Spanish Bishops' Letters of Thanks
To Holy Father and Archbishop García-Gasco
MADRID, Spain, JULY
14, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The executive committee of
the Spanish episcopal conference sent a letter to Pope Benedict XVI in
which it expresses "its profound gratitude for having come to Spain to
close the 5th World Meeting of Families."
In addition, the seven members of the executive committee signed a
letter of gratitude sent to Archbishop Agustin García-Gasco of
Valencia -- host prelate of the meeting that gathered 1.5 million
people around the Pontiff -- in which they express "the most sincere
thanks for the work carried out, which was crowned by the success of
this unforgettable event."
Here is the full text of both letters, made public on Thursday by the
Spanish episcopal conference.
* * *
The Executive Committee of the Spanish Episcopal Conference, meeting
for the first time after the visit Your Holiness made to Valencia the
past days of 8 and 9 of this month of July, wishes to express to the
Pope its profound gratitude for having come to Spain to close the 5th
World Meeting of Families.
We echo the feelings of the bishops and all the faithful in assuring
Your Holiness that Valencia's two days with the Pope have confirmed us
in the faith and filled us with joy. The bishops are thankful, in
particular, for the words of encouragement contained in the message
that you saw fit to address to us. All, pastors and laity, in a special
way Catholic families, will proclaim with new vigor the good news of
the family based on marriage.
In filial communion with Your Holiness,
Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, Bishop of Bilbao, President of
Antonio Cañizares Llovera, Cardinal Archbishop of Toledo,
Vice-President of the SEC
Antonio Ma. Rouco Varela, Cardinal Archbishop of Madrid
Carlos Amigo Vallejo, Cardinal Archbishop of Seville
Luis Martínez Sistach, Archbishop of Barcelona
Carlos Osoro Sierra, Archbishop of Oviedo
Juan A. Martínez Camino, Secretary General of the SEC
Pope's Discourse at Vigil of Family
"Children Have the Right to a Home Like That of Nazareth"
VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered on Saturday night, during the Vigil of the 5th
World Meeting of Families.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I am most happy to take part in this prayer meeting which is meant to
celebrate with great joy God's gift of the family. I feel very close in
prayer to all those who have recently experienced this city's mourning
and in our hope in the Risen Christ, which provides light and strength
even at times of immense human tragedy.
United by the same faith in Christ, we have gathered here from so many
parts of the world as a community which, with gratitude and joy, bears
witness that human beings were created in the image and likeness of God
for love, and that complete human fulfillment only comes about when we
make a sincere gift of ourselves to others.
The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give
and receive love. That is why the Church constantly wishes to
demonstrate her pastoral concern for this reality, so basic for the
This is what she teaches in her Magisterium: "God, who is love and who
created man and woman for love, has called them to love. By creating
man and woman he called them to an intimate communion of life and love
in marriage. 'So they are no longer two but one flesh' (Matthew 19:6)"
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Compendium, 337).
This is the truth that the Church tirelessly proclaims to the world. My
beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II said that man has been made "in
the image and likeness of God not only by his being human, but also by
the communion of the persons that man and woman have formed since the
beginning. They become the image of God, not so much in their aloneness
as in their communion" (Catechesis, 14 November 1979).
That is why I confirmed the calling of this Fifth World Meeting of
Families in Spain, and specifically here in Valencia, a city rich in
tradition and proud of the Christian faith lived and nurtured in so
many of its families.
The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and
society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is
itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between
husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To
enable this, it receives abundant help from God in the sacrament of
matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness.
Would that our children might experience more the harmony and affection
between their parents, rather than disagreements and discord, since the
love between father and mother is a source of great security for
children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love.
The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation
for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a
unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of
the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the
whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church
and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all.
Father and mother have said a complete "yes" in the sight of God, which
constitutes the basis of the sacrament which joins them together.
Likewise, for the inner relationship of the family to be complete, they
also need to say a "yes" of acceptance to the children whom they have
given birth to or adopted, and each of which has his or her own
personality and character.
In this way, children will grow up in a climate of acceptance and love,
and upon reaching sufficient maturity, will then want to say "yes" in
turn to those who gave them life.
The challenges of present-day society, marked by the centrifugal forces
generated especially in urban settings, make it necessary to ensure
that families do not feel alone. A small family can encounter difficult
obstacles when it is isolated from relatives and friends.
