Pope's Homily At Conclusion of Week of Prayer
"Unity is in itself a Privileged Instrument"
VATICAN CITY, January 28, 2013 - Here
is the translation of Pope Benedict XVI's Homily during the ecumenical
celebration of Vespers of the Solemnity of the Conversion of St. Paul
the Apostle. The occasion marked the end of the XLVI Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity on the theme: "What Does the Lord Require of Us" (Micah
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
It is always a joy and a special grace
to come together, around the tomb of the Apostle Paul, to conclude the
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I greet with affection the Cardinals
present, first of all Cardinal Harvey, Archpriest of this Basilica, and
with him the Abbot and the community of monks who are hosting us. I
greet Cardinal Koch, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity, and all the collaborators of this dicastery. I express
my cordial and fraternal greetings to His Eminence Metropolitan
Gennadios, representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch, to the Rev. Canon
Richardson, personal representative in Rome of the Archbishop of
Canterbury, and all the representatives of the different Churches and
ecclesial communities, gathered here this evening. In addition, I am
particularly pleased to greet the members of the Joint Commission for
Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Eastern
Orthodox Churches, to whom I wish a fruitful work for the plenary
session that is taking place these days in Rome, as well as students of
the Ecumenical Institute of Bossey, on a visit to Rome to deepen their
knowledge of the Catholic Church and the Orthodox and Eastern Orthodox
young people who study there. Lastly, I greet all those present gathered
to pray for the unity of all the disciples of Christ.
This celebration is part of the
Year of Faith, which began on 11 October, the fiftieth anniversary
of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. Communion in the same
faith is the basis for ecumenism. Unity is given by God as inseparable
from faith; St. Paul expresses this effectively: "There is one body and
one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling, one
Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above
all and through all and in all"(Eph. 4:4-6). The baptismal
profession of faith in God, the Father and Creator, who revealed himself
in his Son Jesus Christ, pouring out the Spirit who gives life and
holiness, already unites Christians. Without faith - which is primarily
a gift of God, but also man's response - the whole ecumenical movement
would be reduced to a form of "contract" to enter into out of a common
interest. The Second Vatican Council reminds Christians that "the closer
their union with the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, the more deeply
and easily will they be able to grow in mutual brotherly love"(Decr.
Unitatis redintegratio, 7). Doctrinal issues that still divide us
must not be overlooked or minimized. They should rather be faced with
courage, in a spirit of brotherhood and mutual respect. Dialogue, when
it reflects the priority of faith, can open to the action of God with
the firm conviction that we cannot build unity alone: it is the Holy
Spirit who guides us toward full communion, who allows us to grasp the
spiritual wealth present in the different Churches and ecclesial
In today's society it seems that the
Christian message affects personal and community life less and less, and
this represents a challenge for all the Churches and ecclesial
communities. Unity is in itself a privileged instrument, almost a
prerequisite to announcing the faith in an ever more credible way to
those who do not yet know the Saviour, or who, having received the
proclamation of the Gospel, have almost forgotten this precious gift.
The scandal of division that undermined missionary activity was the
impulse that started the ecumenical movement that we know today. Full
and visible communion among Christians is to be understood as a
fundamental characteristic of an even clearer witness. While we are on
the path towards full unity, it is necessary to pursue concrete
cooperation among the disciples of Christ for the sake of passing on the
faith to the contemporary world. Today there is a great need for
reconciliation, dialogue and mutual understanding, not in a moralistic
perspective, but in the name of Christian authenticity for a more
incisive presence in the reality of our time.
True faith in God is inseparable from
personal holiness, as well as from the pursuit of justice. In the Week
of Prayer for Christian Unity, which ends today, the theme offered for
our meditation was, "What Does the Lord Requires of Us," inspired by the
words of the prophet Micah, which we have heard (cf. 6:6-8). It was
proposed by the Student Christian Movement in India, in collaboration
with the All India Catholic University Federation and the National
Council of Churches in India, who also prepared the aids for reflection
and prayer. To those who have collaborated, I want to express my deep
gratitude and, with great affection, I assure you of my prayers for all
the Christians of India, who sometimes are called to bear witness to
their faith in difficult conditions. "Walking humbly with God" (cf.
Micah 6:8) above all means walking in radical faith, like Abraham,
trusting in God, or rather placing in Him all our hopes and aspirations,
but it also means walking past the barriers, past hatred, racism and
social and religious discrimination that divide and harm society as a
whole. As St. Paul says, Christians must first provide a shining example
in their search for reconciliation and communion in Christ, that
overcomes every kind of division. In the Letter to the Galatians,
the Apostle of the Gentiles says, "As many of you as were baptized into
Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is no longer Jew or
Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and
female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus"(3:27-28).
Our search for unity in truth and in
love, then, must never lose sight of the perception that Christian unity
is the work and gift of the Holy Spirit, and goes far beyond our own
efforts. Therefore, spiritual ecumenism, especially prayer, is the heart
of ecumenical commitment (cf. Decr. Unitatis redintegratio, 8).
However, ecumenism will not bear lasting fruit unless it is accompanied
by concrete gestures of conversion that move consciences and foster the
healing of memories and relationships. As stated in the Decree on
Ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, "there is no true ecumenism
without interior conversion" (no. 7). Authentic conversion, as suggested
by the prophet Micah and of which the Apostle Paul is a significant
example, will bring us closer to God, to the center of our lives, in
such a way as to draw us also closer to each other. This is a key
element of our ecumenical commitment. The renewal of the inner life of
our heart and our mind, which is reflected in everyday life, is crucial
in any process of reconciliation and dialogue, making of ecumenism a
mutual commitment to understanding, respect and love, "so that the world
may believe" (Jn 17:21).
Dear brothers and sisters, let us
invoke the Virgin Mary with confidence, the incomparable model of
evangelization, so that the Church, "a sign and instrument of intimate
union with God and of unity among all men" (Const. Lumen Gentium,
1), may announce with all frankness, even in our time, Christ the Savior.
Papal Address to Orthodox-Catholic Commission
"All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance
VATICAN CITY, January 25, 2013 - Here
is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the
Joint International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the
Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches
* * *
Dear Brothers in Christ,
It is with joy in the Lord that I
welcome you, the members of the Joint International Commission for
Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental
Orthodox Churches. Through you I extend fraternal greetings to the heads
of all the Oriental Orthodox Churches. In a particular way I greet His
Eminence Anba Bishoy, Co-President of the Commission, and I thank him
for his kind words.
Before all else I would like to recall
with appreciation the memory of His Holiness Shenouda III, Pope of
Alexandria and Patriarch of the See of Saint Mark, who died recently. I
also remember with gratitude His Holiness Abuna Paulos, Patriarch of the
Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church, who last year hosted the Ninth
Meeting of the International Joint Commission for Theological Dialogue
in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I was saddened, too, to learn of the death of
the Most Reverend Jules Mikhael Al-Jamil, Titular Archbishop of Takrit
and Procurator of the Syrian Catholic Patriarchate in Rome and a member
of your Commission. I join you in prayer for the eternal rest of these
dedicated servants of the Lord.
Our meeting today affords us an
opportunity to reflect together with gratitude on the work of the
International Joint Commission, which began ten years ago, in January
2003, as a initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the
Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity. In the past decade the Commission has examined from an
historical perspective the various ways in which the Churches expressed
their communion in the early centuries. During this week devoted to
prayer for the unity of all Christ’s followers, you have met to explore
more fully the communion and communication which existed between the
Churches in the first five centuries of Christian history. In
acknowledging the progress which has been made, I express my hope that
relations between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches
will continue to develop in a fraternal spirit of cooperation,
particularly through the growth of a theological dialogue capable of
helping all the Lord’s followers to grow in communion and to bear
witness before the world to the saving truth of the Gospel.
Many of you come from areas where Christians, as individuals and
communities, face painful trials and difficulties which are a source of
deep concern to us all. Through you, I would like to assure all the
faithful of the Middle East of my spiritual closeness and my prayer that
this land, so important in God’s plan of salvation, may be led, through
constructive dialogue and cooperation, to a future of justice and
lasting peace. All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance
and trust in serving the cause of peace and justice in fidelity to the
Lord’s will. May the example and intercession of the countless martyrs
and saints who down the ages have borne courageous witness to Christ in
all our Churches, sustain and strengthen all of us in meeting the
challenges of the present with confidence and hope in the future which
the Lord is opening before us. Upon you, and upon all those associated
with the work of the Commission, I cordially invoke a fresh outpouring
of the Holy Spirit’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace. Thank you for your
Pope's Message to Jewish Community of
"I Send a Heartfelt Greeting of Peace and
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 20, 2012 (Zenit.org).-
Here is a translation of the telegram that Pope Benedict XVI sent to Dr.
Riccardo Di Segni, Chief Rabbi of Rome, on the occasion of the Jewish High
Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah , Yom Kippur and Sukkot.
* * *
Most Illustrious Dr. Riccardo Di Segni
Chief Rabbi of Rome
Jewish Community of Rome - High Temple
Lungotevere Cenci – 00186 Rome
On the joyful occasion of Rosh Hashanah
5773 and Yom Kippur and Sukkot, I send a heartfelt greeting of peace and
well-being to you and the whole Jewish community of Rome, invoking from the
Most High, copious blessings for the new year and hoping that Jews and
Christians, growing in mutual esteem and friendship, will be able to witness
in the world the values that spring from the adoration of the One God.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Pope’s Message Following Death of His
Holiness, Abuna Paulos
ROME, AUG. 17, 2012 - Here is the telegram
sent by Pope Benedict XVI to members of the Holy Synod upon hearing of the
passing of His Holiness, Abuna Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo
* * *
Having learned with sadness of the death
of His Holiness Abuna Paulos, Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox
Church, I wish to express my heartfelt condolences to the members of the
Holy Synod, and to the clergy, religious and faithful of the patriarchate.
I still recall with satisfaction his
visits to the Vatican, and in particular the address he delivered to the
Second Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops on October 6,
2009 and the important observations he made on that occasion.
I am also grateful for his commitment to
promoting greater unity through dialogue and cooperation between the
Ethiopian Tewahedo Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.
As the Patriarchate mourns the death of
His Holiness, I willingly offer an assurance of my prayers for the repose of
his soul, and for all who mourn him.
Papal Address to
Delegation from the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople
"We Wish to Praise the Lord For the Rediscovery of the Profound Fraternity
That Binds Us"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2012 .- Here is the translation of the Holy Father’s
address to the Members of the Delegation of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of
Constantinople, who arrived in Rome, as is tradition, on the occasion of the
Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul.
* * *
“O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together!” (Psalm
Dear Brothers in Christ,
On this joyful occasion of the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, patrons of
the City and of the Church of Rome, I am particularly pleased to receive you
with the words of the Psalm which will be sung in the solemn Eucharistic
liturgy in honor of these two great Apostles and Martyrs. Expressing to you
a warm welcome, I ask you to refer to His Holiness Bartholomew I and to the
Holy Synod my sentiments of fraternal affection and heartfelt gratitude for
having sent this year, worthy representatives to take part in this
celebration of ours, and to give a cordial greeting to the clergy, to the
monks and to all the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
Your presence here in Rome, on the occasion of the liturgical feast of
Saints Peter and Paul, gives us a special opportunity to raise our song of
praise for the wonders that divine grace, from which every good comes,
accomplished in the life of the two Apostles, rendering them worthy of
entering triumphantly into heavenly glory, after having passed by the
regenerating cleansing of martyrdom. Moreover, the feast of Saints Peter and
Paul gives us the possibility to thank the Lord together for the
extraordinary works that He has accomplished and continues to accomplish,
through the Apostles, in the life of the Church. It is their preaching,
sealed with the testimony of martyrdom, the firm and perennial foundation on
which the Church is built, and it is in the fidelity to the deposit of the
faith transmitted by them, that we find the roots of the communion we
already experience among us.
Venerable brothers, in our meeting today, while we entrust to the
intercession of the glorious Apostles and Martyrs Peter and Paul our prayer,
so that the Lord, rich in mercy, will grant us to arrive soon the blessed
day in which we will be able to share the Eucharistic table, we raise our
voices in a hymn of praise to God for the path of peace and reconciliation
that He gives us to follow together. This year marks the 50th anniversary of
the opening of the Vatican II Ecumenical Council, which will be celebrated
solemnly next October 11. It is in fact in concomitance with this Council,
at which, as you well know, some representatives of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate were present in the capacity of fraternal Delegates, that a new
and important phase began of relations between our Churches. We wish to
praise the Lord first of all for the rediscovery of the profound fraternity
that binds us, and also for the path followed in these years by the Mixed
International Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic
Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole, with the hope that in the present
phase progress will also be made.
Recalling the anniversary of Vatican Council II, it seems fitting to me to
recall the figure and activity of the unforgettable Ecumenical Patriarch
Athenagoras, of whom will be observed in a few days the 40th anniversary of
his death. Patriarch Athenagoras, together with Blessed Pope John XXIII and
the Servant of God Paul VI, animated by that passion for the unity of the
Church springing from faith in Christ the Lord, were promoters of courageous
initiatives that opened the way to renew relations between the Ecumenical
Patriarchate and the Catholic Church. It is a motive of particular joy for
me to see how His Holiness Bartholomew I follows, with renewed fidelity and
fecund creativity, the path traced by his Predecessors the Patriarchs
Athenagoras and Dimitrios, distinguishing himself at the international level
for his openness to the dialogue between Christians and for his commitment
to the service of proclaiming the Gospel in the contemporary world.
Eminence, dear members of the Delegation, thank you once again for your
presence here in our midst. I assure you of my prayer that the Lord may
grant health and strength to His Holiness Bartholomew I and that He may give
prosperity and peace to the Ecumenical Patriarchate. May God Almighty give
us the gift of an ever fuller communion according to His will, so that “with
one heart and soul” (Acts 4:32) we will always be able to exalt His name.
Pope's Address to Latin
American Jewish Congress
"It is cause for thanksgiving that we are committed to walking together the
path of dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 10, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address
Benedict XVI gave today to the Latin American Jewish Congress.
* * *
Dear Jewish friends,
I am very pleased to welcome this delegation of the Latin American Jewish
Congress. Our meeting is a particularly significant one, since you are the
first group representing Jewish organizations and communities in Latin
America which I have met here in the Vatican. Throughout Latin America there
are vibrant Jewish communities, especially in Argentina and Brazil, which
live side by side with a great majority of Catholics. In the years since the
Second Vatican Council, relations between Jews and Catholics have been
strengthened also in your region, and various initiatives continue to deepen
our mutual friendship.
As you know, this October marks the fiftieth anniversary of the beginning of
the Second Vatican Council, whose Declaration Nostra Aetate remains the
charter and guide in our efforts to promote greater understanding, respect
and cooperation between our two communities. The Declaration not only took
up an unambiguous position against every form of anti-Semitism; it also laid
the groundwork for a theological reassessment of the Church’s relationship
with Judaism and it expressed confidence that an appreciation of the
spiritual heritage shared by Jews and Christians would lead to ever greater
mutual understanding and esteem (No. 4).
As we consider the progress which has been made over the past fifty years in
Jewish-Catholic relations throughout the world, we can only give thanks to
the Almighty for this evident sign of his goodness and providence. With the
growth of trust, respect and good will, groups which initially approached
one another with some hesitation have step by step become reliable partners
and even good friends, capable of coping with crises together and overcoming
conflicts positively. Certainly, much remains to be done in overcoming the
burdens of the past, fostering better relations between our two communities,
and meeting the challenges which believers increasingly face in today’s
world. Yet it is cause for thanksgiving that we are committed to walking
together the path of dialogue, reconciliation and cooperation.
Dear friends, in a world which is increasingly threatened by the loss of the
spiritual and moral values which alone can guarantee respect for human
dignity and lasting peace, a sincere and respectful dialogue between
religions and cultures is crucial for the future of our human family. It is
my hope that our visit today will be a source of encouragement and renewed
hope in taking up the challenge of building ever stronger bonds of
friendship and cooperation, and in bearing prophetic witness to the power of
God’s truth, justice and reconciling love, for the welfare of all mankind.
With these sentiments, dear friends, I ask the Thrice-Holy to bless you and
your families with every spiritual gift and to guide your steps in the way
Pope's Homily at Visit
From Anglican Primate
Celebrating the birthplace of the link between Christianity in Britain and
the Church of Rome
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2012 - Here is a non-official Vatican translation of
Benedict XVI's homily from Saturday when he presided at Vespers in the Roman
monastery of San Gregorio al Celio, in a ceremony marking the thousandth
anniversary of the foundation of the mother house of the Camaldolese Order
of St. Benedict, the Feast of the Transit of St, Gregory, and the visit to
Rome of His Grace Rowan Williams, archbishop of Canterbury and primate of
the Anglican Communion.
* * *
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Monks and Nuns of Camaldoli,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It gives me great joy to be here today in this Basilica of San Gregorio al
Celio for Solemn Vespers on the liturgical commemoration of the death of
Saint Gregory the Great. With you, dear Brothers and Sisters of the
Camaldolese family, I thank God for the thousand years that have passed
since the foundation of the Sacred Hermitage of Camaldoli by Saint Romuald.
I am delighted to be joined on this occasion by His Grace Dr Rowan Williams,
Archbishop of Canterbury. To you, my dear Brother in Christ, and to each one
of you, dear monks and nuns, and to everyone present, I extend cordial
We have listened to two passages from Saint Paul. The first, taken from the
Second Letter to the Corinthians, is particularly appropriate for the
current liturgical season of Lent. It contains the Apostle’s exhortation to
seize the favourable moment for receiving God’s grace. The favourable moment
is naturally when Jesus Christ came to reveal and to bestow upon us the love
that God has for us, through his incarnation, passion, death and
resurrection. The "day of salvation" is the same reality that Saint Paul in
another place describes as the "fullness of time", the moment when God took
flesh and entered time in a completely unique way, filling it with his
grace. It is for us, then, to accept this gift, which is Jesus himself: his
person, his word, his Holy Spirit. Moreover, in the first reading, Saint
Paul tells us about himself and his apostolate – how he strives to remain
faithful to God in his ministry, so that it may be truly efficacious and may
not prove instead a barrier to faith. These words make us think of Saint
Gregory the Great, of the radiant witness that he offered the people of Rome
and the whole Church by a blameless ministry full of zeal for the Gospel.
Truly, what Saint Paul wrote of himself applies equally to Gregory: the
grace of God in him has not been fruitless (cf. 1 Cor 15:10). This, indeed,
is the secret for the lives of every one of us: to welcome God’s grace and
to consent with all our heart and all our strength to its action. This is
also the secret of true joy and profound peace.
The second reading was taken from the Letter to the Colossians. We heard
those words – always so moving for their spiritual and pastoral inspiration
– that the Apostle addressed to the members of that community in order to
form them according to the Gospel, saying to them: "whatever you do, in word
or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus" (Col 3:17). "Be
perfect", the Master said to his disciples; and now the Apostle exhorts his
listeners to live according to the high measure of Christian life that is
holiness. He can do this because the brothers he is addressing are "chosen
by God, holy and beloved". Here too, at the root of everything, is the grace
of God, the gift of the call, the mystery of the encounter with the living
Jesus. But this grace demands a response from those who have been baptized:
it requires the commitment to be reclothed in Christ’s sentiments:
tenderness, goodness, humility, meekness, magnanimity, mutual forgiveness,
and above all, as a synthesis and a crown, agape, the love that God has
given us through Jesus, the love that the Holy Spirit has poured into our
hearts. And if we are to be reclothed in Christ, his word must dwell among
us and in us, with all its richness and in abundance. In an atmosphere of
constant thanksgiving, the Christian community feeds on the word and causes
to rise towards God, as a song of praise, the word that he himself has given
us. And every action, every gesture, every service, is accomplished within
this profound relationship with God, in the interior movement of Trinitarian
love that descends towards us and rises back towards God, a movement that
finds its highest expression in the eucharistic sacrifice.
This word also sheds light upon the happy circumstances that bring us
together today, in the name of Saint Gregory the Great. Through the
faithfulness and benevolence of the Lord, the Congregation of Camaldolese
monks of the Order of Saint Benedict has completed a thousand years of
history, feeding daily on the word of God and the Eucharist, as their
founder Saint Romuald taught them, according to the triplex bonum of
solitude, community life and evangelization. Exemplary men and women of God,
such as Saint Peter Damian, Gratian – author of the Decretum – Saint Bruno
of Querfurt and the five brother martyrs, Rudolph I and II, Blessed
Gherardesca, Blessed Giovanna da Bagno and Blessed Paolo Giustiniani; men of
art and science like Brother Maurus the Cosmographer, Lorenzo Monaco,
Ambrogio Traversari, Pietro Delfino and Guido Grandi; illustrious historians
like the Camaldolese Annalists Giovanni Benedetto Mittarelli and Anselmo
Costadoni; zealous pastors of the Church, among whom Pope Gregory XVI stands
out, have revealed the horizons and the great fruitfulness of the
Every phase of the long history of the Camaldolese has produced faithful
witnesses of the Gospel, not only in the hidden life of silence and solitude
and in the common life shared with the brethren, but also in humble and
generous service towards others. Particularly fruitful was the hospitality
offered by Camaldolese guest-houses. In the days of Florentine humanism, the
walls of Camaldoli witnessed the famousdisputationes, in which great
humanists such as Marsilio Ficino and Cristoforo Landino took part. In the
turbulent years of the Second World War, those same cloisters were the
setting for the birth of the famous Codex of Camaldoli, one of the most
significant sources of the Constitution of the Italian Republic. Nor were
the years of the Second Vatican Council any less productive, for at that
time individuals of high calibre emerged among the Camaldolese, enriching
the Congregation and the Church and promoting new initiatives and new houses
in the United States of America, Tanzania, India and Brazil. In all this
activity, a guarantee of fruitfulness was the support of monks and nuns
praying constantly for the new foundations from the depths of their
"withdrawal from the world", lived at times to a heroic degree.
On 17 September 1993, during his meeting with the monks of the Sacred
Hermitage of Camaldoli, Blessed John Paul II commented on the theme of their
imminent General Chapter, "Choosing hope, choosing the future", with these
words: "Choosing hope and the future in the last analysis implies choosing
God ... It means choosing Christ, the hope of every human being." And he
continued, "This particularly occurs in that form of life which God himself
brought about in the Church, inspiring Saint Romuald to found the
Benedictine family of Camaldoli, with its characteristic complementarity of
hermitage and monastery, solitary life and cenobitic life in harmony with
each other." Moreover, my blessed Predecessor emphasized that "choosing God
also means humbly and patiently cultivating, according to God’s design,
ecumenical and interreligious dialogue", always on the basis of fidelity to
the original charism received from Saint Romuald and transmitted through a
thousand years of varied tradition.
Encouraged by the visit from the Successor of Peter, and by his words, all
of you Camaldolese monks and nuns have pursued your path, constantly seeking
the right balance between the eremitical and the cenobitic spirit, between
the need to dedicate yourselves totally to God in solitude, the need to
support one another in communal prayer, and the need to welcome others so
that they can draw upon the wellsprings of spiritual life and evaluate the
events of the world with a truly Gospel-formed conscience. In this way you
seek to attain that perfecta caritas that Saint Gregory the Great considered
the point of arrival of every manifestation of faith, a commitment that
finds confirmation in the motto of your coat of arms: "Ego Vobis, vos mihi",
a synthesis of the covenant formula between God and his people, and a source
of the perennial vitality of your charism.
The Monastery of San Gregorio al Celio is the Roman setting for our
celebration of the millennium of Camaldoli in company with His Grace the
Archbishop of Canterbury who, together with us, recognizes this Monastery as
the birthplace of the link between Christianity in Britain and the Church of
Rome. Today’s celebration is therefore marked by a profoundly ecumenical
character which, as we know, is part and parcel of the modern Camaldolese
spirit. This Roman Camaldolese Monastery has developed with Canterbury and
the Anglican Communion, especially since the Second Vatican Council, links
that now qualify as traditional. Today, for the third time, the Bishop of
Rome is meeting the Archbishop of Canterbury in the home of Saint Gregory
the Great. And it is right that it should be so, because it was from this
Monastery that Pope Gregory chose Augustine and his forty monks and sent
them to bring the Gospel to the Angles, a little over 1,400 years ago. The
constant presence of monks in this place, over such a long period, is
already in itself a testimony of God’s faithfulness to his Church, which we
are happy to be able to proclaim to the whole world. We hope that the sign
of our presence here together in front of the holy altar, where Gregory
himself celebrated the eucharistic sacrifice, will remain not only as a
reminder of our fraternal encounter, but also as a stimulus for all the
faithful – both Catholic and Anglican encouraging them, as they visit the
glorious tombs of the holy Apostles and Martyrs in Rome, to renew their
commitment to pray constantly and to work for unity, and to live fully in
accordance with the "ut unum sint" that Jesus addressed to the Father.
This profound desire, that we have the joy of sharing, we entrust to the
heavenly intercession of Saint Gregory the Great and Saint Romuald.
Pope's Address to
Conclude Week of Prayer for Unity
"Patient Waiting Does Not Entail Passivity" but a "Response to Every
Possibility of Communion"
ROME, JAN. 26, 2012 .- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave
Wednesday evening at Vespers on the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. The
celebration closed the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters!
It is with great joy that I address a warm greeting to all of you who are
gathered in this basilica on the liturgical fest of the Conversion of St.
Paul to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity in this year in
which we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council
II, which Blessed John XXIII announced here in this basilica on Jan. 25,
1959. The theme offered for our meditation during the Week of Prayer that we
are concluding today is: "We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our Lord
Jesus Christ" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
The meaning of this mysterious transformation, of which the second short
reading this evening speaks, is marvelously shown in the event of St. Paul.
Following the extraordinary happening on the road to Damascus, Saul, who
distinguished himself by the zeal with which he persecuted the young Church,
was transformed into an indefatigable apostle of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
In the event of this extraordinary evangelizer it is clear that such a
change is not the result of a long interior reflection nor the fruit of a
personal effort. It is first of all the work of the grace of God operating
in its inscrutable way. This is why Paul, writing to Corinth some years
after his conversion, states, as we heard in the first reading of these
vespers: "By the grace of God … I am what I am, and his grace in me has not
been ineffective" (1 Corinthians 15:10). Moreover, considering the event of
St. Paul we understand that the transformation that he experienced in his
existence was not limited to the ethical dimension -- as a conversion from
immorality to morality -- nor to the intellectual dimension -- as change in
his way of seeing reality -- but it is a matter rather of a radical renewal
in his own being, similar in many aspects to a rebirth. Such a
transformation has its foundation in the participation in the mystery of the
death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and it is delineated as a gradual
journey of conformation to Christ. In light of this awareness, St. Paul,
when he will later be called to defend the legitimacy of his apostolic
vocation and the Gospel that he proclaimed, will say: "It is no longer I who
live but Christ who lives in me. And this life that I live in the body I
live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself up for
me" (Galatians 2:20).
The personal experience lived by St. Paul allowed him to await with a
reasonable hope for the fulfillment of this mystery of transformation, which
will affect all those who have believed in Jesus Christ and all humanity and
the whole of creation as well. In the second short reading that was
proclaimed this evening, St. Paul, after having developed a long argument
aimed at reinforcing hope of the resurrection in the faithful, using the
traditional images of the contemporary apocalyptic literature, describes in
a few lines the great day of the final judgment in which the destiny of
humanity is met: "In an instant, the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of
the last trumpet ... the dead will rise uncorrupted and we will be
transformed" (1 Corinthians 15:52). On that day, all believers will be
conformed to Christ and all that is mortal will be transformed by his glory:
"It is necessary, in fact," says St. Paul, "that this corruptible body be
clothed in incorruptibility and that this mortal body be clothed in
immortality" (15:53). Then the triumph of Christ will finally be complete,
because, St. Paul continues, showing how the ancient prophecies of the
Scriptures will be realized, death will be definitively vanquished and, with
it, sin that brought death into the world and the Law that determines sin
without giving the power to overcome it: "Death has been swallowed up in
victory. Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?
Death is the sting of sin and the Law is the power of sin" (15:54-56). St.
Paul tells us, thus, that every man, through baptism in the death and
resurrection of Christ, participates in the victory of him who first
defeated death, opening a path of transformation that is manifested from
thence in a newness of life and that will reach its goal in the fullness of
It is quite significant that the passage concludes with a thanksgiving: "May
thanks be given to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus
Christ" (15:57). The canticle of victory over death becomes a canticle of
gratitude lifted up to the Victor. We too this evening, celebrating the
evening praises of God, would like to join our voices, our minds and our
hearts to this hymn of thanksgiving for what divine grace has worked in the
Apostle of the Gentiles and through the wondrous salvific design of God the
Father has accomplished in us through the Lord Jesus Christ. As we lift up
our prayer, we are confident that we too will be transformed and conformed
to Christ's image. This is particularly true for the prayer for the unity of
Christians. When we in fact implore the gift of unity of Christ's disciples,
we make our own the desire expressed by Jesus Christ in the prayer to the
Father on the eve of his passion and death: "that all may be one" (John
17:21). For this reason, the prayer for the unity of Christians is nothing
other than a participation in the realization of the divine plan for the
Church, and the active commitment to the re-establishment of unity is a duty
and a great responsibility for all.
Despite experiencing in our days the painful situation of division, we
Christians can and must look to the future with hope insofar as the victory
of Christ means the overcoming of all that prevents us from sharing the
fullness of life with him and with others. Jesus Christ's resurrection
confirms that the goodness of God defeats evil; love overcomes death. He
accompanies us in the struggle against the destructive force of sin that
damages humanity and the entire creation of God. The presence of the risen
Christ calls all of us Christians to act together in the cause of the good.
United to Christ we are called to share his mission, which is that of
bringing hope where injustice, hatred and desperation dominate. Our
divisions dim the luminousness of our witness to Christ. The goal of
complete unity that we await in active hope and that we pray for with
confidence, is not a secondary victory but has importance for the good of
the human family.
In today's dominant culture the idea of victory is often associated with an
immediate success. In the Christian perspective, however, victory is a long
-- and in the eyes of us men -- not an always linear process of
transformation and growth in the good. It happens in God's timeframes, not
ours, and it demands of us a profound faith and patient perseverance. If it
is true that the Kingdom of God definitively irrupts in history in the
resurrection of Jesus, it is still not fully realized. The final victory
will happen only with the Lord's second coming, which we await with patient
hope. Even our expectation of the Church's visible unity must be patient and
confident. Our daily prayer and efforts for the unity of Christians have
their meaning only in such a disposition. The attitude of patient waiting
does not entail passivity or resignation but a prompt and attentive response
to every possibility of communion and fraternity that the Lord grants us.
In this spiritual climate I would like to offer some special greetings, in
the first place to Cardinal Monterisi, archpriest of this basilica, to the
abbot and the community of Benedictine monks who host us. I greet Cardinal
Koch, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and
to all the members of this dicastery. I offer my cordial and fraternal
greetings to his Eminence the Metropolitan Gennadios, representative of the
Ecumenical Patriarch, and the Reverend Canon Richardson, personal
representative in Rome of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and to all the
representatives of the various Churches and ecclesial Communities gathered
here this evening.
I entrust to the intercession of St. Paul all of those who with their prayer
and their work commit themselves to the cause of the unity of Christians.
Even if we can at times have the impression that the road toward complete
re-establishment of communion is still very long and full of obstacles, I
invite everyone to renew their determination to continue, with courage and
generosity, the unity willed by God, following St. Paul's example, who, in
the face of difficulties of every sort always maintained firm confidence in
God, who brings his work to completion. After all, along this journey there
are not lacking positive signs of a rediscovered fraternity and of a shared
sense of responsibility before the great problems that afflict humanity. All
of this is reason for joy and great hope and must encourage us to continue
our commitment to arrive together at the final goal, knowing that our toil
is not in vain in the Lord (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:58). Amen.
On the Week of Prayer
for Christian Unity
"The Unity for Which We Pray Requires Interior Conversion, Both Communal and
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2012.- Here is a translation of the Italian-language
catechesis Benedict XVI gave today during the general audience held in Paul
VI Hall. The Pope reflected on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters,
Today marks the beginning of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which
for more than a century has been celebrated by Christians of all Churches
and ecclesial Communities, in order to invoke that extraordinary gift for
which the Lord Jesus Himself prayed during the Last Supper, before His
Passion: "that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I
in thee, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that
thou hast sent me" (John 17:21). The practice of the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity was introduced in 1908 by Father Paul Wattson, founder of an
Anglican religious community that subsequently entered the Catholic Church.
The initiative received the blessing of Pope St. Pius X and was then
promoted by Pope Benedict XV, who encouraged its celebration throughout the
Church with the Brief, Romanorum Pontificum, promulgated Feb. 25, 1916.
The octave of prayer was developed and perfected in the 1930s by Abbé Paul
Couturier of Lyon, who promoted prayer "for the unity of the Church as
Christ wills, and in accordance with the instruments He wills." In his later
writings, Abbé Couturier sees this Week as a way of allowing the prayer of
Christ to "enter into and penetrate the entire Christian Body"; it must grow
until it becomes "an immense, unanimous cry of the whole People of God" who
ask God for this great gift. And it is precisely during the Week of
Christian Unity that the impetus given by the Second Vatican Council toward
seeking full communion among all of Christ’s disciples each year finds one
of its most forceful expressions. This spiritual gathering, which unites
Christians of all traditions, increases our awareness of the fact that the
unity to which we tend will not be the result of our efforts alone, but will
rather be a gift received from above, a gift for which we must constantly
Each year, the booklets for the Week of Prayer are prepared by an ecumenical
group from a different region of the world. I would like to pause to
consider this point. This year, the texts were proposed by a mixed group
comprised of representatives of the Catholic Church and of the Polish
Ecumenical Council, which includes the country’s various Churches and
ecclesial Communities. The documentation was then reviewed by a committee
made up of members of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian
Unity and of the Faith and Order Commission of the Council of Churches. This
work, carried out together in two stages, is also a sign of the desire for
unity that animates Christians, and of the awareness that prayer is the
primary way of attaining full communion, since it is in being united with
the Lord that we move toward unity.
The theme of the Week this year -- as we heard -- is taken from the First
Letter to the Corinthians: “We Will All Be Changed By the Victory of Our
Lord Jesus Christ” -- His victory will transform us. And this theme was
suggested by the large ecumenical Polish group I just mentioned, which -- in
reflecting on their own experience as a nation -- wanted to underscore how
strong a support the Christian faith is in the midst of trial and upheaval,
like those that have characterized Poland’s history. After ample discussion,
a theme was chosen that focuses on the transforming power of faith in
Christ, particularly in light of the importance it has for our prayer for
the visible unity of Christ’s Body, the Church. This reflection was inspired
by the words of St. Paul who, addressing himself to the Church of Corinth,
speaks about the perishable nature of what belongs to our present life --
which is also marked by the experience of the “defeat” that comes from sin
and death -- compared to what brings us Christ’s victory over sin and death
in His paschal mystery.
The particular history of the Polish nation, which knew times of democratic
coexistence and of religious liberty -- as in the 16th century -- has been
marked in recent centuries by invasions and defeat, but also by the constant
struggle against oppression and by the thirst for freedom. All of this led
the ecumenical group to reflect more deeply on the true meaning of "victory"
-- what victory is -- and "defeat." Compared with "victory" understood in
triumphalistic terms, Christ suggests to us a very different path that does
not pass by way of force and power. In fact, He affirms: “If anyone would be
first, he must be last of all and servant of all” (Mark 9:35). Christ speaks
of a victory through suffering love, through mutual service, help, new hope
and concrete comfort given to the least, to the forgotten, to those who are
rejected. For all Christians, the highest expression of this humble service
is Jesus Christ Himself -- the total gift He makes of Himself, the victory
of His love over death on the Cross, which shines resplendent in the light
of Easter morning.
We can take part in this transforming “victory” if we allow ourselves to be
transformed by God -- but only if we work for the conversion of our lives,
and if this transformation leads to conversion. This is the reason why the
Polish ecumenical group considered particularly fitting for their own
reflection the words of St. Paul: “We will all be changed by the victory of
Christ, Our Lord” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
The full and visible unity of Christians for which we long demands that we
allow ourselves to be ever more perfectly transformed and conformed to the
image of Christ. The unity for which we pray requires interior conversion,
both communal and personal. It is not simply a matter of kindness and
cooperation; above all, we must strengthen our faith in God, in the God of
Jesus Christ, who has spoken to us and who made Himself one of us; we must
enter into new life in Christ, which is our true and definitive victory; we
must open ourselves to one another, cultivating all the elements of that
unity that God has preserved for us and gives to us ever anew; we must feel
the urgency of bearing witness before the men of our times to the living
God, who made Himself known in Christ.
The Second Vatican Council put the ecumenical pursuit at the center of the
Church’s life and work: “The Sacred Council exhorts all the Catholic
faithful to recognize the signs of the times and to take an active and
intelligent part in the work of ecumenism” (Unitatis redintegratio, 4).
Blessed John Paul II stressed the essential nature of this commitment,
saying: “This unity, which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which
he wishes to embrace all people, is not something added on, but stands at
the very heart of Christ’s mission. Nor is it some secondary attribute of
the community of his disciples. Rather, it belongs to the very essence of
this community (Ut unum sint, 9). The ecumenical task is therefore a
responsibility of the whole Church and of all the baptized, who must make
the partial, already existing communion between Christians grow into full
communion in truth and charity. Therefore, prayer for unity is not limited
to this Week of Prayer but rather must become an integral part of our
prayer, of the life of prayer of all Christians, in every place and in every
time, especially when people of different traditions meet and work together
for the victory, in Christ, over all that is sin, evil, injustice, and that
violates human dignity.
From the time the modern ecumenical movement was born over a century ago,
there has always been a clear recognition of the fact that the lack of unity
among Christians prevents the Gospel from being proclaimed more effectively,
because it jeopardizes our credibility. How can we give a convincing witness
if we are divided? Certainly, as regards the fundamental truths of the
faith, much more unites us than divides us. But divisions remain, and they
concern even various practical and ethical questions -- causing confusion
and distrust, and weakening our ability to hand on Christ’s saving Word. In
this regard, we do well to remember the words of Blessed John Paul II, who
in the Encyclical Ut unum sint, speaks of the damage caused to Christian
witness and to the proclamation of the Gospel by the lack of unity (cf. no.
98,99). This is a great challenge for the new evangelization, which can be
more fruitful if all Christians together announce the truth of the Gospel of
Jesus Christ and give a common response to the spiritual thirst of our
The Church's journey, like that of all peoples, is in the hands of the Risen
Christ, who is victorious over the death and injustice that He bore and
suffered on behalf of all mankind. He makes us sharers in His victory. Only
He is capable of transforming us and changing us -- from being weak and
hesitant -- to being strong and courageous in working for good. Only He can
save us from the negative consequences of our divisions. Dear brothers and
sisters, I invite everyone to be more intensely united in prayer during this
Week for Unity, so that common witness, solidarity and collaboration may
grow among Christians, as we await the glorious day when together we may
profess the faith handed down by the Apostles, and together celebrate the
Sacraments of our transformation in Christ. Thank you.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which begins today invites all the
Lord’s followers to implore the gift of unity. This year’s theme – We Will
All Be Changed By The Victory Of Our Lord Jesus Christ – was chosen by
representatives of the Catholic Church and the Polish Ecumenical Council.
Poland’s experience of oppression and persecution prompts a deeper
reflection on the meaning of Christ’s victory over sin and death, a victory
in which we share through faith. By his teaching, his example and his
paschal mystery, the Lord has shown us the way to a victory obtained not by
power, but by love and concern for those in need. Faith in Christ and
interior conversion, both individual and communal, must constantly accompany
our prayer for Christian unity. During this Week of Prayer, let us ask the
Lord in a particular way to strengthen the faith of all Christians, to
change our hearts and to enable us to bear united witness to the Gospel. In
this way we will contribute to the new evangelization and respond ever more
fully to the spiritual hunger of the men and women of our time.
* * *
© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pope's Message to
Ecumenical Patriarch for Feast of St. Andrew
"The Present Circumstances ... Present to Catholics and Orthodox the Same
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2011 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's
message to Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I for today's feast of St.
Andrew. The message is dated last Thursday.
* * *
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing" (Romans
In the communion of faith that we have received from the Apostles and in the
fraternal charity that unites us, I unite myself wholeheartedly to the
solemn celebration that Your Holiness presides over on the feast of the
Apostle and Martyr St. Andrew, brother of Peter and holy Protector of the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, to wish Your Holiness, the members of the Holy
Synod, the clergy and all the faithful, an abundance of heavenly gifts and
divine blessings. My prayers, like those of all my Catholic brothers and
sisters, accompany yours to invoke from God, our Father, who loves his
Church and built it on the foundation of the Apostles, peace in the whole
world, prosperity for the Church and the unity of all those who believe in
Christ. The delegation I have sent you, led by my venerable brother Cardinal
Kurt Koch, to whom I have entrusted this message of congratulations, is the
tangible sign of my participation and I offer you the fraternal greeting of
the Church of Rome.
