Pope Benedict XVI's visit to Venice (May, 2011) 

On the Mother, Present With the Son
"If We Follow Her ... the Virgin Will Lead Us to Him"

VENICE, Italy, MAY 8, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before praying the midday Regina Caeli. The Pope was in Venice for a two-day trip to the region.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

At the end of this solemn Eucharistic Celebration, we turn our gaze to Mary, Regina Caeli. With the dawn of Easter she became the Mother of the Risen One and her union with him is so profound that there where the Son is present, the Mother cannot fail to be present. In these beautiful surroundings, gifts and signs of the beauty of God, how many shrines, churches and chapels are dedicated to Mary! In her the luminous face of Christ is reflected. If we follow her with docility, the Virgin will lead us to him.

In these days of the Easter season let us allow ourselves to be conquered by the risen Christ. In him the new world of love and peace constitutes the profound aspiration of every human heart. May the Lord grant to you the inhabitants of these lands rich with a long Christian history, to live the Gospel on the model of the nascent Church, in which “the multitude of those who had come to the faith were of one heart and one soul” (Acts 4:32).

Let us invoke Mary Most Holy, who supported the first witnesses of her Son in preaching the Good News, that she might also today support the apostolic efforts of priests; make the witness of those in religious life fruitful; animate the daily work of parents in the first transmission of the faith to their children; illuminate the path of young people so that they might walk confidently in the way traced by their fathers; fill the hearts of the elderly with hope; comfort the sick and all of the suffering with her nearness; assist the work of numerous laypeople who actively collaborate in the new evangelization, in parishes, in associations, such as Catholic Action, which is so deeply rooted and present in these lands; in the movements, which, in the variety of their charisms and their action, are a sign of the richness of the ecclesial fabric – I have in mind such groups as Focolare, Communion and Liberation and the Neocatechumenal Way, to mention but a few. I encourage everyone to work with the true spirit of communion in this great vineyard in which the Lord has called us to work. Mary, Mother of the Risen One and of the Church, pray for us!


Pope's Address at Closure of Venice Diocese's Pastoral Visit
"Never Let Yourselves Be Brought Low by the Failures That Can Scar Christian Communities"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 17, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered May 8 to the assembly at the conclusion of the Diocesan Pastoral Visit, which was gathered in the Venetian Basilica of St. Mark. The Pontiff traveled to Aquileia and Venice on May 7-8.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the words of the Virgin Mary I would like to raise with you the hymn of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord for the gift of the Pastoral Visit, which began in the Patriarchate of Venice in 2005 and which today has reached its appropriate conclusion in this General Assembly. To God, the Giver of all good, we address our praise for having supported your spiritual resolutions and your apostolic efforts during this time of the Pastoral Visit, made by your Pastor, Cardinal Angelo Scola, whom I greet and thank for his kind words to me on behalf of you all.

With him I also greet the Auxiliary Bishop and Bishop-elect of Vicenza, the episcopal vicars and all those who have assisted in this long and complex pastoral commitment, an event of grace and a powerful ecclesial experience, in which the entire Christian people has been regenerated in faith, reaching forward with renewed enthusiasm for its mission.

And it is therefore especially to you, dear priests, religious and lay faithful, that I extend my warm greetings and sincere appreciation for your service, particularly in the smooth-running of ecclesial Assemblies. I am very pleased to greet the ancient Armenian community of Venice with the Abbot and the Mechitarist monks. A thought goes to the Greek-Orthodox Metropolitan Gennadios of Italy and to Bishop Nestor of the Russian Orthodox Church, as well as to the representatives of the Lutheran and Anglican Communities.

Gratitude and joy are therefore the feelings that characterize our meeting. It is taking place in the sacred space, so full of art and memories, of the Basilica of San Marco, where faith and human creativity have given rise to an eloquent catechesis through images.

The Servant of God Albino Luciani, who was your unforgettable patriarch, described his first visit to this Church as a young priest: "I found myself immersed in a river of light ... At last I could see with my own eyes and enjoy the full splendour of a world of art and unique beauty, whose charm penetrates your inmost depths (Io sono il ragazzo del mio Signore, Venice-Quarto d'Altino, 1998). This temple is the image and symbol of the Church of living stones which you are, Christians of Venice. "‘[I] must stay at your house today’. So he made haste and came down and received him joyfully" (Lk 19:5-6). How often during the Pastoral Visit, did you listen to and ponder these words, addressed by Jesus to Zacchaeus!

They have been the main theme of your community meetings, providing you with an effective stimulus to welcome the Risen Jesus, a sure way to find fullness of life and happiness. In fact, genuine human fulfilment and true joy are not found in power, success or money, but only in God, whom Jesus Christ makes known and brings close to us.

