own good, then I must be willing to de-centralize myself, to put myself at the service of the other to the point of surrendering myself. The answer to the question about the meaning of the experience of love thus passes through the cleansing and healing of the will, which is required by the very good we want for the other. We have to practise, train and even correct ourselves so that that good may be truly wanted.

The initial ecstasy translates thus becomes a pilgrimage, «an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God» (Enc. Deus caritas est, 6). Through this journey man will gradually deepen his knowledge of that love which he initially experienced. And the mystery which it represents will increasingly come to the fore: not even the beloved, in fact, is able to satiate the desire that dwells in the human heart, indeed, the more authentic the love for each other is, the more the question of its origin, its destiny and its chances of lasting forever emerges. Therefore, the human experience of love has a dynamism that draws us beyond ourselves, it is an experience of a good that leads us beyond ourselves faces us with the mystery that surrounds all existence.

Similar considerations also could also be made about other human experiences, such as friendship, the experience of beauty, love of knowledge: all that is good and experienced by man is projected toward the mystery that surrounds man himself; every wish that arises in the human heart is echoed by a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied. Certainly from that deep desire, which also hides something enigmatic, one cannot arrive straight to faith. Man, after all, knows what does not satisfy, but can't imagine or define that which would make him experience the happiness that hi heart longs for. One cannot know God, beginning simple with man’s desire. From this point of view the mystery remains: the man seeks the Absolute, in small and uncertain steps. And yet, the experience of desire, of the ' restless heart ' as St. Augustine termed it, is very significant. It proves that man is, deep down, a religious being (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 28), a "beggar of God». We can say with the words of Pascal: "man infinitely surpasses man” (Thoughts,. Chevalier 438; ed. Brunschvicg 434). The eyes recognize objects when they are illuminated by light. Hence the desire to know the light itself, which makes the things of the world shine and thus illuminate the sense of beauty.

We therefore must believe that even in our era, seemingly reluctant to the transcendent dimension, that it is possible to open a path toward an authentic religious meaning of life, showing how the gift of faith is not absurd, it is not irrational. It would be of great use, for that purpose, to promote a pedagogy of desire, both for the journey of those who still do not believe and for those who have already received the gift of faith. A pedagogy that includes at least two aspects. First, learning or relearning an authentic taste for the joys of life. Not every satisfactions produces the same effect in us: some leave a positive trace, are able to pacify the soul, make us more active and generous. Others, after an initial light, seem to disappoint the expectations that they had aroused and sometimes leave behind bitterness, dissatisfaction or a sense of emptiness. Educating from people from their childhood to savour the true joys, in all spheres of life – family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, renouncing of oneself to serve others, love for knowledge, for art, for the beauty of nature – this means exercising the inner taste and producing effective antibodies against today’s widespread trivialization and banalization. Adults also need to rediscover these joys, to desire authentic realities, purifying themselves of the mediocrity which may have become involved in. In this way it becomes then easier to leave aside or reject all that while seemingly attractive, turns out to be rather tasteless, a source of addiction, not freedom. And this fosters that desire of God that we're talking about.

A second aspect, which goes hand in hand with the former, is never settling for what has been achieved. The truest joys are able to free in us that healthy restlessness that leads us to be more demanding – to want a higher, deeper good – and also to perceive with increasing clarity that nothing finite can ever fill our hearts. In this way we will learn to reach out, unarmed, towards that good that we cannot build or provide ourselves with by our strengths; to not be discouraged by fatigue or by obstacles born of our sins.

In this regard, we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption. Even when it takes a wrong turn, chasing artificial paradises and seems to lose the ability to yearn for true good. Even in the abyss of sin that spark is still alive in human hearts that enables man to recognize the true good, to savour it, and set out again on the upward climb, on which God, with the gift of His grace, never fails to help. All of us need to tread a path of purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims on the journey toward our Heavenly homeland, towards that full, eternal good, that nothing can every take from us. It is not a question of suffocating the desire that is in the human heart, but of freeing it, so that it can reach its true height. When desire is open to God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God.

In this pilgrimage, all are our brethren, our fellow travellers, even those who do not believe, those who are seeking, those who sincerely question the dynamism of their desire for truth and good. Let us pray, in this Year of faith, that God may shows His face to all who seek him with a sincere heart.

 

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The Church Is the Place Where Faith Is Transmitted (Year of Faith)

by Pope Benedict XVI

Benedict XVI General Audience Address October 31, 2012

Description:

 During his general audience of October 31, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, continuing his catechesis on the subject of Catholic faith, began by posing certain important questions: "Is the nature of faith merely personal and individual? ... Do I live my faith alone?", he asked. "Certainly, the act of faith is an eminently personal act", he told the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. "It is something which happens in the most intimate depths of my being and causes a change of direction, a personal conversion. ... But the fact that I believe is not the result of solitary reflection, ... it is the fruit of a relationship, a dialogue ... with Jesus which causes me to emerge from my 'I' ... and to open myself to the love of God the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I discover that I am united not only to Jesus but also to all those who have walked and continue to walk along His path. And this new birth, which begins with Baptism, continues throughout the course of a person's life.

 Publisher & Date:

 Vatican, October 31, 2012

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

 

Let us continue on our journey of meditations on the Catholic faith. Last week I showed how faith is a gift, because it is God who takes the initiative and comes to meet us, and like this the faith is an answer by which we receive him as the permanent foundation of our life. It is a gift that changes our existence, because it makes us enter into Jesus’ own vision, which works in us and opens us to love for God and for others.

I would like to take another step in our reflection, starting once more with a few questions: Does faith have a solely personal, individual nature? Does it concern only myself? Do I live my faith alone? Of course, the act of faith is an eminently personal act; it happens in the deepest part of us and signals a change in direction through personal conversion. It is my life that changes, that is given a new direction. In the Rite of Baptism, at the moment of the promises, the celebrant asks for a profession of the Catholic faith and formulates three questions: Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ his only Son? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? In ancient times these questions were addressed to the person who was to receive Baptism before being immersed three times in water. And today, too, the answer is one and the same: “I do”. But this faith of mine is not the result of my own solitary reflection, it is not the product of my thought, it is the fruit of a relationship, a dialogue, in which there is a listener, a receiver and a respondent; it is communication with Jesus that draws me out of the “I” enclosed in myself to open me to the love of God, the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I am united not only to Jesus, but also to all those who have walked and are walking on the same path; and this new birth, that begins with Baptism, continues for the rest of my life. I cannot build my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus, because faith is given to me by God through a community of believers that is the Church and projects me into the multitude of believers, into a kind of communion that is not only sociological but rooted in the eternal love of God who is in himself the communion of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, it is Trinitarian Love. Our faith is truly personal, only if it is also communal: it can be my faith only if it dwells in and moves with the “we” of the Church, only if it is our faith, the common faith of the one Church.

On Sunday, in the Holy Mass, reciting the “Creed”, we speak in the first person, but we confess as one the one faith of the Church. That “I believe” said individually joins a vast chorus across time and space, in which each person contributes, so to speak, to the harmonious poliphany in faith. The Catechism of the Catholic Church sums this up in a clear way: thus, “believing” is an act of the Church. The Church's faith precedes, engenders, supports and nourishes our faith. The Church is the Mother of all believers. “‘No one can have God as his Father, who does not have the Church as his Mother’ (St Cyprian)” (n. 181). Therefore, the faith is born in the Church, leads to her and lives in her. This is important to remember.

At the start of the Christian adventure, when the Holy Spirit descends with power upon the disciples, on the day of Pentecost — as we read in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2:1-13) — the early Church receives the power to begin the mission entrusted to her by the Risen Lord: to spread the Gospel to every corner of the earth, the Good News of the Kingdom of God, and thus to lead every human person to the encounter with Him, to the faith that saves. The Apostles overcome every fear in proclaiming what they had heard, seen, personally experienced with Jesus. By the power of the Holy Spirit, they start to speak in tongues, openly announcing the mystery of which they were witnesses. In the Acts of the Apostles, we are told then of the great discourse that Peter gives on the day of Pentecost. He begins with a passage from the Prophet Joel (3:1-5), referring to Jesus, and proclaiming the central nucleus of the Christian faith: The One who had benefited all, who was attested to by God with mighty works, wonders and signs, who was nailed to the Cross and killed, but God raised him from the dead, making him Lord and Christ. With Him we have come into the ultimate salvation foretold by the Prophets and whoever invokes his name will be saved (cf. Acts 2:17-24). Listening to these words of Peter, many, who felt called personally, repented of their sins and were baptized receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:37-41). And so began the journey of the Church, the community that bears this proclamation through time and space, the community that is the People of God founded on the New Covenant thanks to the Blood of Christ. Her members do not belong to a particular social or ethnic group, but are men and women of every nation and culture. It is a “catholic” people, a people who speaks in tongues, universally open to welcoming all, beyond all boundaries, breaking down every barrier. St Paul says: “Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all” (Col 3:11).

The Church, therefore, from the beginning is the place of faith, the place for the transmission of the faith, the place in which, through Baptism, we are immersed in the Pascal Mystery of the Death and Resurrection of Christ, who frees us from the slavery of sin, gives us the freedom of children and introduces us into communion with the Trinitarian God. At the same time, we are immersed in communion with other brothers and sisters of the faith, with the entire Body of Christ, brought out of our isolation. The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council reminds us: “God, however, does not make men holy and save them merely as individuals without any mutual bonds but by making them into a single people, a people which acknowledges Him in truth and serves Him in holiness” (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, n. 9). Referring back again to the Rite of Baptism, we note that, at the end of the promises in which we voice our renunciation of evil and we repeat “I believe” to the truths of the faith, the celebrant declares: “This is our faith. This is the faith of the Church. We are proud to profess it, in Christ Jesus our Lord”. The faith is a theological virtue, given by God, but transmitted by the Church throughout history. St Paul himself, writing to the Corinthians, affirms he has communicated to them the Gospel that he too had received (cf. 1 Cor 15:3).

There is an unbroken chain in the life of the Church, in the proclamation of the Word of God, of the celebration of the Sacraments, that has come down to us and that we call Tradition. It gives us the guarantee that what we believe is the original message of Christ, preached by the Apostles. The nucleus of the primordial proclamation is the death and the Resurrection of the Lord, from which stems the entire patrimony of the faith. The Council says: “The apostolic preaching, which is expressed in a special way in the inspired books, was to be preserved by a continuous line of succession until the end of time” (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, n. 8). In this way, if Sacred Scripture contains the Word of God, the Tradition of the Church preserves it and faithfully transmits it, so that the men and women of every age might have access to its vast resources and be enriched by its treasures of grace. Thus, the Church, “in her doctrine, life and worship, perpetuates and transmits to every generation all that she herself is, all that she believes” (ibid.).

Lastly, I would like, to emphasize that it is in the ecclesial community that personal faith grows and matures. It is interesting to observe how in the New Testament the word “saints” designates Christians as a whole, and certainly not all would have qualified to be declared saints by the Church. What is meant, then, by this term? The fact that whoever had and lived the faith in Christ Risen were call to become a point of reference for all others, setting them in this way in contact with the Person and the Message of Jesus, who reveals the face of the Living God. And this holds true also for us: a Christian who lets himself be guided and gradually shaped by the faith of the Church, in spite of his weaknesses, his limitations and his difficulties, becomes like a window open to the light of the living God, receiving this light and transmitting it to the world. Blessed John Paul II in his Encyclical Redemptoris Missio declared that “missionary activity renews the Church, revitalizes faith and Christian identity, and offers fresh enthusiasm and new incentive. Faith is strengthened when it is given to others” (n. 2).

Today’s widespread tendency to relegate faith to the private sphere thus, contradicts its very nature. We need the Church in order to confirm our faith and in order to experience the gifts of God: his Word, the Sacraments, the support of grace and the witness of love. Like this, our “I” can be perceived in the “we” of the Church and, at the same time, be the recipient and the protagonist of an overwhelming event: experiencing communion with God, that is the foundation of communion among men. In a world in which individualism seems to rule personal relationships, making them ever more fragile, the faith calls us to be the People of God, to be Church, bearers of the love and communion of God for all mankind (cf. Pastoral Constitution Guadium et Spes, n. 1). Thank you for your attention.

 

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On the Knowledge of God (Year of Faith)

"God Inspires and Accompanies our Efforts to Know Him and to Find Our Happiness in Him"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 14, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father continued his series of catecheses on faith.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Last Wednesday we reflected on the desire for God that the human being carries within his very depths. Today I would like to continue and delve deeper into this aspect, meditating with you briefly about some ways to arrive at the knowledge of God.

I should mention, however, that God's initiative always precedes human action and, even on the path towards Him, it is He who enlightens us, guides us and leads us, always respecting our freedom. And it is He, too, that makes us enter into His intimacy, revealing and giving us the grace to be able to welcome this revelation in faith. Let us never forget the experience of St. Augustine: it is not we who possess the Truth after seeking it, rather it is Truth that seeks us out and possesses us.

However, there are pathways that can open the human heart to the knowledge of God, there are signs leading to God. Of course, we often risk being dazzled by the sparkle of worldliness, which makes us less capable of undertaking such paths or of reading those signs. However, God never tires of looking for us, He is faithful to man whom He created and redeemed, He remains close to our lives, because He loves us. This is a certainty that must accompany us every day, even if certain widespread mentalities make it more difficult for the Church and the Christian to communicate the joy of the Gospel to every creature and to lead all to an encounter with Jesus, the only Savior of the world. This, however, is our mission, it is the mission of the Church and every believer must live it joyfully, feeling it to be his own, through a life truly animated by faith, marked by charity, by service to God and to others, and capable of radiating hope. This mission shines especially in the holiness to which we are all called.

Today, as we know, there are difficulties and trials for the faith, which is often poorly understood, challenged, rejected. St. Peter said to his Christians: "Always be ready to give an answer, but with gentleness and respect, to anyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that is in your hearts" (1 Pt 3:15). In the past, in the West, in a society considered Christian, the faith was the environment in which one moved; the reference and adherence to God were, for most people, part of everyday life. It was the unbeliever instead who had to justify his disbelief. In our world, the situation has changed and, increasingly, the believer must be able to give an account of his faith. Blessed John Paul II, in his encyclical Fides et ratio, emphasized how faith is put to the test also in this contemporary age, crossed by subtle and insidious forms of theoretical and practical atheism (cf. nos. 46-47). From the Enlightenment onwards, criticism towards religion has intensified; history has also been marked by the presence of atheistic systems, in which God was considered a mere projection of the human mind, an illusion and the product of a society already distorted by many forms of alienation. The last century witnessed a strong process of secularism, in the name of the absolute autonomy of man, considered the measure and architect of reality but deprived of being a creature "in the image and likeness of God." In our time, a phenomenon has arisen that is particularly dangerous to the faith: there is a form of atheism which we define as "practical", which does not deny the truth of the faith or religious rituals, but simply considers them irrelevant to everyday existence, detached from life, useless. Often, then, one believes in God in a superficial way and lives "as if God did not exist" (etsi Deus not daretur). In the end, however, this way of life proves even more destructive, because it leads to indifference towards the faith and the question of God.

In reality, man, separated from God, is reduced to a single dimension, the horizontal one, and this reductionism is one of the fundamental causes of the forms of totalitarianism that have had tragic consequences in the last century, as well as of the crisis of values ​​we see in the current reality. In obscuring the reference to God, the ethical horizon has also been obscured, to make room for relativism and an ambiguous conception of freedom, which instead of liberating ends up binding man to idols. The temptations Jesus faced in the desert prior to his public ministry, well represent which "idols" fascinate man, when he does not go beyond himself. When God loses centrality for man, man loses his proper place, he no longer finds his place in creation, in relationships with others. What ancient wisdom evokes with the myth of Prometheus still rings true: man thinks he can become "god", the master of life and death.

Before this picture, the Church, faithful to Christ’s mandate, never ceases to affirm the truth about man and his destiny. The Second Vatican Council states succinctly: "The root reason for human dignity lies in man's call to communion with God. From the very circumstance of his origin man is already invited to converse with God. For man would not exist were he not created by God's love and constantly preserved by it; and he cannot live fully according to truth unless he freely acknowledges that love and devotes himself to his Creator "(Const. Gaudium et spes, 19).

What answers, then, is the faith called to give, with "gentleness and respect", to atheism, skepticism and indifference to the vertical dimension, so that the man of our time will continue to question himself about the existence of God and travel the paths leading to Him? I would like to mention some ways, both the fruit of natural reflection and of the very power of faith. I'd like to sum these up very briefly in three words: the world, man, faith.

The first: the world. St. Augustine, who during his life long sought the Truth and was seized by it, has a beautiful and famous page, in which he states: "Question the beauty of the earth, question the beauty of the sea, question the beauty of the air, amply spread out everywhere, question the beauty of the sky... question all these things. They all answer you: 'Here we are, look; we're beautiful'. Their beauty is their confession. Who made these beautiful changeable things, if not one who is beautiful and unchangeable? "(Sermons, 241, 2: PL 38, 1134). I think we need to recover and help our contemporaries recover the ability to contemplate creation, its beauty, its structure. The world is not a shapeless magma; rather the more we know about it, the more we discover its amazing mechanisms, the more we see a design, we see that there is a creating intelligence. Albert Einstein said that in the laws of nature "a mind so superior is revealed that in comparison, our minds are like a totally insignificant reflection" (Il Mondo come lo vedo io, 'The World as I See It', Rome 2005). Thus, a first way leading to the discovery of God is the careful contemplation of creation.

The second word: man. St. Augustine has another famous quote that says that God is more intimate to me than I am to myself (cf. Confessions, III, 6, 11). From this he formulates the invitation: "Do not go abroad, but return within yourself: truth dwells in the inner man" (De vera religione, 39, 72). This is another aspect we risk losing in the noisy and distracted world we live in: the ability to stop and look deep within ourselves and perceive this thirst for the infinite that we carry within us, that pushes us to go further and refers us to Someone who may satisfy it. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "With his openness to truth and beauty, his sense of moral goodness, his freedom and the voice of his conscience, with his longings for the infinite and for happiness, man questions himself about God's existence "(no. 33)

The third word: faith. Especially in the reality of our times, we must not forget that one path leading to knowledge of and the encounter with God is the life of faith. Whoever believes is united to God, is open to his grace, to the power of love. Thus his existence becomes a witness not of himself, but of the Risen Christ, and his faith is not afraid to show itself in everyday life, it is open to the dialogue that expresses deep friendship for the journey of every man, and knows how to open lights of hope onto the need for redemption, for happiness, for the future. Faith is an encounter with God who speaks and acts in history and who converts our daily life, transforming our mentality, value judgments, choices and concrete actions. It is not an illusion, an escape from reality, a comfortable shelter, sentimentality, but is the involvement of one's whole life and is the proclamation of the Gospel, the Good News capable of liberating man in his entirety. A Christian, a community that is industrious and faithful to the plan of God who first loved us, constitute a privileged way for those who are indifferent or are doubtful about their lives and actions. This, however, asks that each one make their testimony of faith more transparent, purifying his or her own life so that it may conform to Christ. Today many have a limited understanding of the Christian faith, because they identify it with a mere system of beliefs and of values ​​and not so much with the truth of God who has revealed Himself in history, eager to communicate with man face to face, in a loving relationship with him. In reality, at the foundation of every doctrine or value there is the event of the encounter between man and God in Christ Jesus. Christianity, before being a moral or ethical system, is the advent of love, it is to welcome the person of Jesus. For this reason, the Christian and Christian communities must first look and bring others to look to Christ, the true Way leading to God.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis for the Year of Faith, we have seen that a mysterious desire for God lies deep with the human heart.  By his grace, God inspires and accompanies our efforts to know him and to find our happiness in him.  Yet today, in our secularized world, faith often seems difficult to justify; we are faced with a “practical” atheism, a tendency to think and live “as if God did not exist”. 

Yet once God is removed from our lives, we become diminished, for our greatest human dignity consists in being created by God and called to live in communion with him.  As believers, we need to offer convincing reasons for our faith and hope.  We can find such reasons in the order and beauty of creation itself, which speaks of its Creator; in the longing for the infinite present in the human heart, which finds satisfaction in God alone; and in faith, which illumines and transforms our lives through our daily union with the Lord.  By the witness of our living faith, may we lead others to know and love the God who reveals himself in Christ.

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I greet the participants in the Conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers.  I also greet the El Shaddai European Convention.  I welcome the Westminster Cathedral Choir and I thank them, and the other choirs present, for their praise of God in song.  Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Denmark, Gibraltar, South Africa, Hong Kong, Japan and the United States, I cordially invoke God’s abundant blessings.

 

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Finally, a thought for the young, the sick and newlyweds. Tomorrow we celebrate the memory of St. Albert the Great, patron saint of lovers of the natural sciences. Dear young people, know how to combine rigorous study with the demands of faith; dear sick people, trust in the help of medicine, but to a greater extent in the mercy of God; and you, dear newlyweds, with love and mutual respect witness to the beauty of the Sacrament received.

 

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Pope's Address to Members of Interpol

"Everyone has His or Her Particular Responsibility in Building a Future of Justice and Peace"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the address Pope Benedict XVI delivered during an audience with members of Interpol on the occasion of the conclusion of their Plenary General Assembly held in Rome.

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Distinguished Authorities,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you as you conclude the General Assembly of Interpol, which has brought together here in Rome representatives of police and security agencies, along with political and institutional delegates of its 190 member states, that have included Vatican City State since 2008. I greet all those present, and through you I wish to offer my cordial greetings to the distinguished leaders of your countries and their citizens, for whose security you labour with professionalism and a spirit of service. In particular, I greet the Ministers and the members of Government, and the Italian Minister of Internal Affairs who has just spoken, as well as the President of Interpol and the Secretary General, whom I thank for his address to us just now.

In these days of study and discussion you have focused your attention on the development of international cooperation in the struggle against crime. It is important to strengthen collaboration and the exchange of expertise at a time when, at a global level, we see a widening of the sources of violence provoked by trans-national entities which hinder the progress of humanity. Among these we include the evolution of criminal violence which is a particularly troubling aspect for the future of the world. No less important is the fact that the task of reflection brings together politicians responsible for security and justice, as well as judicial bodies and the forces of law and order, in such a way that each one, in his respective sphere, can offer an effective contribution to the service of constructive exchange. Indeed, political authorities, with the help of institutions of law and order, can more easily identify the most significant emerging risks to society and, as a consequence, will be able to give adequate legislative and operational direction to combating crime.

In our own day, the human family suffers owing to numerous violations of justice and law, which in not a few instances is seen in outbursts of violence and of criminal acts. Thus, it is necessary to safeguard individuals and communities by a constant, renewed determination, and by adequate means. In this regard, the function of Interpol, which we may define as a bastion of international security, enjoys an important place in the realization of the common good, because a just society needs order and a respect for the rule of law to achieve a peaceful and tranquil coexistence in society. I know that some of you at times carry out your work in extremely dangerous conditions, and that you risk your lives to protect the lives of others and to facilitate the construction of a peaceful society.

We are aware that violence today is taking on new forms. At the end of the Cold War between the Eastern and Western blocks, there were high hopes, especially where a form of institutionalized political violence was ended by peaceful movements demanding freedom of peoples. However, although some forms of violence seem to have decreased, especially the number of military conflicts, there are others which are developing, such as criminal violence which is responsible each year for the majority of violent deaths in the world. Today, this phenomenon is so dangerous that it is a gravely destabilizing threat to society and, at times, poses a major challenge to the supremacy of the state.

The Church and the Holy See encourage all those who help to combat the scourge of violence and crime, as our world resembles more and more a global village. The gravest forms of criminal activities can be seen in terrorism and organized crime. Terrorism, one of the most brutal forms of violence, sows hate, death and a desire for revenge. This phenomenon, with subversive strategies typical of some extremist organizations aimed at the destruction of property and at murder, has transformed itself into an obscure web of political complicity, with sophisticated technology, enormous financial resources and planning projects on a vast scale (cf.Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 513). For its part, organized crime proliferates in ordinary places and often acts and strikes in darkness, outside of any rules; it does its work through numerous illicit and immoral activities, such as human trafficking – a modern form of slavery – the smuggling of materials or substances such as drugs, arms, contraband goods, even the traffic of pharmaceuticals, used in large part by the poor, which kill instead of curing. This illicit market becomes even more deplorable when it involves trafficking the organs of innocent victims: they undergo physical and moral humiliation which we had hoped were over after the tragedies of the twentieth century but which, unfortunately, have again surfaced through the violence generated by crime carried out by unscrupulous persons and organizations. These crimes transgress the moral barriers which were progressively built up by civilization and they reintroduce a form of barbarism which denies man and his dignity.

Dear friends, this meeting today with you who work in international policing affords me the opportunity to assert once again that violence in all its forms, whether crime or terrorism, is always unacceptable, because it profoundly wounds human dignity and is an offence against the whole of humanity. It is therefore necessary to combat criminal activities within the limits of moral and juridical norms, since action against crime should always be carried out with respect for the rights of each person and of the principles of the rule of law. The struggle against violence must aim to stem crime and defend society, but it must also aim at the reform and the correction of the criminal, who remains always a human person, a subject of inalienable rights, and as such is not to be excluded from society, but rather rehabilitated. At the same time, international collaboration against crime cannot be reduced to the work done by police. It is essential that the necessary work of containing crime be accompanied by a courageous and lucid analysis of the underlying motives for such unacceptable criminal acts. Special attention should be paid to the factors of social exclusion and deprivation which persist in the population and which are a vehicle for the spread of violence and hatred. Special effort should also be made in the political and educational fields, to remedy the problems which feed violence, and to foster conditions that prevent violence from occurring or developing.

Therefore, the response to violence and crime cannot be delegated to the forces of law and order alone, but requires the participation of all those capable of confronting this phenomenon. To overcome violence is a task which must involve not only the institutions and organizations mentioned, but all of society: the family, educational institutions, including schools and religious bodies, the means of social communication, as well as each and every citizen. Everyone has his or her particular responsibility in building a future of justice and peace.

I renew to the authorities and all the staff of Interpol my gratitude for your work, which is not always easy and not always understood in its proper purpose. I cannot finish without acknowledging the assistance which Interpol offers to the Gendarmes of Vatican City State, especially during my international journeys. May the all-powerful and merciful God enlighten you as you carry out your responsibilities; may he sustain you in your service to society; and may he protect you, your co-workers and your families. Thank you for coming and may the Lord bless all of you!

 

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Pope's Telegram of Condolence to Bulgarian Orthodox Church

"I Give Thanks to God for all the Good Things Done by the late Patriarch for His Church"

VATICAN CITY, Tuesday, November 7, 2012 (Zenit.org) - Here is the telegram of condolence sent by the Holy Father Benedict XVI to the Bulgarian Orthodox Church regarding the death of the Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria, His Holiness, Maxim, who passed away yesterday at the age of 98.

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To His Emminece Grigorij Di Veliko Trnovo

Interim President of the Holy Synod of the Bulgarian Orthodox Church

It is with deep sadness that I have learned of the death of our beloved brother in Christ, His Holiness Maxim, Metropolitan of Sofia and Patriarch of Bulgaria, who for many years has served with dedication to Lord and his people. On behalf of the Catholic Church, I want to assure you, as to all the bishops, priests and faithful of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, that I join you in your pain through prayer. May the Lord who is good and merciful, welcome into his heavenly home our beloved brother Maxim! Grant him peace and eternal memory!

By participating in the pain of the Orthodox Church of Bulgaria, I give thanks to God for all the good things done by the late Patriarch for his Church and for the people of his country. In particular I remember the warm welcome given to the Blessed Pope John Paul II during his visit to Bulgaria in May 2002. I thank the Lord for the good relations that the Patriarch had developed with the Catholic Church in that land, and express the hope that these good relations will continue to proclaim the Gospel.

In renewing my condolences and assuring you of my remembrance and my prayers, please accept, Your Eminence, the expression of my sincere greetings in Christ.

Benedictus PP. XVI

 

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On Trusting God

"No Act of Goodness is without Value before God"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

The Liturgy of the Word this Sunday presents us the figures of 2 widows as models of faith. They are presented in parallel: one in the first Book of Kings (17:10-16), the other in the Gospel of Mark (12:41-44). Both of these women are desperately poor and precisely in this situation demonstrate a great faith in God. The first appears in the cycle of stories about the prophet Elijah. During a famine Elijah is ordered by God to go to area near Sidon, that is, beyond Israel, into pagan territory. There he meets the widow and asks her for water to drink and a little bread. She tells him that she has only a bit of flour and a drop of oil, but, because the prophet insists and promises her that, if she listens to him, she will not lack flour and oil, she does what he asks and is recompensed. The second widow, the one in the Gospel, is observed by Jesus in the Temple of Jerusalem by the treasury, where the people were taking offerings. Jesus sees this widow put 2 coins in the treasury; he then calls his disciples and explains to them that her offering is greater than those of the rich because while they gave from their excess, the widow gave “all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44).

From these 2 biblical episodes, wisely approached, we can draw a precious teaching about faith. It is about the interior attitude of those who base their lives on God, on his Word, and completely entrust themselves to him. In antiquity widows lived in a condition of grave need. For this reason in the Bible widows and orphans are people of whom God takes special care: they have last their earthly support but God is their Husband or their Father. Nevertheless, Scripture says that the objective condition of need, in this case the fact of being a widow, is not sufficient: God always asks for our adherence in faith, which is expressed in love of him and neighbor. No one is ever so poor that he cannot give something. And in fact both of our widows today demonstrate their faith through acts of charity: the one towards the prophet and the other gives alms. In this way they attest to the inseparability of faith and charity and love of God and love of neighbor – as last Sunday’s Gospel reminded us. Pope St. Leo the Great, whose feast we celebrated yesterday, says this: “On the scales of divine justice it is not the quantity of gifts that has weight but the heart. The widow of the Gospel deposited 2 coins in the Temple treasury and this surpassed the offerings of all the rich. No act of goodness is without value before God, no act of mercy is without fruit” (Sermo de jejunio dec. mens., 90, 3).

The Virgin Mary is the perfect example of those who offer their whole self, entrusting themselves to God; with this faith she speaks her “Here I am” to the Angel and accepts the will of God. May Mary help each of us in this Year of Faith and strengthen confidence in God and in his Word.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted in various languages those present. In Italian he said:]

 

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday, in Spoleto, Maria Luisa Prosperi was proclaimed blessed. She lived in the first half of the nineteenth century, was a nun and an abbess in the Benedictine monastery of Trevi. Together with the whole Benedictine family and the diocesan community of Spoleto-Norcia, we praise the Lord for this daughter of his, who desired to associate herself with Christ’s Passion in a singular way. In Italy today we celebrate the “Giornata del Ringraziamento” (Day of Thanksgiving). In the context of the Year of Faith, the theme of Day “Trust in the Lord and do good that you may dwell in the land” (Psalm 37:3) recalls the necessity of a way of life rooted in faith for recognizing with gratitude the creative and provident hand of God in feeding his children. I greet and offer my best wishes to all farmers!

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel, the poor widow gives everything she possesses to the Temple. May her unconditional offering inspire us to rely on God alone, while attributing to everything else its due place and proper worth. Upon you and your families I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[Again in Italian he said:]

I am happy to greet the participants in the conference on Fr. Teilhard de Chardin, which is being held at the Gregorian University. [...] I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Thank you for your attention. Have a good Sunday.

 

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Pope's Address to "Scholae Canotorum" Pilgrims

"Work to Improve the Quality of Liturgical Song "

VATICAN CITY, Nov.11, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Benedict XVI to pilgrims from the various "Scholae Cantorum" in Italy. The pilgrimage was organized by the Italian St. Cecilia Association.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

With great joy I welcome you on the occasion of the pilgrimage organized by the Italian St. Cecilia Association, to which my praise goes with a cordial greeting to the president, whom I thank for his courteous words, and to all his collaborators. I greet all of you members of numerous “Scholae Cantorum” from every part of Italy! I am very happy to meet with you and also to know – as it was mentioned – that tomorrow you will participate in the eucharistic celebration presided over by Cardinal Archpriest Angelo Comastri in St. Peter’s Basilica, naturally offering your service of praise with song.

This conference of yours is intentionally linked with the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II. And with pleasure I saw that the St. Cecilia Association intended in this way to repropose to your attention the teaching of the conciliar constitution on the liturgy, in particular where it treats of sacred music, in the 6th chapter. On this anniversary of the Council, as you well know, I wished for the whole Church to observe a special Year of Faith with the goal of promoting the deepening of faith in all of the baptized and the common commitment to the new evangelization. Thus, meeting with you, I would like briefly to underscore how sacred music can, above all, support faith and, moreover, cooperate in the new evangelization.