I keep in my heart the still very fresh memory of our last meeting, when
together, we made ourselves pilgrims of peace, in the city of Assisi, to
reflect on the profound relation that unites the sincere search for God, for
truth, for peace and justice in the world. I thank the Lord who has enabled
me to reinforce with Your Holiness the bonds of sincere friendship and
genuine fraternity that unite us, and to give witness to the whole world of
the broad vision we share in regard to the responsibilities to which we are
called as Christians and pastors of the flock that God has entrusted to us.
The present circumstances, whether of the cultural, social, economic,
political or ecological order, present to Catholics and Orthodox the same
challenge. The proclamation of the mystery of salvation through the Death
and Resurrection of Jesus Christ must be renewed forcefully today in the
numerous regions that received the first light and today suffer the effects
of a secularization capable of impoverishing man in his most profound
dimension. Given the urgency of this task, we have the duty to offer the
whole of humanity the image of persons mature in the faith, capable of
coming together despite human tensions, thanks to the common search for
truth, being conscious that the future of evangelization depends on the
witness of unity given by the Church and of the quality of charity, as the
Lord taught us in the prayer he gave us: "that they may all be one, so that
the world may believe" (John 17:21). It is a great consolation for me to
know that Your Holiness also, since you were called to the ministry of
archbishop of Constantinople and of ecumenical patriarch 20 years ago, has
always had present the question of the witness of the Church and of Your
Holiness, in the contemporary world.
Holiness, on this day in which we celebrate the feast of the Apostle Andrew,
we raise once again our ardent prayer to the Lord so that he will grant us
to progress on the path of peace and reconciliation. That we may, through
the intercession of St. Andrew and of Sts. Peter and Paul, holy patrons of
the Church of Constantinople, and of the Church of Rome, respectively,
receive the gift of unity that comes to us from on High.
With these sentiments of faith, charity and hope, I reiterate to you,
Holiness, my most fervent congratulations and I exchange with you a
fraternal embrace in Christ our Lord.
Papal Address to
Ecumenical Group From Finland
"There Is a Need for Christians to Arrive at a Profound Agreement on Matters
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2012 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI
gave today to a delegation from Finland, who are on an annual ecumenical
pilgrimage to Rome for today's feast of St. Henry, the patron of Finland.
* * *
Dear Bishop Sippo,
Dear Bishop Häkkinen,
Distinguished friends from Finland,
It is with great joy that I welcome you, the members of the Finnish
delegation, on the occasion of your annual ecumenical pilgrimage to Rome in
order to celebrate once more today’s feast of Saint Henrik, the patron saint
of Finland. In remembering our patron Saints we give thanks for the action
of the Holy Spirit, informing and transforming the lives of those who have
left us an outstanding example of fidelity to Christ and to the Gospel.
The annual visit of an ecumenical delegation from Finland testifies to the
growth of communion among the Christian traditions represented in your
country. It is my profound hope that this communion may continue to grow,
bearing rich fruit among Catholics, Lutherans and all other Christians in
your beloved homeland. Our deepened friendship and common witness to Jesus
Christ – especially before today’s world, which so often lacks true
direction and longs to hear the message of salvation – must hasten our
progress towards the resolution of our remaining differences, and indeed of
all matters on which Christians are divided.
In recent times, ethical questions have become one of the points of
difference among Christians, especially with regard to the proper
understanding of human nature and its dignity. There is a need for
Christians to arrive at a profound agreement on matters of anthropology,
which can then help society and politicians to make wise and just decisions
regarding important questions in the area of human life, family and
In this regard, the recent ecumenical bilateral dialogue document in the
Finnish-Swedish context not only reflects a rapprochement between Catholics
and Lutherans over the understanding of justification, but it urges
Christians to renew their commitment to imitate Christ in life and action.
We trust in the power of the Holy Spirit to make possible what may still
seem beyond our reach: a widespread renewal of holiness and public practice
of Christian virtue, after the example of the great witnesses who have gone
In this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the second reading from
today’s suggested texts recalls the patience of faithful believers like
Abraham (Heb 6:15) who were rewarded for their faith and trust in God. The
realization that God lovingly intervenes in our history teaches us not to
place undue emphasis on what we can accomplish through our own efforts. Our
longing for the full, visible unity of Christians requires patient and
trustful waiting, not in a spirit of helplessness or passivity, but with
deep trust that the unity of all Christians in one Church is truly God’s
gift and not our own achievement. Such patient waiting, in prayerful hope,
transforms us and prepares us for visible unity not as we plan it, but as
God grants it.
It is my fervent hope that your visit to Rome will help to deepen the
fraternal relations that exist between Lutherans and Catholics in Finland.
Let us thank God for all that he has granted us so far and let us pray that
he may fill us with the Spirit of truth to guide us towards ever greater
love and unity. Upon you and all your fellow-citizens, I invoke God’s
Pope's Address to
Israeli Interreligious Dialogue Group
"The Rightly Lived Relationship of Man to God Is a Force for Peace"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2011 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI
gave today when he received at the Vatican members of the Israel Council of
* * *
It is a great pleasure for me to welcome you, the members of the Israeli
Religious Council, representing as you do the religious communities present
in the Holy Land, and I thank you for the kind words addressed to me in the
name of all present.
In our troubled times, dialogue between different religions is becoming ever
more important in the generation of an atmosphere of mutual understanding
and respect that can lead to friendship and solid trust in each other. This
is pressing for the religious leaders of the Holy Land who, while living in
a place full of memories sacred to our traditions, are tested daily by the
difficulties of living together in harmony.
As I remarked in my recent meeting with religious leaders at Assisi, today
we find ourselves confronted by two kinds of violence: on the one hand, the
use of violence in the name of religion and, on the other, the violence that
is the consequence of the denial of God which often characterises life in
modern society. In this situation, as religious leaders we are called to
reaffirm that the rightly lived relationship of man to God is a force for
peace. This is a truth that must become ever more visible in the way in
which we live with each other on a daily basis. Hence, I wish to encourage
you to foster a climate of trust and dialogue among the leaders and members
of all the religious traditions present in the Holy Land.
We share a grave responsibility to educate the members of our respective
religious communities, with a view to nurturing a deeper understanding of
each other and developing an openness towards cooperation with people of
religious traditions other than our own. Unfortunately, the reality of our
world is often fragmentary and flawed, even in the Holy Land. All of us are
called to commit ourselves anew to the promotion of greater justice and
dignity, in order to enrich our world and to give it a fully human
dimension. Justice, together with truth, love and freedom, is a fundamental
requirement for lasting and secure peace in the world. Movement towards
reconciliation requires courage and vision, as well as the trust that it is
God himself who will show us the way. We cannot achieve our goals if God
does not give us the strength to do so.
When I visited Jerusalem in May 2009, I stood in front of the Western Wall
and, in my written prayer placed between the stones of the Wall, I asked God
for peace in the Holy Land. I wrote: "God of all ages, on my visit to
Jerusalem, the ‘City of Peace’, spiritual home to Jews, Christians and
Muslims alike, I bring before you the joys, the hopes and the inspirations,
the trials, the suffering and the pain of all your people throughout the
world. God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, hear the cry of the afflicted, the
fearful, the bereft; send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle
East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of all who call upon
your name to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion. ‘The Lord is
good to those who wait for him, to the soul that seeks him!’" (Lam 3:25).
May the Lord hear my prayer for Jerusalem today and fill your hearts with
joy during your visit to Rome. May he hear the prayer of all men and women
who ask him for the peace of Jerusalem. Indeed, let us never cease praying
for the peace of the Holy Land, with confidence in God who himself is our
peace and consolation. Entrusting you and those whom you represent to the
Almighty's merciful care, I willingly invoke upon all of you divine
blessings of joy and peace.
Patriarch Twal's Words to Pope at Interreligious Meeting
"We Do Not Have the Right to Despair ... Or to Give Up"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2011 - Here is the text of the address by Archbishop
Fouad Twal, Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem, at Benedict XVI's meeting today
with the Israel Council of Religious Communities.
* * *
It is with pleasure and honor that I conclude the interventions of my
esteemed colleagues, Muslims and Jews.
"Let me hear what God the Lord will speak, for he will speak peace to his
people, his holy ones" (Psalm 85:9). "... peacemakers will be called
children of God" (Matthew 5:9).
The impressions made upon my mind and heart during our pilgrimage to Assisi
two weeks ago are still very fresh. There we mingled with men and women from
many religious communities, who made up a veritable representation of
humanity in its entirety, and who responded to your appeal to join your
Holiness, for a "day of reflection, dialogue and prayer for peace and
justice in the world." Holy Father, we feel you are the only one with the
moral authority, capable of gathering together people from such a range of
different confessions and faith.
We, the members of this Religious Council, are honored to be in your
presence; we do not want this meeting to be merely a show. We earnestly
renew our commitment to continuously promote justice, peace and respect for
the dignity of every human being. In our work to address the difficulties
and problems that beset our region and our people, we are acutely aware of
our limitations as a Council. We do not pretend to be able to deal with and
solve the problems on an international or even regional level. Yet as a
Religious Council, we are aware of the power of faith and prayer, and our
responsibility to do more for reconciliation among our local communities of
Jews, Muslims, Druze and Christians, making use of our solid, good relations
and common sense. Though the problems we face are numerous, many resulting
from a seemingly intractable conflict or a culture of violence -- even so,
as Members of this Religious Council, we do not have the right to despair,
to be tired or to give up.
We come here today, to join our prayers with yours, uniting our efforts with
those of all men and women of good will, to undertake concrete initiatives
for justice and freedom for all our people.
Building upon the commitments and proposals presented and assumed during
your pilgrimage to the Holy Land in 2009, and those made in Assisi, we
desire to see our communities fully united in hope, and to make the dream of
our faithful for justice, peace and reconciliation a reality.
We, Members of this Council, have an important role to play, in order that
"through a conversion of the heart, in a spirit of prayer, respect,
perseverance and love, far removed from any trace of mistrust, fear and
prejudice," (Synod for the Middle East, Proposition 28), we overcome these
obstacles to peaceful coexistence. This can seem a very long way, but God
who is our hope is not remote. "Hope does not disappoint, because the love
of God has been poured out into the hearts through the Holy Spirit that has
been give to us" (Romans 5:5).
As we continue to be "pilgrims of truth and pilgrims of peace," we will be
renewed through the grace of the Holy Spirit and sustained by our Lord's
promise. "Behold, I am with you always, until the end of time" (Matthew
Statement of the Council of Religious Leaders in Israel
"Free Access for Believers to Their Respective Holy Sites Must Be Provided"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2011 - Here is the text of the statement given by the
Israel Council of Religious Communities after they met with Benedict XVI
today in the Vatican.
* * *
On the occasion of meeting H.H. Pope Benedict XVI, this tenth day of
November 2011, we the religious leaders in the State of Israel affirm our
belief in the Creator of the Universe who directs His world with loving
kindness and compassion and who calls upon us human beings to live with one
another in peace and dignity.
The Council of Religious Leaders expresses gratitude to His Holiness for
this outstanding meeting, and holds in esteem His activity to bring hearts
together and to bring peace throughout the world.
First and foremost, we reiterate our commitment to the sanctity of human
life and reject all violence, especially when this is done in the name of
religion – a desecration of the sacred.
In order to maintain peace and mutual respect among the different religious
communities in our State, we must educate our children and congregations
accordingly and prevent any offense against the feelings or beliefs of
We inherited the Holy Sites from our forebears, and we are required to
preserve their religious sanctity and cultural significance. We do this,
also in the name of Israeli Law related to the protection of the Holy Sites.
The unity and special character of the Holy Sites must be protected from all
violence and desecration. It is the responsibility of the religious leaders
to strengthen this approach and to call on their communities to ensure that
the Holy Sites of other religious communities are not harmed.
In accordance with the above, and in keeping with the commandments and
prohibitions of each respective religion, free access for believers to their
respective holy sites must be provided, and the empowered civil authorities
must guarantee this.
Our religious heritages teach us that peace, doing justice, and
righteousness are the commandments of the Holy One Blessed Be He, and as
religious leaders, we have a special duty to be attentive to the cry of the
weak in our midst and to work together for a more just and fair society.
We reiterate our commitment to do everything in our power to fulfill this
important charge, especially in the Holy Land, which is dear to us all.
Offering our prayer heavenwards, we give thanks to the Creator, who has
enabled us to come together this day in order to work together to bring a
blessing for all.
on Meeting With St. Pius X Society
VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 14, 2011 - Here is the statement released today by the
Vatican regarding a meeting between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith and the Society of St. Pius X.
* * *
On 14 September at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith, Cardinal William Joseph Levada, prefect of the congregation and
president of the Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei'; Archbishop Luis
Francisco Ladaria Ferrer S.J., secretary of the congregation, and Msgr.
Guido Pozzo, secretary of the pontifical commission, met with Bishop Bernard
Fellay, superior general of the Society of St. Pius X, who was accompanied
by Fr. Niklaus Pfluger and Fr. Alain-Marc Nely, respectively first and
second assistant general to the society.
Following the appeal of 15 December 2008, addressed by the superior general
of the Society of St. Pius X to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy
Father decided to remove the excommunication against the four bishops
consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre. At the same time, he approved the
opening of discussions with the society in order to clarify doctrinal
problems and to heal the existing rift.
In order to put the Holy Father's instructions into effect, a joint study
commission was set up, composed of experts from the Society of St. Pius X
and from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who met in Rome on
eight occasions between October 2009 and April 2011. Their discussions,
which aimed to identify and study the essential doctrinal difficulties in
the controversial issues, had the result of clarifying the positions of the
two sides and their respective motivations.
While bearing in mind the concerns and demands presented by the Society of
St. Pius X about protecting the integrity of the Catholic faith against
Vatican Council II's 'hermeneutic of rupture' with Tradition (a theme
addressed by Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Curia on 22
December 2005), the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith maintains
that the fundamental basis for achieving full reconciliation with the
Apostolic See is the acceptance of the text of the Doctrinal Preamble, which
was handed over during a meeting on 14 September 2011. The Preamble defines
certain doctrinal principles and criteria for the interpretation Catholic
doctrine, which are necessary to ensure faithfulness to the Church
Magisterium and 'sentire cum Ecclesia'. At the same time, it leaves open to
legitimate discussion the examination and theological explanation of
individual expressions and formulations contained in the documents of
Vatican Council II and later Magisterium.
At the same meeting, certain suggestions were made for a canonical solution
to the position of the Society of St. Pius X, with a view to achieving the
Papal Message to Munich
"We Have to Learn Not to Live Next to One Another But With One Another"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 14, 2011 - Here is a translation of the
message Benedict XVI addressed to Cardinal Reinhard Marx, archbishop of
Munich and Freising, on the occasion of the "'Bound to Live Together':
Religions and Culture in Dialogue" meeting, being held in this city.
* * *
To my honorable brother
Reinhard Cardinal Marx
Archbishop of Munich and Freising
In a few weeks it will be exactly 25 years since Blessed John Paul II
invited representatives of the different world religions to Assisi for an
international meeting of prayer for peace. Following on this, the
Sant'Egidio community has organized this meeting for peace every year to
deepen this spirit of peace and reconciliation and so that in prayer we let
God make us into people of peace. I am happy that this year's meeting takes
place in Munich, my former episcopal see, and shortly before my visit to
Germany and in anticipation of the 25th anniversary of the Assisi world
prayer meeting that will be celebrated in October. I would like to assure
the organizers and participants of my spiritual nearness to them, and I
offer them all my heartfelt best wishes.
The theme of the peace meeting, "Bound to live together," reminds us that we
as human beings are bound to each other. This living together is in fact a
precondition that derives from our being human. And it is our duty to give
it a positive content. This living together can transform itself into living
against one another, can become a hell if we do not learn to accept one
another, if everyone only wants to be himself or herself. But it can also be
a gift when we open up to one another, when we give ourselves to one
another. So what matters is to understand the precondition of living
together as a task and a gift, to find the true way to live together. This
living together that in the past could be limited regionally today can only
be lived universally. The subject of living together today is humanity as a
whole. Meetings like the one in Assisi and also the one now in Munich are
occasions for religions to investigate themselves and ask how they can
become forces of living together.
When we gather as Christians we remind ourselves that according to the
biblical faith God is the creator of all humanity; yes, he wants us to be
one family in which we are brothers and sisters for one another. We remind
ourselves that Christ announced peace for those far away and peace for those
near to us (Ephesians 2:16). We have to learn this time and again. The deep
sense of these meetings is that we meet those far away and those near to us
in the same spirit of peace that Christ lived and taught us through his
example. We have to learn not to live next to one another but with one
another. That means opening our hearts to one another, letting our neighbors
participate in our joys, hopes, and sorrows. The heart is the place where
God touches us. That's why religion, which is about the meeting of people
with the divine mystery, is essentially linked to the question of peace.
When religion fails in this meeting with God, when it pulls Him down to us
instead of raising us up to Him, when we, so to say, make him our
possession, then it can contribute to the destruction of peace. But if it
finds the way to the divine, to the creator and redeemer of all people, then
it is a force for peace. We know that also in Christianity there have been
errors of the image of God that have led to the destruction of peace. Even
more, we are all called to let ourselves be purified by the divine God and
thus become people of peace.
We may never diminish our efforts for peace. Therefore the numerous
initiatives everywhere in the world, like the annually organized meetings
for peace of Sant'Egidio and similar meetings are very valuable. The field
on which the fruit of peace should grow, must be constantly tended. Often we
cannot do more than prepare continuously, and in many small steps, the
ground for peace in us and around us, also when coping with the large
challenges, which not only concern the individual but the entire human
family, like migration, globalization, economic crisis, protection of
creation. In the end, we know that peace cannot simply be "made" but is
always also "given." "Peace is a gift of God and at the same time a plan
that has to be realized and that is never completely finished" (Message to
World Peace Day 2011, 15). Especially here a common testimony is needed of
all those who sincerely search for God to realize more and more the vision
of a peaceful living together of all people. Since the first meeting in
Assisi 25 years ago there have been, and there are, a lot of hopeful
initiatives for reconciliation and peace, and unfortunately also a lot of
lost opportunities and set backs.
Terrible acts of violence and terror often have suffocated the hope for
peaceful living together of the human family at the dawn of the third
millennium, old conflicts continue or are reawakened, new conflicts and
problems arise alongside of these. All this shows us clearly that peace is a
never-ending task for all of us and a gift which we should all invoke. May
in this sense the peace meeting in Munich and the conferences and
conversations that take place there promote reciprocal understanding and
living together, and so prepare new paths for peace in our time. Therefore I
will invoke the blessing of the Almighty God on all participants of the
peace meeting in Munich.
Castel Gandolfo, 1 September 2011
Pope's Letter to
"The Destiny of Evangelization Is Certainly Bound Up With the Witness of
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 2, 2011 - Here is a translation of the Aug. 6
letter Benedict XVI sent to the president of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Kurt Koch, on the occasion of the 12th
The symposium, with the theme "The Witness of the Church in the Modern
World," concluded today in Thessaloniki (Salonika), Greece.
* * *
To the Venerable Brother
Lord Cardinal Kurt Koch
President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity,
On the occasion of the 12th Inter-Christian Symposium, with the theme "The
Witness of the Church in the Modern World," which is being held in Salonika
from Aug. 30 to Sept. 2, 2011, I wish to manifest through you, Venerable
Brother, my great appreciation for this laudable initiative, promoted by the
Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum
and by the Department of Theology of the Orthodox Theological Faculty of the
Aristotle University of Salonika.
2. The topic that will be discussed at the symposium is of great current
importance and is at the center of my concern and prayers, as I already
affirmed in the apostolic letter "Ubicumque et Semper," with which I
instituted the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. In the
course of the centuries the Church has not failed to proclaim the salvific
mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but this same
proclamation today needs a renewed vigor in many of the regions that were
the first to receive the light and that are experiencing the effects of a
secularization capable of impoverishing man in his deepest dimension. In
reality, we are witnessing in the contemporary world contradictory
phenomena: On one hand there is a generalized distraction and also an
insensitivity in regard to transcendence; on the other, there are numerous
signs that attest to an ongoing profound nostalgia for God in many hearts,
which manifests itself in many different ways and which brings many men and
women to an attitude of sincere searching.
3. The present cultural, social and economic backdrop poses the same
challenges to Catholics and Orthodox. The reflection that will take place in
the symposium will have an important ecumenical consequence. The
interventions will make it possible to draw a clear picture of the common
problems and the presentation of the particularities of the different points
of view, favoring an exchange of reflections and experiences in a climate of
fraternal charity. The mutual knowledge of our traditions and sincere
friendship represent, in themselves, a contribution to the cause of
Christian unity. I wish to recall here the words of my Venerable
Predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, when, in regard to evangelization,
he affirmed: "As evangelizers, we must offer Christ's faithful not the image
of people divided and separated by unedifying quarrels, but the image of
people who are mature in faith and capable of finding a meeting-point beyond
the real tensions, thanks to a shared, sincere and disinterested search for
truth. Yes, the destiny of evangelization is certainly bound up with the
witness of unity given by the Church. This is a source of responsibility and
also of comfort" (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Nuntiandi, No. 77).
4. Certainly contributing to the good outcome of this work will be the
intercession of St. Paul, whose memory is alive in the city of Salonika,
where the Apostle preached the Gospel in the first place -- a city to which
he remained linked by a special bond of affection. It is necessary that you
be animated by the same apostolic zeal that Paul had for a renewed
proclamation of the Gospel in the contemporary world.
5. To all those who contributed to the realization of the symposium, to the
illustrious speakers and to all the participants, I address my cordial
greeting with the hope that the initiative will be a success. I support the
works with prayer and with my Apostolic Blessing.
From Castel Gandolfo, August 6, 2011
Papal Address to
"The Incomplete Communion That Already Unites Us Must Grow"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict
XVI gave today when he was visited by a delegation from the Ecumenical
Patriarchate of Constantinople.
The Orthodox delegation made the traditional visit to the Holy Father to
mark Wednesday's feast of Sts. Peter and Paul. A Catholic delegation
similarly visits Constantinople for the feast of St. Andrew.
* * *
Dear Brothers in Christ,
You are welcome in Rome on the occasion of the Feast of the Patrons of this
Church, the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul. It is particularly gratifying to
me to greet you with the words that Saint Paul addressed to Christians of
this city: "The God of peace be with you all" (Romans 15:32). I thank from
my heart the Venerable Brother, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His Holiness
Bartholomew I and the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate who wished
to send you, dear Brothers, as their representatives to participate here
with us in this solemn celebration.
The Lord Jesus Christ, having appeared to his disciples after his
Resurrection, gave them the mission to be witnesses of the Gospel of
Salvation. The Apostles carried out this mission faithfully, on attesting
their faith in Christ the Savior and their love of God the Father even to
the bloody sacrifice of their life. In this city of Rome, the Apostles Peter
and Paul faced martyrdom, and since then their tombs have been the object of
veneration. Your participation in our Feast, like the presence of our
representatives in Constantinople for the Feast of the Apostle Andrew,
manifests the friendship and genuine fraternity that unites the Church of
Rome and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, bonds solidly founded in the faith
received through the testimony of the Apostles. The intimate spiritual
closeness that we experience each time that we meet is for me a motive of
great joy and gratitude to God. At the same time, however, the incomplete
communion that already unites us must grow until it attains full visible
We follow with great attention the work of the Mixed Commission for
Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as
a whole. From a purely human point of view, one might have the impression
that the theological dialogue is having trouble in progressing. In reality,
the rhythm of dialogue is linked to the complexity of the themes being
discussed, which call for an extraordinary effort of study, of reflection
and of reciprocal openness. We are called to continue this course together
in charity, invoking light and inspiration from the Holy Spirit, in the
certainty that He wishes to lead us to the full accomplishment of the will
of Christ: that they may all be one (John 17:21). I am particularly grateful
to all the members of the Mixed Commission and in particular to the
co-Presidents, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Pergamum Ioannis and His
Eminence Cardinal Kurt Koch, for their tireless dedication, their patience
and their competence.
In a historical context of violence, of indifference and of egoism, many men
and women of our time feel lost. It is precisely by the common testimony of
the truth of the Gospel that we can help people of our time to rediscover
the way that leads them to truth. The search for truth, in fact, is always
also the search for justice and peace, and it is with great joy that I
witness the important involvement with which His Holiness Bartholomew spends
himself on these subjects. Uniting myself to this intention which is common
to us, and recalling the beautiful example of my predecessor, Blessed John
Paul II, I wish to invite Christian brothers, representatives of other
religious traditions of the world and personalities of the world of culture
and science, to participate next October 27 in the city of Assisi, in a Day
of Reflection, of Dialogue and of Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World,
whose theme will be: "Pilgrims in Truth, Pilgrims in Peace." Walking
together along the streets of St. Francis' city will be a sign of the will
to continue to advance on the path of dialogue and fraternity.
Eminence, dear members of the Delegation, thanking you again for your
presence in Rome on this solemn occasion, I ask you to transmit my fraternal
greeting to my venerable Brother, Patriarch Bartholomew I, to the Holy
Synod, to the clergy and to all the faithful of the Ecumenical Patriarchate,
assuring them of my affection and of the solidarity of the Church of Rome,
which today is celebrating its Holy Founders.
Address to Bulgarian
Delegation on Europe's Patrons
"In Europe's Complex History, Christianity Represents a Central and Defining
VATICAN CITY, MAY 23, 2011 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address
today to Tsetska Tsacheva, chairwoman of the National Assembly of Bulgaria,
whom he received in audience together with a Catholic-Orthodox delegation
from the country.
The Pope received delegations from both Bulgaria and the Former Yugoslav
Republic of Macedonia to celebrate the feast day -- May 11 in the East and
Feb. 14 in the West -- of Sts. Cyril and Methodius, the co-patrons of
* * *
Mrs. President of the Parliament,
Honorable Members of the Government and Distinguished Authorities,
Venerable Brothers of the Orthodox Church and of the Catholic Church,
I wish to address my deferent greeting to the official delegation of
Bulgaria -- headed by Mrs. President of the Parliament -- which has come to
Rome as customary, in the context of the liturgical feast of Sts. Cyril and
Methodius. This welcome meeting, which is renewed also this year, gives me
the opportunity to reaffirm the spiritual and cultural relevance of these
two illustrious and notable pioneers of the evangelization of Europe, whose
figures are honored both in the East as well as the West. Thanks to their
courageous preaching through the streets of the Continent, they fostered a
vast spiritual renewal and laid the basis for an authentic promotion of the
liberty and unity of Christian Europe. Cyril and Methodius were "living
Gospels" and eloquent signs of the Lord's goodness, that is why their
witness reached the men of their time more readily.
To European peoples, who are opening these years to new prospects of
cooperation, these two great saints remind that its unity will be firmer if
it is based on their common Christian roots. In fact, in Europe's complex
history, Christianity represents a central and defining element. The
Christian faith has molded the culture of the Old Continent, and is
indissolubly intertwined in its history, to the point that the latter would
not be comprehensible if it did not make reference to the circumstances that
earlier characterized the great period of evangelization, and afterward the
long centuries in which Christianity took on an ever more relevant role.
Hence, it is important that Europe grow also in the spiritual dimension, in
the wake of its best history. The unity of the Continent, which is
progressively maturing in consciences and is also being defined in the
political aspect, represents a prospect of great hope. Europeans are called
to commit themselves to create conditions of a profound cohesion and an
effective collaboration between nations. To build the new Europe on solid
bases it is not enough to appeal solely to economic interests, but, rather,
it is necessary to begin from authentic values, which have their foundation
in the universal moral law inscribed in every man's heart.
It is my heartfelt wish that the moral and cultural legacy of Sts. Cyril and
Methodius will always nourish in each one of you the desire to appreciate
the spiritual patrimony of your lands and, at the same time, openness and
communion in reciprocal respect. May this meeting of ours be the motive for
further relations in fraternity and solidarity. May the Lord bless your dear
country and all its citizens.
Papal Greeting to
"Christians Need to Work Together in Mutual
Acceptance and Trust"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered
today upo receiving in audience the members of the Joint International
Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the
Oriental Orthodox Churches.
* * *
Dear Brothers in Christ,
It is with great joy that I welcome you, the members of the Joint
International Commission for Theological Dialogue Between the Catholic
Church and the Oriental Orthodox Churches. Through you I gladly extend
fraternal greetings to my venerable Brothers, the Heads of the Oriental
I am grateful for the work of the Commission which began in January 2003 as
a shared initiative of the ecclesial authorities of the family of the
Oriental Orthodox Churches and the Pontifical Council for Promoting
As you know, the first phase of the dialogue, from 2003 to 2009, resulted in
the common text entitled Nature, Constitution and Mission of the Church. The
document outlined aspects of fundamental ecclesiological principles that we
share and identified issues requiring deeper reflection in successive phases
of the dialogue. We can only be grateful that after almost fifteen hundred
years of separation we still find agreement about the sacramental nature of
the Church, about apostolic succession in priestly service and about the
impelling need to bear witness to the Gospel of our Lord and Saviour Jesus
Christ in the world.
In the second phase the Commission has reflected from an historical
perspective on the ways in which the Churches expressed their communion down
the ages. During the meeting this week you are deepening your study of the
communion and communication that existed between the Churches until the
mid-fifth century of Christian history, as well as the role played by
monasticism in the life of the early Church.
We must be confident that your theological reflection will lead our Churches
not only to understand each other more deeply, but resolutely to continue
our journey decisively towards the full communion to which we are called by
the will of Christ. For this intention we have lifted up our common prayer
during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity which has just ended.
Many of you come from regions where Christian individuals and communities
face trials and difficulties that are a cause of deep concern for us all.
All Christians need to work together in mutual acceptance and trust in order
to serve the cause of peace and justice. May the intercession and example of
the many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in
all our Churches, sustain and strengthen you and your Christian communities.
With sentiments of fraternal affection I invoke upon all of you the grace
and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Homily Closing Prayer
for Christian Unity Week
"We Are Still Far From That Unity for Which Christ
ROME, JAN. 25, 2011 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI
delivered today at the closing vespers of the Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity, held at the Basilica of St. Paul's Outside the Walls. Today's feast
of the Conversion of St. Paul brought the prayer week to a close.
* * *
Brothers and Sisters,
Following the example of Jesus, who
on the eve of his Passion prayed to the Father for his disciples "that they
may all be one" (John 17:21), Christians continue to invoke incessantly from
God the gift of this unity. This request is made more intense during the
Week of Prayer, which ends today, when the Churches and ecclesial
Communities meditate and pray together for the unity of all Christians.
This year the theme offered for our
meditation was proposed by the Christian communities of Jerusalem, to which
I would like to express by heartfelt gratitude, accompanied by the assurance
of affection and prayer either on my part or on that of the whole of the
Church. The Christians of the Holy City invite us to renew and reinforce our
commitment for the re-establishment of full unity meditating on the model of
life of the first disciples of Christ gathered in Jerusalem: "They -- we
read in the Acts of the Apostles (and we heard it now) -- devoted themselves
to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the
prayers" (Acts 2:42). This is the portrait of the early community, born in
Jerusalem the same day of Pentecost, aroused by the preaching of the Apostle
Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, addressed to all those who had arrived in
the Holy City for the feast. A community not shut-in on itself, but, from
its birth, catholic, universal, capable of embracing people of different
languages and cultures, as the book of the Acts of the Apostles itself
testifies. A community not founded on a pact among its members, or the
simple sharing of a project or an ideal, but from profound communion with
God, who revealed himself in his Son, from the encounter with Christ dead
In a brief summary, which ends the chapter that began
with the account of the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost,
the Evangelist Luke presents synthetically the life of this first community:
how many had heard the word preached by Peter and were baptized, listened to
the Word of God, transmitted by the Apostles; were happily together, taking
charge of the necessary services and sharing freely and generously their
material goods; celebrated the sacrifice of Christ on the Cross, his mystery
of Death and Resurrection, in the Eucharist, repeating the gesture of the
breaking of the bread; they continually praised and thanked the Lord,
invoking his help in their difficulties. This description, however, is not
simply a memory of the past, and even less the presentation of an example to
imitate or of an ideal goal to reach. It is rather the affirmation of the
presence and action of the Holy Spirit, uniting all in Christ, who is the
principle of the unity of the Church and makes believers one.
The teaching of the Apostles,
fraternal communion, the breaking of the bread and prayer are the concrete
ways of life of the first Christian community of Jerusalem gathered by the
action of the Holy Spirit but at the same time they constitute the essential
features of all Christian communities, of all times and all places. In other
words, we can also say that they represent the essential dimensions of the
unity of the visible Body of the Church.
We must be grateful because, in the
course of the last decades, the ecumenical movement, "arising from the
impulse of the grace of the Holy Spirit" ("Unitatis Redintegratio," No. 1),
has taken significant steps forward, which have made it possible to attain
encouraging convergence and consent on varied points, developing between the
Churches and the ecclesial communities relations of mutual esteem and
respect, as well as of concrete collaboration in face of the challenges of
the contemporary world. We are well aware, however, that we are still far
from that unity for which Christ prayed and which we find reflected in the
portrait of the first community of Jerusalem. The unity to which Christ,
through his Spirit, calls the Church is not realized only on the plane of
organizational structures, but is configured, at a much more profound level,
as expressed "in the confession of only one faith, in the common celebration
of divine worship and in the fraternal concord of the family of God" (ibid.,
The search for the re-establishment of unity among divided Christians cannot
therefore be reduced to a recognition of the reciprocal differences and to
the obtaining of a peaceful coexistence: What we long for is that unity for
which Christ himself prayed and which by its nature is manifested in the
communion of the faith, of the sacraments, of the ministry. The path toward
this unity must be seen as a moral imperative, response to a precise call of
the Lord. Because of this, the temptation must be overcome to resignation
and pessimism, which is lack of trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. Our
duty is to continue passionately on the path towards this goal with a
serious and rigorous dialogue to deepen the common theological, liturgical
and spiritual patrimony; with reciprocal knowledge, with the ecumenical
formation of the new generations and, above all, with conversion of heart
and prayer. In fact, as Vatican Council II declared, the "holy intention to
reconcile all Christians in the unity of the one Church of Christ, surpasses
human forces and talents" and, because of this, our hope is placed first of
all "in the prayer of Christ for the Church, in the Father's love for us and
in the power of the Holy Spirit" (ibid., No. 24).
On this path for the search of full
visible unity among all Christians we are accompanied and sustained by the
Apostle Paul, of whom today we celebrate solemnly the feast of his
conversion. He, before the Risen One appeared to him on the road to Damascus
saying to him: "I am Jesus whom you are persecuting!" (Acts 9:5), was one of
the most ferocious adversaries of the early Christian communities. The
evangelist Luke describes Saul among those who approved the killing of
Stephen, in the days when a violent persecution broke out against Christians
of Jerusalem (cf. Acts 8:1). He left from the Holy City to extend the
persecution of Christians to Syria and, after his conversion, he returned to
be introduced to the Apostles of Barnabas, who made himself guarantor of the
authenticity of his encounter with the Lord. From then on Paul was admitted
not only as a member of the Church but also as preacher of the Gospel
together with the other Apostles, having received, as them, the
manifestation of the Risen Lord and the special call to be "chosen
instrument" to carry his name before the Gentiles (cf. Acts 9:15).
In his long missionary journeys,
Paul, journeying through different cities and regions, never forgot the bond
of communion with the Church of Jerusalem. The collection in favor of
Christians of that community, who, very soon, had need of being helped (cf.
1 Corinthians 16:1), occupied an important place in Paul's concerns, which
he considered not only a work of charity, but the sign and the guarantee of
the unity and the communion between the Churches founded by him and the
early community of the Holy City, as sign of the one Church of Christ.
In this climate of intense prayer, I
wish to address my cordial greeting to all those present: to Cardinal
Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of this Basilica, to Cardinal Kurt Koch,
president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, to the
other cardinals and brothers in the episcopate and priesthood, to the abbot
and to the Benedictine monks of this ancient community, to men and women
religious, to the laity that represent the entire diocesan community of
Rome. In a special way, I would like to greet the brothers and sisters of
the other Churches and ecclesial communities represented here this evening.
Among them, it is particularly gratifying to me to address my greeting to
the members of the International Mixed Commission for Theological Dialogue
between the Catholic Church and the Ancient Eastern Churches, whose meeting
will take place here in Rome in the next few days. Let us entrust to the
Lord the good outcome of your meeting, so that it can represent a step
forward toward the much hoped for unity.
Dear brothers and sisters, trusting
in the intercession of the Virgin Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the
Church, we invoke, therefore, the gift of unity. United to Mary, who on the
day of Pentecost was present in the Cenacle together with the Apostles, we
turn to God source of every gift to have renewed for us today the miracle of
Pentecost and, guided by the Holy Spirit, may all Christians re-establish
full unity in Christ. Amen.
Papal Address to Delegation of German Lutheran Church
"A 'Togetherness' Has Grown Between Us"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2011- Here is
a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in
audience a delegation of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, who are
in Rome for the end of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which is
under way through Tuesday.
* * *
Regional Bishop Friedrich!
Dear Friends of Germany!
I give a cordial welcome to all of
you, representatives of top leaders of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of
Germany, here in the Apostolic Palace, and I am happy because of the fact
that you, as a delegation, have come to Rome at the end of the Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity. In this way you also show that all our longing
for unity can bear fruits only if they are rooted in common prayer. In
particular, I would like to thank you, dear regional bishop, for your words
that, with great sincerity, expressed the common efforts for more profound
unity among all Christians.
In the meantime, the official
dialogue between Lutherans and Catholics -- so it is written here -- can
look back to more than 50 years of intense activity. You spoke of 30 years.
I think that 30 years ago, after the Pope's visit, we began officially, but
in fact we had been dialoguing for a long time. I myself was a member of the
"Jaeger-Stahlin-Kreis" born directly after the War. One can speak then of 50
or 30 years. Despite the theological differences that continue to exist on
questions that in part are fundamental, a "togetherness" has grown between
us, which becomes increasingly the basis of a communion lived in faith and
in spirituality between Lutherans and Catholics. What has already been
achieved reinforces our trust in continuing the dialogue, because only in
this way can we stay together on that way that, finally, is Jesus Christ
Hence, the commitment of the Catholic Church to ecumenism, as my venerable
predecessor Pope John Paul II affirmed in his encyclical "Ut Unum Sint," is
not a mere strategy of communication in a changing world, but a fundamental
commitment of the Church from her own mission (cf. Nos. 28-32).
For some contemporaries the common
goal of full and visible unity of Christians seems to be again today very
far. The ecumenical interlocutors in the dialogue have ideas on the unity of
the Church that are completely different. I share the concern of many
Christians over the fact that the fruits of the ecumenical endeavor, above
all in relation to the idea of Church and ministry, are still not
sufficiently received by the ecumenical interlocutors. However, even if new
difficulties always arise, we look with hope to the future. Even if the
divisions of Christians are an obstacle in molding catholicity fully in the
reality of the life of the Church, as was promised in Christ and through
Christ (cf. "Unitatis Redintegratio," No. 4), we are confident in the fact
that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, the ecumenical dialogue, as
important instrument in the life of the Church, will serve to overcome this
conflict. This will happen, in the first place, also through the theological
dialogue, which must contribute to understanding on the open questions,
which are an obstacle along the path to visible unity and the common
celebration of the Eucharist as sacrament of unity among Christians.
I am pleased to state that beside
the international Lutheran-Catholic dialogue on the topic "Baptism and
Growing Ecclesial Communion," there is also in Germany, since 2009, a
bilateral commission of dialogue between the episcopal conference and the
Evangelical Lutheran Church of Germany, which has taken up again its
activity on the topic: "God and the Dignity of Man." This thematic realm
includes in particular also the problems that arose recently in relation to
the protection and dignity of human life, as well as the urgent questions on
the family, marriage and sexuality, which cannot be silenced or neglected so
as not to endanger the ecumenical consensus attained up to now. We hope that
in these important questions related to life, new confessional differences
will not emerge, but that together we will be able to give witness to the
world and to men of what the Lord has shown us and shows us.
Today the ecumenical dialogue cannot
be split from the reality and from the life in the faith of our Churches
without harming them. Hence, let us look together to the year 2017, which
will recall theses of Martin Luther from 500 years ago. On that occasion,
Lutherans and Catholics will have the opportunity to celebrate throughout
the world a common ecumenical commemoration, to fight at the world level for
fundamental questions, not -- as you yourself have just said -- under the
form of a triumphant celebration, but as a common profession of our faith in
the One and Triune God, in the common obedience to Our Lord and to his Word.
We must attribute an important place to common prayer and to interior prayer
addressed to our Lord Jesus Christ for forgiveness of mutual wrongs and for
the fault related to the divisions. Part of this purification of the
conscience is the reciprocal exchange on the appraisal of the 1,500 years
that preceded the Reformation, and which are common to us. For this we wish
to implore together, in a constant way, the help of God and the assistance
of the Holy Spirit, to be able to take further steps toward the unity that
we long for, and to not be satisfied with where we are now.
