Pope's Address At Conclusion of Lenten Spiritual Exercises 2013
"In this Suffering Figure of the Son of God, We Begin to See the Most Profound Beauty of Our Creator and Redeemer"

VATICAN CITY, February 24, 2013  - Here is the translation of Pope Benedict's address at the conclusion of the Lenten Spiritual Exercises led by Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi.

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Dear brothers,

Dear friends!

At the end of this spiritually dense week, there remains just one thing to say: Thank you! I thank you for this praying and listening community that accompanied me during this week. Thank you, above all, Eminence, for these very beautiful “walks” in the universe of faith, in the universe of the Psalms. We are left fascinated by the richness, by the profundity, by the beauty of this universe of faith and we are grateful that the Word of God has spoken to us in a new way, with new power.

“The art of believing, the art of praying” was the thread. It came to my mind that the medieval theologians translated the word “logos” not only as “verbum” (word) but also as “ars” (art): “verbum” and “ars” are interchangeable. For the medieval theologians, only in the two words together does the whole meaning of the word “logos” appear. The “Logos” is not only mathematical reason: the “Logos” has a heart, the “Logos” is love. Truth is beautiful, truth and beauty go together: beauty is the seal of truth.

And, nevertheless, you, through the Psalms and through our daily experience, also firmly stressed that the “very beautiful” of the sixth day – spoken by the Creator – is permanently contradicted, in this world, by evil, by suffering, by corruption. It seems that the evil one wants permanently to stain creation, to contradict God and to make his truth and beauty unrecognizable. In a world so characterized also by evil, the “Logos,” the eternal Beauty and the eternal “Art,” must appear as a “caput cruentatum” (bloody head). The incarnate Son, the incarnate “Logos,” is crowned with a crown of thorns; and nevertheless, precisely in this way, in this suffering figure of the Son of God, we begin to see the most profound beauty of our Creator and Redeemer; and yet we can, in the silence of the “dark night,” hear the Word. Believing is nothing other than touching the hand of God in the darkness of the world and thus, in silence, to hear the Word, to see Love.

Eminence, thank you for everything and let us continue to take “walks” in this mysterious universe of faith, to be ever more able to pray, to proclaim, to be witnesses of truth, which is beautiful, which is love.

Finally, dear friends, I would like to thank all of you, and not only for this week, but of these 8 years in which you have borne with me, with great competence, affection, love, faith, the weight of the Petrine office. This gratitude remains in me and even if now there ends the “external,” “visible” communion – as Cardinal Ravasi said – there remains spiritual closeness, there remains a profound communion in prayer. In this certainty we go forward, certain of God’s victory, certain of the truth of beauty and love. I thank all of you.

 
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Pope's Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture

VATICAN CITY, February 07, 2013  - Pope Benedict XVI received in audience the participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture today at the Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace. The three day event, which is being held from February 6-9, will focus on the theme: "Emerging youth cultures". Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address.

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Dear Friends,

I am delighted to meet you at the opening of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Culture, in which you are engaged in understanding and deepening - as the President has said - from different perspectives, in the "emerging youth cultures." I cordially greet the President, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, and I thank him for his courteous words addressed to me on behalf of you all. I greet the Members, the Consultors and all Collaborators of the Dicastery, wishing you a fruitful work, which will provide a useful contribution to the action that the Church carries out towards the youth reality; a reality, as has been said, that is complex and that can no longer be understood within a homogeneous cultural universe, but needs to be understood within a horizon that can be defined as a "multiverse", determined, that is, by a plurality of views, perspectives and strategies. Therefore, it is appropriate to speak of "youth cultures", since the elements distinguishing and differentiating the cultural phenomena and areas outweigh those which, though present, are common to them. Several factors contribute to form a cultural landscape that is increasingly fragmented and in continuous, rapid evolution, to which the social media are certainly no strangers, these new communication tools that facilitate and sometimes themselves cause continuous and rapid changes in mentality, customs, behavior.

There is thus a widespread climate of instability affecting the cultural sphere, as well as the political and economic spheres - the latter marked also by the difficulties young people have in finding a job - that has an effect mainly on the psychological and relational level. The uncertainty and fragility that characterize so many young people, often push them to the margins, making them almost invisible and absent in the cultural and historical processes of societies. And with increasing frequency, fragility and marginality are resulting in drug addiction, deviance and violence. The affective and emotional sphere, the sphere of feelings, like that of the body, is strongly affected by this climate and by the consequent cultural environment, expressed, for example, by apparently contradictory phenomena, such as that which makes a spectacle of the intimate and personal lives of persons, and the individualistic and narcissistic closing in on one's own needs and interests. The religious dimension, too, the experience of faith and one's belonging to the Church are often lived from a privatistic and emotive perspective.

However, very positive phenomena are also present. The generous and courageous impulses of so many young volunteers who devote their best efforts to their neediest brethren; the experiences of sincere and deep faith of so many young boys and girls who joyfully bear witness to their belonging to the Church; the efforts carried out to build, in many parts of the world, societies able to respect the freedom and dignity of all, beginning with the smallest and weakest. All this comforts us and helps us to trace a more precise and objective picture of youth cultures. We cannot, therefore, content ourselves with reading the cultural youth phenomena according to the established paradigms, which by now have become commonplaces, or analyze them with methods that are no longer useful, starting from outdated and inadequate cultural categories.

We are ultimately faced with an extremely complex but fascinating reality, which must be understood thoroughly and loved with a great spirit of empathy, a reality whose bottom lines and developments we must know how to grasp attentively. Looking, for example, at the young people in many countries of the so-called "Third World", we realize that they represent, with their cultures and their needs, a challenge to the global consumer society, to the culture of established privileges, enjoyed by a small portion of the population of the Western world. Youth cultures, as a result, become "emerging" in the sense that they exhibit a deep need, a call for help or even a "provocation", which cannot be ignored or neglected, by either civil society or the ecclesial community. I have often expressed, for example, my concern and that of the whole Church for the so-called "educational emergency", alongside which we should surely list the other "emergencies" affecting the different dimensions of the person and his fundamental relationships, and which cannot be answered in an evasive and trivial manner. I think, for example, of the growing difficulties in the field of work or of the effort to be faithful in one's time in carrying out the responsibilities accepted. What would follow, for the future of the world and of all humanity, would be an impoverishment that is not only economic and social but also human and spiritual: if the youth no longer hoped and not longer made progress, if they were not to inject their energy into the historical dynamics, their vitality, their ability to anticipate the future, we would find ourselves as a humanity turned in on itself, lacking confidence and a positive outlook towards the future.

Although we are aware of the many problematic situations, which also affect the context of the faith and of belonging to the Church, we wish to renew our faith in young people, to reaffirm that the Church regards to their condition, their cultures, as an essential and unavoidable point of reference for its pastoral work. So I would return again to some significant passages of the Message that the Second Vatican Council addressed to young people, so that they may serve as grounds for reflection and inspiration for the new generations. First, in this Message, it was stated: "The Church looks to you with confidence and love ... She possesses what constitutes the strength and the charm of youth, that is to say, the ability to rejoice with what is beginning, to give oneself unreservedly, to renew oneself and set out again for new conquests." Then the Venerable Paul VI addressed this appeal to the youth of the world: "is in the name of this God and of his Son Jesus, that we exhort you to open your hearts to the dimensions of the world, to heed the appeal of your brothers, and to place your youthful energies at their service. Fight against all egoism. Refuse to give free course to the instincts of violence and hatred, which beget wars and all their sad train of miseries. Be generous, pure, respectful, sincere. And build in enthusiasm a better world than your elders had!"

I, too, wish to reaffirm this forcefully: the Church has confidence in young people, she hopes in them and in their energies, she needs them and their vitality, to continue to live with renewed enthusiasm the mission entrusted them by Christ. I very much hope, therefore, that the Year of Faith may be, also for the younger generation, a precious opportunity to rediscover and strengthen our friendship with Christ, from which to derive joy and enthusiasm to profoundly transform cultures and societies.

Dear friends, thanking you for the effort which you generously place at the service of the Church, and for the special attention you are giving to young people, I cordially impart to you my Apostolic Blessing. Thank you

 

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Papal Address to Roman Rota
"The current crisis of faith ... brings with it a crisis of the conjugal relationship"

VATICAN CITY, January 28, 2013  - Here is a translation of an address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota.

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Dear members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota!

It is a joy for me to meet with you on the occasion of the inauguration of the new judicial year. I thank your dean, Monsignor Pio Vito Pinto, for the sentiments expressed on behalf of all of you and from my heart I return them. This meeting offers me the opportunity to reaffirm my esteem and gratitude for the service you provide the Successor of Peter and the whole Church and to encourage you to invest yourselves still more in an area that is certainly difficult but of incomparable worth for the salvation of souls. The principle that the “salus animarum” (salvation of souls) is the supreme law in the Church (cf. CIC, can. 1752) must be kept firmly in mind and be responded to daily in your work strictly and dutifully.

1. In the context of the Year of Faith, I would like to reflect, in a special way, on certain aspects of the relationship between faith and marriage, observing that the current crisis of faith, which involves various parts of the world, brings with it a crisis of the conjugal relationship, with all the weight of suffering and turmoil that this causes for the children. We can begin from the common linguistic root of the Latin terms “fides” (faith) and “foedus” (covenant). The latter term is used by the Code of Canon Law to designate the natural reality of marriage as an irrevocable pact between man and woman (cf. can. 1055 §1). The reciprocal commitment of self is, in fact, the irreplaceable basis of any pact or covenant.

At the theological level, the relation between faith and matrimony assumes a still greater and more profound meaning. The spousal bond, in fact, although it is a natural reality between the baptized has been elevated to the dignity of a sacrament by Christ (cf. ibid.).

For sacramentality the indissoluble pact between man and woman does not require their personal faith; what it requires, as the minimal necessary condition, is the intention to do what the Church does. But if it is important not to confuse the problem of intention with that of the faith of those entering into the covenant, nevertheless, it is not possible to totally separate them.

As the International Theological Commission noted in a 1977 document: “Where there is no trace of faith (in the sense of “belief”—being disposed to believe), and no desire for grace or salvation is found, then a real doubt arises as to whether there is the above-mentioned general and truly sacramental intention and whether the contracted marriage is validly contracted or not” (“Propositions on the Doctrine of Christian Marriage,” 2.3). John Paul II, speaking to this Tribunal 10 years ago, in any case, specified “that an attitude on the part of those getting married that does not take into account the supernatural dimension of marriage can render it null and void only if it undermines its validity on the natural level on which the sacramental sign itself takes place” (Address to the Roman Rota, January 30, 2003. 8). It is above all necessary in the present context to develop further reflections on this topic.

2. The contemporary culture, marked by an accentuated ethical and religious subjectivism, places the person and the family before pressing challenges. In the first place it places them before the question about the capacity of man to bind himself, and, if it is a bond that lasts his whole life, whether it is truly possible and corresponds to human nature, or, rather, whether it is not contrary to his freedom and self-realization. It is a part of a widespread mentality, in fact, to think that the person becomes himself remaining “autonomous” and entering into contact with the other only through relations that can be broken at any time (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, December 21, 2012). No one can fail to see that the decision of the human being to bind himself in a life-long relationship is influenced by each person’s fundamental perspective according as it is anchored at a merely human level or opens to the light of faith in the Lord.

Only in opening ourselves up to the truth of God is it possible to understand the truth of man as his son, reborn in Baptism and to realize this in the concreteness of conjugal and family life. “Whoever abides in me and I in him bears much fruit because without me you can do nothing” (John 15:5): this is what Jesus taught his disciples, reminding them of the substantial human incapacity to do alone what is required to achieve the true good. A rejection of the divine perspective leads to a profound imbalance in all human relationships (cf. Address to the International Theological Commission, December 8, 2012), including marriage, and facilitates an erroneous understanding of freedom and self-realization that, combined with the flight from the patient endurance of suffering, condemns man to being shut up in his egoism and egocentrism. On the other hand, the welcoming of faith makes man capable of the gift of self. Only in “opening himself to the other, to others, to children, to the family, only by letting himself be changed through suffering, does he discover the breadth of his humanity” (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, December 21, 2012).

Faith in God, sustained by divine grace, is therefore a very important element for living mutual dedication and conjugal fidelity (General Audience, June 8, 2011). There is no intention by this statement to deny that fidelity is possible in natural marriage contracted by unbaptized persons. In fact, it is not deprived of the goods that “come from God the Creator and are included, in a certain inchoative way, in the marital love that unites Christ with his Church” (International Theological Commission, “Propositions on the Doctrine of Christian Marriage,” 1977. 3.4). Certainly, however, closure to God and the rejection of the sacral dimension of the conjugal union and its value in the order of grace make it difficult to incarnate concretely the high model of marriage conceived by the Church according to God’s plan, possibly threatening the validity itself of the pact – assumed by the consolidated jurisprudence of this Tribunal – if it is translated into a rejection in principle of the conjugal obligation of fidelity, that is, of the essential elements or properties of marriage.

Tertullian, in his celebrated Letter to Wives, speaking of a married life marked by faith, writes that Christian spouses “are truly two in one flesh, and where flesh is one, the spirit is one. They pray together, fall prostrate together and fast together; they teach other, honor each other, support each other” (Ad uxorem libri duo, II, IX: PL1, 1415B-1417A). St. Clement of Alexandria expresses himself in similar terms: “If, in fact, for both there is one God, then there is one teacher, Christ, there is one Church, one wisdom, one modesty, together they are nourished, matrimony unites them ... And if their life is in common, in common also are grace, slavation, virtue, the moral life” (Pædagogus, I, IV, 10.1: PG 8, 259B). The saints who lived the union of marriage and family from the Christian standpoint, were able to overcome even the most difficult situations, achieving their own sanctification and that of the children with a love always strengthened by firm trust in God, by a sincere religious piety and an intense sacramental life. Precisely these experiences, marked by faith, help us to understand, even today, how precious is the sacrifice made by the spouse who has been abandoned or who has suffered divorce if – recognizing the indisoluability of the valid marriatal bond – he or she succeeds in not “getting involved in a new relationship ... In that case the example of fidelity and Christian consistency assumes a special value of witness before the world and the Church” John Paul II, “Familiaris consortio,” 83).

3. Finally, I would like to reflect briefly on the “bonum coniugum” (the good of the spouses). Faith is important in the realization of the authentic conjugal good, which consists simply in always and in every case willing the good of the other in function of a real and indissoluable “consortium vitae” (sharing of life). In truth, in the project of the Christian spouese to live a real “communio coniugalis” (conjugal communion) there is a dynamism of faith for which the “confessio” (witness), the sincere personal response to the proclamation of salvation, involves the believer in the movement of God’s love. “Confessio” and “caritas” are “the two ways in which God involves us, makes us act with him, in him and for humanity, for his creation … ‘Confessio’ is not an abstract thing, it is ‘caritas,’ it is love. Only in this way is it really the reflection of divine truth, which as truth is also, inseparably, love” (Meditation During the First General Congregation of the VIII Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, October 8, 2012). Only through the flame of charity is the presence of the Gospel not a mere word but a lived reality. In other words, if it is true that “faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be a sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt,” we must conclude that “faith and charity each require the other, in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path” (“Porta fidei,” October 11, 2012. 14).

4. If this is true in the larger context of community life, it must be all the more true in the marital union. It is in it, in fact, that faith makes the love of the spouses grow and fructify, giving place to the presence of God the Trinity and making the conjugal life itself, lived in this way, “good news” for the world.

I recognize the difficulties from a juridical and practical point of view of a clarifying the essential element of the “conum coniugum,” prevalently understood up to this point in relation to the hypotheses of incapacity (cf. CIC, can. 1095). The “bonum coniugum” also assumes relevance in the sphere of the simulation of consent. Of course, in the cases brought before you, there will be the inquiry “in facto” to ascertain the possible legitimacy of this ground for nullity, prevalent or coexistent with another ground of the three Augustinian “goods,” procreativity, exclusivity and perpetuity. So we must not prescind from the consideration that there may be cases in which, precisely because of the absence of faith, the good of the spouses is compromised and thus excluded from the consent itself; for example, on the hypothesis of a subversion by one of them becaue of an erroneous conception of the marital bond, of the principle of parity, or on the the hypothesis of a rejection of the dual union that distinguishes the marital bond, in relationship with a possible coexistent exclusion of fidelity and of intercourse accomplished “humano modo” (in a human way).

Withthe present considerations, I certainly do not wish to suggest any facile automotism between lack of faith and the invalidity of the marital union, but rather to show how this lack can, though not necessarily, also harm the goods of marriage, from the moment that the reference to the natural order willed by God is inherent in the conjugal pact (cf. Genesis 2:24).

Dear brothers, I invoke the help of God for you and those in the Church who work to safeguard the truth and justice that regard the sacred bond of matrimony and, thereby, the Christian family. I entrust you to the protection of Mary Most Holy, Mother of Christ, and St. Joseph, Guardian of the Family of Nazareth, silent and obedient executor of the divine plan of salvation, as I glady impart to you and your loved ones the apostolic benediction.

 

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"The Christian vision of man is, in fact, a great 'yes' to the dignity of the person"

VATICAN CITY, January 20, 2013 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday when receiving in audience participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

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Dear friends,

I offer you my welcome with affection and joy on the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum. I thank the president, Cardinal Robert Sarah, for his words and I address my cordial greeting to each one of you, extending it to all those who do charitable work in the Church. With the recent motu proprio "Intima Ecclesiae natura" I wished to emphasize the ecclesial meaning of your activity. Your witness can open the doors of faith to many people who seek Christ's love. Thus, in this Year of Faith the theme "Charity, the New Ethics and Christian Anthropology," which you are taking up, reflects the close connection between love and truth, or, if you will, between faith and charity. The whole Christian ethos receives its meaning from faith as a "meeting" with the love of Christ, which offers a new horizon and impresses a decisive direction on life (cf. "Deus caritas est," 1). Christina love finds its basis and form in faith. Meeting God and experiencing his love, we learn "no longer to live for ourselves but for him and, with him, for others" (ibid. 33).

Beginning from this dynamic relationship between faith and charity, I would like to reflect on a point that I would call the prophetic dimension that faith instills in charity. The believer's adherence to the Gospel impresses on charity its typically Christian form and constitutes it as a principle of discernment. The Christian, especially those who work in charitable organizations, must let himself be oriented by principles of faith through which we adopt "God's perspective," we accept his plan for us (cf. "Deus caritas est," 1). This new way of looking at the world and man offered by faith also furnishes the correct criterion for the evaluation of expressions of charity in the present context.

In every age, when man did not try to follow this plan, he was victim of cultural temptations that ended up making him a slave. In recent centuries, the ideologies that praised the cult of the nation, the race, of the social class, showed themselves to be nothing but idolatry; and the same can be said of unbridled capitalism with its cult of profit, which has led to crisis, inequality and misery. There is a growing consensus today about the inalienable dignity of the human being and the reciprocal and interdependent responsibility toward man; and this is to the benefit of true civilization, the civilization of love. On the other hand, unfortunately, there are also shadows in our time that obscure God's plan. I am referring above all to a tragic anthropological reduction that re-proposes ancient material hedonism, to which is added a "technological prometheism." From the marriage of a materialistic vision of man and great technological development there emerges an anthropology that is at bottom atheistic. It presupposes that man is reduced to autonomous functions, the mind to the brain, human history to a destiny of self-realization. All of this prescinds from God, from the properly spiritual dimension and from a horizon beyond this world. In the perspective of a man deprived of his soul and of a personal relation with the Creator, that which is technologically possible becomes morally legitimate, every experiment is thus acceptable, every political demographic acceptable, every form of manipulation justified. The danger most to be feared in this current of thought is the absolutization of man: man wants to be "ab-solutus," absolved of every bond and of every natural constitution. He pretends to be independent and thinks that his happiness lies solely in the affirmation of self. "Man calls his nature into question … From now on there is only the abstract human being, who chooses for himself what his nature is to be" (Speech to the Roman Curia, December 21, 2012). This is a radical negation of man's creatureliness and filial condition, which leads to a tragic solitude.

The faith and healthy Christian discernment bring us therefore to pay prophetic attention to this problematic ethical situation and to the mentality that it supposes. Just collaboration with international organizations in the field of development and in human promotion must not make us close our eyes to these dangerous ideologies, and the Pastors of the Church – which is the "pillar and ground of the truth" (1 Timothy 3:15) – have a duty to warn both faithful Catholics and every person of good will and right reason about these deviations. This is a harmful deviation for man even if it is waved with good intentions as a banner of presumed progress, or of presumed rights, or of a presumed humanism. In the face of these anthropological reductions, what is the task of every Christian – and especially your task – involved in charitable work, and so in direct relations with many social protagonists? We certainly must exercise a critical vigilance and, sometimes, refuse money and collaboration that would, directly or indirectly, support actions and projects that run contrary to a Christian anthropology. But, positively speaking, the Church is always committed to the promotion of man according to God's plan, man in his integral dignity, with respect for his twofold vertical and horizontal dimension. The actions of ecclesial development organizations are also oriented in this direction. The Christian vision of man is, in fact, a great "yes" to the dignity of the person called to intimate communion with God, a filial communion, humble and confident. The human being is neither an individual subsisting in himself nor an anonymous element of the collective. He is rather a singular and unrepeatable person intrinsically ordered to relationship and sociality. For this reason the Church stresses her great "yes" to the dignity and beauty of marriage as an expression of a faithful and fecund alliance between man and woman, and says "no" to such philosophies as the philosophy of gender. The Church is guided by the fact that the reciprocity between man and woman is the expression of the beauty of the nature willed by the Creator.

Dear friends, I thank you for your commitment on behalf of man, in fidelity to his true dignity. In the face of these challenges of our times, we know that the answer is the encounter with Christ. In him man can fully realize his personal good and the common good. I encourage you to continue in your work with a joyful and generous spirit as I bestow upon you the Apostolic Benediction from my heart.

 

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Papal Address to Aid Groups for Eastern Churches
"Every effort should be made, including by the international community, to bring Syria out of the present situation of violence and crisis"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 21, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address today to members of the Committee of Aid Agencies for Eastern Churches (ROACO).

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Dear Cardinals, Your Beatitudes,

Venerable Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Members and friends of ROACO,

I am very happy to welcome and greet you in this regular gathering. I extend greetings to the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches and President of ROACO and I thank him for the kind words that he addressed to me. I also thank the Archbishop Secretary, the Under-Secretary, the other officials and all those present. I renew my gratitude to the institutions represented here, to the Churches from Europe and America that support them and to the many benefactors. I assure you of my prayers to the Lord, in the consoling certainty that he "loves a cheerful giver" (2 Cor 9:7).

Above all it is my hope that you will persevere in "that movement of charity which, by Papal mandate, the Congregation oversees, so that the Holy Land and other Eastern regions may receive material and spiritual support in an ordered and just way so as to meet the demands of their ordinary ecclesial life and other special needs" (Address to the Congregation for Eastern Churches, 9 June 2007). In these words I expressed myself five years ago while visiting the Dicastery for Eastern Churches and I now wish to reiterate firmly that same exhortation so as to underline the urgent needs of the present moment.

The present economic and social situation, all the more sensitive on account of its global dimensions, continues to create problems in economically developed areas of the world, and, more seriously, spills over into less affluent regions, seriously compromising their present and their future. The East, the motherland of ancient Christian traditions, is especially affected by this process, which engenders uncertainty and instability that also has an impact on the Church and in the ecumenical and interreligious fields. These factors tend to reopen the endemic wounds of history and they have a damaging effect on dialogue and peaceful cohabitation among peoples. They also weaken authentic respect for human rights, especially the right to personal and community religious freedom. This right should be guaranteed in its public profession, not only in terms of worship, but also in relation to the pastoral, educational, charitable and social activities that are indispensable for its effective exercise.

The representatives of the Holy Land, including the Apostolic Delegate Archbishop Antonio Franco, the Vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem and Father Custodian, all regular participants in ROACO, are joined this year by the two Major Archbishops, His Beatitude Cardinal George Alencherry of the SyroMalabar Church of India and His Beatitude Sviatoslav Shevchuk of the Greek Catholic Church of Ukraine. Also present are the Apostolic Nuncio to Syria, Archbishop Mario Zenari, and the Bishop President of Caritas Syria. This gives me the opportunity to open up the gaze of the Church of Rome to the universal dimension that is so deeply rooted and constitutes one of the essential marks of the mystery of the Church. It also gives me the opportunity to reaffirm my closeness to the sufferings of our brothers and sisters in Syria, especially innocent children and the defenceless. May our prayer, our commitment and our active brotherhood in Christ, as an oil of consolation, help them not to lose sight of the light of hope in this moment of darkness, and obtain from God wisdom of heart for all in positions of responsibility so that bloodshed and violence, that only bring pain and death, may cease and give way to reconciliation, harmony and peace. Every effort should be made, including by the international community, to bring Syria out of the present situation of violence and crisis, which has already lasted a long time and risks becoming a wider conflict that would have highly negative consequences for the country and the whole region. I also issue an urgent and heartfelt appeal, in view of the extreme need of the population, that the necessary humanitarian assistance be guaranteed, and extended to the many persons who have been forced to leave their homes, some of them becoming refugees in neighbouring countries. The precious gift of human life must always be defended.

Dear friends of ROACO, the Year of Faith, which I have instituted to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the inauguration of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, will offer fruitful suggestions to Aid to the Eastern Churches, that are a providential witness to what we read in the Word of God: that faith without works withers and dies (cf. Jas 2:17). May you always be eloquent signs of the charity that flows from the heart of Christ and presents the Church to the world in her true mission and identity by placing her at the service of God who is Love. Today in the Latin Rite we celebrate Saint Aloysius Gonzaga, whom I ask to sustain our thanksgiving to the Holy Spirit and to pray with us so that the Lord may also raise up in our days exemplary agents of charity towards others. May the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God always accompany the Eastern Churches in their homeland and in the diaspora, bringing them encouragement and hope for a renewed service to the Gospel. May she also watch over the coming journey which – God willing – I will make to Lebanon for the solemn closing of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I look forward to offering the Lebanese Church and Nation my paternal and fraternal embrace. In the meantime I am pleased to impart to your Organizations, to all present, to your dear ones, and to the communities entrusted to your care, my affectionate Apostolic Blessing.

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Pope's Address to Future Vatican Diplomats
"Faithfulness to Peter ... also gives rise to a special faithfulness towards those to whom you are sent"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 11, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. The academy prepares the priests who enter into the Vatican's diplomatic service.

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Dear Brother Bishop,
Dear Priests,

First of all, I thank Archbishop Beniamino Stella for the courteous words which he has addressed to me in the name of all present, and for the valued work that he carries out. With great affection I greet the entire community of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. I am pleased to receive you once again this year, as the academic year draws to a close and as, for some of you, the day is approaching when you will depart for service in Papal Representations throughout the world. The Pope also counts on you for assistance in fulfilling his universal ministry. I encourage you to be confident and to prepare diligently for the mission which awaits you, trusting in the faithfulness of the One who has known you from the beginning and has called you into communion with his Son, Jesus Christ (cf. 1 Cor 1:9).

God’s faithfulness is the key to, and the source of, our own faithfulness. I would like today to remind you of precisely this virtue, which well expresses the unique bond existing between the Pope and his direct collaborators, both in the Roman Curia and in the Papal Representations: for many, it is a bond grounded in the priestly character that they have received, which is then specified in the particular mission entrusted to each in the service of the Successor of Peter.

In the Bible, faithfulness is above all a divine attribute: God reveals himself as the one who remains ever faithful to his Covenant with his people, despite their unfaithfulness. As the Faithful One, God sees to the fulfilment of his loving plan; thus, he is trustworthy and true. His way of acting makes it possible in turn for men and women to be faithful. In our case, the virtue of faithfulness is profoundly linked to the supernatural gift of faith; it becomes the expression of that steadfastness proper to those who have made God the foundation of their entire lives. In faith we find the sole guarantee of our standing firm (cf. Is 7:9b); only on this foundation can we in turn be truly faithful: first to God, then to his family, the Church our Mother and Teacher, and within the Church to our own vocation, to the history in which the Lord has set us.

Dear friends, with this in mind, I encourage you to cultivate a personal bond with the Vicar of Christ as a part of your spirituality. Certainly, this is something which ought to apply to every Catholic, and even more to every priest. Yet for those who work in the Holy See, it is of particular importance, since they spend much of their energy, their time and their daily ministry in the service of the Successor of Peter. This entails a serious responsibility, but also a special gift which as time goes on should make you grow in closeness to the Pope, a closeness marked by interior trust, a natural idem sentire, which is exactly expressed by the word "faithfulness".

Faithfulness to Peter, who sends you forth, also gives rise to a special faithfulness towards those to whom you are sent. The Representatives of the Roman Pontiff and their collaborators are called upon to interpret his solicitude for all the Churches, as well as the affectionate concern with which he follows the journey of each people. You should therefore cultivate a relationship of profound esteem and benevolence, and indeed true friendship, towards the Churches and the communities to which you will be sent. You are also bound to faithfulness in their regard, a faithfulness concretely manifested each day by your diligence and devotion to your work, by your presence among them at moments of joy, sadness and even tragedy, by your coming to know their culture, their journey as a Church, and by your appreciation of all that God’s grace has accomplished in every people and nation.

This represents a valuable contribution to the Petrine ministry, about which the Servant of God Paul VI once said: "By entrusting to his Vicar the power of the keys and by making him the rock and foundation of his Church, the Eternal Pastor also gave him the mandate to ‘confirm his brethren’: he does this not only by leading them and keeping them united in his name, but also by supporting and comforting them, certainly by his words, but also in some way by his presence" (Apostolic Letter Sollicitudo Omnium Ecclesiarum, 24 June 1969: AAS 61 (1969), 473-474).

Thus you will also encourage and help the particular Churches to grow in faithfulness to the Roman Pontiff and to find in the principle of communion with the universal Church a sure direction for their own pilgrimage through history. Not least, you will also help the Successor of Peter to be faithful to the mission he has received from Christ, enabling him to know better the flock entrusted to his care and to be present to it more effectively by his words, his closeness, his affection. Here I can only mention with gratitude the assistance that I receive every day from my many collaborators in the Roman Curia and in Papal Representations, as well as the support that comes to me from the prayers of countless brothers and sisters worldwide.

Dear friends, to the extent that you are faithful, you will also be worthy of faith. We know too that the faithfulness proper to the Church and to the Holy See is no "blind" loyalty, for it is enlightened by our faith in the One who said: "You are Peter, and on on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16:18). Let us all be committed to following this path, so that one day we may hear the words of the Gospel parable: "Good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of your master" (cf. Mt 25:21).

With these sentiments, I renew my greeting to Archbishop Stella and his collaborators, to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Child Jesus, and to the entire community of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, and I cordially impart my blessing.

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Papal Greeting to Cardinals
"I feel safe in this company of great friends, who are with me and all together with the Lord"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2012 - Here is a translation of the short greeting Benedict XVI gave the cardinals after he lunched with them Monday. The lunch was an expression of appreciation for congratulations received last month for the Pope's 85th birthday (April 16) and seventh anniversary of election to the See of Peter (April 19).

* * *

Eminence,

Dear Brothers,

At this moment my word can be only a word of gratitude. Gratitude first of all to the Lord for the many years he has given me; years with so many days of joy, splendid times, but also dark nights. However, in retrospect one understands even the nights were necessary and good, a motive for gratitude.

Today the word ecclesia militans is somewhat out of fashion, but in reality we can understand ever better that it is true, that it bears truth in itself. We see how evil wishes to dominate the world and that it is necessary to enter into battle with evil. We see how it does so in so many ways, bloody, with the different forms of violence, but also masked with goodness and precisely this way destroying the moral foundations of society.

Saint Augustine said that the whole of history is a struggle between two loves: love of oneself to contempt of God; love of God to contempt of self, in martyrdom. We are in this struggle and in this struggle it is very important to have friends. And, in my own case, I am surrounded by the friends of the College of Cardinals: they are my friends and I feel at home, I feel safe in this company of great friends, who are with me and all together with the Lord.

Thank you for this friendship. Thank you, Eminence, for all that you have done for this moment today and for all that you do always. Thank you for the communion of joys and sorrows. Let’s go forward, the Lord said: courage, I have overcome the world. We are in the Lord’s squad, hence in the victorious squad. Thanks to you all. May the Lord bless you all. And let’s toast.

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Papal Address to Directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works
"Your work of missionary animation and formation is part of the soul of pastoral care"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2012.- Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave today to directors of the Pontifical Missionary Works.

* * *

Lord Cardinal,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I address to you all my cordial greeting, beginning with the Lord Cardinal Fernando Filoni, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, whom I thank for his kind expressions and for the information about the activity of the Pontifical Missionary Works. I extend my grateful thought to the Secretary, Monsignor Savio Hon Tai-Fai, to the Assistant Secretary, Monsignor Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, President of the Pontifical Missionary Works, to the National Directors and to all the collaborators, as well as to those who give their generous service in the Dicastery. My thoughts and those of all of you go at this time to Father Massimo Cenci, Under-Secretary, who died suddenly. May the Lord reward him for all the work he carried out on mission and at the service of the Holy See.

Today’s meeting takes place in the context of the annual Assembly of the Higher Council of the Pontifical Missionary Works, to which is entrusted the missionary cooperation of all the Churches worldwide.

The evangelization, which always has a character of urgency, in these times drives the Church to step with an even faster pace on the roads of the world, to bring every man to knowledge of Christ. In fact only in the Truth, which is Christ himself, can humanity discover the meaning of its existence, find salvation, and grow in justice and peace. Every man and every people has a right to receive the Gospel of truth. In this perspective, your commitment to celebrate the Year of Faith, now imminent, takes on a particular meaning: to reinforce the commitment to spread the Kingdom of God and knowledge of the Christian faith. On the part of those who have already encountered Jesus Christ, this calls for “an authentic and renewed conversion to the Lord, the one Saviour of the world.” (Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei,6). The Christian communities “need to hear anew the voice of the Bridegroom, who invites them to conversion, spurs them on to bold new undertakings and calls forth their commitment to the great task of the “new evangelization”. (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa,23). Jesus, the incarnate Word, is always the center of the proclamation, the point of reference for the following and for the methodology itself of the evangelizing mission, because He is the human face of God who wishes to encounter every man and every woman to make them enter into communion with Him, in his love. To go through the roads of the world to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples of the earth and to guide them to the encounter with the Lord (cf. Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, 7), calls then for the herald to have a personal and daily relationship with Christ, that he know Him and love Him profoundly.

The mission today needs renewal of trust in God’s action; it needs more intense prayer so that his Kingdom will come, so that his will is done on earth as it is in Heaven. It is necessary to invoke the light and strength of the Holy Spirit, and to commit oneself with determination and generosity to inaugurate, in a certain sense, a “new era of proclamation of the Gospel is essential not only because, after two millennia, a major part of the human family still does not acknowledge Christ, but also because the situation in which the Church and the world find themselves [...] is particularly challenging for religious belief” (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Asia, 29). Hence, I am very happy to encourage the project of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and of the Pontifical Missionary Works, in support of the Year of Faith. This project foresees a worldwide campaign that, through the prayer of the Holy Rosary, will accompany the work of evangelization in the world and for many of the baptized the rediscovery and deepening of the faith.

Dear friends, you know well that the proclamation of the Gospel not infrequently entails difficulties and sufferings; in fact, the growth of the Kingdom of God in the world not rarely comes at the price of the blood of its servants. In this phase of economic, cultural and political changes, where often the human being feels alone, a prey to anguish and despair, the messengers of the Gospel, also if they are heralds of hope and peace, continue to be persecuted like their Teacher and Lord. However, despite the problems and the tragic reality of persecution, the Church is not discouraged, she remains faithful to her Lord’s mandate, in the awareness that “throughout Christian history, martyrs, that is, "witnesses," have always been numerous and indispensable to the spread of the Gospel” (John Paul II,Redemptoris missio, 45). Christ’s message, today as yesterday, cannot adapt itself to the logic of this world, because it is prophecy and liberation, it is seed of a new humanity that grows, and only at the end of time will have its full realization.

Entrusted to you, in a particular way, is the task of supporting the ministers of the Gospel, helping them to “preserve the delightful and comforting joy of evangelizing, even when it is in tears that we must sow.” (Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, 80). Your particular commitment is also that of keeping alive the missionary vocation of all the disciples of Christ, so that each one, according to the charism received from the Holy Spirit, is able to take part in the universal mission consigned by the Risen One to his Church. Your work of missionary animation and formation is part of the soul of pastoral care, because the missio ad gentes constitutes the paradigm of the whole apostolic action of the Church. Be increasingly the visible and concrete expression of the communion of persons and of the means between the Churches that, as communicating vessels, live the same missionary vocation and tension, and in every corner of the earth work to sow the Word of Truth in all peoples and cultures. I am certain that you will continue to be committed, so that the local Churches assume, ever more generously, their part of responsibility in the universal mission of the Church.

May the Virgin Most Holy, Queen of the Missions accompany you and sustain your every effort in promoting missionary awareness and collaboration. With this hope, which I always have present in my prayer, I thank you and all those who cooperate in the cause of evangelization, and I impart to each from my heart the Apostolic Blessing.

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Pope's Address to New Swiss Guards
"In order to show love to ones brethren, it is necessary to draw it from the furnace of divine charity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2012.- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received in audience the 26 new Swiss Guards who on Sunday took their oaths at their swearing-in ceremony.

* * *

Lord Commandant,

Reverend Chaplain,

Dear Officers and Members of the Swiss Guard,

Distinguished Guests,

Dear brothers and sisters!

I wish to extend my cordial greetings to you all. In particular, I wish to welcome the recruits, who today are surrounded by their parents, relatives and friends; I also wish to welcome representatives of the Swiss Civil Authority, who have come for this joyous occasion. You, dear Guards, have the privilege of working for several years in the heart of Christianity and of living in the “Eternal City.” Your family and loved ones, and all who have wished to share with you in these festive days, have combined their participation in the swearing-in ceremony with a pilgrimage to the Tombs of the Apostles. It is my hope that, here in Rome, all of you will have a unique experience of the universality of the Church and a strengthening and deepening of faith, especially through moments of prayer and through the meetings that characterize these days.

The roles that the Swiss Guard carries out constitute a direct service to the Supreme Pontiff and to the Apostolic See. The fact that young men choose to consecrate several years of their lives in total availability to the Successor of Peter and to his co-workers is therefore reason for deep appreciation. Your work follows the path of an unquestioned fidelity to the Pope, which became heroic during the “Sack of Rome” of 1527, when on the 6th of May your predecessors sacrificed their lives. The Swiss Guard special service could not have been accomplished then, nor could it be accomplished today in the absence of those features that distinguish every component of the Corps: steadfastness in the Catholic faith, fidelity and love for the Church of Jesus Christ, diligence and perseverance in daily tasks small and great, courage and humility, altruism and availability. These virtues must fill your hearts as you lend your service of honor and security at the Vatican.

Be attentive to one another, in order to support one another in daily work and to edify one another; and preserve a manner of evangelical charity toward those with whom you come in contact each day. In sacred Scripture, the call to the love of neighbor is tied to the commandment to love God with all one’s heart, with all one’s soul and with all one’s strength (cf. Mark 12:29-31). In order to show love to one’s brethren, it is necessary to draw it from the furnace of divine charity, thanks to prolonged periods of prayer, to constant listening to the Word of God, and to a life wholly centered on the mystery of the Eucharist.

The secret efficacy of your work here in the Vatican, as well as of your every endeavor, is therefore constant reference to Christ. This is also the witness of not a few of your predecessors, who distinguished themselves not only by the manner in which they carried out their work, but also by their commitment to living a Christian life. Some were called to follow the Lord along the way of the priesthood and the consecrated life, and they responded with promptness and enthusiasm. Others have happily crowned a vocation to the married life with the Sacrament of Matrimony. I give thanks to God, the source of all good, for the various gifts and missions he entrusts to you, and I pray that you, too, who are now beginning your service, may respond fully to the call of Christ by following him with faithful generosity.

Dear friends! Profit by the time you spend here in Rome to grow in friendship with Christ, to increasingly love his Church and to advance toward the goal of every true Christian life: holiness.

May the Virgin Mary, whom we honor in a special way during the month of May, help you to experience ever more each day that profound communion with God, which for we who believe begins on earth and will be brought to completion in Heaven. We are called, in fact, as St. Paul reminds us, to be “fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). With these sentiments, I assure you of my constant remembrance of you in prayer and I warmly impart to each one of you the Apostolic Blessing.


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Pontiff's Address to Social Sciences Academy
"The notion of forgiveness needs to find its way into international discourse on conflict resolution"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2012 .- Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, gathered in their 18th plenary assembly, focused on the theme "The Global Quest for Tranquillitatis Ordinis. Pacem in terris, Fifty Years Later."

* * *

I am pleased to greet you and all who have gathered in Rome for the Eighteenth Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. You have chosen to mark the fiftieth anniversary of Blessed John XXIII’s Encyclical Letter Pacem in Terris by studying the contribution of this important document to the Church’s social doctrine. At the height of the Cold War, when the world was still coming to terms with the threat posed by the existence and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, Pope John addressed what has been described as an "open letter to the world". It was a heartfelt appeal from a great pastor, nearing the end of his life, for the cause of peace and justice to be vigorously promoted at every level of society, nationally and internationally. While the global political landscape has changed significantly in the intervening half-century, the vision offered by Pope John still has much to teach us as we struggle to face the new challenges for peace and justice in the post-Cold-War era, amid the continuing proliferation of armaments.

"The world will never be the dwelling-place of peace, till peace has found a home in the heart of each and every human person, till all preserve within themselves the order ordained by God to be preserved" (Pacem in Terris, 165). At the heart of the Church’s social doctrine is the anthropology which recognizes in the human creature the image of the Creator, endowed with intelligence and freedom, capable of knowing and loving. Peace and justice are fruits of the right order that is inscribed within creation itself, written on human hearts (cf. Rom 2:15) and therefore accessible to all people of good will, all "pilgrims of truth and of peace". Pope John’s Encyclical was and is a powerful summons to engage in that creative dialogue between the Church and the world, between believers and non-believers, which the Second Vatican Council set out to promote. It offers a thoroughly Christian vision of man’s place in the cosmos, confident that in so doing it is holding out a message of hope to a world that is hungry for it, a message that can resonate with people of all beliefs and none, because its truth is accessible to all.

In that same spirit, after the terrorist attacks that shook the world in September 2001, Blessed John Paul II insisted that there can be "no peace without justice, no justice without forgiveness" (Message for the 2002 World Day of Peace). The notion of forgiveness needs to find its way into international discourse on conflict resolution, so as to transform the sterile language of mutual recrimination which leads nowhere. If the human creature is made in the image of God, a God of justice who is "rich in mercy" (Eph 2:4), then these qualities need to be reflected in the conduct of human affairs. It is the combination of justice and forgiveness, of justice and grace, which lies at the heart of the divine response to human wrong-doing (cf. Spe Salvi, 44), at the heart, in other words, of the "divinely established order" (Pacem in Terris, 1). Forgiveness is not a denial of wrong-doing, but a participation in the healing and transforming love of God which reconciles and restores.

How eloquent, then, was the choice of theme for the 2009 Special Assembly for Africa of the Synod of Bishops: "The Church in Africa at the Service of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace". The life-giving message of the Gospel has brought hope to millions of Africans, helping them to rise above the sufferings inflicted on them by repressive regimes and fratricidal conflicts. Similarly, the 2010 Assembly on the Church in the Middle East highlighted the themes of communion and witness, the oneness of mind and soul that characterizes those who set out to follow the light of truth. Historic wrongs and injustices can only be overcome if men and women are inspired by a message of healing and hope, a message that offers a way forward, out of the impasse that so often locks people and nations into a vicious circle of violence. Since 1963, some of the conflicts that seemed insoluble at the time have passed into history. Let us take heart, then, as we struggle for peace and justice in the world today, confident that our common pursuit of the divinely established order, of a world where the dignity of every human person is accorded the respect that is due, can and will bear fruit.

I commend your deliberations to the maternal guidance of Our Lady, Queen of Peace. To you, to Bishop Sánchez Sorondo, and to all the participants in the XVIII Plenary Session, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 27 April 2012

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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Papal Message to Tourism Conference
"Traveling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2012 .- Here is a Vatican translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the 7th world congress on pastoral ministry in tourism. The event began today in Cancun, Mexico.

* * *

To my Venerable Brothers

His Eminence Cardinal Antonio Maria Vegliò, President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People,

and the Most Reverend Pedro Pablo Elizondo Cárdenas, Prelate-Bishop of Cancún-Chetumal

On the occasion of the VII World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Tourism which will take place in Cancún (Mexico) from 23 to 27 April, I am pleased to send you my cordial greeting which I extend to my Brother Bishops and to all those taking part in this important meeting. As you begin these days of reflection on the pastoral attention which the Church dedicates to the area of tourism, I wish to convey my spiritual closeness to the participants and my respectful greetings to the civil authorities and to the representatives of the international organizations that are also present at this event.

Tourism is certainly a phenomenon characteristic of our times, due both to the important dimensions that it has already achieved and in view of its potential for future growth. Like other human realities, it is called to be enlightened and transformed by the Word of God. For this reason, moved by pastoral solicitude and in view of the important influence tourism has on the human person, the Church has accompanied it from its first beginnings, encouraging its potential while at the same time pointing out, and striving to correct, its risks and deviations.

Tourism, together with vacations and free time, is a privileged occasion for physical and spiritual renewal; it facilitates the coming together of people from different cultural backgrounds and offers the opportunity of drawing close to nature and hence opening the way to listening and contemplation, tolerance and peace, dialogue and harmony in the midst of diversity.

Travelling reflects our being as homo viator; at the same time it evokes that other deeper and more meaningful journey that we are called to follow and which leads to our encounter with God. Travelling, which offers us the possibility of admiring the beauty of peoples, cultures and nature, can lead to God and be the occasion of an experience of faith, "for from the greatness and beauty of created things comes a corresponding perception of their Creator" (Wis 13:5). On the other hand tourism, like every human reality, is not exempt from dangers or negative dimensions. We refer to evils that must be dealt with urgently since they trample upon the rights of millions of men and women, especially among the poor, minors and handicapped. Sexual tourism is one of the most abject of these deviations that devastate morally, psychologically and physically the life of so many persons and families, and sometimes whole communities. The trafficking of human beings for sexual exploitation or organ harvesting as well as the exploitation of minors, abandoned into the hands of individuals without scruples and undergoing abuse and torture, sadly happen often in the context of tourism. This should bring all who are engaged for pastoral reasons or who work in the field of tourism, and the whole international community, to increase their vigilance and to foresee and oppose such aberrations.

In the Encyclical Letter Caritas in Veritate, I chose to situate the reality of international tourism in the context of integral human development. "We need, therefore, to develop a different type of tourism that has the ability to promote genuine mutual understanding, without taking away from the element of rest and healthy recreation" (no. 61). May your Congress, meeting precisely under the banner A tourism that makes a difference, contribute to the development of a pastoral approach that will lead steadily to that "different type of tourism".

I would like to highlight three areas which should receive full attention from the pastoral care of tourism. Firstly, we need shed light on this reality using the social teaching of the Church and promote a culture of ethical and responsible tourism, in such a way that it will respect the dignity of persons and of peoples, be open to all, be just, sustainable and ecological. The enjoyment of free time and regular vacations are an opportunity as well as a right. The Church, within its own sphere of competence, is committed to continue offering its cooperation, so that this right will become a reality for all people, especially for less fortunate communities.

Secondly, our pastoral action should never loose sight of the via pulchritudinis, "the way of beauty". Many of the manifestations of the historical and cultural religious patrimony are "authentic ways to God, Supreme Beauty; indeed they help us to grow in our relationship with him, in prayer. These are works that arise from faith and express faith" (General Audience, 31 August 2011). It is important to welcome tourists and offer them well-organized visits, with due respect for sacred places and the liturgical action, for which many of these works came into being and which continues to be their main purpose.

Thirdly, pastoral activity in the area of tourism should care for Christians as they enjoy their vacations and free time in such a way that these will contribute to their human and spiritual growth. Truly this is "an appropriate moment to let the body relax and to nourish the spirit with more time for prayer and meditation, in order to grow in personal relationship with Christ and become ever more conformed to his teachings" (Angelus, 15 July 2007).

The new evangelization, to which all are called, requires us to keep in mind and to make good use of the many occasions that tourism offers us to put forward Christ as the supreme response to modern man’s fundamental questions.

I therefore encourage you to ensure that pastoral activity in the field of tourism is integrated, as it ought in all justice, as part of the organic, ordinary pastoral activity of the Church. In this way, by the coordination of projects and efforts, we will respond in greater fidelity to the Lord’s missionary mandate.

With these sentiments, I entrust the fruits of this Congress to the powerful intercession of the Mary Most Holy under the title of Our Lady of Guadalupe and, as a pledge of abundant divine favours, I cordially impart to all present the requested Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, April 18th 2012

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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Papal Message to Biblical Commission
"The Word of God is not confined to what is written"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2012 - Here is a translation of a message Benedict XVI addressed to the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

* * *

To the Venerable Brother

Cardinal William Levada

President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission

I am pleased to send you, Venerable Brother, to Cardinal Prosper Grech. O.S.A., to the Secretary and to all the Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission my cordial greeting on the occasion of the annual Plenary Assembly which is being held to address the important topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible.”

As we know, such a topic is essential for a correct hermeneutic of the biblical message. Precisely inspiration, as action of God, makes it possible to express the Word of God in human words. Consequently, the topic of inspiration is decisive for the appropriate approach to the Sacred Scriptures. In fact, an interpretation of the sacred texts that neglects or forgets their inspiration does not take into account their most important and precious characteristic, that is, their provenance from God. Moreover, in my Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Verbum Domini, I recalled that “The Synod Fathers also stressed the link between the theme of inspiration and that of the truth of the Scriptures. A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books.” (n. 19).

Because of the charism of inspiration, the books of Sacred Scripture have a direct and concrete force of appeal. However, the Word of God is not confined to what is written. If, in fact, the act of Revelation ended with the death of the last Apostle, the revealed Word has continued to be proclaimed and interpreted by the living Tradition of the Church. For this reason the Word of God fixed in the sacred texts is not an inert deposit inside the Church but becomes the supreme rule of her faith and power of life. The Tradition that draws its origin from the Apostles progresses with the assistance of the Holy Spirit and grows with the reflection and study of believers, with personal experience of the spiritual life and the preaching of Bishops (cf. Dei Verbum, 8, 21).

In studying the topic “Inspiration and Truth of the Bible,” the Pontifical Biblical Commission is called to offer its specific and qualified contribution to this necessary further reflection. In fact, it is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the sacred texts are interpreted in keeping with their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature. That is why your endeavor will be of real usefulness for the life and mission of the Church.

With good wishes to each one of you for the fruitful development of your works, I would like, finally, to express my heartfelt appreciation for the activity carried out by the Biblical Commission , committed to promoting knowledge, study and reception of the Word of God in the world. With such sentiments I entrust each one of you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who with the whole Church we invoke as Sedes Sapientiae, and I impart from my heart to you, Venerable Brother, and to all the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, April 18, 2012

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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Pope's Address to Life Academy on Infertility
"Where Science Cannot Find an Answer, the Answer That Brings Light Comes From Christ"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday when he received some 200 scientists and members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which is currently celebrating its 18th general assembly on the theme: "The diagnosis and treatment of infertility."

* * *

Lord Cardinals,

venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy to meet with you on the occasion of the XVIII General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I salute and thank all of you for your generous service in defense and on behalf of life, in particular, Monsignor Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, for the words that you spoke to me also on your behalf. The shape that you have given your work manifests that confidence that the Church has always placed in the possibility of human reason and in a scientific undertaking rigorously conducted, which always keep the moral aspect in view. The topic that you chose this year, "Diagnosis and Therapy of Infertility," besides being humanly and socially relevant, possesses a special scientific value and expresses the concrete possibility of a fruitful dialogue between ethics and biomedical research. With respect to the problem of a couple's infertility, in fact, you have chosen attentively to recall and to consider the moral dimension, researching paths toward a correct diagnostic evaluation and a therapy that corrects the causes of infertility. This approach is guided not only by the desire to give the couple a child but to restore to the couple their fertility and all of the dignity of being responsible for their procreative choices, of working together with God in the generation of a new human being. The pursuit of a diagnosis and of a therapy represents the most scientifically correct approach to the question of infertility, but also that which is most respectful of the integral humanity of the subjects involved. In fact, the union of the man and woman in that community of life that is matrimony constitutes the only dignified "place" in which a new human being, which is always a gift, may be called into existence.

Thus, it is my desire to encourage intellectual honesty in your work, which is the expression of a science that keeps the spirit of the pursuit of truth alive, in the service of man's authentic good, and that avoids the danger of being a merely functional practice. The human and Christian dignity of procreation, in fact, does not consist in a "product," but in its connection with the conjugal act, the expression of the love of the husband and wife, of their union that is not only biological but also spiritual. The instruction "Donum vitae" reminds us in this regard, that by its "intimate structure, the conjugal act, while most closely uniting husband and wife, capacitates them for the generation of new lives, according to laws inscribed in the very being of man and of woman" (n. 126). The legitimate parental aspirations of an infertile couple must, for this reason, with the help of science, find a response that fully respects their dignity as persons and spouses. The humility and precision with which you deal with these questions -- seen as obsolete by some of your colleagues fascinated by artificial fertility technologies -- merits encouragement and support. On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the encyclical "Fides et Ratio," I recalled how "easy gain or, worse still, the arrogance of taking the Creator's place, sometimes play a decisive role. This is a form of the hubris of reason, which can take on dangerous characteristics for humanity itself" (Discorso ai Partecipanti al Congresso Internazionale promosso dalla Pontificia Università Lateranense, October 2008: AAS 100 [2008], 788-789). Indeed, scientism and the logic of profit seem today to dominate the field of infertility and human procreation to the point of limiting other areas of research.

The Church pays much attention to the suffering of infertile couples, it cares for them and, because of this, encourages medical research. The science, nevertheless, is not always able to respond to the desires of many couples. I would like again to remind the spouses who experience infertility that their vocation to marriage is not frustrated because of this. The husband and wife, because of their baptismal and matrimonial vocations themselves, are always called to work together with God in creating a new humanity. The vocation to love, in fact, is a vocation to the gift of self and this is a possibility that cannot be impeded by any organic condition. Therefore, where science cannot find an answer, the answer that brings light comes from Christ.

I would like to encourage all of who have gathered here for these study days and who work in a medical and scientific context where the dimension of truth is often obscured: Continue to follow the path that you have taken of a science that is intellectually honest and that always ardently seeks the good of man. In your intellectual pursuits do not disdain dialogue with the faith. I address to you the anxious appeal of the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est": "if reason is to be exercised properly, it must undergo constant purification, since it can never be completely free of the danger of a certain ethical blindness [...] Faith enables reason to do its work more effectively and to see its proper object more clearly" (n. 28). On the other hand, it is precisely the cultural matrix created by Christianity -- rooted in the affirmation of the existence of Truth and of the intelligibility of the real in the light of the Supreme Truth -- that made the development of modern scientific reason possible in the Europe of the Middle Ages, a knowledge that in the previous cultures had not progressed beyond embryonic form.

Illustrious scientists and all of you members of the Academy committed as you are to the promotion of life and the dignity of the human person, keep always in view also the fundamental cultural role that you play in society and the influence that you have in forming public opinion. My predecessor, Blessed John Paul II observed that scientists, "precisely because they know more, are called to serve more" (Discorso alla Pontificia Accademia delle Scienze, November 11, 2002: AAS 95 [2003], 206). People trust you, who serve life, they trust in your commitment to helping those who are in need of comfort and hope. Never give into the temptation of reducing the good of persons to a mere technical problem! The indifference of conscience before the true and the good represents a dangerous threat to authentic scientific progress.

I would like to conclude renewing the greeting that the Second Vatican Council addressed to men of thought and science: "Happy are those who, possessing the truth, continue to seek it, to renew it, more deeply to understand it, to give it to others" (Messaggio agli uomini di pensiero e di scienza, 8 dicembre 1965: AAS 58 [1966], 12). It is with these wishes that I impart to all of you who are here and to your loved ones the Apostolic Blessing.

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Pope's Address on Receiving Peter's Pence
"Charitable Service Becomes a Privileged Form of Evangelization"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the "Circolo di San Pietro," who gave him, as they traditionally do every year, the "Peter's Pence" collection raised annually in parishes and religious institutes of the Diocese of Rome.

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Dear Members of St. Peter's Circle!

I am happy to receive you in this meeting which is taking place close to the feast of the Chair of St. Peter, a circumstance that offers you the occasion to manifest the particular fidelity to the Apostolic See that has always distinguished your meritorious Circle. I greet you all with heartfelt cordiality. I greet the General President, Duke Leopold Torlonia, thanking him for the affectionate and devoted words that he has addressed to me, interpreting all your sentiments, and I greet the ecclesiastical Assistant.

We have just begun our Lenten journey and, as I reminded in my recent Message (cf. L'Osservatore Romano, February 8, 2012, p. 8), this liturgical season invites us to reflect on the heart of the Christian life: charity. Lent is a propitious time so that, with the help of the Word of God and of the Sacraments, we are renewed in faith and love, both at the personal as well as the community level. It is a journey marked by prayer and sharing, by silence and fasting, in the hope of living the paschal joy. The Letter to the Hebrews exhorts with these words: "let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24).

Dear friends, today as yesterday, the testimony of faith touches men's hearts in a particular way; the New Evangelization, especially in a cosmopolitan city like Rome, requires great openness of spirit and wise availability to all. Well placed in this connection is the network of welfare interventions that you carry out every day in favor of all those who are in need. I am pleased to recall the generous work you do in the kitchens, in the night shelter, in the Family House, in the multi-functional Center, as well as your silent witness, that much more eloquent, however, as you give support to the sick and their relatives in the Fondazione Roma Hospice, not forgetting your missionary commitment in Laos and long-distance adoptions.

We know that the authenticity of our fidelity to the Gospel is also verified on the basis of the care and concrete solicitude that we manifest toward our neighbor, especially toward the weakest and marginalized. Care of the other entails desiring the good for him, under all aspects: physical, moral and spiritual. Even if contemporary culture seems to have lost the sense of good and evil, it is necessary to confirm forcefully that good exists and conquers. Hence responsibility toward one's neighbor means to wish and to do good to the other, desiring that he open himself to the logic of the good; to be interested in one's brother means to open one's eyes to his needs, overcoming the hardness of heart that renders one blind to the sufferings of others. In this way charitable service becomes a privileged form of evangelization, in the light of the teaching of Jesus, who will hold as if done to himself whatever we have done for our brothers, especially the one among them who is little and neglected (cf. Matthew 25:40). We must harmonize our heart with the heart of Christ, so that the loving support given to the other is translated into participation and conscious sharing of his sufferings and hopes, thus rendering visible on one hand the infinite mercy of God toward every man, which shines on the face of Christ, and on the other our faith in Him. The encounter with the other and the opening of our heart to his need are occasions of salvation and blessedness.

Dear members of Saint Peter's Circle, as every year you have come today to give me the offering for the Pope's charity, which you collected in the parishes of Rome. It represents a concrete help offered to the Successor of Peter, so that he can respond to the innumerable requests that come to him from all parts of the world, especially from poor countries. My heartfelt thanks for all the activity you carry out generously and with a spirit of sacrifice, which is born from your faith, from your relationship with the Lord cultivated every day. Faith, charity and witness continue to be the guidelines of your apostolate. And, then, how can we not remember your presence during the liturgical celebrations in St. Peter's Basilica? It turns that much more to your honor, in as much as with it you manifest the constant dedication and devoted fidelity that unite you to the See of the Apostle Peter. May the Lord give you merit and fill your Circle with blessings; may he help each one of you to realize your Christian vocation in the family, in your work and within your Association.

Dear friends, in renewing my appreciation for the service you render the Church, I entrust you, together with your families, to the maternal help of the Virgin Mary Salus Populi Romani and of the Saints your Protectors. On my part, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for you, for all who work by your side in the different initiatives and for those you meet in your daily apostolate, while I impart to all with affection a special Apostolic Blessing.

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Pope's Reflection During Consistory
"Serving God and Others, Self-Giving: This is the Logic Which Authentic Faith Imparts"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of the reflection Benedict XVI gave Saturday during the consistory during which 22 new cardinals were created.

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«Tu es Petrus, et super hanc petram aedificabo Ecclesiam meam»

Venerable Brothers,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

With these words the entrance hymn has led us into the solemn and evocative ritual of the ordinary public Consistory for the creation of new Cardinals, with the placing of the biretta, the handing over of the ring and the assigning of a titular church. They are the efficacious words with which Jesus constituted Peter as the solid foundation of the Church. On such a foundation the faith represents the qualitative factor: Simon becomes Peter – the Rock – in as much as he professed his faith in Jesus as Messiah and Son of God. In the proclamation of Christ the Church is bound to Peter and Peter is placed in the Church as a rock; although it is Christ himself who builds up the Church, Peter must always be a constitutive element of that upbuilding. He will always be such through faithfulness to his confession made at Caesarea Philippi, in virtue of the affirmation, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God".

The words Jesus addressed to Peter highlight well the ecclesial character of today’s event. The new Cardinals, in receiving the title of a church in this city or of a suburban Diocese, are fully inserted in the Church of Rome led by the Successor of Peter, in order to cooperate closely with him in governing the universal Church. These beloved Brothers, who in a few minutes’ time will enter and become part of the College of Cardinals, will be united with new and stronger bonds not only to the Roman Pontiff but also to the entire community of the faithful spread throughout the world. In carrying out their particular service in support of the Petrine ministry, the new Cardinals will be called to consider and evaluate the events, the problems and the pastoral criteria which concern the mission of the entire Church. In this delicate task, the life and the death of the Prince of the Apostles, who for love of Christ gave himself even unto the ultimate sacrifice, will be an example and a helpful witness of faith for the new Cardinals.

It is with this meaning that the placing of the red biretta is also to be understood. The new Cardinals are entrusted with the service of love: love for God, love for his Church, an absolute and unconditional love for his brothers and sisters, even unto shedding their blood, if necessary, as expressed in the words of placing the biretta and as indicated by the colour of their robes. Furthermore, they are asked to serve the Church with love and vigour, with the transparency and wisdom of teachers, with the energy and strength of shepherds, with the fidelity and courage of martyrs. They are to be eminent servants of the Church that finds in Peter the visible foundation of unity.

In the Gospel we have just heard proclaimed there is offered a model to imitate and to follow. Against the background of the third prediction of the Passion, death and resurrection of the Son of Man, and in profound contrast to it, is placed the scene of the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, who are still pursuing dreams of glory beside Jesus. They ask him, "Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory" (Mk 10:37). The response of Jesus is striking, and he asks an unexpected question: "You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink?" (Mk 10:38). The allusion is crystal clear: the chalice is that of the Passion, which Jesus accepts as the will of God. Serving God and others, self-giving: this is the logic which authentic faith imparts and develops in our daily lives and which is not the type of power and glory which belongs to this world.

By their request, James and John demonstrate that they do not understand the logic of the life to which Jesus witnesses, that logic which – according to the Master – must characterize the disciple in his spirit and in his actions. The erroneous logic is not the sole preserve of the two sons of Zebedee because, as the evangelist narrates, it also spreads to "the other ten" apostles who "began to be indignant at James and John" (Mk 10:41). They were indignant, because it is not easy to enter into the logic of the Gospel and to let go of power and glory. Saint John Chrysostom affirms that all of the apostles were imperfect, whether it was the two who wished to lift themselves above the other ten, or whether it was the ten who were jealous of them ("Commentary on Matthew", 65, 4: PG 58, 619-622). Commenting on the parallel passages in the Gospel of Luke, Saint Cyril of Alexandria adds, "The disciples had fallen into human weakness and were discussing among themselves which one would be the leader and superior to the others… This happened and is recounted for our advantage… What happened to the holy Apostles can be understood by us as an incentive to humility" ("Commentary on Luke", 12, 5, 24: PG 72, 912). This episode gives Jesus a way to address each of the disciples and "to call them to himself", almost to pull them in, to form them into one indivisible body with him, and to indicate which is the path to real glory, that of God: "You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (Mk 10:42-44).

Dominion and service, egoism and altruism, possession and gift, self-interest and gratuitousness: these profoundly contrasting approaches confront each other in every age and place. There is no doubt about the path chosen by Jesus: he does not merely indicate it with words to the disciples of then and of today, but he lives it in his own flesh. He explains, in fact, "For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mk 10:45). These words shed light upon today’s public Consistory with a particular intensity. They resound in the depths of the soul and represent an invitation and a reminder, a commission and an encouragement especially for you, dear and venerable Brothers who are about to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals.

According to biblical tradition, the Son of man is the one who receives power and dominion from God (cf. Dan 7:13f). Jesus interprets his mission on earth by combining the figure of the Son of man with that of the suffering Servant, described in Isaiah (cf. 53:1-12). He receives power and the glory only inasmuch as he is "servant"; but he is servant inasmuch as he welcomes within himself the fate of the suffering and the sin of all humanity. His service is realized in total faithfulness and complete responsibility towards mankind. In this way the free acceptance of his violent death becomes the price of freedom for many, it becomes the beginning and the foundation of the redemption of each person and of the entire human race.

Dear Brothers who are to be enrolled in the College of Cardinals, may Christ’s total gift of self on the Cross be for you the foundation, stimulus and strength of a faith operative in charity. May your mission in the Church and the world always be "in Christ" alone, responding to his logic and not that of the world, and may it be illumined by faith and animated by charity which comes to us from the glorious Cross of the Lord. On the ring which I will soon place on your finger, are represented Saints Peter and Paul, and in the middle a star which evokes the Mother of God. Wearing this ring, you are reminded each day to remember the witness which these two Apostles gave to Christ even unto martyrdom here in Rome, their blood making the Church fruitful. The example of the Virgin Mother will always be for you an invitation to follow her who was strong in faith and a humble servant of the Lord.

As I bring these brief reflections to a close, I would like to extend warm greetings and thanks to all present, especially to the official Delegations from various countries and to the various diocesan groups. The new Cardinals, in their service, are called to remain faithful to Christ at all times, letting themselves be guided only by his Gospel. Dear brothers and sisters, pray that their lives will always reflect the Lord Jesus, our sole shepherd and teacher, source of every hope, who points out the path to everyone. And pray also for me, that I may continually offer to the People of God the witness of sound doctrine and guide holy Church with a firm and humble hand.

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Pope's Homily Sunday With New Cardinals
"The Petrine Ministry Is Therefore a Primacy of Love in the Eucharistic Sense"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 20, 2012 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Sunday, at a Mass in St. Peter's with those elevated to the College of Cardinals on Saturday.

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Dear Cardinals,

Brother Bishops and Priests,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

On this solemnity of the Chair of Saint Peter, we have the joy of gathering around the altar of the Lord together with the new Cardinals whom yesterday I incorporated into the College of Cardinals. It is to them, first of all, that I offer my cordial greetings and I thank Cardinal Fernando Filoni for the gracious words he has addressed to me in the name of all. I extend my greetings to the other Cardinals and all the Bishops present, as well as to the distinguished authorities, ambassadors, priests, religious and all the faithful who have come from different parts of the world for this happy occasion, which is marked by a particular character of universality.

