Benedict XVI from May 2010

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On a Saint of the Feast of Corpus Christi
"Today in the Church There Is a 'Eucharistic Springtime'"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This morning, too, I would like to present to you a little-known woman to whom, however, the Church owes great recognition, not only because of the holiness of her life, but also because, with her great fervor, she contributed to the institution of one of the most important liturgical solemnities of the year, that of Corpus Christi. She is St. Juliana of Cornillon, known also as St. Juliana of Liege. We have certain details of her life above all from a biography probably written by an ecclesiastic contemporary of hers, in which are gathered several testimonies from people who knew the saint directly.

Juliana was born between 1191 and 1192 in the neighborhood of Liege, in Belgium. It is important to stress this place, because at that time the Diocese of Liege was, so to speak, a true "Eucharistic cenacle." Before Juliana, eminent theologians had illustrated the supreme value of the sacrament of the Eucharist and, always at Liege, there were women's groups generously dedicated to Eucharistic worship and to fervent communion. Led by exemplary priests, they lived together, dedicating themselves to prayer and to charitable works.

Orphaned at 5 years of age, Juliana and her sister Agnes were entrusted to the care of the Augustinian nuns of the convent-leper hospital of Mont Cornillon. She was educated above all by a sister named Sapienza, who followed her spiritual maturation, until Juliana herself received the religious habit and became as well an Augustinian nun. She acquired notable learning, to the point that she read the works of the Fathers of the Church in Latin, in particular St. Augustine and St. Bernard. In addition to keen intelligence, Juliana showed from the beginning a particular propensity for contemplation; she had a profound sense of the presence of Christ, which she experienced by living in a particularly intense way the sacrament of the Eucharist and pausing often to meditate on the words of Jesus: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

At 16 she had her first vision, which was then repeated many times in her Eucharistic adorations. The vision showed the moon in its full splendor, with a dark strip that crossed it diametrically. The Lord made her understand the meaning of what had appeared to her. The moon symbolized the life of the Church on earth; but the opaque line represented the absence of a liturgical feast. Juliana was asked to do her utmost in an effective way to bring about its institution: a feast, namely, in which believers would be able to adore the Eucharist to increase their faith, advance in the practice of virtue and make reparation for offenses to the Most Holy Sacrament.

For about 20 years Juliana, who in the meantime had become prioress of the convent, kept secret this revelation, which had filled her heart with joy. Then she confided in two other fervent adorers of the Eucharist, Blessed Eva, who led an eremitical life, and Isabella, who had joined her in the monastery of Mont Cornillon. The three women established a sort of "spiritual alliance" for the purpose of glorifying the Most Holy Sacrament. They wished to involve also a much esteemed priest, John of Lausanne, canon of the church of St. Martin in Liege, asking him to question theologians and ecclesiastics about what they had in their hearts. The answers were positive and encouraging.

What happened to Juliana of Cornillon is frequently repeated in the life of saints: to have the confirmation that an inspiration comes from God, it is always necessary to be immersed in prayer, to be able to wait with patience, to seek friendship and encounters with other good souls, and to subject everything to the judgment of the pastors of the Church. It was, in fact, the bishop of Liege, Robert of Thourotte, who, after initial hesitations, took up this proposal from Juliana and her companions, and instituted, for the first time, the solemnity of Corpus Domini in his diocese. Later, other bishops imitated him, establishing the same feast in territories entrusted to their pastoral care.

To saints, however, the Lord often asks that they overcome trials, so that their faith is enhanced. This happened also to Juliana, who had to suffer the harsh opposition of some members of the clergy and even of the superior on whom her monastery depended. Then, of her own volition, Juliana left the convent of Mont Cornillon with some companions, and for 10 years, from 1248 to 1258, was a guest of several monasteries of Cistercian Sisters. She edified everyone with her humility; she never had words of criticism or rebuke for her adversaries, but continued to spread with zeal Eucharistic worship. She died in 1258 in Fosses-La-Ville, in Belgium. In the cell where she lay the Most Blessed Sacrament was exposed and, according to the words of her biographer, Juliana died contemplating with a last outburst of love the Eucharistic Jesus, whom she had always loved, honored and adored.

Won over also to the good cause of the feast of Corpus Domini was Giacomo Pantaleon of Troyes, who had known the saint during his ministry as archdeacon in Liege. He, in fact, having become Pope in 1264 and taking the name Urban IV, instituted the solemnity of Corpus Domini as a feast of obligation for the universal Church, the Thursday after Pentecost. In the Bull of institution, titled "Transiturus de hoc mundo" (Aug. 11, 1264), Pope Urban also re-evoked with discretion the mystical experiences of Juliana, giving value to their authenticity. He wrote: "Although the Eucharist is celebrated solemnly every day, we hold it right that, at least once a year, there be a more honored and solemn memoria of it. The other things, in fact, of which we make memoria, we do so with the spirit and with the mind, but we do not obtain, because of this, their real presence. On the other hand, in this sacramental commemoration of Christ, Jesus Christ is present with us in his substance, even if under another form. In fact, while he was about to ascend to heaven he said: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

The Pontiff himself wished to give an example, celebrating the solemnity of Corpus Domini in Orvieto, the city where he then dwelled. By his order, in fact, the famous corporal with the traces of the Eucharistic miracle that happened the previous year, in 1263, in Bolsena, is the kept in the cathedral of the city -- and it is still kept there. [The miracle was this:] While a priest consecrated the bread and the wine, he was prey to strong doubts about the real presence of the Body and Blood of Christ in the sacrament of the Eucharist. Miraculously some drops of blood began to spurt from the consecrated Host, confirming in that way what our faith professes. Urban IV asked one of the greatest theologians of history, St. Thomas Aquinas -- who at that time was accompanying the Pope and was in Orvieto -- to compose texts of the liturgical office for this great feast. These are masterpieces in which theology and poetry fuse, still in use today in the Church. They are texts that make the cords of the heart vibrate to express praise and gratitude to the Most Holy Sacrament, while the intelligence, penetrating the mystery with wonder, recognizes in the Eucharist the living and true presence of Jesus, of his sacrifice of love that reconciles us with the Father, and gives us salvation.

Even if after the death of Urban IV the celebration of the feast of Corpus Domini was limited to some regions of France, Germany, Hungary and northern Italy, it was again a Pontiff, John XXII, who in 1317 revived it for the whole Church. Henceforth the feast experienced a wonderful development, and is still much appreciated by the Christian people.

I would like to affirm with joy that today in the Church there is a "Eucharistic springtime": How many persons pause silently before the Tabernacle to spend time in a conversation of love with Jesus! It is consoling to know that not a few groups of young people have rediscovered the beauty of praying in adoration before the Most Blessed Sacrament. I am thinking, for example, of our Eucharistic adoration in Hyde Park, in London.

I pray so that this Eucharistic "springtime" will spread increasingly in every parish, in particular in Belgium, the homeland of St. Juliana. The Venerable John Paul II, in the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," said: "In many places, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament is also an important daily practice and becomes an inexhaustible source of holiness. The devout participation of the faithful in the Eucharistic procession on the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ is a grace from the Lord which yearly brings joy to those who take part in it. Other positive signs of Eucharistic faith and love might also be mentioned" (No. 10).

Remembering St. Juliana of Cornillon we also renew our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist. As we are taught by the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, "Jesus Christ is present in the Eucharist in a unique and incomparable way. He is present in a true, real and substantial way, with his Body and his Blood, with his Soul and his Divinity. In the Eucharist, therefore, there is present in a sacramental way, that is, under the Eucharistic species of bread and wine, Christ whole and entire, God and Man" (No. 282).

Dear friends, fidelity to the encounter with the Eucharistic Christ in Sunday's Holy Mass is essential for the journey of faith, but let us try as well to frequently go to visit the Lord present in the Tabernacle! Gazing in adoration at the consecrated Host, we discover the gift of the love of God, we discover the passion and the cross of Jesus, and also his Resurrection. Precisely through our gazing in adoration, the Lord draws us to himself, into his mystery, to transform us as he transforms the bread and wine. The saints always found strength, consolation and joy in the Eucharistic encounter. With the words of the Eucharistic hymn "Adoro te devote," let us repeat before the Lord, present in the Most Blessed Sacrament: "Make me believe ever more in You, that in You I may have hope, that I may love You!" Thank you.

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today deals with Saint Juliana of Cornillon, better known as Saint Juliana of Liege. Born at the end of the twelfth century, Juliana was orphaned young and became an Augustinian nun. Intelligent and cultured, she was drawn to contemplative prayer and devotion to the sacrament of the Eucharist. As the result of a recurring vision, Juliana worked to promote a liturgical feast in honour of the Eucharist. The feast of Corpus Christi was first celebrated in the diocese of Liege, and began to spread from there. Pope Urban IV, who had known Juliana in Liege, instituted the solemnity of Corpus Christi for the universal Church and charged Saint Thomas Aquinas with composing the texts of the liturgical office. The Pope himself celebrated the solemnity in Orvieto, then the seat of the papal court, where the relic of a celebrated Eucharistic miracle, which had occurred the previous year, was kept. As we recall Saint Juliana of Cornillon, let us renew our faith in Christ's true presence in the Eucharist and pray that the "springtime of the Eucharist" which we are witnessing in the Church today may bear fruit in an ever greater devotion to the Sacrament of Christ's Body and Blood.

I extend a warm welcome to the delegation from the International Catholic Migration Commission. I offer prayerful good wishes to the Sisters of Notre Dame of Coesfeld meeting in General Chapter. I also greet the priests from England and Wales celebrating their anniversaries of ordination. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially the pilgrim groups from Israel, Nigeria, England and the United States of America, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Agricultural Work
"This Is the Moment for the Reevaluation of Agriculture"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In the second reading in today's liturgy the Apostle Paul stresses the importance of work in a person's life. This aspect is also recalled by the "Day of Thanksgiving," which is traditionally celebrated in Italy on this second Sunday of November as a day of giving thanks to God at the end of the harvest season. Even if the in other geographical areas the times of cultivation are naturally different, today I would like to follow the lead of the words of St. Paul for some reflections, especially on agricultural work.

The current economic crisis, which has also been addressed recently in the meeting of the so-called Group of 20, must be taken in all its seriousness: It has numerous causes and sends a powerful message about the need for a profound revision of the model of global economic development (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 21). It's an acute symptom that is added to other more grave and already well-known ones, such as the continued imbalance between wealth and poverty, the scandal of hunger, the ecological emergency and the problem of unemployment, which has now become general. In this context a strategic re-launching of agriculture appears decisive. In fact, the process of industrialization has often overshadowed the agricultural sector, which, while also drawing benefit from modern technologies, has nevertheless lost importance, with notable consequences, even at the cultural level. I believe that this is the moment for the reevaluation of agriculture, not in a nostalgic sense, but as an indispensable resource for the future.

In the current economic situation, the temptation for the more dynamic economies is that of chasing after advantageous alliances that, nevertheless, can have harmful effects for poorer states, prolonging situations of extreme mass poverty of men and women and using up the earth's natural resources, entrusted to man by God the Creator -- as Genesis says -- that he might cultivate and protect it (cf. 2:15). Moreover, despite the crisis, in countries that have long been industrialized, lifestyles marked by unsustainable consumption -- which have damaging effects for the environment and the poor -- still continue. It is necessary, then, to point in a truly unified way to a new balance between agriculture, industry and services, so that development be sustainable, and no one go without bread and work, and so that air and water and the other primary resources be preserved as universal goods (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 27).

To this end, it is essential to cultivate and spread a clear ethic that is up to the task of addressing current challenges: Everyone should educate themselves in more wise and responsible consumption; promote personal responsibility, along with the social dimension of rural activities, which are based on perennial values, such as hospitality, solidarity, and the sharing of the toil of labor. More than a few young people have already chosen this path; also many professionals are returning to dedicate themselves to the agricultural enterprise, feeling that they are responding not only to a personal and family need, but also to a "sign of the times," to a concrete sensibility for the "common good."

Let us pray to the Virgin Mary that these reflections can serve as a stimulus to the international community, while we give our thanks to God for the fruits of the earth and the work of man.

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

Dear friends, in this moment, I would like to renew my nearness to the dear people of Haiti, who, because of last January's terrible earthquake, are now suffering from a grave cholera epidemic. I encourage everyone who is responding to this new emergency and, while I assure a special remembrance in my prayer, I call on the international community to generously assist these people.

On Saturday, Nov. 27, in St. Peter's Basilica, I will preside over the first vespers of the first Sunday of Advent and a prayer vigil for those in the early stages of life. This is a joint initiative with the local Churches throughout the world and I have recommended it to be observed in parishes, religious communities, associations and movements too. The time of preparation for Holy Christmas is a propitious moment to invoke divine protection for every human being called into existence, and also for a thanksgiving to God for the gift of life received from our parents.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer, particularly the parish groups from California in the United States. Today's Gospel reminds us that our lives and all history will be judged in the light of God's truth. In these final days of the Church's liturgical year, let us pray for the grace to remain always faithful to the Lord, as we look forward to Christ's coming in glory and the fulfillment of his promises. Upon you and your families I invoke God's gifts of wisdom, strength and peace!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address to Members of Culture Council
"A Christian Life Lived to the Full Speaks For Itself"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council of Culture, which took place last week in Rome.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!

I am delighted to meet with you at the conclusion of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in the course of which you have delved into the topic: "Culture of Communication and New Languages." I thank the president, Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, for his kind words and I greet all the participants, grateful for the contribution offered to the study of such a topic, very relevant to the mission of the Church. Discussing communication and language, in fact, does not mean just touching on one of the crucial intersections of our world and its cultures, but for us believers it means drawing near to the mystery itself of God who, in his goodness and wisdom, willed to reveal himself and manifest his will to men (Vatican Council II, Dogmatic Constitution "Dei Verbum," No. 2). In Christ, in fact, God revealed himself to us as Logos, who communicates and calls us, establishing the relationship that founds our identity and dignity as human persons, loved like sons by the one Father (cf. postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," Nos. 22-23). Communication and language are also essential dimensions of human culture, constituted by information and concepts, by beliefs and ways of life, but also by rules, without which people could only progress in their humanity and sociality with difficulty. I appreciated the original choice of inaugurating the plenary meeting in the Sala della Protomoteca at the Campidoglio, the civil and institutional heart of Rome, with a roundtable discussion on the theme: "In the City Listening to the Languages of the Soul." In this way the dicastery intended to express one of its essential tasks: listening to the men and women of our time to promote new occasions for the proclamation of the Gospel

Listening, then, to the voices of the globalized world, we realize that a profound cultural transformation is under way, with new languages and new forms of communication, which favor new and problematic anthropological models.

In this context, pastors and the faithful notice with concern certain difficulties in the communication of the evangelical message and the transmission of the faith within the ecclesial community itself. As I wrote in the postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini": "A great many Christians who need to have the word of God once more persuasively proclaimed to them, so that they can concretely experience the power of the Gospel" (No. 96). The problems seem sometimes to grow when the Church addresses men and women who are distant from or indifferent to an experience of faith, whom the evangelical message reaches in a way that has little effectiveness or attractiveness. In a world that makes communication the winning strategy, the Church, recipient of the mission to communicate to all the nations the Gospel of salvation, does not remain indifferent and foreign; she tries, on the contrary, to avail herself -- with renewed creative effort, but also with critical sense and attentive discernment -- of the new languages and new modalities of communication.

The incapacity of language to communicate the profound meaning and beauty of the experience of faith can contribute to the indifference of many, above all young people; it can become a motive for estrangement, as the constitution "Gaudium et Spes" already affirmed, stressing that an inadequate presentation of the message can conceal more than it reveals of the genuine face of God and religion (cf. No. 19). The Church wants to dialogue with everyone in the pursuit of truth, but in order for that dialogue and communication to be effective and fruitful, it is necessary to be on the same frequency, in friendly and sincere environments, in that ideal "Court of the Gentiles" that I proposed while speaking to the Roman Curia a year ago, and that the dicastery is establishing in different emblematic places of European culture. Today not a few young people, deafened by the infinite possibilities offered by information networks or other technologies, maintain forms of communication that do not contribute to maturation in humanity, but rather threaten to increase the sense of solitude and forlornness. In the face of such phenomena, I have spoken many times of the educational crisis, a challenge to which we can and must respond with creative intelligence, committing ourselves to promoting a communication that is humanizing, and that stimulates the critical sense and the capacity to evaluate and discern.

In the technological culture of today, the Gospel is the guide and the permanent paradigm of inculturation, purifying, healing and elevating the better elements of the new languages and new forms of communication. For this difficult and fascinating task, the Church can draw on the extraordinary patrimony of symbols, images, rites and gestures of her tradition. In particular, the rich and dense symbolism of the liturgy must shine forth in all its power as a communicative element, to the point of deeply touching the human conscience, heart and intellect. The Christian tradition has always been closely linked to the liturgy and to the language of art, the beauty of which has its special communicative power.

We also experienced this last Sunday, in Barcelona, at the Basilica of the Sagrada Familia, the work of Antoni Gaudí, who brought together, in a genial way, the liturgy's sense of the sacred with artistic forms that are as modern as they are in harmony with the best of the architectural traditions. Nevertheless, more incisive still than art and images in the communication of the evangelical message is the beauty of the Christian life. In the end, love alone is worthy of faith and is credible. The lives of the saints and martyrs reveal a singular beauty that fascinates and attracts, because a Christian life lived to the full speaks for itself. We need men and women who speak with their lives, who know how to communicate the Gospel, with clarity and courage, with the transparency of their actions, with the passionate joy of charity.

After having been a pilgrim at Santiago de Compostela and having admired in thousands of persons, young people above all, the convincing power of testimony, of the joy of setting out on a journey toward truth and beauty, I hope that many of our contemporaries can say, hearing the Lord's voice again, like the disciples of Emmaus: "Did our hearts not burn within us as he spoke to us on the way?" (Luke 24:32). Dear friends, I thank you for what you do daily with competence and dedication and, as I entrust you to Mary Most Holy, from my heart I impart to all the apostolic blessing.


Pope's Letter on Reopening the Vatican Library
"The Church of Rome From Its Beginning Is Linked to Books"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2010 - Here is a translation of the letter that Benedict XVI sent Thursday to the Vatican archivist and librarian, Cardinal Raffaele Farina, on the occasion of the reopening of the Apostolic Vatican Library.

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To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Raffaele Farina, S.D.B.
Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church

The reopening of the Vatican Library, after three years of closure for important works, is being celebrated with an exhibition entitled "Know the Vatican Library: A History Open to the Future" and with a congress on the topic "The Apostolic Vatican Library as Place of Research and as Institution at the Service of Scholars." I follow these initiatives with particular interest, not only to confirm my personal closeness to persons dedicated to study at this meritorious institution, but also to continue the age-old and constant care that my predecessors had for it.

One of the two epigraphs affixed by Pope Sixtus V next to the entrance of the Sistine Hall recalls that it was begun ("inchoata") by those Popes who listened to the voice of the Apostle Peter. In this idea of continuity of a 2,000 year history there is a profound truth: the Church of Rome from its beginning is linked to books; at first it was those of the sacred Scriptures, then the theological and those relative to the discipline and governance of the Church. In fact, if the Vatican Library was born in the 15th century, in the heart of humanism, of which it is a splendid manifestation, it is the expression, the "modern" institutional realization of a much older reality, which has always supported the journey of the Church. This historical awareness induces me to underline how the Apostolic Library, like the neighboring Secret Archive, is an integral part of the instruments necessary for the development of the Petrine Ministry and like it is rooted in the exigencies of the governance of the Church. Far from being simply the fruit of the accumulation of a refined bibliophile and of a hobby of collecting many possibilities, the Vatican Library is a precious means -- which the Bishop of Rome cannot and does not intend to give up -- that gives, in the consideration of problems, that look capable of gathering, in a perspective of long duration, the remote roots of situations and their evolution in time.

Eminent place of the historical memory of the universal Church, in which are kept venerable testimonies of the handwritten tradition of the Bible, the Vatican Library is but another reason to be the object of the care and concern of the Popes. From its origins it conserves the unmistakable, truly "catholic," universal openness to everything that humanity has produced in the course of the centuries that is beautiful, good, noble, worthy (cf. Philippians 4:8); the breadth of mind with which in time it gathered the loftiest fruits of human thought and culture, from antiquity to the Medieval age, from the modern era to the 20th century. Nothing of all that is truly human is foreign to the Church, which because of this has always sought, gathered, conserved, with a continuity that few equal, the best results of men of rising above the purely material toward the search, aware or unaware, of the Truth. Not accidental, in the iconographic program of the Sistine Hall, is the ordered succession of the representations of the ecumenical councils and of the great libraries of antiquity on the right and left walls, the images of the inventors of the alphabets in the central pillars all converge toward the figure of Jesus Christ, "celestis doctrinae auctor," alpha and omega, true Book of Life (cf. Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:15; 21:27) to which all human work tends and yearns. The Vatican Library is not therefore a theological library or primarily of a religious character; faithful to its humanistic origins, it is by vocation open to the human; and thus serves culture, understanding with it -- as my venerable predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI said on June 20, 1975, on the occasion of the fifth centenary of that institution -- "human maturation ... growth from within ... exquisitely spiritual acquisition; culture and elevation of the most noble faculty that God the Creator has given man, to make him man, to make him more of a man, to make him similar to himself! Culture and mind, hence; culture and soul; culture and God. Also with this, 'her' institution, the Church proposes again to us these essential and vital binomials, which touch man in his truest dimension, and incline him, almost by an inversion of the law of gravity, towards the lofty, and urge him (...) to surpass himself according to the wonderful Augustinian trajectory of the 'quaerere super se' (cf. St. Augustine, Confessions, X, 6, 9: PL 32, 783). Also with the functioning of 'her' institution, the Church promises herself again today -- as she did five centuries ago -- to serve all men, inscribe this ministry of hers in the vaster picture of that ministry that is so essential to her to make her be Church: Church as community that evangelizes and saves" (Insegnamenti, XIII [1975], p. 655).

This opening to the human does not regard only the past but also looks to the present. In the Vatican Library, all researchers of the truth have always been received with attention and care, without confessional or ideological discrimination; required of them only is the good faith of serious research, unselfish and qualified. In this research the Church and my predecessors have always wished to recognize and value a motive, often, unwittingly, religious, because every partial truth participates in the Supreme Truth of God and every profound and rigorous research, to ascertain it is a path to reach it. The love of letters, historical and philological research, are thus intertwined in God's desire, as I had the occasion to remind on Sept. 12, 2008, in Paris, when meeting with the world of culture at the College des Bernardines and evoking again the great experience of Western monasticism. The objective of monks was and remains that of "'Quaerere Deum' -- setting out in search of God (...) The longing for God, the désir de Dieu, includes amour des lettres, love of the word, exploration of all its dimensions. Because in the biblical word God comes towards us and we towards him, we must learn to penetrate the secret of language, to understand it in its construction and in the manner of its expression. Thus it is through the search for God that the secular sciences take on their importance, sciences which show us the path towards language. Because the search for God required the culture of the word, it was appropriate that the monastery should have a library, pointing out pathways to the word. (...) The monastery serves 'eruditio,' formation and the erudition of man -- a formation with the ultimate objective that man learn to serve God" (Insegnamenti, IV, 2 [2008], p. 272).

The Vatican Library is hence the place in which the loftiest human words are collected and kept, mirror and reflection of the Word, of the Word that illumines every man (John 1:9). I am pleased to conclude recalling the words that the Servant of God Paul VI pronounced on his first visit to the Vatican Library, on June 8, 1964, when he recalled the "ascetic virtues" that the activity in the Vatican Library commits and exacts, immersed in the plurality of languages, of writings and words, but always looking at the Word, and through the provisional, continually drawing closer to the definitive. From this austere and at the same time joyous asceticism of research, in the service of studies themselves and others, the Vatican Library in the course of its history has offered innumerable examples, from Guglielmo Sirleto to Franz Ehrle, from Giovanni Mercati to Eugene Tisserant. May it be able to continue to walk on the path traced by these luminous figures!

With my best wishes and heartfelt gratitude, I impart to you, venerable brothers, to the prefect of the Vatican Library, Monsignor Cesare Pasini, to all the collaborators and researchers my apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, Nov. 9, 2010



Papal Words to Members of Eucharistic Congress Committee
"The Eucharist, Communion With Christ and Among Ourselves"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Committee of International Eucharistic Congresses.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I am happy to receive you at the end of the works of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses. I greet each of you cordially, in particular the president, Archbishop Piero Marini, whom I thank for the courteous expressions with which he introduced our meeting. I greet the national delegates of the episcopal conferences and, in a special way, the Irish delegation, led by Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin, city in which the next International Eucharistic Congress will take place in June 2012.

Your assembly has dedicated much attention to this event, which is also inserted in the program of renewal of the Church in Ireland. The theme, "The Eucharist, Communion with Christ and Among Ourselves," reminds us of the centrality of the Eucharistic mystery for the growth of the life of faith and for every genuine path of ecclesial renewal. The Church, while on pilgrimage on earth, is a sacrament of unity of men with God and among themselves (cf. Second Vatican Council, dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," No. 1). To this end, she has received the Word and the sacraments, above all the Eucharist, of which she "lives and grows continually" (ibid., No. 26), and in which at the same time she expresses herself.

The gift of Christ and of his spirit, which we receive in the Eucharist, fulfills with superabundant fullness the longing for fraternal unity that harbors in the human heart, and at the same time raises it well above the simple human convivial experience. Through communion with the Body of Christ, the Church becomes ever more herself: mystery of "vertical" and "horizontal" unity for the whole human race. Opposed to the germs of disintegration, which daily experience shows so rooted in humanity because of sin, is the generating force of unity of the Body of Christ, the Eucharist, continually forming the Church, which also creates communion among men.

Beloved, some happy circumstances render largely significant the works you have undertaken in these days and future events. The present assembly falls -- as Archbishop Marini has already said -- on the 50th anniversary of the Eucharistic Congress of Munich, which marked a turning point in the understanding of the ecclesial events elaborating the idea of "statio orbis," which will be taken up later by the Roman Ritual "De sacra Communione et de cultu Mysterii eucharistici extra Missam." As Archbishop Marini also recalled, I had the joy of participating personally in that meeting, as well as to witness the growth of that concept, as a young professor of theology. Moreover, the 2012 Dublin Congress will have a jubilee character, in fact it will be the 50th congress, and it will be held likewise 50 years from the opening of Vatican II, to which the theme makes explicit reference, recalling Chapter 7 of the dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium."

Moreover, the International Eucharistic Congresses have a long history in the Church. Through the characteristic form of "statio orbis," they highlight the universal dimension of the celebration: In fact, it is always a celebration of faith around the Eucharistic Christ, the Christ of the supreme sacrifice for humanity, to which the faithful participate not only those of a particular Church or nation, but, in so far as possible, from several places of the globe. It is the Church that recollects itself around its Lord and God. Important in this regard is the role of the national delegates. They are called to sensitize the respective Churches to the event of the congress, above all in the period of its preparation, so that from it will flow fruits of life and of communion.

Task of the Eucharistic Congresses, above all in the present context, is also that of giving a peculiar contribution to the new evangelization, promoting mistagogic evangelization (cf. postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 64), which is carried out in the school of the Church at prayer, starting from the liturgy and through the liturgy. However, every congress bears in itself an evangelizing inspiration in a more strictly missionary sense, so much so that the binomial Eucharist-mission becomes part of the guidelines proposed by the Holy See. The Eucharistic table, table of sacrifice and of communion, thus represents the diffusing center of the ferment of the Gospel, propelling force for the construction of the human society and pledge of the Kingdom that is coming. The Church's mission is in continuity with that of Christ: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you" (John 20:21). And the Eucharist is the principal means of this missionary continuity between God the Father, the incarnate Son, and the Church that journeys in history, guided by the Holy Spirit.

Finally, I leave you with a liturgical-pastoral indication. Because the Eucharistic celebration is the center and summit of all the various manifestations and forms of piety, it is important that every Eucharistic congress is able to involve and integrate, according to the spirit of the conciliar reform, all the expressions of the Eucharistic worship "extra missam" that sink their roots in popular devotion, as well as the associations of the faithful that in various titles of the Eucharist bring inspiration. All Eucharistic devotions, recommended and encouraged also by the encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia" (Nos. 10; 47-52) and by the postsynodal exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," are harmonized according to an Eucharistic ecclesiology oriented to communion. Also in this sense the Eucharistic congresses are a help to the permanent renewal of the Eucharistic life of the Church.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharistic apostolate to which you dedicate your efforts is very precious. Persevere in it with commitment and passion, encouraging and spreading Eucharistic devotion in all its expressions. Enclosed in the Eucharist is the treasure of the Church, namely, Christ himself, who on the Cross immolated himself for the salvation of humanity. I support your appreciated service with the assurance of my prayer, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, and with the apostolic blessing, which I impart to you from my heart, to your loved ones, and to your collaborators.


Benedict XVI's Letter to Iran's President
"Peace Is ... Also the Result of the Efforts of People of Good Will"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 11, 2010- Here is the letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, on the occasion of the visit to Tehran of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who met Tuesday with Ahmadinejad.

* * *

To His Excellency Mahmoud Ahmadinejad
President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Mr President,

I am writing to acknowledge the courteous words of greeting and the reflections that Your Excellency kindly sent me by the good offices of His Excellency Mr Hojjat ol Eslam Haj Sayyed Mohammad Reza Mir Tajjadini, Vice President of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

It is my profound conviction that respect for the transcendent dimension of the human person is an indispensable condition for the construction of a just social order and a stable peace. Indeed, one’s relationship with God is the ultimate foundation for the inalienable dignity and sacred character of every human life.

When the promotion of the dignity of the human person is the primary inspiration of political and social activity that is committed to search for the common good, solid and enduring foundations are created for building peace and harmony between peoples.

Peace is, above all, a gift from God, which is sought in prayer, but it is also the result of the efforts of people of good will. In this perspective, believers of every religion have a special responsibility and can play a decisive role, cooperating in common initiatives. Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a fundamental path to peace.

Strongly convinced of this, the recent Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which took place in the Vatican from 10 to 24 October 2010, was a significant moment of reflection and sharing on the situation in the Middle East and on the great challenges placed before the Catholic communities present there. In some countries these communities face difficult circumstances, discrimination and even violence and they lack the freedom to live and publicly profess their faith. I am certain that the work of the Synod will bear good fruit for the Church and for the whole of society.

The Catholics present in Iran and those around the world make efforts to collaborate with their fellow citizens to contribute loyally and honestly to the common good of the respective societies in which they live, becoming builders of peace and reconciliation.

In this spirit, I express the hope that the cordial relations already happily existing between the Holy See and Iran will continue to progress, as well as those of the local Church with the civil authorities. I am also convinced that the launch of a bilateral Commission would be especially helpful in addressing questions of common concern, including that of the juridical status of the Catholic Church in the country.

With these sentiments, I avail myself of the occasion to renew to you, Mr President, the assurance of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 3 November 2010



On the Trip to Spain
"I Invited Europe to Open Itself Ever More to God"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall, as well as the preliminary greetings he gave in St. Peter's Basilica.

* * *

[In St. Peter's:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I am happy to receive you and to address to each one of you my cordial welcome. In particular, I greet you, faithful of Carpineto Romano, who come together with your pastor, Bishop Lorenzo Loppa, to repay the brief but intense visit that I had the joy of making to your land last September, on the occasion of the bicentenary of the birth of Pope Leo XIII. Dear friends, I wish to renew to all my heartfelt gratitude for the warm reception you gave me on that occasion. I am thinking of the availability of the civil authorities, particularly the mayor and the town council, as well as the eager commitment of your bishop, of the parish priest and of their collaborators, especially in the preparation of the Eucharistic celebration, so well taken care of and participated in. The memory of that event, charged with ecclesial and spiritual meaning, revives in each one the desire to reflect increasingly on the life of faith, in the wake of the teachings of your illustrious fellow citizen Pope Leo XIII, whose courageous pastoral action inspired a beneficial renewal of Catholics' commitment in society.

Dear friends, do not tire of entrusting yourselves to Christ and of proclaiming him with your life, in the family and in every environment. It is this that men also today expect from the Church. With such sentiments, I impart to all from my heart my blessing, which I willingly extend to your families and to all dear persons.

I cordially greet you pilgrims from the Czech Republic, who are gathered so numerously to exchange the visit I had the joy of making to your country last year. Dear friends, you are welcome! I keep a cherished and happy memory of my pleasant trip in you beautiful land. I am thinking in particular of the deferent courtesy of the various authorities; of the warm welcome I received from venerable brothers in the episcopate, from priests, from consecrated persons and from all the faithful, who wished to express their faith around the Successor of Peter with enthusiasm. I was also struck by the attentive consideration given to me by all those who, though being far from the Church, are however searching for genuine human and spiritual values, of which the Catholic community itself wishes to be joyful witness. I pray that the Lord will make fruitful the graces of that trip, and I hope that the Christian people of the Czech Republic will continue, with renewed impetus, to render everywhere a courageous evangelical testimony. I impart to all of you from my heart a special apostolic blessing, extended to your families and to your entire homeland.

[In Paul VI Hall]

Dear brothers and sisters!

Today I would like to recall with you the apostolic journey to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, which I had the joy of making last Saturday and Sunday. I went there to confirm my brothers in the faith (cf. Luke 22:32); I did so as a witness of the Risen Christ, as a sower of the hope that does not disappoint or deceive because its origin is the infinite love of God for all men.

The first stage was Santiago. From the welcome ceremony, I was able to experience the affection that the people of Spain nourish for the Successor of Peter. I was truly received with great enthusiasm and warmth. In this Compostelian Holy Year, I wished to be a pilgrim together with the very numerous people who went to that famous shrine. I was able to visit the "House of the Apostle James the Greater," who continues to repeat to him who arrives there in need of grace, that in Christ, God has come into the world to reconcile it with himself, not imputing to men their faults.

In the imposing cathedral of Compostela, giving with emotion the traditional embrace to the saint, I thought how this gesture of hospitality and friendship is also a way of expressing adherence to his word and participation in his mission. [It is] a strong sign of willingness to be conformed to the apostolic message, which, on one hand, urges us to be faithful custodians of the Good News that the apostles have transmitted, without yielding to the temptation to alter, diminish or bend it to other interests and, on the other, it transforms each one of us into tireless heralds of faith in Christ, by word and the testimony of life in all areas of society.

Seeing the number of pilgrims present at the solemn holy Mass, which I had the great joy to preside over in Santiago, I reflected on what made so many people leave their daily occupations to undertake the penitential way to Compostela, a way that at times is long and tiring: It is the desire to reach the light of Christ, for which they yearn in the depth of their heart, even if often they are unable to express this well in words. In moments of loss, of searching, of difficulty, as well as in the aspiration to reinforce the faith and to live in a more coherent way, the pilgrims to Compostela undertake a profound itinerary of conversion to Christ, who has assumed to himself weakness, the sin of humanity, the miseries of the world, bearing them to where evil no longer has any power, where the light of goodness illumines everything. It is a people of silent walkers, from every part of the world, who rediscover the ancient medieval and Christian tradition of pilgrimage, going through villages and cities permeated with Catholicism.

In that solemn Eucharist, lived by so many faithful present with intense participation and devotion, I prayed with fervor that all those who go on pilgrimage to Santiago may receive the gift of becoming true witnesses of Christ, whom they have rediscovered at the crossroads of thought-provoking roads leading to Compostela. I also prayed so that pilgrims, following in the footsteps of numerous saints who in the course of the centuries have undertaken the "Way of Santiago," may continue to keep alive the genuine religious, spiritual and penitential meaning, without yielding to banality, distraction or fashions. That road, intersected by ways that furrow vast lands forming a network through the Iberian Peninsula and Europe, was and continues to be the place of encounter of men and women of the most diverse provenance, united by the search for the faith and the truth about themselves, and inspired by profound experiences of sharing, fraternity and solidarity.

It is precisely faith in Christ that gives meaning to Compostela, a spiritually extraordinary place, which continues to be a point of reference for today's Europe in its new configurations and prospects. Preserving and reinforcing openness to the transcendent, as well as a fruitful dialogue between faith and reason, between politics and religion, between economy and ethics, will make possible the building of a Europe that, faithful to its essential Christian roots, is able to respond fully to its own vocation and mission in the world. Because of this, certain of the immense possibilities of the European continent and trusting in its future of hope, I invited Europe to open itself ever more to God, thus favoring the prospects of an authentic, respectful and solidary encounter with the populations and civilizations of the other continents.

Then on Sunday in Barcelona I had the truly great joy of presiding over the dedication of the Church of the Holy Family, which I declared a minor basilica. In contemplating the grandeur and beauty of that building, which invites raising one's gaze and soul to the Most High, to God, I remembered the large religious constructions, such as the medieval cathedrals, which have profoundly marked the history and physiognomy of the principal cities of Europe. That splendid work -- very rich in religious symbols, beautiful in the intertwining of shapes, fascinating in the play of lights and colors -- virtually an immense sculpture in stone, fruit of profound faith, of spiritual sensibility and of the artistic talent of Antoni Gaudí, refers one to the true sanctuary, the place of real worship, Heaven, where Christ entered to stand in the presence of God in our favor (cf. Hebrews 9:24). In that beautiful temple, the brilliant architect was able to represent admirably the mystery of the Church, to which the faithful are incorporated with baptism as living stones for the construction of a spiritual building (cf. 1 Peter 2:5).

The Church of the Holy Family was conceived and planned by Gaudí as a great catechesis on Jesus Christ, as a canticle of praise to the Creator. In that very imposing building, he put his genius at the service of the Beautiful. In fact, the extraordinary expressive and symbolic capacity of the artistic forms and motifs, as well as the innovative architectural and sculptural techniques evoke the supreme Source of every beauty. The famous architect considered this work as a mission in which his whole person was involved. From the moment he accepted the assignment of the construction of that church, his life was marked by a profound change, perceiving the need to prepare himself spiritually to succeed in expressing in the material reality the unfathomable mystery of God. It can be said that, while Gaudí worked on the construction of the temple, God was constructing in him the spiritual building (cf. Ephesians 2:22), reinforcing him in the faith and bringing him ever closer to the intimacy of Christ. Inspiring himself continually in nature, work of the Creator, and dedicating himself passionately to know sacred Scripture and the liturgy, he was able to realize in the heart of the city a building worthy of God and, hence, worthy of man.

In Barcelona, I also visited the work of the "Child God," an initiative from more than 100 years ago, very linked to that archdiocese, where children and young people of different abilities are looked after with professionalism and love. Their lives are precious in the eyes of God and invite us constantly to come out of our egoism. In that house, I participated in the joy and profound and unconditional charity of the Franciscan Sisters of the Sacred Hearts, in the generous work of doctors, educators and so many other professionals and volunteers, who work with praiseworthy dedication in that institution. I also blessed the first stone of a new residence that will be part of this work, where everything speaks of charity, of respect for the person and his dignity, of profound joy, because the human being's value is in what he is, and not just what he does.

While I was in Barcelona, I prayed intensely for families, vital cells and hope of society and of the Church. I also remembered those who suffer, in particular in these moments of serious economic difficulties. I had present, at the same time, young people -- who accompanied me throughout the visit to Santiago and Barcelona with their enthusiasm and joy -- so that they would discover the beauty, the value and commitment of marriage, in which a man and a woman form a family, which with generosity receives life and supports it from its conception until its natural end. All that is done to support marriage and the family, to help the neediest persons, all that enhances the grandeur of man and his inviolable dignity, contributes to the perfecting of society. No effort is vain in this sense.

Dear friends, I thank God for the intense days I spent in Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona. I renew my gratitude to the king and queen of Spain, to the princes of Asturias and to all the authorities. I turn my grateful and affectionate thought once again to the dear brother archbishops of those two particular Churches and to their collaborators, as also to all those who spent themselves generously so that my visit in those two wonderful cities would be fruitful. They were unforgettable days, which will remain impressed in my heart! In particular, the two Eucharistic celebrations, carefully prepared and intensely lived by all the faithful, also through songs taken from the great musical tradition of the Church or from the genius of modern authors, were moments of true interior joy. May God recompense all, as only he knows how; may the Most Holy Mother of God and the Apostle St. James continue to accompany their way with their support. Next year, God willing, I will go to Spain again, to Madrid, for World Youth Day. I entrust henceforth to your prayer this providential initiative, so that it will be an occasion of growth in the faith for so many young people.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in various languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This past weekend I made an Apostolic Journey to Santiago de Compostela and Barcelona, two great cities of Spain and Europe. I came as a pilgrim among pilgrims in this Holy Year of Compostela, to venerate the Apostle Saint James the Greater. The traditional practice of embracing the image of the Saint symbolizes our embrace of the Gospel which he preached and the mission which we receive in Baptism to bear daily witness to Christ and to strengthen society by our fidelity to the wisdom and truth of the Gospel. On Sunday, in Barcelona, I dedicated the Church of the Sagrada Familia, the masterpiece of the great architect Antoni Gaudi. In this magnificent edifice Gaudi wished to celebrate the eternal source of all beauty, made flesh in Jesus Christ, who calls all humanity to become, in the Church, a temple in which God dwells. Let us pray for all families, that they may fulfil their unique role in society, and for all the people of Spain and Europe, that they may always find in their Christian roots the inspiration to pursue, along the pathways of our time, the historic mission of the Continent in today's world.

I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially those from England, Denmark, Sweden, Japan and the United States of America. Upon you and your families I invoke Almighty God's blessings of joy and peace.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[The Pope concluded in Italian:]

My thought now goes to young people, the sick and newlyweds. In yesterday's liturgy we celebrated the feast of the Dedication of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, "caput et mater omnium ecclesiarum." Together with it we remembered also the churches in which your communities gather and those that still await to be built in Rome and in the world. Dear young people, sick people and Christian spouses, I exhort you to collaborate with all the People of God and with all men of good will to build up the House of the Lord. Always be "living stones" of the spiritual building that is the Church, walking together in service of the Gospel, in the offer of prayer and in the sharing of charity.


Benedict XVI's Message for G-20 Summit
The World "Expects That Appropriate Solutions Will Be Adopted to Overcome the Crisis"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2010 - Here is a message sent by Benedict XVI to Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the occasion of the Group of 20 Summit, which begins Thursday in Seoul, South Korea.

* * *

Mr. President,

The meeting about to take place in Seoul of Heads of States and Government of the world's twenty-two leading economies together with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization, the Presidency of the European Union and some regional Organizations, as well as the leaders of various specialized Agencies, is not only of global importance but also clearly expresses the significance and responsibility which Asia has acquired on the international scene at the beginning of the 21st century. The Korean Presidency of the Summit is a recognition of the significant level of economic development attained by your country, which is the first among those not belonging to the G8 to host the G20 and guide its decision in the world after the crisis. The Summit seeks solutions to quite complex questions, on which the future of upcoming generations depends and which therefore require the cooperation of the entire international community, based on the acknowledgement -- which is shared and agreed by all peoples -- of the primary and central value of human dignity, the final objective of the choices themselves.

The Catholic Church, in accordance with her specific nature, regards herself as involved and shares the concerns of the leaders who will take part in the Seoul Summit. I therefore encourage you to tackle the numerous serious problems facing you -- and which, in a sense, face every human person today -- bearing in mind the deeper reasons for the economic and financial crisis and giving due consideration to the consequences of the measures adopted to overcome the crisis itself, and to seek lasting, sustainable and just solutions. In doing so, it is my hope that there will be a keen awareness that the solutions adopted, as such, will work only if, in the final analysis, they are aimed at reaching the same goal: the authentic and integral development of man.

The world's attention focuses on you and it expects that appropriate solutions will be adopted to overcome the crisis, with common agreements which will not favor some countries at the expense of others. History, furthermore, reminds us that, no matter how difficult it is to reconcile the different socio-cultural, economic and political identities coexisting today, these solutions, to be effective, must be applied through combined action which, above all, respects the nature of man. It is decisive for the very future of humanity to show the world and history that today, thanks also to this crisis, man has matured to the point of being able to recognize that civilizations and cultures, like economic, social and political systems, can and must converge in a shared vision of human dignity, which respects the laws and requirements placed in it by God the Creator. The G20 will respond to the expectations placed in it and grant real success to future generations, if taking into consideration the various and sometimes contrasting problems afflicting the peoples of the earth, it is able to set out the characteristics of the universal common good and demonstrate its willingness to cooperate in order to attain it.

With these sentiments I invoke God's blessings on all taking part in the Seoul Summit and I avail myself of the occasion to renew to Your Excellency the assurance of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 8 November 2010


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Message to Italian Bishops' Plenary Assembly
"I Wish to Make Myself Spiritually a Pilgrim in Assisi"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the president of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly being held through Thursday in Assisi. The text was published today by the Vatican press office.

* * *

To the Venerable Brother,
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco,
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference:

With this message, which I send you on the occasion of the 62nd General Assembly of the Italian Episcopal Conference, I wish to make myself spiritually a pilgrim in Assisi, to be present and to arrive personally where you and each one of the bishops are gathered, solicitous pastors of the beloved particular Churches that are in Italy. Your solicitude and commitment are manifested in the responsible governance of the diocese and in the paternal closeness to the priests and parish communities. Eloquent sign of this is the attention to the topic of education, which you have assumed as priority in the decade about to begin. The pastoral guidelines published recently are the expression of a Church that, in the school of Jesus Christ, wishes to take seriously the entire life of every man and, with this objective, seeks "in the daily experiences, the alphabet to compose the words which represent to the world the infinite love of God" ("Educare alla vita buona del Vangelo," No. 3).

1. You have met these days in Assisi, the city in which "a sun was born to the world" (Dante, "Paradiso," Canto XI), and who was proclaimed by the Venerable Pius XII as patron of Italy: St. Francis, who keeps intact his freshness and timeliness -- the saints never have a sunset! -- due to his having been conformed totally to Christ, of which he was a living icon.

As our own, the time in which St. Francis lived was also marked by profound cultural transformations, fostered by the birth of universities, by the growth of municipalities and by the spread of new religious experiences.

Precisely in that time, thanks to the work of Pope Innocent III -- the one from whom the Poverello of Assisi obtained the first canonical recognition -- the Church undertook a profound liturgical reformation. Eminent expression of this is the Fourth Lateran Council (1215), which counts among its fruits the "Breviary." This book of prayer includes in itself the richness of theological reflection and of the praying experience of the previous millennium. Adopting it, St. Francis and his friars made their own the liturgical prayer of the Supreme Pontiff: In this way, the saint listened to and meditated assiduously on the Word of God, to make it his own and then transmit it in the prayers of which he was author, as in general in all his writings.

The Fourth Lateran Council itself, considering with particular attention the sacrament of the altar, inserted in the profession of faith the term "transubstantiation," to affirm the presence of the real Christ in the Eucharistic sacrifice: "His Body and Blood are truly contained in the Sacrament of the altar, under the species of bread and wine, as the bread is transubstantiated into the Body and the wine into the Blood by the divine power" (DS, 802).

From attendance at Mass and reception with devotion of Holy Communion springs the evangelical life of St, Francis and his vocation to follow the way of the Crucified Christ: "The Lord -- we read in the Testament of 1226 -- gave me so much faith in the churches, which prayed simply thus and said: We adore you, Lord Jesus, in all the churches that are in the whole world and we bless you, because with your Holy Cross you have redeemed the world" (Franciscan Sources, No. 111).

Found also in this experience is the great deference that he had toward priests and the instruction to the friars to respect them always and in every case, "because of the Most High Son of God I do not see anything else physically in this world, but his Most Holy Body and Blood which they alone consecrate and they alone administer to others" (Franciscan Sources, No. 113).

Given this gift, dear brothers, what responsibility of life issues for each one of us! "Take care of your dignity, brother priests," recommended Francis, "and be holy because He is holy" (Letter to the General Chapter and to all the friars, in Franciscan Sources, No. 220). Yes, the holiness of the Eucharist exacts that this mystery be celebrated and adored conscious of its greatness, importance and efficacy for Christian life, but it also calls for purity, coherence and holiness of life from each one of us, to be living witnesses of the unique Sacrifice of love of Christ.

The saint of Assisi never ceased to contemplate how "the Lord of the universe, God and Son of God, humbled himself to the point of hiding himself, for our salvation, in the meager appearance of bread" (ibid., No. 221), and with vehemence he requested his friars: "I beg you, more than if I did so for myself, that when it is appropriate and you regard it as necessary, that you humbly implore priests to venerate above all the Most holy Body and Blood of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the holy names and words written of Him that consecrate the Body" (Letter to all the Custodians, in Franciscan Sources, No. 241).

2. The genuine believer, in every age, experiences in the liturgy the presence, the primacy and the work of God. It is "veritatis splendor" ("Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 35), nuptial event, foretaste of the new and definitive city and participation in it; it is link of creation and of redemption, open heaven above the earth of men, passage from the world to God; it is Easter, in the Cross and in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ; it is the soul of Christian life, called to follow, to reconciliation that moves to fraternal charity.

Dear brothers in the episcopate, your meeting puts at the center of the works of the Assembly the examination of the Italian translation of the third typical edition of the Roman Missal. The correspondence of the prayer of the Church (lex orandi) with the rule of the faith (lex credendi) molds the thought and the feelings of the Christian community, giving shape to the Church, Body of Christ and Temple of the Spirit. No human word can do without time, even when, as in the case of the liturgy, it constitutes a window that open beyond time. Hence, to give voice to a perennially valid reality calls for the wise balance of continuity and novelty, of tradition and actualization.

The missal itself is placed within this process. Every true reformer, in fact, is obedient to faith: He does not move arbitrarily, nor does he arrogate to himself any discretion about the rite; he is not the owner but the guardian of the treasure instituted by the Lord and entrusted to us. The whole Church is present in every liturgy: To adhere to its form is the condition of the authenticity of what is celebrated.

3. May this reason drive you, in the changing conditions of the time, to make ever more transparent and practicable that same faith that dates back to the age of the nascent Church. It is a very urgent task in a culture that -- as you yourselves say -- knows the "eclipse of the sense of God and the obfuscation of the dimension of interiority, the uncertain formation of personal identity in a plural and fragmented context, the difficulties of dialogue between generations, the separation between intelligence and affectivity" ("Educare alla vita buona del Vangelo," No. 9). These elements are the sign of a crisis of confidence in life, and influence in a considerable way the educational process, in which sure references become fleeting.

Contemporary man has invested much energy in the development of science and technology, attaining in these fields objectives that are undoubtedly significant and appreciable. This progress, however, has often taken place at the expense of the foundations of Christianity, in which is rooted the fecund history of the European Continent: the moral sphere has been confined to the subjective realm and God, when he is not denied, is nevertheless excluded from the public conscience. And yet, a person grows in the measure in which he experiences the good and learns to distinguish it from evil, beyond the calculation which considers only the consequences of an individual action or that uses as criterion of evaluation the possibility of carrying it out.

To change the direction a generic call to values is not sufficient, or an educational proposal that is content with purely functional and fragmentary interventions. Necessary instead is a personal relationship of fidelity between active subjects, protagonists of the relationship, capable of taking sides and of putting into play their own liberty (cf. ibid., No. 26).

Because of this, most opportune is your decision to call for mobilization on educational responsibility all those who give importance to the city of men and the good of the new generations. This indispensable alliance cannot but begin from a new proximity to the family, which recognizes and supports its educational primacy: It is within it that the face of a people is molded.

As the Church that lives in Italy, attentive to interpreting what happens in depth in today's world and, hence, to understanding man's questions and desires, renew the commitment to work willingly to listen and to dialogue, making available to all the Good News of the paternal love of God. You are encouraged by the certainty that "Jesus Christ is the way that leads each one to a complete fulfillment of himself according to the plan of God. It is the truth, which reveals man to himself and guides him on the way of growth in liberty. It is life, because in it every man finds the ultimate meaning of his existence and of his action: full communion of love with God for eternity" (ibid., No. 19).

4. On this way, I exhort you to appreciate the liturgy as perennial source of education to the good life of the Gospel. The latter introduces to the encounter with Jesus Christ, who with words and deeds constantly builds the Church, forming her in the depths of listening, of fraternity and of mission. The rites speak through their intrinsic rationality and educate to a conscious, active and fruitful participation (cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 11).

Dear brothers, let us lift our heads and let us allow Christ to look into our eyes, the only Teacher, Redeemer from whom proceeds all our responsibility to the communities that have been entrusted to us and to every man. May Mary Most Holy, with a Mother's heart, watch over our way and accompany us with her intercession.

On renewing my affectionate closeness and my fraternal encouragement, I impart to you, Venerable Brother, to the Bishops, to the collaborators and to all those present my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

In the Vatican, Nov. 4, 2010



Pontiff's Message to Justice and Peace Council
"The Great Human Family Awaits ... Words of Hope"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent today to the president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Peter Turkson, on the occasion of the dicastery's plenary assembly. The two-day meeting ends Friday.

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To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

1. On the occasion of the plenary assembly, I would like first of all to thank the dicastery for its manifold endeavor to help the whole Church, particularly this Apostolic See, in a renewed evangelization of the social realm at the start of the third millennium. Not only individual persons, but peoples and the great human family await -- in face of injustices and acute inequalities -- words of hope, fullness of life, pointing to the One who can save humanity from its radical evils.

2. As I reminded in my encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" -- following in the footsteps of the Servant of God Paul VI -- the proclamation of Jesus Christ is "the first and principal factor of development" (No. 8). Thanks to it, in fact, one can walk on the path of integral human growth with the ardor of charity and the wisdom of truth in a world in which, often, lies threaten man, society and participation. It is by living "charity in truth" that we will be able to offer a more profound look to understand the great social questions and indicate some essential perspectives for their solution in a fully human sense. Only with charity sustained by hope and illumined by the light of faith and reason, is it possible to achieve objectives of man's integral liberation and universal justice.

The life of communities and of each of the believers -- nourished by assiduous meditation on the Word of God, by regular participation in the sacraments and by communion with wisdom that comes from above -- grows in its capacity of prophecy and renewal of cultures and public institutions. The ethos of peoples can thus enjoy a truly solid foundation, which reinforces social consensus and sustains procedural rules. The commitment to build the city leans on consciences led by the love of God and, because of this, naturally oriented to the objective of a good life, structured on the primacy of transcendence.

"Caritas in veritate in re sociali": it seemed opportune to me to describe thus the social doctrine of the Church (cf. ibid., No. 5), in keeping with a more genuine rootedness -- Jesus Christ, the Trinitarian life that he gives us -- and according to all its force capable of transfiguring reality. We are in need of this social teaching, to help our civilizations and our own human reason to understand all the complexity of reality and the grandeur of the dignity of every person. Precisely in this connection, the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church helps to perceive the richness of the wisdom that comes from the experience of communion with the Spirit of God and of Christ and the sincere acceptance of the Gospel.

3. In the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," I pointed out fundamental problems that affect the destiny of peoples and global institutions, in addition to the human family. The upcoming anniversary of the encyclical "Mater et Magistra" of Blessed John XXIII invites us to consider with constant attention the social, sectorial, and national inequalities between resources and poor populations, between technology and ethics. In the present context of globalization, these imbalances have not disappeared. The individuals have changed and the dimensions of the problems, but the coordination among the states -- often inadequate, because it is oriented to the quest for a balance of power, more than to solidarity -- leaves room for renewed inequalities, to the danger of the predominance of economic and financial groups that dictate -- and attempt to do so continually -- the agenda of politics, to the detriment of the universal common good.

4. In regard to an ever more interconnected social question in its diverse realms, the commitment to the formation of the Catholic laity in the social doctrine of the Church seems particularly urgent. They, as free and responsible citizens, must commit themselves to promote a correct configuration of social life, in respect of the legitimate autonomy of earthly realities.

The social doctrine of the Church thus represents the essential reference for the plan and social action of the lay faithful, in addition to one's own lived spirituality, which is nourished and framed in ecclesial communion: communion of love and truth, communion in the mission.

5. The "Christifideles laici," however, precisely because they take energies and inspiration from communion with Jesus Christ, living integrated with the other ecclesial components, must find by their side priests and bishops capable of offering a tireless work of purification of consciences, together with indispensable support and spiritual help for the coherent testimony of the laity in the social realm. Hence, of fundamental importance is a profound understanding of the social doctrine of the Church, in harmony with all her theological patrimony and strongly rooted in the affirmation of the transcendent dignity of man, in the defense of human life from its conception to its natural death and of religious liberty.

Understood thus, the social doctrine must also be inscribed in the pastoral and cultural preparation of those who, in the ecclesial community, are called to the priesthood. It is necessary to prepare lay faithful capable of dedicating themselves to the common good, especially in the more complex realms such as the world of politics. It is also urgent to have pastors that, with their ministry and charism, are able to contribute to the invigoration and diffusion, in society and in institutions, of the good life according to the Gospel, with respect for the responsible liberty of the faithful and of their own role of pastors, which in these areas have a connected responsibility. The already mentioned "Mater et Magistra" proposed, almost 50 years ago, a true and proper mobilization, according to charity and truth, on the part of associations, movements, Catholic organizations and those of Christian inspiration, so that all the faithful, with commitment, liberty and responsibility, study, spread and carry out the social doctrine of the Church.

6. Hence, my desire is that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace continue its work of aid to the ecclesial community and all its components. The dicastery must therefore continue this work not only in the elaboration of updating the social doctrine of the Church, but also in its experimentation, with that method of discernment that I indicated in
"Caritas in Veritate," according to which, living in communion with Jesus Christ and among ourselves, we are "found" either by the truth of salvation, or by the truth of a world that has not been created by us, but which has been given to us as home to share in fraternity. In order to globalize the social doctrine of the Church, it seems opportune to multiply the centers and institutes that are dedicated to its study, diffusion and realization throughout the world.

7. In the wake of the promulgation of the compendium and of the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," it is natural that the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace dedicates itself to further reflection on the elements of novelty and, in collaboration with other individuals, to the search for the more adequate ways to convey the contents of the social doctrine, not only of the Christian traditional formative and educational itineraries of every order and degree, but also of the great centers of formation of world thought -- such as the great organs of secular press, the universities and the numerous centers of economic and social reflection -- which in recent times have developed in every corner of the world.

8. May the Virgin Mary, honored by the Christian people as "Speculum Iustitiae" [mirror of justice] and "Regina Pacis" [queen of peace], protect us and obtain for us with her heavenly intercession the strength, hope and joy necessary to continue dedicating ourselves with generosity to the realization of a new evangelization of the social realm.

On expressing once again my gratitude for the work carried out by the dicastery in all its components, I wish it fruitful work and impart willingly to you the apostolic blessing.

In the Vatican, Nov. 3, 2010



Pope's Homily at Mass for Deceased Cardinals
"The Smallest Force of Love Is Greater Than the Greatest Destructive Force"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily that Benedict XVI delivered today in St. Peter's Basilica during a Mass for the repose of the souls of the cardinals and bishops who died during this year.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

"If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above." The words we have just heard in the second reading (Colossians 3:1-4) invite us to raise our gaze to heavenly realities. In fact, with the expression "the things that are above" St. Paul understands heaven, because he adds: "where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God."

The Apostle endeavors to refer to the condition of believers, of those who are "dead" to sin and whose life "is hidden with God in Christ." They are called to live daily in the lordship of Christ, principle and fulfillment of each of their actions, giving witness of the new life given to them in baptism. This renewal in Christ takes place in the depth of the person: While continuing the struggle against sin, it is possible to progress in virtue, attempting to give a full and willing answer to the grace of God.

As antithesis, the Apostle indicates afterward "the things of the earth." Thus making manifest that life in Christ entails a "choice of field," a radical renunciation of everything that -- as dead weight -- has man tied to earth, corrupting his soul. The search for the "things that are above" does not mean that the Christian must neglect his own earthly obligations and duties, only that he must not get lost in them, as if they had a definitive value. Remembrance of the realities of heaven is an invitation to recognize the relativity of what is destined to pass away, in face of those values that do not know the deterioration of time. It is about working, committing oneself, allowing oneself proper rest, but with the serene detachment of one who knows that he is only a wayfarer on the way to his heavenly homeland; a pilgrim, in a certain sense, a foreigner toward eternity.

To this ultimate end have arrived the mourned cardinals Peter Seiichi Shirayanagi, Cahal Brendan Daly, Armand Gaétan Razafindratandra, Tomáš Špidlík, Paul Augustin Mayer, Luigi Poggi; as well as the numerous archbishops and bishops who have left us in the course of this last year. We want to remember them with sentiments of affection, thanking God for their gifts distributed to the Church precisely through these brothers of ours who have preceded us in the sign of faith and now sleep the sleep of peace.

Our gratitude becomes a prayer of suffrage for them, that the Lord may receive them in the blessedness of paradise. We offer this Holy Eucharist for their chosen souls, gathering around the altar, on which the sacrifice is present which proclaims the victory of life over death, of grace over sin, of paradise over hell.

We wish to remember these venerable brothers of ours as zealous pastors, whose ministry was always marked by the eschatological horizon that animates the hope of happiness without shadows which has been promised to us after this life; as witnesses of the Gospel called to live the "things that are above," which are fruit of the Spirit: "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22); as Christians and pastors animated by profound faith, by the lively desire to be conformed to Jesus and to be profoundly attached to his Person, incessantly contemplating his face in prayer. That is why they were able to have a foretaste of "eternal life," of which the passage of today's Gospel speaks (John 3:13-17) and Christ himself promised "to the one who believes in him." The expression "eternal life," in fact, points out the divine gift given to humanity: communion with God in this world and its fullness in the future.

Eternal life was opened to us by Christ's Paschal Mystery and faith is the way to reach it. It is what follows from Jesus' words to Nicodemus and expressed by John the Evangelist: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life" (John 3:14-15). Here is the explicit reference to the episode narrated in the book of Numbers (21:1-9), which highlights the salvific force of faith in the divine word. During the exodus, the Hebrew people rebelled against Moses and against God, and was punished by the plague of venomous serpents. Moses asked for forgiveness, and God, accepting the repentance of the Israelites, ordered them to "make a fiery serpent, and set it on a pole; and every one who is bitten, when he sees it, shall live." And so it happened.

Jesus, in the conversation with Nicodemus, revealed the more profound meaning of this event of salvation, referring it to his own death and resurrection: the Son of Man must be lifted on the wood of the Cross so that whoever believes in him will have life. St. John sees precisely in the mystery of the cross the moment in which the real glory of Jesus is revealed, the glory of a love that gives itself totally in the passion and death. Thus, paradoxically, from a sign of condemnation, of death, of failure, the cross becomes sign of redemption, of life, of victory, in which, with the look of faith, the fruits of salvation can be gathered.

Continuing the dialogue with Nicodemus, Jesus reflects ultimately on the salvific meaning of the cross, revealing with ever greater clarity that it consists in the immense love of God and in the gift of the Only-Begotten Son: "God so loved the world that he gave his Only-Begotten Son." This is one of the central words of the Gospel. The subject is God the Father, origin of the whole creating and redeeming mystery. The verbs "to love" and "to give" indicate a decisive and definitive act that expresses the radicalism with which God approached man in love, to the total gift, to the threshold of our ultimate solitude, throwing himself into the abyss of our extreme abandonment, passing through the door of death.

The object and beneficiary of divine love is the world, namely, humanity. It is a word that erases completely the idea of a distant God, stranger to man's journey, and reveals rather his true faith: He gave us his Son out of love, to be the close God, to make us feel his presence, to come to meet us and carry us in his love, so that all of life is animated by this divine love.

The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life. God does not take possession but loves without measure. He does not manifest his omnipotence in punishment, but in mercy and in forgiveness. To understand all this means to enter into the mystery of salvation: Jesus came to save, not to condemn; with the sacrifice of the cross he reveals the loving face of God. And precisely by faith in the superabundant love that has been given to us in Christ Jesus, we know that even the smallest force of love is greater than the greatest destructive force and can transform the world, and by this same faith we can have the "reliable hope," in eternal life and in the resurrection of the flesh.

Dear brothers and sisters, with the words of the first reading, taken from the book of Lamentations, we pray that the cardinals, archbishops and bishops, whom we remember today, generous servants of the Gospel and of the Church, will now be able to know fully "how good the Lord is to the one who hopes in him, to the soul that seeks him" and experience that "in him is found mercy and redemption in abundance" (Psalm 129), trying to walk in the path of goodness, sustained by the grace of God, always remembering that "here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14). Amen.


On Marguerite d'Oingt
"The God-Love That Reveals Himself in Christ Fascinated Her"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2010 - Here is a translation of the catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the weekly general audience, held in Paul VI Hall.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With Marguerite d'Oingt, of whom I would like to speak to you today, we are introduced to Carthusian spirituality, which is inspired in the evangelical synthesis lived and proposed by St. Bruno. We do not know her date of birth, although some place it around 1240. Marguerite came from a powerful family of the old nobility of Lyonnais, the Oingt. We know that her mother was also called Marguerite, that she had two brothers -- Giscard and Louis -- and three sisters: Catherine, Elizabeth and Agnes. The latter followed her to the Carthusian monastery, succeeding her as prioress.

We have no information on her childhood, but through her writings we can intuit that she spent it peacefully, in an affectionate family environment. In fact, to express God's unbounded love, she valued images linked to the family, with particular reference to the figures of the father and mother. In one of her meditations she prays thus: "Very sweet Lord, when I think of the special graces that you have given me by your solicitude: first of all, how you took care of me since my childhood, and how you removed me from danger and called me to dedicate myself to your holy service, and how you provided everything that was necessary for me to eat, drink, dress and wear, (and you did so) in such a way that I had no occasion to think of these things but of your great mercy" (Marguerite d'Oingt, "Scritti Spirituali," Meditazione V, 100, Cinisello Balsamo, 1997, p. 74).

We always intuit in her meditations that she entered the Carthusian monastery of Poleteins in response to the Lord's call, leaving everything behind and accepting the severe Carthusian Rule, to belong totally to the Lord, to be with him always. She wrote: "Sweet Lord, I left my father and my mother and my siblings and all the things of this world for love of you; but this is very little, because the riches of this world are but thorns that prick; and the more they are possessed the more unfortunate one is. And because of this it seems to me that I left nothing other than misery and poverty; but you know, sweet Lord, that if I possessed thousands of worlds and could dispose of them as I pleased, I would abandon everything for your love; and even if you gave me everything that you possess in heaven and on earth, I would not consider myself satiated until I had you, because you are the life of my soul, I do not have and do not want to have a father and mother outside of you" (Ibid., Meditazione II, 32, p. 59).

We also have little data on her life in the Carthusian monastery. We know that in 1288 she became its fourth prioress, a post she kept until her death, which took place on Feb. 11, 1310. From her writings, however, we do not deduce particular turns in her spiritual itinerary. She conceives the entirety of life as a journey of purification up to full configuration with Christ. He is the book that is written, which daily influences her heart and life, in particular his saving Passion. In the work "Speculum," referring to herself in the third person, Marguerite stresses that by the Lord's grace "she had engraved in her heart the holy life that Jesus Christ God led on earth, his good examples and his good doctrine. She had placed the sweet Jesus Christ so well in her heart, that it even seemed to her that he was present and that he had a closed book in his hand, to instruct her" (Ibid., I, 2-3, p. 81). "In this book she found written the life that Jesus Christ led on earth, from his birth to his ascension into heaven" (Ibid., I, 12, p. 83). Every day, beginning in the morning, Marguerite dedicated herself to the study of this book. And, when she had looked at it well, she began to read the book in her own conscience, which showed the falsehoods and lies of her own life (cf. Ibid., I, 6-7, p. 82); she wrote about herself to help others and to fix more deeply in her heart the grace of the presence of God, that is, to make her life every day marked by confrontation with the words and actions of Jesus, with the Book of his life. And she did this so that Christ's life would be imprinted in her soul in a stable and profound way, until she was able to see the Book in her interior, that is, until contemplating the mystery of God Trinity (cf. Ibid., II, 14-22; III, 23-40, p. 84-90).

Through her writings, Marguerite gives us some traces of her spirituality, enabling us to understand some features of her personality and of her gifts of governance. She was a very learned woman; she usually wrote in Latin, the language of the erudite, but she also wrote in Provençal French, and this too is a rarity: thus her writings are the first of those known to be written in that language. She lived a life rich in mystical experiences, described with simplicity, allowing one to intuit the ineffable mystery of God, stressing the limits of the mind to apprehend it and the inadequacy of the human language to express it. She had a lineal personality, simple, open, of gentle affectivity, great balance and acute discernment, able to enter into the depth of the human spirit, discovering its limits, its ambiguities, but also its aspirations, the soul's tensions toward God. She showed outstanding aptitude for governance, combining her profound mystical spiritual life with service to her sisters and to the community. Significant in this connection is a passage of a letter to her father. She wrote: "My sweet father, I let you know that I am very occupied because of the needs of our house, so that it is not possible for me to apply my spirit to good thoughts; in fact, I have so much to do I do not know which way to turn. We have not gathered wheat in the seventh month of the year and our vineyards were destroyed by the storm. Moreover, our church is in such poor conditions that we are obliged to reconstruct it in part" (Ibid., Lettere, III, 14, p. 127).

A Carthusian nun thus describes the figure of Marguerite: "Revealed through her work is a fascinating personality, of lively intelligence, oriented to speculation and at the same time favored by mystical graces: in a word, a holy and wise woman who is able to express with a certain humor an affectivity altogether spiritual" (Una Monaca Certosina, Certosine, in Dizionario degli Istituti di Perfezione, Rome, 1975, col. 777). In the dynamism of mystical life, Marguerite values the experience of natural affections, purified by grace, as privileged means to understand more profoundly and to second divine action with greater alacrity and ardor. The reason lies in the fact that the human person is created in the image of God, and because of this is called to build with God a wonderful history of love, allowing himself to be totally involved in his initiative.

The God-Trinity, the God-love that reveals himself in Christ fascinated her, and Marguerite lived a relationship of profound love for the Lord and, in contrast, sees human ingratitude to the point of vileness, to the paradox of the cross. She says that the cross of Christ is similar to giving birth. Jesus' pain is compared with that of a mother. She wrote: "The mother who carried me in her womb suffered greatly in giving birth to me, during a day or a night, but you, most sweet Lord, were tormented for me not one night or one day, but for more than 30 years! [...] How bitterly you suffered because of me during your whole life! And when the moment of birth arrived, your work was so painful that your holy sweat became as drops of blood, which were shed over all your body to the ground" (Ibid., Meditazione I, 33, p. 59). Evoking the accounts of the Passion, Marguerite contemplated these sorrows with profound compassion. She said: "You were placed on the hard bed of the cross, so that you could not move or turn or wave your limbs as a man usually does when suffering great pain, because you were completely stretched and you were pierced with the nails [...] and [...] all your muscles and veins were lacerated. [...] But all these pains [....] were still not sufficient for you, so much so that you desired that your side be pierced so cruelly by the lance that your docile body should be totally ploughed and torn and your blood spurted with such violence that it formed a long path, almost as if it were a current." Referring to Mary, she said: It was no wonder that the sword that destroyed your body also penetrated the heart of your glorious Mother who so wanted to support you [...] because your love was higher than all other loves" (Ibid., Meditazione II, 36-39.42, p. 60f).

Dear friends, Marguerite d'Oingt invites us to meditate daily on the life of sorrow and love of Jesus and of his mother, Mary. Here is our hope, the meaning of our existence. From contemplation of Christ's love for us are born the strength and joy to respond with the same love, placing our life at the service of God and of others. With Marguerite we also say: "Sweet Lord, all that you did, for love of me and of the whole human race, leads me to love you, but the remembrance of your most holy Passion gives unequaled vigor to my power of affection to love you. That is why it seems to me that [...] I have found what I so much desired: not to love anything other than you or in you or for love of you" (Ibid., Meditazione II, 46, p. 62).

At first glance this figure of a Medieval Carthusian nun, as well as her life and her thought, seems distant from us, from our life, from our way of thinking and acting. But if we look at the essential aspect of this life, we see that it also affects us and that it would also be the essential aspect of our own existence.

We have heard that Marguerite considered the Lord as a book, she fixed her gaze on the Lord, she considered him a mirror in which her own conscience also appeared. And from this mirror light entered her soul: She allowed the word to come in, the life of Christ in her own being and thus she was transformed; her conscience was enlightened, she found criteria, light and was cleansed. It is precisely this that we also need: to let the words, life and light of Christ enter our conscience so that it is enlightened, understands what is true and good and what is wrong; may our conscience be enlightened and cleansed. Rubbish is not only on different streets of the world. There is rubbish also in our consciences and in our souls. Only the light of the Lord, his strength and his love is what cleanses us, purifies us, showing us the right path. Therefore, let us follow holy Marguerite in this look toward Jesus. Let us read the book of his life, let us allow ourselves to be enlightened and cleansed, to learn the true life. Thank you.

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today deals with Marguerite d'Oingt, a thirteenth-century Carthusian prioress and mystic. Marguerite's writings, which include the earliest known examples of Provencal French, were inspired by the evangelical spirituality of Saint Bruno; they reveal her fine sensibility and her deep desire for God. Marguerite viewed life as a path of perfection leading to complete configuration to Christ, above all in the contemplation of his saving passion. She imagined the Lord's life, his words and his actions, as a Book which he hold out to us, a Book to be studied and imprinted on our hearts and lives, until the day we read it from within, in the contemplation of the Blessed Trinity.

Marguerite's writings, filled with imagery drawn from family life, radiate a warm love of God and deep gratitude for his grace which purifies our affections and draws us more closely to him. The life and writings of Marguerite d'Oingt invite us to meditate daily on the mystery of God's infinite love, revealed above all in the sufferings of Christ on the Cross, and to find in it the strength and joy to place our lives at his service and that of our brothers and sisters.

As I welcome all the English-speaking visitors this morning, I am especially pleased to greet the delegation form the Anti-Defamation League, as well as the representatives of Pittsburgh's Jewish and Catholic communities. Upon them all and upon all the English-speaking visitors present in today's Audience, especially the pilgrim groups from Ireland, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, the Philippines, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke the Almighty's abundant blessings of grace and peace.

Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On All Saint's Day
"Sanctity ... Is the Objective of a Christian's Life"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave at midday on Monday, Solemnity of All Saints, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

The Solemnity of All Saints, which we celebrate today, invites us to raise our gaze to heaven and to meditate on the fullness of divine life that awaits us. "We are God's children now; what we shall be has not yet been revealed" (1 John 3:2): With these words the Apostle John assures us of the reality of our future relationship with God, as well as the certainty of our future destiny. Since we are his beloved children, we receive the grace to endure the trials of this earthly existence, hunger and thirst for justice, misunderstandings, persecutions (cf. Matthew 5:3-11), and at the same time we inherit already what is promised in the evangelical beatitudes, "in which the new image of the world and of man shines that Jesus inaugurates" (Benedict XVI, Jesus of Nazareth, Milan, 2007, 95).

Sanctity, to imprint Christ in oneself, is the objective of a Christian's life. Blessed Anthony Rosmini writes: "The Word imprinted itself in the souls of his disciples with a sensible aspect ... and with his words ... he had given his own that grace ... with which the soul perceives the Word immediately" (Antropologia soprannaturale, Rome, 1983, 265-166). And we experience in advance the gift of the beauty of sanctity every time we take part in the Eucharistic liturgy, in communion with the "immense multitude" of the blessed, who in heaven eternally acclaim the salvation of God and of the Lamb (cf. Revelation 7:9-10). "The life of Saints does not only comprise their earthly biography, but also their life and action in God after death. Evident in the saints is that, whoever goes to God, does not separate himself from men, but becomes really close to them" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 42).

Consoled by this communion of the great family of the saints, tomorrow we will commemorate all the faithful deceased. The liturgy of Nov. 2 and the pious exercise of visiting cemeteries remind us that Christian death is part of the journey of assimilation to God, which will disappear when God is everything in all. Although separation from earthly affection is certainly painful, we must not be afraid of it, because when it is accompanied by the prayer of suffrage of the Church, it cannot break the profound bonds that unite us to Christ. In this connection, St. Gregory of Niza said: "He who has created everything with wisdom, has given this painful disposition as instrument of deliverance from evil and possibility to participate in hoped for goods" ("De mortuis oratio," IX, Leyden, 1967, 68).

Dear friends, eternity is not "an unending succession of days in the calendar, but something more like the supreme moment of satisfaction, in which totality embraces us and we embrace [the] totality" ("Spe Salvi," No. 12) of being, of truth, of love. We entrust to the Virgin Mary, sure guide to sanctity, our pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland, while we invoke her maternal intercession for the eternal rest of our brothers and sisters, who have fallen asleep in the hope of resurrection.

[After praying the Angelus, the Pope added in Italian;]

Yesterday afternoon, in a very grave attack on the Syro-Catholic cathedral of Baghdad, dozens of people died and were wounded, among them two priests and a group of faithful gathered for Sunday's Holy Mass. I pray for the victims of this absurd violence, which is even more ferocious as it has hit defenseless persons, gathered in the house of God, which is house of love and reconciliation. I express, moreover, my affectionate closeness to the Christian community, which has been hit again, and I encourage all pastors and faithful to persevere in fortitude and in the firmness of hope. Lastly, in face of the cruel episodes of violence that continue to destroy the populations of the Middle East, I would like to renew my urgent appeal for peace: it is a gift of God, but it is also the result of the efforts of men of good will, of national and international institutions. May all join their efforts to end all violence!


On Zacchaeus and God's Mercy
"God Excludes No One, Neither the Poor Nor the Rich"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The evangelist St. Luke pays special attention to the theme of Jesus' mercy. In his narration in fact we find some episodes that highlight the merciful love of God and of Christ, who said that he had come to call, not the just, but sinners (cf. Luke 5:32). Among Luke's typical accounts there is that of the conversion of Zacchaeus, which is read in this Sunday's liturgy. Zacchaeus is a publican, indeed, he is the head publican of Jericho, and important city on the Jordan River. The publicans collected the tribute that the Jews had to pay to the Roman emperor, and already for this reason they were considered public sinners. What is more, they often profited from their position by extorting money from the people. Because of this Zacchaeus was very rich but despised by his fellow citizens. So when Jesus was passing through Jericho and stopped at the house of Zacchaeus, he caused a major scandal. The Lord, however, knew exactly what he was doing. He wanted, so to speak, to gamble, and he won the bet: Zacchaeus, deeply moved by Jesus' visit, decides to change his life, and promises to restore four times what he had stolen. "Today salvation has come to this house," Jesus says, and concludes: "The Son of Man has come to seek and to save what was lost."

God excludes no one, neither the poor nor the rich. God does not let himself be conditioned by our human prejudices, but sees in everyone a soul to save and is especially attracted to those who are judged as lost and who think themselves so. Jesus Christ, the incarnation of God, has demonstrated this immense mercy, which takes nothing away from the gravity of sin, but aims always at saving the sinner, at offering him the possibility of redemption, of starting over from the beginning, of converting. In another passage of the Gospel Jesus states that it is very difficult for a rich man to enter into the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Matthew 19:23). In the case of Zacchaeus we see that precisely what seems impossible actually happens: "He," St. Jerome comments, "gave away his wealth and immediately replaced it with the wealth of the Kingdom of Heaven" (Homily on Psalm 83:3). And Maximus of Turin adds: "Riches, for the foolish, feed dishonesty, but for the wise they are a help to virtue; for the latter they offer a chance of salvation, for the former they procure a stumbling block and perdition" (Sermon 95).

Dear Friends, Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus and converted because Jesus first welcomed him! He did not condemn him but he met his desire for salvation. Let us pray to the Virgin Mary, perfect model of communion with Jesus, to be renewed by his love, and to show his mercy to others.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

Yesterday, in the cathedral of Oradea Mare in Romania, Cardinal Peter Erdo beatified Szilárd Bogdánffy, bishop and martyr. In 1949 when he was 38 he was secretly consecrated a bishop and then arrested by the communist regime of his country, Romania, charged with conspiracy. After four years of suffering and humiliation, he died in prison. Let us thank God for this heroic pastor of the Church who followed the Lamb to the very end! May his witness bring comfort to those who even today are persecuted for the sake of the Gospel.

[In English he said:]

I would now like to offer a word of greeting to all the English-speaking visitors presents at today's Angelus prayer! In the liturgy of the word this morning, Our Lord tells us that he "has come to seek out and save those who were lost". May we always know our need for God and embrace his will for us, in love and humility. May God abundantly bless you and your loved ones!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Q and A With Catholic Action Youth
"The Strength of God's Love Can Accomplish Great Things in You"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2010 - Here is a translation of a question and answer session in which Benedict XVI responded to inquiries from a boy, an adolescent, and an educator of Italian Catholic Action. The Pope met Saturday with some 50,000 children, 30,000 youth and 10,000 educators of Catholic Action, who gathered in Rome under the theme: "There Is More. We Become Great Together."

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Boy's question: Your Holiness, what does it mean to grow up? What must I do to grow following Jesus? Who can help me?

Benedict XVI: Dear Friends of Italian Catholic Action! I am simply delighted to meet with you; you are here in great numbers in this beautiful piazza and I thank you from my heart for your affection! I offer my welcome to all of you! In particular I greet the president, Professor Franco Miano, and the general assistant, Monsignor Domenico Sigalini. I greet Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian bishops' conference, the other bishops, priests, the educators and parents who wanted to come with you.

I heard the question of the young member of Children's Catholic Action. The best answer to the question about what it means to grow up is on your jerseys, your caps, your signs: "There is more." This motto of yours, which I did not know, makes me think. What does a child do to see if he has gotten bigger? He compares his height with his friends' and imagines becoming taller to feel more grown up. I, when I was a boy of your age, was one of the smallest in my class, and much more did I have the wish to one day to be very big; and not only big in terms of the measuring stick, but I wanted to do something big, something more in my life, even if I did not know this saying "There is more." Growing taller implies this "There is more." You are told this by your heart, which wants to have a lot of friends, which is happy when you behave well, when you know how to bring joy to dad and mom, but above all when it meets a friend who is incomparable, very good and unique, Jesus.

You know how Jesus loved children and young people! One day, many children like you came up to Jesus, because they were very drawn to him and in his eyes they saw God's love reflected. But there were also adults who were upset by these children. This also happens to you sometimes, when you play, have fun with your friends, the grown-ups tell you not to disturb them... Well, Jesus rebukes those adults and tells them: Leave all these children alone, because they have in their heart the secret of the Kingdom of God. So, Jesus taught the adults that you too are "great" and that the adults have to protect this greatness, which is having a heart that loves Jesus. Dear children, dear young people: being "big" means loving Jesus very much, listening to him and talking to him in prayer, meeting him in the sacraments, in Holy Mass, in confession; it means getting to know him more and more and also letting others know about him, it means standing with our friends, the poorest ones too, the sick ones, to grow together.

And Children's Catholic Action is part of that "more," because you are not alone in loving Jesus -- there are many of you, we see that this morning too! -- but help each other; because you don't want to let any friend be alone, but you want to tell everyone that it is great having Jesus as a friend and it is great being friends with Jesus; and it is great being together, helped by your parents, priests, leaders! In this way you will truly grow up, not only because your height increases, but because your heart opens to the joy and love that Jesus gives you. And thus you open up to truly being big, being in God's great love, which is always also loving our friends. Let us hope and pray that we grow in this way, to find the "more" and to be truly persons with a big heart, with a great Friend who gives his greatness to us too. Thank you.

Young woman's question: Your Holiness, our teachers in Catholic Action tell us that to grow up it is necessary to learn to love, but often we fail and we suffer in our relationships, in our friendships, in our first loves. But what does it mean to love totally? How can we learn to love truly?

Benedict XVI: A great question. It is very important, I would say fundamental, to learn to love, truly to love, to learn the art of real love! In adolescence we stop before the mirror and we notice that we are changing. But if you continue to look at yourself, you will never grow up! You grow up when you do no longer let the mirror be the only truth about you but when you let your friends tell you. You will grow up if you are able to make your life a gift to others, not to seek yourselves, but to give yourselves to others: this is the school of love. This love, however, must bring you into that "more" that today shout to everyone. "There is more!" As I have already said, I too, in my youth wanted something more than what the society and the mentality of the time presented to me. I wanted to breathe pure air, above all I desired a beautiful and good world, like our God, the Father of Jesus, wanted for everyone. And I understood more and more that the world becomes beautiful and good if one knows this will of God and if the world corresponds to this will of God, which is the true light, beauty, love that gives the world meaning.