We are encouraged along this path
also by this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. It recalls for us
the chapter of the Acts of the Apostles: "And they devoted themselves to the
Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers"
(Acts 2:42). In these four acts and conduct the early Christians were
constant, and therefore the community grew with Christ and from it flowed
this "togetherness" of the men of Christ. This extraordinary and visible
witness to the world, of the unity of the early Church could also be for us
an incentive and norm for our common ecumenical path in the future.
In the hope that your visit will
reinforce further the valid collaboration between Lutherans and Catholics in
Germany, I implore for you all the grace of God and His abundant blessings.
"Conversion to Christ
Is the Way That Will Lead ... to Full Visible Unity"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict
XVI gave today before praying the midday Angelus together with those
gathered in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
During these days, Jan. 18-25, the Week of Prayer for Christians Unity is
being observed. This year it has as its theme a passage from the book of the
Acts of the Apostles, that sums up in a few words the life of the first
Christian community in Jerusalem: "They persevered in the teaching of the
apostles, in communion, in the breaking of the bread and prayer" (Acts
2:42). It is very significant that this [year's] theme was proposed by the
Churches and Christian communities in Jerusalem, gathered together in an
ecumenical spirit. We know how many trials the brothers and sisters in the
Holy Land and the Middle East have to face. Their service is thus still more
precious, confirmed by the witness that, in certain cases, has ended in the
sacrifice of life. So, while we welcome with joy the points of reflection
offered by the communities that live in Jerusalem, we join with them and may
this become for everyone a further builder of communion.
Today too, to be a sign and instrument in the world of intimate union with
God and of unity among men, we Christians must base our life on these four
cardinal principles: life founded on the faith of the Apostles transmitted
in the living Tradition of the Church, fraternal communion, the Eucharist
and prayer. Only in this way, being closely united to Christ, can the Church
effectively accomplish her mission, despite the limits and failures of her
members, despite the divisions, which the apostle Paul already had to
confront in the community of Corinth, as the second biblical reading for
this Sunday recalled: "I exhort you brothers to be united in what you say so
that there are not divisions among you, but be in perfect union of thought
and feeling" (1:10). The Apostle, in fact, knew that in the Christian
community of Corinth discord and division had sprung up; thus, with great
firmness he adds: "Is Christ divided?" (1:13). Speaking in this way he
acknowledges that every division in the Church is an offense to Christ; and,
at the same time, that it is always in him, the one Head and Lord, that we
can find unity among ourselves, by the inexhaustible power of his grace.
This is why the Gospel's summons is always relevant today: "Convert, because
the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 4:17). The serious commitment to
conversion to Christ is the way that will lead the Church, in the times
disposed by God, to full visible unity. The ecumenical encounters that are
increasing throughout the world are a sign of this. Here in Rome, besides
various ecumenical delegations being present, tomorrow will begin a session
of the Commission for Dialogue Between the Catholic Church and the Ancient
Eastern Churches. And the day after tomorrow, the Week of Prayer for Unity
Among Christians will conclude with the solemn celebration of the vespers of
the feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the
Church, always accompany us along this path.
After reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted to the pilgrims in
various languages. In English he said:]
I am pleased to greet the English-speaking pilgrims present at this Angelus
prayer. In the liturgy today, we hear of the generous response of the first
disciples to the call of Christ. May each of us continually recognize the
call of the Lord in our own lives and engage in the work of evangelization
without fear or reluctance. Entrusting you to the care of Mary, Mother of
the Church, I invoke upon you and your families God’s abundant blessings.
© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
[At the end of the greetings, he said in Italian:]
I wish everyone a good Sunday and a good week!
On Praying for
"Prayer Has Always Been the Constant Attitude of the Disciples of Christ"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict
XVI gave today during the general audience in Paul VI Hall. In his address,
the Pope centered his meditation on the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity,
which is being held these days with the theme "They devoted themselves to
the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the
prayers" (Acts 2:42).
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, in which all
believers in Christ are invited to join in prayer to witness the profound
bond that exists among them and to invoke the gift of full communion.
Providential is the fact that prayer is placed at the center of the path to
build unity: this reminds us, once again, that unity cannot be a simple
product of human action; it is above all a gift of God, which entails growth
in communion with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Vatican Council
II states "[t]hese prayers in communion are, without a doubt, a very
effective means to implore the grace of unity and constitute a genuine
manifestation of the bonds with which Catholics remain united with the
separated brethren: 'For where two or three are gathered in my name, there
am I in the midst of them' (Matthew18:20)" ("Decree Unitatis Redintegratio,"
No. 8). The path to visible unity among all Christians resides in prayer,
because fundamentally we do not "build" unity, but it is "built" by God, it
comes from Him, from the Trinitarian Mystery, from the unity of the Father
with the Son in the dialogue of love which is the Holy Spirit and our
ecumenical effort should be open to divine action, it must be a daily
invocation of God's help. The Church is His and not ours.
The theme chosen this year for the Week of Prayer makes reference to the
experience of the early Christian community of Jerusalem, just as it is
described in the Acts of the Apostles (we have heard the text): "And they
devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking
of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42). We must consider that already at the
moment of Pentecost the Holy Spirit descended on persons of different
language and culture: this means that the Church embraces from the beginning
people of different origins and, yet, precisely from these differences the
Spirit creates one body. Pentecost, as the beginning of the Church, marks
the enlargement of God's Covenant with all creatures, with all peoples at
all times, so that the whole of creation will walk towards its true
objective: to be a place of unity and love.
In the passage quoted from the Acts of the Apostles, four characteristics
define the early Christian community of Jerusalem as a place of unity and
love, and St. Luke does not wish to describe only an event of the past. He
offers it to us as model, as norm for the present Church, because these four
characteristics must always constitute the life of the Church. The first
characteristic is to be united in listening to the teachings of the
Apostles, in fraternal communion, in the breaking of the bread and in
prayer. As I already mentioned, these four elements are still today the
pillars of the life of every Christian community and constitute just one
solid foundation on which to base our search for the visible unity of the
First of all we have listening to the teaching of the Apostles, that is,
listening to the testimony that they give of the mission, life, death and
resurrection of the Lord Jesus. It is what Paul calls simply the "Gospel."
The first Christians received the Gospel from the mouth of the Apostles,
they were united to hear it and to proclaim it, since the Gospel, as Saint
Paul affirms, "is the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith"
(Romans 1:16). Still today, the community of believers recognizes, in the
reference to the teaching of the Apostles, their own norm of faith: every
effort made for the building of unity between Christians passes through the
deepening of fidelity to the depositum fidei which the Apostles transmit to
us. Firmness in the faith is the basis of our communion, it is the basis of
The second element is fraternal communion. In the times of the early
Christian community, as also in our days, this is the most tangible
expression, above all for the outside world, of the unity among the
disciples of the Lord. We read in the Acts of the Apostles -- we have heard
it -- that the first Christians held everything in common and that those who
had properties and goods sold them to distribute to the needy (cf. Acts
2:44-45). This communion of their goods has found, in the history of the
Church, new forms of expression. One of these, in particular, is that of the
fraternal relationship and friendship built between Christians of different
confessions. The history of the ecumenical movement is marked by
difficulties and uncertainties, but it is also a history of fraternity, of
cooperation and of human and spiritual communion, which has changed in a
significant way the relations between believers in the Lord Jesus: we are
all committed to continue on this path. Hence, the second element is
communion which is, first of all, communion with God through faith, but
communion with God creates communion among ourselves and is translated
necessarily into the concrete communion of which the Acts of the Apostles
speak, that is, full communion. No one should be hungry in the Christian
community, no one should be poor: it is a fundamental obligation. Communion
with God, made flesh in fraternal communion, is translated, concretely, in
social effort, in Christian charity, in justice.
Third element. Essential also in the life of the early community of
Jerusalem was the moment of the breaking of the bread, in which the Lord
himself makes himself present with the only sacrifice of the Cross in his
giving himself completely for the life of his friends: "This is my Body
given in sacrifice for you ... this is the chalice of my Blood ... shed for
you." "The Church lives from the Eucharist. This truth does not express only
a daily experience of faith, but encloses in synthesis the nucleus of the
mystery of the Church" (Encyclical "Ecclesia de Eucharistia," No. 1).
Communion in Christ's sacrifice is the culmination of our union with God and
therefore also represents the plenitude of the unity of the disciples of
Christ, full communion. During this Week of Prayer for Unity the lament is
particularly alive due to the impossibility of sharing the same Eucharistic
table, sign that we are still far from the realization of that unity for
which Christ prayed. This painful experience, which confers a penitential
dimension to our prayer, must become the motive for a still more generous
effort, on the part of all, in order that, eliminating all the obstacles for
full communion, the day will come in which it will be possible to gather
around the table of the Lord, to break the Eucharistic bread together and
all drink from the same chalice.
Finally, prayer, or as St. Luke says, "the prayers," is the fourth
characteristic of the early Church of Jerusalem described in the book of the
Acts of the Apostles. Prayer has always been the constant attitude of the
disciples of Christ, what supports their daily lives in obedience to the
will of God, as attested to us also by the words of the Apostle Paul, who
writes to the Thessalonians in his first letter "[r]ejoice always, pray
constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in
Christ Jesus for you" (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Ephesians 6:18). Christian
prayer, participation in Jesus' prayer is par excellence a filial
experience, as attested to us in the words of the Our Father, prayer of the
family -- the "we" of the children of God, of the brothers and sisters --
that speaks to a common Father. To be in an attitude of prayer, hence,
implies being open to fraternity. Only in the "we" can we say the Our
Father. Let us open ourselves to fraternity which stems from being children
of the one heavenly Father and hence disposed to forgiveness and
Dear brothers and sisters, as disciples of the Lord we have a common
responsibility to the world, we must carry out a common service: as the
first Christian community of Jerusalem, beginning from what we already
share, we must give a strong witness, founded spiritually and supported by
reason, of the only God who has revealed Himself and who speaks to us in
Christ, to be bearers of a message that directs and illumines the path of
the man of our time, often deprived of clear and valid points of reference.
Hence, it is important to grow each day in mutual love, committing ourselves
to overcome those barriers that still exist among Christians; to feel that a
true interior unity exists among all those who follow the Lord; to
collaborate as much as possible, working together on the questions that are
still open; and above all, to be conscious that in this itinerary the Lord
must assist us, he still has to help us much because, without Him, alone,
without "abiding in Him," we can do nothing (cf. John 15:5).
Dear friends, once again it is in prayer where we find ourselves gathered --
particularly during this week -- together with all those who confess their
faith in Jesus Christ, Son of God: let us persevere in it, let us be people
of prayer, imploring from God the gift of unity, so that his plan of
salvation and reconciliation will be fulfilled in the whole world. Thank
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in several languages. In English, he
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
During the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, all the Lord's followers are
asked to implore the gift of full communion. This year's theme -- "They
devoted themselves to the Apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking
of bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42) -- invites us to reflect on four
pillars of unity found in the life of the early Church. The first is
fidelity to the Gospel of Jesus Christ proclaimed by the Apostles. The
second is fraternal communion, a contemporary expression of which is seen in
the growing ecumenical friendship among Christians. The third is the
breaking of the bread; although the inability of separated Christians to
share the same Eucharistic table is a reminder that we are still far from
the unity which Christ wills for his disciples, it is also an incentive to
greater efforts to remove every obstacle to that unity. Finally, prayer
itself helps us realize that we are children of the one heavenly Father,
called to forgiveness and reconciliation. During this Week, let us pray that
all Christians will grow in fidelity to the Gospel, in fraternal unity and
in missionary zeal, in order to draw all men and women into the saving unity
of Christ's Church.
I offer a warm welcome to the students and staff of the Bossey Graduate
School of Ecumenical Studies. I thank the choir from Finland for their
praise of God in song. To all the English-speaking pilgrims present at
today's Audience, including those from Australia, Canada and the United
States, I invoke an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord.
Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Delegation of Lutheran Church of Finland
"That the Spirit of Truth Will Lead Us to an Ever Greater Love and
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict
XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience an ecumenical delegation
of the Lutheran Church of Finland, on the occasion of its annual pilgrimage
to Rome to celebrate the feast of St. Henrik of Uppsala, the country's
* * *
Dear Friends from Finland!
With great joy I welcome you on the occasion of your annual ecumenical
pilgrimage to Rome to celebrate the feast of St. Henrik, patron of your
beloved land. Every year, in this period, your traditional pilgrimage
attests to the sincere, friendly and collaborative relations which have been
established between Lutherans and Catholics and, in general, between all
Christians of your country.
Although we have yet to attain the objective of the ecumenical movement or
the full unity of the faith, many elements of agreement and rapprochement
have matured, which reinforce us in our general desire to fulfill the will
of Our Lord Jesus Christ "[t]hat all may be one" (John 17:21). A recently
achieved result worthy of attention is the final report on the question of
justification in the life of the Church. This report was written by the
group of Nordic Catholic-Lutheran dialogue in Finland and Sweden, whose
members held meetings during last year.
In theology and in the faith everything is united; hence a greater and
profound common understanding will also help us to understand better,
together, the nature of the Church and, as mentioned, the episcopal
ministry, so that the unity of the Church can be found in a concrete way and
thus be able to explain the faith to the men of today who question
themselves, and make it more comprehensible, so that they see that He is the
answer, that Christ is the Redeemer of us all. Therefore, our hope is alive
that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, many diligent and competent
persons who work in the ecumenical realm, will be able to make their
contribution to the achievement of this great ecumenical endeavor always
guided by the Holy Spirit.
This said, it is understood that the efficacy of our efforts cannot come
solely from study and debate but depends above all on our constant prayer,
on our life in keeping with the will of God, because ecumenism is not our
work but the fruit of God's action.
At the same time, we are conscious of the fact that, in the last years, the
ecumenical path has become, from some points of view, more difficult and
certainly more exacting. Questions will be posed in regard to the method and
ecumenical achievements of the last years, in addition to the uncertainty of
the future, the problems of our time with faith in general.
From this perspective, your annual pilgrimage to Rome for the feast of St.
Henrik is considered an important event, a sign and reinforcement of our
ecumenical efforts, and of our certainty that we must walk together and that
Christ is the way for humanity. Your pilgrimage helps us to look back with
joy to see what has been achieved up to now and to look to the future with
the desire of assuming a task full of responsibility and faith. On the
occasion of your visit we all wish to strengthen our belief that the Holy
Spirit, who awakens us, supports us and has made the ecumenical movement
fruitful, will continue to do so in the future.
I firmly hope that your visit to Rome will strengthen the future
collaboration between Lutherans and Catholics, between all the Christians of
Finland. In view of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we want to pray
so that the spirit of truth will lead us to an ever greater love and
fraternity. May God give you his abundant blessings in this New Year that
has just begun.
Benedict XVI's to World
Let's "Reflect Anew on Where Our Journey Toward
Unity Has Led Us"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 16, 2010 - Here is the text of the greeting Benedict XVI
delivered today upon receiving in audience a delegation of the Lutheran
World Federation, led by Bishop Munib Younan, its president, who is also the
bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Jordan and the Holy Land.
* * *
Dear Bishop Younan, dear Lutheran Friends,
I am happy to greet the representatives of the Lutheran World Federation on
the occasion of your official visit to Rome. I offer my cordial best wishes
to Bishop Munib Younan and the Reverend Martin Junge on their respective
elections as President and General Secretary, together with my prayers for
their term of service.
Five years ago, at the beginning of my pontificate, I had the joy of
receiving your predecessors and expressing my hope that the close contacts
and intensive dialogue which have characterized ecumenical relations between
Catholics and Lutherans would continue to bear rich fruit. With gratitude we
can take stock of the many significant fruits produced by these decades of
bilateral discussions. With God’s help it has been possible slowly and
patiently to remove barriers and to foster visible bonds of unity by means
of theological dialogue and practical cooperation, especially at the level
of local communities.
Last year marked the tenth anniversary of the signing of the Joint
Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, which has proved a significant
step along the difficult path towards re-establishing full unity among
Christians and a stimulus to further ecumenical discussion. In these years
leading up to the five-hundredth anniversary of the events of fifteen
seventeen, Catholics and Lutherans are called to reflect anew on where our
journey toward unity has led us and to implore the Lord’s guidance and help
for the future. I am pleased to note that, for the occasion, the
International Lutheran – Roman Catholic Commission on Unity is preparing a
joint text which will document what Lutherans and Catholics are able to say
together at this point regarding our closer relations after almost five
centuries of separation. In order to clarify further the understanding of
the Church, which is the main focus of ecumenical dialogue today, the
Commission is studying the theme: Baptism and Growing Church Communion. It
is my hope that these ecumenical activities will provide fresh opportunities
for Catholics and Lutherans to grow closer in their lives, their witness to
the Gospel, and their efforts to bring the light of Christ to all dimensions
In these days of joyful preparation for the celebration of Christmas, let us
entrust one another, and our common quest for Christian unity to the Lord,
who is himself the genuine newness which surpasses all our human
expectations (cf. Irenaeus, Adv. Haer., IV, 34, 1).
May the peace and joy of this Christmas season be with you all!
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Lutheran Federation's Greeting to Benedict XVI
"We Are Called ... to Our Common Vocation of Witnessing to the World"
GENEVA, Switzerland, DEC. 16, 2010 - Here is the text of the message
delivered today to Benedict XVI by Bishop Munib Younan, the president of the
Lutheran World Federation and bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of
Jordan and the Holy Land. The Pope received in audience today the bishop and
a delegation of the Lutheran federation.
* * *
On behalf of The Lutheran World Federation, I greet you in the Name of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We thank you for receiving us this morning, in
this holy season of Advent. Advent is both earnest and festive; it holds
together memory and hope. Thus it is a fitting time for us to meet together
and to hold one another in our prayers.
In this season of renewal and beginning, we are here today as the new
leadership of our LWF communion of churches. I was elected President in July
at our Eleventh Assembly in Stuttgart, Germany. With me are the Vice
Presidents from Africa, Central Eastern Europe, and the Nordic countries,
and also our new General Secretary, Rev. Martin Junge, who began his term of
office last month. Our delegation represents each region of our global
As we begin our new roles, we welcome the opportunity for this audience. It
is for us a sign which honors the remarkable developments between our
churches during recent years, and a sign of our hope for what lies ahead.
Within our own lifetimes, the climate of relations between Lutherans and
Catholics has warmed dramatically – and this climate change has been for the
good! Around the world our churches live in a new ecology of relationship.
We too celebrated last month, when the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity observed its fiftieth anniversary. Today we want to assure
you of the strength of our commitment to
continue deepening our life together.
We rejoice because of the ways in which we have reached new levels of
theological understanding and agreement, notably in the Joint Declaration on
the Doctrine of Justification. This is a landmark ecumenical accomplishment:
its implications are still being explored in many local contexts around the
world and in our international theological dialogue.
We rejoice also because of the many ways in which we can work together in
diakonia and advocacy. I would mention especially two:
First, we are united in commitment to address the injustices and idolatries
exposed by the continuing global financial crisis. Your Holiness, we are
grateful for the moral leadership you have provided consistently on these
challenges. For our General Secretary also, this is a signature issue, with
special attention to addressing the unfair burdens of illegitimate debt. Our
witness will be stronger if we will work together on these problems. Thus we
look forward to forging multiple cooperations with our Catholic sisters and
brothers at all levels, locally as well as globally.
Second, an issue especially dear to my own heart, of course, is our common
vision for a just peace in the Holy Land. Like you, we Lutherans have
supported a two-state solution and a shared Jerusalem. Even when outward
signs are discouraging, both of us will continue to work toward resolution
of conflicts, which have persisted too long and extracted too great a cost.
A just peace is possible in the Middle East. This fall I was pleased to
participate in the Synod of Bishops devoted to the Christians in the Middle
East. It is vital to have a coordinated effort for Christians in the Middle
East. What is the Holy Land without indigenous Christians?
Our Stuttgart Assembly this past summer gave The Lutheran World Federation
other directions which also are promising for our common witness to the
Prominent among these was movement toward reconciliation. At this Assembly,
our Communion took a memorable action to ask forgiveness from Anabaptists
for the legacies of persecutions in the sixteenth century. In preparing for
this act, we were especially mindful of those traditions, including
Catholics, who also had been persecutors. As Cardinal Kasper said to us,
healing of memories with Mennonites is a common task for our communities.
Then, with other ecumenical guests, he stood in solemn solidarity with the
action. This was a moment when the Spirit of God could be felt in the
Assembly. We believe that we took this action on behalf of the whole body of
Christ. We pray that this spirit of repentance, reconciliation and renewal
will continue to grow among us.
Above all, this was a praying Assembly. The theme itself was a prayer, “Give
us today our daily bread.” The theme of bread unfolded to embrace the
dimensions of care for the hungry; hunger for justice; and hunger for the
Bread of Life. This Bread of Life appears in this small gift, which I have
brought from the Holy Land for Your Holiness. It depicts a meal shared with
the One who taught us to pray for daily bread. But of course first of all it
calls to mind that Eucharistic meal at which the host is himself the Bread
offered to us.
Each of us can bear witness to the importance of this sacramental meal in
nurturing our own Christian lives. Each of us also knows the yearning for
the time when we will be able to celebrate this feast together.
Today we want to reaffirm our commitment to moving closer toward one another
around this Table of the Lord, which Luther saw as the “summa evangelii.”
This is a commitment of our prayers, and also of our actions. While we
rejoice in each small step which brings us closer together, we do not want
to be content with these steps. We remain strong in hope – both for the full
visible unity of Christ’s Church and for the Eucharistic communion which is
so crucial a manifestation of that unity.
I emphasize this hope especially because we Lutherans already look toward
2017, the 500th anniversary of the Reformation movement. We recognize that
this will be a test case for ecumenical relations. For us there is joy in
the liberating power of the gospel proclaimed afresh by the Reformers, and
we will celebrate that. At the same time, we intend our anniversary to be
ecumenically accountable: to recognize both damaging aspects of the
Reformation and ecumenical progress since the last major Reformation
anniversary. But we cannot achieve this ecumenical accountability on our
own, without your help. We are called,
both Lutherans and Catholics, to our common vocation of witnessing to the
world for the sake of Christ’s kingdom. Thus we invite you to work together
with us in preparing this anniversary, so that in 2017 we are closer to
sharing in the Bread of Life than we are today.
In love, we ask God to bless your distinctive ministry, and the entire
Catholic Church. We ask that you remember in your prayers The Lutheran World
Federation and our 145 member churches, even as we continue to remember you
in our petitions to the God who comes to us anew this Advent. As we approach
Christmas, I would greet you with the words from John, “The Word became
flesh and dwelt among us.”
Papal Note to Bartholomew I on Feast of St. Andrew
"We Need to Continue Our Progress ... Toward Full
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message
Benedict XVI sent today to the Orthodox ecumenical patriarch, Bartholomew I,
on the occasion of today's feast of St. Andrew, patron of that patriarchate.
The message was delivered by Cardinal Kurt Koch, president of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who led a delegation from the Holy
See to participate in the celebrations in Istanbul.
* * *
To His Holiness Bartholomaios I
Archbishop of Constantinople
It is with great joy that I write this letter to you, to be delivered by my
Venerable Brother Cardinal Kurt Koch, President of the Pontifical Council
for the Promotion of Christian Unity, on the occasion of the Feast of Saint
Andrew the Apostle, brother of Saint Peter and Patron of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate, in order to wish Your Holiness and the Members of the Holy
Synod, the clergy, the monks and all the faithful an abundance of heavenly
gifts and divine blessings.
On this joyful feast-day, in union with all my Catholic brothers and
sisters, I join you in giving thanks to God for the wonders he has worked,
in his infinite mercy, through the mission and martyrdom of Saint Andrew. By
generously offering their lives in sacrifice for the Lord and for their
brethren, the Apostles proved the credibility of the Good News that they
proclaimed to the ends of the known world. The Feast of the Apostle, which
falls on this day in the liturgical calendars of both East and West, issues
a strong summons to all those who by God’s grace and through the gift of
Baptism have accepted that message of salvation to renew their fidelity to
the Apostolic teaching and to become tireless heralds of faith in Christ
through their words and the witness of their lives.
In modern times, this summons is as urgent as ever and it applies to all
Christians. In a world marked by growing interdependence and solidarity, we
are called to proclaim with renewed conviction the truth of the Gospel and
to present the Risen Lord as the answer to the deepest questions and
spiritual aspirations of the men and women of our day.
If we are to succeed in this great task, we need to continue our progress
along the path towards full communion, demonstrating that we have already
united our efforts for a common witness to the Gospel before the people of
our day. For this reason I would like to express my sincere gratitude to
Your Holiness and to the Ecumenical Patriarchate for the generous
hospitality offered last October on the island of Rhodes to the Delegates of
the Catholic Episcopal Conferences of Europe who came together with
representatives of the Orthodox Churches in Europe for the Second
Catholic-Orthodox Forum on the theme "Church-State Relations: Theological
and Historical Perspectives".
Your Holiness, I am following attentively your wise efforts for the good of
Orthodoxy and for the promotion of Christian values in many international
contexts. Assuring you of a remembrance in my prayers on this Feast of Saint
Andrew the Apostle, I renew my good wishes for peace, well-being and
abundant spiritual blessings to you and to all the faithful.
With sentiments of esteem and spiritual closeness, I gladly extend to you a
fraternal embrace in the name of our one Lord Jesus Christ.
From the Vatican, 30 November 2010
BENEDICTUS PP XVI
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Address to Orthodox Delegation
"Your Presence ... Brings Great Gladness
to the Hearts of Us All"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2010 - Here is the English-language address Benedict
XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience a delegation sent by the
Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople to Rome to celebrate the Solemnity
of Sts. Peter and Paul.
The delegation is led by Metropolitan Gennadios of Sassima, who is the
co-secretary of the Joint International Mixed Commission for Theological
Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, and vice
moderator of the central committee of the World Council of Churches in
The other members include Bishop Bartholomaios (Ioannis Kessidis) of
Arianzos, assistant to the metropolitan of Germany; and Deacon Theodoros
Meimaris of the Patriarchal See of Fanar.
* * *
Dear Brothers in Christ,
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father" (Colossians 1:2). With great
joy and heartfelt affection I welcome you in the Lord to this City of Rome,
on the occasion of the annual celebration of the martyrdom of Saints Peter
and Paul. Their feast, which the Catholic Church and the Orthodox Churches
celebrate on the same day, is one of the most ancient of the liturgical
year, and it testifies to a time when our communities were living in full
communion with one another. Your presence here today -- for which I am
deeply grateful to the Patriarch of Constantinople, His Holiness
Bartholomaios I, and to the Holy Synod of the Ecumenical Patriarchate --
brings great gladness to the hearts of us all.
I thank the Lord that the relations between us are characterized by
sentiments of mutual trust, esteem and fraternity, as is amply testified by
the many meetings that have already taken place in the course of this year.
All this gives grounds for hope that Catholic-Orthodox dialogue will also
continue to make significant progress. Your Eminence is aware that the Joint
International Commission for Theological Dialogue, of which you are Joint
Secretary, is at a crucial point, having begun last October in Paphos to
discuss the "The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the Communion of the Church
in the First Millennium". With all our hearts we pray that, enlightened by
the Holy Spirit, the Members of the Commission will continue along this path
during the forthcoming plenary session in Vienna, and devote to it the time
needed for thorough study of this delicate and important issue. For me it is
an encouraging sign that Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomaios I and the Holy
Synod of Constantinople share our firm conviction of the importance of this
dialogue, as His Holiness stated so clearly in the Patriarchal and Synodal
Encyclical Letter on the occasion of Orthodoxy Sunday on 21 February 2010.
In the forthcoming Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of
Bishops, which I have convoked for the month of October here in Rome, I am
certain that the theme of ecumenical cooperation between the Christians of
that region will receive great attention. Indeed, it is highlighted in the
Instrumentum Laboris, which I consigned to the Catholic Bishops of the
Middle East during my recent visit to Cyprus, where I was received with
great fraternal warmth by His Beatitude Chrysostomos II, Archbishop of Nea
Justiniana and All Cyprus. The difficulties that the Christians of the
Middle East are experiencing are in large measure common to all: living as a
minority, and yearning for authentic religious freedom and for peace.
Dialogue is needed with the Islamic and Jewish communities. In this context
I shall be very pleased to welcome the Fraternal Delegation which the
Ecumenical Patriarch will send in order to participate in the work of the
Your Eminence, dear members of the Delegation, I thank you for your visit. I
ask you to convey my fraternal greetings to His Holiness Bartholomaios I, to
the Holy Synod, to the clergy and all the faithful of the Ecumenical
Patriarchate. Through the intercession of the Apostles Peter and Paul, may
the Lord grant us abundant blessings, and may he keep us always in his love.
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Words at Concert
of Moscow Patriarchate
"Let Us Make Europe Breathe With Its Two Lungs
VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
address Benedict XVI delivered Thursday on the occasion of the concert
sponsored by the Orthodox Patriarchate of Moscow in the Holy Father's honor.
The event marked the Pontiff's recent birthday and fifth anniversary of his
pontificate, and closed the "Days of Russian Culture and Spirituality in the
* * *
"Praise the name of the Lord, give praise, O servants of the Lord. Praise
the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing to his name, for he is great. Thy name,
O Lord, endures forever, thy renown, O Lord, throughout the ages. Alleluia."
Venerable Brothers, Illustrious Gentlemen and Ladies, Dear Brothers and
We have just heard in a sublime melody the words of Psalm 135, which
interpret our sentiments of praise and gratitude to the Lord, as well as our
intense interior joy for this moment of meeting and friendship with our
beloved brothers of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
On the occasion of my birthday and of the fifth anniversary of my election
as Successor of Peter, His Holiness Kirill I, patriarch of Moscow and All
Russia, wished to offer me, along with the most appreciated words of his
message, this extraordinary musical moment, presented by Metropolitan
Hilarion of Volokolamsk, president of the Department for External Relations
of the Patriarchate of Moscow, and author of the symphony that has just been
Hence, my profound gratitude goes first of all to His Holiness patriarch
Kirill. I address to him my fraternal and cordial greeting, hoping
profoundly that praise to the Lord and commitment to the progress of peace
and harmony between peoples will increasingly unite us and make us grow in
harmony of intentions and actions. Hence, my heartfelt thanks to
Metropolitan Hilarion, for the greeting he addressed to me, congratulating
him for his artistic creativity, which we have been able to appreciate. With
him I greet with profound affection the delegation of the Patriarchate of
Moscow and the illustrious representatives of the government of the Russian
Federation. I address my cordial greeting to the cardinals and bishops here
present, in particular Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity and to Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi,
president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, who, with their dicasteries
and in close collaboration with the representatives of the patriarchate,
organized the "Days of Russian Culture and Spirituality in the Vatican."
Moreover, I greet the illustrious ambassadors, the distinguished authorities
and all of you, dear friends, brothers and sisters, particularly the Russian
communities present in Rome and in Italy, who are participating in this
moment of joy and celebration.
Sealed on this occasion in a truly exceptional and thought-provoking way is
the music, the music of Russia yesterday and today, which was proposed to us
with great mastery by the National Orchestra of Russia, directed by maestro
Carlo Ponti, by the Synodal Choir of Moscow, and by the Horn Capella of St.
Petersburg. I am profoundly grateful to all the artists for the talent,
commitment and passion with which they present to the whole world the
masterpieces of the Russian musical tradition.
Present in a profound way in these works, of which today we have heard
significant passages, is the soul of the Russian people, and with it the
Christian faith, which find an extraordinary expression precisely in the
Divine Liturgy and the liturgical singing that always accompanies it. There
is, in fact, a profound original bond, between Russian music and liturgical
singing: In the liturgy and from the liturgy is unleashed and begins to a
great extent the artistic creativity of Russian musicians to create
masterpieces that merit being better known in the Western world. Today we
have had the joy of hearing passages of great Russian artists of the 19th
and 20th centuries, such as Mussorgsky and Rimsky-Korsakov, Tchaikovsky and
Rachmaninoff. These composers, in particular the latter, have been able to
take recourse to the musical-liturgical patrimony of the Russian tradition,
elaborating it again and harmonizing it with musical motifs and experiences
of the West and closer to modernity. In this line, I believe, should also be
situated the work of Metropolitan Hilarion.
In music, therefore, already anticipated and in a certain sense realized is
the encounter, the dialogue, the synergy between East and West, as well as
between tradition and modernity. The Venerable John Paul II thought in fact
of a similar unitarian and harmonious vision of Europe when, in presenting
again the image suggested by Vyacheslav Ivanovich Ivanov of the "two lungs"
with which Europe must breathe again, he hoped that there would be renewed
awareness of the profound and common cultural and religious roots of the
European Continent, without which today's Europe would be deprived of a soul
and marked by a reductive and partial vision. In fact to reflect these
problems better a Symposium was held yesterday, organized by the
Patriarchate of Moscow, by the dicastery for Promoting Christian Unity and
by that of Culture, on the subject "Orthodox and Catholics in Today's
Europe. The Christian Roots and Common Cultural Patrimony of East and West."
As I have stated on several occasions, contemporary culture, particularly
European culture, runs the risk of amnesia, of forgetfulness and, therefore,
of abandonment of the extraordinary patrimony fostered and inspired by the
Christian faith, which constitutes the essential vertebral column of
European culture, and not only of European culture. The Christian roots of
Europe, in fact, are constituted not only by religious life and the
testimony of so many generations of believers, but also by the inestimable
cultural and artistic patrimony, pride and precious resource of the peoples
and countries in which the Christian faith, in its different manifestations,
has dialogued with cultures and art, has animated and inspired them,
fostering and promoting as never before the creativity of the human genius.
Today, also, these roots are alive and fecund, in the East and West, and
they can, more than that, must inspire a new humanism, a new season of
authentic human progress, to respond effectively to the numerous and at
times crucial challenges that our Christian communities and our societies
must face, beginning with secularization, which not only leads to doing
without God and his plan, but which ends by denying human dignity itself, in
a society regulated solely by egotistical interests.
Let us make Europe breathe with its two lungs again, let us again give a
soul not only to believers but to all peoples of the Continent, let us
promote confidence and hope again, rooting them in the age-old experience of
the Christian faith! At this moment, the consistent, generous and courageous
witness of believers cannot be lacking so that together we can look at our
common future, a future in which liberty and the dignity of every man and
woman are recognized as a fundamental value and that openness to the
Transcendent is valued, the experience of faith as constitutive dimension of
In the passage by Mussorgsky, entitled "The Angel Declared," we have heard
the words addressed by the Angel to Mary and, hence, addressed also to us:
"Rejoice!" The reason for joy is clear: Christ has resurrected from the
sepulcher "and has risen from the dead." Dear brothers and sisters, the joy
of the risen Christ animates and encourages us and supports us in our
journey of faith and Christian witness to offer authentic joy and solid hope
to the world, to offer valid reasons for confidence to humanity, to the
peoples of Europe, whom I entrust to the maternal and powerful intercession
of the Virgin Mary.
[Speaking in Russian, he said:]
I renew my gratitude to patriarch Kirill, to Metropolitan Hilarion, to the
Russian representatives, to the orchestra, to the choirs, to the organizers
and to all those present.
[In Italian, he concluded:]
May the Lord's abundant blessings descend on all of you and on your loved
Moscow Patriarch's Message to Benedict XVI
"To Understand a People, It Is Necessary to Listen to Its Music"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
message sent Thursday by Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow and
All Russia, to Benedict XVI on the occasion of the concert sponsored by the
patriarchate in the Holy Father's honor. The event marked the Pontiff's
recent birthday and fifth anniversary of his pontificate, and closed the
"Days of Russian Culture and Spirituality in the Vatican."
* * *
Holiness, Beloved Brother in Christ,
Eminences, Excellencies, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Ladies and Gentlemen:
My heartfelt greetings to Your Holiness, as well as to all the participants
in the concert of Russian sacred music, organized by the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity, by the Pontifical Council for Culture, and by
the Department of External Relations of the Patriarchate of Moscow.
For the first time in history, three exceptional music groups -- the Russian
National Orchestra, the Synodal Choir of Moscow and the Horns Chapel of
Saint Petersburg -- meet today in Paul VI Hall, in the Vatican, to perform
works of great Russian composers. Present in the Hall are the head of the
Catholic Church, representatives of the episcopate and clergy, monks and
nuns, laymen. All this makes the moment you are living an event of great
importance in the history of cultural exchanges between our Churches.
Music is a particular language that gives us the possibility to communicate
with our hearts. Music is able to transmit sentiments of the human spirit
and spiritual states that words cannot describe.
To understand a people, it is necessary to listen to its music. And this
applies not only to Orthodox liturgical music, of which today some of the
best realizations will be performed, but also to the work of the Russian
composers written for concert halls. In the years of persecutions against
the Church and of the dominance of State atheism, when the majority of the
population did not have access to sacred music, these works, together with
the master works of Russian literature and figurative art, contributed to
take the evangelical proclamation, proposing to the secular world ideals of
great moral and spiritual depth. "Praise him with trumpet sound; praise him
with lute and harp! Praise him with timbrel and dance; praise him with
strings and pipe!" (Psalm 150: 3-4). These words of the Psalm, which will
also resonate today in your Hall, enable us to see that music can be
permeated with the spirit of prayer and contemplation of God. Even secular
music can transmit a spiritual content.
I pray for God's support to Your Holiness and to all the guests and
participants in the concert.
Papal Message to
Ecumenical Congress in Germany
"We Cannot Ourselves Achieve the Great Things in
VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2010 - Here is a translation of the German-language
message sent by Benedict XVI to participants in an ecumenical congress that
ended today in Munich, Germany.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
From Rome I greet all those who are gathered at the "Theresienwiese" in
Munich for the liturgical celebration to open the second ecumenical "Kirchehntag."
I remember with joy the days when I lived in the beautiful capital of
Bavaria as the archbishop of Munich and Freising. I thus address a special
greeting to the Archbishop of Munich and Freising, Reinhard Marx, and to the
Lutheran regional bishop, Johannes Friedrich. I greet all the German bishops
and of many countries of the world, and in a special way, also the
representatives of the other Churches and ecclesial communities and all the
Christians who are participating in this ecumenical event. I greet the
representatives of public life too and all those who are present through
radio and television. May the peace of the risen Lord be with all of you!
"So That You Might have Hope:" with this motto you are gathered in Munich.
You want to send a signal of hope to the Church and to society at a
difficult time. I thank you very much for this. In fact, our world has need
of hope, our time has need of hope. But is the Church a place of hope? In
recent months we have had to be repeatedly confronted with news that could
take away the Church's joy, that darkened it as a place of hope. Like the
servants of the householder in the Gospel parable about the kingdom of God,
we too want to ask the Lord: "Lord, did you not sow good seed in your field?
Where did the weeds come from?" (Matthew 13:27). Yes, with his Word and with
the sacrifice of his life the Lord has truly sown good seed in the field of
this earth. It has grown and is growing. We need not think only of the great
luminous figures of history, whom the Church has recognized with the title
"saints," who have been completely permeated by God, who gave them their
splendor. Each of us also knows ordinary persons, not mentioned in any
newspaper or told of in any history book, who grew through the faith
achieving great humanity and goodness.
In his impassioned dispute with God over sparing the city of Sodom, Abraham
obtained assurance from the Lord of the Universe that if there were ten just
people there he would not destroy the city (cf. Genesis 18: 22-33). Thanks
be to God, in our cities there are many more than ten just people! If we are
more attentive today, if we do not see only darkness, but also the light and
good in our time, we see how faith has made men pure and generous and
educates them in love. Again, the weeds are also present within in the
Church and among those whom the Lord has welcomed into his service in a
special way. But God's light has not been extinguished, the good seed has
not been destroyed by the bad seed.
"So that You Might have Hope:" This phrase intends first of all to invite us
not to lose sight of the good and good people. It intends to invite us to be
good ourselves and to become good always, it intends to invite us to dispute
with God for the good of the world, like Abraham, trying to live from God's
Is the Church a place of hope? Yes, since from it the Word of God comes to
us again and again and always, the Word that purifies us and shows us the
path of faith. It is because in it the Lord continues to give us himself, in
the grace of the sacraments, in the word of reconciliation, in the many
gifts of his contemplation. Nothing can obscure or destroy all of that. We
must be joyful for this in the midst of all tribulations. If we speak of the
Church as the place of the hope that comes from God, then that also entails
an examination of conscience: What do I do with the hope that the Lord has
granted us? Do I really let myself be formed by his Word? Do I let myself be
changed and healed by him? How many weeds are in fact growing in me? Am I
disposed to pull them up? Am I grateful for the gift of forgiveness and
ready to forgive and heal in turn instead of condemning?
Let us ask once more: What is "hope," truly? The things that we can do by
ourselves are not the object of hope but rather a task that we must do with
the power of our reason, our will and our heart. But if we reflect on all
that we can and must do, then we see that we cannot do the greater things
that come to us only as a gift: friendship, love, joy, happiness. I would
like to note one more thing: We all want to live, and life too we alone
cannot give to ourselves. Almost no one today, however, still speaks of
eternal life, which in the past was the true object of hope. Because one
does not dare to hope in it, one must hope to obtain everything from the
present life. Setting aside hope in eternal life leads to a greediness for
life here and now, which almost inevitably becomes egoistic and, in the end,
remains unrealizable. Precisely when we want to take control of life as a
kind of good, it slips away.