This is Zacchaeus’ experience. According to the current mentality, he has it all: power and money. He can be called a " man who has ‘made it’": he has worked his way up, has achieved what he wanted and could say, like the rich fool in the Gospel parable, "Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, take your ease, eat, drink and be merry" (Lk 12:19). For this reason his desire to see Jesus is surprising. What impelled him to seek Jesus out? Zacchaeus realized that what he possessed was not enough, he felt the desire for more. And here was Jesus, the Prophet of Nazareth, passing through Jericho, his hometown.

The echo of some unusual words spoken by Jesus had reached him: blessed are the poor, the meek, those who mourn, who hunger for righteousness. These words were strange to him, but perhaps for this very reason, were also fascinating and new. He wanted to see this Jesus. But though Zacchaeus was rich and powerful, he was short. So he ran ahead and climbed a tree, a sycamore. It did not matter to him whether he was exposing himself to ridicule: he found a way to make the meeting possible.

And Jesus arrived, he looked up at him and called him by name: "Zacchaeus, make haste and come down; for I must stay at your house today" (Lk 19:5). Nothing is impossible to God! From this meeting streamed forth a new life for Zacchaeus: he welcomed Jesus with joy, discovering at last the reality that can truly and fully fill his life. He had first hand experience of salvation, was no longer the same as before. As a sign of conversion he committed himself to donating half of his possessions to the poor and giving back four-fold to those he had robbed. He found the true treasure, because the Treasure, which is Jesus, found him!

Beloved Church in Venice! Imitate the example of Zacchaeus and surpass it! Overtake the men and women of today and help them to surmount the barriers of individualism, of relativism; never let yourselves be brought low by the failures that can scar Christian communities. Strive to look closely at the person of Christ, who said: "I am the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6).

As Successor of the Apostle Peter, visiting your land in these days, I repeat to each one of you: do not be afraid to swim against the tide in order to meet Jesus, to direct your attention upwards to meet his gaze. The "logo" of my Pastoral Visit portrays the scene of Mark delivering the Gospel to Peter, taken from a mosaic in this basilica. Today, symbolically, I come to redeliver the Gospel to you, the spiritual children of St Mark, in order to strengthen you in the faith and encourage you in the face of the challenges of the present time. Move ahead with confidence on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service to the poor and with courageous testimony in the various social realities. Be aware that you bear a message meant for every man and and for the whole man; a message of faith, of hope and of love.

This invitation is in the first place, for you, dear priests, configured through the sacrament of Orders to Christ "Head and Shepherd" and placed as guides of his people. Recognizing the immense gift you have received, continue to carry out your ministry with generosity and dedication, seeking support both in priestly brotherhood lived as co-responsibility and cooperation, and in intense prayer and in-depth theological and pastoral renewal. An affectionate greeting to the sick and elderly priests who are united with us in spirit. This invitation is also extended to you, consecrated persons, who form a valuable spiritual resource for the entire Christian people, and who point out in a special way the importance and the possibility of total self gift to God through the profession of your vows.

Lastly, this invitation is for all of you, dear lay faithful. May you always and everywhere know how to account for the hope that is in you (cf. 1 Pt 3:15). The Church needs your gifts and your enthusiasm. Know how to say "yes" to Christ who calls you to be his disciples, to be holy. I would remind you, once again, that "holiness" does not mean doing extraordinary things, but following the will of God every day, living one’s own vocation really well, with the help of prayer, of the Word of God, the sacraments and with the daily effort for consistency. Yes, it takes lay faithful who are fascinated by the ideal of "holiness", to build a society worthy of man, a civilization of love.

During the Pastoral Visit you paid special attention to the testimony that your Christian communities are called upon to give, beginning with the faithful who are more motivated and aware. In this regard, you are rightly concerned to revive the evangelization and catechesis of adults and of the younger generations beginning with small communities of adults and parents, who, being domestic as it were, can live the logic of the Christian event first and foremost by witnessing to communion and love.

I urge you to spare no energy in proclaiming the Gospel and in Christian education, promoting both catechesis at all levels, and the cultural and educational contributions that make up your considerable spiritual heritage. May you be able to devote special attention to the Christian formation of children, adolescents and young people. They need effective points of reference: be an example to them of human and Christian coherence. During the course of the Pastoral Visit the need for an ever greater commitment in love, experienced as a free and generous gift of self, also emerged as well as the need to demonstrate clearly the missionary face of the parish to the point of creating pastoral realities which, without sacrificing pervasiveness, should be more capable of apostolic zeal.

