| 3/4/2006 4:16 PM
Photo: Osservatore Romano
The Holy Father received at noon today in Aula Paolo VI the members of the Unione Christiana Imprenditori Dirigenti (UCID) [Union of Christian Entrepreneurs and Managers], to whom he addresssed the following words. The delegation was accompanied by Cardinal Ennio Antonelli. These were the words of the Pope after greetings from Cardinal Antonelli and the UCID President
3/4/06 MESSAGE TO CHRISTIAN EMPLOYERS
… I have been struck specially by the intention you have expressed for an ethic which goes beyond mere professional obligation, which, in today’s context, is in itself of no little value. This has made me think of the relation between justice and charity, to which I dedicated a specific reflection in the second part of the encyclical Deus caritas est
.(nn 26-29). The Christian is called on always to seek justice, but carries in him the impulse of love which goes beyond justice itself
. The road taken by Christian laymen, from the middle of the 19th century to the present, has led them to the awareness that works of charity should not be a substitute for the commitment to social justice
The social doctrine of the Church and, above all, the actions of so many aggregations of Christian inspiration, like yours, demonstrate how much progress the ecclesiastical community has made in this direction. In recent times, thanks as well to the teaching and witness of the Roman Pontiffs, particularly of the beloved John Paul II, it is much clearer to all of us how justice and charity are the two inseparable aspects of the Christian’s social commitment. To the lay faithful, in particular, to work for a just order in society means participating directly in public life, cooperating with other citizens as a personal responsibility
(cfr Deus caritas est, 29). In doing this, they are inspired by “social charity,” which makes them attentive to other persons as individuals who are in situations of major difficulty and concern, who also have non-material needs
. (cfr ivi, 28b).
Two years ago, thanks to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, the Compenduum of the Social Doctrine of the Church was published. It is a formative instrument that is particularly useful to those who allow themselves to be guided by the Gospel in their professional work. I am sure that you yourselves have studied this document attentively, and I hope that for each of you and the local sections of the UCID, it becomes a constant point of reference in examining issues, elaborating plans, and looking for answers to the complex problems in the world of labor and the economy. Indeed, it is precisely in this area that you actualize an irrenounceable part of your mission as lay Christians, and therefore, of your own path to sanctification.
I have also seen with interest the “Bill of Values” of the youth of UCID and I congratulate you on the positive spirit and confidence in the human being that inspire it. Every “I believe” in the statement comes with “I am committed to…”, thus emphasizing the coherence between strong belief and a consequent effort to make it operative
. In particular, I appreciate the proposition that each human person must be valued for who he is and what he can give according to his own gifts, and avoiding any form of exploitation, as well as the importance accorded to the family and to personal responsibility.
These are values which unfortunately, due to current economic difficulties, often risk not being followed by entrepreneurs who do not have a solid moral inspiration. That is why the contribution of whoever upholds these values through their Christian training is important, and cannot be taken for granted but should always be nourished and renewed.
Dear friends, in a few days we will celebrate the feast of St. Joseph, aptron of workers. I am sure that veneration of him has always been present in the history of your association. On my part, as one who even carries his name, I am happy to point to him not only as a celestial protector and intercessor for every deserving initative, but first of all, as a confidant for your prayers, your regular commitments, with your share of satisfactions and disappointments, your daily life and, I would say, your tenacious seeking for the justice of God in human things. St. Joseph will help you put into practice Jesus’s challenging exhortation: “First seek the kingdom of God and its justice.” (Mt 6, 33).
May the Virgin Mary always help you in all your works of social charity which will disseminate through example and action the Gospel of charity. And finally, may you be accompanied by the Apostolic Blessing which I grant to you, and to all your associates and family members.
What a wonderful picture from Avvenire, taken at the Pope's meeting with the UCID and their families earlier today
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| 3/5/2006 7:39 PM
| It's taken me a while to finish translating the transcript released by the Vatican Press Office Friday of the meeting between the Pope and the Roman clergy on Thursday, March 2. The Pope did not give a prepared speech, instead he gave extemporaneous answers to questions that were placed before him.
POPE'S Q&A WITH THE ROMAN CLERGY on 3/2/06 - Part 1
Following a brief greeting by Cardinal Ruini, ten priests presented questions, after which the Holy Father gave his answers. [I have modified the Vatican bulletin - which first gave the Pope's part of the encounter in full, and then followed with a 'synthesis' of the priest's interventions. Here, I present first the synthesis of the priest’s question or intervention, followed by the Pope’s specific answer.] After the Pope’s answers to the first 10 questions, five other priests presented their questions, and the Pope gave specific answers a second time.
Unfortunately, the ‘synthesis’ provided of the priest’s interventions is rather erratic, sometimes omitting portions to which the Pope makes a specific reply. Also unfortunately, too many of the interventions sound like the priest is preaching to the Pope. Obviously, they wished to avail of the occasion to air their views on their pet issues.
Still, the variety of concerns raised by the 15 “interventors“ gave the Pope an opportunity to speak on a range of issues he may not otherwise have addressed in public. As the pictures show, the Pope took notes during the encounter, and presumably answered the questions from the notes he took.
The first to speak was Father Lucio Maria Zappatore, Carmelite, parish priest of Santa Maria Regina Mundi in Torre Spaccata (east sector, 16th prefecture).
Most blessed Father, it is the first time that we meet with you for this Lenten appointment. I would like to recall the beloved servant of God John Paul II. The last time that we met him in Lent 2004, he greeted us with thee sentences [in the Roman dialect] which have since become famous around the world - Damose da fa; Volemose bene; Semo Romani
[Give us something to do; Let us love each other; We are Romans.] We, the parish priests of Rome, have guarded those words zealously in our hearts as his spiritual testament.
But now we must look ahead. Today we are meeting with the new Pope. I wanted to single out a sign of continuity between you and your beloved predecessor in the sentence that you pronounced during Papa Wojtyla’s funeral. A phrase which for a moment interrupted the sorrow in our hearts and caused the crowd in St. Peter’s Square to erupt in thunderous and interminable applause, when you said: “We can be sure that our beloved Pope is now at the window of the house of the Lord, looking down on us and blessing us.” In that moment, all of us realized that we were already in front of the next Pope.
Fr. Zappatore then read a poemm he had written in the Roman dialect entitled “In the window up in heaven”, which he dedicated to Benedict XVI. [The text of the poem was not provided by the Vatican transcript; it was published in the Italian press].
"Dio, che pace, che luce:
finarmente so' giunto anch'io quassù.
Ma sai ch'edè?
Me sento ancora preso
co' la mente a guardà giù,
p'annà a vedè che c'è.
Famme apri 'sta finestra:
giù se sente un bisbijo
de canti e nun zocchè.
Anvedi là a San Pietro
quanta gente che sta
a fa er funerale proprio a me!
L'ho cercati p' er monno da quer dì:
per cui se spiega come a sta magnera,
li giovani mo stanno tutti lì.
Ma senti er Cardinale che sta a dì:
com'ha fatto a vedemme
da la tera affacciato
'n finestra a bbenedì?
'Chiuda la finestra!' No!!!
Nun è ora: dovemo continuà
a parlacce ancora".
Rough translation -
God, what peace, what light!
Finally I too have arrived here.
But do you know?
I still feel bound to look down there
and see what’s happening.
Let me open this window:
I can hear murmurs,
singing, I know not what.
Oh, just look at St. Peter’s Square –
How many people there are
who have come for my funeral!
“I looked for you that day” –
That must explain why
they are all there today.
But I hear what the cardinal just said :
how could he have seen me
facing down from this window
to give my blessing?
Close the window? No!
We must continue
to speak to each other.
I will speak right away, otherwise my monologue will become too long if I wait for all the interventions to finish first. I wish first of all to express my joy to be here with you, dear priests of Rome. It is a real joy to see so many good pastors in the service of the “Good Shepherd” here, in the primary seat of Christianity, in the church which “presides in charity” and which should be a model for other local churches. Thank you for your service!