It is quite true: You cannot and must not adapt yourselves to a love reduced to a commodity to be consumed without respect for oneself or for others, incapable of chastity and purity. This is not freedom. Much of the "love" that is proposed by the media, on the internet, is not love but egoism, closure, it gives you the illusion of a moment, but it does not make you happy, it does not make you grow up, it binds you like a chain that suffocates more beautiful thoughts and sentiments, the true desires of the heart, that irrepressible power that is love and that has its maximum expression in Jesus and strength and fire in the Holy Spirit, who enflames your lives, your thoughts, your affections. Of course it demands sacrifice to live love in the true way -- without renunciation one does not find this road -- but I am certain that you are not afraid of the toil of a challenging and authentic love. It is the only kind that, in the final analysis, gives true joy! There is a test that tells you whether your love is growing in a healthy way: If you do not exclude others from your life, above all your friends who are suffering and alone, people in difficulty, and if you open your heart to the great friend Jesus.

Catholic Action also teaches you the roads to take to learn authentic love: participation in the life of the Church, of your Christian community, loving your friends in the Children's Catholic Action group, in Catholic Action, availability to those of your age at school, in the parish or in other environments, the company of the Mother of Jesus, Mary, who knows how to guide your heart and lead you along the way of good. Moreover, in Catholic Action, you have many examples of genuine, beautiful, true love: Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, Blessed Alberto Marvelli; love that also leads to the sacrifice of one's life, like with Blessed Pierina Morosini and Blessed Antonia Mesina.

Young people of Catholic Action, aspire to big goals, because God gives you the strength. "More" is being young people and children who decide to love like Jesus does, to be the protagonists of our own lives, protagonists in the Church, witnesses of the faith to those who are your age. "More" is the human and Christian formation that you experience in Catholic Action, which unites spiritual life, fraternity, public witness to the faith, ecclesial communion, love for the Church, collaboration with the bishops and priests, spiritual friendship. "Growing up together" speaks of the importance of being part of a group and a community that helps you to grow, to discover your vocation and to learn true love. Thank you.

Teacher's question: Your Holiness, what does it mean to be an educator today? How should we face the difficulties that we face in our service? And how can we do it in a way that everyone concerns themselves with the present and the future of the new generations? Thank you.

Benedict XVI: A big question. We see the problem of education in this situation. I would say that being educators means having a joy in your heart and communicating it to all to make life beautiful and good; it means offering reasons and objectives for the journey of life, offering the beauty of the person of Jesus and making others fall in love with him, his way of life, his freedom, his great love full of confidence in God the Father. It means above all always keeping the goal of every existence high toward that "more" that comes from God. This demands a personal knowledge of Jesus, a personal, daily, loving contact with him in prayer, in meditation on God's Word, in fidelity to the sacraments, to the Eucharist, to confession; it demands communicating the joy of being in the Church, of having friends to share not only problems but also the beautiful things and surprises of the life of faith.

You know well that you are not the children's owners but servants of their joy in the name of Jesus, guides to him. You have received the mandate from the Church for this task. When you join Catholic Action you say to yourselves and to everyone that you love the Church, that you are disposed to share responsible with the pastors of for her life and her mission. You are good teachers if you know how to involve everyone for the benefit of the young people. You cannot be self-sufficient but you must make the urgency of the education of the young generations felt at all levels. Without the presence of the family, for example, you risk building on sand; without the cooperation of the school you cannot form a deep understanding of the faith; without the involvement of the various influences on the young people's free time and communication your patient work risks not being effective, of not impacting daily life. I am certain that Catholic Action is deeply rooted in the region and has the courage to be salt and light. Your presence here this morning tells not only me but everyone that it is possible to educate, that it is difficult but beautiful to give enthusiasm to young people and to the littlest ones. Have the courage, I would like to say, audacity, not to allow any place to be without Jesus, his tenderness that you make everyone experience, even the most needy and abandoned, with your mission as educators.

Dear Friends, in conclusion I thank you for having participated in this meeting. I would like to stay with you a little longer because when I am in the midst of such joy and enthusiasm, I too am full of joy, I feel rejuvenated! But unfortunately time passes quickly, others await me. But in my heart I am with you and remain with you! And I invite you, Dear Friends, to continue in your journey to be faithful to the identity and purpose of Catholic Action. The strength of God's love can accomplish great things in you. I assure you of remembrance in my prayer and I entrust you to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, so that like her you can bear witness that "there is more," the joy of a life full of the presence of the Lord. Thank all of you from my heart!


Pope's Address to Participants in Erik Peterson Congress     (theology)
His Thought "Always Has a Vision of the Whole of Theology"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Monday upon receiving in audience the participants in the International Symposium on Erik Peterson.

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Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I greet all of you with great joy who have come here to Rome on the occasion of the International Symposium on Erik Peterson. In particular, I thank you, dear Cardinal Lehmann, for the cordial words with which you have introduced our meeting.

As you said, celebrated this year are the 120 years of the birth in Hamburg of this illustrious theologian; and, almost on this same day, Oct. 26, 1960, Erik Peterson died, still in his native city of Hamburg. He lived here in Rome, with his family, for some periods beginning in 1930, and afterward he established himself here from 1933: first on the Aventine, near St. Anselm, and subsequently on the outskirts of the Vatican, in a house facing St. Anne's Gate. That is why it is a particular joy for me to be able to greet the Peterson family present among us, his esteemed sons and daughters with their respective families. In 1990, together with Cardinal Lehmann, I was able to give your mother, in your apartment, on the occasion of her 80th birthday, an autograph with the image of Pope John Paul II, and I happily remember this meeting with you.

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14). This quotation from the Letter to the Hebrews could be the motto of Erik Peterson's life. In fact, he never found a true place, in his whole life, where he could get recognition and a stable dwelling. The beginning of his scientific activity fell at a period of upheavals in Germany after World War I. The monarchy had fallen. The civil order seemed to be at risk given the political and social disturbances. This was also reflected in the religious realm and, in a particular way, in German Protestantism. The liberal theology predominant up to then, with the proper optimism of progress, had entered into crisis and left room for new theological lines confronted among themselves. The contemporary situation posed an existential problem to young Peterson. With both historical as well as theological interest, he had already chosen the subject of his studies, as he affirmed, according to the perspective that "when we stay with human history alone, we are faced with a meaningless enigma" (Eintrag in das Bonner "Album Professorum" 1926/27, Ausgewahlte Schriften, Sonderband S. 111).

Peterson, I quote him again, decided "to work in the historical field and address especially problems of the history of religions," because in the Evangelical theology of the time, he did not succeed "in making headway among the cumulus of opinions to things in themselves" (ibid.). On this path he came increasingly to the certainty that there is no history separated from God and that in this history the Church has a special place and finds her meaning. I quote again: "That the Church exists and that she is constituted in an all together particular way, depends closely on the fact that (...) there is a determined, specifically theological history" (Vorlesung "Geschichte der Alten Kirche" Bonn 1928, Ausgewahlte Schriften, Sonderband S.88). The Church receives from God the mandate to lead men from their limited and isolated existence to a universal communion, from the natural to the supernatural, from fleetingness to the end of times. In his work on the angels he affirms in this regard: "The path of the Church leads from the earthly to the heavenly Jerusalem, (...) to the city of the angels and of the saints" (Buch von den Engeln, Einleitung).

The starting point of this path is the binding character of sacred Scripture. According to Peterson, sacred Scripture becomes and is binding not as such, it is not only in itself, but in the hermeneutics of the Apostolic Tradition that, in turn, is made concrete in the Apostolic succession and thus the Church maintains Scripture in a living present and at the same time interprets it. Through the bishops, who are in the Apostolic succession, the testimony of Scripture remains alive in the Church and constitutes the foundation for the permanently valid convictions of the faith of the Church, which we find first of all in the creed and in dogma. These convictions are continuously displayed in the liturgy as a living space of the Church for the praise of God. The Divine Office celebrated on earth is, therefore, in an indissoluble relationship with the heavenly Jerusalem: Offered there to God and to the Lamb is the true and eternal sacrifice of praise, of which the earthly celebration is only an image. Whoever participates in the Holy Mass stands almost on the threshold of the heavenly sphere, from which he contemplates the worship carried out by the angels and the saints. Wherever the earthly Church intones her Eucharistic praise, she is united to the festive, heavenly assembly, in which, in the saints, already a part of her has arrived, and gives hope to all those who are still on the way on this earth towards the eternal fulfillment.

Perhaps at this point I should insert a personal reflection. I first discovered the figure of Erik Peterson in 1951. At the time I was chaplain in Bogenhausen, and the director of the local publishing house Kosel, Mr. Wild, gave me the volume, just published, "Theologische Traktate" (Theological Treatises). I read it with increasing curiosity and let myself be truly impassioned by this book, because the theology I was looking for was there: a theology that employs all the historical seriousness to understand and study the texts, analyzing them with all the seriousness of historical research, and not allowing them to remain in the past, but that, in his research, he participates in the self-surmounting of the letter, enters into this self-surmounting and lets himself be led by it and in this way enters into contact with the One from whom theology itself comes: with the living God. And thus the hiatus between the past, which philology analyzes, and the today, is surmounted by itself, because the word leads to the encounter with reality, and the entire timeliness of what is written, which transcends itself toward reality, becomes alive and operating. Thus, from him I learned, in the most essential and profound way, what theology really is, and I also felt admiration, because here he does not only say what he thinks, but this book is an expression of a path that was the passion of his life.

Paradoxically, precisely the exchange of letters with Harnack expresses to the limit the unexpected attention that Peterson was receiving. Harnack confirmed, more than that, he had already written with precedence and independence, that the Catholic formal principle according to which "Scripture lives in the Tradition and the Tradition lives in the living form of the Succession," is the original and objective principle, and that sola Scriptura does not function.

Peterson assumed this affirmation of the liberal theologian in all its seriousness and allowed himself to be shaken, disturbed, bent and transformed by it, and in this way he found the path of conversion. And with it he really took a step as Abraham, according to what we have heard at the beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews: "For here we have no lasting city." He went from the security of a chair to uncertainty, without a dwelling, and he remained during the whole of his life deprived of a sure base and certain homeland, truly on the way with faith and for faith, in the confidence that by being on the way without a dwelling, he was at home in another way and was approaching ever more the heavenly liturgy, which had impressed him.

Given all of this one understands that many thoughts and writings of Peterson remained fragmentary because of the precarious situation of his life, after the loss of teaching, because of his conversion. But even having to live without the security of a fixed salary, he was married here in Rome and constituted a family. With this he expressed in a concrete way his inner conviction that we, though foreigners -- and he was so in a particular way -- find support in the communion of love, and that in love itself there is something that lasts for eternity. He lived this foreignness of the Christian. He had become a foreigner in Evangelical theology and remained a foreigner also in Catholic theology, as it was then.

Today we know that he belongs to both, that both must learn from him all the drama, the realism, and the existential and human need of theology. Erik Peterson, as Cardinal Lehmann affirmed, was certainly appreciated and loved by many, an author recommended in a restricted circle, but he did not receive the scientific recognition that he deserved; it would have been, in some way, too soon. As I have said, Cardinal Lehmann cannot be sufficiently praised for having taken the initiative to publish Peterson's works in a magnificent complete edition, and Mrs. Nichtweib, to whom he has entrusted this task, which she carries out with admirable competence. So the attention given to him through this edition is more than just, considering that now several works have been translated into Italian, French, Spanish, English, Hungarian and even Chinese. I hope that with this, Peterson's thought will be diffused further, which does not stop at details, but always has a vision of the whole of theology.

My heartfelt thanks to all those present for having come. My particular gratitude to the organizers of this symposium, especially Cardinal Farina, the patron of this event, and Dr. Giancarlo Caronello. My heartfelt best wishes for an interesting and stimulating discussion in the spirit of Erik Peterson. I expect abundant fruits from this congress, and I impart to all of you and all those you bear in your heart the Apostolic Blessing.


Papal Address to Science Academy
"Scientists Do Not Create the World; They Learn About It"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The theme of the assembly is: "The Scientific Legacy of the Twentieth Century."

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Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet all of you here present as the Pontifical Academy of Sciences gathers for its Plenary Session to reflect on "The Scientific Legacy of the Twentieth Century." I greet in particular Cardinal Cottier and Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, Chancellor of the Academy. I also take this opportunity to recall with affection and gratitude Professor Nicola Cabibbo, your late president. With all of you, I prayerfully commend his noble soul to God the Father of mercies.

The history of science in the twentieth century is one of undoubted achievement and major advances. Unfortunately, the popular image of twentieth-century science is sometimes characterized otherwise, in two extreme ways. On the one hand, science is posited by some as a panacea, proven by its notable achievements in the last century. Its innumerable advances were in fact so encompassing and so rapid that they seemed to confirm the point of view that science might answer all the questions of man’s existence, and even of his highest aspirations. On the other hand, there are those who fear science and who distance themselves from it, because of sobering developments such as the construction and terrifying use of nuclear weapons.

Science, of course, is not defined by either of these extremes. Its task was and remains a patient yet passionate search for the truth about the cosmos, about nature and about the constitution of the human being. In this search, there have been many successes and failures, triumphs and setbacks. The developments of science have been both uplifting, as when the complexity of nature and its phenomena were discovered, exceeding our expectations, and humbling, as when some of the theories we thought might have explained those phenomena once and for all proved only partial. Nonetheless, even provisional results constitute a real contribution to unveiling the correspondence between the intellect and natural realities, on which later generations may build further.

The progress made in scientific knowledge in the twentieth century, in all its various disciplines, has led to a greatly improved awareness of the place that man and this planet occupy in the universe. In all sciences, the common denominator continues to be the notion of experimentation as an organized method for observing nature. In the last century, man certainly made more progress – if not always in his knowledge of himself and of God, then certainly in his knowledge of the macro- and microcosms – than in the entire previous history of humanity. Our meeting here today, dear friends, is a proof of the Church’s esteem for ongoing scientific research and of her gratitude for scientific endeavour, which she both encourages and benefits from. In our own day, scientists themselves appreciate more and more the need to be open to philosophy if they are to discover the logical and epistemological foundation for their methodology and their conclusions. For her part, the Church is convinced that scientific activity ultimately benefits from the recognition of man’s spiritual dimension and his quest for ultimate answers that allow for the acknowledgement of a world existing independently from us, which we do not fully understand and which we can only comprehend in so far as we grasp its inherent logic. Scientists do not create the world; they learn about it and attempt to imitate it, following the laws and intelligibility that nature manifests to us. The scientist’s experience as a human being is therefore that of perceiving a constant, a law, a logos that he has not created but that he has instead observed: in fact, it leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason, which is other than that of man, and which sustains the world. This is the meeting point between the natural sciences and religion. As a result, science becomes a place of dialogue, a meeting between man and nature and, potentially, even between man and his Creator.

As we look to the twenty-first century, I would like to propose two thoughts for further reflection. First, as increasing accomplishments of the sciences deepen our wonder of the complexity of nature, the need for an interdisciplinary approach tied with philosophical reflection leading to a synthesis is more and more perceived. Secondly, scientific achievement in this new century should always be informed by the imperatives of fraternity and peace, helping to solve the great problems of humanity, and directing everyone’s efforts towards the true good of man and the integral development of the peoples of the world. The positive outcome of twenty-first century science will surely depend in large measure on the scientist’s ability to search for truth and apply discoveries in a way that goes hand in hand with the search for what is just and good. With these sentiments, I invite you to direct your gaze toward Christ, the uncreated Wisdom, and to recognize in His face, the Logos of the Creator of all things. Renewing my good wishes for your work, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On St. Bridget of Sweden
"Together, Christian Spouses Can Follow a Path of Sanctity"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On the fervent eve of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II proclaimed St. Bridget of Sweden co-patroness of the whole of Europe. This morning I would like to present her figure, her message, and the reasons why this woman has much to teach -- even today -- to the Church and to the world.

We know well the events of the life of St. Bridget because her spiritual fathers wrote her biography to promote her process of canonization immediately after her death, which took place in 1373. Bridget was born 70 years earlier, in 1303, in Finster, Sweden, a nation of Northern Europe that had received the faith three centuries earlier with the same enthusiasm with which the saint received it from her parents, who were very pious individuals, belonging to noble families close to the reigning House.

We can distinguish two periods in the life of this saint.

The first was characterized by her condition as a happily married woman. Her husband was called Ulf and he was governor of an important district of the Kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted 28 years, until Ulf's death. Eight children were born to them, the second of whom, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as saint. This is an eloquent sign of Bridget's educational commitment in regard to her children. Moreover, her pedagogic wisdom was appreciated to the point that Magnus, the king of Sweden, called her to the court for a certain time, in order to introduce his young wife, Blanche of Namur, to Swedish culture.

Bridget, spiritually guided by a learned religious who initiated her in the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her own family that, thanks to her presence, became a true "domestic church." Together with her husband, she adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She practiced works of charity towards the indigent with generosity; she also founded a hospital. Together with his wife, Ulf learned to improve his character and to advance in the Christian life. On returning from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, taken in 1341 with other members of the family, the spouses matured the plan to live in continence, but shortly after, in the peace of a monastery to which he had retired, Ulf concluded his earthly life.

The first period of Bridget's life helps us to appreciate what today we could define an authentic "conjugal spirituality": Together, Christian spouses can follow a path of sanctity, supported by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage. Not infrequently, as happened in the lives of St. Bridget and Ulf, it is the wife who with her religious sensibility, with delicacy and gentleness, is able to make the husband follow a path of faith. I am thinking, with recognition, of so many women who, day in day out, still today illumine their families with their testimony of Christian life. May the Spirit of the Lord fuel the sanctity of Christian spouses, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived according to the values of the Gospel: love, tenderness, mutual help, fecundity in generating and educating children, openness and solidarity to the world, participation in the life of the Church.

The second period of Bridget's life began when she became a widow. She renounced further marriage to deepen her union with the Lord through prayer, penance and works of charity. Hence, Christian widows can also find in this saint a model to follow. In fact, on the death of her husband, after distributing her goods to the poor, though without ever acceding to religious consecration, Bridget established herself in the Cistercian monastery of Alvastra. Here is where the divine revelations began, which were with her for the rest of her life. They were dictated by Bridget to her confessor-secretaries, who translated them from Swedish into Latin and gathered them in an edition of eight books entitled "Revelationes" (Revelations.) Added to the books was a supplement, entitled "Revelationes Extravagantes" (Supplementary Revelations).

St. Bridget's Revelations present a very varied content and style. At times the revelation is presented in the form of dialogue between the Divine Persons, the Virgin, the saints and also the demons; dialogues in which Bridget also intervenes. At other times, instead, it is the narration of a particular vision; and at others she narrates what the Virgin Mary revealed to her on the life and mysteries of her Son. The value of St. Bridget's Revelations, sometimes the object of doubt, was specified by the Venerable John Paul II in the letter "Spes Aedificandi": "Yet there is no doubt that the Church," wrote my beloved predecessor, "which recognized Bridget's holiness without ever pronouncing on her individual revelations, has accepted the overall authenticity of her interior experience." (No. 5).

In fact, reading these Revelations we are faced with many important topics. For example, the description returns frequently, with very realistic details, of the Passion of Christ, to which Bridget always had a special devotion, contemplating in it the infinite love of God for men. On the mouth of the Lord who speaks to her, she puts these words: "O, my friends, I love my sheep so tenderly that, if it were possible, I would like to die many times again for each one of them, in the same way that I suffered for the redemption of all" (Revelations, Book I, c. 59). Also Mary's sorrowful maternity, which made her Mediator and Mother of Mercy, is an argument that is repeated often in the Revelations.

Receiving these charisms, Bridget was conscious of being the recipient of a gift of great predilection on the part of the Lord: "My daughter," we read in the first book of the Revelations, "I have chosen you for myself, love me with all your heart ... more than everything that exists in the world" (c. 1). Moreover, Bridget knew well, and was firmly convinced that every charism is destined to build the Church. Precisely for this reason, not a few of her revelations were directed, in the form of warnings, including severe ones, to the believers of her time, including the religious and political authorities, so that they would live their Christian life coherently; but she did this with an attitude of respect and complete fidelity to the magisterium of the Church, in particular to the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

In 1349, Bridget left Sweden for the last time and went on pilgrimage to Rome. Not only did she wish to participate in the Jubilee of 1350, but she also wished to obtain from the Pope the approval of the rule of a religious order that she wanted to found, dedicated to the Holy Savior, and made up of monks and nuns under the authority of an abbess. This is an element that should not surprise us: In the Middle Ages there were monasteries founded with masculine and feminine branches, but with the practice of the same monastic rule, which provided for the direction of an abbess. In fact, the great Christian tradition recognizes the dignity proper to women, as well as -- taking as an example Mary, Queen of the Apostles -- her own place in the Church that, without coinciding with the ordained priesthood, is also important for the spiritual growth of the Community. Moreover, the collaboration of consecrated men and women, always with respect toward their specific vocation, is of great importance in today's world.

In Rome, in the company of her daughter Karin, Bridget dedicated herself to a life of intense apostolate and prayer. And from Rome she went on pilgrimage to several Italian shrines, in particular to Assisi, homeland of St. Francis, to whom Bridget always had great devotion. Finally, in 1371, she crowned her greatest desire: her trip to the Holy Land, where she went in the company of her spiritual children, a group that Bridget called "the friends of God."

During those years, the Pontiffs were in Avignon, far from Rome: Bridget addressed them earnestly, urging them to return to the See of Peter in the Eternal City.

She died in 1373, before Pope Gregory XI returned definitively to Rome. She was buried provisionally in the Roman church of St. Lawrence in Panisperna, but in 1374 her children Birger and Karin, took her back to her homeland, to the monastery of Vadstena, headquarters of the religious order founded by St. Bridget, which immediately enjoyed a notable expansion. In 1391, Pope Boniface IX canonized her solemnly.

Bridget's sanctity, characterized by the multiplicity of gifts and experiences that I wished to recall in this brief biographic-spiritual profile, makes her an eminent figure in the history of Europe. Coming from Scandinavia, St. Bridget attests how Christianity had permeated profoundly the life of all the peoples of this continent. Declaring her co-patroness of Europe, Pope John Paul II hoped that St. Bridget -- who lived in the 14th century, when Western Christianity had not yet been wounded by division -- can intercede effectively before God, to obtain the much-awaited grace of the full unity of all Christians. We want to pray, dear brothers and sisters, for this same intention, which we consider so important, so that Europe will be able to be nourished from its own Christian roots, invoking the powerful intercession of St. Bridget of Sweden, faithful disciple of God, co-patroness of Europe.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today is on Saint Bridget of Sweden. Born in thirteen hundred and three, she grew up steeped in the faith. She and her husband had eight children, and dedicated themselves with great fervour to the spiritual life and their children's Christian formation. Bridget was the driving force behind her and her husband's "conjugal sanctity," and became a model for many women through the ages of how to be the spiritual centre of the family. Following her husband's death, Bridget renounced further marriage in order to deepen her union with the Lord, through prayer, penance and works of charity. She gave away her possessions and lived in a monastery. In her prayer, she experienced many intense mystical experiences. In thirteen forty-nine, she made a pilgrimage to Rome, to obtain Papal approval for a religious order of both men and women which she intended to found, and, while in Rome, she lived a life of intense apostolic prayer and activity. Bridget died in thirteen seventy-three, and was canonized eighteen years later. She is a significant reminder of a united Western Christendom, a powerful example of feminine sanctity, and was proclaimed co-Patroness of Europe by the Venerable John Paul the Second, during the great Jubilee. May her intercession help unite all Christians, and draw the people of Europe to an ever greater appreciation of their unique and invaluable Christian heritage.

I am pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present today. In particular, I extend greetings to the Bridgetine Sisters here for their General Chapter. Upon all of you, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Message for World Migrant and Refugee Day
Theme for the Day: "One Human Family"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2010 - Here is Benedict XVI's message for the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be observed next Jan. 16. The Pope chose as the theme for the day: "One Human Family."

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees offers the whole Church an opportunity to reflect on a theme linked to the growing phenomenon of migration, to pray that hearts may open to Christian welcome and to the effort to increase in the world justice and charity, pillars on which to build an authentic and lasting peace. "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34), is the invitation that the Lord forcefully addresses to us and renews us constantly: if the Father calls us to be beloved children in his dearly beloved Son, he also calls us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

This profound link between all human beings is the origin of the theme that I have chosen for our reflection this year: "One human family", one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where also people of various religions are urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found. The Second Vatican Council affirms that "All peoples are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the face of the earth (cf. Acts 17:26); they also have one final end, God" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2008, 1). "His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men" (Declaration Nostra aetate, 1). Thus, "We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2008, 6).

The road is the same, that of life, but the situations that we pass through on this route are different: many people have to face the difficult experience of migration in its various forms: internal or international, permanent or seasonal, economic or political, voluntary or forced. In various cases the departure from their Country is motivated by different forms of persecution, so that escape becomes necessary. Moreover, the phenomenon of globalization itself, characteristic of our epoch, is not only a social and economic process, but also entails "humanity itself [that] is becoming increasingly interconnected", crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. In this regard, the Church does not cease to recall that the deep sense of this epochal process and its fundamental ethical criterion are given by the unity of the human family and its development towards what is good (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 42). All, therefore, belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.

"In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations, in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 7). This is also the perspective with which to look at the reality of migration. In fact, as the Servant of God Paul VI formerly noted, "the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (Encyclical Populorum progressio, 66), is a profound cause of underdevelopment and -- we may add -- has a major impact on the migration phenomenon. Human brotherhood is the, at times surprising, experience of a relationship that unites, of a profound bond with the other, different from me, based on the simple fact of being human beings. Assumed and lived responsibly, it fosters a life of communion and sharing with all and in particular with migrants; it supports the gift of self to others, for their good, for the good of all, in the local, national and world political communities.

Venerable John Paul II, on the occasion of this same Day celebrated in 2001, emphasized that "[the universal common good] includes the whole family of peoples, beyond every nationalistic egoism. The right to emigrate must be considered in this context. The Church recognizes this right in every human person, in its dual aspect of the possibility to leave one's country and the possibility to enter another country to look for better conditions of life" (Message for World Day of Migration 2001, 3; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Mater et Magistra, 30; Paul VI, Encyclical Octogesima adveniens, 17). At the same time, States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host Country, respecting its laws and its national identity. "The challenge is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially when in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and the new arrivals to live a dignified and peaceful life" (World Day of Peace 2001, 13).

In this context, the presence of the Church, as the People of God journeying through history among all the other peoples, is a source of trust and hope. Indeed the Church is "in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1); and through the action within her of the Holy Spirit, "the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one" (Idem, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 38). It is the Holy Eucharist in particular that constitutes, in the heart of the Church, an inexhaustible source of communion for the whole of humanity. It is thanks to this that the People of God includes "every nation, race, people, and tongue" (Rev 7:9), not with a sort of sacred power but with the superior service of charity. In fact the exercise of charity, especially for the poorest and weakest, is the criterion that proves the authenticity of the Eucharistic celebration (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, 28).

The situation of refugees and of the other forced migrants, who are an important part of the migration phenomenon, should be specifically considered in the light of the theme "One human family". For these people who flee from violence and persecution the International Community has taken on precise commitments. Respect of their rights, as well as the legitimate concern for security and social coherence, foster a stable and harmonious coexistence.

Also in the case of those who are forced to migrate, solidarity is nourished by the "reserve" of love that is born from considering ourselves a single human family and, for the Catholic faithful, members of the Mystical Body of Christ: in fact we find ourselves depending on each other, all responsible for our brothers and sisters in humanity and, for those who believe, in the faith. As I have already had the opportunity to say, "Welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is for everyone an imperative gesture of human solidarity, so that they may not feel isolated because of intolerance and disinterest" (General Audience, 20 June 2007: Insegnamenti II, 1 [2007], 1158). This means that those who are forced to leave their homes or their country will be helped to find a place where they may live in peace and safety, where they may work and take on the rights and duties that exist in the Country that welcomes them, contributing to the common good and without forgetting the religious dimension of life.

Lastly, I would like to address a special thought, again accompanied by prayer, to the foreign and international students who are also a growing reality within the great migration phenomenon. This, as well, is a socially important category with a view to their return, as future leaders, to their Countries of origin. They constitute cultural and economic "bridges" between these Countries and the host Countries, and all this goes precisely in the direction of forming "one human family". This is the conviction that must support the commitment to foreign students and must accompany attention to their practical problems, such as financial difficulties or the hardship of feeling alone in facing a very different social and university context, as well as the difficulties of integration. In this regard, I would like to recall that "to belong to a university community is to stand at the crossroads of the cultures that have formed the modern world" (John Paul II, To the Bishops of the United States of America of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee on their ad limina visit, 30 May 1998, 6: Insegnamenti XXI, 1 [1998] 1116). At school and at university the culture of the new generations is formed: their capacity to see humanity as a family called to be united in diversity largely depends on these institutions.

Dear brothers and sisters, the world of migrants is vast and diversified. It knows wonderful and promising experiences, as well as, unfortunately, so many others that are tragic and unworthy of the human being and of societies that claim to be civil. For the Church this reality constitutes an eloquent sign of our times which further highlights humanity's vocation to form one family, and, at the same time, the difficulties which, instead of uniting it, divide it and tear it apart. Let us not lose hope and let us together pray God, the Father of all, to help us -- each in the first person -- to be men and women capable of brotherly relationships and, at the social, political and institutional levels, so that understanding and reciprocal esteem among peoples and cultures may increase. With these hopes, as I invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Stella Maris, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all and, especially, to migrants and refugees and to everyone who works in this important field.

From Castel Gandolfo, 27 September 2010


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On the Synod of the New Evangelization
"The Church Exists to Evangelize"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Angelus the Pope had presided at the closing Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

With the solemn celebration this morning in the Vatican Basilica the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops came to its conclusion. The theme of the meeting was "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." This Sunday is also World Mission Sunday, whose theme this year is "The Building of Ecclesial Communion is the Key to Mission." The similarity between these themes is evident. Both invite us to look upon the Church as a mystery of communion that, by its nature, is destined for the whole person, and to all people. The Servant of God Paul VI thus stated: "The Church exists to evangelize, that is to say, to preach and to teach, to be the channel of the gift of grace, to reconcile sinners with God, to perpetuate the sacrifice of Christ in the Holy Mass, which is the memorial of his death and of his glorious resurrection" (Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii nuntiandi," Dec. 8, 1975, 14: AAS 68, [1976], p. 13).

For this reason, the next Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, in 2012, will be dedicated to the theme "The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith." In every time and in every place -- even today in the Middle East -- the Church is present and works to gather together all men and offer them to Christ, the fullness of life. As the Italian-German theologian Romano Guardini wrote: "The reality of the 'Church' implies the fullness of being Christian, which develops through history, insofar as the Church embraces the fullness of human reality which is in relation with God" ("Formazione liturgica," Brescia 2008, pp. 106-107).

Dear friends, in today's liturgy we read about the testimony of St. Paul in regard to the final reward that the Lord will give "to all those who awaited his manifestation with love" (2 Timothy 4:8). This is not an inactive or solitary waiting, on the contrary! The Apostle lived in communion with the risen Christ to "bring the proclamation of the Gospel to completion" so that "all nations shall hear it" (2 Timothy 4:17). The missionary task is not to bring about revolution in the world but to transfigure it, drawing power from Jesus Christ who "convokes us at the table of his Word and Eucharist, to taste the gift of his Presence, to form ourselves in his school and live more and more consciously united to him, Master and Lord" ("Message for the 84th World Missionary Day").

Even the Christians of today -- as it is written in the "Letter to Diognetus" -- "show how marvelous and … extraordinary their life together is. They live on earth but they are citizens of heaven. They obey the established laws but go beyond the laws in their way of life. ... They are condemned to death and from it draw life. Although they do good, they are … persecuted and grow in number every day" (V,; VI, 9 [SC 33], Paris 1951, 62-66).

To the Virgin Mary, who from Jesus crucified received the new mission of being the Mother of all those who want to believe in him and follow him, we entrust the Christian communities in the Middle East and all the missionaries of the Gospel.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In English, he said:]

To the English-speaking pilgrims gathered for this Angelus prayer I offer warm greetings. We give thanks to God for the blessings received during the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which concluded this morning in St. Peter's Basilica. We also celebrate today World Mission Sunday, which reminds us that ecclesial communion is the key to our task of proclaiming the Gospel. Entrusting this mission to the intercession of our Mother Mary, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I am happy to announce that yesterday, in Vercelli, Sister Alfonsa Clerici was beatified. Sister Alfonsa belonged to the Congregation of the Most Precious Blood of Monza. She was born in Lainate, near Milan, in 1860, and died at Vercelli in 1930. Let us thank God for this sister of ours, whom he guided to perfect charity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]


Pope's Homily at Closing Mass of Mideast Synod
"We Must Never Resign Ourselves to the Absence of Peace"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2010 - Here is the homily delivered today in St. Peter's Basilica at the solemn closing of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. The theme of the two-week synod was: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." The Gospel phrase under consideration was: "Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32).

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Venerable Brothers,
Illustrious Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear brothers and sisters,

Two weeks on from the opening Celebration, we are gathered once again on the Lord’s day, at the Altar of the Confession in St. Peter’s Basilica, to conclude the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. In our hearts is a deep gratitude towards God who has afforded us this truly extraordinary experience, not just for us, but for the good of the Church, for the People of God who live in the lands between the Mediterranean and Mesopotamia. As Bishop of Rome, I would like to pass on this gratitude to you, Venerable Synod Fathers: Cardinals, Patriarchs, Archbishops, Bishops. I wish to especially thank the Secretary General, the four Presidents Delegate, the Relator General, the Special Secretary and all the collaborators, who have worked tirelessly in these days. This morning we left the Synod Hall and came to “the temple to pray”: in this, we are touched directly by the parable of the pharisee and the publican, told by Jesus and recounted by the evangelist St Luke (cf. 18:9-14). We too may be tempted, like the pharisee, to tell God of our merits, perhaps thinking of our work during these days. However, to rise up to Heaven, prayer must emanate from a poor, humble heart. And therefore we too, at the conclusion of this ecclesial event, wish to first and foremost give thanks to God, not for our merits, but for the gift that He has given us. We recognize ourselves as small and in need of salvation, of mercy; we recognize all that comes from Him and that only with his Grace we may realize what the Holy Spirit told us. Only in this manner may we “return home” truly enriched, made more just and more able to walk in the path of the Lord.

The First Reading and the responsorial Psalm stress the theme of prayer, emphasizing that it is much more powerful to God’s heart when those who pray are in a condition of need and are afflicted. “The prayer of the humble pierces the clouds” affirms Ecclesiasticus (35:21); and the Psalmist adds: “Yahweh is near to the broken-hearted, he helps those whose spirit is crushed” (34:18). Our thoughts go to our numerous brothers and sisters who live in the region of the Middle East and who find themselves in trying situations, at times very burdensome, both for the material poverty and for the discouragement, the state of tension and at times of fear. Today the Word of God also offers us a light of consoling hope, there where He presents prayer, personified, that “until he has eliminated the hordes of the arrogant and broken the sceptres of the wicked, until he has repaid all people as their deeds deserve and human actions as their intentions merit” (Ecc 35:21-22). This link too, between prayer and justice makes us think of many situations in the world, particularly in the Middle East. The cry of the poor and of the oppressed finds an immediate echo in God, who desires to intervene to open up a way out, to restore a future of freedom, a horizon of hope.

This faith in God who is near, who frees his friends, is what the Apostle Paul witnesses to in today’s epistle, in the Second Letter to Timothy. Realizing that the end of his earthly life was near, Paul makes an assessment: “I have fought the good fight to the end; I have run the race to the finish; I have kept the faith” (2 Tm 4:7). For each one of us, dear brothers in the episcopacy, this is a model to imitate: May Divine Goodness allow us to make a similar judgment of ourselves! St Paul continues, “the Lord stood by me and gave me power, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed for all the gentiles to hear” (2 Tm 4:17). It is a word which resounds with particular strength on this Sunday in which we celebrate World Mission Day! Communion with Jesus crucified and risen, witness of his love. The Apostle’s experience is a model for every Christian, especially for us Shepherds. We have shared a powerful moment of ecclesial communion. We now leave each other so that each may return to his own mission, but we know that we remain united, we remain in his love.

The Synodal Assembly which concludes today has always kept in mind the icon of the first Christian community, described in the Acts of the Apostles: “The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul” (Acts 4:32). It is a reality that we experienced in these past days, in which we have shared the joys and the pains, the concerns and the hopes of Christians in the Middle East. We experienced the unity of the Church in the variety of Churches present in that region. Led by the Holy Spirit, we became “united, heart and soul” in faith, in hope, and in charity, most of all during Eucharistic celebrations, source and summit of ecclesial communion, and in the Liturgy of the Hours as well, celebrated every morning according to one of the seven Catholic rites of the Middle East. We have thus enhanced the liturgical, spiritual and theological wealth of the Eastern Catholic Churches, as well as of the Latin Church. It involved an exchange of precious gifts, from which all the Synodal Fathers benefitted. It is hoped that this positive experience repeats itself in the respective communities of the Middle East, encouraging the participation of the faithful in liturgical celebrations of other Catholic rites, thus opening themselves to the dimensions of the Universal Church.

Common prayer helped us to face the challenges of the Catholic Church in the Middle East as well. One of these is communion within each sui iuris Church, as well as in the relationships between the various Catholic Churches of different traditions. As today’s Gospel reminded us (cf Lk 18:9-14), we need humility, in order to recognize our limitations, our errors and omissions, in order to be able to truly be “united, heart and soul”. A fuller communion within the Catholic Church favors ecumenical dialogue with other Churches and ecclesial communities as well. The Catholic Church reiterated in this Synodal meeting its deep conviction to pursuing such dialogue as well, so that the prayer of the Lord Jesus might be completely fulfilled: “May they all be one” (Jn 17:21).

The words of the Lord Jesus may be applied to Christians in the Middle East: “There is no need to be afraid, little flock, for it has pleased your Father to give you the kingdom” (Lk 12:32). Indeed, even if they are few, they are bearers of the Good News of the love of God for man, love which revealed itself in the Holy Land in the person of Jesus Christ. This Word of salvation, strengthened with the grace of the Sacraments, resounds with particular potency in the places in which, by Divine Providence, it was written, and it is the only Word which is able to break that vicious circle of vengeance, hate, and violence. From a purified heart, in peace with God and neighbor, may intentions and initiatives for peace at local, national, and international levels be born. In these actions, to whose accomplishment the whole international community is called, Christians as full-fledged citizens can and must do their part with the spirit of the Beatitudes, becoming builders of peace and apostles of reconciliation to the benefit of all society.

Conflicts, wars, violence and terrorism have gone on for too long in the Middle East. Peace, which is a gift of God, is also the result of the efforts of men of goodwill, of the national and international institutions, in particular of the states most involved in the search for a solution to conflicts. We must never resign ourselves to the absence of peace. Peace is possible. Peace is urgent. Peace is the indispensable condition for a life of dignity for human beings and society. Peace is also the best remedy to avoid emigration from the Middle East. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem” we are told in the Psalm (122:6). We pray for peace in the Holy Land. We pray for peace in the Middle East, undertaking to try to ensure that this gift of God to men of goodwill should spread through the whole world.

Another contribution that Christians can bring to society is the promotion of an authentic freedom of religion and conscience, one of the fundamental human rights that each state should always respect. In numerous countries of the Middle East there exists freedom of belief, while the space given to the freedom to practice religion is often quite limited. Increasing this space of freedom becomes essential to guarantee to all the members of the various religious communities the true freedom to live and profess their faith. This topic could become the subject of dialogue between Christians and Muslims, a dialogue whose urgency and usefulness was reiterated by the Synodal Fathers. During the work of the Synod what was often underlined was the need to offer the Gospel anew to people who do not know it very well or who have even moved away from the Church. What was often evoked was the need for a new evangelization for the Middle East as well. This was quite a widespread theme, especially in the countries where Christianity has ancient roots. The recent creation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization also responds to this profound need. For this reason, after having consulted the episcopacy of the whole world and after having listened to the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, I have decided to dedicate the next Ordinary General Assembly, in 2012, to the following theme: “Nova evangelizatio ad christianam fidem tradendam - The new evangelization for the transmission of the Christian faith”.

Dear brothers and sisters of the Middle East! May the experience of these days assure you that you are never alone, that you are always accompanied by the Holy See and the whole Church, which, having been born in Jerusalem, spread through the Middle East and then the rest of the world. We entrust the results of the Special Assembly for the Middle East, as well as the preparation for the Ordinary General Assembly, to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace. Amen.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On St. Elizabeth of Hungary
"It Is Christ Whom You Have Washed, Fed and Looked After"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to speak to you about one of the women of the Middle Ages who inspired great admiration: St. Elizabeth of Hungary, also called Elizabeth of Thuringia. She was born in 1207 in Hungary; historians disagree on the place. Her father was Andrew II, rich and powerful king of Hungary who, to reinforce his political ties, married German countess Gertrude of Andechs-Merania, sister of St. Hedwig who was the wife of the duke of Silesia. Elizabeth lived in the Hungarian court only the first four years of her childhood, together with a sister and three brothers. She liked playing, music and dancing; she recited her prayers faithfully and showed particular care for the poor, whom she helped with a good word or affectionate gesture.

Her happy childhood was brusquely interrupted when, from far away Thuringia, knights arrived to take her to her new headquarters in central Germany. According to the customs of that time, in fact, her father had decided that Elizabeth should become a princess of Thuringia. The landgrave or count of that region was one of the wealthiest and most influential of Europe at the beginning of the 13th century, and his castle was the center of magnificence and culture. However, behind the celebrations and apparent glory were hidden ambitions of feudal princes, often at war among themselves and in conflict with the royal and imperial authorities. In this context, the landgrave Hermann was pleased to accept the engagement between his son, Ludwig, and the Hungarian princess. Elizabeth left her homeland with a rich dowry and a large entourage, including her personal maidservants, two of whom would remain faithful friends to the end. They are the ones who have left us precious information on the childhood and life of the saint.

After a long journey they arrived in Eisenach, then on up to the fortress of Wartburg, the massive castle overlooking the city. Celebrated here was the engagement between Ludwig and Elizabeth. In subsequent years, while Ludwig learned the profession of a knight, Elizabeth and her companions studied German, French, Latin, music, literature and embroidery. Despite the fact that the engagement took place for political reasons, a sincere love was born between the two young people, animated by faith and the desire to do the will of God.

At 18, after the death of his father, Ludwig began to reign over Thuringia. But Elizabeth became the object of silent criticisms because her way of behaving did not correspond to the life of the court. In the same sense, the celebration of their marriage was not lavish, and the expenses of the banquet were given in part to the poor. In her profound sensibility Elizabeth saw the contradictions between the faith professed and Christian practice. She could not bear compromises. Once, entering the church on the feast of the Assumption, she took off her crown, placed it before the cross and remained prostrate on the ground with her face covered. When a nun reproved her for this gesture, she replied: "How can I, miserable creature, continue to wear a crown of earthly dignity, when I see my King Jesus Christ crowned with thorns?" As she behaved before God, so she behaved with her subjects. Among the "Sayings" of the four maidservants we find this testimony: "She would not eat food if she was not first certain that it came from the properties and legitimate goods of her husband. While she abstained from goods procured illicitly, she was concerned to compensate those that had suffered violence" (Nos. 25 and 37). [She gave] a true example for all those entrusted with charges: The exercise of authority, at all levels, must be lived as a service to justice and charity, in constant pursuit of the common good.

Elizabeth practiced assiduously the works of mercy: she gave to drink and eat those who came to her door, she got clothes, paid debts, looked after the sick and buried the dead. Coming down from her castle, she often went with her maidservants to the homes of the poor, taking bread, meat, flour and other foods. She would hand the food out personally and carefully oversaw clothes and shelter for the poor. This behavior was reported to her husband, who not only was not annoyed, but answered her accusers: "So long as they don't come to the castle, I'm happy!" Placed in this context is the miracle of bread transformed into roses: While Elizabeth was going through the street with her apron full of bread for the poor, she met her husband, who asked her what she was carrying. She opened her apron and, instead of bread, magnificent roses appeared. This symbol of charity is often present in depictions of St. Elizabeth.

Hers was a profoundly happy marriage: Elizabeth helped her husband to raise his human qualities to the supernatural level and he, on the other hand, protected his wife in her generosity to the poor and in her religious practices. Ever more in admiration of his wife's great faith, Ludwig, referring to her care of the poor, said to her: "Dear Elizabeth, it is Christ whom you have washed, fed and looked after." A clear testimony of how faith and love of God and one's neighbor reinforce marital union and make it even more profound.

The young couple found spiritual support in the Friars Minor who, from 1222 spread in Thuringia. From among them, Elizabeth chose Friar Rudiger as her spiritual director. When he narrated to her the circumstances of the conversion of the young and rich merchant Francis of Assisi, Elizabeth was even more enthusiastic on her path of Christian life. From that moment, she decided to follow even more the poor and crucified Christ, present in the poor. Also when her first son was born, followed by two others, our saint never neglected her works of charity. Moreover, she helped the Friars Minor to build a monastery in Halberstadt, of which Friar Rudiger became the superior. Elizabeth's spiritual direction thus passed to Konrad of Marburg.

A harsh test was her farewell to her husband, at the end of June of 1227, when Ludwig IV joined the crusade of Emperor Frederick II, reminding his wife that this was a tradition for the sovereigns of Thuringia. Elizabeth replied: "I will not dissuade you. I gave myself wholly to God and now I must also give you." However, fever decimated the troops and Ludwig himself fell ill and died in Otranto before embarking, in September of 1227, at 27 years of age. Elizabeth, on hearing the news, had such sorrow that she withdrew in solitude, but later, strengthened by prayer and, consoled by the thought of seeing him again in heaven, she again became interested in the affairs of the kingdom.

However, another test awaited her: her brother-in-law usurped the government of Thuringia, declaring himself the true heir of Ludwig and accusing Elizabeth of being a pious woman incompetent to govern. The young widow, with her three sons, was expelled from the castle of Wartburg and began to look for a place of refuge. Only two of her maidservants stayed with her, accompanied her and entrusted her three sons to the care of friends of Ludwig. Traveling through villages, Elizabeth worked wherever she was received: She helped the sick, spinned and sewed. During this calvary, endured with great faith, patience and dedication to God, some relatives, who had remained faithful to her and considered her brother-in-law's government illegitimate, rehabilitated her name. Thus Elizabeth, at the beginning of 1228, was able to receive an adequate income to withdraw to the family castle in Marburg, where her spiritual director, Friar Konrad, also lived. It was he who referred to Pope Gregory IX the following event: "On Good Friday of 1228, with her hands on the altar in the chapel of the city of Eisenach, where she had received the Friars Minor, in the presence of some friars and relatives, Elizabeth gave up her own will and all the vanities of the world. She wanted to give up all her possessions, but I dissuaded her for love of the poor. Shortly after she built a hospital, took in the sick and the invalid and served the most miserable and abandoned at her own table. Having reproached her for these things, Elizabeth answered that from the poor she received a special grace and humility" (Epistula magistri Conradi, 14-17).

We can see in this affirmation a certain mystical experience similar to that lived by St. Francis: the Poverello of Assisi said, in fact, in his testament that, by serving the lepers, what was previously bitter became a sweetness of the soul and body (Testamentum, 1-3). Elizabeth spent her last three years in the hospital she founded, serving the sick, staying by the bedside of the dying. She always tried to carry out the most humble services and repugnant jobs. She became what we could call a consecrated woman in the midst of the world (soror in saeculo) and formed a religious community with other friends of hers, using a gray habit. It is no accident that she is patroness of the Third Order Regular of St. Francis and of the Secular Franciscan Order.

In November of 1231 she was affected by severe fever. When news of her illness spread, many people came to see her. Some 10 days later, she requested that her doors be closed to remain alone with God. She gently fell asleep in the Lord on the night of Nov. 17. Testimonies of her holiness were such and so many that, only four years later, Pope Gregory IX proclaimed her a saint and, in the same year, the beautiful church built in her honor in Marburg was consecrated.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the figure of St. Elizabeth we see how faith and friendship with Christ create the sense of justice, of the equality of everyone, of the rights of others, and they create love, charity. And from this charity hope is born, the certainty that we are loved by Christ and that the love of Christ awaits us and thus makes us capable of imitating Christ and of seeing Christ in others. St. Elizabeth invites us to rediscover Christ, to love him, to have faith and thus find true justice and love, as well as the joy that one day we will be immersed in divine love, in the joy of eternity with God. Thank you.

[The Holy Father then greeted the pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis today I wish to speak about Saint Elizabeth of Hungary, also known as Saint Elizabeth of Thuringia. She was born in the early thirteenth century. Her father was the King of Hungary, and Elizabeth was known from an early age for her fidelity to prayer and her attention to the poor. Though she was married to Ludwig, a nobleman, for political reasons, she and her husband developed a sincere love for each other, one deepened by faith and the desire to do the Lord’s will.

In her married life, Elizabeth did not compromise her faith in spite of the requirements of life at court. She preferred to feed the poor than to dine at banquets, and to clothe the naked than to dress in costly garments. Because of their deep faith in God, Elizabeth and Ludwig supported each other in their religious duties. After his early death, she dedicated herself to the service of the poor, always performing the humblest and most difficult works. She founded a religious community, and lived her vows until her death at an early age. She was canonized four years later, and is a patroness of the Third Order of Saint Francis. May her dedication to the poor and needy inspire in us the same love for Christ in our neighbour.


Pontiff's Address to Salvadorian Envoy
"Peace Is the Yearning of Every Person"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience El Salvador's new ambassador to the Holy See, Manuel Roberto López Barrera.

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Mr. Ambassador:

1. With great pleasure I welcome you to this solemn ceremony of presentation of the letters that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Republic of El Salvador to the Holy See, and I thank you for the cordial sentiments you expressed on the part of the government and of the beloved Salvadorian people. I am pleased to correspond to this delicate attention and I beg you to please convey my deferent greeting to the president of the Republic, Mauricio Funes Cartagena, assuring him that the Apostolic See will contribute to support the path of dialogue and peaceful coexistence undertaken by the authorities of your country, so that every Salvadorian may consider his homeland's soil a genuine home that welcomes him and offers him the possibility of living in it with serenity. In this way, the strengthening of internal agreement will enhance the good of the nation and contribute to its having an important place in the whole of Central America, where it is important that there are voices that invite to mutual understanding and generous cooperation, for the sake of just progress and the stability of the international community.

2. With the permanent dedication of Your Excellency to the mission you begin today, the authorities of your homeland have wished to exalt the diplomatic representation of El Salvador to the Holy See, in agreement with the majority feeling of your fellow citizens, who profess profound veneration and filial devotion to the Successor of St. Peter. The personal gifts that adorn Your Excellency, your faith, as well as your vast experience in several fields of teaching, public administration and social life, are the best guarantee in your endeavor to reinforce the fruitful and fluid relations that your country has had with the Holy See for a long time.

3. These close ties that unite the faithful Salvadorian people to the Chair of the Prince of the Apostles manifest a most noble tradition and it is impossible to separate them from the history and customs of that blessed land, since the days in which the sons of St. Dominic and St. Francis arrived there. The Catholic faith fell into a fertile furrow and inspired, from the name itself of that Central American nation to a never ending number of famous artistic monuments, shaping also the fecund health, educational and charity initiatives, as well as the innumerable personal, family and social virtues that the Christian condition bears with it. That patrimony of values fermented with the evangelical leaven is a heritage that Salvadorians have received as a mark of honor, a flow of wisdom that they must nourish to consolidate the present correctly and in order, and from which sufficient moral energies can be extracted in view of projecting a luminous future.

4. The Church in El Salvador, from her specific competence, with independence and liberty, tries to serve the protection of the common good in all its dimensions and to foment those conditions that will enable men and women to develop their persons integrally, permeating, to do so, the social context with the light that issues from her renewing vocation in the midst of the world. Evangelizing and giving witness of the love of God and of all men without any exceptions, she becomes an effective element for the eradication of poverty and a vigorous incentive in the struggle against violence, impunity and drug trafficking, which is causing so much ruin, especially among young people. On contributing in the measure of her possibilities to the care of the sick and the elderly, or to the reconstruction of areas devastated by natural disasters, she wishes to follow the example of her Divine Founder, who does not allow her to remain aloof from the aspirations and dynamisms of the human being, or to look on with indifference when such primordial exigencies as the equitable distribution of wealth, honesty in carrying out public functions or the independence of the courts of justice are weakened. Nor does the ecclesial community fail to looks for answers when many are lacking suitable housing or do not have a job that enables them to fulfill themselves and maintain their families, being obliged to emigrate from the homeland.

In the same way, it would be strange if Christ's disciples were neutral in the presence of aggressive sects, which appear as an easy and comfortable religious answer, but which, in reality, undermine the culture and habits that, for centuries, have conformed Salvadorian identity, clouding also the beauty of the evangelical message and splitting the unity of the faithful around their pastors. Instead, the maternal work of the Church in her constant determination to defend the inviolable dignity of human life from its conception until its natural end -- as proclaimed also by the country's Constitution -- the value of the family founded on marriage between a man and a woman, creates a climate where the true religious spirit is fused with the boldness to reach ever higher targets of well-being and progress, opening the nation to an expanded horizon of hopes.

5. It is consoling to see the effort of your country in the construction of an ever more harmonious and solidaristic society, advancing on the clear path of those Agreements that were signed in 1992, and which put an end to the long internal struggle that El Salvador went through, land of abundant natural riches that speak eloquently of God and that must be conserved and protected earnestly to bequeath them in all their luxuriance to the new generations.

The Salvadorian people, of sacrificial and industrious spirit, will find great joy if the peace process is seen confirmed daily and decisions tending to favor the citizenry's security are implemented. In this respect, I pray to the Almighty with fervent confidence that your fellow countrymen will be given the help that is necessary to give up definitively everything that provokes confrontations, replacing enmities with mutual understanding and the safeguarding of their persons and possessions. To achieve these goods, it is necessary that they be convinced that violence achieves nothing and everything worsens, as it is a dead end, a detestable and inadmissible evil, a fascination that fools the person and fills him with indignity. Peace, on the contrary, is the yearning of every person. As gift of the Divine Savior, it is also a task to which all must cooperate without hesitation, finding in the state a firm protector through pertinent juridical, economic and social dispositions, as well as adequate police and security forces and corps, which protect in the framework of legality the well-being of the population. In this path of overcoming obstacles they will always find the outstretched hand of the children of the Church, whom I earnestly exhort, so that, with their witness of disciples and missionaries of Christ, they identify with him more every day and they pray that he make of every Salvadorian an architect of reconciliation.

6. To Our Lady of Peace, heavenly Patroness of El Salvador, I entrust the concerns and challenges of a personal, family and public order of your compatriots. May she also assist and protect you, Mr. Ambassador, in the significant responsibility that you now begin and in which you will always have the diligent solicitude of my collaborators. While invoking her maternal protection on Your Excellency, your egregious family and the staff of the diplomatic mission, I implore copious blessings from the Almighty for the Republic of El Salvador.


Pope's Address to Ambassador From Colombia
"Look With Serenity and Hope to the Approaching Future"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience Colombia's new ambassador to the Holy See, César Mauricio Velásquez Ossa.

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Mr. Ambassador:

1. On presenting the letters of credence which accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of Colombia to the Holy See, it gives me profound pleasure to give you my cordial welcome and, reiterating the heartfelt affection I profess for the beloved children of your homeland, to wish you a fruitful service in carrying out the mission your government has entrusted to you. I am also grateful for the words you addressed to me, as well as the sentiments you expressed on behalf of the president of the republic, Doctor Juan Manuel Santos Calderón, who recently assumed the high responsibility of leading that beloved nation on the paths of progress in justice, sheltered by absolute respect for the basic rights of the person and in constant progress toward ever more noble and lofty aims, both human as well as spiritual. I beg you to give him my best wishes for peace and well being, as well as the assurance of my prayer for the fruitful exercise of such important work.

2. Your Excellency's presence and kind words bring me again the affection and devotion of a people known for its unblemished human and Christian virtues, its deep Catholic roots that, even in the mist of arduous situations of different sorts, has been able to maintain its faith in God and its firm will to cultivate and practice the values of the Gospel, inexhaustible source of energy and inspiration to be committed to the noblest causes.

3. Mr. Ambassador, you begin your delicate assignment to the Holy See at a moment of particular importance for Colombia. In fact, taking place this year is the commemoration of the bicentenary of the start of the process that led to the independence and the Constitution of the republic. I am certain that this significant anniversary will be a singular occasion to accept the lessons that history furnishes, to intensify initiatives and measures that consolidate security, peace, harmony and the integral development of all its citizens and to look with serenity and hope to the approaching future. Of fundamental importance on this path is the agreement of all, so that the most profound yearnings and projects of the Colombian people will increasingly build a happy and promising reality.

4. Not only during these two centuries, but also since the dawn of the arrival of the Spanish in America, the Catholic Church has been present in each of the stages of the historical evolution of your country, always carrying out a primordial and decisive role. In fact, the abnegated work of so many bishops, presbyters, religious and laity has left indelible imprints in the most varied ambits in the molding of your homeland, such as culture, art, health, social coexistence and the building of peace. It is a spiritual patrimony that has germinated in the course of the years and in all corners of Colombia in innumerable and fruitful human, spiritual and material realizations. These efforts, not exempt from sacrifices and adversities cannot be ignored. It is worthwhile to safeguard them as valuable heritage and to develop them as a beneficial proposal for the whole nation. To this effect, and faithful to the task received from the Lord, the Church will continue, in the context of the bicentenary, to give the best of herself to the Colombian people, being solidaristic in her aspiration to improve and help all from the mission proper to her. In this connection, in the message I addressed on June 30, 2008, to the Episcopal Conference of Colombia, on the occasion of the centenary of its foundation, I had the opportunity to urge the bishops so that, with farsightedness and paying heed to the eloquent testimony of apostolic zeal of the pastors who preceded them, they continue "responding with solicitous dedication, firm faith and renewed ardor to the challenges that are presented to the Church in your homeland," serving "all with enthusiasm, especially the least favored, taking to them a message of peace, justice and reconciliation."

In this exciting task, the Church in Colombia does not ask for any privilege. She only wishes to be able to serve the faithful and all those who open to her the door of their heart, with an outstretched hand, always willing to strengthen everything that promotes the education of the new generations, care of the sick and the elderly, respect for the indigenous populations and their legitimate traditions, the eradication of poverty, drug-trafficking and corruption, care of prisoners, the displaced, emigrants and laborers, as well as care of needy families. In short, it is about continuing to offer loyal collaboration for the integral growth of the communities in which pastors, religious and faithful carry our their service, moved only by the needs that spring from their priestly ordination, their religious congregation or their Christian vocation.

5. In this framework of mutual cooperation and cordial relations between the Holy See and the Republic of Colombia, which this year celebrates its 165th anniversary, I wish to manifest again the concern the Church has in protecting and fomenting the inviolable dignity of the human person, for whom it is essential that the juridical ordering respect the natural law in essential areas such as the safeguarding of human life, from conception until its natural end; the right to be born and to live in a family founded on marriage between a man and a woman and the right of parents to have their children receive an education in keeping with their own moral criteria or beliefs. All of them are irreplaceable pillars in the construction of a society truly worthy of man and of the values that are inseparable to him.

6. In this solemn meeting with Your Excellency, I also wish to manifest my spiritual closeness and assure my prayer for those in Colombia who have been unjustly and cruelly deprived on their liberty. I also pray for their families and, in general, for the victims of violence in all its forms, begging God to put an end to so much suffering, and that all Colombians may be able to live reconciled and in peace in that blessed land, so filled with natural resources, beautiful valleys and soaring mountains, with large rivers and picturesque landscapes, which it is necessary to preserve as a magnificent gift of God.

7. Mr. Ambassador, on concluding my words, I reiterate my best wishes for the mission you undertake today, in which you will find continually the hospitality and support of my collaborators. While invoking the maternal intercession of Our Lady of Chiquinquira on Your Excellency and the members of that Diplomatic Mission, on the government and the beloved Colombian people, I pray to the Almighty that your homeland will be at the forefront in service of the common good and fraternity between all men, and that it will encourage Colombians to walk without hesitation on the paths of mutual understanding and solidarity.


Benedict XVI's Letter to Seminarians
"For Us God Is Not Some Abstract Hypothesis"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 18, 2010 - This is the letter Benedict XVI wrote to seminarians on the occasion of the end of the Year for Priests, which ended in June. The letter is dated Oct. 18, the feast of Luke the Evangelist.

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Dear Seminarians,

When in December 1944 I was drafted for military service, the company commander asked each of us what we planned to do in the future. I answered that I wanted to become a Catholic priest. The lieutenant replied: "Then you ought to look for something else. In the new Germany priests are no longer needed". I knew that this "new Germany" was already coming to an end, and that, after the enormous devastation which that madness had brought upon the country, priests would be needed more than ever. Today the situation is completely changed. In different ways, though, many people nowadays also think that the Catholic priesthood is not a "job" for the future, but one that belongs more to the past. You, dear friends, have decided to enter the seminary and to prepare for priestly ministry in the Catholic Church in spite of such opinions and objections. You have done a good thing. Because people will always have need of God, even in an age marked by technical mastery of the world and globalization: they will always need the God who has revealed himself in Jesus Christ, the God who gathers us together in the universal Church in order to learn with him and through him life’s true meaning and in order to uphold and apply the standards of true humanity. Where people no longer perceive God, life grows empty; nothing is ever enough. People then seek escape in euphoria and violence; these are the very things that increasingly threaten young people. God is alive. He has created every one of us and he knows us all. He is so great that he has time for the little things in our lives: "Every hair of your head is numbered". God is alive, and he needs people to serve him and bring him to others. It does makes sense to become a priest: the world needs priests, pastors, today, tomorrow and always, until the end of time.

The seminary is a community journeying towards priestly ministry. I have said something very important here: one does not become a priest on one’s own. The "community of disciples" is essential, the fellowship of those who desire to serve the greater Church. In this letter I would like to point out – thinking back to my own time in the seminary – several elements which I consider important for these years of your journeying.

1. Anyone who wishes to become a priest must be first and foremost a "man of God", to use the expression of Saint Paul (1 Tim 6:11). For us God is not some abstract hypothesis; he is not some stranger who left the scene after the "big bang". God has revealed himself in Jesus Christ. In the face of Jesus Christ we see the face of God. In his words we hear God himself speaking to us. It follows that the most important thing in our path towards priesthood and during the whole of our priestly lives is our personal relationship with God in Jesus Christ. The priest is not the leader of a sort of association whose membership he tries to maintain and expand. He is God’s messenger to his people. He wants to lead them to God and in this way to foster authentic communion between all men and women. That is why it is so important, dear friends, that you learn to live in constant intimacy with God. When the Lord tells us to "pray constantly", he is obviously not asking us to recite endless prayers, but urging us never to lose our inner closeness to God. Praying means growing in this intimacy. So it is important that our day should begin and end with prayer; that we listen to God as the Scriptures are read; that we share with him our desires and our hopes, our joys and our troubles, our failures and our thanks for all his blessings, and thus keep him ever before us as the point of reference for our lives. In this way we grow aware of our failings and learn to improve, but we also come to appreciate all the beauty and goodness which we daily take for granted and so we grow in gratitude. With gratitude comes joy for the fact that God is close to us and that we can serve him.

2. For us God is not simply Word. In the sacraments he gives himself to us in person, through physical realities. At the heart of our relationship with God and our way of life is the Eucharist. Celebrating it devoutly, and thus encountering Christ personally, should be the centre of all our days. In Saint Cyprian’s interpretation of the Gospel prayer, "Give us this day our daily bread", he says among other things that "our" bread – the bread which we receive as Christians in the Church – is the Eucharistic Lord himself. In this petition of the Our Father, then, we pray that he may daily give us "our" bread; and that it may always nourish our lives; that the Risen Christ, who gives himself to us in the Eucharist, may truly shape the whole of our lives by the radiance of his divine love. The proper celebration of the Eucharist involves knowing, understanding and loving the Church’s liturgy in its concrete form. In the liturgy we pray with the faithful of every age – the past, the present and the future are joined in one great chorus of prayer. As I can state from personal experience, it is inspiring to learn how it all developed, what a great experience of faith is reflected in the structure of the Mass, and how it has been shaped by the prayer of many generations.

3. The sacrament of Penance is also important. It teaches me to see myself as God sees me, and it forces me to be honest with myself. It leads me to humility. The Curé of Ars once said: "You think it makes no sense to be absolved today, because you know that tomorrow you will commit the same sins over again. Yet," he continues, "God instantly forgets tomorrow’s sins in order to give you his grace today." Even when we have to struggle continually with the same failings, it is important to resist the coarsening of our souls and the indifference which would simply accept that this is the way we are. It is important to keep pressing forward, without scrupulosity, in the grateful awareness that God forgives us ever anew – yet also without the indifference that might lead us to abandon altogether the struggle for holiness and self-improvement. Moreover, by letting myself be forgiven, I learn to forgive others. In recognizing my own weakness, I grow more tolerant and understanding of the failings of my neighbour.

4. I urge you to retain an appreciation for popular piety, which is different in every culture yet always remains very similar, for the human heart is ultimately one and the same. Certainly, popular piety tends towards the irrational, and can at times be somewhat superficial. Yet it would be quite wrong to dismiss it. Through that piety, the faith has entered human hearts and become part of the common patrimony of sentiments and customs, shaping the life and emotions of the community. Popular piety is thus one of the Church’s great treasures. The faith has taken on flesh and blood. Certainly popular piety always needs to be purified and refocused, yet it is worthy of our love and it truly makes us into the "People of God".

5. Above all, your time in the seminary is also a time of study. The Christian faith has an essentially rational and intellectual dimension. Were it to lack that dimension, it would not be itself. Paul speaks of a "standard of teaching" to which we were entrusted in Baptism (Rom 6:17). All of you know the words of Saint Peter which the medieval theologians saw as the justification for a rational and scientific theology: "Always be ready to make your defence to anyone who demands from you an ‘accounting’ (logos) for the hope that is in you" (1 Pet 3:15). Learning how to make such a defence is one of the primary responsibilities of your years in the seminary. I can only plead with you: Be committed to your studies! Take advantage of your years of study! You will not regret it. Certainly, the subjects which you are studying can often seem far removed from the practice of the Christian life and the pastoral ministry. Yet it is completely mistaken to start questioning their practical value by asking: Will this be helpful to me in the future? Will it be practically or pastorally useful? The point is not simply to learn evidently useful things, but to understand and appreciate the internal structure of the faith as a whole, so that it can become a response to people’s questions, which on the surface change from one generation to another yet ultimately remain the same. For this reason it is important to move beyond the changing questions of the moment in order to grasp the real questions, and so to understand how the answers are real answers. It is important to have a thorough knowledge of sacred Scripture as a whole, in its unity as the Old and the New Testaments: the shaping of texts, their literary characteristics, the process by which they came to form the canon of sacred books, their dynamic inner unity, a unity which may not be immediately apparent but which in fact gives the individual texts their full meaning. It is important to be familiar with the Fathers and the great Councils in which the Church appropriated, through faith-filled reflection, the essential statements of Scripture. I could easily go on. What we call dogmatic theology is the understanding of the individual contents of the faith in their unity, indeed, in their ultimate simplicity: each single element is, in the end, only an unfolding of our faith in the one God who has revealed himself to us and continues to do so. I do not need to point out the importance of knowing the essential issues of moral theology and Catholic social teaching. The importance nowadays of ecumenical theology, and of a knowledge of the different Christian communities, is obvious; as is the need for a basic introduction to the great religions, to say nothing of philosophy: the understanding of that human process of questioning and searching to which faith seeks to respond. But you should also learn to understand and – dare I say it – to love canon law, appreciating how necessary it is and valuing its practical applications: a society without law would be a society without rights. Law is the condition of love. I will not go on with this list, but I simply say once more: love the study of theology and carry it out in the clear realization that theology is anchored in the living community of the Church, which, with her authority, is not the antithesis of theological science but its presupposition. Cut off from the believing Church, theology would cease to be itself and instead it would become a medley of different disciplines lacking inner unity.

6. Your years in the seminary should also be a time of growth towards human maturity. It is important for the priest, who is called to accompany others through the journey of life up to the threshold of death, to have the right balance of heart and mind, reason and feeling, body and soul, and to be humanly integrated. To the theological virtues the Christian tradition has always joined the cardinal virtues derived from human experience and philosophy, and, more generally, from the sound ethical tradition of humanity. Paul makes this point this very clearly to the Philippians: "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (4:8). This also involves the integration of sexuality into the whole personality. Sexuality is a gift of the Creator yet it is also a task which relates to a person’s growth towards human maturity. When it is not integrated within the person, sexuality becomes banal and destructive. Today we can see many examples of this in our society. Recently we have seen with great dismay that some priests disfigured their ministry by sexually abusing children and young people. Instead of guiding people to greater human maturity and setting them an example, their abusive behaviour caused great damage for which we feel profound shame and regret. As a result of all this, many people, perhaps even some of you, might ask whether it is good to become a priest; whether the choice of celibacy makes any sense as a truly human way of life. Yet even the most reprehensible abuse cannot discredit the priestly mission, which remains great and pure. Thank God, all of us know exemplary priests, men shaped by their faith, who bear witness that one can attain to an authentic, pure and mature humanity in this state and specifically in the life of celibacy. Admittedly, what has happened should make us all the more watchful and attentive, precisely in order to examine ourselves earnestly, before God, as we make our way towards priesthood, so as to understand whether this is his will for me. It is the responsibility of your confessor and your superiors to accompany you and help you along this path of discernment. It is an essential part of your journey to practise the fundamental human virtues, with your gaze fixed on the God who has revealed himself in Christ, and to let yourselves be purified by him ever anew.

7. The origins of a priestly vocation are nowadays more varied and disparate than in the past. Today the decision to become a priest often takes shape after one has already entered upon a secular profession. Often it grows within the Communities, particularly within the Movements, which favour a communal encounter with Christ and his Church, spiritual experiences and joy in the service of the faith. It also matures in very personal encounters with the nobility and the wretchedness of human existence. As a result, candidates for the priesthood often live on very different spiritual continents. It can be difficult to recognize the common elements of one’s future mandate and its spiritual path. For this very reason, the seminary is important as a community which advances above and beyond differences of spirituality. The Movements are a magnificent thing. You know how much I esteem them and love them as a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. Yet they must be evaluated by their openness to what is truly Catholic, to the life of the whole Church of Christ, which for all her variety still remains one. The seminary is a time when you learn with one another and from one another. In community life, which can at times be difficult, you should learn generosity and tolerance, not only bearing with, but also enriching one another, so that each of you will be able to contribute his own gifts to the whole, even as all serve the same Church, the same Lord. This school of tolerance, indeed, of mutual acceptance and mutual understanding in the unity of Christ’s Body, is an important part of your years in the seminary.

Dear seminarians, with these few lines I have wanted to let you know how often I think of you, especially in these difficult times, and how close I am to you in prayer. Please pray for me, that I may exercise my ministry well, as long as the Lord may wish. I entrust your journey of preparation for priesthood to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, whose home was a school of goodness and of grace. May Almighty God bless you all, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2010, the Feast of Saint Luke the Evangelist.

Yours devotedly in the Lord,



On the 6 Newly Recognized Saints
"Living Image of the Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square. The Holy Father had just finished celebrating a Mass in which six saints were canonized.

* * *

At the end of this solemn celebration, I would like to renew my cordial greeting to all pilgrims who have come to honor the new saints.

[In French:]

I warmly greet the French-speaking pilgrims, among them the official delegation from Canada, and all the Canadians here for the canonization of Brother André Bessette. Taking up his message, I encourage you to follow his footsteps and freely welcome out of love the will of God in your lives. May you as well, like him, overflow with charity for your brothers and sisters who suffer affliction. May God bless you all, as well as your families. Enjoy your stay in Rome!

[In English:]

I warmly greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those who have come in such great numbers for today’s canonization. May these new saints accompany you with their prayers and inspire you by the example of their holy lives. I greet especially the official Delegations from Canada and Australia who have travelled to Rome in honour of Saint André Bessette and Saint Mary MacKillop. May God bless and keep all of you, as well as your families and loved ones at home.

[In German:]

I warmly welcome the German-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Saints are the living image of the love of God. Thus, today we find joy in these new saints, Stanislaw Kazimierczyk Soltys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano. They are for us models to follow and advocates for our lives as Christians. May the Lord bless you all.

[In Spanish:]

I warmly greet the Spanish-language pilgrims who have participated in this morning's solemn canonization ceremony, especially the lord cardinals and bishops, as well as the official delegation from Spain. I entrust the Daughters of Jesus to the intercession of St. Cándida, their founder. I also ask God that the new saints will be a model for the Christian people, particularly youth, so that there will be an ever greater number who welcome the call of the Lord and completely entrust their lives to proclaim the greatness of his love.

[In Polish:]

I warmly greet all the Poles who have come for the canonization. In a special way I offer my welcome to the representatives of the episcopate and to the president of the Polish Republic. I rejoice together with you over the glory of the sanctity of your fellow countryman Stanis?aw Kaz'mierczyk. Let us learn from him the spirit of prayer, of contemplation and of sacrifice for our neighbor. May he sustain before God the Church in Poland, you who are present here, your loved ones and your homeland. I bless you from my heart.

[Again in Italian:]

I greet all the Italian pilgrims who celebrate St. Battista Camilla Varano and St. Giulia Salzano as well as the official delegation that is present for this happy circumstance. In particular my thought goes out to the spiritual daughters of the new saints and to the faithful who have come from the Marche and the Campania.

Thinking of Italy, I would like to recall that today in Reggio Calabria, the 46th annual Social Week of Italian Catholics, which addressed an “agenda of hope” for the country’s future, is concluding. I address a cordial greeting to the participants in the conference, who are connected to us by a video link at the moment, and I hope that the pursuit of the common good will always constitute the sure guiding principle for the efforts of Catholics involved in social and political matters.

Now let us turn in prayer to Mary Most Holy, who God placed at the center of the great assembly of saints. We entrust to her [and all the other saints] the entire Church, so that, enlightened by her example and sustained by their intercession, the faithful will go forward with an ever new spirit toward the homeland of heaven.


Papal Homily at Canonization Mass
"The Celebration of Sanctity Is Renewed in St. Peter’s Square Today"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today in St. Peter's at the canonization Mass of six newly recognized saints.

The homily was given in various languages.

Those canonized were: Stanislaw Soltys of Poland, André Bessette of Canada, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola of Spain, Mary of the Cross MacKillop of Australia, Giulia Salzano of Italy and Camilla Battista da Varano of Italy.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters! The celebration of sanctity is renewed in St. Peter’s Square today. With joy I extend my cordial welcome to you who have come, also from a great distance, to take part in this event. A particular greeting to the cardinals, bishops and superior generals of the institutes founded by the new saints, and to the official delegations and all the civil authorities. Let us try to grasp together what the Lord tells us in the readings that were just proclaimed. This Sunday’s liturgy offers us a fundamental teaching: the necessity to pray always, without tiring. Sometimes we grow tired of prayer, we have the impression that prayer is not very useful for life, that it is not very effective. Thus, we are tempted to dedicate ourselves to activity, to employ every human method to accomplish our goals, and we do not approach God. But Jesus says that we must pray always, and he does this through a specific parable (cf. Luke 18:1-8).

This parable speaks of a judge who does not fear God and does not respect anyone, a judge who does not have a positive attitude, but pursues only his own interests. He does not fear God’s judgment and does not respect his neighbor. The other figure is a widow, a person in a situation of weakness. In the Bible, the widows and the orphans are the most needy classes because they are defenseless and without means. The widow goes to the judge and asks him for justice. Her possibilities of being heard are almost non-existent because the judge despises her and she can put no pressure on him. She cannot even appeal to religious principles because the judge does not fear God. So, this widow seems to be deprived of all recourse. But she insists, she does not tire in asking, she harasses the judge, and thus in the end succeeds in obtaining what she wants from the judge. At this point Jesus reflects, using an “a fortiori” argument: if a dishonest judge in the end allows himself to be convinced by the entreaties of a widow, how much more will God, who is good, listen to those who pray. God in fact is generosity in person, he is merciful, and so he is always disposed to listen to prayers. For this reason, we must not give up hope, but always insist in prayer.

The conclusion of the Gospel passage speaks of faith: “The Son of Man, when he comes, will he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). It is a question that intends to awaken a growth of faith in us. It is clear, in fact, that prayer must be the expression of faith, otherwise it is not true prayer. If one does not believe in the goodness of God, he cannot pray in a truly adequate way. Faith is essential as the basis of the attitude of prayer. The six new saints proposed today for veneration by the universal Church made faith such a basis: Stanislaw Soltys, André Bessette, Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, Mary of the Cross MacKillop, Giulia Salzano and Battista Camilla Varano.

[In Polish:]

St. Stanislaw Kazimierczyk, a religious of the 15th century, can be an example and an intercessor for us too. His whole life was bound to the Eucharist. First of all in the church of Corpus Domini is Kazimierz, in modern-day Krakow, where with his mother and father, he learned faith and piety; where he took religious vows with the Canons Regular; where he worked as a priest, educator, attentive to the care of the needy. In a particular way, however, he was bound to the Eucharist by the ardent love for Christ present under the species of bread and of wine; living the mystery of death and resurrection, which takes place in a bloodless way in Holy Mass; through the practice of love of neighbor, of which Communion is a source and sign.

[In French:]

Brother André Bessette, originally from Quebec in Canada and a religious of the Congregation of the Holy Cross, experienced suffering and poverty starting very young. This led him to pay recourse to God in prayer and an intense interior life. As porter of the College of Notre Dame in Montreal, he showed limitless charity and made every effort to relieve the sufferings of those who went to entrust themselves to him.

Though a man of little education, he nevertheless understood where to find the essential of his faith. For him, to believe meant to freely submit himself out of love to the divine will. Abiding everything in the mystery of Jesus, he lived the beatitude of the pure hearts, of personal uprightness. This simplicity has enabled many to see God.

He was responsible for building the Oratory of St. Joseph in Mont Royal, where he would stay as a faithful guardian until his death in 1937.

"Do not try to have your struggles taken away," he said, "rather ask for the grace to carry them well." For him, everything spoke of God and his presence. May we, following him, seek God with simplicity to find him always present in the midst of our lives!

May the example of Brother André always inspire Canadian Christian life!

[In Spanish:]

When the Son of Man comes to bring justice to the chosen ones, will he find faith on earth? (cf. Luke 18:18). Today with consolation and strength contemplating figures such as Mother Cándida María de Jesús Cipitria y Barriola, we can say that yes [he will find faith].

This woman of simple origins -- with a heart upon which God put his seal and whom he would take to himself very quickly -- under the guidance of her Jesuit spiritual directors made the firm resolution to live "only for God." It was a decision maintained with firmness, as she herself would recall when she was about to die. She lived for God and for what he most wanted: to reach everyone, to bring to everyone the hope that does not waver, especially to those who most need it.

"Where there is not a place for the poor, there is no place for me," said the new saint, who, with few resources, inspired other sisters to follow Jesus and dedicate themselves to education and the promotion of the woman. Thus was born the Daughters of Jesus, who today have in their founder a very exalted model to imitate, and a fascinating mission to pursue in the many nations where the spirit and the apostolic desires of Mother Cándida have arrived.

[In English:]

"Remember who your teachers were -- from these you can learn the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus." For many years countless young people throughout Australia have been blessed with teachers who were inspired by the courageous and saintly example of zeal, perseverance and prayer of Mother Mary McKillop. She dedicated herself as a young woman to the education of the poor in the difficult and demanding terrain of rural Australia, inspiring other women to join her in the first women’s community of religious sisters of that country. She attended to the needs of each young person entrusted to her, without regard for station or wealth, providing both intellectual and spiritual formation. Despite many challenges, her prayers to Saint Joseph and her unflagging devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, to whom she dedicated her new congregation, gave this holy woman the graces needed to remain faithful to God and to the Church. Through her intercession, may her followers today continue to serve God and the Church with faith and humility!

[Again in Italian:]

In the second half of the 19th century in Campania, in southern Italy, the Lord called a young elementary school teacher, Giulia Salzano, and made her an apostle of Christian education, founder of the Congregation of the Sisters Catechists of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Mother Giulia understood well the importance of catechesis in the Church, and, uniting pedagogical formation with spiritual fervor, she dedicated herself to it with generosity and intelligence, contributing to the formation of persons of every age and social condition. She repeated to her sisters that she wanted to teach the catechism to the very last hour of her life, demonstrating with her whole being that if “God created us to know him, love him and serve him in this life,” nothing must come before this task. May the example and intercession of St. Giulia Salzano sustain the Church in her perennial task of announcing Christ and form authentic Christian consciences.

St. Battista Camilla Varano, a nun of the Poor Clares in the 15th century, bore witness to the Gospel meaning of life in a radical way, especially through her perseverance in prayer. She entered the monastery of Urbino at 23 and was a protagonist in the vast reform movement of Franciscan women’s spirituality, which had as its aim the complete recovery of the charism of St. Clare of Assisi. She promoted new monastic foundations at Camerino, where she was many times elected abbess, and at Fermo and San Severino.

The life of St. Battista, completely immersed in the depths of the divine, was a constant ascent in the life of perfection, with a heroic love of God and neighbor. It was marked by great sufferings and mystical consolations; she had decided in fact, as she herself wrote, to "enter into the most Sacred Heart of Jesus and to drown in the ocean of his most bitter sufferings."

In a time in which the Church was suffering from a lack of discipline, she set out decisively on the road of penance and prayer, animated by the ardent desire for the renewal of the mystical body of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to the Lord for the gift of holiness, which shines in the Church and today illumines the faces of these brothers and sisters of ours. Jesus also invites each of us to follow him to inherit eternal life. Let us be drawn by the luminous examples, let us be guided by their teachings, so that our existence be a canticle of praise to God.

May the Virgin Mary and the intercession of the six new saints, whom we venerate today with joy, obtain this grace for us. Amen.


Pontiff's Message for World Food Day
"Everyone Needs to Make a Commitment to ... the Agricultural Sector"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2010 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), on the oaccasion of World Food Day, which will be observed Saturday. The letter was published today by the Vatican press office.

* * *

1. The annual celebration of World Food Day is an occasion to draw up a balance-sheet of all that has been achieved through the commitment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to guarantee daily food for millions of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. It also provides a suitable occasion to note the difficulties that are encountered when the necessary attitudes of solidarity are lacking.

Too often, attention is diverted from the needs of populations, insufficient emphasis is placed on work in the fields, and the goods of the earth are not given adequate protection. As a result, economic imbalance is produced, and the inalienable rights and dignity of every human person are ignored.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day, United against Hunger, is a timely reminder that everyone needs to make a commitment to give the agricultural sector its proper importance. Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food.

The efforts to achieve this goal will surely help to build up the unity of the human family throughout the world. Concrete initiatives are needed, informed by charity, and inspired by truth – initiatives that are capable of overcoming natural obstacles linked to the cycles of the seasons or to environmental conditions, as well as man-made obstacles. Charity, practised in the light of truth, can bring an end to divisions and conflicts so as to allow the goods of the earth to pass between peoples in a lively and continuous exchange.

An important step forward was the international community’s recent decision to protect the right to water which, as FAO has always maintained, is essential to human nutrition, to rural activities and to the conservation of nature. Indeed, as my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II observed in his Message for the 2002 World Food Day, many different religions and cultures recognize a symbolic value in water, from which there "springs an invitation to be fully aware of the importance of this precious commodity, and consequently to revise present patterns of behaviour in order to guarantee, today and in the future, that all people shall have access to the water indispensable for their needs, and that productive activities, and agriculture in particular, shall enjoy adequate levels of this priceless resource" (Message for the 2002 World Food Day, 13 October 2002).

2. If the international community is to be truly "united" against hunger, then poverty must be overcome through authentic human development, based on the idea of the person as a unity of body, soul and spirit. Today, though, there is a tendency to limit the vision of development to one that satisfies the material needs of the person, especially through access to technology; yet authentic development is not simply a function of what a person "has", it must also embrace higher values of fraternity, solidarity and the common good.

Amid the pressures of globalization, under the influence of interests that often remain fragmented, it is wise to propose a model of development built on fraternity: if it is inspired by solidarity and directed towards the common good, it will be able to provide correctives to the current global crisis. In order to sustain levels of food security in the short term, adequate funding must be provided so as to make it possible for agriculture to reactivate production cycles, despite the deterioration of climatic and environmental conditions. These conditions, it must be said, have a markedly negative impact on rural populations, crop systems and working patterns, especially in countries that are already afflicted with food shortages. Developed countries have to be aware that the world’s growing needs require consistent levels of aid from them. They cannot simply remain closed towards others: such an attitude would not help to resolve the crisis.