In the second reading that we have just heard, Saint Peter exhorts the "elders" of the Church to be zealous pastors, attentive to the flock of Christ (cf. 1 Pet 5:1-2). These words are addressed in the first instance to you, my dear venerable brothers, who have already shown great merit among the people of God through your wise and generous pastoral ministry in demanding dioceses, or through presiding over the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, or in your service to the Church through study and teaching. The new dignity that has been conferred upon you is intended to show appreciation for the faithful labour you have carried out in the Lord’s vineyard, to honour the communities and nations from which you come and which you represent so worthily in the Church, to invest you with new and more important ecclesial responsibilities and finally to ask of you an additional readiness to be of service to Christ and to the entire Christian community. This readiness to serve the Gospel is firmly founded upon the certitude of faith. We know that God is faithful to his promises and we await in hope the fulfilment of these words of Saint Peter: "And when the chief shepherd is manifested you will obtain the unfading crown of glory" (1 Pet 5:4).

Today’s Gospel passage presents Peter, under divine inspiration, expressing his own firm faith in Jesus as the Son of God and the promised Messiah. In response to this transparent profession of faith, which Peter makes in the name of the other Apostles as well, Christ reveals to him the mission he intends to entrust to him, namely that of being the "rock", the visible foundation on which the entire spiritual edifice of the Church is built (cf. Mt 16:16-19). This new name of "rock" is not a reference to Peter’s personal character, but can be understood only on the basis of a deeper aspect, a mystery: through the office that Jesus confers upon him, Simon Peter will become something that, in terms of "flesh and blood", he is not. The exegete Joachim Jeremias has shown that in the background, the symbolic language of "holy rock" is present. In this regard, it is helpful to consider a rabbinic text which states: "The Lord said, ‘How can I create the world, when these godless men will rise up in revolt against me?’ But when God saw that Abraham was to be born, he said, ‘Look, I have found a rock on which I can build and establish the world.’ Therefore he called Abraham a rock." The prophet Isaiah makes reference to this when he calls upon the people to "look to the rock from which you were hewn ... look to Abraham your father" (51:1-2). On account of his faith, Abraham, the father of believers, is seen as the rock that supports creation. Simon, the first to profess faith in Jesus as the Christ and the first witness of the resurrection, now, on the basis of his renewed faith, becomes the rock that is to prevail against the destructive forces of evil.

Dear brothers and sisters, this Gospel episode that has been proclaimed to us finds a further and more eloquent explanation in one of the most famous artistic treasures of this Vatican Basilica: the altar of the Chair. After passing through the magnificent central nave, and continuing past the transepts, the pilgrim arrives in the apse and sees before him an enormous bronze throne that seems to hover in mid air, but in reality is supported by the four statues of great Fathers of the Church from East and West. And above the throne, surrounded by triumphant angels suspended in the air, the glory of the Holy Spirit shines through the oval window. What does this sculptural composition say to us, this product of Bernini’s genius? It represents a vision of the essence of the Church and the place within the Church of the Petrine Magisterium.

The window of the apse opens the Church towards the outside, towards the whole of creation, while the image of the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove shows God as the source of light. But there is also another aspect to point out: the Church herself is like a window, the place where God draws near to us, where he comes towards our world. The Church does not exist for her own sake, she is not the point of arrival, but she has to point upwards, beyond herself, to the realms above. The Church is truly herself to the extent that she allows the Other, with a capital "O", to shine through her – the One from whom she comes and to whom she leads. The Church is the place where God "reaches" us and where we "set off" towards him: she has the task of opening up, beyond itself, a world which tends to become enclosed within itself, the task of bringing to the world the light that comes from above, without which it would be uninhabitable.

The great bronze throne encloses a wooden chair from the ninth century, which was long thought to be Saint Peter’s own chair and was placed above this monumental altar because of its great symbolic value. It expresses the permanent presence of the Apostle in the Magisterium of his successors. Saint Peter’s chair, we could say, is the throne of truth which takes its origin from Christ’s commission after the confession at Caesarea Philippi. The magisterial chair also reminds us of the words spoken to Peter by the Lord during the Last Supper: "I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren" (Lk 22:32).

The chair of Peter evokes another memory: the famous expression from Saint Ignatius of Antioch’s letter to the Romans, where he says of the Church of Rome that she "presides in charity" (Salutation, PG 5, 801). In truth, presiding in faith is inseparably linked to presiding in love. Faith without love would no longer be an authentic Christian faith. But the words of Saint Ignatius have another much more concrete implication: the word "charity", in fact, was also used by the early Church to indicate the Eucharist. The Eucharist is theSacramentum caritatis Christi, through which Christ continues to draw us all to himself, as he did when raised up on the Cross (cf. Jn 12:32). Therefore, to "preside in charity" is to draw men and women into a eucharistic embrace – the embrace of Christ – which surpasses every barrier and every division, creating communion from all manner of differences. The Petrine ministry is therefore a primacy of love in the eucharistic sense, that is to say solicitude for the universal communion of the Church in Christ. And the Eucharist is the shape and the measure of this communion, a guarantee that it will remain faithful to the criterion of the tradition of the faith.

The great Chair is supported by the Fathers of the Church. The two Eastern masters, Saint John Chrysostom and Saint Athanasius, together with the Latins, Saint Ambrose and Saint Augustine, represent the whole of the tradition, and hence the richness of expression of the true faith of the holy and one Church. This aspect of the altar teaches us that love rests upon faith. Love collapses if man no longer trusts in God and disobeys him. Everything in the Church rests upon faith: the sacraments, the liturgy, evangelization, charity. Likewise the law and the Church’s authority rest upon faith. The Church is not self-regulating, she does not determine her own structure but receives it from the word of God, to which she listens in faith as she seeks to understand it and to live it. Within the ecclesial community, the Fathers of the Church fulfil the function of guaranteeing fidelity to sacred Scripture. They ensure that the Church receives reliable and solid exegesis, capable of forming with the Chair of Peter a stable and consistent whole. The sacred Scriptures, authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium in the light of the Fathers, shed light upon the Church’s journey through time, providing her with a stable foundation amid the vicissitudes of history.

After considering the various elements of the altar of the Chair, let us take a look at it in its entirety. We see that it is characterized by a twofold movement: ascending and descending. This is the reciprocity between faith and love. The Chair is placed in a prominent position in this place, because this is where Saint Peter’s tomb is located, but this too tends towards the love of God. Indeed, faith is oriented towards love. A selfish faith would be an unreal faith. Whoever believes in Jesus Christ and enters into the dynamic of love that finds its source in the Eucharist, discovers true joy and becomes capable in turn of living according to the logic of this gift. True faith is illumined by love and leads towards love, leads on high, just as the altar of the Chair points upwards towards the luminous window, the glory of the Holy Spirit, which constitutes the true focus for the pilgrim’s gaze as he crosses the threshold of the Vatican Basilica. That window is given great prominence by the triumphant angels and the great golden rays, with a sense of overflowing fulness that expresses the richness of communion with God. God is not isolation, but glorious and joyful love, spreading outwards and radiant with light.

Dear brothers and sisters, the gift of this love has been entrusted to us, to every Christian. It is a gift to be passed on to others, through the witness of our lives. This is your task in particular, dear brother Cardinals: to bear witness to the joy of Christ’s love. We now entrust your ecclesial service to the Virgin Mary, who was present among the apostolic community as they gathered in prayer, waiting for the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 1:14). May she, Mother of the Incarnate Word, protect the Church’s path, support the work of the pastors by her intercession and take under her mantle the entire College of Cardinals. Amen!

© Copyright 2012 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Pope's Address to Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith
"The Center of True Ecumenism Is ... the Faith in Which Man Encounters the Truth"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2012 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday at the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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Lord Cardinals,

venerable brothers in the episcopate and priesthood,

dear brothers and sisters!

It is always a joy for me to meet with you on the occasion of your plenary session and to express my appreciation for the service that you undertake for the Church and especially for the Successor of Peter in his office of confirming the brethren in faith (cf. Luke 22:32). I thank Cardinal Levada for his cordial address of greeting in which he recalled some important tasks discharged by the dicastery in recent years. And I am particularly grateful to the Congregation for its work with the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization in preparing the Year of Faith, recognizing in it a propitious moment for re-proposing to all the gift of faith in the risen Christ, the luminous teaching of Vatican Council II and the precious doctrinal synthesis offered by the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

As we know, in vast areas of the world the faith is in danger of being extinguished, like a flame that has lost its fuel. We are facing a profound crisis of faith, a loss of the religious sense, that constitutes the Church's greatest challenge today. The renewal of faith, then, must be the priority in the work of the whole Church in our time. It is my wish that the Year of Faith contribute, with the cordial collaboration of all of the People of God, to making God present again in this world and to opening to men the way to faith, to entrusting themselves to that God who loved us to the end (cf. John 13:1), in Jesus Christ crucified and risen. The theme of the unity of Christians is closely connected to this task. I would therefore like to reflect on some doctrinal aspects that regard the Church's ecumenical path, which has been the object of deep reflection during this plenary session, coinciding with the conclusion of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. In fact, the spirit of ecumenical work must begin with that "spiritual ecumenism," with that "soul of the whole ecumenical movement" ("Unitatis redintegratio," 8), which is found in the spirit of prayer that "all may be one" (John 17:21).

The consistency of the ecumenical task with the teaching of Vatican II and with the whole tradition has been one of the areas to which the Congregation, in collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, has given its attention. Today we can observe that many good fruits have been produced from ecumenical dialogues but we must also note that the risk of a false irenicism and of an indifferentism, that is completely alien to the mind of Vatican II, require our vigilance. This indifferentism is caused by the opinion, which continues to spread, that truth is not accessible to man and that it is thus necessary to limit ourselves to finding rules for a praxis that would be capable of improving the world. And in this way the faith would be replaced by a moralism without any deep foundation. The center of true ecumenism is instead the faith in which man encounters the truth that is revealed in the Word of God. Without the faith the whole ecumenical movement would be reduced to a form of "social contract" that is agreed to because of a common interest, a "praxeology" aimed at creating a better world. The logic of Vatican II is completely different: the pursuit of the complete unity of Christians is a dynamism animated by the Word of God, by the divine Truth that speaks to us in this Word.

The crucial problem, which cuts across ecumenical dialogues, is therefore the question of the structure of revelation -- the relation between sacred Scripture, the living Tradition of the Church and the office of the successors of the Apostles as witness to the true faith: and here the theme of ecclesiology, which is a part of this issue, is implicit: how God's truth reaches us. The discernment between Tradition with a capital "T" and traditions, among other things, is fundamental here. I do not wish to enter into details but only to make an observation. An important step in such a discernment was accomplished in the preparation and application of provisions for groups of faithful coming from Anglicanism, who desire to enter into full communion with the Church, into the unity of the common and essential divine Tradition, maintaining their own spiritual, liturgical and pastoral traditions, which are in conformity with the Catholic faith (cf. "Anglicanorum coetibus," art. III). There exists, in fact, a spiritual richness in the different Christian confessions, which is the expression of the one faith and a gift to share and discover together in the Tradition of the Church.

Today, then, one of the fundamental questions has to do with the problem of the appropriate methods in various ecumenical dialogues. These too must reflect the priority of faith. Knowing the truth is the right of every interlocutor in true dialogue. It is the demand of charity itself for our brother. In this sense, it is necessary even to face controversial questions and to do so with courage, always in the spirit of fraternity and reciprocal respect. It is important, moreover, to offer a correct interpretation of that "order or 'hierarchy' of truths in Catholic doctrine" spoken of by the decree "Unitatis redintegratio" (n. 11), which does not in any way mean reducing the deposit of faith, but making its internal organic structure emerge. The study documents produced by various ecumenical dialogues also have great relevance. Such texts cannot be ignored since they constitute an important fruit, even if provisional, of common reflection that has developed over the years. Nonetheless, their proper significance must be recognized as contributions offered to the competent Authority of the Church, who alone is called to judge them in a definitive way. To ascribe to such texts a binding or almost conclusive weight in thorny questions of dialogue without the necessary evaluation by the ecclesial Authority would, in the final analysis, not help the path toward full unity in the faith.

A last question that I would like finally to mention is the issue of morality, which is a new challenge for the ecumenical journey. In dialogues we cannot ignore the great moral questions about human life, the family, sexuality, bioethics, freedom, justice and peace. It will be important to speak on these topics with one voice, drawing from the foundation of Scripture and the living tradition of the Church. This tradition helps us to decipher the language of the Creator in his creation. Defending fundamental values of the great tradition of the Church, we defend man, we defend creation.

In concluding these reflections, I hope for the Congregation's close and fraternal collaboration with the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity with the goal of effectively promoting the re-establishment of complete unity among Christians. Division among Christians, in fact, "is not only openly opposed to the will of Christ, but it is also a scandal to the world and damages the holiest of causes: the preaching of the Gospel to every creature" ("Unitatis redintegratio," 1). Unity is therefore not only the fruit of faith but also a means and almost a presupposition of proclaiming the faith in an ever more credible way to those who do not yet know the Savior. Jesus prayed: "As you, Father, are in me and I in you, may they also be one in us, that the world believe that you have sent me" (John 17:21).

In renewing my gratitude for your service, I assure you of my constant spiritual nearness and from my heart impart to you the Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.

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Papal Address to Roman Rota
"Christian Maturity Leads One to an Ever Greater Love of the Law"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2012 - Here is a translation of an address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to members of the Roman Rota.

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Dear members of the Roman Rota!

It is a joy for me to receive you today in our annual meeting on the occasion of the beginning of the judicial year. I offer my greeting to the College of Prelate Auditors, beginning with the dean, Monsignor Antoni Stankiewicz, whom I thank for his words. A cordial greeting also to the other officials, to the lawyers, to the other collaborators and to everyone present. In this context I renew my esteem for the delicate and valuable ministry that you undertake in the Church; it is a task that requires an ever renewed commitment insofar as it impacts the "salus animarum" of the People of God.

In this year's gathering I would like to begin with a reference to an important ecclesial event that we will enter upon in a few months; I am speaking of the "Year of Faith," which, following in the footsteps of my venerable predecessor, the Servant of God Paul VI, I wish to call for the 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council. That great pontiff, as I wrote in my letter of indiction, first established such a period of reflection "fully conscious of the grave difficulties of the time, especially with regard to the profession of the true faith and its correct interpretation."[1]

Acknowledging a similar exigency, passing to the ambit that touches more directly on your service to the Church, today I would like to consider a primary aspect of the judicial office, namely, the interpretation of canonical law with respect to its application.[2] The connection with the topic that I have mentioned -- the right interpretation of faith -- is not to be reduced to a mere semantic agreement given that canon law has in the truths of faith its foundation and its meaning, and that the "lex agendi" (rule of acting) cannot but reflect the "lex credendi" (rule of believing). The question of the interpretation of canon law, moreover, constitutes quite a vast and complex matter, and because of this I will limit myself to a few observations.

First of all, the hermeneutics of canon law is tightly connected to the very conception of the law of the Church.

If we tend to identify canon law with the system of canon laws, the knowledge of what is juridical in the Church would consist essentially in understanding the legal texts set down. At first glance this approach would seem to turn the law into something merely human. But the impoverishment of this view is obvious: with the practical overlooking of natural law and divine positive law and the vital relationship of every right with the communion and mission of the church, the work of the interpreter is deprived of living contact with ecclesial reality.

In recent times some currents of thought have warned against excessive attachment to the Church's laws, beginning with the Codices, regarding it as a manifestation of legalism. Consequently, there have been proposals for hermeneutic approaches that are more in keeping with the theological bases and also the pastoral intention of the canonical norm, leading to juridical creativity in which the individual situation becomes the decisive factor for grasping the authentic meaning of the legal precept in the concrete case. Mercy, equity and "oikonomia," which is so dear to Eastern tradition, are some of the concepts that one has recourse to in such an interpretive approach. It is worth noting immediately that this position does not overcome the positivism that it denounces, limiting itself to replacing the one positivism with another in which the human interpretive work comes to prominence as the protagonist in determining what is lawful. There is a lack of a sense of an objective law to be discovered since it is subjected to considerations that pretend to be theological and pastoral, but that are, in the end, exposed to the danger of arbitrariness. Thus legal hermeneutics is rendered vacuous: at bottom there is no interest in understanding the law's disposition from the moment that it can be dynamically adapted to any situation, even one opposed to the law's letter. Certainly there is in this case a reference to vital phenomena but their intrinsic juridical dimension is not understood.

There is another route, one in which the adequate understanding of canon law opens the way to an interpretive effort that inserts itself into the pursuit of the truth about law and justice in the Church. As I wished to explain at my country's Federal Parliament, in the Reichstag in Berlin,[3] true law is inseparable from justice. Obviously the principle also holds for canon law in the sense that it cannot be shut up in a merely human normative system but must be connected to a just order of the Church in which a superior law reigns. In this perspective human law loses the primacy that it wants to give itself since law is no longer simply identified with it. But human law is, nevertheless, valued inasmuch as it is an expression of justice, first of all to the extent that it follows divine law but also in that it is a legitimate determination of human law.

In this way a legal hermeneutics that is authentically juridical is made possible in the sense that, when it puts itself in harmony with the proper meaning of the law, it can pose the crucial question about what is just in each case. It is important to note that, in this regard, to grasp the proper meaning of the law it is always necessary to look to the reality that is subject to its discipline and to do this not only when the law expresses what is largely a matter of something declared by divine law but also when it introduces that which is the product of human rules. These also must be interpreted in the light of what is regulated, which always contains a core of natural and divine positive law with which every norm must be in harmony to be rational and truly lawful.

In this realistic perspective, the interpretive work, which is occasionally arduous, acquires a meaning and a direction. The use of the interpretive methods foreseen by the Code of Canon Law in canon 17, beginning with "the proper meaning of the words considered in their text and context," is no longer a mere logical exercise. It is a matter of a task that is enlivened by an authentic contact with the whole reality of the Church, that seeks to penetrate the true meaning of the letter of the law. Something occurs that is similar to what I have said about the interior process of St. Augustine in biblical hermeneutics: "transcending the letter made the letter itself credible."[4] Thus we confirm that even in legal hermeneutics the juridical truth to be loved, sought and served provides the authentic horizon.

It follows that interpretation of canon law must occur in the Church. It is not a question of a mere external, environmental circumstance: it is a return to the very "humus" of canon law and the realities it regulates. The dictum "sentire cum Ecclesiae" (thinking or feeling with the Church) is also relevant to disciplinary matters by reason of the doctrinal foundations that are always present and at work in the Church's legal norms. In this way, there must also be applied to canon law that hermeneutic of renewal in continuity, of which I spoke in reference to Vatican II, which is so closely connected to current canonical legislation. Christian maturity leads one to an ever greater love of the law and a desire that it be faithfully applied.

These basic attitudes apply to all categories of interpretation: from scientific research on canon law, to the work of legal workers in judicial or administrative matters, to the daily pursuit of just solutions in the life of the faithful and of communities. We must have a spirit of docility to accept the laws, seeking to study the Church's legal tradition with honesty and dedication so as to be able to identify with it and with the juridical regulations coming from bishops (pastori), especially the pontifical laws and magisterium on canonical questions, which is binding of itself in what it teaches about law.[6] Only in this way can the cases be discerned in which the concrete circumstances demand an equitable solution to achieve the justice that the general human norm was unable to foresee; and only in this way too can we be capable of manifesting in a spirit of communion what can serve to improve the legislative asset.

These reflections acquire a peculiar relevance in the sphere of the laws regarding the constitutive act of matrimony and its consummation and the reception of sacred orders, and to those pertaining to the respective processes. Here the harmony with the true meaning of the Church's law becomes a question of broad and profound practical importance in the life of persons and communities and requires special attention. In particular all those legally binding means must be applied that aim at securing that unity of interpretation and application of laws that is required by justice: the pontifical magisterium specifically concerns this area, above all the papal allocutions to the Roman Rota; the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota, about whose relevance I have already had a chance to speak to you;[7] and the norms and declarations of the other dicasteries of the Roman Curia. Such hermeneutic unity in what is essential does not in any way render superfluous the functions of local tribunals, which are the first called to respond to the complex real situations that arise in every cultural context. Each one of them, in fact, must proceed with a sense of genuine reverence for the truths about the law, seeking to practice the communion in discipline as an essential aspect of the Church's unity in an exemplary way when they apply judicial and administrative principles.

Coming to the conclusion of this moment of encounter and reflection, I would like to recall the recent innovation -- to which Monsignor Stankiewicz referred -- in virtue of which the competency over procedures of dispensation from marriages that are ratified but not consummated and the cases of the nullity of sacred ordination have been transferred to this Apostolic Tribunal.[8] I am certain that there will be a generous response to this new ecclesial task.

In encouraging your precious work, which requires faithful, daily and committed effort, I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, "Speculum iustitiae" (Mirror of Justice) and I gladly impart to you the apostolic blessing.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

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[1] Motu proprio "Porta fidei," October 11, 2011, 5: "L'Osservatore Romano," October 17-18, 2011, p. 4.
[2] Cf. canon 16, § 3 CIC; canon 1498, § 3 CCEO.
[3] Cf. Speech at Federal Parliament in the Reichstag Building, September 22, 2011: "L'Osservatore Romano," September 24, 2011, pp. 6-7.

[4] Cf. Post-synodal Exhortation "Verbum Domini," September 30, 2010, 38: AAS 102 (2010), p. 718, n. 38.
[5] Cf. Speech to the Roman Curia, December 22, 2005: AAS 98 (2006), pp. 40-53.
[6] Cf. John Paul II, Allocution to the Roman Rota, January 29, 2005, 6: AAS 97 (2005), pp. 165-166.

[7] Cf. Allocution to the Roman Rota, January 26, 2008: AAS 100 (2008), pp. 84-88.
[8] Cf. Motu proprio "Quaerit semper," August 30, 2011: "L'Osservatore Romano," September 28, 2011, p. 7.

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Papal Address to International Theological Commission
"A Truly Catholic Theology ... Is Necessary Today More Than Ever"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 6, 2011- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave last Friday to the members of the International Theological Commission.

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Lord Cardinal,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

Illustrious Professors, dear Co-workers!

It is a great joy for me to be able to receive you at the conclusion of the annual plenary session of the International Theological Commission. I would like first of all to express sincere gratitude for the words Cardinal William Levada wished to address to me in your name in his capacity of president of the Commission.

This year the work of this session coincided with the first week of Advent, an occasion that brings to mind that every theologian is called to be a man of advent, a witness of vigilant expectation, who sheds light on the ways of the intelligence of the Word made flesh. We can say that the knowledge of the true God looks to and continually lives from that "hour," unknown to us, when the Lord will return. Maintaining this vigilance and keeping alive the hope of this expectation are not, therefore, a secondary task for proper theology, which finds its reason for being in the Person of him who comes to meet us and enlightens our knowledge of salvation.

Today I would like to reflect briefly with you on the three themes that the International Theological Commission has been studying in recent years. The first, as was said, regards the basic question for all theological reflection: the question of God and in particular the understanding of monotheism. Within this broad doctrinal horizon you have also studied a topic of an ecclesial nature: the meaning of the social doctrine of the Church, paying special attention to a theme that has relevance in contemporary theological thought about God: the question of the status itself of theology today, its prospects ["prospettive"], its principles and criteria.

Behind the Christian faith's profession of the one God we find the daily profession of faith of the people of Israel: "Here, O Israel: the Lord is our God. The Lord is the only God" (Deuteronomy 6:4). The unheard of fulfillment of the free bestowal of God's love on all men was realized in the incarnation of the Son in Jesus Christ. In this revelation of God's intimacy with man and his bond of love with man, the monotheism of the one God is illumined by a completely new light: the trinitarian light. And in the trinitarian mystery, fraternity among men is also illumined. Christian theology, together with Christian life, must restore the happy and clear evidence of the impact of the trinitarian revelation on our community. While the ethnic and religious conflicts in the world make it more difficult to accept the singularity of Christian thinking about God and the humanism inspired by it, men can recognize in the Name of Jesus Christ the truth of God the Father toward which the Holy Spirit draws every longing of creatures (cf. Romans 8). Theology, in fruitful dialogue with philosophy, can help believers to become aware and bear witness that trinitarian monotheism shows us the true face of God, and this monotheism is not the cause of violence, but is a force for personal and universal peace.

The point of departure of every Christian theology is the acceptance of this divine revelation: the personal acceptance of the Word made flesh, listening to the Word of God in Scripture. From this starting point theology assists the believing intelligence of faith and its transmission. But the whole history of the Church shows that to reach the unity of faith, the acknowledgement of the point of departure is not enough. The Bible is always read in a given context and the only context in which the believer can be in full communion with Christ is the Church and her living Tradition. We must always re-live the experience of the first disciples, who "persevered in the teaching of the apostles and in communion, in the breaking of the bread and the prayers" (Acts 2:42). From this perspective the Commission studied the principles and criteria according to which a theology can be Catholic, and also reflected on the contribution of contemporary theology. It is important to remember that Catholic theology, always attentive to the link between faith and reason, had an historical role in the birth of the university. A truly Catholic theology, with the two movements, "intellectus quaerens fidem et fide quaerens intellectum" (understanding seeking faith and faith seeking understanding), is necessary today more than ever, to make a symphony of the sciences possible and to avoid the violent derivations of a religiosity that opposes itself to reason and a reason that opposes itself to religion.

The Theological Commission has studied the relation between the social doctrine of the Church and Christian teaching as a whole. The Church's social engagement is not merely something human nor is it a mere social theory. The transformation of society carried out by Christians over the centuries is a response to the coming of the Son of God into the world: the splendor of this Truth and Charity enlightens every culture and society. St. John says: "By this we know love; that he laid down his life for us and we ought to lay down our life for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). The disciples of Christ the Redeemer know that without the solicitude for the other, forgiveness, love even for enemies, no human community can live in peace; and this begins in the first and fundamental society that is the family. In the necessary collaboration on behalf of the common good even with those who do not share our faith, we must make the true and profound religious reasons for our social commitment present so that the joint effort occurs with transparency. Those who have recognized the bases for Christian social action can also thus have a motivation to take the same faith in Jesus Christ into consideration.

Dear friends, our meeting confirms in a significant way how much the Church needs the competent and faithful reflection of theologians on the mystery of the God of Jesus Christ and his Church. Without healthy and vigorous theological reflection the Church runs the risk of not fully expressing the harmony between faith and reason. At the same time, without the faithful living of communion with the Church and adherence to the Magisterium, which is the vital space of its existence, theology would not succeed in giving an adequate reason for the gift of faith.

Extending, through you, greetings and encouragement to all brother and sister theologians working in various ecclesial contexts, I invoke for you the intercession of Mary, the Woman of Advent and the Mother of the Incarnate Word, who is for us, in her carrying of the Word in her heart, the paradigm of proper theologizing, the sublime model of the true knowledge of the Son of God. May she, the Star of Hope, guide and protect the precious work that you undertake for the Church and in the name of the Church. With these sentiments of gratitude, I renew my Apostolic Benediction. Thank you.

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Pope's Address to Health Care Council
"The Face of the Savior ... Teaches Us to Protect and Promote Life"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave last Saturday to the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

It is a great joy to meet with you on the occasion of the 26th international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers that has as its theme "Health Pastoral Care, Serving Life in the Light of the Magisterium of Blessed John Paul II." I am pleased to greet the bishops who oversee pastoral care in the health field, who have come together for the first time at the tomb of the Apostle Peter to confirm collegial approaches in this very delicate sphere of the Church's mission. I express my gratitude to the dicastery for its valuable service, beginning with the president, Monsignor Zygmunt Zimowski, whom I thank for the cordial words that he addressed to me and in which he also illustrated the work done during the conference. I also greet the secretary and undersecretary, both of whom were recently appointed, the officials and personnel along with the speakers and experts, the heads of the curial institutes, the health care workers, all those present and those who helped to organize the conference.

I am certain that your reflections contributed to a better understanding of "The Gospel of Life," the precious legacy of the magisterium of Blessed John Paul II. In 1985 he established this Pontifical Council to give [this message of life] a concrete witness in the vast and complex sphere of health care. Twenty years ago he instituted the celebration of the World Day of the Sick and he also launched the Good Samaritan Foundation [in 2004] as an instrument for charitable assistance to the poorest of the sick in various countries. I would like to call for a renewed commitment to the support of this foundation.

Over the long and intense years of his pontificate, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed that serving persons sick in body and spirit is a constant part of the ecclesial community's commitment to evangelization, following Jesus' command to the Twelve to go forth and heal the infirm (cf. Luke 9:2). In particular in the apostolic letter "Salvifici doloris" of February 11, 1984, my venerable predecessor states: "Suffering seems to belong to man's transcendence: it is one of those points in which man is in a certain sense 'destined' to go beyond himself, and he is called to this in a mysterious way" (2). The mystery of suffering seems to obscure the face of God, almost making him a stranger, or even identifying him as the one responsible for human suffering, but the eyes of faith can see into the depths of this mystery. God became incarnate, he drew near to man, even in the most difficult situations; he did not eliminate suffering, but in the Crucified and Risen One, in the Son of God who suffered unto death, and death on a cross, he reveals that his love descends even into man's deepest abyss to bring him hope. The Crucified One is risen; Easter morning illumines death: "God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, so that whoever should believe in him would not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16). In the Son, who was "given" for the salvation of humanity, the truth of love is, in a certain way, demonstrated through the truth of suffering, and the Church, born from the mystery of Redemption in the Cross of Christ, "has to try to meet man in a special way on the path of his suffering. In this meeting man 'becomes the way for the Church,' and this way is one of the most important ones" ("Salvifici doloris," 3).

Dear friends, your service of accompaniment, of nearness to our brothers who are sick, alone, often suffering from physical wounds but spiritual and moral wounds too, places you in a privileged position to bear witness to the salvific action of God, his love for man and the world, which embraces even the most painful and terrible situations. The Face of the Savior, dying upon the cross, of the Son who is consubstantial with the Father and suffers for us as a man (cf. ibid., 17) teaches us to protect and promote life, in whatever stage and in whatever condition it is found, recognizing the dignity and value of every single human being, created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27) and called to eternal life.

This vision of pain and suffering illuminated by the death and resurrection of Christ was born witness to by the slow Calvary of the final years of life of Blessed John Paul II, to whom we can apply the words of St. Paul: "I complete what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the Church" (Colossians 1:24). Firm and certain faith pervaded his physical weakness, rendering his sickness -- endured for the love of God, the Church and the world -- a concrete participation in the way of Christ, even to Calvary.

The "sequela Christi" (following of Christ) did not spare Blessed John Paul II from taking up his own cross every day to the very end, to be like his only Master and Lord, who from the cross became a point of attraction and salvation for humanity (cf. John 12:32; 19:37) and manifested his glory (cf. Mark 15:39). In the homily of the Holy Mass for the beatification of my venerable predecessor I recalled how "the Lord gradually stripped him of everything, yet he remained ever a 'rock,' as Christ desired. His profound humility, grounded in close union with Christ, enabled him to continue to lead the Church and to give to the world a message which became all the more eloquent as his physical strength declined" (Homily, May 1, 2011).

Dear friends, treasuring the witness that Blessed John Paul II lived in his own flesh, I hope that you too, in the exercise of your pastoral ministry and in your professional work, might discover in the glorious tree of the cross of Christ "the fulfillment and the complete revelation of the whole Gospel of life" ("Evangelium vitae," 50). In the service you provide in the various fields of health ministry, may you too experience that "only if I serve my neighbor can my eyes be opened to what God does for me and how much He loves me" ("Deus Caritas est," 18).

I entrust each of you, the sick, the families of all health care workers to the maternal intercession of Mary, and I gladly bestow upon you from my heart the apostolic blessing.

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Pope's Address to Pontifical Council for the Laity
"God Is Known Through Men and Women Who Know Him"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday to the Pontifical Council for the Laity during its 35th plenary assembly.

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Lord Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I am happy to meet with you, members and advisers of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, gathered for the 35th plenary assembly. I greet in a particular way Cardinal Stanis?aw Ry?ko and Monsignor Josef Clemens, the secretary, and I thank Cardinal Ry?ko for the courteous words that he has addressed to me. A cordial welcome to all of you, especially the laymen and women, who make up the dicastery. Since the last plenary assembly you have been engaged in various initiatives which His Eminence has already mentioned. I too would like to recall the congress for the laypeople of Asia, and World Youth Day in Madrid. They were very intense moments of faith and ecclesial life and they are also important in view of the great ecclesial events that we will be celebrating next year: the 13th ordinary general assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the new evangelization and the opening of the Year of Faith.

The congress for the laypeople of Asia was organized last year in Seoul, with the help of the Church in Korea, on the theme "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today." The vast Asian continent contains different peoples, cultures and religions of ancient origin, but the Christian proclamation has so far only reached a small minority, which often -- as you yourself said Your Eminence -- live their faith in difficult circumstances, sometimes even real persecution. The meeting provided the occasion for the laity, the associations, the movements and the new communities that have been established in Asia to strengthen their commitment to and their courage in their mission. These brothers of ours admirably bear witness to their following of Christ, giving us a glimpse how their faith is opening up large areas for evangelization in Asia. I know that the Pontifical Council for the Laity is organizing a similar congress in Cameroon for the laypeople of Africa next year. These continental meetings are invaluable for giving impetus to the work of evangelization, to strengthen unity and to reinforce the bonds between particular Churches and the universal Church.

I would also like to draw attention to the last World Youth Day in Madrid. The theme of the gathering, as we know, was faith: "Rooted and Built up in Jesus Christ, Firm in the Faith" (cf. Colossians 2:7). And I truly was able to contemplate an incredible number of young people, enthusiastically gathered together from all over the world to encounter the Lord and experience universal brotherhood. An extraordinary flood of light illuminated Madrid, and not only Madrid, but old Europe too and the whole world, re-proposing the pertinence of the search for God in a clear way. No one was able to remain indifferent, no one was able to think that the question of God is irrelevant for man today. The young people of the whole world anxiously await the celebration of these special gatherings dedicated to them, and I know that you are already working on the next one in Rio de Janeiro in 2013.

In this respect it seems to me to be particularly important that there was a wish to treat the topic of God in this year's general assembly, whose theme was "The Question of God Today." We must never tire of re-proposing this question, to "begin again from God," to give back to man the totality of his dimensions, his complete dignity. In fact, a mentality that is widespread in our time that rejects every reference to the transcendent, has shown itself to be incapable of preserving the human. The spread of this mentality has generated the crisis that we are experiencing today, which is a crisis of meaning and of values before it is an economic and social crisis. Those who try to live in a positivistic way, in the calculable and the measurable, become suffocated in the end. In this context the question of God is, in a sense, "the question of all questions." It brings us back to man's most basic questions, to the aspirations for truth, happiness and freedom that are native to his heart, that seek a realization. The man who reawakens the question about God in himself becomes open to hope, to a trustworthy hope, for which it is worthwhile to face the toil of the journey in the present (cf. "Spe salvi," 1).

But how do we reawaken the question of God so that it becomes the fundamental question? Dear friends, if it is true that at the beginning "[b]eing Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person" ("Deus caritas est," 1), the question of God is reawakened in meeting those who have the gift of faith, with those who have a living relationship with the Lord. God is known through men and women who know him: the way to him passes, in a concrete way, through those who have met him. Here your role as laypeople is particularly important. As "Christifideles laici" observes, this is your specific vocation. In the Church "a particular place falls to the lay faithful, by reason of their 'secular character,' obliging them, in their proper and irreplaceable way, to work towards the Christian animation of the temporal order" (36). You are called to bear a transparent witness to the relevance of the question of God in every sphere of thought and action. In the family, in the workplace and in politics and the economy, contemporary man needs to see with his own eyes and touch how it is that with God or without God everything changes.

But the challenge posed by a mentality closed to transcendence obliges Christians themselves to return in a more decisive way to the centrality of God. Now and then there is an effort to make the presence of Christians more incisive in society, politics or the economy, and perhaps there has not been a corresponding concern for the solidity of their faith, almost as if it were something acquired once and for all. In reality Christians do not inhabit a distant planet that is immune to the "diseases" of the world, rather they share the anxieties, the disorientation and the difficulties of their time. Thus, it is not less urgent to re-propose the question of God even in the ecclesial sphere. How often, despite calling themselves Christians, do the faithful not in fact make God the central point of reference in their way of thinking and acting, in their fundamental decisions in life? The first response to the great challenge of our time is then the profound conversion of our heart, so that the Baptism that made us the light of the world and the salt of the earth might truly transform us.

Dear friends, the Church's mission needs contribution of each and every one of her members, especially the laity. In the stations of life to which the Lord has called you, be courageous witnesses of the God of Jesus Christ, living your Baptism. In this I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of all peoples, and from my heart I impart to you and your loved ones the apostolic blessing. Thank you.

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Pope's Address to John Paul II Foundation
"The Blessed Pontiff Sought ... to Bind the Faithful Not to Himself, But Ever More to Christ"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2011 - Here is the text of an address that Benedict XVI gave today to the John Paul II Foundation, which is marking its 30th anniversary.

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Dear Cardinals,
Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,
Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Thirty years ago, at the request of "some brothers and sisters who live in Poland or have emigrated from there but retain strong links with their land of origin", my Predecessor Blessed John Paul II instituted in Vatican City a Foundation bearing his name, with the object of "promoting through their support, material and otherwise, initiatives of a religious, cultural, pastoral and charitable nature, and cultivating and reinforcing the traditional links between them and the Holy See" (Decree of Institution).

Today, members of the Foundation and friends from all over the world have chosen to celebrate this anniversary, giving thanks to the Lord for all the fruits that the various activities have produced in the course of three decades. I am pleased to be able to join you in this thanksgiving. I warmly greet all of you here today, especially Cardinal Stanis?aw Dziwisz, former Secretary of the beloved Holy Father and one of the promoters of the Foundation, now its ex officio head as Archbishop of Cracow. I extend a cordial welcome to Cardinal Stanislaw Ryko, President of the Council of Administration, and I thank him for the words that he addressed to me. I greet Archbishop Szczepan Weso?y, former President, as well as the distinguished Members of the Council, and together with them the Directors of the individual Institutions of the Foundation. Finally I extend a cordial greeting to all the members of the Circle of Friends of the Foundation dispersed throughout the continents. All who are present here represent the thousands of benefactors who continue to support the work of the Foundation financially and spiritually. I ask you to convey to all of them my greetings and my thanks.

As we read in the premise of the Statutes, "conscious of the greatness of the gift that the person and work of the Polish Pope represent for the Church, for the homeland and for the world, the Foundation seeks to conserve and develop this spiritual heritage, which it aims to transmit to future generations." I know that this object is realized above all through the "Centre for the Documentation and Study of the Pontificate of John Paul II", which not only collects archives, bibliographical material and museum items, but also promotes publications, exhibitions, congresses and other scientific and cultural events, in order to disseminate the teaching and the pastoral and humanitarian activity of the Blessed Pontiff. I trust that, through daily study of the sources and cooperation with bodies of similar character both in Rome and elsewhere, this Centre will become an ever more important point of reference for all who seek to know and appreciate the vast and rich heritage that he left us.

Affiliated to the Foundation, the Casa Giovanni Paolo II here in Rome, in collaboration with the noble Hospice of Saint Stanislaus, offers practical and spiritual assistance to pilgrims who come to the tombs of the Apostles so as to reinforce their faith and their union with the Pope and the universal Church. The Blessed Pontiff sought at every moment to bind the faithful not to himself, but ever more to Christ, to the Apostolic Tradition and to the Catholic community united to the episcopal college with the Pope as its head. I myself can experience the efficacy of these efforts, as I receive the love and spiritual support of so many people from all over the world who welcome me with affection as the Successor of Peter, called by the Lord to confirm them in the faith. I am grateful that the Foundation continues to cultivate this spirit of love that unites us in Christ.

One task of great human and cultural value, explicitly desired by John Paul II and undertaken by the Foundation, is that of assisting the "formation of the clergy and the laity, especially those from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe". Every year, students arrive in Lublin, Warsaw and Cracow from countries which, in former times, suffered the ideological oppression of the Communist regime, in order to pursue studies in the various branches of science, so as to live new experiences, to encounter different spiritual traditions, and to broaden their cultural horizons. Then they return to their own countries, enriching the various sectors of social, economic, cultural, political and ecclesial life. More than 900 graduates is a precious gift for those nations. All this is possible thanks to the study bursaries and the spiritual and professional assistance guaranteed by the generosity of the Foundation. I hope that this work will continue, develop and bear abundant fruits.

My dear friends, one could list many more successes and many accomplishments of your Foundation. Yet I would like to underline one aspect of primary importance, over and above its immediate and visible effects. In association with the Foundation, there has evolved a spiritual union of thousands of people in various continents who not only support it materially, but constitute the Circles of Friends, communities of formation based on the teaching and the example of Blessed John Paul II. They do not limit themselves to a sentimental memory of the past, but they discern the needs of the present, they look to the future with solicitude and confidence, and they commit themselves to imbue the world more deeply with the spirit of solidarity and fraternity. Let us thank the Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit who unites, enlightens and inspires you.

With a grateful heart, through the intercession of your Patron, Blessed John Paul II, I entrust the future of your Foundation to Divine Providence and I bless you from my heart.

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Papal Address to New Evangelizers
"To Be Evangelizers Is Not a Privilege, But a Commitment That Comes From Faith"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to participants in an event hosted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

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Lord Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood

Dear Friends!

I joyfully received the invitation from the president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization to be with you today, this afternoon at least briefly and especially tomorrow in the Eucharistic Celebration. I thank Archbishop Fisichella for the words of greeting he addressed to me in your name, and I am delighted to see that you are very numerous. I know you are representing many others that, like you, are committed in the difficult task of the New Evangelization. I greet all those who are following this event through the media, which enables many new evangelizers to be connected at the same time, though they are scattered throughout different parts of the world.

You chose as the motto for your reflection today the expression: "The Word of God Increases and Multiplies." The Evangelist Luke uses this formula many times in the book of the Acts of the Apostles; in different situations, he affirms, in fact, that "the Word of God increased and multiplied" (cf. Acts 6:7; 12:24). However for today's theme you modified the tense of the two verbs to evidence a very important aspect of the faith: the conscious certainty that the Word of God is always alive, in all the moments of history, up to our days, because the Church actualizes it through her faithful transmission, the celebration of the sacraments and the witness of believers. That is why our history is in continuity with that of the early Christian community, it lives with the same spirit.

But what ground does the Word of God find? As then, also today it encounters closure and rejection, ways of thinking and living that are far from the search for God and truth. Contemporary man is often confused and unable to find answers to so many questions that unsettle his mind in regard to the meaning of life and to the questions that dwell in the depth of his heart. Man cannot elude these questions that affect the meaning of himself and of reality, and he cannot live only in one dimension! However, it is no accident that he is distracted from the search for the essential in life, while an ephemeral happiness is suggested to him, making him content only for an instant, and immediately leaving sadness and dissatisfaction.

However, despite the condition of contemporary man, we can still affirm with certainty, as at the beginning of Christianity, that the Word of God continues growing and spreading. Why? I would like to point out, at least, three reasons. The first is that the strength of the Word does not depend, in the first place, on our action, on our means, on our "doing," but on God, who hides his power under the signs of weakness, who makes himself present in the light morning breeze (cf. 1 Kings 19:12), who reveals himself on the wood of the Cross. We must always believe in the humble power of the Word of God and allow God to act! The second reason is that the seed of the Word, as the Gospel parable of the Sower narrates, falls also today on good soil that receives it and produces fruit (cf. Matthew 13:3-9). And the new evangelizers are part of this field that enables the Gospel to grow in abundance and transform one's life and that of others. In the world, although evil makes much noise, good ground continues to exist. The third reason is that the proclamation of the Gospel has effectively reached the ends of the earth; even in the midst of indifference, incomprehension and persecution, many continue, yet today, with courage, opening the heart and mind to receive the invitation of Christ to encounter him and become his disciples. Though not making noise, they are as the grain of mustard that becomes a tree, the leaven that ferments the dough, the grain of wheat that is destroyed to create the ear. All this, if on one hand it gives consolation and hope because it shows an incessant missionary ferment that animates the Church, on the other hand, it must fill everyone with a renewed sense of responsibility for the Word of God and the diffusion of the Gospel.

The Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, which I instituted last year, is a valuable instrument to identify the great questions that are moving in the various sectors of society and contemporary culture. It is called to offer a particular help to the Church in her mission and above all in those countries of ancient Christian, which seem to be indifferent if not hostile to the Word of God. Today's world needs persons who proclaim and witness that Christ teaches us the art of living, the way to true happiness, because He himself is the Way of Life; people who look steadily, first of all, at Jesus, the Son of God: The word of the proclamation must be immersed in an intense relationship with Him, in an intense life of prayer. Today's world needs persons who speak to God to be able to speak of God. And we must also remember that Jesus did not redeem the world with beautiful words or showy means, but with suffering and death. The law of the grain of wheat that dies in the earth also serves today; we cannot give life to others, without giving our life: "Whoever loses his life for my sake and the Gospel's will save it," the Lord says to us (Mark 8:35). Seeing all of you and knowing the great commitment that each one gives to the service of the mission, I am convinced that the new evangelizers will multiply increasingly to give life to the real transformation that the present world needs. Only through men and women permeated with the presence of God, will the Word of God continue its journey in the world bearing its fruits.

Dear friends, to be evangelizers is not a privilege, but a commitment that comes from faith. To the question the Lord addresses to Christians: "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" you answer with the same courage and the same trust as the Prophet: "Here I am! Send me" (Isaiah 6:8). I ask you to let yourselves be permeated by the grace of God and that you correspond docilely to the action of the Spirit of the Risen One. Be signs of hope, capable of looking at the future with the certainty that comes from the Lord Jesus, who has conquered death and has given us eternal life. Communicate to all the joy of the faith with the enthusiasm that comes from being moved by the Holy Spirit, because He makes all things new (cf. Revelation 21:5), trusting in the promise made by Jesus to the Church: "And lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20).

At the end of this day let us also pray for the protection of the Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, while from my heart I accompany each one of you and your commitments with the Apostolic Blessing. Thank you.

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Pope's Homily at Mass With New Evangelizers
"Proclamation Must Always Be Preceded, Accompanied and Followed by Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave Sunday when he celebrated a Mass for participants in an event hosted by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization.

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Venerable Brothers,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

With joy I celebrate today this Mass for you who are committed in many parts of the world on the frontiers of the New Evangelization. This liturgy is the conclusion of the meeting that gathered you yesterday to address the realms of that mission and to listen to some significant testimonies. I myself wish to present some thoughts to you, while I break for you today the Bread of the Word and of the Eucharist, in the certainty -- shared by all of us -- that without Christ, Word and Bread of life, we can do nothing (cf. John 15:5). I am content because this conference is situated in the context of the month of October, in fact one week before World Mission Sunday: this puts the New Evangelization in its specific dimension, in harmony with that of the mission ad gentes.

I address a cordial greeting to all of you who accepted the invitation of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. In particular I greet and thank the president of this recently established dicastery, Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella, and his collaborators.

Let us turn now to the biblical readings in which the Lord speaks to us today. The first, taken from the Book of Isaiah, tells us that God is one, He is unique; there are no other gods besides the Lord, and even the powerful Cyrus, emperor of the Persians, forms part of a greater plan, which only God knows and carries forward. This reading gives us the theological meaning of history: the changes of epochs, the succession of great powers, are under the supreme dominion of God; no earthly power can put itself in His place. The theology of history is an important, essential aspect of the New Evangelization, because the men of our time, after the terrible period of the totalitarian empires of the 20th century, need to rediscover a global vision of the world and of time, a truly free, peaceful vision, the vision that the Second Vatican Council transmitted in its documents, and that my Predecessors, the Servant of God Paul VI and Blessed John Paul II, illustrated with their Magisterium.

The second reading is the beginning of the First Letter to the Thessalonians, and this is already very thought provoking, because it is the oldest letter that has come down to us from the greatest evangelizer of all times, the Apostle Paul. He says to us first of all that one does not evangelize in an isolated way: In fact he also had Silvanus and Timothy as collaborators (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:1), and many others. And he immediately adds another very important thing: that the proclamation must always be preceded, accompanied and followed by prayer. He writes, in fact: "We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers" (v. 2). The Apostle says he is very conscious of the fact that he has not chosen the members of the community, but God has: "They were chosen by Him," he states (v. 4). Every missionary of the Gospel must have this truth always present: It is the Lord who touches hearts with his Word and his Spirit, calling persons to faith and to communion in the Church. Finally, Paul leaves us a very beautiful teaching, taken from his experience. He writes: "for our Gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction" (v. 5). To be effective, evangelization needs the strength of the Spirit, to animate the proclamation and infuse in the one who bears it that "full conviction" of which the Apostle speaks. This term "conviction," "full conviction" in the Greek original is pleroforia: a term that does not express so much the subjective, psychological aspect, but rather the plenitude, the fidelity, the completeness, in this case of the proclamation of Christ. A proclamation that, to be complete and faithful, must be accompanied by signs, by gestures, as the preaching of Jesus. Word, Spirit and conviction -- thus understood -- are, hence, inseparable and thus concur to make the evangelical message spread efficaciously.

We now pause on the passage of the Gospel. It is the text on the legitimacy of the tribute that must be paid to Caesar, which contains Jesus' famous answer: "Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's" (Matthew 22:21). But before coming to this point, this is a passage that can refer to all those who have the mission to evangelize. In fact, Jesus' interlocutors -- disciples of the Pharisees and Herodians -- address Him with an expression of appreciation: "We know that you are true, and teach the way of God truthfully, and care for no man; for you do not regard the position of men" (v. 16). And it is in fact this affirmation, though arising from hypocrisy, which must call our attention. The disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians do not believe what they say. They affirm it with a captatio benevolentiae so that they will be listened to, but their heart is very far from that truth; rather they want to lay a snare for Jesus to be able to accuse him. For us, instead, that expression is beautiful and true: Jesus, in fact, is true and he teaches the way of God according to the truth and he is not subject to anyone. He himself is this "way of God," which we are called to follow.

We can recall Jesus' words in John's Gospel: "I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" (14:6). In this regard, St. Augustine's commentary is enlightening: "It was necessary for Jesus to say: I am the Way, the Truth and the Life" because once the Way was known, the end had to be known. The Way led to the Truth, it led to the Life … and we, where are we going if not to Him? And by what Way do we go if not by Him?" (In Ioh 69:2). The new evangelizers are called to walk first on this Way that is Christ, to bring others to know the beauty of the Gospel that gives Life. And on this Way, one never walks alone but in company: an experience of communion and fraternity that is offered to all those we meet, to make others participants of our experience of Christ and of his Church. Thus, witness, together with proclamation, can open the heart of those who are seeking the truth, so that they can discover the meaning of their lives.

A brief reflection also on the central question of the tribute to Caesar. Jesus answers with astonishing political realism, linked to the theo-centrism of the prophetic tradition. The tribute to Caesar is paid, because the image on the coin is his; but man, every man, bears in himself another image, that of God, and hence he is His, to whom each one owes his existence. The Fathers of the Church, inspired in the fact that Jesus refers to the image of the Emperor coined on the coin of tribute, interpreted this step in the light of the fundamental concept of man as image of God, contained in the first chapter of the Book of Genesis.

An anonymous author writes: "The image of God is not imprinted on gold but on the human race. Caesar's coin is gold, God's is humanity … hence, give your wealth to Caesar, but keep for God the unique innocence of your conscience where God is contemplated … Caesar, in fact, has engraved his image on each coin, but God has chosen man, whom He has created, to reflect his glory" (Anonymous, Incomplete Work on Matthew, Homily 42). And St. Augustine used this reference many times in his homilies: "If Caesar claims his own image engraved on the coin," he affirms, "will God not exact from man the divine image sculpted in him? (En. In Ps., Psalm 94:2). And still: "As the coin is returned to Caesar, so the illumined soul is returned to God imprinted by the light of his face ... Christ in fact dwells in man's interior" (Ivi, Psalm 4:8).

This word of Jesus is rich in anthropological content, and it cannot be reduced solely to the political realm. The Church, therefore, does not limit herself to remind men of the correct distinction between the sphere of Caesar's authority and God's, between the political and the religious realm. The mission of the Church, as Christ's, is essentially to speak of God, to remind of his sovereignty, to remind everyone, especially Christians who have lost their identity, of God's right over what belongs to Him, that is, our life.

Precisely to give renewed impulse to the mission of the whole Church to lead men out of the desert in which they are often found to the place of life, friendship with Christ who gives us his life in plenitude, I would like to announce in this Eucharistic Celebration that I have decided to declare a "Year of Faith," which I will illustrate with a special Apostolic Letter. This "Year of Faith" will begin on Oct. 11, 2012, on the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, and will end on Nov. 24, 2013, Solemnity of Christ the King of the Universe. It will be a time of grace and commitment to en ever fuller conversion to God, to reinforce our faith in Him and to proclaim Him with joy to the men of our time.

Dear brothers and sisters, you are among the protagonists of the New Evangelization, which the Church has undertaken and carries forward, not without difficulty, but with the same enthusiasm of the early Christians.

In conclusion, I make my own the expressions of the Apostle Paul that we have heard: I thank God for all of you. And I assure you that I keep you in my prayers, conscious of your commitment in faith, your diligence in charity, and your constant hope in Jesus Christ our Lord.

May the Virgin Mary, who was not afraid to answer "yes" to the Word of the Lord, and, after having conceived Him in her womb, went out full of joy and hope, always be your model and your guide. Learn from the Mother of the Lord and our Mother to be humble and at the same time brave, simple and prudent; balanced and strong, not with the force of the world, but with that of truth. Amen.

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Papal Words Upon Visiting L'Osservatore Romano Offices
"This Is Not Only a Newspaper, But Also a Cultural Journal"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon visiting the offices of the semi-official Vatican daily, L'Osservatore Romano, to mark the newspaper's 150th anniversary.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be able to meet you in the offices of the daily newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, where every day you carry out your valuable and highly qualified work at the service of the Holy See. I greet you all with affection. I greet the Editor-in-Chief, Prof. Giovanni Maria Vian, the Assistant Editor, the editorial staff, and the whole of this paper's large family.

A few days ago, on 1 July, L'Osservatore Romano reached the important milestone of 150 years of existence. I would like to wish you really warmly, as one does at home, "Happy Birthday!" This event gives rise to sentiments of gratitude and legitimate pride, but alongside the special, solemn commemorations -- I also wanted to come here to be with you, to express my gratitude to each one of those who actually "put out" the newspaper, with human and Christian enthusiasm and with professionalism.

For some time I have been truly curious to see how a newspaper is produced today, to see where the paper comes into being and to meet, at least for a moment, the people who put our paper together. I now have the joy of discovering the modern method, totally different from what it was 50 years ago, which brings a newspaper into being. It demands far more human creativity, let us say, than technical work. And thus this "workshop" is certainly dedicated to doing, but first and above all to knowing, to thinking, to judging and to reflecting. It is not even solely a "workshop." It is above all a great observatory, as its name says. An observatory for seeing the reality of this world and for informing ourselves of this reality.

It seems to me that from this observatory we see both things that are distant from us as well as those that are close. Distant in a dual sense: first of all remote in all the parts of the world, as are the Philippines, Australia and Latin America; for me this is one of the great advantages of L'Osservatore Romano which truly offers a universal information, which really views the whole world and not only a part of it. I am really grateful for this because in newspapers news is provided but with a preponderance of our own world and this makes us forget many other parts of the earth that are no less important.

Here may be seen something of the coincidence of the Urbs et Orbis which is characteristic of catholicity and, in a certain sense, is also a Roman heritage, truly to view the world and not only ourselves.

In the second place, from this observatory we see distant things in another sense too. "L'Osservatore" [the observer] does not stop at the surface of events but goes to their root. Beyond the surface it shows us the cultural roots and the depth of things.

Moreover in my opinion this is not only a newspaper but also a cultural journal. I admire the fact that it is possible every day to make important contributions that help us understand better the human being, the roots from which things come and how they should be understood, brought about and transformed. But this newspaper also sees things from close at hand. Sometimes it is really difficult to see our small world from close to which is nevertheless an immense world.

There is another phenomenon that makes me think and for which I am grateful: namely, that no one can be informed about everything. Even the most globalized media, so to speak, cannot say everything: it is impossible.

Discernment, a choice, is always necessary. Hence in presenting events the criterion of choice is crucial: there is never pure fact, there is always also a choice that determines what appears and what does not appear. And we know well that the priority choices today, in many organs of public opinion, are often highly disputable. And L'Osservatore Romano, as the Editor-in-Chief said, has always offered in its masthead two criteria: "Unicuique suum" and "Non praevalebunt".

This characteristically sums up the culture of the Western world. On the one hand, the great Roman law, natural law, the natural human culture expressed in Roman culture, with its law and its sense of justice; and on the other hand the Gospel.

One could also say: with these two criteria -- of natural law and of the Gospel -- we have justice as our criterion and, moreover, the hope that derives from faith. Together, these two criteria -- justice that respects everyone and hope that sees even negative things in the light of a divine goodness of which we may be sure through faith -- really help to offer a human, a humanistic, information in the sense of a humanism whose roots are in God's goodness. And in this way it is not only information but, really, cultural formation. For all this I am grateful to you. I warmly impart to all of you and to your loved ones the Apostolic Blessing.

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Holy See's Statement on Episcopal Ordination in China
"The Church's Doctrine and Discipline Must Be Respected"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 5, 2011 - Here is the Vatican statement issued Monday on the June 29 episcopal ordination of Father Paul Lei Shiyin in the Diocese of Leshan, China, which occurred without the Pope's approval.

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With regard to the episcopal ordination of the Rev. Paul Lei Shiyin, which took place on Wednesday 29 June last and was conferred without the apostolic mandate, the following is stated:

Rev. Lei Shiyin, ordained without the Papal mandate and hence illegitimately, has no authority to govern the diocesan Catholic community, and the Holy See does not recognize him as the Bishop of the Diocese of Leshan. The effects of the sanction which he has incurred through violation of the norm of can. 1382 of the Code of Canon Law remain in place.

The same Rev. Lei Shiyin had been informed, for some time, that he was unacceptable to the Holy See as an episcopal candidate for proven and very grave reasons.

The consecrating bishops have exposed themselves to the grave canonical sanctions laid down by the law of the Church (in particular, canon 1382 of the Code of Canon Law; cf. Declaration of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts of 6 June 2011).

An episcopal ordination without Papal mandate is directly opposed to the spiritual role of the Supreme Pontiff and damages the unity of the Church. The Leshan ordination was a unilateral act which sows division and unfortunately produces rifts and tensions in the Catholic community in China. The survival and development of the Church can only take place in union with him to whom the Church herself is entrusted in the first place, and not without his consent as, however, occurred in Leshan. If it is desired that the Church in China be Catholic, the Church’s doctrine and discipline must be respected.

The Leshan episcopal ordination has deeply saddened the Holy Father, who wishes to send to the beloved faithful in China a word of encouragement and hope, inviting them to prayer and unity.

From the Vatican, 4 July 2011

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Papal Address to Ratzinger Prize Winners
"The Real Question": "Is What We Believe True or Not?"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 1, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Beneedict XVI gave Thursday when he conferred the Ratzinger Prize on its first three winners. The prize recognizes work in theology.

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Lord Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies!

First of all I would like to express my joy and gratitude for the fact that, with the awarding of its theological prize, the Foundation that bears my name gives public recognition to the work carried out over a lifetime by two great theologians, and to a theologian of the younger generation it gives a sign of encouragement to advance on the path undertaken.

With Professor González de Cardedal I am bound by a common path of many decades. Between us we began with St. Bonaventure and we allowed him to indicate the direction. In a long life of scholarship, Professor González has discussed all the great topics of theology, and he has done so not simply by reflecting or speaking from a purely theoretical point of view, but always addressing the drama of our time, living and also suffering in an altogether personal way the great questions of the faith and with that the questions of the man of today. Thus, the word of faith is not something of the past; in his works it becomes truly contemporary for us.

Professor Simonetti has opened for us in a new way the world of the Fathers. Precisely by showing us precisely and carefully, from the historical point of view, what the Fathers say, they become contemporary with us, speaking with us.

Father Maximilian Heim was recently elected abbot of the monastery of Heiligenkreuz near Vienna -- a monastery rich in traditions -- taking on the task of rendering present a great history and of leading it to the future. In this, I hope that the work on my theology that he has given us can be useful to him, and that the Abbey of Heiligenkreuz will be able in our day to further develop monastic theology, which has always supported university [theology], forming with it the whole of Western theology.

However, it is not my task to offer here a laudatio of the winners, which has already been competently done by Cardinal Ruini.

Perhaps, however, the awarding of the prize can offer the occasion to dedicate ourselves for a moment to the fundamental question of what "theology" really is.

Theology is the science of faith, tradition tells us. But here the question immediately arises: Is this really possible? Is this not, in itself, a contradiction? Is not science, perhaps, the contrary of faith? Does faith not cease to be faith when it becomes science? And does not science cease to be science when it is ordered or even subordinated to faith?

Such questions -- which already for medieval theology represented a serious problem -- with the modern concept of science, have become even more difficult, at first glance, even unsolvable. Hence we understand why in the modern age, in vast ambits, theology retracted primarily to the field of history, in order to demonstrate in this area its serious scientific nature. It is necessary to acknowledge, with gratitude, that grandiose works were carried out in this vein, and the Christian message received new light, rendering visible its profound richness. However, if theology withdraws totally into the past, it leaves faith today in darkness.

In a second phase, theology then concentrated on praxis, to show how theology, in connection with psychology and sociology, is a useful science that gives concrete indications for life. This is also important. But if faith, the foundation of theology, does not become at the same time an object of study, if praxis refers only to itself, or lives only by borrowing from the human sciences, then praxis becomes empty and deprived of foundation.

Hence, these paths are not sufficient. For as useful and important as they might be, they become escapes if the true question remains unanswered. The real question is this: Is what we believe true or not? The question of truth is at stake in theology; it is its ultimate and essential foundation.

Something Tertullian said can bring us to take a step forward here; he wrote that Christ did not say: "I am custom," but, "I am the Truth" -- non consuetudo sed veritas (Virg. 1,1).

Christian Gnilka has shown that the concept consuetudo can refer to the pagan religions that, according to their nature, were not faith, but were "custom": what is done is what has always been done; the traditional forms of worship are observed and one thus hopes to remain in the right relationship with the mysterious ambit of the divine. The revolutionary aspect of Christianity in antiquity was precisely the break with "custom" for love of the truth. Tertullian speaks here above all on the basis of the Gospel of John, in which is found the other fundamental interpretation of the Christian faith, which is expressed in the designation of Christ as Logos.

If Christ is the Logos, the truth, man must correspond to Him with his own logos, with his reason. To arrive at Christ, man must be on the path of truth. He must open himself to the Logos, to creative Reason, from which derives his own reason and to which his reason refers back. In this way we see that Christian faith, by its very nature, must give rise to theology, must question itself on the reasonableness of faith, even if, of course, the concept of reason and that of science encompass many dimensions, and thus the concrete nature of the nexus between faith and reason should and must always be plumbed anew.

Thus, even when the fundamental nexus between Logos, truth and faith is clearly presented in Christianity, the concrete form of this nexus has aroused and always arouses new questions. It is clear that at this moment such a question, which has occupied and will occupy every generation, cannot be treated in detail, and not even broadly. I would like to proposes only a very small note.

In the Prologue to his Commentary on the Sentences, St. Bonaventure spoke of a double use of reason -- of a use that is irreconcilable with the nature of faith and of a use that instead belongs precisely to the nature of faith. There exists, he says, the violentia rationis, the despotism of reason, which makes itself the supreme and ultimate judge of everything. This kind of use of reason is certainly impossible in the ambit of faith. What does Bonaventure mean by this? An expression of Psalm 95:9 can show us. Here God says to his people: "In the wilderness ... your fathers tested me, and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work." Here there is reference to a double encounter with God: they "saw." This, however, was not enough for them. They put God "to the proof." They want to subject him to experiment. He is, as it were, subjected to a questioning and must submit Himself to a procedure of experimental testing.

This way of using reason has reached the culmination of its development in the modern age in the realm of the natural sciences. Experimental reason widely seems today to be the only form of rationality declared scientific. What cannot be scientifically verified or falsified falls outside the scientific ambit. With this approach, great works have been accomplished, as we know, and no would dare to seriously deny that this approach is right and necessary in the realm of knowledge of nature and of its laws. However such a use of reason has a limit: God is not an object of human experimentation. He is Subject and manifests himself only in the person to person relationship, which is part of the essence of person.

In this perspective Bonaventure refers to a second use of reason, which is valid for the ambit of the "personal," for the great questions regarding man himself. Love wants to know better the one it loves. Love, true love, does not make one blind but seeing. Part of it is a thirst for knowledge, true knowledge of the other. Because of this, the Fathers of the Church found precursors and forerunners of Christianity -- outside the world of revelation to Israel -- not in the ambit of conventional religion, but in men searching for God, searching for truth, in the "philosophers": in persons who were thirsting for truth and hence were on the path to God.

When there is not this use of reason, then the great questions of humanity fall outside the ambit of reason and are left to irrationality. Because of this authentic theology is so important. Right faith orients reason to its openness to the divine, so that, guided by love for the truth, it can know God more closely. The initiative for this path is with God who has put in man's heart the search for his Face. Hence, part of theology, on one hand, is humility that lets itself be "touched" by God, and on the other hand, discipline that is linked to the order of reason, which preserves love from blindness and which helps to develop its strength for seeing.

I am well aware that with all this an answer has not been given to the question about the possibility and the task of correct theology. Only the greatness of the challenge innate in the nature of theology has been held up for consideration. However, it is precisely this challenge that man needs, because it pushes us to open our reason, asking ourselves about truth itself, about the face of God. That is why we are grateful to the prize winners who have shown in their work that reason, walking on the path traced by faith, is not an alienated reason but is reason that responds to its very lofty vocation. Thank you.

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Papal Address to Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
"Loyalty, Coherence and Profound Humanity Are the Essential Virtues of Any Envoy"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 13, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday upon receiving in audience members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. The academy is responsible for training candidates for the Holy See diplomatic service.

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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Priests,

I am happy to meet again this year with the students and community of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. I extend my greetings to the president, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, and I thank him for the kind words with which he communicated your sentiments. I greet you all affectionately, who are preparing to exercise a particular ministry in the Church.

Pontifical diplomacy, as it is commonly called, has a very long tradition and its activities have contributed in no small part to shaping the very face of modern diplomatic relations between States. In the traditional conception, already found in the ancient world, the envoy -- the ambassador -- is essentially the one appointed to bear in an authoritative manner the word of the sovereign, and subsequently, can act as his representative and negotiate in his name. The solemnity of the ceremony, the honors rendered traditionally to the person of the envoy, which have also assumed a religious character, are in reality a tribute to the representative, and to the message he relays. On the part of a sovereign authority, respect for the envoy is one of the highest forms of recognizing the right of others to exist on a plane of equal dignity.

Hence, to receive an envoy as interlocutor, to receive the word, means to lay the foundation for the possibility of a peaceful coexistence. It is a delicate role that exacts, on the part of the envoy, the capacity to communicate the message in such as way so that it is at the same time faithful and as respectful as possible of the sensitivities and opinions of others, and effective. Herein lies the real skill of the diplomat, and not in the astuteness or other behaviors that represent above all the degeneration of the diplomatic practice. Loyalty, coherence and profound humanity are the essential virtues of any envoy, who is called to put not only his own work and qualities, but in some way, his entire self at the service of a word that is not his.

The rapid transformations of our age have profoundly reconfigured the figure and role of diplomatic representatives; however, their mission is the same: that of being the means of a correct communication among those who exercise the function of government and, consequently, instrument of construction of the communion possible between peoples and of the consolidation among them of peaceful and solidaristic relations.