In regard to faith, there spontaneously comes to mind the personal experience of St. Augustine, one of the great Fathers of the Church, who lived between the 4th and 5th centuries after Christ. Listening to the singing of Psalms and hymns in the liturgies over which St. Ambrose presided certainly contributed in a relevant way to his conversion. If in fact faith always is born from listening to the Word of God – a listening that naturally occurs not only with the senses but from the sense passes on to the mind and the heart – there is no doubt that music, and song above all, can contribute a greater communicative force to the recitation of Psalms and biblical songs. Among the charisms of St. Ambrose was in fact a distinct musical sensibility and capacity, and he, upon being ordained Bishop of Milan, put this gift at the service of the faith and evangelization. The witness of Augustine, who at that time was a professor in Milan and sought God, sought faith, in this respect is very significant. In Book 10 of the “Confessions,” his autobiography he wrote: when I call to mind the tears I shed at the songs of your Church, at the outset of my recovered faith, and how even now I am moved not by the singing but by what is sung, when they are sung with a clear and skillfully modulated voice, I then acknowledge the great utility of this custom” (33, 50). The experience of the Ambrosian hymns was so powerful that Augustine retained it in his memory and often referred to it in his works; indeed, he wrote a book precisely on music, the “De Musica.” He says that he does not approve of seeking mere sense pleasure in sung liturgies but asserts that music and the well-composed song can aid in the reception of the Word of God and provoke salubrious emotions. This testimony of St. Augustine can help us to understand the fact that the constitution “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” in line with the tradition of the Church, teaches that “sacred song united to the words, forms a necessary and integral part of the solemn liturgy” (112). Why “necessary and integral”? Certainly not for purely aesthetic reasons, in a superficial sense, but because it cooperates, precisely through its beauty, in nourishing and expressing the faith, and so to the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful, which are the ends of sacred music (cf. ibid.). For this reason I wish to thank you for the precious service that you render: the music that you perform is not an accessory or only an external ornament of the liturgy, but it is liturgy itself. You help the whole assembly to praise God, to make his Word enter into the depths of the heart: with song you pray and help others pray, and you participate in the song and prayer of the liturgy that embraces the whole of creation in glorifying the Creator.

The second aspect that I propose for your reflection is the relationship between sacred song and the new evangelization. The conciliar constitution on the liturgy recalls the importance of sacred music in the mission “ad gentes” and calls for an appreciation of the musical traditions of different peoples (cf. 119). But also precisely in countries, such as Italy, where evangelization occurred centuries ago, sacred music – with its own great tradition, which is our western culture – can and does have a relevant task of assisting in the rediscovery of God, a return to the Christian message and the mysteries of the faith. We think of the celebrated experience of Paul Claudel, the French poet, who converted listening signing of the Magnificat during the Christmas vespers at the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris: “At that moment,” he writes, “there occurred the event that dominated my entire life. In twinkling my heart was touched and I believed. I believed with such a powerful adherence, with such an elevation of my whole being, with such a strong conviction, in a certainty that did not leave space for any sort of doubt that, after that moment, no reasoning, no circumstance of my troubled life, was able to shake or touch my faith.”

But we need not have recourse to illustrious persons to think of how many people have been touched in their depths of their soul listening to sacred music; and of how many more have felt themselves newly drawn to God by the beauty of liturgical music like Claudel. And, here dear friends, you have an important role: work to improve the quality of liturgical song with being afraid to recover and value the great musical tradition of the Church, which has in Gregorian Chant and polyphony 2 of its highest expressions, as Vatican II itself states (cf. “Sacrosanctum Concilium,” 116). And I would like to stress that the active participation of the whole people of God in the liturgy does not consist only in speaking, but in listening, in welcoming the Word with the senses and the spirit, and this holds also for sacred music. You, who have the gift of song can make the heart of many people sing in liturgical celebrations.

Dear friends, it is my wish that in Italy liturgical music will ascend ever higher to worthily praise the Lord and to show how the Church is the plave in which beauty is at home. Thanks once again to all of you for this meeting! Thank you.

 

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Pope's Apostolic Letter Instituting Pontifical Academy for Latin

"The Latin Language has Always Been Held in the Highest Esteem by the Catholic Church"

Apostolic Letter

In the Form of Motu Proprio “Lingua Latina” with which is instituted the Pontifical Academy for Latin

1. The Latin language has always been held in the highest esteem by the Catholic Church and by the Roman Pontiffs, who have assiduously promoted the knowledge and spread of Latin, making it their own language; it is a language capable of universally transmitting the message of the Gospel, as was already authoritatively affirmed by the apostolic constitution “Veterum sapientia” of my predecessor, Bl. John XXIII.

In truth, since Pentecost the Church has spoken and prayed in all of the languages of men. Nevertheless, the Christian communities of the first centuries widely used Greek and Latin, languages of universal communication in the world in which they lived, and thanks to which the newness of the Word of Christ encountered the legacy of the Hellenic-Roman culture.

After the disappearance of the Roman Empire in the West, the Church of Rome not only continued to avail herself of the Latin language but made herself in a certain way its guardian and promoter, both in the theological and liturgical sphere and in those of education and the transmission of knowledge.

2. Even in our own time the knowledge of the Latin language and culture is more necessary than ever for the study of the sources from which, among others, numerous ecclesiastical disciplines draw, for example, theology, liturgy, patristics and canon law, as the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council teaches (cf. “Optatam totius,” 13).

Moreover, precisely to highlight the universal nature of the Church, in this language are redacted in their typical form the liturgical books of the Roman Rite, the more important documents of the pontifical magisterium and the more solemn official acts of the Roman pontiffs.

3. Nevertheless, in contemporary culture we observe in the decline of humanistic studies, the danger of an ever more superficial knowledge of the Latin language, noticeable even in the philosophical and theological studies of future priests. On the other hand, precisely in our world in which science and technology play such a prominent role, we find a renewed interest for the Latin culture and language, not only on those continents that have their roots in the Greco-Roman legacy. Such attention appears more important not only insofar as it involves academic and institutional spheres, but as it regards young people and scholars from nations of very different traditions.

4. It thus appears urgent to support the effort toward a better knowledge and more competent use of the Italian language as much in the ecclesial ambit as in the wider world of culture. To bring attention to this undertaking and make it vibrant the moment is more opportune than ever to adopt didactic methods adequate to the new situation and to promote a network of relationships among academic institutions and scholars with the purpose of appreciating the rich and multiform patrimony of Latin civilization.

To contribute to the accomplishment of such goals, following in the footsteps of my venerable predecessors, with the present Motu Proprio today I institute the Pontifical Academy of Latinity as a branch of the Pontifical Council for Culture. It is led by a president, who assisted by a secretary, appointed by me, and by an academic council.

The Latinitas Foundation, constituted by Pope Paul VI with the chirograph “Romani Sermonis” of June 30, 1976, no longer exists.

The present apostolic letter in the form of a Motu Proprio, with which I approve “ad experimentum,” for a 5 year period, the attached statute, I order to be published in the “Osservatore Romano.”

Given in Rome at St. Peter’s, November 10, 2012, the feast of St. Leo the Great, the 8th year of our pontificate.

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

 

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Statute of the Pontifical Academy for Latin

Article 1

The Pontifical Academy for Latin for the promotion and appreciation of the Latin language and culture is instituted, with its main offices in the Vatican City State. The Academy is connected to the Pontifical Council for Culture of which it will be a branch.

 Article 2

§ 1. The aims of the Academy are:

a) to promote the knowledge and study of the Latin language and literature in its classical, patristic, medieval and humanistic forms, especially in Catholic educational institutions in which both seminarians and priests are formed and instructed;

b) to promote in different spheres the use of Latin both as a written and spoken language.

§ 2. To achieve such ends the Academy proposes to:

a) undertake publications, meetings, study conferences and artistic representations;

b) create and support courses, seminars and other educational initiatives along with the Pontifical Higher Institute of Latinity;

c) educate young generations in the knowledge of Latin also through modern means of communication;

d) organize exhibitions, shows and competitions;

e) develop other activities and initiatives necessary for the achievement of the institutional goals.

Article 3

The Pontifical Academy of Latinity is composed of a president, secretary, academic council and members, also called “academicians.”

Article 4

§ 1. The president of the Academy is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff for a 5 year term. The president can be reappointed for a second 5 year term.

§ 2. It is the president’s duty to:

a) represent the Academy legally also before any judicial or administrative authority whether canonical or civil;

b) convoke and preside over the academic council and the assembly of the members;

c) to participate, as a member, in the Council for the Coordination of the Pontifical Academies and to maintain relationships with the Pontifical Council for Culture;

d) supervise the activities of the Academy;

e) act as ordinary administration, with the help of the secretary, and as extraordinary administration in concert with the academic council and the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Article 5

§ 1. The secretary is appointed by the Supreme Pontiff, for a 5 year term. The secretary can be reappointed for a second 5 year term.

§ 2. The president, in the case of an absence or impediment, delegates the role of secretary to a substitute.

Article 6

§ 1. The academic council is composed of the president, the secretary and 5 council members. The council members are elected by the assembly of academicians for a 5 year term and can be reelected.

§ 2. The academic council, which is presided over by the president of the Academy, deliberates on matters of great importance for the Academy. It approves the schedule for a meeting of the Academy members, which should be held at least once a year. The council is convoked by the president at least once a year and, more than that, every time that it is requested by at least 3 members of the council.

Article 7

The president, with the agreement of the council, can appoint an archivist, who will act as librarian, and a treasurer.

Article 8

§ 1. The Academy consists of ordinary members, who number no more than 50, called “academicians,” who are scholars and cultivators of the Latin language. They are appointed by the secretary of state. Having reached the age of 80, the ordinary members become emeriti.

§ 2. The ordinary academicians participate in the meeting of the Academy convoked by the president. The emeriti academicians may participate in the meeting without the right to vote.

§ 3. Besides the ordinary academicians, the president of the academy, with the agreement of the council, can appoint other members called “correspondents.”

Article 9

The patrimony of the defunct Foundation Latinitas and its activities, including the editing and publication of the review “Latinitas” are transferred to the Pontifical Academy for Latin.

Article 10

For those things not expressly provided for reference should be made to the current Code of Canon Law and to the laws of the Vatican City State

 

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Pope Benedict's Address at "Viva Gli Anziani" Retirement Home

"Longevity is [..] a Blessing of God"

ROME, NOV. 13, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Yesterday morning, Pope Benedict XVI went to visit the “Viva gli Anziani” Retirement home of the Sant’Egidio Community at Gianicolo in Rome on the occasion of the European Year of Active Ageing and of Solidarity between generations.

Upon his arrival, after a brief visit of the residential building, the Pope went to the garden of the retirement home where he met the guests, volunteers and members of the Sant’Egidio Community. Here is the text of his address.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Dear Sisters,

I am truly happy to be with you in this Retirement Home of the Sant’Egidio Community, dedicated to the elderly. I thank your President, Professor Marco Impagliazzo, for the warm words he addressed to me. With him, I greet Professor Andrea Riccardi, founder of the Community. I thank the auxiliary bishop of the Historic Center, Bishop Matteo Zuppi, the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, and all the friends of the Sant’Egidio Community.

I come among you as Bishop of Rome, but also as an elderly man visiting his peers. I know well the difficulties, the problems and the limits of this age, and I know that for many, these difficulties are aggravated by the economic crisis. Sometimes, at a certain age, one looks to the past recalling when one was young, enjoyed fresh energies, made plans for the future. So, at times, our look is clouded by sadness, considering this phase of life as the time of decline. This morning, ideally addressing all the elderly, in the awareness also of the difficulties that our age entails, I would like to say to you with profound conviction: it is beautiful to be elderly! It is necessary to discover in every age the presence and blessing of the Lord and the riches it contains. We must never let ourselves be imprisoned by sadness! We received the gift of a long life. It is lovely to live also at our age, despite some “aches and pains” and some limitations. On our face there must always be the joy of feeling ourselves loved by God, never sadness.

In the Bible, longevity is considered a blessing of God; today this blessing has spread and must be seen as a gift to appreciate and value. Yet often society, dominated by the logic of efficiency and profit, does not receive it as such, instead it often rejects it, regarding the elderly as non-productive, useless. Felt many times is the suffering of those that are marginalized, who live far from their home or in loneliness. I think that we should act with greater commitment, beginning with families and public institutions, so that the elderly are able to stay in their own homes. The wisdom of life, of which they are bearers, is a great richness. The quality of a society, I would say of a civilization, is also judged by the way the elderly are treated and the place given to them in ordinary living. Those who make room for the elderly make room for life! Those who received the elderly receive life!

From its beginning, Sant’Egidio Community has supported so many elderly, helping them to stay in their environments of life, opening several retirement homes in Rome and in the world. Through solidarity between young people and the elderly, it has helped to make it understood how the Church is effectively the family of all generations, in which each one must feel “at home” and where the logic of profit and having does not reign but that of gratuitousness and love. When life becomes fragile, in the years of old age, it never loses its value and its dignity: each one of us, in whatever stage of existence, is wanted and loved by God, each one is important and necessary (cf. Homily for the Beginning of the Petrine Ministry, April 24, 2005).

Today’s visit is in the context of the European Year of Active Ageing and Solidarity between generations. In fact, it is in this context that I wish to confirm that the elderly are a value for society, especially for the young. There cannot be real human growth and education without a fruitful contact with the elderly, because their very existence is like an open book in which the young generations can find precious directions for life’s journey.

Dear friends, at our age we often experience the need of others’ help; and this is true also for the Pope. We read in the Gospel that Jesus said to the Apostle Peter: “when you were young, you girded yourself and walked where you would; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish to go” (John 21:18). The Lord was referring to the way in which the Apostle would witness his faith unto martyrdom, but this phrase makes us reflect on the fact that the need for help is a condition of the elderly. I would like to invite you to see also in this a gift of the Lord, because it is a grace to be supported and accompanied, to feel the affection of others! This is important in every phase of life: no one can live alone and without help; the human being is relational. And in this home I see, with pleasure, that all those who help and those who are helped form one family, whose vital sap is love.

Dear elderly sisters and brothers, sometimes the days seem long and empty, with difficulties, few obligations and meetings; never be discouraged: you are a richness for society, also in suffering and in sickness. And this phase of life is also a gift to deepen your relationship with God. The example of Blessed John Paul II was and still is illuminating for all. Do not forget that among the precious resources that you have is the essential one of prayer: become intercessors before God, praying with faith and constancy. Pray for the Church, also for me, for the needs of the world, for the poor, that there be no more violence in the world. The prayer of the elderly can protect the world, helping it, perhaps, in a more incisive way than the anxiety of so many. I would like to entrust to your prayer today the well-being of the Church and the peace of the world. The Pope loves you and counts on all of you! Feel yourselves loved by God and be able to bring to our society, often so individualistic and efficient, a ray of the love of God. And God will be with you always and with all those who support you with their affection and help.

I entrust you all to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, who always accompanies us on ur way with her maternal love, and I gladly impart to each one my Blessing. Thank you all!

[Original text: Italian]

 

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On the Coming of the Son of Man

"He is the Central Event That, in the Midst of the Troubles of the World, Remains the Firm and Stable Point"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 18, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

On this last Sunday of the liturgical year, Jesus’ discourse about the end times (in technical terms, his “eschatological” discourse) is proclaimed at Mass (cf. Mark 13:24-32). This discourse is also found, with some variations, in Matthew and Luke, and it is probably the most difficult text in the Gospels.

This difficulty derives both from the content and the language: Jesus speaks of a future that is beyond our categories, and because of this Jesus uses images and words taken from the Old Testament, but, importantly, he inserts a new center, namely, himself, the mystery of his person and his death and resurrection. Today’s passage too opens with some cosmic images of an apocalyptic nature: “The sun will be darkened, the moon will no longer give its light, the stars will fall from the sky and the powers in the skies will be shaken” (Mark 13:24-25); but this element is relativized by what follows: “Then the Son of Man will come upon the clouds in the sky with great power and glory” (13:26). The “Son of Man” is Jesus himself, who links the present with the future; the ancient words of the prophets have finally found a center in the person of the Messiah of Nazareth: he is the central event that, in the midst of the troubles of the world, remains the firm and stable point.

Another passage from today’s Gospel confirms. Jesus says: “The sky and the earth will pass away but my words will not pass away” (13:31). In fact, we know that in the Bible the word of God is at the origin of creation: all creatures, starting with the cosmic elements – sun, moon, sky – obey God’s Word, they exist insofar as they are “called” by it. This creative power of the divine Word (“Parola”) is concentrated in Jesus Christ, the Word (“Verbo”) made flesh, and also passes through his human words, which are the true “sky” that orients the thought and path of man on earth. For this reason Jesus does not describe the end of the world and when he uses apocalyptic images he does not conduct himself like a “visionary.” On the contrary, he wants to take away the curiosity of his disciples in every age about dates and predictions and wishes instead to give them a key to a deep, essential reading, and above all to indicate the right path to take, today and tomorrow, to enter into eternal life. Everything passes – the Lord tells us – but God’s Word does not change, and before this Word each of us is responsible for his conduct. It is on this basis that we will be judged.

Dear friends, even in our times there is no lack of natural calamities, nor, unfortunately, of war and violence. Today too we need a stable basis for our life and our hope, much more because of the relativism in which we are immersed. May the Virgin help us to accept this center in the Person of Christ and in his Word.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those gathered in St. Peter’s Square in various languages. In Italian he said:]

 

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Pergamino, Argentina María Crescencia Pérez of the Congregation the Figlie di Maria Santissima dell’Orto (Daughters of Mary Most Holy of the Garden) was declared blessed. She lived in the first half of last century and is a model of evangelical sweetness animated by faith. Let us praise the Lord for her witness!

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present for today’s Angelus. This Sunday, as the liturgical year draws to a close, Jesus tells us that although heaven and earth will pass away, his words will remain. Let us pledge ourselves to build our lives more and more on the solid foundation of his holy word, the true source of life and joy.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday. Thank you. Have a good Sunday. Have a good week. Goodbye.

 

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Pope Benedict's Address to Participants of Health Care Workers Conference

"This Concern for Health and Evangelization is Always your Task"

Lord Cardinals,

Venerable brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,

Dear brothers and sisters!

I warmly welcome you! I thank the president of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, Monsignor Zygmunt Zimowski, for the courteous words; I greet the illustrious speakers and all those present. The theme of your conference – “The Hospital, Place of Evangelization: Human and Spiritual Mission – offers me the occasion to extend my greeting to all of the Health Care Workers, especially the members of the Italian Catholic Physicians Association and the European Federation of Catholic Medical Associations, who, at the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome reflected on the topic “Bioethics and Christian Europe.” I also greet the sick who are present, their families, the chaplains and volunteers, the members of the associations, in particular of UNITALSI (Italian National Union for the Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines), the students of the faculties of medicine and surgery and of the courses in health professions.

The Church always turns with the same spirit of fraternal sharing to those who experience pain, animated by the same Spirit of him who, with the power of love, returned meaning and dignity to the mystery of suffering. Vatican Council II said to these persons: you are “neither alone nor useless” because, united to the Cross of Christ, you contribute to his salvific work (cf. “Message to the Poor, the Sick and the Suffering,” 8, December, 1965). And with the same emphasis of hope the Church also addresses professionals and volunteers in the health field. Yours is a singular vocation that requires study, sensitivity and experience. Nevertheless, beyond academic titles, those who choose to work in the world of suffering, living this activity as a “human and spiritual mission” are required to have a further capacity. This is a “Christian science of suffering,” explicitly indicated by the Council as “the only truth capable of responding to suffering” and of bringing to the sick “comfort without illusions”: “It is not in power,” says the Council, “to procure your spiritual health, nor to alleviate your physical pains ... We have, however, something much more precious and profound to give you ... The Christ did not suppress suffering; nor did he wish entirely to uncover its mystery: he took it upon himself, and this is sufficient for us to understand its whole value” (ibid.). Of this “Christian science of suffering” you are the qualified experts! Your being Catholic, without fear, gives you a major responsibility in the sphere of society and the Church: this is a true vocation, as has been recently witnessed to by such exemplary figures as: St. Giuseppe Moscati, St. Ricardo Pampuri, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, St. Anna Schäffer and the Servant of God Jérôme Lejeune.

And this is a duty of the new evangelization even in times of economic crisis that decrease resources to protect health. Precisely in this context hospitals and support structures must re-think their role to avoid health becoming another piece of merchandise subject to the laws of the market, and so a good reserved to a few, rather than a universal good to be secured and defended. The special attention owed to the dignity of suffering persons can never be forgotten, applying the principles of subsidiarity and solidarity also to the area of the politics of health (cf. “Caritas in veritate,” 58). Today, if on one hand – because of progress in the scientific-technological field – the ability to heal the sick has increased, on the other hand, the ability truly to care for suffering persons, considered in their totality and singularity, has diminished. Thus there is an obscuring of the ethical horizons of medical science, which risks forgetting that its vocation is to serve every man and the whole man in the different stages of his existence. It is to be hoped that the language of the “Christian science of suffering” – to which pertains compassion, solidarity, sharing, abnegation, gratuity, the gift of self – becomes the universal lexicon of those who work in the health care field. It is the language of the Good Samaritan of the Gospel parable, which can be considered, according to Bl. John Paul II, “one of the essential elements of moral culture and universally human civilization” (“Salvifici doloris,” 29). From this perspectives hospitals are seen as a privileged place of evangelization, because there where the Church becomes “the vehicle of the presence of God” she becomes at the same time “the instrument of a new humanization of man and of the world” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Doctrinal Note on Some Aspects of Evangelization,” 9). Only when it is quite clear that the center of medical and support activity is the well-being of man in his most fragile and vulnerable condition, of man in search of meaning before the unfathomable mystery of suffering, can the hospital be understood as a “place in which the relationship of care is not a career but a mission; where the charity of the Good Samaritan is the first seat of learning and the face of suffering man is the face of Christ himself” (Address to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Rome, May 3, 2012).

Dear friends, this concern for health and evangelization is always your task. Now more than ever our society needs “good samaritans” with a generous heart and with arms open to all with the awareness that the “measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer” (“Spe salvi,” 38). This “going beyond” the clinical approach opens the dimension of the transcendent to you. Chaplains and members of religious orders who work in health care have a fundamental role in this respect. It is their first duty to allow the glory of the risen crucified Christ to appear in the diversified panorama of health.

I save a final word for you dear persons who are sick. Your silent witness is the efficacious sign and instrument of evangelization for the people who care for you and for your families in the certainty that “no tear of those who suffer or those near to them is lost before God” (Angelus, February 1, 2009). You “are the brothers of the suffering Christ; and with him, if you allow him, you save the world!” (Vatican Council II, “Message”).

As I entrust all of you to the Virgin Mary, “Salus Infirmorum,” that she guide your steps and always make you industrious and tireless witnesses of the Christian science of suffering, I extend from my heart the apostolic benediction.

 

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Benedict XVI General Audience Address November 7, 2012 (Year of Faith)

Description:

 In his general audience of November 7, 2012, Pope Benedict XVI, continuing a series of catechesis on the subject of Catholic faith, focused on what, he said, "is a fascinating aspect of human and Christian experience: the fact that man carries within him a mysterious desire for God".

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The journey of reflection that we are making together during this Year of Faith leads us to meditate today on a fascinating aspect of the human and the Christian experience: man carries within himself a mysterious desire for God. In a very significant way, the Catechism of the Catholic Church opens precisely with the following consideration: “The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” (n. 27).

A statement like this, that even today in many cultural contexts seems quite acceptable, even obvious, might, however, be taken as a provocation in the West’s secularized culture. Many of our contemporaries might actually object that they have no such desire for God. For large sectors of society he is no longer the one longed for or desired but rather a reality that leaves them indifferent, one on which there is no need even to comment. In reality, what we have defined as “the desire for God” has not entirely disappeared and it still appears today, in many ways, in the heart of man. Human desire always tends to certain concrete goods, often anything but spiritual, and yet it has to face the question of what is truly “the” good, and thus is confronted with something other than itself, something man cannot build but he is called to recognize. What can really satisfy man’s desire?

In my first Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I sought to analyze how such dynamism can be found in the experience of human love, an experience that in our age is more easily perceived as a moment of ecstasy, of leaving oneself, like a place in which man feels overcome by a desire that surpasses him. Through love, a man and a woman experience in a new way, thanks to each other, the greatness and beauty of life and of what is real. If what is experienced is not a mere illusion, if I truly want the good of the other as a means for my own good, then I must be willing not to be self-centred, to place myself at the other’s service, even to the point of self-denial. The answer to the question on the meaning of the experience of love then passes through the purification and healing of the will, required in loving the other. We must cultivate, encourage, and also correct ourselves, so that this good can truly be loved.

Thus the initial ecstasy becomes a pilgrimage, “an ongoing exodus out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God” (Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 6). Through this journey one will be able to deepen gradually one’s knowledge of that love, initially experienced. And the mystery that it represents will become more and more defined: in fact, not even the beloved is capable of satisfying the desire that dwells in the human heart. In fact, the more authentic one’s love for the other is, the more it reveals the question of its origin and its destiny, of the possibility that it may endure for ever. Therefore, the human experience of love has in itself a dynamism that refers beyond the self, it is the experience of a good that leads to being drawn out and finding oneself before the mystery that encompasses the whole of existence.

One could make similar observation about other human experiences as well, such as friendship, encountering beauty, loving knowledge: every good experienced by man projects him toward the mystery that surrounds the human being; every desire that springs up in the human heart echoes a fundamental desire that is never fully satisfied. Undoubtedly by such a deep desire, hidden, even enigmatic, one cannot arrive directly at faith. Men and women, after all, know well what does not satisfy them, but they cannot imagine or define what the happiness they long for in their hearts would be like. One cannot know God based on human desire alone. From this point of view he remains a mystery: man is the seeker of the Absolute, seeking with small and hesitant steps. And yet, already the experience of desire, of a “restless heart” as St Augustine called it, is very meaningful. It tells us that man is, deep down, a religious being (cf. The Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 28), a “beggar of God”. We can say with the words of Pascal: “Man infinitely surpasses man” (Pensées, ed. Chevalier 438; ed. Brunschvicg 434). Eyes recognize things when they are illuminated. From this comes a desire to know the light itself, what makes the things of the world shine and with them ignites the sense of beauty.

We must therefore maintain that it is possible also in this age, seemingly so blocked to the transcendent dimension, to begin a journey toward the true religious meaning of life, that shows how the gift of faith is not senseless, is not irrational. It would be very useful, to that end, to foster a kind of pedagogy of desire, both for the journey of one who does not yet believe and for the one who has already received the gift of faith. It should be a pedagogy that covers at least two aspects. In the first place, to discover or rediscover the taste of the authentic joy of life. Not all satisfactions have the same effect on us: some leave a positive after-taste, able to calm the soul and make us more active and generous. Others, however, after the initial delight, seem to disappoint the expectations that they had awakened and sometimes leave behind them a sense of bitterness, dissatisfaction or emptiness. Instilling in someone from a young age the taste for true joy, in every area of life – family, friendship, solidarity with those who suffer, self-renunciation for the sake of the other, love of knowledge, art, the beauty of nature – all this means exercising the inner taste and producing antibodies that can fight the trivialization and the dulling widespread today. Adults too need to rediscover this joy, to desire authenticity, to purify themselves of the mediocrity that might infest them. It will then become easier to drop or reject everything that although attractive proves to be, in fact, insipid, a source of indifference and not of freedom. And this will bring out that desire for God of which we are speaking.

A second aspect that goes hand in hand with the preceding one is never to be content with what you have achieved. It is precisely the truest joy that unleashes in us the healthy restlessness that leads us to be more demanding – to want a higher good, a deeper good – and at the same time to perceive ever more clearly that no finite thing can fill our heart. In this way we will learn to strive, unarmed, for the good that we cannot build or attain by our own power; and we will learn to not be discouraged by the difficulty or the obstacles that come from our sin.

In this regard, we must not forget that the dynamism of desire is always open to redemption. Even when it strays from the path, when it follows artificial paradises and seems to lose the capacity of yearning for the true good. Even in the abyss of sin, that ember is never fully extinguished in man. It allows him to recognize the true good, to savour it, and thus to start out again on a path of ascent; God, by the gift of his grace, never denies man his help. We all, moreover, need to set out on the path of purification and healing of desire. We are pilgrims, heading for the heavenly homeland, toward that full and eternal good that nothing will be able to take away from us. This is not, then, about suffocating the longing that dwells in the heart of man, but about freeing it, so that it can reach its true height. When in desire one opens the window to God, this is already a sign of the presence of faith in the soul, faith that is a grace of God. St Augustine always says: “so God, by deferring our hope, stretched our desire; by the desiring, stretches the mind; by stretching, makes it more capacious” (Commentary on the First Letter of John, 4,6: PL 35, 2009).

On this pilgrimage, let us feel like brothers and sisters of all men, travelling companions even of those who do not believe, of those who are seeking, of those who are sincerely wondering about the dynamism of their own aspiration for the true and the good. Let us pray, in this Year of Faith, that God may show his face to all those who seek him with a sincere heart. Thank you.

 

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To special groups:

I welcome the Inter-ministerial Delegation for Religious Affairs from Vietnam on official visit to the Vatican. I also greet the group from Saint Paul High School in Japan. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England and Wales, Denmark, Finland, Ghana, Australia, Indonesia, South Korea, Canada and the United States, I cordially impart God’s abundant blessings.

And finally, I would like to greet, as usual, the young people, the sick and the newlyweds. The day after tomorrow we will celebrate the liturgical feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St John Lateran, Rome’s Cathedral. May this be an invitation to you, dear young people, to become the precious living stones of the House of the Lord. May it encourage you, dear sick people, to offer to God your daily sacrifice for the good of the whole Christian community; and may it urge you, dear newlyweds, to make your families little domestic Churches.

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Pope Benedict's Message to His Holiness Tawadros II

"I Pray that the Holy Spirit will Sustain you in your Ministry"

ROME, NOV. 19, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message sent by Pope Benedict XVI to His Holiness Tawadros II, on the occasion of his enthronement as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark.

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To His Holiness Tawadros II

Pope of Alexandria

Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark

"Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Gal 1:3)

It is with fraternal joy that I send greetings to Your Holiness on the happy occasion of your enthronement as Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark. To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, I have entrusted the task of conveying these greetings to you, together with assurances of my closeness in prayer as you assume the high office of chief shepherd of the Coptic Orthodox Church. May the Almighty grant Your Holiness abundant spiritual gifts to strengthen you in your new ministry, as you guide the clergy and laity along the paths of holiness, for the good of your people and the peace and harmony of the whole of society.

My thoughts turn at this time to your venerable predecessor, His Holiness Pope Shenouda III, whose long and devoted service to the Lord will surely continue to inspire you and all the faithful. His concern for improving relations with other Christian Churches reinforces our hope that one day all the followers of Christ will find themselves united in that love and reconciliation which the Lord so earnestly desires (cf. Jn 17:21).

Your Holiness, I pray that the Holy Spirit will sustain you in your ministry, so that the flock entrusted to your care may experience the teaching of the Good Shepherd. May they be blessed with the serenity to offer their valuable contribution to the good of society and the well-being of all their fellow-citizens.

I pray too that relations between the Catholic Church and the Coptic Orthodox Church will continue to grow closer, not only in a fraternal spirit of collaboration, but also through a deepening of the theological dialogue that will enable us to grow in communion and to bear witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel.

Conscious of the great challenges which accompany the spiritual and pastoral ministry that Your Holiness is about to undertake, I assure you of my prayers and personal good wishes. With fraternal esteem and affection I implore God’s blessings upon you and upon all the faithful entrusted to your care.

From the Vatican, 14 November 2012

 

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On the Splendor of God's Truth (Year of Faith)

"Through Faith We Come to True Knowledge of God and Ourselves"

VATICAN CITY, Nov. 21, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father continued his series of catecheses on faith.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

We go forward in this Year of Faith, bearing in our hearts the hope of rediscovering how much joy there is in believing and of finding the enthusiasm to communicate to all the truths of the faith. These truths are not a simple message about God, a piece of information about Him. Instead, they express the event of God's encounter with men, a salvific and liberating event, that fulfills the most profound aspirations of man, his desires for peace, brotherhood and love. Faith leads to discover that the encounter with God enhances, refines and elevates what is true, good and beautiful in man. It thus happens that, while God reveals himself and lets himself be known, man comes to know who God is and, in knowing him, discovers himself, his origin, his destiny, the greatness and dignity of human life.

Faith allows an authentic knowledge of God involving the whole human person: it is a "knowing", a knowledge that gives flavor to life, a new taste to existence, a joyful way of being to the world. Faith is expressed in the gift of self to others, in the fraternity that creates solidarity, capable of loving, defeating the loneliness that makes us sad. This knowledge of God through faith is therefore not only intellectual, but vital. It is the knowledge of God-Love, thanks to his own love. The love of God thus makes one see, it opens the eyes, allowing one to know all of reality, beyond the narrow perspectives of individualism and subjectivism that disorient consciences. The knowledge of God is, therefore, an experience of faith and implies, at the same time, an intellectual and moral way: deeply touched by the presence of the Spirit of Jesus in us, we overcome the horizons of our selfishness and open ourselves to the true values ​​of life.

Today I want to focus on the reasonableness of faith in God. The Catholic tradition has from the beginning rejected fideism, which is the will to believe against reason. Credo quia absurdum (I believe because it is absurd) is not a formula that interprets the Catholic faith. God, in fact, is not absurd; if anything, He is mystery. Mystery, in turn, is not irrational, but the overabundance of sense, of meaning, of truth. If, when looking at the Mystery, one's reason sees darkness, it is not because there is no light in the mystery, but rather because there is too much of it. Just as when a man turns his eyes to look directly at the sun, he sees only darkness; but who would say that the sun is not bright? On the contrary, it is the source of light. Faith allows us to look upon the "sun" that is God, because it is a welcoming of his revelation in history and, so to speak, truly receives all the brightness of the mystery of God, recognizing the great miracle: God has approached man and has offered himself to be known by man, deigning to stoop the creaturely limits of his reason (cf. Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 13). At the same time, God, with his grace, enlightens reason, opens new horizons for it, immeasurable and infinite. For this reason, faith is a strong incentive to seek always, to never stop and never grow quiet in the inexhaustible discovery of the truth and of reality. The prejudice of some modern thinkers is false, according to which human reason would be as if blocked by the dogmas of faith. The exact opposite is true, as the great masters of the Catholic tradition have shown. St. Augustine, before his conversion, sought the truth restlessly in all the available philosophies, finding them all unsatisfactory. His painstaking rational search was for him a significant pedagogy for the encounter with the Truth of Christ. When he says, "believe, in order to understand, and understand, the better to believe" (Sermons, 43, 9: PL 38, 258), it is as if he were recounting his own life experience. Intellect and faith are not strangers or antagonists before divine Revelation; rather, both are conditions for understanding its meaning, to receive its authentic message, approaching the threshold of the mystery. St. Augustine, along with many other Christian authors, witnesses to a faith exercised through the use of reason; he thinks and invites us to think. Following in his wake, St. Anselm will say in his Proslogion that the Catholic faith is fides quaerensintellectum, where the search for understanding is an act within belief itself. It will be especially St. Thomas Aquinas - thanks to this tradition - who will confront the reason of the philosophers, showing how much new fruitful vitality comes to rational human thought from the ingrafting of the principles and truths of the Christian faith.