In this context, FAO has the essential task of examining the issue of world hunger at the institutional level and proposing particular initiatives that involve its member States in responding to the growing demand for food. Indeed, the nations of the world are called to give and to receive in proportion to their effective needs, by reason of that "pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and those that are highly industrialized" (Caritas in Veritate, 49).

3. The recent worthy campaign "1 Billion Hungry", by which FAO seeks to raise awareness of the urgency of the fight against hunger, has highlighted the need for an adequate response both from individual countries and from the international community, even when the response is limited to assistance or emergency aid. This is why a reform of international institutions according to the principle of subsidiarity is essential, since "institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone" (ibid., 11).

In order to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, obstacles of self-interest must be overcome so as to make room for a fruitful gratuitousness, manifested in international cooperation as an expression of genuine fraternity. This does not obviate the need for justice, though, and it is important that existing rules be respected and implemented, in addition to whatever plans for intervention and programmes of action may prove necessary. Individuals, peoples and countries must be allowed to shape their own development, taking advantage of external assistance in accordance with priorities and concepts rooted in their traditional techniques, in their culture, in their religious patrimony and in the wisdom passed on from generation to generation within the family.

Invoking the blessing of the Almighty upon the activities of FAO, I wish to assure you, Mr Director General, that the Church is always ready to work for the defeat of hunger. Indeed, she is constantly at work, through her own structures, to alleviate the poverty and deprivation afflicting large parts of the world’s population, and she is fully conscious that her own engagement in this field forms part of a common international effort to promote unity and peace among the community of peoples.

From the Vatican, 15 October 2010



Benedict XVI's Message to Italy's Social Week
"Pursue Together the Good of the Country and of the Whole Human Family"

REGGIO CALABRIA, Italy, OCT. 14, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, for the opening day of the 46th Italian Catholic Social Week, which is being held through Sunday in Reggio Calabria.

The message was read today by Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, the apostolic nuncio to Italy. The theme of the meeting is: “Catholics in Italy today. An Agenda of Hope for the Future of the Country.”

* * *

To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco,
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference

My first thought, in addressing you and the those gathered in Reggio Calabria on the occasion of the celebration of the 46th Social Week of Italian Catholics, is of profound gratitude for the contribution of reflection and encounter that, in the name of the Church in Italy, you wish to offer the country.

Such a contribution is rendered more precious by the ample preparatory course that in the last two years has involved dioceses, ecclesial groups and academic centers: the initiatives carried out in view of this event evidence the widespread willingness within Christian communities to recognize themselves "Catholics in Italy today," cultivating the objective of "an agenda of hope for the future of the country," as the theme states of the present Social Week.

All this takes on largely significant importance in the socio-economic juncture that we are experiencing. At the national level, the most obvious consequence of the recent global financial crisis lies in the spread of unemployment and of precariousness, which often impedes young people -- especially in the areas of the "Mezzogiorno" [southern Italy] -- of living in their own territory, as protagonists of development. For everyone, therefore, such difficulties constitute an obstacle on the path to realize their own ideals of life, favoring the temptation of withdrawal or disorientation. Mistrust is easily transformed into resignation, diffidence, disaffection and disengagement, to the detriment of the legitimate investment in the future.

Well looked at, the problem is not only economic, but above all cultural, and finds confirmation, in particular, in the demographic crisis, in the difficulty to appreciate fully the role of women, in the effort of so many adults in conceiving and placing themselves as educators. All the more reason why there is a need to recognize and support forcefully and actively the irreplaceable social function of the family, heart of affective and relational life, as well as the place that assures more and better than all help, care, solidarity, capacity to transmit the patrimony of values to the new generations. Because of this it is necessary that all the institutional and social subjects commit themselves to ensure that the family has effective measures of support, equipping it with adequate resources and allowing for a just conciliation with the times of work.

Catholics are not lacking in awareness of the fact that such expectations must be placed today within the complex and delicate transformations that concern the whole of humanity. As I had the opportunity to highlight in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," "The risk for our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds " (No. 9). This calls for "a clear vision of all economic, social, cultural and spiritual aspects" (ibid., No. 31) of development.

To address the present problems, protecting at the same time human life from conception to its natural end, defending the dignity of the person, safeguarding the environment and promoting peace, is not an easy task, but much less so is it impossible, if one is firm in trusting the capacity of man, if one stretches the concept of reason and of its use and each one assumes his own responsibilities. In fact, it would be illusory to delegate the search for solutions strictly to the public authorities: political subjects, the world of business, labor organizations, social operators and all citizens, as individuals and in an associated way, are called to develop a strong capacity to analyze, to be farsighted and to participate.

To move according to a perspective of responsibility entails the willingness to come out of the exclusive search for one's own interests, to pursue together the good of the country and of the whole human family. When the Church recalls the horizon of the common good -- category bearing her social doctrine -- she intends, in fact, to refer to the "good of all of us," which "It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it" (ibid., No. 7). In other words, the common good is that which builds and describes the city of men, the fundamental criterion of social and political life, the end of human action and of progress; it is a "requirement of justice and charity" (ibid.), promotion of respect of the rights of individuals and peoples, as well as of relations characterized by the logic of gift. This finds in the values of Christianity "not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human development" (ibid., No. 4).

For this reason, I renew the appeal so that a new generation of Catholics will arise, persons interiorly renewed that commit themselves to political activity without inferiority complexes. Such a presence, certainly, is not improvised; it remains, rather, the objective to which a path should tend of intellectual and moral formation that, beginning from the great truths about God, man and the world, offers criteria of judgment and ethical principles to interpret the good of each and all. For the Church in Italy, which opportunely assumed the educational challenge as a priority in the present decade, it is a question of devoting itself to the formation of mature Christian consciences, which are alien to egoism, to greed for goods and to the desire for a career and, instead, are consistent with the professed faith, acquainted with the cultural and social dynamics of this time and capable of assuming public responsibility with professional competence and a spirit of service. The socio-political endeavor, with the spiritual resources and the attitudes it requires, remains a lofty vocation, to which the Church invites to respond with humility and determination.

The Social Week you are celebrating intends to propose "an agenda of hope for the future of the country." Undoubtedly, it is about an innovative method of work, which assumes as its starting point actual experiences, to recognize and appreciate the cultural, spiritual and moral potentialities inscribed in our time, though very complex. One area for further reflection is the migratory phenomenon and, in particular, the search for strategies and rules that favor the inclusion of the new presences. It is significant that, exactly 50 years ago and in the same city, a Social Week was dedicated entirely to the topic of migrations, especially to those that now are taking place inside the country. In our days, the phenomenon has assumed imposing proportions: having surmounted the emergency phase, in which the Church spent herself generously for the first reception, it is necessary to pass to a second phase, which identifies, in full respect of the law, the terms of integration.

Believers, as well as all men of good will, are requested to do everything possible to reveal the situations of injustice, misery and conflict that oblige so many men to undertake the path of exodus, promoting at the same time the conditions of insertion in our lands of all those who intend, with their work and the patrimony of their traditions, to contribute to the building of a better society than the one they left. In recognizing the role of immigrants, we feel called to present the Gospel to them, proclamation of salvation and of full life for every man and woman.

However, the hope with which you intend to build the future of the country is not resolved in the pure legitimate aspiration of a better future. Born, rather, from the conviction that history is guided by Divine Providence and tends to a dawn that transcends the horizons of human action. This "reliable hope" has the face of Christ: in the Word of God made man each one finds the courage to witness and abnegation in service. Not lacking certainly, is the wonderful trail of light that distinguishes the experience of faith of the Italian people, in the glorious track of so many men and women saints -- priests, consecrated persons and laymen -- who were consumed for the good of brethren and committed themselves in the social field to promote more just and equitable conditions for all, in the first place for the poor.

In this perspective, while I wish you profitable days of work and encounter, I encourage you to feel the loftiness of the challenge placed before you: the Catholic Church has a legacy of values that are not things of the past, but constitute a very living and timely reality, capable of offering a creative guideline for the future of a nation.

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of National Unity, from Reggio Calabria might emerge a common feeling, fruit of a credible interpretation of the situation of the country; a purposeful wisdom, which is the result of a cultural and ethical discernment, constitutive condition of political and economic choices. From this depends the re-launching of civil dynamism, for the future that will be -- for all -- the sign of the common good.

To the participants in the 46th Social Week of Italian Catholics I wish to assure my remembrance in prayer, which I accompany with a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, October 12, 2010

Benedict XVI



On Medieval Mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno
"Jesus Lives in the Heart of Every Believer and Desires to Take Total Possession of It"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 13, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today I would like to speak to you about Blessed Angela of Foligno, a great medieval mystic who lived in the 13th century. Usually, one is fascinated by the heights of the experience of union with God that she attained, but perhaps too little consideration is given to the first steps, her conversion, and the long path that led her from the beginning -- the "great fear of hell" -- to the goal: total union with the Trinity.

The first part of Angela's life is certainly not that of a fervent disciple of the Lord. Born around 1248 in a well-off family, she remained orphaned of her father and was educated by her mother in a rather superficial way. She was soon introduced to the worldly environments of the city of Foligno, where she met a man, whom she married at 20 and with whom she had children. Her life was carefree, so much so that she looked down on the so-called "penitents" -- very widespread at that time -- those, namely, who to follow Christ would sell their goods and live a life of prayer, fasting, the service of the Church and charity.

Some events, such as the violent earthquake of 1279, a hurricane, the age-old war against Perugia, and their harsh consequences affected Angela's life, who became progressively aware of her sins, until she took a decisive step: She invoked St. Francis, who appeared to her in a vision, to ask him for advice in view of undertaking a good general Confession. In 1285, Angela went to confession to a friar in San Feliciano. Three years later, her path of conversion took another turn: the dissolution of her familial ties. Within a few months, the death of her mother was followed by the deaths of her husband and all her children. She then sold all her goods, and in 1291, joined the Third Order of St. Francis. She died at Foligno on Jan. 4, 1309.

"Il Libro della beata Angela da Foligno" (The Book of Blessed Angela of Foligno), which gathers the documentation on our Blessed, recounts this conversion; it indicates the necessary means: penance, humility and tribulations; and narrates in passages, the succession of experiences of Angela, begun in 1285. Recalling them, after having lived them, she sought to recount them through her friar confessor, who transcribed them faithfully, trying afterward to systematize them in stages, which he called "steps or changes," but without succeeding in ordering them fully (cf. "Il Libro della beata Angela da Foligno," Cinisello Balsamo, 1990, p. 51). This is because the experience of union of Blessed Angela was a total involvement of the spiritual and corporal senses, and of what she "understands" during her ecstasies remained, so to speak, only a "shadow" in her mind. "I really heard these words," she confesses after a mystical rapture, "but what I saw and understood, and that he [God] showed me, in no way do I know or am I able to say, though I will willingly reveal what I understood with the words that I heard, but it was an absolutely ineffable abyss."

Angela of Foligno presents her mystical "experience" without elaborating them with her mind, because they are divine illuminations that are communicated to her soul in an improvised and unexpected way. The friar confessor himself had difficulty in reporting such events, "also because of her great and admirable reserve regarding the divine gifts" (ibid., p. 194). To Angela's difficulty in expressing her mystical experience is added also the difficulty for her listeners to understand her. A situation that indicates clearly how the only and true Teacher, Jesus, lives in the heart of every believer and desires to take total possession of it. Thus in Angela, who wrote to one of her spiritual sons: "My son, if you saw my heart, you would be absolutely constrained to do everything that God wills, because my heart is that of God, and God's heart is mine." The words of St. Paul resound here: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20).

We will now consider only some "steps" of the rich spiritual path of our blessed. The first, in reality, is an introduction: "It was the knowledge of sin," as she specifies, "following which the soul has great fear of being damned; in this step she wept bitterly" ("Il Libro della beata Angela da Foligno," p. 39). This "fear" of hell responds to the type of faith that Angela had at the time of her "conversion"; a faith still poor in charity, namely, of love of God. Repentance, fear of hell, and penance opened up to Angela the prospect of the sorrowful "way of the cross" that, from the eighth to the 15th step, would then lead her on the "way of love." The friar confessor recounts: "The faithful one now said to me: I had this divine revelation: 'After the things that you have written, now write that whoever wants to preserve grace must not take the eyes of his soul off the Cross, whether in joy or in sadness, which I grant him and permit'" (Ibid., p. 143). However, in this phase Angela still "does not feel love"; she affirms: "The soul feels shame and bitterness and does not yet experience love, but sorrow" (Ibid., p. 39), and is dissatisfied.

Angela feels she must give God something in reparation for her sins, but understands slowly that she has nothing to give him, in fact, of her "being nothing" before him; she understands that it will not be her will that will give her love of God, because it can only give her "nothingness," "non-love." As she will say: only "true and pure love, which comes from God, is in the soul and makes one recognizes one's defects and divine goodness. [...] Such love bears the soul in Christ and she understands with certainty that no deceit can be verified or exercised. Together with this love nothing can be mixed that is of the world" (Ibid., p. 124-125). To open oneself only and totally to the love of God, which has its highest expression in Christ: "O my God," she prays, "make me worthy of knowing the most high mystery of your most holy incarnation for us. [...] O incomprehensible love! Above this love, that made my God become man to make me God, there is no greater love" (Ibid., p. 295). However, Angela's heart always bore the wound of sin; even after a well made confession, she found herself forgiven and still prostrated by sin, free and conditioned by the past, absolved but in need of penance. And even the thought of hell accompanied her because the more the soul progresses on the way of Christian perfection, all the more it will be convinced not only of being "unworthy" but of deserving hell.

Understand that, in her mystical journey, Angela understood profoundly the central reality: What would save her from her "unworthiness" and from "deserving hell" will not be her "union with God" and her possessing the "truth," but Jesus crucified, "his crucifixion for me," his love. In the eighth step, she says: "However I did not yet understand if my deliverance from sin and hell and conversion to penance was a greater good, or his crucifixion for me" (Ibid., p. 41). And the unstable balance between love and sorrow, perceived in all her difficult journey toward perfection. Precisely because of this she contemplated by preference the crucified Christ, because in this vision she saw realized the perfect balance: On the cross is the man-God, in a supreme act of suffering, which is a supreme act of love.

In the third Instruction the blessed insists on this contemplation and affirms: "The more perfectly and purely we see, the more perfectly and purely we love. [...] That is why the more we see the God and man Jesus Christ, the more we are transformed in him through love. [...] What I have said of love. [...] I say also of sorrow: The more the soul contemplates the ineffable sorrow of the God and man Jesus Christ, the more it sorrows and is transformed in sorrow" (Ibid., p. 190-191). To be immersed, to be transformed in love and in the sufferings of Christ crucified, to be identified with him. Angela's conversion, begun with that confession of 1285, came to maturity only when God's forgiveness appeared to her soul as the free gift of love of the Father, source of love: "There is no one who can give excuses," she affirms, "because each one can love God, ad He does not ask the soul other than that He wills it good, because He loves it and is its love" (ibid., p. 76).

In Angela's spiritual itinerary the passage from conversion to mystical experience, from what can be expressed to the inexpressible, happens through the crucifix. And the "suffering God-man," who becomes her "teacher of perfection." Hence, all her mystical experience tends to a perfect "likeness" with him, through ever more profound and radical purifications and transformations. In such a stupendous enterprise Angela puts her whole self, soul and body, without sparing herself penances and tribulations from the beginning to the end, desiring to die with all the pains suffered by the God-man crucified to be transformed totally in him. "O children of God," she recommended, "transform yourselves totally in the suffering God-man, who so loves you that he deigned to die for you the most ignominious and all together ineffably painful death and in the most painful and bitter way. This only for love of you, O man!" (ibid., p. 247).

This identification also means to live what Jesus lived: poverty, contempt, sorrow because, as she affirmed, "through temporal poverty the soul will find eternal riches; through contempt and shame it will obtain supreme honor and very great glory; through a little penance, made with pain and sorrow, it will possess with infinite sweetness and consolation of the Supreme God, God eternal" (Ibid., p. 184).

From conversion to mystical union with Christ crucified, to the inexpressible. A very lofty way, whose secret is constant prayer; "The more you pray," she affirms, "the more you will be illumined; the more you are illumined, the more profoundly and intensely you will see the Supreme Good, the supremely good Being; the more profoundly and intensely you see him, the more you will love him; the more you love him, the more he will delight you; and the more he delights you, the more you will understand him and become capable of understanding him. You will arrive successively to the fullness of light, because you will understand that you cannot understand" (Ibid., p. 184).

Dear brothers and sisters, the life of Blessed Angela began with a worldly existence, quite far from God. But then the encounter with the figure of St. Francis and, finally, the encounter with Christ Crucified awakened the soul by the presence of God, by the fact that only with God does life become true life, because it becomes, in the sorrow for sin, love and joy. And thus Blessed Angela speaks to us.

Today we are all in danger of living as if God did not exist: He seems too far away from today's life. But God has a thousand ways, for each one, of making himself present in the soul, of showing that he exists and that he knows and loves me. And Blessed Angela wants to make us attentive to these signs with which the Lord touches our soul, attentive to the presence of God, to thus learn the way with God and to God, in communion with Christ crucified. Let us pray to the Lord that he make us attentive to the signs of his presence, that he teach us to really live. Thank you.

[The Holy Father then greeted people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today recalls the medieval mystic Blessed Angela of Foligno, born in 1248. A carefree wife and mother, Angela at one time looked down on the mendicants and observers of strict poverty in religious life. However, tragic events and suffering in her personal life gave her cause to become aware of her own sins, leading her to a decisive moment of conversion in the year 1285. Invoking the aid of Saint Francis, who appeared to her in a vision, she made her confession at San Feliciano. Upon the death of her mother, husband and children, she sold all she had and joined the Third Order of Saint Francis. She died in 1309.

The Book of Blessed Angela of Foligno recounts her conversion, and indicates for us the necessary means of our own turning to the Lord: penance, humility and tribulations. This same book describes the numerous mystical experiences of Blessed Angela, ecstasies which she had great difficulty putting into words because of the intensity of her spiritual union with God. Her fear of sin and punishment was overcome by her growth in love for God, drawing her along the "way of the Cross" to "the way of love." My dear brothers and sisters, may we share her prayer to the Father: "My God, make me worthy to know the most high Mystery, which is your strong and ineffable love ... the greatest love possible!"

I am pleased to welcome the delegates of the International Association of Financial Executives Institute. I also extend greetings to all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors, especially those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and the United States . May God bless you all!

Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Papal Decree Establishing New Council
"Ubicumque et Semper"

VATICAN CITY, ROME, OCT. 12, 2010 ( Here is an unofficial translation of "Ubicumque et Semper" (Everywhere and Always), which Benedict XVI has issued "motu proprio."

The Sept. 21 document announces the creation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization. It was presented today by the Vatican.

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Apostolic letter in the form of motu proprio

Ubicumque et Semper

of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI

With which is instituted the Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization

The Church has the duty to proclaim always and everywhere the Gospel of Jesus Christ. He, the first and supreme evangelizer, on the day of his Ascension to the Father sent the Apostles: "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:19-20). Faithful to this mandate the Church, people that God acquired to proclaim his wonderful deeds (cf. 1 Peter 2:9), since the day of Pentecost, in which it received as gift the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:14), has never tired of making known to the whole world the beauty of the Gospel, proclaiming Jesus Christ, true God and true man, the same "yesterday, today and for ever" (Acts 13:8), who with his Death and Resurrection brought about salvation, bringing to fulfillment the ancient promise. Hence, the evangelizing mission, continuation of the work desired by the Lord Jesus, is for the Church necessary and irreplaceable, expression of her very nature.

This mission has taken on in history ever new forms and modalities according to the times, the situations and the historical moments. In our time, one of its singular features has been to be confronted with the phenomenon of estrangement from the faith, which has manifested itself progressively in societies and cultures that for centuries seemed permeated by the Gospel. The social transformations we have witnessed in the last decades have complex causes, which sink their roots far in time and that have modified profoundly the perception of our world. Think of the gigantic progress of science and technology, of the expansion of the possibilities of life and the areas of individual liberty, of the profound changes in the economic field, of the process of ethnic and cultural mixes caused by massive migratory phenomena, of the growing interdependence among peoples. All this has not happened without consequences also for the religious dimension of man's life. And if on one hand humanity has known the undeniable benefits of these transformations and the Church has received further stimulation to give reason for the hope that is in her (cf. 1 Peter 3:15), verified on the other hand is a worrying loss of the sense of the sacred, even calling into question those foundations that seem indisputable, such as faith in a creator and provident God, the revelation of Jesus Christ only Savior, and the common understanding of the fundamental experiences of man, such as birth, death, living in a family, and reference to a natural moral law.

Although all this has been greeted by some as a liberation, perceived very quickly is the interior desert that is born where man, wishing to be the only architect of his nature and of his destiny, finds himself deprived of what constitutes the foundation of all things.

Already the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council assumed among its central topics the question of the relationship between the Church and this contemporary world. Following the trail of conciliar teaching, my Predecessors reflected further on the need to find adequate ways to enable our contemporaries to continue to hear the living and eternal Word of the Lord.

With a vision of the future, the Servant of God Paul VI observed that the commitment of evangelization, "as a result of the frequent situations of dechristianization in our day, [...] also proves equally necessary for innumerable people who have been baptized but who live quite outside Christian life, for simple people who have a certain faith but an imperfect knowledge of the foundations of that faith, for intellectuals who feel the need to know Jesus Christ in a light different from the instruction they received as children, and for many others" (apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi," No. 52). And with his thought directed to those estranged from the faith, he added that the evangelizing action of the Church "must constantly seek the proper means and language for presenting, or representing, to them God's revelation and faith in Jesus Christ" (ibid., No. 56).

The Venerable Servant of God John Paul II made this difficult task one of the cardinal points of his vast magisterium, synthesizing in the concept "new evangelization" -- which he systematically analyzed in numerous interventions -- the task that awaits the Church today, in particular in the areas of ancient Christianization. A task that, although it refers directly to its way of relating to the exterior, presupposes, however first of all a constant interior renewal, a continuous passing, so to speak, from evangelized to evangelizing. Suffice it to recall what was affirmed in the postsynodal exhortation "Christifideles Laici": "Whole countries and nations where religion and the Christian life were formerly flourishing and capable of fostering a viable and working community of faith, are now put to a hard test, and in some cases, are even undergoing a radical transformation, as a result of a constant spreading of an indifference to religion, of secularism and atheism. This particularly concerns countries and nations of the so-called First World, in which economic well-being and consumerism, even if coexistent with a tragic situation of poverty and misery, inspires and sustains a life lived 'as if God did not exist'. This indifference to religion and the practice of religion devoid of true meaning in the face of life's very serious problems, are not less worrying and upsetting when compared with declared atheism. Sometimes the Christian faith as well, while maintaining some of the externals of its tradition and rituals, tends to be separated from those moments of human existence which have the most significance, such as, birth, suffering and death. [...]

"On the other hand, in other regions or nations many vital traditions of piety and popular forms of Christian religion are still conserved; but today this moral and spiritual patrimony runs the risk of being dispersed under the impact of a multiplicity of processes, including secularization and the spread of sects. Only a re-evangelization can assure the growth of a clear and deep faith, and serve to make these traditions a force for authentic freedom.

"Without doubt a mending of the Christian fabric of society is urgently needed in all parts of the world. But for this to come about what is needed is to first remake the Christian fabric of the ecclesial community itself present in these countries and nations" (No. 34).

Assuming, therefore, the concern of my venerable Predecessors, I consider it opportune to offer adequate answers so that the whole Church, allowing herself to be regenerated by the power of the Holy Spirit, present herself to the contemporary world with a missionary thrust capable of promoting a new evangelization. The latter makes reference above all to the Churches of ancient foundation, which however, live very different realities, to which different needs correspond, which await different impulses of evangelization: in some territories, in fact, despite the advance of the phenomenon of secularization, Christian practice still manifests a healthy vitality and a profound rooting in the soul of entire populations; noted in other regions, instead, is a distancing of the whole society from the faith, with a weaker ecclesial fabric, though not deprived of elements of liveliness that the Spirit does not fail to arouse; we also know, unfortunately, of areas that seem completely de-Christianized, in which the light of the faith is entrusted to the witness of small communities: these lands, which need a renewed first proclamation of the Gospel, seem to be particularly resistant to many aspects of the Christian message.

The diversity of situations calls for careful discernment: to speak of "new evangelization" does not mean, in fact, to have to elaborate a single equal formula for all the circumstances. And yet, it is not difficult to realize what all the Churches need that live in traditionally Christian territories, which is a renewed missionary drive, expression of a new generous openness to the gift of grace. In fact, we cannot forget that the first task is to be docile to the gratuitous work of the Spirit of the Risen One, which supports all those who are bearers of the Gospel, and which opens the hearts of those who listen. Necessary above all to proclaim profoundly the Word of the Gospel is a profound experience of God.

As I stated in my first encyclical "Deus Caritas Est": "Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction" (No. 1). In a similar way, at the root of all evangelization there is not a human plan of expansion, but the desire to share the inestimable gift that God has willed to give us, making us sharers in his own life.

Therefore, in the light of these reflections, after having examined everything carefully and having asked for the judgment of expert persons, I establish and decree what follows:

Art. 1.

Paragraph 1. The Pontifical Council for Promoting the New Evangelization is established as a Dicastery of the Roman Curia, in the sense of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus.

Paragraph 2. The Council pursues its own end both by stimulating reflection on topics of the new evangelization, as well as singling out and promoting the adequate ways and instruments to accomplish it.

Art. 2.

The Council's action, which is carried out in collaboration with the other Dicasteries and Organisms of the Roman Curia, in respect of their relative competencies, is at the service of the particular Churches, especially in those territories of Christian tradition where greater evidence is manifested of the phenomenon of secularization.

Art. 3.

Pointed out among the specific tasks of the Council are:

1st. to reflect on the theological and pastoral meaning of the new evangelization;

2nd. to promote and foster, in close collaboration with the Episcopal Conferences concerned, which can have an ad hoc organism, the study, diffusion and realization of the papal Magisterium related to topics connected with the new evangelization;

3rd. to make known initiatives linked to the new evangelization already under way in the various particular Churches and to promote their new realization, involving actively also the resources present in the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, as well as the aggregations of faithful and in the new communities;

4th. to study and foster the use of modern forms of communication, as instruments for the new evangelization;

5th. to promote the use of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, as essential and complete formulation of the content of the faith for the men of our time.

Art. 4.

Paragraph 1. The Council is headed by an Archbishop President, helped by his Secretary, by an Under-Secretary and by an appropriate number of Officials, according to the norms established by the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus and by the General Regulation of the Roman Curia.

Paragraph 2. The Council will have its own Members and can have its own Consultors.

All that has been deliberated with the present Motu proprio, I order that it have full and stable value, despite anything to the contrary, even if it is worthy of particular mention, and I establish that it be promulgated through publication in the newspaper L'Osservatore Romano and that it come into force on the day of promulgation.

Given at Castel Gandolfo, the 21st day of September of 2010, Feast of Saint Matthew, Apostle and Evangelist, sixth year of my Pontificate.


[Translation by ZENIT]


On the Rosary
"It Leads Directly to Jesus, Contemplated in His Mysteries"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I have just come from St. Peter's Basilica where I presided at the opening Mass of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. This extraordinary synodal gathering, which will last two weeks, will see the meeting in Rome of the pastors of the Church that lives in the Middle East, a very diverse reality: In that land, in fact, the one Church of Christ expresses herself in all the wealth of her ancient traditions. We will be reflecting on the following theme: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." In fact, in those countries, unfortunately marked by profound divisions and lacerations by age-old conflicts, the Church is called to be the sign and instrument of unity and of reconciliation, on the model of the first community of Jerusalem, in which "the multitude of those who had become Christian were of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32). This is an arduous task since the Christians of the Middle East often find themselves having to endure difficult conditions of life at the personal, familial and communal levels. But this should not be discouraging: it is precisely in this context that the perennial message of Christ becomes more necessary and urgent: "Convert and believe in the Gospel" (Mark 1:15). In my recent visit to Cyprus I consigned the "instrumentum laboris" of this synodal assembly [to the participants]; now that it has begun, I invite everyone to pray, invoking from God an abundant outpouring of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The month of October is called the month of the Rosary. This is a "spiritual intonation," so to speak, provided by the liturgical memorial of Our Lady of the Rosary, which is celebrated on October 7. We are thus invited to let ourselves be guided by Mary in this ancient and ever new prayer, which is especially dear to her because it leads directly to Jesus, contemplated in his mysteries of salvation: joyous, luminous, sorrowful and glorious. In the footsteps of the venerable John Paul II (cf. Apostolic Letter "Rosarium Virginis Mariae), I would like to recall that the Rosary is a biblical prayer, completely interwoven with Sacred Scripture. It is a prayer of the heart in which the repetition of the "Hail Mary" orients one's though and affection toward Christ, and thus one confidently supplicates his Mother and ours. It is a prayer that aids meditation on the Word of God and is likened to Eucharistic communion on the model of Mary, who carries in her heart all Jesus did and said and his presence itself.

Dear Friends, we know how much the Virgin Mary is loved and venerated by our brothers and sisters of the Middle East. All look upon her as the caring Mother, near to every suffering, and as the Star of Hope. We entrust the assembly that opens today to her intercession so that the Christians of that region are strengthened in communion and bear witness of the Gospel of love and peace to all.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian he said:]

In recent days there has taken place in Rome the "Mission to Youth 2010," organized by the Diocesan Service for the Pastoral Care of Young People. This year it reached the Tor Bella Monaca and Torre Angela quarters, with many initiatives of spiritual animation, parish, school and university gatherings and visits to the sick. At the center of everything, Eucharistic adoration, that is, the living presence of Jesus Christ. I express my appreciation to the young missionaries, to the seminarians and to all those who were a part of this experience. Thank you, you have done well! May the Lord make the seeds of the Gospel fruitful that you have sown with faith and with love!

[In English he said:]

I offer warm greetings to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. I invite all of you to join me in praying for the 'Special Assembly for the Middle East' of the Synod of Bishops, which opened this morning in Saint Peter's Basilica. May this momentous ecclesial event strengthen the communion of the faithful in the Middle East, especially as they give witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to the gift of peace he offers. As we entrust these prayers to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her Spouse, who themselves came from that region, I invoke upon you and your families God's abundant blessings.

[Again in Italian he said:]

Thanks to everyone.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Homily for Mideast Synod Inauguration
"The Life of Communion Is Truly the Great Witness"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily given today by Benedict XVI at a Mass for the inauguration of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place through Oct. 24.

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Venerable Brothers,
Illustrious Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Eucharistic celebration, the rendering of thanks to God par excellence, is marked for us today, gathered around the Tomb of Saint Peter, by an extraordinary reason: the grace of seeing gathered together for the first time at a Synod, around the Bishop of Rome and the Universal Shepherd, the bishops of the Middle Eastern region. Such a singular event demonstrates the interest of the whole Church for that precious and beloved part of God's people who live in the Holy Land and the whole of the Middle East.

Above all, we give thanks to the Lord of history, because he has allowed, despite the often difficult and tormented events, the Middle East to see, from the time of Jesus all the way up to today, a continuity in the presence of Christians. In those lands, the one Church of Christ is expressed in the variety of liturgical, spiritual, cultural and teaching traditions of the six Venerable Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, as well as in the Latin tradition. This fraternal greeting which I direct with great affection to the Patriarchs of each of these wishes to be extended at this time to all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care in their respective countries as well as in the Diaspora. On this Sunday, the 28th of Ordinary Time, the Word of God offers a theme for meditation which brings us closer in a meaningful way to the event of the Synod that we open today. Continued reading of the Gospel of Luke leads us to the story of the healing of the ten lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan, turns back to thank Jesus. Connected with this text, the first reading, from the Second Book of Kings, tells the story of the healing of Naaman, head of the Aramaean army, another leper, who was cured by immersing himself seven times in the waters of the Jordan River, on the orders of the prophet Eliseus. Naaman too returns to the prophet and, recognizing him as the mediator of God, professes his faith in the one Lord. So two lepers, two non-Jews, who are cured because they believe in the word of God's messenger. Their bodies are healed, but they are open to faith, and this heals their souls, that is, it saves them.

The Responsorial Psalm sings of this reality: "Yahweh has made known his saving power,/ revealed his saving justice for the nations to see. /Mindful of his faithful love and his constancy to the House of Israel" (Ps 98:2-3). This then is the theme: salvation is universal, but it passes through a specific historical mediation: the mediation of the people of Israel, which goes on to become that of Jesus Christ and the Church. The door of life is open for everyone, but this is the point, it is a "door", that is a definite and necessary passage. This is summed up in the Pauline formula we heard in the Second Letter to Timothy: "the salvation that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 2:10). It is the mystery of the universality of Salvation and at the same time of its necessary link with the historical mediation of Christ Jesus, preceded by that of the people of Israel and continued by that of the Church. God is love and wants all men to be part of His life; to carry out this plan He, who is One and Trine, creates in the world a mystery of a communion that is human and divine, historical and transcendent: He creates it with the "method" - so to speak - of the covenant, tying himself to men with faithful and inexhaustible love, forming a holy people, that becomes a blessing for all the families of the earth (cf Gen 12:13). Thus He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf Ex 3:6), who wants to lead his people to the "land" of freedom and peace. This "land" is not of this world; the whole of the divine plan goes beyond history, but the Lord wants to build it with men, for men and in men, beginning with the coordinates of space and time in which they live and which He Himself gave them.

With its own specificity, that which we call the "Middle East", makes up part of those coordinates. God sees this region of the world, too, from a different perspective, one might say, "from on high": it is the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the land of the Exodus and the return from exile; the land of the Temple and of the Prophets, the land in which the Only Begotten Son of Mary was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead; the cradle of the Church, established in order to carry Christ's Gospel to the ends of the earth. And we too, as believers, look at the Middle East with this view, from the perspective of the history of salvation. It is this internal point of view which guided me during Apostolic visits to Turkey, the Holy Land-Jordan, Israel, Palestine-and Cyprus, where I was able to experience firsthand the joys and concerns of the Christian communities. It was for this reason, too, that I willingly accepted the proposal of the Patriarchs and Bishops to convoke a Synodal Assembly to reflect together, in light of Sacred Scripture and Church traditions, on the present as well as the future of the faithful and populations of the Middle East.

Looking at that part of the world from God's perspective means recognizing in it the "cradle" of a universal design of salvation in love, a mystery of communion which becomes true in freedom and thus asks man for a response. Abraham, the prophets, and the Virgin Mary are the protagonists of this response which, however, has its completion in Jesus Christ, son of that same land, yet descended from Heaven. From Him, from his Heart and his Spirit was born the Church, which is a pilgrim in this world, yet belongs to Him. The Church was established to be a sign and an instrument of the unique and universal saving project of God among men; She fulfils this mission simply by being herself, that is, "Communion and witness", as it says in the theme of this Synodal Assembly which opens today, referring to Luke's famous definition of the first Christian community: "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul" (Acts 4:32). Without communion there can be no witness: the life of communion is truly the great witness. Jesus said it clearly: "It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples" (Jn 13:35). This communion is the same life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ. It is thus a gift, not something which we ourselves must build through our own efforts. And it is precisely because of this that it calls upon our freedom and waits for our response: communion always requires conversion, just as a gift is better if it is welcomed and utilized. In Jerusalem the first Christians were few. Nobody could have imagined what was going to take place. And the Church continues to live on that same strength which enabled it to begin and to grow. Pentecost is the original event but also a permanent dynamism, and the Synod of Bishops is a privileged moment in which the grace of Pentecost may be renewed in the Church's journey, so that the Good News may be announced openly and heard by all peoples.

Therefore, the reason for this synodal assembly is mainly a pastoral one. While not being able to ignore the delicate and at times dramatic social and political situation of some countries, the Pastors of the Middle Eastern Churches wish to concentrate on the aspects of their own mission. As regards this, the Instrumentum laboris, elaborated by a Presynodal Council whose members we thank for their work, underlined these ecclesial finalities of the Assembly, pointing out that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it wishes to re-enliven communion of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. First of all within each Church, between all its members: Patriarch, Bishop, priests, religious persons, persons of consecrated life and the laity. And, thereby, in the relationships with the other Churches. Ecclesial life, corroborated in this way, will see the development of very positive fruits in the ecumenical path with the other Churches and ecclesial Communities present in the Middle East. This occasion is also propitious to constructively continue the dialogue with Jews, to whom we are tied by an indissoluble bond, the lengthy history of the Covenant, as we are with the Muslims. Also, the workings of the Synodal assembly are oriented to the witness of Christians on a personal, family and social level. This requires the reinforcing of their Christian identity through the Word of God and the Sacraments. We all hope that the faithful feel the joy in living in the Holy Land, a land blessed by the presence and by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ. Over the centuries those Places attracted multitudes of pilgrims and even men and women in religious communities, who have considered it a great privilege to be able to live and bear witness in the land of Jesus. Despite the difficulties, the Christians in the Holy Land are called to enliven their consciousness of being the living stones of the Church in the Middle East, at the holy Places of our salvation. However, living in a dignified manner in one's own country is above all a fundamental human right: therefore, the conditions of peace and justice, which are necessary for the harmonious development of all those living in the region, should be promoted. Therefore all are called to give their personal contribution: the international community, by supporting a stable path, loyal and constructive, towards peace; those most prevalent religions in the region, in promoting the spiritual and cultural values that unite men and exclude any expression of violence. Christians will continue to contribute not only with the work of social promotion, such as institutes of education and health, but above all with the spirit of the Evangelical Beatitudes, which enliven the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. In this commitment, they will always have the support of the entire Church, as is solemnly attested by the presence here of the Delegates of the Episcopacies of other continents.

Dear friends, let us entrust the workings of the Synodal Assembly for the Middle East to the many Saints of that blessed land; let us invoke upon it the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that the coming days of prayer, of reflection and of fraternal communion may be the harbingers of the good fruits for the present and for the future of the beloved Middle Eastern populations. To them we address a hopeful greeting with all our heart: "Peace to you, peace to your family, peace to all that is yours!" (1 Sam 25:6).

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Reflection on Day 1 of Mideast Synod
"True Wisdom of Simple Faith ... Is the Force of the Church"

ROME, OCT. 11, 2010 ( Here is the reflection offered today by Benedict XVI at the opening of the first general congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East for the Middle East.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

On October 11 1962, 48 years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on October 11, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of the Madonna. We too begin on October 11th, we too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Madonna, the Mother of God.

Pius XI, in 1930, introduced this feast day, 1600 years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of Theotokos, Dei Genitrix. With this great word Dei Genitrix, Theotokos, the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.

In reality, Theotokos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotokos, yes, but Theotokos no: Theos, God, is beyond, beyond the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus it enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he went out, He united in such a way, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak about God. Not only was a man born that had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are not outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.

Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only an unreciprocated relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relation today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God has no relationship with me. With the incarnation, with the event of the Theotokos, this has been radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created the relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and remain Himself: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act by Pope John, who entrusted the Council, Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.

The Council began with the icon of the Theotokos. At the end, Pope Paul VI recognized the same title of Mater Ecclesiae to the Madonna. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, one single icon. Because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born - as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel - to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born - as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians - to summarize the whole world, He was born as the firstborn of many brothers, He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of summation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theos, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of He who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.

Saint Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus' disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.

Birth in Bethlehem, birth at the Last Supper. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or just one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross comes the path towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from the wheat fallen to earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples reunited in this His Body, dead and risen.

Keeping this connection between Theotokos and Mater ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with thesun, with twelve stars over her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And gives birth with a cry of pain, gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in all generations and thus takes on, gathers humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.

So, at this moment, we can look at the second psalm of this Hour, Psalm 81, where we can see part of this process. God is among gods - they are still considered as gods in Israel. In this Psalm, in a great concentration, in a prophetic vision, we can see the power taken from the gods. Those who seemed to be gods are not gods and lose their divine characteristics, and fall to earth. Dii estis et moriemini sicut nomine (cf. Psa 81:6-7): the wresting of power, the fall of the divinities.

This process that is achieved along the path of faith of Israel, and which here is summarized in one vision, is the true process of the history of religion: the fall of the gods. And thus the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the loss of power by the forces that dominate the world, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel we can see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition - "Only He is God" - is achieved with great pain, beginning with the path of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabeans, up to Christ. And this process of loss of power continues throughout history, spoken of in Revelation chapter 12; it mentions the fall of the angels, which are not truly angels, they are not divinities on earth. And is achieved truly, right at the time of the rising Church, where we can see how the blood of the martyrs takes the power away from the divinities, starting with the divine emperor, from all these divinities. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that makes them fall and thus transforms the world.

This fall is not only the knowledge that they are not God; it is the process of transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of the witnesses of Christ. And, if we look closely, we can see that this process never ends. It is achieved in various periods of history in ever new ways; even today, at this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the fall of the gods, with pain, the martyrdom of witnesses. Let us remember all the great powers of today's history, let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man, which is no longer in man's possession, but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power, that threatens the world. And then the power of the terroristic ideologies. Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a voracious beast, extends its claws to all parts of the world and destroys it: it is a divinity, but it is a false divinity that must fall. Or even the way of living proclaimed by public opinion: today we must do things like this, marriage no longer counts, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.

These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall, what is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the dominations, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. On this battle we find ourselves in, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of Revelations mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that does not have a place anymore in front of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple at heart, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says - the first psalm of the Hour - the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf Psa. 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery.

And there is also a final word in Psalm 81, "movebuntur omnia fundamenta terrae" (Psa 81:5), the foundations of earth are shaken. We see this today, with the climatic problems, how the foundations of the earth are shaken, how they are threatened by our behavior. The external foundations are shaken because the internal foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that follows the right way of living. And we know that faith is the foundation, and, undoubtedly, the foundations of the earth cannot be shaken if they remain close to the faith, to true wisdom.

And then the Psalm says: "Arise, God, judge the world" (Psa 81:8). Thus we also say to the Lord: "Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth". And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, to Mary, and pray: "You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth might win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world". Amen

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address on Anniversary of Eastern Canon Law
Canon Law "Will Not Fail to Contribute to the Life and the Mission of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 - Here is a translation of an address given Saturday by Benedict XVI upon receiving in audience participants in a congress marking the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Patriarchs,
Major Archbishops,
Dear Brothers in the episcopate and priesthood,
Illustrious Representatives of other ecclesial churches and communities,
Esteemed Practitioners of Eastern Canon Law,

With great joy I receive you at the conclusion of the scholarly proceedings, which were convened to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium." I cordially greet all of you, beginning with Monsignor Francesco Coccopalmerio, whom I thank for the words he addressed to me also on behalf of those present. I thank the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, who worked together with the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts in organizing this conference. I would like to express my cordial appreciation to the speakers for the competent scientific contribution to this ecclesial initiative.

20 years after the promulgation of "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium" we would like to pay homage to the intuition of John Paul II, whom, in his concern that the Eastern Catholic Churches "flourish and carry out the mission entrusted to them with new apostolic vigor" (Vatican Council II, "Orientalium Ecclesiarum," 1) wanted to grant these venerable Churches a complete universal Code adapted to the times. In this way there was fulfilled "the same constant will of the Roman pontiffs to promulgate two Codes, one for the Latin Church and the other for the Eastern Catholic Churches" (Apostolic Constitution "Sacri canones"). At the same time there was reaffirmed the "very clear, constant, and firm intention of the supreme legislator in the Church in regard to the faithful safeguarding and diligent observance of all the rites" (ibid.).

The "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium" was followed by two other important documents of the magisterium of John Paul II: the encyclical letter "Ut unum sint" (1995) and the apostolic letter "Orientale Lumen" (1995). Furthermore, we cannot forget the "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism" published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (1993) and the instruction of the Congregation for Eastern Churches about the application of the liturgical prescriptions of the Code (1996). In these authoritative documents of the magisterium various canons of the "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium," just as the "Codex Iuris Canonici," are textually cited, commented on and applied to the life of the Church.

This 20th anniversary is not only a celebratory event to preserve it in memory, but rather provides an occasion for confirmation to which above all the "sui iuris" Eastern Catholic Churches and their institutions, especially the hierarchies, are called. In this regard the apostolic constitution "Sacri canones" already foresees the context of verification. It is a question of seeing in what measure the Code effectively had force of law for all the "suir iuris" Oriental Churches and also in what measure the legislative authority of each "sui iuris" Church has provided for the promulgation of its own particular law, keeping present the traditions of its right along with the directives of Vatican Council II.

The topics of this conference articulated in three unities -- history, particular legislation, ecumenical perspectives -- indicate a very important "iter" to follow in this verification. It must start from the awareness that the new "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium" has created for the Oriental Catholic faithful a disciplinary situation that is partly new, becoming a valid instrument to protect and promote their rite understood as a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, distinct by culture and historical circumstances of peoples, that is expressed a way of living of the faith that is proper to each "sui iuris" Church" (can. 28, § 1).

In this way, the "sacra canones" of the ancient Church, that inspire the Oriental codification in force, stimulate all the Oriental Churches to conserve their own identity, which is simultaneously Eastern and Catholic. In preserving the Catholic communion the Eastern Catholic Churches did not at all intend to deny their own tradition. As has been many times repeated, the full union of the Eastern Catholic Churches with the Church of Rome that is already realized must not lead to a diminution of the consciousness of the unique authenticity and originality of those Churches. For this reason it is the task of all the Eastern Catholic Churches to conserve the common disciplinary patrimony and nourish their own traditions, which is a treasure for the whole Church.

The same "sacri canones" of the first centuries of the Church constitute to a large extent the same basic patrimony of canonical discipline that also regulates the Orthodox Churches. Thus the Eastern Catholic Churches can offer a peculiar and relevant contribution to the ecumenical journey. I am happy that in the course of your symposium you have taken account of this particular aspect and I encourage you to make it an object of further study, cooperating thus for your part to the common effort to adhere to the Lord's prayer: "May all be one ... that the world may believe ..." (John 17:21).

Dear friends, in the context of the Church's current effort for a new evangelization, canon law, as the peculiar and indispensable ordering of ecclesial fellowship, will not fail to contribute to the life and the mission of the Church in the world, if all the components of the People of God know how to interpret is wisely and apply it faithfully. Thus, I exhort, as did the venerable John Paul II, all the beloved children of the Eastern Churches "to observe the precepts set down with a sincere heart and a humble will, not in the least doubting that the Eastern Churches will provide in the best way possible for the good of the souls of faithful Christians with renewed discipline, and that they will always flourish and carry out the task entrusted to them under the protection of the glorious and blessed ever Virgin Mary, who in all truth is called 'Theotokos' and who shines as the great mother of the universal Church" ("Sacri canones").

I accompany this wish with the Apostolic Blessing, which I impart to you and to those who make their contribution in the various fields connected with the canon law of the Eastern Churches.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Catholic Press
"New Technologies ... Can Make the True and the False Interchangeable"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to participants of the World Press Congress, which ended today in Rome. The event was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

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Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers,
Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,

I receive you with joy at the end of the four days of intense work promoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and dedicated to the Catholic press. I cordially greet all of you -- coming from 85 countries -- who work in newspapers, weeklies or in other periodicals and Internet sites. I greet the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, whom I thank for giving voice to the sentiments of all, as well as the secretaries, the under-secretary and all the officials and staff. I am happy to be able to address a word of encouragement to you to continue, with renewed motivations, your important and qualified work.

The world of the media is going through a profound transformation also within itself. The development of the new technologies and, in particular, widespread multimedia, seems to call into question the role of the more traditional and consolidated media. Appropriately, your conference pauses to consider the specific role of the Catholic press. A careful reflection on this field, in fact, brings up two particular aspects: on one hand the specificity of the means -- the press, that is, the written word and its timeliness and efficacy, in a society which has seen antennas, satellite dishes and satellites multiply, becoming almost the emblem of a new way of communicating in the era of globalization. And the other point, the connotation "Catholic," with the responsibility that derives from it to be faithful in an explicit and substantial way, through the daily commitment to follow the masterful way of truth.

The search for truth must be pursued by Catholic journalists with a passionate mind and heart, but also with the professionalism of competent staff who are equipped with adequate and effective means. This is even more important in the present historical moment, which asks of the figure itself of the journalist, as mediator of the flow of information, to undertake a profound change. Today, for example, the world of the image with the development of ever new technologies has ever greater weight in communication. But if on one hand this entails undoubtedly positive aspects, on the other hand, the image can also become independent of reality; it can give life to a virtual world, with several consequences, the first of which is the risk of indifference to truth.

In fact, the new technologies, together with the progress they entail, can make the true and the false interchangeable; they can induce one to confuse the real with the virtual. Moreover, the recording of an event, joyful or sad, can be consumed as a spectacle and not as an occasion for reflection. The search for the paths of an authentic promotion of man then takes second place, because the event is presented primarily to arouse emotions. These aspects sound like an alarm bell: They invite consideration of the danger that the virtual draws away from reality and does not stimulate the search for the true, for the truth.

In this context, the Catholic press is called, in a new way, to express to the heights its potential and to give a reason day in and day out for its mission that can never be given up. The Church has a facilitating element, since the Christian faith has in common with communication a fundamental structure: the fact that the means and the message coincide; indeed, the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, is at the same time message of salvation and means through which salvation is realized. And this is not a simple concept, but a reality accessible to all, also those who while living as protagonists in the complexity of the world, are capable of preserving the intellectual honesty proper to the "little ones" of the Gospel. Moreover the Church, Mystical Body of Christ, present at the same time everywhere, nourishes the capacity of more fraternal and more human relations, being a place of communion among believers and, at the same time, a sign and instrument of everyone's vocation to communion. Her strength is Christ, and in his name she "pursues" man on the roads of the world to save him from the "mysterium iniquitatis," insidiously operating in him. The Catholic press evokes more directly, as compared to other means of communication, the value of the written word. The Word of God has come to men and has been given to us also through a book, the Bible. The word continues to be the fundamental instrument and, in a certain sense, the constitutive instrument of communication: It is used today under various forms, and in the so-called civilization of the image it also keeps its entire value.

From these brief considerations, it seems evident that the communicative challenge is, for the Church and for all those who share her mission, very involved. Christians cannot ignore the crisis of faith that has come to society, or simply trust that the patrimony of the values transmitted in the course of past centuries can continue inspiring and shaping the future of the human family. The idea of living "as if God didn't exist" has shown itself to be deadly: The world needs, rather, to live "as if God existed," even if it does not have the strength to believe; otherwise it will only produce an "inhuman humanism."

My very dear brothers and sisters, whoever works in the media, if he does not wish to be "a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1) -- as Saint Paul would say -- must have well-rooted in himself the underlying option that enables him to deal with the things of the world placing God always at the top of the scale of values. The times we are living through -- despite having a notable positive weight, because the threads of history are in God's hands and his eternal design is ever more revealed -- are also marked by many shadows. Your task, dear members of the Catholic press, is to help contemporary man to orient himself to Christ, only Savior, and to keep burning the flame of hope in the world, to live worthily our today and to build the future appropriately.

Because of this I exhort you to constantly renew your personal choice for Christ, drinking from those spiritual resources that the worldly mentality underestimates, despite the fact they are valuable, more than that, indispensable. Dear friends, I encourage you to continue in your endeavor that is not easy, and I accompany you with my prayer, so that the Holy Spirit will always make it fruitful. My blessing, full of affection and gratitude, which I am pleased to impart, intends to embrace all of you here present and all those who work in the Catholic press worldwide.


Papal Address at Concert in His Honor
"The Masterpiece of the Human Being Is His Every Act of Genuine Love"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday during a concert held in his honor in Paul VI Hall.

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Venerable Brothers,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

First of all I would like to address my heartfelt gratitude to ENI [Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi], in the person of the president, professor Roberto Poli, who courteously sponsored this evening. Already some time ago ENI offered to organize a concert to coincide with the restoration project on the lateral facades of St. Peter's Basilica. After carrying out the memorable cleaning of the facade, admired by millions of pilgrims during the Jubilee of 2000, this great subsequent work is fully under way: entering the Vatican by the Arch of Bells or by the Petriano, one is surprised -- on looking at the part that is already finished -- by the appearance of the Travertine [marble], which looks like we've never seen it, soft and velvet-like. This is also a great "orchestral" work, and all those who direct it and carry it out, with mastery and diligence, deserve applause!

Hence ENI thought of a concert -- perhaps to compensate for the noise that these works inevitably cause! Called to this were the Orchestra and Choir of the St. Cecilia National Academy, that is, two institutions that, because of their history, the quality of their art and their typically "Italian" sound, represent Rome and Italy in the global musical scene.

To all the members of the orchestra and the choir I would like to offer my congratulations, with the hope that they will always be able to give life -- as this evening -- to immortal works. In particular, I express my heartfelt appreciation to the director, Neeme Jarvi, to the pianist, Andrea Lucchesini and to the choir master, Ciro Visco. A special greeting also to the group of the poor, helped by the diocesan Caritas, whom I wished to invite to experience with us this moment of joy.

And now a brief reflection on the music we have heard: a Haydn symphony, of the "London" group called "The Surprise," or mit dem Paukenschlag for the characteristic use of the timpani in the second movement; Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, a quite atypical passage as genre in Beethoven's landscape, but which shows in a synthetic way the expressive possibilities of soloist, orchestral and choral music; and placed in the middle, the Cecilia, vergine romana, of Arvo Part. The two works of Haydn and Beethoven have made resound all the richness and power of symphonic music of the Classical and Romantic period: With it human genius competes in creativity with nature, gives life to varied and manifold harmonies, where the human voice also takes part in this language, which is as a reflection of the great cosmic symphony. This form is characteristic above all of the Romantic and late Romantic period, but it goes further, it represents a universal dimension of art, a way of conceiving man and his place in the world.

Part's work on the other hand, though making use of a similar instrument, a symphonic orchestra and a choir, wishes to give voice to another reality, which does not belong to the natural world: It gives voice to the testimony of faith in Christ, which in one word is "martyrdom." It is interesting that this testimony is personified in fact by St. Cecilia: a martyr who is also the patroness of music and of bel canto.

Hence it is necessary to congratulate also the one who planned the program, because joining this work on St. Cecilia to Haydn's and Beethoven's works offers a contrast rich in meaning, which invites us to reflect. The text of the saint's martyrdom and the particular style that interprets it in a musical key, seems to represent the place and task of faith in the universe: In the midst of the vital forces of nature, which are around man and also within him, faith is a different force, which responds to a profound word, "arising from the silence," as St. Ignatius of Antioch would say. The word of faith needs great interior silence, to hear and obey a voice that goes beyond the visible and tangible. This voice also speaks through the phenomena of nature, because it is the power that has created and governs the universe; but to recognize it, a humble and obedient heart is necessary -- as the saint teaches, whose memorial we celebrate today: Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus. Faith follows this profound voice where art on its own cannot reach: It follows it on the path of witness, of selfless giving of oneself out of love, as Cecilia did. Then the most beautiful work of art, the masterpiece of the human being is his every act of genuine love, from the smallest -- in the daily martyrdom -- to the extreme sacrifice. Here life itself becomes a song: an anticipation of this symphony that we will sing together in Paradise. Thank you again and good evening.


On Marian Devotion
"Mary Is the Model of the Christian Life"
PALERMO, Italy, OCT. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday after celebrating an outdoor Mass in Palermo's Foro Italico Umberto I, and before praying the midday angelus.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

In this moment of profound communion with Christ, present and alive among us and in us, it is a beautiful thing for us as an ecclesial family to turn in prayer to his and our Mother, Mary, most holy and immaculate. Sicily has many Marian sanctuaries and in this place I feel spiritually at the center of this "network" of devotion, which joins all of the cities and villages of the island.

To the Virgin Mary I wish to entrust all of the people of God who live in this beloved land. May she sustain the families in love and in educational commitment; may she fructify the seeds of vocation that God liberally sows among the young people; may she instill courage in trials, hope in difficulties, renewed strength in doing the good. May the Madonna comfort the sick and all those who are suffering, and help the Christian communities so that no one in them be forgotten or in need, but that each one, especially the little and the weak, feel welcomed and valued.

Mary is the model of the Christian life. I ask her above all to quicken your footsteps and fill you with joy on the path to holiness, following the many luminous witnesses to Christ, children of Sicily. In this context I would like to recall that today, in Parma, Anna Maria Adorni is being beatified. In 19th century she was an exemplary wife and mother and then, having become a widow, she dedicated herself to charitable work among women in prison and in difficulty, for whose service she founded two religious institutes. Mother Adorni, because of her constant prayer, was called the "Living Rosary." I am glad to mention her at the beginning of the month of the rosary. May the daily meditation on the mysteries of Christ in union with Mary, the prayerful Virgin, strengthen us in faith, in hope and in charity.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Homily in Palermo
"We Never Do Enough for God"
PALERMO, Italy, OCT. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Sunday during an outdoor Mass in Palermo's Foro Italico Umberto I.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

My joy is great to be able to break the bread of the Word of God and the Eucharist with you. I greet all of you with affection and I thank you for your warm welcome! I greet your pastor in particular, Archbishop Monsignor Paolo Romeo; I thank him for the expressions of welcome that he wished to offer me in the name of everyone, and also for the meaningful gift that he gave me. I also greet the archbishops and bishops present, the priests, religious, the representatives of the ecclesial associations and movements. I address a deferential thought to the mayor, Honorable Diego Cammarata, grateful for the courteous address of greeting, to the representative of the government and the civil and military authorities, who wished to honor our meeting with their presence. A special thank you to those who generously offered their cooperation for the organization and preparation of this day.

Dear Friends! My visit occurs on the occasion of an important regional ecclesial gathering of young people and families, whom I will meet this afternoon. But I also came to share the joys and hopes, toils and commitments, ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community. When the ancient Greeks landed in this area, as the mayor also recalled in his greetings, they called it "Panormo," that is, "all port": a name that was intended to indicate security, peace and serenity. Coming among you for the first time, my wish is that this city, taking inspiration from the most authentic values of its history and its tradition, always truly know how to make the augury of peace and serenity summed up in its name a reality for its inhabitants and the whole nation.

I know that in Palermo, as everywhere in Sicily, there is no lack of difficulties, problems and worries: I think, in particular, of those who concretely live their lives in precariousness because of the lack of work, the uncertainty of the future, physical and moral suffering and, as the archbishop noted, because of organized crime. Today I am with you to bear witness to my nearness to you and my prayers for you. I am here to give you strong encouragement to not be afraid to bear clear witness to the human and Christian values that are so deeply rooted in the faith and the history of this place and its people.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, every liturgical assembly is a space of the presence of God. Gathered for the Holy Eucharist, the disciples of the Lord are immersed in the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, they proclaim that he is risen, he lives and is the giver of life, and they testify that his presence is grace, strength and joy. Let us open our hearts to his word and welcome the gift of his presence! All of the texts of liturgy this Sunday speak to us of faith, which is the foundation of the whole Christian life. Jesus taught his disciples how to grow in faith, to believe in him and entrust themselves to him more and more, to build their lives upon the rock. Thus, they ask him: "Increase our faith" (Luke 17:6). It is a great request that they make of the Lord, it is the fundamental request: The disciples do not ask for material goods, they do not ask for privileges, rather they ask for the grace of faith, that orients and illuminates life as a whole; they ask for the grace to recognize God and to be able to abide in an intimate relationship with him, receiving from him all his gifts, including those of courage, love and hope.

Without responding directly to their prayer, Jesus has recourse to a paradoxical image to express the incredible vitality of faith. As a lever lifts much more than its own weight, faith too, even a modicum of faith, is capable of accomplishing unthinkable, extraordinary things, such as uprooting a great tree and planting it in the sea (Luke 17:6). Faith -- trusting Christ, welcoming him, allowing him to transform us, following him completely -- makes humanly impossible things possible in every situation. The prophet Habakkuk also bears witness to this in the first reading. He asks the Lord for deliverance from a situation that is full of violence, iniquity and oppression; and precisely in this difficult and uncertain situation, the prophet introduces a vision that offers a glimpse of the plan that the God is tracing and actualizing in history: "He who does not have a upright soul will falter while the just one shall live because of his faith" (Habakkuk 2:4). The wicked one, he who does not act in obedience to God, puts his trust in his own power, but he is leaning on something fragile and inconsistent -- that is why he will slip, he is destined to fall; the just man, however, puts his trust in a reality that is hidden but unshakable, he trusts in God and because of this he will have life.

In past centuries the Church in Palermo was enriched and animated by a fervid faith that found its highest and most successful expression in the saints. I think of St. Rosalia, whom you venerate and honor and who watches over your city, of which she is the patroness, from Monte Pellegrino. Neither must it be forgotten how your religious sense has always inspired and guided family life, nourishing values like your capacity to give and be in solidarity with others, especially the suffering, and your innate respect for life, which constitute a precious legacy to be jealously guarded and revivified in our day. Dear Friends, conserve this precious treasure of faith of your Church; may Christian values always guide your decisions and your actions!

The second part of today's Gospel presents another teaching, a teaching about humility that, nevertheless, is closely connected with faith. Jesus invites us to be humble and offers the example of a servant who works in the fields. When he returns home the master asks him to continue working. According to the mentality of Jesus' time the master had every right to do this. The servant owed the master his complete availability; and the master did not think himself obligated to him if he carried out his orders. Jesus makes us aware that, before God, we find ourselves in a similar situation: we are God's servants; we are not his creditors but we are always debtors in relation to him because we owe him everything, because everything is his gift. Accepting and doing his will is the way that we must live every day, in every moment of our life. Before God we must not present ourselves as those who believe that they have done a service and deserve a great recompense. This is an illusion that can arise in everyone, even in persons who do a much work in the Lord's service, in the Church. We must instead be aware that we never do enough for God. We must say, as Jesus suggests: "We are useless servants. We did what we were obliged to do" (Luke 17:10). This is an attitude of humility that truly puts us in our place and permits the Lord to be very generous with us. In fact, in another passage of the Gospel, he promises us that "he will gird himself, have us sit at table and will serve us" (cf. Luke 12:37). Dear Friends, if we do the Lord's will every day, with humility, without expecting anything from him, Jesus himself will serve us, help us, encourage us, give us strength and peace.

In today's second reading the Apostle Paul also speaks of faith. Timothy is invited to have faith, and through it, to exercise charity. The disciple is exhorted to stir up in faith the gift of God that is in him through the imposition of Paul's hands, that is, the gift of priestly ordination, received to carry out the apostolic ministry as Paul's co-worker (cf. 2 Timothy 1:6). He must not let this gift be extinguished but must make it ever more alive through faith. And the Apostle adds: "God, in fact, has not given us a spirit of fear but of strength, of charity and of prudence" (1:7).

Dear Citizens of Palermo and dear Sicilians! Your beautiful island was among the first regions of Italy to accept the faith of the Apostles, to receive the proclamation of the Word of God, to adhere to the faith in a generous way so that even in the midst of hardships and persecutions the flower of sanctity blossomed in it. Sicily was and is a land of saints, who belonged to every condition of life, who lived the Gospel with simplicity and integrity. To you, faithful laypeople, I repeat: Do not be afraid to live and bear witness to the faith in the various spheres of society, in the multiple situations of human existence, above all in the difficult ones! Faith gives you the strength of God to be always confident and courageous, to go forward with new decision, to embark on the initiatives that are necessary to give a face to your land that is ever more beautiful. And when you encounter the world's opposition, listen to the words of the Apostle: "Do not be ashamed therefore to bear witness to our Lord" (v. 8).

We must be ashamed of evil, of that which offends God, of that which offends man; we must be ashamed of the evil that afflicts the civil and religious community with actions that do not like to come into the light! The temptation of discouragement, of resignation, comes to those who are weak in faith, to those who confuse evil with good, to those who think that in the face of evil, often great evil, there is nothing to be done. But those who stand firmly on faith, those who are full of trust in God and live in the Church, are able to unleash the explosive power of the Gospel. This is how the saints lived, who flourished over the course of the centuries in Palermo and in every part of Sicily, and how the laypeople and priests of today live whom you know well, like, for example, Don Pino Puglisi. May they be the ones who always keep you united and who encourage you in the desire to proclaim, with words and with deeds, the presence and the love of Christ. People of Sicily, look with hope to your future! Bring forth in all of its splendor the good that you wish for, that you seek and that you have! Live the values of the Gospel with courage to make the light of the good shine! With the power of God all things are possible! May the Mother of Christ, the Virgin Odigitria greatly venerated by you, assist you and lead you to the profound knowledge of her Son. Amen!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On St. Gertrude
"Only Woman of Germanic Descent to Be Called 'the Great'"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

St. Gertrude the Great, about whom I would like to speak today, takes us also this week to the monastery of Helfta, where some of the masterpieces of feminine Latin-Germanic religious literature were created. Gertrude belonged to this world; she was one of the most famous mystics, the only woman of Germanic descent to be called "the Great" because of her cultural and evangelical stature. With her life and thought she influenced Christian spirituality in a singular way. She was an exceptional woman, gifted with particular natural talents and extraordinary gifts of grace, of most profound humility and ardent zeal for the salvation of her neighbor, of profound communion with God in contemplation and readiness to help the needy.

In Helfta she is systematically compared, so to speak, with her teacher Matilda of Hackeborn, of whom I spoke in last Wednesday's audience; she was associated with Matilda of Magdeburg, another Medieval mystic; she grew up under the maternal, gentle and exacting care of Abbess Gertrude. From these three sisters of hers she acquired treasures of experience and wisdom; she developed them in her own synthesis, following her religious itinerary with unlimited trust in the Lord. She expresses the richness of spirituality not only in her monastic world, but also and above all in the biblical, liturgical, patristic and Benedictine world, with a most personal stamp and with great communicative effectiveness.

She was born on Jan. 6, 1256, feast of the Epiphany, but nothing is known about her parents or the place of her birth. Gertrude wrote that the Lord himself revealed to her the meaning of this first uprooting. She said that the Lord said: "I chose her for my dwelling because it pleases me that everything that is pleasing in her is my work. [...] Precisely for this reason I removed her from all her relatives so that no one would love her for reasons of blood relationship and I would be the only motive of the affection that moves her" (The Revelations, I, 16, Siena, 1994, p. 76-77).

At the age of 5, in 1261, she entered the monastery for formation and study, as was frequently the custom at that time. She spent all her life there; she herself points out the most significant stages. In her memoirs she recalls that the Lord preserved her with generous patience and infinite mercy, forgetting the years of her childhood, adolescence and youth, spent, she writes, "in such blindness of mind that I would have been capable [...] without any remorse, of thinking, saying or doing everything I would have liked to do and where I would have liked, if you had not preserved me, either with an inherent horror for evil and a natural inclination to good, or with the external vigilance of others. I would have behaved like a pagan [...] and that even though you willed from my childhood, from my fifth year of age, that I dwell in the blessed sanctuary of religion to be educated among your most devoted friends" (Ibid., II, 23 140s).

Gertrude was an extraordinary student; she learned everything that could be learned of the sciences of the Trivium and the Quadrivium; she was fascinated by learning and dedicated herself to worldly study with ardor and tenacity, achieving scholastic successes beyond all expectations. If we do not know anything about her origins, she tells us much about her youthful passions: literature, music and singing, miniature art captivated her; she had a strong character, determined, decisive, impulsive; often negligent, she says; she acknowledges her defects and humbly asks for forgiveness of them. With humility she asks for advice and prayers for her conversion. There are features of her temperament and defects that stayed with her until the end, to the point of astonishing some persons, who wondered how it was possible that the Lord preferred her so much.

From being a student she then consecrated herself totally to God in the monastic life and during 20 years nothing exceptional happened: study and prayer were her main activity. Because of her gifts, she stood out among her sisters; she was tenacious in consolidating her learning in various fields. However, during Advent of 1280, she began to feel displeasure in all this; she became conscious of her vanity and on Jan. 27, 1281, a few days before the feast of the Purification of the Virgin, towards the hour of Compline, the Lord illumined her dense darkness. With gentleness and kindness he calmed the turmoil that anguished her, turmoil that Gertrude saw as a very gift of God "to pull down the tower of vanity and curiosity that, woe is me, even bearing the name and habit of a religious, I had been raising with my pride, and at least thus find the way to show me your salvation" (Ibid., II, 1, p. 87).

She had a vision of a youth who, taking her by the hand, guided her to surmount the tangle of thorns that oppressed her soul. In that hand, Gertrude recognized "the precious imprint of those wounds that abrogated all the deeds of accusation of our enemies" (Ibid., II, 1, p. 89), she recognized the One who on the cross saved us with his blood, Jesus.

From that moment, her life of communion with the Lord intensified, above all in the most significant liturgical seasons -- Advent-Christmas, Lent-Easter, feasts of the Virgin -- even when illness made her unable to go to the choir. This is the same liturgical humus of Matilda, her teacher, which Gertrude, however, describes with simpler and more lineal, more realistic images, symbols and terms, with more direct references to the Bible, to the fathers, to the Benedictine world.

Her biography indicates two directions from which we could define a particular "conversion" of hers: in her studies, in the radical step from worldly humanistic studies to theological studies, and in monastic observance, with the change from a life that she describes as negligent to a life of intense, mystical prayer, with exceptional missionary ardor. The Lord, who had chosen her from her mother's womb and who from her childhood had allowed her to participate in the banquet of monastic life, called her again with his grace "from external things to the interior life, and from earthly concerns to love of spiritual things."

Gertrude understood that she had been far from him, in the region of the dissimilar, as St. Augustine says: From having dedicated herself with too much eagerness to liberal studies, to human wisdom, neglecting the spiritual science, depriving herself of the pleasure of true wisdom, now she is led to the mount of contemplation, where she leaves the old man to be clothed with the new. "From grammarian she becomes a theologian, with the tireless and careful reading of all the sacred books that she could have or obtain, she filled her heart with the most useful and sweet sentences of sacred Scripture. Hence she always had at her disposal an inspired or edifying word with which to satisfy anyone who came to consult her, and at the same time the most appropriate scriptural texts to confute any erroneous opinion and silence the tongue of her opponents" (Ibid., I, 1, p. 25).

Gertrude transformed all this into the apostolate: She dedicated herself to writing and spreading the truths of the faith with clarity and simplicity, grace and persuasion, serving the Church with love and fidelity to the point that she was useful and welcome for theologians and the pious. From this intense activity of hers, little remains, also because of the circumstances that led to the destruction of the monastery of Helfta. In addition to the "Herald of Divine Love" or "The Revelations," we still have the "Spiritual Exercises," a rare jewel of mystical spiritual literature.

In religious observance, our saint was "a firm pillar [...], a most firm advocate of justice and truth," says her biographer (ibid., I, 1, p. 26). With her words and example she enkindled great fervor in others. To the prayers and penances of the monastic rule she added others with such devotion and confident abandonment in God, that she enkindled in those who met her an awareness of being in the Lord's presence. And, in fact, God himself made her understand that he had called her to be an instrument of his grace. Gertrude felt unworthy of this immense divine treasure; she admits to not having protected it and appreciated it. She exclaims: "Woe is me! If you had given me as a memento of yours, unworthy as I am, even one thread of cotton, I should have however kept it with greater respect and reverence than I have had for these gifts of yours!" (ibid., II, 5, p. 100). However, acknowledging her poverty and unworthiness, she adheres to the will of God, "because," she affirms, "I have taken such little advantage of your graces that I cannot decide to believe that they were given to me for myself, your eternal wisdom not being able to be frustrated by anyone. Hence, let it be, O Giver of all good, who have freely given me such undeserved gifts, that, reading this writing, the heart of at least one of your friends be moved by the thought that zeal for souls has induced you to leave during such a long time a gem of such inestimable value in the midst of the abominable mire of my heart" (ibid., II, 5, p. 100f).

In particular, two favors were more loved by her than any others, as Gertrude herself writes: "The stigmata of your saving wounds that you engraved in me, as precious jewels, in the heart, and the profound and saving wound of love with which you marked me. You flooded me with so much joy with these gifts of yours that, even if I had to live a thousand years without any interior or exterior consolation, their memory would be enough to comfort me, illumine me, fill me with gratitude. You also wished to introduce me into the inestimable intimacy of your friendship, opening to me with many signs that most noble sanctuary of your divinity that is your Divine Heart [...] To this heap of benefits you added that of giving me as advocate the most holy Virgin Mary, your Mother, and of recommending me often to her affection as the most faithful of spouses could recommend to his own mother his beloved wife" (Ibid., II, 23, p. 145).

Turned toward the endless communion, she concluded her earthly life on Nov. 17, 1301 or 1302, at almost 46 years of age. In the Seventh Exercise, that of preparation for death, St. Gertrude writes: "O Jesus, you who are immensely loved by me, be always with me, so that my heart will remain with you and your love persevere with me without the possibility of division, and my passing be blessed by you, so that my spirit, free from the ties of the flesh, may immediately be able to find rest in you. Amen" (Esercizi, Milan, 2006, p. 148).

It seems obvious to me that these are not only historic things of the past, but that the existence of St. Gertrude continues to be a school of Christian life, of the straight path, which shows us that the center of a happy life, of a true life, is friendship with Jesus the Lord. And this friendship is learned in love for sacred Scripture, in love for the liturgy, in profound faith, in love for Mary, so that one will increasingly really know God himself and thus true happiness, the goal of our life. Thank you.

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today focuses on Saint Gertrude the Great, a remarkable figure associated with the monastery of Helfta, where so many masterpieces of religious literature were born. Saint Gertrude is the only woman of Germanic descent to be called "Great", an honour due to her exceptional natural and supernatural gifts. As a youth, Gertrude was intelligent, strong and decisive, but also impulsive. With humility she asked others for advice and prayer. Eventually, she experienced a deep conversion: in her studies she passed from worldly pursuits to the sacred sciences, and in her monastic observance she moved from concern with external things to a life of intense prayer. In her writings, she sought to explain the truths of the faith with clarity and simplicity, while not failing to develop spiritual themes associated with Divine Love. In her religious practice, she pursued prayer with devotion and faithful abandonment to God. Dear friends, may we learn from Saint Gertrude the Great how to love Christ and His Church with humility and faith, and to cultivate our personal prayer through an intense participation in the Holy Mass and the sacred liturgy.


On St. Matilda, God's Nightingale
"The Liturgy Is a Great School of Spirituality"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 29, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to speak to you about St. Matilda of Hackeborn, one of the great figures of the monastery of Helfta, who lived in the 13th century.

Her religious sister, St. Gertrude the Great, in Book VI of the work "Liber specialis gratiae" (Book of Special Grace), in which are narrated the special graces that God granted St. Matilda, says thus: "What we have written is very little compared with what we have omitted. Only for the glory of God and usefulness of our neighbor do we publish these things, because it would seem unjust to us to maintain silence about the many graces that Matilda received from God not so much for herself, it seems to us, but for us and for those who will come after us" (Matilda von Hackeborn, Liber specialis gratiae, VI, 1).

This work was written by St. Gertrude and by another sister of Helfta and it has a singular history. At the age of 50, Matilda was going through a grave spiritual crisis, together with physical sufferings. In these conditions she confided to two sister-friends the singular graces with which God had guided her since her childhood, but she did not know that they were writing it all down. When she found this out, she felt profoundly anguished and troubled. But the Lord consoled her, making her understand that what had been written was for the glory of God and the good of her neighbor (cf. Ibid., II,25; V,20). Therefore, this work is the main source from which to obtain information on the life and spirituality of our saint.

With her we introduce ourselves to the family of the Baron of Hackeborn, one of the most noble, rich and powerful families of Thuringia, related to emperor Frederick II, and we enter the monastery of Helfta in the most glorious period of its history. The baron had already given one daughter to the monastery, Gertrude of Hackeborn (1231/1232 - 1291/1292), gifted with an outstanding personality. [She was] abbess for 40 years, able to give a peculiar stamp to the monastery's spirituality, leading it to an extraordinary flowering as center of mysticism and culture, and a school of scientific and theological formation. Gertrude offered the nuns high intellectual instruction, which enabled them to cultivate a spirituality founded on sacred Scripture, on the liturgy, on the patristic tradition, on the Cistercian Rule and spirituality, with particular predilection for St. Bernard of Clairvaux and William of St. Thierry. She was a true teacher, exemplary in everything, in evangelical radicalism and apostolic zeal. Matilda, from her youth, received and enjoyed the spiritual and cultural climate created by her sister, adding later her personal stamp.

Matilda was born in 1241 or 1242 in the castle of Helfta; she was the baron's third daughter. When she was seven years old, she and her mother visited her sister Gertrude in the monastery of Rodersdorf. She was so fascinated by the environment that she ardently desired to be a part of it. She entered as a pupil and in 1258 she became a nun of the convent, which in the meantime had been moved to Helfta, on the property of the Hackeborn. She was outstanding for her humility, fervor, kindness, purity and innocence of life, the familiarity and intensity with which she lived her relationship with God, the Virgin and the saints. She was gifted with lofty natural and spiritual qualities, such as "science, intelligence, knowledge of human letters, a wonderfully soft voice: Everything made her adequate to be a real treasure for the monastery in all aspects" (Ibid., Proemio).

Thus, "God's nightingale" -- as she was called -- though very young, became the director of the monastery's school, director of the choir, and mistress of novices, services which she carried out with talent and tireless zeal, not only for the benefit of the nuns, but for all those who wished to appeal to her wisdom and goodness.

Enlightened by the divine gift of mystical contemplation, Matilda composed numerous prayers. She was a faithful teacher of doctrine and had great humility; she was a counselor, consoler, a guide in discernment: "She, one reads, "distributed doctrine with so much abundance as had ever been seen in the monastery and oh! we fear greatly that something similar will never be seen again. The nuns met with her to listen to the word of God, as they would a preacher. She was the refuge and consoler of all and she had, as a singular gift of God, the grace of revealing freely the secrets of each one's heart. Many people, not only in the monastery, but also strangers, religious and laymen, arriving from afar, attested that this holy virgin had freed them from their sorrows and that they had never experienced so much consolation as they did by her side. She also composed and taught so many prayers that if they were all collected they would surpass the volume of a psalter" (Ibid., VI, 1).

In 1261 a five-year-old girl named Gertrude arrived at the convent: She was entrusted to the care of Matilda, who was only 20, who educated and guided her in the spiritual life until she made of her not only her excellent disciple, but her confidant. In 1271 or 1272 Matilda of Magdeburg also entered the monastery. Hence the place received four great women -- two Gertrudes and two Matildas -- a glory of German monasticism.

In her long life spent in the monastery, Matilda endured constant and intense sufferings, to which she added the very harsh penances chosen for the conversion of sinners. In this way she took part in the Lord's passion until the end of her life (cf. Ibid., VI, 2). Prayer and contemplation were the vital soil of her existence: the revelations, her teachings, her service to her neighbor, her journey in faith and in love have their root and context here. In the first book of the work "Liber specialis gratiae," the writers gather Matilda's confidences indicated on the feasts of the Lord, of the saints and, especially, of the Blessed Virgin. Impressive is this saint's capacity to live the liturgy in its various components, including the simplest, bringing it into daily monastic life. Some images, expressions and applications perhaps are distant from our sensibility but, if one considers monastic life and her task of teacher and choir director, one notes her singular capacity as educator and formator, who helped the sisters to live intensely, from the liturgy, each moment of monastic life.

In liturgical prayer Matilda highlighted particularly the canonical hours, the celebration of holy Mass, above all holy Communion. At that moment she was often raised in ecstasy in profound intimacy with the Lord in his most ardent and gentle heart, in a stupendous dialogue, in which she prayed for interior illumination, while she interceded in a special way for her community and her sisters. At the center were the mysteries of Christ to which the Virgin Mary referred constantly in order to walk on the path of sanctity: "If you desire true sanctity, stay close to my Son; he is sanctity itself who sanctifies everything" (Ibid., I, 40). In her intimacy with God the whole world was present, the Church, benefactors, sinners. For her, heaven and earth were united.

Her visions, her teachings, the circumstances of her existence are described with expressions that evoke liturgical and biblical language. Hence one understands her profound knowledge of sacred Scripture, her daily bread. She takes recourse to it constantly, either savoring the biblical texts proclaimed in the liturgy, or using symbols, terms, landscapes, images and personages. Her predilection was for the Gospel: "The words of the Gospel were for her a wonderful nourishment and aroused in her heart feelings of such sweetness that often because of her enthusiasm she could not finish the reading. ... The way in which she read those words was so fervent that it aroused devotion in everyone. Likewise, when she sang in the choir, she was completely absorbed in God, transported by such ardor that at times she manifested her feelings with gestures. ... At others, raised in ecstasy, she did not hear those who called her or moved her and it was hard for her to recover the sense of exterior things" (Ibid., VI, 1).

In one of her visions, Jesus himself recommended the Gospel; opening to her the wound of his most gentle heart, he said to her: "Consider how great is my love: If you want to know it well, you will not find it expressed more clearly anywhere than in the Gospel. No one has ever expressed stronger or more tender feelings than these: As my Father has loved me, so have I loved you (John 15:9)" (Ibid., I, 22).

Dear friends, personal and liturgical prayer, especially the liturgy of the hours and holy Mass, are the root of the spiritual experience of St. Matilda of Hackeborn. Allowing herself to be guided by sacred Scripture and to be nourished by the Eucharistic Bread, she followed a path of intimate union with the Lord, always in full fidelity to the Church. This is for us also a strong invitation to intensify our friendship with the Lord, above all through daily prayer and attentive, faithful and active participation in the holy Mass. The liturgy is a great school of spirituality.

Her disciple Gertrude describes with intense expressions the last moments of the life of St. Matilda of Hackeborn, very harsh, but illumined by the presence of the most Blessed Trinity, of the Lord, of the Virgin, of all the saints, and also of her blood sister Gertrude. When the hour arrived in which the Lord wanted to take her with him, she asked him to be able to live a bit longer in suffering for the salvation of souls, and Jesus was pleased with this further sign of love.

Matilda was 58 years old. She lived the last stretch of her journey characterized by eight years of grave illnesses. Her work and her reputation for holiness spread widely. When her hour arrived, "the God of Majesty ... only sweetness of the soul that loves him ... sang to her: 'Venite vos, benedicti Patris mei' ... Come you blessed of my Father, come to receive the kingdom ... and he associated her to his glory" (Ibid., VI, 8).

St. Matilda of Hackeborn entrusts us to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Virgin Mary. She invites us to praise the Son with the heart of the Mother and to praise Mary with the heart of the Son. "I greet you, O most venerated Virgin, in that most gentle dew, which from the heart of the Most Blessed Trinity was diffused in you; I greet you in the glory and the joy with which you now rejoice eternally, you who, preferred to all the creatures of earth and heaven, were chosen even before the creation of the world! Amen" (Ibid., I, 45).

[At the end of the audience, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis today, we focus on the life of Saint Matilda of Hackeborn, one of several important thirteenth-century figures of the convent of Helfta in Saxony. Entering there at an early age, Matilda was formed in an intensely spiritual and intellectual atmosphere founded upon Sacred Scripture, the liturgy, and the patristic tradition. This climate, along with the gift of divine illumination that she received through her mystical contemplation, enabled her to compose numerous prayers and be of counsel and consolation to many. Distinguished by her humility and intelligence, and by the intensity with which she lived her relationship with God and the saints, Matilda became the director of the convent’s novices, its choir, and its school. In this way she also became the spiritual guide of Saint Gertrude the Great, another important figure of Germanic monasticism. Dear friends, Saint Matilda’s life of prayer, guided by Sacred Scripture and nourished by the Holy Eucharist, led her to an intimate union with Christ, expressed in her devotion to his Sacred Heart. May we too grow in that devotion, through the power of her intercession.


Benedict XVI's Good-Bye to Castel Gandolfo
May St. Vincent de Paul Inspire a "Renewed Commitment of Solidarity"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the farewell address Benedict XVI gave today to civil and religious authorities of Castel Gandolfo, as well as to others who work at the papal summer residence there.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before leaving Castel Gandolfo at the end of the summer, I am happy to meet with all of you who represent the ecclesial and civil community of this pleasant city that I so love, where Providence grants me every year to spend a peaceful and fruitful stay.

First of all, my fraternal greeting and cordial gratitude go to the bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro, a greeting I extend to the whole diocese, which I follow with special affection in prayer in its life of faith and Christian witness. I also greet the parish priest of Castel Gandolfo and the parish community, together with the various men's and women's religious institutes that live and work here to joyfully serve the Gospel and the brethren.

I address a deferent greeting to the Lord Mayor and to the members of the Communal Administration, expressing once again my sincere gratitude for the indispensable contribution they make, each in their own responsibilities, so that Castel Gandolfo can adequately receive the numerous pilgrims who come here from all parts of the world. Through you, I wish to communicate to your fellow citizens my heartfelt appreciation for the well-known courtesy and solicitous attention with which they surround me and follow my activities at the service of the universal Church.

