Pope's Words at End of "Name Day" Concert
"God Pronounced in Christ the Most Beautiful and True Word of Love"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday at the end of a concert the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household organized in the Vatican for the feast day of Benedict XVI's namesake, St. Joseph, featuring the music of Joseph Haydn.

The musical event featured a work of Spanish composer José Peris Lacasa. He presented his version of Joseph Haydn's "The Last Seven Words of Christ on the Cross," which Peris Lacasa calls "In the Manner of Haydn." The Henschel String Quartet and mezzosoprano Susanne Kelling performed the work.

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Dear Friends,

At the end of such intense and spiritually profound listening, it would be better to keep silent and prolong the meditation. However, I am very happy to greet and thank each one of you for your presence on the day of the celebration of my name day, in a particular way all those who have given me this great gift. I express my cordial gratitude to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my secretary of state, for the beautiful words he addressed to me.

I greet affectionately all the other cardinals, Cardinal Sodano, bishops and prelates present. Special thanks go also to the musicians, beginning with Maestro José Peris Lacasa, composer closely connected to the Spanish Royal House. He has the merit of having elaborated a version of "The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" of Franz Joseph Haydn, who takes up the [version] for a string quartet and the [version] in the form of oratory, written by Haydn himself. I also congratulate the Henschel Quartet for its admirable performance, and Mrs. Susanne Kelling, who put her extraordinary voice at the service of the holy words of the Lord Jesus.

The choice of this work has really been a happy one. In fact, if on one hand, its austere beauty is worthy of the solemnity of St. Joseph -- whose name the famous composer bore -- on the other its content is very appropriate for the Lenten season, what is more, it should predispose us to live the central Mystery of the Christian faith.

"The Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross" is, in fact, among the most sublime examples, in the musical field, of how art and faith can be united. The musician's invention is wholly inspired and almost "directed" by the evangelical texts, which culminate in the words pronounced by the crucified Jesus, before exhaling his last breath. However, more than the text, the composer was also connected by precise conditions to those who commissioned the work, dictated by the particular type of celebration in which the music would be performed. And it is precisely from these very close conditionings that the creative genius was able to manifest itself in all its excellence: Having to imagine seven sonatas of a tragic and meditative character, Haydn is centered on the intensity, as he himself wrote in a letter of the time, where he says: "Each sonata, or each text, is expressed with the only means of instrumental music, in such a way that it will necessarily make the most profound impression on the soul of the listener, including the least sharp" (Letter to W. Forster, April 8, 1787).

There is in this something similar to the work of the sculptor, who must constantly measure himself against the material on which he works -- let us think of the marble of Michelangelo's Pieta -- and in spite of everything, he is able to make that material speak, to have a singular and unrepeatable synthesis of thought and emotion arise, an absolutely original artistic expression that, however, at the same time, is totally at the service of that beautiful content of the faith, it is as though dominated by the event it represents -- in our case, by the Seven Words and by their context.

Hidden here is a universal law of artistic expression: To be able to communicate a beauty that is also a good and a truth, through a sensible means -- a painting, a music, a sculpture, a written text, a dance, etc. Well looked at, it is the same law that God followed to communicate himself and his love to us: He was incarnated in our human flesh and did the greatest work of art of the whole of creation: "the only mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus" -- as St. Paul writes (1 Timothy 2:5).

The "harder" the material the closer the conditionings of the expression, and highlighted in the main is the genius of the artist. Thus on the "hard" cross, God pronounced in Christ the most beautiful and true Word of love, which is Jesus in his full and definitive self-giving: He is the last Word of God, not in a chronological but in a qualitative sense. It is the universal, absolute Word, but it was pronounced in that concrete man, in that time and in that place, in that "hour" -- says John's Gospel. This connection with history, with flesh is the sign of fidelity par excellence, of a love so free that it is not afraid to be bound forever, to express the infinite in the finite, the whole in the fragment. This law, which is the law of love, is also the law of art in its highest expressions.

Dear friends, perhaps I have gone too far with this reflection, but the fault -- or rather the merit! -- is Franz Joseph Haydn's. Let us thank the Lord for these great artistic geniuses, who have been able and have wanted to measure themselves with his Word -- Jesus Christ -- and with his words -- the sacred Scriptures. I renew my gratitude to all those who have planned and prepared this tribute: may the Lord recompense each one of you with largesse.

[In German]

Once again I thank profoundly all those who have made this evening possible. I address my particular gratitude to the Henschell Quartet and to mezzo-soprano, Mrs. Susanne Kelling who, with her expressive performance, has brought us close in a musical way to the words of the Savior on the Cross. Thank you very much!

[In Spanish]

I greet very cordially Maestro José Peris Lacasa, author of an successful re-elaboration of Haydn's "Seven Last Words of Christ on the Cross," which we had the pleasure to listen to today. I also greet those who have come from Spain for this occasion. Thank you very much.

I renew a cordial greeting to all with the hope that you will follow Christ closely, as the Virgin Mary, to live Holy Week profoundly and really celebrate Easter now so close. With this intention, I impart to you and your loved ones my Blessing.


Pontiff's Address to Italian Civil Defense
"Love for Neighbor Cannot Be Delegated"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered March 6 upon receiving in audience some 7,000 Members, Personnel and Volunteers, of the Italian National Civil Defense.

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Dear Friends,

I am very glad to receive you and to address my cordial welcome to each one of you. I greet my Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood and all the Authorities. I greet Mr Guido Bertolaso, Undersecretary of the Office of the Prime Minister and Head of the Department for Civil Protection and I thank him for his courteous words to me on behalf of all and for all that he does for civil society and for all of us. I greet Mr Gianni Letta, Undersecretary of the Office of the Prime Minister, present at this meeting. I address my affectionate greeting to the many volunteers and to the representatives of several sections of the National Service for Civil Defense.

This Meeting was preceded by a joyful and festive moment, brightened by the musical performance of the "Istituzione Sinfonica Abruzzese" my grateful thoughts to you all.

You have wished to review the Civil Defence's role over the past 10 years, on the occasion of both national and international emergencies and in support activities for important and specific events.

How could one fail to mention in this regard the interventions on behalf of the earthquake victims in San Giuliano di Puglia and, above all, in Abruzzo? In visiting Onna and l'Aquila last April I was able to see for myself how hard you had worked to help those who had lost their loved ones and their homes. The words I addressed to you on that occasion seem to me to be appropriate: "Thank you for all you have done and especially for the love with which you have done it. Thank you for the example you have given" (Visit to Abruzzo Region, Address to the faithful, volunteers, rescue teams, the military and other authorities, 28 April 2009; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 6 May 2009, p. 5).

And how can we fail to think with admiration of the many volunteers who provided assistance and security to the immense crowd of young people and not only to them present at the unforgettable World Youth Day in the year 2000, or to those who came to Rome to pay their last respects to Pope John Paul ii?

Dear volunteers of the Civil Defense I know how much you have been looking forward to this Meeting. I can assure you that it is something that I too eagerly awaited. You constitute one of the most recent and mature expressions of the long tradition of solidarity that is rooted in the altruism and generosity of the Italian people. The Civil Defense's voluntary service has become a national phenomenon that has acquired characteristics of participation and organization that are particularly significant and today has about 1,300,000 members, divided into more than 3,000 organizations. Your Association's aim and intentions have been recognized in appropriate legislative norms which have helped to shape the national identity of the Civil Defense's voluntary service which is attentive to the primary needs of the individual and of the common good.

The terms "defense" and "civil" are precise terms and a profound expression of your mission, or I would say your "vocation": to protect people and their dignity which are central goods to civil society in the tragic cases of calamities and emergencies that threaten the life and security of families or entire communities. This mission does not consist solely in emergency management but also in making a prompt and praiseworthy contribution to achieving the common good, which always constitutes the horizon of human coexistence even, and above all, in times of great trial.

Such trials constitute an occasion for discernment rather than for desperation. They afford the opportunity to formulate a new social program that focuses more on virtue and on the good of all.

The twofold dimension of protection, which is expressed both during the emergency and after it, is clearly seen in the figure of the Good Samaritan, taken from Luke's Gospel (cf. Lk 10: 30-35). In assisting the unfortunate traveler in the moment of his greatest need the Good Samaritan certainly showed charity, humility and courage. And he did so when everyone else some through indifference, others because they were hard-hearted looked away. The Good Samaritan, however, teaches us to go beyond the emergency and to prepare, we might say, for the return to normality. Indeed, not only did he bind up the wounds of the man who had been left lying on the ground, but he then took the trouble to entrust him to the innkeeper so that once the emergency was past he might recover.

As this Gospel passage teaches us, love for neighbor cannot be delegated: the State and politics, even with the necessary concern for welfare, cannot replace it.

As I wrote in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est: "Love caritas will always prove necessary, even in the most just society. There is no ordering of the State so just that it can eliminate the need for a service of love. Whoever wants to eliminate love is preparing to eliminate man as such. There will always be suffering which cries out for consolation and help. There will always be loneliness. There will always be situations of material need where help in the form of concrete love of neighbor is indispensable" (n. 28, b).

This always requires and always will require personal and voluntary commitment. For this very reason volunteers are not "stopgaps" in the social network but people who truly contribute to tracing society's human and Christian features. Without voluntary service the common good and society could not last long, for their progress and dignity depend to a large extent precisely on those people who do more than their duty strictly demands of them.

Dear friends, your commitment is a service to the dignity of the human beings founded on their having been created in God's image and likeness (cf. Gn 1: 26). As the episode of the Good Samaritan has shown us, sometimes seeing can turn to emptiness or even contempt, but a gaze can also express love.

In addition to being custodians of the territory, you are, increasingly, living icons of the Good Samaritan, attentive to your neighbor, remembering human dignity and inspiring hope.

When a person does not limit himself to doing no more than his professional or family duties require but seeks to help others, his heart expands. Those who love and freely serve others as their neighbour live and act in accordance with the Gospel and take part in the mission of the Church that always looks at the whole person and wants him to feel God's love.

Dear volunteers, the Church and the Pope support your invaluable service. May the Virgin Mary who went "with haste" to her kinswoman Elizabeth to help her (cf. Lk 1: 39), be your model. As I entrust you to the intercession of your Patron, St Pius of Pietrelcina, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and with affection impart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to your dear ones.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Italian Business Leaders
"Work Is a Good for Man, for the Family and for Society"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 18, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience when he met with a group of Italian business leaders at the Vatican.

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Distinguished President,
Illustrious Gentlemen and Ladies,

I am happy to address my cordial welcome to each one of you, on the eve of the feast of St. Joseph, who is an example for all those who operate in the world of work. I address my deferent thought to Doctor Aurelio Regina, President of the Union of Industrialists and Managers of Rome, thanking him for the courteous words he addressed to me. With him I greet the Junta and the Association's Executive Council.

The Roman business reality, made up in great part by small and medium enterprises, is one of the most important territorial associations belonging to Confindustria [the Italian Employers' organization], which today operates also in a context characterized by globalization, by the negative effects of the recent financial crisis, by the so-called "financialization" of the economy of businesses themselves. It is a complex situation, because the present crisis has sorely tested the economic and productive systems of several countries. Nevertheless, it must be lived with confidence, because it can be considered as an opportunity from the point of view of the revision of models of development and of a new organization of the world of finance, a "new time" -- as has been said -- of profound revision.

In the social encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," I observed that we come from a phase of development in which the material and technical has been favored, as opposed to the ethical and spiritual, and I encouraged to put the person at the center of the economy and of finance (cf. No. 25), whom Christ reveals in his most profound dignity. Proposing, in addition, that politics not be subordinated to financial mechanisms, I called for the reform and creation of international juridical and political ordering (cf. No. 67), to be given to global structures of the economy and of finance, to obtain more effectively the common good of the human family. Following in the footsteps of my predecessors, I reaffirmed that the increase of unemployment, especially of youth, the economic impoverishment of many workers and the emergence of new forms of slavery, exact as a priority objective access to fitting work for all (cf. Nos. 32 and 63). What guides the Church in being a promoter of a similar objective is the conviction that work is a good for man, for the family and for society, and it is source of liberty and responsibility. Obviously involved in achieving these objectives, together with other social entities, are businessmen, who must be particularly encouraged in their commitment to the service of society and of the common good.

No one ignores the many sacrifices that must be faced to open or maintain one's own business in the market, as "community of persons" that produces goods and services and that, consequently, does not have profit, though necessary, as its sole objective. In particular small and medium businesses are increasingly in need of financing, in as much as credit seems less accessible and competition in the globalized markets is very strong, especially on the part of those countries where there are no -- or minimal -- systems of social protection for workers. From this stems the fact that the high cost of work makes the products and services themselves less competitive, and no small sacrifices are required to not dismiss one's dependent workers and to allow them professional updating.

In this context it is important to be able to conquer that individualist and materialist mentality which suggests removing investments from the real economy to favor the employment of one's capital in the financial markets, dedicated to easier and swifter returns. I take the liberty to remind that instead, the safest ways to address the decline of the business system of one's country consist in networking with other social realities, in intervening in research and innovation, in not practicing unjust competition between businesses, in not forgetting one's social duties and in stimulating a productivity able to respond to the real needs of people.

There are several proofs that the life of a business depends on its attention to all the individuals with whom it establishes relations, of the ethicality of its plan and its activity. The financial crisis itself has shown that in a market shocked by the chain of failures, those economic individuals have endured who are capable of keeping to moral behavior and are attentive to the needs of their own territory. The success of Italian business, especially in some regions, has always been characterized by the importance assigned to the network of relations that it has been able to weave with workers and other business realities, through relations of mutual collaboration and trust. A business can be vital and produce "social wealth" if what guides businessmen and managers is a vision of the future, which prefers long-term investment to speculative profit and that promotes innovation rather than thinking of accumulating wealth for its own sake.

The businessman who is attentive to the common good is called to see his own activity always in the framework of a plural whole. This attitude generates, through personal dedication and fraternity lived concretely in economic and financial choices, a more competitive and at the same time more civilized market, animated by the spirit of service. Clearly a simple business logic presupposes certain motivations, a certain vision of man and of life; that is, a humanism that is born from the awareness of being called as individuals and as community to form part of the one family of God, who has created us in his image and likeness and has redeemed us in Christ; a humanism that revives charity and allows itself to be guided by truth; a humanism open to God and, precisely because of this, open to man and to life understood as a solidaristic and joyous task (cf. No. 78). Development, in any sector of human existence, also implies openness to the transcendent, to the spiritual dimension of life, to trust in God, to love, to fraternity, to hospitality, to justice, to peace (cf. No. 79). I wish to stress all this while we are in Lent, appropriate time for the revision of our own profound attitudes and to question ourselves on the consistency between the aims to which we tend and the means we use.

Distinguished gentlemen and ladies, I leave you these reflections. And while I thank you for your visit, I wish every good for the economic activity, as also for the associative activity, and I impart to you willingly and to your loved ones my Blessing.


Pope's Letter to Conference on the God Question

"When God Disappears From Man's Horizon, Humanity Loses Its Direction"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 11, 2009 - Here is a translation of the message that Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, archbishop of Genoa and president of the Italian episcopal conference, on the occasion of the three-day international congress taking place in Rome through Saturday titled "God Today: With Him or Without Him Everything Changes."

* * *

To the Venerated Brother
Lord Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco
Metropolitan Archbishop of Genoa
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference

On the occasion of the Congress "God Today: With or Without Him Everything Changes," which is taking place in Rome from December 10-12, I wish to express to you, venerated Brother, to the Italian Episcopal Conference and, in particular, to the Committee for the Cultural Project, my profound appreciation for this important initiative, which addresses one of the great topics that has always fascinated and questioned the human spirit.

The question of God is also central in our time, in which man is often reduced to one dimension, the "horizontal," considering openness to the Transcendent as irrelevant for his life. The relationship with God, instead, is essential for humanity's journey and, as I have had the occasion to affirm many times, the Church and every Christian, in fact, have the task to make God present in this world, to attempt to open to men access to God.

Planned from this perspective is the international event of these days. The breadth of the approach to the important topic that characterizes the meeting, will make possible the sketching of a rich and articulated picture of the question of God, but above all it will be a stimulation for a profound reflection on God's place in the culture and life of our time.

On one hand, in fact, an attempt is being made to show the different ways that lead to affirming the truth about the existence of God, that God which humanity has always known in some way, even in the chiaroscuro of his history, and who revealed himself with the splendor of his face in the covenant with the people of Israel and, beyond that, in every measure and hope, in a full and definitive way, in Jesus Christ.

He is the Son of God, the Living who enters into the life and history of man to illumine him with his grace, with his presence. On the other hand, the desire is precisely to bring to light the essential importance that God has for us, for our personal and social life, for understanding ourselves and the world, for the hope that illumines our way, for the salvation that awaits us beyond death.

Directed to these objectives are the numerous interventions, according to the many points of view which will be the object of study and exchange: from philosophical and theological reflection on the witness of the great religions; from the impulse to God, which finds its expression in music, literature, the figurative arts, the cinema and television; to the development of the sciences, which attempt to read in depth the mechanisms of nature, fruit of the intelligent work of God the Creator; from the analysis of the personal experience of God to the consideration of the social and political dynamics of an already globalized world.

In a cultural and spiritual situation such as the one we are living in, where the tendency grows to relegate God to the private sphere, to consider him irrelevant and superfluous, or to reject him explicitly, it is my heartfelt hope that this event might at least contribute to disperse that semi-darkness that makes openness to God precarious and fearful for the men of our time, though he never ceases to knock on our door.

The experiences of the past, although not remote to us, teach us that when God disappears from man's horizon, humanity loses its direction and runs the risk of taking steps to its own destruction. Faith in God opens man to the horizon of certain hope, which does not disappoint; it indicates a solid foundation on which to base life without fear; it calls for abandoning oneself with confidence in the hands of the Love which sustains the world.

To you, cardinal, to all those who have contributed to prepare this congress, to the speakers and to all the participants I express my cordial greeting with the desire for the full success of the initiative. I support the works with prayer and with my apostolic blessing, propitiator of that light from on High, which makes us capable of finding God, our treasure and our hope.

In the Vatican, December 7, 2009


Papal Address to Pontifical Biblical Institute
"Continue on Your Way With Renewed Determination"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2009 - 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.

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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.


Papal Statement to Climate Change Meeting
"The Earth Is Indeed a Precious Gift of the Creator"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 24, 2009 - Here is the text of a videostatement from Benedict XVI that was sent to the Sept. 22 U.N. summit on climate change. It contained the words he said on this issue Aug. 26, 2009, during the Wednesday general audience.

* * *

I wish to reflect today upon the relationship between the Creator and ourselves as guardians of his creation. In so doing I also wish to offer my support to leaders of governments and international agencies who soon will meet at the United Nations to discuss the urgent issue of climate change.

The Earth is indeed a precious gift of the Creator who, in designing its intrinsic order, has given us guidelines that assist us as stewards of his creation. Precisely from within this framework, the Church considers that matters concerning the environment and its protection are intimately linked with integral human development. In my recent encyclical,Caritas in Veritate, I referred to such questions recalling the "pressing moral need for renewed solidarity" (no. 49) not only between countries but also between individuals, since the natural environment is given by God to everyone, and so our use of it entails a personal responsibility towards humanity as a whole, particularly towards the poor and towards future generations (cf. no. 48).

How important it is then, that the international community and individual governments send the right signals to their citizens and succeed in countering harmful ways of treating the environment! The economic and social costs of using up shared resources must be recognized with transparency and borne by those who incur them, and not by other peoples or future generations. The protection of the environment, and the safeguarding of resources and of the climate, oblige all leaders to act jointly, respecting the law and promoting solidarity with the weakest regions of the world (cf. no. 50). Together we can build an integral human development beneficial for all peoples, present and future, a development inspired by the values of charity in truth. For this to happen it is essential that the current model of global development be transformed through a greater, and shared, acceptance of responsibility for creation: this is demanded not only by environmental factors, but also by the scandal of hunger and human misery.

With these sentiments I wish to encourage all the participants in the United Nations summit to enter into their discussions constructively and with generous courage. Indeed, we are all called to exercise responsible stewardship of creation, to use resources in such a way that every individual and community can live with dignity, and to develop "that covenant between human beings and the environment, which should mirror the creative love of God" (Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, 7)!

Thank you.

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address at End of Marian Month

"She Is Blessed Because She Believed"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2008 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday evening during a gathering in St. Peter's Square marking the conclusion of May, the month dedicated to the Mary.

* * *

 Dear Brothers and Sisters!
We conclude the month of May with this suggestive meeting of Marian prayer. I greet you with affection and I thank you for your participation. I greet, first of all, Cardinal Angelo Comastri; along with him I also greet the other cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests who have participated in this evening celebration.

I extend my greeting to all consecrated persons and to you, my dear lay faithful, who have desired to offer homage to the Most Holy Virgin with your presence. This day we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin and the memorial of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

All of this invites us to cast our gaze upon Mary with trust. To her, again this evening, we turn with the ancient and always relevant holy practice of the rosary. The rosary, when it is not a mechanical repetition of traditional formulas, is a biblical meditation that permits us to reflect on the events of the Lord’’s life in the company of the Blessed Virgin, treasuring them, as she did, in our heart.

In many Christian communities there is the beautiful custom of reciting the rosary in a more solemn way together with the family and in parishes. Now that the month is ending, this good practice should not also end; indeed it should be continued with a still greater commitment, so that, in the school of Mary, the lamp of faith may shine ever brighter in the heart of Christians and in their houses.
On today’’s feast of the Visitation the liturgy invites us to listen again to the passage of the Gospel of Luke that retells the journey of Mary from Nazareth to the house of he elderly cousin Elizabeth. Let us imagine the state of the Virgin after the Annunciation, when the angel left her. Mary found herself with a great mystery in her womb; she knew that something extraordinarily unique had happened; she realized that the last chapter in the history of the world’’s salvation had begun. But everything around her remained as it was before, and the village of Nazareth knew nothing of that which had happened to her.
Before being concerned about herself, Mary thinks rather of the elderly Elizabeth, whom she knew was already in an advanced stage of pregnancy, and, driven by the mystery of love that she had just received into herself, she made her way ““with haste”” to go help Elizabeth. This is the simple and sublime greatness of Mary!

When she arrived at Elizabeth’’s house, something happened that no painter could ever render with the same beauty and profundity as the actual event. The interior light of the Holy Spirit enveloped them. And Elizabeth, enlightened from on high, exclaims: ““Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! To what do I owe this visit of my Lord’’s mother to me? As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the child leapt for joy in my womb. Blessed is she who believed in the fulfillment of the Lord’’s words”” (Luke 1:42-45).
These words might seem to be excessive to us given the actual context. Elizabeth is one of the many elderly women in Israel, and Mary is an unknown girl from a remote village of Galilee. What can they be and what can they do in a world in which other persons count and other powers hold sway? Nevertheless, Mary once again stupefies us; her heart is limpid, totally open to God’’s light; her soul is without sin, not weighed down by pride and by egoism.