The Catholic faith is therefore reasonable and also nourishes confidence in human reason. The First Vatican Council, in its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Filius, affirmed that reason is able to know God’s existence with certainty through the way of creation, while there belongs to faith alone the possibility of knowing "easily, with absolute certainty and without error "(DS 3005) the truths concerning God, in the light of grace. The knowledge of the faith, furthermore, is not opposed to right reason. Blessed Pope John Paul II, in fact, in the Encyclical Fides et ratio, summed it up thus: "human reason is neither annulled nor debased in assenting to the contents of faith, which are in any case attained by way of free and informed choice"(no. 43). In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason is the right path that leads to God and the fulfillment of self.

This doctrine can be easily recognized throughout the New Testament. St. Paul, writing to the Christians of Corinth, says: "For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles" (1 Cor 1:22-23). In fact, God saved the world not with an act of power, but through the humiliation of his only Son: according to human standards, the unusual manner used by God clashes with the demands of Greek wisdom. Yet, the cross of Christ has its logic, which St. Paul calls: ho logos toustaurou, "the word of the cross" (1 Cor 1:18). The term 'logos' means both reason and word and, if it alludes to the word, it is because it expresses verbally what reason elaborates. Thus, Paul sees in the cross not an irrational event, but a salvific fact that has its own reasonableness, which can be recognized in the light of faith. At the same time, he has such confidence in human reason that he wonders at the fact that many, while seeing the beauty of the works wrought by God, are determined not to believe in Him: "In fact", he writes in his Letter to the Romans, "since the creation of the world, God's invisible perfections - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from the things he has made "(1:20). In this way, St. Peter, too, exhorts Christians in the Diaspora to worship "the Lord Christ in your hearts, always ready to respond to anyone who asks you for an account of the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). In a climate of persecution and of a strong need to witness to the faith, believers are asked to justify their adherence to the word of the Gospel with well-grounded reasons; to give the reasons for our hope.

On these premises regarding the fruitful link between understanding and believing, rests the virtuous relationship between science and faith. Scientific research always leads to the knowledge of new truths about man and the cosmos. We see this. The true good of humanity, accessible in faith, opens the horizon in which its journey of discovery must move. Those studies, for instance, should therefore be encouraged, which are placed at the service of life and which aim to eradicate disease. Also important are the investigations to discover the secrets of our planet and the universe, in the knowledge that man is at the summit of creation not to exploit it foolishly, but to guard it and make it inhabitable. So faith, truly lived, is not in conflict with science; rather, it cooperates with it, offering basic criteria that promote the good of all, asking science to give up only those attempts which - in opposition to God's original plan - can produce effects that turn against man himself. For this reason, too, it is reasonable to believe: if science is a valuable ally of the faith for understanding God's plan in the universe, faith permits scientific progress to occur always for the good and the truth of man, while staying true to this same plan.

That is why it is crucial for people to open themselves to faith and to know God and his plan of salvation in Jesus Christ. In the Gospel, a new humanism is inaugurated, an authentic "grammar" of man and of all reality. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms: "God's truth is his wisdom, which commands the whole created order and governs the world. God, who alone "made heaven and earth" (Ps 115:15), can alone impart true knowledge of every created thing in a relation to himself"(no. 216).

We are confident then that our commitment to the evangelization will help give new centrality to the Gospel in the lives of many men and women of our time. Let us pray that all find in Christ the meaning of life and the foundation of true freedom: without God, in fact, man loses himself. The testimonies of those who have gone before us and have dedicated their lives to the Gospel confirm it forever. It is reasonable to believe, our existence is at stake. It is worth spending oneself for Christ, He alone satisfies the desires of truth and of goodness rooted in the soul of every man: now, in the time that passes, and in the endless day of blessed Eternity. Thank you.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our continuing catechesis for the Year of Faith, we now consider the reasonableness of faith as an encounter with the splendor of God’s truth.  Through faith we come to true knowledge of God and ourselves, and learn to live wisely in this world as we await the fullness of life and happiness in the next. 

Faith and reason are meant to work together in opening the human mind to God’s truth.  By its nature, faith seeks understanding, while the mind’s search for truth finds inspiration, guidance and fulfillment in the encounter with God’s revealed word.  Far from being in conflict, faith and science go hand in hand in the service of man’s moral advancement and his wise stewardship of creation.  The Gospel message of our salvation in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, offers us a true humanism, a “grammar” by which we come to understand the mystery of man and the universe.  In this Year of Faith, may we open our minds more fully to the light of God’s truth, which reveals the grandeur of our human dignity and vocation.

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I offer a cordial greeting to the participants in the conference on Catholic and Muslim cooperation in promoting justice in the contemporary world.  I also greet the group from CAFOD, with gratitude for the agency’s fifty years of charitable activity on behalf of the Church in England and Wales.  Upon all present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Sri Lanka and the United States, I invoke God’s blessings!

 

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Appeal by the Holy Father for Peace in the Middle East

I am following with great concern the escalation of violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Along with my prayerful support for the victims and for those who suffer, I feel obliged to reiterate once again that hatred and violence are not the solution to the problems. I also encourage the initiatives and efforts of those who are trying to achieve a ceasefire and to promote negotiations. I also urge the authorities of both sides to take bold decisions in favor of peace and to put an end to a conflict with negative repercussions throughout the Middle East region, troubled by too many conflicts and in need of peace and reconciliation.

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I extend a cordial greeting to the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the faithful of the parishes of St. John Bosco, in Altamura and St. Michael the Archangel, in Bono; to the representatives of the Dental Clinic of the University of Milan and to the Giacomo Puccini Musical Association, of Cave.

I greet with affection the sick, the newlyweds and the young people, especially the students of the Blessed Maria Cristina Brando School, of Casoria. Next Sunday, the last of Ordinary Time, we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King. Dear young people, put Jesus at the center of your life, and from Him you will receive light and strength in every one of your daily choices. May Christ, who made of the Cross a royal throne, teach you, dear sick people, to understand the redemptive value of suffering lived in union with Him. It is my desire for you, dear newlyweds, to acknowledge the presence of the Lord in your matrimonial journey, as well as to participate in the building of his Kingdom of love and peace.

Today, feast of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Temple, we celebrate the Day for Cloistered Nuns. To the sisters called by the Lord to the contemplative life, I want to assure you of my special closeness and of that of the entire ecclesial Community. I renew, at the same time, the invitation to all Christians not to allow the cloistered monasteries to go lacking in the necessary spiritual and material support. We owe so much, in fact, to these people who devote themselves entirely to prayer for the Church and for the world! Thank you.

 

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On Christ the King

"The Church Invites Us to Contemplate the Lordship of the Risen Savior"

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today the Church celebrates Our Lord Jesus Christ King of the Universe. This solemnity comes at the end of the liturgical year and sums up the mystery of Jesus “first born from the dead and the ruler of all the powers of the earth” (Collect, Year B), directing our gaze toward the perfect realization of the Kingdom of God, when God will be all in all (cf. 1 Cor. 15:28). St. Cyril of Jerusalem says: “We proclaim not only the Lord’s first coming but also a second coming that is much more beautiful than the first. The first, in fact, was a manifestation of suffering, the second is crowned with the diadem of divine royalty ... in the first he was subjected to the humiliation of the cross, in the second he is surrounded and glorified by a throng of angels” (Catechesis XV,1 “Illuminandorum, De secundo Christi adventu,” PG 33, 869 A). The whole mission of Jesus and the content of his message consist in proclaiming the Kingdom of Heaven and of establishing it among men with signs and wonders. “But,” as the Second Vatican Council observes, “the Kingdom is first of all manifested in the very person of Christ” (“Lumen gentium,” 5), which he founded through his death on the cross and resurrection, through which he is revealed as the eternal Lord and Messiah and Priest. This Kingdom of Christ has been entrusted to the Church, which is the “seed” and “beginning” and has the task of announcing it and spreading it among all the nations with the power of the Holy Spirit (cf. ibid.). At the end of the determined time the Lord will hand over the Kingdom to God the Father and will present to him all who have lived by the commandment of love.

Dear friends, we are all called to prolong the salvific work of God, converting to the Gospel, firmly deciding to follow that King who has not come to be served but to serve and to bear witness to the truth (cf. Mark 10:45; John 18:37). In this connection I invite everyone to pray for the 6 new cardinals that I created yesterday, that the Holy Spirit strengthen them in faith and in charity and fill them with his gifts so that they live their new responsibility as a further commitment to Christ and his Kingdom. These new members of the College of Cardinals represent well the universal dimension of the Church: they are Pastors of Churches in Lebanon, in India, in Nigeria, in Colombia, in the Philippines and one of them has been in the service of the Holy See for some time.

Let us invoke the protection of Mary Most Holy for each of them and the faithful entrusted to their service. May the Virgin help all of us to live this present time in expectation of the Lord’s return, fervently imploring God: “Thy Kingdom Come,” and doing those works of light that bring us ever closer to heaven, aware that, in the tormenting vicissitudes of history, God continues to build his Kingdom of love.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

 

Dear brothers and sisters!

Yesterday in Macas, Ecuador Maria Troncatti, sister of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, was proclaimed blessed. She was born in Val Camonica, Italy and was a nurse during the First World War. She later went to Ecuador where she dedicated herself to the people of the forest, in evangelizing and human development. Let us give thanks to God for this generous witness of hers!

Next Saturday, December 1, the university pilgrimage of Rome to the tomb of Peter will take place in observance of the Year of Faith. I will preside at the First Vespers of the First Sunday of Advent with the pilgrims.

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, especially those who have accompanied the new Cardinals created in yesterday’s Consistory. Today, on the Solemnity of Christ the King, the Church invites us to contemplate the Lordship of the Risen Savior and to pray for the coming of his Kingdom. May Christ’s peace always reign in your hearts!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday, a good week. Happy feast day. Best wishes!

 

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Pope's Homily at Solemnity of Christ the King Mass

"Become Imitators of Jesus"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's homily during the Mass celebrating the Solemnity of Christ the King. Also concelebrating at the Mass were six new cardinals of the Catholic Church who were created in yesterday's consistory.

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Your Eminences,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today’s Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, the crowning of the liturgical year, is enriched by our reception into the College of Cardinals of six new members whom, following tradition, I have invited to celebrate the Eucharist with me this morning. I greet each of them most cordially and I thank Cardinal James Michael Harvey for the gracious words which he addressed to me in the name of all. I greet the other Cardinals and Bishops present, as well as the distinguished civil Authorities, Ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful, especially those coming from the Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral care of the new Cardinals.

In this final Sunday of the liturgical year, the Church invites us to celebrate the Lord Jesus as King of the Universe. She calls us to look to the future, or more properly into the depths, to the ultimate goal of history, which will be the definitive and eternal kingdom of Christ. He was with the Father in the beginning, when the world was created, and he will fully manifest his lordship at the end of time, when he will judge all mankind. Today’s three readings speak to us of this kingdom. In the Gospel passage which we have just heard, drawn from the account of Saint John, Jesus appears in humiliating circumstances – he stands accused – before the might of Rome. He had been arrested, insulted, mocked, and now his enemies hope to obtain his condemnation to death by crucifixion. They had presented him to Pilate as one who sought political power, as the self-proclaimed King of the Jews. The Roman procurator conducts his enquiry and asks Jesus: "Are you the King of the Jews?" (Jn 18:33). In reply to this question, Jesus clarifies the nature of his kingship and his messiahship itself, which is no worldly power but a love which serves. He states that his kingdom is in no way to be confused with a political reign: "My kingship is not of this world … is not from the world" (v. 36).

Jesus clearly had no political ambitions. After the multiplication of the loaves, the people, enthralled by the miracle, wanted to take him away and make him their king, in order to overthrow the power of Rome and thus establish a new political kingdom which would be considered the long-awaited kingdom of God. But Jesus knows that God’s kingdom is of a completely different kind; it is not built on arms and violence. The multiplication of the loaves itself becomes both the sign that he is the Messiah and a watershed in his activity: henceforth the path to the Cross becomes ever clearer; there, in the supreme act of love, the promised kingdom, the kingdom of God, will shine forth. But the crowd does not understand this; they are disappointed and Jesus retires to the mountain to pray in solitude (cf. Jn 6:1-15). In the Passion narrative we see how even the disciples, though they had shared Jesus’ life and listened to his words, were still thinking of a political kingdom, brought about also by force. In Gethsemane, Peter had unsheathed his sword and began to fight, but Jesus stopped him (cf. Jn 18:10-11). He does not wish to be defended by arms, but to accomplish the Father’s will to the end, and to establish his kingdom not by armed conflict, but by the apparent weakness of life-giving love. The kingdom of God is a kingdom utterly different from earthly kingdoms.

That is why, faced with a defenseless, weak and humiliated man, as Jesus was, a man of power like Pilate is taken aback; taken aback because he hears of a kingdom and servants. So he asks an apparently odd question: "So you are a king?" What sort of king can such a man as this be? But Jesus answers in the affirmative: "You say that I am a king. For this I was born, and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears my voice" (18:37). Jesus speaks of kings and kingship, yet he is not referring to power but to truth. Pilate fails to understand: can there be a power not obtained by human means? A power which does not respond to the logic of domination and force? Jesus came to reveal and bring a new kingship, that of God; he came to bear witness to the truth of a God who is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8,16), who wants to establish a kingdom of justice, love and peace (cf. Preface). Whoever is open to love hears this testimony and accepts it with faith, to enter the kingdom of God.

We find this same perspective in the first reading we heard. The prophet Daniel foretells the power of a mysterious personage set between heaven and earth: "Behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. To him was given dominion and glory and kingdom, that all peoples, nations and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed" (7:13-14). These words present a king who reigns from sea to sea, to the very ends of the earth, possessed of an absolute power which will never be destroyed. This vision of the prophet, a messianic vision, is made clear and brought to fulfillment in Christ: the power of the true Messiah, the power which will never pass away or be destroyed, is not the power of the kingdoms of the earth which rise and fall, but the power of truth and love. In this way we understand how the kingship proclaimed by Jesus in the parables and openly and explicitly revealed before the Roman procurator, is the kingship of truth, the one which gives all things their light and grandeur.

In the second reading, the author of the Book of Revelation states that we too share in Christ’s kingship. In the acclamation addressed "to him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood", he declares that Christ "has made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father" (1:5-6). Here too it is clear that we are speaking of a kingdom based on a relationship with God, with truth, and not a political kingdom. By his sacrifice, Jesus has opened for us the path to a profound relationship with God: in him we have become true adopted children and thus sharers in his kingship over the world. To be disciples of Jesus, then, means not letting ourselves be allured by the worldly logic of power, but bringing into the world the light of truth and God’s love. The author of the Book of Revelation broadens his gaze to include Jesus’ second coming to judge mankind and to establish forever his divine kingdom, and he reminds us that conversion, as a response to God’s grace, is the condition for the establishment of this kingdom (cf. 1:7). It is a pressing invitation addressed to each and all: to be converted ever anew to the kingdom of God, to the lordship of God, of Truth, in our lives. We invoke the kingdom daily in the prayer of the "Our Father" with the words "Thy kingdom come"; in effect we say to Jesus: Lord, make us yours, live in us, gather together a scattered and suffering humanity, so that in you all may be subjected to the Father of mercy and love.

To you, dear and venerable Brother Cardinals – I think in particular of those created yesterday – is is entrusted this demanding responsibility: to bear witness to the kingdom of God, to the truth. This means working to bring out ever more clearly the priority of God and his will over the interests of the world and its powers. Become imitators of Jesus, who, before Pilate, in the humiliating scene described by the Gospel, manifested his glory: that of loving to the utmost, giving his own life for those whom he loves. This is the revelation of the kingdom of Jesus. And for this reason, with one heart and one soul, let us pray: Adveniat regnum tuum – Thy kingdom come. Amen.

[01571-02.01] [Original text: Italian]

 

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Pope Benedict XVI Address to New Cardinals and Their Families

"The Cardinals are Called to Share in a Special Way in the Popes Solicitude for the Universal Church"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Benedict XVI during this audience with the newly created cardinals who were gathered along with their relatives and pilgrims in Paul VI Hall.

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Lord Cardinals,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Presbyterate,

Dear Friends!

With a grateful heart to the Lord, we wish to prolong today the sentiments and emotions that we lived yesterday and the day before yesterday, on the occasion of the creation of six new cardinals. They were moments of intense prayer and profound communion, lived in the awareness of an event that concerns the universal Church, called to be a sign of hope for all peoples. So I am happy to welcome you also today, in this simple, family meeting and to express my cordial greeting to the new cardinals, as well as to their relatives, friends and all those accompanying them in this very solemn and important circumstance.

 

The Holy Father addressed the English-speaking Cardinals and their families:

I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking Prelates whom I had the joy of raising to the dignity of Cardinal in last Saturday’s Consistory: Cardinal James Michael HARVEY, Archpriest of the Papal Basilica of Saint Paul’s Outside the Walls; Cardinal Baselios Cleemis THOTTUNKAL, Major Archbishop of Trivandrum of the Syro-Malankaras (India); Cardinal John Olorunfemi ONAIYEKAN, Archbishop of Abuja (Nigeria); and Cardinal Luis Antonio TAGLE, Archbishop of Manila (Philippines).

I also welcome their family members and friends, and all the faithful who accompany them here today.

The College of Cardinals, whose origin is linked to the ancient clergy of the Roman Church, is charged with electing the Successor of Peter and advising him in matters of greater importance. Whether in the offices of the Roman Curia or in their ministry in the local Churches throughout the world, the Cardinals are called to share in a special way in the Pope’s solicitude for the universal Church. The vivid color of their robes has traditionally been seen as a sign of their commitment to defending Christ’s flock even to the shedding of their blood. As the new Cardinals assume the burden of office, I am confident that they will be supported by your prayers and assistance as they strive with the Roman Pontiff to promote throughout the world the holiness, communion and peace of the Church.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Dear and Venerable Brothers who have come in to form part of the College of Cardinals! Your ministry is enriched by a new commitment in supporting the Successor of Peter in his universal service to the Church. Therefore, while I renew to each of you my most cordial good wishes, I am confident of your support in prayer and your precious help. Continue confidently and strongly in your spiritual and apostolic mission, keeping your gaze fixed on Christ and reinforcing your love for his Church. We can learn this love also from the Saints, who are the most complete realization of the Church: they loved her and, allowing themselves to be molded by Christ, they spent their life totally so that all men would be illumined by the light of Christ that shines on the face of the Church (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 1). I invoke upon you and upon those present the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and I impart from my heart to you and to all those present a special Apostolic Blessing.

 

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Benedict XVI's Message to Pontifical Academies Session

"The Beauty of the Faith Can Never be an Obstacle to the Creation of Artistic Beauty"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the message sent by Pope Benedict XVI and read through Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone on the occasion of the 17th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies under the theme: "Pulchritudinis  fidei testi:  The Artist, Like the Church, Witness of the Beauty of the Faith."

Two artists, Anna Gulak from Poland and David Lopez Ribes, were awarded the Pontifical Academies Award.

* * *

To the Venerable Brother

Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi

President of the Pontifical Council for Culture

On the occasion of the annual Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, I am happy to send you my cordial greeting, which I gladly extend to the Council of Coordination, to the Lord Cardinals, t the bishops, to the priests, to the men and women Religious, to the Ambassadors and to all the participants.

I special thought goes to the Authorities and the Academics of the Latinitas Pontifical Academy, recently instituted by me with the Motu Proprio Latina Lingua, to give renewed vigor to the knowledge, study and use of the Latin language, be it in the Church or in university and school institutions. I very much hope that this new Academy will undertake, under the guidance of its new President, professor Ivano Dionigi, a profitable and fecund promotional activity of the Latin Language, precious legacy of the tradition and privileged testimony of a cultural patrimony that calls to be transmitted to the new generations.

The Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, organized this year by the renown Pontifical Academy of Fine Arts and Letters of the Virtuous at the Pantheon, has as theme “Pulchritudinis fidei testis. The Artist , Like the Church, Witness of the Beauty of the Faith,” which recalls the beginning of the Motu Proprio with which I wished recently to join the Pontifical Commission for the Cultural Goods of the

Church with the Pontifical Council for Culture so that in a broad and articulated vision of the world of culture, the important ambit of the cultural goods of the Church would be able to find rightful attention and place. A more organic integration of this ambit in the Dicastery’s mission will surely bring fruitful results, in view also of an ever more appropriate guardianship and conscious appreciation of the extraordinary historical-artistic patrimony of the Church, eloquent testimony of the fecundity of the meeting between the Christian faith and human genius.

With such a theme, the 17th Public Session is inserted profoundly in the Year of Faith, whose purpose is to propose again to all the faithful the strength and beauty of the faith. This was, as I myself was able to experience, the great aspiration of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council.

In the Eucharistic celebration for the opening of the Year of Faith, I delivered again the Messages of the Council to the representatives of the various categories, among them the artists. Admirably synthesized in the dense and profound Message of the Council to artists is the course of the Church in the 20thcentury, above all through the constant watch and action undertaken by the Servant of God Paul VI to revive the dialogue with the world of arts, ever more distant from the horizon of the meaning and experience of faith proposed by the Church. The impulse to dialogue imprinted by Vatican Council II was later translated in other moments and gestures as meaningful as they were decisive. Blessed John Paul II wished to write a Letter to Artists on the eve of the Great Jubilee of 2000, entrusting to the Church and to artists a milestone in the path of dialogue and collaboration. Of that famous text I would like to take up just one point: “Every genuine form of art is, in its own way, a way of access to the most profound reality of man and of the world. As such, it constitutes a very valid approach to the horizon of Faith, in which the human event finds its interpretation fully. This is why the evangelical fullness of truth could not but arouse from the beginning the interest of artists, sensitive by their nature to all the manifestations of the profound beauty of reality” (n. 6).

I myself, wishing to solicit once again this necessary and vital dialogue, met with a numerous representation of artists in the Sistine Chapel on November 21, 2009, to address to them an intense appeal, in which I reaffirmed the Church’s desire to rediscover the joy of joint reflection and agreed action, in order to place the topic of beauty again at the center of attention, be it of the ecclesial community or of the civil society and the world of culture. I said, on that very thought-provoking occasion, that beauty should be reaffirmed and manifested in all artistic expressions, without, however, overlooking the experience of faith, but rather confronting it freely and openly to bring to them inspiration and content. The beauty of the faith, in fact, can never be an obstacle to the creation of artistic beauty, because it is in some way it's vital lymph and ultimate horizon. The true artist, in fact, defined by the conciliar Message “custodian of the beauty of the world,” thanks to his particular aesthetic sensibility and his intuition, can gather and receive more profoundly than others the beauty proper of the faith, and hence express it again and communicate it with its own language.

In this connection we can now speak of the artist also as witness, in some privileged way, of the beauty of the faith. Thus he can participate, with his own specific and original contribution, to the very vocation and mission of the Church, in particular when, in the different expressions of art, he wishes or is called to engage in works of art linked directly to the experience of faith and worship, to the liturgical action of the Church, whose centrality was defined by Vatican Council II with the well-known expression “fons et culmen” (Constitution Sacrosanctum Concilium, 10).

To this end, the young priest Giovanni Battista Montini, in the first number of the nascent review Arte Sacra, dated July-September 1931), wrote an essay with the emblematic title “On Future Sacred Art,” in which he analyzed with great lucidity and clarity, the scene of sacred art of the early 1900s, with its tendencies, its merits and its limits. Decades later, this analysis turns out to be of extraordinary timeliness and profundity also for us. Affirmed, first of all, is that “sacred art faces the supreme problem of expressing the ineffable,” for which one “must be initiated in mysticism, and reach with the experience of the senses some reverberation, some palpitation of the invisible Light.” Treating, then, the figure of the Christian artist, who is cemented particularly in sacred art, he wrote: “One also sees how and where true sacred art is born: of the pious and believing, prayerful and desirous artist who watches in silence and goodness, in the expectation of his Pentecost… I think that it is up to our Christian artists to prepare with their works a state of spirit where our spiritual unity, now lacerated, is regained in Christ; unity, I say, that reconciles in due harmony the impression and the expression; the internal and external world; spirit and matter; the soul and the flesh; God and man” (Arte sacra, a.l, n.l, July-September 1931, p.16).

At the beginning of the Year of Faith, therefore, I address a warm invitation to all Christian artists, as well as to those who are open to dialogue with the faith, to undertake the path so sharply traced by the future Paul VI, so that their artistic journey can become, and show itself ever more luminously as an integral itinerary, in which all the dimensions of human existence are involved, so as to witness effectively the beauty of faith in Christ Jesus, image of the glory of God that illumines the history of humanity (cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4.6; Colossians 1:15).

To encourage all those, among the youngest artists, who wish to make their own contribution to the promotion and realization of a new Christian humanism through their artistic research, receiving the proposal formulated by the Council of Coordination between the Academies, I am happy to assign ex aequo the Prize of the Pontifical Academies, dedicated this year to the arts and particularly to the Realms of painting and sculpture, to a Polish sculptor, Anna Gulak, and to a Spanish painter, David Lopez Ribes.

Moreover, as a sign of appreciation and encouragement, I wish that the Medal of the Pontificate be offered to the young Italian sculptor Jacopo Cardillo.

Finally, I hope that all the academics will have an ever more impassioned commitment in their respective fields of activity, taking up also the precious opportunity of the Year of Faith, and, while I entrust each one to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, the Tota Pulchra, model of the faith of believers, I impart from my heart to you, Lord Cardinal, and to all those present a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, November 21, 2012, Memorial of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary

BENEDICTUS PPXVI

 

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Pope's Homily at the Ordinary Consistory For the Creation of Six New Cardinals

"From Now On, You Will Be Even More Closely and Intimately Linked to the See of Peter"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the homily delivered by Pope Benedict XVI at yesterday's Consistory for the Creation of six new cardinals of the Catholic Church.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

These words, which the new Cardinals are soon to proclaim in the course of their solemn profession of faith, come from the Niceno-Constantinopolitan creed, the synthesis of the Church’s faith that each of us receives at baptism. Only by professing and preserving this rule of truth intact can we be authentic disciples of the Lord. In this Consistory, I would like to reflect in particular on the meaning of the word "catholic", a word which indicates an essential feature of the Church and her mission. Much could be said on this subject and various different approaches could be adopted: today I shall limit myself to one or two thoughts.

The characteristic marks of the Church are in accordance with God’s plan, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: "it is Christ who, through the Holy Spirit, makes his Church one, holy, catholic and apostolic, and it is he who calls her to realize each of these qualities" (no. 811). Specifically, what makes the Church catholic is the fact that Christ in his saving mission embraces all humanity. While during his earthly life Jesus’ mission was limited to the Jewish people, "to the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt 15:24), from the beginning it was meant to bring the light of the Gospel to all peoples and lead all nations into the kingdom of God. When he saw the faith of the centurion at Capernaum, Jesus cried out: "I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven" (Mt 8:11). This universalist perspective can be seen, among other things, from the way Jesus applied to himself not only the title "Son of David", but also "Son of Man" (Mk 10:33), as in the Gospel passage that we have just heard. The expression "Son of Man", in the language of Jewish apocalyptic literature inspired by the vision of history found in the book of the prophet Daniel (cf. 7:13-14), calls to mind the figure who appears "with the clouds of heaven" (v. 13). This is an image that prophesies a completely new kingdom, sustained not by human powers, but by the true power that comes from God. Jesus takes up this rich and complex expression and refers it to himself in order to manifest the true character of his Messianism: a mission directed to the whole man and to every man, transcending all ethnic, national and religious particularities. And it is actually by following Jesus, by allowing oneself to be drawn into his humanity and hence into communion with God, that one enters this new kingdom proclaimed and anticipated by the Church, a kingdom that conquers fragmentation and dispersal.

Jesus sends his Church not to a single group, then, but to the whole human race, and thus he unites it, in faith, in one people, in order to save it. The Second Vatican Council expresses this succinctly in the Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium: "All men are called to belong to the new people of God. Therefore this people, while remaining one and unique, is to be spread throughout the whole world and through every age, so that the design of God's will may be fulfilled" (no. 13). Hence the universality of the Church flows from the universality of God’s unique plan of salvation for the world. This universal character emerges clearly on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fills the first Christian community with his presence, so that the Gospel may spread to all nations, causing the one People of God to grow in all peoples. From its origins, then, the Church is oriented kat’holon, it embraces the whole universe. The Apostles bear witness to Christ, addressing people from all over the world, and each of their hearers understands them as if they were speaking his native language (cf. Acts 2:7-8). From that day, in the "power of the Holy Spirit", according to Jesus’ promise, the Church proclaims the dead and risen Lord "in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth" (Acts1:8). The Church’s universal mission does not arise from below, but descends from above, from the Holy Spirit: from the beginning it seeks to express itself in every culture so as to form the one People of God. Rather than beginning as a local community that slowly grows and spreads outwards, it is like yeast oriented towards a universal horizon, towards the whole: universality is inscribed within it.

Our Lord proclaims: "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15); "make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28:19). With these words, Jesus sends the Apostles to all creation, so that God’s saving action may reach everywhere. But if we consider the moment of Jesus’ ascension into heaven, as recounted in the Acts of the Apostles, we see that the disciples are still closed in their thinking, looking to the restoration of a new Davidic kingdom. They ask the Lord: "will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6). How does Jesus answer? He answers by broadening their horizons and giving them both the promise and a task: he promises that they will be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit, and he confers upon them the task of bearing witness to him all over the world, transcending the cultural and religious confines within which they were accustomed to think and live, so as to open themselves to the universal Kingdom of God. At the beginning of the Church’s journey, the Apostles and disciples set off without any human security, purely in the strength of the Holy Spirit, the Gospel and the faith. This is the yeast that spreads round the world, enters into different events and into a wide range of cultural and social contexts, while remaining a single Church. Around the Apostles, Christian communities spring up, but these are "the" Church which is always the same, one and universal, whether in Jerusalem, Antioch, or Rome. And when the Apostles speak of the Church, they are not referring to a community of their own, but to the Church of Christ, and they insist on the unique, universal and all-inclusive identity of the Catholica that is realized in every local church. The Church is one, holy, catholic and apostolic, she reflects in herself the source of her life and her journey: the unity and communion of the Trinity.

Situated within the context and the perspective of the Church’s unity and universality is the College of Cardinals: it presents a variety of faces, because it expresses the face of the universal Church. In this Consistory, I want to highlight in particular the fact that the Church is the Church of all peoples, and so she speaks in the various cultures of the different continents. She is the Church of Pentecost: amid the polyphony of the various voices, she raises a single harmonious song to the living God.

I cordially greet the official Delegations of the different countries, the bishops, priests, consecrated persons, and lay faithful of the various diocesan communities and all those who share in the joy of the new members of the College of Cardinals – their family, friends and co-workers. The new Cardinals, who represent different dioceses around the world, are henceforth associated by a special title with the Church of Rome, and in this way they reinforce the spiritual bonds that unite the whole Church, brought to life by Christ and gathered around the Successor of Peter. At the same time, today’s rite expresses the supreme value of fidelity. Indeed, the oath that you are about to take, venerable brothers, contains words filled with profound spiritual and ecclesial significance: "I promise and I swear, from now on and for as long as I live, to remain faithful to Christ and his Gospel, constantly obedient to the Holy Apostolic Roman Church". And when you receive the red biretta, you will be reminded that it means "you must be ready to conduct yourselves with fortitude, even to the shedding of your blood, for the increase of the Christian faith, for the peace and well-being of the people of God". Whereas the consignment of the ring is accompanied by the admonition: "Know that your love for the Church is strengthened by your love for the Prince of the Apostles".

In these gestures and the words that accompany them, we see an indication of the identity that you assume today in the Church. From now on, you will be even more closely and intimately linked to the See of Peter: the titles and deaconries of the churches of Rome will remind you of the bond that joins you, as members by a very special title, to this Church of Rome, which presides in universal charity. Particularly through the work you do for the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, you will be my valued co-workers, first and foremost in my apostolic ministry for the fullness of catholicity, as Pastor of the whole flock of Christ and prime guarantor of its doctrine, discipline and morals.

Dear friends, let us praise the Lord, who "with manifold gifts does not cease to enrich his Church spread throughout the world" (Oration), and reinvigorates her in the perennial youth that he has bestowed upon her. To him we entrust the new ecclesial service of these our esteemed and venerable Brothers, that they may bear courageous witness to Christ, with a lively growing faith and unceasing sacrificial love. Amen

 

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A Life of Faith

Papal Theologian Speaks on the Grace of Faith

By Edward Pentin

Since around the time of the Reformation, too much emphasis has been placed on providing answers for the faith generated by science and reason, and not enough on how a life of faith begins.

This is the view of Fr. Wojciech Giertych, O.P., the Pope’s theologian, who shared his opinion on the all-important aspect of the beginnings of faith which he sees as especially crucial during this Year of Faith.

In a rare interview on the side lines of a recent event in Rome, Fr. Giertych explained how St. Thomas Aquinas, in his definition of the virtue of faith, says this virtue has a dual function. “He uses the expression ‘beginning of eternal life’, and so begins the eternal life within us, and it adapts our mind to accept that which is not evident,” Fr. Giertych said.