I would also like to cordially thank the directors and all the members of the Services of the Governorate, beginning with the police corps, the florists, the health department and technical services, as well as the Swiss Papal Guard. Dear friends, I express to all of you a special "thanks" for the solicitude and professionalism with which you worked to meet my needs, those of my collaborators, and those of all who, during these summer months, have come to Castello to visit me. I assure each one of you and your families of my constant remembrance in prayer.

A heartfelt thought of gratitude also goes to the employees and agents of the different Italian security forces, for their reliable and efficient work, as well as the officers and pilots of the 31st Squadron of Military Aeronautics. I thank God and I am grateful to all of you, because everything was carried out always in order and tranquility.

In taking leave of you, I wish to entrust to your consideration the figure of St. Vincent de Paul, whose memorial we celebrate today. This apostle of charity, so loved by the Christian people and known especially through the sisters founded by him, was proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII "universal patron of all works of charity spread throughout the world." With his incessant apostolic action, he made the Gospel become increasingly a luminous beacon of hope and love for the men of his time and, in particular, for the poorest in body and spirit. May his virtuous example and his intercession inspire in your communities and in each one of you a renewed commitment of solidarity, so that the efforts of each one may cooperate in the building of the common good.

I accompany this cordial greeting with the assurance of my remembrance to the Lord, so that he will assist you all and your families with his grace and fill you with abundant consolations. I thank you again, dear friends, and bless you from my heart.


Papal Message for Pilgrimages and Shrines Conference
"The Eucharist Is Indeed the Pilgrim's Nourishment"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the message Benedict XVI addressed to the 2nd World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Pilgrimages and Shrines, which began today in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and will end Thursday.

* * *

To Our Venerable Brothers,
Most Rev. Antonio Maria Vegliò,
President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People,
and Most Rev. Julián Barrio Barrio,
Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela,

On the occasion of the Second World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Pilgrimages and Shrines, to be held in Santiago de Compostela from September 27-30, I wish to express my cordial greetings to you which I extend to our venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, the members of the Fraternal Delegation, the participants in this important meeting, and the civil Authorities who collaborated in the preparation of the Congress. I also express my deferential greetings to His Majesty the King of Spain who has honored this initiative by accepting its Honorary Presidency.
With the theme, "So he went in to stay with them" (Lk 24:29), taken from the Gospel passage of the disciples of Emmaus, you are preparing to study in depth the importance of pilgrimages to the shrines as a manifestation of Christian life and a space of evangelization.

With great pleasure I would like to express my spiritual closeness to the congress participants to encourage and accompany them in carrying out a pastoral task of such great importance in ecclesial life. I will personally make a pilgrimage soon to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James, the "Lord's friend", in the same way that I have made my way to other places in the world which many of the faithful visit with fervent devotion. In this regard, from the beginning of my pontificate, I have wanted to live my ministry as the Successor of Peter with the sentiments of a pilgrim who travels over the roads of the world with hope and simplicity bringing on his lips and in his heart the saving message of the Risen Christ, and strengthening his brothers in faith (cf. Lk 22:32). As an explicit sign of this mission, my coat-of-arms includes the pilgrim's shell, among other elements.

In these historic moments in which we are called, with greater force if possible, to evangelize our world, the riches offered to us by the pilgrimage to shrines should be highlighted. First of all, for its great ability to summon and bring together a growing number of pilgrims and religious tourists, some of whom are in complicated human and spiritual situations, somewhat distant from living the faith and with a weak ecclesial affiliation. Christ speaks to all of them with love and hope. The desire for happiness that is imbedded in the soul finds its answer in Him, and human suffering together with Him has a meaning. With his grace, the noblest causes also find their complete fulfillment. As Simeon met with Christ in the temple (cf. Lk 2:25-35), so too a pilgrim should have the opportunity to discover the Lord in the shrine.

For this purpose, efforts should be made so that visitors may not forget that shrines are sacred places in order to be in them with devotion, respect and propriety. In this way, the Word of Christ, the Son of the living God, can ring out clearly, and the event of his death and resurrection, the foundation of our faith, can be proclaimed completely. Very careful attention should also be given to welcoming the pilgrims, by highlighting, among other elements, the dignity and beauty of the shrine, the image of "God's dwelling... with the human race" (Rev 21:3), the moments and spaces for both personal and community prayer, and attention to devotional practices. In the same way, it can never be stressed enough that shrines should be lighthouses of charity, with unceasing dedication to the neediest through concrete works of solidarity and mercy, and constant readiness to listen, favoring in particular the faithful's reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and taking part worthily in the Eucharistic celebration, making this the center and apex of all the pastoral activity of the shrines. In this way it will be made manifest that the Eucharist is indeed the pilgrim's nourishment, the "Sacrament of the God who does not leave us alone on the journey but stays at our side and shows us the way" (Homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, May 22, 2008).

In fact, different from a wanderer whose steps have no established final destination, a pilgrim always has a destination, even if at times he is not explicitly aware of it. And this destination is none other than the encounter with God through Christ in whom all our aspirations find their response. For this reason, the celebration of the Eucharist can really be considered the culmination of the pilgrimage.

As "God's co-workers" (1 Co 3:9), I exhort all of you to be dedicated to this beautiful mission so that through your pastoral care, you will favor in pilgrims the knowledge and imitation of Christ who continues to walk with us, enlighten our lives with his Word, and share with us the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. In this way, the pilgrimage to the shrine will be a favorable occasion to strengthen the desire in those who visit it to share the wonderful experience with others of knowing they are loved by God and sent to the world to give witness to that love.

With these sentiments, I entrust the fruits of this Congress to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostle James as I direct my prayer to Jesus Christ, "the Way and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6), to whom I present all those who seek His face as they peregrinate through life:

Lord Jesus Christ, pilgrim of Emmaus,
you make yourself close to us for love,
even if, at times, discouragement and sadness
prevent us from discovering your presence.
You are the flame that revives our faith.
You are the light that purifies our hope.
You are the force that stirs our charity.
Teach us to recognize you in the Word,
in the house and on the Table where the Bread of Life is shared,
in generous service to our suffering neighbor.
And when evening falls, Lord, help us to say:
"Stay with us". Amen.
I impart to all the implored Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of abundant celestial graces.

The Vatican, September 8, 2010.


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Love With a Capital "L"
"Our Eternal Destiny Is Conditioned by Our Attitude"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 26, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and the poor man named Lazarus. The first one lives in luxury and self-concern, and when he dies, ends up in hell. But the poor man, who ate the scraps from the rich man’s table, is carried by the angels to the eternal dwelling of God and the saints. “Blessed are you poor,” the Lord proclaimed to his disciples, “because yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20).

But the message of the parable goes further: It points out that while we are in this world we must listen to the Lord who speaks to us through the Scriptures and live according to his will, because, after death, it will be too late to make amends. So, this parable tells us two things: The first is that he loves the poor and lifts them up from their humiliation; the second is that our eternal destiny is conditioned by our attitude; it is up to us to follow the road to life that God has shown us, and this is the road of love, not understood as sentiment but as service to others in the charity of Christ.

By a happy coincidence, tomorrow we celebrate the liturgical memorial of St. Vincent de Paul, the patron of Catholic charitable organizations; the 300th anniversary of his death will be celebrated. In the France of the 1600s, he touched with his own hand the great contrast between the richest and the poorest. In fact, as a priest, he was in the habit of frequenting not only the aristocratic circles, but also the countryside and the Paris slums.

Driven by the love of Christ, Vincent de Paul knew how to organize stable forms of service to marginalized persons, creating the so-called Charitées (charities), that is, groups of women who placed their time and goods at the service of the most marginalized. Among these volunteers, some chose to consecrate themselves totally to God, and thus, together with St. Luise de Marillac, St. Vincent founded the Daughters of Charity, the first women’s congregation to live their consecration “in the world,” in the midst of the people, with the sick and the needy.

Dear friends, only Love with a capital “L” makes for true happiness! This is also demonstrated by another witness, a young woman, who was proclaimed blessed here in Rome. I am speaking of Chiara Badano, an Italian girl born in 1971, who was led to death by an illness when she was a little less than 19 years old, but who was a ray of light for everyone, as her nickname, “Chiara Luce” (clear light), tells us. Her parish, the Diocese of Acqui Terme and the Focolare Movement, which she belonged to, are celebrating today -- and it is a festive day for all young people who can find in her an example of consistent Christianity.

Her last words, of complete adherence to the will of God, were: “Bye-bye Mamma. Be happy because I am.” Let us praise God because his love is stronger than evil and death; and let us thank the Virgin Mary, who guides young people, through difficulties and sufferings too, to fall in love with Jesus and discover the beauty of life.

[Following the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in several languages. Here are some of the remarks he made in Italian:]

I am happy to welcome, from various countries, the large group of Daughters of Charity, priests of the mission and laypeople of the Vincentian associations as well as the Brothers of the Society of the Catholic Apostolate (Pallottines).

Dear friends, if it pleases God, on Thursday I will return to Rome; so, as I wish you all a good Sunday I also address a cordial “till we meet again” to the community of Castel Gandolfo.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English the Holy Father said:]

I am very pleased to welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present here this morning! In today’s Gospel, the story of the rich man and Lazarus is held up to us as a warning to have a special care for the poor in all circumstances. As followers of our blessed Lord, let us always look to others first, before we look to our own comfort. God’s abundant blessings upon you all!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Letter on 7th World Family Meeting in '12
Christian Families of the Whole World Should Feel Involved

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 26, 2010 - Here is a translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for the Family regarding the 7th World Meeting of Families, which will be held in 2012 in Italy.

The Aug. 23 letter was released by the Vatican on Friday.

* * *

Venerable Brother,

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli,

President of the Pontifical Council for the Family,

At the conclusion of the 6th World Meeting of Families, which took place in Mexico City in 2009, I announced that the next gathering of Catholic families from around the world with the Successor of Peter would take place in Milan in 2012 and have as its theme “Family: Work and Celebration.” Desiring now to initiate the preparation of such an important event, I am happy to specify that, if it pleases God, it will take place from May 30 to June 3, and also to furnish some more detailed indications about the topic and the unfolding of the event.

Work and celebration are intimately connected in the life of families: they condition choices, influence relations between married couples and between parents and children, affect the relation of families with society and with the Church. Holy Scripture (cf. Genesis 1-2) tells us that the family, work and the feast day are gifts and blessings of God to help us to live a fully human existence. Daily experience attests that the authentic development of the person includes the individual, familial, and communal dimension, activities and functional relationships, as well as openness to hope and to the Good without limits.

In our days, unfortunately, the organization of labor, conceived and realized in function of market competition and maximizing profit, and the concept of feast as an occasion for escape and consumption, contribute to the break-up of the family and the community and to the spreading of an individualistic lifestyle. Thus, it is necessary to promote reflection and efforts at reconciling the demands and the periods of work with those of the family and to recover the true meaning of the feast, especially on Sunday, the weekly Easter, the day of the Lord and the day of man, the day of the family, of the community and of solidarity.

The next World Meeting of Families constitutes a privileged occasion to rethink work and celebration in the perspective of a united family open to life, well integrated into society and the Church, attentive to the quality of the relationships and to the economy of the family unit itself. If the event is to be truly fruitful, it must not remain isolated, but must connect to an adequate journey of ecclesial and cultural formation. It is my wish, therefore, that already in the course of 2011, the 30th anniversary of the apostolic exhortation “Familiaris consortio,” the great charter of family pastoral care, might be taken as a valid guide with initiatives at the parish, diocesan and national level, aimed at throwing light on experiences of work and celebration in their truest and most positive aspects, with particular regard to the effect on the concrete life of families. Christian families and ecclesial communities of the whole world should thus feel called and involved and enter solicitously onto the path toward “Milan 2012.”

The 7th World Meeting, like the preceding ones, will take place over five days and will culminate Saturday evening with the “Feast of Witnesses” and Sunday morning with the Solemn Mass. These two celebrations over which I will preside will see everyone gathered together as “family of families.” The whole unfolding of the event will be guided in such a way as to completely harmonize the various dimensions: communal prayer, theological and pastoral reflection, moments of fraternity and exchange among the families, hosted by local families, and media events.

Until then, may the Lord recompense with abundant heavenly favors the Archdiocese of St. Ambrose for its generous availability and organizing efforts at the service of the Universal Church and the families of many nations.

As I invoke the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, dedicated to daily work and assiduous in the festal celebrations of their people, I impart to you, venerable brother, and to your collaborators the apostolic benediction that, with special affection, I gladly extend to all the families engaged in the preparation of the great meeting in Milan.

From Castel Gandolfo, August 23, 2010


On Clare of Assisi
"The Whole Church Is Indebted to Courageous Women"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 15, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience held in Paul VI Hall.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

One of the most beloved saints is without a doubt St. Clare of Assisi, who lived in the 13th century and was a contemporary of St. Francis. Her testimony shows us how the whole Church is indebted to courageous women rich in faith like her, capable of giving decisive impetus to the renewal of the Church.

Then who was Clare of Assisi? To respond to this question we have reliable sources: Not only the ancient biographies, such as that of Thomas of Celano, but also the acts from the canonization process promoted by the Pope only a few months after Clare's death, which contain the testimonies of those who lived with her for a long time.

Born in 1193, Clare belonged to a wealthy aristocratic family. She gave up nobility and wealth to live poorly and humbly, adopting the way of life proposed by St. Francis of Assisi. Although her family was planning her marriage to an important personality -- as was the practice in that time -- with a bold gesture inspired by her profound desire to follow Christ and her admiration for Francis, Clare left her family home when she was 18 and, accompanied by a friend, Bona di Guelfuccio, she secretly met the Friars Minor in the small church of the Portiuncula. It was the afternoon of Palm Sunday of 1211.

Amid general shock, a highly symbolic gesture took place: While his companions held lighted torches in their hands, Francis cut her hair and Clare was clothed in a coarse penitential habit. From that moment she became the virgin bride of Christ, humble and poor, and she consecrated herself totally to him. Over the course of history innumerable women like Clare and her companions have been fascinated by Christ who, in the beauty of his Divine Person, fills their hearts. And the entire Church, through the mystic nuptial vocation of consecrated virgins, shows what she will always be: the beautiful and pure Bride of Christ.

In one of the four letters that Clare sent to St. Agnes of Prague, the daughter of the king of Bohemia who wished to follow in her footsteps, she speaks of Christ, her beloved Spouse, with nuptial expressions, which might be surprising, but which are moving: "Loving him, you are chaste, touching him, you will be more pure, letting yourself be possessed by him you are virgin. His power is stronger, his generosity loftier, his appearance more beautiful, his love gentler and all grace finer. Now you are enfolded in his arms, he who has adorned your breast with precious stones ... and has crowned you with a crown of gold marked with the sign of sanctity" (First letter: FF, 2862).

Above all at the beginning of her religious experience, Clare had in Francis of Assisi not only a teacher whose instruction she would follow, but also a fraternal friend. The friendship between these two saints is a very beautiful and important element. In fact, when two pure souls meet, inflamed by the same love of God, they draw from their mutual friendship a very strong stimulus to undertake the way of perfection. Friendship is one of the noble and lofty human sentiments that divine grace purifies and transfigures. Like St. Francis and St. Clare, other saints have also experienced a profound friendship on the same path toward Christian perfection, such as St. Francis de Sales and St. Jane Frances de Chantal. And it is precisely St. Francis de Sales who writes: "It is lovely to be able to love on earth as one loves in heaven, and to learn to love one another in this world as we will eternally in the next. I am not speaking here of the simple love of charity, because we must have this for all people; I am speaking of spiritual friendship, in the ambit of which two, three or more persons exchange devotion, spiritual affections, and truly become one spirit" (Introduction to the Devout Life, III, 19).

After spending a period of some months in other monastic communities, resisting the pressures of her relatives who in the beginning did not approve of her choice, Clare established herself with her first companions in the church of San Damiano, where the Friars Minor had prepared a small convent for them. She lived in that monastery for more than 40 years, until her death, which occurred in 1253. A firsthand description has come down to us of how these women lived in those years at the beginning of the Franciscan movement. It is a report full of admiration from a Flemish bishop, James of Vitry, on a visit to Italy, who states that he met a great number of men and women, of all social classes, who "leaving everything for Christ, fled from the world. They are called Friars Minor and Sisters Minor and are held in great regard by the Lord Pope and by the cardinals. ... The women ... dwell together in various hospices not far from cities. They do not receive anything, but live from the work of their hands. And they are pained and profoundly disturbed because they are honored more than they would like, by clerics and laity" (Letter of October 1216: FF, 2205.2007).

James of Vitry keenly understood a characteristic trait of Franciscan spirituality about which Clare was very sensitive: radical poverty associated with total trust in Divine Providence. Because of this, she acted with great determination, obtaining from Pope Gregory IX or, probably already from Pope Innocent III, the so-called Privilegium Paupertatis (cf. FF, 3279). Based on this, Clare and her companions of San Damiano could not own any material property. It was truly an extraordinary exception in regard to existing canon law, and the ecclesiastical authorities of that time granted it, appreciating the fruits of evangelical sanctity that they recognized in the way that Clare and her sisters lived. This also shows that in the Medieval centuries, the role of women was not secondary but rather was considerable. In this regard, it is appropriate to recall that Clare was the first woman in the history of the Church who composed a written rule, subject to the Pope's approval, so that the charism of Francis of Assisi would be preserved in all the feminine communities that were being established already in great numbers in her time, and that wished to be inspired in Francis' and Clare's example.

In the convent of San Damiano, Clare practiced heroically the virtues that should distinguish every Christian: humility, a spirit of piety and penance, charity. Even though she was the superior, she wished to serve the sick sisters herself, subjecting herself also to very humble tasks: Charity, in fact, overcomes all resistance and one who loves makes every sacrifice with joy. Her faith in the Real Presence in the Eucharist was so great that on two occasions, prodigious events were witnessed. With the exposition of the Most Blessed Sacrament alone, she succeeded in repelling the Saracen mercenary soldiers who were about to attack the convent of San Damiano and devastate Assisi.

These episodes, like other miracles about which records were kept, drove Pope Alexander IV to canonize her only two years after her death, in 1255, sketching a eulogy of her in the bull of canonization in which we read: "How vivid is the force of this light and how strong is the clarity of this luminous source. Truly, this light was enclosed in the retreat of the cloistered life, and outside it radiated luminous brilliance; it was recollected in a small monastery, and expanded outside throughout the vast world. It was kept inside and spread outside. Clare, in fact, hid herself, but her life was revealed to all. Clare was silent, but her fame cried out" (FF, 3284).

And this is precisely the way of things, dear friends: It is the saints who change the world for the better, they transform it in a lasting way, injecting in it energies that only love inspired by the Gospel can arouse. The saints are the great benefactors of humanity!

St. Clare's spirituality, the synthesis of her proposal of sanctity, is gathered in the fourth letter to St. Agnes of Prague. St. Clare uses the image of the mirror, which was a very widespread image in the Middle Ages, rooted in the patristics. And she invites her Prague friend to look at herself in that mirror of perfection of every virtue, which is the Lord himself. She writes: "Happy certainly is she who is granted to enjoy this sacred union, to adhere with the depth of the heart [to Christ], to the One whose beauty all the blessed multitudes of the heavens admire incessantly, whose affection impassions, whose contemplation restores, whose goodness satiates, whose gentleness fills, whose memory shines gently, from whose perfume the dead will return to life and whose glorious vision will make blessed all the citizens of the heavenly Jerusalem. And given that he is the splendor of glory, pure whiteness of the eternal light and spotless mirror, look every day in this mirror, oh queen, bride of Jesus Christ, and scrutinize continually in him his face, so that you will thus be able to adorn yourself completely within and without ... shining in this mirror are blessed poverty, holy humility and ineffable charity" (Fourth Letter: FF, 2901-2903).

Thankful to God who has given us the saints who speak to our heart and provide us an example of Christian life to imitate, I would like to conclude with the same words of blessing that St. Clare composed for her sisters and that still today the Poor Clares, who carry out a valuable role in the Church with their prayer and their work, keep with great devotion. They are an expression from which arises all the tenderness of her spiritual maternity: "I bless you in my life and after my death, as I can and more than I can, with all the blessings with which the Father of mercies blesses and will bless in heaven and on earth his sons and daughters, and with which a spiritual father and a spiritual mother bless and will bless their spiritual sons and daughters. Amen" (FF, 2856).

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Our catechesis today deals with Saint Clare of Assisi, the great mystic, friend of Saint Francis and foundress of the Poor Clare Nuns. Born to a family of means, Clare chose to embrace a life of radical poverty, chastity and trust in God's providence; received by Francis, she consecrated herself completely to Christ and, together with her companions, embraced the common life in the Church of San Damiano in Assisi. The spiritual friendship between Clare and Francis reminds us of how the great saints have found in such friendships a powerful impetus to greater love of Christ and renewed strength in the pursuit of the way of perfection. Clare's Rule, the first written by a woman, sought to preserve and foster the Franciscan charism in the growing number of women's communities which followed the example of Francis and her own. Her spirituality, nourished by the Eucharist, was based on the loving contemplation of Christ as the source and perfection of every virtue. Saint Clare shows us the value of consecrated virginity as an image of the Church's love for her divine Spouse, and the decisive role played by courageous and faith-filled women to the Church's renewal in every age.



Pope's Address to German Envoy
"Marriage Is ... Between a Man and a Woman"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 13, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the letters of credence of Walter Jürgen Schmid, the new German ambassador to the Holy See.

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Mr. Ambassador,

I am pleased to take advantage of the occasion of the solemn handing of the Letters of Credence that accredit you as ambassador extraordinary and plenipotentiary of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Holy See, to welcome you and to express my best wishes for your high mission. My heartfelt thanks for the kind words you addressed to me, also in the name of the federal president, Mr. Christian Wulff, and of the federal government. I am pleased to extend the greeting of blessing to the head of state, to the members of the government and to all the citizens of Germany, with the hope that the good relations between the Holy See and the Federal Republic of Germany will continue in the future and develop further.

Many Christians in Germany are looking forward with great attention to the imminent celebrations of the beatifications of several martyr priests of the time of the Nazi regime. This Sunday, Sept. 19, Gerhard Hirschfelder will be beatified in Munster. During the coming year ceremonies will follow for Georg Hafner in Wurzburg, in addition to those for Johannes Prassek, Hermann Lange and Eduard Muller in Lubeck. Commemorated also with the chaplains of Lubeck will be Evangelical pastor Karl Friedrich Stellbrink. The attested friendship of the four ecclesiastics is an impressive testimony of the ecumenism of prayer and suffering, flowering in several places during the dark period of the Nazi terror. We can see these testimonies as luminous indications for a common ecumenical path.

Contemplating the figures of these martyrs, it seems ever clearer and exemplary how certain men are willing, given their Christian conviction, to give their own life for the faith, for the right to exercise freely their own creed and liberty of speech, for peace and human dignity. Today, fortunately, we live in a free and democratic society.

At the same time, however, we observe how among our contemporaries, there is no strong attachment to religion, as in the case of these witnesses of the faith. One might ask if there are today Christians that, without compromises, make themselves guarantors of their own faith. On the contrary, many show a general inclination toward permissive religious conceptions also for themselves. Instead of the Christian's personal God, who reveals himself in the Bible, they posit a supreme, mysterious and indeterminate being, who has only a vague relationship with the human being's personal life.

Such conceptions increasingly animate discussion within the society, especially in regard to the realm of justice and legislation. However, if one abandons faith in a personal God, the alternative arises of a "god" who does not know, does not listen and does not speak. And, more than ever before, does not have a will. If God does not have his own will, in the end good and evil are not distinguished, good and evil are no longer in contradiction to one another, but are in an opposition in which one is complementary of the other. Thus man loses his moral and spiritual strength, necessary for the complete development of the person. Social action is dominated increasingly by private interest or by the calculation of power, at the expense of society.

Instead, if God is a Person -- and the order of creation as well as the presence of Christians of conviction in society is a sign of this -- it follows that an order of values is legitimized. There are signs, which can also be found in recent times, that give proof of the development of new relations between the state and religion, also beyond the great Christian Churches which up to now were determinant. Hence, in this situation Christians have the task of following this development positively and critically, in addition to refining the senses for the fundamental and permanent importance of Christianity, in laying the bases and forming the structures of our culture.

However, the Church sees with concern the growing attempt to eliminate the Christian concept of marriage and the family from the conscience of society. Marriage is manifested as a lasting union of love between a man and a woman, which is also directed to the transmission of human life. One of its conditions is the willingness of the spouses to relate one to the other forever. Necessary, because of this, is a certain maturity of the person and a fundamental existential and social attitude: a "culture of the person" as my predecessor John Paul II once said. The existence of this culture of the person depends also on social developments.

It can be seen that in a society the culture of the person is lowered; often it is derived, paradoxically, from the growth of the standard of life. In the preparation and support of the spouses, it is necessary to create the basic conditions to build-up and develop this culture. At the same time we must be aware that the success of marriages depends on all of us, on the personal culture of each citizen. In this connection, the Church cannot approve legislative initiatives that imply a reappraisal of alternative models of the life of a couple and of the family. These contribute to the weakening of the principles of the Natural Law and thus to relativizing the whole of legislation and also to confusion on the values in society.

It is a principle of the Christian faith, anchored in Natural Law, that the human person be protected precisely in a situation of weakness. The human being always has priority in regard to other objectives. The new possibilities of biotechnology and medicine often put us in difficult situations that seem to walk on the razor's edge. We have the duty to study diligently to what point these methods can be of help to man and where, instead, it is a question of the manipulation of man, of violation of his integrity and dignity. We cannot reject this progress, but we must be very diligent. Once one begins to distinguish -- and this now happens often in the maternal womb -- between a worthy life and a life unworthy of living, no other phase of life will be safe, and even less so old age and infirmity.

The construction of a human society requires fidelity to truth. In this context, lately, certain phenomena that are operating in the realm of the public media make one reflect: being in an ever greater competition, the media feel driven to arouse the greatest possible attention. In addition, there is the contrast made by the news in general, even if it goes against the veracity of the report. The subject becomes particularly problematic when authoritative persons take a public position in this respect, without being able to confirm the aspects adequately. The attempt of the federal government to be involved in these cases, in so far as possible, in a pondered and pacifying way, is received favorably.

Mr. Ambassador, you have my best wishes for your work and for the contacts you will have with representatives of the Roman Curia, with the diplomatic corps and also with priests, religious and lay faithful involved in ecclesial activities who live here in Rome. I implore from my heart for you, for your distinguished consort, for your men and women collaborators in the embassy an abundant divine blessing.


On the Parables of Mercy
"Although Being Sinners, We Are Loved by God"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 12, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday's Gospel -- Chapter 15 of St. Luke -- Jesus tells the three "parables of mercy." When he "speaks of the shepherd who goes after the lost sheep, of the woman who looks for the lost coin, of the father who goes to meet and embrace his prodigal son, these are no mere words: They constitute an explanation of his very being and activity" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 12). In fact, the shepherd who finds the lost sheep is the Lord himself who takes sinful humanity upon himself, with the cross, to redeem it. The prodigal son, then, in the third parable, is a young man who, having obtained his inheritance from his father, "travels to a distant country and squanders it living a dissolute life" (Luke 15:13).

Reduced to poverty, he is forced to work as a slave, even feeding himself with the food for the animals. "Then," the Gospel says, "he came to his senses" (Luke 15:17). "The speech he prepares for his homecoming reveals the full extent of the inner pilgrimage he is now making … he returns 'home,' to himself and to the father" (Benedict XVI, "Jesus of Nazareth," San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2008. Translation slightly modified). "I shall get up and go to my father and I shall say to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I no longer deserve to be called your son; treat me as you would treat one of your hired workers.'" St. Augustine writes: "It is the Word himself who calls to you to return; the place of imperturbable quiet is where love does not know abandonment" ("Confessions," IV, 11). "When he was still a long way off his father saw him and had compassion, and he ran to meet him, he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him" (Luke 15:20), and filled with joy he had a feast prepared.

Dear friends, how can we not open our heart to the certainty that, although being sinners, we are loved by God? He never tires to come to meet us, he is the first to take to the road that separates us from him. The book of Exodus shows us how Moses, with confident and audacious supplication, succeeded in moving God, so to say, from the throne of judgment to the throne of mercy (cf. 32:7-11, 13-14). Repentance is the measure of faith and thanks to it one returns to the Truth. St. Paul writes: "I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance, far from the faith" (1 Timothy 1:13). Returning to the parable of the son who returns "home," we note that when the older brother appears indignant over the festive welcome given his brother, it is always the father who goes to meet him and plead with him: "Son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours" (Luke 15:31). Only faith can transform egotism into joy and restore right relations with our neighbor and with God. "We must celebrate and rejoice," the father says, "for this brother of yours … was lost and has been found" (Luke 15:32).

Dear brothers, on Thursday I will travel to the United Kingdom, where I will proclaim Cardinal John Henry Newman blessed. I ask everyone to accompany me with prayer on this apostolic voyage. To the Virgin Mary, whose most holy name is celebrated today by the Church, I entrust our path of conversion to God.

[Following the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in several languages. In Italian. he said:]

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today in Granada, Spain the Capuchin brother Leopoldo de Alpandeire, whose original name was Francisco Sánchez Márquez, is being proclaimed blessed. I rejoice with the Franciscan family who is seeing this brother of theirs added to the numerous ranks of their saints and blessed.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[In English he said:]

I welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially the Bishops taking part in the ecumenical meeting sponsored by the Focolare Movement. I also greet the young people of the Don Bosco Oratory from Victoria, Gozo, Malta, and the Friends of the John Paul II Foundation from Saudi Arabia. I thank the members of the parish choir from Slovenia for their praise of God in song. In today's Gospel Jesus speaks of the rejoicing in heaven which accompanies the return of sinners to the house of the Father. May his words encourage us to trust always in God's merciful love and forgiveness. Upon all of you I invoke the Lord's abundant blessings!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Evangelization Seminar
"In Every Task You Are Sustained by the Holy Spirit"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 12, 2010 Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the new bishops participating in a seminar on evangelization, organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

I am glad to welcome you and greet you with great affection on the occasion of the refresher course that the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples has organized for you, recently appointed bishops. These days of reflection in Rome, to reflect on the tasks of your ministry and to renew the profession of your faith at the tomb of St. Peter, are also a singular experience of collegiality, founded on episcopal ordination and the hierarchical communion. May this experience of fraternity, of prayer and study at the Apostolic See increase in each one of you the communion with the Successor of Peter and with your confreres with whom you share solicitude for the whole Church. I thank Cardinal Ivan Dias for his cordial words and also Monsignor Secretary and Monsignor Adjunct Secretary who, together with their co-workers in the dicastery organized this symposium.

In you, dear brothers, called a short time ago to the episcopal ministry, the Church places no small amount of hope, and she follows you with prayer and affection. I too would like to assure you of my spiritual nearness in your daily service to the Gospel. I know the challenges that you must face, especially in the Christian communities who live their faith in difficult contexts, where, besides various forms of poverty, there are often various forms of persecution because of their Christian faith. You have the task of nourishing their hope, of sharing their difficulties, taking inspiration from the charity of Christ, which consists in attention, tenderness, compassion, acceptance, availability and interest in the problems of the people, for whom you are disposed to give your life (cf. Benedict XVI, "Message for World Missionary Day 2008," No. 2).

In every task you are sustained by the Holy Spirit, who in ordination configured you to Christ, the Eternal High Priest. In fact, the episcopal ministry can only be understood in Christ, the source of the one and supreme Priesthood in which the bishop participates. The bishop "will therefore strive to adopt a lifestyle which imitates the kenosis of Christ, the poor and humble servant, so that the exercise of his pastoral ministry will be a consistent reflection of Jesus, the Servant of God, and will help him to become, like Jesus, close to everyone, from the greatest to the least" (John Paul II, "Pastores Gregis," No. 11). But to imitate Christ it is necessary to dedicate an adequate amount of time to "being with him" and contemplating him in prayerful intimacy of a heart to heart conversation. Being frequently in the presence of God, being a man of prayer and adoration: the pastor is called to this first of all. Through prayer, as the Letter to the Hebrews says, he becomes victim and altar, for the salvation of the world (cf. 9:11-14). The life of the bishop must be a continual oblation to God for the salvation of his Church, and especially for the salvation of the souls that have been entrusted to him.

This pastoral sacrificial spirit also constitutes the true dignity of the bishop: it derives from making himself the servant of all to the point of giving up his life. The episcopate, in fact, must never be understood in worldly categories. It is a service of love. The bishop is called to serve the Church in the fashion of the God made man, becoming ever more fully the servant of the Lord and the servant of humanity. He is above all the servant and the minister of the Word of God, who is also his true strength. The primary duty of proclamation, accompanied by the celebration of the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, flows from the mission received, as the apostolic exhortation "Pastores Gregis" emphasizes: "If the duty of proclaiming the Gospel is incumbent upon the whole Church and each of her children, it is particularly so upon bishops, who on the day of their sacred ordination, which places them in apostolic succession, assume as one of their principal responsibilities the proclamation of the Gospel 'with the courage imparted by the Spirit, they are to call people to faith and strengthen them in living faith'" (No. 26). The bishop must nourish himself abundantly with this Word of salvation, listening to it constantly, as St. Augustine says: "Even if we are shepherds ('pastori'), the shepherd hears with trembling not only what is said to the shepherds but what is addressed to the flock" (Sermon 47, No. 2). At the same time receptivity and the fruit of proclamation of the Good News are closely linked to the quality of faith and prayer. Those called to the ministry of proclamation must believe in the power of God that flows from the sacraments and that accompanies them in the task of sanctifying, governing and proclaiming; they must believe and live that they celebrate. In this regard the words of the Servant of God Paul VI are relevant: "The witness of life has become more than ever the essential condition for the profound effectiveness of preaching" ("Evangelii Nuntiandi," No. 76).

I know that the communities entrusted to you find themselves at the religious, anthropological and social "frontiers," so to speak, and in many cases they are a minority presence. In these contexts the bishop's mission is particularly demanding. But it is precisely in such circumstances that, through your ministry, the Gospel can show all of its salvific power. You must not give in to pessimism or discouragement, because it is the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and gives her, with his mighty breath, the courage to persevere and also to seek new methods of evangelization to reach hitherto unexplored spheres. The Christian truth is attractive and persuasive precisely because it responds to the deep need of human existence, announcing in a convincing way that Christ is the only Savior of the whole man and all men. This proclamation remains as valid today as it was at the beginning of Christianity, when the first great missionary expansion of the Gospel was undertaken.

Dear brothers in the episcopate! It is in the power of the Holy Spirit that you have the wisdom and the peace to make your Churches witnesses of salvation and peace. He will guide you along the path of your episcopal ministry, which I entrust to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Queen of the Apostles. For my part I accompany you with prayer and an affectionate apostolic benediction, that I impart to each of you and to all the faithful of your communities.


Pope's Address to Brazil's Bishops
"Division ... Is In Opposition to the Will of the Lord"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, SEPT. 10, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil (Northeast region 3), on the occasion of their five-yearly "ad limina" visit to Rome.

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Esteemed Cardinal,
Beloved Archbishops and Bishops of Brazil:

I greet all of you cordially, on the occasion of your "ad limina" visit to Rome, where you have come to reinforce your bonds of fraternal communion with the Successor of Peter and to be encouraged by him in leading the flock of Christ. I am grateful for the kind words that Father Ceslau Stanula, bishop of Itabuna, addressed to me in your name, and I assure you of my prayers for your intentions and for the beloved people of the Northeast, of your 3rd Northeastern Region.

More than five centuries ago, precisely in your region, the first Mass was celebrated in Brazil, making really present the Body and Blood of Christ for the sanctification of the men and women of this blessed nation which was born under the auspices of the Holy Cross. It was the first time that the Gospel of Christ was being proclaimed to this people, illumining their daily life. This evangelizing action of the Catholic Church was and continues to be fundamental in the constitution of the identity of the Brazilian people, characterized by harmonious coexistence between persons coming from different regions and cultures. However, whereas the values of the Catholic faith have molded Brazilian hearts and spirit, observed today is a growing influence of new elements of society, which a few decades ago were practically foreign. This causes a consistent abandonment by many Catholics of the ecclesial life and even of the Church, while witnessed in the religious picture of Brazil is the rapid expansion of Evangelical and neo-Pentecostal communities.

In a certain sense, the reasons that are at the root of the success of these groups are a sign of the widespread thirst for God among your people. It is also a sign of an evangelization, at the personal level, which at times is superficial; in fact, those who are baptized and who are not sufficiently evangelized, are easily influenced, as they have a fragile faith, and many times it is based on simple devotion, although, as I have said, they preserve an innate religiosity.

Emerging in this context, on one hand, is the clear necessity that the Catholic Church in Brazil commit herself to a new evangelization that spares no efforts in the search for lapsed Catholics, as well as for persons who know little or nothing of the evangelical message, leading them to a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, living and active in his Church.

Moreover, with the growth of new groups that call themselves followers of Christ, though divided in different communities and confessions, all the more necessary, on the part of Catholic pastors, is the commitment to establish bridges of contact through a healthy ecumenical dialogue in truth.

That effort is necessary, first of all, because division between Christians is in opposition to the will of the Lord that "all be one" (John 17:21). Moreover, the lack of unity is cause of scandal that ends by undermining the credibility of the Christian message proclaimed in society. And today, its proclamation is, perhaps, more necessary than a few years ago, given, as your reports show, that even in the small cities of the interior of Brazil, one witnesses a growing negative influence of intellectual and moral relativism in people's life.

The search for Christian unity has not a few obstacles before it. In the first place, to be rejected is an erroneous view of ecumenism, which induces to a certain doctrinal indifference that attempts to level, in an a-critical Ireneism, all "opinions" in a sort of ecclesiological relativism. Together with this is the challenge of the incessant multiplication of new Christian groups, some of them using an aggressive proselytism, which shows how the landscape of ecumenism continues to be very differentiated and confused. In that context -- as I affirmed in 2007 in the Sé Cathedral in São Paulo, in the unforgettable meeting that I had with you, Brazilian bishops -- "indispensable is a good historical and doctrinal formation, which will allow the necessary discernment and help to understand the specific identity of each one of the communities, the elements that divide and those that help in the path of the construction of unity. The great common realm of collaboration should be the defense of the fundamental moral values, transmitted by biblical tradition, against their destruction in a relativist and consumerist culture; more than that, faith in God the Creator and in Jesus Christ, his incarnate Son" (No. 6).

For that reason, I encourage you to continue taking positive steps in this direction, as is the case of the dialogue with the ecclesial Churches and communities belonging to the National Council of Christian Churches, which, with initiatives such as the Campaign of Ecumenical Fraternity, help to promote the values of the Gospel in Brazilian society.

Esteemed brothers, the dialogue between Christians is an imperative of the present time and an irreversible option of the Church. However, as Vatican Council II reminds, at the heart of all efforts for unity must be prayer, conversion and sanctification of life (cf. "Unitatis Redintegratio," No. 8). It is the Lord who gives unity, this is not a creation of men, it is up to pastors to obey the Lord's will, promoting concrete initiatives, free of any conformist reductionism, but carried out with sincerity and realism, with patience and perseverance which spring from faith in the providential action of the Holy Spirit.

Beloved and venerated brothers, I have attempted to show briefly in this meeting of ours some aspects of the great challenge of ecumenism entrusted to your apostolic solicitude. In taking leave of you, I reaffirm once again my esteem and the certainty of my prayers for all of you and your dioceses. In a particular way, I wish to renew here the expression of my paternal solidarity with the faithful of the diocese of Barreiras, recently deprived of the guidance of their first and diligent pastor, monsignor Ricardo Jose Weberberger, who left for the house of the Father, goal of the steps of all of us. May he rest in peace! Invoking the intercession of Our Lady Aparecida, I grant each one of you, and the priests, men and women religious, seminarians, catechists and all the people entrusted to you, an affectionate Apostolic Blessing.


A Continuing Reflection on St. Hildegard
"Theology As Well Can Receive a Particular Contribution From Women"
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to take up again and continue the reflection on St. Hildegard of Bingen, an important woman of the Middle Ages, who is distinguished for her spiritual wisdom and holiness. Hildegard's mystical visions are like those of the prophets of the Old Testament: Expressing herself with the cultural and religious categories of her time, she interpreted sacred Scripture in the light of God, applying it to the various circumstances of life. Thus, all those who listened to her felt exhorted to practice a coherent and committed style of Christian living. In a letter to St. Bernard, the Rhenish mystic says: "The vision enthralled my whole being: I do not see merely with the eyes of the body, but mysteries appear to me in the spirit ... I know the profound meaning of what is expressed in the Psalter, in the Gospels and in other books, which were shown to me in the vision. This burns like a flame in my breast and in my soul, and teaches me how to understand the text profoundly" (Epistolarium pars prima I-XC: CCCM 91).

Hildegard's mystical visions are rich in theological content. They make reference to the main events of the history of salvation, and adopt a primarily poetic and symbolic language. For example, in her best known work, titled "Scivias," that is, "Know the Ways," she summarizes in 35 visions the events of the history of salvation, from the creation of the world to the end times. With the characteristic traits of feminine sensitivity, Hildegard, specifically in the central section of her work, develops the subject of the mystical marriage between God and humanity accomplished in the Incarnation. Carried out on the tree of the cross was the marriage of the Son of God with the Church, his Bride, filled with the grace of being capable of giving God new children, in the love of the Holy Spirit (cf. Visio tertia: PL 197, 453c.).

Already from these brief citations we see how theology as well can receive a particular contribution from women, because they are capable of speaking of God and of the mysteries of the faith with their specific intelligence and sensitivity. Hence, I encourage all those [women] who carry out this service to do so with a profound ecclesial spirit, nourishing their own reflection with prayer and looking to the great wealth, in part yet unexplored, of the Medieval mystical tradition, above all that represented by luminous models, such as, specifically, Hildegard of Bingen.

The Rhenish mystic is also author of other writings, two of which are particularly important because they report, as does "Scivias," her mystical visions: They are the "Liber vitae meritorum" (Books of Merits of Life) and the "Liber divinorum operum" (Book of Divine Works), also called "De operatione Dei." Described in the first is the unique and powerful vision of God who vivifies the cosmos with his strength and his light. Hildegard stresses the profound relationship between man and God and reminds us that the whole of creation, of which man is the summit, receives life from the Trinity. The writing is centered on the relationship between virtues and vices, in which the human being must daily face the challenge of vices, which distance him from the way to God, and the virtues, which favor him. It is an invitation to move away from evil to glorify God and to enter, after a virtuous existence, in the life "full of joy."

In the second work, considered by many her masterpiece, she again describes creation in its relationship with God and the centrality of man, manifesting a strong Christo-centrism of a biblical-patristic hue. The saint, who presents five visions inspired by the Prologue of St. John's Gospel, reports the words that the Son addresses to the Father: "All the work that you willed and that you entrusted to me, I have brought to a good end, and behold that I am in you, and you in me, and that we are but one thing" (Pars III, Visio X: PL 197, 1025a).

Finally, in other writings Hildegard manifests a variety of interests and the cultural vivacity of women's monasteries in the Middle Ages, contrary to the prejudices that still today are leveled upon that epoch. Hildegard was involved with medicine and the natural sciences, as well as with music, being gifted with artistic talent. She even composed hymns, antiphons and songs, collected under the title "Symphonia Harmoniae Caelestium Revelationum" (Symphony of the Harmony of the Celestial Revelations), which were joyfully performed in her monasteries, spreading an atmosphere of serenity, and which have come down to us. For her, the whole of creation is a symphony of the Holy Spirit, who in himself is joy and jubilation.

The popularity with which Hildegard was surrounded moved many persons to seek her counsel. Because of this, we have available to us many of her letters. Masculine and feminine monastic communities, bishops and abbots turned to her. Many of her answers are valid also for us. For example, to a women's religious community, Hildegard wrote thus: "The spiritual life must be taken care of with much dedication. In the beginning the effort is bitter. Because it calls for the renunciation of fancies, the pleasure of the flesh and other similar things. But if it allows itself to be fascinated by holiness, a holy soul will find sweet and lovable its very contempt for the world. It is only necessary to intelligently pay attention so that the soul does not shrivel" (E. Gronau, Hildegard. Vita di una donna profetica alle origini dell'eta moderna, Milan, 1996, p. 402).

And when the emperor Frederick Barbarossa caused an ecclesial schism by opposing three anti-popes to the legitimate Pope Alexander III, Hildegard, inspired by her visions, did not hesitate to remind him that he also, the emperor, was subject to the judgment of God. With the audacity that characterizes every prophet, she wrote these words to the emperor as God speaking: "Woe, woe to this wicked behavior of evil-doers who scorn me! Listen, O king, if you wish to live! Otherwise my sword will run you through!" (Ibid., p. 412).

With the spiritual authority with which she was gifted, in the last years of her life Hildegard began to travel, despite her advanced age and the difficult conditions of the journeys, to talk of God to the people. All listened to her eagerly, even when she took a severe tone: They considered her a messenger sent by God. Above all she called monastic communities and the clergy to a life in keeping with their vocation. In a particular way, Hildegard opposed the movement of German Cathars. They -- Cathar literally means "pure" -- advocated a radical reform of the Church, above all to combat the abuses of the clergy. She reproved them harshly for wishing to subvert the very nature of the Church, reminding them that a true renewal of the ecclesial community is not achieved so much with a change of structures, but by a sincere spirit of penance and an active path of conversion. This is a message that we must never forget.

Let us always invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he will raise up in the Church holy and courageous women, like St. Hildegard of Bingen, who, valuing the gifts received from God, will make their precious and specific contribution to the spiritual growth of our communities and of the Church in our time.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Pope then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on medieval Christian culture, we turn again to Saint Hildegard of Bingen, the great nun and mystic of the twelfth century. Hildegard's celebrated visions vividly interpreted the word of God for her contemporaries, calling them to a committed Christian life. She brought a woman's insight to the mysteries of the faith. In her many works she contemplated the mystic marriage between God and humanity accomplished in the Incarnation, as well as the spousal union of Christ and the Church. She also explored the vital relationship between God and creation, and our human calling to give glory to God by a life of holiness and virtue. Hildegard's musical compositions reflect her conviction that all creation is a symphony of the Holy Spirit, who is himself joy and jubilation. Her vast learning and spiritual authority also led her to work for the renewal of the Church in her day. Through Saint Hildegard's intercession, let us ask the Spirit to raise up wise, holy and courageous women whose God-given gifts will enrich the life of the Church in our own time!

I am pleased to greet the participants in the Communications Seminar sponsored by the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross and I offer prayerful good wishes for their work. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present at today's Audience, especially the pilgrim groups from England, Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Nigeria, Indonesia, Canada and the United States of America, I invoke God's abundant blessings.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[He concluded the audience with a greeting in Italian:]

I turn finally to young people, the sick and newlyweds present here. Today we celebrate the liturgical memorial of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The Second Vatican Council says that Mary precedes us in the way of faith because she "believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled" (Luke 1:45).

For you, young people, I ask the Holy Virgin the gift of an ever more mature faith; for you the sick, an ever stronger faith; and for you, dear newlyweds, an ever deeper faith.


Pope's Message to United Kingdom
"I Am Very Much Looking Forward to My Visit"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 - Here is the message Benedict XVI read today after the weekly general audience on the occasion of his Sept. 16-19 trip to the United Kingdom.

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I am very much looking forward to my visit to the United Kingdom in a week’s time and I send heartfelt greetings to all the people of Great Britain. I am aware that a vast amount of work has gone into the preparations for the visit, not only by the Catholic community but by the Government, the local authorities in Scotland, London and Birmingham, the communications media and the security services, and I want to say how much I appreciate the efforts that have been made to ensure that the various events planned will be truly joyful celebrations. Above all I thank the countless people who have been praying for the success of the visit and for a great outpouring of God’s grace upon the Church and the people of your nation.

It will be a particular joy for me to beatify the Venerable John Henry Newman in Birmingham on Sunday 19 September. This truly great Englishman lived an exemplary priestly life and through his extensive writings made a lasting contribution to Church and society both in his native land and in many other parts of the world. It is my hope and prayer that more and more people will benefit from his gentle wisdom and be inspired by his example of integrity and holiness of life.

I look forward to meeting representatives of the many different religious and cultural traditions that make up the British population, as well as civil and political leaders. I am most grateful to Her Majesty the Queen and to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury for receiving me, and I look forward to meeting them. While I regret that there are many places and people I shall not have the opportunity to visit, I want you to know that you are all remembered in my prayers. God bless the people of the United Kingdom!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address to Council of Europe Delegation
"Defend the Inviolable Dignity of the Human Person"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 - Here the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience in a side chamber of Paul VI Hall members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe.

* * *

Mr President,

Dear members of the Bureau of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe,

I am very grateful to the Honourable Mr Çavus,og(lu for the kind words he addressed to me on behalf of the Bureau and I extend to all of you a cordial welcome. I am happy to receive you on the sixtieth anniversary of the European Convention on Human Rights which, as is well known, commits Member States of the Council of Europe to promote and defend the inviolable dignity of the human person.

I know that the Parliamentary Assembly has on its agenda important topics that deal above all with persons who live in particularly difficult situations or are subjected to grave violations of their dignity. I have in mind people afflicted with handicaps, children who suffer violence, immigrants, refugees, those who pay the most for the present economic and financial crisis, those who are victims of extremism or of new forms of slavery such as human trafficking, the illegal drug trade and prostitution. Your work also is concerned with victims of warfare and with people who live in fragile democracies. I have also been informed of your efforts to defend religious freedom and to oppose violence and intolerance against believers in Europe and worldwide.

Keeping in mind the context of today’s society in which different peoples and cultures come together, it is imperative to develop the universal validity of these rights as well as their inviolability, inalienability and indivisibility.

On different occasions I have pointed out the risks associated with relativism in the area of values, rights and duties. If these were to lack an objective rational foundation, common to all peoples, and were based exclusively on particular cultures, legislative decisions or court judgments, how could they offer a solid and long-lasting ground for supranational institutions such as the Council of Europe, and for your own task within that prestigious institution? How could a fruitful dialogue among cultures take place without common values, rights and stable, universal principles understood in the same way by all Members States of the Council of Europe? These values, rights and duties are rooted in the natural dignity of each person, something which is accessible to human reasoning. The Christian faith does not impede, but favors this search, and is an invitation to seek a supernatural basis for this dignity.

I am convinced that these principles, faithfully maintained, above all when dealing with human life, from conception to natural death, with marriage -- rooted in the exclusive and indissoluble gift of self between one man and one woman -- and freedom of religion and education, are necessary conditions if we are to respond adequately to the decisive and urgent challenges that history presents to each one of you.

Dear friends, I know that you also wish to reach out to those who suffer. This gives me joy and I encourage you to fulfill your sensitive and important mission with moderation, wisdom and courage at the service of the common good of Europe. I thank you for coming and I assure you of my prayers. May God bless you!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Address After Mozart Requiem Concert
A "Great, Dramatic and Serene Meditation on Death"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday at the end of a performance of Mozart's Requiem in the courtyard of the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo. The performance was given by the Symphony Orchestra of Padua and Veneto, and the "Accademia della voce" Choir of Turin, conducted by Claudio Desideri.

* * *

Dear Friends:

My heartfelt thanks to the Orchestra of Padua and Veneto and to the "Voice Academy" choir of Turin, directed by maestro Claudio Desderi, and to the four soloists for having given us this moment of interior joy and spiritual reflection with an intense performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem. Along with them, I thank Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, for the words he addressed to me, as well as to the institutions that contributed to the organization of this event. We know well that Mozart, in his trips around Italy with his father when he was young, stayed in several regions, among which were, also, Piedmont and Veneto, but above all we know that he was able to learn from the lively Italian musical activity, characterized by composers such as Hasse, Sammartini, Father Martini, Piccinni, Jommelli, Paisiello, Cimarosa, to mention some of them.

Allow me, however, to express once again the particular affection that has united me, I could say, always, to this great musician. Every time I listen to his music I cannot help but return in memory to my parish church, where on feast days, when I was a boy, one of his "Masses" resounded: I felt that a ray of beauty from heaven reached my heart, and I continue to experience this sensation also today every time I listen to this great, dramatic and serene meditation on death.

Everything is in perfect harmony in Mozart, every note, every musical phrase is as it is and could not be otherwise; even those opposed are reconciled; it is called "mozart’sche Heiterkeit" (Mozart's serenity), which envelops everything, every moment. It is a gift of the Grace of God, but it is also the fruit of Mozart's lively faith that, especially in sacred music, is able to reflect the luminous response of divine love, which gives hope, even when human life is lacerated by suffering and death.

In his last letter written to his dying father, dated April 4, 1787, he wrote, speaking precisely of the final stage of life on earth: "For about a year I have become so familiar with this sincere and greatly loved friend of man, [death], that its image no longer holds anything that is terrifying, but it even seems to me tranquilizing and consoling! And I thank my God for having given me the good fortune of having the opportunity of recognizing in it the key to our happiness. I never lie down without thinking that perhaps the next day I might not be. And yet anyone who knows me will not be able to say that in their company I am sad or in a bad mood. And for this good fortune I thank my Creator every day and I desire it with all my heart for each one of my fellow men."

This writing manifests a profound and simple faith, which also appears in the great prayer of the Requiem, and leads us at the same time to love intensely the ups and downs of earthly life as gifts of God and to rise above them, contemplating death serenely as a "key" to go through the door to happiness.

Mozart's Requiem is a lofty expression of faith, which recognizes the tragic character of human existence and which does not hide its dramatic aspects, and for this reason it is an appropriate expression of Christian faith, conscious that the whole of man's life is illuminated by the love of God. Thank you all once again.


On the World Youth Day Message
"Friendship With Jesus Is Able to Give to a Young Person What He Needs"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

First of all I am sorry for being late! I have just returned at this moment from Carpineto Romano, where, 200 years ago, Pope Leo XIII was born, Vicenzo Gioacchino Pecci. I thank the Lord for having been able to celebrate the Eucharist among his fellow citizens [of Carpineto Romano] on this important occasion. I would now like briefly to present my recently published Message for the 26th World Youth Day, which will take place in Madrid in less than a year.

The theme that I have chosen for this message takes up a theme of the Letter to the Colossians of the Apostle Paul: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (2:7). It is a resolutely counter-current proposal! Indeed, who today proposes to young people to be “planted” and “firm”? Rather, uncertainty, mobility, volubility are exalted … all aspects that reflect a culture that is indecisive in regard to basic values, principles on the basis of which one’s life is oriented and regulated.

In reality, I myself, through my experience and through contact I have with young people, know well that every generation, indeed, every individual person is newly called to follow the path of discovering the meaning of life. And it is precisely on account of this that I wanted to re-propose a message that, following the biblical style, evokes the images of the tree and the house. The young person, in fact, is like a tree that is growing: to develop well, he needs deep roots that -- when there comes a storm with strong winds -- keep him firmly planted in the soil. Thus, also the image of the building under construction recalls the urgency of sound foundations so that the house is solid and secure.

And here is the heart of the message: It is in the expressions “in Jesus Christ” and “in the faith.” The full maturity of the person, his interior stability, has its basis in relation to God, a relation that passes through the encounter with Jesus Christ. A relationship of deep trust, of authentic friendship with Jesus is able to give to a young person what he needs to deal well with life: serenity and interior light, a capacity to think positively, generosity of soul toward others, availability to give oneself for the good, justice and truth. A last very important aspect: to be a believer the young person is supported by the faith of the Church; if no man is an island, much less is a Christian, who in the Church discovers the beauty of faith shared and witnessed together with others in fraternity and the service of charity.

This message of mine to young people has the date of August 6, the Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord. May the light of the face of Christ shine in the heart of every young person! And may the Virgin Mary accompany with her protection the path of the communities and groups of young people toward the great meeting in Madrid in 2011.

[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English he said:]

Having just returned from Carpineto Romano, the birthplace of my Predecessor, Pope Leo XIII, I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this “Angelus” prayer. May Pope Leo’s social magisterium continue to inspire the efforts of the faithful to build a just society rooted in the teachings of Christ. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[And in Italian he said:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.


Papal Homily for Visit to Leo XIII's Birthplace
"Represented a Church Capable of Dealing With the Great Contemporary Questions"

CARPINETO ROMANO, Italy, SEPT. 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today when he visited the birthplace of Pope Leo XIII, Carpineto Romano, to mark the 200th anniversary of that Pontiff's birth.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

First of all, permit me to express my joy in finding myself with you in Carpineto Romano, in the footsteps of my beloved predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II! And it is also a happy circumstance that has called me here: the bicentennial of the birth of Pope Leo XIII, Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci, which took place March 2, 1810, in this beautiful town. I thank you all for your welcome! In particular I greet with gratitude the bishop of Anagni-Alatri, Lorenzo Loppa, and the mayor of Carpineto, who welcomed me at the beginning of the celebration, along with the other authorities present. I offer a special greeting to the young people, in particular those who took part in the diocesan pilgrimage.

My visit, unfortunately, is very brief and is restricted to this Eucharistic celebration; but here we have everything: the Word and the Bread of Life that nourish faith, hope and charity; and we renew the bond of communion that makes of us the one Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

We have heard the Word of God and it is natural to receive it in this circumstance thinking again of the figure of Pope Leo XIII and the legacy that he has left us. The principal theme that emerges from the biblical readings is that of the primacy of God and of Christ. In the Gospel passage, taken from St. Luke, Jesus himself declares with frankness the three conditions necessary to be his disciples: to love him more than any other person and life itself; to carry one’s own cross and follow him; to give up all one’s belongings. Jesus sees a great crowd that is following him together with his disciples, and he wants to be clear with everyone: following him is demanding, it cannot depend on enthusiasm and opportunism; it must be a reflective decision made after asking one’s conscience: Who is Jesus for me? Is he truly “the Lord,” does he take first place, like the sun about which all the planets turn?

And the first reading, from the Book of Wisdom, indirectly suggests the reason behind this absolute primacy of Jesus Christ: In him are the answers to the questions that man asks in every age about the truth of God and himself. God is beyond our reach, and his designs are inscrutable. But he wanted to reveal himself in creation and above all in the history of salvation, until in Christ he fully revealed himself and his will. While it remains true that “No one has seen God” (John 1:18), now we know his “name,” his “face,” and also his will, because they have been revealed to us by Jesus, who is the Wisdom of God made man. “Thus,” the sacred author of the first reading writes, “men were instructed in what is pleasing to you and were saved through wisdom” (Wisdom 9:18).

This fundamental call of the Word of God makes one think of two aspects of the life and ministry of your venerable fellow citizen who we commemorate today, the Supreme Pontiff Leo XIII. Before all else it must be stressed that he was a man of great faith and profound devotion. This always remains the basis of everything, for every Christian, including the Pope. Without prayer, that is, without interior union with God, we can do nothing, as Jesus clearly tells his disciples during the Last Supper (cf. John 15:5).

The words and deeds of Pope Pecci revealed his deep religiosity; and this had a correspondence in his magisterium: Among his many encyclicals and apostolic letters, like the string of a necklace, there are those of a specifically spiritual character, dedicated above all to the growth of Marian devotion, especially through the rosary. It is a real “catechesis” that stretches from the beginning to the end of the 25 years of his pontificate.

But we also have the documents on Christ the Redeemer, on the Holy Spirit, on consecration to the Sacred Heart, on devotion to St. Joseph, on St. Francis of Assisi. Leo XIII was especially close to the Franciscan family and he himself belonged to the Third Order. I like to consider all of these different elements as various facets of a single reality: the love of God and of Christ, which absolutely nothing must come before. And this his first and principal quality, Vincenzo Gioacchino Pecci learned here, in his native town, from his parents, from his parish.

But there is a second aspect, which derives from the primacy of God and of Christ and that one meets in the public action of every pastor of the Church, especially of every Supreme Pontiff, with the characteristics proper to each one. I would say that precisely the concept of “Christian wisdom,” which already emerged from the first reading and the Gospel, offers us the synthesis of this position of Leo XIII -- it is not by chance that it is also the “incipit” of one of his encyclicals. Every pastor is called to transmit to the People of God, not abstract truths, but a “wisdom,” that is, a message that joins faith and reason, truth and concrete reality. Pope Leo XIII, with the assistance of the Holy Spirit, was able to do this in one of the most difficult historical periods of the Church, remaining faithful to tradition and, at the same time, measuring it with the great open questions. And he succeeded in his efforts precisely on the basis of the “Christian wisdom,” founded on sacred Scriptures, on the immense theological and spiritual patrimony of the Catholic Church and also on the solid and limpid philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas, which he appreciated in the highest way and promoted in the whole Church.

At this point, after having considered the foundation, that is, faith and the spiritual life, and therefore the general framework of the message of Leo XIII, I can turn to his social teaching, made famous and timeless in his encyclical “Rerum novarum,” but also richly expressed in multiple interventions that constitute an organic body, the first nucleus of the Church’s social doctrine. We take our cue from St. Paul’s Letter to Philemon, which happily the liturgy has us read precisely today. It is the shortest of all the Pauline epistles. During a period of imprisonment the Apostle transmitted the faith to Onesimus, a slave from Colossae, who had fled from his owner Philemon, a wealthy inhabitant of that city, who, along with his family, had become Christian through the preaching of Paul. Now the Apostle writes to Philemon, inviting him to welcome Onesimus no longer as a slave but as a brother in Christ. The new Christian brotherhood overcomes the separation between slaves and freemen, and it triggers in history a promotion of the person that will lead to the abolition of slavery, but also to the overcoming of the barriers that had existed up until then. Pope Leo XIII dedicated his 1890 encyclical “Catholicae Ecclesiae” precisely to the theme of slavery.

From this particular experience of St. Paul with Onesimus there can develop a broad reflection on the movement of human promotion brought by Christianity to the path of civilization, and also on the method and style of this contribution, conformed to the evangelical images of the seed and the leaven: Christians, acting as individual citizens or groups within the reality of history, constitute a beneficent and peaceful force for profound change, actualizing the development of the potentialities within reality itself. This is the form of presence and action in the world proposed by the Church’s social doctrine, which always points to the maturation of consciences as the valid and lasting condition for transformations.

We must now ask ourselves: What was the context in which the man who would become Pope Leo XIII 68 years later was born? Europe was feeling the effects of the great Napoleonic storm, which followed the French Revolution. The Church and many expressions of Christian culture were radically called into question (one thinks, for example, of the efforts to count the years no longer from Christ’s birth but from the beginning of the new revolutionary age, or to remove the names of the saints from the calendar, the roads, the villages…). The people of the countryside certainly were not favorable to these changes, and remained attached to religious traditions. Daily life was hard and difficult: the sanitary and dietary conditions were very poor. Meanwhile, industry developed and the workers’ movement along with it, which became more and more politically organized. The Church’s magisterium, at its highest level, was moved and helped by reflections and local experiences to elaborate a comprehensive and prospective reading of the new society and its common good. Thus, when he was elected to the pontifical office in 1878, Leo XIII felt called to bring this reading to completion in light of his ample knowledge of international breadth, but also of many initiatives launched “in the field” by Christian communities and men and women of the Church.

There were in fact dozens and dozens of saints and blessed since the end of the 1700s to the beginning of the 1900s who sought out and took -- with the imagination of charity -- many roads to actualize the evangelical message within the new social realities. Without a doubt these initiatives, with the sacrifices and reflections of these men and women, prepared the soil of “Rerum novarum” and of the other social documents of Pope Pecci. Already at the time that he was apostolic nuncio in Belgium, he had understood that the social question could be dealt with positively and effectively with dialogue and mediation. In an age of bitter anti-clericalism and of volatile demonstrations against the Pope, Leo XIII knew how to guide and support Catholics along the path of constructive participation, rich in contents, firm about principles and capable of openness.

Immediately after “Rerum novarum” there was a real explosion of initiatives in Italy and other countries: associations, rural and artisan banks, newspapers … a vast “movement,” which had an enlightened guide in the Servant of God Giuseppe Toniolo. Thus a very old but wise and farseeing Pope was able to introduce into the 20th century a rejuvenated Church, with the right attitude to face the new challenges. He was a Pope still politically and physically a “prisoner” in the Vatican, but in reality, with his magisterium, he represented a Church capable of dealing with the great contemporary questions without complexes.

Dear friends of Carpineto Romano, we do not have time to go deeply into these matters. The Eucharist that we are celebrating, the Sacrament of Love, recalls us to the essential: charity, the love of Christ that renews men and the world; this is the essential thing, and we see it well, we almost perceive it in St. Paul’s expressions in the Letter to Philemon. In that brief missive, in fact, one feels all the meekness and at the same time all the revolutionary power of the Gospel; one grasps the discreet and irresistible style of charity, which, as I wrote in my social encyclical, “Caritas in veritate,” is the “principal driving force behind the authentic development of every person and of all humanity” (1).

With joy and with affection, I leave you with the old and ever new commandment: love each other as Christ has loved us, and with this love be the salt and light of the world. In this way you will be faithful to the legacy of your great and venerable fellow citizen, Pope Leo XIII. And let it be thus in the whole Church! Amen, dear brothers and sisters!


Papal Message for World Youth Day
"We Too Want to Be Able to See Jesus"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 3, 2010 ( Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Aug. 6 message for World Youth Day, which was released today.

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"Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7)

Dear Friends,

I often think back on the World Youth Day held in Sydney in 2008. There we had an experience of a great festival of faith in which the Spirit of God was actively at work, building deep communion among the participants who had come from all over the world. That gathering, like those on previous occasions, bore rich fruit in the lives of many young people and in the life of the whole Church. Now we are looking forward to the next World Youth Day, to be held in Madrid in August 2011. Back in 1989, several months before the historic fall of the Berlin Wall, this pilgrimage of young people halted in Spain, in Santiago de Compostela. Now, at a time when Europe greatly needs to rediscover its Christian roots, our meeting will take place in Madrid with the theme: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). I encourage you to take part in this event, which is so important for the Church in Europe and for the universal Church. I would like all young people - those who share our faith in Jesus Christ, but also those who are wavering or uncertain, or who do not believe in him - to share this experience, which can prove decisive for their lives. It is an experience of the Lord Jesus, risen and alive, and of his love for each of us.

1. At the source of your deepest aspirations

In every period of history, including our own, many young people experience a deep desire for personal relationships marked by truth and solidarity. Many of them yearn to build authentic friendships, to know true love, to start a family that will remain united, to achieve personal fulfilment and real security, all of which are the guarantee of a serene and happy future. In thinking of my own youth, I realize that stability and security are not the questions that most occupy the minds of young people. True enough, it is important to have a job and thus to have firm ground beneath our feet, yet the years of our youth are also a time when we are seeking to get the most out of life. When I think back on that time, I remember above all that we were not willing to settle for a conventional middle-class life. We wanted something great, something new. We wanted to discover life itself, in all its grandeur and beauty. Naturally, part of that was due to the times we lived in. During the Nazi dictatorship and the war, we were, so to speak, "hemmed in" by the dominant power structure. So we wanted to break out into the open, to experience the whole range of human possibilities. I think that, to some extent, this urge to break out of the ordinary is present in every generation. Part of being young is desiring something beyond everyday life and a secure job, a yearning for something really truly greater. Is this simply an empty dream that fades away as we become older? No! Men and women were created for something great, for infinity. Nothing else will ever be enough. Saint Augustine was right when he said "our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you". The desire for a more meaningful life is a sign that God created us and that we bear his "imprint". God is life, and that is why every creature reaches out towards life. Because human beings are made in the image of God, we do this in a unique and special way. We reach out for love, joy and peace. So we can see how absurd it is to think that we can truly live by removing God from the picture! God is the source of life. To set God aside is to separate ourselves from that source and, inevitably, to deprive ourselves of fulfilment and joy: "without the Creator, the creature fades into nothingness" (Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes, 36). In some parts of the world, particularly in the West, today's culture tends to exclude God, and to consider faith a purely private issue with no relevance for the life of society. Even though the set of values underpinning society comes from the Gospel - values like the sense of the dignity of the person, of solidarity, of work and of the family -, we see a certain "eclipse of God" taking place, a kind of amnesia which, albeit not an outright rejection of Christianity, is nonetheless a denial of the treasure of our faith, a denial that could lead to the loss of our deepest identity.

For this reason, dear friends, I encourage you to strengthen your faith in God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. You are the future of society and of the Church! As the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Colossae, it is vital to have roots, a solid foundation! This is particularly true today. Many people have no stable points of reference on which to build their lives, and so they end up deeply insecure. There is a growing mentality of relativism, which holds that everything is equally valid, that truth and absolute points of reference do not exist. But this way of thinking does not lead to true freedom, but rather to instability, confusion and blind conformity to the fads of the moment. As young people, you are entitled to receive from previous generations solid points of reference to help you to make choices and on which to build your lives: like a young plant which needs solid support until it can sink deep roots and become a sturdy tree capable of bearing fruit.

2. Planted and built up in Jesus Christ

In order to highlight the importance of faith in the lives of believers, I would like to reflect with you on each of the three terms used by Saint Paul in the expression: "Planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). We can distinguish three images: "planted" calls to mind a tree and the roots that feed it; "built up" refers to the construction of a house; "firm" indicates growth in physical or moral strength. These images are very eloquent. Before commenting on them, I would like to point out that grammatically all three terms in the original text are in the passive voice. This means that it is Christ himself who takes the initiative to plant, build up and confirm the faithful.

The first image is that of a tree which is firmly planted thanks to its roots, which keep it upright and give it nourishment. Without those roots, it would be blown away by the wind and would die. What are our roots? Naturally our parents, our families and the culture of our country are very important elements of our personal identity. But the Bible reveals a further element. The prophet Jeremiah wrote: "Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green; in the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit" (Jer 17:7-8). For the prophet, to send out roots means to put one's trust in God. From him we draw our life. Without him, we cannot truly live. "God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son" (1 Jn 5:11). Jesus himself tells us that he is our life (cf. Jn 14:6). Consequently, Christian faith is not only a matter of believing that certain things are true, but above all a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It is an encounter with the Son of God that gives new energy to the whole of our existence. When we enter into a personal relationship with him, Christ reveals our true identity and, in friendship with him, our life grows towards complete fulfilment. There is a moment, when we are young, when each of us wonders: what meaning does my life have? What purpose and direction should I give to it? This is a very important moment, and it can worry us, perhaps for some time. We start wondering about the kind of work we should take up, the kind of relationships we should establish, the friendships we should cultivate... Here, once more, I think of my own youth. I was somehow aware quite early on that the Lord wanted me to be a priest. Then later, after the war, when I was in the seminary and at university on the way towards that goal, I had to recapture that certainty. I had to ask myself: is this really the path I was meant to take? Is this really God's will for me? Will I be able to remain faithful to him and completely at his service? A decision like this demands a certain struggle. It cannot be otherwise. But then came the certainty: this is the right thing! Yes, the Lord wants me, and he will give me strength. If I listen to him and walk with him, I become truly myself. What counts is not the fulfilment of my desires, but of his will. In this way life becomes authentic.

Just as the roots of a tree keep it firmly planted in the soil, so the foundations of a house give it long-lasting stability. Through faith, we have been built up in Jesus Christ (cfr Col 2:7), even as a house is built on its foundations. Sacred history provides many examples of saints who built their lives on the word of God. The first is Abraham, our father in faith, who obeyed God when he was asked to leave his ancestral home and to set out for an unknown land. "Abraham believed God, and it was reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called the friend of God" (Jas 2:23). Being built up in Jesus Christ means responding positively to God's call, trusting in him and putting his word into practice. Jesus himself reprimanded his disciples: "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord', and do not do what I tell you?" (Lk 6:46). He went on to use the image of building a house: "I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them. That one is like a person building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when the flood came, the river burst against that house but could not shake it because it had been well built" (Lk 6:47-48).

Dear friends, build your own house on rock, just like the person who "dug deeply". Try each day to follow Christ's word. Listen to him as a true friend with whom you can share your path in life. With him at your side, you will find courage and hope to face difficulties and problems, and even to overcome disappointments and set-backs. You are constantly being offered easier choices, but you yourselves know that these are ultimately deceptive and cannot bring you serenity and joy. Only the word of God can show us the authentic way, and only the faith we have received is the light which shines on our path. Gratefully accept this spiritual gift which you have received from your families; strive to respond responsibly to God's call, and to grow in your faith. Do not believe those who tell you that you don't need others to build up your life! Find support in the faith of those who are dear to you, in the faith of the Church, and thank the Lord that you have received it and have made it your own!

3. Firm in the faith

You are "planted and built up in Jesus Christ, firm in the faith" (cf. Col 2:7). The Letter from which these words are taken was written by Saint Paul in order to respond to a specific need of the Christians in the city of Colossae. That community was threatened by the influence of certain cultural trends that were turning the faithful away from the Gospel. Our own cultural context, dear young people, is not unlike that of the ancient Colossians. Indeed, there is a strong current of secularist thought that aims to make God marginal in the lives of people and society by proposing and attempting to create a "paradise" without him. Yet experience tells us that a world without God becomes a "hell": filled with selfishness, broken families, hatred between individuals and nations, and a great deficit of love, joy and hope. On the other hand, wherever individuals and nations accept God's presence, worship him in truth and listen to his voice, then the civilization of love is being built, a civilization in which the dignity of all is respected, and communion increases, with all its benefits. Yet some Christians allow themselves to be seduced by secularism or attracted by religious currents that draw them away from faith in Jesus Christ. There are others who, while not yielding to these enticements, have simply allowed their faith to grow cold, with inevitable negative effects on their moral lives.

To those Christians influenced by ideas alien to the Gospel the Apostle Paul spoke of the power of Christ's death and resurrection. This mystery is the foundation of our lives and the centre of Christian faith. All philosophies that disregard it and consider it "foolishness" (1 Cor 1:23) reveal their limitations with respect to the great questions deep in the hearts of human beings. As the Successor of the Apostle Peter, I too want to confirm you in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). We firmly believe that Jesus Christ offered himself on the Cross in order to give us his love. In his passion, he bore our sufferings, took upon himself our sins, obtained forgiveness for us and reconciled us with God the Father, opening for us the way to eternal life. Thus we were freed from the thing that most encumbers our lives: the slavery of sin. We can love everyone, even our enemies, and we can share this love with the poorest of our brothers and sisters and all those in difficulty.

Dear friends, the Cross often frightens us because it seems to be a denial of life. In fact, the opposite is true! It is God's "yes" to mankind, the supreme expression of his love and the source from which eternal life flows. Indeed, it is from Jesus' heart, pierced on the Cross, that this divine life streamed forth, ever accessible to those who raise their eyes towards the Crucified One. I can only urge you, then, to embrace the Cross of Jesus, the sign of God's love, as the source of new life. Apart from Jesus Christ risen from the dead, there can be no salvation! He alone can free the world from evil and bring about the growth of the Kingdom of justice, peace and love to which we all aspire.

4. Believing in Jesus Christ without having seen him

In the Gospel we find a description of the Apostle Thomas's experience of faith when he accepted the mystery of the Cross and resurrection of Christ. Thomas was one of the twelve Apostles. He followed Jesus and was an eyewitness of his healings and miracles. He listened to his words, and he experienced dismay at Jesus' death. That Easter evening when the Lord appeared to the disciples, Thomas was not present. When he was told that Jesus was alive and had shown himself, Thomas stated: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands, and put my finger in the mark of the nails and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn 20:25).

We too want to be able to see Jesus, to speak with him and to feel his presence even more powerfully. For many people today, it has become difficult to approach Jesus. There are so many images of Jesus in circulation which, while claiming to be scientific, detract from his greatness and the uniqueness of his person. That is why, after many years of study and reflection, I thought of sharing something of my own personal encounter with Jesus by writing a book. It was a way to help others see, hear and touch the Lord in whom God came to us in order to make himself known. Jesus himself, when he appeared again to his disciples a week later, said to Thomas: "Put your finger here and see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it in my side. Do not doubt but believe" (Jn 20:27). We too can have tangible contact with Jesus and put our hand, so to speak, upon the signs of his Passion, the signs of his love. It is in the sacraments that he draws particularly near to us and gives himself to us. Dear young people, learn to "see" and to "meet" Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present and close to us, and even becomes food for our journey. In the sacrament of Penance the Lord reveals his mercy and always grants us his forgiveness. Recognize and serve Jesus in the poor, the sick, and in our brothers and sisters who are in difficulty and in need of help.

Enter into a personal dialogue with Jesus Christ and cultivate it in faith. Get to know him better by reading the Gospels and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Converse with him in prayer, and place your trust in him. He will never betray that trust! "Faith is first of all a personal adherence of man to God. At the same time, and inseparably, it is a free assent to the whole truth that God has revealed" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 150). Thus you will acquire a mature and solid faith, one which will not be based simply on religious sentiment or on a vague memory of the catechism you studied as a child. You will come to know God and to live authentically in union with him, like the Apostle Thomas who showed his firm faith in Jesus in the words: "My Lord and my God!".

5. Sustained by the faith of the Church, in order to be witnesses

Jesus said to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have come to believe" (Jn 20:29). He was thinking of the path the Church was to follow, based on the faith of eyewitnesses: the Apostles. Thus we come to see that our personal faith in Christ, which comes into being through dialogue with him, is bound to the faith of the Church. We do not believe as isolated individuals, but rather, through Baptism, we are members of this great family; it is the faith professed by the Church which reinforces our personal faith. The Creed that we proclaim at Sunday Mass protects us from the danger of believing in a God other than the one revealed by Christ: "Each believer is thus a link in the great chain of believers. I cannot believe without being carried by the faith of others, and by my faith I help support others in the faith" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 166). Let us always thank the Lord for the gift of the Church, for the Church helps us to advance securely in the faith that gives us true life (cf. Jn 20:31).

In the history of the Church, the saints and the martyrs have always drawn from the glorious Cross of Christ the strength to be faithful to God even to the point of offering their own lives. In faith they found the strength to overcome their weaknesses and to prevail over every adversity. Indeed, as the Apostle John says, "Who is it that conquers the world but the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?" (1 Jn 5:5). The victory born of faith is that of love. There have been, and still are, many Christians who are living witnesses of the power of faith that is expressed in charity. They have been peacemakers, promoters of justice and workers for a more humane world, a world in accordance with God's plan. With competence and professionalism, they have been committed in different sectors of the life of society, contributing effectively to the welfare of all. The charity that comes from faith led them to offer concrete witness by their actions and words. Christ is not a treasure meant for us alone; he is the most precious treasure we have, one that is meant to be shared with others. In our age of globalization, be witnesses of Christian hope all over the world. How many people long to receive this hope! Standing before the tomb of his friend Lazarus, who had died four days earlier, as he was about to call the dead man back to life, Jesus said to Lazarus' sister Martha: "If you believe, you will see the glory of God" (cf. Jn 11:40). In the same way, if you believe, and if you are able to live out your faith and bear witness to it every day, you will become a means of helping other young people like yourselves to find the meaning and joy of life, which is born of an encounter with Christ!

6. On the way to World Youth Day in Madrid

Dear friends, once again I invite you to attend World Youth Day in Madrid. I await each of you with great joy. Jesus Christ wishes to make you firm in faith through the Church. The decision to believe in Jesus Christ and to follow him is not an easy one. It is hindered by our personal failures and by the many voices that point us towards easier paths. Do not be discouraged. Rather, look for the support of the Christian community, the support of the Church! Throughout this year, carefully prepare for the meeting in Madrid with the bishops, priests and youth leaders in your dioceses, parish communities, associations and movements. The quality of our meeting will depend above all on our spiritual preparation, our prayer, our common hearing of the word of God and our mutual support.

Dear young people, the Church depends on you! She needs your lively faith, your creative charity and the energy of your hope. Your presence renews, rejuvenates and gives new energy to the Church. That is why World Youth Days are a grace, not only for you, but for the entire People of God. The Church in Spain is actively preparing to welcome you and to share this joyful experience of faith with you. I thank the dioceses, parishes, shrines, religious communities, ecclesial associations and movements, and all who are hard at work in preparing for this event. The Lord will not fail to grant them his blessings. May the Virgin Mary accompany you along this path of preparation. At the message of the angel, she received God's word with faith. It was in faith that she consented to what God was accomplishing in her. By proclaiming her "fiat", her "yes", she received the gift of immense charity which led her to give herself entirely to God. May she intercede for each one of you so that, in the coming World Youth Day you may grow in faith and love. I assure you of a paternal remembrance in my prayers and I give you my heartfelt blessing.

From the Vatican, 6 August 2010, Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.


On St. Hildegard: Cloistered Nun and Mystic
"The Receiver of Supernatural Gifts Never Boasts"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 1, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the general audience in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In 1988, on the occasion of the Marian Year, the Venerable John Paul II wrote an Apostolic Letter titled "Mulieris dignitatem," dealing with the valuable role that women have had and have in the life of the Church.

"The Church," one reads there, "gives thanks for all the manifestations of the feminine 'genius' which have appeared in the course of history, in the midst of all peoples and nations; she gives thanks for all the charisms which the Holy Spirit distributes to women in the history of the People of God, for all the victories which she owes to their faith, hope and charity: she gives thanks for all the fruits of feminine holiness" (No. 31).

In those centuries of history that we usually call medieval, several women are outstanding for their holiness of life and the richness of their teaching. Today I would like to begin to present one of them to you: St. Hildegard of Bingen, who lived in Germany in the 12th century. She was born in the Rhineland in Bermersheim in 1098, in the region of Alzey, and died in 1179 at the age of 81, despite having permanently frail health.

Hildegard belonged to a noble and numerous family and, from her birth, she was vowed by her parents to the service of God. At 8 years of age, in order to receive an adequate human and Christian formation, she was entrusted to the care of the teacher Judith of Spanheim, who had withdrawn into a cloister near the Benedictine monastery of St. Disibod. A small women's cloistered monastery was being formed, which followed the Rule of St. Benedict. Hildegard received the veil from Bishop Othon of Bamberg and, in 1136, on the death of Mother Judith, who had become the superior of the community, her fellow-sisters called Hildegard to succeed her. She carried out this task bringing to fruition her gifts as an educated woman, spiritually elevated and able to address competently the organizational aspects of cloistered life. A year or so later, also because of the growing number of young women who knocked on the door of the monastery, Hildegard founded another community in Bingen, named after St. Rupert, where she spent the rest of her life. The style with which she exercised the ministry of authority is exemplary for every religious community: It inspired a holy emulation in the practice of goodness, so much so that, as we see from testimonies of the time, the mother and the daughters competed in their reciprocal esteem and service.

Already in the years in which she was superior of the monastery of St. Disibod, Hildegard had begun to dictate the mystical visions she had received for some time to her spiritual adviser, monk Volmar, and to her secretary, a fellow sister to whom she was very devoted, Richardis of Strade. As always happens in the life of true mystics, Hildegard, too, wanted to be subject to the authority of wise persons to discern the origin of her visions, fearing that they were the fruit of illusions and that they did not come from God. She turned, therefore, to the person that at her time enjoyed the highest esteem of the Church: St. Bernard of Clairvaux, of whom I have already spoken in some catecheses. He calmed and encouraged Hildegard. However, in 1147 she received another very important approval. Pope Eugene III, who was presiding at a synod in Treviri, read a text dictated by Hildegard, presented to him by Archbishop Henry of Mainz. The Pope authorized the mystic to write down her visions and to speak publicly.

From that moment, Hildegard's spiritual prestige grew increasingly, so much so that her contemporaries attributed to her the title of "Teutonic prophetess." This is, dear friends, the seal of an authentic experience of the Holy Spirit, source of every charism: The receiver of supernatural gifts never boasts, does not exhibit them and, above all, shows total obedience to ecclesial authority. Every gift distributed by the Holy Spirit, in fact, is destined for the edification of the Church, and the Church, through her pastors, recognizes their authenticity.

I will speak once again next Wednesday about this great woman "prophetess," who speaks with great timeliness also to us today, with her courageous capacity to discern the signs of the times, with her love for creation, her medicine, her poetry, her music, which today is being pieced together, her love of Christ and of his Church, suffering also at that time, wounded also at that time by the sins of priests and laymen, and that much more loved as Body of Christ. So St. Hildegard speaks to us; we will speak of her again next Wednesday. Thank you for your attention.

[In English, he said:]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Japan and Sri Lanka. Our catechesis today deals with Saint Hildegard of Bingen, the great nun and mystic of the twelfth century. One of the outstanding women of the Middle Ages, Hildegard used her spiritual gifts for the renewal of the Church and the spread of authentic Christian living. Hildegard reminds us of the contribution which women are called to make to the life of the Church in our own time. Trusting in her intercession, I cordially invoke upon all of you God's abundant blessings!