Elizabeth’’s words ignite a canticle of praise in her heart, which is an authentic and profound ““theological”” reading of history: a reading that we must continually learn from her whose faith is without shadows and without cracks. ““My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”” Mary acknowledges God’’s greatness. This is the first indispensable sentiment of faith; the sentiment that gives certainty to the human creature and liberates the creature from fear, even in the midst of history’’s storms.
Going beyond the surface, Mary “sees” with the eyes of faith God’’s work in history. For this reason she is blessed, because she believed: by faith, in fact, she welcomed the word of the Lord and conceived the incarnate Word. Her faith allowed her to see that the thrones of the powerful of this world are all provisional, while the throne of God is the only rock that does not change and does not fall. And Mary’’s “Magnificat,” after centuries and millennia, remains the truest and the deepest interpretation of history, while the readings of the many wise persons of this world have been disproved by the facts over the course of the centuries.
Dear brothers and sisters! Let us return home with the Magnificat in our heart. Let us carry in us Mary’’s same sentiments of praise and thanksgiving to the Lord, her faith and her hope, her docile abandonment into the hands of divine providence. Let us imitate her example of availability and generosity in serving our brothers and sisters. In fact, we are only able to raise a canticle of praise to the Lord by welcoming God’’s love and making of our existence a disinterested and generous service of neighbor. May the Madonna obtain this grace for us, she who this night invites us to find refuge in her immaculate heart.


Benedict XVI on the Rosary
"This Prayer Helps to Put Christ at the Center"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 13, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's May 3 address at the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where he prayed the rosary with the faithful.

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Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Saturday, 3 May 2008

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

At the conclusion of this moment of Marian prayer, I would like to address my cordial greeting to all of you and thank you for your participation. In particular I greet Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Archpriest of this stupendous Basilica of St Mary Major. In Rome this is the Marian temple par excellence, in which the people of the City venerate the icon of Mary Salus Populi Romani with great affection. I gladly welcomed the invitation addressed to me to lead the Holy Rosary on the First Saturday of the month of May, according to the beautiful tradition that I have had since my childhood. In fact, in my generation's experience, the evenings of May evoke sweet memories linked to the vespertine gatherings to honour the Blessed Mother. Indeed, how is it possible to forget praying the Rosary in the parish or rather in the courtyards of the houses and in the country lanes?

Today, together we confirm that the Holy Rosary is not a pious practice banished to the past, like prayers of other times thought of with nostalgia. Instead, the Rosary is experiencing a new Springtime. Without a doubt, this is one of the most eloquent signs of love that the young generation nourish for Jesus and his Mother, Mary. In the current world, so dispersive, this prayer helps to put Christ at the centre, as the Virgin did, who meditated within all that was said about her Son, and also what he did and said. When reciting the Rosary, the important and meaningful moments of salvation history are relived. The various steps of Christ's mission are traced. With Mary the heart is oriented toward the mystery of Jesus. Christ is put at the centre of our life, of our time, of our city, through the contemplation and meditation of his holy mysteries of joy, light, sorrow and glory. May Mary help us to welcome within ourselves the grace emanating from these mysteries, so that through us we can "water" society, beginning with our daily relationships, and purifying them from so many negative forces, thus opening them to the newness of God. The Rosary, when it is prayed in an authentic way, not mechanical and superficial but profoundly, it brings, in fact, peace and reconciliation. It contains within itself the healing power of the Most Holy Name of Jesus, invoked with faith and love at the centre of each "Hail Mary".

Dear brothers and sisters, let us thank God who has allowed us to live such a beautiful hour this evening, and in the following evenings of this Marian month, even if we will be far away, each in their own family and community, may we, just the same, feel close and united in prayer. Especially in these days that prepare us for the Solemnity of Pentecost, let us remain united with Mary, invoking for the Church a renewed effusion of the Holy Spirit. As at the origins, Mary Most Holy helps the faithful of every Christian community to form one heart and soul. I entrust to you the most urgent intentions of my ministry, the needs of the Church, the grave problems of humanity: peace in the world, unity among Christians, dialogue between all cultures. And thinking of Rome and Italy, I invite you to pray for the pastoral goals of the Diocese, and for the united development of this beloved Country. To the new Mayor of Rome, Honourable Gianni Alemanno, who I see present here, I address the wish of a fruitful service for the good of the city's entire community. To all of you gathered here and to those who are linked to us by radio and television, in particular the sick and the infirm, I gladly impart the Apostolic Blessing.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


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


Papal Address to Participants in Congress on Women
"Recall the Design of God That Created the Human Being Male and Female"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 10, 2008- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday upon receiving in audience participants from the international conference that marked the 20th anniversary of the publication of Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem."

The conference, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity and titled "Woman and Man, the 'Humanum' in Its Entirety," ended Saturday.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

With true pleasure I welcome all of you who are taking part in the international conference on the theme "Man and Woman: The ‘Humanum' in Its Entirety," which has been organized on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the publication of the apostolic letter "Mulieris Dignitatem." I greet Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and I am grateful to him for being the interpreter of shared sentiments. I greet the council's secretary, Bishop Josef Clemens, and the members and the collaborators of this dicastery. In particular I greet the women, who are the great majority of those present, and who have enriched the conference's proceedings with their experience and competence.

The question on which you are reflecting has great contemporary relevance: From the second half of the 20th century until today, the movement for women's rights in the various settings of social life has generated countless reflections and debates, and it has seen the multiplication of many initiatives that the Catholic Church has followed and often accompanied with attentive interest. The male-female relationship, in its respective specificity, reciprocity and complementarity, without a doubt constitutes a central point of the "anthropological question" that is so decisive in contemporary culture. The papal interventions and documents that have touched on the emerging reality of the question of women are numerous.

I limit myself to recall those of my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, who, in June 1995 wrote a "Letter to Women," and in Aug. 15, 1988, exactly 20 years ago, published the apostolic letter "Mulieris dignitatem." This text on the vocation and the dignity of women, of great theological, spiritual and cultural richness, in its turn inspired the "Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World" of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

In "Mulieris Dignitatem," John Paul II wanted to delve into the fundamental anthropological truths of men and women, the equality in dignity and their unity, the rooted and profound difference between the masculine and the feminine and their vocation to reciprocity and complementarity, collaboration and communion (cf. "Mulieris Dignitatem," No. 6). This dual-unity of man and woman is based on the foundation of the dignity of every person, created in the image and likeness of God, who "created them male and female" (Genesis 1:27), as much avoiding an indistinct uniformity and flattened-out and impoverished equality as an abysmal and conflictive difference (cf. "Letter to Women," No. 8). This dual-unity carries with it, inscribed in bodies and souls, the relation with the other, love for the other, interpersonal communion that shows that "the creation of man is also marked by a certain likeness to the divine communion" ("Mulieris Dignitatem," No. 7). When, therefore, men or women pretend to be autonomous or totally self-sufficient, they risk being closed up in a self-realization that considers the overcoming of every natural, social or religious bond as a conquest of freedom, but which in fact reduces them to an oppressive solitude. To foster and support the true promotion of women and men one cannot fail to take this reality into account.

Certainly a renewed anthropological research is necessary that, on the basis of the great Christian tradition, incorporates the new advances of science and the datum of contemporary cultural sensibilities, contributing in this way to the deepened understanding not only of feminine identity but also masculine identity, which is frequently the object of partial and ideological reflections.

In the face of cultural and political currents that attempt to eliminate, or at least to obfuscate and confuse, the sexual differences written into human nature, considering them to be cultural constructions, it is necessary to recall the design of God that created the human being male and female, with a unity and at the same time an original and complementary difference. Human nature and the cultural dimension are integrated in an ample and complex process that constitutes the formation of the identity of each, where both dimensions -- the feminine and the masculine -- correspond to and complete each other.

Opening the work of the 5th General Conference of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate last May in Brazil, I recalled how there still persists a macho mentality that ignores the novelty of Christianity, which recognizes and proclaims the equal dignity and responsibility of women with respect to men. There are certain places and cultures where women are discriminated against and undervalued just for the fact that they are women, where recourse is even had to religious arguments and family, social and cultural pressures to support the disparity between the sexes, where there is consumption of acts of violence against women, making them into objects of abuse and exploitation in advertising and in the consumer and entertainment industries. In the face of such grave and persistent phenomena the commitment of Christians appears all the more urgent, so that they become everywhere the promoters of a culture that recognizes the dignity that belongs to women in law and in reality.

God entrusts to women and to men, according to the characteristics that are proper to each, a specific vocation in the mission of the Church and in the world. I think here of the family, community of love, open to life, fundamental cell of society. In it, woman and man, thanks to the gift of maternity and paternity, together play an irreplaceable role in regard to life. From the moment of their conception, children have a right to count on a father and a mother who care for them and accompany them in their growth. The state, for its part, must sustain with adequate social policies all that which promotes the stability of matrimony, the dignity and the responsibility of the husband and wife, their rights and irreplaceable duty to educate their children. Moreover, it is necessary that it be made possible for the woman to cooperate in the building-up of society, appreciating her typical "feminine genius."

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you once more for your visit and, while I wish you complete success in the work of the conference, I assure you of a remembrance in prayer, invoking the maternal intercession of Mary, that she help the women of our time to realize their vocation and their mission in the ecclesial and civil community. With such vows, I impart to you here present and to your loved ones a special apostolic blessing.


Benedict XVI's Planned Lecture at La Sapienza
"The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness Is True"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the speech Benedict XVI planned to deliver Thursday at La Sapienza University in Rome. The Vatican reported Tuesday that the visit would be postponed due to what the Pope's secretary of state called a lack of the "prerequisites for a dignified and tranquil welcome."

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Magnificent Rector,
Political and Civil Authorities,
Illustrious Professors and Administrative Staff,
Dear Young Students!

It is a source of great joy for me this encounter with the community of La Sapienza -- University of Rome -- on the occasion of the inauguration of the academic year. For centuries now this university marks the journey and the life of the city of Rome, bringing the best intellectual energies to bear fruit in every field of knowledge.

Whether in the period when, after its foundation at the behest of Pope Boniface VIII, it depended directly on ecclesiastical authority, or whether when the "Studium Urbis" later developed as an institute of the Italian state, your academic community has maintained a high scientific and cultural level, which places it among the most prestigious universities of the world.

The Church of Rome has always looked upon this university center with affection and admiration, recognizing the commitment -- sometimes arduous and demanding -- to research and to the formation of new generations. Significant moments of collaboration and dialogue have not been lacking in recent years. I would like to recall, in particular, the International Meeting of Rectors on the occasion of the Jubilee of Universities that saw your community take charge, not only of welcoming and organizing, but above all of the prophetic and complex task of elaborating a "new humanism for the third millennium."

It is a pleasure, in this circumstance, to express my gratitude for the invitation you have offered to me to come to your university to give a lecture. In this regard I asked myself first of all the question: What can, and must, a Pope say on an occasion like this? In my lecture at Regensburg I spoke, indeed, as Pope, but above all I spoke as a former professor of that university of mine, trying to bring together memories and current events. At La Sapienza, the ancient university of Rome, however, I am invited precisely as Bishop of Rome, and because of this I must speak as such. Certainly, La Sapienza was once the Pope's university, but today it is a secular university with that autonomy that, on the basis of its foundational concept itself, has always been part of the university, which must be bound exclusively to the authority of the truth. In its freedom from political and ecclesiastical authorities, the university finds its particular function, precisely for modern society as well, which needs an institution of this type.

I return to my initial question: What can and must the Pope say in meeting with the university of his city? Reflecting on this question, it seemed to me that it included two others, whose clarification must lead by itself to the answer. It must, in fact, be asked: What is the nature and the mission of the Papacy? And still further: What is the nature and the mission of the university? In this place I do not wish to detain you and me with long disquisitions on the nature of the Papacy. A brief remark will suffice.

The Pope is first of all Bishop of Rome and as such, in virtue of succession to the Apostle Peter, has an episcopal responsibility in regard to the whole Catholic Church. The word "bishop" – "episkopos" in Greek, which primarily means "overseer" -- has already in the New Testament been fused together with the biblical concept of shepherd: He is the one who, from a higher vantage point, considers the whole, concerning himself with the right path and of the cohesion of the whole. In this sense, such a designation of his task orientates him first of all to the entirety of the believing community. The bishop -- the shepherd -- is the man who takes care of this community; he who maintains its unity and keeps it on the way toward God, indicated, according to the faith, by Jesus -- and not only indicated by Jesus: Jesus himself is the way for us.

But this community with which the bishop concerns himself -- large or small as it may be -- lives in the world; its state, its example and its word inevitably influence all the rest of the human community in its entirety. The bigger it is, the more that its good state or its possible degradation have repercussions for the whole of humanity. Today we see with great clarity how the conditions of the religions and how the situation of the Church -- her crises and her renewals -- affect the whole of humanity. Thus the Pope, precisely as shepherd of his community, has also become more and more a voice of the ethical reason of humanity.

Here, however, there immediately surfaces the objection, according to which, the Pope would not truly speak on the basis of ethical reason, but would take his judgments from the faith, and because of this he could not pretend that they are valid for those who do not share this faith. We must return to this issue later because here the absolutely fundamental question is posed: What is reason? How can a claim -- above all a moral norm -- show itself to be "reasonable"?

At this moment I would like to only briefly note that John Rawls, although denying to comprehensive religious doctrines the character of "public" reason, nevertheless sees at least in their "nonpublic" reason a reason that cannot, in the name of a secularly hardened rationality, simply be disregarded by those who support it.

He sees a criterion for this reasonableness in, among other things, the fact that similar doctrines derive from a responsible and validly grounded tradition in which, over a long period of time, sufficiently good argumentation has developed to support the respective doctrine. What seems important to me in this affirmation is the recognition that experience and demonstration over the course of generations, the historical background of human wisdom, are also a sign of its reasonableness and its enduring significance. In the face of an a-historical reason that tries to construct itself through a-historical rationality, the wisdom of humanity as such -- the wisdom of the great religious traditions -- is to be valued as a reality that cannot be with impunity thrown into the dustbin of the history of ideas.

Let us return to the initial question. The Pope speaks as a representative of a believing community in which, over the centuries of its existence, a determinate wisdom of life has matured; he speaks as the representative of a community that bears within itself a treasury of ethical knowledge and experience that turns out to be important for the whole of humanity: in this sense he speaks as a representative of ethical reason.

But now we must ask ourselves: And what is the university? What is its task? It is a huge question to which, once again, I can try to respond only in an almost telegraphic way with some observations. I think that it can be said that the true, interior origin of the university is in the desire for knowledge that is native to man. He wants to know what it is that surrounds him. He wants truth. In this sense we can see that Socrates' self-questioning as the impulse from which the Western university was born.

I think, for example -- to mention only one text -- of the debate with Euthyphro, who defends mythical religion and his piety before Socrates. Against this Socrates poses the question: "Do you really believe that the gods fight with one another, and have awful quarrels and battles? … Must we in fact say, Euthyphro, that all that is true?" ("Euthyphro," 6b-c). In this apparently impious question -- which in Socrates derived from a more profound and more pure religiosity, from the search for the truly divine God -- the Christians of the first centuries recognized themselves and their path. They did not understand their faith in a positivistic way, or as an escape from frustrated desires; they understood it as the dispersal of the fog of mythological religion to give room for the discovery of that God who is creative Reason and at the same time Reason-Love.

On account of this, reason's asking itself about the greater God, as its asking about the true nature and the true meaning of the human being, was not a problematic form of a lack of religiosity for those early Christians, but was part of the essence of their way of being religious. They did not need, then, to throw off or put aside Socratic self-questioning, but were able -- or rather, had to -- accept as part of their own identity reason's difficult search to reach knowledge of the whole truth. In this way, in the domain of Christian faith, in the Christian world, the university was able to -- or rather, had to -- be born.

It is necessary to take a further step. Man wants to know -- he wants truth. Truth is first of all a thing of seeing, of understanding, of "theoria," as it is called by the Greek tradition. But the truth is never only theoretic. Augustine, in making a correlation between the beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount and the gifts of the Spirit mentioned in Isaiah 11, affirmed a reciprocity between "scientia" and "tristitia": mere knowing, he says, makes one sad. And, in fact, those who only see and apprehend everything that happens in the world ends up becoming sad. But truth means more than knowing: Knowledge of the truth has knowledge of the good as its scope. This is also the meaning of Socratic self-questioning: What is that good that makes us true? The truth makes us good and goodness is true: This is the optimism that lives in Christian faith, because to it has been conceded the vision of the Logos, of creative Reason that, in the incarnation of God, has revealed himself as the Good, as Goodness Itself.

In medieval theology there was a substantial debate about the relationship between theory and practice, about the right relation between knowing and acting -- a debate that we cannot develop here. In fact, the medieval university, with its four faculties, presents this correlation. Let us start with the faculty that, according to the understanding of the time, was the fourth, namely, medicine. Even if it was considered more of an "art" than a science, nevertheless, its insertion in the cosmos of the "universitas" clearly signified that it was placed in the context of rationality, that the art of healing was under the guidance of reason, and was removed from the context of magic. Healing is a task that demands more and more from simple reason, but precisely because of this it needs the connection between knowing and power, it needs to belong to the sphere of "ratio."

In the faculty of jurisprudence the question of the relationship between practice and theory, between knowing and acting, inevitably appears. It is a matter of giving the right form to human freedom, which is always a freedom in reciprocal communion: Law is the presupposition of freedom, not its antagonist. Be here the question immediately arises: How can we identify the criteria of justice that make a freedom lived together possible and serve man's well-being. At this point a leap into the present imposes itself: It is the question of how a juridical norm that constitutes an ordering of freedom, of human dignity and of the rights of man can be found. It is the question that concerns us today in the democratic processes of the formation of opinion and that at the same time makes us anxious as a question for the future of humanity.

Jürgen Habermas expresses, in my view, a vast consensus of current thought when he says that the legitimacy of a constitutional charter, as a presupposition of legality, would be derived from two sources: from the egalitarian political participation of all citizens and from the reasonable form in which political conflicts get resolved. In regard to this "reasonable form" he notes that it cannot only be a struggle for arithmetic majorities, but it must be characterized by a "process of argumentation that is sensitive to the truth" ("wahrheitssensibles Argumentationsverfahren"). This is well said, but it is a difficult thing to transform into a political practice.

The representatives of that public "process of argumentation" are -- we know -- predominantly the parties as those in charge of the formation of the political will. In fact, they will unfailingly have as their aim above all the obtaining of majorities and so will almost inevitably be preoccupied with the interests that they promise to satisfy; such interests, however, are often particular and do not truly serve the whole. The sensitivity to truth is again and again defeated by the sensitivity to interests. I find it significant that Habermas speaks about the sensitivity to the truth as a necessary element of the process of political argumentation, reinserting thus the concept of truth into the philosophical debate and into the political debate.

But then Pilate's question becomes inevitable: What is truth? How is it recognized? If in answer to these questions one refers to "public reason," as Rawls does, once more there necessarily follows the question: What is reasonable? How does a reason show itself to be true reason? In any case, on this basis it is made evident that, in the search for the law of freedom, for the truth of just communal life, voices besides those of parties and interest groups must be heard, but without thereby contesting the importance of the parties and interest groups. Let us return to the structure of the medieval university.

Alongside the faculty of jurisprudence were the faculties of philosophy and theology, to whom was entrusted the study of man's being in its totality and, along with this, the task of keeping the sensitivity to truth alive. It could even be said that this is the permanent and true meaning of both faculties: being guardians of the sensitivity to truth, not allowing man to be deterred from the search for truth. But how can they live up to this task? This is a question for which it is necessary again and again to labor, and which is never definitively posed or resolved. Thus, at this point, neither can I properly offer an answer, but an invitation to stay on the road with this question -- the road along which the great ones have struggled and searched throughout the whole of history, with their answers and their restlessness for the truth, which continually refers beyond any single answer.

Theology and philosophy form, because of this, a peculiar pair of twins, neither of which can be totally separated from the other and, nevertheless, each must preserve its proper task and proper identity. It is the historical merit of St. Thomas Aquinas -- vis-à-vis the various responses of the Fathers due to their historical context -- to have illumined the autonomy of philosophy, and with it the proper right and the responsibility of reason that questions itself on the basis of its powers. Differentiating themselves from the Neoplatonic philosophies, in which religion and philosophy were inseparably intertwined, the Fathers presented the Christian faith as the true philosophy, underscoring also that this faith corresponds to the exigencies of reason in search of the truth; that faith is the "yes" to the truth, compared with the mythic religions that had become mere custom.

But then, with the birth of the university, those religions no longer existed in the West, but just Christianity alone, and thus it was necessary to emphasize in a new way the proper responsibility of reason, that must not be absorbed by faith. Thomas found himself acting in a privileged moment: For the first time the whole corpus of Aristotle's philosophical writings were available; Jewish and Arab philosophies were present as specific appropriations and continuations of Greek philosophy. In this way Christianity, in a new dialogue with the reason of others, with which it came into contact, had to struggle for its own reasonableness.

The faculty of philosophy, which, as the so-called "faculty of arts," until that moment had only been a propedeutic to theology, now became a true and proper faculty, an autonomous partner of theology and of faith in this reaction. We cannot pause here over the absorbing confrontation that resulted. I would say that St. Thomas' idea of the relationship between philosophy and theology could be expressed in the Council of Chalcedon's formula for Christology: Philosophy and theology must relate to each other "without confusion and without separation." "Without confusion" means that both of them preserve their proper identity. Philosophy must truly remain an undertaking of reason in its proper freedom and proper responsibility; it must recognize its limits, and precisely in this way also its grandeur and vastness. Theology must continue to draw from the treasury of knowledge that it did not invent itself, that always surpasses it and that, never being totally exhaustible through reflection, and precisely because of this, launches thinking.

Together with the "without confusion," the "without separation" is also in force: Philosophy does not begin again from zero with the subject thinking in isolation, but rather stands in the great dialogue of historical wisdom, that again and again it both critically and docilely receives and develops; but it must not close itself off from that which the religions, and the Christian faith in particular, have received and bequeathed on humanity as an indication of the way. Various things said by theologians in the course of history and also things handed down in the practice of ecclesial authorities, have been shown to be false by history and today they confuse us. But at the same time it is true that the history of the saints, the history of the humanism that grew up on the basis of the Christian faith, demonstrates the truth of this faith in its essential nucleus, thereby making it an example for public reason. Certainly, much of what theology and faith say can only be accepted within faith and therefore it cannot present itself as an exigency to those for whom this faith still remains inaccessible. At the same time it is true, however, that the message of the Christian faith is never only a "comprehensive religious doctrine" in the sense of Rawls, but a purifying force for reason itself, that helps reason to be more itself. The Christian message, on the basis of its origin, must always be an encouragement toward the truth and thus a force against the pressure of power and interests.