We have the luminous example of Don Andrea, who shows us the priestly “being” to the core: to die for Christ in a moment of prayer and thus bear witness on the one hand, to the interiority of his own life in Christ, and on the other hand, his own witness to all men of a phenomenon which is really “pan-perioheral” in the world today - surrounded by the hate and fanaticism of others. It is a testimony that inspires us all to follow Christ in giving our life for others and to find true Life thereby.
With regard to this first intervention, I address first of all a big Thank you for this marvelous poem! There are poets and artists in the Church of Rome, among its priests, and I will have the chance to meditate and interiorize these beautiful words, and to realize that this “window” is always “open.” Perhaps this is the occasion to recall the fundamental legacy of the great Pope John Paul II so we can continue to assimilate even more of that legacy.
Yesterday, we marked the start of Lent. Today’s liturgy offers us a profound indication of the essential significance of Lent: it is a signpost for our life. And so it seems to me – I speak with reference to Pope John Paul II – that we should dwell a bit on the first Reading for today. The great discourse of Moses on the threshold of the Holy Land, after 40 years of wandering in the desert, is a summary of all the Torah, all the Laws. We find in it the essence not only for the Hebrew people but also for us. The essence is the word of God: “I have placed before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore, choose life.” (Dt 30, 19). These fundamental words of Lent are also the fundamental words of the legacy from our great Pope John Paul II: choose life. This is our priestly vocation: that we ourselves choose life and help others to choose life. It means that during Lent we must renew what we might call our “fundamental option,” the option for life
Immediately the question arises: how does one choose life? How is it done? Reflecting on this question, I realized that the great defection from Christianity that has taken place in the West in the past hundred years, took place precisely in the name of choosing for life
. It has been said – I think of Nietsche but also of so many others – that Christianity is an option against life. With the Cross, with all the commandments, with all the No’s that it puts forward, it closes the door to life. “But we, we want to have life, and we choose, we opt finally for life by ridding ourselves of the Cross, of all these Commandments and all these No’s. We want to have life in abundance, nothing but life. “ That is what they say.
So the words of the Gospel today come to mind right away: “Whoever wishes to save his own life will lose it; but whoever loses his own life for me will save it” (Lk 9, 24). This is the paradox that we ought to keep in mind always, in choosing for life. Not by arrogating life for ourselves but giving life – we can find life not by taking it but by giving it. That is the ultimate meaning of the Cross: not to take life for oneself but to give it
And so, the old and the new testaments go together. In the first Reading from Deuteronomy, the Lord answers: “Today I command you to love the Lord your God, to walk in his ways, to observe his commands, his laws and his norms, so that you may live.” (30,16). This, at first glance, will not please us, but it is the way: the option for life and the option for God are identical
. The Lord says it in the Gospel of St. John [Christ addressing his Father]: “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God…”(Jn 17,3).
Human life is a relationship. Only in relationship, not closed in ourselves, can we have life. And the fundamental relationship is that with our Creator, without which all other relationships are fragile. Therefore, choose God – this is essential. A world that is empty of God, a world that has forgotten God, loses life and falls into a culture of death. To choose life, to exercise the option for life, therefore, is above everything to choose the option of relating to God
. Next will arise the question: which God? Again, the Gospel helps us – (we must relate to) the God who has shown us his face in Christ, with the God who defeated hate on the Cross, therefore, with God who is love without end. In choosing this God, we choose life.
Pope John Paul II gave us the great encyclical Evangelium vitae
, the gospel of life. In it – which is almost a portrait of the problems in today’s culture, of its hopes and its dangers – it is shown that a society which forgets God, which excludes God in its search for “life”, falls instead into a culture of death. In order to have “life”, this society says “No” to children, because they will take away part of my life; it says “No” to the future, in order to have everything now; it says “No” to life before it is born as well as to the life which suffers and is dying. This apparent culture of life becomes the anti-culture of death, where God is absent, where God, who does not command hate but triumphs over it, is absent. Whereas we (should) take the true option for life. Everything is connected: the most profound option for the Crucified Christ is the most complete option for life, from its first moment to its last.
This, it seems to me, is also the nucleus of our ministry: to help others take the true option for life, to renew the relationship with God as that which gives us life and shows the way to life. It is to love Christ afresh, he who from the most unknowable of Being, which we will never know and which will remain an engima, became a known God, a God with human face, a God who is love. Let us always keep this in mind as the fundamental point in life, one in which all of Scriptures is present, from the Old Testament to the New, which has Christ at its center.
Lent for us ourselves should be a time to renew our acquaintance with God, our friendship with Jesus, so we can be capable of guiding others convincingly to take the option for life, which is above all else, an option for God
. It must be very clear to us ourselves that in choosing Christ we have not chosen a negation of life but rather that we have truly chosen life in abundance.
The Christian option is basically very simple: it is the option of saying “Yes” to life. But this “Yes” can be realized only with a God we know, a God with a human face. It can be realized following this God in the communion of love
. What I have been saying up to this point is a way to refresh our memories of the great Pope John Paul II.
(End of answer to first intervention)
I must break up the posting into several parts because otherwise, the system logs me out before I have placed all the text enhancements
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| 3/5/2006 7:57 PM
POPE'S Q&A WITH THE ROMAN CLERGY ON 3/2/06 - Part 2
Fr. Flavio Allegro, of the Josephine order, parish priest of St. Leonardo Murialdo (south sector, 2rd prefecture), started off his intervention with recalling a meeting some 10 years ago with then Cardinal Ratzinger in front of the Creche at St. Peter’s Square
I came forward to greet you, and the numerous crowd around us, when they recognized you, started to clap. And you, with all graciousness, indicating an old lady who was standing next to you, said to them, ‘Don’t clap for me. Clap for this lady who is a mother.’
Fr. Allegro said he recalled the incident because he wanted to find out, as a parish priest, how he could bring words of comfort and joy to the women of this parish
Remembering our own mothers, their faith and the spiritual force they used in our human and Christian formation, help us, Your Holiness, to speak to the mothers of all children, who attend catechism lessons but are often distracted or conveniently absent. Please say something we can take back to them and say, this is what the Pope wishes to tell you.
We come to the second intervention, so charming, regarding mothers. I would say that right now I cannot tell you of any great program or words that you could tell all mothers. Simply tell them: The Pope thanks you! He thanks you because you have given life, because you wish to help new life grow, thus contructing a human world, contributing to a human future. And you are doing it not only by giving biological life, but by communicating the center of life, making your children know Jesus, introducing them to an awareness of Christ, to friendship with Jesus. This is the basis of every catechism. We should thank all mothers above all for having the courage to generate life. And we should urge them to complete this giving of life by also giving (their children) the gift of friendship with Christ
Don Alberto Pacini is rector of St. Anastasia al Palatino, which was entrusted to the Olivetan Benedictines from 1959 to 1999, and during the Jubilee Year 2000 was re-opened after 32 years of restoration. Since then, the church has been a place of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, day and night. It is open 24 hours a day with the Most Holy Sacrament exposed for the veneration of the faithful who come in shifts. It has generated 14 other similar initiatives, another one in Rome and the rest in other parts of Italy. It has also become the seat of an active movement for Eucharistic evangelization. The rector said
My proposal, my suggestion, my desire, my aspiration – is that there should be in each of the five sectors of Rome a perpetual Eucharistic Adoration, in addition to the 6 already held by religious orders primarily in the west sector, including the parish of the Mother of Divine Providence. Since the Church of Rome is supposed to preside in ‘eucharistic charity,’ it is to be hoped that in such places, an encounter with the Eucharist could help regenerate the Church – in terms of vocations, evangelization, confessions – because the Lord attracts his children wherever Jesus is exposed, where there is constant prayer.