But he added that from about the 16th century, with the Reformation and the Enlightenment, a major focus was placed on the second part of that definition – eternal life. The Church had to react to scientific and rational enquiry, but as a consequence, the beginning of a life of faith was hardly examined. 

“This wasn’t denied,” he said, “but in some sense it wasn’t brought to the fore, it wasn’t developed.” Citing the late American theologian, Cardinal Avery Dulles, he likes to call this the “first instalment of grace.”

“When we make an act of faith, which is possible when we’ve received the grace of faith, immediately there is a contact with God,” explained Fr. Giertych, who teaches at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome. “So we can say this first movement of faith is like a spark plug in a car engine which issues the spark, ignites the petrol and gets the car moving.”

But he stressed it is important to understand and recognise that faith is a supernatural gift of God. “It’s a tool given by God, infused in our reason and, in part, the will, and which enables our mind to go beyond the limits of reason, towards the mystery,” explained the British-born Dominican.

To illustrate his point, he recalled the story told in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke of the sick woman who touched Jesus cloak as he was travelling to Jairus’ house.

The woman had been subject to haemorrhaging  for twelve years, suffered greatly and spent all she had on medical care. But instead of getting better, she grew worse. When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.

“At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him,” reads the passage in Mark 5:30-36. “He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

“You see the people crowding against you,” his disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched me?’ ”

The apostles, noted Fr. Giertych, believe Jesus must be crazy not to notice that all the crowd is touching him as he’s in the middle of the throng of people. “But Jesus says no,” the Dominican theologian continued. “She touched Jesus’s coat with her finger, but she touched his heart with her faith.” Jesus knows this, he said, because he says “power came out of me.”

What this means is that every time we make an act of faith, “the power of God comes out of God and fills us,” Fr. Giertych explained. He agrees that the initial act of faith comes from God, but it still requires a response from us. “The possibility of making the act of faith comes from God because faith is a grace,” he said, “but the lighting of the sparkplug is up to us. We make these acts of faith because we’ve been enabled by God to do this.”

Sometimes we only do it “once in a moment,” he said, “but the issue for the new evangelization is to learn how to make these acts of faith every day - when you’re preaching, when you’re teaching, when you’re praying, or engaged in a conversation with a difficult teenager who’s going through a difficult phase. In every situation before we open our mouths, we [need to] make an act of faith and believe that that faith has the power of touching God.”

Then, he said, “the spark plug is lit and the grace of God is then within us, and we can call as an ally to our conversations the Holy Spirit who is living in the hearts of those to whom we are speaking, or writing, or those who are listening to us as we’re speaking.”

Fr. Giertych, who is not participating in the current Synod of Bishops but observing from afar, said he believes “the novelty, the newness of the new evangelization doesn’t consist in some new technology.” Technology changes, he said, but the novelty “comes always from a new movement of the Holy Spirit that has been ignited every time that we make an act of faith.”

“We need to believe in the supernatural quality of the virtue of faith that has been given to us, as a tool, so that we can encounter God,” he reiterated. “Then there is a divine fecundity in what we do, the fruitfulness of grace.”Sometimes that might involve something very simple, such as saying “God loves you.”

But must all these acts be done with the conscious awareness of God ? “The act of faith is something that is conscious,” he said. “We cannot feel grace, but we can psychologically perceive the fact that we are making an act of faith and there are  situations where sometimes reason and emotions, the whole context, may suggest going against faith: To love our neighbour when our neighbour is difficult, we need to make an act of faith, to believe that God is here to invite the charity of the supernatural love of God into this difficult relationship, into this difficult situation.”

Moreover, Fr. Giertych stressed that as each person grows in faith, these acts of faith “become an almost spontaneous habit of inviting God into every situation.” But he stressed that each person “must learn that” through contemplative prayer and when kneeling in front of the Blessed Sacrament and “believing that he’s there.”

“It becomes a habit in the psychological sense of being sort of automatic, but in moments when we forget about this, we have to call ourselves back and make these acts of faith,” he said. “And that’s why this Year of Faith is great, because it reminds us we have to learn how to make these acts of faith and trust in the power of faith, which is a gift of God.” 

“Since the supernatural life is a life, and the internal dynamism of that life is the source of its growth, we should not think that, with our new techniques, ideas, words, new training or whatever, that we will bring life to the Church. We won’t,” he said. “The life of the Church is divine, and since it’s a divine life, life has within itself the dynamism for life, but it grows when we live out that life, when we live out that faith.”

 

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International Theological Commission's Statement on Year of Faith

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 16, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the statement released by the International Theological Commission regarding the Year of Faith.

* * *

Fides quaerens intellectum,theology exists only in relation to the gift of faith. It presupposes the truth of the faith and endeavours to demonstrate its "boundless riches" (Eph. 3:8), both for the spiritual joy of the whole community of believers and as a service to the Church’s evangelising mission.

The International Theological Commission gratefully welcomes, therefore, the invitation of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Letter Porta fidei (October 11, 2011), to celebrate a Year of Faith. Each member of the International Theological Commission will take part personally in various events commemorating this Year of Faith. But, as a community of faith, the International Theological Commission wishes to heed the message of conversion which is central to the Year of Faith and to renew its commitment to the service of the Church. In order to do so, on December 6, 2012, the International Theological Commission, led by its President, Most Rev. Gerhard Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, will make a pilgrimage to the Papal Basilica of St. Mary Major during its annual Plenary Meeting, and will entrust there its activities and those of all Catholic theologians to the intercession of the faithful Virgin Mary, model for believers, bulwark of the true faith, who is proclaimed "blessed" because she believed (Lk. 1:45).

In connection with the Year of Faith, the International Theological Commission is committed to providing – in medio Ecclesiae – its own specific contribution to the new evangelisation promoted by the Apostolic See, by plumbing the revealed mystery for the benefit of believers, using all the resources of reason enlightened by faith, so as to promote the reception of that faith in the world of today, since "the essential content that for centuries has formed the heritage of all believers needs to be confirmed, understood and explored ever anew, so as to bear consistent witness in historical circumstances very different from those of the past" (Pope Benedict XVI,Porta fidei, n. 4).

The recent document of the International Theological Commission, entitled Theology Today: Perspectives, Principles and Criteria, develops the understanding that theology is entirely derived from faith, and that it is practised in constant dependence on the faith that is lived by the people of God under the guidance of its pastors. In fact, only faith allows the theologian to reach really the object of theological enquiry: the truth of God that bathes the whole of reality in the light of a new day – sub ratione Dei. It is also faith animated by charity which awakens in the theologian the spiritual dynamism needed in order to explore tirelessly the "wisdom of God in its rich variety … made known ... in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Eph. 3:10-11). As St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, "when anyone has a ready will to believe, he loves the truth he believes, he dwells upon it and embrace it with whatever reasons he can find in support of it" [cum enim homo habet promptam voluntatem ad credendum, diligent veritatem creditam et super ea excogitat et amplectitur si quas rationes ad hoc invenire potest] (St. Thomas Aquinas, Summa theologiae, IIae-IIae, q.2, a.10).

The theologian works to "inculturate" in human intelligence, in the form of an authentic science, the intelligible content of "the faith that was once and for all entrusted to the saints" (Jude 3). But the theologian also pays particular attention to the act of faith itself. It is the theologian’s task to "understand more profoundly not only the content of the faith, but also the act by which we choose to entrust ourselves fully to God, in complete freedom. In fact, there exists a profound unity between the act by which we believe and the content to which we give our assent" (Pope Benedict XVI, Porta fidei, 10). The theologian highlights the great human significance of that act (cf. Pope John Paul II, Fides et ratio, 31-33), investigating how God’s prevenient grace draws out from the very heart of human freedom the "yes" of faith, and showing how faith is the "foundation of the entire spiritual edifice" [fundamentum totius spiritualis aedificii] (St. Thomas Aquinas, In III Sent., d. 23, q. 2, q.1, a.1, ad 1; Cf. Summa theologiae, IIa-IIae, q. 4, a.7), in that it informs all the various dimensions of Christian life, personal, familial and communitarian.

Not only is the work of the theologian dependant on the living faith of the Christian people, attentive to "what the Spirit is saying to the churches" (Rev. 2:7), but its whole purpose is to foster the growth in faith of the people of God and the evangelising mission of the Church. Theology "begets, nourishes, defends, and strengthens that most wholesome faith" (St. Augustine, De Trinitate, XIV, 1,3). Indeed, the vocation of the theologian, in responsible collaboration with the Magisterium, is to serve the faith of God’s people (cf. Instruction Donum veritatis of May 24, 1990).

In the same way, the theologian is the servant of Christian joy which is "the joy of truth" [gaudium de veritate] (St. Augustine, Confessions, X, 23, 33). St. Thomas Aquinas distinguished three dimensions in the act of faith: "It is one thing to say: ‘I believe in God’ (credo Deum), for this indicates the object. It is another thing to say: ‘I believe God’ (credo Deo), for this indicates the one who testifies. And it is yet another thing to say: ‘I believe unto God’ (credo in Deum), for this indicates the end or goal of faith. Thus, God can be regarded as the object of faith, as the one who testifies, and as the end of faith, but while the object of faith and the one who testifies can be a creature, only God can be the end of faith, for our mind is directed to God alone as its end" (St. Thomas Aquinas, In Ioannem, c. 6, lectio 3). Believing unto God (credere in Deum) is essential to the dynamism of faith. By adhering with personal faith to the Word of God, the believer consents to the supreme attraction exerted by the full and absolute Good that is the Blessed Trinity. It is the desire for happiness, deeply rooted in every human heart, which drives the spirit and leads the human being to fulfilment in confident surrender to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In this sense, faith – and theology as the science of faith and wisdom – offers to all "lovers of spiritual beauty" (St. Augustine, Regula ad servis Dei, 8,1) a full-flavoured foretaste of eternal joy.

 

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On Bearing Witness to the Christian Faith (Year of Faith)

"The God of Jesus Christ has Revealed our Grandeur as Persons Redeemed by Love"

VATICAN CITY, NOV.28, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Paul VI Hall. The Holy Father continued his series of catecheses on faith.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The main question that we ask today is: how can we speak of God in our time? How can we communicate the Gospel, to open roads to his saving truth in the hearts, that are often closed, of our contemporaries and in their minds, sometimes distracted by the many lights of society? Jesus himself, the Evangelists tells us, in announcing the Kingdom of God asked himself this question. "With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable shall we use?" (Mk 4:30). How can we speak of God today? The first answer is that we can speak of God, because He has spoken with us. The first condition of speaking of God is therefore to listen to what God himself has said. God has spoken to us! God is therefore not a distant hypothesis about the origin of the world, nor a mathematical intelligence far away from us. God cares for us, loves us, has personally entered into the reality of our history, he has communicated himself to the point of becoming incarnate. Thus, God is a reality of our lives, he is so great that he even has time for us, he cares for us. In Jesus of Nazareth, we encounter the face of God, who came down from Heaven to immerse himself into the world of men, into our world, and to teach  the "art of living", the road to happiness, to free us from sin and make us children of God (cf. Eph 1:5, Rom 8:14). Jesus came to save us and show us the good life of the Gospel.

Speaking of God means first of all being clear about what we must bring to the men and women of our time: the God of Jesus Christ as the answer to the fundamental question of why and how should we live. We must not fear the humility of small steps and must trust in the yeast that penetrates the dough and mysteriously causes it to grow (cf. Mt 13:33). In speaking of God, in the work of evangelization, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, we need to recover simplicity, to return to the essentials of the announcement: the Good News of God-Love who comes close to us in Jesus Christ to the point of the Cross and who in the Resurrection gives us hope and opens for us a life that has no end, eternal life. (...) That exceptional communicator who was the apostle Paul gives us a lesson that goes right to the heart of faith with great simplicity.

In the First Letter to the Corinthians he writes: "When I came among you, I did not set out to announce the mystery of God with eloquent speech or wisdom.

For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified "(2:1-2). Thus, the first thing is that Paul is not talking about a philosophy that he has developed, he’s not speaking about ideas that found elsewhere or invented, but he speaks of a reality of his life, of God who came into his life, he speaks of a real God who lives, who spoke with him and will speak with us, he speaks of Christ crucified and risen. The second thing is that Paul is not seeking himself, he does not want to create a fan base, he does not want to go down in history as the head of a school of great knowledge, he is not self-seeking. Rather, St. Paul proclaims Christ and wants to gain people for the true God. Paul speaks only with the desire to preach what has entered into his life and that is the true life that conquered him on the road to Damascus. So, to speak of God means to give space to the One who makes him known, who reveals his face of love, it means expropriating oneself offering it to Christ, knowing that we are not able to gain others to God, but we must await them from God himself, must implore them from Him. Speaking of God is thus born from listening, from our knowledge of God which is realized in familiarity with him, in the life of prayer and according to the Commandments.

Communicating the faith, for St. Paul, does not mean bearing himself, but stating openly and publicly what he has seen and heard in his encounter with Christ, what he has experienced in his life which has been transformed by that encounter: it means bringing Jesus whom he feels present within himself and who has become the true direction of his life, to make it clear to all that the world needs Him and that He is decisive for the freedom of every man. The Apostle is not content with merely proclaiming words, but involves his whole life in the great work of faith. To speak of God, we must make room for Him, in the confidence that He acts in our weakness: to make room for Him without fear, with simplicity and joy, in the profound conviction that the more we put Him at the center and not ourselves, the more our communication will be fruitful. This also applies to the Christian communities: they are called to show the transforming action of God's grace, overcoming all individualism, closure, selfishness, indifference and by living out the love of God in their everyday relations. Are our communities really like this?

At this point we must ask ourselves how Jesus communicated. Jesus, in his uniqueness, speaks of his Father – Abbà – andof the Kingdom of God, with eyes full of compassion for the hardships and difficulties of human existence. He speaks with great realism and, I would say, the most important aspect of the announcement of Jesus is that it makes the world clear and that our life is valuable for God.  Jesus shows that in the world and in creation there appears the face of God and this shows us how in the everyday events God is present in our lives. Both in the parables of nature, the mustard seed, the field with different seeds, or in our lives, for instance in the parable of the prodigal son, Lazarus and other parables of Jesus. From the Gospels we see how Jesus is interested in every human situation he encounters, he is immersed in the reality of the men and women of his time, with full confidence in the Father's help. And that really in this story, in a hidden way, God is present and if we are attentive we can meet him. And the disciples, who live with Jesus, the crowds who meet him, see his reaction to different problems, they see how he speaks, how he behaves, they see in him the action of the Holy Spirit, the action of God. In Him announcement and life are intertwined: Jesus acts and teaches, always starting from an intimate relationship with God the Father. This style becomes an essential indication for us Christians: our way of living in faith and charity becomes a speaking of God in the present time, because it shows, with a life lived in Christ, the credibility, the realism of what we say with words, which are not just words, but show the reality, the true reality. And in this we must be careful to read the signs of the times in our epoch, that is, to identify the potentials, the desires, the obstacles encountered in contemporary culture, in particular the desire for authenticity, the yearning for transcendence, the sensitivity for safeguarding creation, and to communicate without fear the response that faith in God offers. The Year of Faith is an opportunity to discover, with our imaginations animated by the Holy Spirit, new paths on the personal and community level, so that everywhere the power of the Gospel may be wisdom of life and the orientation for existence.

In our time, a privileged place to talk about God is the family, the first school for communicating the faith to the new generations. The Second Vatican Council speaks of parents as the first messengers of God (cf. Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium, 11; Decree Apostolicam Actuositatem, 11), called to rediscover their mission, taking responsibility to educate, to open the minds of children to the love of God as an essential service to their lives, in being the first catechists and teachers of the faith for their children. And in this task, above all vigilance is important, which means knowing how to seize the favorable opportunities to introduce in the family the discourse on faith and helping children reflect critically on the many forms of conditioning to which they are subjected. This attention of parents also means sensitivity in recognizing the possible religious questions present in the minds of children, sometimes obvious, sometimes hidden. Then, joy: the communication of the faith must always have a tone of joy. It is the joy of Easter, which is neither silent about nor hides the realities of pain, suffering, toil, difficulties, misunderstanding and death itself, but can offer criteria for interpreting everything from the perspective of Christian hope. The good life of the Gospel is precisely this new outlook, this ability to see every situation with the eyes of God. It is important to help all members of the family to understand that faith is not a burden but a source of profound joy, it is to perceive the action of God, recognizing the presence of good, that makes no noise, and provides valuable guidance for living well one’s own existence. Finally, the ability to listen and dialogue: the family must be an environment where family members learn to be together, to reconcile their conflicts in mutual dialogue, an environment made of listening and speaking, to understand and love each other, to be a sign for each other of the merciful love of God.

Speaking of God, therefore, means showing through one’s words and life that God is not a competitor for our life, but rather is its true guarantor, the guarantor of the greatness of the human person. Thus, we return to where we started: speaking about God means communicating with strength and simplicity, by one’s word and life, what is essential: the God of Jesus Christ, the God who has shown us a love so great that it became incarnate, died and rose for us; that God who asks us to follow him and to let ourselves be transformed by his immense love in order to renew our lives and our relationships; the God who has given us the Church, to walk together and, through the Word and the Sacraments, to renew the entire City of men, so that it may become the City of God. Thank you.

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our continuing catechesis for the Year of Faith, we now consider the question of how we are to speak about God to our contemporaries, communicating the Christian faith as a response to the deepest longings of the human heart. This means bringing the God of Jesus Christ to the men and women of our time. It means bearing quiet and humble witness each day to the core of the Gospel message. This is the Good News of the God who is Love, who has drawn near to us in Jesus Christ even to the Cross, and who in the Resurrection brings us the hope and promise of eternal life. Jesus gave us an example: by his loving concern for people’s questions, struggles and needs, he led them to the Father. In the task of bringing God to our contemporaries, families play a privileged role, for in them the life of faith is lived daily in joy, dialogue, forgiveness and love. The God of Jesus Christ has revealed our grandeur as persons redeemed by love and called, in the Church, to renew the city of man, so that it can become the city of God.

I offer a cordial welcome to the members and associates of the Catholic Medical Missionary Board, with gratitude for their charitable concern for the health care needs of our brothers and sisters in developing countries. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including the groups from Nigeria, Korea and the United States of America, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Appeal by the Holy Father for World AIDS Day

On 1 December the World Day against AIDS, a United Nations initiative to draw attention to a disease that has caused millions of deaths and tragic human suffering, which is accentuated in the poorest regions of the world, which have great difficulty in getting access to effective drugs. In particular, my thought goes to the large number of children each year who contract the virus from their mothers, although there are treatments to prevent it. I encourage the many initiatives that, in the Church's mission, are being promoted to eradicate this scourge.

***

I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular I greet the priests, religious and seminarians of the Diocese of Macerata accompanied by Bishop Claudio Giuliodori and the Friars Minor of the Province of Sicily: may the visit to the tombs of the Apostles be an opportunity for a renewed vigor of faith in pastoral initiatives.

I am pleased to welcome members of the Court of Auditors of the Italian Republic, on the 150th anniversary of its foundation, and I wish for this institution a useful service for the common good. I also greet the delegation of Cervia for the traditional delivery of salt and the members of the Association Civicrazia.

Lastly, I turn an affectionate thought towards young people, the sick and newlyweds. May the season of Advent that is about to begin be a stimulus for you, dear young people, to rediscover the importance of faith in Christ; may it help you, dear sick people, to face your suffering with your gaze turned towards the Infant Jesus; may it increase in you, dear newlyweds, the sense of God's presence in your new family. Thank you!

 

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Vatican's Accession to UN Convention of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons

"The Holy See Upholds the Values of Brotherhood, Justice and Peace between Persons and Peoples"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the official text of the Holy See's Instrument of Accession to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents. The accession was delivered to the Secretary of the United Nations by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Holy See.

 

* * *

On the afternoon of 26 September 2012, H.E. Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, deposited the instrument of accession to the United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, to the Secretary of the United Nations. In taking this step, both in its own name and on behalf of Vatican City State, the Holy See has declared that it intends to contribute further to the global efforts to prevent and combat crimes against diplomats.

The instrument of accession also recalls that the promotion of brotherhood, justice and peace among individuals and peoples is particularly dear to the heart of the Holy See, and that such promotion requires the observance of the rule of law, as well as respect for human rights. In this perspective, the accession to this Convention reaffirms the Apostolic See's attention for those international instruments on judicial cooperation in matters related to criminal law, which constitute, like this Convention, an effective protection against those criminal activities which threaten peace and human dignity.

Therefore this decision demonstrates not only the Holy See's desire to cooperate in protecting adequately the diplomatic personnel (in primis its own and that accredited to it), but it also contributes to the international community’s efforts to protect itself against the risks of terrorism.

Finally, this initiative is in line with the well-known process, that began some time ago, which aims at adapting the Vatican legal system to the highest international standards related to the fight against this serious scourge.

[01234-02.02] [Original text: Italian]

 

INSTRUMENT OF ACCESSION OF THE HOLY SEE

The undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State has the honor to certify hereby that the Holy See, acting also in the name and on behalf of Vatican City State, accedes to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, which was adopted in New York on 14 December 1973 and came into force on 20 February 1977.

By acceding to this Convention, the Holy See intends to contribute and to give its moral support to the global prevention, repression and prosecution of crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, and to the protection of victims of such crime. In conformity with its own nature, its Mission, and the particular character of Vatican City State, the Holy See upholds the values of brotherhood, justice and peace between persons and peoples, whose protection and strengthening require the primacy of the rule of law and respect for human rights, and it reaffirms that instruments of criminal and judicial cooperation constitute effective safeguards in the face of criminal activities that jeopardize human dignity and peace.

Enclosed are the texts of one reservation and three declarations, which are an integral part of this Instrument of Accession.

In witness whereof the undersigned Cardinal Secretary of State has signed this document and has affixed thereto his seal.

From the Vatican, 18th September 2012

 

+ Tarcisio Card. Bertone

Secretary of State

Reservation and declarations

By acceding to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, the Holy See intends to contribute and to give its moral support to the global prevention, repression and prosecution of such crimes and to the protection of their victims.

In conformity with its own nature, its Mission, and the particular character of Vatican City State, the Holy See upholds the values of brotherhood, justice and peace between persons and peoples, whose protection and strengthening require the primacy of the rule of law and respect for human rights, and it reaffirms that instruments of criminal and judicial cooperation constitute effective safeguards in the face of criminal activities that jeopardize human dignity and peace.

Reservation

Pursuant to article 13.2 of the Convention, the Holy See, acting also in the name and on behalf of Vatican City State, declares that it does not consider itself bound by article 13.1 of the Convention. The Holy See, acting also in the name and on behalf of Vatican City State, specifically reserves the right to agree in a particular case, on an ad hoc basis, to any convenient means to settle any dispute arising out of this Convention.

Declarations

Pursuant to articles8.2 and 8.3 of the Convention, the Holy See declares that it takes the Convention as the legal basis for cooperation on extradition with other Parties to the Convention, subject to the limitations to the extradition of persons provided for by its domestic law.

With regard to articles 8 and 10 of the Convention, the Holy See declares that, in light of its legal doctrine and the sources of its law (Vatican City State Law LXXI, 1 October 2008), nothing in the Convention shall be interpreted as imposing an obligation to extradite or provide mutual legal assistance if there are substantial grounds for believing that the request is made for the purpose of prosecuting or punishing a person on account of that person’s race, religion, nationality, ethnic origin or political opinion; that compliance with the request would cause prejudice to that person’s position for any of these reason; or that the person would be subject to the death penalty or to torture.

Pursuant to the last sentence of article 2.2(a) of the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism, of 9 December 1999, the Holy See, acting also in the name and on behalf of Vatican City State, declares that, from the moment the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, enters into force for the Holy See, it shall be deemed to be included within the scope of the Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism pursuant to its article 2.1(a).

[01235-02.01] [Original text: English]

 

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Holy See on Atomic Energy

"Global security must not rely on nuclear weapons"

VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 21, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address given Monday by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, Vatican secretary for Relations with States, to the 56th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

* * *

Mr. President!

1. I have the honour of conveying to you, Mr. President, to the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Dr. Yukiya Amano, and to all the distinguished participants in this 56th General Conference of the IAEA the best wishes and cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI who, on the occasion of the 50th Anniversary of the IAEA, said: "[T]he commitment to encourage non-proliferation of nuclear arms, to promote a progressive and agreed upon nuclear disarmament and to support the use of peaceful and safe nuclear technology for authentic development, respecting the environment and ever mindful of the most disadvantaged populations, is always more present and urgent" (cf. Angelus Address of July 29, 2007).

2. In a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized

"the risk is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds that would give rise to truly human development" (Pope Benedict XVI Encyclical LetterCaritas in veritate, no. 9).

This risk becomes all the more pronounced when considering also the so-called "nuclear renaissance" across the globe and its numerous related challenges in the connection between nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation; the growth in demand for energy; the threats posed by nuclear terrorism and the nuclear black market; the call for nuclear safety and security, etc.. These challenges will be seriously addressed only by cultivating a culture of peace founded upon the primacy of law and the respect for human life.

In this context, the IAEA can and must contribute to favouring an "ethical interaction of consciences and minds" (ibid.), essential in order to respond to those challenges and to promote a truly integral human development, which, for the Holy See, must be "of universal range, in dialogue between knowledge and praxis" (cfr. ibid., no. 4).

Mr. President!

3. We all know the strong interlinkages between nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation: they are interdependent and mutually reinforcing and their transparent and responsible implementation represents one of the principal instruments not only in the fight against nuclear terrorism, but also in the concrete realization of a culture of life and of peace capable of promoting in an effective way the integral development of peoples. In this perspective the international community should show an effective and visible expression of intent to construct and strengthen a global legal basis for the systematic elimination of all nuclear weapons. It can no longer be considered morally sufficient to draw down the stocks of superfluous nuclear weapons while modernizing nuclear arsenals and investing vast sums to ensure their future production and maintenance. For these reasons, the Holy See regards the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as the cornerstone of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime and will continue to offer its own contribution to the preparation of fertile ground so that the IX Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, scheduled for 2015, will produce consistent and encouraging results not only for strengthening the Treaty itself, but also for making it a more effective instrument in responding to the new challenges that are continually emerging on the nuclear horizon.

Mr. President!

4. Global security must not rely on nuclear weapons. The Holy See considers the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) an important tool to achieve this aim,

without mentioning its potential civil and scientific application through its International Monitoring System.I am honoured to have the name of the Holy See, as well my own name, on the list of countries that support the Ministerial Statement of the VI CTBT Ministerial Conference. The Holy See is convinced that, in working together, the signature, ratification and entry into force of the Treaty will represent a great leap forward for the future of humanity, as well as for the protection of the earth and environment entrusted to our care by the Creator.

Also in this regard, the ratification on the part of all States, in particular nuclear-weapon States, of the respective Protocols to the Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones Treaties is of paramount importance. The Holy See restates its strong support for the efforts to establish such a zone in the Middle East and remains hopeful for the discussions that will take place on this topic in Finland. Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones (NWFZ) are the best example of trust, confidence and affirmation that peace and security are possible without possessing nuclear weapons.

5. Humanity deserves no less than the full co-operation of all States in this important matter. Every step on the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda must be built on the principles of the preeminent and inherent value of human dignity and the centrality of the human person, which constitute the basis of international humanitarian law. Last May, on the occasion of the First Preparatory Committee for the 2015 Review Conference of the Parties to the NPT, the Holy See was a co-sponsor of the Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Dimension of Nuclear Disarmament – one of the principal novelties that emerged during that Meeting. Nuclear weapons have the destructive capacity to pose a threat to the survival of humanity and as long as they continue to exist the threat to humanity will remain. Moreover, nuclear weapons are useless in addressing current challenges such as poverty, health, climate change, terrorism or transnational crime. The only way to guarantee that these weapons will not be used again is through their total, irreversible and verifiable elimination, under international control. In this, the IAEA has a central role to play.

Mr. President,

6. Since its foundation, the International Atomic Energy Agency remains an irreplaceable point of reference for international co-operation in the use of nuclear technology for peaceful purposes and for integral human development. In this regard, the Holy See welcomes Fiji, San Marino and Trinidad and Tobago as new Member States of the IAEA’s family.

An important issue affecting not only the IAEA family, but the human family at large, is the topic of nuclear safety. The Holy See closely follows the progress made in the implementation of the IAEA Action Plan on Nuclear Safety and commends the IAEA on its implementation. What transpired at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station quickly revealed that a local nuclear crisis is indeed a global problem. It also revealed that the world is exposed to real and systemic risks, and not just hypothetical ones, with incalculable costs and the necessity of developing an international political coordination the likes of which have never been seen, thus raising many questions.

Energy security and nuclear security require the adoption of appropriate technical and legal measures, as well as action and responses at the cultural and ethical level. In the short term, technical and legal measures are necessary for the protection of nuclear material and sites and the prevention of acts of nuclear terrorism, whose possible devastating effects are truly difficult to imagine. In the long-term, prevention measures are called for, measures that penetrate to the deepest cultural and social roots through, for example,

programs of formation for the diffusion of a "culture of safety and security" both in the nuclear sector and in the public conscience in general. A special role must be reserved for codes of conduct for human resources which, in the nuclear sector, must always be conscious of the possible effects of their activity. Security depends upon the State, but above all on the sense of responsibility of each person.

Mr. President!

7. The Technical Cooperation Programme (TCP) of the Agency is one of the principal instruments for transferring nuclear science and technology to Member States in order to promote social, economic and integral development. Its initiatives, when tailored to the needs of the recipient States and their partners in the context of national priorities, help to combat poverty and can thus contribute to a more peaceful solution of the serious problems facing humanity.

In this regard, the Holy See is participating in this year’s Scientific Forum dedicated to the topic "Food for the Future: Meeting the Challenges with Nuclear Applications". This theme highlights the pressing need of fighting the hunger and malnutrition of so many members of the human family. The Holy See obviously has no technical solutions to offer. Nevertheless, it is of the opinion that bio– and nuclear- technologies cannot be evaluated solely on the basis of immediate economic interests. They must be submitted beforehand to rigorous scientific and ethical examination, in order to prevent them from becoming harmful for human health and the future of our planet.

8. Also in the context of the TCP, I wish to mention the particular role of radio-nuclides used in the diagnosis and treatment of malignant diseases. Radiation therapy is one of the fundamental treatments of cancer, and more than 50% of the patients diagnosed with this disease would benefit from that kind of therapy either applied alone or in conjunction with surgery and chemotherapy. Yet, in the developing world, more than half of the number of patients suffering from cancer will not have access to radiotherapy due to the lack of appropriate equipment and sufficiently trained staff with expertise in clinical and medical physics. The Holy See appreciates the work and efforts of the IAEA and its partners in the planning and furthering of cancer-control programmes and encourages the IAEA to continue to pursue and strengthen these eminently important activities. The Programme of Action for Cancer Therapy (PACT), which aims at increasing its capacity to assist Member States in the tremendous task of combating cancer and creating regional centres of excellence for radiotherapy, deserves honourable mention.

9. Allow me to conclude, Mr. President, with the following: by considering nuclear policies from the perspective of the "integral development of the human person" (Declaration on the Right to Development, 1986, pp 5), which implies not only material development but, more importantly, the cultural and moral development of every person and all peoples, the Holy See views, and invites others to view, the International Atomic Energy Agency’s contribution to

"peace, health and prosperity".

Thank you, Mr. President!

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Archbishop Mamberti's Intervention at the 67th U.N. General Assembly

"The Transcendent Value of Human Dignity Offers a Secure Basis to the Rule of Law"

NEW YORK, New York, SEPT. 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address delivered by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti,  Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State and Head of the Holy See Delegation, at the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations.

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Mr. President,

As the Secretary-General’s Report (A/66/749, 1) rightly notes, humanity currently faces a situation full of challenges and difficulties. On the one hand, there is always surprising and rapid scientific progress, such as greater access for many to education and to economic well-being, as well as the emergence of new actors and world powers; on the other hand, the world financial crisis, which is worsening some humanitarian and environmental emergencies, does not seem yet to be over, and may even herald new and dangerous conflicts. In this context, the effective spread of the rule of law by every means becomes a particularly urgent task for a just, equitable and effective world governance.

Echoing the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, where it is stated that, "It is essential […] that human rights should be protected by the rule of law", the Secretary-General's Report and the Declaration adopted this morning by this Assembly start from the fundamental affirmation that all physical persons, private and public institutions, states and international organizations must be subject to law that is "just, fair and equitable" (Declaration). These documents reaffirm the unbreakable link between the rule of law and respect for human rights, while underlining at the same time that, in order to govern lawfully, constitutional rules regarding legislative activity, the judicial control of laws and of executive power are necessary, as well as transparency in acts of governance and the existence of public opinion capable of expressing itself freely. Following this broad tendency, the application of the rule of law regards all spheres of social life.

While expressing its own appreciation of these affirmations, the Holy See wishes above all to underline the need to go beyond a simple fixation on procedures which will guarantee a democratic origin for norms and a basic consensus on the part of the international community, in order to bring up-to-date and make effective the substantial principles of justice sanctioned by the preamble of the United Nations Charter and by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Here we ought to list: the inalienable dignity and value of every human person, prior to any law or social consensus; the equality of the rights of nations; and respect for treaties and other sources of international law. Formal respect on its own is insufficient to guarantee an effective national and international rule of law. Only by going beyond such a fixation can national and international institutions avoid being manipulated or coerced into interfering in the lives of individual citizens.