The ecclesial community therefore has the responsibility of offering
support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen
the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or
difficulty. Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the
various ecclesial associations, called to cooperate as networks of
support and a helping hand for the growth of families in faith.
Christ has shown us what is always the supreme source of our life and
thus of the lives of families: "This is my commandment, that you love
one another as I have loved you. No one had greater love than this, to
lay down one's life for one's friends" (John 15:12-13).
The love of God himself has been poured out upon us in baptism.
Consequently, families are called to experience this same kind of love,
for the Lord makes it possible for us, through our human love, to be
sensitive, loving and merciful like Christ.
Together with passing on the faith and the love of God, one of the
greatest responsibilities of families is that of training free and
responsible persons. For this reason the parents need gradually to give
their children greater freedom, while remaining for some time the
guardians of that freedom.
If children see that their parents -- and, more generally, all the
adults around them -- live life with joy and enthusiasm, despite all
difficulties, they will themselves develop that profound "joy of life"
which can help them to overcome wisely the inevitable obstacles and
problems which are part of life. Furthermore, when families are not
closed in on themselves, children come to learn that every person is
worthy of love, and that there is a basic, universal brotherhood which
embraces every human being.
This Fifth World Meeting invites us to reflect on a theme of particular
importance, one fraught with great responsibility: the transmission of
faith in the family. This theme is nicely expressed in the Catechism of
the Catholic Church: "As a mother who teacher her children to speak and
so to understand and communicate, the Church our Mother teaches us the
language of faith in order to introduce us to the understanding and the
life of faith" (No. 171).
This is symbolically in the liturgy of baptism: with the handing over
of the lighted candle, the parents are made part of the mystery of new
life as children of God given to their sons and daughters in the waters
To hand down the faith to children, with the help of individuals and
institutions like the parish, the school or Catholic associations, is a
responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect or completely
delegate to others.
"The Christian family is called the domestic church because the family
manifests and lives out the communal and familiar nature of the Church
as the family of God. Each family member, in accord with his or her own
role, exercises the baptismal priesthood and contributes towards making
the family a community of grace and of prayer, a school of human and
Christian virtues, and the place where the faith is first proclaimed to
children" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, Compendium, 350).
And what is more: "Parents, in virtue of their participation in the
fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of
their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them.
They have the duty to love and respect their children as persons and as
children of God ... in particular, they have the mission of educating
their children in the Christian faith" (ibid, 460).
The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is
strengthened through prayer and Christian practice. In the reading from
Deuteronomy we have heard the prayer constantly repeated by the Chosen
People, the "Shema Israel," which Jesus himself would have heard and
recited in his home in Nazareth.
He himself would refer to it during his public life, as we see in the
Gospel of Mark (12:29). This is the faith of the Church, which is born
of God's love which comes through your families. To live the fullness
of this faith, in all its wondrous newness, is a great gift. All the
same, at those times when God's face seems to be hidden, believing can
be difficult and takes great effort.
This meeting provides a new impetus for proclaiming the Gospel of the
family, reaffirming the strength and identity of the family founded
upon marriage and open to the generous gift of life, where children are
accompanied in their bodily and spiritual growth.
This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces
human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value
and beauty. To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way
of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in
their mutual love.
Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it
healthier, stronger and more truly free. Human love needs to be
purified and to mature if it is to be fully human and the principle of
a true and lasting joy (cf. Address at Saint John Lateran, June 5,
And so I invite government leaders and legislators to reflect on the
evident benefits which homes in peace and harmony assure to individuals
and the family, the neuralgic center of society, as the Holy See has
stated in the Charter of the Rights of the Family.
The purpose of laws is the integral good of man, in response to his
needs and aspirations. This good is a significant help to society, of
which it cannot be deprived, and for peoples a safeguard and a
The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the
full measure of their humanity. The experience of being loved by their
parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children.
Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected.
Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith,
children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the
home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats.
I would now like to say a word to grandparents, who are so important
for every family. They can be -- and so often are -- the guarantors of
the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and
receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are
memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded
from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger
generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to
their faith at the approach of death.
I now wish to recite a part of the prayer which you have prayed in
asking for the success of this World Meeting of Families.