Regarding the third intervention from the Rector of St. Anastasia, I might perhaps say, incidentally, that this church was already dear to me before I ever saw it because it was the titular church of our Cardinal Faulhaber. He always reminded us that in Rome he had his own church. We have always “met” this community in the second Mass on Christmas Day, which is dedicated to the “station” of St. Anastasia.
The historians say that in that place, the Pope had to visit the Byzantine governor who had his seat there. On that day, the Church wishes to remind us of the saint herself, as well as of “anastasis”, that is to say, that even on Christmas, we must also think of the Resurrection.
I did not know, and I am happy to be informed, that the Church is now the site of perpetual Eucharistic Adoration; it is therefore a focal point in the life of the faithful in Rome. This proposal to create 5 places of Perpetual Adoration in each of the five sectors of Rome, I entrust into the hands of the Cardinal Vicar (Ruini).
I simply want to say: Thanks be to God, that after the Council, after a period in which the Eucharistic Adoration was perhaps a bit forgotten, the joy in adoration has been reborn everywhere in the Church, as we saw and felt during the Eucharistic Synod. Certainly, with the Conciliar Constitution on the liturgy, the richness of celebrating the Eucharist was rediscovered, through which is realized the Lord’s testament – He gives himself to us and we respond by giving ourselves to him.
But now we have also rediscovered that this ‘center’ which the Lord has given us to celebrate his sacrifice and therefore enter into sacramental, and almost corporal, communion with him, loses its profundity and even its human richness if Adoration does not follow the Communion that we receive. Adoration is entering profoundly with our hearts into communion with the Lord, who is bodily present in the Eucharist. In the Ostensorium he is always at hand to us, and he invites us to unite ourselves with his presence, with his resurrected body
In his brief intervention, Don Andrea Leonardo, parish priest of Santa Melania Juniore (south sector, 27th prefecture) called Benedict XVI “Master” in orienting our thoughts to a faith that is “fully human
We are always touched by your interventions, in whose harmony every point finds its center, its relations and its linkages. This is even more touching at a time when everything is fragmented and in pieces. Your ability helps us because it is a living synthesis, not abstract, which brings together the man of yesterday with the man of today, which reaches the non-believer as well as many other ways of thinking. Could you help us by telling us how you matured in these teaching, from the time you were a seminarian. How can we understand more, how can we ourselves grow as Roman priests, how can we help laymen to understand this harmonious synthesis, this catholicity of the faith, so that they may be able to meet, touch and illuminate that which is our life today?
Now, we come to the fourth question. If I understood right, but I am not sure, it was: “How does one arrive at a living faith, to a faith that is truly catholic, to faith that is concrete, alive and effective?” In the last instance, faith is a gift. Therefore the first thing is to allow oneself to be given something, not to be self-sufficient, not do everything by ourselves, because we cannot, but to be open to the awareness that the Lord truly gives. It seems to me that this act of being open is also the first act in prayer: to be open to the presence of the Lord and to his gifts. It is the first step in receiving something which we cannot do and which we will not receive if we intend to do everything by ourselves. We should enter into this willingness to accept the gift and to let this gift permeate our thought, our emotions, our will.
Here, it seems to me most important to underscore an essential point: no one believes all by himself. We believe in and with the Church always. The creed is always a shared act, allowing one’s self to belong to a community on a path in life, a communion in word and in deed. We do not “make” faith, in the sense, above all, that it is God who gives it to us. But we do not “make” faith either in the sense that it should not be invented by us. We should let it come to us in the communion of faith within the Church.
To believe is a catholic act in intself. It is to participate in this great certainty which is present in the living reality of the Church. Only thus can we understand Sacred Scripture in all the diversity of interpretation that has developed over thousands of years. Scripture is an expression of the subject – the people of God – which remains the same throughout its pilgrimage (through life).
Naturally, it is a subject that does not speak of itself, it is a subject created by God – the classical expression is “inspired by God” – a subject which receives then translates and communicates this word. This synergy is very important. We know that the Koran, according to Islamic faith, is the word directly spoken by God, without any human mediation. The Prophet has nothing to do with it. He merely wrote it down and communicated it. It is the pure word of God – that is what Islam believes.
But for us, God enters into communion with us, he makes us cooperate, he creates this subject and in this subject, his word grows and develops. This human part is essential; it gives us the possibility to see how the individual words truly become the Word of God in the unity of all Scriptures about the living subject that is the people of God.
Therefore, the first element is a gift of God; the second is participation in the faith of the people in pilgrimage, communication within the Church, which for its part, receives the Word of God, which is the Body of Christ, animated by the living word, by divine Logos. They are not two opposing things of which one must ask, is it more about the Church or more about the Word of God? One is only in the Church, is part of the Church, becomes a member of the Church, if one lives in the Word of God, which the life force of the Church. And whoever lives the Word of God can live it only because it is alive and vital in the living Church.
Don Gennaro Perucatti, Salesian, vice parish priest of St. John Bosco (east sector, 20th prefecture)spoke of Pope Pius XII
On March 2, 1876, Eugenio Pacelli was born in Rome and on March 2, 1939, he was elected Pope. On this great Pope has fallen a shroud of silence. He was consecrated Bishop by Benedict XV in the Sistine Chapel on May 13, 1917, whem Mary appeared in Fatima and when Mary of Cleova in Russia was attacked by Bolshevik horses who murdered children having catechism. Pius XII loved Mary; he was the Pope who proclaimed the dogma of the Assumption, the Pope of the Marian Year. He loved the Popes and was the last one to canonize a Pope, St. Pius X. He loved young people and canonized Maria Goretti and Domenico Savio….
We really owe a lot to this Pontiff, but it seems to me that when one goes down to the Vatican grottoes, one cannot find his tomb because the routing makes it difficult. There is not even a flower on his tomb. Your Holiness, give us back this great Pontiff, the Angelic Pastor, who loved Germany, and even the Germans loved him when he was the Apostolic Nuncio to Berlin….
Truly all of us hope that along with the servants of God John Paul II, Paul VI, John Paul I and Blessed John XXIII, we shall also see on the altar Eugenio Pacelli, Pius XII.
The fifth question was about Pius XII. Thank you for this intervention. He was the Pope of my youth. We all venerated him. As you have rightly stated, he loved the German people greatly and defended them even in the great catastrophe that followed the war. And I must add that before he became Nuncio to Berlin, he was the Nuncio to Munich, because initially, there was no Papal Representation in Berlin. So he was truly close to us.
I take this occasion to express thanks to all the great Popes of the past century. It opened with St. Pius X, then Benedict XV, Pius XI, Pius XII, John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I, John Paul II. It seems to me this was a special gift in a century that was so difficult, with two world wars and two destructive ideologies, fascism-Nazism and Communism. In that century which saw opposition to the Church, the Lord gave us a succession of great Popes, and therefore a spiritual legacy which, I would say, confirmed historically the truth of the Primacy of Peter’s Successor.
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Don Paolo Ricciardi, parish priest of St. Silvia (west sector, 29th prefecture) started from the premise that the Diocese of Rome in these years has been looking into how best to respond to the requests and needs of families today.
POPE'S Q&A WITH THE ROMAN CLERGY on 3/2/06 - Part 3
We need to revitalize the family, make the family not the object but the subject of our ministry, giving our communities a familial atmosphere, in which no one feels excluded.
The family is menaced by the relativism and indifference of our times. The children in catechism class often express a strong, barely-hidden desire for family. Often their fathers are absent; their grandparents are always too busy. There are families which no longer seem to be families, and even in the children’s education, the parents appear to have given up, especially with adolescents.
It is not easy to support and aid families these days. In our pastoral programs we are trying to find out new paths beyond the traditional ways - family catechisms, meetings with the parents before and after baptism, familial meetings. I believe that families today have a thirst for human relations, for a rediscovery of such relations, a need to be welcomed, a need for an opening. They need priests who are expert in human relations to help them know the God who became man out of love for us, sharing the joys and the trials of every man, and who continuously makes himself a gift to the family.