The growing complexity of daily life also determines, almost inevitably, a proliferation of norms and procedures, susceptible in their turn to multiple applications and interpretations even to the point of contradicting each other and placing the certainty of law itself in jeopardy. Such an outcome empties the rule of law of any practical consistency. The fragmentation of juridical phenomenology sometimes then becomes a mirror and a symptom of partial or excessively analytical anthropological visions which make weaker and less certain the unified and integral concept of the person. Juridical disorder on the one hand and anthropological reduction on the other compromise the ultimate and essential goal of all law: to promote and to guarantee the dignity of the human person.

Where there is a lack of objective criteria as a basis and guide for legislative activity, the affirmation of the rule of law is reduced to a sterile tautology, to a mere "rule of rules" (cf. BENEDICT XVI, Speech at the Bundestag, 22 September 2011); and the creation of new laws, although produced by systems which may be described as democratic, may easily become an expression of the will of a few. In order to avoid such perilous deviations, the rule of law must be based upon a unified and comprehensive vision of man, appreciative of the complexity and the richness how people relate to each other, and granting certainty and stability to juridical relationships created within communities by means of a broadly harmonic ensemble of rules and institutions.

The rule of law is also put at risk when it is equated with a legalistic mentality, with a formal and uncritical adherence to laws and rules, in an attitude which can even paradoxically degenerate into a means of abusing human dignity and the rights of individuals, communities and states, as happened during the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century.

Furthermore, in the phrase "rule of law", the concept "law" should be understood as "justice" – what is just, what is a just thing, an element which is proper and inalienable to the nature of every human being and of fundamental social groups, like the family and the state. So how should what is "just", or a "just thing", be understood? In terms of the many underlying anthropological issues, what is right and may be given the force of law is no longer self-evident. The question of how to recognize what is truly right and thus to serve justice when framing laws has never been simple, and today in view of the vast extent of our knowledge and our capacity, it has become still harder (ibid.). The achievements and declarations on human rights, in particular those enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, offer us important points of reference in that direction, but they are not of themselves sufficient unless they are read in the spirit in which they were formulated and in their historical context.

Indeed, the preamble and the first article of the United Nations Charter, together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, are the result of a lengthy juridical and political process, which began with the encounter between the theoretical and philosophical reasoning of Greek culture and the juridical and practical reasoning of the Romans, to which were added other elements, such as Judeo-Christian wisdom, the laws of other European peoples, canon law and its developments, the mediaeval and Renaissance work of Jewish, Arab and Christian philosophers and lastly contribution of the thinking of the Enlightenment and of the political developments due to the revolutions of the 18th century. Thus was created a statute of the fundamental rights of man, recognizable also by non-European and non-Mediterranean cultures, which, after the tragic wars of the 20th century, was adopted by the international community as a fundamental juridical touchstone for the recognition of the legitimacy of any juridical or political activity. It is only in the light of this complex, rich and intricate edifice, which is simultaneously historical, juridical and philosophical, that the inviolable and inalienable rights of the human person can and must be appreciated as the essence of the law, and to which the rules must refer.

In its second paragraph, the preamble of the United Nations Charter underlines the need to "reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights". The word "faith" usually indicates the transcendent, something which does not depend on feelings, concessions, recognitions, or accords. It may however be grasped by philosophical reasoning, a process where we ask ourselves about the meaning of human existence and of the universe and about what offers a true and solid basis to the rule of law, insofar as we are capable of grasping the existence of human nature which is prior and superior to all social theories and constructions, which the individual and communities must respect and must not manipulate at will. Man is not merely self-creating freedom. Man does not create himself. He is intellect and will, but he is also nature, and his will is rightly ordered if he respects his nature, listens to it and accepts himself for who he is, as one who did not create himself. In this way, and in no other, is true human freedom fulfilled (ibid.), and it is only in this way that we can speak truly of the rule of law. Instead, as explained above, positivistic reasoning excludes and is unable to grasp anything beyond what is functional, and can at best give birth to the "rule of rules", a system of norms and procedures built merely upon pragmatic and utilitarian reasons; a tautology which, insofar as it is deprived of permanent values, is liable to manipulation. On the other hand, faith in the transcendental dignity of the human person, or better recognition of his transcendence, becomes the fundamental and indispensable key to understanding the rights codified in the founding documents of the United Nations and a sure guide for their effective care and promotion.

It is well known that, at the international level, there are interest groups present who, by means of formally legitimate procedures, are impacting on the policies of states in order to obtain multilateral norms which not only cannot serve the common good but which, under the guise of legitimacy, are in fact an abuse of norms and of international recommendations, as has been seen in the recent financial crisis.

Similarly, the attempt to promote, in the name of democracy, a materialistic vision of the human person united to a mechanistic and utilitarian vision of law, is also well known. It is here that, notwithstanding the apparent rule of law, the will of the powerful prevails over that of the weakest: children, the unborn, the handicapped, the poor, or as was seen in the financial crisis, those deprived of the right information at the right time.

On the contrary, the transcendent value of human dignity offers a secure basis to the rule of law because it corresponds to the truth about man as a creature of God’s making; while at the same it allows the rule of law to pursue its true purpose, that is, the promotion of the common good. These conclusions lead to the unavoidable premise that the right to life of every human being – in all stages of biological development, from conception until natural death – be considered and protected as an absolute and inalienable value, prior to any state’s existence, to any social grouping and independent of any official recognition.

To this basis of the rule of law should be added all the other components of human rights, without distinction, as envisioned by the principle of indivisibility, according to which "the integral promotion of every category of human rights is the true guarantee of full respect for each individual right" (JOHN PAUL II, World Day of Peace Message 1999, 3). This is a principle which in turn is linked to universality, thus making it possible to say that the integral promotion of all people, without exception as to time or place, is the true guarantee of the full respect for everyone.

All other fundamental human rights are evidently connected to human dignity, as the basic norm, and thus to the rule of law, including the right to a father and a mother, the right to establish and raise a family, the right to grow up and to be educated in a natural family, the right of parents to educate their children, the right to work and to equitable redistribution of the wealth generated, the right to culture, to freedom of thought and to freedom of conscience.

Among these rights, freedom of religion merits a particular mention. The response to the great questions of our existence, man’s religious dimension, the ability to open oneself to the transcendent, alone or with others, is an essential part of each person and to some degree is identifiable with his or her very liberty. The "right to seek the truth in matters religious" (VATICAN COUNCIL II, Dignitatis Humanae, 3), without coercion and in full freedom of conscience, must not be treated by states with suspicion or as something merely to permit or tolerate. On the contrary, the guarantee of such freedom, apart from its actual use, is an inalienable hinge of the rule of law for believer and non-believer alike.

Mr. President,

Faced as we are by challenges old and new, the calling of the High-Level Meeting on the Rule of Law is an important opportunity to reaffirm the will to find political solutions applicable at the global level with the aid of a juridical order solidly based upon the dignity and nature of humanity, in other words, upon the natural law. This is the best path to follow if we wish to realize the grand designs and purpose of the United Nations Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which remain relevant by means of various treaties on human rights, disarmament, and the codification of the great principles of international law and in the gathering and progress made in the norms of humanitarian law. It will be possible to advance if, as well as working through ever more specialized organs, including in economic and financial matters, the United Nations remains a central point of reference for the creation of a true family of nations, where the unilateral interest of the most powerful ones does not trump the needs of the weaker ones. Such will be possible if legislation at the international level is marked by respect for the dignity of the human person, beginning with the centrality of the right to life and to freedom of religion.

Thank you, Mr. President.

 

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Statement by Archbishop Dominique Mamberti to INTERPOL's General Assembly

"The Transcendent Value of Human Dignity[...]Offers the State of Law a Foundation of Secure Stability"

ROME, Nov. 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address given yesterday by H.E. monsignor Dominique Mamberti, Secretary for Relations with States of the Vatican State Secretariat, at the 81st Session of INTERPOL’s General Assembly, which is taking place in Rome.

 * * *

Mr. President,

Gentlemen Ministers,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My Delegation wishes, first of all, to thank the Italian Authorities and all the organizers of this General Assembly of INTERPOL, whose topic “The Challenges Posed to the Police by the Phenomenon of Contemporary Criminal Violence,” is of great relevance for any society.

In the course of the last decades the criminal phenomenon has shown a substantial increase be it from the quantitative point of view or under the profile of the violence of its manifestations. The characteristics of criminal action have evolved in a worrying way, the aggressiveness and cruelty of the incidents being dangerously aggravated. Moreover, criminal activities are now articulated at a global level, with systems of coordination and according to criminal pacts that go beyond the boundaries of States. Hence, globalization has come to shape even this dramatic realm of human life. Sophisticated technical means, huge financial resources, at times dark political complicity, are elements that concur to furnish deleterious support to organized ways of extreme violence (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 513).

At the same time, the development of democratic institutions has made it possible to refine the techniques of protection of the liberty f individuals and the way of a proportionate and responsible use of public force. This notwithstanding, there is always a margin of vulnerability in face of the most cruel criminality, whose manifestations bring into question the very basis of civil coexistence, eroding the fabric of values on which the institutions of the modern State are founded.

The defense and promotion of this fabric of values is the first and most important action to prevent criminality. If the public power is no longer able to operate preventively in this direction, for this very reason its legitimacy should fail. Such a drift is a risk to be avoided with care: the public authority, which has the task of managing the administration of justice and security, necessarily draws its vitality and authoritativeness from a constant reference to an objective ethical order. When the authority loses the credit and trust of the citizens, and leans only on juridical formalism,  the mere governing of rules, without a look of truth on man, this authority becomes a giant with feet of clay.

The democratic States, themselves, must offer all citizens the same guarantee of protection of fundamental rights. It is observed, on the other hand, that even in countries where forms of democratic government are in force, these rights are not always respected (cf. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus, 47). Moreover, in order to stem the most cruel criminal expressions, every State must question itself about the causes that underlie them and investigate the remote origins from which they derive.

The complexity of the phenomenon also implies facing questions that have to do with the force of the State of law also in the most dramatic situations of the life of States, as those posed by the most extreme criminality: how to respect the fundamental principles of law in situations of extreme tension? What role must be ensured to law in the necessary fight against the most violent and unforeseeable criminality? What law must be applied?

The promotion of the State of law is one of the objectives confirmed by the International Community, as recalled once again recently by the high level event organized in New York last September 24, in the framework of the United Nations General Assembly. For the State of law to be in force, a certain number of conditions must be brought together in a harmonious whole: specific constitutional norms concerning the separation of powers and the competencies of different organs, the transparency of the acts of government, the jurisdictional control exercised by an independent magistracy, but also the existence of different voices capable of expressing themselves freely in the public arena. The objective is that either in law or in fact all the physical persons, the public and private institutions, the States and International Organizations, are subject to the law, a law that must be “just and equitable.”

Beyond formalism, the essence of law is justice, or what is just. Today it is not always easy to establish what is the just thing that can become positive law. The Universal Declaration of the Rights of Man gives us an important reference to delineate what is just, but it is not sufficient. It is the fruit of a complex, rich and articulated historical, juridical and philosophical evolution. The Declaration itself recognizes the existence of a prior and superior human nature to all the social theories and constructions, which the individual and the society must respect and not manipulate at will. In his experience of himself, man recognizes that he has not created himself. He is intellect and will, but also nature. Man’s intellect reflects on a fact that is prior to him: his own existence in a determined way; only by accepting this prior fact, and basing itself on it, the intelligence indicates to the will the right way to act, realizing fully its liberty (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Bundestag, Berlin, September 22, 2011). If legislative production and its implementation were limited instead to support themselves on a foundation of formalistic nature, on pragmatic and utilitarian reasons, losing from sight the truth about man, every subsequent regulation, as every institution called to make it respected, would risk being susceptible to instrumentalization. Thus, in the end, the real subject/object would be forgotten of the imperative command: the human person, the whole human person, every human person. Moreover, laws and juridical institutions would fall into discredit among those who should, instead, observe them: “If the moral principles that support the democratic process are not founded, in turn, on anything more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process is shown in all its evidence. Herein lies the real challenge for democracy” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Civil Authorities, London, September 17, 2010).

The transcendent value of human dignity, rooted in man’s very nature and recognizable by right reason, offers the State of law a foundation of secure stability, because it corresponds to the truth of man in as much as created by God, and at the same time it enables the State of law to pursue its true objective, which is the promotion of the common good. If, in fact, this fundamental reference is lacking, risks of imbalance are created: even the affirmation of equality before the law can serve as alibi of evident discriminations and, on the other hand, an excessive affirmation of equality can give way to an individualism where each one claims his rights, removing himself from the responsibility for the common good (cf. Paul VI, Apostolic Letter Octogesima adveniens, 23).

The fight against every form of violence, especially that which manifests itself with greater brutality, implies the moral duty to contribute to bring about the conditions so that it is not born or develop. Those who work in institutions of public security, such as the police forces that you represent, are aware that the first antibodies to every form of criminality are, in fact, the citizens of every country. Built on the alliance and solidarity between citizens and forces of order is the best bastion of resistance to criminality.

Among the most effective actions to create a social context ordered to the common good is the removal of the causes that originate and fuel situations of injustice. A primary and preventive role in this realm must be recognized to education inspired in respect for human life in every circumstance. Without it, in fact, it is not possible to bring about a strong and cohesive social fabric in fundamental values, capable of resisting the provocations of extreme violence. In this connection, the primary place for being made man is the family. In it the children experience the value of their own transcendent dignity, in as much as received in the anticipating gratuitousness of the mutual and stable love of the spouses. Experienced in it are the first forms of justice and forgiveness, cement of intra-family relations and basis for the correct insertion in social life.

Once the centrality of the family is confirmed and the importance of the other intermediate societies, the full respect of human rights needs a convinced attestation that the criminal, no matter how grave the offense committed, remains always a human person, gifted with rights and duties. In him remains, though disfigured by sin, the image of God the Creator.

This gives reason to the fact that the State must take steps to prevent and repress criminal phenomenons, remedying also the disorders caused by criminal actions; but that in doing so it must abstain in every case from the practice of mistreatments and tortures (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 402, 404), as well as ensure the protection of the fundamental liberty enjoyed by every individual person. To be legitimate, every restriction of individual liberty, even if aimed at the prevention or repression of criminal activity, must never become detrimental to personal dignity or unjustly compromise an effective exercise of human rights.

It is only by operating in such terms that the governmental authority, the police forces and all the institutions deputized to security will succeed in arousing and nourishing the trust and respect of the citizens, renewing the foundation of the State of law and rendering ever more effective the fight against criminality.

Thank you, Mr. President!

 

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Archbishop Tomasi's Address to the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees

"The Vicious Circle [Of Violence] Can be Broken by Forgiveness, Dialogue and Reconciliation"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address given by Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi, Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva, at the 63rd Session of the Executive Committee of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

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Mr. Chairman,

The surge in the number of recent conflicts has produced new waves of refugees and displaced persons. The futility of violence as a method for resolving disputes is evident in the price in suffering that hundreds of thousands of persons, mostly women and children, are paying as a consequence of political decisions that disregard their human impact. Forcibly uprooted people challenge the international community that has failed to prevent it, to respond to their vulnerability. Family life has been disrupted, minors find themselves in a lonely life in refugee camps or in dangerous urban environments, and for all refugees the traumatic experience of death and destruction left behind marks their existence forever. These facts are all too familiar as they repeat themselves with every new crisis without, unfortunately, teaching us to avoid such tragedies.

The media spotlight focuses on the more politically interesting cases for them and leave in the shadows of public awareness other masses of displaced people forgotten and left to their tragic destiny. The Holy See Delegation takes note and is grateful for those countries which have kept their borders and their hearts open to receive refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring States and calls on all member States to assist in sharing the burden these new refugee populations place on many of their hosts.

New complicating variables make the obligation to assist today’s refugees more difficult. Not only the persisting economic crisis limits the options of response to the current emergencies, but also a devastating drought in some parts of the world has damaged crops and further weakened economic recovery. Food prices are volatile and foodstuff is excessively used for biofuels. Thus food for refugee camps costs more and risks to be inadequate. It would be an additional tragedy if food speculation were to aggravate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to the increasing number of refugees and forcibly displaced persons.

Regarding burden sharing in the present circumstances, a country’s wealth and level of development needs to be taken into account. Allow me to quote a pertinent remark by Pope Benedict XVI writing to the Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany: "The Holy See has repeatedly insisted that, while the Governments of poorer countries have a responsibility with regard to good governance and the elimination of poverty, the active involvement of international partners is indispensable. This should not be seen as an "extra" or as a concession which could be postponed in the face of pressing national concerns. It is a grave and unconditional moral responsibility, founded on the unity of the human race, and on the common dignity and shared destiny of rich and poor alike, who are drawn ever closer by the process of globalization."1

The limits now experienced with implementing the classical durable solutions of voluntary return, resettlement and local integration should encourage both new efforts to prevent refugee flows and to imagine some concrete mechanisms for a fairer distribution of responsibility in today’s globalized world. The application of the concept of citizenship as an equalizing basic right instead of ethnic or religious affiliation for the population of a country could serve as a good example of a new understanding of social cohesion that helps to prevent conflicts. The commitment to formation of a reconciliation attitude instead of approving and teaching hatred and revenge to children, especially those affected by forced uprooting, will alleviate the risk of future revenge and violence and consequent refugee production. The vicious circle can be broken by forgiveness, dialogue and reconciliation.

Mr. Chairman,

An inevitable consequence of protracted refugee situations is that children born into them get older. Like all children they need hope for their future and an opportunity to develop into productive adults. Education is a key factor in this development. My Delegation welcomes the UNHCR’s expanded vision of education announced in its recent education policy. The preparation of teachers, the availability of education facilities no matter how simple, regular teaching programs, are invaluable resources and good evidence of their value is provided by their implementation in the largest world refugee camp of Dadaab (Kenya). Very important is also the recognition in the UNHCR’s policy that ending refugee education with primary education is to stunt development of the children in our care. The Holy See calls on States hosting refugee populations to remove all barriers to further education for these children, barriers such as study permits and lack of access to government sponsored scholarships, so that their potential might be realized. For the countries unable to meet these objectives, international solidarity should help them. Even though resources are really stretched at the moment, investment in education assures benefits for the future.

Mr. Chairman,

It is once again a fact this year that there are more persons internally displaced by conflict in the world than there are refugees. My Delegation is also aware that the topic of the extent of the UNHCR’s involvement in providing assistance to IDPs is one on which States differ. In some instances there is a genuine fear of "mission creep" and a concern that the core mission of the UNHCR, protection of refugees, will suffer. In other instances there is reason to suspect that the presence of neutral, international eyes during internal armed conflict or the provision of life saving assistance to locally disfavored groups might not be welcome. The Holy See encourages the High Commissioner to continue to go the extra mile with regards to those displaced by armed conflict. This should be done in the first instance by seeking humanitarian access to affected populations to assess their protection needs and in the second instance in coordination with other United Nations bodies by providing crucial assistance to these people. In connection with this the Holy See welcomes the humanitarian efforts being made by the UNHCR on behalf of the people of the Eastern area of the Democratic Republic of Congo. At the same, time my Delegation sincerely hopes that the pleas from the religious leaders of the region be heard and acted on by all parties to the conflict in that region that the killings, rapes, and forced recruitment of child soldiers end.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, as armed clashes persist and new uprooted people are obliged to seek survival in exile and in precarious conditions of physical and psychological suffering it becomes our common responsibility to search and apply more creative and concrete forms of solidarity and protection.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

 

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The Tragic Heroism of Pope Pius XII

by Rev. George W. Rutler

There are commentators on the sports channels whose numbing dialogues would never be confused with the Algonquin Round Table.  These are the so-called Monday Morning Quarterbacks. Some historians quarterback that way.  Pope Pius XII, hailed in his lifetime as a protector of persecuted people, has suffered  in reputation from lax minds who never exercised themselves in the great contests of civilization.

There is increasing evidence that attempts to misrepresent the Pope as feckless and even criminally compliant, began as the work of Communist propagandists, seminally in East Germany at the direction of Moscow.  This was taken up later by people either uninformed or polemical. An impressive number of works have been published recently to correct this, and to them I can only add from my own studies a few details in the anguish of the most terrible years of the 1940’s.

As a child, Eugenio Maria Giuseppi Pacelli  was moved by the early Roman martyrs, and told his uncle that he wanted to be a martyr, but “without nails.” As Pope, his crucifixion without nails began when the diplomat confronted the Evil One who has two faces and hides one.  Pacelli became well aware  that the strengths of diplomacy can strain the apostle, which is why the only one of the Twelve Apostles who was a diplomat, hanged himself.  As a youth sensitive by nature and tutored at home because, according to his sister, he could not take the bad food in seminary, he had the gifts and limitations of a rarified formation. The grandson of an Interior Minister in the Papal States was reared in an intensely clerical world, and one far removed from the nuclear age he would live to see.  He was born on the day that Rutherford B. Hayes was declared president, and  three years before Newman was made a cardinal.  That early environment cultivated his lifelong propensity for baroque effusions, such as his display after the bombing of the Basilica of San Lorenzo, which greatly annoyed the historian Philip Hughes, an admirer, for its contrast to papal serenity during other more distant and rebarbative devastations.

The Fascist propagandist, Farinnaci,  saw the Vatican and its Pope as an enemy in his crosshairs. In 1942, he wrote: “Undoubtedly, we could not agree with the Vatican Wireless broadcasts of sympathy for Jewish Poland; the telegram sent to the Protestant Queen Wilhelmina; the considerable contribution made to the Holy See a few years ago by the Jews; …the appointment of Jews to posts in the Vatican City, almost in defiance of our anti-Semitic (and therefore Catholic) policy.”  To corroborate Farinacci’s case, Jewish prisoners in an Italian concentration camp in Tossica, sent a letter to the Pope who was  a “revered personality who has stood up for the rights of all afflicted and powerless people.”

Around Christmas of 1942, the Vichy government in their collaboration with the Nazis under Laval as head of government distinct from Petain as chief of state, complained about the “Vatican cliques” who “fly up in the air every time it is a question of the descendants of Christ’s Murderers.” On September 2, The New York Times headlined: “Laval Spurns Pope—25,000 Jews in France Arrested for Deportation.” Laval had already exploded in anger against Monsignor Valerio Valeri, dean of the diplomatic corps in France, for speaking out against the government’s anti-Semitism and deportations of Jews.

In September 12, 1942, ten days after German troops entered Stalingrad, exiled Poles and Belgians sent a plea to the pope to condemn Nazi war crimes.  The Pope did not respond, possibly because in the previous year when he had condemned the racial legislation of the new pro-Nazi republic of Slovakia, the German SS retaliated with mass executions of 3,500 Jews in Lodz, Poland.

Also in 1942, Joseph Goebbels published ten million copies of a pamphlet condemning the Vatican’s attempt to protect Jews by enabling hundreds to flee Poland for Spain and Portugal, and sequestering many in the Vatican. For such acts, The Pilot, then an influential Catholic newspaper in Boston, compared Pius XII to other papal protectors of Jews:  Sixtus IV, Clement VII, Eugenius III, Gregory IX and Pius XI.

The journals of Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, formerly a German  spy in Spain and later a counter-spy for the Allies, explain not only how he had persuaded Franco not to allow German troops to attack Gibraltar through Spain.  A devout Catholic, he also foiled Hitler’s attempt to kidnap or assassinate both Pius XII and King Victor Emmanuel after the 1943 arrest of Mussolini at the king’s orders.

From a different perspective, in June of 1942, Bishop Veglia in Yugoslavia, lamented Vatican silence about Italian atrocities among the Croat and Slovene populations annexed to Italy: “…the people are, alas, more and more losing trust in the Catholic Church and loyalty to the Holy Father, while on the other hand they are being thrown into the arms of Communism, in which they are beginning to see the only element which will defend them in the forests against the cruelty of the Italian elements.”

On Christmas Eve, 1942, Pius XII famously broadcast a message to the world, nuanced by his mindfulness of the failed strategies of Pope Leo X with the German princes, and Pope Pius V with Queen Elizabeth I.  The New York Times said of the Pope: “This Christmas more than ever he is a lonely voice crying out in the silence of a continent.” Bishops took up the message and, for instance, Archbishop Gounot in Tunisia, anticipating the Allied landings in French North Africa, denounced the Vichy persecution of Jews.

In Belgium at the start of 1943, the Germans would not let Cardinal van Roey publish the Pope’s Silver Jubilee address, and the Italian government banned the film “Pastor Angelicus” about the life of the Pope. In that same January, the London Tablet commented on the tendency to think that more would have been accomplished by a louder protest from more bishops:  “If there exists a vague atavistic memory that once Popes and Bishops spoke, and wicked Kings trembled, that salutary thing happened because the public opinion of the day had a much fuller and deeper sense of the rights and importance of spiritual authority.  Modern men, who have for so long applauded the narrowing down and emptying of that authority as the emancipation of mankind from the thralldom of superstitions, can hardly be surprised if, as a rule, prelates in the modern era tend in prudence to limit themselves to the field indubitably conceded to them by public opinion.”

In a letter to Bishop von Preysing on April 30, 1943, Pius XII described with unusual candor the theory behind his subtlety “We give to the pastors who are working on the local level the duty of determining if and to what degree the danger of reprisal and of various forms of oppression occasioned by episcopal declarations…seem to advise caution. Here lies one of the reasons, why We impose self-restraint on Ourselves in our speeches…The Holy See has done whatever was in its power, with charitable, financial and moral assistance.” The U.S. diplomat Harold Tittman recorded how anti-Nazi resistance leaders consistently had urged the Pope to follow this policy.

In May of 1943, the secretary of the Jewish Agency for Palestine asked the future Pope John XXIII, “to thank the Holy See for the happy outcome of the steps taken on behalf of the Israelites in Slovakia.”  At the same time, the Pope granted an audience to Dr. Kazimierz Papee, the informal representative of the Polish government in exile to the Holy See.  As recounted by the historian Dariusz Libionka, and mentioned in his own journal, Papee had expressed to the Papal Secretary of State, Luigi Cardinal Maglione, his exasperation with the Pope’s hesitancy to speak about the Polish situation in other than diplomatic language. According to Papee, the Pope abandoned diplomatic reserve to berate him: “I have listened again and again to your representatives about our unhappy children in Poland. Must I be given the same story again?”  In his memoir, “Pius XII I Polska,” Papee recalled that the Pope raised his arms in the air as he reprimanded him.  Pope John XXIII had Papee removed, at the start of his pontificate. In the same week of this strained conversation, the Nazi-controlled Radio Paris  broadcast: “As soon as the Fuhrer assumed power in 1933, the Vatican let loose its hostility…National Socialism tried to settle all conflicts with the Church; the Church rejected the hand offered to her. May she bear the responsibility for this in the annals of history.”

The German  ambassador to the Holy See, Baron Ernst von Kessel, was by all accounts, even that of Churchill, secretly sympathetic to the Allies,  He was convinced that Hitler intended to occupy the Vatican, which he thought would be disastrous, especially if the Pope were shot “fleeing while avoiding arrest.”

That did not happen, and Pius XII became  a “martyr without nails.”  No Monday Morning Quarterback with any self-respect can say that Pius XII did not try his best, and indeed did more than most of the players on that historical stage of the war years, conspicuously in contrast to the mendacity of President Roosevelt in his whitewashing of the Katyn Massacre and the short shrift he gave to the resistance leader Jan Karski. Churchill, whom Pius first met in London in 1911 during a Eucharistic Congress, called him  “the greatest man of our time.” During an audience in 1944, Churchill was surprised at the vehemence with which the Pope urged strict justice for war criminals. An eloquent defender of capital punishment in Thomistic terms, Pius told a Swiss reporter: “Not only do we approve of the [Nuremburg] trial, but we desire that the guilty be punished as quickly as possible, and without exception.”  The diplomat in Pius was frustrated by the position of Monsignor Jozef  Tiso as chief of the Slovakian state. A Nazi puppet, Tiso always wore clerical dress and never suffered canonical censure. The Pope received him privately in audience more than once.  But diplomacy worked when Tiso yielded to the Pope’s sixth formal plea to stop deportation of thousands of Jews.  After the war, Tiso was hanged in his clericals as a war criminal.  However, nothing was done to the Herzegovenian Franciscans in the Ustashe center near Medjugorge, whose complicity in the killing of hundreds of Serbian women and children was described by Cardinal Tisserant as an abomination.

Pius XII’s diplomatic character was his triumph with civilized men and his anguish with barbarians. Had he died a martyr with nails, his legacy could not have been suborned by demagogues. Diplomats tend to live longer than prophets, but to fault diplomacy for not having done what a longer view judges should have been done, can be a self-serving form of detraction.  American Indian wisdom has it that you should not judge a man until you have walked two moons  in his moccasins. It is harder to walk in the Shoes of the Fisherman, for there is a rare succession of those elected to do that. The tension between diplomacy and prophecy was the stuff of tragedy, and that made Pius XII a man of his time, which was the most tragic in the annals of man.

Tagged as: Holocaust, Pope Pius XII, world war ii

The views expressed by the authors and editorial staff are not necessarily the views of

Sophia Institute, Holy Spirit College, or the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts.

By Rev. George W. Rutler

The Rev. George W. Rutler is the pastor of the Church of Our Saviour in New York City. His latest book, Cloud of Witnesses, is available from Scepter Publishing.

 

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Official Summary of the Final Message of the Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the summary released by the Holy See Press Office of the Final Message For the People of God of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith. ZENIT will publish the full Message once it is available in English by the Press Office.

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At the beginning of the document, the bishops recalled the evangelical passage from John which tells about the encounter of Jesus with the Samaritan woman at the well: this is the image of contemporary man with an empty vessel, who is thirsting and is nostalgic for God, and to whom the Church must turn to make the Lord present to him. And just like the Samaritan woman, who encounters Jesus, he can but become a witness of the proclamation of salvation and hope of the Gospel.

Looking specifically at the context of new evangelization, the Synod therefore reminds of the necessity to revive faith, which risks being made obscure in the context of today’s cultures, also faced with the weakening of the faith by many baptized persons. The encounter with the Lord, which reveals God as love, can only come about in the Church, as the form of receptive community and experience of communion; from this, then, Christians become its witnesses also in other places. However, the Church reasserts that to evangelize one must be evangelized first of all, and sends out a plea - starting with herself - for conversion, because the weaknesses of Jesus’ disciples weigh upon the credibility of the mission. Conscious of the fact that the Lord is the guide of history and therefore that evil will not have the last word, the bishops invite the Christians to overcome fear with faith and to look at the world with serene courage because, while full of contradictions and challenges, this is still the world God loves. Therefore no pessimism: globalization, secularization and the new scenarios of society, migration, even with the difficulties and suffering they entail, they must be seen as opportunities for evangelization. Because this is not a question of finding new strategies as if the Gospel was to be spread like a market product, but rediscovering the ways in which individuals come close to Jesus.

The Message looks at the family as the natural place for evangelization and reasserts that it should be supported by the Church, by politics and by society. Within the family, the special role of women is underlined and there is a reminder about the painful situation of divorced and remarried persons: while reconfirming the discipline with regards to access to the sacraments, it is reasserted that they are in no way abandoned by the Lord and that the Church is the welcoming house for all. The Message also mentions consecrated life, witness of the ultra-earthly sense of human existence, and the parishes as centers for evangelization; it recalls the importance of permanent formation for priests and religious men and women and invites the laity (movements and new ecclesial realities) to evangelize, remaining in communion with the Church. New evangelization finds a welcome cooperation with the other Churches and ecclesial communities, they too moved by the same spirit of proclamation of the Gospel. Special attention is focused on the young persons in a perspective of listening and dialogue to redeem and not mortify their enthusiasm.

Then, the Message looks at dialogue, seen in many ways: with culture, which needs a new alliance between faith and reason; with education; with science which, when it doesn’t close man in materialism it becomes an ally for the humanization of life; with art; with the world of economy and work; with the ill and the suffering; with politics, where an uninterested and transparent involvement towards the common good is asked for; with other religions. In particular, the Synod emphasizes that interreligious dialogue contributes to peace, refutes fundamentalism and denounces any violence against believers. The Message recalls the possibilities offered by the Year of the Faith, by the memory of Vatican Council II and by the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Finally, it indicates two expressions of a life of faith, which are especially meaningful for new evangelization: contemplation, where silence allows for the better reception of the Word of God, and service to the poor, in the view of recognizing Christ in their faces.

In the last part, the Message looks at the Church in the various regions of the world and addresses a word of encouragement for the proclamation of the Gospel to each of them: to the Eastern Churches wishing to be able to practice faith in conditions of peace and religious freedom; to the African Church asking for develop evangelization in the encounter of ancient and new cultures, calling then upon the governments to cease the conflicts and violence. The Christians of North America, who live in a culture with many expressions distant from the Gospel, must look towards conversion, to being open to welcoming immigrants and refugees. Latin America is invited to live the permanent mission to face today’s challenges such as poverty, violence, even the new conditions of religious pluralism. The Church in Asia, even while being a small minority, often placed at the edges of society and persecuted, is encouraged and exhorted to the steadfastness of faith. Europe, marked by an even aggressive secularization and wounded by past regimes, has nevertheless created a humanistic culture capable of giving a face to the dignity of man and to the building of the common good; today’s difficulties therefore must not dishearten the European Christians, but must be perceived as a challenge. Oceania is asked to feel once again the involvement of preaching the Gospel. Finally, the Message closes with trust in Mary, the Star of New Evangelization.

 

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Message to the People of God From the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Final Message of the Synod of Bishops to the People of God which was approved yesterday by the Synod Fathers.

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Brothers and sisters,

“Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 1:7). Before returning to our particular Churches, we, Bishops coming from the whole world gathered by the invitation of the Bishop of Rome Pope Benedict XVI to reflect on “the new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith”, wish to address you all in order to sustain and direct the preaching and teaching of the Gospel in the diverse contexts in which the Church finds herself today to give witness.