But let us return. We cannot ourselves achieve the great things in life, we
can only hope for them. The glad tidings of the faith consist precisely in
this: The One who can give them to us exists. We will not be left alone. God
lives. God loves us. In Jesus Christ he has become one of us. I can speak to
him and he listens to me. Because of this, like Peter, in the confusion of
our times, that try to persuade us to believe in many other ways, we say:
"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life and we have
believed and know that you are the Holy One of God" (John 6:68-69).
Dear Friends, I wish for all of you who are gathered at the "Theresienwiese"
in Munich to be again overcome by the joy of being able to know God, to know
Christ and to know that he knows us. This is our hope and our joy in the
midst of the confusions of the present time.
From the Vatican, May 10, 2010
© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address at Synagogue of Rome
"May These Wounds Be Healed Forever!"
ROME, JAN. 17, 2010 - Here is a non-official translation provided by the
Vatican of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he visited the Synagogue
* * *
"What marvels the Lord worked for them!
What marvels the Lord worked for us:
Indeed we were glad" (Ps 126)
"How good and how pleasant it is
when brothers live in unity" (Ps 133)
Dear Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome,
President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities,
President of the Jewish Community of Rome,
Friends, Brothers and Sisters,
1. At the beginning of this encounter in the Great Synagogue of the Jews of
Rome, the Psalms which we have heard suggest to us the right spiritual
attitude in which to experience this particular and happy moment of grace:
the praise of the Lord, who has worked marvels for us and has gathered us in
his Hèsed, his merciful love, and thanksgiving to him for granting us this
opportunity to come together to strengthen the bonds which unite us and to
continue to travel together along the path of reconciliation and fraternity.
I wish to express first of all my sincere gratitude to you, Chief Rabbi,
Doctor Riccardo Di Segni, for your invitation and for the thoughtful words
which you have addressed to me. I wish to thank also the President of the
Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Mr Renzo Gattegna, and the President of
the Jewish Community of Rome, Mr Riccardo Pacifici, for their courteous
greetings. My thoughts go to the Authorities and to all present, and they
extend in a special way, to the entire Jewish Community of Rome and to all
who have worked to bring about this moment of encounter and friendship which
we now share.
When he came among you for the first time, as a Christian and as Pope, my
Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, almost 24 years ago, wanted to make a
decisive contribution to strengthening the good relations between our two
communities, so as to overcome every misconception and prejudice. My visit
forms a part of the journey already begun, to confirm and deepen it. With
sentiments of heartfelt appreciation, I come among you to express to you the
esteem and the affection which the Bishop and the Church of Rome, as well as
the entire Catholic Church, have towards this Community and all Jewish
communities around the world.
2. The teaching of the Second Vatican Council has represented for Catholics
a clear landmark to which constant reference is made in our attitude and our
relations with the Jewish people, marking a new and significant stage. The
Council gave a strong impetus to our irrevocable commitment to pursue the
path of dialogue, fraternity and friendship, a journey which has been
deepened and developed in the last forty years, through important steps and
significant gestures. Among them, I should mention once again the historic
visit by my Venerable Predecessor to this Synagogue on 13 April 1986, the
numerous meetings he had with Jewish representatives, both here in Rome and
during his Apostolic Visits throughout the world, the Jubilee Pilgrimage
which he made to the Holy Land in the year 2000, the various documents of
the Holy See which, following the Second Vatican Council's Declaration
Nostra Aetate, have made helpful contributions to the increasingly close
relations between Catholics and Jews. I too, in the course of my
Pontificate, have wanted to demonstrate my closeness to and my affection for
the people of the Covenant. I cherish in my heart each moment of the
pilgrimage that I had the joy of making to the Holy Land in May of last
year, along with the memories of numerous meetings with Jewish Communities
and Organizations, in particular my visits to the Synagogues of Cologne and
Furthermore, the Church has not failed to deplore the failings of her sons
and daughters, begging forgiveness for all that could in any way have
contributed to the scourge of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism (cf. Commission
for Religious Relations with the Jews,We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah,
16 March 1998). May these wounds be healed forever! The heartfelt prayer
which Pope John Paul II offered at the Western Wall on 26 March 2000 comes
back to my mind, and it calls forth a profound echo in our hearts: "God of
our Fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the
nations: we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course
of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your
forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the
people of the Covenant."
3. The passage of time allows us to recognize in the Twentieth Century a
truly tragic period for humanity: ferocious wars that sowed destruction,
death and suffering like never before; frightening ideologies, rooted in the
idolatry of man, of race, and of the State, which led to brother killing
brother. The singular and deeply disturbing drama of the Shoah represents,
as it were, the most extreme point on the path of hatred that begins when
man forgets his Creator and places himself at the centre of the universe. As
I noted during my visit of 28 May 2006 to the Auschwitz Concentration camp,
which is still profoundly impressed upon my memory, "the rulers of the Third
Reich wanted to crush the entire Jewish people", and, essentially, "by
wiping out this people, they intended to kill the God who called Abraham,
who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind,
principles that remain eternally valid" (Discourse at Auschwitz-Birkenau
Concentration Camp: The Teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, II, 1 ,
Here in this place, how could we not remember the Roman Jews who were
snatched from their homes, before these very walls, and who with tremendous
brutality were killed at Auschwitz? How could one ever forget their faces,
their names, their tears, the desperation faced by these men, women and
children? The extermination of the people of the Covenant of Moses, at first
announced, then systematically programmed and put into practice in Europe
under the Nazi regime, on that day tragically reached as far as Rome.
Unfortunately, many remained indifferent, but many, including Italian
Catholics, sustained by their faith and by Christian teaching, reacted with
courage, often at risk of their lives, opening their arms to assist the
Jewish fugitives who were being hunted down, and earning perennial
gratitude. The Apostolic See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden
and discreet way.
The memory of these events compels us to strengthen the bonds that unite us
so that our mutual understanding, respect and acceptance may always
4. Our closeness and spiritual fraternity find in the Holy Bible - in Hebrew
Sifre Qodesh or "Book of Holiness" - their most stable and lasting
foundation, which constantly reminds us of our common roots, our history and
the rich spiritual patrimony that we share. It is in pondering her own
mystery that the Church, the People of God of the New Covenant, discovers
her own profound bond with the Jews, who were chosen by the Lord before all
others to receive his word (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 839). "The
Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to
God's revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews ‘belong the sonship, the
glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises;
to them belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh is
the Christ' (Rom 9:4-5), ‘for the gifts and the call of God are
irrevocable!' (Rom 11:29)" (Ibid).
5. Many lessons may be learnt from our common heritage derived from the Law
and the Prophets. I would like to recall some of them: first of all, the
solidarity which binds the Church to the Jewish people "at the level of
their spiritual identity", which offers Christians the opportunity to
promote "a renewed respect for the Jewish interpretation of the Old
Testament" (cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish people and their
Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, 2001, pp.12 and 55); the
centrality of the Decalogue as a common ethical message of permanent value
for Israel, for the Church, for non-believers and for all of humanity; the
task of preparing or ushering in the Kingdom of the Most High in the "care
for creation" entrusted by God to man for him to cultivate and to care for
responsibly (cf. Gen 2:15).
6. In particular, the Decalogue - the "Ten Words" or Ten Commandments (cf.
Ex 20:1-17; Dt 5:1-21) - which comes from the Torah of Moses, is a shining
light for ethical principles, hope and dialogue, a guiding star of faith and
morals for the people of God, and it also enlightens and guides the path of
Christians. It constitutes a beacon and a norm of life in justice and love,
a "great ethical code" for all humanity. The "Ten Commandments" shed light
on good and evil, on truth and falsehood, on justice and injustice, and they
match the criteria of every human person's right conscience. Jesus himself
recalled this frequently, underlining the need for active commitment in
living the way of the Commandments: "If you wish to enter into life, observe
the Commandments" (Mt 19:17). From this perspective, there are several
possible areas of cooperation and witness. I would like to recall three that
are especially important for our time.
The "Ten Commandments" require that we recognize the one Lord, against the
temptation to construct other idols, to make golden calves. In our world
there are many who do not know God or who consider him superfluous, without
relevance for their lives; hence, other new gods have been fabricated to
whom man bows down. Reawakening in our society openness to the transcendent
dimension, witnessing to the one God, is a precious service which Jews and
Christians can offer together.
The "Ten Commandments" call us to respect life and to protect it against
every injustice and abuse, recognizing the worth of each human person,
created in the image and likeness of God. How often, in every part of the
world, near and far, the dignity, the freedom and the rights of human beings
are trampled upon! Bearing witness together to the supreme value of life
against all selfishness, is an important contribution to a new world where
justice and peace reign, a world marked by that "shalom" which the
lawgivers, the prophets and the sages of Israel longed to see.
The "Ten Commandments" call us to preserve and to promote the sanctity of
the family, in which the personal and reciprocal, faithful and definitive
"Yes" of man and woman makes room for the future, for the authentic humanity
of each, and makes them open, at the same time, to the gift of new life. To
witness that the family continues to be the essential cell of society and
the basic environment in which human virtues are learned and practised is a
precious service offered in the construction of a world with a more human
7. As Moses taught in the Shema (cf. Dt 6:5; Lev 19:34) - and as Jesus
reaffirms in the Gospel (cf. Mk 12:19-31), all of the Commandments are
summed up in the love of God and loving-kindness towards one's neighbour.
This Rule urges Jews and Christians to exercise, in our time, a special
generosity towards the poor, towards women and children, strangers, the
sick, the weak and the needy. In the Jewish tradition there is a wonderful
saying of the Fathers of Israel: "Simon the Just often said: The world is
founded on three things: the Torah, worship, and acts of mercy" (Avoth 1:2).
In exercising justice and mercy, Jews and Christians are called to announce
and to bear witness to the coming Kingdom of the Most High, for which we
pray and work in hope each day.
8. On this path we can walk together, aware of the differences that exist
between us, but also aware of the fact that when we succeed in uniting our
hearts and our hands in response to the Lord's call, his light comes closer
and shines on all the peoples of the world. The progress made in the last
forty years by the International Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations
and, in more recent years, by the Mixed Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of
Israel and of the Holy See, are a sign of our common will to continue an
open and sincere dialogue. Tomorrow here in Rome, in fact, the Mixed
Commission will hold its ninth meeting, on "Catholic and Jewish Teaching on
Creation and the Environment"; we wish them a profitable dialogue on such a
timely and important theme.
9. Christians and Jews share to a great extent a common spiritual patrimony,
they pray to the same Lord, they have the same roots, and yet they often
remain unknown to each other. It is our duty, in response to God's call, to
strive to keep open the space for dialogue, for reciprocal respect, for
growth in friendship, for a common witness in the face of the challenges of
our time, which invite us to cooperate for the good of humanity in this
world created by God, the Omnipotent and Merciful.
10. Finally, I offer a particular reflection on this, our city of Rome,
where, for nearly two millennia, as Pope John Paul II said, the Catholic
Community with its Bishop and the Jewish Community with its Chief Rabbi have
lived side by side. May this proximity be animated by a growing fraternal
love, expressed also in closer cooperation, so that we may offer a valid
contribution to solving the problems and difficulties that we still face.
I beg from the Lord the precious gift of peace in the world, above all in
the Holy Land. During my pilgrimage there last May, at the Western Wall in
Jerusalem, I prayed to Him who can do all things, asking: "Send your peace
upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family;
stir the hearts of those who call upon your name, to walk humbly in the path
of justice and compassion" (Prayer at the Western Wall of Jerusalem, 12 May
I give thanks and praise to God once again for this encounter, asking him to
strengthen our fraternal bonds and to deepen our mutual understanding.
"O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim him, all you peoples.
Strong is his love for us,
He is faithful forever.
Alleluia" (Ps 117)
Vatican Clarification on Lefebvrites,
"The Holy Father Asks Accompaniment in Prayer"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of a note issued
today by the Vatican Secretariat of State regarding last month's lifting of the
excommunication of four bishops of the Society of St. Pius X.
* * *
In the wake of the reactions elicited by the recent decree from the Congregation
for Bishops, with which the excommunication of four prelates of the Fraternity
of St. Pius X were lifted, and in relation to negationist or reductionist
declarations on the Shoah from Bishop Williamson of that same fraternity, it is
considered opportune to clarify certain aspects of the issue.
1. Remission of the excommunication.
As has already been published previously, the decree of the Congregation for
Bishops, dated Jan. 21, 2009, was an act by which the Holy Father graciously
took in the reiterated petitions from the superior-general of the Fraternity of
St. Pius X.
His Holiness wished to remove an impediment that adversely affected the opening
of a door to dialogue. Now he expects that the same willingness be expressed by
the four bishops, in total adhesion to the doctrine and discipline of the
The most grave penalty of excommunication latae sententiae, which these bishops
incurred June 30, 1988, afterward declared formally on July 1 of the same year,
was a consequence of their illegitimate ordination by Archbishop Marcel
The lifting of the excommunication has freed the four bishops from a most grave
canonical penalty, but it has not changed in any way the juridical situation of
the Fraternity of St. Pius X, which for the moment does not enjoy any canonical
recognition in the Catholic Church. Neither do the four bishops, though
liberated from the excommunication, have a canonical function in the Church and
they do not licitly exercise a ministry in it.
2. Tradition, doctrine and the Second Vatican Council.
For a future recognition of the Fraternity of St. Pius X, the full recognition
of the Second Vatican Council and the magisterium of Popes John XXIII, Paul VI,
John Paul I, John Paul II and Benedict XVI himself is an indispensable
As has already been affirmed in the decree of Jan. 21, 2009, the Holy See will
not cease, in the ways in which it judges opportune, to go deeper with the
interested parties in the questions that remain open, in such a way that a full
and satisfactory solution to the problems that have given rise to this painful
fracture can be reached.
3. Declaration on the Shoah.
The viewpoints of Bishop Williamson on the Shoah are absolutely unacceptable and
firmly rejected by the Holy Father, as he himself noted last Jan. 28, when,
referring to that savage genocide, he reaffirmed his full and indisputable
solidarity with our brother recipients of the First Covenant, and affirmed that
the memory of that terrible genocide should induce "humanity to reflect on the
unpredictable power of evil when it conquers the human heart," adding that the
Shoah remains "for everyone a warning against forgetting, against negating or
reductionism, because violence committed against even one human being is
violence against all."
Bishop Williamson, to be admitted to episcopal functions in the Church, must
also distance himself in an absolutely unmistakable and public way from his
position on the Shoah, which was unknown to the Holy Father in the moment of the
lifting of the excommunication.
The Holy Father asks accompaniment in prayer from all the faithful, that the
Lord may enlighten the path of the Church. May there be an increase in the
determination of the pastors and all the faithful in support of the delicate and
heavy mission of the Successor of the Apostle Peter as "guardian of the unity"
of the Church.
From the Vatican, February 4, 2009
Papal Letter to Orthodox Patriarch of
"Christianity Is Faced With Increasingly Complex
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2009 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to
Bartholomew I, the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople, on the occasion
of today's Feast of St. Andrew. St. Andrew, brother of St. Peter, is the
protector of the ecumenical patriarchate.
The Holy Father's message was delivered by a delegation headed by Cardinal
Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
* * *
To His Holiness Bartholomaios I
Archbishop of Constantinople
It is with great joy that I address Your Holiness on the occasion of the
visit of the delegation guided by my Venerable Brother Cardinal Walter
Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity,
to whom I have entrusted the task of conveying to you my warmest fraternal
greetings on the Feast of Saint Andrew, the brother of Saint Peter and the
protector of the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On this joyful occasion commemorating the birth into eternal life of the
Apostle Andrew, whose witness of faith in the Lord culminated in his
martyrdom, I express also my respectful remembrance to the Holy Synod, the
clergy and all the faithful, who under your pastoral care and guidance
continue even in difficult circumstances to witness to the Gospel of Jesus
The memory of the holy martyrs compels all Christians to bear witness to
their faith before the world. There is an urgency in this call especially in
our own day, in which Christianity is faced with increasingly complex
challenges. The witness of Christians will surely be all the more credible
if all believers in Christ are "of one heart and soul" (Acts 4:32).
Our Churches have committed themselves sincerely over the last decades to
pursuing the path towards the re-establishment of full communion, and
although we have not yet reached our goal, many steps have been taken that
have enabled us to deepen the bonds between us. Our growing friendship and
mutual respect, and our willingness to encounter one another and to
recognize one another as brothers in Christ, should not be hindered by those
who remain bound to the remembrance of historical differences, which impedes
their openness to the Holy Spirit who guides the Church and is able to
transform all human failings into opportunities for good.
This openness has guided the work of the Joint International Commission for
Theological Dialogue, which held its eleventh plenary session in Cyprus last
month. The meeting was marked by a spirit of solemn purpose and a warm
sentiment of closeness. I extend once again my heartfelt gratitude to the
Church of Cyprus for its most generous welcome and hospitality. It is a
source of great encouragement that despite some difficulties and
misunderstandings all the Churches involved in the International Commission
have expressed their intention to continue the dialogue.
The theme of the plenary session, The Role of the Bishop of Rome in the
Communion of the Church in the First Millennium, is certainly complex, and
will require extensive study and patient dialogue if we are to aspire to a
shared integration of the traditions of East and West. The Catholic Church
understands the Petrine ministry as a gift of the Lord to His Church. This
ministry should not be interpreted in the perspective of power, but within
an ecclesiology of communion, as a service to unity in truth and charity.
The Bishop of the Church of Rome, which presides in charity (Saint Ignatius
of Antioch), is understood to be the Servus Servorum Dei (Saint Gregory the
Great). Thus, as my venerable predecessor the Servant of God Pope John Paul
II wrote and I reiterated on the occasion of my visit to the Phanar in
November 2006, it is a question of seeking together, inspired by the model
of the first millennium, the forms in which the ministry of the Bishop of
Rome may accomplish a service of love recognized by one and all (cf. Ut Unum
Sint, 95). Let us therefore ask God to bless us and may the Holy Spirit
guide us along this difficult yet promising path.
Yet even as we make this journey towards full communion, we should already
offer common witness by working together in the service of humanity,
especially in defending the dignity of the human person, in affirming
fundamental ethical values, in promoting justice and peace, and in
responding to the suffering that continues to afflict our world,
particularly hunger, poverty, illiteracy, and the inequitable distribution
Furthermore, our Churches can work together in drawing attention to
humanity’s responsibility for the safeguarding of creation. In this regard,
I express once again my appreciation for the many valuable initiatives
supported and encouraged by Your Holiness which have borne witness to the
gift of creation. The recent international symposium on Religion, Science
and the Environment dedicated to the Mississippi River, and your encounters
in the United States with distinguished figures from the political, cultural
and religious spheres, have exemplified your commitment.
Your Holiness, on the solemn Feast of the great Apostle Andrew, I express my
respectful esteem and spiritual closeness to Your Holiness and to the
Ecumenical Patriarchate, and I pray that the Triune God may bestow abundant
blessings of grace and light on your lofty ministry for the good of the
It is with these sentiments that I extend to you a fraternal embrace in the
name of our one Lord Jesus Christ, and I renew my prayer that the peace and
grace of our Lord may be with Your Holiness and with all those entrusted to
your eminent pastoral leadership.
From the Vatican, 25 November 2009
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Papal Letter to Mississippi River
"The Great Fluvial Systems of Every Continent Are
Exposed to Serious Threats"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 22, 2009 - Here is the letter, dated Oct. 12, that
Benedict XVI sent to Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, on
the occasion of the Eighth International Symposium on Religion, Science and
the Environment titled "Restoring Balance: The Great Mississippi River."
The symposium, organized under the patronage of Bartholomew I, is under way
through Sunday in Memphis, Tennessee.
* * *
To His Holiness Bartholomew I
Archbishop of Constantinople
On the occasion of the Eight International Symposium on the theme Religion,
Science and the Environment, devoted this year to the Mississippi River, I
have asked the Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans,
to offer Your Holiness my cordial greetings and my prayerful good wishes for
the occasion. I likewise renew my appreciation for your continued efforts to
promote respect for God’s gift of creation and a sense of global solidarity
for its wise and responsible stewardship.
From earliest times, water has always been acknowledged as a primary human
good and an indispensable natural resource. Around the great rivers of the
world, like the Mississippi, great cultures have developed, while over the
course of the centuries the prosperity of countless societies has been
linked to these waterways. Today, however, the great fluvial systems of
every continent are exposed to serious threats, often as a result of man’s
activity and decisions.
Concern for the fate of the great rivers of the earth must lead us to
reflect soberly on the model of development which our society is pursuing. A
purely economic and technological understanding of progress, to the extent
that it fails to acknowledge its intrinsic limitations and to take into
consideration the integral good of humanity, will inevitably provoke
negative consequences for individuals, peoples and creation itself (cf.
Common Declaration, 30 November, 2006). Authentic human development likewise
calls for intergenerational justice and practical solidarity with the men
and women of the future, who are also entitled to enjoy the goods which
creation, as willed by God, is meant to bestow in abundance upon all.
I fully agree with Your Holiness that the urgent issues surrounding the care
and protection of the environment, while touching important political,
economic, technical and scientific questions, nonetheless are essentially of
an ethical nature, and the solution to the ecological crisis of our time
necessarily calls for a change of heart on the part of our contemporaries.
Nature, in fact, is prior to us, and, as the setting of our life, it must be
used responsibly, with respect for its inbuilt equilibrium. As the
expression of the Creator’s plan of love and truth, nature must be
acknowledged as containing “a ‘grammar’ which sets forth ends and criteria
for its wise use, not its reckless exploitation” (Caritas in Veritate, 48).
Precisely for this reason, by virtue of their faith, Christians are called
to join in offering the world a credible witness of responsibility for the
safeguarding of creation, and to cooperate in every way possible to ensure
that our earth can preserve intact its God-given grandeur, beauty and
The present Symposium, which calls attention to the majestic Mississippi
River, also reminds us of the tragic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the
flooding which caused such great devastation to New Orleans and surrounding
areas on 29 August 2005. My thoughts and prayers are with all those,
especially the poor, who experienced suffering, loss and displacement, and
all those engaged in the patient work of rebuilding and renewal.
With these sentiments, Your Holiness, I embrace you with fraternal affection
in the Lord. At the same time I ask you kindly to convey my greetings and
heartfelt good wishes to all those taking part in the Symposium, together
with the assurance of my prayers that this important gathering will lead to
the renewed awareness of our responsibility for the gift of creation, which
God has entrusted to us “to till it and keep it” (Gen 2:15) as common
inheritance and home.
From the Vatican, 12 October 2009
Pope's Message to Inter-Christian
"Build Together the City of God"
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 3, 2009 - Here is a translation of the message
Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity, on the occasion of the 11th
Inter-Christian Symposium, which began today in Rome.
* * *
Through you, venerable brother, in your capacity as president of the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, I have the pleasure and
joy of sending a warm and auspicious greeting to the organizers and
participants of the 11th Inter-Christian Symposium, promoted by the
Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the Pontifical University Antonianum
and by the Aristotle Orthodox Theological Faculty of Thessalonica, planned
in Rome from Sept. 3-5.
I am happy first of all for this initiative of fraternal encounter and
exchange on the common aspects of spirituality, which is beneficial for a
closer relationship between Catholics and Orthodox. In fact, these
Symposiums, which began in 1992, address important and constructive topics
for reciprocal understanding and unity of intention. The fact that it takes
place alternatively in a territory of Catholic or Orthodox majority also
allows for real contact with the concrete, historical, cultural and
religious life of our Churches.
In particular, this year you wished to organize the Symposium in Rome, city
that offers all Christians indelible testimonies of history, archaeology,
iconography, hagiography and spirituality, strong stimulus to advance toward
full communion and above all, the memory of the Apostles Peter and Paul,
Protothroni, and of so many martyrs, ancient witnesses of the faith. Of
them, St. Clement of Rome wrote that "suffering ... many insults and
torments, they became a most beautiful example for us" (Cf. Letter to the
The topic chosen for the next meeting: "St. Augustine in the Western and
Eastern Tradition" -- argument intended to be developed in collaboration
with the Patristic Institute Augustinanum -- is most interesting to reflect
further on Christian theology and spirituality in the West and in the East,
and its development. The Saint of Hippo, a great Father of the Latin Church,
is, in fact, of fundamental importance for theology and for the West's very
culture, whereas the reception of his thought in Orthodox theology has
revealed itself to be rather problematic.
Hence, to know with historical objectivity and fraternal cordiality the
doctrinal and spiritual riches that make up the patrimony of the Christian
East and West, is indispensable not only to appreciate them, but also to
promote better reciprocal appreciation among all Christians.
Therefore, I express cordial wishes that your Symposium is fruitful in that
it discovers doctrinal and spiritual convergences that are useful to build
together the City of God, where his children can live in peace and in
fraternal charity, based on the truth of the common faith. I assure you of
my prayer for this end, asking the Lord to bless the organizers and the
institutions they represent, the Catholic and Orthodox speakers and all the
May the Grace and peace of the Lord be in your collaborators and in your
In Castel Gandolfo, August 28, 2009
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Papal Words to Orthodox Delegation
"We Have Been Called to One Hope"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 28, 2009 Here is a
translation of Benedict XVI's address upon receiving in audience Saturday a
delegation sent by the Orthodox patriarch of Constantinople, Bartholomew I, to
celebrate with the Pope the solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and the
conclusion of the Pauline Year.
The patriarch's delegation is led by
Metropolitan Emmanuel of France, director of the Office of the Orthodox Church
Before the European Union. The other members include Bishop Anthenagoras of
Sinope, auxiliary bishop of the Patriarchate of Belgium, and Deacon Ioakim
Billis of the Patriarchate of Constantinople.
* * *
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Epehesian s 1:2).
It is with these words that St. Paul,
"apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God," addresses "the saints" who live
in Ephesus, "believers in Christ Jesus" (Ephesians 1:1). Today, with this
proclamation of peace and salvation, I bid you welcome for the patronal feast
of Sts. Peter and Paul, with which we conclude the Pauline Year.
Last year, the Ecumenical Patriarch, His
Holiness Bartholomew I, wanted to honor us with his presence, to celebrate
together this year of prayer, of reflection and the exchange of gestures of
communion between Rome and Constantinople. On our part, we have had the joy of
sending a delegation to similar celebrations organized by the Ecumenical
Patriarch. On the other hand, it could not be otherwise in this year dedicated
to St. Paul, who vigorously recommended the "conservation of unity of spirit
through the bond of peace," teaching us that we are " one body and one spirit"
You are welcome guests, dear brothers, who
have been sent by His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch, to whom I likewise
send my warm and fraternal greeting in the Lord. Let us give thanks together
to the Lord for all the fruits and benefits that the bimillennial celebration
of the birth of St. Paul has brought us. We celebrate together the feast of
Sts. Peter and Paul, the "protôthroni" of the Apostles, as they are invoked in
the Orthodox liturgical tradition, that is, those who occupy first place among
the apostles and are called "the teachers of the ecumene."
With your presence, which is a sign of
ecclesial fraternity, you remind us of our common commitment to the pursuit of
full communion. You already know, but again today I have the pleasure of
confirming, that the Catholic Church intends to contribute in every possible
way to the reestablishment of full communion. This is in respo nse to Christ's
will for his disciples, and recalling Paul's teaching in which he reminds us
that we have been called to "one hope."
In this respect, we can confidently look
forward to a good continuation of the work of the Mixed International
Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Orthodox and Catholic
Churches. This commission will meet in October to address a crucial theme for
relations between East and West, namely, "the role of the Bishop of Rome in
the communion of the Church during the first millennium."
In effect, the study of this aspect is
clearly indispensable for generally getting to the heart of the question in
the current context of the pursuit of full communion. This commission, which
has already accomplished important work, will be generously received by the
Orthodox Church of Cyprus, to whom we express our gratitude in advance,
because fraternal hospitality and the climate of prayer that will surround our
discussions cannot but facilitate our common work and reciprocal
I desire that the participants in the
Catholic-Orthodox dialogue know that my prayers will accompany them and that
this dialogue has the complete support of the Catholic Church. With my whole
heart I hope that the misunderstandings and the tensions between the Orthodox
delegates during the last plenary sessions of this commission be overcome in
fraternal love, in such a way that this dialogue be amply representative of
Dear brothers, I thank you again for being
with us on this day and I pray you to convey my fraternal greeting to the
ecumenical patriarch, His Holiness Bartholomew I, the Holy Synod, all the
clergy and to the Orthodox faithful. May the joy of the Feast of Sts. Peter
and Paul, that we traditionally celebrate on the same day, fill your hearts
with confidence and hope!
Pope's Words to
Delegation from Israel's Chief Rabbinate
"I Am Preparing to Visit the Holy Land As a Pilgrim"
VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI
gave today upon receiving a delegation from the Chief Rabbinate of Israel
and of the Holy See Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews.
* * *
Distinguished representatives of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel,
Dear Catholic Delegates,
It gives me great pleasure to welcome you, the delegation of the Chief
Rabbinate of Israel, together with Catholic participants led by the Holy
See's Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews. The important
dialogue in which you are engaged is a fruit of the historical visit of my
beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II to the Holy Land in March 2000. It was
his wish to enter into a dialogue with Jewish religious institutions in
Israel and his encouragement was decisive to attaining this goal. Receiving
the two Chief Rabbis of Israel in January 2004 he called this dialogue a
"sign of great hope".
During these seven years not only has the friendship between the Commission
and the Chief Rabbinate increased, but you have also been able to reflect on
important themes which are relevant to the Jewish and Christian traditions
alike. Because we recognize a common rich spiritual patrimony a dialogue
based on mutual understanding and respect is, as Nostra Aetate (n. 4)
recommends, necessary and possible.
Working together you have become increasingly aware of the common values
which stand at the basis of our respective religious traditions, studying
them during the seven meetings held either here in Rome or in Jerusalem. You
have reflected on the sanctity of life, family values, social justice and
ethical conduct, the importance of the word of God expressed in Holy
Scriptures for society and education, the relationship between religious and
civil authority and the freedom of religion and conscience. In the common
declarations released after every meeting, the views which are rooted in
both our respective religious convictions have been highlighted, while the
differences of understanding have also been acknowledged. The Church
recognizes that the beginnings of her faith are found in the historical
divine intervention in the life of the Jewish people and that here our
unique relationship has its foundation. The Jewish people, who were chosen
as the elected people, communicate to the whole human family, knowledge of
and fidelity to the one, unique and true God. Christians gladly acknowledge
that their own roots are found in the same self-revelation of God, in which
the religious experience of the Jewish people is nourished.
As you know, I am preparing to visit the Holy Land as a pilgrim. My
intention is to pray especially for the precious gift of unity and peace
both within the region and for the worldwide human family. As Psalm 125
brings to mind, God protects his people: "As the mountains are round about
Jerusalem, so the Lord is round about his people, from this time forth and
for evermore". May my visit also help to deepen the dialogue of the Church
with the Jewish people so that Jews and Christians and also Muslims may live
in peace and harmony in this Holy Land.
I thank you for your visit and I renew my personal commitment to advancing
the vision set out for coming generations in the Second Vatican Council's
declaration Nostra Aetate.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
MOTU PROPRIO ECCLESIAE UNITATEM
VATICAN CITY, 8 JUL 2009 ( VIS ) - Given below is an English-language
translation from the Italian of the Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio data" of
Pope Benedict XVI, "Ecclesiae unitatem". The document concerns the structure
of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" which deals with questions
involving the Society of Saint Pius X and which as of now becomes dependent
upon the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The original text of
the Motu Proprio is written in Latin:
1. The duty to safeguard the unity of the Church, with the solicitude to
offer everyone help in responding appropriately to this vocation and divine
grace, is the particular responsibility of the Successor of the Apostle
Peter, who is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the
unity of both bishops and faithful. The supreme and fundamental priority of
the Church in all times - to lead mankind to the meeting with God - must be
supported by the commitment to achieve a shared witness of faith among all
2. Faithful to this mandate, following the act of 30 June 1988 by which
Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre illicitly conferred episcopal ordination upon
four priests, on 2 July 1988 Pope John Paul II of venerable memory
established the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" whose task it is "to
collaborate with the bishops, with the departments of the Roman Curia and
with the circles concerned, for the purpose of facilitating full ecclesial
communion of priests, seminarians, religious communities or individuals
until now linked in various ways to the Society founded by Msgr. Lefebvre,
who may wish to remain united to the Successor Peter in the Catholic Church,
while preserving their spiritual and liturgical traditions, in the light of
the Protocol signed on 5 May last by Cardinal Ratzinger and Msgr. Lefebvre".
3. In keeping with this, faithfully adhering to that duty to serve the
universal communion of the Church, also in her visible manifestation, and
making every effort to ensure that those who truly desire unity have the
possibility to remain in it or to rediscover it, I decided, with the Motu
Proprio "Summorum Pontificum", to expand and update through more precise and
detailed norms the general indications already contained in the Motu Proprio
"Ecclesia Dei" concerning the possibility of using the 1962"Missale Romanum".
4. In the same spirit, and with the same commitment to favouring the repair
of all fractures and divisions within the Church, and to healing a wound
that is ever more painfully felt within the ecclesiastical structure, I
decided to remit the excommunication of the four bishops illicitly ordained
by Msgr. Lefebvre. In making that decision my intention was to remove an
impediment that could hinder the opening of a door to dialogue and thus
invite the four bishops and the Society of Saint Pius X to rediscover the
path to full communion with the Church. As I explained in my Letter to
Catholic bishops of 10 March this year, the remission of the excommunication
was a measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline, to free
individuals from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of
ecclesiastical penalties. However it is clear that the doctrinal questions
remain, and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in
the Church, and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry in
5. Precisely because the problems that now have to be examined with the
Society are essentially doctrinal in nature, I have decided - twenty-one
years after the Motu Proprio "Ecclesia Dei" and in keeping with what I had
intended to do - to reconsider the structure of the Commission "Ecclesia
Dei", joining it closely to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
6. The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei" will, then, have the following
(a) The president of the Commission is the prefect of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith.
(b) The Commission has its own staff, composed of the secretary and
(c) It will be the task of the president, with the assistance of the
secretary, to submit the principal cases and questions of a doctrinal nature
for study and discernment according to the ordinary requirements of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and to submit the results
thereof to the superior dispositions of the Supreme Pontiff.
7. With this decision I wish in particular to show paternal solicitude
towards the Society of Saint Pius X, with the aim of rediscovering the full
communion of the Church.
To everyone I address a pressing invitation to pray ceaselessly to the Lord,
by the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "ut unum sint".
From Rome , at St. Peter's, 2 July 2009, fifth year of Our Pontificate.
The Letter of His
Holiness Pope Benedict XVI on St Pius X bishops
VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2009 (VIS) - Made
public today was the Letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to the bishops
of the Catholic Church concerning the remission of the excommunication of
the four bishops consecrated by Archbishop Lefebvre.
The Letter is dated 10 March and has been published in English, French,
Spanish, Italian, German and Portuguese. The complete text of the
English-language version is given below:
"Dear brothers in the episcopal ministry.
"The remission of the excommunication of the four Bishops consecrated in
1988 by Archbishop Lefebvre without a mandate of the Holy See has for many
reasons caused, both within and beyond the Catholic Church, a discussion
more heated than any we have seen for a long time. Many bishops felt
perplexed by an event which came about unexpectedly and was difficult to
view positively in the light of the issues and tasks facing the Church
today. Even though many bishops and members of the faithful were disposed in
principle to take a positive view of the Pope's concern for reconciliation,
the question remained whether such a gesture was fitting in view of the
genuinely urgent demands of the life of faith in our time. Some groups, on
the other hand, openly accused the Pope of wanting to turn back the clock to
before the Council: as a result, an avalanche of protests was unleashed,
whose bitterness laid bare wounds deeper than those of the present moment. I
therefore feel obliged to offer you, dear brothers, a word of clarification,
which ought to help you understand the concerns which led me and the
competent offices of the Holy See to take this step. In this way I hope to
contribute to peace in the Church.
"An unforeseen mishap for me was the fact that the Williamson case came on
top of the remission of the excommunication. The discreet gesture of mercy
towards four bishops ordained validly but not legitimately suddenly appeared
as something completely different: as the repudiation of reconciliation
between Christians and Jews, and thus as the reversal of what the Council
had laid down in this regard to guide the Church's path. A gesture of
reconciliation with an ecclesial group engaged in a process of separation
thus turned into its very antithesis: an apparent step backwards with regard
to all the steps of reconciliation between Christians and Jews taken since
the Council - steps which my own work as a theologian had sought from the
beginning to take part in and support. That this overlapping of two opposed
processes took place and momentarily upset peace between Christians and
Jews, as well as peace within the Church, is something which I can only
deeply deplore. I have been told that consulting the information available
on the internet would have made it possible to perceive the problem early
on. I have learned the lesson that in the future in the Holy See we will
have to pay greater attention to that source of news. I was saddened by the
fact that even Catholics who, after all, might have had a better knowledge
of the situation, thought they had to attack me with open hostility.
Precisely for this reason I thank all the more our Jewish friends, who
quickly helped to clear up the misunderstanding and to restore the
atmosphere of friendship and trust which - as in the days of Pope John Paul
II - has also existed throughout my pontificate and, thank God, continues to
"Another mistake, which I deeply regret, is the fact that the extent and
limits of the provision of 21 January 2009 were not clearly and adequately
explained at the moment of its publication. The excommunication affects
individuals, not institutions. An episcopal ordination lacking a pontifical
mandate raises the danger of a schism, since it jeopardises the unity of the
College of Bishops with the Pope. Consequently the Church must react by
employing her most severe punishment - excommunication - with the aim of
calling those thus punished to repent and to return to unity. Twenty years
after the ordinations, this goal has sadly not yet been attained. The
remission of the excommunication has the same aim as that of the punishment:
namely, to invite the four bishops once more to return. This gesture was
possible once the interested parties had expressed their recognition in
principle of the Pope and his authority as Pastor, albeit with some
reservations in the area of obedience to his doctrinal authority and to the
authority of the Council. Here I return to the distinction between
individuals and institutions. The remission of the excommunication was a
measure taken in the field of ecclesiastical discipline: the individuals
were freed from the burden of conscience constituted by the most serious of
ecclesiastical penalties. This disciplinary level needs to be distinguished
from the doctrinal level. The fact that the Society of Saint Pius X does not
possess a canonical status in the Church is not, in the end, based on
disciplinary but on doctrinal reasons. As long as the society does not have
a canonical status in the Church, its ministers do not exercise legitimate
ministries in the Church. There needs to be a distinction, then, between the
disciplinary level, which deals with individuals as such, and the doctrinal
level, at which ministry and institution are involved. In order to make this
clear once again: until the doctrinal questions are clarified, the society
has no canonical status in the Church, and its ministers - even though they
have been freed of the ecclesiastical penalty - do not legitimately exercise
any ministry in the Church.
"In light of this situation, it is my intention henceforth to join the
Pontifical Commission 'Ecclesia Dei' - the body which has been competent
since 1988 for those communities and persons who, coming from the Society of
Saint Pius X or from similar groups, wish to return to full communion with
the Pope - to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. This will make
it clear that the problems now to be addressed are essentially doctrinal in
nature and concern primarily the acceptance of the Vatican Council II and
the post-conciliar Magisterium of the Popes. The collegial bodies with which
the congregation studies questions which arise (especially the ordinary
Wednesday meeting of cardinals and the annual or biennial plenary session)
ensure the involvement of the prefects of the different Roman congregations
and representatives from the world's bishops in the process of
decision-making. The Church's teaching authority cannot be frozen in the
year 1962 - this must be quite clear to the Society. But some of those who
put themselves forward as great defenders of the Council also need to be
reminded that Vatican II embraces the entire doctrinal history of the
Church. Anyone who wishes to be obedient to the Council has to accept the
faith professed over the centuries, and cannot sever the roots from which
the tree draws its life.
"I hope, dear brothers, that this serves to clarify the positive
significance and also the limits of the provision of 21 January 2009. But
the question still remains: Was this measure needed? Was it really a
priority? Aren't other things perhaps more important? Of course there are
more important and urgent matters. I believe that I set forth clearly the
priorities of my pontificate in the addresses which I gave at its beginning.
Everything that I said then continues unchanged as my plan of action. The
first priority for the Successor of Peter was laid down by the Lord in the
Upper Room in the clearest of terms: 'You ... strengthen your brothers'.
Peter himself formulated this priority anew in his first Letter: 'Always be
prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope
that is in you'. In our days, when in vast areas of the world the faith is
in danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel, the overriding
priority is to make God present in this world and to show men and women the
way to God. Not just any god, but the God Who spoke on Sinai; to that God
Whose face we recognise in a love which presses 'to the end' - in Jesus
Christ, crucified and risen. The real problem at this moment of our history
is that God is disappearing from the human horizon, and, with the dimming of
the light which comes from God, humanity is losing its bearings, with
increasingly evident destructive effects.