Don Paolo considers it particularly enriching to be able to accompany engaged couples into matrimony
They come from diverse situations. Many have not set foot in the parish since Confirmation or First Communion. They arrive a bit wary, but when they feel themselves welcomed, loved and not judged, they discover in the community a spring which reawakens their faith. The pre-matrimonial courses then become a path to the rediscovery of God and of the Church, paths in which it is the word of God that should be preached and shared.
Engaged couples need a credible and enthusiastic announcement of the love of God, which will be manifest to them in the nuptial sacrament. Like all the famllies that we encounter, they need someone who will not only talk to them about God, but also, together with them, talk to God and listen to God. Then so many of these couples ask to continue on the path of faith even after marriage,. And this is becoming a valuable new way to fllow even if it is demanding.
He thinks it is necessary to accompany newlyweds on this path right away
They must be made to feel important; they must be helped to re-live the sacramental grace of matrimony; to enter into their homes as a friend, perhaps, in order to pray together, introducing them to other families who have already been on the path for some time. To come closer to married couples is a grace even for us in the priesthood: both vocations not only complement each other but need each other.
Finally, he thanked Benedict XVI in the name of families for having dedicated his first encyclical to love. He concluded by citing the theatrical work written by John Paul II, “The Goldsmith’s Shop” (La Bottega dell’Orefice) which describes the path, tortouous or serene, of three married couples whose wedding rings all came from the same goldsmith
Help us, Holiness, to help families keep their eye on the Goldsmith who weighs the faith of spouses on the scales of his love.
The next intervention dedicated to the family was by the parish priest of St. Silvia. I can only be in total agreement on this matter. Even in the ad limina visits, I always speak to the Bishops about the family which is menaced in different ways around the world.
It is threatened in Africa, where the transition is difficult from ‘mariage coutumier’ (customary or traditional “ marriage) to a religious or sacramental marriage, because they are afraid of “definitiveness.” While in the West, the fear of having children is motivated by the fear of losing something in life, it is the opposite in Africa: until it has been proven that a woman can have children, they will not risk a “definitive’ marriage. Therefore the number of religious marriages remains comparatively small, and many wh consider themselves “good Christians,” even with the best will to be good Christians, do not complete this last step.
Matrimony is threatened in Latin America for other reasons, and is strongly threatened as we know in Western societies. Which is why we are more obliged, as a Church, to help families, who are the fundamental cell of every healthy society. Only in the family can one create a communion between generations, in which the memory of the past lives in the present and opens to the future.
And that is how life should continue and go forward. True progress is not possible without this continuity, and again, not without the religious element. Without trust in God, trust in Christ who gives us the capacity for faith and for living, the family cannot survive. We see it today. Only faith in Christ and participation in the faith of the Church can save the family, and conversely, the Church will live only if the family can be saved.
I do not have the formula for how to do this, but we should always keep it in mind. We should do everything we can that promotes the family – family circles, family catechism, teaching families to pray together. This to me seems very important: where people pray together, the Lord is present;
that power becomes present which can break through even “sclerocardia” – that hardness of heart which, according to the Lord, is the true reason for divorce. Nothing else, only the presence of the Lord can help us to really live according to what our Creator has wanted from the very beginning, as renewed by the Redeemer.
First, teach family prayer and that way, invite to praying with the Church. Then you will find all the other ways.
Don Marco Valentini, parish vicar of St. Jerome in Corviale (west sector, 31st prefecture), drew inspiration from his acquaintance with a mother and some nuns engaged in helping priests in crisis
This experience has made me think: why not employ women in governing the Church? Their point of view when decisions have to be made is different from the masculine. A woman often works at the charismatic level through prayer, or at the practical level, as St. Catherine of Siena did in bringing the Pope back to Rome [from Avignon]. And so, it would be good to give women a role at the institutional level and see the feminine point of view which is different from the male’s, in order to help not only priests in crisis but all priests when they have to make demanding decisions.
I will now answer the vice parish priest of St. Jerome – I see that you are very young [40, according to an Italian news item]–who has spoken to us of how much women do for the Church, even for the priests themselves.
I can only underscore something that has always made a great impression on me in the special prayer for priests in the First Canon, the Roman one: “Nobis quoque peccatoribus” [we are also sinners]. In this realistic humility of the priest, we as sinners pray to the Lord so he may help us to be his servants. In this prayer for the priest, and only in this, seven women are mentioned [Felicita, Perpetua, Agata, Lucia, Agnese, Cecilia, Anastasia] who surround the priest, showing us precisely how women believers help us along our way. Each of us has certainly experienced it. Thus the Church has a great debt of gratitude to women. And rightly so.
You have underscored how, at the charismatic level, women do so much, I dare to say, in helping to govern the Church, starting with the sisters of the great Fathers of the Church like St. Ambrose, and the great women of the Middle Ages – St. Hildegarde [of Bingen], St. Catherine of Siena, St. Teresa of Avila - and down the line to Mother Teresa. I would say that this charismatic sense is certainly distinct from the ministerial in the strict sense of the word, but it is a true and profound participation in the governance of the Church.
How can one imagine the governance of the Church without this contribution, which sometimes becomes very visible, as when St. Hildegarde criticized the Bishops, or when St. Bridget and St. Catherine of Siena admonished and thereby obtained the return of the Popes to Rome? It is always a determining factor without which the Church cannot live.
Nonetheless, you say: we want to see women even more visibly as ministers of the Church. Let us put the matter this way. The priestly ministry from the Lord is, as we know, reserved for men, insofar as the priestly ministry is governing in the profound sense – it is the Sacrament that governs the Church.This is a decisive point. It is not man as a man who does something, it is the priest faithful to his mission who governs because he is a Sacrament, and through his Sacrament, Christ himself governs, be it through the Eucharist or through the other Sacraments - it is always Christ who presides.
Nonetheless, it is right to ask ourselves if even in the ministerial service – despite the fact that Sacrament and charism are the binary through which the Church is realized – we may not offer more space, more positions of responsibility to women.
[NOTE: It is interesting that the Vatican transcript omits the line attributed to the Pope which made the lead in some Italian news items the other day on this question of the role of women: namely that priesthood is “a sacrament, not a power which the Church can exercise at its pleasure
Mons. Lorenzo Minuti, director of the Roman section of GRIS (group of research and information on sects) to whom the CEI (Italian bishops conference) has entrusted the mission of recovering victims of religious sects, thanked Benedict XVI in the name of these victims
I thank you for the multiple denunciations you have made of the damage caused by such sects, and I do not need to go into facts which are well-known to you – the irreversible damage to faith, the shipwreck of so many families, lacerated by the sectarian adherence of family members; the lives lost by so many sucides provoked by the climate of terror and deviation induced by such sects and their appropriation of goods. All of these provoked not by elebatorate doctrines but by subtle and small tricks, which are well hidden and unsuspected, beneath a veneer of altered history, Bible passages and other authoritative citations – latent but effective, devised precisely in order to raise doubts, impress gullible minds and gain confidence which is misplaced.
So many simple-minded persons, incapable of discovering the tricks themselves, are like those unfortunate persons who found themselves on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho. They need the help of priests who are experienced and armed with al lthe right information. Holy Father, is the preparation of such Good Samaritans not an urgent need? Would such preparation be out of place in the seminaries, in specific university courses and in the continuing formation of priests who are already taking care of souls?