In all this, how is the person and action of the Holy See diplomat placed, who obviously presents totally particular aspects? As has been pointed out many times, he is a priest first, a bishop. Hence, a man who has chosen to live at the service of a Word that is not his own. In fact, he is a servant of the Word of God who, like every priest, has received a mission that cannot be carried out part time but that requires him to be, with his entire life, an echo of the message that has been entrusted to him, the Gospel message. It is precisely on the basis of this priestly identity, very clearly and deeply lived, that one is called to adopt, with a certain naturalness, this specific task of being the bearer of the word of the Pope; called to bring the universal horizon of his ministry and his pastoral charity to the particular churches and the institutions in which his sovereignty is legitimately exercised in the state sphere or that of international organizations.

In the exercise of such a delicate ministry, the care of one's own spiritual life, the practice of human virtues, and the formation of a solid culture are interwoven and mutually sustained. They are dimensions that allow one to maintain a deep inner balance in a work that requires, among other things, the capacity of openness to others, an equanimity of judgment, a critical distance from personal opinions, sacrifice, patience, constancy, and, at times, even firmness in the dialogue with others.

Moreover, service to the person of the Successor of Peter, whom Christ constituted as principle and perpetual and visible foundation of the unity of the faith and of communion (cf. Vatican Council I, "Pastor Aeternus," Denz. 1821 (3051); Vatican Council II, "Lumen Gentium," No. 18), allows one to live in constant and profound reference to the catholicity of the Church. Where there is openness to the objectivity of catholicity, there also exists a principle of true personalization: a life dedicated to the service of the Pope and ecclesial communion is, in this sense, extremely enriching.

Dear students of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, in sharing these thoughts with you, I exhort you to commit yourselves totally to the path of your formation; and, at this moment, I remember, with particular gratitude, the nuncios, apostolic delegates, permanent observers and all those who lend their service in the Pontifical representations scattered throughout the world. I willingly impart to you, to the president, to his collaborators and to the community of the Franciscan Missionaries of the Child Jesus, the apostolic blessing.

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Pope's Letter to Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music
"The Glory of God and the Sanctification of the Faithful"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 31, 2011 - Here is a translation of the letter Benedict XVI addressed to the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music on the occasion of the centenary of its foundation, which was made public today by the Holy See.

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To the Venerable Brother

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski

Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music

One hundred years have gone by since my holy predecessor Pius X founded the Higher School of Sacred Music, elevated to Pontifical Institute after twenty years by Pope Pius XI. This important event is a reason for joy for all the cultivators of sacred music, but more in general for all those, beginning of course with the pastors of the Church, who give weight to the importance of the Liturgy, of which sacred singing is an integral part (cf. Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 112). Hence, I am particularly happy to express my sincere congratulations for this event and to formulate to you, venerable brother, to the director and to all the community of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music my cordial wishes.

This institute, which depends on the Holy See, forms part of the singular academic reality constituted by the Pontifical Roman Universities. In a special way, it is linked to the St. Anselm Athenaeum and to the Benedictine Order, as attested also by the fact that its didactic headquarters are located, since 1983, in the abbey of St. Jerome in Urbe, whereas the legal and historical headquarters continue to be in Sant'Apollinare. On celebrating the centenary, my thought goes to all those -- and only the Lord knows them perfectly -- who cooperated in some way in the activity of the Higher School, before and after the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music: from the Superiors who succeeded one another in its direction, to the illustrious professors, to the generations of pupils. Added to the thanksgiving to God for the many gifts granted is the recognition of all that each one has given the Church, cultivating musical art at the service of divine worship.

To understand clearly the identity and mission of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music, it is opportune to recall that Pope Saint Pius X founded it eight years after having issued the Motu Proprio Tra le sollecitudini, of Nov. 22, 1903, with which he carried out a profound reform in the field of sacred music, returning to the great tradition of the Church against the influences exercised by profane music, especially operatic. This masterful intervention needed, for its realization in the universal Church, a center of study and teaching that could transmit, in a faithful and qualified way, the lines indicated by the Supreme Pontiff, in keeping with the authentic and glorious tradition that goes back to St. Gregory the Great. Hence, in the span of the last one hundred years, this institution has assimilated, elaborated and transmitted the doctrinal and pastoral contents of the Pontifical Documents, as well as of Vatican Council II, concerning sacred music, so that they can illumine and guide the work of composers, of chapel maestros, of liturgists, of musicians and of all formators in this field.

In this connection, I wish to highlight a fundamental aspect that is particularly dear to me: how the essential continuity of the teaching on sacred music in the Liturgy has been perceived since St. Pius X up til today, despite the natural evolution. In particular, the Pontiffs Paul VI and John Paul II, in the light of the conciliar constitution "Sacrosanctum Concilium," wished to reaffirm the end of sacred music, namely, "the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful" (No. 112), and the fundamental criteria of Tradition, which I limit myself to recall: the sense of prayer, of dignity and of beauty; the full adherence to the texts and to the liturgical gestures; the involvement of the assembly and, finally, the legitimate adaptation to the local culture, preserving at the same time the universality of the language; the primacy of Gregorian chant, as supreme model of sacred music, and the wise appreciation of the other expressive forms which form part of the historical-liturgical patrimony of the Church, especially but not only, polyphony; the importance of the "schola cantorum," in particular in the cathedral churches. They are important criteria, which must be considered carefully also today.

At times, in fact, these elements, which are found in "Sacrosanctum Concilium," such as, in fact, the value of the great ecclesial patrimony of sacred music or the universality that is characteristic of Gregorian chant, were considered expressions of a conception that responded to a past to be overcome and neglected, because it limited the liberty and creativity of the individual and the communities. However, we must always ask ourselves again: Who is the authentic subject of the liturgy? The answer is simple: the Church. Not the individual or the group that celebrates the liturgy, it is first of all the action of God through the Church, which has her history, her rich tradition and her creativity.

The liturgy, and consequently sacred music, "lives from a correct and constant relation between healthy 'traditio' and legitimate 'progressio,'" keeping very present that these two concepts -- that the conciliar Fathers clearly underscore -- integrate mutually because "tradition is a living reality that, because of this, includes in itself the principle of development, of progress" (Address to the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, May 6, 2011).

All this, venerable Brother, forms, so to speak, the "daily bread" of the life and work of the Pontifical Institute of Sacred Music. On the basis of these solid and sure elements, to which are added an age-old experience, I encouraged you to carry on with renewed impetus and commitment your service in the professional formation of the students, so that they acquire a serious and profound competency in the different disciplines of sacred music. Thus, this Pontifical Institute will continue to offer a valid contribution for the formation, in this field, of the pastors and lay faithful in the different particular Churches, fostering also an adequate discernment of the quality of the musical compositions used in liturgical celebrations. For these important ends you can count on my constant solicitude, supported by a particular remembrance in prayer, which a entrust to the heavenly intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Cecilia, while wishing copious fruits from the centenary celebrations, I impart from my heart to you, to the director, to the professors, to the staff and to all the pupils of the Institute a special Apostolic Blessing.

In the Vatican, May 13, 2011

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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Papal Address to New Council on Evangelization
"To Proclaim Jesus Christ ... Seems More Complex Today"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 30, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization, who are concluding the council's first plenary assembly.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When last June 28, at First Vespers of the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, I announced that I wished to institute a dicastery for promoting the New Evangelization, I gave an operative beginning to a reflection that I had had for a long time on the need to offer a concrete answer to the moment of crisis in Christian life, which is being verified in so many countries, above all those of ancient Christian tradition. Today, with this meeting, I can see with pleasure that this new pontifical council has become a reality. I thank Archbishop Salvatore Fisichella for the words he addressed to me, introducing me to the work of your first plenary assembly. My warm greetings to all of you with my encouragement for the contribution you will make to the work of the new dicastery, above all in view of the 13th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that, in October of 2012, will in fact address the topic "New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith."

The term "New Evangelization" speaks of the need for a renewed method of proclamation, especially for those who live in a context, such as the present one, in which the developments of secularization have left heavy traces even in countries with a Christian tradition. The Gospel is the ever new proclamation of the salvation wrought by Christ to render humanity a participant in the mystery of God and in his life of love and to open it to a future of sure and strong hope. To underscore that at this moment in the history of the Church she is called to carry out a New Evangelization, means intensifying missionary action to correspond fully with the Lord's mandate. The Second Vatican Council reminded that "the groups among which the Church dwells are often radically changed, for one reason or other, so that an entirely new set of circumstances may arise" (Decree Ad Gentes, 6). With farsighted understanding, the Conciliar Fathers saw on the horizon the cultural change that today is easily verifiable. Precisely this changed situation, which has created an unexpected situation for believers, requires particular attention to the proclamation of the Gospel, to give the reason for one's faith in situations that are different from the past.

The crisis being experienced bears in itself traces of the exclusion of God from people's lives, of a generalized indifference toward the Christian faith itself, to the point of attempting to marginalize it from public life. In past decades it was still possible to discover a general Christian sense that unified the common feeling of whole generations, growing up in the shadow of the faith that had molded the culture.

Today, unfortunately, we are witnessing the drama of a fragmentation that no longer consents to a unified point of reference; moreover, we often see the phenomenon of persons who wish to belong to the Church, but are strongly molded by a vision of life that opposes the faith.

To proclaim Jesus Christ the only Savior of the world seems more complex today than in the past; but our task remains the same as at the dawn of our history. The mission has not changed, just as the enthusiasm and the courage that moved the Apostles and the first disciples must not change. The Holy Spirit who pushed them to open the doors of the Cenacle, making them into evangelizers (cf. Acts 2:1-4), is the same Spirit that moves the Church today in a renewed proclamation of hope to the men of our time. St. Augustine said that one must not think that the grace of evangelization was extended only to the Apostles and with them that source of grace was exhausted, but that "this source manifests itself when it flows, not when it ceases to be poured out. And it was in this way that, through the Apostles, grace also reached others, who were sent to proclaim the Gospel ... what is more, it has continued to call, up to these last days, the whole body of his only-begotten Son, namely, his Church spread throughout the earth" (Sermon 239, 1). The grace of the mission is always in need of new evangelizers capable of receiving it, so that the salvific proclamation of the Word of God will never diminish in the changing conditions of history.

A dynamic continuity exists between the proclamation of the first disciples and our own. In the course of the centuries the Church has never ceased to proclaim the salvific mystery of the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, but that same proclamation today needs a renewed vigor to convince contemporary man, often distracted and insensitive. Because of this, the New Evangelization will have to be responsible for finding the methods to make the proclamation of salvation more effective, without which personal existence remains in its state of contradiction, deprived of the essential.

Even in one who remains linked to his Christian roots, but lives the difficult relationship with modernity, it is important to make it understood that being Christian is not a sort of uniform to wear in private or on particular occasions, but is something alive and all-encompassing, able to take up all that is good in modernity.

I hope that in the work of these days you will be able to delineate a plan able to help the whole Church and the various particular Churches, in a commitment to the New Evangelization; a plan where the urgency for a renewed proclamation will take care of formation, in particular for the new generations, and be combined with a proposal of concrete signs able to make evident the answer that the Church intends to offer in this peculiar moment. If, on one hand, the whole community is called to reinvigorate the missionary spirit to give the new proclamation that the men of our time await, it must not be forgotten that believers' style of life needs to be genuinely credible, convincing all the more when the life situations of those who see it is all the more dramatic. It is because of this that we wish to make our own the words of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI when, in regard to evangelization, he said: "It is therefore primarily by her conduct and by her life that the Church will evangelize the world, in other words, by her living witness of fidelity to the Lord Jesus -- the witness of poverty and detachment, of freedom in the face of the powers of this world, in short, the witness of sanctity" (Apostolic Exhortation "Evangelii Nuntiandi," 41).

Dear friends, invoking the intercession of Mary, Star of evangelization, so that she will accompany the bearers of the Gospel and open the hearts of those who listen, I assure you of my prayer for your ecclesial service and impart to all of you the apostolic blessing.

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Papal Words to Pontifical Missionary Societies
"New Problems and New Forms of Slavery ... Emerge in Our Time"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday in an audience with participants in the ordinary assembly of the High Council of the Pontifical Missionary Societies.

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Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood, dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would first of all like to address my cordial greetings to the new Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Archbishop Fernando Filoni, who I thank very much for the words he addressed to me on behalf of everyone.

To this I add my earnest wishes for a fruitful ministry. At the same time, I express deep gratitude to Cardinal Ivan Dias for his generous and exemplary service that he gave to the missionary Congregation and the universal Church over the years. May the Lord continue to lead with his light these faithful laborers in His vineyard.

I greet the Secretary Mgr. Savio Hon Tai-Fai, the Secretary Adjunct Mgr.Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, President of the Pontifical Mission Societies, the National Directors and staff of the Congregation of the Pontifical Mission Societies, convened in Rome from the various particular Churches for the Annual Ordinary Assembly Meeting of the Superior Council. A warm welcome to all.

Dear friends, with your valuable work of missionary animation and cooperation to the People of God "the necessity for our time is a firm commitment to the mission ad gentes" ("Verbum Domini," No. 95), to announce the "big Hope," "the God who has a human face and who loved us to the end, each person and mankind as a whole" ("Spe Salvi," No. 31). New problems and new forms of slavery, in fact, emerge in our time, both in the so-called first world, wealthy and rich but uncertain about its future, both in emerging countries, where, even as a result of globalization often characterized by profit, they end up increasing the poor masses, the immigrants and the oppressed, in which dims the light of hope. The Church must constantly renew its commitment to bring Christ, to prolong his messianic mission for the coming of the Kingdom of God, Kingdom of justice, peace, freedom, love.

To transform the world according to God's plan with the renewing power of the Gospel, "so that God may be all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:28) is the task of all the People of God. Therefore it is necessary to continue to work with renewed enthusiasm the mission of evangelization, the joyful proclamation of the Kingdom of God, came to Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit to lead people to true freedom of God's children against all forms of slavery. It is necessary to cast the nets of the Gospel in the sea of history so as to lead people to the Land of God

"The mission of proclaiming the Word of God is the duty of all disciples of Christ, as a result of their baptism" ("Verbum Domini," No. 94). But for there to be a strong commitment to evangelization, it is necessary that both individual Christians as the communities really believe that "the Word of God is the saving truth of which every man in every time needs" (ibid., No. 95). If this conviction of faith is not deeply rooted in our lives, we will not be able to feel the passion and beauty to announce it. In fact, every Christian should do his work for the urgency of building the kingdom of God. Everything in the Church is all in the service of evangelization: every sector of its activity and every person, in the various tasks they are called to carry out. Everyone must be involved in the missio ad gentes: Bishops, priests, religious and laity. "No believer in Christ can feel a stranger to this responsibility that comes from belonging to the sacramental Body of Christ" (ibid., No. 94). Therefore special attention must be paid to ensure that all areas of pastoral care, catechesis, charity are characterized by the missionary dimension: the Church is mission.

A fundamental condition for preaching is to completely allow yourself to be grabbed by Christ, the Word of God incarnated, because only those who listen attentively to the Word made flesh, who is closely united with him, may become preachers (cf. ibid., Nos. 51, 91). The messenger of the Gospel must remain under the rule of the Word and must feed himself from the Sacraments: this is the lifeblood that his existence depend on and his missionary ministry depend on. Only deeply rooted in Christ and his Word one is able not to fall in temptation to reduce evangelization to a purely human, social project , hiding or concealing the transcendent dimension of salvation offered by God in Christ. It is a word that should be witnessed and proclaimed explicitly, because without consistent witness it is less understandable and believable. Even if we often feel inadequate, poor, unable, we must retain confidence in the power of God, who puts his treasure “in jars of clay” because it is He who appears to act through us.

The ministry of evangelization is exciting and demanding: it requires love for the proclamation and witness, a love so complete that it can also be marked by martyrdom. The Church cannot fail in its mission to bring the light of Christ, to proclaim the glad tidings of the Gospel, even if it means persecution (cf. "Verbum Domini," No. 95). It is part of its own life, as it was for Jesus, Christians must not be afraid, even if "they are currently the religious group that suffers the greatest number of persecutions because of their faith" (Message for the World Day of Peace 2011, No. 1). St. Paul says “I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8.38-39).

Dear friends, thank you for the work of missionary animation and formation that the National Directors of the Pontifical Mission Societies carry out in your local Churches. The Pontifical Mission Societies, which my predecessors and the Second Vatican Council promoted and encouraged (cf. "Ad Gentes," No. 38) remain a preferred means of missionary cooperation and successful sharing of personnel and financial resources between the Churches. But neither should we forget the support that the Pontifical Mission societies offer to the Pontifical Colleges, here in Rome, where priests, religious and laity are formed and are chosen and sent by their Bishops, for the local Churches in mission territories.

Your work is valuable for the edification of the Church, destined to become the "common house" of all humanity. May the Holy Spirit, the protagonist of the Mission, guide us and sustain us always, through the intercession of Mary, Star of Evangelization and Queen of the Apostles. To all of you and your staff I cordially give you my Apostolic Blessing.

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Pope's Message to Biblical Commission
"Inspiration and Truth as Two Key Concepts"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2011 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal William Levada, president of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, for the group's annual plenary assembly.

The message is dated Monday and deals with inspiration and truth in the Bible.

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To Venerable Brother
Lord Cardinal William Levada
President of the Pontifical Biblical Commission
I am pleased to send you, the secretary and all the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission my cordial greeting on the occasion of this annual plenary assembly. The commission gathers for the third time to reflect on the topic entrusted to it: "Inspiration and Truth of the Bible."

This topic constitutes one of the main points of my postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," which treats it in the first part (cf. No. 19). I wrote in this document: "A key concept for understanding the sacred text as the word of God in human words is certainly that of inspiration." It is precisely inspiration, as the action of God that makes it possible to express the Word of God in human words. Consequently, the subject of inspiration is "decisive for an adequate approach to the Scriptures and their correct interpretation" (ibid.). In fact, an interpretation of the sacred writings that neglects or forgets their inspiration does not take into account their most important and valuable characteristic, their provenance from God.

Such an interpretation does not allow one to access the Word of God, and loses, therefore, the inestimable treasure that sacred Scripture contains for us. This kind of approach is concerned with merely human words, although they might be, in various ways according to diverse writings, words of extraordinary depth and beauty. The discussion on inspiration deals with the profound nature and decisive and distinctive meaning of sacred Scripture, namely, its quality as Word of God.

In the same apostolic exhortation, moreover, I reminded that "the Synod Fathers also stressed the link between the theme of inspiration and that of the truth of the Scriptures. A deeper study of the process of inspiration will doubtless lead to a greater understanding of the truth contained in the sacred books" (ibid.).

According to the conciliar constitution "Dei Verbum," God addresses his word to us to "to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (cf. Ephesians 1:9)" (No. 2). Through his Word, God wills to communicate to us all the truth about himself and about the plan of salvation for humanity. The commitment to discover ever more the truth of the Sacred Books is equivalent therefore to seeking to know God more and more, and the mystery of his salvific will.

"Theological reflection has always considered inspiration and truth as two key concepts for an ecclesial hermeneutic of the sacred Scriptures. Nonetheless, one must acknowledge the need today for a fuller and more adequate study of these realities, in order better to respond to the need to interpret the sacred texts in accordance with their nature" (Verbum Domini, No. 19.).

In addressing the subject "Inspiration and Truth of the Bible," the Pontifical Biblical Commission is called to offer its specific and qualified contribution to this necessary study. In fact, it is essential and fundamental for the life and mission of the Church that the Sacred Texts be interpreted according to their nature: Inspiration and Truth are constitutive characteristics of this nature. That is why your commitment will have real usefulness for the life and mission of the Church.

Finally, I would like to refer to the fact that for a good interpretation, it is not possible to apply in a mechanical way the criterion of inspiration, nor that of absolute truth, extrapolating a single phrase or expression. The context in which it is possible to perceive holy Scripture as the Word of God is that of the unity of the history of God, in a totality in which individual elements are mutually illumined and opened to understanding.

In wishing each one of you a fruitful pursuit of your works, I would like finally to manifest my heartfelt appreciation for the work carried out by the Biblical Commission to promote the knowledge, study, and reception of the Word of God in the world. With these sentiments I entrust each one of you to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, who with all the Church we invoke as Sedes Sapientiae, and from my heart I impart to you, Venerable Brother, and to all the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, May 2, 2011
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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Pope's Message to Social Sciences Academy
"The Roots of the West’s Christian Culture Remain Deep"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2011 - Here is the message that Benedict XVI sent April 29 to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, on the occasion of the academy's 17th plenary session.

The April 29-May 3 session focused on the theme "Universal Rights in a World of Diversity: the Case of Religious Freedom."

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To Her Excellency Professor Mary Ann Glendon
President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

I am pleased to greet you and the members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences as you hold your seventeenth plenary session on the theme of Universal Rights in a World of Diversity: the Case of Religious Freedom.

As I have observed on various occasions, the roots of the West’s Christian culture remain deep; it was that culture which gave life and space to religious freedom and continues to nourish the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of religion and freedom of worship that many peoples enjoy today. Due in no small part to their systematic denial by atheistic regimes of the twentieth century, these freedoms were acknowledged and enshrined by the international community in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Today these basic human rights are again under threat from attitudes and ideologies which would impede free religious expression. Consequently, the challenge to defend and promote the right to freedom of religion and freedom of worship must be taken up once more in our days. For this reason, I am grateful to the Academy for its contribution to this debate.

Deeply inscribed in our human nature are a yearning for truth and meaning and an openness to the transcendent; we are prompted by our nature to pursue questions of the greatest importance to our existence. Many centuries ago, Tertullian coined the term libertas religionis (cf. Apologeticum, 24:6). He emphasized that God must be worshipped freely, and that it is in the nature of religion not to admit coercion, "nec religionis est cogere religionem" (Ad Scapulam, 2:2). Since man enjoys the capacity for a free personal choice in truth, and since God expects of man a free response to his call, the right to religious freedom should be viewed as innate to the fundamental dignity of every human person, in keeping with the innate openness of the human heart to God. In fact, authentic freedom of religion will permit the human person to attain fulfilment and will thus contribute to the common good of society.

Aware of the developments in culture and society, the Second Vatican Council proposed a renewed anthropological foundation to religious freedom. The Council Fathers stated that all people are "impelled by nature and also bound by our moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth" (Dignitatis Humanae, 2). The truth sets us free (cf. Jn 8:32), and it is this same truth that must be sought and assumed freely. The Council was careful to clarify that this freedom is a right which each person enjoys naturally and which therefore ought also to be protected and fostered by civil law.

Of course, every state has a sovereign right to promulgate its own legislation and will express different attitudes to religion in law. So it is that there are some states which allow broad religious freedom in our understanding of the term, while others restrict it for a variety of reasons, including mistrust for religion itself. The Holy See continues to appeal for the recognition of the fundamental human right to religious freedom on the part of all states, and calls on them to respect, and if need be protect, religious minorities who, though bound by a different faith from the majority around them, aspire to live with their fellow citizens peacefully and to participate fully in the civil and political life of the nation, to the benefit of all.

Finally, let me express my sincere hope that your expertise in the fields of law, political science, sociology and economics will converge in these days to bring about fresh insights on this important question and thus bear much fruit now and into the future. During this holy season, I invoke upon you an abundance of Easter joy and peace, and I willingly impart to you, to Bishop Sánchez Sorondo and to all the members of the Academy my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 29 April 2011

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Benedict XVI's to Latin America Commission
"Faith Must Be the Main Source of Popular Piety"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 8, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience a group of participants from the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

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Esteemed Cardinals,
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

1. I greet affectionately the advisers and members of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, who have gathered in Rome for their plenary assembly. I greet in a special way Cardinal Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the aforementioned pontifical commission, thanking him heartily for the words he addressed to me on behalf of all to present to me the results of these days of study and reflection.

2. The theme chosen for this meeting, "Impact of Popular Piety on the Process of Evangelization in Latin America," addresses directly one of the most important aspects of the missionary task in which the particular churches of that great Latin American continent are committed. The bishops who met in Aparecida for the 5th General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean episcopate, which I had the pleasure of opening on my trip to Brazil in May 2007, present popular piety as a way of encounter with Jesus Christ and a way of expressing the faith of the Church. Hence, it cannot be considered as something secondary in Christian life, as that "would be to forget the primacy of the action of the Spirit and the gratuitous initiative of the love of God" (Final Document, No. 263).

This simple expression of faith has its roots in the very beginning of the evangelization of those lands. In fact, to the degree that the saving message of Christ was illumined and animated by their cultures, the rich and profound popular religiosity was gradually woven that characterizes the living of the faith of the Latin American peoples, which, as I said in the opening address of the Conference of Aparecida, constitutes "the precious treasure of the Catholic Church in Latin America, and that she must protect, promote and, in so far as necessary, also purify" (No. 1).

3. To carry out the new evangelization in Latin America, in a process that permeates the whole being and work of the Christian, the many demonstrations of popular piety cannot be put to one side. All of them, well channeled and duly supported, propitiate a fruitful encounter with God, an intense veneration of the Most Blessed Sacrament, a profound devotion to the Virgin Mary, a cultivation of affection for the Successor of Peter and an awareness of belonging to the Church. May all this serve also to evangelize, to communicate the faith, to bring the faithful to the sacraments, to strengthen the bonds of friendship and family and community union, as well as to increase solidarity and the exercise of charity.

Consequently, faith must be the main source of popular piety so that it will not be reduced to a simple cultural expression of a specific region. More than that, it must be in close relationship with the sacred liturgy, which cannot be substituted by any other religious expression. In this respect, it cannot be forgotten, as the "Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy" affirmed, published by the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, that "liturgy and popular piety are two expressions of worship which must be in mutual and fruitful relationship: in any case, the Liturgy must constitute the point of reference to 'channel with lucidity and prudence the longings of prayer and of charismatic life' that appear in popular piety; for its part popular piety, with its symbolic and expressive values, can contribute some references to the liturgy for a true inculturation, and stimuli for an effective creative dynamism" (No. 58).

4. Found in popular piety are many expressions of faith connected to the great celebrations of the liturgical year, in which the simple peoples of Latin America reaffirm the love they feel for Jesus Christ, in whom they find the manifestation of God's closeness, of his compassion and mercy. Innumerable are the shrines that are dedicated to the contemplation of the mysteries of the childhood, passion, death and resurrection of the Lord, and to them multitudes of persons go to place in his divine hands their sorrows and joys, praying at the same time for copious graces and imploring forgiveness of their sins. Profoundly united to Jesus is also the devotion of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean to the Most Holy Virgin Mary. She, from the dawn of evangelization, accompanies the children of that continent and is for them inexhaustible source of hope. That is why, they take recourse to her as Mother of the Savior, to feel constantly her loving protection under different names. In the same way, the saints are held as luminous stars that surround the heart of numerous faithful of those countries, edifying them with their example and protecting them with their intercession.

5. It cannot be denied, however, that certain deviated forms exist of popular religiosity that, far from fomenting an active participation in the Church, create instead confusion and can foster a merely exterior religious practice detached from a well-rooted and interior living faith. In this respect, I would like to recall here what I wrote to seminarians last year: "Popular piety can incline toward the irrational and perhaps also remain on the outside. However, to exclude it is completely erroneous. Through it, faith has entered into men's heart, forming part of their sentiments, customs, feeling and common living. That is why, popular piety is a great patrimony of the Church. Faith has become flesh and blood. Popular piety must certainly always be purified and point to the center, but it merits all our appreciation and makes us integrate ourselves fully in the 'People of God'" (Letter to Seminarians, Oct. 18, 2010, No. 4).

6. During the meetings I have had in these last years, on the occasion of their "ad limina" visits, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean have always referred to me what they are doing in their respective ecclesiastical circumscriptions to initiate and encourage the Continental Mission, with which the Latin American episcopate has wished to re-launch the process of new evangelization after Aparecida, inviting all the members of the Church to put themselves in a permanent state of mission. It is an option of great transcendence, as the desire is to return to a fundamental aspect of the work of the Church, namely, to give primacy to the Word of God so that it will be the permanent nourishment of Christian life and the pivot of all pastoral action.

This encounter with the divine Word must lead to a profound change of life, to a radical identification with the Lord and his Gospel, to become fully aware that it is necessary to be solidly cemented in Christ, acknowledging that "one does not begin to be Christian because of an ethical decision or a great idea, but because of the encounter with an event, with a Person, who gives a new horizon to life and, with it, a decisive orientation" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1).

In this connection, I am pleased to know that in Latin America the practice of "lectio divina" has been growing in the parishes and in small ecclesial communities, as an ordinary way to nourish prayer and, in that way, give solidity to the spiritual life of the faithful, given that "in the words of the Bible, popular piety will find an inexhaustible source of inspiration, unsurpassable models of prayer and fruitful proposals of different topics" (Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, No. 87).

7. Dear brothers, I thank you for your valuable contributions geared to protect, promote and purify all that is related to the expressions of popular religiosity in Latin America. Of great value to achieve this objective, will be to continue stimulating the Continental Mission, in which particular space must be given to all that refers to this pastoral realm, which constitutes a privileged way for the faith to be received in the heart of the people, touch the most profound sentiments of persons and manifest itself vigorous and operative through charity (cf. G a 5, 6).

8. On concluding this joyful meeting, while I invoke the sweet name of Mary Most Holy, perfect disciple and pedagogue of evangelization, I impart to you from my heart the apostolic blessing, pledge of the divine benevolence.

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Papal Address on Sacrament of Reconciliation
"How Many Conversions ... Began in a Confessional"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 2, 2011 - Here is a L'Osservatore Romano translation of Benedict XVI's March 25 address to participants in a course on the internal forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

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Dear Friends,

I am very glad to address to each one of you my most cordial welcome. I greet Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, Major Penitentiary, and I thank him for his courteous words. I greet Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Penitentiary, the personnel, the co-workers and all the participants in the Course on the Internal Forum which has now become a traditional appointment and an important occasion for deepening the knowledge of topics linked to the sacrament of Penance. I would like to reflect with you on an aspect not sufficiently thought about but which is of great spiritual and pastoral importance: the pedagogical value of Sacramental Confession.

Although it is true that it is always necessary to safeguard the objectivity of the effects of the sacrament and its correct celebration in accordance with the norms of the Rite of Penance, it is not out of place to reflect on how much it can educate the faith of both the minister and the penitent. The faithful and generous availability of priests to hear confessions - after the example of the great saints of the past from St John Mary Vianney to St John Bosco, from St Josemaría Escrivá to St Pius of Pietrelcina, from St Joseph Cafasso to St Leopold Mandi - shows all of us that the confessional may be a real "place" of sanctification.

How does the sacrament of Penance educate? In what sense does its celebration have pedagogical value, especially for ministers? We may start by recognizing that the mission of priests is a unique and privileged observation point, from which it is daily granted to contemplate the splendour of divine Mercy. How often in celebrating the sacrament of Penance the priest witnesses real miracles of conversion which, in renewing "the encounter with an event, a person" (Deus Caritas Est, n. 1), reinforces his own faith! Basically, hearing confession means witnessing as many professiones fidei as there are penitents, and contemplating the merciful God's action in history, feeling tangibly the saving effects of the Cross and of the Resurrection of Christ, in every epoch and for every person.

We are often faced with true and proper existential and spiritual dramas that find no answer in human words but are embraced and taken up by divine Love, which pardons and transforms: "though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow (Is 1:18).

If, on the one hand knowing and, in a certain way, visiting the depths of the human heart, even its darkest aspects, tests the humanity and the faith of the priest himself, on the other, it fosters within him the certainty that it is God who has the last word over human evil and history, it is his Mercy which can make all things new (cf. Rev 21:5).

Then, how much the priest can learn from exemplary penitents: through their spiritual life, the seriousness with which they carry out their examination of conscience, the transparency with which they admit their sins and their docility to the Church's teaching and to the confessor's instructions.

From the administration of the sacrament of Penance we may draw profound lessons of humility and faith! It is a very strong appeal to each priest for knowledge of his own identity. We will never be able to hear the confessions of our brothers and sisters solely by virtue of our humanity! If they approach us, it is only because we are priests, configured to Christ the Eternal High Priest, and enabled to act in his Name and in his Person, to make God who forgives, renews and transforms, truly present. The celebration of the sacrament of Penance has a pedagogical value for the priest, as regards his faith, as well as the truth and poverty of his person, and nourishes within him an awareness of the sacramental identity.

What is the pedagogical value of the sacrament of Penance for penitents? We should state beforehand that first and foremost it depends on the action of Grace and on the objective effect on the soul of the member of the faithful. Of course, sacramental Reconciliation is one of the moments in which personal freedom and an awareness of self need to be expressed particularly clearly. It is perhaps also for this reason, in an epoch of relativism and of the consequent attenuated awareness of one's being, that this sacramental practice is also weakened.

Examination of conscience has an important pedagogical value. It teaches us how to look squarely at our life, to compare it with the truth of the Gospel and to evaluate it with parameters that are not only human but are also borrowed from divine Revelation. Comparison with the Commandments, with the Beatitudes and, especially, with the Precept of love, constitutes the first great "school of penance".

In our time, marked by noise, distraction and loneliness, the penitent's conversation with the confessor can be one of the few - if not the only - opportunities to be truly heard in depth.

Dear priests, do not neglect to allow enough room for the exercise of the ministry of Penance in the confessional: to be welcomed and heard is also a human sign of God's welcoming kindness to his children. Moreover the integral confession of sins teaches the penitent humility, recognition of his or her own frailty and, at the same time, an awareness of the need for God's forgiveness and the trust that divine Grace can transform his life. Likewise, listening to the confessor's recommendations and advice is important for judging actions, for the spiritual journey and for the inner healing of the penitent.

Let us not forget how many conversions and how many truly holy lives began in a confessional! The acceptance of the penance and listening to the words "I absolve you from your sins", are, lastly, a true school of love and hope that guides the person to full trust in the God Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, to responsibility and to the commitment to continuous conversion.

Dear priests, our own prior experience of divine Mercy and of being humble instruments teaches us an ever more faithful celebration of the Sacrament of Penance and profound gratitude to God who "gave us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor 5:18).

I entrust to the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mater misericordiae and Refugium peccatorum, the fruits of your Course on the Internal Forum and the ministry of all Confessors, as I bless you all with great affection.

(©L'Osservatore Romano - 30 March 2011)

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Benedict XVI's Address to Social Council
"It Is Urgent to Reflect on the Languages Developed by New Technologies"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon addressing the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am happy to receive you on the occasion of the dicastery's plenary assembly. I greet the president, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, whom I thank for his courteous words, the secretaries, the officials and all the staff.

In this year's message for the World Day of Social Communications, I invited all to reflect on the fact that new technologies have not only changed the way of communicating, but are carrying out a vast cultural transformation. A new way of learning and thinking is being carried out, with unheard of opportunities to establish relationships and to build communion. I would now like to reflect on the fact that thought and relationship always occur in the form of language, understood of course in a general sense, not just verbal. Language is not a simple interchangeable and provisional coating of concepts, but the living and palpitating context in which the thoughts, concerns and projects of men are born to the conscience and are molded in gestures, symbols and words. Hence, man not only "uses," but in a certain way "inhabits" the language. In particular today, what the Second Vatican Council described as the marvelous technical inventions" ("Inter Mirifica," No. 1) are transforming the cultural environment, and this requires specific attention to the languages being developed in it. The new technologies "have the capacity to weigh not only on the forms, but also on the contents of thought" ("Aetatis Novae," No. 4).

The new languages being developed in digital communication determine, on the other hand, a more intuitive and emotive than analytical capacity, they orient toward a logical organization of thought and of the relationship with reality, often privileging the image and hyper-textual connections. Moreover, the clear traditional distinction between the written and oral language seems to vanish in favor of a written communication that takes the form and immediacy of oral communication. The dynamics proper to the "participatory networks" require, moreover, that the person be involved in what he communicates. When persons exchange information, they are already sharing themselves and their vision of the world: they become "witnesses" of what gives meaning to their existence. The risks that are run are certainly far from everyone's eyes: the loss of interiority, superficiality in living relationships, the flight to the emotive nature, the prevalence of the most convincing opinion in regard to the desire for truth. And with all this is the incapacity to live with fullness and authentically the meaning of the motivations. That is why it is urgent to reflect on the languages developed by new technologies. The point of departure is Revelation itself, which gives us testimony of how God communicated his wonders precisely in the language and the real experience of men, "according to the culture proper to each epoch" ("Gaudium et Spes," No. 58), up to the full manifestation of himself in the Incarnate Son. Faith always penetrates, enriches, exalts and vivifies culture and the latter, in turn, becomes a vehicle of faith, to which it offers the language to think and express itself. Hence, it is necessary to become attentive listeners of the languages of the men of our time, to be attentive to the work of God in the world.

In this context, important is the work carried out by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to deepen the "digital culture," stimulating and supporting reflection for a greater awareness of the challenges that await the ecclesial and civil community. It is not just about expressing the evangelical message in today's language, but of having the courage to think in a more profound way, as happened in other times, the relationship between faith, the life of the Church and the changes man is experiencing. It is a commitment to help those who have the responsibility in the Church to be able to understand, interpret and speak the "new language" of the media in their pastoral endeavor (cf. "Aetatis Novae," No. 2), in dialogue with the contemporary world, asking oneself: what challenges does so-called "digital thought" pose to faith and theology? What are the questions and requirements?

The world of communication is of interest to the whole cultural, social and spiritual universe of the human person. If the new languages have an impact on the way of thinking and living, they also affect, in some way, the world of faith, its intelligence and its expression. According to a classic definition, theology, understood as reflective and critical knowledge, is not foreign to cultural changes underway. The digital culture poses new challenges to our capacity to speak and to listen to a symbolic language that speaks of transcendence. In the proclamation of the Kingdom, Jesus himself was able to use the elements of the culture and the environment of his time: the flock, the fields, the banquet, the seeds, etc. Today we are called to discover, also in the digital culture, significant symbols and metaphors for persons, which can be of help when speaking of the Kingdom of God to contemporary man.

We must consider also that communication in the times of the "new means of communication" entails an ever narrower and ordinary relationship between man and machines, from computers to mobile telephones, to mention only the most common. What will be the effects of this constant relationship? Referring to the first projects of automation of the linguistic analysis of the biblical text, Pope Paul VI already indicated a path of reflection when he asked: is not this effort to infuse in mechanical instruments the reflection of spiritual functions, how a service is ennobled and elevated which touches the sacred? Is it the spirit that is made a prisoner of matter, or is it not, perhaps, matter, now tamed and obliged to follow laws of the spirit, the one that offers to the spirit itself a sublime homage?" (Address to the Automation Center of the Aloisianum of Gallarate, June 19, 1964). Intuited in these words is the profound bond with the spirit to which technology is called by vocation (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," No. 69).

It is precisely the appeal to spiritual values which will make it possible to promote a truly human communication: beyond all enthusiasm or easy skepticism, we know that this is an answer to the call imprinted on our nature of beings created in the image and likeness of God in communion. Because of this, biblical communication according to the will of God is always linked to dialogue and responsibility, as attested, for example, by the figures of Abraham, Moses, Job and the Prophets, and never to linguistic seduction, as is, instead, the case of the serpent, or of incommunicability and of violence, as in the case of Cain. Hence the contribution of believers could be of help for the world of the media itself, opening horizons of meaning and value that the digital culture is not capable to perceive and represent on its own.

In conclusion, I wish to recall, together with many other figures of communicators, that of Father Matteo Ricci, protagonist of the proclamation of the Gospel in China in the modern era, the fourth centenary of whose death we have observed. In his work of spreading the message of Christ he always considered the person, his cultural and philosophic context, his values, his language, taking up all that was positive that was found in his tradition, and offering to encourage and elevate him with the wisdom and truth of Christ.

Dear friends, I thank you for your service. I entrust it to the protection of the Virgin Mary and, assuring you of my prayer, I impart to you the Apostolic Blessing.

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Papal Address to Pontifical Academy for Life
"It Is Necessary That the Whole of Society Defend the Right to Life"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2011 - Here is translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience those who participated in the 17th general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

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Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I receive you with joy on the occasion of the annual assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. I greet, in particular, the president, Bishop Ignacio Carrasco de Paula, and I thank him for his courteous words. I address my cordial welcome to each one of you!

In the activities of these days you addressed topics of current importance, which question contemporary society profoundly and challenge it to find answers that are appropriate for the good of the human person. Post-abortion syndrome -- the serious psychological difficulties often felt by women who have taken recourse to voluntary abortion -- reveals the irrepressible voice of the moral conscience, and the grave wound it suffers each time that human action betrays the person’s innate vocation to good, and of which he gives witness.

It would be useful also in this reflection to focus attention on the conscience, at times blurred, of the fathers of the children, who often abandon pregnant women. The moral conscience -- teaches the Catechism of the Catholic Church -- "is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing, or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right" (No. 1778).

It is, in fact, the duty of the moral conscience to discern good from evil in the different situations of existence, in order that, on the basis of this judgment, the human being can orient himself towards the good. Many would like to deny the existence of the moral conscience in man, reducing its voice to the result of external conditioning or to a purely emotive phenomenon, and it is important to affirm that the moral quality of human action is not an extrinsic value or even optional and it is not even a prerogative of Christians or believers, but common to every human being. In the moral conscience, God speaks to each one and invites him to defend human life at all times. In this personal bond with the Creator lies the profound dignity of the moral conscience and the reason for its inviolability.

Fulfilled in the conscience of every man -- intelligence, emotive nature, will -- is his vocation to the good, so that the choice of good or evil in the concrete situations of existence ends by marking the human person profoundly in each expression of his being. The whole man, in fact, is wounded when his behavior is contrary to the dictate of his own conscience.

However, even when man rejects the true and the good that the Creator proposes to him, God does not abandon him, but through the voice of conscience, continues to seek and speak to him, so that he will acknowledge his error and open himself to Divine Mercy capable of healing any wound.

Doctors, in particular, cannot fail to consider important the grave duty to defend against the deception of the conscience of many women who think they will find in abortion the solution to family, economic, social difficulties or to the problems of health of their children. Especially in this last situation, the woman is convinced, often by the doctors themselves, that abortion represents not only a licit moral choice, but that in addition it is a necessary "therapeutic" act to avoid the suffering of the child and of its family and an "unjust" burden to society.

In a cultural background characterized by the eclipse of the meaning of life, in which the common perception of the moral gravity of abortion and of other forms of attempts against human life has been attenuated, exacted from doctors is a special fortitude to continue affirming that abortion does not resolve anything, but that it kills the child, destroys the woman and blinds the conscience of the child's father, often ruining family life.

This duty, however, does not only affect the medical profession or health professionals. It is necessary that the whole of society defend the right to life of the conceived and the true good of the woman, who never, under any circumstance, will be fulfilled in the choice of abortion. In the same way it is necessary -- as has been indicated in your works -- to provide the necessary help to women who sadly have already taken recourse to abortion, and who now experience all its moral and existential tragedy. There are many initiatives, at the diocesan level or through individual volunteer entities, which offer psychological and spiritual support for a complete human recovery. The solidarity of the Christian community cannot give up this type of co-responsibility.

I would like to recall, in this connection, the invitation addressed by the Venerable John Paul II to women who have taken recourse to abortion. "The Church is aware of the many factors which may have influenced your decision, and she does not doubt that in many cases it was a painful and even shattering decision. The wound in your heart may not yet have healed. Certainly what happened was and remains terribly wrong. But do not give in to discouragement and do not lose hope. Try rather to understand what happened and face it honestly. If you have not already done so, give yourselves over with humility and trust to repentance. The Father of mercies is ready to give you his forgiveness and his peace in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. To the same Father and his mercy you can with sure hope entrust your child. With the friendly and expert help and advice of other people, and as a result of your own painful experience, you can be among the most eloquent defenders of everyone's right to life" ("Evangelium Vitae," No. 99).

The moral conscience of researchers and of the whole of society is profoundly involved also in the second topic of your works: the use of umbilical cord banks for clinical and research purposes. Medical-scientific research is a value and, hence, a commitment, not only for researchers but for the whole civil community. The result is the duty to promote ethically valid research on the part of institutions, and the value of the solidarity of individuals in the participation of research directed to promote the common good.

This value, and the necessity of this solidarity, are very well evidenced in the case of the use of stem cells from the umbilical cord. They are important clinical applications and promising research at the scientific level, but for their realization many depend on the generosity, on the donation of blood of the cord at the moment of birth, on the part of the women who have just given birth. Hence, I invite all of you to be promoters of a true and conscious human and Christian solidarity. In this connection, many medical researchers rightly regard with perplexity the growing number of private storage banks of the blood of the cord for exclusive autologous use. Such an option -- as the works of your Assembly demonstrate -- in addition to lacking a real scientific superiority in relation to the donation of the cord, weakens the genuine spirit of solidarity which must constantly animate the search of that common good to which, in the last analysis, science and medical research tend.

Dear brothers and sisters, once again I express my gratitude to the president and to all the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life for the scientific and ethical courage with which you carry out your commitment to the service of the good of the human person. My hope is that you will maintain always alive the spirit of authentic service which makes hearts and minds sensitive to recognize the needs of the men who are our contemporaries. To each one of you and to your loved ones, I impart my heartfelt apostolic blessing.

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Papal Address to Apostolic Signature
Justice: "A Minimal Requirement and at the Same Time an Expectation of Charity"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered last Friday upon receiving in audience those taking part in the Plenary Assembly of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature.

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would like first of all to offer my cordial greeting to Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura, whom I thank for his address at the beginning of this Meeting. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops who are Members of the Supreme Tribunal, the Secretary, the Officials and all the co-workers who carry out their daily service in the Dicastery. I also extend a cordial greeting to the Referendaries and the Advocates. This is my first opportunity to meet the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura after the promulgation of the Lex propria [Proper Law], which I signed on 21 June 2008. It was precisely in the preparation of this law that there emerged the desire of the Members of the Signatura to devote a regular Congregatio plenaria [plenary assembly] -- in the form common to every Dicastery of the Roman Curia (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, 28 June 1988, art. 11; General Regulation of the Roman Curia [Regolamento Generale della Curia Romana], 30 April 1999, articles 112-117) -- to furthering the correct administration of justice in the Church (cf. Lex propria, art. 112). Indeed, this Tribunal's area of responsibility is not limited to the highest exercise of the judicial function, but also includes the duty, in the realm of executive governance, to exercise vigilance over the correct administration of justice in the community of the Church (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 121; Lex propria, art. 32).

Among other things, as the Lex propria points out, this entails maintaining an up-to-date body of information on the state and activity of the local tribunals by means of the annual report which each tribunal is bound to send to the Apostolic Signatura. It also involves the organization and elaboration of the data that comes from these reports; the identification of strategies for an appropriate use of human and institutional resources in the local tribunals, as well as the constant practice of communicating with the Bishop-Moderators of the diocesan and interdiocesan tribunals, who have direct responsibility, institutionally, for the administration of justice.

This is a coordinated and patient task which aims above all to provide for the faithful the correct, rapid and efficient administration of justice, as I requested with regard to causes of nullity of marriage in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis: "When legitimate doubts exist about the validity of the prior sacramental marriage, the necessary investigation must be carried out to establish if these are well-founded. Consequently there is a need to ensure, in full respect for canon law, the presence of local ecclesiastical tribunals, their pastoral character, and their correct and prompt functioning. Each diocese should have a sufficient number of persons with the necessary preparation, so that the ecclesiastical tribunals can operate in an expeditious manner. I repeat that 'it is a grave obligation to bring the Church's institutional activity in her tribunals ever closer to the faithful' " (n. 29). On that occasion I did not fail to refer to the Instruction Dignitas Connubii, which provides judges and the other ministers of tribunals with the necessary norms -- in the form of a vademecum -- so that causes of matrimonial nullity may be addressed and defined in the most rapid and reliable way.

The Apostolic Signatura carries out certain activities in order to ensure that ecclesiastical tribunals are present in the territory concerned and that their ministry is in line with the roper requirements of speed and simplicity to which the faithful are entitled in the treatment of their cases. According to its competence it encourages the establishment of interdiocesan tribunals, provides prudently for dispensing tribunal ministers from academic qualifications while carefully verifying their true expertise in substantive and procedural law, and grants the necessary dispensations from procedural laws when the exercise of justice requires in a specific case the relaxatio legis in order to achieve the purpose intended by the law. This also is an important work of understanding and application of procedural law.

However, vigilance over the correct administration of justice would be inadequate if it did not also entail the function of safeguarding correct jurisprudence (cf. Lex propria, art. 111, §1). The means for knowing and for intervening, which the Lex propria and its own institutional position provide to this Apostolic Signatura, permit it to act in a manner that, in synergy with the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (cf. Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 126), proves providential for the Church. The exhortations and prescriptions which this Apostolic Signatura includes in its responses to the annual reports of the local tribunals not infrequently recommend to the respective Bishop-Moderators knowledge of and adherence to not only the directives proposed in the Pope's annual Addresses to the Roman Rota, but also common Rotal jurisprudence regarding specific aspects that are crucial to the individual tribunals. I therefore also encourage the reflection, with which you will be engaged in these days, on the correct jurisprudence to propose to the local tribunals in the matter of error iuris as a cause of matrimonial nullity.

This Supreme Tribunal is likewise committed to another sensitive area of the administration of justice, which was entrusted to it by the Servant of God Paul VI; in fact, the Signatura adjudicates controversies which have arisen from acts of ecclesiastical administrative power and have been brought to it by means of recourses legitimately proposed against individual administrative acts, whether issued by the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia or approved by them (cf. Apostolic Constitution Regimini Ecclesiae Universae, 15 August 1967, n. 106; CIC, can. 1445, § 2: Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus, art. 123; Lex propria, art. 34). This is a service of primary importance: the provision of instruments of justice -- from the peaceful settlement of disputes to their judicial treatment and resolution -- offers a place for dialogue and for the restoration of communion in the Church.

If it is indeed true that injustice should be confronted first of all with the spiritual weapons of prayer, charity, forgiveness and penance, nonetheless it cannot be excluded in certain cases that it is appropriate and necessary for it to be addressed by procedural means. The latter constitute above all occasions for dialogue which sometimes lead to harmony and reconciliation. It is not by chance that the procedural norms provide that in limine litis, indeed, at every stage of the trial, an opening and and opportunity be offered so that, "whenever someone feels injured by a decree, there not be a contention between this person and the author of the decree but that care be taken by common counsel to find an equitable solution between them, perhaps through the use of respected persons in mediation and study so that the controversy may be avoided or solved by some suitable means" (CIC, can. 1733 § 2). To this end initiatives and norms are also encouraged which aim at establishing offices or councils whose duty, according to norms to be established, is to seek and suggest equitable solutions (cf. ibid., § 2).

In other cases, that is, when it is impossible to settle the controversy peacefully, the carrying out of the contentious-administrative process will bring about a judicial resolution of the dispute. In this case too, the activity of the Supreme Tribunal aims to reconstitute ecclesial communion, namely, to re-establish an objective order in conformity with the good of the Church. Only this communion re-established and justified through the motivation of the judicial decision can lead to genuine peace and harmony within the ecclesial structure.

This is the meaning of the well-known principle: Opus iustitiae pax. The demanding re-establishment of justice is destined to reconstruct just and orderly relations among the faithful, and between them and ecclesiastical Authority.

Indeed, the inner peace and the willing collaboration of the faithful in the Church's mission derive from the re-established awareness that they are acting in full accord with their vocation. Justice, which the Church pursues through the contentious-administrative process, can be considered as a beginning, a minimal requirement and at the same time an expectation of charity, at once indispensable and yet insufficient, if it is compared with the charity on which the Church lives. Nevertheless the pilgrim People of God on earth will be unable to realize its identity as a community of love unless it takes into consideration the demands of justice.

I entrust to Mary Most Holy, Speculum Iustitiae and Regina Pacis, the prized and delicate ministry which the Apostolic Signatura carries out at the service of communion in the Church, while I express to each one of you the assurance of my esteem and my appreciation.

I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit upon you and upon your daily work and I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you all

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal to Members of Education Congregation
"To Educate Is an Act of Love"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 7, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience members of the Congregation for Catholic Education, gathered in their plenary assembly.

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Esteemed Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I address to each of you my cordial greeting for this visit on the occasion of the plenary meeting of the Congregation for Catholic Education. I greet Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the dicastery, thanking him for his courteous words, as well as the secretary, undersecretary, officials and collaborators.

The topics you are addressing in these days have education and formation as common denominator, which today constitute one of the most urgent challenges that the Church and her institutions are called to address. The educational endeavor seems to have become ever more arduous because, in a culture which too often makes relativism its creed, the light of truth is lacking, more than that, it is considered dangerous to speak of truth, thus instilling doubt on the basic values of personal and community life. Important, because of this, is the service carried out in the world by the numerous formative institutions that are inspired in the Christian vision of man and of reality: to educate is an act of love, exercise of "intellectual charity," which requires responsibility, dedication, consistency of life. The work of your Congregation and the choices you will make in these days of reflection and study will certainly contribute to respond to the present "educational emergency."

Your Congregation, created in 1915 by Benedict XV, has carried out its work for almost one hundred years at the service of the various Catholic institutions of formation. Among these, undoubtedly, the seminary is one of the most important for the life of the Church; hence, it exacts a formative plan that takes into account the context referred to above. Several times I have stressed how the seminary is a precious stage of life, in which the candidate to the priesthood experiences being "a disciple of Jesus." Required for this time destined to formation is a certain detachment, a certain "desert," because the Lord speaks to the heart with a voice that is heard if there is silence (cf. 1 Kings 19:12).; but required also is willingness to live together, to love "family life" and the community dimension that anticipate that "sacramental fraternity" which must characterize every diocesan presbyter (cf. "Presbyterorum Ordinis," No. 8) and which I also wished to recall in my recent Letter to Seminarians: "one does not become a priest on one's own. There is the 'community of disciples,' the totality of those who wish to serve the common Church."


In these days you also studied the draft of the document on the Internet and formation in the seminaries. Because of its capacity to surmount distances and put people in mutual contact, the Internet presents great possibilities also for the Church and her mission. With the necessary discernment for its intelligent and prudent use, it is an instrument that can serve not only for studies, but also for the pastoral action of future presbyters in different ecclesial fields, such as evangelization, missionary action, catechesis, educational projects, the management of institutes. Also of extreme importance in this field is to be able to count on adequately prepared formators who will be faithful guides and always up-to-date, in order to support the candidates to the priesthood in the correct and positive use of the media.


This year, then, is the LXX anniversary of the Pontifical Work for Priestly Vocations, instituted by the Venerable Pius XII to foster collaboration between the Holy See and the local Churches in the precious work of promotion of vocations to the ordained ministry. This anniversary could be the occasion to know and evaluate the most significant vocational initiatives promoted in the local Churches. In addition to stressing the value of the universal call to follow Jesus, the vocational pastoral must insist more clearly on the profile of the ministerial priesthood, characterized by its specific configuration to Christ, which distinguishes it essentially from the other faithful and puts itself at their service.
Moreover, you also undertook a revision of what the apostolic constitution "Sapientia Christiana" prescribes on ecclesiastical studies, regarding Canon Law, the Higher Institutes of Religious Studies and, recently, philosophy. A sector on which to reflect particularly is that of theology. It is important the render ever more solid the bond between theology and the study of sacred Scripture, so that the latter is really its soul and heart (cf. "Verbum Domini," No. 31).

However, the theologian must not forget that he is also the one who speaks to God. Hence, it is indispensable to have theology closely united with personal and community prayer, especially liturgical prayer. Theology is sciencia fidei and prayer nourishes faith. In the union with God, mystery is, in some way, savored, it comes close, and this proximity is light for the intelligence. I would also like to stress the connection between theology and the other disciplines, considering that it is taught in Catholic Universities and, in many cases, in civil ones. Blessed John Henry Newman spoke of the "circle of knowledge," to indicate that an interdependence exists between the different branches of knowledge; but God is He who has a relationship only with the totality of the real; consequently, to eliminate God means to break the circle of knowledge.

In this perspective, the Catholic universities, with their very precise identity and their openness to the "totality" of the human being, can carry out a valuable work of promoting the unity of knowledge, orienting students and teachers to the Light of the world, "the true light that enlightens every man" (John 1:9). These are considerations that are valid also for Catholic schools. First of all, there must be the courage to proclaim the "great" value of education, to form solid persons able to collaborate with others and to give meaning to their life. Today there is talk of inter-cultural education, object of study also in your Plenary Assembly.

Required in this realm is a courageous and innovative fidelity, which is able to combine the clear awareness of one's identity with openness to others, because of the exigencies of living together in multi-cultural societies. Emerging also for this end is the educational role of the teaching of the Catholic religion as scholastic discipline in inter-disciplinary dialogue with others. In fact, this contributes widely not only to the integral development of the student, but also to knowledge of the other, to mutual understanding and respect. To attain such objectives particular attention must be given to the care of the formation of leaders and formators, not only from a professional point of view, but also religious and spiritual, so that, with the consistency of one's life and with personal involvement, the presence of the Christian educator will be expression of the love and witness of the truth.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for all that you do with your competent work at the service of educational institutions. Always keep your gaze turned to Christ, the only Teacher, so that with his Spirit he will render your work effective. I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, Sedes Sapientiae, and I impart to all my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

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Benedict XVI's Address to Tribunal of the Roman Rota
"The Right to Contract Marriage Presupposes That One Can Marry"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience the judges, officials and collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.


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Dear Members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota!

I am delighted to meet with you for this annual gathering on the occasion of the beginning of the judicial year. A cordial greeting to the College of Prelate Auditors, beginning with the dean, Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, whom I thank for his polite words. A salute the officials, the lawyers and the other collaborators of this tribunal, and all present. This moment permits me the opportunity of renewing my esteem for the work that you do in the service of the Church and to encourage you to an ever greater commitment in such a delicate and important sector for pastoral care and the "salus animarum."

The relationship between law and pastoral care was at the center of the postconciliar debate over canon law. The well known statement of the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, according to which "it is not true that to be more pastoral the law must make itself less juridical" (Allocution of the Roman Rota, Jan. 18, 1990, No. 4: AAS 82 [1990], p. 874) expresses the radical overcoming of apparent opposition. "The juridical dimension and the pastoral dimension," he said, "are inseparably united in the pilgrim Church on this earth. First of all, there is their harmony that derives from their common finality: the salvation of souls" (ibid.).

In my first meeting with you in 2006, I tried to show the authentic pastoral meaning of the processes of the annulment of marriage, based on love of the truth (cf. Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 28, 2006: AAS 98 [2006], pp. 135-138). Today I would like to pause to consider the juridical dimension that is inherent in the pastoral activity of preparation and admission to marriage, to try to shed light on the connection between such activity and the judicial matrimonial processes.

The canonical dimension of the preparation for marriage is not perhaps an immediately obvious element. In effect, on the one hand we observe how in the courses of preparation for marriage, the canonical questions occupy a very modest place, if not insignificant, insofar as we tend to think that the future spouses have a very minimal interest in questions that are reserved for specialists. On the other hand, while not neglecting any of the necessities of the juridical activities that precede marriage, ready to accept that "nothing be opposed to its valid and licit celebration" (CIC, Canon 1066), there is a widespread belief according to which the examination of the spouses, the marriage banns and the other appropriate measures taken in the necessary pre-matrimonial investigations (cf. ibid., Canon 1067), among which are the marriage preparation courses, are merely formal obligations. In fact, it is often thought that in admitting couples to marriage, pastors must proceed with generosity since the natural right of the persons to marry is in play.

It is a good thing, then, to reflect on the juridical dimension of marriage itself. It is an issue that I have touched on in the context of reflection on the truth about marriage, in which I stated, among other things, that: "[w]ith regard to the subjective and libertarian relativizing of the sexual experience, the Church's tradition clearly affirms the natural juridical character of marriage, that is, the fact that it belongs by nature to the context of justice in interpersonal relations. In this perspective, the law is truly interwoven with life and love as one of the intrinsic obligations of its existence" (Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 27, 2007, AAS 99 [2007], p. 90). Thus, there are not [two different kinds of marriage:] an existential marriage ("matrimonio della vita") and a legal marriage: there is only one marriage, which is constitutively a real juridical bond between the man and the woman, a bond upon which the authentic conjugal dynamic of life and love rests. The marriage celebrated by the spouses, the one that pastoral care concerns itself with and that which canonical doctrine focuses on, are a single natural and salvific reality, whose richness certainly permits a variety of approaches, without however losing its essential identity. The juridical aspect is essentially linked to the essence of marriage. This is understood in the light of a non-positivistic notion of law, but considered in the perspective of the relational character of justice.

The right to marriage, or "ius connubii," must be seen from this perspective. It is not, therefore, a subjective pretense that must be satisfied by pastors through a mere formal recognition, independently of the actual content of the union. The right to contract marriage presupposes that one can marry, and one intends to authentically celebrate marriage, that is, to do so in the truth of its essence as it is taught by the Church. No one can boast of a right to a nuptial ceremony. The "ius connubii," in fact, refers to the right to celebrate a real marriage. The "ius connubii," therefore, is not being denied where it is evident that the premises for its exercise are not present, that is, if the requested capacity to wed is manifestly lacking, or an objective is sought that is contrary to the natural reality of marriage.

In this regard I would like to reaffirm what I wrote after the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist: "Given the complex cultural context which the Church today encounters in many countries, the synod also recommended devoting maximum pastoral attention to training couples preparing for marriage and to ascertaining beforehand their convictions regarding the obligations required for the validity of the sacrament of Matrimony. Serious discernment in this matter will help to avoid situations where impulsive decisions or superficial reasons lead two young people to take on responsibilities that they are then incapable of honoring (cf. Proposition 40). The good that the Church and society as a whole expect from marriage and from the family founded upon marriage is so great as to call for full pastoral commitment to this particular area. Marriage and the family are institutions that must be promoted and defended from every possible misrepresentation of their true nature, since whatever is injurious to them is injurious to society itself" (Post-Synodal Exhortation "Sacramentum caritatis," Feb. 22, 2007, No. 29: AAS 99 [2007], p. 130).

Preparation for marriage, in its various phases described by Pope John Paul II in the apostolic exhortation "Familiaris consortio," certainly has its purposes that transcend the juridic dimension, since its horizon is constituted by the whole good, human and Christian, of the couple and their future children (cf. no. 66: AAS 73 [1981], pp. 159-162), definitively directed to the holiness of their life (cf. CIC, can. 1063, No. 2). Nevertheless, we must never forget that the immediate objective of such preparation is that of promoting the free celebration of an authentic marriage, that is, the constituting of a bond of justice and love between the couple, with the characteristics of unity and indissolubility, ordained to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children, and which between baptized persons constitutes one of the sacraments of the New Covenant. With this an extrinsic ideological message is not addressed to the couple, much less is a cultural model imposed; rather the betrothed are made able to discover the truth of a natural inclination and a capacity for commitment that is inscribed in the being of their man-woman relationship. Law as an essential component of the matrimonial relation flows from here; it is rooted in a natural power of the couple that is actualized in consensual self-giving. Reason and faith concur to illuminate this truth of life but it must be clear in any case that, as the Venerable John Paul II taught, "the Church does not refuse the matrimonial celebration to those who are well-disposed, even if imperfectly prepared from the supernatural point of view, so long as the person has the right intention to wed according to the natural reality of marriage" (Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 30, 2003, No. 8: AAS 95 [2003], p. 397). On this view, a special care must accompany the marriage preparation whether it be remote, proximate or immediate (cf. John Paul II, apostolic exhortation "Familiaris consortio," Nov. 22, 1981, No. 66: AAS 73 [1981], pp. 159-162)

Among the means for judging that the plan of the engaged couple is really conjugal, there is the pre-marriage examination. This examination has a principally juridical purpose: to judge that nothing is opposed to the valid and licit celebration of the marriage. To say that it is juridical is not to say that it is formalistic, as if it were a bureaucratic task consisting in filling out a form based on the answers to set questions. It is rather a unique pastoral event -- to be valued for all the seriousness and attention that it demands -- in which, through a dialogue full of respect and cordiality, the pastor tries to help the person seriously place himself before the truth about himself and his human and Christian vocation to marriage. In this case the dialogue, always conducted with man and woman separately -- without diminishing the importance of other conversations with the couple -- requires a climate full of sincerity in which their must be an emphasis on the fact that those entering into the contract are the ones primarily concerned and primarily obligated in conscience to celebrate a valid matrimony.

In this way, with the various means at our disposal for a sound preparation and verification, we can develop effective pastoral care aimed at preventing matrimonial annulments. We must do our best to break -- to the extent that it is possible -- the vicious circle that often exists between a careless admission to marriage, without adequate preparation and a serious examination of the necessary requirements for its celebration, and judicial declaration sometimes just as careless, but opposite in significance, in which the same marriage is considered null solely on the basis of the claim of its failure. It is true that not all the causes of a future declaration of nullity can be identified or manifested in the preparation for the marriage, but, at the same time, it would not be right to block access to marriage on the basis of unfounded presumptions, such as that as holding that in today's world people are generally incapable of marriage or only have an apparent desire for it. In light of this it is evidently important that there be a more acute awareness of the responsibility that those charged with the care of souls have in these matters. Canon law in general, and that dealing with marriage and trials in particular, certainly demands a special preparation, but a knowledge of the basic and the immediately practical aspects of Canon Law, relative to our proper functions, constitutes a formative exigency of fundamental relevance for all pastoral workers, in particular for those who are engaged in the pastoral care of families.

All of this requires, further, that the conduct of ecclesiastical tribunals send a univocal message about what is essential to marriage in harmony with the magisterium and Canon Law, speaking with one voice. Seeing the necessity of the unity of jurisprudence entrusted to this Tribunal, the other ecclesiastical tribunals must conform to the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota (cf. John Paul II, Allocution to Roman Rota, Jan. 17, 1998, No. 4: AAS 90 [1998], p. 783). Recently I insisted on the necessity of ruling rightly about the causes related to consensual incapacity (cf. Allocution to the Roman Rota, Jan. 29, 2009: AAS 101 [2009], pp. 124-128). The question continues to be quite relevant and unfortunately incorrect positions persist, such as that of identifying the discretion of judgment required for marriage (cf. CIC, Canon 1095, No. 2) with the prudence expected in the decision to marry, thus confusing a question of capacity with another that does not touch validity, since it concerns the degree of practical wisdom with which a decision is made that is, in any case, matrimonial. Graver still would be the misunderstanding if one were to attribute invalidating efficaciousness to imprudent choices made in the marriage.

In the sphere of nullity created by the exclusion of the essential goods of marriage (cf. ibid. can. 1101, No. 2) a serious commitment is necessary, moreover, so that the judicial rulings reflect the truth about marriage, the same truth that must illuminate admission to marriage. I am thinking, in a special way, of the exclusion of the "bonum coniugum." In relation to the this exclusion the same danger that threatens the correct application of the norms dealing with incapacity seems to repeat itself, and, that is, looking for the causes of nullity in the behaviors that do not regard the constitution of the bond but rather its realization in life. We must resist the temptation to transform the simple failures of the spouses in the conjugal life into defects of consent. True exclusion can only manifest itself when the ordination to the good of the spouses is harmed (cf. ibid., Canon 1055, No. 1), excluded with a positive act of the will. Without a doubt the cases in which there is a failure to recognize the other as a spouse are an exception. This occurs when the essential ordination of the community of conjugal life is excluded from the good of the other. The clarification of these hypotheses about the exclusion of the "bonum coniugum" must be carefully assessed by the jurisprudence of the Roman Rota.

In concluding these reflections of mine, I turn to consider the relationship between law and pastoral care. It is often the object of misunderstandings, to the detriment of law, but also to the detriment of pastoral work. On the contrary, it is necessary to promote in all sectors, and in a special way in that of marriage and the family, profound harmony between the pastoral and the juridical, which will certainly show itself to be fruitful for those who approach marriage.

Dear members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, I entrust all of you to the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that you never lack divine assistance in carrying out your daily labors with fidelity, the spirit of service and with fruitfulness, and I gladly impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

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Papal Address to Polish Ecclesiastical Institute
"Deepen Your Intellectual and Spiritual Preparation"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Monday upon receiving in audience members of the community from the Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute in Rome on the occasion of the centenary of its foundation.