1. Like the Samaritan woman at the well

Let us draw light from a Gospel passage: Jesus' encounter with the Samaritan woman (cf. John 4:5-42). There is no man or woman who, in one's life, would not find oneself like the woman of Samaria beside a well with an empty bucket, with the hope of finding the fulfillment of the heart's most profound desire, that which alone could give full meaning to life. Today, many wells offer themselves to quench humanity's thirst, but we must discern in order to avoid polluted waters. We must orient the search properly, so as not to fall prey to disappointment, which can be damaging.

Like Jesus at the well of Sychar, the Church also feels obliged to sit beside today's men and women. She wants to render the Lord present in their lives so that they can encounter him because his Spirit alone is the water that gives true and eternal life. Only Jesus can read the depths of our heart and reveal the truth about ourselves: “He told me everything I have done”, the woman confesses to her fellow citizens. This word of proclamation is united to the question that opens up to faith: “Could he possibly be the Messiah?” It shows that whoever receives new life from encountering Jesus cannot but proclaim truth and hope to others. The sinner who was converted becomes a messenger of salvation and leads the whole city to Jesus. The people pass from welcoming her testimony to personally experiencing the encounter: “We no longer believe because of your word; for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is truly the savior of the world”.

2. A new evangelization

Leading the men and women of our time to Jesus, to the encounter with him is a necessity that touches all the regions of the world, those of the old and those of the recent evangelization. Everywhere indeed we feel the need to revive a faith that risks eclipse in cultural contexts that hinders its taking root in persons and its presence in society, the clarity of its content and the coherence of its fruits.

It is not a matter of starting again, but of entering into the long path of proclaiming the Gospel with the apostolic courage of Paul who would go so far as to say “Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9:16). Throughout history, from the first centuries of the Christian era to the present, the Gospel has edified communities of believers in all parts of the world. Whether small or great, these are the fruit of the dedication of generations of witnesses to Jesus – missionaries and martyrs – whom we remember with gratitude.

 The changed social, cultural, economic, civil and religious scenarios call us to something new: to live our communitarian experience of faith in a renewed way and to proclaim it through an evangelization that is “new in its ardor, in its methods, in its expressions” (John Paul II, Discourse to the XIX Assembly of CELAM, Port-au-Prince, 9 March 1983, n. 3) as John Paul II said. Benedict XVI recalled that it is an evangelization that is directed “principally at those who, though baptized, have drifted away from the Church and live without reference to the Christian life... to help these people encounter the Lord, who alone fills our existence with deep meaning and peace; and to favor the rediscovery of the faith, that source of grace which brings joy and hope to personal, family and social life” (Benedict XVI, Homily for the Eucharistic celebration for the solemn inauguration of the XIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 7 October 2012).

3.The personal encounter with Jesus Christ in the Church

Before saying anything about the forms that this new evangelization must assume, we feel the need to tell you with profound conviction that the faith determines everything in the relationship that we build with the person of Jesus who takes the initiative to encounter us. The work of the new evangelization consists in presenting once more the beauty and perennial newness of the encounter with Christ to the often distracted and confused heart and mind of the men and women of our time, above all to ourselves. We invite you all to contemplate the face of the Lord Jesus Christ, to enter the mystery of his life given for us on the cross, reconfirmed in his resurrection from the dead as the Father's gift and imparted to us through the Spirit. In the person of Jesus, the mystery of God the Father's love for the entire human family is revealed. He did not want us to remain in a false autonomy. Rather he reconciled us to himself in a renewed pact of love.

The Church is the space offered by Christ in history where we can encounter him, because he entrusted to her his Word, the Baptism that makes us God's children, his Body and his Blood, the grace of forgiveness of sins above all in the sacrament of Reconciliation, the experience of communion that reflects the very mystery of the Holy Trinity and the strength of the Spirit that generates charity towards all.

We must form welcoming communities in which all outcasts find a home, concrete experiences of communion which attract the disenchanted glance of contemporary humanity with the ardent force of love – “See how they love one another!” (Tertullian, Apology, 39, 7). The beauty of faith must particularly shine in the actions of the sacred Liturgy, above all in the Sunday Eucharist. It is precisely in liturgical celebrations that the Church reveals herself as God's work and makes the meaning of the Gospel visible in word and gesture.

It is up to us today to render experiences of the Church concretely accessible, to multiply the wells where thirsting men and women are invited to encounter Jesus, to offer oases in the deserts of life. Christian communities and, in them, every disciple of the Lord are responsible for this: an irreplaceable testimony has been entrusted to each one, so that the Gospel can enter the lives of all. This requires of us holiness of life.

4. The occasions of encountering Jesus and listening to the Scriptures

Someone will ask how to do all this. We need not invent new strategies as if the Gospel were a product to be placed in the market of religions. We need to rediscover the ways in which Jesus approached persons and called them, in order to put these approaches into practice in today's circumstances.

We recall, for example, how Jesus engaged Peter, Andrew, James and John in the context of their work, how Zaccheus was able to pass from simple curiosity to the warmth of sharing a meal with the Master, how the Roman centurion asked him to heal a person dear to him, how the man born blind invoked him as liberator from his own marginalization, how Martha and Mary saw the hospitality of their house and of their heart rewarded by his presence. By going through the pages of the Gospels as well as the apostles' missionary experiences in the early Church, we can discover the various ways and circumstances in which persons' lives were opened to Christ's presence.

The frequent reading of the Sacred Scriptures – illuminated by the Tradition of the Church who hands them over to us and is their authentic interpreter – is not only necessary for knowing the very content of the Gospel, which is the person of Jesus in the context of salvation history. Reading the Scriptures also helps us to discover opportunities to encounter Jesus, truly evangelical approaches rooted in the fundamental dimensions of human life: the family, work, friendship, various forms of poverty and the trials of life, etc.

5. Evangelizing ourselves and opening ourselves to conversion

We, however, should never think that the new evangelization does not concern us personally. In these days voices among the Bishops were raised to recall that the Church must first of all heed the Word before she can evangelize the world. The invitation to evangelize becomes a call to conversion.

We firmly believe that we must convert ourselves first to the power of Christ who alone can make all things new, above all our poor existence. With humility we must recognize that the poverty and weaknesses of Jesus' disciples, especially of his ministers, weigh on the credibility of the mission. We are certainly aware – we Bishops first of all – that we could never really be equal to the Lord's calling and mandate to proclaim his Gospel to the nations. We know that we must humbly recognize our vulnerability to the wounds of history and we do not hesitate to recognize our personal sins. We are, however, also convinced that the Lord's Spirit is capable of renewing his Church and rendering her garment resplendent if we let him mold us. This is demonstrated by the lives of the Saints, the remembrance and narration of which is a privileged means of the new evangelization.

 If this renewal were up to us, there would be serious reasons to doubt. But conversion in the Church, just like evangelization, does not come about primarily through us poor mortals, but rather through the Spirit of the Lord. Here we find our strength and our certainty that evil will never have the last word whether in the Church or in history: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid” (John 14:27), Jesus said to his disciples.

The work of the new evangelization rests on this serene certainty. We are confident in the inspiration and strength of the Spirit, who will teach us what we are to say and what we are to do even in the most difficult moments. It is our duty, therefore, to conquer fear through faith, discouragement through hope, indifference through love.

6. Seizing new opportunities for evangelization in the world today

This serene courage also affects the way we look at the world today. We are not intimidated by the circumstances of the times in which we live. Our world is full of contradictions and challenges, but it remains God's creation. The world is wounded by evil, but God loves it still. It is his field in which the sowing of the Word can be renewed so that it would bear fruit once more.

There is no room for pessimism in the minds and hearts of those who know that their Lord has conquered death and that his Spirit works with might in history. We approach this world with humility, but also with determination. This comes from the certainty that the truth triumphs in the end. We choose to see in the world the Risen Christ´s invitation to witness to his Name. Our Church is alive and faces the challenges that history brings with the courage of faith and the testimony of her many daughters and sons.

We know that we must face in this world a battle against the “principalities” and “powers”, “the evil spirits” (Ephesians 6:12). We do not ignore the problems that such challenges bring, but they do not frighten us. This is true above all for the phenomena of globalization which must be for us opportunities to expand the presence of the Gospel. Despite the intense sufferings for which we welcome migrants as brothers and sisters, migrations have been and continue to be occasions to spread the faith and build communion in its various forms. Secularization – as well as the crisis brought about the dominance of politics and of the State – requires the Church to rethink its presence in society without however renouncing it. The many and ever new forms of poverty open new opportunities for charitable service: the proclamation of the Gospel binds the Church to be with the poor and to take on their sufferings like Jesus. Even in the most bitter forms of atheism and agnosticism, we can recognize – although in contradictory forms – not a void but a longing, an expectation that awaits an adequate response.

In the face of the questions that prevailing cultures pose to faith and to the Church, we renew our trust in the Lord, certain that even in these contexts the Gospel is the bearer of light and capable of healing every human weakness. It is not we who are to conduct the work of evangelization, but God, as the Pope reminded us: “The first word, the true initiative, the true activity comes from God and only by inserting ourselves in to the divine initiative, only by begging this divine initiative, will we too be able to become – with him and in him – evangelizers” (Benedict XVI, Meditation during the first general Congregation of the XIII General Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Rome, 8 October 2012).

7. Evangelization, the family and consecrated life

Ever since the first evangelization, the transmission of the faith from one generation to the next found a natural home in the family where women play a very special role without diminishing the figure and responsibility of the father. In the context of the care that every family provides for the growth of its little ones, infants and children are introduced to the signs of faith, the communication of first truths, education in prayer, and the witness of the fruits of love. Despite the diversity of their geographical, cultural and social situations, all the Bishops of the Synod reconfirmed this essential role of the family in the transmission of the faith. A new evangelization is unthinkable without acknowledging a specific responsibility to proclaim the Gospel to families and to sustain them in their task of education.

We do not ignore the fact that today the family, established in the marriage of a man and of a woman which makes them “one flesh” (Matthew 19:6) open to life, is assaulted by crises everywhere. It is surrounded by models of life that penalize it and neglected by the politics of society of which it is also the fundamental cell. It is not always respected in its rhythms and sustained in its tasks by ecclesial communities. It is precisely this, however, that impels us to say that we must particularly take care of the family and its mission in society and in the Church, developing specific paths of accompaniment before and after matrimony. We also want to express our gratitude to the many Christian couples and families who, through their witness, show the world an experience of communion and of service which is the seed of a more loving and peaceful society.

Our thoughts also went to the many families and couples living together which do not reflect that image of unity and of lifelong love that the Lord entrusted to us. There are couples who live together without the sacramental bond of matrimony. More and more families in irregular situations are established after the failure of previous marriages. These are painful situations that affect the education of sons and daughters in the faith. To all of them we want to say that God's love does not abandon anyone, that the Church loves them, too, that the Church is a house that welcomes all, that they remain members of the Church even if they cannot receive sacramental absolution and the Eucharist. May our Catholic communities welcome all who live in such situations and support those who are in the path of conversion and reconciliation.

Family life is the first place in which the Gospel encounters the ordinary life and demonstrates its capacity to transform the fundamental conditions of existence in the horizon of love. But not less important for the witness of the Church is to show how this temporal existence has a fulfillment that goes beyond human history and attains to eternal communion with God. Jesus does not introduce himself to the Samaritan woman simply as the one who gives life, but as the one who gives “eternal life” (John 4:14). God's gift, which faith renders present, is not simply the promise of better conditions in this world. It is the proclamation that our life's ultimate meaning is beyond this world, in that full communion with God that we await at the end of time.

Of this supernatural horizon of the meaning of human existence, there are particular witnesses in the Church and in the world whom the Lord has called to consecrated life. Precisely because it is totally consecrated to him in the exercise of poverty, chastity and obedience, consecrated life is the sign of a future world that relativizes everything that is good in this world. May the gratitude of the Assembly of the Synod of Bishops reach these our brothers and sisters for their fidelity to the Lord's calling and for the contribution that they have given and give to the Church's mission. We exhort them to hope in situations that are difficult even for them in these times of change. We invite them to establish themselves as witnesses and promoters of new evangelization in the various fields to which the charism of each of their institutes assigns them.

8. The ecclesial community and the many agents of evangelization

No one person or group in the Church has exclusive right to the work of evangelization. It is the work of ecclesial communities as such, where one has access to all the means for encountering Jesus: the Word, the sacraments, fraternal communion, charitable service, mission.

In this perspective, the role of the parish emerges above all as the presence of the Church where men and women live, “the village fountain”, as John XXIII loved to call it, from which all can drink, finding in it the freshness of the Gospel. It cannot be abandoned, even though changes can require of it either to be made up of small Christian communities or to forge bonds of collaboration within larger pastoral contexts. We exhort our parishes to join the new forms of mission required by the new evangelization to the traditional pastoral care of God's people. These must also permeate the various important expressions of popular piety.

 In the parish, the ministry of the priest – father and pastor of his people – remains crucial. To all priests, the Bishops of this Synodal Assembly express thanks and fraternal closeness for their difficult task. We invite them to strengthen the bonds of the diocesan presbyterium, to deepen their spiritual life, and to an ongoing formation that enables them to face the changes.

Alongside the priests, the presence of deacons is to be sustained, as well as the pastoral action of catechists and of many other ministers and animators in the fields of proclamation, catechesis, liturgical life, charitable service. The various forms of participation and co-responsibility of the faithful must also be promoted. We cannot thank enough our lay men and women for their dedication in our communities' manifold services. We ask all of them, too, to place their presence and their service in the Church in the perspective of the new evangelization, taking care of their own human and Christian formation, their understanding of the faith and their sensitivity to contemporary cultural phenomena.

With regard to the laity, a special word goes to the various forms of old and new associations, together with the ecclesial movements and the new communities: All are an expression of the richness of the gifts that the Spirit bestows on the Church. We also thank these forms of life and of commitment in the Church, exhorting them to be faithful to their proper charism and to earnest ecclesial communion especially in the concrete context of the particular Churches.

Witnessing to the Gospel is not the privilege of one or of a few. We recognize with joy the presence of many men and women who with their lives become a sign of the Gospel in the midst of the world. We also recognize them in many of our Christian brothers and sisters with whom unity unfortunately is not yet full, but are nevertheless marked by the Lord's Baptism and proclaim it. In these days it was a moving experience for us to listen to the voices of many authorities of Churches and ecclesial communities who gave witness to their thirst for Christ and their dedication to the proclamation of the Gospel. They, too, are convinced that the world needs a new evangelization. We are grateful to the Lord for this unity in the necessity of the mission.

9. That the youth may encounter Christ

The youth are particularly dear to us, because they, who are a significant part of humanity and the Church today, are also their future. With regard to them, the Bishops are far from being pessimistic. Concerned, yes; but not pessimistic. We are concerned because the most aggressive attacks of our times happen to converge precisely on them. We are not, however, pessimistic, above all because what moves in the depths of history is Christ's love, but also because we sense in our youth deep aspirations for authenticity, truth, freedom, generosity, to which we are convinced that the adequate response is Christ.

 We want to support them in their search and we encourage our communities to listen to, dialogue with and respond boldly and without reservation to the difficult condition of the youth. We want our communities to harness, not to suppress, the power of their enthusiasm; to struggle for them against the fallacies and selfish ventures of worldly powers which, to their own advantage, dissipate the energies and waste the passion of the young, taking from them every grateful memory of the past and every profound vision of the future.

The world of the young is a demanding but also particularly promising field of the New Evangelization. This is demonstrated by many experiences, from those that draw many of them like the World Youth Days, to the most hidden – but nonetheless powerful – like the different experiences of spirituality, service and mission. Young people's active role in evangelizing first and foremost their world is to be recognized.

10. The Gospel in dialogue with human culture and experience and with religions

The New Evangelization is centered on Christ and on care for the human person in order to give life to a real encounter with him. However, its horizons are as wide as the world and beyond any human experience. This means that it carefully cultivates the dialogue with cultures, confident that it can find in each of them the “seeds of the Word” about which the ancient Fathers spoke. In particular, the new evangelization needs a renewed alliance between faith and reason. We are {softlineconvinced that faith has the capacity to welcome the fruits of sound thinking open to transcendence and the strength to heal the limits and contradictions into which reason can fall. Faith does not close its eyes, not even before the excruciating questions arising from evil's presence in life and in history, in order to draw the light of hope from Christ's Paschal Mystery.

The encounter between faith and reason also nourishes the Christian community's commitment in the field of education and culture. The institutions of formation and of research – schools and universities – occupy a special place in this. Wherever human intelligence is developed and educated, the Church is pleased to bring her experience and contribution to the integral formation of the person. In this context particular care is to be reserved for catholic schools and for catholic universities, in which the openness to transcendence that belongs to every authentic cultural and educational course, must be fulfilled in paths of encounter with the event of Jesus Christ and of his Church. May the gratitude of the Bishops reach all who, in sometimes difficult conditions, are involved in this.

 Evangelization requires that we pay much attention to the world of social communication, especially the new media, in which many lives, questions and expectations converge. It is the place where consciences are often formed, where people spend their time and live their lives. It is a new opportunity for touching the human heart.

A particular field of the encounter between faith and reason today is the dialogue with scientific knowledge. This is not at all far from faith, since it manifests the spiritual principle that God placed in his creatures. It allows us to see the rational structures on which creation is founded. When science and technology do not presume to imprison humanity and the world in a barren materialism, they become an invaluable ally in making life more humane. Our thanks also go to those who are involved in this sensitive field of knowledge.

 We also want to thank men and women involved in another expression of the human genius, art in its various forms, from the most ancient to the most recent. We recognize in works of art a particularly meaningful way of expressing spirituality inasmuch as they strive to embody humanity's attraction to beauty. We are grateful when artists through their beautiful creations bring out the beauty of God's face and that of his creatures. The way of beauty is a particularly effective path of the new evangelization.

In addition to works of art, all of human activity draws our attention as an opportunity in which we cooperate in divine creation through work. We want to remind the world of economy and of labor of some matters arising from the Gospel: to redeem work from the conditions that often make it an unbearable burden and an uncertain future threatened by youth unemployment, to place the human person at the center of economic development, to think of this development as an occasion for humanity to grow in justice and unity. Humanity transforms the world through work. Nevertheless we are called to safeguard the integrity of creation out of a sense of responsibility towards future generations.

 The Gospel also illuminates the suffering brought about by disease. Christians must help the sick feel that the Church is near to persons with illness or with disabilities. Christians are to thank all who take care of them professionally and humanely.

A field in which the light of the Gospel can and must shine in order to illuminate humanity's footsteps is politics. Politics requires a commitment of selfless and sincere care for the common good by fully respecting the dignity of the human person from conception to natural end, honoring the family founded by the marriage of a man and a woman, and protecting academic freedom; by removing the causes of injustice, inequality, discrimination, violence, racism, hunger and war. Christians are asked to give a clear witness to the precept of charity in the exercise of politics.

Finally, the Church considers the followers of religions as her natural partners in dialogue. One is evangelized because one is convinced of the truth of Christ, not because one is against another. The Gospel of Jesus is peace and joy, and his disciples are happy to recognize whatever is true and good that humanity's religious spirit has been able to glimpse in the world created by God and that it has expressed in the various religions.

 The dialogue among believers of various religions intends to be a contribution to peace. It rejects every fundamentalism and denounces every violence that is brought upon believers as serious violations of human rights. The Churches of the whole world are united in prayer and in fraternity to the suffering brothers and sisters and ask those who are responsible for the destinies of peoples to safeguard everyone's right to freely choose, profess and witness to one's faith.

11. Remembering the Second Vatican Council and referring to the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the Year of Faith

In the path opened by the New Evangelization, we might also feel as if we were in a desert, in the midst of dangers and lacking points of reference. The Holy Father Benedict XVI, in his homily for the Mass opening the Year of Faith, spoke of a “spiritual 'desertification'” that has advanced in the last decades. But he also encouraged us by affirming that “it is in starting from the experience of this desert, from this void, that we can again discover the joy of believing, its vital importance for us, men and women. In the desert we rediscover the value of what is essential for living” (Homily for the Eucharistic celebration for the opening of the Year of Faith, Rome, 11 October 2012). In the desert, like the Samaritan woman, we seek water and a well from which to drink: blessed is the one who encounters Christ there!

We thank the Holy Father for the gift of the Year of Faith, a precious gateway into the path of the new evangelization. We thank him also for having linked this Year to the grateful remembrance of the opening of the Second Vatican Council fifty years ago. Its fundamental magisterium for our time shines in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, which is proposed once more as a sure reference of faith twenty years after its publication. These are important anniversaries, which allow us to reaffirm our close adherence to the Council's teaching and our firm commitment to carry on its implementation.

12. Contemplating the mystery and being at the side of the poor

In this perspective we wish to indicate to all the faithful two expressions of the life of faith which seem particularly important to us for witnessing to it in the New Evangelization.

 The first is constituted by the gift and experience of contemplation. A testimony that the world would consider credible can arise only from an adoring gaze at the mystery of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, only from the deep silence that receives the unique saving Word like a womb. Only this prayerful silence can prevent the word of salvation from being lost in the many noises that overrun the world.

We now address a word of gratitude to all men and women who dedicate their lives to prayer and contemplation in monasteries and hermitages. Moments of contemplation must interweave with people's ordinary lives: spaces in the soul, but also physical ones, that remind us of God; interior sanctuaries and temples of stone that, like crossroads, keep us from losing ourselves in a flood of experiences; opportunities in which all could feel accepted, even those who barely know what and whom to seek.

The other symbol of authenticity of the new evangelization has the face of the poor. Placing ourselves side by side with those who are wounded by life is not only a social exercise, but above all a spiritual act because it is Christ's face that shines in the face of the poor: “Whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me” (Matthew 25:40).

We must recognize the privileged place of the poor in our communities, a place that does not exclude anyone, but wants to reflect how Jesus bound himself to them. The presence of the poor in our communities is mysteriously powerful: it changes persons more than a discourse does, it teaches fidelity, it makes us understand the fragility of life, it asks for prayer: in short, it brings us to Christ.

The gesture of charity, on the other hand, must also be accompanied by commitment to justice, with an appeal that concerns all, poor and rich. Hence, the social doctrine of the Church is integral to the pathways of the new evangelization, as well as the formation of Christians to dedicate themselves to serve the human community in social and political life.

13. To the Churches in the various regions of the world

The vision of the Bishops gathered in the synodal assembly embraces all the ecclesial communities spread throughout the world. Their vision seeks to be comprehensive, because the call to encounter Christ is one, while keeping diversity in mind.

The Bishops gathered in the Synod gave special consideration, full of fraternal affection and gratitude, to you Christians of the Catholic Oriental Churches, those who are heirs of the first wave of evangelization – an experience preserved with love and faithfulness – and those present in Eastern Europe. Today the Gospel comes to you again in a new evangelization through liturgical life, catechesis, daily family prayer, fasting, solidarity among families, the participation of the laity in the life of communities and in dialogue with society. In many places your Churches are amidst trials and tribulation through which they witness to their participation in the sufferings of Christ. Some of the faithful are forced to emigrate. Keeping alive their oneness with their community of origin, they can contribute to the pastoral care and to the work of evangelization in the countries that have welcomed them. May the Lord continue to bless your faithfulness. May your future be marked by the serene confession and practice of your faith in peace and religious liberty.

We look to you Christians, men and women, who live in the countries of Africa and we express our gratitude for your witness to the Gospel often in difficult circumstances. We exhort you to revive the evangelization that you received in recent times, to build the Church as the family of God, to strengthen the identity of the family, to sustain the commitment of priests and catechists especially in the small Christian communities. We affirm the need to develop the encounter between the Gospel and old and new cultures. Great expectation and a strong appeal is addressed to the world of politics and to the governments of the various countries of Africa, so that, in collaboration with all people of good will, basic human rights may be promoted and the continent freed from violence and conflicts which still afflict it.

The Bishops of the synodal Assembly invite you, Christians of North America, to respond with joy to the call to a new evangelization, while they look with gratitude at how your young Christian communities have borne generous fruits of faith, charity and mission. You need to recognize the many expressions of the present culture in the countries of your world which are today far from the Gospel. Conversion is necessary, from which is born a commitment that does not bring you out of your cultures, but leaves you in their midst to offer to all the light of faith and the power of life. As you welcome in your generous lands new populations of immigrants and refugees, may you be willing to open the doors of your homes to the faith. Faithful to the commitments taken at the synodal Assembly for America, be united with Latin America in the ongoing evangelization of the continent you share.

 The synodal assembly addressed the same sentiment of gratitude to the Church in Latin America and the Caribbean. Particularly striking throughout the ages is the development in your countries of forms of popular piety still fixed in the hearts of many people, of charitable service and of dialogue with cultures. Now, in the face of many present challenges, first of all poverty and violence, the Church in Latin America and in the Caribbean is encouraged to live in an ongoing state of mission, announcing the Gospel with hope and joy, forming communities of true missionary disciples of Jesus Christ, showing in the commitment of its sons and daughters how the Gospel could be the source of a new, just and fraternal society. Religious pluralism also tests your Churches and requires a renewed proclamation of the Gospel.To you, Christians of Asia, we also offer a word of encouragement and of exhortation. As a small minority in the continent which houses almost two thirds of the world's population, your presence is a fruitful seed entrusted to the power of the Spirit, which grows in dialogue with the diverse cultures, with the ancient religions and with the countless poor. Although often outcast by society and in many places also persecuted, the Church of Asia, with its firm faith, is a valuable presence of Christ's Gospel which proclaims justice, life and harmony. Christians of Asia, feel the fraternal closeness of Christians of other countries of the world which cannot forget that in your continent – in the Holy Land – Jesus was born, lived, died and rose from the dead.

The Bishops address a word of gratitude and hope to the Churches of the European continent, in part marked today by a strong – sometimes even aggressive – secularization, and in part still wounded by many decades of regimes with ideologies hostile to God and to humanity. We look with gratitude towards the past, but also to the present, in which the Gospel has created in Europe particular expressions and experiences of faith – often overflowing with holiness – that have been decisive for the evangelization of the whole world: rich theological thought, various charismatic expressions, various forms of charitable service for the poor, profound contemplative experiences, the creation of a humanistic culture which has contributed to defining the dignity of the person and shaping the common good. May the present difficulties not pull you down, dear Christians of Europe: may you consider them instead as a challenge to be overcome and an occasion for a more joyful and vivid proclamation of Christ and of his Gospel of life.

Finally, the bishops of the synodal assembly greet the people of Oceania who live under the protection of the Southern Cross, they thank them for their witness to the Gospel of Jesus. Our prayer for you is that you might feel a profound thirst for new life, like the Samaritan Woman at the well, and that you might be able to hear the word of Jesus which says: “If you knew the gift of God” (John 4:10). May you more strongly feel the commitment to preach the Gospel and to make Jesus known in the world of today. We exhort you to encounter him in your daily life, to listen to him and to discover, through prayer and meditation, the grace to be able to say: “We know that this is truly the Savior of the World” (John 4:42).

14. The star of Mary illumines the desert

Arriving at the end of this experience of communion among Bishops of the entire world and of collaboration with the ministry of the Successor of Peter, we hear echoing in us the actual command of Jesus to his apostles: “Go and make disciples of all nations [...] and behold, I am with you always, until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19,20). The mission of the Church is not addressed to one geographic area only, but goes to the very hidden depths of the hearts of our contemporaries to draw them back to an encounter with Jesus, the Living One who makes himself present in our communities.

This presence fills our hearts with joy. Grateful for the gifts received from him in these days, we raise to him the hymn of praise: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord [...] The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Luke 1:46,49). We make Mary’s words our own: the Lord has indeed done great things for his Church throughout the ages in various parts of the world and we magnify him, certain that he will not fail to look on our poverty in order to show the strength of his arm in our days and to sustain us in the path of the new evangelization.

The figure of Mary guides us on our way. Our journey, as Pope Benedict XVI told us, can seem like a path across the desert; we know that we must take it, bringing with us what is essential: the gift of the Spiritthe company of Jesus, the truth of his word, the eucharistic bread which nourishes us, the fellowship of ecclesial communion, the impetus of charity. It is the water of the well that makes the desert bloom. As stars shine more brightly at night in the desert, so the light of Mary, the Star of the new evangelization, brightly shines in heaven on our way. To her we confidently entrust ourselves.

 

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On Advent
"The Virgin Mary Perfectly Incarnates the Spirit of Advent"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday before and after praying the midday Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today the Church begins a new liturgical year, a journey that is subsequently enriched by the Year of Faith, which we observe 50 years after the opening of the Second Vatican Council. The first part of this journey is Advent, constituted, in the Roman Rite, by the 4 weeks that precede the Christmas of the Lord, that is, the mystery of the Incarnation. The word “advent” means “coming” or “presence.” In the ancient world it indicated the visit of the king or emperor to a province; in the language of Christianity it refers to the coming of God, to his presence in the world; a mystery that involves the entire cosmos and all of history, but that knows 2 culminating moments: the first and the second coming of Jesus Christ. The first is precisely the Incarnation; the second his glorious return at the end of time. These 2 moments that are chronologically distant – and it is not given to us to know how distant – touch each other in their depths, because with his death and resurrection Jesus has already realized that transformation of man and the cosmos that is the final goal of creation. But before the end, it is necessary that the Gospel be preached to all nations, Jesus says in the Gospel of St. Mark (cf. Mark 13:10). The Lord’s coming continues, the world must be penetrated by his presence.

Our collaboration is required in this permanent coming of the Lord in the proclamation of the Gospel; and the Church, which is like the Bride to be, the Betrothed of the crucified and risen Lamb of God (cf. Apocalypse 21:9), in communion with her Lord collaborates in this coming of the Lord in which his glorious return already begins.

The Word of God reminds us of all this today, describing the conduct that is necessary to ready for the Lord’s coming. In the Gospel of Luke Jesus says to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be weighed by dissipation, drunkenness and the troubles of life ... be vigilant, therefore, praying at all times” (Luke 21:34, 36). So, sobriety and prayer. And the apostle Paul also invites us to “grow and superabound in love” among ourselves and toward others, to make our hearts strong and blameless in sanctity (cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:12-13). In the midst of the upheavals of the world, or in the deserts of indifference and materialism, Christians welcome the salvation that comes from God and bear witness to it with a different way of living, like a city set on a hill. “In those days,” the prophet Jeremiah announces, “Jerusalem will live in peace and be called ‘the Lord our justice’” (33:16). The community of believers is a sign of God, of his justice, which is already present and active in history but is not yet fully realized, and because of this is always awaited, invoked, sought with patience and courage.

The Virgin Mary perfectly incarnates the spirit of Advent; this spirit is one of listening to God, of profound desire to do his will, of joyous service to our neighbor. Letting ourselves be guided by her, so that the God who comes does not find us closed and distracted, but can, in each one of us, extend a part of his kingdom of love, of justice and of peace.

[Following the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted in various languages those present in St. Peter’s Square. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today in Kottar, India, Devasahayam Pillai, a faithful layman, who lived in the 19th century and died a martyr, was proclaimed blessed. Let us join in the joy of the Church in India and pray that this newly beatified son of the Church sustain the faith of the Christians of that great and noble country. Tomorrow the International Day of Rights of Persons with Disabilities is celebrated. Every person, even with his physical and psychological limits, also grave ones, is always an inestimable value and is considered as such. I encourage the ecclesial community to be attentive and welcoming toward these brothers and sisters. I exhort legislators and governments to safeguard persons with disabilities and to promote their full participation in the life of society.

[In English he said:]

I welcome all gathered here today to pray with me. I especially greet the people of Kottar who celebrate today the beatification of Devasahayam Pillai. His witness to Christ is an example of that attentiveness to the coming of Christ recalled by this first Sunday of Advent. May this holy season help us to centre our lives once more on Christ, our hope. God bless all of you!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish everyone a peaceful Sunday and a good Advent journey. Happy Advent, have a good Sunday, everyone. Thank you.

 

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Pope's Address to Venerable English College
"Let your Hearts Burn with Love for Christ, for the Church and for the Mass"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2012 - Here is the text of Pope Benedict XVI's address during his audience with the Venerable English College on the occasion of their 650th Anniversary.

--- --- ---

Your Eminence, dear Brother Bishops,

Monsignor Hudson,

Students and Staff of the Venerable English College,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to the Apostolic Palace, the House of Peter. I greet my Venerable brother, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, a former Rector of the College, and I thank Archbishop Vincent Nichols for his kind words, spoken on behalf of all present. I too look back with great thanksgiving in my heart to the days that I spent in your country in September 2010. Indeed, I was pleased to see some of you at Oscott College on that occasion, and I pray that the Lord will continue to call forth many saintly vocations to the priesthood and the religious life from your homeland.

Through God’s grace, the Catholic community of England and Wales is blessed with a long tradition of zeal for the faith and loyalty to the Apostolic See. At much the same time as your Saxon forebears were building theSchola Saxonum, establishing a presence in Rome close to the tomb of Peter, Saint Boniface was at work evangelizing the peoples of Germany. So as a former priest and Archbishop of the See of Munich and Freising, which owes its foundation to that great English missionary, I am conscious that my spiritual ancestry is linked with yours. Earlier still, of course, my predecessor Pope Gregory the Great was moved to send Augustine of Canterbury to your shores, to plant the seeds of Christian faith on Anglo-Saxon soil. The fruits of that missionary endeavour are only too evident in the six-hundred-and-fifty-year history of faith and martyrdom that distinguishes the English Hospice of Saint Thomas à Becket and the Venerable English College that grew out of it.