[In Spanish, he said:]

I greet the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, in particular the group of the Diocese of Bilbao, accompanied by the bishop-elect, Mario Iceta, as well as other faithful from Spain, Chile, Argentina, Mexico and other Latin American countries.

Likewise, I greet the participants in the Third Latin American Congress of Young People, which will shortly be held in the city of Los Teques, Venezuela. The meeting, organized by the Youth Section of the Latin American bishops' council, will take place under the motto: "Let Us Walk with Jesus to Give Life to Our Peoples."

I invite all those present in that significant initiative to look at Jesus Christ, Son of the living God. With his grace, you will find the strength that impels one to be committed to causes that dignify man and make peoples great.

Dear young people, may these days of fellowship, prayer and study serve you to personally encounter the Lord and to hear his Word. You will not be disappointed, as he has plans of love and salvation for everyone. The Pope is by your side and reiterates his confidence in you, while at the same time asking God to assist you so that, being authentic disciples of Jesus Christ, you may live the values of the Gospel, transmit them with courage to those around you and so that you will be inspired in them to build a more just and reconciled world. It is worthwhile to give oneself to this beautiful mission.

May the Virgin Mary accompany you on your journey and always remind you that there is no greater happiness than that of being Christ's friend. May the apostolic blessing that I impart with affection also serve you. Many thanks!

[In Italian, he said:]

Finally, I greet young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people, taking up again after the vacations your usual daily activities, spread with your testimony the light of God in every environment. You, dear sick people, find support in Jesus, who continues his work of redemption in the life of every man. And you, dear newlyweds, draw from the love of Christ, so that your love will be ever more solid and lasting.


Papal Message to Asian Laity Congress
"Be a Sign and Promise of ... Unity and Communion"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2010 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the occasion of an Asian Catholic laity conference, which began in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday. It runs through Sunday. The papal message was dated Aug. 10 and released today.

The theme chosen for the congress is "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today."

* * *

To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Stanis?aw Ry?ko
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity

I was pleased to learn that the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity will be held in Seoul from 31 August to 5 September 2010. I ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes to the Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful from Asia assembled for this significant pastoral initiative promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The theme chosen for the Congress -- Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today -- is most timely, and I am confident that it will encourage and guide the lay faithful of the continent in bearing joyful witness to the Risen Lord and to the life-giving truth of his holy word.

Asia, home to two-thirds of the world’s people, the cradle of great religions and spiritual traditions, and the birthplace of diverse cultures, is currently undergoing unprecedented processes of economic growth and social transformation. Asia's Catholics are called to be a sign and promise of that unity and communion -- communion with God and among men -- which the whole human family is meant to enjoy and which Christ alone makes possible. As part of the mosaic of the continent's different peoples, cultures and religions, they have been entrusted with a great mission: that of bearing witness to Jesus Christ, the universal Savior of mankind. This is the supreme service and the greatest gift that the Church can offer to the people of Asia, and it is my hope that the present Conference will provide renewed encouragement and direction in taking up this sacred mandate.

"The peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Asia is thirsting for the living water that Jesus alone can give" (Ecclesia in Asia, 50). These prophetic words of the Servant of God John Paul II still resound as a summons addressed to each member of the Church in Asia. If the lay faithful are to take up this mission, they need to become ever more conscious of the grace of their Baptism and the dignity which is theirs as sons and daughters of God the Father, sharers in the death and resurrection of Jesus his Son, and anointed by the Holy Spirit as members of Christ’s mystical Body which is the Church. In union of mind and heart with their Pastors, and accompanied at every step of their journey of faith by a sound spiritual and catechetical formation, they need to be encouraged to cooperate actively not only in building up their local Christian communities but also in making new pathways for the Gospel in every sector of society. Vast horizons of mission are now opening up before the lay men and women of Asia in their efforts to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel; I think especially of the opportunities offered by their example of Christian married love and family life, their defense of God’s gift of life from conception to natural death, their loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, their willingness to forgive their enemies and persecutors, their example of justice, truthfulness and solidarity in the workplace, and their presence in public life.

The increasing numbers of committed, trained and enthusiastic lay persons is thus a sign of immense hope for the future of the Church in Asia. Here I wish to single out with gratitude the outstanding work of the many catechists who bring the riches of the Catholic faith to young and old alike, drawing individuals, families and parish communities to an ever deeper encounter with the Risen Lord. The apostolic and charismatic movements are also a special gift of the Spirit, since they bring new life and vigor to the formation of the laity, particularly families and young people. The associations and ecclesial movements devoted to the promotion of human dignity and justice concretely demonstrate the universality of the Gospel message of our adoption as children of God. Along with the many individuals and groups committed to prayer and works of charity, as well as the contribution made by pastoral and parish councils, these groups play an important role in helping the particular Churches of Asia to be built up in faith and love, strengthened in communion with the universal Church and renewed in zeal for the spread of the Gospel.

For this reason, I pray that the present Congress will highlight the indispensable role of the lay faithful in the Church’s mission and develop specific programs and initiatives to assist them in their task of proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia today. I am confident that the deliberations of the Congress will stress that the Christian life and calling must be seen first and foremost as a source of sublime happiness and a gift to be shared with others. Every Catholic should be able to say, with the Apostle Paul, "For me, to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). Those who have found in Jesus the truth, joy and beauty which give meaning and direction to their lives will naturally desire to bring this grace to others. Undaunted by the presence of difficulties, or the enormity of the task at hand, they will trust in the mysterious presence of the Holy Spirit who is always at work in the hearts of individuals, in their traditions and cultures, mysteriously opening doors to Christ as "the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6), and the fulfilment of every human aspiration.

With these sentiments, I invoke upon all taking part in the Congress a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and I willingly join in the prayer which will accompany these days of study and discernment. May the Church in Asia bear ever more fervent witness to the incomparable beauty of being a Christian, and proclaim Jesus Christ as the one Savior of the world. Commending those present to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 10 August 2010


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Jesus' Humility
"Christ Himself Took the Lowest Place"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 29, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

In this Sunday’s Gospel (Luke 14:1, 7-14) we encounter Jesus dining in the house of one of the leaders of the Pharisees. Noting that the guests take the first places at table, he tells a parable set at a wedding feast. “When you are invited by someone to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor at table. A more distinguished guest than you may have been invited, and the host who invited you and him may approach you and say, ‘Give your place to this man!’ … Rather, when you are invited, take the last place” (Luke 14:8-10).

The Lord does not intend to give a lesson on etiquette nor on the hierarchy among different authorities. He is insisting on a decisive point having to do with humility: “Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11).

The deeper meaning of this parable makes us also think about man’s position in relation to God. The “last place” can, in fact, represent the condition of humanity degraded by sin, the condition from which the Incarnation of the only begotten Son alone can free it. For this reason Christ himself “took the lowest place in the world -- the Cross -- and by this radical humility he redeemed us and constantly comes to our aid” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 35).

At the end of the parable Jesus suggests to the leader of the Pharisees that he not invite his friends, family or rich neighbors to his table but the poorest people and the marginalized, who are unable to pay him back (cf. Luke 14:13-14), so that the gift be gratuitous. In the end the greatest recompense will be given by God, “who governs the world. … We offer him our service only to the extent that we can, and for as long as he grants us the strength” (“Deus Caritas Est,” 35).

Once again, therefore, we gaze upon Christ as model of humility and gratuity: from him we learn patience in temptations, meekness when we are offended, obedience to God in suffering, waiting for him who invited us to say to us: “Friend, come up higher!” (cf. Luke 14:10); the true good, in fact, is to be near him.

St. Louis IX, King of France -- whose memorial was observed last Wednesday -- put into practice what is written in the Book of Sirach: “The greater you are, the more you must humble yourself, and you will find grace before the Lord” (3:18). In his spiritual testament to his son he wrote: “If the Lord gives you some prosperity, not only must you humbly thank him, but take good care and do not become worse because of vainglory or something else, take care not to enter into conflict with God or offend him with his own gifts” (“Acta Sanctorum Augusti” 5 [1868], 546).

Dear friends, today we recall the martyrdom of St. John the Baptist, the greatest among the prophets of Christ, who knew how to deny himself to make room for the Savior, and who suffered and died for the truth. Let us ask him and the Virgin Mary to guide us along the way of humility to become worthy of the divine recompense.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted those present in various languages. Ii English he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here today, especially the group of students from the Pontifical North American College. I pray that all of you, whether you are here on holiday or on pilgrimage or pursuing studies in Rome, will be able to draw closer to the Lord in prayer and thanksgiving. May God bestow abundant blessings upon all of you, and upon your families and loved ones at home.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[And he concluded his greetings in Italian:]

I wish everyone a good Sunday.


Papal Message for Mother Teresa's 100th Birthday
Christ's "Thirst for Souls Is Quenched by Your Ministry"

VATICAN CITY, AUG. 26, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the Missionaries of Charity on the occasion of today's 100th anniversary of the birth of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the order. The message was directed to the superior-general of the order, Sister Mary Prema.

* * *

I send cordial greetings to you and to all the Missionaries of Charity at the start of the celebrations of the centenary of the birth of Blessed Mother Teresa, founder of your order and exemplary model of Christian virtues. I trust that this year will be for the Church and for the world an occasion of fervent gratitude to God for the invaluable gift that Mother Teresa was in the course of her life and that she continues to be through the loving and tireless work that you, her spiritual daughters, carry out.

To prepare for this year, you have sought to come closer to the person of Jesus, whose thirst for souls is quenched by your ministry for him among the poorest of the poor. Having responded with trust to the direct call of the Lord, Mother Teresa exemplified excellently the words of St. John: "Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another. ... [I]f we love one another, God remains in us and his love is brought to perfection in us" (1 John 4:11-12).

May this love continue to inspire you, Missionaries of Charity, to give yourselves generously to Jesus, to all those you see and serve, that is, to the poor, the marginalized, the abandoned. I encourage you to draw constantly from the spirituality and the example of Mother Teresa and, following in her footsteps, to accept Christ's invitation: "Come and be my light."

Participating spiritually in the celebrations for the centenary, with great affection in the Lord, I impart to the Missionaries of Charity and to all those you serve, my heartfelt paternal Apostolic Blessing.


On the Saints, Companions on the Journey
"Each One Should Have a Saint That Is Familiar to Him"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the life of each one of us there are very dear persons, to whom we feel particularly close; some are already in God's arms, others still share with us the journey of life: they are our parents, relatives, educators. They are persons to whom we have done good or from whom we have received good. They are persons we know we can count on. However, it is also important to have "travel companions" on the journey of our Christian life: I am thinking of a spiritual director, a confessor, persons with whom we can share the experience of faith, but I am also thinking of the Virgin Mary and of the saints. Each one should have a saint that is familiar to him, to whom he feels close with prayer and intercession, but also to imitate him or her. Hence, I would like to invite you to know the saints better, beginning with the one whose name you bear, by reading his life, his writings. You can be certain that they will become good guides to love the Lord ever more and valid aids for your human and Christian growth.

As you know, I am also united in a special way to some saints: among these, in addition to St. Joseph and St. Benedict, whose names I bear, and of others, is St. Augustine, whom I had the great gift of knowing, so to speak, up close through study and prayer, and who has become a good "travel companion" in my life and my ministry. I would like to stress once again an important aspect of his human and Christian experience, timely also in our age, in which it seems that relativism is, paradoxically, the "truth" that must guide thought, decisions and behavior.

St. Augustine was a man who never lived superficially. Thirst [for Truth], an anxious and constant search for Truth, is one of the underlying characteristics of his existence; however, [he didn't seek] "pseudo-truths" incapable of giving lasting peace of heart, but that Truth that gives meaning to existence and that is the "dwelling" in which the heart finds serenity and joy. His, we know, was not an easy journey: He thought he found Truth in prestige, in his career, in the possession of things, in the voices that promised him immediate happiness. He committed errors, went through sadness, faced failures, but he never paused, he was never satisfied with what gave him only a ray of light.

He was able to look into the depth of himself and he realized, as he writes in his Confessions, that that Truth, that God that he was looking for with his efforts was more intimate to him than he was to himself. He had always been by his side, had never abandoned him, was waiting to be able to enter into his life definitively (cf. III, 6, 11; X, 27, 38).

As I said commenting recently on a film on his life, in his anxious search, St. Augustine understood that it was not he who had found Truth, but that Truth itself, which is God, pursued and found him (cf. L'Osservatore Romano, Thursday, Sept. 4, 2009, p. 8). Commenting on a passage of the third chapter of the Confessions, Romano Guardini affirms: St. Augustine understood that God is glory that puts us on our knees, drink that extinguishes thirst, treasure that makes us happy, [...he had] the pacifying certainty of one who has finally understood, but also the blessedness of the love that knows: this is everything and it is enough for me" (Pensatori religiosi, Brescia, 2001, p. 177).

Again in the Confessions, in the ninth book, our saint gives us a conversation with his mother, St. Monica -- whose memorial is celebrated Friday, day after tomorrow. It is a very beautiful scene: he and his mother are in Ostia, in an inn, and from the window they see the sky and the sea, and they transcend sky and sea, and for a moment touch the heart of God in the silence of creatures. And here a fundamental idea appears in the journey toward Truth: creatures must be silent so that there will be a silence in which God can speak. This is also true in our time: Sometimes there is a sort of fear of silence, of recollection, of reflecting on one's acts, on the profound meaning of one's life. Often preferred is living the fleeting moment, hoping that it will bring lasting happiness. One prefers to live, because it seems easier, with superficiality, without thinking; there is fear of seeking the Truth, or perhaps there is fear that the Truth will find us, will grip us and change our life, as happened to St. Augustine. '

Dear brothers and sisters, I would like to say to all, also to those in a difficult moment in their faith journey, those who do not participate much in the life of the Church, or those who live "as if God did not exist" that they not be afraid of the Truth, that they never interrupt their journey toward it, that they never cease to seek the profound truth about themselves and about things with the internal eyes of the heart.

God will not fail to give Light so that one can see, and Warmth to feel the heart that loves us and that wants to be loved.

May the intercession of the Virgin Mary, of St. Augustine and of St. Monica accompany us on this journey.


On Our Mother and Queen
"Let Us Entrust the Daily Prayer for Peace to Her Intercession"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 22, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

Eight days after the solemnity of her Assumption into heaven, the liturgy invites us to venerate the Blessed Virgin Mary with the title of "Queen." The Mother of Christ is contemplated being crowned by her Son, that is, linked to his universal kingship, as is depicted in numerous mosaics and paintings. This memorial too recurs this year on Sunday, acquiring greater light from the Word of God and from the weekly Easter ("Pasqua") celebration.

In particular, the icon of the Virgin Mary as Queen has a meaningful verification in today's Gospel, where Jesus states: "Behold, there are those who last who shall be first and those who are first who shall be last" (Luke 13:30). This is a typical expression of Christ, reported many times by the evangelists -- even with similar formulas -- because it evidently reflects a theme dear to his prophetic preaching. The Madonna is a perfect example of such evangelical truth, that is, that God brings low the proud and powerful of this world and raises up the humble (cf. Luke 1:52).

The simple little girl of Nazareth has become the Queen of the world! This is one of the marvels that reveal the heart of God. Naturally, Mary's royalty is completely dependent on Christ's: He is the Lord, who, after the humiliation of death on the cross, the Father exalted above every creature in heaven, on earth and under the earth (cf. Philippians 2:9-11). Through a design of grace, the Immaculate Mother was completely bound to the mystery of the Son: to his Incarnation; to his earthly life, at first hidden in Nazareth and then manifested in the messianic mystery; to his passion and death; and finally to the resurrection and ascension in heaven. The Mother shared with the Son not only the human aspects of this mystery but also the profound intention, the divine will, in such a way that her entire existence, poor and humble, was elevated, transformed, glorified, passing through the "narrow gate" that is Jesus himself (cf. Luke 13:24). Yes, Mary was the first to walk along the narrow "way," opened up by Christ, to enter into the Kingdom of God, a way that is accessible to the humble, to those who entrust themselves to the Word of God and who endeavor to put it into practice.

In the history of the cities and peoples evangelized by the Christian message there are innumerable witnesses of public veneration, in some cases even institutional, of the Virgin Mary's royalty. But today we desire above all to renew, as sons of the Church, our devotion to her whom Jesus left to us as Mother and Queen. Let us entrust the daily prayer for peace to her intercession, especially in those places where the absurd logic of violence rages most, so that all men are persuaded that in this world we must help each other as brothers to build the civilization of love. "Maria, Regina pacis, ora pro nobis!"

[Following the Angelus the Holy Fathered greeted those present in several languages. In English he said:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In a particular way I welcome a group of young Orthodox Christians from Galilee. Today's Gospel reminds us that the way to heaven is through the narrow door. May we enter through this narrow door by means of prayer, humility and service of our neighbours, and thus live the joy of the Kingdom even now. Upon you and your loved ones, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Pope St. Pius X
A Pontificate "Characterized by a Notable Effort of Reform"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 18, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to reflect on the figure of my predecessor St. Pius X, whose liturgical memorial will be observed Saturday, to emphasize some of his characteristics that can also be useful for the pastors and faithful of our time.

Giuseppe Sarto -- that was his name -- was born in Riese, Treviso, in 1835 to a peasant family. After studying in the Seminary of Padua, he was ordained a priest at age 23. First he was vice-parish priest in Tombolo, then parish priest in Salzano, then canon of the cathedral of Treviso with the office of episcopal chancellor and spiritual director of the diocesan seminary. During those years of rich and generous pastoral experience, the future Pontiff showed that profound love of Christ and of the Church, that humility and simplicity and that great charity toward the neediest, which were characteristics of his whole life.

In 1884 he was appointed bishop of Mantua and in 1893 patriarch of Venice. On Aug. 4, 1903, he was elected Pope, a ministry that he accepted with hesitation, because he did not think he measured up to the loftiness of such a task.

St. Pius X's pontificate has left an indelible mark on the history of the Church, and was characterized by a notable effort of reform, synthesized in the motto "Instaurare omnia in Christo," (To Renew All Things in Christ.) His intervention, in fact, embraced various ecclesial ambits. From the beginning he dedicated himself to the reorganization of the Roman Curia; then he gave a green light to the work of writing the Code of Canon Law, promulgated by his successor, Benedict XV. Moreover, he promoted the revision of studies and of the iter of formation for future priests; he also founded several regional seminaries, equipped with good libraries and competent professors.

Another important sector was the doctrinal formation of the People of God. In the years he was a parish priest, he himself wrote a catechism, and during his episcopacy in Mantua he worked to establish a single catechism, if not universal, at least Italian. As a genuine pastor, he understood that the situation of the age, also because of the phenomenon of emigration, made necessary a catechism that all the faithful could refer to, regardless of the place and circumstances of life. As Pontiff he prepared a text of Christian doctrine for the Diocese of Rome, which later spread to the whole of Italy and the world. The catechism called "of Pius X" was for many a sure guide in learning the truths of the faith because of its simple, clear and precise language and its explanatory effectiveness.

He dedicated notable attention to the reform of the liturgy, in particular sacred music, to lead the faithful to a life of more profound prayer and to fuller participation in the sacraments. In the motu proprio "Tra le sollecitudini" (1931), he stated that the true Christian spirit has its first and indispensable source in active participation in the sacred mysteries and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church (cf. ASS 36 [1903], 531). That is why he recommended the frequent reception of the sacraments, fostering daily, well-prepared reception of Holy Communion, and opportunely moving earlier children's First Communion to around 7 years of age, "when," he said, "the child begins to reason." (cf. S. Congr. de Sacramentis, Decretum Quam singulari: ASS 2 [1910], 582).

Faithful to the task of confirming brethren in the faith, St. Pius X intervened with determination in the face of tendencies that manifested themselves in the theological realm at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th, condemning Modernism, to defend the faithful from erroneous concepts and to promote scientific reflection on revelation in harmony with the tradition of the Church. On May 7, 1909, with the apostolic letter "Vinea electa," he founded the Pontifical Biblical Institute. The last months of his life were embittered by the outbreak of the War. An appeal to the Catholics of the world launched on Aug. 2, 1914, to express "the acute grief" of that hour, was the suffering cry of a father who sees his children confront one another. He died shortly after, on Aug. 20, and his reputation for sanctity soon began to spread among the Christian people.

Dear brothers and sisters, St. Pius X teaches all of us that, at the foundation of our apostolic action, in the various fields in which we work, there must always be an intimate personal union with Christ, which must be cultivated and enhanced day after day. This is the kernel of all his teaching, of all his pastoral commitment. Only if we are enamored of the Lord will we be able to lead men to God and open them to his merciful love, and thus open the world to God's mercy.

[In English, he said:]

My dear brothers and sisters, today we recall Pope Saint Pius the Tenth, whose feast we celebrate this coming Saturday. He left an indelible mark in very many aspects of the Church’s life and activity, his overarching goal being to "renew all things in Christ" through our intimate personal union with our Saviour. By Pope Saint Pius’s prayers, may we grow daily in love for Christ and help open others to his love. God’s abundant blessings upon you all!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[At the end of the audience, the Pope made this final appeal:]

My thoughts go at this moment to the beloved peoples of Pakistan, affected recently by great floods, which have caused numerous victims and left many families homeless.

While I entrust to the merciful goodness of God all those who have passed away so tragically, I express my spiritual closeness to their families and to all those suffering because of this calamity. May these brothers of ours, so harshly tested, not lack our solidarity and the concrete aid of international solidarity.

[Translation by ZENIT]


On the Logic of Love
"Use Things Unselfishly Without Thirsting for Possession or Dominion"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 18, 2010 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 8 before praying the midday Angelus together with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Sunday's Gospel passage Jesus continues his teaching to the disciples on the value of the person in God's eyes and on the futility of mundane worries. This does not mean doing nothing. Indeed, on hearing Jesus' reassuring invitation: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom" (Lk 12: 32), our hearts open up to a hope which illumines and animates real life. We have the certainty that "the Gospel is not merely a communication of things that can be known it is one that makes things happen and is life-changing. The dark door of time, of the future, has been thrown open. Whoever has hope lives differently; the one who hopes has been granted the gift of a new life" (cf. Encyclical Spe Salvi, n. 2).

As we read in the passage from the Letter to the Hebrews in today's Liturgy, Abraham with a trusting heart entered into the hope that God opened to him, the promise of a land and of "numerous descendants", and left "not knowing where he was to go", trusting only in God (cf. 11: 8-12).

And Jesus in today's Gospel illustrates through three parables how waiting for the fulfilment of the "blessed hope", his Coming, should urge one more and more toward a profound life, rich in good works: "Sell your possessions, and give alms; provide yourselves with purses that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys" (Lk 12: 33). It is an invitation to use things unselfishly without thirsting for possession or dominion, but according to the logic of God, the logic of consideration for others, the logic of love: as Romano Guardini succinctly wrote, "in the form of a relationship: beginning with God, in view of God" (cf. Accettare se stessi, Brescia 1992, 44).

On that note, I wish to call attention to several Saints whom we are celebrating this week who based their lives on God and in view of God. Today we are commemorating St Dominic Guzmán, Founder in the 12th century of the Dominican Order which carries out the mission of instructing society on the truth of faith, preparing its members through study and prayer. In that same period St Clare of Assisi, whom we shall commemorate on Wednesday, promoted Franciscan works by founding the Order of the Poor Clares. On 10 August, we commemorate the Deacon St Lawrence, a Martyr of the 3rd century whose remains are venerated in the Basilica of St Lawrence Outside-the-Walls. Finally, we shall commemorate two other Martyrs of the 20th century who shared the same fate at Auschwitz. On 9 August we remember the Carmelite St Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, Edith Stein, and on 14 August, the Franciscan priest St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, Founder of the Militia of Mary Immaculate. Both passed through the dark time of the Second World War without ever losing sight of hope, of the God of Life and of Love.

Let us trust in the motherly support of the Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints, who lovingly shares our pilgrimage. To her we address our prayers.

After the Angelus :

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today's Gospel reminds us that by God's goodness much has been given to us, and much will be required of us. During these quiet days of summer let us thank the Lord for the many blessings we have received and draw ever closer to him in prayer, in fidelity to his commandment of love, and in communion with his Body, the Church. Upon you and your families I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord! I wish you all a good Sunday and a good week, Thank you!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Saints' Days
"By Choosing God They Possessed Everything They Needed"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, AUG. 18, 2010 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Aug. 1 before praying the midday Angelus together with the crowds gathered in the courtyard of the papal residence at Castel Gandolfo.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The liturgical commemorations of several Saints occurs in these days. Yesterday we commemorated St Ignatius of Loyola, the Founder of the Society of Jesus. He lived in the 16th century and was converted after reading the life of Jesus and the Saints, during a long convalescence, while recovering from a wound received in battle. He was so impressed by one of the passages he read that he decided to follow the Lord. Today we are commemorating St Alphonsus Mary Liguori, the Founder of the Redemptorists, who lived in the 17th century and was proclaimed Patron of confessors by Venerable Pius XII. He was aware that God wants everyone to be holy, each one in accordance with his own state, of course.

Then this week the liturgy proposes St Eusebius, the first Bishop of Piedmont, a strenuous defender of Christ's divinity, and, lastly, the figure of St John Mary Vianney, the Curé d'Ars, who guided the Year for Priests that has just ended with his example and to whose intercession I once again entrust all the Pastors of the Church. A common commitment of these Saints was to save souls and to serve the Church with their respective charisms, contributing to renew and enrich her. These men acquired "a heart of wisdom" (Ps 90 [89]: 12), setting store by what is incorruptible and discarding what is irremediably changeable in time: power, riches and transient pleasures. By choosing God they possessed everything they needed, with a foretaste of eternity even in life on earth (cf. Eccles 1-5).

In this Sunday's Gospel, Jesus' teaching concerns, precisely, true wisdom and is introduced by one of the crowd: "Teacher, bid my brother divide the inheritance with me" (Lk 12: 13). In answering, Jesus puts him on guard against those who are influenced by the desire for earthly goods with the Parable of the Rich Fool who having put away for himself an abundant harvest stops working, uses up all he possesses, enjoying himself and even deceives himself into thinking he can keep death at an arm's length. However God says to him "Fool! This night your soul is required of you; and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?" (Lk 12: 20). The fool in the Bible, the one who does not want to learn from the experience of visible things, that nothing lasts for ever but that all things pass away, youth and physical strength, amenities and important roles. Making one's life depend on such an ephemeral reality is therefore foolishness. The person who trusts in the Lord, on the other hand, does not fear the adversities of life, nor the inevitable reality of death: he is the person who has acquired a wise heart, like the Saints.

In addressing our prayer to Mary Most Holy, I would like to remember other important occasions: tomorrow it will be possible to profit from the Indulgence known as the Portiuncola Indulgence or the "Pardon of Assisi" that St Francis obtained in 1216 from Pope Honorius III; Thursday, 5 August, in commemorating the Dedication of the Basilica of St Mary Major, we will honour the Mother of God, acclaimed with this title at the Council of Ephesus in 431, and next Friday, the anniversary of Pope Paul VI's death, we will celebrate the Feast of the Transfiguration. The date of 6 August, seen as crowned by summer light, was chosen to mean that the splendour of Christ's Face illuminates the whole world.

After the Angelus:

I would like to express my deep pleasure at the entry into force, on this very day, of the Convention on cluster bombs that cause unacceptable damage to civilians. My first thought goes to the many victims who have suffered and continue to suffer serious physical and moral damage, even to the point of losing their lives, because of these insidious explosive devices whose presence on earth often causes long delays in the resumption of their daily activities by entire communities. With the entry into force of the new Convention to which I urge all States to adhere, the International Community has been proof of wisdom, farsightedness and skill in pursuing an important result in the field of disarmament and international human rights. My hope and encouragement is that we may continue with ever greater vigour on this path, for the defence of dignity and human life, for the promotion of integral human development, for the establishment of a peaceful international order and for the realization of the common good of all people and all peoples.

* * *

I am very pleased to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present, especially those of you who have come from Canada and Australia. In the Gospel of today's Mass, our Lord teaches us to store up treasure for ourselves, not on earth, but in heaven. By God's grace, then, let us seek to grow in faith and good works. In this sense, I willingly invoke upon all of you God's abundant blessings!
Thank you for coming. I wish you all a good Sunday!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



On the Example of Mary
"A Source of Courage and Hope for All of Us"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address yesterday, solemnity of the Assumption of the Virgin, before he prayed the midday Angelus together with pilgrims gathered in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today, Solemnity of the Assumption into Heaven of the Mother of God, we celebrate the passage from the earthly condition to heavenly blessedness of her who engendered in the flesh and received in faith the Lord of Life.

Veneration of the Virgin Mary has accompanied the path of the Church since the beginning; Marian feasts began to appear already in the 4th century: exalted in some is the role of the Virgin in the history of salvation; celebrated in others are the principal moments of her earthly existence.

The meaning of today's feast is contained in the final words of the dogmatic definition proclaimed by the Venerable Pius XII on Nov. 1, 1950, of which the 60th anniversary is celebrated this year: "The Ever Immaculate Virgin Mary, Mother of God, ending the course of her earthly life, was taken to heavenly glory in soul and body" (Apostolic Constitution "Munificentissiumus Deus," AAS 42 [1950], 770).

Artists of all times have painted and sculpted the holiness of the Mother of the Lord adorning churches and shrines. Poets, writers and musicians have paid tribute to the Virgin with liturgical hymns and songs. From East to West the All Holy One is invoked as heavenly Mother, who holds the Son of God in her arms and under whose protection the whole of humanity finds refuge, with the very ancient prayer: "We shelter under your protection, Holy Mother of God: despise not our petitions in our needs, but deliver us from all danger, O glorious and blessed Virgin."

And in the Gospel of today's Solemnity, St. Luke describes the realization of salvation through the Virgin Mary. She, in whose womb the Omnipotent became small, after the Angel's annunciation, without any hesitation, goes in haste to her cousin Elizabeth to take to her the Savior of the world. And, in fact, "when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and [she] was filled with the Holy Spirit" (Luke 1:41); she recognized the Mother of God in her "who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (Luke 1:45). The two women, who were awaiting the fulfillment of the divine promises, already had a foretaste of the joy of the coming of the Kingdom of God, the joy of salvation.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us trust in the One who -- as the Servant of God Paul VI affirmed -- "assumed to heaven, has not ceased her mission of intercession and salvation" (Apostolic Exhortation "Marialis Cultus," 18, AAS 66 [1974], 130). To her, guide of the Apostles, support of Martyrs, light of the Saints, we address our prayer, imploring that she accompany us in this earthly life, that she help us to look to Heaven and that she receive us one day together with her Son Jesus.

[After the Angelus, the Holy Father said in English]

I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors. Today we join our voices to the many generations who praise the Virgin Mary and call her blessed for her glorious Assumption into Heaven. Her example of faithful perseverance in doing the will of God and her heavenly reward are a source of courage and hope for all of us. May God bless you and your families with peace and joy!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Homily on Feast of Assumption
"Nothing of What Is Precious and Loved Will Be Ruined"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, AUG. 16, 2010- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Sunday for the feast of Mary's Assumption, which he celebrated in the parish Church of St. Thomas of Villanueva.

* * *

Eminence, Excellency, Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Today the Church celebrates one of the most important feasts of the liturgical year dedicated to Mary Most Holy: the Assumption. At the end of her earthly life, Mary was taken in soul and body to heaven, that is, to the glory of eternal life, in full and perfect communion with God.

Celebrated this year is the 60th anniversary since the Venerable Pope Pius XII solemnly defined this dogma on Nov. 1, 1950, and I would like to read -- although it is somewhat complicated -- the form of the dogmatization. The Pope says: "Hence the revered Mother of God, from all eternity joined in a hidden way with Jesus Christ in one and the same decree of predestination, immaculate in her conception, a most perfect virgin in her divine motherhood, the noble associate of the divine Redeemer who has won a complete triumph over sin and its consequences, finally obtained, as the supreme culmination of her privileges, that she should be preserved free from the corruption of the tomb and that, like her own Son, having overcome death, she might be taken up body and soul to the glory of heaven where, as Queen, she sits in splendor at the right hand of her Son, the immortal King of the Ages" (Apostolic Constitution "Munificentissimus Deus," 40).

This is, hence, the nucleus of our faith in the Assumption: we believe that Mary, as Christ her Son, has already conquered death and triumphs now in heavenly glory in the totality of her being, "in soul and body."

St. Paul, in today's second reading, helps us to throw some light on this mystery from the central event of human history and from our faith: that is, the event of the resurrection of Christ, who is "the first fruits of those who have died."

Immersed in his Paschal Mystery, we have been made sharers in his victory over sin and death. Herein is the amazing secret and the key reality of the whole of human history. St. Paul tells us that we were all "incorporated" in Adam, the first and old man, we all have the same human inheritance to which he belongs: suffering, death, sin. However to this reality that all of us can see and live every day he adds something new: We are not only in this inheritance of the one human being, begun with Adam, but we are also "incorporated" in the new man, in the Risen Christ, and thus the life of the Resurrection is already present among us.

Hence, this first biological "incorporation" is incorporation in death, incorporation that generates death. The second, the new one that is given to us in baptism, is "incorporation" that gives life. I quote again today's Second Letter; St. Paul says: "For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life, but each one in proper order: Christ the firstfruits; then, at his coming, those who belong to Christ" (1 Corinthians 15:21-24).

Now, what St. Paul states about all men, the Church, in her infallible teaching, says of Mary, in a precise way and meaning: the Mother of God is inserted to such a degree in the mystery of Christ that she shares in the resurrection of her Son with her whole being already at the end of her earthly life, she lives what we hope for at the end of time when death, "the last enemy," will be destroyed (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:26); she already lives what we proclaim in the Creed "I look for the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come."

Hence, we can ask ourselves: What are the roots of this victory over death anticipated miraculously in Mary? The roots are in the faith of the Virgin of Nazareth, as attested in the passage of the Gospel we heard (Luke 1:39-56): a faith that is obedience to the Word of God and total abandonment to divine initiative and action, according to what the archangel announces to her. Faith, hence, is Mary's greatness, as Elizabeth joyfully proclaims: Mary is "blessed among women," "blessed is the fruit of her womb" because she is "the mother of the Lord," because she believes and lives in a unique way the "first" of the beatitudes, the beatitude of faith. Elizabeth confesses it in her joy and that of the child who leaps in her womb: "And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord" (vs. 45).

Dear friends! Let us not limit ourselves to admire Mary in her glorious destiny, as a person who is far from us: no! We are called to see what the Lord, in his love, also willed for us, for our final destiny: to live through faith in perfect communion of love with him and thus to truly live.

In this connection, I would like to pause on an aspect of the dogmatic affirmation, where it speaks of assumption to heavenly glory. All of us are conscious today that with the term "heaven," we do not refer to some place in the universe, to a star or something similar: no. We refer to something much bigger and more difficult to define with our limited human concepts. With this term "heaven," we mean to affirm that God, the God who has made himself close to us, does not abandon us, not even in death and beyond it, but that he has a place for us and he gives us eternity; we want to affirm that there is a place for us in God. To understand this reality somewhat more, let us look at our own life: We all know that when a person dies he continues to subsist in the memory and the heart of those who knew and loved him. We could say that a part of that person continues to live in them, but it is as a "shadow" because this survival in the heart of his loved ones is also destined to end. God instead never passes and all of us exist because of his love. We exist because he loves us, because he has thought of us and called us to life. We exist in the thoughts and love of God. We exist in all our reality, not only in our "shadow." Our serenity, our hope, our peace are founded precisely on this: on God, on his thought and on his love, it is not only a "shadow" of ourselves that survives, but that in him, in his creative love, we are kept and introduced with our whole life, with our whole being into eternity.

It is his love that conquers death and gives us eternity, and it is this love that we call "heaven": God is so great that he also has a space for us. And the man Jesus, who is at the same time God, is for us the guarantee that being-man and being-God can exist and live eternally in one another. This means that each one of us will not continue existing only in a part that has been, so to speak, wrenched from us, while the rest is ruined; it means rather that God knows and loves the whole man, what we are. And God receives in his eternity what now, in our life, made up of suffering and love, of hope, of joy and sadness, grows and comes to be. The whole man, the whole of his life is taken by God and, purified in him, receives eternity.

Dear friends! I think this is a truth that should fill us with joy. Christianity does not proclaim merely a certain salvation of the soul in some imprecise place beyond, in which everything in this world that was precious and loved by us is erased, but it promises eternal life, "the life of the world to come": Nothing of what is precious and loved will be ruined, but will find its fulfillment in God. All the hairs of our head are numbered, Jesus said one day (cf. Matthew 10:30). The final world will also be the fulfillment of this earth, as St. Paul states: "creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God" (Romans 8:21).

Understood therefore is that Christianity gives strong hope in a luminous future and opens the way to the realization of this future. We are called, precisely as Christians, to build this new world, to work so that it will become one day the "world of God," a world that will surpass everything that we ourselves could build. In Mary assumed into heaven, fully sharing in the resurrection of her Son, we contemplate the realization of the human creature according to the "world of God."

Let us pray to the Lord to make us understand how precious our life is in his eyes; may he reinforce our faith in eternal life; may he make us people of hope, who work to build a world open to God, people full of joy who are able to perceive the beauty of the future world in the midst of the cares of daily life and, with this certainty, live, believe and hope.



Pope's Greeting to Knights of Columbus
"An Outstanding Witness to the Charity of Christ"

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 16, 2010 - Here is the greeting Benedict XVI sent to the Knights of Columbus on the occasion of the 128th Supreme Convention, which was held Aug. 3-5 in Washington, D.C. The message was sent through the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

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Dear Mr. Anderson,

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to learn that from 3-5 August 2010 the 128th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will be held in Washington, D.C. He has asked me to convey his warm personal greetings and good wishes to all in attendance, and in a special way to you as you celebrate the tenth anniversary of your election as the Supreme Knight.

The theme of this year's Supreme Convention -- "I Am My Brother's Keeper" -- calls to mind the spirit of fraternal solidarity which inspired the founding of the Knights of Columbus and continues to guide its manifold activities. It was concern for the welfare of working men and their families, born of Christ's teaching and the Church's long tradition of social engagement and charitable service, that led the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney and his associates to organize the Knights as a benevolent and fraternal association. From the beginning, this commitment to the Gospel imperative of love of neighbor has directed the various activities and programs of your Order, and today too, it is seen most evidently in the concrete gestures of charity and community service undertaken by the members of local Councils the world over. His Holiness wishes before all else to express his gratitude for this great outpouring of solidarity and love, which represents an outstanding witness to the charity of Christ and the saving truth of the Gospel. "Openness to God makes us open towards our brothers and sisters and towards an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity" (Caritas in Veritate, 78), and this, in turn, enables Christians, in the concrete circumstances of their daily lives, to become convincing signs of God's goodness and the attractiveness of the Christian message.

His Holiness is personally grateful for the generous support which the Knights have given him in recent months, especially through their constant prayers and particularly in the Novena conducted on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his election. He remains deeply consoled by this testimony of fidelity to Christ's vicar amid the turbulence of the times, and he asks that prayers continue to be offered up for the unity of the Church, the spread of the Gospel and the conversion of hearts. In a particular way he expresses his appreciation to the members of your Order for their spiritual solidarity with the clergy throughout the recently concluded Year for Priests. Here too, your traditional spirit of faith and fraternity found ready expression in the desire to stand, as your "brother's keeper," alongside your priests and to confirm them in their vocation to holiness and the generous service of God's People. In the face of often unfair and unfounded attacks on the Church and her leaders, His Holiness is convinced that the most effective response is a great fidelity to God's word, a more resolute pursuit of holiness, and an increased commitment to charity in truth on the part of all the faithful. He asks the Knights to persevere in their witness of faith and charity, in the serene trust that, as the Church embraces this period of purification, her light will come to shine all the more brightly (cf. Mt 5:15-16) before men and women of fair mind and good will.

In the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," the Holy Father saw the present world economic crisis as a timely reminder that no area of human activity is exempt from moral responsibility (No. 2). At a time when fundamental moral norms, grounded in truth and inscribed in the human heart, are increasingly called into question and at times overturned by positive legislation, he is grateful for the efforts made by the Knights, in cooperation with other men and women of good will, to uphold the reasonableness of the Church's moral teaching and its importance for a sound, just and enduring social order. He once more thanks your Order for its witness to the sanctity of human life and the authentic nature of marriage, and for its efforts to promote in the Catholic laity a greater consciousness of the need to overcome every separation between the faith we profess and the daily decisions which shape our lives as individuals and the life of society as a whole.

With these sentiments and with great affection in the Lord, His Holiness commends all assembled in Washington to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. To the members of the Supreme Council, and to all the Knights and their families, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant heavenly graces.

With personal good wishes for the success of the meeting, I remain Yours sincerely,

Tarcisio Card. Bertone


Pontiff's Words on Seeing Film of His Pontificate
"It Was For Me Personally Very Moving"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 30, 2010 - Here is the brief address Benedict XVI gave Thursday after viewing a documentary on the first five years of his pontificate, titled "Fünf Jahre Papst Benedikt" (Five Years: Pope Benedict XVI). The film is a production of Bayerischer Rundfunk, a public broadcaster in Bavaria, Germany.

Michael Mandlik directs the film, and Gerhard Fuchs is the executive director.

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Eminence, Excellencies,

Dear Professor Fuchs, Dear Mandlik, Dear Friends, Ladies and Gentlemen,

At this moment I can only say thank you to Bayerischer Rundfunk for this extraordinary spiritual journey, which has enabled us to relive and see again determinant and culminating moments of these five years of my Petrine service and of the life of the Church herself.

It was for me personally very moving to see some moments, above all the one in which the Lord placed on my shoulders the Petrine service. A weight that no one could carry by himself with his limited strength, but which can be carried because the Lord carries it and carries me. It seems to me that in this film we saw the richness of the life of the Church, the multiplicity of cultures, of charisms, of different gifts that live in the Church and how in this multiplicity and great diversity the same one Church lives. And the Petrine primacy has this mandate to render the unity visible and concrete, in the historical, concrete multiplicity, in the unity of the present, past, future and the eternal.

We have seen that also today the Church, although she suffers so much, as we know, is, however, a joyful Church. It is not an aged Church, but we have seen that the Church is young and that faith creates joy. That is why I have found very interesting, a beautiful idea, that of inserting everything in the framework of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, of the "Hymn to Joy," which expresses as the background of the whole of history, the joy of our redemption. I also found it beautiful that the film ends with the visit to the Mother of God, who teaches us humility, obedience and the joy that God is with us.

A cordial "may God render you merit" to you, dear Mr. Professor Fuchs, dear Mr. Mandlik and to all your collaborators, for this magnificent moment that you have given us.


On the Our Father
"Words of Sacred Scripture That We Have Known Since Childhood"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 25, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This Sunday’s Gospel presents us with Jesus recollected in prayer, a bit apart from his disciples. When he finished, one of them said: “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus did not object, he did not offer strange or esoteric formulas, but with great simplicity said: “When you pray, say: ‘Father…,’” and taught the Our Father (cf. Luke 11:2-4), drawing from his own prayer, with which he addresses God, his Father. St. Luke hands down the Our Father to us in a briefer form than we find in the Gospel of St. Matthew, which has entered into common use. We are before the first words of sacred Scripture that we have known since childhood. They fix themselves in the memory, they form our lives, they accompany us until our last breaths. They reveal that “we are in no way already complete as sons of God, but we must more and more become so and be so through our ever deeper communion with Jesus. Being sons becomes equivalent to following Christ” (Benedetto XVI, “Gesù di Nazaret,” Milano 2007, p. 168).

This prayer also incorporates and expresses human material and spiritual needs: “Give us each day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:3-4). It is precisely because of everyday needs and difficulties that Jesus forcefully exhorts: “I say to you: Ask and you shall be given, seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened to you. Because whoever asks receives and whoever seeks finds and for whoever knocks it is opened” (Luke 11:9-10). It is not an asking to satisfy one’s own wants but rather to keep alive one’s friendship with God, who -- the Gospel always says -- “shall give the Holy Spirit to those who ask for him!” (Luke 11:13).

It was experienced by the ancient “Desert Fathers” and contemplatives of every age, who through prayer, became friends of God, like Abraham, who implored the Lord to save the few just people from the extermination of the city of Sodom (cf. Genesis 18:23-32). St. Teresa of Avila said to her sisters: “We must beg God always to free us from every danger and to take away every evil from us. And however imperfect our desire, we must make an effort to persist in this request. What does it cost us to ask so much, given that we address the Omnipotent?” (“Cammino,” 60 (34), 4, in Opere complete, Milano 1998, p. 846).

Every time we recite the Our Father our voice interweaves with the voice of the Church, because no one who prays is ever alone. “Each one of the faithful must try to seek and can find in the truth and wealth of Christian prayer, taught by the Church, his own way, his own style of prayer … he will thus let himself be guided … by the Holy Spirit, who leads him, through Christ, to the Father” (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “Letter on certain aspects of Christian meditation,” 15 October 1989, 29: AAS 82 [1990], 378).

Today is the feast of the Apostle James known as “the Greater,” who left his father and his work as a fisherman to follow Jesus and give his life for him -- the first among the Apostles to do so. From my heart I address a special thought to the many pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela! May the Virgin Mary help us to rediscover the beauty and the profundity of Christian prayer.


On Martha and Mary
"We Are Reminded of the Need to Rest From Our Daily Labors"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, JULY 18, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

We are already in the heart of the summer, at least in the northern hemisphere. This is the time in which the schools are closed and in which most vacations are concentrated. Even the pastoral activities of the parishes are reduced, and I myself have suspended audiences for a period. It is therefore a favorable moment to give first place to what is effectively the most important thing in life, that is to say, listening to the Word of God. This Sunday's Gospel always reminds us of this with the celebrated episode of Jesus' visit to the house of Martha and Mary narrated by St. Luke (10:38-42).

Martha and Mary are two sisters; they also have a brother, Lazarus, who, however, does not appear in this case. Jesus passes through their village and -- the text says -- Martha welcomes him (cf. 10:38). This detail gives one to understand that, of the two sisters, Martha is the oldest, the one who rules the house. In fact, after Jesus is accommodated, Mary sits at his feet and listens to him, while Martha is completely absorbed with much serving, which is certainly due to the exceptional guest. We seem to see the scene: One sister is very busy and the other is enraptured by the presence of the Master and his words. After a while Martha, evidently resentful, no longer resists and protests, also feeling that she has the right to criticize Jesus: "Lord, does it not matter to you that my sister has left me to do all the serving? Tell her, therefore, to help me." Indeed, Martha would like to teach the Master! But Jesus, with great calm, answers: "Martha, Martha" -- and this name repeated expresses affection -- "you are anxious and worried about many things, but there is only one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her" (Luke 10:41-42). Christ's word is quite clear: no scorn for the active life, nor much less for the generous hospitality; but a plain reminder of the fact that the one thing that is truly necessary is something else: listening to the Word of the Lord; and the Lord is there in that moment, present in the person of Jesus! Everything else will pass and will be taken away from us, but the Word of God is eternal and gives meaning to our daily activity.

Dear Friends, as I said, this Gospel passage is very important at vacation time, because it recalls the fact that the human person must work, must involve himself in domestic and professional concerns, to be sure, but he has need of God before all else, who is the interior light of love and truth. Without love, even the most important activities lose value and do not bring joy. Without a profound meaning, everything we do is reduced to sterile and disordered activism. And who gives us love and truth if not Jesus Christ? So let us learn, brothers, to help each other, to cooperate, but first of all to choose together the better part, which is and will always be our greater good.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the faithful in various languages. In English he said:]

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors here in Castel Gandolfo. In today's Gospel we are reminded of the need to rest from our daily labors, so that we may give time to the one thing that is truly necessary in our lives -- listening to the word of God in attentive stillness. It is Mary, not Martha, who chose the better part. At this time when many of you are on holiday, I pray that you and your loved ones may be truly refreshed in body and spirit, so that you may return with renewed vigor to the responsibilities of your daily lives. May God bless you all!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Letter to Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem
Written After Pope's Trip to Cyprus

VATICAN CITY, JULY 12, 2010 - Here is the letter Benedict XVI sent to Latin Patriarch Fouad Twal of Jerusalem after the Pope's apostolic visit to Cyprus. The Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem published the letter today.

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For His Beatitude Fouad Twal
Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem

I am writing to thank you sincerely for the warm welcome I received from you and from the flock entrusted to your care during my recent apostolic journey to the Republic of Cyprus.

With great personal satisfaction, I had the opportunity to know first hand how, under your pastoral care, many Latin Cypriots of ancient origin have shown themselves faithful to its rich patrimony. Please, express to them my paternal prayers and good wishes to their health and prosperity.

At the same time, it was very gratifying to know that the numbers of the Catholic community have increased due to the Latin residents and immigrants of other continents, including Europe, Africa and Asia. It is my fervent prayer that all Latin Catholics in the Holy Land, with their respective languages, customs and traditions, will make an effort to collaborate happily as brothers and sisters and will become a brilliant example of the unbreakable bonds of union in love which are the real signs of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

To you and to the faithful entrusted to your care I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing, as pledge of grace and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, June 7, 2010
+Benedictus PP. XVI


On the Good Samaritan
"The Logic of Christ ... Is the Logic of Charity"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 11, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those gathered in the courtyard of the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

A few days ago -- as you see -- I left Rome for the summer sojourn at Castel Gandolfo. I thank God who offers me this possibility of rest. To the dear inhabitants of this town, where I always gladly return, I offer my cordial greeting.

This Sunday’s Gospel opens with the question that a doctor of the law poses to Jesus: “Master, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 10:25). Knowing that he is an expert in the sacred Scriptures, the Lord invites that man to answer the question himself, which, in fact, he formulates perfectly, citing the two principal commandments: love God with all your heart, with all your mind and all your strength, and love your neighbor as yourself. Then the doctor of the law, to justify himself, asks: “Who is my neighbor?” (Luke 10:29). This time Jesus answers with the celebrated parable of the “Good Samaritan” (cf. Luke 10:30-37), to point out that it belongs to us to be “neighbors” to whomever has need of help. The Samaritan, in fact, takes charge of the situation of a stranger, whom the brigands left half dead on the side of the road; while a priest and a Levite passed him by, perhaps thinking that, because of a certain precept, they would be contaminated if they came in contact with his blood. The parable, thus, must make us change our attitude following the logic of Christ, which is the logic of charity: God is love, and worshiping him means serving our brothers with sincere and generous love.

This Gospel passage offers the “standard,” which is the “universal love toward the needy whom we encounter ‘by chance’ (cf. Luke 10:31), whoever they may be” (“Deus Caritas Est,” No. 25). Alongside this universal rule, there is also a specifically ecclesial responsibility: within the ecclesial family no member should suffer through being in need” (“Deus caritas est,” No. 25). The Christian’s project, taken from Jesus’ teaching, is “a heart that sees” where love is needed and acts appropriately (“Deus caritas est,” No. 31).

Dear friends, I would like to recall that today the Church also remembers St. Benedict of Norcia -- the great patron of my pontificate -- the father and legislator of western monasticism. He, as St. Gregory the Great reports, “was a man who lived a holy life … blessed by grace and blessed in grace” (“Dialogi,” II, 1, “Bibliotheca Gregorii Magni,” IV, Roma 2000, p. 136). “He wrote a rule for monks … the mirror of a teaching incarnated in his person: for the holy man could not otherwise teach, than himself lived” (“Dialogi,” II, 36, p. 208). Pope Paul VI proclaimed St. Benedict the Patron of Europe on Oct. 24, 1964, recognizing the wondrous work he did in the formation of European civilization.

I entrust our journey of faith to the Virgin Mary and, in particular, this time of vacation, so that our hearts never lose sight of the Word of God and our brothers in difficulty.


Papal Message to Rogationist Fathers
"Spread Ever More the Spirit of Prayer ... for All Vocations in the Church"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the 11th General Chapter of the Rogationist Fathers, which began Monday.

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To the Delegates to the Chapter Meeting of Rogationists of the Heart of Jesus

On the occasion of your 11th General Chapter, I wish to unite myself spiritually to you, who are living an event of grace: it is a strong call to return ever more to the roots of your congregation, to deepen the charism to then be able to incarnate it in the present sociocultural context, in the most suitable ways.

In these intense days, you wish to focus your attention on the topic "The Rule of Life, Expression of the Consecration, Guarantee of the Charismatic Identity, Support of Fraternal Communion, Mission Plan." You intend to review and approve the constitutions and norms of your institute to adapt them especially to the new ecclesial sensibility stemming from the Second Vatican Council and codified in the current Code of Canon Law. Such a commitment is of particular importance, because it is about presenting to the whole religious family the reference texts to which everyone will have to conform their own experience of fraternal and apostolic life, to be an eloquent sign of the love of God and instrument of salvation in every environment.

May God bless your plans! To be fruitful you must faithfully preserve the spiritual patrimony handed down to you by your founder, St. Annibale Maria di Francia, who loved Christ intensely, and was always inspired by him in carrying out a prudent vocational apostolate as well as courageous work in favor of his needy neighbors. Follow his example and joyfully continue his mission, still valid today, even though the social conditions in which we live have changed. In particular, spread ever more the spirit of prayer and of solicitude for all vocations in the Church; be eager laborers for the coming of the Kingdom of God, dedicating yourselves with every energy to evangelization and human development.

The great challenge of inculturation asks you today to proclaim the Good News with comprehensible languages and ways to the men of our time, involved in rapidly changing social and cultural processes. Vast, hence, is the field of apostolate that opens before you! Like your founder, give your existence to all those who are "thirsty" for hope, cultivate an authentic passion to educate, above all for young people, spend yourselves with a generous pastoral activity among people, especially in favor of all those who suffer in body and spirit.

To this end, I am pleased to repeat to you what I said recently, almost at the end of the Year for Priests: "Every Pastor, therefore, is a means through whom Christ himself loves men: it is through our ministry, dear priests, it is through us that the Lord reaches souls, instructs, guards and guides them" (General Audience, May 27, 2010).

Your congregation boasts a long history, written by courageous witnesses of Christ and the Gospel. You are called to walk in these footsteps today with renewed zeal to drive yourselves with prophetic liberty and wise discernment, on bold apostolic roads and missionary frontiers, cultivating a close collaboration with the bishops and the other components of the ecclesial community. The vast horizons of evangelization and the urgent need to witness the evangelical message to all, without distinction, constitute the field of your apostolate. So many still wait to know Jesus, only redeemer of man, and not a few situations of injustice and of moral and material hardship summon believers.

Such an urgent mission requires incessant personal and community conversion. Only hearts totally open to the action of grace are able to interpret the signs of the times and to receive the appeals of humanity in need of hope and peace.

May faithful adherence to Christ and to his Gospel shine in the various fields of your ecclesial service. May the Holy Virgin, queen of vocations and mother of priests protect you, help you and be the sure guide on the path of your religious family, so that it will be able to bring to fulfillment every good project.

With these hopes, while assuring you of my affectionate remembrance in prayer for each one of you and for your chapter, I impart to you my heartfelt blessing, which I gladly extend to all Rogationists, to the Daughters of Divine Zeal and to all those you meet in your daily apostolate.


On Duns Scotus
"Defender of the Immaculate Conception"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 7, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in Paul VI Hall.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

This morning -- after a few catecheses on several great theologians -- I wish to present to you another important figure in the history of theology: John Duns Scotus, who lived at the end of the 13th century. An ancient inscription on his tomb summarizes the geographical coordinates of his biography: "England received him; France instructed him; Cologne, in Germany, keeps his remains, he was born in Scotland." We cannot overlook this information, because we have very little information on the life of Duns Scotus.

He was born probably in 1266 in a village, which in fact is called Duns, on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Attracted by the charism of St. Francis of Assisi, he entered the Family of the Friars Minor and was ordained a priest in 1291. Gifted with a brilliant intelligence geared to speculation -- an intelligence that merited him by tradition the title of doctor subtilis, "subtle doctor" -- Duns Scotus was directed to the study of philosophy and theology at the famous Universities of Oxford and Paris. Having concluded his formation successfully, he undertook the teaching of theology at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and then Paris, beginning his commentary, as all teachers of the time, on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. The main works of Duns Scotus represent, in fact, the mature fruit of these lessons, and take the title of the places in which he taught: Opus Oxoniense (Oxford), Reportatio Cambrigensis (Cambridge), Reportata Parisiensia (Paris).

Duns Scotus left Paris when a serious conflict broke out between King Philip IV the Fair and Pope Boniface VIII, preferring voluntary exile rather than signing a document hostile to the Supreme Pontiff, as the king had imposed on all religious. Thus -- out of love for the See of Peter -- he left the country together with his Franciscan Brothers.

Dear brothers and sisters, this fact invites us to recall how many times in the history of the Church believers have met with hostility and even with persecutions because of their fidelity and their devotion to Christ, to the Church and to the Pope. We all look with admiration to these Christians, who teach us to guard faith in Christ and communion with the Successor of Peter, and thus with the universal Church, as a precious good.

However, relations between the king of France and Boniface VIII's successor soon became friendly again and in 1305 Duns Scotus was able to return to Paris to teach theology with the title of magister regens, today we would say ordinary professor. Subsequently, his superiors sent him to Cologne as professor of the Franciscan Theological Studium, but he died on Nov. 8, 1308, when only 43 years of age, leaving, however, an important number of works.

Because of his fame for holiness, devotion to him soon spread in the Franciscan Order and Venerable Pope John Paul II wished to confirm him solemnly blessed on March 20, 1993, describing him as "singer of the Incarnate Word and defender of the Immaculate Conception." Synthesized in this expression is the great contribution Duns Scotus made to the history of theology.

First of all, he meditated on the mystery of the incarnation and, as opposed to many Christian thinkers of the time, he maintained that the Son of God would have become man even if humanity had not sinned. In the Reportata Parisiensia he affirms: "To think that God would have given up such work if Adam had not sinned would be altogether irrational! I say, therefore, that the fall was not the cause of the predestination of Christ, and that -- even if no one had fallen, not angels or man -- in this hypothesis Christ would still have been predestined in the same way" (in III Sent., d. 7, 4).

This, perhaps, rather surprising thought is born because for Duns Scotus the incarnation of the Son of God, projected from all eternity by God the Father in his plan of love, is the fulfillment of creation, and makes it possible for every creature, in Christ and through him, to be filled with grace and give praise and glory to God in eternity. Duns Scotus, though aware that, in reality, because of original sin, Christ has redeemed us with his passion, death and resurrection, confirms that the incarnation is the greatest and most beautiful work of the whole history of salvation, and that it is not conditioned by any contingent fact, but is the original idea of God to finally unite the whole of creation with himself in the person and flesh of the Son.

Duns Scotus, faithful disciple of St. Francis, loved to contemplate and preach the mystery of the salvific passion of Christ, expression of the immense love of God, who communicates with enormous generosity outside of himself the rays of his goodness and his love (cf. Tractatus de primo principio, c. 4). And this love is not only revealed on Calvary, but also in the Most Blessed Eucharist, to which Duns Scotus was most devoted and which he saw as the sacrament of the real presence of Jesus and as the sacrament of the unity and community that induces us to love one another and to love God as the supreme common good (cf. Reportata Parisiensia, in IV Sent., d. 8, q. 1, n. 3).

Dear brothers and sisters, this theological vision, intensely "Christocentric," opens us to contemplation, to wonder and to gratitude: Christ is the center of history and of the cosmos; he it is who gives meaning, dignity and value to our life! Like Pope Paul VI in Manila, I also would like to cry out to the world today: "[Christ] reveals the invisible God, he is the firstborn of all creation, the foundation of everything created. He is the Teacher of mankind, and its Redeemer. He was born, he died and he rose again for us. He is the centre of history and of the world; he is the one who knows us and who loves us; he is the companion and the friend of our life. ... I could never finish speaking about him" (Homily, Nov. 29, 1970).

Not only the role of Christ in the history of salvation, but also Mary's [role] is the object of the reflection of the doctor subtilis. In Duns Scotus' times, the majority of theologians offered an objection that seemed insurmountable to the doctrine that Most Holy Mary was free from original sin from the first instant of her conception. In fact, the universality of the redemption wrought by Christ, at first glance, might seem compromised by such an affirmation, as if Mary had no need of Christ and of his redemption. Because of this theologians were opposed to this thesis.

To make this preservation from original sin understood, Duns Scotus then developed an argument which later would also be adopted by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1854, when he defined solemnly the dogma of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. And this argument is that of the "preventive redemption," according to which the Immaculate Conception represents the masterpiece of the redemption wrought by Christ, because in fact the power of his love and of his mediation obtained that the Mother be preserved from original sin. Hence Mary is totally redeemed by Christ, but already before her conception. The Franciscans, his brethren, accepted and spread this doctrine enthusiastically, as did other theologians who -- often with a solemn oath -- committed themselves to defend and perfect it.

In this regard, I would like to highlight something, which it seems to me is important. Valuable theologians, such as Duns Scotus with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, enriched with their specific thought what the People of God already believed spontaneously about the Blessed Virgin, manifested in acts of piety, in the expressions of art and, in general, in Christian living. Thus faith in the Immaculate Conception or in the bodily assumption of the Virgin was already present in the People of God, while theology had not yet found the key to interpret it in the totality of the doctrine of the faith. Thus the People of God precede theologians and all this thanks to that supernatural sensus fidei, namely, that capacity infused by the Holy Spirit, which qualifies us to embrace the reality of the faith, with humility of heart and mind.

In this sense, the People of God is "magisterium that precedes," and that later must be deepened and intellectually accepted by theology. May theologians always be able to listen to this source of faith and have the humility and simplicity of little ones! I made this reminder a few months ago saying: "There have been great scholars, great experts, great theologians, teachers of faith who have taught us many things. They have gone into the details of Sacred Scripture, ... but have been unable to see the mystery itself, its central nucleus. ... The essential has remained hidden! On the other hand, in our time there have also been 'little ones' who have understood this mystery. Let us think of St. Bernadette Soubirous; of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, with her new interpretation of the Bible that is 'non-scientific' but goes to the heart of Sacred Scripture" (Homily. Holy Mass with the Members of the International Theological Commission, Dec. 1, 2009).

Finally, Duns Scotus developed a point to which modernity is very sensitive. It is the topic of liberty and its relation with the will and with the intellect. Our author stresses liberty as a fundamental quality of the will, initiating an approach of a voluntaristic tendency, which developed in contrast with the so-called Augustinian and Thomistic intellectualism. For St. Thomas Aquinas, who follows St. Augustine, liberty cannot be considered an innate quality of the will, but the fruit of the collaboration of the will and of the intellect.

An idea of innate and absolute liberty placed in the will and preceding the intellect, whether in God or in man, risks, in fact, leading to the idea of a God who would not even be linked to the truth and to the good. The desire to save the absolute transcendence and diversity of God with an affirmation about his will that is so radical and impenetrable fails to take into account that the God who revealed himself in Christ is the God "logos," who acted and acts full of love toward us.

Certainly, as Duns Scotus affirms, in line with Franciscan theology, love surpasses knowledge and is increasingly capable of perceiving thought, but it is always the love of the God "Logos" (cf. Benedict XVI, Address at Regensburg, Teachings of Benedict XVI, II [2006], p. 261). Also in man the idea of absolute liberty, placed in the will, forgetting the nexus with truth, ignores that liberty itself must be freed of the limits imposed on it by sin.

Speaking to Roman seminarians last year, I reminded that "[s]ince the beginning and throughout all time but especially in the modern age freedom has been the great dream of humanity" (Address to the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary, Feb. 20, 2009). However, modern history itself, in addition to our daily experience, teaches us that liberty is authentic, and helps the construction of a truly human civilization only when it is reconciled with truth. If it is detached from truth, liberty becomes, tragically, a principle of destruction of the interior harmony of the human person, source of malversation of the strongest and the violent, and cause of suffering and mourning. Liberty, as all the faculties with which man is gifted, grows and is perfected, affirms Duns Scotus, when man opens himself to God, valuing that disposition of listening to his voice, which he calls potentia oboedientialis: When we listen to divine Revelation, to the Word of God, to accept it, then we have been reached by a message that fills our life with light and hope and we are truly free.

Dear brothers and sisters, Blessed Duns Scotus teaches us that what is essential in our life is to believe that God is close to us and that he loves us in Christ Jesus, and therefore to cultivate a profound love of him and of his Church. We are witnesses of this love on earth. May Mary Most Holy help us to receive this infinite love of God that we will enjoy fully for eternity in heaven, when our soul will finally be united for ever to God, in the communion of saints.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on medieval Christian culture, we now turn to the distinguished Franciscan theologian, Blessed John Duns Scotus. A native of Scotland, he taught at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Paris. Duns Scotus is best known today for his contribution to the development of Christian thought in three areas. First, he held that the Incarnation was not directly the result of Adam's sin, but a part of God's original plan of creation, in which every creature, in and through Christ, is called to be perfected in grace and to glorify God for ever. In this great Christocentric vision, the Incarnate Word appears as the centre of history and the cosmos. Secondly, Scotus argued that Our Lady's preservation from original sin was a privilege granted in view of her Son's redemptive passion and death; this theory was to prove decisive for the eventual definition of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception. Finally, Duns Scotus paid great attention to the issue of human freedom, although by situating it principally in the will, he sowed the seeds of a trend in later theology that risked detaching freedom from its necessary relation to truth. May the teaching and example of Blessed John Duns Scotus help us to understand that we attain happiness, freedom and perfection by opening ourselves to God's gracious self-revelation in Christ Jesus.



Benedict XVI's Reflection on St. Joseph
"He Too Is Called to Be a Disciple of Jesus"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today in the Vatican Gardens when he inaugurated and blessed a fountain dedicated to St. Joseph, a gift from the Governor's Office of Vatican City State.

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Lords Cardinal,

Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,

It is a motive of great joy to me to inaugurate this fountain in the Vatican Gardens, in a natural context of singular beauty. It is a work that is going to enhance the artistic patrimony of this enchanting green space of Vatican City, rich in historic-artistic testimonies of various periods. In fact, not only the lawn, the flowers, the trees, but also the towers, the little houses, the pavilions, the fountains, the statues and the other constructions make of these gardens a fascinating unicum. They were for my predecessors, and are also for me, a vital space, a place that I often frequent to spend some time in prayer and in serene relaxation.

In addressing my cordial greeting to each one of you, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for this present, which you have given me, dedicating it to St. Joseph. Thank you for this kind and courteous thought! It was a committed enterprise, which witnessed the collaboration of many. I thank first of all the Lord Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo also for the words that he addressed to me and for the interesting presentation of the works carried out. With him I thank the archbishop, monsignor Carlo Maria Viganò and the bishop, monsignor Giorgio Corbellini, respectively secretary-general and vice secretary-general of the governorate. I express my intense appreciation to the Office of Technical Services, the planner and sculptor, the consultants and the work team, with a special thought to the Hintze spouses and to Mr. Castrignano, of London, who generously financed the work, as well as to the Sisters of St. Joseph of Kyoto. A word of gratitude to the Province of Trent, to the municipalities and to the Trent companies, for their contribution.

This fountain is dedicated to St. Joseph, beloved and close figure to the heart of the People of God and to my heart. The six bronze panels that embellish it evoke as many moments of his life. I wish to pause briefly on them. The first panel represents the espousals between Joseph and Mary; it is an episode of great importance. Joseph was of the royal line of David and, in virtue of his marriage to Mary, would confer on the Son of the Virgin -- on God's Son -- the legal tile of "son of David," thus fulfilling the prophecies. The espousals of Joseph and Mary are, because of this, a human event, but determinant in the history of humanity's salvation, in the realization of the promises of God; because of this, it also has a supernatural connotation, which the two protagonists accept with humility and trust.

Very soon the moment of trial arrives for Joseph, a trial challenging for his faith.

Engaged to Mary, before going to live with her, he discovers her mysterious maternity and is disturbed. The Evangelist Matthew stresses that, being a just man, he was unwilling to repudiate her, and therefore decided to send her away quietly (cf. Matthew 1:19). But in his dreams -- as he is represented in the second panel -- the angel made him understand that what was happening in Mary was the work of the Holy Spirit; and Joseph, trusting in God, consents and cooperates in the plan of salvation. The divine intervention in his life could not but perturb his heart. To trust God does not mean to see everything clearly according to our criteria, it does not mean to carry out what we have planned; to trust God means to empty ourselves of ourselves and to deny ourselves, because only one who accepts losing himself for God can be "just" as St. Joseph, that is, can conform his own will to God's and thus be fulfilled.

The Gospel, as we know, has not kept any word from Joseph, who carries out his activity in silence. It is the style that characterizes his whole existence, both before finding himself before the mystery of God's action in his spouse, as well as when -- conscious of this mystery -- he is with Mary in the Nativity -- represented in the third image. On that holy night, in Bethlehem, with Mary and the Child, is Joseph, to whom the Heavenly Father entrusted the daily care of his Son on earth, a care carried out with humility and in silence.

The fourth panel reproduces the dramatic scene of the Flight into Egypt to escape the homicidal violence of Herod. Joseph is compelled to leave his land with his family, in haste: it is another mysterious moment of his life; another trial in which he is asked for full fidelity to God's plan.

Later in the Gospel, Joseph appears in only one more episode, when he goes to Jerusalem and lives the anguish of losing the son Jesus. St. Luke describes the anxious search and the wonder at finding him in the Temple -- as it appears in the fifth panel -- but even greater is the astonishment at hearing the mysterious words: "How is it that you sought me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father's house?" (Luke 2:49). This twofold question of the Son of God helps us to understand the mystery of Joseph's paternity. Reminding his own parents of the primacy of the One he calls "my Father," Jesus affirms the primacy of the will of God over every other will, and reveals to Joseph the profound truth of his role: He too is called to be a disciple of Jesus, dedicating his existence to the service of the Son of God and of the Virgin Mother, in obedience to the Heavenly Father.

The sixth panel represents Joseph's work in his shop in Nazareth. Jesus worked with him. The Son of God is hidden from men and only Mary and Joseph guard his mystery and live it each day: The Word Incarnate grows as man in the shadow of his parents, but, at the same time, they remain, in turn, hidden in Christ, in his mystery, living their vocation.

Dear brothers and sisters, this beautiful fountain dedicated to St. Joseph constitutes a symbolic reminder of the values of simplicity and humility in carrying out day by day the will of God, values that distinguished the silent but beautiful life of the Custodian of the Redeemer. To his intercession I entrust the hopes of the Church and of the world. May he, together with the Virgin Mary, his spouse, always guide my way and yours, so that we are able to be joyful instruments of peace and of salvation.


Pope's Address to Youth in Sulmona
"The Secret of a Vocation Lies in the Relationship With God"

SULMONA, Italy, JULY 5, 2010 - Here is a translation of a transcription of Benedict XVI's Sunday address to young people in the cathedral of Sulmona. The Pope made a one-day trip to the region, which was devastated by an earthquake in 2009.

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Dear young people!

First of all I want to say that I am very happy to meet you! I thank God for the possibility he gives me to be with you for a while, as a father of a family, together with your bishop and your priests. I thank you for the affection you manifest to me with so much warmth! But I also thank you for what you said to me, through your two "spokesmen," Francesca and Cristian.

You asked me questions, with much frankness and, at the same time, you showed you have firm points, convictions. This is very important. You are youth who reflect, who wonder, and who also have a sense of truth and goodness. That is, you know how to use the mind and heart, and this is not a small matter! On the contrary, I would say it is the principal element in this world: to learn to use well the intelligence and wisdom that God has given us. In the past, the people of this land of yours did not have many means to study, or to affirm themselves in society, but had what truly makes a man and a woman rich: faith and moral values. This is what builds persons and civil coexistence!

Two essential aspects arise from your words: one positive and one negative. The positive aspects comes from your Christian vision of life, an education that you evidently received from your parents, your grandparents and other educators: priests, professors, catechists. The negative aspect is in the shadows that darken your horizon: they are the concrete problems, which make it difficult to look to the future with serenity and optimism, but they are also the false values and illusory models, which are suggested to us and which promise to fill our life whereas instead they empty it.

What should be done, then, so that these shadows will not become too heavy? First of all, I see that you are young people with a good memory! Yes, I have been impressed by the fact that you remembered phrases that I spoke in Sydney, in Australia, during World Youth Day of 2008. And you also remembered that World Youth Days were born 25 years ago. But above all you demonstrated that you have a historical memory linked to your land: you spoke to me of a figure born eight centuries ago, St. Peter Celestine V, and you said you consider him very timely!

You see dear friends, in this way you have, as is often said, "an extra talent." Yes, the historical memory is truly an "extra talent" in life, because without a memory there is no future. Once it was said that history is life's teacher. The present consumerist culture tends instead to flatten man in the present, to make him lose a sense of the past, of history; but by doing so it also deprives him of the capacity to understand himself, to perceive problems, and to build the future. Hence, dear young people, I want to say to you: a Christian is one who has a good memory, who loves history and tries to know it.

Hence, I thank you, because you speak to me of St. Peter of Morrone, Celestine V, and you are able to appreciate his experience today, in such a different world, but precisely because of this, in need of rediscovering something that always has worth, that is perennial, as for example the capacity to listen to God in exterior but above all in interior silence.

A short time ago you asked me: How can one recognize God's call? Well, the secret of a vocation lies in the capacity and in the joy of distinguishing his voice, of listening to and following his voice. But to do this, it is necessary to accustom our heart to recognize the Lord, to hear him like a person who is near me and who loves me. As I said this morning, it is important to learn to live moments of interior silence in the day-to-day routine to be able to hear the Lord's voice. Be sure that if one learns to listen to this voice, and to follow it with generosity, one fears nothing, he or she knows and feels that God is with him or her, and that he is a Friend, Father and Brother. Said in one word: the secret of a vocation lies in the relationship with God, in prayer that grows precisely in interior silence, in the capacity to feel that God is near. And this is true both before the decision, at the moment, that is, of deciding and of leaving, as well as later if one wishes to be faithful and to persevere along the way. Above all St. Peter Celestine was this: a man of listening, of interior silence, a man of action, a man of God. Dear young people: always find room in your days for God, to listen to him and to speak to him!

And here, I would like to say a second thing: true prayer is in fact not foreign to reality. If praying alienated you, took you away from your real life, beware: it would not be true prayer! On the contrary, dialogue with God is the guarantee of truth, of truthfulness with oneself and with others and, therefore, of liberty. To be with God, to listen to his Word, in the Gospel, in the liturgy of the Church, defends us from the fascinations of pride and of presumption, from fashions and conformism, and gives us the strength to be truly free, including from certain temptations masked as good things.

You asked me: how can we be in the world without being of the world? I answer you: precisely thanks to prayer, to personal contact with God. It is not about multiplying words -- Jesus already said that -- but of being in the presence of God, of making one's own, in one's mind and heart, the phrases of the "Our Father," which embrace all the problems of our life, and also of adoring the Eucharist, meditating on the Gospel in our rooms, or participating with recollection in the liturgy. All this does not separate us from life, but helps us to be ourselves in every environment, faithful to God's voice that speaks to our consciences, free from the conditioning of the moment.

Thus it was for St. Celestine V: He was always able to act according to his conscience in obedience to God and, because of this, without fear and with great courage, including in difficult moments, such as those related to his brief pontificate, not fearful of losing his own dignity, but knowing that this consists in being in the truth. And God is the guarantor of truth. Whoever follows him is not afraid, not even of denying himself, his own ideas, because "whoever has God, lacks nothing," as St. Teresa of Avila said.

Dear friends! Faith and prayer do not resolve problems, but enable one to address them with a new light and strength, in a way fitting to man, and also more serenely and effectively. If we look at the history of the Church, we will see that it is rich in figures of saints and blesseds who, precisely beginning with an intense and constant dialogue with God, illumined by faith, were always able to find new, creative solutions to respond to concrete human needs in every century: health, education, work, etc. Their daring was animated by the Holy Spirit and by a strong and generous love of brothers, especially of the weakest and most underprivileged.

Dear young people! Let yourselves be conquered totally by Christ! You too, begin to undertake with determination the path of holiness, that is, be in contact, in conformity with God -- a way that is open to all -- because this will also make you be more creative in seeking solutions to the problems you find, and in seeking them together! This is another distinctive sign of a Christian: he is never an individualist.

Perhaps you will say to me, but if we look at St. Peter Celestine, for example, in his choice of life, is this not perhaps individualism, a fleeing from responsibilities? This temptation certainly exists. But in the experiences approved by the Church, the solitary life of prayer and penance is always at the service of the community, open to others, it is never in opposition to the needs of the community. Hermitages and monasteries are oases and sources of spiritual life from which all can drink. The monk does not live for himself, but for others, and it is for the good of the Church and of society that he cultivates the contemplative life, so that the Church and society can always be sprinkled with new energies, by the Lord's action.

Dear young people! Love your Christian communities, do not be afraid to commit yourselves to live together the experience of faith! Love the Church very much: she has given you the faith, she has brought you to know Christ! And love your bishop, your priests very much: with all our weaknesses, priests are beautiful presences in life!

The rich young man of the Gospel, after Jesus suggested that he leave everything and follow him -- as we know -- left there sad, because he was too attached to his goods (cf. Matthew 19:22). In you, instead, I read joy! And this is also a sign that you are Christians: that for you Jesus Christ means a lot. Although it might be difficult to follow him, it is worth more than anything. You believe that God is the precious pearl that gives value to everything else: in the family, in study, in work, in human love ... in life itself. You have understood that God is infinite Love: the only one who satiates our heart. I would like to recall the experience of St. Augustine, a young man who sought with great difficulty, for a long time, outside of God, something that would satiate his thirst for truth and happiness. But at the end of this journey of seeking he understood that our heart is without peace while it does not find God, while it does not rest in him (cf. The Confessions 1, 1).

Dear young people! Keep your enthusiasm, your joy, the one born from having encountered the Lord, and be able to communicate this also to your friends, to your contemporaries! Now I must go and I must say that I very much regret leaving you. With you I feel that the Church is young! But I leave happy, as a father who is serene because he has seen that his children are growing and are growing well. Carry on, dear young people! Carry on in the way of the Gospel; love the Church, our Mother; be simple and pure of heart; be humble and generous. I entrust you all to your holy patrons, to St. Peter Celestine and above all to the Virgin Mary, and I bless you with great affection. Amen.


Papal Homily in Sulmona
"Let Us Not Be Afraid to Be Silent"

SULMONA, Italy, JULY 4, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave during a Mass he celebrated today as part of his one-day trip to Italy's Abruzzi region.

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I am delighted to be with you today and to celebrate this solemn Eucharist with you. I greet your pastor, the bishop Monsignor Angelo Spina: I thank him for the warm expressions of welcome that he addressed to me on behalf of everyone, and for the gifts he gave me, which I truly appreciate as “signs” -- as he himself called them -- of the affective and effective communion that binds this people of the dear land of Abruzzo to the Successor of Peter. I greet the bishops and archbishops who are present, the priests, the religious, the representatives of the ecclesial associations and movements. I address a deferent thought to the mayor, Dr. Fabio Federico, grateful for his courteous welcome address and for the “signs,” and gifts, to the representative of the government and the civil and military officials. I give special thanks to those who generously offered their cooperation for this pastoral visit of mine.

Dear brothers and sisters! I have come to share the joys and hopes, the toils and efforts, ideals and aspirations of this diocesan community. I know well that at Sulmona too there is no lack of difficulties, problems and worries: I think, in particular, of those who concretely live their lives in precarious conditions because of the lack of work, the uncertainty of the future, physical and moral suffering and -- as the bishop recalled -- because of the sense of loss that followed the earthquake of April 6, 2009. I want to reassure everyone of my nearness and that I remember you in prayer, as I encourage perseverance in witness to human and Christian values deeply rooted in the faith and history of this area and its population.

Dear friends! My visit takes place on the occasion of the Jubilee Year proclaimed by the bishops of Abruzzo and Molise to celebrate the 800th anniversary of birth of St. Peter Celestine. Flying over your land I was able to contemplate the beauty of its landscape and, above all, admire some places closely linked to the life of this renowned figure: Mount Morrone, where Peter lived as a hermit for many years; the Hermitage of Sant’Onofrio, where in 1294 he received news of his election as Supreme Pontiff, which occurred at the conclave in Perugia; and the Abbey of Santo Spirito, whose main altar was consecrated by him after his coronation in the Basilica of Collemaggio in L’Aquila. In April of last year, after the earthquake that devastated this region, in this basilica I myself came to venerate the casket that contains his remains and leave the pallium that I received on the first day of my pontificate. More than 800 years have passed since the birth of St. Peter Celestine V, but he remains in history on account of the notable events of his pontificate and, above all, because of his holiness. Holiness, in fact, never loses its own power of attraction, it is not forgotten, it never goes out of fashion, indeed, with the passage of time, it shines with ever greater luminosity, expressing man’s perennial longing for God. From the life of St. Peter Celestine, I would like to gather some teachings that are also valid for our days.

Peter Angelerio was a “seeker of God” from his youth, a man who was desirous to find the answers to the great questions of our existence: Who am I? Where do I come from? Why am I alive? For whom do I live? He went in search of truth and happiness, he went in search of God and, to hear his voice, decided to separate himself from the world and to live as a hermit. Silence thus became the element that characterized his daily life. And it is precisely in external silence, but above all in internal silence, that he succeeded in perceiving God’s voice, a voice that was able to guide his life. Here a first aspect that is important for us: We live in a society in which it seems that every space, every moment must be “filled” with initiatives, activity, sound; often there is not even time to listen and dialogue. Dear brothers and sisters! Let us not be afraid to be silent outside and inside ourselves, so that we are able not only to perceive God’s voice, but also the voice of the person next to us, the voices of others.

But it is important to underscore a second element too: Peter Angelerio’s discovery of God was not only the result of his effort but was made possible by the grace of God itself that came to him. What he had, what he was, did not come from him: it was granted to him, it was grace, and so it was also a responsibility before God and before others. Even if our life is very different from his, the same thing is also true for us: the entirety of what is essential in our existence was bestowed upon us without our intervention. The fact that I live does not depend on me; the fact that there were people who introduced me to life, that taught me what it means to live and be loved, who handed down the faith to me and opened my eyes to God: all of that is grace and not “done by me.” We could have done nothing ourselves if it had not been given to us: God always anticipates us and in every individual life there is beauty and goodness that we can easily recognize as his grace, as a ray of the light of his goodness. Because of this we must be attentive, always keep our “interior eyes” open, the eyes of our heart. And if we learn how to know God in his infinite goodness, then we will be able to see, with wonder, in our lives -- as the saints did -- the signs of that God, who is always near to us, who is always good to us, who says: “Have faith in me!”

In interior silence, in perceiving the Lord’s presence, Peter del Morrone developed a lively experience of the beauty of creation, the work of God’s hands: he knew its deepest meaning, he respected its signs and rhythms, he used it for what is essential to life. I know that this local Church, like the others of Abruzzo and Molise, are actively engaged in a campaign of sensitivity to and promotion of the common good and of safeguarding creation: I encourage you in this effort, exhorting everyone to feel responsible for their own future, and that of others, respecting and caring also for creation, fruit and sign of God’s love.

In today’s second reading, taken from the Letter to the Galatians, we heard a beautiful expression of St. Paul, which is also a perfect spiritual portrait of St. Peter Celestine: “For me the only boast is in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world” (6:14). Truly the cross was the center of his life. It gave him the strength to face bitter penances and the most difficult times, from youth to his last hour: he was always aware that through it comes salvation. The cross also gave St. Peter Celestine a clear awareness of sin that was always accompanied by an awareness that was just as clear of God’s mercy for his creature. Seeing the wide-open arms of his crucified God, he felt himself transported into the infinite sea of God’s love. As a priest he experienced the beauty of being the administrator of this mercy, absolving penitents of sin, and, when he was elected to the See of the Apostle Peter, he wanted to grant a special indulgence called “The Pardon.” I would like to exhort priests to be clear and credible witnesses of the good news of reconciliation with God, helping the man of today to recover the sense of sin and God’s forgiveness, to experience that superabundant joy that the prophet Isaiah spoke to us about in the first reading (cf. Isaiah 66:10-14).

Finally, a third element: St. Peter, although he lived as a hermit, was not “closed in on himself” but was filled with passion to bring the good news of the Gospel to his brothers. And the secret of his pastoral fruitfulness was precisely in “abiding” in the Lord, in prayer, as we were also reminded by today’s Gospel passage: the first priority is always to pray to the Lord of the harvest (cf. Luke 10:2). And it is only after this invitation that Jesus outlines some of the essential duties of the disciples: the serene, clear and courageous proclamation of the Gospel message -- even in moments of persecution -- without ceding to the allurement of fashion nor to that of violence and imposition; detachment from worry about things -- money, clothing -- confiding in the providence of the Father; attention and care especially for the sick in body and spirit (cf. Luke 10:5-9). These were also the characteristics of the brief and trying pontificate of Celestine V and these are the characteristics of the missionary activity of the Church in every age.

