[The Pope continued in Spanish]
I direct a cordial greeting to Spanish-speaking Catholics and
manifest my spiritual closeness, in particular to the youth, the ill,
and those who are in moments of difficulty of feel themselves in need.
express my heartfelt desire to be with you soon in this beloved nation.
the meantime, I encourage you to pray intensely for the pastoral fruits
my imminent apostolic trip and to keep high the flame of hope in the
Dear brothers and sisters, dear friends in the United States, I am
very much looking forward to being with you. I want you to know that,
my itinerary is short, with just a few engagements, my heart is close
all of you, especially to the sick, the weak, and the lonely. I thank
once again for your prayerful support of my mission. I reach out to
one of you with affection, and I invoke upon you the maternal
of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Que la Virgen María les acompañe y proteja. Que Dios
bendiga. [May the Virgen Mary accompany and protect you. May God bless
May God bless you all.
George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
"He Represents Values That Are Important for the Health of the Country"
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 13, 2008.- Here is a transcription of the
held by EWTN anchor Raymond Arroyo with U.S. President George Bush on
Arroyo spoke with the president leading up to Benedict XVI's April
visit to the United States. The interview can be viewed at EWTN's Web
* * *
Q Mr. President, this is the first head of state, Pope Benedict the
you will ever greet on a tarmac. I was stunned to learn this. Why are
going and greeting him at an airstrip? Usually the heads of states come
THE PRESIDENT: Because he is a really important figure in a lot of
One, he speaks for millions. Two, he doesn't come as a politician; he
as a man of faith. And, three, that I so subscribe to his notion that
are -- there's right and wrong in life, that moral relativism has a
of undermining the capacity to have more hopeful and free societies,
I want to honor his convictions, as well.
Q You read his book on Europe, I'm told.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I read parts of it, yes.
Q What do you take generally from his appraisal of Europe and the
And why is this relationship between the United States and the Holy See
important to you?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first of all, it's important to me because the
Father represents and stands for some values that I think are important
the health of the country, and when he comes to America, millions of my
citizens will be hanging on his every word. And that's why it's
I really don't want to get into -- spend time being critical of Europe.
main objective is to make sure our country is strong and solid and
in the lead. One of the tenets of my foreign policy is that there is an
and a gift of that Almighty to every man, woman and child is freedom.
you know, His Holiness speaks with that kind of clarity.
I'm also, as you know, a believer in the value of human life for the --
it's -- you know, the most vulnerable amongst us. And he speaks clearly
that, as well.
Q Yes, I want to talk about that a little bit later, because you -- you
he has commended, and no doubt will again, for your bold stance on
issues. I want to touch on some of the points he will no doubt raise.
One of them is Africa. I watched with great interest your visit to
You looked like the Pope of Tanzania when you arrived. (Laughter.) I
the whole town erupted. People I don't think have given you just
or credit for what you've done there. You've quadrupled aid to Africa.
President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief is now treating 1.4 million
The malaria treatment is unbelievable -- something like 50 million
now being helped. When you look at that -- I was told by a group of
who came here to meet you at the White House, you said, to whom much is
much is expected.
Is there a compulsion of faith here, personally --
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.
Q -- with this aid?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it's a combination of faith and practicality. From
practical perspective, hopelessness is the only way for ideologues who
the innocent to be able to recruit their followers. No one who's got a
as dark and dim as al Qaeda can possibly say to somebody, follow me, my
is hopeful or positive. Its like, you're so hopeless, this is your only
And therefore, dealing with disease and hunger and despair helps defeat
-- these bunch of ideologues.
And then, secondly, I believe it's in our individual and collective
to use our great blessings to help others, whether it be at home or
And so, "to whom much is given, much is required" is a part of my
And I say to people all the time that it's in our national -- it's in
moral interests. It invigorates our soul to know that we have saved a
that could be dying of a mosquito bite.
And I'm looking forward to talking to His Holy Father, and I will
him this isn't a George W. Bush deal; this is America. This is
America at its best. But, yes, it was amazing to see the great
that the citizens share for -- with us -- or about us.
Q Let's talk a moment about Iraq. The Pope will no doubt raise this.
THE PRESIDENT: Sure.
Q I think his perspective is going to be very different from what we're
in the newspapers this week. I think what he'll primarily talk about,
if my sources at the Vatican can be believed, he will probably talk
the 40 bombed churches --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q -- 40 percent of the refugees being Christian --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q -- he's very concerned about that Christian minority in Iraq.
THE PRESIDENT: Absolutely.
Q When he spoke to you in 2007 he raised this. What is the
prepared to do for this fledgling remnant of Christianity -- an ancient
THE PRESIDENT: Well, absolutely. You know, it's something we have been
all along, is urging the government to understand that minority rights
a vital part of any democratic society. And by the way, my concern
just for minority rights in Iraq; it's for minority rights throughout
And I have dealt with the Holy Father about -- with not only the issue
Iraq, but also the issue of Catholics in -- and Christians in the Holy
I can remember very well, early in my presidency, I think it was
Egan or maybe Cardinal McCarrick came to see me about the mosque
on the Catholic -- the great Catholic Church, and would I use my
with the Israelis to convince them to be mindful of the need for
rights? And I said, absolutely. In my visit to the Holy Land, this
time, there's a lot of concern about the kind of, the -- I guess,
I met Sisters that were in the Galilean area that were just serving
so beautifully, and yet their leadership was concerned about minority
So my view is like -- Iraq is important, but I've used our influence
throughout the region. And I've used our influence all
throughout the world to promote rights for all religious minorities,
Q. We saw that Archbishop Rahho, he was murdered in Iraq. This past
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, yes.
Q -- an Orthodox priest slain on the doorstep of his home. Is the
-- do you believe that this is religiously motivated violence?
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I do. I believe they're -- I believe what they're
to do is trying to send messages -- "they" being the killers -- trying
send messages that it's not worth your time, that you must abandon the
of helping this free society deliver. I don't think this is
I think these are a bunch of thugs and killers who have this kind of
dim view of the world, and are willing to kill anybody who's willing to
up to them.
And it's not just these religious figures. There are a lot of innocent
women and children who are being killed by them, as well. This is their
this is their tactics, and it's the same type of mentality that caused
to fly airplanes into our buildings to kill 3,000 of our citizens.
Q What can we tangibly do? What can the administration tangibly plead
the Iraqi government to do to protect this fledgling minority? Is there
we can do --
THE PRESIDENT: Well, one thing we can do is to keep our troops there
enough to have a civil society emerge, and go after them, and go after
killers, and bring them to justice so they quit killing people,
our own troops, because this is a war.
Q Would you commit our troops to protecting those communities where
THE PRESIDENT: I commit our troops to helping the Iraqis provide safety
all innocent Iraqis. In other words, I -- you got to
understand that what you're witnessing is not just an assault on
Christians; you are witnessing assault on innocent people of all faiths
a group of cold-blooded killers who want to drive the United States out
the Middle East because they hate free societies.
Q Even here on Capitol Hill, we're hearing talk of withdrawals.
They want this drawdown. General Petraeus is at this very hour saying
shouldn't be doing this, we should have a pause. What is your take?
even members of your own administration in the Defense Department are
we might not be able to respond to other events if we have our troops
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, I disagree with those people. There's nothing --
real threat for the 21st century is dealing with these thugs and
They're the ones who attacked us. We got to defeat them overseas so we
face them here. And our people are very well trained to take on these
And so, therefore, my answer is, is that whatever it takes to help
And to answer your question, the best thing we can do for minorities,
Christian minorities, in Iraq, or any minority in Iraq, is to help this
develop into a peaceful society, where minority rights are respected.
Q Even your critics say they are amazed by you, and baffled by you,
you remain so positive, so upbeat -- (laughter) -- so on point. How
of that is a function of your faith?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, that's a very good question. You know, I don't
you can disassociate your faith with how you live your life. I mean, I
it's all engrained. And I am optimistic because I happen to believe in
universal principles, and I do believe that freedom is universal, and
just given a chance, people will live in a -- will self-govern and live
a peaceful, free society.
And history is my witness. I mean, after all, one of my best buddies in
international community was Prime Minister Koizumi. My dad fought the
Prime Minister Koizumi and I worked to keep the peace. It's an amazing
it's one of the great ironies.
And my faith has -- you know, my faith has been so sustaining in the
of -- in the midst of what is a pretty hectic life, full of flattery
criticism. And faith keeps a person grounded. Faith reminds people that
something a lot more important than you in life.
I've been inspired by the prayers from ordinary citizens. And I have
to realize one -- more clearly the story of the calm in the rough
Q Let's talk for a moment. You had Cardinal Zen, who is a freedom
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q -- in Hong Kong. You invited him to a private meeting here at the
House, which was totally unexpected. You are now planning on going to
Olympics there in --
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q -- to be at the opening ceremonies at the Olympics. You just said
freedom is a gift from the Almighty. Considering the human rights
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q -- of that regime, how can you in good conscience go to that
THE PRESIDENT: Because I -- you know, I'm going to the Olympics, for
And I've -- my plans aren't -- haven't changed. And the reason why is
I can talk to him about religious freedom prior to the Olympics, during
Olympics and after the Olympics -- which I have done. I don't need the
to express my position to the Chinese leadership on freedom. I just
need them -- because that's all I have been doing as your President. In
words -- if people say, well, you need to express yourself clearly
freedom of religion, my answer is, what do you think I've been doing?
Q Angela Merkel boycotted it --
THE PRESIDENT: I don't think she boycotted it, necessarily.
Q She's not attending the Opening Ceremonies, it appears.
THE PRESIDENT: She's not attending the games, period. She's not going
-- I don't think she's going to Beijing at all, at least that's what
told me. But, look, I hear all this rhetoric. I want to be an effective
And I don't think it -- as I say, I'm going to Beijing. And I'm --
talking about the Chinese people, as well. And the question is, does
American President take [sic] decisions that will enable the next
to be effective or not -- because I've made my case; these Chinese
know exactly my position. I've talked about freedom of religion every
I visited with them. I've talked about Darfur. I've talked about Burma.
talked about the Dalai Lama. As a matter of fact, I'm the only
to ever stand up in public with the Dalai Lama here in the United
So they know my position.
And my question that I think about is, if I politicize the Olympic
will that make it less effective for me to deal with them, or more
But nobody needs to call old -- tell old George Bush what to -- that he
to bring religious freedom to the doorstep of the Chinese, because I've
that now for -- I'm on my eighth year doing it.
Q This stick-to-it-iveness that I just saw in your eyes here I think
this stem cell decision that you looked at, prayed over, spent a long
considering with experts from across the field. In 2001 you met with
John Paul II; he encouraged you not to endorse federal funding. You
you restricted the federal funding of embryonic stem cell research.
THE PRESIDENT: Right.
Q As a result of that move, alternative technologies were analyzed;
stem cells have now produced 80 -- cures for 80 different diseases. Do
THE PRESIDENT: That's an interesting question. I don't take these
personally, nor am I that concerned about my own personal standing
upon an issue. I feel like it was the right decision to begin with, and
let history judge whether or not vindication is the right word.
Q Or confirmed in your decision, certainly.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, yes, I do feel -- I feel like it was the right
then, and obviously the data has now shown that -- I hope it shows to
it's the right decision. But, you know, I think it's going to be -- by
way, I think this is the beginning of what is a very interesting debate
future Presidents are going to have to deal with, and that is science
ethics, the value of life versus saving life -- supposedly. And it's --
believe -- I've obviously drawn the line in the sand that honoring life
all forms is a touchstone for good science.
Q Do you think in your lifetime you might see a pro-choice Republican
THE PRESIDENT: I don't know. That's an interesting question. No telling
you'll see in my lifetime when it comes to American politics -- from
Q Do you think it's important, though, to have a pro-life President on
Republican ticket? What might be the ramifications?
THE PRESIDENT: I think it's important for people to understand that a
of life is in our national interests and that -- it's also important to
that the politics of abortion isn't going to change until people's
change, and fully understand the meaning of life and what it means for
society to value life in all forms -- whether it be the life of the
or the life of the elderly; whether it be the life of the less
among us, or the life of the rich guy. I mean, it's a moral touchstone,
think, that will speak to a healthy society in the long run.
And I don't know what's going to happen in American politics, I really
I do know that in order for a President to be effective he better bring
set of principles from which he will not deviate, and articulate them
clearly as he can -- or she can -- and then not worry about immediate
because popularity comes and goes, but what doesn't change are solid
And I'm going to remind His Holy Father how important his voice is in
it easier for politicians like me to be able to kind of stand and
our positions that are, I think, very important positions to take.
President, final question.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes, sir.
Q You said, famously, when you looked into Vladimir Putin's eyes you
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
Q When you look into Benedict XVI's eyes what do you see?
THE PRESIDENT: God.
Q Good way to end the interview.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, sir.
Q Thank you, sir. My pleasure.
[Text provided by EWTN]
BEGINS HIS APOSTOLIC TRIP TO THE U.S.A.
VATICAN CITY, 15 APR 2008 (VIS) - At midday today, the Holy
Father departed from Rome 's Fiumicino airport. Following a flight of
more than 7,000 kilometres , his plane is due to land at 4 p.m. local
time (10 p.m. in Rome ) at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington D.C.
This is the Benedict XVI's eighth apostolic trip outside Italy and his
first to the U.S.A. as Pope.
U.S. President George W. Bush and his wife Nancy will
welcome the Pope as he descends from his aircraft. No speeches are
scheduled for this first meeting and the welcome ceremony proper will
take place tomorrow at 10.30 a .m. local time (4.30 p.m. in Rome ) at
the White House, official residence of the U.S. president.
After landing, Benedict XVI will travel by car to the apostolic
nunciature in Washington D.C where he will spend the rest of the day.
Aboard Papal Flight
"I Go to the United States With Joy"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2008 - Here is a translation of the press
conference Benedict XVI gave on the plane en route to the United States
transcription was provided today by Jesuit Father Federico
Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office. Father Lombardi acted
as a moderator during the press conference.
* * *
Father Lombardi: Your Holiness, welcome! On behalf of all my colleagues
here present, I thank you for your very kind availability in coming to
greet us and also for giving us some indications and ideas for
following this trip. This is your second intercontinental trip, your
first as Holy Father to America, to the United States and the United
Nations. An important and very awaited trip. To begin with, would you
like to tell us something about your sentiments, the hopes with which
you face this journey and what is your fundamental objective, from your
point of view?
Benedict XVI: My trip has above all two objectives. The first objective
is the visit to the Church in America, in the United States. There is a
particular motive: The Diocese of Baltimore, 200 years ago, was
elevated to the status of metropolis and at the same time, four other
dioceses were born -- New York, Philadelphia, Boston and Louisville. So
it is a great jubilee for this nucleus of the Church in the United
States, a moment of reflection about the past and above all of
reflection about the future, about how to respond to the great
challenges of our time, in the present and with sights set on the
future. And naturally, the interreligious encounter and the ecumenical
encounter form part of this trip too, particularly also an encounter in
the synagogue with our Jewish friends, on the eve of their feast of
Passover. Therefore, this is the religious-pastoral aspect of the
Church in the United States in this moment of our history, and the
encounter with all the others in this common brotherhood that links us
in a common responsibility.
I would like in this moment to also give thanks to President Bush, who
will come to the airport, will set aside a lot of time for conversation
and will receive me on the occasion of my birthday.
Second objective, the visit to the United Nations. Also here there is a
particular motive: 60 years have passed since the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights. This is the anthropological base, the founding
philosophy of the United Nations, the human and spiritual base on which
it is constructed. Thus it is really a moment of reflection, a moment
to again become aware of this important stage in history. In the
Universal Declaration of Human Right, various cultural traditions have
blended together, above all an anthropology that recognizes in man the
subject of rights, coming before all institutions, with common values
that must be respected by everyone. Therefore, this visit, which takes
place precisely in a moment of a values crisis, seems to me important
to reconfirm both that everything began in this moment and to recover
it for our future.
Father Lombardi: Let us move now to the questions that you have turned
in during these days and that some of you will ask the Holy Father.
Let's begin with the question from John Allen, who I don't think needs
an introduction because he is very well known as a Vatican commentator
in the United States.
Q: Holy Father, I ask the question in English, if you allow me, and
maybe, if it could be possible, if we could have a phrase, a word in
English, we would be very thankful. The question: The Church that you
will find in the United States is a large Church, a living Church, but
also a Church that suffers, in a certain sense, above all because of
the recent crisis due to sexual abuses. The American people are
awaiting a word from you, a message from you about this crisis. What
will be your message for this suffering Church?
Benedict XVI [in English]: It is a great suffering for the Church in
the United States and for the Church in general, for me personally,
that this could happen. If I read the history of these events, it is
difficult for me to understand how it was possible for priests to fail
in this way the mission to give healing, to give God's love to these
children. I am ashamed and we will do everything possible to ensure
that this does not happen in future. I think we have to act on three
levels: the first is at the level of justice and the political level. I
will not speak at this moment about homosexuality: this is another
thing. We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry;
it is absolutely incompatible and who is really guilty of being a
pedophile cannot be a priest. So at this first level we can do justice
and help the victims, because they are deeply affected; these are the
two sides of justice: one, that pedophiles cannot be priests and the
other, to help in any possible way the victims.
Then, there's a pastoral level. The victims will need healing and help
and assistance and reconciliation: this is a big pastoral engagement
and I know that the bishops and the priests and all Catholic people in
the United States will do whatever possible to help, to assist, to
heal. We have made a visitation of the seminaries and we will do all
that is possible in the education of seminarians for a deep spiritual,
human and intellectual formation for the students. Only sound persons
can be admitted to the priesthood and only persons with a deep personal
life in Christ and who have a deep sacramental life. So, I know that
the bishops and directors of seminarians will do all possible to have a
strong, strong discernment because it is more important to have good
priests than to have many priests. This is also our third level, and we
hope that we can do and we have done and we will do in the future all
that is possible to heal these wounds.
Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness. Another theme about which
we've had many questions from our colleagues is that of immigration --
the presence in U.S. society of Spanish-speaking people as well. And
because of this, the question will be asked by our colleague
Leonardo Beltramo Álvarez, who is from an information agency of
Q: Your Holiness, I will ask the question in Italian, and then if you
want, you can make your comments in Spanish. ... A greeting, just a
greeting. ... There is an enormous growth in Hispanic presence also in
the Church in the United States in general: The Catholic community is
becoming ever more bilingual and ever more bicultural. At the same
time, there exists in the society an increasing anti-immigration
movement. The situation of the immigrants is characterized by unstable
situations and discrimination. Do you intend to speak of this problem
and to invite America to welcome immigrants, many of whom are Catholic?
Benedict XVI: I cannot speak in Spanish but mis saludos y mi
para todos los hispánicos [my greetings and my blessing for the
Hispanic people.] I certainly will touch on this point. I have received
various "ad limina" visits from the Central American bishops and also
from South America, and I have seen the amplitude of this problem,
above all the grave problem of the separation of families. And this is
truly dangerous for the social, moral and human fabric of these
countries. Nevertheless, one must differentiate between measures that
must be adopted right away and long-term solutions.
The fundamental solution is that there would no longer exist the need
to emigrate because there would be in one's own country sufficient
work, a sufficient social fabric, such that no one has to emigrate.
Therefore we should all work for this objective, for a social
development that permits offering citizens work and a future in their
land of origin. And also about this point, I would like to speak with
the president, because above all the United States should help with the
aim that these countries can develop in this way. This is in the
interest of everyone, not just of these countries, but of the world,
and also of the United States.
Besides this, short-term measures: It is very important to help the
families above all. In the light of the conversations that I have had
with the bishops, the principal problem is that there be protection for
the families, that they not be destroyed. What can be done should be
done. In the same way, naturally, all that is possible must be done to
work against the instability of the situations and against all the
violations, and to help so that they can have a truly dignified life
where they find themselves in this moment.
I would like to also say that there are many problems, many sufferings,
but there is also a lot of hospitality! I know that above all the
American episcopal conference collaborates a lot with the Latin
American episcopal conferences in the face of needed help. With all the
sorrowful things, let's not forget also so much true humanity, so many
positive actions that also exist.
Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness. Now a question that refers
to American society: precisely about the role of religious values in
American society. We give the floor to our colleague Andrea Tornielli,
who is a Vatican reporter for an Italian newspaper:
Q: Holy Father, when you received the new ambassador of the United
States to the Holy See, [she] mentioned as a positive value the public
recognition of religion in the United States. I would like to ask you
if you consider it as a possible model also for secularized Europe, or
if you think that there can also be the risk that religion and the name
of God can be used to justify certain policies, or even war.
Benedict XVI: Certainly in Europe, we cannot simply copy the United
States: We have our history. But all of us should learn from each
other. What I find fascinating in the United States is that they began
with a positive concept of secularism, because this new people was
formed by communities and people who had fled from the state churches
and wanted to have a lay state, secular, that would open possibilities
to all confessions, for all the types of religious exercise. In this
way, an intentionally secular state was born: They were against a state
But the state should be secular precisely out of love for religion in
its authenticity, which can be lived only with liberty. And in this
manner we find this mix of a state that is intentionally and decidedly
secular, but precisely because of a religious will, to give
authenticity to religion. We already know that Alexis de Tocqueville,
studying America, saw that the secular institutions live with a moral
consensus that exists in fact among the citizens.
This seems to me a fundamental and positive model. One must consider
that in Europe, meanwhile, 200 years have passed, more than 200 years,
with a lot of developments. Now there exists also in the United States
the assault of a new secularism, of everything being diverse, and
therefore, before, the problem was the immigration, but the situation
has become more complicated and diverse over the course of history. But
the basis, the fundamental model, seems to me all the same today,
worthy of having it present also in Europe.
Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness. And now a last theme
regarding your visit to the United Nations, and this last question
falls to John Thavis, who is the Rome director of the Catholic news
agency of the United States.
Q: Holy Father, the Pope is frequently thought of as the conscience of
humanity, and also because of this your address at the United Nations
is much awaited. I would like to ask: Do you think that a multilateral
institution like the United Nations can safeguard the principles
as "non-negotiables" by the Catholic Church, that is, the fundamental
principles of natural law?
Benedict XVI: That is precisely the objective of the United Nations:
that it safeguard the common values of humanity, upon which the
peaceful coexistence of the nations is based: the observance of justice
and the development of justice. I have already briefly mentioned that
it seems to me very important that the basis of the United Nations be
precisely the idea of human rights, of the rights that express
non-negotiable values, that come before all institutions and are the
basis of all institutions. And it is important that there exist this
convergence between cultures that have found a consensus on the fact
that these values are fundamental, that they are inscribed in the very
being of the human [person]. To renew this awareness that the United
Nations, with its peacemaking function, can work only if has the common
basis of the values that are expressed afterward in "rights" that
should be observed by everyone; to confirm this fundamental idea and to
actualize it as much as possible is one objective of my mission.
Finally, given that at the beginning Father Lombardi asked me about my
sentiments, I want to say "I go to the United States with joy!" I have
been in the United States various times before; I am familiar with this
great country; I am familiar with the great vivacity of the Church
despite all the problems and I am content to be able to meet, in this
historical moment both for the Church and for the United Nations, this
great people and this great Church. Thank you to everyone!
Father Lombardi: Thank you, Your Holiness, on behalf of all of us. We
truly renew our desires for this trip: that it may have all the fruits
you hope for, and that we also, together with you, await. Thank you and
have a good trip!
Pontiff's Address at White House
"Faith Sheds New Light on All Things"
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 16, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI
gave today at the welcoming ceremony on the South Lawn of the White
House, on the first full day of his apostolic trip to the United States.
* * *
Thank you for your gracious words of welcome on behalf of the people of
the United States of America. I deeply appreciate your invitation to
visit this great country. My visit coincides with an important moment
in the life of the Catholic community in America: the celebration of
the two-hundredth anniversary of the elevation of the country’s first
Diocese -- Baltimore -- to a metropolitan Archdiocese, and the
establishment of the Sees of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and
Louisville. Yet I am happy to be here as a guest of all Americans. I
come as a friend, a preacher of the Gospel and one with great respect
for this vast pluralistic society. America’s Catholics have made, and
continue to make, an excellent contribution to the life of their
country. As I begin my visit, I trust that my presence will be a source
of renewal and hope for the Church in the United States, and strengthen
the resolve of Catholics to contribute ever more responsibly to the
life of this nation, of which they are proud to be citizens.
From the dawn of the Republic, America’s quest for
freedom has been
guided by the conviction that the principles governing political and
social life are intimately linked to a moral order based on the
dominion of God the Creator. The framers of this nation’s founding
documents drew upon this conviction when they proclaimed the
"self-evident truth" that all men are created equal and endowed with
inalienable rights grounded in the laws of nature and of nature’s God.
The course of American history demonstrates the difficulties, the
struggles, and the great intellectual and moral resolve which were
demanded to shape a society which faithfully embodied these noble
principles. In that process, which forged the soul of the nation,
religious beliefs were a constant inspiration and driving force, as for
example in the struggle against slavery and in the civil rights
movement. In our time too, particularly in moments of crisis, Americans
continue to find their strength in a commitment to this patrimony of
shared ideals and aspirations.
In the next few days, I look forward to meeting not only with America’s
Catholic community, but with other Christian communities and
representatives of the many religious traditions present in this
country. Historically, not only Catholics, but all believers have found
here the freedom to worship God in accordance with the dictates of
their conscience, while at the same time being accepted as part of a
commonwealth in which each individual and group can make its voice
heard. As the nation faces the increasingly complex political and
issues of our time, I am confident that the American people
will find in their religious beliefs a precious source of insight and
an inspiration to pursue reasoned, responsible and respectful dialogue
in the effort to build a more humane and free society.
Freedom is not only a gift, but also a summons to personal
responsibility. Americans know this from experience -- almost every
town in this country has its monuments honoring those who sacrificed
their lives in defense of freedom, both at home and abroad. The
preservation of freedom calls for the cultivation of virtue,
self-discipline, sacrifice for the common good and a sense of
responsibility towards the less fortunate. It also demands the courage
to engage in civic life and to bring one’s deepest beliefs and values
to reasoned public debate. In a word, freedom is ever new. It is a
challenge held out to each generation, and it must constantly be won
over for the cause of good (cf. Spe Salvi, 24). Few have understood
this as clearly as the late Pope John Paul II. In reflecting on the
spiritual victory of freedom over totalitarianism in his native Poland
and in eastern Europe, he reminded us that history shows, time and
again, that "in a world without truth, freedom loses its foundation",
and a democracy without values can lose its very soul (cf. Centesimus
Annus, 46). Those prophetic words in some sense echo the conviction of
President Washington, expressed in his Farewell Address, that religion
and morality represent "indispensable supports" of political prosperity.
The Church, for her part, wishes to contribute to building a world ever
more worthy of the human person, created in the image and likeness of
God (cf. Gen 1:26-27). She is convinced that faith sheds new light on
all things, and that the Gospel reveals the noble vocation and sublime
destiny of every man and woman (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10). Faith also
gives us the strength to respond to our high calling, and the hope that
inspires us to work for an ever more just and fraternal society.
Democracy can only flourish, as your founding fathers realized, when
political leaders and those whom they represent are guided by truth and
bring the wisdom born of firm moral principle to decisions affecting
the life and future of the nation.
For well over a century, the United States of America has played an
important role in the international community. On Friday, God willing,
I will have the honor of addressing the United Nations Organization,
where I hope to encourage the efforts under way to make that
institution an ever more effective voice for the legitimate aspirations
of all the world’s peoples. On this, the sixtieth anniversary of the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the need for global solidarity
is as urgent as ever, if all people are to live in a way worthy of
their dignity – as brothers and sisters dwelling in the same house and
around that table which God’s bounty has set for all his children.
America has traditionally shown herself generous in meeting immediate
human needs, fostering development and offering relief to the victims
of natural catastrophes. I am confident that this concern for the
greater human family will continue to find expression in support for
the patient efforts of international diplomacy to resolve conflicts and
promote progress. In this way, coming generations will be able to live
in a world where truth, freedom and justice can flourish -- a world
where the God-given dignity and rights of every man, woman and child
are cherished, protected and effectively advanced.
Mr. President, dear friends: as I begin my visit to the United States,
I express once more my gratitude for your invitation, my joy to be in
your midst, and my fervent prayers that Almighty God will confirm this
nation and its people in the ways of justice, prosperity and peace. God
Bush's Welcome to Benedict XVI
"We Need Your Message That 'God Is Love'"
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 16, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address U.S.
President George Bush gave today upon welcoming Benedict XVI to the
* * *
Holy Father, Laura
and I are privileged to have you here at the White
House. We welcome you with the ancient words commended by Saint
Augustine: "Pax Tecum." Peace be with you.
You've chosen to visit America on your birthday. Well, birthdays are
traditionally spent with close friends, so our entire nation is moved
and honored that you've decided to share this special day with us. We
wish you much health and happiness -- today and for many years to come.
This is your first trip to the United States since you ascended to the
Chair of Saint Peter. You will visit two of our greatest cities and
meet countless Americans, including many who have travelled from across
the country to see with you and to share in the joy of this visit. Here
in America you'll find a nation of prayer. Each day millions of our
citizens approach our Maker on bended knee, seeking His grace and
giving thanks for the many blessings He bestows upon us. Millions of
Americans have been praying for your visit, and millions look forward
to praying with you this week.
Here in America you'll find a nation of compassion. Americans believe
that the measure of a free society is how we treat the weakest and most
vulnerable among us. So each day citizens across America answer the
universal call to feed the hungry and comfort the sick and care for the
infirm. Each day across the world the United States is working to
eradicate disease, alleviate poverty, promote peace and bring the light
of hope to places still mired in the darkness of tyranny and despair.
Here in America you'll find a nation that welcomes the role of faith in
the public square. When our Founders declared our nation's
independence, they rested their case on an appeal to the "laws of
nature, and of nature's God." We believe in religious liberty. We also
believe that a love for freedom and a common moral law are written into
every human heart, and that these constitute the firm foundation on
which any successful free society must be built.
Here in America, you'll find a nation that is fully modern, yet guided
by ancient and eternal truths. The United States is the most
innovative, creative and dynamic country on earth -- it is also among
the most religious. In our nation, faith and reason coexist in harmony.
This is one of our country's greatest strengths, and one of the reasons
that our land remains a beacon of hope and opportunity for millions
across the world.
Most of all, Holy Father, you will find in America people whose hearts
are open to your message of hope. And America and the world need this
message. In a world where some invoke the name of God to justify acts
of terror and murder and hate, we need your message that "God is love."
And embracing this love is the surest way to save men from "falling
prey to the teaching of fanaticism and terrorism."
In a world where some treat life as something to be debased and
discarded, we need your message that all human life is sacred, and that
"each of us is willed, each of us is loved" -- (applause) -- and your
message that "each of us is willed, each of us is loved, and each of us
In a world where some no longer believe that we can distinguish between
simple right and wrong, we need your message to reject this
"dictatorship of relativism," and embrace a culture of justice and
In a world where some see freedom as simply the right to do as they
wish, we need your message that true liberty requires us to live our
freedom not just for ourselves, but "in a spirit of mutual support."
Holy Father, thank you for making this journey to America. Our nation
welcomes you. We appreciate the example you set for the world, and we
ask that you always keep us in your prayers. (Applause.)
Joint Vatican-US Statement on Pope
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 16, 2008 - Here is the final statement
released jointly by the Vatican and the United States, after Benedict
XVI and President George Bush met today at the White House.
* * *
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and President George W. Bush met today
in the Oval Office of the White House.
President Bush, on behalf of all Americans, welcomed the Holy Father,
wished him a happy birthday, and thanked him for the spiritual and
moral guidance, which he offers to the whole human family. The
President wished the Pope every success in his Apostolic Journey and in
his address at the United Nations, and expressed appreciation for the
Pope’s upcoming visit to “Ground Zero” in New York.
During their meeting, the Holy Father and the President discussed a
number of topics of common interest to the Holy See and the United
States of America, including moral and religious considerations to
which both parties are committed: the respect of the dignity of the
human person; the defense and promotion of life, matrimony and the
family; the education of future generations; human rights and religious
freedom; sustainable development and the struggle against poverty and
pandemics, especially in Africa. In regard to the latter, the Holy
Father welcomed the United States’ substantial financial contributions
in this area. The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as
well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent
acts against innocents. They further touched on the need to confront
terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his
or her rights.
The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable time in their
discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving the
Israel-Palestinian conflict in line with the vision of two states
living side-by-side in peace and security, their mutual support for the
sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common concern for
the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of
Christian communities there and elsewhere in the region. The Holy
Father and the President expressed hope for an end to violence and for
a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the
The Holy Father and the President also considered the situation in
Latin America with reference, among other matters, to immigrants, and
the need for a coordinated policy regarding immigration, especially
their humane treatment and the well being of their families.
JOINT U.S. - HOLY SEE COMMUNIQUE
VATICAN CITY, 16 APR 2008 (VIS) - At the end of the private
meeting between the Holy Father Benedict XVI and U.S. President George
W. Bush in the Oval Office of the White House, the Holy See and the
Office of the President of the United States of America released a
joint declaration, the text of which is given below:
"President Bush, on behalf of all Americans, welcomed the
Holy Father, wished him a happy birthday, and thanked him for the
spiritual and moral guidance, which he offers to the whole human
family. The President wished the Pope every success in his apostolic
journey and in his address at the United Nations, and expressed
appreciation for the Pope's upcoming visit to 'Ground Zero' in New York.
"During their meeting, the Holy Father and the President
discussed a number of topics of common interest to the Holy See and the
United States of America, including moral and religious considerations
to which both parties are committed: the respect of the dignity of the
human person; the defence and promotion of life, matrimony and the
family; the education of future generations; human rights and religious
freedom; sustainable development and the struggle against poverty and
pandemics, especially in Africa. In regard to the latter, the Holy
Father welcomed the United States ' substantial financial contributions
in this area. The two reaffirmed their total rejection of terrorism as
well as the manipulation of religion to justify immoral and violent
acts against innocents. They further touched on the need to confront
terrorism with appropriate means that respect the human person and his
or her rights.
"The Holy Father and the President devoted considerable
time in their discussions to the Middle East, in particular resolving
the Israel-Palestinian conflict in line with the vision of two States
living side-by-side in peace and security, their mutual support for the
sovereignty and independence of Lebanon, and their common concern for
the situation in Iraq and particularly the precarious state of
Christian communities there and elsewhere in the region. The Holy
Father and the President expressed hope for an end to violence and for
a prompt and comprehensive solution to the crises which afflict the
"The Holy Father and the President also considered the
situation in Latin America with reference, among other matters, to
immigrants, and the need for a co-ordinated policy regarding
immigration, especially their humane treatment and the wellbeing of
Benedict XVI's Address to US Bishops
"The People of This Country Are Known for Their Great Vitality
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 16, 2008 - Here is the text of the
address Benedict XVI gave today to the bishops of the United States at
the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. At
the end he answers three questions posed to him by the prelates.
* * *
Dear Brother Bishops,
me great joy to greet you today, at the start of my visit to
this country, and I thank Cardinal George for the gracious words he has
addressed to me on your behalf. I want to thank all of you, especially
the Officers of the Episcopal Conference, for the hard work that has
gone into the preparation of this visit. My grateful appreciation goes
also to the staff and volunteers of the National Shrine, who have
welcomed us here this evening. American Catholics are noted for their
loyal devotion to the see of Peter. My pastoral visit here is an
opportunity to strengthen further the bonds of communion that unite us.
We began by celebrating Evening Prayer in this Basilica dedicated to
the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine of
special significance to American Catholics, right in the heart of your
capital city. Gathered in prayer with Mary, Mother of Jesus, we
lovingly commend to our heavenly Father the people of God in every part
of the United States.
For the Catholic communities of Boston, New York, Philadelphia and
Louisville, this is a year of particular celebration, as it marks the
bicentenary of the establishment of these local Churches as Dioceses. I
join you in giving thanks for the many graces granted to the Church
there during these two centuries. As this year also marks the
bicentenary of the elevation of the founding see of Baltimore to an
Archdiocese, it gives me an opportunity to recall with admiration and
gratitude the life and ministry of John Carroll, the first Bishop of
Baltimore - a worthy leader of the Catholic community in your newly
independent nation. His tireless efforts to spread the Gospel in the
vast territory under his care laid the foundations for the ecclesial
life of your country and enabled the Church in America to grow to
maturity. Today the Catholic community you serve is one of the largest
in the world, and one of the most influential. How important it is,
then, to let your light so shine before your fellow citizens and before
the world, "that they may see your good works and give glory to your
Father who is in heaven" (Mt 5:16).
Many of the people to whom John Carroll and his fellow Bishops were
ministering two centuries ago had travelled from distant lands. The
diversity of their origins is reflected in the rich variety of
ecclesial life in present-day America. Brother Bishops, I want to
encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the
immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to
support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in
their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done
for generations. From the beginning, they have opened their doors to
the tired, the poor, the "huddled masses yearning to breathe free" (cf.
Sonnet inscribed on the Statue of Liberty). These are the people whom
America has made her own.
Of those who came to build a new life here, many were able to make good
use of the resources and opportunities that they found, and to attain a
high level of prosperity. Indeed, the people of this country are known
for their great vitality and creativity. They are also known for their
generosity. After the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, and
again after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Americans displayed their
readiness to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in need. On
the international level, the contribution made by the people of America
to relief and rescue operations after the tsunami of December 2004 is a
further illustration of this compassion. Let me express my particular
appreciation for the many forms of humanitarian assistance provided by
American Catholics through Catholic Charities and other agencies. Their
generosity has borne fruit in the care shown to the poor and needy, and
in the energy that has gone into building the nationwide network of
Catholic parishes, hospitals, schools and universities. All of this
gives great cause for thanksgiving.
America is also a land of great faith. Your people are remarkable for
their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a
worshipping community. They have confidence in God, and they do not
hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their
public discourse. Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained
in the American consciousness - a fact which has contributed to this
country's attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home
where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.
In this connection, I happily acknowledge the presence among you of
Bishops from all the venerable Eastern Churches in communion with the
Successor of Peter, whom I greet with special joy. Dear Brothers, I ask
you to assure your communities of my deep affection and my continued
prayers, both for them and for the many brothers and sisters who remain
in their land of origin. Your presence here is a reminder of the
courageous witness to Christ of so many members of your communities,
often amid suffering, in their respective homelands. It is also a great
enrichment of the ecclesial life of America, giving vivid expression to
the Church's catholicity and the variety of her liturgical and
It is in this fertile soil, nourished from so many different sources,
that all of you, Brother Bishops, are called to sow the seeds of the
Gospel today. This leads me to ask how, in the twenty-first century, a
bishop can best fulfill the call to "make all things new in Christ, our
hope"? How can he lead his people to "an encounter with the living
God", the source of that life-transforming hope of which the Gospel
speaks (cf. Spe Salvi, 4)? Perhaps he needs to begin by clearing away
some of the barriers to such an encounter. While it is true that this
country is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence
of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith
to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in
church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business
practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Is it
consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and
the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral
teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of
every human being from conception to natural death? Any tendency to
treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their
faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly
open to the transforming power of the Gospel.
For an affluent society, a further obstacle to an encounter with the
living God lies in the subtle influence of materialism, which can all
too easily focus the attention on the hundredfold, which God promises
now in this time, at the expense of the eternal life which he promises
in the age to come (cf. Mk 10:30). People today need to be reminded of
the ultimate purpose of their lives. They need to recognize that
implanted within them is a deep thirst for God. They need to be given
opportunities to drink from the wells of his infinite love. It is easy
to be entranced by the almost unlimited possibilities that science and
technology place before us; it is easy to make the mistake of thinking
we can obtain by our own efforts the fulfillment of our deepest needs.
This is an illusion. Without God, who alone bestows upon us what we by
ourselves cannot attain (cf. Spe Salvi, 31), our lives are ultimately
empty. People need to be constantly reminded to cultivate a
relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance
(cf. Jn 10:10). The goal of all our pastoral and catechetical work, the
object of our preaching, and the focus of our sacramental ministry
should be to help people establish and nurture that living relationship
with "Christ Jesus, our hope" (1 Tim 1:1).