Finally, Mons. Minuti quoted an Anti-Pope, Hyppolitus of Rome, who wrote that in Rome at the time, they taught everything on religious matters but ‘in complice ombra’ [I need a Latinist to translate the phrase correctly]. And so the members of GRIS ask the blessing of Peter that their hopes (in this matter) may be upheld
I did not understand everything that was said in the eighth intervention. In essence, I understood that today man, walking from Jerusalem to Jericho, meets robbers along the way, and the Good Samaritan helps with the mercy of the Lord. I can only say that in the end, it is man who falls, and falls yet again, among thieves, and it is Christ who can heal us. We must and can aid the good Samaritan, both in the service of love as in the service of faith which is also a ministry of love.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 05/03/2006 20.31]
| 3/5/2006 8:51 PM
Don Alfio D’Agostino, parish priest of the Holy Martyrs of Uganda on the Laurentine Hill (south sector, 22nd prefecture), wished to share a personal experience. He recalled the 3rd of June 1999 when Cardinal Ruini assigned him to his present task
POPE'S Q&A WITH THE ROMAN CLERGY on 3/2/06 - Part 4
Today I thank God for the enrichment that has come to me from this pastoral experience. it occurred to me that June 3 was the feast of the patron saints of the parish, which is served by 2 priest vicars, a deacon who will be ordained priet on May 7, and another priest who comes to help us. We try to be priests as best we can and to pray together.”
As the priest did not really have a question, the Pope took the occasion to speak about the Church in Africa
From the Martyrs of Uganda church. Thank you for your intervention. It makes us think of the African continent, which is the great hope of the Church.
In the past months I have received a great part of the African bishops who have come for their ad-limina visits. It has been for me very edifying and even consoling to see bishops of such high theological and cultural attainment, zealous bishops who are truly animated by the joy of faith.
We know that the Church is in good hands, but it continues to suffer because most African nations are still unformed. In Europe, it was precisely through Christianity, beyond the races that existed, that the body of nations was formed, the great languages, and thus, a community of culture and spaces for peace, although later these spaces of peace, in opposition among themselves, also created a new kind of war that had not existed before.
However, in Africa, we still have many parts in which dominant tribes rule. The colonial powers imposed frontiers within which nations should take shape. But it is still a problem to arrive at the desired unity, and to find beyond race divisions, unity in a democratic government, and the possibility of opposing colonial abuses which continue.
Africa continues to be, from the part of the great powers, an object of abuse, and many conflicts today would not be what they are if the interests of the great powers were not somehow behind them. But I have seen how the Church, in its catholic unity, is a great factor which can unite dispersions.
In many situations, today especially - (like) after the major war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo - the Church remains the only reality that functions and enables life to go on, gives the necessary assistance, guarantees coexistence and helps to find a possibility of realizing togetherness. In this sense, and in such situations, the Church discharges a substitute service on the political level, to enable the possibility of living together, to reconstruct communities after the destructions of war, and to reconstruct the spirit of reconciliation, as well, after the eruption of hate. Many have told me that in these situations, the sacrament of Penance is of great importance as a force of reconciliation and should be administered in this sense.
I wanted to say, briefly, that Africa is a continent of great hope, of an ecclesiastical reality that is most moving, of zealous priests and bishops. But it is always a continent that needs our fraternal help, after the destructions we have brought to it from Europe. This help can only arise from faith which leads to unviersal charity beyond human divisions. This is our great responsibility in these times.
Europe has imported its ideologies and its interests, but has also imported the element of healing through its missions. More so today, we have the responsibility to have a zealous faith ourselves, which is communicated in wanting to help others, which is also aware that bringing the faith is not to introduce a force of alienation but to give the true gift which every man needs as a creature of love.
Fr. Damiano La Manna, of the Barefoot Carmelites, is vice parish priest St. Teresa of Avila and the driving force behind the Carmelite Movement of Rome. He said
My three services, my three obediences – to the religious life, to the diocesan Church and to an ecclesiastical movement – make me happy in my vocation, but also make me look at the reality of Rome with concern.
I think of following the Lord in obedience doing the normal parish things: meetings, leading catechism for children and for young families, (but)in particular, I am concerned for the adolescents.
Recently I heard young people defined as ‘the periphery of the human’. When I meet other priests and laymen who take care of young people, I find myself telling them that here in Rome, the human periphery can actually be touched, and that sometimes even families seem to be on the human periphery, and there are those who look on children as on the periphery of the family.
When Don Andrea Santoro was killed, I told myself it would be good to die that way, but then I thought, it would be just as good to die as a parish vicar who suffers because he does not see enough young people coming to Mass. This “periphery” must be reached in the path that the Church is taking.
Holy Father, in your encyclical, you concluded with an exhortation to look at the examples of Christian sainthood. John Paul II dedicated some passages of Novo millennio ineunte
to the need for a ministry which should be mystical, in which the heart of man should be carried towards
“yearning with love for the Lord.” …
I believe that we should bring the faithful, especially, the young people, closer to the center of the Church. Rome has this contradiction: everything seems near, but hardly three kilometers outside the city, one seems to be in the extreme periphery. I believe that we should learn – priests, religious and laymen – to put in play all of our charism in the service of catechizing. Maybe we should begin by looking at the saints: to contemplate them, to love them and to be guided by them.
The vicar of the Carmelite parish of St. Teresa of Avila has expressed his concerns to us. A simple and superficial optimism would certainly be wrong, one which does not take account of the grave dangers facing the youth of today, the children, families. We must perceive with great realism these dangers which arise wherever God is absent. We should be ever more conscious of our responsiblities to ensure God’s presence, which will bring hope and the capacity to walk with confidence towards the future.
The last 5 interventions were given after the Pope had addressed the first ten.
The 11th intervention was from Don Giacomo Martinelli, pastoral delegate of the Pontifical Academy of Mary Immaculate. He recalled how last Thursday, at a discussion of the encyclical Deus caritas est at St. John Lateran, Professor Andreoli, a psychologist and psychiatrist, had said that the victims of today’s “desert of love” are the adolescents who suffer most from the lack of love in the world. Calling the youth “internally dissociated” and “broken adolescents,” he underscored their double suffering – from the fear of being alone and from the oppression of being misunderstood.
These two words, loneliness and incomprehension, were words heard by Your Holiness when you met last summer with the priests of Val D’Aosta. The priests manifested their loneliness and incomprehension of their identity and their ecclesiastical function.
This has made me think that perhaps even we priests find it difficult to go from love of onself to giving oneself. Therefore just as there are broken mariages, perhaps there are also broken priests who suffer from this incapacity. Because it is true that we suffer, we are exposed, we who should be ‘professionals’ of agape. Andd so we ask, Your Holiness: How can we remain stable in the fullness of love that is necessary to be able to give of ourselves totally?
Don Martinelli then referred to the Pope’s December 8 homily as “almost an encyclical”, in which he had referred to “that drop of poison in the hearts of men, from which Mary as exempted.”
For me, it was a novelty to discover that both the Petrine principle as well as the Marian (which form the basis for the Church, as we stress when we talk of ‘institution’ and ‘charism’) are mutually supportive. One must live inwardly with the positiveness with which the Virgin shapes those who represent the institution, and one can only exercise ministerial charism within this communion which one learns from the Virgin.
Let me resume with the intervention from the Pontifical Academy. What you said about the problem of adolescents, their loneliness and the incomprehension on the part of adults, we can actually feel today. It is interesting that the youth, who seek physical closeness in discotheques, suffer loneliness and incomprehension. It seems to me that this is an expression of the fact that as has been mentioned earlier, fathers are often absent or do not take part in the formation of the family. But even some mothers have to work outside the home. And so the communication with the children is very fragile.
Everyone lives in his own world: they are islands of thought and feeling, which will remain apart. The great problem of our time – in which everyone, wanting a life for himself and to himself, loses it because he isolates himself and isolates others from him – is to rediscover the profound communion with others which in the end can only come from a basis common to all, from the divine presence which unites all.
The situation requires overcoming loneliness and incomprehension, which comes from the fact that thought itself is fragmented. Everyone seeks his own way of thinking and of living, and no one communicates a profound vision of life.
The youth are exposed to new horizons not shared by the preceding generation, because there there is no continuity in looking at a world which is gripped by a succession of ever more rapid changes and inventions. In 10 years changes have taken place that in the past could never have taken place even in a hundred years. This results in truly separate worlds. I think of my youth and the ingenuity, if one can call it that, with which we lived in a rural society faced with the modern world. The world is changing so rapidly that it is fragmenting through such changes. And so, in a moment of constant renewal and change, the element of permanence becomes more important.