Dear friends, the mission of the Church bears fruit because Christ is truly present among us in a quite special way in the Holy Eucharist. His is a dynamic presence which grasps us in order to make us his, to liken us to him. Christ draws us to himself, he brings us out of ourselves to make us all one with him. In this way he also inserts us into the community of brothers and sisters: communion with the Lord is always also communion with others.

For this reason our spiritual life depends essentially on the Eucharist. Without it, faith and hope are extinguished, love cools. I therefore urge you increasingly to pay special attention to the quality of Eucharistic celebrations, especially those on Sunday, so that the day of the Lord is lived fully and may illuminate the happenings and activities of daily life. From the Eucharist, the inexhaustible source of divine love, you can tap into the energy needed to bring Christ to others and to bring others to Christ, to be daily witnesses of charity and solidarity and to share the goods that Providence gives you with brothers and sisters who lack the necessities of life.

Dear friends, I assure you of my prayers that the demanding journey of growth in communion which you have made in these years of the Pastoral Visit, may renew the life of faith of your particular church as a whole and, at the same time, may kindle a more selfless dedication to service of God and neighbour.

May Most Holy Mary, whom you honour with the title "Virgin Nicopeja", whose evocative image is resplendent in this Basilica, obtain for all of you and for the entire diocesan community complete fidelity to Christ. I commend the journey that awaits you to the intercession of the heavenly Mother of the Redeemer and to the support of the saints and blesseds of your land, while with affection I impart to you and to the whole Church of St Mark a special Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to the sick, to prisoners and to all suffering in body and in spirit.

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Greeting at Aquileia's Piazza Capitolo
"It Is Only From Christ That Humanity Can Receive Hope and a Future"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 18, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered May 7 upon greeting the people of Aquileia gathered in the Piazza Capitolo, at the beginning of his two-day pastoral visit to Aquileia and Venice.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I come to you with great joy, children and heirs of the illustrious Church of Aquileia as I begin my Visit here to the Churches of this region. I address my cordial greeting to you all, pastors and civil Authorities, faithful from the Dioceses of the Triveneto, as well as those from Slovenia, Croatia, Austria and Bavaria. I thank the Mayor of Aquileia for his courteous words.

The archaeological ruins and the wonderful remains of artwork that make Aquileia famous everywhere, prompt me at this moment to retrace the origins of this City that was founded in 181 and prospered down the ages. The Bishop-poet Paulinus sang: "beautiful, illustrious, adorned with splendid palaces, renowned for your city walls and even more for the innumerable crowds of your citizens. All the cities of the Venetian region were subject to you and made you their capital and metropolis; you flourished because of your clergy, you were resplendent because of your churches, which you dedicated to Christ" (Poetae Latini aevi Carolini, in M.G.H., 1881, p. 142). Aquileia was born and developed at the height of the power of the Empire, it was a gateway between East and West, a garrison town, a place of economic and cultural exchanges.

But Aquileia's glory was something else! In fact, St Paul tells us that God did not chose what is noble and strong but what in the world's eyes is weak and foolish (cf. 1 Cor 1:27-28). The One who came to enlighten the people with the light of the Truth had been born in the distant Province of Syria at the time of Caesar Augustus: Jesus, Son of Mary, the consubstantial and eternal Son of the Father, revealer of God's everlasting dominion over humankind, of his plan of communion for all the peoples. The One who, with his death on the Cross suffered at the hand of the Empire, was to establish the true kingdom of justice, love and peace, giving to all who received him "power to become children of God" (Jn 1:12).

The Good News of Christ's salvation arrived here from Jerusalem, through the Church of Alexandria. The seed of great hope arrived in this Roman region. Very soon, in the Decima Regio of the Empire, the Church of Aquileia became a community of martyrs, of heroic witnesses to faith in the Risen One, a seed of other disciples and of other communities. Aquileia's greatness, therefore, was not only due to its place as Italy's ninth city, but also to being a lively, exemplary Church, capable of authentic Gospel proclamation, maintained and nurtured for centuries, courageously disseminated in the surrounding regions. I therefore pay homage to this blessed land, sprinkled with the blood and sacrifices of so many witnesses, and I pray that the holy Martyrs of Aquileia bring forth in the Church, today too, courageous and faithful disciples of Christ who are devoted to him alone, hence convinced and convincing.

The freedom of worship granted to Christianity in the 4th century did no more than to extend the radius of action of the Church of Aquileia, extending it beyond the natural boundaries of Venetia et Histria as far as Raetia and Noricum, to the vast Danubian regions, to Pannonia and to Pannonia-Savia. In this way the metropolitan ecclesiastical Province of Aquileia was formed. Bishops of quite distant Churches offered Aquileia their obedience, accepted its profession of faith, gathered round it in the indissoluble bonds of ecclesial, liturgical and disciplinarian and even architectural communion. Aquileia was the vibrant heart of this Region, under the learned, fearless guidance of holy Pastors who defended it against the spreading Arianism.