Brothers and sisters! I am among you to confirm you in the faith. I would like to exhort you, firmly and with affection, to remain solid in that faith that you have received, which gives meaning to life and gives one strength to love. May the example and intercession of the Mother of God and of St. Peter Celestine accompany us on this journey. Amen!


On the Perfect Model of Obedience
"We Too ... Are Called to Appreciate a Sober Way of Life"

SULMONA, Italy, JULY 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus.

The Holy Father led the Angelus after finishing Mass during his one-day trip to the Abruzzi region of Italy.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

At the end of this solemn celebration, at the customary time on Sunday, I invite you to recite the Angelus prayer together. To the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate with particular devotion in the sanctuary of the Madonna della Libera, I entrust this Church of Sulmona-Valva: the bishop, the priests and all the people of God. May this Church, united and joyous, walk the way of faith, hope and charity together. Faithful to the legacy of St. Pietro Celestino, may she always know how to combine evangelical radicality and mercy so that all those who seek God may find him.

In Mary, Virgin of silence and listening, St. Peter del Morrone found the perfect model of obedience to the divine will, in a simple and humble life, committed to seeking out the essential, always able to thank the Lord, recognizing everything as a gift of his goodness.

We too, who live in a time of great comfort and possibility, are called to appreciate a sober way of life, to keep our minds and hearts more free to be able to share our goods with our brothers.

May Mary Most Holy, who animated the first community of Jesus’ disciples with her maternal presence, also help the Church of today to bear credible witness to the Gospel.


Holy Father's Address to Iraqi Envoy
"The Fundamental Rights of All Should Be Recognized, Protected and Promoted"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the Letters of Credence from the new ambassador from Iraq, Habbeb Mohammed Hadi Ali Al-Sadr.

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Your Excellency,

I am pleased to welcome you at the start of your mission and to accept the Letters accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of Iraq to the Holy See. I thank you for your kind words, and I ask you to convey to President Jalal Talabani my respectful greetings and the assurance of my prayers for the peace and well-being of all the citizens of your country.

On 7 March 2010, the people of Iraq gave a clear sign to the world that they wish to see an end to violence and that they have chosen the path of democracy, through which they aspire to live in harmony with one another within a just, pluralist and inclusive society. Despite attempts at intimidation on the part of those who do not share this vision, the people showed great courage and determination by presenting themselves at the polling stations in large numbers. It is to be hoped that the formation of a new Government will now proceed swiftly so that the will of the people for a more stable and unified Iraq may be accomplished. Those who have been elected to political office will need to show great courage and determination themselves, in order to fulfil the high expectations that have been placed in them. You may be assured that the Holy See, which has always valued its excellent diplomatic relations with your country, will continue to provide whatever assistance it can, so that Iraq may assume its rightful place as a leading nation in the region with much to contribute to the international community.

The new Government will need to give priority to measures designed to improve security for all sectors of the population, particularly the various minorities. You have spoken of the difficulties faced by Christians and I note your comments about the steps taken by the Government to afford them greater protection. The Holy See naturally shares the concern you have expressed that Iraqi Christians should remain in their ancestral homeland, and that those who have felt constrained to emigrate will soon consider it safe to return. Since the earliest days of the Church, Christians have been present in the land of Abraham, a land which is part of the common patrimony of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. It is greatly to be hoped that Iraqi society in the future will be marked by peaceful coexistence, as is in keeping with the aspirations of those who are rooted in the faith of Abraham. Although Christians form a small minority of Iraq’s population, they have a valuable contribution to make to its reconstruction and economic recovery through their educational and healthcare apostolates, while their engagement in humanitarian projects provides much-needed assistance in building up society. If they are to play their full part, however, Iraqi Christians need to know that it is safe for them to remain in or return to their homes, and they need assurances that their properties will be restored to them and their rights upheld.

Recent years have seen many tragic acts of violence committed against innocent members of the population, both Muslim and Christian, acts which as you have pointed out are contrary to the teachings of Islam as well as those of Christianity. This shared suffering can provide a deep bond, strengthening the determination of Muslims and Christians alike to work for peace and reconciliation. History has shown that some of the most powerful incentives to overcome division come from the example of those men and women who, having chosen the courageous path of non-violent witness to higher values, have lost their lives through cowardly acts of violence. Long after the present troubles have receded into the past, the names of Archbishop Paulos Faraj Rahho, Father Ragheed Ganni and many more will live on as shining examples of the love that led them to lay down their lives for others. May their sacrifice, and the sacrifice of so many others like them, strengthen within the Iraqi people the moral determination that is necessary if political structures for greater justice and stability are to achieve their intended effect.

You have spoken of your Government’s commitment to respect human rights. Indeed, it is of the utmost importance for any healthy society that the human dignity of each of its citizens be respected both in law and in practice, in other words that the fundamental rights of all should be recognized, protected and promoted. Only thus can the common good be truly served, that is to say those social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to flourish, to attain their full stature, and to contribute to the good of others (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 164-170). Among the rights that must be fully respected if the common good is to be effectively promoted, the rights to freedom of religion and freedom of worship are paramount, since it is they that enable citizens to live in conformity with their transcendent dignity as persons made in the image of their divine Creator. I therefore hope and pray that these rights will not only be enshrined in legislation, but will come to permeate the very fabric of society – all Iraqis have a part to play in building a just, moral and peaceable environment.

You begin your term of office, Mr Ambassador, in the months leading up to a particular initiative of the Holy See for the support of the local Churches throughout the region, namely the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. This will provide a welcome opportunity to explore the role and the witness of Christians in the lands of the Bible, and will also give an impetus to the important task of inter-religious dialogue, which has so much to contribute to the goal of peaceful coexistence in mutual respect and esteem among the followers of different religions. It is my earnest hope that Iraq will emerge from the difficult experiences of the past decade as a model of tolerance and cooperation among Muslims, Christians and others in the service of those most in need.

Your Excellency, I pray that the diplomatic mission that you begin today will further strengthen the bonds of friendship between the Holy See and your country. I assure you that the various departments of the Roman Curia are always ready to offer help and support in the fulfilment of your duties. With my sincere good wishes, I invoke upon you, your family, and all the people of the Republic of Iraq, abundant divine blessings.


Pope's Greeting to WYD Organizers
"The Word of Christ ... Is Always Young"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2010 ( Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's greeting upon receiving in audience today a delegation of the organizers of the next international World Youth Day, which will be held in Madrid in August 2011.

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Dear Brother in the Episcopate,
Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,
All Friends,

I am very grateful for the kind words that Cardinal [Antonio María Rouco], archbishop of Madrid, has had the kindness to address to me on behalf of the board of the "Madrid Vivo" Foundation, as well as of all of you, in this journey of preparation of World Youth Day, which will be held in the capital of Spain in August of next year.

There are many young people who have their eyes fixed on that beautiful city, with the joy of being able to meet there in a few months to hear together the Word of Christ, which is always young, and to be able to share the faith that unites us and the desire they have of building a better world, inspired in the values of the Gospel.

I invite you all to continue to collaborate generously in this beautiful initiative, which is not a simple multitudinous meeting, but a privileged occasion for the young people of your country and of the whole world to let themselves be conquered by the love of Christ Jesus, Son of God and of Mary, the faithful friend, the conqueror of sin and death. Whoever trusts in him is never disappointed, but finds the necessary strength to choose the right path in life.

I will remember all of you and your families fervently in prayer, asking God to bless the efforts you are making so that the next World Youth Day will bear copious fruits. May Mary Most Holy accompany you always with a Mother's love. Thank you very much.

[Translation by ZENIT]


Papal Letter for Cardinal Bertone's Golden Jubilee
"Vestiges of Your Pastoral Ministry Are Found All Around"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, on the occasion of his 50th anniversary of priestly ordination, which the cardinal celebrated Thursday. The letter, which is dated June 1, was published today by L'Osservatore Romano.

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To Our Venerated Brother
Tarcisio Cardinal Bertone, SDB
Secretary of State and Chamberlain of the Holy Roman Church

Given our mutual and assiduous familiarity, which stems from the fact of meeting together almost daily, it is fitting and right to personally address to you my heartfelt good wishes on the 50th year of your presbyterial ordination. However, beyond this duty, it is a pleasure to communicate my thoughts to you through this letter, so that my consideration toward you will be more evident.

While we are going through difficult times, I think you should turn your mind to happier things of the past, when by the imposition of the hands of the venerated [Bishop] Albino Mensa, you were promoted to Holy Orders, surrounded by relatives and fellow priests. Don't fail to recall as well of when later on, following further studies in jurisprudence, you dedicated yourself to educate and guide young people with teaching and writing, both within as well as outside your Salesian family.

It is no wonder then that you had the esteem and an important position near our predecessor, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, who wanted you to be archbishop of Vercelli and a faithful herald of divine benefits there. By the will of the same Pontiff, you later began to carry out the office of secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, establishing a familiarity between the two of us in the work we shared.

Also in the Church of Genoa, to which you dedicated your zeal and your apostolic toil, vestiges of your pastoral ministry are found all around, of which we acknowledge the benefit that came to that ecclesial community and where you obtained a largely illustrious title through your admission to the College of Cardinals.

Recalling the memory of more recent times, I wanted you to be a close collaborator, choosing you as secretary of state, with whom to share decisions and tasks. Undoubtedly, you are exerting yourself with great commitment and skill in being part of the pastoral projects of the universal Church, and initiatives addressed to the whole world, so that the family of God will be reinforced and the world may become more harmonious.

Because of this, while I rejoice wholeheartedly in recalling the happy beginning of your priesthood, I express these sentiments of esteem and affectionate congratulations as I implore, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary Help of Christians and of St. John Bosco, the abundant recompense of the Divine Teacher. Finally to you, venerated brother, I impart with fraternal affection the spostolic blessing, destined copiously also to all those with whom you have family and work ties.

From the Vatican, June 1, 2010, the sixth of Our Pontificate.

Benedict XVI


On a Saint Who Taught and Guided Holy Priests
"His Secret Was Simple: To Be a Man of God"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

A short while ago we ended the Year for Priests: a time of grace that has borne and will bear precious fruits for the Church, an opportunity to remember in prayer all those who have responded to this particular vocation. Accompanying us on this path, as models and intercessors, were the Holy Curé d'Ars and other figures of holy priests, true lights in the history of the Church. Today, as I announced last Wednesday, I would like to remember another figure, who stands out in the group of "Social Saints" in Turin of the 19th century: St. Joseph Cafasso.

Remembering him seems proper because in fact a week ago was the 150th anniversary of his death, which occurred in the Piedmont capital on June 23, 1860, when he was 49. Moreover, it is good to recall that, on Nov. 1, 1924, Pope Pius XI, approving the miracles for the canonization of St. John Mary Vianney and publishing the decree of authorization for the beatification of Cafasso, joined these two figures of priests with the following words: "Not without a special and beneficial disposition of Divine Goodness we have witnessed new stars emerge on the horizon of the Catholic Church: the parish priest of Ars and the Venerable Servant of God, Joseph Cafasso. In fact these two beautiful, dear, providentially timely figures must be presented to us today; the small and humble, poor and simple, but also glorious figure of the parish priest of Ars, and the beautiful, great, complex, rich figure of the priest, teacher and formator of priests, the Venerable Joseph Cafasso."

These are circumstances that offer us the occasion to better know the living and timely message that emerges from the life of this saint. He was not a parish priest as the Curé d'Ars, but was above all a formator of parish and diocesan priests and, more than that, of holy priests, among whom is St. John Bosco. He did not found religious institutes, as other holy priests of the 19th century in Piedmont did, because his "foundation" was the "school of priestly life and holiness," which he brought about by example and teaching, in the Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Francis of Assisi in Turin.

Joseph Cafasso was born in Castelnuovo d'Asti, the same country of St. John Bosco, on Jan. 15, 1811. He was the third of four children. The last, his sister Marianna, would be the mother of Blessed Joseph Allamano, founder of the Missionaries of the Consolata. He was born in a 19th century Piedmont characterized by grave social problems, but also by a great number of saints who were determined to find remedies for them. They were linked among themselves by a total love of Christ and a profound charity toward the poorest: the grace of the Lord is able to spread and multiply the seeds of holiness!

Cafasso did his secondary studies and two years of philosophy at the College of Chieri and, in 1830, he went to the theological seminary where he was ordained a priest in 1833. Four months later he entered the place that for him would be the fundamental and only "stop" of his priestly life: the Ecclesiastical Academy of St. Francis of Assisi in Turin. Having gone there to perfect himself in pastoral ministry, here he brought to fruition his gifts as a spiritual director and his great spirit of charity. The academy, in fact, was not only a school of moral theology where young priests, coming above all from the countryside, learned to confess and to preach, but it was also a true and proper school of priestly life, where presbyters were formed in the spirituality of St. Ignatius of Loyola and in the moral and pastoral theology of the great holy bishop, Alphonsus Mary of Liguori.

The type of priest that Cafasso found in the academy and that he himself contributed to reinforce -- especially as rector -- was that of the true pastor with a rich interior life and a profound zeal in pastoral ministry: faithful to prayer, committed to preaching and catechesis, dedicated to the celebration of the Eucharist and to the ministry of confession, according to the model embodied by St. Charles Borromeo, by St. Francis de Sales and promoted by the Council of Trent. A happy expression of St. John Bosco synthesizes the meaning of the educational work in that community: "at the Academy one learned to be a priest."

St. Joseph Cafasso tried to bring about this model in the formation of young priests so that, in turn, they would become formators of other priests, religious and laymen, according to a special and effective chain. From his chair of moral theology he educated them to be good confessors and spiritual directors, concerned with the true spiritual good of the person, animated by great balance in making the mercy of God felt and, at the same time, an acute and lively sense of sin.

Docent Cafasso had three main virtues, as St. John Bosco recalled: tranquility, wisdom and prudence. For him, the ministry of confession was the verification of the lessons taught, and he himself dedicated many hours of the day [to hearing confessions]. Bishops, priests, religious, eminent laymen and simple people went to him: To all he was able to give the necessary time. For many, as well, who became saints and founders of religious institutes, he was a wise spiritual adviser. His teaching was never abstract, based only on the books used at that time, but was born of the intense experience of the mercy of God and of the profound knowledge of the human spirit acquired in the long hours spent in the confessional and in spiritual direction: his was a true school of priestly life.

His secret was simple: to be a man of God; to do, in little daily actions, "that which can turn to the greater glory of God and to the advantage of souls." He loved the Lord totally, he was animated by a well-rooted faith, sustained by profound and prolonged prayer, he lived a sincere charity toward all. He knew moral theology, but he likewise knew the situations and the hearts of people and looked after their best interests, as the Good Shepherd.

Each of those who had the grace of being close to him was transformed into another good pastor and effective confessor. He indicated with clarity to all priests the holiness to be attained precisely in pastoral ministry. Blessed Father Clement Marchisio, founder of the Daughters of St. Joseph, affirmed: "You entered the Academy being a great cheeky youngster and a rash leader, without knowing what it meant to be a priest, and you came out entirely different, fully conscious of the dignity of the priest." How many priests were formed by him in the academy and then followed spiritually!

Among these -- as I already said -- emerges St. John Bosco, who had him as spiritual director for a good 25 years, from 1835 to 1860: first as cleric, then as priest and finally as founder. All the fundamental choices of the life of St. John Bosco had St. Joseph Cafasso as their counselor and guide, but in a very specific way: Cafasso never tried to form a disciple in Don Bosco "in his image and likeness" and Don Bosco did not copy Cafasso. He imitated him, certainly, in human and priestly virtues -- describing him as a "model of priestly life" -- but according to his own attitudes and his own peculiar vocation ... a sign of the wisdom of the spiritual teacher and of the intelligence of the disciple: The first did not impose himself on the second, but respected him in his personality and helped him to read the will of God for him.

Dear friends, this is a beautiful teaching for all those who are involved in the formation and education of young generations and also a strong reminder of the importance of having a spiritual guide in one's life, who helps us to know what God wants from us. Our saint affirmed with simplicity and depth: "The whole of holiness, perfection and profit of a person is in doing the will of God perfectly. (...) Happy are we if we succeed in thus pouring our heart into God's, to so unite our desires, our will to his as to form only one heart and one will: to will what God wills, to will it in such a way, in such time, in such circumstances as he wills it, and to will all this for no other reason than that God so wills it."

However, another element characterizes the ministry of our saint: attention to the least, in particular to prisoners, which in 19th-century Turin lived in inhuman and de-humanizing places. Also in this delicate service, carried out for more than 20 years, he was always the good shepherd, understanding and compassionate: a quality perceived by the detained, who ended up conquered by that sincere love, the origin of which was God himself. The simple presence of Cafasso did good: It brightened and touched hearts hardened by the ups and downs of life and above all enlightened and shook indifferent consciences. In the early times of his ministry among the imprisoned, he often took recourse to the great preaching that succeeded in involving almost the whole prison population. With the passing of time, he preferred simple catechesis, done in conversations and in personal meetings: Respectful of the affairs of each one, he addressed the great themes of Christian life, speaking of trust in God, of adherence to his will, of the usefulness of prayer and the sacraments, whose point of arrival is confession, the encounter with God made for us infinite mercy. Those condemned to death were the object of very special human and spiritual care. He accompanied to the scaffold, after having heard their confessions and administered the Eucharist, 57 people condemned to death. He accompanied them with profound love up to the last breath of their earthly existence.

He died on June 23, 1860, after a life offered entirely to the Lord and consumed for his neighbor. On April 9, 1948, my predecessor, the Venerable Servant of God Pope Pius XII proclaimed him patron of Italian prisons and, with the apostolic exhortation "Menti Nostrae" of Sept. 23, 1950, proposed him as a model to priests committed to confession and spiritual direction.

Dear brothers and sisters, may St. Joseph Cafasso be a call to all to intensify the way toward the perfection of the Christian life, holiness; in particular, may he remind priests of the importance of dedicating time to the sacrament of reconciliation and to spiritual direction, and remind all of the attention we must give to the neediest. May we be helped by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to whom St. Joseph Cafasso was most devoted and whom he called "our dear Mother, our consolation, our hope."

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In these days we celebrate the one hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the death of a great model of priestly holiness and apostolic zeal, Saint Joseph Cafasso, a priest of Turin, Italy, in the nineteenth century. Saint Joseph devoted his entire ministry to the formation of priests, spiritual direction and service to the poor, especially prisoners condemned to death. May his example encourage all priests in faithful witness to the Gospel.

Yesterday, on the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, I conferred the Pallium upon thirty-eight Archbishops from throughout the world. I would now like to greet the English-speaking Archbishops present at today’s Audience, together with their family members and the pilgrimage groups which accompanied them to the Tombs of the Apostles:

Archbishop Alex Thomas Kaliyanil of Bulawayo (Zimbabwe),
Archbishop Gerard Tlali Lerotholi of Maseru (Lesotho),
Archbishop Socrates Villegas of Lingayen-Dagupan (Philippines),

Archbishop Bernard Longley of Birmingham (England),
Archbishop Jerome Edward Listecki of Milwaukee (USA),
Archbishop Stephen Brislin of Cape Town (South Africa),

Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati (USA),
Archbishop Francis Kallarakal of Verapoly (India),
Archbishop Hyginus Kim Hee-joong of Kwangju (Korea),

Archbishop Thomas Wenski of Miami (USA),
Archbishop Peter Smith of Southwark (England),
and Archbishop Matthias Kobena Nketsiah of Cape Coast (Ghana).

Dear Brothers, I ask the Lord to strengthen all of you in your witness to the apostolic faith and in generous service to the flocks entrusted to your care.

I also greet the many other English-speaking visitors and pilgrims present at today’s Audience, especially the groups from England, Scotland, Ireland, Ghana, Palestine, the Philippines, South Korea, Canada and the United States of America. I thank the Schola Cantorum of Saint Peter’s Cathedral, Belfast, for their praise of God in song. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

My thought turns finally to young people, to the sick and to newlyweds. The solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul celebrated yesterday is followed today by the memorial of the First Roman Martyrs. Dear young people, imitate their heroic evangelical witness and be faithful to Christ in every situation of life. I encourage you, dear sick people, to take up the example of the protomartyrs to transform your suffering into an act of donation for love of God and of brothers. May you, dear newlyweds, be able to adhere to the plan that the Creator established for your vocation, so as to succeed in bringing about a fecund and lasting family union.


On Sts. Peter and Paul
"Received From God Different Charisms and Different Missions"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday, the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, before praying the Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

Today the Church of Rome celebrates her holy roots, celebrating the Apostles Peter and Paul, whose relics are kept in the two basilicas dedicated to them and that embellish the whole city cherished by resident Christians and pilgrims. The solemnity began yesterday evening with the prayer of the first vespers in the Basilica [of St. Paul Outside the Walls]. The liturgy of the day proposes again Peter's profession of faith in confronting Jesus. "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). It is not a statement that is the fruit of reasoning, but a revelation of the Father to the humble fisherman of Galilee, as Jesus himself confirms saying: "flesh and blood has not revealed this to you" (Homily in Matthaeum 54, 2: PG 58, 535). In fact, the Lord ends saying: "Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 16:19).

St. Paul -- of whom we recently celebrated the 2,000 years of his birth -- with divine Grace spread the Gospel, sowing the Word of truth and of salvation amid the pagan peoples. The two patron saints of Rome, though having received from God different charisms and different missions to fulfill, are both the foundation of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, "permanently open to the missionary and ecumenical dynamic, because sent to the world to proclaim and witness, actualize and expand the mystery of communion that constitutes her" (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Communionis notio," May 28, 1992, No. 4: AAS 85 [1993], 840). Because of this, during this morning's Holy Mass in the Vatican Basilica, I conferred upon 38 Metropolitan Archbishops the pallium, which symbolizes both communion with the Bishop of Rome as well as the mission to feed with love the one flock of Christ. On this solemn occasion, I also wish to thank from my heart the delegation of the ecumenical patriarchate, testimony of the spiritual bond between the Church of Rome and the Church of Constantinople.

May the example of the Apostles Peter and Paul illumine minds and ignite in the hearts of believers the holy desire to do the will of God, so that the Church journeying on earth may always be faithful to her Lord. Let us turn with confidence to the Virgin Mary, Queen of the Apostles, who from Heaven guides and sustains the path of the People of God.

Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Homily for Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
"The Unity of the Church Is Rooted in Its Union With Christ"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Tuesday at the Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on the solemnity of Sts Peter and Paul. During Mass, he bestowed the pallium on 38 archbishops.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

The biblical texts of this Eucharistic Liturgy of the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, in their great wealth, highlight a theme that could be summarized thus: God is close to his faithful servants and frees them from all evil, and frees the Church from negative powers. It is the theme of the freedom of the Church, which has a historical aspect and another more deeply spiritual one.

This theme runs through today's Liturgy of the Word. The first and second readings speak, respectively, of St Peter and St Paul, emphasizing precisely the liberating action of God in them. Especially the text from the Acts of the Apostles describes in abundant detail the intervention of the Angel of the Lord, who releases Peter from the chains and leads him outside the prison in Jerusalem, where he had been locked up, under close supervision, by King Herod (cf. at 12.1 to 11). Paul, however, writing to Timothy when he feels close to the end of his earthly life, takes stock which shows that the Lord was always near him and freed him from many dangers and frees him still by introducing him into His eternal Kingdom ( see 2 Tim 4, 6-8.17-18). The theme is reinforced by the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 33), and also finds a particular development in the Gospel of Peter's confession, where Christ promises that the powers of hell shall not prevail against his Church (cf. Mt 16:18).

Observing closely we note a certain progression regarding this issue. In the first reading a specific episode is narrated that shows the Lord's intervention to free Peter from prison. In the second Paul, on the basis of his extraordinary apostolic experience, is convinced that the Lord, who already freed him "from the mouth of the lion "delivers him" from all evil", by opening the doors of Heaven to him. In the Gospel we no longer speak of the individual Apostles, but the Church as a whole and its safekeeping from the forces of evil, in the widest and most profound sense. Thus we see that the promise of Jesus -- "the powers of hell shall not prevail" on the Church -- yes, includes the historical experience of persecution suffered by Peter and Paul and other witnesses of the Gospel, but it goes further, wanting to protect especially against threats of a spiritual order, as Paul himself writes in his Letter to the Ephesians: " For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens"(Eph 6:12).

Indeed, if we think of the two millennia of Church history, we can see that -- as the Lord Jesus had announced (cf. Mt 10.16-33) -- Christians have never been lacking in trials, which in some periods and places have assumed the character of real persecution. These, however, despite the suffering they cause, are not the greatest danger for the Church. In fact it suffers greatest damage from what pollutes the Christian faith and life of its members and its communities, eroding the integrity of the Mystical Body, weakening its ability to prophesy and witness, tarnishing the beauty of its face. This reality is already attested in the Pauline Epistle. The First Epistle to the Corinthians, for example, responds to some problems of divisions, inconsistencies, of infidelity to the Gospel which seriously threaten the Church. But the Second Letter to Timothy -- of which we heard an excerpt - speaks about the dangers of the "last days", identifying them with negative attitudes that belong to the world and can infect the Christian community: selfishness, vanity, pride, love of money, etc. (cf. 3.1 to 5). The Apostle’s conclusion is reassuring: men who do wrong -- he writes -- "will not make further progress, for their foolishness will be plain to all" (3.9). There is therefore a guarantee of freedom promised by God to the Church, it is freedom from the material bonds that seek to prevent or coerce mission, both through spiritual and moral evils, which may affect its authenticity and credibility.

The theme of the freedom of the Church, guaranteed by Christ to Peter, also has a specific relevance to the rite of the imposition of the pallium, which we renew today for thirty-eight metropolitan archbishops, to whom I address my most cordial greeting, extending with it affection to all who have wanted to accompany them on this pilgrimage. Communion with Peter and his successors, in fact, is the guarantee of freedom for the Church's Pastors and the Communities entrusted to them. It is highlighted on both levels in the aforementioned reflections. Historically, union with the Apostolic See, ensures the particular Churches and Episcopal Conferences freedom with respect to local, national or supranational powers, that can sometimes hinder the mission of the ecclesial Church. Furthermore, and most essentially, the Petrine ministry is a guarantee of freedom in the sense of full adherence to truth and authentic tradition, so that the People of God may be preserved from mistakes concerning faith and morals. Hence the fact that each year the new Metropolitans come to Rome to receive the pallium from the hands of the Pope, must be understood in its proper meaning, as a gesture of communion, and the issue of freedom of the Church gives us a particularly important key for interpretation. This is evident in the case of churches marked by persecution, or subject to political interference or other hardships. But this is no less relevant in the case of communities that suffer the influence of misleading doctrines or ideological tendencies and practices contrary to the Gospel. Thus the pallium becomes, in this sense, a pledge of freedom, similar to the "yoke" of Jesus, that He invites us to take up, each on their shoulders (Mt 11:29-30). While demanding, the commandment of Christ is "sweet and light" and instead of weighing down on the bearer, it lifts him up, thus the bond with the Apostolic See – while challenging -- sustains the Pastor and the portion of the Church entrusted to his care, making them freer and stronger.

I would like to draw a final point from the Word of God, in particular from Christ's promise that the powers of hell shall not prevail against his Church. These words may also have a significant ecumenical value, since, as I mentioned earlier, one of the typical effects of the Devil is division within the Church community. The divisions are in fact symptoms of the power of sin, which continues to act in members of the Church even after redemption. But the word of Christ is clear: " Non praevalebunt -- it will not prevail" (Matt. 16:18). The unity of the Church is rooted in its union with Christ, and the cause of full Christian unity -- always to be sought and renewed from generation to generation - is well supported by his prayer and his promise. In the fight against the spirit of evil, God has given us in Jesus the 'Advocate', defender, and after his Easter, "another Paraclete" (Jn 14:16), the Holy Spirit, which remains with us always and leads the Church into the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 14:16; 16:13), which is also the fullness of charity and unity. With these feelings of confident hope, I am pleased to greet the delegation of the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which, in the beautiful custom of reciprocal visits, participates in the celebrations of the patron saints of Rome. Together we thank God for progress in ecumenical relations between Catholics and Orthodox, and we renew our commitment to generously reciprocate to God's grace, which leads us to full communion.

Dear friends, I cordially greet all of you: Cardinals, Brother Bishops, Ambassadors and civil authorities, in particular the Mayor of Rome, priests, religious and lay faithful. Thank you for your presence. May the Saints Peter and Paul help you to grow in love for the holy Church, the Mystical Body of Christ the Lord and messenger of unity and peace for all men. May they also help you to offer the hardships and sufferings endured for fidelity to the Gospel with joy for her holiness and her mission. May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Apostles and Mother of the Church, always watch over you and especially over the Ministry of metropolitan archbishops. With her heavenly help may you always live and act in that freedom that Christ has won for us. Amen.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Holy See to UN on Aid to Refugees
"A Culture of Friendly Human Interaction ... Can Nourish Further Solidarity"

GENEVA, JUNE 30, 2010 Here is the address Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, permanent representative of the Holy See to the U.N. offices in Geneva, delivered June 22 at a meeting of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). The Vatican published the text of the address today.

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Mr. Chairman,

The Holy See Delegation supports the intense effort made by the UNHCR to call attention to, to refine and to advance the priority of extending increased protection to refugees and persons of concern. Though it appears like a counter-trend to current political sensitivities, it is a timely response, since conflicts have been displacing more people and forced return of potential asylum seekers gives evidence of a difficult political environment for uprooted people. The latest statistics indicate that involuntary movement of persons around the globe continues. The number of people of concern to the UNHCR has grown to 43.3 million worldwide in 2009, the highest number since the 1990s. A sign of current instability and change, for example, is the number of IDPs in Colombia that has reached 4.9 million at the end of 2009 -- a record high -- and the new huge wave of refugees from Kyrgyzstan.

Confronted with such figures, and the suffering of persons hiding behind the statistics, the right course of action is continuing the enlargement process of categories of people to be protected as the international community has progressively included them in the mandate of the UNHCR. Among the new categories for which more targeted provisions can be developed, mixed flows, internally displaced and urban refugees have rightly been pointed out. The increasing attention given to internally displaced persons moves in this positive general direction. Now that over fifty percent of the world population lives in urban areas, it is not surprising that refugees follow the same trend and move to cities in greater number, creating specific challenges for their protection from registration of their children at birth to avoid statelessness to employment possibilities, access to education and legal residence. Today’s ‘boat people’ from Africa, Asia and elsewhere cannot simply be towed back to the port of origin of their journey as if distancing their presence would offer a real solution. Similarly, the automatic resort to detaining potential refugees and asylum seekers -- often in appalling conditions -- is inappropriate.

A combination of safety, respect of human dignity and human rights is necessary. To sustain such a combination, a renewed effort is required to prevent forced displacement before it starts and to anticipate events that could trigger protection issues. Equally important is maintaining a strong international consensus on the protection regime which is founded on international law at a time when non-state actors play outside its rules. In the end, protection is an ethical commitment that underlies and serves as a foundation for effective action. The responsibility we owe to vulnerable groups of our one human family prompts adequate answers to remedy the violation of rights and to assist the victims. The same sense of coherence needs to drive States in translating into appropriate protection services the commitments they have assumed. In the final analysis one cannot say that a state has met its responsibility when persons of concern are left in a state of destitution. It certainly is a commendable and encouraging sign that, notwithstanding the enormous difficulty that the current financial and economic crises have brought about, contributions provided for refugees have increased. A culture of friendly human interaction in our globalized world can nourish further solidarity.

The role of media in presenting a positive perception of forcibly displaced persons, a fair indication of the real causes of this displacement and a sound and realistic sense of solidarity can counteract disinformation and the political manipulation of fears of unknown cultures and people. It can show instead that refugees and forcibly displaced people have talents and capacities to offer and show as well the advantages of building together a common future.

Mr. Chairman,

In conclusion, allow me to quote the words of Pope Benedict XVI on the occasion of World Refugee Day 2010: "Refugees wish to find welcome and to be recognized in their dignity and their fundamental rights; at the same time, they intend to offer their contribution to the society that accepts them. We pray that, in a just reciprocity, an adequate response be given to such expectations and that the refugees show the respect they feel for the identity of the receiving community."

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.


Vatican Note on Cardinal Schönborn's Papal Audience
"Wished to Clarify the Exact Sense of His Recent Statements"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the communiqué issued today by the Vatican press office after Benedict XVI received in audience Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the archbishop of Vienna, Austria, to discuss statements made by the cardinal regarding his predecessor, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, who resigned in 1995 amid allegations of sexual abuse.

* * *

1) The Holy Father received in audience today Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, archbishop of Vienna and president of the Austrian episcopal conference. He had requested to be able to inform the Supreme Pontiff personally on the present situation of the Church in Austria. In particular, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn wished to clarify the exact sense of his recent statements on some aspects of present ecclesiastical discipline, as well as certain evaluations of the attitude of the State Secretariat and in particular of the then Secretary of State of Pope John Paul II, of v.m., in regard to deceased Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër, archbishop of Vienna from 1986 to 1995.

2) Invited to the meeting subsequently were cardinals Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, and Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state.

In the second part of the audience, some widespread mistakes were clarified and resolved in part derived from some expressions of Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, who expressed his displeasure over the interpretations made.

In particular:

a) It is reminded that in the Church, when it is a question of accusations against a cardinal, the competence belongs only to the Pope; other entities can have a consultative function, always with due respect for the persons.

b) The word "chiacchiericcio" has been interpreted erroneously as a lack of respect for the victims of sexual abuses, for whom Cardinal Sodano has the same sentiments of compassion and condemnation of the evil, as he has expressed in several interventions of the Holy Father. That word, pronounced in Benedict XVI's Easter address, was taken literally from the papal homily of Palm Sunday and referred to the "courage that does not let itself be intimidated by the gossip of prevailing opinions."

3) Recalling with great affection his pastoral visit to Austria, the Holy Father sends through Cardinal Christoph Schönborn his greeting and encouragement to the Church in Austria and its pastors, entrusting to the celestial protection of Mary, so venerated in Mariazell, the path of a renewed ecclesial communion.

[Translation by ZENIT]


Pope's Homily at Vespers for Sts. Peter and Paul

"The Church Is an Immense Force of Renewal in the World"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during the vigil for the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul, held at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

With the celebration of the first vespers we enter into the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul. We have the grace of doing so in the Papal Basilica named after the Apostle to the Gentiles, recollected in prayer near his tomb. Because of this, I would like to focus my brief reflection on the perspective of the missionary vocation of the Church. In this line are the third antiphon of the psalm that we prayed and the biblical reading. The first two antiphons are dedicated to St. Peter, the third to St. Paul and it says: "You are the messenger of God, Holy Apostle Paul: you proclaimed the truth in the whole world."

And in the brief reading, which treats of the initial direction of the Letter to the Romans, Paul introduces himself as "called to be an apostle, set apart for the Gospel of God" (Romans 1:1). Paul's figure, his person and his ministry, his whole existence and his hard work for the Kingdom of God, are completely dedicated to the service of the Gospel. Perceived in these texts is a sense of movement, where the protagonist is not man, but God, the breath of the Holy Spirit, which drives the Apostle onto the roads of the world to take the Good News to all: the promises of the prophets are fulfilled in Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose for our justification. Saul is no longer, Paul is, and what is more, it is Christ who lives in him (cf. Galatians 2:20) and wishes to gather all men. If then the feast of the Holy Patrons of Rome evokes the twofold tension between unity and universality that typifies this Church, the context in which we find ourselves this evening calls us to favor the second, allowing ourselves, so to speak, to be won over by St. Paul and by his extraordinary vocation.

When he was elected Successor of Peter, at the height of the unfolding of the Second Vatican Council, the Servant of God Giovanni Battista Montini chose to bear the name of the Apostle to the Gentiles. Within his program of action of the Council, in 1974 Paul VI convoked and assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the topic of evangelization in the contemporary world, and about a year later he published the apostolic exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi," which opens with these words: "There is no doubt that the effort to proclaim the Gospel to the people of today, who are buoyed up by hope but at the same time often oppressed by fear and distress, is a service rendered to the Christian community and also to the whole of humanity" (No. 1). The timeliness of this expression is striking. Perceived in it is all the particular missionary sensibility of Paul VI and, through his voice, the great conciliar yearning to evangelize the contemporary world, a yearning that culminated in the decree "Ad Gentes," but which permeates all the documents of Vatican II and that, even earlier, animated the thought and work of the council fathers, gathered to represent, in a way never before so tangible, the worldwide diffusion reached by the Church.

Words are not adequate to explain how the Venerable John Paul II, in his long pontificate, developed this missionary projection, which -- it is always recalled -- responds to the nature itself of the Church, which with St. Paul can and must always repeat: "For if I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel! (1 Corinthians 9:16). Pope John Paul II presented "live" the missionary nature of the Church, with the apostolic journeys and with the insistence of his magisterium on the urgency of a "new evangelization": "new" not in the contents, but in the interior impulse, open to the grace of the Holy Spirit who constitutes the force of the new law of the Gospel and who always renews the Church; "new" in the search of ways that correspond to the force of the Holy Spirit and are adapted to the times and the situations; "new" because necessary also in countries which have already received the proclamation of the Gospel. Evident to all is that my predecessor gave an extraordinary impulse to the mission of the Church, not only -- I repeat -- by the distances covered by him, but above all by the genuine missionary spirit that animated him and that he left in legacy at the dawn of the third millennium.

Taking up this legacy, I have been able to affirm, at the beginning of my Petrine ministry, that the Church is young, and open to the future. And I repeat it today, near the sepulcher of St. Paul: The Church is an immense force of renewal in the world, not because of her strength, but because of the force of the Gospel, in which the Holy Spirit of God breathes, the God Creator and Redeemer of the world. The challenges of the present age are certainly beyond human capacities; they are the historical and social challenges, and with greater reason, the spiritual challenges. At times it seems to us pastors of the Church that we are reliving the experience of the Apostles, when thousands of needy persons followed Jesus, and he asked: What can we do for all these people? They then experienced their impotence. But Jesus had in fact demonstrated to them that with faith in God nothing is impossible, and that a few loaves and a few fish, blessed and shared, could satiate all. But it was not -- and is not -- only hunger for material food: There is a more profound hunger, which only God can satiate.

Man of the third millennium also desires an authentic and full life, he has need of truth, of profound liberty, of gratuitous love. Also in the deserts of the secularized world, man's soul thirsts for God, for the living God. Because of this John Paul II wrote: "The mission of Christ the Redeemer, entrusted to the Church, is still very far from its fulfillment," and he added: "a look on the whole of humanity demonstrates that such a mission is still at the beginning and that we must commit ourselves with all our strength to its service" ("Redemptoris Missio," No. 1). There are regions in the world that still wait for a first evangelization; others that received it but need more profound work; others still in which the Gospel put down roots a long time ago, giving place to a true Christian tradition, but where in the last centuries -- with complex dynamics -- the process of secularization has produced a grave crisis of the sense of the Christian faith and of belonging to the Church.

In this perspective, I have decided to create a new organism, in the form of pontifical council, with the specific task of promoting a renewed evangelization in countries where the first proclamation of the faith already resounded, and where Churches are present of ancient foundation, but which are going through a progressive secularization of society and a sort of "eclipse of the sense of God," which constitutes a challenge to find the appropriate means to propose again the perennial truth of the Gospel of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, the universal Church faces the challenge of the new evangelization, which asks us also to continue with commitment the search for the full unity among Christians. An eloquent sign of hope in this connection is the custom of the reciprocal visits between the Church of Rome and that of Constantinople on the occasion of the feasts of their respective patron saints.

Because of this, today we welcome with renewed joy and gratitude the delegation sent by Patriarch Bartholomew I, to whom we address the most cordial greeting. May the intercession of Sts. Peter and Paul obtain for the whole Church ardent faith and apostolic courage, to proclaim to the world the truth of which we all have need, the truth that is God, origin and end of the universe and of history, merciful and faithful Father, hope of eternal life. Amen.


Papal Address to Orthodox Delegation

"Your Presence ... Brings Great Gladness to the Hearts of Us All"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 - Here is the English-language address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience a delegation sent by the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to Rome to celebrate the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.

The delegation is led by Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, who is the co-secretary of the Joint International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and vice moderator of the central committee of the World Council of Churches in Geneva, Switzerland.

The other members include Bishop Bartholomaios (Ioannis Kessidis) of Arianzos, assistant to the metropolitan of Germany; and Deacon Theodoros Meimaris of the Patriarchal See of Fanar.

* * *

Dear Brothers in Christ,

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (Colossians 1:2). With great joy and heartfelt affection I welcome you in the Lord to this City of Rome, on the occasion of the annual celebration of the martyrdom of Saints Peter and Paul. Their feast, which the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches celebrate on the same day, is one of the most ancient of the liturgical year, and it testifies to a time when our communities were living in full communion with one another. Your presence here today -- for which I am deeply grateful to the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness Bartholomaios I, and to the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate -- brings great gladness to the hearts of us all.

I thank the Lord that the relations between us are characterized by sentiments of mutual trust, esteem and fraternity, as is amply testified by the many meetings that have already taken place in the course of this year.

All this gives grounds for hope that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue will also continue to make significant progress. Your Eminence is aware that the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue, of which you are Joint Secretary, is at a crucial point, having begun last October in Paphos to discuss the "The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church in the First Millennium". With all our hearts we pray that, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, the Members of the Commission will continue along this path during the forthcoming plenary session in Vienna, and devote to it the time needed for thorough study of this delicate and important issue. For me it is an encouraging sign that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I and the Holy Synod of Constantinople share our firm conviction of the importance of this dialogue, as His Holiness stated so clearly in the Patriarchal and Synodal Encyclical Letter on the occasion of Orthodoxy Sunday on 21 February 2010.

In the forthcoming Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which I have convoked for the month of October here in Rome, I am certain that the theme of ecumenical cooperation between the Christians of that region will receive great attention. Indeed, it is highlighted in the Instrumentum Laboris, which I consigned to the Catholic Bishops of the Middle East during my recent visit to Cyprus, where I was received with great fraternal warmth by His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus. The difficulties that the Christians of the Middle East are experiencing are in large measure common to all: living as a minority, and yearning for authentic religious freedom and for peace. Dialogue is needed with the Islamic and Jewish communities. In this context I shall be very pleased to welcome the Fraternal Delegation which the Ecumenical Patriarch will send in order to participate in the work of the Synodal Assembly.

Your Eminence, dear members of the Delegation, I thank you for your visit. I ask you to convey my fraternal greetings to His Holiness Bartholomaios I, to the Holy Synod, to the clergy and all the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate. Through the intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, may the Lord grant us abundant blessings, and may he keep us always in his love.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Following Christ
"One of the Most Beautiful Experiences"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with crowds gathered in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters!

The biblical readings of this Sunday’s Holy Mass give me the opportunity to take up again the theme of Christ’s call and its demands, a theme which I also reflected on a week ago on the occasion of the ordination of new presbyters of the Diocese of Rome. In fact, whoever has the fortune to know a young man or young woman who leaves their family, their studies or work to consecrate himself or herself to God, knows this well, because he has before him a living example of radical response to the divine calling. This is one of the most beautiful experiences that one has in the Church: seeing the Lord’s action in people’s lives, touching it with one’s hand; experiencing that God is not an abstract entity, but a Reality so great and powerful that he can fill man’s heart in a super-abundant way. He is a Person who is alive and near, who loves us and asks us to love him.

The evangelist Luke presents us with Jesus as he is on the road to Jerusalem and meets some men, probably young men, who promise to follow him wherever he goes. He shows himself to be very demanding with them, informing them that “the Son of man” -- Jesus himself, the Messiah -- “has no place to lay his head,” that is, he does not have his own stable place to live, and that whoever chooses to work with him in God’s field cannot change his mind (cf. Luke 9:57-58, 61-62).

To another, Christ himself says: “Follow me,” asking him to completely sever his familial bonds (Luke 9:59-60). These demands might appear too harsh, but in reality they express the newness and absolute priority of the Kingdom of God that is made present in the Person himself of Jesus Christ. In the final analysis it is the radicality that is owed to the Love of God, whom Jesus is the first to obey. Whoever renounces everything, even himself, to follow Jesus, enters into a new dimension of freedom that St. Paul defines as “walking according to the Spirit” (cf. Galatians 5:16). “Christ has freed us for freedom!” the Apostle writes, and explains that this new form of freedom acquired for us by Christ consists in being “in the service of each other” (Galatians 5:1, 13). Freedom and love coincide! Obeying one’s own egoism, on the contrary, leads to rivalry and conflict.

Dear friends, the month of June, characterized by devotion to the Sacred Heart of Christ, is already coming to an end. Indeed on the feast of the Sacred Heart we renewed our commitment to sanctification together with the priests of the whole world. Today I would like to invite everyone to contemplate the divine-human heart of the Lord Jesus, to draw from the source itself of God’s Love. Whoever fixes his gaze upon that pierced Heart that is always open out of love for us, senses the truth of this invocation: “Lord, you are my only good” (Responsorial Psalm), and is ready to leave everything to follow the Lord. O Mary, who answered the divine call without holding anything back, pray for us!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[After the Angelus the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various languages. In Italian, he said:]

In Lebanon this morning, Estéphan Nehmé, born Joseph Nehmé, was proclaimed blessed. He was a religious of the Lebanese Maronite Order, who lived in Lebanon between the end of the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. I heartily rejoice with the Lebanese brothers and sisters, and I entrust them with great affection to the protection of the new Blessed.

On this Sunday that precedes the Solemnity of Saints Peter and Paul, there is observed in Italy and elsewhere the Day of Charity of the Pope. I express my lively gratitude to those who, with prayers and offerings, support the apostolic and charitable activity of the Successor of Peter on behalf of the universal Church and of many brothers both near and far.

[In English he said:]

I extend cordial greetings to the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for today’s Angelus. On Tuesday of this week we will be celebrating Rome’s feast-day, that is to say, the feast of Saints Peter and Paul -- two great Apostles who proclaimed the Gospel in this city and bore witness to Christ even to the shedding of their blood. Through their prayers, may all who come on pilgrimage to Rome be renewed and strengthened in faith, hope and love. May God’s abundant blessings come down upon all of you and upon your loved ones at home!


Statement at Conclusion of Vatican-Vietnam Meeting
"The Two Sides Noted Encouraging Developments"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is the statement released Saturday by the Vatican press office at the conclusion of the two-day meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Join Working Group, held last Wednesday and Thursday at the Vatican.

* * *

As agreed upon at the First of Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group in Hanoi in February 2009, the Second meeting of the Vietnam-Holy See Joint Working Group took place in the Vatican from 23-24 June 2010 co-chaired by Monsignor Ettore Balestrero, Under-Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, Head of the Holy See Delegation and Mr. Nguyen Quoc Cuong, Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Head of the Vietnamese Delegation.

After reviewing the progress made since the first Joint Working Group meeting, the two sides discussed international issues and those related to bilateral relations and to the Catholic Church in Viet Nam. The Vietnamese side recalled its consistent policy of respect for freedoms of religion and belief as well as the legal provisions to guarantee its implementation. The Delegation of the Holy See took note of this explanation and asked that further conditions be established so that the Church may participate effectively in the development of the country, especially in the spiritual, educational, healthcare, social and charitable fields. The Delegation of the Holy See also mentioned that the Church in her teaching invites the faithful to be good citizens and therefore to work for the common good of the population.

The two sides noted encouraging developments in various areas of Catholic life in Vietnam, especially in relation to the Jubilee Year. Furthermore they recalled the address of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI during the last Ad Limina visit of the Vietnamese Bishops and the Holy Father’s Message to the Catholic Church in Vietnam on the occasion of the Jubilee Year, and agreed that these teachings of the Holy Father would serve as an orientation for the Catholic Church in Vietnam in the years ahead.

On bilateral relations the two sides appreciated the positive developments since the first meeting of the Joint Working Group, especially the meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the Vietnamese State President Nguyen Minh Triet in December 2009. The two sides also had in-depth and comprehensive discussions on bilateral diplomatic relations. In order to deepen the relations between the Holy See and Vietnam, as well as the bonds between the Holy See and the local Catholic Church, it was agreed that, as a first step, a non-resident Representative of the Holy See for Vietnam will be appointed by the Pope.

The two sides decided to hold the third meeting of the Joint Working Group in Vietnam; the time of the meeting will be settled through diplomatic channels.

On the occasion of the meeting, the Vietnamese Delegation paid a courtesy call to H.E. Archbishop Mamberti, Secretary for the Holy See’s Relations with States, to the Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and to the Vicariate of the Diocese of Rome. The Delegation also visited the Pediatric Hospital Bambino Gesù of the Holy See in Rome.


Pope on Raids of Belgian Church Offices

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent today to Archbishop André-Joseph Léonard of Malines-Brussels, and president of Belgium's episcopal conference, regarding the raids carried out Thursday by police on the archdiocesan cathedral and on Church offices. Officials report that the police were looking for documents regarding the sexual abuse of minors.

* * *

To our Venerable Brother
Monsignor André-Joseph Léonard
Archbishop of Malines-Brussels
President of the Bishops' Conference of Belgium,

In this sad moment I would like to express my particular nearness and solidarity with you, dear brother in the episcopate, and with all the bishops of the Church in Belgium, in the wake of the surprising and deplorable manner in which the searches were carried out in the cathedral of Malines and the place where the Belgian episcopate was gathered in a plenary session that, among other things, was also to have treated matters connected with the abuse of minors by members of the clergy.

Many times I myself have stressed that these grave deeds must be dealt with by the civil and canonical orders, with respect to their reciprocal specificity and autonomy. In this sense I desire that justice take its course, with a guarantee for the fundamental rights of persons and institutions, in respect to the victims, in recognition without prejudice of those who are committed to cooperate with it and in the rejection of all that casts a shadow on the noble work assigned to it.

Assuring that I accompany the journey of this Church daily in prayer, I very gladly convey my affectionate Apostolic Benediction.

Vatican City, June 27, 2010


Papal Address to Italian Charity Circolo San Pietro
"Continue to Be a Concrete Sign of the Pope's Charity"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience a delegation representing the Circolo San Pietro (Circle of St. Peter), an Italian charity founded in 1869.

* * *

Dear Members of the Circolo San Pietro!

I am delighted to welcome you on the occasion of this pleasant meeting, which offers me the opportunity to renew my recognition of your generous work in service to the Holy See.

This meeting takes place just a short time before the liturgical solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and permits us, in a certain way, a foretaste of the joy of such an observance that is so meaningful for your worthy society and for the whole Church. I greet all of you with affection, beginning with your president, Duke Leopoldo Torlonia, whom I thank for the kind words that he has addressed to me on behalf of everyone, and with your spiritual director.

A short while ago we concluded the Year for Priests, a time of grace during which the Church reflected with special attention on the figure of St. John Marie Vianney, the holy Curé d'Ars, observing the 150th anniversary of his death. He is a model of evangelical life not only for priests, but for lay people, especially for those who work, as you do, in the vast field of charity. A peculiar aspect of the life of this humble priest was, in fact, his detachment from material goods. He did not own anything, he gave everything away to the most needy; it did not feel the necessity of having anything for himself: He considered everything superfluous. He learned the love of the poor as a boy, seeing how they were welcomed and helped by his parents at home. This love led him, in the course of his priestly life, to give away everything he had. He also founded a home that he called “Providence” for poor children and girls: he dedicated every effort to them so that they would receive a healthy Christian education.

May his example constitute for you, dear members of the Circolo San Pietro, a constant invitation to open your arms to every person who has need of a tangible sign of solidarity. Continue to be a concrete sign of the Pope’s charity to whomever finds themselves in need, whether materially or spiritually, and to the pilgrims who come to Rome from every part of the world to visit the tombs of the Apostles and to meet the Successor of Peter.

As was noted a moment ago, you have come here to present the Peter’s Pence that has been collected from the churches of Rome. I would like to express my lively gratitude for this attestation of participation in my solicitude for persons most in need. It represents a point of convergence between two complementary actions, that are linked in a single eloquent testimony of evangelical charity, since, on the one hand, it manifests the affection of the inhabitants of this city and of pilgrims for the Successor of Peter and, on the other hand, it expresses the concrete solidarity of the Holy See with so many situations of hardship and poverty that, unfortunately, remain in Rome and in many other parts of the world. Bringing together the Roman parishes and running aid and hospitality centers in the capital, you have the possibility of directly experiencing the many situations of poverty that are still present; at the same time, you can also witness how intense is people’s desire to know Christ and to love in our brothers.

Through this work of yours to meet the needs of the less fortunate, you spread a message of hope, that flows from faith and adhesion to the Lord, thus making you heralds of his Gospel. Charity and witness, then, continue to be the guiding lines of your apostolate. I encourage you to continue in this action of yours with joy, taking inspiration from unfailing Christian principles and always drawing new strength from prayer and the spirit of sacrifice -- as your motto says -- to bear copious fruit in both the Christian community and civil society.

I entrust your aspirations, plans and all your activities to the maternal protection of the Holy Virgin, “Salus Populi Romani,” that she might guide your steps, making you ever more convinced workers of solidarity and builders of peace in all the spheres where the worthy action of your association is carried out. With these vows, I invoke the heavenly intercession of Saints Peter and Paul and gladly impart to each of you, to your families and those you meet in your daily service a special Apostolic Benediction.


Papal Address to Aid Agencies for Eastern Churches
"We All Desire ... Stable Peace and Solid Coexistence"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today on receiving in audience members of the Assembly of Societies for Aid to Eastern Churches (ROACO).

* * *

[In Italian]

Esteemed Cardinal,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,

I welcome you with joy for the summer session of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches, and my heartfelt thanks to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, for the greeting he addressed to me. I return it accompanied by my remembrance in prayer to the Lord and I extend it to the archbishop secretary, to the undersecretary and to the collaborators of the dicastery, with a cordial thought for the papal representative in Jerusalem, in Israel and Palestine, for the Maronite archbishop of Cyprus and the Father Custos of the Holy Land, gathered here with the representatives of the international Catholic agencies and of Bethlehem University. I express to all my gratitude and that of the whole Church, in particular of the pastors and of the Eastern and Latin faithful of the territories entrusted to the Oriental Congregation and of all those who have emigrated from the homeland.

[In French]

We all desire for the Holy Land, Iraq and the Middle East the gift of a stable peace and solid coexistence. These are born from respect of human rights, of families, communities and peoples, and by the overcoming of religious, cultural or social discrimination. I entrust you to God, but also to you the appeal I launched in Cyprus for the Christian East. As instruments of ecclesial charity, continue collaborating for the construction of justice, liberty and peace!

I encourage the brothers and sisters who, in the East, share the inestimable gift of baptism, to persevere in the faith and, despite the many sacrifices, to stay where they were born. At the same time, I urge the Eastern migrants not to forget their origins, above all the religious. Their fidelity and human and Christian coherence depend on it. I wish to pay special homage to Christians who suffer violence because of the Gospel, and I commend them to God. I continue to count on the leaders of nations to guarantee in a real way and everywhere, without distinction, the public and community profession of the religious beliefs of each one.

Last year, on the occasion and because of the Year for Priests, I requested that special attention be given to the ministers of Christ and of the Church. Abundant fruits of holiness have arisen not only for priests, but also for the whole people of God. I pray to the Holy Spirit that He confirm these signs of divine favor through the gift of vocations, which the ecclesial community so needs, both in the East as well as the West.

[In German]

I am happy to see that the Catholic Eastern Churches have collaborated zealously in the concretion of the objectives of the Year for Priests and that ROACO's aid works have also supported them in this area. You not only considered the formation of the candidates to Holy Orders, which is a constant priority, but also the needs of the clergy active in the pastoral care of vocations as, for example, spiritual and cultural updating and aid to priests, above all in the difficult but at the same time fruitful phase of sickness and old age. Thus you contribute to radiate in the Church and in present-day society the precious and indispensable gift of the priestly service. In the ancient world, the East was the headquarters of great schools of priestly spirituality. The Church of Antioch, to give an example, produced exceptional saints: extremely educated priests, who did not put themselves forward but Christ and the Apostles. They were entirely dedicated to the proclamation of the Word and to the celebration of the divine mysteries. They were able to touch persons profoundly in their conscience and to reach what merely human means cannot reach.

Dear friends, with your commitment you contribute above all to the fact that the priests of the Eastern Churches can be, in our time, echo of that spiritual heritage. In the network of school and social institutions, which is, in fact, one of your endeavors, it will give a strong impulse to flower in a firm pastoral perspective. When priests are guided in their service by truly spiritual motives, then the laity also is reinforced in its commitment to be engaged in temporal things according to their own Christian vocation.

[In English]

We now have the common task of preparing for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I thank God for this initiative, which is already producing the beneficial fruits of "communion and witness" for which the synod was initially convoked. Last year at Castel Gandolfo, I had the pleasure of announcing this Synodal Assembly during a meeting of fraternal prayer and reflection with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Churches. During my recent visit to Cyprus, which I recall with much gratitude to God and to those who welcomed me, I consigned the Instrumentum Laboris of this Special Assembly to representatives of the Episcopate of the Middle East. I am pleased at the broad cooperation provided thus far by the Eastern Churches and for the work which, from the beginning, R.O.A.C.O. has done, and continues to do for this historical event. This joint effort will have fruitful results because of the presence of some of your representatives at this episcopal gathering and your ongoing relationship with the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

[In Italian]

Dear friends, I ask you to contribute with your works to maintain alive the "hope that does not disappoint" among the Christians of the East (Romans 5:5; cf. Instrumentum laboris, Conclusions). In the "little flock" (Luke 12:32) that they make up already operating is the future of God, and the "narrow way" that they are following is described by the Gospel as "way of life" (Matthew 7:13-14). We would always like to be by their side! Confident of the intercession of the most Holy Mother of God and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, I entrust to the Lord the benefactors, friends and collaborators living and dead, joined in different ways to ROACO, with a particular remembrance of monsignor Padovese, recently deceased, while I impart to each one of you, to those who make up and those who support the international agencies, as well as to all the beloved Eastern Catholic Churches the comforting Apostolic Blessing.


Papal Homily During Visit to Dominican Cloister
"You Were Consecrated to Jesus, to Belong to Him Exclusively"

ROME, JUNE 24, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today during his visit to cloistered nuns of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria del Rosario in Rome's Monte Mario district.

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Dear Sisters,

I address to each one of you the words of Psalm 124 (125), which we just prayed: "Do good, O Lord, to those who are good, and to those who are upright in their hearts!" (v. 4). I greet you above all with this wish: the goodness of the Lord be upon you. In particular, I greet your Mother Prioress and thank her from my heart for the kind expressions she addressed to me in the name of the community. With great joy I accepted the invitation to visit this convent, to be able to pause with you at the feet of the image of St. Sixtus' acheropita Virgin, now protector of the Roman convents of St. Mary in Tempulo and of St. Sixtus.

Together we have prayed the midday prayer, a small part of this Liturgical Prayer that, as cloistered, marks the rhythm of your days and makes you interpreters of the Church-Bride which unites her, in a special way, with her Lord. With this choral prayer, which finds its culmination in the daily participation in the Eucharistic Sacrifice, your consecration to the Lord in silence and seclusion becomes fecund and full of fruits, not only for the path of sanctification and purification, but also for the apostolate of intercession that you carry out for the whole Church, so that it can appear pure and holy in the presence of the Lord. You, who know well the efficacy of prayer, experience every day the many graces of holiness it can obtain in the Church.

Dear Sisters, the community you make up is a place where you can dwell in the Lord; it is for you the New Jerusalem, to which the tribes of the Lord go up to praise the name of the Lord (cf. Psalm121:4). Be grateful to Divine Providence for the sublime and gratuitous gift of the monastic vocation, to which the Lord has called you without any merit of yours. With Isaiah, you can affirm "the Lord formed me from the womb" (Isaiah 49:5). Even before you were born, the Lord had kept your heart for himself to be able to fill it with his love. Through the sacrament of baptism you received Divine grace in yourselves, immersed in his Death and Resurrection, you were consecrated to Jesus, to belong to him exclusively. The way of contemplative life, which you received from St. Dominic in the form of cloister, places you, as living and vital members, in the heart of the Lord's Mystical Body, which is the Church; and as the heart makes the blood circulate and maintains the whole body alive, so your hidden existence with Christ, interlaced with work and prayer, contributes to sustain the Church, instrument of salvation for every man whom the Lord redeemed with his blood.

It is this inexhaustible source that you approach with prayer, presenting in the presence of the Most High the spiritual and material needs of so many brothers in difficulty, the strayed life of all those who separate themselves from the Lord. How can one not be moved by compassion for those who seem to wander aimlessly? How can one not wish that in their life they will encounter Jesus, the only one who gives meaning to existence? The holy desire that the Kingdom of God be established in the heart of every man, is identified with prayer itself, as St. Augustine teaches us: Ipsum desiderium tuum, oratio tua est; et si continuum desiderium, continue oratio (cf. Ep. 130, 18-20); because of this, as fire that burns and is never extinguished, the heart remains alert, it never ceases to desire and it always raises a hymn of praise to God.

Recognize because of this, Dear Sisters, that in everything you do, beyond the personal moments of prayer, your heart continues to be led by the desire to love God. With the Bishop of Hippo, acknowledge that the Lord has put his love in your hearts, desire that dilates the heart, until it makes it capable of receiving God himself (cf. In. O. Ev. tr. 40, 10). This is the horizon of the earthly pilgrimage! This is your goal! This is why you have chosen to live in obscurity and in the renunciation of earthly goods: to desire above all that good which has no equal, that precious pearl that merits the renunciation of any other good to enter into its possession.

May you be able to pronounce every day your "yes" to God's designs, with the same humility with which the Holy Virgin said her "yes." May she, who in silence received the Word of God, guide you in your daily virginal consecration, so that you will be able to experience in obscurity the profound intimacy she lived with Jesus. Invoking her maternal protection, together with that of St. Dominic, St. Catherine of Siena and of the many men and women saints of the Dominican Order, I impart to you all a special Apostolic blessing, which I willingly extend to the persons who entrust themselves to your prayers.


Benedict XVI's Address at Don Orione Center
"Works of Charity … Can Never Be Reduced to a Philanthropic Gesture"
ROME, JUNE 24, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during his visit to the Don Orione Center in Rome's Monte Mario district, where he blessed a 29-foot tall restored statue of the Virgin Mary.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the first place, I would like to cordially greet you all, gathered here for today's significant event. On this hill, the majestic statute of the Virgin, knocked down a few months ago by the fury of the wind, again watches over our city. First of all I greet the vicar, Cardinal Agostino Vallini, and the bishops present. A special thought goes to Father Flavio Peloso, re-elected to lead the Opera Don Orione, and I thank him for the kind words he addressed to me. I extend this greeting to the religious participating in the 13th General Chapter, to those who work in this institution at the service of young people and those who suffer, and of the whole spiritual Orionine family. My deferent thought goes to the mayor of Rome, the Honorable Gianni Alemanno: I wish to express to him in anticipation my appreciation for the concert that the Campidoglio will offer me on the afternoon of June 29; it is a gesture that attests to the affection for the Pope of the whole city of Rome. I greet, moreover, all the other civil and military authorities. Finally, I cannot but thank from my heart all those who in different ways have contributed to restore the statue of Our Lady to its original splendor.

I was happy to accept the invitation to join you in rendering homage to Mary, "Salus Populi Romani," represented in this wonderful statue, so loved by the Roman people. A statue that brings back memories of tragic and providential events, written in the history and conscience of the city. In fact, it was placed on the top of Monte Mario in 1953, in fulfillment of a popular vow pronounced during World War II, when hostilities and arms made one fear for Rome's fate. From Don Orione's Roman works stemmed, then, the initiative to collect signatures for a vow, to which more than one million citizens adhered. The Venerable Pius XII took up the people's devout initiative that entrusted itself to Mary and the vow was pronounced on June 4, 1944, before the image of Our Lady of Divine Love. Precisely that day, the peaceful liberation of Rome took place. How can we not renew also today, dear friends of Rome, that gesture of devotion to Mary "Salus Populi Romani" by blessing this beautiful statue?

The Orionines wanted it to be large and to be placed high above the city, to render homage to the exalted holiness of the Mother of God, who, humble on earth, "was exalted above the angelic choirs in the celestial kingdom" (Gregory VII, Ad Adelaide di Ungheria), and to have, at the same time, a sign of her familiar presence in daily life. May Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, be always at the summit of your thoughts and affection, kind consolation of your souls, sure guide of your desires and support of your steps, persuasive inspirer of the imitation of Jesus Christ. May the Madonnina -- as the Romans like to call her -- in the gesture of looking from on high at the places of family, civil and religious life in Rome, protect families, inspire good resolutions, suggest to all the desire for heaven. "To look at heaven, to pray and then to go forward with courage and work! Ave Maria, and forward!" -- exhorted Saint Louis Orione.

In their vow to the Virgin, in addition to promising prayer and devotion, Romans also committed themselves to works of charity. For their part, the Orionines were involved in this Center of Monte Mario, even before the statue, in the reception of little ones who were mutilated and orphans. St. Louis Orione's program -- charity alone will save the world -- had a significant realization here and became a sign of hope for Rome, in union with the Madonnina placed on the top of the hill. Dear Brothers and Sisters, spiritual heirs of the saint of charity, Louis Orione! The General Chapter that has just ended had as its theme this expression loved by your founder: Charity alone will save the world. I bless the objective and the decisions that have been adopted to re-launch the spiritual and apostolic dynamism that must always distinguish you.

Don Orione lived in a lucid and passionate way the Church's task to live love in order to make the light of God enter the world (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 39). He left this mission to his disciples as the spiritual and apostolic way, convinced that "charity opens the eyes to faith and makes hearts burn with love of God." Continue, dear Sons of Divine Providence, on this charismatic trail initiated by him because, as he said, "charity is the best defense of the Catholic faith," "charity draws, charity moves, it leads to faith and to hope" (Verbali, 26.11.1930, p. 95). Works of charity, both as personal acts or as services to frail persons offered in great institutions, can never be reduced to a philanthropic gesture, but must always be a tangible expression of the provident love of God. To do this -- Don Orione reminds -- it is necessary to be "mixed with the most gentle charity of Our Lord" (Scritti 70, 231) through an authentic and holy spiritual life. Only in this way is it possible to move from works of charity to the charity of works, because -- your founder adds -- "actually, works without the charity of God, that gives them value before Him, are worthless" (Alle PSMC, 19.6.1920, p. 141).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, thank you once again for your invitation and your hospitality. May the maternal protection of Mary accompany you every day, whom we invoke together for all those who work in this center and for the whole Roman population and, while I assure each one of my remembrance in prayer, I bless you all with affection.


On the Summa Theologiae
"In the School of the Saints, Let Us Be Enamored" of the Eucharist
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to complete, with a third part, my catechesis on St. Thomas Aquinas. Even after more than 700 years since his death, we can learn much from him. We were reminded of this also by my predecessor, Pope Paul VI, who, in an address given at Fossanova on Sept. 14, 1974, on the occasion of the seventh centenary of St. Thomas' death, asked: "Master Thomas, what lessons can you give us?" And he answered thus: "Trust in the truth of Catholic religious thought, as he defended it, explained it, [and] opened it to the cognitive capacity of the human mind" (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XII [1974], pp. 833-834). And, on the same day, in Aquino, still referring to St. Thomas, he affirmed: "All of us, who are faithful children of the Church can and must, at least in some measure, be his disciples!" (Ibid., p. 836).

Hence, let us also put ourselves in the school of St. Thomas and of his masterpiece, the Summa Theologiae. It was never finished and yet it is a monumental work: It contains 512 questions and 2,669 articles. It is coherent reasoning, in which the application of human intelligence to the mysteries of the faith proceeds with clarity and depth, interlacing questions and answers, in which St. Thomas deepens the teaching that comes from sacred Scripture and from the Fathers of the Church, above all St. Augustine. In this reflection, in the encounter with true questions of his time, which are often also our questions, St. Thomas, also using the methods and thought of ancient philosophers, in particular of Aristotle, thus arrives at precise, lucid and pertinent formulations of the truth of the faith, where truth is a gift of faith, [where it] shines and becomes accessible to us, through our reflection. However, such effort of the human mind, Aquinas reminds us with his very life, is always illumined by prayer, by the light that comes from on high. Only one who lives with God and with the mysteries can also understand what they say.

In the Summa of theology, St. Thomas begins from the fact that there are three different modes of the being and essence of God: God exists in himself; he is the beginning and end of all things, and thus all creatures proceed from and depend on him, and God is present through his grace in the life and activity of the Christian, of the saints; finally, God is present in an altogether special way in the Person of Christ really united here with the man Jesus, and operating in the sacraments, which flow from his redemptive work.

Because of this, the structure of this monumental work (cf. Jean Pierre Torrell, La "Summa" di San Tommaso, Milan, 2003, pp. 29-75), research with a "theological look" at the fullness of God (cf. Summa Theologiae, Ia, q. 1, a. 7), is articulated in three parts, and is illustrated by the Doctor Communis himself -- St. Thomas -- with these words: The main purpose of sacred doctrine is that of making God known, not only in himself, but also inasmuch as he is beginning and end of things, and especially of the reasoning creature. In the attempt to explain this doctrine, we will first treat of God; then of the movement of the creature toward God; and finally of Christ who, inasmuch as man, is for us the way to ascend to God" (Ibid., I. q. 2). It is a circle: God in himself, who comes out of himself and takes us by the hand, so that with Christ we return to God, we are united to God, and God will be all in all.

Hence, the first part of the Summa Theologiae studies God in himself, the mystery of the Trinity, and God's creative activity. In this part we also find a profound reflection on the authentic reality of the human being inasmuch as he issued from the creative hands of God, fruit of his love. On one hand we are a created, dependent being -- we do not come from ourselves; but, on the other, we have a true autonomy, so that we are not only something apparent -- as some Platonic philosophers say -- but a reality willed by God as such, and with value in itself.

In the second part St. Thomas considers man, driven by grace, in his aspiration to know and love God to be happy in time and in eternity. Firstly, the author presents the theological principles of moral action, studying how, in man's free choice of carrying out good acts, reason, will and passions are integrated, to which is added the strength that the grace of God gives through the virtues and gifts of the Holy Spirit, as well as the help that is given also by the moral law. Hence the human being is a dynamic being that seeks himself, he seeks to become himself and, in this connection, seeks to do acts that build him up, make him truly man; and here the moral law, grace and one's reason, the will and the passions come in. On this foundation St. Thomas delineates the physiognomy of the man who lives according to the Spirit and thus becomes an icon of God. Here Aquinas pauses to study the three theological virtues -- faith, hope and charity -- followed by the acute examination of more than 50 moral virtues, organized around the four cardinal virtues -- prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. He then ends with a reflection on the different vocations in the Church.

In the third part of the Summa, St. Thomas studies the mystery of Christ -- the way and the truth -- by which we can return to union with God the Father. In this section he writes pages as yet unparalleled on the mystery of the incarnation and passion of Jesus, adding afterward a thorough treatise on the seven sacraments, since in them, the incarnate divine Word extends the benefits of the incarnation for our salvation, for our path of faith toward God and eternal life. He remains almost materially present with the realities of creation; he thus touches us in what is most intimate.

Speaking of the sacraments, St. Thomas pauses particularly on the mystery of the Eucharist, for which he had a very great devotion, to the point that, according to ancient biographers, he used to lean his head on the tabernacle, almost as if to hear the beating of the divine and human Heart of Jesus. In one of his works commenting on Scripture, St. Thomas helps us to understand the excellence of the sacrament of the Eucharist, when he writes: "The Eucharist being the sacrament of the passion of our Lord, is also an effect of this sacrament, it not being other than the application in us of the passion of the Lord" (In Ioannem, c.6, n. 963). Let us understand well why St. Thomas and other saints celebrated the Holy Mass shedding tears of compassion for the Lord, who offers himself in sacrifice for us, tears of joy and of gratitude.

Dear brothers and sisters, in the school of the saints, let us be enamored of this sacrament! Let us participate in the Holy Mass with recollection to obtain its spiritual fruits, let us nourish ourselves on the Body and Blood of the Lord, to be incessantly nourished by divine grace! Let us willingly and frequently converse, face to face, in the company of the Most Blessed Sacrament!

All that St. Thomas illustrated with scientific rigor in his major theological works, such as the Summa Theologiae and the Summa contra Gentiles, was also explained in his preaching, addressed to students and the faithful. In 1273, a year before his death, during the whole of Lent, he preached in the San Domenico Maggiore Church in Naples. The content of those sermons was collected and conserved: They are the booklets in which he explains the Symbol of the Apostles, interprets the prayer of the Our Father, illustrates the Decalogue and comments on the Hail Mary. The content of the preaching of the Angelic Doctor corresponds almost entirely to the structure of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. In fact, in catechesis and in preaching, at a time like ours of renewed commitment to evangelization, these fundamental arguments must never be lacking: that is, what we believe, and here is the Symbol of the faith; what we pray, and here is the Our Father and the Hail Mary; and what we live as biblical revelation teaches us, and here is the law of love of God and of our neighbor and the Ten Commandments, as explanation of this mandate of love.

I would like to propose some simple, essential and convincing examples of the content of the teaching of St. Thomas. In his booklet on the Symbol of the Apostles he explains the value of faith. Through it, he says, the soul is united to God, and something like a shoot of eternal life is produced; life receives a sure orientation, and we overcome temptations easily. To those who object that faith is nonsense, because it makes one believe something that does not fall under the experience of the senses, St. Thomas gives a very articulated answer, and recalls that this is an inconsistent doubt, because human intelligence is limited and cannot know everything. Only in the case that we could know perfectly all visible and invisible things, would it then be genuine nonsense to accept truths purely on faith. However, it is impossible to live, St. Thomas observes, without trusting the experience of others, where personal knowledge does not reach. Hence it is reasonable to have faith in God who reveals himself and in the testimony of the Apostles: they were few, simple and poor, dismayed by the Crucifixion of their Teacher; and yet many wise, noble and rich persons were converted in a short time upon listening to their preaching. It is, in fact, a historically striking phenomenon, to which with difficulty one can give any other reasonable answer, other than that of the Apostles' encounter with the Risen Lord.

Commenting on the article of the Symbol regarding the incarnation of the Divine Word, St. Thomas makes some considerations. He affirms that Christian faith, when it considers the mystery of the incarnation, is reinforced; hope rises more trustingly, with the thought that the Son of God came among us, as one of us, to communicate to men his own divinity; charity is revived, because there is no more evident sign of the love of God for us than seeing the Creator of the universe make himself a creature, one of us. Finally, considering the mystery of the incarnation of God, we feel our desire inflamed to reach Christ in glory. Using a simple and effective analogy, St. Thomas observes: "If the brother of a king was far away, he certainly would long to live next to him. Well, Christ is our brother: hence, we must desire his company, become one heart with him" (Opuscoli teologico-spirituali, Rome, 1976, p. 64).

Presenting the prayer of the Our Father, St. Thomas shows that it is perfect in itself, having all the five characteristics that a well made prayer should have: trusting and tranquil abandonment; appropriateness of content, because -- St. Thomas observes -- "it is quite difficult to know exactly what it is appropriate to ask and what not, from the moment that we are in difficulty in face of the choice of desires" (Ibid., p. 120); and then the appropriate order of requests; fervor of charity; and sincerity of humility.

St. Thomas was, as all the saints, a great devotee of Our Lady. He described her with a beautiful appellative: Triclinium totius Trinitatis, triclinium, that is, place where the Trinity finds its rest, because, due to the Incarnation, the three divine Persons dwell [in her] and experience delight and joy to live in her soul full of grace as in no other creature. Through her intercession we can obtain all help.

With a prayer, which traditionally is attributed to St. Thomas and that, in any case, reflects the elements of his profound Marian devotion, we also say: "O blessed and sweet Virgin Mary, Mother of God ... I entrust my whole life to your merciful heart. ... Obtain for me, oh my most sweet Lady, true charity, with which I will be able to love with all my heart your Most Holy Son and you, after him, above all things, and my neighbor in God and for God."

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we turn once more to the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas. The Summa Theologiae, his masterpiece, reflects Thomas' serene confidence in the harmony of faith and reason, and in the ability of reason, enlightened by faith, to come to an understanding of God and his saving plan. The Summa treats of the Triune God in himself, in his work of creation, and in the person of Jesus Christ, the incarnate Son, whose humanity is the means by which we return to the Father. Thomas illustrates the working of divine grace, which perfects our natural gifts and enables us, through the practice of the virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, to attain the eternal happiness for which we were created. His description of Christ's saving work stresses the importance of the seven sacraments, and especially the Eucharist. These great theological truths are also reflected in Thomas' preaching which in a clear and simple way presents the mysteries of the faith, the content of Christian prayer, and the demands of a moral life shaped by the natural law and the Gospel's new commandment of love. With the Angelic Doctor, let us pray for the grace to love the Lord with all our heart, and to love our neighbour, "in God and for God."


Papal Address on 400th Anniversary of Matteo Ricci's Death
"An Example of Balance Between Doctrinal Clarity and Prudent Pastoral Action"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2010 ( Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered May 29 upon receiving several dioceses of the Marches region on the 400th anniversary of the Italian Jesuit missionary Father Matteo Ricci (1552-1610).

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to meet you to commemorate the fourth centenary of the death of Fr Matteo Ricci, SJ. I offer a fraternal greeting to Bishop Claudio Giuliodori of Macerata-Tolentino-Recanati-Cingoli-Treia, who is leading this numerous pilgrimage.

With him, I greet my Brother Bishops of the Episcopal Conference of the Marches and their respective Dioceses, the Civil, Military and Academic Authorities; the priests, seminarians and students, as well as the Pueri Cantores.

Macerata is proud of such an illustrious citizen, a religious and a priest! I greet the Members of the Society of Jesus to whom Fr Ricci belonged and in particular Fr Adolfo Nicolás, Superior General, the Jesuits' friends and collaborators and the educational institutes connected with them. A thought also goes to all the Chinese.

This great missionary a true protagonist of Gospel proclamation in China in the modern age, following the first evangelization there by Archbishop Giovanni da Montecorvino reached the end of his earthly life in Peking on 11 May 1610.

The extraordinary privilege he was granted, unthinkable for a foreigner, of being buried in Chinese soil is proof of the high esteem in which he was held, both in the Chinese capital and at the Imperial Court itself.

Today it is also possible to venerate his tomb in Peking, fittingly restored by the Local Authorities. The many initiatives promoted in Europe and in China in honour of Fr Ricci show the keen interest that his work continues to kindle in the Church and in the different cultural contexts.

The history of the Catholic missions includes figures important because of their zeal and courage in bringing Christ to new and distant lands; but Fr Ricci is a unique case of a felicitous synthesis between the proclamation of the Gospel and the dialogue with the culture of the people to whom he brought it; he is an example of balance between doctrinal clarity and prudent pastoral action. Not only his profound knowledge of the language but also his assumption of the lifestyle and customs of the cultured Chinese classes, the result of study and its patient, far-sighted implementation, ensured that Fr Ricci was accepted by the Chinese with respect and esteem, no longer as a foreigner but as the "Master of the Great West".

Among the important figures of Chinese history in the "Millennium Museum", Peking, only two foreigners are recorded: Marco Polo and Fr Matteo Ricci.

This missionary's work presents two dimensions that must not be separated: the Chinese inculturation of the Gospel proclamation and the presentation to China of Western culture and science. The scientific aspects often attracted greater interest but the perspective with which Fr Ricci entered into relations with the Chinese world and culture should not be forgotten. It consisted of a humanism that viewed the person as part of his context, cultivated his moral and spiritual values, retaining everything positive that is found in the Chinese tradition and offering to enrich it with the contribution of Western culture and, above all, with the wisdom and truth of Christ.

Fr Ricci did not go to China to take it the science and culture of the West but rather to bring to it the Gospel, to make God known.

He wrote: "For more than 20 years, every morning and every evening I have prayed with tears to Heaven. I know that the Lord of Heaven takes pity on living creatures and pardons them.... The truth about the Lord of Heaven is already in human hearts. But human beings do not immediately understand it and are not inclined to reflect on such a matter" (Il vero significato del "Signore del Cielo", [the true meaning of the "Lord of Heaven"], Rome 2006, pp. 69-70).

And it was precisely while he was proclaiming the Gospel that Fr Ricci discovered in those with whom he was conversing the request for a broader exchange, so that the encounter motivated by faith also became an intercultural dialogue; a disinterested dialogue, free from financial or political ambition and lived in friendship. This makes the work of Fr Ricci and his followers one of the loftiest and happiest peaks in the relationship between China and the West.

The "Treaty of Friendship" (1595), one of his first and best known works in Chinese, is eloquent in this regard. In Fr Ricci's thought and teaching science, reason and faith find a natural synthesis: "Anyone who knows Heaven and earth", he wrote in the preface to the third edition of the world map, "can prove that the One who rules Heaven and earth is absolutely good, absolutely great and absolutely one. The ignorant reject Heaven, but knowledge that does not relate back to the Emperor of Heaven as to the first cause is no knowledge at all".

However, admiration for Fr Ricci must not lead us to forget the role and influence of his Chinese conversation partners. The decisions he made did not depend on an abstract strategy of inculturation of the faith but rather on events as a whole, on the meetings and experiences that he continued to have, which is why what he was able to achieve was also thanks to his encounter with the Chinese.

He experienced this encounter in many ways but deepened it through his relationship with a few friends and followers, especially his four famous converts, "pillars of the nascent Chinese Church".

The first and most famous of them was Xu Guangqi, a native of Shanghai, a literary man and a scientist, mathematician, astronomer and agricultural expert who reached the highest ranks in the imperial bureaucracy, an integral man of great faith and Christian life, who was dedicated to serving his country and occupied an important place in the history of Chinese culture.

It was he, for example, who convinced and helped Fr Ricci to translate into Chinese Euclid's Elements, a fundamental work of geometry, and who persuaded the Emperor to entrust the reform of the Chinese calendar to Jesuit astronomers.

Li Zhizao, another of the Chinese scholars who converted to Christianity, likewise helped Fr Ricci in completing the last and most developed editions of the world map that were to give the Chinese a new image of the world.

He described Fr Ricci in these words: "I believed him to be a unique man because he lives in celibacy, steers clear of intrigue in his office, speaks little, has an orderly conduct and this is his daily practice he cultivates virtue secretly and serves God ceaselessly".

Thus it is right to associate with Fr Matteo Ricci his closest friends who shared with him the experience of faith.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the memory of these men of God dedicated to the Gospel and to the Church, their example of fidelity to Christ, their deep love for the Chinese people, their commitment of intelligence and study and their virtuous lives be an opportunity to pray for the Church in China and for the entire Chinese people, as we do every year, on 24 May, addressing Mary Most Holy, venerated in the famous Shrine of Sheshan in Shanghai; and may they also be an incentive and an encouragement to live the Christian faith intensely, in dialogue with the different cultures but in the certainty that in Christ true humanism is fulfilled, open to God, rich in moral and spiritual values and capable of responding to the deepest desires of the human soul.

Today I too, like Fr Matteo Ricci, express my profound esteem to the noble Chinese people and to their 1,000-old culture, in the conviction that a renewed encounter with Christianity will bear abundant fruits of good, just as it then fostered a peaceful coexistence among peoples. Many thanks.


On the Power of the Cross
"Taking up the Cross Means Committing Oneself to Defeating Sin"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2010 - Here is a translation of the public address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

This morning in St. Peter's Basilica I conferred the presbyteral order on 14 deacons of the Diocese of Rome. The sacrament of Holy Orders manifests, on God's part, his solicitous nearness to men and, on the part of him who receives, the complete availability to become the instrument of this nearness, with a radical love, to Christ and to the Church. In this Sunday's Gospel, the Lord asks his disciples: "But you, who do you say that I am?" (Luke 9:20). The Apostle Peter promptly answers this question: "You are the Christ, the Messiah of God" (Luke 9:20), thus going beyond all the earthly opinions that held Jesus to be one of the prophets. According to St. Ambrose, with this profession of faith, Peter "embraced everything together, because he expressed the nature and the name" of the Messiah (Exp. in Lucam VI, 93, CCL 14, 207). And Jesus, before this profession of faith, renews to Peter and the other disciples the invitation to follow him on the demanding road of love to the cross. To us too, who can know the Lord through faith in his Word and in the sacraments, Jesus makes the proposal to follow him every day and also reminds us that to be his disciples it is necessary to appropriate the power of the cross, the highest of our goods and the crown of our hope.