O God, who in the Holy Family
left us a perfect model of family life
lived in faith and obedience to your will,
Help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments.
Help us in our mission of transmitting the faith that we received from
Open the hearts of our children
so that the seed of faith, which they received in baptism, will grow in
Strengthen the faith of our young people,
that they may grow in knowledge of Jesus.
Increase love and faithfulness in all marriages,
especially those going through times of suffering or difficulty.
United to Joseph and Mary,
we ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.
[Original text: Spanish]
Papal Address at Welcoming
"Family Is Unique Institution in God's Plan"
VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered on Saturday morning at the Valencia-Manises
international airport, during the welcome ceremony.
* * *
Mr. President of the Government,
My Brother Cardinals and Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
1. With great joy I come today to Valencia, to the noble and much-loved
land of Spain, which has given me so many grateful memories from my
earlier visits for congresses and meetings.
2. I cordially greet all of you, those here present and all those
following this ceremony through the communications media.
I am grateful to His Majesty King Juan Carlos for his presence,
together with the Queen, and in particular I thank him for his words of
welcome in the name of the Spanish people.
I express my respectful appreciation to the President of the Government
and to the other national, autonomous-regional and municipal
authorities. I am grateful for their cooperation in the organization of
this Fifth World Meeting.
I greet with affection the Archbishop of Valencia, Monsignor
Agustín García-Gasco, his auxiliary bishops, and the
whole levantine Archdiocese for their warm welcome to this World
Meeting. I know that in these days you are grieving with the families
mourning their dear ones who were victims of a tragic accident, and are
also close to the injured.
My affectionate greeting also goes to the president of the Pontifical
Council for the Family, Cardinal Alfonso López Trujillo, and to
the other cardinals, the president and members of the Spanish episcopal
conference, the priests, the consecrated persons and all the lay
3. My reason for this long-awaited visit is to take part in the Fifth
World Meeting of Families, whose theme is "The Transmission of Faith in
the Family." I wish to set forth the central role, for the Church and
for society, proper to the family based on marriage. The family is a
unique institution in God's plan, and the Church cannot fail to
proclaim and promote its fundamental importance, so that it can live
out its vocation with a constant sense of responsibility and joy.
4. My venerable predecessor, a great friend of Spain, the beloved John
Paul II, convoked this Meeting. Prompted by the same pastoral
solicitude, tomorrow I will have the privilege of concluding it with
the celebration of Holy Mass in the City of Arts and Sciences.
In union with all taking part, I will implore from the Lord, through
the intercession of our Most Holy Mother and the Apostle Saint James,
plentiful graces for the families of Spain and of the whole world.
May the Lord abundantly bless all of you and your beloved families!
Original text: Spanish; translation issued by the Holy See.
Benedict XVI's Homily at Closing Mass
"Parents Are Called to Witness to Their Faith and Hope"
VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 9, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the homily Benedict
XVI delivered today at the closing Mass of the 5th World Meeting of
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Holy Mass which it is my great joy to celebrate, together with
many of my Brothers in the Episcopate and a great number of priests, I
give thanks to the Lord for all of you, the joyful throng of beloved
families gathered in this place, and the many others who in distant
lands are following this celebration by radio and television. I greet
all of you with an affectionate embrace.
Both Esther and Paul, as we have just heard in today's readings,
testify that the family is called to work for the handing on of the
Esther admits: "Ever since I was born, I have heard in the tribe of my
family that you, O Lord, took Israel out of all the nations" (14:5).
Paul follows the tradition of his Jewish ancestors by worshiping God
with a pure conscience. He praises the sincere faith of Timothy and
speaks to him about "a faith that lived first in your grandmother Lois
and your mother Eunice, and now, I am sure, lives in you" (2 Timothy
In these biblical testimonies, the family includes not only parents and
children, but also grandparents and ancestors. The family thus appears
to us as a community of generations and the guarantee of a patrimony of
None of us gave ourselves life or single-handedly learned how to live.
All of us received from others both life itself and its basic truths,
and we have been called to attain perfection in relationship and loving
communion with others.
The family, founded on indissoluble marriage between a man and a woman,
is the _expression of this relational, filial and communal aspect of
life. It is the setting where men and women are enabled to be born with
dignity, and to grow and develop in an integral manner.
Once children are born, through their relationship with their parents,
they begin to share in a family tradition with even older roots.
Together with the gift of life, they receive a whole patrimony of
experience. Parents have the right and the inalienable duty to transmit
this heritage to their children: to help them find their own identity,
to initiate them to the life of society, to foster the responsible
exercise of their moral freedom and their ability to love on the basis
of their having been loved and, above all, to enable them to encounter
Children experience human growth and maturity to the extent that they
trustingly accept this heritage and training which they gradually make
their own. They are thus enabled to make a personal synthesis between
what has been passed on and what is new, a synthesis that every
individual and generation is called to make.
At the origin of every man and woman, and thus in all human fatherhood
and motherhood, we find God the Creator. For this reason, married
couples must accept the child born to them, not simply as theirs alone,
but also as a child of God, loved for his or her own sake and called to
be a son or daughter of God. What is more: each generation, all
parenthood and every family has its origin in God, who is Father, Son
and Holy Spirit.
Esther's father had passed on to her, along with the memory of her
forebears and her people, the memory of a God who is the origin of all
and to whom all are called to answer. The memory of God the Father, who
chose a people for himself and who acts in history for our salvation.
The memory of this Father sheds light on our deepest human identity:
where we come from, who we are, and how great is our dignity.
Certainly we come from our parents and we are their children, but we
also come from God who has created us in his image and called us to be
his children. Consequently, at the origin of every human being there is
not something haphazard or chance, but a loving plan of God. This was
revealed to us by Jesus Christ, the true Son of God and a perfect man.
He knew whence he came and whence all of us have come: from the love of
his Father and our Father.
Faith, then, is not merely a cultural heritage, but the constant
working of the grace of God who calls and our human freedom, which can
respond or not to his call. Even if no one can answer for another
person, Christian parents are still called to give a credible witness
of their Christian faith and hope. The need to ensure that God's call
and the good news of Christ will reach their children with the utmost
clarity and authenticity.
As the years pass, this gift of God which the parents have helped set
before the eyes of the little ones will also need to be cultivated with
wisdom and gentleness, in order to instill in them a capacity for
discernment. Thus, with the constant witness of the their parents'
conjugal love, permeated with a living faith, and with the loving
accompaniment of the Christian community, children will be helped
better to appropriate the gift of their faith, to discover the deepest
meaning of their own lives and to respond with joy and gratitude.
The Christian family passes on the faith when parents teach their
children to pray and when they pray with them (cf. Familiaris
Consortio, 60); when they lead them to the sacraments and gradually
introduce them to the life of the Church; when all join in reading the
Bible, letting the light of faith shine on their family life and
praising God as our Father.
In contemporary culture, we often see an excessive exaltation of the
freedom of the individual as an autonomous subject, as if we were
self-created and self-sufficient, apart from our relationship with
others and our responsibilities in their regard.
Attempts are being made to organize the life of society on the basis of
subjective and ephemeral desires alone, with no reference to objective,
prior truths such as the dignity of each human being and his
inalienable rights and duties, which every social group is called to
The Church does not cease to remind us that true human freedom derives
from our having been created in God's image and likeness. Christian
education is consequently an education in freedom and for freedom.
"We do not do good as slaves, who are not free to act otherwise, but we
do it because we are personally responsible for the world; because we
love truth and goodness, because we love God himself and therefore his
creatures as well. This is the true freedom to which the Holy Spirit
wants to lead us (Homily for the Vigil of Pentecost, June 9, 2006).
Jesus Christ is the perfect human being, an example of filial freedom,
who teaches us to share with others his own love: "As the Father has
loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love" (John 15:9).
And so the Second Vatican Council teaches that "Christian married
couples and parents, following their own way, should support one
another in grace all through life with faithful love, and should train
their children, lovingly received from God, in Christian doctrine and
evangelical virtues. Because in this way they present to all an example
of unfailing and generous love, they build up the brotherhood of
charity, and they stand as witnesses and co-operators of the
fruitfulness of Mother Church, as a sign of and a share in that love
with which Christ loved his Bride and gave himself for her" (Lumen
The joyful love with which our parents welcomed us and accompanied our
first steps in this world is like a sacramental sign and prolongation
of the benevolent love of God from which we have come. The experience
of being welcomed and loved by God and by our parents is always the
firm foundation for authentic human growth and authentic development,
helping us to mature on the way towards truth and love, and to move
beyond ourselves in order to enter into communion with others and with
To help us advance along the path of human maturity, the Church teaches
us to respect and foster the marvelous reality of the indissoluble
marriage between man and woman which is also the origin of the family.
To recognize and assist this institution is one of the greatest
services which can be rendered nowadays to the common good and to the
authentic development of individuals and societies, as well as the best
means of ensuring the dignity, equality and true freedom of the human
This being the case, I want to stress the importance and the positive
role which the Church's various family associations are playing in
support of marriage and the family. Consequently, "I wish to call on
all Christians to collaborate cordially and courageously with all
people of good will who are serving the family in accordance with their
responsibility" (Familiaris Consortio, 86), so that by joining forces
in a legitimate plurality of initiatives they will contribute to the
promotion of the authentic good of the family in contemporary society.
Let us return for a moment to the first reading of this Mass, drawn
from the Book of Esther. The Church at prayer has seen in this humble
queen interceding with all her heart for her suffering people, a
prefigurement of Mary, whom her Son has given to us all as our Mother;
a prefigurement of the Mother who protects by her love God's family on
its earthly pilgrimage. Mary is the image and model of all mothers, of
their great mission to be guardians of life, of their mission to be
teachers of the art of living and of the art of loving.
The Christian family -- father, mother and children -- is called, then,
to do all these things not as a task imposed from without, but rather
as a gift of the sacramental grace of marriage poured out upon the
spouses. If they remain open to the Spirit and implore his help, he
will not fail to bestow on them the love of God the Father made
manifest and incarnate in Christ.
The presence of the Spirit will help spouses not to lose sight of the
source and criterion of their love and self-giving, and to cooperate
with him to make it visible and incarnate in every aspect of their
The Spirit will also awaken in them a yearning for the definitive
encounter with Christ in the house of his Father and our Father. And
this is the message of hope that, from Valencia, I wish to share with
all the families of the world. Amen.
After Mass in Valencia
"Open Your Homes and Hearts to Christ"
VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered on Sunday before praying the Angelus at the end
of the closing Mass of the 5th World Meeting of Families.
* * *
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Before ending this celebration, we turn to the Virgin Mary, whom so
many families invoke in the intimacy of their homes, to assist them
with her maternal concern.
With the intercession of Mary, open your homes and hearts to Christ so
that he will be your strength and joy, and help you to live united and
to proclaim to the world the invincible power of true love.
At this time I wish to thank all those who have made possible the
smooth unfolding of this meeting. In a particular way, I wish to
acknowledge the sacrificial and efficient work of numerous volunteers
of so many nationalities for their abnegated collaboration in all the
I dedicate special thanks to the numerous individuals and religious
communities, especially the cloistered, who have supported all the
celebrations with their persevering prayer.
Now I have the joy to announce that the next World Meeting of Families
will be held in the year 2009 in Mexico City.
To the beloved Church which journeys in the noble Mexican nation and in
the person of the Lord Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop of
that city, I already express my gratitude for his acceptance.
[The Holy Father then greeted pilgrims in French, English, German,
Italian, Portuguese and Polish. In English, he said:]
I greet all the English-speaking participants who have gathered from
various parts of the world. I trust that your experiences here will
have strengthened your commitment to promoting the integrity of family
May God abundantly bless you and all those you represent, and through
the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, may you and your
families be filled with the wisdom of her Son.
[He then continued in Spanish, saying:]
I embrace from my heart all the families here present and those who
have joined this celebration through radio, television or other means
of social communication.
I entrust all to the Holy Family of Nazareth, that it may protect them
and that, following its silent example, they may help children grow in
wisdom, age and grace before God and men (cf. Luke 2:52).
Papal Letter to Spanish Bishops
Exhorts Them to "Continue Dauntlessly"
VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's
letter to the Spanish bishops, which he delivered on Saturday in the
Holy Chalice Chapel in Valencia's cathedral.
* * *
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
With heartfelt joy I give thanks to the Lord that I have been able to
come to Spain as Pope, in order to take part in the World Meeting of
Families in Valencia. I greet you with affection, my brother bishops of
this beloved country, and I thank you for your presence here and for
the hard work put into the preparation and celebration of this visit.
I am especially appreciative of the efforts of the archbishop of
Valencia and his auxiliary bishops to make this event, so significant
for the entire Church, bear its desired fruit and give new impulse to
the family as a sanctuary of love, life and faith.
Indeed, your solicitude has already made it possible to create a
family-like setting among the organizers and participants from
throughout Spain. This is a very promising sign in light of the desires
which you expressed in your joint message on this World Meeting, and at
the same time an incentive to build on its results in pursuing an
ongoing and decisive pastoral outreach to families in your dioceses,
making it possible for every home to receive the Gospel message, which
confirms and enriches love and thus helps it to overcome whatever
difficulties it may encounter.
You know that I follow closely and with much interest the life of the
Church in your country, a country with deep Christian roots, one which
has greatly contributed and must still contribute to the proclamation
and spread of the faith to many other parts of the world. Keep alive
and vigorous this spirit, which has accompanied the life of Spaniards
throughout their history, so that it will help nourish and vitalize the
soul of your people.
I am aware of, and I encourage the impulse that you are giving to
pastoral activity at a time of rapid secularization, which can also
affect the internal life of Christian communities. Continue dauntlessly
to proclaim that prescinding from God, acting as if he did not exist or
relegating faith to the purely private sphere, undermines the truth
about man and compromises the future of culture and society.
On the contrary, lifting one's gaze to the living God, the guarantor of
our freedom and of truth, is a premise for arriving at a new humanity.
Nowadays, in a special way, the world needs people capable of
proclaiming and bearing witness to God who is love, and consequently
the one light which in the end, illumines the darkness of the world and
gives us strength to live and work (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 39).
In times and situations of difficulty, recall those words of the Letter
to the Hebrews: "Let us run with perseverance the race that is set
before us, looking to Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith,
who for the sake of the joy that was set before him, endured the cross,
disregarding the shame ... so that you may not grow weary or lose
Proclaim that Jesus is "the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matthew
16:16), "the one who has the words of eternal life" (cf. John 6:68),
and you will not tire of giving reason for your hope (cf. 1 Peter 3:15).
Prompted by your pastoral solicitude and the spirit of full communion
in the proclamation of the Gospel, you have guided the Christian
conscience of the faithful about different aspects of the situation
confronting them, which occasionally disturb ecclesial life and the
faith of the simple.
You have also made the Eucharist a central theme of your pastoral plan,
with the aim of "revitalizing the Christian life from its very heart,
since when we enter into the Eucharistic mystery we encounter the heart
of God" (No. 5). Certainly in the Eucharist there takes place "the
central act of transformation capable of truly renewing the world"
(Homily in Marienfeld, Cologne, August 21, 2005).
Brothers in the episcopate, I exhort you earnestly to preserve and
increase your fraternal communion, as a witness and model of the
ecclesial communion which should reign in all the faithful people
entrusted to your care.
I pray for you, and I pray for Spain. I ask you to pray for me and for
the whole Church.
I invoke the Most Holy Virgin Mary, so greatly venerated in your land,
asking that she protect and accompany you in your pastoral ministry,
and to all of you I impart with great affection my apostolic blessing.
Valencia, July 8, 2006
BENEDICTUS PP. XVI
Pope's Farewell Address
"The Marriage Covenant Is a Great Good for All Humanity"
VALENCIA, Spain, JULY 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address
Benedict XVI delivered on Sunday at the Valencia-Manises airport during
the farewell ceremony.
* * *
Mr. President of the Government,
My Brother Cardinals and Bishops,
Dear Brothers and Sisters:
1. At the conclusion of my very pleasant stay in Valencia for the 5th
World Meeting of Families, I express my deep gratitude to their
Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, the national authorities, the
Generalidad of Valencia and the mayor's office, as well as to the
archbishop and every one of you, for the kind hospitality and evident
affection which you have shown me at every moment of my visit to this
flourishing levantine land.
2. I am confident that, with the help of the Most High and the maternal
protection of the Virgin Mary, this meeting will keep echoing like a
joyful song of the love, life and of faith shared by families, and help
today's world to understand that the marriage covenant, whereby man and
woman establish a permanent bond, is a great good for all humanity.
3. I thank you for your presence here. You have come from all the
continents of the world, at considerable sacrifice, which you have
accepted and offered to the Lord. You have a special place in my heart.
My heartfelt prayer is that Almighty God will bless you today and