Among all these pastors I recall Chromatius -- on whom I reflected in the Catechesis of 5 December 2007 -- a solicitous and active Bishop, like Augustine of Hippo, and like Ambrose of Milan, described by Jerome as "the holiest and most learned of Bishops". What made the Church which Chromatius loved and served great was her profession of faith in Jesus Christ, true God and true man. In commenting on the Gospel narrative of the woman who pours perfume first on Jesus' feet and then on his head, Chromatius says: "The feet of Christ indicate the mystery of his Incarnation which is why he deigned to be born of a virgin in these recent times; the head, on the other hand, indicates the glory of his divinity which proceeds from the Father before all the ages. This means that we must believe two things about Christ: that he is God, and that he is man, God begotten by the Father, a man born of a virgin.... We cannot otherwise be saved, unless we believe these two things about Christ" (Chromatius of Aquileia, Catechesis to the People, Cittá Nuova, 1989, p. 93).

Dear brothers and sisters, sons and daughters, heirs of the glorious Church of Aquileia, I am with you today to admire this rich and ancient tradition, but, especially, to strengthen you in the profound faith of your forefathers: at this moment of history, may you rediscover, defend and profess this fundamental truth with spiritual warmth.

Indeed, it is only from Christ that humanity can receive hope and a future, only from him can it draw the significance and power of forgiveness, of justice, of peace. Always keep alive courageously the faith and deeds of your roots! May you be in your Churches and in society "like a choir of blesseds", as Jerome said of the clergy of Aquileia, through unity of faith, the study of the word, brotherly love, and in the joyful harmony of ecclesial witness in its many forms. I invite you to make yourselves ever new disciples of the Gospel, to express it in spiritual fervour, clarity of faith, sincere love and prompt sensitivity to the poor: may you shape your life in accordance with that "sermo rusticus", of which Jerome continued to speak, referring to the evangelical quality of the Aquileian community.

Be diligent in approaching the "manger", as Chromatius used to say, that is, the altar, where the food is Christ himself, the Bread of life, strength in persecution, nourishment that gives courage in every challenge and weakness, the food of courage and of Christian zeal. May the memory of the Holy Mother Church of Aquileia support you, spur you to new missionary goals in this troubled period of history, make you architects of unity and understanding among the people of your lands. May the Virgin Mary always protect you on your journey and may my my Blessing accompany you.

The Pope then greeted the people in their various languages beginning with the regional dialect of Friulan:

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord bless you and give you peace and prosperity! I greet the German-speaking faithful. May the ancient Christian roots of your lands bear abundant fruits in your communities. God bless you! I cordially greet the Slovenian faithful. God bless you and your families! Dear Croatian brothers and sisters, thank you for coming! In a month I shall go to Zagreb. God bless you.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Greeting in St. Mark's Square
"Preserve Harmony Between the Eyes of Faith and Reason"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 19, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered May 7 upon greeting the people of Venice gathered in St. Mark's Square, at the beginning of his two-day pastoral visit to Aquileia and Venice.

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Dear Cardinal Patriarch,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Mr Mayor and Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I address a cordial greeting to each of you who have come to this quay, from the "calli" and "campi" [alleyways and squares] of this marvellous city, to express your affection to the Successor of Peter, who is here on pilgrimage to the land of St Mark. Your presence, accompanied by vibrant enthusiasm, expresses your faith and devotion, and in my opinion this is a reason for great joy. In particular, I thank the Mayor for the noble words he has addressed to me on behalf of the whole city and for the sentiments he has expressed to me; together with him, I greet and thank the Civil and Military Authorities who have come to welcome me.

Today I have the joy of being able to meet the people of this Lagoon. I have come to you to renew the profound link of communion which historically unites you with the Bishop of Rome and whose primary witnesses are the venerable Pastors who left this Patriarchal See for that of St Peter: many of you have kept a vivid memory of Patriarch Albino Luciani, a son of these Venetian regions, who became Pope with the name of John Paul I. How can one forget Patriarch Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, who, having become Pope John XXIII, has been raised by the Church to the honours of the altar and proclaimed Blessed? Lastly, let us remember Patriarch Giuseppe Sarto, the future St Pius X, who continues to enliven this particular Church and the whole universal Church with his example of holiness. The Pastoral Visits made by the Servant of God Paul VI and by Bl. John Paul II are a further testimony of the Popes’ pastoral care for your city. In the footsteps of my Predecessors, I too wished to be with you today to bring you a word of love and hope, and to strengthen you in the faith of the Church, which the Lord Jesus chose to found on the rock which was Peter and which he entrusted to the guidance of the Apostles and their successors in communion with the Church of Rome "which presides in charity" (St Ignatius).