St. Maximus the Confessor observes that "the distinct sign of the power of our Lord Jesus Christ is the cross that he carried on his back" ("Ambiguum" 32, PG91, 1284 C). In fact, "[the Lord] said to everyone: 'If someone wants to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me" (Luke 9:23). Taking up the cross means committing oneself to defeating sin, which blocks the way to God, accepting the Lord's will every day, making faith grow above all in the face of problems, difficulties, suffering. The holy Carmelite Edith Stein testified to this in a time of persecution. Thus she wrote at the Carmel of Cologne in 1938: "Today I understand ... what it means to be the bride of Christ in the sign of the cross, even though I will never completely comprehend it since it is a mystery ... The more that gloom surrounds us, the more we must open our heart to the light that comes from on high" ("La scelta di Dio. Lettere (1917-1942)," Roma 1973, 132-133). Even today there are many Christians in the world who, animated by God, assume the cross every day, whether it be daily trials, whether it be that procured by human barbarity, which sometimes requires the courage of the supreme sacrifice. May the Lord grant everyone of us always to place our firm hope in him, certain that, following him carrying our cross, we will reach the light of the Resurrection with him.

Let us entrust to the maternal care of the Virgin Mary the new priests ordained today, who join the ranks of those the Lord has called by name: May they always be faithful disciples, courageous proclaimers of the Word of God and administrators of the gifts of salvation.

[After the Angelus the Holy Father addressed the faithful in various languages. In Italian he said:]

I would like to make an urgent appeal that peace and security soon be reestablished in southern Kyrgyzstan after the grave clashes that have taken place in recent days. To the families of the victims and those who suffer because of this tragedy I express my heartfelt nearness and assurance of my prayers. I invite, furthermore, all the ethnic groups of the country to renounce all violence or provocation and I ask the international community to see that humanitarian aid may quickly reach the stricken populations.

Today the United Nations celebrates World Refugee Day, to recall attention to the problems of those who have been forced out of their own land and familiar customs, traveling to environments that, often, are profoundly different. Refugees desire to find welcome and to be recognized in their dignity and their fundamental rights; at the same time they intend to offer their contribution to the society that welcomes them. Let us pray that, in a just reciprocity, there be a response adequate to such expectations and they show the respect that they have for the identity of the community that receives them.

[The Holy Father said in English:]

I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at this Angelus prayer. In today's Gospel Jesus calls us to carry our cross in union with him. May we always give ourselves to him and thus discover anew the joy that he promises to those who follow him. Upon you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Homily for Rome Diocesan Ordinations
"This Is the Sure Road to Find True Joy"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 20, 2010- Here is the translation of a homily given today by Benedict XVI at a Mass in St. Peter's Basilica for the priestly ordination of 14 deacons of the Diocese of Rome.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Ordinands,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

As bishop of this diocese I am particularly delighted to welcome into the "presbyterium" 14 new priests. Together with the cardinal vicar, the auxiliary bishops and all the presbyters thank the Lord for the gift of these new pastors of the People of God. I would like to address a particular greeting to you, dear ordinands: today you are at the center of the attention of the People of God, a people symbolically represented by the people who fill this Vatican Basilica. They fill it with prayer and songs, with sincere and deep affection, with authentic emotion, with human and spiritual joy. Among this People of God, there is a special place occupied by your parents and relatives, friends and companions, superiors and seminary educators, the various parish communities and the different realities of the Church from which you come and who have accompanied you on your journey and those whom you yourselves have already served pastorally. But we do not forget the singular closeness in this moment of many [other] people, humble and simple but great before God, such as, for example, the cloistered, children, the sick and infirm. They accompany you with the precious gift of their prayers, their innocence and their suffering.

It is, therefore, the entire Church of Rome, that today gives thanks to God and prays for you, that puts so much faith and hope in your tomorrow, that awaits abundant fruits of holiness and goodness from your priestly ministry. Yes, the Church counts on you. It counts very much on you! The Church needs each one of you, aware as it is of the gifts that God offers you and, together with the absolute need in the heart of every man to meet with Christ, the one and only universal Savior of the world, to receive from him the new and eternal life, true freedom and perfect joy. Thus each of us feels invited to enter into the "mystery," into the event of grace that is taking place in your hearts with presbyteral Ordination, letting ourselves be enlightened by the Word of God that has been proclaimed.

The Gospel that we have heard presents to us a significant moment in the journey of Jesus in which he asks his disciples what people think of him and how they themselves judge him. Peter replies in the name of the 12 with a confession of faith, which differs in a substantial way from the view that people have of Jesus; he affirms in fact: You are the Christ of God (cf. Luke 9:20). Whence is this act of faith born? If we go to the beginning of the Gospel passage, we note that Peter's confession is tied to a moment of prayer: "Jesus was in a solitary place to pray. The disciples were with him," says St. Luke (9:18). The disciples, thus, become involved in Jesus' absolutely unique being and speaking with the Father. And in that way they are permitted to see the Master in the depths of his condition as Son. They are permitted to see what others do not see; by "being with him," by "staying with" him in prayer, there comes a knowledge that goes beyond the opinions of the people to reach the profound identity of Jesus, to reach the truth. Here we are furnished with a very precise pointer for the life and mission of the priest: in prayer he is called to rediscover the ever new face of his Lord and always the most authentic content of his mission. Only he who has an intimate relationship with the Lord is drawn by him, can bring him to others, can be sent. This is an "abiding with him" that must always accompany the exercise of priestly ministry; it must be the central part of it, also and above all in difficult moments when it seems that "having things to do" must take priority. Wherever we are, whatever we do, we must always "abide with him."

There is a second element I wish to highlight in today's Gospel. Immediately after Peter's confession, Jesus announces his passion and resurrection and follows this announcement with a teaching regarding the path of his disciples, which is a following of him, the Crucified, on the road of the cross. And he then adds -- with a paradoxical expression -- that being a disciple means "losing oneself," but in order to fully find oneself again (cf. Luke 9:22-24). What does this mean for every Christian, but especially what does it mean for a priest? Discipleship, but we can safely say: the priesthood can never be a way to achieve security in life or to gain a social position. He who aspires to the priesthood to enhance his own personal prestige and power has misunderstood the meaning of this ministry at its root. He who wants above all to realize an ambition of his own, to achieve a personal success, will always be a slave to himself and public opinion. To be considered, he will have to flatter; he must say what the people want to hear, he must adapt himself to changing fashions and opinions and, thus, he will deprive himself of the vital relationship with the truth, reducing himself to condemning tomorrow what he praises today. A man who plans his life like this, a priest who sees his ministry in these terms, does not truly love God and others, but only himself and, paradoxically, ends up losing himself. The priesthood -- let us always remember -- rests on the courage to say yes to another will, in the awareness, to be cultivated every day, that conforming ourselves to the will of God, being "immersed" in this will, not only does not erase our originality, but, on the contrary, we will enter more and more into the truth of our being and our ministry.

Dear Ordinands, I would like propose for your reflection a third point, closely connected to the one just expounded: Jesus' invitation to "lose yourself," to take up the cross, recalls the mystery we are celebrating: the Eucharist. You are granted today, with the sacrament of Holy Orders, to preside at the Eucharist! You are entrusted with the redemptive sacrifice of Christ, you are entrusted with his body that is given and his blood that is shed. Of course, Jesus offers his sacrifice, his humble and total gift of love, to the Church his Bride, on the cross. It was on that wood, that the Father dropped a grain of wheat in the field of the world so that dying it would become mature fruit, the giver of life. But, in God's plan, this gift of Christ is made present in the Eucharist thanks to that "potestas sacra" that the sacrament of Orders confers on you presbyters. When we celebrate Holy Mass we hold in our hands the Bread of Heaven, the Bread of God, which is Christ, the grain broken to multiply and become the true food of life for the world. It is something that cannot but fill you with intimate wonder, lively joy and immense gratitude: Now the love and gift of Christ crucified and glorious, pass through your hands, your voice, your heart! It is an ever new experience of wonder to see that in my hands, in my voice the Lord accomplishes this mystery of his presence!

How can we not now beg the Lord that he grant you an ever vigilant awareness of this gift, which is at the center of your being priests! And that he may give you the grace to know how to experience in depth all the beauty and strength of this your presbyteral service and, at the same time, the grace to be able to live this ministry with consistency and generosity every day. The grace of the presbyterate, that soon you will be granted, will connect you intimately, even structurally, to the Eucharist. For this, it will connect you in the depths of your heart with the sentiments of Jesus who loves to the end, to the total gift of self, to his being bread multiplied for the holy feast of unity and communion. It is this is the Pentecostal outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that is destined to enflame your soul with the love itself of the Lord Jesus. It is an outpouring that, while telling of the absolute gratuity of the gift, carves into your being an indelible law -- the new law, a law that moves you to insert and make flourish in the concrete fabric of the attitudes and gestures of your everyday life the donating love itself of Christ crucified. Let us listen again to the voice of the Apostle Paul. Indeed in this voice we recognize the powerful voice of the Holy Spirit: "You who were baptized into Christ are clothed in Christ" (Galatians 3:27). Already with Baptism, and now in virtue of the sacrament of Orders, you clothe yourselves in Christ. May care for the Eucharist always be accompanied by the commitment to a Eucharistic life lived in obedience to one single great law: that of love that gives itself entirely and serves with humility, a life that the grace of the Holy Spirit renders ever more like that of Christ Jesus, the Eternal High Priest, servant of God and men.

Dear friends, the road that today's Gospel indicates to us is the road of your spirituality and your pastoral action, of its effectiveness and incisiveness, even in the most strenuous and arid situations. Moreover, this is the sure road to find true joy. May Mary, the handmaid of the Lord, who conformed her will to the will of God, who gave birth to Christ, giving him to the world, who followed the Son to the foot of the cross in the supreme act of love, accompany every day in your life and of your ministry. Thanks to the affection of this Mother, tender and strong, you can be joyfully faithful to that which is given to you today as presbyters: conformity to Christ the Priest, who knew how to obey the will of the Father and love man to the end.



Papal Address at Rome's Diocesan Conference
"The Sunday Eucharist Is the Testimony of Charity"

ROME, JUNE 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday at the inauguration of the ecclesial convention of the Diocese of Rome, held in the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

The theme of the three-day convention, which ends today, is "'If They Opened Their Eyes, They Would Recognize Him and Proclaim Him.' The Sunday Eucharist Is the Testimony of Charity"

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Psalm says: "Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). It really is like this: it is a profound motive of joy for me to meet again with you and share the great good that the parishes and the other ecclesial realities of Rome have realized in this pastoral year. I greet with fraternal affection the cardinal vicar and I thank him for the courteous words he addressed to me and for the diligence he dedicates daily to the governance of the diocese, in supporting priests and the parish communities. I greet the auxiliary bishops, the entire presbyterate and each one of you. I address a cordial thought to all those who are sick and in particular difficulties, assuring them of my prayer.

As Cardinal Vallini recalled, we are engaged, since last year, in the verification of ordinary pastoral care. This evening we will reflect on two points of primary importance: "Sunday Eucharist and Testimony of Charity." I am aware of the great work that the parishes, the associations and the movements have realized, through meetings of formation and encounter, to deepen and live better these two fundamental components of the life and the mission of the Church and of every individual believer. This has also fostered that pastoral responsibility that, in the diversity of ministries and charisms, must be diffused ever more if we really want the Gospel to reach the heart of every inhabitant of Rome. So much has been done, and we thank the Lord; but still much remains to be done, always with his help.

Faith can never be presupposed, because every generation needs to receive this gift through the proclamation of the Gospel and to know the truth that Christ has revealed to us. The Church, therefore, is always engaged in proposing to all the deposit of the faith; contained in it also is the doctrine on the Eucharist -- central mystery in which "is enclosed all the spiritual good of the Church, namely, Christ himself, our Pasch" ("Presbyterorum Ordinis," No. 5) -- doctrine that today, unfortunately, is not sufficiently understood in its profound value and in its relevance for the existence of believers. Because of this, it is important that a more profound knowledge of the mystery of the Body and Blood of the Lord be seen as an exigency of the different communities of our diocese of Rome. At the same time, in the missionary spirit that we wish to nourish, it is necessary to spread the commitment to proclaim such Eucharistic faith, so that every man will encounter Jesus Christ who has revealed the "close" God, friend of humanity, and to witness it with an eloquent life of charity.

In all his public life, through the preaching of the Gospel and miraculous signs, Jesus proclaimed the goodness and mercy of the Father towards man. This mission reached its culmination on Golgotha, where the crucified Christ revealed the face of God, so that man, contemplating the Cross, be able to recognize the fullness of love (cf. Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est," No. 12). The sacrifice of Calvary is mysteriously anticipated in the Last Supper, when Jesus, sharing with the Twelve the bread and wine, transforms them into his body and his blood, which shortly after he would offer as immolated Lamb. The Eucharist is the memorial of the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, of his love to the end for each one of us, memorial that He willed to entrust to the Church so that it would be celebrated throughout the centuries. According to the meaning of the Hebrew word "zakar," the "memorial" is not simply the memory of something that happened in the past, but a celebration which actualizes that event, so as to reproduce its salvific force and efficacy. Thus, "the sacrifice that Christ offered to the Father, once and for all, on the Cross in favor of humanity, is rendered present and actual" (Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 280). Dear brothers and sisters, in our time the word sacrifice is not liked, rather it seems to belong to other times and to another way of understanding life. However, properly understood, it is and remains fundamental, because it reveals to us with what love God loves us in Christ.

In the offering that Jesus makes of himself we find all the novelty of Christian worship. In ancient times men offered in sacrifice to the divinity the animals or first fruits of the earth. Jesus, instead, offers himself, his body and his whole existence: He himself in person becomes the sacrifice that the liturgy offers in the Holy Mass. In fact, with the consecration of the bread and wine they become his true body and blood. Saint Augustine invited his faithful not to pause on what appeared to their sight, but to go beyond: "Recognize in the bread -- he said -- that same body that hung on the cross, and in the chalice that same blood that gushed from his side" (Disc. 228 B, 2). To explain this transformation, theology has coined the word "transubstantiation," word that resounded for the first time in this Basilica during the IV Lateran Council, of which in five years will be the 8th centenary. On that occasion the following expressions were inserted in the profession of faith: "his body and his blood are truly contained in the sacrament of the altar, under the species of bread and wine, because the bread is transubstantiated into the body, and the wine into the blood by divine power" (DS, 802). Therefore, it is essential to stress, in the itineraries of education of children in the faith, of adolescents and of young people, as well as in "centers of listening" to the Word of God, that in the sacrament of the Eucharist Christ is truly, really and substantially present.

The Holy Mass, celebrated in the respect of the liturgical norms and with a fitting appreciation of the richness of the signs and gestures, fosters and promotes the growth of Eucharistic faith. In the Eucharistic celebration we do not invent something, but we enter into a reality that precedes us, more than that, which embraces heaven and earth and, hence, also the past, the future and the present. This universal openness, this encounter with all the sons and daughters of God is the grandeur of the Eucharist: we go to meet the reality of God present in the body and blood of the Risen One among us. Hence, the liturgical prescriptions dictated by the Church are not external things, but express concretely this reality of the revelation of the body and blood of Christ and thus the prayer reveals the faith according to the ancient principle "lex orandi - lex credendi." And because of this we can say "the best catechesis on the Eucharist is the Eucharist itself well celebrated" (Benedict XVI, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 64). It is necessary that in the liturgy the transcendent dimension emerge with clarity, that of the mystery, of the encounter with the Divine, which also illumines and elevates the "horizontal," that is the bond of communion and of solidarity that exists between all those who belong to the Church. In fact, when the latter prevails, the beauty, profundity and importance of the mystery celebrated is fully understood. Dear brothers in the priesthood, to you the bishop has entrusted, on the day of your priestly Ordination, the task to preside over the Eucharist. Always have at heart the exercise of this mission: celebrate the divine mysteries with intense interior participation, so that the men and women of our City can be sanctified, put into contact with God, absolute truth and eternal love.

And let us also keep present that the Eucharist, joined to the cross and resurrection of the Lord, has dictated a new structure to our time. The Risen One was manifested the day after Saturday, the first day of the week, day of the sun and of creation. From the beginning Christians have celebrated their encounter with the Risen One, the Eucharist, on this first day, on this new day of the true sun of history, the Risen Christ. And thus time always begins again with the encounter with the Risen One and this encounter gives content and strength to everyday life. Because of this, it is very important for us Christians, to follow this new rhythm of time, to meet with the Risen One on Sunday and thus "to take" with us his presence, which transforms us and transforms our time. Moreover, I invite all to rediscover the fecundity of Eucharistic adoration: before the Most Holy sacrament we experience in an altogether particular way that "abiding" of Jesus, which He himself, in the Gospel of John, posits as necessary condition to bear much fruit (cf. John 15:5) and to avoid our apostolic action being reduced to sterile activism, but that instead it be testimony of the love of God.

Communion with Christ is always communion also with his body, which is the Church, as the Apostle Paul reminds, saying: "The bread which we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread" (1 Corinthians:16-17). It is, in fact, the Eucharist that transforms a simple group of persons into ecclesial community: the Eucharist makes the Church. Therefore, it is fundamental that the celebration of the Holy Mass be effectively the culmination, the "bearing structure" of the life of every parish community.

I exhort all to take better care, also through apposite liturgical groups, of the preparation and celebration of the Eucharist, so that all who participate can encounter the Lord. It is the Risen Christ, who renders himself present in our today and gathers us around himself. Feeding on Him we are freed from the bonds of individualism and, through communion with Him, we ourselves become, together, one thing, his mystical Body. Thus the differences are surmounted due to profession, to class, to nationality so that we discover ourselves members of one great family, that of the children of God, in which to each is given a particular grace for common usefulness. The world and men do not have need of a another social aggregation, but have need of the Church, which is in Christ as a sacrament, "which is sign and instrument of the profound union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" ("Lumen Gentium," No. 1), called to make the light of the Risen Lord shine on all people.

Jesus came to reveal to us the love of the Father, because "man cannot live without love" (John Paul II, "Redemptoris Hominis," No. 10). Love is, in fact, the fundamental experience of every human being, what has given meaning to daily living. Nourished by the Eucharist we also, following the example of Christ, live for Him, to be witnesses of love. Receiving the Sacrament, we enter into communion of blood with Jesus Christ. In the Hebrew conception, blood indicates life; thus we can say that being nourished by the Body of Christ we receive the life of God and learn to look at reality with his eyes, abandoning the logic of the world to follow the divine logic of gift and gratuitousness.

St. Augustine recalls that during a vision he thought he heard the voice of the Lord who said to him: "I am the nourishment of adults. Grow up, and you will eat me, without, because of this, my being transformed into you, as the nutriment of your flesh; but you are transformed into me" (cf. Confessions VII, 10, 16). When we receive Christ, the love of God expands in our innermost self, modifies our heart radically and makes us capable of gestures that, by the expansive force of good, can transform the life of those that are next to us. Charity is able to generate an authentic and permanent change of society, acting in the hearts and minds of men, and when it is lived in truth "it is the principal propelling force for the true development of every person and of the whole of humanity" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 1). For the disciples of Jesus, the testimony of charity is not a passing sentiment, but on the contrary it is what molds life in every circumstance. I encourage all, in particular the Caritas and Deacons, to be committed in the delicate and essential field of education to charity, as permanent dimension of personal and community life.

This City of ours asks of Christ's disciples, with a renewed proclamation of the Gospel, a clearer and more limpid testimony of charity. It is with the language of love, desirous of the integral good of man, that the Church speaks to the inhabitants of Rome. In these years of my ministry as your Bishop, I have been able to visit several places where charity is lived intensely. I am grateful to all those who are engaged in the different charitable structures, for the dedication and generosity with which they serve the poor and the marginalized. The needs and poverty of so many men and women interpellate us profoundly: it is Christ himself who every day, in the poor, asks us to assuage his hunger and thirst, to visit him in hospitals and prisons, to accept and dress him. A celebrated Eucharist imposes on us and at the same time renders us capable of becoming, in our turn, bread broken for brothers, coming to meet their needs and giving ourselves. Because of this, a Eucharistic celebration that does not lead to meet men where they live, work and suffer, to take to them the love of God, does not manifest the love it encloses. To be faithful to the mystery that is celebrated on the altars we must, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us, offer our bodies, ourselves, in spiritual sacrifice pleasing to God (cf. Romans 12:1) in those circumstances that require dying to our I and constitute our daily "altar." Gestures of sharing create communion, renew the fabric of interpersonal relations, marking them with gratuitousness and gift, and allowing for the construction of the civilization of love. In a time such as the present of economic and social crisis, let us be in solidarity with those who live in indigence to offer all the hope of a better tomorrow worthy of man. If we really live as disciples of the God-Charity, we will help the inhabitants of Rome to discover themselves brothers and children of the one Father.

The very nature of love requires definitive and irrevocable choices of life. I turn to you in particular, dearly beloved young people: do not be afraid to choose love as the supreme rule of life. Do not be afraid to love Christ in the priesthood and, if you perceive in your heart the call of the Lord, follow him in this extraordinary adventure of love, abandon yourselves with trust to him! Do not be afraid to form Christian families that live faithful, indissoluble love open to life! Give witness that love, as Christ lived it and as the magisterium of the Church teaches, does not take anything away from our happiness, but on the contrary it gives that profound joy that Christ promised to his disciples.

May the Virgin Mary accompany the path of our Church of Rome with her maternal intercession. Mary, who in an altogether singular way lived communion with God and the sacrifice of her own Son on Calvary, enable us to live ever more intensely, piously and consciously the mystery of the Eucharist, to proclaim with the word and life the love that God has for every man. Dear friends, I assure you of my prayer and impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing to you all. Thank you.


On Aquinas, Philosophy and Theology
Faith "Protects Reason From Every Temptation to Mistrust Its Own Capacities"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 16, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Today I would like to continue a presentation of St. Thomas Aquinas, a theologian of such value that the study of his thought was explicitly recommended by the Second Vatican Council in two documents, the decree "Optatam Totius," on formation for the priesthood, and the declaration "Gravissimum Educationis," which deals with Christian education. However, already in 1880, Pope Leo XIII, who greatly esteemed [Thomas] and was a promoter of Thomistic studies, wished to declare St. Thomas the patron of Catholic schools and universities.

The main reason for this appreciation lies not only in the content of his teaching, but also in the method he used, above all his new synthesis and distinction between philosophy and theology. The Fathers of the Church had found themselves faced with different philosophies of a Platonic type, in which a complete vision of the world and of life was presented, including the question of God and of religion. In confronting these philosophies, they themselves elaborated a complete vision of reality, starting from the faith and using elements of Platonism, to respond to the essential questions of man. They called this vision, based on biblical revelation and elaborated with a correct Platonism in the light of faith, "our philosophy." The word "philosophy" was not, therefore, the expression of a purely rational system and, as such, different from faith, but it indicated a comprehensive vision of reality, constructed in the light of faith, but made by and thought out by reason; a vision that, it is true, went beyond the capacity proper to reason, but that, as such, was also satisfying for it.

For St. Thomas the encounter with the pre-Christian philosophy of Aristotle (who died around 322 B.C.) opened a new perspective. Aristotelian philosophy was, obviously, a philosophy elaborated without knowledge of the Old and the New Testament, an explanation of the world without Revelation, by reason alone. And this consistent rationality was convincing. Thus the old form of the Fathers' "our philosophy" no longer worked. The relationship between philosophy and theology, between faith and reason, had to be thought out again.

There existed a complete and convincing "philosophy" in itself, a rationality preceding faith, and then "theology," thinking with the faith and in the faith. The pressing question was this: Are the world of rationality, philosophy thought out without Christ, and the world of faith compatible? Or do they exclude one another?

There was no lack of elements that affirmed the incompatibility between the two worlds, but St. Thomas was firmly convinced of their compatibility -- more than that, that a philosophy elaborated without the knowledge of Christ almost awaited the light of Jesus to be complete. This was the great "surprise" of St. Thomas, which determined his path as a thinker. To show this independence of philosophy and theology and, at the same time, their reciprocal rationality was the historic mission of the great teacher. And thus we can understand why, in the 19th century, when an incompatibility between modern reason and faith was forcefully declared, Pope Leo XIII indicated St. Thomas as the guide in the dialogue between the one and the other.

In his theological work, St. Thomas presupposes and makes concrete this rationality. Faith consolidates, integrates and enlightens the patrimony of truth that human reason acquires. The trust that St. Thomas accords to these two instruments of knowledge -- faith and reason -- can lead back to the conviction that both proceed from the one source of all truth, the divine Logos, which operates both in the realm of creation as well as in that of redemption.

Together with the agreement between reason and faith, it must be acknowledged that they make use of different cognitive procedures. Reason accepts a truth on the strength of its intrinsic evidence, indirect or immediate; faith, instead, accepts a truth based on the authority of the Word of God who reveals himself. At the beginning of his Summa Theologiae St. Thomas writes: "The order of the sciences is twofold; some proceed from principles known through the natural light of reason, such as mathematics, geometry and similar ones; others proceed from principles known through a higher science: as perspective proceeds from principles known through geometry and music from principles known through mathematics. And in this way the sacred doctrine (namely, theology) is a science because it proceeds from principles known through the light of a higher science, namely, the science of God and of the saints" (I, q. 1, a. 2).

This distinction ensures the autonomy both of human sciences as well as of the theological sciences. However, this is not the equivalent of separation, but implies rather a reciprocal and advantageous collaboration. Faith, in fact, protects reason from every temptation to mistrust its own capacities, it stimulates it to open to ever more vast horizons, it keeps alive in it the search for foundations and, when reason itself applies itself to the supernatural sphere of the relationship between God and man, it enriches its work. According to St. Thomas, for example, human reason can without a doubt attain to the affirmation of the existence of one God, but only faith, which receives divine Revelation, is able to attain to the mystery of the Love of God, One and Triune.

On the other hand, it is not only faith that helps reason. Reason also, with its means, can do something important for faith, rendering it a threefold service that St. Thomas summarizes in the preface of his commentary to Boethius' De Trinitate: "To demonstrate the foundations of the faith; to explain through similarities the truth of the faith; to refute the objections that are raised against the faith" (q. 2, a. 2). The whole history of theology is, fundamentally, the exercise of this effort from the intelligence, which shows the intelligibility of faith, its internal articulation and harmony, its reasonableness and its capacity to promote the good of man. The correction of theological reasoning and its real cognitive meaning is based on the value of theological language, which is, according to St. Thomas, primarily an analogical language. The distance between God, the Creator, and the being of his creatures is infinite; the dissimilarity is always greater than the similarity (cf. DC 806). Despite this, in all the difference between Creator and creature, there is an analogy between created being and the being of the Creator, which enables us to speak with human words about God.

St. Thomas based the doctrine of analogy, as well as his exquisitely philosophical arguments, also on the fact that with Revelation, God himself has spoken to us and has, therefore, authorized us to speak of him. I consider it important to recall this doctrine. In fact, it helps us to surmount some objections of contemporary atheism, which denies that religious language is equipped with an objective meaning, and maintains instead that it has only a subjective or simply emotional value. This objection results from the fact that positivist thought is convinced that man does not know being, but only the functions of reality that are experienced. With St. Thomas and with the great philosophical tradition, we are convinced that, in reality, man does not only know the functions, object of the natural sciences, but he knows something of being itself -- for example he knows the person, the you of the other, and not only the physical or biological aspect of his being.

In the light of this teaching of St. Thomas, theology affirms that, though limited, religious language is equipped with meaning -- because we touch being -- as an arrow directed toward the reality it signifies. This fundamental agreement between human reason and Christian faith is recognized in another basic principle of Aquinas' thought: divine grace does not annul but supposes and perfects human nature. Human nature, in fact, even after sin, is not completely corrupt, but wounded and weakened. Grace, lavished by God and communicated through the Mystery of the Incarnate Word, is an absolutely free gift with which nature is healed, strengthened and aided in the pursuit of happiness, the innate desire in the heart of every man and every woman. All the faculties of the human being are purified, transformed and elevated by divine grace.

An important application of this relation between nature and grace is recognized in the moral theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, which is very timely. At the center of his teaching in this field, he puts the new law, which is the law of the Holy Spirit. With a profoundly evangelical focus, he insists on the fact that this law is the grace of the Holy Spirit given to all those who believe in Christ. To such grace is joined the written and oral teaching of the doctrinal and moral truths, transmitted by the Church. Stressing the fundamental role in moral life of the Holy Spirit's action, of grace, from which the theological and moral virtues flow, St. Thomas makes one understand that every Christian can attain the lofty prospects of the "Sermon on the Mount" if he lives an authentic relationship of faith in Christ, if he opens himself to the action of his Holy Spirit. However -- Aquinas adds -- "even if grace is more effective than nature, still nature is more essential for man" (Summa Theologiae, Ia, q, 29, a. 3), due to which, in the Christian moral perspective, there is a place for reason, which is capable of discerning the natural moral law. Reason can recognize [this law] considering what is good to do and what is good to avoid to obtain that happiness which is in each one's heart, and which also imposes a responsibility toward others and, hence, the search for the common good. In other words, the virtues of man, theological and moral, are rooted in human nature. Divine grace supports, sustains and drives the ethical commitment but, on their own, according to St. Thomas, all men, believers and non-believers, are called to recognize the exigencies of human nature expressed in natural law and to be inspired in it in the formulation of positive laws, that is, those issuing from the civil and political authorities to regulate human coexistence.

When the natural law and the responsibility it implies are denied, the way is opened dramatically to ethical relativism on the individual plane and to the totalitarianism of the state on the political plane. The defense of man's universal rights and the affirmation of the absolute value of the dignity of the person postulate a foundation. Is not the natural law precisely this foundation, with the non-negotiable values that it indicates? The Venerable John Paul II wrote in his encyclical "Evangelium Vitae" words that remain very timely: "It is therefore urgently necessary, for the future of society and the development of a sound democracy, to rediscover those essential and innate human and moral values which flow from the very truth of the human being and express and safeguard the dignity of the person: values which no individual, no majority and no State can ever create, modify or destroy, but must only acknowledge, respect and promote" (No. 71).

In conclusion, Thomas proposes to us a broad and trustworthy concept of human reason: broad because it is not limited to the spaces of the so-called empirical-scientific reason, but open to the whole being and hence also to the fundamental and inalienable questions of human living; and trustworthy because human reason, above all if it accepts the inspirations of the Christian faith, is a promoter of a civilization that recognizes the dignity of the person, the intangibility of his rights and the strength of his duties. It is not surprising that the doctrine about the dignity of the person, fundamental for the recognition of the inviolability of man's rights, matured in realms of thought that took up the legacy of St. Thomas Aquinas, who had a very lofty concept of the human creature. He defined it, with his rigorously philosophical language, as "that which is most perfect found in the whole of nature, that is a subsistent subject in a rational nature" (Summa Theologiae, Ia, q. 29, a. 3).

The profundity of St. Thomas Aquinas' thought stems -- let us never forget it -- from his lively faith and his fervent piety, which he expressed in inspired prayers, such as this one in which he asks God: "Grant me, I pray, a will that seeks you, a wisdom that finds you, a life that pleases you, a perseverance that waits for you with trust and a trust that in the end succeeds in possessing you."

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Continuing our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we turn to the teaching of Saint Thomas Aquinas, which the Church has consistently upheld as a model of sound theological method. Thomas' insistence on the harmony of faith and reason respected the autonomy and complementarity of these two ways of knowing the truth which has its ultimate origin in God's Word. Faith sheds fuller light on the truths which reason is naturally capable of knowing, while drawing from revelation a supernatural knowledge of the divine mysteries and the Triune God himself. Reason for its part serves to demonstrate faith's credibility, to defend its teaching, and to show its inner consistency and intelligibility. The complementary relationship between faith and reason reflects the truth that God's grace build on, elevates and perfects human nature, which is thus enabled to pursue the felicity which is its deepest desire. Thomas' conviction that we are naturally able to acknowledge the principles of the natural moral law remains timely, since that law, grounded in the truth of man's nature, is the basis of respect for human dignity and universal human rights. Saint Thomas is the patron of Catholic schools and universities; let us ask him to obtain for all of us the wisdom and understanding born of a deep and living Christian faith!

I am pleased to greet the English-speaking visitors present in today's audience, especially the many parish and student groups. I offer a warm welcome to all who have come from Hong Kong, Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Upon all of you I invoke God's blessings of joy and peace!

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

I greet, finally, young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people always draw from Christ present in the Eucharist the spiritual food to advance along the way of sanctity; for you, dear sick people, may Christ be the support and comfort in your trial and suffering; and for you, dear newlyweds, may the sacrament which has rooted you in Christ be the source that nourishes your daily love.

[Translation by ZENIT]


Pope's Q-and-A at End of Priestly Year
"The Priest Does Not Just Do a Job ... He Is a Man Impassioned for Christ"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 15, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the question-and-answer session with Benedict XVI and priests held Friday evening at the prayer vigil in St. Peter's Square on the occasion of the International Meeting of Priests promoted at the end of the Year for Priests.


Q: Most Blessed Father, I am Father Jose Eduardo Oliveira y Silva and I come from America, specifically from Brazil. The majority of us here present are involved in direct pastoral care in the parish, and not only with one community, but at times we are parish priests of more parishes, or of particularly extensive communities. With all good will we seek to meet the needs of a society that is very changed, no longer wholly Christian, but we are aware that our "doing" is not enough. How should we proceed, Holiness? In what direction?

R: Dear friends, first of all I would like to express my great joy because gathered here are priests from all parts of the world, in the joy of our vocation and our willingness to serve the Lord with all our strength in this, our time.

In regard to the question: I am well aware that today it is very difficult to be a parish priest, also and above all in countries of ancient Christianity; parishes become increasingly more extensive, pastoral unity ... it is impossible to know everyone, it is impossible to do all the works that are expected of a parish priest. And thus, we really ask ourselves how we should proceed, as you have said.

But I would like to say first of all: I know that there are so many parish priests in the world that give all their strength to evangelization, to have the presence of the Lord and of his sacraments, and to these I would like to say a big "thank you," at this time. I have said that it isn't possible to do all that one wishes to do, which perhaps should be done, because our strengths are limited and the situations are difficult in a society that is increasingly diversified, more complicated. Above all, I think it is important that the faithful can see that the priest does not just do a job, hours of work, and then is free and lives only for himself, but that he is a man impassioned for Christ, who bears in himself the fire of the love of Christ.

If the faithful see that he is full of the joy of the Lord, they also understand that he cannot do everything, they accept the limitations, and help the parish priest. This it seems to me is the most important point: that one be able to see and feel that the parish priest really feels himself called by the Lord; and is full of love of the Lord and of his own. If this is the case, one understands and can also see the impossibility of doing everything. Hence, the first condition is to be full of the joy of the Gospel with our whole being. Then choices must be made, priorities set, to see how much is possible and how much is impossible.

I would say that we know the three fundamental priorities: they are the three columns of our being priests. First, the Eucharist, the sacraments: to render the Eucharist possible and present, above all to offer Sunday Mass, in so far as possible, for all, and to celebrate it in a way that it really becomes the visible act of love of the Lord for us. Then, the proclamation of the Word in all the dimensions: from personal dialogue to the homily. The third point is "caritas," the love of Christ: to be present for the suffering, for the little ones, for children, for persons in difficulty, for the marginalized; to really render present the love of the Good Shepherd.

And then, a very important priority also is the personal relationship with Christ. In the Breviary, on Nov. 4, we read a beautiful text of St. Charles Borromeo, great pastor, who truly gave all of himself, and who says to us, to all priests: "Do not neglect your own soul: if your soul is neglected, you cannot even give to others what you should give them. Hence, also for yourself, for your soul, there must be time," or, in other words, the relationship with Christ, personal conversation with Christ is a fundamental pastoral priority, it is the condition of our work for others! And prayer is not something marginal: it is in fact the "profession" of the priest to pray, also as representative of the people who do not know how to pray and do not find the time to pray. Personal prayer, above all the Prayer of the Hours, is essential nourishment for our soul, for all our action.

And, finally, to recognize our limitations, to open ourselves also to this humility. Let us recall a scene of Mark, Chapter 6, where the disciples are "stressed," they want to do everything, and the Lord says: "Come away by yourselves to a lonely place, and rest a while" (cf. Mark 6:31). This also is work -- I would say -- pastoral work: to find and to have the humility, the courage to rest. Hence, I think that passion for the Lord, love of the Lord, shows us the priorities, the choices, helps us to find the way. The Lord will help us. Thank you all!

* * *


Q: Holiness, I am Mathias Agnero and I come from Africa, specifically from the Ivory Coast. You are a theologian-Pope, while we, when we succeed, barely read some book of theology for formation. It seems to us, however, that a break has been created between theology and doctrine and, even more so, between theology and spirituality. One feels the need that study not be wholly academic, but that it nourish our spirituality. We feel the need of it in the pastoral ministry itself.

At times, theology does not seem to have God at the center and Jesus Christ in the first "theological place," but there are instead diffuse tastes and tendencies; and the consequence is the proliferation of suggestive opinions that allow the introduction in the Church of non-Catholic thought. How can we not be disoriented in our life and in our ministry, when it is the world that judges the faith and not vice versa? We feel ourselves disoriented!

Benedict XVI: Thank you. You touch upon a very difficult and painful problem. There really is a theology that above all seeks to be academic, to appear scientific and forgets the vital reality, the presence of God, his presence among us, his speaking today, not only in the past. St. Bonaventure already distinguished two forms of theology in his time; he said: "There is a theology that comes from the arrogance of reason, which seeks to dominate everything, makes God pass from subject to object that we study, while he should be subject that speaks to us and guides us."

It is really this abuse of theology, which is arrogance of reason and does not nourish faith, but obscures the presence of God in the world. Then, there is a theology that seeks to know more out of love for the beloved, it is stimulated by love and guided by love, it seeks to know the loved one more. And this is true theology, which comes from love of God, of Christ, and seeks to enter more profoundly in communion with Christ. In reality, the temptations are great today; imposed above all is the so-called "modern vision of the world" (Bultmann, "moderns Weltbild"), which becomes the criterion of all that is possible or impossible. And thus, it is precisely with this criterion that everything is as always, that all historical events are of the same sort, excluded in fact is the novelty of the Gospel, the eruption of God is excluded, the true novelty which is the joy of our faith.

What should be done? I would say first of all to theologians: Have courage! And I would like to say a big thank you also to so many theologians who do a good job. There are abuses, we know it, but in all parts of the world there are so many theologians who truly live by the Word of God, nourish themselves by meditation, live the faith of the Church and wish to help so that the faith is present in our day. To these theologians I would like to say a big "thank you."

And I would say to theologians in general: "do not be afraid of this specter of scientific nature!" I follow the theology of '46; I began to study theology in January of '46 and hence I have seen almost three generations of theologians, and I can say: the theories that at that time, and then in the '60s and '80s, were the newest, absolutely scientific, absolutely almost dogmatic, in the meantime have grown old and are not longer of any value! Many of them seem almost ridiculous. Hence, one must have the courage to resist what is apparently of a scientific nature, not subject oneself to all the theories of the moment, but to really think from the great faith of the Church, which is present in all times and opens to us access to truth.

Above all, also, we must not think that positivist reason, which excludes the transcendent -- which cannot be accessible -- is true reason! This weak reason, which presents only things that can be experienced, is really an insufficient reason. We theologians must use the great reason, which is open to the grandeur of God. We must have the courage to go beyond positivism to the question of the roots of being. This seems to me to be of great importance. Hence, one must have the courage of the great, ample reason, have the humility not to subject oneself to all the theories of the moment, to live from the great faith of the Church of all times. There is no majority against the majority of the saints: the true majority are the saints of the Church and we must be oriented to the saints!

Then, to seminarians and priests I say the same thing: think that sacred Scripture is not an isolated book: it is living in the living community of the Church, which is the same subject in all centuries and guarantees the presence of the Word of God. The Lord has given us the Church as living subject, with the structure of bishops in communion with the Pope, and this great reality of bishops of the world in communion with the Pope guarantees to us the testimony of the permanent truth. Let us have trust in this permanent magisterium of the communion of bishops with the Pope, which represents for us the presence of the Word. And then, let us also have trust in the life of the Church and, above all, we must be critical.

Certainly theological formation -- I would like to say this to seminarians -- is very important. In our time we must know sacred Scripture well, also, in fact, against the attacks of sects; we must be really friends of the Word. We must also know the currents of our time to be able to respond reasonably, to be able to give -- as St. Peter says -- "reason of our faith." Formation is very important. But we must also be critical: the criterion of the faith is also the criterion with which to see theologians and theologies. Pope John Paul II gave an absolutely sure criterion in the Catechism of the Catholic Church: Here we see the synthesis of our faith, and this Catechism is truly the criterion to see where there is an acceptable or not acceptable theology. Hence, I recommend reading, the study of this text, and thus we can go forward with a critical theology in the positive sense, that is, criticism against the tendencies in vogue and open to the true novelties, with the inexhaustible profundity of the Word of God, which reveals itself new in all times, also in our time.

* * *


Q: Holy Father, I am Karol Mikloski and I come from Europe, specifically from Slovakia, and I am a missionary in Russia. When I celebrate the Holy Mass, I find myself, and I understand that I find my identity there and the root and energy of my ministry. The sacrifice of the cross reveals to me the Good Shepherd who gives everything for the flock, for each sheep, and when I say: "This is by Body ... this is my Blood" given and shed in sacrifice for you, then I understand the beauty of celibacy and of obedience, which I freely promised at the moment of ordination.

Although with the natural difficulties, celibacy seems obvious to me, looking at Christ, but I find myself bewildered in reading so many worldly criticisms of this gift. I ask you humbly, Holy Father, to share with us your reflections on the profundity and authentic meaning of ecclesiastical celibacy.

Benedict XVI: Thank you for the two parts of your question: for the first, where you touch upon the permanent and vital foundation of our celibacy, and for the second, which demonstrates the difficulties in which we find ourselves in these times.

The first part is important as the daily celebration of the Holy Eucharist should truly be at the center of our lives. Central here are the words of the consecration -- "This is my Body, this is my Blood" -- in that we speak "in persona Christi." Christ allows us to use his "I" -- we speak with the "I" of Christ -- Christ "draws us into himself" and allows us to unite ourselves, he unites us with his "I." And thus, through this action, this fact that he "draws" us into himself, so that our "I" becomes united to his, realizes the permanence, the oneness of his priesthood. Thus Christ is truly and always the only priest, and yet very present in the world, because he "draws" us into himself and thus renders present the priestly mission.

This means that we are "drawn" into the God of Christ: It is this union with his "I" that is realized in the words of consecration. Also in the "I absolve you" -- because none of us could absolve from sins -- it is the "I" of Christ, of God, which alone can absolve. This unification of his "I" with ours implies that we are "drawn" also into his reality of the Risen One, we go forward toward the full life of the resurrection, of which Jesus speaks to the Sadducees in Matthew 22: it is a "new" life, in which we are already beyond marriage (cf. Matthew 22:23-32).

It is important that we always allow ourselves to be penetrated again by this identification of the "I" of Christ with us, by this being "drawn outside" toward the world of the Resurrection. In this sense, celibacy is an anticipation. We transcend this time and go forward, and thus we "draw" ourselves and our time toward the world of the Resurrection, toward the novelty of Christ, toward the new and true life. Hence, celibacy is an anticipation made possible by the grace of the Lord who "draws" us to himself toward the world of the resurrection; he invites us always anew to transcend ourselves, this present, toward the true present of the future, which becomes present today.

And here we are at a very important point. A great problem of Christianity in today's world is that thought is no longer given to the future of God: the present of this world seems to be enough. We only want to have this world, to live only in this world. Thus we close the doors to the true grandeur of our existence. The meaning of celibacy as anticipation of the future is precisely to open these doors, to render the world greater, to show the reality of the future that is already lived by us as present. To live thus is a witness to the faith: We really believe that God is, that God enters my life, that I can base my life on Christ, on the future life.

And we now know the worldly criticisms of which you have spoken. It is true that for the agnostic world, the world in which God is not considered, celibacy is a great scandal, because it shows precisely that God is considered and lived as reality. With the eschatological life of celibacy, the future world of God enters in the reality of our time. And this should disappear! In a certain sense, this permanent criticism against celibacy can surprise, at a time when it is ever more fashionable not to marry. However, this not marrying is something totally, fundamentally different from celibacy, because not marrying is based on the will to live alone for oneself, not to accept a definitive bond, to have life at every moment in full autonomy, to decide at every moment what to do, what to take from life; and hence, a "no" to the bond, a "no" to definitiveness, a having life only for oneself. Whereas celibacy is precisely the opposite: it is a definitive "yes," it is letting oneself be taken by God by the hand, giving oneself into the hands of the Lord, into his "I," and hence it is an act of fidelity and trust, an act that implies also the fidelity of marriage; it is in fact the opposite of this "no," of this autonomy which does not wish to oblige itself, which does not want to enter a bond; it is in fact the definitive "yes" that implies, that confirms the definitive "yes" of marriage.

And this marriage is the biblical form, the natural form of being man and woman, foundation of the great Christian culture, of the great cultures of the world. And if this disappears, the root of our culture will be destroyed. That is why celibacy confirms the "yes" of marriage with its "yes" to the future world, and thus we wish to go forward and render present this scandal of a faith that places the whole of existence on God. We know that next to this great scandal, which the world does not wish to see, there are also the secondary scandals of our insufficiency, of our sins, which obscure the true and great scandal, and make one think: "But, they don't really live on the foundation of God!"

However, there is so much fidelity! Celibacy, the criticisms in fact show it, is a great sign of faith, of God's presence in the world. Let us pray to the Lord to help us to be free of the secondary scandals, to render present the great scandal of our faith: trust, the strength of our life, founded on God and on Christ Jesus!


Q: Holy Father, I am Atsushi Yamashita and I come from Asia, specifically from Japan. The priestly model Your Holiness proposed in this year, the Curé of Ars, sees at the center of existence and of the mystery of the Eucharist, a sacramental and personal penance and a love of worship worthily celebrated. I have before my eyes the signs of the austere poverty of St. John Vianney, together with his passion for the precious things of worship. How can we live these fundamental dimensions of our priestly existence, without falling into clericalism or into becoming extraneousness to reality, which the world today does not allow us?

R: Thank you. Hence, the question is how to live the centrality of the Eucharist without being lost in a purely devotional life, foreign to the everyday life of other persons. We know that clericalism has been a temptation of priests in all centuries, also today; hence, it is all the more important to find the true way of living the Eucharist, which is not a closing to the world, but in fact an opening to the needs of the world. We must have present the fact that in the Eucharist is realized this great drama of God who comes out of himself, he leaves -- as the Letter to the Philippians says -- his own glory, he comes out and comes down to be one of us and comes down to death on the Cross (cf. Philippians 2). The adventure of the love of God, who leaves, abandons himself to be with us -- this becomes present in the Eucharist; the great act, the great adventure of the love of God is the humility of God who gives himself to us.

In this sense, the Eucharist is to be considered as entering into this way of God. St. Augustine says, in De Civitate Dei, book X: "Hoc est sacrificium Christianorum: multi unum corpus in Christo," that is, the sacrifice of Christians is to be united by the love of Christ in the unity of the one body of Christ. Sacrifice consists precisely in coming out of ourselves, in allowing ourselves to be drawn into the communion of the one bread, of the one Body, and thus to enter into the great adventure of the love of God. Thus we should celebrate, live, meditate always on the Eucharist, as the school of liberation from my "I": to enter into the one bread, which is bread of all, which unites us in the one Body of Christ. Hence, the Eucharist is, in itself, an act of love, which obliges us to this reality of love for others: the sacrifice of Christ is the communion of all in his Body. Hence, we must learn the Eucharist in this way, which is, precisely, the opposite of clericalism, of being shut in on oneself.

Let us also think of Mother Teresa, truly the great example in this century, in this time, of a love which leaves itself, which leaves every type of clericalism, of extraneousness to the world, which goes to the most marginalized, to the poorest, to persons close to death and gives itself totally to love for the poor, for the marginalized. But Mother Teresa who has given us this example, the community that follows her footprints, always understood the presence of a tabernacle as the first condition of one of her foundations. Without the presence of the love of God who gives himself, it would not have been possible to realize that apostolate, it would not have been possible to live in that abandonment of oneself; only by inserting themselves in this abandonment of self in God, in this adventure of God, in this humility of God, were they able and are able to carry out today this great act of love, this openness to all. In this sense, I would say: to live the Eucharist in its original meaning, in its true profundity, is a school of life, it is the most sure protection against every temptation to clericalism.


Q: Most Holy Father, I am Anthony Denton and I come from Oceania, from Australia. Here, this evening, we are so many priests. We know, however, that our seminaries are not full and that, in the future, in several parts of the world, a drop is expected, even a sharp drop. What can be done that is truly effective for vocations? How can we propose our life, and that which is great and beautiful about it, to a youth of our time?

Benedict XVI: Thank you. Really you touch upon, again, a great and painful problem of our time: the lack of vocations, because of which local Churches are in danger of withering, as the Word of life is lacking, the presence of the sacrament of the Eucharist and of the other sacraments is lacking.

What to do? The temptation is great to take the matter into our own hands, to transform the priesthood -- the sacrament of Christ, being chosen by him -- into a normal profession, into a job that has its hours, and for the rest of the time one belongs to oneself, thus rendering it, as any other vocation, accessible and easy. But this is a temptation, which does not resolve the problem. It makes me think of the story of Saul, the king of Israel, who before the battle against the Philistines waits for Samuel for the necessary sacrifice to God. And when Samuel does not come at that very moment, he carries out the sacrifice himself, though he was not a priest (cf. 1 Samuel 13); he thus thinks of resolving the problem, which of course he does not resolve, because he takes into his own hands what he cannot do, he makes himself God, or almost so, and it cannot be expected that things will really go in God's way. Thus, we also, if we only carried out a profession like others, giving up the sacredness, the novelty, the difference of the sacrament that only God gives, which can only come from his vocation and not from our "doing," we won't resolve anything. So much more must we -- as the Lord invites us -- pray to God, knock at the door, at the heart of God, so that he will give us vocations; pray with great insistence, with great determination, with great conviction, also because God does not close himself to an insistent, permanent, trusting prayer, even if he lets one do, wait, like Saul, beyond the times that we had foreseen.

This, it seems to me, is the first point: to encourage the faithful to have this humility, this trust, this courage to pray with insistence for vocations, to knock at the heart of God so that he will give us priests. Beyond this, I would mention perhaps three points. The first: each one of us should do everything possible to live our priesthood in such a way that it is convincing, in such a way that young men can say: This is a true vocation, I can live like this, thus one can do an essential thing for the world. I think none of us would have become a priest if he did not know convincing priests in which the fire of the love of God burned. Hence, this is the first point: Let us seek to be convincing priests ourselves.

The second point is that we must invite, as I already said, others to the initiative of prayer, to have this humility, this trust of speaking with God with force, with determination. The third point: to have the courage to speak with young men if they think that God is calling them, because often a human word is necessary to open the hearing to the divine vocation; to speak with young men and above all to help them find a vital context in which they can live. Today's world is such that it almost seems to exclude the maturing of a priestly vocation; young people need environments in which the faith is lived, in which the beauty of the faith appears, in which it appears that this is a model of life, "the" model of life, and hence to help them find movements, or the parish -- the community in the parish -- or other contexts where they really are surrounded by faith, by the love of God, and can then be open so that the vocation of God will come and help them. On the other hand, we thank the Lord for all the seminarians of our time, for young priests, and we pray. The Lord will help us! Thank you all!


Pope's Address to Italian Episcopal Conference
"Take Upon Yourselves Without Hesitation the Commitment to Educate"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered May 27 upon receiving in audience at the Vatican the participants in the general assembly of the Italian episcopal conference.

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Dear and Venerated Brothers,

In the Gospel proclaimed last Sunday, the Solemnity of Pentecost, Jesus promised: "The Counsellor, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (Jn 14: 26). The Holy Spirit guides the Church through the world and through the course of history. Thanks to this gift of the Risen Christ, the Lord remains with us as events pass by; it is through the Spirit that we can recognise in Christ the meaning of human events. The Holy Spirit gives us the Church, communion and the community constantly convened, renewed, and sent forwards towards the accomplishment of the Kingdom of God. The origin and fundamental reason for your presence here and for my being once more, with joy, among you on the occasion of this annual appointment, lies in ecclesiastical communion. In this perspective I exhort you to consider the themes of your work, in which you are called upon to reflect: on the life and renewal of the pastoral activity of the Church in Italy. I am grateful to Cardinal Bagnasco for the strong and courteous words he has addressed to me, acting as the interpreter of your feelings: the Pope knows that he can always count on the Italian Bishops. Through you I greet the diocesan communities entrusted to your care, while I extend my thoughts and my spiritual closeness to all the people of Italy.

Sustained by the Spirit, and following the path indicated by the Second Vatican Council, and in particular the pastoral orientations of the decade which has just come to an end, you have chosen to take education as your principal theme for the next ten years. This time scale is appropriate for the radical and broad nature of the educational question. It seems to me that it is necessary to go to the deepest roots of this emergency in order to find the appropriate answers to this challenge. I see two above all. One essential root I think consists in a false concept of man's autonomy: man should develop on his own, without interference from others, who could assist his self-development but should not enter into this development. In reality, the essential fact is that the human person becomes himself only with the other. The "I" becomes itself only from the "thou" and from the "you". It is created for dialogue, for synchronic and diachronic communion. It is only the encounter with the "you" and with the "we" that the "I" opens to itself. Thus, the so-called antiauthoritarian education is not education but the rejection of education; thus what we are bound to impart to others is not imparted, meaning this "you" and "we" in which the "I" opens to itself. Therefore a first point seems to me to be this: to overcome this false idea of man's autonomy as a complete "I" in himself, whereas the "I" is fulfilled in the encounter with the "you" and "we".

I see the other root of the educational emergency in scepticism and relativism or, in simpler, clearer words, the exclusion of the two sources that orient the human journey. The first source would be nature according to Revelation. But today Nature is considered as a purely mechanical thing, which therefore does not contain any moral imperative in itself, any value orientation: it is purely a mechanical thing and orientation comes from being itself. Revelation is considered either as a moment in historical development, therefore relative like all historical and cultural development, or it is said perhaps there is Revelation but it does not contain content, only motivations. And if these two sources are silent, Nature and Revelation then, the third source, history, no longer speaks, because history too becomes only a conglomeration of occasional, arbitrary cultural decisions which have no value for the present nor for the future. It is fundamental to recover a true concept of Nature as the Creation of God that speaks to us; the Creator, through the book of Creation speaks to us and shows us the true values. And thus finding Revelation: recognizing that the book of Creation, in which God gives us the fundamental orientation, is deciphered in Revelation, is applied and becomes itself in cultural and religious history, not without mistakes, but in a substantially valid manner, to be further developed and purified anew. Thus, in this "concert" so to speak between Creation deciphered in Revelation, concretized in cultural history that moves ever forward and in which we always increasingly find the language of God, the indications for education also open, that are not an imposition but are really openness to the "I" to the "you", to the "we" and to the "You" of God.

Therefore the difficulties are great: to rediscover the sources, the language of the origins. While being aware of the weight of these difficulties, we must not give way to resignation and lack of confidence. It has never been easy to educate, but we must not surrender: we should fall short of the mandate that the Lord himself gave us, calling us to tend his flock with love. Let us rather reawaken in our communities that passion for teaching, which is a passion for the "I" for the "you", for the "we", for God, that is not fulfilled in didactics, in a collection of techniques and not even in the transmission of dry principles. Education means forming the new generations, so that they may know how to relate to the world, strong in a meaningful memory, that is not only occasional, but nurtured by the language of God that we find in Nature and in Revelation, in a shared interior patrimony, in that real knowledge which recognizes the transcendent purpose of life, and at the same time directs the thoughts, the affections and the judgement.

The thirst that young people carry in their hearts is a desire for meaning and authentic human relationships, that will help them not to feel alone before the challenges of life. It is a desire for a future rendered less uncertain by a sure and trustworthy companionship that stands at the side of each person with delicacy and respect, offering strong values from which to set out towards goals which are high, but not impossible to achieve. Our answer is the proclamation of God, the friend of man, who through Jesus became close to each one of us. The transmission of the faith is an inalienable part of the integral formation of the person, because in Jesus Christ the hope of a fulfilled life is realized: as the Second Vatican Council teaches, "whoever follows Christ the perfect man becomes himself more a man" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 41). The personal encounter with Jesus is the key to understanding the importance of God in our daily existence, the secret of how to live it in brotherly love, the condition that makes it possible to pick ourselves up after a fall and to move towards constant conversion.

The task of educating, that you have chosen as your priority, makes use of signs and traditions, in which Italy is rich. It has need of trustworthy references: the family above all, with its distinctive and inalienable role; the school, a common horizon beyond membership of any ideological choice; the parish, "the village fountain", a place and an experience which initiates the faith in the fabric of everyday relationships. The quality of our testimony remains a decisive factor in each of these areas, a privileged path for the ecclesiastical mission. The acceptance of the Christian proposal takes place, in fact, through relationships of closeness, loyalty and trust. In a time in which the great tradition of the past risks becoming a dead letter, we are called on to stand beside each young person with an ever new availability, accompanying him/her on the journey of discovery and the personal assimilation of the truth. By doing this we too can discover anew the fundamental realities in a new way.

The wish to promote a renewed season of evangelization does not hide the wounds that have marked the ecclesiastical community, caused by the weakness and sin of some of its members. This humble and painful admission must not make us forget, however, the selfless and passionate service of many believers, the priests above all. The special year dedicated to them was intended to provide an opportunity to encourage an interior renewal, as a condition for a more incisive evangelical and ministerial commitment. At the same time, it helps us to recognize the testimony of holiness of those who, after the example of the Curé d'Ars, devote themselves without stint to educating towards hope, faith and charity. In this light, what is a cause for scandal must be translated in us into a call for "a deep need to relearn penitence, to accept purification, to learn forgiveness on the one hand, but also the need for justice" (Benedict XVI's interview with journalists during his flight to Portugal, 11 May 2009).

Dear Brothers, I encourage you to take upon yourselves without hesitation the commitment to educate. The Holy Spirit will help you never to lose faith in the young, it will help you to go forth to meet them, it will lead you to go to vital spheres, including that of the new communication technologies, which now permeate every expression of culture. This is not a question of adapting the Gospel to the world, but of drawing from the Gospel that everlasting newness that allows us in every age to discover the most fitting ways of spreading the Word that never dies, vitalizing and serving human life. So, let us once more propound to the young the high and transcendental dimension of life understood as a vocation: called to a consecrated life, whether to priesthood or to marriage, may they know how to respond with generosity to the call of the Lord, because only in this way will each person be able to gather what is essential for him/her. The frontiers of education provide space for a wide convergence of intentions: the formation of the new generations cannot but be close to the heart of all people of goodwill, calling upon the capacity of the whole of society to ensure reliable points of reference for the harmonious development of the individual.

In Italy, too, this period is marked by an uncertainty over values, which is evident from the difficulties many adults find in respecting the commitments they have undertaken: this is a symptom of a cultural and spiritual crisis, as serious as the economic one. It would be illusory I wish to emphasize this to think of confronting the one while ignoring the other. For this reason, while I renew my appeal to those responsible for public affairs and to businessmen to do whatever they can to lighten the effects of the employment crisis, I exhort everyone to reflect on the prerequisites of a good and meaningful life, which are the foundations of that authoritativeness that alone can educate and returns to the true source of the values. The Church, in fact, has the common good at heart, which commits us to share our economic and intellectual, moral and spiritual resources, learning how to face together in a context of reciprocity, the problems and the challenges of the country. This perspective, amply developed in our recent Document on the Church and the South, will be further examined during the next Italian Catholic Social Week due to be held in Reggio Calabria in October, where you will be able, together with the most qualified members of the Catholic laity, to draw up an agenda of hope for Italy, so as to understand the requirements of justice and to achieve them politically (cf. Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, n. 28). Your ministry, dear Brothers, and the vivacity of the diocesan communities whom you are called upon to guide, are the best assurance that the Church will continue responsibly to offer her contribution to the social and moral growth of Italy.

Called by grace to be the Pastor of the Universal Church and of the splendid City of Rome, I carry with me constantly your worries and expectations, which in these last days I have deposited, with those of all humanity, at the feet of the Madonna of Fatima. To her goes our prayer: Virgin Mother of God and our most dear Mother, "let your presence cause new blooms to burst forth in the desert of our loneliness, let it cause the sun to shine on our darkness, let it restore calm after the tempest, so that all mankind shall see the salvation of the Lord, who has the name and the Face of Jesus, who is reflected in our hearts, for ever united with yours! Amen!" (Act of Entrustment, Fatima, 12 May).

I thank you and Bless you with all my heart.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
"Assume a True 'Passion' for Ecclesial Communion"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. The academy is responsible for training candidates for the Holy See diplomatic service.

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Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate
Dear Priests,

I always welcome you with joy for our usual meeting, which offers me the occasion to greet and encourage you and to propose to you some reflections on the meaning of the work in the papal representations. I greet the president, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, who follows your formation with determination and ecclesial sense, and I thank him for the words he addressed to me on behalf of you all. A happy thought goes to his collaborators and to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Child Jesus.

I would like to reflect briefly on the concept of representation. Not rarely, it is considered in a partial way in contemporary understanding: in fact, there is a tendency to associate it to something merely external, formal, not very personal.

The service of representation for which you have been preparing yourselves is instead something far more profound because it is participation in the "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum," which characterizes the ministry of the Roman Pontiff. It is, because of this, an eminently personal reality, destined to influence profoundly the one who is called to undertake such a particular task. Precisely in this ecclesial perspective, the exercise of representation implies the exigency to receive and nourish with special attention in one's priestly life some dimensions, which I would like to point out, though concisely, so that they will be a motive of reflection in your path of formation.

First of all, to cultivate a full interior adherence to the person of the Pope, to his Magisterium and to the universal ministry; full adherence, that is, of the one who has received the task to confirm brothers in the faith (cf. Luke 22:32) and "is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity, be it of the bishops or of the multitude of the faithful" (Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Constitution "Lumen Gentium," 23). In the second place, to assume, as style of life and as daily priority, an attentive care -- a true "passion" -- for ecclesial communion. Again, to represent the Roman Pontiff means to have the capacity to be a solid "bridge," a sure channel of communication between the particular Churches and the Apostolic See: on one hand, putting at the disposition of the Pope and of his collaborators an objective, correct and profound view of the ecclesial and social reality in which one lives, on the other, being committed to transmit the norms, indications and guidelines that emanate from the Holy See, not in a bureaucratic way, but with profound love of the Church and with the help of personal trust patiently built, respecting and appreciating, at the same time, the efforts of the Bishops and the path of the particular Churches to which one is invited.

As can be intuited, the service you are preparing to carry out calls for full determination and generous willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, personal intuitions, one's own projects and other possibilities of exercising the priestly ministry. In a perspective of faith and of concrete response to God's call -- to be nourished always in an intense relationship with the Lord -- this does not devalue each one's originality but, on the contrary, is extremely enriching: the effort to be in synch with the universal perspective and with the service to the unity of God's flock, peculiar to the Petrine ministry, is in fact able to value, in a singular way, the gifts and talents of each one, according to that logic that Saint Paul well expressed to the Christians of Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). In this way, the papal representative -- in agreement with those who collaborate with him -- truly becomes a sign of the presence and of the charity of the Pope. And if that is a benefit for the life of all the particular Churches, it is so especially in those particularly delicate or difficult situations in which, for varied reasons, the Christian community finds itself having to live. Properly viewed, it is an authentic priestly service, characterized by an analogy not remote from the representation of Christ, typical of the priest that, as such, has an intrinsic sacrificial dimension.

Precisely from here derives also the peculiar style of the service of representation that you will be called to exercise with State Authorities or with international organizations. In fact, also in these realms the figure and manner of presence of the Nuncio, of the Apostolic Delegate, of the Permanent Observer, is determined not only by the environment in which one operates but first of all and primarily, by him that one is called to represent. This puts the Papal Representative in a particular position in regard to other Ambassadors or Envoys. He, in fact, will always be profoundly identified, in a supernatural sense, with the one whom he represents. To be spokesman of the Vicar of Christ could be demanding, at times extremely exacting, but it will never be mortifying or depersonalizing. It becomes, instead, an original way of carrying out one's priestly vocation.

Dear students, I hope that your house might be, as my predecessor Paul VI liked to say, a "higher school of charity," my prayer accompanies you, while I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, and to St. Anthony Abbot, patron of the Academy. To you all, and to all your dear ones, I willingly impart my blessing.


On the Trip to Cyprus
"I Was Almost Able to Feel So Many Hearts Beating in Unison"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2010 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Today I wish to reflect on my apostolic journey to Cyprus, which in many aspects is in continuity with my preceding trips to the Holy Land and Malta. Thanks be to God, this pastoral visit went very well, because happily it achieved its objectives. Already in itself it constituted a historic event; in fact, never before had a Bishop of Rome gone to that blessed land, site of the apostolic work of St. Paul and St. Barnabas, traditionally considered part of the Holy Land.

In the footsteps of the Apostle to the Gentiles I made myself a pilgrim of the Gospel, first of all to strengthen the faith of the Catholic communities, a small but lively minority on the island, encouraging them also to continue on the path toward full Christian unity, especially with our Orthodox brothers. At the same time, I wished ideally to embrace all the Middle Eastern populations, and bless them in the name of the Lord, invoking from God the gift of peace. I experienced a cordial welcome, which was given to me everywhere, and I happily take this opportunity to express again my heartfelt gratitude in the first place to the archbishop of Cyprus of the Maronites, Joseph Soueif, and to His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, together with their collaborators, renewing to each one my appreciation for their apostolic work. My heartfelt gratitude goes then to the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, particularly to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, whom I had the joy of embracing with fraternal affection, as well as to the president of the republic, to all the civil authorities and to all those who in different ways dedicated themselves commendably to the success of my pastoral visit.

It began on June 4 in the ancient city of Paphos, where I felt enveloped by an atmosphere that seemed almost like the perceptible synthesis of 2,000 years of Christian history. The archeological finds present there are the sign of an ancient and glorious spiritual heritage, which still today has a strong impact on the life of the country. A touching ecumenical celebration took place in the Church of St. Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss, a place of Orthodox worship open also to Catholics and Anglicans, located inside the archeological site. With Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II and representatives of the Armenian, Lutheran and Anglican communities, we fraternally renewed our reciprocal and irreversible ecumenical commitment. I manifested such sentiments subsequently to His Beatitude Chrysostomos II in a cordial meeting at his residence, during which I saw how much the Orthodox Church of Cyprus is tied to the fortunes of that people, keeping a devout and pleasing memory of Archbishop Makarios III, commonly regarded as father and benefactor of the nation, to whom I also wished to render homage pausing briefly at the monument that represents him. This rootedness in tradition does not impede the Orthodox community from being committed decisively to ecumenical dialogue together with the Catholic community, both animated by the sincere desire to restore full and visible communion between the Churches of the East and West.

On June 5, in Nicosia, capital of the island, I began the second stage of the journey by going to visit the president of the republic, who welcomed me with great courtesy. In meeting with the civil authorities and the diplomatic corps, I stressed the importance of founding positive law on the ethical principles of natural law, in order to promote moral truth in public life. It was an appeal to reason, based on ethical principles and charged with exacting implications for today's society, which often no longer recognizes the cultural tradition on which it is founded.

The Liturgy of the Word, celebrated in the elementary school of St. Maron, was one of the most thought-provoking moments in the meeting with the Catholic community of Cyprus, in its Maronite and Latin components, and it allowed me to see firsthand the apostolic fervor of Cypriot Catholics.

This is expressed also through educational and charitable activity with dozens of structures, which are placed at the service of everyone and are appreciated by the governing authorities as well as by the whole population. It was a joyful and festive moment, animated by the enthusiasm of numerous children, youth and young people. Not lacking was the aspect of memory, which made perceptible in a moving way the spirit of the Maronite Church, which precisely this year celebrates the 1,600th anniversary of the death of the founder St. Maron. Particularly significant, in this connection, was the presence of some Maronite Catholics, natives of four villages of the island where Christians are a people who suffer and hope; I wished to manifest to them my paternal understanding of their aspirations and difficulties.

In that same celebration I was able to admire the apostolic commitment of the Latin community, led by the solicitude of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and the pastoral zeal of the Friars Minor of the Holy Land, who are at the service of the people with persevering generosity. The Catholics of the Latin rite, very active in the charitable realm, give special attention to workers and the neediest. To all, Latins and Maronites, I assured my remembrance in prayer, encouraging them to witness to the Gospel also through the patient work of reciprocal trust between Christians and non-Christians, to build lasting peace and harmony between peoples.

I wished to repeat the invitation to trust and hope in the course of the Holy Mass, celebrated in the parish of the Holy Cross in the presence of priests, consecrated persons, deacons, catechists and representatives of lay associations and movements of the island. Beginning with reflection on the mystery of the cross, I then addressed a heartbroken appeal to all Catholics of the Middle East so that, despite the great trials and the well known difficulties, they not yield to dejection and the temptation to emigrate, since their presence in the region constitutes an irreplaceable sign of hope. I guaranteed them, especially the priests and religious, the affectionate and intense solidarity of the whole Church, as well as incessant prayer that the Lord will help them to always be a lively and peacemaking presence.

Certainly the culminating moment of the apostolic journey was the presentation of the "instrumentum laboris" of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the synod of bishops. This ceremony took place on Sunday, June 6, in the Sports Centre of Nicosia, at the end of the solemn Eucharistic celebration, in which patriarchs and bishops of various ecclesial communities of the Middle East took part. The participation of the People of God was unanimous, "with glad shouts and songs of thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival," as the Psalm says (42:5). We had a concrete experience of this, also thanks to the presence of so many immigrants, who constitute a significant group of the island's Catholic population, where they have integrated without difficulty. We prayed together for the soul of the mourned Bishop Luigi Padovese, president of the Turkish episcopal conference, whose sudden and tragic death has left us saddened and dismayed.

The theme of the synodal assembly for the Middle East, which will take place in Rome this October, speaks of communion and openness to hope: "The Catholic Church in the Middle East: Communion and Witness." This important event is designed in fact as a gathering of the Catholic community of that area, in its different rites, but at the same time as a renewed search for dialogue and courage for the future. Hence, it will be supported by the prayerful affection of the whole Church, in whose heart the Middle East occupies a special place, inasmuch as it is precisely there that God made himself known to our fathers in the faith. However, attention from other individuals of world society will not be lacking, specifically of protagonists in public life, called to work with constant commitment so that the region will be able to overcome the situations of suffering and conflict that still afflict it and finally rediscover peace in justice.

Before taking leave of Cyprus I wished to visit the Maronite Cathedral of Nicosia -- where Cardinal Pierre Nasrallah Sfeir, patriarch of Antioch of the Maronites, was also present. I renewed my sincere closeness and deep understanding to every community of the ancient Maronite Church spread around the island, on whose coast the Maronites arrived in different periods and were often harshly tired to remain faithful to their specific Christian heritage, whose historical and artistic memories constitute a cultural patrimony for the whole of humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters, I returned to the Vatican with a spirit brimming with gratitude to God and with sincere sentiments of affection and esteem for the inhabitants of Cyprus, by whom I felt welcomed and understood. In the noble Cypriot land I was able to see the apostolic work of the different traditions of the one Church of Christ and I was almost able to feel so many hearts beating in unison, precisely as the theme of the journey affirmed: "One heart, one soul." The Cypriot Catholic community, in its Maronite, Armenian and Latin expressions, makes an incessant effort to be one heart and one soul, both among itself as well as in cordial and constructive relations with Orthodox brothers and with the other Christian denominations. May the Cypriot people and the other nations of the Middle East, with their governors and the representatives of various religions, be able to build together a future of peace, friendship and fraternal collaboration. And we pray that, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy, the Holy Spirit will render this apostolic journey fruitful and animate throughout the world the mission of the Church, instituted by Christ to proclaim the Gospel of truth, love and peace to all peoples.

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In my Apostolic Journey to Cyprus this past week, I walked in the footsteps of Saints Paul and Barnabas, who first brought the Gospel to that island, and visited the small but lively Catholic communities of the island. I thank the Authorities for their warm hospitality, and I particularly thank the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and His Beatitude Archbishop Chrysostomos the Second for their fraternal welcome. In my celebrations with the Maronite and Latin Catholic communities I witnessed their strong faith and traditions, and the vitality of their educational and charitable institutions. In Cyprus and throughout the Middle East, Christians are called to overcome divisions and to persevere in their witness to the Gospel in those lands. At Sunday Mass in Nicosia I consigned the working document for the forthcoming Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. Let us pray that the Synod will strengthen those ancient Christian communities in communion and hope, and help them to build a future of peace throughout the Middle East.

I offer a warm welcome to the ecumenical study group from the School of Theology at Seton Hall University, and to the members of the International Leadership Programme for LaSallian Universities. My cordial greetings also go to the scholars and experts taking part in the international conference sponsored by the International Insolvency Institute. I greet the many student groups present, and I thank the choirs for their praise of God in song. Upon all the English-speaking visitors present in today's Audience, especially those from Ireland, the Philippines and the United states, I invoke Almighty God's blessings of joy and peace.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Polish, he said:]

I cordially greet the Poles. Thank you for the prayers you made during my journey in Cyprus. The new Polish Blessed Father Jerzy Popieluszko taught love and solidarity toward those in need of spiritual and material support. I entrust to his protection all those who are suffering from landslides and those who take aid to them. May God bless you!

[In Italian, he said:]

The feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which we celebrate the day after tomorrow, will mark the conclusion of the Year for Priests. Thousands of priests from all parts of the world will gather in Rome to praise the Lord and renew their commitment. I invite everyone to participate in this event with prayer.

My cordial greeting goes, finally, to young people, the sick and newlyweds. Dear young people, continue to be committed with your characteristic enthusiasm to the building of a civilization whose foundations are truth and love, peace and solidarity. Dear sick, unite your sufferings to the infinite love of the Heart of Christ for the salvation of humanity. Dear newlyweds, know how to progress ever more on the path of love and mutual respect.

[Translation by ZENIT]


Benedict XVI’s visit to Cyprus June 2010

Benedict XVI's Greeting at Paphos Airport
"Cyprus Stands at the Crossroads of Cultures and Religions"

PAPHOS, Cyprus, JUNE 4, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today at the welcoming ceremony at the International Paphos Airport, which marked the beginning of his three-day trip to the island.

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Mr President,
Your Beatitude Chrysostomos,
Your Beatitudes,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Greetings! Peace be with you! It is a great pleasure to be with you today.

Mr President, I am grateful for the kind invitation to visit the Republic of Cyprus. I express my cordial greetings to you and to the Government and people of this nation, and thank you for your gracious words of welcome. I also recall with gratitude your recent visit to the Vatican and look forward to our meeting tomorrow in Nicosia.

Cyprus stands at the crossroads of cultures and religions, of histories both proud and ancient but which still retain a strong and visible impact upon the life of your country. Having recently acceded to the European Union, the Republic of Cyprus is beginning to witness the benefit of closer economic and political ties with other European states. Membership has already given your country access to markets, technology and know-how. It is greatly to be hoped that membership will lead to prosperity at home and that other Europeans in their turn will be enriched by your spiritual and cultural heritage which reflects your historical role, standing between Europe, Asia and Africa. May the love of your homeland and of your families and the desire to live in harmony with your neighbours under the compassionate protection of almighty God, inspire you patiently to resolve the remaining concerns that you share with the international community for the future of your island.

Following in the footsteps of our common fathers in the faith, Saints Paul and Barnabas, I have come among you as a pilgrim and the servant of the servants of God. Since the Apostles brought the Christian message to these shores, Cyprus has been blessed by a resilient Christian heritage. I greet as a brother in that faith His Beatitude Chrysostomos the Second, Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, and I look forward shortly to meeting many more members of the Orthodox Church of Cyprus.

I also look forward to greeting other Cypriot religious leaders. I hope to strengthen our common bonds and to reiterate the need to build up mutual trust and lasting friendship between all those who worship the one God.

As the Successor of Peter, I come in a special way to greet the Catholics of Cyprus, to confirm them in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32) and to encourage them to be both exemplary Christians and exemplary citizens, and to play a full role in society, to the benefit of both Church and state.

During my stay with you, I will also consign the Instrumentum Laboris, a working document in view of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops to be held later this year in Rome. That Assembly will examine many aspects of the Church’s presence in the region and the challenges that Catholics face, sometimes in trying circumstances, in living out their communion within the Catholic Church and offering their witness in the service of society and the world. Cyprus is thus an appropriate place in which to launch our Church’s reflection on the place of the centuries-old Catholic community in the Middle East, our solidarity with all the Christians of the region and our conviction that they have an irreplaceable role to play in peace and reconciliation among its peoples.

Mr President, dear friends, with these thoughts, I entrust my pilgrimage to Mary, the Mother of God, and to the intercession of Saints Paul and Barnabas.

May God bless the people of Cyprus. May the All-Holy [Virgin] protect you always!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address at Ecumenical Celebration in Paphos
"Every Christian ... Is Set Apart to Bear Prophetic Witness to the Risen Lord"

PAPHOS, Cyprus, JUNE 4, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today during an ecumenical celebration at the archeological area of the Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss.

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Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

"Grace and peace to you in abundance" (1 Pet 1:2). With great joy I salute you who represent the Christian communities present in Cyprus.

I thank His Beatitude Chrysostomos the Second for his gracious words of welcome, His Eminence Georgios, the Metropolitan of Paphos, our host, and all those who have helped to make this meeting possible. I am also pleased cordially to salute the Christians of other confessions present, including those of the Armenian, Lutheran and Anglican communities.

It is truly an extraordinary grace for us to gather together in prayer in this Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitissa. We have just heard a reading from the Acts of the Apostles which reminds us that Cyprus was the first stage in the missionary journeys of the Apostle Paul (cf. Acts 13:1-4). Set apart by the Holy Spirit, Paul, accompanied by Barnabas, a native of Cyprus, and Mark, the future evangelist, first came to Salamis, where they began to proclaim the word of God in the synagogues. Traversing the island, they reached Paphos where, close to this very place, they preached in the presence of the Roman pro-consul Sergius Paulus. Thus it was from this place that the Gospel message began to spread throughout the Empire, and the Church, grounded in the apostolic preaching, was able to take root throughout the then-known world.

The Church in Cyprus can rightly be proud of her direct links to the preaching of Paul, Barnabas and Mark, and her communion in the apostolic faith, a communion which links her to all those Churches who preserve that same rule of faith. This is the communion, real yet imperfect, which already unites us, and which impels us to overcome our divisions and to strive for the restoration of that full visible unity which is the Lord’s will for all his followers. For, in Paul’s words, "there is one body and one spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Eph 4:4-5).

The Church’s communion in the apostolic faith is both a gift and a summons to mission. In the passage from Acts which we have heard, we see an image of the Church’s unity in prayer, and her openness to the promptings of the Spirit of mission. Like Paul and Barnabas, every Christian, by baptism, is set apart to bear prophetic witness to the Risen Lord and to his Gospel of reconciliation, mercy and peace. In this context, the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, due to meet in Rome next October, will reflect on the vital role of Christians in the region, encourage them in their witness to the Gospel, and help foster greater dialogue and cooperation between Christians throughout the region. Significantly, the labours of the Synod will be enriched by the presence of fraternal delegates from other Churches and Christian communities in the region, as a sign of our common commitment to the service of God’s word and our openness to the power of his reconciling grace.

The unity of all Christ’s disciples is a gift to be implored from the Father in the hope that it will strengthen the witness to the Gospel in today’s world. The Lord prayed for the holiness and unity of his disciples precisely so that the world might believe (cf. Jn 17:21). Just a hundred years ago, at the Edinburgh Missionary Conference, the acute awareness that divisions between Christians were an obstacle to the spread of the Gospel gave birth to the modern ecumenical movement. Today we can be grateful to the Lord, who through his Spirit has led us, especially in these last decades, to rediscover the rich apostolic heritage shared by East and West, and in patient and sincere dialogue to find ways of drawing closer to one another, overcoming past controversies, and looking to a better future.

The Church in Cyprus, which serves as a bridge between East and West, has contributed much to this process of reconciliation. The path leading to the goal of full communion will certainly not be without its difficulties, yet the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus are committed to advancing in the way of dialogue and fraternal cooperation. May the Holy Spirit enlighten our minds and strengthen our resolve, so that together we can bring the message of salvation to the men and women of our time, who thirst for the truth that brings authentic freedom and salvation (cf. Jn 8:32), the truth whose name is Jesus Christ!

Dear sisters and brothers, I cannot conclude without evoking the memory of the saints who have adorned the Church in Cyprus, and in particular Saint Epiphanius, Bishop of Salamis. Sanctity is the sign of the fullness of Christian life, a profound inner docility to the Holy Spirit who calls us to constant conversion and renewal as we strive to be ever more conformed to Christ our Saviour. Conversion and holiness are also the privileged means by which we open our minds and hearts to the Lord’s will for the unity of his Church. As we give thanks for this meeting and for the fraternal affection which unites us, let ask Saints Barnabas and Epiphanius, Saints Peter and Paul, and all God’s holy ones, to bless our communities, to preserve us in the faith of the Apostles, and to guide our steps along the way of unity, charity and peace.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Words of Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop to Pope
"It Is Here ... That the Christian Roots of Europe Took Seed"
PAPHOS, Cyprus, JUNE 4, 2010 ( Here is the address delivered today by the Cypriot Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II during an ecumenical celebration at the archeological area of the Church of Agia Kiriaki Chrysopolitiss.

* * *

Your Holiness, Pope Benedict of old Rome,
Welcome to the Island of Saints and Martyrs!

Welcome to the first Church of the Nations, founded by the Apostles Barnabas, Paul and Mark!

Welcome to the Church of the Apostles, after the establishment of which the Holy Spirit led the Apostles to separate themselves from their brethren and sent them towards the Nations!

"So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. When they arrived at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews … they had gone through the island to Paphos" (Acts 13:4-6).

In this very spot, your Holiness, stood the synagogue of the Jews and from this place St Barnabas and St Paul preached the word of God to the Jews.

"But the word of God is not chained" (2 Timothy 2:9). It could not have been possible for the Spirit of Love of the Incarnate, Crucified and Resurrected Lord to remain restricted among the Jews. Jesus Christ came to the world "that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:15).

The commandment of the Holy Ghost was for them to preach to the Nations. Thus, when the Roman deputy, Sergius Paulus, "a prudent man" according to St. Luke, invited the Apostles "to hear the word of God" (Acts 13:7) they gladly went forth to the place where the political administration of the island was based in order to preach the word of the Lord for the first time among the Gentiles also.

At this point, "Barnabas and Paul exchanged their roles. Here was a place not for the Cypriot, but the Roman citizen".

As of that moment Paul became the leader of the mission. He also changed his name. From this moment on he was no longer called Saul in the New Testament, but Paul!

It was in this town that the first miracle of the Apostles was performed, as recorded in the New Testament. It was here that the first European citizen was baptized in the name of the Holy Trinity. It was here that the first official citadel of idolatry fell and in its place the glory of the Cross was raised in all its splendor, and would gradually spread to cover the whole of Europe and shape its historical future.

It is here, your Holiness, that the Christian roots of Europe took seed and from here its spiritual shoots first burst forth. The foundations of the edifice of Christian civilization in Europe were laid on this very spot where we now stand, deeply moved by the sense of history. It is for this reason that Cyprus is justly called "the Gate of Christianity in Europe".

Here in Paphos, after the wondrous events that took place, Paul became established as the Apostle to the Nations, and went on to sow the seeds of the bread of life in your own cathedra and throughout the whole of Europe.

Your Holiness,

Since 45 AD when the Apostles first set their foot upon this island until the present day, the Church of Cyprus has had a long and fruitful Christian course. Throughout its long progress it has endured numerous troubles and difficulties, lived through dark nights, experienced many conquests, gone 'through fire and water', but guided always by the Holy Spirit, not only did it survive, but it continues to give its Orthodox Christian Testimony, and to fulfill its God-given mission.

But, alas, since 1974, Cyprus and its Church have been experiencing the most difficult times in their history.

Turkey, which attacked us barbarously and, with the power of its arms, occupied 37% of our territory, is proceeding -- with the tolerance of the so-called 'civilized' world -- to implement its unholy plans, first to annex our occupied territories and then the whole of Cyprus.

In the case of our island, as it has done elsewhere, Turkey has implemented a plan of ethnic cleansing. It drove out the Orthodox Christians from their ancestral homes and brought -- and continues to bring -- hundreds of thousands of settlers from Anatolia, thus altering the demographic character of Cyprus. In addition, it has changed all the historical place names into Turkish ones.