Well, I have only been talking about the medieval university, trying nevertheless to make transparent the permanent nature of the university and its task. In modern times new dimensions of knowledge have been disclosed that in the university have been valued above all in two great fields: first of all in the natural sciences, which have developed on the basis of the connection of experimentation and the presupposed rationality of matter; in the second place in the historical and humanistic sciences, in which man, scrutinizing the mirror of his history and clarifying the dimensions of his nature, attempts to understand himself better. In this development there has opened to humanity not only an immense measure of knowledge and power; the knowledge and recognition of the rights and dignity of man have also grown, and we can only be grateful for this.

But man's journey can never suppose itself to be at an end and the danger of falling into inhumanity is never simply overcome -- as we see in the panorama of contemporary history! Today the danger of the Western world -- to speak only of this context -- is that man, precisely in the consideration of the grandeur of his knowledge and power, might give up before the question of truth. And that means at the same time that reason, in the end, bows to the pressure of interests and the charm of utility, constrained to recognize it as the ultimate criterion. To put this in terms of the point of view of the structure of the university: The danger exists that philosophy, no longer feeling itself capable of its true task, might degenerate into positivism; that theology, with its message addressed to reason, might become confined to the private sphere of a group more or less sizable. If, however, reason -- solicitous of its presumed purity -- becomes deaf to the great message that comes from the Christian faith and its wisdom, it will wither like a tree whose roots no longer reach the waters that give it life. It will lose courage for the truth and thus it will not become greater but less. Applied to our European culture this means: If it wants only to construct itself on the basis of the circle of its own arguments and that which convinces it at the moment -- worried about its secularity -- it will cut itself off from the roots by which it lives; then it will not become more reasonable and more pure, but it will break apart and disintegrate.

With this I return to the point of departure. What does the Pope have to do with, or have to say to the university? Surely he must not attempt to impose the faith on others in an authoritarian way since it can only be bestowed in freedom. Beyond his office as Shepherd of the Church, and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of this pastoral office, there is his duty to keep the sensitivity to truth alive; to continually invite reason to seek out the true, the good, God, and on this path, to urge it to glimpse the helpful lights that shine forth in the history of the Christian faith, and in this way to perceive Jesus Christ as the Light that illuminates history and helps us to find the way to the future.

From the Vatican, January 17, 2008



Papal Homily in Velletri
"We Have Believed in Love: This Is the Essence of Christianity"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2007 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Sept. 23 homily during his visit to the Diocese of Velletri-Segni.

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St Clement's Square
Sunday, 23 September 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I willingly return among you to preside at this solemn Eucharistic celebration, responding to one of your repeated invitations. I have come back with joy to meet your diocesan community, which for several years has been mine, too, in a special way, and is always dear to me. I greet you all with affection. In the first place, I greet Cardinal Francis Arinze who has succeeded me as titular Cardinal of this Diocese; I greet your Pastor, dear Bishop Vincenzo Apicella, whom I thank for his beautiful words of welcome with which he has desired to greet me in your name. I greet the other Bishops, priests and men and women religious, the pastoral workers, young people and all who are actively involved in parishes, movements, associations and the various diocesan activities. I greet the Commissioner of the Prefecture of Velletri-Segni and the other civil and military Authorities who honour us with their presence. I greet all those who have come from other places, in particular from Bavaria, from Germany, to join us on this festive day. Bonds of friendship bind my native Land to yours, as is testified by the bronze pillar presented to me in Marktl am Inn in September last year on the occasion of my Apostolic Visit to Germany. As has been said, 100 municipalities of Bavaria have recently given me, as it were, a "twin" of that pillar which will be set up here in Velletri as a further sign of my affection and goodwill. It will be the sign of my spiritual presence among you. In this regard, I would like to thank the donors, the sculptor and the mayors whom I see present here with numerous friends. I thank you all!

Dear brothers and sisters, I know that you have prepared for my Visit today with an intense spiritual itinerary, adopting a very important verse of John's First Letter as your motto: "We know and believe the love God has for us" (4: 16). Deus caritas est, God is love: my first Encyclical begins with these words that concern the core of our faith: the Christian image of God and the consequent image of man and his journey. I rejoice that you have chosen these very words to guide you on the spiritual and pastoral journey of the Diocese: "We know and believe the love God has for us". We have believed in love: this is the essence of Christianity. Therefore, our liturgical assembly today must focus on this essential truth, on the love of God, capable of impressing an absolutely new orientation and value on human life. Love is the essence of Christianity, which makes the believer and the Christian community a leaven of hope and peace in every environment and especially attentive to the needs of the poor and needy. This is our common mission: to be a leaven of hope and peace because we believe in love. Love makes the Church live, and since it is eternal it makes her live for ever, to the end of time.

Last Sunday, St Luke the Evangelist, who was more concerned than others to show Jesus' love for the poor, offered us various ideas for reflection on the danger of an excessive attachment to money, to material goods and to all that prevents us from living to the full our vocation to love God and neighbour. Today too, through a parable that inspires in us a certain surprise since it speaks of a dishonest steward who is praised (cf. Lk 16: 1-13), a close look reveals that here the Lord has reserved a serious and particularly salutary teaching for us. As always, the Lord draws inspiration from the events of daily life: he tells of a steward who is on the point of being dismissed for dishonest management of his master's affairs and who, to assure a future for himself, cunningly seeks to come to an arrangement with his master's debtors. He is undoubtedly dishonest but clever: the Gospel does not present him to us as a model to follow in his dishonesty, but rather as an example to be imitated for his farsighted guile. The short parable ends, in fact, with these words: "The master commended the dishonest steward for his prudence" (Lk 16: 8).

But what does Jesus wish to tell us with this parable? And with its surprising conclusion? The Evangelist follows the parable of the dishonest steward with a short series of sayings and recommendations on the relationship we must have with money and the goods of this earth. These short sentences are an invitation to a choice that presupposes a radical decision, a constant inner tension. Life is truly always a choice: between honesty and dishonesty, between fidelity and infidelity, between selfishness and altruism, between good and evil. The conclusion of this Gospel passage is incisive and peremptory: "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other". Ultimately, Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon" (Lk 16: 13). Mammon is a term of Phoenician origin that calls to mind economic security and success in business; we might say that riches are shown as the idol to which everything is sacrificed in order to attain one's own material success; hence, this economic success becomes a person's true god. As a result, it is necessary to make a fundamental decision between God and mammon, it is necessary to choose between the logic of profit as the ultimate criterion for our action, and the logic of sharing and solidarity. If the logic of profit prevails, it widens the gap between the poor and the rich, as well as increasing the ruinous exploitation of the planet. On the other hand, when the logic of sharing and solidarity prevails, it is possible to correct the course and direct it to a fair development for the common good of all. Basically, it is a matter of choosing between selfishness and love, between justice and dishonesty and ultimately, between God and Satan. If loving Christ and one's brethren is not to be considered as something incidental and superficial but, rather, the true and ultimate purpose of our whole existence, it will be necessary to know how to make basic choices, to be prepared to make radical renouncements, if necessary even to the point of martyrdom. Today, as yesterday, Christian life demands the courage to go against the tide, to love like Jesus, who even went so far as to sacrifice himself on the Cross.

We could then say, paraphrasing one of St Augustine's thoughts, that through earthly riches we must procure for ourselves those true and eternal riches: indeed, if people exist who are prepared to resort to every type of dishonesty to assure themselves an always unpredictable material well-being, how much more concerned we Christians must be to provide for our eternal happiness with the goods of this earth (cf. Discourses, 359, 10). Now, the only way of bringing our personal talents and abilities and the riches we possess to fruition for eternity is to share them with our brethren, thereby showing that we are good stewards of what God entrusts to us. Jesus said: "He who is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and he who is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much" (Lk 16: 10).

Today, in the First Reading, the Prophet Amos speaks of the same fundamental decision to be made day by day. Using strong words, he stigmatizes a lifestyle typical of those who allow themselves to be absorbed by a selfish quest for profit in every possible form and which is expressed in the thirst for gain, contempt for the poor and their exploitation, to one's own advantage (cf. Am 8: 5). The Christian must energetically reject all this, opening his heart on the contrary to sentiments of authentic generosity. It must be generosity which, as the Apostle Paul exhorts in the Second Reading, is expressed in sincere love for all and is manifested in prayer. Actually, praying for others is a great act of charity. The Apostle invites us in the first place to pray for those who have tasks of responsibility in the civil community because, he explains, if they aspire to do good, positive consequences derive from their decisions, assuring peace and "a quiet and peaceable life, godly and respectful in every way" (I Tm 2: 2). Thus, may our prayer never be lacking, a spiritual contribution to building an Ecclesial Community that is faithful to Christ and to the construction of a society in which there is greater justice and solidarity.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray in particular that your diocesan community, which is undergoing a series of transformations due to the transfer of many young families from Rome to the development of the "service sector" and to the settlement of many immigrants in historical centres, may lead to an increasingly organic and shared pastoral action, following the instructions that your Bishop continues to give you with outstanding pastoral sensitivity. His Pastoral Letter of last December proved more timely than ever in this regard, with the invitation to listen with attention and perseverance to God's Word, to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and to the Church's Magisterium. Let us place your every intention and pastoral project in the hands of Our Lady of Grace, whose image is preserved and venerated in your beautiful Cathedral. May Mary's maternal protection accompany the journey of you who are present here and all those who have been unable to participate in our Eucharistic celebration today. May the Holy Virgin watch over the sick, the elderly, children, everyone who feels lonely or neglected or who is in particular need. May Mary deliver us from the greed for riches and ensure that in raising to Heaven hands that are free and pure, we may glorify God with our whole life (cf. Collect). Amen!


Pope's Address to Rome Diocesan Convention
"There Is Talk of a Great 'Educational Emergency'"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to Rome's diocesan convention on June 11 at the Basilica of St. John Lateran.

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Basilica of Saint John Lateran
Monday, 11 June 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

For the third consecutive year our diocesan Convention gives me the possibility of meeting and speaking to you all, addressing the theme on which the Church of Rome will be focusing in the coming pastoral year, in close continuity with the work carried out in the year now drawing to a close.

I greet with affection each one of you, Bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious, lay people who generously take part in the Church's mission. I thank the Cardinal Vicar in particular for the words he has addressed to me on behalf of you all.

The theme of the Convention is "Jesus is Lord: educating in the faith, in the "sequela', in witnessing": a theme that concerns us all because every disciple professes that Jesus is Lord and is called to grow in adherence to him, giving and receiving help from the great company of brothers and sisters in the faith.

Nevertheless, the verb "to educate", as part of the title of the Convention, suggests special attention to children, boys and girls and young people, and highlights the duty proper first of all to the family: thus, we are continuing the programme that has been a feature of the pastoral work of our Diocese in recent years.

It is important to start by reflecting on the first affirmation, which gives our Convention its tone and meaning: "Jesus is Lord". We find it in the solemn declaration that concludes Peter's discourse at Pentecost, in which the head of the Apostles said: "Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified" (Acts 2:36). The conclusion of the great hymn to Christ contained in Paul's Letter to the Philippians is similar: "every tongue [should] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (2: 11).

Again, in the final salutation of his First Letter to the Corinthians, St Paul exclaimed: "If any one has no love for the Lord, let him be accursed. Maranà tha: Our Lord, come!" (I Corinthians 16:22), thereby handing on to us the very ancient Aramaic invocation of Jesus as Lord.

Various other citations could be added: I am thinking of the 12th chapter of the same Letter to the Corinthians in which St Paul says: "No one can say "Jesus is Lord' except by the Holy Spirit" (I Corinthians 12:3).

Thus, the Apostle declares that this is the fundamental confession of the Church, guided by the Holy Spirit. We might think also of the 10th chapter of the Letter to the Romans where the Apostle says, "if you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord" (Romans 10:9), thus reminding the Christians of Rome that these words, "Jesus is Lord", form the common confession of the Church, the sure foundation of the Church's entire life.

The whole confession of the Apostolic Creed, of the Nicene Creed, developed from these words. St Paul also says in another passage of his First Letter to the Corinthians: "Although there may be so-called gods in heaven or on earth..." -- and we know that today too there are many so-called "gods" on earth -- for us there is only "one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist" (I Corinthians 8: 5-6).

Thus, from the outset the disciples recognized the Risen Jesus as the One who is our brother in humanity but is also one with God; the One who, with his coming into the world and throughout his life, in his death and in his Resurrection, brought us God and in a new and unique way made God present in the world: the One, therefore, who gives meaning and hope to our life; in fact, it is in him that we encounter the true Face of God that we find what we really need in order to live.

Educating in the faith, in the sequela, and in witnessing means helping our brothers and sisters, or rather, helping one another to enter into a living relationship with Christ and with the Father. This has been from the start the fundamental task of the Church as the community of believers, disciples and friends of Jesus. The Church, the Body of Christ and Temple of the Holy Spirit, is that dependable company within which we have been brought forth and educated to become, in Christ, sons and heirs of God.

In the Church, we receive the Spirit through whom "we cry, "Abba! Father!'" (cf. Romans 8:14-17). We have just heard in St Augustine's homily that God is not remote, that he has become the "Way" and the "Way" himself has come to us. He said: "Stand up, you idler, and start walking!". Starting to walk means moving along the path that is Christ himself, in the company of believers; it means while walking, helping one another to become truly friends of Jesus Christ and children of God.

Daily experience tells us -- as we all know -- that precisely in our day educating in the faith is no easy undertaking. Today, in fact, every educational task seems more and more arduous and precarious. Consequently, there is talk of a great "educational emergency", of the increasing difficulty encountered in transmitting the basic values of life and correct behaviour to the new generations, a difficulty that involves both schools and families and, one might say, any other body with educational aims.

We may add that this is an inevitable emergency: in a society, in a culture, which all too often make relativism its creed -- relativism has become a sort of dogma -- in such a society the light of truth is missing; indeed, it is considered dangerous and "authoritarian" to speak of truth, and the end result is doubt about the goodness of life -- is it good to be a person? is it good to be alive? -- and in the validity of the relationships and commitments in which it consists.

So how would it be possible to suggest to children and to pass on from generation to generation something sound and dependable, rules of life, an authentic meaning and convincing objectives for human existence both as an individual and as a community?

For this reason, education tends to be broadly reduced to the transmission of specific abilities or capacities for doing, while people endeavour to satisfy the desire for happiness of the new generations by showering them with consumer goods and transitory gratification. Thus, both parents and teachers are easily tempted to abdicate their educational duties and even no longer to understand what their role, or rather, the mission entrusted to them, is.

Yet, in this way we are not offering to young people, to the young generations, what it is our duty to pass on to them. Moreover, we owe them the true values which give life a foundation.

However, this situation obviously fails to satisfy; it cannot satisfy because it ignores the essential aim of education which is the formation of a person to enable him or her to live to the full and to make his or her own contribution to the common good. However, on many sides the demand for authentic education and the rediscovery of the need for educators who are truly such is increasing.

Parents, concerned and often worried about their children's future, are asking for it, many teachers who are going through the sad experience of the deterioration of their schools are asking for it, society overall is asking for it, in Italy as in many other nations, because it sees the educational crisis cast doubt on the very foundations of coexistence.

In a similar context, the Church's commitment to providing education in the faith, in discipleship and in witnessing to the Lord Jesus is more than ever acquiring the value of a contribution to extracting the society in which we live from the educational crisis that afflicts it, clamping down on distrust and on that strange "self hatred" that seems to have become a hallmark of our civilization.

However, none of this diminishes the difficulties we encounter in leading children, adolescents and young people to meet Jesus Christ and to establish a lasting and profound relationship with him. Yet precisely this is the crucial challenge for the future of the faith, of the Church and of Christianity, and it is therefore an essential priority of our pastoral work: to bring close to Christ and to the Father the new generation that lives in a world largely distant from God.

Dear brothers and sisters, we must always be aware that we cannot carry out such a task with our own strength but only with the power of the Spirit. We need enlightenment and grace that come from God and act within hearts and consciences. For education and Christian formation, therefore, it is above all prayer and our personal friendship with Jesus that are crucial: only those who know and love Jesus Christ can introduce their brothers and sisters into a living relationship with him. Indeed, moved by this need, I thought: it would be helpful to write a book on Jesus to make him known.

Let us never forget the words of Jesus: "I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide" (John 15:15-16).

Our communities will thus be able to work fruitfully and to teach the faith and discipleship of Christ while being in themselves authentic "schools" of prayer (cf. Apostolic Letter "Novo Millennio Ineunte," n. 33), where the primacy of God is lived.

Furthermore, it is education and especially Christian education which shapes life based on God who is love (cf. I John 4:8,16), and has need of that closeness which is proper to love. Especially today, when isolation and loneliness are a widespread condition to which noise and group conformity is no real remedy, personal guidance becomes essential, giving those who are growing up the assurance that they are loved, understood and listened to.

In practice, this guidance must make tangible the fact that our faith is not something of the past, that it can be lived today and that in living it we really find our good. Thus, boys and girls and young people may be helped to free themselves from common prejudices and will realize that the Christian way of life is possible and reasonable, indeed, is by far the most reasonable.

The entire Christian community, with all its many branches and components, is challenged by the important task of leading the new generations to the encounter with Christ: on this terrain, therefore, we must express and manifest particularly clearly our communion with the Lord and with one another, as well as our willingness and readiness to work together to "build a network", to achieve with an open and sincere mind every useful form of synergy, starting with the precious contribution of those women and men who have consecrated their lives to adoring God and interceding for their brethren.

However, it is very obvious that in educating and forming people in the faith the family has its own fundamental role and primary responsibility. Parents, in fact, are those through whom the child at the start of life has the first and crucial experience of love, of a love which is actually not only human but also a reflection of God's love for him.

Therefore, the Christian family, the small "domestic Church", and the larger family of the Church must take care to develop the closest collaboration, especially with regard to the education of children (cf. "Lumen Gentium," n. 11).

Everything that has matured in the three years in which our diocesan pastoral ministry has devoted special attention to the family should not only be implemented but also further increased.

For example, the attempts to involve parents and even godparents more closely, before and after Baptism, in order to help them understand and put into practice their mission as educators in the faith have already produced appreciable results and deserve to be continued and to become the common heritage of each parish. The same applies for the participation of families in catechesis and in the entire process of the Christian initiation of children and adolescents.

Of course, many families are unprepared for this task and there is no lack of families which -- if they are not actually opposed to it -- do not seem to be interested in the Christian education of their own children: the consequences of the crisis in so many marriages are making themselves felt here.

Yet, it is rare to meet parents who are wholly indifferent to the human and moral formation of their children and consequently unwilling to be assisted in an educational task which they perceive as ever more difficult.

Therefore, an area of commitment and service opens up for our parishes, oratories, youth communities and above all for Christian families themselves, called to be near other families to encourage and assist them in raising their children, thereby helping them to find the meaning and purpose of life as a married couple.

Let us now move on to other subjects concerning education in the faith.

As children gradually grow up, their inner desire for personal autonomy naturally increases. Especially in adolescence, this can easily lead to them taking a critical distance from their family. Here, the closeness which can be guaranteed by the priest, Religious, catechist or other educators capable of making the friendly Face of the Church and love of Christ concrete for the young person, becomes particularly important.

If it is to produce positive effects that endure in time, our closeness must take into account that the education offered is a free encounter and that Christian education itself is formation in true freedom. Indeed, there is no real educational proposal, however respectful and loving it may be, which is not an incentive to making a decision, and the proposal of Christianity itself calls freedom profoundly into question, calling it to faith and conversion.

As I said at the Ecclesial Convention in Verona: "A true education must awaken the courage to make definitive decisions, which today are considered a mortifying bind to our freedom. In reality, they are indispensable for growth and in order to achieve something great in life, in particular, to cause love to mature in all its beauty: therefore, to give consistency and meaning to freedom itself" (Address, 19 October 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 25 October 2006, p. 9).

When they feel that their freedom is respected and taken seriously, adolescents and young people, despite their changeability and frailty, are not in fact unwilling to let themselves be challenged by demanding proposals: indeed, they often feel attracted and fascinated by them.

They also wish to show their generosity in adhering to the great, perennial values that constitute life's foundations. The authentic educator likewise takes seriously the intellectual curiosity which already exists in children and, as the years pass, is more consciously cultivated. Constantly exposed to, and often confused by, the multiplicity of information, and by the contrasting ideas and interpretations presented to them, young people today nevertheless still have a great inner need for truth. They are consequently open to Jesus Christ who, as Tertullian reminds us, "called himself truth, not custom" ("De virginibus velandis," I, 1).

It is up to us to seek to respond to the question of truth, fearlessly juxtaposing the proposal of faith with the reason of our time. In this way we will help young people to broaden the horizons of their intelligence, to open themselves to the mystery of God, in whom is found life's meaning and direction, and to overcome the conditioning of a rationality which trusts only what can be the object of experiment and calculation. Thus, it is very important to develop what last year we called "the pastoral care of intelligence".

The task of education passes through freedom but also requires authority. Therefore, especially when it is a matter of educating in faith, the figure of the witness and the role of witnessing is central. A witness of Christ does not merely transmit information but is personally involved with the truth Christ proposes and, through the coherency of his own life, becomes a dependable reference point.

However, he does not refer to himself, but to Someone who is infinitely greater than he is, in whom he has trusted and whose trustworthy goodness he has experienced. The authentic Christian educator is therefore a witness who finds his model in Jesus Christ, the witness of the Father who said nothing about himself but spoke as the Father had taught him (cf. John 8:28). This relationship with Christ and with the Father is for each one of us, dear brothers and sisters, the fundamental condition for being effective educators in the faith.

Our Convention very rightly speaks of education not only in faith and discipleship but also in witnessing to the Lord Jesus. Bearing an active witness to Christ does not, therefore, concern only priests, women religious and lay people who as formation teachers have tasks in our communities, but children and young people themselves, and all who are educated in the faith.

Therefore, the awareness of being called to become witnesses of Christ is not a corollary, a consequence somehow external to Christian formation, such as, unfortunately, has often been thought and today too people continue to think. On the contrary, it is an intrinsic and essential dimension of education in the faith and discipleship, just as the Church is missionary by her very nature (cf. "Ad Gentes," n. 2).

If children, through a gradual process from the beginning of their formation, are to achieve permanent formation as Christian adults, the desire to be and the conviction of being sharers in the Church's missionary vocation in all the situations and circumstances of life must take root in the believers' soul. Indeed, we cannot keep to ourselves the joy of the faith. We must spread it and pass it on, and thereby also strengthen it in our own hearts.

If faith is truly the joy of having discovered truth and love, we inevitably feel the desire to transmit it, to communicate it to others. The new evangelization to which our beloved Pope John Paul II called us passes mainly through this process.

A concrete experience that will increase in the youth of the parishes and of the various ecclesial groups the desire to witness to their own faith is the "Young People's Mission" which you are planning, after the success of the great "City Mission".

By educating in the faith, a very important task is entrusted to Catholic schools. Indeed, they must carry out their mission on the basis of an educational project which places the Gospel at the centre and keeps it as a decisive reference point for the person's formation and for the entire cultural programme.