Dear friends, in accordance with the Venetian traditions you have wished to welcome me in this evocative place which is, as it were, the gate to the heart of the city. From here one’s gaze embraces the serene basin of St Mark, the elegant Ducal Palace, the marvellous structure of Basilica di San Marco, the unmistakable profile of the city, rightly known as "the pearl of the Adriatic". From here one can appreciate the aspect of rare openness that has always characterized Venice, a crossroads of people and communities of all origins, cultures, languages and religions. As a landing and meeting place for human beings from all continents, due to its beauty, its history, its civil traditions, for centuries this city has responded to the special vocation of being a bridge between East and West.

In our day too, with its new perspectives and their complex challenges, Venice is called to take on important responsibilities with regard to a culture of hospitality and sharing in order to build bridges of dialogue between peoples and nations; a culture of harmony and love which has its solid foundations in the Gospel.

The splendour of its monuments and the reputation of its age-old institutions testify to its glorious history and the character of the Venetian people, honest and hard-working, endowed with great sensitivity, with organizational ability and with what in today’s parlance is called "common sense". This patrimony of civil, cultural and artistic traditions found fertile development thanks to its acceptance of the Christian faith, which is rooted in the very distant past, already from the time of the foundation of the first settlements on this lagoon. As the centuries passed, the faith transmitted by the first evangelizers became ever more deeply rooted in the social fabric, thus becoming an essential part of it. Visible evidence of this are the splendid churches and the many devotional aedicules along the streets, canals and bridges.

I would like in particular to recall the two important Shrines which, at different times, were built by the Venetians in compliance with a vow in order to obtain from divine Providence deliverance from the scourge of the plague: there they stand opposite this quay, the Basilica of the Redeemer and the Shrine of the Madonna della Salute, both destinations of numerous pilgrims on their respective anniversaries. Your ancestors knew well that human life is in the hands of God and that without his blessing man builds in vain. Therefore, as I visit your city, I ask the Lord to give you all a sincere and fruitful faith that is capable of nurturing great hope and a patient quest for the common good.

Dear friends, my prayer rises to God to implore him to pour out his blessings on Venice and its territory. I invite you all, dear Venetians, always to seek and to preserve harmony between the eyes of faith and reason, which enables the conscience to perceive the true good, so that the decisions of the civil community may always be inspired by ethical principles that correspond to the deep truth of human nature. Man cannot renounce the truth about himself without his sense of personal responsibility, solidarity with others and honesty in economic and working relations, suffering.

While in the evening of this day we are entering the Sunday feast, let us prepare ourselves to celebrate the weekly Easter of the Lord with the joy that characterizes the Easter Season and with the certainty that Jesus conquered death with his Resurrection and wants to make us share in his own life. As I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, I invoke the Lord’s Blessing upon this city, upon those who live in it, upon those who govern it and upon those who do their utmost to make it ever more worthy of God and of man. Thank you all and have a nice Sunday.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Homily at Mass in Mestre's San Giuliano Park
"See Everything and Everyone With God's Eyes, in the Light of His Love"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered May 8 during Mass at San Giuliano Park in Mestre, on the second day of his two-day pastoral visit to Aquileia and Venice.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am very glad to be with you today and to be celebrating this solemn Eucharist with you and for you. It is significant that the place chosen for this Liturgy should be San Giuliano Park: a place where religious rites are not usually celebrated but where cultural and musical events are held. Today this place is hosting the Risen Jesus, truly present in his word, in the assembly of the People of God with its Pastors and, eminently, in the Sacrament of his Body and of his Blood. I address my most cordial greeting to you, venerable bishops, with the priests and deacons, to you, men and women religious and lay people, with a special thought for the sick and the invalids present here, accompanied by the National Italian Union for the Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and International Shrines [UNITALSI]. Thank you for your warm welcome!

I greet with affection Cardinal Angelo Scola, the Patriarch. I thank him for his moving words to me at the beginning of holy Mass. I address a respectful thought to the Mayor, to the Minister for Cultural Assets and Activities who is representing the Government, to the Minister for Labour and Social Policies and to the civil and military Authorities who have wished to honour our meeting with their presence. I offer my heartfelt thanks to all those who have generously cooperated in the preparation of my Pastoral Visit and to ensure that it goes smoothly. I extend to you my heartfelt thanks.