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Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

It is with great joy that I receive you in the Apostolic Palace and I give you my cordial welcome. I greet you, monsignor rector, and all the community of the Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute, as well as the guests. In a particular way, I thank Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski for the significant words he addressed to me on behalf of all those present.

What has brought you here, to meet the Successor of Peter and to be confirmed in the faith and in your membership in the Church, is a happy circumstance rightly very dear to you: the centenary of the foundation of this worthy institution. Stemming from the illumined intuition and wonderful initiative of St. Jozef Sebastian Pelczar, then bishop of Przemysl, it initiated its history already during the pontificate of St. Pius X, to whom the foundation plan was presented. On May 13, 1909, the same Pope approved the request of Polish bishops and on March 19, 1910, with the religious decree "Polonae Gentis," the Polish Hospice was erected. It was solemnly inaugurated on Nov. 13, 1910, by Monsignor Sapieha, who became afterward cardinal archbishop of Krakow. Thus the institute was able to enjoy in the course of the years the solicitude and affection of several Pontiffs, among whom we recall, closer to us, the Servant of God Paul VI and, of course, the future blessed, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, who visited it in 1980 and stressed its great significance for the Church and the Polish people.

The celebration of the first centenary of this important institution constitutes a valid call to the rightful and grateful remembrance of those who gave it its beginning with faith, courage and effort; a call, at the same time, to the responsibility of carrying forward today the original aim, adapting it opportunely to the new situations. Above all is the commitment to maintain alive the spirit of the institution: its religious and ecclesial spirit, which responds to the providential divine plan to offer Polish priests an ideal environment for study and fraternity, during the period of formation in Rome.

Of this pontifical institute, which witnessed so many significant events for the Church in Poland, you are now also a part, dear student priests that, arriving in the heart of Christianity, desire seriously to deepen your intellectual and spiritual preparation, to carry out in the best way all the tasks of responsibility which in the course of time will be entrusted to you by your bishops for the service of the People of God. See yourselves as "living stones", an important part of this history which today also requires your personal and incisive response, offering your generous contribution, as offered in the course of the Vatican Council II, by the unforgettable primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, who precisely in the Polish Institute had the opportunity to prepare the celebration of the millennium of Poland's baptism and the historic message of reconciliation that the Polish bishops addressed to the German prelates, containing the famous words: "We forgive and ask for forgiveness."

The Church needs well prepared priests, rich in that wisdom that is acquired in friendship with the Lord Jesus, drawing constantly from the Eucharistic table and from the inexhaustible source of his Gospel. From these two irreplaceable sources know how to draw the constant support and necessary inspiration for your life and your ministry, for a sincere love of the truth that today you are called to deepen also through study and scientific research and that you will be able to share tomorrow with many. The search for truth, for you that as priests live this peculiar Roman experience, is stimulated and enriched by the closeness to the Apostolic See, which must give a specific and universal service to the Catholic communion in truth and in charity. To remain close to Peter, in the heart of the Church, means to acknowledge, full of gratitude, that you are within a multi-secular and fruitful history of salvation, which by a manifold grace has reached you and in which you are called to participate actively so that, as a luxuriant tree, you will always bear precious fruits.

May love and devotion to the figure of Peter drive you to serve generously the communion of the whole Catholic Church and of your particular Churches, so that, as one great family, all can learn to recognize in Christ the way, the truth, and the life, the face of the merciful Father, who does not wish any of his children to be lost.

Venerable and dear brothers, I entrust you all to the Virgin Mary, so loved by the Polish people. Invoke her always as mother of your priesthood, so that she will accompany you on the path of life and attract to your present and future ministry the abundance of gifts of the Holy Spirit. May Mary help you to persevere with joyful fidelity in the grace and commitment to follow Jesus, and to nurture constantly a fruitful dedication to your daily work and to those that the Lord puts close to you

I impart from my heart to all of you, as well as to your families and to your dear ones, a special apostolic blessing. May Jesus Christ be praised.

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Pontiff's New Year's Greetings to Vatican Security
They "Watch Over the Vatican Day and Night ... as Guardian Angels"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in Italian upon receiving in audience the members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security in the Vatican for a traditional meeting that takes place every year in January for the exchange of New Year greetings.

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Dear Officials and Agents! I am happy to receive you, in keeping with the good custom, for the reciprocal exchange of good wishes for the New Year. I address to each one my cordial welcome and my affectionate greeting, which I gladly extend to your respective families and colleagues who were unable to participate in this meeting, because they are engaged in their daily service to guarantee the security of St. Peter's Square, of the surroundings and of the other areas belonging to the Vatican.

I wish to address a particular well-wishing greeting to the director general, Dr. Raffaele Aiello, who since a few weeks has been at the head of your Inspectorate. I thank him for the courteous expressions he addressed to me, also in the name of those present and of the representatives of those central and peripheral structures of the Interior Ministry that cooperate with you, in a spirit of service and willing availability.

I address moreover my deferent greeting to Dr. Antonio Manganelli, the police chief, to the prefect, Salvatore Festa, to the other officials and directors, as well as the chaplains, renewing also in the name of my collaborators, my heartfelt gratitude for the precious work of that Inspectorate of Public Security.

I take this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation for the commitment and professionalism with which the officials and agents of the state police, watch over the Vatican day and night, almost as "guardian angels," guaranteeing the necessary security and placing themselves at the service of pilgrims. This work of vigilance, which you carry out with diligence and solicitude to protect the public order, is certainly considerable and delicate: it requires at times not a little patience, perseverance, sacrifice and willingness to listen. It is a service all the more useful to the tranquil and safe unfolding of the spiritual and religious manifestations that take place, especially in St. Peter's Square.

May your significant presence in the heart of Christianity, where crowds of faithful constantly arrive to meet the Successor of Peter and to visit the tombs of the Apostles, increasingly arouse in each one of you the resolution to revive the spiritual dimension of life, as well as the commitment to deepen your Christian faith, witnessing it joyfully through consistent conduct.

In the Christmas period, just ended, the liturgy invited us to receive the Word who from the beginning was in the heart of the Father and whom he has given us, revealing his face in a Child. He is the Eternal who enters into time and fills it with his fullness; he is the light that illumines and lightens all those that are in darkness; he is the Son of God who brings salivation to humanity. Let us always receive him with trust and joy! He is presented to us by the Virgin Mary. She, as a solicitous Mother, watches over us. Turn frequently to her maternal intercession and entrust to her the year 2011 that has just begun, so that it will be for everyone a time of hope and peace.

With these sentiments, I invoke on you and your work the abundance of celestial gifts, while I impart to you from my heart a special apostolic blessing, which I gladly extend to your families and dear ones.

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Papal Letter on Financial Transparency
"Concerning the Prevention and Countering of the Laundering"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's apostolic letter issued "motu proprio" on the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors.

* * *

The Apostolic See has always raised its voice to exhort all men and women of good will, and especially the leaders of nations, to commit themselves to building -- also through just and lasting peace in all parts of the world - the universal city of God, towards which the history of peoples and nations progresses [Benedict XVI, Enc. Let. 'Caritas in veritate' (29 June 2009), 7: AAS 101/2009, 645]. Unfortunately, peace in our time and in an increasingly globalised society is threatened by various causes, among them the inappropriate use of the market and the economy, as well as the terrible destruction of terrorist violence, which causes death, suffering, hatred and social instability.

Quite rightly, the international community is increasingly equipping itself with juridical principles and instruments that enable it to prevent and contrast the phenomena of money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The Holy See approves this commitment and intends to adopt these rules in its own use of the material resources it needs to carry out its mission, and to carry out the tasks of Vatican City State.

In this context, also in implementation of the Monetary Convention of 17 December 2009 between Vatican City State and the European Union, I have approved for Vatican City State the publication of the Law of 30 December 2010 concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism, which is being promulgated today.

With this Apostolic Letter in the form of "Motu Proprio":

(a) I decree that the abovementioned Law of Vatican City State, and its future modifications, is also valid for the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and for all Institutions and Entities dependent on the Holy See, when they undertake the activities defined in article 2 of the said Law.

(b) I establish the "Autorita di Informazione Finanziaria" (AIF), as indicated in article 33 of the Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism, as an Institution connected with the Holy See in accordance with articles 186 and 190-191 of the Apostolic Constitution "Pastor Bonus", conferring thereon public juridical canonical status and Vatican civil status, and approving its Statute which is attached to this Motu Proprio.

(c) I decree that the "Autorita di Informazione Finanziaria" (AIF) is to exercise its functions in relation to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and in relation to all the Institutions and Entities mentioned in paragraph (a) above.

(d) I delegate the competent judicial bodies of Vatican City State to exercise their penal jurisdiction - only as concerns the crimes conjectured in the abovementioned Law - in relation to the dicasteries of the Roman Curia and in relation to all the Institutions and Entities mentioned in paragraph (a) above.

I order that what has thus been established is to have full and stable validity as of today's date, notwithstanding any dispositions to the contrary, though worthy of special mention.

I decree that this Apostolic Letter in the form of Motu Proprio is to be published in the "Acta Apostolicae Sedis".

Published in Rome, from the Apostolic Palace, 30 December of the year 2010, sixth of the Pontificate.

© Copyright 2011 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Vatican Statement on New Financial Laws
"Part of the Apostolic See’s Efforts to Build a Just and Honest Social Order"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 6, 2011 - Here is the communiqué of the Vatican Secretariat of State regarding the new legislation for the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the financial and monetary sectors.

* * *

1. Today, in implementation of the Monetary Convention of 17 December 2009 (2010/C 28/05) between Vatican City State and the European Union, four new Laws were adopted:

- the "Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism";

- the "Law on fraud and counterfeiting of Euro banknotes and coins";

- the "Law concerning the size, specifications, reproductions, substitutions of and withdrawals from use of Euro banknotes and concerning the implementation of measures to be taken against the irregular reproduction of Euro banknotes and the substitution of and withdrawal from use of Euro banknotes"; and the "Law regarding the face, unitary value and technical specifications, as well as the copyright of the designs of the national faces of the Euro coins destined for circulation".

The process of drafting the above-mentioned Laws was conducted with the assistance of the Mixed Committee, established in Art.11 of the Monetary Convention, composed of representatives of Vatican City State and of the European Union. The European Union delegation is composed of representatives of the Commission and of the Republic of Italy as well as representatives of the Central European Bank.

The Law concerning the prevention and countering of money laundering and of the financing of terrorism is published together with this Communiqué, while the others will be published on the website of Vatican City State, at www.vaticanstate.va

2. The Law concerning the prevention of money laundering and of the financing of terrorism contains the following in a single piece of legislation:

- specification of criminal activities which comprise the laundering of money, self money-laundering, and the so-called "predicate crimes" (that is, the criminal activities which generate incomes, that are subsequently laundered), for which penal fines are foreseen;

- specification of activities with a more administrative content related to international cooperation, but also to prevention, for which pecuniary administrative fines are foreseen.

The above Law is based on the following main obligations:

- "adequate verification" of the counterpart;

- registration and conservation of data concerning ongoing relations and operations;

- reporting of suspicious transactions.

The structure of this Law, while taking into account the specificity of the Vatican legal system into which it is inserted, conforms to the principles and rules in force throughout the European Union and is therefore in conformity with the norms of other nations which have more developed rules in this regard. This is seen in the provisions concerning, among other things, self money-laundering, the controls on cash entering or leaving Vatican City State, the obligations regarding the transfer of funds, and the heavy administrative sanctions that are applicable not only to legal persons and entities but also to the physical persons who act on their behalf, by means of the binding recourse action.

3. In conformity with what is found in the most recent norms of the European Union, the Law on fraud and counterfeiting responds to the need to adopt a solid network of legal protection of Euro banknotes and coins from counterfeiting. This requires procedures of withdrawal from circulation of counterfeited banknotes and coins, the reinforcing of penal sanctions, as well as various forms of European and international cooperation.

4. The Laws concerning the Euro banknotes and coins contain the following for those Banknotes and coins:

- norms for the protection of the copyright of the designs;

- rules regarding size, technical characteristics, circulation and substitution;

- the prospective application of administrative pecuniary fines for violation of any of these Laws.

5. The drafting of the Laws that are adopted today does not involve Vatican City State alone. The Holy See, which is legally distinct from Vatican City State and which directs entities and institutions active in various areas, has adopted as its own the "Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism". The adoption of this Law was accomplished by means of the "Apostolic Letter in the form of a Motu Proprio for the prevention and countering of illegal activities in the area of monetary and financial dealings".

With that Apostolic Letter, which is also published today and signed by the Supreme Pontiff Pope Benedict XVI:

- it is also established that the Law of Vatican City State and its future modifications apply as well to the "Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and for each and every institution or entity dependent on the Holy See", among which the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (IOR) is included, so as to confirm the latter’s firm intention to operate according to principles and criteria which are internationally recognized;

- the Autorità di Informazione Finanziaria (AIF) is established, an autonomous and independent body with the specific task of preventing and countering the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism with respect to each subject, both legal and physical, entity and institution of whatever nature, of Vatican City State, of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia and of all the other institutions and entities dependent on the Holy See;

- the competent judicial authorities of Vatican City State are henceforth delegated to exercise penal jurisdiction in regard to the above-mentioned institutions, in the case of crimes related to money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

The Apostolic Letter is published on the Holy See’s website, at www.vatican.va

6. The AIF, whose President and members of the Governing Council are appointed by the Pope, is charged with the task of adopting the complex and delicate norms of implementation which are indispensable in ensuring that the subjects of the Holy See and of Vatican City State – from 1 April 2011 – will respect these new and important obligations aimed at countering the laundering of money and the financing of terrorism. On 1 April 2011, the "Law concerning the prevention and countering of the laundering of proceeds from criminal activities and of the financing of terrorism" will enter into force.

7. Experience will help to refine and integrate the new norms concerning the prevention and countering of money-laundering and the financing of terrorism in accordance with the principles and the standards in force in the international community; such need might derive from the Holy See’s and Vatican City State’s openness to deal with competent international instances in countering both money-laundering and the financing of terrorism.

8. These new Laws are part of the Apostolic See’s efforts to build a just and honest social order. At no time may the great principles of social ethics like transparency, honesty and responsibility be neglected or weakened (cf. BENEDICT XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 36).

30 December 2010

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Benedict XVI's Christmas Greeting to Curia
"For All Its New Hopes and Possibilities, Our World Is ... Troubled"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the Sala Regia of the Vatican Apostolic Palace during his traditional meeting with the cardinals, archbishops, bishops, and members of the Roman Curia and of the Governorate of Vatican City State, in order to exchange Christmas greetings.

* * *

Dear Cardinals,
Brother Bishops and Priests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It gives me great pleasure to be here with you, dear Members of the College of Cardinals and Representatives of the Roman Curia and the Governatorato, for this traditional gathering. I extend a cordial greeting to each one of you, beginning with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whom I thank for his sentiments of devotion and communion and for the warm good wishes that he expressed to me on behalf of all of you. Prope est jam Dominus, venite, adoremus! As one family let us contemplate the mystery of Emmanuel, God-with-us, as the Cardinal Dean has said. I gladly reciprocate his good wishes and I would like to thank all of you most sincerely, including the Papal Representatives all over the world, for the able and generous contribution that each of you makes to the Vicar of Christ and to the Church.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Repeatedly during the season of Advent the Church’s liturgy prays in these or similar words. They are invocations that were probably formulated as the Roman Empire was in decline. The disintegration of the key principles of law and of the fundamental moral attitudes underpinning them burst open the dams which until that time had protected peaceful coexistence among peoples. The sun was setting over an entire world. Frequent natural disasters further increased this sense of insecurity. There was no power in sight that could put a stop to this decline. All the more insistent, then, was the invocation of the power of God: the plea that he might come and protect his people from all these threats.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni. Today too, we have many reasons to associate ourselves with this Advent prayer of the Church. For all its new hopes and possibilities, our world is at the same time troubled by the sense that moral consensus is collapsing, consensus without which juridical and political structures cannot function. Consequently the forces mobilized for the defence of such structures seem doomed to failure.

Excita

– the prayer recalls the cry addressed to the Lord who was sleeping in the disciples’ storm-tossed boat as it was close to sinking. When his powerful word had calmed the storm, he rebuked the disciples for their little faith (cf. Mt 8:26 et par.). He wanted to say: it was your faith that was sleeping. He will say the same thing to us. Our faith too is often asleep. Let us ask him, then, to wake us from the sleep of a faith grown tired, and to restore to that faith the power to move mountains – that is, to order justly the affairs of the world.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni: amid the great tribulations to which we have been exposed during the past year, this Advent prayer has frequently been in my mind and on my lips. We had begun the Year for Priests with great joy and, thank God, we were also able to conclude it with great gratitude, despite the fact that it unfolded so differently from the way we had expected. Among us priests and among the lay faithful, especially the young, there was a renewed awareness of what a great gift the Lord has entrusted to us in the priesthood of the Catholic Church. We realized afresh how beautiful it is that human beings are fully authorized to pronounce in God’s name the word of forgiveness, and are thus able to change the world, to change life; we realized how beautiful it is that human beings may utter the words of consecration, through which the Lord draws a part of the world into himself, and so transforms it at one point in its very substance; we realized how beautiful it is to be able, with the Lord’s strength, to be close to people in their joys and sufferings, in the important moments of their lives and in their dark times; how beautiful it is to have as one’s life task not this or that, but simply human life itself – helping people to open themselves to God and to live from God. We were all the more dismayed, then, when in this year of all years and to a degree we could not have imagined, we came to know of abuse of minors committed by priests who twist the sacrament into its antithesis, and under the mantle of the sacred profoundly wound human persons in their childhood, damaging them for a whole lifetime.

In this context, a vision of Saint Hildegard of Bingen came to my mind, a vision which describes in a shocking way what we have lived through this past year. "In the year of our Lord’s incarnation 1170, I had been lying on my sick-bed for a long time when, fully conscious in body and in mind, I had a vision of a woman of such beauty that the human mind is unable to comprehend. She stretched in height from earth to heaven. Her face shone with exceeding brightness and her gaze was fixed on heaven. She was dressed in a dazzling robe of white silk and draped in a cloak, adorned with stones of great price. On her feet she wore shoes of onyx. But her face was stained with dust, her robe was ripped down the right side, her cloak had lost its sheen of beauty and her shoes had been blackened. And she herself, in a voice loud with sorrow, was calling to the heights of heaven, saying, ‘Hear, heaven, how my face is sullied; mourn, earth, that my robe is torn; tremble, abyss, because my shoes are blackened!’

And she continued: ‘I lay hidden in the heart of the Father until the Son of Man, who was conceived and born in virginity, poured out his blood. With that same blood as his dowry, he made me his betrothed.

For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

And I heard a voice from heaven which said: ‘This image represents the Church. For this reason, O you who see all this and who listen to the word of lament, proclaim it to the priests who are destined to offer guidance and instruction to God’s people and to whom, as to the apostles, it was said: go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation’ (Mk 16:15)" (Letter to Werner von Kirchheim and his Priestly Community: PL 197, 269ff.).

In the vision of Saint Hildegard, the face of the Church is stained with dust, and this is how we have seen it. Her garment is torn – by the sins of priests. The way she saw and expressed it is the way we have experienced it this year. We must accept this humiliation as an exhortation to truth and a call to renewal. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance. We must be determined to make every possible effort in priestly formation to prevent anything of the kind from happening again. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged. This is also the occasion to thank the many good priests who act as channels of the Lord’s goodness in humility and fidelity and, amid the devastations, bear witness to the unforfeited beauty of the priesthood.

We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society. The psychological destruction of children, in which human persons are reduced to articles of merchandise, is a terrifying sign of the times. From Bishops of developing countries I hear again and again how sexual tourism threatens an entire generation and damages its freedom and its human dignity. The Book of Revelation includes among the great sins of Babylon – the symbol of the world’s great irreligious cities – the fact that it trades with bodies and souls and treats them as commodities (cf. Rev 18:13). In this context, the problem of drugs also rears its head, and with increasing force extends its octopus tentacles around the entire world – an eloquent expression of the tyranny of mammon which perverts mankind. No pleasure is ever enough, and the excess of deceiving intoxication becomes a violence that tears whole regions apart – and all this in the name of a fatal misunderstanding of freedom which actually undermines man’s freedom and ultimately destroys it.

In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a "better than" and a "worse than". Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist. The effects of such theories are evident today. Against them, Pope John Paul II, in his 1993 Encyclical Letter Veritatis Splendor, indicated with prophetic force in the great rational tradition of Christian ethos the essential and permanent foundations of moral action. Today, attention must be focussed anew on this text as a path in the formation of conscience. It is our responsibility to make these criteria audible and intelligible once more for people today as paths of true humanity, in the context of our paramount concern for mankind.

As my second point, I should like to say a word about the Synod of the Churches of the Middle East. This began with my journey to Cyprus, where I was able to consign the Instrumentum Laboris of the Synod to the Bishops of those countries who were assembled there. The hospitality of the Orthodox Church was unforgettable, and we experienced it with great gratitude. Even if full communion is not yet granted to us, we have nevertheless established with joy that the basic form of the ancient Church unites us profoundly with one another: the sacramental office of Bishops as the bearer of apostolic tradition, the reading of Scripture according to the hermeneutic of the Regula fidei, the understanding of Scripture in its manifold unity centred on Christ, developed under divine inspiration, and finally, our faith in the central place of the Eucharist in the Church’s life. Thus we experienced a living encounter with the riches of the rites of the ancient Church that are also found within the Catholic Church. We celebrated the liturgy with Maronites and with Melchites, we celebrated in the Latin rite, we experienced moments of ecumenical prayer with the Orthodox, and we witnessed impressive manifestations of the rich Christian culture of the Christian East. But we also saw the problem of the divided country. The wrongs and the deep wounds of the past were all too evident, but so too was the desire for the peace and communion that had existed before. Everyone knows that violence does not bring progress – indeed, it gave rise to the present situation. Only in a spirit of compromise and mutual understanding can unity be re-established. To prepare the people for this attitude of peace is an essential task of pastoral ministry.

During the Synod itself, our gaze was extended over the whole of the Middle East, where the followers of different religions – as well as a variety of traditions and distinct rites – live together. As far as Christians are concerned, there are Pre-Chalcedonian as well as Chalcedonian churches; there are churches in communion with Rome and others that are outside that communion; in both cases, multiple rites exist alongside one another. In the turmoil of recent years, the tradition of peaceful coexistence has been shattered and tensions and divisions have grown, with the result that we witness with increasing alarm acts of violence in which there is no longer any respect for what the other holds sacred, in which on the contrary the most elementary rules of humanity collapse. In the present situation, Christians are the most oppressed and tormented minority. For centuries they lived peacefully together with their Jewish and Muslim neighbours. During the Synod we listened to wise words from the Counsellor of the Mufti of the Republic of Lebanon against acts of violence targeting Christians. He said: when Christians are wounded, we ourselves are wounded. Unfortunately, though, this and similar voices of reason, for which we are profoundly grateful, are too weak. Here too we come up against an unholy alliance between greed for profit and ideological blindness. On the basis of the spirit of faith and its rationality, the Synod developed a grand concept of dialogue, forgiveness and mutual acceptance, a concept that we now want to proclaim to the world. The human being is one, and humanity is one. Whatever damage is done to another in any one place, ends up by damaging everyone. Thus the words and ideas of the Synod must be a clarion call, addressed to all people with political or religious responsibility, to put a stop to Christianophobia; to rise up in defence of refugees and all who are suffering, and to revitalize the spirit of reconciliation. In the final analysis, healing can only come from deep faith in God’s reconciling love. Strengthening this faith, nourishing it and causing it to shine forth is the Church’s principal task at this hour.

I would willingly speak in some detail of my unforgettable journey to the United Kingdom, but I will limit myself to two points that are connected with the theme of the responsibility of Christians at this time and with the Church’s task to proclaim the Gospel. My thoughts go first of all to the encounter with the world of culture in Westminster Hall, an encounter in which awareness of shared responsibility at this moment in history created great attention which, in the final analysis, was directed to the question of truth and faith itself. It was evident to all that the Church has to make her own contribution to this debate. Alexis de Tocqueville, in his day, observed that democracy in America had become possible and had worked because there existed a fundamental moral consensus which, transcending individual denominations, united everyone. Only if there is such a consensus on the essentials can constitutions and law function. This fundamental consensus derived from the Christian heritage is at risk wherever its place, the place of moral reasoning, is taken by the purely instrumental rationality of which I spoke earlier. In reality, this makes reason blind to what is essential. To resist this eclipse of reason and to preserve its capacity for seeing the essential, for seeing God and man, for seeing what is good and what is true, is the common interest that must unite all people of good will. The very future of the world is at stake.

Finally I should like to recall once more the beatification of Cardinal John Henry Newman. Why was he beatified? What does he have to say to us? Many responses could be given to these questions, which were explored in the context of the beatification. I would like to highlight just two aspects which belong together and which, in the final analysis, express the same thing. The first is that we must learn from Newman’s three conversions, because they were steps along a spiritual path that concerns us all. Here I would like to emphasize just the first conversion: to faith in the living God. Until that moment, Newman thought like the average men of his time and indeed like the average men of today, who do not simply exclude the existence of God, but consider it as something uncertain, something with no essential role to play in their lives. What appeared genuinely real to him, as to the men of his and our day, is the empirical, matter that can be grasped. This is the "reality" according to which one finds one’s bearings. The "real" is what can be grasped, it is the things that can be calculated and taken in one’s hand. In his conversion, Newman recognized that it is exactly the other way round: that God and the soul, man’s spiritual identity, constitute what is genuinely real, what counts. These are much more real than objects that can be grasped. This conversion was a Copernican revolution. What had previously seemed unreal and secondary was now revealed to be the genuinely decisive element. Where such a conversion takes place, it is not just a person’s theory that changes: the fundamental shape of life changes. We are all in constant need of such conversion: then we are on the right path.

The driving force that impelled Newman along the path of conversion was conscience. But what does this mean? In modern thinking, the word "conscience" signifies that for moral and religious questions, it is the subjective dimension, the individual, that constitutes the final authority for decision. The world is divided into the realms of the objective and the subjective. To the objective realm belong things that can be calculated and verified by experiment. Religion and morals fall outside the scope of these methods and are therefore considered to lie within the subjective realm. Here, it is said, there are in the final analysis no objective criteria. The ultimate instance that can decide here is therefore the subject alone, and precisely this is what the word "conscience" expresses: in this realm only the individual, with his intuitions and experiences, can decide. Newman’s understanding of conscience is diametrically opposed to this. For him, "conscience" means man’s capacity for truth: the capacity to recognize precisely in the decision-making areas of his life – religion and morals – a truth, the truth. At the same time, conscience – man’s capacity to recognize truth – thereby imposes on him the obligation to set out along the path towards truth, to seek it and to submit to it wherever he finds it. Conscience is both capacity for truth and obedience to the truth which manifests itself to anyone who seeks it with an open heart. The path of Newman’s conversions is a path of conscience – not a path of self-asserting subjectivity but, on the contrary, a path of obedience to the truth that was gradually opening up to him. His third conversion, to Catholicism, required him to give up almost everything that was dear and precious to him: possessions, profession, academic rank, family ties and many friends. The sacrifice demanded of him by obedience to the truth, by his conscience, went further still. Newman had always been aware of having a mission for England. But in the Catholic theology of his time, his voice could hardly make itself heard. It was too foreign in the context of the prevailing form of theological thought and devotion. In January 1863 he wrote in his diary these distressing words: "As a Protestant, I felt my religion dreary, but not my life - but, as a Catholic, my life dreary, not my religion". He had not yet arrived at the hour when he would be an influential figure. In the humility and darkness of obedience, he had to wait until his message was taken up and understood. In support of the claim that Newman’s concept of conscience matched the modern subjective understanding, people often quote a letter in which he said – should he have to propose a toast – that he would drink first to conscience and then to the Pope. But in this statement, "conscience" does not signify the ultimately binding quality of subjective intuition. It is an expression of the accessibility and the binding force of truth: on this its primacy is based. The second toast can be dedicated to the Pope because it is his task to demand obedience to the truth.

I must refrain from speaking of my remarkable journeys to Malta, Portugal and Spain. In these it once again became evident that the faith is not a thing of the past, but an encounter with the God who lives and acts now. He challenges us and he opposes our indolence, but precisely in this way he opens the path towards true joy.

Excita, Domine, potentiam tuam, et veni.

We set out from this plea for the presence of God’s power in our time and from the experience of his apparent absence. If we keep our eyes open as we look back over the year that is coming to an end, we can see clearly that God’s power and goodness are also present today in many different ways. So we all have reason to thank him. Along with thanks to the Lord I renew my thanks to all my co-workers. May God grant to all of us a holy Christmas and may he accompany us with his blessings in the coming year.

I entrust these prayerful sentiments to the intercession of the Holy Virgin, Mother of the Redeemer, and I impart to all of you and to the great family of the Roman Curia a heartfelt Apostolic Blessing. Happy Christmas!

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Benedict XVI's to Pontifical Academies
"Mary ... Is the Sign of Sure Hope and Consolation for the People of God"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 17, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message that Benedict XVI sent to Wednesday to the members of the Pontifical Academies during their 15th Public Session, which reflected on the topic: "The Assumption of Mary, Sign of Consolation and Sure Hope."

* * *

To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi
President of the Pontifical Council for Culture

On the occasion of the 15th Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, I am happy to give you my cordial greeting, which a gladly extend to the presidents and academics, in particular to you, Venerable Brother, who head the Council of Coordination. I also address my greeting to the Lord Cardinals, the bishops, the priests, the men and women religious, the gentlemen ambassadors and all the participants in this annual meeting.

Fifteen years ago, the Venerable John Paul II instituted the Council of Coordination and the Prize of the Pontifical Academies offering a significant encouragement and a consistent impulse to the development of their activities. Now, evaluating carefully all that has been done, it is opportune to foment from now on the renewal of each and all of the Pontifical Academies, so that they can offer their contribution, ever more effectively, to the Apostolic See and to the whole Church. Hence I ask you, Venerable Brother, to follow with particular care the course of each Institution, promoting, at the same time, a process of reciprocal support and growing collaboration.

The 15th Public Session was prepared by the International Pontifical Marian Academy and by the Pontifical Academy of the Immaculate, which very opportunely have desired that in this solemn meeting the 60th anniversary be recalled of the proclamation of the Dogma of the Assumption of Mary, proposing the theme: "The Assumption of Mary, Sign of Consolation and Sure Hope." On Nov. 1, 1950, in fact, during a memorable Jubilee, the Venerable Pius XII, promulgating the apostolic constitution "Munificentissimus Deus," proclaimed this dogma solemnly in St. Peter's Square. A few years before, in 1946, Father Carlo Balic, O.F.M., had founded the International Marian Academy precisely to support and coordinate the Assumptionist movement.

In the difficult and delicate historical moment that followed the conclusion of World War II, with that solemn gesture, Pius XII wished to indicate not only to Catholics, but to all men and women of good will, the singular figure of Mary as model and paradigm of the new humanity redeemed by Christ: "It is to be hoped," he said, "that all those who will meditate the glorious examples of Mary will be persuaded increasingly of the value of human life [...] and that the luminous form be placed before everyone's eyes of the lofty end to which souls and bodies are destined; finally, that faith in the bodily Assumption of Mary to Heaven make faith in our resurrection more firm and active" ("Munificentissimus Deus," AAS 42, 1950, 753-771). I consider these hopes most timely, and I also invite you all to allow yourselves to be guided by Mary to be heralds and witnesses of the hope that springs from contemplation of the mysteries of Christ, dead and risen for our salvation.

Mary, in fact, as Vatican Council II teaches in the dogmatic constitution "Lumen Gentium," is the sign of sure hope and consolation for the People of God, pilgrim in history: "The mother of Jesus, now in heaven, glorified in body and soul, is the image and the first fruit of the Church which must have its fulfillment in the future age, and thus shines over the earth as a sign of sure hope and consolation for the People of God, journeying until it sees the day of the Lord (cf. 2 Peter 3:10)" (No. 68). In the encyclical letter "Spe Salvi," dedicated to Christian hope, I could not help but remind of the particular role of Mary in supporting and guiding the way of believers toward the Heavenly homeland. I addressed her, invoking her as a Star of Hope for the Church and for the whole of humanity (cf. No. 49). Mary is the shining star of light and beauty, who proclaims and anticipates our future.

St. John Damascene, who dedicated to Mary's Assumption three magnificent sermons, given in Jerusalem around the year 740, in the place tradition indicates as Mary's Tomb, said this: "Thy soul did not descend to Limbo, neither did thy flesh see corruption. Thy pure and spotless body was not left in the earth, but the abode of the Queen, of God's true Mother, was fixed in the heavenly kingdom alone." (Homily I on the Dormition: PG 96, 719).

The "singer of Mary," St. Bernard of Clairvaux, along with many of the Latin West, echoes the previous voice of the Eastern Church, when St. Bernard evokes the Assumption thus: "Our Queen has preceded us; she has preceded us and has been received very festively, so that with confidence the servants can follow their Lady saying: Take us with you, we run in the odor of your perfumes (Ct 1,3). Our pilgrim humanity sent its Advocate ahead that, being Mother of the Judge and Mother of mercy, can treat with devotion and efficacy the cause of our salvation. Our earth has sent today to heaven a precious gift so that, giving and receiving, they join the human and the divine in a happy exchange of friendship, the earthly to the heavenly, the lowest to the highest [...] She is the Queen of Heaven, she is merciful, she is the Mother of the Only-begotten Son of God" (In assumptione B.M.V., Sermo I: PL 183,415).

Hence, following that via pulchritudinis that the Servant of God Paul VI indicated as fecund itinerary of theological and Mariological research, I would like to note the profound syntony between theological and mystical thought, the liturgy, Marian devotion and the works of art that, with the splendor of colors and shapes, sing the mystery of the Assumption of Mary and her heavenly glory together with her Son. Among the latter, I invite you to admire two of them that are particularly significant in Rome: the mosaics of the apse of the Marian Basilicas of St. Mary Major and Santa Maria in Trastevere.

Theological and spiritual reflection, liturgy, Marian devotion, and artistic representation truly form a whole, a complete and effective message, capable of arousing the wonder of eyes, of touching the heart and of enticing the intelligence to a more profound understanding of the mystery of Mary in which we see our destiny reflected clearly and our hope proclaimed.

Therefore, I take advantage of this occasion to invite experts in theology and Mariology to follow the via pulchritudinis, and I hope that, also in our days, thanks to a greater collaboration between theologians, liturgists and artists, incisive and effective messages can be offered to the admiration and contemplation of all.

To encourage all those who wish to make their own contribution to the promotion and realization of a new Christian humanism, taking up the proposal formulated by the Council of Coordination, I am happy to assign ex aequo the Prize of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academies to the Marian Academy of India, young and active Marian-Mariological Society with headquarters in Bangalore, India -- represented by its president the Revd. Kulandaisamy Rayar -- and to professor Luis Alberto Esteves dos Santos Casimiro for his powerful doctoral dissertation entitled "A Anunciacao do Senhor na pintura quinhentista portuguesa (1500-1550): Analise geometrica, iconografica e significado iconologico."

Moreover, I wish that, as a sign of appreciation and encouragement, the Medal of the Pontificate be offered to the "Gen Verde" Group, expression of the Focolare Movement, for its artistic commitment strongly permeated by evangelical values and open to dialogue between peoples and cultures.

Wishing you, finally, an ever more passionate commitment in your respective fields of activity, I entrust each one of you and your work to the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, the Tota Pulchra, the Star of Hope, and impart from my heart to you, Lord Cardinal, and to all those present a special Apostolic Blessing.

In the Vatican, Dec. 15, 2010

BENEDICTUS PP XVI

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Pontiff's Address to Theological Commission Members
"Rooted in Sacred Scripture ... Theology Can Be School of Sanctity"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience members of the International Theological Commission at the close of the commission's plenary assembly.

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Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Illustrious Professors and Dear Collaborators!

I receive you with joy at the end of your annual plenary session. I would like first of all to express my heartfelt gratitude for the words of homage that, on behalf of all, Your Eminence, in his capacity of president of the International Theological Commission, addressed to me. The work of this eighth "quinquennium" of the commission, as you recalled, addresses the following very weighty topics: theology and its methodology; the question of the one God in relation to the three monotheistic religions; the integration of the social doctrine of the Church in the wider context of Christian doctrine.

"For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died. He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Corinthians 5:14-15). How can we not make our own this beautiful reaction of the Apostle Paul to his encounter with the risen Christ? In fact this experience is at the root of the three important topics on which you reflected in your plenary session that has just ended.

Whoever has discovered in Christ the love of God, infused by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, wishes to know better the one who loves him and whom he loves. Knowledge and love sustain one another in turn. As the Fathers of the Church affirmed, whoever loves God is impelled to become, in a certain sense, a theologian, one who speaks with God, who thinks of God and seeks to think with God, while the professional work of the theologian is for some a vocation of great responsibility before Christ and before the Church. To be able to study God himself professionally and to be able to speak with him -- "contemplari et contemplata docere" (St. Thomas Aquinas, Super Sent., book 3 d. 35 q. 1 a.3 qc. 1 arg.3) -- is a great privilege. Your reflection on the Christian vision of God can be a valuable contribution both for the life of the faithful as well as for our dialogue with believers of other religions and also with nonbelievers.

In fact, the word itself "theo-logy" reveals this communicative aspect of your work -- in theology we seek to communicate, through the "logos," what we have seen and heard" (1 John 1:3). However, we know well that the word "logos" has a much wider meaning, which includes also the sense of "ratio," "reason." And this fact leads us to a second very important point. We can think of God and communicate what we think because he has gifted us with a reason in harmony with his nature. It is no accident that John's Gospel begins with the affirmation "In the beginning was the Word ... and the Word was God" (John 1:1). To receive this Logos -- this divine thought -- is in the end also a contribution to peace in the world. In fact, to know God in his true nature is also the sure way to ensure peace. A God who is not perceived as the source of forgiveness, justice and love, could not be light on the path of peace.

Just as man always tends to connect his knowledge with the knowledge of others, knowledge of God is also organized systematically. However, no theological system can subsist if it is not permeated by the love of its divine "Object," which in theology must necessarily be "Subject," who speaks to us and with whom we are in a relationship of love. Thus theology must always be nourished by dialogue with the divine Logos, Creator and Redeemer. Moreover, no theology is such if it is not integrated in the life and reflection of the Church through time and space. Yes, it is true that, to be scientific, theology must argue in a rational way, but it must also be faithful to the nature of the ecclesial faith; centered on God, rooted in prayer, in communion with the other disciples of the Lord guaranteed by communion with the Successor of Peter and the whole episcopal college.

This reception and transmission of the Logos also has as a consequence that the rationality itself of theology helps to purify human reason, freeing it from certain prejudices and ideas that can exercise a strong influence on the thought of every age. Moreover, it must be highlighted that theology always lives in continuity and in dialogue with believers and theologians who came before us; because ecclesial communion is diachronic, and so is theology. The theologian never begins from zero, but considers as teacher the fathers and theologians of the whole Christian tradition. Rooted in sacred Scripture, read with the fathers and doctors, theology can be school of sanctity, as attested by Blessed John Henry Newman. To discover the permanent value of the richness transmitted from the past is no small contribution of theology to the concert of the sciences.

Christ died for all, though not all know it and accept it. Having received the love of God, how can we not love those for whom Christ gave his live? "He laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for our brethren" (1 John 3:16). All this leads us to service of others in the name of Christ; in other words, the social commitment of Christians stems necessarily from the manifestation of divine love. Contemplation of the revealed God and charity for our neighbor cannot be separated, even if they are lived according to different charisms. In a world that often appreciates many gifts of Christianity -- as, for example, the idea of democratic equality -- without understanding the roots of its ideals, it is particularly important to show that the fruits die if the roots of the tree are severed. Indeed there is no justice without truth, and justice does not develop fully if its horizon is limited to the material world. For us Christians social solidarity always has a perspective of eternity.

Dear theologian friends, our meeting today manifests in a beautiful and singular way the indispensable unity that must reign between theologians and pastors. One cannot be a theologian in solitude: Theologians have need of the ministry of the pastors of the Church, as the magisterium has need of theologians who thoroughly fulfill their service, with all the ascesis which that implies. Through your commission I wish therefore to thank all theologians and encourage them to have faith in the great value of their commitment. In expressing my best wishes for your work, I impart affectionately my blessing.

Benedict XVI Remembers Cardinal Navarrete
"One of the Faithful Disciples That the Father Gave to Christ"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the discourse Benedict XVI gave Nov. 24 in St. Peter's Basilica at the end of funeral Mass of Jesuit Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, the former rector of the Pontifical Gregorian University. The cardinal had died Nov. 22 at the age of 90.

* * *

"Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake" (Dn 12:2).

The words of the Prophet Daniel that we have just heard are a clear Biblical testimony to faith in the resurrection of the dead. The prophetic vision looks to the end of time: after a period of great anguish God will save his People. Nevertheless, salvation will only be for those whose names are written in "the book of life".

The horizon which Daniel describes is that of the people of the Covenant who, in times of difficulty, trial and persecution, must take their place before God, standing firm in the faith of the Fathers or renouncing it. The Prophet announces a twofold destiny, proclaiming that some will reawaken to "everlasting life" and others to "everlasting disgrace". God's justice is therefore emphasized; it does not permit those who have given their life to God to lose it forever.

This is Jesus' teaching: those who accept to put the Kingdom of God first, who can leave their home, father or mother for it and are prepared to lay down their life for this precious treasure will inherit eternal life (cf. Mt 19:29, Lk 9:24).

Your Eminences, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, all the faithful, in the light of Christ, our Life and Resurrection, today we are celebrating the Funeral Mass of dear and venerable Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, who completed his long and fruitful earthly pilgrimage last Monday, at the age of 90. He belongs, as we like to think, to the throng of those who spent their days without reservation for the Kingdom of God, and for this reason we are confident that his name is now written in "the book of life".

"And those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever" (Dn 12:3).

With a moved and grateful spirit, I desire at this moment to remember the late Cardinal as a "teacher of justice". The meticulous study and passionate teaching of canon law were a central element in his life. Teaching, especially the younger generations, about the true justice of Christ and of the Gospel: this is the ministry which Cardinal Navarrete exercised throughout his life. He generously dedicated himself to this, giving himself with humble willingness in the various situations in which obedience and God's Providence had placed him: from university classrooms, in particular as an expert in matrimonial law, to the office of Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University, to the important and responsible office of Rector Magnificent of the same athenaeum. I am likewise keen to underline his attention to important ecclesial events including the Diocesan Synod in Rome and the Second Vatican Council, as well as his competent scientific contribution to the revision of the Code of Canon Law and his fruitful collaboration with various Dicasteries of the Roman Curia, in the capacity of a valued consultor.

Regarding his priestly and religious vocation, Cardinal Navarrete said with simplicity in a recent interview: "I have never doubted my decision. Nor have I ever had doubts that this was not my path, not even in moments of strife" or difficulty. This affirmation sums up the generous fidelity of this servant of the Church to the call of the Lord and to the will of God. With his characteristic poise he used to say that there were three fundamental principles which guided him in his studies: great love for the past, for tradition, because someone in the scientific and particular in the ecclesiastical field who does not love the past is like a child without parents; secondly, his sensibility to problems, requirements, challenges of the present, where God has placed us; lastly, his capacity for looking out and opening himself to the future without fear but with the hope that comes with faith. This profoundly Christian vision guided his commitment to God and to the Church, in teaching and in his works.

"But God, who is rich in mercy... made us alive together with Christ" (Ep 2:4).

Illuminated by St Paul's words which we have heard in the Second Reading, we turn our gaze to the mystery of the Incarnation, Passion, death and Resurrection of Christ, where our authentic justice lies, a gift of God's. Divine grace poured out abundantly for us through the saving blood of the crucified Christ, who cleanses us from our sins, frees us from death and opens the gates of eternal life. The Apostle forcefully repeats: "by grace you have been saved" (Ep 2:5), by the gift of abundant love of the Father who sacrificed his Son. In Christ, man finds the way of salvation and human history receives its point of reference and its profound meaning. Today we remember Cardinal Urbano Navarrete in this horizon of hope. He fell asleep in the Lord at the end of an active life, in which he ceaselessly professed faith in this mystery of love, proclaiming to all with the word and with life: "by grace you have been saved" (ibid).

"Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me" (Jn 17:24).

Christ's ardent and salvific will illumines life after death. Jesus wants those whom God gave to him to be with him and to contemplate his glory. Therefore, there is a destiny of happiness, of full union with God, which leads to the faithfulness with which we are united with Jesus Christ on our earthly journey. It will mean entering into the Communion of Saints where they reign in peace and joy, taking part together in Christ's glory.

The shining truth of faith in eternal life comforts us every time we offer our final farewell to a deceased brother. Cardinal Urbano Navarrete, a spiritual son of St Ignatius of Loyola, is one of the faithful disciples that the Father gave to Christ "so that they may be with him", he was "with Jesus" in the course of his long life and knew his Name (cf. Jn 17:26).

He loved living in intimate union with him, especially in prolonged moments of prayer in which he drew from the source of salvation the strength to be faithful to God's will in every circumstance, even the most adverse. He learned this at home as a child, thanks to the luminous example of his parents, especially his father. His parents knew how to provide an atmosphere of profound Christian faith in their family, fostering in their six children, two Jesuits and three religious, the courage to witness to their faith, preferring nothing to the love of Christ and doing everything for the greater glory of God.

Dear friends, it is this gaze of faith that sustained the long life of our venerable Brother and it is this faith that he preached. Let us turn to God, rich in mercy, so that Cardinal Urbano Navarrete's faith may now become a vision, a face-to-face encounter with him, in whose love he cold recognize and seek the fulfilment of every law.

Let us entrust his soul to the intercession of the Mother of Jesus and our Mother. We may be certain that she, Speculum iustitiae, will welcome him, to introduce him into God's Heaven where he will enjoy for ever the fullness of peace. Amen.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Benedict XVI's Message to Cor Unum Retreat
"Renew Your Commitment to Be of Service to Your Brothers and Sisters"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2010 - Here is the text of the message Benedict XVI sent Nov. 23, via Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, to Cardinal Robert Sarah, president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, on the occasion of the spiritual exercises taking place at the Marian shrine of Jasna Gora in Czestochowa, Poland.

The retreat, which is for leaders of the Church's charity organizations in Europe, began Sunday and ends Friday. The theme of the encounter is: "Here I Am."

* * *

Your Eminence,

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to be informed of the spiritual exercises taking place at the Marian Shrine of Jasna Gora from Nov. 28 to Dec. 3, 2010, for people in positions of responsibility in Catholic charitable organizations throughout Europe, and he sends cordial greetings to all those taking part.

In view of the guiding theme of your meeting, the generous response of the prophet Isaiah to the call that he received from the Lord, the Holy Father prays that all of you will be moved by Christ's love to renew your commitment to be of service to your brothers and sisters in need. The "formation of the heart" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 31a), that these spiritual exercises are intended to foster, should enkindle within you the same sentiments of self-giving love that moved the Lord Jesus to bend down to wash the feet of his disciples and to lay down his life for his sheep (cf. ibid., No. 19).

With these sentiments, His Holiness assures all those present of his closeness in prayer. Commending them all to the intercession of Our Lady of Czestochowa, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing.

Offering my own prayerful good wishes for the occasion, I remain

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State

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Papal Address to 24 New Cardinals
"I Encourage You to Continue in Your Spiritual and Apostolic Mission"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience in Paul VI Hall the 24 new cardinals who were created Saturday, as well as their friends and family.

* * *

[In Italian]

Esteemed Cardinals
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate
Dear Friends!

Still alive in our minds and hearts are the feelings and emotions that we experienced yesterday and the day before, on the occasion of the creation of 24 new cardinals. They were moments of fervent prayer and profound communion, which today we would like to prolong with our spirits filled with gratitude to the Lord, who gave us the joy of living a new page in the history of the Church. Therefore, I am also happy to receive you today in this simple and family meeting, and to address by cordial greeting to the new cardinals, as well as to their relatives, friends and all those accompanying them in this very solemn and important circumstance.

I greet in the first place the dear Italian cardinals! I greet you Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for Saints' Causes; I greet you, Cardinal Francesco Monterisi, archpriest of the Papal Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls; I greet you, Cardinal Fortunato Baldelli, major penitentiary of the Apostolic Penitentiary; I greet you, Cardinal Paolo Sardi, vice chamberlain of Apostolic Chamber; I greet you, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy; I greet you, Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, president of the Prefecture for the Economic Affairs of the Holy See; I greet you, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture; I greet you, Cardinal Paolo Romeo of Palermo, Italy; I greet you, Cardinal Elio Sgreccia, former president of the Pontifical Academy for Life; I greet you, Cardinal Domenico Bartolucci, former director of the Pontifical Choir.

Dear and Venerable Brothers, through you, the Church that is in Italy has enriched the College of Cardinals with further pastoral wisdom and apostolic enthusiasm. I willingly extend my cordial greeting to all those who share with you the joy of this moment and exhort them to ensure the support of their prayer, so that you will be able to persevere faithfully in your respective tasks to the advantage of the Gospel and of the whole Christian people.

[In French]

I address my cordial greeting to the new French-speaking cardinals: the Patriarch of Alexandria of the Copts, Egypt Cardinal Antonios Naguib; the president of the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, Cardinal Robert Sarah; the archbishop of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cardinal Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya. I also greet with joy those near to you and all the persons that accompany you in these days of celebration that we have just experienced.

Dear friends, these celebrations call us to extend our look to the dimensions of the universal Church. I invite you to pray for the new cardinals so that in communion with the Successor of Peter they may work effectively for the unity and sanctity of the whole People of God. And you, yourselves, be ardent witnesses of the Gospel to give the world the hope of which it is in need and to contribute to the establishment of peace and fraternity everywhere.

[In English]

I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking prelates whom I had the joy of raising to the dignity of cardinal in last Saturday's Consistory, Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature; Cardinal Medardo Joseph Mazombwe, archbishop emeritus of Lusaka (Zambia); Cardinal Donald William Wuerl, archbishop of Washington (USA) and Cardinal Albert Malcolm Ranjith Patabendige Don, archbishop of Colombo (Sri Lanka).

I also welcome their family members and friends, and all the faithful who have accompanied them to Rome.

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

[In German:]

I address a particular greeting to the new German-speaking cardinals. I begin with Cardinal Kurt Koch, whom I greet cordially together with his relatives, his friends and his guests from Switzerland, above all the representatives of the Diocese of Basle in which he has worked as bishop for many years, as well as the representatives of the Federal Council and of the Cantons. Unite yourselves to him in prayer and support him in his important task for the universal Church and as collaborator of the Pope at the service of Christian unity.

With joy I also extend my welcome to Cardinal Reinhard Marx and to his family, his guests and pilgrims of the Archdiocese of Munich und Freising, to the bishops, the collaborators in the different episcopal institutions, to the representatives of politics and public life and to believers of the Diocese of Trier and of his native Diocese of Paderborn.

Finally, I cordially greet Dardinal Walter Brandmuller, his relatives and friends of Rome, Augusta and Bamberg. Dear friends, the cardinals participate in a particular way in the solicitude of the Successor of Peter for the universal Church. The sign of this is the luminous red of the purple, which evidences the fact that they must be the ones that protect and defend the flock of Christ to the extreme consequences, to the gift of their own blood.

Support them in carrying out their task with your prayer and your commitment to the Church.

[In Spanish]

I greet affectionately the Spanish-speaking cardinals, accompanied by their relatives and so many bishops, priests, religious and laity who have come especially from Ecuador and Spain. The Church in Ecuador is rejoicing for Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, retired archbishop of Quito, Ecuador, who with exemplary zeal and dedication has also carried out his episcopal ministry in Guayaquil, Azogues, and as Ordinary Military bishop.

The Church of Spain also congratulates Cardinal José Manuel Estepa Llaurens, retired archbishop of Spain's military, who rendered valuable service participating in the writing of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. I invite you all to support the new members of the College of Cardinals with your prayer and spiritual closeness so that, moved by intense love of Christ and united in close communion with the Successor of Peter, they may continue to serve the Church with fidelity.

[In Portuguese]

I greet Cardinal Raymundo Damasceno Assis, surrounded here by friendly persons, congratulating him for seeing his person more intimately associated with the Pope's ministry. Your presence reminds me of the hours of profound joy and great ecclesial hope lived in Aparecida, during my unforgettable visit to Brazil that, above all in that day, was extended to the whole Latin American Continent and the Caribbean, as your episcopate was meeting there in communion of faith, hope and love, under the maternal gaze of Mary, around the Successor of Peter.

Today with you I reiterate my affectionate trust to the cardinal archbishop of Aparecida and I pray to Our Lady to protect and assist you all, illuminating your way with hope, in union as your Pastor and friend, to establish all things in Christ.

[In Polish]

I address expressions of greeting to Cardinal Kazimierz Nycz and to his guests. The appointment of cardinal now obliges to solicitude not only for the local Church, but for the fortunes of the universal Church, as well as close collaboration with the Pope in carrying out the Petrine office. Because of this I implore for him all the necessary graces, and ask you all for constant prayer for the light and strength of the Holy Spirit -- Spirit of wisdom and counsel. May God bless you!

[In italian]

Dear and venerable brothers who have become part of the College of Cardinals! I renew to each one of you my cordial best wishes. Your ministry is enriched by a further commitment in supporting the Successor of Peter, in his universal service to the Church. I count so much on you, on your prayer and on your valuable help. With fraternal esteem, I encourage you to continue in your spiritual and apostolic mission, which has experienced a very important stage. Keep your look fixed on Christ, attributing to him every grace and spiritual comfort, on the luminous example of Holy cardinals, intrepid servants of the Church who in the course of the centuries have rendered glory to God with heroic exercise of the virtues and tenacious fidelity to the Gospel.

I invoke on you and on those present the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and of martyr St. Cecilia, whose memorial we celebrate today. May the patroness of music and bel canto accompany and support you in your commitment to be in the Church attentive listeners of the different voices, to render more profound the unity of hearts. With such sentiments I impart with affection to you and to all those present a special apostolic blessing.

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Pope's Homily at Ordinary Public Consistory
"Logic of the Cross ... Is at the Bottom of All Exercise of Authority"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2010 - Here is the homily Benedict XVI delivered Saturday during the consistory in which 24 new cardinals were created.

* * *

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

Once again the Lord gives me the joy of carrying out this solemn act, in which the College of Cardinals is enriched with new members, chosen from different parts of the world: they are pastors who govern with zeal important diocesan communities, prelates assigned to dicasteries of the Roman Curia, or who have served the Church and the Holy See with exemplary fidelity. From today onward they become part of that "coetus peculiaris," which gives the Successor of Peter a more immediate and assiduous collaboration, supporting him in the exercise of his universal ministry. To them first of all, I address by affectionate greeting, renewing the expression of my esteem and of my heartfelt appreciation for the testimony that they render to the Church and to the world. In particular, I greet archbishop Angelo Amato and I thank him for the kind expressions he addressed to me. I then give my cordial welcome to the official delegations of several countries, to the representations of numerous dioceses, and to all those gathered here to take part in this event, during which these venerable and dear Brothers receive the sign of the cardinal's dignity with the imposition of the berretta and the assignment of the Title of a church of Rome.

The bond of special communion and affection, which links these new cardinals to the Pope, renders them singular and precious cooperators of the high mandate entrusted by Christ to Peter, to feed his sheep (cf. John 21:15-17), to gather the people with the solicitude of the charity of Christ. It is precisely from this love that the Church was born, called to live and journey according to the commandment of the Lord, in which is summarized all the Law and the prophets. To be united to Christ in faith and in communion with Him means to be "rooted and grounded in love" (Ephesians 3:17), the fabric that unites all the members of the Body of Christ.

In fact, the Word of God just proclaimed helps us to meditate on this very fundamental aspect. Placed before our eyes in the passage of the Gospel (Mark 10:32-45) is the icon of Jesus as the Messiah -- proclaimed ahead of time by Isaiah (cf. Isaiah 53) -- who did not come to be served, but to serve: his style of life becomes the basis of new relationships within the Christian community and a new way of exercising authority, Jesus is on the way to Jerusalem and proclaims for the third time, indicating to his disciples the way by which he intends to fulfill the work entrusted to him by the Father: it is the way of the humble gift of self to the sacrifice of his life, the way of the Passion, the way of the Cross. And yet, even after this announcement, as happened with those who preceded, the disciples reveal all their effort to understand, to undertake the necessary "exodus" from a worldly mentality to God's mentality. In this case it is the two sons of Zebedee, James and John, who ask Jesus for seats next to him in "glory", manifesting expectations and plans of greatness, authority, of honor according to the world. Jesus, who knows the human heart, is not disturbed by this request, but immediately brings to light the profound significance: "you do not know what you ask"; then he leads the two brothers to understand what it means to follow him.

What, then, is the way that must be followed by one who wishes to be a disciple? It is the way of the Master, it is the way of total obedience to God. Because of this Jesus asked James and John: are you ready to share and to fulfill to the end by choice the will of the Father? Are you prepared to follow this road that passes through humiliation, suffering and death out of love? The two disciples, with their sure answer, "we can," show once again that they did not understand the real meaning of what awaited their Master. And again Jesus, with patience, makes them understand a further step: not even experiencing the chalice of suffering and the baptism of death gives the right to the first places, because they are "for those from whom they have been prepared," it is in the hand of the heavenly Father; man must not calculate, he must simply abandon himself to God, without pretensions, conforming himself to his will.

The indignation of the other disciples becomes the occasion to extend the teaching to the whole community. First of all Jesus "called them to himself": it is the gesture of the original vocation, to which he invites them to return. Very significant is this reference to the constitutive moment of the vocation of the Twelve, to "being with Jesus" to be sent, because it reminds clearly that every ecclesial ministry is always a response to a call of God, it is never the fruit of one's own plan or of one's ambition, but it is to conform one's will to that of the Father who is in Heaven, as Christ at Gethsemane (cf. Luke 22:42). No one is boss in the Church, but all are called, all are sent, all are gathered and guided by divine grace. And this is also our security. Only by listening again to the word of Jesus, who asks "come and follow me," only by returning to the original vocation is it possible to understand one's own presence and mission in the Church as genuine disciples.

James' and John's request and the indignation of the "other 10" Apostles raise a central question to which Jesus wishes to respond: who is great, who is "first" for God? First of all attention goes to the conduct that runs the risk of assuming it is "those that are considered the rulers of nations": "to dominate and oppress." Jesus points out to his disciples a completely different way: "Among you, however, it is not thus." His community follows another rule, another logic, another model: "Whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be the slave of all." The criterion of greatness and primacy according to God is not dominion but service, diakonia is the fundamental law of the disciple and of the Christian community and it allows us to perceive something of the "Lordship of God." And Jesus also indicates the point of reference: the Son of man, who came to serve, summarizes his mission under the category of service, understood not in the generic sense, but in the concrete way of the Cross, of the total gift of life as "ransom," as redemption for many, and he indicates it as condition to follow him. It is a message that is true for the Apostles, for the whole Church, true above all for those who have tasks to guide the People of God. It is not the logic of dominion, of power according to human criteria, but the logic of bending down to wash the feet, the logic of service, the logic of the Cross which is at the bottom of all exercise of authority. At all times the Church is committed to be conformed to this logic and to attest it to make the true "Lordship of God " shine, which is that of love.

Venerable brothers elected to the dignity of cardinal, the mission to which God calls you today and that equips you to an ecclesial service that is even more charged with responsibility, requires an ever greater willingness to assume the style of the Son of God, who came among us as one who serves (cf. Luke 22:25-27. It is a question of following him in giving his humble and total love to the Church his Bride, on the Cross: it is on that wood that the grain of wheat, dropped by the Father on the field of the world, dies to become a mature fruit. Because of this there must be an even more profound and solid rootedness in Christ. The profound relationship with Him, which increasingly transforms life so as to be able to say with Saint Paul "it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Galatians 2:20), constitutes the primary exigency, for our service to be serene and joyful and be able to give the fruit that the Lord expects from us.

Dear brothers and sisters, who today crown the new cardinals: pray for them. Tomorrow, in this Basilica, during the concelebration of the solemnity of Christ King of the universe, I will hand the ring to them. It will be a further occasion in which "to praise the Lord, who remains forever faithful" (Psalm 145), as we repeated in the Responsorial Psalm. May his Spirit support the new cardinals in the commitment of service to the Church, following the Christ of the Cross even, if necessary, "usque ad effusionem sanguinis," always ready -- as St. Peter said to us in the reading -- always be prepared to make a defense to any one who calls us to account for the hope that is in us (cf. 1 Peter 3:15). I entrust to Mary, Mother of the Church, the new cardinals and their ecclesial service, so that with apostolic ardor, they may proclaim to all people the merciful love of God. Amen.

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Statement on Pontiff's Words Regarding Condoms
"The Pope Does Not Reform or Change the Church's Teaching"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2010 - Here is a statement released today by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, regarding the words of Benedict XVI regarding condoms as recorded in a book, "Light of the World," scheduled for release on Tuesday.

On Saturday, L'Osservatore Romano published some quotes from this book, which drew public interest and prompted Father Lombardi to release a statement of clarification. ZENIT will publish excerpts from the English translation of the book over the next couple of days.

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At the end of chapter 10 of the book "Light of the World" the Pope responds to two questions about the battle against AIDS and the use of condoms, questions that reconnect with the discussion that followed some statements that the Pope made on the theme during the course of his trip to Africa in 2009.

The Pope again clearly stresses that at that time he had not intended to take a position on the problem of condoms in general, but wanted to affirm with force that the problem of AIDS cannot be solved simply by distributing condoms, because much more needs to be done: prevention, education, help, counsel, being with people both to keep them from getting sick and in the case that they do get sick.

The Pope observes that even in the non-ecclesial context an analogous awareness has developed, as is apparent in the so-called ABC theory (Abstinence -- Be Faithful -- Condom), in which the first two elements (abstinence and fidelity) are more decisive and basic in the battle against AIDS, while condoms appear in the last place as a way out, when the other two are not there. It should thus be clear that condoms are not the solution to the problem.

The Pope then broadens the perspective and insists on the fact that focusing only on condoms is equivalent to banalizing sexuality, which loses its meaning as an expression of love between persons and becomes a "drug." Fighting against banalization of sexuality is "part of the great effort to help sexuality be valued positively and have a positive effect on man in his totality."

In the light of this broad and profound vision of human sexuality and the contemporary discussion of it, the Pope reaffirms that "naturally the Church does not consider condoms as the authentic and moral solution" to the problem of AIDS.

In this the Pope does not reform or change the Church's teaching, but reaffirms it, placing it in the perspective of the value and dignity of human sexuality as an expression of responsible love.

At the same time the Pope considers an exceptional circumstance in which the exercise of sexuality represents a real threat for the life of another. In that case, the Pope does not morally justify the disordered exercise of sexuality but maintains that the use of a condom to reduce the danger of infection may be "a first act of responsibility," "a first step on the road toward a more human sexuality," rather than not using it and exposing the other to risking his life.

In this, the reasoning of the Pope certainly cannot be defined as a revolutionary change. Numerous moral theologians and authoritative ecclesiastical figures have supported and support analogous positions; it is nevertheless true that we have not heard this with such clarity from the mouth of the Pope, even if it is in a informal and not magisterial form.

With courage Benedict XVI thus offers us an important contribution of clarification and reflection on a question that has long been debated. It is an original contribution, because on one hand it maintains fidelity to moral principles and demonstrates lucidity in refuting an illusory path like that of the "confidence is condoms"; on the other hand, however, it manifests a comprehensive and far-seeing vision, attentive to uncovering the small steps -- even if only initial and still confused -- of an often spiritually and culturally impoverished humanity, toward a more human and responsible exercise of sexuality.

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Papal Words to Members of Christian Unity Council
"The Unity of Christians Is and Remains Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, which ends Friday in Rome. The plenary, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the institution of the dicastery, is considering the theme: "Toward a New Stage of Ecumenical Dialogue."

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Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

It is a great joy for me to meet with you on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, during which you are reflecting on the theme: "Toward a New Stage of Ecumenical Dialogue." In addressing my cordial greeting to each one of you, I also wish to thank in a particular way the president, Archbishop Kurt Koch, for the warm expressions with which he interpreted your sentiments.

Yesterday, as Archbishop Koch has recalled, you celebrated with a solemn commemorative ceremony, the 50th anniversary of the institution of your dicastery. On June 5, 1960, eve of the Second Vatican Council, which indicated the ecumenical commitment as central for the Church, Blessed John XXIII created the Secretariat for the Promotion of Christian Unity, called later, in 1988, Pontifical Council. It was an act that constituted a milestone for the ecumenical path of the Catholic Church. In the course of 50 years, it has covered much territory. I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude to all those who have given their service in the pontifical council, remembering first of all the presidents who succeeded one another: Cardinal Augustin Bea, Cardinal Johannes Willebrands, and Cardinal Edward Idris Cassidy; and I am especially pleased to thank Cardinal Walter Kasper, who led the dicastery, with competence and passion, over the last 11 years. I thank the members and consultors, officials and collaborators, those who have contributed to undertake theological dialogues and ecumenical meetings, and all those who have prayed to the Lord for the gift of visible unity between Christians. They are 50 years in which a truer knowledge and greater esteem have been acquired with the Churches and the ecclesial communities, overcoming prejudices cemented by history; there has been growth in the theological dialogue, but also in that of charity; several forms of collaboration have been developed, among which, in addition to those of the defense of life, the safeguarding of creation and the combating of injustice, important and fruitful has been that in the field of the ecumenical translations of sacred Scripture.

In these last years, then, the pontifical council has been committed, among other things, in a wide project, the so-called Harvest Project, to sketch an initial evaluation of the goals achieved in the theological dialogues with the principal ecclesial communities of Vatican II. It is a precious work that has made evident both the areas of convergence, as well as those in which it is necessary to continue and deepen reflection. Thanking God for the fruits already gathered, I encourage you to continue your efforts to promote a correct reception of the results attained and to make known with exactness the present state of theological research at the service of the path to unity. Today some think that this path, especially in the West, has lost its élan; noted now is the urgency to revive ecumenical interest and to give new incisiveness to the dialogues. Unheard of challenges, then, appear: the new anthropological and ethical interpretations, the ecumenical formation of the new generations, the further fragmentation of the ecumenical scene. It is essential to be aware of such changes and to identify the ways to proceed effectively in the light of the will of the Lord: "That they may all be one" (John 17:21).

Also with the Orthodox Churches and the Ancient Eastern Churches, with which "very close bonds" exist ("Unitatis Redintegratio," No. 15), the Catholic Church continues the dialogue with passion, seeking to deepen, in a serious and rigorous way, the common theological, liturgical and spiritual patrimony, and to address with serenity and commitment the elements that still divide us. With the Orthodox we have succeeded in touching a crucial point of encounter and reflection: the role of the Bishop of Rome in the communion of the Church. And the ecclesiological question is also at the center of the dialogue with the Ancient Eastern Churches: Despite many centuries of misunderstanding and separation, witnessed with joy is our having kept a precious common patrimony.