In convinced synergy with families and with the Ecclesial Community, Catholic schools should therefore seek to foster that unity between faith, culture and life which is the fundamental goal of Christian education. State schools too can be sustained in their educational task in various ways by the presence of teachers who are believers -- in the first place, but not exclusively, teachers of Catholic religion -- and of students with a Christian formation, as well as by the collaboration of many families and of the Christian community itself.

The healthy secularism of schools, like that of the other State institutions, does not in fact imply closure to Transcendence or a false neutrality with regard to those moral values which form the basis of an authentic formation of the person. A similar discourse naturally applies for universities and it is truly a good omen that university ministry in Rome has been able to develop in all the Athenaeums, among teachers as much as students, and that a fruitful collaboration has developed between the civil and Pontifical academic institutions.

Today, more than in the past, the education and formation of the person are influenced by the messages and general climate spread by the great means of communication and which are inspired by a mindset and culture marked by relativism, consumerism and a false and destructive exaltation, or rather, profanation, of the body and of sexuality.

Therefore, precisely because of the great "yes" that as believers in Christ we say to the man loved by God, we certainly cannot fail to take interest in the overall orientation of the society to which we belong, in the trends that motivate it and in the positive or negative influence that it exercises on the formation of the new generations.

The very presence of the community of believers, its educational and cultural commitment, the message of faith, trust and love it bears are in fact an invaluable service to the common good and especially to the children and youth who are being trained and prepared for life.

Dear brothers and sisters, there is one last point to which I would like to draw your attention: it is supremely important for the Church's mission and requires our commitment and first of all our prayer. I am referring to vocations to follow the Lord Jesus more closely in the ministerial priesthood and in the consecrated life.

In recent decades, the Diocese of Rome has been gladdened by the gift of many priestly ordinations which have made it possible to bridge the gap in the previous period, and also to meet the requests of many Sister Churches in need of clergy; but the most recent indications seem less favourable and prompt the whole of our diocesan community to renew to the Lord, with humility and trust, its request for labourers for his harvest (cf. Matthew 9:37-38; Luke 10:2).

With delicacy and respect we must address a special but clear and courageous invitation to follow Jesus to those young men and women who appear to be the most attracted and fascinated by friendship with him. In this perspective, the Diocese will designate several new priests specifically to the care of vocations, but we know well that prayer and the overall quality of our Christian witness, the example of life set by priests and consecrated souls, the generosity of the people called and of the families they come from, are crucial in this area.

Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust to you these reflections as a contribution to the dialogue of these evenings, and to the work of the next pastoral year. May the Lord always give us the joy of believing in him, of growing in his friendship, of following him in the journey of life and of bearing witness to him in every situation, so that we may be able to pass on to those who will come after us the immense riches and beauty of faith in Jesus Christ. May my affection and my blessing accompany you in your work. Thank you for your attention!


Papal Greeting to the parish of St Felicity and her children, martyrs
"Every Person Carries Within Himself a Project of God"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 25 homily at the Roman parish of St. Felicity and Her Children, Martyrs.

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Fifth Sunday of Lent, 25 March 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am simply happy to be here with you, to see a community rich in faith, a young community, and so to see how the Church lives today. While the centre of Rome is somewhat depopulated, here we see that there is a lively Rome. It is the community to which St Paul wrote, where St Peter taught the Gospel. Here St Mark's Gospel came into being, according to tradition, as a reflection of St Peter's preaching.

Therefore, we are in a place where the seed of the Word of God grew from the outset and the "agape", love, also developed, so that 100 years later -- more or less in the year 100 -- St Ignatius could say that Rome presides in charity. And so it should be. It is not enough for the Pope to be in Rome. An active, committed Church must thrive in Rome, a Church which presides in charity. Therefore, it is a very happy experience for me to see in the parish that this Church of Rome exists, that she is still alive even after 2,000 years. I would like to greet you all. The parish priest has already introduced to me the various members of the community who are present here. We begin of course with the Cardinal Vicar, with the Auxiliary Bishop, with the parish priest, with the priests. And then there are so many groups. It is not necessary here to repeat what your parish priest has already said. I am grateful to all those who collaborate.

And I am grateful for the beautiful poem that was presented to me; one feels that it wells up from the very heart of this community. I see that the gift of poetry is still alive in Rome, even in these rather, as it were, unpoetic times. I do not wish at this point to enter into demanding considerations and reflections. I would only like to thank the adult lay people who are building a living parish.

Here you have the Vocationist Fathers. The word "Vocationist" is reminiscent of "vocation". We can examine two dimensions of this word. First of all, we think immediately of the vocation to the priesthood. But the word has a far broader, more general dimension.

Every person carries within himself a project of God, a personal vocation, a personal idea of God on what he is required to do in history to build his Church, a living Temple of his presence. And the priest's role is above all to reawaken this awareness, to help the individual discover his personal vocation, God's task for each one of us. I see that many here have discovered the project that concerns them, both with regard to professional life in the formation of today's society -- where the presence of Christian consciences is fundamental -- and also with regard to the call to contribute to the Church's growth and life. Both these things are equally important.

A society where Christian conscience is no longer alive loses its bearings; it no longer knows where to go, what it can do, what it cannot do, and ends up in emptiness, it fails. Only if a living awareness of the faith illumines our hearts can we also build a just society. It is not the Magisterium that imposes doctrine. It is the Magisterium that helps enable the conscience itself to hear God's voice, to know what is good, what is the Lord's will. It is only an aid so that personal responsibility, nourished by a lively conscience, may function well and thus contribute to ensuring that justice is truly present in our society: justice within ourselves and universal justice for all our brothers and sisters in the world today. Today, globalization is not only economic: there is also a globalization of responsibilities, this universality, which is why we are all responsible for everyone.

The Church offers us the encounter with Christ, with the living God, with the "Logos" who is Truth and Light, who does not coerce consciences, does not impose a partial doctrine but helps us ourselves to be men and women who are completely fulfilled and thus to live in personal responsibility and in deeper communion with one another, a communion born from communion with God, with the Lord. I see here this living community. I am grateful to the priests, I am grateful to all of you, their collaborators. And I hope that the Lord will help you and enlighten you always.

Already today, Passion Sunday, I wish you a Happy Easter and I wish your parish, your community, this suburb of Fidene, great good also in the future.


Pope's Birthday Luncheon Address
"The True Gift to Me Today Is Prayer"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address at his birthday luncheon with several cardinals.

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Hall of Dukes
Monday, 16 April 2007

Dear Brothers and Friends,

At this moment I can only say "thank you" with all my heart.

My thanks go first of all to the Cardinal Dean of the Sacred College, both for his words paying homage to me yesterday with exquisite kindness and for what was written in 30 Giorni [30 Days magazine], and then for his most sensitive and competent organization of this very fine luncheon, at which we have experienced a moment of our affective and effective collegiality.

Indeed, I would say that it was not only a moment of collegiality but also of authentic brotherhood. We truly felt how beautiful it is to be together: "Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum" (Ps 133[132]:1).

I am grateful for this experience of brotherhood, which I also feel in my daily life. Even if we do not see one another constantly, I always sense and notice the collaboration of those who help me. The College of Cardinals really offers effective and important support to the work of the Successor of Peter.

I would further like to say "thank you" here to all the Cardinals who wrote such beautiful things, both in 30 Giorni and in the special column of Avvenire newspaper, as well as in other publications.

I also thank those who did not write, but thought and prayed. The true gift to me today is prayer, which gives me the certainty that I am accepted from within and above all, assisted and sustained in my Petrine ministry, a ministry which I cannot carry out on my own but only in communion with all who help me, also by praying, so that the Lord may be with all of us and also with me.

Today, in the Office of Readings we recited the words of a Psalm which ring especially true and are very precious to me: "In manibus tuis sortes meae" (Ps 31[30]:16); in the Vetus latina the text was: "In manu tua tempora mea"; the Italian translation says: "Nelle tue mani sono i miei giorni"; the Greek text speaks of kairoi mou [the English translation is "my times are in your hands"].

All these versions mirror a single truth: that our time, every day, the events of our life, our destiny and our action are in the good hands of the Lord. This accounts for the great trust with which we go ahead, knowing that these hands of the Lord are sustained by the hands and hearts of so many Cardinals.

This is a cause of great joy to me today. I thank you all, and offer you very many good wishes!


Benedict XVI's Words of Thanks for Concert
"Music … the Universal Language of Beauty"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address following the concert offered him for his 80th birthday.

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Paul VI Audience Hall
Monday, 16 April 2007

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

At the end of this marvellous concert at which the Stuttgart Radio and Television Symphony Orchestra have offered us a gift by uplifting our hearts, I would like to greet you all warmly.

I thank Minister Willi Stächele and Prof. Peter Voss, Director of the Südwestrundfunks, for their courteous words to me at the beginning.

I willingly and joyfully accepted your musical gift, this marvellous Birthday present from Southwest Germany, especially because the Baden-Württemberg Land is linked to an important and formative phase of my life. The Minister has already mentioned my roots.

In fact, I willingly think back to my years at Tübingen, to the intellectual and scientific exchange in that university and the many precious meetings with people which I had there and which continued for years and decades and are still taking place.

Above all, I would now like to thank the musicians of this evening's event, the members of the Stuttgarter Radio-Sinfonieorchesters, the SWR, who with their skill have offered us all an authentic experience of the inspiring power of great music.

I thank Gustavo Dudamel, the conductor, and Hilary Hahn, the soloist, and all of you, Ladies and Gentlemen. Since the language of music is universal, we see people from completely different cultural and religious backgrounds who let themselves be gripped and likewise guided by it and who also interpret it.

Today, this universal aspect of music is given special emphasis, thanks to the electronic and digital instruments of communications. How many people there are in the most diverse countries who are able to take part in this musical performance at home, or experience it later!

I am convinced that music -- and here I am thinking in particular of the great Mozart and this evening, of course, of the marvellous music by Gabrieli and the majestic "New World" by Dvorák -- really is the universal language of beauty which can bring together all people of good will on earth and get them to lift their gaze on high and open themselves to the Absolute Good and Beauty whose ultimate source is God himself.

In looking back over my life, I thank God for placing music beside me, as it were, as a travelling companion that has offered me comfort and joy. I also thank the people who from the very first years of my childhood brought me close to this source of inspiration and serenity.

I thank those who combine music and prayer in harmonious praise of God and his works: they help us glorify the Creator and Redeemer of the world, which is the marvellous work of his hands.

This is my hope: that the greatness and beauty of music will also give you, dear friends, new and continuous inspiration in order to build a world of love, solidarity and peace.

For this I invoke upon us who are gathered this evening in the Vatican and upon everyone who is linked to us via radio and television the constant protection of God, of that God of love who desires to kindle ceaselessly in our hearts the flame of good, and to feed it with his grace. May he, the Lord and Giver of new and definitive life, whose victory we are joyfully celebrating in this Easter Season, bless you all!

I thank you once again for your presence and for your good wishes.

A Happy Easter Season to everyone!

Thank you!


Papal Address on Natural Law
"The Only Valid Bulwark Against Arbitrary Power"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 12 to the participants of the International Congress on Natural Law, organized by the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome.

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Clementine Hall
Monday, 12 February 2007

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Esteemed Professors,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you at the beginning of the Congress' work in which you will be engaged in the following days on a theme of considerable importance for the present historical moment, namely, the natural moral law.

I thank Bishop Rino Fisichella, Rector Magnificent of the Pontifical Lateran University, for the sentiments expressed in the address with which he has introduced this meeting.

There is no doubt that we are living in a moment of extraordinary development in the human capacity to decipher the rules and structures of matter, and in the consequent dominion of man over nature.

We all see the great advantages of this progress and we see more and more clearly the threat of destruction of nature by what we do.

There is another less visible danger, but no less disturbing: the method that permits us to know ever more deeply the rational structures of matter makes us ever less capable of perceiving the source of this rationality, creative Reason. The capacity to see the laws of material being makes us incapable of seeing the ethical message contained in being, a message that tradition calls lex naturalis, natural moral law.

This word for many today is almost incomprehensible due to a concept of nature that is no longer metaphysical, but only empirical. The fact that nature, being itself, is no longer a transparent moral message creates a sense of disorientation that renders the choices of daily life precarious and uncertain.

Naturally, the disorientation strikes the younger generations in a particular way, who must in this context find the fundamental choices for their life.

It is precisely in the light of this contestation that all the urgency of the necessity to reflect upon the theme of natural law and to rediscover its truth common to all men appears. The said law, to which the Apostle Paul refers (cf. Rom 2:14-15), is written on the heart of man and is consequently, even today, accessible.

This law has as its first and general principle, "to do good and to avoid evil." This is a truth which by its very evidence immediately imposes itself on everyone. From it flows the other more particular principles that regulate ethical justice on the rights and duties of everyone.

So does the principle of respect for human life from its conception to its natural end, because this good of life is not man's property but the free gift of God. Besides this is the duty to seek the truth as the necessary presupposition of every authentic personal maturation.

Another fundamental application of the subject is freedom. Yet taking into account the fact that human freedom is always a freedom shared with others, it is clear that the harmony of freedom can be found only in what is common to all: the truth of the human being, the fundamental message of being itself, exactly the lex naturalis.

And how can we not mention, on one hand, the demand of justice that manifests itself in giving unicuique suum and, on the other, the expectation of solidarity that nourishes in everyone, especially if they are poor, the hope of the help of the more fortunate?

In these values are expressed unbreakable and contingent norms that do not depend on the will of the legislator and not even on the consensus that the State can and must give. They are, in fact, norms that precede any human law: as such, they are not subject to modification by anyone. The natural law, together with fundamental rights, is the source from which ethical imperatives also flow, which it is only right to honor.

In today's ethics and philosophy of Law, petitions of juridical positivism are widespread. As a result, legislation often becomes only a compromise between different interests: seeking to transform private interests or wishes into law that conflict with the duties deriving from social responsibility.

In this situation it is opportune to recall that every juridical methodology, be it on the local or international level, ultimately draws its legitimacy from its rooting in the natural law, in the ethical message inscribed in the actual human being.

Natural law is, definitively, the only valid bulwark against the arbitrary power or the deception of ideological manipulation. The knowledge of this law inscribed on the heart of man increases with the progress of the moral conscience.

The first duty for all, and particularly for those with public responsibility, must therefore be to promote the maturation of the moral conscience. This is the fundamental progress without which all other progress proves non-authentic.

The law inscribed in our nature is the true guarantee offered to everyone in order to be able to live in freedom and to be respected in their own dignity.

What has been said up to this point has very concrete applications if one refers to the family, that is, to "the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state... established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws" (Gaudium et Spes, n. 48).

Concerning this, the Second Vatican Council has opportunely recalled that the institution of marriage has been "confirmed by the divine law", and therefore "this sacred bond ... for the good of the partner, of the children and of society no longer depends on human decision alone" (ibid.).

Therefore, no law made by man can override the norm written by the Creator without society becoming dramatically wounded in what constitutes its basic foundation. To forget this would mean to weaken the family, penalizing the children and rendering the future of society precarious.

Lastly, I feel the duty to affirm yet again that not all that is scientifically possible is also ethically licit. Technology, when it reduces the human being to an object of experimentation, results in abandoning the weak subject to the arbitration of the stronger. To blindly entrust oneself to technology as the only guarantee of progress, without offering at the same time an ethical code that penetrates its roots in that same reality under study and development, would be equal to doing violence to human nature with devastating consequences for all.

The contribution of scientists is of primary importance. Together with the progress of our capacity to dominate nature, scientists must also contribute to help understand the depth of our responsibility for man and for nature entrusted to him.

On this basis it is possible to develop a fruitful dialogue between believers and non-believers; between theologians, philosophers, jurists and scientists, which can offer to legislation as well precious material for personal and social life.

Therefore, I hope these days of study will bring not only a greater sensitivity of the learned with regard to the natural moral law, but will also serve to create conditions so that this theme may reach an ever fuller awareness of the inalienable value that the lex naturalis possesses for a real and coherent progress of private life and the social order.

With this wish, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for you and for your academic commitment to research and reflection, while I impart to all with affection the Apostolic Blessing.


Papal Letter to Ex-Warsaw Archbishop
"Continue With Confidence and Serenity in Your Heart"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI wrote to Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus, following his resignation as archbishop of Warsaw. The letter was released today by the Vatican press office.

Archbishop Wielgus admitted his involvement with the Communist secret service and resigned as head of the Warsaw Archdiocese on Jan. 7, the day he was to be installed.

* * *

To Our Most Beloved Brother
Archbishop Stanislaw Wielgus

I have read with care Your Excellency's beautiful letter of last January 8, and warmly thank you for the trust with which you opened your soul to me, showing the painful suffering of your heart during the whole of your life as priest and bishop, up to the resignation of the office of Archbishop of Warsaw.

In this last period I have shared in your sufferings and wish to assure you of my spiritual closeness and fraternal understanding.

In regard to the past, I am fully aware of the exceptional circumstances in which you carried out your service, when the Communist regime in Poland used all means to suffocate the liberties of citizens and, in a special way, of the clergy.

As Rector of the University of Lublin, and as Bishop of Plock, you have given proof of great devotion and profound love of Jesus Christ and of his Church.

When you presented your resignation a month ago, aware that the situation created did not allow you to begin the episcopal service with the indispensable authority, I saw clearly in this act a profound sensitivity for the good of the Church of Warsaw and of Poland, and also your humility and detachment from offices.

Above all I would like to encourage you to continue with confidence and serenity in your heart. I express the desire that you resume your activity at the service of Christ, in the way that is possible, so that you use your vast and profound knowledge and priestly devotion for the good of the beloved Church in Poland.

Today, as in the past, the episcopal mission is marked by suffering. May Our Lord sustain you with his grace. Of help also will by the friendship of brother bishops and of persons who have known and esteemed you.

With heartfelt sentiment, remembering you in constant prayer before the Lord and the Most Holy Virgin Mary, I impart to you from my heart a special Apostolic Blessing in the hope of abundant grace from heaven.

From the Vatican, February 12, 2007


Papal Homily at Cardinal Javierre's Funeral
"The Farewell Is Haloed With Hope and Joy"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 2 at Cardinal Antonio María Javierre Ortas' funeral Mass, held in St. Peter's Basilica.

The cardinal, who was born in Spain, was a former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.

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Altar of the Chair, St Peter's Basilica
Friday, 2 February 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Yesterday, the day after the liturgical memorial of St John Bosco, a spiritual son of his, our beloved Cardinal Antonio María Javierre Ortas, departed for Heaven. At the time of his departure, he was surrounded by the unanimous prayer for the repose of his soul that Salesians customarily raise for their deceased confreres and sisters on the very day after the Feast of their Founder.

Today, the Roman Curia, his friends and relatives join his Religious family on the day in which the liturgy commemorates the Presentation of the Lord at the temple.

The words of elderly Simeon as he clasped the Infant Jesus in his arms re-echo on this occasion with special emotion: "Nunc dimittis servum tuum Domine, secundum verbum tuum in pace -- now let your servant depart in peace, according to your word" (Lk 2:29). This is the prayer that the Church raises to God at nightfall and it is especially important to remember it today, thinking again of our Brother who has reached the end of his earthly life.

"Misercordias Domini in aeternum cantabo". Let us make our own these words from Cardinal Javierre Ortas' spiritual diary, as we accompany him on his journey to the Father's House.

He was born in Siétamo, in the Diocese of Huesca, on 21 February 1921. He was granted the gift of a long life, inspired from his youth by a pronounced missionary spirit. He would have liked, after the example of Don Bosco, to live out his vocation as a Salesian in direct contact with young people in a mission land but Providence summoned him to other offices.

Thus, he was an apostle in the university environment and in the milieus of the Roman Curia. However, he never missed an opportunity to carry out his intense spiritual activity in the essentially theological sphere, as well as in the broader domain of culture, especially by directing groups of professors and Religious and as chaplain to university students.

His was a faithful and generous service to the Church, always willing and cordial. Despite his venerable age, his departure was somewhat unexpected. Impelled by faith, but also by affection for his venerable figure, we are now gathered round the altar of the Lord, preparing to offer the Eucharistic sacrifice for him.

Christ's words that we have just heard in the Gospel ring out: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh" (Jn 6:51).

This is one of the sayings of Jesus that sums up the whole of his mystery. And it is comforting to listen to it and meditate upon it while we pray for a priestly soul who found in the Eucharist the centre of his life.

Intimate and persevering sacramental communion with the Body and Blood of Christ brings about a profound transformation of the person. The fruit of this inner process, which involves the whole person, is what the Apostle Paul wrote to the Philippians: "Mihi vivere Christus est" (Phil 1:21).

Thus, to die is a "gain", because only by dying is it possible to achieve fully that "being-in-Christ" of which Eucharistic Communion is a pledge on this earth.

Yesterday, I had in my hands several letters that Cardinal Javierre had written to beloved John Paul II in which this privileged reference to the Eucharist appears.

In 1992, when he was appointed Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, he wrote: "I repeat on this occasion my unconditional desire for service. Your Holiness, I am relying on my sincere efforts to bring to completion the task you have entrusted to me. I imagine it gravitating totally around the EUCHARIST", written in capitals. "Everything is attracted to this barycentre".

Then on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his Priestly Ordination, he wrote in his letter thanking the Holy Father for his good wishes: "At the time of my ordination in Salamanca, the priesthood gravitated entirely around the Eucharist.... It is a joy to relive the sentiments of our ordination, aware that in the Eucharist, the Sacrament of his Sacrifice, Christ actualizes his one Priesthood to the full".

Our beloved late Cardinal is now joyfully participating in the Heavenly Banquet, the Messianic Feast mentioned by Isaiah in the First Reading, where death is swallowed up for ever and tears wiped from every face (cf. Is 25:8).

As we ourselves wait to take part in this eternal banquet of love, when the Lord pleases, we who are still pilgrims and he who has reached the goal are now brought together by the singing of the Responsorial Psalm that has resounded: "Dominus pascit me, et nihil mihi deerit: in loco pascuae, ibi me collocavit" (Ps 23[22]: 1-2). No, death does not frighten the person who lives in Christ; he experiences at every moment what the Psalmist says with trust: "Nam et si ambulavero in valle umbrae mortis, non timebo mala, quoniam tu mecum es" (23[22]: 4).

"Tu mecum es": these words refer to other words which the Risen Jesus addressed to the Apostles and which our Brother chose as his episcopal motto: "Ego vobiscum sum" (Mt 28:20).

In fact, Cardinal Javierre Ortas desired his personal existence and his ecclesial mission to be a message of hope; through his apostolate, after the example of St John Bosco, he strove to communicate to all that Christ is continually with us.

He, a son of the homeland of St Teresa and of St John of the Cross, prayed so often in his heart: "Let no one upset you, no one frighten you. One who holds fast to God lacks nothing. God alone suffices".