The Gospel of the Third Sunday of Easter -- which we have just heard -- presents the episode of the disciples of Emmaus (cf. Lk 24:13-35), an account that never ceases to astonish and move us. This episode shows the effects that the Risen Jesus works in two disciples: conversion from despair to hope; conversion from sorrow to joy; and also conversion to community life. Sometimes, when we speak of conversion we think solely of its demanding aspect of detachment and renunciation. Christian conversion, on the contrary, is also and above all about joy, hope and love. It is always the work of the Risen Christ, the Lord of life who has obtained this grace for us through his Passion and communicates it to us by virtue of his Resurrection.

Dear brothers and sisters, I have come among you as Bishop of Rome and perpetuator of Peter’s ministry, to strengthen you in faithfulness to the Gospel and in communion. I have come to share with the bishops and priests their concern for missionary proclamation, which must involve us all in a serious and well-coordinated service to the cause of the Kingdom of God. You, who are present here today, represent the ecclesial communities that were born from the mother Church of Aquileia. Just as in the past when those Churches were distinguished for their apostolic fervour and their pastoral dynamism, so today too it is necessary to promote and courageously defend the truth and unity of the faith. It is necessary to account for Christian hope to modern men and women who are often overcome by immense and troubling problems that plunge the very foundations of their being and action into crisis.

You are living in a context in which Christianity is presented as the faith which has accompanied the journey of many peoples down the ages even through persecutions and harsh trials. The many testimonies that have spread everywhere are an eloquent expression of this faith: churches, works of art, hospitals, libraries and schools; the actual environment of your cities, of the countryside and the mountains, is everywhere spangled with references to Christ. Yet today this existence of Christ risks being emptied of its truth and of its deepest content; it risks becoming a horizon that only superficially -- and rather, in its social and cultural aspects -- embraces life; it risks being reduced to a Christianity in which the experience of faith in the Crucified and Risen Jesus fails to illuminate the journey of life, as we have heard in today’s Gospel concerning the two disciples of Emmaus, who after the crucifixion of Jesus were going home immersed in doubt, sadness and disappointment. Unfortunately such an attitude is beginning to spread in your region too. This happens when today’s disciples drift away from the Jerusalem of the Crucified and Risen One, no longer believing in the power and in the living presence of the Lord. The problem of evil, sorrow and suffering, the problem of injustice and abuse, fear of others, of strangers and foreigners who come to our lands and seem to attack what we are, prompt Christians today to say sadly: we hoped that the Lord would deliver us from evil, from sorrow, from suffering, from fear, from injustice.

It is thus necessary for each and every one of us to let ourselves be taught by Jesus, as the two disciples of Emmaus were: first of all by listening to and loving the word of God read in the light of the Paschal Mystery, so that it may warm our hearts and illumine our minds helping us to interpret the events of life and give them meaning. Then it is necessary to sit at table with the Lord, to share the banquet with him, so that his humble presence in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood may restore to us the gaze of faith, in order to see everything and everyone with God’s eyes, in the light of his love. Staying with Jesus who has stayed with us, assimilating his lifestyle, choosing with him the logic of communion with each other, of solidarity and of sharing. The Eucharist is the maximum expression of the gift which Jesus makes of himself and is a constant invitation to live our lives in the Eucharistic logic, as a gift to God and to others.

The Gospel also mentions that after recognizing Jesus in the breaking of the bread, the two disciples “rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem” (Lk 24:33). They felt the need to return to Jerusalem and to tell of their extraordinary experience: the encounter with the Risen Lord. A great effort must be made so that every Christian, here in the North East [of Italy] as in every other part of the world, may be transformed into a witness, ready to proclaim vigorously and joyfully the event of Christ’s death and Resurrection.

I know the care which, as the Triveneto Churches, you devote to seeking to understand the reasons of the modern man’s heart and that, referring to the ancient Christian traditions, you are concerned to outline a programme for the new evangelization, looking attentively at the numerous challenges of the present time and rethinking the future of this region. With my presence I would like to support your work and to imbue everyone with trust in the full pastoral programme initiated by your pastors, hoping for a fruitful commitment on the part of all members of the ecclesial community.

Even a traditionally Catholic people can feel negatively or assimilate almost unconsciously the repercussions of a culture that ends by insinuating a mentality in which the Gospel message is openly rejected or subtly hindered. I know that you have made and are making a considerable effort to defend the eternal values of the Christian faith. I encourage you never to give in to the recurring temptations of the hedonistic culture and to the appeal of materialistic consumerism. Accept the invitation of the Apostle Peter, contained in today’s Second Reading, to conduct yourselves “with fear throughout the time of your exile” here below (1 Pt 1:17); an invitation that is put into practice by living intensely on the thoroughfares of our world in the awareness of the destination to be reached: unity with God, in the Crucified and Risen Christ.