Potius hodie quam cras, as Saint Ralph Sherwin said when asked to take the missionary oath, "rather today than tomorrow". These words aptly convey his burning desire to keep the flame of faith alive in England, at whatever personal cost. Those who have truly encountered Christ are unable to keep silent about him. As Saint Peter himself said to the elders and scribes of Jerusalem, "we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Saint Boniface, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Saint Francis Xavier, whose feast we keep today, and so many other missionary saints show us how a deep love for the Lord calls forth a deep desire to bring others to know him. You too, as you follow in the footsteps of the College Martyrs, are the men God has chosen to spread the message of the Gospel today, in England and Wales, in Canada, in Scandinavia. Your forebears faced a real possibility of martyrdom, and it is right and just that you venerate the glorious memory of those forty-four alumni of your College who shed their blood for Christ. You are called to imitate their love for the Lord and their zeal to make him known, potius hodie quam cras. The consequences, the fruits, you may confidently entrust into God’s hands.

Your first task, then, is to come to know Christ yourselves, and the time you spend in seminary provides you with a privileged opportunity to do so. Learn to pray daily, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, listening attentively to the word of God and allowing heart to speak to heart, as Blessed John Henry Newman would say. Remember the two disciples from the first chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, who followed Jesus and asked to know where he was staying, and, like them, respond eagerly to his invitation to "come and see" (1:37-39). Allow the fascination of his person to capture your imagination and warm your heart. He has chosen you to be his friends, not his servants, and he invites you to share in his priestly work of bringing about the salvation of the world. Place yourselves completely at his disposal and allow him to form you for whatever task it may be that he has in mind for you.

You have heard much talk about the new evangelization, the proclamation of Christ in those parts of the world where the Gospel has already been preached, but where to a greater or lesser degree the embers of faith have grown cold and now need to be fanned once more into a flame. Your College motto speaks of Christ’s desire to bring fire to the earth, and your mission is to serve as his instruments in the work of rekindling the faith in your respective homelands. Fire in sacred Scripture frequently serves to indicate the divine presence, whether it be the burning bush from which God revealed his name to Moses, the pillar of fire that guided the people of Israel on their journey from slavery to freedom, or the tongues of fire that descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, enabling them to go forth in the power of the Spirit to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Just as a small fire can set a whole forest ablaze (cf. Jas 3:5), so the faithful testimony of a few can release the purifying and transforming power of God’s love so that it spreads like wildfire throughout a community or a nation. Like the martyrs of England and Wales, then, let your hearts burn with love for Christ, for the Church and for the Mass.

When I visited the United Kingdom, I saw for myself that there is a great spiritual hunger among the people. Bring them the true nourishment that comes from knowing, loving and serving Christ. Speak the truth of the Gospel to them with love. Offer them the living water of the Christian faith and point them towards the bread of life, so that their hunger and thirst may be satisfied. Above all, however, let the light of Christ shine through you by living lives of holiness, following in the footsteps of the many great saints of England and Wales, the holy men and women who bore witness to God’s love, even at the cost of their lives. The College to which you belong, the neighbourhood in which you live and study, the tradition of faith and Christian witness that has formed you: all these are hallowed by the presence of many saints. Make it your aspiration to be counted among their number.

Please be assured of an affectionate remembrance in my prayers for yourselves and for all the alumni of the Venerable English College. I make my own the greeting so often heard on the lips of a great friend and neighbour of the College, Saint Philip Neri, Salvete, flores martyrum! Commending you, and all to whom the Lord sends you, to the loving intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you.

 

---------------------------------------------------------------------

 

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2012 - Here is the text of Pope Benedict XVI's address during his audience with the Venerable English College on the occasion of their 650th Anniversary.

--- --- ---

Your Eminence, dear Brother Bishops,

Monsignor Hudson,

Students and Staff of the Venerable English College,

It gives me great pleasure to welcome you today to the Apostolic Palace, the House of Peter. I greet my Venerable brother, Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, a former Rector of the College, and I thank Archbishop Vincent Nichols for his kind words, spoken on behalf of all present. I too look back with great thanksgiving in my heart to the days that I spent in your country in September 2010. Indeed, I was pleased to see some of you at Oscott College on that occasion, and I pray that the Lord will continue to call forth many saintly vocations to the priesthood and the religious life from your homeland.

Through God’s grace, the Catholic community of England and Wales is blessed with a long tradition of zeal for the faith and loyalty to the Apostolic See. At much the same time as your Saxon forebears were building theSchola Saxonum, establishing a presence in Rome close to the tomb of Peter, Saint Boniface was at work evangelizing the peoples of Germany. So as a former priest and Archbishop of the See of Munich and Freising, which owes its foundation to that great English missionary, I am conscious that my spiritual ancestry is linked with yours. Earlier still, of course, my predecessor Pope Gregory the Great was moved to send Augustine of Canterbury to your shores, to plant the seeds of Christian faith on Anglo-Saxon soil. The fruits of that missionary endeavour are only too evident in the six-hundred-and-fifty-year history of faith and martyrdom that distinguishes the English Hospice of Saint Thomas à Becket and the Venerable English College that grew out of it.

Potius hodie quam cras, as Saint Ralph Sherwin said when asked to take the missionary oath, "rather today than tomorrow". These words aptly convey his burning desire to keep the flame of faith alive in England, at whatever personal cost. Those who have truly encountered Christ are unable to keep silent about him. As Saint Peter himself said to the elders and scribes of Jerusalem, "we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Saint Boniface, Saint Augustine of Canterbury, Saint Francis Xavier, whose feast we keep today, and so many other missionary saints show us how a deep love for the Lord calls forth a deep desire to bring others to know him. You too, as you follow in the footsteps of the College Martyrs, are the men God has chosen to spread the message of the Gospel today, in England and Wales, in Canada, in Scandinavia. Your forebears faced a real possibility of martyrdom, and it is right and just that you venerate the glorious memory of those forty-four alumni of your College who shed their blood for Christ. You are called to imitate their love for the Lord and their zeal to make him known, potius hodie quam cras. The consequences, the fruits, you may confidently entrust into God’s hands.

Your first task, then, is to come to know Christ yourselves, and the time you spend in seminary provides you with a privileged opportunity to do so. Learn to pray daily, especially in the presence of the Blessed Sacrament, listening attentively to the word of God and allowing heart to speak to heart, as Blessed John Henry Newman would say. Remember the two disciples from the first chapter of Saint John’s Gospel, who followed Jesus and asked to know where he was staying, and, like them, respond eagerly to his invitation to "come and see" (1:37-39). Allow the fascination of his person to capture your imagination and warm your heart. He has chosen you to be his friends, not his servants, and he invites you to share in his priestly work of bringing about the salvation of the world. Place yourselves completely at his disposal and allow him to form you for whatever task it may be that he has in mind for you.

You have heard much talk about the new evangelization, the proclamation of Christ in those parts of the world where the Gospel has already been preached, but where to a greater or lesser degree the embers of faith have grown cold and now need to be fanned once more into a flame. Your College motto speaks of Christ’s desire to bring fire to the earth, and your mission is to serve as his instruments in the work of rekindling the faith in your respective homelands. Fire in sacred Scripture frequently serves to indicate the divine presence, whether it be the burning bush from which God revealed his name to Moses, the pillar of fire that guided the people of Israel on their journey from slavery to freedom, or the tongues of fire that descended upon the Apostles at Pentecost, enabling them to go forth in the power of the Spirit to proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth. Just as a small fire can set a whole forest ablaze (cf. Jas 3:5), so the faithful testimony of a few can release the purifying and transforming power of God’s love so that it spreads like wildfire throughout a community or a nation. Like the martyrs of England and Wales, then, let your hearts burn with love for Christ, for the Church and for the Mass.

When I visited the United Kingdom, I saw for myself that there is a great spiritual hunger among the people. Bring them the true nourishment that comes from knowing, loving and serving Christ. Speak the truth of the Gospel to them with love. Offer them the living water of the Christian faith and point them towards the bread of life, so that their hunger and thirst may be satisfied. Above all, however, let the light of Christ shine through you by living lives of holiness, following in the footsteps of the many great saints of England and Wales, the holy men and women who bore witness to God’s love, even at the cost of their lives. The College to which you belong, the neighbourhood in which you live and study, the tradition of faith and Christian witness that has formed you: all these are hallowed by the presence of many saints. Make it your aspiration to be counted among their number.

Please be assured of an affectionate remembrance in my prayers for yourselves and for all the alumni of the Venerable English College. I make my own the greeting so often heard on the lips of a great friend and neighbour of the College, Saint Philip Neri, Salvete, flores martyrum! Commending you, and all to whom the Lord sends you, to the loving intercession of Our Lady of Walsingham, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of peace and joy in the Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you.

 


Archbishop Nichols' Homily at Venerable English College Anniversary Mass
"Today We are Very Conscious of Wanting to Deepen in our Church and in our Lives a New Spirit of Evangelization"

ROME, DEC. 3, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the homily given by Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster at the 650th Anniversary of the Venerable English College.

--- --- ---

Since 1362 English and Welsh people have gathered on this spot to rest and pray, as they have come to Rome to grow in faith. Across the years people from every walk of life have been here, often assembling as a fairly motley crew – not unlike us today – with, of course, some notable exceptions!

Your Eminence we are grateful for your presence, which so raises the tone of this congregation.

Your Royal Highnesses, we are so honoured by your presence and by the graciousness of Her Majesty the Queen whom you represent to us today. This is such an historical occasion and one that will always feature in the long history of this institution which we are marking during this 650th anniversary year. Indeed, your presence here reminds us of the heights to which the English Hospice rose when, at the period towards the end of the 15th century, it was known as ‘the King’s Hospice’. We are glad that once again the Royal family of our nations is officially present in this place.

As we know, with the coming of the 16th century more difficult times arrived and the Hospice became a seminary in 1579. Two years later, on 1st December, Fr Ralph Sherwin became the first martyr priest of the new College.

This year, then, we celebrate this Martyrs’ Day in the context of that 650th anniversary, an anniversary which is coming to a close in great style, with our Royal guests here today and a Papal Audience to come on Monday.

There is another context, too, for our celebration and that is the beginning of the Advent season, starting tomorrow.

The word Advent has, or course, two layers of meaning. It reminds us that we are on a journey, and a journey with a focus. We are moving towards a crucial destiny, our meeting with the new-born child, Jesus, in whom the fullness of the Godhead is before us. And the word Advent also points to an arrival, the advent of a person of note and distinction. Indeed, the full New Testament phrase for this season is Adventus Domini, the coming of the Lord, both his coming in our time and his coming at the end of time. In time he comes in humility and suffering; at the end of time as we know it, he will come in glory and power.

In many ways the martyrs of this college make real this double advent. As with all martyrs they have the keenest sense of their ultimate destiny. It is as if heaven is almost within their grasp. They sense its joy even as they face dreadful suffering and death. They know their journey is almost complete and they rejoice!

And in their lives and witness they wish nothing more than to point to the Lord who is coming. They are heralds of the Adventus Domini, whether that coming is in the Word of the Gospel they proclaimed in their faith in the Church, or in the Sacrifice of the Mass for which they were willing to risk their freedom and life, or in the role of the Petrine ministry in the Church which they knew to be a precious and necessary gift of the Lord, given so that the Church would maintain her faithfulness to the Lord and not to the temporal powers of any age or state.

The readings chosen for this Mass have an anticipation of Advent in them. St Paul has spoken to us of the joy of ‘looking forward exultantly to God’s glory’ and therefore of being able to transform hardship into a learning experience, one that fashions in us a perseverance for the journey. And he tells us again that such perseverance gives rise to well-founded hope, ‘a hope’, he says, ‘that will not let us down because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us.’

The author of Ecclesiasticus is more graphic in the description of the struggles and sufferings of those who stay faithful to the Lord rather than bend to current fashion or requirements. ‘My life has been close to death’, he says echoing the experience of our martyrs, but ‘Then I remembered your mercy Lord…and how you deliver those who wait for you patiently.’ Such is the witness of great faith, especially when waiting patiently involves the agonising pain of cruel execution.

Yet it is the image offered by St John which most vividly sums up our rejoicing in the martyrs of this College. ‘Unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains only a single grain; but if it dies it yields a rich harvest.’

Surely one of our greatest joys is to be part of that harvest. The deaths of the 44 martyrs of this college which we celebrate today are like 44 grains of wheat which have not remained single grains but have burst forth into a rich harvest stretching now over these four subsequent centuries and, we trust, bringing love and service to all to whom that harvest has been sent.

And it is surely right and proper that today we include in that harvest the transformation of the relationship between Christians of different churches and denominations. When, in 1970, one group of English and Welsh martyrs were canonised by Pope Paul VI, he prayed ‘that the blood of those martyrs would be a source of healing for the divisions between Christians.’ Not only do we make that prayer our own again today, but we also rejoice that it is being answered in our time.

Today we are very conscious of wanting to deepen in our church and in our lives a new spirit of evangelisation. The martyrs are great inspiration for us, in their eloquence, in their courage, in their steadfast witness to the truth of Christ to be encountered in the life of the Church. Today we seek, again and again, to work together with our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ to offer a common and united witness to the Lord, both in word and in the work of charity and service. Indeed, the evidence is there, up and down our countries, that such cooperation and mutual commitment is now part of our daily effort, perhaps now a little unsung and easily lost behind the noisy controversies on which some so love to concentrate.

Today’s celebration of the martyrs, on the cusp of Advent, reminds us of an essential quality in that work of evangelisation: all we seek to do and say must have within it a strong witness to the reality of heaven, to the hope which ultimately drives us forward: that we long to be with the Lord, to know the fullness of his love and the glory of his face wherein our true satisfaction lies. This vision kept our martyrs true to their Lord at those most testing moments. In our time it is our task and privileged to proclaim this same truth to the hungry souls of so many people and invite them to share with us the peace and joy of such a blessed hope which becomes our joy and guide in every trial.

May the martyrs in heaven look down on us this day. May they strengthen us by their prayers for us before the Lord. May they win for us, even during this Mass, a glimpse of heaven, so that our joy may be overflowing and give rise to the same spirit of missionary endeavour that marked their lives. Then we will indeed be fully part of that great harvest and convincing heralds of the Gospel, the Gospel of life both here on earth and in the heaven to come. Amen
 

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Pope's Address to Circus Performers and Traveling Shows
"You Spread Around You a Joyful Atmosphere and You Ease the Burden of Daily Work"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2012 - Here is the translation of the address delivered by Pope Benedict XVI to circus performers at Paul VI Hall on Saturday.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I am happy to offer my welcome to all of you and to thank you for your welcome! You have come here is such great numbers to meet the Successor of Peter and to manifest – also on behalf of so many others who work in traveling shows – the joy of being Christians and belonging to the Church. I greet and thank Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, president of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People, who organized this event in collaboration with the Diocese of Rome and with the “Migrantes” Foundation of the Italian Bishops’ Conference. Thank you, eminence! I am grateful also to your representatives [i.e., the representatives of the traveling shows], who offered us their witness and a wonderful little performance, and to those who helped to prepare this meeting, which occurs in the context of the Year of Faith, an important occasion to profess openly faith in the Lord Jesus.

That which first of all distinguishes your great family is the capacity to use the language that is particular and specific to your art. The joy of performing and play, the gracefulness of dance, the rhythm of music constitute an immediate path of communication to put one in dialogue with little ones and with adults, creating sentiments of peace, joy and harmony. With the variety of your professions and the originality of your performances, you know how to astonish and excite wonder, to offer occasions for celebration and of healthy entertainment.

Dear friends, starting precisely from these characteristics and with your style, you are called to witness to those values that are part of your tradition: love of family, consideration for children, attention to the disabled, care for the sick, valorization of the elderly and of their patrimony of experiences. In your culture you preserve dialogue between the generations, the sense of friendship, the taste for working as a team. Welcome and hospitality are native to you, as also the concern to respond to the most authentic desires, above all of the young generations. Your professions require renunciation and sacrifice, responsibility and perseverance, courage and generosity: virtues that are not always appreciated by contemporary society but that contributed to form whole generations of your great family. I am also aware of the many problems linked to your itinerant life, such as the teaching of children, the search for appropriate places for your shows, authorizations for your performances and permissions of stay for foreigners. It is my wish that public officials, recognizing the social and cultural function of traveling shows, make the effort to protect this particular category, and I encourage both you and civil society to overcome all prejudice and to try always to integrate yourselves well in local realities.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Church rejoices in the commitment that you show and appreciates your fidelity to traditions, which you are justly proud of. The Church who is herself, like you, a pilgrim in this world, invites you to participate in her divine mission though your daily work. The dignity of every man also expresses itself through the honest exercise of professionalism and the practice of that gratuity that does not let itself be determined by economic advantage. So, you too, while you attend to the quality of your performances and shows, did not fail to take care that, with the values of the Gospel, you continue to offer to the young generations the hope and encouragement that they need above all in respect to the difficulties of life, to the temptations to despair, to close in on themselves and to pessimism, which hinder them from seeing the beauty of existence.

Although itinerant life prevents you from being a stable part of parish life and does not facilitate regular participation in catechesis and divine worship, in your world as well a new evangelization is necessary. It is my hope that you can find, in the community where you are staying, people who are welcoming and helpful, able to meet your spiritual needs. Do not forget, however, that the family is the primary way by which the faith is transmitted, the little domestic Church called to make Jesus and his Gospel known and educate children according to the law of God, so that all may achieve full human and Christian maturity (cf. John Paul II, “Familiaris consortio,” 2). May your families always be schools of faith and charity, training grounds for communion and fraternity.

Dear artists and workers in traveling shows, I repeat to you what I said at the beginning of my pontificate: “There is nothing more beautiful than to be surprised by the Gospel, by the encounter with Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than to know him and to speak to others of our friendship with him ... Only in this friendship are the doors of life opened wide. Only in this friendship is the great potential of human existence truly revealed. Only in this friendship do we experience beauty and liberation” (Mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate, April 24, 2005). In assuring you of the nearness of the Church, which shares your journey, I entrust all of you to the Virgin Mary, the “star of the way,” who with her maternal presence accompanies us every moment of our life.

[The Holy Father then greeted those present in various languages. In English he said:]

Dear friends, you spread around you a joyful atmosphere and you ease the burden of daily work. May you also be men and women with a strong inner self, open to contemplation and dialogue with God. I pray that your faith in Christ and your devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary may sustain you in your life and work.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

To each of you and to your families and communities I bestow from my heart the Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.

 

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General Audience on Faith: On the Beauty of God's Plan of Salvation
"Gods Self-Revelation in Christ Corresponds to Our Deepest Human Hopes and Aspirations"

VATICAN CITY, DEC.5, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Paul VI Hall.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

At the beginning of his letter to the Christians of Ephesus (cf. 1:3-14), the apostle Paul raises a prayer of blessing to God, the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the prayer we just heard, that helps us enter into living the time of Advent, in the context of the Year of Faith. The theme of this hymn of praise is God's plan for man, defined in terms full of joy, wonder and gratitude, as a "plan of kindness" (see v. 9), mercy and love.

Why does the Apostle raise to God, from the depths of his heart, this blessing? Because he looks at his work in the history of salvation, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus, and contemplates how Heavenly Father has chosen us before the foundation of the world, to be his sons, in his Only-begotten Son, Jesus Christ (cf. Rom 8:14f; Gal 4:4f.). We therefore exist from all eternity in the mind of God, in a great plan that the Father has kept to himself and has decided to implement and reveal "in the fullness of time" (cf. Eph 1:10). St. Paul helps us to understand, then, how all creation and, in particular, man and woman are not the result of chance, but are part of a loving plan of God's eternal mind, who with the creative and redemptive power of his Word creates the world. This first statement reminds us that our vocation is not simply to exist in the world, to be inserted within history, nor is it merely to be a creature of God; it is something greater: it is being chosen by God, even before the creation of the world, in his Son, Jesus Christ. In him we exist, so to speak, from always. God contemplates us in Christ, as adopted children. God's "plan of kindness", which is also qualified by the Apostle as a "plan of love" (Eph 1:5), is called "the mystery" of the divine will (cf. v. 9), hidden and now revealed in the Person and work of Christ. The divine initiative precedes any human response: it is a free gift of his love that surrounds us and transforms us.

But what is the ultimate goal of this mysterious plan? What is the center of God's will? St. Paul tells us it is to "bring everything together under Christ, as head" (cf. 10). In this expression we find one of the central formulations of the New Testament that allows us to understand God's plan of salvation, his plan of love for all humanity, a formulation that St. Irenaeus of Lyons set as the core of his Christology: "to recapitulate" all of reality in Christ. Some of you will remember the formula used by Pope St. Pius X to consecrate the world to the Sacred Heart of Jesus: "Instaurare omnia in Christo", which refers to this Pauline expression, and which also the motto of this holy Pontiff. The Apostle, however, speaks more specifically of recapitulating the universe in Christ, and this means that in the great scheme of creation and history, Christ stands as the center of the entire world's journey, the cornerstone of everything, attracting the whole of reality to Himself, overcoming dispersion and limits and leading all to the fullness desired by God (cf. Eph 1:23).

This "plan of kindness" did not remain, so to speak, in the silence of God, in the heights His heaven; rather, He made it known by entering into a relationship with man, to whom He has not revealed merely something, but Himself. He has not simply communicated a set of truths, but has communicated Himself to us, to the point of becoming incarnate. The Second Vatican Council in its Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum says: "In his goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself - and not something about himself - and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will, by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature"(no. 2). God not only says something, but he communicates Himself, draws us into the divine nature in such a way that we become involved in it, divinized.

God reveals His great plan of love, entering into relation with man, approaching him to the point of becoming man. "The invisible God," continues Dei Verbum, "out of the abundance of his love speaks to men as friends (cf. Ex 33:11, Jn 15:14-15) and lives among them (cf. Bar 3:38) so that He may invite and take them into fellowship with Himself"(ibid.). Man, using only his intelligence and his abilities, could not have arrived at so luminous a revelation of the love of God; it is God who has opened his Heavens and lowered himself to guide man into the abyss of his love.

As St. Paul writes to the Christians of Corinth: "What no eye has seen and no ear has heard, what the mind of man cannot visualize; all that God has prepared for those who love him. To us, though, God has given revelation through the Spirit, for the Spirit explores the depths of everything, even the depths of God"(1 Cor 2:9-10). And St. John Chrysostom, in a famous page of his commentary on the beginning of the Letter to the Ephesians, invites us to enjoy the beauty of God's "plan of kindness" revealed in Christ, with these words: "What do you lack? You have become immortal, you have become free, you have become a son, you have become righteous, you have become a brother, you have become a joint heir, with Christ you reign, with Christ you are glorified. Everything is given to us, and - as it is written - 'can we not expect that with him he will freely give us all his gifts?'(Rom 8:32). Your first fruits (cf. 1 Cor 15:20.23) are adored by angels [...]: what do you lack? "(PG 62, 11).

This communion in Christ through the Holy Spirit, offered by God to all men with the light of Revelation, is not something that would overlap with our humanity, but is the fulfillment of the deepest human longings, of the desire for the infinite and for fullness that dwells in the depths of the human being, and opens him to a happiness not temporary and limited, but eternal. St. Bonaventure, referring to God who reveals himself and speaks to us through Scripture to lead us to Him, says: "Sacred Scripture is [...] the book in which the words of eternal life are written so that we might not only believe, but also possess eternal life, where we will see, we will love and all our wishes will be realized"(Breviloquium, Prol., Opera Omnia V, 201f). Blessed Pope John Paul II stated, moreover, that "Revelation has set within history a point of reference which cannot be ignored if the mystery of human life is to be known. Yet this knowledge refers back constantly to the mystery of God which the human mind cannot exhaust but can only receive and embrace in faith."(Encyclical Fides et Ratio, 14).

In this perspective, what, then, is the act of faith? It is man's response to the Revelation of God, who makes Himself known, who manifests His plan of kindness for humanity. It is, to use an expression of St. Augustine, to let oneself be grasped by the Truth that is God, a Truth that is Love. This is why St. Paul emphasizes that to God, who has revealed His mystery, we owe "the obedience of faith" (Rom 16:26; cf. 1:5, 2 Cor 10: 5-6), the attitude by which "man - in the words of the Second Vatican Council - commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals" (Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 5). All this leads to a fundamental and change in the way of dealing with all of reality; it involves a true "conversion", a "change of mentality" because the God who has revealed Himself in Christ, and has made known His design of love, takes hold of us, draws us to Himself, becomes the sense that sustains life, the rock on which it can find stability. In the Old Testament, we find a compact expression concerning the faith, that God entrusts to the prophet Isaiah to communicate to Ahaz, king of Judah. God says: "Unless you believe" - that is, if you do not remain faithful to God - "you will not stand firm" (Is 7:9b). There is therefore a link between standing firm and understanding, which expresses how faith is to welcome God's vision of reality into one's life, letting God guide us through His Word and Sacraments to understand what we must do, what path we must follow. How to live! At the same time, however, it is understanding according to God, according to His will, seeing with His own eyes, that makes life stable, that allows us to "stand", not to fall.

Dear friends, Advent, the liturgical season that we have just begun and that prepares us for Christmas, places before us the luminous mystery of the coming of the Son of God, before the great "plan of kindness" with which He wants to draw us to Himself, to make us live in full communion of joy and peace with Him. Advent invites us once again, in the midst of many difficulties, to renew the certainty that God is present: He came into the world, becoming a man like us, to bring to fulfillment his plan of love. And God asks us, too, to become a sign of His action in the world. Through our faith, our hope, our love, He wants to enter into the world again, to make His light shine again in our night.

[Translation by Peter Waymel]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Year of Faith, we begin the Advent season by reflecting on the grandeur of God’s plan for our salvation. The great hymn which begins Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians praises the merciful love with which God "chose us in Christ, before the foundation of the world" (Eph 1:4) to become his adopted sons and daughters. God’s plan is to unite all things in Christ, bringing all creation to fullness in him (v. 10). He has made this plan known to us through an economy of revelation which culminates in the incarnation of the Son and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. God’s self-revelation in Christ corresponds to our deepest human hopes and aspirations, and it invites us to respond by offering God the obedience of faith. As our free assent of mind and will to divine revelation, faith calls us to conversion and brings a new way of seeing the reality of our lives and the world around us. During this Advent, may we contemplate ever more fully the beauty of God’s loving plan, and strive to be living signs of his saving presence in our world.

I offer a cordial welcome to the pilgrimage group from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. My greeting also goes to the Anglican visitors from Ardingly College. I thank the choir for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, including the groups from Australia and the United States of America, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

Appeal of the Holy Father on Humanitarian Crisis in the Congo

Worrying news continue to arrive on the humanitarian crisis in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, which for months has become the scene of armed clashes and violence. A large part of the population lacks the primary means of subsistence and thousands of residents have been forced to flee their homes to seek refuge elsewhere. I therefore renew my call for dialogue and reconciliation and ask the international community to work to provide for the needs of the population.

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I extend a cordial welcome to the Italian-speaking pilgrims. In particular, I greet the participants in the pilgrimage promoted by the Daughters of Our Lady of the Garden, on the occasion of the beatification of Sister Maria Perez Crescencia, and encourage them to continue, with fidelity and joy, in their service to the Gospel and to the brothers following the example of the new Blessed.

I greet the faithful of St. Anne’s parish in Foggia and the volunteers of Santa Marta's Dispensary in the Vatican, ensuring each one of my remembrance in prayer so that the Lord will make them increasingly generous witnesses to Him. I greet the representatives of the Italian Federation of Bakers and Confectioners and thank them for the generous gift of the many panettone [the traditional Italian Christmastime cake] destined for the Pope's works of charity. Thank you!

Lastly, I greet the young people, the sick and newlyweds. The season of Advent, which has just begun, receives light in these days from the shining example of the Immaculate Virgin Mary. May she urge you, dear young people, along your way of adhesion to Christ. For you, dear sick people, may Mary be your support for a renewed hope. And may she be a guide for you, dear newlyweds, in building your family.

 

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Pope Benedict's Address to the International Theological Commission
"Without Openness to the Transcendent [...], Mankind becomes Unable to Act in Accordance with Justice and Work for Peace"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 7, 2012 - Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's address to the International Theological Commission at the conclusion of their annual Plenary Session.

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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Distinguished Professors and Dear Collaborators,

With great joy I welcome you at the end of your annual Plenary Session. I cordially greet your new President, Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, whom I thank for the words addressed to me on behalf of everyone, as well as the new Secretary General, Father Serge-Thomas Bonino.

Your Plenary Session was held in the context of the Year of Faith, and I am pleased that the International Theological Commission wanted to show its support for this ecclesial event through a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Santa Mary Major, to entrust to the Virgin Mary, Praesidium fidei, your Commission’s work and to pray for all those who, in medio Ecclesiae, are dedicated to bringing to fruition knowledge of the faith for the spiritual benefit and enjoyment of all believers. I express my appreciation for the message that you have prepared for this Year of Faith. It illustrates very well the specific way in which theologians, faithfully serving the truth of faith, can participate in the missionary efforts of the Church.This message takes up the themes that you have more fully developed in the document "Theology today. Perspectives, principles and criteria", published earlier this year.

Taking note of the vitality and diversity of theology after Vatican II, this document aims to present, so to speak, the genetic code of Catholic theology, that is, the principles that define its identity and, therefore, guarantee its unity in the diversity of its achievements. To do this, the text clarifies the criteria for a truly Catholic theology and therefore one able to contribute to the Church's mission to proclaim the Gospel to all men. In a cultural context where some are tempted or deprive theology of its academic status, because of its intrinsic link with the faith, or the confessional and faith dimension of theology, with the risk of confusing it with the religious sciences, your document rightly reminds us that theology is inextricably confessional and rational and that its presence within the academic institution provides a wide-ranging and full vision of human reason.

Among the criteria of Catholic theology, the document mentions the attention that theologians must pay to sensus fidelium. It is very useful that your Commission has also focused on this issue which is of particular importance for the reflection on the faith and life of the Church. The Second Vatican Council, while confirming the specific and irreplaceable role of Magisterium, stressed, however, that the whole People of God participates in Christ's prophetic office, thus fulfilling the inspired desire expressed by Moses, " If only all the people of the LORD were prophets! If only the LORD would bestow his spirit on them! "(Num 11:29). The Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium thus teaches us on the subject: “The entire body of the faithful, anointed as they are by the Holy One,(111) cannot err in matters of belief. They manifest this special property by means of the whole peoples' supernatural discernment in matters of faith when "from the Bishops down to the last of the lay faithful" they show universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. "(n. 12). This gift, the sensus fidei, constitutes in the believer a kind of supernatural instinct that has a connatural life with the same object of faith. It is a criterion for discerning whether or not a truth belongs to the deposit of the living apostolic tradition. It also has a propositional value because the Holy Spirit does not cease to speak to the Churches and lead them to the whole truth. Today, however, it is particularly important to clarify the criteria used to distinguish the authentic sensus fidelium from its counterfeits. In fact, it is not some kind of public opinion of the Church, and it is unthinkable to mention it in order to challenge the teachings of the Magisterium, this because the sensus fidei can not grow authentically in the believer except to the extent in which he or she fully participates in the life of the Church, and this requires a responsible adherence to her Magisterium.

Today, this same supernatural sense of the faith of believers leads to strong reactions against the notion that religions, especially the monotheistic religions, would inherently be bearers of violence, mainly because of the claim that they advance the existence of a universal truth. Some believe that only the "polytheism of values" can guarantee tolerance and civil peace and conform to the spirit of a pluralistic democratic society. In this direction, your study on "the Triune God, unity of mankind. Christianity and monotheism" is of vibrant relevance. On the one hand, it is essential to remember that the faith in one God, Creator of heaven and earth, meets the rational needs of metaphysical reflection, which is not weakened but strengthened and deepened by the revelation of the mystery of the Triune God. On the other hand, the form that the final revelation of the mystery of God takes in the life and death of Jesus Christ, who goes towards the Cross as "a lamb led to the slaughter" (Is 53:7), needs to be underlined. The Lord attests to a radical rejection of all forms of hatred and violence in favor of the absolute primacy of agape. If, therefore, in history there have been or are forms of violence carried out in the name of God, these are not to be attributed to monotheism, but historical causes, mainly the result of human errors. Rather it is the forgetfulness of God that immerses human societies in a form of relativism, which inevitably generates violence. When you deny the opportunity for people to refer to an objective truth, dialogue is rendered impossible and violence, whether declared or hidden, becomes the rule of law of human relationships. Without openness to the transcendent, which allows us to find answers to questions on the meaning of life and how to live a moral life, mankind becomes unable to act in accordance with justice and work for peace.

If the failure of the relationship between mankind and God brings with it a deep imbalance in the relationship between men themselves, reconciliation with God, brought about by the Cross of Christ "our peace" (Eph 2:14) is the fundamental source unity and fraternity. Your reflection on the third theme that of the Social Doctrine of the Church throughout the Doctrine of the Faith is also placed in this perspective. It confirms that the social doctrine is not an extrinsic addition, but, without neglecting the contribution of a sound social philosophy, draws its underlying principles from the very sources of the faith. This doctrine seeks to make effective, in the great diversity of social situations, the new commandment that the Lord Jesus left us: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34).

We pray to the Immaculate Virgin, model of those who listen and meditate on the Word of God, to obtain for you the grace to always joyfully serve the knowledge of faith for the benefit of the whole Church. Renewing my profound gratitude for your service to the Church, I assure you of my constant closeness in prayer and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing on all of you.

 

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Angelus:  On Awaiting the Coming of the Lord
"Let us Prepare to See, with the Eyes of Faith, Gods Salvation in the Humble Grotto of Bethlehem"

Dear brothers and sisters!

In the season of Advent that liturgy brings to the fore, in a special way, 2 figures that prepare the way of the Messiah: the Virgin Mary and John the Baptist. Today St. Luke presents the latter to us, and he does so in a way that is different from the other evangelists. “All 4 of the Gospels place the figure of John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus activity and they present him as his precursor. St. Luke moves the connection between the 2 figures and their respective missions back ... Already in conception and birth, Jesus and John are placed in relationship to each other” (“Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives” [Italian ed.], 23). This perspective helps us to understand that John, insofar as he is the son of Zachariah and Elizabeth, both of whom are of priestly families, is not only the last of the prophets, but also represents the whole priesthood of the Old Covenant and thus prepares men for the spiritual worship of the New Covenant, inaugurated by Jesus (cf. ibid., 27-28). Moreover, Luke dissolves every mythological reading that is often applied to the Gospels by speaking of the historical context of John’s life – “In the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea ... under the high priests Annas and Caiphas” (Luke 3:1-2). Within this historical context there occurs the truly great event of history, the birth of Christ, which is not noted by others at that time. For God, the great ones of history are the frame for the little ones!

John the Baptist defines himself as “the voice of one who calls out in the desert: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths’” (Luke 3:4). The voice proclaims the word, but in this case the Word of God precedes, insofar as it descends upon John, the son of Zachariah, in the desert (cf. Luke 3:2). He therefore has a great role to play, but always in function of Christ. St. Augustine comments: “John is the voice. Of the Lord however it is said: ‘In the beginning was the Word’ (John 1:1). John is the voice that passes, Christ is the eternal Word that was in the beginning. If the word is taken from the voice, what does it have left? A vague sound. The voice without a word affects our hearing but it does not nourish the heart” (Sermon 293, 3: PL 38, 1328). We have the task today of listening to that voice to grant space and welcome in our heart to Jesus, the Word that saves. In this season of Advent, let us prepare to see, with the eyes of faith, God’s salvation in the humble grotto of Bethlehem (cf. Luke 3:6). In a consumer society in which we are tempted to find our joy in things, the Baptist teaches us to live in an essential way, so that Christmas is lived not only as an external celebration but as the celebration of the Son of God who has come to bring men peace, life and true joy.

To the maternal intercession of Mary, the Virgin of Advent, we entrust our path to the Lord who is coming so that we are ready to welcome Emmanuel, God-with-us, in our heart and in our entire life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those who were present in different languages. In English he said:]

I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today’s Gospel John the Baptist reminds us of the need for repentance and purification as we prepare a way for the Lord and await in hope his coming in glory. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!

[Concluding in Italian, he said:]

I wish you all a good Sunday, a good week. Happy Advent. Have a good Sunday everyone. Thank you!

 


 
Pope's Angelus Address on Feast of the Immaculate Concepetion
 

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is the translation of the Holy Father's words before and after the recitation of the Angelus on Saturday, December 8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

I wish you all a happy Feast of Mary Immaculate! In this Year of Faith I would like to emphasize that Mary is Immaculate by a gratuitous gift of the grace of God that, however, she was perfectly open to and cooperated with. In this sense she is “blessed” because she “believed” (Luke 1:45), because she had a firm faith in God. Mary represents that “remnant of Israel,” that holy root announced by the prophets. The promises of the Old Covenant are welcomed in her. In Mary the Word of God finds an ear, acceptance, response, he finds that “yes” that allows him to take flesh and to come dwell among us. In Mary humanity, history truly open to God, accept his grace, are ready to do his will. Mary is the genuine expression of grace. She is the new Israel that the Scriptures of the Old Testament describe with the symbol of the bride. And St. Paul takes this language up again in the Letter to the Ephesians where he speaks of matrimony and says that “Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, to make her holy, purifying her with the bath of water through the word, to present the Church to himself, all glorious, without a blemish or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and immaculate” (5:25-27). The Fathers of the Church developed this image and so the doctrine of the Immaculate was first born in reference to the Church as virgin-mother, and then in reference to Mary. Ephraim the Syrian poetically wrote: “As bodies themselves have sin and die, and the land that is their mother is cursed (cf. Genesis 3:17-19), so because of this body that is the incorruptible Church, her land is blessed from the beginning. This land is the body of Mary, the temple in which a seed has been sown” (Diatessaron 4, 15: SC 121, 102).

The light that emanates from the figure of Mary helps us also to understand the true meaning of original sin. In Mary, in fact, that relationship with God that sin destroys is totally alive and active. In her there is no opposition between God and her being: there is complete communion, complete understanding. There is a reciprocal “yes,” of God to her and of her to God. Mary is free from sin because she is wholly of God, totally expropriated for him. She is full of his grace of his love.

In conclusion, the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary expresses the certainty of faith that the promises of God are realized: that his covenant does not fail, but has produced a holy root, from which sprung the Fruit that is the most blessed of all the universe, Jesus the Savior. Mary Immaculate demonstrates that grace is capable of bringing about a response, that God’s fidelity is capable of generating a true and good faith.

Dear friends, this afternoon, as is customary, I will go to the Piazza di Spagna, to pay homage to Mary Immaculate. Let us follow the example of the Mother of God so that in us too the Lord’s grace might find an answer in a genuine and fruitful faith.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

I wish first of all to assure my nearness to the people of the Philippines have been struck recently by a violent hurricane. I pray for the victims, for their families and for the many displaced persons. May faith and charity be the force to deal with this difficult trial.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking visitors present at this Angelus prayer. Today, with joyful hearts, we celebrate the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Through her powerful intercession, may the Lord grant us the grace to reject sin and persevere in the grace of baptism. I wish you a happy feast day and invoke upon you and your families God’s abundant blessings!

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

Happy feast day to all of you. Thank you!

 

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Pope's Immaculate Conception Address at the Spanish Steps
"Mary Immaculate Teaches Us to Listen to the Voice of God that Speaks in Silence"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 9, 2012  - Here is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's address during the annual veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, held at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

It is always a joy to gather together here in the Piazza di Spagna on the Feast of Mary Immaculate. Finding ourselves together – Romans, pilgrims, visitors – at the feet of the statue of our spiritual Mother creates in us a feeling of unity in the sign of faith. I would like to underscore this in this Year of Faith that the whole Church is observing. I greet you with affection and would like to share with you some simple thoughts, suggested by the Gospel reading for this solemnity: the Gospel of the Annunciation.

First of all, there is a particular aspect of this decisive moment for human destiny, the moment in which God became man, that it is always striking, and it causes us to reflect, namely, that the event is wrapped in a great silence. The meeting between the divine messenger and the Immaculate Virgin is entirely unobserved: no one knows about it, no one speaks of it. It is an event that, if it happened in our times, would not appear in the newspapers or magazines because it is a mystery that takes place in silence. That which is truly great often occurs unobserved and the tranquil silence shows itself to be more fruitful than that frenetic movement that characterizes our cities, but which – in a similar way – was already to be found in the Jerusalem of that time. I am speaking of that busyness that makes us incapable of stopping, of being quiet, of listening to the silence in which the Lord makes us aware of his discreet voice. Mary, on that day in which she heard the Angel’s announcement, was entirely recollected and at the same time open to listening to God. There is no obstacle in her, there are no walls, there is nothing that separates her from God. This is the result of her being without original sin: her relationship with God is free of even smallest cracks; there is no separation, there is no shadow of egoism, only perfect harmony: her little human heart is perfectly “centered” in the great heart of God. So, brothers, coming here, to this monument of Mary, in the center of Rome, reminds us first of all that the voice of God is not heard in noise and bedlam; his plan for our personal and social life cannot be perceived if we remain only at the surface of things, but when we descend to a deeper level, where the forces that act are not political and economic, but moral and spiritual ones. It is there that Mary invites us to descend to put ourselves in tune with God’s action.

There is a second point, still more important, that Mary the Immaculate indicates when we come here, and that is that the world’s salvation is not the work of man – of science, of technology, of ideology – but comes from grace. What does this word mean? Grace is love in its purity and beauty, it is God himself such as he is revealed in the salvific history narrated in the Bible and fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Mary is called “full of grace” (Luke 1:28) and with this identity of hers she reminds us of God’s primacy in our life and in the history of the world, she reminds us that the power of God’s love is stronger than evil, it can fill the voids that egoism leaves in the history of persons, of families, of the nations of the world. These voids can become a sort of hell in which human life is drawn downwards toward nothingness, without meaning and without light. The false remedies that the world proposes to fill these voids – drug use is emblematic – in fact only deepen the abyss. Only love can save us from this fall, but it is not just any kind of love: it is a love that has the purity of grace in it – the grace of God that transforms and renews – and that can breathe, into lungs filled with toxins, new oxygen, clean air, a new energy of life. Mary tells us that, man can never fall so far down that it is too far for God, who descended to the very depths (“inferi”); however far our heart is led into error, God is always “greater than our heart” (1 John 3:20). The delicate breath of grace can disperse the blackest clouds, it can make life beautiful and rich with meaning, even in the most inhuman situations.

And from here derives the third point about which Mary Immaculate speaks to us: she speaks to us of joy, of that authentic joy that fills the heart freed from sin. Sin carries a sadness with it that leads us to close ourselves up within ourselves. Grace brings with it the true joy that does not depend on having things but is rather rooted in the most intimate, deepest part of the person, and that nothing and nobody can take away. Christianity is essentially a “gospel”, “glad tidings,” although some think that it is an obstacle to joy, because they see in it a collection of prohibitions and rules. In reality, Christianity is the proclamation of the victory of grace over sin, of life over death. And if it contains sacrifice and discipline of the mind, of the heart and of conduct it is precisely because there is in man the poisonous root of egoism, which is harmful to oneself and to others. It is necessary therefore to learn to say no to the voice of egoism and to say yes to the voice of authentic love. Mary’s joy is full because there is no shadow of sin in her heart. This joy coincides with the presence of Jesus in her life: Jesus conceived and carried in her womb, then the child entrusted to her maternal care, the adolescent and young man and the mature adult; Jesus leaving home, followed at a distance with faith, even to the cross and the resurrection: Jesus is Mary’s joy and the joy of the Church, of all of us.

In this season of Advent, Mary Immaculate teaches us to listen to the voice of God that speaks in silence; to welcome his grace, which liberates us from sin and from all egoism; to taste, therefore, the true joy. Mary, full of grace, pray for us!

 

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Pope's Address to Participants of "Ecclesia In America" International Congress
 

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 10, 2012 - Here is the translation of the address given by Pope Benedict XVI to participants of the International Congress on Ecclesia in America at St. Peter's Square on Sunday evening.

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Lord Cardinals,

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Esteemed Knights of Columbus,

I am most grateful for the words of the Lord Cardinal Marc Ouellet, President of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, and I am delighted that, together with the Knights of Columbus, you wished to consider and project further the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America of Blessed John Paul II, which brings together the contributions of the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops for America.I cordially greet the Lord Cardinals, the Bishops, priests and consecrated persons, as well as the numerous laymen who have come to participate in this important initiative. Your faces bring to my mind and heart again the beatings of the American Continent, so present in the Pope’s prayer, and whose devotion to the Apostolic See I have gratifyingly experienced, not only during my pastoral visits to some of its countries, but every time that I meet here with pastors and faithful of those beloved lands.

My Venerable Predecessor, Blessed John Paul II, had the farsighted intuition to enhance relations of cooperation between the particular Churches of the whole of America, of the North, of the Center and of the South and, at the same time, to arouse greater solidarity between its nations. Today such resolutions merit being taken up again so that Christ’s redeeming message is put into practice with greater earnestness and produces abundant fruits of holiness and ecclesial renewal.

The theme that guided the reflections of that Synodal Assembly can also serve as inspiration for the works of these days: “The encounter with Jesus Christ alive, way for conversion, communion and solidarity in America.” In fact, the love of the Lord Jesus and the power of his grace must be rooted ever more intensely in the heart of the persons, families and Christian communities of your nations, so that the latter will advance with dynamism on the paths of concord and just progress. That is why, it is a gift of Providence that your Congress takes place after the beginning of the Year of Faith and after the General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops dedicated to the New Evangelization, as your deliberations will contribute appreciably to the arduous and imperative task to make Christ’s Gospel resonate with clarity and audacity.

The mentioned Apostolic Exhortation already pointed out the challenges and difficulties that at this hour continue to be present with singular and complex characteristics. In fact, secularism and different religious groups are spreading to all latitudes, giving way to numerous problems. Education and the promotion of a pro-life culture is a fundamental urgency given the diffusion of a mentality that attempts against the dignity of the person and does not favor or protect the institution of marriage and the family. How can we not be concerned about the painful situations of emigration, up-rootedness and violence, especially those caused by organized crime, drug trafficking, corruption and the arms trade? And what to say of the lacerating inequalities and the pockets of poverty caused by questionable economic, political and social measures?

All these important questions require careful study. Yet in addition to their technical evaluation, the Catholic Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent.

Dear friends, the love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming his Name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. There is no more rewarding or beneficial work than this. There is no greater service that we can provide to our brothers and sisters. They are thirsting for God. For this reason, we ought to take up this commitment with conviction and joyful dedication, encouraging priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the word of God and the Church’s magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. The witness of your faith will thus be more eloquent and incisive, and you will grow in unity in the fulfillment of your apostolate. A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America.

As a model of openness to God’s grace and of perfect concern for others, there shines forth on your continent the figure of Mary Most Holy, Star of the New Evangelization, invoked throughout America under the glorious title of Our Lady of Guadalupe. As I commend this Congress to her maternal and loving protection, I impart to you, the organizers and participants, my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant divine graces.

 

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On The Unfolding of God's Self-Revelation (Year of Faith)
"God Continues to Draw Near to Us"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 12, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in Paul VI Hall.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

In the last catechesis I spoke of God's revelation, as a communication He makes of Himself and of his plan of kindness and love. This Revelation of God inserts itself in time and in the history of mankind: history that becomes "the arena where we see what God does for humanity. God comes to us in the things we know best and can verify most easily, the things of our everyday life, apart from which we cannot understand ourselves."(John Paul II, Enc. Fides et Ratio, 12).

St. Mark the Evangelist reports, in clear and concise terms, the initial moments of Jesus' preaching: "The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand" (Mark 1:15). What illuminates and gives full meaning to the history of the world and of man begins to shine in the cave of Bethlehem; it is the mystery that soon we will contemplate at Christmas: the salvation which is realized in Jesus Christ. In Jesus of Nazareth, God shows his face and asks man to choose to recognize and follow him. God's revelation of himself in history to enter into a relationship of loving dialogue with man, gives a new meaning to the whole human journey. History is not just a succession of centuries, years, days, but is the time of a presence that gives it full meaning and opens it to a solid hope.

Where can we read the stages of this Revelation of God? The Holy Scripture is the best place to discover the events of this journey, and I would like - once again - to invite everyone, in this Year of Faith, to take the Bible in hand more often to read and meditate on it and to pay more attention to the Readings in Sunday Mass; all this constitutes a precious food for our faith.

Reading the Old Testament, we see how God's interventions in the history of the people that He has chosen for himself and with whom he makes a covenant are not facts that pass and fall into oblivion, but become "memory", together they constitute the "history of salvation", kept alive in the consciousness of the people of Israel through the celebration of the saving events. Thus, in the Book of Exodus, the Lord tells Moses to celebrate the great moment of liberation from slavery in Egypt, the Jewish Passover, with these words: "This day shall be a day of remembrance for you. You shall celebrate it as a festival to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as a perpetual ordinance"(12:14). For the whole people of Israel to remember what God has done becomes a sort of constant imperative so that the passage of time may be marked by the living memory of past events, which thus, day by day, forms that history again and makes it present. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses speaks to the people, saying, "But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children"(4:9). And to us he also says: "Be careful not to forget the things that God has done with us."Faith is nourished by the discovery and the memory of the God who is always faithful, who guides history and is the secure and stable foundation on which to build one's life. The song of the Magnificat, too, which the Virgin Mary raises to God, is a lofty example of this history of salvation, of this memory that makes and keeps present the action of God. Mary exalts the merciful action of God in the concrete journey of her people, his fidelity to the covenant promises made to Abraham and his descendants; and all this is a living memory of the divine presence that never fails (cf. Luke 1:46-55 ).

For Israel, the Exodus is the central historical event in which God reveals his powerful action. God frees the Israelites from the slavery of Egypt so that they can return to the Promised Land and worship Him as the one true God. Israel does not start out on a journey in order to become a people like any other - to have its own independence as a nation - but to serve God in worship and in life, to create for God a place where man is in obedience to Him, where God is present and adored in the world; and, of course, not only for them, but to bear witness in the midst of other peoples. And to celebrate this event is to make it present and current, because God's work never diminishes. He is faithful to his plan of liberation and continues to pursue it, so that man can recognize and serve his Lord and respond with faith and love to his action.

God thus reveals Himself not only in the primordial act of creation, but entering into our history, in the history of a small nation that was neither the largest nor the strongest. And this Revelation of God that progresses in history culminates in Jesus Christ: God, the Logos, the creative Word which is the origin of the world, became incarnate in Jesus and showed the true face of God. In Jesus every promise is fulfilled, in Him the culmination of God's history with humanity takes place. When we read the story of the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, narrated for us by St. Luke, we see how it becomes clear that the person of Christ illuminates the Old Testament, the whole history of salvation and shows the great unified design of the two Testaments, shows the way of its uniqueness. In fact, Jesus explains to the two lost and disappointed wayfarers that he is the fulfillment of every promise: "And, beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself"(24:27). The Evangelist relates the exclamation of the two disciples after recognizing that this travelling companion was the Lord: "Were not our hearts burning within us while he was talking to us on the road, while he was opening the scriptures to us?"(v. 32).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church summarizes the stages of divine Revelation, concisely showing their development (cf. nos. 54-64): God has called man from the beginning to intimate communion with Him and even when man, for his disobedience, lost his friendship, God did not abandon him to the power of death, but many times has offered to men his covenant (cf. Roman Missal, Euch. Prayer IV). The Catechism traces God's journey with man from the covenant with Noah after the flood, to the call of Abraham to leave his land to make him the father of a multitude of nations. God formed Israel as his people, through the event of the Exodus, the Sinai covenant and the gift, through Moses, of the Law, to be recognized and served as the one true and living God. With the prophets, God guides his people in the hope of salvation, We know - through Isaiah - of the "second Exodus", the return from the Babylonian exile to their own land, the re-establishment of the people; at the same time, however, many remain dispersed and so begins the universality of this faith. At the end they no longer expect just a king, David, a son of David, but a "Son of man," the salvation of all peoples. Encounters between the cultures occur, first in Babylon and Syria, and then also with the Greek multitude. Thus we see how the way of God grows, becomes more open to the mystery of Christ, the King of the universe. In Christ, Revelation is finally realized in its fullness: He himself becomes one of us.

I have paused to remember the action of God in human history, to show the stages of this great plan of love witnessed in the Old and New Testaments: a single plan of salvation addressed to all humanity, progressively revealed and realized by the power of God, where God always reacts to human responses and finds new beginnings of a covenant when man goes astray. This is crucial for the way of faith. We are in the liturgical season of Advent, which prepares us for Christmas. As we all know, the word "Advent" means "coming", "presence", and originally meant specifically the arrival of the king or emperor to a particular province. For us Christians it means a wonderful and overwhelming reality: God himself has crossed his Heavens and stooped down to man; he has forged an alliance with him entering into the history of a people; He is the king who descended into this poor province that is Earth, and has made a gift to us of his visitation by taking on our flesh, becoming man like us. Advent invites us to follow the path of this presence and reminds us again and again that God has not withdrawn from the world, he is not absent, he has not abandoned us to ourselves, but comes to us in different ways, which we need to learn to discern. And we, too, with our faith, our hope and our charity, are called every day to see and bear witness to this presence, in a world often superficial and distracted, to make shine in our lives the light that illuminated the cave of Bethlehem. Thank you.

[Translation by Peter Waymel]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis for this Year of Faith, we now consider the unfolding of God’s self-revelation and his saving plan. The Scriptures show us its development in the history of Israel, especially in the events of the Exodus and the establishment of the Covenant. Down the centuries Israel cherished and celebrated the memory of these saving events and, through the prophets, learned to look forward to a new and eternal Covenant destined for all mankind. The one divine plan, realized gradually in human history, culminated in the coming of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son of God. In this Advent season, we are invited to contemplate this progressive revelation of God’s saving plan and to realize that, in Christ, God continues to draw near to us. Amid the distractions and superficiality of our world, may we learn, in faith, hope and love, to recognize and bear witness to his presence, radiating in our lives the light and joy which filled the stable of Bethlehem.

I offer a cordial welcome to the newly professed Sisters of the Missionaries of Charity. My greeting also goes to the group of visitors from Oklahoma Wesleyan University. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

 

Pope Sends First Tweet

At the end of the General Audience, immediately after the blessing, the Holy Father sent live from a tablet his first tweet:

Benedict XVI @ Pontifex

Dear friends, I am pleased to get in touch with you through Twitter. Thank you for your generous response. I bless all of you from my heart.

The tweet was also published in Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Polish, Arabic and French on the respective accounts: @Pontifex_it @ Pontifex_es; @ Pontifex_pt; @ Pontifex_de; @ Pontifex_pl; @ Pontifex_ar; @ Pontifex_fr.

The Pope was assisted in sending the tweets by Thaddeus Jones, of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and by Claire Díaz-Ortiz, of Twitter. Also present were two students from Villanova University currently working at the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Mika Rabb and Andrew Jadick, as well as Mexican journalist Katia Lopez-Hodoyan.

Today, the Holy Father will respond via twitter to three different questions that have been chosen from those submitted and which come from three different continents.

The first question-answer pair was sent shortly after sending the introductory tweet:

How can we celebrate the Year of Faith better in our daily lives?

By speaking with Jesus in prayer, listening to what he tells you in the Gospel and looking for him in those in need.

The second and third question-answer pairs will be posted later in the day, spaced a few hours apart.

 

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"It Is There, in Our Conduct, That We Must Show That We Are Following His Will"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2012 - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's Sunday Angelus address in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

The Gospel for this Sunday of Advent again presents the figure of John the Baptist, and it depicts him speaking to the people who have come to him at the Jordan River to be baptized. Because John speaks to them with tough words, exhorting them to prepare themselves for the coming of the Messiah, some ask him, “What must we do?” (Luke 3:10, 12, 14). These dialogues are very interesting and show themselves to be of great contemporary relevance.

The first reply is addressed to the crowd in general. The Baptist says: “Whoever has 2 tunics, give 1 to someone who has none, and whoever has food to eat, do the same” (3:11). Here we can see a criterion of justice animated by charity. Justice demands that the imbalance between those who have more than enough and those who lack the necessities be overcome; charity moves us to be attentive to others and to meet their needs rather than looking for justifications to defend our interests. Justice and charity are not opposed but both are necessary and complete each other. “There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable” (“Deus caritas est,” 28).

And then there is the second reply, which is directed toward some “publicans,” those who collected taxes for the Romans. Already for this reason the publicans were despised, but also because they often took advantage of their position to steal. The Baptist does not tell them to change their job but not to exact more than what is required (3:13). The prophet, in God’s name, does not ask for exceptional actions, but first of all the honest performance of one’s duties. The first step toward eternal life is always the observance of the commandments, in this case the seventh: “Do not steal” (cf. Exodus 20:15).

The third reply regards the soldiers, another category with a certain power, and so with a temptation to abuse it. To the soldiers John says: “Do not mistreat anyone or extort; be content with your pay” (3:14). Here, too, conversion begins with honesty and with respect for others: an instruction that holds good for everyone, especially those with greater responsibility.

Taking these dialogues together, the very concrete words spoken by John is striking: from the moment that God will judge us according to our deeds, it is there, in our conduct, that we must show that we are following his will. And precisely for this reason the Baptist’s instructions are always relevant: even in our very complex world, things would go much better if everyone observed these rules of conduct. So let us pray to the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, that he help us to prepare ourselves for Christmas bearing the good fruits of conversion (cf. Luke 3:8).

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

From December 28 to January 2 the European meeting of young people organized by the community of Taizé will take place. I thank the families, who, following the Roman tradition of hospitality, have made themselves available to host these young people. Since, thanks be to God, the requests are greater than the space that has been made available so far, I renew the request already made in parishes, that more families, with complete simplicity, might open up to this great experience of Christian friendship.

[In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today’s Angelus. I was deeply saddened by Friday’s senseless violence in Newtown, Connecticut. I assure the families of the victims, especially those who lost a child, of my closeness in prayer. May the God of consolation touch their hearts and ease their pain. During this Advent Season, let us dedicate ourselves more fervently to prayer and to acts of peace. Upon those affected by this tragedy, and upon each of you, I invoke God’s abundant blessings!

[Again in Italian he said:]

Today I offer a special greeting to the children of Rome! You have come for the traditional blessing of the statues of the baby Jesus. Dear ones, as I bless the little statues of Jesus that you will put in your crèches, I bless each of you and your families from my heart along with teachers and the Center of the Roman Oratories.

Lastly, I greet the Italian-speaking pilgrims, especially the faithful of Palazzo Adriano, Porto San Giorgio, Grottammare, San Lorenzello, Atella, Bucchianico and Valmontone. I greet the group of students from the De Merode Institute in Rome who are also with some fellow Australian students from Adelaide, as well as representatives of ZENIT religious news agency.

[Concluding in Italian he said:]

I wish every a good Sunday and a good spiritual journey toward Bethlehem! Have a good Sunday! Greetings!

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Benedict XVI General Audience Address December 19, 2012

Description:

 The faith of Mary in the light of the mystery of the Annunciation was the theme of Pope Benedict XVI's catechesis during the last general audience of 2012, celebrated in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall. In the annunciation the angel greets Mary with the words "Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you". "This greeting is an invitation to rejoice, and announces the end of the sadness of the world in relation to the limits of life, suffering ... the darkness of the evil that seems to obscure the light of divine goodness. It is a greeting that marks the beginning of the Gospel, the Good News", explained the Pope.

 Publisher & Date:     Vatican, December 19, 2012

  

Dear Brothers and Sisters, 

The Virgin Mary has a special place in the journey of Advent as the One who, in a unique way, awaited the fulfilment of God’s promises, welcoming Jesus the Son of God in faith and in the flesh and with full obedience to the divine will. Today, I wish to ponder briefly with you on Mary’s faith, starting from the great mystery of the Annunciation.  

“Chaîre kecharitomene, ho Kyrios meta sou”, “Hail, [rejoice] full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). These are the words — recorded by Luke the Evangelist — with which the Archangel Gabriel addresses Mary. At first sight the term chaire “rejoice”, seems an ordinary greeting, typical in the Greek world, but if this word is interpreted against the background of the biblical tradition it acquires a far deeper meaning. The same term occurs four times in the Greek version of the Old Testament and always as a proclamation of joy in the coming of the Messiah (cf. Zeph 3:14, Joel 2:21; Zech 9:9; Lam 4:21).  

The Angel’s greeting to Mary is therefore an invitation to joy, deep joy. It announces an end to the sadness that exists in the world because of life’s limitations, suffering, death, wickedness, in all that seems to block out the light of the divine goodness. It is a greeting that marks the beginning of the Gospel, the Good News. 

But why is Mary invited to rejoice in this way? The answer is to be found in the second part of the greeting: “The Lord is with you”. Here too, if we are to understand correctly the meaning of these words we must turn to the Old Testament. In the Book of Zephaniah, we find these words “Sing aloud, O daughter of Zion.... The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst.... The Lord, your God, in your midst, a warrior who gives victory” (3:14-17).  

In these words a twofold promise is made to Israel, to the daughter of Zion: God will come as a saviour and will pitch his tent in his people’s midst, in the womb of the daughter of Zion. This promise is fulfilled to the letter in the dialogue between the Angel and Mary. Mary is identified with the people espoused by God, she is truly the daughter of Zion in person; in her the expectation of the definitive coming of God is fulfilled, in her the Living God makes his dwelling place. 

In the greeting of the Angel Mary is called “full of grace”. In Greek, the term “grace”, charis, has the same linguistic root as the word “joy”. In this term too the source of Mary’s exultation is further clarified: her joy comes from grace, that is, from being in communion with God, from having such a vital connection with him, from being the dwelling place of the Holy Spirit, totally fashioned by God’s action. Mary is the creature who opened the door to her Creator in a special way, placing herself in his hands without reserve. She lived entirely from and in her relationship with the Lord; she was disposed to listen, alert to recognizing the signs of God in the journey of his people; she was integrated into a history of faith and hope in God’s promises with which the fabric of her life was woven. And she submitted freely to the word received, to the divine will in the obedience of faith. 

The Evangelist Luke tells Mary’s story by aligning it closely to the history of Abraham. Just as the great Patriarch is the father of believers who responded to God’s call to leave the land in which he lived, to leave behind all that guaranteed his security in order to start out on the journey to an unknown land, assured only in the divine promise, so Mary trusts implicitly in the word that the messenger of God has announced to her, and becomes the model and Mother of all believers. 

I would like to emphasize another important point: the opening of the soul to God and to his action in faith also includes an element of obscurity. The relationship of human beings with God does not delete the distance between Creator and creature, it does not eliminate what the Apostle Paul said before the depth of God’s wisdom: “How unsearchable are his judgements and how inscrutable his ways!” (Rom 11:33).

Yet those who — like Mary — open themselves totally to God, come to accept the divine will, even though it is mysterious, although it often does not correspond with their own wishes, and is a sword that pierces their soul, as the elderly Simeon would say prophetically to Mary when Jesus was presented in the Temple (cf. Lk 2:35). Abraham’s journey of faith included the moment of joy in the gift of his son Isaac, but also the period of darkness, when he had to climb Mount Moriah to execute a paradoxical order: God was asking him to sacrifice the son he had just given him. On the mountain, the Angel told him: “Do not lay your hand on the lad or do anything to him; for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Gen 22:12). Abraham's full trust in the God who is faithful to his promises did not fail, even when his word was mysterious and difficult, almost impossible to accept. So it is with Mary. Her faith experienced the joy of the Annunciation, but also passed through the gloom of the crucifixion of the Son to be able to reach the light of the Resurrection. 

It is exactly the same on the journey of faith of each one of us: we encounter patches of light, but we also encounter stretches in which God seems absent, when his silence weighs on our hearts and his will does not correspond with ours, with our inclination to do as we like. However, the more we open ourselves to God, welcome the gift of faith and put our whole trust in him — like Abraham, like Mary — the more capable he will make us, with his presence, of living every situation of life in peace and assured of his faithfulness and his love. However, this means coming out of ourselves and our own projects so that the word of God may be the lamp that guides our thoughts and actions. 

I would like once again to ponder on an aspect that surfaces in the infancy narratives of Jesus recounted by St Luke. Mary and Joseph take their Son to Jerusalem, to the Temple, to present him to the Lord and to consecrate him as required by Mosaic Law: “Every firstborn male shall be designated as holy to the Lord” (cf. Lk 2:22-24). The Holy Family’s action acquires an even more profound meaning if we interpret it in the light of the evangelical knowledge of the 12-year-old Jesus. After three days of searching he was found in the Temple in conversation with the teachers. The deeply anxious words of Mary and Joseph: “Son, why have you treated us so? Behold, your father and I have been looking for you anxiously”, are in conformity with Jesus’ mysterious answer: “How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” (Lk 2:48-49). The significance lies in the Father’s property, “in my Father’s house”, as a son is.  

Mary is obliged to renew the profound faith with which she said “yes” at the Annunciation; she must accept that it is the true and proper Father of Jesus who has precedence; she must be able to leave the Son she has brought forth free to follow his mission. And Mary’s “yes” to God’s will, in the obedience of faith, is repeated throughout her life, until the most difficult moment, that of the Cross. 

Confronting all this, we may ask ourselves: how was Mary able to journey on beside her Son with such a strong faith, even in darkness, without losing her full trust in the action of God? Mary assumes a fundamental approach in facing what happens in her life. At the Annunciation, on hearing the Angel’s words she is distressed — it is the fear a person feels when moved by God’s closeness — but it is not the attitude of someone who is afraid of what God might ask. Mary reflects, she ponders on the meaning of this greeting (cf. Lk 1:29). The Greek word used in the Gospel to define this “reflection”, “dielogizeto”, calls to mind the etymology of the word “dialogue”. 

This means that Mary enters into a deep conversation with the Word of God that has been announced to her, she does not consider it superficially but meditates on it, lets it sink into her mind and her heart so as to understand what the Lord wants of her, the meaning of the announcement.  

We find another hint of Mary's inner attitude to God’s action — again in the Gospel according to St Luke — at the time of Jesus’ birth, after the adoration of the shepherds. Luke affirms that Mary “kept all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Lk 2:19). In Greek the term is symballon, we could say that she “kept together”, “pieced together” in her heart all the events that were happening to her; she placed every individual element, every word, every event, within the whole and confronted it, cherished it, recognizing that it all came from the will of God.  

Mary does not stop at a first superficial understanding of what is happening in her life, but can look in depth, she lets herself be called into question by events, digests them, discerns them, and attains the understanding that only faith can provide. It is the profound humility of the obedient faith of Mary, who welcomes within her even what she does not understand in God’s action, leaving it to God to open her mind and heart. “Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfilment of what was spoken to her from the Lord” (Lk 1:45), her kinswoman Elizabeth exclaims. It is exactly because of this faith that all generations will call her blessed. 

Dear friends, the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord which we shall soon be celebrating invites us to practise this same humility and obedience of faith. The glory of God is not expressed in the triumph and power of a king, it does not shine out in a famous city or a sumptuous palace, but makes its abode in a virgin’s womb and is revealed in the poverty of a child. In our lives too, the almightiness of God acts with the force — often in silence — of truth and love. Thus faith tells us that in the end the defenceless power of that Child triumphs over the clamour of worldly powers. Many thanks! 

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