It is precisely because he was accustomed to living supported by these convictions that Cardinal Javierre Ortas, at the time of his retirement from active ministry in the Curia, was able to write anew to the Pope words steeped in hope: "It only remains for me to implore the Lord, in divine tones, to treat his Vicar kindly when, in the evening of life -- not far off -- the hour of examination on love strikes".

The coat-of-arms of our late Brother features a boat moored to two pillars; the boat is the Church, the helmsman is the Pope and the two pillars are the Eucharist and Our Lady. As a worthy Son of Don Bosco, the Cardinal was deeply devoted to Mary, whom he loved and venerated with the title: "Help of Christians". He sought to imitate the style of discreet and generous service of Our Lady, "Ancilla Domini" [Handmaid of the Lord].

He left his office as Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments "on tiptoe", to devote himself to the service which on the contrary one must never give up: prayer. And now that the Heavenly Father has desired to have the Cardinal beside him, I am certain that in Heaven -- where we trust the Lord has welcomed him in his fatherly embrace -- he continues to pray for us.

I would like to conclude with a reflection that leads us to the embrace of the Redeemer.

"It is marvelous", he wrote, "to think that the series of sins of our life does not matter, that it suffices to raise our eyes and see the gesture of the Savior, who welcomes us one by one with infinite kindness in an extremely loving way. In this perspective", he ended, "the farewell is haloed with hope and joy".


Papal Address to Capranica College
"Quality of the Clergy Depends on Seriousness of Their Formation"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered on Jan. 19 to the seminarians and priests of the Capranica College of Rome on the 550th anniversary of its foundation.

I am pleased to welcome you just before the Feast of your Patroness, St Agnes. I greet you all with affection, starting with the Cardinal Vicar, Camillo Ruini, and Archbishop Pio Vigo, who form the Episcopal Commission in charge of the College. I greet the Rector, Mons. Ermenegildo Manicardi. I extend a special welcome to you, dear students, who belong to the community of the oldest ecclesiastical college of Rome.

Five hundred and fifty years have passed since that 5 January 1457 when Cardinal Domenico Capranica, Archbishop of Fermo, founded the College that was named after him. He bequeathed to it all his property and his palace near Santa Maria in Aquiro, so that it could house young students called to the priesthood.

The newborn institution was the first of its kind in Rome; initially reserved for young Romans and young men from Fermo, it later extended hospitality to students from other regions of Italy and of different nationalities.

Cardinal Capranica died less than two years later, but his foundation had already started on the way it has followed until today, undergoing only 10 years of closure from 1798 to 1807 during the so-called Roman Republic.

Two Popes studied at the Capranica: Pope Benedict XV, whom you rightly consider "Parens alter" because of the special affection he always felt for your house, and then, if for a shorter period, the Servant of God Pius XII. My venerable Predecessors, some of whom visited you on special occasions, have always demonstrated their benevolence towards your College.

Our meeting today also takes place not only close to the Memorial of St Agnes but also in the context of an important anniversary for your institution. In this historical and spiritual perspective, it is useful to ask what motives impelled Cardinal Capranica to found this provident work, and what value they still have for you today.

It is necessary, in the first place, to remember that the founder had direct experience of the colleges of the Universities of Padua and of Bologna where he himself had been a student, as well as those of Sienna, Florence and Perugia. These institutions had developed in order to house young scholars who did not belong to wealthy families.

By altering several elements of these models, he conceived of one that would be exclusively destined to training future priests, with preferential attention to less well-off candidates. Thus, he anticipated by more than a century the establishment of "seminaries" decreed by the Council of Trent.

However, we have not yet focused on the basic reason for this provident initiative: it was the conviction that the quality of the clergy depends on the seriousness of their formation.

Now, in Cardinal Capranica's time, there was no careful selection of aspirants to sacred Orders: they were sometimes examined in literature and song, but not in theology, morals and canon law, with foreseeable negative repercussions on the Ecclesial Community.

This is why, in the Constitutions of his College, the Cardinal imposed on theology students knowledge of the best authors, especially Thomas Aquinas; on law students, the doctrine of Pope Innocent III, and on them all, Aristotelian ethics.

Further, not content with the lessons of the Studium Urbis, he guaranteed supplementary lessons provided by specialists directly within the College itself.

This curriculum was integrated into a framework of integral formation centered on the spiritual dimension. It was supported by the pillars of the Sacraments of the Eucharist -- daily -- and of Penance -- at least monthly -- and sustained by the pious practices prescribed or suggested by the Church.

Great importance was given to charity, both in ordinary fraternal life and in assistance to the sick, as well as to what today we call "pastoral experience". Indeed, it established that on feast days, students would serve in the cathedral and in other local churches.

An effective support in the students' formation was also provided by the style of the community itself, including strong participation in decisions concerning life in the College.

Here we find the same fundamental disposition that was later to be made by the diocesan seminaries, of course, for the latter with a fuller sense of belonging to the particular Church; the choice, that is, of a serious human, cultural and spiritual formation, open to the requirements proper to the time and place.

Dear friends, let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of Mary Most Holy and St Agnes, that the Almo Collegio Capranica may continue on its way, faithful to its long tradition and to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

Dear students, I hope that every day you will renew your offering to God and to the Holy Church from the bottom of your hearts, conforming ever more closely to Christ, the Good Shepherd, who has called you to follow him and to work in his vineyard.

I thank you for this pleasant visit and, as I assure you of my prayers, I impart with affection a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.


Pope's Address to Finns on St. Henrik's Day
"The Holy Spirit Is the Real Protagonist of the Ecumenical Endeavor"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today in English to an ecumenical delegation from Finland, on the occasion of the feast of St. Henrik, patron of the nation.

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Dear Bishops Peura and Wróbel,
Distinguished Friends,

With joy I welcome you, the members of the ecumenical delegation from Finland, as you visit Rome on the occasion of the feast of Saint Henrik, Patron of your nation.

Your presence here coincides with this year's Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. The theme of the week -- "he makes the deaf hear and the mute speak" -- (Mark 7:37), illustrates how Jesus frees all of us from spiritual deafness, enabling us to hear his saving word and to proclaim it to others. This charge of common witness in word and deed nurtures our ecumenical journey. In drawing us closer to Christ, converting us to his truth and love, it draws us closer to one another.

In recent times relations between Christians in Finland have developed in a way that offers much hope for the future of ecumenism. Readily they pray and work together, bearing common public witness to the word of God. It is precisely this convincing testimony to the guiding and saving truths of the Gospel that all men and women seek or need to hear. On the part of Christians this demands courage. Indeed, as I suggested at the Ecumenical Vespers during my visit to Bavaria, behind any "weakening of the theme of justification and of forgiveness of sins is ultimately a weakening of the theme of our relationship with God. In this sense our first task will perhaps be to rediscover in a new way the living God present in our lives, in our time, and in our society."

In the Joint Declaration on Justification, Lutherans and Catholics have covered a considerable distance theologically. Further work remains and so it is encouraging that the Nordic Lutheran-Catholic dialogue in Finland and Sweden is examining the topic "Justification in the Life of the Church." I hope and pray that these conversations will effectively contribute to the quest for full and visible unity of the Church, while at the same time offering an ever clearer response to the fundamental questions affecting life and society.

Confident in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit is the real protagonist of the ecumenical endeavor (cf. "Unitatis Redintegratio," 1;4), let us continue to pray and work for the building of closer bonds of love and cooperation between Lutherans and Catholics in Finland. Upon you and all the beloved people of Finland I invoke God's abundant blessings of peace and joy.


Papal Address to Roman Politicians
"Suffering Man Belongs to Us"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered in Italian on Jan. 11 at his traditional new-year meeting with local civil officials.

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Clementine Hall
Thursday, 11 January 2007

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is the second time I have the pleasure of receiving you at the beginning of the year for the traditional exchange of greetings. I am grateful to you for coming here and offer my cordial and respectful greetings to Hon. Mr Pietro Marrazzo, President of the Regional Board of Lazio, to Hon. Mr Walter Veltroni, Mayor of Rome, and to Hon. Mr Enrico Gasbarra, President of the Province of Rome. I sincerely thank them for their kind words, also on behalf of the Boards they head. With them, I greet the Presidents of the respective Council Assemblies and all of you who are gathered here.

Our meeting is a favourable opportunity for strengthening and consolidating those deep, ancient and tenacious bonds that unite the Successor of Peter with this City, unique in the world, with its Province and with the entire Lazio Region.

Through you, I express my affection, closeness and pastoral concern to each one of the citizens and inhabitants of Rome and of Lazio and its cities, towns and suburbs; a land in which Christianity has put down particularly visible roots down the centuries and produced works of beauty and fruits of good, demonstrating in practice how true a friend of men and women God made man actually is.

This legacy of goodness and beauty is now in a certain sense also entrusted to you as public administrators, with full respect for the healthy secularity of your functions. Moreover, this is a natural context for collaboration between the Church and the civil society you represent. The integral human good of the populations of Rome and Lazio are certainly protected and increased by this cooperation.

In this spirit, I would like to draw your attention to certain matters of common interest and great importance and timeliness. To do so, I draw inspiration from a very recent experience that brought me deep joy: my Visit last week to the Soup Kitchen of the Diocesan Caritas of Rome on the Colle Oppio.

On that occasion, in naming the Soup Kitchen after my unforgettable Predecessor, John Paul II, I repeated the words he spoke in the very same place 15 years ago: "Suffering man belongs to us".

Yes, dear Representatives of the Administrative Boards of Rome and of Lazio, every suffering person belongs to the Church and at the same time to all the brethren in humanity. Thus, the suffering belong also and in a special way to your responsibility as public administrators.

I cannot but rejoice, therefore, in the collaboration that has existed for quite some time between the ecclesial bodies and your Administrations for the purpose of alleviating and going to the help of the many forms of poverty, financial and also human and relational, which afflict a considerable number of people and families, especially among immigrants.

There is then the immense field of health care that requires an enormous, coordinated effort to guarantee people suffering from physical or psychological illnesses prompt and appropriate treatment: also in this area, the Church and Catholic organizations are pleased to offer their collaboration, in the light of the great principles of the sacredness of human life from conception to its natural end, and of the centrality of the sick person. I trust in your readiness to encourage this collaboration, which will undoubtedly benefit the entire population.

This same concern for the human being that impels us to be close to the poor and the sick makes us attentive to that fundamental human good of the family based on marriage. Today, the intrinsic value and authentic motivations of marriage and the family need to be understood better. To this end, the Church's pastoral commitment has been considerable and must increase further.

But a twofold policy of and for the family, which calls into question the responsibility of its members, is also necessary. In other words, it is a matter of increasing initiatives that can make the forming of a family and subsequently having and raising children easier and less burdensome for young couples; that encourage the employment of youth, contain housing costs as much as possible and increase the number of kindergartens and nursery schools.

Indeed, those projects that aim to attribute to other forms of union inappropriate legal recognition, inevitably lead to weakening and destabilizing the legitimate family founded on marriage and appear to be dangerous and counterproductive.

Educating the new generations is the pastoral priority on which the Diocese of Rome is currently focusing attention. The social and civil importance of this problem certainly escapes none of you.

Therefore, while I am grateful for the support you already offer to certain forms of the Church's educational commitment, including the after-school recreation facilities, I am confident that in this area too it will be possible to develop a fruitful collaboration with respect for the temperament and tasks proper to each one of those concerned.

Distinguished Authorities, there are many other problems, often very complex, that you must face every day in order to foster the financial, social and cultural development of Rome and Lazio. I consequently assure you of my closeness and my prayers for you and for the lofty responsibilities you are called to exercise. May the Lord guide your steps and illumine your decisions.

With these sentiments, I warmly impart to each one of you my Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to your families and to all who live and work in Rome, in its Province and throughout Lazio.


Benedict XVI's Address at Gregorian University
"Study and Teaching … Must Be Sustained by the Theological Virtues"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered on Nov. 3 at the Pontifical Gregorian University.

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Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Professors and Dear Students,

I am pleased to meet with you today. My first greeting goes precisely to you students, whom I see in large numbers in this elegant and austere interior quadrangle, but whom I know are also gathered in various halls and are in contact with us by means of screens and loudspeakers.

Dear young people, I thank you for the sentiments expressed by your representative and by you yourselves. In a certain sense, the University is truly yours. It has existed since St Ignatius founded it for you, for students, long ago in 1551.

All the energy that your Professors and Lecturers expend in teaching and research is for you. The daily efforts and worries of the Rector Magnificent, the Vice-Rectors, the Deans and the Provosts are for you. You are aware of this and I am sure that you are also grateful to them for it.

I then offer a special greeting to Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski. As Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, he is Grand Chancellor of this University and represents the Roman Pontiff in it (cf. "Statuta Universitatis," art. 6, 2).

For this very reason, my Predecessor Pius XI, of venerable memory, declared the Gregorian University "Pontifical": "plenissimo iure ac nomine" (cf. Apostolic Letter "Gregorianam Studiorum," in AAS 24 [1932], 268).

The actual history of the Roman College and of its heir, the Gregorian University, as the Rector said in his tribute to me, forms the basis of these very special Statutes.

I greet Fr Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., who as Superior General of the Society of Jesus is Grand Chancellor of the University and most directly concerned with this work, which I do not hesitate to describe as one of the greatest services that the Society of Jesus carries out for the universal Church.

I greet the benefactors who are present here: the Freundeskreis der Gregoriana from Germany, the Gregorian University Foundation from New York, the Fondazione La Gregoriana of Rome and other groups of benefactors.

Dear friends, I am grateful to you for all that you generously do to support this institution which the Holy See has entrusted and continues to entrust to the Society of Jesus.

I greet the Jesuit Fathers who carry out their teaching here with a praiseworthy spirit of self-denial and austerity of life; with them I greet the other Lecturers and extend my thoughts to the Fathers and Brothers of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Together with the Gregorian University, they form a prestigious academic consortium (cf. Pius XI, "Motu Proprio" "Quod Maxime," 30 September 1928), since it not only covers teaching but also the patrimony of books of the three libraries, which include incomparable specialized collections.

Lastly, I greet the non-teaching personnel of the University who have wished to make their own voice heard through that of the General Secretary, whom I thank. The non-teaching staff daily carry out a hidden service, but one very important to the mission that the mandate of the Holy See requires of the Gregorian; I offer my cordial encouragement to each one of them.

I am delighted to be in this quadrangle which I have crossed on various occasions. I remember in particular the defense of the thesis of Fr Lohfink during the Council in the presence of many Cardinals and also of humble experts like myself.

I am especially fond of recalling the time in 1972 when, as Professor of Dogmatics and the History of Dogma at the University of Regensburg, I was sent by the then Rector, Fr Hervé Carrier, S.J., to give a course to students of the second cycle specializing in Dogmatic Theology. I gave a course on the Most Holy Eucharist.

With the familiarity of those times, I can tell you, dear Professors and students, that if the effort of study and teaching is to have any meaning in relation to God's Kingdom, it must be sustained by the theological virtues. In fact, the immediate object of the different branches of theological knowledge is God himself, revealed in Jesus Christ, God with a human face.

Even when, as in Canon Law and in Church History, the immediate object is the People of God in its visible, historical dimension, the deeper analysis of the topic urges us once again to contemplation, in the faith, of the mystery of the Risen Christ. It is he, present in his Church, who leads her among the events of the time towards eschatological fullness, a goal to which we have set out sustained by hope.

However, knowing God is not enough. For a true encounter with him one must also love him. Knowledge must become love.

The study of Theology, Canon Law and Church History is not only knowledge of the propositions of the faith in their historical formulation and practical application, but is also always knowledge of them in faith, hope and charity.

The Spirit alone searches the depths of God (cf. I Cor 2:10); thus, only in listening to the Spirit can one search the depths of the riches, wisdom and knowledge of God (cf. Rom 11:33).

We listen to the Spirit in prayer, when the heart opens to contemplation of God's mystery which was revealed to us in Jesus Christ the Son, image of the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15), constituted Head of the Church and Lord of all things (cf. Eph 1:10; Col 1:18).

Since its origins as the Collegium Romanum, the Gregorian University has been distinguished for the study of philosophy and theology. It would take too long to list the names of the outstanding philosophers and theologians who have followed one another in the Chairs of this academic Centre; we should also add to them those of the famous canon lawyers and Church historians who expended their energies within these prestigious walls.

They all made a substantial contribution to the progress of the branches of knowledge they studied, hence, they offered a precious service to the Apostolic See in the exercise of its doctrinal, disciplinary and pastoral role. With the development of the times, outlooks necessarily change.

Today, one must take into account the confrontation with secular culture in many parts of the world, which not only tends to deny every sign of God's presence in the life of society and of the individual, but, with various means that bewilder and cloud the upright human conscience, is seeking to corrode the human being's capacity and readiness to listen to God.

Moreover, it is impossible to ignore relations with other religions, which will only prove constructive if we avoid all forms of ambiguity, which in a certain way undermine the essential content of Christian faith in Christ, the one Savior of all mankind (cf. Acts 4:12), and in the Church, the necessary sacrament of salvation for all humanity (cf. Declaration "Dominus Iesus," nn. 13-15; nn. 20-22: AAS 92 [2000] 742-765).

Here, I cannot forget the other human sciences which are encouraged at this famous University in the wake of the glorious academic tradition of the Roman College. The great prestige the Roman College acquired in the fields of mathematics, physics and astronomy is well known to all.

It suffices to remember that the "Gregorian" Calendar, so-called because it was desired by my Predecessor, Gregory XIII, and currently in use throughout the world, was compiled in 1582 by Fr Christopher Clavius, a Lecturer at the Roman College.

It suffices also to mention Fr Matteo Ricci, who took to as far as distant China the knowledge he had acquired as a disciple of Fr Clavius, in addition to his witness to the faith.

Today, the above-mentioned disciplines are no longer taught at the Gregorian University, but have been replaced by other human sciences such as psychology, the social sciences and social communications.

Thus, man desires to be more deeply understood, both in his profound personal dimension and his external dimension as a builder of society in justice and peace, and as a communicator of the truth.

For the very reason that these sciences concern the human being, they cannot set aside reference to God. In fact, man, both in his interiority and in his exteriority, cannot be fully understood unless he recognizes that he is open to transcendence.

Deprived of his reference to God, man cannot respond to the fundamental questions that trouble and will always trouble his heart concerning the end of his life, hence, also its meaning. As a result, it is no longer possible to introduce into society those ethical values that alone can guarantee a coexistence worthy of man.

Human destiny without reference to God cannot but be the desolation of anguish, which leads to desperation.

Only in reference to God's Love which is revealed in Jesus Christ can man find the meaning of his existence and live in hope, even if he must face evils that injure his personal existence and the society in which he lives.

Hope ensures that man does not withdraw into a paralyzing and sterile nihilism but opens himself instead to generous commitment within the society where he lives in order to improve it. This is the task that God entrusted to man when he created him in his own image and likeness, a task that fills every human being with the greatest possible dignity, but also with an immense responsibility.

It is in this perspective that you, Professors and Lecturers at the Gregorian, are called to train the students whom the Church entrusts to you. The integral formation of young people has been one of the traditional apostolates of the Society of Jesus since its origins; this is why the Roman College took on this mission at the outset.

The entrustment to the Society of Jesus in Rome, close to the Apostolic See, of The [Pontifical] German College, The Roman Seminary, The German-Hungarian College, The English College, The Greek College, The Scots College and The Irish College, was intended to ensure the formation of the clergy of those nations where the unity of the faith and communion with the Apostolic See had been broken.

These Colleges still send almost all their students or large numbers of them to the Gregorian University, in continuity with that original mission.

Down through history, many other Colleges have joined those mentioned above, so the task that weighs heavily upon your shoulders, dear Professors and Lecturers, is more demanding than ever!

Appropriately, therefore, after deep reflection, you have drafted a "Declaration of Intentions" which is essential for an institution like yours, since it sums up its nature and its mission.

On this basis you are nearing the conclusion of your revision of the Statutes of the University and of the General Rules, as well as of the Statutes and Rules of the various Faculties, Institutes and Centers.

This will help to define the identity of the Gregorian more clearly and allow for the drafting of academic programs better suited to the fulfillment of your mission, which is at the same time both easy and difficult.

It is easy because the identity and mission of the Gregorian have been clear since its earliest days, on the basis of the indications reaffirmed by so many Roman Pontiffs, of whom at least 16 were students at this University.

At the same time, it is a difficult mission because it implies constant fidelity to its own history and tradition so as not to lose its historical roots, and openness to contemporary reality to respond creatively, after attentive discernment, to the needs of the Church and the world today.

As a Pontifical Ecclesiastical University, this academic Centre is committed to "sentire in Ecclesia et cum Ecclesia." It is a commitment born from love for the Church, our Mother and the Bride of Christ. We must love her as Christ himself loved her, assuming the suffering of the world to complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions in our own flesh (cf. Col 1:24).

In this way, it will be possible to form new generations of priests, Religious and committed lay people. Indeed, it is only right to ask ourselves what type of formation we wish to impart to our students, whether priest, Religious or lay person.

Dear Professors and Lecturers, it is of course your intention to form priests who are learned but at the same time prepared to spend their lives serving all those whom the Lord entrusts to their ministry with an undivided heart, in humility and in austerity of life.

Thus, you intend to offer a solid intellectual training to men and women religious, so that they will be able to joyfully live the consecration God has given to them and to offer themselves as an eschatological sign of that future life to which we are all called.

Likewise, you wish to prepare competent lay men and women who will be able to carry out services and offices in the Church, and first and foremost, to be leaven of the Kingdom of God in the temporal sphere.

In this perspective, this very year, the University has initiated an interdisciplinary program to train lay people to live their specifically ecclesial vocation of ethical commitment in the public arena.

However, formation is also your responsibility, dear students.

There is no doubt that studying demands constant ascesis and self-denial, but it is precisely on this path that the person is trained in self-denial and the sense of duty.

In fact, what you learn today is what you will communicate tomorrow, when the sacred ministry or other services and offices for the benefit of the community will have been entrusted to you by the Church. What in all circumstances will give joy to your hearts will be the knowledge that you have always fostered upright intentions, thanks to which one may be certain of having sought and done the will of God alone. Obviously, all these things require a purification of the heart and discernment.

Dear sons of St Ignatius, once again the Pope entrusts to you this University, such an important institution for the universal Church and for so many particular Churches. It has always been a priority among the priorities of the apostolates of the Society of Jesus. It was in the university environment of Paris that St Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions developed the ardent desire to help souls by loving and serving God in all things, for his greater glory.

Impelled by the inner promptings of the Spirit, St Ignatius came to Rome, centre of Christianity, the See of the Successor of Peter, to found the Collegium Romanum here, the first University of the Society of Jesus.

Today, the Gregorian University is the university environment in which, even after 456 years, the desire of St Ignatius and his first companions to help souls to love and serve God in all things for his greater glory is being fulfilled.