In fact, our faith and our hope are addressed to God (cf. 1 Pt 1:21): they are addressed to God because they are rooted in him, founded on his love and on his fidelity. In past centuries, your Churches knew a rich tradition of holiness and of generous service to the brethren, thanks to the work of zealous priests and men and women religious of both active and contemplative life. If we wish to listen to their spiritual teaching it is not difficult for us to recognize the personal and unmistakable appeal that they address to us: Be holy! Make Christ the centre of your lives! Build the edifice of your existence on him! In Jesus you will find the strength to open yourselves to others and to make yourselves, after his example, a gift for the whole of humanity.

Around Aquileia people of different languages and cultures were to be found united. They were brought together not only by political needs but especially by faith in Christ and by the civilization of Love, inspired by the teaching of the Gospel. Today the Churches founded by Aquileia are called to strengthen that ancient spiritual unity, in particular in the light of the phenomenon of immigration and the new geographical and political circumstances that are coming into existence. The Christian faith can certainly contribute to the practicality of such a programme, which concerns the harmonious and integral development of the human being and of the society in which he or she lives. My presence among you is therefore intended to be a strong support in the efforts made to foster solidarity among your North-Eastern dioceses. Further, it is intended to encourage every project, striving to overcome those divisions which might thwart concrete aspirations to justice and peace.

This, brothers and sisters, is my hope, this is the prayer that I raise to God for all of you, as I invoke the heavenly intercession of the Virgin Mary and of the many Saints and Blesseds among whom I would like to recall St Pius X and Bl. John XXIII and also Venerable Giuseppe Toniolo, whose Beatification is now at hand. These luminous Gospel witnesses are the greatest treasure of your region; follow their example and their teaching, combining it with the needs of the present day. Be confident: the Risen Lord is walking with you, yesterday, today and for ever. Amen.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address to World of Culture in Venice
"The Glory of God Is the Full Health of Man"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered May 8 at a meeting with representatives of the world of culture and of the economy at the Basilica of St. Mary of Health in Venice, at the close of his two-day pastoral visit to Aquileia and Venice.

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Dear Friends,

I am glad to greet you cordially as representatives of the worlds of culture, art and the economy of Venice and its territory. I thank you for coming and for your warmth. I express my gratitude to the Patriarch and to the Rector who, on behalf of the Studium Generale Marcianum, has conveyed your feelings and introduced our meeting, the last on my busy schedule which began yesterday in Aquileia. I would like to leave you several very concise ideas, which I hope will be useful to you for reflection and for your common commitment. I have drawn these ideas from three words which are evocative metaphors: three words linked to Venice and, in particular, to the place in which we are now: the first word is aqua [water], the second is Salute [health/salvation], the third is Serenissima [most serene].

Let us begin with water, as would appear logical in many respects. Water is an ambivalent symbol: of life, but also of death; as the peoples hit by flooding and seaquakes know well. But water is first and foremost an element essential to life. Venice is called the "City of Water". And for you who live in Venice this condition is a double sign, both negative and positive. It entails much hardship and at the same time an extraordinary fascination. Venice being a "city of water" makes me think of a famous contemporary sociologist who has described our society as "liquid", and thus the European culture: to express its "fluidity", its scant or perhaps lack of stability, its changeableness, the inconsistence which at times seems to characterize it. And here I would like to insert the first proposition: Venice, not as a "liquid" city -- in the sense just mentioned -- but as a city "of life and of beauty". Of course, this is a choice but in history it is necessary to choose: men and women are free to interpret, to give a meaning to reality, and it is in this freedom itself that the great dignity of the human being consists.

In the context of a city, any city, the administrative, cultural and economic decisions depend, basically, on this fundamental orientation, which we may call "political" in the most noble, the loftiest sense of the term. It is a question of choosing between a "liquid" city, the homeland of a culture that appears ever more relative and transient, and a city that is constantly renewing its beauty by drawing on the beneficial sources of art, of knowledge and of the relations between people and peoples.