Dear friends, despite the presence of new problematic situations or difficult points for the dialogue, the aim of the ecumenical path remains unchanged, as does the firm commitment in pursuing it. It is not, however, a commitment according to political categories, so to speak, in which the ability to negotiate or the greater capacity to find compromises come into play, from which could be expected, as good mediators, that, after a certain time, one will arrive at agreements acceptable to all. Ecumenical action has a twofold movement. On one hand there is the convinced, passionate and tenacious search to find full unity in truth, to excogitate models of unity, to illumine oppositions and dark points in order to reach unity. And this in the necessary theological dialogue, but above all in prayer and in penance, in that spiritual ecumenism which constitutes the throbbing heart of the whole path: The unity of Christians is and remains prayer, it resides in prayer. On the other hand, another operative movement, which arises from the firm awareness that we do not know the hour of the realization of the unity among all the disciples of Christ and we cannot know it, because unity is not "made by us," God "makes" it: it comes from above, from the unity of the Father with the Son in the dialogue of love which is the Holy Spirit; it is a taking part in the divine unity. And this should not make our commitment diminish, rather, it should make us ever more attentive to receive the signs of the times of the Lord, knowing how to recognize with gratitude that which already unites us and working to consolidate it and make it grow. In the end, also in the ecumenical path, it is about leaving to God what is only his and of exploring, with seriousness, constancy and dedication, what is our task, being aware that to our commitment belongs the binomial of acting and suffering, of activity and patience, of effort and joy.

We confidently invoke the Holy Spirit, so that he will guide our way and that each one will feel with renewed vigor the appeal to work for the ecumenical cause. I encourage all of you to continue your work; it is a help that you render to the Bishop of Rome in fulfilling his mission at the service of unity. As a sign of affection and gratitude, I impart to you my heartfelt apostolic blessing.

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Pope's Message to Health Care Conference
"The Bond Between Justice and Charity ... Is Very Close"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 18, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message that Benedict XVI sent to the 25th international conference of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, which began today in Rome. The congress is considering the theme: "Caritas in Veritate -- For Equitable and Human Health Care." Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, delivered the address on behalf of the Pontiff.

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To the Venerable Brother
Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski
President of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry

With joy I wish to add my cordial greeting to the participants in the 25th International Conference, which is rightly inserted in the celebratory year of the 25th anniversary of the institution of the dicastery, and offers a further reason to thank God for this precious instrument for the apostolate of mercy. A grateful thought to all those who do their utmost, in the different sectors of health pastoral care to live the diakonia of charity, which is central in the mission of the Church. In this connection, I am pleased to remember Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini and Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, who over these 25 years led the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, and to address a particular greeting to the current president of the dicastery, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, as well as to the secretary, the undersecretary, the officials, the collaborators, the speakers of the Congress, and all those present.

The topic chosen by you this year "Caritas in Veritate -- For Equitable and Human Health Care," is of particular interest for the Christian community, in which the care of the human being is central, because of his transcendent dignity and inalienable rights. Health is a precious good for the person and society to promote, conserve and protect, dedicating the means, resources and energies necessary so that more persons can enjoy it. Unfortunately, the problem still remains today of many populations of the world that do not have access to the necessary resources to satisfy fundamental needs, particularly in regard to health. It is necessary to work with greater commitment at all levels so that the right to health is rendered effective, favoring access to primary health care. In our time we witness on one hand a care of health that risks being transformed into pharmacological consumerism, medical and surgical, becoming almost a cult of the body, and on the other, the difficulty of millions of persons to accede to conditions of minimal subsistence and indispensable medicines to be cured.

Important also in the field of health, integral part of each one's existence and of the common good, is to establish a true distributive justice that guarantees to all, on the basis of objective needs, adequate care. Consequently, the world of health cannot be subtracted from the moral rules that should govern it so that it will not become inhuman. As I stressed in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," the social doctrine of the Church has always evidenced the importance of distributive justice and of social justice in the different sectors of human relations (No. 35). Justice is promoted when one receives the life of the other and one assumes responsibility for him, responding to his expectations, because in him one grasps the face itself of the Son of God, who for us was made man. The divine image impressed in our brother is the foundation of the lofty dignity of every person and arouses in each one the need of respect, of care and of service. The bond between justice and charity, in the Christian perspective, is very close: "Charity exceeds justice, because to love is to give, to offer of my 'own' to the other; but it is never without justice, which induces to give the other what is 'his,' that which is due to him by reason of his being and his acting. [...] He who loves others with charity is first of all just to them. Not only is justice not foreign to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel way to charity: Justice is 'inseparable from charity,' intrinsic to it. Justice is the first way of charity" (Ibid., 6). In this connection, with a synthetic and incisive expression, St. Augustine taught that "justice consists in helping the poor" ("De Trinitate," XIV, 9: PL 42, 1045).

To bend down as the Good Samaritan to the wounded man abandoned on the side of the road is to fulfill that "greater justice" that Jesus asks of his disciples and acted in his life, because love is the fulfillment of the Law. The Christian community, following in the footsteps of its Lord, has carried out the mandate to go out into the world "to teach and cure the sick" and over the centuries "has strongly realized the service to the sick and suffering as an integral part of its mission" (John Paul II, motu proprio "Dolentium Hominum," No. 1), of witnessing integral salvation, which is health of soul and body.

The People of God, pilgrimaging on the torturous paths of history joins its efforts to those of so many other men and women of good will to give a truly human face to health systems. Health justice should be among the priorities of governments and international institutions. Unfortunately, next to positive and encouraging results, there are opinions and lines of thought that wound it: I am referring to questions such as those connected with so-called "reproductive health," with recourse to artificial techniques of procreation entailing the destruction of embryos, or with legalized euthanasia. Love of justice, the protection of life from conception to its natural end, respect for the dignity of every human being, are to be upheld and witnessed, even against the current: the fundamental ethical values are the common patrimony of universal morality and the basis of democratic coexistence.

What is necessary is the joint effort of all, but also necessary and above all is a profound conversion of the interior look. Only if one looks at the world with the look of the Creator, which is a look of love, humanity will learn to be on earth in peace and justice, allocating with equity the earth and its resources to the good of every man and every woman. Because of this, "I hope for [...] the adoption of a model of development founded on the centrality of the human being, on the promotion and sharing of the common good, on responsibility, on the awareness of the necessary change of lifestyles and on prudence, virtue that indicates the actions to be carried out today, in expectation of what might happen tomorrow" (Benedict XVI, Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, 9).

To suffering brothers and sisters I express my closeness and also the appeal to live illness as an occasion of grace to grow spiritually and participate in the sufferings of Christ for the good of the world, and to all of you, committed in the vast field of health, I give my encouragement for your precious service. In praying for the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, "Salus infirmorum," I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing which I extend also to your families.

From the Vatican, Nov. 15, 2010

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Vatican, Nov. 9, 2010

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In the Vatican, Nov. 3, 2010

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

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

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Cardinals,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eminence,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

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

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

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

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

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

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal Decree Establishing New Council
"Ubicumque et Semper"

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

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

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Apostolic letter in the form of motu proprio

Ubicumque et Semper

of the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Art. 1.

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

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

Art. 2.

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

Art. 3.

Pointed out among the specific tasks of the Council are:

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

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

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

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

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

Art. 4.

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

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

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

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

BENEDICTUS PP. XVI

[Translation by ZENIT]

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

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

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

* * *

Venerable Brother,

Cardinal Ennio Antonelli,

President of the Pontifical Council for the Family,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Castel Gandolfo, August 23, 2010

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

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

* * *

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Papal Address to Aid Agencies for Eastern Churches
"We All Desire ... Stable Peace and Solid Coexistence"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today on receiving in audience members of the Assembly of Societies for Aid to Eastern Churches (ROACO).

* * *

[In Italian]

Esteemed Cardinal,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Members and Friends of ROACO,

I welcome you with joy for the summer session of the Reunion of Aid Agencies for the Oriental Churches, and my heartfelt thanks to Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, prefect of the Congregation for Eastern Churches, for the greeting he addressed to me. I return it accompanied by my remembrance in prayer to the Lord and I extend it to the archbishop secretary, to the undersecretary and to the collaborators of the dicastery, with a cordial thought for the papal representative in Jerusalem, in Israel and Palestine, for the Maronite archbishop of Cyprus and the Father Custos of the Holy Land, gathered here with the representatives of the international Catholic agencies and of Bethlehem University. I express to all my gratitude and that of the whole Church, in particular of the pastors and of the Eastern and Latin faithful of the territories entrusted to the Oriental Congregation and of all those who have emigrated from the homeland.

[In French]

We all desire for the Holy Land, Iraq and the Middle East the gift of a stable peace and solid coexistence. These are born from respect of human rights, of families, communities and peoples, and by the overcoming of religious, cultural or social discrimination. I entrust you to God, but also to you the appeal I launched in Cyprus for the Christian East. As instruments of ecclesial charity, continue collaborating for the construction of justice, liberty and peace!

I encourage the brothers and sisters who, in the East, share the inestimable gift of baptism, to persevere in the faith and, despite the many sacrifices, to stay where they were born. At the same time, I urge the Eastern migrants not to forget their origins, above all the religious. Their fidelity and human and Christian coherence depend on it. I wish to pay special homage to Christians who suffer violence because of the Gospel, and I commend them to God. I continue to count on the leaders of nations to guarantee in a real way and everywhere, without distinction, the public and community profession of the religious beliefs of each one.

Last year, on the occasion and because of the Year for Priests, I requested that special attention be given to the ministers of Christ and of the Church. Abundant fruits of holiness have arisen not only for priests, but also for the whole people of God. I pray to the Holy Spirit that He confirm these signs of divine favor through the gift of vocations, which the ecclesial community so needs, both in the East as well as the West.

[In German]

I am happy to see that the Catholic Eastern Churches have collaborated zealously in the concretion of the objectives of the Year for Priests and that ROACO's aid works have also supported them in this area. You not only considered the formation of the candidates to Holy Orders, which is a constant priority, but also the needs of the clergy active in the pastoral care of vocations as, for example, spiritual and cultural updating and aid to priests, above all in the difficult but at the same time fruitful phase of sickness and old age. Thus you contribute to radiate in the Church and in present-day society the precious and indispensable gift of the priestly service. In the ancient world, the East was the headquarters of great schools of priestly spirituality. The Church of Antioch, to give an example, produced exceptional saints: extremely educated priests, who did not put themselves forward but Christ and the Apostles. They were entirely dedicated to the proclamation of the Word and to the celebration of the divine mysteries. They were able to touch persons profoundly in their conscience and to reach what merely human means cannot reach.

Dear friends, with your commitment you contribute above all to the fact that the priests of the Eastern Churches can be, in our time, echo of that spiritual heritage. In the network of school and social institutions, which is, in fact, one of your endeavors, it will give a strong impulse to flower in a firm pastoral perspective. When priests are guided in their service by truly spiritual motives, then the laity also is reinforced in its commitment to be engaged in temporal things according to their own Christian vocation.

[In English]

We now have the common task of preparing for the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops. I thank God for this initiative, which is already producing the beneficial fruits of "communion and witness" for which the synod was initially convoked. Last year at Castel Gandolfo, I had the pleasure of announcing this Synodal Assembly during a meeting of fraternal prayer and reflection with the Patriarchs and Major Archbishops of the Eastern Churches. During my recent visit to Cyprus, which I recall with much gratitude to God and to those who welcomed me, I consigned the Instrumentum Laboris of this Special Assembly to representatives of the Episcopate of the Middle East. I am pleased at the broad cooperation provided thus far by the Eastern Churches and for the work which, from the beginning, R.O.A.C.O. has done, and continues to do for this historical event. This joint effort will have fruitful results because of the presence of some of your representatives at this episcopal gathering and your ongoing relationship with the Congregation for the Eastern Churches.

[In Italian]

Dear friends, I ask you to contribute with your works to maintain alive the "hope that does not disappoint" among the Christians of the East (Romans 5:5; cf. Instrumentum laboris, Conclusions). In the "little flock" (Luke 12:32) that they make up already operating is the future of God, and the "narrow way" that they are following is described by the Gospel as "way of life" (Matthew 7:13-14). We would always like to be by their side! Confident of the intercession of the most Holy Mother of God and of the holy Apostles Peter and Paul, I entrust to the Lord the benefactors, friends and collaborators living and dead, joined in different ways to ROACO, with a particular remembrance of monsignor Padovese, recently deceased, while I impart to each one of you, to those who make up and those who support the international agencies, as well as to all the beloved Eastern Catholic Churches the comforting Apostolic Blessing.

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Papal Address to Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy
"Assume a True 'Passion' for Ecclesial Communion"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. The academy is responsible for training candidates for the Holy See diplomatic service.

* * *

Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate
Dear Priests,

I always welcome you with joy for our usual meeting, which offers me the occasion to greet and encourage you and to propose to you some reflections on the meaning of the work in the papal representations. I greet the president, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, who follows your formation with determination and ecclesial sense, and I thank him for the words he addressed to me on behalf of you all. A happy thought goes to his collaborators and to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Child Jesus.

I would like to reflect briefly on the concept of representation. Not rarely, it is considered in a partial way in contemporary understanding: in fact, there is a tendency to associate it to something merely external, formal, not very personal.

The service of representation for which you have been preparing yourselves is instead something far more profound because it is participation in the "sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum," which characterizes the ministry of the Roman Pontiff. It is, because of this, an eminently personal reality, destined to influence profoundly the one who is called to undertake such a particular task. Precisely in this ecclesial perspective, the exercise of representation implies the exigency to receive and nourish with special attention in one's priestly life some dimensions, which I would like to point out, though concisely, so that they will be a motive of reflection in your path of formation.

First of all, to cultivate a full interior adherence to the person of the Pope, to his Magisterium and to the universal ministry; full adherence, that is, of the one who has received the task to confirm brothers in the faith (cf. Luke 22:32) and "is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity, be it of the bishops or of the multitude of the faithful" (Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Constitution "Lumen Gentium," 23). In the second place, to assume, as style of life and as daily priority, an attentive care -- a true "passion" -- for ecclesial communion. Again, to represent the Roman Pontiff means to have the capacity to be a solid "bridge," a sure channel of communication between the particular Churches and the Apostolic See: on one hand, putting at the disposition of the Pope and of his collaborators an objective, correct and profound view of the ecclesial and social reality in which one lives, on the other, being committed to transmit the norms, indications and guidelines that emanate from the Holy See, not in a bureaucratic way, but with profound love of the Church and with the help of personal trust patiently built, respecting and appreciating, at the same time, the efforts of the Bishops and the path of the particular Churches to which one is invited.

As can be intuited, the service you are preparing to carry out calls for full determination and generous willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, personal intuitions, one's own projects and other possibilities of exercising the priestly ministry. In a perspective of faith and of concrete response to God's call -- to be nourished always in an intense relationship with the Lord -- this does not devalue each one's originality but, on the contrary, is extremely enriching: the effort to be in synch with the universal perspective and with the service to the unity of God's flock, peculiar to the Petrine ministry, is in fact able to value, in a singular way, the gifts and talents of each one, according to that logic that Saint Paul well expressed to the Christians of Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). In this way, the papal representative -- in agreement with those who collaborate with him -- truly becomes a sign of the presence and of the charity of the Pope. And if that is a benefit for the life of all the particular Churches, it is so especially in those particularly delicate or difficult situations in which, for varied reasons, the Christian community finds itself having to live. Properly viewed, it is an authentic priestly service, characterized by an analogy not remote from the representation of Christ, typical of the priest that, as such, has an intrinsic sacrificial dimension.

Precisely from here derives also the peculiar style of the service of representation that you will be called to exercise with State Authorities or with international organizations. In fact, also in these realms the figure and manner of presence of the Nuncio, of the Apostolic Delegate, of the Permanent Observer, is determined not only by the environment in which one operates but first of all and primarily, by him that one is called to represent. This puts the Papal Representative in a particular position in regard to other Ambassadors or Envoys. He, in fact, will always be profoundly identified, in a supernatural sense, with the one whom he represents. To be spokesman of the Vicar of Christ could be demanding, at times extremely exacting, but it will never be mortifying or depersonalizing. It becomes, instead, an original way of carrying out one's priestly vocation.

Dear students, I hope that your house might be, as my predecessor Paul VI liked to say, a "higher school of charity," my prayer accompanies you, while I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, and to St. Anthony Abbot, patron of the Academy. To you all, and to all your dear ones, I willingly impart my blessing.

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Papal Address to Migrants and Travelers Council
"The Acquisition of Rights Goes Hand in Hand With the Acceptance of Duties"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Travelers.

The meeting, which was held this week in Rome, reflected on the topic: "Pastoral Care of Human Mobility Today, in the Context of the Co-Responsibility of States and of International Organizations."

* * *

Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

I welcome you with great joy on the occasion of the Plenary Session of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers. I greet the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Antonio Maria Vegliò -- whom I thank for his words of happy cordiality -- the secretary, the members, the consultors and the officials. I wish all fruitful work.

You chose as the topic of this Session the "Pastoral Care of Human Mobility Today, in the Context of the Co-Responsibility of States and of International Organizations." The movement of peoples has been for some time the object of international congresses, which seek to guarantee the protection of fundamental human rights and to combat discrimination, xenophobia and intolerance. They are documents that furnish principles and techniques of supranational protection.

Appreciable is the effort to build a system of shared norms that contemplate the rights and duties of the foreigner, as well as those of the host community, taking into account, in the first place, the dignity of every human person, created by God in his image and likeness (cf. Genesis 1:26). Obviously, the acquisition of rights goes hand in hand with the acceptance of duties. All, in fact, enjoy rights and duties that are not arbitrary, because they stem from human nature itself, as Blessed Pope John XXIII's encyclical "Pacem in Terris" affirms: "Every human being is a person, that is a nature gifted with intelligence and free will; and hence subject of rights and duties which are, because of this, universal, inviolable, inalienable" (No. 5).

Therefore, the responsibility of states and of international organizations is specified in the commitment to influence questions that, respecting the competencies of the national legislator, involve the whole family of peoples, and exact an agreement between governments and the organisms most directly concerned. I am thinking of problems such as the entry or forced removal of the foreigner, the enjoyment of the goods of nature, of culture and of art, of science and technology, which must be accessible to all. Not to be forgotten is the important role of mediation so that national and international resolutions, which promote the universal common good, finds acceptance with local entities and are reflected in daily life.

National and international laws which promote the common good and respect for the person encourage the hopes and efforts being made to achieve a world social order founded on peace, fraternity and universal co-operation, despite the critical phase international institutions are currently traversing as they concentrate on resolving crucial questions of security and development for everyone. It is true, unfortunately, that we are witnessing the re-emergence of particular instances in some areas of the world, but it is also true that some are reluctant to assume responsibility that should be shared.

Moreover, not yet extinguished is the longing of many to pull down the walls that divide and to establish ample agreements, also through legislative dispositions and administrative practices that foster integration, mutual exchange and reciprocal enrichment. In fact, prospects of coexistence between peoples can be offered through prudent and concerted lines for reception and integration, consenting to occasions of entry in legality, favoring the just right to the reuniting of families, asylum and refuge, compensating the necessary restrictive measures and opposing the disgraceful traffic of persons. Precisely here the various international organizations, in cooperation among themselves and with the states, can furnish their peculiar contribution in reconciling, with various modalities, the recognition of the rights of the person and the principle of national sovereignty, with specific reference to the exigencies of security, the public order and control of borders.

The fundamental rights of the person can be the focal point of the commitment of co-responsibility of the national and international institutions. This, then, is closely linked to "openness to life, which is the center of true development," as I confirmed in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate" (cf. No. 28), where I also appealed to states to promote policies in favor of the centrality and integrity of the family (cf. ibid., No. 44).

On the other hand, it is evident that openness to life and the rights of the family must be confirmed in the various contexts, because "in a society in the process of globalization, the common good and the commitment to it must assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say of the community of peoples and nations" (ibid., No. 7). The future of our societies rests on the meeting between peoples, on dialogue between cultures with respect to their identities and legitimate differences. In this scene the family retains its fundamental role. Because of this, the Church, with the proclamation of the Gospel of Christ in every sector of existence, carries forward "the commitment .... in favor not only of the individual migrant, but also of his family, place and resource of culture and life and factor of integration of values," as I reaffirmed in the Message for the World Day of the Migrant and the Refugee of the year 2006.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is also up to you to sensitize organizations that are dedicated to the world of migrants and itinerant people to forms of co-responsibility. This pastoral sector is linked to a phenomenon in constant expansion and, therefore, your role must translate into concrete answers of closeness and pastoral support of persons, taking into account the different local situations.

On each one of you I invoke the light of the Holy Spirit and the maternal protection of Our Lady, renewing my gratitude for the service that you render the Church and society. May the inspiration of Blessed Giovanni Battista Scalabrini, described as "Father of Migrants" by the Venerable John Paul II, and of whom we will remember the 105th anniversary of his birth in heaven next June 1, illumine your actions in favor of migrants and itinerant people and spur you to an ever more attentive charity, which will witness to them the unfailing love of God. For my part I assure you of my prayer, while blessing you from my heart.

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Letter to Legate for Spain's Eucharistic Congress
"All Goods Flow ... From the Lord Himself"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's letter to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, papal legate for the celebration of Spain's 10th National Eucharistic Congress, which is under way through Sunday in Toledo. The letter, which was signed April 21, and published by the Vatican press office last week, was written originally in Latin.

* * *

Venerable Brother, Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Dean of the College of Cardinals

I firmly believe that all goods flow, as from a source, from the Lord himself. The faithful, who approach him with all confidence, are filled with grace and copiously enriched with his heavenly gifts. Because, "the gift, which is Christ, being one is in all; and because he is not lacking anywhere, gives himself in the measure that each one desires to receive him; dwells in each in so far as each one wishes to merit him" (Saint Hilary, De Trinitate, 2, 31).

With immense joy I have learned that between the days of May 27-30 a great number of faithful will gather in the very illustrious city of Toledo to celebrate the 10th National Eucharistic Congress. Being at the height of the Year for Priests and of the Holy Year of Santiago de Compostela, the people of God are filled with heavenly graces and salvific commemorations with which, sustained, it can carry out its mission in daily occupations, which must be done with fortitude and diligence.

To make myself present for such an important event, at the request of the Venerable Brother Braulio Rodríguez Plaza, Metropolitan Archbishop of Toledo, Primate of Spain, which was made in the name of all the bishops, I have decided to send an eminent man to exercise my participation and as a representative.

To you, then, venerable brother, I direct my thoughts, you who by your dignity and the distinguished place you hold among the fathers of the College of Cardinals, are undoubtedly the ideal person to exercise this ministry and carry it out admirably. Thus, moved by great affection for your person, venerable brother, I proclaim and constitute you as my legate for the celebration to which I have referred earlier.

Finally, you will manifest openly my benevolence and solicitude while I offer prayers so that, nourished with the divine bread, souls and spirits will be renewed and enriched with notable piety. Likewise I want you to transmit to all a warm greeting and ask that you impart, in my name, to all the participants of this event the apostolic blessing, so that it will be the proclamation of divine graces and stimulus of spiritual renewal.

Given in the Vatican Palace on the 21st day of the month of April, of the year 2010, the sixth of Our Pontificate.

Pope Benedict XVI

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Pope's Words to Centesimus Annus Foundation
"The Common Good Is the End That Gives Meaning to Progress"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 24, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience the participants in the 2010 International Conference of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation titled "Development, Progress and Common Good."

* * *

Esteemed Cardinal,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Illustrious and Dear Friends,

I am happy to greet you on the occasion of the congress promoted by the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation. I greet Cardinal Attilio Nicora, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli and the other prelates and priests present. A special thought goes to the president, Doctor Domingo Sugranyes Bickel, whom I thank for his courteous words, and to you, dear advisers and members of the foundation, who wished to visit me with your relatives.

I appreciate that your meeting is focused on the relationship between "Development, Progress, Common Good." In fact, today more than ever, the human family can grow as a free society of free peoples only when globalization is guided by solidarity and the common good, as well as by social justice, all of which finds in the message of Christ and of the Church a precious source. The crisis and difficulties that international relations, nations, society and the economy suffer at present are, in fact, due to a great extent to the lack of trust and of an appropriate solidaristic, creative and dynamic inspiration oriented to the common good, which leads to authentically human relations of friendship, solidarity and reciprocity also "within" economic activity.

The common good is the end that gives meaning to progress and to development, which otherwise would be limited to the sole production of material goods. Progress and development are necessary, but if they are not oriented to the common good, they lead to the negative consequences of the prevalence of consumerism, waste, poverty and excess.

As I highlighted in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," one of the greatest risks in the present-day world is that "the ethical interaction of consciences and intelligences does not correspond to the de facto interdependence between men and peoples, from which might emerge as a result a truly human development" (No. 9). Such interaction, for example, seems to be too weak for those governing that, in face of renewed episodes of irresponsible speculation in confrontations with weaker countries, do not react with appropriate decisions for governing finances. Politics should have primacy over finance and ethics should guide every activity.

Without the point of reference represented by the universal common good it cannot be said that there is a true worldwide ethos and the corresponding will to live it, with appropriate institutions. It is now decisive that those goods be identified to which all peoples should have access in view of their human fulfillment. And this should be carried out not in any manner whatsoever, but in an ordered and harmonious manner. In fact, the common good is made up of many goods: of material, cognitive and institutional goods, as well of moral and spiritual goods, the latter [two] being superior over the former.

The commitment to the common good of the family of peoples, as for every society, entails, therefore, taking care of and of making use of a complex of institutions that structure juridically, civilly, politically, culturally global social living, in such a way that it takes the form of polis, of the city of man (cf. Ibid., 7). Therefore, one must ensure that the economic-productive order is socially responsible and to the measure of man, with a joint and unitary action on more planes, including the international (cf. Ibid., 57.67). Likewise, the consolidation must be sustained of constitutional, juridical and administrative systems in countries that still do not enjoy them fully. Together with economic aid must be exercised, therefore, aid geared to reinforcing the guarantees proper to the state of law, a just and efficient system of public order, in full respect of human rights, as well as truly democratic and participatory institutions (cf. Ibid., 41).

However, what is fundamental and a priority, in view of the development of the entire family of peoples, is to do one's utmost to recognize the true scale of goods-values. Only thanks to a correct hierarchy of human goods is it possible to understand what type of development must be promoted. The integral development of peoples, central objective of the universal common good, is not happen only with the diffusion of entrepreneurship (cf. ibidem), of the material and cognitive goods such as the house and the instruction, of the available choices. That happens in particular with the increase of those good choices that are possible when the notion exists of an integral human good, when there is a telos, an end, in whose light development is planned and desired.

The notion of integral human development presupposes precise principles, such as subsidiarity and solidarity, as well as the interdependence between state, society and market. In a global society, made up of many peoples and various religions, the common good and integral development are obtained with the contribution of all. Religion is decisive in this, especially when it teaches fraternity and peace, and when, in a society marked by secularization, it instructs the faithful to give space to God and to be open to the transcendent. With the exclusion of religion from the public realm, as well as religious fundamentalism, the encounter and collaboration for the progress of humanity between peoples is impeded, the life of a society is void of motivation, and politics assumes an oppressive and aggressive face (cf. Ibid., 56).

Dear friends, the Christian vision of development, of progress and of the common good, as it emerges in the Social Doctrine of the Church, responds to the most profound expectations of man, and your commitment to further it and spread it is a valid contribution to build the "civilization of love." For this I express my gratitude and best wishes, and bless you all from my heart.

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Benedict XVI's to Missionary Societies
"Evangelization Needs Christians With Arms Raised to God in a Gesture of Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received participants in the ordinary assembly of the Supreme Committee of the Pontifical Missionary Societies. The five-day assembly concluded today.

* * *

Cardinal,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome! I address my cordial greeting to Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, whom I thank for his cordial words, to the secretary, Archbishop Robert Sarah, to the assistant secretary, Archbishop Piergiuseppe Vacchelli, president of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, to all the collaborators of the Dicastery, and in a particular way to the national directors of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, who have arrived in Rome from all the Churches for the annual Ordinary Assembly of the Higher Council.

I am especially grateful to this congregation, to which, in line with the constitutive act with which it was founded in 1622, Vatican Council II confirmed in its task to "regulate and coordinate, worldwide, both the missionary endeavor as well as missionary cooperation" (decree "Ad Gentes," 29). Evangelization is an immense mission, especially in this our time, in which humanity suffers from a certain lack of reflective and sapiential thought (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," 19.31) and in which a humanism is spreading that excludes God (cf. Ibid., 78).

Because of this, it is still more urgent and necessary to illuminate the new problems that arise with the light of the Gospel, which does not change. We are convinced, in fact, that the Lord Jesus Christ, faithful witness of the love of the Father, "with his Death and Resurrection, is the main propelling force for the true development of every human person and of the whole of humanity" (Ibid. 1). At the beginning of my ministry as Successor of the Apostle Peter, I affirmed forcefully: "We exist to show God to men. And only there where God is seen, does life really begin. Only when we find in Christ the living God, do we know what life is. ... There is nothing more beautiful than being overtaken, surprised by the Gospel, by Christ. There is nothing more beautiful than knowing him and communicating to others friendship with him (Homily at the beginning of the Petrine ministry, April 24, 2005).

The preaching of the Gospel is an inestimable service that the Church can offer to the whole of humanity that travels through history. Coming from the dioceses of the whole world, you are an eloquent and living sign of the catholicity of the Church, which is concretized in the universal breath of the apostolic mission, "to the end of the earth" (Acts 1:8), "to the close of the age" (Matthew 28:20), so that no people or environment is deprived of the light and the grace of Christ. This is the meaning, the historic trajectory, the mission and the hope of the Church.

The mission to proclaim the Gospel to all peoples is critical judgment on the planetary transformations that are substantially changing the culture of humanity. The Church, present and operating in the geographical and anthropological frontiers, is the bearer of a message that penetrates in history, where she proclaims the inalienable values of the person, with the proclamation and testimony of the salvific plan of God, made visible and operative in Christ. The preaching of the Gospel is the call to the freedom of the children of God, also for the building of a more just and solidaristic society to prepare us for eternal life. Whoever participates in Christ's mission must inevitably face tribulations, rejection and sufferings, because he is confronted with the resistance and powers of this world. And we, like the Apostle Paul, have no other arms than the word of Christ and of his Cross (cf. 1 Corinthians 1, 22:25). The mission ad gentes calls the Church and missionaries to accept the consequences of their ministry: evangelical poverty, which confers on them the liberty to preach the Gospel with courage and frankness; non-violence, by which they respond to evil with good (cf. Matthew 5:38-42; Romans 12: 17-21); the willingness to give their own life for the name of Christ and for love of men.

As the Apostle Paul demonstrated the authenticity of his apostolate with the persecutions, the wounds and the torments suffered (cf. 2 Corinthians 6-7), so persecution is also proof of the authenticity of our apostolic mission. But it is important to recall that the Gospel "takes shape in human consciences and hearts and expands in history only in the power of the Holy Spirit" (John Paul II, encyclical "Dominum et Vivificantem," 64) and the Church and missionaries have been made ideal by him to fulfill the mission entrusted to them (cf. Ibid., 25). It is the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Corinthians 14) who unites and preserves the Church, giving her the strength to expand, filling Christ's disciples with an overflowing wealth of charisms. It is from the Holy Spirit that the Church receives the authority for the proclamation and the apostolic ministry.

Because of this, I wish to reaffirm forcefully what I already said in regard to development (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," 79), that is, that evangelization needs Christians with arms raised to God in a gesture of prayer, Christians moved by the awareness that the conversion of the world to Christ is not done by us, but is given. The celebration of the Year for Priests, in fact, has helped us to become more aware that the missionary endeavor requires an ever more profound union with him who is the One Sent by God the Father for the salvation of all; it requires sharing that "new lifestyle" that was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and that the Apostles made their own (cf. Address to the Participants in the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Clergy, March 16, 2009).

Dear friends, again my gratitude to all of you of the Pontifical Missionary Societies, who in different ways are committed to keeping high the missionary awareness of the local Churches, driving them to more active participation in the "missio ad gentes," with the formation and sending of men and women missionaries and solidaristic help to the young Churches. My heartfelt gratitude also for the reception and formation of presbyters, of women Religious, of seminarians and laymen in the Congregation's Pontifical Colleges. While I entrust your ecclesial service to the protection of Mary Most Holy, Mother of the Church and Queen of the Apostles, I bless you all from my heart.

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Pontiff's Address to Laity Council Meeting
"Politics Is a Very Important Realm for the Exercise of Charity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 21, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the members of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, which met this week in Rome for its 24th plenary assembly. The theme of the meeting was "Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community."

* * *

Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome all of you with joy, Members and Consultors, participants in the 24th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Laity. I address a cordial greeting to the president, Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, thanking him for the courteous words he addressed to me, to the secretary, Bishop Josef Clemens, and to all those present.

The composition itself of your dicastery, where, together with the pastors, a majority of lay faithful work from the whole world and from the most different situations and experiences, offers a significant image of the organic community that is the Church, whose common priesthood, proper of the baptized faithful, and the ordained priesthood, sink their roots in the one priesthood of Christ, according to essentially different modalities, but ordered one to the other.

Having arrived almost at the conclusion of the Year for Priests, we feel ourselves even more grateful witnesses of the amazing and generous donation and dedication of so many men "conquered" by Christ and configured to him in the ordained priesthood. Day after day, they accompany the path of the "Christifideles Laici," proclaiming the Word of God, communicating his forgiveness and reconciliation with Him, calling to prayer and offering as nourishment the Lord's Body and Blood. It is from this mystery of communion that the faithful draw the profound energy to be witnesses of Christ in all the concretion and density of their lives, in all their activities and environments.

The theme of your Assembly: "Witnesses of Christ in the Political Community," is of particular importance. The technical formation of politicians certainly does not enter the mission of the Church. In fact, there are several institutions with this objective. However, her mission is "to give moral judgment also on things that pertain to the political order, when this is required by the fundamental rights of the person and the salvation of souls ... using only all those means that conform to the Gospel and the good of all, according to the diversity of the times and situations" ("Gaudium et Spes," 76).

The Church concentrates particularly on educating the disciples of Christ, so that, increasingly, they will be witnesses of his presence, everywhere. It is up to the laity to show concretely in personal and family life, in social, cultural and political life, that the faith enables one to read reality in a new and profound way and to transform it; that Christian hope extends the limited horizon of man and points him to the true loftiness of his being, to God; that charity in truth is the most effective force to change the world; that the Gospel is guarantee of liberty and message of liberation; that the fundamental principles of the Social Doctrine of the Church, such as the dignity of the human person, subsidiarity and solidarity, are very timely and of value for the promotion of new ways of development at the service of every man and of all men.

It is of the competence of the faithful also to participate actively in political life, in a way that is always consistent with the teachings of the Church, sharing well-founded reasons and great ideals in the democratic dialectic and in the search for ample consensus with all those concerned with the defense of life and liberty, the protection of truth and of the good of the family, solidarity with the needy and the necessary search for the common good. Christians do not seek political or cultural hegemony, but, wherever they are committed, they are moved by the certainty that Christ is the corner stone of every human construction (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Doctrinal Note on Some Questions Related to the Involvement and Behavior of Catholics in Political Life, Nov. 24, 2002).

Taking up again the expression of my predecessors, I can also affirm that politics is a very important realm for the exercise of charity. The latter asks Christians for a strong commitment to the citizenry, for the construction of a good life in nations, as also for an effective presence in the headquarters and programs of the international community. Genuinely Christian politicians are necessary, but even more so lay faithful that are witnesses of Christ and of the Gospel in the civil and political community. This exigency should be very present in the educational itineraries of ecclesial communities and it requires new ways of accompaniment and support on the part of pastors. The membership of Christians in associations of the faithful, in ecclesial movements and new communities can be a good school for these disciples and witnesses, supported by the charismatic, community, educational and missionary richness proper to these realities.

It is an exacting challenge. The times we are living in place us before great and complex problems, and the social question has become, at the same time, an anthropological question. The ideological paradigms have collapsed that pretended, in the recent past, to be the "scientific" answer to this question. The spread of a confused cultural relativism and of utilitarian and hedonist individualism weakens democracy and fosters the dominance of the strong powers. A genuine political wisdom must be recovered and reinvigorated; to be exacting in what refers to one's own competence; to make critical use of the research of human sciences; to address reality in all its aspects, going beyond all ideological reductionism or utopian pretension; to show oneself open to all true dialogue and collaboration, keeping in mind that politics is also a complex art of balance between ideals and interests, but without ever forgetting that the contribution of Christians is decisive only if the intelligence of the faith becomes intelligence of the reality, key of judgment and of transformation. A real "revolution of love" is necessary. \

The new generations have before them great demands and challenges in their personal and social life. Your dicastery follows them with particular attention, above all through the World Youth Days, which for 25 years have produced rich apostolic fruits among young people. Among these also is the social and political commitment, a commitment based not on ideologies or selfish interests, but on the choice to serve man and the common good, in the light of the Gospel.

Dear friends, while I invoke from the Lord abundant fruits for the works of this assembly and for your daily activity, I entrust each one of you, your families and communities to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Star of the New Evangelization, and I impart to you my heartfelt apostolic blessing.

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Papal Address to New Swiss Guards
"Maintain the Legacy Received From Your Predecessors"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the new recruits of the Pontifical Swiss Guard Corps, on the occasion of their entry into the military institution. He addressed the group in German, Italian and French, which are the three official languages of Switzerland.

* * *

Esteemed Mr. Commander, Reverend Mr. Chaplain,
Dear Guards, dear Relatives,

I welcome you all with joy and greet in particular the new recruits, who are accompanied by their relatives and friends gathered here.

You can be proud, with reason, given that by the oath you have just taken, you have joined a Corps of the Guard with a long history. No sooner you don the familiar uniform, than you are immediately recognized by everyone as a Swiss Guard, and thus you are recognized and respected. From now on, you will also benefit from the experience accumulated in the course of the centuries, and from all the resources that will enable you to carry out your task. As of today, you become guardians of a tradition and of practical knowledge that has been entrusted to you. Your task is to contribute so that this tradition will continue. With it your responsibility will be measured, and it will ask of you a generous dedication. The Successor of Peter sees in you a true support and entrusts to you his safeguarding. It is my sincere desire that through your service in the Guard you will maintain the legacy received from your predecessors and that it will make you mature as men and as Christians.

By entering into the Pontifical Swiss Guard, you are associated, indirectly but really, to the service of Peter in the Church. From today on, in your meditation on the Word of God, I invite you to pay much attention to the Apostle Peter when he, after the Resurrection of Christ, commits himself to fulfill the mission that the Lord entrusted to him.

These passages of Scripture clarify the meaning of your noble commitment, and this in a singular way in possible moments of exhaustion or toil. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles, we read that Peter went through the whole of Judea, to visit the faithful (cf.Acts 9:32). The first of the Apostles thus manifests concretely his solicitude for all. The Pope wishes to pay the same attention to all the Churches and to each faithful, as well as to all those who expect something from the Church. With the Successor of Peter, the charity that animates your soul must be universal. Your heart is called to enlarge itself. Your service will inspire you to discover in the face of everyone a pilgrim that, on his journey, hopes to meet another face through which he is given a living sign of the Lord, owner of the whole of life and of all graces.

We know that everything we do for the Name of Jesus, even if it is humble, transforms us and configures us a bit more to the new man regenerated in Christ. Thus your service in favor of the Petrine ministry will give you a more living sense of catholicity, together with a more profound perception of the dignity of the man who passes next to you and who seeks in his innermost self the path of eternal life. Lived with professional awareness and a supernatural sense, your duty will prepare you also for future commitments, personal and public, which you will undertake when you leave this service, and which will enable you to assume them as true disciples of the Lord.

Invoking the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of your holy Patrons Sebastian, Martin and Nicholas of Flue, I impart from my heart an affectionate Apostolic Blessing to you, to your families, to your friends and to all the persons who came to accompany you in the moment of your oath.

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Papal Homily at Cardinal Mayer's Funeral Mass
"The Christian Is Distinguished by the Fact That He Places His Security in God"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 3, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave during the funeral liturgy for Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, who died Friday at the age of 98. The funeral was held today in St. Peter's Basilica.

The cardinal, although retired at the time of his death, had served as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments and president of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei."

* * *

Venerated Brothers,
Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Also for our beloved brother, Cardinal Paul Augustin Mayer, the hour has come to leave this world. He was born, almost a century ago, in my own land, precisely in Altotting, where the famous Marian shrine arises to which many of the affections and memories of us, Bavarians, are linked. Thus is the destiny of human existence: It flowers from the earth -- at a precise point of the world -- and is called to Heaven, to the homeland from which it comes mysteriously. "Desiderat anima mea ad te, Deus" (Psalm 41/42:2). In this verb "desiderat" is the whole man, his being flesh, spirit, earth and heaven. It is the original mystery of the image of God in man. Young Paul -- who later as a monk was called Augustin -- Mayer studied this topic, in the writings of Clement of Alexandria, for his doctorate in theology. It is the mystery of eternal life, deposited in us as a seed since baptism, which must be received in the journey of our life, until the day that we give back the spirit to God the Father.

"Pater, in manus tuas commendo spiritum meum" (Luke 23:46). Jesus' last words on the cross guide us in prayer and in meditation, while we are gathered around the altar to give our last farewell to our mourned brother. Every funeral celebration of ours is placed under the sign of hope: In the last breath of Jesus on the cross (cf. Luke 23:46; John 19:30), God gave himself wholly to humanity, filling the void opened by sin and re-establishing the victory of life over death. Because of this, every man who dies in the Lord participates through faith in this act of infinite love, in some way gives up his spirit together with Christ, in the sure hope that the hand of the Father will resurrect him from the dead and introduce him into the Kingdom of life.

"Hope does not disappoint us," says the Apostle Paul, writing to the Christians of Rome, "because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). The great and unfailing hope, founded on the solid rock of the love of God, assures us that the life of those who die in Christ "is not taken away but transformed"; and that "while the dwelling of this earthly exile is destroyed, an eternal dwelling is prepared in heaven" (Preface of the Dead I). In an age such as ours, in which fear of death leads many people to despair and to the search for illusory consolations, the Christian is distinguished by the fact that he places his security in God, in a love so great that it can renew the whole world. "Behold, I make all things new" (Revelation 21:5), states he who sits on the throne at the end of the Book of Revelation. The vision of the new Jerusalem expresses the realization of humanity's most profound desire: to live together in peace, with no more threat of death, but enjoying full communion with God and among ourselves. The Church and, in particular, the monastic community, are a prefigurement on earth of this final goal. It is an imperfect anticipation, marked by limitations and sins and hence always in need of conversion and purification; and yet, in the Eucharistic community we taste ahead of time the victory of the love of Christ over that which divides and mortifies. "Congregavit nos in unum Christi amor" -- the Love of Christ has gathered us in unity: This is the episcopal motto of the venerated brother who has left us. As a son of St. Benedict, he has experienced the promise of the Lord: "He who conquers shall have this heritage, and I will be his God and he shall be my son" (Revelation 21:7).

Formed in the school of the Benedictine Fathers of the Abbey of St. Michael in Metten, in 1931 he made his monastic profession. During his whole life he sought to realize all that St. Benedict says in the Rule: "Prefer nothing to the love of Christ." After studies in Salzburg and Rome, he undertook a long and appreciated teaching activity in the St. Anselm Pontifical Athenaeum, where he became rector in 1949, holding this office for 17 years. Founded, precisely at that time, was the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, which became an essential point of reference for the preparation of formators in the field of liturgy. Elected, after the Council, Abbot of his beloved Abbey of Metten, he held this office for five years, but in 1972 the Servant of God Pope Paul VI appointed him Secretary of the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes, and consecrated him personally bishop on Feb. 13, 1972.

During the years of service in this dicastery, he promoted the progressive implementation of the dispositions of Vatican Council II in regard to religious families. In this particular realm, in his capacity as religious, he demonstrated outstanding ecclesial and human sensitivity. In 1984, the Venerable John Paul II entrusted him with the post of prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, creating him later cardinal in the consistory of May 25, 1985 and assigning him the title of St. Anselm on the Aventine. Subsequently he appointed him first president of the Pontifical Commission Ecclesia Dei. Also in this post, Cardinal Mayer proved to be a faithful and zealous servant, attempting to implement the content of his motto: The love of Christ has gathered us in unity.

Dear brothers, our life is in the hands of the Lord at every instant, above all at the moment of death. Because of this, with the confident invocation of Jesus on the cross: "Father, into your hands I commend my spirit," we want to accompany our brother Paul Augustin, while he takes his step from this world to the Father.

At this moment, my thoughts cannot but go to the Shrine of the Mother of Graces of Altotting. Spiritually turned to that place of pilgrimage, we entrust to the Holy Virgin our prayer of suffrage for mourned cardinal Mayer. He was born near that Shrine, conformed his life to Christ according to the Benedictine Rule, and died in the shadow of this Vatican Basilica. May the Virgin, St. Peter and St. Benedict accompany this faithful disciple of the Lord to his Kingdom of light and peace. Amen.

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Papal Address to Social Science Academy
"Economic Life Should Properly Be Seen as an Exercise of Human Responsibility"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today to participants in the 16th plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.
The academy's assembly is focused on "Crisis in a Global Economy. Re-planning the Journey." It began today and concludes May 4.

* * *

Dear Members of the Academy,

I am pleased to greet you at the beginning of your Sixteenth Plenary Session, which is devoted to an analysis of the global economic crisis in the light of the ethical principles enshrined in the Church’s social doctrine. I thank your President, Professor Mary Ann Glendon, for her gracious words of greeting and I offer you my prayerful good wishes for the fruitfulness of your deliberations.

The worldwide financial breakdown has, as we know, demonstrated the fragility of the present economic system and the institutions linked to it. It has also shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of internalized moral standards. This assumption is based on an impoverished notion of economic life as a sort of self-calibrating mechanism driven by self-interest and profit-seeking. As such, it overlooks the essentially ethical nature of economics as an activity of and for human beings. Rather than a spiral of production and consumption in view of narrowly-defined human needs, economic life should properly be seen as an exercise of human responsibility, intrinsically oriented towards the promotion of the dignity of the person, the pursuit of the common good and the integral development – political, cultural and spiritual – of individuals, families and societies. An appreciation of this fuller human dimension calls, in turn, for precisely the kind of cross-disciplinary research and reflection which the present session of the Academy has now undertaken.

In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I observed that "the current crisis obliges us to re-plan our journey, to set ourselves new rules and to discover new forms of commitment" (No. 21). Re-planning the journey, of course, also means looking to comprehensive and objective standards against which to judge the structures, institutions and concrete decisions which guide and direct economic life. The Church, based on her faith in God the Creator, affirms the existence of a universal natural law which is the ultimate source of these criteria (cf. ibid., 59). Yet she is likewise convinced that the principles of this ethical order, inscribed in creation itself, are accessible to human reason and, as such, must be adopted as the basis for practical choices. As part of the great heritage of human wisdom, the natural moral law, which the Church has appropriated, purified and developed in the light of Christian revelation, serves as a beacon guiding the efforts of individuals and communities to pursue good and to avoid evil, while directing their commitment to building an authentically just and humane society.

Among the indispensable principles shaping such an integral ethical approach to economic life must be the promotion of the common good, grounded in respect for the dignity of the human person and acknowledged as the primary goal of production and trade systems, political institutions and social welfare. In our day, concern for the common good has taken on a more markedly global dimension. It has also become increasingly evident that the common good embraces responsibility towards future generations; intergenerational solidarity must henceforth be recognized as a basic ethical criterion for judging any social system. These realities point to the urgency of strengthening the governance procedures of the global economy, albeit with due respect for the principle of subsidiarity. In the end, however, all economic decisions and policies must be directed towards "charity in truth", inasmuch as truth preserves and channels the liberating power of charity amid ever-contingent human events and structures. For "without truth, without trust and love for what is true, there is no social conscience and responsibility, and social action ends up serving private interests and the logic of power, resulting in social fragmentation" (Caritas in Veritate, 5).

With these considerations, dear friends, I once more express my confidence that this Plenary Session will contribute to a more profound discernment of the serious social and economic challenges facing our world, and help point the way forward to meet those challenges in a spirit of wisdom, justice and authentic humanity. I assure you once more of my prayers for your important work, and upon you and your loved ones I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana
 

 

Mary Ann Glendon's Summary of Social Science Academy Plenary
"Our Plenary Addressed Itself Explicitly to the Economic Crisis"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2010 - Here is the summary given by Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, of the academy's five-day plenary assembly, which concluded Tuesday.

* * *

The annual plenary sessions of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, with many hours of discussion and dozens of papers over four full days, are rather too broad to effectively summarize in a few minutes. Permit me then to choose only a few highlights from our last few days.

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences was founded in 1994 by Pope John Paul II. For the entire life of the Academy therefore, the guiding magisterial document was the 1991 encyclical on the social order, "Centesimus Annus," supplemented in 2006 by "Deus Caritas Est." The 2010 plenary was the first to follow the publication last year of "Caritas in Veritate," so our deliberations took account of the directions indicated by Pope Benedict XVI.

In "Centesimus Annus," Pope John Paul II indicated that the powerful energies of the free economy needed a strong moral and juridical framework. One might suggest that in 1991 Pope John Paul II emphasized the energies of the free economy. In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI emphasized the moral and juridical framework. In the audience the Holy Father granted to us last Friday, he made this point explicitly:

"[The economic crisis] has also shown the error of the assumption that the market is capable of regulating itself, apart from public intervention and the support of internalized moral standards. This assumption is based on an impoverished notion of economic life as a sort of self-calibrating mechanism driven by self-interest and profit-seeking. As such, it overlooks the essentially ethical nature of economics as an activity of and for human beings."

Our deliberations were largely occupied with what that "public intervention" and those "internalized moral standards" might be.

The Economic Crisis

Our plenary addressed itself explicitly to the economic crisis. We have all witnessed the severe upheavals in the financial sector, with its consequences for the real economy, especially regarding unemployment and public sector finances. Moreover, our meeting took place during the Greek crisis, indicating that the questions we examined were as relevant as the daily headlines. Our plenary this year was marked by an analysis of recent events in a manner more immediate than is customary in the rhythms of academic life.

Among many points our academicians and our invited guests made, I would draw attention to three themes that emerged in many interventions.

Financialization of the Economy and of Common Life

The current economic crisis had its roots in the financial sector. Indeed, one invited speaker, Dr. Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, Chairman of Ferrari and Fiat, former president of Confindustria, spoke of a shift from an economy based in the real production of goods to an economy dominated by speculative activities driven by greed. The fragility of the economic system was partly a consequence of an overreliance on speculative financial activities separated from productive activity in the real economy. Two members of our Academy, Professor Margaret Archer and Professor Partha Dasgupta, spoke more broadly of the danger of the "financialization" of human relations, in which human activities, even in the family, are reduced to a merely commercial dimension. One of our guests, Professor Stefano Zamagni, pointed out the danger of thinking even of business firms in this way, where the corporation ceases to be an association of persons and become a commodity instead. Such a "financialized" approach to the social order not only narrows the vision of the human person, but creates instability in the economy.

The Consequences of the Crisis on the Poor

A common theme of our deliberations was that the economic crisis took a serious toll on the poor, even if the origin was in the wealthy countries and within the financial sector of the wealthy countries. Those who were not at fault suffered. Members of our Academy, including Professor Paulus Zulu and Professor Mina Ramirez, spoke about the suffering of the most vulnerable. Professor Sabourin of our Academy drew our attention to the fact that, for the first time, our world will soon have 1 billion malnourished people. If one compares the relative cost of the financial bailouts to the amounts needed for basic nutrition, for example, one cannot avoid the conclusion that this crisis has distracted greatly from urgent questions of development. In our attention given to questions of hunger and health, the Academy stressed also that meeting basic needs, especially for children, beginning in the womb, makes a decisive contribution to economic productivity. A focus on financial instrument reform should not distract from basic development policy and investment in rudimentary human capital – nutrition, health and basic education.

Governance of Economic Activity

A highlight of this year’s plenary was a session featuring three invited experts on banking: Lucas Papademos of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, Governor of the Bank of Italy, and Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, President of the Istituto per le Opere di Religione (the "Vatican Bank"). Given the presence at our plenary of Hans Tietmeyer, former president of the Deutsche Bundesbank, and Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, former Minister of Economics in Mexico – both members of our Academy – this extraordinary session featured a discussion at the highest level of the economic challenges facing us. The principles laid out in Caritas in Veritate about the need for stronger regulation of international finance were discussed with various concrete measures suggested in order to ensure greater transparency in financial instruments and to avoid the moral hazard problems arising from bailouts. With reference to the Greek crisis, our expert guests addressed the recent package of relief measures, as well as the possibility that new European structures might be needed, not excluding the possibility of a new treaty to better secure the foundations of the common currency.

Conclusion

The Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences customarily publishes the papers of our plenary sessions. The forthcoming proceedings should assist students of Catholic social doctrine to better understand the issues raised by the global economic crisis in view of the guidance offered by "Caritas in Veritate."

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Papal Address to Vox Clara Committee
"English Translation of the Roman Missal Will Soon Be Ready"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today to members of the Vox Clara Committee, which assists the Vatican in regard to the English translation of liturgical texts.

* * *

Dear Cardinals,

Dear Brother Bishops and Priests,

Members and Consultors of the Vox Clara Committee,

I thank you for the work that Vox Clara has done over the last eight years, assisting and advising the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments in fulfilling its responsibilities with regard to the English translations of liturgical texts. This has been a truly collegial enterprise. Not only are all five continents represented in the membership of the Committee, but you have been assiduous in drawing together contributions from Bishops’ Conferences in English-speaking territories all over the world. I thank you for the great labour you have expended in your study of the translations and in processing the results of the many consultations that have been conducted. I thank the expert assistants for offering the fruits of their scholarship in order to render a service to the universal Church. And I thank the Superiors and Officials of the Congregation for their daily, painstaking work of overseeing the preparation and translation of texts that proclaim the truth of our redemption in Christ, the Incarnate Word of God.

Saint Augustine spoke beautifully of the relation between John the Baptist, the vox clara that resounded on the banks of the Jordan, and the Word that he spoke. A voice, he said, serves to share with the listener the message that is already in the speaker’s heart. Once the word has been spoken, it is present in the hearts of both, and so the voice, its task having been completed, can fade away (cf. Sermon 293). I welcome the news that the English translation of the Roman Missal will soon be ready for publication, so that the texts you have worked so hard to prepare may be proclaimed in the liturgy that is celebrated across the anglophone world. Through these sacred texts and the actions that accompany them, Christ will be made present and active in the midst of his people. The voice that helped bring these words to birth will have completed its task.

A new task will then present itself, one which falls outside the direct competence of Vox Clara, but which in one way or another will involve all of you – the task of preparing for the reception of the new translation by clergy and lay faithful. Many will find it hard to adjust to unfamiliar texts after nearly forty years of continuous use of the previous translation. The change will need to be introduced with due sensitivity, and the opportunity for catechesis that it presents will need to be firmly grasped. I pray that in this way any risk of confusion or bewilderment will be averted, and the change will serve instead as a springboard for a renewal and a deepening of Eucharistic devotion all over the English-speaking world.

Dear Brother Bishops, Reverend Fathers, Friends, I want you to know how much I appreciate the great collaborative endeavour to which you have contributed. Soon the fruits of your labours will be made available to English-speaking congregations everywhere. As the prayers of God’s people rise before him like incense (cf. Psalm 140:2), may the Lord’s blessing come down upon all who have contributed their time and expertise to crafting the texts in which those prayers are expressed. Thank you, and may you be abundantly rewarded for your generous service to God’s people.

©Copyright 2010 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal Address After Cardinal Spidlik's Funeral Mass
He "Placed ... His Life Within the Commandment of Love"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave today at the end of the funeral Mass for Jesuit Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, which was presided over by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals. The Pope was present at the end of the Mass to make an address and administer the rites of "Ultima Commendatio" and of "Valedictio."

* * *

Venerated Brothers,
Illustrious Gentlemen and Ladies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Among the last words spoken by the mourned Cardinal Spidlik were these: "I have looked for the face of Jesus during my whole life, and now I am happy and at peace because I am about to see it." This wonderful thought -- so simple, almost childlike in its expression, and yet so profound and true -- refers us immediately to the prayer of Jesus, which resounded a moment ago in the Gospel: "Father, I desire that they also, whom thou hast given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory which thou hast given me in thy love for me before the foundation of the world" (John 17:24).

It is beautiful and consoling to meditate on this correspondence between man's desire, who aspired to see the Lord's face, and Jesus' own desire. In reality, that of Christ is much more than an aspiration: It is a will. Jesus says to the Father: "I desire that they also ... may be where I am." And it is precisely here, in this will, where we find the "rock," the solid foundation to believe and to hope. The will of Jesus in fact coincides with that of God the Father, and with the work of the Holy Spirit it constitutes for man a sort of sure "embrace," strong and gentle, which leads him to eternal life.

What an immense gift to hear this will of God from his own mouth! I think that the great men of faith live immersed in this grace, they have the gift to perceive this truth with particular force, and so can also go through harsh trials, such as those that Father Tomas Spidlik went through, without losing confidence, and keeping, on the contrary, a lively sense of humor, which is certainly a sign of intelligence but also of interior liberty. Under this profile, evident was the likeness between our mourned cardinal and the Venerable John Paul II: both were given to ingenious joking and jokes, even though having had as youths difficult personal circumstances, similar in some aspects. Providence made them meet and collaborate for the good of the Church, especially so that she would learn to breathe fully "with her two lungs," as the Slav Pope liked to say.

This liberty and presence of spirit has its objective foundation in the Resurrection of Christ. I want to underline it because we are in the Easter liturgical season and because it is suggested by the first and second biblical readings of this celebration. In his first preaching, on the day of Pentecost, St. Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, proclaims the realization in Jesus Christ of Psalm 16.

It is wonderful to see how the Holy Spirit reveals to the Apostles all the beauty of those words in the full interior light of the Resurrection: "I saw the Lord always before me, for he is at my right hand that I may not be shaken; therefore my heart was glad, and my tongue rejoiced; moreover my flesh will dwell in hope" (Acts 2:25-26; cf Psalm 16/15:8-9). This prayer finds superabundant fulfillment when Christ, the Holy One of God, is not abandoned in hell. He in the first place has known "ways of life" and has been filled with joy with the presence of the Father (cf Acts 2:27-28; Psalm 16/15:11).

The hope and joy of the Risen Jesus are also the hope and joy of his friends, thanks to the action of the Holy Spirit. Father Spidlik demonstrated it habitually with his way of living, and this witness of his was ever more eloquent with the passing of the years because, despite his advanced age and the inevitable infirmities, his spirit remained fresh and youthful. What is this if not friendship with the Risen Lord?

In the second reading, St. Peter blesses God that "by his great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." And he adds: "In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials" (1 Peter 1:3.6). Here, too, is seen clearly how hope and joy are theological realities that emanate from the mystery of the Resurrection of Christ and from the gift of his Spirit. We could say that the Holy Spirit takes them from the heart of the Risen Christ and infuses them in the heart of his friends.

I introduced on purpose the image of the "heart," because, as many of you know, Father Spidlik chose it as the motto of his cardinal's coat of arms: "Ex toto corde," "with all the heart." This expression is found in the Book of Deuteronomy, within the first and fundamental commandment of the law, there where Moses says to the people: "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might" (Deuteronomy 6:4-5). "With all the heart -- ex toto corde" refers hence to the way with which Israel must love its God. Jesus confirms the primacy of this commandment, which he combines with that of love of neighbor, affirming that the latter is "similar" to the first and that from both the whole law and the prophets depend (cf Matthew 22:37-39). Choosing this motto, our venerated brother placed, so to speak, his life within the commandment of love, he inscribed it wholly in the primacy of God and of charity.

There is another aspect, a further meaning of the expression "ex toto corde," that surely Father Spidlik had present and attempted to manifest with his motto. Always starting from the Biblical root, the symbol of the heart represents in Eastern spirituality the seat of prayer, of the meeting between man and God, but also with other men and with the cosmos. And here we must remember that in Cardinal Spidlik's standard, the heart that the coat of arms shows contains a cross in whose arms intersect the words "phos" and "zoe" -- "light" and "life" -- which are names of God. Hence, the man who fully receives, "ex toto corde," the love of God, receives light and life, and becomes in turn light and life in humanity and in the universe.

But who is this man? Who is this "heart" of the world, if not Jesus Christ? He is the Light and life, for in Him "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily" (Colossians 2:0). And I wish to recall here that our deceased brother was a member of the Society of Jesus, that is, a spiritual son of St. Ignatius who put in the center of faith and spirituality the contemplation of God in the mystery of Christ.

In this symbol of the heart East and West meet, not in a devotional but in a profoundly Christological sense, as other Jesuit theologians of the last century revealed. And Christ, central figure of Revelation, is also the formal principle of Christian art, a realm that had in Father Spidlik a great teacher, inspirer of ideas and of expressive projects, which found an important synthesis in the Redemptoris Mater chapel of the Apostolic Palace.

I would like to conclude returning to the theme of the Resurrection, quoting a text much loved by cardinal Spidlik, a fragment of the Hymns on the Resurrection of St. Ephrem the Syrian:

"From on High He descended as Lord,
From the womb he issued as a slave,
Death knelt before Him in Sheol,
And life adored Him in his resurrection.

"Blessed is his victory!" (No. 1:8).u

May the Virgin Mother of God accompany the soul of our venerated brother in the embrace of the Most Holy Trinity, where "with all the heart" he will eternally praise his infinite Love. Amen.

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Papal Homily at Biblical Commission Mass
"It Is Necessary to ... Recognize What Is Wrong in Our Life"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 19, 2010 - Here is a translation of the complete text of Benedict XVI's homily at the Mass for the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, at which he presided on Thursday morning in the Pauline Chapel in the Vatican.

* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I did not find the time to prepare a real homily. I would just like to invite everyone to personal meditation, proposing and highlighting some lines from today's liturgy that offer themselves to the prayerful dialogue between us and the Word of God. The word, the phrase that I would like to propose for our meditation is this magnificent statement by St. Peter: "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29). St. Peter is standing before the supreme religious institution, whom he must ordinarily obey, but God is above this institution and God has given him a different "order": he must obey God. Obeying God is freedom, obeying God gives him the freedom to oppose the institution.

And here the exegetes draw our attention to the fact that St. Peter's answer to the Sanhedrin is, almost to the letter, the answer that Socrates gives to the judgment of the tribunal of Athens at his trial. The tribunal offers him freedom, liberation, on the condition, however, that he does not continue to seek God. But seeking God, the search for God is a higher mandate for him, it comes from God himself. And a freedom that is bought with the renunciation of the path toward God would no longer be freedom. So he must not obey these judges -- he must not buy his life losing himself -- but he must obey God. Obedience to God has the primacy.

Here it is important to underscore that the obedience that we are dealing with is precisely the obedience that gives freedom. Modernity has spoken about man's liberation, of his complete autonomy, thus also liberation from obedience to God. There is no need for freedom anymore, man is free, he is autonomous: there is nothing more. But this autonomy is a lie: it is an ontological lie, because man does not exist from himself nor for himself, and it is also a political and practical lie, because collaboration, the sharing of freedom is necessary. And if God does not exist, if God is not accessible to man, only the consensus of the majority is supreme. Consequently, the consensus of the majority becomes the last word, which we must obey. And this consensus -- we know from the history of the last century -- can also be a "consensus in evil."

So we see that so-called autonomy does not truly liberate man. Obedience to God is freedom, because it is the truth, it confronts all that is human. In the history of humanity these words of Peter and Socrates are the true beacon of man's liberation, which knows how to see God and, in the name of God, can and must obey not men but God and therefore be freed from the positivism of human obedience. Dictatorships have always been against this obedience to God. The Nazi dictatorship, like the Marxist dictatorship, cannot accept a God who is above ideological power; and the freedom of martyrs, who recognize God, precisely in obedience to the divine power, always perform that act of liberation in which the freedom of Christ comes to us.

Today, thanks be to God, we do not live under dictatorships but there are subtle forms of dictatorship: a conformism that becomes obligatory, think like everyone thinks, act like everyone acts, and the subtle aggression against the Church, or even the less subtle, demonstrates how this conformism can really be a true dictatorship. For us this is true: one must obey God rather than men. But that means that we truly know God and truly want to obey him. God is not a pretext for one's own will, but it is really he who calls and invites us, even -- if it is necessary -- to martyrdom. This is why, faced with this word that begins a new history of freedom in the world, we pray above all to know God, to humbly and truly know him and, knowing God, to learn the true obedience that is the foundation of human freedom.

Let us choose another line from the first reading: St. Peter says that God raises up Christ to his right hand as head and Savior (cf. 5:31). "Head" is a translation of the Greek term "archegos," which implies a much more dynamic vision: "archegos" is he who points out the road, who precedes, who is moving, a movement toward what is above. God raised him up to his right hand -- so speaking of Christ as "archegos" means to say that Christ walks before us, he precedes us, he shows us the road. And being in communion with Christ is being on a journey, ascending with Christ, it is the following of Christ, it is this ascent upward, it is this following of the "archegos," he who is already gone ahead, who precedes us and shows us the road.

Here, obviously, it is important to say where Christ goes and where we too must go: "hypsosen" -- above -- ascent to the right hand of the Father. The following of Christ is not only the imitation of his virtues, it is not only living like Christ in this world, as far as possible, according to his word; but it is a journey that has a goal. And the goal is the right hand of the Father. There is this journey of Jesus, this following of Jesus that ends at the Father's right hand. Jesus' whole journey and his arriving at the Father's right hand are the horizon of such a following.

In this sense the goal of this journey is eternal life at the right hand of the Father in communion with Christ. Today we often have a little fear of speaking about eternal life. We talk about the things that are useful to this world, we show that Christianity also helps to improve the world, but we do not dare say that its goal is eternal life and that from such a goal come the criteria for life. We must once again understand that Christianity remains a "fragment" if we do not think of this goal, that we want to follow the "archegos" to the heights of God, to the glory of the Son that makes us sons in the Son and we must again recognize that only in the vast perspective of eternal life does Christianity reveal its whole meaning. We must have the courage, the joy, the great hope that there is eternal life, that it is the true life and that from this true life comes the light that also enlightens this world.

If one can say that, even prescinding from eternal life, from the promise of Heaven, it is better to live according to Christian criteria, because living according to the truth and love, even in persecutions, is good in itself and better than all the rest, it is precisely this will to live according to the truth and according to love that must also open to the whole breadth of God's plan for us, to the courage to have already the joy in expectation of eternal life, of ascending, following our "archegos." And "Soter" is the Savior who saves us from ignorance about the last things. The Savior saves us from solitude, from an emptiness that remains in life without eternity; he saves us giving us life in its fullness. He is the leader. Christ, the "archegos," giving us light, giving us truth, giving us God's love.

Let us pause over another line: Christ the Savior gave Israel conversion and forgiveness of sin (5:31) -- in the Greek text the term is "metanoia" -- he has given us penance and forgiveness of sins. For me this is a very important observation: penance is a grace. There is a tendency in exegesis that says: In Galilee Jesus announced a grace without conditions, absolutely unconditional, so also without penance, pure grace, without human preconditions. But this is a false interpretation of grace. Penance is grace; it is a grace that we recognize our sin, it is a grace to know that we need renewal, change, of a transformation of our being. Penance, to be able to do penance, is a gift of grace. And I must say that we Christians, even in recent times, we have often avoided the word penance, it seemed too harsh to us. Now, under the attacks of the world that speaks to us of our sins, we see that being able to do penance is a grace. And we see that it is necessary to do penance, that is, recognize what is wrong in our life, to open up to purification, to transformation, this pain is grace, because it is renewal, it is the work of divine mercy. And thus these 2 things that St. Peter says -- penitence and forgiveness -- correspond to the beginning of Jesus' preaching: "metanoeite," that is, convert (cf. Mark 1:15). This is the fundamental point, then: "metanoia" is not a private thing, that could be substituted by grace; "metanoia" is rather the arrival of the grace that transforms us.

It is finally a word of the Gospel, where we are told that he who believes will have eternal life (cf. John 3:36). In faith, in this "transformation of self" that penance gives, in this conversion, along this new road of living, we reach life, true life. And here to other texts come to my mind. In the "priestly prayer" the Lord says: this is life, knowing you and your consecrated one (cf. John 17:3). Knowing the essential, knowing the decisive Person, knowing God and the one he has sent is life, life and knowledge, knowledge of realities that are life. And the other text is Jesus' reply to the Sadducees about the Resurrection, where, from the books of Moses, the Lord proves the fact of the Resurrection, saying: God is the God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob (cf. Matthew 22:31-32; Mark 12:26-27; Luke 20:37-38). God is not the God of the dead. If God is their God, then they are alive. Those who are inscribed in God's name participate in God's life, live. And thus believing is being inscribed in God's name. And in this way we are alive. Those who belong to God's name are not dead, they belong to the living God. It is in this sense that we must understand the dynamism of faith, which is an inscribing of our name in God's name and thus an entering into eternal life.

Let us pray to the Lord that this truly happens with our life, that we know God, that our name enters into God's name and our existence becomes true life: eternal life, love and truth.

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Papal Address to Pontifical Academy for Life
"God Loves Every Human Being in a Unique and Profound Way"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday in an audience with members of the Pontifical Academy for Life who gathered in Rome for a general assembly on the topic of bioethics and natural law.

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Dear brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Illustrious members of the "Pontificia Academia Pro Vita,"

Kind Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am glad to cordially welcome and greet you on the occasion of the general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, called to reflect on themes pertaining to the relationship between bioethics and the natural moral law, which appear evermore relevant in the present context because of the continual development in the scientific sphere. I address a special greeting to Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of this academy, thanking him for the courteous words that he wanted to address to me in the name of those present. I would also like to extend my personal thanks to each of you for the precious and irreplaceable work that you do on behalf of life in various contexts.

The issues that revolve around the theme of bioethics allow us to confirm how much these underlying questions in the first place pose the "anthropological question." As I state in my last encyclical letter, "Caritas in Veritate:" "A particularly crucial battleground in today's cultural struggle between the absolutism of technology and human moral responsibility is the field of bioethics, where the very possibility of integral human development is radically called into question. In this most delicate and critical area, the fundamental question asserts itself forcefully: is man the product of his own labours or does he depend on God? Scientific discoveries in this field and the possibilities of technological intervention seem so advanced as to force a choice between two types of reasoning: reason open to transcendence or reason closed within immanence" (no. 74).

Before such questions, which touch in such a decisive manner human life in its perennial tension between immanence and transcendence, and which have great relevance for the culture of future generations, it is necessary to create a holistic pedagogical project that permits us to confront these issues in a positive, balanced and constructive vision, above all in the relationship between faith and reason. The questions of bioethics often place the reminder of the dignity of the person in the foreground. This dignity is a fundamental principle that the faith in Jesus Christ crucified and risen has always defended, above all when it is ignored in regard to the humblest and most vulnerable persons: God loves every human being in a unique and profound way. Bioethics, like every discipline, needs a reminder able to guarantee a consistent understanding of ethical questions that, inevitably, emerge before possible interpretive conflicts. In such a space a normative recall to the natural moral law presents itself. The recognition of human dignity, in fact, as an inalienable right first finds its basis in that law not written by human hand but inscribed by God the Creator in the heart of man. Every juridical order is called to recognize this right as inviolable and every single person must respect and promote it (cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," nos. 1954-1960).

Without the foundational principle of human dignity it would be difficult to find a source for the rights of the person and the impossible to arrive at an ethical judgment if the face of the conquests of science that intervene directly in human life. It is thus necessary to repeat with firmness that an understanding of human dignity does not depend on scientific progress, the gradual formation of human life or facile pietism before exceptional situations. When respect for the dignity of the person is invoked it is fundamental that it be complete, total and with no strings attached, except for those of understanding oneself to be before a human life. Of course, there is development in human life and the horizon of the investigation of science and bioethics is open, but it must be reaffirmed that when it is a matter of areas relating to the human being, scientists can never think that what they have is only inanimate matter capable of manipulation in their hands. Indeed, from the very first moment, the life of man is characterized as "human life" and therefore always a bearer -- everywhere and despite everything -- of its own dignity (cf. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "Instruction 'Dignitas Personae' on Certain Bioethical Questions," no. 5). Without this understanding, we would always be in danger of an instrumental use of science with the inevitable consequence of easily ceding to the arbitrary, to discrimination and to the strongest economic interest.

Joining bioethics and natural moral law permits the best confirmation of the necessary and unavoidable reminder of the dignity that human life intrinsically possesses from its first instant to its natural end. But in the contemporary context, while a just reminder about the rights that guarantee dignity to the person is emerging with ever greater insistence, one notes that such rights are not always recognized in the natural development of human life and in the stages of its greatest fragility. A similar contradiction makes evident the task to be assumed in different spheres of society and culture to ensure that human life always be seen as the inalienable subject of rights and never as an object subjugated to the will of the strongest.

History has shown us how dangerous and deleterious a state can be that proceeds to legislate on questions that touch the person and society while pretending itself to be the source and principle of ethics. Without universal principles that permit a common denominator for the whole of humanity the danger of a relativistic drift at the legislative level is not at all something should be underestimated (cf. "Catechism of the Catholic Church," no. 1959). The natural moral law, strong in its universal character, allows us to avert such a danger and above all offers to the legislator the guarantee for an authentic respect of both the person and the entire created order. It is the catalyzing source of consensus among persons of different cultures and religions and allows them to transcend their differences since it affirms the existence of an order impressed in nature by the Creator and recognized as an instance of true rational ethical judgment to pursue good and avoid evil. The natural moral law "belongs to the great heritage of human wisdom. Revelation, with its light, has contributed to further purifying and developing it" (John Paul II, Address to the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, February 6, 2004).

Illustrious members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, in the present context your task appears more and more delicate and difficult, but the growing sensitivity in regard to human life is an encouragement to continue, with ever greater spirit and courage, in this important service to life and the education of future generations in the evangelical values. I hope that all of you will continue to study and research so that the work of promoting and defending life be ever more effective and fruitful. I accompany you with the apostolic blessing, which I gladly extend to those who share this daily task with you.

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Papal Homily for Day of the Sick
"God, in Fact, Wishes to Heal the Whole Man"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 11, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered during a Mass celebrated today at St. Peter's Basilica. Today, feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, is the 18th World Day of the Sick and the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry.

The relics of St. Bernadette Soubirous, the visionary of Lourdes, were present at the Mass.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Gospels, in the synthetic descriptions of the brief but intense public life of Jesus, attest that he proclaimed the Word and healed the sick, sign par excellence of the closeness of the Kingdom of God. For example, Matthew writes: "And he went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and preaching the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every infirmity among the people" (Matthew 4:23; cf 9:35). The Church, which has been entrusted with the task of prolonging the mission of Christ in space and time, cannot neglect these two essential works: evangelization and care of the sick in body and spirit. God, in fact, wishes to heal the whole man, and in the Gospel the healing of the body is a sign of a more profound healing, which is the remission of sins (cf Mark 2:1-12).

Hence, it is not surprising that Mary, Mother and model of the Church, is invoked and venerated as "salus infirmorum," "health of the sick." As first and perfect disciple of her Son, she has always shown, accompanying the journey of the Church, special solicitude for the suffering. Testimony of this is given by the thousands of people who go to Marian shrines to invoke the Mother of Christ, and find strength and relief. The Gospel narrative of the Visitation (cf. Luke 1:39-56) shows us how the Virgin, after the evangelical announcement, did not keep to herself the gift received, but left immediately to go to help her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who for six months had been carrying John in her womb. In the support given by Mary to this relative who was, at an advanced age, living a delicate situation such as pregnancy, we see prefigured the whole action of the Church in support of life in need of care.

The Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry, instituted 25 years ago by the Venerable John Paul II, is undoubtedly a privileged expression of this solicitude. My thought goes with gratitude to Cardinal Fiorenzo Angelini, first president of the dicastery and ever impassioned leader in this realm of ecclesial activity; as also to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, who until a few months ago gave continuity and growth to this service. With heartfelt cordiality I address to the present president, Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, who has assumed this significant and important legacy, my greetings, which I extend to all the officials and staff who in this quarter of a century have collaborated laudably in this office of the Holy See. In addition, I wish to greet the associations and organizations that take care of the organization of the Day of the Sick, in particular UNITALSI and the Opera Romana Pellegrinaggi.

The most affectionate welcome goes naturally to you, dear sick people. Thank you for coming and above all for your prayer, enriched with the offer of your toil and sufferings. And my greeting goes also to the sick and volunteers joining us today from Lourdes, Fatima, Czestochowa and from other Marian shrines, and to all those following us on radio and television, especially from clinics or from their homes. May the Lord God, who constantly watches over his children, give everyone relief and consolation.

Today's Liturgy of the Word presents two main themes: the first is of a Marian character, and it unites the Gospel and the first reading, taken from the last chapter of the Book of Isaiah, as well as the Responsorial Psalm, taken from Judith's canticle of praise. The other theme, which we find in the passage of the Letter of James, is of the prayer of the Church for the sick and, in particular, of the sacrament reserved for them. In the memorial of the apparitions of Lourdes, a place chosen by Mary to manifest her maternal solicitude for the sick, the liturgy appropriately makes the Magnificat resonate, the canticle of the Virgin who exalts the wonders of God in the history of salvation: the humble and the indigent, as all those who fear God, experience his mercy, [he] who reverses earthly fortunes and thus demonstrates the holiness of the Creator and Redeemer. The Magnificat is not the canticle of those on whom fortune smiles, who always "prosper"; rather it is the thanksgiving of those who know the tragedies of life, but trust the redeeming work of God. It is a song that expresses the tested faith of generations of men and women who have placed their hope in God and have committed themselves personally, like Mary, to being of help to brothers in need. In the Magnificat we hear the voice of so many men and women saints of charity, I am thinking in particular of those who consumed their lives among the sick and suffering, such as Camillus of Lellis and John of God, Damien de Veuster and Benito Menni. Whoever spends a long time near persons who suffer, knows anguish and tears, but also the miracle of joy, fruit of love.

The maternity of the Church is a reflection of the solicitous love of God, of which the prophet Isaiah speaks: "As one whom his mother comforts, / so I will comfort you; / you shall be comforted in Jerusalem" (Isaiah 66:13). A maternity that speaks without words, which arouses consolation in hearts, a joy that paradoxically coexists with pain, with suffering. Like Mary, the Church bears within herself the tragedies of man, and the consolation of God, she keeps them together, in the course of her pilgrimage in history. Across the centuries, the Church shows the signs of the love of God, who continues to do great things in humble and simple people. Suffering that is accepted and offered, a sharing that is sincere and free, are these not, perhaps, miracles of love? The courage to face evils unarmed -- as Judith -- with the sole strength of faith and of hope in the Lord, is this not a miracle that the grace of God arouses continually in so many persons who spend time and energy helping those who suffer? For all this we live a joy that does not forget suffering, on the contrary, it includes it. In this way the sick and all the suffering are in the Church not only recipients of attention and care, but first and above all, protagonists of the pilgrimage of faith and hope, witnesses of the prodigies of love, of the paschal joy that flowers from the cross and the resurrection of Christ.

In the passage of the Letter of James, just proclaimed, the Apostle invites awaiting with constancy the already close coming of the Lord and, in this context, addresses a particular exhortation to the sick. This context is very interesting, because it reflects the action of Jesus, who curing the sick showed the closeness of the Kingdom of God. Sickness is seen in the perspective of the end times, with the realism of hope that is typically Christian. "Is any one among you suffering? Let him pray. Is any cheerful? Let him sing praise" (James 5:13). We seem to hear similar words in St. Paul, when he invites to live everything in relation to the radical news of Christ, his death and resurrection (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:29-31). "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer of faith will save the sick man, and the Lord will raise him up; and if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven" (James 5:14-15). Evident here is the prolongation of Christ in his Church; he is always the one who acts through the presbyters; it is his same Spirit that operates through the sacramental sign of the oil; it is to him that faith is directed, expressed in prayer; and, as happened with the persons cured by Jesus, one can say to each sick person: Your faith, supported by the faith of brothers and sisters, has saved you.

From this text, which contains the foundation and practice of the sacrament of the anointing of the sick, is extracted at the same time a vision of the role of the sick in the Church: An active role as it "provokes," so to speak, prayer made with faith. "Is any among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church." In this Year for Priests, I wish to stress the bond between the sick and priests, a sort of alliance, of evangelical "complicity." Both have a task: The sick person must "call" the presbyters, and they must respond, to bring upon the experience of sickness the presence and action of the Risen One and of his Spirit. And here we can see all the importance of the pastoral care of the sick, the value of which is truly incalculable, because of the immense good it does in the first place to the sick person and to the priest himself, but also to relatives, to friends, to the community and, through hidden and unknown ways, to the whole Church and to the world. In fact, when the Word of God speaks of healing, of salvation, of the health of the sick, it understands these concepts in an integral sense, never separating soul and body: A sick person cured by Christ's prayer, through the Church, is a joy on earth and in heaven, a first fruit of eternal life.

Dear friends, as I wrote in the encyclical "Spe Salvi," "The true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer" (No. 38). By instituting a dicastery dedicated to health care ministry, the Church also wished to make her own contribution to promote a world capable of receiving and looking after the sick as persons. In fact, she has wished to help them to live the experience of sickness in a human way, without denying it, but giving it a meaning.

I would like to end these reflections with a thought of the Venerable Pope John Paul II, to which he gave witness with his own life. In the apostolic letter "Salvifici Doloris," he wrote: "At one and the same time Christ has taught man to do good by his suffering and to do good to those who suffer."

May the Virgin Mary help us to live this mission fully. Amen!

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Benedict XVI's Address to Pontifical Academies
"Be Vital and Lively Institutions, Able to Grasp the Questions of Society"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Jan. 28 upon receiving in audience members of the Pontifical Academies who were participating in their 14th annual public session.

The institutions represented included the Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas, the Theological Academy, the Academy of Mary Immaculate, the International Marian Academy, the Academy of Fine Arts and Literature "dei Virtuosi al Pantheon," the Roman Academy of Archaeology and the "Cultorum Martyrum" Academy.

* * *

Dear Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Presidents and Academicians,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to welcome you and meet with you on the occasion of the Public Session of the Pontifical Academies, the culminating moment of their multiple activities during the year.

I greet Archbishop Gianfranco Ravasi, President of the Coordinating Council of the Pontifical Academies, and I thank him for the kind words he has addressed to me.

I extend my greetings to the Presidents of the Pontifical Academies, to the Academicians and to the Associates present. Today's Public Session, during which the Pontifical Academies' Prize was awarded in my name, touches a theme which, in the context of the Year for Priests, takes on particular significance: The theological formation of the priest.

Today, the memorial of St Thomas Aquinas, great Doctor of the Church, I wish to offer you various reflections on the goal and specific mission of the meritorious cultural institutions of the Holy See that you are part of, and which can claim a varied and rich tradition of research and engagement in different sectors.

In fact, the years 2009-2010, for some of them, are marked by specific anniversaries which constitute yet another reason to give thanks to the Lord. In particular, the Pontifical Roman Academy of Archeology marks its foundation two centuries ago, in 1810, and its promotion to a Pontifical Academy in 1829. The Pontifical Academy of St Thomas Aquinas and the Pontifical Academy Cultorum Martyrum have celebrated their 130th anniversary, both having been established in 1879. The International Pontifical Marian Academy has celebrated its 50th year since it was made into a Pontifical Academy. Finally, the Pontifical Academies of St Thomas Aquinas and of theology marked the 10th anniversary of their institutional renewal which took place in 1999 with the Motu Proprio Inter munera Academiarum, which bears the date of 28 January.

So many occasions, then, to revisit the past, through the attentive reading of the thought and action of the Founders and all those who gave of their best for the progress of these institutions. But a retrospective look at the memory of a glorious past cannot be the only approach to these events, which recall above all the task and the responsibility of the Pontifical Academies to serve the Church and the Holy See faithfully, updating their rich and diverse commitment which has already produced so many precious results, even in the recent past.

In fact, contemporary culture and believers even more continually requires the reflection and action of the Church in the various fields where new problems are emerging, and which also constitute the very sectors in which you work, such as philosophical and theological research; reflection on the figure of the Virgin Mary; the study of history, monuments, of the testimony received as a legacy from the faithful of the first Christian generations, beginning with the Martyrs; the delicate and important dialogue between the Christian faith and artistic creativity, to which I dedicated the meeting with representatives of the world of art and culture in the Sistine Chapel last 21 November.

In these delicate areas of research and commitment, you are called to offer a qualified contribution that is competent and impassioned, so that the whole Church, and particularly the Holy See, can avail themselves of the opportunities, different languages and appropriate means to dialogue with contemporary culture, and respond effectively to the questions and challenges that arise in the various fields of knowledge and human experience.

As I have stated several times, today's culture is strongly influenced both by a vision dominated by relativism and subjectivism, as well as by methods and attitudes that are often superficial and even banal, to the detriment of serious research and reflection, and consequently, of dialogue, confrontation and interpersonal communications.

Therefore, it seems urgent and necessary to recreate the essential conditions for a real capacity for in depth study and research, in order that we can dialogue reasonably and effectively confront each other on various problems, in the perspective of common growth and a formation that promotes the human being in his wholeness and completeness.

The lack of ideal and moral reference points, which particularly penalizes civil coexistence, and above all, the formation of the younger generations, should be met with an ideal and practical proposal of values and truth, of strong reasons for life and hope, which can and should interest everyone, especially the young.

Such a commitment should be especially cogent in the area of forming candidates for the ordained ministry, as the Year for Priests calls for, and as confirmed by your happy decision to dedicate your Annual Public Session to this theme.

One of the Pontifical Academies is named after St Thomas Aquinas, the Doctor Angelicus et Communis, an always relevant model to inspire the activity and dialogue of the Pontifical Academies with the different cultures.

In fact, he succeeded in establishing a fruitful confrontation both with the Arab and the Jewish thinking in his time, and while setting store by the Greek philosophical tradition, he produced an extraordinary theological synthesis, fully harmonizing reason and faith.

He already left his contemporaries a profound and indelible memory, precisely on account of the extraordinary refinement and acuteness of his intelligence and the greatness and originality of his genius, quite apart from the luminous sanctity of his life.

His first biographer, William of Tocco, emphasized the extraordinary and pervasive pedagogical originality of St Thomas, with expressions that could also inspire your activities. He wrote: "Fra Tommaso introduced new articles into his lectures, resolved questions in a new and clearer way with new arguments. Consequently, those who heard him teach new theses, treating them with new methods, could not doubt that God had enlightened him with a new light: indeed, could one ever teach or write new opinions if one had not received new inspiration from God?" (Vita Sancti Thomae Aquinatis, in Fontes Vitae S. Thomae Aquinatis notis historicis et criticis illustrati, ed. D. Prümmer M.-H. Laurent, Tolosa, s.d., fasc. 2, p. 81).

St Thomas Aquinas' thought and witness suggest that we should study emerging problems with great attention in order to offer appropriate and creative responses. Confident in the possibilities of "human reason", in full fidelity to the immutable depositum fidei, we must as the "Doctor Communis" did always draw from the riches of Tradition, in the constant search for "the truth of things".

For this, it is necessary that the Pontifical Academies, today more than ever, be vital and lively institutions, able to grasp the questions of society and of cultures, as well as the needs and expectations of the Church, to offer an adequate and valid contribution, and thus promote, with all the energy and means at their disposal, an authentic Christian humanism.

Therefore, as I thank the Pontifical Academies for their generous dedication and profound commitment, I wish that each one may enrich their individual histories and traditions with new significant projects to carry out their respective missions with new impetus.

I assure you of my remembrance in prayer, and in invoking upon you and your Institutions the intercession of the Mother of God, Seat of Wisdom, and of St Thomas Aquinas, I wholeheartedly impart the Apostolic Blessing.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Benedict XVI's Address to Family Council
"Raise Awareness of the Fundamental Value of the Family"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address to members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for the Family, who are currently holding their 19th Plenary Assembly.

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Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the beginning of the 19th Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for the Family, I am happy to receive you with my cordial welcome. This institutional moment sees your dicastery this year particularly renewed not only in the cardinal president and the bishop secretary, but also in some cardinals and bishops of the executive committee, in some officials and member spouses, as well as in numerous consultors. While I express my heartfelt thanks to all those who have concluded their service to the Pontifical Council and to those who even now offer it their valuable work, I invoke on all copious gifts of the Lord.

My gratitude goes in particular to deceased Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, who for 18 years led your dicastery with impassioned dedication to the cause of the family and of life in today's world. Finally, I wish to manifest to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli expressions of heartfelt gratitude for the cordial words he addressed to me on behalf of all of you, and for having illustrated the topics of this important assembly.

The dicastery's present activity is situated between the 6th World Meeting of Families, held in Mexico City in 2009, and the 7th, planned for Milan in 2010. While I renew my appreciation to Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera for the generous commitment shown by his archdiocese for the preparation and realization of the 2009 meeting, I express from now on my affectionate gratitude to the Ambrosian church and its pastor, Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, for the willingness to host the 7th World Meeting of Families.

In addition to the preparation of these extraordinary events, the pontifical council is carrying forward initiatives to raise awareness of the fundamental value of the family for the life of the Church and of society. Among these are the project "The Family, Subject of Evangelization," which intends to collect, at the world level, valid experiences in the various areas of family pastoral care, so that they will serve as inspiration and encouragement for new initiatives; and the project "The Family, Resource for Society," which intends to make evident to public opinion the benefits that the family brings to society, to its cohesion and its development.

Another important task of the dicastery is the elaboration of a vademecum for marriage preparation. In the apostolic exhortation "Familaris Consortio," my beloved predecessor, the Venerable John Paul II, said that this preparation is "more than ever necessary in our days" and "entails three principal moments: one remote, one proximate, and one immediate" (No. 66). Referring to these indications, the dicastery intends to delineate appropriately the physiognomy of the three stages of the itinerary for the formation of and response to the conjugal vocation.

The remote preparation refers to children, adolescents and youths. It involves the family, the parish and the school, the places in which they are educated to understand life as a vocation to love, which is specified, later, in the modalities of marriage and of virginity for the Kingdom of Heaven. In this stage, moreover, the meaning should emerge gradually of sexuality as capacity of relationship and positive energy to be integrated in authentic love.

Proximate preparation refers to those who are engaged, and should be configured as an itinerary of Christian faith and life, which leads to a profound knowledge of the mystery of Christ and of the Church, of the meaning of grace and of the responsibility of marriage (cf Ibid.). The duration and modalities of acting will necessarily be different according to the situations, the possibilities and the needs. However, it is hoped that a program will be offered of catechesis and of experiences lived the Christian community, which provides for the interventions of a priest and of various experts, as well as the presence of leaders, the support of an exemplary couple of Christian spouses, of couple and group dialogue and a climate of friendship and prayer.

It is appropriate, moreover, that special attention be given on this occasion for engaged couples to relive their own personal relationship with the Lord Jesus, especially by listening to the Word of God, approaching the sacraments and above all by participating in the Eucharist. Only by putting Christ in the center of personal existence and of that of the couple is it possible to live authentic love and to give it to others: "He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing," Jesus reminds us (John 15:5).

The immediate preparation takes place in the proximity of marriage. In addition to the examination of the engaged couple, provided by Canon Law, the latter could include a catechesis on the Rite of Marriage and on its meaning, a spiritual retreat and preparation so that the celebration of marriage is perceived by the faithful, and particularly by those preparing for it, as a gift for the whole Church, a gift that contributes to its spiritual growth. Moreover, it is good that the bishops promote the exchange of the most significant experiences, that they offer stimuli for a serious pastoral commitment in this important sector, and show particular attention so that the vocation of the spouses becomes a richness for the whole Christian community and, especially in the present context, a missionary and prophetic testimony.

Your Plenary Assembly has as its theme "The Rights of Childhood," chosen with reference to the 20th anniversary of the Convention approved by the United Nations General Assembly in 1989. In the course of the centuries, the Church, following the example of Christ, has promoted the protection of the dignity and of the rights of minors and, in many ways, has protected them. Unfortunately, in some cases, some of its members, acting in contrast to this commitment, have violated these rights: a conduct that the Church does not cease and will not cease to deplore and condemn.

The tenderness and teaching of Jesus, who regarded children as a model to imitate to enter the Kingdom of God (cf. Matthew 18:1-6; 19:13-14), has always constituted a strong appeal to nourish profound respect and concern for them. Jesus' harsh words against those who scandalize one of these little ones (cf. Mark 9:42) commit all to never lower the level of this respect and love. That is why the Convention on the Rights of Children was also received favorably by the Holy See, in as much as it contains positive principles on adoption, health care, education, the protection of the disabled and of little ones against violence, abandonment and sexual and labor exploitation.

In the preamble, the convention indicates the family as "the natural environment for the growth and well-being of all its members, especially children." Certainly, it is precisely the family, founded on marriage between a man and a woman, which is the greatest help that can be given to children. They want to be loved by a mother and a father who love one another, and they need to dwell, grow and live together with both parents, because the maternal and paternal figure are complementary in the education of children and in the construction of their personality and their identity. Hence, it is important that everything possible is done to make them grow in a united and stable family.

To this end, it is necessary to exhort the spouses never to lose sight of the profound reasons and sacredness of the conjugal pact and to reinforce it with listening to the Word of God, prayer, constant dialogue, mutual acceptance and mutual forgiveness. A family environment that is not serene, the division of the couple and, in particular, separation with divorce do not fail to have consequences for the children, whereas supporting the family and promoting its good, its rights, its unity and stability, is the best way of protecting the rights and the genuine needs of minors.

Venerated and dear brothers, thank you for your visit! I am spiritually close to you and the work you carry out in favor of families, and I impart from my heart to each one of you and to all those who share this precious ecclesial service the Apostolic Blessing.

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On New Territories for Evangelizing
"Go On Speaking, and Do Not Be Silent"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2009 - Here is a translation of a message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Ivan Dias, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, on the occasion of that dicastery's plenary assembly.

The assembly began today and is under way through Wednesday on the topic "St. Paul and the New Areopagi."

* * *

To the Venerable Brother, Lord Cardinal Ivan Dias,
Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples

On the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, I wish to express to you, Lord Cardinal, my cordial greeting, which I happily extend to the archbishops, bishops and all those taking part in this assembly. I also greet the secretary, the assistant secretary, the under-secretary and all the collaborators of this dicastery. I add the expression of my sentiments of appreciation and gratitude for the service you render the Church in the area of the mission ad gentes.

The topic you are addressing in this meeting, "St. Paul and the New Areopagi" -- also in light of the Pauline Year concluded a short while ago -- assists in reliving an experience of the Apostle to the Gentiles while in Athens. After having preached in many places, he addressed the Areopagus and there proclaimed the Gospel using a language that today we could describe as "inculturated" (cf. Acts 17:22-31).

That Areopagus, which at the time represented the center of culture for the refined Athenian people, today -- as my venerated predecessor John Paul II would say -- "can be taken as a symbol of the new sectors in which the Gospel must be proclaimed" (Redemptoris Missio, 37). In fact, the reference to that event is an urgent invitation to know how to value the "Areopagi" of today, where the great challenges of evangelization are addressed.

You wish to analyze this topic with realism, taking into account the many social changes that have occurred: a realism supported by the spirit of faith, which sees history in the light of the Gospel, and with the certainty that Paul had of the presence of the Risen Christ. Resonating and comforting for us also are the words that Jesus addressed to him in Corinth: "Do not be afraid. Go on speaking, and do not be silent, for I am with you. No one will attack and harm you," (Acts 18:9-10).

In an effective way, the Servant of God Paul VI said that it is not just a question of preaching the Gospel, but of "affecting and as it were upsetting, through the power of the Gospel, mankind's criteria of judgment, determining values, points of interest, lines of thought, sources of inspiration and models of life, which are in contrast with the Word of God and the plan of salvation" (Insegnamenti XIII, [1975], 1448).

It is necessary to look at the "new Areopagi" with this spirit; some of these [areas], with present globalization, have become common, whereas others continue to be specific to certain continents, as was seen recently in the special assembly for Africa of the synod of bishops. Therefore, the missionary activity of the Church must be directed to the vital centers of the society of the third millennium.

Not to be underestimated is the influence of a widespread relativistic culture, more often than not lacking in values, which enters the sanctuary of the family, infiltrates the realm of education and other realms of society and contaminates them, manipulating consciences, especially those of the young. At the same time, however, despite these snares, the Church knows that the Holy Spirit is always acting. New doors, in fact, are opened to the Gospel, and spreading in the world is the longing for authentic spiritual and apostolic renewal. As in other periods of change, the pastoral priority is to show the true face of Christ, lord of history and sole redeemer of man.

This demands that every Christian community and the Church as a whole offer a testimony of fidelity to Christ, patiently building that unity desired by him and invoked by all his disciples. The unity of Christians will, in fact, facilitate evangelization and confrontation with the cultural, social and religious challenges of our time.

In this missionary enterprise we can look to the Apostle Paul, imitate his "style" of life and his apostolic "spirit" itself, centered totally on Christ. With this complete adherence to the Lord, Christians will more easily be able to transmit to future generations the heritage of faith, capable of transforming difficulties into possibilities of evangelization.

In the recent encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," I wished to emphasize that the economic and social development of contemporary society needs to renew attention to the spiritual life and "a serious consideration of the experiences of trust in God, spiritual fellowship in Christ, reliance upon God's providence and mercy, love and forgiveness, self-denial, acceptance of others, justice and peace. Christians long for the entire human family to call upon God as 'Our Father!'" (No. 79).

Lord Cardinal, while thanking you for the service that this dicastery renders to the cause of the Gospel, I invoke upon you and upon all those taking part in the present plenary assembly the help of God and the protection of the Virgin Mary, star of evangelization, while I send my heartfelt apostolic blessing to all.

From the Vatican, Nov. 13, 2009

BENEDICTUS XVI PP

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Papal Address to Astronomy Congress
"True Knowledge Is Always Directed to Wisdom"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 30, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today when he addressed a group celebrating the International Year of Astronomy with a two-day congress. The conference sponsored by the Specola Vaticana (Vatican Observatory) for the International Year of Astronomy accompanied by Giovanni Cardinal Lajolo, President of the Governorate of Vatican City. The International Year of Astronomy was convoked by UNESCO in memory of the 400th anniversary of Galileo's first use of the telescope.


* **

Your Eminence,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet this assembly of distinguished astronomers from throughout the world meeting in the Vatican for the celebration of the International Year of Astronomy, and I thank Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo for his kind words of introduction. This celebration, which marks the four hundredth anniversary of Galileo Galilei’s first observations of the heavens by telescope, invites us to consider the immense progress of scientific knowledge in the modern age and, in a particular way, to turn our gaze anew to the heavens in a spirit of wonder, contemplation and commitment to the pursuit of truth, wherever it is to be found.

Your meeting also coincides with the inauguration of the new facilities of the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo. As you know, the history of the Observatory is in a very real way linked to the figure of Galileo, the controversies which surrounded his research, and the Church’s attempt to attain a correct and fruitful understanding of the relationship between science and religion. I take this occasion to express my gratitude not only for the careful studies which have clarified the precise historical context of Galileo’s condemnation, but also for the efforts of all those committed to ongoing dialogue and reflection on the complementarity of faith and reason in the service of an integral understanding of man and his place in the universe. I am particularly grateful to the staff of the Observatory, and to the friends and benefactors of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, for their efforts to promote research, educational opportunities and dialogue between the Church and the world of science.

The International Year of Astronomy is meant not least to recapture for people throughout our world the extraordinary wonder and amazement which characterized the great age of discovery in the sixteenth century. I think, for example, of the exultation felt by the scientists of the Roman College who just a few steps from here carried out the observations and calculations which led to the worldwide adoption of the Gregorian calendar. Our own age, poised at the edge of perhaps even greater and more far-ranging scientific discoveries, would benefit from that same sense of awe and the desire to attain a truly humanistic synthesis of knowledge which inspired the fathers of modern science. Who can deny that responsibility for the future of humanity, and indeed respect for nature and the world around us, demand -- today as much as ever -- the careful observation, critical judgement, patience and discipline which are essential to the modern scientific method? At the same time, the great scientists of the age of discovery remind us also that true knowledge is always directed to wisdom, and, rather than restricting the eyes of the mind, it invites us to lift our gaze to the higher realm of the spirit.

Knowledge, in a word, must be understood and pursued in all its liberating breadth. It can certainly be reduced to calculation and experiment, yet if it aspires to be wisdom, capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends, it must be committed to the pursuit of that ultimate truth which, while ever beyond our complete grasp, is nonetheless the key to our authentic happiness and freedom (cf. Jn 8:32), the measure of our true humanity, and the criterion for a just relationship with the physical world and with our brothers and sisters in the great human family.

Dear friends, modern cosmology has shown us that neither we, nor the earth we stand on, is the centre of our universe, composed of billions of galaxies, each of them with myriads of stars and planets. Yet, as we seek to respond to the challenge of this Year -- to lift up our eyes to the heavens in order to rediscover our place in the universe -- how can we not be caught up in the marvel expressed by the Psalmist so long ago? Contemplating the starry sky, he cried out with wonder to the Lord: "When I see your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars which you set in place, what is man that you should be mindful of him, or the son of man, that you should care for him?" (Ps 8:4-5). It is my hope that the wonder and exaltation which are meant to be the fruits of this International Year of Astronomy will lead beyond the contemplation of the marvels of creation to the contemplation of the Creator, and of that Love which is the underlying motive of his creation -- the Love which, in the words of Dante Alighieri, "moves the sun and the other stars" (Paradiso XXXIII, 145). Revelation tells us that, in the fullness of time, the Word through whom all things were made came to dwell among us. In Christ, the new Adam, we acknowledge the true centre of the universe and all history, and in him, the incarnate Logos, we see the fullest measure of our grandeur as human beings, endowed with reason and called to an eternal destiny.

With these reflections, dear friends, I greet all of you with respect and esteem, and I offer prayerful good wishes for your research and teaching. Upon you, your families and dear ones I cordially invoke Almighty God’s blessings of wisdom, joy, and peace.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal Address to Media Council
"A Genuine Revolution Is Taking Place"
 

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 29, 2009 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address on Thursday, during the audience to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

* * *

Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood.
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

With great joy I give you my most cordial welcome on the occasion of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. First of all, I wish to express my gratitude to Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of your pontifical council, for the courteous words he addressed to me on your behalf. I extend my greeting to his collaborators and those of you here present, thanking you for the contribution you offer to the working sessions of the plenary assembly and the service you offer the Church in the field of social communications.

These days you have paused to reflect on the new technologies of communication. Even a not very attentive observer can easily see that in our time, thanks to the most modern technologies, a genuine revolution is taking place in the realm of social communications, of which the Church is ever more responsibly conscious. These technologies make possible a speedy and penetrating communication, with a capacity to share ideas and opinions; to facilitate acquiring information and news in a personal way accessible to all.

The Pontifical Council for Social Communications has been following for some time this amazing and rapid evolution of the media, in the light of the magisterium of the Church. I would like to recall here, in particular, two pastoral instructions, "Communio et Progressio" of Pope Paul VI and "Aetatis Novae," published at the behest of John Paul II. These are two authoritative documents of my venerated predecessors, which have fostered and promoted in the Church a widespread sensitization on these topics.

Moreover, the great social changes that have occurred in the last 20 years have exacted and continue to exact a careful analysis on the presence and action of the Church in this field. The Servant of God John Paul II, in the encyclical "Redemptoris Missio" (1990) recalled that "the work in these means does not only have the objective of multiplying the proclamation. It is a more profound event, because evangelization itself of the modern culture depends in large part on their influence." And he added: "It is not enough, then, to use them to spread the Christian message and the Magisterium of the Church, but it would be good to integrate the message itself in this 'new culture' created by modern communication" (No. 17 c.). In fact, modern culture arises, even before the contents, from the very fact that new ways of communication exist with new languages, new techniques, new psychological behavior. All this constitutes a challenge for the Church, called to proclaim the Gospel to men of the third millennium, keeping the content unaltered, but making it comprehensible thanks also to the instruments and means harmonious with the mentality and the cultures of today.

The means of social communication, as they are called in the conciliar decree "Inter Mirifica," have assumed today potentialities and functions which at that moment were difficult to imagine. The multimedia character and structural interactivity of each of the new means, has diminished, in a certain sense, the specific character of each one of them, generating little by little a sort of global system of communication, according to which, though each means keeps its own peculiar character, the present evolution of the world of communication obliges increasingly to speak of only one form of communication, which synthesizes different sources or connects them reciprocally.

Among you, dear friends, there are many experts in this matter and you can analyze with more professionalism the different dimensions of this phenomenon, including above all the anthropological. I would like to take advantage of the opportunity to invite those who work in the Church in the realm of communication and have responsibilities of pastoral guidance to take up the challenges that these new technologies pose to evangelization.

In this year's message on the occasion of the World Day of Social Communications, when stressing the importance that the new technologies have, I encouraged those responsible for the communicative processes at all levels, to promote a culture of respect for the dignity and value of the person, a dialogue rooted in the sincere search for truth, friendship that is not an end in itself, but capable of developing the gifts of each one to put them at the service of the human community. In this way, the Church exercises what we could describe as a "diakonia of culture" in the present "digital continent," traversing its paths to proclaim the Gospel, only Word that can save man.

It corresponds to the Pontifical Council for Social Communications to reflect further on each element of the new media culture, beginning with its ethical aspects, and to exercise a service of orientation and guidance to help the individual Churches to understand the importance of communication, which represents today a firm point of any pastoral plan which can never be given up. The characteristics of the new means make possible precisely, including on a large scale and in a global dimension, an action of consultation, of exchange, of coordination, which in addition to enhancing an effective diffusion of the evangelical message, avoids on occasions a useless waste of energies and resources. However, in the case of believers, the necessary appreciation of the new media technologies must be supported always by a constant vision of faith, knowing that, beyond the means that are used, the efficacy of the proclamation of the Gospel depends in the first place on the action of the Holy Spirit, who guides the Church and the way of humanity.

Dear brothers and sisters: this year the 50th anniversary is celebrated of the foundation of the Vatican Film Archive, instituted by my venerated predecessor, Blessed John XXIII, which has collected and catalogued material recorded from 1896 up to today, capable of illustrating the history of the Church. The Vatican Film Archive has, therefore, a rich cultural patrimony, which belongs to the whole of humanity. While I express my heartfelt gratitude for what has been done, I encourage you to continue in this interesting work of recollection, which documents the stages of the journey of Christianity, through the thought-provoking testimony of the image, so that these goods will be looked after and known.

To those of you who are present here, I again thank you for the contribution you offer the Church in a particularly important realm at this time, as is that of social communications, and I assure you of my closeness so that the action of your Pontifical Council will continue to bear many fruits. On each of you I invoke the intercession of the Virgin and impart to you all the apostolic blessing.
 

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Papal Address to Pontifical Biblical Institute
"Continue on Your Way With Renewed Determination"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today on receiving in audience professors, students and staff of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, on the centenary of its foundation.

* * *

Cardinals,
Most Reverend Superior-General of the Society of Jesus,
Illustrious Rector,
Illustrious Professors and Beloved Students of the Pontifical Biblical Institute

I am delighted to meet with you on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the foundation of your Institute, desired by my holy predecessor Pius X, in order to establish in the city of Rome a center of specialized studies on sacred Scripture and related disciplines.

I greet with deference Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, whom I thank for the courteous words he addressed to me on your behalf. I likewise greet the superior-general, Father Adolfo Nicolás Pachón, and I am happy to take the opportunity given to me to express my sincere gratitude to the Society of Jesus, which, not without notable effort, deploys financial investments and human resources in the management of the faculty of the Ancient East, the Biblical faculty here in Rome, and the headquarters of the Institute in Jerusalem.

I greet the rector and professors, who have consecrated their life to study and inquiry in constant listening to the Word of God. I greet and thank the staff, employees and workers for their appreciated collaboration, as also the benefactors who have made available and continue to make available the necessary resources for maintaining the structures and activities of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. I greet the former students united spiritually to us at this moment, and I greet you especially, beloved students, who come from every part of the world.

One hundred years have gone by since the birth of the Pontifical Biblical Institute. In the course of this century, it has certainly increased interest in the Bible and, thanks to Vatican Council II, especially the dogmatic constitution "Dei Verbum" -- of whose elaboration I was a direct witness, participating as theologian in the discussions that preceded its approval -- there is much greater awareness of the importance of the Word of God in the life and mission of the Church.

This has fostered in Christian communities a genuine spiritual and pastoral renewal, which above all has affected preaching, catechesis, the study of theology and ecumenical dialogue. Your Pontifical Institute has made its own significant contribution to this renewal with scientific biblical research, the teaching of biblical disciplines and the publication of qualified studies and specialized journals. In the course of the decades several generations of illustrious professors have succeeded one another -- I would like to remember, among others, Cardinal Bea -- who formed more than 7,000 professors of sacred Scripture and promoters of biblical groups, as also many experts now present in an array of ecclesiastical services, in every region of the world.

Let us thank the Lord for this activity of yours that is dedicated to interpreting the biblical texts in the spirit in which they were written (cfr "Dei Verbum," 12), and that opens to dialogue with the other disciplines, and with many cultures and religions. Although it has known moments of difficulty, it has continued in constant fidelity to the magisterium according to the objectives themselves of your institute, which arose in fact "ut in Urbe Roma altiorum studiorum ad Libros sacros pertinentium habeatur centrum, quod efficaciore, quo liceat, modo doctrinam biblicam et studia omnia eidem adiuncta, sensu Ecclesiae catholicae promoveat" (Pius PP. X, Litt. Ap. Vinea electa (May 7, 1909): AAS 1 (1909), 447-448).

Dear friends, the celebration of the centenary is an end, and at the same time a point of reference. Enriched by the experience of the past, continue on your way with renewed determination, aware of the service to the Church required of you, to bring the Bible closer to the life of the People of God, so that it will be able to address in an adequate way the unheard of challenges that modern times pose to the new evangelization. It is the common desire that sacred Scripture become in this secularized world, not only the soul of theology, but also the source of spirituality and vigor of the faith of all believers in Christ.

May the Pontifical Biblical Institute continue, therefore, growing as a high quality ecclesial center of study in the realm of biblical research, making use of modern methodologies and in collaboration with specialists in dogmatic theology and in other theological areas; may it ensure a careful formation in sacred Scripture to future priests so that, making use of the biblical languages and of the various exegetical methodologies, they will be able to have direct access to biblical texts.

In this regard, the already mentioned dogmatic constitution "Dei Verbum" has stressed the legitimacy and necessity of the historical-critical method, reducing it to three essential elements: attention to literary genres; study of the historical context; examination of what is usually called Sitz im Leben. The conciliar document maintains firm at the same time the theological character of exegesis, indicating the strong points of the theological method in the interpretation of the text. This is so because the foundation on which theological understanding of the Bible rests is the unity of Scripture, and this assumption corresponds, as methodological way, to the analogy of the faith, that is, to the understanding of the individual texts from the whole.

The conciliar text adds a further methodological indication. Scripture being only one thing starting from the one People of God, which has been its bearer throughout history, consequently to read Scripture as a unit means to read it from the Church as from its vital place, and to regard the faith of the Church as the real key to interpretation. If exegesis also wishes to be theology, it must acknowledge that the faith of the Church is that form of "sim-patia" without which the Bible remains as a sealed book: Tradition does not close access to Scripture, but rather opens it; on the other hand, the decisive word in the interpretation of Scripture corresponds to the Church, in her institutional organizations. It is the Church, in fact, which has been entrusted with the task of interpreting authentically the Word of God written and transmitted, exercising her authority in the name of Jesus Christ (cfr "Dei Verbum," 10).

Dear brothers and sisters, while thanking you for your pleasant visit, I encourage you to continue your ecclesial service, in constant adherence to the magisterium of the Church and assure each one of you the support of prayer, imparting to you from my heart, as pledge of divine favors, the apostolic blessing.

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Pope's Address to Biblical Commission
"God Really Speaks to Men and Women in a Human Way"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 6, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave April 23 to the members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission gathered in plenary assembly.

* * *


Your Eminence,
Your Excellency,
Dear Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission,

I am pleased to welcome you once again at the end of your annual Plenary Assembly. I thank Cardinal William Levada for his greeting and for his concise presentation of the theme that has been the object of attentive reflection at your meeting.

You have gathered once again to study a very important topic: Inspiration and Truth of the Bible. This subject not only concerns theology, but the Church herself, because the life and mission of the Church are necessarily based on the word of God, which is the soul of theology and at the same time the inspiration of all Christian life. The topic you have addressed furthermore responds to a concern that I have very much at heart, because the interpretation of Sacred Scripture is of capital importance for the Christian faith and for the life of the Church.

As you have mentioned, Cardinal President, in his Encyclical "Providentissimus Deus," Pope Leo XIII offered Catholic exegetes new encouragement and new directives on the subject of inspiration, truth and biblical hermeneutics. Later, Pius XII in his Encyclical "Divino Afflante Spiritu," gathered and completed the preceding teaching and urged Catholic exegetes to find solutions in full agreement with the Church's doctrine, duly taking into account the positive contributions of the new methods of interpretation which had developed in the meantime.

The vigorous impetus that these two Pontiffs gave to biblical studies, as you also said, was fully confirmed and developed in the Second Vatican Council, so that the entire Church has benefited and is benefitting from it. In particular, the Conciliar Constitution "Dei Verbum" still illumines the work of Catholic exegetes today and invites Pastors and faithful to be more regularly nourished at the table of the word of God.

In this regard the Council recalls first of all that God is the Author of Sacred Scripture: "The divinely revealed realities, which are contained and presented in the text of Sacred Scripture, have been written down under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. For Holy Mother Church relying on the faith of the apostolic age, accepts as sacred and canonical the Books of the Old and the New Testaments, whole and entire, with all their parts, on the grounds that, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit they have God as their author, and have been handed on as such to the Church herself" (Dei Verbum, n. 11).

Therefore since all that the inspired authors or hagiographers state is to be considered as said by the Holy Spirit, the invisible and transcendent Author, it must consequently be acknowledged that "the books of Scripture, firmly, faithfully and without error, teach that truth which God, for the sake of our salvation, wished to see confided to the sacred Scriptures" (ibid., n. 11).

From the correct presentation of the divine inspiration and truth of Sacred Scripture certain norms derive that directly concern its interpretation. The Constitution "Dei Verbum" itself, after stating that God is the author of the Bible, reminds us that in Sacred Scripture God speaks to man in a human fashion and this divine-human synergy is very important: God really speaks to men and women in a human way. For a correct interpretation of Sacred Scripture it is therefore necessary to seek attentively what the hagiographers have truly wished to state and what it has pleased God to express in human words.

"The words of God, expressed in the words of men, are in every way like human language, just as the Word of the eternal Father, when he took on himself the flesh of human weakness, became like men" (Dei Verbum, n. 13).

Moreover, these indications, very necessary for a correct historical and literary interpretation as the primary dimension of all exegesis, require a connection with the premises of the teaching on the inspiration and truth of Sacred Scripture. In fact, since Scripture is inspired, there is a supreme principal for its correct interpretation without which the sacred writings would remain a dead letter of the past alone: Sacred Scripture "must be read and interpreted with its divine authorship in mind" (ibid., n. 12).

In this regard, the Second Vatican Council points out three criteria that always apply for an interpretation of Sacred Scripture in conformity with the Spirit that inspired it.

First of all it is essential to pay great attention to the content and unity of the whole of Scripture: only in its unity is it Scripture. Indeed, however different the books of which it is composed may be, Sacred Scripture is one by virtue of the unity of God's plan whose centre and heart is Jesus Christ (cf. Lk 24: 25-27; Lk 24: 44-46).

Secondly, Scripture must be interpreted in the context of the living tradition of the whole Church. According to a statement of Origen: "Sacra Scriptura principalius est in corde Ecclesiae quam in materialibus instrumentis scripta", that is, "Sacred Scripture is written in the heart of the Church before being written on material instruments".

Indeed, in her Tradition the Church bears the living memory of the Word of God and it is the Holy Spirit who gives her its interpretation according to the spiritual meaning (cf. Origin, Homilae in Leviticum, 5,5).

As a third criterion, it is necessary to pay attention to the analogy of the faith, that is to the consistence of the individual truths of faith with one another and with the overall plan of the Revelation and the fullness of the divine economy contained in it.

The task of researchers who study Sacred Scripture with different methods is to contribute in accordance with the above-mentioned principles to the deepest possible knowledge and explanation of the meaning of Sacred Scripture. The scientific study of the sacred texts is important but is not sufficient in itself because it would respect only the human dimension. To respect the coherence of the Church's faith, the Catholic exegete must be attentive to perceiving the Word of God in these texts, within the faith of the Church herself.

If this indispensable reference point is missing, the exegetical research would be incomplete, losing sight of its principal goal, and risk being reduced to a purely literary interpretation in which the true Author God no longer appears.

Furthermore, the interpretation of the Sacred Scriptures cannot only be an individual scientific effort but must always be compared with, inserted in and authenticated by the living Tradition of the Church. This rule is decisive to explain the correct relationship between exegesis and the Magisterium of the Church. The Catholic exegete does not only feel that he or she belongs to the scientific community, but also and above all to the community of believers of all times. In reality these texts were not given to individual researchers or to the scientific community, "to satisfy their curiosity or to provide them with material for study and research" (Divino Afflante Spiritu, eb 566).

The texts inspired by God were entrusted in the first place to the community of believers, to Christ's Church, to nourish the life of faith and to guide the life of charity. Respect for this purpose conditions the validity and efficacy of biblical hermeneutics. The Encyclical "Providentissimus Deus" recalled this fundamental truth and noted that, far from hindering biblical research, respect for this norm encourages authentic progress. I would say, a rationalistic hermeneutic of faith corresponds more closely with the reality of this text than a rationalistic hermeneutic that does not know God.

Being faithful to the Church means, in fact, fitting into the current of the great Tradition. Under the guidance of the Magisterium, Tradition has recognized the canonical writings as a word addressed by God to his People, and it has never ceased to meditate upon them and to discover their inexhaustible riches.

The Second Vatican Council reasserted this very clearly: "all that has been said about the manner of interpreting Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church which exercises the divinely conferred commisssion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God" (Dei Verbum, n. 12).

As the above-mentioned Dogmatic Constitution reminds us, an inseparable unity exists between Sacred Scripture and Tradition, because both come from the same source:

"Sacred Tradition and Sacred Scripture, then, are bound closely together, and communicate one with the other. For both of them, flowing out from the same divine well-spring, come together in some fashion to form one thing, and move towards the same goal. Sacred Scripture is the speech of God as it is put down in writing under the breath of the Holy Spirit. And Tradition transmits in its entirety the Word of God which has been entrusted to the Apostles by Christ the Lord and the Holy Spirit. He transmits it to the successors of the Apostles so that, enlightened by the Spirit of truth, they may faithfully preserve, expound and spread it abroad by their preaching. Thus it comes about that the Church does not draw her certainty about all revealed truths from the Holy Scriptures alone. Hence, both Scripture and Tradition must be accepted and honoured with equal feelings of devotion and reverence" (Dei Verbum, n. 9).

As we know, this word "pari pietatis affectu ac reverentia" was created by St Basil and then absorbed into Gratian's Decree, through which it entered the Council of Trent and then the Second Vatican Council. It expresses precisely this inter-penetration between Scripture and Tradition.

The ecclesial context alone enables Sacred Scripture to be understood as an authentic Word of God which makes itself the guide, norm and rule for the life of the Church and the spiritual growth of believers.

As I have said, this is in no way an obstacle to a serious and scientific interpretation but furthermore gives access to the additional dimensions of Christ that are inaccessible to a merely literary analysis, which remains incapable of grasping by itself the overall meaning that has guided the Tradition of the entire People of God down the centuries.

Dear Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, I would like to end my talk by expressing to you all my personal gratitude and encouragement. I thank you warmly for the demanding work you do at the service of the Word of God and of the Church through research, teaching and the publication of your studies. To this I add my encouragement for the ground that has yet to be covered.

In a world in which scientific research is assuming ever greater importance in numerous fields, it is indispensable that exegetical science attain a good level. It is one of the aspects of the inculturation of the faith that is part of the Church's mission, in harmony with acceptance of the mystery of the Incarnation.

Dear brothers and sisters, may the Lord Jesus Christ, the Word of God incarnate and the divine Teacher who opened the minds of his disciples to an understanding of the Scriptures (cf. Luke 24: 45), guide and sustain you in your reflection.

May the Virgin Mary, model of docility and obedience to the Word of God, teach you to accept ever better the inexhaustible riches of Sacred Scripture, not only through intellectual research but also in your lives as believers, so that your work and your action may contribute to making the light of Sacred Scripture shine ever brighter before the faithful.

As I assure you of my prayerful support in your efforts, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, as a pledge of divine favours.


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Papal Address to Social Sciences Academy
"Natural Law Is a Universal Guide Recognizable to Everyone"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2009 - Here is the text of the English-language address Benedict XVI gave today to the members of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The members of the academy are gathered in the Vatican through Tuesday for their plenary session, which is focused on Catholic social doctrine and human rights.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you gather for the fifteenth Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you and to express my encouragement for your mission of expounding and furthering the Church's social doctrine in the areas of law, economy, politics and the various other social sciences. Thanking Professor Mary Ann Glendon for her cordial words of greeting, I assure you of my prayers that the fruit of your deliberations will continue to attest to the enduring pertinence of Catholic social teaching in a rapidly changing world.

After studying work, democracy, globalisation, solidarity and subsidiarity in relation to the social teaching of the Church, your Academy has chosen to return to the central question of the dignity of the human person and human rights, a point of encounter between the doctrine of the Church and contemporary society.

The world's great religions and philosophies have illuminated some aspects of these human rights, which are concisely expressed in "the golden rule" found in the Gospel: "Do to others as you would have them do to you" (Lk 6:31; cf. Mt 7:12). The Church has always affirmed that fundamental rights, above and beyond the different ways in which they are formulated and the different degrees of importance they may have in various cultural contexts, are to be upheld and accorded universal recognition because they are inherent in the very nature of man, who is created in the image and likeness of God. If all human beings are created in the image and likeness of God, then they share a common nature that binds them together and calls for universal respect. The Church, assimilating the teaching of Christ, considers the person as "the worthiest of nature" (St. Thomas Aquinas, De potentia, 9, 3) and has taught that the ethical and political order that governs relationships between persons finds its origin in the very structure of man's being. The discovery of America and the ensuing anthropological debate in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century Europe led to a heightened awareness of human rights as such and of their universality (ius gentium). The modern period helped shape the idea that the message of Christ - because it proclaims that God loves every man and woman and that every human being is called to love God freely - demonstrates that everyone, independently of his or her social and cultural condition, by nature deserves freedom. At the same time, we must always remember that "freedom itself needs to be set free. It is Christ who sets it free" (Veritatis Splendor, 86).

In the middle of the last century, after the vast suffering caused by two terrible world wars and the unspeakable crimes perpetrated by totalitarian ideologies, the international community acquired a new system of international law based on human rights. In this, it appears to have acted in conformity with the message that my predecessor Benedict XV proclaimed when he called on the belligerents of the First World War to "transform the material force of arms into the moral force of law" ("Note to the Heads of the Belligerent Peoples", 1 August 1917).

Human rights became the reference point of a shared universal ethos - at least at the level of aspiration - for most of humankind. These rights have been ratified by almost every State in the world. The Second Vatican Council, in the Declaration Dignitatis Humanae, as well as my predecessors Paul VI and John Paul II, forcefully referred to the right to life and the right to freedom of conscience and religion as being at the centre of those rights that spring from human nature itself.

Strictly speaking, these human rights are not truths of faith, even though they are discoverable - and indeed come to full light - in the message of Christ who "reveals man to man himself" (Gaudium et Spes, 22). They receive further confirmation from faith. Yet it stands to reason that, living and acting in the physical world as spiritual beings, men and women ascertain the pervading presence of a logos which enables them to distinguish not only between true and false, but also good and evil, better and worse, and justice and injustice. This ability to discern - this radical agency - renders every person capable of grasping the "natural law", which is nothing other than a participation in the eternal law: "unde...lex naturalis nihil aliud est quam participatio legis aeternae in rationali creatura" (St. Thomas Aquinas, ST I-II, 91, 2). The natural law is a universal guide recognizable to everyone, on the basis of which all people can reciprocally understand and love each other. Human rights, therefore, are ultimately rooted in a participation of God, who has created each human person with intelligence and freedom. If this solid ethical and political basis is ignored, human rights remain fragile since they are deprived of their sound foundation.

The Church's action in promoting human rights is therefore supported by rational reflection, in such a way that these rights can be presented to all people of good will, independently of any religious affiliation they may have. Nevertheless, as I have observed in my Encyclicals, on the one hand, human reason must undergo constant purification by faith, insofar as it is always in danger of a certain ethical blindness caused by disordered passions and sin; and, on the other hand, insofar as human rights need to be re-appropriated by every generation and by each individual, and insofar as human freedom - which proceeds by a succession of free choices - is always fragile, the human person needs the unconditional hope and love that can only be found in God and that lead to participation in the justice and generosity of God towards others (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 18, and Spe Salvi, 24).

This perspective draws attention to some of the most critical social problems of recent decades, such as the growing awareness - which has in part arisen with globalisation and the present economic crisis - of a flagrant contrast between the equal attribution of rights and the unequal access to the means of attaining those rights. For Christians who regularly ask God to "give us this day our daily bread", it is a shameful tragedy that one-fifth of humanity still goes hungry. Assuring an adequate food supply, like the protection of vital resources such as water and energy, requires all international leaders to collaborate in showing a readiness to work in good faith, respecting the natural law and promoting solidarity and subsidiarity with the weakest regions and peoples of the planet as the most effective strategy for eliminating social inequalities between countries and societies and for increasing global security.

Dear friends, dear Academicians, in exhorting you in your research and deliberations to be credible and consistent witnesses to the defence and promotion of these non-negotiable human rights which are founded in divine law, I most willingly impart to you my Apostolic Blessing.

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Mary Ann Glendon's Address to Benedict XVI
"Our Central Focus Has Always Been on the Dignity of the Human Person"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of the address given today by Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, to Benedict XVI upon being received by the Pontiff during the plenary session of the academy. The members of the academy are gathered in the Vatican through Tuesday, focusing on Catholic social doctrine and human rights.

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Holy Father,

Your Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences comes before you this morning with immense gratitude for the encouragement you have given us, as we strive to be ever more useful to the Church in the development of her social teachings.

Over the years, no matter what aspect of economics, law, sociology or political sciences claimed our attention, there has been one central theme, one golden thread that has stitched all our work together. Our central focus has always been on the dignity of the human person and the common good. This week, Your Holiness, our Plenary Session has been entirely devoted to the way that theme has found expression in the concept of universal human rights.

In so doing, we have been mindful of the Church's long engagement with human rights, of her own decisive contributions to the dignitarian vision of rights embodied in so many human rights instruments, including a Universal Declaration of Human Rights; and of the Holy See as a fearless champion of that vision in international settings. That engagement has been characterized by a prudent recognition that the modern human rights project, like all human enterprises, constantly needs to be called to what is highest and best in its aspirations.

We have also been mindful of the fact that in today's world, ironically, many threats to the dignity of the person have appeared in the guise of human rights. As you pointed out in your memorable speech to the United Nations last year, there are mounting pressures to "move away from the protection of human dignity towards the satisfaction of simple interests, often particular interests."

Accordingly in these days, with the help of experts in all the social sciences, we have reviewed the long reciprocal relationship between Christianity and human rights ideas. We have explored the expanding circle of human rights protection in an effort to discern how new rights claims are, or are not, conducive to human flourishing. We have paid special attention to rights that are currently under assault such as the right to life, the right to found a family, freedom of conscience and religion, and to rights that have too long awaited fulfillment such as the right to decent subsistence. Then building on our previous studies of globalization, we have taken up the question of the proper roles of states, private actors, and international entities in bringing human rights to life.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of all our members for your teachings on faith, hope and charity that provide an unconditional foundation for human rights, and for the example you set in the difficult Petrine mission to which Providence has called you. We are deeply grateful for your constant solicitude towards our Academy, which is also manifested in the appointment of our new Academician Lubomir Mlcoch.

It only remains for me, dear Holy Father, to ask you to bless this Academy and all those who have generously shared their wisdom with us over the past few days. We thank you most sincerely for the gift of this encounter.

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Pontiff's Address to the Papal Foundation Members
"Continue to Be Beacons of Hope, Strength and Support for Others"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2009 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday in an audience with members of the Philadelphia based Papal Foundation.

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Dear Cardinal Keeler,
Brother Cardinals and Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is a great pleasure for me to have the opportunity to greet the members of the Papal Foundation once again, on your annual visit to Rome. In this Pauline Year I welcome you with the words of the Apostle of the Gentiles, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1:7).

Saint Paul reminds us of how the entire human race yearns for God's grace of peace. Today's world is truly in need of his peace, especially as it faces the tragedies of war, division, poverty and despair. In just a few days I will have the privilege of visiting the Holy Land. I go as a pilgrim of peace. As you are well aware, for more than sixty years, this region -- the land of our Lord's birth, death and Resurrection; a sacred place for the world's three great monotheistic religions -- has been plagued by violence and injustice. This has led to a general atmosphere of mistrust, uncertainty and fear -- often pitting neighbor against neighbor, brother against brother. As I prepare for this significant journey I ask in a special way that you join me in prayer for all the peoples of the Holy Land and the region. May they receive the gifts of reconciliation, hope and peace.

Our meeting this year occurs during a time when the entire world is struggling with a very worrying economic situation. At moments such as these it is tempting to overlook those without a voice and think only of our own difficulties. As Christians we are aware, however, that especially when times are difficult we must work even harder to ensure that the consoling message of our Lord is heard. Rather than turning in on ourselves, we must continue to be beacons of hope, strength and support for others, most especially those who have no one to watch over or assist them. For this reason I am pleased to have you here today. You are examples of good Christian men and women who continue to meet the challenges we face with courage and trust. Indeed, the Papal Foundation itself, through the great generosity of many, enables valuable assistance to be carried out in the name of Christ and his Church. For your sacrifice and dedication I am most grateful to you: by means of your support the Easter message of joy, hope, reconciliation and peace is more widely proclaimed.

Entrusting all of you to the loving intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, she who remains always in our midst as our Mother, the Mother of Hope, (cf. Spe Salvi, 50), I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your families as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Savior.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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Benedict XVI's to Clergy Congregation
"The Missionary Identity of the Priest in the Church"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Monday upon receiving in audience participants of the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Clergy.

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Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood

I am happy to be able to receive you in special audience, on the eve of my departure for Africa, where I will go to hand over the "instrumentum laboris" of the Second Special Assembly of the Synod for Africa, which will take place here in Rome next October. I thank the prefect of the congregation, lord cardinal Cláudio Hummes, for the affable expressions with which he interpreted the sentiments of all. With him I greet all of you, superiors, officials and members of the congregation, with a grateful spirit for all the work you carry out in the service of such an important sector in the life of the Church.

The topic you have chosen for this plenary assembly -- "The Missionary Identity of the Priest in the Church, as Intrinsic Dimension of the Exercise of the 'Tria Munera'" -- allows for some reflections for the work of these days and for the abundant fruits that it will certainly bring. If the entire Church is missionary and if every Christian, by virtue of baptism and Confirmation, receives quasi ex officio (cf. CCC, 1305) the mandate to profess the faith publicly, the ministerial priesthood also from this point of view is distinguished ontologically, and not only by degree, from baptismal priesthood, called also common priesthood. Constitutive of the first, in fact, is the apostolic mandate: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15). We know that this mandate is not a simple charge entrusted to his collaborators; its roots are deeper and must be sought much further afield.

The missionary dimension of the priest is born from his sacramental configuration to Christ the Head: this brings with it, as a consequence, a cordial and total adherence to that which the ecclesial tradition has recognized as the "apostolica vivendi" forma. The latter consists of participation in a "new life" understood spiritually, in that "new style of life" that was inaugurated by the Lord Jesus and which was made their own by the Apostles. By the imposition of the bishop's hands and the consecrating prayer of the Church, the candidates become new men, they become "priests." In light of this it seems clear how the "tria munera" are in the first place a gift, and only as a consequence an office, participation in a life and because of this "a potestas." Certainly, the great ecclesial tradition has justly detached the sacramental efficacy of the concrete existential situation of the priest, and thus the legitimate expectations of the faithful are adequately safeguarded. However, this correct doctrinal precision does not take anything way from the necessary, more than that, the indispensable, tension to moral perfection, which should dwell in every genuinely priestly heart.

Precisely to foster this tension of priests toward spiritual perfection, on which, above all, the efficacy of their ministry depends, I have decided to convoke a "Priestly Year," which will run from next June 19, 2009, to June 19, 2010. Being celebrated, in fact, is the 150th anniversary of the death of St. John Mary Vianney, the Cure of Ars, true example of pastor at the service of Christ's flock. It will be your task, congregation, in accordance with the diocesan ordinaries and the superiors of religious Institutes, to promote and coordinate the different spiritual and pastoral initiatives that seem useful to make the role and the mission of the priest in the Church and in contemporary society increasingly perceived.

As the topic of the Plenary Assembly shows, the mission of the priest is carried out "in the Church." Such an ecclesial, communional, hierarchical and doctrinal dimension is absolutely indispensable for any genuine mission and, on its own, guarantees its spiritual efficacy. The four aspects mentioned must always be recognized as profoundly related: the mission is "ecclesial" because no one priest proclaims or takes himself, rather within and through his own humanity, every priest must be very conscious of taking another, God himself, to the world. God is the only richness that, in the end, men wish to find in a priest. The mission is "communial" because it takes place in a unity and communion that only in a secondary way also has relevant aspects of social visibility. Moreover, these derive essentially from that divine intimacy of which the priest is called to be expert, to be able to lead, with humility and confidence, the souls entrusted to him to the encounter itself with the Lord. Finally the "hierarchical" and "doctrinal" dimensions suggest reaffirming the importance of ecclesiastical discipline (the term is joined to "disciple") and of doctrinal formation, and not only theological, initial and permanent.

Awareness of the radical social changes of the last decades should move the best ecclesial energies to take care of the formation of candidates to the ministry. In particular, it should stimulate the constant solicitude of pastors toward their first collaborators, either by cultivating truly paternal human relations, or being concerned for their permanent formation, above all in the doctrinal aspect. In a special way the mission has its roots in a good formation, carried out in communion with the uninterrupted ecclesial Tradition, free of ruptures and temptations to discontinuity. In this connection, it is important to foster in priests, above all in the young generations, a correct perception of the texts of the Second Vatican Council, interpreted in the light of all the doctrinal baggage of the Church. It also seems urgent to recover that consciousness that drives priests to be present, identifiable and recognizable both by the judgment of faith, or by personal virtues, or also by their dress, in the realms of culture and charity, ever at the heart of the mission of the Church.

As Church and as priests we proclaim Jesus of Nazareth Lord and Christ, crucified and resurrected, sovereign of time and history, in the joyful certainty that this truth coincides with the profoundest hopes of the human heart. In the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word, namely, in the fact that God became a man like us, is both the content as well as the method of the Christian proclamation. The mission has here its propellant center: precisely in Jesus Christ. The centrality of Christ brings with it the correct appreciation of the ministerial priesthood, without which neither the Eucharist nor, consequently, the mission and the Church herself would exist. In this connection it is necessary to watch so that the "new structures" of pastoral organizations are not thought out for a time in which the ordained ministry is "undervalued," starting from an erroneous interpretation of the correct promotion of the laity, because in such a case the premises would be established for an ultimate dissolution of the ministerial priesthood and the eventual presumed "solutions" would coincide dramatically with the real causes of the current problems linked to the ministry.

