(October 2006 to March 2011)

Pope's Address to European Broadcasting Union
"Promote Dialogue, Peace and Development of Peoples in Solidarity"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2011 - Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday in French and English to the 17th Assembly of the European Broadcasting Union, gathered at Castel Gandolfo as guests of Vatican Radio, which is celebrating its 80th anniversary this year.

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[In French, he said:]

Dear Friends,

I am very happy to welcome you all, members and participants on the 17th assembly of the European Broadcasting Union, which, this year, is the guest of Vatican Radio, on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of its foundation. I greet archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. I thank the president of the European Broadcasting Union, Monsignor Jean Paul Philippot, and Father Federico Lombardi, director general of Vatican Radio, for the courteous words with which they presented the nature of your meeting and the problems you must address.

When my predecessor Pius XI asked Guglielmo Marconi to equip Vatican City State with a broadcasting station provided with the best technology available at that time, he demonstrated having perceived with lucidity in what direction the world of communications was developing and the potentialities that the radio could offer for the service of the mission of the Church. Indeed, through the radio, the Popes were able to transmit beyond the borders messages of great importance for humanity, as those rightly famous of Pius XII during World War II, which gave voice to the most profound aspirations for justice and peace, or as that of John XXIII at the culminating moment of the crisis between the United States and the Soviet Union in 1962.

Through the radio, Pius XII was also able to diffuse hundreds of thousands of messages of families to the address of prisoners and those who had disappeared during the War, carrying out a humanitarian endeavor which won him imperishable gratitude. Sustained for a long time through the radio, moreover, were the attempts of believers and of peoples subjected to oppressive regimes to uphold human rights and religious liberty. The Holy See is conscious of the extraordinary potentialities of which the world of communication disposes for the progress and growth of persons and society. It can be said that all the teaching of the Church in this sector, beginning with the addresses of Pius XII, and passing through the documents of Vatican Council II, up to my most recent messages on the new numerical technologies, is traversed by a current of optimism, of hope and of sincere sympathy for those who are engaged in this domain to foster encounter and dialogue, to serve the human community and to contribute to the peaceful growth of society.

Each one of you knows of course that, hidden in the development of social communications, are difficulties and risks.

Hence, allow me to manifest to all of you my interest and solidarity for the important work that you accomplish. In today's society, basic values for the good of humanity are at stake, and public opinion, in whose formation your work has great importance, often finds itself disoriented and divided. You know well the concerns of the Church on the subject of respect of human life, of defense of the family, of the recognition of authentic rights and the just aspirations of peoples, of imbalances caused by underdevelopment and hunger in numerous parts of the world, of the reception of immigrants, of unemployment and of social security, of new poverties and social marginalizations, of discrimination and violations of religious liberty, of disarmament and the search for a peaceful solution to conflicts. I made reference to many of these questions in the Encyclical 'Caritas in Veritate.' To nourish every day correct and balanced information and an in-depth debate in order to find the best shared solutions to these questions in a pluralist society, is the task of radios as well as television stations. It is a task that requires great professional honesty, correctness and respect, openness to different prospects, clarity in the treatment of problems, liberty in regard to ideological barriers and awareness of the complexity of the problems.

It is a question of a patient search for this "daily truth" which translates better the values in life and directs better the path of society, and which is sought with humility by all.

[In English, he said:]

In this search, the Catholic Church has a specific contribution to offer, which she intends to offer by witnessing to her adherence to the truth that is Christ, yet doing so in a spirit of openness and dialogue. As I said during my meeting with leading figures from the worlds of British culture and politics at Westminster Hall in London last September, religion does not seek to manipulate non-believers, but to assist reason in the discovery of objective moral principles. Religion contributes by "purifying" reason, helping it not to fall prey to distortions, such as manipulation by ideology or partial application that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. At the same time, religion likewise recognizes its need for the corrective of reason in order to avoid excesses, such as fundamentalism or sectarianism. "Religion ... is not a problem for legislators to solve, but a vital contributor to the national conversation." I therefore invite you too, "within your respective spheres of influence, to seek ways of promoting and encouraging dialogue between faith and reason" with a view to serving the common good of the nation.

Yours is a "public service," a service to the people, to help them each day to know and understand better what is happening and why it is happening, and to communicate actively so as to accompany then in society's journey together. I am well aware that this service meets with difficulties that take on different features and proportions in different countries. These can include the challenge of competition from commercial broadcasters, the conditioning of politics understood as the carving up of power rather than service of the common good, scarcity of economic resources made more acute by situations of crisis, the impact of developments in new technologies of communication, the laborious search for viewers and listeners. But the challenges of the modern world on which you have to report are too great and too urgent to let yourselves become discouraged or tempted to give up in the face of such difficulties.

Twenty years ago, in 1991, when your general assembly was received in the Vatican by the Venerable John Paul II, whom tomorrow I shall have the joy of beatifying, he encouraged you to develop your mutual collaboration in order to favor the growth of the community of the peoples of the world.

Today, I think of the processes unfolding in certain countries of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, some of which are also members of your association. We know that the new forms of communication continue to play a role of some significance in these very processes. I urge you to place your international contacts and activities at the service of reflection and commitment aimed at ensuring that the instruments of social communication promote dialogue, peace and development of peoples in solidarity, overcoming cultural separation, uncertainties and fears.

Finally, dear friends, while I sincerely wish all of you and your Association much success in your work, I would also like to express my thanks for the specific collaboration that on many occasions you have provided for my ministry, and that you continue to provide, during the great festivals of Christmas and Easter, or on my apostolic journeys. For me too, and for the Catholic Church, you are therefore important allies and friends in our mission. In this spirit I am pleased to invoke the Lord's blessing upon all of you, upon those who are dear to you and upon your work.


Pope's Address to Belgian Pro Petri Sede Association
"The Service of Charity Belongs to the Very Nature of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience members of the Belgian charitable association Pro Petri Sede.

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Dear Friends,

I receive you joyfully this morning on the occasion of the pilgrimage that brings you to the See of Peter to reinforce your Christian life and to renew your commitment to service of the many persons to which the association Pro Petri Sede helps with great generosity.

With the whole Church, we have just entered the season of Lent. This season fosters the interior pilgrimage toward him who is the "Light of the World." In fact, we need to let ourselves be illumined by Christ so that, in turn, seeing the urgency of our responsibility to the poor of the present time, we direct our look to them that gives us confidence again and clarifies the perspective of blessed eternity. Each one, in fact, is called to the salvation offered by Christ's victory over all the evil that oppresses man. The season of Lent is the time of fasting, prayer and sharing (cf. Matthew 6:1-18).

Contributing to the struggle against poverty, sharing with almsgiving, we come close to others. As you know, a gift is nothing without the love that animates it and the fraternal bonds it weaves. Acting thus with charity, we express the truth of our being as there is more joy in giving than in receiving (cf. Acts 20:35), and we manifest the unity of the double commandment to love. In fact, sharing with our neighbor, we experience through the joy received, that fullness of life comes from love of God. Thus alms bring us closer to God and invite us to conversion.

The generous offer that you bring to the Successor of Peter today allows him to help populations harshly tried in recent times, especially those of Haiti. The service of charity belongs to the very nature of the Church. It is a lively expression of God's solicitude for all men. By contributing indispensable material aid, the Church can also offer care of the heart and the love of which persons being tested are in so much need. I thank you, therefore, warmly in their name for the support you give in the struggle against what debases and degrades the dignity of every person "created in the image of God."

Dear friends, may you be everywhere luminous and effective witnesses of the hope that the love of God infuses! Entrusting each one of you and your families, as well as the members of your association, to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, to St. Peter and to the saints of your countries, I impart to you with all my heart the apostolic blessing.


Papal Message to Brazil's 2011 Lenten Campaign
"God Entrusts His Creation to Man [...] to Preserve and Care for It"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2011 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to the bishops of Brazil in support of their annual Lenten campaign. This year the campaign is focused on fraternity and life on the planet.

The Feb. 16 message was addressed to the president of the National Conference of Bishops of Brazil, Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana.

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To the Venerable Brother

Dom Geraldo Lyrio Rocha

Archbishop of Mariana (MG) and President of the CNBB

With good pleasure I wish to join, once more, the whole Church in Brazil, which intends to follow the penitential itinerary of Lent in preparation for the Lord Jesus' Easter, in which the Campaign of Fraternity is inserted. The theme this year is: "Fraternity and Life on the Planet," appealing for a change in mentality and attitudes for the safeguarding of creation.

Thinking of the motto of this campaign, "creation has been groaning in travail," which echoes St. Paul's words in the Letter to the Romans (8:22), we can include among the reasons for that groaning the damage caused in creation by human egoism. Nevertheless, it is equally true that "creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God" (Romans 8:19). Just as sin destroyed creation, it is restored when "the sons of God" become present, looking after the world so that God will be all in all (cf. 1 Corinthians15:28).

The first step for a correct relationship with the world that surrounds us is, precisely, the recognition on man's part of his condition as a creature: man is not God, but his image; that is why he must try to be more sensitive to the presence of God in what surrounds him: in all creatures and, especially, in the human person in whom there is a certain epiphany of God. "Those who can recognize in the cosmos the reflections of the Creator's invisible face, tend to have greater love for creatures" (Benedict XVI, Homily on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Mother of God, 1-01-2010).

Man will only be capable of respecting creatures to the degree that he has in his spirit a full sense of life; otherwise, he will be led to contempt for himself and for what surrounds him, failing to respect the environment in which he lives, creation. That is why the first ecology that must be defended is "human ecology" (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, 51). That is, without a clear defense of human life, from its conception to its natural death, without a defense of the family based on marriage between a man and a woman, without a real defense of those who are excluded and marginalized by society, without forgetting in this context those who lose everything, victims of natural disasters, there can never be talk of a genuine defense of the environment.

While reminding that the duty to look after the environment is an imperative that stems from the awareness that God entrusts his creation to man, not so that he can exercise over it an arbitrary dominion, but to preserve and care for it, as a son takes care of his father's inheritance -- and God entrusted an inheritance to Brazilians -- I happily send you a propitious Apostolic Blessing.

Vatican, Feb. 16, 2011



Papal Address to Fraternity of St. Charles
"Bring to Everyone the Communion That Is Born From the Heart of Christ"
VATICAN CITY, FEB. 13, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon greeting the priests and seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Charles on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of the foundation of the community.

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Dear brothers and friends,

It is with real joy that I meet with you, priests and seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Charles, who have gathered here on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of its birth. I greet and thank the founder and superior general, Monsignor Massimo Camisasca, his council and all of you, relatives and friends who are part of the community’s circle. I greet in particular the Archbishop of the Mother of God of Moscow, Monsignor Paolo Pezzi, and Don Julián Carrón, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, which symbolically expresses the fruits and the roots of the work of the Fraternity of St. Charles. This moment brings back to my mind my long friendship with Monsignor Luigi Giussani and bears witness to his charisma.

On this occasion, I would like to respond to two questions that our meeting suggests: what is the place of the ordained priesthood in the life of the Church? What is the place of communal life in the priestly experience?

Your birth from the Communion and Liberation movement and your vital reference to the ecclesial experience that it represents, there is placed before our eyes a truth that was reaffirmed with particular clarity from the 18th century onward and that found a significant expression in the theology of Vatican II. I refer to the fact that the Christian priesthood is not an end in itself. It was willed by Christ in function of the birth and the life of the Church. Every priest can therefore say to the faithful: "Vobiscum christianus, pro vobis sacerdos" (With you I am a Christian. For you I am a priest.). The glory and joy of the priesthood is to serve Christ and his Mystical Body. It represents a very beautiful and singular vocation in the Church, which makes Christ present because it participates in the one and eternal priesthood of Christ. The presence of priestly vocations is a sure sign of the truth and the vitality of a Christian community. In fact God always calls, even to the priesthood; there is no true and fecund growth in the Church without an authentic priestly presence that sustains and nourishes it. So I am grateful to all those who dedicate their energies to the formation of priests and the reform of the priestly life.

Like all of the Church, in fact, the priesthood too must continually renew itself, rediscovering in the life of Jesus the most essential forms of its own being. The different possible roads of this renewal cannot forget some elements that must not be given up. Before all else a profound education in meditation and prayer, lived as a dialogue with the risen Lord present in his Church. In the second place a study of the of theology that permits an encounter with the Christian truths in the form of a synthesis linked to the life of the person and the community: only a sapiential outlook can see the value of the force that the faith possesses to illuminate life and the world, continually leading to Christ, Creator and Savior.

The Fraternity of St. Charles has underscored the value of communal life during the course of its brief but intense history. I too have spoken about it on various occasions before and after my call to the chair of Peter. "It is important for priests not to live off on their own somewhere, but to accompany one another in small communities, to support one another, and so to experience, and constantly realize afresh, their communion in service to Christ and in renunciation for the sake of the Kingdom of heaven" ("Light of the World," San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010, p. 149). The pressing matters of this moment are before your eyes. I think, for example, of the lack of priests. Communal life is not first of all a strategy for responding to these needs. Nor is it, in itself, only a form of help in the face of the solitude and weakness of man. All of this may certainly be true but only if it is conceived and lived as a path for immersing oneself in the reality of communion. Communal life is in fact an expression of the gift of Christ that is the Church, and it is prefigured in the apostolic community from which the priesthood arose. What the priest in fact administers does not belong to him. He rather participates with his brothers in a sacramental gift that comes directly from Jesus.

Communal life thus expresses a help that Christ provides for our life, calling us, through the presence of brothers, to an ever more profound conformity to his person. Living with others means accepting the need of my own continual conversion and above all discovering the beauty of such a journey, the joy of humility, of penance, but also of conversation, of mutual forgiveness, of mutual support. "Ecce quam bonum et quam iucundum habitare fratres in unum" (Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity) (Psalm 133:1).

No one can assume the regenerative power of communal life without prayer, without looking to the experience and teaching of the saints -- in a particular way the Fathers of the Church -- without a sacramental life lived with fidelity. If we do not enter into the eternal dialogue of the Son with the Father in the Holy Spirit no authentic communal life is possible. It is necessary to be with Jesus so as to be able to be with others. This is the heart of our mission. In the company of Christ and of our brothers each priest can find the energy necessary to care for people, to provide for the spiritual and material needs that he meets, to teach always with new words, dictated by love, the eternal truth of the faith for which are contemporaries too thirst.

Dear brothers and friends, continue to go out to all the world to bring to everyone the communion that is born from the heart of Christ! May the experience of the Apostles with Jesus always be the light that illuminates your priestly life! Encouraging you to remain on the road that you have traced during these years, I gladly impart my blessing to all the priests and seminarians of the Fraternity of St. Charles, to the Missionaries of St. Charles, to their relatives and friends.


Pontiff's Address to Emmanuel Community
"A Genuinely Eucharistic Life Is a Missionary Life"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 3, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience members of the Emmanuel Community on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the death of their founder, Pierre Goursat.

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Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
Dear Friends,

With great joy I welcome you at this time in which the Emmanuel Community is preparing to observe the 20th anniversary of the death of its founder, Pierre Goursat, whose cause of beatification was introduced last year. May the example of his life of faith and his missionary commitment stimulate you and be for you a constant call to walk toward sanctity! In the forthcoming months you will also celebrate the 30 years of service of Fidesco in the most underprivileged countries, and then the 40 years of the foundation of the Community, and the 20th anniversary of the recognition of its statutes by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. With you I thank God for this work! To each one of you, priests and laymen, I address my cordial greeting. I greet in particular the moderator of the community, whom I thank for the kind words he addressed to me, the members of the International Council, those responsible for the great services, as well as the bishops who have come from the Community. May your pilgrimage to Rome at the beginning of the jubilee year be the occasion to renew your commitment to continue being ardent disciples of Christ in fidelity to the Church and her pastors!

Dear friends: the profound grace of your community comes from Eucharistic adoration. From this adoration compassion is born for all men, and from this compassion the thirst is born to evangelize (cf. Statutes, Preamble I). In keeping with the spirit of your own charism, I encourage you therefore to deepen your spiritual life giving an essential place to your personal encounter with Christ, the Emmanuel, God-with-us, so that you will allow yourselves to be transformed by him and have the passionate desire of the mission mature in you. In the Eucharist you find the source of all your commitments in the following of Christ and in his adoration you purify your look on the life of the world. "We cannot keep for ourselves the love that we celebrate in the Sacrament. By its nature, it exacts that it be communicated to all. What the world needs is the love of God, to encounter Christ and to grow in Him" (postsynodal apostolic exhortation "Sacramentum Caritatis," No. 84). A genuinely Eucharistic life is a missionary life. In a world frequently disoriented and in search of new reasons to live, the light of Christ must be taken to everyone. In the midst of the men and women of today, be ardent missionaries of the Gospel, supported by a life radically anchored in Christ! Be thirsty to proclaim the Word of God!

Today the urgency of this proclamation is felt particularly in families, so often broken, by the youth, or in intellectual world. Offer your contribution to the renewal from within of the apostolic dynamism of parishes, developing their spiritual and missionary orientations! I encourage you, moreover, to give your attention to persons that are returning to the Church and that have not received a profound catechesis. Help them to root their faith in an authentically theological, sacramental and ecclesial life! The work carried out in particular by Fidesco is also a testimony of your commitment in favor of the populations of underprivileged countries. May your charity reflect the love of Christ everywhere and become in this way a force for the building of a more just and fraternal world!

In particular I invite your community to live a genuine communion among its members. This communion, which is not simply human solidarity among members of the same spiritual family, is based on your relationship with Christ and on a common commitment to serve him. The community life you wish to develop, in respect of the state of life of each one, will be, hence, a living testimony for society of the fraternal love that must animate all human relations. Fraternal communion is already a proclamation of the new world that Christ came to establish.

May this same communion, which does not mean to be withdrawn in oneself, be effective also with the local Churches. Every charism is in relation with the growth of the whole Body of Christ. Hence missionary action must be ceaselessly adapted to the realities of the local Church, with a permanent concern for agreement and collaboration with the pastors, under the authority of the bishop. In fact, mutual recognition of the diversity of vocations in the Church and of their contribution, indispensable to evangelization, is an eloquent sign of the unity of the disciples of Christ and of the credibility of their testimony.

The Virgin Mary, Mother of the Emmanuel, has a great place in the spirituality of your community. Take her "to your home," as the beloved disciple did, so that she will truly be the Mother who guides you to her divine Son and helps you to remain faithful to him. Entrusting you to her maternal intercession, I impart to each one of you , as well as to all the members of the Emmanuel Community my heartfelt apostolic blessing.


Benedict XVI's Address to Rome's Police
"The Time in Which We Live Is Suffused With Profound Changes"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 21, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the directors and officers of the Police Headquarters in Rome.

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Illustrious Mr. Quaestor,
Illustrious Directors and Officials,
Dear Agents and Civil Personnel of the State Police!

I am truly happy about this meeting with you and I welcome you in the House of Peter, this time not for service, but to see, speak and greet one another in a more familiar way! I greet in particular Mr. Quaestor, thanking him for his courteous words, as well as the other directors and the chaplain. A cordial greeting to your families, especially the children!

I would like to thank you, first of all, for all the work you do in favor of the city of Rome, of which I am bishop, so that its life unfolds in order and security. I express my gratitude also for that extra commitment that often my activity requires of you! The time in which we live is suffused with profound changes. Even Rome, which is rightly called the "Eternal City," is very changed and evolves; we experience this every day and you are its privileged witnesses. These changes at times generate a sense of insecurity, due in the first place to the social and economic precariousness, made acute also by a certain weakening of the perception of ethical principles on which the law and personal moral attitudes are founded, which always give strength to those regulations.

Our world, with all its new hopes and possibilities, is suffused at the same time by the impression that moral consent is failing and that, as a consequence, the structures at the base of coexistence no longer succeed in functioning fully. Hence, in many the temptation appears of thinking that the forces mobilized for the defense of civil society are in the end destined to failure. In face of this temptation, we, who are Christians, have a particular responsibility to reawaken a new resoluteness in professing the faith and in doing good, to continue with courage to be close to men in their joys and sufferings, in happy hours as in those of darkness of earthly existence.

In our days, great importance is given to the subjective dimension of existence. On one hand, it is a good, because it makes possible to put man and his dignity at the center of consideration whether in thought or in historic action. One must never forget, however, that man finds his most profound dignity in the loving look of God, in reference to him. Attention to the subjective dimension is also a good when the value of the human conscience is put in evidence. However, here we find a grave risk, because developed in modern thought is a reductive vision of conscience, according to which there are no objective references in determining what is worthwhile and what is true, but it is the single individual, with his intuitions and experiences, who is the meter of measure; each one, hence, has his own truth, his own morality. The most evident consequence is that religion and morality tend to be confined in the ambit of the individual, of the private: that is, faith with its values and conduct is no longer to have a right and a place in public and civil life. Therefore, if on one hand great importance is given in society to pluralism and tolerance, on the other, religion tends to be progressively marginalized and considered irrelevant and, in a certain sense, foreign to the civil world, almost as if it should limit its influence on man's life.

On the contrary, for us Christians, the true meaning of "conscience" is man's capacity to recognize the truth and, the possibility prevails again of hearing its claim, of seeking it and finding it. It so happens that man is able to open himself to the truth and to the good, to be able to receive them freely and consciously. Moreover, the human person is an expression of a plan of love and truth: God has "projected" the person, so to speak, with his interiority, with his conscience, so that it can draw the guidelines to protect and cultivate himself and human society.

The new challenges which appear on the horizon exact that God and man again encounter one another, that society and public institutions find their "soul" again, their spiritual and moral roots, to give a new consistency to ethical and juridical values of reference and, hence, to practical action. The Christian faith and the Church do not cease to offer their own contribution to the promotion of the common good and of a genuinely human progress. The religious service itself and of spiritual assistance that -- in the strength of the normative dispositions in force -- state and Church are committed to furnish also to the personnel of the state police, witnesses the perennial fruitfulness of this meeting.

The singular vocation of the city of Rome requires from you today who are public officials, to give a good example of positive and profitable interaction between healthy laicism and Christian faith. The effectiveness of your service, in fact, is the fruit of the combination between professionalism and human quality, between the updating of means and systems of security and human gifts such as patience, perseverance in goodness, sacrifice and the willingness to listen. All this, well harmonized, goes in favor of the citizens, especially of persons in difficulty. Always be able to consider man as the end, so that all can live in a genuinely human way. As bishop of this city, I would like to invite you to read and meditate the Word of God, to find in it the source and the criterion of inspiration for your action.

Dear friends! When you are in service on the streets of Rome, and in your offices, think that your bishop, the Pope, prays for you, who loves you! I thank you for your visit, and entrust all to the protection of Mary Most Holy and of the Archangel St. Michael, your heavenly protector, while I impart from my heart to you and on your commitment a special Apostolic Blessing.


Benedict XVI's Address to Neocatechumenal Way
"Feel Beside You the Living Presence of the Risen Lord"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 17, 2011 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in Italian upon receiving in audience members of the Neocatechumenal Way.

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Dear Friends!

I am happy to receive you and to give you my cordial welcome. I greet in particular Kiko Arguello and Carmen Hernández, initiators of the Neocatechumenal Way, and Father Mario Pezzi, thanking them for their words of greeting and presentation which they addressed to me. With heartfelt affection I greet all of you here present: priests, seminarians, families and members of the Way.

I thank the Lord because he gives us the opportunity of this meeting, in which you renew your bond with the Successor of Peter, taking up the mandate that the Risen Christ gave to his disciples: "Go into all the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mark 16:15).

For more than 40 years the Neocatechumenal Way has been contributing to revive and consolidate Christian initiation in the dioceses and parishes, fostering a gradual and radical rediscovery of the riches of baptism, helping to the divine life, the heavenly life that the Lord inaugurated with his Incarnation, coming in our midst, being born as one of us. This gift of God for his Church is placed "at the service of the bishop as one of the ways of the diocesan accomplishment of Christian initiation and of permanent education in the faith" (Statute, art. 1 paragraph 2). Such service, as my predecessor the Servant of God Paul VI reminded you in the first meeting he had with you in 1974, "will be able to renew, in today's Christian community, those effects of maturity and deepening which in the early Church were realized in the period of preparation for Baptism" (Insegnamenti di Paolo VI, XII [1974], 406).

Accomplished profitably in the last few years has been the process of writing of the statutes of the Neocatechumenal Way that, after a period of validity "ad experimentum," was approved definitively in June 2008. Another significant step carried out in these days, with the approval of the competent dicasteries of the Holy See, is the Catechetical Directory of the Neocatechumenal Way. With these ecclesiastical seals, the Lord confirms today and entrusts to you again this precious instrument that is the Way, so that you can, in filial obedience to the Holy See and to the pastors of the Church, contribute, with new impetus and ardor, to the radical and joyful rediscovery of the gift of baptism and to offer your original contribution to the cause of the New Evangelization. The Church has recognized in the Neocatechumenal Way a particular gift aroused by the Holy Spirit: as such, it tends naturally to insert itself in the great harmony of the ecclesial body. In this light, I exhort you to seek always a profound communion with the pastors and with all the components of the particular Churches and the very different ecclesial contexts in which you are called to operate. The fraternal communion between the disciples of Jesus is, in fact, the first and greatest testimony to the name of Jesus Christ.

I am particularly happy to be able to send today, to different parts of the world, more than 200 new families, who have made themselves available with the generosity and leave for the mission, joining ideally the close to 600 who already work in the five continents. Dear families, may the faith you received as gift be the light that is placed in the candelabrum, capable of showing men the way to Heaven. With the same sentiment, I will send 13 new "missiones ad gentes," which will be called to bring about a new ecclesial presence in the very secularized environment of different countries, or in places where the message of Christ has not yet reached. You can always feel beside you the living presence of the Risen Lord and the support of so many brothers, as well as the Pope's prayer which is with you!

I greet affectionately the presbyters from the "Redemptoris Mater" diocesan seminaries of Europe, and the other two thousand seminarians here present. Beloved, you are a special and eloquent sign of the fruits of goodness that can be born from the rediscovery of the grace of Baptism itself. We look to you with particular hope: be priests enamored of Christ and his Church, capable of transmitting to the world the joy of having encountered the Lord and of being able to be at his service.

I also greet the itinerant catechists and those of the Neocatechumenal community of Rome and Lazio and, with special affection, the "communitates in missionem." You have abandoned, so to speak, the securities of your original community to go to more distant and uncomfortable places, accepting being sent to help parishes in difficulty and to seek the lost sheep and bring them back to the sheepfold of Christ. In the sufferings and aridity that you might experience, feel united to the sufferings of Christ on the cross, and to his desire to gather so many brothers far from the faith and from truth, to bring them back to the house of the Father.

As I wrote in the apostolic exhortation "Verbum Domini," "the mission of the Church cannot be considered as an optional or additional reality of ecclesial life. It is a question of letting the Holy Spirit assimilate us to Christ himself [...] in order to communicate the Word with one's whole life" (No. 93). The whole People of God is a "sent" people and the proclamation of the Gospel is a commitment of all Christians as a consequence of baptism (cf. ibid., No. 94). I invite you to reflect on the exhortation "Verbum Domini," reflecting, in a particular way where, in the third part of the document, mention is made of "[t]he mission of the Church: to proclaim the Word of God to the world" (No. 90-98).

Dear friends, let us share in the longing of salvation of the Lord Jesus, in the mission that He entrusts to the whole Church. May the Blessed Virgin Mary, who inspired your Way and who has given you the family of Nazareth as model of your community, grant you to live your faith in humility, simplicity and praise, may she intercede for all of you and accompany you in your mission. May you also be sustained by my blessing, which I impart to you from my heart and to all the members of the Neocatechumenal Way spread around the world.


Benedict XVI's Address to Mayor of Rome
"Original Cell of the Society Is the Family, Founded on Marriage Between a Man and Woman"
VATICAN CITY, JAN. 14, 2011- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving the mayor of Rome, Giovanni Alemanno, along with the administrators of the Lazio Region of the Municipality and Province of Rome, on the occasion of the traditional exchange of good wishes for the New Year.

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Illustrious Gentlemen and Ladies!

Following a happy custom, this year also I have the pleasing occasion of meeting the representatives of the Institutions of the Lazio region, of the Municipality and of the Province of Rome. I thank the Honorable Renata Polverini, president of the Regional Junta of Lazio, the Honorable Giovanni Alemanno, mayor of Rome, and the Honorable Nicola Zingaretti, president of the Province of Rome, for the courteous words addressed to me on behalf of all. I return the cordial good wishes for the New Year to you, to the citizens of Rome and of the Province and to the inhabitants of Lazio, to whom I feel particularly linked as Bishop of this city, Successor of Peter.

Rome's singular vocation, center of Catholicism and capital of the Italian State, requires of our city that it be an example of fruitful and profitable collaboration between the public institutions and the ecclesial community. Such collaboration, in respect of the reciprocal competencies, is particularly urgent today because of the new challenges that appear on the horizon. The Church, particularly through the work of the lay faithful and of the associations of Catholic inspiration, wishes to continue to offer her contribution for the promotion of the common good and of genuinely human progress.

Original cell of the society is the family, founded on marriage between a man and woman. It is in the family that the children learn the human and Christian values that make possible constructive and peaceful coexistence. It is in the family that solidarity between the generations, respect for rules, forgiveness and acceptance of the other is learned. It is in their own home that young people, experiencing the affection of their parents, discover what love is and learn to love. Hence, the family must be supported by organic policies that are not limited to propose solutions to contingent problems but have as their aim its consolidation and development and are accompanied by an adequate educational endeavor. At times, unfortunately, grave violent events occur, and some aspects of crisis of the family are amplified, caused by rapid social and cultural changes.

Also the approval of forms of union that pervert the essence and end of the family, ends by penalizing all those who, not without effort, are committed to living stable affective bonds, guaranteed juridically and recognized publicly. In this perspective, the Church looks favorably on all those initiatives that seek to educate young people to live love in the logic of the gift of self, with a lofty and oblative vision of sexuality. Serving this aim is an educational convergence between the different components of the society, so that human love is not reduced to an object to consume, but can be perceived and lived as a fundamental experience that gives meaning and purpose to existence.
The reciprocal giving of themselves of spouses bears with it openness to generation: the desire of paternity and maternity is in fact inscribed in man's heart. So many couples would like to receive the gift of new children, but they are driven to wait. Because of this, it is necessary to support maternity concretely, as well as to guarantee to women who are engaged in a profession the possibility of combining family and work. Too many times, in fact, they are placed in the necessity of choosing between the two. The development of adequate policies of help, as well as of structures destined for children, such as nurseries, also those run by families, could help to make the child not to be seen as a problem, but as a gift and great joy. Moreover, because "openness to life is at the center of true development" ("Caritas in Veritate," No. 28), the high number of abortions that are practiced in our Region cannot leave one indifferent. The Christian community, through numerous "Family Homes," "Center of Help to Life" and other similar initiatives, is committed to support and give sustenance to women who are in difficulty in accepting a new life. Public institutions are able to offer their support so that Family Consultants are able to help women to surmount the causes that can induce them to interrupt their pregnancy. To this end, I express my appreciation for the law in force in the Lazio region that provides the so-called "family quotient" and considers the conceived child as a component of the family, and I hope that this norm will be fully accomplished. I am happy that the city of Rome has already undertaken its commitment in this direction.

On the other side of life, the aging of the population poses new problems. The elderly are a great richness for society. Their knowledge, their experience and their wisdom are a patrimony for young people, who are in need of teachers of life. If many elderly are able to count on the support and closeness of their family, the number is growing of those who find themselves in fragile conditions because of their age or precarious health. While I rejoice over the existing synergy with the great Catholic health realities -- as, for example, in the field of children, between the "Bambino Gesu" Hospital and the public institutions -- I hope that these structures will be able to continue to collaborate with the local entities to ensure their service to all those who turn to them, I renew the invitation to promote a culture that respects life until its natural end, in the awareness that "the measure of humanity is determined essentially in the relationship with suffering and the one who suffers" (Encyclical "Spe Salvi," No. 38).

In these last times, the serenity of our families is threatened by the grave and persistent economic crisis, and many families can no longer guarantee a sufficient tenor of life to their children. Through Caritas, our parishes spend themselves to help these family nucleuses, alleviating, in so far as possible, the hardships, and addressing the primary needs. I trust that adequate provisions will be adopted, geared to supporting low income families, particularly those that are numerous, too often penalized. To this is added every day a more dramatic problem. I am referring to the serious question of work. Young people in particular, who after years of preparation do not see work openings and the possibility of social insertion and of projection of the future, often feel disappointed and are tempted to reject society itself. The prolonging of similar situations causes social tensions, which are exploited by criminal organizations by proposing illicit activities. Hence, it is urgent that, despite the difficult moment, every effort be made to promote occupational policies, which can guarantee work and dignified sustenance, indispensable condition to give life to new families.

Dear Authorities, many are the problems that require a solution. May your commitment as administrators, who make an effort to collaborate together for the good of the community, always be able to consider man as an end, so that he can live in a genuinely human way. Hence, as Bishop of this city I would like to invite you to find in the Word of God the source of inspiration for your political and social action, in the "search for the true good of all, in the respect and promotion of the dignity of every person" (Post-Synodal Apostolic "ExhortationVerbum Domini," No. 101).

I assure you of my remembrance in prayer, above all for those who today begin their service to the common good, and while I invoke on your commitment the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary, Salus Populi Romani, I impart to you my heartfelt Blessing, which a gladly extend to the inhabitants of Rome, of its Province and of the whole of Lazio.


Pope's Message for 2011 World Day of the Sick
"The Cross Is God's 'Yes' to Mankind"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 19, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's message for the 19th World Day of the Sick, which will be observed Feb. 11, on the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. The Vatican press office published the message Saturday.

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Dear brothers and sisters!

Every year, on the occasion of the memorial of the Blessed Virgin of Lourdes, which is celebrated on Feb. 11, the Church proposes the World Day of the Sick. This circumstance becomes, as the venerable John Paul II desired, the propitious occasion to reflect on the mystery of suffering and, above all, to make our communities and civil society more sensitive to sick brothers and sisters. If every man is our brother, much more are the weak, the suffering and those needful of care, and they must be at the center of our attention, so that none of them feel forgotten or marginalized; in fact, "the true measure of humanity is essentially determined in relationship to suffering and to the sufferer. This holds true both for the individual and for society. A society unable to accept its suffering members and incapable of helping to share their suffering and to bear it inwardly through 'com-passion' is a cruel and inhuman society" ("Spe Salvi," No. 38). May the initiatives that individual dioceses promote on the occasion of this day be a stimulus to make care for the suffering more and more effective, also in view of the solemn celebration that will take place at the Marian shrine in Altötting in Germany.

1. I still have in my heart the moment when, during the course of the pastoral visit to Turin, I was able to pause in reflection and prayer before the sacred Shroud, before that suffering countenance, that invites us to meditate on him who took upon himself man's suffering of every age and place, even our sufferings, our difficulties, our sins. How many faithful over the course of history have passed before that sepulchral winding sheet, which covered the body of a crucified man, which in everything corresponds to what the Gospels transmit about the passion and death of Jesus! Contemplating him is an invitation to reflect on what St. Peter writes: "By his wounds we have been healed" (1 Peter 2:24).

The Son of God has suffered, he has died, but he is risen, it is precisely because of this that those wounds become the sign of our redemption, of our forgiveness and reconciliation with the Father; they become, however, a test for the faith of the disciples and our faith: every time that the Lord speaks of his passion and death, they do not understand, they reject it, they oppose it. For them as for us, suffering is always charged with mystery, difficult to accept and bear. Because of the events that had occurred in Jerusalem in those days the two disciples of Emmaus walk along sadly, and only when the Risen One walks along the road with them do they open up to a new vision (cf. Luke 24:13-31). Even the apostle Thomas manifests the difficulty of believing in the redemptive way of suffering: "Unless I see the mark of the nails in his hands and put my finger into the nailmarks and put my hand into his side, I will not believe" (John 20:25).

But before Christ who shows his wounds, his response is transformed into a moving profession of faith: "My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28). What was at first an insurmountable obstacle, because it was the sign of Jesus’ apparent failure, becomes, in the encounter with the Risen One, the proof of victorious love: "Only a God who loves us to the extent of taking upon himself our wounds and our pain, especially innocent suffering, is worthy of faith" (Urbi et Orbi Message, Easter 2007).

2. Dear sick and suffering ones, it is precisely through the sufferings of the Christ that we are able to see, with eyes of hope, all the maladies that afflict humanity. Rising, the Lord did not take away suffering and evil from the world, but he defeated them at their root. To the arrogance of Evil he opposed the omnipotence of his Love. He has shown us, then, that the way of peace and joy is Love: "As I have loved you, so must you love one another" (John 13:34). Christ, victor over death, is alive and in our midst. And while with St. Thomas we also say: "My Lord and my God!" we follow our Lord in readiness to spend our life for our brothers (cf. 1 John 3:16), becoming messengers of a joy that does not fear pain, the joy of the Resurrection.

St. Bernard said: "God cannot suffer, but he can suffer with." God, who is Truth and Love in person, wanted to suffer for us and with us; he became man to suffer with man, in a real way, in flesh and blood. Into every human suffering, then, there has entered One who shares suffering and endurance; he offers consolation in all suffering, the consolation of the participating love of God, which makes the star of hope rise (cf. "Spe salvi," 39).

I repeat this message to you, dear brothers and sisters, so that you become witnesses through your suffering, your life and your faith.

3. Looking forward to the meeting in Madrid, in August 2011, for World Youth Day, I would also like to address a special thought to young people, especially those who live the experience of sickness. Often, the Passion and the Cross of Jesus cause fear, because they seem to be the negation of life. In reality, it is exactly the contrary! The cross is God’s "yes" to mankind, the highest and most intense expression of his love and the source from which flows eternal life. From the pierced heart of Jesus this divine life flows. He alone is capable of liberating the world from evil and make his kingdom of justice, of peace and of love grow, the kingdom to which we all aspire (cf. Message for World Youth Day 2011, 3).

Dear young people, learn to "see" and to "meet" Jesus in the Eucharist, where he is present for us in a real way, to the point of making himself food for the journey, but know how to recognize and serve him also in those brothers who are poor, sick, suffering and in difficulty, who have need of your help (cf. ibid., 4). To all of you young people, sick and healthy, I repeat the invitation to create bridges of love and solidarity, so that no one feels alone, but near to God and part of the great family of his children (cf. General Audience, November 15, 2006).

4. Contemplating Jesus’ wounds our gaze turns to his most sacred Heart in which God’s love manifests itself in the supreme way. The Sacred Heart is Christ crucified, with his side opened by the lance, from which blood and water flow (cf. John 19:34), "symbol of the sacraments of the Church, that all men, drawn to the Heart of the Savior, might drink from the perennial font of salvation" (Roman Missal, Preface for the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus). Especially you, dear sick ones, should feel the nearness of this Heart full of love and draw from this font with faith and with joy, praying: "Water from the side of Christ, wash me. Passion of Christ, strengthen me. O good Jesus, hear me. In your wounds, hide me" (Prayer of St. Ignatius of Loyola).

5. At the end of this message of mine for the next World Day of the Sick, I would like to express my affection to each and every one, feeling myself a participant in the sufferings and hopes that you have daily in union with Christ crucified and risen, that he give you peace and healing of the heart. May the Virgin Mary keep watch over you together with him. We invoke her confidently under the titles Health of the Infirm and Consoler of the Suffering. At the foot of the cross there is realized through her Simeon’s prophecy: her Mother’s heart is pierced (cf. Luke 2:35). From the abyss of her pain, a participation in her Son’s, Mary is made capable of accepting her new mission: to become the Mother of Christ in his members. In the hour of the cross Jesus presents her to all of his disciples: "Behold your son" (cf. John 19:26-27). The maternal compassion for the Son becomes maternal compassion for each one of us in our daily sufferings (cf. Homily at Lourdes, Sept. 15, 2008).

Dear brothers and sisters, for this World Day of the Sick, I also invite the political authorities to invest more and more in health systems that are a help and a support for the suffering, above all the poorest and the most needy, and, addressing all the dioceses, I offer an affectionate to the bishops, the priests, consecrated persons, seminarians, health workers, volunteers and all of those who dedicate themselves with love to care for and sooth the wounds of every sick brother or sister, in hospitals or nursing homes, in families: in the faces of the sick know how to see always the face of faces -- that of Christ.

I assure everyone a remembrance in my prayer, while I impart to each of you a special apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, Nov. 21, 2010, Feast of Christ the King of the Universe



Papal Homily at Mass for Manuela Camagni
"She Entered the Lord's Celebration as a Prudent and Wise Virgin"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2010 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today in the Vatican's Pauline Chapel during a Mass for the repose of the soul of Manuela Camagni, 56, a member of the association of Memores Domini who formed part of a team of women who look after the papal apartments. She was killed last week in Rome when she was struck by a car.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In the last days of her life, our dear Manuela spoke of the fact that on Nov. 29 she would have belonged to the Memores Domini community for 30 years. And she said it with great joy, preparing herself -- that was the impression -- for an interior celebration of this 30-year journey toward the Lord, in communion with the friends of the Lord. The celebration, however, was other than the one foreseen: In fact, on Nov. 29 we took her to the cemetery, we sang that the angels might accompany her to paradise, we guided her to the definitive celebration, to the great celebration of God, to the marriage of the Lamb.

Thirty years journeying toward the Lord, entering the celebration of the Lord. Manuela was a "wise, prudent virgin," she carried oil in her lamp, the oil of faith, a lived faith, a faith nourished by prayer, by conversation with the Lord, by meditation on the Word of God, by communion in friendship with Christ. And this faith was hope, wisdom, and the certainty that faith opens the true future. And her faith was charity, giving herself to others, living in the service of the Lord for others. I personally must be grateful for her willingness to put forth her effort to work in my house, with this spirit of charity, of hope that comes from faith.

She entered the Lord's celebration as prudent and wise virgin, because she lived not in the superficiality of those who forget the grandeur of our vocation, but in the great vision of eternal life, and thus she was prepared for the Lord's arrival.

Thirty years Memores Domini. St. Bonaventure says the memory of the Creator is inscribed in the depths of our being. And precisely because this memory is inscribed in our being, we can recognize the Creator in his creation, we can remember him, see his traces in this cosmos created by him. St. Bonaventure says, moreover, that this memory of the Creator is not only a memory of the past because the source is present, it is also a memory of the presence of the Lord; it's also a memory of the future, because it is certain that we come from the goodness of God and are called to strive for the goodness of God. So an element of joy is present in this memory, the joy that our origin is in God and our call to strive for the great joy. And we know that Manuel was a person deeply penetrated with joy, that joy that comes from the memory of God.

But St. Bonaventure adds also that our memory, as all our existence, is wounded by sin: hence our memory is obscured, covered by other superficial memories, and we can no longer go beyond these other superficial memories, to get to the bottom, to the true memory that sustains our being. Hence, because of this forgetfulness of God, this forgetfulness of the essential memory, our joy is also covered, darkened. Yes, we know that we are created for joy, but we no longer know where joy is, and we seek it in different places. Today we see this desperate search for joy that increasingly moves away from its true source, the true joy. Forgetfulness of God, forgetfulness of our true memory: Manuela was not one who lost her memory, she lived in the living memory of the Creator. In the joy of his relationship, seeing the transparency of God in all creation, even in the daily events of our lives, she understood that joy comes from this memory.

Memores Domini. The Memores Domini know that Christ, on the eve of his Passion, renewed, and more than that, he elevated our memory. "Do this in memory of me," he said, and he thus gave us the memory of his presence, the memory of the gift of himself, of the gift of his Body and his Blood, and in this gift of his Body and Blood, in this gift of his infinite love, we come into contact once again with our memory of the stronger presence of God, his gift of himself. As a Memor Domini, Manuela experienced this living memory, which the Lord gives with his body, and thus renews our knowledge of God.

In the controversy with the Sadducees about the resurrection, the Lord says to those, who do not believe in it: but God calls himself "God of Abraham, of Isaac, of Jacob." The three are part of God's name, they are inscribed in God's name, they are in God's name, in God's memory, and so the Lord says: God is not a God of the dead, He is a God of the living and those who are part of the name of God, who live in memory of God are alive, unfortunately, we humans can retain only a shadow of people we loved in our memory. But the memory of God not only preserves the shadows, it is the origin of life: here the dead live, in His life and with His life they have entered the memory of God who is life. This is what the Lord says to us today: You are inscribed in God's name, you live in God with the true life, you live from the true source of life.

So, in this moment of sadness, we are consoled. And the liturgy renewed after the Council dares to teach us to sing "Alleluia" even in the Mass for the Dead. This is audacious! We feel above all the pain of the loss, we feel above all the absence, the past, but the liturgy knows that we are in the Body itself of Christ and that we live from the memory of God, which is our memory. In this intertwining of his memory and of our memory we are together, we are living. We pray to the Lord that we may feel increasingly this communion of memory, that our memory of God in Christ may become ever more alive, and thus be able to feel that our true life is in him and in him we all rest united. In this sense, we sing "Alleluia," certain that the Lord is life and his love is never ending. Amen.


Pope's Message for Funeral of Manuela Camagni
"Where No One Can Accompany Us, God Awaits Us"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 30, 2010 - Here is a translation of the message that Benedict XVI sent for the funeral of Manuela Camagni, 56, a member of the association of Memores Domini who formed part of a team of women who look after the papal apartments. She was killed Tuesday night in Rome when she was struck by a car.

Monsignor Georg Ganswein, the Pope's personal secretary, read the message at the funeral, held Monday in Bagno di Romagna, a city in Italy's northern region of Emilia–Romagna.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I would willingly have presided over the funeral of dear Manuela Camagni, but -- as you can imagine -- it was not possible for me. However, communion in Christ allows us Christians a real spiritual closeness, in which we share the prayer and affection of the heart. In this profound bond I greet all of you, in particular Manuela's family, the diocesan bishop, the priests, the Memores Domini, and her friends.

I would like to give here very briefly my testimony of our sister, who has gone to heaven. Many of you knew Manuela for a long time. I was able to benefit from her presence and her service in the papal apartment, in the last five years, in a family dimension. Because of this I wish to thank the Lord for the gift of Manuela's life, for her faith, for her generous response to her vocation. Divine Providence led her to a discreet but precious service in the Pope's house. She was happy about this and took part joyfully in family moments: at Holy Mass in the morning, at vespers, at meals in common and in the various and significant happenings of the house.

Her departure, so sudden, and also the way in which she was taken, have given us great grief, which only faith can console. I find much support in thinking of the words that form the name of her community: Memores Domini. Meditating on these words, on the meaning, I find a sense of peace, because they call to a profound relationship that is stronger than death. Memores Domini means: "those who remember the Lord," namely, persons who live in the memory of God and Jesus, and in this daily remembrance, full of faith and love, they find the meaning of everything, from small actions to great choices, of work, study and fraternity. The memory of the Lord fills the heart with profound joy, as an ancient hymn of the Church says: "Jesu dulcis memoria, dans vera cordis gaudia" [Jesus sweet memory, that gives true joy to the heart].

Hence, because of this it gives me peace to think that Manuela is a "memor Domini," a person who lived in the memory of the Lord. This relationship with him is more profound than the abyss of death. It is a bond that nothing and no one can break, as St. Paul says: "[Nothing] can separate us from the love of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39). Yes, if we remember the Lord, it is because he first remembers us. We are "memores Domini" because he is "memor nostri," he remembers us with love of a parent, a brother, a friend, also at the moment of death. If at times it seems that at that moment he is absent, that he forgets us, in reality we are always present to him, we are in his heart. Wherever we fall, we fall into his hands. Precisely there, where no one can accompany us, God awaits us: He is our Life.

Dear brothers and sisters, in this faith full of hope, which is Mary's faith near the cross of Jesus, I celebrated the Mass for Manuela's soul the very morning of her death. And while I accompany with prayer the Christian rite of her burial, I impart with affection to her family, her fellow sisters and all of you my blessing.


Pope's Address on Romano Guardini
"He Aspired to the Truth of God and to the Truth About Man"
VATICAN CITY, NOV. 24, 2010 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address, which he gave last month upon receiving in audience members of the "Romano Guardini" Foundation of Berlin, who were in Rome for a congress dedicated to the memory of the theologian, who was a teacher of Joseph Ratzinger himself.

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Most Illustrious President Professor von Pufendorf,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

It is a joy for me to be able to welcome all of you here, in the Apostolic Palace, who have come to Rome on the occasion of the congress of the Guardini Foundation on the theme "Spiritual and Intellectual Heritage of Romano Guardini." In particular, I thank dear Professor von Pufendorf, for the cordial words he addressed to me at the beginning of this meeting, in which he expressed all the present "struggle" that unites us to Guardini and, at the same time, calls us to carry forward his life's work.

In the thanksgiving address on the occasion of the celebration of his 80th birthday, in February 1965, at the Ludwig-Maximilian University of Munich, Guardini described his life's task, as he understood it, as a way "of questioning oneself, in a continuous spiritual exchange, which means a Christian Weltanschauung" (Stationen und Ruckblicke, S. 41). The view, this joint look over the world, for Guardini was not a look from outside as a mere object of research. Nor did he pretend to the perspective of the history of the spirit, which examines and ponders what others have said or written on the religious way of an age. All these points of view were insufficient according to Guardini.

In notes on his life, he said: "What interested me immediately was not what someone said about Christian truth but what is true" (Berichte uber mein Leben, S. 24). And it was this approach of his teaching which impressed us young people, because we did not want to know the "pyrotechnic spectacle" of existing opinions in and outside of Christianity: We wanted to know what "is". And here there was one who without fear and, at the same time, with all the seriousness of critical thought, posed this question and helped us to think together.

Guardini did not want to know one or many things. He aspired to the truth of God and to the truth about man. For him the instrument to approach this truth was the Weltanschauung -- as it was called at the time -- which takes place in a lively exchange with the world and with men. What is specifically Christian consists in the fact that man knows himself in a relationship with God who precedes him and from whom he cannot subtract himself. Our thinking is not the principle that establishes the measure of things, but God who surpasses our measure and who cannot be reduced to any entity created by us.

God reveals himself as the truth, but the latter is not abstract, but on the contrary, is found in the concrete-living, in fine, in the form of Jesus Christ. However, whoever wishes to see Jesus, the truth, must "reverse his direction," must come out of the autonomy of arbitrary thought to the disposition to listen, which accepts what is. And this reversal, which he carried out in his conversion, molded all his thought and life as a continuous going out of autonomy to listening, to receiving. However, even in a genuine relationship with God, man does not always understand what God says. He needs a corrective, and this consists in the exchange with others, which in the living Church of all times has found its reliable form, which unites all with one another.

Guardini was a man of dialogue. His works arose, almost without exception, from a conversation, at least interior. The lessons of the professor of the philosophy of religion and of Christian Weltanschauung at the University of Berlin in the 20s represented above all meetings with personalities of the history of thought. Guardini read the works of these authors, listened to them, learned how they saw the world and entered into dialogue with them to develop, in conversation with them, what he, in so far as Catholic thinker, had to say to their thought. He continued this custom in Munich, and, in fact, it was also the peculiarity of the style of his lessons, being in dialogue with the Thinkers. His key word was "look," because he wanted to lead us to "see" and he himself was in a common interior dialogue with his listeners.

This was the novelty in regard to the rhetoric of old times: that he, in fact, did not seek any rhetoric, but spoke in a totally simple way with us and, at the same time, spoke with truth and induced us to dialogue with truth. And this was a wide spectrum of "dialogues" with authors such as Socrates, Saint Augustine or Pascal, with Dante, Holderlin, Morike, Rilke and Dostoyevsky. In them he saw living mediators, who discover the present in one word of the past, enabling one to see and live it in a new way. These give us a strength which can lead us back to ourselves.

From man's opening to truth issues, for Guardini, an ethos, a base for our moral behavior towards our neighbor, as an exigency of our existence. Given that man can find God, he can also act well. True for him is this primacy of ontology over ethos, of the being, of the very being of God correctly understood and heard, from which follows correct action. He said: "A genuine praxis, that is, correct action, arises from truth and must fight for it" (Ibid., S. 111).

Such yearning for truth and the tending toward what is original and essential, Guardini observed, above all, in young people. In his talks with youth, particularly in Rothenfels Castle, which at the time, thanks to Guardini, had become a center of the Catholic youth movement, the priest and educator carried forward the ideals of the youth movement such as self-determination, personal responsibility and the interior disposition to truth: he purified and deepened them.

Liberty, yes, but only he is free -- he told us -- who is "completely what he must be according to his nature. [...] Liberty is truth" (Auf dem Wege, S. 20). For Guardini the truth of man is essentialness and conformity to being. The path leads to truth when man exercises "the obedience of our being in regard to the being of God" (Ibid., S. 21). This happens ultimately in adoration, which for Guardini belongs to the realm of thought.

In supporting youth, Guardini also sought a new access to the liturgy. The rediscovery of the liturgy was for him a rediscovery of the unity between spirit and body in the totality of the unique human being, as the liturgical act is always at the same time a corporal and spiritual act. Prayer is dilated through corporal and community action, and thus reveals the unity of the whole of reality. The liturgy is symbolic acting. The symbol as quintessence of the unity between the spiritual and the material is lost when both are separated, when the world is fragmented in a dualistic way in spirit and body, in subject and object. Guardini was profoundly convinced that man is spirit in body and body in spirit and that, therefore, the liturgy and the symbol lead him to the essence of himself, in a word, lead him through adoration to the truth.

Among the great themes of Guardini's life, the relationship between faith and the world is of permanent timeliness. Guardini saw above all in the University the place of the search for truth. The University can be so, however, only when it is free of all instrumentalization and advantages for political ends or of another type. Today, in a world of globalization and fragmentation, it is even more necessary to carry this proposal forward, a proposal that is very important for the Guardini Foundation, and for whose realization the Guardini chair has been created.

Again I express my cordial gratitude to all those present for having come. May appealing frequently to Guardini's work refine sensibility to the Christian foundations of our culture and society. I impart willingly to you all the apostolic blessing.


Benedict XVI's Message for G-20 Summit
The World "Expects That Appropriate Solutions Will Be Adopted to Overcome the Crisis"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 10, 2010 - Here is a message sent by Benedict XVI to Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the occasion of the Group of 20 Summit, which begins Thursday in Seoul, South Korea.

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Mr. President,

The meeting about to take place in Seoul of Heads of States and Government of the world's twenty-two leading economies together with the Secretary-General of the United Nations Organization, the Presidency of the European Union and some regional Organizations, as well as the leaders of various specialized Agencies, is not only of global importance but also clearly expresses the significance and responsibility which Asia has acquired on the international scene at the beginning of the 21st century. The Korean Presidency of the Summit is a recognition of the significant level of economic development attained by your country, which is the first among those not belonging to the G8 to host the G20 and guide its decision in the world after the crisis. The Summit seeks solutions to quite complex questions, on which the future of upcoming generations depends and which therefore require the cooperation of the entire international community, based on the acknowledgement -- which is shared and agreed by all peoples -- of the primary and central value of human dignity, the final objective of the choices themselves.

The Catholic Church, in accordance with her specific nature, regards herself as involved and shares the concerns of the leaders who will take part in the Seoul Summit. I therefore encourage you to tackle the numerous serious problems facing you -- and which, in a sense, face every human person today -- bearing in mind the deeper reasons for the economic and financial crisis and giving due consideration to the consequences of the measures adopted to overcome the crisis itself, and to seek lasting, sustainable and just solutions. In doing so, it is my hope that there will be a keen awareness that the solutions adopted, as such, will work only if, in the final analysis, they are aimed at reaching the same goal: the authentic and integral development of man.

The world's attention focuses on you and it expects that appropriate solutions will be adopted to overcome the crisis, with common agreements which will not favor some countries at the expense of others. History, furthermore, reminds us that, no matter how difficult it is to reconcile the different socio-cultural, economic and political identities coexisting today, these solutions, to be effective, must be applied through combined action which, above all, respects the nature of man. It is decisive for the very future of humanity to show the world and history that today, thanks also to this crisis, man has matured to the point of being able to recognize that civilizations and cultures, like economic, social and political systems, can and must converge in a shared vision of human dignity, which respects the laws and requirements placed in it by God the Creator. The G20 will respond to the expectations placed in it and grant real success to future generations, if taking into consideration the various and sometimes contrasting problems afflicting the peoples of the earth, it is able to set out the characteristics of the universal common good and demonstrate its willingness to cooperate in order to attain it.

With these sentiments I invoke God's blessings on all taking part in the Seoul Summit and I avail myself of the occasion to renew to Your Excellency the assurance of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 8 November 2010


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address to Participants in Erik Peterson Congress     (theology)
His Thought "Always Has a Vision of the Whole of Theology"
VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Monday upon receiving in audience the participants in the International Symposium on Erik Peterson.

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Dear Brothers in the Priesthood,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

I greet all of you with great joy who have come here to Rome on the occasion of the International Symposium on Erik Peterson. In particular, I thank you, dear Cardinal Lehmann, for the cordial words with which you have introduced our meeting.

As you said, celebrated this year are the 120 years of the birth in Hamburg of this illustrious theologian; and, almost on this same day, Oct. 26, 1960, Erik Peterson died, still in his native city of Hamburg. He lived here in Rome, with his family, for some periods beginning in 1930, and afterward he established himself here from 1933: first on the Aventine, near St. Anselm, and subsequently on the outskirts of the Vatican, in a house facing St. Anne's Gate. That is why it is a particular joy for me to be able to greet the Peterson family present among us, his esteemed sons and daughters with their respective families. In 1990, together with Cardinal Lehmann, I was able to give your mother, in your apartment, on the occasion of her 80th birthday, an autograph with the image of Pope John Paul II, and I happily remember this meeting with you.

"For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city which is to come" (Hebrews 13:14). This quotation from the Letter to the Hebrews could be the motto of Erik Peterson's life. In fact, he never found a true place, in his whole life, where he could get recognition and a stable dwelling. The beginning of his scientific activity fell at a period of upheavals in Germany after World War I. The monarchy had fallen. The civil order seemed to be at risk given the political and social disturbances. This was also reflected in the religious realm and, in a particular way, in German Protestantism. The liberal theology predominant up to then, with the proper optimism of progress, had entered into crisis and left room for new theological lines confronted among themselves. The contemporary situation posed an existential problem to young Peterson. With both historical as well as theological interest, he had already chosen the subject of his studies, as he affirmed, according to the perspective that "when we stay with human history alone, we are faced with a meaningless enigma" (Eintrag in das Bonner "Album Professorum" 1926/27, Ausgewahlte Schriften, Sonderband S. 111).

Peterson, I quote him again, decided "to work in the historical field and address especially problems of the history of religions," because in the Evangelical theology of the time, he did not succeed "in making headway among the cumulus of opinions to things in themselves" (ibid.). On this path he came increasingly to the certainty that there is no history separated from God and that in this history the Church has a special place and finds her meaning. I quote again: "That the Church exists and that she is constituted in an all together particular way, depends closely on the fact that (...) there is a determined, specifically theological history" (Vorlesung "Geschichte der Alten Kirche" Bonn 1928, Ausgewahlte Schriften, Sonderband S.88). The Church receives from God the mandate to lead men from their limited and isolated existence to a universal communion, from the natural to the supernatural, from fleetingness to the end of times. In his work on the angels he affirms in this regard: "The path of the Church leads from the earthly to the heavenly Jerusalem, (...) to the city of the angels and of the saints" (Buch von den Engeln, Einleitung).

The starting point of this path is the binding character of sacred Scripture. According to Peterson, sacred Scripture becomes and is binding not as such, it is not only in itself, but in the hermeneutics of the Apostolic Tradition that, in turn, is made concrete in the Apostolic succession and thus the Church maintains Scripture in a living present and at the same time interprets it. Through the bishops, who are in the Apostolic succession, the testimony of Scripture remains alive in the Church and constitutes the foundation for the permanently valid convictions of the faith of the Church, which we find first of all in the creed and in dogma. These convictions are continuously displayed in the liturgy as a living space of the Church for the praise of God. The Divine Office celebrated on earth is, therefore, in an indissoluble relationship with the heavenly Jerusalem: Offered there to God and to the Lamb is the true and eternal sacrifice of praise, of which the earthly celebration is only an image. Whoever participates in the Holy Mass stands almost on the threshold of the heavenly sphere, from which he contemplates the worship carried out by the angels and the saints. Wherever the earthly Church intones her Eucharistic praise, she is united to the festive, heavenly assembly, in which, in the saints, already a part of her has arrived, and gives hope to all those who are still on the way on this earth towards the eternal fulfillment.

Perhaps at this point I should insert a personal reflection. I first discovered the figure of Erik Peterson in 1951. At the time I was chaplain in Bogenhausen, and the director of the local publishing house Kosel, Mr. Wild, gave me the volume, just published, "Theologische Traktate" (Theological Treatises). I read it with increasing curiosity and let myself be truly impassioned by this book, because the theology I was looking for was there: a theology that employs all the historical seriousness to understand and study the texts, analyzing them with all the seriousness of historical research, and not allowing them to remain in the past, but that, in his research, he participates in the self-surmounting of the letter, enters into this self-surmounting and lets himself be led by it and in this way enters into contact with the One from whom theology itself comes: with the living God. And thus the hiatus between the past, which philology analyzes, and the today, is surmounted by itself, because the word leads to the encounter with reality, and the entire timeliness of what is written, which transcends itself toward reality, becomes alive and operating. Thus, from him I learned, in the most essential and profound way, what theology really is, and I also felt admiration, because here he does not only say what he thinks, but this book is an expression of a path that was the passion of his life.

Paradoxically, precisely the exchange of letters with Harnack expresses to the limit the unexpected attention that Peterson was receiving. Harnack confirmed, more than that, he had already written with precedence and independence, that the Catholic formal principle according to which "Scripture lives in the Tradition and the Tradition lives in the living form of the Succession," is the original and objective principle, and that sola Scriptura does not function.

Peterson assumed this affirmation of the liberal theologian in all its seriousness and allowed himself to be shaken, disturbed, bent and transformed by it, and in this way he found the path of conversion. And with it he really took a step as Abraham, according to what we have heard at the beginning of the Letter to the Hebrews: "For here we have no lasting city." He went from the security of a chair to uncertainty, without a dwelling, and he remained during the whole of his life deprived of a sure base and certain homeland, truly on the way with faith and for faith, in the confidence that by being on the way without a dwelling, he was at home in another way and was approaching ever more the heavenly liturgy, which had impressed him.

Given all of this one understands that many thoughts and writings of Peterson remained fragmentary because of the precarious situation of his life, after the loss of teaching, because of his conversion. But even having to live without the security of a fixed salary, he was married here in Rome and constituted a family. With this he expressed in a concrete way his inner conviction that we, though foreigners -- and he was so in a particular way -- find support in the communion of love, and that in love itself there is something that lasts for eternity. He lived this foreignness of the Christian. He had become a foreigner in Evangelical theology and remained a foreigner also in Catholic theology, as it was then.

Today we know that he belongs to both, that both must learn from him all the drama, the realism, and the existential and human need of theology. Erik Peterson, as Cardinal Lehmann affirmed, was certainly appreciated and loved by many, an author recommended in a restricted circle, but he did not receive the scientific recognition that he deserved; it would have been, in some way, too soon. As I have said, Cardinal Lehmann cannot be sufficiently praised for having taken the initiative to publish Peterson's works in a magnificent complete edition, and Mrs. Nichtweib, to whom he has entrusted this task, which she carries out with admirable competence. So the attention given to him through this edition is more than just, considering that now several works have been translated into Italian, French, Spanish, English, Hungarian and even Chinese. I hope that with this, Peterson's thought will be diffused further, which does not stop at details, but always has a vision of the whole of theology.

My heartfelt thanks to all those present for having come. My particular gratitude to the organizers of this symposium, especially Cardinal Farina, the patron of this event, and Dr. Giancarlo Caronello. My heartfelt best wishes for an interesting and stimulating discussion in the spirit of Erik Peterson. I expect abundant fruits from this congress, and I impart to all of you and all those you bear in your heart the Apostolic Blessing.


Pope's Message for World Migrant and Refugee Day
Theme for the Day: "One Human Family"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2010 - Here is Benedict XVI's message for the 97th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which will be observed next Jan. 16. The Pope chose as the theme for the day: "One Human Family."

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The World Day of Migrants and Refugees offers the whole Church an opportunity to reflect on a theme linked to the growing phenomenon of migration, to pray that hearts may open to Christian welcome and to the effort to increase in the world justice and charity, pillars on which to build an authentic and lasting peace. "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34), is the invitation that the Lord forcefully addresses to us and renews us constantly: if the Father calls us to be beloved children in his dearly beloved Son, he also calls us to recognize each other as brothers and sisters in Christ.

This profound link between all human beings is the origin of the theme that I have chosen for our reflection this year: "One human family", one family of brothers and sisters in societies that are becoming ever more multiethnic and intercultural, where also people of various religions are urged to take part in dialogue, so that a serene and fruitful coexistence with respect for legitimate differences may be found. The Second Vatican Council affirms that "All peoples are one community and have one origin, because God caused the whole human race to dwell on the face of the earth (cf. Acts 17:26); they also have one final end, God" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2008, 1). "His providence, His manifestations of goodness, His saving design extend to all men" (Declaration Nostra aetate, 1). Thus, "We do not live alongside one another purely by chance; all of us are progressing along a common path as men and women, and thus as brothers and sisters" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 2008, 6).

The road is the same, that of life, but the situations that we pass through on this route are different: many people have to face the difficult experience of migration in its various forms: internal or international, permanent or seasonal, economic or political, voluntary or forced. In various cases the departure from their Country is motivated by different forms of persecution, so that escape becomes necessary. Moreover, the phenomenon of globalization itself, characteristic of our epoch, is not only a social and economic process, but also entails "humanity itself [that] is becoming increasingly interconnected", crossing geographical and cultural boundaries. In this regard, the Church does not cease to recall that the deep sense of this epochal process and its fundamental ethical criterion are given by the unity of the human family and its development towards what is good (cf. Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 42). All, therefore, belong to one family, migrants and the local populations that welcome them, and all have the same right to enjoy the goods of the earth whose destination is universal, as the social doctrine of the Church teaches. It is here that solidarity and sharing are founded.

"In an increasingly globalized society, the common good and the effort to obtain it cannot fail to assume the dimensions of the whole human family, that is to say, the community of peoples and nations, in such a way as to shape the earthly city in unity and peace, rendering it to some degree an anticipation and a prefiguration of the undivided city of God" (Benedict XVI, Encyclical Caritas in veritate, 7). This is also the perspective with which to look at the reality of migration. In fact, as the Servant of God Paul VI formerly noted, "the weakening of brotherly ties between individuals and nations" (Encyclical Populorum progressio, 66), is a profound cause of underdevelopment and -- we may add -- has a major impact on the migration phenomenon. Human brotherhood is the, at times surprising, experience of a relationship that unites, of a profound bond with the other, different from me, based on the simple fact of being human beings. Assumed and lived responsibly, it fosters a life of communion and sharing with all and in particular with migrants; it supports the gift of self to others, for their good, for the good of all, in the local, national and world political communities.

Venerable John Paul II, on the occasion of this same Day celebrated in 2001, emphasized that "[the universal common good] includes the whole family of peoples, beyond every nationalistic egoism. The right to emigrate must be considered in this context. The Church recognizes this right in every human person, in its dual aspect of the possibility to leave one's country and the possibility to enter another country to look for better conditions of life" (Message for World Day of Migration 2001, 3; cf. John XXIII, Encyclical Mater et Magistra, 30; Paul VI, Encyclical Octogesima adveniens, 17). At the same time, States have the right to regulate migration flows and to defend their own frontiers, always guaranteeing the respect due to the dignity of each and every human person. Immigrants, moreover, have the duty to integrate into the host Country, respecting its laws and its national identity. "The challenge is to combine the welcome due to every human being, especially when in need, with a reckoning of what is necessary for both the local inhabitants and the new arrivals to live a dignified and peaceful life" (World Day of Peace 2001, 13).

In this context, the presence of the Church, as the People of God journeying through history among all the other peoples, is a source of trust and hope. Indeed the Church is "in Christ like a sacrament or as a sign and instrument both of a very closely knit union with God and of the unity of the whole human race" (Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Lumen gentium, 1); and through the action within her of the Holy Spirit, "the effort to establish a universal brotherhood is not a hopeless one" (Idem, Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 38). It is the Holy Eucharist in particular that constitutes, in the heart of the Church, an inexhaustible source of communion for the whole of humanity. It is thanks to this that the People of God includes "every nation, race, people, and tongue" (Rev 7:9), not with a sort of sacred power but with the superior service of charity. In fact the exercise of charity, especially for the poorest and weakest, is the criterion that proves the authenticity of the Eucharistic celebration (cf. John Paul II, Apostolic Letter Mane nobiscum Domine, 28).

The situation of refugees and of the other forced migrants, who are an important part of the migration phenomenon, should be specifically considered in the light of the theme "One human family". For these people who flee from violence and persecution the International Community has taken on precise commitments. Respect of their rights, as well as the legitimate concern for security and social coherence, foster a stable and harmonious coexistence.

Also in the case of those who are forced to migrate, solidarity is nourished by the "reserve" of love that is born from considering ourselves a single human family and, for the Catholic faithful, members of the Mystical Body of Christ: in fact we find ourselves depending on each other, all responsible for our brothers and sisters in humanity and, for those who believe, in the faith. As I have already had the opportunity to say, "Welcoming refugees and giving them hospitality is for everyone an imperative gesture of human solidarity, so that they may not feel isolated because of intolerance and disinterest" (General Audience, 20 June 2007: Insegnamenti II, 1 [2007], 1158). This means that those who are forced to leave their homes or their country will be helped to find a place where they may live in peace and safety, where they may work and take on the rights and duties that exist in the Country that welcomes them, contributing to the common good and without forgetting the religious dimension of life.

Lastly, I would like to address a special thought, again accompanied by prayer, to the foreign and international students who are also a growing reality within the great migration phenomenon. This, as well, is a socially important category with a view to their return, as future leaders, to their Countries of origin. They constitute cultural and economic "bridges" between these Countries and the host Countries, and all this goes precisely in the direction of forming "one human family". This is the conviction that must support the commitment to foreign students and must accompany attention to their practical problems, such as financial difficulties or the hardship of feeling alone in facing a very different social and university context, as well as the difficulties of integration. In this regard, I would like to recall that "to belong to a university community is to stand at the crossroads of the cultures that have formed the modern world" (John Paul II, To the Bishops of the United States of America of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Chicago, Indianapolis and Milwaukee on their ad limina visit, 30 May 1998, 6: Insegnamenti XXI, 1 [1998] 1116). At school and at university the culture of the new generations is formed: their capacity to see humanity as a family called to be united in diversity largely depends on these institutions.

Dear brothers and sisters, the world of migrants is vast and diversified. It knows wonderful and promising experiences, as well as, unfortunately, so many others that are tragic and unworthy of the human being and of societies that claim to be civil. For the Church this reality constitutes an eloquent sign of our times which further highlights humanity's vocation to form one family, and, at the same time, the difficulties which, instead of uniting it, divide it and tear it apart. Let us not lose hope and let us together pray God, the Father of all, to help us -- each in the first person -- to be men and women capable of brotherly relationships and, at the social, political and institutional levels, so that understanding and reciprocal esteem among peoples and cultures may increase. With these hopes, as I invoke the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Stella Maris, I cordially impart the Apostolic Blessing to all and, especially, to migrants and refugees and to everyone who works in this important field.

From Castel Gandolfo, 27 September 2010


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pontiff's Message for World Food Day
"Everyone Needs to Make a Commitment to ... the Agricultural Sector"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 15, 2010 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), on the oaccasion of World Food Day, which will be observed Saturday. The letter was published today by the Vatican press office.

* * *

1. The annual celebration of World Food Day is an occasion to draw up a balance-sheet of all that has been achieved through the commitment of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to guarantee daily food for millions of our brothers and sisters throughout the world. It also provides a suitable occasion to note the difficulties that are encountered when the necessary attitudes of solidarity are lacking.

Too often, attention is diverted from the needs of populations, insufficient emphasis is placed on work in the fields, and the goods of the earth are not given adequate protection. As a result, economic imbalance is produced, and the inalienable rights and dignity of every human person are ignored.

The theme of this year’s World Food Day, United against Hunger, is a timely reminder that everyone needs to make a commitment to give the agricultural sector its proper importance. Everyone – from individuals to the organizations of civil society, States and international institutions – needs to give priority to one of the most urgent goals for the human family: freedom from hunger. In order to achieve freedom from hunger it is necessary to ensure not only that enough food is available, but also that everyone has daily access to it: this means promoting whatever resources and infrastructures are necessary in order to sustain production and distribution on a scale sufficient to guarantee fully the right to food.

The efforts to achieve this goal will surely help to build up the unity of the human family throughout the world. Concrete initiatives are needed, informed by charity, and inspired by truth – initiatives that are capable of overcoming natural obstacles linked to the cycles of the seasons or to environmental conditions, as well as man-made obstacles. Charity, practised in the light of truth, can bring an end to divisions and conflicts so as to allow the goods of the earth to pass between peoples in a lively and continuous exchange.

An important step forward was the international community’s recent decision to protect the right to water which, as FAO has always maintained, is essential to human nutrition, to rural activities and to the conservation of nature. Indeed, as my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II observed in his Message for the 2002 World Food Day, many different religions and cultures recognize a symbolic value in water, from which there "springs an invitation to be fully aware of the importance of this precious commodity, and consequently to revise present patterns of behaviour in order to guarantee, today and in the future, that all people shall have access to the water indispensable for their needs, and that productive activities, and agriculture in particular, shall enjoy adequate levels of this priceless resource" (Message for the 2002 World Food Day, 13 October 2002).

2. If the international community is to be truly "united" against hunger, then poverty must be overcome through authentic human development, based on the idea of the person as a unity of body, soul and spirit. Today, though, there is a tendency to limit the vision of development to one that satisfies the material needs of the person, especially through access to technology; yet authentic development is not simply a function of what a person "has", it must also embrace higher values of fraternity, solidarity and the common good.

Amid the pressures of globalization, under the influence of interests that often remain fragmented, it is wise to propose a model of development built on fraternity: if it is inspired by solidarity and directed towards the common good, it will be able to provide correctives to the current global crisis. In order to sustain levels of food security in the short term, adequate funding must be provided so as to make it possible for agriculture to reactivate production cycles, despite the deterioration of climatic and environmental conditions. These conditions, it must be said, have a markedly negative impact on rural populations, crop systems and working patterns, especially in countries that are already afflicted with food shortages. Developed countries have to be aware that the world’s growing needs require consistent levels of aid from them. They cannot simply remain closed towards others: such an attitude would not help to resolve the crisis.

In this context, FAO has the essential task of examining the issue of world hunger at the institutional level and proposing particular initiatives that involve its member States in responding to the growing demand for food. Indeed, the nations of the world are called to give and to receive in proportion to their effective needs, by reason of that "pressing moral need for renewed solidarity, especially in relationships between developing countries and those that are highly industrialized" (Caritas in Veritate, 49).

3. The recent worthy campaign "1 Billion Hungry", by which FAO seeks to raise awareness of the urgency of the fight against hunger, has highlighted the need for an adequate response both from individual countries and from the international community, even when the response is limited to assistance or emergency aid. This is why a reform of international institutions according to the principle of subsidiarity is essential, since "institutions by themselves are not enough, because integral human development is primarily a vocation, and therefore it involves a free assumption of responsibility in solidarity on the part of everyone" (ibid., 11).

In order to eliminate hunger and malnutrition, obstacles of self-interest must be overcome so as to make room for a fruitful gratuitousness, manifested in international cooperation as an expression of genuine fraternity. This does not obviate the need for justice, though, and it is important that existing rules be respected and implemented, in addition to whatever plans for intervention and programmes of action may prove necessary. Individuals, peoples and countries must be allowed to shape their own development, taking advantage of external assistance in accordance with priorities and concepts rooted in their traditional techniques, in their culture, in their religious patrimony and in the wisdom passed on from generation to generation within the family.

Invoking the blessing of the Almighty upon the activities of FAO, I wish to assure you, Mr Director General, that the Church is always ready to work for the defeat of hunger. Indeed, she is constantly at work, through her own structures, to alleviate the poverty and deprivation afflicting large parts of the world’s population, and she is fully conscious that her own engagement in this field forms part of a common international effort to promote unity and peace among the community of peoples.

From the Vatican, 15 October 2010



Benedict XVI's Message to Italy's Social Week
"Pursue Together the Good of the Country and of the Whole Human Family"

REGGIO CALABRIA, Italy, OCT. 14, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, for the opening day of the 46th Italian Catholic Social Week, which is being held through Sunday in Reggio Calabria.

The message was read today by Archbishop Giuseppe Bertello, the apostolic nuncio to Italy. The theme of the meeting is: “Catholics in Italy today. An Agenda of Hope for the Future of the Country.”

* * *

To the Venerable Brother
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco,
President of the Italian Episcopal Conference

My first thought, in addressing you and the those gathered in Reggio Calabria on the occasion of the celebration of the 46th Social Week of Italian Catholics, is of profound gratitude for the contribution of reflection and encounter that, in the name of the Church in Italy, you wish to offer the country.

Such a contribution is rendered more precious by the ample preparatory course that in the last two years has involved dioceses, ecclesial groups and academic centers: the initiatives carried out in view of this event evidence the widespread willingness within Christian communities to recognize themselves "Catholics in Italy today," cultivating the objective of "an agenda of hope for the future of the country," as the theme states of the present Social Week.

All this takes on largely significant importance in the socio-economic juncture that we are experiencing. At the national level, the most obvious consequence of the recent global financial crisis lies in the spread of unemployment and of precariousness, which often impedes young people -- especially in the areas of the "Mezzogiorno" [southern Italy] -- of living in their own territory, as protagonists of development. For everyone, therefore, such difficulties constitute an obstacle on the path to realize their own ideals of life, favoring the temptation of withdrawal or disorientation. Mistrust is easily transformed into resignation, diffidence, disaffection and disengagement, to the detriment of the legitimate investment in the future.

Well looked at, the problem is not only economic, but above all cultural, and finds confirmation, in particular, in the demographic crisis, in the difficulty to appreciate fully the role of women, in the effort of so many adults in conceiving and placing themselves as educators. All the more reason why there is a need to recognize and support forcefully and actively the irreplaceable social function of the family, heart of affective and relational life, as well as the place that assures more and better than all help, care, solidarity, capacity to transmit the patrimony of values to the new generations. Because of this it is necessary that all the institutional and social subjects commit themselves to ensure that the family has effective measures of support, equipping it with adequate resources and allowing for a just conciliation with the times of work.

Catholics are not lacking in awareness of the fact that such expectations must be placed today within the complex and delicate transformations that concern the whole of humanity. As I had the opportunity to highlight in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," "The risk for our time is that the de facto interdependence of people and nations is not matched by ethical interaction of consciences and minds " (No. 9). This calls for "a clear vision of all economic, social, cultural and spiritual aspects" (ibid., No. 31) of development.

To address the present problems, protecting at the same time human life from conception to its natural end, defending the dignity of the person, safeguarding the environment and promoting peace, is not an easy task, but much less so is it impossible, if one is firm in trusting the capacity of man, if one stretches the concept of reason and of its use and each one assumes his own responsibilities. In fact, it would be illusory to delegate the search for solutions strictly to the public authorities: political subjects, the world of business, labor organizations, social operators and all citizens, as individuals and in an associated way, are called to develop a strong capacity to analyze, to be farsighted and to participate.