We come to the second word: "Salute". We find ourselves at the "Polo della Salute" [the pole of health]: a new reality which nevertheless has ancient roots. Here, on the Punta della Dogana [Customs], one of the most famous of Venice’s churches stands. It is a work of Longhena, built as a vow to Our Lady for liberation from the plague of 1630: Santa Maria della Salute. Beside it the famous architect built the Convent of the Somascans, which subsequently became the Patriarchal Seminary. "Unde origo, inde salus", reads the motto carved in the centre of the largest roundel in the Basilica, a phrase that indicates how closely linked to the Mother of God is the origin of the City of Venice which tradition claims was founded on 25 March 421, the day of the Annunciation. And it was through Mary’s intercession that health came, salvation from the plague. Yet reflecting on this motto we can also grasp another even deeper and broader meaning. From the Virgin of Nazareth came the One who gives us "salvation". "Salute" is an all-encompassing, integral reality: it extends from "being well" which enables us to live serenely a day of study and work or of vacation, to the salus animae, on which our eternal destiny depends. God takes care of all this, excluding nothing. He takes care of our health in the full sense. Jesus demonstrates this in the Gospel: he healed the sick, suffering from every kind of illness, but he also freed those possessed by the devil. He forgave sins; he resurrected the dead. Jesus revealed that God loves life and wants to deliver it from every denial, even to the point of rescuing it from that radical denial which is spiritual evil, sin, a poisonous root that contaminates all things.

For this reason Jesus himself can be called man’s "Salvation": Salus nostra Dominus Jesus. Jesus saves man by placing him once again in the salutary relationship with the Father in the grace of the Holy Spirit; immerses him in this pure and life-giving current which frees him from his physical, psychological and spiritual "paralyses"; heals him from hardness of heart and enables him to savour the possibility of truly finding himself, by losing himself for love of God and neighbour.

Unde origo, inde salus. This motto calls to mind a wealth of references; I limit myself to recalling one of them, the famous words of St Irenaeus: "Gloria Dei vivens homo, vita autem hominis visio Dei [est]" (Adv. Haer. IV, 20, 7) -- which could be paraphrased: the glory of God is the full health of man and this consists in being in a profound relationship with God. We can also say it in terms dear to the new Blessed, John Paul ii: man is the way of the Church and the Redeemer of man is Christ.

Lastly the third word: "Serenissima", the name of the Venetian Republic. This is a truly marvellous title, one might say utopian, in comparison with earthly reality; yet it is able to evoke not only the memories of past glories but also the driving ideals in the planning of today and of the future in this great region. In the full sense only the heavenly city is "most serene" the new Jerusalem, which appears at the end of the Bible, in the Book of Revelation, as a marvellous vision (cf. Rev 21:1-22:5).

Yet Christianity conceives of this holy City, completely transfigured by God’s glory, as a destination that moves human hearts and spurs them onwards, that enlivens their demanding and patient work to improve the earthly city. What the Second Vatican Council says about this should always be remembered: "it profits man nothing if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself. Far from diminishing our concern to develop this earth, the expectancy of a new earth should spur us on, for it is here that the body of a new human family grows, foreshadowing in some way the age which is to come" (Pastoral Costitution on the Church in the Modern World, Gaudium et Spes, n. 39).

We listen to these words in an epoch when the power of ideological utopias is exhausted and not only is optimism obscured but hope is also in crisis. We must not, therefore, forget that the Council Fathers who left us this teaching lived in the period of the two World Wars and totalitarianism. Their perspective was certainly not dictated by an easy optimism, but by Christian faith which enlivens hope at the same time great and patient, open to the future and attentive to the historical situations. In this same perspective the name "Most Serene" speaks to us of a civilization of peace founded on mutual respect, on reciprocal knowledge, on friendly relations.

Venice has a long history and a rich human, spiritual and artistic patrimony in order to be capable, today too, of making a precious contribution to helping people believe in a better future and in committing themselves to building it. However for this reason it must not be afraid of another symbolic element, contained in the coat of arms of San Marco: the Gospel. The Gospel is the greatest power for transformation in the world, but it is neither a utopia nor an ideology. The first Christian generations called it rather the "way", that is, the way of living that Christ practised first and invites us to follow.

The "Most Serene" city may be reached in this way, which is the way of charity in truth, knowing well, as the Council again reminds us, that "this love is not something reserved for important matters, but must be exercised above all in the ordinary circumstances of daily life", and that following Christ’s example "we must carry the cross, which the flesh and the world inflict on the shoulders of all who seek after peace and justice" (n. 38).

These, dear friends are the ideas for reflection that I wished to share with you. It was a joy to me to end my Visit in your company. Once again I thank the Cardinal Patriarch, the Auxiliary Bishop and all the collaborators for their magnificent welcome. I greet the Jewish Community of Venice -- which has ancient roots and is an important presence in the fabric of the city -- with its President, Prof. Amos Luzzatto. And I also extend a thought to the Muslims who live in this city. From this most important place I address my cordial greeting to Venice, to the pilgrim Church here and to all the Dioceses of the Triveneto while I impart the Apostolic Blessing, as a pledge of my everlasting remembrance. Thank you for your attention.

© Copyright 2011 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana