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.
* * *
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
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.
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!
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
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.
* * *
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
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
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
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
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.
* * *
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
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
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
"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.
* * *
Most Reverend Superior-General of the Society of Jesus,
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
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
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
* * *
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)!
© 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
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
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
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
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.
* * *
RECITATION OF THE HOLY ROSARY
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
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.
* * *
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
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
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
"Recall the Design of God That Created the Human Being Male and
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
The conference, sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Laity
titled "Woman and Man, the 'Humanum' in Its Entirety," ended Saturday.
* * *
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
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
Certainly a renewed anthropological research is necessary that, on
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
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
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
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you once more for your visit
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
* * *
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
* * *
PASTORAL VISIT OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE SUBURBICARIAN DIOCESE OF VELLETRI-SEGNI
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
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:
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
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
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!
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.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE CONVENTION
OF THE DIOCESE OF ROME
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Greeting to the parish of St Felicity and her children, martyrs
"Every Person Carries Within Himself a Project of
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is
Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 25 homily at the Roman
parish of St. Felicity and Her Children, Martyrs.
* * *
PASTORAL VISIT TO THE PARISH OF ST. FELICITY AND
HER CHILDREN, MARTYRS
GREETING OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO THE MEMBERS OF THE PASTORAL COUNCIL
Fifth Sunday of Lent, 25 March 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am simply happy to be here with you, to see a
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
Therefore, we are in a place where the seed of the
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
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
Every person carries within himself a project of
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
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,
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
and I wish your parish, your community, this suburb of Fidene, great
good also in the future.
"The True Gift to Me Today Is
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a
Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address at his birthday luncheon
with several cardinals.
* * *
LUNCHEON WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE COLLEGE OF CARDINALS FOR
THE HOLY FATHER'S 80th BIRTHDAY
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Hall of Dukes
Monday, 16 April 2007
Dear Brothers and Friends,
At this moment I can only say "thank you" with all my
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 133:1).
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 31:16); 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.
* * *
CONCERT FOR THE HOLY FATHER'S 80th BIRTHDAY
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
Paul VI Audience Hall
Monday, 16 April 2007
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
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
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
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
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
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
A Happy Easter Season to everyone!
Papal Address on
"The Only Valid Bulwark Against
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.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI TO THE PARTICIPANTS
IN THE INTERNATIONAL CONGRESS ON NATURAL LAW
Monday, 12 February 2007
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
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
We all see the great advantages of this progress and we
see more and more clearly the threat of destruction of nature by what
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
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
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
"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
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
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.
The cardinal, who was born in Spain, was a former prefect
of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
* * *
FUNERAL MASS FOR CARDINAL ANTONIO MARÍA JAVIERRE
HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
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
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,
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
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
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: 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: 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
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
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
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".
Address to Capranica College
"Quality of the Clergy Depends on Seriousness of Their
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
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.
"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
* * *
Dear Bishops Peura and Wróbel,
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
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
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.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
TO BOARD MEMBERS OF THE LAZIO REGION,
THE MUNICIPAL CORPORATION OF ROME
AND THE PROVINCE OF ROME
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
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
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
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
Benedict XVI's Address at Gregorian
"Study and Teaching … Must Be Sustained by the Theological
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation
of the address Benedict XVI delivered on Nov. 3 at the Pontifical
* * *
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
* * *
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
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
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Papal Address to Academy of
"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.
* * *
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.,
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
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
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
"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
* * *
VISIT OF THE HOLY FATHER TO THE PONTIFICAL LATERAN UNIVERSITY
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
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.
* * *
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
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
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
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
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
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
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
"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.
* * *
ADDRESS OF HIS HOLINESS BENEDICT XVI
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE ACADEMIC YEAR
OF THE PONTIFICAL ROMAN UNIVERSITIES
St Peter's Basilica
Monday, 23 October 2006
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 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
Papal Address to Muslim
Leaders and Diplomats
"Lessons of the Past Must Help Us to Seek Paths of
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,
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
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
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.
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"
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
"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
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
"'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: "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
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
"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
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
* * *
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
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
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.
* * *
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
* * *
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
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
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
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
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.
* * *
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
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
As you know well, Christianity helped to shape European culture down
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
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
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."
* * *
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
* * *
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
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
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
"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.