I would say that here, within these walls, is achieved what Pope Julius III said on 21 July 1550 in the "formula Istituti", establishing that every member of the Society of Jesus was bound to "sub crucis vexillo Deo militare, et soli Domino ac Ecclesiae Ipsius sponsae, sub Romano Pontifice, Christi in terris Vicario, servire", committing himself "potissimum... ad fidei defensionem et propagationem, et profectum animarum in vita et doctrina christiana, per publicas praedicationes, lectiones et aliud quodcumque verbi Dei ministerium ..." (Apostolic Letter "Exposcit Debitum," n. 1).

This charismatic specificity of the Society of Jesus, expressed institutionally in the fourth vow of total availability to the Roman Pontiff in anything he may see fit to command "ad profectum animarum et fidei propagationem" (ibid., n. 3), is also evident in the fact that the Superior General of the Company of Jesus summons from across the world the Jesuits best suited to carrying out the task of teaching at this University.

Knowing that this might involve the sacrifice of other works and services to further the aims the Society proposes to achieve, the Church is deeply grateful to it and desires the Gregorian to preserve the Ignatian spirit that enlivens it, expressed in its pedagogical method and curriculum.

Dear friends, with fatherly affection, I entrust all of you who are the living stones of the Gregorian University -- Professors and Lecturers, students, non-teaching staff, benefactors and friends -- to the intercession of St Ignatius of Loyola, St Robert Bellarmine and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Queen of the Society of Jesus, who is referred to in the University's coat of arms with the title: "Sedes Sapientiae."

With these sentiments I impart the Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of an abundance of heavenly favors.


Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees

Theme Focuses on the Family

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's message for the 93rd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed Jan. 14. The theme for 2007 is "The Migrant Family."

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

On the occasion of the coming World Day of Migrants and Refugees, and looking at the Holy Family of Nazareth, icon of all families, I would like to invite you to reflect on the condition of the migrant family. The evangelist Matthew narrates that shortly after the birth of Jesus, Joseph was forced to leave for Egypt by night, taking the child and his mother with him, in order to flee the persecution of king Herod (cf. Mt 2:13-15). Making a comment on this page of the Gospel, my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God Pope Pius XII, wrote in 1952: "The family of Nazareth in exile, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, emigrants and taking refuge in Egypt to escape the fury of an evil king, are the model, the example and the support of all emigrants and pilgrims of every age and every country, of all refugees of any condition who, compelled by persecution and need, are forced to abandon their homeland, their beloved relatives, their neighbors, their dear friends, and move to a foreign land" ("Exsul familia," AAS 44, 1952, 649). In this misfortune experienced by the Family of Nazareth, obliged to take refuge in Egypt, we can catch a glimpse of the painful condition in which all migrants live, especially, refugees, exiles, evacuees, internally displaced persons, those who are persecuted. We can take a quick look at the difficulties that every migrant family lives through, the hardships and humiliations, the deprivation and fragility of millions and millions of migrants, refugees and internally displaced people. The Family of Nazareth reflects the image of God safeguarded in the heart of every human family, even if disfigured and weakened by emigration.

The theme of the next World Day of Migrants and Refugees -- "The migrant family" -- is in continuity with those of 1980, 1986 and 1993. It intends to underline further the commitment of the Church not only in favor of the individual migrant, but also of his family, which is a place and resource of the culture of life and a factor for the integration of values. The migrant's family meets many difficulties. The distance of its members from one another and unsuccessful reunification often result in breaking the original ties. New relationships are formed and new affections arise. Some migrants forget the past and their duties, as they are subjected to the hard trial of distance and solitude. If the immigrant family is not ensured of a real possibility of inclusion and participation, it is difficult to expect its harmonious development. The International Convention for the protection of the rights of all migrant workers and members of their families, which was enforced on July 1st, 2003, intends to defend men and women migrant workers and the members of their respective families. This means that the value of the family is recognized, also in the sphere of emigration, which is now a structural phenomenon of our societies. The Church encourages the ratification of the international legal instruments that aim to defend the rights of migrants, refugees and their families and, through its various Institutions and Associations, offers its advocacy that is becoming more and more necessary. To this end, it has opened Centers where migrants are listened to, Houses where they are welcomed, Offices for services offered to persons and families, with other initiatives set up to respond to the growing needs in this field.

Much is already being done for the integration of the families of immigrants, although much still remains to be done. There are real difficulties connected with some "defense mechanisms" on the part of the first generation immigrants, which run the risk of becoming an obstacle to the greater maturity of the young people of the second generation. This is why it is necessary to provide for legislative, juridical and social intervention to facilitate such an integration. In recent times, there is an increase in the number of women who leave their countries of origin in search of better conditions of life, in view of more promising professional prospects. However, women who end up as victims of trafficking of human beings and of prostitution are not few in number. In family reunification, social workers, especially religious women, can render an appreciated service of mediation that merits our gratitude more and more.

Regarding the integration of the families of immigrants, I feel it my duty to call your attention to the families of refugees, whose conditions seem to have gone worse in comparison with the past, also specifically regarding the reunification of family nuclei. In the camps assigned to them, in addition to logistic difficulties, and those of a personal character linked to the trauma and emotional stress caused by the tragic experiences they went through, sometimes there is also the risk of women and children being involved in sexual exploitation, as a survival mechanism. In these cases an attentive pastoral presence is necessary. Aside from giving assistance capable of healing the wounds of the heart, pastoral care should also offer the support of the Christian community, able to restore the culture of respect and have the true value of love found again. It is necessary to encourage those who are interiorly-wrecked to recover trust in themselves. Everything must also be done to guarantee the rights and dignity of the families and to assure them housing facilities according to their needs. Refugees are asked to cultivate an open and positive attitude towards their receiving society and maintain an active willingness to accept offers to participate in building together an integrated community that would be a "common household" for all.

Among migrants, there is a category that needs to be considered in a special way: the students from other countries, who are far from home, without an adequate knowledge of the language, at times without friends and often with a scholarship that is insufficient for their needs. Their condition is even worse if they are married. Through its Institutions, the Church exerts every effort to render the absence of family support for these young students less painful. It helps them integrate in the cities that receive them, by putting them in contact with families that are willing to offer them hospitality and facilitate knowing one another. As I had the opportunity to say on another occasion, helping foreign students is "an important field of pastoral action… Indeed, young people who leave their own country in order to study encounter many problems and especially the risk of an identity crisis" (L'Osservatore Romano, 15 December 2005).

Dear Brothers and Sisters, may the World Day of Migrants and Refugees become a useful occasion to build awareness, in the ecclesial community and public opinion, regarding the needs and problems, as well as the positive potentialities of migrant families. My thoughts go in a special way to those who are directly involved in the vast phenomenon of migration, and to those who expend their pastoral energy in the service of human mobility. The words of the apostle Paul, "caritas Christi urget nos" (2 Cor 5:14), urge us to give ourselves preferentially to our brothers and sisters who are most in need. With these sentiments, I invoke divine assistance on each one and I affectionately impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 18 October 2006



Papal Address to Academy of Sciences
"Cannot Replace Philosophy and Revelation"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to the members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of their plenary assembly being held in Rome.

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Your Excellencies,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to greet the members of Pontifical Academy of Sciences on the occasion of this Plenary Assembly, and I thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo for his kind words of greeting in your name. The theme of your meeting -- "Predictability in Science: Accuracy and Limitations" -- deals with a distinctive attribute of modern science. Predictability, in fact, is one of the chief reasons for science's prestige in contemporary society. The establishment of the scientific method has given the sciences the ability to predict phenomena, to study their development, and thus to control the environment in which man lives.

This increasing "advance" of science, and especially its capacity to master nature through technology, has at times been linked to a corresponding "retreat" of philosophy, of religion, and even of the Christian faith. Indeed, some have seen in the progress of modern science and technology one of the main causes of secularization and materialism: why invoke God's control over these phenomena when science has shown itself capable of doing the same thing? Certainly the Church acknowledges that "with the help of science and technology …, man has extended his mastery over almost the whole of nature", and thus "he now produces by his own enterprise benefits once looked for from heavenly powers" ("Gaudium et Spes," 33). At the same time, Christianity does not posit an inevitable conflict between supernatural faith and scientific progress. The very starting-point of Biblical revelation is the affirmation that God created human beings, endowed them with reason, and set them over all the creatures of the earth. In this way, man has become the steward of creation and God's "helper". If we think, for example, of how modern science, by predicting natural phenomena, has contributed to the protection of the environment, the progress of developing nations, the fight against epidemics, and an increase in life expectancy, it becomes clear that there is no conflict between God's providence and human enterprise. Indeed, we could say that the work of predicting, controlling and governing nature, which science today renders more practicable than in the past, is itself a part of the Creator's plan.

Science, however, while giving generously, gives only what it is meant to give. Man cannot place in science and technology so radical and unconditional a trust as to believe that scientific and technological progress can explain everything and completely fulfill all his existential and spiritual needs. Science cannot replace philosophy and revelation by giving an exhaustive answer to man's most radical questions: questions about the meaning of living and dying, about ultimate values, and about the nature of progress itself. For this reason, the Second Vatican Council, after acknowledging the benefits gained by scientific advances, pointed out that the "scientific methods of investigation can be unjustifiably taken as the supreme norm for arriving at truth", and added that "there is a danger that man, trusting too much in the discoveries of today, may think that he is sufficient unto himself and no longer seek the higher values" (ibid., 57).

Scientific predictability also raises the question of the scientist's ethical responsibilities. His conclusions must be guided by respect for truth and an honest acknowledgment of both the accuracy and the inevitable limitations of the scientific method. Certainly this means avoiding needlessly alarming predictions when these are not supported by sufficient data or exceed science's actual ability to predict. But it also means avoiding the opposite, namely a silence, born of fear, in the face of genuine problems. The influence of scientists in shaping public opinion on the basis of their knowledge is too important to be undermined by undue haste or the pursuit of superficial publicity. As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, once observed: "Scientists, precisely because they 'know more', are called to 'serve more'. Since the freedom they enjoy in research gives them access to specialized knowledge, they have the responsibility of using that knowledge wisely for the benefit of the entire human family" (Address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, 11 November 2002).

Dear Academicians, our world continues to look to you and your colleagues for a clear understanding of the possible consequences of many important natural phenomena. I think, for example, of the continuing threats to the environment which are affecting whole peoples, and the urgent need to discover safe, alternative energy sources available to all. Scientists will find support from the Church in their efforts to confront these issues, since the Church has received from her divine founder the task of guiding people's consciences towards goodness, solidarity and peace. Precisely for this reason she feels in duty bound to insist that science's ability to predict and control must never be employed against human life and its dignity, but always placed at its service, at the service of this and future generations.

There is one final reflection that the subject of your Assembly can suggest to us today. As some of the papers presented in the last few days have emphasized, the scientific method itself, in its gathering of data and in the processing and use of those data in projections, has inherent limitations that necessarily restrict scientific predictability to specific contexts and approaches. Science cannot, therefore, presume to provide a complete, deterministic representation of our future and of the development of every phenomenon that it studies. Philosophy and theology might make an important contribution to this fundamentally epistemological question by, for example, helping the empirical sciences to recognize a difference between the mathematical inability to predict certain events and the validity of the principle of causality, or between scientific indeterminism or contingency (randomness) and causality on the philosophical level, or, more radically, between evolution as the origin of a succession in space and time, and creation as the ultimate origin of participated being in essential Being.

At the same time, there is a higher level that necessarily transcends all scientific predictions, namely, the human world of freedom and history. Whereas the physical cosmos can have its own spatial-temporal development, only humanity, strictly speaking, has a history, the history of its freedom. Freedom, like reason, is a precious part of God's image within us, and it can never be reduced to a deterministic analysis. Its transcendence vis-à-vis the material world must be acknowledged and respected, since it is a sign of our human dignity. Denying that transcendence in the name of a supposed absolute ability of the scientific method to predict and condition the human world would involve the loss of what is human in man, and, by failing to recognize his uniqueness and transcendence, could dangerously open the door to his exploitation.

Dear friends, as I conclude these reflections, I once more assure you of my close interest in the activities of this Pontifical Academy and of my prayers for you and your families. Upon all of you I invoke Almighty God's blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.


Pope's Address at Lateran University
"God Is the Ultimate Truth to Whom All Reason Naturally Tends"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Oct. 21 when he visited the Lateran University.

* * *


Saturday, 21 October 2006

Extemporaneous greeting on his arrival:

I am happy to be here in "my" University, because this is the University of the Bishop of Rome. I know that here the truth is sought, and so ultimately, Christ is sought, because he is the Truth in person. This journey towards the truth -- trying to know the truth better in all of its expressions -- is in reality a fundamental ecclesial service.

A great Belgian theologian wrote a book, "Love of the Arts and the Desire of God", and has shown that in the monastic tradition the two things go together, because God is Word and speaks to us through Scripture. Therefore, suppose that we begin to read, study and deepen the knowledge of the Arts, and thus deepen our knowledge of the Word.

In this sense, the opening of the Library is both an academic, university event and a spiritual, theological event, precisely because through reading, on the path towards the truth, studying the words to find the Word, we are at the service of the Lord. A service of the Gospel for the world, because the world needs the truth. There is no freedom without truth; [without it] we are not in total harmony with the original idea of the Creator.

Thank you for your work! May the Lord bless you in this Academic Year.

* * *

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dearest Students,

I am particularly pleased to be able to share with you the beginning of the Academic Year, which coincides with the solemn inauguration of the new Library and of this Lecture Hall.

I thank the Grand Chancellor, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, for the words of welcome that he kindly addressed to me in the name of the entire academic community.

I greet the University Rector, Bishop Rino Fisichella, and I thank him for his speech opening this solemn academic event.

I greet the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, the Academic Authorities and all the Professors, and also all who work within the University. Then, I greet with special affection all the students, because the University is created for them.

I recall my last Visit to the Lateran with pleasure and, as if time had not elapsed, I would like to take up again the theme then under discussion, almost as though we had been interrupted only for a few seconds.

A context such as the academic one invites in its peculiar way to enter anew the theme of the crisis of culture and identity, which in these decades dramatically places itself before our eyes.

The University is one of the best qualified places to attempt to find opportune ways to exit from this situation. In the University, in fact, the wealth of tradition that remains alive through the centuries is preserved -- and especially the Library is an essential means to safeguard the richness of tradition -- in it and can be illustrated in the fecundity of the truth when it is welcomed in its authenticity with a simple and open soul.

In the University the young generations are formed who await a serious, demanding proposal, capable of responding in new contexts to the perennial question on the meaning of our existence. This expectation must not be disappointed.

The contemporary context seems to give primacy to an artificial intelligence that becomes ever more dominated by experimental techniques, and in this way forgets that all science must always safeguard man and promote his aspiration for the authentic good.

To overrate "doing", obscuring "being", does not help to recompose the fundamental balance that everyone needs in order to give their own existence a solid foundation and valid goal.

Every man, in fact, is called to give meaning to his own actions, above all when this is put in the perspective of a scientific discovery that weakens the very essence of personal life.

To let oneself be taken up by the taste for discovery without safeguarding the criteria that come from a more profound vision would be to fall easily into the drama of which an ancient myth speaks: Young Icarus, exhilarated by the flight towards absolute freedom and heedless of the warning of his old father Daedalus, flew ever nearer to the sun, forgetting that the wings with which he flew in the sky were made of wax. His violent fall and death were the price of his illusion.

The ancient fable has a perennially valid lesson. In life there are other illusions that one cannot trust without risking disastrous consequences for the existence of one's self and others.

The university professor has the duty not only to investigate the truth and to arouse perennial wonder from it, but also to foster its knowledge in every facet and to defend it from reductive and distorted interpretations.

To make the theme of truth central is not merely a speculative act, restricted to a small circle of thinkers; on the contrary, it is a vital question in order to give a more profound identity to personal life and to heighten responsibility in social relations (cf. Eph 4:25).

In fact, if the question of the truth and the concrete possibility for every person to be able to reach it is neglected, life ends up being reduced to a plethora of hypotheses, deprived of assurances and points of reference.

As the famous humanist, Erasmus, once said: "Opinions are the source of happiness at a cheap price! To understand the true essence of things, even if it treats of things of minimal importance, costs great endeavour" (cf. "The Praise of Folly," XL, VII).

It is this endeavour that the University must commit itself to accomplish; it passes through study and research in a spirit of patient perseverance. This endeavour, however, enables one to enter progressively into the heart of questions and to open oneself to passion for the truth and to the joy of finding it.

The words of the holy Bishop Anselm of Aosta remain totally current: "That I may seek you desiring you, that I may desire you seeking you, that I may find you loving you, and that loving you I may find you again" (cf. "Proslogion," 1).

May the space of silence and contemplation, which are the indispensable background upon which to gather the questions the mind raises, find within these walls attentive persons who know how to value the importance, the efficacy and the consequences for personal and social living.

God is the ultimate truth to whom all reason naturally tends, solicited by the desire to totally fulfil the journey assigned to it. God is not an empty word or an abstract hypothesis; on the contrary, he is the foundation upon which to build one's life.

To live in the world "veluti si Deus daretur" brings with it the assumption of a responsibility that knows how to be concerned with investigating every feasible route in order to come as near as possible to him who is the goal towards which everything tends (cf. I Cor 15:24).

The believer knows that this God has a Face and that once for all, with Jesus Christ, he has drawn near to each man.

The Second Vatican Council acutely recalled this: "For, by his Incarnation, he, the Son of God, has in a certain way united himself with each man. He worked with human hands, he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin" ("Gaudium et Spes," n. 22). To know him is to know the full truth, thanks to which one can find freedom: "You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free" (Jn 8:32).

Before concluding, I want to express deep appreciation for the construction of the new building complex that completes the university structure well, making it ever more suitable for study, research and the animation of life in the entire community.

You have wished to dedicate this Lecture Hall to my poor person. I thank you for the thought; I hope that it can be a fruitful centre of scientific activity through which the Lateran University can serve as an instrument for fruitful dialogue between the different religious and cultural realities, in the common search for ways that favour the good and the respect of all.

With these sentiments, while I ask the Lord to effuse in this place the abundance of his light, I entrust the itinerary of this Academic Year to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin, and to all I heartily impart the Apostolic Blessing.


Pope's Oct. 23 Address to University Students
"Be Disposed to Obedience to the Truth"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered In St. Peter's Basilica on Oct. 23, to professors and students of Rome's pontifical universities.

It came at the end of the Mass to open the academic year. Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presided over the Eucharistic celebration.

* * *

St Peter's Basilica
Monday, 23 October 2006

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

I am pleased to meet you at the end of Holy Mass and to thus offer you my wishes for the new Academic Year.

In the first place I greet Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, who has presided at the Eucharistic Concelebration, and I cordially thank him for the words he addressed to me in your name. I greet the Secretary and other collaborators of the Dicastery for Catholic Education, renewing to all the expression of my gratitude for the precious service rendered to the Church in such an important area as the formation of the young generations.

I extend my greeting to the Rectors, Professors and students of each Pontifical University and Athenaeum present here and to all those who are ideally joining us in prayer.

As every year, also this evening is the appointment with the Roman ecclesiastic academic community made up of about 15,000 people and characterized by the most varied origins. From the Church in every part of the world, in particular from newly established Dioceses and from missionary territories, seminarians and deacons come to Rome to attend the Pontifical Academies, also priests, deacons, Religious and not a few lay people to complete their licence and doctoral studies or to enroll in other specializations and updating courses.

Here they find professors and formation staff that in their turn are of various nationalities and from different cultures. Such variety, however, does not result in dispersion because, as expressed also in the highest form of today's liturgical celebration, all the Athenaeums, Faculties and Colleges tend to a greater unity, obeying a common criteria of formation, principally that of fidelity to the Magisterium.

Therefore, at the beginning of a new year, we give praise to the Lord for this singular community of professors and students, who manifest in an eloquent way the Catholic Church's universality and unity. It is a community that is all the more beautiful because it primarily addresses youth, giving them the opportunity to enter into contact with institutions of high theological and cultural value, and offering them at the same time the possibility of enriching ecclesial and pastoral experiences.

I would like to stress also on this occasion, as I have had the opportunity to do at various meetings with priests and seminarians, the primary importance of the spiritual life and the necessity to foster, along with cultural growth, a balanced human maturity and a profound ascetic and religious formation.

Whoever wants to be a friend of Jesus and become his authentic disciple - be it seminarian, priest, Religious or lay person - must cultivate an intimate friendship with him in meditation and prayer. The deepening of Christian truths and the study of theology and other religious disciplines presupposes an education to silence and contemplation, because one must become capable of listening to God speaking in the heart.

Thought must always be purified to be able to enter the dimension where God pronounces his creative and redemptive Word; his Word "comes out of silence", to use the beautiful _expression of St Ignatius of Antioch (Letter To the Magnesians, VIII, 2). Only if it is born from the silence of contemplation can our words have some value and usefulness, and not resemble the inflated discourses of the world that seek the consensus of public opinion.

The student who studies in an ecclesiastical institute must therefore be disposed to obedience to the truth and so cultivate a special ascesis of thought and word. This ascesis is based on loving familiarity with the Word of God and, I would say even more so, on that "silence" from which the Word originates in the dialogue of love between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. Also, we have access to such a dialogue through the holy humanity of Christ.

Therefore, dear friends, as the disciples of the Lord did, ask him: Master, "teach us to pray" (Lk 11: 1), and also: teach us to think, to write and to speak, because they are strictly connected.

These are the suggestions that I address to each one of you, dear brothers and sisters, at the beginning of the new Academic Year. I willingly accompany you, assuring you of a particular remembrance in prayer, so that the Holy Spirit illumine your hearts and lead you to a clear knowledge of Christ, able to transform you existence, because he alone has the words of everlasting life (cf. Jn 6: 68).

Your future apostolate will be rich and fruitful in the measure in which you prepare yourselves in these years, studying seriously. Above all, nourish your personal friendship with the Lord, tending to holiness and having as the sole goal of your existence the realization of the Kingdom of God.

I entrust these, my wishes, to the maternal intercession of Mary Most Holy, Seat of Wisdom. May she accompany you throughout this new year of study and grant your longings and hopes. With affection I impart to each one of you and to your study circles, as also to your dear ones, a special Apostolic Blessing.


Pope's Address at Screening of Film on John Paul I
"Teacher of Truth and Passionate Catechist"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sunday afternoon, after watching the premiere of the film "Pope Luciani: The Smile of God."

The film, produced by the Italian public television channel RAI, was viewed at the headquarters of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Present for the occasion were the president of RAI, senator Claudio Petruccioli; the director, Giorgio Capitani; and Neri Marcore, the actor who plays the role of Albino Luciani, who became Pope John Paul I.

* * *

Mr. President of RAI
Ladies and Gentlemen:

We have just watched together this beautiful film, which covers the most significant stages of the life of my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul I. I feel the urgent necessity to express my sincere gratitude first of all to you, Mr. President, and then to the Administrative Council and director general of RAI for having offered me and my collaborators this pleasing opportunity.

I greet those responsible for "RAI Fiction" and those of the Leone Cinematografica society, who have conceived and produced this interesting film. I express special greetings and gratitude to the director, Giorgio Capitani, to the different actors, especially Neri Marcore, who has interpreted Albino Luciani.

I also greet all of you, who accepted the invitation to participate in this meeting, in which we have been able to relive evocative moments of the life of the Church in the past century.

Above all we have been able to recall the gentle figure full of meekness of a Pontiff strong in faith, firm in principles, but always ready to welcome and smile. Faithful to tradition and open to renewal, the Servant of God Albino Luciani, as priest, bishop and Pope carried out a tireless pastoral activity, constantly stimulating the clergy and laity to pursue, in the different areas of the apostolate, the one and only ideal of holiness.

A teacher of truth and passionate catechist, he reminded all believers, with the fascinating simplicity that characterized him, of the commitment and joy of evangelization, underlining the beauty of Christian love, the only force able to defeat violence and to build a more fraternal humanity.

Finally, I gladly recall the devotion he felt for the Virgin. When he was patriarch of Venice he wrote: "It is impossible to conceive our life, the life of the Church, without the rosary, without the Marian feasts, without the Marian shrines and without the Virgin's images." It is beautiful to accept your invitation and to find, as he did, in the fact of placing himself humbly in Mary's hands, the secret of daily serenity and concrete commitment to peace in the world.

Once again, thank you, dear friends, for your presence. With affection, I bless you all and your dear ones.


Papal Address on Stem-Cell Research
"A Good Result Can Never Justify Intrinsically Unlawful Means"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Sept. 16 to the participants in the symposium on "Stem Cells: What Future for Therapy?" organized by the Pontifical Academy for Life.

* * *

Hall of the Swiss, Castel Gandolfo
Saturday, 16 September 2006

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I address a cordial greeting to you all. This meeting with you, scientists and scholars dedicated to specialized research in the treatment of diseases that are a serious affliction to humanity, is a special comfort to me.

I am grateful to the organizers who have promoted this Congress on a topic that has become more and more important in recent years. The specific theme of the Symposium is appropriately formulated with a question open to hope: "Stem cells: what future for therapy?".

I thank Bishop Elio Sgreccia, President of the Pontifical Academy for Life, for his kind words, also on behalf of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations (FIAMC), an association that has cooperated in organizing the Congress and is represented here by Prof. Gianluigi Gigli, outgoing President, and Prof. Simon de Castellvi, President-elect.

When science is applied to the alleviation of suffering and when it discovers on its way new resources, it shows two faces rich in humanity: through the sustained ingenuity invested in research, and through the benefit announced to all who are afflicted by sickness.

Those who provide financial means and encourage the necessary structures for study share in the merit of this progress on the path of civilization.

On this occasion, I would like to repeat what I said at a recent Audience: "Progress becomes true progress only if it serves the human person and if the human person grows: not only in terms of his or her technical power, but also in his or her moral awareness" (cf. General Audience, 16 August 2006).

In this light, somatic stem-cell research also deserves approval and encouragement when it felicitously combines scientific knowledge, the most advanced technology in the biological field and ethics that postulate respect for the human being at every stage of his or her existence.

The prospects opened by this new chapter in research are fascinating in themselves, for they give a glimpse of the possible cure of degenerative tissue diseases that subsequently threaten those affected with disability and death.

How is it possible not to feel the duty to praise all those who apply themselves to this research and all who support the organization and cover its expenses?

I would like in particular to urge scientific structures that draw their inspiration and organization from the Catholic Church to increase this type of research and to establish the closest possible contact with one another and with those who seek to relieve human suffering in the proper ways.

May I also point out, in the face of the frequently unjust accusations of insensitivity addressed to the Church, her constant support for research dedicated to the cure of diseases and to the good of humanity throughout her 2,000-year-old history.

If there has been resistance -- and if there still is -- it was and is to those forms of research that provide for the planned suppression of human beings who already exist, even if they have not yet been born. Research, in such cases, irrespective of efficacious therapeutic results is not truly at the service of humanity.

In fact, this research advances through the suppression of human lives that are equal in dignity to the lives of other human individuals and the lives of the researchers themselves.

History itself has condemned such a science in the past and will condemn it in the future, not only because it lacks the light of God but also because it lacks humanity.

I would like to repeat here what I already wrote some time ago: Here there is a problem that we cannot get around; no one can dispose of human life. An insurmountable limit to our possibilities of doing and of experimenting must be established. The human being is not a disposable object, but every single individual represents God's presence in the world (cf. J. Ratzinger, "God and the World," Ignatius Press, 2002).

In the face of the actual suppression of the human being there can be no compromises or prevarications. One cannot think that a society can effectively combat crime when society itself legalizes crime in the area of conceived life.

On the occasion of recent Congresses of the Pontifical Academy for Life, I have had the opportunity to reassert the teaching of the Church, addressed to all people of good will, on the human value of the newly conceived child, also when considered prior to implantation in the uterus.

The fact that you at this Congress have expressed your commitment and hope to achieve new therapeutic results from the use of cells of the adult body without recourse to the suppression of newly conceived human beings, and the fact that your work is being rewarded by results, are confirmation of the validity of the Church's constant invitation to full respect for the human being from conception. The good of human beings should not only be sought in universally valid goals, but also in the methods used to achieve them.

A good result can never justify intrinsically unlawful means. It is not only a matter of a healthy criterion for the use of limited financial resources, but also, and above all, of respect for the fundamental human rights in the area of scientific research itself.

I hope that God will grant your efforts -- which are certainly sustained by God who acts in every person of good will and for the good of all -- the joy of discovering the truth, wisdom in consideration and respect for every human being, and success in the search for effective remedies to human suffering.

To seal this hope, I cordially impart an affectionate Blessing to all of you, to your collaborators and to your relatives, as well as to the patients who will benefit from your ingenuity and resourcefulness and the results of your work, with the assurance of my special remembrance in prayer.


Papal Address to Muslim Leaders and Diplomats
"Lessons of the Past Must Help Us to Seek Paths of Reconciliation"


CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 25, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the papal summer residence of Castel Gandolfo, to leaders of Muslim communities in Italy and ambassadors of Muslim countries accredited to the Holy See.

* * *

Dear Cardinal Poupard,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Muslim Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you to this gathering that I wanted to arrange in order to strengthen the bonds of friendship and solidarity between the Holy See and Muslim communities throughout the world. I thank Cardinal Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, for the words that he has just addressed to me, and I thank all of you for responding to my invitation.

The circumstances which have given rise to our gathering are well known. I have already had occasion to dwell upon them in the course of the past week. In this particular context, I should like to reiterate today all the esteem and the profound respect that I have for Muslim believers, calling to mind the words of the Second Vatican Council which for the Catholic Church are the Magna Carta of Muslim-Christian dialogue: "The Church looks upon Muslims with respect. They worship the one God living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, who has spoken to humanity and to whose decrees, even the hidden ones, they seek to submit themselves wholeheartedly, just as Abraham, to whom the Islamic faith readily relates itself, submitted to God" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

Placing myself firmly within this perspective, I have had occasion, since the very beginning of my pontificate, to express my wish to continue establishing bridges of friendship with the adherents of all religions, showing particular appreciation for the growth of dialogue between Muslims and Christians (cf. Address to the Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, April 25, 2005).

As I underlined at Cologne last year, "Interreligious and intercultural dialogue between Christians and Muslims cannot be reduced to an optional extra. It is, in fact, a vital necessity, on which in large measure our future depends" (Meeting with Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, Aug. 20, 2005). In a world marked by relativism and too often excluding the transcendence and universality of reason, we are in great need of an authentic dialogue between religions and between cultures, capable of assisting us, in a spirit of fruitful cooperation, to overcome all the tensions together.

Continuing, then, the work undertaken by my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, I sincerely pray that the relations of trust which have developed between Christians and Muslims over several years, will not only continue, but will develop further in a spirit of sincere and respectful dialogue, based on ever more authentic reciprocal knowledge which, with joy, recognizes the religious values that we have in common and, with loyalty, respects the differences.

Interreligious and intercultural dialogue is a necessity for building together this world of peace and fraternity ardently desired by all people of good will. In this area, our contemporaries expect from us an eloquent witness to show all people the value of the religious dimension of life. Likewise, faithful to the teachings of their own religious traditions, Christians and Muslims must learn to work together, as indeed they already do in many common undertakings, in order to guard against all forms of intolerance and to oppose all manifestations of violence; as for us, religious authorities and political leaders, we must guide and encourage them in this direction.

Indeed, "although considerable dissensions and enmities between Christians and Muslims may have arisen in the course of the centuries, the Council urges all parties that, forgetting past things, they train themselves toward sincere mutual understanding and together maintain and promote social justice and moral values as well as peace and freedom for all people" (declaration "Nostra Aetate," No. 3).

The lessons of the past must therefore help us to seek paths of reconciliation, in order to live with respect for the identity and freedom of each individual, with a view to fruitful cooperation in the service of all humanity. As Pope John Paul II said in his memorable speech to young people at Casablanca in Morocco, "Respect and dialogue require reciprocity in all spheres, especially in that which concerns basic freedoms, more particularly religious freedom. They favor peace and agreement between peoples" (No. 5).

Dear friends, I am profoundly convinced that in the current world situation it is imperative that Christians and Muslims engage with one another in order to address the numerous challenges that present themselves to humanity, especially those concerning the defense and promotion of the dignity of the human person and of the rights ensuing from that dignity. When threats mount up against people and against peace, by recognizing the central character of the human person and by working with perseverance to see that human life is always respected, Christians and Muslims manifest their obedience to the Creator, who wishes all people to live in the dignity that he has bestowed upon them.

Dear friends, I pray with my whole heart that the merciful God will guide our steps along the paths of an ever more authentic mutual understanding. At this time when for Muslims the spiritual journey of the month of Ramadan is beginning, I address to all of them my cordial good wishes, praying that the Almighty may grant them serene and peaceful lives. May the God of peace fill you with the abundance of his blessings, together with the communities that you represent!


Papal Address at Shrine of the Holy Face
"To 'See God' It Is Necessary to Know Christ"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 7, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered last Friday when he went on pilgrimage to the Shrine of the Holy Face in Manoppello, Italy.

* * *

Before entering the shrine, the Holy Father greeted the faithful gathered outside:

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you for this most cordial welcome. I see that the Church is a large family. Wherever the Pope goes the family meets with great joy.

For me this is a sign of lively faith, of communion and of the peace that faith creates, and I am deeply grateful to you for this welcome. Thus, I see on your faces the full beauty of this region of Italy here.

A special greeting to the sick: We know that the Lord is especially close to you, helps you and accompanies you in your sufferings. You are in our prayers, and pray for us, too!

I offer a special greeting to the young people and children making their first Communion. Thank you for your enthusiasm and for your faith.

As the Psalms say, we are all "seeking the Face of the Lord." And this is also the meaning of my visit. Let us seek together to know the Face of the Lord ever better, and in the Face of the Lord let us find this impetus of love and peace which also reveals to us the path of our life.

Thank you, and my best wishes to you all!

* * *

Venerable Brother in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

First of all, I must once again say a heartfelt "thank you" for this welcome, for your words, Your Excellency, so profound, so friendly, for the _expression of your friendship and for the deeply meaningful gifts: the Face of Christ venerated here, for me, for my house, and then the gifts of your land that express the beauty and generosity of the earth, of the people who live and work here, and the goodness of the Creator himself. I simply want to thank the Lord for today's simple, family meeting in a place where we can meditate on the mystery of divine love, contemplating the image of the Holy Face.

I extend my most heartfelt gratitude to all of you present here for your cordial welcome and for the dedication and discretion with which you have supported my private pilgrimage, which nevertheless, as an ecclesial pilgrimage, cannot be entirely private.

I greet and thank in particular, I repeat, your archbishop, a long-standing friend. We worked together in the Theological Commission. And in many conversations I always learned from his wisdom, and also from his books.

Thank you for your gifts which I very much appreciate as "signs," as Archbishop Forte has called them.

Indeed, they are signs of the affective and effective communion which binds the people of this beloved Abruzzi region to the Successor of Peter.

I address a special greeting to you, priests, men and women religious and seminarians gathered here. I am particularly glad to see a large number of seminarians: the future of the Church in our midst. Since it is impossible to meet the entire diocesan community -- perhaps that will be for another time -- I am glad that you are representing it, people already dedicated to the priestly ministry and the consecrated life or who are on the way to the priesthood.

You are people whom I like to think of as in love with Christ, attracted by him and determined to make your own life a continuous quest for his Holy Face.

Lastly, I address a grateful thought to the community of the Capuchin Fathers who are offering us hospitality and who for centuries have cared for this shrine, the goal of so many pilgrims.

During my pause for prayer just now, I was thinking of the first two apostles who, urged by John the Baptist, followed Jesus to the banks of the Jordan River, as we read at the beginning of John's Gospel (cf. 1:35-37).

The evangelist recounts that Jesus turned around and asked them: "What do you seek?" And they answered him, "Rabbi ... where are you staying?" And he said to them, "Come and see" (cf. John 1:38-39).

That very same day, the two who were following him had an unforgettable experience which prompted them to say: "We have found the Messiah" (John 1:41).

The One whom a few hours earlier they had thought of as a simple "rabbi" had acquired a very precise identity: the identity of Christ who had been awaited for centuries. But, in fact, what a long journey still lay ahead of those disciples!

They could not even imagine how profound the mystery of Jesus of Nazareth could be or how unfathomable, inscrutable, his "Face" would prove, so that even after living with Jesus for three years, Philip, who was one of them, was to hear him say at the Last Supper: "Have I been with you so long, and yet you do not know me, Philip?" And then the words that sum up the novelty of Jesus' revelation: "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9).

Only after his passion when they encountered him risen, when the Spirit enlightened their minds and their hearts, would the apostles understand the significance of the words Jesus had spoken and recognize him as the Son of God, the Messiah promised for the world's redemption. They were then to become his unflagging messengers, courageous witnesses even to martyrdom.

"He who has seen me has seen the Father." Yes, dear brothers and sisters, to "see God" it is necessary to know Christ and to let oneself be molded by his Spirit who guides believers "into all the truth" (cf. John 16:13). Those who meet Jesus, who let themselves be attracted by him and are prepared to follow him even to the point of sacrificing their lives, personally experience, as he did on the cross, that only the "grain of wheat" that falls into the earth and dies, bears "much fruit" (John 12:24).

This is the path of Christ, the way of total love that overcomes death: He who takes it and "hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life" (John 12:25). In other words, he lives in God already on this earth, attracted and transformed by the dazzling brightness of his Face.

This is the experience of God's true friends, the saints who, in the brethren, especially the poorest and neediest, recognized and loved the Face of that God, lovingly contemplated for hours in prayer. For us they are encouraging examples to imitate; they assure us that if we follow this path, the way of love, with fidelity, we too, as the psalmist sings, will be satisfied with God's presence (cf. Psalm 17[16]:15).

"'Jesu ... quam bonus te quaerentibus!' -- How kind you are, Jesus, to those who seek you!" This is what we have just sung in the ancient hymn "Jesu, dulcis memoria" [Jesus, the very thought of you], which some people attribute to St. Bernard.

It is a hymn that acquires rare eloquence in the shrine dedicated to the Holy Face, which calls to mind Psalm 24[23]: "Such is the generation of those who seek him, who seek the face of the God of Jacob" (v. 6).

But which is "the generation" of those who seek the Face of God, which generation deserves to "ascend the hill of the Lord" and "stand in his holy place"?

The psalmist explains: It consists of those who have "clean hands and a pure heart," who do not speak falsehoods, who do not "swear deceitfully" to their neighbor (cf. vv. 3-4). Therefore, in order to enter into communion with Christ and to contemplate his Face, to recognize the Lord's Face in the faces of the brethren and in daily events, we require "clean hands and a pure heart."

Clean hands, that is, a life illumined by the truth of love that overcomes indifference, doubt, falsehood and selfishness; and pure hearts are essential too, hearts enraptured by divine beauty, as the Little Teresa of Lisieux says in her prayer to the Holy Face, hearts stamped with the hallmark of the Face of Christ.

Dear priests, if the holiness of the Face of Christ remains impressed within you, pastors of Christ's flock, do not fear: The faithful entrusted to your care will also be infected with it and transformed.

And you, seminarians, who are training to be responsible guides of the Christian people, do not allow yourselves to be attracted by anything other than Jesus and the desire to serve his Church.

I would like to say as much to you, men and women religious, so that your activities may be a visible reflection of divine goodness and mercy.

"Your Face, O Lord, I seek": Seeking the Face of Jesus must be the longing of all of us Christians; indeed, we are "the generation" which seeks his Face in our day, the Face of the "God of Jacob." If we persevere in our quest for the Face of the Lord, at the end of our earthly pilgrimage, he, Jesus, will be our eternal joy, our reward and glory for ever: "Sis Jesu nostrum gaudium, qui es futurus praemium: sit nostra in te gloria, per cuncta semper saecula."

This is the certainty that motivated the saints of your region, among whom I would like to mention in particular Gabriel of Our Lady of Sorrows and Camillus de Lellis; our reverent remembrance and our prayer is addressed to them.

But let us now address a thought of special devotion to the "Queen of all the saints," the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate in the various shrines and chapels scattered across the valleys and mountains of the Abruzzi region. May Our Lady, in whose face -- more than in any other creature -- we can recognize the features of the Incarnate Word, watch over the families and parishes and over the cities and nations of the whole world.

May the Mother of the Creator also help us to respect nature, a great gift of God that we can admire here, looking at the marvelous mountains surrounding us. This gift, however, is exposed more and more to the serious risks of environmental deterioration and must therefore be defended and protected. This is urgently necessary, as Archbishop Forte noted and as is appropriately highlighted by the Day of Reflection and Prayer for the Safeguarding of Creation, which is being celebrated by the Church in Italy this very day.

Dear brothers and sisters, as I thank you once again for your presence and for your gifts, I invoke the Blessing of God upon you and upon all your loved ones with the ancient biblical formula: "May the Lord bless you and keep you: May the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you: may the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace" (cf. Numbers 6:24-26). Amen!


Papal Address After Performance of a Péguy Play
Benedict XVI Hails "Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 4, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address, in the courtyard of the Apostolic Palace of Castel Gandolfo, following the performance on Aug. 19 of Charles Péguy's "The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc."

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Dear Friends,

At the end of this remarkable performance of "The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc" which you have offered me this evening, I very warmly thank Archbishop Bernard Barsi of Monaco and the Archdiocese of Monaco who are responsible for this felicitous idea, which I found touching.

I also cordially greet the ambassador of the principality of Monaco to the Holy See and the other authorities present.

Charles Péguy's work, which has just been presented to us by three very talented actresses, has led us to discover Joan of Arc's soul and the root of her vocation.

Through a deep reflection on topics ever present in contemporary thought, we have been introduced into the heart of the Christian mystery. In this extremely rich text, Péguy has been able to convey forcefully Joan's passionate cry to God, imploring him to put an end to the wretchedness and suffering she sees around her, thereby expressing mankind's anxiety and search for happiness.

The remarkable interpretation of "The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc" that has been offered to us also showed us that Joan's pathetic cry, which betrays her distress and helplessness, reveals above all her ardent and lucid faith, marked by hope and courage. Leading us even deeper into meditation, Péguy enables us to glimpse in the "Mystery" of Christ's passion what ultimately gives meaning to the prayer of this young woman, whose spiritual power cannot but move us.

The performance of this work for us this evening seems to me especially appropriate. Indeed, in the international context familiar to us today, in the face of the tragic events in the Middle East and situations of suffering caused by violence in many regions of the world, the message transmitted by Charles Péguy in "The Mystery of the Charity of Joan of Arc" remains a most profitable source of reflection.

May God hear the prayer of the saint of Domremy and our own, and give to our world the peace to which it aspires!

I would like to express my gratitude to the producer, who has been able with great restraint to bring out the essential elements of this masterpiece by Charles Péguy.

I warmly congratulate the actresses who have given us a high-quality interpretation. They have put at the service of the text not only their professional acting skills, but their own interiority, thus drawing us into the sentiments of the characters whom they brought to life before us.

My gratitude also goes to the technicians and to all the people who helped put on this performance, which we will remember with pleasure.

At the end of this beautiful evening, may St. Joan of Arc help us to penetrate the mystery of Christ ever more deeply, to find in it the path to life and happiness!

I wholeheartedly implore an abundant outpouring of the Lord's blessings upon you all.


Benedict XVI's Reflection on Peace
"Our Lord Has Conquered With a Love Capable of Going to Death"

RHEMES-SAINT-GEORGES, Italy, JULY 25, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered last Sunday during a ceremony for Mideast peace over which he presided in the church of Rhemes-Saint-Georges in the Aosta Valley.

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I only wish to offer some brief words of meditation on the reading we have heard. With the background of the tragic situation of the Middle East, we are moved by the beauty of the vision illustrated by the Apostle Paul (cf. Ephesians 2:13-18): Christ is our peace. He has reconciled one another, Jews and pagans, uniting them in his Body. He has overcome the enmity with his Body, on the cross. With his death, he has overcome the enmity and has united us all in his peace.

However, more than the beauty of this vision, we are impressed by the contrast with the reality that we experience and see. And, initially, we can do no more than ask the Lord: "But, Lord, what is your apostle saying to us: 'They have been reconciled'." In reality, we see that they are not reconciled. There is still war between Christians, Muslims, Jews; and others foment war and all continues full of enmity, of violence. Where is the efficacy of your sacrifice? Where in history is this peace of which your apostle speaks to us?

We men cannot resolve the mystery of history, the mystery of human freedom that says "no" to the peace of God. We cannot resolve the whole mystery of the relationship between God and man, of his action and our response. We must accept the mystery. However, there are elements of response that the Lord offers us.

A first element is that this reconciliation of the Lord, this sacrifice of his, is not without efficacy. There is the great reality of the communion of the universal Church, of all peoples, the network of Eucharistic Communion, which transcends the frontiers of cultures, civilizations, peoples and times.

This communion exists; these "islands of peace" exist in the Body of Christ. They exist. And forces of peace exist in the world. If we look at history, we can see the great saints of charity who have created "oases" of this peace of God in the world, who have again lit their light, and have been able to reconcile and to create peace again. The martyrs exist who suffered with Christ; they have given this witness of peace, of love, which puts a limit to violence.

And, seeing that the reality of peace exists, though the other reality persists, we can reflect further on the message of this Letter of St. Paul to the Ephesians. The Lord has conquered on the cross. He has not conquered with a new empire, with a force that is more powerful than others, capable of destroying them; he has not conquered in a human manner, as we imagine, with an empire stronger than the other. He has conquered with a love capable of going to death.

This is God's new way of conquering: He does not oppose violence with a stronger violence. He opposes violence precisely with the contrary: with love to the end, his cross. This is God's humble way of overcoming: With his love -- and only thus is it possible -- he puts a limit to violence. This is a way of conquering that seems very slow to us, but it is the true way of overcoming evil, of overcoming violence, and we must trust this divine way of overcoming.

To trust means to enter actively in this divine love, to participate in this endeavor of pacification, to be in line with what the Lord says: "Blessed are the peacemakers, the agents of peace, because they are the sons of God." We must take, in the measure of our possibilities, our love to all those who are suffering, knowing that the Judge of the Last Judgment identifies himself with those who suffer.

Therefore, what we do to those who suffer, we do to the Last Judge of our life. This is important: At this moment we can take his victory to the world, taking part actively in his charity. Today, in a multicultural and multireligious world, many are tempted to say: "For peace in the world, among religions, among cultures, it is better not to speak too much of what is specific to Christianity, that is, of Jesus, of the Church, of the sacraments. Let us be content with what can be more or less common .?"

But it is not true. Precisely at this time, a time of great abuse of the name of God, we have need of the God who overcomes on the cross, who does not conquer with violence, but with his love. Precisely at this time we have need of the Face of Christ to know the true Face of God and so be able to take reconciliation and light to this world. For this reason, together with love, with the message of love, we must also take the testimony of this God, of God's victory, precisely through the nonviolence of his cross.

In this way, we return to the starting point. What we can do is to give witness of love, witness of faith and, above all, to raise a cry to God: We can pray! We are certain that our Father hears the cry of his children. In the Mass, as we prepare for holy Communion, to receive the Body of Christ that unites us, we pray with the Church: "Deliver us, Lord, from all evils, and grant us peace in our days." May this be our prayer at this time: "Deliver us from all evils and give us peace," not tomorrow, or the day after: Lord, give us peace today! Amen.


Benedict XVI's Address on Sacred Music
"Renewal Can Only Happen in the Wake of the Great Tradition of the Past"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave on sacred music, delivered in the Sistine Chapel on June 24, 2006, after a concert sponsored by the Domenico Bartolucci Foundation.

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Your Eminences,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,

Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

At the end of this concert, evocative because of the place we are in -- the Sistine Chapel -- and because of the spiritual intensity of the compositions performed, we spontaneously feel in our hearts the need to praise, to bless and to thank. This sentiment is addressed first of all to the Lord, supreme beauty and harmony, who has given men and women the ability to express themselves with the language of music and song.

"Ad Te levavi animam meam," (to you, Lord, I lift up my soul), the Offertory of Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina has just said, echoing Psalm (25[24]:1).

Our souls are truly lifted up to God, and I would therefore like to express my gratitude to Maestro Domenico Bartolucci and to the foundation named after him that planned and put on this event.

Dear Maestro, you have offered to me and to all of us a precious gift, preparing the program in which you wisely situated a choice of masterpieces by the "prince" of sacred polyphonic music and some of the works that you yourself have composed.

In particular, I thank you for having wished to conduct the concert personally, and for the motet "Oremus pro Pontefice" that you composed immediately after my election to the See of Peter. I am also grateful to you for the kind words you have just addressed to me, witnessing to your love for the art of music and your passion for the good of the Church.

Next, I warmly congratulate the choir of the foundation and I extend my "thank you" to all who have collaborated in various ways.

Lastly, I address a cordial greeting to those who have honored our meeting with their presence.

All the passages we have heard -- and especially the performance as a whole in which the 16th and 20th centuries run parallel -- together confirm the conviction that sacred polyphony, particularly that of the so-called "Roman School," is a legacy to preserve with care, to keep alive and to make known, not only for the benefit of experts and lovers of it but also for the entire ecclesial community, for which it constitutes a priceless spiritual, musical and cultural heritage.

The Bartolucci Foundation aims precisely to safeguard and spread the classical and contemporary tradition of this famous polyphonic school that has always been distinguished by its form, focused on singing alone without an instrumental accompaniment. An authentic renewal of sacred music can only happen in the wake of the great tradition of the past, of Gregorian chant and sacred polyphony.

For this reason, in the field of music as well as in the areas of other art forms, the ecclesial community has always encouraged and supported people in search of new forms of _expression without denying the past, the history of the human spirit which is also a history of its dialogue with God.

Venerable Maestro, you have also always sought to make the most of sacred music as a vehicle for evangelization. Through numberless concerts performed in Italy and abroad, with the universal language of art, the Pontifical Musical Choir conducted by you has thus cooperated in the actual mission of the Pontiffs, which is to disseminate the Christian message in the world. And you still continue to carry out this task under the attentive direction of Maestro Giuseppe Liberto.

Dear brothers and sisters, after being pleasantly uplifted by this music, let us turn our gaze to the Virgin Mary, placed at Christ's right hand in Michelangelo's Last Judgment: let us especially entrust all lovers of sacred music to her motherly protection, so that always enlivened by genuine faith and sincere love of the Church, they may make their precious contribution to liturgical prayer and effectively contribute to the proclamation of the Gospel.

To Maestro Bartolucci, to the members of the foundation and to all of you who are present here, I cordially impart the apostolic blessing.


Benedict XVI's Address to Italian Catholic Media
"Never Grow Weary of Building Bridges"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave June 2 to the personnel of the Catholic media of the Italian episcopal conference.

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Your Eminence, Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord,

Today, I am pleased to meet in the Vatican with the personnel of the Catholic daily, Avvenire, of the television channel, Sat2000, of the radio broadcasting station InBlu, and of the press agency, SIR.

This is a very important group in the media connected with the Italian bishops' conference, which is represented here by its president, Cardinal Camillo Ruini, to whom I first extend my respectful greeting.

I then greet with affection each one of you, and I thank the director of Avvenire and of Sat2000 for the kind words on behalf of everyone present.

Dear friends, you carry out a truly important role: Your contribution, in fact, gives continuity to the commitment of Italian Catholics to bring Christ's Gospel to the life of the nation.

I am pleased to remember, in fact, that in the years immediately following the council, Pope Paul VI strongly desired that Avvenire be founded as the national Catholic newspaper. It was a courageous decision to then extend your commitment to the field of radio and television broadcasting, using the most modern technologies as the conciliar decree "Inter Mirifica" had hoped (cf. nos. 13-14).

You have thus become one of the instruments for the dissemination of the Christian message in Italy.

Faith and culture

To grasp the overall significance of the work to which you dedicate yourselves every day, it might be helpful to reflect briefly on the relations between faith and culture as they have developed in recent decades.

As you know well, Christianity helped to shape European culture down the centuries.

With the advent of illuminism, Western culture began to drift more and more swiftly away from its Christian foundations. Especially in the most recent period, the break-up of the family and of marriage, attacks on human life and its dignity, the reduction of faith to a subjective experience and the consequent secularization of public awareness are seen as the stark and dramatic consequences of this distancing.

Yet, in various parts of Europe experiences and forms of Christian culture exist that are growing stronger or reemerging with increased vitality. In particular, the Catholic faith is still substantially present in the life of the Italian people, and the signs of its renewed vitality are visible to all.

In your work as communicators inspired by the Gospel, constant discernment is therefore essential.

As you know well, the pastors of the Church in Italy are anxious to preserve those Christian forms that derive from the great tradition of the Italian people and mould community life, bringing them up to date, purifying them where necessary, but above all reinforcing and encouraging them.

It is also your task to sustain and promote the new Christian experiences that are being born, and to help them to develop an ever clearer awareness of their own ecclesial roots and of the role that they can play in the society and culture of Italy.

All this, dear friends, is part of your daily labor, of a task that must not be carried out in an abstract or purely intellectual way, but with attention to the thousands of aspects of the practical life of a people, its problems, its needs and its hopes.

May the certainty that the Christian faith is open to "whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, gracious" in the culture of peoples, as the Apostle Paul taught the Philippians (cf. 4:8), sustain you and give you courage in your labors.

Thus, continue in your work with this spirit and this attitude, bearing a shining witness of a profoundly Christian life and consequently remaining tenaciously united to Christ, so that you can look at the world with his own eyes.

Be happy to belong to the Church and to add your voice and your reasoning to the great communications circuit. Never grow weary of building bridges of understanding and communication between the ecclesial experience and public opinion. In this way you will be protagonists of a form of communication that is not evasive but friendly to the service of our contemporaries.

I warmly hope that Catholics and all Italians desirous of authentic values will give their attention and support to this communication.

For my part, I assure you of my constant closeness, and in order that your work may bear ever more abundant fruit, I impart with affection to you and your families the apostolic blessing, which favors the light and strength that only God can instill in the hearts of his children.


Papal Address to Rome Diocesan Congress
"Faith Is a Community Act and Attitude"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave June 5 when opening the ecclesial congress of the Diocese of Rome. The theme of the congress which was "The Joy of Faith and the Education of New Generations."

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to be with you once again to introduce with my reflection our diocesan convention, which is dedicated to a theme of great beauty and paramount pastoral importance: The joy that derives from faith and its relationship with the education of the new generations.

Thus, in a perspective that more directly concerns the young, we are returning to and further developing the subject we began discussing a year ago on the occasion of the previous diocesan convention.

We then focused on the role of the family and of the Christian community in the formation of the person and the transmission of faith.

I greet each one of you with affection, bishops, priests, deacons, men and women religious and lay people engaged in witnessing to our faith. In particular, I greet you young people who are planning to combine the process of your personal formation with taking on ecclesial and missionary responsibility for other young people and children.

I warmly thank the cardinal vicar for his words on behalf of you all.

With this convention and with the pastoral year that will be inspired by its content, the Diocese of Rome is journeying on through the long period that began 10 years ago now with the City Mission desired by Pope John Paul II, my beloved predecessor.

Actually, its goal is still the same: To revive the faith in our communities and seek to reawaken or inspire it in all the individuals and families of this great city, where the faith was preached and the Church already established by the first generation of Christians, and the Apostles Peter and Paul in particular.

In the past three years you have focused your attention especially on the family in order to consolidate this fundamental human reality with the Gospel truth -- today, unfortunately, seriously undermined and threatened -- and to help it carry out its indispensable mission in the Church and in society.

The priority we are now giving to the education in the faith of the new generations does not mean that we are abandoning our commitment to the family, which is primarily responsible for education.

Rather, we are responding to the widespread concern of many believing families, who fear, in today's social and cultural context, that they might not succeed in passing on to their children the precious heritage of the faith.

In fact, discovering the beauty and joy of faith is a path that every new generation must take on its own, for all that we have that is most our own and most intimate is staked on faith: our heart, our mind, our freedom, in a deeply personal relationship with the Lord at work within us.

Just as radically, however, faith is a community act and attitude; it is the "we believe" of the Church.

Thus, the joy of faith is a joy shared: as the Apostle John says: "That which we have seen and heard [the word of life] we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us. ... And we are writing this that our joy may be complete" (1 John 3:4).

Consequently, educating the new generations in the faith is an important and fundamental task that involves the entire Christian community.

Dear brothers and sisters, today you have experienced how various aspects of this educational task have become very difficult, but for this very reason it is even more important and especially urgent.

Indeed, it is possible to identify two basic lines of our current secularized society that are clearly interdependent. They impel people to move away from the Christian proclamation and cannot but have an effect on those whose inclinations and choices of life are developing.

One of these is agnosticism, which derives from the reduction of human intelligence to a mere practical mechanism that tends to stifle the religious sense engraved in the depths of our nature.

The other is the process of relativization and uprooting, which corrodes the most sacred bonds and most worthy affections of the human being, with the result that people are debilitated and our reciprocal relations rendered precarious and unstable.

It is in this very situation that all of us, and especially our children, adolescents and young people, need to live faith as joy and to savor that profound tranquility to which the encounter with the Lord gives rise.

In the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," I wrote: "We have come to believe in God's love: In these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. 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).

The source of Christian joy is the certainty of being loved by God, loved personally by our Creator, by the one who holds the entire universe in his hands and loves each one of us and the whole great human family with a passionate and faithful love, a love greater than our infidelities and sins, a love which forgives.

This love "is so great that it turns God against himself," as appears definitively in the mystery of the cross: "So great is God's love for man that by becoming man he follows him even into death, and so reconciles justice and love" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 10).

Dear brothers and sisters, this certitude and this joy of being loved by God must be conveyed in some palpable and practical way to each one of us, and especially to the young generations who are entering the world of faith. In other words: Jesus said he was the "way" that leads to the Father, as well as the "truth" and the "life" (cf. John 14:5-7).

Thus, the question is: How can our children and young people, practically and existentially, find in him this path of salvation and joy? This is precisely the great mission for which the Church exists -- as the family of God and the company of friends into which we are already integrated with baptism as tiny children -- in which our faith and joy and the certainty of being loved by the Lord must grow.

It is therefore indispensable -- and this is the task entrusted to Christian families, priests, catechists and educators, to young people themselves among their peers and to our parishes, associations and movements, and lastly to the entire diocesan community -- that the new generations experience the Church as a company of friends who are truly dependable and close in all life's moments and circumstances, whether joyful and gratifying or arduous and obscure; as a company that will never fail us, not even in death, for it carries within it the promise of eternity.

Dear children and young people of Rome, I would like to ask you in turn to entrust yourselves to the Church and to love and trust her, because in her the Lord is present and because she seeks nothing but your true good.

Anyone who knows he is loved is in turn prompted to love. It is the Lord himself, who loved us first, who asks us to place at the center of our lives love for him and for the people he has loved.

It is especially adolescents and young people, who feel within them the pressing call to love, who need to be freed from the widespread prejudice that Christianity, with its commandments and prohibitions, sets too many obstacles in the path of the joy of love and, in particular, prevents people from fully enjoying the happiness that men and women find in their love for one another.

On the contrary, Christian faith and ethics do not wish to stifle love but to make it healthy, strong and truly free: This is the exact meaning of the Ten Commandments, which are not a series of "noes" but a great "yes" to love and to life.

Human love, in fact, needs to be purified, to mature and also to surpass itself if it is to be able to become fully human, to be the beginning of true and lasting joy, to respond, that is, to the question of eternity which it bears within it and which it cannot renounce without betraying itself.

This is the principal reason why love between a man and a woman is only completely fulfilled in marriage.

In all educational work, in the formation of the person and of the Christian, we must not shelve the important issue of love through fear or embarrassment: Were we to do so, we would present a disembodied Christianity that could not seriously interest the young person who is opening himself or herself to life.

Yet we must also introduce this young person to the integral dimension of Christian love, where love for God and love for man are indissolubly united, and where love of neighbor is a particularly concrete commitment.

Christians cannot be satisfied with words or deceptive ideologies but must go to meet the needs of their brethren, truly offering themselves without being content with some sporadic good deed.

Proposing to children a practical experience of service to their needier neighbor is therefore part of an authentic and complete education in the faith.

Together with the need to love, the desire for truth is inherent in the human being's very nature.

Therefore, in the education of the new generations, the question of the truth can certainly not be avoided: On the contrary, it must have a central position.

By asking the question about the truth, we are in fact broadening the horizon of our rationality, we are beginning to free reason from those excessively narrow boundaries that confine it when we consider as rational only what can be the object of experimentation or calculation.

It is here that the encounter between reason and faith takes place. In fact, through faith we accept the gift that God makes of himself in revealing himself to us, creatures made in his image. We welcome and accept that truth which our minds cannot fully comprehend or possess but which, for this very reason, extends the horizon of our knowledge and enables us to arrive at the mystery in which we are immersed, and to find in God the definitive meaning of our lives.

Dear friends, we know well that it is not easy to agree to overcome the limits of our reason in this way.

Faith, therefore, which is a very personal human act, remains a choice of our freedom which can also be rejected.

Here, however, a second dimension of faith comes to light, the entrustment of oneself to a person, not just any person but Jesus Christ, and to the father who sent him.

Believing means creating a very personal bond with our creator and redeemer, by virtue of the Holy Spirit who works in our hearts, and making this bond the foundation of our whole lives.

Indeed, Jesus Christ "is the personified truth who attracts the world to himself. ... Every other truth is a fragment of the truth that he is, and refers to him" ("Address to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," Feb. 10, 2006; L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, Feb. 22, 2006, p. 3).

Thus, he fills our hearts, enlarging and overwhelming them with joy, extending our minds toward unexplored horizons, offering our freedom its crucial reference point, uplifting it from the narrowness of selfishness and making it capable of authentic love.

In educating the new generations, therefore, we must not have any fears about confronting the truth of the faith with the authentic conquests of human knowledge.

Science is making very rapid progress today and all too often this is presented as being in contradiction to the affirmations of faith, causing confusion and making the acceptance of the Christian truth more difficult.

But Jesus Christ is and remains the Lord of all creation and of all history: "All things were created through him and for him... in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16-17).

Therefore, if the dialogue between faith and reason is conducted with sincerity and exactness, it offers a possibility of perceiving more effectively and more convincingly the reasonableness of faith in God -- not just in any God but in that God who revealed himself in Jesus Christ -- and likewise of showing that every authentic human aspiration is fulfilled in Jesus Christ himself.

Dear young people of Rome, press forward, therefore, with trust and courage on the way of the search for the truth. And you, dear priests and educators, do not hesitate to promote a true and proper "pastoral care of the mind" -- and more widely, of the person -- that takes young peoples' questions seriously, both existential questions and those that arise from comparison with the forms of rationality widespread today, in order to help them find valid and pertinent Christian answers, and lastly, to make their own that decisive response which is Christ the Lord.

We have spoken of faith as an encounter with the one who is truth and love. We have also seen that this is an encounter which is both communitarian and personal, and must take place in all the dimensions of our lives through the exercise of our intelligence, the choices of freedom, the service of love.

A privileged place exists, however, where this encounter takes place more directly. Here it is reinforced and deepened and thus can truly permeate and mark the whole of life: This space is prayer.

Dear young people, I am sure that many of you were present at the World Youth Day in Cologne. There, together, we prayed to the Lord, we adored him present in the Eucharist, we offered his Holy Sacrifice.

We meditated on that decisive act of love with which Jesus at the Last Supper anticipated his own death, accepted it in his inmost depths and transformed it into an action of love, into that unique revolution which can truly renew the world and liberate humanity, overcoming the power of sin and death.

I ask you young people and all of you who are here, dear brothers and sisters, I ask the whole of the beloved Church of Rome, in particular consecrated souls especially in the cloistered monasteries, to be assiduous in prayer, spiritually united with Mary our mother, to worship Christ alive in the Eucharist, to fall ever more deeply in love with him.

He is our brother and our true friend, the Church's bridegroom, the faithful and merciful God who loved us first.

Thus, you young people will be ready and willing to answer his call if he wants you entirely for himself in the priesthood or the consecrated life.

To the extent that we nourish ourselves on Christ and are in love with him, we feel within us the incentive to bring others to him: Indeed, we cannot keep the joy of the faith to ourselves; we must pass it on.

This need becomes even stronger and more pressing in the context of that strange forgetfulness of God which has spread in vast areas of the world today and to a certain extent also exists here in Rome. This forgetfulness is giving rise to a lot of fleeting chatter, to many useless arguments, but also to great dissatisfaction and a sense of emptiness.

Therefore, dear brothers and sisters, in our humble service as witnesses and missionaries of the living God, we must be everywhere messengers of that hope which is born from the certitude of the faith: We will thus help our brethren and our fellow citizens to rediscover the meaning and joy of their own lives.

I know that you are working with dedication in the beloved contexts of pastoral care: I am delighted, and I thank the Lord with you.

In the first year of my pontificate, I have been able in particular to experience and appreciate the liveliness of the Christian presence among the young people and university students of Rome, and among the children receiving first Communion.

I ask you to continue with trust, ever deepening your bond with the Lord, hence, making your apostolate more and more effective.

In this commitment, do not overlook any of life's dimensions, because Christ has come to save the whole of the person, in the intimacy of consciences as well as in the expressions of culture and social relations.

Dear brothers and sisters, I entrust these reflections to you with a friendly heart, as a contribution to your work during the evenings of the convention and then during the coming pastoral year.

May my affection and blessing accompany you, today and in the future.

Thank you for your attention!


Papal Address to Ordinary Council of Synod of Bishops
"Gospel Love Concerns Every Person and the Whole Person"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave June 1 to the participants of the 11th Ordinary Council of the Synod of Bishops.

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Dear and Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

I offer to you all, members of the 11th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, a fraternal greeting, which I express in particular to Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, secretary-general, to whom I am also grateful for having interpreted your sentiments.

Your presence reminds me of the synodal assembly meeting on the theme "The Eucharist: Source and Summit of the Life and Mission of the Church," which was celebrated in autumn 2005. I now warmly thank you for the work you are doing, sorting and putting in order the proposals that emerged at this last synodal assembly.

Today's meeting is also a favorable opportunity to shed light once again on the importance of charity in the activity of the Church's pastors.

I have to say that during their "ad limina" visits various bishops frequently ask me: "But when will the postsynodal text be ready?" And I reply: "They are working on it. And they certainly cannot take much longer."

I see gathered here so many competent people that I can only hope that I shall soon see and be able myself to learn from this text, which can then be published for the benefit of the whole Church that is eagerly expecting it.

"Est amoris officium pascere dominicum gregem": Still today this wonderful intuition of the Bishop Augustine (In ev. Jo. 123, 5: PL 35, 1967) is a great encouragement to us bishops, committed to the care of the flock that does not belong to us but to the Lord. In fulfilling his mandate, we seek to protect his flock, to feed it and to lead it to him, the true good shepherd, who wishes the salvation of all.

Feeding the Lord's flock, therefore, is a ministry of vigilant love that demands our total dedication, to the last drop of energy and, if necessary, the sacrifice of our lives.

It is above all the Eucharist which is the source and secret of the ongoing dynamism of our mission. In fact, in his ecclesial life, the bishop is configured to the image of Christ, who nourishes us with his flesh and blood. From the Eucharist the pastor draws the power to exercise that special pastoral charity which consists in dispensing the food of truth to the Christian people.

And this text which is being drafted will be one such intervention to nourish the people of God with the food of the truth, to help them grow in truth and especially to make known the mystery of the Eucharist and invite them to an intense Eucharistic life.

In particular, if we speak of the truth, the truth about love cannot be disregarded because it is the very essence of God. Preaching it from the rooftops (cf. Matthew 10: 27) is not only "amoris officium," but a necessary message for human beings in every epoch.

The truth about Gospel love concerns every person and the whole person, and involves the pastor in proclaiming it without fear or reticence, and never yielding to the conditioning of the world in season and out of season (cf. 2 Timothy 4:2).

Dear brothers in the episcopate, in a time such as our own, marked by the growing phenomenon of globalization, it is ever more necessary to make the truth about Christ and his Gospel of salvation reach everyone.

There are countless fields in which to proclaim and witness lovingly to the truth; multitudes are thirsting for it and cannot be allowed to waste away in search of food (cf. Lamentations 4:4).

This is our mission, venerable and dear brothers!

May the spirit of the Lord, whom we are preparing to welcome on the upcoming solemnity of Pentecost, be poured out upon you through the intercession of Mary, and make you pastors ever more open to the needs of God's heart. With these sentiments I bless you all and all those who are entrusted to your pastoral care.