Our cultural heritage has been plundered relentlessly and our Christian monuments are being destroyed or sold on the markets of illicit dealers in antiquities, in an attempt to rid the island of every last trace of all that is Greek or Christian.

We hope that in this terrible ordeal, which has caused so much agony to the Christian congregation of our Church since 1974, the Good and All-Merciful Lord will not turn His face from our suffering people, but will grant us Peace, Freedom, and Justice, thus granting to us the all-fulfilling love given by His presence in our hearts.

In this struggle of ours, Your Holiness, which the Cypriot people are waging with the guidance of their Leaders, we would greatly appreciate your active support. We look forward to your help in order to ensure protection and respect for our sacred monuments and our cultural heritage, in order that the diachronic values of our Christian spirit might prevail. These values are currently being brutally violated by Turkey -- a country desirous of joining the European Union.

Your Holiness,

In this joyful moment of your presence among us together with your retinue, we, the President of the Republic, the Government, the Holy Synod, the pious congregation of our Church, and I personally, would like once again to address to you a heartfelt welcome and wish you a pleasant stay.

+Chrysostomos Archbishop of Cyprus
Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus
4 June 2010


Pope's Address to Politicians in Cyprus
"Public Service Enables Us to Grow in Wisdom, Integrity and Personal Fulfillment"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 - Here is the address delivered today by Benedict XVI in meeting with the civil authorities and diplomatic corps of Cyprus at the presidential gardens in Nicosia.

* * *

Mr President,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am grateful that, as part of my Apostolic Journey to Cyprus, I have this opportunity to meet with the political and civil authorities of the Republic, as well as the members of the diplomatic community. I thank President Christofias for the gracious words of greeting which he expressed in your name and I willingly reciprocate with my own respectful good wishes for your important work, recalling in particular the happy occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Republic’s Constitution.

I have just laid a wreath at the memorial of the late Archbishop Makarios, the first President of the Republic of Cyprus. Like him, each of you in your lives of public service must be committed to serving the good of others in society, whether at the local, national or international level. This is a noble vocation which the Church esteems. When carried out faithfully, public service enables us to grow in wisdom, integrity and personal fulfillment. Plato, Aristotle and the Stoics gave great importance to such fulfillment -- eudemonia - as a goal for every human being, and saw in moral character the way to reach that goal. For them, and for the great Islamic and Christian philosophers who followed in their footsteps, the practice of virtue consisted in acting in accordance with right reason, in the pursuit of all that is true, good and beautiful.

From a religious perspective, we are members of a single human family created by God and we are called to foster unity and to build a more just and fraternal world based on lasting values. In so far as we fulfil our duty, serve others and adhere to what is right, our minds become more open to deeper truths and our freedom grows strong in its allegiance to what is good. My predecessor Pope John Paul the Second once wrote that moral obligation should not be seen as a law imposing itself from without and demanding obedience, but rather as an expression of God’s own wisdom to which human freedom readily submits (cf. Veritatis Splendor, 41). As human beings we find our ultimate fulfillment in reference to that Absolute Reality whose reflection is so often encountered in our conscience as a pressing invitation to serve truth, justice and love.

At a personal level, you as public servants know the importance of truth, integrity and respect in your relationships with others. Personal relationships are often the first steps towards building trust and – in due course – solid bonds of friendship between individuals, peoples and nations. This is an essential part of your role, both as politicians and diplomats. In countries with delicate political situations, such honest and open personal relationships can be the beginning of a much greater good for entire societies and peoples. Let me encourage all of you, present here today, to seize the opportunities afforded you, both personally and institutionally, to build these relationships and, in so doing, to foster the greater good of the concert of nations and the true good of those whom you represent.

The ancient Greek philosophers also teach us that the common good is served precisely by the influence of people endowed with clear moral insight and courage. In this way, policies become purified of selfish interests or partisan pressures and are placed on a more solid basis. Furthermore, the legitimate aspirations of those whom we represent are protected and fostered. Moral rectitude and impartial respect for others and their well-being are essential to the good of any society since they establish a climate of trust in which all human interactions, whether religious, or economic, social and cultural, or civil and political, acquire strength and substance.

But what does it mean in practical terms to respect and promote moral truth in the world of politics and diplomacy on the national and international levels? How can the pursuit of truth bring greater harmony to the troubled regions of the earth? I would suggest that it can be done in three ways.

Firstly, promoting moral truth means acting responsibly on the basis of factual knowledge. As diplomats, you know from experience that such knowledge helps you identify injustices and grievances, so as to consider dispassionately the concerns of all involved in a given dispute. When parties rise above their own particular view of events, they acquire an objective and comprehensive vision. Those who are called to resolve such disputes are able to make just decisions and promote genuine reconciliation when they grasp and acknowledge the full truth of a specific question.

A second way of promoting moral truth consists in deconstructing political ideologies which would supplant the truth. The tragic experiences of the twentieth century have laid bare the inhumanity which follows from the suppression of truth and human dignity. In our own day, we are witnessing attempts to promote supposed values under the guise of peace, development and human rights. In this sense, speaking to the United Nations General Assembly, I called attention to attempts in some quarters to reinterpret the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by giving satisfaction to particular interests which would compromise the Declaration’s inner unity and move away from its original intent (cf. Address to the United Nations General Assembly, 18 April 2008).

Thirdly, promoting moral truth in public life calls for a constant effort to base positive law upon the ethical principles of natural law. An appeal to the latter was once considered self-evident, but the tide of positivism in contemporary legal theory requires the restatement of this important axiom. Individuals, communities and states, without guidance from objectively moral truths, would become selfish and unscrupulous and the world a more dangerous place to live. On the other hand, by being respectful of the rights of persons and peoples we protect and promote human dignity. When the policies we support are enacted in harmony with the natural law proper to our common humanity, then our actions become more sound and conducive to an environment of understanding, justice and peace.

Mr President, distinguished friends, with these considerations I reaffirm my esteem and that of the Church for your important service to society and to the building of a secure future for our world. I invoke upon all of you the divine blessings of wisdom, strength and perseverance in the fulfillment of your duties. Thank you.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Cypriot President's Greeting to Pope
"We ... Are Fellow Travelers on the Road Toward Achieving Peace"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 - Here is the address given today by the Cypriot president, Demetris Christofias, upon receiving Benedict XVI to the Presidential Palace.

* * *

Your Holiness,

It is a great honor for the Government of the Republic of Cyprus, the people of Cyprus and myself, to welcome You to the Presidential Palace, to the home of all Cypriots. Cyprus, a hospitable island, welcomes and warmly embraces You.

Due to its geographic position, Cyprus has always been a meeting point of many peoples and civilizations. For centuries, Orthodox Christians live harmoniously on our island together with the Catholic and Muslim communities. This heritage and the wealth emanating from this co-existence demonstrate that Cyprus can become a bridge which unites different worlds.

Cyprus aspires to and can become a model for the "civilization of co-existence," the civilization of the future. The message of peace sent by the Inter-faith Conference organized in 2008 by the community of Saint Egidion and the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, headed by His Beatitude the Archbishop of Cyprus Chrysostomos II is always current: "No human being, no people, no community is an island. Everyone needs somebody else; everyone needs the friendship, forgiveness, and help of someone else. We share a common global destiny: either we live together in peace or we perish. […] No hatred, no conflict, no wall can resist the power of prayer, forgiveness, and patient love leading to dialogue. Dialogue does not generate weakness, rather it grants new strength. It is the real alternative to violence. Nothing is lost with dialogue."

The humanitarian work of the Holy See for the poor is an example for all of us. For this reason, Your Holiness, to me Your visit is a historic moment and I assure You of my country's desire to further develop its cooperation with the Holy See in the field of development aid. We, together with Your Holiness, are fellow travelers on the road toward achieving peace and acquiring a common universal moral conscience, as well as in the struggle against poverty, exclusion, injustice and hunger.

Since 1973, the Republic of Cyprus has diplomatic relations with the Holy See. Since the establishment of our embassy at the Holy See in 2003, these relations have blossomed and strengthened further. I, myself, have had the honor to visit You at the Vatican twice, the first time as the President of the House of Representatives and the second time as the President of the Republic. The memories of these meetings remain vivid.

International relations and the political life need stable moral values, especially nowadays when the effects of globalization and open economies are becoming increasingly evident. Moral decadence and the prevalence of extreme materialism, as well as market anarchy and the pursuit of profit at any cost alienate both man and society. As You wisely stressed in 2008, "a democracy without values may lose its very soul." I am convinced of the soundness of Your words.

Your Holiness,

Your visit coincides with the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Republic of Cyprus. Your arrival at this time adds moral and spiritual prestige to the celebrations taking place on the occasion of this anniversary.

Since the first visit of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas in 43 A.D., Cyprus has always been an apostolic land, with deep Christian roots. Unfortunately, a great part of the spiritual and cultural heritage of Cyprus, including the burial site and the Stavropegic Monastery of Apostle Barnabas as well as the Maronite religious monuments, continues to be under the occupation of the Turkish army. It is particularly disturbing that for 36 years our cultural and religious heritage in the occupied areas is being destroyed and this constitutes a loss for mankind in general.

The painful history of the island strengthens our longing for peace, not only for our island but also for the wider area. Our proximity to the Middle East is not just geographical but also personal.

Despite its long history Cyprus gained its independence in 1960 and since 1974 is has been experiencing the painful military occupation of more than 36 per cent of its territory. Nicosia remains the last divided European capital. I recall that departing from the Holy Land a year ago, You said that the wall there was one of the most distressing images that You had ever seen in Your life. I also recall that You prayed for peace. May this prayer for peace soon be fulfilled in the case of Cyprus as well!

I can assure You that from the day of my election to the office of the President of the Republic I have dedicated all my efforts and I continue to exert every effort towards the achievement of a just, viable and functional solution to the Cyprus problem. The road towards the solution, however, requires that Ankara changes its policy and that it negotiates on the basis of the agreed framework for the solution, which we reached with the former leader of the Turkish Cypriot community Mehmet Ali Talat. This framework provides that the solution shall be a bizonal, bicommunal federation with political equality of the two communities as this is described in the relevant resolutions of the United Nations Security Council. It also provides that Cyprus shall be one state, with a single sovereignty, a single international personality and a single citizenship.

Turkey has a motive to change its policy since it seeks to become a full member of the European Union. The Government of the Republic of Cyprus supports the accession of Turkey to the European Union. It is not, however, prepared to concede to everything that pertains to the relations between Turkey and the European Union, except under the condition that Turkey will comply with its obligations towards the EU and its member states.

The international community must exert its influence on Turkey. It is high time that everyone realizes that compliance with international law is more important than serving the narrow interests relating to the geostrategic position of Turkey. Otherwise, justice and stability in the whole area of the Eastern Mediterranean will be jeopardized. The recent distressing developments in Gaza should make everyone stop and think.

We honor our commitments and are free of nationalistic prejudices. We bring to the negotiation table positions that serve the interests of the people of Cyprus as a whole, regardless of national identity and religious beliefs. Our political determination and our good will to reach a solution cannot be disputed.

Your Holiness,

I welcome You again to Cyprus and the Presidential Palace and wish You a pleasant and spiritually constructive stay, as well as good health and the best of luck with Your mission for global peace.

Thank You.


Holy Father's Greeting to Chrysostomos II
"Build ... a Society Distinguished by Respect for the Rights of All"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 - Here is the text of Benedict XVI's greeting to Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, which he delivered today upon visiting the Orthodox archbishopric of Nicosia.

* * *

Your Beatitude,

I greet you with fraternal affection in the Risen Lord and I thank you for your gracious welcome.

I recall with gratitude your visit to Rome three years ago, and I rejoice that today we meet again in your beloved homeland. Through you, I greet the Holy Synod, and all the priests, deacons, monks, nuns and lay faithful of the Church of Cyprus.

Before all else, I wish to express my gratitude for the hospitality which the Church of Cyprus so generously offered to the Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue on the occasion of its meeting last year in Paphos. I am likewise grateful for the support that the Church of Cyprus, through the clarity and openness of her contributions, has always given to the work of the dialogue. May the Holy Spirit guide and confirm this great ecclesial undertaking, which aims at restoring full and visible communion between the Churches of East and West, a communion to be lived in fidelity to the Gospel and the apostolic tradition, esteem for the legitimate traditions of East and West, and openness to the diversity of gifts by which the Spirit builds up the Church in unity, holiness and peace.

This spirit of fraternity and communion also found expression in the generous contribution which Your Beatitude sent in the name of the Church of Cyprus for those suffering from last year’s earthquake in l'Aquila, near Rome, whose needs are close to my heart. In that same spirit, I now join you in praying that all the inhabitants of Cyprus, with God’s help, will find the wisdom and strength needed to work together for a just settlement of issues remaining to be resolved, to strive for peace and reconciliation, and to build for future generations a society distinguished by respect for the rights of all, including the inalienable rights to freedom of conscience and freedom of worship.

Cyprus is traditionally considered part of the Holy Land, and the situation of continuing conflict in the Middle East must be a source of concern to all Christ’s followers. No one can remain indifferent to the need to support in every way possible the Christians of that troubled region, so that its ancient Churches can live in peace and flourish. The Christian communities of Cyprus can find a most fruitful area for ecumenical cooperation in praying and working together for peace, reconciliation and stability in the lands blessed by the earthly presence of the Prince of Peace.

With these sentiments, Your Beatitude, I thank you once more for your fraternal welcome, and I assure you of my prayers for you and for all the clergy and faithful of the Church of Cyprus.

May the joy of the Risen Christ be always with you!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Chrysostomos II's Words of Welcome to Benedict XVI
"The 21st Century ... Is the Century of Dialogue"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 ( Here is the text of the greeting given by Orthodox Archbishop Chrysostomos II of Cyprus, which he delivered today upon receiving Benedict XVI at the Orthodox archbishopric of Nicosia and Cathedral of St. John.

* * *

Your Holiness, Benedict, Pope of Old Rome,

It is with feelings of great respect and love that we welcome you and your honorable entourage to our cathedra.

Our Church has a history of two millennia, beginning in 45 AD, when it was the first Church of Nations to be founded by the Apostles Barnabas and Paul.

In the two thousand years of its history our Church has experienced periods of great spiritual fruitfulness and splendor and its spiritually enlightened Bishops participated in all the Ecumenical Councils, at which they often played a leading role.

In 431 AD the Third Ecumenical Council at Ephesus honored the Church of Cyprus by declaring its Autocephaly under Canon 8.

Byzantine Emperor Zeno then granted our Church imperial privileges and status.

These rights and privileges were later ratified by the Quinisext Ecumenical Council in 691 AD.

More recently, in response to the calls of the times, the Church of Cyprus underwent restructuring and reinstituted former Metropolitans and Bishops, in order to better fulfill its historical mission.

Your Holiness,

Despite the small numbers of its flock, the Church of Cyprus holds an eminent position in Orthodoxy and enjoys fraternal relations with all the Churches.

Indeed, as we enter the 21st century, which is the century of dialogue, approach and mutual understanding, we are determined to continue this course, in the belief that this is the will of the All-Merciful Lord.

Once again we express our joy and sense of honor at having you here among us today.

We wish you a pleasant stay in Cyprus and a safe return to your cathedra.

Chrysostomos Archbishop of Cyprus
Holy Archbishopric of Cyprus
5 June 2010


Papal Words at Meeting With Cypriot Catholics
"Be Strong in Your Faith, Joyful in God's Service and Generous"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today at a meeting with the Catholic community of Cyprus, held at the sports field of St. Maron primary school.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

It gives me great joy to be with you, the representatives of the Catholic community in Cyprus.

I thank Archbishop Soueif for his kind words of welcome on your behalf and I thank in a special way the children for their beautiful presentation. I also greet His Beatitude Patriarch Fouad Twal, and salute the great and patient work of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land in the person of Father Pizzaballa, here with us today.

On this historic occasion of the first visit of the Bishop of Rome to Cyprus, I come to confirm you in your faith in Jesus Christ and to encourage you to remain of one heart and one soul in fidelity to the apostolic tradition (cf. Acts 4:32). As the Successor of Peter, I stand among you today to offer you the assurance of my support, my affectionate prayers and my encouragement.

We have just heard from the Gospel of John how some Greeks, who had learned of the great works which Jesus was performing, approached the Apostle Philip and said, "We wish to see Jesus" (cf. Jn 12:21). These words touch all of us deeply. Like the men and women in the Gospel, we wish to see Jesus, to know him, to love and to serve him, with "one heart and soul".

Furthermore, like the voice from heaven in today's Gospel which testified to the glory of God's name, the Church proclaims his name not simply for her own sake, but for the good of humanity as a whole (cf. Jn 12:30). You too, Christ's followers of today, are called to live your faith in the world by adding your voices and actions to the promotion of the Gospel values handed down to you by generations of Cypriot Christians. These values, deeply embedded in your own culture as well as in the patrimony of the universal Church, should continue to inspire your efforts to promote peace, justice and respect for human life and the dignity of your fellow citizens. In this way, your fidelity to the Gospel will surely benefit all Cypriot society.

Dear brothers and sisters, given your unique circumstances, I would also like to draw your attention to an essential part of our Church's life and mission, namely the search for greater unity in charity with other Christians and dialogue with those who are not Christians. Especially since the Second Vatican Council, the Church has been committed to advancing along the path of greater understanding with our fellow Christans with a view to ever stronger ties of love and fellowship among all the baptized. Given your circumstances, you are able to make your personal contribution to the goal of greater Christian unity in your daily lives. Let me encourage you to do so, confident that the Spirit of the Lord, who prayed that his followers might be one (cf. Jn 17:21), will accompany you in this important task.

With regard to interreligious dialogue, much still needs to be done throughout the world. This is another area where Catholics in Cyprus often live in circumstances which afford them opportunities for right and prudent action. Only by patient work can mutual trust be built, the burden of history overcome, and the political and cultural differences between peoples become a motive to work for deeper understanding. I urge you to help create such mutual trust between Christians and non-Christians as a basis for building lasting peace and harmony between peoples of different religions, political regions and cultural backgrounds.

Dear friends, I would invite you to look to the profound communion that you already share among yourselves and with the Catholic Church throughout the world. With regard to the immediate needs of the Church, I encourage you to pray for and to foster vocations to the priesthood and religious life. As this Year for Priests draws to a close, the Church has gained a renewed awareness of the need for good, holy and well-formed priests. She needs men and women religious completely committed to Christ and to the spread of God's reign on earth. Our Lord has promised that those who lay down their lives in imitation of him will keep them for eternal life (cf. Jn 12:25). I ask parents to ponder this promise and to encourage their children to respond generously to the Lord's call. I urge pastors to attend to the young, to their needs and aspirations, and to form them in the fullness of the faith.

Here in this Catholic school, let me also address a word to those working in the Catholic schools of the island, especially the teachers. Your work is part of a long and esteemed tradition of the Catholic Church in Cyprus. Continue patiently to serve the good of the whole community by striving for educational excellence. May the Lord bless you abundantly in the sacred trust which is the formation of almighty God's most precious gift to us - our children.

I now address a special word to you, my dear young Catholics of Cyprus. Be strong in your faith, joyful in God's service and generous with your time and talents! Help to build a better future for the Church and for your country in placing the good of others before your own.

Dear Catholics of Cyprus, foster your own harmony in communion with the universal Church and with the Successor of Peter, and build up your fraternal bonds with each other in faith, hope and love.

In a special way, I wish to consign this message to those present who come from Kormakiti, Asomatos, Karpasha, and Agia Marina. I know of your desires and sufferings, and I ask you to carry my blessing, my closeness, and my affection to all who come from your villages, where Christians are a people of hope. For my part, I fervently hope and pray that with the commitment of good will of those concerned, a better life for all the inhabitants of the island will be speedily assured.

With these few words, I entrust all of you to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the intercession of Saints Paul and Barnabas.

God bless you all!


Homily of Pontiff at Mass With Priests, Religious
"The Cross ... Represents the Definitive Triumph of God's Love"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 5, 2010 - Here is the homily Benedict XVI delivered today at the Latin parish Church of the Holy Cross, which was attended by priests, religious, deacons, catechists and representatives of Cyprian ecclesial movements.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

The Son of Man must be lifted up, so that whoever believes in him may have eternal life (cf. Jn 3:14-15). In this Votive Mass we adore and praise our Lord Jesus Christ, because by his Holy Cross he has redeemed the world. Through his death and resurrection he has thrown open the gates of heaven and he has prepared a place for us, so that we, his followers, may be granted a share in his glory.

In the joy of Christ’s saving victory, I greet all of you gathered here in Holy Cross Church and I thank you for your presence. I greatly appreciate the warmth of the reception you have given me. I am particularly grateful to His Beatitude the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem for his words of welcome at the beginning of Mass and for the presence of the Father Custos of the Holy Land. Here in Cyprus, a land that was the first port of call on Saint Paul’s missionary journeys across the Mediterranean, I come among you today, following in the great Apostle’s footsteps, to strengthen you in your Christian faith and to preach the Gospel that offers life and hope to the world.

The focus of our celebration today is the Cross of Christ. Many might be tempted to ask why we Christians celebrate an instrument of torture, a sign of suffering, defeat and failure. It is true that the Cross expresses all these things. And yet, because of him who was lifted up on the Cross for our salvation, it also represents the definitive triumph of God’s love over all the evil in the world.

There is an ancient tradition that the wood of the Cross was taken from a tree planted by Adam’s son Seth over the place where Adam was buried. On that very spot, known as Golgotha, the place of the skull, Seth planted a seed from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree in the midst of the Garden of Eden. Through God’s providence, the work of the Evil One would be undone by turning his own weapons against him.

Beguiled by the serpent, Adam had foresaken his filial trust in God and sinned by biting into the fruit of the one tree in the garden that was forbidden to him. In consequence of that sin, suffering and death came into the world. The tragic effects of sin, suffering and death were all too evident in the history of Adam’s descendants. We see this in our first reading today, with its echoes of the Fall and its prefiguring of Christ’s redemption.

As a punishment for their sin, the people of Israel, languishing in the desert, were bitten by serpents and could only be saved from death by looking upon the emblem that Moses raised up, foreshadowing the Cross that would put an end to sin and death once and for all. We see clearly that man cannot save himself from the consequences of his sin. He cannot save himself from death. Only God can release him from his moral and physical enslavement. And because he loved the world so much, he sent his only-begotten Son, not to condemn the world – as justice seemed to demand – but so that through him the world might be saved. God’s only-begotten Son had to be lifted up just as Moses lifted up the serpent in the desert, so that all who looked upon him with faith might have life.

The wood of the Cross became the vehicle for our redemption, just as the tree from which it was fashioned had occasioned the Fall of our first parents. Suffering and death, which had been a consequence of sin, were to become the very means by which sin was vanquished. The innocent Lamb was slain on the altar of the Cross, and yet from the immolation of the victim new life burst forth: the power of evil was destroyed by the power of self-sacrificing love.

The Cross, then, is something far greater and more mysterious than it at first appears. It is indeed an instrument of torture, suffering and defeat, but at the same time it expresses the complete transformation, the definitive reversal of these evils: that is what makes it the most eloquent symbol of hope that the world has ever seen. It speaks to all who suffer – the oppressed, the sick, the poor, the outcast, the victims of violence – and it offers them hope that God can transform their suffering into joy, their isolation into communion, their death into life. It offers unlimited hope to our fallen world.

That is why the world needs the Cross. The Cross is not just a private symbol of devotion, it is not just a badge of membership of a certain group within society, and in its deepest meaning it has nothing to do with the imposition of a creed or a philosophy by force. It speaks of hope, it speaks of love, it speaks of the victory of non-violence over oppression, it speaks of God raising up the lowly, empowering the weak, conquering division, and overcoming hatred with love. A world without the Cross would be a world without hope, a world in which torture and brutality would go unchecked, the weak would be exploited and greed would have the final word. Man’s inhumanity to man would be manifested in ever more horrific ways, and there would be no end to the vicious cycle of violence. Only the Cross puts an end to it. While no earthly power can save us from the consequences of our sins, and no earthly power can defeat injustice at its source, nevertheless the saving intervention of our loving God has transformed the reality of sin and death into its opposite. That is what we celebrate when we glory in the Cross of our Redeemer. Rightly does Saint Andrew of Crete describe the Cross as “more noble, more precious than anything on earth […] for in it and through it and for it all the riches of our salvation were stored away and restored to us” (Oratio X; PG 97, 1018-1019).

Dear brother priests, dear religious, dear catechists, the message of the Cross has been entrusted to us, so that we can offer hope to the world. When we proclaim Christ crucified we are proclaiming not ourselves, but him. We are not offering our own wisdom to the world, nor are we claiming any merit of our own, but we are acting as channels for his wisdom, his love, his saving merits. We know that we are merely earthenware vessels, and yet, astonishingly, we have been chosen to be heralds of the saving truth that the world needs to hear. Let us never cease to marvel at the extraordinary grace that has been given to us, let us never cease to acknowledge our unworthiness, but at the same time let us always strive to become less unworthy of our noble calling, lest through our faults and failings we weaken the credibility of our witness.

In this Year for Priests, let me address a special word to the priests present today, and to those who are preparing for ordination. Reflect on the words spoken to a newly ordained priest as the Bishop presents him with the chalice and paten: “Understand what you do, imitate what you celebrate, and conform your life to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross”. As we proclaim the Cross of Christ, let us always strive to imitate the selfless love of the one who offered himself for us on the altar of the Cross, the one who is both priest and victim, the one in whose person we speak and act when we exercise the ministry that we have received. As we reflect on our shortcomings, individually and collectively, let us humbly acknowledge that we have merited the punishment that he, the innocent Lamb, suffered on our behalf. And if, in accordance with what we have deserved, we should have some share in Christ’s sufferings, let us rejoice because we will enjoy a much greater gladness when his glory is revealed.

In my thoughts and prayers I am especially mindful of the many priests and religious in the Middle East who are currently experiencing a particular call to conform their lives to the mystery of the Lord’s Cross. Through the difficulties facing their communities as a result of the conflicts and tensions of the region, many families are taking the decision to move away, and it can be tempting for their pastors to do likewise. In situations of this kind, though, a priest, a religious community, a parish that remains steadfast and continues to bear witness to Christ is an extraordinary sign of hope, not only for the Christians but for all who live in the region. Their presence alone is an eloquent expression of the Gospel of peace, the determination of the Good Shepherd to care for all the sheep, the Church’s unyielding commitment to dialogue, reconciliation and loving acceptance of the other. By embracing the Cross that is held out to them, the priests and religious of the Middle East can truly radiate the hope that lies at the heart of the mystery we are celebrating in our liturgy today.

Let us all take heart from the words of our second reading today, which speak so beautifully of the triumph that was in store for Christ after his death on the Cross, a triumph in which we are invited to share. “For God raised him high and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Phil 2:9-10).

Yes, beloved brothers and sisters in Christ, far be it from us to glory except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Gal. 6:14). He is our life, our salvation and our resurrection; through him we are saved and set free.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


On Mary's Example of Hope
"We, Her Children, Live in the Same Confident Hope"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus with the faithful gathered at the Eleftheria Sports Centre in Nicosia.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

At the midday hour it is the Church's tradition to turn in prayer to the Blessed Virgin Mary, joyfully recalling her ready acceptance of the Lord's invitation to become the mother of God. It was an invitation that filled her with trepidation, one which she could scarcely even comprehend. It was a sign that God had chosen her, his lowly handmaid, to cooperate with him in his saving work. How we rejoice at the generosity of her response! Through her "yes", the hope of the ages became a reality, the One whom Israel had long awaited came into the world, into our history. Of him the angel promised that his kingdom would have no end (cf. Lk 1:33).

Some thirty years later, as Mary stood weeping at the foot of the cross, it must have been hard to keep that hope alive. The forces of darkness seemed to have gained the upper hand. And yet, deep down, she would have remembered the angel's words. Even amid the desolation of Holy Saturday the certitude of hope carried her forward into the joy of Easter morning. And so we, her children, live in the same confident hope that the Word made flesh in Mary's womb will never abandon us. He, the Son of God and Son of Mary, strengthens the communion that binds us together, so that we can bear witness to him and to the power of his healing and reconciling love.

I would now like to say a few words in Polish on the happy occasion of the beatification today of Jerzy Popie?uszko, priest and martyr.

Serdeczne pozdrowienie kieruje; do Kos'cio?a w Polsce, który dzis' raduje sie; wyniesieniem na o?tarze ksie;dza Jerzego Popie?uszki. Jego ofiarna pos?uga i me;czen'stwo sa; szczególnym znakiem zwycie;stwa dobra nad z?em. Niech jego przyk?ad i wstawiennictwo budzi gorliwos'c' kap?anów i rozpala mi?os'c' wiernych.

[I send cordial greetings to the Church in Poland which today rejoices at the elevation to the altars of Father Jerzy Popie?uszko. His zealous service and his martyrdom are a special sign of the victory of good over evil. May his example and his intercession nourish the zeal of priests and enkindle the faithful with love.]

Let us now implore Mary our Mother to intercede for all of us, for the people of Cyprus, and for the Church throughout the Middle East with Christ, her Son, the Prince of Peace.


Pontiff's Farewell Address in Cyprus Airport
"Let Us All Redouble Our Efforts to Build a Real and Lasting Peace"

LARNACA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the farewell address Benedict XVI gave today at the Larnaca International Airport, at the conclusion of his apostolic trip to Cyprus.

* * *

Mr President,
Distinguished Authorities,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

The time has now come for me to leave you, after my brief but fruitful Apostolic Journey to Cyprus.

Mr President, I thank you for your kind words and I am happy to express my gratitude to you for all that you, your Government and the civil and military authorities have done to make my visit such a memorable and successful one.

As I depart your shores, like many pilgrims before me I am reminded again of how the Mediterranean is made up of a rich mosaic of peoples with their distinctive cultures and their beauty, their warmth and their humanity. In spite of that reality, the Eastern Mediterranean is at the same time no stranger to conflict and bloodshed, as we have tragically witnessed in recent days. Let us all redouble our efforts to build a real and lasting peace for all the peoples of the region.

Together with that general objective, Cyprus can play a particular role in promoting dialogue and cooperation. Striving patiently for the peace of your own hearths and for the prosperity of your neighbours, you will then be well placed to hear and understand all sides of many complex issues, and to help peoples to come to a greater understanding of one another. The path that you are taking, Mr President, is one which the international community looks to with great interest and hope, and I note with satisfaction all the efforts that have been made to favour peace for your people and for the whole island of Cyprus.

As I give thanks to God for these days which saw the first encounter of the Catholic community in Cyprus with the Successor of Peter on their own soil, I also recall with gratitude my meetings with other Christian leaders, in particular with His Beatitude Chrysostomos the Second and the other representatives of the Church of Cyprus, whom I thank for their brotherly welcome. I hope that my visit here will be seen as another step along the path that was opened up before us by the embrace in Jerusalem of the late Patriarch Athenagoras and my venerable predecessor Pope Paul the Sixth. Their first prophetic steps together show us the road that we too must tread. We have a divine call to be brothers, walking side by side in the faith, humble before almighty God, and with unbreakable bonds of affection for one another. As I invite my fellow Christians to continue this journey, I would assure them that the Catholic Church, with the Lord's grace, will herself pursue the goal of perfect unity in charity through an ever deepening appreciation of what Catholics and Orthodox hold dearest.

Let me also express again my sincere hope and prayer that, together, Christians and Muslims will become a leaven for peace and reconciliation among Cypriots and serve as an example to other countries.

Finally, Mr President, let me encourage you and your Government in your high responsibilities. As you well know, among your most important tasks is that of assuring the peace and security of all Cypriots. Having stayed these past nights in the Apostolic Nunciature, which happens to be in the United Nations buffer zone, I have seen for myself something of the sad division of the island, as well as learning of the loss of a significant part of a cultural heritage which belongs to all humanity. I have also listened to Cypriots from the north who wish to return in peace to their homes and places of worship, and I have been deeply moved by their pleas. Surely truth and reconciliation, together with respect, are the soundest foundation for the united and peaceful future of this island, and for the stability and prosperity of all her people. Much good has been achieved in this regard through substantive dialogue in recent years, though much remains to be done to overcome divisions. Let me encourage you and your fellow citizens to work patiently and steadfastly with your neighbours to build a better and more certain future for all your children. As you do so, be assured of my prayers for the peace of all Cyprus.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Presentation of Mideast Synod Document
"The Middle East Has a Special Place in the Hearts of All Christians"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today at the Eleftheria Sports Centre in Nicosia, before presenting the "instrumentum laboris" (working document) for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome this upcoming October 10-24.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I thank Archbishop Eterovic' for his kind words, and I renew my greetings to all of you who have come here in connection with the launch of the forthcoming Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I thank you for all the work that has been accomplished already in anticipation of the Synodal Assembly, and I promise you the support of my prayers as you enter this final phase of preparation.

Before I begin, it is only fitting that I recall the late Bishop Luigi Padovese who, as President of the Turkish Catholic Bishops, contributed to the preparation of the Instrumentum Laboris that I am consigning to you today. News of his unforeseen and tragic death on Thursday surprised and shocked all of us. I entrust his soul to the mercy of almighty God, mindful of how committed he was, especially as a bishop, to interreligious and cultural understanding, and to dialogue between the Churches. His death is a sobering reminder of the vocation that all Christians share, to be courageous witnesses in every circumstance to what is good, noble and just.

The motto chosen for the Assembly speaks to us of communion and witness, and it reminds us how the members of the early Christian community "were of one heart and soul". At the centre of the Church's unity is the Eucharist, Christ's inestimable gift to his people and the focus of our liturgical celebration today on this Solemnity of the Lord's Body and Blood. So it is not without significance that the date chosen for the Instrumentum Laboris of the Special Assembly to be consigned should be today.

The Middle East has a special place in the hearts of all Christians, since it was there that God first made himself known to our fathers in faith. From the time when Abraham set out from Ur of the Chaldeans in obedience to the Lord's call, right up until the death and resurrection of Jesus, God's saving work was accomplished through particular individuals and peoples in your homelands. Since then, the message of the Gospel has spread all over the world, but Christians everywhere continue to look to the Middle East with special reverence, on account of the prophets and patriarchs, apostles and martyrs to whom we owe so much, the men and women who heard God's word, bore witness to it, and handed it on to us who belong to the great family of the Church.

The Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, convened at your request, will attempt to deepen the bonds of communion between the members of your local Churches, and the communion of these churches with each other and with the universal Church. The Assembly also aims to encourage you in the witness of your faith in Christ in those countries where the faith was born and from where it spread. It is also known that some of you have endured great hardships due to the current situation in the region. The Special Assembly is an opportunity for Christians from the rest of the world to offer spiritual support and solidarity to their brothers and sisters in the Middle East. This is an opportunity to highlight the significant value of the Christian presence and witness in countries of the Bible, not only for the Christian community worldwide, but also for your neighbours and fellow citizens. You are help the common good in countless ways, for example through education, health care and social assistance, and you work to build society. You want to live in peace and harmony with your Jew and Muslim neighbours. Often, you act as peacemakers in the difficult process of reconciliation. You deserve recognition for the invaluable role you fill. This is my serious hope that your rights are increasingly respected, including the right to freedom of worship and religious freedom, and that you will never again suffer discrimination of any kind.

I pray that the work of the Special Assembly will help to focus the attention of the international community on the plight of those Christians in the Middle East who suffer for their beliefs, so that just and lasting solutions may be found to the conflicts that cause so much hardship. On this grave matter, I reiterate my personal appeal for an urgent and concerted international effort to resolve the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, especially in the Holy Land, before such conflicts lead to greater bloodshed.

With these thoughts, I now present to you the text of the Instrumentum Laboris of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. God bless your work abundantly! God bless all the peoples of the Middle East!

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Homily at Eleftheria Sports Centre
"Christ Is Alive in Us, His Body, the Church"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today in a Mass at the Eleftheria Sports Centre in Nicosia, in which he presented the "instrumentum laboris" (working document) for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place in Rome in October.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I greet with joy the Patriarchs and Bishops of the various ecclesial communities of the Middle East who have come to Cyprus for this occasion, and I thank especially the Most Reverend Youssef Soueif, Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus, for the words that he addressed to me at the start of Mass.

Let me also say how glad I am to have this opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist in the company of so many of the faithful of Cyprus, a land blessed by the apostolic labours of Saint Paul and Saint Barnabas. I greet all of you most warmly and I thank you for your hospitality and for the generous welcome you have given me. I extend a particular greeting to the Filipino, Sri Lankan and other immigrant communities who form such a significant grouping within the Catholic population of this island. I pray that your presence here will enrich the life and worship of the parishes to which you belong, and that you in turn will draw much spiritual sustenance from the ancient Christian heritage of the land that you have made your home.

Today, we celebrate the Solemnity of the Lord's Body and Blood. Corpus Christi, the name given to this feast in the West, is used in the Church's tradition to designate three distinct realities: the physical body of Jesus, born of the Virgin Mary, his Eucharistic body, the bread of heaven which nourishes us in this great sacrament, and his ecclesial body, the Church. By reflecting on these different aspects of the Corpus Christi, we come to a deeper understanding of the mystery of communion which binds together those who belong to the Church. All who feed on the body and blood of Christ in the Eucharist are "brought together in unity by the Holy Spirit" (Eucharistic Prayer II) to form God's one holy people. Just as the Holy Spirit came down upon the Apostles in the Upper Room in Jerusalem, so too the same Holy Spirit is at work in every celebration of Mass for a twofold purpose: to sanctify the gifts of bread and wine, that they may become the body and blood of Christ, and to fill all who are nourished by these holy gifts, that they may become one body, one spirit in Christ.

St. Augustine expresses this process beautifully (cf. Sermon 272). He reminds us that the bread is not made from a single grain, but many. Before all these grains become bread, they must be ground. He is referring here to the exorcism which catechumens must undergo before their baptism. Each of us who belong to the Church needs to leave the closed world of his individuality and accept the 'companionship' of others who "break bread" with us. We must think not in terms of 'me' but 'we'. That's why every day we pray 'our' Father, 'our' daily bread. Breaking down the barriers between us and our neighbours is the first prerequisite for entering the divine life to which we are called. We need to be liberated from all that imprisons us and isolates us: fear and mistrust towards others, greed and selfishness, unwillingness to run the risk of vulnerability to which we expose ourselves when we are open to love".

The grains of wheat, once crushed, are mixed into the dough and baked. Here, Augustine refers to immersion in the baptismal waters followed by the sacramental gift of the Holy Spirit, which inflames the heart of the faithful with the fire of God's love. This process unites and transforms a single isolated grain into bread, it gives us an evocative image of the unifying action of the Holy Spirit upon the church members, made so prominent in the celebration of the Eucharist. Those who take part in this great sacrament become the Body of Christ's Church, so they feed his Eucharistic Body. "Be what you can see," says St. Augustine encouraging, "and receive what you are."

These strong words invite us to respond generously to the call to "be Christ" to those around us. We are his body now on earth. To paraphrase a famous remark attributed to Saint Teresa of Avila, we are the eyes with which he looks with compassion on those in need, we are the hands with which he seeks to bless and to heal, we are the feet that on which he walks to do well, and we are the lips by which his Gospel is proclaimed. However, it is important to understand that when we participate in his healing work, we are not honouring the memory of a dead hero in extending what he did: on the contrary, Christ is alive in us, his body, the Church, his priestly people. By feeding on Him in the Eucharist and receiving the Holy Spirit in our hearts we truly become the Body of Christ that we receive, we are truly in communion with him and with each other, and we truly become instruments, in witness to him before the world.

"Now the company of those who believed were of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32). In the first Christian community, nourished at the Lord's Table, we see the effects of the Holy Spirit's unifying action. They shared their goods in common, all material attachment being overcome by love for the brethren. They found equitable solutions to their differences, as we see for example in the resolution of the dispute between Hellenists and Hebrews over the daily distribution (cf. Acts 6:1-6). As one observer commented at a later date: "See how these Christians love one another, and how they are ready to die for one another" (Tertullian, Apology, 39). Yet their love was by no means limited to their fellow believers. They never saw themselves as exclusive, privileged beneficiaries of divine favour, but rather as messengers, sent to bring the good news of salvation in Christ to the ends of the earth. And so it was that the message entrusted to the Apostles by the Risen Lord was spread throughout the Middle East, and outwards from there across the whole of the world.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are called, just as they were, to be of one heart and one soul, to deepen our communion with the Lord and with one another, and to bear witness to him before the world.

We are called to overcome our differences, to bring peace and reconciliation where there is conflict, to offer the world a message of hope. We are called to reach out to those in need, generously sharing our earthly goods with those less fortunate than ourselves. And we are called to proclaim unceasingly the death and resurrection of the Lord, until he comes. Through him, with him and in him, in the unity that is the Holy Spirit's gift to the Church, let us give honour and glory to God our heavenly Father in the company of all the angels and saints who sing his praises forever. Amen.

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Greeting at Maronite Cathedral in Cyprus
"Moved by a Father's Care, I Am Close to All the Faithful"

NICOSIA, Cyprus, JUNE 6, 2010- Here is a Vatican translation of the greeting Benedict XVI gave today in a visit to the cathedral of the Maronite Church of Cyprus.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

I am very pleased to make this visit to the Cathedral of Our Lady of Graces. I thank Archbishop Youssef Soueif for his kind words of welcome on behalf of the Maronite community in Cyprus, and I cordially greet all of you with the words of the Apostle: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (1 Cor 1:3)!

As I visit this building, in my heart I make a spiritual pilgrimage to every Maronite church of the island. Be assured that, moved by a father's care, I am close to all the faithful of those ancient communities.

This Cathedral church in some way represents the very long and rich -- and sometimes turbulent -- history of the Maronite community in Cyprus. Maronites came to these shores at various times throughout the centuries and were often hard-pressed to remain faithful to their distinct Christian heritage. Nevertheless, in spite of their faith being tested like gold in a fire (cf. 1 Pet 1:7), they remained constant in the faith of their fathers, a faith which has now been passed on to you, the Maronite Cypriots of today. I urge you to treasure this great inheritance, this precious gift.

This Cathedral building also reminds us of an important spiritual truth. Saint Peter tells us that we Christians are the living stones which are being "built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ" (1 Pet 2:4-5). Together with Christians throughout the world, we are part of that great temple which is the Mystical Body of Christ. Our spiritual worship, offered in many tongues, in many places and in a beautiful variety of liturgies, is an expression of the one voice of the People of God, united in praise and thanksgiving to him and in enduring communion with each other. This communion, which we hold so dear, impels us to carry the Good News of our new life in Christ to all mankind.

This is the charge I leave with you today: I pray that your Church, in union with all your pastors and with the Bishop of Rome, may grow in holiness, in fidelity to the Gospel and in love for the Lord and for one another.

Commending you and your families, and especially your beloved children to the intercession of Saint Maron, I willingly impart to all of you my Apostolic Blessing.


Benedict XVI's Words En Route to Cyprus
"There Is a Great and Ancient Christianity in the Middle East"

ABOARD THE PAPAL PLANE, JUNE 6, 2010 - Here is a translation of the press conference Benedict XVI gave Friday en route to his three-day apostolic trip to Cyprus.

* * *

Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, we would like to thank you for being with us, as on every trip, and for speaking with us to orient our attention in these days that will be quite intense. Unfortunately, the first question, of course, must be about the matter that struck us so sadly yesterday, the assassination of Bishop Padovese, and which was an occasion of deep sorrow for you. So, on behalf of all my colleagues, I wanted to ask you to say a word about how you took this news and how you are experiencing the trip to Cyprus in this atmosphere.

Benedict XVI: Naturally, I am deeply saddened by the death of Bishop Padovese, who contributed a great deal to the preparation of the Synod; he collaborated, and he would have been a precious part of this Synod. Let us recommend his soul to the goodness of the Lord. This shadow, however, has nothing to do with the themes themselves and the reality of the trip, becaue we must not attribute this deed to Turkey or Turks. It is something about which we have little information. It is certain that it is not a political or religious assassination; it is rather something personal. We still await all the explanations, but we do not wish now to mix up this tragic situation with dialogue with Islam and with all the issues of our trip. It is an unrelated matter that causes sadness but must not in any way cloud the dialogue in all senses that will be the theme of this trip.

Father Lombardi: Cyprus is a divided land. Your Holiness, you will not go to the northern part occupied by the Turks. Do you have a message for the inhabitants of that region? And how do you think that your visit will contribute to closing the distance between the Greek part and the Turkish part, to moving toward a solution of peaceful coexistence, in respect to religious freedom, to the spiritual and cultural patrimony of the different communities?

Benedict XVI: This trip to Cyprus is, in many senses, a continuation of last year's trip to the Holy Land and this year's trip to Malta. The trip to the Holy Land had three parts: Jordan, Israel and the Palestinian territories. In all three it was a matter of a pastoral, religious trip; it was not a political or tourist trip. The fundamental theme was the peace of Christ, which must be universal peace in the world. So the theme was, on the one hand, the announcement of our faith, the witness to the faith, the pilgrimage to these places that witness to the life of Christ and all of sacred history; on the other hand, the common responsibility of all who believe in God the Creator of heaven and earth, in a God in whose image we are created.

Malta and Cyprus powerfully add the theme of St. Paul, great believer, evangelizer, and St. Barnabas too, who is a Cypriot and who had opened the door to the mission of St. Paul. So, witness to our faith in the one God, dialogue and peace are the themes. Peace in a very profound sense: it is not a political add-on to our religious activity, but peace is a word of the heart of our faith, it is at the center of the Pauline teaching; we think of the Letter to the Ephesians, where it says that Christ brought peace, that he destroyed the walls of enmity. This remains a permanent mandate; thus, I do not go with a political message, but with a religious message, that must prepare souls more to find openness for peace. These are not things that go from today to tomorrow, but it is very important not only to take the necessary political steps, but above to prepare souls to be capable of taking the necessary political steps, to create that interior openness for peace, that, in the end, comes from faith in God and from the conviction that we are all sons of God and brothers and sisters to each other.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness. This next question is very much in continuity with the previous one, however, I will ask it anyway, in such a way that if you would like to add something else, you can. You are going to the Middle East a few days after the Israeli attack on the flotilla off Gaza added tensions to the already difficult peace process. How do you think that the Holy See can contribute to overcoming this difficult moment for the Middle East?

Benedict XVI: I would say that we contribute above all in a religious way. We can also be of help with political and strategic advice, but the essential work of the Vatican is always that which is religious, that touches the heart. With all of these episodes that we experience, there is always the danger that one loses patience, that one says "Enough now," and does not want to seek peace any longer. And here there comes to my mind, in this Year for Priests, a beautiful story about the Curé of Ars. To the people who said to him "It doesn't make sense that I go to confession now and receive absolution because after tomorrow I am sure to fall into the same sins again," the Curé of Ars answered: "It doesn't matter. The Lord willingly forgets that after tomorrow you will commit the same sins. He pardons you now completely, he will be forbearing, and continue to help you, to come to you." So, we must almost imitate God, his patience. After all the cases of violence, do not lose patience, do not lose courage, do not lose the longanimity to start again; create these dispositions of heart always to start again, in the certainty that we can make progress, that we can arrive at peace, that violence is not the solution, but the patience of goodness. It seems to me that creating this disposition is the principal work that the Vatican and its structures and the Pope can do.

Father Lombardi: Thank you! Let's move to another topic, that of ecumenism. Your Holiness, dialogue with the Orthodox has taken many steps forward from the cultural, spiritual and life perspective. On the occasion of the recent concert given as a gift to you by the Patriarch of Moscow one felt a deep harmony between the Orthodox and Catholics in the face of the challenges posed to Christianity in Europe by secularization. But what is your view on the dialogue, also from the more properly theological perspective?

Benedict XVI: I would like first of all to stress this great progress that we have made in the common witness to Christian values in the secularized world. Let's say that this is not just a moral, political coalition, but truly something that is deeply of faith, because the fundamental values by which we live in this secularized world are not moralisms, fundamental physiognomy of the Christian faith. When we are able together to witness to these values, to engage in dialogue, in discussion about this world, in the witness to live these values, we have already given a fundamental testimony to a very profound unity of faith. Naturally, there are many theological problems, but here too the elements of unity are strong. I would like to indicate three elements that bind us, that show us to be ever closer, make us ever closer.

First, Scripture. The Bible is not a book that fell out of the sky, that exists now and everyone picks up, but a book that grew in the people of God and lies in this common subject of the people of God and only here does it remain ever present and real, that is, the Bible cannot be isolated, rather, the Bible stands within the nexus of tradition and Church. This awareness is fundamental and belongs to the foundation of Orthodoxy and Catholicism and gives us a common road.

As a second element, let us say the tradition that interprets us, that opens the doors of Scripture to us, also has an institutional, sacred form, sacredly willed by the Lord, namely, the episcopacy; it has a personal form, that is, the college of bishops is together a witness and presence of this tradition.

And the third point: the so-called "regula fidei," that is, the confession of faith elaborated in the ancient councils is the summary of what is in Scripture and opens the "doors" of interpretation. Then there are other elements: the liturgy, the common love for Mary bind us deeply and more and more it becomes clear to us too that they are the foundation of the Christian life. We must be more aware of and delve into the details, but it seems to me that even if the different cultures, the different situations, created misunderstandings and difficulties, we grow in the consciousness of the essential and of the unity of the essential. I would like to add that it is not theological discussion that by itself creates unity; it is an important dimension, but the whole Christian life, getting to know each other, the experience of fraternity, learning, despite the experience of the past, this common fraternity, these are experiences that also demand great patience. But it seems to me that we are indeed learning patience and love, and with all the dimensions of theological dialogue we move forward, leaving it up to the Lord the time when he will grant us perfect unity.

Father Lombardi: And now one last question. One of the purposes of this trip is the consignment of the working paper of the Synod of Bishops for the Middle East. What are your principal expectations and hopes for this Synod, for the Christian communities and for the believers of other faiths in this region?

Benedict XVI: The first important point is that different bishops, heads of different Churches will be here, because we have so many Churches -- various rites are dispersed in different countries, in different situations -- and they often appear isolated, often they also have little information from the other; seeing them together, meeting together, and thus becoming aware of each other, of the problems, of the differences and the common situations, forming together a judgment about the situation, about the road to take. This concrete communion of dialogue and life is the first point. Second is also the visibility of these Churches, that it is seen, that is, by the world that there is a great and ancient Christianity in the Middle East, that often is not before our eyes, and that this visibility also help to be closer to them, to deepen our mutual knowledge, to learn from each other, to help each other, and in this way help also the Christians of the Middle East not to lose hope, to stay, even if the situations can be difficult. Thus -- the third point -- in the dialogue between them they also open to dialogue with the other Orthodox Christians, Armenians, etc., and develop a common awareness of Christian responsibility and also a common capacity for dialogue with the Muslim brothers, who are brothers, despite the differences; and it seems to me that there should likewise be encouragement, regardless of all the problems, to continue, with a common vision, the dialogue with them. All the efforts at a coexistence that is ever more fruitful and fraternal are very important. This is therefore a meeting within the Catholic Christianity of the Middle East in the different rites, but it is also a meeting of opening up, of renewed capacity for dialogue, of courage and hope for the future.

Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness, for this wide panorama and thanks especially such a positive and encouraging vision that you gave us of the purpose of this trip. So we truly wish you well so that the trip unfolds in this atmosphere and with these results, and let's try to work together for good information to this end. Thank you, Your Holiness, and have a good trip!

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana



Holy Father's Homily at Corpus Christi Mass
"In What Sense Is Jesus a Priest?"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Thursday at the Mass preceding the Eucharistic procession held on the solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ.

The Pope presided at the Mass in the courtyard of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and the procession that followed via Merulana and ended at the Basilica of St. Mary Major.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The priesthood of the New Testament is closely bound to the Eucharist. Because of this, today, on the solemnity of Corpus Domini and almost at the end of the Year for Priests, we are invited to meditate on the relationship between the Eucharist and the priesthood of Christ. Oriented in this direction also are the first reading and the responsorial psalm, which present the figure of Melchizedek.

The brief passage from the Book of Genesis (cf. 14:18-20) states that Melchizedek, king of Salem, was "priest of God Most High," and because of this "offered bread and wine" and "blessed Abram," returning from a victory in battle; Abram himself gave him a tenth of everything. The Psalm, in turn, contains in the last verse a solemn expression, an oath of God himself, who declares to the King Messiah: "You are a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4); thus the Messiah is not only proclaimed king, but also priest.

From this passage the author of the Letter to the Hebrews takes the cue for his ample and articulated exposition. And we re-echoed it in the refrain: "You are a priest for ever, Lord Christ": virtually a profession of faith, which acquires a particular meaning in today's feast. It is the joy of the community, the joy of the whole Church that, contemplating and adoring the Most Blessed Sacrament, recognizes in it the real and permanent presence of Jesus as High and Eternal Priest.

The second reading and the Gospel, instead, draw attention to the Eucharistic mystery. The First Letter to the Corinthians (cf. 11:23-26) treats the fundamental passage in which St. Paul recalls to that community the meaning and value of the "Lord's Supper," which the Apostle had transmitted and taught, but which risked being lost. The Gospel is the account of the miracle of the loaves and fishes, according to St. Luke: a sign attested by all the Evangelists, which announces beforehand the gift that Christ will make of himself, to give humanity eternal life.

Both of these texts highlight Christ's prayer, in the act of breaking the bread. Of course there is a clear difference between the two moments: When he multiplies the loaves and fishes for the crowd, Jesus thanks the heavenly Father for his Providence, confident that he will not have food lacking for all those people. In the Last Supper, instead, Jesus transforms the bread and wine into his own Body and Blood, so that the disciples can nourish themselves from him and live in profound and real communion with him.

The first thing that one must remember is that Jesus was not a priest according to the Jewish tradition. His was not a priestly family. He did not belong to the lineage of Aaron, but rather to that of Judah; hence, legally, he was precluded from the way of the priesthood. The person and activity of Jesus of Nazareth were not placed in the line of the ancient priests, but rather in that of the prophets.

And in this line, Jesus distanced himself from a ritual conception of religion, criticizing the approach that valued human precepts linked to ritual purity rather than the observance of God's Commandments, that is, love of God and of one's neighbor, which, as the Gospel says, "is worth more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices" (Mark 12:33). Even inside the Temple of Jerusalem, sacred place par excellence, Jesus carries out an exquisitely prophetic gesture, when he chases the moneychangers and animal vendors, all things that served for the offering of traditional sacrifices. Hence, Jesus was not recognized as a priestly Messiah, but as prophetic and royal. Also his death, which we Christians rightly call "sacrifice," had nothing of the ancient sacrifices; rather, it was completely the opposite: the execution of a death penalty by crucifixion, the most infamous, which took place outside the walls of Jerusalem.

Now, in what sense is Jesus a priest? The Eucharist itself says it. We can begin from those simple words that describe Melchizedek: he "offered bread and wine" (Genesis 14:18). It is what Jesus did in the Last Supper: He offered bread and wine, and in that gesture he summarized all of himself and all of his mission. In that act, in the prayer that preceded it and in the words that accompanied it, is all the sense of the mystery of Christ, as it is expressed in the Letter to the Hebrews in a decisive passage, which it is necessary to quote. "In the days of his flesh," wrote the author referring to Jesus, "Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard for his godly fear. Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered; and being made perfect he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek" (5:8-10).

In this text, which clearly alludes to the spiritual agony of Gethsemane, Christ's passion is presented as a prayer and an offering. Jesus faces his "hour," which leads him to death on a cross, immersed in a profound prayer, which consists in the union of his own will with that of the Father. This twofold and unique will is a will of love. Lived in this prayer, the tragic trial that Jesus faces is transformed into offering, into living sacrifice.

The Letter to the Hebrews says that Jesus "was heard." In what sense? In the sense that God the Father delivered him from death and resurrected him. He was heard precisely because of his full abandonment to the will of the Father: God's plan of love was able to be fulfilled perfectly in Jesus, who, having obeyed to the extreme point of death on the cross, became "cause of salvation" for all those who obey him. He became, that is, High Priest for having taken on himself all the sin of the world, as "Lamb of God." It is the Father who confers this priesthood on him at the very moment in which Jesus goes through the passage from his death and resurrection. It is not a priesthood according to the order of the Mosaic Law (cf. Leviticus 8-9), but "according to the order of Melchizedek," according to a prophetic order, depending only on his singular relationship with God.

Let us return to the expression of the Letter to the Hebrews that says: "Although he was a Son, he learned obedience through what he suffered." Christ's priesthood entails suffering. Jesus really suffered, and he did so for us. He was the Son and had no need to learn obedience to God, but we do, we had and always have need. Because of this, the Son assumed our humanity and for us let himself be "educated" in the crucible of suffering, he let himself be transformed by it, as the grain of corn which to bear fruit must die in the earth.

Through this process Jesus was "made perfect," in Greek "teleiotheis." We must reflect on this term because it is very significant. It indicates the fulfillment of a journey, that is, precisely the journey of education and transformation of the Son of God through suffering, through the painful Passion. And thanks to this transformation Jesus Christ became "High Priest" and can save all those who entrust themselves to him.

The term "teleiotheis," translated correctly as "made perfect," belongs to a verbal root that, in the Greek version of the Pentateuch, namely the first five books of the Bible, is always used to indicate the consecration of the ancient priests. This discovery is quite precious, because it tells us that the Passion was for Jesus as a priestly consecration. He was not a priest according to the Law, but he became so essentially in his Passion, Death and Resurrection: He offered himself in expiation and the Father, exalting him above every creature, constituted him universal Mediator of salvation.

We return, in our meditation, to the Eucharist, which in a while will be the center of our liturgical assembly and of the subsequent solemn procession. In it Jesus anticipated his sacrifice, not a ritual sacrifice but a personal one. In the Last Supper he acted moved by that "Eternal Spirit" with which he will offer himself later on the Cross (cf. Hebrews 9:14). Giving thanks and with a blessing, Jesus transformed the bread and wine. It is divine love that transforms: the love with which Jesus accepts in advance to give himself completely for us. This love is none other than the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, which consecrates the bread and wine and changes their substance into the Body and the Blood of the Lord, rendering present in the Sacrament the same sacrifice that is made later in a bloody manner on the cross.

We can conclude that Christ was a true and effective priest because he was full of the power of the Holy Spirit, he was the culmination of all the fullness of the love of God "on the night he was betrayed," precisely in the "hour of darkness" (cf. Luke 22:53). It is this divine power, the same that brought about the Incarnation of the Word, which transformed the extreme violence and the extreme injustice [of his death] into a supreme act of love and justice.

This is the work of the priesthood of Christ, which the Church has inherited and continues to perpetuate, in the twofold form of ordinary priesthood of the baptized and that of the ordained ministers, to transform the world with the love of God. All, priests and faithful, are nourished by the same Eucharist, all of us prostrate ourselves to adore it, because present in it is our Teacher and Lord, present is the real Body of Jesus, Victim and Priest, salvation of the world. Come, let us exult with hymns of joy. Come, let us adore! Amen.


On St. Thomas Aquinas
He "Showed There Is a Natural Harmony Between Christian Faith and Reason"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today for the general audience in St. Peter's Square. The Pope returns to his cycle of catechesis on the great thinkers of the Middle Ages with a reflection on the figure of St. Thomas Aquinas.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After a few catecheses on the priesthood and my latest trips, we return today to our principal theme, namely, to the meditation on some of the great thinkers of the Middle Ages. We saw recently the great figure of St. Bonaventure, Franciscan, and today I would like to speak of him whom the Church calls the Doctor Communis, namely St. Thomas Aquinas.

In his encyclical "Fides et Ratio," my venerated predecessor, Pope John Paul II recalled that "the Church has been justified in consistently proposing St. Thomas a master of thought and a model of the right way to do theology" (No. 43). It is not surprising that, after St. Augustine, among the writers mentioned in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, St. Thomas is quoted more than any other -- some 61 times! He was also called the Doctor Angelicus, perhaps because of his virtues, in particular the loftiness of his thought and purity of life.

Thomas was born between 1224 and 1225 in the castle that his family, noble and wealthy, owned in Roccasecca, on the outskirts of Aquino and near the famous abbey of Montecassino where he was sent by his parents to receive the first elements of his instruction. A year or so later he transferred to Naples, the capital of the Kingdom of Sicily, where Frederick II had founded a prestigious university. There he was taught, without the limitations in force elsewhere, the thought of the Greek philosopher Aristotle, to whom the young Thomas was introduced, and whose great value he intuited immediately.

But above all, during those years spent in Naples, his Dominican vocation was born. In fact, Thomas was attracted by the ideal of the order founded not many years earlier by St. Dominic. However, when he was clothed in the Dominican habit, his family opposed this choice, and he was obliged to leave the convent and spend some time with the family.

In 1245, now older, he was able to take up again his path of response to God's call. He was sent to Paris to study theology under the guidance of another saint, Albert the Great, about whom I spoke recently. Albert and Thomas forged a true and profound friendship and they learned to esteem and wish one another well, to the point that Albert wanted his disciple to follow him also to Cologne, where he had been invited by the superiors of the order to found a theological study. Thomas now made contact with all of Aristotle's works and with his Arab commentators, which Albert illustrated and explained.

In that period, the culture of the Latin world was profoundly stimulated by the encounter with Aristotle's works, which had been ignored for a long time. They were writings on the nature of knowledge, on the natural sciences, on metaphysics, on the soul and on ethics, rich in information and intuition that seemed valid and convincing. It was a whole complete vision of the world developed without and before Christ, with pure reason, and it seemed to impose itself on reason as "the" vision itself; hence, it was an incredible fascination for young people to see and know this philosophy. Many received with enthusiasm, and some with acritical enthusiasm, this enormous baggage of ancient learning, which seemed to be able to renew the culture advantageously, to open totally new horizons. Others, however, feared that Aristotle's pagan thought was in opposition to the Christian faith, and they refused to study him. Two cultures met: the pre-Christian culture of Aristotle, with his radical rationality, and the classic Christian culture.

Certain environments were led to refuse Aristotle, as well as the presentation that was made of this philosopher by the Arab commentators Avicenna and Averroes. In fact, they were the ones who transmitted Aristotelian philosophy to the Latin world. For example, these commentators had taught that men do not have a personal intelligence, but that there is only one universal intellect, a common spiritual substance for all, which operates in all as "the only one," hence, a de-personalization of man. Another disputed point made by the Arab commentators was that the world is eternal like God. Understandably, endless disputes were unleashed in the university and ecclesiastical realms. Aristotelian philosophy was being spread, even among simple people.

Thomas Aquinas, in the school of Albert the Great, carried out an operation of fundamental importance for the history of philosophy and theology, I would say for the history of culture: He studied Aristotle and his interpreters in depth, obtaining new Latin translations of the original texts in Greek. Thus, he no longer relied only on the Arab commentators, but could read the original texts personally, and he commented on a great part of the Aristotelian works, distinguishing what was valid from what was doubtful or to be refuted all together, showing the consonance with events of Christian revelation and using Aristotelian thought at length and acutely in the exposition of the theological writings he composed. In short, Thomas Aquinas showed there is a natural harmony between Christian faith and reason. And this was the great work of Thomas, who in that moment of encounter between two cultures -- that moment in which it seemed that faith should surrender before reason -- showed that they go together, that what seemed to be reason incompatible with faith was not reason, and what seemed to be faith was not faith, in so far as it was opposed to true rationality; thus he created a new synthesis, which shaped the culture of the following centuries.

Because of his excellent intellectual gifts, Thomas was recalled to Paris as professor of theology in the Dominican chair. Here he also began his literary production, which he continued until his death, and which is something prodigious: commentaries on sacred Scripture, because the professor of theology was above all interpreter of Scripture, commentaries on Aristotle's writings, powerful systematic works, among which excels the Summa Theologiae, treatises and discourses on several arguments. For the composition of his writings, he was helped by some secretaries, among whom was Brother Reginald of Piperno, who followed him faithfully and to whom he was tied by a fraternal and sincere friendship, characterized by great confidence and trust. This is a characteristic of saints -- they cultivate friendship, because it is one of the most noble manifestations of the human heart and has in itself something of the divine. Thomas himself explained this in the Summa Theologiae, in which he wrote: "Charity is man's friendship with God primarily, and with the beings that belong to him" (II, q. 23, a.1).

He did not stay a long and stable time in Paris. In 1259, he participated in the General Chapter of the Dominicans at Valenciennes where he was member of a commission that established the program of studies for the order. Then, from 1261 to 1265 Thomas was in Orvieto. Pope Urban IV, who greatly esteemed him, commissioned him to compose the liturgical texts for the feast of Corpus Domini, which we celebrate tomorrow, instituted after the Eucharistic miracle of Bolsena. Thomas had an exquisitely Eucharistic soul. The very beautiful hymns that the liturgy of the Church sings to celebrate the mystery of the real presence of the Body and Blood of the Lord in the Eucharist are attributed to his faith and his theological wisdom. From 1265 until 1268, Thomas resided in Rome, where, probably, he directed a Studium, namely a House of Study of the Order, and where he began to write his Summa Theologiae (cf. Jean Pierre Torrell, "Tommaso d'Aquino. L'uomo e il teologo" [Thomas Aquinas: The Man and the Theologian], Casale Monf., 1994, pp. 118-184).

In 1269 he was recalled to Paris for a second cycle of teaching. The students -- understandably -- were enthusiastic about his lessons. A former student of his said that a great multitude of students followed Thomas' courses, so much so that the classrooms barely succeeded in containing them. He added, with a personal annotation, that "to listen to [Aquinas] was for him a profound happiness." The interpretation of Aristotle given by Thomas was not accepted by everyone, but even his adversaries in the academic field, such as Goffredo di Fontaines, for example, admitted that the doctrine of Brother Thomas was superior to that of others for usefulness and value, and that it served as a corrective to those of all the other doctors. Perhaps to extricate him from the lively discussions under way, his superiors sent him once again to Naples, to be at the disposition of King Charles I, who intended to reorganize university studies.

In addition to studying and teaching, Thomas was also dedicated to preaching to the people. And the people willingly went to hear him. I would say that it is truly a great grace when theologians are able to speak with simplicity and fervor to the faithful. The ministry of preaching, moreover, helps the scholars of theology themselves to a healthy pastoral realism, and enriches their research by lively stimulation.

The last months of Thomas' earthly life remained surrounded by a particular atmosphere -- I would say a mysterious atmosphere. In December 1273, he called his friend and secretary Reginald to communicate to him the decision to interrupt all work because, during the celebration of Mass, he had understood, following a supernatural revelation, that all he had written up to then was only "a heap of straw." It is a mysterious episode, which helps us to understand not only Thomas' personal humility, but also the fact that all that we succeed in thinking and saying about the faith, no matter how lofty and pure, is infinitely exceeded by the grandeur and beauty of God, which will be revealed to us fully in Paradise. A few months later, always more absorbed in a thoughtful meditation, Thomas died while traveling to Lyon, where he was going to take part in the ecumenical council called by Pope Gregory X. He died in the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova, after having received the Viaticum with sentiments of great piety.

The life and teaching of St. Thomas Aquinas could be summarized in an episode handed down by the ancient biographers. While the saint, as was his custom, was praying in the morning before the crucifix in the Chapel of St. Nicholas in Naples, the sacristan of the church, Domenico da Caserta, heard a dialogue unfolding. Thomas was asking, worried, if what he had written on the mysteries of the Christian faith was right. And the Crucifix responded: "You have spoken well of me, Thomas. What will be your recompense?" And the answer that Thomas gave is that which all of us, friends and disciples of Christ, would always wants to give: "Nothing other than You, Lord!" (Ibid., 320).

[Translation by ZENIT]

[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he said:]

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In our catechesis on the Christian culture of the Middle Ages, we now turn to St. Thomas Aquinas, known as the Doctor Communis, whose life and teaching have always been revered as an outstanding model for theologians. As a young student at the University of Naples, Thomas was introduced to the recently rediscovered works of Aristotle. Much of his scholarly life would be devoted to studying the Philosopher's authentic teaching, discerning its valid elements, and demonstrating its value for Christian thought. Thomas entered the Order of Preachers, studied under Albert the Great, and taught theology in Cologne, Paris, Rome and Naples. Among his many commentaries and systematic works, the great Summa Theologiae reveals his critical gifts and his conviction of the natural harmony between faith and reason. Thomas also composed the liturgical texts for the new feast of Corpus Domini, whose hymns reflect his deep Eucharistic faith and theological wisdom. At the end of his life, St. Thomas stopped writing, after a mystical experience which convinced him that all he had written "was as straw," in comparison with the infinite grandeur and beauty of God's truth. In coming catecheses we will explore the thought and writings of this great theologian.


Benedict XVI's Address at End of May
"Mary's Is an Authentic Missionary Journey"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday evening in the Vatican Gardens before a recitation of the Rosary at the conclusion of the month of May.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With great joy I join you at the end of this traditional prayer meeting in the Vatican, which concludes the month of May. In reference to today's liturgy, we wish to contemplate Mary Most Holy in the mystery of the Visitation. In the Virgin Mary who goes to visit her cousin Elizabeth, we recognize the most limpid example and the truest meaning of our journey of believers and the journey of the Church herself. The Church is missionary by nature; she is called to proclaim the Gospel everywhere and always, to transmit the faith to every man and woman, and to every culture.

"In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah" (Luke 1:39), wrote the evangelist St. Luke. Mary's is an authentic missionary journey. It is a journey that takes her far from home, drives her to the world, to places that are foreign to her daily customs, makes her reach, in a certain sense, the limits of what she could reach. Herein lies, also for us, the secret of our life as men and as Christians. As had already happened to Abraham, we are asked to come out of ourselves, of the places of our security, to go to others, to different places and realms. It is the Lord who asks this of us: "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses ... to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8).

And it is always the Lord who, on this journey, places us next to Mary as travel companion and solicitous mother. She gives us security, because she reminds us that her Son Jesus is always with us, according to what he promised: "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

The evangelist recounts that "Mary remained with her (with her cousin Elizabeth) about three months" (Luke 1:56). These simple words explain the most immediate objective of Mary's journey. She had known through the Angel that Elizabeth was expecting a child and that she was already in her sixth month (cf. Luke 1:36). But Elizabeth was old and the closeness of Mary, still very young, could be useful to her. That is why Mary went to her and remained by her side for almost three months, to offer her this affectionate closeness, that concrete help and all those daily services of which she was in need. Thus Elizabeth becomes the symbol of all elderly and sick persons, more than that, of all persons in need of help and love. And how many there are also today, in our families, in our communities and in our cities! And Mary -- who described herself as "the handmaid of the Lord" (Luke 1:38) -- makes herself the handmaid of men. More precisely, she serves the Lord whom she finds in brothers.

However, Mary's charity does not stop with concrete aid, but reaches its culmination in giving Jesus himself, in "having one find him." It is once again St. Luke who stresses it: "And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb" (Luke 1:41). We are, thus, at the heart and culmination of the evangelizing mission. We are in the truest meaning and the most genuine objective of all missionary endeavor: to give men the living and personal Gospel, which is the Lord Jesus himself.

And Jesus' is a communication and a donation that -- as Elizabeth attests -- fills the heart with joy: "For behold, when the voice of your greeting came to my ears, the babe in my womb leaped for joy" (Luke 1:44). Jesus is the true and only treasure that we have to give to humanity. It is of him that the men and women of our time have profound nostalgia, even when they seem to ignore or reject him. It is of him that the society in which we live, Europe, the whole world, is in great need.

To us has been entrusted this extraordinary responsibility. Let us live it with joy and commitment, so that ours will truly be a civilization in which truth, justice, liberty and love reign, fundamental and irreplaceable pillars of a true orderly and peaceful coexistence. Let us live this responsibility by being assiduous in listening to the Word of God, in fraternal union, in the breaking of bread and in prayers (cf. Acts 2:42). May this be the grace we pray for together to the Virgin Most Holy this evening. My blessing to all of you.



Statement on Ireland's Apostolic Visitation

VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2010 - Here is the text of the English-language communiqué published today by the Vatican press office on the apostolic visitation of certain dioceses of Ireland as announced in Benedict XVI's March 19 Letter to the Catholics of Ireland.

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Following the Holy Father's Letter to the Catholics of Ireland, the Apostolic Visitation of certain Irish dioceses, seminaries and religious congregations will begin in autumn of this year.

Through this Visitation, the Holy See intends to offer assistance to the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful as they seek to respond adequately to the situation caused by the tragic cases of abuse perpetrated by priests and religious upon minors. It is also intended to contribute to the desired spiritual and moral renewal that is already being vigorously pursued by the Church in Ireland.

The Apostolic Visitors will set out to explore more deeply questions concerning the handling of cases of abuse and the assistance owed to the victims; they will monitor the effectiveness of and seek possible improvements to the current procedures for preventing abuse, taking as their points of reference the Pontifical Motu Proprio "Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela" and the norms contained in Safeguarding Children: Standards and Guidance Document for the Catholic Church in Ireland, commissioned and produced by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

The Visitation will begin in the four Metropolitan Archdioceses of Ireland (Armagh, Dublin, Cashel and Emly, and Tuam) and will then be extended to some other dioceses.

The Visitors named by the Holy Father for the dioceses are: His Eminence Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor, Emeritus Archbishop of Westminster, for the Archdiocese of Armagh; His Eminence Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley, Archbishop of Boston, for the Archdiocese of Dublin; the Most Reverend Thomas Christopher Collins, Archbishop of Toronto, for the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly; the Most Reverend Terrence Thomas Prendergast, Archbishop of Ottawa, for the Archdiocese of Tuam.

In its desire to accompany the process of renewal of houses of formation for the future priests of the Church in Ireland, the Congregation for Catholic Education will coordinate the visitation of the Irish seminaries, including the Pontifical Irish College in Rome. While special attention will be given to the matters that occasioned the Apostolic Visitation, in the case of the seminaries it will cover all aspects of priestly formation. The Most Reverend Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, has been named Apostolic Visitor.

For its part, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will organize the visitation of religious houses in two phases. Firstly it will conduct an enquiry by means of a questionnaire to be sent to all the Superiors of religious institutes present in Ireland, with a view to providing an accurate picture of the current situation and formulating plans for the observance and improvement of the norms contained in the "guidelines". In the second phase, the Apostolic Visitors will be: the Reverend Joseph Tobin, CSsR and the Reverend Gero McLaughlin SJ for institutes of men; Sister Sharon Holland IHM and Sister Mairin McDonagh RJM for institutes of women. They will carry out a careful study, evaluating the results obtained from the questionnaire and the possible steps to be taken in the future in order to usher in a season of spiritual rebirth for religious life on the Island.
His Holiness invites all the members of the Irish Catholic community to support this fraternal initiative with their prayers. He invokes God's blessings upon the Visitors, and upon all the Bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of Ireland, that the Visitation may be for them an occasion of renewed fervour in the Christian life, and that it may deepen their faith and strengthen their hope in Christ our Saviour.


On the Trinity
"We Are Called Daily to Be Open to the Action of Grace"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2010 .- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

After the Easter season, which concluded last Sunday with Pentecost, the liturgy returned to Ordinary Time. That does not mean that the commitment of Christians must diminish, rather, having entered into the divine life through the sacraments, we are called daily to be open to the action of grace, to progress in the love of God and our neighbor. This Sunday, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, recapitulates, in a sense, God's revelation in the paschal mysteries: Christ's death and resurrection, his ascension to the right hand of the Father and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. The human mind and language are inadequate for explaining the relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and nevertheless the Fathers of the Church tried to illustrate the mystery of the One and Triune God, living it in their existence with profound faith.

The divine Trinity, in fact, comes to dwell in us on the day of baptism: "I baptize you," the minister says, "in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit." We recall the name of God in which we were baptized every time that we make the sign of the cross. In regard to the sign of the cross the theologian Romano Guardini observes: "We do it before prayer so that … we put ourselves spiritually in order; it focuses our thoughts, heart and will on God. We do it after prayer, so that what God has granted us remains in us … It embraces all our being, body and soul, … and every becomes consecrated in the name of the one and triune God" ("Lo spirito della liturgia. I santi segni," Brescia 2000, 125-126).

Thus in the sign of the cross and in the name of the living God the proclamation that generates faith and inspires prayer is contained. And, as in the Gospel Jesus promises the apostles that "the Spirit of truth, when he comes, will guide you in all truth" (John 16:13), the same happens in the Sunday liturgy, when the priests dispense, week after week, the bread of the Word and the Eucharist. The holy Curé d'Ars reminded his faithful of this: "Who welcomed your soul," he said, "at the beginning of your life? The priest. Who feeds your soul and gives it strength for its journey? The priest. Who will prepare it to appear before God, bathing it one last time in the blood of Jesus Christ? The priest, always the priest" ("Letter Proclaiming a Year for Priests").

Dear friends, let us make the prayer of St. Hilary of Poitiers our own: "Preserve undefiled in me this right faith and, to my last breath, grant me also this voice of my conscience, so that I remain faithful to that which I professed in my regeneration, when I was baptized in the Father, and in the Son and in the Holy Spirit" ("De Trinitate," XII, 57, CCL 62/A, 627). Invoking the Blessed Virgin Mary, the first creature in whom the Most Holy Trinity dwelled fully, let us ask her protection to journey well on our earthly pilgrimage.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

[The Pontiff then greeted those present in various languages. In English, he said:]

On this Trinity Sunday, I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present at today's Angelus. This week I am making an Apostolic Journey to Cyprus, to meet and pray with the Catholic and Orthodox faithful there and to consign the Instrumentum Laboris for the upcoming Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East. I ask for your prayers for the peace and prosperity of all the people of Cyprus, as well as for the preparations for the Special Assembly. Upon each of you and your loved ones at home, I invoke the blessings of the most holy Trinity.

©Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

[In Italian, he said:]

This morning in Rome in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, the beatification of Maria Pierina De Micheli was celebrated. She was a religious of the Institute of the Daughters of the Immaculate Conception of Buenos Aires. Giuseppina -- this was he baptismal name -- was born in Milan in 1890, in a deeply religious family, where different vocations to the priesthood and to the consecrated life blossomed. At 23 she also set out on this road, dedicating herself with passion to service in education in Argentina and in Italy. The Lord granted her an extraordinary devotion to his Holy Face, which always sustained her in trials and sickness. She died in 1945 and her remains are at the Institute of the Holy Spirit in Rome.


Papal Address to Migrants and Travelers Council
"The Acquisition of Rights Goes Hand in Hand With the Acceptance of Duties"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers.

The meeting, which was held this week in Rome, reflected on the topic: "Pastoral Care of Human Mobility Today, in the Context of the Co-Responsibility of States and of International Organizations."

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Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I welcome you with great joy on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. I greet the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò -- whom I thank for his words of happy cordiality -- the secretary, the members, the consultors and the officials. I wish all fruitful work.

You chose as the topic of this Session the "Pastoral Care of Human Mobility Today, in the Context of the Co-Responsibility of States and of International Organizations." The movement of peoples has been for some time the object of international congresses, which seek to guarantee the protection of fundamental human rights and to combat discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. They are documents that furnish principles and techniques of supranational protection.

Appreciable is the effort to build a system of shared norms that contemplate the rights and duties of the foreigner, as well as those of the host community, taking into account, in the first place, the dignity of every human person, created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26). Obviously, the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties. All, in fact, enjoy rights and duties that are not arbitrary, because they stem from human nature itself, as Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris" affirms: "Every human being is a person, that is a nature gifted with intelligence and free will; and hence subject of rights and duties which are, because of this, universal, inviolable, inalienable" (No. 5).

Therefore, the responsibility of states and of international organizations is specified in the commitment to influence questions that, respecting the competencies of the national legislator, involve the whole family of peoples, and exact an agreement between governments and the organisms most directly concerned. I am thinking of problems such as the entry or forced removal of the foreigner, the enjoyment of the goods of nature, of culture and of art, of science and technology, which must be accessible to all. Not to be forgotten is the important role of mediation so that national and international resolutions, which promote the universal common good, finds acceptance with local entities and are reflected in daily life.

National and international laws which promote the common good and respect for the person encourage the hopes and efforts being made to achieve a world social order founded on peace, fraternity and universal co-operation, despite the critical phase international institutions are currently traversing as they concentrate on resolving crucial questions of security and development for everyone. It is true, unfortunately, that we are witnessing the re-emergence of particular instances in some areas of the world, but it is also true that some are reluctant to assume responsibility that should be shared.

Moreover, not yet extinguished is the longing of many to pull down the walls that divide and to establish ample agreements, also through legislative dispositions and administrative practices that foster integration, mutual exchange and reciprocal enrichment. In fact, prospects of coexistence between peoples can be offered through prudent and concerted lines for reception and integration, consenting to occasions of entry in legality, favoring the just right to the reuniting of families, asylum and refuge, compensating the necessary restrictive measures and opposing the disgraceful traffic of persons. Precisely here the various international organizations, in cooperation among themselves and with the states, can furnish their peculiar contribution in reconciling, with various modalities, the recognition of the rights of the person and the principle of national sovereignty, with specific reference to the exigencies of security, the public order and control of borders.

The fundamental rights of the person can be the focal point of the commitment of co-responsibility of the national and international institutions. This, then, is closely linked to "openness to life, which is the center of true development," as I confirmed in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (cf. No. 28), where I also appealed to states to promote policies in favor of the centrality and integrity of the family (cf. ibid., No. 44).

On the other hand, it is evident that openness to life and the rights of the family must be confirmed in the various contexts, because "in a society in the process of globalization, the common good and the commitment to it must assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say of the community of peoples and nations" (ibid., No. 7). The future of our societies rests on the meeting between peoples, on dialogue between cultures with respect to their identities and legitimate differences. In this scene the family retains its fundamental role. Because of this, the Church, with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ in every sector of existence, carries forward "the commitment .... in favor not only of the individual migrant, but also of his family, place and resource of culture and life and factor of integration of values," as I reaffirmed in the Message for the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee of the year 2006.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is also up to you to sensitize organizations that are dedicated to the world of migrants and itinerant people to forms of co-responsibility. This pastoral sector is linked to a phenomenon in constant expansion and, therefore, your role must translate into concrete answers of closeness and pastoral support of persons, taking into account the different local situations.

On each one of you I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit and the maternal protection of Our Lady, renewing my gratitude for the service that you render the Church and society. May the inspiration of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, described as "Father of Migrants" by the Venerable John Paul II, and of whom we will remember the 105th anniversary of his birth in heaven next June 1, illumine your actions in favor of migrants and itinerant people and spur you to an ever more attentive charity, which will witness to them the unfailing love of God. For my part I assure you of my prayer, while blessing you from my heart.


Letter to Legate for Spain's Eucharistic Congress
"All Goods Flow ... From the Lord Himself"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's letter to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, papal legate for the celebration of Spain's 10th National Eucharistic Congress, which is under way through Sunday in Toledo. The letter, which was signed April 21, and published by the Vatican press office last week, was written originally in Latin.

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Venerable Brother, Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Dean of the College of Cardinals

I firmly believe that all goods flow, as from a source, from the Lord himself. The faithful, who approach him with all confidence, are filled with grace and copiously enriched with his heavenly gifts. Because, "the gift, which is Christ, being one is in all; and because he is not lacking anywhere, gives himself in the measure that each one desires to receive him; dwells in each in so far as each one wishes to merit him" (Saint Hilary, De Trinitate, 2, 31).

With immense joy I have learned that between the days of May 27-30 a great number of faithful will gather in the very illustrious city of Toledo to celebrate the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. Being at the height of the Year for Priests and of the Holy Year of Santiago de Compostela, the people of God are filled with heavenly graces and salvific commemorations with which, sustained, it can carry out its mission in daily occupations, which must be done with fortitude and diligence.

To make myself present for such an important event, at the request of the Venerable Brother Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, Metropolitan Archbishop of Toledo, Primate of Spain, which was made in the name of all the bishops, I have decided to send an eminent man to exercise my participation and as a representative.

To you, then, venerable brother, I direct my thoughts, you who by your dignity and the distinguished place you hold among the fathers of the College of Cardinals, are undoubtedly the ideal person to exercise this ministry and carry it out admirably. Thus, moved by great affection for your person, venerable brother, I proclaim and constitute you as my legate for the celebration to which I have referred earlier.

Finally, you will manifest openly my benevolence and solicitude while I offer prayers so that, nourished with the divine bread, souls and spirits will be renewed and enriched with notable piety. Likewise I want you to transmit to all a warm greeting and ask that you impart, in my name, to all the participants of this event the apostolic blessing, so that it will be the proclamation of divine graces and stimulus of spiritual renewal.

Given in the Vatican Palace on the 21st day of the month of April, of the year 2010, the sixth of Our Pontificate.

Pope Benedict XVI