I am sure that in these days the work of the plenary assembly, under the protection of the Mater Ecclesiae, will be able to reflect further on these brief notes that I allow myself to submit to the attention of the cardinals and the archbishops and bishops, invoking on all the copious abundance of heavenly gifts, in pledge of which I impart to you and to your loved ones a special and affectionate apostolic blessing.


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Papal Address to Academy for Life Conference

"Confidence in Science Cannot Forget the Primacy of Ethics"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2009 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday to participants in a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Academy for Life on the theme "New Frontiers of Genetics and the Danger of Eugenics." The conference coincided with the Pontifical Academy for Life's 15th general assembly.

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Lord Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,

Illustrious Academicians,

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen!

I am especially pleased to receive you on the occasion of the 15th ordinary assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life. In 1994 my venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II, instituted this body under the presidency of a scientist, Professor Jerôme Lejeune, understanding with foresight the delicate work that it would have to undertake over the course of years. I thank the president, Archbishop Rino Fisichella, for the words with which he wished to introduce this meeting, confirming the Academy's great dedication to the promotion and defense of human life.

From the time that the laws of heredity were discovered in the middle of the 19th century by the Augustinian abbot Gregor Mendel, who has been considered the founder of genetics, this science has truly taken giant steps in understanding the language at the basis of biological information, which determines the development of a living being. It is for this reason that modern genetics occupies a place of special prominence in the biological disciplines, which have contributed to the prodigious development of the knowledge of the invisible architecture of the human body and the cellular and molecular processes that preside over its multiple activities. Today science has arrived at revealing the recondite mechanisms of human physiology as well as the processes that are linked to the appearance of certain defects that are inheritable from parents along with processes that make some persons more susceptible to contract an illness. This knowledge, the fruit of the genius and toil of countless scholars, make it possible to more easily arrive at not only a more effective and early diagnosis of genetic maladies, but also to create therapies to alleviate the contraction of illnesses and, in some cases, to restore, in the end, the hope of regaining health. Moreover, from the time that the whole sequence of the human genome became available, the differences between one person and another and between different human populations have also become the object of genetic investigations, which allowed a glimpse of the possibility of new conquests.

Today the area of research still remains open and every day new horizons, in a large part unexplored, are disclosed. The work of researchers in such enigmatic and precious areas requires a special support; the cooperation between different sciences is a support that can never be lacking if results are to be arrived at that are effective and productive of authentic progress for the whole of humanity. This complementarity makes it possible to avoid the danger of a genetic reductionism that would identify the person exclusively with his genetic information and his interaction with his environment. It is again necessary to emphasize that man is greater than all of that which makes up his body; in fact, he carries with him the power of thought, which is always drawn to the truth about himself and the world. The words of Blaise Pascal, who was a great thinker as well as a gifted scientist, return: "Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms to crush him: a vapor, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than his slayer, because he is able to know that he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him. The universe, however, knows nothing of this" ("Pensées," 347).

Every human being, then, is much more than a singular combination of genetic information that is transmitted to him by his parents. The generation of man can never be reduced to the mere reproduction of a new individual of the human species, as is the case with all other animals. Every appearance of a person in the world is always a new creation. The words Psalm 139 recall this with deep wisdom: "You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother's womb ... My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret" (13, 15). If we want to enter into the mystery of human life, then it is necessary that no science isolate itself, pretending to have the last word. Rather, the common vocation to arrive at the truth -- according to the different methodologies and contents proper to each science -- must be shared.

Your conference, in any case, does not only analyze the great challenges that genetics is held to face; but it also extends to the dangers of eugenics, which is certainly not a new practice and which in the past has been the cause of real forms of discrimination and violence. The disapproval of eugenics used with violence by a regime, as the fruit of the hatred of a race or group, is so rooted in consciences that it found a formal expression in the "Universal Declaration of Human Rights." Despite this, there are appearing in our days troubling manifestations of this hateful practice, which present themselves with different traits. Certainly ideological and racist eugenics, which in the past humiliated man and provoked untold suffering, are not again being proposed. But a new mentality is insinuating itself that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity based on individual desire and individual rights. There is thus a tendency to privilege the capacities for work, efficiency, perfection and physical beauty to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not held to be valuable.

In this way the respect that is due to every human being -- even in the presence of a defect in his development or a genetic illness that could manifest itself in the course of his life -- is weakened, and those children whose life is judged unworthy of being lived are punished from the moment of conception.

It is necessary to reemphasize that every discrimination exercised by any power in regard to persons, peoples or ethnic groups on the basis of differences that stem from real or presumed genetic factors is an act of violence against all of humanity. What must be forcefully reemphasized is the equal dignity of every human being according to the fact itself of having life. Biological, psychological or cultural development or state of health can never become an element of discrimination. It is necessary, on the contrary, to consolidate a culture of hospitality and love that concretely testifies to solidarity with those who suffer, razing the barriers that society often erects, discriminating against those who are disabled and affected by pathologies, or worse - selecting and rejecting in the name of an abstract ideal of health and physical perfection. If man is reduced to an object of experimental manipulation from the first stage of development, that would mean that biotechnologies would surrender to the will of the stronger. Confidence in science cannot forget the primacy of ethics when human life is at stake.

I hope that your research in this sector, dear friends, will continue with due scientific care and the attention that ethical principles require in matters that are so important and decisive for the fitting development of personal existence. This is the wish with which I would like to conclude this meeting. As I invoke copious heavenly light upon your work, I affectionately impart to all of you a special apostolic blessing.

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Papal Address to Tribunal of the Roman Rota
"The Truth About Marriage and About Its Intrinsic Juridical Nature"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Jan. 29 to the Tribunal of the Roman Rota on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

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Distinguished Judges, Officials and Collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota,

The solemn inauguration of the judiciary activity of your Tribunal offers me again this year the joy of receiving you its distinguished members: Monsignor Dean, who I thank for the noble opening address, the College of Prelate Auditors, the Officials of the Tribunal and the Advocates of the Studio Rotale. I address to all of you my cordial greeting, together with the expression of my appreciation for the important task to which you attend as faithful collaborators of the Pope and of the Holy See.

You are expecting the Pope, at the beginning of your working year, to say a word of light and guidance on carrying out your delicate duties. We could dwell upon many topics in this circumstance, but at the distance of 20 years from the Addresses of John Paul ii on psychiatry's incapacity in the nullification of matrimony, of 5 February 1987 (Address to the Roman Rota, L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 23 February 1987, p. 6), and of 25 January 1988 (ORE, 15 February 1988, n. 7, p. 7), it seems opportune to ask oneself whether and to what extent these interventions have had an adequate reception in the ecclesiastical tribunals.

This is not the moment to draw up the balance sheet, but the fact of a problem that continues to be very real is visible to everyone. In some cases one can, unfortunately, still sense the pressing need of which my venerable Predecessor spoke: that of preserving the ecclesial community "from the scandal of seeing in practice the value of Christian marriage being destroyed by the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity, in cases of the failure of marriage, on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties" (Address to the Roman Rota, n. 9, 5 February 1987, ORE, 23 February 1987, p. 7).

At our meeting today I am intent on recalling the attention of lawyers to the need to treat the cases with the due depth required by the ministry of truth and charity that is proper to the Roman Rota. To the need for a rigorous procedure, in fact, the above mentioned Addresses, on the basis of Christian anthropological principles, furnish the basic criteria, not only for the close examination of psychiatric and psychological evidence, but also for the judicial definition of the causes.

In this regard it is opportune to recall again some distinctions that draw the demarcation line above all between "psychic maturity which is seen as the goal of human development" and "canonical maturity which instead, is the basic minimum required for establishing the validity of marriage" (ibid., n. 6, p. 7). Secondly, the distinction between incapacity and difficulty insofar as "only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent and in realizing a true community of life and love invalidates a marriage" (ibid., n. 7). Thirdly, the distinction between the canonistic dimension of normality, that is inspired by an integral vision of the human person "also includes moderate forms of psychological difficulty", and the clinical dimension that excludes from the concept of it every limitation of maturity and "every form of psychic illness" (Address to the Roman Rota, n. 5, 25 January 1988, ORE, 15 February 1988, p. 6). And lastly, the distinction between the "minimum capacity sufficient for valid consent" and the idealized capacity "of full maturity in relation to happy married life" (ibid., p. 7).

I then attest to the involvement of the faculties of the intellect and the will in the formation of matrimonial consent, Pope John Paul II, in the above mentioned Address of 5 February 1987, reaffirmed the principle according to which a true incapacity "is to be considered only when an anomaly of a serious nature is present which, however it may be defined, must substantially vitiate the capacity to understand and/or to consent" (Address to the Roman Rota, n. 7, ORE, 23 February 1987, p. 7).

In this regard it seems opportune to recall that the Code of Canon Law's norm concerning mental incapacity, and the application thereof, was further enriched and integrated by the recent Instruction "Dignitas connubii" of 25 January 2005. In fact, in order for this incapacity to be recognized, there must be a particular mental anomaly (art. 209 1) that seriously disturbs the use of reason (art. 209 2, n. 1; can. 1095, n. 1), at the time of the celebration of marriage and the use of reason or the critical and elective faculty in regard to grave decisions, particularly in freely choosing a state of life (art. 209 2, n. 2; can. 1095, n. 2) or that puts the contracting party not only under a serious difficulty but even the impossibility of sustaining the actions inherent in the obligations of marriage (art. 209 2, n. 3; can. 1095, n. 3).

However, on this occasion, I would also like to reconsider the theme of the incapacity to contract marriage, of which canon 1095 speaks, in the light of the relationship between human persons and marriage and recalling some fundamental principles that must enlighten lawyers.

First of all it is necessary to rediscover the positive capacity that in principle every human person has to marry by virtue of his very nature as man or woman. Indeed, we run the risk of falling into a form of anthropological pessimism which, in the light of the cultural situation today, considers marriage as almost impossible. Besides the fact that such a situation is not uniform in the various regions of the world, one cannot confuse the real difficulties confronting many, especially young people who conclude that marital union is normally unthinkable and impracticable with the true incapacity of consent. Rather, reaffirming the innate human capacity for marriage is precisely the starting point for helping couples discover the natural reality of marriage and the importance it has for salvation. What is actually at stake is the truth about marriage and about its intrinsic juridical nature (cf. Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Rota, 27 January 2007), which is an indispensable premise if people are to understand and evaluate the capacity required to wed.

In this sense the capacity must be associated with the essential significance of marriage, that is "the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws" (Second Ecumenical Vatican Council, Pastoral Constitution, Gaudium et spes, n. 48), and, in a particular way, with the essential obligations inherent to it, that must be assumed by the couple (can. 1095, n. 3).

This capacity is not measured in relation to a determined level of existential or effective realization of the conjugal union through the fulfillment of the essential obligations, but in relation to the effective will of each one of the partners, who makes possible and operative this realization already at the moment of contracting marriage.

The issue of the capacity or incapacity, therefore, has sense in the measure in which it regards the very act of the marriage contract, since the bond put in act by the will of the spouses constitutes the juridical act of a lofty biblical interpretation of "one flesh" (Gn 2: 24; Mk 10: 8; Eph 5: 31; cf. can. 1061 1), whose valid subsistence does not depend on the successive behavior of the couple during their married life.

On the other hand, in the reductionist optic that fails to recognize the truth on matrimony, the effective relationship of a true communion of life and love, idealized on a level of pure human well-being, essentially becomes dependent only on accidental factors, and not, instead, on the exercise of human freedom sustained by grace.

It is true that this freedom of human nature, "wounded in the natural powers" and "inclined to sin" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 405), is limited and imperfect, but not for this reason does it become inauthentic and insufficient to accomplish that act of self-determination of the parties who form the conjugal pact, that give life to matrimony and to the family founded on it.

Obviously some anthropological and "humanistic" currents aimed at self-realization and egocentric self-transcendence idealize human beings and marriage to such an extent that they then deny the mental capacity of many people, basing this on elements that do not correspond to the essential requirements of the conjugal bond.

Faced with this concept, canon law experts cannot fail to take into account the healthy realism that my venerable Predecessor indicated (cf. John Paul ii, Address to the Roman Curia, 27 January 1997, n. 4, ORE, n. 6 5 February 1997, p. 3), because the capacity makes reference to a basic minimum so that the couple can give their being as a male or as a female to establish that bond to which the great majority of human beings are called.

It follows, in principle, that the causes of nullity through mental incapacity require the judge to employ the services of experts to ascertain the existence of a real incapacity (can. 1680; art. 203 1, DC), that is always an exception to the natural principle of the capacity necessary to understand, decide and accomplish the giving of self upon which the conjugal bond is founded.

This is what, venerable members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, I wished to set forth on this solemn occasion, that is always a pleasant circumstance for me. In exhorting you to persevere with a lofty Christian conscience in the exercise of your office, whose great importance for the life of the Church emerges also from the things just said. May the Lord accompany you always in your delicate work with the light of his grace, to which the Apostolic Blessing that I impart to each one with deep affection is a pledge.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Pope to Pontifical Science Academy
"No Opposition Between Faith’s Understanding of Creation and the Evidence of the Empirical Sciences"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 31, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience participants in the plenary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to greet you, the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your Plenary Assembly, and I thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo for the words he has kindly addressed to me on your behalf.

In choosing the topic Scientific Insight into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life, you seek to focus on an area of enquiry which elicits much interest. In fact, many of our contemporaries today wish to reflect upon the ultimate origin of beings, their cause and their end, and the meaning of human history and the universe.

In this context, questions concerning the relationship between science’s reading of the world and the reading offered by Christian Revelation naturally arise. My predecessors Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II noted that there is no opposition between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of the empirical sciences. Philosophy in its early stages had proposed images to explain the origin of the cosmos on the basis of one or more elements of the material world. This genesis was not seen as a creation, but rather a mutation or transformation; it involved a somewhat horizontal interpretation of the origin of the world. A decisive advance in understanding the origin of the cosmos was the consideration of being qua being and the concern of metaphysics with the most basic question of the first or transcendent origin of participated being. In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created, in other words, by the first Being who is such by essence.

To state that the foundation of the cosmos and its developments is the provident wisdom of the Creator is not to say that creation has only to do with the beginning of the history of the world and of life. It implies, rather, that the Creator founds these developments and supports them, underpins them and sustains them continuously. Thomas Aquinas taught that the notion of creation must transcend the horizontal origin of the unfolding of events, which is history, and consequently all our purely naturalistic ways of thinking and speaking about the evolution of the world. Thomas observed that creation is neither a movement nor a mutation. It is instead the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q.45, a. 3).

To "evolve" literally means "to unroll a scroll", that is, to read a book. The imagery of nature as a book has its roots in Christianity and has been held dear by many scientists. Galileo saw nature as a book whose author is God in the same way that Scripture has God as its author. It is a book whose history, whose evolution, whose "writing" and meaning, we "read" according to the different approaches of the sciences, while all the time presupposing the foundational presence of the author who has wished to reveal himself therein. This image also helps us to understand that the world, far from originating out of chaos, resembles an ordered book; it is a cosmos. Notwithstanding elements of the irrational, chaotic and the destructive in the long processes of change in the cosmos, matter as such is "legible". It has an inbuilt "mathematics". The human mind therefore can engage not only in a "cosmography" studying measurable phenomena but also in a "cosmology" discerning the visible inner logic of the cosmos. We may not at first be able to see the harmony both of the whole and of the relations of the individual parts, or their relationship to the whole. Yet, there always remains a broad range of intelligible events, and the process is rational in that it reveals an order of evident correspondences and undeniable finalities: in the inorganic world, between microstructure and macrostructure; in the organic and animal world, between structure and function; and in the spiritual world, between knowledge of the truth and the aspiration to freedom. Experimental and philosophical inquiry gradually discovers these orders; it perceives them working to maintain themselves in being, defending themselves against imbalances, and overcoming obstacles. And thanks to the natural sciences we have greatly increased our understanding of the uniqueness of humanity’s place in the cosmos.

The distinction between a simple living being and a spiritual being that is capax Dei, points to the existence of the intellective soul of a free transcendent subject. Thus the Magisterium of the Church has constantly affirmed that "every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not ‘produced’ by the parents – and also that it is immortal" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 366). This points to the distinctiveness of anthropology, and invites exploration of it by modern thought.

Distinguished Academicians, I wish to conclude by recalling the words addressed to you by my predecessor Pope John Paul II in November 2003: "scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful".

Upon you and your families, and all those associated with the work of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, I cordially invoke God’s blessings of wisdom and peace.

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Papal 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.

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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 attention.

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 society.

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.

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Papal Address to Social Sciences Academy
"The Heavenly and Earthly Cities Interpenetrate"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2008 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting is focused on "Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together." It began Friday and continues through Tuesday.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you as you gather for the fourteenth Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Over the last two decades, the Academy has offered a valuable contribution to the deepening and development of the Church's social doctrine and its application in the areas of law, economics, politics and the various other social sciences. I thank Professor Margaret Archer for her kind words of greeting, and I express my sincere appreciation to all of you for your commitment to research, dialogue and teaching, so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may continue to shed light on the complex situations arising in a rapidly changing world.

In choosing the theme Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together, you have decided to examine the interrelationships between four fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 160-163). These key realities, which emerge from the living contact between the Gospel and concrete social circumstances, offer a framework for viewing and addressing the imperatives facing mankind at the dawn of the twenty-first century, such as reducing inequalities in the distribution of goods, expanding opportunities for education, fostering sustainable growth and development, and protecting the environment.

How can solidarity and subsidiarity work together in the pursuit of the common good in a way that not only respects human dignity, but allows it to flourish? This is the heart of the matter which concerns you. As your preliminary discussions have already revealed, a satisfactory answer can only surface after careful examination of the meaning of the terms (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Chapter 4). Human dignity is the intrinsic value of a person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Christ. The totality of social conditions allowing persons to achieve their communal and individual fulfilment is known as the common good. Solidarity refers to the virtue enabling the human family to share fully the treasure of material and spiritual goods, and subsidiarity is the coordination of society's activities in a way that supports the internal life of the local communities.

Yet definitions are only the beginning. What is more, these definitions are adequately grasped only when linked organically to one another and seen as mutually supportive of one another. We can initially sketch the interconnections between these four principles by placing the dignity of the person at the intersection of two axes: one horizontal, representing "solidarity" and "subsidiarity", and one vertical, representing the "common good". This creates a field upon which we can plot the various points of Catholic social teaching that give shape to the common good.

Though this graphic analogy gives us a rudimentary picture of how these fundamental principles imply one another and are necessarily interwoven, we know that the reality is much more complex. Indeed, the unfathomable depths of the human person and mankind's marvellous capacity for spiritual communion - realities which are fully disclosed only through divine revelation - far exceed the capacity of schematic representation. The solidarity that binds the human family, and the subsidiary levels reinforcing it from within, must however always be placed within the horizon of the mysterious life of the Triune God (cf. Jn 5:26; 6:57), in whom we perceive an ineffable love shared by equal, though nonetheless distinct, persons (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 42).

My friends, I invite you to allow this fundamental truth to permeate your reflections: not only in the sense that the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity are undoubtedly enriched by our belief in the Trinity, but particularly in the sense that these principles have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their definitive, supernatural destiny. The natural human inclination to live in community is confirmed and transformed by the "oneness of Spirit" which God has bestowed upon his adopted sons and daughters (cf. Eph 4:3; 1 Pet 3:8). Consequently, the responsibility of Christians to work for peace and justice, their irrevocable commitment to build up the common good, is inseparable from their mission to proclaim the gift of eternal life to which God has called every man and woman. In this regard, the tranquillitas ordinis of which Saint Augustine speaks refers to "all things": that is to say both "civil peace", which is a "concord among citizens", and the "peace of the heavenly city", which is the "perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God" (De Civitate Dei, XIX, 13).

The eyes of faith permit us to see that the heavenly and earthly cities interpenetrate and are intrinsically ordered to one another, inasmuch as they both belong to God the Father, who is "above all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:6). At the same time, faith places into sharper focus the due autonomy of earthly affairs, insofar as they are "endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order" (Gaudium et Spes, 36). Hence, you can be assured that your discussions will be of service to all people of good will, while simultaneously inspiring Christians to embrace more readily their obligation to enhance solidarity with and among their fellow citizens, and to act upon the principle of subsidiarity by promoting family life, voluntary associations, private initiative, and a public order that facilitates the healthy functioning of society's most basic communities (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 187).

When we examine the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity in the light of the Gospel, we realize that they are not simply "horizontal": they both have an essentially vertical dimension. Jesus commands us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (cf. Lk 6:31); to love our neighbour as ourselves (cf. Mat 22:35). These laws are inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). Jesus teaches that this love calls us to lay down our lives for the good of others (cf. Jn 15:12-13). In this sense, true solidarity - though it begins with an acknowledgment of the equal worth of the other - comes to fulfilment only when I willingly place my life at the service of the other (cf. Eph 6:21). Herein lies the "vertical" dimension of solidarity: I am moved to make myself less than the other so as to minister to his or her needs (cf. Jn 13:14-15), just as Jesus "humbled himself" so as to give men and women a share in his divine life with the Father and the Spirit (cf. Phil 2:8; Mat 23:12).

Similarly, subsidiarity - insofar as it encourages men and women to enter freely into life-giving relationships with those to whom they are most closely connected and upon whom they most immediately depend, and demands of higher authorities respect for these relationships - manifests a "vertical" dimension pointing towards the Creator of the social order (cf. Rom 12:16, 18). A society that honours the principle of subsidiarity liberates people from a sense of despondency and hopelessness, granting them the freedom to engage with one another in the spheres of commerce, politics and culture (cf. Quadragesimo Anno, 80). When those responsible for the public good attune themselves to the natural human desire for self-governance based on subsidiarity, they leave space for individual responsibility and initiative, but most importantly, they leave space for love (cf. Rom 13:8; Deus Caritas Est, 28), which always remains "the most excellent way" (cf. 1 Cor 12:31).

In revealing the Father's love, Jesus has taught us not only how to live as brothers and sisters here on earth; he has shown us that he himself is the way to perfect communion with one another and with God in the world to come, since it is through him that "we have access in one Spirit to the Father" (cf. Eph 2:18). As you strive to articulate the ways in which men and women can best promote the common good, I encourage you to survey both the "vertical" and "horizontal" dimensions of solidarity and subsidiarity. In this way, you will be able to propose more effective ways of resolving the manifold problems besetting mankind at the threshold of the third millennium, while also bearing witness to the primacy of love, which transcends and fulfils justice as it draws mankind into the very life of God (cf. Message for the 2004 World Day of Peace).

With these sentiments, I assure you of my prayers, and I cordially extend my Apostolic Blessing to you and your loved ones as a pledge of peace and joy in the Risen Lord.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana

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Papal Address to Education Congregation
"Teaching Is an Expression of Christ's Charity"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 1, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Jan. 21 address to participants in the plenary meeting of the Congregation for Catholic Education.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY MEETING OF THE CONGREGATION FOR CATHOLIC EDUCATION (FOR SEMINARIES AND EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS)

Clementine Hall
Monday, 21 January 2008

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for your visit which you are making on the occasion of the Plenary Assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education: my cordial greeting to each one of you. I greet in the first place Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of your Dicastery, and together with him, the new Secretary and other Officials and Collaborators. I extend special thanks to you, Your Eminence, for your words to me, presenting the various topics on which the Congregation intends to reflect on in these days. They are subjects of great interest and timeliness to which, especially at this moment in history, the Church addresses her attention.

The education sector is particularly dear to the Church, called to make her own the concern of Christ, who, the Evangelist recounts, in seeing the crowds, took "compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things" (Mk 6: 34). The Greek word that expresses this attitude of "compassion" calls to mind the depths of mercy and refers to the profound love that the Heavenly Father feels for man. Tradition has seen teaching - and more generally, education - as a concrete manifestation of spiritual mercy, which constitutes one of the first works of love which is the Church's mission to offer to humanity. It is particularly appropriate that people in our time are reflecting on how to make current and effective this apostolic task of the Ecclesial Community, entrusted to Catholic universities and in a special manner to ecclesiastical faculties. I therefore rejoice with you that you have chosen a theme of such great interest for your Plenary Meeting, just as I also believe it will be useful to make a careful analysis of the projects for reform that are currently being studied by your Dicastery concerning the above-mentioned Catholic universities and ecclesiastical faculties.

In the first place, I refer to the reform of ecclesiastical studies of philosophy, a project which has now reached the last stages of its elaboration, in which the metaphysical and sapiential dimensions of philosophy, mentioned by John Paul II in his Encyclical Fides et Ratio (cf. n. 81), will certainly be emphasized. It would likewise be useful to assess the expediency of a reform of the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia Christiana. Desired by my venerable Predecessor in 1979, it constitutes the magna carta of ecclesiastical faculties and serves as a basis for formulating criteria for evaluating the quality of these institutions, an evaluation required by the Bologna Process which the Holy See joined in 2003. Today, the ecclesiastical disciplines, especially theology, are subjected to new questions in a world tempted on the one hand by rationalism which follows a falsely free rationality disconnected from any religious reference, and on the other, by fundamentalisms that falsify the true essence of religion with their incitement to violence and fanaticism.

Schools should also question themselves on the role they must fulfil in the contemporary social context, marked by an evident educational crisis. The Catholic school, whose primary mission is to form students in accordance with an integral anthropological vision while remaining open to all and respecting the identity of each one, cannot fail to propose its own educational, human and Christian perspective. Here then, a new challenge is posed which globalization and increasing pluralism make even more acute: in other words, the challenge of the encounter of religions and cultures in the common search for the truth. The acceptance of the cultural plurality of pupils and parents must necessarily meet two requirements: on the one hand, not to exclude anyone in the name of his or her cultural or religious membership; on the other, once this cultural and religious difference has been recognized and accepted, not to stop at the mere observation of it. This would in fact be equivalent to denying that cultures truly respect one another when they meet, because all authentic cultures are oriented to the truth about man and to his good. Therefore, people who come from different cultures can speak to one another and understand one another over and above distances in time and space, because in the heart of every person dwells the same great aspirations to goodness, justice, truth, life and love.

Another theme being studied at your Plenary Assembly is the question concerning the reform of the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis for seminaries. The basic document, dated 1970, was updated in 1985, especially subsequent to the promulgation of the Code of Canon Law in 1983. In the decades that followed, various texts of special importance were promulgated, in particular the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis (1992). The present atmosphere in society, with the massive influence of the media and the expansion of the phenomenon of globalization, is profoundly changed. It would thus seem necessary to question oneself on the expediency of the reform of the Ratio fundamentalis, which should emphasize the importance of a correct articulation of the various dimensions of priestly formation in the perspective of the Church-communion, following the instructions of the Second Vatican Council. This implies a solid formation in the faith of the Church and true familiarity with the revealed Word given by God to his Church. The formation of future priests, moreover, must offer useful guidelines and directions for carrying on a dialogue with the contemporary cultures. Human and cultural formation should therefore be significantly reinforced and sustained, also with the help of the modern sciences, since certain destabilizing social factors that exist in the world today (for example, the plight of so many broken families, the educational crisis, widespread violence, etc.) render the new generations fragile.
At the same time, an adequate formation in the spiritual life, which makes Christian communities and especially parishes ever more aware of their vocation and able to respond satisfactorily to the question of spirituality that comes especially from young people, must take place. This requires that the Church not lack well-qualified and responsible apostles and evangelizers. Consequently, the problem of vocations arises, especially to the priesthood and the consecrated life. While in some parts of the world vocations are visibly flourishing, elsewhere the number is dwindling, especially in the West. The care of vocations involves the whole Ecclesial Community: Bishops, priests, consecrated persons and also families and parishes. The publication of the Document on the vocation to the presbyteral ministry which you are preparing will certainly be a great help to your pastoral action.

Dear brothers and sisters, I recalled earlier that teaching is an expression of Christ's charity and is the first of the spiritual works of mercy that the Church is called to carry out. Those who enter the offices of the Congregation for Catholic Education are welcomed by an icon that shows Jesus washing his disciples' feet during the Last Supper. May the One who "loved [us] to the end" (cf. Jn 13: 1) bless your work at the service of education and, with the power of his Spirit, make it effective. For my part, I thank you for all you do daily with competence and dedication, and while I entrust you to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy, the Wise Virgin and Mother of Love, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to you all.

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Pope's Address for Consistory of Cardinals
"Where Christ Is, There Is His Kingdom"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 3, 2007 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily of Benedict XVI for the Mass of the consistory for the elevation of new cardinals, held Nov. 25 in St. Peter's Basilica, the feast of Christ the King.

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Solemnity of Christ, King of the Universe, the crown of the liturgical year, is enriched by the acceptance into the College of Cardinals of 23 new members whom, according to tradition, I have invited to concelebrate the Eucharist with me today. I address to each one of them my cordial greeting, which I extend with fraternal affection to all the Cardinals present. I am also pleased to greet the delegations from various countries and the Diplomatic Corps of the Holy See; the numerous Bishops and priests, the men and women Religious and all the faithful, especially those from Dioceses entrusted to the pastoral guidance of some of the new Cardinals.

The liturgical Feast of Christ the King gives our celebration an especially significant background, outlined and illuminated by the Biblical Readings. We find ourselves as it were facing an imposing fresco with three great scenes: at the centre, the Crucifixion according to the Evangelist Luke's account; on one side, the royal anointing of David by the elders of Israel; on the other, the Christological hymn with which St Paul introduces the Letter to the Colossians. The whole scene is dominated by the figure of Christ, the one Lord before whom we are all brothers and sisters. The Church's entire hierarchy, every charism and ministry, everything and everyone are at the service of his Lordship.

We must begin from the central event: the Cross. Here Christ manifests his unique Kingship. On Calvary two opposite attitudes confront each other. Some figures at the foot of the Cross as well as one of the two thieves address the Crucified One contemptuously: If you are the Christ, the Messiah King, they say, save yourself by coming down from the cross. Jesus reveals instead his own glory by remaining there on the Cross as the immolated Lamb. The other thief unexpectedly sides with him, and he implicitly confesses the royalty of the innocent, just One and implores: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingly power" (Lk 23: 42). St Cyril of Alexandria comments: "You see him crucified and you call him King. You believe that he who bears scoffing and suffering will reach divine glory" (Comment on Luke, Homily 153). According to the Evangelist John, the divine glory is already present, although hidden by the disfiguration of the Cross. But also in the language of Luke, the future is anticipated in the present when Jesus promises the good thief: "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise" (Lk 23: 43). St Ambrose observes: "He prayed that the Lord would remember him when he reached his Kingdom, but the Lord responded: Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise. Life is being with Christ, because where Christ is, there is his Kingdom" (Exposition of the Gospel according to Luke, 10, 121). The accusation: "This is the King of the Jews", written on a tablet nailed above Jesus' head thus becomes the proclamation of the truth. St Ambrose further notes: "The writing is correctly placed above the Cross, because even though the Lord Jesus was on the Cross, yet his royal majesty shone from the height of the Cross" (ibid., 10, 113).

The Crucifixion scene in the four Gospels constitutes the moment of truth when the "veil of the Temple" is torn and the Holy of Holies appears. The maximum revelation of God possible in this world occurs in Jesus Crucified, because God is love and the death of Jesus on the Cross is the greatest act of love in all of history. Well then, on the Cardinal's ring that I will consign in a few moments to the new members of the Sacred College is portrayed precisely the Crucifixion. This, dear new Cardinal-Brothers, will always be an invitation for you to remember of what King you are servants, on what throne he has been raised and how he has been faithful to the end in overcoming sin and death with the power of divine mercy. Mother Church, Spouse of Christ, gives you this symbol in memory of her Spouse, who loved her and gave himself up for her (cf. Eph 5: 25). Thus, wearing the Cardinal's ring, you are constantly called to give your life for the Church.

If we now cast a glance at the scene of the royal anointing of David presented in the First Reading, an important aspect on royalty strikes us, namely, its "corporative" dimension. The elders of Israel go to Hebron, they seal a covenantal pact with David, declaring to consider themselves united to him and wanting to be one only with him. If we relate Christ to this image, it seems to me that this same covenantal profession applies very well precisely to you, dear Cardinal-Brothers. You too who form the "senate" of the Church can say to Jesus: "Behold, we are your bone and flesh" (II Sam 5: 1). We belong to you, and we want to be one only with you. You are the Shepherd of the People of God, you are the Head of the Church (cf. II Sam 5: 2). In this solemn Eucharistic celebration we want to renew our pact with you, our friendship, because only in this intimate and profound relationship with you, Jesus, our King and Lord, does the dignity that has been conferred upon us and the responsibility it bears have sense and value.

There now remains for us to admire the third part of our "triptych" that the Word of God places before us: the Christological hymn of the Letter to the Colossians. First of all, we make the sentiments of joy and gratitude that pour forth from it our own, for the fact that the Kingdom of Christ, the "inheritance of the saints in light", is not only something seen from a distance but a reality in which we are called to partake, into which we have been "transferred", thanks to the redemptive action of the Son of God (cf. Col 1: 12-14). This graced action opens St Paul's soul to the contemplation of Christ and his ministry in its two principal dimensions: the creation of all things and their reconciliation. The first aspect of Christ's Lordship consists in the fact that "all things were created through him and for him... in him all things hold together" (Col 1: 16-17). The second dimension centres on the Paschal Mystery: through the Son's death on the Cross, God has reconciled every creature to himself, has made peace between Heaven and earth; raising him from the dead he has made him the firstborn of the new creation, the "fullness" of every reality and "head of the [mystical] body", the Church (cf. Col 1: 18-20). We find ourselves again before the Cross, the central event of the mystery of Christ. In the Pauline vision the Cross is placed within the entire economy of salvation, where Jesus' royalty is displayed in all its cosmic fullness.

This text of the Apostle expresses a synthesis of truth and faith so powerful that we cannot fail to remain in deep admiration of it. The Church is the trustee of the mystery of Christ: She is so in all humility and without a shadow of pride or arrogance, because it concerns the maximum gift that she has received without any merit and that she is called to offer gratuitously to humanity of every age, as the horizon of meaning and salvation. It is not a philosophy, it is not a gnosis, even though it also comprises wisdom and knowledge. It is the mystery of Christ, it is Christ himself, the Logos incarnate, dead and risen, made King of the universe. How can one fail to feel a rush of enthusiasm full of gratitude for having been permitted to contemplate the splendour of this revelation? How can one not feel at the same time the joy and the responsibility to serve this King, to witness his Lordship with one's life and word? In a particular way this is our duty, venerable Cardinal-Brothers: to proclaim the truth of Christ, hope of every person and the entire human family. In the wake of the Second Vatican Council, my Venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II, have been authentic heralds of Christ's royalty in today's world. And it is for me a motive of consolation to be able to always count on you, both collegially and individually, to bring to fulfilment with me the Petrine Ministry's fundamental duty.

In conclusion, I would like to mention an aspect that is strongly united to this mission and that I entrust to your prayer: peace among all Christ's disciples, as a sign of the peace that Jesus came to establish in the world. We have heard the great news of the Christological hymn: it pleased God to "reconcile" the universe through the Cross of Christ (cf. Col 1: 20)! Well then, the Church is that portion of humanity in whom Christ's royalty is already manifest, who has peace as its privileged manifestation. It is the new Jerusalem, still imperfect because it is yet a pilgrim in history, but able to anticipate in some way the heavenly Jerusalem. Lastly, we can here refer to the Responsorial Psalm 121, belonging to the so-called "Song of Ascents". It is a hymn of the pilgrims' joy who, going up toward the holy city and having reached its doors, address the peace-greeting to them: shalom! According to popular etymology Jerusalem is interpreted as a "city of peace", whose peace the Messiah, Son of David, would have established in the fullness of time. We recognize in Jerusalem the figure of the Church, sacrament of Christ and of his Kingdom.

Dear Cardinal-Brothers, this Psalm expresses well the ardent love song for the Church that you certainly carry in your hearts. You have dedicated your life to the Church's service, and now you are called to assume in her a duty of utmost responsibility. May the words of the Psalm find full acceptance in you: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem"! (v. 6). Prayer for peace and unity constitutes your first and principal mission, so that the Church may be "solid and compact" (v. 3), a sign and instrument of unity for the whole human race (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 1). I place, or rather, let us all place your mission under the vigilant protection of the Mother of the Church, Mary Most Holy. To her, united to her Son on Calvary and assumed as Queen at his right hand in glory, we entrust the new Cardinals, the College of Cardinals and the entire Catholic community, committed to sowing in the furrows of history Christ's Kingdom, the Lord of Life and Prince of Peace.

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Papal Homily at the Consistory
"The Lord Asks of You and Gives to You the Service of Love"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 25, 2007 - Here is a translation of the homily that Benedict XVI gave during Saturday’s ordinary public consistory in which he elevated 23 new cardinals.
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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Brothers of the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!

Today -- in this Vatican basilica, heart of the Christian world -- is renewed a significant and solemn ecclesial event: the ordinary public consistory for the creation of 23 new cardinals with the imposition of the biretta and the conferral of the title. It is an event that every time awakens a special emotion, and not only in those who with these rites are admitted to the College of Cardinals, but in the whole Church, joyful over this eloquent sign of Catholic unity.
The ceremony itself in its structure discloses the value of the task that the new cardinals are called to perform, closely cooperating with the Successor of Peter, and it invites the people of God to pray that in their service, these brothers of ours always remain faithful to Christ, even unto the sacrifice of life if it is necessary, and let themselves be guided by his Gospel. For this we gather around them with faith and raise up to God, first of all, our prayerful thanksgiving.

In this climate of joy and intense spirituality I offer with affection my greeting to each one of you, brothers, who from this day forward are members of the College of Cardinals, chosen to be, according to an ancient institution, the closest counselors and co-workers of the Successor of Peter in guiding the Church.
I greet and thank Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, who, in your name addressed courteous and devout sentiments to me, emphasizing at the same time the significance and importance of the ecclesial event we are experiencing. I desire, furthermore, to address a dutiful thought to Bishop Ignacy Jez, whom we mourn, whom the God of every grace called to himself, just before his nomination, to offer him a very different crown: that of the glory of Christ. My cordial greeting then goes to the lord cardinals who are present and also to those who were not able to be with us physically, but who are spiritually united with us. The celebration of the consistory is always a providential occasion to offer “urbi et orbi” -- to the city of Rome and to the whole world -- witness to that singular unity that binds the cardinals to the Pope, Bishop of Rome. In such solemn circumstances it is also dear to me to address a respectful and deferential greeting to government representatives and leaders who have gathered here from every part of the world, and to the relatives, friends, priests, religious, and faithful of the particular local Churches from which the new cardinals come. Finally, I greet all those who have come here to pay their respects to the new cardinals and to express in festive joy their esteem and affection for them.

With today’’s celebration, you, dear brothers, are with full rights inserted into the venerable Church of Rome, whose shepherd is the Successor of Peter. Thus in the College of Cardinals is revived the ancient ““presbyterium”” of the Bishop of Rome, whose members, while they carried out their pastoral and liturgical functions in the various churches, did not neglect their precious work in the fulfillment of those tasks connected with assisting the Pope in his universal apostolic office. The times have changed and today the great family of Christ’’s disciples is spread across every continent to the most remote corners of the earth. It speaks nearly all the languages of the world and to it belong people of every culture. The diversity of the College of Cardinals, which is accounted for by geographical and cultural provenance, manifests this providential growth and at the same time demonstrates the changed pastoral needs to which the Pope must respond. Because of this, the universality, the catholicity, of the Church, is well reflected in the composition of the College of Cardinals: Many are pastors of diocesan communities, others are in direct service of the Apostolic See, and others have rendered meritorious service in specific pastoral sectors.

Each one of you, dear and venerable newly created cardinals, therefore represents a portion of the articulated Mystical Body of Christ that is the Church everywhere diffused. I know what effort and sacrifice is necessary today for the care of souls, but I know the generosity that sustains your daily apostolic activity. For this reason, in the circumstances in which we live, it is dear to me to confirm to you my sincere appreciation of the service you have faithfully given in many years of work in different spheres of ecclesial ministry, service which now, with this elevation to the cardinalate, you are called to accomplish with greater responsibility, in the closest communion with the Bishop of Rome.

I now think with affection of the communities entrusted to your care and, in a special way, of those that are most tried by suffering, by challenges and difficulties of different sorts. Among these, how can I not turn my gaze with apprehension and affection, in this moment of joy, to the dear Christian communities of Iraq? These brothers and sisters of ours in the faith are experiencing in their own flesh the dramatic consequences of a long conflict and are living in an ever more fragile and delicate political situation. Calling the patriarch of the Chaldean Church to enter into the College of Cardinals, I intended to express in a concrete way my spiritual nearness and my affection for those populations. We would like, dear and venerable brothers, together to reaffirm the solidarity of the whole Church with the Christians of that beloved land and to invite and to implore from the merciful God, for all peoples involved, the longed-for coming of reconciliation and peace.

A short while ago we heard the Word of God that helps us better to understand the solemn moment we are now experiencing. In the Gospel passage, Jesus had just recalled for the third time the fate that awaits him in Jerusalem, but the ambition of the disciples gets the upper hand on the fear that for a moment assailed them. After Peter’’s confession at Caesarea and the discussion along the way about who was greatest, ambition drives the sons of Zebedee to claim for themselves the best positions in the messianic kingdom at the end of time. In the race for privileges, the two know well what they want, just as the other 10 do, despite their ““righteous”” indignation. In truth, however, they do not know what they are asking for. It is Jesus who makes them understand, speaking in very different terms of the ““service”” that awaits them. He corrects the coarse conception of merit that they have, according to which man can acquire rights before God.

The Evangelist Mark reminds us, dear and venerable brothers, that every true disciple of Christ can aspire for one thing only: to share in his passion without claiming recompense. The Christian is called to assume the condition of ““servant,”” following in the footsteps of Jesus, spending his life for others in a gratuitous and disinterested way. It is not the quest for power and success but the humble gift of self for the good of the Church that should characterize each gesture and each word of ours. True Christian greatness, in fact, does not consist in dominating but in serving. Today Jesus repeats to each of us that he ““did not come to be served but to serve and to give his life for the many”” (Mark 10:45). This is the ideal that must orient your service. Dear brothers, in entering the College of Cardinals, the Lord asks of you and gives to you the service of love: love for God, love for his Church, love for our brothers, with a total and unconditional dedication, ““usque ad sanguinis effusionem”” [even to the shedding of blood], as is said in the formula for the imposition of the biretta and as is shown in the garments that you will put on.

Be apostles of God, who is love, and witnesses of evangelical hope: The Christian people expects this of you. Today’’s ceremony highlights the great responsibility that weighs on each of you, venerable and dear brothers, and which finds confirmation in the words of the Apostle Peter that we have just heard: “Adore the Lord, Christ, in your hearts, always ready to answer whoever asks you the reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15). Such a responsibility does not exempt you from risks, rather, as St. Peter adds, “It is better, if God wills it, to suffer for doing the good than for doing evil” (1 Peter 3:17). Christ asks you to confess his truth before men, to embrace and share his cause; and to accomplish all of this “with sweetness and respect, with a good conscience” (1 Peter 3:1-16), that is, with that interior humility that is a fruit of cooperation with the grace of God.

Dear brothers and sisters, tomorrow, in this same basilica, I will have the joy of celebrating the Eucharist of Christ the King of the Universe, together with the new cardinals, and I will give them the ring. It will be a very important and opportune occasion to reaffirm our unity in Christ and to renew our common will to serve him with total generosity. Accompany them with your prayer, so that they will respond to the gift given with complete and constant dedication. To Mary, Queen of the Apostles, we turn our confidence. May her spiritual presence today in this singular cenacle be a pledge for the new cardinals and for all of us a constant effusion of the Holy Spirit that guides the Church on her way in history. Amen!

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Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today after celebrating the Eucharist with the new cardinals created in Saturday’’s consistory and before reciting the midday Angelus.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On Tuesday, at Annapolis in the United States, Israelis and Palestinians, with the help of the international community, intend to re-launch the negotiation process to find a just and definitive solution to the conflict that has bloodied the Holy Land for 60 years and provoked so many tears and so much suffering among the two peoples. I ask you to join yourselves to the day of prayer declared today by the U.S. bishops' conference to implore the Spirit of God for peace for that region so dear to us and to give wisdom and courage to all the protagonists in this important meeting.

After the conclusion of today’s solemn celebration, I would like to address my cordial greetings to all present, including those who are outside the basilica. I express special gratitude to those faithful who have come from far away to accompany the new cardinals and participate in this event, which manifests in a singular manner the unity and universality of the Catholic Church. To the distinguished civil authorities I renew my deferential sentiments.

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Papal Address to the Vatican Chapter
"I Trust in Your Ministry So St. Peter's May Become a Place of Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the Oct. 8 address Benedict XVI delivered to members of the Chapter of St. Peter's Basilica.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO MEMBERS OF THE CHAPTER
OF THE PAPAL BASILICA
OF SAINT PETER AT THE VATICAN

Vatican's Clementine Hall
Monday, 8 October 2007

Dear Member of the Vatican Chapter,

I have been looking forward to meeting you for a long time and I gladly take this opportunity to express to you my personal esteem and affection. I address a cordial greeting to each one of you.

I greet in particular Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Archpriest, whom I thank for his presentation of this ancient and venerable institution. With him, I greet the Vicar, Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, the Canons and the Coadjutors. I appreciated, Your Excellency, the fact that as Archpriest you referred to the uninterrupted presence of clergy praying in the Vatican Basilica since the time of St Gregory the Great. It has been a continuous, deliberately discreet but faithful and persevering presence.

Properly speaking, however, your Chapter was founded in 1053, when Pope Leo IX confirmed that the Archpriest and Canons of St Peter's who had settled in the Monastery of St Stephen the Great would be granted the same possessions and privileges that his Predecessors had conferred upon them. It was later, during the Pontificate of Eugene III (1145-53), that the General Chapter acquired the characteristics of a well-structured and autonomous community. Indeed, the transition from a monastic structure at the service of the Basilica to today's canonical structure was essentially long and gradual. Under the Archpriest's guidance, the activity of the Vatican Chapter focused from the outset on a wide rang of commitments: the liturgical sphere, for a harmonious celebration and the daily supervision of the services connected to worship; the administrative context, for the management of the patrimony of the Basilica and its affiliated churches; the pastoral sector, in which the Chapter was entrusted with the care of the Borgo district; the charitable sector, in which the Chapter carried out its own activities of assistance and collaboration with the Santo Spirito Hospital and other institutions.

From the 11th century to this day, at least 11 Popes have belonged to the Vatican Chapter. I would like to recall among them the 20th century Popes in particular, Pius XI and Pius XII.

Ever since the 16th century, when the construction of the new Basilica began -- we celebrated the fifth centenary of the laying of the foundation stone last year -- the history of the Vatican Chapter has been linked to that of the Fabric of St Peter's. They are two separate institutions but are united in the person of the Archpriest, who ensures that their reciprocal collaboration is fruitful.

The Chapter's work in the life of the Vatican Basilica, especially in the last decades of the past century, has sought more and more to rediscover its true, original function that consisted above all in the ministry of prayer. If prayer is fundamental for all Christians, for you, dear brothers, it is as it were a "professional" task.

As I said during my recent Journey in Austria, prayer is at the same time both a service to the Lord who deserves to be ceaselessly praised and adored and a testimony for people.

Moreover, when God is faithfully praised and worshipped, his blessings are unfailing (cf. Address at Holy Cross Abbey, 9 September 2007; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 12 September, p. 10). This is the proper nature of the Vatican Chapter and the contribution that the Pope expects of you: to recall with your prayerful presence at Peter's tomb that nothing can come before God; that the Church is entirely oriented to him and to his glory; that the primacy of Peter is at the service of the unity of the Church, and that this in turn is at the service of the saving plan of the Most Holy Trinity.

Dear and venerable Brothers, I trust profoundly in you and in your ministry so that St Peter's Basilica may become an authentic place of prayer, adoration and praise of the Lord. It is more necessary than elsewhere that a permanent community of prayer should exist here, by Peter's tomb, in this sacred place visited every day by thousands of pilgrims and tourists from all over the world, which can guarantee continuity with tradition and at the same time intercede for the Pope's intentions in the Church and in the world today. In this perspective, I invoke upon you the protection of St Peter, of St John Chrysostom, whose relics are preserved precisely in your Chapel, and of the other Saints and Blesseds enshrined in the Basilica. May the Immaculate Virgin watch over you. Her image, which you venerate in the Chapel of the Choir, was crowned by Bl. Pius IX in 1854 and, 50 years later in 1904, St Pius X surrounded it with stars. Once again, I thank you for the zeal with which you carry out your task, and as I assure you of my special remembrance in Holy Mass, I warmly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.

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Pope Remembers Cardinal Van Thuân
"He Lived on Hope and Spread It Among Those He Met"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Sept. 17 address to mark the fifth anniversary of the death of Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE ON THE FIFTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF CARD. FRANÇOIS-XAVIER NGUYÊN VAN THUÂN

Castel Gandolfo
Monday, 17 September 2007

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I address a cordial welcome to all of you, gathered to remember beloved Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, whom the Lord called to himself on 16 September five years ago. Five years have passed but the noble figure of this faithful servant of the Lord lives on in the minds and hearts of all who knew him. I too cherish many personal memories of the meetings I had with him during the years of his service here in the Roman Curia.

I greet Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively President and Secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, together with their collaborators. I greet the members of the San Matteo Foundation established in memory of Cardinal Van Thuân, and of the International Observatory, called after him and created for the dissemination of the Church's social doctrine, as well as the deceased Cardinal's relatives and friends. I also express my sentiments of deep gratitude to Cardinal Martino for his words on behalf of those present.

I willingly take the opportunity once again to highlight the shining witness of faith which this heroic Pastor bequeathed to us. Bishop Francis Xavier -- this is how he liked to introduce himself -- was called to the Father's House in autumn 2000, after a long and difficult period of illness faced in total abandonment to God's will. A little earlier, my venerable Predecessor John Paul II had appointed him Vice-President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, of which he later became President, and he set about publishing the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church. How can we forget the outstanding features of his simple, ready cordiality? How can we not shine light on his conversational skill and his ability to make himself close to everyone? We recall him with deep admiration while we remember the great visions full of hope that inspired him and that he was able to present easily and engagingly: his fervent dedication to disseminating the social doctrine of the Church among the world's poor; his longing for evangelization in Asia, his Continent; his ability to coordinate activities of charity and human promotion which he encouraged and supported in the most remote places of the earth.

Cardinal Van Thuân was a man of hope. He lived on hope and spread it among those he met. It was thanks to this spiritual energy that he was able to withstand all the physical and moral difficulties. Hope sustained him as a Bishop who for 13 years was cut off from his diocesan community; hope helped him to see in the absurdity of the events that had happened to him -- he was never tried throughout his lengthy detention -- a providential plan of God. He received the news of the disease, the tumour that was later to lead to his death, at the same time that he learned of his appointment as Cardinal by Pope John Paul II, who held him in high esteem and was very fond of him. Cardinal Van Thuân liked to repeat that the Christian is the man of the moment, of the now, of the present time that must be welcomed and experienced with Christ's love. In this ability to live in the present shines forth Cardinal Van Thuân's intimate abandonment in God's hands and the Gospel simplicity that we all admired in him. And could it be possible, he used to wonder, that those who trust in the Heavenly Father then refuse to allow themselves to be embraced by him?

Dear brothers and sisters, I accepted with great joy the news that the Cause of Beatification of this unique prophet of Christian hope is being initiated. As we entrust this chosen soul to the Lord, let us pray that his example may be an effective lesson for us. With this hope, I cordially bless you all.

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Papal Address at Vatican Library
"A Welcoming House of Knowledge, Culture and Humanity"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 13, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave during his June 25 visit to the Vatican Library and Secret Archives.

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VISIT TO THE VATICAN APOSTOLIC LIBRARY AND THE VATICAN SECRET ARCHIVES
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI

Monday, 25 June 2007

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I accepted with joy the invitation addressed to me by Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, Librarian of Holy Roman Church, to visit the Vatican Apostolic Library and the Secret Archives of the Vatican.

Because of the important service they render to the Apostolic See and to the world of culture, both these institutions certainly deserve special attention on the part of the Pope. I have therefore gladly come to meet you and as I thank you for your warm welcome, I address my cordial greeting to you all.

In the first place, I greet Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, whom I thank for his words and the sentiments he has expressed on your behalf. With equal affection I greet Bishop Raffaele Farina and the Prefect of the Vatican Secret Archives, Fr Sergio Pagano, as well as those of you who are present here and all who collaborate in various capacities in the Library and in the Archives.

Your work, dear friends, is not merely work but, as I have just said, a unique service that you offer to the Church and especially to the Pope.

Moreover, it is well known that the Vatican Library, which -- as Cardinal Tauran has just announced -- is getting ready for an immense restoration project, is not called "Apostolic" by chance, since it is an institution which since its foundation has been held to be the "Pope's library", belonging directly to him.

In recent times too, the Servant of God John Paul II desired to recall this bond which binds the Vatican Apostolic Library to the Successor of Peter and which sheds light on its special mission, stressed by Pope Sixtus IV in former times: "Ad decorem militantis Ecclesiae et fidei augmentum -- for the decorum of the militant Church and for the dissemination of the faith".

This was echoed by another of my Predecessors, Pope Nicholas V, who mentioned its purpose in these words: "Pro communi doctorum virorum commodo -- for the use and common interest of scholars".

Down the centuries, the Vatican Library has assimilated and refined this mission, giving it an unmistakeable character so that it has become a welcoming house of knowledge, culture and humanity, which opens its doors to scholars from every part of the world, irrespective of their origin, religion or culture.

Your task, dear friends who work here every day, is to foster the synthesis between culture and faith which transpires from the valuable documents and treasures in your custody, from the walls that surround you, from the Museums near you and from the splendid, luminous Basilica which can be seen from your windows.

I am very familiar with the work you carry out with humble and almost hidden daily commitment in the Secret Archives, the destination of so many researchers who come from across the world: in the manuscripts, less grand than the rich codices in the Apostolic Library but equally important for their historical interest, these researchers seek the roots of many ecclesiastical and civil institutions and study the history of remote and more recent times.

Furthermore, they can trace the outline of the distinguished figures of the Church and of civilization and make the many-faceted work of the Roman Pontiffs and numerous other Pastors better known.

The Vatican Archives were opened for consultation to scholars in 1881 by Leo XIII with his wise foresight; entire generations of historians have referred to them, as indeed have the European nations themselves.

The latter, to encourage research into such an ancient and rich scrinium as the Church of Rome, founded specific cultural Institutes in the Eternal City.

Today, people turn to the Secret Archives not only for erudite research concerning periods remote from us -- although this in itself is praiseworthy and highly commendable -- but also for their interest in ages and times that are close to us, even very close.

This is proven by the initial results produced to date thanks to the recent opening to scholars of the Pontificate of Pius XI, on which I decided in June 2006.

Besides research projects, studies and publications, polemics may sometimes arise. In this regard I have nothing but praise for the unselfish and unbiased service which the Vatican Secret Archives has carried out, steering clear of barren and also often weak and partisan historical views and offering to researchers, without exceptions or preconceptions, the documentary material in its possession, which has been seriously and competently organized.

The Secret Archives, as also the Apostolic Library, receive from many places tokens of the appreciation and esteem of cultural institutes and private scholars from different nations. This seems to me to be the best recognition to which the two Institutions can aspire. And I would like to assure them both, their Superiors and all their Personnel at the different structural levels of my gratitude and closeness.

I confess that, on reaching 70 years of age, I would have liked for beloved John Paul II to permit me to devote myself to study and research into the interesting documents and materials that you carefully conserve, true masterpieces that help us to review the history of humanity and of Christianity.

In his providential design the Lord had other plans for me and here I am with you today, not as a passionate scholar of ancient texts but rather as a Pastor who is required to encourage all the faithful to cooperate in the world's salvation, each one doing God's will wherever God places us to work.

For you, dear friends, this means fulfilling your Christian vocation in contact with the rich testimonies of culture, knowledge and spirituality, spending your days and in the end a large part of your lives in study, publication and service to the public and particularly to the bodies of the Roman Curia.

For your multifaceted activity you avail yourselves of the most advanced information technology, in cataloguing, restoration, photography and in general in everything that concerns the protection and fruition of the very rich patrimony that you preserve.

In praising you for your commitment, I urge you always to view your work as a true mission to be carried out with passion and patience, kindness and a spirit of faith. Always be concerned to present a welcoming image of the Apostolic See, aware that the Gospel message also passes through your consistent Christian testimony.

Now, at the end of our meeting, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran as President of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. I have appointed Bishop Raffaele Farina to replace him as Archivist and Librarian of Holy Roman Church, and have raised him at the same time to the dignity of Archbishop.

I have called upon Mons. Cesare Pasini, until now Vice-Prefect of the Veneranda Biblioteca Ambrosiana, to succeed him as Prefect of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Straightaway, I wish both of them success in their new offices.

I now thank all of you once again for your precious service in the Apostolic Library and in the Vatican Archives. I impart my Blessing warmly and with special affection to each one of you and willingly extend it to your respective families and loved ones.

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Pope's Address to Ecclesiastical Academy
"All Will Clearly See the Atypical Character of Pontifical Diplomacy"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's Saturday address to the superiors and alumni of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy.

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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Superiors and Priests,

Welcome to you who form the family of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy! I listened with attention and gratitude to the address that your president made to me in your name and I thank him from my heart. His words of congratulations for the book "Jesus of Nazareth," fruit of my personal search for the face of Christ, show that the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy rightly considers the ardent desire to know the Lord more and more a fundamental value for those who, like you, are called in diplomatic service to a special collaboration with the successor of Peter. In effect, dear alumni, the more you seek the face of Christ the better you will be able to serve the Church and people -- Christians and non-Christians -- whom you will meet along the way as pontifical representatives throughout the world.

When, like today, I have the happy opportunity to meet you, I think of your future service to the Church. I think also of your bishops, who have sent you to the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy to help the Pope in his universal mission for the particular Churches and for the various civil jurisdictions with whom the Holy See has a relationship. The service for which you are destined and for which you prepare here in Rome, is the service of qualified witness to the Churches and the authorities of the countries to which, if it pleases God, you will be sent.

The witness to the Gospel is asked to be faithful in every circumstance to the mission with which he has been entrusted. For you this means, in the first place, a personal and profound experience of the incarnate God, an intimate friendship with Jesus, in whose name the Church sends you for a singular apostolic task. You know that the Christian faith can never be reduced to a mere intellectual knowledge of Christ and his doctrine; it must always express itself in the imitation of the examples that Christ gave us as Son of the Father and Son of man. In particular, he who collaborates with the Successor of Peter, Supreme Shepherd of the Catholic Church, is called to do his best to be a true shepherd, ready, as Jesus the Good Shepherd, to give his life for his flock.

I was very grateful therefore for the aspiration that animates you and that you have expressed through your president, that is, to be fundamentally shepherds; always shepherds alongside the other shepherds of the Church, before also being -- along with the pontifical representatives with whom you will work -- promoters and weavers of fruitful relationships with civil authorities, as the particular Catholic tradition wishes. Cultivate this, your ardent desire, so that those who draw near to you will always be able to discover the priest that is in you. In this way, all will clearly see the atypical character of pontifical diplomacy, a diplomacy that, as the numerous accredited diplomatic missions to the Apostolic See can testify, far from defending material interests or partial visions of man, promotes the values that flow from the Gospel, as the expression of the high ideals proclaimed by Jesus, sole and universal Savior. These values, after all, are in no small part a patrimony also shared by other religions and other cultures.
Dear friends, even when you leave the academy -- more than a dozen of you are preparing to do so in the following weeks -- continue to cultivate an intimate and personal friendship with Jesus, seeking more and more to know and assimilate the thoughts and sentiments that were his (Philippians 2:5). The more deeply you know him, the more strongly will you be united to him and the more faithful you will be to your priestly commitments, all the more and better will you be able to serve people, the more fruitful will be your dialogue with them, the more accessible will appear the peace that you will propose in situations of tension and conflict, the more consoling will be the comfort that, in the name of Christ and his Church, you offer to those persons who undergo trial and are without defense. In this way the convergence between your mission and the evangelization proposed by those with pastoral responsibilities will appear with greater clarity to the eyes of the world.

Dear brothers, as I entrust these brief reflections to your attention, I am happy to renew my wish of every good to you and your families. With my whole heart I assure you a remembrance in my prayer and, invoking the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, with pleasure I bless you, those who have care of your formation, and all your loved ones.

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Papal Message to Social Sciences Academy

"There Will Always Be a Place for Charity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, on the occasion of the plenary session of the academy held April 27-May 1. The theme of the meeting was "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among Peoples and Nations."

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To Her Excellency
Professor Mary Ann Glendon
President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

As the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences gathers for its thirteenth Plenary Session, I am pleased to greet you and your distinguished confreres and to convey my prayerful good wishes for your deliberations.

The Academy's meeting this year is devoted to an examination of the theme: "Charity and Justice in the Relations among Peoples and Nations." The Church cannot fail to be interested in this subject, inasmuch as the pursuit of justice and the promotion of the civilization of love are essential aspects of her mission of proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Certainly the building of a just society is the primary responsibility of the political order, both in individual States and in the international community. As such, it demands, at every level, a disciplined exercise of practical reason and a training of the will in order to discern and achieve the specific requirements of justice in full respect for the common good and the inalienable dignity of each individual. In my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, I wished to reaffirm, at the beginning of my Pontificate, the Church's desire to contribute to this necessary purification of reason, to help form consciences and to stimulate a greater response to the genuine requirements of justice. At the same time, I wished to emphasize that, even in the most just society, there will always be a place for charity: "there is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love" (No. 28).

The Church's conviction of the inseparability of justice and charity is ultimately born of her experience of the revelation of God's infinite justice and mercy in Jesus Christ, and it finds expression in her insistence that man himself and his irreducible dignity must be at the centre of political and social life. Her teaching, which is addressed not only to believers but to all people of good will, thus appeals to right reason and a sound understanding of human nature in proposing principles capable of guiding individuals and communities in the pursuit of a social order marked by justice, freedom, fraternal solidarity and peace. At the heart of that teaching, as you well know, is the principle of the universal destination of all the goods of creation. According to this fundamental principle, everything that the earth produces and all that man transforms and manufactures, all his knowledge and technology, is meant to serve the material and spiritual development and fulfilment of the human family and all its members.

From this integrally human perspective we can understand more fully the essential role which charity plays in the pursuit of justice. My predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was convinced that justice alone is insufficient to establish truly humane and fraternal relations within society. "In every sphere of interpersonal relationships," he maintained, "justice must, so to speak, be 'corrected' to a considerable extent by that love which, as Saint Paul proclaims, 'is patient and kind' or, in other words, possesses the characteristics of that merciful love which is so much of the essence of the Gospel and Christianity" (Dives in Misericordia, 14). Charity, in a word, not only enables justice to become more inventive and to meet new challenges; it also inspires and purifies humanity's efforts to achieve authentic justice and thus the building of a society worthy of man.

At a time when "concern for our neighbour transcends the confines of national communities and has increasingly broadened its horizon to the whole world" (Deus Caritas Est, 30), the intrinsic relationship between charity and justice needs to be more clearly understood and emphasized. In expressing my confidence that your discussions in these days will prove fruitful in this regard, I would like briefly to direct your attention to three specific challenges facing our world, challenges which I believe can only be met through a firm commitment to that greater justice which is inspired by charity.

The first concerns the environment and sustainable development. The international community recognizes that the world's resources are limited and that it is the duty of all peoples to implement policies to protect the environment in order to prevent the destruction of that natural capital whose fruits are necessary for the well-being of humanity. To meet this challenge, what is required is an interdisciplinary approach such as you have employed. Also needed is a capacity to assess and forecast, to monitor the dynamics of environmental change and sustainable growth, and to draw up and apply solutions at an international level. Particular attention must be paid to the fact that the poorest countries are likely to pay the heaviest price for ecological deterioration. In my Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace, I pointed out that "the destruction of the environment, its improper or selfish use, and the violent hoarding of the earth's resources … are the consequences of an inhumane concept of development. Indeed, if development were limited to the technical-economic aspect, obscuring the moral-religious dimension, it would not be an integral human development, but a one-sided distortion which would end up by unleashing man's destructive capacities" (No. 9). In meeting the challenges of environmental protection and sustainable development, we are called to promote and "safeguard the moral conditions for an authentic 'human ecology'" (Centesimus Annus, 38). This in turn calls for a responsible relationship not only with creation but also with our neighbours, near and far, in space and time, and with the Creator.

This brings us to a second challenge which involves our conception of the human person and consequently our relationships with one other. If human beings are not seen as persons, male and female, created in God's image (cf. Gen 1:26) and endowed with an inviolable dignity, it will be very difficult to achieve full justice in the world. Despite the recognition of the rights of the person in international declarations and legal instruments, much progress needs to be made in bringing this recognition to bear upon such global problems as the growing gap between rich and poor countries; the unequal distribution and allocation of natural resources and of the wealth produced by human activity; the tragedy of hunger, thirst and poverty on a planet where there is an abundance of food, water and prosperity; the human suffering of refugees and displaced people; the continuing hostilities in many parts of the world; the lack of sufficient legal protection for the unborn; the exploitation of children; the international traffic in human beings, arms and drugs; and numerous other grave injustices.

A third challenge relates to the values of the spirit. Pressed by economic worries, we tend to forget that, unlike material goods, those spiritual goods which are properly human expand and multiply when communicated: unlike divisible goods, spiritual goods such as knowledge and education are indivisible, and the more one shares them, the more they are possessed. Globalization has increased the interdependence of peoples, with their different traditions, religions and systems of education. This means that the peoples of the world, for all their differences, are constantly learning about one another and coming into much greater contact. All the more important, then, is the need for a dialogue which can help people to understand their own traditions vis-à-vis those of others, to develop greater self-awareness in the face of challenges to their identity, and thus to promote understanding and the acknowledgement of true human values within an intercultural perspective. To meet these challenges, a just equality of opportunity, especially in the field of education and the transmission of knowledge, is urgently needed. Regrettably, education, especially at the primary level, remains dramatically insufficient in many parts of the world.

To meet these challenges, only love for neighbour can inspire within us justice at the service of life and the promotion of human dignity. Only love within the family, founded on a man and a woman, who are created in the image of God, can assure that inter-generational solidarity which transmits love and justice to future generations. Only charity can encourage us to place the human person once more at the centre of life in society and at the centre of a globalized world governed by justice.

With these considerations, dear Members of the Academy, I encourage you as you carry forward your important work. Upon you and your loved ones I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.

From the Vatican, 28 April 2007

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Mary Ann Glendon's Concluding Speech

"Benedict XVI Highlighted 3 Challenges"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, gave today on concluding the plenary session of the academy held April 27-May 1. The theme of the meeting was "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among Peoples and Nations."

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At the conclusion of our XIII Plenary Session, I am pleased to share with you some of what we in the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences have learned over the past four days of intense meetings. In the name of the academy and its chancellor, His Excellency Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, I thank you journalists for your interest in our work this past week since we last met.

I am joined here today by Professor Juan Llach of Argentina, the principal organizer of our plenary session this year. After my introductory remarks, Professor Llach will speak to you about some of what we heard and discussed in our meetings. I will limit myself to comments of a more general character.

Our meeting this year on the theme of "Charity and Justice in the Relations Among People and Nations" is part of a broader project of the academy on questions arising from globalization. Over several years, these meetings have provided academy members with much data and creative thinking. While we are not in a position today to speak about any final conclusions, I hope to give you a sense of what we have been doing this week. In the coming months, academy members will further discuss what we have heard here, and be in a position to arrive at some conclusions for a final report. We cannot present to you today, therefore, final conclusions of the academy.

As I mentioned at the outset of our meeting, we had a record number of invited guests this year to share with us their understanding of issues related to charity and justice among nations. I would just give a few examples of what we heard.

Professor Luis Ernesto Derbez Bautista, former foreign minister of Mexico, spoke about the vulnerability of poorer countries to sudden swings in world capital markets, and the need to mitigate the damage from such exposure. Doctor Jacques Diouf, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, spoke to us about the very practical issue of access to safe water. Doctor José Miguel Insulza, secretary general of the Organization of American States, addressed us the strengths and weaknesses of international law in building peaceful relations between states. Doctor Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state of the United States, spoke about how globalization is weakening the power of nation-states, precisely as their own citizens expect them to do more to mitigate the effects of that same globalization.

The meetings of the academy are also a privileged place for the Church to listen to and converse with the world of scholarship. We were honored with a substantial address from His Eminence, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of state, who spoke about the weaknesses of multilateral institutions.

He clarified for us that the Holy See strongly supports international institutions, but does not subscribe to an uncritical internationalism, any more that the Holy See subscribes to an uncritical nationalism in defending the rights of nations.

We also had the participation of several other curial cardinals, as well as His Eminence Cardinal Pierre Sfeir Nasrallah, patriarch of the Maronites, and His Beatitude Monsignor Antonios Naguib, patriarch of Alexandria. The latter two spoke with great passion and emotion about the challenges and crises of interreligious dialogue as a critical part of peace between nations. As one of our invited guests, Rabbi David Rosen, said: "Without peace between religions, there cannot be peace between nations."

In his message to us for our plenary session, the Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI highlighted three challenges: i) the environment and sustainable development, ii) respect for the rights and dignity of persons, and iii) the danger of losing spiritual values in a technical world.

The Holy Father also wrote in general about the work of the social sciences in the relations between nations. He reminded us that the "building of a just society is the primary responsibility of the political order," and therefore the questions before us are those largely of "practical reason and a training of the will in order to discern and achieve the specific requirements of justice."

To this work of practical reason, the Church offers a "purification of reason," permitting the light of the Gospel to illuminate the social order. In other words, relations between states cannot remain only a matter of technical skill; they must be animated by ethical concerns.

The work of the social sciences lies between the principles and practice. We heard some practical ideas about how the priority of ethical concerns might be concretely achieved, as you will hear presently from Professor Llach.

A final note about the question of subsidiarity. As I noted last week, that was one aspect of international relations which we were asked to think about.

In Catholic social thinking, the concept of subsidiarity allows space for individuals, families and communities to practice the virtues of charity and justice without being usurped by an all-powerful state. At the level of nations, is there room to allow for charity and justice to be exercised as virtues?

The nation-state, for all of its weaknesses, allows great numbers of peoples to live together in peace and freedom, with space allowed for the exercise of virtues which promote the common good. Can we say that international institutions do the same?

There can be no doubt that the Catholic Church, in its teachings on the unity of the human race and the universal destination of material goods, stands on the side of institutions which promote peace and harmony between nations. But the challenge is for those institutions to allow ample space for the virtues of charity and justice as well. The work of our Academy in the months ahead is to look at concrete proposals in that regard.

Professor Llach will now share with you some of the proposals that we heard.

Thank you again for your interest in our work.

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Papal Address on the Internal Forum
"The Priest Is the Instrument of This Merciful Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 3, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 16 address to participants in a course on the internal forum.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE COURSE ON THE INTERNAL FORUM PROMOTED BY THE APOSTOLIC PENITENTIARY

Clementine Hall
Friday, 16 March 2007

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the priesthood,

I welcome you today and address my cordial greeting to each one of you, participants in the Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

In the first place I greet Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary, who I thank for the kind words he addressed to me, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Penitentiary, and all those present.

Today's meeting also offers me the opportunity to reflect together with you on the importance in our day of the Sacrament of Penance and to repeat the necessity for priests to prepare themselves to administer it with devotion and fidelity to the praise of God and for the sanctification of the Christian people, as they promise to their Bishop on the day of their priestly ordination.

In fact, it is one of the qualifying duties of the special ministry that they are called to exercise "in persona Christi". With the gestures and sacramental words the priest above all makes God's love visible, which was revealed fully in Christ.

In the administration of the Sacrament of Pardon and of Reconciliation, the priest -- as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls -- acts as "the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner" (n. 1465). What takes place in this Sacrament, therefore, is especially a mystery of love, a work of the merciful love of the Lord.

"God is love" (I Jn 4:16): in this simple affirmation the Evangelist John has enclosed the revelation of the entire mystery of the Triune God. And in meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus, foretelling his passion and death on the Cross, affirms: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).

We all need to draw from the inexhaustible fountain of divine love, which is totally manifested to us in the mystery of the Cross, in order to find authentic peace with God, with ourselves and with our neighbour. Only from this spiritual source is it possible to draw the indispensable interior energy to overcome the evil and sin in the ceaseless battle that marks our earthly pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland.

The contemporary world continues to present contradictions so clearly outlined by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nn. 4-10): we see a humanity that would like to be self-sufficient, where more than a few consider it almost possible to do without God in order to live well; and yet how many seem sadly condemned to face the dramatic situations of an empty existence, how much violence there still is on the earth, how much solitude weighs on the soul of the humanity of the communications era!

In a word, it seems that today there is even loss of the "sense of sin", but in compensation the "guilt complex" has increased.

Who can free the heart of humankind from this yoke of death if not the One who by dying overcame for ever the power of evil with the omnipotence of divine love?

As St Paul reminded the Christians of Ephesus: "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:4).

The priest in the Sacrament of Confession is the instrument of this merciful love of God, whom he invokes in the formula of the absolution of sins: "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and Resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace".

The New Testament speaks on every page of God's love and mercy, which are made visible in Christ. Jesus, in fact, who "receives sinners and eats with them" (Lk 15:2), and with authority affirms: "Man, your sins are forgiven you" (Lk 5:20), says: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Lk 5:31-32).

The duty of the priest and the confessor is primarily this: to bring every person to experience the love of Christ, encountering him on the path of their own lives as Paul met him on the road to Damascus. We know the impassioned declaration of the Apostle to the Gentiles after that meeting which changed his life: "[he] loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

This is his personal experience on the way to Damascus: the Lord Jesus loved Paul and gave himself for him. And in Confession this is also our way, our way to Damascus, our experience: Jesus has loved me and has given himself for me.

May every person have this same spiritual experience and, as the Servant of God John Paul II said, rediscover "Christ as mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance" (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 37).

The priest, minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, must always consider it his duty to make transpire, in words and in drawing near to the penitent, the merciful love of God. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, to welcome the penitent sinner, to help him rise again from sin, to encourage him to amend himself, never making pacts with evil but always taking up again the way of evangelical perfection. May this beautiful experience of the prodigal son, who finds the fullness of divine mercy in the father, be the experience of whoever confesses in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Dear brothers, all this means that the priest engaged in the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance is himself motivated by a constant tending to holiness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church aims high in this demand when it affirms: "The confessor... should have a proven knowledge of Christian behaviour, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy" (n. 1466).

To be able to fulfil this important mission, always interiorly united to the Lord, the priest must be faithful to the Church's Magisterium concerning moral doctrine, aware that the law of good and evil is not determined by the situation, but by God.

I ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, to sustain the ministry of priest confessors and to help every Christian community to understand ever more the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance for the spiritual growth of every one of the faithful. To you present here and to the people dear to you, I impart my Blessing with affection.

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Papal Address to Officials of Academy for Life
"Formation of a True Conscience Is Indispensable"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 12, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the Feb. 24 address Benedict XVI delivered to those participating in the general assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE PONTIFICAL ACADEMY FOR LIFE

Clementine Hall
Saturday, 24 February 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

It is a true joy for me to receive the Members of the Pontifical Academy for Life in this Audience, held on the occasion of the 13th General Assembly, and those who are participating at this Congress on the theme: " The Christian conscience in support of the right to life".

I greet Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán, the Archbishops and Bishops present, brother priests, the Congress speakers and all of you, gathered from various countries. I greet in particular, Archbishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, whom I thank for the kind words addressed to me and for the work he does together with the Vice-President, the Chancellor and the Board of Directors who carry out the delicate and vast tasks of the Pontifical Academy.

The theme to which you have called the participants' attention, and therefore also that of the Ecclesial Community and of public opinion, is very significant: the Christian conscience, in fact, has an internal need to nourish and strengthen itself with the multiple and profound motivations that work in favour of the right to life.

It is a right that must be sustained by all, because it is the first fundamental right of all human rights. The Encyclical Evangelium Vitae strongly affirms this: "Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Rom 2:14-15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded" (n. 2).

The same Encyclical recalls that "believers in Christ must defend and promote this right, aware as they are of the wonderful truth recalled by the Second Vatican Council: "By his Incarnation the Son of God has united himself in some fashion with every human being' (Gaudium et Spes, n. 22). This saving event reveals to humanity not only the boundless love of God who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son' (Jn 3:16), but also the incomparable value of every human person" (ibid.).

Therefore, the Christian is continually called to be ever alert in order to face the multiple attacks to which the right to life is exposed. In this he knows that he can count on motives that are deeply rooted in the natural law and that can therefore be shared by every person of upright conscience.

In this perspective, above all after the publication of the Encyclical Evangelium Vitae, much has been done to make the subject matter of these motivations better known in the Christian community and in civil society, but it must be admitted that the attacks on the right to life throughout the world have broadened and multiplied, also assuming new forms.

The pressures to legalize abortion are increasing in Latin American countries and in developing countries, also with recourse to the liberalization of new forms of chemical abortion under the pretext of safeguarding reproductive health: policies for demographic control are on the rise, notwithstanding that they are already recognized as dangerous also on the economic and social plane.

At the same time, the interest in more refined biotechnological research is growing in the more developed countries in order to establish subtle and extensive eugenic methods, even to obsessive research for the "perfect child", with the spread of artificial procreation and various forms of diagnosis tending to ensure good selection.

A new wave of discriminatory eugenics finds consensus in the name of the presumed well-being of the individual, and laws are promoted especially in the economically progressive world for the legalization of euthanasia.

All of this comes about while, on another front, efforts are multiplying to legalize cohabitation as an alternative to matrimony and closed to natural procreation.

In these situations the conscience, sometimes overwhelmed by the powerful collective media, is insufficiently vigilant concerning the gravity of the problems at play, and the power of the strongest weakens and seems to paralyze even people of good will.

For this reason it is necessary to appeal to the conscience, and in particular, to the Christian conscience. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us, "Conscience is a judgment of reason whereby the human person recognizes the moral quality of a concrete act that he is going to perform, is in the process of performing or has already completed. In all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right" (n. 1778).

From this definition it emerges that the moral conscience, to be able to judge human conduct rightly, above all must be based on the solid foundation of truth, that is, it must be enlightened to know the true value of actions and the solid criteria for evaluation. Therefore, it must be able to distinguish good from evil, even where the social environment, pluralistic culture and superimposed interests do not help it do so.

The formation of a true conscience, because it is founded on the truth, and upright, because it is determined to follow its dictates without contradictions, without betrayal and without compromises, is a difficult and delicate undertaking today, but indispensable.

Unfortunately, many factors hinder this undertaking. In the first place, in the current phase of secularization, called post-modern and marked by disputable forms of tolerance, not only is the rejection of Christian tradition growing, but distrust for the capacity of reason to perceive the truth also distances us from the taste for reflection.

According to some, for individual conscience to be unbiased it must free itself both from references to tradition and those based on human reason.

Hence, the conscience, which as an act of reason aims at the truth of things, ceases to be light and becomes a simple screen upon which the society of the media projects the most contradictory images and impulses.

One must be re-educated to the desire to know authentic truth, to defend one's own freedom of choice in regard to mass behaviour and the lures of propaganda, to nourish passion for moral beauty and a clear conscience. This is the delicate duty of parents and educators who assist them; and it is the duty of the Christian community with regard to its faithful.

Concerning the Christian conscience, its growth and nourishment, one cannot be content with fleeting contact with the principal truths of faith in infancy, but a programme of accompaniment is necessary along the various stages of life, opening the mind and the heart to welcome the fundamental duties upon which the existence of the individual and the community rest.

Only in this way will it be possible to prepare youth to comprehend the values of life, love, marriage and the family. Only in this way can they be brought to appreciate the beauty and the sanctity of the love, joy and responsibility of being parents and collaborators of God in giving life.

In the absence of a continuous and qualified formation, the capacity for judgment of the problems posed by biomedicine in the areas of sexuality, new-born life, procreation, and also in the way to treat and care for patients and the weaker sectors of society, becomes even more problematic.

It is certainly necessary to speak about the moral criteria that regard these themes with professionals, doctors and lawyers, to engage them to elaborate a competent judgment of conscience, and if need be, also a courageous objection of conscience, but an equal need rises from the basic level for families and parish communities in the process of the formation of youth and adults.

Under this aspect, next to Christian formation, whose aim is the knowledge of the Person of Christ, of his Word and Sacraments in the itinerary of faith of children and adolescents, one must consistently fuse the discourse on moral values that regard the body, sexuality, human love, procreation, respect for life at every moment, at the same time with valid and precise motives, reporting behaviour contrary to these primary values.

In this specific field the work of priests must be opportunely flanked by the commitment of lay educators, also specialists, dedicated to the duty to guide the ecclesial reality with their knowledge enlightened by faith.

Therefore, I ask the Lord to send among you, dear brothers and sisters, and among those dedicated to science, medicine, law and politics, witnesses endowed with true and upright consciences in order to defend and promote the "splendour of the truth" and to sustain the gift and mystery of life.

I trust in your help dearest professionals, philosophers, theologians, scientists and doctors. In a society at times chaotic and violent, with your cultural qualifications, by teaching and by example, you can contribute to awakening in many hearts the eloquent and clear voice of conscience.

The Second Vatican Council teaches us that "man has in his heart a law inscribed by God. His dignity lies in observing this law, and by it he will be judged" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 16). The Council has offered wise directives so that "the faithful should learn to distinguish carefully between the rights and the duties which they have as belonging to the Church and those which fall to them as members of the human society", and "they will strive to unite the two harmoniously, remembering that in every temporal affair they are to be guided by a Christian conscience, since not even in temporal business may any human activity be withdrawn from God's dominion" (Lumen Gentium, n. 36).

For this very reason the Council exhorts lay believers to welcome "what is decided by the Pastors as teachers and rulers of the Church", and then recommends that "Pastors... should recognize and promote the dignity and responsibility of the laity in the Church. They should willingly use their prudent advice" and concludes that "[m]any benefits for the Church are to be expected from this familiar relationship between the laity and the Pastors" (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 37).

When the value of human life is at stake, this harmony between the magisterial function and the committed laity becomes singularly important: life is the first good received from God and is fundamental to all others; to guarantee the right to life for all and in an equal manner for all is the duty upon which the future of humanity depends. The importance of your study meeting emerges also from this perspective.

I entrust the work and the results to the intercession of the Virgin Mary, whom the Christian tradition hails as the true "Mother of all the living". May she assist and guide you! To seal this wish I willingly impart to all of you, to your families and collaborators, the Apostolic Blessing.

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Papal Address to Confessors
"The Conscious Means of a Wonderful Event of Grace"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the Feb 19. message Benedict XVI addressed to the confessors of the four papal basilicas in Rome.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE CONFESSORS
WHO SERVE IN THE FOUR PAPAL BASILICAS OF ROME

Clementine Hall
Monday, 19 February 2007

Dear Brothers,

I am happy to welcome you and I greet you with affection, beginning with Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary, whom I thank for the kind words he addressed to me a few minutes ago. With him I greet the Regent, Mons. Gianfranco Girotti, and the members of the Apostolic Penitentiary.

This meeting offers me the opportunity to express my lively satisfaction above all to you, dear Father Confessors of the Papal Basilicas of the City, for the precious pastoral ministry that you carry out with diligent dedication.

At the same time I wish to extend a cordial thought to all the priests of the world who dedicate themselves with commitment to the ministry of the confessional.

The Sacrament of Penance, which has such importance in the Christian life, renders present the redemptive efficacy of Christ's Paschal Mystery. In imparting absolution, pronounced in the name and on behalf of the Church, the confessor becomes the conscious means of a wonderful event of grace.

With docile compliance to the Magisterium of the Church, he makes himself minister of the consoling mercy of God, he draws attention to the reality of sin, and at the same time he manifests the boundless renewing power of divine love, love that gives back life.

Therefore, confession becomes a spiritual rebirth that transforms the penitent into a new creature. Only God's grace can work this miracle, and it is accomplished through the words and gestures of the priest.

By experiencing the tenderness and pardon of the Lord, the penitent is more easily led to acknowledge the gravity of sin, is more resolved to avoid it in order to remain and grow in renewed friendship with him.

In this mysterious process of interior renewal the confessor is not a passive spectator, but persona dramatis, that is, an active instrument of divine mercy. Therefore, it is necessary that to a good spiritual and pastoral sensibility he unites a serious theological, moral and pedagogical preparation that enables him to understand the life of the person.

Furthermore, it is very useful for him to know the social, cultural and professional environment of those who approach the confessional in order to be able to offer appropriate advice and spiritual practices and orientations.

May the priest not forget that in this Sacrament he is called to take on the role of father, spiritual guide, teacher and educator. This demands constant updating: this is also the aim of the so-called "internal forum" promoted by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

Dear priests, your ministry bears above all a spiritual character. To human wisdom, to theological preparation, therefore, one must add a profound spiritual disposition, nourished by prayerful contact with Christ, Master and Redeemer.

In virtue of presbyteral ordination, in fact, the confessor carries out a particular service "in persona Christi", with a fullness of human gifts that are strengthened by grace.

His model is Jesus, the One sent by the Father: the source from which to draw abundantly is the vivifying breath of the Holy Spirit. Before such a lofty responsibility human strength is surely inadequate, but the humble and faithful adherence to the salvific design of Christ renders us, dear brothers, witnesses of the universal Redemption worked by him, putting into effect the admonition of St Paul who says: "God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself... and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation" (II Cor 5:19).

To fulfil such a duty we must, above all, root this message of salvation in ourselves and let it transform us deeply. We cannot preach pardon and reconciliation to others if we are not personally penetrated by it. As it is true that in our ministry there are various ways and instruments to communicate the merciful love of God to our brethren, it is, however, in the celebration of this Sacrament that we can do it in the most complete and eminent way.

Christ has chosen us, dear priests, to be the only ones to be able to pardon sins in his Name: it concerns, then, a specific ecclesial service to which we must give priority.

How many people in difficulty seek the comfort and consolation of Christ! How many penitents find in confession the peace and joy that they sought for so long! How can one not recognize also in our age, marked by so many religious and social challenges, that this Sacrament also be rediscovered and proposed anew?

Dear brothers, let us follow the example of the saints, in particular those who, like you, were almost exclusively dedicated to the ministry of the confessional. Among them are St Jean-Marie Vianney, St Leopold Mandic, and closer to us, St Pio of Pietrelcina.

May they help you from heaven to be able to abundantly dispense the mercy and pardon of Christ. May Mary, Refuge of Sinners, obtain for you the strength, encouragement and hope to generously continue your indispensable mission.

I assure you of my heartfelt prayer, while with affection I bless you all.

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Pope's Address to His Aides in Latin America
"The Spiritual Potential Is Truly Enormous"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 17 to the papal representatives in Latin American countries.

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ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PAPAL REPRESENTATIVES IN LATIN AMERICAN COUNTRIES IN PREPARATION FOR THE FIFTH GENERAL CONFERENCE OF THE LATIN AMERICAN EPISCOPAL COUNCIL (CELAM)

Consistory Hall
Saturday, 17 February 2007

Venerable Brothers,

I am very pleased to welcome you at the end of your meeting in preparation for the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopal Council [CELAM]. I offer a cordial greeting to each one of you, starting with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, whom I thank for his words expressing your common sentiments.

I thank the Cardinal Presidents of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Episcopate and the Heads of the Dicasteries of the Roman Curia who have contributed to your work.

In particular, I take this opportunity to express once again to you, the Apostolic Nuncios present and all Papal Representatives, my appreciation of the important ecclesial service that you carry out, often among numerous difficulties due to the distance from your homeland, your frequent travels and also at times the social and political tensions in the places where you work. In carrying out your sensitive task, which is of course motivated by a deep spirit of faith, may each one of you feel accompanied by the esteem, affection and prayers of the Pope.

Every Apostolic Nuncio is called to consolidate the bonds of communion between the particular Churches and the Successor of Peter. Together with the Pastors and the entire People of God, he is entrusted with responsibility for promoting dialogue and collaboration with civil society in order to achieve the common good.

Papal Representatives are the presence of the Pope, who through them makes himself close to all those he is unable to meet personally and especially to those who live in conditions of hardship and suffering. Your ministry, dear Brothers, is a ministry of ecclesial communion and a service to peace and harmony in the Church and among peoples. Always be aware of the importance, grandeur and beauty of this mission of yours and strive tirelessly to carry it out with generous dedication.

Divine Providence has called you who are present here to carry out your service in Latin America, described by our beloved John Paul II -- who visited it several times -- as the "Continent of hope", as has already been said.

Please God, I will have the joy of coming into contact personally with the situation in those countries when I speak, God willing, at the opening of the Fifth General Conference of the Latin American Bishops in Aparecida, Brazil, in the coming month of May.

In a certain sense, this Assembly sums up and is a continuation of the previous General Conferences, while it is enriched by the many "post-conciliar" gifts of the Papal Magisterium -- in particular the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in America springs to mind -- as well as the other fruit of the Catholic Church's synodal process.

The Assembly proposes to define the important priorities and to give a new impetus to the Church's mission at the service of the Latin American peoples in the concrete circumstances at the beginning of the 21st century.

This recapitulation refers to the Catholic tradition which, thanks to an extraordinary missionary epic, took shape and impressed its hallmark upon the cultural structure that has so far been a feature of the Latin American identity. This was the original vocation -- as my late Predecessor John Paul II said at Santo Domingo -- of "peoples whom the same geography, Christian faith, language and culture have joined together definitively in the course of history" (Address at CELAM's Fourth General Conference, 12 October 1992, n. 15; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 October, p. 8).

Starting with the theme of this important meeting: "Disciples and missionaries of Jesus Christ so that our people may have life in him", you too have had the opportunity in these days to highlight certain challenges which the Church encounters in the vast area of Latin America, inserted into world dynamics and conditioned increasingly by the effects of globalization.

In the face of these challenges, the nations that make up Latin America seek in different ways to affirm their identity and their weight in the historical process of the contemporary world; they seek, all too often among numerous difficulties, to consolidate domestic peace within their own nation. Feeling like "sisters", they also aim to become a community united in peace and in cultural and economic development.

The Church, a sign and instrument of unity for the entire human race (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 1), naturally finds herself in tune with every legitimate aspiration of the peoples for greater harmony and cooperation, and makes her own contribution: that of the Gospel.

She hopes that in Latin American nations where constitutional Charters are limited to "granting" freedom of belief and worship but do not yet "recognize" religious freedom, reciprocal relations based on principles of autonomy and a healthy and respectful collaboration can be worked out as soon as possible.

This will enable Ecclesial Communities to develop their full potential for the benefit of society and of every individual human person, created in the image of God. A correct juridical formulation of these relations cannot but take into account the historical, spiritual, cultural and social role played by the Catholic Church in Latin America.

This role continues to be paramount, partly thanks to the fortunate blending of the old and rich sensitivity of the indigenous peoples with Christianity and the modern culture. Some sectors, as we know, point to the contrast between the wealth and depth of the pre-Colombian cultures and the Christian faith that is presented as imposed externally from outside or as alienating for the peoples of Latin America.

In fact, the encounter between these cultures and faith in Christ was a response inwardly expected by these cultures. This encounter, therefore, is not to be denied but deepened, and has created the true identity of the peoples of Latin America. Indeed, the Catholic Church is the institution which is the most respected by the Latin American population.

She is active in the life of the people, esteemed for the work she carries out in the sectors of education, health care and solidarity to the needy. Help for the poor and the fight against poverty are and remain a fundamental priority in the life of the Churches in Latin America. The Church also actively intervenes with her mediation, often requested on the occasion of internal conflicts.

Today, however, among other things, this consolidated presence must deal with the proselytism of sects and the growing influence of post-modern hedonistic secularism. If we are to find the right answers, we must think seriously about what makes the sects attractive. In the face of the challenges of this time in history, our communities are called to strengthen their adherence to Christ in order to witness to a mature and joyful faith, and -- despite all the problems -- the potential is truly enormous.

And the spiritual potential that Latin America has to draw on is truly enormous, where the mysteries of the faith are celebrated with fervent devotion and confidence in the future is nourished by the increase in the number of vocations to the priestly and Religious life.

It is of course necessary to accompany the young on the path of their vocation with great care, and to help priests and men and women religious to persevere in their vocation. Furthermore, an immense missionary and evangelizing potential is offered by the young who account for more than two thirds of the population, whereas family "feeling [is] a primordial trait of your Latin American culture", as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II said at the meeting in Puebla, Mexico, in January 1979 (Homily, Palafoxiano Seminary, Puebla, 28 January 1979; Puebla and Beyond, Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1979, p. 78).

The family institution deserves priority attention; it is showing signs of breaking up under the pressure of lobbies that can have a negative effect on legislative processes. Divorce and de facto unions are on the rise, while adultery is viewed with unjustifiable tolerance.

It is necessary to reassert that marriage and the family are based on the deepest nucleus of the truth about man and his destiny; only on the rock of faithful and permanent conjugal love between a man and woman is it possible to build a community worthy of the human being.

I would like to highlight other religious and social topics on which you have been able to reflect.

I shall limit myself to mentioning the phenomenon of migration, closely linked to the family; the importance of school education and attention to values and to the conscience, to train mature lay people who can make a high-quality contribution to social and civil life; the education of the young with an appropriate vocation policy to accompany in particular seminarians and aspirants to the consecrated life in their formation process; the commitment to informing public opinion properly about the great ethical issues in accordance with the principles of the Church's Magisterium and an effective presence in the area of the media, also in order to respond to the challenge of the sects.

Ecclesial movements certainly constitute a valid resource for the apostolate, but they should be helped to stay in line with the Gospel and the Church's teaching, also when they work in the social and political realms. In particular, I feel it is my duty to reassert that it is not the task of ecclesiastics to head social or political groups, but of mature lay people with a professional training.

Dear Brothers, in these days you have reflected and discussed together. Above all you have prayed together. Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of Mary, to grant that the fruits of this meeting and of the upcoming General Conference of the Latin American Bishops benefit the entire Church.

I thank you again for your work. On returning to your countries, please convey my cordial sentiments to the Pastors and the Christian Communities, the Governments and the peoples. Please assure your collaborators, the women religious and all who cooperate in the smooth functioning of the offices at your Nunciatures of the Pope's spiritual closeness. I cordially impart to one and all a special Apostolic Blessing.

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Papal Address to Roman Rota
Marriage: "A Bond Which Is Unique and Definitive"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to the members of the Roman Rota, the Church's central appellate court, delivered Tuesday in the Clementine Hall.

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Dear Prelate Auditors,

Officials and Collaborators of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota, I am particularly pleased to meet you once again on the occasion of the inauguration of the judicial year.

I cordially greet the College of Prelate Auditors, starting with the Dean, Bishop Antoni Stankiewicz, whom I thank for his words introducing our meeting. I then greet the Officials, the Advocates and the other Collaborators of this Tribunal, as well as the Members of the Studio Rotale and all those present. I willingly take this opportunity to renew to you the expression of my esteem and, at the same time, to reaffirm the importance of your ecclesial ministry in as vital a sector as judicial activity. I am very mindful of the valuable work you are required to carry out diligently and scrupulously on behalf of this Apostolic See and with its mandate. Your sensitive task of service to the truth in justice is supported by the illustrious traditions of this Tribunal, which each one of you must feel bound to respect.

Last year, at my first meeting with you, I sought to explore ways to overcome the apparent antithesis between the institution of causes of the nullity of marriage and genuine pastoral concern. In this perspective, the love of truth emerges as a point of convergence between processual research and the pastoral service of the person. We must not forget, however, that in causes of the nullity of marriage, the legal truth presupposes the "truth of the marriage" itself. Yet the expression "truth of the marriage" loses its existential importance in a cultural context that is marked by relativism and juridical positivism, which regard marriage as a mere social formalization of emotional ties.

Consequently, not only is it becoming incidental, as human sentiments can be, but it is also presented as a legal superstructure of the human will that can be arbitrarily manipulated and even deprived of its heterosexual character.

This crisis of the meaning of marriage is also influencing the attitude of many of the faithful. The practical effects of what I have called "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture" with regard to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council, (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 4 January 2006, p. 4), is felt especially acutely in the sphere of marriage and the family.

Indeed, it seems to some that the conciliar teaching on marriage, and in particular, the description of this institution as "intima communitas vitae et amoris" [the intimate partnership of life and love] (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, "Gaudium et Spes," n. 48), must lead to a denial of the existence of an indissoluble conjugal bond because this would be a question of an "ideal" to which "normal Christians" cannot be "constrained".

In fact, the conviction that the pastoral good of the person in an irregular marital situation requires a sort of canonical regularization, independently of the validity or nullity of his/her marriage, independently, that is, of the "truth" of his/her personal status, has also spread in certain ecclesiastical milieus. The process of the declaration of matrimonial nullity is actually considered as a legal means for achieving this objective, according to a logic in which the law becomes the formalization of subjective claims. In this regard, it should first be pointed out that the Council certainly described marriage as intima communitas vitae et amoris, but this partnership is determined, in accordance with the tradition of the Church, by a whole set of principles of the divine law which establish its true and permanent anthropological meaning (cf. ibid.).

Furthermore, the Magisteriums of Paul VI and John Paul II, as well as the legislative action of both the Latin and Eastern Codes, have followed up the Council in faithful hermeneutical continuity with regard to both the doctrine and the discipline of marriage and indeed, persevered in its effort for "reform' or "renewal in continuity' (cf. Address to the Roman Curia, op. cit.). This development was based on the indisputable presupposition that marriage has a truth of its own -- that is, the human knowledge, illumined by the Word of God, of the sexually different reality of the man and of the woman with their profound needs for complementarity, definitive self-giving and exclusivity -- to whose discovery and deepening reason and faith harmoniously contribute.

The anthropological and saving truth of marriage -- also in its juridical dimension -- is already presented in Sacred Scripture. Jesus' response to those Pharisees who asked his opinion about the lawfulness of repudiation is well known: "Have you not read that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one'? So they are no longer two but one. What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder" (Mt 19: 4-6).

The citations of Genesis (1: 27; 2: 24) propose the matrimonial truth of the "principle", that truth whose fullness is found in connection with Christ's union with the Church (cf. Eph 5: 30-31) and was the object of such broad and deep reflections on the part of Pope John Paul II in his cycles of catecheses on human love in the divine design.

On the basis of this dual unity of the human couple, it is possible to work out an authentic juridical anthropology of marriage. In this sense, Jesus' conclusive words are especially enlightening: "What therefore God has joined together, let no man put asunder". Every marriage is of course the result of the free consent of the man and the woman, but in practice their freedom expresses the natural capacity inherent in their masculinity and femininity.

The union takes place by virtue of the very plan of God who created them male and female and gives them the power to unite for ever those natural and complementary dimensions of their persons.

The indissolubility of marriage does not derive from the definitive commitment of those who contract it but is intrinsic in the nature of the "powerful bond established by the Creator" (John Paul II, Catechesis, General Audience, 21 November 1979, n. 2; ORE, 26 November 1979, p, 1).

People who contract marriage must be definitively committed to it because marriage is such in the plan of creation and of redemption. And the essential juridical character of marriage is inherent precisely in this bond which represents for the man and for the woman a requirement of justice and love from which, for their good and for the good of all, they may not withdraw without contradicting what God himself has wrought within them.

It is necessary to study this aspect further, not only in consideration of your role as canon lawyers, but also because the overall understanding of the institution of marriage must also include clarity with regard to its juridical dimension. However, conceptions of the nature of this relationship can be radically divergent. For positivism, the legality of the conjugal bond would be solely the result of the application of a formally valid and effective human norm. In this way, the human reality of life and conjugal love remains extrinsic to the "juridical" institution of marriage. A hiatus is created between law and human existence which radically denies the possibility of an anthropological foundation of the law.

The traditional role of the Church is quite different in the understanding of the juridical dimension of the conjugal union following the teachings of Jesus, of the Apostles and of the Holy Fathers. St Augustine, for instance, in citing St Paul, forcefully affirms: "Cui fidei [coniugali] tantum iuris tribuit Apostolus, ut eam potestatem appellaret, dicens: Mulier non habet potestatem corporis sui, sed vir; similiter autem et vir non habet potestatem corporis sui, sed mulier (I Cor 7: 4)" ("De Bono Coniugali," 4, 4).

St Paul who so profoundly explains in his Letter to the Ephesians the "mysterion mega" of conjugal love in relation to Christ's union with the Church (5: 22-31), did not hesitate to apply to marriage the strongest legal terms to designate the juridical bond by which spouses are united in their sexual dimension. So too, for St Augustine, lawfulness is essential in each one of the three goods (proles, fides, sacramentum) that form the backbone of his doctrinal exposition on marriage.

With regard to the subjective and libertarian relativization of the sexual experience, the Church's tradition clearly affirms the natural juridical character of marriage, that is, the fact that it belongs by nature to the context of justice in interpersonal relations.

In this perspective, the law is truly interwoven with life and love as one of the intrinsic obligations of its existence. Therefore, as I wrote in my first Encyclical, "From the standpoint of creation, eros directs man towards marriage, to a bond which is unique and definitive; thus, and only thus, does it fulfil its deepest purpose" ("Deus Caritas Est," n. 11).

Thus, love and law can be united to the point of ensuring that husband and wife mutually owe to one another the love with which they spontaneously love one another: the love in them is the fruit of their free desire for the good of one another and of their children; which, moreover, is also a requirement of love for one's own true good.

All the activity of the Church and of the faithful in the context of the family, must be based on this truth about marriage and its intrinsic juridical dimension. In spite of this, as I recalled earlier, the relativistic mindset, in more or less open or subtle ways, can also insinuate itself into the ecclesial community.

You are well aware that this is a risk of our time which is sometimes expressed in a distorted interpretation of the canonical norms in force. One must react to this tendency with courage and faith, constantly applying the hermeneutic of renewal in continuity and not allowing oneself to be seduced by forms of interpretation that involve a break with the Church's tradition.

These paths lead away from the true essence of marriage, as well as from its intrinsic juridical dimension and, under various more or less attractive names, seek to conceal a false conjugal reality.

So it is that the point is sometimes reached of maintaining that nothing is right or wrong in a couple's relationship, provided it corresponds with the achievement of the subjective aspirations of each party. In this perspective, the idea of marriage "in facto esse" oscillates between merely factual relations and the juridical-positivistic aspect, overlooking its essence as an intrinsic bond of justice between the persons of the man and of the woman.

The contribution of ecclesiastical tribunals to overcoming the crisis of the meaning of marriage, in the Church and in civil society, could seem to some people of somewhat secondary or minor importance.

However, precisely because marriage has an intrinsically juridical dimension, being wise and convinced servants of justice in this sensitive and most important sector has the significant value of witness and is of deep reassurance to all. Dear Prelate Auditors, you are committed on a front in which responsibility for the truth makes itself felt in a special way in our times.

In being faithful to your task, make sure that your action fits harmoniously into an overall rediscovery of the beauty of that "truth about marriage", the truth of the "principle", which Jesus fully taught us and of which the Holy Spirit continually reminds us in the Church today.

Dear Prelate Auditors, Officials and collaborators, these are the considerations to which I felt impelled to call your attention, in the certainty that I would find in you judges and magistrates ready to share and make your own so important and serious a doctrine.

To each and every one I express in particular my pleasure and my total confidence that the Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota, an effective and authoritative manifestation of the juridical wisdom of the Church, will continue to carry out consistently its own, far from easy munus, at the service of the divine plan followed by the Creator and the Redeemer in the institution of marriage.

As I invoke divine help upon your work, I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.


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Papal Homily Recalling Deceased Cardinals, Bishops
"Their 'Being in Christ' Grew Steadily Stronger"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered in St. Peter's Basilica on Nov. 4, during the Mass for the souls of all cardinals and bishops who died over the past year.

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the past few days the Solemnity of All Saints and the Commemoration of All Souls have helped us to meditate on the final destination of our earthly pilgrimage. In this spiritual atmosphere, we have gathered round the altar of the Lord today to celebrate Holy Mass for the repose of the souls of the Cardinals and Bishops whom God has called to himself during the past year.

We see their familiar faces once again as we listen to the names of the late lamented Cardinals who have departed from us in these past 12 months: Leo Scheffczyk, Pio Taofinu'u, Raúl Francisco Primatesta, Angel Suquía Goicoechea, Johannes Willebrands, Louis-Albert Vachon, Dino Monduzzi and Mario Francesco Pompedda. I would also like to name each one of the Archbishops and Bishops, but let the consoling certainty suffice for us that their names "are written in Heaven", as Jesus once said to the Apostles (Lk 10:20).

Remembering the names of these brothers of ours in the faith refers us to the Sacrament of Baptism which marked, for each one of them as for every Christian, entry into the Communion of the Saints.

At the end of life, death deprives us of all that is earthly, but not of that Grace and that sacramental "character" by virtue of which we are indissolubly associated with Our Lord and Savior's Paschal Mystery. Emptied of all but clothed in Christ: thus do the baptized cross the threshold of death and are presented to the just and merciful God.

In order that the white garment received in Baptism may be purified of every speck and every stain, the Community of believers offers the Eucharistic Sacrifice and other prayers of suffrage for those whom death has called to pass from time to eternity.

Praying for the dead is a noble practice that implies belief in the resurrection of the dead, in accordance with what has been revealed to us by Sacred Scripture and, in a complete way, by the Gospel.

We have just heard the account of Ezekiel's vision of the dry bones (37:1-14). This is certainly one of the most important and impressive biblical passages which lends itself to a twofold interpretation.

From the historical viewpoint, it responds to the need for hope by the Israelites deported to Babylon, distressed and afflicted at having to bury their dead in a foreign land.

The Lord announces to them through the mouth of the prophet that he will rescue them from that nightmare and enable them to return to the land of Israel. The evocative image of the bones that come to life and come together thus represents this people, who regains vigor and hope in order to return to their homeland.

However, Ezekiel's long and eloquent oracle, which exalts the power of the Word of God to whom nothing is impossible, at the same time marks a decisive step ahead towards faith in the resurrection of the dead. This faith was to be fulfilled in the New Testament.

In the light of Christ's Paschal Mystery, the vision of the dry bones acquires the value of a universal parable on the human race, a pilgrim in earthly exile subjected to the yoke of death.

The divine Word, incarnate in Jesus, comes to dwell in the world, many aspects of which make it a desolate valley; he shows full solidarity with human beings and brings them the glad tidings of eternal life. This announcement of hope is proclaimed to the depths of the afterworld, while the way that leads to the Promised Land is opened once and for all.

In the Gospel passage, we listened once again to the first verses of Jesus' great prayer cited in Chapter 17 of John. The Lord's sorrowful words show that the ultimate purpose of the entire "work" of the Son of God Incarnate consisted in giving eternal life to men and women (Jn 17:2). Jesus also told us what eternal life consists in: "that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent" (Jn 17:3).

In these words one can hear the praying voice of the Ecclesial Community, aware that the revelation of the "Name" of God received from the Lord is equivalent to the gift of eternal life. Knowing Jesus means knowing the Father; and knowing the Father means entering into real communion with the very Origin of Life, Light and Love.

Dear brothers and sisters, today we are thanking God in a special way for having made his Name known to these Cardinals and Bishops who have departed from us. They belong, according to the words of John's Gospel, to the ranks of those whom the Father entrusted to the Son "out of the world" (Jn 17:6).

To each one of them Christ "gave the words" of the Father, and they "received them" and they have "believed"; they have placed their trust in the Father and in the Son (cf. Jn 17:8).

It was for them that he prayed (cf. Jn 17:9), entrusting them to the Father (cf. Jn 17:15, 17, 20-21), saying in particular, "Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to behold my glory" (Jn 17:24).

We intend our prayers of suffrage today to be united with this prayer of the Lord which is priestly par excellence. Christ substantiated his entreaty to the Father with the gift of himself on the Cross; let us offer our prayers in union with the Eucharistic Sacrifice, which is the real and actual representation of that unique and saving self-emptying.

Dear brothers and sisters, the venerable deceased Cardinals and Bishops whom we are commemorating this morning lived in this faith. Each one of them was called in the Church to feel as if the Apostle Paul's words, just now proclaimed in the second reading, were his own and to strive to put them into practice: "to me to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21).

This vocation, received in Baptism, was reinforced in them with the Sacrament of Confirmation and with the three degrees of Sacred Orders, and was constantly nourished by participation in the Eucharist.

Through this sacramental process, their "being in Christ" grew steadily stronger and deeper, so that dying was no longer a loss -- since they had already evangelically "lost" all things for the Lord and for the Gospel (cf. Mk 8:35) -- but a gain: that of encountering Jesus at last, and with him, finding fullness of life.

Let us ask the Lord to obtain for these beloved Brothers of ours, the deceased Cardinals and Bishops, that they may reach the destination they so deeply desired. Let us ask this relying on the intercession of Mary Most Holy and on the prayers of the many people who knew them in their lives and appreciated their Christian virtues.

Let us gather together in this Holy Eucharist every thanksgiving and every supplication, for the benefit of their souls and of the souls of all the deceased, whom we commend to the divine mercy.

Amen.

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Papal Address to Assembly of Council for Migrants
"Christians Must Open Their Hearts to the Lowly and the Poor"  (July 7, 2006)

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Migrants and Travelers, held May 15 in the Clementine Hall.

* * *

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the episcopate and in the priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to welcome you on the occasion of the plenary session of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. First of all, I greet Cardinal Renato Martino, who I thank for the words with which he introduced our meeting. I also greet the secretary, the members and the consultors of this pontifical council and especially those recently appointed, and I address to all a cordial thought with best wishes for the success of your work.

The theme chosen for this session -- "Migration and Itinerancy from and toward Islamic Majority Countries" -- concerns a social reality that is becoming ever more present. Therefore, human mobility with regard to Muslim countries calls for a specific reflection, not only because of the extent of the phenomenon, but above all because the Islamic identity is both religious and cultural.

The Catholic Church realizes with increasing awareness that interreligious dialogue is part of her commitment to the service of humanity in the contemporary world. This conviction has become, as one says, "daily bread" especially fit for those who work in contact with migrants, refugees and with different categories of itinerant people.

We are living in times in which Christians are called to cultivate a style of dialogue open to the religious question, without failing to present to the interlocutors the Christian proposal consistent with her own identity. So, one increasingly feels the importance of reciprocity in dialogue, reciprocity that the instruction "Erga Migrantes Caritas Christi" rightly defines as a "principle" of great importance. It treats of a "relationship based on mutual respect," and before that on an "attitude of heart and spirit" (No. 64).

The importance and delicacy of this commitment is witnessed by the efforts that are made in many communities to weave relations of mutual awareness and esteem with immigrants, which appear ever more useful to overcome prejudice and a closed mentality.

In its action of reception and dialogue with migrants and itinerant peoples, the Christian community has as its constant reference point Christ, who left to his disciples, as a rule of life, the new commandment of love. Christian love is, by its nature, prevenient. This is why single believers are called to open their arms and their hearts to every person, from whatever nation they come, allowing the authorities responsible for public life to enforce the relevant laws held to be appropriate for a healthy coexistence.

Continually stimulated to witness the love that the Lord Jesus taught, Christians must open their hearts especially to the lowly and the poor, in whom Christ himself is present in a singular way. Acting in this way, they manifest the most qualifying characteristic of their own Christian identity: the love that Christ lived and continually transmits to the Church through the Gospel and the sacraments.

Obviously, it is to be hoped that Christians who emigrate to nations with an Islamic majority will also be welcomed and their religious identity respected.

Dear brothers and sisters, I willingly welcome this occasion to thank you for what you do in favor of an organic and efficient pastoral service for migrants and itinerant peoples, putting your time, your competency and your experience at this service. May it escape no one that this is a significant frontier in the new evangelization in the current globalized world.

I encourage you to pursue your work with renewed zeal, while, for my part, I follow you with attention and I accompany you with prayer, so that the Holy Spirit may make your initiative fruitful for the good of the Church and the world.

May Mary Most Holy watch over you, she who lived her faith as a pilgrimage in the different circumstances of her earthly life. May the Holy Virgin help every man and every woman to know her Son Jesus and to receive from him the gift of salvation. With this wish I impart my blessing to all of you and to those dear to you.

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LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI 
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE FIFTH WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES


 To Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo
President of the Pontifical Council for the Family

On 22 February this year, the venerable Holy Father John Paul II convoked the Fifth World Meeting of Families to take place in Valencia, Spain, selecting as its theme: "The transmission of faith in the family", and fixing the date for the first week in July 2006.

I am pleased to confirm the convocation of this important World Meeting of Families. In this regard, I am determined, as was John Paul II, to encourage the "marvellous news" (Familiaris Consortio, n. 51), the "Gospel of the Family", whose value is central to the Church and to society.

I myself had the opportunity to be the General Relator at the Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, celebrated in Rome in 1980. The Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio that resulted from this Assembly makes a deep analysis of the identity and mission of the family, which it describes as the "domestic Church" and sanctuary of life.

Today, if they are to give a truly human face to society, no people can ignore the precious good of the family, founded on marriage. "The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring" (can. 1055): this is the foundation of the family and the patrimony and common good of humanity.

Thus, the Church cannot cease to proclaim that in accordance with God's plans (cf. Mt 19: 3-9), marriage and the family are irreplaceable and permit no other alternatives.

Today more than ever, the Christian family has a very noble mission that it cannot shirk: the transmission of the faith, which involves the gift of self to Jesus Christ who died and rose, and insertion into the Ecclesial Community.

Parents are the first evangelizers of children, a precious gift from the Creator (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 50), and begin by teaching them to say their first prayers. In this way a moral universe is built up, rooted in the will of God, where the child grows in the human and Christian values that give life its full meaning.

On this occasion, I would like to send my cordial greeting to Archbishop Agustín García-Gasco Vicente, Archbishop of Valencia, the particular Church which is preparing for this Ecclesial Meeting and will welcome families from the rest of Spain and from other countries.

Already from this moment, I commend to the Lord and bless the families who will be taking part in this Meeting or joining it in spirit. May the Virgin Mary, our Mother, who was with her Son at the Wedding of Cana, intercede for all the families of the world.

From the Vatican, 17 May 2005

BENEDICT XVI

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Pope's Homily at Mass With New Cardinals
"You Are Intimately United with Christ" (March 26, 2006)

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 26, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave during the Mass he concelebrated on Saturday with the 15 new cardinals, in which they received their rings.

* * *

Dear Cardinals and Patriarchs,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this concelebration with the new cardinals after yesterday's consistory, and I consider it providential that it should take place on the liturgical solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord. In the incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there. Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring.

They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating: Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished. And yet -- today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the mystery -- the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary. St. Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of "aquaeductus" (cf. "Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae": PL 183, 437-448). In celebrating the incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honor his mother.

The angel's proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart: "Here I am ... let it be done to me according to your word" (Luke 1:38), the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.

From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. St. Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?" The answer, says the messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: "Hail, full of grace" (cf. "Sermo" 291:6). In fact, the angel, "appearing to her," does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: "Full of grace -- 'gratia plena,'" which in the original Greek is "beloved" (cf. Luke 1:28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of sacred Scripture (cf. "In Lucam" 6:7).

It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response: In being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God's love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom through obedience to the Father.

In the second reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ's incarnation: "When Christ came into the world, he said: ... 'Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God'" (Hebrews 10:5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements from Christ and from the Virgin, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God's loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration.

What a great gift, dear brothers, to be able to conduct this evocative celebration on the solemnity of the Lord's Annunciation! What an abundance of light we can draw from this mystery for our lives as ministers of the Church! You above all, dear new cardinals, what great sustenance you can receive for your mission as the eminent "Senate" of Peter's Successor! This providential circumstance helps us to consider today's event, which emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other principle, the Marian one, which is even more fundamental. The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the council, by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in harmony with his motto "Totus tuus."

In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace, looking down over St. Peter's Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal. The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary's acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed.

Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his successors, is "included" under the Virgin's mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her "yes" to God's will. This link with Mary naturally evokes a strong affective resonance in all of us, but first of all it has an objective value. Between Mary and the Church there is indeed a connatural relationship that was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council in its felicitous decision to place the treatment of the Blessed Virgin at the conclusion of the constitution on the Church, "Lumen Gentium."

The theme of the relationship between the Petrine principle and the Marian principle is also found in the symbol of the ring which I am about to consign to you. The ring is always a nuptial sign. Almost all of you have already received one, on the day of your episcopal ordination, as an _expression of your fidelity and your commitment to watch over the holy Church, the bride of Christ (cf. "Rite of Ordination of Bishops"). The ring which I confer upon you today, proper to the cardinalatial dignity, is intended to confirm and strengthen that commitment, arising once more from a nuptial gift, a reminder to you that first and foremost you are intimately united with Christ so as to accomplish your mission as bridegrooms of the Church.

May your acceptance of the ring be for you a renewal of your "yes," your "here I am," addressed both to the Lord Jesus who chose you and constituted you, and to his holy Church, which you are called to serve with the love of a spouse. So the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of "charity," which constitutes the fulfillment of each. As St. Paul says, charity is the "greatest" charism, the "most excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:31; 13:13).

Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only love will remain. For this reason, my Brothers, taking the opportunity offered by this favorable time of Lent, let us commit ourselves to ensure that everything in our personal lives, and in the ecclesial activity in which we are engaged, is inspired by charity and leads to charity. In this respect too, we are enlightened by the mystery that we are celebrating today. Indeed, the first thing that Mary did after receiving the Angel's message was to go "in haste" to the house of her cousin Elizabeth in order to be of service to her (cf. Luke 1:39).

The Virgin's initiative was one of genuine charity, it was humble and courageous, motivated by faith in God's word and the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit. Those who love forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbor.

Here we have the image and model of the Church! Every ecclesial community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love. This is the path along which I chose to launch my pontificate, inviting everyone, with my first encyclical, to build up the Church in charity as a "community of love" (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," Part 2).

In pursuing this objective, venerable Brother Cardinals, your spiritual closeness and active assistance is a great support and comfort to me. For this I thank you, and at the same time I invite all of you, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful, to join together in invoking the Holy Spirit, praying that the College of Cardinals may be ever more ardent in pastoral charity, so as to help the whole Church to radiate Christ's love in the world, to the praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen!

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Pope's Address to Members of Council for Social Communications
"Assist Those in Media to Promote What Is Good and True"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today when receiving in audience the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. The Pope received them in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

* * *

Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Vatican today on the occasion of the annual plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I wish first to thank Archbishop Foley, president of the council, for his kind words of introduction, and indeed to thank all of you for your commitment to the important apostolate of social communications, both as a direct form of evangelization and as a contribution to the promotion of all that is good and true for every human society.

In my first Message for World Communications Day I chose to reflect on the media as a network which facilitates communication, communion and cooperation. I did so recalling that the decree of the Second Vatican Council, "Inter Mirifica," had already recognized the enormous power of the media to inform the minds of individuals and to shape their thinking. Forty years later we realize, more than ever, the pressing need to harness that power for the benefit of all humanity.

St. Paul reminds us that through Christ we are no longer strangers and aliens but citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, growing into a holy temple, a dwelling place for God (cf. Ephesians 2:19-22). This sublime portrayal of a life of communion engages all aspects of our lives as Christians and for you, in a particular way, points to the challenge to encourage the social communications and entertainment industries to be protagonists of truth and promoters of the peace that ensues from lives lived in accordance with that liberating truth.

As you well know, such a commitment demands principled courage and resolve, on the part of those who own and work within the hugely influential media industry, to ensure that promotion of the common good is never sacrificed to a self-serving quest for profit or an ideological agenda with little public accountability. In reflecting on such concerns I am confident that your study of my beloved Predecessor's apostolic letter "The Rapid Development" will be of great assistance.

I also wished in my message this year to draw particular attention to the urgent need to uphold and support marriage and family life, the foundation of every culture and society. In cooperation with parents, the social communications and entertainment industries can assist in the difficult but sublimely satisfying vocation of bringing up children, through presenting edifying models of human life and love. How disheartening and destructive it is to us all when the opposite occurs! Do not our hearts cry out, most especially, when our young people are subjected to debased or false expressions of love which ridicule the God-given dignity of the human person and undermine family interests?
In conclusion, I urge you to renew your efforts to assist those working in the world of media to promote what is good and true, especially in regard to the meaning of human and social existence, and to denounce what is false, especially pernicious trends which erode the fabric of a civil society worthy of the human person. Let us be encouraged by the words of St. Paul: Christ is our peace: In him we are one (cf. Ephesians 2:14)! And let us work together to build up the communion of love according to the designs of the Creator made known through his Son! To all of you, your colleagues, and the members of your families at home I cordially impart my apostolic blessing.

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Benedict XVI's Address on the Human Embryo
Congress Convoked by Pontifical Academy for Life

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the text of Benedict XVI's address to the participants in the 12th General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life, which focused on the topic "The Human Embryo in the Preimplantation Phase."

* * *

Clementine Hall
Monday, 27 February 2006

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate
and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I address a respectful and cordial greeting to everyone on the occasion of the General Assembly of the Pontifical Academy for Life and the International Congress on: "The human embryo in the pre-implantation phase," which has just begun.

I greet in particular Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragáán, president of the Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers, as well as Bishop Elio Sgreccia, president of the Pontifical Academy for Life, whom I thank for the kind words with which he has clearly presented the special interest of the themes treated on this occasion, and I greet Cardinal-elect Carlo Caffarra, a long-standing friend.

Indeed, the study topic chosen for your Assembly, "The human embryo in the pre-implantation phase," that is, in the very first days subsequent to conception, is an extremely important issue today, both because of the obvious repercussions on philosophical-anthropological and ethical thought, and also because of the prospects applicable in the context of the biomedical and juridical sciences.

It is certainly a fascinating topic, however difficult and demanding it may be, given the delicate nature of the subject under examination and the complexity of the epistemological problems that concern the relationship between the revelation of facts at the level of the experimental sciences and the consequent, necessary anthropological reflection on values.

As it is easy to see, neither sacred Scripture nor the oldest Christian Tradition can contain any explicit treatment of your theme. St. Luke, nevertheless, testifies to the active, though hidden, presence of the two infants.

He recounts the meeting of the Mother of Jesus, who had conceived him in her virginal womb only a few days earlier, with the mother of John the Baptist, who was already in the sixth month of her pregnancy: "When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby leapt in her womb" (Luke 1:41).

St. Ambrose comments: Elizabeth "perceived the arrival of Mary, he (John) perceived the arrival of the Lord, the woman, the arrival of the Woman, the child, the arrival of the Child" ("Comm. in Luc." 2: 19, 22-26).
Even in the absence of explicit teaching on the very first days of life of the unborn child, it is possible to find valuable information in Sacred Scripture that elicits sentiments of admiration and respect for the newly conceived human being, especially in those who, like you, are proposing to study the mystery of human procreation.

The sacred books, in fact, set out to show God's love for every human being even before he has been formed in his mother's womb.

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you" (Jeremiah 1:5), God said to the Prophet Jeremiah. And the Psalmist recognizes with gratitude: "You did form my inward parts, you did knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for you are fearful and wonderful. Wonderful are your works! You know me right well" (Psalm 138[139]:13-14).

These words acquire their full, rich meaning when one thinks that God intervenes directly in the creation of the soul of every new human being.

God's love does not differentiate between the newly conceived infant still in his or her mother's womb and the child or young person, or the adult and the elderly person. God does not distinguish between them because he sees an impression of his own image and likeness (Genesis 1:26) in each one.

He makes no distinctions because he perceives in all of them a reflection of the face of his Only-begotten Son, whom "he chose ... before the foundation of the world. ... He destined us in love to be his sons ... according to the purpose of his will" (Ephesians 1:4-6).

This boundless and almost incomprehensible love of God for the human being reveals the degree to which the human person deserves to be loved in himself, independently of any other consideration -- intelligence, beauty, health, youth, integrity, and so forth. In short, human life is always a good, for it "is a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory" ("Evangelium Vitae," No. 34).

Indeed, the human person has been endowed with a very exalted dignity, which is rooted in the intimate bond that unites him with his Creator: a reflection of God's own reality shines out in the human person, in every person, whatever the stage or condition of his life.

Therefore, the magisterium of the Church has constantly proclaimed the sacred and inviolable character of every human life from its conception until its natural end (cf. ibid., No. 57). This moral judgment also applies to the origins of the life of an embryo even before it is implanted in the mother's womb, which will protect and nourish it for nine months until the moment of birth: "Human life is sacred and inviolable at every moment of existence, including the initial phase which precedes birth" (ibid., No. 61).

I know well, dear scholars, with what sentiments of wonder and profound respect for the human being you carry out your demanding and fruitful work of research precisely on the origin of human life itself. It is a mystery on whose significance science will be increasingly able to shed light, even if it will be difficult to decipher it completely.

Indeed, as soon as reason succeeds in overcoming a limit deemed insurmountable, it will be challenged by other limits as yet unknown. Man will always remain a deep and impenetrable enigma.

In the fourth century, St. Cyril of Jerusalem already offered the following reflection to the catechumens who were preparing to receive baptism: "Who prepared the cavity of the womb for the procreation of children? Who breathed life into the inanimate fetus within it? Who knit us together with bones and sinews and clothed us with skin and flesh (cf. Job 10:11), and as soon as the child is born, causes the breast to produce an abundance of milk? How is it that the child, in growing, becomes an adolescent, and from an adolescent is transformed into a young man, then an adult and finally an old man, without anyone being able to identify the precise day on which the change occurred?" And he concluded: "O Man, you are seeing the Craftsman, you are seeing the wise Creator" ("Catechesi Battesimale," 9, 15-16).

At the beginning of the third millennium these considerations still apply. They are addressed not so much to the physical or physiological phenomenon as rather to its anthropological and metaphysical significance. We have made enormous headway in our knowledge and have defined more clearly the limits of our ignorance but it always seems too arduous for human intelligence to realize that in looking at creation, we encounter the impression of the Creator.

In fact, those who love the truth, like you, dear scholars, should perceive that research on such profound topics places us in the condition of seeing and, as it were, touching the hand of God. Beyond the limits of experimental methods, beyond the boundaries of the sphere which some call meta-analysis, wherever the perception of the senses no longer suffices or where neither the perception of the senses alone nor scientific verification is possible, begins the adventure of transcendence, the commitment to "go beyond" them.

Dear researchers and experts, I hope you will be more and more successful, not only in examining the reality that is the subject of your endeavor, but also in contemplating it in such a way that, together with your discoveries, questions will arise that lead to discovering in the beauty of creatures a reflection of the Creator.

In this context, I am eager to express my appreciation and gratitude to the Pontifical Academy for Life for its valuable work of "study, formation and information" which benefits the dicasteries of the Holy See, the local Churches and scholars attentive to what the Church proposes on their terrain of scientific research and on human life in its relations with ethics and law.

Because of the urgency and importance of these problems, I consider the foundation of this Institution by my venerable Predecessor, John Paul II, providential. I therefore desire to express with sincere cordiality to all of you, the personnel and the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life, my closeness and support.

With these sentiments, as I entrust your work to Mary's protection, I impart the apostolic blessing to you all.

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Papal Address to Members of Roman Rota
"Love for the Truth, the Meeting Point Between Canon Law and Pastoral Ministry"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Jan. 28 to the members of the tribunal of the Roman Rota.

* * *

Clementine Hall

Distinguished Prelate Auditors,
Officials and Collaborators of the
Apostolic Tribunal of the Roman Rota,

Almost a year has passed since your Tribunal's last meeting with my beloved Predecessor, John Paul II. It was the last in a long series of meetings. Of the great legacy of canon law that he has also bequeathed to us, I would like in particular to focus on the instruction "Dignitas Connubii," on the procedures to follow in handling causes of the nullity of marriage. It was intended to set out a sort of "vademecum" which not only contains the respective norms in force on this subject but enriches them with further, relevant measures necessary for their correct application.

The greatest contribution of this Instruction, which I hope will be applied in its entirety by those who work in the ecclesiastical tribunals, consists in pointing out, in the causes of matrimonial nullity, the extent and manner in which to apply the norms contained in the canons concerning ordinary contentious judgment, as well as the observance of the special norms dictated for causes on the state of persons and for the public good.

As you well know, the attention dedicated to trials of the nullity of marriage increasingly transcends the context of experts. In fact, for many of the faithful, ecclesiastical sentences in this sector bear upon whether or not they may receive Eucharistic Communion.

It is this very aspect, so crucial from the viewpoint of Christian life, which explains why the subject of the nullity of marriage arose again and again at the recent Synod on the Eucharist. It might seem at first glance that there is a great divergence between the pastoral concern shown during the Synod's work and the spirit of the collection of juridical norms in "Dignitas Connubii," almost to the point of their being in opposition.

On the one hand, it would appear that the Synod Fathers were asking the ecclesiastical tribunals to strive to ensure that members of the faithful who are not canonically married regularize their marital situation as soon as possible and return to the Eucharistic Banquet.

On the other, canonical legislation and the recent Instruction would seem instead to limit this pastoral thrust, as though the main concern were rather to proceed with the foreseen juridical formalities at the risk of forgetting the pastoral aim of the process.

This approach conceals a false opposition between law and pastoral ministry in general. Here, I do not intend to go deeply into this issue which John Paul II already treated on several occasions, especially in his address to the Roman Rota in 1990 (cf. Jan. 18, 1990; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, [ORE], Jan. 29, 1990, p. 6).

At this first meeting with you, I prefer to concentrate on love for the truth, which is the fundamental meeting point between canon law and pastoral ministry. With this affirmation, moreover, I associate myself in spirit with precisely what my venerable Predecessor said to you in his address last year (Jan. 29, 2005; ORE, Feb. 2, p. 3).

The canonical proceedings for the nullity of marriage are essentially a means of ascertaining the truth about the conjugal bond. Thus, their constitutive aim is not to complicate the life of the faithful uselessly, nor far less to exacerbate their litigation, but rather to render a service to the truth.

Moreover, the institution of a trial in general is not in itself a means of satisfying any kind of interest but rather a qualified instrument to comply with the duty of justice to give each person what he or she deserves.

Precisely in its essential structure, the trial is instituted in the name of justice and peace. In fact, the purpose of the proceedings is the declaration of the truth by an impartial third party, after the parties have been given equal opportunities to support their arguments and proof with adequate room for discussion. This exchange of opinions is normally necessary if the judge is to discover the truth, and consequently, to give the case a just verdict. Every system of trial must therefore endeavor to guarantee the objectivity, speed and efficacy of the judges' decisions.

In this area too, the relationship between faith and reason is of fundamental importance. If the case corresponds with right reason, the fact that the Church has recourse to legal proceedings to resolve inter-ecclesial matters of a juridical kind cannot come as a surprise. A tradition has thus taken shape which is now centuries old and has been preserved in our day in ecclesiastical tribunals throughout the world.

It is well to keep in mind, moreover, that in the age of classical medieval law, canon law made an important contribution to perfecting the institutional structure of the trial itself.

Its application in the Church concerns first and foremost cases in which, since the matter remains to be resolved, the parties could reach an agreement that would settle their litigation but for various reasons this does not happen.

In seeking to determine what is right, not only does recourse to proceedings not aim to exacerbate conflicts, but it seeks to make them more humane by finding objectively adequate solutions to the requirements of justice.
Of course, this solution on its own does not suffice, for people need love, but when it is inevitable, it is an important step in the right direction.

Indeed, trials may also revolve around matters whose settlement is beyond the competence of the parties involved since they concern the rights of the entire Ecclesial Community. The process of declaring the nullity of a marriage fits precisely into this context: In fact, in its twofold natural and sacramental dimension, marriage is not a good that spouses can dispose of nor, given its social and public nature, can any kind of self-declaration be conjectured.

At this point the second observation spontaneously arises: No trial is against the other party, as though it were a question of inflicting unjust damage. The purpose is not to take a good away from anyone but rather to establish and protect the possession of goods by people and institutions.

In addition to this point, valid in every trial, there is another, more specific point in the hypothesis of matrimonial nullity. Here, the parties are not contending for some possession that must be attributed to one or the other. The trial's aim is rather to declare the truth about the validity or invalidity of an actual marriage, in other words, about a reality that establishes the institution of the family and deeply concerns the Church and civil society.

Consequently, it can be said that in this type of trial the Church herself is the one to whom the request for the declaration is addressed. Given the natural presumption of the validity of a marriage that has been formally contracted, my Predecessor, Benedict XIV, an outstanding canon lawyer, conceived of and made obligatory in such proceedings the participation of the defender of the bond at the said trial (cf. apostolic constitution "Dei Miseratione," Nov. 3, 1741). Thus, the dialectic of the proceedings whose aim was to ascertain the truth was better guaranteed.

Just as the dialectic of the proceedings leads us to understand the criterion of the search for the truth, so it can help us grasp the other aspect of the question: its pastoral value, which cannot be separated from love for the truth.

Indeed, pastoral love can sometimes be contaminated by complacent attitudes toward the parties. Such attitudes can seem pastoral, but in fact they do not correspond with the good of the parties and of the Ecclesial Community itself; by avoiding confrontation with the truth that saves, they can even turn out to be counterproductive with regard to each person's saving encounter with Christ.

The principle of the indissolubility of marriage forcefully reaffirmed here by John Paul II (cf. addresses: Jan. 21, 2000, in ORE, Jan. 26, 2000, p. 1; Jan. 28, 2002, in ibid., Feb. 6, 2002, p. 6) pertains to the integrity of the Christian mystery.

Today, unfortunately, we may observe that this truth is sometimes obscured in the consciences of Christians and of people of good will. For this very reason, the service that can be offered to the faithful and to non-Christian spouses in difficulty is deceptive: It reinforces in them, if only implicitly, the tendency to forget the indissolubility of their union.

Thus, the possible intervention of the ecclesiastical institution in causes of nullity risks merely registering a failure.

However, the truth sought in processes of the nullity of marriage is not an abstract truth, cut off from the good of the people involved. It is a truth integrated in the human and Christian journey of every member of the faithful. It is very important, therefore, that the declaration of the truth is reached in reasonable time.

Divine Providence certainly knows how to draw good from evil, even when the ecclesiastical institutions neglect their duty or commit errors.

It is nonetheless a grave obligation to bring the Church's institutional action in her tribunals ever closer to the faithful. Besides, pastoral sensitivity must be directed to avoiding matrimonial nullity when the couple seeks to marry and to striving to help the spouses solve their possible problems and find the path to reconciliation. That same pastoral sensitivity to the real situations of individuals must nonetheless lead to safeguarding the truth and applying the norms prescribed to protect it during the trial.

I hope that these reflections will serve to help people understand better that love of the truth links the institution of canonical causes of the nullity of marriage with the authentic pastoral sense that must motivate these processes. With this key to interpretation, the instruction "Dignitas Connubii" and the concerns expressed during the last Synod can be seen to converge.

Dear friends, the Ecclesial Community is deeply grateful to you for your discreet approach to the arduous and fascinating task of bringing about this harmony. With the sincere hope that your judicial activity will contribute to the good of all who turn to you and will encourage them in their personal encounter with the Truth that is Christ, I bless you with gratitude and affection.

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