I remember the discussions on the Conciliar Constitution Gaudium et spes. On the one hand, there was the recognition of new things, the Church saying ‘Yes” to the new era with its innovations, saying “No” to the romanticism of the past, a No which was necessary and right. But then the Council Fathers – we can see that even in the written text – also said that despite all this, despite the necessary willingness to move forward, to drop even some things which were dear to us, there is something which does not change – man himself, man as a created being [la creaturalita]..
Man is not simply a historical product. The absolutization of historicism, in the sense that man is seen only and always as the product of a certain period, is not true. There is the fact that he was created, and that is what makes it possible for us to live with change and still remain ourselves.
This is not an immediate answer to what we have to do, but it seems to me that the first step is to have a diagnosis. Why this loneliness in a society which in other respects is a mass society? Why this incomprehension in a society in which everyone is trying to understand everything, where communications is everything, and where the supreme law is that everything must be transparent to everyone?
The answer is that we see change in our own self-contained world and we don’t live enough that element which links us all, the creational element, which becomes accessible and becomes real in one story: that of Christ, who is not against our nature of being created but restores what the Creator wanted.
Christianity, itself underscoring its story and religion as historical data - contained in a story starting from Abraham, and therefore a historic faith - and having opened its doors to modernity and the spirit of progress, of continuously going forward, is also at the same time a faith based on the Creator who has shown himself and made himself present in a story to which he provides continuity and therefore, its communicability between men. I think therefore that a faith lived in profoundness and with all openness not only to today, but with openness to God, unites two things: a respect for change and novelty, and the continuity of our being, its communicability among people and through time.
The other question was: how can we live life as a gift? It is a question that we ask ourselves now especially, in Lent. We wish to renew our option for life which is, as we have said, an option not to possess oneself but to give oneself. We can only do this through a permanent dialog with God and among ourselves. Even with “correctio fraterna” (brotherly correction), it is necessary to mature ever more in the face of what will always be an insufficient capacity to give the gift of ourself.
We can unite two things even in this respect. On the one hand, we should accept our incapacity with humility, accept this “I” which is never perfect but aspires always towards the Lord to arrive at a communion with him and our fellowmen. This humility in accepting our own limits is very important. Only thus can we grow, mature, and pray to the Lord that he help us never to grow weary on the way, accepting humbly that we will never be perfect, and above all, accepting the imperfection of others. Accepting our own imperfection, we can accept that of others more easily, as we allow ourselves to be formed and re-formed by the Lord.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 06/03/2006 2.49]
| 3/5/2006 9:09 PM
The next intervention was from Fr. Carmelo Vitrugno, Carmelite, chaplain of the Sandro Pertini Hospital, which in 2000 was placed under the protection of the prophet Elia, who is shared by the three monotheistic religions. It is a lay hospital, where there are no sisters but rather an experienced staff of lay Christian volunteers. The priest conveyed to the Holy Father the greetings of his brother workers, the patients, the healthcare workers and spritual assistants. Subsequently, Fr. Vitrugno, saying he was no expert in social communications, denounved the serious damages caused by “mother-TV" which has become “a most dangerous stepmother."
POPE'S Q&A WITH THE ROMAN CLERGY on 3/2/06 - Part 5
The Church should awaken from its torpor and use its best energies – laymen, men, women, priests and bishops – who must be willing to be salt, light and yeast in this environment. The mass media must be humanized and evangelized, and through the mass media, we should continue to evangelize.
His second point was more relevant to the health ministry
Give us a word of encouragement. Tell it to the seminarians, those who are in the process of formation, that the Church today must play the card that always wins – Christ came to the world to radically heal mankind.
At the end, he invited the Holy Father to visit the hospital
Now the hospitals. Thank you for the greetings. I was not aware of the mentality according to which a priest finds himself carrying out his ministry in the hospital because he has done something wrong. [Obviously, the Pope is referring here to something Fr. Vitrugno said but which was not included in the Vatican Press Office ‘synthesis’ of his intervention.] I always thought that it is a priest’s first service to help the sick and the suffering, because the Lord came most especially to be with the “sick” - He came to share our sufferings and to heal us.
On the occasion of the ‘ad limina’ visits by the African bishops, I always tell them that the two pillars of our work are education – that is human formation, which implies many dimensions such as education for learning, professionalism, education in the intimacy of a person – and healing. The fundamental and essential service of the Church is to heal. This is realized most in the African countries: the Church offers healing. Our workers who are there to help the sick help to heal both body and spirit. It seems to me therefore that we should look at the Lord as our model of the priest who heals, who helps, who assists, who accompanies one towards healing. This is a basic commitment of the Church; it is a basic form of love, and therefore, an expression of faith. So it must be a central point for the priest.
Don Egidio Motta, parish priest of Saints Francis and Catherine, patrons of Italy (west sector, 30th prefecture), said he had the joy of participating last September with then Auxiliary Bishop Apicella and Bishop-elect Tuzia, as well as other Roman priests, in an ecumenical meeting hosted by the Orthodox Patriarch of Athens, at the initiative of the Pontifical Council for promoting Christian Unity
I thank the Lord for having allowed me this precious experience of dialog which was most enriching, even for the effect that it had on the ordinary ministry of parish life. Not only because in our parishes there is an Orthodox presence from the immigrants, as well as persons belonging to other confessions, but also because of the variety of beliefs that we encounter every day in the persons we come in contact with.
I believe that being priests requires us to be able to resist every temptation to be isolated and to carry on a frank and peaceful dialog with everyone....I ask you to help us with similar initiatives and through your words, help us to be able to dialog with everyone.
Now I will respond to the vicar of the Holy Patrons of Italy who sppoke of dialog with the Orthodox church and of ecumenical dialog in general. In today’s world situation, we see how dialog at all levels is essential. Even more important is that Christians should not be closed within themselves but open (to others). Precisely in our relations with the Orthodox churches is where I see how personal relations are fundamental.
Doctrinally, we are in large part united over all the basic things, but it appears difficult to make further progress. But to draw together in communion, in our common experience of a life of faith, is how we will recognize each other reciprocally as sons of God and disciples of Christ.
This has been my experience of at least 40 years, almost fifty: this experience of a common discipleship, which ultimately we live in the same faith, the same apostolic succession, with the same sacraments, the same tradition of prayer. This diversity and multiplicity of religious cultures, of the culture of faith, is beautiful. To experience it is fundamental, and I think perhaps that the conviction of some, such as the monks on Mt. Athos, against ecumenism, may result from a lack of this experience, in which one sees and feels that the other belongs to the same Christ, belongs to the same communion with Christ in the Eucharist.
So this is of great importance: we should bear the separation which exists. St. Paul has said that schisms are necessary for a certain time and the Lord knows why: to test us, to train us, to help us mature, to make us more humble. But at the same time we are obliged to walk towards unity, because just walking towards unity is already a form of unity.
Don Paolo Augusto Lojudice, ex-parish priest, and since recently, Spiritual Director of the Pontifical Major Roman Seminary, dwelt on two “difficulties”: first of all “pastoral charity,” a theme from the encyclical Deus caritas est, especially its second part
It is illuminating. I found myself in so many aspects, because it invites us to (practise) direct charity – it is not something we wait to do, but which we must seek out. You don’t look after the poor when it pleases you, you have to seek them out, do something concrete for someone in need.
Our parishes in Rome are all signficant presences – it is a power that is not indifferent to the social fabric, and so I ask, and I ask you: is it necessary to make our premises and spaces ‘centers of welcome,’ in the light of this primacy of charity?
His second concern was educational
Today, priests find it hard to transmit the faith, especially to the new generations at all levels: from the children preparing for early sacrmanets to the older ones. Even the young people who attend parochial meetings – we are aware how much they suffer from leading a double life: what they do in the parish and outside are totally different.