"Leading men and women to God, to the God Who speaks in the Bible: this is
the supreme and fundamental priority of the Church and of the Successor of
Peter at the present time. A logical consequence of this is that we must
have at heart the unity of all believers. Their disunity, their disagreement
among themselves, calls into question the credibility of their talk of God.
Hence the effort to promote a common witness by Christians to their faith -
ecumenism - is part of the supreme priority. Added to this is the need for
all those who believe in God to join in seeking peace, to attempt to draw
closer to one another, and to journey together, even with their differing
images of God, towards the source of Light - this is inter-religious
dialogue. Whoever proclaims that God is Love 'to the end' has to bear
witness to love: in loving devotion to the suffering, in the rejection of
hatred and enmity - this is the social dimension of the Christian faith, of
which I spoke in the Encyclical 'Deus caritas est'.
"So if the arduous task of working for faith, hope and love in the world is
presently (and, in various ways, always) the Church's real priority, then
part of this is also made up of acts of reconciliation, small and not so
small. That the quiet gesture of extending a hand gave rise to a huge
uproar, and thus became exactly the opposite of a gesture of reconciliation,
is a fact which we must accept. But I ask now: Was it, and is it, truly
wrong in this case to meet half-way the brother who 'has something against
you' and to seek reconciliation? Should not civil society also try to
forestall forms of extremism and to incorporate their eventual adherents -
to the extent possible - in the great currents shaping social life, and thus
avoid their being segregated, with all its consequences? Can it be
completely mistaken to work to break down obstinacy and narrowness, and to
make space for what is positive and retrievable for the whole? I myself saw,
in the years after 1988, how the return of communities which had been
separated from Rome changed their interior attitudes; I saw how returning to
the bigger and broader Church enabled them to move beyond one-sided
positions and broke down rigidity so that positive energies could emerge for
the whole. Can we be totally indifferent about a community which has 491
priests, 215 seminarians, 6 seminaries, 88 schools, 2 university-level
institutes, 117 religious brothers, 164 religious sisters and thousands of
lay faithful? Should we casually let them drift farther from the Church? I
think for example of the 491 priests. We cannot know how mixed their motives
may be. All the same, I do not think that they would have chosen the
priesthood if, alongside various distorted and unhealthy elements, they did
not have a love for Christ and a desire to proclaim Him and, with Him, the
living God. Can we simply exclude them, as representatives of a radical
fringe, from our pursuit of reconciliation and unity? What would then become
"Certainly, for some time now, and once again on this specific occasion, we
have heard from some representatives of that community many unpleasant
things - arrogance and presumptuousness, an obsession with one-sided
positions, etc. Yet to tell the truth, I must add that I have also received
a number of touching testimonials of gratitude which clearly showed an
openness of heart. But should not the great Church also allow herself to be
generous in the knowledge of her great breadth, in the knowledge of the
promise made to her? Should not we, as good educators, also be capable of
overlooking various faults and making every effort to open up broader
vistas? And should we not admit that some unpleasant things have also
emerged in Church circles? At times one gets the impression that our society
needs to have at least one group to which no tolerance may be shown; which
one can easily attack and hate. And should someone dare to approach them -
in this case the Pope - he too loses any right to tolerance; he too can be
treated hatefully, without misgiving or restraint.
"Dear Brothers, during the days when I first had the idea of writing this
letter, by chance, during a visit to the Roman Seminary, I had to interpret
and comment on Galatians 5:13-15. I was surprised at the directness with
which that passage speaks to us about the present moment: 'Do not use your
freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love be servants of one
another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: You shall love your
neighbour as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, take heed
that you are not consumed by one another'. I am always tempted to see these
words as another of the rhetorical excesses which we occasionally find in
St. Paul . To some extent that may also be the case. But sad to say, this
'biting and devouring' also exists in the Church today, as expression of a
poorly understood freedom. Should we be surprised that we too are no better
than the Galatians? That at the very least we are threatened by the same
temptations? That we must always learn anew the proper use of freedom? And
that we must always learn anew the supreme priority, which is love? The day
I spoke about this at the Major Seminary, the feast of Our Lady of Trust was
being celebrated in Rome . And so it is: Mary teaches us trust. She leads us
to her Son, in Whom all of us can put our trust. He will be our guide - even
in turbulent times. And so I would like to offer heartfelt thanks to all the
many bishops who have lately offered me touching tokens of trust and
affection, and above all assured me of their prayers. My thanks also go to
all the faithful who in these days have given me testimony of their constant
fidelity to the Successor of St. Peter. May the Lord protect all of us and
guide our steps along the way of peace. This is the prayer that rises up
instinctively from my heart at the beginning of this Lent, a liturgical
season particularly suited to interior purification, one which invites all
of us to look with renewed hope to the light which awaits us at Easter
"With a special Apostolic Blessing, I remain Yours in the Lord". Benedict
VATICAN CITY, 12 MAR 2009 (VIS) - In an explanatory note accompanying the
Holy Father's Letter to bishops of the Catholic Church concerning the
remission of the excommunication of the four bishops consecrated by
Archbishop Lefebvre, Holy See Press Office Director Fr. Federico Lombardi
S.J. explains that "it is an unusual document worthy of great attention.
Never before in his pontificate has Benedict XVI expressed himself so
personally and intensely on a matter of public debate".
"The Pope experienced the ... remission of the excommunication and the
consequent reactions with evident concern and suffering", and felt the
obligation "to intervene in order to contribute to peace in the Church".
"With his habitual lucidity and humility he recognises the limitations and
errors that had a negative influence on the affair, and with great nobility
he does not seek to attribute the responsibility for them to others, but
expresses solidarity with his collaborators. He speaks of inadequate
information in the Williamson case and of insufficient clarity in explaining
the procedure and significance of remitting excommunication".
The Williamson case, "fortunately now surpassed", gives the Pope "an
opportunity to recall with satisfaction" that moves towards reconciliation
with Jews, "beginning with Vatican Council II, is something his own 'work as
a theologian had sought from the beginning to take part in and support'".
Above all, however, the Holy Father wishes "to clarify the nature,
significance and aims of the remission of excommunication. He explains that
since the excommunication was a punishment for individuals who had performed
an act that put the unity of the Church at risk by failing to recognise the
authority of the Pope, now - after the individuals concerned have expressed
their recognition of the Pope's authority - the remission of the
excommunication is a warm invitation for them to return to unity".
"Benedict XVI is profoundly aware of his responsibility as pastor of the
universal Church and feels the need to give his brothers in the episcopate
unambiguous clarification ... of the priorities and spirit with which he is
undertaking his service". These are: "leading men and women to God, the God
Who speaks in the Bible and in Christ; unity among Christians; dialogue
among believers in God in the service of peace; witness of charity in the
social dimension of Christian life.
"The Pope continues his considerations", Fr. Lombardi adds in his note, "by
inviting his interlocutors to serious reflection, at both the personal and
the ecclesial level. The paradoxical fact that a gesture that aimed to be
merciful and conciliatory actually created a situation of acute tension,
means we must ask questions to discern what spiritual attitudes where ... at
work in this case", he says.
Moved by his "deep concern for unity", Benedict XVI does not lose his
"critical realism" as he recalls "the grave defects of many of the
traditionalists' statements"; yet he reserves the same critical realism "for
the members of the Church and society who meet all efforts of
reconciliation, or even of the recognition of positive elements in others,
with rigid intransigence".
The Pope's Letter concludes, says Fr. Lombardi, "by reiterating an
impassioned appeal for love as the absolute priority for Christians, and by
expressing a hope for peace in the community of the Church".
Pius X Society Response to Benedict XVI
"We Fully Share His Utmost Concern for Preaching
to Our Age"
MENZINGEN, Switzerland, MARCH 13, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the communiqué
released Thursday by the superior-general of the Priestly Fraternity of St.
Pius X, Bishop Bernard Fellay, which responds to the March 10 letter sent by
the Pope on the situation regarding the society.
* * *
Pope Benedict XVI addressed a letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church,
dated March 10, 2009, in which he made them aware of the intentions which
guided him in this important step which is the Decree of Jan. 21, 2009.
After "an avalanche of protests was unleashed" recently, we greatly thank
the Holy Father for having placed the debate at the level on which it should
take place, that of the faith. We fully share his utmost concern for
preaching to "our age, when in vast areas of the world the faith is in
danger of dying out like a flame which no longer has fuel."
The Church lives, in fact, through a major crisis which cannot be solved
other than by an integral return to the purity of the faith. With St.
Athanasius, we profess that "Whoever wants to be saved should above all
cling to the Catholic faith: Whoever does not guard it whole and inviolable
will doubtless perish eternally." (Quicumque Creed)
Far from wanting to stop Tradition in 1962, we wish to consider the Second
Vatican Council and the post-Conciliar magisterium in the light of this
Tradition which St. Vincent of Lérins defined as that "which has been
believed everywhere, always, by all" (Commonitorium), without rupture and in
a perfectly homogeneous development. It is thus that we will be able to
contribute efficaciously to the evangelization asked for by the Savior (cf.
The Priestly Fraternity of Saint Pius X assures Benedict XVI of its will to
address the doctrinal discussions considered "necessary" by the Decree of
Jan. 21, with the desire of serving the revealed Truth which is the first
charity to be shown towards all men, Christian or not. It assures him of its
prayers so that his faith may not fail and that he may confirm all his
brethren (cf. Luke 22 32).
We place these doctrinal discussions under the protection of Our Lady of
Trust, with the assurance that she will obtain for us the grace of
faithfully delivering that which we received, "tradidi quod et accepi" (I
Menzingen, March 12, 2009
+ Bernard Fellay
Papal Address to
American Jewish Organizations
"Shoah Was a Crime Against God and Against Humanity"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI
gave today upon receiving in audience members of a delegation of the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
* * *
I am pleased to welcome all of you today, and I thank Rabbi Arthur Schneier
and Mr Alan Solow for the greetings they have addressed to me on your
behalf. I well recall the various occasions, during my visit to the United
States last year, when I was able to meet some of you in Washington D.C. and
New York. Rabbi Schneier, you graciously received me at Park East Synagogue
just hours before your celebration of Pesah. Now, I am glad to have this
opportunity to offer you hospitality here in my own home. Such meetings as
this enable us to demonstrate our respect for one another. I want you to
know that you are all most welcome here today in the house of Peter, the
home of the Pope.
I look back with gratitude to the various opportunities I have had over many
years to spend time in the company of my Jewish friends. My visits to your
communities in Washington and New York, though brief, were experiences of
fraternal esteem and sincere friendship. So too was my visit to the
Synagogue in Cologne, the first such visit in my Pontificate. It was very
moving for me to spend those moments with the Jewish community in the city I
know so well, the city which was home to the earliest Jewish settlement in
Germany, its roots reaching back to the time of the Roman Empire.
A year later, in May 2006, I visited the extermination camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
What words can adequately convey that profoundly moving experience? As I
walked through the entrance to that place of horror, the scene of such
untold suffering, I meditated on the countless number of prisoners, so many
of them Jews, who had trodden that same path into captivity at Auschwitz and
in all the other prison camps. Those children of Abraham, grief-stricken and
degraded, had little to sustain them beyond their faith in the God of their
fathers, a faith that we Christians share with you, our brothers and
sisters. How can we begin to grasp the enormity of what took place in those
infamous prisons? The entire human race feels deep shame at the savage
brutality shown to your people at that time. Allow me to recall what I said
on that sombre occasion: "The rulers of the Third Reich wanted to crush the
entire Jewish people, to cancel it from the register of the peoples of the
earth. Thus the words of the Psalm, ‘We are being killed, accounted as sheep
for the slaughter’, were fulfilled in a terrifying way."
Our meeting today occurs in the context of your visit to Italy in
conjunction with your annual Leadership Mission to Israel. I too am
preparing to visit Israel, a land which is holy for Christians as well as
Jews, since the roots of our faith are to be found there. Indeed, the Church
draws its sustenance from the root of that good olive tree, the people of
Israel, onto which have been grafted the wild olive branches of the Gentiles
(cf. Rom 11: 17-24). From the earliest days of Christianity, our identity
and every aspect of our life and worship have been intimately bound up with
the ancient religion of our fathers in faith.
The two-thousand-year history of the relationship between Judaism and the
Church has passed through many different phases, some of them painful to
recall. Now that we are able to meet in a spirit of reconciliation, we must
not allow past difficulties to hold us back from extending to one another
the hand of friendship. Indeed, what family is there that has not been
troubled by tensions of one kind or another? The Second Vatican Council’s
Declaration "Nostra Aetate" marked a milestone in the journey towards
reconciliation, and clearly outlined the principles that have governed the
Church’s approach to Christian-Jewish relations ever since. The Church is
profoundly and irrevocably committed to reject all anti-Semitism and to
continue to build good and lasting relations between our two communities. If
there is one particular image which encapsulates this commitment, it is the
moment when my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II stood at the Western
Wall in Jerusalem, pleading for God’s forgiveness after all the injustice
that the Jewish people have had to suffer. I now make his prayer my own:
"God of our fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your
Name to the Nations: we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in
the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and
asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood
with the people of the Covenant" (26 March 2000).
The hatred and contempt for men, women and children that was manifested in
the Shoah was a crime against God and against humanity. This should be clear
to everyone, especially to those standing in the tradition of the Holy
Scriptures, according to which every human being is created in the image and
likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27). It is beyond question that any denial or
minimization of this terrible crime is intolerable and altogether
unacceptable. Recently, in a public audience, I reaffirmed that the Shoah
must be "a warning for all against forgetfulness, denial or reductionism,
because violence committed against one single human being is violence
against all" (January 28, 2009).
This terrible chapter in our history must never be forgotten. Remembrance --
it is rightly said -- is memoria futuri, a warning to us for the future, and
a summons to strive for reconciliation. To remember is to do everything in
our power to prevent any recurrence of such a catastrophe within the human
family by building bridges of lasting friendship. It is my fervent prayer
that the memory of this appalling crime will strengthen our determination to
heal the wounds that for too long have sullied relations between Christians
and Jews. It is my heartfelt desire that the friendship we now enjoy will
grow ever stronger, so that the Church’s irrevocable commitment to
respectful and harmonious relations with the people of the Covenant will
bear fruit in abundance.
© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to
"The World Needs a Visible Sign of the Mystery of Unity"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today
upon receiving in audience members of the Joint International Commission for
Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox
* * *
Dear brothers in Christ,
I extend a warm welcome to you, the members of the Joint International
Commission for Theological Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the
Oriental Orthodox Churches. At the end of this week of dedicated work we can
give thanks together to the Lord for your steadfast commitment to the search
for reconciliation and communion in the Body of Christ which is the Church.
Indeed, each of you brings to this task not only the richness of your own
tradition, but also the commitment of the Churches involved in this dialogue
to overcome the divisions of the past and to strengthen the united witness
of Christians in the face of the enormous challenges facing believers today.
The world needs a visible sign of the mystery of unity that binds the three
divine Persons and, that two thousand years ago, with the Incarnation of the
Son of God, was revealed to us. The tangibility of the Gospel message is
conveyed perfectly by John, when he declares his intention to express what
he has heard and his eyes have seen and his hands have touched, so that all
may have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Jn
1:1-4). Our communion through the grace of the Holy Spirit in the life that
unites the Father and the Son has a perceptible dimension within the Church,
the Body of Christ, "the fullness of him who fills all in all" (Eph 1:23),
and we all have a duty to work for the manifestation of that essential
dimension of the Church to the world.
Your sixth meeting has taken important steps precisely in the study of the
Church as communion. The very fact that the dialogue has continued over time
and is hosted each year by one of the several Churches you represent is
itself a sign of hope and encouragement. We need only cast our minds to the
Middle East -- from where many of you come -- to see that true seeds of hope
are urgently needed in a world wounded by the tragedy of division, conflict
and immense human suffering.
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity has just concluded with the ceremony
in the Basilica dedicated to the great apostle Paul, at which many of you
were present. Paul was the first great champion and theologian of the
Church's unity. His efforts and struggles were inspired by the enduring
aspiration to maintain a visible, not merely external, but real and full
communion among the Lord's disciples. Therefore, through Paul's
intercession, I ask for God's blessings on you all, and on the Churches and
the peoples you represent.
Pope's Telegram to New
Russian Patriarch Kirill
"May the Almighty Bless Your Efforts to Maintain Communion"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 28, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the telegram
that Benedict XVI sent today to Metropolitan Kirill, the newly elected
patriarch of Moscow and of All Russia.
* * *
To His Holiness Kirill
Patriarch of Moscow and of All Russia
I have received with gladness the news of your election as patriarch of
Moscow and all Russia. I warmly congratulate you and wish you every strength
and joy in the fulfillment of the great task which lies before you as you
guide the Church over which you now preside along the path of spiritual
growth and unity.
In prayer, I ask the Lord to grant you an abundance of wisdom to discern his
will, to persevere in loving service of the people entrusted to your
patriarchal ministry, and to sustain them in fidelity to the Gospel and the
great traditions of Russian Orthodoxy. May the Almighty also bless your
efforts to maintain communion among the Orthodox Churches and to seek that
fullness of communion which is the goal of Catholic-Orthodox collaboration
I assure Your Holiness of my spiritual closeness and of the Catholic
Church's commitment to cooperate with the Russian Orthodox Church for an
ever clearer witness to the truth of the Christian message and to the values
which alone can sustain today's world along the way of peace, justice and
loving care of the marginalized. With brotherly affection in the Lord Jesus
Christ, I invoke upon you the Holy Spirit's gifts of wisdom, strength and
From the Vatican, 28 January 2009
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Papal Homily at Conclusion of Unity Week
"Why Have You Wounded the Unity of My Body?"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the
homily Benedict XVI gave today at the celebration of vespers for the
feast of the Conversion of St. Paul. With this ceremony, held at the
Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls, the Week of Prayer for Christian
Representatives of Churches and ecclesial communities of Rome were
present at the event.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
It is a great joy every time we find ourselves gathered at the tomb of
the Apostle Paul on the liturgical feast of his conversion to conclude
the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I greet all of you with
affection. I greet in a special way Cardinal Cordero Lanza di
Montezemolo, the abbot and the community of monks who are hosting us. I
also greet Cardinal Kasper, the president of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity. I greet along with him the lord cardinals who
are present, the bishops and the pastors of the various Churches and
ecclesial communities gathered here this evening.
A special word of recognition goes to those who worked together in
preparing the prayer guides, experiencing firsthand the exercise of
reflecting and meeting in listening to each other and, all together, to
the Word of God.
St. Paul's conversion offers us a model that shows us the way to full
unity. Unity in fact requires a conversion: from division to communion,
from broken unity to healed and full unity. This conversion is the gift
of the Risen Christ, as it was for St. Paul. We heard this from the
Apostle himself in the reading proclaimed just a moment ago: "By the
grace of God I am what I am" (1 Corinthians 15:10).
The same Lord, who called Saul on the road to Damascus, addresses
himself to the members of the Church -- which is one and holy -- and
calling each by name asks: Why have you divided me? Why have you wounded
the unity of my body?
Conversion implies two dimensions. In the first step we recognize our
faults in the light of Christ, and this recognition becomes sorrow and
repentance, desire for a new beginning. In the second step we recognize
that this new road cannot come from us. It consists in letting ourselves
be conquered by Christ. As St. Paul says: "I continue my pursuit in hope
that I may possess it, since I have indeed been conquered by Christ
Jesus" (Philippians 3:12).
Conversion demands our yes, my "pursuit"; it is not ultimately my
activity, but a gift, a letting ourselves be formed by Christ; it is
death and resurrection. This is why St. Paul does not say: "I converted"
but rather "I died" (Galatians 2:19), I am a new creature. In reality,
St. Paul's conversion was not a passage from immorality to morality,
from a mistaken faith to a right faith, but it was a being conquered by
Christ: the renunciation of his own perfection; it was the humility of
one who puts himself without reserve in the service of Christ for the
brethren. And only in this renunciation of ourselves, in this conforming
to Christ are we also united among ourselves; we become "one" in Christ.
It is communion with the risen Christ that gives us unity.
We can observe an interesting analogy with the dynamic of St. Paul's
conversion also in meditating on the biblical text of the prophet
Ezekiel (37:15-28), which was chosen as a basis for our prayer this
year. In it, in fact, the symbolic gesture is presented of two sticks
being joined into one in the prophet's hand, who represents God's future
action with this gesture. It is the second part of Chapter 37, which in
the first part contains the celebrated vision of the dry bones and the
resurrection of Israel, worked by the Spirit of God.
How can we not see that the prophetic sign of the reunification of the
people of Israel is placed after the great symbol of the dry bones
brought to life by the Spirit? There follows from this a theological
pattern analogous to that of St. Paul's conversion: God's power is first
and he works the resurrection as a new creation by his Spirit. This God,
who is the Creator and is able to resurrect the dead, is also able to
bring a people divided in two back to unity.
Paul -- like Ezekiel but more than Ezekiel -- becomes the chosen
instrument of the preaching of the unity won by Christ through his cross
and resurrection: the unity between the Jews and the pagans, to form one
new people. Christ's resurrection extends the boundary of unity: not
only the unity of the tribes of Israel, but the unity of the Jews and
the pagans (cf. Ephesians 2; John 10:16); the unification of humanity
dispersed by sin and still more the unity of all who believe in Christ.
We owe this choice of the passage from the prophet Ezekiel to our Korean
brothers, who felt the call of this biblical passage strongly, both as
Koreans and Christians. In the division of the Jewish people into two
kingdoms they saw themselves reflected, the children of one land who, on
account of political events, have been divided, north from south. Their
human experience helped them to better understand the drama of the
division among Christians.
Now, from this Word of God, chosen by our Korean brothers and proposed
to all, a truth full of hope emerges: God allows his people a new unity,
which must be a sign and an instrument of reconciliation and peace, even
at the historical level, for all nations. The unity that God gives his
Church, and for which we pray, is naturally communion in the spiritual
sense, in faith and in charity; but we know that this unity in Christ is
also the ferment of fraternity in the social sphere, in relations
between nations and for the whole human family. It is the leaven of the
Kingdom of God that makes all the dough rise (cf. Matthew 13:33).
In this sense, the prayer that we offer up in these days, taking our cue
from the prophecy of Ezekiel, has also become intercession for the
different situations of conflict that afflict humanity at present. There
where human words become powerless, because the tragic noise of violence
and arms prevails, the prophetic power of the Word of God does not
weaken and it repeats to us that peace is possible, and that we must be
instruments of reconciliation and peace. For this reason our prayer for
unity and peace always requires confirmation by courageous gestures of
reconciliation among us Christians.
Once again I think of the Holy Land: how important it is that the
faithful who live there, and the pilgrims who travel there, offer a
witness to everyone that diversity of rites and traditions need not be
an obstacle to mutual respect and to fraternal charity. In the
legitimate diversity of different positions we must seek unity in faith,
in our fundamental "yes" to Christ and to his one Church. And thus the
differences will no longer be an obstacle that separates but richness in
the multiplicity of the expressions of a common faith.
I would like to conclude this reflection of mine with a reference to an
event that we older people here have certainly not forgotten. In this
place on Jan. 25, 1959, exactly 50 years ago, Blessed Pope John XXIII
announced for this first time his desire to convoke "an ecumenical
Council for the universal Church" (AAS LI , p. 68). He made this
announcement to the cardinals in the chapter room of the Monastery of
St. Paul, after having celebrated solemn Mass in the Basilica.
From the providential decision, suggested to my venerable predecessor,
according to his firm conviction, by the Holy Spirit, there also derived
a fundamental contribution to ecumenism, condensed in the decree "Unitatis
Redintegratio." In that document we read: "There can be no ecumenism
worthy of the name without a change of heart. For it is from renewal of
the inner life of our minds, from self-denial and an unstinted love that
desires of unity take their rise and develop in a mature way" (7).
The attitude of interior conversion in Christ, of spiritual renewal, of
increased charity toward other Christians, created a new situation in
ecumenical relations. The fruits of theological dialogues, with their
convergences and with the more precise identification of the differences
that still remain, led to a courageous pursuit in two directions: in the
reception of what was positively achieved and a renewed dedication to
Opportunely, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which
I thank for the service it renders to all the disciples of the Lord, has
recently reflected on the reception and future of ecumenical dialogue.
Such a reflection, if on one hand rightly desires to emphasize what has
already been achieved, on the other hand intends to find new ways to
continue the relations between the Churches and the ecclesial
Communities in the present context.
The horizon of full unity remains open before us. It is an arduous task,
but it is exciting for those Christians who want to live in harmony with
the prayer of the Lord: "that all be one so that the world believes"
(John 17:21). The Second Vatican Council explained to us "that human
powers and capacities cannot achieve this holy objective -- the
reconciling of all Christians in the unity of the one and only Church of
Christ" ("Unitatis redintegratio," 24).
Trusting in the prayer of the Lord Jesus Christ, and encouraged by the
significant steps made by the ecumenical movement, with faith we invoke
the Holy Spirit that he continue to illumine our path. May the Apostle
Paul, who worked so hard and suffered for the unity of the mystical body
of Christ, spur us on from heaven; and may the Blessed Virgin Mary,
Mother of the unity of the Church, accompany and sustain us.
On Seeking Christian Unity
"We Should Respond With Generosity"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict
XVI delivered during today's general audience in Paul VI Hall.
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters:
The Week of Prayer for Christian Unity began last Sunday and will conclude
this Sunday, feast of the Conversion of St. Paul, the Apostle. This is a
beautiful spiritual initiative, which is spreading more and more among
Christians, in harmony, and we could say, in response to the pressing
invocation that Jesus directed to the Father from the Upper Room: "That they
may all be one, that the world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:21).
On four occasions during this priestly prayer, the Lord asks that his
disciples be one, according to the image of the unity between the Father and
the Son. This is a unity that can only grow in the example of the surrender
of the Son to the Father, that is, going out of oneself and uniting oneself
to Christ. Twice, moreover, in this prayer, Jesus adds as the objective of
this union: That the world may believe. Full unity is connected, therefore
with the life and the very mission of the Church in the world. [The Church]
should live a unity that can only be derived from her unity with Christ,
with its transcendence, as a sign that Christ is the truth.
This is our responsibility: That the gift of unity be visible for the world,
in virtue of which our faith is made credible. For this, it is important
that each Christian community become aware of the urgency of working in
every way possible to reach this grand objective. Only going out of
ourselves and toward Christ, only in this relationship with him can we come
to be truly united among ourselves. This is the invitation that, with the
present week [of prayer], is directed to believers in Christ of every Church
and ecclesial community; to him, dear brothers and sisters, we should
respond with generosity.
This year, the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity proposes for our
meditation and prayer words taken from the book of the prophet Ezekiel:
"That They May Become One in Your Hand" (37:17). The theme was chosen by an
ecumenical group from Korea and then revised for its international use by
the Mixed Committee of Prayer, formed by representatives of the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Ecumenical Council of the
Churches of Geneva. The process itself of preparation has been a stimulating
and fruitful exercise of authentic ecumenism.
In the passage of the book of the prophet Ezekiel from which the theme has
been taken, the Lord orders the prophet to take two sticks, one as a symbol
of Judah and his tribes and the other as a symbol of Joseph and of the whole
house of Israel united to him, and he asks him to "join" the two such that
they form "just one stick" in his hand. The parable of unity is transparent.
To the "sons of the people" who ask for an explanation, Ezekiel, enlightened
from on high, will say that the Lord himself takes the two sticks and joins
them, such that the two kingdoms with their respective tribes, divided among
themselves, become "one in your hand." The hand of the prophet, which joins
the two shoots, is considered as the hand of God himself that gathers and
unites his people and finally, the whole of humanity.
We can apply the words of the prophet to Christians, as an exhortation to
pray and to work, doing everything possible so that the unity of all the
disciples of Christ is fulfilled, to work so that our hand is an instrument
of the unifying hand of God. This exhortation appears particularly moving
and urgent in the words of Jesus after the Last Supper. The Lord wants his
entire people to walk -- and he sees in this the Church of the future, of
future centuries -- with patience and perseverance toward the fulfillment of
full union. This is a commitment that implies the docile and humble
adherence to the commandment of the Lord, who blesses it and makes it
fruitful. The prophet Ezekiel assures us that it will be precisely him, our
only Lord, the only God, who takes us in "his hand."
In the second part of the biblical reading, the meaning and the conditions
for the unity of the various tribes in just one kingdom are considered in
depth. In the dispersion among the Gentiles, the Israelites had learned
erroneous cults, had assimilated mistaken concepts of life, had taken on
customs foreign to divine law. Now the Lord declares that they will no
longer be contaminated with idols from the pagan peoples, with their
abominations, with all of their iniquities (cf. Ezekiel 37:23). He reclaims
the need to liberate them from sin, to purify their heart: "I will deliver
them from all their sins of apostasy," he affirms" and cleanse them." And
thus, "they may be my people and I may be their God" (ibid.)
In this condition of interior renovation, they will "live by my statutes and
carefully observe my decrees." And the prophetic text concludes with the
definitive and fully salvific promise: "I will make with them a covenant of
peace … and put my sanctuary among them forever" (Ezekiel 37:26).
Ezekiel's vision is particularly eloquent for the whole ecumenical movement
because it makes clear the unavoidable demand of an authentic interior
renewal in every component of the People of God, which only the Lord can
bring about. We too should be open to this renewal, because we too,
dispersed among the peoples of the world, have learned customs very far from
the Word of God: "Every renewal of the Church," reads the decree on
ecumenism from the Second Vatican Council, "is essentially grounded in an
increase of fidelity to her own calling. Undoubtedly this is the basis of
the movement toward unity" ("Unitatis Redintegratio," 6), that is, greater
fidelity to the vocation from God.
The decree emphasizes as well the interior dimension of the conversion of
the heart. "There can be no ecumenism worthy of the name," it adds, "without
a change of heart. For it is from renewal of the inner life of our minds,
from self-denial and an unstinted love that desires of unity take their rise
and develop in a mature way" ("Unitatis Redintegratio," 7). The Week of
Prayer for Christian Unity becomes for all of us, in this way, a stimulant
toward a sincere conversion and an ever more docile listening to the Word of
God, toward an ever deeper faith.
The week is also a conducive occasion for thanking the Lord for how much he
has conceded already "to join" one to another, divided Christians, and the
Churches themselves and ecclesial communities. This spirit has animated the
Catholic Church, which, during the last year, has progressed with firm
conviction and sure hope, maintaining fraternal and respectful relations
with all the Churches and ecclesial communities of East and West. In the
diversity of situations, sometimes more positive, and sometimes more
difficult, it has worked to never fail in the effort of implementing every
effort for the restoration of full unity. The relationships between the
Churches and the theological dialogues have continued giving encouraging
signs of spiritual convergence. I myself have had the joy of meeting, here
in the Vatican and in the course of my apostolic trips, Christians coming
from every horizon.
I have welcomed with joy on three occasions the ecumenical patriarch, His
Holiness Bartholomew I, and -- an extraordinary happening -- we heard him
take the floor, with fraternal ecclesial warmth and with convinced trust in
the future, during the recent assembly of the synod of bishops. I have had
the pleasure of receiving the two catholicoi of the Armenian Apostolic
Church, His Holiness Karekin II of Etchmiadzin and His Holiness Aram I of
Antelias. And finally, I have shared the sorrow of the Patriarchate of
Moscow at the passing of our beloved brother in Christ, Patriarch His
Holiness Alexy II, and I continue remaining in communion of prayer with
these our brothers who prepare to choose the new patriarch of that venerated
and great Orthodox Church.
Likewise, I have had the chance to meet with representatives of the diverse
Christian Communions of the West, with whom continues the dialogue about the
important testimony that Christians should give today in harmony, in a world
ever more divided and facing so many challenges of a cultural, social,
economic and ethical character. For these and for so many other meetings,
dialogues and gestures of fraternity that the Lord has permitted us to be
able to carry out, let us give thanks together with joy.
Dear brothers and sisters, let us take advantage of the opportunity that the
Week of Prayer for Christian Unity offers us to ask the Lord for a
continuation, and if it is possible, an intensification of ecumenical
dialogue and commitment. In the context of the Pauline year, which
commemorates the 2,000th anniversary of the birth of St. Paul, we cannot
fail to refer to what the Apostle Paul left written for us regarding the
unity of the Church.
Every Wednesday, I am dedicating my reflections to his letters and his
beautiful teaching. I take up again here simply what he wrote to the
community of Ephesus: "One body and one Spirit, as you were also called to
the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians
4:4-5). Let us make our own the desire of St. Paul, who dedicated his entire
life for the one Lord and for the unity of his mystical body, the Church,
giving with his martyrdom, a supreme testimony of fidelity and love for
Following his example and counting on his intercession, may each community
grow in the determination for unity, thanks to the diverse spiritual and
pastoral initiatives and the assemblies of common prayer, which tend to
become more numerous and intense in this week, bringing us to already
foretaste, in a certain way, the joy of full union.
Let us pray so that between the Churches and ecclesial communities, dialogue
in the truth continues, indispensable for resolving divergences, and
[dialogue] in charity, which conditions the theological dialogue and helps
to live united for a common testimony. The desire that dwells in our hearts
is that the day of full communion arrives soon, when all of the disciples of
our one Lord can finally celebrate the Eucharist together, the divine
sacrifice for the life and salvation of the world. We invoke the maternal
intercession of Mary so that she helps all Christians to cultivate a more
attentive listening to the Word of God and a more intense prayer for unity.
[Translation by ZENIT]
[The Holy Father then greeted the people in several languages. In English,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last Sunday we began the annual Week of Prayer for Christian Unity dedicated
this year to the theme: "that they may become one in your hand" (Ezek
37:17). This scripture passage recalls God’s command to Ezekiel to take two
sticks, one representing Judah and the other Israel, and join them together
as a symbol of the Lord’s power to gather his people into one. As
Christians, we read these words as an exhortation to pray and work for the
full unity of Christ’s disciples. As the Second Vatican Council reminds us,
"there can be no ecumenism worthy of the name without a change of heart" (Unitatis
Redintegratio, 7). This week offers us an opportunity to thank God for all
he has done and continues to do to bring Christians closer to one another. I
am personally grateful for the many opportunities I have had to meet with
representatives of Churches and Ecclesial Communities, both in the Vatican
and during my travels abroad. Let us pray that the various initiatives this
week at the local and universal levels will encourage all who confess "one
Lord, one faith, and one baptism" to listen more attentively to the Word of
God, to deepen prayer, and to intensify dialogue, so as to imitate Saint
Paul’s example of a life completely devoted to the Lord and the unity of his
Body, the Church.
I offer a warm welcome to all the English-speaking visitors present at
today’s Audience. My particular greeting goes to the pilgrimage group from
Malta led by Archbishop Paul Cremona. Upon all of you I cordially invoke an
abundance of joy and peace in the Lord.
© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Papal Address to
"Let Us Pray That the Spirit of Truth Will Guide Us Toward Ever Greater
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 20, 2009 - Here is the text of the address Benedict
XVI gave Monday to an ecumenical delegation from Finland, visiting Rome
on the occasion of the feast of their patron.
* * *
Dear distinguished Friends from Finland,
It is with great joy that I welcome all of you on this annual visit to
Rome for the feast of your patron, Saint Henrik, and I thank Bishop
Gustav Björkstrand for the kind words addressed to me on your behalf.
These pilgrimages are an occasion for shared prayer, reflection and
dialogue in the service of our quest for full communion. Your visit is
taking place during the Week of Prayer of Christian Unity whose theme
this year is taken from the Book of Ezekiel: "That they may become one
in your hand" (Ez 37:15-23). The prophet's vision is that of two pieces
of wood, symbolizing the two kingdoms into which God's people had been
divided, being brought together again into one (Ezekiel 37:15-23). In
the context of ecumenism, it speaks to us of God who constantly draws us
into deeper unity in Christ, by renewing us and liberating us from our
The Lutheran-Catholic Dialogue Commission in Finland and Sweden
continues to consider the Joint Declaration on Justification. This year
we celebrate the tenth anniversary of this significant statement, and
the Commission is now studying its implications and the possibility of
its reception. Under the theme Justification in the Life of the Church,
the dialogue is taking ever fuller account of the nature of the Church
as the sign and instrument of the salvation brought about in Jesus
Christ, and not simply a mere assembly of believers or an institution
with various functions.
Your pilgrimage to Rome takes place within the Pauline Year - the two
thousandth anniversary of the birth of the Apostle to the Nations, whose
life and teaching were tirelessly committed to the unity of the Church.
Saint Paul reminds us of the marvellous grace we have received by
becoming members of Christ's body through baptism (cf. 1 Cor 12:12-31).
The Church is this mystical Body of Christ, and is continuously guided
by the Holy Spirit; the Spirit of the Father and the Son. It is only
based on this incarnational reality that the sacramental character of
the Church as communion in Christ can be understood. A consensus with
regard to the profoundly Christological and pneumatological implications
of the mystery of the Church would prove a most promising basis for the
From Paul we also learn that the unity we seek is nothing less than the
manifestation of our full incorporation into the Body of Christ, whereby
"all you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. . . for
you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3:27-28). To this end, dear
friends, it is my fervent hope that your visit to Rome will further
strengthen the ecumenical relations between Lutherans and Catholics in
Finland, which have been so positive for many years. Together, let us
thank God for all that has been achieved to date in Catholic-Lutheran
relations, and let us pray that the Spirit of truth will guide us
towards ever greater unity, in the service of the Gospel.
With these sentiments of affection in the Lord, and at the beginning of
this new year, I invoke upon you and your families God's gifts of joy
© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Paul and Justification
"To Be Just Means Simply to Be With Christ and in Christ"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 19, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address
Benedict XVI delivered during today's general audience in St. Peter's
The Holy Father continued today the cycle of catecheses dedicated to
the figure and thought of St. Paul.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
On the journey we have undertaken under the guidance of St. Paul, we
now wish to reflect on a topic that is at the center of the
controversies of the century of the Reformation: the issue of
justification. How is a man just in the eyes of God? When Paul met the
Risen One on the road to Damascus he was a fulfilled man:
irreproachable in regard to justice derived from the law (cf.
Philippians 3:6); he surpassed many of his contemporaries in the
observance of the Mosaic prescriptions and was zealous in upholding the
traditions of his forefathers (cf. Galatians 1:14).
The illumination of Damascus changed his life radically: He began to
regard all his merits, achievements of a most honest religious career,
as "loss" in face of the sublimity of knowledge of Jesus Christ (cf.
Philippians 3:8). The Letter to the Philippians gives us a moving
testimony of Paul's turning from a justice based on the law and
achieved by observance of the prescribed works, to a justice based on
faith in Christ: He understood all that up to now had seemed a gain to
him was in fact a loss before God, and because of this decided to
dedicate his whole life to Jesus Christ (cf. Philippians 3:7). The
treasure hidden in the field, and the precious pearl in whose
possession he invests everything, were no longer the works of the law,
but Jesus Christ, his Lord.
The relationship between Paul and the Risen One is so profound that it
impels him to affirm that Christ was not only his life, but his living,
to the point that to be able to reach him, even death was a gain (cf.
Philippians 1:21). It was not because he did not appreciate life, but
because he understood that for him, living no longer had another
objective; therefore, he no longer had a desire other than to reach
Christ, as in an athletic competition, to be with him always. The Risen
One had become the beginning and end of his existence, the reason and
goal of his running. Only concern for the growth in faith of those he
had evangelized and solicitude for all the Churches he had founded (cf.
2 Corinthians 11:28), induced him to slow down the run toward his only
Lord, to wait for his disciples, so that they would be able to run to
the goal with him. If in the previous observance of the law he had
nothing to reproach himself from the point of view of moral integrity,
once overtaken by Christ he preferred not to judge himself (cf. 1
Corinthians 4:3-4), but limited himself to run to conquer the one who
had conquered him (cf. Philippians 3:12).
It is precisely because of this personal experience of the relationship
with Jesus that Paul places at the center of his Gospel an irreducible
opposition between two alternative paths to justice: one based on the
works of the law, the other founded on the grace of faith in Christ.
The alternative between justice through the works of the law and
justice through faith in Christ thus becomes one of the dominant themes
that runs through his letters: "We ourselves, who are Jews by birth and
not Gentile sinners, yet who know that a man is not justified by works
of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in
Jesus Christ, in order to be justified by faith in Christ, and not by
works of the law, because by works of the law shall no one be
justified" (Galatians 2:15-16).
And, he reaffirms to the Christians of Rome that "all have sinned and
fall short of the glory of God, they are justified by his grace as a
gift, through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" (Romans
3:23-24). And he adds: "For we hold that a man is justified by faith
apart from works of law" (Ibid. 28). Luther translated this point as
"justified by faith alone." I will return to this at the end of the
First, we must clarify what is the "law" from which we have been freed
and what are those "works of the law" that do not justify. Already in
the community of Corinth there was the opinion, which will return many
times in history, which consisted in thinking that it was a question of
the moral law, and that Christian freedom consisted therefore in being
free from ethics. So, the words "panta mou estin" (everything is licit
for me) circulated in Corinth. It is obvious that this interpretation
is erroneous: Christian liberty is not libertinism; the freedom of
which St. Paul speaks is not freedom from doing good.
Therefore, what is the meaning of the law from which we have been freed
and that does not save? For St. Paul, as well as for all his
contemporaries, the word law meant the Torah in its totality, namely,
the five books of Moses. In the Pharisaic interpretation, the Torah
implied what Paul had studied and made his own, a collection of
behaviors extending from an ethical foundation to the ritual and
cultural observances that substantially determined the identity of the
just man -- particularly circumcision, the observance regarding pure
food and general ritual purity, the rules regarding observance of the
Sabbath, etc. These behaviors often appear in the debates between Jesus
and his contemporaries. All these observances that express a social,
cultural and religious identity had come to be singularly important at
the time of Hellenistic culture, beginning in the 3rd century B.C.
This culture, which had become the universal culture of the time, was a
seemingly rational culture, an apparently tolerant polytheist culture,
which constituted a strong pressure toward cultural uniformity and thus
threatened the identity of Israel, which was politically obliged to
enter into this common identity of Hellenistic culture with the
consequent loss of its own identity, loss hence also of the precious
inheritance of the faith of their Fathers, of faith in the one God and
in God's promises.
Against this cultural pressure, which not only threatened Jewish
identity but also faith in the one God and his promises, it was
necessary to create a wall of distinction, a defense shield that would
protect the precious inheritance of the faith; this wall would consist
precisely of the Jewish observances and prescriptions. Paul, who had
learned these observances precisely in their defensive function of the
gift of God, of the inheritance of the faith in only one God, saw this
identity threatened by the freedom of Christians: That is why he
persecuted them. At the moment of his encounter with the Risen One he
understood that with Christ's resurrection the situation had changed
radically. With Christ, the God of Israel, the only true God became the
God of all peoples.
The wall -- so says the Letter to the Ephesians -- between Israel and
the pagans was no longer necessary: It is Christ who protects us
against polytheism and all its deviations; it is Christ who unites us
with and in the one God; it is Christ who guarantees our true identity
in the diversity of cultures; and it is he who makes us just. To be
just means simply to be with Christ and in Christ. And this suffices.
Other observances are no longer necessary.
That is why Luther's expression "sola fide" is true if faith is not
opposed to charity, to love. Faith is to look at Christ, to entrust
oneself to Christ, to be united to Christ, to be conformed to Christ,
to his life. And the form, the life of Christ, is love; hence, to
believe is to be conformed to Christ and to enter into his love. That
is why, in the Letter to the Galatians, St. Paul develops above all his
doctrine on justification; he speaks of faith that operates through
charity (cf. Galatians 5:14).
Paul knows that in the double love of God and neighbor the whole law is
fulfilled. Thus the whole law is observed in communion with Christ, in
faith that creates charity. We are just when we enter into communion
with Christ, who is love. We will see the same in next Sunday's Gospel
for the solemnity of Christ the King. It is the Gospel of the judge
whose sole criterion is love. What I ask is only this: Did you visit me
when I was sick? When I was in prison? Did you feed me when I was
hungry, clothe me when I was naked? So justice is decided in charity.
Thus, at the end of this Gospel, we can say: love alone, charity alone.
However, there is no contradiction between this Gospel and St. Paul. It
is the same vision, the one according to which communion with Christ,
faith in Christ, creates charity. And charity is the realization of
communion with Christ. Thus, being united to him we are just, and in no
At the end, we can only pray to the Lord so that he will help us to
believe. To really believe; belief thus becomes life, unity with
Christ, the transformation of our life. And thus, transformed by his
love, by love of God and neighbor, we can really be just in the eyes of
[At the end of the Audience, Benedict XVI greeted pilgrims in several
languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In our continuing catechesis on St. Paul, we now consider his teaching
on our justification. Paul’s experience of the Risen Lord on the road
to Damascus led him to see that it is only by faith in Christ, and not
by any merit of our own, that we are made righteous before God. Our
justification in Christ is thus God’s gracious gift, revealed in the
mystery of the Cross. Christ died in order to become our wisdom,
righteousness, sanctification and redemption (cf. 1 Cor 1:30), and we
in turn, justified by faith, have become in him the very righteousness
of God (cf. 2 Cor 5:21). In the light of the Cross and its gifts of
reconciliation and new life in the Spirit, Paul rejected a
righteousness based on the Law and its works.
For the Apostle, the Mosaic Law, as an irrevocable gift of God to
Israel, is not abrogated but relativized, since it is only by faith in
God’s promises to Abraham, now fulfilled in Christ, that we receive the
grace of justification and new life. The Law finds its end in Christ
(cf. Rom 10:4) and its fulfilment in the new commandment of love. With
Paul, then, let us make the Cross of Christ our only boast (cf. Gal
6:14), and give thanks for the grace which has made us members of
Christ’s Body, which is the Church.
Lutheran Welcomes Papal Comments on
ROME, NOV. 20, 2008- Benedict XVI's catechesis on
justification at the general audience and his comments regarding Martin
Luther were welcomed by a Lutheran leader in Rome.
The dean of the Lutheran Church of Italy, Holger Milkau, said that
"it's always a pleasure to hear the Pope speak of Luther, above all if
he considers arguments they share."
The Holy Father said Wednesday that Luther's expression "by faith
alone" is true "if faith is not opposed to charity, to love. Faith is
to look at Christ, to entrust oneself to Christ, to be united to
Christ, to be conformed to Christ, to his life. And the form, the life
of Christ, is love; hence, to believe is to be conformed to Christ and
to enter into his love."
Lutherans and Catholics have officially professed a common faith on the
doctrine of justification, signing a joint statement Oct. 31, 1999.
The statement states "that on the basis of their dialogue the
subscribing Lutheran churches and the Roman Catholic Church are now
able to articulate a common understanding of our justification by God's
grace through faith in Christ. It does not cover all that either church
teaches about justification; it does encompass a consensus on basic
truths of the doctrine of justification and shows that the remaining
differences in its explication are no longer the occasion for doctrinal
Jewish Dialogue Committee
"God's Word Is a Lamp and a Light to Our Path"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2008 - Here is the greeting Benedict XVI gave
today to the members of the International Jewish Committee on
Interreligious Consultations, upon receiving the delegates in audience.
* * *
I am pleased to welcome this delegation of the International Jewish
Committee on Interreligious Consultations. For over thirty years your
Committee and the Holy See have had regular and fruitful contacts,
which have contributed to greater understanding and acceptance between
Catholics and Jews. I gladly take this occasion to reaffirm the
Church’s commitment to implementing the principles set forth in the
historic Declaration Nostra Aetate of the Second Vatican Council. That
Declaration, which firmly condemned all forms of antisemitism,
represented both a significant milestone in the long history of
Catholic-Jewish relations and a summons to a renewed theological
understanding of the relations between the Church and the Jewish People.
Christians today are increasingly conscious of the spiritual patrimony
they share with the people of the Torah, the people chosen by God in
his inexpressible mercy, a patrimony that calls for greater mutual
appreciation, respect and love (cf. Nostra Aetate, 4). Jews too are
challenged to discover what they have in common with all who believe in
the Lord, the God of Israel, who first revealed himself through his
powerful and life-giving word. As the Psalmist reminds us, God’s word
is a lamp and a light to our path; it keeps us alive and gives us new
life (cf. Ps 119:105). That word spurs us to bear common witness to
God’s love, mercy and truth. This is a a vital service in our own time,
threatened by the loss of the spiritual and moral values which
guarantee human dignity, solidarity, justice and peace.
In our troubled world, so frequently marked by poverty, violence and
exploitation, dialogue between cultures and religions must more and
more be seen as a sacred duty incumbent upon all those who are
committed to building a world worthy of man. The ability to accept and
respect one another, and to speak the truth in love, is essential for
overcoming differences, preventing misunderstandings and avoiding
needless confrontations. As you yourselves have experienced through the
years in the meetings of the International Liaison Committee, dialogue
is only serious and honest when it respects differences and recognizes
others precisely in their otherness. A sincere dialogue needs both
openness and a firm sense of identity on both sides, in order for each
to be enriched by the gifts of the other.
In recent months, I have had the pleasure of meeting with Jewish
communities in New York, Paris and here in the Vatican. I thank the
Lord for these encounters, and for the progress in Catholic-Jewish
relations which they reflect. In this spirit, then, I encourage you to
persevere in your important work with patience and renewed commitment.
I offer you my prayerful good wishes as your Committee prepares to meet
next month in Budapest with a delegation of the Holy See's Commission
for Religious Relations with the Jews, in order to discuss the theme:
"Religion and Civil Society Today".
With these sentiments, dear friends, I ask the Almighty to continue to
watch over you and your families, and to guide your steps in the way of
Letter to Alexy II
"I Never Cease to Offer Daily Prayers for Peace"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 6, 2008 - Here is the personal message Benedict XVI
sent to Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, which was hand-delivered
to Alexy II last Thursday by the archbishop of Naples, Cardinal
Crescenzio Sepe, on an official visit to Moscow at the invitation of
* * *
To His Holiness Alexy II, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia
The visit of His Eminence Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, Archbishop of
Naples, offers me the occasion to extend to Your Holiness my cordial
and fraternal greetings in the Lord. I have a deep affection for all
the Orthodox brethren, and I am particularly close to them in these
most recent days when conflict has caused significant suffering to
peoples so dear to me. I never cease to offer daily prayers for peace,
asking the Lord that the appeals of Your Holiness to resolve all
hostility for the good of the nations may be heeded. Faith in our Lord
Jesus Christ is a bond that unites hearts in a profound way and invites
us all to strengthen our commitment to manifest to the world a shared
witness of living together respectfully and peacefully. Our times,
marked so often by conflict and grief, make it even more necessary to
hasten the journey toward the full unity of all the disciples of
Christ, so that the joyous message of salvation may be spread to all
Invoking upon Your Holiness the maternal protection of Mary, Mother of
God, that she may preserve you in full health and assist you in your
daily ministry, I renew to you the assurance of my heartfelt fraternal
From the Vatican, 22 September 2008
© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
to Patriarch Bartholomew I
"Men and Women Feel a Growing Need for Certainty and Peace"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2008- Here is a translation of the Benedict
XVI's address upon receiving Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of
Constantinople in audience Saturday on the occasion of the solemnity of
Sts. Peter and Paul and the opening of the Pauline Year.
* * *
With profound and sincere joy I greet you and the distinguished
party accompanying you, and I am pleased to do so with the words
expressed in the Second Letter of St. Peter: "To those who have
obtained a faith of equal standing with ours in the righteousness of
our God and Savior Jesus Christ: May grace and peace be multiplied to
you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord" (2:1-2).
The celebration of Sts. Peter and Paul, patrons of the Church of
Rome, as well as that of St. Andrew, patron of the Church of
Constantinople, offer us annually the possibility of an exchange of
visits, which are always important occasions for fraternal
conversations and common moments of prayer. Thus reciprocal personal
knowledge grows; initiatives are harmonized and hope increases, which
animates everything, to be able to attain full unity soon, in obedience
to the Lord's mandate.
This year, here in Rome, to the patronal feast is added the joyful
occasion of the opening of the Pauline Year, which I wanted to call to
commemorate the second millennium of the birth of St. Paul, in the hope
of promoting an ever more profound reflection on the theological and
spiritual heritage left to the Church by the Apostle to the Gentiles,
with his vast and profound work of evangelization.
I learned with pleasure that Your Holiness has also called a
Pauline Year. This happy coincidence highlights the roots of our shared
Christian vocation and the significant harmony of feelings and pastoral
commitment we are experiencing. For this I give thanks to the Lord
Jesus Christ, who guides our path to unity with the strength of His
St. Paul reminds us that full communion between all Christians has
its foundation in "one Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5).
May the common faith, the one baptism for the remission of sins and
obedience to the one Lord and Savior, be able to express themselves
fully as soon as possible in the communal and ecclesial dimension.
"Only one body and one Spirit," affirms the Apostle to the
Gentiles, and adds: "As only one is the hope to which you have been
called" (Ephesians 4:4). St. Paul indicates to us, moreover, a sure way
to maintain unity and, in the case of division, to repair it.
The decree on ecumenism of the Second Vatican Council, has taken
up the Pauline indication and proposes it again in the context of the
ecumenical commitment, making reference to the weighty and always
current words of the Letter to the Ephesians: "I exhort you, therefore,
I who am a prisoner of the Lord, to conduct yourselves in a manner
worthy of the vocation you have received, with all humility, meekness
and patience, enduring events with love, seeking to preserve the unity
of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (4:1-3).
To the Corinthians, among whom discord had arisen, St. Paul does
not hesitate to address a strong call for them all to remain in
agreement, for there to be no divisions among them, and for them to
unite in the same mind and purpose (cfr1 Corinthians 1:10).
In our world, in which the phenomenon of globalization is being
consolidated, yet, despite this, persistent divisions and conflicts
continue, men and women feel a growing need for certainty and peace.
However, at the same time, they remain lost, as if ensnared by a
certain form of hedonist and relativist culture which casts doubt upon
the very existence of truth.
The apostle's guidance in this matter is extremely helpful in
encouraging efforts aimed at seeking full unity among Christians, which
is so necessary in order to offer mankind of the third millennium an
ever more resplendent witness of Christ, way, truth and life. Only in
Christ and in his Gospel can humanity find the answer to its deepest
May the Pauline Year, which will begin solemnly this evening, help
Christian people renew the ecumenical commitment, and may there be an
intensification of joint efforts on the journey to the full communion
of all Christ's disciples. And as part of that journey, your presence
here today is certainly an encouraging sign. For this I express again
to all of you my joy, while together we raise our grateful prayer to
Papal Homily for Feast of
Sts. Peter and Paul
"Going to Rome Is for Paul the Expression of His Mission
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 30, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of
Benedict XVI's homily for the Mass celebrated in St. Peter's Square on
the feast of Sts. Peter and Paul, which was Sunday. Ecumenical
Patriarch Bartholomew I was present at the ceremony.
At vespers on Saturday, the Pope inaugurated the Pauline Jubilee
Year, which ends June 29, 2009.
* * *
Your Holiness and fraternal Delegates,
Venerable brothers in the episcopate and priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters
From the earliest times, the Church of Rome has celebrated the
solemnity of the great apostles Peter and Paul as a single feast on the
same day, June 29. Through their martyrdom, they became brothers;
together, they are the founders of the new Christian Rome. They are
sung of as such in the hymn of the second vespers, which goes back to
Paulinus of Aquileia (+806): "O Roma felix -- Oh happy Rome, adorned
with the crimson of the precious blood of such great princes, you
surpass every beauty of the world, not by your own merit, but trough
the merit of the saints whom you have killed with bloody sword". The
blood of martyrs does not call for revenge -- but reconciles. It does
not present itself as an accusation but as a "golden light," according
to the words of the hymn of the first vespers. It presents itself as
the power of love which overcomes hate and violence, founding, in this
way, a new city, a new community.
By their martyrdom, they -- Peter and Paul -- are now part of
Rome. Through martyrdom, even Peter became a Roman citizen forever.
Through their martyrdom, through their faith and their love, the two
apostles show us where true hope lies, and are the founders of a new
kind of city, which must again and again form itself in the midst of
the old city of man, which continues to be threatened by the opposing
forces of the sin and egotism of men.
By virtue of their martyrdom, Peter and Paul are in reciprocal
relationship forever. A favorite image of Christian iconography is the
embrace of the two apostles on the way to martyrdom. We can say that
their martyrdom itself, in its deepest reality, is the realization of a
fraternal embrace. They die for the one Christ and, in the witness for
which they give their lives, they are one. In the writings of the New
Testament, we can, so to speak, follow the development of their
embrace, this unity in witness and in mission.
Everything starts when Paul, three years after his conversion,
goes to Jerusalem "to consult Cephas" (Galatians 1:18). Fourteen years
later, he again goes up to Jerusalem to explain "to the most esteemed
persons" the Gospel that he preaches in order so that he might not run
the risk of "running, or having run, in vain" (Galatians 2:1f). At the
end of this meeting, James, Cephas and John give him their right hands,
thus confirming the communion that unites them in the one Gospel of
Jesus Christ (Gal 2:9). A beautiful sign of this growing interior
embrace, which develops despite the difference in temperaments and in
tasks, I find in the fact that the co-workers mentioned at the end of
the First Letter of St. Peter -- Silvanus and Mark -- were equally
close co-workers of St. Paul. This having of the same co-workers makes
the communion of the one Church, the embrace of the great apostles,
visible in a very concrete way.
Peter and Paul met each other at least twice in Jerusalem; at the
end their paths take them to Rome. Why? Was this perhaps more than just
pure chance? Is there perhaps a lasting message in it? Paul arrived in
Rome as a prisoner, but at the same time as a Roman citizen who, after
his arrest in Jerusalem, as a Roman citizen appealed to the emperor, to
whose tribunal he was brought. But in a more profound sense, Paul came
to Rome voluntarily. Through the most important of his letters, he had
already drawn close to this city interiorly: to the Church in Rome, he
had addressed the writing which, more than any other, is the synthesis
of his whole proclamation and his faith. In the opening salutation of
the letter, he says that the whole world speaks of the faith of the
Christians of Rome and that this faith, therefore, was known everywhere
as exemplary (Romans 1:8). And then he writes: "I do not want you to be
unaware, brothers, that I often planned to come to you, though I was
prevented until now" (1:13). At the end of the letter he comes back to
this theme, now speaking of a plan to travel to Spain. "When I go to
Spain I hope to see you when I pass through and to be helped by you on
my way to that region, after having enjoyed your presence for a little
while" (15:24). "And I know that, having come to you, I shall come in
the fullness of Christ's blessing" (15:29). There are two things made
evident here: Rome is for Paul a stage on the way to Spain, that is --
according to his conception of the world -- towards the extreme end of
the earth. He considers his mission to be the fulfillment of the task
received from Christ, the bringing of the Gospel to the very ends of
the world. Rome is along this route. While Paul usually only goes to
places where the Gospel had not yet been announced, Rome is an
exception. There he finds a Church whose faith the world speaks about.
Going to Rome is part of the universality of his mission as one sent to
all peoples. The way to Rome, which, already before his external trip,
he had traveled interiorly with his letter, is an integral part of his
task of bringing the Gospel to all peoples -- of founding the Church,
catholic and universal. Going to Rome is for him the expression of his
mission's catholicity. Rome must make the faith visible to the whole
world, it must be the meeting place in the one faith.
But why did Peter go to Rome? About this the New Testament does
not say anything directly. But it gives us some indication. The Gospel
of St. Mark, which we may consider a reflection of the preaching of St.
Peter, is intimately oriented towards the moment when the Roman
centurion, facing the death of Christ on the cross, says, "Truly this
man was the Son of God!" (15:39). At the cross the mystery of Jesus
Christ is revealed. Beneath the Cross the Church of the gentiles is
born: the centurion of the Roman execution squad recognizes the Son of
God in Christ. The Acts of the Apostles describe the episode of
Cornelius, the centurion of the Italic cohort, as a decisive stage for
the entrance of the Gospel into the pagan world. Following a command of
God, he sends someone to get Peter, and Peter, also following a divine
order, goes to the centurion's house and preaches. While he is
speaking, the Holy Spirit descends on the gathered domestic community
and Peter says: "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these
people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?" (Acts
Thus, in the Council of the Apostles, Peter becomes the
intercessor for the Church of the pagans who do not need the Law
because God "has purified their hearts with faith" (Acts 15:9).
Certainly, in the Letter to the Galatians, Paul says that God gave
strength to Peter for the apostolic ministry among the circumcised, and
to Paul himself, the ministry among the pagans instead (Gal 2:8). But
this assignment could be in force only as long as Peter remained with
the 12 in Jerusalem in the hope that all of Israel would adhere to
Christ. In the face of later developments, the 12 recognized the time
in which they too must go forth into the world to announce the Gospel
to it. Peter who, following divine order, had been the first to open
the door to pagans, now leaves the leadership of the Christian-Jewish
Church to James the Less, in order to dedicate himself to his true
mission: to the ministry of the unity of the one Church of God made up
of Jews as well as pagans. The desire of Paul to go to Rome highlights
above all, as we have seen, the word "catholica" ["catholic"] among the
characteristics of the Church.
St. Peter's journey to Rome, as representative of the peoples of
the world, is above all associated with the word "una" ["one"]: he has
the task of creating the "unity" of the "catholica," of the Church made
up of Jews and pagans, the Church of all peoples. And this is the
permanent mission of Peter: to make sure that the Church never
identifies herself with any one nation, any one culture or any one
state. That it may always be the Church of all. That it may unite
mankind beyond every frontier and, amidst the divisions of this world,
make God's peace present, the reconciling power of his love. Due to
technology that is now the same everywhere, due to the global
information network, and due also to the linking of common interests,
there are new modes of unity in the world, which have caused the
explosion of new oppositions and given new impetus to old ones. In the
midst of this external unity, based on material things, we have all the
more need of interior unity which comes from the peace of God - the
unity of all those who, through Jesus Christ, have become brothers and
sisters. This is the permanent mission of Peter, as well as the special
task entrusted to the Church of Rome.
Dear confreres in the Episcopate! I wish now to address those of
you who have come to Rome to receive the pallium as the symbol of your
rank and your responsibility as archbishops in the Church of Jesus
Christ. The pallium is woven from the wool of the sheep that the Bishop
of Rome blesses every year on the Feast of Peter's Chair, thus setting
them apart, so to speak, to be a symbol for the flock of Christ, over
which you preside.
When we put the pallium on our shoulders, this gesture reminds us
of the Shepherd who puts the lost sheep upon his shoulders -- the lost
sheep who by himself can no longer find the way home -- and takes him
back to the sheepfold. The Fathers of the Church saw in this sheep the
image of all mankind, of human nature in its entirety, which is lost
its and can no longer find the way home. The Shepherd who takes the
sheep home can only be the Logos, the eternal Word of God himself. In
the Incarnation, he placed us all -- the sheep who is man -- on his
shoulders. He, the eternal Word, the true Shepherd of mankind, carries
us; in his humanity he carries each of us on his shoulders. On the way
of the Cross, he carried us home, he takes us home. But he also wants
men who can "carry" together with him. Being a shepherd in the Church
of Christ means taking part in this task, which the pallium
commemorates. When we put it on, he asks us: "Will you also carry,
together with me, those who belong to me? Will you bring them to me, to
Jesus Christ?" What comes to mind next is the order Peter received from
the Risen Christ, who links the command, "Feed my sheep" inseparably
with the question, "Do you love me? Do you love me more than others
do?" Every time we put on the pallium of the shepherd of Christ's
flock, we should hear this question, "Do you love me?" and we must ask
ourselves about that "more" of love that he expects from the shepherd.
Thus the pallium becomes a symbol of our love for the Shepherd
Christ and our loving together with him -- it becomes the symbol of the
calling to love men as he does, together with him: those who are
searching, those who have questions, those who are self-assured and the
humble, the simple and the great; it becomes the symbol of the calling
to love all of them with the strength of Christ and in view of Christ,
so that they may find him, and in him, find themselves. But the pallium
which you will receive "from" the tomb of Peter has yet another
meaning, inseparably connected with the first. To understand this, a
word from the First Letter of St. Peter may help us. In his exhortation
to priests to feed the flock in the correct way, St. Peter calls
himself a "synpresbýýteros" -- co-priest (5:1). This
contains the affirmation of the principle of apostolic succession: the
shepherds who follow are shepherds like him; together with him, they
belong to the common ministry of the shepherds of the Church of Jesus
Christ, a ministry that continues in them. But this "co-" (in
co-priest) has still two other meanings. It also expresses the reality
that we indicate today by what is said today about the "collegiality"
of bishops. We are all "co-priests." No one is a shepherd by himself.
We are in the succession of the apostles thanks only to being in the
communion of the college in which the college of apostles finds its
continuation. The communion -- the "we" -- of the shepherds is part of
being shepherds, because there is only one flock, the one Church of
Jesus Christ. Finally, this "co-" also refers to communion with Peter
and his successor as a guarantee of unity. Thus, the pallium speaks to
us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion of
shepherd and flock. And it refers us to apostolicity: to communion with
the faith of the apostles on which the Church is founded. It speaks to
us of the "ecclesia" that is "una," "catholica," "apostolic," and
naturally, binding us to Christ, it speaks to us of the fact that the
Church is "sancta" us that the Church is holy, and that our work is a
service of this holiness.
This brings me back, finally, to St. Paul and his mission.
He expressed the essence of his mission, as well as the most profound
reason for his desire to go to Rome, in Chapter 15 of the Letter to the
Romans, in an extraordinarily beautiful passage. He knows he has been
called "to be a 'leitourgos' of Christ Jesus for the Gentiles, serving
the Gospel of God as a priest, so that the pagans become an acceptable
offering, sanctified by the holy Spirit" (15:16). Only in this passage
does Paul use the word "hierourgein" -- serving as a priest -- together
with "leitourgos" -- liturgist: he speaks of the cosmic liturgy, in
which the world of men itself must become worship of God, an offering
in the Holy Spirit. When the whole world will have become the liturgy
of God, when in its reality it will have become adoration, then it will
have reached its goal, then it will be whole and saved. And this is the
ultimate objective of St. Paul's apostolic mission and of ours. It is
to such a mystery that the Lord calls us. Let us pray in this hour that
he may help us carry it out in the right way, to become true liturgists
of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Address to Dialogue Council
"Church’’s Activities Are to be Imbued With Love"
VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2008 - Here is the English-language address
Benedict XVI gave Saturday upon receiving participants in the plenary
assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.
* * *
I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you at the conclusion of
the Tenth Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Dialogue. To all of you taking part in this important gathering I
extend cordial greetings. I thank in particular Cardinal Jean-Louis
Tauran for his gracious words.
"Dialogue in 'veritate et caritate': Pastoral Orientations" -- this is
the theme of your Plenary Assembly. I am happy to learn that during
these days you have sought to arrive at a deeper understanding of the
Catholic Church’’s approach to people of other religious traditions.
You have considered the broader purpose of dialogue -- to discover the
truth -- and the motivation for it, which is charity, in obedience to
the divine mission entrusted to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ.
At the inauguration of my Pontificate I affirmed that "the Church wants
to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all
religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of
society as a whole" (Address to Delegates of Other Churches and
Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April
2005). Through the ministry of the Successors of Peter, including the
work of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and the
efforts of local Ordinaries and the People of God throughout the world,
the Church continues to reach out to followers of different religions.
In this way she gives expression to that desire for encounter and
collaboration in truth and freedom. In the words of my venerable
Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, the Church’’s principal responsibility is
service to the Truth -- "truth about God, truth about man and his
hidden destiny, truth about the world, truth which we discover in the
Word of God" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 78).
Human beings seek answers to some of the fundamental existential
questions: What is the origin and destiny of human beings? What are
good and evil? What awaits human beings at the end of their earthly
existence? All people have a natural duty and a moral obligation to
seek the truth. Once it is known, they are bound to adhere to it and to
order their whole lives in accordance with its demands (cf. Nostra
Aetate, 1 and Dignitatis Humanae, 2).
Dear friends, "Caritas Christi urget nos" (2 Cor 5:14). It is the love
of Christ which impels the Church to reach out to every human being
without distinction, beyond the borders of the visible Church. The
source of the Church’’s mission is Divine Love. This love is revealed
in Christ and made present through the action of the Holy Spirit. All
the Church’’s activities are to be imbued with love (cf. Ad Gentes,
2-5; Evangelii Nuntiandi, 26, and Dialogue and Mission, 9). Thus, it is
love that urges every believer to listen to the other and seek areas of
collaboration. It encourages Christian partners in dialogue with the
followers of other religions to propose, but not impose, faith in
Christ who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:16). As I said
in my recent Encyclicals, the Christian faith has shown us that "truth,
justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty
realities" (Spe Salvi, 39). For the Church, "charity is not a kind of
welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a
part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being"
(Deus Caritas Est, 25).
The great proliferation of interreligious meetings around the world
today calls for discernment. In this regard, I am pleased to note that
during these days you have reflected on pastoral orientations for
interreligious dialogue. Since the Second Vatican Council, attention
has been focused on the spiritual elements which different religious
traditions have in common. In many ways, this has helped to build
bridges of understanding across religious boundaries. I understand that
during your discussions you have been considering some of the issues of
practical concern in interreligious relations: the identity of the
partners in dialogue, religious education in schools, conversion,
proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom, and the role of religious
leaders in society. These are important issues to which religious
leaders living and working in pluralistic societies must pay close
It is important to emphasize the need for formation for those who
promote interreligious dialogue. If it is to be authentic, this
dialogue must be a journey of faith. How necessary it is for its
promoters to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed
about those of others. It is for this reason that I encourage the
efforts of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to
organize formation courses and programmes in interreligious dialogue
for different Christian groups, especially seminarians and young people
in tertiary educational institutions.
Interreligious collaboration provides opportunities to express the
highest ideals of each religious tradition. Helping the sick, bringing
relief to the victims of natural disasters or violence, caring for the
aged and the poor: these are some of the areas in which people of
different religions collaborate. I encourage all those who are inspired
by the teaching of their religions to help the suffering members of
Dear friends, as you come to the end of your Plenary Assembly, I thank
you for the work you have done. I ask you to take the message of good
will from the Successor of Peter to your Christian flock and to all our
friends of other religions. Willingly I impart my Apostolic blessing to
you as a pledge of grace and peace in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Letter to Moscow Patriarch Alexy II
"I Reflect on the Experience of Growing Closeness Between Us"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2008 - Here is the text of Benedict XVI's
English-language letter he sent to Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II of
Moscow and All Russia. The letter was delivered by Cardinal Walter
Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian
Unity, during his 10-day visit to Russia, which ends today.
* * *
The visit to Russia of His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper offers me a
welcome opportunity to extend my cordial greetings, to express my
esteem for your ministry in the Russian Orthodox Church and to restate
my appreciation for your commitment to fostering relations between
Catholics and Orthodox. It is with joy that I reflect on the experience
of growing closeness between us, accompanied by the shared desire to
promote authentic Christian values and to witness to our Lord in ever
deeper communion. I think with gratitude of the recent visit of Your
Holiness to Strasbourg and Paris, and the warm welcome given to the
Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow
during the Christmas celebrations last year.
Another sign of fraternity and friendship towards the Catholic Church
is to be seen in the invitation extended to Cardinal Kasper by His
Eminence Kirill, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, President of
the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of
Moscow, to visit that Eparchy on the occasion of his name–day. This is
not only a sign of personal goodwill, but also a gesture towards the
Catholic Church which Cardinal Kasper represents.
During his time in Russia, Cardinal Kasper will visit Kazan to venerate
the icon of the Mother of God which my beloved predecessor, Pope John
Paul II, conveyed to Your Holiness through the good offices of Cardinal
Kasper, who personally accompanied the sacred image back to its
homeland. This icon bears a likeness to all the other venerable icons
of the Mother of God, and as such offers a powerful sign of the
closeness which exists between us. It also offers an opportunity for
encounter with Muslims, who show great respect for Mary, the Mother of
God. Your Holiness has been increasingly committed to dialogue with
other Christians and the members of other religions, and it is with
deep gratitude that I have followed with prayerful interest the signs
of friendship and trust which your Church and its representatives have
demonstrated in various ways.
With gratitude for your commitment to dialogue with different
ecclesial, religious and social bodies, I extend in this Easter season
my warmest best wishes for your ministry, entrusting to the Lord my
prayer that the great mystery of our salvation, the Death and
Resurrection of our Lord, may ever more deeply guide your life and your
service to the Church. May the Risen Saviour grant you health, peace
and inner joy, and may he bring us closer to each other, that we may
undertake together our journey towards full communion in him.
From the Vatican, 19 May 2008
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Address to Armenian Patriarch Karekin II
"It Is the Holy Spirit Who Brings About the Church
VATICAN CITY, MAY 20, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered
on the occasion of the May 9 visit of Karekin II, patriarch and
Catholicos of All Armenians.
* * *
Your Holiness, ?Dear Brothers in Christ,
It is with heartfelt joy that I welcome Your Holiness, and the
distinguished delegation accompanying you. I cordially greet the
prelates, priests and lay-people who represent the worldwide family of
the Catholicosate of All Armenians. We come together in the name of our
Lord Jesus Christ, who promised his disciples that "where two or three
are gathered in my name, I am there among them" (Mt 18:20). May the
spirit of brotherly love and service, which Jesus taught to his
disciples, enlighten our hearts and minds, as we exchange our
greetings, hold our conversations and gather in prayer.
I gratefully recall the visits of Catholicos Vasken I and Catholicos
Karekin I to the Church of Rome, and their cordial relations with my
venerable predecessors Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Their
striving for Christian unity opened a new era in relations between us.
I recall with particular joy Your Holiness' visit to Rome in 2000 and
your meeting with Pope John Paul II. The ecumenical liturgy in the
Vatican Basilica, celebrating the gift of a relic of Saint Gregory the
Illuminator, was one of the most memorable events of the Great Jubilee
in Rome. Pope John Paul II returned that visit by travelling to Armenia
in 2001, where You graciously hosted him at Holy Etchmiadzin. The warm
welcome you gave him on that occasion further increased his esteem and
respect for the Armenian people. The Eucharist celebrated by Pope John
Paul II on the great outdoor altar, within the enclosure of Holy
Etchmiadzin, was a further sign of growing mutual acceptance, in
expectation of the day when we will be able to celebrate together at
the one table of the Lord.
Tomorrow evening, each of us, in our respective traditions, will begin
the liturgical celebration of Pentecost. Fifty days after the
Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, we will pray earnestly to the
Father, asking him to send his Holy Spirit, the Spirit whose task it is
to maintain us in divine love and lead us into all truth. We will pray
in a particular way for the unity of the Church. On Pentecost day, it
was the Holy Spirit who created from the many languages of the crowds
assembled in Jerusalem one single voice to profess the faith. It is the
Holy Spirit who brings about the Church's unity. The path towards the
restoration of full and visible communion among all Christians may seem
long and arduous. Much remains to be done to heal the deep and painful
divisions that disfigure Christ's Body. The Holy Spirit, however,
continues to guide the Church in surprising and often unexpected ways.
He can open doors that are locked, inspire words that have been
forgotten, heal relations that are broken. If our hearts and minds are
open to the Spirit of communion, God can work miracles again in the
Church, restoring the bonds of unity. Striving for Christian unity is
an act of obedient trust in the work of the Holy Spirit, who leads the
Church to the full realization of the Father's plan, in conformity with
the will of Christ.
The recent history of the Armenian Apostolic Church has been written in
the contrasting colours of persecution and martyrdom, darkness and
hope, humiliation and spiritual re-birth. Your Holiness and the members
of your delegation have personally lived through these contrasting
experiences in your families and in your own lives. The restoration of
freedom to the Church in Armenia has been a source of great joy for us
all. An immense task of rebuilding the Church has been laid on your
shoulders. I cannot but voice my great esteem for the remarkable
pastoral results that have been achieved in such a short time, both in
Armenia and abroad, for the Christian education of young people, for
the training of new clergy, for building new churches and community
centres, for charitable assistance to those in need, and for promoting
Christian values in social and cultural life. Thanks to your pastoral
leadership, the glorious light of Christ shines again in Armenia and
the saving words of the Gospel can be heard once more. Of course, you
are still facing many challenges on the social, cultural and spiritual
levels. In this regard, I must mention the recent difficulties suffered
by the people of Armenia, and I express the prayerful support of the
Catholic Church in their search for justice and peace and the promotion
of the common good.
In our ecumenical dialogue, important progress has been made in
clarifying the doctrinal controversies that have traditionally divided
us, particularly over questions of Christology. During the last five
years, much has been achieved by the Joint Commission for Theological
Dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Oriental Orthodox
Churches, of which the Catholicosate of All Armenians is a full member.
I thank Your Holiness for the support given to the work of the Joint
Commission and for the valuable contribution made by your
representatives. We pray that its activity will bring us closer to full
and visible communion, and that the day will come when our unity in
faith makes possible a common celebration of the Eucharist. Until that
day, the bonds between us are best consolidated and extended by
agreements on pastoral issues, in line with the degree of doctrinal
agreement already attained. Only when sustained by prayer and supported
by effective cooperation, can theological dialogue lead to the unity
that the Lord wishes for his disciples.
Your Holiness, dear friends: in the twelfth century, Nerses of Lambron
addressed a group of Armenian Bishops. He concluded his famous Synodal
Discourse on the restoration of Christian unity with visionary words,
that still affect us today:"You are not wrong, Venerable Fathers: it is
meritorious to weep over days past in discord. However, today is the
day that the Lord has made, a day of gladness and joy (…) Let us then
pray in order that our Lord give tenderness, sweetness in greater
abundance still, and that He develop on earth, by the dew of the Holy
Spirit, this seed; perhaps, thanks to His power may we also produce
fruits; so that we may restore the peace of the Church of Christ today
in intention, tomorrow in fact". This is also my prayerful wish on the
occasion of your visit. I thank you most warmly and assure you of my
deep affection in the Lord.
"Keep Alive the Flames of Faith, Charity and Hope"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 - Here is the text of the greetings Benedict
XVI gave today to Catholicos Karekin II, supreme patriarch and
Catholicos of All Armenians, and a translation of the catechesis he
gave afterward during his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square.
* * *
[English Greetings to Catholicos Karekin II]
It is my great joy today to greet His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II,
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, and the
distinguished delegation accompanying him. Your Holiness, I pray that
the light of the Holy Spirit will illumine your pilgrimage to the tombs
of the Apostles Peter and Paul, the important meetings you will have
here, and particularly our personal conversations. I ask all who are
present today to pray for God’s blessing upon this visit.
Your Holiness, I thank you for your personal commitment to the growing
friendship between the Armenian Apostolic Church and the Catholic
Church. In 2000, soon after your election, you came to Rome to meet
Pope John Paul II, and a year later, you graciously received him in
Holy Etchmiadzin. You came once again to Rome together with many Church
leaders from East and West, for the funeral liturgy of Pope John Paul
II. I am sure that this spirit of friendship will be further deepened
during the coming days.
In an external niche of Saint Peter’s Basilica, there is a fine statue
of Saint Gregory the Illuminator, founder of the Armenian Church. It
serves to remind us of the severe persecutions suffered by Armenian
Christians, especially during the last century. Armenia’s many martyrs
are a sign of the power of the Holy Spirit working in times of
darkness, and a pledge of hope for Christians everywhere.
Your Holiness, dear Bishops and dear friends, together with you I
implore Almighty God, through the intercession of Saint Gregory the
Illuminator, to help us grow in unity, in one holy bond of Christian
faith, hope and love.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As you see, among us today is His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II,
supreme patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, accompanied by a
distinguished delegation. I express again my joy at having been able to
welcome him this morning: His presence revives in us the hope of full
unity among all Christians. I also would like to take advantage of the
opportunity to thank him for the amiable welcome he recently offered in
Armenia to the cardinal secretary of state. For me it is a pleasure to
remember the unforgettable visit that the Catholicos made to Rome in
2000, a little after his election. In his encounter with him, my
beloved predecessor, John Paul II, offered to him a distinguished relic
of St. Gregory the Illuminator and then returned the visit by traveling
The commitment of the Apostolic Armenian Church in favor of ecumenical
dialogue is known, and I am sure that this visit of the venerable
supreme patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians will contribute to
intensify the fraternal friendship that unites our Churches. These days
of immediate preparation for Pentecost encourages us to revive hope in
the help of the Holy Spirit to advance in the path of ecumenism. We
have the certainty that the Lord Jesus will never abandon us in the
search for unity, given that the Spirit acts tirelessly to bolster our
efforts oriented toward overcoming every division and to mend every
tear in the living cloth of the Church.
This is precisely what Jesus promised to the disciples in his last days
of his earthly mission, as we just heard in the Gospel passage: He
assured them of the assistance of the Holy Spirit, that he would send
so they will continue to experience his presence (John 14:16-17). This
promise he made a reality when, after the resurrection, Jesus entered
in the Cenacle, greeted the disciples with the words, "Peace be with
you" and, blowing over them, he told them, "Receive the Holy Spirit"
(John 20:22). He gave them the authority to forgive sins. The Holy
Spirit, then, is presented as the power of the forgiveness of sins, of
the renewal of our hearts and of our existence, and in this way renews
the earth and creates unity where there was division. Afterward, at the
feast of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit is shown through other signs: an
impetuous wind, tongues of fire, and the apostles speaking all
languages. This last one is a sign that the Spirit, who is charity and
who fosters unity in diversity, has overcome the Babylonian Diaspora,
fruit of the pride that separates men. From the first moment of its
existence the Church spoke all languages, thanks to the power of the
Holy Spirit and the tongues of fire, and lives in all cultures. It does
not destroy the gifts or the history of a culture, rather it assumes
them all in a great new unity, which reconciles unity with the
multiplicity of forms.
The Holy Spirit, which is eternal charity, the link of unity in the
Trinity, unites with its power in divine charity the dispersed men,
creating in this way the great and multiform community of the Church in
the entire world. In the days that passed between the Ascension of the
Lord and the Sunday of Pentecost, the disciples were united with Mary
in the Cenacle to pray. They knew that alone they couldn't found,
organize the Church: the Church had to be established and organized by
a divine initiative; it is not a creature of ours, but rather a gift of
God. Only in this way is unity also created, a unity that has to grow.
The Church in all times, and in particular in those nine days between
the Ascension and Pentecost, unites itself spiritually in the Cenacle
with the apostles and with Mary to implore incessantly the effusion of
the Holy Spirit. Moved by the impetuous wind it will be capable of
announcing the Gospel to the furthest confines of the earth.
For this reason, despite the difficulties and divisions, Christians
cannot resign themselves, nor give in to discouragement. This is what
the Lord asks us: Hold fast in prayer to keep alive the flames of
faith, charity and hope, which nourish the longing for full unity. "Ut
unum sint!" says the Lord. This invitation from Christ always resounds
in our hearts; an invitation that I launched again in my recent
apostolic trip to the United States of America, where I referred to the
centrality of prayer in the ecumenical movement. In this time of
globalization, and at the same time, of fragmentation, "without
[prayer], ecumenical structures, institutions and programs would be
deprived of their heart and soul" (ecumenical encounter in the Church
of St. Joseph in New York, April 18, 2008). Let us give thanks to the
Lord for the goals reached in ecumenical dialogue thanks to the action
of the Holy Spirit. Let us be docile, listening to his voice so that
our hearts, full of hope, set out without delay on the path that leads
to the communion of all Christ's disciples.
St. Paul, in the letter to the Galatians, recalls that "the fruit of
the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity,
faithfulness, gentleness, self-control" (Galatians 5:22-23). These are
the gifts of the Holy Spirit that we also invoke today over all
Christians, so that in the mutual and generous service of the Gospel,
they can be in the world a sign of the love of God for humanity. Let us
direct, with trust, our gaze to Mary, sanctuary of the Holy Spirit, and
through her, let us pray, "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your
faithful and enkindle in them the fire of your love." Amen.
[After his address, the Holy Father greeted the pilgrims in various
languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today we welcome to our Audience His Holiness Catholicos Karekin II,
Supreme Patriarch and Catholicos of All Armenians, together with a
delegation from the Armenian Apostolic Church. His presence among us,
in these days before the Solemnity of Pentecost, spurs us to pray more
fervently for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all Christians as
we seek to advance along the path of ecumenism. The Risen Lord sent the
Spirit upon his disciples, and from the day of Pentecost, the Church
has constantly implored the Spirit’s gifts, which impel her to proclaim
the Gospel before all the world. The presence and activity of the
Spirit remind us that Christ never abandons his Church. The Spirit
sustains our efforts to overcome division, to persevere in prayer and
to work for Christian unity. Prayer is the heart and soul of the
ecumenical movement. Today, let us join in thanking the Lord for the
Spirit’s work in fostering ecumenical dialogue and inspiring the hope
of full unity. May the gifts of the Spirit lead all Christians to serve
the Gospel with generosity and to be a sign of God’s love for all
humanity. With Mary, let us pray: "Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts
of your faithful, and kindle in them the fire of your love! Amen."
I offer a warm welcome to the Delegates taking part in the Annual
Conference of the Canon Law Society of Great Britain and Ireland. I am
also pleased to greet the pilgrims from Our Lady of the Rosary Church
in Qatar. Upon all the English-speaking pilgrims, especially those from
England, Scotland, Australia, India, Indonesia, Korea, Canada, Guam and
the United States, I cordially invoke Almighty God’s abundant blessings
of joy and peace.
[After his greetings, the Holy Father made the following appeal in
I make my own the cry of pain and the call for assistance of the dear
people of Myanmar, who without warning saw so many lives, and so much
property and means of sustenance destroyed by the terrifying violence
of the Cyclone Nargis.
As I already said in the message of solidarity I sent to the president
of the episcopal conference, I remain spiritually close to the people
affected. I would also like to repeat to everyone my call to open their
hearts to pity and generosity so that, thanks to the collaboration of
people who can and wish to bring help, the suffering caused by such an
immense tragedy may be relieved.
(c) Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana
Pontiff's Words After Concert of
Chinese Musical Groups
"Music Expresses Universal Human Sentiments"
VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave
during a concert in Paul VI Hall offered in his honor by the
Philharmonic Orchestra of China and the Choir of the Shanghai Opera
* * *
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Another high-quality musical performance sees us gathered once again in
the Paul VI Audience Hall. For me and for all of us here, it takes on a
particular value and meaning. Since it is offered and performed by the
China Philharmonic Orchestra and the Shanghai Opera House Chorus, it
puts us in touch, as it were, with the living reality of the world of
China. I thank the choir and orchestra for this generous tribute and I
congratulate the organizers and the artists for their skilful, refined
and elegant performance of a musical work that forms part of the
artistic heritage of all humanity. In a group of such accomplished
artists, we see represented the great cultural and musical tradition of
China, and this performance helps us to understand better the history
of the Chinese people, their values and their noble aspirations.
Heartfelt thanks for this gift! Thanks also for the music that is about
to be performed! I extend sincere thanks not only to the promoters and
the artists, but to all those who, in different ways, took part in
arranging this truly unique event.
It is worth emphasizing that this performance by Chinese artists of one
of Mozart's greatest works brings together their own musical talent and
Western music. Conductor Long Yu, with his orchestra, the soloists and
the Shanghai Opera House Chorus have comfortably risen to the
challenge. Music, and art in general, can serve as a privileged
instrument for encounter and reciprocal knowledge and esteem between
different populations and cultures; a means attainable by all for
valuing the universal language of art.
There is another aspect that I wish to emphasize. I note with pleasure
the interest shown by your orchestra and choir in European religious
music. This shows that it is possible, in different cultural settings,
to enjoy and appreciate sublime manifestations of the spirit such as
Mozart's Requiem which we have just heard, precisely because music
expresses universal human sentiments, including the religious
sentiment, which transcends the boundaries of every individual culture.
I should also like to say a word regarding this place where we have
come together this evening. It is the great hall in which the Pope
receives his guests and meets those who come to visit him. It is like a
window opening onto the world, a place where people from all over the
world often meet, with their own personal stories and their own
culture, all of them welcomed with esteem and affection. In greeting
you this evening, dear Chinese artists, the Pope intends to reach out
to your entire people, with a special thought for those of your fellow
citizens who share faith in Jesus and are united through a particular
spiritual bond with the Successor of Peter. The Requiem came into being
through this faith as a prayer to God, the just and merciful judge, and
that is why it touches the hearts of all people, as an expression of
humanity's universal aspirations. Finally, as I thank you once again
for this most welcome tribute, I send my greetings, through you, to all
the people of China as they prepare for the Olympic Games, an event of
great importance for the entire human family.
I thank you all and I offer you my best wishes.
Papal Greeting to Russian People
"I Wish Peace and Well-being and a Spirit of Mutual Love"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2008 - Here is a translation of a personal
address by Benedict XVI to the Russian people, which was broadcast
today by the Russian state television channel Vesti. The greeting was
in Italian and Russian.
* * *
Dear citizens of the Russian Federation,
I am grateful for the invitation offered me to extend to you my cordial
greetings and I gladly take this opportunity to express the esteem,
affection and high regard in which the successor of Peter and the
Catholic Church have always held your people and the Russian Orthodox
Russia is truly great, in a variety of different ways -- in her sheer
geographical scale, in her long history, in her magnificent
spirituality, in her multiplicity of artistic expression. During the
past century the horizon of your noble land, like that of other regions
on the European continent, was obscured by shadows of suffering and
violence, shadows that were however opposed and overcome by the
splendid light of so many martyrs -- Orthodox, Catholics and other
believers, who perished under the oppression of ferocious persecutions.
The love of Christ even unto martyrdom, which unites them, reminds us
of the urgent need to restore unity among Christians, a duty to which
the Catholic Church feels herself to be irrevocably committed. Both the
Catholic Church and the Russian Orthodox Church are moving in this
I remember well that a delegation of the Moscow Patriarchate was
present at the Second Vatican Council, and I have followed the contacts
with Russian Orthodoxy that have taken place since then. In recent
years these contacts have been intensifying, especially among the
faithful, the priests and the bishops.
What are we to say then of the interreligious and intercultural
dialogue which is another of the priority commitments of the Catholic
Church and also, I believe, of the Russian Orthodox Church? Conscious
of the spiritual gift of which they are the stewards and while firmly
retaining their own proper identity, Christians are called to meet with
the followers of other religions and to establish with them a fruitful
dialogue in truth and charity.
To this end I pray and hope that the millennial ecclesial experience of
Russia may continue to enrich the Christian horizon in a spirit of
sincere service to the Gospel and to the men of today. And now a
greeting in the Russian language:
[The Pope continued in Russian]
I am delighted to be able to address myself, in the Russian language,
to the people and government of this great land of Russia, so dear to
me. I extend my warmest greetings to our beloved Orthodox brothers and
sisters, especially to his Holiness, the Patriarch of Moscow and all
Russia, and also to the Catholic bishops and their communities. To all
of you I wish peace and well-being and a spirit of mutual love, and I
invoke the blessing of God upon you all.
Homily at Conclusion of Christian Unity Week
"Our Desire for Unity Must Not Be Limited to Isolated Occasions"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 12, 2008 - Here is the homily Benedict XVI delivered
Jan. 25 at the liturgy of vespers on the feast of the Conversion of St.
Paul for the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The
service was held at the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls.
* * *
LITURGY OF VESPERS
ON THE FEAST OF THE CONVERSION OF ST PAUL
FOR THE CONCLUSION OF PRAYER FOR CHRISTIAN UNITY
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls
Friday, 25 January 2008
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
The Feast of the Conversion of St Paul brings us once again into the
presence of this great Apostle, chosen by God to be a "witness for him
to all men" (Acts 22: 15). For Saul of Tarsus, the moment of his
encounter with the Risen Christ on the road to Damascus marked a
decisive turning point in his life. His total transformation, a true
and proper spiritual conversion, was brought about at that very moment.
By divine intervention, the relentless persecutor of God's Church
suddenly found himself blind and groping in the dark, but henceforth
with a great light in his heart, which was to bring him a little later
to be an ardent Apostle of the Gospel. The awareness that divine grace
alone could bring about such a conversion never left Paul. When he had
already given the best of himself, devoting himself tirelessly to
preaching the Gospel, he wrote with renewed fervour: "I worked harder
than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God which is
with me" (I Cor 15: 10). Tirelessly, as though the work of the mission
depended entirely upon his own efforts, St Paul was nevertheless always
motivated by the profound conviction that all his energy came from
God's grace at work in him.
The Apostle's words on the relationship between human effort and divine
grace resound this evening with a very special meaning. At the end of
the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, we are even more conscious that
the task of restoring unity, which demands all our energy and efforts,
is infinitely above our own possibilities. Unity with God and our
brothers and sisters is a gift that comes from on high, which flows
from the communion of love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit in which
it is increased and perfected. It is not in our power to decide when or
how this unity will be fully achieved. Only God can do it! Like St
Paul, let us also place our hope and trust "in the grace of God which
is with us". Dear brothers and sisters, this is what the prayer that
together we are raising to the Lord desires to implore: that it may be
he who enlightens and sustains us in our ongoing quest for unity.
And it is here that Paul's exhortation to the Christians of
Thessalonica acquires its fullest value: "Pray without ceasing" (I Thes
5: 17), which has been chosen as the theme for the Week of Prayer this
year. The Apostle was well acquainted with that community, which had
been born from his missionary activity, and nourished great hopes for
it. He knew both its merits and its weaknesses. Indeed, there was no
lack of behaviour, attitudes and arguments among its members that were
likely to create tension and conflict, and Paul intervened to help the
community walk in unity and peace. At the end of his Letter, with as it
were fatherly goodness, he added a series of very concrete
exhortations, inviting Christians to encourage the participation of
all, to sustain the weak, to be patient and not to repay evil for evil
to anyone but to always seek good, to rejoice and to give thanks on
every occasion (cf. I Thes 5: 12-22). Paul puts the imperative "pray
without ceasing" in the midst of these exhortations. In fact, the other
recommendations would lose their power and coherence were they not
sustained by prayer. Unity with God and with others is built first of
all through a life of prayer, in the constant search for "the will of
God in Christ Jesus for us" (cf. I Thes 5: 18).
The invitation St Paul addressed to the Thessalonians is still timely.
In the face of the shortcomings and sins that still prevent the full
communion of Christians, each one of these exhortations has retained
its relevance, but this is particularly true of the order "pray without
ceasing". What would the ecumenical movement become without the
personal or communal prayer that "they may all be one; even as you,
Father, are in me, and I in you" (Jn 17: 21)? Where would we find the
"extra impetus" of faith, hope and charity, of which our search for
unity has a special need today? Our desire for unity must not be
limited to isolated occasions; it must become an integral part of our
whole prayer life. Men and women formed in the Word of God and in
prayer have been artisans of reconciliation and unity in every
historical period. It was the way of prayer that opened the path for
the ecumenical movement as we know it today. Indeed, from the middle of
the 18th century various movements of spiritual renewal came into
being, eager to contribute through prayer to the promotion of Christian
unity. Groups of Catholics, enlivened by outstanding religious figures,
played an active role in such initiatives from the outset. Prayer for
unity was also supported by my Venerable Predecessors, such as Pope Leo
XIII, who in 1895 was already recommending the introduction of a Novena
of Prayer for Christian unity. These endeavours, made in accordance
with the possibilities of the Church of that time, intended to put into
practice the prayer spoken by Jesus himself in the Upper Room "that
they may all be one" (Jn 17: 21). There is thus no genuine ecumenism
whose roots are not implanted in prayer.
This year we are celebrating the 100th anniversary of the "Church Unity
Octave" which subsequently became the "Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity". One hundred years ago, while he was still an Episcopalian
minister, Fr Paul Wattson conceived of an octave of prayer for unity
that was celebrated for the first time at Graymoor, New York, from 18
to 25 January 1908. This evening, with great joy I address my greeting
to the Minister General and the international delegation of the
Franciscan Brothers and Sisters of the Atonement, the Congregation
founded by Fr Paul Wattson and an advocate of his spiritual legacy. In
the 1930s, the Octave of Prayer underwent important adaptations
subsequent to the impulse given to it in particular by Fr Paul
Couturier of Lyons, another great champion of spiritual ecumenism. His
invitation "to pray for the unity of the Church as Christ wills it and
in accordance with the means he wills" enables Christians of all
traditions to join in one prayer for unity. Let us thank God for the
great prayer movement which for 100 years has accompanied and sustained
believers in Christ in their quest for unity. The ship of ecumenism
would never have put out to sea had she not been lifted by this broad
current of prayer and wafted by the breath of the Holy Spirit.
To coincide with the Week of Prayer, many religious and monastic
communities have invited and helped their members to "pray without
ceasing" for Christian unity. On this occasion for which we have
gathered here, let us remember in particular the life and witness of Sr
Maria Gabriella of Unity (1914-36), a Trappist Sister of the convent in
Grottaferrata (today in Vitorchiano), [Italy]. When her superior,
encouraged by Fr Paul Couturier, asked the Sisters to pray and make a
gift of themselves for Christian unity, Sr Maria Gabriella became
immediately involved and did not hesitate to dedicate her young life to
this great cause. This very day is the 25th anniversary of her
Beatification by my Predecessor, Pope John Paul II. The event was
celebrated in this Basilica precisely on 25 January 1983, during the
celebration for the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Unity. In his
Homily, the Servant of God emphasized the three elements on which the
search for unity is built: conversion, the Cross and prayer. Sr Maria
Gabriella's life and witness were also based on these three elements.
Today, as in the past, ecumenism stands in great need of the immense
"invisible monastery" of which Fr Paul Couturier spoke, of that vast
community of Christians of all traditions who quietly pray and offer
their lives so that unity may be achieved.
Furthermore, for exactly 40 years Christian communities worldwide have
received meditations and prayers for this Week prepared jointly by the
World Council of Churches' "Faith and Order" Commission and the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. This felicitous
collaboration has made it possible to broaden the vast circle of prayer
and to prepare better its content. This evening I cordially greet the
Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia, General Secretary of the World Council of
Churches, who has come to Rome to join us on the centenary of the Week
of Prayer. I am pleased that members of the "Joint Working Group" are
present and I greet them with affection. The Joint Group is the means
of cooperation between the Catholic Church and the World Council of
Churches in our common search for unity. As I do every year, I also
address my fraternal greeting to the Bishops, priests and pastors of
the various Churches and Ecclesial Communities who have their
representatives here in Rome. Your participation in this prayer is a
tangible expression of the bonds that unite us in Christ Jesus: "For
where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of
them (Mt 18: 20).
The Year dedicated to the Apostle Paul's witness and teaching will be
inaugurated in this historic Basilica this 28 June. May his tireless
zeal in building the Body of Christ in unity help us to pray without
ceasing for the full unity of all Christians. Amen!
Papal Message to Orthodox Church of Greece
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 29, 2008
- Here is the telegram Benedict XVI sent today to Orthodox Metropolitan
Seraphim of Karystia and Skyros upon hearing the news of the death of
Orthodox Archbishop Christodoulus of Athens and All Greece.
* * *
His Eminence Seraphim
Metropolitan of Karystia and Skyros
The Locum Tenens
Deeply saddened by the news of the untimely death of his Beatitude
Christodoulos, Archbishop of Athens and All Greece, I express to you,
to the holy Synod and all the faithful my earnest condolences, assuring
you of my spiritual closeness to all those who mourn the passing of
this distinguished pastor of the Church of Greece. The fraternal
welcome which His Beatitude gave my predecessor Pope John Paul II on
the occasion of his visit to Athens in May 2001 and the return visit of
Archbishop Christodoulos to Rome in December 2006 opened a new era of
cordial cooperation between us, leading to increased contacts and
improved friendship in the search for closer communion in the context
of the growing unity of Europe. I and Catholics around the world pray
that the Orthodox Church of Greece will be sustained by the grace of
God in continuing to build on the pastoral achievements of the late
Archbishop and that in commending the noble soul of his Beatitude to
our heavenly Father's loving mercy you will be comforted by the Lord's
promise to reward his faithful servants.
Please accept, your eminence, this expression of my closeness in prayer
to you and your brother bishops as you guide the Church in this time of
transition. With fraternal affection in the Lord.
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Address to Ecumenical Panel
"When Christians Pray Together, the Goal of Unity Seems Closer"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 25, 2008.- Here is the text of Benedict XVI's
address today to the Joint Working Group of the World Council of
Churches and the Catholic Church.
* * *
I am pleased to welcome you, the members of the Joint Working Group
between the World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church, as you
gather in Rome to begin a new phase of your work. Your meeting takes
place in this City where the Apostles Peter and Paul bore supreme
witness to Christ and shed their blood in his name. I greet you warmly
in the words which Paul himself addressed to the first Christians in
Rome: "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
Christ" (Rom 1:7).
The World Council of Churches and the Catholic Church have enjoyed a
fruitful ecumenical relationship dating back to the time of the Second
Vatican Council. The Joint Working Group, which began in 1965, has
worked assiduously to strengthen the "dialogue of life" which my
predecessor, Pope John Paul II, called the "dialogue of charity" (Ut
Unum Sint, 17). This cooperation has given vivid expression to the
communion already existing between Christians and has advanced the
cause of ecumenical dialogue and understanding.
The centenary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity offers us an
opportunity to thank Almighty God for the fruits of the ecumenical
movement, in which we can discern the presence of the Holy Spirit
fostering the growth of all Christ's followers in unity of faith, hope
and love. To pray for unity is itself "an effective means of obtaining
the grace of unity" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 8), since it is a
participation in the prayer of Jesus himself. When Christians pray
together, "the goal of unity seems closer" (Ut Unum Sint, 22), for the
presence of Christ in our midst (cf. Mt 18:20) fosters a profound
harmony of mind and heart: we are able to look at each other in a new
way, and to strengthen our resolve to overcome whatever keeps us apart.
On this day, then, we think back with gratitude to the work of so many
individuals who, over the years, have sought to spread the practice of
spiritual ecumenism through common prayer, conversion of heart and
growth in communion. We also give thanks for the ecumenical dialogues
which have borne abundant fruit in the past century. The reception of
those fruits is itself an important step in the process of promoting
Christian unity, and the Joint Working Group is particularly suited to
studying and encouraging that process.
Dear friends, I pray that the new Joint Working Group will be able to
build on the commendable work already done, and thus open the way to
ever greater cooperation, so that the Lord's prayer "that they all may
be one" (Jn 17:21) will be ever more fully realized in our time.
With these sentiments, and with deep appreciation for your important
service to the ecumenical movement, I cordially invoke upon you and
your deliberations God's abundant blessings.
"Let's Accept the Invitation to 'Pray Without Ceasing'"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address
Benedict XVI delivered today at the general audience in Paul VI Hall
during the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
We are celebrating the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, which comes
to an end Friday, Jan. 25. This day marks the conversion of St. Paul
the Apostle. Christians from various churches and ecclesiastical
communities come together at this time in unanimous prayer to ask the
Lord Jesus for the re-establishment of unity among his disciples.
It is a unanimous plea made with one soul and one heart in response to
the Redeemer's own desire, who turned to our Father at the Last Supper
and said, "I pray not only for them, but also for those who will
believe in me through their word, so that they may all be one, as you,
Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the
world may believe that you sent me" (John 17:20-21). Asking for the
gift of unity, Christians join in Christ's prayer and commit themselves
to work actively so that all of humanity welcomes and recognizes Christ
as our only Shepherd and Lord, and thus experiences the joy of his love.
This year the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity takes on a special
value and meaning, because it celebrates its 100th anniversary. From
its beginnings it was a truly fertile intuition. It began in 1908:
Father Paul Wattson, an American Anglican, founder of the "Society of
the Atonement" (community of the Brothers and Sisters of Atonement),
together with an Episcopalian, Father Spencer Jones, launched the
prophetic idea of an octave of prayers for the unity of Christians. The
idea was welcomed by the archbishop of New York and the papal nuncio.
In 1916 the call to pray for unity was then extended to the entire
Catholic Church, thanks to the intervention of my venerated
predecessor, Pope Benedict XV, with the papal brief "At Perpetuam Rei
The initiative provoked much interest and was gradually established
everywhere, perfecting its structure with time, and evolving also
thanks to the contribution of Abbé Couturier (1936).
Later, when the prophetic wind of the Second Vatican Council blew, the
urgency of unity was felt even more. After the Conciliar assembly the
journey continued for the patient quest for full communion among all
Christians, an ecumenical journey that year after year has found one of
its most defining and beneficial moments in the Week of Prayer for
One hundred years after the first call to pray together for unity, this
Week of Prayer has now become a consolidated tradition, preserving the
spirit and the dates chosen by Father Wattson. Indeed he chose them for
their symbolic meaning. According to the calendar at that time, Jan. 18
was the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, which is a strong foundation
and guarantee of unity of the people of God, while on Jan. 25, as in
present times, the liturgy celebrates St. Paul's conversion.
While we give thanks to the Lord for these 100 years of prayer and of
common engagement among many disciples of Christ, we remember with
gratitude the author of this providential spiritual initiative, Father
Wattson, and with him all those who promoted and enriched it with their
contributions, making it something all Christians own together.
I was just telling you that the Second Vatican Council had dedicated a
great deal of time and attention to the subject of Christian unity,
especially in its decree on the Church ("Unitatis Redintegratio") in
which, among other things, the importance of prayer in promoting unity
is particularly emphasized. Prayer is at the very heart of all church
life. "This change of heart and holiness of life, along with public and
private prayer for the unity of Christians, should be regarded as the
soul of the whole ecumenical movement" (UR, 8).
Thanks to this spiritual ecumenism -- sanctity of life, conversion of
heart, private and public prayer -- the joint pursuit of unity has made
great strides forward in the last decade and has diversified in many
initiatives; from getting acquainted with and meeting members of
various churches and church communities; to conversations and
collaboration among various branches that become increasingly friendly;
to theological discussions on concrete ways in which we can join
together and collaborate with each other.
That which has given, and continues to give, life to this journey
toward full unification for all Christians first and foremost -- is
prayer. "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5:17 ) is the theme of
this year's Week of Prayer. It is at the same time an invitation that
never stops resonating in our communities, because prayer is the light,
the strength, the guide for our footsteps as we listen humbly to our
God, the God of us all.
Secondly, the Council emphasizes common prayer, joint prayer between
Catholics and other Christians directed toward the only celestial
Father. To this end the Decree on Ecumenism affirms: "These prayers
offered in common are doubtless a very effective means to beseech for
Christian unity" (UR, 8). In common prayer Christian communities unite
before the Lord, they become aware of the contradictions generated by
division, and they show the will to obey the Lord's will, faithfully
turning to him for his omnipotent help. Furthermore, the decree adds
that such prayers are "a genuine manifestation of the links with which
Catholics continue to be joined to their separated brothers" (ibid.).
Common prayer is therefore not a voluntarist or a purely sociological
action, but an expression of faith that unites all disciples of Christ.
As the years have passed, active collaboration has been established in
this field, and since 1968, the then Secretariat for Christian Unity,
which became the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and
the Ecumenical Council of Churches, together prepare the guidelines for
the Week of Prayer for Unity, which are then divulged to the world
reaching areas that would have not been covered without this collective
The conciliar decree on ecumenism refers to prayer for unity when,
toward the end, it affirms that the council knows that "this holy
proposition to reconcile all Christians in the unity of the Church of
Christ, the one and only, surpasses all human forces and gifts.
Therefore, it places all its hope in the Christ's prayer for the
Church" (UR 24).
It is the knowledge of our human limits that drives us to abandon
ourselves to the hands of the Lord with complete trust. We see only too
well the true meaning of the Prayer Week; to rely on the prayer of
Christ, who continues to pray in his Church so that "all may be one ...
so that the world may believe" (John 17:21).
Today the truth of these words really hits home. The world suffers from
the absence of God, from God's inaccessibility; it strives to know the
face of God. But how could the men of today meet the face of God in the
face of Jesus Christ if we, Christians, are divided, if one set of
teachings is against the other?
Only united are we really able to show to the world -- that needs it --
the face of God, the face of Christ.
Although the dialogue and all we do is very necessary, it is also
obvious that it is not through our own strategies that we can achieve
unity. What we can obtain is our availability and capability to welcome
this unity when the Lord grants it to us. Here is the sense of prayer:
to open our hearts, to create in us the availability that opens the
road to Christ.
In the liturgy of the ancient Church, after the sermon the main
celebrant -- the bishop or the president of the celebration -- used to
say: "Conversi ad Dominum" (turn to the Lord). Then he and everybody
else stood up and turned themselves toward the East. All wanted to look
toward Christ. Only if converted, only through this conversion to
Christ, in this common look at Christ, can we find the gift of unity.
We can state that it was prayer for unity that enlivened and
accompanied the various stages of the ecumenical movement, especially
since the Second Vatican Council. In this period the Catholic Church
got in touch with the various Churches and ecclesial communities of the
East and the West with various forms of dialogue, facing with them the
theological and historical issues that had risen over the centuries and
had established elements of division. The Lord has allowed such
friendly relations to improve reciprocal knowledge and to intensify
communion, at the same time giving a clearer perception of the problems
that still exist and are the causes of division.
Today, during this week, we give thanks to God who has sustained and
guided the journey thus far; a rich journey that the conciliar decree
on ecumenism described as "emerged by the grace of the Holy Spirit" and
"growing more ample every day" (UR, 1).
Dear brothers and sisters, let's accept the invitation to "pray without
ceasing" that the apostle Paul extended to the first Christians of
Thessalonica, a community that he himself founded. Because he knew that
dissent had started, he implored them to be patient with everyone, to
not repay evil with evil, but to look for the good between them and
everyone, and to be happy whatever the circumstances, happy, because
the Lord is near us. St. Paul's sermon to the Thessalonians can guide
the behavior of Christians in their ecumenical relations today.
Above all he says: "Live in peace among yourselves." And then: "Pray
without ceasing, and in all circumstances, give thanks" (cf. 1
Thessalonians 5:13-18). Let us also welcome this entreaty from the
apostle both to thank the Lord for the progress achieved in the
ecumenical movement, and to appeal for full unity.
May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, make it possible for all the
disciples of her divine Son to live in peace and reciprocal charity, as
a true example before the whole world, and make the face of God
accessible in the face of Christ, who is God-with-us, God of peace and
[Translation by Laura Leoncini]
[After praying the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted pilgrims in six
languages. In English, he said:]
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This week, Christians throughout the world celebrate the Hundredth
Anniversary of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, initiated by
Father Paul Wattson, founder of the Society of the Atonement. The theme
chosen for this year is Saint Paul's exhortation to the Thessalonians
to "pray always" (1 Thess 5:17). According to the Second Vatican
Council, prayer and holiness of life are "the soul of the whole
ecumenical movement" (Unitatis Redintegratio, 8). When Christians from
various communities come together to pray in common, they acknowledge
that unity cannot be achieved by human strength alone. Only by relying
on God's grace can they live according to Jesus's prayer that "they may
all be one" (Jn 17:20-21). I therefore invite all Christians to render
fitting thanks to Almighty God for the progress achieved thus far along
the path of ecumenism, and to persevere as they strive toward unity so
that "the world may believe" (Jn 17:21) that Jesus is the only Son sent
by the Father.
I extend a cordial welcome to the English-speaking pilgrims present at
today's audience, including students and staff from Saint Mary's High
School in Sydney, and members of a delegation from the Los Angeles
Council of Religious Leaders. May God bestow abundant blessings upon
all of you!
Address to Finnish Ecumenical Delegation
"Christian Unity Is a Gift From Above"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2007.- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave
today in English upon receiving in audience members of the ecumenical
delegation from Finland on the occasion of the feast of St. Henrik,
patron of the nation.
* * *
Distinguished Friends from Finland,
I am pleased to greet your ecumenical delegation as you make your
traditional yearly visit to Rome on the occasion of the feast of Saint
Henrik, Patron of Finland. I extend a warm welcome to Bishop
and Bishop Wróbel, and to all members of your group.
Your visit coincides with the beginning of the Week of Prayer for
Christian Unity. In fact, this year marks the hundredth anniversary of
its inauguration, by Father Paul Wattson, as the "Church Unity Octave".
In some sense, the Week of Prayer traces its origins to the eve of
Jesus’ suffering and death, when he prayed for his disciples: "that
they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they
also be one in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me"
(Jn 17:21). Christian unity is a gift from above, stemming from and
growing towards loving communion with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
The joint prayer of Lutherans and Catholics from Finland is a humble
but faithful sharing in the prayer of Jesus, who promised that every
prayer raised to the Father in his name would be heard (cf. Jn 15:7).
This indeed is the royal door of ecumenism: such prayer leads us to
look at the Kingdom of God and the unity of the Church in a fresh way;
it reinforces our bonds of communion; and it enables us to face
courageously the painful memories, social burdens and human weaknesses
that are so much a part of our divisions.
The appeal to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thess 5:17), which stands at
the heart of the readings for this year’s Week of Prayer for Christian
Unity, also reminds us that authentic life in communion is possible
only when doctrinal agreements and formal statements are constantly
guided by the light of the Holy Spirit. We must be grateful for the
fruits of the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic theological dialogue in Finland
and Sweden concerning central matters of the Christian faith, including
the question of justification in the life of the Church. May the
ongoing dialogue lead to practical results in actions which express and
build up our unity in Christ and therefore strengthen relationships
Last year, Finland commemorated the four hundred and fiftieth
anniversary of the death of the theologian Mikael Agricola, whose
translation of the Bible had an immense impact on Finnish language and
literature. This occasion emphasized anew the importance of Scripture
for the Church, for individual Christians and for the whole of society.
Truly, the Word of God is the foundation for our life; as Saint Jerome
said: "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Jesus Christ" (Comm.
in Isaias, Prol.). Encountering the Word of God, especially as it
resounds in the Church and in her liturgy, is also important for our
ecumenical journey. As the Second Vatican Council stated, "By this Word
sacred theology is most firmly strengthened and constantly rejuvenated,
as it searches out, under the light of faith, the full truth stored up
in the mystery of Christ" (Dei Verbum, 24).
Dear friends, it is my fervent hope that your visit to Rome will bring
you much joy as you recall the witness of the first Christians, and
particularly the martyrdom of Peter and Paul, the founding apostles of
the Church of Rome. Saint Henrik followed in their footsteps, bringing
the Gospel message and its saving power to the lives of the Nordic
peoples. In the new and challenging circumstances of Europe today, and
within your own country, there is much that Lutherans and Catholics can
do together in the service of the Gospel and the advancement of the
Kingdom of God.
With these sentiments, and with affection in the Lord, I invoke upon
you and your loved ones God’s blessings of joy and peace.
Pope's Address to Baptist World Alliance
"Lack of Unity Between Christians Openly Contradicts the Will of Christ"
VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2007.- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave
today at an audience with a delegation of the joint international
commission sponsored by the Baptist World Alliance and the Pontifical
Council for Promoting Christian Unity.
* * *
I offer a cordial welcome to you, the members of the joint
international commission sponsored by the Baptist World Alliance and
the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. I am pleased that
you have chosen as the site of your meeting this city of Rome, where
the Apostles Peter and Paul proclaimed the Gospel and crowned their
witness to the Risen Lord by the shedding of their blood. It is my hope
that your conversations will bear abundant fruit for the progress of
dialogue and the increase of understanding and cooperation between
Catholics and Baptists.
The theme which you have chosen for this phase of contacts -- The Word
of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia --
offers a promising context for the examination of such historically
controverted issues as the relationship between Scripture and
Tradition, the understanding of Baptism and the sacraments, the place
of Mary in the communion of the Church, and the nature of oversight and
primacy in the Church's ministerial structure. If our hope for
reconciliation and greater fellowship between Baptists and Catholics is
to be realized, issues such as these need to be faced together, in a
spirit of openness, mutual respect and fidelity to the liberating truth
and saving power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
As believers in Christ, we acknowledge him as the one mediator between
God and humanity (1 Tim 2:5), our Saviour, our Redeemer. He is the
cornerstone (Eph 2:21; 1 Pet 2:4-8); and the head of the body, which is
the Church (Col 1:18). In this Advent season, we look to his coming
with prayerful expectation. Today, as ever, the world needs our common
witness to Christ and to the hope brought by the Gospel.
Obedience to the Lord's will should constantly spur us, then, to strive
for that unity so movingly expressed in his priestly prayer: "that they
may all be one... so that the world may believe" (Jn 17:21). For the
lack of unity between Christians "openly contradicts the will of
Christ, provides a stumbling block to the world, and harms the most
holy cause of proclaiming the good news to every creature" ("Unitatis
Dear friends, I offer you my cordial good wishes and the assurance of
my prayers for the important work which you have undertaken. Upon your
conversations, and upon each of you and your loved ones, I gladly
invoke the Holy Spirit's gifts of wisdom, understanding, strength and
XVI's Letter to Bartholomew I
"Our Work Toward Unity Is According to the Will of Christ Our Lord"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2007 - Here is the message
Benedict XVI sent to Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople
on the occasion of the feast of St. Andrew the Apostle, patron of the
ecumenical patriarchate. Cardinal Walter Kasper, president of the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, delivered the letter
to the patriarch today.
* * *
To His Holiness Bartholomaios I
Archbishop of Constantinople
The feast of Saint Andrew the Apostle, brother of Peter and Patron of
the Ecumenical Patriarchate, gives me the opportunity to convey to Your
Holiness my prayerful good wishes for an abundance of spiritual gifts
and divine blessings.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice
These words of Saint Paul inspire us to share our joy on this happy
occasion. The feast of Saint Andrew, like that of Saints Peter and
Paul, has enabled us each year to express our common apostolic faith,
our union in prayer and our joint commitment to reinforce the communion
between us. A delegation from the Holy See, led by my venerable brother
Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Pontifical Council for
Promoting Christian Unity, will attend the solemn Divine Liturgy
presided over by Your Holiness together with members of the Holy Synod.
In my heart I vividly recall my personal participation last year in the
celebration of this feast at the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and I
remember with deep gratitude the warm welcome extended to me on that
occasion. That encounter, the presence of my delegate this year at the
Phanar, as well as the visit from a delegation of the See of
Constantinople for the feast of Saints Peter and Paul in Rome, all
represent authentic signs of the commitment of our Churches to an ever
deeper communion, strengthened through cordial personal relations,
prayer and the dialogue of charity and truth.
This year we thank God in particular for the meeting of the Joint
Commission which took place in Ravenna, a city whose monuments speak
eloquently of the ancient Byzantine heritage handed down to us from the
undivided Church of the first millennium. May the splendour of those
mosaics inspire all the members of the Joint Commission to pursue their
important task with renewed determination, in fidelity to the Gospel
and to Tradition, ever alert to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in
the Church today.
While the meeting in Ravenna was not without its difficulties, I pray
earnestly that these may soon be clarified and resolved, so that there
may be full participation in the Eleventh Plenary Session and in
subsequent initiatives aimed at continuing the theological dialogue in
mutual charity and understanding. Indeed, our work towards unity is
according to the will of Christ our Lord. In these early years of the
third millennium, our efforts are all the more urgent because of the
many challenges facing all Christians, to which we need to respond with
a united voice and with conviction.
I therefore wish to assure you once more of the Catholic Church
commitment to nurture fraternal ecclesial relations and to persevere in
our theological dialogue, in order to draw closer to full communion, as
stated in our Common Declaration issued last year at the conclusion of
my visit to Your Holiness.
Once again we take our inspiration from Saint Paul words to the
Christians of Philippi, with which he urges them to seek perfection
through the imitation of Christ, and reminds them to old true to what
we have attained (Phil 3:16).
With these sentiments of fraternal affection in the Lord, I embrace
Your Holiness and all the members of the Holy Synod. I greet also the
Orthodox faithful, praying that the peace and the grace of the Lord may
be with you all.
From the Vatican, 23 November 2007
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Pope's Address to
Religious Leaders in Naples
"Religion Can Never Be a Vehicle of Hate"
NAPLES, Italy, OCT. 21, 2007 - Here is a translation of
the address Benedict XVI delivered today to the 21st International
Encounter of Peoples and Religions. The meeting, organized by the
Community of Sant'Egidio, has as its theme "Toward a World Without
Violence: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue."
* * *
Holinesses, Beatitudes, Illustrious Leaders
Representatives of Churches and Ecclesial Communities
Kind Members of the Major World Religions
I gladly welcome this occasion to greet those convoked
here in Naples for the XXI Meeting for Peace on the theme "Toward a
World without Violence: Religions and Cultures in Dialogue." You
representatives who are gathered here express in a certain sense the
different religious worlds and patrimonies of humanity to which the
Catholic looks with cordial attention. A word of appreciation must be
directed to his eminence Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe and the Archdiocese
of Naples who are hosting this meeting, and to the Community of
Sant'Egidio which works with dedication to promote dialogue among
religions and cultures in "the spirit of Assisi."
This meeting turns our minds back to 1986, when my
venerable predecessor, John Paul II, invited major religious
representatives to pray for peace on the hill of St. Francis,
highlighting in those circumstances the intrinsic link that unites an
authentic religious attitude with a living sensibility for this basic
good of humanity. In 2002, after the dramatic events of Sept. 11 of the
previous year, the same John Paul II again called religious leaders to
Assisi to ask God to stop the grave threats to humanity that were
looming, especially because of terrorism.
In respect of the differences of the various religions, we
are all called to work for peace and to an active commitment to promote
reconciliation between peoples. It is this authentic "spirit of Assisi"
which is opposed to every form of violence and abuse of religion as a
pretext for violence.
Faced with a world lacerated by conflicts, where at times
violence is justified in the name of God, it is important to
re-emphasize that religion can never be a vehicle of hate; never, in
the name of God, can we justify evil and violence. On the contrary,
because they speak of peace to the human heart, religions can offer
precious resources for building a peaceful humanity.
The Catholic Church intends to continue along the road of
dialogue to promote understanding among various cultures, traditions
and religious wisdom. I ardently desire that this spirit spread more
and more, especially where the tensions are strongest, where freedom
and respect for the other are denied and men and women suffer the
consequences of intolerance and misunderstanding.
Dear friends, may these days of work and prayerful
listening be fruitful for all. For this I lift up my prayer to the
Eternal God, may he pour out his benediction, his wisdom, and his love
in abundance upon all of the participants in this meeting. May he
liberate the hearts of men from all hatred and from the root of
violence and make us builders of the civilization of love.
Address to Mennonite Delegation
"Christ Himself Calls Us to Seek Christian Unity"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2007- Here is a copy of the address Benedict XVI
made to the delegation members of the Mennonite World Conference whom
he received in audience today.
* * *
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ"
(2 Cor 1:2). I am happy to welcome you to Rome, where Peter and Paul
bore witness to Christ by shedding their blood for the Gospel.
In the ecumenical spirit of recent times, we have begun to have
contacts with each other after centuries of isolation. I am aware that
leaders of the Mennonite World Conference accepted the invitation of my
beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, to join him in Assisi both in
1986 and in 2002 to pray for world peace at a great gathering of
leaders of Churches and Ecclesial Communities and other world
religions. And I am pleased that officials of the Pontifical Council
for Promoting Christian Unity have responded to your invitations to
attend your world assemblies in 1997 and 2003.
Since it is Christ himself who calls us to seek Christian unity, it is
entirely right and fitting that Mennonites and Catholics have entered
into dialogue in order to understand the reasons for the conflict that
arose between us in the sixteenth century. To understand is to take the
first step towards healing. I know that the report of that dialogue,
published in 2003 and currently being studied in several countries, has
placed special emphasis on healing of memories.
Mennonites are well known for their strong Christian witness to peace
in the name of the Gospel, and here, despite centuries of division, the
dialogue report "Called Together to be Peacemakers" has shown that we
hold many convictions in common. We both emphasize that our work for
peace is rooted in Jesus Christ "who is our peace, who has made us both
one… making peace that he might reconcile us both to God in one body
through the cross (Eph 2:14-16)" (Report No. 174). We both understand
that "reconciliation, nonviolence, and active peacemaking belong to the
heart of the Gospel (cf. Mt 5:9; Rom 12:14-21; Eph 6:15)" (No. 179).
Our continuing search for the unity of the Lord's disciples is of the
utmost importance. Our witness will remain impaired as long as the
world sees our divisions. Above all, what impels us to seek Christian
unity is our Lord's prayer to the Father "that they may all be one… so
that the world may believe that you have sent me" (Jn 17:21).
It is my hope that your visit will be another step towards mutual
understanding and reconciliation. May the peace and joy of Christ be
with all of you and with your loved ones.
Message for Catholic-Orthodox Symposium
"We All Look With Hope" Toward Full Communion
CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here
is a translation of the Sept. 12 message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal
Walter Kasper, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting
Christian Unity, on the occasion of the 10th Inter-Christian Symposium,
dedicated to dialogue between Catholics and Orthodox.
* * *
With great joy I learned that the Tenth Inter-Christian
Symposium, promoted by the Franciscan Institute of Spirituality of the
Pontifical Antonianum University and by the Department of Theology of
the Theological Faculty of the Aristotle University of Thessalonica,
will take place on the Island of Tinos, where Catholics and Orthodox
live together in brotherly love.
The ecumenical cooperation in the academic field
contributes to maintaining an impetus toward the longed for communion
among all Christians. To this regard, the Second Vatican Council had
glimpsed in this field a possible opportunity to involve all of God's
people in the search for full unity. "This importance is the greater
because the instruction and spiritual formation of the faithful and of
religious depends so largely on the formation which their priests have
received" ("Unitatis Redintegratio," 10).
The theme of the symposium: "St. John Chrysostom: Bridge
Between East and West," coinciding with the 1,600th anniversary of his
death on Sept. 14, 497, will offer the occasion to commemorate an
illustrious Father of the Church venerated in the East as in the West
-- a valiant, illuminated and faithful preacher of the Word of God,
upon which he founded his pastoral action; such an extraordinary
hermeneutist and speaker that, from the fifth century, he was given the
title of Chrysostom, which means golden-mouthed. A man whose
contribution to the formation of the Byzantine liturgy is known to
For the courage and faithfulness of his evangelical
witness he was able to suffer persecution and exile. After complex
historical events, from May 1, 1626, his body reposed in St. Peter's
Basilica, and on Nov. 27, 2004, my venerated predecessor John Paul II
gave part of the relics to His Holiness the Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew I and, thus, this great Father of the Church is now
venerated in the Vatican basilica as well as in the Church of St.
George in Fanar.
The reflection of your symposium, which will deal with a
theme related to John Chrysostom and communion with the Church of the
West while analyzing some problems that exist today, will contribute to
upholding and corroborating the real -- though imperfect -- communion
that exists between Catholics and Orthodox, so that we may reach that
fullness which will one day enable us to concelebrate the one
Eucharist. And it is to that blessed day that we all look with hope,
organizing practical initiatives such as this one.
With these sentiments, I invoke God's abundant blessing
upon your meeting and all of the participants: May the Holy Spirit
illuminate the minds, warm the hearts and fill each one with the joy
and peace of the Lord.
I would like to take this opportunity to send a brotherly
greeting to the Orthodox and Catholic faithful in Greece, and in a
truly special way, to the archbishop of Athens and all Greece, His
Beatitude Chrystodoulos, wishing him a full recovery in health, so that
he may return to his pastoral service as soon as possible, and I assure
my prayers for this intention. May the "Theotokos," loved and venerated
with special devotion on the island of Tinos, offer her motherly
intercession so that our shared intentions will be crowned by the much
wished for spiritual successes.
From Castel Gandolfo, Sept. 12, 2007
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Message to Interreligious Meeting
"Peace Is Both a Gift From God
and an Obligation"
VATICAN CITY, AUG. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's statement to Kahjun Handa on the
20th anniversary of the religious summit meeting on Mount Hiei.
Mount Hiei, in Japan, is home to the headquarters of the
Tendai sect of Buddhism.
* * *
To Venerable KAHJUN HANDA
I am glad to greet you and all the religious leaders
gathered on the occasion of the Twentieth Anniversary of the Religious
Summit Meeting on Mount Hiei. I wish also to convey my best wishes to
Venerable Eshin Watanabe, and to recall your distinguished predecessor
as Supreme Head of the Tendai Buddhist Denomination, Venerable Etai
Yamada. It was he who, having participated in the Day of Prayer for
Peace in Assisi on that memorable day of 27 October 1986, initiated the
"Religious Summit Meeting" on Mount Hiei in Kyoto in order to keep the
flame of the spirit of Assisi burning. I am also happy that Cardinal
Paul Poupard, President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious
Dialogue, is able to take part in this meeting.
From the supernatural perspective we come to understand
that peace is both a gift from God and an obligation for every
individual. Indeed the world’s cry for peace, echoed by families and
communities throughout the globe, is at once both a prayer to God and
an appeal to every brother and sister of our human family. As you
assemble on the sacred Mount Hiei, representing different religions, I
assure you of my spiritual closeness. May your prayers and cooperation
fill you with God’s peace and strengthen your resolve to witness to the
reason of peace which overcomes the irrationality of violence!
Upon you all I invoke an abundance of divine blessings of
inspiration, harmony and joy.
From the Vatican, 23 June 2007
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
ASPECTS OF DOCTRINE
on the Doctrine of the Church
(On "Subsists in the Catholic Church")
From Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
VATICAN CITY, JULY 10, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here
is the text of the June 29 document from the Congregation for the
Doctrine of the Faith regarding clarifications regarding the Second
Vatican Council's teaching that the Church founded by Christ "subsists
in the Catholic Church."
The document has been published in Latin,
Italian, French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese and Polish. The
complete English-language version is given below:
* * *
CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH
RESPONSES TO SOME QUESTIONS REGARDING CERTAIN
ASPECTS OF THE DOCTRINE ON THE CHURCH
The Second Vatican Council, with its Dogmatic
Constitution "Lumen gentium," and its Decrees on Ecumenism ("Unitatis
redintegratio") and the Oriental Churches ("Orientalium Ecclesiarum"),
has contributed in a decisive way to the renewal of Catholic
ecclesiolgy. The Supreme Pontiffs have also contributed to this renewal
by offering their own insights and orientations for praxis: Paul VI in
his Encyclical Letter "Ecclesiam suam" (1964) and John Paul II in his
Encyclical Letter "Ut unum sint" (1995).
The consequent duty of theologians to expound
with greater clarity the diverse aspects of ecclesiology has resulted
in a flowering of writing in this field. In fact it has become evident
that this theme is a most fruitful one which, however, has also at
times required clarification by way of precise definition and
correction, for instance in the declaration "Mysterium Ecclesiae"
(1973), the Letter addressed to the Bishops of the Catholic Church
"Communionis notio" (1992), and the declaration "Dominus Iesus" (2000),
all published by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
The vastness of the subject matter and the
novelty of many of the themes involved continue to provoke theological
reflection. Among the many new contributions to the field, some are not
immune from erroneous interpretation which in turn give rise to
confusion and doubt. A number of these interpretations have been
referred to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith. Given the universality of Catholic doctrine on the Church, the
Congregation wishes to respond to these questions by clarifying the
authentic meaning of some ecclesiological expressions used by the
magisterium which are open to misunderstanding in the theological
RESPONSES TO THE QUESTIONS
First Question: Did the Second Vatican Council
change the Catholic doctrine on the Church?
Response: The Second Vatican Council neither
changed nor intended to change this doctrine, rather it developed,
deepened and more fully explained it.
This was exactly what John XXIII said at the
beginning of the Council. Paul VI affirmed it and commented in
the act of promulgating the Constitution "Lumen gentium": "There is no
better comment to make than to say that this promulgation really
changes nothing of the traditional doctrine. What Christ willed, we
also will. What was, still is. What the Church has taught down through
the centuries, we also teach. In simple terms that which was assumed,
is now explicit; that which was uncertain, is now clarified; that which
was meditated upon, discussed and sometimes argued over, is now put
together in one clear formulation." The Bishops repeatedly expressed
and fulfilled this intention.
Second Question: What is the meaning of the
affirmation that the Church of Christ subsists in the Catholic Church?
Response: Christ "established here on earth"
only one Church and instituted it as a "visible and spiritual
community," that from its beginning and throughout the centuries has
always existed and will always exist, and in which alone are found all
the elements that Christ himself instituted. "This one Church of
Christ, which we confess in the Creed as one, holy, catholic and
apostolic […]. This Church, constituted and organised in this world as
a society, subsists in the Catholic Church, governed by the successor
of Peter and the Bishops in communion with him."
In number 8 of the Dogmatic Constitution
"Lumen Gentium" 'subsistence' means this perduring, historical
continuity and the permanence of all the elements instituted by Christ
in the Catholic Church, in which the Church of Christ is concretely
found on this earth.
It is possible, according to Catholic
doctrine, to affirm correctly that the Church of Christ is present and
operative in the churches and ecclesial Communities not yet fully in
communion with the Catholic Church, on account of the elements of
sanctification and truth that are present in them. Nevertheless, the
word "subsists" can only be attributed to the Catholic Church alone
precisely because it refers to the mark of unity that we profess in the
symbols of the faith (I believe... in the "one" Church); and this "one"
Church subsists in the Catholic Church.
Third Question: Why was the expression
"subsists in" adopted instead of the simple word "is"?
Response: The use of this expression, which
indicates the full identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic
Church, does not change the doctrine on the Church. Rather, it comes
from and brings out more clearly the fact that there are "numerous
elements of sanctification and of truth" which are found outside her
structure, but which "as gifts properly belonging to the Church of
Christ, impel towards Catholic Unity."
"It follows that these separated churches and
Communities, though we believe they suffer from defects, are deprived
neither of significance nor importance in the mystery of salvation. In
fact the Spirit of Christ has not refrained from using them as
instruments of salvation, whose value derives from that fullness of
grace and of truth which has been entrusted to the Catholic Church."
Fourth Question: Why does the Second Vatican
Council use the term "Church" in reference to the oriental Churches
separated from full communion with the Catholic Church?
Response: The Council wanted to adopt the
traditional use of the term. "Because these Churches, although
separated, have true sacraments and above all -- because of the
apostolic succession -- the priesthood and the Eucharist, by means of
which they remain linked to us by very close bonds," they merit the
title of "particular or local Churches," and are called sister
Churches of the particular Catholic Churches.
"It is through the celebration of the
Eucharist of the Lord in each of these Churches that the Church of God
is built up and grows in stature." However, since communion with
the Catholic Church, the visible head of which is the Bishop of Rome
and the Successor of Peter, is not some external complement to a
particular Church but rather one of its internal constitutive
principles, these venerable Christian communities lack something in
their condition as particular churches.
On the other hand, because of the division
between Christians, the fullness of universality, which is proper to
the Church governed by the Successor of Peter and the Bishops in
communion with him, is not fully realised in history.
Fifth Question: Why do the texts of the
Council and those of the Magisterium since the Council not use the
title of "Church" with regard to those Christian Communities born out
of the Reformation of the sixteenth century?
Response: According to Catholic doctrine,
these Communities do not enjoy apostolic succession in the sacrament of
Orders, and are, therefore, deprived of a constitutive element of the
Church. These ecclesial Communities which, specifically because of the
absence of the sacramental priesthood, have not preserved the genuine
and integral substance of the Eucharistic Mystery cannot, according
to Catholic doctrine, be called "Churches" in the proper sense.
The Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI, at the
Audience granted to the undersigned Cardinal Prefect of the
Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ratified and confirmed
these Responses, adopted in the Plenary Session of the Congregation,
and ordered their publication.
Rome, from the Offices of the Congregation for
the Doctrine of the Faith, June 29, 2007, the Solemnity of the Holy
Apostles Peter and Paul.
William Cardinal Levada
+ Angelo Amato, S.D.B.
Titular Archbishop of Sila
--- --- ---
 JOHN XXIII, Address of 11 October 1962:
"…The Council…wishes to transmit Catholic doctrine, whole and entire,
without alteration or deviation…But in the circumstances of our times
it is necessary that Christian doctrine in its entirety, and with
nothing taken away from it, is accepted with renewed enthusiasm, and
serene and tranquil adherence… it is necessary that the very same
doctrine be understood more widely and more profoundly as all those who
sincerely adhere to the Christian, Catholic and Apostolic faith
strongly desire …it is necessary that this certain and immutable
doctrine, to which is owed the obedience of faith, be explored and
expounded in the manner required by our times. The deposit of faith
itself and the truths contained in our venerable doctrine are one
thing, but the manner in which they are annunciated is another,
provided that the same fundamental sense and meaning is maintained" :
AAS 54  791-792.
 Cf. PAUL VI, Address of 29 September 1963:
AAS 55  847-852.
 PAUL VI, Address of 21 November 1964: AAS
56  1009-1010.
 The Council wished to express the identity
of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church. This is clear from
the discussions on the decree "Unitatis redintegratio." The Schema of
the Decree was proposed on the floor of the Council on 23.9.1964 with a
Relatio (Act Syn III/II 296-344). The Secretariat for the Unity of
Christians responded on 10.11.1964 to the suggestions sent by Bishops
in the months that followed (Act Syn III/VII 11-49). Herewith are
quoted four texts from this "Expensio modorum" concerning this first
A) [In Nr. 1 (Prooemium) Schema Decreti: Act
Syn III/II 296, 3-6]
"Pag. 5, lin. 3-6: Videtur etiam Ecclesiam
catholicam inter illas Communiones comprehendi, quod falsum esset.
R(espondetur): Hic tantum factum, prout ab
omnibus conspicitur, describendum est. Postea clare affirmatur solam
Ecclesiam catholicam esse veram Ecclesiam Christi"
(Act Syn III/VII 12).
B) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II
"4 -- Expressius dicatur unam solam esse veram
Ecclesiam Christi; hanc esse Catholicam Apostolicam Romanam; omnes
debere inquirere, ut eam cognoscant et ingrediantur ad salutem
R(espondetur): In toto textu sufficienter
effertur, quod postulatur. Ex altera parte non est tacendum etiam in
aliis communitatibus christianis inveniri veritates revelatas et
(Act Syn III/VII 15). Cf. also ibid pt. 5.
C) [In Caput I in genere: Act Syn III/II 296s]
"5 - Clarius dicendum esset veram Ecclesiam
esse solam Ecclesiam catholicam romanam ...
R(espondetur): Textus supponit doctrinam in
constitutione 'De Ecclesia' expositam, ut pag. 5, lin. 24-25
affirmatur" (Act Syn III/VII 15). Thus the commission whose task it was
to evaluate the responses to the Decree Unitatis redintegratio clearly
expressed the identity of the Church of Christ with the Catholic Church
and its unicity, and understood this doctrine to be founded in the
Dogmatic Constitution "Lumen gentium."
D) [In Nr. 2 Schema Decreti: Act Syn III/II
"Pag. 6, lin. 1- 24: Clarius exprimatur
unicitas Ecclesiae. Non sufficit inculcare, ut in textu fit, unitatem
R(espondetur): a) Ex toto textu clare apparet
identificatio Ecclesiae Christi cum Ecclesia catholica, quamvis, ut
oportet, efferantur elementa ecclesialia aliarum communitatum".
"Pag. 7, lin. 5: Ecclesia a successoribus
Apostolorum cum Petri successore capite gubernata (cf. novum textum ad
pag. 6, lin.33-34) explicite dicitur 'unicus Dei grex' et lin. 13 'una
et unica Dei Ecclesia' "
(Act Syn III/VII).
The two expressions quoted are those of
Unitatis redintegratio 2.5 e 3.1.
 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic
Constitution "Lumen gentium," 8.1.
 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree
"Unitatis redintegratio," 3.2; 3.4; 3.5; 4.6.
 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic
Constitution, "Lumen gentium," 8.2.
 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE
FAITH, Declaration "Mysterium Ecclesiae," 1.1: AAS 65  397;
Declaration "Dominus Iesus," 16.3: AAS 92 [2000-II] 757-758;
Notification on the Book of Leonardo Boff, OFM, "Church: Charism and
Power": AAS 77  758-759.
 Cf. JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter "Ut
unum sint," 11.3: AAS 87 [1995-II] 928.
 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic
Constitution "Lumen gentium," 8.2.
 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Dogmatic
Constitution "Lumen gentium," 8.2.
 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree "Unitatis
 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree "Unitatis
redintegratio," 15.3; cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH,
Letter "Communionis notio," 17.2: AAS, 85 [1993-II] 848.
 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree "Unitatis
 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree
Unitatis redintegratio, 14.1; JOHN PAUL II, Encyclical Letter "Ut unum
sint," 56 f: AAS 87 [1995-II] 954 ff.
 SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree "Unitatis
 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE
FAITH, Letter "Communionis notio," 17.3: AAS 85 [1993-II] 849.
 Cf. SECOND VATICAN COUNCIL, Decree
"Unitatis redintegratio," 22.3.
 Cf. CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE
FAITH, Declaration "Dominus Iesus," 17.2: AAS 92 [2000-II] 758.
[Original text: Latin]
Address to Orthodox Archbishop of Cyprus
"The Lord Has Not Ceased to Guide Our Steps"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation
of the address Benedict XVI delivered during the June 16 visit of
Chrysostomos II, Orthodox archbishop of New Justiniana and All Cyprus.
* * *
VISIT OF HIS BEATITUDE CHRYSOSTOMOS II
ARCHBISHOP OF NEW JUSTINIANA AND ALL CYPRUS
TO HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 16 June 2007
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Your Beatitude and Dear Brother,
I welcome you today with joy, hearing the words of the Apostle ring out
in my heart: "May the God of steadfastness and encouragement grant you
to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus,
that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our
Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 15:5-6).
Your visit is a gift of the God of steadfastness and encouragement of
which St Paul speaks, addressing those who heard the message of
salvation for the first time in Rome. Today, we are experiencing the
gift of perseverance because, despite the presence of centuries-old
divisions, diverging paths and the effort required in stitching up
grievious wounds, the Lord has not ceased to guide our steps on the
path of unity and reconciliation. And for all of us this is a cause of
consolation because our meeting today is part of an ever more intense
process in the search of that full communion so longed for by Christ:
"ut omnes unum sint" (cf. Jn 17:21).
We know well that adherence to the Lord's ardent desire cannot and must
not be proclaimed solely in words or in a purely formal manner. For
this reason, Your Beatitude, in following in the footsteps of the
Apostle to the Gentiles, you did not come from Cyprus to Rome merely
for an "exchange of ecumenical courtesy", but rather to reaffirm your
firm decision to persevere in praying to the Lord to show us how to
achieve full communion. At the same time, your visit is a cause of
intense joy, for in our encounters we have already been granted to
sample the beauty of the desired full Christian unity.
Thank you, Your Beatitude, for this gesture of esteem and brotherly
friendship. In you, I greet the Pastor of an ancient and illustrious
Church, a shining tessera of that bright mosaic, the East, which, to
use a favourite phrase of the Servant of God John Paul II of venerable
memory, constitutes one of the two lungs with which the Church breathes.
Your appreciated presence reminds me of the fervent preaching of St
Paul in Cyprus (cf. Acts 13:4ff.) and the adventurous voyage which
brought him to Rome, where he proclaimed the same Gospel and sealed his
luminous witness of faith with martyrdom.
Does not the memory of the Apostle to the Gentiles perhaps invite us to
turn our hearts with humility and hope to Christ, who is our one
With his divine help we must not tire of seeking together the ways of
unity, overcoming those difficulties which in the course of history
have given rise to divisions and reciprocal diffidence among
Christians. May the Lord grant us that we may soon be able to approach
the same altar, to partake together of the one Banquet of the
Eucharistic Bread and Wine.
In welcoming you, dear Brother in the Lord, I would like to pay homage
to the ancient and venerable Church of Cyprus, rich in saints, among
whom I would like to remember in particular Barnabas, a companion and
collaborator of the Apostle Paul, and Epiphanius, Bishop of Constantia,
once called Salamis, today Famagusta.
Epiphanius, who exercised his episcopal ministry for 35 years in a
turbulent period for the Church because of the Arian revival and the
controversies of the "Pneumatomachians", wrote works with a clear
catechetical and apologetic intention, as he himself explained in his
This interesting treatise contains two Creeds, the
Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed and the Creed of the Baptismal
Tradition of Constantia, which corresponds to the Nicene faith but is
differently formulated and amplified and "more suited", Epiphanius
himself pointed out, "to combating the errors that arise because it
conforms to that [faith] determined by the aforementioned Holy Fathers"
of the Nicean Council (Ancoratus, n. 119). In it, he explained, we
affirm our faith in the "holy Spirit, the Spirit of God, the perfect
Spirit. The Spirit Consoler, not created, who proceeds from the Father
and comes from the Son, the object of our faith" (ibid.).
As a good Pastor, Epiphanius pointed out to the flock entrusted to him
by Christ, the truth in which to believe, the way to take and the
pitfalls to avoid.
This is a method for proclaiming the Gospel that is also effective
today, especially to the new generations strongly influenced by
currents of thought contrary to the Gospel spirit. At the beginning of
this Third Millennium, the Church finds herself facing challenges and
problems not at all unlike those which Bishop Epiphanius had to tackle.
It was as necessary then as it is now to be on the alert in order to
put the People of God on their guard against false prophets and the
errors and superficiality of proposals that are not in conformity with
the teaching of the divine Teacher, our one Saviour.
At the same time, it is urgently necessary to find a new language in
which to proclaim the faith that brings us together, a shared language,
a spiritual language that can transmit faithfully the revealed truths
and thereby help us to reconstruct, in truth and charity, communion
among all members of the one Body of Christ.
This need, for which we are all aware, impels us to persevere without
being discouraged in the theological dialogue between the Catholic
Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. It leads us to using
effective and permanent instruments to ensure that the search for
communion is not interrupted or sporadic in our Churches' life and
As we face the immense task expected of us, whose implementation is far
beyond human capacities, we must entrust ourselves first of all to
prayer. This does not mean that it is not only right to have recourse,
today as well, to every effective human means that can serve this
In this perspective, I consider your visit a particularly useful
initiative for enabling us to progress towards the unity desired by
Christ. We know that this unity is a gift and fruit of the Holy Spirit;
but we also know that it requires at the same time a constant effort,
enlivened by a sure will and steadfast hope in the power of the Lord.
Thank you, therefore, Your Beatitude, for coming to pay me a visit,
together with the brothers who have accompanied you; thank you for this
presence, which gives concrete expression to the desire to seek full
For my part, I assure you that I share in this same desire, sustained
by firm hope. Yes, "may the God of steadfastness and encouragement
grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with
Thus, let us turn confidently to the Lord, so that he may guide our
footsteps on the path of peace, joy and love.
Chrysostomos II's Address to
"We Want You Beside Us!"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation
of the address delivered by Chrysostomos II, Orthodox archbishop of New
Justiniana and all Cyprus, during his June 16 visit to Benedict XVI.
* * *
VISIT OF HIS BEATITUDE CHRYSOSTOMOS II
ARCHBISHOP OF NEA JUSTINIANA AND ALL CYPRUS
TO HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 16 June 2007
ADDRESS OF HIS BEATITUDE CHRYSOSTOMOS II
"To all God's beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: grace to
you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1: 7).
Your Holiness, Pope of Ancient Rome and Bishop of the historical Chair
of the Blessed Apostle Peter,
The grace of the Holy Spirit and our duty as Archbishop-Primate of the
Most Holy Martyr Church of the Holy Apostle Barnabas for the unity and
peace of our Apostolic Churches, have guided our footsteps here today,
together with our reverend entourage. We have come to the place of the
martyrdom of the Coryphaei of the Apostles, Peter and Paul, the shrine
of the Catacombs of the martyrs of our common faith, to meet you, the
one among the Bishops who holds the primacy of honour of undivided
Christianity, to give you the fraternal kiss of peace and, after a
non-fraternal journey down the centuries, to build new bridges of
reconciliation, collaboration and love!
This is our third meeting after the unforgettable funeral of your
beloved Predecessor Pope John Paul II, of blessed memory, and the
joyful ceremony of your own elevation to this Apostolic Throne. The
whole of the Christian Ecumene looks with great hopes to this throne,
awaiting gestures of dialogue, re-pacification, rapprochement and love
from the wise theologian, the tireless pastor, the dynamic
ecclesiastical leader who presides over it. In this regard, the
development of the official theological dialogue between the Catholic
Church and the Orthodox Church -- in which our Apostolic Church of
Cyprus takes part, with responsibility and coherence -- is of paramount
Our eyes will perhaps not be able to see the longed for unity of the
Church, but with the grace of the Holy Spirit we will have done our
duty in time and space as peacemakers and true brothers "ut omnes unum
Furthermore, it is our personal conviction that since the drifting
apart of our Sister Churches and the schism between them took place
over so many centuries of accumulated misunderstandings, so their
reunification and the re-establishment of mutual trust and true love
between them will need time, patience and sacrifices.
Yet, with an awareness of our great responsibility, we take it upon
ourselves to bring this task to completion "in truth and charity" under
the infallible guidance of God's life-giving Spirit.
Our meeting today is felicitously taking place on the eve of the 35th
anniversary of the beginning of official diplomatic relations between
the Holy See and the Republic of Cyprus. Indeed, in 1973, after the
encounter of the Ethnarch, Archbishop Makarios III, with Pope Paul VI
in Castel Gandolfo, the representation of these two parties was
entrusted respectively to the current Cardinal Pio Laghi, who was then
titular Archbishop of Mauriana and Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and
Palestine, and to H.E. Mr Polys Modinòs, then Ambassador of
Cyprus in Paris.
Your Holiness, allow me to mention here the first Ambassador of Cyprus
to the Holy See, resident in Rome: our dear friend, H.E. Mr Georgios
Poulides, and to thank him warmly for his devotion, respect and love
for the Church, and his important and indispensable work.
In recent decades after the Second Vatican Council, some of our Cypriot
theologians, clerics and lay people have done post lauream studies at
various Pontifical Universities with scholarships awarded by the
Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. We would therefore
like to express our gratitude to you and likewise our own intention to
offer as a minimal antidoron of gratitude, summer scholarships in
Cyprus for Catholic theologians interested in learning modern Greek
together with the liturgical riches of the Orthodox Church from close
at hand, so that they in turn may one day contribute to the vision of
the united Church.
Recently, Your Excellency, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr
Tassos Papadopoulos, said very gracefully: "Cyprus has always been
Europe, even before Europe was established. With its entry into the
European Union, Cyprus has come home". Yet, this common home of ours,
Europe, the cradle of Western civilization, the glorious seat of the
Christian spirit, the Mother of Saints and Missionaries, is passing
through a period of crisis and confusion, of atheism and doubt, of
secularization and decadence.
Society and the people of our time are thirsting and seeking. They have
values and principles, traditions and customs that were formed in the
light of the Gospel and under the wise guidance of the Fathers of the
Church and of other ecclesiastical personalities, but are unable to
recognize Christ's presence and the power of his soteriological
message. They refuse to admit the fundamental importance of Europe's
Christian roots: it is the hour of the Church and the new
evangelization, the hour of the mission ad intra!
Yet, without the collaboration of the European Churches and our common
Christian witness, it is certain that very little will have a positive
outcome and that the many isolated efforts of the various Churches and
Christian denominations will unfortunately be doomed to failure.
Instead of exercising a positive influence on the convinced European
Christian, our globalized epoch seems to reject the historical
ecumenicity of the Christian message and to marginalize its dynamic and
effectiveness. Secularization, eudaemonism, the deification of
technology and atheistic science confuse our neighbour and lead him
inevitably to existential desperation. His anguished cry is heard:
"Lord, to whom shall we go?" (Jn 6:68).
What, then, is our responsibility as spiritual fathers? What is our
approach to spiritual care for our young people? Shall we succeed at
last in protecting the sacred institution of the family? The sacredness
of the human person, now defenceless in the face of medical research,
abortion, euthanasia? And the oneness of God's creation which surrounds
us and risks being destroyed irreparably by us?
The Orthodox path passes through spirituality, ascesis, fasting, the
study of the texts of the Church Fathers who were inspired by God, the
sense of the sacred and first and foremost the Divine Eucharist: these
are our spiritual weapons and we wish to fight side by side with the
Sister Church of Rome to transform European society, which is
anthropocentric, into a Christocentric society with respect for our
brethren of other religions, for immigrants, the poor, refugees and the
weak of this earth.
Our presence here today, Your Holiness, is an appeal to you, the Pope
who comes from a friendly country, traumatized by division for decades,
like ours, but thanks be to God reunited. Therefore, you alone can
understand how sad we feel! Our Homeland and Your Sister, the Apostolic
Church of Cyprus, is suffering but is also persevering with dignity
through the intercession of her saints and in particular the protection
of her founder, the blessed Apostle Barnabas.
Human rights are trampled upon, monuments are destroyed, works of our
spiritual patrimony become the object of international trade, and the
division of the last European capital, Nicosia, seems doomed to
continue. Will no one hear our just lament and raise their voices in
protest to the powerful of the earth, who exploit Christ's Name but are
deaf to the law of love?
We ask your support through the invincible weapons of brotherly prayer,
but also through your fatherly cry for the defence of the inalienable
rights of the Ancient and Apostolic Sister Church of Cyprus, this
crossroads of peoples, religions, languages and civilizations of the
Mediterranean and Middle East.
We want you beside us! Through us the Holy Apostle Barnabas invites his
elder brother, the Blessed Apostle Peter, to make a first Visit to his
humble home and to receive hospitality in it, to feel as though it were
his own home and to bless it!
We await you, Your Holiness, as Bishop of the Roman See which presides
in charity, in the Cyprus of dialogue, democracy, dignity, faith,
monasticism, hospitality, monuments and works of art! May you deign to
come to us and give us the opportunity to reciprocate your fraternal
hospitality during these splendid days that we have spent in the
Your Holiness, with the intercession of the Holy Apostles Peter and
Paul, Patrons of the Diocese of Rome, of the Holy Apostle Barnabas,
Founder of the Church of Cyprus, and of the Holy Greeks Isapostolic
Cyril and Methodius, Co-Patrons of Europe, we offer you our heartfelt
good wishes for health, a long life and the illumination of the Holy
Spirit for the success of your lofty mission as Pontiff-builder of
bridges between peoples, religions and cultures.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so
that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Rom
Common Declaration of Pope and
"We Thank God With Joy for This Fraternal Meeting"
VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation
of the common declaration signed by Benedict XVI and Chrysostomos II,
Orthodox archbishop of New Justiniana and all Cyprus, during the
latter's June 16 visit to Rome.
* * *
VISIT OF HIS BEATITUDE CHRYSOSTOMOS II
ARCHBISHOP OF NEA JUSTINIANA AND ALL CYPRUS
TO HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Saturday, 16 June 2007
"Blessed be God and Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us
in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places" (Eph 1:
1. We, Benedict XVI, Pope and Bishop of Rome, and Chrysostomos II,
Archbishop of Nea Justiniana and All Cyprus, full of hope for the
future of our Churches' relations, thank God with joy for this
fraternal meeting in our common faith in the Risen Christ. This visit
has enabled us to observe how these relations have increased, both at a
local level and in the context of the theological dialogue between the
Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church as a whole. The Delegation of
the Church of Cyprus has always made a positive contribution to this
dialogue; among other things, for instance, in 1983 it hosted the
Coordination Committee of the International Joint Commission for
Theological Dialogue, so that in addition to doing the demanding
preparatory work, the Catholic and Orthodox Members were able to visit
and admire the great spiritual riches and wealth of art works of the
Church of Cyprus.
2. On the happy occasion of our fraternal encounter at the tombs of Sts
Peter and Paul, the "coryphaei of the Apostles", as liturgical
tradition says, we would like to declare of common accord our sincere
and firm willingness, in obedience to the desire of Our Lord Jesus
Christ, to intensify our search for full unity among all Christians,
making every possible effort deemed useful to the life of our
Communities. We desire that the Catholic and Orthodox faithful of
Cyprus live a fraternal life in full solidarity, based on our common
faith in the Risen Christ. We also wish to sustain and encourage the
theological dialogue which is preparing through the competent
International Commission to address the most demanding issues that
marked the historical event of the division.
For full communion in the faith, the sacramental life and the exercise
of the pastoral ministry, it is necessary to reach substantial
agreement. To this end, we assure our faithful of our fervent prayers
as Pastors in the Church and ask them to join us in a unanimous
invocation "that they may all be one... so that the world may believe"
3. At our meeting, we reviewed the historical situations in which our
Churches are living. In particular, we examined the situation of
division and tensions that have marked the Island of Cyprus for more
than 30 years, with its tragic daily problems which impair the daily
life of our communities and of individual families. More generally, we
considered the situation in the Middle East, where the war and
conflicts between peoples risk spreading with disastrous consequences.
We prayed for the peace that "comes from the heavenly places". It is
the intention of our Churches to play a role of peacemaking in justice
and solidarity and, to achieve all this, it is our constant wish to
foster fraternal relations among all Christians and loyal dialogue
between the different religions present and active in the Region. May
faith in the one God help the people of these ancient and celebrated
regions to rediscover friendly coexistence, in reciprocal respect and
4. We therefore address this appeal to all those who, everywhere in the
world, raise their hand against their own brethren, exhorting them
firmly to lay down their weapons and to take steps to heal the injuries
caused by war. We also ask them to spare no effort to ensure that human
rights are always defended in every nation: respect for the human
person, an image of God, is in fact a fundamental duty for all. Thus,
among the human rights to be safeguarded, freedom of religion should be
at the top of the list. Failure to respect this right constitutes a
very serious offence to the dignity of the human being, who is struck
deep within his heart where God dwells. Consequently, to profane,
destroy or sack the places of worship of any religion is an act against
humanity and the civilization of the peoples.
5. We did not omit to reflect on a new opportunity that is opening for
more intense contact and more concrete collaboration between our
Churches. In fact, the building of the European Union is progressing,
and Catholics and Orthodox are called to contribute to creating a
climate of friendship and cooperation. At a time when secularization
and relativism are growing, Catholics and Orthodox in Europe are called
to offer a renewed common witness to the ethical values, ever ready to
account for their faith in Jesus Christ, Lord and Saviour. The European
Union, which will not be able to restrict itself to merely economic
cooperation, needs sound cultural foundations, shared ethical
references and openness to the religious dimension. It is essential to
revive the Christian roots of Europe which made its civilization great
down the centuries and to recognize that in this regard the Western and
Eastern Christian traditions have a common task to achieve.
6. At our encounter, therefore, we considered our Churches' long
journey through history and the great tradition which has come down to
our day, starting with the proclamation of the first disciples, who
came to Cyprus from Jerusalem after the persecution of Stephen, and
reviewing Paul's voyage from the coasts of Cyprus to Rome as it is
recounted in the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 11:19; 27:4ff.). The rich
patrimony of faith and the solid Christian tradition of our lands
should spur Catholics and Orthodox to a renewed impetus in proclaiming
the Gospel in our age, in being faithful to our Christian vocation and
in responding to the demands of the contemporary world.
7. The treatment of bioethical issues gives rise to serious concern.
Indeed, there is a risk that certain techniques, applied to genetics,
intentionally conceived to meet legitimate needs, actually go so far as
to undermine the dignity of the human being created in the image of
God. The exploitation of human beings, abusive experimentation and
genetic experiments which fail to respect ethical values are an offence
against life and attack the safety and dignity of every human person,
in whose existence they can never be either justified or permitted.
8. At the same time, these ethical considerations and a shared concern
for human life prompt us to invite those nations which, with God's
grace, have made significant progress in the areas of the economy and
technology, not to forget their brothers and sisters who live in
countries afflicted by poverty, hunger and disease. We therefore ask
the leaders of nations to encourage and promote an equitable
distribution of the goods of the earth in a spirit of solidarity with
the poor and with all those who are destitute in the world.
9. We also concurred in our anxiety about the risk of destroying the
creation. Man received it so that he might implement God's plan.
However, by setting himself up at the centre of the universe,
forgetting the Creator's mandate and shutting himself in a selfish
search for his own well-being, the human being has managed the
environment in which he lives by putting into practice decisions that
threaten his own existence, whereas the environment requires the
respect and protection of all who dwell in it.
10. Let us address together this prayer to the Lord of history, so that
he will strengthen our Churches' witness in order that the Gospel
proclamation of salvation may reach the new generations and be a light
for all men and women. To this end, we entrust our desires and
commitments to the Theotokos, the Mother of God Hodegetria, who points
out the way to Our Lord Jesus Christ.
From the Vatican, 16 June 2007
Benedictus PP. XVI
Address to Interreligious Foundation
"A Vital Need for Our Time"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 1 when
he received in audience members of the Foundation for Interreligious
and Intercultural Research and Dialogue.
* * *
It is a joy for me, having been one of the founding
members of the Foundation for Interreligious and Intercultural Research
and Dialogue, to meet you again and to welcome you today at the
Vatican. I greet in particular His Royal Highness Prince Hassan of
Jordan whom I have the pleasure to meet on this occasion.
I thank H.E. Metropolitan Damaskinos of
Andrianoupolis, your President, who has presented to me the first
result of your work: a joint edition of the three Sacred Books of the
three monotheistic religions in their original language and in
chronological order. Indeed, this was the very first project we
conceived of in creating the Foundation together, so as to "make a
specific and positive contribution to the dialogue between cultures and
As I have said on several occasions, in continuation
with the Conciliar Declaration "Nostra Aetate" and with my beloved
Predecessor, Pope John Paul II, we, Jews, Christians and Muslims are
called to develop the bonds that unite us.
Indeed, it was this idea that led us to create this
Foundation which aims to seek "the most essential and authentic message
that the three monotheistic religions, namely, Judaism, Christianity
and Islam, can address to the world of the 21st century", to give a new
impetus to interreligious and intercultural dialogue by means of our
common research and by highlighting and disseminating everything in our
respective spiritual heritages that helps to strengthen fraternal ties
between our communities of believers.
Consequently, the Foundation had to work out an
instrument of reference that would help us overcome misunderstandings
and prejudices and offer a common platform for future work. Thus, you
have produced this beautiful edition of the three books which are the
source of our religious beliefs, creators of culture, that have made a
deep mark on peoples and to which we are indebted today.
The reinterpretation, and for some people, the
discovery of the texts that so many people across the world venerate as
sacred, demands mutual respect in trusting dialogue. Our contemporaries
expect of us a message of harmony and peace and the practical
expression of our common willingness to help them achieve their
legitimate aspiration to live in justice and peace.
They are entitled to expect of us a strong sign of
renewed understanding and reinforced cooperation in accordance with the
actual objective of the Foundation, which proposes to offer "to the
world in this way a sign of hope and the promise of divine Blessings
that always accompanies charitable action".
The Foundation's work will contribute to a growing
awareness of everything in the different cultures of our time which is
in conformity with divine wisdom and serves human dignity, the better
to discern and reject everything that usurps God's name and deforms
Thus, we are invited to engage in a common task of
reflection. This is a labor of reason for which I wholeheartedly
appeal, with you, to be able to examine God's mystery in the light of
our respective religious traditions and wisdom so as to discern the
values likely to illumine the men and women of all the peoples on
earth, whatever their culture and religion.
For this reason it is henceforth invaluable to have at
our disposal a common reference point, thanks to the work you have
done. Thus, we will be able to make headway in interreligious and
intercultural dialogue which today is more necessary than ever: a true
dialogue, respectful of differences, courageous, patient and
persevering, which finds its strength in prayer and is nourished by the
hope that dwells in all who believe in God and put their trust in him.
Our respective religious traditions all insist on the
sacred character of the life and dignity of the human person. We
believe that God will bless our initiatives if they converge for the
good of all his children and enable them to respect each other in
Together with all people of good will, we aspire to
peace. That is why I insist once again: interreligious and
intercultural research and dialogue are not an option but a vital need
for our time.
May the Almighty bless your work and grant an
abundance of his Blessings to you and to your loved ones!