In a society which values personal freedom and autonomy, it is easy to
lose sight of our dependence on others as well as the responsibilities
that we bear towards them. This emphasis on individualism has even
affected the Church (cf. Spe Salvi, 13-15), giving rise to a form of
piety which sometimes emphasizes our private relationship with God at
the expense of our calling to be members of a redeemed community. Yet
from the beginning, God saw that "it is not good for man to be alone"
(Gen 2:18). We were created as social beings who find fulfillment only
in love - for God and for our neighbor. If we are truly to gaze upon
him who is the source of our joy, we need to do so as members of the
people of God (cf. Spe Salvi, 14). If this seems counter-cultural, that
is simply further evidence of the urgent need for a renewed
evangelization of culture.
Here in America, you are blessed with a Catholic laity of considerable
cultural diversity, who place their wide-ranging gifts at the service
of the Church and of society at large. They look to you to offer them
encouragement, leadership and direction. In an age that is saturated
with information, the importance of providing sound formation in the
faith cannot be overstated. American Catholics have traditionally
placed a high value on religious education, both in schools and in the
context of adult formation programs. These need to be maintained and
expanded. The many generous men and women who devote themselves to
charitable activity need to be helped to renew their dedication through
a "formation of the heart": an "encounter with God in Christ which
awakens their love and opens their spirits to others" (Deus Caritas
Est, 31). At a time when advances in medical science bring new hope to
many, they also give rise to previously unimagined ethical challenges.
This makes it more important than ever to offer thorough formation in
the Church's moral teaching to Catholics engaged in health care. Wise
guidance is needed in all these apostolates, so that they may bear
abundant fruit; if they are truly to promote the integral good of the
human person, they too need to be made new in Christ our hope.
As preachers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you
are also called to participate in the exchange of ideas in the public
square, helping to shape cultural attitudes. In a context where free
speech is valued, and where vigorous and honest debate is encouraged,
yours is a respected voice that has much to offer to the discussion of
the pressing social and moral questions of the day. By ensuring that
the Gospel is clearly heard, you not only form the people of your own
community, but in view of the global reach of mass communication, you
help to spread the message of Christian hope throughout the world.
Clearly, the Church's influence on public debate takes place on many
different levels. In the United States, as elsewhere, there is much
current and proposed legislation that gives cause for concern from the
point of view of morality, and the Catholic community, under your
guidance, needs to offer a clear and united witness on such matters.
Even more important, though, is the gradual opening of the minds and
hearts of the wider community to moral truth. Here much remains to be
done. Crucial in this regard is the role of the lay faithful to act as
a "leaven" in society. Yet it cannot be assumed that all Catholic
citizens think in harmony with the Church's teaching on today's key
ethical questions. Once again, it falls to you to ensure that the moral
formation provided at every level of ecclesial life reflects the
authentic teaching of the Gospel of life.
In this regard, a matter of deep concern to us all is the state of the
family within society. Indeed, Cardinal George mentioned earlier that
you have included the strengthening of marriage and family life among
the priorities for your attention over the next few years. In this
year's World Day of Peace Message I spoke of the essential contribution
that healthy family life makes to peace within and between nations. In
the family home we experience "some of the fundamental elements of
peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of
authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are
weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the
necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to
forgive them" (no. 3). The family is also the primary place for
evangelization, for passing on the faith, for helping young people to
appreciate the importance of religious practice and Sunday observance.
How can we not be dismayed as we observe the sharp decline of the
family as a basic element of Church and society? Divorce and infidelity
have increased, and many young men and women are choosing to postpone
marriage or to forego it altogether. To some young Catholics, the
sacramental bond of marriage seems scarcely distinguishable from a
civil bond, or even a purely informal and open-ended arrangement to
live with another person. Hence we have an alarming decrease in the
number of Catholic marriages in the United States together with an
increase in cohabitation, in which the Christ-like mutual self-giving
of spouses, sealed by a public promise to live out the demands of an
indissoluble lifelong commitment, is simply absent. In such
circumstances, children are denied the secure environment that they
need in order truly to flourish as human beings, and society is denied
the stable building blocks which it requires if the cohesion and moral
focus of the community are to be maintained.
As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II taught, "The person principally
responsible in the Diocese for the pastoral care of the family is the
Bishop ... he must devote to it personal interest, care, time,
personnel and resources, but above all personal support for the
families and for all those who … assist him in the pastoral care of the
family" (Familiaris Consortio, 73). It is your task to proclaim boldly
the arguments from faith and reason in favor of the institution of
marriage, understood as a lifelong commitment between a man and a
woman, open to the transmission of life. This message should resonate
with people today, because it is essentially an unconditional and
unreserved "yes" to life, a "yes" to love, and a "yes" to the
aspirations at the heart of our common humanity, as we strive to
fulfill our deep yearning for intimacy with others and with the Lord.
Among the countersigns to the Gospel of life found in America and
elsewhere is one that causes deep shame: the sexual abuse of minors.
Many of you have spoken to me of the enormous pain that your
communities have suffered when clerics have betrayed their priestly
obligations and duties by such gravely immoral behavior. As you strive
to eliminate this evil wherever it occurs, you may be assured of the
prayerful support of God's people throughout the world. Rightly, you
attach priority to showing compassion and care to the victims. It is
your God-given responsibility as pastors to bind up the wounds caused
by every breach of trust, to foster healing, to promote reconciliation
and to reach out with loving concern to those so seriously wronged.
Responding to this situation has not been easy and, as the President of
your Episcopal Conference has indicated, it was "sometimes very badly
handled". Now that the scale and gravity of the problem is more clearly
understood, you have been able to adopt more focused remedial and
disciplinary measures and to promote a safe environment that gives
greater protection to young people. While it must be remembered that
the overwhelming majority of clergy and religious in America do
outstanding work in bringing the liberating message of the Gospel to
the people entrusted to their care, it is vitally important that the
vulnerable always be shielded from those who would cause harm. In this
regard, your efforts to heal and protect are bearing great fruit not
only for those directly under your pastoral care, but for all of
If they are to achieve their full purpose, however, the policies and
programs you have adopted need to be placed in a wider context.
Children deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality
and its proper place in human relationships. They should be spared the
degrading manifestations and the crude manipulation of sexuality so
prevalent today. They have a right to be educated in authentic moral
values rooted in the dignity of the human person. This brings us back
to our consideration of the centrality of the family and the need to
promote the Gospel of life. What does it mean to speak of child
protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes
through media widely available today? We need to reassess urgently the
values underpinning society, so that a sound moral formation can be
offered to young people and adults alike. All have a part to play in
this task - not only parents, religious leaders, teachers and
catechists, but the media and entertainment industries as well. Indeed,
every member of society can contribute to this moral renewal and
benefit from it. Truly caring about young people and the future of our
civilization means recognizing our responsibility to promote and live
by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to
flourish. It falls to you, as pastors modelled upon Christ, the Good
Shepherd, to proclaim this message loud and clear, and thus to address
the sin of abuse within the wider context of sexual mores. Moreover, by
acknowledging and confronting the problem when it occurs in an
ecclesial setting, you can give a lead to others, since this scourge is
found not only within your Dioceses, but in every sector of society. It
calls for a determined, collective response.
Priests, too, need your guidance and closeness during this difficult
time. They have experienced shame over what has occurred, and there are
those who feel they have lost some of the trust and esteem they once
enjoyed. Not a few are experiencing a closeness to Christ in his
Passion as they struggle to come to terms with the consequences of the
crisis. The Bishop, as father, brother and friend of his priests, can
help them to draw spiritual fruit from this union with Christ by making
them aware of the Lord's consoling presence in the midst of their
suffering, and by encouraging them to walk with the Lord along the path
of hope (cf. Spe Salvi, 39). As Pope John Paul II observed six years
ago, "we must be confident that this time of trial will bring a
purification of the entire Catholic community", leading to "a holier
priesthood, a holier episcopate and a holier Church" (Address to the
Cardinals of the United States, 23 April 2002, 4). There are many signs
that, during the intervening period, such purification has indeed been
taking place. Christ's abiding presence in the midst of our suffering
is gradually transforming our darkness into light: all things are
indeed being made new in Christ Jesus our hope.
At this stage a vital part of your task is to strengthen relationships
with your clergy, especially in those cases where tension has arisen
between priests and their bishops in the wake of the crisis. It is
important that you continue to show them your concern, to support them,
and to lead by example. In this way you will surely help them to
encounter the living God, and point them towards the life-transforming
hope of which the Gospel speaks. If you yourselves live in a manner
closely configured to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life
for his sheep, you will inspire your brother priests to rededicate
themselves to the service of their flocks with Christ-like generosity.
Indeed a clearer focus upon the imitation of Christ in holiness of life
is exactly what is needed in order for us to move forward. We need to
rediscover the joy of living a Christ-centred life, cultivating the
virtues, and immersing ourselves in prayer. When the faithful know that
their pastor is a man who prays and who dedicates his life to serving
them, they respond with warmth and affection which nourishes and
sustains the life of the whole community.
Time spent in prayer is never wasted, however urgent the duties that
press upon us from every side. Adoration of Christ our Lord in the
Blessed Sacrament prolongs and intensifies the union with him that is
established through the Eucharistic celebration (cf. Sacramentum
Caritatis, 66). Contemplation of the mysteries of the Rosary releases
all their saving power and it conforms, unites and consecrates us to
Jesus Christ (cf. Rosarium Virginis Mariae, 11, 15). Fidelity to the
Liturgy of the Hours ensures that the whole of our day is sanctified
and it continually reminds us of the need to remain focused on doing
God's work, however many pressures and distractions may arise from the
task at hand. Thus our devotion helps us to speak and act in persona
Christi, to teach, govern and sanctify the faithful in the name of
Jesus, to bring his reconciliation, his healing and his love to all his
beloved brothers and sisters. This radical configuration to Christ, the
Good Shepherd, lies at the heart of our pastoral ministry, and if we
open ourselves through prayer to the power of the Spirit, he will give
us the gifts we need to carry out our daunting task, so that we need
never "be anxious how to speak or what to say" (Mt 10:19).
As I conclude my words to you this evening, I commend the Church in
your country most particularly to the maternal care and intercession of
Mary Immaculate, Patroness of the United States. May she who carried
within her womb the hope of all the nations intercede for the people of
this country, so that all may be made new in Jesus Christ her Son. My
dear Brother Bishops, I assure each of you here present of my deep
friendship and my participation in your pastoral concerns. To all of
you, and to your clergy, religious and lay faithful, I cordially impart
my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Lord.
* * *
1. The Holy Father is asked to give his assessment of the challenge of
increasing secularism in public life and relativism in intellectual
life, and his advice on how to confront these challenges pastorally and
evangelize more effectively.
I touched upon this theme briefly in my address. It strikes me as
significant that here in America, unlike many places in Europe, the
secular mentality has not been intrinsically opposed to religion.
Within the context of the separation of Church and State, American
society has always been marked by a fundamental respect for religion
and its public role, and, if polls are to be believed, the American
people are deeply religious. But it is not enough to count on this
traditional religiosity and go about business as usual, even as its
foundations are being slowly undermined. A serious commitment to
evangelization cannot prescind from a profound diagnosis of the real
challenges the Gospel encounters in contemporary American culture.
Of course, what is essential is a correct understanding of the just
autonomy of the secular order, an autonomy which cannot be divorced
from God the Creator and his saving plan (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 36).
Perhaps America's brand of secularism poses a particular problem: it
allows for professing belief in God, and respects the public role of
religion and the Churches, but at the same time it can subtly reduce
religious belief to a lowest common denominator. Faith becomes a
passive acceptance that certain things "out there" are true, but
without practical relevance for everyday life. The result is a growing
separation of faith from life: living "as if God did not exist". This
is aggravated by an individualistic and eclectic approach to faith and
religion: far from a Catholic approach to "thinking with the Church",
each person believes he or she has a right to pick and choose,
maintaining external social bonds but without an integral, interior
conversion to the law of Christ. Consequently, rather than being
transformed and renewed in mind, Christians are easily tempted to
conform themselves to the spirit of this age (cf. Rom 12:3). We have
seen this emerge in an acute way in the scandal given by Catholics who
promote an alleged right to abortion.
On a deeper level, secularism challenges the Church to reaffirm and to
pursue more actively her mission in and to the world. As the Council
made clear, the lay faithful have a particular responsibility in this
regard. What is needed, I am convinced, is a greater sense of the
intrinsic relationship between the Gospel and the natural law on the
one hand, and, on the other, the pursuit of authentic human good, as
embodied in civil law and in personal moral decisions. In a society
that rightly values personal liberty, the Church needs to promote at
every level of her teaching - in catechesis, preaching, seminary and
university instruction - an apologetics aimed at affirming the truth of
Christian revelation, the harmony of faith and reason, and a sound
understanding of freedom, seen in positive terms as a liberation both
from the limitations of sin and for an authentic and fulfilling life.
In a word, the Gospel has to be preached and taught as an integral way
of life, offering an attractive and true answer, intellectually and
practically, to real human problems. The "dictatorship of relativism",
in the end, is nothing less than a threat to genuine human freedom,
which only matures in generosity and fidelity to the truth.
Much more, of course, could be said on this subject: let me conclude,
though, by saying that I believe that the Church in America, at this
point in her history, is faced with the challenge of recapturing the
Catholic vision of reality and presenting it, in an engaging and
imaginative way, to a society which markets any number of recipes for
human fulfillment. I think in particular of our need to speak to the
hearts of young people, who, despite their constant exposure to
messages contrary to the Gospel, continue to thirst for authenticity,
goodness and truth. Much remains to be done, particularly on the level
of preaching and catechesis in parishes and schools, if the new
evangelization is to bear fruit for the renewal of ecclesial life in
2. The Holy Father is asked about "a certain quiet attrition" by which
Catholics are abandoning the practice of the faith, sometimes by an
explicit decision, but often by distancing themselves quietly and
gradually from attendance at Mass and identification with the Church.
Certainly, much of this has to do with the passing away of a religious
culture, sometimes disparagingly referred to as a "ghetto", which
reinforced participation and identification with the Church. As I just
mentioned, one of the great challenges facing the Church in this
country is that of cultivating a Catholic identity which is based not
so much on externals as on a way of thinking and acting grounded in the
Gospel and enriched by the Church's living tradition.
The issue clearly involves factors such as religious individualism and
scandal. Let us go to the heart of the matter: faith cannot survive
unless it is nourished, unless it is "formed by charity" (cf. Gal 5:6).
Do people today find it difficult to encounter God in our Churches? Has
our preaching lost its salt? Might it be that many people have
forgotten, or never really learned, how to pray in and with the Church?
Here I am not speaking of people who leave the Church in search of
subjective religious "experiences"; this is a pastoral issue which must
be addressed on its own terms. I think we are speaking about people who
have fallen by the wayside without consciously having rejected their
faith in Christ, but, for whatever reason, have not drawn life from the
liturgy, the sacraments, preaching. Yet Christian faith, as we know, is
essentially ecclesial, and without a living bond to the community, the
individual's faith will never grow to maturity. Indeed, to return to
the question I just discussed, the result can be a quiet apostasy.
So let me make two brief observations on the problem of "attrition",
which I hope will stimulate further reflection.
First, as you know, it is becoming more and more difficult, in our
Western societies, to speak in a meaningful way of "salvation". Yet
salvation - deliverance from the reality of evil, and the gift of new
life and freedom in Christ - is at the heart of the Gospel. We need to
discover, as I have suggested, new and engaging ways of proclaiming
this message and awakening a thirst for the fulfillment which only
Christ can bring. It is in the Church's liturgy, and above all in the
sacrament of the Eucharist, that these realities are most powerfully
expressed and lived in the life of believers; perhaps we still have
much to do in realizing the Council's vision of the liturgy as the
exercise of the common priesthood and the impetus for a fruitful
apostolate in the world.
Second, we need to acknowledge with concern the almost complete eclipse
of an eschatological sense in many of our traditionally Christian
societies. As you know, I have pointed to this problem in the
Encyclical Spe Salvi. Suffice it to say that faith and hope are not
limited to this world: as theological virtues, they unite us with the
Lord and draw us toward the fulfillment not only of our personal
destiny but also that of all creation. Faith and hope are the
inspiration and basis of our efforts to prepare for the coming of the
Kingdom of God. In Christianity, there can be no room for purely
private religion: Christ is the Savior of the world, and, as members of
his Body and sharers in his prophetic, priestly and royal munera, we
cannot separate our love for him from our commitment to the building up
of the Church and the extension of his Kingdom. To the extent that
religion becomes a purely private affair, it loses its very soul.
Let me conclude by stating the obvious. The fields are still ripe for
harvesting (cf. Jn 4:35); God continues to give the growth (cf. 1 Cor
3:6). We can and must believe, with the late Pope John Paul II, that
God is preparing a new springtime for Christianity (cf. Redemptoris
Missio, 86). What is needed above all, at this time in the history of
the Church in America, is a renewal of that apostolic zeal which
inspires her shepherds actively to seek out the lost, to bind up those
who have been wounded, and to bring strength to those who are
languishing (cf. Ez 34:16). And this, as I have said, calls for new
ways of thinking based on a sound diagnosis of today's challenges and a
commitment to unity in the service of the Church's mission to the
3. The Holy Father is asked to comment on the decline in vocations
despite the growing numbers of the Catholic population, and on the
reasons for hope offered by the personal qualities and the thirst for
holiness which characterize the candidates who do come forward.
Let us be quite frank: the ability to cultivate vocations to the
priesthood and the religious life is a sure sign of the health of a
local Church. There is no room for complacency in this regard. God
continues to call young people; it is up to all of us to to encourage a
generous and free response to that call. On the other hand, none of us
can take this grace for granted.
In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to pray that the Lord of the harvest will
send workers. He even admits that the workers are few in comparison
with the abundance of the harvest (cf. Mt 9:37-38). Strange to say, I
often think that prayer - the unum necessarium - is the one aspect of
vocations work which we tend to forget or to undervalue!
Nor am I speaking only of prayer for vocations. Prayer itself, born in
Catholic families, nurtured by programs of Christian formation,
strengthened by the grace of the sacraments, is the first means by
which we come to know the Lord's will for our lives. To the extent that
we teach young people to pray, and to pray well, we will be cooperating
with God's call. Programs, plans and projects have their place; but the
discernment of a vocation is above all the fruit of an intimate
dialogue between the Lord and his disciples. Young people, if they know
how to pray, can be trusted to know what to do with God's call.
It has been noted that there is a growing thirst for holiness in many
young people today, and that, although fewer in number, those who come
forward show great idealism and much promise. It is important to listen
to them, to understand their experiences, and to encourage them to help
their peers to see the need for committed priests and religious, as
well as the beauty of a life of sacrificial service to the Lord and his
Church. To my mind, much is demanded of vocation directors and
formators: candidates today, as much as ever, need to be given a sound
intellectual and human formation which will enable them not only to
respond to the real questions and needs of their contemporaries, but
also to mature in their own conversion and to persevere in life-long
commitment to their vocation. As Bishops, you are conscious of the
sacrifice demanded when you are asked to release one of your finest
priests for seminary work. I urge you to respond with generosity, for
the good of the whole Church.
Finally, I think you know from experience that most of your brother
priests are happy in their vocation. What I said in my address about
the importance of unity and cooperation within the presbyterate applies
here too. There is a need for all of us to move beyond sterile
divisions, disagreements and preconceptions, and to listen together to
the voice of the Spirit who is guiding the Church into a future of
hope. Each of us knows how important priestly fraternity has been in
our lives. That fraternity is not only a precious possession, but also
an immense resource for the renewal of the priesthood and the raising
up of new vocations. I would close by encouraging you to foster
opportunities for ever greater dialogue and fraternal encounter among
your priests, and especially the younger priests. I am convinced that
this will bear great fruit for their own enrichment, for the increase
of their love for the priesthood and the Church, and for the
effectiveness of their apostolate.
Dear Brother Bishops. with these few observations, I once more
encourage all of you in your ministry to the faithful entrusted to your
pastoral care, and I commend you to the loving intercession of Mary
Immaculate, Mother of the Church.
* * *
Before leaving, I would like to pause to acknowledge the immense
suffering endured by the people of God in the Archdiocese of New
Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina, as well as their courage in
the challenging work of rebuilding. I would like to present Archbishop
Alfred Hughes with a chalice, which I hope will be accepted as a sign
of my prayerful solidarity with the faithful of the Archdiocese, and my
personal gratitude for the tireless devotion which he and Archbishops
Philip Hannan and Francis Schulte showed toward the flock entrusted to
Pope's Homily at Nationals
"Americans Have Always Been a People of Hope"
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2008 - Here is the homily Benedict XVI gave
today during Mass at Washington Nationals stadium.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
"Peace be with you!" (Jn 20:19). With these, the first words of the
Risen Lord to his disciples, I greet all of you in the joy of this
Easter season. Before all else, I thank God for the blessing of being
in your midst. I am particularly grateful to Archbishop Wuerl for his
kind words of welcome.
Our Mass today brings the Church in the United States back to its roots
in nearby Maryland, and commemorates the bicentennial of the first
chapter of its remarkable growth -- the division by my predecessor,
Pope Pius VII, of the original Diocese of Baltimore and the
establishment of the Dioceses of Boston, Bardstown (now Louisville),
New York and Philadelphia. Two hundred years later, the Church in
America can rightfully praise the accomplishment of past generations in
bringing together widely differing immigrant groups within the unity of
the Catholic faith and in a common commitment to the spread of the
Gospel. At the same time, conscious of its rich diversity, the Catholic
community in this country has come to appreciate ever more fully the
importance of each individual and group offering its own particular
gifts to the whole. The Church in the United States is now called to
look to the future, firmly grounded in the faith passed on by previous
generations, and ready to meet new challenges -- challenges no less
demanding than those faced by your forebears -- with the hope born of
God’s love, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5).
In the exercise of my ministry as the Successor of Peter, I have come
to America to confirm you, my brothers and sisters, in the faith of the
Apostles (cf. Lk 22:32). I have come to proclaim anew, as Peter
proclaimed on the day of Pentecost, that Jesus Christ is Lord and
Messiah, risen from the dead, seated in glory at the right hand of the
Father, and established as judge of the living and the dead (cf. Acts
2:14ff.). I have come to repeat the Apostle’s urgent call to conversion
and the forgiveness of sins, and to implore from the Lord a new
outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the Church in this country. As we
have heard throughout this Easter season, the Church was born of the
Spirit’s gift of repentance and faith in the risen Lord. In every age
she is impelled by the same Spirit to bring to men and women of every
race, language and people (cf. Rev 5:9) the good news of our
reconciliation with God in Christ.
The readings of today’s Mass invite us to consider the growth of the
Church in America as one chapter in the greater story of the Church’s
expansion following the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. In
those readings we see the inseparable link between the risen Lord, the
gift of the Spirit for the forgiveness of sins, and the mystery of the
Church. Christ established his Church on the foundation of the Apostles
(cf. Rev 21:14) as a visible, structured community which is at the same
time a spiritual communion, a mystical body enlivened by the Spirit’s
manifold gifts, and the sacrament of salvation for all humanity (cf.
Lumen Gentium, 8). In every time and place, the Church is called to
grow in unity through constant conversion to Christ, whose saving work
is proclaimed by the Successors of the Apostles and celebrated in the
sacraments. This unity, in turn, gives rise to an unceasing missionary
outreach, as the Spirit spurs believers to proclaim "the great works of
God" and to invite all people to enter the community of those saved by
the blood of Christ and granted new life in his Spirit.
I pray, then, that this significant anniversary in the life of the
Church in the United States, and the presence of the Successor of Peter
in your midst, will be an occasion for all Catholics to reaffirm their
unity in the apostolic faith, to offer their contemporaries a
convincing account of the hope which inspires them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15),
and to be renewed in missionary zeal for the extension of God’s Kingdom.
The world needs this witness! Who can deny that the present moment is a
crossroads, not only for the Church in America but also for society as
a whole? It is a time of great promise, as we see the human family in
many ways drawing closer together and becoming ever more
interdependent. Yet at the same time we see clear signs of a disturbing
breakdown in the very foundations of society: signs of alienation,
anger and polarization on the part of many of our contemporaries;
increased violence; a weakening of the moral sense; a coarsening of
social relations; and a growing forgetfulness of God. The Church, too,
sees signs of immense promise in her many strong parishes and vital
movements, in the enthusiasm for the faith shown by so many young
people, in the number of those who each year embrace the Catholic
faith, and in a greater interest in prayer and catechesis. At the same
time she senses, often painfully, the presence of division and
polarization in her midst, as well as the troubling realization that
many of the baptized, rather than acting as a spiritual leaven in the
world, are inclined to embrace attitudes contrary to the truth of the
"Lord, send out your Spirit, and renew the face of the earth!" (cf. Ps
104:30). The words of today’s Responsorial Psalm are a prayer which
rises up from the heart of the Church in every time and place. They
remind us that the Holy Spirit has been poured out as the first fruits
of a new creation, "new heavens and a new earth" (cf. 2 Pet 3:13; Rev
21:1), in which God’s peace will reign and the human family will be
reconciled in justice and love. We have heard Saint Paul tell us that
all creation is even now "groaning" in expectation of that true freedom
which is God’s gift to his children (Rom 8:21-22), a freedom which
enables us to live in conformity to his will. Today let us pray
fervently that the Church in America will be renewed in that same
Spirit, and sustained in her mission of proclaiming the Gospel to a
world that longs for genuine freedom (cf. Jn 8:32), authentic
happiness, and the fulfillment of its deepest aspirations!
Here I wish to offer a special word of gratitude and encouragement to
all those who have taken up the challenge of the Second Vatican
Council, so often
reiterated by Pope John Paul II, and committed their
lives to the new evangelization. I thank my brother Bishops, priests
and deacons, men and women religious, parents, teachers and catechists.
The fidelity and courage with which the Church in this country will
respond to the challenges raised by an increasingly secular and
materialistic culture will depend in large part upon your own fidelity
in handing on the treasure of our Catholic faith. Young people need to
be helped to discern the path that leads to true freedom: the path of a
sincere and generous imitation of Christ, the path of commitment to
justice and peace. Much progress has been made in developing solid
programs of catechesis, yet so much more remains to be done in forming
the hearts and minds of the young in knowledge and love of the Lord.
The challenges confronting us require a comprehensive and sound
instruction in the truths of the faith. But they also call for
cultivating a mindset, an intellectual "culture", which is genuinely
Catholic, confident in the profound harmony of faith and reason, and
prepared to bring the richness of faith’s vision to bear on the urgent
issues which affect the future of American society.
Dear friends, my visit to the United States is meant to be a witness to
"Christ our Hope". Americans have always been a people of hope: your
ancestors came to this country with the expectation of finding new
freedom and opportunity, while the vastness of the unexplored
wilderness inspired in them the hope of being able to start completely
anew, building a new nation on new foundations. To be sure, this
promise was not experienced by all the inhabitants of this land; one
thinks of the injustices endured by the native American peoples and by
those brought here forcibly from Africa as slaves. Yet hope, hope for
the future, is very much a part of the American character. And the
Christian virtue of hope -- the hope poured into our hearts by the Holy
Spirit, the hope which supernaturally purifies and corrects our
aspirations by focusing them on the Lord and his saving plan -- that
hope has also marked, and continues to mark, the life of the Catholic
community in this country.
It is in the context of this hope born of God’s love and fidelity that
I acknowledge the pain which the Church in America has experienced as a
result of the sexual abuse of minors. No words of mine could describe
the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse. It is important that those
who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention. Nor can I
adequately describe the damage that has occurred within the community
of the Church. Great efforts have already been made to deal honestly
and fairly with this tragic situation, and to ensure that children --
whom our Lord loves so deeply (cf. Mk 10:14), and who are our greatest
treasure -- can grow up in a safe environment. These efforts to protect
children must continue. Yesterday I spoke with your Bishops about this.
Today I encourage each of you to do what you can to foster healing and
reconciliation, and to assist those who have been hurt. Also, I ask you
to love your priests, and to affirm them in the excellent work that
they do. And above all, pray that the Holy Spirit will pour out his
gifts upon the Church, the gifts that lead to conversion, forgiveness
and growth in holiness.
Saint Paul speaks, as we heard in the second reading, of a kind of
prayer which arises from the depths of our hearts in sighs too deep for
words, in "groanings" (Rom 8:26) inspired by the Spirit. This is a
prayer which yearns, in the midst of chastisement, for the fulfillment
of God’s promises. It is a prayer of unfailing hope, but also one of
patient endurance and, often, accompanied by suffering for the truth.
Through this prayer, we share in the mystery of Christ’s own weakness
and suffering, while trusting firmly in the victory of his Cross. With
this prayer, may the Church in America embrace ever more fully the way
of conversion and fidelity to the demands of the Gospel. And may all
Catholics experience the consolation of hope, and the Spirit’s gifts of
joy and strength.
In today’s Gospel, the risen Lord bestows the gift of the Holy Spirit
upon the Apostles and grants them the authority to forgive sins.
Through the surpassing power of Christ’s grace, entrusted to frail
human ministers, the Church is constantly reborn and each of us is
given the hope of a new beginning. Let us trust in the Spirit’s power
to inspire conversion, to heal every wound, to overcome every division,
and to inspire new life and freedom. How much we need these gifts! And
how close at hand they are, particularly in the sacrament of Penance!
The liberating power of this sacrament, in which our honest confession
of sin is met by God’s merciful word of pardon and peace, needs to be
rediscovered and reappropriated by every Catholic. To a great extent,
the renewal of the Church in America depends on the renewal of the
practice of Penance and the growth in holiness which that sacrament
both inspires and accomplishes.
"In hope we were saved!" (Rom 8:24). As the Church in the United States
gives thanks for the blessings of the past two hundred years, I invite
you, your families, and every parish and religious community, to trust
in the power of grace to create a future of promise for God’s people in
this country. I ask you, in the Lord Jesus, to set aside all division
and to work with joy to prepare a way for him, in fidelity to his word
and in constant conversion to his will. Above all, I urge you to
continue to be a leaven of evangelical hope in American society,
striving to bring the light and truth of the Gospel to the task of
building an ever more just and free world for generations yet to come.
Those who have hope must live different lives! (cf. Spe Salvi, 2). By
your prayers, by the witness of your faith, by the fruitfulness of your
charity, may you point the way towards that vast horizon of hope which
God is even now opening up to his Church, and indeed to all humanity:
the vision of a world reconciled and renewed in Christ Jesus, our
Savior. To him be all honor and glory, now and forever. Amen.
© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[The Pope continued
Dear Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters:
I want to greet you with the same words that the Risen Jesus spoke to
his apostles, "Peace be with you" (John 20:19). May the joy of knowing
that the Lord has triumphed over death and sin help you to be, wherever
you are, witnesses of his love and sowers of the hope that he came to
bring us and that never disappoints.
Do not allow yourselves to be overcome by pessimism, inertia or
problems. Instead, faithful to the commitments you acquired in your
baptism, go deeper each day in the knowledge of Christ and allow your
hearts to be conquered by his love and pardon.
The Church in the United States, welcoming in its bosom so many of its
immigrant children, has been growing also thanks to the vitality of the
testimony of faith from Spanish-speaking faithful. For this, the Lord
calls you to continue contributing to the future of the Church in this
country and the spreading of the Gospel. Only if you are united to
Christ and among yourselves, will your evangelizing testimony be
credible and bloom with copious fruits of peace and reconciliation in
the midst of a world many times marked by division and conflicts.
The Church hopes much from you. In your generous commitment, do not let
it down. "What you have received freely, give freely" (Matthew 10:8).
Benedict XVI's Address to
"Freedom Is Not an Opting out, it Is an Opting In"
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict
gave today to a meeting of more than 400 Catholic educators at the
Catholic University of America.
* * *
Dear Brother Bishops,
Distinguished Professors, Teachers and Educators,
"How beautiful are the footsteps of those who bring good news" (Rom
10:15-17). With these words of Isaiah quoted by Saint Paul, I warmly
greet each of you -- bearers of wisdom -- and through you the staff,
students and families of the many and varied institutions of learning
that you represent. It is my great pleasure to meet you and to share
with you some thoughts regarding the nature and identity of Catholic
education today. I especially wish to thank Father David O'Connell,
President and Rector of the Catholic University of America. Your kind
words of welcome are much appreciated. Please extend my heartfelt
gratitude to the entire community - faculty, staff and students - of
Education is integral to the mission of the Church to proclaim the Good
News. First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a
place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his
transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4). This relationship
elicits a desire to grow in the knowledge and understanding of Christ
and his teaching. In this way those who meet him are drawn by the very
power of the Gospel to lead a new life characterized by all that is
beautiful, good, and true; a life of Christian witness nurtured and
strengthened within the community of our Lord's disciples, the Church.
The dynamic between personal encounter, knowledge and Christian witness
is integral to the diakonia of truth which the Church exercises in the
midst of humanity. God's revelation offers every generation the
opportunity to discover the ultimate truth about its own life and the
goal of history. This task is never easy; it involves the entire
Christian community and motivates each generation of Christian
educators to ensure that the power of God's truth permeates every
dimension of the institutions they serve. In this way, Christ's Good
News is set to work, guiding both teacher and student towards the
objective truth which, in transcending the particular and the
subjective, points to the universal and absolute that enables us to
proclaim with confidence the hope which does not disappoint (cf. Rom
5:5). Set against personal struggles, moral confusion and fragmentation
of knowledge, the noble goals of scholarship and education, founded on
the unity of truth and in service of the person and the community,
become an especially powerful instrument of hope.
friends, the history of this nation includes many examples of the
Church's commitment in this regard. The Catholic community here has in
fact made education one of its highest priorities. This undertaking has
not come without great sacrifice. Towering figures, like Saint
Elizabeth Ann Seton and other founders and foundresses, with great
tenacity and foresight, laid the foundations of what is today a
remarkable network of parochial schools contributing to the spiritual
well-being of the Church and the nation. Some, like Saint Katharine
Drexel, devoted their lives to educating those whom others had
neglected -- in her case, African Americans and Native Americans.
Countless dedicated Religious Sisters, Brothers, and Priests together
with selfless parents have, through Catholic schools, helped
generations of immigrants to rise from poverty and take their place in
This sacrifice continues today. It is an outstanding apostolate of
hope, seeking to address the material, intellectual and spiritual needs
of over three million children and students. It also provides a highly
commendable opportunity for the entire Catholic community to contribute
generously to the financial needs of our institutions. Their long-term
sustainability must be assured. Indeed, everything possible must be
done, in cooperation with the wider community, to ensure that they are
accessible to people of all social and economic strata. No child should
be denied his or her right to an education in faith, which in turn
nurtures the soul of a nation.
Some today question the Church's involvement in education, wondering
whether her resources might be better placed elsewhere. Certainly in a
nation such as this, the State provides ample opportunities for
education and attracts committed and generous men and women to this
honorable profession. It is timely, then, to reflect on what is
particular to our Catholic institutions. How do they contribute to the
good of society through the Church's primary mission of evangelization?
All the Church's activities stem from her awareness that she is the
bearer of a message which has its origin in God himself: in his
goodness and wisdom, God chose to reveal himself and to make known the
hidden purpose of his will (cf. Eph 1:9; Dei Verbum, 2). God's desire
to make himself known, and the innate desire of all human beings to
know the truth, provide the context for human inquiry into the meaning
of life. This unique encounter is sustained within our Christian
community: the one who seeks the truth becomes the one who lives by
faith (cf. Fides et Ratio, 31). It can be described as a move from "I"
to "we", leading the individual to be numbered among God's people.
This same dynamic of communal identity -- to whom do I belong? --
vivifies the ethos of our Catholic institutions. A university or
school's Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of
Catholic students. It is a question of conviction -- do we really
believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the
mystery of man truly become clear (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22)? Are we
ready to commit our entire self -- intellect and will, mind and heart
-- to God? Do we accept the truth Christ reveals? Is the faith tangible
in our universities and schools? Is it given fervent expression
liturgically, sacramentally, through prayer, acts of charity, a concern
for justice, and respect for God's creation? Only in this way do we
really bear witness to the meaning of who we are and what we uphold.
From this perspective one can recognize that the contemporary "crisis
of truth" is rooted in a "crisis of faith". Only through faith can we
freely give our assent to God's testimony and acknowledge him as the
transcendent guarantor of the truth he reveals. Again, we see why
fostering personal intimacy with Jesus Christ and communal witness to
his loving truth is indispensable in Catholic institutions of learning.
Yet we all know, and observe with concern, the difficulty or reluctance
many people have today in entrusting themselves to God. It is a complex
phenomenon and one which I ponder continually. While we have sought
diligently to engage the intellect of our young, perhaps we have
neglected the will. Subsequently we observe, with distress, the notion
of freedom being distorted. Freedom is not an opting out. It is an
opting in -- a participation in Being itself. Hence authentic freedom
can never be attained by turning away from God. Such a choice would
ultimately disregard the very truth we need in order to understand
ourselves. A particular responsibility therefore for each of you, and
your colleagues, is to evoke among the young the desire for the act of
faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that
follows from this belief. It is here that freedom reaches the certainty
of truth. In choosing to live by that truth, we embrace the fullness of
the life of faith which is given to us in the Church.
Clearly, then, Catholic identity is not dependent upon statistics.
Neither can it be equated simply with orthodoxy of course content. It
demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of
your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of
faith. Only in faith can truth become incarnate and reason truly human,
capable of directing the will along the path of freedom (cf. Spe Salvi,
23). In this way our institutions make a vital contribution to the
mission of the Church and truly serve society. They become places in
which God's active presence in human affairs is recognized and in which
every young person discovers the joy of entering into Christ's "being
for others" (cf. ibid., 28).
The Church's primary mission of evangelization, in which educational
institutions play a crucial role, is consonant with a nation's
fundamental aspiration to develop a society truly worthy of the human
person's dignity. At times, however, the value of the Church's
contribution to the public forum is questioned. It is important
therefore to recall that the truths of faith and of reason never
contradict one another (cf. First Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic
Constitution on the Catholic Faith Dei Filius, IV: DS 3017; St.
Augustine, Contra Academicos, III, 20, 43). The Church's mission, in
fact, involves her in humanity's struggle to arrive at truth. In
articulating revealed truth she serves all members of society by
purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of
ultimate truths. Drawing upon divine wisdom, she sheds light on the
foundation of human morality and ethics, and reminds all groups in
society that it is not praxis that creates truth but truth that should
serve as the basis of praxis. Far from undermining the tolerance of
legitimate diversity, such a contribution illuminates the very truth
which makes consensus attainable, and helps to keep public debate
rational, honest and accountable. Similarly the Church never tires of
upholding the essential moral categories of right and wrong, without
which hope could only wither, giving way to cold pragmatic calculations
of utility which render the person little more than a pawn on some
With regard to the educational forum, the diakonia of truth takes on a
heightened significance in societies where secularist ideology drives a
wedge between truth and faith. This division has led to a tendency to
equate truth with knowledge and to adopt a positivistic mentality
which, in rejecting metaphysics, denies the foundations of faith and
rejects the need for a moral vision. Truth means more than knowledge:
knowing the truth leads us to discover the good. Truth speaks to the
individual in his or her the entirety, inviting us to respond with our
whole being. This optimistic vision is found in our Christian faith
because such faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, God's
creative Reason, which in the Incarnation, is revealed as Goodness
itself. Far from being just a communication of factual data -
"informative" - the loving truth of the Gospel is creative and
life-changing - "performative" (cf. Spe Salvi, 2). With confidence,
Christian educators can liberate the young from the limits of
positivism and awaken receptivity to the truth, to God and his
goodness. In this way you will also help to form their conscience
which, enriched by faith, opens a sure path to inner peace and to
respect for others.
It comes as no surprise, then, that not just our own ecclesial
communities but society in general has high expectations of Catholic
educators. This places upon you a responsibility and offers an
opportunity. More and more people - parents in particular - recognize
the need for excellence in the human formation of their children. As
Mater et Magistra, the Church shares their concern. When nothing beyond
the individual is recognized as definitive, the ultimate criterion of
judgment becomes the self and the satisfaction of the individual's
immediate wishes. The objectivity and perspective, which can only come
through a recognition of the essential transcendent dimension of the
human person, can be lost. Within such a relativistic horizon the goals
of education are inevitably curtailed. Slowly, a lowering of standards
occurs. We observe today a timidity in the face of the category of the
good and an aimless pursuit of novelty parading as the realization of
freedom. We witness an assumption that every experience is of equal
worth and a reluctance to admit imperfection and mistakes. And
particularly disturbing, is the reduction of the precious and delicate
area of education in sexuality to management of 'risk', bereft of any
reference to the beauty of conjugal love.
How might Christian educators respond? These harmful developments point
to the particular urgency of what we might call "intellectual charity".
This aspect of charity calls the educator to recognize that the
profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than
an act of love. Indeed, the dignity of education lies in fostering the
true perfection and happiness of those to be educated. In practice
"intellectual charity" upholds the essential unity of knowledge against
the fragmentation which ensues when reason is detached from the pursuit
of truth. It guides the young towards the deep satisfaction of
exercising freedom in relation to truth, and it strives to articulate
the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic
life. Once their passion for the fullness and unity of truth has been
awakened, young people will surely relish the discovery that the
question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they
ought to do. Here they will experience "in what" and "in whom" it is
possible to hope, and be inspired to contribute to society in a way
that engenders hope in others.
Dear friends, I wish to conclude by focusing our attention specifically
on the paramount importance of your own professionalism and witness
within our Catholic universities and schools. First, let me thank you
for your dedication and generosity. I know from my own days as a
professor, and I have heard from your Bishops and officials of the
Congregation for Catholic Education, that the reputation of Catholic
institutes of learning in this country is largely due to yourselves and
your predecessors. Your selfless contributions - from outstanding
research to the dedication of those working in inner-city schools -
serve both your country and the Church. For this I express my profound
In regard to faculty members at Catholic colleges universities, I wish
to reaffirm the great value of academic freedom. In virtue of this
freedom you are called to search for the truth wherever careful
analysis of evidence leads you. Yet it is also the case that any appeal
to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that
contradict the faith and the teaching of the Church would obstruct or
even betray the university's identity and mission; a mission at the
heart of the Church's munus docendi and not somehow autonomous or
independent of it.
Teachers and administrators, whether in universities or schools, have
the duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in
Catholic doctrine and practice. This requires that public witness to
the way of Christ, as found in the Gospel and upheld by the Church's
Magisterium, shapes all aspects of an institution's life, both inside
and outside the classroom. Divergence from this vision weakens Catholic
identity and, far from advancing freedom, inevitably leads to
confusion, whether moral, intellectual or spiritual.
I wish also to express a particular word of encouragement to both lay
and Religious teachers of catechesis who strive to ensure that young
people become daily more appreciative of the gift of faith. Religious
education is a challenging apostolate, yet there are many signs of a
desire among young people to learn about the faith and practice it with
vigor. If this awakening is to grow, teachers require a clear and
precise understanding of the specific nature and role of Catholic
education. They must also be ready to lead the commitment made by the
entire school community to assist our young people, and their families,
to experience the harmony between faith, life and culture.
Here I wish to make a special appeal to Religious Brothers, Sisters and
Priests: do not abandon the school apostolate; indeed, renew your
commitment to schools especially those in poorer areas. In places where
there are many hollow promises which lure young people away from the
path of truth and genuine freedom, the consecrated person's witness to
the evangelical counsels is an irreplaceable gift. I encourage the
Religious present to bring renewed enthusiasm to the promotion of
vocations. Know that your witness to the ideal of consecration and
mission among the young is a source of great inspiration in faith for
them and their families.
To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with
prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet
3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them
to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness
you have experienced with joy. With Saint Augustine, let us say: "we
who speak and you who listen acknowledge ourselves as fellow disciples
of a single teacher" (Sermons, 23:2). With these sentiments of
communion, I gladly impart to you, your colleagues and students, and to
your families, my Apostolic Blessing.
© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to Interreligious
"A United Society Can Indeed Arise From a Plurality of Peoples"
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI gave today to an interreligious meeting at the Pope John
Paul II Cultural Center. The theme of the meeting was "Peace Our Hope."
* * *
My dear friends,
I am pleased to
have this occasion to meet with you today. I thank
Bishop Sklba for his words of welcome, and I cordially greet all those
in attendance representing various religions in the United States of
America. Several of you kindly accepted the invitation to compose the
reflections contained in today's program. For your thoughtful words on
how each of your traditions bears witness to peace, I am particularly
grateful. Thank you all.
This country has a long history of cooperation between different
religions in many spheres of public life. Interreligious prayer
services during the national feast of Thanksgiving, joint initiatives
in charitable activities, a shared voice on important public issues:
these are some ways in which members of different religions come
together to enhance mutual understanding and promote the common good. I
encourage all religious groups in America to persevere in their
collaboration and thus enrich public life with the spiritual values
that motivate your action in the world.
The place where we are now gathered was founded specifically for
promoting this type of collaboration. Indeed, the Pope John Paul II
Cultural Center seeks to offer a Christian voice to the "human search
for meaning and purpose in life" in a world of "varied religious,
ethnic and cultural communities" (Mission Statement). This institution
reminds us of this nation's conviction that all people should be free
to pursue happiness in a way consonant with their nature as creatures
endowed with reason and free will.
Americans have always valued the ability to worship freely and in
accordance with their conscience. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French
historian and observer of American affairs, was fascinated with this
aspect of the nation. He remarked that this is a country in which
religion and freedom are "intimately linked" in contributing to a
stable democracy that fosters social virtues and participation in the
communal life of all its citizens. In urban areas, it is common for
individuals from different cultural backgrounds and religions to engage
with one another daily in commercial, social and educational settings.
Today, in classrooms throughout the country, young Christians, Jews,
Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and indeed children of all religions sit
side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This
diversity gives rise to new challenges that spark a deeper reflection
on the core principles of a democratic society. May others take heart
from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise
from a plurality of peoples -- "E pluribus unum": "out of many, one" --
provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right
(cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 2).
The task of upholding religious freedom is never completed. New
situations and challenges invite citizens and leaders to reflect on how
their decisions respect this basic human right. Protecting religious
freedom within the rule of law does not guarantee that peoples --
particularly minorities -- will be spared from unjust forms of
discrimination and prejudice. This requires constant effort on the part
of all members of society to ensure that citizens are afforded the
opportunity to worship peaceably and to pass on their religious
heritage to their children.
The transmission of religious traditions to succeeding generations not
only helps to preserve a heritage; it also sustains and nourishes the
surrounding culture in the present day. The same holds true for
dialogue between religions; both the participants and society are
enriched. As we grow in understanding of one another, we see that we
share an esteem for ethical values, discernable to human reason, which
are revered by all peoples of goodwill. The world begs for a common
witness to these values. I therefore invite all religious people to
view dialogue not only as a means of enhancing mutual understanding,
but also as a way of serving society at large. By bearing witness to
those moral truths which they hold in common with all men and women of
goodwill, religious groups will exert a positive influence on the wider
culture, and inspire neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens to join
in the task of strengthening the ties of solidarity. In the words of
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: "no greater thing could come to
our land today than a revival of the spirit of faith".
A concrete example of the contribution religious communities make to
civil society is faith-based schools. These institutions enrich
children both intellectually and spiritually. Led by their teachers to
discover the divinely bestowed dignity of each human being, young
people learn to respect the beliefs and practices of others, thus
enhancing a nation's civic life.
What an enormous responsibility religious leaders have: to imbue
society with a profound awe and respect for human life and freedom; to
ensure that human dignity is recognized and cherished; to facilitate
peace and justice; to teach children what is right, good and reasonable!
There is a further point I wish to touch upon here. I have noticed a
growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to
promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are
praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom,
interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more
than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for
advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the
truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and
evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by
addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the
peace and security of the human family, for "wherever and whenever men
and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set
out on the path of peace" (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).
We are living in an age when these questions are too often
marginalized. Yet they can never be erased from the human heart.
Throughout history, men and women have striven to articulate their
restlessness with this passing world. In the Judeo-Christian tradition,
the Psalms are full of such expressions: "My spirit is overwhelmed
within me" (Ps 143:4; cf. Ps 6:6; 31:10; 32:3; 38:8; 77:3); "why are
you cast down, my soul, why groan within me?" (Ps 42:5). The response
is always one of faith: "Hope in God, I will praise him still; my
Savior and my God" (Ps 42:5, 11; cf. Ps 43:5; 62:5). Spiritual leaders
have a special duty, and we might say competence, to place the deeper
questions at the forefront of human consciousness, to reawaken mankind
to the mystery of human existence, and to make space in a frenetic
world for reflection and prayer.
Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and
destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we
believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile
man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he
whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent
desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds
and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26).
Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps
we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences
with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in
the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of
truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common
set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no
reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship
between the world and God. We are able to perceive that peace is a
"heavenly gift" that calls us to conform human history to the divine
order. Herein lies the "truth of peace" (cf. Message for the 2006 World
Day of Peace).
As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue
requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this
regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums
for a candid exchange of religious ideas. The Holy See, for its part,
seeks to carry forward this important work through the Pontifical
Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Institute for
Arabic and Islamic Studies, and various Pontifical Universities.
Dear friends, let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all
people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May
the followers of all religions stand together in defending and
promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves
generously to this sacred task -- through dialogue and countless small
acts of love, understanding and compassion -- we can be instruments of
peace for the whole human family.
Peace upon you all!
© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pontiff's Greeting to Jewish Community
"The Past 40 Years Has Fundamentally Changed Our Relationship for the
WASHINGTON, D.C., APRIL 17, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the greeting and
message Benedict XVI gave today to the Jewish community.
* * *
My dear friends,
I extend special
greetings of peace to the Jewish community in the
United States and throughout the world as you prepare to celebrate the
annual feast of Pesah. My visit to this country has coincided with this
feast, allowing me to meet with you personally and to assure you of my
prayers as you recall the signs and wonders God performed in liberating
his chosen people. Motivated by our common spiritual heritage, I am
pleased to entrust to you this message as a testimony to our hope
centered on the Almighty and his mercy.
* * *
To the Jewish community on the Feast of Pesah
My visit to the United States offers me the occasion to extend a warm
and heartfelt greeting to my Jewish brothers and sisters in this
country and throughout the world. A greeting that is all the more
spiritually intense because the great feast of Pesah is approaching.
"This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a
feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you shall observe it as
an ordinance for ever" (Exodus 12: 14). While the Christian celebration
of Easter differs in many ways from your celebration of Pesah, we
understand and experience it in continuation with the biblical
narrative of the mighty works which the Lord accomplished for his
At this time of your most solemn celebration, I feel particularly
close, precisely because of what Nostra Aetate calls Christians to
remember always: that the Church "received the revelation of the Old
Testament through the people with whom God in His inexpressible mercy
concluded the Ancient Covenant. Nor can she forget that she draws
sustenance from the root of that well-cultivated olive tree onto which
have been grafted the wild shoots, the Gentiles" (Nostra Aetate, 4). In
addressing myself to you I wish to re-affirm the Second Vatican
Council's teaching on Catholic-Jewish relations and reiterate the
Church's commitment to the dialogue that in the past forty years has
fundamentally changed our relationship for the better.
Because of that growth in trust and friendship, Christians and Jews can
rejoice together in the deep spiritual ethos of the Passover, a
memorial (zikkarôn) of freedom and redemption. Each year, when we
listen to the Passover story we return to that blessed night of
liberation. This holy time of the year should be a call to both our
communities to pursue justice, mercy, solidarity with the stranger in
the land, with the widow and orphan, as Moses commanded: "But you shall
remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed
you from there; therefore I command you to do this" (Deuteronomy 24:
At the Passover Sèder you recall the holy patriarchs Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob, and the holy women of Israel, Sarah, Rebecca, Rachael
and Leah, the beginning of the long line of sons and daughters of the
Covenant. With the passing of time the Covenant assumes an ever more
universal value, as the promise made to Abraham takes form: "I will
bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing...
All the communities of the earth shall find blessing in you" (Genesis
12: 2-3). Indeed, according to the prophet Isaiah, the hope of
redemption extends to the whole of humanity: "Many peoples will come
and say: 'Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house
of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk
in his paths'" (Isaiah 2: 3). Within this eschatological horizon is
offered a real prospect of universal brotherhood on the path of justice
and peace, preparing the way of the Lord (cf. Isaiah 62: 10).
Christians and Jews share this hope; we are in fact, as the prophets
say, "prisoners of hope" (Zachariah 9: 12). This bond permits us
Christians to celebrate alongside you, though in our own way, the
Passover of Christ's death and resurrection, which we see as
inseparable from your own, for Jesus himself said: "salvation is from
the Jews" (John 4: 22). Our Easter and your Pesah, while distinct and
different, unite us in our common hope centered on God and his mercy.
They urge us to cooperate with each other and with all men and women of
goodwill to make this a better world for all as we await the
fulfillment of God's promises.
With respect and friendship, I therefore ask the Jewish community to
accept my Pesah greeting in a spirit of openness to the real
possibilities of cooperation which we see before us as we contemplate
the urgent needs of our world, and as we look with compassion upon the
sufferings of millions of our brothers and sisters everywhere.
Naturally, our shared hope for peace in the world embraces the Middle
East and the Holy Land in particular. May the memory of God's mercies,
which Jews and Christians celebrate at this festive time, inspire all
those responsible for the future of that region-where the events
surrounding God's revelation actually took place-to new efforts, and
especially to new attitudes and a new purification of hearts!
In my heart I repeat with you the psalm of the paschal Hallel (Psalm
118: 1-4), invoking abundant divine blessings upon you: "O give thanks
to the Lord, for he is good; his steadfast love endures forever. Let
Israel say, 'His steadfast love endures forever.' . . . Let those who
fear the Lord say, 'His steadfast love endures forever'."
From the Vatican, 14 April 2008
"In So Many Ways, Our Mission Unites Us With Yours"
NEW YORK, APRIL 18, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is the speech given by U.N.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon prior to Benedict XVI's address to the
* * *
I am deeply grateful to His Holiness for accepting my invitation
visit the United Nations -- home to all men and women of faith around
the world. Your Holiness, welcome to our common home.
The United Nations is a secular institution, composed of 192 States. We
have six official languages but no official religion. We do not have a
chapel -- though we do have a meditation room.
But if you ask those of us who work for the United Nations what
motivates us, many of us reply in a language of faith. We see what we
do not only as a job, but as a mission. Indeed, mission is the word we
use most often for our work around the world -- from peace and security
to development to human rights.
Your Holiness, in so many ways, our mission unites us with yours.
You have spoken of the terrible challenge of poverty afflicting so much
of the world's population, and how we cannot afford indifference and
You have encouraged the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, and
called for progressive and agreed-upon nuclear disarmament.
You have spelled out that those with greater power may not use it to
violate the rights of others, and stated that peace is based on respect
for the rights of all.
You have spoken of water resources and climate change as matters of
grave importance for the entire human family.
You have called for an open and sincere dialogue, both within your
Church and between religions and cultures, in search of the good of
Finally, you have called for trust in, and commitment to, the United
Nations. As you have said, the UN is “capable of fostering genuine
dialogue and understanding, reconciling divergent views, and developing
multilateral policies and strategies capable of meeting the manifold
challenges of our complex and rapidly changing world.”
Your Holiness, these are fundamental goals we share. We are grateful to
have your prayers as we proceed on the path towards them.
Before leaving the UN today, you will visit the Meditation Room. My
great predecessor, Dag Hammarskjöld, who created that room, put it
well. He said of the stone that forms its centerpiece: “We may see it
as an altar, empty not because there is no God, not because it is an
altar to an unknown God, but because it is dedicated to the God whom
man worships under many names and in many forms.”
Whether we worship one God, many or none -- we in the United Nations
have to sustain and strengthen our faith every day. As demands on our
Organization multiply, we need more and more of this precious commodity.
I am profoundly grateful to his Holiness Pope Benedict XVI for
bestowing some of his faith on us -- and for placing his trust in us.
He possesses both of these in abundance. May we be strengthened by his
Thank you very much.
Benedict XVI's Address to
"Human Rights ... Must Be Respected As an Expression of Justice"
NEW YORK, APRIL 18, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address
Benedict XVI gave today to the U.N. General Assembly. The Pope spoke
first in French, then in English.
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As I begin my
address to this Assembly, I would like first of all to
express to you, Mr President, my sincere gratitude for your kind words.
My thanks go also to the Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for
inviting me to visit the headquarters of this Organization and for the
welcome that he has extended to me. I greet the Ambassadors and
Diplomats from the Member States, and all those present. Through you, I
greet the peoples who are represented here. They look to this
institution to carry forward the founding inspiration to establish a
"centre for harmonizing the actions of nations in the attainment of
these common ends" of peace and development (cf. Charter of the United
Nations, article 1.2-1.4). As Pope John Paul II expressed it in 1995,
the Organization should be "a moral centre where all the nations of the
world feel at home and develop a shared awareness of being, as it were,
a ‘family of nations’" (Address to the General Assembly of the United
Nations on the 50th Anniversary of its Foundation, New York, 5 October
Through the United Nations, States have established universal
objectives which, even if they do not coincide with the total common
good of the human family, undoubtedly represent a fundamental part of
that good. The founding principles of the Organization -- the desire
for peace, the quest for justice, respect for the dignity of the
person, humanitarian cooperation and assistance -- express the just
aspirations of the human spirit, and constitute the ideals which should
underpin international relations. As my predecessors Paul VI and John
Paul II have observed from this very podium, all this is something that
the Catholic Church and the Holy See follow attentively and with
interest, seeing in your activity an example of how issues and
conflicts concerning the world community can be subject to common
regulation. The United Nations embodies the aspiration for a "greater
degree of international ordering" (John Paul II, Sollicitudo Rei
Socialis, 43), inspired and governed by the principle of subsidiarity,
and therefore capable of responding to the demands of the human family
through binding international rules and through structures capable of
harmonizing the day-to-day unfolding of the lives of peoples. This is
all the more necessary at a time when we experience the obvious paradox
of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it
is still subordinated to the decisions of a few, whereas the world’s
problems call for interventions in the form of collective action by the
questions of security, development goals, reduction of local
and global inequalities, protection of the environment, of resources
and of the climate, require all international leaders to act jointly
and to show a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the law, and
promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the planet. I am
thinking especially of those countries in Africa and other parts of the
world which remain on the margins of authentic integral development,
and are therefore at risk of experiencing only the negative effects of
globalization. In the context of international relations, it is
necessary to recognize the higher role played by rules and structures
that are intrinsically ordered to promote the common good, and
therefore to safeguard human freedom. These regulations do not limit
freedom. On the contrary, they promote it when they prohibit behaviour
and actions which work against the common good, curb its effective
exercise and hence compromise the dignity of every human person. In the
name of freedom, there has to be a correlation between rights and
duties, by which every person is called to assume responsibility for
his or her choices, made as a consequence of entering into relations
with others. Here our thoughts turn also to the way the results of
scientific research and technological advances have sometimes been
applied. Notwithstanding the enormous benefits that humanity can gain,
some instances of this represent a clear violation of the order of
creation, to the point where not only is the sacred character of life
contradicted, but the human person and the family are robbed of their
natural identity. Likewise, international action to preserve the
environment and to protect various forms of life on earth must not only
guarantee a rational use of technology and science, but must also
rediscover the authentic image of creation. This never requires a
choice to be made between science and ethics: rather it is a question
of adopting a scientific method that is truly respectful of ethical
Recognition of the unity of the human family, and attention to the
innate dignity of every man and woman, today find renewed emphasis in
the principle of the responsibility to protect. This has only recently
been defined, but it was already present implicitly at the origins of
the United Nations,
and is now increasingly characteristic of its
activity. Every State has the primary duty to protect its own
population from grave and sustained violations of human rights, as well
as from the consequences of humanitarian crises, whether natural or
man-made. If States are unable to guarantee such protection, the
international community must intervene with the juridical means
provided in the United Nations Charter and in other international
instruments. The action of the international community and its
institutions, provided that it respects the principles undergirding the
international order, should never be interpreted as an unwarranted
imposition or a limitation of sovereignty. On the contrary, it is
indifference or failure to intervene that do the real damage. What is
needed is a deeper search for ways of pre-empting and managing
conflicts by exploring every possible diplomatic avenue, and giving
attention and encouragement to even the faintest sign of dialogue or
desire for reconciliation.
The principle of "responsibility to protect" was considered by the
ancient "ius gentium" as the foundation of every action taken by those
in government with regard to the governed: at the time when the concept
of national sovereign States was first developing, the Dominican Friar
Francisco de Vitoria, rightly considered as a precursor of the idea of
the United Nations, described this responsibility as an aspect of
natural reason shared by all nations, and the result of an
international order whose task it was to regulate relations between
peoples. Now, as then, this principle has to invoke the idea of the
person as image of the Creator, the desire for the absolute and the
essence of freedom. The founding of the United Nations, as we know,
coincided with the profound upheavals that humanity experienced when
reference to the meaning of transcendence and natural reason was
abandoned, and in consequence, freedom and human dignity were grossly
violated. When this happens, it threatens the objective foundations of
the values inspiring and governing the international order and it
undermines the cogent and inviolable principles formulated and
consolidated by the United Nations. When faced with new and insistent
challenges, it is a mistake to fall back on a pragmatic approach,
limited to determining "common ground", minimal in content and weak in
This reference to human dignity, which is the foundation and goal of
the responsibility to protect, leads us to the theme we are
specifically focusing upon this year, which marks the sixtieth
anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document
was the outcome of a convergence of different religious and cultural
traditions, all of them motivated by the common desire to place the
human person at the heart of institutions, laws and the workings of
society, and to consider the human person essential for the world of
culture, religion and science. Human rights are increasingly being
presented as the common language and the ethical substratum of
international relations. At the same time, the universality,
indivisibility and interdependence of human rights all serve as
guarantees safeguarding human dignity. It is evident, though, that the
rights recognized and expounded in the Declaration apply to everyone by
virtue of the common origin of the
person, who remains the high-point
of God’s creative design for the world and for history. They are based
on the natural law inscribed on human hearts and present in different
cultures and civilizations. Removing human rights from this context
would mean restricting their range and yielding to a relativistic
conception, according to which the meaning and interpretation of rights
could vary and their universality would be denied in the name of
different cultural, political, social and even religious outlooks. This
great variety of viewpoints must not be allowed to obscure the fact
that not only rights are universal, but so too is the human person, the
subject of those rights.
[The Pope continued in English]
The life of the community, both domestically and internationally,
clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that
follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to
evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development
and poverty, security and conflict. The promotion of human rights
remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities
between countries and social groups, and for increasing security.
Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is
violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and
they can then become violators of peace.
The common good that human rights help to accomplish cannot, however,
be attained merely by applying correct procedures, nor even less by
achieving a balance between competing rights. The merit of the
Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures,
juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a
fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights. Today, though,
efforts need to be redoubled in the face of pressure to reinterpret the
foundations of the Declaration and to compromise its inner unity so as
to facilitate a move away from the protection of human dignity towards
the satisfaction of simple interests, often particular interests. The
Declaration was adopted as a "common standard of achievement"
(Preamble) and cannot be applied piecemeal, according to trends or
selective choices that merely run the risk of contradicting the unity
of the human person and thus the indivisibility of human rights.
Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the
insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of
legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various
agencies of those in power. When presented purely in terms of legality,
rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and
rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The
Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that
respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice,
on which the binding force of international proclamations is also
based. This aspect is often overlooked when the attempt is made to
deprive rights of their true function in the name of a narrowly
utilitarian perspective. Since rights and the resulting duties follow
naturally from human interaction, it is easy to forget that they are
the fruit of a commonly held sense of justice built primarily upon
solidarity among the members of society, and hence valid at all times
and for all peoples. This intuition was expressed as early as the fifth
century by Augustine of Hippo, one of the masters of our intellectual
heritage. He taught that the saying: Do not do to others what you would
not want done to you "cannot in any way vary according to the different
understandings that have arisen in the world" (De Doctrina Christiana,
III, 14). Human rights, then, must be respected as an expression of
justice, and not merely because they are enforceable through the will
of the legislators.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
As history proceeds, new situations arise, and the attempt is made to
link them to new rights. Discernment, that is, the capacity to
distinguish good from evil, becomes even more essential in the context
of demands that concern the very lives and conduct of persons,
communities and peoples. In tackling the theme of rights, since
important situations and profound realities are involved, discernment
is both an indispensable and a fruitful virtue.
Discernment, then, shows that entrusting exclusively to individual
States, with their laws and institutions, the final responsibility to
meet the aspirations of persons, communities and entire peoples, can
sometimes have consequences that exclude the possibility of a social
order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person. On the other
hand, a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension can
help to achieve this, since recognition of the transcendent value of
every man and woman favours conversion of heart, which then leads to a
commitment to resist
violence, terrorism and war, and to promote
justice and peace. This also provides the proper context for the
inter-religious dialogue that the United Nations is called to support,
just as it supports dialogue in other areas of human activity. Dialogue
should be recognized as the means by which the various components of
society can articulate their point of view and build consensus around
the truth concerning particular values or goals. It pertains to the
nature of religions, freely practised, that they can autonomously
conduct a dialogue of thought and life. If at this level, too, the
religious sphere is kept separate from political action, then great
benefits ensue for individuals and communities. On the other hand, the
United Nations can count on the results of dialogue between religions,
and can draw fruit from the willingness of believers to place their
experiences at the service of the common good. Their task is to propose
a vision of faith not in terms of intolerance, discrimination and
conflict, but in terms of complete respect for truth, coexistence,
rights, and reconciliation.
Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom,
understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual
and communitarian – a vision that brings out the unity of the person
while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and
that of the believer. The activity of the United Nations in recent
years has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired
by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship,
education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and
choose religion. It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have
to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active
citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy
one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in
need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing
secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive
nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to
the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the
public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers
playing their part in building the social order. Indeed, they actually
do so, for example through their influential and generous involvement
in a vast network of initiatives which extend from Universities,
scientific institutions and schools to health care agencies and
charitable organizations in the service of the poorest and most
marginalized. Refusal to recognize the contribution to society that is
rooted in the religious dimension and in the quest for the Absolute –
by its nature, expressing communion between persons – would effectively
privilege an individualistic approach, and would fragment the unity of
My presence at this Assembly is a sign of esteem for the United
Nations, and it is intended to express the hope that the Organization
will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between States and an
instrument of service to the entire human family. It also demonstrates
the willingness of the Catholic Church to offer her proper contribution
to building international relations in a way that allows every person
and every people to feel they can make a difference. In a manner that
is consistent with her contribution in the ethical and moral sphere and
the free activity of her faithful, the Church also works for the
realization of these goals through the international activity of the
Holy See. Indeed, the Holy See has always had a place at the assemblies
of the Nations, thereby manifesting its specific character as a subject
in the international domain. As the United Nations recently confirmed,
the Holy See thereby makes its contribution according to the
dispositions of international law, helps to define that law, and makes
appeal to it.
The United Nations remains a privileged setting in which the Church is
committed to contributing her experience "of humanity", developed over
the centuries among peoples of every race and culture, and placing it
at the disposal of all members of the international community. This
experience and activity, directed towards attaining freedom for every
believer, seeks also to increase the protection given to the rights of
the person. Those rights are grounded and shaped by the transcendent
nature of the person, which permits men and women to pursue their
journey of faith and their search for God in this world. Recognition of
this dimension must be strengthened if we are to sustain humanity’s
hope for a better world and if we are to create the conditions for
peace, development, cooperation, and guarantee of rights for future
In my recent Encyclical, Spe Salvi, I
indicated that "every generation
has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way
to order human affairs" (no. 25). For Christians, this task is
motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ. That
is why the Church is happy to be associated with the activity of this
distinguished Organization, charged with the responsibility of
promoting peace and good will throughout the earth. Dear Friends, I
thank you for this opportunity to address you today, and I promise you
of the support of my prayers as you pursue your noble task.
Before I take my leave from this distinguished Assembly, I should like
to offer my greetings, in the official languages, to all the Nations
Peace and Prosperity with God’s help!
[The Pope repeated the above greeting in French, Spanish, Arab, Chinese
Peace and Prosperity with God’s help!
Papal Address to UN Staff
"I Would Like to Express My Personal Appreciation"
NEW YORK, APRIL 18, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today
to the staff of the United Nations.
* * *
Here, within a small space in the busy city of New York, is housed an
Organization with a worldwide mission to promote peace and justice.
I am reminded of the similar contrast in scale between Vatican City
State and the world in which the Church exercises her universal mission
and apostolate. The sixteenth-century artists who painted the maps on
the walls of the Apostolic Palace reminded the Popes of the vast extent
of the known world. In those frescoes, the Successors of Peter were
offered a tangible sign of the immense outreach of the Church's mission
at a time when the discovery of the New World was opening up unforeseen
Here in this glass palace, the art on display has its own way of
reminding us of the responsibilities of the United Nations
Organization. We see images of the effects of war and poverty, we are
reminded of our duty to strive for a better world, and we rejoice in
the sheer diversity and exuberance of human culture, manifested in the
wide range of peoples and nations gathered together under the umbrella
of the international community.
On the occasion of my visit, I wish to pay tribute to the invaluable
contribution made by the administrative staff and the many employees of
the United Nations, who carry out their duties with such great
dedication and professionalism every day -- here in New York, in other
UN centres, and at special missions all over the world. To you, and to
those who have gone before you, I would like to express my personal
appreciation and that of the whole Church. We remember especially the
many civilians and peace-keepers who have sacrificed their lives in the
field for the good of the peoples they serve -- in 2007 alone there
were forty-two of them. We also remember the vast multitude who
dedicate their lives to work that is never sufficiently acknowledged,
often in difficult circumstances.
To all of you -- translators, secretaries, administrative personnel of
every kind, maintenance and security staff, development workers,
peace-keepers and many others -- thank you, most sincerely. The work
that you do makes it possible for the Organization to continue
exploring new ways of achieving the goals for which it was founded.
The United Nations is often spoken of as the "family of nations". By
the same token, the headquarters here in New York could be described as
a home, a place of welcome and concern for the good of family members
everywhere. It is an excellent place in which to promote growth in
understanding and collaboration between peoples. Rightly, the staff of
the United Nations are selected from a wide range of cultures and
nationalities. The personnel here constitute a microcosm of the whole
world, in which each individual makes an indispensable contribution
from the perspective of his or her particular cultural and religious
heritage. The ideals that inspired the founders of this institution
need to take shape here and in every one of the Organization's missions
around the world in the mutual respect and acceptance that are the
hallmarks of a thriving family.
In the internal debates of the United Nations, increasing emphasis is
being placed on the "responsibility to protect". Indeed this is coming
to be recognized as the moral basis for a government's claim to
authority. It is also a feature that naturally appertains to a family,
in which stronger members take care of weaker ones. This Organization
performs an important service, in the name of the international
community, by monitoring the extent to which governments fulfill their
responsibility to protect their citizens. On a day-to-day level, it is
you who lay the foundations on which that work is built, by the concern
you show for one another in the workplace, and by your solicitude for
the many peoples whose needs and aspirations you serve in all that you
The Catholic Church, through the international activity of the Holy
See, and through countless initiatives of lay Catholics, local Churches
and religious communities, assures you of her support for your work. I
assure you and your families of a special remembrance in my prayers.
May Almighty God bless you always and comfort you with his grace and
his peace, so that through the care you offer to the entire human
family, you can continue to be of service to him.
To other religious communities
Benedict XVI Address at the Ecumenical Prayer Service
by Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
My heart abounds with gratitude to Almighty God – “the Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all” (Eph 4:6) – for this
to gather with you this evening in prayer. I
thank Bishop Dennis Sullivan for his cordial welcome, and I warmly
greet all those in attendance representing Christian communities
throughout the United States. May the peace of our Lord and
Savior be with you all!
Through you, I express my sincere appreciation for the invaluable work
of all those engaged in ecumenism: the National Council of Churches,
Christian Churches Together, the Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for
Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs, and many others. The
contribution of Christians in the United States to the ecumenical
movement is felt throughout the world. I encourage all of you to
persevere, always relying on the grace of the risen Christ whom we
strive to serve by bringing about “the obedience of faith for the sake
of his name” (Rom 1:5).
We have just listened to the scriptural passage in which Paul – a
“prisoner for the Lord” – delivers his ardent appeal to the members of
the Christian community at Ephesus. “I beg you,” he writes, “to
lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called … eager
to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph
4:1-3). Then, after his impassioned litany of unity, Paul reminds
his hearers that Jesus, having ascended into heaven, has bestowed upon
men and women all the gifts necessary for building up the Body of
Christ (cf. Eph 4:11-13).
Paul’s exhortation resounds with no less vigor today. His words
instill in us the confidence that the Lord will never abandon us in our
quest for unity. They also call us to live in a way that bears
witness to the “one heart and mind”(Acts 4:32), which has always been
the distinguishing trait of Christian koinonia (cf. Acts 2:42), and the
force drawing others to join the community of believers so that they
too might come to share in the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph
3:8; cf. Acts 2:47; 5:14).
Globalization has humanity poised between two poles. On the one
hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and
interdependency between peoples even when – geographically and
culturally speaking – they are far apart. This new situation
offers the potential for enhancing a sense of global solidarity and
shared responsibility for the well-being of mankind. On the other
hand, we cannot deny that the rapid changes occurring in our world also
present some disturbing signs of fragmentation and a retreat into
individualism. The expanding use of electronic communications has
in some cases paradoxically resulted in greater isolation. Many
people – including the young – are seeking therefore more authentic
forms of community. Also of grave concern is the spread of a
secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent
truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore
of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends
widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For
these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as
ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the
hope that they hold (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).
Too often those who are not Christians, as they observe the splintering
of Christian communities, are understandably confused about the Gospel
message itself. Fundamental Christian beliefs and practices are
sometimes changed within communities by so-called “prophetic actions”
that are based on a hermeneutic not always consonant with the datum of
Scripture and Tradition. Communities consequently give up the
attempt to act as a unified body, choosing instead to function
according to the idea of “local options”. Somewhere in this
process the need for diachronic koinonia – communion with the Church in
every age – is lost, just at the time when the world is losing its
bearings and needs a persuasive common witness to the saving power of
the Gospel (cf. Rom 1:18-23).
Faced with these difficulties, we must first recall that the unity of
the Church flows from the perfect oneness of the Trinitarian God.
In John’s Gospel, we are told that Jesus prayed to his Father that his
disciples might be one, “just as you are in me and I am in you” (Jn
17:21). This passage reflects the unwavering conviction of the
early Christian community that its unity was both caused by, and is
reflective of, the unity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
This, in turn, suggests that the internal cohesion of believers was
based on the sound integrity of their doctrinal confession (cf. 1 Tim
1:3-11). Throughout the New Testament, we find that the Apostles
were repeatedly called to give an account for their faith to both
Gentiles (cf. Acts 17:16-34) and Jews (cf. Acts 4:5-22; 5:27-42).
The core of their argument was always the historical fact of Jesus’s
bodily resurrection from the tomb (Acts 2:24, 32; 3:15; 4:10; 5:30;
10:40; 13:30). The ultimate effectiveness of their preaching did
not depend on “lofty words” or “human wisdom” (1 Cor 2:13), but rather
on the work of the Spirit (Eph 3:5) who confirmed the authoritative
witness of the Apostles (cf. 1 Cor 15:1-11). The nucleus of
Paul’s preaching and that of the early Church was none other than Jesus
Christ, and “him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2). But this proclamation
had to be guaranteed by the purity of normative doctrine expressed in
creedal formulae – symbola – which articulated the essence of the
Christian faith and constituted the foundation for the unity of the
baptized (cf. 1 Cor 15:3-5; Gal 1:6-9; Unitatis Redintegratio, 2).
My dear friends, the power of the kerygma has lost none of its internal
dynamism. Yet we must ask ourselves whether its full force has
not been attenuated by a relativistic approach to Christian doctrine
similar to that found in secular ideologies, which, in alleging that
science alone is “objective”, relegate religion entirely to the
subjective sphere of individual feeling. Scientific discoveries,
and their application through human ingenuity, undoubtedly offer new
possibilities for the betterment of humankind. This does not
mean, however, that the “knowable” is limited to the empirically
verifiable, nor religion restricted to the shifting realm of “personal
For Christians to accept this faulty line of reasoning would lead to
the notion that there is little need to emphasize objective truth in
the presentation of the Christian faith, for one need but follow his or
her own conscience and choose a community that best suits his or her
individual tastes. The result is seen in the continual
proliferation of communities which often eschew institutional
structures and minimize the importance of doctrinal content for
Even within the ecumenical movement, Christians may be reluctant to
assert the role of doctrine for fear that it would only exacerbate
rather than heal the wounds of division. Yet a clear, convincing
testimony to the salvation wrought for us in Christ Jesus has to be
based upon the notion of normative apostolic teaching: a teaching which
indeed underlies the inspired word of God and sustains the sacramental
life of Christians today.
Only by “holding fast” to sound teaching (2 Thess 2:15; cf. Rev
2:12-29) will we be able to respond to the challenges that confront us
in an evolving world. Only in this way will we give unambiguous
testimony to the truth of the Gospel and its moral teaching. This
is the message which the world is waiting to hear from us. Like
the early Christians, we have a responsibility to give transparent
witness to the “reasons for our hope”, so that the eyes of all men and
women of goodwill may be opened to see that God has shown us his face
(cf. 2 Cor 3:12-18) and granted us access to his divine life through
Jesus Christ. He alone is our hope! God has revealed his
love for all peoples through the mystery of his Son’s passion and
death, and has called us to proclaim that he is indeed risen, has taken
his place at the right hand of the Father, and “will come again in
glory to judge the living and the dead” (Nicene Creed).
May the word of God we have heard this evening inflame our hearts with
hope on the path to unity (cf. Lk 24:32). May this prayer service
exemplify the centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement (cf.
Unitatis Redintegratio, 8); for without it, ecumenical structures,
institutions and programs would be deprived of their heart and
soul. Let us give thanks to Almighty God for the progress that
has been made through the work of his Spirit, as we acknowledge with
gratitude the personal sacrifices made by so many present and by those
who have gone before us.
By following in their footsteps, and by placing our trust in God alone,
I am confident that – to borrow the words of Father Paul Wattson – we
will achieve the “oneness of hope, oneness of faith, and oneness of
love” that alone will convince the world that Jesus Christ is the one
sent by the Father for the salvation of all.
I thank you all.
To the disabled
Benedict XVI Meeting with Young People Having Disabilities
by Pope Benedict XVI
I am very happy to have this opportunity to spend a brief moment with
you. I thank Cardinal Egan for his welcome and especially thank
your representatives for their kind words and for the gift of the
drawing. Know that it is a special joy for me to be with
you. Please give my greetings to your parents and family members,
and your teachers and caregivers.
God has blessed you with life, and with differing talents and
gifts. Through these you are able to serve him and society in
various ways. While some people’s contributions seem great and
others’ more modest, the witness value of our efforts is always a sign
of hope for everyone.
Sometimes it is challenging to find a reason for what appears only as a
difficulty to be overcome or even pain to be endured. Yet our
faith helps us to break open the horizon beyond our own selves in order
to see life as God does. God’s unconditional love, which bathes
every human individual, points to a meaning and purpose for all human
life. Through his Cross, Jesus in fact draws us into his saving
love (cf. Jn 12:32) and in so doing shows us the way ahead - the way of
hope which transfigures us all, so that we too, become bearers of that
hope and charity for others.
Dear friends, I encourage you all to pray every day for our
world. There are so many intentions and people you can pray for,
including those who have yet to come to know Jesus. And please do
continue to pray for me. As you know I have just had another
birthday. Time passes!
Thank you all again, including the Cathedral of Saint Patrick Young
Singers and the members of the Archdiocesan Deaf Choir. As a sign
of strength and peace and with great affection in our Lord, I impart to
you and your families, teachers and caregivers my Apostolic Blessing.
To Young people and seminarians
Benedict XVI Meeting with Young People and Seminarians
by Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Young Friends,
“Proclaim the Lord Christ … and always have your answer ready for
people who ask the reason for the hope that is within you” (1 Pet
3:15). With these words from the First Letter of Peter I greet each of
you with heartfelt affection. I thank Cardinal Egan for his kind words
of welcome and I also thank the representatives chosen from among you
for their gestures of welcome. To Bishop Walsh, Rector of Saint Joseph
Seminary, staff and seminarians, I offer my special greetings and
Young friends, I am
very happy to have the opportunity to speak with
you. Please pass on my warm greetings to your family members and
relatives, and to the teachers and staff of the various schools,
colleges and universities you attend. I know that many people have
worked hard to ensure that our gathering could take place. I am most
grateful to them all. Also, I wish to acknowledge your singing to me
Happy Birthday! Thank you for this moving gesture; I give you all an “A
plus” for your German pronunciation! This evening I wish to share with
you some thoughts about being disciples of Jesus Christ ? walking in
the Lord’s footsteps, our own lives become a journey of hope.
In front of you are the images of six ordinary men and women who grew
up to lead extraordinary lives. The Church honors them as Venerable,
Blessed, or Saint: each responded to the Lord’s call to a life of
charity and each served him here, in the alleys, streets and suburbs of
New York. I am struck by what a remarkably diverse group they are: poor
and rich, lay men and women - one a wealthy wife and mother - priests
and sisters, immigrants from afar, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior
father and Algonquin mother, another a Haitian slave, and a Cuban
Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint John
Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and
Padre Felix Varela: any one of us could be among them, for there is no
stereotype to this group, no single mold. Yet a closer look reveals
that there are common elements. Inflamed with the love of Jesus, their
lives became remarkable journeys of hope. For some, that meant leaving
home and embarking on a pilgrim journey of thousands of miles. For each
there was an act of abandonment to God, in the confidence that he is
the final destination of every pilgrim. And all offered an outstretched
hand of hope to those they encountered along the way, often awakening
in them a life of faith. Through orphanages, schools and hospitals, by
befriending the poor, the sick and the marginalized, and through the
compelling witness that comes from walking humbly in the footsteps of
Jesus, these six people laid open the way of faith, hope and charity to
countless individuals, including perhaps your own ancestors.
And what of today? Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the
streets of New York, in the troubled neighborhoods of large cities, in
the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can
trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way. The
path of that journey twists and turns ? just as it did for our saints ?
through the joys and the trials of ordinary, everyday life: within your
families, at school or college, during your recreation activities, and
in your parish communities. All these places are marked by the culture
in which you are growing up. As young Americans you are offered many
opportunities for personal development, and you are brought up with a
sense of generosity, service and fairness. Yet you do not need me to
tell you that there are also difficulties: activities and mindsets
which stifle hope, pathways which seem to lead to happiness and
fulfillment but in fact end only in confusion and fear.
My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that
thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating
schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion –
before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God
and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your
grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of
the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America
precisely to escape such terror.
Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to
enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of
democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those
who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that
nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and
grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek
what is right and just.
The power to destroy does, however, remain. To pretend otherwise would
be to fool ourselves. Yet, it never triumphs; it is defeated. This is
the essence of the hope that defines us as Christians; and the Church
recalls this most dramatically during the Easter Triduum and celebrates
it with great joy in the season of Easter! The One who shows us the way
beyond death is the One who shows us how to overcome destruction and
fear: thus it is Jesus who is the true teacher of life (cf. Spe Salvi,
6). His death and resurrection mean that we can say to the Father “you
have restored us to life!” (Prayer after Communion, Good Friday). And
so, just a few weeks ago, during the beautiful Easter Vigil liturgy, it
was not from despair or fear that we cried out to God for our world,
but with hope-filled confidence: dispel the darkness of our heart!
dispel the darkness of our minds! (cf. Prayer at the Lighting of the
What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the
most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or
manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples
pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people
pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those
affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism,
violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women. While the
causes of these problems are complex, all have in common a poisoned
attitude of mind which results in people being treated as mere objects
? a callousness of heart takes hold which first ignores, then
ridicules, the God-given dignity of every human being. Such tragedies
also point to what might have been and what could be, were there other
hands – your hands – reaching out. I encourage you to invite others,
especially the vulnerable and the innocent, to join you along the way
of goodness and hope.
The second area of darkness – that which affects the mind – often goes
unnoticed, and for this reason is particularly sinister. The
manipulation of truth distorts our perception of reality, and tarnishes
our imagination and aspirations. I have already mentioned the many
liberties which you are fortunate enough to enjoy. The fundamental
importance of freedom must be rigorously safeguarded. It is no surprise
then that numerous individuals and groups vociferously claim their
freedom in the public forum. Yet freedom is a delicate value. It can be
misunderstood or misused so as to lead not to the happiness which we
all expect it to yield, but to a dark arena of manipulation in which
our understanding of self and the world becomes confused, or even
distorted by those who have an ulterior agenda.
Have you noticed how often the call for freedom is made without ever
referring to the truth of the human person? Some today argue that
respect for freedom of the individual makes it wrong to seek truth,
including the truth about what is good. In some circles to speak of
truth is seen as controversial or divisive, and consequently best kept
in the private sphere. And in truth’s place – or better said its
absence – an idea has spread which, in giving value to everything
indiscriminately, claims to assure freedom and to liberate conscience.
This we call relativism. But what purpose has a “freedom” which, in
disregarding truth, pursues what is false or wrong? How many young
people have been offered a hand which in the name of freedom or
experience has led them to addiction, to moral or intellectual
confusion, to hurt, to a loss of self-respect, even to despair and so
tragically and sadly to the taking of their own life? Dear friends,
truth is not an imposition. Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a
discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always
trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately
truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not
an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self
and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others
(cf. Spe Salvi, 28).
How then can we as believers help others to walk the path of freedom
which brings fulfillment and lasting happiness? Let us again turn to
the saints. How did their witness truly free others from the darkness
of heart and mind? The answer is found in the kernel of their faith;
the kernel of our faith. The Incarnation, the birth of Jesus, tells us
that God does indeed find a place among us. Though the inn is full, he
enters through the stable, and there are people who see his light. They
recognize Herod’s dark closed world for what it is, and instead follow
the bright guiding star of the night sky. And what shines forth? Here
you might recall the prayer uttered on the most holy night of Easter:
“Father we share in the light of your glory through your Son the light
of the world … inflame us with your hope!” (Blessing of the Fire). And
so, in solemn procession with our lighted candles we pass the light of
Christ among us. It is “the light which dispels all evil, washes guilt
away, restores lost innocence, brings mourners joy, casts out hatred,
brings us peace, and humbles earthly pride” (Exsultet). This is
Christ’s light at work. This is the way of the saints. It is a
magnificent vision of hope – Christ’s light beckons you to be guiding
stars for others, walking Christ’s way of forgiveness, reconciliation,
humility, joy and peace.
At times, however, we are tempted to close in on ourselves, to doubt
the strength of Christ’s radiance, to limit the horizon of hope. Take
courage! Fix your gaze on our saints. The diversity of their experience
of God’s presence prompts us to discover anew the breadth and depth of
Christianity. Let your imaginations soar freely along the limitless
expanse of the horizons of Christian discipleship. Sometimes we are
looked upon as people who speak only of prohibitions. Nothing could be
further from the truth! Authentic Christian discipleship is marked by a
sense of wonder. We stand before the God we know and love as a friend,
the vastness of his creation, and the beauty of our Christian faith.
Dear friends, the example of the saints invites us, then, to consider
four essential aspects of the treasure of our faith: personal prayer
and silence, liturgical prayer, charity in action, and vocations.
What matters most is that you develop your personal relationship with
God. That relationship is expressed in prayer. God by his very nature
speaks, hears, and replies. Indeed, Saint Paul reminds us: we can and
should “pray constantly” (1 Thess 5:17). Far from turning in on
ourselves or withdrawing from the ups and downs of life, by praying we
turn towards God and through him to each other, including the
marginalized and those following ways other than God’s path (cf. Spe
Salvi, 33). As the saints teach us so vividly, prayer becomes hope in
action. Christ was their constant companion, with whom they conversed
at every step of their journey for others.
There is another aspect of prayer which we need to remember: silent
contemplation. Saint John, for example, tells us that to embrace God’s
revelation we must first listen, then respond by proclaiming what we
have heard and seen (cf. 1 Jn 1:2-3; Dei Verbum, 1). Have we perhaps
lost something of the art of listening? Do you leave space to hear
God’s whisper, calling you forth into goodness? Friends, do not be
afraid of silence or stillness, listen to God, adore him in the
Eucharist. Let his word shape your journey as an unfolding of holiness.
In the liturgy we find the whole Church at prayer. The word liturgy
means the participation of God’s people in “the work of Christ the
Priest and of His Body which is the Church” (Sacrosanctum Concilium,
7). What is that work? First of all it refers to Christ’s Passion, his
Death and Resurrection, and his Ascension – what we call the Paschal
Mystery. It also refers to the celebration of the liturgy itself. The
two meanings are in fact inseparably linked because this “work of
Jesus” is the real content of the liturgy. Through the liturgy, the
“work of Jesus” is continually brought into contact with history; with
our lives in order to shape them. Here we catch another glimpse of the
grandeur of our Christian faith. Whenever you gather for Mass, when you
go to Confession, whenever you celebrate any of the sacraments, Jesus
is at work. Through the Holy Spirit, he draws you to himself, into his
sacrificial love of the Father which becomes love for all. We see then
that the Church’s liturgy is a ministry of hope for humanity. Your
faithful participation, is an active hope which helps to keep the world
– saints and sinners alike – open to God; this is the truly human hope
we offer everyone (cf. Spe Salvi, 34).
Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your
participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also
prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening
show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity.
Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form.
We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf.
Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are
abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel
and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did
for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our
saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city
and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem
from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even
our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of
consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen
deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from
the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that
our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.
Dear young people, finally I wish to share a word about vocations.
First of all my thoughts go to your parents, grandparents and
godparents. They have been your primary educators in the faith. By
presenting you for baptism, they made it possible for you to receive
the greatest gift of your life. On that day you entered into the
holiness of God himself. You became adoptive sons and daughters of the
Father. You were incorporated into Christ. You were made a dwelling
place of his Spirit. Let us pray for mothers and fathers throughout the
world, particularly those who may be struggling in any way – socially,
materially, spiritually. Let us honor the vocation of matrimony and the
dignity of family life. Let us always appreciate that it is in families
that vocations are given life.
Gathered here at Saint Joseph Seminary, I greet the seminarians present
and indeed encourage all seminarians throughout America. I am glad to
know that your numbers are increasing! The People of God look to you to
be holy priests, on a daily journey of conversion, inspiring in others
the desire to enter more deeply into the ecclesial life of believers. I
urge you to deepen your friendship with Jesus the Good Shepherd. Talk
heart to heart with him. Reject any temptation to ostentation,
careerism, or conceit. Strive for a pattern of life truly marked by
charity, chastity and humility, in imitation of Christ, the Eternal
High Priest, of whom you are to become living icons (cf. Pastores Dabo
Vobis, 33). Dear seminarians, I pray for you daily. Remember that what
counts before the Lord is to dwell in his love and to make his love
shine forth for others.
Religious Sisters, Brothers and Priests contribute greatly to the
mission of the Church. Their prophetic witness is marked by a profound
conviction of the primacy with which the Gospel shapes Christian life
and transforms society. Today, I wish to draw your attention to the
positive spiritual renewal which Congregations are undertaking in
relation to their charism. The word charism means a gift freely and
graciously given. Charisms are bestowed by the Holy Spirit, who
inspires founders and foundresses, and shapes Congregations with a
subsequent spiritual heritage. The wondrous array of charisms proper to
each Religious Institute is an extraordinary spiritual treasury.
Indeed, the history of the Church is perhaps most beautifully portrayed
through the history of her schools of spirituality, most of which stem
from the saintly lives of founders and foundresses. Through the
discovery of charisms, which yield such a breadth of spiritual wisdom,
I am sure that some of you young people will be drawn to a life of
apostolic or contemplative service. Do not be shy to speak with
Religious Brothers, Sisters or Priests about the charism and
spirituality of their Congregation. No perfect community exists, but it
is fidelity to a founding charism, not to particular individuals, that
the Lord calls you to discern. Have courage! You too can make your life
a gift of self for the love of the Lord Jesus and, in him, of every
member of the human family (cf. Vita Consecrata, 3).
Friends, again I ask you, what about today? What are you seeking? What
is God whispering to you? The hope which never disappoints is Jesus
Christ. The saints show us the selfless love of his way. As disciples
of Christ, their extraordinary journeys unfolded within the community
of hope, which is the Church. It is from within the Church that you too
will find the courage and support to walk the way of the Lord.
Nourished by personal prayer, prompted in silence, shaped by the
Church’s liturgy you will discover the particular vocation God has for
you. Embrace it with joy. You are Christ’s disciples today. Shine his
light upon this great city and beyond. Show the world the reason for
the hope that resonates within you. Tell others about the truth that
sets you free. With these sentiments of great hope in you I bid you
farewell, until we meet again in Sydney this July for World Youth Day!
And as a pledge of my love for you and your families, I gladly impart
my Apostolic Blessing.
* * *
Queridos Seminaristas, queridos jóvenes:
Es para mí una gran alegría poder encontrarme con todos
ustedes en este día de mi cumpleaños. Gracias por su
acogida y por el cariño que me han demostrado.
Les animo a abrirle al Señor su corazón para que
Él lo llene por completo y con el fuego de su amor lleven su
Evangelio a todos los barrios de Nueva York.
La luz de la fe les impulsará a responder al mal con el bien y
la santidad de vida, como lo hicieron los grandes testigos del
Evangelio a lo largo de los siglos. Ustedes están llamados a
continuar esa cadena de amigos de Jesús, que encontraron en su
amor el gran tesoro de sus vidas. Cultiven esta amistad a través
de la oración, tanto personal como litúrgica, y por medio
de las obras de caridad y del compromiso por ayudar a los más
necesitados. Si no lo han hecho, plantéense seriamente si el
Señor les pide seguirlo de un modo radical en el ministerio
sacerdotal o en la vida consagrada. No basta una relación
esporádica con Cristo. Una amistad así no es tal. Cristo
les quiere amigos suyos íntimos, fieles y perseverantes.
A la vez que les renuevo mi invitación a participar en la
Jornada Mundial de la Juventud en Sidney, les aseguro mi recuerdo en la
oración, en la que suplico a Dios que los haga auténticos
discípulos de Cristo Resucitado. Muchas gracias.
© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[Translation by ZENIT]
Dear seminarians, Dear young people:
It gives me great joy to be able to meet with all of you on my
birthday. Thank you for your welcome and for the affection you have
I encourage you to open your heart to the Lord so that he can fill it
completely, and the with the fire of his love bring the Gospel to all
the neighborhoods of New York.
The light of faith will impel you to respond to evil with good and a
holy life, as it did to the great witnesses of the Gospel throughout
the centuries. You are called to continue this chain of friends of
Christ, who found in his love the great treasure of their lives.
Cultivate this friendship through prayer, both personal and liturgical,
and through works of charity and the commitment to help those who are
most in need.
If you haven't done so, seriously ask yourself if Lord is asking you to
follow him in a radical way through the priestly ministry or
consecrated life. It is not enough to have a sporadic relationship with
Christ. A friendship like that isn't friendship. Christ wants you as
one of his intimate friends, faithful and perseverant.
I would also like to renew my invitation to participate in the World
Youth Day in Sydney, I assure you that I remember you in my prayers, in
which I ask God that he make you authentic disciples of the resurrected
Christ. Thank you very much.
Benedict XVI Votive Mass for the
Universal Church at St. Patrick's
by Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
affection in the Lord, I greet all of you, who represent the
Bishops, priests and deacons, the men and women in consecrated life,
and the seminarians of the United States. I thank Cardinal Egan
for his warm welcome and the good wishes which he has expressed in your
name as I begin the fourth year of my papal ministry. I am happy
to celebrate this Mass with you, who have been chosen by the Lord, who
have answered his call, and who devote your lives to the pursuit of
holiness, the spread of the Gospel and the building up of the Church in
faith, hope and love.
Gathered as we are in this historic cathedral, how can we not think of
the countless men and women who have gone before us, who labored for
the growth of the Church in the United States, and left us a lasting
legacy of faith and good works? In today’s first reading we saw
how, in the power of the Holy Spirit, the Apostles went forth from the
Upper Room to proclaim God’s mighty works to people of every nation and
tongue. In this country, the Church’s mission has always involved
drawing people “from every nation under heaven” (cf. Acts 2:5) into
spiritual unity, and enriching the Body of Christ by the variety of
their gifts. As we give thanks for these precious past blessings,
and look to the challenges of the future, let us implore from God the
grace of a new Pentecost for the Church in America. May tongues of
fire, combining burning love of God and neighbor with zeal for the
spread of Christ’s Kingdom, descend on all present!
In this morning’s second reading, Saint Paul reminds us that spiritual
unity – the unity which reconciles and enriches diversity – has its
origin and supreme model in the life of the triune God. As a
communion of pure love and infinite freedom, the Blessed Trinity
constantly brings forth new life in the work of creation and
redemption. The Church, as “a people made one by the unity of the
Father, the Son and the Spirit” (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4), is called to
proclaim the gift of life, to serve life, and to promote a culture of
life. Here in this cathedral, our thoughts turn naturally to the
heroic witness to the Gospel of life borne by the late Cardinals Cooke
and O’Connor. The proclamation of life, life in abundance, must
be the heart of the new evangelization. For true life – our
salvation – can only be found in the reconciliation, freedom and love
which are God’s gracious gift.
This is the message of hope we are called to proclaim and embody in a
world where self-centeredness, greed, violence, and cynicism so often
seem to choke the fragile growth of grace in people’s hearts.
Saint Irenaeus, with great insight, understood that the command which
Moses enjoined upon the people of Israel: “Choose life!” (Dt 30:19) was
the ultimate reason for our obedience to all God’s commandments (cf.
Adv. Haer. IV, 16, 2-5). Perhaps we have lost sight of this: in a
society where the Church seems legalistic and “institutional” to many
people, our most urgent challenge is to communicate the joy born of
faith and the experience of God’s love.
I am particularly happy that we have gathered in Saint Patrick’s
Cathedral. Perhaps more than any other church in the United
States, this place is known and loved as “a house of prayer for all
peoples” (cf. Is 56:7; Mk 11:17). Each day thousands of men,
women and children enter its doors and find peace within its
walls. Archbishop John Hughes, who – as Cardinal Egan has
reminded us – was responsible for building this venerable edifice,
wished it to rise in pure Gothic style. He wanted this cathedral
to remind the young Church in America of the great spiritual tradition
to which it was heir, and to inspire it to bring the best of that
heritage to the building up of Christ’s body in this land. I
would like to draw your attention to a few aspects of this beautiful
structure which I think can serve as a starting point for a reflection
on our particular vocations within the unity of the Mystical Body.
The first has to do with the stained glass windows, which flood the
interior with mystic light. From the outside, those windows are
dark, heavy, even dreary. But once one enters the church, they
suddenly come alive; reflecting the light passing through them, they
reveal all their splendor. Many writers – here in America we can
think of Nathaniel Hawthorne – have used the image of stained glass to
illustrate the mystery of the Church herself. It is only from the
inside, from the experience of faith and ecclesial life, that we see
the Church as she truly is: flooded with grace, resplendent in beauty,
adorned by the manifold gifts of the Spirit. It follows that we,
who live the life of grace within the Church’s communion, are called to
draw all people into this mystery of light.
This is no easy task in a world which can tend to look at the Church,
like those stained glass windows, “from the outside”: a world which
deeply senses a need for spirituality, yet finds it difficult to “enter
into” the mystery of the Church. Even for those of us within, the
light of faith can be dimmed by routine, and the splendor of the Church
obscured by the sins and weaknesses of her members. It can be
dimmed too, by the obstacles encountered in a society which sometimes
seems to have forgotten God and to resent even the most elementary
demands of Christian morality. You, who have devoted your lives
to bearing witness to the love of Christ and the building up of his
Body, know from your daily contact with the world around us how
tempting it is at times to give way to frustration, disappointment and
even pessimism about the future. In a word, it is not always easy
to see the light of the Spirit all about us, the splendor of the Risen
Lord illuminating our lives and instilling renewed hope in his victory
over the world (cf. Jn 16:33).
Yet the word of God reminds us that, in faith, we see the heavens
opened, and the grace of the Holy Spirit lighting up the Church and
bringing sure hope to our world. “O Lord, my God,” the Psalmist
sings, “when you send forth your spirit, they are created, and you
renew the face of the earth” (Ps 104:30). These words evoke the
first creation, when the Spirit of God hovered over the deep (cf. Gen
1:2). And they look forward to the new creation, at Pentecost,
when the Holy Spirit descended upon the Apostles and established the
Church as the first fruits of a redeemed humanity (cf. Jn
20:22-23). These words summon us to ever deeper faith in God’s
infinite power to transform every human situation, to create life from
death, and to light up even the darkest night. And they make us
think of another magnificent phrase of Saint Irenaeus: “where the
Church is, there is the Spirit of God; where the Spirit of God is,
there is the Church and all grace” (Adv. Haer. III, 24, 1).
This leads me to a further reflection about the architecture of this
church. Like all Gothic cathedrals, it is a highly complex
structure, whose exact and harmonious proportions symbolize the unity
of God’s creation. Medieval artists often portrayed Christ, the
creative Word of God, as a heavenly “geometer”, compass in hand, who
orders the cosmos with infinite wisdom and purpose. Does this not
bring to mind our need to see all things with the eyes of faith, and
thus to grasp them in their truest perspective, in the unity of God’s
eternal plan? This requires, as we know, constant conversion, and
a commitment to acquiring “a fresh, spiritual way of thinking” (cf. Eph
4:23). It also calls for the cultivation of those virtues which
enable each of us to grow in holiness and to bear spiritual fruit
within our particular state of life. Is not this ongoing
“intellectual” conversion as necessary as “moral” conversion for our
own growth in faith, our discernment of the signs of the times, and our
personal contribution to the Church’s life and mission?
For all of us, I think, one of the great disappointments which followed
the Second Vatican Council, with its call for a greater engagement in
the Church’s mission to the world, has been the experience of division
between different groups, different generations, different members of
the same religious family. We can only move forward if we turn
our gaze together to Christ! In the light of faith, we will then
discover the wisdom and strength needed to open ourselves to points of
view which may not necessarily conform to our own ideas or
assumptions. Thus we can value the perspectives of others, be
they younger or older than ourselves, and ultimately hear “what the
Spirit is saying” to us and to the Church (cf. Rev 2:7). In this
way, we will move together towards that true spiritual renewal desired
by the Council, a renewal which can only strengthen the Church in that
holiness and unity indispensable for the effective proclamation of the
Gospel in today’s world.
Was not this unity of vision and purpose – rooted in faith and a spirit
of constant conversion and self-sacrifice – the secret of the
impressive growth of the Church in this country? We need but
think of the remarkable accomplishment of that exemplary American
priest, the Venerable Michael McGivney, whose vision and zeal led to
the establishment of the Knights of Columbus, or of the legacy of the
generations of religious and priests who quietly devoted their lives to
serving the People of God in countless schools, hospitals and parishes.
Here, within the context of our need for the perspective given by
faith, and for unity and cooperation in the work of building up the
Church, I would like say a word about the sexual abuse that has caused
so much suffering. I have already had occasion to speak of this,
and of the resulting damage to the community of the faithful.
Here I simply wish to assure you, dear priests and religious, of my
spiritual closeness as you strive to respond with Christian hope to the
continuing challenges that this situation presents. I join you in
praying that this will be a time of purification for each and every
particular Church and religious community, and a time for
healing. And I also encourage you to cooperate with your Bishops
who continue to work effectively to resolve this issue. May our
Lord Jesus Christ grant the Church in America a renewed sense of unity
and purpose, as all – Bishops, clergy, religious and laity – move
forward in hope, in love for the truth and for one another.
Dear friends, these considerations lead me to a final observation about
this great cathedral in which we find ourselves. The unity of a
Gothic cathedral, we know, is not the static unity of a classical
temple, but a unity born of the dynamic tension of diverse forces which
impel the architecture upward, pointing it to heaven. Here too,
we can see a symbol of the Church’s unity, which is the unity – as
Saint Paul has told us – of a living body composed of many different
members, each with its own role and purpose. Here too we see our
need to acknowledge and reverence the gifts of each and every member of
the body as “manifestations of the Spirit given for the good of all” (1
Cor 12:7). Certainly within the Church’s divinely-willed
structure there is a distinction to be made between hierarchical and
charismatic gifts (cf. Lumen Gentium, 4). Yet the very variety
and richness of the graces bestowed by the Spirit invite us constantly
to discern how these gifts are to be rightly ordered in the service of
the Church’s mission. You, dear priests, by sacramental
ordination have been configured to Christ, the Head of the Body. You,
dear deacons, have been ordained for the service of that Body.
You, dear men and women religious, both contemplative and apostolic,
have devoted your lives to following the divine Master in generous love
and complete devotion to his Gospel. All of you, who fill this
cathedral today, as wells as your retired, elderly and infirm brothers
and sisters, who unite their prayers and sacrifices to your labors, are
called to be forces of unity within Christ’s Body. By your
personal witness, and your fidelity to the ministry or apostolate
entrusted to you, you prepare a path for the Spirit. For the
Spirit never ceases to pour out his abundant gifts, to awaken new
vocations and missions, and to guide the Church, as our Lord promised
in this morning’s Gospel, into the fullness of truth (cf. Jn 16:13).
So let us lift our gaze upward! And with great humility and
confidence, let us ask the Spirit to enable us each day to grow in the
holiness that will make us living stones in the temple which he is even
now raising up in the midst of our world. If we are to be true
forces of unity, let us be the first to seek inner reconciliation
through penance. Let us forgive the wrongs we have suffered and
put aside all anger and contention. Let us be the first to
demonstrate the humility and purity of heart which are required to
approach the splendor of God’s truth. In fidelity to the deposit
of faith entrusted to the Apostles (cf. 1 Tim 6:20), let us be joyful
witnesses of the transforming power of the Gospel!
Dear brothers and sisters, in the finest traditions of the Church in
this country, may you also be the first friend of the poor, the
homeless, the stranger, the sick and all who suffer. Act as
beacons of hope, casting the light of Christ upon the world, and
encouraging young people to discover the beauty of a life given
completely to the Lord and his Church. I make this plea in a
particular way to the many seminarians and young religious
present. All of you have a special place in my heart. Never
forget that you are called to carry on, with all the enthusiasm and joy
that the Spirit has given you, a work that others have begun, a legacy
that one day you too will have to pass on to a new generation.
Work generously and joyfully, for he whom you serve is the Lord!
The spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral are dwarfed by the skyscrapers
of the Manhattan skyline, yet in the heart of this busy metropolis,
they are a vivid reminder of the constant yearning of the human spirit
to rise to God. As we celebrate this Eucharist, let us thank the
Lord for allowing us to know him in the communion of the Church, to
cooperate in building up his Mystical Body, and in bringing his saving
word as good news to the men and women of our time. And when we
leave this great church, let us go forth as heralds of hope in the
midst of this city, and all those places where God’s grace has placed
us. In this way, the Church in America will know a new springtime
in the Spirit, and point the way to that other, greater city, the new
Jerusalem, whose light is the Lamb (Rev 21:23). For there God is
even now preparing for all people a banquet of unending joy and
At Ground Zero
God of Peace, Bring Your Peace to Our Violent World
by Pope Benedict XVI
O God of love, compassion, and healing,
look on us, people of many different faiths and traditions,
who gather today at this site,
the scene of incredible violence and pain.
We ask you in your goodness
to give eternal
light and peace
to all who died here –
the heroic first-responders:
our fire fighters, police officers,
emergency service workers, and Port Authority personnel,
along with all the innocent men and women
who were victims of this tragedy
simply because their work or service
brought them here on September 11, 2001.
We ask you, in your compassion
to bring healing to those
who, because of their presence here that day,
suffer from injuries and illness.
Heal, too, the pain of still-grieving families
and all who lost loved ones in this tragedy.
Give them strength to continue their lives with courage and hope.
We are mindful as well
of those who suffered death, injury, and loss
on the same day at the Pentagon and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Our hearts are one with theirs
as our prayer embraces their pain and suffering.
God of peace, bring your peace to our violent world:
peace in the hearts of all men and women
and peace among the nations of the earth.
Turn to your way of love
those whose hearts and minds
are consumed with hatred.
God of understanding,
overwhelmed by the magnitude of this tragedy,
we seek your light and guidance
as we confront such terrible events.
Grant that those whose lives were spared
may live so that the lives lost here
may not have been lost in vain.
Comfort and console us,
strengthen us in hope,
and give us the wisdom and courage
to work tirelessly for a world
where true peace and love reign
among nations and in the hearts of all.
Homily at Yankee Stadium
Look to the Future With Hope
by Pope Benedict XVI
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Gospel we
have just heard, Jesus tells his Apostles to put their
faith in him, for he is "the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn
14:6). Christ is the way that leads to the Father, the truth which
gives meaning to human existence, and the source of that life which is
eternal joy with all the saints in his heavenly Kingdom. Let us take
the Lord at his word! Let us renew our faith in him and put all our
hope in his promises!
With this encouragement to persevere in the faith of Peter (cf. Lk
22:32; Mt 16:17), I greet all of you with great affection. I thank
Cardinal Egan for his cordial words of welcome in your name. At this
Mass, the Church in the United States celebrates the two hundredth
anniversary of the creation of the Sees of New York, Boston,
Philadelphia and Louisville from the mother See of Baltimore. The
presence around this altar of the Successor of Peter, his brother
bishops and priests, and deacons, men and women religious, and lay
faithful from throughout the fifty states of the Union, eloquently
manifests our communion in the Catholic faith which comes to us from
Our celebration today is also a sign of the impressive growth which God
has given to the Church in your country in the past two hundred years.
From a small flock like that described in the first reading, the Church
in America has been built up in fidelity to the twin commandment of
love of God and love of neighbor. In this land of freedom and
opportunity, the Church has united a widely diverse flock in the
profession of the faith and, through her many educational, charitable
and social works, has also contributed significantly to the growth of
American society as a whole.
This great accomplishment was not without its challenges. Today’s first
reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, speaks of linguistic and
cultural tensions already present within the earliest Church community.
At the same time, it shows the power of the word of God,
authoritatively proclaimed by the Apostles and received in faith, to
create a unity which transcends the divisions arising from human
limitations and weakness. Here we are reminded of a fundamental truth:
that the Church’s unity has no other basis than the Word of God, made
flesh in Christ Jesus our Lord. All external signs of identity, all
structures, associations and programs, valuable or even essential as
they may be, ultimately exist only to support and foster the deeper
unity which, in Christ, is God’s indefectible gift to his Church.
The first reading also makes clear, as we see from the imposition of
hands on the first deacons, that the Church’s unity is "apostolic". It
is a visible unity, grounded in the Apostles whom Christ chose and
appointed as witnesses to his resurrection, and it is born of what the
Scriptures call "the obedience of faith" (Rom 1:5; cf. Acts 6:7).
"Authority" … "obedience". To be frank, these are not easy words to
speak nowadays. Words like these represent a "stumbling stone" for many
of our contemporaries, especially in a society which rightly places a
high value on personal freedom. Yet, in the light of our faith in Jesus
Christ – "the way and the truth and the life" – we come to see the
fullest meaning, value, and indeed beauty, of those words. The Gospel
teaches us that true freedom, the freedom of the children of God, is
found only in the self-surrender which is part of the mystery of love.
Only by losing ourselves, the Lord tells us, do we truly find ourselves
(cf. Lk 17:33). True freedom blossoms when we turn away from the burden
of sin, which clouds our perceptions and weakens our resolve, and find
the source of our ultimate happiness in him who is infinite love,
infinite freedom, infinite life. "In his will is our peace".
Real freedom, then, is God’s gracious gift, the fruit of conversion to
his truth, the truth which makes us free (cf. Jn 8:32). And this
freedom in truth brings in its wake a new and liberating way of seeing
reality. When we put on "the mind of Christ" (cf. Phil 2:5), new
horizons open before us! In the light of faith, within the communion of
the Church, we also find the inspiration and strength to become a
leaven of the Gospel in the world. We become the light of the world,
the salt of the earth (cf. Mt 5:13-14), entrusted with the "apostolate"
of making our own lives, and the world in which we live, conform ever
more fully to God’s saving plan.
This magnificent vision of a world being transformed by the liberating
truth of the Gospel is reflected in the description of the Church found
in today’s second reading. The Apostle tells us that Christ, risen from
the dead, is the keystone of a great temple which is even now rising in
the Spirit. And we, the members of his body, through Baptism have
become "living stones" in that temple, sharing in the life of God by
grace, blessed with the freedom of the sons of God, and empowered to
offer spiritual sacrifices pleasing to him (cf. 1 Pet 2:5). And what is
this offering which we are called to make, if not to direct our every
thought, word and action to the truth of the Gospel and to harness all
our energies in the service of God’s Kingdom? Only in this way can we
build with God, on the one foundation which is Christ (cf. 1 Cor 3:11).
Only in this way can we build something that will truly endure. Only in
this way can our lives find ultimate meaning and bear lasting fruit.
Today we recall the bicentennial of a watershed in the history of the
Church in the United States: its first great chapter of growth. In
these two hundred years, the face of the Catholic community in your
country has changed greatly. We think of the successive waves of
immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the Church in America. We
think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches,
educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been
the hallmark of the Church in this land. We think also of those
countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their
children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their
lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by
so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of
children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong
desire to know God, to love him and to serve him. How many "spiritual
sacrifices pleasing to God" have been offered up in these two
centuries! In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom
not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in
civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public
square and cooperating with their neighbors in shaping a vibrant,
democratic society. Today’s celebration is more than an occasion of
gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward
with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to
build a future of hope for coming generations.
"You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people he
claims for his own, to proclaim his glorious works" (1 Pet 2:9). These
words of the Apostle Peter do not simply remind us of the dignity which
is ours by God’s grace; they also challenge us to an ever greater
fidelity to the glorious inheritance which we have received in Christ
(cf. Eph 1:18). They challenge us to examine our consciences, to purify
our hearts, to renew our baptismal commitment to reject Satan and all
his empty promises. They challenge us to be a people of joy, heralds of
the unfailing hope (cf. Rom 5:5) born of faith in God’s word, and trust
in his promises.
Each day, throughout this land, you and so many of your neighbors pray
to the Father in the Lord’s own words: "Thy Kingdom come". This prayer
needs to shape the mind and heart of every Christian in this nation. It
needs to bear fruit in the way you lead your lives and in the way you
build up your families and your communities. It needs to create new
"settings of hope" (cf. Spe Salvi, 32ff.) where God’s Kingdom becomes
present in all its saving power.
Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being
constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its
growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of
present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment
to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of
resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation
between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and
happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and
political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, "there is
no human activity – even in secular affairs – which can be withdrawn
from God’s dominion" (Lumen Gentium, 36). It means working to enrich
American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel,
and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value
to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.
And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor
of Saint Peter sets before you today. As "a chosen people, a royal
priesthood, a holy nation", follow faithfully in the footsteps of those
who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this
land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day
too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its
prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the
young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst.
On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must
even now begin to rise!
Yesterday, not far from here, I was moved by the joy, the hope and the
generous love of Christ which I saw on the faces of the many young
people assembled in Dunwoodie. They are the Church’s future, and they
deserve all the prayer and support that you can give them. And so I
wish to close by adding a special word of encouragement to them. My
dear young friends, like the seven men, "filled with the Spirit and
wisdom" whom the Apostles charged with care for the young Church, may
you step forward and take up the responsibility which your faith in
Christ sets before you! May you find the courage to proclaim Christ,
"the same, yesterday, and today and for ever" and the unchanging truths
which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8).
These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone
can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each
man, woman and child in our world – including the most defenseless of
all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb. In a world
where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us,
Lazarus continues to stand at our door (Homily at Yankee Stadium,
October 2, 1979, No. 7), let your faith and love bear rich fruit in
outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice. Young men
and women of America, I urge you: open your hearts to the Lord’s call
to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life. Can there be
any greater mark of love than this: to follow in the footsteps of
Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for his friends (cf. Jn
In today’s Gospel, the Lord promises his disciples that they will
perform works even greater than his (cf. Jn 14:12). Dear friends, only
God in his providence knows what works his grace has yet to bring forth
in your lives and in the life of the Church in the United States. Yet
Christ’s promise fills us with sure hope. Let us now join our prayers
to his, as living stones in that spiritual temple which is his one,
holy, catholic and apostolic Church. Let us lift our eyes to him, for
even now he is preparing for us a place in his Father’s house. And
empowered by his Holy Spirit, let us work with renewed zeal for the
spread of his Kingdom.
"Happy are you who believe!" (cf. 1 Pet 2:7). Let us turn to Jesus! He
alone is the way that leads to eternal happiness, the truth who
satisfies the deepest longings of every heart, and the life who brings
ever new joy and hope, to us and to our world. Amen.
© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[The Pope continued in Spanish:]
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ:
I greet you with affection and I am happy to celebrate this holy Mass
in thanksgiving to God for the bicentennial of the moment in which the
Catholic Church in this nation began to develop. Upon looking at the
path of faith taken in these years, not without difficulties, we praise
the Lord for the fruits that the Word of God has given these lands and
shows to him our desire that Christ, the way, the truth and the life,
be know and love more each day.
Here, in this country of freedom, I want to proclaim with strength that
the Word of Christ does not eliminate our aspirations to a full and
free life, but rather in it we discover our true dignity as sons of God
and it encourages us to fight against all that enslaves us, beginning
with our own egotism and whims. At the same time, it encourages us to
manifest our faith through our life of charity and make our ecclesial
lives be each day more welcoming and fraternal.
Above all to the youth I entrust you to take on the great challenge
that comes with believing in Christ, and to manifest your faith through
closeness to the poor, and through generous responses to the calls that
he continues to make to leave everything and begin a life of total
consecration to God and the Church, in the priestly or religious life.
Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to look to the future with
hope, allowing Jesus to enter into your lives. Only he is the path that
leads to the happiness that never ends, the truth that satisfies the
noblest human aspirations, and the life overflowing with joy for the
good of the Church and the world.
May God bless you.
Promote Peaceful Co-Existence between
by Pope Benedict XVI
Distinguished Civil Authorities,
My Brother Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The time has come for me to bid farewell to your country. These days
that I have spent in the United States have been blessed with many
memorable experiences of American hospitality, and I wish to express my
deep appreciation to all of you for your kind welcome. It has been a
joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Catholic community
here. It was heart-warming to spend time with leaders and
representatives of other Christian communities and other religions, and
I renew my assurances of respect and esteem to all of you. I am
grateful to President Bush for kindly coming to greet me at the start
of my visit, and I thank Vice-President Cheney for his presence here as
I depart. The civic authorities, workers and volunteers in Washington
and New York have given generously of their time and resources in order
to ensure the smooth progress of my visit at every stage, and for this
I express my profound thanks and appreciation to Mayor Adrian Fenty of
Washington and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York.
Once again I offer prayerful good wishes to the representatives of the
see of Baltimore, the first Archdiocese, and those of New York, Boston,
Philadelphia and Louisville, in this jubilee year. May the Lord
continue to bless you in the years ahead. To all my Brother Bishops, to
Bishop DiMarzio of this Diocese of Brooklyn, and to the officers and
staff of the Episcopal Conference who have contributed in so many ways
to the preparation of this visit, I extend my renewed gratitude for
their hard work and dedication. With great affection I greet once more
the priests and religious, the deacons, the seminarians and young
people, and all the faithful in the United States, and I encourage you
to continue bearing joyful witness to Christ our Hope, our Risen Lord
and Savior, who makes all things new and gives us life in abundance.
One of the high-points of my visit was the opportunity to address the
General Assembly of the United Nations, and I thank Secretary-General
Ban Ki-moon for his kind invitation and welcome. Looking back over the
sixty years that have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, I give thanks for all that the Organization has been able to
achieve in defending and promoting the fundamental rights of every man,
woman and child throughout the world, and I encourage people of good
will everywhere to continue working tirelessly to promote justice and
peaceful co-existence between peoples and nations.
My visit this morning to Ground Zero will remain firmly etched in my
memory, as I continue to pray for those who died and for all who suffer
in consequence of the tragedy that occurred there in 2001. For all the
people of America, and indeed throughout the world, I pray that the
future will bring increased fraternity and solidarity, a growth in
mutual respect, and a renewed trust and confidence in God, our heavenly
With these words, I take my leave, I ask you to remember me in your
prayers, and I assure you of my affection and friendship in the Lord.
May God bless America!