And so I ask – in the light of my experience in the diocese – why does every parish always expect to get an outstanding young vicar when appointments are made? Sometimes, the expectations are not met. But why? And yet, we come from the same seminary, sometimes only a few years apart. Are we placing too high expectations on young priests? Or is there something inadequate in their formation? Or are we forgetting that formation cannot be limited to those few years in the seminary, but that it should continue and the parish priest himself would then ne responsible for that?
He followed with a question on what it would take for the diocesan seminary to be genuinely formative, to be capable of “giving form” to a priest , one after God’s heart. Don Lojudice concluded with a wish
Holiness, you are making the whole church fight for the truth. This brings risks, ill will, criticism. Therefore I ask God that he unite us all in this battle for truth, without wasting our energies, without losing ourselves in useless chatter at a particular historical moment when unity is truly indispensable.
Now we come to the Spiritual Director of the Seminary. The first problem was the difficulty of pastoral charity. On the one hand, we (already) live it in so many ways. On the other hand, I would like to say: Hang on, have courage. The Church is doing a lot in Africa, and even in Rome and the rest of Europe. It does a lot, and many are grateful to it, for its ministry in caring for the sick , as well as for the poor and the abandoned. Let us continue what we are doing with courage and continue to find together better ways to do what we must do.
The other point was centered on the fact that the formation of priests seems to be different between generations, even successive ones, and this complicates our common task of transmitting the faith. I noticed this when I was Archbishop of Munich. When we entered the seminary, we all had a common Catholic spirituality, more or less mature. Let us say that we had a common spiritual foundation. But it all came from very different spiritual experiences. In my seminary we lived in different “islands” of spirituality which communicated with difficulty. But I thank the Lord because he has given so many new impulses to the Church and many new forms of spiritual life, of discovering the riches of the faith.
But it is necessary not to ignore our common Catholic spirituality, which is expressed in liturgy and in the great traditions of our faith. This seems to me very important. It is important even with respect to the the second Vatican Council.
We do not have to live – as I told the Roman Curia just before Christmas – the interpretation of discontinuity, but rather the interpretation of a renewal, which is the spirit of continuity, of going forward in continuity. This is very important insofar as liturgy is concerned.
I will take a concrete example from what happened to me with the brief meditation for today. The “station” of this day, Thursday after Ash Wednesday, is St. George. Corresponding to this holy soldier, there were once two readings about two holy soldiers, The first told of King Ezekiah, who is sick and condemned to die, and he prays to the Lord crying: give me a little more of life! And the Lord is good and gives him 17 more years iof life. And so, we have a beautiful healing and a soldeir who can resume his activity once again. The second was the Gospel which tells of the Roman officer in Capharnaum with his sick servant. So here we have two themes: that of healing and that of Christ’s “militia.”
Today, in the current Liturgy, we have two completely different readings. We have that from Deuteronomy: “Choose life”, and from the Gospel: “Follow Christ and take the cross up,” which means do not look for your own life but give your life, and is an interpretation of what “Choose life” means.
I must say that I have always loved the liturgy. I was in love with the Lenten journey of the Church, with these “stational Churches” and the readings linked to each of these churches: it was a geography of faith which becomes a spiritual geography of our pilgrimage with the Lord. And I felt a little bad that this link between the stations and the readings had been taken away.
But now I see that the current readings are very beautiful and explain the program of Lent: to choose life, that is, to renew the Yes at baptism, which was really a choice of life. In this sense, there is an intimate continuity, and I think we can learn from this, though it is only a small example of continuity and discontinuity. We should accept new things but must value continuity and see the Council from this optic of continuity. This can help us mediate between generations in their ways of transmitting the faith
Finally, Don Marco Gnavi, secretary of the diocesan commission for ecumenism and dialog, spoke of the “great deficit of hope” on the world today
Holiness, you have evoked various scenarios of the culture of death…continents which are waiting to resurface. Thinking of Don Andrea Santoro and so many other Christians, I would like to say that to believe in the Church and with the Catholic Church means responding to this deficit of hope, rediscovering the only thing necessary as you indicated in Deus caritas est
The priest recounted a recent encounter with some young Pakistanis “who live in a minority context, happily loving the poor and focused on the liturgy of the Church, young people who are persuasive and attractive.” Therefore against the temptation of repeating that “transmitting the faith today is more difficult,” the priest invited his colleagues to “re-center ourselves on the persuasive love that the Pope speaks of in Deus caritas est
In particular, for priests, there are not only external reasons. At times, there is a Christian secularism, which you yourself, Holiness, have referred to. For priests, it is only in contemplation that one can understand the other intimately...This indication also applies to us, the priests of Rome, so that we may believe more. It is a simple way to become more Christian and so to penetrate into an udnerstanding of reality which can come from such contemplation.
Finally, the priest of the Vicariate of Rome concluded with a statement that I make my own and with which we may conclude this meeting: to become more simple. This seems to me a beautiful program. Let us try to put it into practice and that way, we shall be more open to the Lord and to other people.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 06/03/2006 4.26]
| 3/5/2006 10:12 PM
RE: Benedict and the Roman priests
Dear Teresa-B, how can we thank you appropriately for giving us Papa's insights and answers in a language we can understand??!! You have beautifully translated these many pages, using your spare time and energy, and we can now only sit back and be inspired. An act of love very highly appreciated. Many, many thanks.
It is fascinating to see how a nearly 79-years old brain still functions with the utmost of clarity and logic.
His brain is 79 but his soul much older! -to borrow from oriental wisdom. One wishes again that a dinner with Papa will one day become a reality.....
[By the way, he summarised the complex African situation very well.]
| 3/8/2006 1:24 AM
| Thank you for your kind words, Mag6nideum. But as I told you, I welcome the opportunity to translate what Papa says into English because it makes me feel his presence and his thought very vividly.
THE POPE AND THE ROMAN CLERGY - A REPRISE
I started trying to make my translations of Papal material as promptly as I can after the original material is released, when I realized how erratic and generally slow the other translations are in coming (and I have dared to do so because I think my translations don't compare badly with theirs, if you will excuse my saying so).
Zenit translations of the Angelus and audience messages are usually at least one day late, often more; and the Vatican itself does not release translations of its regular bulletins on what the Pope says (homilies, Angelus and audience messages, discourses given to various groups seen in private or semi-public audience) unless it is a major message for worldwide distribution like the Encyclical or the Message for World Peace Day, or when the Pope is abroad.
For example, during WYD in Cologne, every Papal intervention was released in the original (usually multiple) languages in which he delivered it, as well as full translations into the official languages of the Vatican (Italian, English, German, French and Spanish)except Latin. Fortunately, except for the Latin (with which I only have a basic introductory acquaintance), I can handle the other languages for translation purposes.
In any case, it gratifies me that we came out with our full translation of the released text of the meeting with the Roman clergy on Sunday, two days before Sandro Magister came out today with an English translation of some excerpts in
This is how he introduced it
ROMA, March 7, 2006 – As is the tradition at the beginning of each Lent, Benedict XVI met on Thursday, March 2 in the Vatican, in the Hall of Blessings, the priests of the diocese of Rome, of which he is bishop. The priests were accompanied by his cardinal vicar, Camillo Ruini.
For the occasion, the pope did not read from a text prepared ahead of time, but responded spontaneously to the questions that the priests posed to him. He did the same thing last July 25 with the priests of the diocese of Aosta, during his vacation in the Alps. In both cases, the conversation took place behind closed doors, without journalists being present.
As back then, so also this time the question and answer session brought out the pope’s viewpoints with the freedom typical of an open conversation. There were fifteen questions in all. And the pope responded to all of them in two batches: first to ten of the questions, then to the remaining five.
The complete transcript of the conversation was published the next day in “L’Osservatore Romano,” and was also released by the Vatican press office, only in the Italian version.