To move according to a perspective of responsibility entails the willingness to come out of the exclusive search for one's own interests, to pursue together the good of the country and of the whole human family. When the Church recalls the horizon of the common good -- category bearing her social doctrine -- she intends, in fact, to refer to the "good of all of us," which "It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it" (ibid., No. 7). In other words, the common good is that which builds and describes the city of men, the fundamental criterion of social and political life, the end of human action and of progress; it is a "requirement of justice and charity" (ibid.), promotion of respect of the rights of individuals and peoples, as well as of relations characterized by the logic of gift. This finds in the values of Christianity "not merely useful but essential for building a good society and for true integral human development" (ibid., No. 4).

For this reason, I renew the appeal so that a new generation of Catholics will arise, persons interiorly renewed that commit themselves to political activity without inferiority complexes. Such a presence, certainly, is not improvised; it remains, rather, the objective to which a path should tend of intellectual and moral formation that, beginning from the great truths about God, man and the world, offers criteria of judgment and ethical principles to interpret the good of each and all. For the Church in Italy, which opportunely assumed the educational challenge as a priority in the present decade, it is a question of devoting itself to the formation of mature Christian consciences, which are alien to egoism, to greed for goods and to the desire for a career and, instead, are consistent with the professed faith, acquainted with the cultural and social dynamics of this time and capable of assuming public responsibility with professional competence and a spirit of service. The socio-political endeavor, with the spiritual resources and the attitudes it requires, remains a lofty vocation, to which the Church invites to respond with humility and determination.

The Social Week you are celebrating intends to propose "an agenda of hope for the future of the country." Undoubtedly, it is about an innovative method of work, which assumes as its starting point actual experiences, to recognize and appreciate the cultural, spiritual and moral potentialities inscribed in our time, though very complex. One area for further reflection is the migratory phenomenon and, in particular, the search for strategies and rules that favor the inclusion of the new presences. It is significant that, exactly 50 years ago and in the same city, a Social Week was dedicated entirely to the topic of migrations, especially to those that now are taking place inside the country. In our days, the phenomenon has assumed imposing proportions: having surmounted the emergency phase, in which the Church spent herself generously for the first reception, it is necessary to pass to a second phase, which identifies, in full respect of the law, the terms of integration.

Believers, as well as all men of good will, are requested to do everything possible to reveal the situations of injustice, misery and conflict that oblige so many men to undertake the path of exodus, promoting at the same time the conditions of insertion in our lands of all those who intend, with their work and the patrimony of their traditions, to contribute to the building of a better society than the one they left. In recognizing the role of immigrants, we feel called to present the Gospel to them, proclamation of salvation and of full life for every man and woman.

However, the hope with which you intend to build the future of the country is not resolved in the pure legitimate aspiration of a better future. Born, rather, from the conviction that history is guided by Divine Providence and tends to a dawn that transcends the horizons of human action. This "reliable hope" has the face of Christ: in the Word of God made man each one finds the courage to witness and abnegation in service. Not lacking certainly, is the wonderful trail of light that distinguishes the experience of faith of the Italian people, in the glorious track of so many men and women saints -- priests, consecrated persons and laymen -- who were consumed for the good of brethren and committed themselves in the social field to promote more just and equitable conditions for all, in the first place for the poor.

In this perspective, while I wish you profitable days of work and encounter, I encourage you to feel the loftiness of the challenge placed before you: the Catholic Church has a legacy of values that are not things of the past, but constitute a very living and timely reality, capable of offering a creative guideline for the future of a nation.

On the eve of the 150th anniversary of National Unity, from Reggio Calabria might emerge a common feeling, fruit of a credible interpretation of the situation of the country; a purposeful wisdom, which is the result of a cultural and ethical discernment, constitutive condition of political and economic choices. From this depends the re-launching of civil dynamism, for the future that will be -- for all -- the sign of the common good.

To the participants in the 46th Social Week of Italian Catholics I wish to assure my remembrance in prayer, which I accompany with a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, October 12, 2010

Benedict XVI



Papal Homily for Mideast Synod Inauguration
"The Life of Communion Is Truly the Great Witness"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily given today by Benedict XVI at a Mass for the inauguration of the Special Assembly for the Middle East of the Synod of Bishops, which will take place through Oct. 24.

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Venerable Brothers,
Illustrious Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!

The Eucharistic celebration, the rendering of thanks to God par excellence, is marked for us today, gathered around the Tomb of Saint Peter, by an extraordinary reason: the grace of seeing gathered together for the first time at a Synod, around the Bishop of Rome and the Universal Shepherd, the bishops of the Middle Eastern region. Such a singular event demonstrates the interest of the whole Church for that precious and beloved part of God's people who live in the Holy Land and the whole of the Middle East.

Above all, we give thanks to the Lord of history, because he has allowed, despite the often difficult and tormented events, the Middle East to see, from the time of Jesus all the way up to today, a continuity in the presence of Christians. In those lands, the one Church of Christ is expressed in the variety of liturgical, spiritual, cultural and teaching traditions of the six Venerable Eastern Catholic Churches sui iuris, as well as in the Latin tradition. This fraternal greeting which I direct with great affection to the Patriarchs of each of these wishes to be extended at this time to all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care in their respective countries as well as in the Diaspora. On this Sunday, the 28th of Ordinary Time, the Word of God offers a theme for meditation which brings us closer in a meaningful way to the event of the Synod that we open today. Continued reading of the Gospel of Luke leads us to the story of the healing of the ten lepers, of whom only one, a Samaritan, turns back to thank Jesus. Connected with this text, the first reading, from the Second Book of Kings, tells the story of the healing of Naaman, head of the Aramaean army, another leper, who was cured by immersing himself seven times in the waters of the Jordan River, on the orders of the prophet Eliseus. Naaman too returns to the prophet and, recognizing him as the mediator of God, professes his faith in the one Lord. So two lepers, two non-Jews, who are cured because they believe in the word of God's messenger. Their bodies are healed, but they are open to faith, and this heals their souls, that is, it saves them.

The Responsorial Psalm sings of this reality: "Yahweh has made known his saving power,/ revealed his saving justice for the nations to see. /Mindful of his faithful love and his constancy to the House of Israel" (Ps 98:2-3). This then is the theme: salvation is universal, but it passes through a specific historical mediation: the mediation of the people of Israel, which goes on to become that of Jesus Christ and the Church. The door of life is open for everyone, but this is the point, it is a "door", that is a definite and necessary passage. This is summed up in the Pauline formula we heard in the Second Letter to Timothy: "the salvation that is in Christ Jesus" (2 Tim 2:10). It is the mystery of the universality of Salvation and at the same time of its necessary link with the historical mediation of Christ Jesus, preceded by that of the people of Israel and continued by that of the Church. God is love and wants all men to be part of His life; to carry out this plan He, who is One and Trine, creates in the world a mystery of a communion that is human and divine, historical and transcendent: He creates it with the "method" - so to speak - of the covenant, tying himself to men with faithful and inexhaustible love, forming a holy people, that becomes a blessing for all the families of the earth (cf Gen 12:13). Thus He reveals Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (cf Ex 3:6), who wants to lead his people to the "land" of freedom and peace. This "land" is not of this world; the whole of the divine plan goes beyond history, but the Lord wants to build it with men, for men and in men, beginning with the coordinates of space and time in which they live and which He Himself gave them.

With its own specificity, that which we call the "Middle East", makes up part of those coordinates. God sees this region of the world, too, from a different perspective, one might say, "from on high": it is the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the land of the Exodus and the return from exile; the land of the Temple and of the Prophets, the land in which the Only Begotten Son of Mary was born, lived, died, and rose from the dead; the cradle of the Church, established in order to carry Christ's Gospel to the ends of the earth. And we too, as believers, look at the Middle East with this view, from the perspective of the history of salvation. It is this internal point of view which guided me during Apostolic visits to Turkey, the Holy Land-Jordan, Israel, Palestine-and Cyprus, where I was able to experience firsthand the joys and concerns of the Christian communities. It was for this reason, too, that I willingly accepted the proposal of the Patriarchs and Bishops to convoke a Synodal Assembly to reflect together, in light of Sacred Scripture and Church traditions, on the present as well as the future of the faithful and populations of the Middle East.

Looking at that part of the world from God's perspective means recognizing in it the "cradle" of a universal design of salvation in love, a mystery of communion which becomes true in freedom and thus asks man for a response. Abraham, the prophets, and the Virgin Mary are the protagonists of this response which, however, has its completion in Jesus Christ, son of that same land, yet descended from Heaven. From Him, from his Heart and his Spirit was born the Church, which is a pilgrim in this world, yet belongs to Him. The Church was established to be a sign and an instrument of the unique and universal saving project of God among men; She fulfils this mission simply by being herself, that is, "Communion and witness", as it says in the theme of this Synodal Assembly which opens today, referring to Luke's famous definition of the first Christian community: "The whole group of believers was united, heart and soul" (Acts 4:32). Without communion there can be no witness: the life of communion is truly the great witness. Jesus said it clearly: "It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples" (Jn 13:35). This communion is the same life of God which is communicated in the Holy Spirit, through Jesus Christ. It is thus a gift, not something which we ourselves must build through our own efforts. And it is precisely because of this that it calls upon our freedom and waits for our response: communion always requires conversion, just as a gift is better if it is welcomed and utilized. In Jerusalem the first Christians were few. Nobody could have imagined what was going to take place. And the Church continues to live on that same strength which enabled it to begin and to grow. Pentecost is the original event but also a permanent dynamism, and the Synod of Bishops is a privileged moment in which the grace of Pentecost may be renewed in the Church's journey, so that the Good News may be announced openly and heard by all peoples.

Therefore, the reason for this synodal assembly is mainly a pastoral one. While not being able to ignore the delicate and at times dramatic social and political situation of some countries, the Pastors of the Middle Eastern Churches wish to concentrate on the aspects of their own mission. As regards this, the Instrumentum laboris, elaborated by a Presynodal Council whose members we thank for their work, underlined these ecclesial finalities of the Assembly, pointing out that, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, it wishes to re-enliven communion of the Catholic Church in the Middle East. First of all within each Church, between all its members: Patriarch, Bishop, priests, religious persons, persons of consecrated life and the laity. And, thereby, in the relationships with the other Churches. Ecclesial life, corroborated in this way, will see the development of very positive fruits in the ecumenical path with the other Churches and ecclesial Communities present in the Middle East. This occasion is also propitious to constructively continue the dialogue with Jews, to whom we are tied by an indissoluble bond, the lengthy history of the Covenant, as we are with the Muslims. Also, the workings of the Synodal assembly are oriented to the witness of Christians on a personal, family and social level. This requires the reinforcing of their Christian identity through the Word of God and the Sacraments. We all hope that the faithful feel the joy in living in the Holy Land, a land blessed by the presence and by the Paschal Mystery of the Lord Jesus Christ. Over the centuries those Places attracted multitudes of pilgrims and even men and women in religious communities, who have considered it a great privilege to be able to live and bear witness in the land of Jesus. Despite the difficulties, the Christians in the Holy Land are called to enliven their consciousness of being the living stones of the Church in the Middle East, at the holy Places of our salvation. However, living in a dignified manner in one's own country is above all a fundamental human right: therefore, the conditions of peace and justice, which are necessary for the harmonious development of all those living in the region, should be promoted. Therefore all are called to give their personal contribution: the international community, by supporting a stable path, loyal and constructive, towards peace; those most prevalent religions in the region, in promoting the spiritual and cultural values that unite men and exclude any expression of violence. Christians will continue to contribute not only with the work of social promotion, such as institutes of education and health, but above all with the spirit of the Evangelical Beatitudes, which enliven the practice of forgiveness and reconciliation. In this commitment, they will always have the support of the entire Church, as is solemnly attested by the presence here of the Delegates of the Episcopacies of other continents.

Dear friends, let us entrust the workings of the Synodal Assembly for the Middle East to the many Saints of that blessed land; let us invoke upon it the constant protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, so that the coming days of prayer, of reflection and of fraternal communion may be the harbingers of the good fruits for the present and for the future of the beloved Middle Eastern populations. To them we address a hopeful greeting with all our heart: "Peace to you, peace to your family, peace to all that is yours!" (1 Sam 25:6).

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Reflection on Day 1 of Mideast Synod
"True Wisdom of Simple Faith ... Is the Force of the Church"

ROME, OCT. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Here is the reflection offered today by Benedict XVI at the opening of the first general congregation of the Special Assembly for the Middle East for the Middle East.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

On October 11 1962, 48 years ago, Pope John XXIII inaugurated Vatican Council II. At the time, on October 11, the feast day of the Divine Motherhood of Mary was celebrated and, with this gesture, with this date, Pope John wished to entrust the whole Council into the motherly hands and maternal heart of the Madonna. We too begin on October 11th, we too wish to entrust this Synod, with all its problems, with all its challenges, with all its hopes, to the maternal heart of the Madonna, the Mother of God.

Pius XI, in 1930, introduced this feast day, 1600 years after the Council of Ephesus, which had legitimated, for Mary, the title of Theotokos, Dei Genitrix. With this great word Dei Genitrix, Theotokos, the Council of Ephesus had summarized the entire doctrine of Christ, of Mary, the whole of the doctrine of redemption. So it would be worthwhile to reflect briefly, for a moment, on what was said during the Council of Ephesus, on what this day means.

In reality, Theotokos is a courageous title. A woman is the Mother of God. One could say: how is this possible? God is eternal, he is the Creator. We are creatures, we are in time: how could a human being be the Mother of God, of the Eternal, since we are all in time, we are all creatures? Therefore one can understand that there was some strong opposition, in part, to this term. The Nestorians used to say: one can speak about Christotokos, yes, but Theotokos no: Theos, God, is beyond, beyond the events of history. But the Council decided this, and thus it enlightened the adventure of God, the greatness of what he has done for us. God did not remain in Himself: he went out, He united in such a way, so radically to this man, Jesus, that this man Jesus is God, and if we speak about Him, we can also speak about God. Not only was a man born that had something to do with God, but in Him was born God on earth. God came from himself. But we could also say the opposite: God drew us to Himself, so that we are not outside of God, but we are within the intimate, the intimacy of God Himself.

Aristotelian philosophy, as we well know, tells us that between God and man there is only an unreciprocated relationship. Man refers to God, but God, the Eternal, is in Himself, He does not change: He cannot have this relation today and another relationship tomorrow. He is within Himself, He does not have ad extra relations. It is a very logical term, but it is also a word that makes us despair: so God has no relationship with me. With the incarnation, with the event of the Theotokos, this has been radically changed, because God drew us into Himself and God in Himself is the relationship and allows us to participate in His interior relationship. Thus we are in His being Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we are within His being in relationship, we are in relationship with Him and He truly created the relationship with us. At that moment, God wished to be born from woman and remain Himself: this is the great event. And thus we can understand the depth of the act by Pope John, who entrusted the Council, Synodal Assembly to the central mystery, to the Mother of God who is drawn by the Lord into Himself, and thus all of us with Her.

The Council began with the icon of the Theotokos. At the end, Pope Paul VI recognized the same title of Mater Ecclesiae to the Madonna. And these two icons, which begin and end the Council, are intrinsically linked, and are, in the end, one single icon. Because Christ was not born like any other individual. He was born to create a body for Himself: He was born - as John says in Chapter 12 of his Gospel - to attract all to Him and in Him. He was born - as it says in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians - to summarize the whole world, He was born as the firstborn of many brothers, He was born to unite the cosmos in Him, so that He is the Head of a great Body. Where Christ is born, the movement of summation begins, the moment of the calling begins, of construction of his Body, of the Holy Church. The Mother of Theos, the Mother of God, is the Mother of the Church, because she is the Mother of He who came to unite all in His resurrected Body.

Saint Luke leads us to understand this in the parallel between the first chapter of his book and the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, which repeat the same mystery on two different levels. In the first chapter of the Gospel the Holy Spirit comes upon Mary and thus she gives birth to and gives us the Son of God. In the first chapter of the Acts of the Apostles, Mary is at the center of Jesus' disciples who are praying all together, pleading with the cloud of the Holy Spirit. And thus from the believing Church, with Mary at its heart, is born the Church, the Body of Christ. This dual birth is the only birth of the Christus totus, of the Christ who embraces the world and all of us.

Birth in Bethlehem, birth at the Last Supper. Birth of the Infant Jesus, birth of the Body of Christ, of the Church. These are two events or just one event. But between the two lie truly the Cross and the Resurrection. And only through the Cross comes the path towards the totality of Christ, towards His resurrected Body, towards the universalization of His being in the unity of the Church. And thus, bearing in mind that only from the wheat fallen to earth can a great harvest be reaped, from the Lord pierced on the Cross comes the universality of His disciples reunited in this His Body, dead and risen.

Keeping this connection between Theotokos and Mater ecclesiae in mind, we turn our attention to the last book of the Holy Scripture, Revelation, where, in chapter 12, we can find this synthesis. The woman clothed with thesun, with twelve stars over her head and the moon at her feet, gives birth. And gives birth with a cry of pain, gives birth with great suffering. Here the Marian mystery is the mystery of Bethlehem extended to the cosmic mystery. Christ is always reborn in all generations and thus takes on, gathers humanity within Himself. And this cosmic birth is achieved in the cry of the Cross, in the suffering of the Passion. And the blood of martyrs belongs to this cry of the Cross.

So, at this moment, we can look at the second psalm of this Hour, Psalm 81, where we can see part of this process. God is among gods - they are still considered as gods in Israel. In this Psalm, in a great concentration, in a prophetic vision, we can see the power taken from the gods. Those who seemed to be gods are not gods and lose their divine characteristics, and fall to earth. Dii estis et moriemini sicut nomine (cf. Psa 81:6-7): the wresting of power, the fall of the divinities.

This process that is achieved along the path of faith of Israel, and which here is summarized in one vision, is the true process of the history of religion: the fall of the gods. And thus the transformation of the world, the knowledge of the true God, the loss of power by the forces that dominate the world, is a process of suffering. In the history of Israel we can see how this liberation from polytheism, this recognition - "Only He is God" - is achieved with great pain, beginning with the path of Abraham, the exile, the Maccabeans, up to Christ. And this process of loss of power continues throughout history, spoken of in Revelation chapter 12; it mentions the fall of the angels, which are not truly angels, they are not divinities on earth. And is achieved truly, right at the time of the rising Church, where we can see how the blood of the martyrs takes the power away from the divinities, starting with the divine emperor, from all these divinities. It is the blood of the martyrs, the suffering, the cry of the Mother Church that makes them fall and thus transforms the world.

This fall is not only the knowledge that they are not God; it is the process of transformation of the world, which costs blood, costs the suffering of the witnesses of Christ. And, if we look closely, we can see that this process never ends. It is achieved in various periods of history in ever new ways; even today, at this moment, in which Christ, the only Son of God, must be born for the world with the fall of the gods, with pain, the martyrdom of witnesses. Let us remember all the great powers of today's history, let us remember the anonymous capital that enslaves man, which is no longer in man's possession, but is an anonymous power served by men, by which men are tormented and even killed. It is a destructive power, that threatens the world. And then the power of the terroristic ideologies. Violent acts are apparently made in the name of God, but this is not God: they are false divinities that must be unmasked; they are not God. And then drugs, this power that, like a voracious beast, extends its claws to all parts of the world and destroys it: it is a divinity, but it is a false divinity that must fall. Or even the way of living proclaimed by public opinion: today we must do things like this, marriage no longer counts, chastity is no longer a virtue, and so on.

These ideologies that dominate, that impose themselves forcefully, are divinities. And in the pain of the Saints, in the suffering of believers, of the Mother Church which we are a part of, these divinities must fall, what is said in the Letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians must be done: the dominations, the powers fall and become subjects of the one Lord Jesus Christ. On this battle we find ourselves in, of this taking power away from God, of this fall of false gods, that fall because they are not deities, but powers that can destroy the world, chapter 12 of Revelations mentions these, even if with a mysterious image, for which, I believe, there are many different and beautiful interpretations. It has been said that the dragon places a large river of water before the fleeing woman to overcome her. And it would seem inevitable that the woman will drown in this river. But the good earth absorbs this river and it cannot be harmful. I think that the river is easily interpreted: these are the currents that dominate all and wish to make faith in the Church disappear, the Church that does not have a place anymore in front of the force of these currents that impose themselves as the only rationality, as the only way to live. And the earth that absorbs these currents is the faith of the simple at heart, that does not allow itself to be overcome by these rivers and saves the Mother and saves the Son. This is why the Psalm says - the first psalm of the Hour - the faith of the simple at heart is the true wisdom (cf Psa. 118:130). This true wisdom of simple faith, that does not allow itself to be swamped by the waters, is the force of the Church. And we have returned to the Marian mystery.

And there is also a final word in Psalm 81, "movebuntur omnia fundamenta terrae" (Psa 81:5), the foundations of earth are shaken. We see this today, with the climatic problems, how the foundations of the earth are shaken, how they are threatened by our behavior. The external foundations are shaken because the internal foundations are shaken, the moral and religious foundations, the faith that follows the right way of living. And we know that faith is the foundation, and, undoubtedly, the foundations of the earth cannot be shaken if they remain close to the faith, to true wisdom.

And then the Psalm says: "Arise, God, judge the world" (Psa 81:8). Thus we also say to the Lord: "Arise at this moment, take the world in your hands, protect your Church, protect humanity, protect the earth". And we once again entrust ourselves to the Mother of God, to Mary, and pray: "You, the great believer, you who have opened the earth to the heavens, help us, open the doors today as well, that truth might win, the will of God, which is the true good, the true salvation of the world". Amen

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address on Anniversary of Eastern Canon Law
Canon Law "Will Not Fail to Contribute to the Life and the Mission of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2010 - Here is a translation of an address given Saturday by Benedict XVI upon receiving in audience participants in a congress marking the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the Code of Canons of Eastern Churches.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerable Patriarchs,
Major Archbishops,
Dear Brothers in the episcopate and priesthood,
Illustrious Representatives of other ecclesial churches and communities,
Esteemed Practitioners of Eastern Canon Law,

With great joy I receive you at the conclusion of the scholarly proceedings, which were convened to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the promulgation of the "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium." I cordially greet all of you, beginning with Monsignor Francesco Coccopalmerio, whom I thank for the words he addressed to me also on behalf of those present. I thank the Congregation for Eastern Churches, the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Pontifical Oriental Institute, who worked together with the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts in organizing this conference. I would like to express my cordial appreciation to the speakers for the competent scientific contribution to this ecclesial initiative.

20 years after the promulgation of "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium" we would like to pay homage to the intuition of John Paul II, whom, in his concern that the Eastern Catholic Churches "flourish and carry out the mission entrusted to them with new apostolic vigor" (Vatican Council II, "Orientalium Ecclesiarum," 1) wanted to grant these venerable Churches a complete universal Code adapted to the times. In this way there was fulfilled "the same constant will of the Roman pontiffs to promulgate two Codes, one for the Latin Church and the other for the Eastern Catholic Churches" (Apostolic Constitution "Sacri canones"). At the same time there was reaffirmed the "very clear, constant, and firm intention of the supreme legislator in the Church in regard to the faithful safeguarding and diligent observance of all the rites" (ibid.).

The "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium" was followed by two other important documents of the magisterium of John Paul II: the encyclical letter "Ut unum sint" (1995) and the apostolic letter "Orientale Lumen" (1995). Furthermore, we cannot forget the "Directory for the Application of Principles and Norms on Ecumenism" published by the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (1993) and the instruction of the Congregation for Eastern Churches about the application of the liturgical prescriptions of the Code (1996). In these authoritative documents of the magisterium various canons of the "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium," just as the "Codex Iuris Canonici," are textually cited, commented on and applied to the life of the Church.

This 20th anniversary is not only a celebratory event to preserve it in memory, but rather provides an occasion for confirmation to which above all the "sui iuris" Eastern Catholic Churches and their institutions, especially the hierarchies, are called. In this regard the apostolic constitution "Sacri canones" already foresees the context of verification. It is a question of seeing in what measure the Code effectively had force of law for all the "suir iuris" Oriental Churches and also in what measure the legislative authority of each "sui iuris" Church has provided for the promulgation of its own particular law, keeping present the traditions of its right along with the directives of Vatican Council II.

The topics of this conference articulated in three unities -- history, particular legislation, ecumenical perspectives -- indicate a very important "iter" to follow in this verification. It must start from the awareness that the new "Codex Canonum Ecclesiarum Orientalium" has created for the Oriental Catholic faithful a disciplinary situation that is partly new, becoming a valid instrument to protect and promote their rite understood as a "liturgical, theological, spiritual and disciplinary patrimony, distinct by culture and historical circumstances of peoples, that is expressed a way of living of the faith that is proper to each "sui iuris" Church" (can. 28, § 1).

In this way, the "sacra canones" of the ancient Church, that inspire the Oriental codification in force, stimulate all the Oriental Churches to conserve their own identity, which is simultaneously Eastern and Catholic. In preserving the Catholic communion the Eastern Catholic Churches did not at all intend to deny their own tradition. As has been many times repeated, the full union of the Eastern Catholic Churches with the Church of Rome that is already realized must not lead to a diminution of the consciousness of the unique authenticity and originality of those Churches. For this reason it is the task of all the Eastern Catholic Churches to conserve the common disciplinary patrimony and nourish their own traditions, which is a treasure for the whole Church.

The same "sacri canones" of the first centuries of the Church constitute to a large extent the same basic patrimony of canonical discipline that also regulates the Orthodox Churches. Thus the Eastern Catholic Churches can offer a peculiar and relevant contribution to the ecumenical journey. I am happy that in the course of your symposium you have taken account of this particular aspect and I encourage you to make it an object of further study, cooperating thus for your part to the common effort to adhere to the Lord's prayer: "May all be one ... that the world may believe ..." (John 17:21).

Dear friends, in the context of the Church's current effort for a new evangelization, canon law, as the peculiar and indispensable ordering of ecclesial fellowship, will not fail to contribute to the life and the mission of the Church in the world, if all the components of the People of God know how to interpret is wisely and apply it faithfully. Thus, I exhort, as did the venerable John Paul II, all the beloved children of the Eastern Churches "to observe the precepts set down with a sincere heart and a humble will, not in the least doubting that the Eastern Churches will provide in the best way possible for the good of the souls of faithful Christians with renewed discipline, and that they will always flourish and carry out the task entrusted to them under the protection of the glorious and blessed ever Virgin Mary, who in all truth is called 'Theotokos' and who shines as the great mother of the universal Church" ("Sacri canones").

I accompany this wish with the Apostolic Blessing, which I impart to you and to those who make their contribution in the various fields connected with the canon law of the Eastern Churches.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Catholic Press
"New Technologies ... Can Make the True and the False Interchangeable"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 7, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to participants of the World Press Congress, which ended today in Rome. The event was sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

* * *

Esteemed Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers,
Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,

I receive you with joy at the end of the four days of intense work promoted by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications and dedicated to the Catholic press. I cordially greet all of you -- coming from 85 countries -- who work in newspapers, weeklies or in other periodicals and Internet sites. I greet the president of the dicastery, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, whom I thank for giving voice to the sentiments of all, as well as the secretaries, the under-secretary and all the officials and staff. I am happy to be able to address a word of encouragement to you to continue, with renewed motivations, your important and qualified work.

The world of the media is going through a profound transformation also within itself. The development of the new technologies and, in particular, widespread multimedia, seems to call into question the role of the more traditional and consolidated media. Appropriately, your conference pauses to consider the specific role of the Catholic press. A careful reflection on this field, in fact, brings up two particular aspects: on one hand the specificity of the means -- the press, that is, the written word and its timeliness and efficacy, in a society which has seen antennas, satellite dishes and satellites multiply, becoming almost the emblem of a new way of communicating in the era of globalization. And the other point, the connotation "Catholic," with the responsibility that derives from it to be faithful in an explicit and substantial way, through the daily commitment to follow the masterful way of truth.

The search for truth must be pursued by Catholic journalists with a passionate mind and heart, but also with the professionalism of competent staff who are equipped with adequate and effective means. This is even more important in the present historical moment, which asks of the figure itself of the journalist, as mediator of the flow of information, to undertake a profound change. Today, for example, the world of the image with the development of ever new technologies has ever greater weight in communication. But if on one hand this entails undoubtedly positive aspects, on the other hand, the image can also become independent of reality; it can give life to a virtual world, with several consequences, the first of which is the risk of indifference to truth.

In fact, the new technologies, together with the progress they entail, can make the true and the false interchangeable; they can induce one to confuse the real with the virtual. Moreover, the recording of an event, joyful or sad, can be consumed as a spectacle and not as an occasion for reflection. The search for the paths of an authentic promotion of man then takes second place, because the event is presented primarily to arouse emotions. These aspects sound like an alarm bell: They invite consideration of the danger that the virtual draws away from reality and does not stimulate the search for the true, for the truth.

In this context, the Catholic press is called, in a new way, to express to the heights its potential and to give a reason day in and day out for its mission that can never be given up. The Church has a facilitating element, since the Christian faith has in common with communication a fundamental structure: the fact that the means and the message coincide; indeed, the Son of God, the Incarnate Word, is at the same time message of salvation and means through which salvation is realized. And this is not a simple concept, but a reality accessible to all, also those who while living as protagonists in the complexity of the world, are capable of preserving the intellectual honesty proper to the "little ones" of the Gospel. Moreover the Church, Mystical Body of Christ, present at the same time everywhere, nourishes the capacity of more fraternal and more human relations, being a place of communion among believers and, at the same time, a sign and instrument of everyone's vocation to communion. Her strength is Christ, and in his name she "pursues" man on the roads of the world to save him from the "mysterium iniquitatis," insidiously operating in him. The Catholic press evokes more directly, as compared to other means of communication, the value of the written word. The Word of God has come to men and has been given to us also through a book, the Bible. The word continues to be the fundamental instrument and, in a certain sense, the constitutive instrument of communication: It is used today under various forms, and in the so-called civilization of the image it also keeps its entire value.

From these brief considerations, it seems evident that the communicative challenge is, for the Church and for all those who share her mission, very involved. Christians cannot ignore the crisis of faith that has come to society, or simply trust that the patrimony of the values transmitted in the course of past centuries can continue inspiring and shaping the future of the human family. The idea of living "as if God didn't exist" has shown itself to be deadly: The world needs, rather, to live "as if God existed," even if it does not have the strength to believe; otherwise it will only produce an "inhuman humanism."

My very dear brothers and sisters, whoever works in the media, if he does not wish to be "a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal" (1 Corinthians 13:1) -- as Saint Paul would say -- must have well-rooted in himself the underlying option that enables him to deal with the things of the world placing God always at the top of the scale of values. The times we are living through -- despite having a notable positive weight, because the threads of history are in God's hands and his eternal design is ever more revealed -- are also marked by many shadows. Your task, dear members of the Catholic press, is to help contemporary man to orient himself to Christ, only Savior, and to keep burning the flame of hope in the world, to live worthily our today and to build the future appropriately.

Because of this I exhort you to constantly renew your personal choice for Christ, drinking from those spiritual resources that the worldly mentality underestimates, despite the fact they are valuable, more than that, indispensable. Dear friends, I encourage you to continue in your endeavor that is not easy, and I accompany you with my prayer, so that the Holy Spirit will always make it fruitful. My blessing, full of affection and gratitude, which I am pleased to impart, intends to embrace all of you here present and all those who work in the Catholic press worldwide.


Papal Address at Concert in His Honor
"The Masterpiece of the Human Being Is His Every Act of Genuine Love"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Friday during a concert held in his honor in Paul VI Hall.

* * *

Venerable Brothers,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies, Dear Brothers and Sisters,

First of all I would like to address my heartfelt gratitude to ENI [Ente Nazionale Idrocarburi], in the person of the president, professor Roberto Poli, who courteously sponsored this evening. Already some time ago ENI offered to organize a concert to coincide with the restoration project on the lateral facades of St. Peter's Basilica. After carrying out the memorable cleaning of the facade, admired by millions of pilgrims during the Jubilee of 2000, this great subsequent work is fully under way: entering the Vatican by the Arch of Bells or by the Petriano, one is surprised -- on looking at the part that is already finished -- by the appearance of the Travertine [marble], which looks like we've never seen it, soft and velvet-like. This is also a great "orchestral" work, and all those who direct it and carry it out, with mastery and diligence, deserve applause!

Hence ENI thought of a concert -- perhaps to compensate for the noise that these works inevitably cause! Called to this were the Orchestra and Choir of the St. Cecilia National Academy, that is, two institutions that, because of their history, the quality of their art and their typically "Italian" sound, represent Rome and Italy in the global musical scene.

To all the members of the orchestra and the choir I would like to offer my congratulations, with the hope that they will always be able to give life -- as this evening -- to immortal works. In particular, I express my heartfelt appreciation to the director, Neeme Jarvi, to the pianist, Andrea Lucchesini and to the choir master, Ciro Visco. A special greeting also to the group of the poor, helped by the diocesan Caritas, whom I wished to invite to experience with us this moment of joy.

And now a brief reflection on the music we have heard: a Haydn symphony, of the "London" group called "The Surprise," or mit dem Paukenschlag for the characteristic use of the timpani in the second movement; Beethoven's Choral Fantasy, a quite atypical passage as genre in Beethoven's landscape, but which shows in a synthetic way the expressive possibilities of soloist, orchestral and choral music; and placed in the middle, the Cecilia, vergine romana, of Arvo Part. The two works of Haydn and Beethoven have made resound all the richness and power of symphonic music of the Classical and Romantic period: With it human genius competes in creativity with nature, gives life to varied and manifold harmonies, where the human voice also takes part in this language, which is as a reflection of the great cosmic symphony. This form is characteristic above all of the Romantic and late Romantic period, but it goes further, it represents a universal dimension of art, a way of conceiving man and his place in the world.

Part's work on the other hand, though making use of a similar instrument, a symphonic orchestra and a choir, wishes to give voice to another reality, which does not belong to the natural world: It gives voice to the testimony of faith in Christ, which in one word is "martyrdom." It is interesting that this testimony is personified in fact by St. Cecilia: a martyr who is also the patroness of music and of bel canto.

Hence it is necessary to congratulate also the one who planned the program, because joining this work on St. Cecilia to Haydn's and Beethoven's works offers a contrast rich in meaning, which invites us to reflect. The text of the saint's martyrdom and the particular style that interprets it in a musical key, seems to represent the place and task of faith in the universe: In the midst of the vital forces of nature, which are around man and also within him, faith is a different force, which responds to a profound word, "arising from the silence," as St. Ignatius of Antioch would say. The word of faith needs great interior silence, to hear and obey a voice that goes beyond the visible and tangible. This voice also speaks through the phenomena of nature, because it is the power that has created and governs the universe; but to recognize it, a humble and obedient heart is necessary -- as the saint teaches, whose memorial we celebrate today: Saint Thérčse of the Child Jesus. Faith follows this profound voice where art on its own cannot reach: It follows it on the path of witness, of selfless giving of oneself out of love, as Cecilia did. Then the most beautiful work of art, the masterpiece of the human being is his every act of genuine love, from the smallest -- in the daily martyrdom -- to the extreme sacrifice. Here life itself becomes a song: an anticipation of this symphony that we will sing together in Paradise. Thank you again and good evening.


Benedict XVI's Good-Bye to Castel Gandolfo
May St. Vincent de Paul Inspire a "Renewed Commitment of Solidarity"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the farewell address Benedict XVI gave today to civil and religious authorities of Castel Gandolfo, as well as to others who work at the papal summer residence there.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters,

Before leaving Castel Gandolfo at the end of the summer, I am happy to meet with all of you who represent the ecclesial and civil community of this pleasant city that I so love, where Providence grants me every year to spend a peaceful and fruitful stay.

First of all, my fraternal greeting and cordial gratitude go to the bishop of Albano, Marcello Semeraro, a greeting I extend to the whole diocese, which I follow with special affection in prayer in its life of faith and Christian witness. I also greet the parish priest of Castel Gandolfo and the parish community, together with the various men's and women's religious institutes that live and work here to joyfully serve the Gospel and the brethren.

I address a deferent greeting to the Lord Mayor and to the members of the Communal Administration, expressing once again my sincere gratitude for the indispensable contribution they make, each in their own responsibilities, so that Castel Gandolfo can adequately receive the numerous pilgrims who come here from all parts of the world. Through you, I wish to communicate to your fellow citizens my heartfelt appreciation for the well-known courtesy and solicitous attention with which they surround me and follow my activities at the service of the universal Church.

I would also like to cordially thank the directors and all the members of the Services of the Governorate, beginning with the police corps, the florists, the health department and technical services, as well as the Swiss Papal Guard. Dear friends, I express to all of you a special "thanks" for the solicitude and professionalism with which you worked to meet my needs, those of my collaborators, and those of all who, during these summer months, have come to Castello to visit me. I assure each one of you and your families of my constant remembrance in prayer.

A heartfelt thought of gratitude also goes to the employees and agents of the different Italian security forces, for their reliable and efficient work, as well as the officers and pilots of the 31st Squadron of Military Aeronautics. I thank God and I am grateful to all of you, because everything was carried out always in order and tranquility.

In taking leave of you, I wish to entrust to your consideration the figure of St. Vincent de Paul, whose memorial we celebrate today. This apostle of charity, so loved by the Christian people and known especially through the sisters founded by him, was proclaimed by Pope Leo XIII "universal patron of all works of charity spread throughout the world." With his incessant apostolic action, he made the Gospel become increasingly a luminous beacon of hope and love for the men of his time and, in particular, for the poorest in body and spirit. May his virtuous example and his intercession inspire in your communities and in each one of you a renewed commitment of solidarity, so that the efforts of each one may cooperate in the building of the common good.

I accompany this cordial greeting with the assurance of my remembrance to the Lord, so that he will assist you all and your families with his grace and fill you with abundant consolations. I thank you again, dear friends, and bless you from my heart.


Papal Message for Pilgrimages and Shrines Conference
"The Eucharist Is Indeed the Pilgrim's Nourishment"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 27, 2010 - Here is a Vatican translation of the message Benedict XVI addressed to the 2nd World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Pilgrimages and Shrines, which began today in Santiago de Compostela, Spain, and will end Thursday.

* * *

To Our Venerable Brothers,
Most Rev. Antonio Maria Vegliň,
President of the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People,
and Most Rev. Julián Barrio Barrio,
Archbishop of Santiago de Compostela,

On the occasion of the Second World Congress on the Pastoral Care of Pilgrimages and Shrines, to be held in Santiago de Compostela from September 27-30, I wish to express my cordial greetings to you which I extend to our venerable Brothers in the Episcopate, the members of the Fraternal Delegation, the participants in this important meeting, and the civil Authorities who collaborated in the preparation of the Congress. I also express my deferential greetings to His Majesty the King of Spain who has honored this initiative by accepting its Honorary Presidency.
With the theme, "So he went in to stay with them" (Lk 24:29), taken from the Gospel passage of the disciples of Emmaus, you are preparing to study in depth the importance of pilgrimages to the shrines as a manifestation of Christian life and a space of evangelization.

With great pleasure I would like to express my spiritual closeness to the congress participants to encourage and accompany them in carrying out a pastoral task of such great importance in ecclesial life. I will personally make a pilgrimage soon to the tomb of the Apostle Saint James, the "Lord's friend", in the same way that I have made my way to other places in the world which many of the faithful visit with fervent devotion. In this regard, from the beginning of my pontificate, I have wanted to live my ministry as the Successor of Peter with the sentiments of a pilgrim who travels over the roads of the world with hope and simplicity bringing on his lips and in his heart the saving message of the Risen Christ, and strengthening his brothers in faith (cf. Lk 22:32). As an explicit sign of this mission, my coat-of-arms includes the pilgrim's shell, among other elements.

In these historic moments in which we are called, with greater force if possible, to evangelize our world, the riches offered to us by the pilgrimage to shrines should be highlighted. First of all, for its great ability to summon and bring together a growing number of pilgrims and religious tourists, some of whom are in complicated human and spiritual situations, somewhat distant from living the faith and with a weak ecclesial affiliation. Christ speaks to all of them with love and hope. The desire for happiness that is imbedded in the soul finds its answer in Him, and human suffering together with Him has a meaning. With his grace, the noblest causes also find their complete fulfillment. As Simeon met with Christ in the temple (cf. Lk 2:25-35), so too a pilgrim should have the opportunity to discover the Lord in the shrine.

For this purpose, efforts should be made so that visitors may not forget that shrines are sacred places in order to be in them with devotion, respect and propriety. In this way, the Word of Christ, the Son of the living God, can ring out clearly, and the event of his death and resurrection, the foundation of our faith, can be proclaimed completely. Very careful attention should also be given to welcoming the pilgrims, by highlighting, among other elements, the dignity and beauty of the shrine, the image of "God's dwelling... with the human race" (Rev 21:3), the moments and spaces for both personal and community prayer, and attention to devotional practices. In the same way, it can never be stressed enough that shrines should be lighthouses of charity, with unceasing dedication to the neediest through concrete works of solidarity and mercy, and constant readiness to listen, favoring in particular the faithful's reception of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and taking part worthily in the Eucharistic celebration, making this the center and apex of all the pastoral activity of the shrines. In this way it will be made manifest that the Eucharist is indeed the pilgrim's nourishment, the "Sacrament of the God who does not leave us alone on the journey but stays at our side and shows us the way" (Homily on the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, May 22, 2008).

In fact, different from a wanderer whose steps have no established final destination, a pilgrim always has a destination, even if at times he is not explicitly aware of it. And this destination is none other than the encounter with God through Christ in whom all our aspirations find their response. For this reason, the celebration of the Eucharist can really be considered the culmination of the pilgrimage.

As "God's co-workers" (1 Co 3:9), I exhort all of you to be dedicated to this beautiful mission so that through your pastoral care, you will favor in pilgrims the knowledge and imitation of Christ who continues to walk with us, enlighten our lives with his Word, and share with us the Bread of Life in the Eucharist. In this way, the pilgrimage to the shrine will be a favorable occasion to strengthen the desire in those who visit it to share the wonderful experience with others of knowing they are loved by God and sent to the world to give witness to that love.

With these sentiments, I entrust the fruits of this Congress to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Apostle James as I direct my prayer to Jesus Christ, "the Way and the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14:6), to whom I present all those who seek His face as they peregrinate through life:

Lord Jesus Christ, pilgrim of Emmaus,
you make yourself close to us for love,
even if, at times, discouragement and sadness
prevent us from discovering your presence.
You are the flame that revives our faith.
You are the light that purifies our hope.
You are the force that stirs our charity.
Teach us to recognize you in the Word,
in the house and on the Table where the Bread of Life is shared,
in generous service to our suffering neighbor.
And when evening falls, Lord, help us to say:
"Stay with us". Amen.
I impart to all the implored Apostolic Blessing, a pledge of abundant celestial graces.

The Vatican, September 8, 2010.


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Address After Mozart Requiem Concert
A "Great, Dramatic and Serene Meditation on Death"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 8, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Tuesday at the end of a performance of Mozart's Requiem in the courtyard of the papal residence of Castel Gandolfo. The performance was given by the Symphony Orchestra of Padua and Veneto, and the "Accademia della voce" Choir of Turin, conducted by Claudio Desideri.

* * *

Dear Friends:

My heartfelt thanks to the Orchestra of Padua and Veneto and to the "Voice Academy" choir of Turin, directed by maestro Claudio Desderi, and to the four soloists for having given us this moment of interior joy and spiritual reflection with an intense performance of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Requiem. Along with them, I thank Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, secretary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, for the words he addressed to me, as well as to the institutions that contributed to the organization of this event. We know well that Mozart, in his trips around Italy with his father when he was young, stayed in several regions, among which were, also, Piedmont and Veneto, but above all we know that he was able to learn from the lively Italian musical activity, characterized by composers such as Hasse, Sammartini, Father Martini, Piccinni, Jommelli, Paisiello, Cimarosa, to mention some of them.

Allow me, however, to express once again the particular affection that has united me, I could say, always, to this great musician. Every time I listen to his music I cannot help but return in memory to my parish church, where on feast days, when I was a boy, one of his "Masses" resounded: I felt that a ray of beauty from heaven reached my heart, and I continue to experience this sensation also today every time I listen to this great, dramatic and serene meditation on death.

Everything is in perfect harmony in Mozart, every note, every musical phrase is as it is and could not be otherwise; even those opposed are reconciled; it is called "mozart’sche Heiterkeit" (Mozart's serenity), which envelops everything, every moment. It is a gift of the Grace of God, but it is also the fruit of Mozart's lively faith that, especially in sacred music, is able to reflect the luminous response of divine love, which gives hope, even when human life is lacerated by suffering and death.

In his last letter written to his dying father, dated April 4, 1787, he wrote, speaking precisely of the final stage of life on earth: "For about a year I have become so familiar with this sincere and greatly loved friend of man, [death], that its image no longer holds anything that is terrifying, but it even seems to me tranquilizing and consoling! And I thank my God for having given me the good fortune of having the opportunity of recognizing in it the key to our happiness. I never lie down without thinking that perhaps the next day I might not be. And yet anyone who knows me will not be able to say that in their company I am sad or in a bad mood. And for this good fortune I thank my Creator every day and I desire it with all my heart for each one of my fellow men."

This writing manifests a profound and simple faith, which also appears in the great prayer of the Requiem, and leads us at the same time to love intensely the ups and downs of earthly life as gifts of God and to rise above them, contemplating death serenely as a "key" to go through the door to happiness.

Mozart's Requiem is a lofty expression of faith, which recognizes the tragic character of human existence and which does not hide its dramatic aspects, and for this reason it is an appropriate expression of Christian faith, conscious that the whole of man's life is illuminated by the love of God. Thank you all once again.


Papal Message to Asian Laity Congress
"Be a Sign and Promise of ... Unity and Communion"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 1, 2010 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Stanislaw Rylko, president of the Pontifical Council for the Laity, on the occasion of an Asian Catholic laity conference, which began in Seoul, South Korea, on Tuesday. It runs through Sunday. The papal message was dated Aug. 10 and released today.

The theme chosen for the congress is "Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today."

* * *

To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Stanis?aw Ry?ko
President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity

I was pleased to learn that the Congress of Asian Catholic Laity will be held in Seoul from 31 August to 5 September 2010. I ask you kindly to convey my cordial greetings and prayerful good wishes to the Bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful from Asia assembled for this significant pastoral initiative promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity. The theme chosen for the Congress -- Proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia Today -- is most timely, and I am confident that it will encourage and guide the lay faithful of the continent in bearing joyful witness to the Risen Lord and to the life-giving truth of his holy word.

Asia, home to two-thirds of the world’s people, the cradle of great religions and spiritual traditions, and the birthplace of diverse cultures, is currently undergoing unprecedented processes of economic growth and social transformation. Asia's Catholics are called to be a sign and promise of that unity and communion -- communion with God and among men -- which the whole human family is meant to enjoy and which Christ alone makes possible. As part of the mosaic of the continent's different peoples, cultures and religions, they have been entrusted with a great mission: that of bearing witness to Jesus Christ, the universal Savior of mankind. This is the supreme service and the greatest gift that the Church can offer to the people of Asia, and it is my hope that the present Conference will provide renewed encouragement and direction in taking up this sacred mandate.

"The peoples of Asia need Jesus Christ and his Gospel. Asia is thirsting for the living water that Jesus alone can give" (Ecclesia in Asia, 50). These prophetic words of the Servant of God John Paul II still resound as a summons addressed to each member of the Church in Asia. If the lay faithful are to take up this mission, they need to become ever more conscious of the grace of their Baptism and the dignity which is theirs as sons and daughters of God the Father, sharers in the death and resurrection of Jesus his Son, and anointed by the Holy Spirit as members of Christ’s mystical Body which is the Church. In union of mind and heart with their Pastors, and accompanied at every step of their journey of faith by a sound spiritual and catechetical formation, they need to be encouraged to cooperate actively not only in building up their local Christian communities but also in making new pathways for the Gospel in every sector of society. Vast horizons of mission are now opening up before the lay men and women of Asia in their efforts to bear witness to the truth of the Gospel; I think especially of the opportunities offered by their example of Christian married love and family life, their defense of God’s gift of life from conception to natural death, their loving concern for the poor and the oppressed, their willingness to forgive their enemies and persecutors, their example of justice, truthfulness and solidarity in the workplace, and their presence in public life.

The increasing numbers of committed, trained and enthusiastic lay persons is thus a sign of immense hope for the future of the Church in Asia. Here I wish to single out with gratitude the outstanding work of the many catechists who bring the riches of the Catholic faith to young and old alike, drawing individuals, families and parish communities to an ever deeper encounter with the Risen Lord. The apostolic and charismatic movements are also a special gift of the Spirit, since they bring new life and vigor to the formation of the laity, particularly families and young people. The associations and ecclesial movements devoted to the promotion of human dignity and justice concretely demonstrate the universality of the Gospel message of our adoption as children of God. Along with the many individuals and groups committed to prayer and works of charity, as well as the contribution made by pastoral and parish councils, these groups play an important role in helping the particular Churches of Asia to be built up in faith and love, strengthened in communion with the universal Church and renewed in zeal for the spread of the Gospel.

For this reason, I pray that the present Congress will highlight the indispensable role of the lay faithful in the Church’s mission and develop specific programs and initiatives to assist them in their task of proclaiming Jesus Christ in Asia today. I am confident that the deliberations of the Congress will stress that the Christian life and calling must be seen first and foremost as a source of sublime happiness and a gift to be shared with others. Every Catholic should be able to say, with the Apostle Paul, "For me, to live is Christ" (Phil 1:21). Those who have found in Jesus the truth, joy and beauty which give meaning and direction to their lives will naturally desire to bring this grace to others. Undaunted by the presence of difficulties, or the enormity of the task at hand, they will trust in the mysterious presence of the Holy Spirit who is always at work in the hearts of individuals, in their traditions and cultures, mysteriously opening doors to Christ as "the way, and the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6), and the fulfilment of every human aspiration.

With these sentiments, I invoke upon all taking part in the Congress a fresh outpouring of the Holy Spirit and I willingly join in the prayer which will accompany these days of study and discernment. May the Church in Asia bear ever more fervent witness to the incomparable beauty of being a Christian, and proclaim Jesus Christ as the one Savior of the world. Commending those present to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

From the Vatican, 10 August 2010


© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Greeting to Knights of Columbus
"An Outstanding Witness to the Charity of Christ"

WASHINGTON, D.C., AUG. 16, 2010 - Here is the greeting Benedict XVI sent to the Knights of Columbus on the occasion of the 128th Supreme Convention, which was held Aug. 3-5 in Washington, D.C. The message was sent through the Pope's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

* * *

Dear Mr. Anderson,

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI was pleased to learn that from 3-5 August 2010 the 128th Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus will be held in Washington, D.C. He has asked me to convey his warm personal greetings and good wishes to all in attendance, and in a special way to you as you celebrate the tenth anniversary of your election as the Supreme Knight.

The theme of this year's Supreme Convention -- "I Am My Brother's Keeper" -- calls to mind the spirit of fraternal solidarity which inspired the founding of the Knights of Columbus and continues to guide its manifold activities. It was concern for the welfare of working men and their families, born of Christ's teaching and the Church's long tradition of social engagement and charitable service, that led the Servant of God Father Michael McGivney and his associates to organize the Knights as a benevolent and fraternal association. From the beginning, this commitment to the Gospel imperative of love of neighbor has directed the various activities and programs of your Order, and today too, it is seen most evidently in the concrete gestures of charity and community service undertaken by the members of local Councils the world over. His Holiness wishes before all else to express his gratitude for this great outpouring of solidarity and love, which represents an outstanding witness to the charity of Christ and the saving truth of the Gospel. "Openness to God makes us open towards our brothers and sisters and towards an understanding of life as a joyful task to be accomplished in a spirit of solidarity" (Caritas in Veritate, 78), and this, in turn, enables Christians, in the concrete circumstances of their daily lives, to become convincing signs of God's goodness and the attractiveness of the Christian message.

His Holiness is personally grateful for the generous support which the Knights have given him in recent months, especially through their constant prayers and particularly in the Novena conducted on the eve of the fifth anniversary of his election. He remains deeply consoled by this testimony of fidelity to Christ's vicar amid the turbulence of the times, and he asks that prayers continue to be offered up for the unity of the Church, the spread of the Gospel and the conversion of hearts. In a particular way he expresses his appreciation to the members of your Order for their spiritual solidarity with the clergy throughout the recently concluded Year for Priests. Here too, your traditional spirit of faith and fraternity found ready expression in the desire to stand, as your "brother's keeper," alongside your priests and to confirm them in their vocation to holiness and the generous service of God's People. In the face of often unfair and unfounded attacks on the Church and her leaders, His Holiness is convinced that the most effective response is a great fidelity to God's word, a more resolute pursuit of holiness, and an increased commitment to charity in truth on the part of all the faithful. He asks the Knights to persevere in their witness of faith and charity, in the serene trust that, as the Church embraces this period of purification, her light will come to shine all the more brightly (cf. Mt 5:15-16) before men and women of fair mind and good will.

In the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," the Holy Father saw the present world economic crisis as a timely reminder that no area of human activity is exempt from moral responsibility (No. 2). At a time when fundamental moral norms, grounded in truth and inscribed in the human heart, are increasingly called into question and at times overturned by positive legislation, he is grateful for the efforts made by the Knights, in cooperation with other men and women of good will, to uphold the reasonableness of the Church's moral teaching and its importance for a sound, just and enduring social order. He once more thanks your Order for its witness to the sanctity of human life and the authentic nature of marriage, and for its efforts to promote in the Catholic laity a greater consciousness of the need to overcome every separation between the faith we profess and the daily decisions which shape our lives as individuals and the life of society as a whole.

With these sentiments and with great affection in the Lord, His Holiness commends all assembled in Washington to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. To the members of the Supreme Council, and to all the Knights and their families, he cordially imparts his Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of abundant heavenly graces.

With personal good wishes for the success of the meeting, I remain Yours sincerely,

Tarcisio Card. Bertone


Papal Address to Italian Charity Circolo San Pietro
"Continue to Be a Concrete Sign of the Pope's Charity"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 27, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Saturday upon receiving in audience a delegation representing the Circolo San Pietro (Circle of St. Peter), an Italian charity founded in 1869.

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Dear Members of the Circolo San Pietro!

I am delighted to welcome you on the occasion of this pleasant meeting, which offers me the opportunity to renew my recognition of your generous work in service to the Holy See.

This meeting takes place just a short time before the liturgical solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul and permits us, in a certain way, a foretaste of the joy of such an observance that is so meaningful for your worthy society and for the whole Church. I greet all of you with affection, beginning with your president, Duke Leopoldo Torlonia, whom I thank for the kind words that he has addressed to me on behalf of everyone, and with your spiritual director.

A short while ago we concluded the Year for Priests, a time of grace during which the Church reflected with special attention on the figure of St. John Marie Vianney, the holy Curé d'Ars, observing the 150th anniversary of his death. He is a model of evangelical life not only for priests, but for lay people, especially for those who work, as you do, in the vast field of charity. A peculiar aspect of the life of this humble priest was, in fact, his detachment from material goods. He did not own anything, he gave everything away to the most needy; it did not feel the necessity of having anything for himself: He considered everything superfluous. He learned the love of the poor as a boy, seeing how they were welcomed and helped by his parents at home. This love led him, in the course of his priestly life, to give away everything he had. He also founded a home that he called “Providence” for poor children and girls: he dedicated every effort to them so that they would receive a healthy Christian education.

May his example constitute for you, dear members of the Circolo San Pietro, a constant invitation to open your arms to every person who has need of a tangible sign of solidarity. Continue to be a concrete sign of the Pope’s charity to whomever finds themselves in need, whether materially or spiritually, and to the pilgrims who come to Rome from every part of the world to visit the tombs of the Apostles and to meet the Successor of Peter.

As was noted a moment ago, you have come here to present the Peter’s Pence that has been collected from the churches of Rome. I would like to express my lively gratitude for this attestation of participation in my solicitude for persons most in need. It represents a point of convergence between two complementary actions, that are linked in a single eloquent testimony of evangelical charity, since, on the one hand, it manifests the affection of the inhabitants of this city and of pilgrims for the Successor of Peter and, on the other hand, it expresses the concrete solidarity of the Holy See with so many situations of hardship and poverty that, unfortunately, remain in Rome and in many other parts of the world. Bringing together the Roman parishes and running aid and hospitality centers in the capital, you have the possibility of directly experiencing the many situations of poverty that are still present; at the same time, you can also witness how intense is people’s desire to know Christ and to love in our brothers.

Through this work of yours to meet the needs of the less fortunate, you spread a message of hope, that flows from faith and adhesion to the Lord, thus making you heralds of his Gospel. Charity and witness, then, continue to be the guiding lines of your apostolate. I encourage you to continue in this action of yours with joy, taking inspiration from unfailing Christian principles and always drawing new strength from prayer and the spirit of sacrifice -- as your motto says -- to bear copious fruit in both the Christian community and civil society.

I entrust your aspirations, plans and all your activities to the maternal protection of the Holy Virgin, “Salus Populi Romani,” that she might guide your steps, making you ever more convinced workers of solidarity and builders of peace in all the spheres where the worthy action of your association is carried out. With these vows, I invoke the heavenly intercession of Saints Peter and Paul and gladly impart to each of you, to your families and those you meet in your daily service a special Apostolic Benediction.


Pope's Words of Thanks for Anniversary Concert
"Music Is ... Capable of Opening Minds"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 30, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Thursday after a concert in honor of the fifth anniversary of his pontificate.

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Mr. President of the Republic,

Lords Cardinal,

Honorable Ministers and Authorities,

Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Distinguished Gentlemen and Ladies,

Once again the president of the Italian Republic, Honorable Giorgio Napolitano, with a gesture of exquisite courtesy, has offered all of us the possibility to hear excellent music on the occasion of the anniversary of my pontificate. On greeting you with deference, Mr. President, together with your distinguished wife, I wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for the truly pleasing homage of this concert and for the cordial words you addressed to me. In this act of consideration I also see a further sign of affection that the Italian people nourishes toward the Pope, affection that was so fervent in St. Catherine of Siena, patroness of Italy, whose feast is celebrated today. I am happy to greet the other authorities of the Italian state, the lord ambassadors, the various personalities and all of you who have taken part in this moment of high cultural and musical value.

I wish to thank all those who cooperated generously in the realization of this event, in particular the directors of the Fondazione Scuola di Musica di Fiesole, of which the Orchestra Giovanile Italiana is a significant component, ably directed by Maestro Nicola Paszkowski.

Certain of interpreting the sentiments of all those present, I direct a special appreciation to the members of the orchestra, who have played with ability and skill interpretative fragments of the Milanese composer Giovanni Battista Sammartini, of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and of Ludwig van Beethoven.

We have had the joy of hearing tonight young concert students of the Music School of Fiesole, founded by Piero Farulli, which in the course of the years has affirmed itself an excellent national center of orchestral formation, offering numerous children, adolescents, young people and adults the possibility of undertaking a qualified formative itinerary directed to the preparation of musicians for the best Italian and European orchestras. The study of music has high value in the educational process of the person, inasmuch as it produces positive effects in the individual's development, fostering his harmonious human and spiritual growth. We know that the formative value of music, in its implications of expressive, creative, relational, social and cultural nature, is commonly recognized.

Therefore, the experience of more than 30 years of the School of Music of Fiesole assumes a particular relevance also in face of the daily reality that tells us that it is not easy to educate. In the present social context, in fact, all the work of education seems to be increasingly arduous and problematic: Often there is talk between parents and teachers of the difficulties encountered in the transmission of the basic values of existence and of correct behavior to new generations. This problematic situation affects both the school as well as the family, as also the various agencies that operate in the formative realm.

The present conditions of society require an extraordinary educational commitment in favor of the new generations. Young people, even if they live in different contexts, have in common a sensitivity in face of the great ideals of life, but they find many difficulties in living them. We cannot ignore their needs and hopes, or the obstacles and threats they meet. They feel the need to approach authentic values such as the centrality of the person, human dignity, peace and justice, tolerance and solidarity. They also seek, at times in confused and contradictory ways, spirituality and transcendence, to find balance and harmony.

In this regard, I wish to observe that music is, in fact, capable of opening minds and hearts to the dimension of the spirit and of leading persons to raise their gaze on High, to open to absolute Goodness and Beauty, which have their ultimate source in God. The joy of song and music is also a constant invitation to believers and to all men of good will to commit themselves to give humanity a rich future of hope. Moreover, the experience of playing in an orchestra also adds the collective dimension: the constant practices carried out with patience; the exercise of listening to the other musicians; the commitment not to play "in solitude," but to do so in a way that the different "orchestral colors" -- while maintaining their own characteristics -- are established; the common search for the best expression: all this constitutes a powerful "gymnasium," not only on the artistic and professional plane, but in the overall human profile.

Dear friends, I hope that the grandeur and beauty of the musical pieces masterfully played tonight may give everyone a new and continual inspiration to tend to ever higher aims in personal and social life. I renew to Mr. President of the Italian Republic, to the organizers and to all those present, the expression of my sincere gratitude for this appreciated homage. Remember me in your prayers, so that on beginning the sixth year of my Pontificate, I will always be able to fulfill my ministry as the Lord wills. May he, who is our strength and our peace, bless you all and your families.


Papal Address on the Media and the Internet
"Without Fear We Want to Set Out Upon the Digital Sea"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 25, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday in an audience in Paul VI Hall with participants in a national conference on "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age," an initiative promoted by the Italian bishops' conference.

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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

Dear Friends,

I am happy for this opportunity to meet with you and to conclude your gathering, which has had as its quite evocative theme, "Digital Witnesses: Faces and Languages in the Cross-Media Age." I thank the president of the Italian bishops' conference, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, for the cordial words of welcome with which, once again, he desired to express the affection and the nearness of the Church in Italy to my apostolic service. In his words the cardinal reflects the faithful adhesion to Peter of all the Catholics of this beloved nation and the esteem of so many men and women animated by the desire to seek the truth.

The time in which we live is experiencing an enormous expansion of the frontiers of communication, realizing an untold convergence between different media and making interaction possible. Thus the Internet manifests an open vocation, with an egalitarian and pluralistic tendency, but at the same time it has dug a moat about itself: One speaks, in fact, of the "digital divide." It separates the included from the excluded and adds to the other discrepancies that separate nations from each other and divide them internally. The dangers of homogenization and control, of intellectual and moral relativism, already quite evident in the bent of the critical spirit, in truth reduced to the play of opinions, in the multiple forms of the degradation and humiliation of the human person in his intimate dimension. One witnesses, then, a "polluting of the spirit, which makes us smile less, makes our faces gloomier, less likely to greet each other or look each other in the eye..." ("Speech in the Piazza di Spagna, December 8, 2009"). But this meeting points to recognizing faces and so to overcoming those collective dynamics that can make us lose the perception of the depth of persons and remain at the surface: When that happens, they are bodies without souls, objects of trade and consumption.

How is it possible today to return to faces? I tried to show the road in my third encyclical. It passes through that "caritas in veritate" that shines upon the face of Christ. Love in truth constitutes a "great challenge for the Church in a world that is becoming progressively and pervasively globalized" ("Caritas in Veritate," no. 9). The media can become a factor in humanization "not only when, thanks to technological development, they increase the possibilities of communicating information, but above all when they are geared towards a vision of the person and the common good that reflects truly universal values" (no. 73). This demands that they "focus on promoting the dignity of persons and peoples, they need to be clearly inspired by charity and placed at the service of truth, of the good, and of natural and supernatural fraternity" (ibid.). Only under those conditions can the epochal journey that we are undertaking become something rich and fertile with new opportunities. Without fear we want to set out upon the digital sea embracing the unrestricted navigation with the same passion that for 2,000 years has steered the barque of the Church. More than with technical resources, although necessary, we want to qualify ourselves dwelling in this universe too with a believing heart, that contributes to giving a soul to the uninterrupted communicational flow of the Internet.

This is our mission, the Church's mission that she cannot renounce: The task of every believer who works in the media is that of "opening the door to new forms of encounter, maintaining the quality of human interaction, and showing concern for individuals and their genuine spiritual needs. They can thus help the men and women of our digital age to sense the Lord's presence" ("Message for the 44th World Communications Day, May 10, 2010"). Dear Friends, you are called to take on the role of "animators of the community" on the Internet too, attentive to "prepare the ways that lead to the Word of God," and to express a particular sensitivity to "the disheartened and those who have a deep, unarticulated desire for enduring truth and the absolute" (ibid.). The Internet could in this way become a kind of "Court of the Gentiles," where "there is also a space for those who have not yet come to know God" (ibid.).

As animators of culture and communication, you are a living sign of how much "Church communities have always used the modern media for fostering communication, engagement with society, and, increasingly, for encouraging dialogue at a wider level" (ibid.). In this field voices are not lacking in Italy: We need only to point to "Avvenire," TV2000, the inBlu radio network and the SIR press agency, along with Catholic periodicals, the network of weekly diocesan papers and the now numerous Catholic Web sites. I exhort all media professionals not to tire of nourishing in their heart that passion for man that draws ever closer to the languages he speaks and to his true face. You will be helped in this by a solid theological formation and above all a deep and joyful passion for God, fed by a constant dialogue with the Lord. The particular Churches and religious institutes, for their part should not hesitate to value the formation courses offered by the Pontifical universities, by the University of the Sacred Heart and the other Catholic and ecclesiastical universities, providing persons with foresight and resources. The media world should be a part of pastoral planning.

As I thank you for the service you give to the Church and therefore to the cause of man, I exhort you to walk the roads of the digital continent, animated by the courage of the Holy Spirit. Our confidence is not uncritically placed in any instrument of technology. Our strength lies in being Church, believing community, able to bear witness to all the perennial newness of the Risen One, with a life that blooms in fullness in the measure that it opens up, enters into relation, gives itself gratuitously.

I entrust you to the protection of Mary Most Holy and the great saints of communication and bless you from my heart.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Pope's Address to Papal Foundation Members
"I Ask You to Pray for the Needs of the Universal Church"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 16, 2010 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today in an audience with members of the Philadelphia-based Papal Foundation.

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Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the members of The Papal Foundation on the occasion of your annual pilgrimage to Rome. Our meeting is pervaded by the joy of this Easter season, as the Church celebrates the Lord's glorious victory over death and his gift of new life in the Holy Spirit.

A year ago I had the grace of visiting the Holy Land and praying before the Lord's empty tomb. There, echoing the witness of the Apostle Peter, I proclaimed that Christ, by rising to new life, has taught us "that evil never has the last word, that love is stronger than death, and that our future, and the future of all humanity, lies in the hands of a faithful and provident God" (Address at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, 15 May 2009). In every time and place, the Church is called to proclaim this message of hope and to confirm its truth by her practical witness of holiness and charity. The Papal Foundation has advanced this mission in a particular way by supporting a broad spectrum of charities close to the heart of the Successor of Peter. I thank you for your generous efforts to offer assistance to our brothers and sisters in developing countries, to provide for the education of the Church's future leaders, and to advance the missionary endeavors of so many dioceses and religious congregations throughout the world.

In these days I ask you to pray for the needs of the universal Church and to implore a renewed outpouring of the Spirit's gifts of holiness, unity and missionary zeal upon the whole People of God. With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in Jesus our Risen Lord.

© Copyright 2010 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI's Address at Caritas Shelter
"Man Does Not Only Need to Be Fed Materially"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 14, 2010 - Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today while visiting the Don Luigi di Liegro shelter run by Caritas in Rome.

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Dear Friends,

I welcomed with joy the invitation to visit this hostel called "Don Luigi Di Liegro," who was the first director of the diocesan "Caritas" of Rome, which was launched over 30 years ago. From my heart I thank the Vicar Cardinal Agostino Vallini and the administrator delegate of the State Railways, Engineer Mauro Moretti, for the words that they kindly addressed to me. With particular affection I express my gratitude to all of you who frequent this hostel and who through the voice of Mrs. Giovanna Cataldo wanted to offer me a warm greeting, accompanied by the precious gift of the Crucifix of Onna, a luminous sign of hope. I greet Monsignor Giuseppe Merisi, presidente of Italian "Caritas," Auxiliary Bishop Monsignor Guerino Di Tora, and the director of "Caritas" of Rome, Monsignor Enrico Feroci. I am happy to greet the government officials present, especially the Minister of Infrastructure and Transportation, Honorable Altero Matteoli, whom I thank for his words, the mayor of Rome, Honorable Gianni Alemanno, whom I thank for the active and constant help offered by the Municipality of Rome to the undertakings of the hostel. I greet the volunteers and all those present. Thanks for your welcome!

Some 23 years have already passed since this structure -- made possible with the cooperation of the State Railways, that generously made the location available, and the economic support of the Municipality of Rome -- began to welcome its first guests. Over the course of the years, along with a place of rest for those who had nowhere to sleep, further services were offered such as the health care clinic and meals, and other donors joined the first ones: ENEL, The Rome Foundation, Eng. Agostini Maggini, The Telecom Foundation and the Ministry for Cultural Goods, who have testified to the power of love to build up. In this way the hostel has become a place where, thanks to the service of many workers and volunteers, Jesus' words are actualized: "I was hungry and you gave me to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me to drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. I was naked and you clothed me. I was sick and you visited me" (Matthew 25:35-36).

Dear brothers and friends who have found welcome here, know that the Church loves you deeply and will not abandon you, because it recognizes in the countenance of each of you that of Christ. He wanted to identify himself in a very special way with those who find themselves in poverty and indigence. The witness of charity, which in this place finds particular realization, belongs to the mission of the Church together with the proclamation of the Gospel. Man does not only need to be fed materially or helped to overcome moments of difficulty, but also has the necessity of knowing who he is and knowing the truth about himself, about his dignity. As I recalled in the encyclical "Caritas in Veritate," "without truth, charity becomes sentimentalism. Love becomes an empty shell, to be arbitrarily refilled" (no. 3).

The Church, with its service on behalf of the poor, is therefore charged to proclaim to all the truth about man, who is loved by God, created in his image, redeemed by Christ and called to eternal communion with him. Many people have thus wanted to rediscover, and are rediscovering, their dignity, sometimes lost in tragic events, and recover confidence in themselves and hope in the future. Through deeds, examples and words of those who lend their service here, numerous men and women are able to feel in a tangible way that their lives are protected by the Love that is God, and because of this they have a meaning and an importance (cf. "Spe Salvi," no. 35). This profound certainty generates in man's heart a powerful, solid, luminous hope, a hope that gives one the courage to continue on the journey of life despite the failures, difficulties and trials that accompany it. Dear brothers and sisters who work in this place, have before your eyes and your heart Jesus' example, who for love became our servant and loved us "to the end" (cf. John 13:1), to the cross. So, be joyous witnesses of the infinite charity of God and, imitating the example of the deacon St. Lawrence, consider these friends of yours a treasure more precious than your life.

My visit is taking place during the "European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion," established by the European Parliament and the European Commission. Coming to this place as Bishop of Rome, the Church, who from the beginning of Christianity presides in charity (cf. St. Ignatius of Antioch, "Letter to the Romans," 1, 1), I would like to encourage not only Catholics, but every man of good will, especially those who have responsibility in public administration and the different institutions, to commit themselves to the building of a future worthy of man, rediscovering in charity the propulsive force for an authentic development and for the realization of a more just and fraternal society (cf. "Caritas in Veritate," no. 1). Charity, in fact "is not only the principle of micro-relations: relationships of friendship, family, small groups, but also macro-relations: social, economic and political relations" (ibid., no. 2). To promote a peaceful coexistence that helps men to recognize themselves as members of a single human family it is important that the dimensions of gift and gratuity be rediscovered as constitutive elements of daily living and interpersonal relations. All of that becomes day after day ever more urgent in a world in which the logic of profit and pursuit of one's own interests seem to prevail instead.

The hostel of "Caritas" constitutes, for the Church of Rome, a precious occasion for education in the values of the Gospel. The experience of volunteering that many are sharing in here is, especially for young people, an authentic school in which one learns to be a builder of the civilization of love, capable of welcoming the other in his uniqueness and difference. In this way the hostel concretely manifests that the Christian community, through its own organizations and without the truth that it proclaims being diminished, usefully collaborates with civil institutions to promote the common good. I trust that the fruitful synergy realized here extends also to other realities of our city, especially in the areas where the consequences of the economic crisis are most felt and the dangers of social exclusion are greatest. In its service to persons in difficulty the Church is wholly moved by the desire to express her faith in that God who is the defender of the poor and who loves every man for what he is and not for that which he possesses or does. The Church lives in history with the awareness that the anxieties and needs of men, of the poor above all and all those who suffer, are also among the disciples of Christ (cf. Vatican II, "Gaudium et Spes," no. 1) and for this reason, in respect to the responsibilities of the state, it takes care that every human being be guaranteed what he is owed.

Dear brothers and sisters, for Rome the hostel of the diocesan "Caritas" is a place where love is not only a word or a sentiment, but a concrete reality, which allows God's light to enter into the life of men and the whole civil community. This light helps us to look to tomorrow with hope, certain that in the future too our city will remain faithful to the value of welcome that is so deeply rooted in the history and in the heart of its citizens. May the Virgin Mary, "Salus popoli romani," accompany you always with her maternal intercession and help each of you to make this place a house where there flourish the same virtues present in the holy house of Nazareth. With these sentiments, I offer from my heart the apostolic blessing, extending it to those who are dear to you and all those who live in this place and give themselves here with generosity.


Papal Letter to Host Diocese of Winter Olympics
"May Sport Always Be a Valued Building Block of Peace and Friendship"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 4, 2010 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent Dec. 30 to Archbishop J. Michael Miller of Vancouver ahead of the XXI Winter Olympic Games (Feb. 12-28) and the X Paralympic Winter Games (March 12-21), both of which will take place in Vancouver. The letter was published today by the Vatican press office.
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To the Most Reverend J. Michael Miller
Archbishop of Vancouver

I was pleased to learn that the XXI Winter Olympic Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games are to be held in the Archdiocese of Vancouver and the Diocese of Kamloops, from 12 to 28 February 2010. As I send my cordial greetings to you and Bishop David Monroe, my good wishes also go to the participating athletes, the organizers and the many community volunteers who are generously cooperating in the celebration of the significant international event.

Such an important occurrence for both athletes and spectators allows me to recall how sport "can make an effective contribution to peaceful understanding between peoples and to establishing the new civilization of love" (John Paul II, Homily, 29 October 2000, 2). In this light, may sport always be a valued building block of peace and friendship between peoples and nations. I also note the ecumenical initiative More Than Gold, intended to provide spiritual and material assistance to visitors, participants and volunteers alike. I pray that all who avail themselves of this service will be confirmed in their love of God and neighbour.

With these sentiments in mind, upon all associated with the celebration of the XXI Winter Olympic Games and the X Paralympic Winter Games, I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

From the Vatican, 30 December 2009



Papal Words to Conference on Care of the Deaf
"Ephphatha! The Hearing-Impaired Person in the Life of the Church"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Nov. 20 upon receiving in audience participants in the 24th International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Ministry. The theme of the meeting was "Ephphatha! The Hearing-Impaired Person in the Life of the Church."

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the 24th International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health-Care Workers on a theme of great social and ecclesial importance: "Ephphatha! The hearing-impaired person in the life of the Church."

I greet Archbishop Zygmunt Zimowski, President of the Dicastery, and thank him for his cordial words. I extend my greeting to the Secretary and to the new Undersecretary, to the Priests, Religious and Lay People, to the Experts and to everyone present. I would like to express my appreciation and my encouragement for your generous commitment to this important sector of pastoral care.

Indeed, the problems that beset deaf people, who have been made the object of attentive reflection in these days, are numerous and delicate. It is a situation on different levels, which ranges from the sociological horizon to the pedagogical, from the medical and psychological to the ethical and spiritual and the pastoral. The reports of specialists, the exchange of experiences among those who work in this field, the testimonies of the deaf themselves have offered the possibility for an in-depth analysis of the situation and for the formulation of proposals and guidelines for an ever more specialized attention to these brothers and sisters of ours.

The word "Ephphatha" as the beginning of the title of the Conference's theme, calls to mind the well-known episode in Mark's Gospel (cf. 7: 31-37), which is paradigmatic of how the Lord works for deaf people. Jesus took aside a deaf mute and, after making some symbolic gestures, raised his eyes to Heaven and said to him: "'Ephphatha', that is, 'Be opened'".

At that moment, the Evangelist says, the man's ears were opened, his tongue released, and he spoke plainly. Jesus' gestures are full of loving attention and express deep compassion for the man who stood before him. The Lord showed the deaf man his concrete concern, drew him aside from the confusion of the crowd, made him feel his closeness and understanding by several gestures full of meaning. He placed his fingers in his ears, and he spat and touched his tongue. He then invited him to turn his interior gaze, that of his heart, together with him to the heavenly Father. Finally, he healed him and restored him to his family, to his people, and the crowd, marvelling, could only exclaim: "He has done all things well; he even makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak!" (Mk 7: 37).

By his way of behaving which reveals the heavenly Father's love, Jesus does not only heal physical deafness but points out that there is another form of deafness of which humanity must be cured, indeed, from which it must be saved: it is deafness of the spirit, which raises ever higher barriers against the voice of God and that of one's neighbour, especially the cry for help of the lowliest and the suffering, and closes the human being in profound and ruinous selfishness.

As I had the opportunity to say in the Homily during my Pastoral Visit to the Diocese of Viterbo last 6 September: "we can see in this "sign' Jesus' ardent desire to overcome man's loneliness and incommunicability created by selfishness, in order to bring about a "new humanity', the humanity of listening and speech, of dialogue, of communication, of communion with God. A "good' humanity, just as all of God's Creation is good; a humanity without discrimination, without exclusion... so that the world is truly and for all a "scene of true brotherhood'" (Homily, Mass in Faul Valley, Viterbo, 6 September; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, pages 5-6, 9 September 2009).

Unfortunately experience does not always testify to acts of prompt acceptance, convinced solidarity and warm communion for people who are unable to hear. The numerous associations that have come into being to protect and promote their rights, highlight the existence of a discontent society that is marked by prejudice and discrimination. These are deplorable and unjustifiable attitudes because they are contrary to respect for the dignity of the deaf and their full social integration.

Far more widespread, however, are the initiatives promoted by institutions and associations, in both the ecclesial and civil contexts, that are inspired by authentic and generous solidarity and which have contributed to improving the living conditions of many hearing-impaired people.

In this regard, it is important to remember that in the 18th century the first schools for the religious instruction and formation of these brothers and sisters of ours were being founded in Europe.

From that time on charitable institutions in the Church increased, impelled by priests, men and women religious and lay people, whose purpose was to offer the hearing-impaired not only an education but also an integral assistance for their complete fulfillment.

However, it is not possible to forget the serious situation in which they still live today in the developing countries, both because of the lack of appropriate policies and legislation and because of the difficulty in obtaining access to primary health care treatment. Deafness, in fact, is often the consequence of illnesses that can easily be treated.

I therefore appeal to the political and civil authorities, as well as to the international organizations, to offer the necessary support in order to promote, also in those countries, a proper respect for the dignity and rights of deaf people, encouraging their full social integration with adequate assistance.

Following the teaching and example of her divine Founder, the Church is continuing to accompany the various pastoral and social initiatives for their benefit with love and solidarity, reserving special attention for those who are suffering, in the awareness that it is precisely in suffering that a special strength is concealed, a special grace which brings the human being inwardly closer to Christ.

Dear hearing-impaired brothers and sisters, you are not only recipients of the Gospel message but also legitimately heralds of it, by virtue of your Baptism. Thus you live every day as witnesses of the Lord in your living contexts, making Christ and his Gospel known. In this Year for Priests, you are also praying for vocations, so that the Lord will inspire numerous good ministries for the growth of the ecclesial community.

Dear friends, I thank you for this encounter and entrust all of you who are present here to the motherly protection of Mary, Mother of Love, Star of Hope, Our Lady of Silence. With these wishes, I cordially impart to you the Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to your families and to all the associations which actively work at the service of the hearing-impaired.

© Copyright 2009 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Social Doctrine Group

"Economic and Financial Paradigms … Must Be Rethought"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2009.- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday upon receiving in audience members of the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, which promotes the social doctrine of the Church.

* * *

Venerable brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood,

Illustrious and dear friends!

Thank you for your visit that you are making on the occasion of your annual meeting. I greet all of you with affection and am grateful to you for what you do, with proven generosity, at the service of the Church. I greet and thank Count Lorenzo Rossi di Montelera, your president, who interpreted your sentiments with refined sensibility, expounding the foundation's activities with broad brush strokes. I also thank those who, in different languages, wanted to present me with an attestation of their common devotion. Your gathering today assumes a significance and particular value in light of the situation that all of humanity is experiencing in this moment.

In effect, the financial crisis that has struck the industrialized nations, the emergent nations and those that are developing, shows in a clear way how the economic and financial paradigms that have been dominant in recent years must be rethought. Your foundation has done well, then, to confront, in the international conference that took place yesterday, the theme of the pursuit and identification of the values and guidelines that the economic world must stick to in order to bring into being a new model of development that is more attentive to the demands of solidarity and more respectful of human dignity.

I am happy to see that you have especially examined the interdependency between institutions, society and the market, beginning -- in accord with the encyclical "Centesimus Annus" of my venerable predecessor John Paul II -- from the reflection according to which the market economy, understood as "an economic system which recognizes the fundamental and positive role of business, the market, private property and the resulting responsibility for the means of production, as well as free human creativity in the economic sector" (No. 42), can only be recognized as a way of economic and civil progress if it is oriented to the common good (cf. No. 43). Such a vision, however, must also be accompanied by another reflection according to which freedom in the economic sector must situate itself "within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality," a responsible freedom "the core of which is ethical and religious" (No. 42). This encyclical opportunely affirms that: "The person fully realizes himself in the free gift of self, so too ownership morally justifies itself in the creation, at the proper time and in the proper way, of opportunities for work and human growth for all" (No. 43).

I hope the research developed by your work, inspired by the eternal principles of the Gospel, will elaborate a vision of the modern economy that is respectful of the needy and of the rights of the weak. As you know, my encyclical on the vast theme of economics and labor will soon be published: It will highlight what, for us Christians, are the objectives to be pursued and the values to be promoted and tirelessly defended, with the purpose of realizing a truly free and solidary human coexistence.

I also note with pleasure what you are doing on behalf of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, to whose aim, an aim which you share, I attribute great value for an increasingly fruitful interreligious dialogue.

Dear friends, thank you once again for your visit; I assure each of you a remembrance in prayer as I bless you all from my heart.


Papal Address to Rome's Politicians
"Christianity Brings a Luminous Message on the Truth About Man and the Church"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 16, 2009 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave March 9 to Rome's mayor and city administrators at the seat of the municipal government on the Capotiline Hill.

* * *

Mr Mayor,
Mr President of the Municipal Council,

Ladies and Gentlemen, Assessors and Councillors of the Municipality of Rome,

Distinguished Authorities,
Dear Friends,

As has been recalled, it is not the first time that a Pope has been welcomed with such warmth at this Senatorial Palace and has taken the floor in this solemn council hall, the meeting place of the most important representatives of the municipal administration. The annals of history first record the brief Visit of Blessed Pius IX to Piazza del Campidoglio, Capitoline Square, after his Visit to the Basilica of Ara Coeli on 16 September 1870. The Visit by Pope Paul VI, made on 16 April 1966, is much more recent and it was followed by that of my venerable Predecessor John Paul II, on 15 January 1998. These gestures witness to the affection and esteem that the Successors of Peter, Pastors of the Roman Catholic community and of the universal Church, have always felt for Rome, the centre of Latin and Christian civilization, a "welcoming mother of peoples" (cf. Prudentius, Liber Peristephanon, Poem 11, 191), and "a disciple of truth" (cf. Leo the Great, Tract. septem et nonaginta).

It is therefore with understandable emotion that I now take the floor during my Visit today. I speak first of all to express my gratitude, Mr Mayor, for the kind invitation to visit the Capitol which you addressed to me at the beginning of your mandate as Mayor of the City. I also thank you for the profound words interpreting the thoughts of those present with which you have welcomed me. I extend my greeting to the President of the Municipal Council, whom I thank for his noble sentiments, expressed also on behalf of his colleagues. I followed most attentively the reflections of both the Mayor and the President and I could see in them the determination of the Administration to serve this city, pointing to its true and integral material, social and spiritual wellbeing. I offer a cordial greeting lastly to the municipal authorities and councillors, to the government representatives, to the authorities and to the important figures, as well as to all the Roman citizens.

With my presence on this hill today, the seat and emblem of the history and role of Rome, I am anxious to renew the assurance of the fatherly attention that the Bishop of the Catholic community pays not only to its members but also to all Romans and all who come to the Capital from various parts of Italy and the world for reasons of religion, tourism or work, or to settle, integrating themselves into the fabric of the City. I am here today to encourage the difficult task you have as Administrators at the service of this unique metropolis. I am here to share in the expectations and hopes of the inhabitants, and to listen to their worries and problems, of whom you make yourselves responsible interpreters in this Senatorial Palace. It is the natural and dynamic centre of the projects with which, in the third millennium, the "building Palace" of Rome is teeming. Mr Mayor, I recognized in your discourse the firm intention to work to ensure that Rome continues to be a beacon of life and freedom, of moral civilization and sustainable development, promoted with respect for the dignity of every human being and his or her religious faith. I wish to assure you and your collaborators that, as always, the Catholic Church will never let her active support be wanting for any cultural and social initiative aimed at promoting the authentic good of every person and of the City as a whole. The gift of the Compendium of the Social Teaching of the Church, which I offer with affection to the Mayor and the Administrators, is intended as a sign of this collaboration.

Mr Mayor, Rome has always been a welcoming City. Especially in recent centuries, it has opened its civil and ecclesiastical university institutes and research centres to students from every part of the world. Returning to their countries, they are later called to assume roles and offices of high responsibility in various sectors of society as well as in the Church. Today, this City of ours, like Italy and the whole of humanity, finds itself facing unheard-of cultural, social and economic challenges because of the profound transformations and numerous changes which have occurred in recent decades. Rome has become increasingly populated by people who come from other nations and belong to different cultures and religious traditions. Consequently it now has the features of a multi-racial and multi-religious metropolis, in which integration is sometimes difficult and complex. On the part of the Catholic community, the sincere contribution to finding ever more suitable ways to safeguard the fundamental rights of the person with respect for legality will never lessen. I am also convinced, as you yourself said, Mr Mayor, that by drawing new sap from the roots of its history modeled by ancient law and the Christian faith Rome will be able to find the strength to demand respect for the rules of civil coexistence from all and to reject every form of intolerance and discrimination.

Allow me furthermore to point out that episodes of violence, deplored by all, show a deeper unrest. I would say that they are signs of the true spiritual impoverishment that afflicts the human heart today. The elimination of God and of his law as a condition for the achievement of human happiness has in no way reached its goal; on the contrary, it deprives human beings of the spiritual certainties and hope they need to face the daily difficulties and challenges. For example, when a wheel is disconnected from its central axle it loses its drive. Likewise, morals do not achieve their ultimate aim if they are not hinged on inspiration and submission to God, the source and judge of all good. In the face of the disturbing enfeeblement of the human and spiritual ideals that made Rome a "model" of civilization for the whole world, through the parish communities and other ecclesial structures the Church is becoming involved in a far-reaching educational effort, striving to make people, and in particular the new generations, discover those perennial values once again. In the post-modern era, if Rome wants to champion a new humanism centred on the question of the human being recognized in his full reality, it must recover its deepest soul, its civil and Christian roots. The human being cut off from God would be deprived of his transcendent vocation. Christianity brings a luminous message on the truth about man and the Church, which is the depositary of this message, is aware of her responsibility with regard to contemporary culture.

How many other things I would like to say now! As Bishop of this City I cannot forget that even in Rome, because of the current economic crisis that I mentioned earlier, an increasing number of people are losing their jobs. They are finding themselves in such precarious conditions that sometimes they cannot cope with the financial commitments they have made; I am thinking, for example, of those buying or renting a house. Therefore, a unanimous effort between the various Institutions in order to help those who live in poverty is required. The Christian community, through the parishes and other charitable structures, is already involved in providing daily support for numerous families that are toiling to maintain a dignified standard of living and, as has recently happened, is ready to collaborate with the authorities responsible for the common good. In this case, too, the values of solidarity and generosity that are deeply rooted in the hearts of Romans can be sustained by the light of the Gospel, in order that all may reassume responsibility for the needs of those in the worst hardship, so that they may feel they belong to a single family. In fact, the greater each citizen's awareness is that he is personally responsible for the life and future of our City's inhabitants, the greater will be his confidence that he can surmount the difficulties of the present time.

And what can be said of families, children and youth? Thank you, Mr Mayor, because on the occasion of my Visit, you have offered me as a gift a sign of hope for youth, giving it my name, that of an elderly Pontiff who looks trustingly to the young people and prays for them every day. Families and youth can hope in a better future to the extent that individualism leaves room for sentiments of fraternal collaboration among all the members of civil society and of the Christian community. May this new institution also be an incentive for Rome to weave a social fabric of acceptance and respect, where the encounter between culture and faith, between social life and religious testimony cooperates to form communities that are truly free and enlivened by sentiments of peace. The "Observatory for religious freedom" which you have just mentioned will also be able to make a unique contribution to this.

Mr Mayor, dear friends, at the end of my Discourse, permit me to turn my gaze to the Madonna and Child, which for several centuries has watched maternally over the work of the Municipal Administration in this hall. I entrust to her each one of you, your work and the resolutions of good that motivate you. May you all be always in agreement at the service of this beloved city, in which the Lord has called me to carry out the episcopal ministry. Upon each one of you, I wholeheartedly invoke an abundance of divine Blessings, as I assure you all of my remembrance in prayer. Thank you for your hospitality!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address on Capitoline Hill

"The Heart of Rome Is a Poetic Heart"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave March 9 to the people gathered in the square outside the senatorial palace at the Capitoline Hill.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

After meeting the Administrators of the City, I am very glad to offer my cordial greeting to all of you who have gathered on this square on the Capitoline Hill, towards which the colonnade, with which Bernini completed the splendid structure of the Vatican Basilica, reaches out embracing it in spirit.

Having lived for so many years in Rome, by now I have become somewhat Roman; but I feel more Roman as your Bishop. Thus with deeper participation I address my thoughts, through each one of you, to all "our" fellow citizens, who in a certain way you are representing today: to the families, communities and parishes, to the children, to the young and the old and to the disabled and the sick, to the volunteers, to the social workers, the immigrants and pilgrims. I thank the Cardinal Vicar who has accompanied me on my Visit and I encourage all those priests, consecrated and lay people who actively collaborate with the public Administrations for the good of Rome, its suburbs and bordering towns, to persevere in their commitment.

A few days ago, while I was speaking with the parish priests and clergy of Rome, I said that the heart of Rome is a "poetic heart", to stress that beauty is as it were "a natural privilege... a natural charism". Rome is beautiful because of the vestiges of her antiquity, the cultural institutions and monuments that tell of her history, the churches and their numerous artistic masterpieces. However, Rome is beautiful above all because of the generosity and holiness of so many of her children who have left eloquent traces of their passion for the beauty of God, the beauty of love that does not age or wither. The Apostles Peter and Paul were witnesses to this, as were the throng of martyrs at the beginning of Christianity; many men and women who Roman by birth or by adoption did their utmost through the centuries to serve young people, the sick, the poor and all the needy. I limit myself to mentioning but a few: St Lawrence the Deacon, St Frances of Rome, whose feast is celebrated today, St Philip Neri, St Gaspare del Bufalo, St Giovanni Battista de Rossi, St Vincent Pallotti, Bl. Anna Maria Taigi and the husband and wife Blesseds Luigi and Maria Beltrami Quattrocchi. Their example shows that when a person encounters Christ he does not withdraw into himself but is open to the needs of others and, in every social milieu, puts the good of others before his own interests.

There is a real need for such men and women in our time too because many families and many young people and adults are in precarious and sometimes even dramatic situations; these situations can only be overcome together, as Rome's history, which knew many a difficult time, also teaches. In this regard, a verse by Ovid, the great Latin poet, springs to mind. In one of his elegies he encouraged the Romans of his time with these words: "Perfer et obdura: multo graviora tulisti hold out and persist: you have got through far more difficult situations"(cf. Trist., lib. v, el. xi v. 7). In addition to the necessary solidarity and the proper commitment of all, we can always count on the unfailing help of God who never abandons his children.

Dear friends, when you return to your homes, your communities and your parishes, tell everyone you meet that the Pope assures them all of his understanding, his spiritual closeness and his prayers. Please bring each one, especially the sick, the suffering and those in the most difficult situations my remembrance and God's Blessing, which I now impart to you through the intercession of Sts Peter and Paul, St Frances of Rome, Co-Patron of Rome. And especially of Mary Salus populi romani. May God bless and protect Rome and all its inhabitants always!

© Copyright 2009 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Charitable Groups
"By Combating Poverty We Give Greater Possibility to Peace"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2009 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's address today to members of the "Pro Petri Sede" and "Etrennes Pontificales" charitable associations. The groups hail from Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I am especially pleased to receive you on the occasion of the pilgrimage that you undertake every other year to the tomb of the apostles, to ask the Lord to strengthen your faith and bless your efforts to give generous witness of his love.

The Pauline year offers us the occasion, through meditation on the word of the Apostles to the Gentiles, to be acutely conscious that the Church is a Body, through which the very life of Jesus circulates -- hence the fact that every member of the ecclesial body is united in a very profound way to all the others, and cannot ignore their needs. Nourished by the same Eucharistic Bread, the baptized cannot be indifferent when bread is lacking on men's tables. Again this year you have accepted the call to enlarge your hearts to the needs of the disinherited, so that the members of the Body of Christ affected by poverty are alleviated and thus become more alive and free to give witness of the Good News.

By entrusting the fruit of your collection to the Successor of Peter, you enable him to exercise concrete and active charity, which is the sign of his solicitude for all the Churches, for all the baptized, and for all men. I sincerely thank you on behalf of all those persons who will be sustained by your generosity in the struggle against the evils that threaten their dignity. By combating poverty we give greater possibility to peace so that it will enter and take root in hearts.

Entrusting you and your loved ones to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, I impart to you from my heart the apostolic blessing, as well as to the members of your associations and their families.


Papal Address to Family Meeting
"It Is in the Home Where One Learns to Truly Live"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 19, 2009 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI gave via video linkup at the conclusion of Sunday's closing Mass of the 6th World Meeting of Families. The world meeting was held last week in Mexico City.

* * *

Dear brothers and sisters:

I greet all of you with affection at the end of this solemn Eucharistic celebration with which the 6th World Meeting of Families is concluding in Mexico City. I give thanks to God for so many families that, without counting the cost, have gathered around the altar of the Lord.

I greet in a special way the Cardinal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone, who has presided over this celebration as my legate. I want to express my affection and my gratitude to Cardinal Ennio Antonelii and to the members of the Pontifical Council for the Family, over which he presides, to the Cardinal Archbishop Primate of Mexico, Norberto Rivera Carrera, and the central commission that has been responsible for the organization of this 6th World Meeting. My recognition goes to all those who with their abnegated dedication and surrender have made its fulfillment possible.

I also greet the cardinals and bishops present in this celebration, in particular those of the Mexican episcopal conference, and the authorities of this dear nation, who generously have welcomed and made possible this important event.

The Mexican people know well that they are very close to the heart of the Pope. I think of them and I present to God the Father their joys and hopes, their projects and concerns. In Mexico, the Gospel has taken deep roots, forging its traditions and culture, and the identity of its noble people. This rich patrimony must be protected so that it continues being a spring of moral and spiritual energies to courageously and creatively face the challenges of today and so that it can be offered as a precious gift to new generations.

I have participated with joy and interest in this World Meeting, above all with my prayer, giving specific guidelines and attentively following its preparation and development. Today, through the communications media, I have spiritually made a pilgrimage to this Marian shrine, heart of Mexico and of all of America, so as to entrust all the families of the world to Our Lady of Guadalupe.

2. This World Meeting of Families has aimed to encourage Christian homes so that their members be free persons, rich in human and Gospel values, on the way toward sanctity, which is the best service that Christians can offer today's society. The Christian response to the challenges that must be confronted by families and human life in general, consists in intensifying trust in the Lord and the vigor that springs from one's faith, which is nourished by attentive listening to the Word of God. How beautiful it is to gather as a family to allow God to speak to the hearts of the members through his living and effective Word. In prayer, especially with the praying of the rosary, as was done yesterday, the family contemplates the mysteries of the life of Jesus, interiorizes the values that it meditates and feels called to incarnate them in their lives.

3. The family is an indispensable base for society and for peoples, as well as an irreplaceable good for children, worthy of coming into life as a fruit of love, of the parents' total and generous surrender. As Jesus showed in honoring the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, the family occupies a primary place in the education of the person. It is a true school of humanity and perennial values. No one has given being to himself. We have received life from others, which is developed and matured with the truths and values that we learn in relation and communion with the rest. In this sense, the family founded on the indissoluble matrimony between a man and a woman expresses this relational, filial and communitarian dimension, and is the realm where man can be born with dignity, grow and develop in an integral way (cf. Homily in the Holy Mass of the 5th World Meeting of Families, Valencia, July 9, 2006).

Nevertheless, this education task is made difficult by a deceptive concept of liberty, in which whims and the subjective impulses of the individual are exalted to the point of leaving each one locked within the prison of his own "I." The true liberty of the human being comes from having been created in the image and likeness of God, and therefore should be exercised with responsibility, always opting for the true good so that it becomes love, gift of self. For this, more than theories, the intimacy and love characteristic of the familial community are needed. It is in the home where one learns to truly live, to value life and health, liberty and peace, justice and truth, work, concord and respect.

4. Today more than ever is needed the testimony and public commitment of all the baptized to reaffirm the dignity and the unique and irreplaceable value of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman and open to life, as well as the [value] of human life in all its stages. Legislative and administrative measures that support families in their inalienable rights, necessary to carry forward their extraordinary mission, should also be promoted. The testimonies presented in yesterday's celebration show that today, too, the family can show itself to be firm in the love of God and renew humanity in the new millennium.

5. I want to express my closeness and assure my prayers for all families that give a testimony of fidelity in especially difficult circumstances. I encourage numerous families that, living sometimes in the midst of contradictions and incomprehension, give an example of generosity and trust in God, expressing my desire that needed help is not lacking for them. I think also of the families that suffer poverty, illness, marginalization or emigration. And very especially of the Christian families that are persecuted because of their faith. The Pope is very close to all of you and he accompanies you in your efforts of every day.

6. Before concluding this meeting, it pleases me to announce that that 7th World Meeting of Families will take place, God willing, in Italy, in the city of Milan, in 2012, with the theme, "Family, Work and Celebration." I sincerely thank Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, archbishop of Milan, for his hospitality in accepting this important commitment.

I entrust all the families of the world to the protection of the Most Holy Virgin, so highly venerated in the noble Mexican land in her image from Guadalupe. To her, who always reminds us that our happiness is in doing the will of Christ (cf. John 2:5), I say now:

Most Holy Mother of Guadalupe
who has shown your love and tenderness
to the peoples of the American continent,
shower with joy and hope all the peoples
and all the families of the world.

To you, who goes before [us] and guides our journey in the faith
toward the eternal homeland,
we entrust the joys, the projects,
the concerns and the desires of every family.

Oh Mary,
to you we turn, trusting in your motherly tenderness;
do not ignore the petitions we direct to you
for the families of all the world
in this crucial period of history.
Instead, gather all of us in your maternal heart
and accompany us in our journey to the celestial home.



Papal Message to Cyprus Meeting

Peace "Is at the Same Time a Gift and a Task"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 17, 2008 - Here is the text of a message sent by Benedict XVI through his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the 22nd International Meeting of Prayer for Peace. The Oct. 31 message was made available Sunday, the first day of the meeting.

These annual international meetings are sponsored by the Sant'Egidio Community and are a follow-up to the World Day of Prayer for Peace convened in Assisi by Pope John Paul II on Oct. 27, 1986. This year's event is cosponsored by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus and ends Tuesday.

* * *
To Prof. Andrea Riccardi
Community of Sant'Egidio

Dear Professor,

I have the honour to convey to You the cordial greetings of His Holiness for the International Meeting of Prayer for Peace. Greetings which You will undoubtedly extend with affection to all those taking part in the works on the theme of The Civilization of Peace: Faiths and Cultures in Dialogue.

The current meeting, promoted by the Community of Sant'Egidio and by the Orthodox Church of Cyprus, gathering together personalities from Europe, Africa and Central America for three days in the heart of the Mediterranean Sea, takes place twenty-two years after the historical World Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, convened by the Servant of God John Paul II. On that memorable occasion our beloved Pope urged those present and the world at large to live that precious time close to Saint Francis as a moment of mutual listening, an opportunity to "clear away the fog of suspicion and misunderstanding" and ask God our Father for the precious gift of peace.

Also your meeting is certainly a powerful experience of communion; it will open up a wider vision of reality and give rise to dialogue between brothers; it represents, furthermore, a moment of true, real and mutual understanding of each other's differences, as well as of the peculiarities and elements that we share. Only through dialogue and sincere efforts it is possible to be integrated in this "multiform and multifaceted linguistic cosmos" within the precious chest of Creation, which is entrusted to the common responsibility and good of every human being.

We are profoundly convinced that peace, as the Holy Father Benedict XVI reminds us, "is at the same time a gift and a task".

While hoping that the International Meeting of prayer for Peace may offer its participants the chance of future dialogue and common growth, the Holy Father ensures He shall remember it in His prayers. He encourages to keep up the flame of peace, nourished by daily gestures of brotherly love and friendship, and He wholeheartedly conveys to everyone a special Apostolic Blessing.

I am glad to add my heartfelt wishes for the success of the International Meeting and I take this opportunity to convey to You and to the participants by best regards.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State


Benedict XVI on John Paul II and Vatican II
"A Qualified Interpreter and Coherent Witness"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2008- Here is the address Benedict XVI sent Oct. 28 to the international congress on the theme "The Second Vatican Council in the Pontificate of John Paul II." The event was sponsored by the St. Bonaventure Theological Faculty and the Institute for Documentation and Study of the Pontificate of John Paul II.

* * *

To the Most Reverend Father Marco Tasca
Minister General of the Friars Minor Conventual and Grand Chancellor
of The Pontifical Theological Faculty of St Bonaventure Seraphicum

I learned with joy that the Pontifical Theological Faculty, together with the Institute for Documentation and Study of the Pontificate of John Paul II, has chosen to promote an International Congress on the theme "The Second Vatican Council in the Pontificate of John Paul II". With this initiative the Theological Faculty's intention among other things, is to develop a deeper reflection on the current situation of the Church in view of the celebration of the eighth centenary of the Rule that St Francis presented to Pope Innocent III in 1209, for which he received verbal approval. With this important scientific event the Institute for Documentation and Study proposes to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the election of Karol Wojtyla to the See of Peter with a view to making better known the great Pontiff's teaching and love for the Church in the historical and theological context of the Council which was so dear to his heart.

Dear Minister General, as I address my cordial greeting to you, I ask you to express to your Conventual Confreres, the Professors of the Athenaeum, the Director and Members of the Institute and all who are taking part in the Congress the sentiments of fatherly affection that I feel for each one of them.

I can only rejoice at the choice of a theme that unites two topics of quite special interest to me: on the one hand, the Second Vatican Council, in which I had the honour of taking part as an expert and on the other, the figure of my beloved Predecessor John Paul II who made a significant personal contribution to that Council as a Council Father and subsequently, by God's will, became its first executor during the years of his Pontificate. In this context it seems only right also to recall that the Council sprang from the great heart of Pope John XXIII, the 50th anniversary of whose election to the Chair of Peter we are commemorating today, 28 October. I said that the Council sprang from John XXIII's heart, yet it would be more accurate to say that ultimately, like all the great events in the Church's history, it came from the Heart of God, from his saving will: "God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3: 16). To make divine salvation accessible to contemporary man was Pope John XXIII's main reason for convoking the Council, and the Fathers worked with this in mind. For this very reason, "As the years have passed, the Conciliar Documents" as I recalled on 20 April 2005, the day after my election to the Pontificate, "have lost none of their timeliness; indeed, their teachings are proving particularly relevant to the new situation of the Church and the current globalized society" (Message to Cardinals, 20 April 2005).

In practically all his documents, and especially in his decisions and his behaviour as Pontiff, John Paul II accepted the fundamental petitions of the Second Vatican Council, thus becoming a qualified interpreter and coherent witness of it. His constant concern was to make known to all the advantages that could stem from acceptance of the Conciliar vision, not only for the good of the Church but also for that of civil society itself and of the people working in it. "We have contracted a debt to the Holy Spirit", he said in his Reflection prior to the Angelus on 6 October 1985, referring to the extraordinary session of the Synod of Bishops which was about to be celebrated precisely in order to reflect on the Church's response during the 20 years that had passed since the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council. "We have contracted a debt to the Spirit of Christ.... This, in fact, is the Spirit who speaks to the Churches (cf. Rv 2: 7); during the Council and by means of it, his word has become particularly expressive and decisive for the Church" (ore, 14 October 1985, p. 12).

We are all truly indebted to him for this extraordinary ecclesial event. The multiple doctrinal legacy that we find in its Dogmatic Constitutions, Declarations and Decrees still stimulates us to deepen our knowledge of the Word of God in order to apply it to the Church in the present day, keeping clearly in mind the many needs of the men and women of the contemporary world who are extremely in need of knowing and experiencing the light of Christian hope. The Synod of Bishops that has just ended placed these needs at the centre of its own rich and fruitful reflections, reaffirming the hope expressed in the past by the Constitution Dei Verbum: "So may it come that, by the reading and study of the sacred books, "the Word of God may speed on and triumph' (2 Thes 3: 1), and the treasure of the Revelation entrusted to the Church may more and more fill the hearts of men" (n. 26), bringing them the salvation of God and with it authentic happiness.

This is a commitment that I am pleased to entrust in particular to you, dear Professors of the Pontifical Theological Faculty, who venerate the Seraphic Doctor St Bonaventure as its heavenly Patron. In the wealth of his thought, St Bonaventure can offer interpretative keys which are still up-to-date and with which you may approach the Conciliar Documents to seek in them satisfactory answers to the many questions of our time. The anxiety for humanity's salvation which motivated the Council Fathers, guiding their commitment in the search for solutions to the numerous problems of the day was equally alive in St Bonaventure's heart as he faced the hopes and anguish of the people of his own time. On the other hand, since the basic questions that man carries in his heart do not change with the changing of times, the answers the Seraphic Doctor attained have remained substantially applicable also in our day. In particular, the Itinerarium mentis in Deum that St Bonaventure composed in 1259 has remained valid. Although it is a guide to the heights of mystical theology, this precious little book also speaks to all Christians of what is essential in their lives. The ultimate goal of all our activities must be communion with the living God. Thus, for the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council too, the ultimate aim of all the individual aspects of the Church's renewal was to lead the faithful to the living God revealed in Jesus Christ.

I am certain that the Pontifical Faculty of St Bonaventure and the Institute for Documentation and Study on the Pontificate of John Paul II will continue to develop their reflection on the Conciliar texts, also availing themselves of the insights shared during this Congress. I assure you in this regard of the support of my prayers and, as a pledge of heavenly illumination for work that will yield abundant fruit, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to you, Most Reverend Minister General, to the Relators of the Congress and to all the participants, as well as to the John Paul II Foundation which generously contributed to it.

From the Vatican, 28 October 2008



Papal Message to "Humanae Vitae" Congress
"Only the Eyes of the Heart Can Understand the Demands of Great Love"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2008 - Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI to the participants of the international congress "Humanae Vitae: Current Importance and Prophecy of an Encyclical," which began today at the Catholic University of Rome. The congress was organized by the Pontifical Institute John Paul II for Studies on Marriage and Family and the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.

* * *

To Monsignor Livio Melina
Director of the "John Paul II" Pontifical Institute
For Studies on Marriage and the Family

I have learned with joy that the Pontifical Institute, of which you are director, and the Catholic University of the "Sacro Cuore" have organized, opportunely, an international congress on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the publication of the encyclical "Humanae Vitae," an important document which addresses one of the essential aspects of the marital vocation and of the specific path of holiness that follows from it. The spouses, in fact, having received the gift of love, are called to become in turn gift to one another without reservations. Only thus the acts proper and exclusive to the spouses are really acts of love that, while uniting them in one flesh, build a genuine personal communion. Hence, the logic of the totality of the gift configures conjugal love intrinsically and, thanks to the sacramental effusion of the Holy Spirit, becomes the means to realize in one's life a genuine conjugal charity.

The possibility to create a new human life is included in the integral donation of the spouses. If, in fact, every form of love tends to spread the fullness of which it lives, conjugal love has its own form of communicating itself: the generation of children. Thus not only is it similar to, but it participates in the love of God, who wills to communicate himself by calling human persons to life. To exclude this communicative dimension through an action directed to prevent procreation means to deny the profound truth of spousal love, with which the divine gift is communicated: "If one does not wish to expose to the free will of men the mission to generate life, insurmountable limits must necessarily be recognized to the possibility of man's dominion over his own body and its functions; limits that no man, both private as well as invested with authority, can licitly infringe" ("Humanae Vitae," 17). This is the essential nucleus of the teaching that my venerated predecessor Paul VI addressed to spouses, and that the Servant of God John Paul II, in turn, reaffirmed on many occasions, illuminating its anthropological and moral foundation.

At a distance of 40 years since the publication of the encyclical, we can better understand how decisive this light is to understand the great "yes" that conjugal love implies. In this light, children are no longer the object of a human project, but recognized as a genuine gift to receive, with an attitude of responsible generosity before God, first source of human life. This great "yes" to the beauty of love certainly entails gratitude, both of the parents on receiving the gift of a child, and of the child himself on knowing that his life has its origin in such great and receptive love.

It is true, on the other hand, that in the path of the couple there can be grave circumstances which make it prudent to delay the birth of children or even suspend it. And it is here that knowledge of the natural rhythms of the woman's fertility become important for the life of the spouses. The methods of observation, which allow the couple to determine the periods of fertility, allow them to administer all that the Creator has widely inscribed in human nature, without disturbing the integral meaning of sexual donation. In this way, the spouses, respecting the full truth of their love, will be able to modulate its expression in conformity with these rhythms, without taking away anything from the totality of the gift of themselves that the union of the flesh expresses. Obviously, this requires maturity in love, which is not immediate, but which needs reciprocal dialogue and listening and a singular control of the sexual impulse on a path of growth in virtue.

In this perspective, knowing that the congress is also taking place at the initiative of the Catholic University of the "Sacro Cuore," I am also pleased to express my particular appreciation for all that this university institution does in support of the Paulus VI International Scientific Research Institute on Human Fertility and Infertility for a Responsible Procreation (ISI), presented to my unforgettable predecessor, Pope John Paul II, hoping in this way to give an institutionalized answer, so to speak, to the appeal made by Pope Paul VI in No. 24 of the encyclical "to the men of science."

ISI's task, in fact, is to make progress of the methods both of natural regulation of human fertility as well as the natural overcoming of infertility. Today, "thanks to the progress of biological and medical sciences, man can make use of ever more effective therapeutic resources, but also obtain new powers of unforeseeable consequences on human life from its very beginning and its first stages" (Instruction "Donum Vitae," 1). In this perspective, "Many researchers are engaged in the fight against sterility. While fully safeguarding the dignity of human procreation, some have achieved results which previously seemed unattainable. Scientists therefore are to be encouraged to continue their research with the aim of preventing the causes of sterility and of being able to remedy them so that sterile couples will be able to procreate in full respect for their own personal dignity and that of the child to be born" (Instruction "Donum Vitae," 8). This is precisely the end that the Paul VI ISI and other similar centers intend to do with the support of the ecclesiastical authority.

We can ask ourselves, how is it possible that today the world, and also many of the faithful, find so much difficulty in understanding the message of the Church, which illustrates and defends the beauty of conjugal love in its natural manifestation? Certainly, the technical solution, also in important human questions, often seems to be the easiest, but in reality it conceals the fundamental question, which refers to the meaning of human sexuality and to the need for responsible self-control, so that its exercise can become the expression of personal love.

On the contrary, as we well know, not even reason is sufficient: It is necessary that the heart see. Only the eyes of the heart can understand the demands of great love, able to embrace the totality of the human being. Because of this, the service that the Church offers in its marriage and family pastoral care must be able to direct couples to understand with the heart the wonderful design that God has inscribed in the human body, helping them to accept all that is entailed in a genuine path of maturing.

The congress you are holding represents, because of this, an important moment of reflection and attention for couples and for families, offering the fruit of years of research, both on the anthropological and ethical part as on the strictly scientific part, in regard to truly responsible procreation. In the light of this I cannot but congratulate you, hoping that this work will bring abundant fruits and contribute to support spouses with ever-greater wisdom and clarity on their path, encouraging them in their mission of being, in the world, credible witnesses of the beauty of love.

With these wishes, while I invoke the help of the Lord on the development of the congress, I send all a special apostolic blessing.

In the Vatican, Oct. 2, 2008



Pope's Address to Knights of Columbus
"Serve As a Leaven of the Gospel in the World"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 3, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience members of the administrative council of the Knights of Columbus. The Knights are on pilgrimage in Rome in the context of the Pauline Jubilee Year.

* * *

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you, the Board of Directors of the Knights of Columbus, together with your families, on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome in this Pauline Year. I pray that your visit to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul will confirm you in the faith of the Apostles and fill your hearts with gratitude for the gift of our redemption in Christ.

At the beginning of his Letter to the Romans, Saint Paul reminds his hearers that they are "called to holiness" (Rom 1:7). During my recent Pastoral Visit to the United States, I wished to encourage the lay faithful, above all, to recommit themselves to growth in holiness and active participation in the Church's mission. This was the vision that inspired the foundation of the Knights of Columbus as a fraternal association of Christian laymen, and it continues to find privileged expression in your Order's charitable works and your concrete solidarity with the Successor of Peter in his ministry to the universal Church. That solidarity is manifested in a particular way by the "Vicarius Christi" Fund, which the Knights have placed at the disposal of the Holy See for the needs of God's People throughout the world. And it is also shown through the daily prayers and sacrifices of so many Knights in their local Councils, parishes and communities. For this I am most grateful.

Dear friends, in the spirit of your founder, the Venerable Michael McGivney, may the Knights of Columbus discover ever new ways to serve as a leaven of the Gospel in the world and a force for the renewal of the Church in holiness and apostolic zeal. In this regard, I express my appreciation of your efforts to provide a solid formation in the faith for young people, and to defend the moral truths necessary for a free and humane society, including the fundamental right to life of every human being.

With these sentiments, dear friends, I assure you of a special remembrance in my prayers. To all the Knights and their families, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing, as a pledge of lasting joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address on Pius XII Symposium
"Not All the Genuine Facets Have Been Examined In a Just Light"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 - Here is the text of Benedict XVI's address today to Gary Krupp, the president of the Pave the Way Foundation, which organized a symposium on the papacy of Pope Pius XII.

The symposium was held Monday through Wednesday.

* * *

Dear Mr Krupp,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to meet with you at the conclusion of the important symposium organized by the Pave the Way Foundation. I know that many eminent scholars have participated in this reflection on the numerous works of my beloved predecessor - the Servant of God Pope Pius XII - accomplished during the difficult period around the time of the second world war. I warmly welcome each of you especially Mr Gary Krupp, President of the Foundation, whom I thank for the kind words expressed on your behalf. I am grateful to him for informing me how your work has been undertaken during the symposium. You have analyzed without bias the events of history and concerned yourselves only with seeking the truth. I also greet those accompanying you on this visit, as well as your family members and loved ones at home.

The focus of your study has been the person and the tireless pastoral and humanitarian work of Pius XII, "Pastor Angelicus." Fifty years have passed since his pious death here at Castel Gandolfo early on the ninth of October 1958, after a debilitating disease. This anniversary provides an important opportunity to deepen our knowledge of him, to meditate on his rich teaching and to analyze thoroughly his activities. So much has been written and said of him during these last five decades and not all of the genuine facets of his diverse pastoral activity have been examined in a just light. The aim of your symposium has been precisely to address some of these deficiencies, conducting a careful and documented examination of many of his interventions, especially those in favour of the Jews who in those years were being targeted all over Europe, in accordance with the criminal plan of those who wanted to eliminate them from the face of the earth. When one draws close to this noble Pope, free from ideological prejudices, in addition to being struck by his lofty spiritual and human character one is also captivated by the example of his life and the extraordinary richness of his teaching. One can also come to appreciate the human wisdom and pastoral intensity which guided him in his long years of ministry, especially in providing organized assistance to the Jewish people.

Thanks to the vast quantity of documented material which you have gathered, supported by many authoritative testimonies, your symposium offers to the public forum the possibility of knowing more fully what Pius XII achieved for the Jews persecuted by the Nazi and fascist regimes. One understands, then, that wherever possible he spared no effort in intervening in their favour either directly or through instructions given to other individuals or to institutions of the Catholic Church. In the proceedings of your convention you have also drawn attention to his many interventions, made secretly and silently, precisely because, given the concrete situation of that difficult historical moment, only in this way was it possible to avoid the worst and save the greatest number of Jews. This courageous and paternal dedication was recognized and appreciated during and after the terrible world conflict by Jewish communities and individuals who showed their gratitude for what the Pope had done for them. One need only recall Pius XII's meeting on the 29th of November 1945 with eighty delegates of German concentration camps who during a special Audience granted to them at the Vatican, wished to thank him personally for his generosity to them during the terrible period of Nazi-fascist persecution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, thank you for your visit and for the research you have undertaken. Thanks also to the Pave the Way Foundation for its ongoing activity in promoting relationships and dialogue between religions, as witnesses of peace, charity and reconciliation. It is my great hope that this year, which marks the fiftieth-anniversary of my venerated predecessor's death, will provide the opportunity to promote in-depth studies of various aspects of his life and his works in order to come to know the historical truth, overcoming every remaining prejudice. With these sentiments I invoke upon you and the proceedings of your symposium an abundance of divine blessings.


Pave the Way Foundation's Address to Pope
Working to "End the Malevolent and the Illegal Use of Religion"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 18, 2008 - Here is the address Gary Krupp, president of the Pave the Way Foundation, gave today upon meeting Benedict XVI at the apostolic palace of Castel Gandolfo, south of Rome.

The Pope granted an audience to the participants of the congress "Examining the Papacy of Pope Pius XII," which was organized by the foundation. The three-day symposium ended Wednesday.

* * *

You Holiness, The mission of Pave the Way Foundation is to end the malevolent and the illegal use of religion. We begin this process by establishing credible and trusted relationships through our historic gestures of good will and with the identification and elimination of obstacles between the faiths.

Some examples of our projects are that we worked for over 20 years to help the equipment acquisition of the hospital of St. Padre Pio here in Italy. We worked behind the scenes to remove obstacles and to move the fundamental agreements with the Israeli government and the Holy See. We initiated the Jewish thank you to Pope John Paul II for his efforts to achieve religious reconciliation. We brought the manuscripts of Maimonides for the first time in history from the Vatican Library to the state of Israel, and in 2007, we implemented the gift to your library of the oldest manuscripts of the Gospels of St. John and St. Luke, the Bodmer papyrus.

Your Holiness, for all of these benevolent projects I wish recognize, in your presence, one who has dedicated over 20 years behind the scenes to help us to complete this vital work: Doctor Rolando Clementoni.

In the furtherance of our mission, Pave the Way has identified the papacy of Pope Pius XII as a source of friction and misunderstanding. Accordingly, we have undertaken an independent investigation to identify significant documents and to video record eyewitness testimony. I wish to report to you that results of this investigation are stunning, and directly contradict the negative perception of the Pope's wartime activities.

All of the documented material that we have gathered, including the transcript of our just completed three-day symposium, will be turned over to your pontifical institutions and to the internationally recognized Holocaust centers for further study.

Based on their review of these new materials, and in the interest of maintaining their historical integrity and accuracy, we call upon these institutions to carefully review this new information in order to redefine the current perception on this papacy.

This year, for Catholics, Oct. 9, 2008, will be the commemoration the 50th anniversary of the death of Pope Pius XII, for Jews that date is also significant as it is our holiest Jewish holiday Yom Kippur, our Day of Atonement. May this providential date usher in a new effort to correct the historical record and bring to light the truth of this papacy.

I wish to close with a passage from a book written by Ambassador Pinchas Lapide, a former Israeli consul general in Italy, and a Jewish theologian: "No Pope in history has been thanked more heartily by Jews upon his death in 1958. Several suggested in open letters that a Pope Pius XII forest of 860,000 trees be planted on the hills of Judea in order to fittingly honor the memory of the late Pontiff, because the Catholic Church under the pontificate of Pius XII was instrumental in saving the lives of as many as 860,000 Jews from certain death at Nazi hands."

You Holiness, we humbly ask you to keep the mission of Pave the Way Foundation and its vital work to end the malevolent use of religion in your prayers, and thank you for allowing us this time today.


Papal Message to UN Prayer Meeting
"Urgent Tasks Facing the United Nations"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 17, 2008 - Here is the text of a telegram sent on behalf of Benedict XVI by his secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to the prayer service held Monday, the eve of the 63rd session of the U.N. General Assembly.

Cardinal Edward Egan, archbishop of New York, and Archbishop Celestino Migliore, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, led the prayer service.

* * *

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI sends cordial greetings to all taking part in the prayer service held on the eve of the 63rd session of the United Nations General Assembly. He joins the members of the diplomatic community and U.N. officials present in imploring from Almighty God the guidance and strength needed to carry out the urgent tasks facing the United Nations in the coming months, including the continuing implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, the NEPAD program and other initiatives aimed at ensuring that the whole human family shares in the benefits of globalization. Recalling with gratitude his visit to the General Assembly last April on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, His Holiness renews his appeal to international leaders to reappropriate the lofty moral vision and the transcendent principles of justice embodied in the United Nations' founding documents. With these sentiments the Holy Father invokes upon all in attendance an abundance of divine blessings, trusting that these moments of reflection and prayer will strengthen them in their commitment to upholding the dignity of each human person and building a world of ever greater solidarity, freedom and peace.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State


Pope's Message to Expo on Water
"An Essential and Indispensable Good"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 10, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino, representative of the Holy See to the Day of the Holy See at the international exposition on "Water and Sustainable Development," under way in Zaragoza, Spain.

* * *

I am pleased to send a Message of faith and hope to all whom, in these days, are visiting Expo Zaragoza 2008 which is dedicated to the complex topics related to the value of water for human life and for maintaining the balance between the different elements of our world. The Holy See has fittingly desired to be present at the Expo with a stand prepared jointly with the Archdiocese of Zaragoza. I thank the Archdiocese for its generous commitment to promoting appropriate cultural initiatives that bring the visitor closer to the immeasurable patrimony of spirituality, art and social wisdom inspired by water and preserved by the Catholic Church.

Indeed, we must be aware that water -- an essential and indispensable good that the Lord has given mankind in order to maintain and develop life -- is considered today, because of the pursuit and pressure of multiple social and economic factors, as a good that must be especially protected by means of clear national and international policies, and used in accordance with sensible criteria of solidarity and responsibility. The use of water -- that is valued as a universal and inalienable right -- is connected with the growing and peremptory needs of people who live in poverty, taking into account that "inadequate access to safe drinking water affects the well-being of a huge number of people and is often the cause of disease, suffering, conflicts, poverty and even death" (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 484).

With regard to the right to water, moreover, it should be stressed that this right is founded on the dignity of the human person; it is necessary in this perspective to examine attentively the approach of those who consider and treat water merely as an economic commodity. Its use must be rational and supportive, the result of a balanced synergy between the public and private sectors.

The fact that water today is considered principally as a material commodity must not make us forget the religious meanings that believing humanity, and especially Christianity, has developed on the basis of water, giving it great value as a precious immaterial good which never fails to enrich human life on this earth. How can we forget on this occasion the evocative message that binds us to the Sacred Scriptures, in which water is treated as a symbol of purification (cf. Ps 51[50]: 4; Jn 13: 8), and of life (cf. Jn 3: 5; Gal 3: 27)? The full recovery of this spiritual dimension guarantees and presupposes a rightly adapted approach by involved parties, within national and international spheres, to the ethical, political and economic problems regarding complex water management.

Together with my very best wishes that the Zaragoza Expo will inspire the appropriate thoughts in all who visit it and encourage the competent authorities to make opportune decisions on behalf of a good that is so essential to the life of the human being on earth, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to all, as a pledge of abundant heavenly gifts.

From the Vatican, 10 July, 2008.



Pope's Message to Rimini Meeting
"Christ Alone Can Reveal to Man His True Dignity"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 4, 2008 - Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to the 29th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, held Aug. 24-30 in Rimini, Italy. The statement, sent on the Pontiff's behalf by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, was addressed to Bishop Francesco Lambiasi of Rimini.

The annual event is organized by the lay movement Communion and Liberation.

* * *

Your Most Reverend Excellency,

On the occasion of the 29th Meeting for Friendship Among Peoples, scheduled to take place in Rimini from 24 to 30 August this year, I am pleased to convey to you, to the sponsors and to all the participants in this important event the cordial greeting of His Holiness Benedict XVI.

The provocative theme of the Meeting: "Either protagonists or nobodies," commands instant attention. Indeed, this was the organizers' precise intention: "to provoke thought on the concept of a person." What does being a protagonist of one's own life and of that of the world actually mean?

The question has become urgent today because the alternative to protagonism seems all too often to be a life without meaning, the grey anonymity of so many "nobodies" who get lost in the folds of an amorphous mass and unfortunately unable to emerge with a noteworthy face of their own.

Then the question should be more focused and could perhaps be rephrased: what does a face give a human being, what makes a person unmistakable and guarantees his/her existence full dignity?

The society and culture in which we are immersed and of which the media are a powerful sound box are largely dominated by the conviction that fame is an essential component of personal fulfillment. To emerge from anonymity, to succeed in imposing oneself on public attention with every possible means and pretext is the goal pursued by many.

Political or financial power, prestige acquired in one's profession, a display of wealth, the renown of one's own achievements, even the ostentation of one's own excesses... all this is quietly taken to be "success" and a "triumph" in life. That is why the new generations aspire increasingly to idealized professions and careers precisely because they bring them into the limelight, which enables them to "appear," to feel that they are "somebody." The ideal for which they strive is represented by cinema actors, the mythical celebrities of television and of the entertainment world, by athletes, soccer players, etc.

But what happens to those who have no access to this level of social visibility? What happens to those who are forgotten, if not actually crushed by the dynamics of worldly success on which the society they live in is based? What happens to those who are poor, defenseless, sick, elderly or disabled, those who have no talents to forge ahead among others or no means to cultivate them, who have no voice to make their own ideas and convictions heard? How should one perceive those who lead a hidden life, of no apparent importance to newspapers and television?

Contemporary men and women, like all people down the ages, strive for their own happiness and pursue it wherever they think they can find it. Here then is the real question the word "protagonism" conceals, which this year's Meeting proposes for our reflection: In what does happiness consist? What can truly help people to achieve it?

This year Pope Benedict XVI established a special Jubilee Year dedicated to a "champion" of Christianity of all time, the Pharisee of Tarsus called Saul, who after ferociously persecuting the early Church, converted when the Lord's call "broke through" to him.

Gospel servant who laid the Christian foundations of the world

From that moment he served the cause of the Gospel with total dedication, tirelessly traveling the then known world and helping to lay the foundations of what was to become the European culture, enlightened by Christianity.

Few have shown a breadth of knowledge and an acumen equal to Paul's. His letters express the explosive force of his passionate personality and have attracted millions of readers, exercising a unique influence on generation after generation of men and women and on entire peoples and nations.

In his writings Paul never ceases to present Christ as an authentic source of respect among men, of peace among nations, of justice in coexistence. Two thousand years later, we can all consider ourselves "sons" of his preaching, and our civilization knows that it is actually indebted to this man for the values on which it is founded.

Yet St Paul's existence is very far from being in the limelight of public recognition. When he died, the Church he had helped to disseminate was still a tiny seed, a group that the supreme authorities of the Roman Empire could allow themselves to neglect or endeavor to crush with bloodshed.

Moreover Paul's existence, examined it in its daily dimension, appears troubled, beset by hostility and dangers, full of difficulties to face rather than consolations and joys to enjoy. He himself bears a vivid witness to this in a great many passages of his writings.

This is what he says, for example, in his Second Letter to the Corinthians: "Five times I have received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I have been beaten with rods; once I was stoned. Three times I have been shipwrecked; a night and a day I have been adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brethren; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure upon me of my anxiety for all the Churches. Who is weak, and I am not weak? Who is made to fall, and I am not indignant?" (11: 24-29).

It was with determination and in the Name of his Redeemer that Paul ended or rather completed this obstacle race -- as we might describe it -- in Rome, where he was condemned to death and beheaded. Many other Christians died with him in the Emperor Nero's raging persecution and among them was Peter, the fisherman of Galilee and head of the Church.

Can Paul's life really be considered "successful"? Here we are before the paradox of Christian life as such. Indeed, to Christians what does "succeeding" mean? What do the existences of so many holy people, who lived in the retirement of their convents tell us? What do the lives and deaths of numberless Christian martyrs tell us, most of whose names are unknown, who ended their lives not amidst acclamation but rather surrounded by contempt, hatred and indifference? In what does the "greatness" of their lives consist, the luminosity of their witness, their "success"?

Humble conditions do not prevent true human fulfillment

Recently too, the Holy Father Benedict XVI recalled that man was made for the eternal fulfillment of his life. This goes far beyond mere worldly success and is not in opposition to the humility of the condition in which he makes his earthly pilgrimage.

The fulfillment of the human being is knowledge of God, by whom every person was created and for whom he strives with every fiber of his being. Neither fame nor popularity with the masses serves to achieve this. This is the protagonism that the title of this year's Rimini Meeting seeks to propose anew.

The protagonist of one's own existence is someone who gives his life to God, who calls him to cooperate in the universal project of salvation.

The meeting intends to reaffirm that Christ alone can reveal to man his true dignity and communicate to him the authentic meaning of his life. When a believer follows him docilely, he can leave a lasting trace in history. It is the trace of love, of which he becomes a witness precisely because he has been grasped by love.

It is then that what was possible for St. Paul also becomes possible for each one of us. It does not matter whether or not God's design provides for a reduced sphere of action. It does not matter whether we live within the walls of a cloistered monastery or are immersed in the multiple and different activities of the world; it does not matter whether we are fathers and mothers of families or consecrated people, or priests.

God uses us in accordance with his plan of love according to the ways that he chooses and he asks us to support the action of his Spirit; he wants us to be his collaborators for the realization of his Kingdom. He says to each one: "Come, follow me" (Luke 18: 22), and only by following him does man experience the true exaltation of his being.

The experience of the saints, men and women who very often lived their fidelity to God in a discreet and ordinary manner, teaches us this. Among them we find many true protagonists of history, people who are totally fulfilled, living examples of hope and witnesses of a love that fears nothing, not even death.

The Holy Father hopes that these reflections will help those taking part in the meeting to encounter Christ, to understand the value of Christian life better and to achieve its meaning in the humble protagonism of service to the mission of the Church, in Italy and throughout the world. To this end he assures you of his prayers for the meeting's success and imparts a special blessing to you, to the organizers and to all those present.

I very willingly add my own fervent good wishes for the fruitful success of the event and gladly take advantage of the occasion to confirm my sentiments of distinct respect.

[Translation by L'Osservatore Romano]

Pope to Catholic Biblical Federation
"God's Word Can Restore Humanity"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2008 - Here is the letter Benedict XVI sent to the VII General Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation, underway until July 3 in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The theme of the conference is "Word of God: Source of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace."

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To the Most Reverend
Vincenzo Paglia
President of the Catholic Biblical Federation

"Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace" (Eph 6:14-15). With these words of the Apostle Paul, I am pleased to greet the delegates and all those attending the Seventh General Assembly of the Catholic Biblical Federation taking place in Dar-es-Salaam from 24 June to 3 July 2008, dedicated to the theme: Word of God -- Source of Reconciliation, Justice and Peace. The General Assembly is always a privileged opportunity for the members of the Catholic Biblical Federation to listen together to the word of God and renew their service to the Church, called to proclaim the gospel of peace.

The fact that your meeting is being held in Dar-es-Salaam is an important gesture of solidarity with the Church in Africa, more so in view of next year's special Synod for Africa. "The Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel" ("Gaudium et Spes," 4). The message you bring to Dar-es-Salaam is clearly a message of love of the Bible and love of Africa. The theme of your General Assembly draws attention to how God's word can restore humanity in reconciliation, justice and peace. This is the word of life that the Church has to offer to a broken world. "So we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God" (2 Cor 5:19-20). May the African Continent set the context for the lectio divina which will assist you in these days and may your efforts help the Church in Africa to "pursue its evangelizing mission, in order to bring the peoples of the Continent to the Lord, teaching them to observe all that he has commanded [cf. Mt 28:20]" (cf. "Ecclesia in Africa," 6).

Christianity is the Religion of the Word of God, "not a written and mute word, but incarnate and living" (Saint Bernard, S. Missus est 4, 11 PL 183, 86). It is only Christ, the eternal Word of the living God, who through the Holy Spirit, can open our minds to understand the Scriptures (cf. Lk 24:15, Catechism, 108). I warmly encourage you therefore not only to continue to make known the profound relevance of the Scriptures to the contemporary experience of Catholics and particularly to the younger generations, but also to lead them to interpret them from the central perspective of Christ and his Paschal mystery. The community of believers can be the leaven of reconciliation, but only if "she remains docile to the Spirit and bears witness to the Gospel, only if she carries the Cross like Jesus and with Jesus" (Homily, Solemnity of Pentecost, 11 May 2008). In this regard, I wish to make my own a reflection from the Servant of God, Pope John Paul ii, who observed: "How indeed can we proclaim the Gospel of reconciliation without at the same time being committed to working for reconciliation between Christians?" (Ut Unum Sint, 98). Let this observation also find its way into your undertakings these days. May your hearts be guided always by the Holy Spirit in the unifying power of the word of God.

All Christians are called to imitate the openness of Mary who received the Word of God "in her heart and in her body and gave Life to the world" (Lumen Gentium, 53). May the peoples of Africa receive this Word as the life-giving source of reconciliation and justice, and especially of the true peace that comes only from the Risen Lord. Commending to the same Virgin Mary, the Seat of Wisdom, all those gathered for this General Assembly, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 12 June 2008


Papal Homily for Quebec Congress
"The Eucharist Is Not a Meal Among Friends"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 23, 2008 - Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI gave via satellite Sunday at the closing Mass of the 49th International Eucharistic Congress. The congress was held in Quebec City. The homily was given in English and French.
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Lord Cardinals,

Dear Brothers and Sisters,
While you are gathered for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, I am happy to join you through the medium of satellite and thus unite myself to your prayer. I would like first of all to greet the Lord Cardinal Marc Ouellet, archbishop of Quebec, and the Lord Cardinal Jozef Tomko, special envoy for the congress, as well as all the cardinals and bishops present. I also address my cordial greetings to the personalities of civil society who decided to take part in the liturgy. My affectionate thought goes to the priests, deacons and all the faithful present, as well as to all Catholics of Quebec, of the whole of Canada and of other continents. I do not forget that your country celebrates this year the 400th anniversary of its foundation. It is an occasion for each one of you to recall the values that animated the pioneers and missionaries in your country.
"The Eucharist, gift of God for the Life of the World," this is the theme chosen for this latest International Eucharistic Congress. The Eucharist is our most beautiful treasure. It is the sacrament par excellence; it introduces us early into eternal life; it contains the whole mystery of our salvation; it is the source and summit of the action and of the life of the Church, as the Second Vatican Council recalled ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 8).
It is, therefore, particularly important that pastors and faithful dedicate themselves permanently to furthering their knowledge of this great sacrament. Each one will thus be able to affirm his faith and fulfill ever better his mission in the Church and in the world, recalling that there is a fruitfulness of the Eucharist in his personal life, in the life of the Church and of the world. The Spirit of truth gives witness in your hearts; you also must give witness to Christ before men, as the antiphon states in the alleluia of this Mass. Participation in the Eucharist, then, does not distance us from our contemporaries; on the contrary, because it is the expression par excellence of the love of God, it calls us to be involved with all our brothers to address the present challenges and to make the planet a place where it is good to live.

To accomplish this, it is necessary to struggle ceaselessly so that every person will be respected from his conception until his natural death; that our rich societies welcome the poorest and allow them their dignity; that all persons be able to find nourishment and enable their families to live; that peace and justice may shine in all continents. These are some of the challenges that must mobilize all our contemporaries and for which Christians must draw their strength in the Eucharistic mystery.

"The Mystery of Faith": this is what we proclaim at every Mass. I would like everyone to make a commitment to study this great mystery, especially by revisiting and exploring, individually and in groups, the Council's text on the Liturgy, "Sacrosanctum Concilium," so as to bear witness courageously to the mystery. In this way, each person will arrive at a better grasp of the meaning of every aspect of the Eucharist, understanding its depth and living it with greater intensity. Every sentence, every gesture has its own meaning and conceals a mystery. I sincerely hope that this Congress will serve as an appeal to all the faithful to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognize the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it. I urge priests especially to give due honor to the Eucharistic rite, and I ask all the faithful to respect the role of each individual, both priest and lay, in the Eucharistic action. The liturgy does not belong to us: it is the Church's treasure.

Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament -- by this we mean deepening our communion, preparing for it and prolonging it -- is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church. It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength "of unity with God and with one another" (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11:11; cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 577).
We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great have all said, following Saint Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 10:17), the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church's unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head. We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age. In the Eucharist, Christ's sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honor Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.
I would also like to invite the pastors and faithful to a renewed care in their preparation for reception of the Eucharist. Despite our weakness and our sin, Christ wills to make his dwelling in us, asking him for healing. To bring this about, we must do everything that is in our power to receive him with a pure heart, ceaselessly rediscovering, through the sacrament of penance, the purity that sin has stained, "putting our soul and our voice in accord," according to the invitation of the Council (cf. "Sacrosanctum Concilium," No.11). In fact, sin, especially grave sin, is opposed to the action of Eucharistic grace in us. However, those who cannot go to communion because of their situation, will find nevertheless in a communion of desire and in participation in the Mass saving strength and efficacy.
The Eucharist had an altogether special place in the lives of saints. Let us thank God for the history of holiness of Quebec and Canada, which contributed to the missionary life of the Church. Your country honors especially its Canadian martyrs, Jean de Brebeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, who were able to give up their lives for Christ, thus uniting themselves to his sacrifice on the Cross.

They belong to the generation of men and women who founded and developed the Church of Canada, with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite d'Youville, Marie of the Incarnation, Marie-Catherine of Saint Augustine, Mgr Francis of Laval, founder of the first diocese in North America, Dina Belanger and Kateri Tekakwitha. Put yourselves in their school; like them, be without fear; God accompanies you and protects you; make of each day an offering to the glory of God the Father and take your part in the building of the world, remembering with pride your religious heritage and its social and cultural brilliance, and taking care to spread around you the moral and spiritual values that come to us from the Lord.

The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is a mystery of covenant. "The prayers and the rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice make the whole history of salvation revive ceaselessly before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle, and make us penetrate ever more its significance" (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, [Edith Stein], Wege zur inneren Stille Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67). We are called to enter into this mystery of covenant by conforming our life increasingly every day to the gift received in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as Vatican Council II reminds: "Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree " ("Sacrosanctum Concilium," No. 7). In a certain way, it is a "heavenly liturgy," anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ, until he comes (cf. 1 Corinthians 11:26).

In order that the People of God never lack ministers to give them the Body of Christ, we must ask the Lord to make the gift of new priests to his Church. I also invite you to transmit the call to the priesthood to young men, so that they will accept with joy and without fear to respond to Christ. They will not be disappointed. May families be the primordial place and the cradle of vocations.

Before ending, it is with joy that I announce to you the meeting of the next International Eucharistic Congress. It will be held in Dublin, in Ireland, in 2012. I ask the Lord to make each one of you discover the depth and grandeur of the mystery of faith. May Christ, present in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit, invoked over the bread and wine, accompany you on your daily way and in your mission. May you, in the image of the Virgin Mary, be open to the work of God in you. Entrusting you to the intercession of Our Lady, of Saint Anne, patroness of Quebec, and of all the saints of your land, I impart to all of you an affectionate Apostolic Blessing, as well as to all the persons present, who have come from different countries of the world.

Dear friends, as this significant event in the life of the Church draws to a conclusion I invite you all to join me in praying for the success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin! I take this opportunity to greet warmly the people of Ireland, as they prepare to host this ecclesial gathering. I am confident that they, together with all the participants at the next Congress, will find it a source of lasting spiritual renewal.


Pope's Message to U.N. Food Summit
"Hunger and Malnutrition Are Unacceptable"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 17, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI sent to the participants attending the U.N.-sponsored High-level Conference on World Food Security, held June 3-5 in Rome. The meeting was titled "The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy."

* * *

Mr President of the Italian Republic,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr Director General of the FAO,
Mr Secretary General of the UN,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to address my respectful and cordial greeting to you, who, in different capacities, represent the various components of the human family and are gathered in Rome to negotiate suitable solutions to face the problem of hunger and malnutrition.

I have asked Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, to express to you the particular attention with which I am following your work and assure you that I attribute great importance to the arduous duty that awaits you. Millions of men and women look to you while new snares threaten their survival and worrisome situations put the security of their Nations at risk. In fact, the growing globalization of markets does not always favour the availability of foodstuffs and the systems of production are often conditioned by structural limits not to mention by political protection and speculative phenomena that relegate entire populations to the margins of development processes. In light of this situation, one must strongly repeat that hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world that, in reality, possesses production levels, resources and sufficient knowledge to put an end to these dramas and their consequences. The great challenge of today is ""to globalize' not only economic and commercial interests, but also the expectations of solidarity, with respect for and valuing the contribution of each component of society" (cf. Address to the Centesimus Annus Pro Pontifice Foundation, 31 May 2008).

To the FAO and to its Director General, therefore, go my appreciation and my gratitude, for having again drawn the international community's attention to what obstructs the fight against hunger and for having solicited it to take action, an action that must be united and coordinated in order to be effective.

In this spirit, to the high-level Personages participating in this Summit I should like to renew the wish that I expressed during my recent Visit to the UN Headquarters: it is urgent to overcome the "paradox of a multilateral consensus that continues to be in crisis because it is still subordinated to the decisions of a few" (Address to United Nations' General Assembly, 18 April 2008). Furthermore, may I invite you to cooperate in an ever more transparent manner with the organizations of civil society committed to filling the growing gap between wealth and poverty. Again I exhort you to continue with those structural reforms that, on a national level, are indispensable to successfully confront the problems of underdevelopment, of which hunger and malnutrition are direct consequences. I know how arduous and complex it all is!

Yet, how can one remain insensitive to the appeals of those who, on the various continents, are not able to feed themselves enough to live? Poverty and malnutrition are not a mere fatality caused by adverse environmental circumstances or by disastrous natural calamities. On the other hand, considerations of an exclusively technical or economic character must not prevail over the rights of justice toward those who suffer from hunger. "The right to nutrition responds principally to an ethical motivation: "give the hungry to eat' (cf. Mt 25: 35), that prompts a sharing of material goods as a sign of the love which we all need.... This primary right to nutrition is intrinsically linked to the safeguarding and to the defence of human life, the solid and inviolable rock upon which the whole edifice of human rights is founded" (Address to the new Ambassador of Guatemala, 31 May 2008). Each person has the right to life: therefore it is necessary to promote the effective actualization of such rights and the populations that suffer from lack of food must be helped to gradually become capable of satisfying their own needs for sufficient and healthy nutrition.

At this particular moment, in which food security is threatened by the rise in price of agricultural products, new strategies need to be worked out in the fight against poverty and the promotion of rural development. This must also happen through structural reform processes, that would enable the challenges of the same security and of climatic changes to be faced. Furthermore, it is necessary to increase the food available by promoting industrious small farmers and guaranteeing them access to the market. The global increase in the production of agricultural products, however, can be effective only if production is accompanied by effective distribution and if it is primarily destined to satisfy essential needs. It certainly is not easy, but it would allow, among other things, to rediscover the value of the rural family: it would not be limited to preserving the transmission, from parents to children, of the cultivation methods, of conserving and distributing foodstuffs, but above all it would preserve a model of life, of education, of culture and of religiosity. Moreover, from the economic profile, it ensures an effective and loving attention to the weakest and, by virtue of the principle of subsidiarity, it could assume a direct role in the distribution chain and the trading of agricultural food products reducing the costs of intermediaries and favouring small scale production.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Today's difficulties show how modern technology by itself, is not sufficient to provide for the lack of food, neither are statistical calculations nor, in emergency situations, the sending of food supplies. All this certainly has a great impact, yet it must be completed and oriented to a political action that, inspired by those principles of the natural law which are written on the human heart, protect the dignity of the person. In this way, also the order of Creation is respected and one has "the good of all as a constant guiding criterion" (Message for the World Day of Peace, 1 January 2008, n. 7). Hence, only by protecting the person is it possible to overcome the main causes of hunger, such as being closed to one's neighbour which dissolves solidarity, justifies models of consumeristic life and unravels the social fabric, preserving, if not actually deepening the furrows of unjust balances and neglecting the most profound demands of good (cf. Encyclical Letter Deus Caritas Est, n. 28). If, therefore, respect for human dignity were given its worth on the negotiation table, in making decisions and accomplishing them, it would be possible to rise above otherwise insurmountable obstacles and it would eliminate, or at least diminish, the disinterest in the good of others. Consequently, it would be possible to adopt courageous measures that would not stop before hunger and malnutrition, as if they were simply considered unsolvable, endemic phenomena. It could help if, in the defence of human dignity, international action - even emergency action - were to estimate the superfluous in the perspective of the needs of others and to administer the fruit of Creation according to justice, placing it at the disposition of all generations.

In the light of these principles, I hope that the Delegations present at this meeting will take on new commitments and be resolved to accomplish them with great determination. The Catholic Church, for her part, desires to join in these efforts! In a spirit of collaboration, drawing on ancient wisdom, inspired by the Gospel, she makes a firm and heartfelt appeal that is very relevant for those participating in the Summit: "Give to eat to the one who is starving of hunger, because, if you do not give to him to eat, you will kill him" (cf. Decretum Gratiani, c. 21, d. LXXXVI). I assure you that, along this path, you can count on the support of the Holy See. Although it differentiates itself from States, it is united to their most noble objectives to seal a commitment that, by her nature, involves the entire international community: to encourage every People to share the needs of other Peoples, placing in common the goods of the earth that the Creator has destined for the entire human family. With these sentiments, I express my most fervent wishes for the success of your work and invoke the Blessing of the Most High upon you and upon those who are committed to the authentic progress of the person and of society.

From the Vatican, 2 June 2008



Pope's Speech to University Media Faculty
"Employ Social Communications in a Passion for Truth"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 9, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave May 23 upon receiving in audience participants from a congress on social communication in Catholic universities.

The theme of the congress was "Identity and Mission of a Communications' Faculty in a Catholic University."

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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood, ?Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I am very pleased to address my welcome to all of you, academicians and educators of Catholic Institutions of higher culture, gathered in Rome to reflect, together with members of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications, on the identity and mission of the Communications Faculty in Catholic Universities.

Through you I wish to greet your colleagues, your students and all those who are part of the Faculty that you represent. A particular thanks goes to your President, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, for the kind words of tribute that he addressed to me. Along with him I greet the Secretaries and the Undersecretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

The diverse forms of communication -- dialogue, prayer, teaching, witness, proclamation -- and their different instruments -- the press, electronics, the visual arts, music, voice, gestural art and contact -- are all manifestations of the fundamental nature of the human person.  ?It is communication that reveals the person, that creates authentic and community relationships, and which permits human beings to mature in knowledge, wisdom and love.

However, communication is not the simple product of a pure and fortuitous chance or of our human capacity. In the light of the biblical message, it reflects, rather, our participation in the creative, communicative and unifying Trinitarian Love which is the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. ?God has created us to be united to him and he has given us the gift and the duty of communication, because he wants us to obtain this union, not alone, but through our knowledge, our love and our service to him and to our brothers and sisters in a communicative and loving relationship.

Truthfulness in communications

It is self-evident that at the heart of any serious reflection on the nature and purpose of human communications there must be an engagement with questions of truth. A communicator can attempt to inform, to educate, to entertain, to convince, to comfort; but the final worth of any communication lies in its truthfulness.

In one of the earliest reflections on the nature of communication, Plato highlighted the dangers of any type of communication that seeks to promote the aims and purposes of the communicator or those by whom he or she is employed without consideration for the truth of what is communicated. No less worth recalling is Cato the Elder's sober definition of the orator; "vir bonus dicendi peritus" a good or honest man skilled in communicating.
The art of communication is by its nature linked to an ethical value, to the virtues that are the foundation of morality. In the light of that definition, I encourage you, as educators, to nourish and reward that passion for truth and goodness that is always strong in the young. Help them give themselves fully to the search for truth.
Teach them as well, however, that their passion for truth, which can be well served by a certain methodological scepticism, particularly in matters affecting the public interest, must not be distorted to become a relativistic cynicism in which all claims to truth and beauty are routinely rejected or ignored.

I encourage you to give more attention to academic programmes in the area of the means of social communication, in particular to the ethical dimensions of communication between people, in a period in which the phenomenon of communication is occupying an ever greater place in all social contexts.

It is important that this formation is never considered as a simple technical exercise, or a mere wish to give information. Primarily it should be more like an invitation to promote the truth in information and to help our contemporaries reflect on events in order to be educators of humankind today and to build a better world.

It is likewise necessary to promote justice and solidarity, and to respect in whatever circumstance the value and dignity of every person, who also has a right not to be wounded in what concerns his private life.

Avoid widening the information gap

It would be a tragedy for the future of humanity if the new instruments of communication, which permit the sharing of knowledge and information in a more rapid and effective manner, were not made accessible to those who are already economically and socially marginalized, or if it would contribute only to increasing the gap that separates those people from the new network that is developing at the service of human socialization, of information and of understanding.

On the other hand, it would be equally grave if the tendency toward globalization in the world of communications were to weaken or eliminate the traditional customs and the local cultures, particularly those which are able to strengthen family and social values: love, solidarity, and respect for life. ?In this context I desire to express my esteem to those religious communities who, notwithstanding the heavy financial burden or the generous human input, have opened Catholic universities in developing countries and I am pleased that many of these institutions are represented here today. Their efforts will ensure the countries where they are present the benefits of young men and women who receive a deep professional formation, inspired by the Christian ethic which promotes education and teaching as a service to the whole community.

I appreciate, in a particular way, their commitment to offer a sound education to all, independent of race, social condition or creed, which constitutes the mission of the Catholic University. In these days you will examine together the question of the identity of a university or a Catholic school. In this regard, I would like to recall that such an identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is above all a question of conviction: it concerns truly believing that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man become clear. The consequence is that the Catholic identity lies, in the first place, in the decision to entrust oneself, intellect and will, mind and heart, to God.

As experts in the theory and in the practice of communication and as educators who are forming a new generation of communicators, you have a privileged role, not only in the life of your students, but also in the mission of your local Churches and of your Pastors to make the Good News of God's love known to all peoples.  ?Dear friends, in confirming my appreciation for this, your interesting meeting that opens the heart to hope, I wish to assure you that I follow your precious activity with prayer and accompany it with a special Apostolic Blessing, which I extend to all those who are dear to you.


Pope to Young French Pilgrims to Lourdes
"Happiness Is First of All a Gift of God"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 8, 2008- Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, archbishop of Paris and the president of the French episcopal conference, on the occasion of the centenary of the "Frat" pilgrimage organized by the dioceses of the Île-de-France.

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Dear Young People,

By coming to the Marian city of Lourdes in this Jubilee Year that marks the 150th anniversary of the apparitions of the Virgin Mary to young Bernadette, you are taking part in the thanksgiving of the entire Church for the message the Virgin gave to Bernadette. With simple words, the Mother of Christ pointed out the way of spiritual renewal through the call to conversion and love of the Church.

It was in this place that the Virgin came to visit Bernadette. During your pilgrimage to Lourdes, receive this visitation of Mary, who entrusts to you today the words the Angel spoke to her on the Lord's behalf: "Hail, full of grace, you have found favour with God!" (Lk 1: 30).

Indeed, through his grace Christ makes you worthy of his trust and wants you to be able to make your noblest and loftiest dreams of true happiness come true. Happiness is first of all a gift of God that is received by following the unexpected paths of his will. These ways are demanding but they are also a source of deep joy. Look at Mary: invited to take a surprising and disconcerting path, her willingness makes her enter a joy that all generations will sing.

It was the secret she revealed to her cousin Elizabeth when she went to visit and help her: "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden... he who is mighty has done great things for me" (Lk 1: 47-48). May you in turn allow yourselves to be led so that the Lord may make something great of your humble life.

It is our "yes" to God that makes the source of true happiness flow: this "yes" frees the self of all that closes in on itself. It makes the poverty of our lives enter the riches and power of God's plan but without threatening our freedom and responsibility. He opens our narrow hearts to the dimensions of divine charity which are universal. He configures our lives to the very life of Christ, by which we were marked at the moment of our Baptism.

Dear young people, I encourage you during these days to celebrate enthusiastically the joy of believing, loving and hoping in Christ, and of walking confidently on the path of initiation that is proposed to you. I ask you in particular to note with attention the witness of your elders in the faith and to learn to welcome God's Word in silence and meditation so that it can model your hearts and bear generous fruit within you. Indeed, the Lord has given each one of you something special to say. Do not be afraid to listen to him. In this spirit the "Frat" is also a special time to allow oneself to be questioned by Christ: "What do you want to do with your life?". May those of you who hear the call to follow him in the priesthood or consecrated life, in the wake of numerous young people who have taken part in the "Frat", accept the Lord's invitation to put yourselves totally at the service of the Church in a life entirely given for the Kingdom of Heaven. They will not be disappointed.

Lastly, I want to thank the Lord for all, priests, Religious and lay people, who, forming an immense chain, have contributed for a century to making this pilgrimage an important moment in the life of a large number of young Christians.

Dear young people, I entrust each one of you to the motherly intercession of Our Lady of Lourdes and of St Bernadette. To you, to the Bishops who are the Pastors of your Dioceses of Île-de-France, to your chaplains, to the lay people who accompany you and who bear witness among you to their faith with joy and simplicity, I willingly impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 12 April 2008.



Papal Message on Disarmament, Development and Peace
"Promote the Good of Every Man and of the Whole Man"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the message Benedict XVI addressed to Cardinal Renato Martino, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. The message was sent on the occasion of an April 11-12 conference in Rome titled: "Disarmament, Development and Peace: Prospects for Integral Disarmament."

* * *

Venerable Brother
Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

I have great pleasure in sending a cordial greeting to the participants in the International Seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on the theme: "Disarmament, Development and Peace. Prospects for Integral Disarmament", and express my deep appreciation of such a timely initiative. I assure you, Your Eminence, and all who are taking part of my spiritual closeness.

The subject on which you are intending to reflect is more topical than ever. Humanity has made formidable progress in science and technology. Human ingenuity has resulted in achievements that would have been unthinkable only a few years ago. At the same time, some areas in the world are still without adequate human and material development; many peoples and people lack the most fundamental rights and freedoms. Even in regions of the world where there is a high standard of living, pockets of marginalization and poverty seem to be spreading. Although the worldwide globalization process has opened new horizons, it has not yet brought the hoped-for results. And although after all the horror of the Second World War the human family gave proof of a great civilization by founding the United Nations Organization, today the international community seems at a loss. In various areas of the world tension and war persist, and even where the tragedy of war is not being played out there is nonetheless a widespread feeling of fear and insecurity. Furthermore, phenomena such as terrorism on a world scale make the boundary between peace and war transient, seriously jeopardizing the hope of humanity's future.

How should we respond to these challenges? How can we recognize the "signs of the times"?

Joint action is certainly needed at the political, economic and juridical levels, but even before that we need to reflect together on the moral and spiritual level: the promotion of a "new humanism" seems to be ever more urgently necessary in order to enlighten human beings on the understanding of themselves and the meaning of their journey through history. In this regard the teaching of the Servant of God Pope Paul VI and his proposal of an integral humanism, which aims, in other words, "to promote the good of every man and of the whole man", is more timely than ever (Populorum Progressio, n. 14). Development cannot be reduced to mere economic growth: it must include the moral and spiritual dimensions. At the same time, an authentic and integral humanism can only consist of solidarity, and solidarity is one of the loftiest expressions of the human spirit; it is one of the natural duties of the human being (cf. Jas 2: 15-16), applicable to both individuals and peoples (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 86); the full development of peace depends on the implementation of this duty. Indeed, when man pursues material well-being alone, remaining absorbed in himself, he bars the way to his own total fulfilment and authentic happiness.

At your Seminar you are reflecting on three interdependent issues: disarmament, development and peace. Indeed, authentic and lasting peace is inconceivable without the development of every person and people; as Paul VI said: "The new name for peace is development" (Populorum Progressio, n. 87). Nor is a reduction of armaments conceivable without first eliminating violence at its root, that is, without humankind first being determined to seek peace, goodness and justice. Like any form of evil, war originates in the human heart (cf. Mt 15: 19; Mk 7: 20-23). In this sense, disarmament does not only refer to State armaments but involves every person who is called to disarm his own heart and be a peacemaker everywhere.

As long as there is a risk of offence, States will need to be armed for reasons of legitimate defence, which is a right that must be listed among the inalienable rights of States since it is also connected with the duty of States themselves to defend the security and peace of their peoples. Yet an excessive accumulation of arms does not appear legitimate to us, because "a State may possess only those means necessary to assure its legitimate defence" (Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, The International Arms Trade, Vatican City, 1994, p. 13). Lack of respect for this "principle of sufficiency" leads to the paradox by which States threaten the life and peace of the peoples they intend to defend, and, from being a guarantee of peace, arms for defence risk becoming a tragic preparation for war.

There is a close connection, then, between disarmament and development. The immense military expenditure, involving material and human resources and arms, is in fact detracted from development projects for peoples, especially the poorest who are most in need of aid. This is contrary to what is stated in the Charter of the United Nations, which engages the international community and States in particular "to promote the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world's human and economic resources" (Article 26). In fact, in 1964 Paul VI was already asking States to reduce their military expenditure on armaments and to create a world fund with the amount saved for development projects for the neediest people and peoples (cf. Message to the World, Entrusted to Journalists, 4 December 1964). What, however, is being recorded is that the production and trade in arms are constantly growing and are becoming a driving force in the world economy. Indeed, this trend has resulted in civil and military economies overlapping, as is demonstrated by the continuous distribution of goods and knowledge "for a dual purpose", that is, for possible double use: civil and military. It is a grave risk in the biological, chemical and nuclear sectors, where civil programmes can never be assured without a general and complete renunciation of military programmes of confrontation. I therefore renew my appeal to States to reduce their military expenditure on weapons and to consider seriously the idea of creating a world fund to finance projects for the peaceful development of peoples.

A close relationship between development and peace also exists in a double sense. War can in fact break out because of serious violations of human rights, injustice and poverty, but one must not overlook the risk of true and proper "wars of well-being", in other words, wars caused by expansionist ambitions or in order to exercise economic control at the expense of others. Mere material well-being, without a consistent moral and spiritual development, can make man so blind as to incite him to kill his own brother (cf. Jas 4: 1ff.). Today, even more urgently than in the past, the International Community is required to make a decisive option for peace. At the economic level, it is vital to work to ensure that the economy is oriented to the service of the human person, to solidarity and not only to profit. At the juridical level, States are called in particular to renew their commitment to respect the international treaties in force on disarmament and the control of all types of weapons, as well as the ratification and consequent entry into force of the instruments already adopted, such as the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, and to the success of negotiations currently underway, such as those on banning cluster bombs, the trade in conventional weapons or fissionable material. Lastly, every effort is required to prevent the proliferation of light, small calibre weapons which encourage local wars and urban violence and kill too many people in the world every day.

It will nevertheless be difficult to find a solution to the various technical issues without man's conversion to goodness at the cultural, moral and spiritual levels. Every person, in any walk of life, is called to convert to goodness and to seek peace in his own heart, with his neighbour and in the world. In this regard the Magisterium of Bl. Pope John XXIII is still valid. He clearly pointed out the objective of integral disarmament, saying: "Unless this process of disarmament be thorough-going and complete, and reach men's very souls, it is impossible to stop the arms race or to reduce armaments.... Everyone must sincerely cooperate in the effort to banish fear and the anxious expectation of war from men's minds" (Pacem in Terris, 11 April 1963, n. 113 [Vatican Website version]). At the same time, the effect that armaments produce on the human psyche and behaviour should not be ignored. Arms, in fact, tend in turn to increase violence. Paul VI showed his very acute understanding of this aspect in his Discourse to the United Nations General Assembly in 1965. He said at their headquarters, where I am preparing to go in the next few days: "Those weapons, especially the terrible weapons that modern science has given you, long before they produce victims and ruins, cause bad dreams, foster bad feelings, create nightmares, distrust and sombre resolves; they demand enormous expenditure; they obstruct projects of solidarity and useful work; they falsify the very psychology of peoples" (n. 5).

As was said several times by my Predecessors, peace is a gift of God, a precious gift that must also be sought and preserved using human means. It thus requires the contribution of all. A unanimous dissemination of the culture of peace and a common education in peace are becoming more and more necessary, especially for the new generations for whom the adult generations have grave responsibility. Moreover, emphasizing every person's duty to build peace does not mean neglecting the existence of a true and proper human right to peace. It is a fundamental and inalienable right, indeed, one on which the exercise of all the other rights depends. "Peace is a good so great", St Augustine wrote, "that even in this earthly and mortal life there is no word we hear with such pleasure, nothing we desire with such zest or find to be more thoroughly gratifying" (City of God, XIX, 11).

Your Eminence and all of you who are taking part in the Seminar, in turning one's gaze to the concrete situations in which humanity lives today, one might be overcome by a justifiable uneasiness and resignation: in international relations, diffidence and solitude sometimes seem to prevail; peoples feel divided and are at odds with one another. Total war, from being a terrible prediction, risks turning into a tragic reality. Yet war is never inevitable and peace is always possible. Indeed, it is only right! The time has come to change the course of history, to recover trust, to cultivate dialogue, to nourish solidarity. These are the noble objectives that inspired the founders of the United Nations Organization, a real experience of friendship among peoples. Humanity's future depends on everyone's commitment. Only by following an integral and supportive humanism in whose context the question of disarmament takes on an ethical and spiritual nature, will humanity be able to walk towards the desired authentic and lasting peace. It will certainly not be an easy journey and will be subject to dangers, as my venerable Predecessor Paul VI already recognized 30 years ago in his Message to the First Special Session on Disarmament of the United Nations General Assembly: "The journey that leads to the construction of a new international order that can eliminate wars and their causes, hence, rendering weapons useless, will not on any account be a brief one" (n. 6). Believers find support in the Word of God that encourages us in faith and in hope, with a view to the definitive peace of the Kingdom of God where "mercy and truth will meet, justice and peace will embrace" (cf. Ps 85[84]: 11). Let us therefore with fervent prayers invoke from God the gift of peace for all humanity. With these sentiments, I renew my congratulations to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace on having promoted and organized this Meeting on such a delicate and urgent theme. I assure a particular remembrance in prayer for the success of your work and cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.

From the Vatican, 10 April 2008



Papal Address to Social Sciences Academy
"The Heavenly and Earthly Cities Interpenetrate"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 4, 2008 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. The meeting is focused on "Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together." It began Friday and continues through Tuesday.

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

I am pleased to have this occasion to meet with you as you gather for the fourteenth Plenary Session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. Over the last two decades, the Academy has offered a valuable contribution to the deepening and development of the Church's social doctrine and its application in the areas of law, economics, politics and the various other social sciences. I thank Professor Margaret Archer for her kind words of greeting, and I express my sincere appreciation to all of you for your commitment to research, dialogue and teaching, so that the Gospel of Jesus Christ may continue to shed light on the complex situations arising in a rapidly changing world.

In choosing the theme Pursuing the Common Good: How Solidarity and Subsidiarity Can Work Together, you have decided to examine the interrelationships between four fundamental principles of Catholic social teaching: the dignity of the human person, the common good, subsidiarity and solidarity (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 160-163). These key realities, which emerge from the living contact between the Gospel and concrete social circumstances, offer a framework for viewing and addressing the imperatives facing mankind at the dawn of the twenty-first century, such as reducing inequalities in the distribution of goods, expanding opportunities for education, fostering sustainable growth and development, and protecting the environment.

How can solidarity and subsidiarity work together in the pursuit of the common good in a way that not only respects human dignity, but allows it to flourish? This is the heart of the matter which concerns you. As your preliminary discussions have already revealed, a satisfactory answer can only surface after careful examination of the meaning of the terms (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, Chapter 4). Human dignity is the intrinsic value of a person created in the image and likeness of God and redeemed by Christ. The totality of social conditions allowing persons to achieve their communal and individual fulfilment is known as the common good. Solidarity refers to the virtue enabling the human family to share fully the treasure of material and spiritual goods, and subsidiarity is the coordination of society's activities in a way that supports the internal life of the local communities.

Yet definitions are only the beginning. What is more, these definitions are adequately grasped only when linked organically to one another and seen as mutually supportive of one another. We can initially sketch the interconnections between these four principles by placing the dignity of the person at the intersection of two axes: one horizontal, representing "solidarity" and "subsidiarity", and one vertical, representing the "common good". This creates a field upon which we can plot the various points of Catholic social teaching that give shape to the common good.

Though this graphic analogy gives us a rudimentary picture of how these fundamental principles imply one another and are necessarily interwoven, we know that the reality is much more complex. Indeed, the unfathomable depths of the human person and mankind's marvellous capacity for spiritual communion - realities which are fully disclosed only through divine revelation - far exceed the capacity of schematic representation. The solidarity that binds the human family, and the subsidiary levels reinforcing it from within, must however always be placed within the horizon of the mysterious life of the Triune God (cf. Jn 5:26; 6:57), in whom we perceive an ineffable love shared by equal, though nonetheless distinct, persons (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 42).

My friends, I invite you to allow this fundamental truth to permeate your reflections: not only in the sense that the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity are undoubtedly enriched by our belief in the Trinity, but particularly in the sense that these principles have the potential to place men and women on the path to discovering their definitive, supernatural destiny. The natural human inclination to live in community is confirmed and transformed by the "oneness of Spirit" which God has bestowed upon his adopted sons and daughters (cf. Eph 4:3; 1 Pet 3:8). Consequently, the responsibility of Christians to work for peace and justice, their irrevocable commitment to build up the common good, is inseparable from their mission to proclaim the gift of eternal life to which God has called every man and woman. In this regard, the tranquillitas ordinis of which Saint Augustine speaks refers to "all things": that is to say both "civil peace", which is a "concord among citizens", and the "peace of the heavenly city", which is the "perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God" (De Civitate Dei, XIX, 13).

The eyes of faith permit us to see that the heavenly and earthly cities interpenetrate and are intrinsically ordered to one another, inasmuch as they both belong to God the Father, who is "above all and through all and in all" (Eph 4:6). At the same time, faith places into sharper focus the due autonomy of earthly affairs, insofar as they are "endowed with their own stability, truth, goodness, proper laws and order" (Gaudium et Spes, 36). Hence, you can be assured that your discussions will be of service to all people of good will, while simultaneously inspiring Christians to embrace more readily their obligation to enhance solidarity with and among their fellow citizens, and to act upon the principle of subsidiarity by promoting family life, voluntary associations, private initiative, and a public order that facilitates the healthy functioning of society's most basic communities (cf. Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, 187).

When we examine the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity in the light of the Gospel, we realize that they are not simply "horizontal": they both have an essentially vertical dimension. Jesus commands us to do unto others as we would have them do unto us (cf. Lk 6:31); to love our neighbour as ourselves (cf. Mat 22:35). These laws are inscribed by the Creator in man's very nature (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 31). Jesus teaches that this love calls us to lay down our lives for the good of others (cf. Jn 15:12-13). In this sense, true solidarity - though it begins with an acknowledgment of the equal worth of the other - comes to fulfilment only when I willingly place my life at the service of the other (cf. Eph 6:21). Herein lies the "vertical" dimension of solidarity: I am moved to make myself less than the other so as to minister to his or her needs (cf. Jn 13:14-15), just as Jesus "humbled himself" so as to give men and women a share in his divine life with the Father and the Spirit (cf. Phil 2:8; Mat 23:12).

Similarly, subsidiarity - insofar as it encourages men and women to enter freely into life-giving relationships with those to whom they are most closely connected and upon whom they most immediately depend, and demands of higher authorities respect for these relationships - manifests a "vertical" dimension pointing towards the Creator of the social order (cf. Rom 12:16, 18). A society that honours the principle of subsidiarity liberates people from a sense of despondency and hopelessness, granting them the freedom to engage with one another in the spheres of commerce, politics and culture (cf. Quadragesimo Anno, 80). When those responsible for the public good attune themselves to the natural human desire for self-governance based on subsidiarity, they leave space for individual responsibility and initiative, but most importantly, they leave space for love (cf. Rom 13:8; Deus Caritas Est, 28), which always remains "the most excellent way" (cf. 1 Cor 12:31).

In revealing the Father's love, Jesus has taught us not only how to live as brothers and sisters here on earth; he has shown us that he himself is the way to perfect communion with one another and with God in the world to come, since it is through him that "we have access in one Spirit to the Father" (cf. Eph 2:18). As you strive to articulate the ways in which men and women can best promote the common good, I encourage you to survey both the "vertical" and "horizontal" dimensions of solidarity and subsidiarity. In this way, you will be able to propose more effective ways of resolving the manifold problems besetting mankind at the threshold of the third millennium, while also bearing witness to the primacy of love, which transcends and fulfils justice as it draws mankind into the very life of God (cf. Message for the 2004 World Day of Peace).

With these sentiments, I assure you of my prayers, and I cordially extend my Apostolic Blessing to you and your loved ones as a pledge of peace and joy in the Risen Lord.

© Copyright 2008 - Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Benedict XVI on Martyrs of the 20th Century
"Strive to Imitate Their Courage and Perseverance"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 27, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered April 7 at the Basilica of St. Bartholomew on Tiber Island in Rome. The visit marked the 40th anniversary of the foundation of the Community of Sant'Egidio, and the basilica is the site of a memorial of those who have died for the faith during the 20th century.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We may see our meeting in the ancient Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island as a pilgrimage in memory of the martyrs of the 20th century, countless men and women, known and unknown, who shed their blood for the Lord in the 1900s. It is a pilgrimage guided by the Word of God which, like a lamp to our feet, a light on our way (cf. Ps 119[118]: 105), brightens the life of every believer with its light. This church was especially designated by my beloved Predecessor John Paul II as a place for the memorial of the 20th century martyrs and entrusted by him to the Community of Sant'Egidio, which this year is thanking the Lord for the 40th anniversary of its foundation.

I greet with affection the Cardinals and Bishops who have wished to take part in this liturgy. I greet Prof. Andrea Riccardi, Founder of the Sant'Egidio Community, and I thank him for his words; I greet Prof. Marco Impagliazzo, President of the Community, the Chaplain, Mons. Matteo Zuppi, as well as Bishop Vincenzo Paglia of Terni-Narni-Amelia.

In this place full of memories let us ask ourselves: why did these martyr brothers and sisters of ours not seek to save the irreplaceable good of life at all costs? Why did they continue to serve the Church in spite of grave threats and intimidation? In this Basilica where the relics of the Apostle Bartholomew are preserved and the mortal remains of St Adalbert venerated, we hear the resonance of the eloquent witness of those who, not only in the 1900s but from the very beginning of the Church, putting love into practice, offered their lives to Christ in martyrdom.

In the icon set above the main altar, which portrays some of these witnesses of faith, the words of the Book of Revelation stand out: "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation" (Rv 7: 13). The old man who asks who the people dressed in white are and where they came from is told: "They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb" (Rv 7: 14). At first it appears a strange answer. However, in the coded language of the Seer of Patmos it contains a precise reference to the clear flame of love that impelled Christ to pour out his blood for us. By virtue of that blood, we have been purified. Sustained by that flame, the martyrs too poured out their blood and were purified in love: in the love of Christ who made them capable of sacrificing themselves for love in their turn.

Jesus said: "Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn 15: 13). Every witness of faith lives this "greater love" and, after the example of the Divine Teacher, is ready to sacrifice his life for the Kingdom. In this way we become friends of Christ; thus, we are conformed to him, accepting the extreme sacrifice without limiting the gift of love and the service of faith.

Stopping by the six altars that commemorate the Christians who fell under the totalitarian violence of Communism, Nazism, those killed in America, Asia and Oceania, in Spain and Mexico, in Africa, we retrace in spirit numerous sorrowful events of the past century. So many fell while they were carrying out the evangelizing mission of the Church: their blood mingled with that of the indigenous Christians to which they had transmitted the faith.

Others, often in a minority condition, were killed in hatred of the faith. Lastly, many sacrificed themselves, undaunted by threats and dangers, in order not to abandon the needy, the poor or the faithful entrusted to them. They were Bishops, priests, men and women religious and faithful lay people. How many they are! At the Ecumenical Jubilee Commemoration for the new martyrs celebrated at the Colosseum on 7 May 2000, the Servant of God John Paul II said that these brothers and sisters of ours in the faith stand as a vast panorama of Christian humanity in the 20th century, a panorama of the Gospel of the Beatitudes, lived even to the shedding of blood. And he was in the habit of repeating that Christ's witness to the point of bloodshed speaks with a stronger voice than the divisions of the past.

It is true: it seems as though violence, totalitarianism, persecution and blind brutality got the upper hand, silencing the voices of the witnesses to the faith who humanly speaking appeared to be defeated by history. But the Risen Jesus illumines their testimony and thus we understand the meaning of martyrdom. Tertullian says of this: "Plures efficimur quoties metimur a vobis: sanguis martyrum semen christianorum -- Our numbers increase every time we are cut down by you: the blood of martyrs is the seed of [new] Christians" (Apol. 50, 13; CCC, PL 1,603).

A force that the world does not know is active in defeat, in the humiliation of those who suffer for the Gospel: "for when I am weak", the Apostle Paul exclaims, "then I am strong" (II Cor 12: 10). It is the power of love, defenseless and victorious even in apparent defeat. It is the force that challenges and triumphs over death.

This 21st century also opened under the banner of martyrdom. When Christians are truly the leaven, light and salt of the earth, they too become the object of persecution, as was Jesus; like him they are "a sign of contradiction". Fraternal life in common and the love, faith and decisions in favour of the lowliest and poorest that mark the existence of the Christian community sometimes give rise to violent aversion. How useful it is then to look to the shining witness of those who have preceded us in the sign of heroic fidelity to the point of martyrdom!

And in this ancient Basilica, thanks to the care of the Sant'Egidio Community, the memory of so many witnesses to the faith who died in recent times is preserved and venerated. Dear friends of the Community of Sant'Egidio, looking at these heroes of the faith, may you too strive to imitate their courage and perseverance in serving the Gospel, especially among the poorest. Be builders of peace and reconciliation among those who are enemies or who fight one another. Nourish your faith by listening to and meditating on the Word of God, daily prayer and active participation in Holy Mass. Authentic friendship with Christ will be the basis of your mutual love. Sustained by his Spirit you will be able to help build a more fraternal world. May the Blessed Virgin, Queen of Martyrs, sustain you and help you to be genuine witnesses of Christ.



Benedict XVI's Address to Papal Foundation
"May Your Good Works Continue to Multiply"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2008 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience members of the Papal Foundation.

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Dear Brother Bishops,
Dear Friends in Christ,

I extend a heartfelt welcome to you, the representatives of the Papal Foundation, as we continue to celebrate our Lord's glorious resurrection during this blessed Easter Season.

"The Lord has risen indeed!" This was the response of the Eleven after the disciples from Emmaus, who recognized Jesus in the breaking of the bread, rushed to join them in Jerusalem (cf. Lk 24:33-40). Their encounter with the Risen Lord turned their sorrow into joy, their disappointment into hope. Their testimony of faith instils in us the firm conviction that Christ lives in our midst, bestowing the gifts that empower us to be messengers of hope in the world today. The very source of the Church's service of love, as she strives to alleviate the suffering of the poor and weak, can be found in her unwavering faith that the Lord has definitively conquered sin and death; and that in serving her brothers and sisters, she serves the Lord himself until he comes again in glory (cf. Mt 25:31-46; "Deus Caritas Est," 19).

Dear friends, I am pleased to have this occasion to express my gratitude for the generous support the Papal Foundation offers through aid projects and scholarships which assist me in carrying out my Apostolic Ministry to the universal Church. I ask for your prayers, and I assure you of my own. May your good works continue to multiply, filling our brothers and sisters with the sure hope that Jesus never ceases to pour out his life for us in the sacraments so that we may provide for the material and spiritual needs of the whole human family (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 25).

Commending you and your loved ones to the protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Risen Savior.


Papal Address at European University Day
"Western Civilization Has Partly Betrayed Its Gospel Inspiration"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2008 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's greeting to university students gathered Saturday in Paul VI Hall for the 6th European Day for Universities.

The event was linked via satellite to nine other European and American cities. The Pope prayed the rosary with the youth and then gave this address.

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Dear university youth:

At the end of this Marian vigil, I greet with great joy all those who are here present and those who participated in prayer by way of satellite connection. I greet with recognition the cardinals and bishops, particularly those who have presided over the praying of the rosary in the connected places: Aparecida in Brazil, Avignon in France, Bucharest in Romania, Mexico City in Mexico, Havana in Cuba, Loja in Ecuador, Minsk in Belarus, Naples in Italy, Toledo in Spain, and Washington in the United States. Five places in Europe and five in the Americas. In fact, this initiative has the theme "Europe and the Americas Together to Build a Civilization of Love." And precisely regarding this theme, a congress has been held in these days in the Gregorian University; I send a cordial greeting to the participants.

The decision to highlight the relation of Europe in turn with another continent in a perspective of hope is an appropriate one: two years ago, Europe and Africa; last year, Europe and Asia; this year, Europe and America. Christianity is a profound and powerful link between the so-called old continent and what has been called the "New World." It is enough to think of the fundamental position that sacred Scripture and Christian liturgy occupy in the culture and art of European and American peoples. Unfortunately, so-called western civilization has partly betrayed its Gospel inspiration.

What is needed, then, is an honest and sincere reflection, an examination of conscience. It is necessary to discern between what serves to build the "civilization of love" according to the design that God revealed in Jesus Christ, and what runs counter to it.

I address myself now to you, dear youth. Youth have always been, in the history of Europe and the Americas, promoters of the evangelical drive. It is enough to think of youth like St. Benedict of Nursia, St. Francis of Assisi, and Blessed Karl Leisner in Europe; as well as of St. Martin of Porres, St. Rose of Lima and Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in America.

Youth who are builders of the civilization of love! God calls you today, European youth and youth from the United States, to cooperate, alongside your peers all over the world, so that the lifeblood of the Gospel may renew the civilization of these two continents and of humanity entire.

The great European and American cities are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, but they often lack this lifeblood, which is capable of ensuring that differences do not become the cause of division and conflict but of mutual enrichment. The civilization of love is this "conviviality," that is, a respectful and peaceful coexistence that finds joy in its differences in the name of a shared vision, which Blessed Pope John XXIII founded on the four columns of love, truth, freedom and justice.

This, dear friends, is the duty I consign to you today: Be disciples of and witnesses to the Gospel, because the Gospel is the good seed of the Kingdom of God, in other words the civilization of love! Be builders of peace and of unity! A sign of this catholic unity, that is, universal and integral in the contents of the Christian faith that unites all of us, is the initiative of giving to each one of you the text of the encyclical "Spe Salvi," on CD in five languages. May the Virgin Mary watch over you, your families and your loved ones.

Now, I would like to greet in the various languages those who are united with us from other cities by way of satellite connection.

[The Holy Father proceeded to greet the youth in six languages. In English, he said:]

Dear University students of Washington DC, I send warm greetings to you! With the help of God, I will be in your city in April. With your assistance, may America remain faithful to its Christian roots and to its high ideals of freedom in truth and justice!

© Copyright 2008 -- Libreria Editrice Vaticana


Papal Address to Spiritual Exercises Federation
"Insistence on the Necessity of Prayer Is Always Timely and Urgent"

FEB. 26, 2008 - Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to the participants in the National Assembly of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises, upon receiving them in audience Feb. 9.

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Clementine Hall
Saturday, 9 February 2008

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

I am please to meet you at the conclusion of the National Assembly of the Italian Federation of Spiritual Exercises (FIES). I greet the President, Cardinal Salvatore De Giorgi, and I thank him for the kinds words with which he conveyed your sentiments. I greet the Bishops, Delegates of the Regional Bishops' Conferences, Members of the Board and the National Council, the Regional and Diocesan Delegates, the Directors of some Retreat Centres and the leaders of Retreats for young people. The theme of your Assembly: "For an authentically Eucharistic Christian spirituality", you have taken from my invitation addressed to all the Church's Pastors at the conclusion of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Sacramentum Caritatis (cf. n. 94), which has been at the centre of the various presentations and study groups. This theme's choice shows how you take to heart and accept, in a spirit of faith, the Pope's Magisterium in order to integrate it into your study initiatives and to correctly translate it into pastoral praxis. For this same reason, in your work you have kept in mind the two Encyclicals Deus Caritas Est and Spe Salvi.

The FIES Statute clearly states that its goal is to "make known and promote Spiritual Exercises in all possible ways, and with respect to their canonical norms, understood as a strong experience of God, in a climate of listening to the Word of God, to foster conversion and an ever more complete giving to Christ and to the Church" (art. 2). This is why it "freely unites its adherents in Italy, who practise the Spiritual Exercises in the context of the pastoral work of the times of the Spirit" (ibid.). Your Federation therefore intends to increase spirituality as the foundation and soul of all pastoral care. It is born and grows by treasuring the Exhortations on the necessity of prayer and the primacy of the spiritual life continually offered by my venerable Predecessors, the Servants of God Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II. Following in their footsteps, I too wished, in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, "to reaffirm the importance of prayer in the face of the activism and the growing secularism of many Christians engaged in charitable works" (n. 37), and in Spe Salvi I placed prayer first among the ""settings' for learning and practising hope" (cf. nn. 32-34). Indeed, insistence on the necessity of prayer is always timely and urgent.

In Italy, while multiple spiritual initiatives providentially increase and spread primarily among youth, it seems instead that the number of those who participate in true courses of Spiritual Exercises decreases, and this can also be verified among priests and members of Institutes of Consecrated Life. It is thus worth remembering that "Retreats" are an experience of the spirit with proper and specific characteristics, well summarized in one of your definitions which I gladly recall: "A strong experience of God, awakened by listening to his Word, understood and welcomed in one's personal life, under the action of the Holy Spirit, which, in a climate of silence, prayer and by means of a spiritual guide, offer the capacity of discernment in order to purify the heart, convert one's life, follow Christ and fulfil one's own mission in the Church and in the world". Along with other forms of spiritual retreat it is good that participation in the Spiritual Exercises does not slacken, characterized by that climate of complete and profound silence which favours the personal and communitarian encounter with God and the contemplation of the Face of Christ. My Predecessors and I myself have returned to this point several times, and it can never be insisted upon enough.

In an age when the influence of secularization is always more powerful and, on the other hand, one senses a diffused need to encounter God, may the possibility to offer spaces for intense listening to his Word in silence and prayer always be available. Houses of Spiritual Exercises are especially privileged places for this spiritual experience, and they thus must be materially maintained and staffed by competent personnel. I encourage the Pastors of the various communities to be concerned with this so that Houses of Spiritual Exercises never lack responsible and well-formed workers, guides and leaders who are open and prepared, gifted with those doctrinal and spiritual qualities that make them true teachers of spirituality, experts and lovers of God's Word and faithful to the Church's Magisterium. A good course of Spiritual Exercises contributes to renewing in those who participate in it a joy of and taste for the Liturgy, in particular of the dignified celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours and above all, the Eucharist. It helps one rediscover the importance of the Sacrament of Penance, it opens the way to conversion and the gift of reconciliation, as well as to the value and meaning of Eucharistic Adoration. The full and authentic sense of the Holy Rosary and of the pious practice of the Way of the Cross can also be beneficially recovered during the Exercises.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for the precious service that you render to the Church and for the commitment you extend so that in Italy the "network" of Spiritual Exercises is always more widespread and qualified. On my part I assure you of a remembrance to the Lord, while, invoking the intercession of Mary Most Holy, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to all of you and to your collaborators.


Pope's Letter to Romans on Education
"Each Person and Generation Must Make Their Own Decisions in Their Own Name"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 6, 2008 - Here is a translation of a Jan. 21 letter on education that Benedict XVI wrote and will present at a Feb. 23 audience with teachers, students and others who directly participate in education.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope's vicar for the Diocese of Rome, sent an invitation to citizens and the faithful of Rome for the event where the Pope will symbolically present the letter.

During the Angelus address of Jan. 27, the Holy Father said he wrote the letter because, "I have wanted to offer in this way my own contribution to the formation of new generations, a difficult but crucial commitment for the future."

* * *

Dear faithful of Rome,

I thought that I would address myself to you with this letter to speak to you about a question that you yourselves experience and to which various parts of the Church are dedicating themselves: the question of education.

We all have the good of the persons whom we love at heart, in particular our children, adolescents and young people. We know that the future of this, our city, depends on them. Thus we cannot avoid being solicitous for the formation of the new generations, for their capacity to orient themselves in life and to be able to tell good from evil, not just for their physical health but their moral health.

Educating has never been easy and today it seems to become more and more difficult. Parents, teachers, priests and all those who have a direct responsibility to educate know this well. One speaks, thus, of a great "emergency in education," confirmed by the many failures that too often result from our efforts to form solid persons, capable of working with others and of giving meaning to their life. It is not unusual, then, that the new generations are faulted, as if the children that are born today are different from those that were born in the past. One speaks, moreover, of the "generation gap" that certainly exists and is a burden, but is the effect, rather than the cause, of the lack of transmission of certainties and values.

Should we therefore fault the adults of today, who are apparently no longer able to educate? Among parents and teachers, and among educators in general, the temptation is strong to abdicate -- or yet, before this, there is the risk of not even understanding -- the role, or better, the mission that has been entrusted to them. In reality, what is in question is not only the personal responsibilities of adults or young people -- which nevertheless exist and must not be hidden -- but a growing atmosphere, a mentality and a form of culture that lead to doubting the value of the human person, the significance itself of truth and of the good, in the final analysis, the goodness of life. It becomes difficult, then, to hand on from one generation to the next, something valid and certain, rules of conduct, credible objectives around which to build one's life.

Dear brothers and sisters of Rome, at this point I want to speak a very simple word to you: Do not be afraid! None of these difficulties, in fact, are insurmountable. They are rather, so to speak, the other side of that great and precious gift that is our freedom, with the responsibility that rightly accompanies it. Unlike what takes place in the field of technology and economics, where the progress of today can build on that of the past, in the ambit of the moral formation and growth of persons such an accumulative possibility does not exist, because human freedom is always new and therefore each person and generation must make their own decisions in their own name. Even the greatest values of the past cannot simply be inherited. We only make them our own and renew them through a personal choice, which often costs suffering.

However, when the foundations are shaken and essential certainties are lacking, the need for those values returns to make itself felt in a compelling way: Thus, concretely, today the demand grows for a true education. Parents, who are concerned and often anxious about their children's future, ask for it; many teachers, who have the sad experience of the deterioration of their schools, ask for it; society as a whole, which sees the basis of its communal life threatened, asks for it; deep in themselves children and young people, who do not want to face life's challenges all alone, ask for it. He who believes in Jesus Christ then has still another, stronger reason for not being afraid: He knows, in fact, that God does not abandon us, that his love comes to us where we are, with our misery and our weakness, to offer us a new possibility of goodness.

Dear brothers and sisters, to make these reflections of mine more concrete, it might be useful to identify some common exigencies of an authentic education. It needs, above all, that nearness and that confidence that are born from love: I think of that first and fundamental experience of love that children have, or at least should have, with their parents. But every true educator knows that to educate he must give something of himself and that only in this way can he help his students to overcome egoism and become capable of authentic love in turn.

Already in a small child there is furthermore a great desire to know and to understand, which is manifested in his continual questions and his requests for explanations. It would therefore be a poor education that limited itself to giving notions and information, but left aside the great question regarding truth, above all that truth that could be a guide in life.

Even suffering is part of the truth of our life. Thus, trying to shield the youngest from every difficulty and experience of suffering, we risk creating, despite our good intentions, fragile persons of little generosity: The capacity to love, in fact, corresponds to the capacity to suffer, and to suffer together.

In this way we arrive, dear friends of Rome, at the point that is perhaps the most delicate in the work of education: finding the right balance between freedom and discipline. Without rules of conduct and of life, validated day in and day out even in the smallest things, character is not formed and one is not prepared to face the trials that will not be lacking in the future. The educative relationship is, however, above all the meeting of two freedoms and successful education is the formation of the right use of freedom. Little by little the child grows, he becomes an adolescent and then a youth; we must therefore accept the risk of freedom, always remaining attentive to help him correct mistaken ideas and choices. That which we must never do is to go along with him in his errors, pretend not to see them, or worse, to share in them, as if they were the new frontiers of human progress.

Education cannot, therefore, do without that authoritativeness that makes the exercise of authority credible. It is the fruit of experience and competence, but it is acquired above all by consistency in one's own life and by personal involvement, an expression of true love. The educator is thus a witness of truth and of goodness: Certainly, he too is fragile and can make mistakes, but he will always strive to harmonize himself with his mission.

Dear faithful of Rome, from these simple considerations it emerges how important responsibility is in education: the responsibility of the educator, certainly, but also, and in a measure that grows with age, the responsibility of the child, the student, the young person who enters into the world of work. That person is responsible who knows how to answer, that is, respond, to himself and to others. He who believes strives, moreover, and first of all, to respond to God who first loved him.

Responsibility is in the first place personal, but there is also the responsibility that we share together, as citizens of the same city and of the same nation, as members of the human family and, if we are believers, as children of one God and members of the Church. In fact, the ideas, the lifestyles, the laws, the whole orientation of the society in which we live, and the image that it gives of itself through communication, exert a great influence on the new generations, for good but often also for ill. Society, however, is not an abstraction; in the end we are society, all of us together, with the directions, the rules and the representatives that we give ourselves, even though the roles and responsibilities of each of us is different. Thus, the contribution of each of us is necessary, of every person, family or social group, so that society, beginning with this city of ours, Rome, might become a more favorable environment for education.

Finally, I would like to propose a thought to you that I developed in the recent encyclical letter "Spe Salvi" on Christian hope: The soul of education, as also the entirety of life, can only be a trustworthy hope. Today our hope is threatened on many sides and we too run the risk of becoming again, like the ancient pagans, men "without hope and without God in this world," as the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians of Ephesus (Ephesians 2:12). Precisely here is born the most profound difficulty for a true educational project: At the root of the crisis in education there is, in fact, a crisis of confidence in life.

Thus, I cannot conclude this letter without a warm invitation to put our hope in God. He alone is the hope that resists all delusions; only his love cannot be destroyed by death; only his justice and his mercy can cure the injustices and give recompense for the sufferings that have been undergone. Hope that turns to God is never hope only for me; it is always also a hope for others: It does not isolate us but makes us solidary in the good, it stimulates us to reciprocally educate each other in truth and in love.

I greet you with affection and I assure you that I will remember you especially in prayer, while I impart to all my benediction.

From the Vatican, Jan. 21, 2008



Papal Address on Synod Preparation
"Among the Ecclesial Community's Duties, I Emphasize Evangelization and Ecumenism"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Jan. 21 message to participants in the sixth meeting of the 11th Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.

The next General Ordinary Assembly of the synod is scheduled for Oct. 5-26 in the Vatican and will focus on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church."

* * *


Monday, 21 January 2008

Dear and Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

I am pleased to welcome you while you are participating at the meeting of the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in preparation for the General Ordinary Assembly, convoked for this coming 5-26 October. I greet and thank Archbishop Nikola Eterovic, Secretary General, for his kind words; and I extend my grateful sentiments to all members of both the General Secretariat of the Synod and the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat. I greet all and each of you with sincere affection.

In the recent Encyclical Letter Spe Salvi on Christian hope, I wished to underline the "social character of hope" (n. 14). "Being in communion with Jesus Christ", I wrote, "draws us into his "being for all'; it makes it our own way of being. He commits us to live for others, but only through communion with him does it become truly possible to be there for others", since there exists a "connection between the love of God and responsibility for others" (ibid., n. 28) that enables one to avoid falling into the individualism of salvation and hope. I believe that one can discover this fruitful principle effectively applied in the synodal experience, where the encounter becomes communion and solicitude for all the Churches (cf. II Cor 11: 28) emerges in the concern for all.

The next General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops will reflect on "The Word of God in the Life and Mission of the Church". Among the Ecclesial Community's many and great duties in today's world, I emphasize evangelization and ecumenism. They are centred on the Word of God and at the same time are justified and sustained by it. As the Church's missionary activity with its evangelizing work is inspired and aims at the merciful revelation of the Lord, ecumenical dialogue cannot base itself on words of human wisdom (cf. I Cor 2: 13) or on neat, expedient strategies, but must be animated solely by constant reference to the original Word that God consigned to his Church so that it be read, interpreted and lived in communion with her. In this area, St Paul's doctrine reveals a very special power, obviously founded on divine revelation but also on his own apostolic experience, which confirmed anew the awareness that not wisdom and human eloquence, but only the power of the Holy Spirit builds the Church in the faith (cf. I Cor 1: 22-24; 2: 4ff.).

By a happy coincidence, St Paul will be particularly venerated this year, thanks to the celebration of the Pauline Year. The next Synod taking place on the Word of God will therefore offer to the Church's contemplation, and principally to her Pastors' contemplation, the witness also of this great Apostle and herald of God's Word. To the Lord, whom he first persecuted and then to whom he consecrated his entire being, Paul remains faithful even to death. May his example be an encouragement for all to accept the Word of salvation and translate it into daily life through the faithful following of Christ. The various ecclesial organisms consulted in view of the Assembly next October have dedicated their attention to the Word of God. The Synod Fathers will focus on it once they have become familiar with the preparatory documents, the Lineamenta and Instrumentum laboris, which you yourselves in the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops have contributed to creating. Thus, they will be able to discuss among themselves, but above all, gathered in collegial communion, to listen to the Word of life which God has entrusted to the loving care of his Church, so that it is courageously and convincingly proclaimed, with the parresia of the Apostles, to those near and far. Indeed, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, everyone is given the possibility to encounter the living Word that is Jesus Christ.

Dear and venerable Brothers, as members of the Ordinary Council of the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, you render a praiseworthy service to the Church, since the synodal organism constitutes a qualified institution to promote the truth and unity of pastoral dialogue within the Mystical Body of Christ. Thank you for what you do, and not without sacrifice. May God reward you! Let us continue to pray together so that the Lord will make the Synodal Assembly fruitful for the whole Church. With this wish, I warmly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you and to the Communities entrusted to your pastoral care, invoking the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of the Lord and of Sts Peter and Paul, who in the Liturgy, together with the other Apostles, we call the "pillars and foundation of the city of God".


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

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

* * *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Vatican, January 17, 2008


Commentary by Father James Schall:

Schall on the Sapienza Lecture: Benedict XVI on the Nature of a University | Fr. James V. Schall, S.J. | February 11, 2008

"On this occasion (January 17), I am happy to express my gratitude to you for your invitation at your university (La Sapienza, in Rome). With this prospect in view, I first of all asked myself the question: what can and should a Pope say on such an occasion? In my lecture at Regensburg (September 12, 2006), I did indeed speak as Pope, but above all I spoke in my capacity as a former professor of my old university, seeking to link past memories with the present." -- Benedict XVI, "The Truth Makes Us Good and Goodness Is True", Undelivered Address to La Sapienza University


Benedict XVI did not deliver his major address at La Sapienza University in Rome because of threats of disturbance and protests at his visit to the university, a place originally founded by Boniface VIII. In response to such clearly un-academic threats, the Pope simply postponed his visit (the University has announced that the Pope will be re-invited to the institution). This move was probably unanticipated by the erstwhile protesters who were suddenly left exposed for what they were: people who did not understand the first thing about a university, namely its space free enough to speak of the truth. It cannot be what it is, an area of freedom to pursue the truth, when threats of violence are made against its very expression. The Pope's lecture, however, was read by another professor and published in due form in L'Osservatore Romano.

The address is quite remarkable. It is, in fact, a brief history of what a university is from classical, medieval, and modern times. The lecture touched on the very nature of reason, a theme to which this Holy Father often returns. Some time has passed since the incident. Still, I think it valuable to take a retrospective look at this address in what it says and outside of the controversy surrounding its initial presentation. Benedict is a careful and clear thinker. His mind always seems to have before it Scripture, classical philosophy, Augustine and Aquinas, medieval history, and modern thought.

In the address, Benedict cites Socrates in the Euthuphro, the short dialogue on piety that takes place the day before the Trial of Socrates. Benedict recalls how Socrates wanted to know whether the accounts of the pagan gods, their wars and struggles with each other, were true (6b). Right away, with this deft citation from Socrates, the pope allied himself with the rule of reason as it relates to the gods. The Christian fathers in the early centuries took up this very question. What they proposed was that the "story" of the Incarnation was not a "myth" but a true account of God's intervention in our history. What the pagans were searching for was a true account, defensible in reason, of the Godhead, which has now been revealed to us. Christian thinkers thus took up the Socratic question in this form: "Is the Christian account of the Godhead found in Scriptures basically true?" The relation of faith and reason thus is already within Christian revelation from its very beginning. The Christian God—the Trinity, the Logos—is not a myth. What it depicts happened; it is true. It is addressed to human reason not as myth but as reason.

The pope in fact calls Socrates the remote founder of the university as such. Benedict cites John Rawls, Jürgen Habermas, and Thomas Aquinas with equal familiarity. He keeps his first question in mind, namely, "What should I as pope tell you?" His answer is direct: "Certainly, he (the pope) must not seek to impose the faith upon others in an authoritarian manner—as faith can only be given in freedom." Critics, who presume that it needs to be "imposed," not freely understood, vastly underestimate the power of revelation. That is the last thing it needs. In fact, revelation is to be received as a free act by an intelligent and free being on the grounds of grace and wisdom.

The pope's office is not to deny that faith is directed to reason but to affirm it. Benedict adds:

Over and above his ministry as Shepherd of the Church and on the basis of the intrinsic nature of his pastoral ministry, it is the Pope's task to safeguard sensibility to the truth, to invoke reason to set out ever anew in the search for what is true and good, in search of God, to urge reason, in the course of this search to discern the illuminating lights that have emerged during the history of the Christian faith, and thus to recognize Jesus Christ as the light that illuminates and help us find the path toward the future.

These remarks of the Holy Father about the future and the one about Jesus Christ remind us directly of the Pope's book Jesus of Nazareth and his latest encyclical Spes Salvi.

The pope, as pope, has to tell the university audience that, on its own terms, the terms of reason, the evidence that Christ is who He says He is, the Logos, is intact and convincing. The scientific studies of the record are sufficiently clear that Jesus Christ did exist in this world and was what He said He was. The pope here is not saying that reason can prove who Christ was. Rather he is saying that none of the vast historical efforts to deny the record are, on their own grounds, better founded than their opposite, that Christ's claim has grounding in reason. To go back to the citation from the Euthuphro, the Christian account of God is not a "myth." It is reasonable by every standard of reason. It is concerned with or confronted by a reason, by a Logos, which is higher than our finite reason but still directs itself to our understanding as true.

In Spes Salvi, the pope directly sought to reestablish the Christian notion of the future, indeed of the four last things. This effort recognized that most of modern philosophy and ideology is an effort to find an answer to questions of death, punishment, the perfect city, freedom, and life, as if it could be achieved in this world by human means. In many ways, modern science proposes various kinds of "reconstruction" of the human body and psyche so that we are begotten and kept alive, by technology, in this world. In short, we create a hell on earth by our very refusal to accept the conditions of our being to which revelation addresses itself.


In what sense does the pope speak to all mankind? The tendency is to claim that moral and ethical matters are closed circuits. There are as many different kinds of speakers as there are cultures and religion. The claim of universal truth and intelligible dignity that the Church makes is written off as "arrogant" or as "opinion." The pope thus is said to draw his "judgments from faith and hence cannot claim to speak on behalf of those who do not share this faith." This objection, the pope affirms, brings up the "fundamental question" namely: "What is reason?" Reason is precisely the grounds for directing all thought to the same measure and standard, something that, in argument and reflection can be known to everyone from whatever background.

What is "reason" is itself related directly to the questions, as Benedict put it: "'What is a university?' 'What is its task?' ... I think one could say that at the most intimate level, the true origin of the university lies on the thirst for knowledge that is proper to man. The human being wants to know what everything around him is. He wants truth." We have, all of us, a knowing faculty and we want to know. There are traditional and articulated ways and institutions in which this desire "to everything around us" can and should be pursued. Benedict is ever concerned that "reason" be not restricted to methods that exclude the higher things, the things that are not matter and hence not "measurable" by quantity. To insist that the only kind of knowledge is that based on measurable quantity is to exclude from the beginning the really deepest and most important things in our lives. As Fides et Ratio indicated, the Church is directly concerned that philosophy and reason be what they are, neither more or less.

"Yet truth means more than knowledge," Benedict continues in a passage obviously related to book six of Plato's Republic:

The purpose of knowing the truth is to know the good. This is also the meaning of Socratic enquiry: What is the good which makes us free? The truth makes us good and goodness is true: this is the optimism that shapes the Christian faith, because this faith has been granted the vision of the Logos, of creative Reason, which in God's Incarnation revealed itself as the Good, as goodness itself.

This is a remarkable passage. The faith is an "optimism" in its own right. It is grounded in the good. The Logos is "creative reason." Things can be understood as true, as what exactly is our destiny and purpose. This purpose in the good is not irrational or mad, but precisely reason responding to Logos, to reason.

Creative reason does not appeal to us as if we had no questions to ask of it. It only appears in fact when we are precisely asking the questions of our reason—those about our origin, purpose, meaning, and destiny. These latter questions do not initially arise from revelation but from living and thinking about what is. Creative reason presents itself not as something alien to us but as something that attracts us as good and as true. Were our freedom not intimately bound up with our reason, we could not be beings who really do know and choose to be what we are. "Here it was a matter of giving the correct form to human freedom, which is always a freedom shared with others. Law is the presupposition of freedom; it is not its opposite." We observe the law, particularly the natural law, because we understand it as reasonable. Our freedom is not to do whatever we want, but to do what is right. This freedom is "shared with others" for we all have the same destiny and know the same truth if we choose to do so.


Benedict next takes up the question of truth as it exists in and shapes the public order, the relation between politics and truth. Benedict's assessment is sober:

The representatives of that public 'process of argumentation' are--as we know--principally political parties, inasmuch as these are responsible for the formation of political will. De facto, they will always aim to achieve majorities and hence will almost inevitably attend to interests that the promise to satisfy, even though these interests are often particular and do not serve the whole. Sensibility to the truth is repeatedly subordinated to sensibility to interests.

The logic of this realist observation is that we cannot simply grant that political parties will provide us with sufficient truth to direct lives lived in a polity. Reason, at its best, and revelation both stand outside de facto political agendas. We must listen to claims to truth other than parties alone.

Dealing with the classic university idea of faculties of theology and philosophy whose essential purpose was the truth as derived from their disciplines, Benedict returns to the notion of "sensibility" to truth in a public order consumed by interests. In this sense, the classic academy had to exist "outside of politics," so that it would be free enough to know the truth as something more than one's own interests. Not many actual polities provide or allow for the terms in which a university must exist to be itself. "One might even say that this was the permanent and true purpose of both faculties (philosophy and theology); to be custodians of sensibility for the truth, not to allow man to be distracted from his search for the truth." This is indeed a noble purpose. It is particularly poignant today when it is precisely the university that seems most to represent an arena of closed political correctness, a sophistry that does not allow the ultimate sources of reason to enter its domain in the name of a certain kind of limited reason usually called "science" but in practice limited to a very small part of real knowledge available to the human mind.

Benedict is aware of the implications of what he is saying. "Theology and philosophy, in this regard form a strange pair of twins, in which neither of the two can be totally separated from the other, and yet each must preserve its own task and its own identity." Philosophy, the discipline that seeks the whole by the power of human reason, knows that it finds some truth but not whole truth. Theology, for its part, articulates itself in terms of what is reasonable in its account of what is revealed. This was the purport of Benedict's citation from the Euthuphro. When theology formulates what is revealed to it, it can articulate its terms and implications to be presented to mind. This articulation cannot be accomplished without a philosophy of what is. Revelation is directed to the real world. It is not a myth. Without changing its own purpose or method, philosophy cannot ignore that the terms of revelation are also reasonably presented to its own thinking about what is. Each must be what it is; neither can exclude the other. The implication to reason, of course, is that the reason found in revelation is indeed directed to reason found in philosophy. As Benedict said in the Regensburg Lecture, the reason discovered in nature through mathematics itself implies an origin that is reason, Logos.

Benedict then discusses Thomas Aquinas, our teacher in all of these things. Aquinas lived in a "privileged time," Benedict observes, a time when Jewish, Arabic, and Christian philosopher were suddenly confronted with the great figure of Aristotle, "the Philosopher." "I (Benedict) would say that Saint Thomas' idea concerning the relationship between philosophy and theology could be expressed using the formula that the Council of Chalcedon adopted for Christology: philosophy and theology must be interrelated 'without confusion and without separation.'" This is the significance of the doctrine that Christ is "true man." He is likewise Logos, a divine person, but fully man, one of the most difficult positions to accept both by other religions and philosophy. Yet, this reality of the Incarnation is the heart of the matter. The pope simply draws the momentous consequence of this teaching: philosophy is philosophy; revelation is revelation. Both exist un-confusedly as what they are, "twins," directly related to each other. If we deny this distinction, we do so at the risk of the whole coherence of the universe in a single order.


Following a comment of Habermas, Benedict stresses that philosophy includes, not excludes, its own history. It cannot be a Cartesian beginning with nothing in each case of thought. "Philosophy does not start again from zero with every thinking subject in total isolation, but takes its placed within the great dialogue of historical wisdom, which it continually accepts and develops in manner both critical and docile. It must not exclude what, the Christian faith in particular, has received and have given to humanity as signposts for the journey." It is not rational to say, "let's philosophize" but then exclude the philosophical record of the Logos, the "I Am who am." Christianity and its address to reason cannot be excluded because it is only "private" or a "myth." It is neither. It is itself essential to the fullness of what it is to think on what is.

All through his career, Benedict has been careful to give science in the modern sense its due. He never denies its positive accomplishments, only its presumption that its limited method is sufficient to cover all the reality to which our minds are open. The pope recognizes that our whole civilization is at stake in these philosophic issues. "The danger for the western world—to speak only of this—is that today, precisely because of the greatness of his knowledge and power, man will fail to face up to the question of the truth." Rather reason will bow to interests, to massive projects to reconstruct man and his world in the image not of God but of himself as presupposed to nothing.

Benedict has long considered the present intellectual battlefield is Europe and its culture of reason and revelation. "Applied to our European culture, this means: if our culture seeks only to build itself on the basis of the circle of its own argumentation, on what convinces it at the time, and if—anxious to preserve its secularism--it detaches itself from its life-giving roots, then it will not become more reasonable or purer, but will fall apart and disintegrate." Such is what Benedict had to tell the students and faculty at La Sapienza. This is what the objectors did not want anyone to hear or consider. Any student at such a university who was not outraged by this overt threat to deny him of a discourse on what is true has not yet felt the passion for truth that runs through the soul of Benedict XVI.

Recalling the famous question of Pilate, Benedict still reminds us that we have to "face up" to the question "what is truth?" Revelation exists in part because this question can never be allowed to die among us. The complete political closure of the academia to truth in its fullness recalls the old Platonic and Aristotelian positions that a "City in Speech," a philosophy of what is, abides over all polities and all souls who have taken the trouble to ask about what man really is? What is his destiny? The La Sapienza Lecture, I think, reminds us of the fundamental importance of the fullness of reason and of the revelation directed particularly to it.


Papal Address to Gift of Mary House
"God Always Comes to Meet Our Needs"

ROME, JAN. 11, 2008 - Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's Jan. 4 address to the Gift of Mary House run by the Missionaries of Charity in the Vatican. The translation from the original Italian was provided by L'Osservatore Romano.

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Dear Friends,

I have come to pay you a visit at the beginning of the new year while we are still breathing the family atmosphere of Christmas, and I immediately take this opportunity to express to you all my most fervent and cordial good wishes.

I greet with affection those of you present here together with those in the other rooms of this house, which is called "Gift of Mary," who are watching us and are joining in by means of television link-up.

For many years, when I was prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, I would spend several hours of the day near your praiseworthy institution, desired by my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, and entrusted by him to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta.

Thus, I was able to appreciate the generous service of Gospel charity which the Missionaries of Charity have been carrying out for almost 20 years now with the help and collaboration of many people of good will.

I am here with you today to renew my gratitude to the sisters, the volunteer workers and the various collaborators.

I am here above all to express my spiritual closeness to you, dear friends, who in this house find a loving welcome, attention, understanding and daily support, both material and spiritual. I am here to tell you that the Pope loves you and is close to you.

I thank the superior of the Missionaries of Charity who is ending her service and has expressed your common sentiments, addressing kind words of welcome to me on behalf of all.

I greet the new superior who is taking on responsibility for the house with that style of docile availability which is typical of the spiritual daughters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

To experience the Virgin's love

When this house was founded, Blessed Mother Teresa desired to call it "Gift of Mary," hoping, as it were, that it might always be possible to experience in it the love of the Blessed Virgin.

For anyone who knocks at the door, it is in fact a gift of Mary to feel welcomed by the loving arms of the sisters and volunteers.

The presence of those who are ready to listen to people in difficulty and serve them with that very attitude which impelled Mary to go straightaway to St. Elizabeth is another gift of Mary.

May this style of Gospel love always seal and distinguish your vocation so that, in addition to material aid, you may communicate to all whom you meet daily on your path that same passion for Christ and that shining "smile of God" which enlivened Mother Teresa's life.

Mother Teresa used to like to say: It is Christmas every time we allow Jesus to love others through us. Christmas is a mystery of love, the mystery of Love.

The Christmas season, re-presenting the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem for our contemplation, shows us the infinite goodness of God who, by making himself a child, desired to satisfy the needs of human poverty and loneliness; he accepted to dwell among us, sharing our daily difficulties; he did not hesitate to bear with us the burden of existence with its effort and anxiety.

He was born for us in order to stay with us and to offer to each one who opens to him the door of his or her heart the gift of his joy, his peace, his love.

Since he was born in a grotto, because there was no room for him elsewhere, Jesus experienced the hardships that many of you yourselves experience.

Christmas helps us understand that God never abandons us and always comes to meet our needs. He protects us and is concerned with each one of us, because every person, especially the lowliest and most defenseless, is precious in the eyes of the Father, rich in tenderness and mercy.

For us and for our salvation he sent into the world his Son, whom we contemplate in the mystery of Christmas as the Emmanuel, God-with-us.

With these sentiments, I renew to you all my most fervent good wishes for the New Year which has just begun, assuring you of my daily remembrance in prayer. And as I invoke the motherly protection of Mary, Mother of Christ and our Mother, I affectionately impart my blessing to you all.

[After his Visit the Pope spoke to the male and female religious communities prior to his departure:]

Dear sisters and dear brothers,

I greet you with affection and I thank you for your warm welcome. Please convey my most cordial greeting to Sister Nirmala and assure her of my prayers for you and for the Congregation.

I am happy to meet together the superior-generals of the two male branches of the family founded by Blessed Mother Teresa, the Missionaries of Charity Fathers and the Missionaries of Charity Contemplative Brothers.

I also greet with warm cordiality the lay collaborators and guests present here, extending my appreciation to all those who offer their service in this place to ensure that the guests may feel as though they were at home.

All together, you form a chain of Christian charity without which this house, like any voluntary work, could neither exist nor continue to serve so many forms of hardship and need.

I therefore express my gratitude and encouragement to each and every one of you, for I know that all you do here for every brother and sister, you do for Christ himself.

House for the poor beside Peter

The visit I wanted to make today comes in continuation with the numerous visits of my beloved Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II. He was very eager to have this house to welcome the poorest of the poor precisely here where the center of the Church is located, beside Peter who served, followed and loved the Lord Jesus.

Our meeting is taking place almost 20 years after the construction and inauguration of this home within the Leonine Walls. Indeed, it was on May 21, 1988, that beloved John Paul II inaugurated this "Gift of Mary."

How many gestures of sharing, of concrete charity, have been made in these years within these walls! They are a sign and an example for Christian communities so that they may pledge to be communities that are always welcoming and open.

At the beginning of the New Year, the beautiful name of this house, "Gift of Mary," invites us to make a tireless gift of our lives.

May the Virgin Mary, who offered the whole of herself to the Almighty and was filled with every grace and blessing with the coming of the Son of God, teach us to make our existence a daily gift to God the Father at the service of our brethren as we listen to his Word and his will.

And just as the holy Magi came from afar to adore the Messiah-King, may you too go forth on the highways of the world, dear brothers and sisters, following Mother Teresa's example, always witnessing joyfully to the love of Jesus, especially for the least and for the poor, and may your blessed foundress accompany and protect you from heaven.

I warmly renew the apostolic blessing to you who are present here, to the guests of the house and to all your collaborators.


Papal Address to Rome's University Students
"Is Not the Theme of Hope Particularly Suited to Young People?"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 24, 2007- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Dec. 13 address to university students of Rome.

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Saint Peter's Basilica
Thursday, 13 December 2007

Dear Friends,

I am very pleased to meet so many of you at this traditional encounter close to the Birth of Christ. I greet and thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini who has celebrated the Eucharist, together with the University Chaplains, to whom I address a cordial thought. I greet the Authorities, in the first place the Minister for Universities with the Rectors, the Professors and all the students. I am grateful to the Rector of the University's Biomedical Campus and to the student of the Law Faculty of Roma Tre, who in the name of you all have addressed to me expressions of affection and good wishes. I warmly exchange these sentiments, offering good wishes to each one of you for a peaceful and holy Christmas. I would like to reserve a special greeting to the young people of the Albanian delegation who have brought back to Rome the icon of Mary Sedes Sapientiae, and to those of the Romanian delegation who will receive the image of Mary this evening so that it may be a "pilgrim" of peace and hope in their Country.

Dear young university students, at this familiar encounter, permit me to bring to your attention two brief reflections. The first regards the journey of your spiritual formation. The Diocese of Rome wanted to give greater emphasis to young university students' preparation for Confirmation; therefore, your pilgrimage to Assisi last 10 November represented the "summons" and this evening your attendance has been the "response". In fact, about 150 of you were presented as candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation, which you will receive at the next Pentecost Vigil. This is a worthy initiative that fits well into the itinerary of preparation for the World Youth Day scheduled to take place in Sydney in July 2008.

To the candidates for the Sacrament of Confirmation and to all of you, dear young friends, I would like to say: direct your gaze to the Virgin Mary and from her "yes", learn also to pronounce your "yes" to the divine call. The Holy Spirit enters into our lives in the measure in which we open our hearts with our "yes": the fuller the "yes", the fuller is the gift of his presence. To understand better, we can refer to a very simple reality: light. If a window's shutters are hermetically sealed, although the light is shining it cannot illuminate the house. If there is a little fissure, a ray of light enters; if the shutters are opened a little more, the room begins to lighten up, but only when completely opened do the sun's rays illuminate and warm the environment. Dear friends, Mary is greeted by the Angel as "full of grace", which means exactly this: her heart and her life are totally open to God, and this is why she is completely pervaded by his grace. May she help you to make yourselves a free and full "yes" to God, so that you can be renewed, indeed, transformed by the light and joy of the Holy Spirit.

The second reflection that I wish to propose to you concerns the recent Encyclical on Christian hope entitled, as you know, Spe Salvi, "In hope we were saved", words taken from St Paul's Letter to the Romans (8: 24). Ideally, I consign it to you, dear university students of Rome, and through you to the whole university, scholastic, cultural and educational world. Is not the theme of hope particularly suited to young people? In particular I suggest you make the part of the Encyclical that concerns the hope of the modern age an object of your reflection and discussion, even in groups. In the 17th century, Europe experienced an authentic epochal turning point and from then on it has increasingly confirmed a mentality which views human progress alone as the work of science and technology, while faith concerns only the salvation of the soul, a purely individual salvation. The two great idea-powers of modernity, reason and freedom, are as it were separated from God in order to become autonomous and to cooperate in the construction of the "kingdom of man", practically in opposition to the Kingdom of God. From here a materialistic concept spread, nourished by the hope that, by changing the economic and political structures, one could finally bring about a just society where peace, freedom and equality reign. This process, which is not deprived of values and historical motivations, contains, however, a fundamental error: man, in fact, is not only the product of determined economic and social conditions; technical progress does not necessarily coincide with the moral growth of the person; rather, without ethical principles science, technology and politics can be used, as has happened and unfortunately still happens, not for the good but harm of individuals and of humanity.

Dear friends, it is such current themes that stimulate your reflection and favour even more the positive comparison and collaboration that already exist among all State, private and pontifical universities. The city of Rome continues to be a privileged place of study and cultural development, as took place last June with the meeting of over 3,000 European university professors. Rome is also the model of hospitality for foreign students and I am pleased to greet, in this regard, the university delegations from the various European and American cities. May the light of Christ, which we invoke through the intercession of Mary, Star of Hope, and of the holy virgin and martyr Lucy, whose memory we recall today, always enlighten your life. With these wishes, I whole-heartedly wish you and your relatives a Christmas rich in grace and peace, while I warmly impart the Apostolic Blessing to all.


Pope's Address to Catholic NGOs
"Called to Take Part in Public Life in a Personal Capacity"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 2, 2007 - Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday upon receiving in audience participants in the Forum of Catholic-Inspired Nongovernmental Organizations.

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Your Excellencies,
Representatives of the Holy See to International Organizations,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet all of you who are assembled in Rome to reflect on the contribution which Catholic-inspired Non-governmental Organizations can offer, in close collaboration with the Holy See, to the solution of the many problems and challenges associated with the various activities of the United Nations and other international and regional organizations. To each of you I offer a cordial welcome. In a particular way I thank the Substitute of the Secretariat of State, who has graciously interpreted your common sentiments, while at the same time informing me of the goals of your Forum. I also greet the young representative of the Non-governmental Organizations present.

Taking part in this important meeting are representatives of groups long associated with the presence and activity of the Catholic laity at the international level, along with members of other, more recent groups which have come into being as part of the current process of global integration. Also present are groups mainly committed to advocacy, and others chiefly concerned with the concrete management of cooperative projects promoting development. Some of your organizations are recognized by the Church as public and private associations of the lay faithful, others share in the charism of certain institutes of consecrated life, while still others enjoy only civil recognition and include non-Catholics and non-Christians among their members. All of you, however, have in common a passion for promoting human dignity. This same passion has constantly inspired the activity of the Holy See in the international community. The real reason for the present meeting, then, is to express gratitude and appreciation for what you are doing in active collaboration with the papal representatives to international organizations. In addition, this meeting seeks to foster a spirit of cooperation among your organizations and consequently the effectiveness of your common activity on behalf of the integral good of the human person and of all humanity.

This unity of purpose can only be achieved through a variety of roles and activities. The multilateral diplomacy of the Holy See, for the most part, strives to reaffirm the great fundamental principles of international life, since the Church’s specific contribution consists in helping "to form consciences in political life and to stimulate greater insight into the authentic requirements of justice as well as greater readiness to act accordingly" ("Deus Caritas Est," 28). On the other hand, "the direct duty to work for a just ordering of society is proper to the lay faithful" -- and in the context of international life this includes Christian diplomats and members of Non-governmental Organizations -- who "are called to take part in public life in a personal capacity" and "to configure social life correctly, respecting its legitimate autonomy and cooperating with other citizens according to their respective competences and fulfilling their own responsibility" (ibid., 29).

International cooperation between governments, which was already emerging at the end of the nineteenth century and which grew steadily throughout the last century despite the tragic disruption of two world wars, has significantly contributed towards the creation of a more just international order. In this regard, we can look with satisfaction to achievements such as the universal recognition of the juridical and political primacy of human rights, the adoption of shared goals regarding the full enjoyment of economic and social rights by all the earth’s inhabitants, the efforts being made to develop a just global economy and, more recently, the protection of the environment and the promotion of intercultural dialogue.

At the same time, international discussions often seem marked by a relativistic logic which would consider as the sole guarantee of peaceful coexistence between peoples a refusal to admit the truth about man and his dignity, to say nothing of the possibility of an ethics based on recognition of the natural moral law. This has led, in effect, to the imposition of a notion of law and politics which ultimately makes consensus between states -- a consensus conditioned at times by short-term interests or manipulated by ideological pressure -- the only real basis of international norms. The bitter fruits of this relativistic logic are sadly evident: we think, for example, of the attempt to consider as human rights the consequences of certain self-centred lifestyles; a lack of concern for the economic and social needs of the poorer nations; contempt for humanitarian law, and a selective defence of human rights. It is my hope that your study and reflection during these days will result in more effective ways of making the Church’s social doctrine better known and accepted on the international level. I encourage you, then, to counter relativism creatively by presenting the great truths about man’s innate dignity and the rights which are derived from that dignity. This in turn will contribute to the forging of a more adequate response to the many issues being discussed today in the international forum. Above all, it will help to advance specific initiatives marked by a spirit of solidarity and freedom.

What is needed, in fact, is a spirit of solidarity conducive for promoting as a body those ethical principles which, by their very nature and their role as the basis of social life, remain non-negotiable. A spirit of solidarity imbued with a strong sense of fraternal love leads to a better appreciation of the initiatives of others and a deeper desire to cooperate with them. Thanks to this spirit, one will always, whenever it is useful or necessary, work in collaboration either with the various non-governmental organizations or the representatives of the Holy See, with due respect for their differences of nature, institutional ends and methods of operation. On the other hand, an authentic spirit of freedom, lived in solidarity, will help the initiative of the members of non-governmental organization to create a broad gamut of new approaches and solutions with regard to those temporal affairs which God has left to the free and responsible judgement of every individual. When experienced in solidarity, legitimate pluralism and diversity will lead not to division and competition, but to ever greater effectiveness. The activities of your organizations will bear genuine fruit provided they remain faithful to the Church’s magisterium, anchored in communion with her pastors and above all with the successor of Peter, and meet in a spirit of prudent openness the challenges of the present moment.

Dear friends, I thank you once again for your presence today and for your dedicated efforts to advance the cause of justice and peace within the human family. Assuring you of a special remembrance in my prayers, I invoke upon you, and the organizations you represent, the maternal protection of Mary, Queen of the World. To you, your families and your associates, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Pope's Response to Muslim Scholars' Letter
"We Can and Therefore Should Look to What Unites Us"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 29, 2007.- Here is Benedict XVI's response to the open letter that 138 Muslims scholars addressed to the Holy Father and Christian leaders on Oct. 13. The response was released by the Vatican press office today, and signed Nov. 19 on the Pontiff's behalf by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state.

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His Royal Highness
Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad bin Talal
The Royal Palace

From the Vatican, November 19, 2007

Your Royal Highness,

On 13 October 2007 an open letter addressed to His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and to other Christian leaders was signed by one hundred and thirty-eight Muslim religious leaders, including Your Royal Highness. You, in turn, were kind enough to present it to Bishop Salim Sayegh, Vicar of the Latin Patriarch of Jerusalem in Jordan, with the request that it be forwarded to His Holiness.

The Pope has asked me to convey his gratitude to Your Royal Highness and to all who signed the letter. He also wishes to express his deep appreciation for this gesture, for the positive spirit which inspired the text and for the call for a common commitment to promoting peace in the world.

Without ignoring or downplaying our differences as Christians and Muslims, we can and therefore should look to what unites us, namely, belief in the one God, the provident Creator and universal Judge who at the end of time will deal with each person according to his or her actions. We are all called to commit ourselves totally to him and to obey his sacred will.
Mindful of the content of his Encyclical Letter "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love), His Holiness was particularly impressed by the attention given in the letter to the twofold commandment to love God and one’s neighbour.

As you may know, at the beginning of his Pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI stated: "I am profoundly convinced that we must not yield to the negative pressures in our midst, but must affirm the values of mutual respect, solidarity and peace. The life of every human being is sacred, both for Christians and for Muslims. There is plenty of scope for us to act together in the service of fundamental moral values" (Address to Representatives of Some Muslim Communities, Cologne, 20 August 2005). Such common ground allows us to base dialogue on effective respect for the dignity of every human person, on objective knowledge of the religion of the other, on the sharing of religious experience and, finally, on common commitment to promoting mutual respect and acceptance among the younger generation. The Pope is confident that, once this is achieved, it will be possible to cooperate in a productive way in the areas of culture and society, and for the promotion of justice and peace in society and throughout the world.

With a view to encouraging your praiseworthy initiative, I am pleased to communicate that His Holiness would be most willing to receive Your Royal Highness and a restricted group of signatories of the open letter, chosen by you. At the same time, a working meeting could be organized between your delegation and the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, with the cooperation of some specialized Pontifical Institutes (such as the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies and the Pontifical Gregorian University). The precise details of these meetings could be decided later, should this proposal prove acceptable to you in principle.

I avail myself of the occasion to renew to Your Royal Highness the assurance of my highest consideration.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State


Papal Message for Migrants Day
"The Gospel Is Alive and Suited to Every Situation"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2007 .- Here is the text of Benedict XVI's message for the 94th World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which was presented today. The text was signed Oct. 18, and the World Day is scheduled for Jan. 13, which will focus on the theme of young migrants.

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The theme of the World Day of Migrants and Refugees invites us this year to reflect in particular on young migrants. As a matter of fact, the daily news often speaks about them. The vast globalization process underway around the world brings a need for mobility, which also induces many young people to emigrate and live far from their families and their countries. The result is that many times the young people endowed with the best intellectual resources leave their countries of origin, while in the countries that receive the migrants, laws are in force that make their actual insertion difficult. In fact, the phenomenon of emigration is becoming ever more widespread and includes a growing number of people from every social condition. Rightly, therefore, the public institutions, humanitarian organizations and also the Catholic Church are dedicating many of their resources to helping these people in difficulty.

For the young migrants, the problems of the so-called "difficulty of dual belonging" seem to be felt in a particular way: on the one hand, they feel a strong need to not lose their culture of origin, while on the other, the understandable desire emerges in them to be inserted organically into the society that receives them, but without this implying a complete assimilation and the resulting loss of their ancestral traditions. Among the young people, there are also girls who fall victim more easily to exploitation, moral forms of blackmail, and even abuses of all kinds. What can we say, then, about the adolescents, the unaccompanied minors that make up a category at risk among those who ask for asylum? These boys and girls often end up on the street abandoned to themselves and prey to unscrupulous exploiters who often transform them into the object of physical, moral and sexual violence.

Next, looking more closely at the sector of forced migrants, refugees and the victims of human trafficking, we unhappily find many children and adolescents too. On this subject it is impossible to remain silent before the distressing images of the great refugee camps present in different parts of the world. How can we not think that these little beings have come into the world with the same legitimate expectations of happiness as the others? And, at the same time, how can we not remember that childhood and adolescence are fundamentally important stages for the development of a man and a woman that require stability, serenity and security? These children and adolescents have only had as their life experience the permanent, compulsory "camps" where they are segregated, far from inhabited towns, with no possibility normally to attend school. How can they look to the future with confidence? While it is true that much is being done for them, even greater commitment is still needed to help them by creating suitable hospitality and formative structures.

Precisely from this perspective the question is raised of how to respond to the expectations of the young migrants? What can be done to help them? Of course, it is necessary to aim first of all at support for the family and schools. But how complex the situations are, and how numerous the difficulties these young people encounter in their family and school contexts! In families, the traditional roles that existed in the countries of origin have broken down, and a clash is often seen between parents still tied to their culture and children quickly acculturated in the new social contexts. Likewise, the difficulty should not be underestimated which the young people find in getting inserted into the educational course of study in force in the country where they are hosted. Therefore, the scholastic system itself should take their conditions into consideration and provide specific formative paths of integration for the immigrant boys and girls that are suited to their needs. The commitment will also be important to create a climate of mutual respect and dialogue among all the students in the classrooms based on the universal principles and values that are common to all cultures. Everyone's commitment -- teachers, families and students -- will surely contribute to helping the young migrants to face in the best way possible the challenge of integration and offer them the possibility to acquire what can aid their human, cultural and professional formation. This holds even more for the young refugees for whom adequate programs will have to be prepared, both in the scholastic and the work contexts, in order to guarantee their preparation and provide the necessary bases for a correct insertion into the new social, cultural and professional world.

The Church looks with very particular attention at the world of migrants and asks those who have received a Christian formation in their countries of origin to make this heritage of faith and evangelical values bear fruit in order to offer a consistent witness in the different life contexts. Precisely in this regard, I invite the ecclesial host communities to welcome the young and very young people with their parents with sympathy, and to try to understand the vicissitudes of their lives and favor their insertion.

Then, among the migrants, as I wrote in last year's Message, there is one category to consider in a special way: the students from other countries who because of their studies, are far from home. Their number is growing constantly: they are young people who need a specific pastoral care because they are not just students, like all the rest, but also temporary migrants. They often feel alone under the pressure of their studies and sometimes they are also constricted by economic difficulties. The Church, in her maternal concern, looks at them with affection and tries to put specific pastoral and social interventions into action that will take the great resources of their youth into consideration. It is necessary to help them find a way to open up to the dynamism of interculturality and be enriched in their contact with other students of different cultures and religions. For young Christians, this study and formation experience can be a useful area for the maturation of their faith, a stimulus to be open to the universalism that is a constitutive element of the Catholic Church.

Dear young migrants, prepare yourselves to build together your young peers a more just and fraternal society by fulfilling your duties scrupulously and seriously towards your families and the State. Be respectful of the laws and never let yourselves be carried away by hatred and violence. Try instead to be protagonists as of now of a world where understanding and solidarity, justice and peace will reign. To you, in particular, young believers, I ask you to profit from your period of studies to grow in knowledge and love of Christ. Jesus wants you to be his true friends, and for this it is necessary for you to cultivate a close relationship with Him constantly in prayer and docile listening to his Word. He wants you to be his witnesses, and for this it is necessary for you to be committed to living the Gospel courageously and expressing it in concrete acts of love of God and generous service to your brothers and sisters. The Church needs you too and is counting on your contribution. You can play a very providential role in the current context of evangelization. Coming from different cultures, but all united by belonging to the one Church of Christ, you can show that the Gospel is alive and suited to every situation; it is an old and ever new message. It is a word of hope and salvation for the people of all races and cultures, of all ages and eras.

To Mary, the Mother of all humanity, and to Joseph, her most chaste spouse, who were both refugees together with Jesus in Egypt, I entrust each one of you, your families, those who take care of the vast world of young migrants in various ways, the volunteers and pastoral workers that are by your side with their willingness and friendly support.

May the Lord always be close to you and your families so that together you can overcome the obstacles and the material and spiritual difficulties you encounter on your way. I accompany these wishes with a special Apostolic Blessing for each one of you and for those who are dear to you.

From the Vatican, October 18, 2007



Papal Address to University Federation
"Whoever Wants to Be a Disciple of Christ Is Called to Go Against the Tide"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2007 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Nov. 9 address to the members of the Italian Catholic University Federation.

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Clementine Hall

Friday, 9 November 2007

Dear Young Friends of FUCI,

This visit you are making at the conclusion of the 110th anniversary celebrations of the birth of your Association, FUCI, the Italian Catholic University Federation, is particularly welcome. I address to each one of you my cordial greeting, beginning with the National Presidents and the Prime Ecclesial Assistants, and I thank them for the words they addressed to me in your name. I greet Bishop Giuseppe Betori, General Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference, and Bishop Domenico Sigalini of Palestrina and Assistant General Chaplain of the Italian Catholic Action, who have accompanied you to this Audience and whose presence witnesses to how strongly FUCI is rooted in the Church in Italy. I greet the diocesan Chaplains and the members of the FUCI Foundation. To each one of you I renew the Church's appreciation for the work your Association does in the university world at the service of the Gospel.

FUCI is celebrating its 110 years: a fitting occasion to review the ground covered and its future prospects. Safeguarding the historic memory is valuable because, by considering the validity and consistency of its own roots, it is more enthusiastic in continuing the itinerary begun. On this joyful occasion, I willingly take up the words that approximately 10 years ago my Venerable and beloved Predecessor John Paul II addressed to you on the occasion of your centenary: "The history of the past 100 years", he said, "actually confirms that the FUCI experience is a significant chapter of the Church's life in Italy, especially of that vast and multiform lay movement which found in Catholic Action its main support" (Discourse, 29 April 1996; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 22 May, n. 3, p. 4).

How can one fail to recognize that FUCI has contributed to the formation of entire generations of exemplary Christians, who have been able to transform the Gospel into life and with life, committing themselves on the cultural, civil, social and ecclesial levels? I am thinking in the first place of the young Blesseds Piergiorgio Frassati and Alberto Marvelli. I recall illustrious personalities like Aldo Moro and Vittorio Bachelet, both barbarously assassinated. Nor can I forget my Venerable Predecessor Paul VI, who was an attentive and courageous General Ecclesial Chaplain of FUCI in the difficult years of Fascism, and also Bishop Emilio Guano and Bishop Franco Costa. Moreover, the recent 10 years have been characterized by FUCI's decisive commitment to rediscover its true university dimension. After several debates and heated discussions, Italy began during the mid-'90s a radical reform of its academic system, which now presents a new profile, rich in promising perspectives, combined, however, with elements that raise legitimate concern. And you, both at the recent Congresses and on the pages of the Ricerca journal, are constantly concerned with the new configuration of academic studies, the relative legislative modifications, the topic of student participation and the ways in which the global dynamics of communication affect formation and the transmission of knowledge.

It is precisely in this environment that FUCI can fully express even today its original and ever-current charism: the convinced witness of the "possible friendship" between intelligence and faith, which implies the ceaseless effort to unite maturation in faith with growth in studies and the acquisition of scientific knowledge. In this context the expression so dear to you, "To believe in study" is meaningful. In effect, why should one who holds the faith renounce the freedom to seek the truth, and why should one who freely seeks the truth renounce the faith? Instead, it is possible, precisely during the university years and thanks to them, to realize an authentic human, scientific and spiritual maturation. "To believe in study" means to recognize that study and research - especially during the university years - have an intrinsic power to widen the horizons of human intelligence, as long as academic study remains demanding, rigorous, serious, methodical and progressive. Indeed, on these conditions, it represents an advantage for the global formation of the human person, as Bl. Giuseppe Tovini used to say, observing that with study young people would never have been poor, while without study they would never have been rich.

At the same time, study constitutes a providential opportunity to advance on the journey of faith, because a well-cultivated intelligence opens the heart of man to listen to the voice of God, emphasizing the importance of discernment and humility. I referred precisely to the value of humility at the recent Agorà [meeting] at Loreto, when I exhorted Italian youth not to follow the dictates of pride, but rather, the realistic sense of life open to the transcendent dimension. Today, as in the past, whoever wants to be a disciple of Christ is called to go against the tide, not to be attracted by the interesting and persuasive appeals which come from various platforms that propagandize behaviour marked by arrogance and violence, presumption and gaining success by every means. Contemporary society is marked by such an unbridled race for appearances and possessions and unfortunately to the detriment of being, and the Church, expert in humanity, does not tire to exhort especially the young generations to which you belong, to remain vigilant and not to be afraid to choose "alternative" ways that only Christ can indicate.

Yes, dear friends, Jesus summons all his friends to characterize their existence by a sober, solidary way of life, to weave sincere and free emotional relationships with others. He asks you, dear young students, to commit yourselves honestly to study, cultivating a mature sense of responsibility and a shared interest in the common good. The university years are therefore a training ground for convinced and courageous Gospel witness. To accomplish your mission, seek to cultivate an intimate friendship with the divine Teacher, placing yourself at the school of Mary, Seat of Wisdom. I entrust you to her maternal intercession and, while I assure you of my remembrance in prayer, I warmly impart to all with affection a special Apostolic Blessing, which I willingly extend to your families and loved ones.


Pope's Address to Food and Agriculture Organization
"Peace, Prosperity and Respect for Human Rights Are Inseparably Linked"  (November 22, 2007)

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 22, 2007 - Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI delivered today to members of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

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Mr President,

Mr Director General,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you gather for the Thirty-fourth Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, I am pleased to welcome you to the Vatican. Our meeting today is part of a tradition reaching back to the time when your Organization first set up its headquarters in Rome. I am happy to have yet another occasion to express appreciation for your work to eliminate the scourge of global hunger.

As you know, the Holy See has always maintained a keen interest in every effort made to rid the human family of famine and malnutrition, in the awareness that resolving these problems requires not only extraordinary dedication and highly refined technical training, but above all a genuine spirit of cooperation uniting all men and women of good will.

This noble goal calls for unwavering acknowledgement of the inherent dignity of the human person at every stage of life. All forms of discrimination, and particularly those that thwart agricultural development, must be rejected since they constitute a violation of the basic right of every person to be "free from hunger". These convictions are in fact demanded by the very nature of your work on behalf of the common good of humanity, as expressed so eloquently by your motto -- fiat panis -- words that are also at the heart of the Gospel which the Church is called to proclaim.

The data gathered through your research and the extent of your programmes for supporting the global endeavour to develop the world’s natural resources clearly testify to one of the most troubling paradoxes of our time: the relentless spread of poverty in a world that is also experiencing unprecedented prosperity, not only in the economic sphere but also in the rapidly developing fields of science and technology.

The obstacles standing in the way of overcoming this tragic situation can at times be discouraging. Armed conflicts, outbreaks of disease, adverse atmospheric and environmental conditions and the massive forced displacement of peoples: all these obstacles should serve as a motivation to redouble our efforts to provide each person with his or her daily bread. For her part, the Church is convinced that the quest for more effective technical solutions in an ever-changing and expanding world calls for far-sighted programmes embodying enduring values grounded in the inalienable dignity and rights of the human person.

FAO continues to play an essential role in relieving world hunger, while reminding the international community of the pressing need constantly to update methods and to design strategies adequate to today’s challenges. I express my appreciation for the generous efforts made in this regard by all associated with your Organization. The Holy See has closely followed the activities of FAO over the last sixty years and is confident that the significant results already achieved will continue. FAO was one of the first international organizations with which the Holy See established regular diplomatic relations. On 23 November 1948, during the Fourth Session of your Conference, the Holy See was granted the unique status of "Permanent Observer", thus ensuring its right to participate in the activities of FAO’s various departments and affiliated agencies in a way consonant with the Church’s religious and moral mission.

The united effort of the international community to eliminate malnutrition and promote genuine development necessarily calls for clear structures of management and oversight, and a realistic assessment of the resources needed to address a wide range of different situations. It requires the contribution of every member of society -- individuals, volunteer organizations, businesses, and local and national governments -- always with due regard for those ethical and moral principles which are the common patrimony of all people and the foundation of all social life. The international community must always avail itself of this precious treasure of common values since genuine and lasting development can only be furthered in a spirit of cooperation and a willingness to share professional and technical resources.

Indeed, today more than ever, the human family needs to find the tools and strategies capable of overcoming the conflicts caused by social differences, ethnic rivalries, and the gross disparity in levels of economic development. Mankind is thirsting for true and lasting peace -- a peace that can only come about if individuals, groups at every level, and government leaders cultivate habits of responsible decision-making rooted firmly in the fundamental principles of justice. It is therefore essential that societies dedicate their energies to educating authentic peacemakers: this is a task which falls in a particular way to organizations like your own, which cannot fail to recognize as the foundation of authentic justice the universal destination of the goods of creation.

Religion, as a potent spiritual force for healing the wounds of conflict and division, has its own distinctive contribution to make in this regard, especially through the work of forming minds and hearts in accordance with a vision of the human person.

Ladies and Gentlemen, technical progress, important as it is, is not everything. Such progress must be placed within the wider context of the integral good of the human person. It must constantly draw nourishment from the common patrimony of values which can inspire concrete initiatives aimed at a more equitable distribution of spiritual and material goods. As I wrote in my encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," "those who are in a position to help others will realize that, in doing so, they themselves receive help; being able to help others is no merit or achievement of their own" (No. 35). This principle has a special application to the world of agriculture, in which the work of those who are often considered the "lowliest" members of society should be duly acknowledged and esteemed.

FAO’s outstanding activity on behalf of development and food security clearly points to the correlation between the spread of poverty and the denial of basic human rights, beginning with the fundamental right to adequate nutrition. Peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights are inseparably linked. The time has come to ensure, for the sake of peace, that no man, woman and child will ever be hungry again!

Dear friends, in renewing my esteem for your work, I assure you of my prayers that Almighty God will enlighten and guide your deliberations, so that the activity of FAO will respond ever more fully to the human family’s yearning for solidarity, justice and peace.


Papal Address to Missionaries
"The Baptized Are Called to the Spreading of the Gospel"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 16, 2007.- Here is the text of the address Benedict XVI delivered today in English to superiors general of missionary societies, in Rome for a meeting organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

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Your Eminence,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Fathers,

It is a particular pleasure for me to greet you, the Superiors General of Missionary Societies of Apostolic Life, meeting here in Rome at the invitation of the Congregation for the Evangelization of People. Your assembly, which brings together the Superiors of the fifteen Missionary Societies of pontifical right and the six of diocesan right, bears eloquent witness to the continuing vitality of the missionary impulse in the Church and the spirit of communion uniting your members and their manifold activities to the Successor of Peter and his universal apostolic ministry.

Your meeting is also a concrete sign of the historic relationship between the various Missionary Societies of Apostolic Life and the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. In these days you have sought to examine new ways of consolidating and strengthening this privileged relationship. As the Second Vatican Council observed, Christ’s command to preach the Gospel to every creature applies primarily and immediately to the College of Bishops, cum et sub Petro (cf. "Ad Gentes," 38). Within the hierarchical unity of the Body of Christ, enriched by the variety of gifts and charisms bestowed by the Spirit, communion with the successors of the Apostles remains the criterion and guarantee of the spiritual fruitfulness of all missionary activity. For the Church’s communion in faith, hope and love is itself the sign and foretaste of that unity and peace which is God’s plan in Christ for the whole human family.

One of the promising indications of a renewal in the Church’s missionary consciousness in recent decades has been the growing desire of many lay men and women, whether single or married, to cooperate generously in the missio ad gentes. As the Council stressed, the work of evangelization is a fundamental duty incumbent upon the whole People of God, and all the baptized are called to "a lively awareness of their personal responsibility for the spreading of the Gospel" ("Ad Gentes," 36). While some Missionary Societies have had a long history of close collaboration with lay men and women, others have only more recently developed forms of lay association with their apostolate. Given the extent and the importance of the contribution made by these associates to the work of the various Societies, the proper forms of their cooperation should naturally be governed by specific statutes and clear directives respectful of each institute’s proper canonical identity.

Dear friends, our meeting today gives me a welcome opportunity to express my gratitude to you and to all the members of your Societies, past and present, for your enduring commitment to the Church’s mission. Today, as in the past, missionaries continue to leave their families and homes, often at great sacrifice, for the sole purpose of proclaiming the Good News of Christ and serving him in their brothers and sisters. Many of them, also in our time, have heroically confirmed their preaching by the shedding of their blood, and contributed to establishing the Church in distant lands. Today, changed circumstances have led in many cases to a decrease in the number of young people who are attracted to missionary societies, and a consequent decline in missionary outreach. All the same, as the late Pope John Paul II insisted, the mission ad gentes is still only beginning, and the Lord is summoning us, all of us, to be committed wholeheartedly to its service (cf. "Redemptoris Missio," 1). "The harvest is great!" (Mt 9:37) While conscious of the challenges you face, I encourage you to follow faithfully in the footsteps of your founders, and to stir into flame the charisms and apostolic zeal which you have inherited from them, confident that Christ will continue to work with you and to confirm your preaching with signs of his presence and power (cf. Mk 16:20).

With great affection, I commend you, together with the members and associates of your various Societies, to the loving protection of Mary, Mother of the Church. To all of you I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of wisdom, strength and peace in the Lord.


Papal Address to Focolare Families
"Your Task Is a Silent and Deep Commitment to Evangelization"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 15, 2007 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Nov. 3 address to the New Families Movement of the lay Catholic Focalare Movement.

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Clementine Hall Saturday, 3 November 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Welcome and thank you for coming to visit me. You come from the five continents and belong to The New Families Movement which came into being 40 years ago in the context of the Focolare Movement. You are thus a branch of Focolare and today form a network of at least 800,000 families working in 182 nations, all committed to making their home a "focolare" [hearth] which radiates in the world the witness of a Gospel-style family life. I offer each one of you my most cordial greeting, which I extend also to those who have wished to accompany you at our meeting. I greet in a special way your leaders who have conveyed your common sentiments and described to me your Movement's working methods as well as its goals. I thank you for the greetings you have brought me from Chiara Lubich, to whom I send my warm good wishes, thanking her because she continues to guide the large family of the Focolare with wisdom and unswerving attachment to the Church.

As has just been recalled, it is precisely in the context of this vast and praiseworthy institution that you, dear married couples, place yourselves at the service of the world of families with an important and ever timely pastoral action that has four orientations: spirituality, education, sociability and solidarity. Your task is effectively a silent and deep commitment to evangelization with the goal of testifying that only family unity, a gift of God-Love, can make the family a true nest of love, a home that welcomes life and a school of virtue and Christian values for children. As you confront the many social and economic, cultural and religious issues that challenge contemporary society in every part of the world, your work, truly providential, is a sign of hope and an encouragement for Christian families to be a privileged "space" where the beauty of making Jesus Christ the focus and of faithfully following his Gospel is proclaimed in everyday life, sometimes despite many difficulties. Indeed, your meeting's theme: "A house built on the rock -- the Gospel lived, a response to the problems of families today", emphasizes the importance of this ascetical and pastoral itinerary. The secret is precisely to live the Gospel!

Rightly, therefore, in the work of the assembly during these days, in addition to contributions that illustrate the situation of today's families in the different cultural contexts, you have planned to deepen your knowledge of the Word of God and to hear the testimonies that show how the Holy Spirit acts in hearts and in family life, even in complex and difficult situations. Only think of the uncertainties of engaged couples as they face definitive decisions for the future, of the crisis of couples, of separations and divorces as well as irregular unions, of the condition of widows, of families in difficulty and of welcoming abandoned minors. I warmly hope that also thanks to your commitment, pastoral strategies may be identified to cope with the increasing needs of families today and the multiple challenges that face them, so that they will not fail in their special mission in the Church and in society.

In this regard, in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation "Christifideles Laici," my venerable and beloved Predecessor John Paul II noted that the Church maintains that for the faithful, "the first and basic expression of the social dimension... is the married couple and the family" (n. 40). To bring this vocation to fruition, the family, aware that it is the primary cell of society, must not forget that it can find strength in a Sacrament desired by Christ to reinforce the love between man and woman: a love understood as a gift of self, reciprocal and profound. As John Paul II likewise observed: "The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God's love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church, his Bride" ("Familiaris Consortio," n. 17). Thus, according to the divine plan, the family is a sacred and sanctifying place and the Church, which has always been close to the family, supports it in this mission, especially today when the internal and external threats to it are so numerous. In order not to succumb to discouragement, divine help is essential; thus, every Christian family must look with trust to the Holy Family, the original "domestic Church" in which "through God's mysterious design, it was in that family that the Son of God spent long years of a hidden life. It is therefore the prototype and example for all Christian families" (ibid., n. 45).

Dear brothers and sisters, the humble and holy Family of Nazareth, the icon and model of every human family, will not let you go without its heavenly support. Nonetheless, your ceaseless recourse to prayer, to listening to the Word of God and to an intense sacramental life is indispensable, together with a constant effort to live Christ's commandment of love and forgiveness. Love does not seek its own interests, it does not harbour rancour for evil received but rejoices in truth. Love "bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things" (I Cor 13: 5-7). Dear brothers and sisters, continue your journey and be witnesses of this Love which will make you increasingly the "heart" and "leaven" of the entire New Families Movement. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for each one of you, for your activities and all those you meet in your apostolate, and with affection I now impart to you all the Apostolic Blessing.


Papal Message on the Common Good
"Only Together Is It Possible to Attain It and Safeguard Its Effectiveness"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 14, 2007 - Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI sent on the occasion of the Sept. 23-28 Italian Catholic Social Week.

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To my Venerable Brother Archbishop Angelo Bagnasco President of the Italian Bishops' Conference

This year is the centenary of the first Italian Catholic Social Week, which was held in Pistoia from 23 to 28 September 1907 particularly at the initiative of Prof. Giuseppe Toniolo. He was a splendid lay Catholic, scientist and social apostle, protagonist of the Catholic Movement at the end of the 19th century and the dawn of the 20th. On this important jubilee, I willingly send my cordial greeting to you, Venerable Brother, to Bishop Arrigo Miglio of Ivrea, President of the Scientific Committee and organizer of the Social Weeks, to the collaborators and to all the participants in the 45th Week that will be held in Pistoia and Pisa from the 18th to the 21st of this month. Although the theme chosen -- "The common good today: a commitment that comes from afar" -- has already been treated during previous Weeks, it has kept its timeliness intact. Indeed, it is appropriate that it be studied and explained precisely now in order to avoid a generic and at times improper use of the term "common good".

The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, with reference to the teaching of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," n. 26), specifies that "the common good does not consist in the simple sum of the particular goods of each subject of a social entity. Belonging to everyone and to each person, it is and remains "common' because it is indivisible and because only together is it possible to attain it, increase it and safeguard its effectiveness, with regard also to the future" (n. 164). Francisco Suárez, a theologian, had already earlier identified a "bonum commune omnium nationum," which means: "a common good of the human race". Therefore, in the past and especially today in the epoch of globalization, the common good has been and should be considered and promoted also in the context of international relations. It clearly appears that precisely for the social foundation of human existence, the good of each person is naturally connected with the good of all humanity. The beloved Servant of God John Paul II noted in this regard in the Encyclical "Sollicitudo Rei Socialis" that: "It is above all a question of interdependence, sensed as a system determining relationships in the contemporary world, in its economic, cultural, political and religious elements, and accepted as a moral category" (n. 38). And he added: "When interdependence becomes recognized in this way, the correlative response as a moral and social attitude, as a "virtue', is solidarity. "This then is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far. "On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all" (ibid.).

In the Encyclical "Deus Caritas Est," I wanted to recall that "the formation of just structures is not directly the duty of the Church, but belongs to the world of politics, the sphere of the autonomous use of reason" (n. 29). I then noted that: "The Church has an indirect duty here, in that she is called to contribute to the purification of reason and to the reawakening of those moral forces without which just structures are neither established nor prove effective in the long run" (ibid.). What better occasion than this to reaffirm that working for a just order in society is a direct task proper to the lay faithful? As citizens of the State, it is their duty to take part in public life in the first person and, with respect for the legitimate autonomies, to cooperate in forming social life correctly, together with all other citizens, in accordance with the competencies of each one and under his or her own autonomous responsibility. In my Intervention at the National Ecclesial Convention of Verona last year, I reaffirmed that the immediate duty to act in the political sphere to build a just order in Italian society is not the Church's task as such, but rather, that of the lay faithful. They must dedicate themselves with generosity and courage to this duty of great importance, illuminated by faith and by the Church's Magisterium and animated by the charity of Christ ("Address at the Fourth Italian National Ecclesial Convention," 19 October 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 25 October, p. 8). For this reason the Social Weeks for Italian Catholics were wisely instituted, and this providential initiative will also be able to make a crucial contribution to the formation and animation of Christianly inspired citizens in the future.

The daily news demonstrates that contemporary society is facing many ethical and social emergencies that could undermine its stability and seriously jeopardize its future. Particularly relevant is the current anthropological question which embraces respect for human life and the attention to be paid to the needs of the family founded on the marriage of a man and a woman. As has been affirmed several times, it is not a matter of solely "Catholic" values and principles but of defending and protecting common human values, such as justice, peace and the safeguarding of creation. What can then be said of the problems concerning work in relation to the family and young people? When lack of steady work does not permit young people to have a family of their own, society's authentic and full development is seriously jeopardized. Here I repeat the invitation I addressed to Italian Catholics at the Ecclesial Convention in Verona, to be ready to welcome the great opportunity that these challenges offer and not to react with a defeatist withdrawal into themselves, but on the contrary, with a renewed dynamism, to trustingly open themselves to new relationships and not waste any energy that could contribute to Italy's cultural and moral growth.

Lastly, I cannot fail to mention a specific context that prompts Catholics also in Italy to question themselves: it is the context of the relationship between religion and politics. The substantial novelty brought by Jesus is that he opened the way to a more human and freer world, with full respect for the distinction and autonomy that exists between what belongs to Caesar and what belongs to God (cf. Mt 22: 21). If, therefore, on the one hand, the Church recognizes that she is not and does not intend to be a political agent, on the other, she cannot avoid concerning herself with the good of the whole civil community in which she lives and works and to which she makes her own special contribution, shaping in the political and entrepreneurial classes a genuine spirit of truth and honesty geared to seeking the common good rather than personal advantage.

These are the particularly timely topics to which the upcoming Italian Catholic Social Week will give its attention. I assure my special remembrance in prayer to those who will be taking part in it and as I wish them fertile and fruitful work for the good of the Church and the entire Italian People, I warmly impart to all a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 12 October 2007


Papal Address to Catholic Pharmacists Congress
You "Must Invite Each Person to Advance Humanity"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 8, 2007 - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address Oct. 29 to participants of the 25th International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists, held in Rome.

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Consistory Hall
Monday, 29 October 2007

Mr President,
Dear Friends,

I am happy to welcome you, members of the International Congress of Catholic Pharmacists, on the occasion of your 25th Congress, whose theme is: "The new boundaries of the pharmaceutical act".

The current development of an arsenal of medicines and the resulting possibilities for treatment oblige pharmacists to reflect on the ever broader functions they are called to fulfil, particularly as intermediaries between doctor and patient; they have an educational role with patients to teach them the proper dosage of their medication and especially to acquaint them with the ethical implications of the use of certain drugs. In this context, it is not possible to anaesthetize consciences, for example, concerning the effects of particles whose purpose is to prevent an embryo's implantation or to shorten a person's life. The pharmacist must invite each person to advance humanity, so that every being may be protected from the moment of conception until natural death, and that medicines may fulfil properly their therapeutic role. No person, moreover, may be used thoughtlessly as an object for the purpose of therapeutic experimentation; therapeutic experimentation must take place in accordance with protocols that respect fundamental ethical norms. Every treatment or process of experimentation must be with a view to possible improvement of the person's physical condition and not merely seeking scientific advances. The pursuit of good for humanity cannot be to the detriment of people undergoing treatment. In the moral domain, your Federation is invited to address the issue of conscientious objection, which is a right your profession must recognize, permitting you not to collaborate either directly or indirectly by supplying products for the purpose of decisions that are clearly immoral such as, for example, abortion or euthanasia.

It would also be advisable that the different pharmaceutical structures, laboratories at hospital centres and surgeries, as well as our contemporaries all together, be concerned with showing solidarity in the therapeutic context, to make access to treatment and urgently needed medicines available at all levels of society and in all countries, particularly to the poorest people.

Prompted by the Holy Spirit, may you as Catholic pharmacists find in the life of faith and in the Church's teaching elements that will guide you in your professional approach to the sick, who are in need of human and moral support if they are to live with hope and find the inner resources that will help them throughout their lives. It is also your duty to help young people who enter the different pharmaceutical professions to reflect on the increasingly delicate ethical implications of their activities and decisions. To this end, it is important that all Catholic health-care professionals and people of good will join forces to deepen their formation, not only at a technical level but also with regard to bioethical issues, as well as to propose this formation to the profession as a whole. The human being, because he or she is the image of God, must always be the centre of research and choices in the biomedical context. At the same time, the natural principle of the duty to provide care for the sick person is fundamental. The biomedical sciences are at the service of the human being; if this were not the case, they would have a cold and inhuman character. All scientific knowledge in the health sector and every therapeutic procedure is at the service of the sick person, viewed in his integral being, who must be an active partner in his treatment and whose autonomy must be respected.

As I entrust you as well as the sick people you are called to treat to the intercession of Our Lady and of St Albert the Great, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to all the members of your Federation and your families.


Message for Tourism Day '07
"Work for an Effective Equality of Women's Rights"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a message from Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Pope's secretary of state, written on behalf of Benedict XVI and conveyed to Francesco Frangialli, secretary-general of the World Tourism Organization on the occasion of the 28th World Day of Tourism. The theme of this year's event is "Tourism Opens Doors for Women."

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Dear Dr. Frangialli,

The World Tourism Day will be celebrated next 27 September. For this occasion the Holy Father desires to convey his cordial greeting to you, through me, together with his hope that the event will serve to strengthen the positive values of tourism.

One of the most characteristic social and cultural phenomena that the twentieth century has passed on to the twenty-first is the gradual empowerment of women as creative individuals in human history. In his Encyclical "Pacem in terris," Blessed John XXIII pointed out "the part that women are now playing in political life" as a characteristic sign of the times and noted, "women are gaining an increasing awareness of their natural dignity. Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument, they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons." (n .41).

Very fittingly, therefore, the World Tourism Organization is proposing as the theme for reflection this year: "Tourism opens doors for women". The Day is a felicitous and important opportunity to reflect on the various aspects of the issue, not only with regard to the complex reality of contemporary tourism but also the more general consideration of the acceptance in practice of the needs that derive from the dignity proper to women.

The most recent statistical data published by the World Tourism Organization show that despite the differences between countries and between geographical areas, about 46% of the work force of the world tourist industry is made up of women. However, forms of employment vary, given the very strong influence of cultural, social and religious factors on the historical situation of women. The positive achievement of financial and economic results, both public and private, and the enormous flexibility of the tourist sector are the cause of this rapid and universal growth. For this reason, while it is still in great need of legal, cultural and moral guarantees, tourism is nonetheless an open door that offers favourable opportunities for the empowerment of women in every part of the world.

All those who travel for purposes of tourism, world or a vacation have impressed in their memory an image of the women who intervened to carry out some specific task at different moments on their journey. It may be an image of the travel agency employee, the flight attendant, the tour guide, the waitress in a restaurant, the chamber maid, the hotel manager, the museum guide or the poor woman selling local products and artefacts. These women have roles that differ but that nonetheless must never be in opposition to the dignity proper to every woman. Unfortunately, it must be recognized that despite this massive and functional female presence, the vertical segregation of women by directors and those with managerial responsibilities in tourism frequently persists. The cause of this negative phenomenon is to be sought in the strong prejudices that nourish the endurance of stereotypes and of the traditional attribution of subordinate roles according to gender. And this is true everywhere, but particularly in those parts of the world where the moral, cultural and civil consideration of women relegates them to conditions of minority and pronounced injustice. Yet, the large number of men and women tourists travelling across the world creates an encounter of mindsets, increasingly internationalizes models of life and opens people to different customs. All this implies the possibility for positive developments. For these to take place, those in charge of the World Tourism Organization, National States together with regional agencies, large companies in this category, trade unions and tourist associations must create structures and allocate financial resources to protecting, developing and keeping alive the moral, cultural and social structure of respect for women and their effective growth in this sector.

Every tourist, whatever his/her social class or continent, must feel challenged in conscience by this responsible commitment to the safeguarding and promotion of women. No one may consider him/herself exonerated! To this end, it is necessary to work for an effective equality of women's rights, to guarantee to them fairness in work, religious freedom, respect for the requirements of motherhood and the payment of equally remunerative wages. The right of young and older women to study and to obtain professional qualifications should be concretely encouraged, combating with positive and consistent legislation every form of unjust exploitation of their gender and of the unworthy trade in their bodies as a commodity. In fact, it is only right to denounce the intolerable scandal of a certain sex tourism which humiliates women, reducing them in practice to a situation of slavery. All the necessary must be done to prevent tourism from drifting in this direction and to ensure that it always aims to be an opportunity for fruitful dialogue between different civilizations which may be reciprocally ennobled and enriched through this encounter.

In her structured and multi-facetted vision, the Church obviously always aspires to keeping the horizon of the humanization of tourism open and critical because of the opportunities it offers for the growth, development and perfection of the person. Concerning women as such, tourism can also contribute effectively -- ethically and anthropologically, of course -- to increasing their potential, their relational nature, their feminine feeling for the value of life and of the spirit, and to rethinking their work and their benefit. In this regard it should not be forgotten that in his Message for the World Day of Peace this year, the Holy Father denounced the lack of respect for the dignity of women caused by "the mindset persisting in some cultures, where women are still firmly subordinated to the arbitrary decisions of men, with grave consequences for their personal dignity and for the exercise of their fundamental freedoms" (n. 7).

Only by overcoming these forms of discrimination will it be possible to make tourism a trump card for appropriately combining the management of the tourist's life with the guarantee of quality of life for the residents. In this way, tourism could become an authentic and shared enjoyment of leisure time and nature, the experience and practice of a hospitality suited to creating a culture of acceptance and the search for beauty, and wisdom with which the biblical and Christian tradition abounds.

In this perspective, while the Holy Father hopes for gifts of wisdom, generosity and courage in abundance for those involved in this most important sector of modern life, he invokes upon you, Mr Secretary General, and upon your Collaborators the Blessings of God, "the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change" (Jas 1:17).

As I add my own good wishes for the success of the Day, I make the most of this opportunity to offer you my respectful regards,

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State
Vatican City, 20 August 2007


Pope's Address to Centrist Democrat International
"When Justice Is Compromised, Peace Itself Is Jeopardized"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 21, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today upon receiving in audience the participants of a meeting of the Centrist Democrat International (IDC) political party at Castel Gandolfo.

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Mister President,
Honourable Members of Parliament,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you during the conference of the Executive Committee of Centrist Democratic International, and I extend cordial greetings to the Delegates present from many nations throughout the world. I thank your President, the Honourable Pier Ferdinando Casini, for the kind words of greeting he has offered to me on your behalf. Your visit gives me an opportunity to bring to your attention some of the values and ideals that have been moulded and deepened in a decisive way by the Christian tradition in Europe and throughout the world.

Notwithstanding your different backgrounds, I know that you share several basic principles of this tradition, such as the centrality of the human person, a respect for human rights, a commitment to peace and the promotion of justice for all. You appeal to fundamental principles, which, as history has shown, are closely interconnected. In effect, when human rights are violated, the dignity of the human person suffers; when justice is compromised, peace itself is jeopardized. On the other hand, justice is truly human only when the ethical and moral vision grounding it is centred on the human person and his inalienable dignity.

Ladies and Gentlemen, your activity, inspired by these principles, is subject to increasing challenges today due to the profound changes taking place in your respective communities. For this reason, I wish to encourage you to persevere in your efforts to serve the common good, taking it upon yourselves to prevent the dissemination and entrenchment of ideologies which obscure and confuse consciences by promoting an illusory vision of truth and goodness. In the economic sphere, for example, there is a tendency to view financial gain as the only good, thus eroding the internal ethos of commerce to the point that even profit margins suffer. There are those who maintain that human reason is incapable of grasping the truth, and therefore of pursuing the good that corresponds to personal dignity. There are some who believe that it is legitimate to destroy human life in its earliest or final stages. Equally troubling is the growing crisis of the family, which is the fundamental nucleus of society based on the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman. Experience has shown that when the truth about man is subverted or the foundation of the family undermined, peace itself is threatened and the rule of law is compromised, leading inevitably to forms of injustice and violence.

Another cause highly esteemed by all of you is the defence of religious liberty, which is a fundamental, irrepressible, inalienable and inviolable right rooted in the dignity of every human being and acknowledged by various international documents, especially the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice. In fact, religious liberty corresponds to the human person's innate openness to God, who is the fullness of truth and the supreme good. An appreciation for religious freedom is a fundamental expression of respect for human reason and its capacity to know the truth. Openness to transcendence is an indispensable guarantee of human dignity since within every human heart there are needs and desires which find their fulfilment in God alone. For this reason, God can never be excluded from the horizon of man and world history! That is why all authentically religious traditions must be allowed to manifest their own identity publicly, free from any pressure to hide or disguise it.

Moreover, due respect for religion helps to counter the charge that society has forgotten God: an accusation shamelessly exploited by some terrorist networks in an attempt to justify their threats against global security. Terrorism is a serious problem whose perpetrators often claim to act in God's name and harbour an inexcusable contempt for human life. Society naturally has a right to defend itself, but this right must be exercised with complete respect for moral and legal norms, including the choice of ends and means. In democratic systems, the use of force in a manner contrary to the principles of a constitutional State can never be justified. Indeed, how can we claim to protect democracy if we threaten its very foundations? Consequently, it is necessary both to keep careful watch over the security of civil society and its citizens while at the same time safeguarding the inalienable rights of all. Terrorism needs to be fought with determination and effectiveness, mindful that if the mystery of evil is widespread today, the solidarity of mankind in goodness is an even more pervasive mystery.

In this regard, the social teaching of the Catholic Church offers some points for reflection on how to promote security and justice both at the national and international levels. This teaching is based on reason, natural law and the Gospel: that is, principles that both accord with and transcend the nature of every human being. The Church knows that it is not her specific task to see to the political implementation of this teaching: her objective is to help form consciences in political life, to raise awareness of the authentic requirements of justice, and to foster a greater readiness to act accordingly, even when this might involve conflict with situations of personal interest (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 28). In this her mission, the Church is moved only by love for humanity and the desire to work together with all people of goodwill to build a world in which the dignity and inalienable rights of all persons will be safeguarded. For those of you who share a faith in Christ, the Church asks you to bear witness to that faith today with even greater courage and generosity. The integrity of Christians in political life is indeed more necessary than ever so that the "salt" of apostolic zeal does not lose its "flavour", and so that the "lamp" of Gospel values enlightening the daily work of Christians is not obscured by pragmatism or utilitarianism, suspicion or hate.

Your Excellencies, I thank you once again for this welcome opportunity to meet with you. Wishing you success in your respective missions, I assure all of you of a remembrance in my prayers, that Almighty God may bless you and your families, and that you may receive the wisdom, integrity and moral strength to serve the great and noble cause of human dignity.


Papal Message to Environmental Conference
"Highly Industrialized Countries Must Share 'Clean-technologies'"

VIENNA, Austria, SEPT. 7, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Orthodox Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople on the occasion of the VII Symposium on Religion, Science and the Environment, being held in Greenland through Sept. 12.

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To His Holiness Bartholomaios I
Archbishop of Constantinople
Ecumenical Patriarch

It gives me great joy to greet you and all those taking part in the Seventh Symposium of the Religion, Science and the Environment movement, which this year turns its attention to the subject: "The Arctic: Mirror of Life". Your own dedication and personal commitment to the protection of the environment demonstrates the pressing need for science and religion to work together to safeguard the gifts of nature and to promote responsible stewardship. Through the presence of Cardinal McCarrick I wish to reaffirm my fervent solidarity with the aims of the project and to assure you of my hope for a deepening global recognition of the vital relationship between the ecology of the human person and the ecology of nature (cf. Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace, 8).

Preservation of the environment, promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are matters of grave concern for the entire human family. No nation or business sector can ignore the ethical implications present in all economic and social development. With increasing clarity scientific research demonstrates that the impact of human actions in any one place or region can have worldwide effects. The consequences of disregard for the environment cannot be limited to an immediate area or populus because they always harm human coexistence, and thus betray human dignity and violate the rights of citizens who desire to live in a safe environment (cf. ibid., 8-9).

This year's symposium, dedicated again to the earth's water resources, takes you and various religious leaders, scientists, and other interested parties to the Ilulissat Icefjord on the west coast of Greenland. Gathered in the magnificent beauty of this unique glacial region and World Heritage site your hearts and minds turn readily to the wonders of God and in awe echo the words of the Psalmist praising the name of the Lord who is "majestic in all the earth". Immersed in contemplation of the "work of his fingers" (Ps 8), the perils of spiritual alienation from creation become plainly evident. The relationship between individuals or communities and the environment ultimately stems from their relationship with God. When "man turns his back on the Creator's plan, he provokes a disorder which has inevitable repercussions on the rest of the created order" (Message for the 1990 World Day of Peace, 5).

Your Holiness, the international and multi-disciplinary nature of the symposium attests to the need to seek global solutions to the matters under consideration. I am encouraged by the growing recognition that the entire human community -- children and adults, industry sectors, States and international bodies -- must take seriously the responsibility that falls to each and every one of us. While it is true that industrializing countries are not morally free to repeat the past errors of others, by recklessly continuing to damage the environment (cf. ibid., 10), it is also the case that highly industrialized countries must share 'clean-technologies' and ensure that their own markets do not sustain demand for goods whose very production contributes to the proliferation of pollution. Mutual interdependence between nations' economic and social activities demands international solidarity, cooperation and on-going educational efforts. It is these principles which the Religion, Science and the Environment movement courageously upholds.

With sentiments of deep appreciation, and mindful of our commitment to encourage and support all efforts made to protect God's works, (cf. Common Declaration, 30 November 2006), I pray that the Almighty will abundantly bless this year's symposium. May he accompany you and all those gathered with you, so that all creation may give praise to God!

From the Vatican, 1 September 2007



Papal Address on Ministry to Prisoners
"Called to Be Heralds of God’s Infinite Compassion"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 6, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the participants at a world congress on pastoral care in prisons.

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Castel Gandolfo
Thursday, 6 September 2007

Dear Friends,

I am pleased to welcome you as you gather in Rome for the Twelfth World Congress of the International Commission of Catholic Prison Pastoral Care. I thank your President, Doctor Christian Kuhn, for the kind words expressed on behalf of the Executive Board of the Commission.

The theme of your Congress this year, “Discovering the Face of Christ in Every Prisoner” (Mt 25:36), aptly portrays your ministry as a vivid encounter with the Lord. Indeed, in Christ the “love of God and love of neighbour have become one”, so that “in the least of the brethren we find Jesus himself, and in him…God” ("Deus Caritas Est," 15).

Your ministry requires much patience and perseverance. Not infrequently there are disappointments and frustrations. Strengthening the bonds that unite you with your bishops will enable you to find the support and guidance you need to raise awareness of your vital mission. Indeed, this ministry within the local Christian community will encourage others to join you in performing corporal works of mercy, thus enriching the ecclesial life of the diocese. Likewise, it will help to draw those whom you serve into the heart of the universal Church, especially through their regular participation in the celebration of the sacraments of Penance and the Holy Eucharist (cf. "Sacramentum Caritatis," 59).

Prisoners easily can be overwhelmed by feelings of isolation, shame and rejection that threaten to shatter their hopes and aspirations for the future. Within this context, chaplains and their collaborators are called to be heralds of God’s infinite compassion and forgiveness. In cooperation with civil authorities, they are entrusted with the weighty task of helping the incarcerated rediscover a sense of purpose so that, with God’s grace, they can reform their lives, be reconciled with their families and friends, and, insofar as possible, assume the responsibilities and duties which will enable them to conduct upright and honest lives within society.

Judicial and penal institutions play a fundamental role in protecting citizens and safeguarding the common good (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2266). At the same time, they are to aid in rebuilding “social relationships disrupted by the criminal act committed” (cf. "Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church," 403). By their very nature, therefore, these institutions must contribute to the rehabilitation of offenders, facilitating their transition from despair to hope and from unreliability to dependability. When conditions within jails and prisons are not conducive to the process of regaining a sense of a worth and accepting its related duties, these institutions fail to achieve one of their essential ends. Public authorities must be ever vigilant in this task, eschewing any means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners. In this regard, I reiterate that the prohibition against torture “cannot be contravened under any circumstances” (Ibid., 404).

I am confident that your Congress will provide an opportunity to share your experiences of the mysterious countenance of Christ shining through the faces of the imprisoned. I encourage you in your efforts to show that face to the world as you promote greater respect for the dignity of the detained. Finally, I pray that your Congress will be an occasion for you yourselves to appreciate anew how, in attending to the needs of the imprisoned, your own eyes are opened to the marvels God does for you each day (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 18).

With these sentiments I extend my heartfelt wishes to you and all the participants in the Congress for the success of your meeting and willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and your loved ones.


Papal Letter on Scouts
"A Forceful Presentation of Christianity"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's June 22 letter to Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the first Scout camp.

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To His Eminence Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard,
Archbishop of Bordeaux
President of the Bishops' Conference of France

The first of August 2007 will mark the 100th anniversary of the opening on Brownsea Island, England, of the first Scout camp organized by Lord Baden-Powell.

On this occasion, all those in the world, young people and adults who once made their Scout promise individually or as a group, will be invited to renew it and to make a gesture for peace, thereby stressing how close the vocation of a "peacemaker" is to the Scout ideal.

For a century, through games, action, adventure, contact with nature, a team spirit and service to others, an integral formation of the human person is offered to everyone who becomes a Scout.

Made fruitful by the Gospel, scouting is not only a place for true human growth but also for a forceful presentation of Christianity and real spiritual and moral development, as well as being an authentic path of holiness.

It would be appropriate to recall the words of Fr Jacques Sevin, S.J., the founder of Catholic Scouts: "Holiness does not belong to any specific period and has no specific uniform". The sense of responsibility inspired by the scouting pedagogy leads to a life in charity and the desire to serve one's neighbour in the image of Christ the servant, relying on the grace that he bestows especially in the Sacraments of the Eucharist and Reconciliation.

With all those in your Country who have benefited from belonging to a Scouts' association -- the Scouts and Guides of France, the Scouts and Guides of Europe or the United Scouts and Guides of France -- I rejoice that since the appeal for greater communion among Catholic Scouts launched by my Predecessor in 1997, there have been outstanding instances of collaboration, which have respected the sensibilities of each movement with a view to greater unity in the heart of the Church.

Indeed, Scout leaders will remember that their priority task is to awaken and form the personalities of the young people entrusted to them by their families, teaching them to encounter Christ and making them familiar with Church life.

It is also important that "Scout fellowship" is manifested and develops among Scouts and between the different movements, which was part of their initial ideal.

Furthermore, especially for the young generations, this "membership" demonstrates what the Body of Christ is, or, to use St Paul's image, all are called to carry out a mission in their own province, to rejoice in the progress of others and to help their brothers and sisters in their trials (cf. I Cor 12:12-26).

I thank the Lord for all the fruits which scouting has yielded in the past century. With the entire Church, I trust that the different movements, Scouts of France, Scouts and Guides of Europe, United Scouts and Guides of France, may pursue the route with ever greater interaction, and offer to today's boys and girls a pedagogy that forms in them a strong personality based on Christ, with the aspiration to live the high ideals of the faith and human solidarity.

From this viewpoint, the Scout promise and prayer form a basis and an ideal to develop throughout life. Lord Baden-Powell used to say this: "Always be faithful to your Scout Promise, even when you are no longer a child -- and may God help you to succeed!". When a person does his utmost to keep his promises, the Lord himself strengthens him on his way.

I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing to the Scouts and Guides who make up the three movements, to the young people and adults and to the chaplains who supervise them, to the families, to former Scouts and Guides and to you yourself as well as all the Pastors of the Church in France.

From the Vatican, 22 June 2007



Pope's Address to European Professors
"A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave to participants of the European Meeting of University Professors, gathered in Paul VI Hall. The four-day meeting ended today in Rome.

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Your Eminence,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Dear Friends!

I am particularly pleased to receive you during the first European Meeting of University Lecturers, sponsored by the Council of European Episcopal Conferences and organized by teachers from the Roman universities, coordinated by the Vicariate of Rome's Office for the Pastoral Care of Universities. It is taking place on the fiftieth anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which gave rise to the present European Union, and its participants include university lecturers from every country on the continent, including those of the Caucasus: Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan. I thank Cardinal Péter Erdo", President of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences, for his kind words of introduction. I greet the representatives of the Italian government, particularly those from the Ministry for Universities and Research, and from the Ministry for Italy's Cultural Heritage, as well as the representatives of the Region of Lazio and the Province and City of Rome. My greeting also goes to the other civil and religious authorities, the Rectors and the teachers of the various universities, as well as the chaplains and students present.

The theme of your meeting -- "A New Humanism for Europe. The Role of the Universities" -- invites a disciplined assessment of contemporary culture on the continent. Europe is presently experiencing a certain social instability and diffidence in the face of traditional values, yet her distinguished history and her established academic institutions have much to contribute to shaping a future of hope. The "question of man", which is central to your discussions, is essential for a correct understanding of current cultural processes. It also provides a solid point of departure for the effort of universities to create a new cultural presence and activity in the service of a more united Europe. Promoting a new humanism, in fact, requires a clear understanding of what this "newness" actually embodies. Far from being the fruit of a superficial desire for novelty, the quest for a new humanism must take serious account of the fact that Europe today is experiencing a massive cultural shift, one in which men and women are increasingly conscious of their call to be actively engaged in shaping their own history. Historically, it was in Europe that humanism developed, thanks to the fruitful interplay between the various cultures of her peoples and the Christian faith. Europe today needs to preserve and reappropriate her authentic tradition if she is to remain faithful to her vocation as the cradle of humanism.

The present cultural shift is often seen as a "challenge" to the culture of the university and Christianity itself, rather than as a "horizon" against which creative solutions can and must be found. As men and women of higher education, you are called to take part in this demanding task, which calls for sustained reflection on a number of foundational issues.

Among these, I would mention in the first place the need for a comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity. European culture in recent centuries has been powerfully conditioned by the notion of modernity. The present crisis, however, has less to do with modernity's insistence on the centrality of man and his concerns, than with the problems raised by a "humanism" that claims to build a regnum hominis detached from its necessary ontological foundation. A false dichotomy between theism and authentic humanism, taken to the extreme of positing an irreconcilable conflict between divine law and human freedom, has led to a situation in which humanity, for all its economic and technical advances, feels deeply threatened. As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, stated, we need to ask "whether in the context of all this progress, man, as man, is becoming truly better, that is to say, more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible and more open to others" ("Redemptor Hominis," 15). The anthropocentrism which characterizes modernity can never be detached from an acknowledgment of the full truth about man, which includes his transcendent vocation.

A second issue involves the broadening of our understanding of rationality. A correct understanding of the challenges posed by contemporary culture, and the formulation of meaningful responses to those challenges, must take a critical approach towards narrow and ultimately irrational attempts to limit the scope of reason. The concept of reason needs instead to be "broadened" in order to be able to explore and embrace those aspects of reality which go beyond the purely empirical. This will allow for a more fruitful, complementary approach to the relationship between faith and reason. The rise of the European universities was fostered by the conviction that faith and reason are meant to cooperate in the search for truth, each respecting the nature and legitimate autonomy of the other, yet working together harmoniously and creatively to serve the fulfilment of the human person in truth and love.

A third issue needing to be investigated concerns the nature of the contribution which Christianity can make to the humanism of the future. The question of man, and thus of modernity, challenges the Church to devise effective ways of proclaiming to contemporary culture the "realism" of her faith in the saving work of Christ. Christianity must not be relegated to the world of myth and emotion, but respected for its claim to shed light on the truth about man, to be able to transform men and women spiritually, and thus to enable them to carry out their vocation in history. In my recent visit to Brazil, I voiced my conviction that "unless we do know God in and with Christ, all of reality becomes an indecipherable enigma" (Address to Bishops of CELAM, 3). Knowledge can never be limited to the purely intellectual realm; it also includes a renewed ability to look at things in a way free of prejudices and preconceptions, and to allow ourselves to be "amazed" by reality, whose truth can be discovered by uniting understanding with love. Only the God who has a human face, revealed in Jesus Christ, can prevent us from truncating reality at the very moment when it demands ever new and more complex levels of understanding. The Church is conscious of her responsibility to offer this contribution to contemporary culture.

In Europe, as elsewhere, society urgently needs the service to wisdom which the university community provides. This service extends also to the practical aspects of directing research and activity to the promotion of human dignity and to the daunting task of building the civilization of love. University professors, in particular, are called to embody the virtue of intellectual charity, recovering their primordial vocation to train future generations not only by imparting knowledge but by the prophetic witness of their own lives. The university, for its part, must never lose sight of its particular calling to be an "universitas" in which the various disciplines, each in its own way, are seen as part of a greater unum. How urgent is the need to rediscover the unity of knowledge and to counter the tendency to fragmentation and lack of communicability that is all too often the case in our schools! The effort to reconcile the drive to specialization with the need to preserve the unity of knowledge can encourage the growth of European unity and help the continent to rediscover its specific cultural "vocation" in today's world. Only a Europe conscious of its own cultural identity can make a specific contribution to other cultures, while remaining open to the contribution of other peoples.

Dear friends, it is my hope that universities will increasingly become communities committed to the tireless pursuit of truth, "laboratories of culture" where teachers and students join in exploring issues of particular importance for society, employing interdisciplinary methods and counting on the collaboration of theologians. This can easily be done in Europe, given the presence of so many prestigious Catholic institutions and faculties of theology. I am convinced that greater cooperation and new forms of fellowship between the various academic communities will enable Catholic universities to bear witness to the historical fruitfulness of the encounter between faith and reason. The result will be a concrete contribution to the attainment of the goals of the Bologna Process, and an incentive for developing a suitable university apostolate in the local Churches. Effective support for these efforts, which have been increasingly a concern of the European Episcopal Conferences (cf. "Ecclesia in Europa," 58-59), can come from those ecclesial associations and movements already engaged in the university apostolate.

Dear friends, may your deliberations during these days prove fruitful and help to build an active network of university instructors committed to bringing the light of the Gospel to contemporary culture. I assure you and your families of a special remembrance in my prayers, and I invoke upon you, and the universities in which you work, the maternal protection of Mary, Seat of Wisdom. To each of you I affectionately impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Papal Address to Caritas Internationalis
"You Are Called to Spread the Love of God"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 8, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's Saturday address to representatives of Caritas Internationalis, who were having their general assembly in the Vatican.

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Dear Friends,

It is a special joy for me to welcome the participants in the Eighteenth General Assembly of Caritas Internationalis. I extend particular greetings to Doctor Denis Viénot and to the President of the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum", Archbishop Paul Josef Cordes, thanking them for their kind words a few moments ago. I also offer prayerful best wishes to the newly elected President of the Confederation, Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga. You have all come together in Rome during these days for a significant moment in the life of the Confederation, so that your member organizations can reflect, in an atmosphere of fraternal communion, on the challenges facing you at the present time. Moreover, you have taken important steps shaping your immediate future by electing the major officers of Caritas Internationalis. I am confident that your deliberations during these days have been of great benefit for you personally, for the work of your member organizations worldwide, and for all those you serve.

First of all, let me take this opportunity to thank you for the outstanding witness that your Confederation has given to the world, ever since the founding of the first national Caritas in Germany over a century ago. Since that time, there has been a great proliferation of organizations bearing the name -- on parish, diocesan and national levels -- and these have been gathered, through the initiative of the Holy See, into the Confederation Caritas Internationalis, which today numbers more than 150 national organizations. It was because of the public character of your charitable activity, rooted in the love of God, that my predecessor the Servant of God John Paul II conferred public and canonical legal personality upon Caritas Internationalis through the Pontifical Letter During the Last Supper of 16 September 2004. This status seals your organization’s ecclesial membership, giving it a specific mission within the Church. It means that your Confederation does not simply work on behalf of the Church, but is truly a part of the Church, intimately engaged in the exchange of gifts that takes place on so many levels of ecclesial life. As a sign of the Holy See’s support for your work, Caritas Internationalis has been granted its wish to be accompanied and guided by the Pontifical Council Cor Unum.

So what is the particular mission of your Confederation? What aspect of the Church's task falls to you and to your member organizations? You are called, by means of the charitable activity that you undertake, to assist in the Church’s mission to spread throughout the world the love of God that has been "poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit" (Rom 5:5). The very concept of caritas draws us into the heart of Christianity, into the heart of Christ, from which "rivers of living water" flow (cf. Jn 7:38). In the work of charitable organizations like yours, we see the fruits of Christ’s love. I developed this theme in my Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which I commend to you once more as a reflection on the theological significance of your action in the world. Charity has to be understood in the light of God who is caritas: God who loved the world so much that he gave his only Son (cf. Jn 3:16). In this way we come to see that love finds its greatest fulfilment in the gift of self. This is what Caritas Internationalis seeks to accomplish in the world. The heart of Caritas is the sacrificial love of Christ, and every form of individual and organized charity in the Church must always find its point of reference in him, the source of charity.

This theological vision has practical implications for the work of charitable organizations, and today I should like to single out two of them.

The first is that every act of charity should be inspired by a personal experience of faith, leading to the discovery that God is Love. The Caritas worker is called to bear witness to that love before the world. Christian charity exceeds our natural capacity for love: it is a theological virtue, as Saint Paul teaches us in his famous hymn to charity (cf. 1 Cor 13). It therefore challenges the giver to situate humanitarian assistance in the context of a personal witness of faith, which then becomes a part of the gift offered to the poor. Only when charitable activity takes the form of Christ-like self-giving does it become a gesture truly worthy of the human person created in God’s image and likeness. Lived charity fosters growth in holiness, after the example of the many servants of the poor whom the Church has raised to the dignity of the altars.

The second implication follows closely from the first. God’s love is offered to everyone, hence the Church's charity is also universal in scope, and so it has to include a commitment to social justice. Yet changing unjust structures is not of itself sufficient to guarantee the happiness of the human person. Moreover, as I affirmed recently to the Bishops gathered in Aparecida, Brazil, the task of politics "is not the immediate competence of the Church" (Address to the Fifth General Conference of the Bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean, 13 May 2007). Rather, her mission is to promote the integral development of the human person. For this reason, the great challenges facing the world at the present time, such as globalization, human rights abuses, unjust social structures, cannot be confronted and overcome unless attention is focused on the deepest needs of the human person: the promotion of human dignity, well-being and, in the final analysis, eternal salvation.

I am confident that the work of Caritas Internationalis is inspired by the principles that I have just outlined. Throughout the world there are countless men and women whose hearts are filled with joy and gratitude for the service you render them. I wish to encourage each one of you to persevere in your special mission to spread the love of Christ, who came so that all may have life in abundance. Commending all of you to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I am pleased to impart my Apostolic Blessing.


"The Lord of the Harvest Will Not Let us Lack Workers"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's May 5 address to the meeting of the superior council of pontifical mission societies and the congress of "fidei donum" missionaries.

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Clementine Hall
Saturday, 5 May 2007

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

I am particularly pleased to meet you after the solemn Eucharistic Celebration at which Cardinal Ivan Dias, Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, presided. In the first place, I address my cordial thoughts to him and thank him for his words to me on your behalf.

I extend my greeting to the Secretary and collaborators of the Missionary Dicastery, to the Prelates and priests present, to the men and women religious and to all who have taken part in the Congress held in the past few days to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Encyclical Letter Fidei Donum of the Servant of God Pope Pius XII.

Fifty years have passed since this venerable Predecessor of mine, facing the evolution of the times and looking out onto the scene of history of new peoples and nations, realized with farsighted pastoral wisdom that unheard of and providential horizons and missionary openings for the proclamation of the Gospel in Africa were unfolding.

Indeed, Pius XII was looking especially to Africa when, with prophetic intuition, he thought of that new missionary "subject" which takes its name "Fidei donum" from the first words of the Encyclical.

He was intending to encourage another type of missionary cooperation -- parallel to the traditional forms -- among the so-called "ancient" Christian Communities and those born lately or which are coming into being in recently-evangelized territories. He asked the "ancient" Churches to send several priests to help the "young" Churches, whose growth was promising, to collaborate with the local Ordinaries for a specific period.

This is what Pope Pacelli wrote: "As we direct our thoughts, on the one hand, to the countless multitudes of our sons who have a share in the blessings of divine faith, especially in countries that have long since become Christian, and on the other hand, as we consider the far more numerous throngs of those who are still waiting for the day of salvation to be announced to them, we are filled with a great desire to exhort you again and again, Venerable Brethren, to support with zealous interest the most holy cause of bringing the Church of God to all the world. May it come to pass that our admonitions will arouse a keener interest in the missionary apostolate among your priests and through them set the hearts of the faithful on fire!" (n. 4).

Consequently, the purpose that inspired the venerable Pontiff was twofold: on the one hand, to kindle a renewed missionary "flame" in every member of the Christian people, and on the other, to encourage a more aware collaboration between the Dioceses of ancient tradition and the regions of first evangelization.

In the course of these five decades, Pius XII's invitation has been reaffirmed on several occasions by all my Predecessors, and thanks to the impetus provided by the Second Vatican Council, the number of fidei donum priests has continued to multiply. They depart with religious and lay volunteers, bound for a mission in Africa and in other parts of the world, sometimes costing their Dioceses many sacrifices.

I would like here to express my special thanks to these brothers and sisters, some of whom poured out their blood in order to disseminate the Gospel.

The mission experience, as you well know, leaves an indelible mark on those who carry it out and at the same time helps to foster that ecclesial communion which makes all the baptized see themselves as members of the one Church, the Mystical Body of Christ.

During these decades, contacts and missionary exchanges have intensified, partly because of the development and increase in the means of communication, so that the Church has come into contact with practically every civilization and culture.

Moreover, the exchange of gifts between Ecclesial Communities of ancient and recent foundation has been a reciprocal enrichment and has fostered an increased awareness that we are all "missionaries", that is, we are all involved, albeit in different ways, in proclaiming and bearing witness to the Gospel.

While we thank the Lord for today's missionary commitment, we cannot fail to perceive at the same time the difficulties which are occurring in this context today. Among them, I limit myself to stressing the dwindling numbers and the ageing of the clergy in Dioceses that once sent missionaries to distant regions.

In the context of a widespread vocations crisis, this is undoubtedly a challenge to be faced. The Congress organized by the Pontifical Missionary Union to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Fidei Donum has made possible an attentive analysis of this situation which the Church is living today.

Although we cannot ignore the problems and shadows, nevertheless we must raise our gaze confidently to the future, giving a renewed and more authentic identity to "Fidei donum" missionaries in a world context which has undeniably changed in comparison with the 1950s.

If there are many challenges to evangelization in this age of ours, there are also many signs of hope in every part of the world that witness to an encouraging missionary vitality among the Christian people.

Above all, may people never forget that before leaving his disciples and ascending into Heaven, in sending them out to proclaim his Gospel in every corner of the world, the Lord assured them, "Lo, I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).

Dear brothers and sisters, this certainty must never abandon us. The Lord of the harvest will not let us lack workers for his harvest if we ask him for them with trust and persistence, in prayer and in docile listening to his words and teachings.

In this regard, I would like to take up the invitation which Pius XII addressed to the faithful of that time: "Especially in this our time on which the future growth of the Church in many areas is perhaps dependent", he wrote in his Encyclical, "let many Masses be offered for the sacred missions.... This is in accordance with the prayers of Our Lord, who loves his Church and wishes her to flourish and enlarge her borders throughout the whole world" (n. 52).

I make my own this same exhortation, convinced that in coming to meet our ceaseless requests the Lord will continue to bless the Church's missionary commitment with abundant apostolic fruits.

I commend this hope to Mary, Mother and Queen of the Apostles, while I cordially impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you who are present here and to all the world's missionaries.


Papal Message to "Together for Europe"
"A Matter of Defending a Human and Spiritual Heritage"

STUTTGART, Germany, MAY 14, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message sent on behalf of Benedict XVI by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to the meeting Together for Europe, which took place Saturday. More than 230 representatives of movements and Christian communities participated.

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It is with great pleasure that I convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI to the promoters and organizers and the numerous participants at the "Together for Europe 2007" event that is taking place on May 12 in Stuttgart.

The "Together for Europe" initiative that has come to life through the good ecumenical intuition of Roman Catholic, Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican groups, associations, movements and communities seeks to underline the need to re-affirm together faithfulness to the Gospel in a Europe that risks losing its original values and giving up on its Christian roots.

The words of the Venerable Pope John Paul II seem to be more relevant than ever: "I would like to mention in a particular way the loss of Europe's Christian memory and heritage, accompanied by a kind of practical agnosticism and religious indifference whereby many Europeans give the impression of living without spiritual roots and somewhat like heirs who have squandered a patrimony entrusted to them by history." (Post-Synodal exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa", 7).

Pope Benedict XVI echoes this consideration. From the beginning of his pontificate he has never missed an opportunity to recall the importance of safeguarding the Christian inheritance, the particular richness of the European continent.

The appeal not to lose our roots is like a repeated invitation to work concretely so that believers in Christ of different confessions may unite their efforts in the service of such a timely and relevant cause. It's a matter of defending a human and spiritual heritage that is vital for the authentic development of Europe. (…)

The Holy Father hopes therefore that the meeting "Together for Europe" may strengthen the desire for communion that animates lay movements and communities of the different churches; that it may contribute to overcoming prejudices, nationalism and historical barriers, and may urge people to work so that the spiritual dimension may not weaken in the Europe of post-modern times.

All human efforts would amount to nothing were we to be separated from divine support, because "Unless the LORD builds the house, they labour in vain who build" (Psalm 127). In counting on the help of the Almighty One you can look with trust to the present and to future, you can work with courage and perseverance knowing that the heavenly Father, in his providence and care, always renders fruitful the humble efforts of his children who want to do his will "on earth as it is in heaven".

It is with this spirit that Pope Benedict XVI invokes the divine blessing on all who participate in this meaningful event. To each and everyone I too assure you of my prayer and I take this opportunity to greet you cordially.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Vatican Secretary of State


Papal Address at the University of Pavia
"What the Person Needs Is Unity and Synthesis"

University's Theresian Courtyard, Pavia
Sunday, 22 April 2007

Rector Magnificent,
Distinguished Professors,
Dear Students,

Although it is brief, my Pastoral Visit to Pavia could not leave out a stop at this University, which has been a hallmark of your City for centuries.

I am therefore glad to find myself among you for this encounter, to which I attribute special importance since I also come from the academic world.

I greet with cordial respect the professors, and in the first place, Prof. Angiolino Stella, whom I thank for his courteous words. I greet the students, especially the young man who expressed the sentiments of the other university students. He reassured me of your courage in dedication to the truth, of your courage in seeking beyond the limits of the known and not surrendering to the weakness of reason. And I am very grateful to him for these words.

I also extend my good wishes to all the members of your academic community who were prevented from being present here today.

Your University is one of the oldest and most distinguished of the Italian Universities and -- I repeat the words of the Rector Magnificent -- among the teachers who have honoured it are figures such as Alessandro Volta, Camillo Golgi and Carlo Forlanini.

I am also eager to recall that teachers and students marked by an eminent spiritual stature have passed through your Athenaeum. They were: Michele Ghislieri, who later became Pope St Pius V, St Charles Borromeo, St Alessandro Sauli, St Riccardo Pampuri, St Gianna Beretta Molla, Bl. Contardo Ferrini and the Servant of God Teresio Olivelli.

Dear friends, every university has an inherent community vocation: indeed, it is, precisely, a universitas, a community of teachers and students committed to seeking the truth and to acquiring superior cultural and professional skills.

The centrality of the person and the community dimension are two co-essential poles for an effective structuring of the universitas studiorum.

Every university must always preserve the traits of a study centre "within man's reach", where the student is preserved from anonymity and can cultivate a fertile dialogue with his teachers from which he draws an incentive for his cultural and human growth.

From this structure derive certain applications that are connected to one another. First of all, it is certain that only by putting the person at the centre and making the most of dialogue and interpersonal relations can the specializing fragmentation of disciplines be overcome and the unitive perspective of knowledge be recovered.

Naturally, and also rightly, the disciplines tend to specialization, while what the person needs is unity and synthesis.

Secondly, it is fundamentally important that the commitment to scientific research be open to the existential question of meaning for the person's life itself. Research seeks knowledge, whereas the person also needs wisdom, that knowledge, as it were, which is expressed in the "knowing-living".

In the third place, only in appreciating the person and interpersonal relationships can the didactic relationship become an educational relationship, a process of human development. Indeed, the structure gives priority to communication while people aspire to sharing.

I know that this attention to the person, his integral experience of life and his aspiration to communion are very present in the pastoral action of the Church of Pavia in the field of culture. This is witnessed to by the work of University Colleges of Christian inspiration.

Among these, I too would like to recall the Collegio Borromeo, desired by St Charles Borromeo with Pope Pius IV's Bull of foundation, and the Collegio Santa Caterina, founded by the Diocese of Pavia to comply with the wishes of the Servant of God Paul VI, with a crucial contribution from the Holy See.

In this sense, the work of the parishes and ecclesial movements is also important, especially that of the Diocesan University Centre and the Italian Catholic University Students' Association (FUCI).

The purpose of their activity is to welcome the person in his totality, to propose harmonious processes of human, cultural and Christian formation, and to provide spaces for sharing, discussion and communion.

I would like to take this opportunity to ask both students and teachers not to feel that they are merely the object of pastoral attention but to participate actively and to make their contribution to the cultural project of Christian inspiration which the Church promotes in Italy and in Europe.

In meeting you, dear friends, the thought of Augustine, Co-Patron of this University together with St Catherine of Alexandria, springs spontaneously to mind. Augustine's existential and intellectual development witnesses to the fertile interaction between faith and culture.

St Augustine was a man driven by a tireless desire to find the truth, to find out what life is, to know how to live, to know man. And precisely because of his passion for the human being, he necessarily sought God, because it is only in the light of God that the greatness of the human being and the beauty of the adventure of being human can fully appear.

At first, this God appeared very remote to him. Then Augustine found him: this great and inaccessible God made himself close, one of us. The great God is our God, he is a God with a human face. Thus, his faith in Christ did not have its ultimate end in his philosophy or in his intellectual daring, but on the contrary, impelled him further to seek the depths of the human being and to help others to live well, to find life, the art of living.

This was his philosophy: to know how to live with all the reason and all the depths of our thought, of our will, and to allow ourselves to be guided on the path of truth, which is a path of courage, humility and permanent purification.

Faith in Christ brought all Augustine's seeking to fulfilment, but fulfilment in the sense that he always remained on the way. Indeed, he tells us: even in eternity our seeking will not be completed, it will be an eternal adventure, the discovery of new greatness, new beauty.

He interpreted the words of the Psalm, "Seek his face continually", and said: this is true for eternity; and the beauty of eternity is that it is not a static reality but immense progress in the immense beauty of God.

Thus, he could discover God as the founding reason, but also as love which embraces us, guides us and gives meaning to history and to our personal life.

This morning I had the opportunity to say that this love for Christ shaped his personal commitment. From a life patterned on seeking, he moved on to a life given totally to Christ and thus to a life for others.

He discovered -- this was his second conversion -- that being converted to Christ means not living for oneself but truly being at the service of all.

May St Augustine be for us and also for the academic world a model of dialogue between reason and faith, a model of a broad dialogue which alone can seek truth, hence, also peace.

As my venerable Predecessor, John Paul II commented in his Encyclical Fides et Ratio: "The Bishop of Hippo succeeded in producing the first great synthesis of philosophy and theology, embracing currents of thought both Greek and Latin. In him too the great unity of knowledge, grounded in the thought of the Bible, was both confirmed and sustained by a depth of speculative thinking" (n. 40).

I therefore invoke the intercession of St Augustine, so that the University of Pavia may always be distinguished by special attention to the individual, by an accentuated community dimension in scientific research and by a fruitful dialogue between faith and culture.

I thank you for your presence and as I wish you every good for your studies, I impart to you all my Blessing, which I extend to your relatives and loved ones.


Pope's Letter to Chancellor Merkel
"Poverty Should Be Given the Highest Attention"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the Dec. 16 German-language letter Benedict XVI sent to Chancellor Angela Merkel on the occasion of the beginning of the German presidency of the European Union and the G8.

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To Her Excellency
Dr Angela MERKEL
Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany

On 17 July 2006, at the conclusion of the Saint Petersburg Summit, you announced that under your Presidency, the Group of the seven leading economic powers plus Russia (G8) would continue to keep the question of global poverty on its agenda. Subsequently, on 18 October last, the German Federal Government stated that assistance to Africa would be a key priority at the Heiligendamm Summit.

I therefore write to you in order to express the gratitude of the Catholic Church and my own personal appreciation for these announcements.

I welcome the fact that the question of poverty, with specific reference to Africa, now appears on the agenda of the G8; indeed, it should be given the highest attention and priority, for the sake of poor and rich countries alike. The fact that the German Presidency of the G8 coincides with the Presidency of the European Union presents a unique opportunity to tackle this issue. I am confident that Germany will exercise positively the leadership role that falls to her with regard to this question of global importance that affects us all.

At our meeting on 28 August last, you assured me that Germany shares the Holy See's concern regarding the inability of rich countries to offer the poorest countries, especially those from Africa, financial and trade conditions capable of promoting their lasting development.

The Holy See has repeatedly insisted that, while the Governments of poorer countries have a responsibility with regard to good governance and the elimination of poverty, the active involvement of international partners is indispensable. This should not be seen as an "extra" or as a concession which could be postponed in the face of pressing national concerns. It is a grave and unconditional moral responsibility, founded on the unity of the human race, and on the common dignity and shared destiny of rich and poor alike, who are being drawn ever closer by the process of globalization.

Trade conditions favourable to poor countries, including, above all, broad and unconditional access to markets, should be made available and guaranteed in lasting and reliable ways.

Provision must also be made for the rapid, total and unconditional cancellation of the external debt of the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) and of the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). Measures should also be adopted to ensure that these countries do not fall once again into situations of unsustainable debt.

Developed countries must also recognize and implement fully the commitments they have made with regard to external aid.

Moreover, a substantial investment of resources for research and for the development of medicines to treat AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and other tropical diseases is needed. In this regard, the first and foremost scientific challenge facing developed countries is the discovery of a vaccine against malaria. There is also a need to make available medical and pharmaceutical technology and health care expertise without imposing legal or economic conditions.

Finally, the international community must continue to work for the substantial reduction of both the legal and the illegal arms trade, the illegal trade of precious raw materials, and the flight of capital from poor countries, as well as for the elimination of the practices of money-laundering and corruption of officials of poor countries.

While these challenges should be undertaken by all members of the international community, the G8 and the European Union should take the lead.

People from different religions and cultures throughout the world are convinced that achieving the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2015 is one of the most important tasks in today’s world. Moreover, they also hold that such an objective is indissolubly linked to world peace and security. They look to the Presidency, held by the German Government in the months ahead, to ensure that the G8 and the European Union undertake the measures necessary to overcome poverty. They are ready to play their part in such efforts and they support your commitment in a spirit of solidarity.

Invoking God's blessings on the work of the G8 and the European Union under the German Presidency, I avail myself of the occasion to renew to Your Excellency the assurance of my highest consideration.

From the Vatican, 16 December 2006


Chancellor Merkel's Letter to Pope
"Your Words of Encouragement Are Very Important to Me"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the Feb. 2 German-language letter Chancellor Angela Merkel sent to Benedict XVI in response to the letter he sent her on the occasion of the beginning of the German presidency of the European Union and the G8.

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2 February 2007

His Holiness
Pope Benedict XVI
The Vatican City

Your Holiness,

I was delighted to read your letter of 16 December 2006 in which you extended your good wishes and shared your thoughts on our EU and G8 Presidency. I am especially pleased that you, as Head of the Catholic Church, support the priorities of the German EU and G8 Presidencies. Let me take this opportunity to tell you that your words of encouragement are very important to me.

We want to use the German G8 and EU Presidencies to push ahead with combating poverty and realizing the Millennium Development Goals. We are focusing here particularly on the development potential of and challenges facing the African continent. In the G8 Presidency, the emphasis is on the continent's economic development and governance as well as peace and security issues. For me it is crucial that G8 relations with Africa move towards a reform partnership. Alongside increased efforts on the part of African countries, we attach importance to greater commitment of the international communities.

Fighting HIV/AIDS and strengthening healthcare systems are important priorities, above all of the G8 Presidency. Our aim is to change the strategies for combating HIV/AIDS so that they take special account of the situation of women and girls. Yet all these efforts are only half measures if healthcare systems are not improved in the long term.

The challenges of transparency on financial and raw materials markets which you mention will be taken up in the G8 framework. Of prime importance here is promoting and extending the Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) which enjoys our full support.

The debt relief initiatives you mention are an important factor in fighting poverty. The steps agreed at the G8 summits in Cologne (1999) and Gleneagles (2005) have given the countries whose debt has been cancelled financial scope which they can use to combat poverty in their countries. To implement the multilateral debt relief for the poorest highly indebted developing countries agreed in Gleneagles, the Federal Government pledged German participation to the tune of some 3.6 billion euro. The German Government is also supporting the setting up of a Debt Sustainability Framework. This is an important instrument for limiting the risk of the poorest countries to fall into excessive debt again. These formerly indebted countries have been able to increase their spending on combating poverty from 7% in 1999 to 9% of GDP in 2005 -- money which can be invested in schools and healthcare infrastructure.

Turning to trade, we have resolved to conclude the so-called Economic Partnership Agreements between the EU and the ACP countries in such a way as to promote development.

Furthermore, we will use our EU and G8 Presidencies to move forward dialogue with emerging market economies. Countries such as Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa are becoming ever more important when it comes to solving global problems such as energy supply, climate change and raw materials. That is why we have set ourselves the ambitious goal of talking to these countries also about difficult issues. After all, only if all strong players in the world shoulder their responsibility will we be able to build more justice and peace.

I believe the priorities I have laid out can provide momentum for sustainable development and thereby help us shape globalization around the world in a spirit of fairness.

Let me thank you once more for your letter.

Yours sincerely,

Angela Merkel


Message for World Water Day
"A Common Good … an Inalienable Right"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the message sent by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, on behalf of Benedict XVI for World Water Day. The message was sent to Jacques Diouf, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, headquartered in Rome.

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Message by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, on behalf of the Holy Father, on the occasion of the celebration for the World Water Day (March 22, 2007)

Mr Jacques Diouf,

On the occasion of today's celebration of World Water Day, His Holiness Benedict XVI charges me to convey to you, Mr Director General, and to all the participants at this meeting respectful and cordial greetings and encouragement for your action in favour of those in the world who are suffering from a shortage of water.

In the context of the Decade 2005/ 2015, which the General Assembly of the United Nations has declared "The International Decade of Action: Water for life", this year's theme: Coping with water scarcity, gives us an opportunity to think about the importance of water as a source of life whose availability is essential for the vital cycles of the earth and fundamental for a fully human existence.

We are all aware of the difficulty of achieving at a world level the goal fixed by the international community to halve the number of people who are without access to healthy water and basic hygiene services by 2015, through the development, among other things, of integrated management plans and an efficient use of water resources.

However, we are likewise all convinced of the importance of not falling short of these goals, given the centrality of water in any process destined to foster the promotion of an integral human development.

Furthermore, appropriate investments in the sector of water and hygiene services represent a significant mechanism for accelerating economic growth and sustainable development, for improving human health and hygiene, for uprooting poverty and for combating the degradation of the environment.

Water, a common good of the human family, constitutes an essential element for life; the management of this precious resource must enable all to have access to it, especially those who live in conditions of poverty, and must guarantee the liveability of the planet for both the present and future generations.

Access to water is in fact one of the inalienable rights of every human being, because it is a prerequisite for the realization of the majority of the other human rights, such as the rights to life, to food and to health.

For this reason, water "cannot be treated as just another commodity among many, and it must be used rationally and in solidarity with others. ... The right to water ... finds its basis in human dignity and not in any kind of merely quantitative assessment that considers water as a merely economic good. Without water, life is threatened. Therefore, the right to safe drinking water is a universal and inalienable right" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, n. 485).

World Water Day is a precious opportunity to encourage the international community to identify effective ways to permit this basic human right to be promoted, protected and enjoyed.

In this regard, the sustainable management of water becomes a social, economic, environmental and ethical challenge that involves not only institutions but the whole of society.

It should be faced in accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, that is, through the adoption of a participatory approach that involves both the private sector and above all the local communities; the principle of solidarity, a fundamental pillar of international cooperation, which requires a preferential attention to the poor; the principle of responsibility to the present generation and those to come, from which derives the consequent need to re-examine the models of consumption and production, often unsustainable with regard to the use of water resources.

It is in addition a responsibility that must be shared and that becomes a moral and political imperative in a world that has levels of know-how and technologies that are capable of putting an end to situations of water scarcity and to their dramatic consequences that affect in particular the regions with a lower income, in which access to water can often spark real conflicts, whereas it can become a motive for interregional cooperation wherever people appreciate a farsighted approach founded on hydrological interdependence that binds those who use the water resource in neighbouring countries in a joint agreement.

These are aspects, Mr Director General, that not only demand the responsibility of government leaders and politicians, but that challenge every individual. We are all called to renew our life-styles with an educational effort that can reassign to this common good of humanity the value and respect that it ought to have in our society.

Moreover, an educational effort of this kind could draw from many sacred texts of the traditional religions, such as the Bible, where water is symbolically a source and a sign of life and its presence is often associated with joy and fertility, assuming in addition a role of purification, renewal and rebirth.

On this World Water Day, the Holy Father invokes the Lord's Blessings on all those who are committed to reaching the goals concerning water that have been set by the international community. Mr Director General, I am honoured to convey to you this Message from His Holiness and ask you to accept the expression of my highest esteem.

From the Vatican, 22 March 2007

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State of His Holiness


Benedict XVI's Address to Papal Foundation
"You Are Making a Contribution to the Formation of Future Leaders"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 20, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's address at an audience he had today with the members of the Papal Foundation in the Apostolic Palace.

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Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the members of The Papal Foundation on the occasion of your annual pilgrimage to Rome. This year our meeting is once again filled with the joy of the Easter season, in which the Church commemorates Christ's passover from death to life, the dawn of the new creation and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. May the same Spirit fill your hearts with gifts of wisdom, joy and peace, and may your pilgrimage to the tombs of the apostles and martyrs renew your love of the Lord and his Church.

Since its inception, The Papal Foundation has sought to advance the Church’s mission by supporting specific charities close to the heart of the Successor of Peter in his solicitude for all the Churches (cf. 1 Cor 11:28). I willingly take this occasion to express my gratitude not only for the assistance which the Foundation has given to developing countries through grants supporting a variety of educational and charitable projects, but also through the many scholarships provided to Pontifical Universities here in Rome for lay faithful, priests and religious.

In this way, you are making a significant contribution to the formation of future leaders whose minds and hearts are shaped by the teaching of the Gospel, the wisdom of Catholic social teaching and a profound sense of communion with the universal Church in her service to the entire human family.

During this Easter season I encourage all of you to discover ever more fully in the Eucharist, the sacrament of Christ's sacrificial love, the inspiration and strength needed to work ever more generously for the spread of God’s Kingdom and the growth of the civilization of love (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 90). With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, and cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.


VATICAN CITY, APRIL 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 28 address to participants in the ninth International Youth Forum.

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(Rocca di Papa, 28-31 March 2007)

President of the Pontifical Council for the Laity

It gives me great pleasure to send my cordial greeting to you, Venerable Brother, to the Secretary, to those working with the Pontifical Council for the Laity, and to all those who are taking part in the 9th International Youth Forum on the theme "Witnessing to Christ in the world of work" that is taking place this week in Rocca di Papa. It is with particular affection that I direct my thoughts to the young delegates from the bishops' conferences and the international movements, associations and communities that have come from the five continents and who work in very different fields. I extend my respectful greetings to the distinguished speakers who have agreed to contribute to the meeting with their expertise and experience.

The theme is very much a topical issue and takes into account the transformations that have taken place in recent years in the fields of economics, technology and communications, changes that have radically changed the appearance and conditions of the labour market. The progress achieved has, on the one hand, given new hope to young people, but on the other it has created disturbing forms of marginalisation and exploitation with more and more situations of personal hardship. Because of the noticeable difference between the education and training received and the world of work, it is now more difficult for them to find employment that meets with their personal skills and studies, and there is no certainty that they will be able to maintain even unstable employment for any length of time. The process of globalisation taking place in the world entails a need for mobility that obliges numerous young people to emigrate and live far from their home countries and their families. This brings about an unsettling feeling of insecurity that undoubtedly has repercussions on their ability to not only dream and build up a project for the future, but even to commit themselves to matrimony and start a family. These are complex and delicate questions that must be faced in due course, keeping in mind the reality of our times while referring to the social doctrine of the Church. This is duly presented in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and especially in the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

The attention of the Church in recent years has been constantly directed on the social question, and in particular on that of work. We remember the encyclical Laborem exercens published a little over twenty-five years ago, on 14 September 1981, by my well loved predecessor John Paul II. This reaffirmed and updated the great intuitions developed by Pope Leo XIII and Pius XI in the encyclicals Rerum novarum (1891) and Quadragesimo anno (1931), both written during the period of the industrialisation of Europe. In a context of economic liberalism conditioned by market forces, of competition and competitiveness, these pontifical documents forcefully call on the need to evaluate the human dimension of work and to protect the dignity of the person. In fact, the ultimate reference of every human activity can only be the human person, created in the image and likeness of God. A close analysis of the situation, in fact, shows that work is part of God's plan for humankind and that it is participation in his work of creation and redemption. Every human activity should be an occasion and place for the growth of individuals and society, the development of personal "talents" that should be appreciated and placed at the ordered service of the common good, in a spirit of justice and solidarity. For believers, moreover, the ultimate aim of work is the building up of the Kingdom of God.

While I invite you to treasure the conversations and reflections that take place over the next few days, I hope that this important assembly of young people may be a profitable occasion of spiritual and ecclesial growth for the participants, through the sharing of experiences and personal accounts, and common prayer and liturgies celebrated together. Today, more than ever, it is necessary and urgent to proclaim "the Gospel of Work", to live as Christians in the world of work and become apostles among workers. In order to fulfil this mission it is necessary to remain united to Christ through prayer and a deep sacramental life, and for this purpose, to hold Sunday in special high regard, for it is the day dedicated to the Lord. While I encourage young people not to lose heart when faced with these difficulties, I invite them to participate next Sunday in Saint Peter's Square in the solemn celebration of Palm Sunday and the 22nd World Youth Day, the final stage of preparation for the World Youth Day that will take place in Sydney Australia next year.

The theme for reflection this year is: "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another" (Jn 13:34). Here I repeat what I wrote to young Christians all over the world, that there may be awakened in young Christians, "trust in a love that is true, faithful and strong; a love that generates peace and joy; a love that binds people together and allows them to feel free in respect for one another", and allows them to develop their abilities to the full. It is not simply a question of becoming more "competitive" and "productive", but it is necessary to be "witnesses of charity". It is only in this way that young people -- with the support of their respective parishes, movements and communities, in which it is possible to experience the greatness and vitality of the Church -- will be able to experience work as a vocation and true mission. To this end, Venerable Brother, I assure you of my prayers, with the heavenly protection of Mary and Saint Joseph, patron of workers, I send you and all those participating in the International Forum and all young Christian workers, a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, 28 March 2007

Benedictus PP XVI


Papal Homily at Juvenile Detention Center

"We Must Understand What Freedom Is"

ROME, APRIL 2, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 18 homily addressed to youth at a juvenile detention center in Rome.

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Chapel of the Merciful Father
Fourth Sunday of Lent, 18 March 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Dear Boys and Girls,

I have willingly come to pay you a Visit, and the most important moment of our meeting is Holy Mass, where the gift of God's love is renewed: a love that comforts us and gives us peace, especially in life's difficult moments.

In this prayerful atmosphere I would like to address my greeting to each one of you: to the Hon. Mr Clemente Mastella, Minister of Justice, to whom I express a special "thank you"; to Mrs Melìta Cavallo, Department Head of Justice for Minors, to the other Authorities who have spoken, to those in charge, to the operators, teachers and personnel of this juvenile penitentiary, to the volunteers, to your relatives and to everyone present.

I greet the Cardinal Vicar and Auxiliary Bishop Benedetto Tùzia.

I greet in particular, Mons. Giorgio Caniato, General Inspector of the Prisons Chaplaincy, and your Chaplain, whom I thank for expressing your sentiments at the beginning of Holy Mass.

In the Eucharistic celebration it is Christ himself who becomes present among us; indeed, even more: he comes to enlighten us with his teaching -- in the Liturgy of the Word -- and to nourish us with his Body and his Blood -- in the Eucharistic Liturgy and in Communion.

Thus, he comes to teach us to love, to make us capable of loving and thereby capable of living. But perhaps you will say, how difficult it is to love seriously and to live well! What is the secret of love, the secret of life? Let us return to the Gospel [of the Prodigal Son].

In this Gospel three persons appear: the father and two sons. But these people represent two rather different life projects. Both sons lived peacefully, they were fairly well-off farmers so they had enough to live on, selling their produce profitably, and life seemed good.

Yet little by little the younger son came to find this life boring and unsatisfying: "All of life can't be like this", he thought: rising every day, say at six o'clock, then according to Israel's traditions, there must have been a prayer, a reading from the Holy Bible, then they went to work and at the end of the day another prayer.

Thus, day after day he thought: "But no, life is something more. I must find another life where I am truly free, where I can do what I like; a life free from this discipline, from these norms of God's commandments, from my father's orders; I would like to be on my own and have life with all its beauties totally for myself. Now, instead, it is nothing but work...".

And so he decided to claim the whole of his share of his inheritance and leave. His father was very respectful and generous and respected the son's freedom: it was he who had to find his own life project. And he departed, as the Gospel says, to a far-away country. It was probably geographically distant because he wanted a change, but also inwardly distant because he wanted a completely different life.

So his idea was: freedom, doing what I want to do, not recognizing these laws of a God who is remote, not being in the prison of this domestic discipline, but rather doing what is beautiful, what I like, possessing life with all its beauty and fullness.

And at first -- we might imagine, perhaps for a few months -- everything went smoothly: he found it beautiful to have attained life at last, he felt happy.

Then, however, little by little, he felt bored here, too; here too everything was always the same. And in the end, he was left with an emptiness that was even more disturbing: the feeling that this was still not life became ever more acute; indeed, going ahead with all these things, life drifted further and further away. Everything became empty: the slavery of doing the same things then also re-emerged. And in the end, his money ran out and the young man found that his standard of living was lower than that of swine.

It was then that he began to reflect and wondered if that really was the path to life: a freedom interpreted as doing what I want, living, having life only for me; or if instead it might be more of a life to live for others, to contribute to building the world, to the growth of the human community. ...

So it was that he set out on a new journey, an inner journey. The boy pondered and considered all these new aspects of the problem and began to see that he had been far freer at home, since he had also been a landowner contributing to building his home and society in communion with the Creator, knowing the purpose of his life and guessing the project that God had in store for him.

During this interior journey, during this development of a new life project and at the same time living the exterior journey, the younger son was motivated to return, to start his life anew because he now understood that he had taken the wrong track. I must start out afresh with a different concept, he said to himself; I must begin again.

And he arrived at the home of the father who had left him his freedom to give him the chance to understand inwardly what life is and what life is not. The father embraced him with all his love, he offered him a feast and life could start again beginning from this celebration.

The son realized that it is precisely work, humility and daily discipline that create the true feast and true freedom. So he returned home, inwardly matured and purified: he had understood what living is.

Of course, in the future his life would not be easy either, temptations would return, but he was henceforth fully aware that life without God does not work; it lacks the essential, it lacks light, it lacks reason, it lacks the great sense of being human. He understood that we can only know God on the basis of his Word.

We Christians can add that we know who God is from Jesus, in whom the face of God has been truly shown to us. The young man understood that God's Commandments are not obstacles to freedom and to a beautiful life, but signposts on the road on which to travel to find life.

He realized too that work and the discipline of being committed, not to oneself but to others, extends life. And precisely this effort of dedicating oneself through work gives depth to life, because one experiences the pleasure of having at last made a contribution to the growth of this world that becomes freer and more beautiful.

I do not wish at this point to speak of the other son who stayed at home, but in his reaction of envy we see that inwardly he too was dreaming that perhaps it would be far better to take all the freedoms for himself. He too in his heart was "returning home" and understanding once again what life is, understanding that it is truly possible to live only with God, with his Word, in the communion of one's own family, of work; in the communion of the great Family of God.

I do not wish to enter into these details now: let each one of us apply this Gospel to himself in his own way. Our situations are different and each one has his own world. Nonetheless, the fact remains that we are all moved and that we can all enter with our inner journey into the depths of the Gospel.

Only a few more remarks: the Gospel helps us understand who God truly is. He is the Merciful Father who in Jesus loves us beyond all measure.

The errors we commit, even if they are serious, do not corrode the fidelity of his love. In the Sacrament of Confession we can always start out afresh in life. He welcomes us, he restores to us our dignity as his children.

Let us therefore rediscover this sacrament of forgiveness that makes joy well up in a heart reborn to true life.

Furthermore, this parable helps us to understand who the human being is: he is not a "monad", an isolated being who lives only for himself and must have life for himself alone.

On the contrary, we live with others, we were created together with others and only in being with others, in giving ourselves to others, do we find life.

The human being is a creature in whom God has impressed his own image, a creature who is attracted to the horizon of his Grace, but he is also a frail creature exposed to evil but also capable of good. And lastly, the human being is a free person.

We must understand what freedom is and what is only the appearance of freedom.

Freedom, we can say, is a springboard from which to dive into the infinite sea of divine goodness, but it can also become a tilted plane on which to slide towards the abyss of sin and evil and thus also to lose freedom and our dignity.

Dear friends, we are in the Season of Lent, the 40 days before Easter. In this Season of Lent, the Church helps us to make this interior journey and invites us to conversion, which always, even before being an important effort to change our behaviour, is an opportunity to decide to get up and set out again, to abandon sin and to choose to return to God.

Let us -- this is the imperative of Lent -- make this journey of inner liberation together.

Every time, such as today, that we participate in the Eucharist, the source and school of love, we become capable of living this love, of proclaiming it and witnessing to it with our life.

Nevertheless, we need to decide to walk towards Jesus as the Prodigal Son did, returning inwardly and outwardly to his father.

At the same time, we must abandon the selfish attitude of the older son who was sure of himself, quick to condemn others and closed in his heart to understanding, acceptance and forgiveness of his brother, and who forgot that he too was in need of forgiveness.

May the Virgin Mary and St Joseph, my Patron Saint whose Feast it will be tomorrow, obtain this gift for us; I now invoke him in a special way for each one of you and for your loved ones.


Papal Talk to Lourdes Group and a Movement for the Blind
"Experiences of Fraternal Sharing Based on the Gospel"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 29, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave March 17 to visitors from the Federation for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes and the Apostolic Movement for the Blind.

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St Peter's Basilica?Saturday, 17 March 2007

Dear Friends of OFTAL and of the Apostolic Movement for the Blind,

I meet you with great joy in the Vatican Basilica, where you have taken part in the Eucharistic celebration at which Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, to whom I offer a cordial greeting, has presided.

I greet Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Vicar General for Vatican City and Archpriest of the Vatican Basilica, and your Chaplains. I greet each one of you, and in particular Mons. Franco Degrandi, President of OFTAL, and Dr Francesco Scelzo, Vice-President of MAC, whom I thank for presenting to me your respective Associations, which came into being more or less at the same time.

In fact, the Apostolic Movement for the Blind was founded in 1928 through the insight and apostolic dynamism of Maria Motta, a sightless teacher from Monza endowed with profound faith and great strength of mind.

The Federation for Transport of the Sick to Lourdes (OFTAL), on the other hand, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. In fact, founded in 1913 by Mons. Alessandro Rastelli, a priest of the Diocese of Vercelli, it officially came into being in 1932, promoted by the Archbishop of that particular Church.

Your joint presence here today is providential, because both Associations, although they have many different aspects, have a fundamental one in common which I would like to highlight straightaway.

I refer to the fact that both MAC and OFTAL represent experiences of fraternal sharing based on the Gospel and capable of enabling people in difficulty, in this case the sick and the visually impaired, to participate fully in the life of the Ecclesial Community and to be builders of the civilization of love.

They are two institutions which, as the theme of the recent Ecclesial Convention in Verona said, bear witness to the Risen Christ, the hope of the world, demonstrating that faith and Christian friendship make it possible to overcome every condition of frailty together.

In this regard, the experience of the two Founders, Fr Rastelli and Maria Motta, is emblematic. The former went to Lourdes after an accident which confined him to a hospital for a month. The experience of sickness rendered him particularly sensitive to the message of the Immaculate Virgin, who called him to return to the Grotto of Massabielle, first in the company of a single sick person -- and this is very important! --, and then at the head of the first diocesan pilgrimage with more than 300 people, of whom 30 were sick.

For Maria Motta, sightless from birth, the visual limitation was not a hindrance to her vocation; indeed, the Spirit made her an apostle of those who cannot see and later caused her project to become more successful than she herself expected.

From that spiritual "network" which she had created, a proper association formed by diocesan groups present in every part of Italy developed and was approved by Blessed John XXIII with the name of "Apostolic Movement for the Blind". In this movement, learning the style of reciprocity and sharing, both the non-seeing and the seeing were committed to formation, to devote themselves to serving the Church's Apostolic Mission.

Each of the two associations contributed to building the Church with its own specific charism.

You, friends of OFTAL, offer the experience of the pilgrimage with the sick, a strong sign of faith and solidarity among people who come out of themselves and from the closed environment of their own problems to set out for a common goal, a spiritual place: Lourdes, the Holy Land, Loreto, Fatima and other shrines.

Thus, you help the People of God to keep alive the awareness of their nature as pilgrims in Christ's footsteps, which stands out clearly in Sacred Scripture.

Let us think of the Book of Exodus upon which the liturgy makes us meditate this Lenten Season: let us think of Jesus' public life which the Gospels present as a great pilgrimage to Jerusalem, where his "exodus" is to take place.

You, friends of MAC, are messengers in your turn of a typical experience which is your very own; that of walking together, the non-seeing side by side with the seeing. It is proof of how Christian love makes it possible to overcome handicaps and to live diversity positively, as an opportunity for openness to others, as attention to their problems but first of all to their gifts, and to mutual service.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Church is also in need of your contribution to respond faithfully and without reserve to the Lord's will. And of civil society one can likewise say: humanity needs your gifts, which are a prophecy of the Kingdom of God.

May limitations and scant resources not alarm you: God likes to carry out his works using poor means. He therefore asks you to make a generous faith available to him!

Basically, this is why you have come here: to implore at Peter's tomb the gift of a sounder faith.

Tomorrow you will be ending your pilgrimage at two of Rome's Marian sites: MAC at the Basilica of St Mary Major, and OFTAL at the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love. Set out, therefore, from this moment of grace, enlightened by the faith of Peter and Mary!

And with this faith, continue on your way, also accompanied by my prayers and my Blessing, which I impart with affection to those of you who are present here and to all your members and your loved ones.


Papal Address on 50th Anniversary of Treaty of Rome
"You Have the Duty to Contribute to Building a New Europe"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered last Saturday to the participants in a conference organized by European bishops' conferences to mark the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome.

The conference was entitled "50th Anniversary of the Treaty of Rome -- Values and prospects for tomorrow's Europe."

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Clementine Hall of the Vatican Apostolic Palace,
March 24, 2007

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
Honorable Parliamentarians,
Kind Ladies and Sirs!

I am particularly happy to receive such a large number of persons in this audience, which is taking place on the eve of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Rome, dated March 25, 1957.

An important step was taken then for Europe, exhausted by the Second World War and desiring to build a future of peace and greater economic and social well-being, without dissolving or denying the different national identities.

I welcome Monsignor Andrianus Herman van Luyn, bishop of Rotterdam, president of the Commission of the Bishops' Conferences of the European Community, and I thank him for his kind words to me.

I greet the other prelates, the distinguished authorities and all those taking part in the convention promoted these days by the COMECE to reflect on Europe. Since March of about fifty years ago, this continent has been on a long road, which has led to the reconciliation of two "lungs" -- the East and the West -- tied together by a common history, but arbitrarily separated by a wall of injustice.

Economic integration stimulated political integration and encouraged the search, still ongoing, for an institutional structure adequate for a European Union that, by now, numbers 27 nations and aspires to becoming a global actor in the world.

During these years, the need to establish a healthy equilibrium between the economic and social dimensions has been felt more and more, through politics capable of producing wealth and increasing competition, without however omitting the legitimate expectations of the poor and the marginalized. But looking at the demographic side of things, we must unfortunately note that Europe seems to be walking along a path that could lead to its departure from history.

Apart from endangering economic growth, this could create enormous difficulties for social cohesion and, above all, favor dangerous individualism, oblivious to the consequences for the future. One could almost think that the European continent is in fact losing faith in its own future. Furthermore, as regards respect for the environment, for example, or the ordered access to energy resources and investments, incentives for solidarity are slow in coming, not only in the international sphere but also in the strictly national one.

The process itself of European unification is evidently not shared by all, due to the impression that various "chapters" in the European project have been "written" without considering the expectations of the citizens. From all this it is clear that a true European "common house" cannot be built without considering the identities of the people on our continent.

This identity is in fact a historical, cultural, and moral identity before it is a geographic, economic, or political one; an identity constituted by an ensemble of universal values that Christianity contributed to forging and which thus gave to Christianity not only an historical but a foundational role for Europe.

These values, which make up the soul of the continent, must remain in the Europe of the third millennium as "ferment" for civilization. If in fact these values should disappear, how could the "old" continent continue to function as "leaven" for the entire world? If, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, the governments of the Union wish to "be nearer" to their citizens, how can they exclude an element essential to European identity such as Christianity, when a vast majority continues to identify with it?

Is it not surprising that today's Europe, while hoping to be seen as a community of values, more and more seems to contest that universal and absolute values exist? Does not this unique form of "apostasy" from itself, before even from God, lead to doubts about its identity?

In this way, one ends up spreading the conviction that the "weighing of goods" is the only way to moral discernment and that common good is synonymous with compromise. In reality, if compromise constitutes a legitimate equilibrium between different particular interests, it becomes a common evil every time it is made up of agreements damaging the nature of man.

A community built without respecting the true dignity of the human being, forgetting that each person is created in the image of God, ends up not doing good for anybody. This is why it is necessary for Europe to be on guard against this pragmatic attitude, widespread today, which systematically justifies compromise on essential human values, as if it was the inevitable acceptance of a minor evil.

This pragmatism, presented as balanced and realistic, at bottom is not, because it denies the dimension of values and ideals inherent to human nature. When atheistic and relativistic tendencies are woven into this pragmatism, in the end Christians as such are denied the very right to enter into the public discussion or, at the very least, their contribution is disqualified.

During this actual historical moment and faced with many challenges that mark it, the European Union, to be a valid guarantor of the state of rights and an efficient promoter of universal values, cannot but recognize with clarity the certain existence of a stable and permanent human nature, source of common rights for all individuals, including those who deny them. In this context, the right to conscientious objection should be protected, every time fundamental human rights are violated.

Dear friends, I know how difficult it is for Christians to strenuously defend this truth about the person. However do not tire of this and do not be discouraged! You know that you have the duty to contribute to building with God's help a new Europe, realistic but not cynical, rich in ideals and free of naïve illusions, inspired by the perennial and life-giving truth of the Gospel.

Therefore, you must be present in an active way in the public debate on a European level, knowing that this debate is now an integral part of the national debate, and along with this commitment there must be effective cultural action. Do not bend to the logic of power as an end in itself!

May Christ's admonition be a constant stimulus and support for you: "If the salt loses its flavor (…) It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men."

May the Lord make your every effort productive and help you to recognize and esteem the positive elements present in today's civilization, but denouncing with courage all that is contrary to human dignity.

I am sure that God will bless the generous effort by all who, in a spirit of service, work to build a common European house where every cultural, social and political contribution is directed toward the common good.

To you, already involved in different ways in this important human and evangelical project, I express my support and my most fervent encouragement. Above all, I assure you that I will remember you in prayer and, while I call upon the maternal protection of Mary, Mother of the Word made Flesh, I affectionately bless you and your families and communities from the heart.


Benedict XVI's Address to Communion and Liberation
"Movements Are Really Gifts of the Holy Spirit"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to the lay movement Communion and Liberation on Saturday in St. Peter's Square. The ecclesial entity was celebrating the 25th anniversary of its pontifical recognition.

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Dear brothers and sisters,

It is a really a great pleasure for me to welcome you here today, in this St Peter's Square on the occasion of the 25 anniversary of the pontifical recognition of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation. Perhaps we expected the sun, but even water is a sign of grace and the gift of the Holy Spirit. I address my cordial greetings to each one of you, particularly to the prelates, the priests and the directors here present.

In particular I greet Father Julián Carrón, president of your fraternity, and I thank him for the fine and profound words addressed to me in the name of you all.

My first thought goes -- it's obvious -- to your founder Monsignor Luigi Giussani, to whom many memories tie me, since he had become a true friend to me. Our last meeting, as Father Carrón mentioned, took place in Milan Cathedral two years ago, when our beloved Pope John Paul II sent me to preside at his solemn funeral.

Through him the Holy Spirit aroused in the Church a movement -- yours -- that would witness the beauty of being Christians in an epoch in which the opinion was spreading that Christianity was something tiresome and oppressive to live. Father Giussani, then, set himself to reawaken in the youth the love for Christ, the way, the truth and the life, repeating that only he is the road toward the realization of the deepest desires of man's heart; and that Christ saves us not despite our humanity, but through it.

As I recalled in the homily at his funeral, this courageous priest, who grew up in a home poor in bread but rich in music, as he himself liked to say, right from the start was touched, or rather wounded by the desire for beauty, and not any kind of beauty, but he was searching for beauty itself, the infinite beauty that he found in Christ. How can we not recall Father Giussani's many encounters with my venerated predecessor John Paul II?

On an anniversary dear to you, the Pope pointed out that the original educative innovation lies in reproposing in a fascinating way, in tune with contemporary culture, the Christian event, perceived as the source of new values and capable of giving direction to the whole of existence. The event that changed the life of the founder wounded, so to speak, the lives of very many of his spiritual children, and gave rise to the many religious and ecclesial experiences that form the history of your vast and articulated spiritual family.

Communion and Liberation is a communitarian experience of faith, born in the Church not from a will to organize of the hierarchy, but originated from a renewed encounter with Christ and thus, we can say, from an impulse that derives ultimately from the Holy Spirit. Still today, this offers itself as an opportunity to live the Christian faith in a deep and up-to-date way, on one hand with a total fidelity and communion with the Successor of Peter and with the pastors who ensure the government of the Church, and on the other hand with a spontaneity and a freedom that permit new and prophetic apostolic and missionary realizations.

Dear friends, your movement thus inserts itself in that vast flourishing of associations and movements and new ecclesial realities providentially aroused in the Church by the Holy Spirit after the Second Vatican Council. Every gift of the Spirit finds itself in its origin and necessarily at the service of the building up of the Body of Christ, offering a witness of the immense charity of God for the life of all men. The reality of the ecclesial movements is therefore a sign of the fecundity of the Spirit of the Lord, so that the victory of the risen Christ be manifested in the world, and the missionary task entrusted to the whole Church be realized.

In the message to the World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, May 27, 1998, John Paul II repeated, that in the Church there is no contrast or contraposition between the institutional dimension and the charismatic dimension, of which the movements are a meaningful expression, because both are co-essential to the divine constitution of the People of God, and in the Church even the essential institutions are charismatic, and, in any case, the charisms, in one way or another, have to institutionalise themselves in order to have cohesion and continuity.

Both originated by the same Holy Spirit for the same Body of Christ concur together so as to make present the Mystery and the salvific work of Christ in the world. This explains the attention with which the Pope and the pastors look at the wealth of the charismatic gifts in the present day.

In this regard, during a recent meeting with the clergy and parish priests of Rome, recalling St. Paul's invitation in the first letter to the Thessalonians not to quench the charisms, I said that if the Lord gives us new gifts we ought to be grateful, even though they can be uncomfortable together. At the same time, since the Church is one, if the movements are really gifts of the Holy Spirit, they must insert themselves more into the community of the Church, thus in patient dialogue with the pastors they can constitute constructive elements for the today's Church and tomorrow's.

Dear brothers and sisters, on another occasion very meaningful for you, John Paul II entrusted you with this mandate, and I quote, "Go out into the whole world to bring the truth, the beauty and the peace that are met in the encounter with Christ the redeemer."

Father Giussani made those words the program of the whole movement, and for Communion and Liberation it was the start of a missionary period that took you to 80 countries. Today I invite you to go ahead on this road with a deep, personalized faith, solidly rooted in the living Body of Christ, the Church which guarantees Jesus' contemporaneity with us.

Let us conclude this meeting directing our thought to Our Lady, in the recitation of the Angelus. As we know Father Giussani had great devotion for her, nourished by the invocation "Veni Sancte Spiritus, Veni per Mariam," and by the recitation of Dante Alighieri's Hymn to the Virgin, that you repeated earlier this morning.

May the Holy Virgin accompany you and help you to pronounce generously your yes to the will of God in every circumstance. You can count, dear friends, on my constant recollection in prayer, while with affection I bless all of you here present and the whole of your spiritual family.


Papal Address to Circolo San Pietro
"Yours Is a Silent Witness of Love for Human Life"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 8 address to the members of the "Circolo San Pietro."

Hall of Popes
Thursday, 8 March 2007

Dear Friends,

Thank you for coming to this meeting, with which you wish to renew the sentiments of affection and devotion that bind your Sodality to the Successor of the Apostle Peter.

I offer you all my cordial greeting. I greet the members of the General Presidency of your praiseworthy Circle, and especially Don Leopoldo dei Duchi Torlonia, the President, to whom I also express my gratitude for his kind words on your behalf, describing your liturgical and charitable activities.

I extend my thoughts to your Chaplain, your families and all who work in various capacities in the activities you organize.

This annual meeting, which now has a long tradition, takes place in connection with the Feast of the Chair of St Peter in order to highlight your Circle's special fidelity to the Holy See -- which you wish to emphasize -- and to present to the Pope the Collection of the traditional Peter's Pence which you organize in the parishes and institutions of the Diocese of Rome.

The ancient collection of Peter's Pence, which in a certain way already existed in the early Christian Communities, stems from an awareness that every member of the faithful is also called to provide material support for the work of evangelization, and at the same time to go generously to the aid of the poor and needy, mindful of Jesus' words: "As you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me" (Mt 25:40).

Thanks to the pooling of material resources, we read in the Acts of the Apostles, "There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the Apostles' feet" (Acts 4:34ff.); and further, "The disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brethren who lived in Judea" (Acts 11:29).

This ecclesial practice developed down the centuries, adapted to the different requirements of the times, and still continues today. In every diocese and in every parish and religious community, Peter's Pence are collected every year and sent to the centre of the Church to be redistributed as required by the needs and requests that the Pope receives from every corner of the earth.

There have been times in the Church's history when the financial support donated to the Successor of Peter by Christians turned out to be quite considerable, as can be clearly understood from what, for example, Blessed Pius IX wrote in his Encyclical Saepe Venerabilis, promulgated on 5 August 1871: "We received in greater abundance than usual the Peter's Pence with which the poor and the rich spare no efforts to come to the aid of the poverty made known to us; and in addition, there are the many, various and most noble gifts and a splendid tribute of Christian art and genius, particularly suited to highlighting the twofold, spiritual and regal power which God has conferred upon us" (Ench. Enc., 2, n. 452, p. 609; in the Tablet 38 [26 Aug. 1871], 274).

In our time too, the Church continues to spread the Gospel and to cooperate in building a more fraternal and supportive humanity. And it is precisely thanks to Peter's Pence that she can accomplish her mission of evangelization and human advancement.

I am therefore grateful to you for your commitment in collecting the donations of the people of Rome, which are, as your President emphasized, a sign of their gratitude for the pastoral and charitable activity of the Successor of Peter.

I know that you are motivated by zeal and generosity: may the Lord reward you and make your ecclesial service fruitful, and may he also help you to implement every initiative of your Circle.

Among its projects, I would like in particular to recall the precious service you have been offering for more than six years to the Sacred Heart Hospice, where the daily presence of your volunteers is a comfort to the sick and their relatives: yours is a silent but especially eloquent witness of love for human life, which deserves attention and respect to its very last breath.

Dear friends, we are in the Lenten Season, during which the liturgy reminds us that together with the commitment to prayer and fasting we should combine attention to our brothers and sisters, especially those in difficulty, by going to their aid with gestures and acts of material and spiritual support.

Today, I repeat to you the invitation I addressed to every Christian in my Message for Lent, that is, my hope that this liturgical season may be for everyone "a renewed experience of God's love given to us in Christ, a love that each day we, in turn, must "re-give' to our neighbour, especially to the one who suffers most and is in need" (Message for Lent 2007, 21 November 2006; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 21 February 2007, p. 7).

As I express once again my gratitude for your visit today, I encourage you to continue your charitable work enthusiastically, and your formal duty of welcoming the faithful in the Vatican Basilica and at the celebrations at which the Pope presides.

I entrust you to the motherly protection of Mary, whom you invoke as Salus Populi Romani. With these sentiments, as I assure you of my remembrance in prayer for you and for your initiatives, I impart a special Apostolic Blessing to you all.


Papal Address to Fabbrica di San Pietro
"You Who Work Here Are 'Living Stones'"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 22, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 14 address to the Fabbrica di San Pietro, the office in charge of construction matters related to St. Peter's Basilica.

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Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,
dear Friends,

I am very pleased to have this meeting with you at the headquarters of an ancient and distinguished Papal Institution: the Fabric of St Peter's. I first greet Archbishop Angelo Comastri, Archpriest of St Peter's Basilica and your President, who has expressed your common sentiments. I then greet Bishop Vittorio Lanzani, Delegate of the Fabric, and each one of you.

You work in the Apostle's venerable Basilica which is the heart of the Catholic Church, a vibrant heart, thanks to the Holy Spirit who always keeps it alive but also thanks to the activity of those who daily ensure it fulfils its role.

As Archbishop Comastri recalled, just over 500 years have passed since the foundation stone of the second Vatican Basilica was laid: yet, it is still alive and young, it is not a museum, it is a spiritual organism and even the stones feel its vitality!

You who work here, first among others, are the "living stones", as the Apostle Peter wrote, living stones of the spiritual edifice which is the Church.

I am happy to have this meeting with you, even if it is brief, to close the celebrations of the fifth centenary of the Vatican Basilica, where you carry out your duties.

I would like to take this opportunity to recall at this moment all your colleagues who preceded you in the past 500 years. I express my gratitude to you for all that you do with commitment and competence to enable this "heart" of the Church, as I said above, to continue to beat with perennial vitality, attracting men and women of the whole world and helping them to have a spiritual experience that marks their life.

In fact, thanks to your contribution, almost always unseen but always appropriate, a great many people, pilgrims from all parts of the world, are able to make the most of their pilgrimage or simply their visit to the Vatican Basilica, and take back with them in their hearts a message of faith and hope: a certainty of having seen not only great works of art but of being in contact with the Church alive, with the Apostle Peter and in the end, with Christ.

Once again, I thank and encourage you: always do your work as an act of love for the Church, for St Peter and hence, for Christ.

I entrust you all, you and your loved ones, to the special protection of St Peter and, as I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and ask you to reciprocate by praying for me, I cordially bless you all.


Papal Address to University Students (Marian vigil)
"Intellectual Charity as a Force of the Human Spirit" (March 15, 2007)

Paul VI Audience Hall
Saturday, 10 March 2007

Dear Young University Students,

I am very pleased to address my cordial greeting to you at the end of the Marian Vigil which the Vicariate of Rome has organized on the occasion of the European University Students' Day.

I thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini and Mons. Lorenzo Leuzzi, as well as those who have cooperated in the initiative: the Academic Institutions, the Conservatories, the Ministry for Universities and Research and the Ministry for Communications.

I congratulate the conductors of the orchestra and of the large choir, as well as you, dear musicians and choir members. As I welcome you, Roman friends, my thoughts turn with equal affection to your peers who, thanks to radio and television link-ups, have been able to take part in this moment of prayer and reflection in several Cities of Europe and Asia: Prague, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Bologna, Krakow, Turin, Manchester, Manila, Coimbra, Tirana and Islamabad-Rawalpindi. This "network", set up with the collaboration of the Vatican Television Centre, Vatican Radio and Telespazio, is truly a sign of the times, a sign of hope.

It is a "network" which demonstrates its full value if we reflect on the theme of today's vigil: "Intellectual charity for a new Europe-Asia cooperation".

It is evocative to think of intellectual charity as a force of the human spirit capable of bringing together the formation processes of the new generations.

More globally, intellectual charity can unite the existential journey of young people who, while living very far away from one another, succeed in feeling bound to one another on the level of interior inquiry and witness.

This evening, we will build a spiritual bridge between Europe and Asia, a Continent of very rich spiritual traditions where several of humanity's oldest and most noble cultural traditions developed. Consequently, how important this meeting is!

The young university students of Rome have made themselves champions of brotherhood under the banner of intellectual love; they seek a solidarity that is not motivated by financial or political interests but by study and the search for truth.

In brief, we are in a true "university" perspective, that is, a perspective of the community of knowledge that is one of the constitutive elements of Europe. Thank you, dear young people.

I now address those who are connected with us in the different cities and nations.

In Czech:

Dear young people who have gathered together in Prague, may friendship with Christ always enlighten your studies and your personal growth!

In English:

Dear university students from Calcutta, Hong Kong, Islamabad-Rawalpindi, Manchester and Manila, may you bear witness to the fact that Jesus Christ takes nothing away from us but brings to fulfilment our deepest longings for life and truth!

In Polish:

Dear friends in Krakow, always treasure the teachings that venerable Pope John Paul II bequeathed to young people, and in a special way, to university students!

In Portuguese:

Dear university students of Coimbra, may the Virgin Mary, Seat of Wisdom, be your guide so that you will become true disciples and witnesses of Christian wisdom!

In Albanian:

Dear young people of Tirana, strive to build the new Albania as protagonists, drawing on the Christian roots of Europe!

In Italian:

Dear university students of Bologna and Turin, ensure that the construction of the new humanism, based on creative dialogue between faith and reason, does not lack your original and creative contribution!

Dear friends, we are living the Lenten Season and the liturgy continually urges us to strengthen the way in which we follow Christ. This Vigil too, in accordance with the tradition of the World Youth Days, can be considered a stage in the spiritual pilgrimage guided by the Cross.

And the mystery of the Cross is not unconnected with the theme of intellectual charity, indeed, it illumines it.

Christian wisdom is the wisdom of the Cross: may Christian students and especially Christian teachers interpret every reality in the light of the mystery of God's love, whose loftiest and fullest revelation is the Cross.

Once again, dear young people, I entrust to you the Cross of Christ: welcome it, embrace it, follow it. It is the tree of life!

At its foot you will always find Mary, Mother of Jesus. With her, Seat of Wisdom, turn your gaze to the One who was pierced for our sake (cf. Jn 19:37), contemplate the inexhaustible source of love and truth, and you too will be able to become joyful disciples and witnesses.

This is the wish that I express to each one of you. I accompany it wholeheartedly with prayer and with my Blessing, which I willingly extend to all your loved ones.


Benedict XVI's Address on Paul VI
"A Firm and Wise Helmsman of the Barque of Peter"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 15, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the March 3 address Benedict XVI gave to members of the Paul VI Institute.

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Saturday, 3 March 2007

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I am pleased to welcome each one of you who belong to the Scientific Committee and to the Executive Committee of the Paul VI Institute, sponsored by Brescia's "Society for Christian Education" for the purpose of encouraging the study of the life, thought and work of this unforgettable Pontiff.

I greet you all cordially, starting with the Cardinals present. In particular, I greet Dr Giuseppe Camadini and thank him for the words he has addressed to me in his capacity as President of your Institute.

I then offer a special greeting to Bishop Giulio Sanguineti, Pastor of the Diocese in which my venerable Predecessor was born, baptized and ordained a priest. I am also grateful to him for all he does authoritatively to support and accompany the activity of such a praiseworthy Institute.

Thank you, dear friends, for offering me as a gift copies of all your publications to date. This is an immense series of volumes that testify to the considerable amount of work you have done in more than 25 years.

As was said, I too have had an opportunity to become acquainted with your Institute's activities. I have admired its faithfulness to the Magisterium as well as its intention to honour a great Pontiff, whose apostolic yearning you have made it your business to highlight by rigorous research work and high-grade scientific and ecclesial initiatives.

I feel closely and personally bound to the Servant of God Paul VI because of the trust he showed me in appointing me Archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1977 and, three months later, enrolling me in the College of Cardinals.

He was called by divine Providence to take the helm of the barque of Peter to steer her through a historical period marked by numerous challenges and problems.

In thinking back over the years of his Pontificate, it is striking to note the missionary zeal that motivated him and impelled him to undertake demanding Apostolic Journeys even to distant nations in order to make prophetic gestures of great ecclesial, missionary and ecumenical importance.

He was the first Pope to go to the Land where Christ lived and from which Peter set out on his journey to Rome. That Visit, only six months after his election as Supreme Pastor of the People of God and while the Second Vatican Council was underway, had a clear symbolic meaning. He showed the Church that the path of her mission is to follow in the footsteps of Christ.

This was precisely what Pope Paul VI sought to do during his Petrine ministry, which he always exercised with wisdom and prudence in complete fidelity to the Lord's command.

In fact, the secret of the pastoral action that Paul VI carried out with tireless dedication, at times adopting difficult and unpopular decisions, lies precisely in his love for Christ, a love vibrant with moving words to be found in all his teachings. His soul as a Pastor was totally consumed with missionary zeal, nourished by a sincere desire for dialogue with humanity. His prophetic invitation, several times repeated, to renew the world troubled by anxieties and violence through the "civilization of love", sprang from a total entrustment of himself to Jesus, Redeemer of man.

How can I forget, for example, the words I too heard in the Vatican Basilica, when I was taking part as an expert in the Second Vatican Council at the opening of the Second Session on 29 September 1963?

"Christ, our principle", Paul VI said with deep feeling, and I can still hear his voice, "Christ, our Way and our Guide! Christ, our hope and our destination.... No other light shines out at this meeting except for Christ's, Light of the world; no other truth than the words of the Lord, our one Teacher, concerns our hearts; no other aspiration guides us than the desire to be absolutely faithful to him" (Teachings of Paul VI, I [1963], 170-171). And until he drew his last breath, his thought, his energy and his action were for Christ and for the Church.

The name of this Pontiff, whose greatness public opinion understood on the occasion of his death, continues to be specially linked to the Second Vatican Council. If it was John XXIII who organized and inaugurated the Council, it was left to Paul VI, his Successor, to bring it to completion with an expert, delicate and firm hand. The government of the Church in the post-conciliar period was equally exacting for Pope Montini.

Even when he had to tolerate suffering and sometimes violent attacks, he did not let himself be conditioned by misunderstanding and criticism, but on every occasion remained a firm and wise helmsman of the barque of Peter.

As the years pass, the importance of his Pontificate for the Church and for the world, and likewise, the value of his lofty Magisterium which has inspired his Successors and to which I too continue to refer, appear ever more clearly.

I therefore willingly take this opportunity today to pay him homage, as I encourage you, dear friends, to persevere with the work you started some time ago.

Making my own the exhortation addressed to you by our beloved Pope John Paul II, I gladly repeat to you: "Study Paul VI lovingly.... Study him with scientific thoroughness.... Study him with the conviction that his spiritual heritage continues to enrich the Church and can nourish the consciences of the men of today, who are so much in need of "words of eternal life'" (Address to the Scientific and the Executive Committee of the Paul VI Institute, 26 January 1980; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 4 February, p. 15).

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you once again for your visit; I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and I bless you with affection, and your families and all the projects of the Paul VI Institute of Brescia.


Pope's Letter to the Camaldolese Order
On the Life of St. Peter Damian (Feb 20, 2007)

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To Rev. Fr Guido Innocenzo Gargano, Superior of the Monastery of San Gregorio al Celio

Today's Feast of St Peter Damian offers me the pleasant opportunity to address a cordial greeting to all the members of the worthy Camaldolese Order, as well as to those who admire and are inspired by the figure and work of this great Gospel witness. He was one of the protagonists of Medieval Church history and undoubtedly the most prolific writer of the 11th century.

The 1,000th anniversary of his birth is an especially appropriate occasion to examine closely the aspects characterizing his multifacetted personality as scholar, hermit and man of the Church, but especially as a person in love with Christ.

In his life, St Peter Damian was proof of a successful synthesis of hermitic and pastoral activity. As a hermit, he embodied that Gospel radicalism and unreserved love for Christ, so well expressed in the Rule of St Benedict: "Prefer nothing, absolutely nothing, to the love of Christ".

As a man of the Church, he worked with farsighted wisdom and when necessary also made hard and courageous decisions. The whole of his human and spiritual life was played out in the tension between his life as a hermit and his ecclesiastical duty.

St Peter Damian was above all a hermit, indeed, the last theoretician of the hermitic life in the Latin Church exactly at the time of the East-West schism. In his interesting work entitled The Life of Blessed Romuald, he left us one of the most significant fruits of the monastic experience of the undivided Church. For him, the hermitic life was a strong call to rally all Christians to the primacy of Christ and his lordship.

It is an invitation to discover Christ's love for the Church, starting from his relationship with the Father; a love that the hermit must in turn nourish with, for and in Christ, in regard to the entire People of God. St Peter Damian felt the presence of the universal Church in the hermitic life so strongly that he wrote in his ecclesiological treatise entitled Dominus Vobiscum that the Church is at the same time one in all and all in each one of her members.

This great holy hermit was also an eminent man of the Church who made himself available to move from the hermitage to go wherever his presence might be required in order to mediate between contending parties, were they Churchmen, monks or simple faithful.

Although he was radically focused on the unum necessarium, he did not shirk the practical demands that love for the Church imposed upon him. He was impelled by his desire that the Ecclesial Community always show itself as a holy and immaculate Bride ready for her heavenly Bridegroom, and expressed with a lively ars oratoria his sincere and disinterested zeal for the Church's holiness.

Yet, after each ecclesial mission he would return to the peace of the hermitage at Fonte Avellana and, free from all ambition, he even reached the point of definitively renouncing the dignity of Cardinal so as not to distance himself from his hermitic solitude, the cell of his hidden existence in Christ.

Lastly, St Peter Damien was the soul of the "Riforma gregoriana", which marked the passage from the first to the second millennium and whose heart and driving force was St Gregory VII. It was, in fact, a matter of the application of institutional decisions of a theological,disciplinary and spiritual character which permitted a greater libertas Ecclesiae in the second millennium. They restored the breath of great theology with reference to the Fathers of the Church and in particular, to St Augustine, St Jerome and St Gregory the Great. With his pen and his words he addressed all: he asked his brother hermits for the courage of a radical self-giving to the Lord which would as closely as possible resemble martyrdom; he demanded of the Pope, Bishops and ecclesiastics a high level of evangelical detachment from honours and privileges in carrying out their ecclesial functions; he reminded priests of the highest ideal of their mission that they were to exercise by cultivating purity of morals and true personal poverty.

In an age marked by forms of particularism and uncertainties because it was bereft of a unifying principle, Peter Damien, aware of his own limitations -- he liked to define himself as peccator monachus -- passed on to his contemporaries the knowledge that only through a constant harmonious tension between the two fundamental poles of life -- solitude and communion -- can an effective Christian witness develop. Does not this teaching also apply to our times? I gladly express the hope that the celebration of the Millennium of his birth may not only contribute to rediscovering the timeliness and depth of his thought and action, but may also be an appropriate opportunity for a personal and communitarian spiritual renewal, starting constantly from Jesus Christ, "the same yesterday and today and for ever" (Heb 13:8).

I assure a remembrance in prayer for you and for all the Camaldolese Monk Hermits to whom I send a special Apostolic Blessing, gladly extending it to all those who share their spirituality.

From the Vatican, 20 February 2007



Benedict XVI's Address to Media Council
"Safeguard the Common Good ... Uphold the Truth"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace to the participants of the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

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Your Eminences,

Dear Brother Bishops,

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am glad to welcome you to the Vatican today on the occasion of the annual Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications. My thanks go firstly to Archbishop Foley, President of the Council, for his kind introductory comments. To all of you, I wish to express my gratitude for your commitment to the apostolate of social communications, the importance of which cannot be underestimated in our increasingly technological world.

The field of social communications is fast-changing. While the print media struggles to maintain circulation, other forms of media such as radio, television and the Internet are developing at an extraordinary rate. Against the backdrop of globalization, this ascendancy of the electronic media coincides with its increasing concentration in the hands of a few multinational conglomerates whose influence crosses all social and cultural boundaries.

What have been the outcomes and effects of this rise in the media and entertainment industries? I know this question is one that commands your close attention. Indeed, given the media's pervasive role in shaping culture, it concerns all people who take seriously the well-being of civic society.

Undoubtedly much of great benefit to civilization is contributed by the various components of the mass media. One need only think of quality documentaries and news services, wholesome entertainment, and thought-provoking debates and interviews. Furthermore, in regard to the Internet it must be duly recognized that it has opened up a world of knowledge and learning that previously for many could only be accessed with difficulty, if at all. Such contributions to the common good are to be applauded and encouraged.

On the other hand, it is also readily apparent that much of what is transmitted in various forms to the homes of millions of families around the world is destructive. By directing the light of Christ's truth upon such shadows the Church engenders hope. Let us strengthen our efforts to encourage all to place the lit lamp on the lamp-stand where it shines for everyone in the home, the school, and society (cf. Mt 5:14-16)!

In this regard, my message for this year's World Communications Day draws attention to the relationship between the media and young people. My concerns are no different from those of any mother or father, or teacher, or responsible citizen. We all recognize that "beauty, a kind of mirror of the divine, inspires and vivifies young hearts and minds, while ugliness and coarseness have a depressing impact on attitudes and behavior" (No. 2). The responsibility to introduce and educate children and young people into the ways of beauty, truth and goodness is therefore a grave one. It can be supported by media conglomerates only to the extent that they promote fundamental human dignity, the true value of marriage and family life, and the positive achievements and goals of humanity.

I appeal again to the leaders of the media industry to advise producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family. And in encouraging all of you gathered here today, I am confident that care will be taken to ensure that the fruits of your reflections and study are effectively shared with particular Churches through parish, school and diocesan structures.

To all of you, your colleagues and the members of your families at home I impart my Apostolic Blessing.


Papal Address to Focolare and Sant'Egidio Friends
"Communion Among Charisms a 'Sign of the Times'"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 8 to the bishop-friends of the Focolare Movement and the Community of Sant'Egidio.

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Clementine Hall
Thursday, 8 February 2007

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate,

I am happy to welcome you to this special Audience and cordially greet all of you who have come from different nations of the world. I also address a particular thought to those who are here with us and belong to other Churches.

Some of you participate annually in this appointment of Bishop-Friends of the Focolare Movement, which has the theme: "Christ Crucified and abandoned, light in the cultural night".

I welcome this occasion to send Chiara Lubich my wishes and my Blessing, which I extend to all the members of the Movement she founded.

Others are taking part in the Ninth Convention of Bishop-Friends of the Sant'Egidio Community, addressing the topic so pertinent today: "The globalization of love". I greet Bishop Vincenzo Paglia, and with him, Professor Andrea Riccardi and the entire Community, who, on the anniversary of its founding, will gather this evening in the Basilica of St John Lateran for a solemn Eucharistic celebration.

I do not have all your names here, but naturally I greet all my dear Brothers, Bishops, Cardinals and all you dear Brothers of the Orthodox Church, all of you from my heart.

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate, I would first like to tell you that your closeness to the two Movements, while emphasizing the vitality of these new aggregations of faithful, also manifests that communion among charisms which constitutes a typical "sign of the times".

It seems to me that these encounters of the charisms of the unity of the Church in the diversity of gifts are a very encouraging and important sign.

The Post-Synodal Exhortation Pastores Gregis recalls that: "The relationships of exchange between Bishops... go well beyond their institutional meetings" (n. 59). It is what occurs also in conventions such as yours, where not only collegiality is experienced, but an episcopal fraternity that draws from the sharing of the ideals promoted by the Movements a stimulus to render more intense the communion of hearts, to make stronger the reciprocal support and a more active commitment to show the Church as a place of prayer and charity, a home of mercy and peace.

My venerable Predecessor, John Paul II, has presented the Movements and New Communities which have come into being in these years as a providential gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church, in order to respond in an effective way to the challenges of our time. And you know that this is also my conviction.

When I was still a professor and then Cardinal, I had the occasion to express my conviction that Movements are really a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Church. And precisely as the encounter of the charisms, they also show the richness of both gifts and unity in the faith.

For example, could one forget last year's extraordinary Pentecost Vigil that witnessed the joint participation of many Movements and Ecclesial Associations? The emotion I felt in participating in St Peter's Square in such an intense spiritual experience is still alive in me.

I repeat to you what I said then to the faithful gathered from every part of the world, and that is, that the multiplicity and the unity of the charisms and ministries are inseparable in the life of the Church.

The Holy Spirit wants the multiformity of the Movements at the service of the one Body, which is the Church. And this comes about through the ministry of those he has placed to sustain the Church of God: the Bishops in communion with the Successor of Peter.

This unity and multiplicity which comprises the People of God in some way also makes itself manifest today, with many Bishops being gathered here with the Pope, near to two different Ecclesial Movements, characterized by a strong missionary dimension.

In the rich Western world, where even though a relativistic culture is present, at the same time a widespread desire for spirituality is not missing, and your Movements witness the joy of the faith and the beauty of being Christian in great ecumenical openness.

In the vast depressed areas of the earth, they communicate the message of solidarity and draw near to the poor and the weak with that human and divine love that I wished to repropose to the attention of all in the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est.

The communion between Bishops and Movements, therefore, provides a valid impulse for a renewed commitment by the Church in announcing and witnessing to the Gospel of hope and charity in every corner of the world.

The Focolare Movement, precisely beginning from the heart of its spirituality which is Jesus crucified and abandoned, emphasizes the charism and the service of unity, which is realized in various social and cultural environments as, for example, the economic with the "economy of communion", and through the ways of ecumenism and of interreligious dialogue.

The Sant'Egidio Community, placing prayer and liturgy at the centre of its existence, wants to draw near to those who experience situations of hardship and social marginalization.

For the Christian, man, however distant, is never a stranger. Together it is possible to face with greater effort the challenges that summon us in a pressing way at the beginning of the third millennium: I think in the first place of the search for justice and peace and of the urgency of building a more fraternal and united world, beginning precisely with the countries from which some of you come and that are tried by bloody conflicts.

I refer especially to Africa, the Continent that I carry in my heart and that I hope will finally know a time of stable peace and true development. The next Synod of African Bishops will surely be an opportune moment to show the great love that God has for the beloved African population.

Dear friends, the original fraternity that exists between you and the Movements you befriend, bids you to carry together "one another's burdens" (Gal 6:2), as the Apostle recommends, especially concerning evangelization, love for the poor and the cause of peace.

May the Lord render your spiritual and apostolic initiatives ever more effective. I accompany you with prayer and gladly impart the Apostolic Blessing to you present here, to the Focolare Movement and the Sant'Egidio Community, and to the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care.


Papal Address to Italian Volunteers
"You Contribute to the Spreading of the Gospel of God's Love"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 25, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 10 in Paul VI Hall to members of the Confederation of Misericordie d'Italia, a voluntary service group.

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Dear friends of Misericordie d'Italia,

I am happy to receive you and address my welcome to all of you present here, grateful for this visit that offers me the occasion to know you better.

I greet the President of your Confederation and I thank dear Cardinal Antonelli for the kind words he has addressed to me in the name of all of you.

The Misericordie -- it is only right to emphasize -- are the most ancient form of organized voluntary service in the world.

In fact, they go back to the initiative of St Peter Martyr of Verona, who in 1244, in Florence, gathered some citizens of every age and social condition desiring to "honor God with works of mercy to one's neighbor", in a totally free, unobtrusive way.

Today, the Confederation of the Misericordie d'Italia embodies some 700 confraternities -- as you eloquently call them -- especially centered around Tuscany but present throughout the national territory, in particular in the central and southern regions.

To this, the numerous groups of blood donors called "Fratres" must be added. So more than 100,000 belong to your beneficent organization; they are committed in a permanent way in the social health-care field.

The variety of your input, besides being a response to the emerging needs of society, is a sign of zeal, of a "creativity" in charity that stems from a beating heart whose "motor" is love for humankind in difficulty.

This is exactly why you merit appreciation: with your presence and action you contribute to the spreading of the Gospel of God's love for all people.

In fact, how can we not recall the impressive Gospel passage where St Matthew calls us to encounter the Lord definitively? Then, as Jesus himself said, the Judge of the world will ask us if in the course of our existence we have given the hungry to eat, the thirsty to drink; if we have welcomed the foreigner and opened the door of our hearts to the needy.

In a word, at the Last Judgment God will ask us if we have loved, not in an abstract way, but concretely, with deeds (cf. Mt 25:31-46).

Reading anew these lines, it always truly touches my heart that Jesus, the Son of Man and final Judge, precedes us with this act, making himself man, making himself poor and thirsty, and lastly, he embraces us, drawing us to his Heart. And so God does what he wants us to do: to be open to others and to live love, not with words, but in practice. At the end of his life, St. John of the Cross loved to repeat that we will be judged on love.

What is necessary even today, indeed, especially in this our epoch marked by so many human and spiritual challenges, is for Christians to proclaim with their works the merciful love of God!

Every baptized person must "live the Gospel". In fact, many people who do not welcome Christ and his exigent teachings easily are nevertheless sensitive to the witness of those who communicate his message through the concrete witness of charity.

Love is a language that directly reaches the heart and opens it to trust. I exhort you, then, as St Peter did to the first Christians, to be ever ready to reply to anyone who asks you the reason "for the hope that is in you" (1 Pt 3:15).

I would then like to add another reflection: the reality of your association constitutes a typical example of the importance that your "Christian roots" have in Italy and in Europe. Your confraternities, the Misericordie, are a very realistic living and viable manifestation of these Christian roots.

Nowadays, the Misericordie are not an ecclesial aggregation, but their historic roots remain unequivocally Christian. The very name "Misericordie" expresses it, and it is also manifested by the fact, already recalled, that at your origins are the initiative of a Saint.

Now, for the roots to continue to bring forth fruit, they must stay alive and well. For this reason you opportunely propose to your members regular periods of qualification and formation, to increasingly deepen the human and Christian motivation of your activity.

The risk, in effect, is that volunteerism can turn into simple activism. If, instead, the spiritual side remains alive, it can communicate to others more than the materially necessary things: it can offer one's neighbor in difficulty a loving look that is needed (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," n. 18).

Lastly, I would like to show you a third reason why you are appreciated. Together with other volunteer associations, you carry out an important educational role, such as contributing to keep alive the sensitivity to noble values such as fraternity and disinterested help to whoever finds himself in difficulty.

In particular, youth can benefit from the experience of volunteer work because, if it is done well, it can become a "school of life" for them that helps them to give their own existence a meaning and higher and more prolific value.

May the Misericordie help them to grow in the dimension of service to one's neighbor and to discover a great Gospel truth: "It is more blessed to give than to receive" (Acts 20: 35; cf. "Deus Caritas Est," n. 30).

Dear friends, tomorrow, 11 February, Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes, the World Day of the Sick reaches its 15th anniversary. This year our attention is addressed in a special way to persons afflicted with incurable diseases. To many of them, you also, dear friends, dedicate your service.

May the Immaculate Virgin, Mother of Mercy, watch over your confraternity, indeed, watch over each member of the Misericordie d'Italia. May she help you to fulfill your mission with authentic love, thus contributing to the spread of God's love in the world, the source of life for every human being.

To you present here, to the whole Misericordie d'Italia, and to the blood donors Fratres I impart my heartfelt Blessing.


Papal Address to Delegates of Paris-based Academy
"Always Uphold the Truth About Man"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 23, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered to the members of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences of Paris, whom he received in audience Feb. 10.

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Saturday, 10 February 2007

Mr Permanent Secretary,
Your Eminence,
Dear Academic Friends,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

With pleasure, I welcome you today, members of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences. First, I thank Mr Michel Albert, Permanent Secretary, for the words with which he has expressed your delegation's sentiments, and also for the medal that recalls my entry as a Foreign Associate Member of your noble Institution.

The Academy of Moral and Political Sciences is a place of exchange and debate, which proposes reflections to help all citizens and legislators to "find the forms of political organization most favorable to the public good and to the development of the individual".

In fact, the reflections and actions of the Authorities and of the citizens must be centered on two elements: respect for each human being and the quest for the common good.

In today's world it is more than ever urgent to invite our contemporaries to a renewed attention to these two elements. In effect, the development of subjectivism, which makes each one tend to consider himself as the only point of reference and to hold that what he thinks has the character of truth, exhorts us to form consciences on fundamental values that cannot be mocked without putting man and society itself in danger, and upon the objective criteria of a decision that presupposes an act of reason.

As I emphasized during my Conference on The New Covenant held before your Academy in 1995, the human person is "constitutively a being in relationship", called to consider himself ever more responsible to his brothers and sisters in humanity.

The question asked by God from the very first text of Scripture must resound constantly in the heart of everyone: "What have you done [for]... your brother?".

The sense of fraternity and solidarity and the sense of the common good are founded on the vigilant respect of one's brethren and on the organization of society, granting a place to everyone so that they can live in dignity, have a roof and what is necessary for their own existence and for that of the family for which they are responsible.

It is in this spirit that one must understand the motion that you approved last October regarding the rights of man and freedom of expression, which are part of the fundamental rights, being careful never to mock the fundamental dignity of the person and of human groups and to respect their religious beliefs.

Allow me to recall to your attention the figure of Andre «Á Dimitrijevitch Sakharov, whom I succeeded in the Academy. This outstanding personality reminds us that it is necessary, in private and public life, to have the courage to say the truth and to follow it, to be free with respect to the surrounding world that often tends to impose its viewpoint and the behavior to adopt.

True freedom consists in proceeding along the way of truth according to one's vocation, knowing that each person must render an account of his own life to his Creator and Savior.

It is important that we know how to propose to youth a similar path, reminding them that true development is not at whatever cost, and inviting them not to be content to follow every trend presented to them. Hence, they will be able to discern with courage and tenacity the way of freedom and happiness, which presupposes fulfilling a certain number of requirements made with effort, sacrifice and the necessary renunciation so as to act well.

One of the challenges for our contemporaries, and in particular for youth, consists in not accepting to live merely in exteriority, in appearance, but in the development of the interior life, the unifying environment of being and acting, the place of recognizing our dignity as sons and daughters of God called to freedom, not separating ourselves from the font of life but remaining connected to it.

That gladdens man's heart is the recognition of being a son or daughter of God; it is a beautiful and good life under the gaze of God, as are also the victories obtained over evil and against deceit. By permitting each person to discover that life has a sense and that he or she is responsible for it, we open the way to a maturation of the person and to a reconciled humanity that seeks the common good.

The Russian intellectual Sakharov is an example of this; while his exterior freedom was obstructed during the Communist period, his interior freedom, which no one could touch, authorized him to speak out firmly in defense of his compatriots in the name of the common good.

It is important also today that man does not allow himself to be hampered by exterior chains such as relativism, the search for power and profit at any cost, drugs, disordered relationships, confusion in regard to matrimony and the non-recognition of the human person in all phases of his or her existence from conception to its natural end, which suggests that there can be periods when the human being would not really exist.

We must have the courage to remind our contemporaries what man is and what humanity is. I invite the civil Authorities and the people with a role in the transmission of values to always uphold the truth about man.

At the conclusion of our meeting, permit me to hope that through your works, the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, together with other institutions, can always help people to build a better life and to build up a society where it is beautiful to live as brothers and sisters. This is the wish, united to prayer, that I raise to the Lord for you, your families and all the members of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences.


Pope's Address at Vaccine Project Launch
"Every Service Rendered to the Poor Is a Service Rendered to Peace"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received in audience today representatives of the Advance Market Commitment project, formed to provide to the world's poor vaccines that will help to prevent pneumonia and meningitis.

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you, the finance ministers of Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada and Russia, as well as other ministers, distinguished international leaders and important international figures, including the Queen of Jordan and the President of the World Bank. I thank Minister Tommaso Padoa Schioppa for his courteous words of greeting offered on your behalf. Our meeting today is a most welcome one, since it takes place as part of the launching of a pilot program aimed at developing and producing vaccines against pandemic diseases, and making them available to poorer countries. This worthy initiative, entitled Advance Market Commitment, is meant to help resolve one of the most pressing challenges in preventative healthcare, one which particularly affects nations already suffering from poverty and serious needs. It has the further merit of bringing together public institutions and the private sector in an effort to find the most effective means of intervening in this area.

Our gathering takes place just before the World Day of the Sick, held annually on 11 February, the feast of Our Lady of Lourdes. It is an occasion for the Church to call public attention to the plight of the suffering, and this year it focuses on those with incurable diseases, many of whom are in the terminal stage. In this context, I wholeheartedly encourage your efforts for this new program and its goal of advancing scientific research directed to the discovery of new vaccines. Such vaccines are urgently needed to prevent millions of human beings, including countless children, from dying each year of infectious diseases, especially in those areas of our world at greatest risk. In this era of globalized markets, we are all concerned about the growing gap between the standard of living in countries enjoying great wealth and a high level of technological development, and that of underdeveloped countries where poverty persists and is even increasing.

The creative and promising initiative launched today seeks to counter this trend, since it aims to create "future" markets for vaccines, primarily those capable of preventing infant mortality. I assure you of the Holy See's full support of this humanitarian project, which is inspired by that spirit of human solidarity which our world needs in order to overcome every form of selfishness and to foster the peaceful coexistence of peoples. As I said in my Message for this year's World Day of Peace, every service rendered to the poor is a service rendered to peace, for "at the origin of many tensions that threaten peace are surely the many unjust inequalities still tragically present in our world" (No. 6).

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I will pray for each of you that Almighty God will assist your endeavors to accomplish this important work. Upon you and your loved ones, I cordially invoke his blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.


Papal Message for World Communications Day
"Beauty Inspires and Vivifies Young Hearts and Minds"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 24, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI wrote on the occasion of World Communications Day 2007, which will be observed May 20 with the theme: "Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education."

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Children and the Media: a Challenge for Education

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. The theme of the Forty-first World Communications Day, "Children and the Media: A Challenge for Education", invites us to reflect on two related topics of immense importance. The formation of children is one. The other, perhaps less obvious but no less important, is the formation of the media.

The complex challenges facing education today are often linked to the pervasive influence of the media in our world. As an aspect of the phenomenon of globalization, and facilitated by the rapid development of technology, the media profoundly shape the cultural environment (cf. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Letter The Rapid Development, 3). Indeed, some claim that the formative influence of the media rivals that of the school, the Church, and maybe even the home. "Reality, for many, is what the media recognize as real" (Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Aetatis novae, 4).

2. The relationship of children, media, and education can be considered from two perspectives: the formation of children by the media; and the formation of children to respond appropriately to the media. A kind of reciprocity emerges which points to the responsibilities of the media as an industry and to the need for active and critical participation of readers, viewers and listeners. Within this framework, training in the proper use of the media is essential for the cultural, moral and spiritual development of children.

How is this common good to be protected and promoted? Educating children to be discriminating in their use of the media is a responsibility of parents, Church, and school. The role of parents is of primary importance. They have a right and duty to ensure the prudent use of the media by training the conscience of their children to express sound and objective judgments which will then guide them in choosing or rejecting programs available (cf. Pope John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortio, 76). In doing so, parents should have the encouragement and assistance of schools and parishes in ensuring that this difficult, though satisfying, aspect of parenting is supported by the wider community.

Media education should be positive. Children exposed to what is aesthetically and morally excellent are helped to develop appreciation, prudence and the skills of discernment. Here it is important to recognize the fundamental value of parents’ example and the benefits of introducing young people to children's classics in literature, to the fine arts and to uplifting music. While popular literature will always have its place in culture, the temptation to sensationalize should not be passively accepted in places of learning. Beauty, a kind of mirror of the divine, inspires and vivifies young hearts and minds, while ugliness and coarseness have a depressing impact on attitudes and behavior.

Like education in general, media education requires formation in the exercise of freedom. This is a demanding task. So often freedom is presented as a relentless search for pleasure or new experiences. Yet this is a condemnation not a liberation! True freedom could never condemn the individual -- especially a child -- to an insatiable quest for novelty. In the light of truth, authentic freedom is experienced as a definitive response to God’s ‘yes’ to humanity, calling us to choose, not indiscriminately but deliberately, all that is good, true and beautiful. Parents, then, as the guardians of that freedom, while gradually giving their children greater freedom, introduce them to the profound joy of life (cf. Address to the Fifth World Meeting of Families, Valencia, 8 July 2006).

3. This heartfelt wish of parents and teachers to educate children in the ways of beauty, truth and goodness can be supported by the media industry only to the extent that it promotes fundamental human dignity, the true value of marriage and family life, and the positive achievements and goals of humanity. Thus, the need for the media to be committed to effective formation and ethical standards is viewed with particular interest and even urgency not only by parents and teachers but by all who have a sense of civic responsibility.

While affirming the belief that many people involved in social communications want to do what is right (cf. Pontifical Council for Social Communications, Ethics in communications, 4), we must also recognize that those who work in this field confront "special psychological pressures and ethical dilemmas" (Aetatis novae, 19) which at times see commercial competitiveness compelling communicators to lower standards. Any trend to produce programs and products -- including animated films and video games -- which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents. How could one explain this ‘entertainment’ to the countless innocent young people who actually suffer violence, exploitation and abuse? In this regard, all would do well to reflect on the contrast between Christ who "put his arms around [the children] laid his hands on them and gave them his blessing" (Mk 10:16) and the one who "leads astray … these little ones" for whom "it would be better … if a millstone were hung round his neck" (Lk 17:2). Again I appeal to the leaders of the media industry to educate and encourage producers to safeguard the common good, to uphold the truth, to protect individual human dignity and promote respect for the needs of the family.

4. The Church herself, in the light of the message of salvation entrusted to her, is also a teacher of humanity and welcomes the opportunity to offer assistance to parents, educators, communicators, and young people. Her own parish and school programs should be in the forefront of media education today. Above all, the Church desires to share a vision of human dignity that is central to all worthy human communication. "Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave" (Deus caritas est, 18).

From the Vatican, 24 January 2007, the Feast of Saint Francis de Sales.



Papal Message to Catholics in Mideast
"Peace Warrants Great Sacrifices on the Part of All"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's Dec. 21message to Catholics living in the Middle East.

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To My Beloved Brother Bishops, Priests, and Lay Faithful in the Middle East

Bathed in the light of Christmas, we contemplate the presence of the Word who has pitched his tent among us. He is the "light that shines in the darkness" and that "gave us power to become children of God" (cf. Jn 1:5, 12). At this most significant time for the Christian faith, I wish to address a special word to you, Catholic brothers and sisters, who live in the Middle East region: I feel spiritually present in each of your particular Churches, even the smallest, sharing with you the worries and the hope with which you await the Lord Jesus, Prince of Peace. To all of you I say with the biblical greeting used by Saint Francis of Assisi: may the Lord give you peace.

I greet with affection the communities that are, or feel like, a "little flock" either due to the diminished numbers of their brothers and sisters (cf. Lk 12:32), or because they are immersed in a society composed of a majority of believers from other religions, or due to the serious hardships and difficulties being currently experienced by some of the nations in this area. I am thinking above all of countries marked by strained relations and often marred by brutally violent incidents which, as well as causing widespread destruction, strike without pity helpless and innocent people. The daily news coming from the Middle East shows a growth of alarming situations, seemingly with no possible escape. They are events which naturally give rise, in those involved, to recriminations and rage, leading them to thoughts of retaliation and revenge.

We know that these are not Christian sentiments; to give in to them would leave us callous and spiteful, far from that "gentleness and lowliness" which Jesus Christ proposed to us as the model of behaviour (cf. Mt 11:29). Indeed, we could lose the opportunity to make a properly Christian contribution to the solution of the grave problems of our time. It would not be at all wise, especially now, to spend our time asking who has suffered the most or presenting an account of injustices suffered, listing the reasons which reinforce one's own argument. This has often happened in the past, with results which to say the least were disappointing. Suffering in the end affects everyone, and when one person suffers he should first of all wish to understand how much someone else in a similar situation suffers. Patient and humble dialogue, achieved through listening to each other and being intent upon understanding someone else's situation has already born positive results in many countries previously devastated by violence and revenge. A little more trust in the compassion of others, especially those suffering, cannot but bear efficacious results. Today, many parties rightly plead for this interior disposition.

The Catholic communities in your countries are never far from my thoughts and in this season of Christmas I think of them with a heightened sense of concern. The star seen by the Magi brings us to your lands, the star which guided them to see the child with Mary his mother (cf. Mt 2:11). It is in the East that Jesus offered his life and "made the two into one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility" (Eph 2:14). There he said to his disciples: "Go into the world and preach the Gospel to the whole creation" (Mk 16:15). There the Master's disciples were for the first time called Christians (cf. Acts 11:26). There the Church of the great Fathers was born and grew, and varying and rich spiritual and liturgical traditions blossomed.

To you, dear brothers and sisters, heirs of these traditions, I express with affection my personal closeness in this situation of human insecurity, daily suffering, fear and hope which you are living. I repeat to your communities the words of the Redeemer: "Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give to you the kingdom" (Lk 12:32). You can rely on my full solidarity with you in your current circumstances. In this regard, I am sure that I speak for the universal Church. Thus neither individual Catholics nor their communities, should feel alone or abandoned. Your Churches are accompanied in their difficult journey by prayer and by the charitable support of the particular Churches throughout the whole world, according to the example and spirit of the early Church (cf. Acts 11:29--30).

In the present circumstances, marked little by light and too much by darkness, it is a cause of consolation and hope for me to know that the Christian communities in the Middle East, whose intense suffering I am well aware of, continue to be vital and active communities, resolute in bearing witness to their faith with their specific identity in the societies in which they are situated. They wish to contribute in a constructive manner to the urgent needs of their respective societies and the whole region. Saint Peter, writing his First Letter to a rather poor and marginalized community, persecuted and held in little regard by the society of that time, did not hesitate to say that their difficult situation should be considered a "grace" (cf. 1 Pt 1:7--11). In fact, is it not a grace to be able to participate in the sufferings of Christ, uniting oneself to the action with which he took unto himself our sins in order to atone for them? May Catholic communities, often living in difficult situations, be aware of the powerful force which emanates from suffering accepted with love. Such suffering can change the hearts of others and the heart of the world. I encourage each of you therefore to carry on with perseverance, comforted by the knowledge of the "price" with which Christ has redeemed us (cf. 1 Cor 6:20). Certainly, the response to one's Christian vocation is much more difficult for the members of minority communities, often numerically of little significance. Nevertheless, as your Patriarchs wrote in their Pastoral Letter of Easter 1992, "the light can be faint in a house yet lighten up the whole house. Salt is a negligible element in foods, but it is salt which gives them flavour. Very little yeast is in dough, yet it is the leaven which prepares it to become bread." In making these words my own I encourage the Catholic Bishops to persevere in their ministry, cultivating unity among themselves and always remaining close to their flock. Know that the Pope shares the concerns, hopes and exhortations expressed in their annual pastoral letters, and also in the daily exercise of their sacred duties. He encourages them in their effort to sustain and reinforce in faith, hope and charity the flock entrusted to them. The presence of their communities in the various countries of the region constitutes, among other things, something which can greatly encourage ecumenism.

For some time now it has become clear that many Christians are leaving the Middle East, to such an extent that the Holy Places are at risk of being reduced to archaeological sites, void of any ecclesial life. Undoubtedly, minorities find it difficult to survive in the midst of dangerous geopolitical situations, cultural conflicts, economic and strategic interests, and forms of aggression which claim justification from a social or religious basis. In fact, many Christians eventually give in to the temptation to emigrate. Often the damage done is practically irreparable. One must not forget, however, that simply being together and living through common suffering has a healing effect on wounds and disposes people to thoughts and deeds of reconciliation and peace. This in turn gives rise to a habitual, fraternal dialogue, which in time and with the grace of the Holy Spirit, can become a broader dialogue in the cultural, social and political spheres. Believers moreover are confidently aware of a hope that does not delude, because it is rooted in the presence of the Risen One. From him comes the commitment of faith and our active love of neighbour (cf. 1 Th 1:3). Even in the most distressing situations Christian hope teaches us that passive resignation and pessimism are the great threat which can thwart the unfolding of our baptismal vocation. They bring about distrust, fear, self--pity, fatalism and flight.

In the present situation Christians are called to be courageous and steadfast in the power of the Spirit of Christ, knowing that they can count on the closeness of their brothers and sisters in the faith scattered throughout the world. Saint Paul, writing to the Romans, declares that there is no comparison between the sufferings of this present time and the future glory that awaits us (cf. 8:18). Likewise Saint Peter, in his First Letter reminds us that we Christians, even when afflicted by various trials, have a higher hope that fills our heart with joy (cf. 1:6). Saint Paul again, in the Second Letter to the Corinthians states with conviction that "the God of all consolation… comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction" (1:3--4). We know well that the consolation promised by the Holy Spirit does not consist merely of nice words, but in a broadening of mind and heart, that allows us to understand our own situation in the wider picture of all creation labouring in the act of giving birth while awaiting the revelation of the sons of God (cf. Rom 8:19--25). From this perspective it is possible to think more of our neighbour's sufferings than of our own, more of common ills than private ones. We can strive to do something so that others may understand that their sufferings are recognized and understood, and that we have the will, as far as possible, to remedy them.

Through you, my dearly beloved, I wish to make an appeal to your fellow citizens, men and women of the different Christian confessions, of different religions and all who honestly seek peace, justice and solidarity by listening and sincere dialogue. I say to you all: persevere with courage and trust! I appeal to those who hold positions of responsibility in guiding events to cultivate that sensitivity, attentiveness and closeness which surpasses schemes and strategies so that they can build societies that are more peaceful and just, truly respectful of every human being.

You are well aware, dear brothers and sisters, of my ardent desire that Providence will allow me to make a pilgrimage to the Land made holy by the events of Salvation History. I hope to be able to pray in Jerusalem, "the cherished homeland of all the spiritual descendants of Abraham, who hold it so dearly" (cf. John Paul II, Redemptionis Anno, AAS LXXVI, 1984, 625). I am convinced that it can rise up as "a symbol of encounter, of union and peace for the whole human family" (ibid p. 629). While we await the fulfilment of this desire, I encourage you to continue along the path of trust, with acts of friendship and good will. I refer both to the simple, daily deeds practiced for years in your region by so many good and humble people who have always treated others with consideration, and also to those deeds considered heroic, inspired by authentic respect for human dignity and the desire to find solutions to situations of grave hostility. Peace is such an important and urgent good that it warrants great sacrifices on the part of all.

As my venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II, wrote: "there is no peace without justice". It is necessary therefore that the rights of all be recognized and upheld. Pope John Paul II however added: "there is no peace without forgiveness". Agreements opening the way to dialogue and future cooperation are not normally reached without coming to terms with past errors. In this case forgiveness is an indispensable condition if we wish to be free to build a new future. Works of solidarity are born and developed from forgiveness offered and received. Many such initiatives have already been undertaken in your region by the Church, governments and non--governmental organizations.

The song of the Angels over the stable of Bethlehem – "peace on earth to those whom God loves" – takes on during these days its full meaning and produces now those fruits that in eternal life will exist fully. I hope that the Christmas season will be marked by an end to or at least a reprieve from so much suffering. May it give to families that extra hope which is necessary to persevere in the arduous task of promoting peace in a world so wounded and divided. Dear brothers and sisters, be assured that along this path you are accompanied by the fervent prayers of the Pope and the whole Church. May the intercession and example of so many martyrs and saints, who have given courageous witness to Christ in your lands, sustain and strengthen you in your faith. And may the Holy Family of Nazareth watch over your worthy resolutions and commitments.

With these sentiments, I cordially impart to each one of you a special Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of my affection and closeness.

From the Vatican, 21 December 2006



Pope's Christmas Address to Rome's Students
"Fix Your Gaze on the Child" (December 14, 2006)


St Peter's Basilica
Thursday, 14 December 2006

Dear Friends,

This year too, I have the welcome opportunity of meeting the Roman university world and of exchanging greetings with you for Holy Christmas, which is now at hand. I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini who has presided at the Eucharistic celebration and guided you in reflection on the liturgical texts. I next thank the Rector of the Rome III University and the young student, both of whom have spoken on behalf of your learned assembly. I offer my affectionate greeting to each and every one.

We are meeting just before Christmas, which is the feast of gifts, as I recalled last Sunday when I visited the new Roman parish dedicated to Our Lady Star of Evangelization. Christmas gifts evoke the gift par excellence which the Son of God made of himself and offered to us in the Incarnation.

For this reason, Christmas is appropriately emphasized by the many gifts that people give to one another in these days. But it is important that the principal Gift of which all other gifts are a symbol not be forgotten. Christmas is the day on which God gave himself to humanity, and in the Eucharist this gift of his becomes, so to speak, perfect.

Under the appearance of a little piece of bread, as I said to the children of the above-mentioned Roman parish who are preparing for First Communion and Confirmation, it is really Jesus who gives himself and wishes to enter our hearts.

Dear young people, this year you are reflecting precisely on the theme of the Eucharist, as you follow the spiritual and pastoral programme prepared by the Diocese of Rome.

The Eucharistic mystery is the privileged point of convergence between the various contexts of Christian life, including that of intellectual research.
Encountered in the liturgy and contemplated in adoration, Jesus in the Eucharist is like a "prism" through which one can penetrate further into reality, in the ascetic and mystical, the intellectual and speculative, as well as the historical and moral perspectives.

In the Eucharist, Christ is really present and Holy Mass is a living memorial of his Pasch. The Blessed Sacrament is the qualitative centre of the cosmos and of history. Therefore, it constitutes an inexhaustible source of thought and action for anyone who sets out to seek the truth and desires to cooperate with it.
It is, so to speak, a "concentrate" of truth and love. It not only illumines human knowledge, but also and above all human action and human life, in accordance with "the truth in love" (Eph 4:15), as St Paul said, in the daily task of acting as Jesus himself did.

Thus, the Eucharist fosters in those who nourish themselves on it with perseverance and faith a fruitful unity between contemplation and action.

Dear friends, let us enter into the mystery of Christmas, now approaching, through the "door" of the Eucharist; in the grotto of Bethlehem let us adore the Lord himself who, in the Sacrament of the Eucharist, desired to make himself our spiritual food to transform the world from within, starting with the human heart.

I know that for many of you, university students of Rome, it is now a custom at the beginning of the academic year to go on a special diocesan pilgrimage to Assisi, and I know that many of you took part in the recent one, too.

Well, were not St Francis and St Clare both "conquered" by the Eucharistic Mystery? In the Eucharist they experienced the love of God, that same love which, in the Incarnation, impelled the Creator of the world to make himself little, indeed, the smallest one and the servant of all.

Dear friends, as you prepare for Holy Christmas, may you nourish the same sentiments as these great Saints, so beloved by the Italian People. Like them, fix your gaze on the Child wrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger (cf. Lk 2:7,12,16).

Learn from the Virgin Mary, the first person to contemplate the humanity of the Incarnate Word, the humanity of Divine Wisdom. In the Baby Jesus, with whom she had infinite and silent conversations, she recognized the human Face of God, so that the mysterious Wisdom of the Son was impressed on the Mother's mind and heart.

So it was that Mary became the "Seat of Wisdom", and with this title is venerated in particular by the Roman Academic Community.

A special Icon is dedicated to the Sedes Sapientiae. From Rome it has already visited various countries on a pilgrimage to university institutions. It is present here today, so that it may be passed on from the delegation which has come here from Bulgaria to the one which has come from Albania.

I greet with affection the representatives of both these Nations and express the wish that per Mariam their respective academic communities may advance ever further in their search for truth and goodness, in the light of Divine Wisdom.

I warmly address this wish to each one of you present here and I accompany it with a special Blessing which I willingly extend to all your loved ones. Merry Christmas!


Benedict XVI on the Goal of Diocesan Newspapers
"A Means of Gospel Penetration"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of an address Benedict XVI delivered Nov. 25 to the Federation of Italian Catholic Weeklies.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I greet you with joy and gratitude for your kind visit. I offer my cordial greeting to all, and first to Bishop Giuseppe Betori, Secretary of the Italian Bishops' Conference, and Fr Giorgio Zucchelli, President of the Italian Federation of Catholic Weeklies, whom I thank for interpreting your common sentiments.

I extend my greeting to the editors of the more than 160 diocesan papers and to the many collaborators who contribute in various capacities to publishing the individual weeklies. I greet the Editor and journalists of SIR Agency as well as the Editor of the daily, Avvenire.

I am particularly grateful to you because, at the end of your Congress on the theme "Catholics in politics: Scattered or free?", you have wished to visit the Successor of the Apostle Peter. You thus renew the attestation of your faithfulness to the Church, to whose service you dedicate your human and professional energies every day. In this regard, I also feel duty bound to thank you for the work of sensitization to the initiatives of good of the Successor of Peter for the needs of the universal Church that you carry out among the faithful.

The Federation of Italian Catholic Weeklies, which includes, as your President has just said, the diocesan newspapers, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in these days.

Indeed, it was on 27 November 1966 that your predecessors decided to join forces and to pool the intellectual and creative potential of the various information services that were already carrying out a useful service in Italian Dioceses. The initiative was born from the desire to give greater visibility and effectiveness to the presence and pastoral action of the Church, whose commitment it intended to support, especially at the most demanding moments.

Leafing through your weeklies of the past four decades, one can retrace the life of the Church and society in Italy: in so many of the events that marked it the social and religious changes are remarkable. These events and changes were punctually recorded and commented upon in these pages and special attention was paid to the daily life of the parishes and diocesan communities.

In the face of a multifaceted action that endeavored to tear up the Christian roots of Western civilization, the special role of instruments of social communication with a Catholic slant is to educate the mind and form public opinion in accordance with the Gospel spirit. Their task is to serve the truth courageously, helping public opinion to look at, interpret and live the situation with God's eyes.

The objective of the diocesan paper is to offer to all a message of truth and hope, emphasizing the events and situations in which the Gospel is lived, in which good and truth triumph and in which, with hard work and creativity, people weave and repair the human fabric of small community realities.

Dear friends, the rapid development of the means of social communication and the arrival of many and advanced technologies in the media sector have not rendered your role useless. Indeed, in some aspects, it has become even more significant and important, because it gives a voice to the local communities that are not properly represented in the major newspapers.

The pages of your publications, recounting and fostering the vitality and apostolic zeal of individual communities, constitute a precious vehicle of information and a means of Gospel penetration. Your far-reaching circulation witnesses to the importance of your presence -- that was also fittingly recognized at the recent Convention of the Italian Church in Verona. You are even able to reach where it is impossible for traditional pastoral means to have any effect.

Your weeklies, furthermore, are rightly described as the "people's papers", for they keep in touch with the events and life of local persons and pass on the popular traditions and rich cultural and religious patrimony of your towns and cities. In recounting daily events, you make known that quiet reality woven of faith and goodness that constitutes the genuine fabric of Italian society.

Continue, dear friends, to make your papers a network of connections that facilitates relations and encounters with individual citizens and institutions, as well as among associations, the various social groups, parishes and ecclesial movements.

Continue to be "papers of the people and among the people", training grounds for comparison and loyal discussion among different opinions so as to encourage authentic dialogue, indispensable for the growth of both civil and ecclesial communities.

You can also carry out this service in the social and political milieus.

If, in fact, as you reaffirmed at your Convention, the legitimate pluralism of political decisions has nothing to do with the cultural diaspora of Catholics, your weeklies can represent certain significant meeting "places" for attentive discernment destined for the lay faithful involved in the social and political arenas, to initiate dialogue and find shared convergences and objectives in serving the Gospel and the common good.

Dear friends, to bring your important task to completion, it is first necessary that you yourselves nurture a constant and profound relationship with Christ in prayer, in listening to his Word and in an intense sacramental life.

It is necessary at the same time that you continue to be active and responsible members of the Ecclesial Community in communion with your Pastors. As editors, editorial staff and administrators of Catholic weeklies, rest assured, you do not carry out merely "any kind of job"; rather, you are "cooperators" in the great evangelizing mission of the Church. May you never be discouraged by the difficulties that abound nor by the obstacles that can sometimes even seem insurmountable. Past experience shows that people need sources of information like your newspapers.

I entrust your Federation and the vast public readership of the diocesan weeklies to the Virgin Mary. May she help you in the daily service which you diligently carry out.

As I also invoke upon you the heavenly intercession of St Francis de Sales, patron of journalists, I warmly bless you all, together with your relatives and your diocesan communities.


Papal Address to Members of Sacra Famiglia Group
"How Inseparable Truth and Love Are"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Nov. 11 to the members of the Sacra Famiglia di Nazareth Foundation and of the lay association Comunità Domenico Tardini.

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Paul VI Audience Hall
Saturday, 11 November 2006

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

I rejoice to be here with you today to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Institution, born from the insight of the then Mons. Domenico Tardini, and later directed by the late Cardinal Antonio Samorè and by our Cardinal Silvestrini, with the contribution of friends from the world of school, culture and work, and of both Italian and American benefactors.

I greet all of you, students, alumni, friends and all your families, and I thank you for your warm welcome. I greet in particular Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, President of the "Fondazione Sacra Famiglia di Nazareth"; I am grateful to him for his presentation of this educational and ecclesial institution to which he devotes so much thought and love.

I greet Prof. Angela Groppelli, Vice-President, a psychologist who has been doing her utmost for Villa Nazareth for more than 50 years, and Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, together with the Bishops and priests who have lavished or are lavishing upon it the gifts of the spiritual life, as well as the members of the Council of the Foundation and of the lay Association "Comunità Domenico Tardini", with Pier Silverio Pozzi, Vice-President, and all the members.

Villa Nazareth is a promising work that continues to develop, thanks to the commitment of the students during their training period and then through the professional integration and the new families which come into being. It is the whole of this large family that I desire to greet in its entirety, with special fatherly affection.

Villa Nazareth, which in the past 60 years has accepted several generations of children and young people, proposes to enhance its students' intelligence with respect for personal freedom and oriented to viewing the service of others as an authentic expression of Christian love.

Villa Nazareth intends to teach its young people to make courageous decisions through an approach of openness to dialogue and with reference to reason, purified in the crucible of faith.

Faith, in fact, can offer perspectives of hope to every project that has human destiny at its core. Faith examines the invisible and is thus a friend of reason, which asks itself the essential questions from which it draws meaning for our earthly journey.

In this regard, the question which, according to Luke's account in the Acts of the Apostles, the Deacon Philip asked the Ethiopian he met on the road from Jerusalem to Gaza: "Do you understand what you are reading?" (Acts 8:30), can be enlightening. The Ethiopian answered him: "How can I, unless someone guides me?" (ibid., v. 31).

Philip then spoke to him of Christ. Thus, the Ethiopian discovered the answer to his questions in the person of Christ, proclaimed in the prophet Isaiah's veiled words. It is important, therefore, that someone be beside those who are on their way and proclaim to them "the Good News of Jesus" (v. 35), as Philip did.

Sketched here is the "diakonia" [service] which Christian culture can carry out in helping those who are searching to discover the One who is concealed in the biblical passage, as well as in the events of every person's life. However, it should not be forgotten that the Lord said that he was given food, drink and hospitality, and that he was clothed and visited in every needy person (cf. Mt 25:31-46). Consequently, he is also "concealed" in these persons and events.

I know, dear friends, that you are accustomed to reflecting on these and other similar biblical texts. They are words that accompany your days.

By combining these images and advice, you can clearly understand how inseparable truth and love are. No culture can be satisfied with itself until it discovers that it must be attentive to the real and profound needs of the human being, every human being.

At Villa Nazareth, you are able to experience that living the Word of God to the full demands attentive listening and a generous and mature heart. The content of Jesus' Revelation is concrete, and a Christianly-inspired intellectual must always be ready to communicate it when he converses with those seeking solutions that can improve life and respond to the anxiety that assails every human heart.

It is necessary above all to show the deep correspondence that exists between the requests that emerge from reflection on human events and the divine Logos who "became flesh" and came "to dwell among us" (cf. Jn 1:14).

Thus, a fruitful convergence is established between the postulates of reason and the responses of Revelation, and it is precisely from here that a light shines forth and illuminates the path on which to guide one's own commitment.

In daily contact with Scripture and the Church's teachings, you mature and develop the human, professional and spiritual dimensions, and you can thus enter ever more deeply into the mystery of that creative Reason which continues to love the world and to speak with the freedom of creatures.

A Christian intellectual -- and this is certainly what those who come from Villa Nazareth wish to be -- must always foster his or her own wonder at this basic truth. It facilitates docile attachment to the Spirit of God, and at the same time impels one to serve others with ready willingness.

You can deduce the "style" of your commitment from something St Paul said to the Christian community living in Philippi: "Brethren, finally, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things" (Phil 4:8).

It is precisely in this perspective that you can weave a fertile dialogue with culture and make your contribution to ensuring that many people find the answer in Jesus Christ. May you also feel stirred by the Spirit of Jesus as did Philip the deacon when he heard himself told: "'Rise and go toward the south to the road that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza'. This is a desert road" (cf. Acts 8:26).

Today too, dear young people, there are many "desert roads" on which you will find yourselves walking in your lives as believers: it is on these very roads that you will be able to come abreast of those who are seeking life's meaning. Prepare yourselves also to be at the service of a culture that encourages the brotherly encounter of man with man and the discovery of salvation that comes to us from Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, Villa Nazareth has always been the object, from the very outset, of special predilection on the part of my venerable Predecessors: the Servant of God Pius XII, who saw it come into being; the Servant of God John Paul II, who came to visit you 10 years ago on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of its foundation. This benevolence of the Popes has nourished and continues to nourish your spiritual bond with the Holy See.

At the same time, this bond of esteem and affection engages you to walk faithfully in the footsteps of that great "man of God", Cardinal Domenico Tardini. With his words and example, he urges you to be especially sensitive, attentive and receptive to the teachings of the Church.

With these sentiments, as I invoke upon you the special protection of Our Lady "Mater Ecclesiae", I assure each one of you of my remembrance in prayer and bless you all with affection, starting with your numerous children.


Papal Address on Eucharistic Congresses
"To Draw a New Apostolic and Missionary Impetus"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Nov. 9 to participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses.

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Clementine Hall
Thursday, 9 November 2006

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

Your visit gives me great pleasure and I greet you all with affection. In the first place, I greet Cardinal Jozef Tomko, whom I thank for expressing your common sentiments and for telling me about your Plenary Assembly, which has been taking place in the past few days.

I cordially greet the Members of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses and the National Delegates who have taken part in this Meeting in order to prepare together for the upcoming 49th International Eucharistic Congress. It is scheduled to take place in Quebec in June 2008.

I next greet the representatives of the Local Preparatory Committee of this great ecclesial event, as well as the small but significant group of Adorers of the Eucharist.

You come from various parts of the world and the purpose of your Meeting is to prepare for this International Eucharistic Congress: a celebration of special importance to the whole of the Church. As Cardinal Jozef Tomko has just recalled, it constitutes a unanimous response of the People of God to the Lord's love, supremely manifested in the Mystery of the Eucharist.

It is true! The Eucharistic Congresses that take place from time to time in different places and on different continents are always a source of spiritual renewal, an opportunity to become better acquainted with the Blessed Eucharist, which is the most precious treasure Christ has bequeathed to us. They are also an encouragement to the Church to spread Christ's love in every social milieu and to witness to it unhesitatingly.

Moreover, ever since your praiseworthy Pontifical Committee was established, its proposed goal is "to make ever better known, loved and served Our Lord Jesus Christ in his Eucharistic Mystery, the centre of the Church's life and of her mission for the world's salvation".

Each one of these Eucharistic Congresses therefore represents a providential opportunity to solemnly show to humanity: "The Eucharist, a gift of God for the life of the world", as the basic text for the upcoming Congress says.

This Document was presented during your Meeting by Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec, to whom I address a special greeting. Not only those who have the opportunity to take part in person but also the various Christian communities who are invited to join it in spirit will be able to benefit from the special graces that the Lord will dispense at the International Eucharistic Congress.

In those days, the Catholic world will keep the eyes of its heart on the supreme mystery of the Eucharist in order to draw from it a new apostolic and missionary impetus. This is why it is important to prepare oneself well and I thank you, dear brothers and sisters, for the work you are carrying out to help the faithful on every continent to understand ever better the value and importance of the Eucharist in our lives.

Furthermore, the presence among you of several representatives of the Adorers of the Eucharist and the mention that you made, Cardinal Tomko, to the "Federación Mundial de la Adoración Nocturna", enables me to recall how helpful the rediscovery of Eucharistic Adoration is for many Christians.

In this regard, I am pleased to think back to my experience last year with the young people in Cologne on the occasion of World Youth Day, and in St Peter's Square with the children preparing for their First Communion accompanied by their families and catechists.

How great is humanity's need today to rediscover the source of its hope in the Sacrament of the Eucharist! I thank the Lord because many parishes, as well as celebrating Holy Mass devoutly, are educating the faithful in Eucharistic Adoration, and I hope also in view of the upcoming International Eucharistic Congress that this practice will continue to spread.

Dear brothers and sisters, as you well know, the next Post-Synodal Exhortation will be dedicated to the Eucharist. It will present the suggestions that were made at the last Synod of Bishops, dedicated precisely to the Eucharistic Mystery, and I am sure that this Document will also help the Church to prepare and to celebrate with interior participation the Eucharistic Congress that will be taking place in June 2008.

From this moment, I entrust it to the Virgin Mary, the first and incomparable adorer of Christ in the Eucharist. May Our Lady protect and accompany each one of you and your communities and make the work you are doing fruitful, with a view to the important ecclesial event in Quebec.

For my part, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and warmly bless you all.


Pope's Letter to Pan-Asian Meeting on Culture
"A Continent of Deep Spirituality and Mysticism"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's letter to Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the pontifical councils for Culture and for Interreligious Dialogue, for a pan-Asian meeting of members and consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture.

The meeting, with presidents of the national episcopal commissions for culture, is being held in Denpasar, Bali. It began Sunday and ends Thursday.

* * *

To my Venerable Brother Cardinal Paul Poupard
President of the Pontifical Council for Culture
and of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue

On the occasion of the Pan-Asian meeting of Members and Consultors of the Pontifical Council for Culture and Presidents of the National Episcopal Commissions for Culture, I am pleased to send greetings to you and to all the participants who have come together in Bali to reflect on the theme: "The Fullness of Jesus Christ Alive in Asian Cultures: 'And from his Fullness Have We All Received, Grace Upon Grace.'"

It was in Asia that God revealed and fulfilled his saving purpose from the beginning, and it was there too, in the fullness of time, that he sent his only-begotten Son to be our Savior (cf. "Ecclesia in Asia," 1). I pray, therefore, that this Continent, in which the great events of salvation history took place, may encounter anew the living Lord, the Word made flesh, in the context of its rich variety of cultures. Truly, Asia is a Continent of deep spirituality and mysticism, closely attuned to the mystery of God, and for this reason it constitutes fertile ground where the Word of God can be sown and bring forth a rich harvest.

I am convinced that there is a great need for the whole Church to rediscover the joy of evangelization, to become a community inspired with missionary zeal to make Jesus better known and loved. In the course of your deliberations, may the Holy Spirit lead you to discover new ways of proclaiming the fullness of the Gospel of Christ to the peoples of Asia, new ways of evangelizing those cultures and inculturating the Christian faith in that fertile ground. Naturally, such evangelization has to be accompanied by a commitment to sincere and authentic dialogue between cultures and between religions, marked by respect, reciprocity, openness and charity. When such conditions exist, the preacher can joyfully prepare a way for the Lord, who desires to make his home among all people of goodwill. And if the faith is to put down deep roots, the missionary also needs to take steps to inculturate the Gospel message so that it is expressed and lived in the language of local traditions and practices, provided always that any hint of relativism or syncretism is avoided. Keep this at the forefront of your minds in these days of prayerful reflection: evangelization and inculturation constitute an inseparable pair, both elements of which must be present if the Gospel of Christ is truly to become incarnate in the lives of people of every race, nation, tribe and language (cf. Towards a Pastoral Approach to Culture, 5).

In commending you and all those present at this gathering to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Incarnate Word, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in our living Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

From the Vatican, 15 November 2006


Papal Address on Anniversary of John Paul II Foundation
"A Wealth of Writings and Actions"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to representatives of people worldwide who devote themselves to keeping alive the memory of Pope John Paul II.

Benedict XVI delivered his address in the Hall of Blessings on Oct. 23.

* * *

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I warmly greet all of you who have come to Rome to celebrate solemnly the 25th anniversary of the John Paul II Foundation.

I thank Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, Metropolitan of Krakow, for the words he has just addressed to me. I welcome Cardinal Adam Maida and all the Archbishops and Bishops present here. I greet the Foundation's Council with its President, Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly, the directors of its individual institutions and the presidents and members of the Circles of Friends of the Foundation who have come from various countries of the world.

I am glad to be able to offer hospitality today to the representatives of those people throughout the world who devote themselves to keeping alive the memory of John Paul II and of his teaching and the apostolic work he carried out during his Pontificate. It must be said that this is a truly promising commitment for it is not only concerned with archiving or research but indeed touches on the mystery of the holiness of the Servant of God.

Thanks to your spiritual and financial support, the Foundation continues the activity described by its Statutes in the cultural and scientific as well as social and pastoral fields.

It collects documentation concerning John Paul II's Pontificate and examines and disseminates the teaching of the Pope and of the Church's Magisterium, networking and collaborating with Polish and international centers of science and art. This commitment by the Foundation has acquired new significance since the Pontiff's death.

The collection of the Papal Writings and the rich documentation of the Holy See's activity, as well as the Pope's literary works and comments presented in the social communications media, indisputably constitute a complete and well-organized archive and form the basis for a detailed and thorough study of the spiritual legacy of John Paul II.

Precisely because the study of the Pontificate is of the first importance, I wish to emphasize this aspect of the Foundation's work today: the study of the Pontificate. John Paul II, a philosopher and theologian and a great Pastor of the Church, has bequeathed to us a wealth of writings and actions that express his desire to spread Christ's Gospel throughout the world, using the methods indicated by the Second Vatican Council and marking out the paths of the Church's development in the new millennium. These precious gifts cannot be forgotten.

Today, dear members and friends of the John Paul II Foundation, I entrust to you the task of examining the richness of his message more deeply and revealing it to the generations to come.

Lastly, an especially important task is to offer help to young people, particularly those from Central and Eastern Europe, so that they can attain the necessary standard of instruction in the different branches of knowledge.

My thanks go to all those who in these past 25 years have supported the Foundation's activity in various ways and to those who have directed this activity with wisdom and dedication. I ask you to persevere in this good work. May it continue to develop and may your joint efforts, sustained by God's help, continue to produce magnificent fruit.

Thank you for coming and for this meeting. God bless you!


Papal Address at Congress of Military Ordinariates
"Giving Priority to the Soldier's Christian Formation"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 13, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered in the Vatican on Oct. 26 to the participants in the 5th International Congress of Military Ordinariates.

* * *

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

I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the Fifth International Congress of Military Ordinariates and I address my greeting to each one of you. In particular, I greet Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re and thank him for his cordial words.

Twenty years ago, precisely on 21 April 1986, beloved John Paul II promulgated the Apostolic Constitution "Spirituali Militum Curae" (L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 2 June 1986, pp. 3, 7), which updated the canonical regulation of spiritual assistance to the Armed Forces in the light of the Second Vatican Council, taking into account changes affecting the Armed Forces and their national and international roles. Actually, the world scenario has undergone further transformation in recent decades.

Thus, although the Papal Document continues to be fully relevant because the Church never changes her pastoral approach, it must be constantly adjusted to bring it more into line with present-day needs. This is what you have most appropriately desired to do at this Congress, organized by the Congregation for Bishops.

First of all, it is important to re-read the Introduction of the Apostolic Constitution: it spells out the reasons for the Magisterial Intervention and expresses the pastoral spirit that enlivens, inspires and guides all its legal provisions.

The Document highlights two fundamental values: the value of the person and the value of peace. The entire structural revision, which likens the Ordinariates to Dioceses, the Ordinary to the Bishop and the Chaplain to the Parish Priest, obeys the criterion of service to the military personnel who "have need of a concrete and specific form of pastoral care" (cf. Introduction, ibid.).

At the same time, however, it is affirmed that the people for whom the Ordinariate is intended do not cease to be the faithful of the particular Church where they live or to whose rite they belong (cf. IV). This entails a need for communion and coordination between the Military Ordinariate and the other particular Churches (cf. II, 4).

All these matters emphasize the prime aim of the care of the "Christifideles": to enable them to live their baptismal vocation and their membership in the Church to the full.

Thus, we have the same outlook as that adopted by the Servant of God John Paul II on the occasion of the Third Congress of Military Ordinaries in 1994 (cf. Address to Participants in the Third International Congress of Military Ordinariates, 11 March 1994; ORE, 23 March, p. 6).

Putting people first means giving priority to the soldier's Christian formation, guiding him and his relatives in the process of Christian initiation, in the development of his vocation and of his faith, and in witnessing.

At the same time, it means encouraging forms of brotherhood and community life, as well as liturgical and non-liturgical forms of prayer that are appropriate in the context and living conditions of military personnel.

The second aspect I would like to emphasize is the fundamental importance of the value of peace.

In this regard, the Introduction of "Spirituali Militum Curae" expressly cites "Gaudium et Spes," recalling that those doing military service must be considered as "ministers of the security and freedom of peoples", because, "if they carry out their duties properly, they also truly contribute to stabilizing peace" (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," n. 79).

If, therefore, the Council calls members of the armed forces "custodians of security", how much more so would be the Pastors to whom they are entrusted!

I therefore urge you all to ensure that military Chaplains are authentic experts and teachers of what the Church teaches and practices, with a view to building peace in the world.

Pope John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution is an important milestone in this teaching and its contribution in this context can be summed up in the words you have rightly chosen as the theme of this Congress: "'Ministerium pacis inter arma' -- Soldiers at the service of peace".

My Predecessor considered this "ministerium pacis inter arma" "a new proclamation of the Gospel in the military world, of which the Christian soldiers and their communities cannot fail to be the first heralds" (Address, Third International Congress of Military Ordinariates, 11 March 1994; ORE, 23 March, n. 5, p. 6).

The Church is missionary by nature and her principal task is evangelization, which aims to proclaim and to witness to Christ and to promote his Gospel of peace and love in every environment and culture.

The Church is also called in the military world to be "salt", "light" and "leaven", to use the images to which Jesus himself refers, so that mindsets and structures may be ever more fully oriented to building peace, in other words, to that "order planned and willed by the love of God" (Message for World Day of Peace, 1 January 2006, n. 3; ORE, 21 December 2005, p. 6), in which people and peoples can develop to the full and see their own fundamental rights recognized (cf. ibid., n. 4).

The Church's teaching on the subject of peace is an essential aspect of her social doctrine. Grafted onto very ancient roots, it continued to develop in the past century in a sort of "crescendo" which culminated in the Pastoral Constitution "Gaudium et Spes," in the Encyclicals of Bl. John XXIII and of the Servants of God Paul VI and John Paul II, as well as in their Addresses to the United Nations Organization and their Messages for each World Day of Peace.

This insistent appeal for peace has influenced Western culture, fostering the ideal that the Armed Forces are "an exclusive service for the security and freedom of peoples" (John Paul II, Address, Third International Convention of Military Ordinariates; ORE, 23 March 1994, n. 5, p. 6).

Unfortunately, other -- economic and political -- interests fomented by international tensions sometimes cause this constructive tendency to meet with obstacles and delays, as also transpires from the difficulties that hinder disarmament processes.

From within the military world, the Church will continue to offer her specific service to the formation of consciences, certain that God's Word, liberally scattered and courageously guided by the service of charity and truth, will bear fruit in its own good time.

Dear and venerable Brothers, to offer people adequate pastoral care and to carry out the evangelizing mission, Military Ordinariates need priests and deacons who are motivated and trained, as well as lay people who can collaborate actively and responsibly with Pastors.

I therefore join you in praying to the Lord of the Harvest that he will send workers out to this harvest in which you are already working with admirable zeal.

May the shining examples of numerous Military Chaplains who served God and their brethren with heroic dedication, such as Blessed Fr Secondo Pollo, encourage young people to dedicate their entire life to serving the Kingdom of God, the Kingdom of love, justice and peace.

May the Virgin Mary always watch over your ministry and may you be accompanied by my Blessing, which I warmly impart to all of you and to your respective Ecclesial Communities.


Papal Message to Charismatic-Communities Conference
"Each Christian Must Become Christ's Follower"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message sent in Benedict XVI's name by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Vatican secretary of state, to the 12th international conference organized by the Catholic Fraternity of Charismatic Covenant Communities and Fellowships.

The five-day conference, held in Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, ended today.

* * *

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI sends cordial greetings to the members of the numerous communities born of that "current of grace" which is the Catholic Charismatic Renewal, as they assemble in Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil, to reflect on the theme "New Communities for a New Evangelization." He is also pleased to greet the many bishops present who have met to reflect on the theme "Charism and Institution: Co-essential."

As His Holiness said to the members of ecclesial movements and new communities gathered in St. Peter's Square on the vigil of last Pentecost: "Anyone who has come across something true, beautiful and good in his life -- the one true treasure, the pearl of great price -- hastens to share it everywhere, in the family and at work, in the contexts of his life" (Homily at first Vespers of the solemnity of Pentecost, 3 June 2006). Was it not such a new, spontaneous and joy-filled witness which then became proclamation, a missionary impulse inspired by the Holy Spirit that led many lay faithful to undertake a more committed Christian life within their communities?

As a result, the Pope also said in St. Peter's Square, they can "collaborate even more, very much more, in the Pope's universal apostolic ministry, opening the doors to Christ. This is the best service that the Church can offer to men and women, and specially to the poor to help the life of each individual; a just social order and peaceful coexistence among nations find in Christ the cornerstone on which the genuine civilization, the civilization of love, can be built" (ibid).

To speak of the new evangelization also means to speak about those who will carry it out, namely, individual Christians, those who have themselves encountered Christ, for "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" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1).

In order to give life to the world, that true life which is in Jesus Christ, each Christian must become his follower, must make him Master and Lord of his life, must enter into profound communion with him and become familiar with his thoughts, as we find them in the sacred Scriptures. It was precisely to reflect together on how to be disciples of Jesus in our own time that the movements and ecclesial communities of Latin America gathered on 9-12 March last, in Bogota, Colombia.

That meeting pointed to several urgent priorities calling for broad cooperation: Christian formation, a powerful proclamation before the world, a consistent missionary style, a concern for the poor, the suffering and the outcast. A passionate commitment to facing these challenges will surely contribute to the renewal of the Church, particularly in Latin America. As we look forward to the fifth General Conference of the Latin American episcopate, due to meet in Aparecida in May 2007 on the theme "Disciples and Missionaries of Jesus Christ" so that in him the peoples may have life, the Holy Father expresses his hope that the present meeting, through the exchange of experiences, reflections and new proposals, will contribute effectively to the preparation of that significant ecclesial event.

Entrusting the work of the conference to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, particularly venerated in Brazil as Our Lady Aparecida, His Holiness sends to all present his special apostolic blessing.

With personal good wishes for the success of this initiative, I remain

Yours sincerely in Christ,

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State


Pope's Address to Christian World Communions
"Today's World Is in Need of a New Evangelization"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today when receiving in audience the participants of the meeting of the Christian World Communions.

* * *

Dear Friends,

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Rom 1:7). With these words, the Apostle Paul greeted the early Christian community of Rome, and with this same prayer I welcome you here today, in the city where Peter and Paul ministered and shed their blood for Christ.

For decades the Conference of Secretaries of Christian World Communions has provided a forum for fruitful contacts between the various ecclesial communities. This has enabled their representatives to build that reciprocal trust needed to engage seriously in bringing the richness of different Christian traditions to serve the common call to discipleship. I am glad to meet all of you here today, and to encourage you in your work. Every step toward Christian unity serves to proclaim the Gospel, and is made possible by the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ who prayed that his disciples might be one, "so that the world may believe" (Jn 17:21).

It is clear to us all that today's world is in need of a new evangelization, a fresh accounting on the part of Christians for the hope that is in them (cf. 1 Pet 3:15). Yet those who profess that Jesus Christ is Lord are tragically divided and cannot always give a consistent common witness. Herein lies an enormous responsibility for us all.

In this light, I am glad to see that the theme of your meeting -- Visions of Christian Unity -- focuses on a basic ecumenical issue. The theological dialogues in which many Christian World Communions have been engaged are characterized by a commitment to move beyond the things that divide, toward the unity in Christ which we seek. However daunting the journey, we must not lose sight of the final goal: full visible communion in Christ and in the Church. We may feel discouraged when progress is slow, but there is too much at stake to turn back. On the contrary, there are good reasons to forge ahead, as my predecessor Pope John Paul II pointed out in his Encyclical Letter "Ut Unum Sint" on the Catholic Church's ecumenical commitment, where he speaks of brotherhood rediscovered and greater solidarity in the service of humanity (41ff.).

The Conference of Secretaries of the Christian World Communions continues to grapple with important questions of its identity and its specific role in the ecumenical movement. Let us pray that such reflection will bring fresh insight regarding the perennial ecumenical question of "reception" (cf. ibid., 80f.) and that it will help to strengthen the common witness so necessary today.

The Apostle assures us that "the Spirit helps us in our weakness" (Rom 8:26). Though there are many obstacles still to be overcome, we firmly believe that the Holy Spirit is ever present and will guide us along the right path. Let us continue our journey with patience and determination as we offer all our efforts to God, "through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever" (Rom 16:27).


Benedict XVI on Film About John Paul I
"A Pontiff Who Was Strong in Faith"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Oct. 8 after previewing the film about Pope John Paul I entitled "Pope Luciani, God's Smile."

* * *

Palazzo San Carlo
Sunday, 8 October 2006

Mr President of RAI,

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

Together, we have just seen this beautiful film that chronicles the most important milestones in the life of my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul I.

I feel the need to express my deep gratitude first of all to you, Mr President, and then to the Board of Administration and the General Director of RAI, for giving this pleasant opportunity to me and my collaborators.

I greet those responsible for RAI Fiction and for the Società Leone Cinematografica who conceived and produced this interesting feature. I extend my special greetings and thanks to Georgio Capitani, the director, and to the various actors, with a special mention for Neri Marcoré who played the role of Albino Luciani.

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

In particular, we have been able to revisit the sweet and gentle figure of a Pontiff who was strong in faith, firm in principles but ever ready with a welcome and a smile.

Faithful to tradition and open to renewal, the Servant of God Albino Luciani, as Priest, Bishop and Pope, was unflagging in his pastoral activity, constantly encouraging clergy and lay people alike to pursue in the various fields of the apostolate the one common ideal of holiness.

A teacher of truth and a passionate catechist, he reminded all believers with his customary fascinating simplicity of the work and joy of evangelization, emphasizing the beauty of Christian love, the one force that can defeat violence and build a more fraternal humanity.

Lastly, I would like to recall his devotion to Our Lady. When he was Patriarch of Venice he wrote: "It is impossible to conceive of our life, the life of the Church, without the Rosary, the Marian feasts, Marian shrines and images of Our Lady".

It is beautiful to accept his invitation and, as he did, to find in humble entrustment to Mary the secret of daily serenity and effective work for peace in the world.

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


Vatican Message to Muslims at Ramadan's End
"Love for God Is Inseparable From Love for Others"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message published today by Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, on the occasion of the end of Ramadan.

The message is entitled: "Christians and Muslims: In Confident Dialogue Aimed at Solving Together the Challenges of Our World."

* * *

Dear Muslim friends,

1. I am happy to address this message to you for the first time as president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, and to extend the council's warmest greetings as you celebrate the conclusion of the fast of Ramadan.

I wish you peace, tranquility and joy in your hearts, your homes and your countries. These good wishes echo those which His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI expressed personally at the beginning of Ramadan to the diplomats accredited to the Holy See from countries with Muslim majorities, to those from other countries that are members and observers of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and to representatives of Muslim communities in Italy.

2. It is good to be able to share this significant moment with you in the context of our ongoing dialogue. The particular circumstances that we have recently experienced together demonstrate clearly that, however arduous the path of authentic dialogue may be at times, it is more necessary than ever.

3. The month of Ramadan which you have just completed has also undoubtedly been a time of prayer and reflection on the difficult situations of today's world. While contemplating and thanking God for all that is good, it is impossible not to take note of the serious problems which affect our times: injustice, poverty, tensions and conflicts between countries as well as within them.

Violence and terrorism are particularly painful scourges. So many human lives destroyed, so many women widowed, so many children who have lost a parent, so many children orphaned … So many wounded, physically and spiritually … So much, which has taken years of sacrifice and toil to build, destroyed in a few minutes!

4. As Christian and Muslim believers, are we not the first to be called to offer our specific contribution to resolve this serious situation and these complex problems? Without doubt, the credibility of religions and also the credibility of our religious leaders and all believers is at stake. If we do not play our part as believers, many will question the usefulness of religion and the integrity of all men and women who bow down before God.

Our two religions give great importance to love, compassion and solidarity. In this context, I wish to share with you the message of the first encyclical letter of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, "Deus Caritas Est" (God is Love), which echoes the most characteristic "definition" of God in Christian sacred Scriptures, "God is love" (1 John 4:8).

Genuine love for God is inseparable from love for others: "Anyone who says, 'I love God,' and hates his brother, is a liar, since a man who does not love the brother he can see cannot love God, whom he has not seen" (1 John 4:20). In recalling this point, the encyclical underlines the importance of fraternal charity in the Church's mission: Love, to be credible, must be effective.

It must come to the aid of everyone, beginning with the most needy. True love must be of service to all the needs of daily life; it must also seek just and peaceful solutions to the serious problems which afflict our world.

5. Believers who are engaged in helping people in need or seeking solutions to these problems, do so above all through their love for God, "for the face of God." Psalm 27 says: "I seek your face, O Lord, hide not your face from me" (8b-9a).

The month of fasting which you have just completed has not only brought you to give more attention to prayer, it has also rendered you more sensitive to the needs of others, above all to the hungry, fostering an even greater generosity toward those in distress.

6. Everyday worries together with the more serious problems faced by the world call for our attention and our action. Let us ask God in prayer to help us confront them with courage and determination. In those places where we can work together, let us not labor separately.

The world has need, and so do we, of Christians and Muslims who respect and value each other and bear witness to their mutual love and cooperation to the glory of God and the good of all humanity.

7. With sentiments of sincere friendship I greet you and entrust to you my thoughts for your consideration. I beseech Almighty God that they will contribute to the promotion everywhere of the relations of greater understanding and cooperation that have arisen between Christians and Muslims, and thus offer a significant contribution to the reestablishment and strengthening of peace both within nations and between peoples, in accordance with the profound desires of all believers and all men and women of good will.

Paul Cardinal Poupard

Archbishop Pier Luigi Celata


Papal Message for World Food Day
"Often, International Action to Combat Hunger Ignores the Human Factor"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 19, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI sent to Jacques Diouf, director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, on the occasion of World Food Day.

* * *

To Mr. Jacques Diouf
Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization
of the United Nations (FAO)

The annual celebration of World Food Day, sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), is an opportunity to review the numerous activities of this Organization, specifically with regard to its twofold aim: to provide adequate nutrition for our brothers and sisters throughout the world and to consider the obstacles to this work caused by difficult situations and attitudes contrary to solidarity.

This year's chosen theme -- "Investing in agriculture for food security" -- focuses our attention on the agricultural sector and invites us to reflect on the various factors that hinder the fight against hunger, many of them man-made. Not enough attention is given to the needs of agriculture, and this both upsets the natural order of creation and compromises respect for human dignity.

In Christian tradition, agricultural labor takes on a deeper meaning, both because of the effort and hardship that it involves and also because it offers a privileged experience of God's presence and his love for his creatures. Christ himself uses agricultural images to speak of the Kingdom, thereby showing a great respect for this form of labor.

Today, we think especially of those who have had to abandon their farmlands because of conflicts, natural disasters and because of society's neglect of the agricultural sector. The "promotion of justice through efforts to bring about openness of mind and will to the demands of the common good is something which concerns the Church deeply" (Encyclical Letter "Deus Caritas Est," 28).

It is now ten years since my venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II, inaugurated the World Food Summit. This gives us an opportunity to look back and take stock of the inadequate attention given to the agricultural sector and the effects this has on rural communities. Solidarity is the key to identifying and eliminating the causes of poverty and underdevelopment.

Very often, international action to combat hunger ignores the human factor, and priority is given instead to technical and socio-economic aspects. Local communities need to be involved in choices and decisions concerning land use, since farmland is being diverted increasingly to other purposes, often with damaging effects on the environment and the long-term viability of the land. If the human person is treated as the protagonist, it becomes clear that short-term economic gains must be placed within the context of better long-term planning for food security, with regard to both quantity and quality.

The order of creation demands that priority be given to those human activities that do not cause irreversible damage to nature, but which instead are woven into the social, cultural and religious fabric of the different communities. In this way, a sober balance is achieved between consumption and the sustainability of resources.

The rural family needs to regain its rightful place at the heart of the social order. The moral principles and values which govern it belong to the heritage of humanity, and must take priority over legislation. They are concerned with individual conduct, relations between husband and wife and between generations, and the sense of family solidarity. Investment in the agricultural sector has to allow the family to assume its proper place and function, avoiding the damaging consequences of hedonism and materialism that can place marriage and family life at risk.

Education and formation programs in rural areas need to be broadly based, adequately resourced and aimed at all age groups. Special attention should be given to the most vulnerable, especially women and the young. It is important to hand on to future generations not merely the technical aspects of production, nutrition and protection of natural resources, but the values of the rural world.

In faithfully carrying out its mandate, the FAO makes a vital investment in agriculture, not only through adequate technical and specialized support, but also by broadening the dialogue that takes place among the national and international agencies involved in rural development. Individual initiatives should be incorporated within larger strategies aimed at combating poverty and hunger. This can be of decisive importance if the nations and communities involved are to implement consistent programs and work towards a common goal.

Today more than ever, in the face of recurring crises and the pursuit of narrow self-interest, there has to be cooperation and solidarity between states, each of which should be attentive to the needs of its weakest citizens, who are the first to suffer from poverty. Without this solidarity, there is a risk of limiting or even impeding the work of international organizations that set out to fight hunger and malnutrition. In this way, they build up effectively the spirit of justice, harmony and peace among peoples: "opus iustitiae pax" (cf. Is 32:17).

With these thoughts, Director General, I wish to invoke the Lord's blessing upon FAO, its Member States, and upon all those who work so hard to support the agricultural sector and to promote rural development.

From the Vatican, 16 October 2006



Papal Message to Catholic TV Congress
"Respond in a Solicitous Manner to the Needs of Our Times"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's message for the International Congress for Catholic Television, being held in Madrid, Spain, Oct. 10-13.

The message was sent by Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, to Archbishop John Foley, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications.

* * *

Dear Archbishop Foley,

1. I am pleased to convey the cordial greetings of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI to all those participating in the International Congress for Catholic Television, organized by the Pontifical Council for Social Communications with the generous collaboration of the Archdiocese of Madrid, and being held in Los Negrales, Madrid, from Oct. 10-13.

The Holy Father extends his greetings to all those following this event via the Internet and other means of social communication. His Holiness wishes to encourage encounter, dialogue and cooperation between the many Church organizations that produce or broadcast television programs in various parts of the world. No matter how large or small these organizations may be, it is evident that they are making great efforts to accomplish their mission to communicate the Gospel and its values actively and efficiently utilizing the audiovisual techniques of our time.

2. Television reaches countless persons, cultures and nations, who are brought close to one another by the audiovisual medium. Through today's communications network, organizations have greater opportunities to promote their products quickly and efficiently. When all these opportunities are creatively utilized by the genius of humankind (cf. "Inter Mirifica," 1), they can serve as an occasion to defend the dignity of every person, to promote peace, solidarity, unity and communion within the human family. In this respect, the late Pope John Paul II indicated the way forward for the Church with his apostolic letter, "The Rapid Development" (Jan. 24, 2005), which has been chosen as the theme for the present congress.

This gathering is in itself a sign of the timeliness of the aforementioned apostolic letter, for it provides an excellent occasion for interpersonal dialogue and direct engagement between participants from around the world, who, united in the same ecclesial communion, seek to respond to those challenges that contemporary society presents to the disciples of Christ. The lively experience of communion in the Lord and with the bishops, pastors of the flock, is the foundation for all forms of cooperation and communal service, and these should gain greater impetus as a result of this congress.

3. The Church no longer questions whether to use the communications media, but rather, how to do so in order the better to accomplish and the more faithfully to fulfill Christ's missionary mandate, and so to respond in a solicitous manner to the needs of our times. The multiplicity of initiatives, in many cases evidence of the promptings of the Holy Spirit, today requires greater mutual collaboration in a true effort to enhance professional quality, so as to facilitate a more spirited dialogue between the Church and the world. In this respect, every organization brings its own particular contribution to the encounter of the Catholic voice and the world media.

It is necessary, therefore, that there be a great unity between the Holy See and the local hierarchies in order to inspire and support the various television companies, and those that will develop in the future, helping them to remain faithful to their Catholic identity while preserving their diverse styles, sensibilities and cultural characteristics. The fulfillment of this mission will facilitate a continual pastoral renewal and a change of mentality (cf. "The Rapid Development," 7), that will be rooted in a profound trust in the Lord, alive and present in his Church throughout all of history.

4. The pastoral work of the Church, which seeks before anything else direct engagement with individuals for their well-being, must be complemented and strengthened through a harmonious and widely diffused presence in the various means of social communication. These means offer and propose models of culture and ways of life, powerfully influencing the preferences and opinions of persons and groups as well as helping to shape decision making in diverse environments.

In this sense, the new forms of communication offer a highly favorable framework for more active participation of the public together with the media, promoting the inclusion of less fortunate sectors of the public and adapting themselves in a particular way to the experience of communion that is at the very heart of the Church. For this to be accomplished it is necessary, without fear of technology, with intrepid hope and faith, to promote a joyful, creative and professional presence in television. We must be coworkers of the truth so as to offer the good news of our Lord in the multiple formats of audiovisual media, while also witnessing to the beauty of creation.

Entrusting the success of the international congress to the powerful intercession of the Virgin Mary, Star of Evangelization, and of St. Clare, patroness of television, in the hope of obtaining abundant fruit for the life of the Church and of the world, the Holy Father cordially imparts the requested apostolic blessing to all the participants.

From the Vatican, Sept. 29, 2006
Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone
Secretary of State


Benedict XVI's Letter to Cardinal Szoka
"You Have Worked With Enthusiasm"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 8, 2006 (ZENIT.org).- Here is the letter that Benedict XVI sent to Cardinal Edmund Szoka, 79, as he stepped down from his responsibilities as president of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and president of the Governorate of Vatican City State.

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To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal Edmund Casimir Szoka
Archbishop emeritus of Detroit
President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State
and President of the Governorate of Vatican City State

In September 2002, when you were approaching your 75th birthday, my venerable Predecessor, the Servant of God John Paul II, asked you to continue in your office as President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State and President of the Governorate of the same Vatican City State.

When I was called by the will of the Lord to assume responsibility for guiding the entire People of God as Successor of the Apostle Peter, I deemed it appropriate not to deprive myself of your appreciated collaboration. For this reason I confirmed you in the same offices that you have carried out with generous dedication until now.

Today, 15 September, as I already informed you, Venerable Brother, last 24 June, you are succeeded in the same office by Archbishop Giovanni Lajolo, titular Archbishop of Cesariana, until now Secretary for Relations with States of the Secretariat of State.

At this most important moment for you, I wish to express my deep gratitude to you for the faithfulness and competence with which, Your Eminence, you have worked in the successive pastoral offices entrusted to you by my venerable Predecessors, in the United States of America and at the service of the universal Church.

In particular, I am pleased to recall the ministry you carried out with apostolic zeal as Bishop of Gaylord, Michigan, and subsequently, as Archbishop of Detroit.

In January 1990, our beloved Pontiff John Paul II summoned you to Rome to assume responsibility as President of the Prefecture of the Economic Affairs of the Holy See and later, in October 1997, as President of the Pontifical Commission for Vatican City State, with which the Presidency of the Governorate of the same Vatican City State was combined in February 2001.

In these different areas of pastoral ministry you have worked with enthusiasm, sparing neither energy nor time.

I am sure that you will be equally willing to continue in the future to work for the Church and for the Holy See. I am grateful to you for this and I assure you of my esteem and affection so that they may support you and instil joy and serenity in your heart.

I entrust you to the special protection of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and as I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer in the hope of abundant divine rewards and as a pledge of my fraternal closeness, I warmly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, which I gladly extend to all the personnel of the Governorate of Vatican City State and to your loved ones.

From Castel Gandolfo, 15 September 2006, the second year of my Pontificate


Papal Message to Volunteers of God
"Put the Love of God Back in People's Hearts"

BUDAPEST, Hungary, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's message sent Sept. 9 by Vatican secretary of state Cardinal Angelo Sodano to the Volunteerfest -- world meeting of the Volunteers of God -- held in Budapest, Hungary, from Sept. 14-16, and attended by some 11,000 people.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone replaced Cardinal Sodano as secretary of state on Friday.

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To his Eminence
Cardinal Péter Erdó
Archbishop of Esztergom-Budapest

Dear Cardinal,

The Holy Father was happy to hear that on Sept. 14-16, the Volunteerfest will be celebrated in Budapest, an event promoted by the Focolare movement to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Volunteers of God. This event, of high spiritual significance, is taking place 50 years after the dramatic events of October 1956 which bathed Hungary in blood, drawing the attention of the whole world.

The sad cry of the servant of God, Pope Pius XII, is still alive in people's memories, an appeal launched in a radio message in defense of peoples' rights, of justice and liberty. In response to Peter's Successor, a few months later Chiara Lubich wished to give life to the movement of the Volunteers of God, with the goal of helping Christians live their faith with courage so as to "put the love of God back in people's hearts."

Some five decades later, the Volunteers of God are now meeting in a special congress in this very city to reflect on the theme of "The Volunteers of God: 50 Years of Service to Humanity." This is a precious occasion to take stock of the journey already traveled, to highlight the impact that faith has on daily life in the family, in the work environment, and in the social sphere, and to underscore the constant commitment to witness to Christian faith in public life, through the spirituality of unity.

It is also the occasion to look toward the future with an ardent desire to respond with ever greater generosity to the mission that the Volunteers of God are called to carry out in our times.

To the organizers, sponsors and all of those participating, as well as all those who are spiritually uniting themselves to this meeting, His Holiness sends his cordial greeting together with his encouragement to continue the fruitful work that you have brought ahead up till now, incarnating the Gospel of love in the affairs of each day.

Benedict XVI also greets with affection all those that will join the "Volunteers of God" for the open meeting that has as its theme "Many Challenges, One Proposal: Universal Fraternity." In today's world, marked by dramatic tensions, the Focolare movement hopes to propose, also through this initiative, brotherhood as a possible way to pursue and reach peace among people and with nature, thus contributing to building up "a society that bears witness to one name alone: God."

Wishing you full success in your work, His Holiness assures the participants that he will especially remember them in his prayers and, while he invokes on each the maternal protection of Mary, mother of love, he sends you, your eminence, and to all those present, his apostolic blessing, as a sign of his affection. I willingly unite my own cordial greeting and welcome the occasion to share my deepest sentiments of respect and esteem.

Devotedly yours,

Cardinal Angelo Sodano
Secretary of state

From the Vatican, Sept. 9, 2006


Papal Letter on New Secretary of State
"Especially Capable of Combining Pastoral Care, Doctrinal Wisdom"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 18, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the full text of the letter Benedict XVI addressed to the faithful of Genoa on June 22, explaining why he chose their pastor, Cardinal Tracisio Bertone, of the Salesians of Don Bosco, as Vatican Secretary of State.

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Dear Faithful of Genoa,
Peace and an Apostolic Blessing!

I write to you on the occasion on which the appointment of your archbishop as the new Secretary of State has been made public.

In these past three years, during which he has led the Church in Genoa, you have learned to appreciate the gifts and qualities that make him a faithful pastor, especially capable of combining pastoral care and doctrinal wisdom.

It is precisely these characteristics, together with the mutual understanding and trust we developed in the years of our common service at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, that have induced me to choose him for this lofty and delicate task at the service of the universal Church at the Holy See.

I know that I have asked a great sacrifice of Cardinal Bertone; I know that the sacrifice of the faithful entrusted to his care in Genoa is no less, but I am certain that his affection and his prayers for your community will be brought ad Petri sedem.

The history of your diocese shows a generous fidelity to the Vicar of Christ, to which I appeal, also by virtue of the name I chose for my own Petrine ministry: the name of the last Genoese Pope, so devoted to Our Lady della Guardia. I entrust everyone to her at this moment of transition, delicate but full of grace, because always "in everything God works for good with those who love him" (Romans 8:28).

Precisely by virtue of your faithful and obedient generosity to the Holy See, I am preparing to provide as soon as possible for the appointment of the new successor to the See of St. Syrus.

I ask you to join me in praying to the Spirit so that he will help us in this discernment and, from this moment, I assure you of my remembrance and my apostolic blessing in prayer for all the facets of the Church in Genoa: for the pastors, the consecrated persons, the families, the young people and the sick.

From the Vatican,
June 22, 2006



Papal Message to Movements, Communities
"A Luminous Sign of the Beauty of Christ and His Bride"

VATICAN CITY, JULY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's message to the 2nd World Congress of Ecclesial Movements and New Communities, which was held in Rome from May 31 to June 2.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

While we look forward to the meeting with the members of more than 100 ecclesial movements and new communities, scheduled for Saturday, June 3 in St. Peter's Square, I am pleased to offer you, the representatives of all these ecclesial associations gathered at Rocca di Papa for your World Congress, a warm greeting with the Apostle's words: "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope" (Romans 15:13).

The memory of the previous World Congress of Ecclesial Movements, held in Rome from May 26-29, 1998, is still vivid in my mind and in my heart. In my capacity as the then-prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith I was asked to speak at it, with a lecture on the theological locus of ecclesial movements.

That Congress culminated in the memorable meeting with beloved Pope John Paul II on May 30, in St. Peter's Square, during which my predecessor expressed his approval of the ecclesial movements and new communities, which he described as "signs of hope" for the good of the Church and humanity.

Today, aware of the ground covered since then on the path marked out by the pastoral concern, affection and teachings of John Paul II, I would like to congratulate the Pontifical Council for the Laity in the persons of Archbishop Stanislaw Rylko, president, Bishop Josef Clemens, secretary, and their coworkers, for the important and worthwhile initiative of this World Congress.

Its theme: "The beauty of being Christian and the joy of communicating it," is inspired by something I said in the homily inaugurating my Petrine Ministry. This theme is an invitation to reflect on what the essential features of the Christian event are: in fact, we encounter in it the One who in flesh and blood visibly and historically brought to earth the splendor of God's glory.

The words of Psalm 45[44]:2 apply to him: "You are the fairest of the sons of men." And paradoxically, the prophet's words also refer to him: "He had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2).

In Christ the beauty of truth and the beauty of love converge; but love, as people know, also calls for the willingness to suffer, a willingness which for those who love one another can even extend to the sacrifice of life (cf. John 15:13)!

Christ, who is "the beauty of every beauty," as St. Bonaventure used to say (Sermones Dominicales, 1:7), is made present in the hearts of men and women and attracts them to their vocation which is love. It is thanks to this extraordinary magnetic force that reason is drawn from its torpor and opened to the Mystery. Thus, the supreme beauty of God's merciful love is revealed and at the same time, the beauty of the human being who, created in the image of God, is regenerated by grace and destined to eternal glory.

Through the ages, Christianity has been communicated and disseminated thanks to the newness of life of persons and communities capable of bearing an incisive witness of love, unity and joy.

This force itself has set a vast number of people in "motion," from generation to generation. Was it not perhaps the beauty born from faith on the saints' faces that spurred so many men and women to follow in their footsteps?

Basically, this also applies to you: through the founders and initiators of your movements and communities you have glimpsed the face of Christ shining with special brightness and set out on your way.

Christ still continues today to make resound in the hearts of so many that "come, follow me" which can decide their destiny. This normally happens through the witness of those who have had a personal experience of Christ's presence. On the faces and in the words of these "new creatures," his light becomes visible and his invitation audible.

I therefore say to you, dear friends of the movements: act so as to ensure that they are always schools of communion, groups journeying on in which one learns to live in the truth and love that Christ revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the apostles, in the heart of the great family of his disciples.

May Jesus' exhortation ceaselessly re-echo in your hearts: "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven" (Matthew 5:16). Bring Christ's light to all the social and cultural milieus in which you live. Missionary zeal is proof of a radical experience of ever renewed fidelity to one's charism that surpasses any kind of weary or selfish withdrawal.

Dispel the darkness of a world overwhelmed by the contradictory messages of ideologies! There is no valid beauty if there is not a truth to recognize and follow, if love gives way to transitory sentiment, if happiness becomes an elusive mirage or if freedom degenerates into instinct.

How much evil the mania for power, possession and pleasure can spawn in the lives of people and nations! Take the witness of the freedom with which Christ set us free (cf. Galatians 5:1) to this troubled world.

The extraordinary fusion between love of God and love of neighbor makes life beautiful and causes the desert in which we often find ourselves living to blossom anew. Where love is expressed as a passion for the life and destiny of others, where love shines forth in affection and in work and becomes a force for the construction of a more just social order, there the civilization is built that can withstand the advance of barbarity.

Become builders of a better world according to the ordo amoris in which the beauty of human life is expressed.

Today, the ecclesial movements and new communities are a luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and of the Church, his Bride. You belong to the living structure of the Church. She thanks you for your missionary commitment, for the formative action on behalf of Christian families that you are increasingly developing and for the promotion of vocations to the ministerial priesthood and consecrated life which you nurture among your members.

She is also grateful to you for your readiness not only to accept the active directives of the Successor of Peter, but also of the bishops of the various local Churches who, with the Pope, are custodians of truth and charity in unity. I trust in your prompt obedience.

Over and above the affirmation of the right to life itself, the edification of the Body of Christ among others must always prevail with indisputable priority.

Movements must approach each problem with sentiments of deep communion, in a spirit of loyalty to their legitimate pastors.

May you be sustained by participating in the prayer of the Church, whose liturgy is the most exalted _expression of the beauty of God's glory, and in a certain way a glimpse of heaven upon the earth.

I entrust you to the intercession of the one whom we invoke as the Tota pulchra, the "All Fair," an ideal of beauty that artists have always sought to reproduce in their works, the "woman clothed with the sun" (Revelation 12:1) in whom human beauty encounters the beauty of God.

With these sentiments, I extend a special apostolic blessing to you all as a pledge of my constant affection.

From the Vatican, May 22, 2006



Papal Address to Patrons of Vatican Museums
"Artistic Treasures Witness to the Church's Unchanging Faith"

VATICAN CITY, JUNE 1, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is Benedict XVI's greeting to Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums, whom he received in audience today.

* * *

Your Eminences,
Your Excellencies,
Dear Friends,

I am pleased to greet the Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums on the occasion of your pilgrimage to Rome for the 500th anniversary of the founding of the Vatican Museums. At the same time, I thank you for your continuing interest, which is motivated not only by a sense of stewardship for the incomparable cultural patrimony of the Vatican Museums, but also by a generous commitment to the Church's evangelizing mission.

In every age Christians have sought to give expression to faith's vision of the beauty and order of God's creation, the nobility of our vocation as men and women made in his image and likeness, and the promise of a cosmos redeemed and transfigured by the grace of Christ. The artistic treasures which surround us are not simply impressive monuments of a distant past. Rather, for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who contemplate them year after year, they stand as a perennial witness to the Church's unchanging faith in the Triune God who, in the memorable phrase of St. Augustine, is himself "Beauty ever ancient, ever new" ("Confessions," X, 27).

Dear friends, may your support of the Vatican Museums bear abundant spiritual fruits in your own lives and advance the Church's mission of bringing all people to the knowledge and love of Jesus Christ, "the image of the invisible God" (Colossians 1:15), in whose Eternal Spirit all creation is reconciled, restored and renewed. To you, your families and associates, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing as a pledge of enduring joy and peace in the Lord.

[Original text in English]


Papal Address to Members of Biblical Commission
"Freedom Attains Its Perfection When Directed Toward God"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the address Benedict XVI gave to members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission on April 27 in the Hall of Popes.

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Your Eminence,
Dear Members of the Pontifical Biblical Commission,

It gives me great joy to meet you at the end of your annual plenary meeting. I remember each one of you with affection since I became personally acquainted with you during my years as president of this commission. I would like to share with you my gratitude and appreciation of the important work you are doing at the service of the Church and for the good of souls, in harmony with the Successor of Peter.

I thank Cardinal William Joseph Levada for his greeting and for his summary of the topic that has been the object of your attentive reflection during the meeting.

You have gathered once again to examine a very important subject: the relationship between the Bible and morals. This topic not only concerns the believer but every person as such. And it concerns us, particularly at a time of cultural and moral crisis. Indeed, man's first impulse is his desire for happiness and for fulfillment in life. Today, however, many people think that this should be achieved absolutely autonomously, without any reference to God or to his law.

Some have reached the point of theorizing on the absolute sovereignty of reason and freedom in the context of moral norms: They presume that these norms constitute the context of a purely "human" ethic, in other words, the _expression of a law that man makes for himself by himself. The advocates of this "secular morality" say that man as a rational being not only can but must decide freely on the value of his behavior.

This erroneous conviction is based on the presumed conflict between human freedom and every form of law. In fact, the Creator, because we are creatures, has inscribed his "natural law," a reflection of his creative idea, in our hearts, in our very being, as a compass and inner guide for our life.

For this very reason, sacred Scripture, Tradition and the magisterium of the Church tell us that the vocation and complete fulfillment of the human being are not attained by rejecting God's law, but by abiding by the new law that consists in the grace of the Holy Spirit. Together with the Word of God and the teaching of the Church, it is expressed in "faith working through love" (Galatians 5:6).

And it is precisely in this acceptance of the love that comes from God ("Deus caritas est"), that the freedom of man finds its loftiest realization. There is no contradiction between God's law and human freedom: God's law correctly interpreted neither attenuates nor, even less, eliminates man's freedom. On the contrary, it guarantees and fosters this freedom because, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church reminds us, "freedom ... attains its perfection when directed toward God, our beatitude" (No. 1731).

The moral law established by God in creation and confirmed in the Old Testament revelation reaches fulfillment and greatness in Christ. Jesus Christ is the way of perfection, the living and personal synthesis of perfect freedom in total obedience to God's will. The original function of the Decalogue is not abolished by the encounter with Christ but is led to this fullness.

An ethic that in listening to revelation also seeks to be authentically rational, finds its perfection in the encounter with Christ, who gives us the new Covenant.

A model of this authentic moral action is the behavior of the Incarnate Word himself. He makes his will coincide with the will of God the Father in the acceptance and carrying out of his mission: His food is to do the Father's will (cf. John 4:34). He always does the things that are pleasing to the Father, putting his words into practice (cf. John 8:29-55); he says the things that the Father asked him to say and to proclaim (cf. John 12:49).

In revealing the Father and his way of acting, Jesus at the same time reveals the norms of upright human action. He affirms this connection in an explicit and exemplary way when, in concluding his teaching on loving one's enemies (cf. Matthew 5:43-47), he says: "You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect" (Matthew 5:48).

This divine, divine-human, perfection becomes possible for us if we are closely united with Christ, our Savior.

The path marked out by Jesus with his teaching is not an externally imposed regulation. Jesus himself took this path and asks no more of us than to follow him. Moreover, he does not limit himself to asking: First of all, through baptism, he allows us to participate in his own life, thereby enabling us to understand his teaching and put it into practice.

This appears with increasing evidence in the New Testament writings. His relationship with the disciples was vital, not an external teaching. He called them "little children" (John 13:33; 21:5), "friends" (John 15:14-15), "brothers," "brethren" (Matthew 12:50; 28:10; John 20:17), and invited them to enter into communion of life with him and to accept in faith and joy his "easy" yoke and his "light" burden (cf. Matthew 11:28-30).

In the quest for a Christologically inspired ethic, it is therefore necessary always to bear in mind that Christ is the Incarnate Logos who enables us to share in his divine life and sustains us with his grace on the journey toward our true fulfillment.

What man really is, appears definitively in the Logos made man; faith in Christ gives us the fulfillment of anthropology. Consequently, the relationship with Christ defines the loftiest realization of man's moral action. This human action is directly based on obedience to God's law, on union with Christ and on the indwelling of the Spirit in the believer's soul. It is not an action dictated by merely exterior norms, but stems from the vital relationship that connects believers to Christ and to God.

While I hope that the continuation of your reflection will be fruitful, I invoke upon you and your work the light of the Holy Spirit, and as confirmation of my trust and affection I impart the apostolic blessing to you all.


Letter to Session of Congregation for Sainthood Causes
"The Last Word Is Given to Theology"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 16, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the letter Benedict XVI recently sent to the participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for Sainthood Causes.

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To my Venerable Brother
Cardinal José Saraiva Martins
Prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints

On the occasion of the plenary assembly of this Congregation for the Causes of Saints, I would like to address my cordial greetings to you, Your Eminence, which I gladly extend to the cardinals, archbishops and bishops who are taking part in the meeting. I likewise greet the secretary, the undersecretary, the consultors and medical experts, the postulators and all the members of this dicastery.

Together with my greeting, I also express my sentiments of appreciation and gratitude for this congregation's service to the Church in promoting the causes of saints, who "are the true bearers of light within history, for they are men and women of faith, hope and love," as I wrote in the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" (No. 40).

This is why from the outset the Church has held their commemoration and worship in great honor, dedicating down the centuries ever more vigilant attention to the procedures that lead the servants of God to the honors of the altar.

In fact, the causes of saints are "major causes," both because of the nobility of the subject treated and their effect on the life of the People of God. In light of this reality, my Predecessors often intervened with special legislative measures to improve the examination and celebration of their causes. In 1588, Sixtus V willed the Sacred Congregation for Rites to be established for this purpose.

Then how can we forget the provident legislation of Urban VIII, the promulgation of the 1917 Code of Canon Law, the norms of Pius XI for ancient causes, the "motu proprio" "Sanctitas Clarior" and Paul VI's apostolic constitution "Sacra Rituum Congregatio"?

My Predecessor Benedict XIV, rightly considered "the master" of the causes of saints, deserves a grateful mention. More recently, in 1983, beloved John Paul II promulgated the apostolic constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister," followed in the same year by the publication of the "Normae Servandae in Inquisitionibus ab Episcopis Faciendis in Causis Sanctorum" [Norms to be Observed in Inquiries made by Bishops in the Causes of Saints].

More than 20 years' experience has prompted this congregation to draft an appropriate "Instruction for the Process of the Diocesan Inquiry in the Causes of Saints."

This document is addressed primarily to diocesan bishops and its preparation constitutes the first item on the agenda of your plenary meeting. Its intention is to facilitate the faithful application of the "Normae Servandae" cited, in order to ensure the seriousness of the investigations carried out in diocesan inquiries into the virtue of servants of God and in cases claiming martyrdom or possible miracles.

The evidence for the causes is collected and studied with supreme care and with a diligent search for the historic truth through testimonies and documentary proof "omnino plenae," for they have no other aim than the glory of God and the spiritual good of the Church and of all who are in search of the Gospel truth and perfection.

The diocesan pastors, deciding "coram Deo" on which causes deserve to be initiated, will first of all evaluate whether the candidates to the honors of the altar truly enjoy a firm and widespread fame of holiness and miracles or martyrdom. This fame, which the Code of Canon Law of 1917 stipulates should be "spontanea, non arte aut diligentia procurata, orta ab honestis et gravibus personis, continua, in dies aucta et vigens in praesenti apud maiorem partem populi" (Canon 2050 §2), is a sign of God who points out to the Church those who deserve to be set on the lamp stand to "give light to all in the house" (cf. Matthew 5:15).

It is clear that it will not be possible to introduce a cause of beatification or canonization if proven holiness does not exist, even if the person concerned was distinguished for conformity with the Gospel and special ecclesial and social merits.

The second theme that your plenary assembly is treating is "the miracle in the causes of saints." It is well known that since ancient times, the process for arriving at canonization passes through the proof of virtues and miracles, attributed to the intercession of the candidate to the honors of the altar.

As well as reassuring us that the servant of God lives in heaven in communion with God, miracles constitute the divine confirmation of the judgment expressed by the ecclesiastical authority on his/her virtuous life. I hope that the plenary meeting will be able to examine this subject in greater depth in the light of the Tradition of the Church, of present-day theology and of the most reliable scientific discoveries.

It should not be forgotten that in the examination of events claimed to be miraculous the competence of scholars and theologians converges, although the last word is given to theology, the only discipline that can give a miracle an interpretation of faith.

This is why the process of saints' causes moves from the scientific evaluation of the medical council or technical experts to a theological examination by the consultors and later by the cardinals and bishops. Moreover, it should be clearly borne in mind that the uninterrupted practice of the Church establishes the need for a physical miracle, since a moral miracle does not suffice.

Martyrdom, a gift of the Spirit

The third subject reflected upon at the plenary meeting concerns martyrdom, a gift of the Spirit and an attribute of the Church in every epoch (cf. "Lumen Gentium," No. 42). The Venerable Pontiff John Paul II, in his apostolic letter "Tertio Millennio Adveniente," noted that since the Church has once again become the Church of martyrs, "as far as possible, their witness should not be lost" (No. 37).

The martyrs of the past and those of our time gave and give life ("effusio sanguinis") freely and consciously in a supreme act of love, witnessing to their faithfulness to Christ, to the Gospel and to the Church. If the motive that impels them to martyrdom remains unchanged, since Christ is their source and their model, then what has changed are the cultural contexts of martyrdom and the strategies "ex parte persecutoris" that more and more seldom explicitly show their aversion to the Christian faith or to a form of conduct connected with the Christian virtues, but simulate different reasons, for example, of a political or social nature.

It is of course necessary to find irrefutable proof of readiness for martyrdom, such as the outpouring of blood and of its acceptance by the victim. It is likewise necessary, directly or indirectly but always in a morally certain way, to ascertain the "odium Fidei" [hatred of the faith] of the persecutor. If this element is lacking there would be no true martyrdom according to the perennial theological and juridical doctrine of the Church. The concept of "martyrdom" as applied to the saints and blessed martyrs should be understood, in conformity with Benedict XIV's teaching, as "voluntaria mortis perpessio sive tolerantia propter Fidem Christi, vel alium virtutis actum in Deum relatum" ("De Servorum Dei Beatificatione et Beatorum Canonizatione," Prato 1839-1841, Book III, chapter 11, 1). This is the constant teaching of the Church.

The subjects being examined at your plenary meeting are of indisputable interest and the reflections, with the possible suggestions that may arise, will make a valuable contribution to the achievement of the objectives indicated by John Paul II in the apostolic constitution "Divinus Perfectionis Magister," in which he says: "Most recent experience, finally, has shown us the appropriateness of revising further the manner of instructing causes and of so structuring the Congregation for the Causes of Saints that We might meet the needs of experts and the desires of Our Brother Bishops, who have often called for a simpler process while maintaining the soundness of the investigation in matters of such great import.

"In light of the doctrine of the Second Vatican Council on collegiality, We also think that the Bishops themselves should be more closely associated with the Holy See in dealing with the Causes of Saints."

To be consistent with these instructions, elected to the Chair of Peter, I was glad to act on the widespread desire that greater emphasis be placed in their celebration on the essential difference between beatification and canonization, and that the particular Churches be more visibly involved in Rites of Beatification on the understanding that the Roman Pontiff alone is competent to declare a devotion to a servant of God.

Your Eminence, I thank you for this congregation's service to the Church and, while I wish those who are taking part in the work of the plenary meeting every success through the intercession of all the saints and of the Queen of the saints, I invoke upon each one the light of the Holy Spirit. For my part, I assure you of my remembrance in prayer as I cordially bless you all.

From the Vatican, April 24, 2006



Benedict XVI's Address to John Paul II Institute
"Authentic Love Is Transformed Into a Light"

VATICAN CITY, MAY 11, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered today when receiving participants in the congress promoted by the John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family.

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Lord Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters:

With great joy I meet with you on this 25th anniversary of the foundation of the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family, in the Pontifical Lateran University. I greet you all with affection and I offer my heartfelt thanks to Monsignor Livio Melina for the kind words he addressed to me in your name.

The beginnings of your institute are related to a very special event: precisely on May 13, 1981, in St. Peter's Square, my beloved predecessor, John Paul II, suffered the well-known grave attempt on his life during the audience in which he should have announced the creation of your institute. This event is of special importance in the present commemoration, which we celebrate shortly after the anniversary of his death. You wished to highlight it through the appropriate initiative of a congress dedicated to the theme "The Legacy of John Paul II on Marriage and the Family: to Love Human Love."

With reason you feel this legacy in a totally special manner, as you are the recipients and continuators of the vision that was one of the pivots of his mission and reflections: God's plan for marriage and the family. It is a legacy that is not simply an ensemble of doctrines and ideas, but is, above all, a teaching gifted with a luminous unity on the meaning of the human love of life. The presence of numerous families in this audience is a particularly eloquent testimony of how the teaching of this truth is accepted and has borne fruits.

The idea to "teach to love" was already with the young priest Karol Wojtyla and subsequently energized him, as a young bishop, when he faced the difficult moments that followed the publication of the prophetic and always timely encyclical of my predecessor Paul VI, "Humanae Vitae." It was in that circumstance that he understood the need to undertake a systematic study of this topic.

This constituted the substratum of that teaching that he later offered to the whole Church in his "Catechesis on Human Love." He underlined in this way the two fundamental elements that you have tried to reflect on more profoundly in these years and that configure the very novelty of your institute as an academic reality with a specific mission within the Church.

The first element is that marriage and the family are rooted in the innermost core of the truth about man and his destiny. Sacred Scripture reveals that the vocation to love is part of that authentic image of God that the Creator willed to imprint in his creature, calling man to become similar to him precisely in the measure in which man is open to love. The sexual difference entailed in the body of man and woman is not, therefore, a simple biological fact, but bears a much more profound meaning: It expresses that way of love with which man and woman become only one flesh; they can realize an authentic communion of persons open to the transmission of life and cooperate in this way with God in the procreation of new human beings.

A second element characterizes the novelty of John Paul II's teaching on human love: his original way of reading God's plan in the convergence between revelation and human experience. In Christ, in fact, fullness of the revelation of the Father's love, is also manifested the full truth of man's vocation to love, which can only be found fully in the sincere giving of oneself.

In my recent encyclical I wished to underline how, precisely, through love "the Christian image of God and the resulting image of mankind and its destiny" is expressed ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1). That is, he made use of the way of love to reveal the mystery of his Trinitarian life.

In addition, the profound relationship that exists between the image of God-Love and human love enables us to understand that "monogamous marriage corresponds to the image of the monotheist God. Marriage based on an exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship of God with his People and vice versa, God's way of loving becomes the measure of human love" (ibid., No. 11). This indication still remains to a large extent to be explored.

In this way the task is outlined that the Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family has in the whole of its academic structures: to illuminate the truth of life as a way of plenitude for all forms of human existence. The great challenge of the New Evangelization, which John Paul II proposed with so much drive, needs to be supported with a profound authentic reflection on human love, as this love is a privileged way that God has chosen to reveal himself to the world and in this love he calls it to communion in the Trinitarian life.

This approach also enables us to overcome a conception enclosed in merely private love, which is so widespread today. Authentic love is transformed into a light that guides the whole of life toward plenitude, generating a humanized society for man. The communion of life and love, which is marriage, becomes in this way an authentic good for society. To avoid the confusion with other types of unions based on weak love is something especially urgent today. Only the rock of total and irrevocable love between man and woman is capable of being the foundation of a society that becomes a home for all people.

The importance that the work of the institute entails in the mission of the Church explains its own configuration: In fact, John Paul II had approved only one institute with different premises spread over the five continents, with the objective of being able to offer a reflection that shows the wealth of the only truth in the plurality of cultures.

This unity of vision in research and teaching, despite the diversity of places and sensitivities, represents a value that you must guard, developing the riches rooted in every culture. This characteristic of the institute has demonstrated itself to be particularly appropriate for the study of a reality such as marriage and the family. Your work can show how the gift of creation lived in the different cultures has been elevated to grace of redemption by Christ.

To be able to carry out your mission well as faithful heirs of the institute's founder, our beloved John Paul II, I invite you to contemplate Mary Most Holy, as the Mother of Beautiful Love. The redeeming love of the incarnate Word must become for each marriage and each family "fountains of living water in the midst of a thirsting world" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 42). To all of you, dear professors, students of yesterday and today, to all the staff, as well as the families of your Institute, I express my best wishes, accompanied by a special blessing.


Benedict XVI's Address to Papal Foundation
"I Encourage You to Continue in Your Generous Commitment"  (May 5, 2006)

VATICAN CITY, MAY 5, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to members of the Papal Foundation, whom he received in audience.

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Dear Friends in Christ,

In this joyful season as we offer thanks and praise to God for Christ's victory over sin and death, I am pleased to greet you, the members of the Papal Foundation, on your annual pilgrimage to Rome. "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:2).

Our Easter faith gives us hope that the risen Lord will truly transform the world. In his resurrection we recognize the fulfilment of God's promise to the exiled people of Israel: "I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O my people; and I will bring you home into the land of Israel" (Ezekiel 37:12). Truly, the risen Christ gives renewed hope and strength to many in our world today who suffer injustice or deprivation and who long to be able to live with the freedom and dignity of the children of God.

Christ promised to send the Holy Spirit to enkindle the hearts of believers, moving them to love their brothers and sisters as Christ loved them, and to witness through their charitable activity to the Father's love for all humanity (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," 19).

The fruit of that gift of the Spirit can be clearly seen in the assistance that the Papal Foundation gives in Christ's name to developing countries, in the form of aid projects, grants and scholarships. I am most grateful for your support and for the help you give me in carrying out my mission to care for Christ's flock in every corner of the world.

I assure you that your love of the Church and your dedication to the practice of Christian charity is deeply appreciated. As we prepare to celebrate the great outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost, I encourage you to continue in your generous commitment, so that the flame of divine love may continue burning brightly in the hearts of believers everywhere. Commending you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, mother of the Church, I cordially impart my apostolic blessing.


Papal Address to Education-Seminar Participants
"Human Being Must Not Be Sacrificed to Success of Science"  (April 1, 2006)

VATICAN CITY, MAY 2, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address to participants of a seminar on "The Cultural Heritage and Academic Values of the European University and the Attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area."

The Pope gave the address in Paul VI Hall on April 1. The seminar had been organized by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

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Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to welcome you and cordially greet all of you who are taking part in the seminar on the theme: "The Cultural Heritage and Academic Values of the European University and the Attractiveness of the European Higher Education Area." You come from about 50 European countries that adhere to the so-called Bologna Process, to which the Holy See has also made its own contribution.

I greet Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, who has addressed courteous and respectful words to me on your behalf, at the same time explaining the objectives of your meeting, and I thank him for organizing this meeting in the Vatican in collaboration with the Conference of Rectors of the Pontifical Universities, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, UNESCO-CEPES and the Council of Europe, with the sponsorship of the European Commission.

I address a special greeting to the ministers and representatives of the various international bodies who have wished to attend.

In these days, your reflection has focused on the contribution that European universities, enriched by their long tradition, can offer to building the Europe of the third millennium, taking into account the fact that every cultural reality is both a memory of the past and a project for the future.

The Church intends to make her own contribution to this reflection as she has done over the centuries. She has taken a constant interest in the study centers and universities of Europe which, together with "the service of thought," have passed on to the young generations the values of a special cultural patrimony, enriched by two millenniums of humanist and Christian experience (cf. "Ecclesia in Europa," No. 59).

At first, monasticism exercised considerable influence. Its merits, both in the spiritual and religious context, also extend to the economic and intellectual spheres. In Charlemagne's time, real schools were founded with the Church's contribution, and the emperor wanted as many people as possible to benefit from them.

A few centuries later, the university came into being, receiving an essential impetus from the Church. Numerous European universities, from the University of Bologna to those of Paris, Krakow, Salamanca, Cologne, Oxford and Prague, to mention but a few, rapidly developed and played an important role in consolidating the European identity and building up its cultural heritage.

University institutions have always been distinguished by love of wisdom and the quest for truth, as the true purpose of universities, with constant reference to the Christian vision that recognizes the human being as the masterpiece of creation, since he is formed in the image and likeness of God (cf. Genesis 1:26-27).

The conviction that there is a profound unity between truth and good, between the eyes of the mind and those of the heart: "Ubi amor, ibi oculos," as Riccardo di San Vittore said (cf. "Beniamin minor," c. 13), has always been typical of this vision: Love makes one see. Universities came into being from the love of knowledge and from the curiosity of knowing, of knowing what the world is, what man is, but also from a knowledge that leads to action, that leads ultimately to love.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, with a quick glance at the "old" Continent it is easy to see the cultural challenges that Europe faces today, since it is committed to rediscovering its own identity, which is not exclusively economic or political. The basic question today, as in the past, remains the anthropological question: What is man? Where does he come from? Where must he go? How must he go?

In other words, it is a matter of clarifying the conception of the human being on which new projects are based.

And you are rightly asking yourselves which human being, which image of man, does the university intend to serve: an individual withdrawn into the defense of his own interests, a single perspective of interests, a materialistic perspective, or a person who is open to solidarity with others in the search for the true meaning of existence, which must be a common meaning that transcends the individual?

We also wonder what the relationship between the human person, science and technology is. If in the 19th and 20th centuries, technology made amazing progress, at the beginning of the 21st century, further steps were taken: Technology also took charge, thanks to computer science, of part of our mental processes, with consequences that involve our way of thinking and can condition our very freedom.

It must be forcefully stated that the human being cannot and must not ever be sacrificed to the success of science and technology: This is why the so-called anthropological question assumes its full importance.

For us, the heirs of the humanist tradition founded on Christian values, this question should be faced in the light of the inspiring principles of our civilization, which found in European universities authentic laboratories for research and for deepening knowledge.

"From the biblical conception of man Europe drew the best of its humanistic culture," John Paul II noted in his postsynodal exhortation "Ecclesia in Europa," "and, not least, advanced the dignity of the person as a subject of inalienable rights" (No. 25). Thus, "the Church," my venerable Predecessor added, "helped to spread and consolidate those values which have made European culture universal" (ibid.).

But man cannot understand himself fully if he ignores God. This is the reason why, at the time when the Europe of the third millennium is being built, the religious dimension of human existence cannot be neglected.

Here the special role of the university emerges as a scientific universe that is not merely limited to various specializations: In the current situation the university is required not to stop at teaching or imparting technical and professional knowledge, which are very important disciplines but do not suffice, for it must also undertake to play an attentive educational role at the service of the new generations, making use of the legacy of ideals and values that marked the past millenniums.

Thus, universities will be able to help Europe to preserve and rediscover its "soul," revitalizing the Christian roots that brought it into being.

Distinguished ladies and gentlemen, may God make your work and your efforts benefit the many young people who are the hope of Europe. I accompany this wish with the assurance of a special prayer for each one of you, and I implore the divine blessing for you all.


Pope's Letter to Cardinal Husar (February 22, 2006)
"In Those Sad Days of March 1946"

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Vatican translation of the Feb. 22 letter Benedict XVI sent to Ukrainian Cardinal Lubomyr Husar, commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Communist persecution against the Greek-Catholic Church.

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To Cardinal Lubomyr Husar
Major Archbishop of Kyiv-Halyc

"If anyone thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water'" (John 7:37-38).

These words of the Lord re-echo in my heart as I think of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, which is preparing to commemorate the sad events that took place in the Cathedral of St. George in Lviv at the beginning of March, 60 years ago.

Notwithstanding the persecution, oppression and deprivation of their own pastors experienced by Ukraine's believers in Christ, brought about by an ideological and inhuman state policy, they remained faithful to the spiritual heritage of Olga and Vladimir when the baptism that they accepted was made manifest, as the beloved John Paul II wrote in the apostolic letter "Euntes in Mundum," as a "decisive element for the civil and human progress which is so important for the existence and development of every Nation and State" (No. 5, 25 January 1988).

Unfortunately, in those sad days of March 1946, a group of clerics gathered in a pseudo-synod who unduly claimed to represent the Church seriously wounded ecclesial unity. Violence was intensified against those who remained faithful to unity with the Bishop of Rome, giving rise to further sufferings and forcing the Church to return underground.

But, although beset by unspeakable trials and sufferings, Divine Providence did not permit the disappearance of a community which for centuries was considered a legitimate and living part of the identity of the Ukrainian People. In this way, the Greek-Catholic Church continued to give its own witness to the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of Christ.

The memory of what took place 60 years ago must become an incentive for the community entrusted to the pastoral care of the reorganized Greek-Catholic hierarchy in Ukraine to deepen its profound and earnest bond with the Successor of Peter. From that Church, purified by persecutions, streams of living water flow not only for Ukrainian Catholics but for the entire Catholic Church throughout the world.

In the patient journey of faith lived day after day in communion with the Successors of the Apostles, whose visible unity is guaranteed by the Successor of Peter, the Ukrainian Catholic Community was able to keep sacred Tradition integrally alive. To keep this precious patrimony of the "Paradosis" alive in all its richness, it is important to ensure the presence of the two great streams of the one Tradition -- the Latin stream and the Eastern one -- both with the variety of historical manifestations that Ukraine has duly expressed.

The mission entrusted to the Greek-Catholic Church in full communion with Peter is twofold: Its duty, on the one hand, is to maintain the visibility of the Eastern tradition in the Catholic Church; on the other, to facilitate the meeting of the traditions, witnessing not only to their compatibility but also to their profound unity in diversity.

Venerable Brother, I pray that this anniversary may become, as venerable John Paul II wrote in his apostolic letter for the fourth centenary of the Union of Brest, "an appeal to the Spirit-Paraclete, that he may cause to flourish everything which promotes unity, and may give courage and strength to all those who commit themselves, according to the guidelines of the Council's decree "Unitatis Redintegratio," to this work blessed by God. It is a plea for the gift of brotherly love, and for the forgiveness of offences and injustices suffered in the course of history" (No. 11).

I join in spirit the action of grace that will be celebrated in the shared awareness of the common mission to obey Christ's command: "Ut unum sint." I invoke Mary, Theotokos, and the many martyrs that adorn the face of your communities, and I cordially impart to you, to the bishops, priests, consecrated persons and the faithful of the Ukrainian Greek-Catholic Church, as a sign of my constant affection and thoughts, a special apostolic blessing.

From the Vatican, 22 February 2006, Feast of the Chair of St Peter, Apostle



Papal Message to Academy of Social Sciences
"Inner Freedom Is the Condition for Authentic Human Growth" (April 27, 2006)

VATICAN CITY, APRIL 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the message Benedict XVI addressed to the participants in the plenary session of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, whose president is Mary Ann Glendon.

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

As the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences meets for its Twelfth Plenary Session, I send cordial greetings to you and all the Members, and I offer prayerful good wishes that the research and discussion which mark this annual meeting will not only contribute to the advancement of knowledge in your respective fields, but will also assist the Church in her mission to bear witness to an authentic humanism, grounded in truth and guided by the light of the Gospel.
Your present Session is devoted to a timely theme: "Vanishing Youth? Solidarity with Children and Young People in an Age of Turbulence."

Certain demographic indicators have clearly pointed to the urgent need for critical reflection in this area. While the statistics of population growth are indeed open to varying interpretations, there is general agreement that we are witnessing on a planetary level, and in the developed countries in particular, two significant and interconnected trends: on the one hand, an increase in life expectancy, and, on the other, a decrease in birthrates. As societies are growing older, many nations or groups of nations lack a sufficient number of young people to renew their population.

This situation is the result of multiple and complex causes -- often of an economic, social and cultural character -- which you have proposed to study. But its ultimate roots can be seen as moral and spiritual; they are linked to a disturbing deficit of faith, hope and, indeed, love. To bring children into the world calls for self-centered eros to be fulfilled in a creative agape rooted in generosity and marked by trust and hope in the future. By its nature, love looks to the eternal (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," No. 6). Perhaps the lack of such creative and forward-looking love is the reason why many couples today choose not to marry, why so many marriages fail, and why birthrates have significantly diminished.

It is children and young people who are often the first to experience the consequences of this eclipse of love and hope. Often, instead of feeling loved and cherished, they appear to be merely tolerated. In "an age of turbulence" they frequently lack adequate moral guidance from the adult world, to the serious detriment of their intellectual and spiritual development. Many children now grow up in a society which is forgetful of God and of the innate dignity of the human person made in God's image. In a world shaped by the accelerating processes of globalization, they are often exposed solely to materialistic visions of the universe, of life and human fulfillment.

Yet children and young people are by nature receptive, generous, idealistic and open to transcendence. They need above all else to be exposed to love and to develop in a healthy human ecology, where they can come to realize that they have not been cast into the world by chance, but through a gift that is part of God's loving plan. Parents, educators and community leaders, if they are to be faithful to their own calling, can never renounce their duty to set before children and young people the task of choosing a life project directed towards authentic happiness, one capable of distinguishing between truth and falsehood, good and evil, justice and injustice, the real world and the world of "virtual reality."

In your own scientific approach to the various issues treated in the present Session, I would encourage you to give due consideration to these overarching issues and, in particular, the question of human freedom, with its vast implications for a sound vision of the person and the achievement of affective maturity within the broader community. Inner freedom is in fact the condition for authentic human growth. Where such freedom is lacking or endangered, young people experience frustration and become incapable of striving generously for the ideals which can give shape to their lives as individuals and as members of society. As a result, they can become disheartened or rebellious, and their immense human potential diverted from meeting the exciting challenges of life.

Christians, who believe that the Gospel sheds light on every aspect of individual and social life, will not fail to see the philosophical and theological dimensions of these issues, and the need to consider that fundamental opposition between sin and grace which embraces all the other conflicts which trouble the human heart: the conflict between error and truth, vice and virtue, rebellion and cooperation, war and peace. Nor can they help but be convinced that faith, lived out in the fullness of charity and communicated to new generations, is an essential element in the building of a better future and safeguarding intergenerational solidarity, inasmuch as it anchors every human effort to build a civilization of love in the revelation of God the Creator, the creation of men and women in his image, and the victory of Christ over evil and death.

Dear friends, as I express my gratitude and support for your important research, pursued in accordance with the methods proper to your respective sciences, I encourage you never to lose sight of the inspiration and help which your studies can give to the young men and women of our time in their efforts to live productive and fulfilling lives. Upon you and your families, and upon all associated with the work of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.

From the Vatican, 27 April 2006



Papal Talk to Conferees Gathered by Popular Party
Church Speaks Up for "Promotion of Dignity of the Person"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 30, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today when receiving in audience participants in a congress promoted by the European Popular Party.

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Honorable Parliamentarians,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to receive you on the occasion of the Study Days on Europe, organized by your Parliamentary Group. The Roman Pontiffs have always devoted particular attention to this continent; today's audience is a case in point, and it takes its place in the long series of meetings between my predecessors and political movements of Christian inspiration. I thank the Honorable Mr. Pööttering for his words addressed to me in your name, and I extend to him and to all of you my cordial greetings.

At present, Europe has to address complex issues of great importance, such as the growth and development of European integration, the increasingly precise definition of neighborhood policy within the Union and the debate over its social model. In order to attain these goals, it will be important to draw inspiration, with creative fidelity, from the Christian heritage which has made such a particular contribution to forging the identity of this continent.

By valuing its Christian roots, Europe will be able to give a secure direction to the choices of its citizens and peoples, it will strengthen their awareness of belonging to a common civilization and it will nourish the commitment of all to address the challenges of the present for the sake of a better future. I therefore appreciate your group's recognition of Europe's Christian heritage, which offers valuable ethical guidelines in the search for a social model that responds adequately to the demands of an already globalized economy and to demographic changes, assuring growth and employment, protection of the family, equal opportunities for education of the young and solicitude for the poor.

Your support for the Christian heritage, moreover, can contribute significantly to the defeat of a culture that is now fairly widespread in Europe, which relegates to the private and subjective sphere the manifestation of one's own religious convictions. Policies built on this foundation not only entail the repudiation of Christianity's public role; more generally, they exclude engagement with Europe's religious tradition, which is so clear, despite its denominational variations, thereby threatening democracy itself, whose strength depends on the values that it promotes (cf. "Evangelium Vitae," No. 70).

Given that this tradition, precisely in what might be called its polyphonic unity, conveys values that are fundamental for the good of society, the European Union can only be enriched by engaging with it. It would be a sign of immaturity, if not indeed weakness, to choose to oppose or ignore it, rather than to dialogue with it.

In this context one has to recognize that a certain secular intransigence shows itself to be the enemy of tolerance and of a sound secular vision of state and society. I am pleased, therefore, that the European Union's constitutional treaty envisages a structured and ongoing relationship with religious communities, recognizing their identity and their specific contribution.

Above all, I trust that the effective and correct implementation of this relationship will start now, with the cooperation of all political movements irrespective of party alignments. It must not be forgotten that, when Churches or ecclesial communities intervene in public debate, expressing reservations or recalling various principles, this does not constitute a form of intolerance or an interference, since such interventions are aimed solely at enlightening consciences, enabling them to act freely and responsibly, according to the true demands of justice, even when this should conflict with situations of power and personal interest.

As far as the Catholic Church is concerned, the principal focus of her interventions in the public arena is the protection and promotion of the dignity of the person, and she is thereby consciously drawing particular attention to principles which are not negotiable. Among these the following emerge clearly today:

-- protection of life in all its stages, from the first moment of conception until natural death;

-- recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family -- as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage -- and its defense from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role;

-- the protection of the right of parents to educate their children.

These principles are not truths of faith, even though they receive further light and confirmation from faith; they are inscribed in human nature itself and therefore they are common to all humanity. The Church's action in promoting them is therefore not confessional in character, but is addressed to all people, prescinding from any religious affiliation they may have. On the contrary, such action is all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, because this constitutes an offense against the truth of the human person, a grave wound inflicted onto justice itself.

Dear friends, in exhorting you to be credible and consistent witnesses of these basic truths through your political activity, and more fundamentally through your commitment to live authentic and consistent lives, I invoke upon you and your work the continued assistance of God, in pledge of which I cordially impart my blessing to you and to those accompanying you.


Papal Address to Italian Christian Executives
"Justice and Charity the Inseparable Aspects of Single Social Commitment"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 27, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is the Holy See's translation of an address Benedict XVI gave to the Italian Christian Executives (UCID) during an encounter March 4 in Paul VI Hall.

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Your Eminence,
Dear Friends of the Christian Union of Business Executives,

I am pleased to welcome you and to address my cordial greeting to each one of you. A special thought goes to Cardinal Ennio Antonelli who has interpreted your common sentiments. I thank him for his address, and I am also grateful to the president of the UCID for courteously introducing our meeting and presenting the ideals and style of your commitment, as individuals and as an association.

I am particularly impressed by your determination to aspire to an ethic that goes beyond mere professional deontology -- even if, in the current context, this would be quite something. It made me think of the relationship between justice and charity, to which I dedicated a specific reflection in the second part of the encyclical "Deus Caritas Est" (Nos. 26-29).

Christians are called to seek justice always, but possess an inner impulse to love that goes beyond justice itself. The journey of lay Christians, from the mid-19th century to today, has brought them to the awareness that charitable acts must not replace the commitment to social justice.

The Church's social doctrine and especially the action of so many groups of Christian inspiration, such as yours, demonstrate the great progress the ecclesial community has made in this area.

In recent times, also thanks to the magisterium and to the witness of the Roman Pontiffs, and in particular, that of beloved Pope John Paul II, it has become clearer to all of us that justice and charity are the two inseparable aspects of the single social commitment of Christians.

It is incumbent on lay faithful in particular to work for a just order in society, taking part in public life in the first person, cooperating with other citizens and fulfilling their own responsibility (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," No. 29).

In doing just this, they are motivated by "social charity" which makes them attentive to people as individuals, to situations of greater difficulty and loneliness, and to needs that are not only material (cf. ibid., No. 28b).

Thanks to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, two years ago the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church was published. It is an especially useful instrument of formation for all who wish to be guided by the Gospel in their work and professional activity.

I am sure that you too have made it the object of attentive examination, and I hope that for each one of you and for the local branches of the UCID it will become a constant reference point in examining issues, working out projects and seeking solutions for the complex problems of the world of work and of the economy.

Indeed, it is precisely in this sphere that you carry out an indispensable part of your mission as lay Christians, and consequently, part of the process of your sanctification.

I was also interested to see the "Charter of values" of the young members of the UCID and I congratulate you on the positive spirit and confidence in the human person that enlivens it. To each "I believe" it adds an "I commit myself," thereby focusing on the coherence between strong conviction and the consequent active effort.

In particular, I appreciated the resolution to value every person for what he or she is and can give according to one's talents, avoiding every form of exploitation; I also appreciated the recognition of the importance of the family and of personal responsibility.

Unfortunately, partly because of current economic difficulties, these values often run the risk of not being followed by those business persons who lack a sound moral inspiration. Therefore, the contribution of those who draw from their Christian formation is indispensable, and thus should not be taken for granted but always nourished and renewed.

Dear friends, in a few days' time, we will be celebrating the solemnity of St. Joseph, patron of workers. There is no doubt that throughout its history your association has always had a veneration for St. Joseph.

For my part I, who bear his name, am pleased today to be able to point him out to you not only as a heavenly protector and intercessor for every worthwhile initiative, but first and foremost as one to whom you can confide your prayer and your ordinary commitment, which are surely marked both by satisfactions and disappointments in your daily life and, I would say, tenacious search for God's justice in human affairs.

St. Joseph himself will help you put into practice Jesus' demanding exhortation: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness" (cf. Matthew 6:33).

May the Virgin Mary also always help you, together with the great witnesses of social charity who have spread the Gospel of charity with their teaching and action.

Lastly, may you be accompanied by the apostolic blessing, which I cordially impart to you who are present here and gladly extend to all the members and to your relatives.


Benedict XVI's Homily at Consistory
"I Am Counting on You, Dear Brother Cardinals ..."

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the homily Benedict XVI delivered today during the ordinary public consistory to elevate 15 new cardinals.

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St. Peter's Square

Venerable Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops,
Distinguished Guests,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
On this vigil of the solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, the penitential mood of Lent makes way for the feast: Today, the College of Cardinals is to gain 15 new members. To you in particular, my dear brothers, whom I have the joy of raising to the cardinalate, I address a most sincere and cordial greeting, and I thank Archbishop William Joseph Levada for the sentiments and good wishes that he has expressed to me in the name of all of you.

I am also pleased to greet the other cardinals present, the venerable patriarchs, the bishops, the priests, the men and women religious and the many lay faithful, especially family members who have come here to honor the new cardinals in prayer and Christian joy.

With special gratitude I welcome the distinguished civil and governmental authorities, representing various nations and institutions.

The ordinary public consistory is an event that manifests most eloquently the universal nature of the Church, which has spread to every corner of the world in order to proclaim to all people the Good News of Christ our Savior. The beloved Pope John Paul II celebrated nine consistories in all, thus contributing effectively to the renewal of the College of Cardinals along the lines established by the Second Vatican Council and the Servant of God Pope Paul VI.

If it is true that down the centuries the College of Cardinals has changed in many ways, nevertheless the substance and essential nature of this important ecclesial body remain unaltered. Its ancient roots, its historical development and its composition today make it truly a kind of "senate," called to cooperate closely with the Successor of Peter in accomplishing the tasks connected with his universal apostolic ministry.

The Word of God, which has just been proclaimed to us, takes us back in time. With the Evangelist Mark we return to the very origin of the Church and specifically to the origin of the Petrine ministry. With the eyes of our hearts we see the Lord Jesus once again, to whose praise and glory this act in which we are engaged is totally directed and dedicated.

The words he speaks to us recall to our minds the definition of the Roman Pontiff so dear to the heart of St. Gregory the Great: "Servus servorum Dei." When Jesus explains to the Twelve Apostles that their authority will have to be exercised quite differently from that of "the rulers of the Gentiles," he expresses it in terms of service: "Whoever would be great among you must be your servant ('diáákonos'), and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all ('doulos')" (Mark 10:43-44).

Total and generous availability to serve others is the distinctive mark of those in positions of authority in the Church, because it was thus for the Son of Man, who came "not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45). Although he was God, or one might even say driven by his divinity, he assumed the form of a servant -- "formam servi" -- as is wonderfully expressed in the hymn to Christ contained in the Letter to the Philippians (cf. 2:6-7).

The first "servant of the servants of God" is therefore Jesus. After him, and united with him, come the Apostles; and among these, in a particular way, Peter, to whom the Lord entrusted the responsibility of guiding his flock. The Pope must be the first to make himself the servant of all.

Clear testimony to this is found in the first reading today, which puts before us Peter's exhortation to the "presbyters" and elders of the community (cf. 1 Peter 5:1). It is an exhortation given with the authority that comes to the apostle from the fact that he is a witness of the sufferings of Christ, the Good Shepherd. We sense that Peter's words come from his personal experience of service to God's flock, but first and foremost they are derived from direct experience of Jesus' own behavior: the way he served to the point of self-sacrifice, the way he humbled himself even unto death, death on a cross, trusting in the Father alone, who subsequently raised him on high.

Peter, like Paul, was utterly "conquered" by Christ -- "comprehensus sum a Christo Iesu" (cf. Philippians 3:12) -- and like Paul he can exhort the elders with full authority because it is no longer he who lives, but Christ lives in him -- "vivo autem iam non ego, vivit vero in me Christus" (Galatians 2:20).

Yes, venerable and dear brothers, these words of the Prince of the Apostles apply particularly to those who are called to wear the cardinalatial scarlet: "I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ as well as a partaker in the glory that is to be revealed" (1 Peter 5:1). These words, in their essential structure, recall the paschal mystery, especially present in our hearts during these days of Lent.

St. Peter applies them to himself as a "fellow elder" ("sympresbýýteros"), indicating that the elder in the Church, through experience accumulated over the years and through trials faced and overcome, must be particularly "in tune" with the inner dynamic of the paschal mystery. How many times, dear brothers who are soon to receive the cardinalatial dignity, have you found in these words matter for meditation and a source of spiritual inspiration to follow in the footsteps of the crucified and risen Lord!

The demands that your new responsibility places upon you will confirm these words in a new and exacting way. More closely linked to the Successor of Peter, you will be called to work together with him in accomplishing his particular ecclesial service, and this will mean for you a more intense participation in the mystery of the Cross as you share in the sufferings of Christ. This will allow you to draw more abundantly upon the sources of grace and to disseminate their life-giving fruits more effectively to those around you.

Venerable and dear brothers, I want to sum up the meaning of this new call that you have received in the word which I placed at the heart of my first encyclical: "caritas." This matches well the color of your cardinalatial robes. May the scarlet that you now wear always express the "caritas Christi," inspiring you to a passionate love for Christ, for his Church and for all humanity.

You now have an additional motive to seek to rekindle in yourselves those same sentiments that led the incarnate Son of God to pour out his blood in atonement for the sins of the whole world. I am counting on you, venerable brothers, I am counting on the entire College into which you are being incorporated, to proclaim to the world that "Deus caritas est," and to do so above all through the witness of sincere communion among Christians: "By this," said Jesus, "all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35).

I am counting on you, dear brother cardinals, to ensure that the principle of love will spread far and wide, and will give new life to the Church at every level of her hierarchy, in every group of the faithful, in every religious Institute, in every spiritual, apostolic or humanitarian initiative. I am counting on you to see to it that our common endeavor to fix our gaze on Christ's open Heart will hasten and secure our path toward the full unity of Christians.
I am counting on you to see to it that the Church's solicitude for the poor and needy challenges the world with a powerful statement on the civilization of love. All this I see symbolized in the scarlet with which you are now invested. May it truly be a symbol of ardent Christian love shining forth in your lives.

I entrust this my prayer into the maternal hands of the Holy Virgin of Nazareth, source of the life-blood which the Son of God was to pour out on the Cross as the supreme _expression of his love. In the mystery of the Annunciation which we are about to celebrate, it is revealed to us that the divine Word was made flesh through the action of the Holy Spirit and came to dwell among us.

Through Mary's intercession, may the Spirit of truth and love be poured out abundantly upon the new cardinals and upon us all, so that as we become ever more fully conformed to Christ, we may dedicate ourselves tirelessly to building up the Church and to spreading the Gospel in the world.


Papal Address on 40th Anniversary of "Ad Gentes"
"Called to Serve Humanity by Trusting in Jesus Alone"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a Holy See translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered March 11 to the participants in an international conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council decree "Ad Gentes."

* * *

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

I greet with affection all of you who have taken part in the international conference organized by the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and the pontifical Urban University on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the conciliar decree "Ad Gentes."

I greet first of all Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, and thank him for his words on your behalf. I greet the bishops and priests present and all those who have taken part in this initiative, which is as timely as ever since it responds to the need to continue to deepen knowledge of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council in order to bring out the impelling power that this Council session impressed upon the life and mission of the Church.

Indeed, the approval on December 7, 1965, of the decree "Ad Gentes" gave a new impetus to the Church's mission. The theological foundations of missionary commitment were more clearly spelled out, as well as its value and timeliness in the face of the changes in the world and the challenges of modern life to the preaching of the Gospel (cf. No. 1).

The Church has acquired an ever-clearer awareness of her innate missionary vocation, recognizing it as a constitutive element of her very nature.

Out of obedience to the command of Christ, who sent his disciples to proclaim the Gospel to all the nations (cf. Matthew 28:18-20), the Christian community in our time too feels sent to the men and women of the third millennium in order to acquaint them with the truth of the Gospel message and thereby give them access to the path of salvation.

And this, as I said, is not an option but the vocation proper to the People of God, a duty incumbent upon it by the command of the Lord Jesus Christ himself (cf. "Evangelii Nuntiandi," No. 5).

Actually, the proclamation of and witness to the Gospel are the first service that Christians can render to every person and to the entire human race, called as they are to communicate to all God's love, which was fully manifested in Jesus Christ, the one Redeemer of the world.

The publication of the conciliar decree "Ad Gentes," on which you have opportunely reflected, has made it possible to highlight better the original root of the Church's mission, that is, the Trinitarian life of God from which comes the movement of love that the Divine Persons pour out upon humanity. It all flows from the Heart of the heavenly Father, who so loved the world that he gave his Only-begotten Son so that those who believe in him should not perish but have eternal life (cf. John 3:16).

With the mystery of the Incarnation, the Only-begotten Son was made the authentic and supreme Mediator between the Father and men and women. In the One who died and rose, the Father's provident tenderness reaches every person in forms and ways he alone knows.

It is the Church's task to communicate this divine love ceaselessly through the vivifying action of the Holy Spirit. Indeed, it is the Spirit who transforms the life of believers, freeing them from the bondage of sin and death and making them capable of witnessing to the merciful love of God, who wishes to make humanity a single family in his Son (cf. "Deus Caritas Est," No. 19).

From the outset, the Christian People has been clearly aware of the importance of sharing the riches of this love with those who do not yet know Christ through constant missionary activity.

The need to reaffirm this commitment has been felt even more forcefully in recent years, because in the modern epoch, as my beloved Predecessor John Paul II observed, the "missio ad gentes" has sometimes seemed to be slowing down because of difficulties due to changes in humanity's anthropological, cultural, social and religious contexts.

Today, the Church is called to embrace new challenges and be ready to enter into dialogue with different cultures and religions, seeking with every person of good will to build peaceful coexistence between peoples.

Thus, the area of the "missio ad gentes" appears to have been considerably extended and cannot be defined solely on the basis of geographical or juridical considerations; indeed, the missionary activity of the People of God is not only intended for non-Christian peoples and distant lands, but above all for social and cultural contexts and hearts.

Carrying out this mandate faithfully demands patience and foresight, courage and humility, listening to God and alert discernment of the "signs of the times." The conciliar decree "Ad Gentes" reveals the Church's awareness that, in order that "what was accomplished [by the Lord] for the salvation of all men may, in the course of time, achieve its universal effect" (No. 3), it is necessary to take the same way as Christ, a way that leads to death on the cross.

Indeed, evangelizing action "must walk the road Christ himself walked, a way of poverty and obedience, of service and self-sacrifice even to death, a death from which he emerged victorious ..." (ibid., No. 5). Yes! The Church is called to serve the humanity of our time by trusting in Jesus alone, by allowing herself to be illumined by his Word and imitating him in the generous gift of herself to his brethren. She is an instrument in his hands and therefore does what she can, conscious that the One who does everything is the Lord.

Dear brothers and sisters, thank you for the reflection you have developed in these days, deepening your knowledge of the content and style of missionary activity in our epoch and reflecting in particular on shedding light on the role of theology, which is also a systematic exposition of various aspects of the Church's mission.

With the contribution of all Christians, the proclamation of the Gospel will undoubtedly be ever more comprehensible and effective. May Mary, Star of Evangelization, help and sustain those in many regions of the world who work on the front lines of the mission.

In this regard, how could one forget those who, also recently, have given their life for the Gospel? May their sacrifice obtain a renewed springtime, rich in apostolic fruit for evangelization. Let us pray for this, entrusting to the Lord all who in various ways work in the great vineyard of the Lord.

With these sentiments, I impart my apostolic blessing to you who are present here, and I cordially extend it to your loved ones and to the ecclesial communities to which you belong.


Papal Address on 75th Anniversary of Vatican Radio

"A Choir of Voices"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 21, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered March 3 when visiting the headquarters of Vatican Radio for its 75th anniversary.

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

I willingly visit you at your fine headquarters in the Palazzo Pio, which the Servant of God Paul VI wished to make available to Vatican Radio. I offer you all a cordial greeting and I thank you for your welcome.

I greet in particular the superior general of the Society of Jesus, Father Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, and I thank him for the service which, since the origins of Vatican Radio, the Jesuits have rendered to the Holy See, faithful to the Ignatian charism of total dedication to the Church and to the Roman Pontiff.

I greet Cardinal Roberto Tucci and Father Antonio Stefanizzi as well as Father Pasquale Borgomeo -- whom prior engagements have prevented from being here -- who for many years were general directors of Vatican Radio.

I greet Father Federico Lombardi, the current general director. I am grateful to him for his words on behalf of you all. I am also grateful to Mr. Candi, who has expressed the sentiments of the lay employees. My thoughts go at this time to those employees who have been detained at the Radio's other offices -- the broadcasting center at Santa Maria di Galeria, Palazzina Leone XIII and Palazzina Marconi -- who are taking part in this meeting by audiovisual linkup.

I greet your retired colleagues, the many collaborators, relatives and friends, and everyone who would have liked to have been present but have been prevented by the lack of space. I also extend my greeting to your listeners scattered throughout the world.

The evocative images of 75 years ago present the first Vatican Radio Station to us which today might seem modest; but Guglielmo Marconi knew that the path opened by science and technology would have a great influence on human life.

My venerable Predecessor Pius XI was also well aware of the importance that the new means of communication with which the Church was equipping herself would have for the dissemination of the papal magisterium throughout the world.

With original solemnity, he addressed his first radio message on February 12, 1931, which inaugurated the history of your broadcasting station, to "all peoples and to every creature." In the years that followed, the Servant of God Pius XII, with his historic radio messages during the Second World War, enabled all the peoples to hear his words of comfort, advice and passionate exhortations to hope and for peace.
Furthermore, when Communism extended its domination over various nations in Central and Eastern Europe and in other parts of the world, Vatican Radio increased its programs and the languages of its broadcasts, to ensure that the witness of closeness and solidarity offered by the Pope and the universal Church would reach the Christian communities oppressed by totalitarian regimes.

The Second Vatican Council spread an even greater awareness of the importance that the means of communication were to have in the dissemination of the Gospel message in our time, and your radio broadcasting station with effective and modern technical means began to develop ever fuller and more numerous programs.

Today, at last, thanks to the most advanced technologies -- satellite and internet in particular -- you can produce programs in various languages that are relayed and transmitted by numerous broadcasting stations on every continent, thus reaching a wider range of listeners.

Dear friends, we cannot but thank the Lord for all this, and at the same time pray to him to continue to assist you in your work. Call on him with the words written on the main facade of your offices: "'Adsis Christe, eorumque aspira laboribus, qui pro tuo nomine certant' -- Help us, O Christ, and inspire the efforts of those who fight for your Name." Yes! Yours is the "good fight of the faith," as the Apostle Paul said (cf. 1 Timothy 6:12), in order to spread Christ's Gospel.

It consists, as we read in your statutes, in "proclaiming the Christian message with freedom, fidelity and effectiveness, and in linking the center of Catholicism with the various countries of the world: spreading the voice and teachings of the Roman Pontiff; providing information on the activities of the Holy See; reporting on Catholic life in the world; directing people to evaluate current problems in the light of the magisterium of the Church and with constant attention to the signs of the times" (No. 1.3).

This mission is ever up to date, even if the circumstances and ways of carrying it out change with the times. Indeed, Vatican Radio today is no longer a single voice that sounds from a single point as it was with Marconi's first broadcasting station.

Rather, it is a choir of voices that rings out in more than 40 languages and can keep up a dialogue with different cultures and religions; a choir of voices that travels through the air via electromagnetic waves and is broadcast everywhere by means of the increasingly dense telematic network that spans the globe.

Continue, dear friends, to work in the great Areopagus of modern communications, treasuring the extraordinary experience you lived during the great Jubilee of the Year 2000, and especially on the occasion of the death of beloved Pope John Paul II, an event that showed humanity's eagerness to be acquainted with the reality of the Church.

Do not forget, however, that in order to carry out the mission entrusted to you, a proper technical and professional training is of course necessary; above all, though, you must ceaselessly cultivate within you a spirit of prayer and faithful adherence to the teachings of Christ and his Church. May the Virgin Mary, Star of the new evangelization, help and protect you always!

Dear brothers and sisters, as I renew the _expression of my gratitude, I gladly impart to everyone present here my blessing, which I extend to your loved ones and to all Vatican Radio listeners.


Papal Address to Secretariat of State, Representatives
"Speaking Up in Defense of Man"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 20, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday to the superiors of the Secretariat of State, lead by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, together with the Holy See's representatives to various international organizations.

* * *

Dear Cardinal
and dear representatives of the Holy See to the international organizations,

I affectionately welcome you in this encounter, in which I have the joy of meeting you for the first time, as you unite here in Rome to reflect upon the important questions of this present moment. I cordially greet all of you and convey my heartfelt gratitude to the Cardinal Secretary of State for the words spoken on behalf of all of you.

The greater participation of the Holy See in the international activities constitutes a precious stimulus so that it can continue giving a voice to the conscience all who make up the international community. It is a fragile and strenuous service which, sustained by the apparently feeble yet ultimately prevailing strength of the truth, strives to cooperate in the construction of an international society, which is more attentive to the dignity, and true demands of the human person.

From this perspective, the presence of the Holy See to the international intergovernmental organizations represents a fundamental contribution to the respect for human rights and the common good, and therefore, to authentic freedom and justice. We find ourselves before a specific and unique commitment that can be more effective if it unites its efforts with those who cooperate with sincere self-giving in the mission of the Church in the world.

The relations between states and within the states are just in the degree in which they respect truth. Nonetheless, when truth is disregarded, peace is threatened, law is endangered and then, as a logical consequence, injustices are unleashed. These are the boundaries that divide countries in a much more profound way than the limits drawn up on the geographical maps and frequently are not only external boundaries but also internal to the states.

These injustices also take on new faces. For example, the face of disinterest and confusion that comes to damage the structure of the family, the fundamental cell of society. Or the face of authoritarianism or arrogance which can even become authorized, silencing those who have no voice or strength to be heard, as happens in the case of the injustice which, perhaps today the gravest is that which does away with incipient human life.

"God chose the weak of the world to shame the strong" (1 Corinthians 1:27). May this criterion of divine action, still in vigor today, encourage you not to be surprised, and less still to become discouraged, in the face of difficulties and misunderstandings. In fact, you know that through them you authoritatively participate in the prophetic responsibility of the Church, which strives to continue speaking up in defense of man, even when state politics or the majority of public opinion moves in the opposite direction. The strength of truth, in fact, is found in truth itself, not in the number of approvals it receives.

You can be sure that I accompany you in your arduous and important mission with cordial attention and sincere gratitude, assuring you also of a remembrance in my prayer as I willingly impart to all of you my apostolic blessing.


Pope's Address on Vatican Radio
A "Great Family Which Has No Borders"

VATICAN CITY, MARCH 3, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the extemporaneous address Benedict XVI gave today on Vatican Radio on the occasion of the broadcasting station's 75th anniversary.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

My heartfelt greetings to all men and women, listeners of Vatican Radio, to whom I wish the peace and joy of the Lord.

It is a great joy for me to be here. We are conscious that 75 years ago, Pope Pius XI inaugurated Vatican Radio, thus giving a voice to the Holy See, beyond that, to the Church and to the Lord -- a voice with which to truly apply the Lord's commandment: "Proclaim the Gospel to all creatures to the ends of the earth."

Meanwhile, as I am seeing, in these 75 years the technology has been very much perfected. Today the voice of Vatican Radio can reach all parts of the world, and many homes and -- as has been emphasized -- there is also a beautiful reciprocity, not only in speaking about, but also in receiving answers, in an authentic dialogue to understand, respond to and build the family of God.

It seems to me that this is the meaning of a means of communication such as this one: To help build this great family which has no borders, in which all feel themselves brothers and sisters in the multiplicity of cultures and languages, and in this way represent a force for peace.

I would like to hope that all those who are listening to me at this moment may feel really involved in this great dialogue of truth. In the media world, as we know, there is no lack of opposing voices. It is, therefore, particularly important that this voice exist, which really wishes to be at the service of truth, of Christ, and in this way, at the service of peace and reconciliation in the world.

I wish that those working here may be effective instruments of this great work of peace of the Lord. I thank you for everything you do, day after day, and also perhaps, night after night.

I wish that the listeners may also be involved in this great dialogue, and become in turn witnesses of truth, and a force of peace in the world.


Papal Address to Doctrinal Congregation
"Service to the Faith …… Is Also a Service to Joy"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 28, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Feb. 10 to participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

* * *

Clementine Hall

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

I am pleased to meet the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the end of its plenary meeting, a congregation over which I had the joy to preside for more than 20 years through the mandate of my Predecessor, the venerable Pope John Paul II.

Your faces also make me think of all those who collaborated with the dicastery in those years: I remember them all with gratitude and affection. Indeed, I cannot but recall with a certain emotion the very intense and fruitful period which I spent with the congregation, whose task is to promote and safeguard the doctrine on faith and morals in the entire Catholic Church (cf. "Pastor Bonus," No. 48).

Faith has a fundamental importance in the life of the Church, because the gift that God makes of himself in Revelation is fundamental and God's gift of himself is accepted through faith.

Here the importance of your congregation comes to the fore. Through its service to the whole Church and to the bishops in particular, as teachers of the faith and pastors, it is precisely called in a spirit of collegiality to encourage and to recall the centrality of the Catholic faith in its authentic expression.

Whenever, moreover, the perception of this centrality weakens, the fabric of ecclesial life loses its original brightness and wears thin: It degenerates into sterile activism or is reduced to political expediency with a worldly flavor.

If, instead, the truth of the faith is placed simply and decisively at the heart of Christian existence, human life is innovated and revived by a love that knows no rest or bounds, as I also had the opportunity to recall in my recent encyclical letter "Deus Caritas Est."

Charity, like love that renews all things, moves from God's Heart to the Heart of Jesus Christ, and through his Spirit across the world. This love is born from the encounter with Christ in faith: "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" ("Deus Caritas Est," No. 1).

Jesus Christ is the Personified Truth who attracts the world to himself. The light that shines out from Jesus is the splendor of the truth. Every other truth is a fragment of the Truth that he is, and refers to him.

Jesus is the Pole Star of human freedom: Without him it loses its sense of direction, for without the knowledge of the truth, freedom degenerates, becomes isolated and is reduced to sterile arbitration.

With him, freedom is rediscovered; it is recognized to have been created for our good and is expressed in charitable actions and behavior.

Therefore, Jesus gives men and women total familiarity with the truth and continuously invites them to live in it. It is truth offered as a reality that restores the human being and at the same time surpasses him and towers above him, as a Mystery that embraces and at the same time exceeds the impulse of his intelligence.

And nothing succeeds as well as love for the truth in impelling the human mind toward unexplored horizons. Jesus Christ, who is the fullness of the truth, draws to himself the heart of each person, enlarges it and fills it with joy. Indeed, truth alone can take possession of the mind and make it rejoice to the full.

It is this joy that increases the dimensions of the human heart, lifting it anew from the narrowness of selfishness and rendering it capable of authentic love. It is the experience of this joy that moves and attracts the human person to free adoration, not to servile prostration but to bow with heartfelt respect before the Truth he has encountered.

Thus, service to the faith, which is a witness to the One who is the entire Truth, is also a service to joy, and this is the joy that Christ desires to spread in the world: It is the joy of faith in him, of truth that is communicated through him, of salvation that comes from him! It is this joy we feel in our hearts when we kneel with faith to worship Jesus!

This love for truth also inspires and directs the Christian approach to the contemporary world and the evangelizing commitment of the Church, topics which you have taken time to discuss at your plenary assembly.

The Church welcomes with joy the authentic breakthroughs of human knowledge and recognizes that evangelization also demands a proper grasp of the horizons and the challenges that modern knowledge is unfolding. In fact, the great progress of scientific knowledge that we saw during the last century has helped us understand the mystery of creation better and has profoundly marked the awareness of all peoples.

However, scientific advances have sometimes been so rapid as to make it very difficult to discern whether they are compatible with the truths about man and the world that God has revealed. At times, certain assertions of scientific knowledge have even been opposed to these truths. This may have given rise to a certain confusion among the faithful and may also have made the proclamation and acceptance of the Gospel difficult.

Consequently, every study that aims to deepen the knowledge of the truths discovered by reason is vitally important, in the certainty that there is no "competition of any kind between reason and faith" ("Fides et Ratio," No. 17).

We must have no fears about facing this challenge: Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord of all creation and of all history. The believer knows well that "all things were created through him and for him ... and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16,17).

By continually deepening our knowledge of Christ, the center of the cosmos and of history, we can show the men and women of our time that faith in him is important for humanity's future: Indeed, it is the accomplishment of all that is authentically human. Only in this perspective will we be able to give convincing answers to the person who is searching.

This commitment is crucially important for the proclamation and transmission of the faith in the contemporary world. Today, in fact, the task of evangelizing is an urgent priority and demands equal commitment.

The dialogue between faith and reason, religion and science, does not only make it possible to show people of our time the reasonableness of faith in God as effectively and convincingly as possible, but also to demonstrate that the definitive fulfillment of every authentic human aspiration rests in Jesus Christ. In this regard, a serious evangelizing effort cannot ignore the questions that arise also from today's scientific and philosophical discoveries.

The desire for the truth is part of human nature itself. The whole of creation is an immense invitation to seek those responses that open human reason to the great response that it has always sought and awaited: "The truth of Christian Revelation, found in Jesus of Nazareth, enables all men and women to embrace the 'mystery' of their own life. As absolute truth, it summons human beings to be open to the transcendent, while respecting both their autonomy as creatures and their freedom. At this point, the relationship between freedom and truth is complete, and we understand the full meaning of the Lord's words:

"You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free' (John 8:32)" ("Fides et Ratio," No. 15).

In this the congregation finds the motive for its commitment and the horizon of its service. Your service to the fullness of the faith is a service to the truth, hence, to joy, a joy that rises from the depths of the heart, that flows from those abysses of love that Christ opened with his Heart pierced on the Cross and that his Spirit pours out into the world with inexhaustible generosity. From this point of view, your doctrinal ministry can appropriately be defined as "pastoral."

Your service, in fact, is a service to the full diffusion of God's light in the world! May the light of faith, expressed in its fullness and integrity, always illumine your work and be the "star" that guides you and helps you to direct human hearts to Christ!

This is the weighty but fascinating task incumbent upon the Successor of Peter in his mission in which you are called to collaborate. Thank you for your work and for your service!

With these sentiments I impart my blessing to you all.


Papal Address to Italian Christian Workers' Associations
Misuse of Science and Technology "Can Seriously Threaten the Destiny of Life Itself"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 24, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Jan. 27 to the Italian Christian Workers' Associations, in an audience in the Clementine Hall.

* * *

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate
and in the Presbyterate,
Dear Members of the ACLI,

We are meeting today on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Italian Christian Workers' Associations. I greet President Luigi Bobba and warmly thank him for his courteous words that truly touched me; I greet the other leaders and each one of you. I offer a special greeting to the bishops and priests who have accompanied you and who are concerned with your spiritual formation.

The birth of your sodality is due to the farsighted intuition of Pope Pius XII of venerable memory. He desired to form a visible and effective presence of Italian Catholics in the world of work and availed himself of the precious collaboration of Giovanni Battista Montini, then substitute of the Secretariat of State.

Ten years later, on 1 May 1955, the same Pontiff established the feast of St. Joseph the Worker to point out to all the world's workers the way to personal sanctification through work, and thereby to restore the perspective of authentic humanization to the drudgery of daily life.

Today too, the question of work, the focus of rapid and complex changes, never ceases to call the human conscience into question and requires that workers do not lose sight of the basic principle that must guide every practical decision: the good of all human beings and of the whole of society.

Within this basic fidelity to God's original plan, I would like here to re-read briefly, with you and for you, the three "orders" or "fidelities" which in the past you have been committed to embodying in your multiform activity.

The first fidelity that the ACLI are called to live is fidelity to workers. The person is the "measure of the dignity of work" (Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church, No. 271). For this reason, the magisterium has always recalled the human dimension of the activity of work and has redirected it to its true aim, without forgetting that the biblical teaching on work culminates in the commandment to rest. To require, therefore, that Sunday should not be equated to all other days of the week is a civilized decision.

Other priorities derive from the primacy of the ethical value of human labor: of the person over work (cf. "Laborem Exercens," No. 12), of work over capital (ibid.), of the universal destination of goods over the right to possess private property (ibid., No. 14), in short, the priority of being over having (ibid., No. 20).

This hierarchy of priorities shows clearly that the work environment is fully part of the anthropological issue. Today, a new and unheard-of implication of the social question connected with the protection of life is emerging in this area. We live in a time in which science and technology offer extraordinary possibilities for improving everyone's existence. But a distorted use of this power can seriously and irreparably threaten the destiny of life itself.

Thus, the teaching of beloved John Paul II, who asked us to see life as the new frontier of the social question (cf. "Evangelium Vitae," No. 20), should be reasserted. The protection of life from its conception until its natural end and wherever it is threatened, offended or trampled upon, is the first duty in which an authentic ethic of responsibility is expressed that should be consistently extended to all other forms of poverty, injustice and exclusion.

The second "fidelity" I would like to recommend to you is -- in conformity with the spirit of your Founding Fathers -- fidelity to democracy, which alone can guarantee equality and rights to everyone. Indeed, there is a sort of reciprocal dependence between democracy and justice that impels everyone to work responsibly to safeguard each person's rights, especially those of the weak and marginalized.

This being said, it should not be forgotten that the search for truth is at the same time the condition for the possibility of a real and not only apparent democracy: "As history demonstrates, a democracy without values easily turns into open or thinly disguised totalitarianism" ("Centesimus Annus," No. 46).

From here comes the invitation to work, to increase consensus around a framework of shared references, for otherwise the appeal to democracy risks becoming a mere procedural formality that perpetuates differences and exacerbates problems.

The third task is fidelity to the Church. Only cordial and passionate adherence to the journey of the Church will guarantee that necessary identity which can make itself present in every social milieu of the world without losing the savor and scent of the Gospel.

It is not by accident that John Paul II addressed these words to you on 1 May 1995: "The Gospel alone renews the ACLI"; they still mark out the principal route for your association, since they encourage you to put the Word of God at the center of your life and to see evangelization as an integral part of your mission.

The presence, then, of priests as spiritual guides helps you make the most of your relationship with the local Church and strengthens your commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue.

As associated Christian lay people and workers, always take pains with the formation of your members and leaders, with a view to the special service to which you are called. As witnesses of the Gospel and weavers of fraternal bonds, be present courageously in the crucial areas of social life.

Dear friends, the main theme of your 60th anniversary celebration was the reinterpretation of these historical "fidelities," doing justice to the fourth task with which Venerable John Paul II urged you to "extend the bounds of your social action" (Address to the ACLI, April 27, 2002; L'Osservatore Romano, English edition, June 12, No. 4, p. 11).

May this commitment to the future of humanity always be enlivened by Christian hope. In this way you too, as witnesses of the Risen Jesus, Hope of the world, will help to impress new dynamism upon the great tradition of the Italian Christian Workers' Associations and be able to cooperate under the action of the Holy Spirit to renew the face of the earth.

May God accompany you and the Blessed Virgin protect you, your families and all your projects. I bless you with affection, as I assure you of my special remembrance in prayer.


Announcement of Consistory for 15 New Cardinals
"To Help and Support Peter's Successor"

VATICAN CITY, FEB. 22, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered after today's general audience, to announce the elevation of 15 new cardinals in a consistory next month.

* * *

The feast of the Chair of St. Peter is a particularly appropriate day to announce that, next March 24, I will hold a consistory in which I will name the new members of the College of Cardinals.

This announcement is appropriately framed in the Feast of the Chair, because cardinals have the duty to help and support Peter's Successor in carrying out the apostolic task entrusted to him in the service of the Church.

It is no accident that, in ancient ecclesiastical documents, the popes described the College of Cardinals as "pars corporis nostri" ["part of our body"] (cf. F.X. Wernz, "Ius Decretalium," II, No. 459). The cardinals constitute a sort of senate around the Pope upon which he relies in carrying out the duties associated with his ministry as "permanent and visible source and foundation of unity of faith and communion" (cf. "Lumen Gentium," No. 18).

Therefore, with the creation of the new cardinals I intend to complete the number of 120 member electors of the College of Cardinals, established by Pope Paul VI of venerated memory (cf. "Acta Apostolicae Sedis" 65, 1973, p. 163). These are the names of the new cardinals.

1. Monsignor William Joseph Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith;

2. Monsignor Franc Rodéé, C.M., prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life;

3. Monsignor Agostino Vallini, prefect of the Supreme Court of the Apostolic Signature;

4. Monsignor Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, archbishop of Caracas;

5. Monsignor Gaudencio B. Rosales, archbishop of Manila;

6. Monsignor Jean-Pierre Ricard, archbishop of Bordeaux;

7. Monsignor Antonio Caññizares Llovera, archbishop of Todelo;

8. Monsignor Nicolas Cheong Jin-Suk, archbishop of Seoul;

9. Monsignor Sean Patrick O'Malley, O.F.M. Cap., archbishop of Boston;

10. Monsignor Stanislaw Dziwisz, archbishop of Krakow;

11. Monsignor Carlo Caffarra, archbishop of Bologna;
12. Monsignor Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB, bishop of Hong Kong.

Moreover, I have decided to elevate to the dignity of cardinal three prelates over the age of 80, in consideration of the service they have rendered to the Church with exemplary faithfulness and admirable dedication.

They are:

1. Monsignor Andrea Cordero Lanza Di Montezemolo, archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul Outside the Walls;

2. Monsignor Peter Poreku Dery, archbishop emeritus of Tamale, Ghana;

3. Father Albert Vanhoye, S.J., formerly distinguished rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and secretary of the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

The new cardinals well reflect the universality of the Church. In fact, they come from various parts of the world and undertake different duties in the service of the People of God.

I invite you to raise a special prayer to the Lord for them, that he may concede them the grace necessary to carry out their mission with generosity.

As I said at the beginning, next March 24 I will hold the announced consistory and the following day, March 25, solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord, I will have the joy of presiding over a solemn celebration with the new cardinals.

On that occasion I will invite all the members of the College of Cardinals to participate, with whom I intend to hold a meeting of reflection and prayer the previous day, March 23.

Let us conclude now with the singing of the Pater Noster.



VATICAN CITY, FEB 17, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received journalists and editors from the Italian magazine "Civilta Cattolica," which is run by the Jesuits, recalling that Blessed Pius IX had "perpetually instituted" the publication in 1850, "giving it a particular statue that established a special link with the Holy See."

In order for the magazine to remain "faithful to its character and its duty," said the Pope, it must "continually renew itself, correctly interpreting 'the signs of the times'." Faced with the spread of "individualistic relativism and positivistic science, ... closed to God and His moral law though not always prejudiced against Christianity, ... Catholics are called to develop dialogue with modern culture, opening it up to the perennial values of transcendence."

The Holy Father also indicated the "many signs of hope" in today's world, such as "a new sensitivity to religious values, ... renewed interest in Sacred Scripture, greater respect for human rights, and the desire to establish dialogue with other religions. In particular, faith in Jesus can help many to grasp the meaning of life and of the human adventure, giving them the points of reference that are often lacking in so frenetic and disoriented a world."

In this context, Benedict XVI identified the mission of a magazine like "Civilta Cattolica" as being "to participate in the modern cultural debate, both to propose - seriously but also in a way accessible to all - the truths of Christian faith with clarity and faithfulness to the Church's Magisterium, and to defend, with no desire for controversy, the truth which is sometimes distorted by baseless accusations leveled against the ecclesial community."

The Pope indicated Vatican Council II as a "beacon" to guide the magazine. "The doctrinal and pastoral wealth it contains," he said, "have not yet been fully assimilated by the Christian community, even though 40 years have passed since its conclusion."

He concluded by saying that "Civilta Cattolica" must "divulge and support the action of the Church in all areas of her mission. The magazine must give particular emphasis to spreading the Church's social doctrine, one of the themes it has covered most fully in its 155 years of life."


Pope's Jan. 12 Address to Neocatechumenal Way
"To Render Even More Effective Its Evangelizing Action ……"

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I warmly thank you for your visit, which gives me the opportunity to send a special greeting also to the other members of the Neocatechumenal Way scattered in so many parts of the world. I address my thoughts to each one present, starting with the venerable cardinals, bishops and priests. I greet those in charge of the Neocatechumenal Way: Mr. Kiko Argüüello, whom I thank for his words on your behalf, Ms. Carmen Hernáández and Father Mario Pezzi. I greet the seminarians, the young people and especially the families that are preparing to receive a special missionary "mandate" to go to various nations, especially in Latin America.

This is a task that fits into the context of the new evangelization in which the family plays a role more important than ever. You have asked that the Successor of Peter confer this mandate as my venerable Predecessor John Paul II did in the past, on 12 December 1994, because you intend your apostolic action to take place in the heart of the Church, in total harmony with her directives and in communion with the particular Churches in which you are going to work, making the most of the riches of the charisms that the Lord has awakened through the founders of the Way.

Dear families, the crucifix you will receive will be your inseparable traveling companion while you proclaim with your missionary action that only in Jesus Christ, who died and was raised, is there salvation. You will be his docile and joyful witnesses, walking the highways of every continent in simplicity and poverty, sustained by ceaseless prayer and listening to the Word of God and nourished by participation in the liturgical life of the particular Churches to which you are sent.

The importance in evangelization of the liturgy, and in particular of Holy Mass, has often been stressed by my Predecessors, and your long experience can certainly confirm that the centrality of the mystery of Christ celebrated in the liturgical rites is a privileged and indispensable way to build living and persevering Christian communities.

Precisely to help the Neocatechumenal Way to render even more effective its evangelizing action in communion with all the People of God, the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments recently imparted to you in my name certain norms concerning the Eucharistic Celebration, after the trial period that the Servant of God John Paul II conceded. I am sure you will attentively observe these norms that reflect what is provided for in the liturgical books approved by the Church.

By faithfully keeping to every Church directive, you will make your apostolate even more effective, in tune and in full communion with the Pope and the Pastors of every Diocese. And in so doing, the Lord will continue to bless you with abundant pastoral fruits.

In fact, you have been able to do a great deal in these years and numerous vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life have been born in your communities.

Today, however, our attention is addressed particularly to families. More than 200 of them are about to be sent out on mission; these are families who leave without much human support but who are counting first and foremost on the support of divine Providence.

Dear families, you can witness with your history that the Lord does not abandon those who entrust themselves to him. Continue to spread the Gospel of life. Wherever your mission leads you, let yourselves be illumined by the comforting words of Jesus: "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given you besides," and again, "Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself. Sufficient for a day is its own evil" (Matthew 6:33-34). In a world that seeks human certainties and earthly reassurance, show that Christ is the firm rock on which to construct the building of your own existence and that trust placed in him is never in vain.

May the Holy Family of Nazareth protect you and be your model. I assure you of my prayer for you and for all the members of the Neocatechumenal Way, while I affectionately impart to each one the apostolic blessing.


Benedict XVI's Address on Forthcoming Encyclical (to Cor Unum)
"I Wished to Show the Humanity of Faith"

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 23, 2006 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today to the participants in a meeting organized by the Pontifical Council "Cor Unum" on the theme "But the Greatest of These Is Love" (1 Corinthians 13:13).

* * *

The cosmic excursion in which Dante wants to involve the reader in his "Divine Comedy" ends before the everlasting Light that is God himself, before that Light which at the same time is the love "which moves the sun and the other stars ("Paradise" XXXIII, verse 145). Light and love are but one thing. They are the primordial creative power that moves the universe.
If these words of the poet reveal the thought of Aristotle, who saw in the "eros" the power that moves the world, Dante's gaze, however, perceives something totally new and unimaginable for the Greek philosopher.

Eternal Light not only is presented with the three circles of which he speaks with those profound verses that we know: "Eternal Light, You only dwell within Yourself, and only You know You; Self-knowing, Self-known, You love and smile upon Yourself!" ("Paradise," XXXIII, verses 124-126). In reality, the perception of a human face -- the face of Jesus Christ -- which Dante sees in the central circle of light is even more overwhelming than this revelation of God as Trinitarian circle of knowledge and love.

God, infinite Light, whose incommensurable mystery had been intuited by the Greek philosopher, this God has a human face and -- we can add -- a human heart. In this vision of Dante is shown, on one hand, the continuity between the Christian faith in God and the search promoted by reason and by the realm of religions; at the same time, however, in it is also appreciated the novelty that exceeds all human search, the novelty that only God himself could reveal to us: the novelty of a love that has led God to assume a human face, more than that, to assume the flesh and blood, the whole of the human being.

God's "eros" is not only a primordial cosmic force, it is love that has created man and that bends before him, as the Good Samaritan bent before the wounded man, victim of thieves, who was lying on the side of the road that went from Jerusalem to Jericho.

Today the word "love" is so tarnished, so spoiled and so abused, that one is almost afraid to pronounce it with one's lips. And yet it is a primordial word, _expression of the primordial reality; we cannot simply abandon it, we must take it up again, purify it and give back to it its original splendor so that it might illuminate our life and lead it on the right path. This awareness led me to choose love as the theme of my first encyclical.

I wished to express to our time and to our existence something of what Dante audaciously recapitulated in his vision. He speaks of his "sight" that "was enriched" when looking at it, changing him interiorly [The textual quotation in English is: "But through the sight, that fortified itself in me by looking, one appearance only to me was ever changing as I changed" (cf. "Paradise," XXXIII, verses 112-114)]. It is precisely this: that faith might become a vision-comprehension that transforms us.

I wished to underline the centrality of faith in God, in that God who has assumed a human face and a human heart. Faith is not a theory that one can take up or lay aside. It is something very concrete: It is the criterion that decides our lifestyle. In an age in which hostility and greed have become superpowers, an age in which we witness the abuse of religion to the point of culminating in hatred, neutral rationality on its own is unable to protect us. We are in need of the living God who has loved us unto death.

Thus, in this encyclical, the subjects "God," "Christ" and "Love" are welded, as the central guide of the Christian faith. I wished to show the humanity of faith, of which "eros" forms part, man's "yes" to his corporeal nature created by God, a "yes" that in the indissoluble marriage between man and woman finds its rooting in creation. And in it, "eros" is transformed into "agape," love for the other that no longer seeks itself but that becomes concern for the other, willingness to sacrifice oneself for him and openness to the gift of a new human life.

The Christian "agape," love for one's neighbor in the following of Christ, is not something foreign, put to one side or something that even goes against the "eros"; on the contrary, with the sacrifice Christ made of himself for man he offered a new dimension, which has developed ever more in the history of the charitable dedication of Christians to the poor and the suffering.

A first reading of the encyclical might perhaps give the impression that it is divided in two parts, that it is not greatly related within itself: a first, theoretical part that talks about the essence of love, and a second part that addresses ecclesial charity, with charitable organizations. However, what interested me was precisely the unity of the two topics, which can only be properly understood if they are seen as only one thing.

Above all, it was necessary to show that man is created to love and that this love, which in the first instance is manifested above all as "eros" between man and woman, must be transformed interiorly later into "agape," in gift of self to the other to respond precisely to the authentic nature of the "eros." With this foundation, it had then to be clarified that the essence of the love of God and of one's neighbor described in the Bible is the center of Christian life, it is the fruit of faith.

Then, it was necessary to underline in a second part that the totally personal act of the "agape" cannot remain as something merely individual, but, on the contrary, it must also become an essential act of the Church as community: that is, an institutional form is also needed that expresses itself in the communal action of the Church. The ecclesial organization of charity is not a form of social assistance that is superimposed by accident on the reality of the Church, an initiative that others could also take.

On the contrary, it forms part of the nature of the Church. Just as to the divine "Logos" corresponds the human announcement, the word of faith, so also to the "Agape," which is God, must correspond the "agape" of the Church, her charitable activity. This activity, in addition to its first very concrete meaning of help to the neighbor, also communicates to others the love of God, which we ourselves have received. In a certain sense, it must make the living God visible. In the charitable organization, God and Christ must not be strange words; in fact, they indicate the original source of ecclesial charity. The strength of "Caritas" depends on the strength of faith of all its members and collaborators.

The spectacle of suffering man touches our heart. But charitable commitment has a meaning that goes well beyond mere philanthropy. God himself pushes us in our interior to alleviate misery. In this way, in a word, we take him to the suffering world. The more we take him consciously and clearly as gift, the more effectively will our love change the world and awaken hope, a hope that goes beyond death.



 VATICAN CITY, JAN 14, 2006 (VIS) - In keeping with an annual tradition, Benedict XVI today received members of the General Inspectorate for Public Security at the Vatican, which oversees safety and security in St. Peter's Square and surrounding streets.

  Safety and order, said the Pope, "require technical and professional training, coupled with no small amount of patience, constant vigilance and a spirit of sacrifice."

   The Holy Father then recalled "the great efforts" made by the Inspectorate and other members of the Italian armed forces during the period of the illness, death and funeral of John Paul II, "and on the occasion of my own election to the See of Peter. I take this opportunity to renew my collaborators' and my own thanks to all those people who, in those historic circumstances, contributed to ensuring that everything proceeded in an orderly and tranquil fashion; the entire world was able to admire the efficiency of the organization."

   After highlighting the importance of "always working in a spirit of harmony and true cooperation," the Pope said: "Families, communities, organizations of all kinds, States, and the world itself would be better if, like a healthy and well-composed body, all members conscientiously and altruistically carried out their duties, however large or small they may be."

   Benedict XVI concluded by appealing: "Let us open our hearts to Christ, and faithfully welcome His Gospel, a precious rule of life for those people who are searching for the true significance of human existence."



VATICAN CITY, JAN 5, 2006 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI received in audience the officials who provide service and assistance during pontifical audiences, ceremonies and official gatherings, collectively known as "Addetti di Anticamera."

After recalling that they form a centuries-old "Collegio" under the Prefecture of the Pontifical Household, the Pope said: "Times change, usage and customs vary, but what remains the same is the spirit with which each of you is called to work alongside the one called by Divine Providence to govern the Universal Church. Since this household, the Pontifical Household, is home to all believers, you too must ensure that it is hospitable to all those who come to visit the Pope."

The Holy Father emphasized the fact that the service of the "Addetti" brings with it a "commitment to bear witness to Him who is the true Lord of the household: Jesus Christ. This involves maintaining constant dialogue with Him in prayer, growing in friendship and intimacy with Him, and remaining prepared to bear witness to His welcoming love with all you meet. If this is the spirit with which you undertake your duties, ... then [those duties] can become a special apostolate, an opportunity to transmit courteously and cordially the joy of being Christ's disciples in all situations and all moments of our lives."

Recalling that tomorrow is the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, the Pope dwelt on the figure of Mary: "Just as she presented Jesus to the Magi, so the Virgin continues to offer Him to all humanity. Let us accept Him from her hands: Christ fulfils the most profound expectations of our hearts and gives meaning to all out plans and actions. May He be present in families and reign everywhere with the power of His love."



VATICAN CITY, DEC 30, 2005 (VIS) - This morning, Benedict XVI visited the Santa Marta Dispensary, which is located in the Vatican. The dispensary assists and helps families from different countries, ethnic backgrounds or religions, focusing on the children. Ten doctors with different specializations collaborate with this center, as well as one psychologist and forty volunteers, coordinated by the Daughters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paoli.

In his speech, the Holy Father pointed out that his visit took on "special significance, because it was during the Christmas period: during these days, our gaze is turned to the Child Jesus". As from the Grotto in Bethlehem, "Jesus knocks at the door of our heart, asking us to make a space for Him in our lives. God is like this: He does not impose Himself, He never enters forcefully, however, like a child, He asks to be listened to. In a certain sense, (...) He waits for us to open our hearts to Him and take care of Him".
After recalling that today was the celebration of the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Pope assured that in seeing the work achieved in the dispensary for all the children and their parents, he wished to underline "the fundamental vocation of the family in being the first and fundamental place for welcoming life. The modern concept of family, also due to a reaction to the past, places great relevance on marital love, underlining the subjective aspects of freedom of choice and sentiments. Whereas it is more difficult to perceive and understand the value of the calling to collaborate with God in the procreation of human life".

He added: "Also, contemporary societies, even with so many means, cannot always simplify the parents' task, on the spiritual and moral motivational level as well as on the level of the practical conditions of life. There is a great need, under the cultural profile as well as the political and legislative one, to sustain the family, and initiatives such as your dispensary are very useful for the above. These are small but important realities and, thanks to God, the Church is full of these and never ceases in making them available to all".
Before finishing, Benedict XVI invited those present "to pray for all the families in Rome and in the world, especially for those going through difficult times, especially those obliged to live far from their original land. We pray for those parents that cannot ensure their children the necessary things for health, instruction, or for a dignified and serene way of life".



VATICAN CITY, DEC 30, 2005 (VIS) - Today in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received the participants of the XXXIII International Congress of the International Federation of "Pueri Cantores", gathered during these days in Rome. This association was created in 1965 by a decree of the Cardinal Vicar of Rome, as a moral institution, proposes the spreading of liturgical music interpreted by children in their scholastic years.
The Pope welcomed the President and manifested his appreciation for the "spirit in which your federation realizes and intends to pursue its mission in the Church, at the service of the liturgy, giving the entire world a message of peace and brotherhood".

The Holy Father continued: "It is particularly opportune during Christmas time to sing praises to the Lord and to express our joy to him, following the example of the Virgin Mary, who was the first person to give grace to the Lord for the Mystery of the Incarnation, with her 'Magnificat', which the Church repeats from generation to generation. (...) Vatican Council II recalled how greatly the Church appreciates the role of those who, with their singing, contribute to the beauty of the liturgy. Because Christ 'is present when the Church prays and sings' and we are united with the heavenly Church".

The Holy Father underlined the importance of the mission of the Pueri Cantores today in "helping the People of God to pray with dignity, because sacred music is a 'ministerial function' in the Divine service. (...) When the Church prays, sings or acts, the faith of the participants is nourished, the souls are raised towards God to give Him spiritual homage and to receive grace with greater abundance".
At the end of the speech, the Pope gave the Apostolic Blessing to all the members of the Federation of Pueri Cantores.


Papal Address to Conference on Genome
"Human Dignity Can't Be Identified With Genes"

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 15, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI gave Nov. 19 to the participants at the international conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers on the theme of the human genome.

* * *

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

I address my cordial greeting to you all, with a special thought of gratitude to Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragáán for the kind greeting he has expressed on behalf of those present.

I offer a special greeting to the bishops and priests who are taking part in this conference as well as the speakers, who have certainly made a highly qualified contribution to the problems addressed in these days: Their reflections and suggestions will be the subject of an attentive evaluation by the competent ecclesial bodies.
Placing myself in the pastoral perspective proper to the pontifical council that has sponsored this conference, I would like to point out that today, especially in the area of breakthroughs in medical science, the Church is being given a further possibility of carrying out the precious task of enlightening consciences, in order to ensure that every new scientific discovery will serve the integral good of the person, with constant respect for his or her dignity.

In underlining the importance of this pastoral task, I would like first of all to say a word of encouragement to those in charge of promoting it.

The contemporary world is marked by the process of secularization. Through complex cultural and social events, it has not only claimed a just autonomy for science and the organization of society, but has all too often also obliterated the link between temporal realities and their Creator, even to the point of neglecting to safeguard the transcendent dignity of human beings and respect for human life itself.

Today, however, secularization in the form of radical secularism no longer satisfies the more aware and alert minds. This means that possible and perhaps new spaces are opening up for a profitable dialogue with society and not only with the faithful, especially on important themes such as those relating to life.

This is possible because, in peoples with a long Christian tradition, there are still seeds of humanism which the disputes of nihilistic philosophy have not yet reached. Indeed, these seeds tend to germinate more vigorously, the more serious the challenges become.

Believers, moreover, know well that the Gospel is in an intrinsic harmony with the values engraved in human nature. Thus, God's image is deeply impressed in the soul of the human being, the voice of whose conscience it is far from easy to silence.

With the Parable of the Sower, Jesus in the Gospel reminds us that there is always good ground on which the seed may fall, spring up and bear fruit. Even people who no longer claim to be members of the Church or even those who have lost the light of faith, nonetheless remain attentive to the human values and positive contributions that the Gospel can make to the good of the individual and of society.

It is particularly easy to become aware of this by reflecting on the topic of your conference: The people of our time, whose sensitivity, moreover, has been heightened by the terrible events that have clouded the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st, easily understand that human dignity cannot be identified with the genes of the human being's DNA and is not diminished by the possible presence of physical differences or genetic defects.

The principle of "non-discrimination" on the basis of physical or genetic factors has deeply penetrated consciences and is formally spelled out in the charters of human rights. The truest foundation of this principle lies in the dignity inherent in every human person because he or she is created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Genesis 1:26).

What is more, a serene analysis of scientific data leads to a recognition of the presence of this dignity in every phase of human life, starting from the very moment of conception. The Church proclaims and proposes this truth not only with the authority of the Gospel, but also with the power that derives from reason. This is precisely why she feels duty bound to appeal to every person of good will in the certainty that the acceptance of these truths cannot but benefit individuals and society.

Indeed, it is necessary to preserve ourselves from the risks of a science and technology that claim total autonomy from the moral norms inscribed in the nature of the human being.

There are many professional bodies and academies in the Church that are qualified to evaluate innovations in the scientific environment, particularly in the world of biomedicine; then there are doctrinal bodies specifically designated to define the moral values to be safeguarded and to formulate norms required for their effective protection; lastly, there are pastoral dicasteries, such as the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care, whose task is to ensure that the Church's pastoral presence is effective.

This third task is not only invaluable with regard to an ever more adequate humanization of medicine, but also in order to guarantee a prompt response to the expectations by each individual of effective spiritual assistance.

Consequently, it is necessary to give pastoral health care a new impetus. This implies renewal and the deepening of the pastoral proposal itself. It should take into account the growing mass of knowledge spread by the media and the higher standard of education of those they target.

We cannot ignore the fact that more and more frequently, not only legislators but citizens too are called to express their thoughts on problems that can be described as scientific and difficult. If they lack an adequate education, indeed, if their consciences are inadequately formed, false values or deviant information can easily prevail in the guidance of public opinion.

Updating the training of pastors and educators to enable them to take on their own responsibilities in conformity with their faith, and at the same time in a respectful and loyal dialogue with nonbelievers, is the indispensable task of any up-to-date pastoral health care. Today, especially in the field of the applications of genetics, families can lack adequate information and have difficulty in preserving the moral autonomy they need to stay faithful to their own life choices.

In this sector, therefore, a deeper and more enlightened formation of consciences is necessary. Today's scientific discoveries affect family life, involving families in unexpected and sensitive decisions that require responsible treatment. Pastoral work in the field of health care thus needs properly trained and competent advisers.

This gives some idea of the complex and demanding management needed in this area today.

In the face of these growing needs in pastoral care, as the Church continues to trust in the light of the Gospel and the power of grace, she urges those responsible to study a proper methodology in order to help individuals, families and society, combining faithfulness and dialogue, theological study and the ability for mediation.

In this, she sets great store especially by the contribution of all, such as you who are gathered here to take part in this international conference and who have at heart the fundamental values that support human coexistence. I gladly take this opportunity to express to you all my grateful appreciation for your contribution in a sector so important for the future of humanity.

With these sentiments, I invoke from the Lord an abundance of enlightenment on your work, and as a testimony of my esteem and affection, I impart a special blessing to you all


Papal Address to Academies of Sciences and Social Sciences
"The Human Person Is at the Heart of the Whole Social Order"

VATICAN CITY, NOV. 21, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today to the members of the Pontifical Academies of Sciences and of Social Sciences, which are located in the Casina Pio IV in the Vatican Gardens.

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Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

I wish to extend my warm greetings to all those taking part in this important gathering. In a special way I wish to thank Professor Nicola Cabibbo, president of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, and Professor Mary Ann Glendon, president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, for their words of welcome. I am also happy to greet Cardinal Angelo Sodano, secretary of state, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini and Cardinal Georges Cottier, who has always been very dedicated to the work of the Pontifical Academies.

I am particularly pleased that the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences has chosen "the concept of the person in social sciences" as the subject to be examined this year. The human person is at the heart of the whole social order and consequently at the very center of your field of study. In the words of St. Thomas Aquinas, the human person "signifies what is most perfect in nature" (S.Th., I, 29, 3). Human beings are part of nature and, yet, as free subjects who have moral and spiritual values, they transcend nature. This anthropological reality is an integral part of Christian thought, and responds directly to the attempts to abolish the boundary between human sciences and natural sciences, often proposed in contemporary society.

Understood correctly, this reality offers a profound answer to the questions posed today concerning the status of the human being. This is a theme which must continue to be part of the dialogue with science. The Church's teaching is based on the fact that God created man and woman in his own image and likeness and granted them a superior dignity and a shared mission towards the whole of creation (cf. Genesis 1 and 2).

According to God's design, persons cannot be separated from the physical, psychological or spiritual dimensions of human nature. Even though cultures change over time, to suppress or ignore the nature that they claim to "cultivate" can have serious consequences. Likewise, individuals will only find authentic fulfillment when they accept the genuine elements of nature that constitute them as persons.

The concept of person continues to bring about a profound understanding of the unique character and social dimension of every human being. This is especially true in legal and social institutions, where the notion of "person" is fundamental. Sometimes, however, even when this is recognized in international declarations and legal statutes, certain cultures, especially when not deeply touched by the Gospel, remain strongly influenced by group-centered ideologies or by an individualistic and secularist view of society. The social doctrine of the Catholic Church, which places the human person at the heart and source of social order, can offer much to the contemporary consideration of social themes.

It is providential that we are discussing the subject of the person as we pay particular honor to my venerable predecessor, Pope John Paul II. In a way, his undisputed contribution to Christian thought can be understood as a profound meditation on the person. He enriched and expanded the concept in his encyclicals and other writings. These texts represent a patrimony to be received, collected and assimilated with care, particularly by the Pontifical Academies.

It is, therefore, with gratitude that I avail myself of this occasion to unveil this sculpture of Pope John Paul II, flanked by two memorial inscriptions. They remind us of the Servant of God's special interest in the work of your Academies, especially the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, founded by him in 1994. They also point to his enlightened readiness to reach out in a dialogue of salvation to the world of science and culture, a desire which is entrusted in a particular way to the Pontifical Academies. It is my prayer that your activities will continue to produce a fruitful interchange between the Church's teaching on the human person and the sciences and social sciences which you represent. Upon all present on this significant occasion, I invoke abundant divine blessings.


Pope's Message for 40th Anniversary of "Nostra Aetate"
"Opened Up a New Era of Relations With the Jewish People"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a message Benedict XVI wrote for the 40th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council declaration "Nostra Aetate."

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To My Venerable Brother
Cardinal Walter Kasper
President of the Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews

Forty years have passed since my predecessor Pope Paul VI promulgated the Second Vatican Council's Declaration on the Church's relation to Non-Christian Religions "Nostra Aetate," which opened up a new era of relations with the Jewish people and offered the basis for a sincere theological dialogue. This anniversary gives us abundant reason to express gratitude to Almighty God for the witness of all those who, despite a complex and often painful history, and especially after the tragic experience of the Shoah, which was inspired by a neo-pagan racist ideology, worked courageously to foster reconciliation and improved understanding between Christians and Jews.

In laying the foundations for a renewed relationship between the Jewish People and the Church, "Nostra Aetate" stressed the need to overcome past prejudices, misunderstandings, indifference, and the language of contempt and hostility. The Declaration has been the occasion of greater mutual understanding and respect, cooperation and, often, friendship between Catholics and Jews. It has also challenged them to recognize their shared spiritual roots and to appreciate their rich heritage of faith in the One God, maker of heaven and earth, who established his covenant with the Chosen People, revealed his commandments and taught hope in those messianic promises which give confidence and comfort in the struggles of life.

On this anniversary, as we look back over four decades of fruitful contacts between the Church and the Jewish People, we need to renew our commitment to the work that yet remains to be done. In this regard, from the first days of my Pontificate and in a particular way during my recent visit to the Synagogue in Cologne, I have expressed my own firm determination to walk in the footsteps traced by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II.

The Jewish-Christian dialogue must continue to enrich and deepen the bonds of friendship which have developed, while preaching and catechesis must be committed to ensuring that our mutual relations are presented in the light of the principles set forth by the Council. As we look to the future, I express my hope that both in theological dialogue and in everyday contacts and collaboration, Christians and Jews will offer an ever more compelling shared witness to the One God and his commandments, the sanctity of life, the promotion of human dignity, the rights of the family and the need to build a world of justice, reconciliation and peace for future generations.

On this anniversary I assure you of my prayers for you and your associates, and for all those who have committed themselves to fostering increased understanding and cooperation between Christians and Jews in accordance with the spirit of "Nostra Aetate." Upon all of you I cordially invoke God's blessings of wisdom, joy and peace.
From the Vatican, Oct. 26, 2005


Benedict XVI's Message for World Day of Migrants and Refugees
"Migration: a Sign of the Times"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the message Benedict XVI wrote for the 92nd World Day of Migrants and Refugees, to be observed Jan. 15.

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Migration: A Sign of the Times

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

The Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, whose rich teaching covers many areas of ecclesial life, closed 40 years ago. The pastoral constitution "Gaudium et Spes," in particular, made a careful analysis of the complexities of the world today, seeking the ways best suited to bring the Gospel message to the men and women of today. To this end the Council Fathers, in response to the appeal of Blessed John XXIII, undertook to examine the signs of the times and to interpret them in the light of the Gospel, so as to offer the new generations the possibility of responding adequately to the eternal questions about this life and the life to come and about just social relations (cf. "Gaudium et Spes." No. 4).

One of the recognizable signs of the times today is undoubtedly migration, a phenomenon which during the century just ended can be said to have taken on structural characteristics, becoming an important factor of the labor market world-wide, a consequence among other things of the enormous drive of globalization. Naturally in this "sign of the times" various factors play a part. They include both national and international migration, forced and voluntary migration, legal and illegal migration, subject also to the scourge of trafficking in human beings. Nor can the category of foreign students, whose numbers increase every year in the world, be forgotten.

With regard to those who emigrate for economic reasons, a recent fact deserving mention is the growing number of women involved ("feminization"). In the past it was mainly men who emigrated, although there were always women too, but these emigrated in particular to accompany their husbands or fathers or to join them wherever they were.
Today, although numerous situations of this nature still exist, female emigration tends to become more and more autonomous. Women cross the border of their homeland alone in search of work in another country. Indeed it often happens that the migrant woman becomes the principal source of income for her family. It is a fact that the presence of women is especially prevalent in sectors that offer low salaries. If, then, migrant workers are particularly vulnerable, this is even more so in the case of women.

The most common employment opportunities for women, other than domestic work, consist in helping the elderly, caring for the sick and work in the hotel sector. These, too, are areas where Christians are called to dedicate themselves to assuring just treatment for migrant women out of respect for their femininity in recognition of their equal rights.

In this context it is necessary to mention trafficking in human beings -- especially women -- which flourishes where opportunities to improve their standard of living or even to survive are limited. It becomes easy for the trafficker to offer his own "services" to the victims, who often do not even vaguely suspect what awaits them. In some cases there are women and girls who are destined to be exploited almost like slaves in their work, and not infrequently in the sex industry too. Though I cannot here closely examine the analysis of the consequences of this aspect of migration, I make my own the condemnation voiced by John Paul II against "the widespread hedonistic and commercial culture which encourages the systematic exploitation of sexuality" (Letter of Pope John Paul II to Women, June 29, 1995, No. 5). This outlines a whole program of redemption and liberation from which Christians cannot withdraw.

Speaking of the other category of migrants -- asylum seekers and refugees -- I wish to underline how the tendency is to stop at the question of their arrival while disregarding the reasons for which they left their native land. The Church sees this entire world of suffering and violence through the eyes of Jesus, who was moved with pity at the sight of the crowds wandering as sheep without a shepherd (cf. Matthew 9:36). Hope, courage, love and "creativity in charity" ("Novo Millennio Ineunte," No. 50) must inspire the necessary human and Christian efforts made to help these brothers and sisters in their suffering. Their native Churches will demonstrate their concern by sending pastoral agents of the same language and culture, in a dialogue of charity with the particular Churches that welcome them.

In the light of today's "signs of the times," particular attention should be paid to the phenomenon of foreign students. Thanks among other factors to foreign exchange programs between universities, especially in Europe, their number is growing, with consequent pastoral problems the Church cannot ignore. This is especially true in the case of students coming from developing countries, whose university experience can become an extraordinary occasion for spiritual enrichment.

As I invoke divine assistance on those who, moved by the desire to contribute to the promotion of a future of justice and peace in the world, spend their energies in the field of pastoral care at the service of human mobility, I impart to all as a sign of affection a special Apostolic Blessing.

From the Vatican, Oct. 18, 2005


Pope's Message for World Food Day
"Dialogue as an Effective Instrument"

VATICAN CITY, OCT. 20, 2005 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of Benedict XVI's message sent to the director general of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, on the occasion of World Food Day, observed Oct. 16.

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To Mr. Jacques Diouf
Director General of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

In this year, which marks the 60th anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture, the celebration of World Food Day reminds us that hunger and malnutrition are, unfortunately, among the most serious scandals that still affect the life of the human family, which makes all the more urgent the action undertaken, under your management, by FAO.

The millions of people whose very lives are threatened, because they are deprived of a minimum of the necessary nourishment, call for the attention of the International Community, because we all have the duty to take care of our brothers. In fact, famine does not depend only on geographic and climatic situations or on unfavorable circumstances linked to harvests. It is also caused by man himself and by his egoism which is translated in deficiencies in the social organization, the rigidity of economic structures too often geared only to profit, and also practices against human life and ideological systems that reduce the person, deprived of his fundamental dignity, to be but an instrument.

True global development, organized and integral, which is desired by all, calls on the contrary to know in an objective manner the human situations, to define the true causes of poverty and to provide concrete answers, with an appropriate formation of persons and communities as a priority. Thus the authentic freedom and responsibility will be activated, which are proper to human action.

The theme chosen for this Day, "Agriculture and Dialogue of Cultures," invites to consider dialogue as an effective instrument to create the conditions of food security. Dialogue calls for combining the efforts of persons and nations, for the service of the common good. Convergence among all the actors, associated to an effective cooperation, can contribute to build "true peace," allowing to overcome the recurrent temptations of conflict because of different cultural views, ethnic groups or levels of development.

It is also important to be directly attentive to human situations, in order to maintain the diversity of models of development and of forms of technical assistance, according to the particular conditions of each country and community, whether the conditions are economic or environmental or even social, cultural and spiritual.

Technical progress will not be really effective unless it finds its place in a wider perspective, where man occupies the center, concerned with taking into account the totality of his needs and aspirations, because, as Scripture says, "man does not live by bread alone" (Deuteronomy 8:3; Matthew 4:4). This will also allow all peoples to draw from their patrimony of values, to share their own riches, both spiritual and material, for the benefit of all.

The ambitious and complex objectives that your Organization sets for itself will not be able to be attained unless the protection of human dignity, origin and end of fundamental rights, becomes the criterion that inspires and orients all efforts. The Catholic Church, which also participates in actions geared to really harmonious development, in collaboration with the partners present in the field, wishes to encourage the activity and efforts of FAO so that it will inspire, at its level, a true dialogue of cultures and thus contribute to enhance the capacity to feed the world population, in respect of biodiversity. In fact, the human being must not imprudently compromise the natural balance, fruit of the order of creation, but, on the contrary, must watch over the transmission to future generations of an earth capable of feeding them.

In this spirit, I pray to the Almighty to bless the very necessary mission of FAO and the commitment of its directors and employees, in view of guaranteeing daily bread to each member of the human family.

From the Vatican, 12 October 2005