An extract of these is reproduced below. The selections, each of which is dedicated to a different topic, are in the same order in which the pope delivered them......
| 3/11/2006 4:40 PM
| The annual Lenten Spiritual Exercises for the Pope and the Roman Curia ended this morning at the Redemptoris Mater Chapel of the Apostolic Palace after the last meditation in the series. The Holy Father said a few words at the conclusion. The fact that the Vatican Press Office did not publish the text right away with its initial bulletin that the Exercises had ended, and the way the message itself reads, indicate that the Pope spoke extemporaneously. Much of the message is directly addressed to Cardinal Marco Ce, Archbishop Emeritus of Venice, who was this year's retreat master. Here is a translation
POPE'S MESSAGE AT THE CONCLUSION OF LENTEN RETREAT
At the end of these days of grace, it is necessary and proper for me to say Thank you! Thanks above all to the Lord, who has given us this period of physical and spiritual respite. Thanks to you, eminent Cardinal, who have guided us along the footprints of St. Mark in Jesus’s way to Jerusalem.
At the start, you made us understand right away the profoundly ecclesiastical character of these “sacramentum exercitii
.” You made us understand that it is not a private, individual retreat, that in these spiritual exercises, we actualize our solidarity with the Church in a common sacramental exercise, thus complying with our responsibilities as pastors. We cannot bring the good news to the world, Christ himself in person, if we do not ourselves know him profoundly, personally, if we do not live by and in his words
Together with the ecclesiastic and ecclesial character of these exercises, you have also shown us their Christologic nature. You have made us more aware of our interior Teacher: you have helped us to listen to the Master who speaks with us and in us; you have helped us to answer, to speak with the Lord while listening to his words.
You have guided us along this catechumenal way which is the Gospel of Mark, in a pilgrimage together with the disciples towards Jerusalem, and you have given us anew the certainty that on our ship - despite the tempests of history – Christ is with us.
You have taught us anew to see in the suffering face of Christ, on the face crowned with thorns, the glory of the Resurrected One. For this we are grateful to you, Eminent Cardinal, that now we can – with new strength and new joy – journey with Christ and his disciples towards Easter.
During these days, my eyes have looked on this image of the Annunciation to Mary [the Pope is apparently referring to an image in the chapel
]. One thing fascinated me (in this depiction): the Archangel Gabriel holds in his hand a scroll, which I think symbolizes Scriptures, the Word of God. And Mary is kneeling within that scroll, she is in the scroll, that is, she lives in the word of God – with all her being, she lives in the word of God, she is almost permeated by the word of God. And so, all her thought, all her will, her actions are permeated and formed by the Word. And as she lived in the Word, she could then become the new “home” of the Word in this world.
Silently, you, Eminence, have guided us along a Marian way, which calls us to place ourselves within the word of God, to attach our lives within the word of God and let our being be permeated by this Word, so we can be better witnesses of the living Word, Christ himself, in our time.
And so, with new courage and with new joy, let us proceed towards Easter, towards the celebration of the Mystery of Christ, which is always more than just a celebration or a rite. Christ is Presence and Truth. Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us to walk behind Him and doing so, be guides and shepherds to the flock that has been entrusted to us.
Thank you, Eminent Cardinal. Thank you, dear brothers.
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| 3/12/2006 4:03 PM
| Here is a translation of the message addressed by the Holy Father yesterday to the university students who assembled in Aula Paolo VI at the Vatican for a Marian Vigil and Rosary on the 4th annual celebration of the European Day for University Students. The event was linked by satellite to similar assemblies in 12 other cities of Europe and Africa
MARIAN VIGIL WITH UNIVERSITY STUDENTS - 3/11/06
Photo-Montage by Beatrice.France
Dear university students!
After praying the Holy Rosary, I greet you with great joy, assembled here at the Vatican and simultaneously in Madrid, Nairobi, Owerri, Abidjan, Dublin, Salamanca, Munich, Fribourg, St. Petersburg, and Sofia, as well as in Antananarivo and Bonn. I also greet and thank the respected pastors who are with you and have led your prayers linked with us. This is a beautiful sign of communion in the Catholic Church.
I also thank the Chorus and Orchestra, as well as the various organizations who have cooperated for this event: the Vatican Television Center, Vatican Radio, Telespazio, the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and of Universities, and the Province and City of Rome.
This Marian Vigil, so dear to Pope John Paul II, lays down bridges of brotherhood among the university students of Europe, and this year, extends itself within the great African continent, so that communion among the members of the new generation may grow and spread the civilization of love. I wish to extend to all those who are linked to us from Africa a particularly affectionate embrace, which goes out to the entire beloved African population.
[He then addressed words of greeting in Spanish to Madrid and Salamanca; in English to Dublin, Nairobi (Kenya) and Owerri (Nigeria); in German to Munich and Bonn, in French to Fribourg and Abidjan (the Ivory Coast), in Russian to St. Petersburg, and in Bulgarian to Sofia
Dear friends, shortly I will put into the hands of some of your representatives a copy of my encyclical Deus caritas est
. In this way, I wish to symbolically deliver it to all university students in Europe and Africa, with the hope that the fundamental truth of the Christian faith – that God is love – may illuminate the path for each of you, and may radiate through you to your fellow students.
The truth about the love of God – source, meaning and ultimate point of the universe and of history – was revealed by Christ in his words and in his life, most of all in the Easter of his death and resurrection. This is the basis of Christian wisdom, which, like yeast, is capable of fermenting every human culture because it expresses the best of Christianity and helps to build a more just and peaceful world
Dear students, in delivering this encyclical to you, I also remind you of my message for the 21st World Day of Youth which we will be celebrating next Palm Sunday. I dedicated that message to the importance of the word of God, and so I took its title from a verse in Psalm 118 which says: “Your words are a lamp unto my feet, light on my path.”
In preparation for Palm Sunday, I invite you to the traditional meeting for all youth which will take place in the afternoon of Thursday, April 6, in St. Peter’s Square
. We will welcome the pilgrim Cross from Cologne and we will remember with grateful hearts my great predecessor John Paul II on the first anniversary of his death.
May Mary, Seat of Wisdom, obtain for you this Lent a profound spiritual renewal so that you may always live and offer your studies for the glory of God. For this, I assure you that I will continue to remember you in my prayers, and from my heart, I bless you and all those who are dear to you.
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| 3/19/2006 4:59 PM
| At 9:30 this morning, the third Sunday of Lent, the Holy Father presided at a concelebration of the Mass for workers, on the occasion of the Feast of St. Joseph, with Card. Camillo Ruini, Vicar-General in Rome and president of the Italian Bishops Conference; Mons. Giuseppe Betori, Seceretary-general of the conference, and Mons. Arrigo Miglio, Bishop of Ivrea and president of the Italian bishops' commission for social problems and labor, peace and justice. At the start of the celebration, Mons. Miglio said a few words to greet the Pope on his name day.
HOMILY AT 3/19/06 MASS FOR WORKERS
Here is the Pope’s homily, in translation
Dear brothers and sisters,
We have listened together to a famous page from the Book of Exodus, in which the holy author narrates how God delivered the Decalog to Israel. One detail is immediately striking: the announcement of the commandments is introduced by a significant reference to the liberation of the people of Israel. The text says: “I am the Lord thy God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.” (Ex 20,2).
The Decalog, therefore, was intended to be a confirmation of a freedom that had been gained. In effect, the commandments, when looked at in depth, are the means which the Lord gives us to defend our freedom, be it from the internal conditionings of our passions or from external abuse by ill-intentioned persons. The No in the commandments is a Yes to the growth of authentic liberty.
There is a second dimension to the Decalog which is also underscored: in the Law handed down through Moses, the Lord reveals his wish to conclude an alliance with Israel. The Law therefore, more than an imposition, is a gift. More than just commanding that which man ought to do, it wants to make clear to all the choice of God: He is on the side of the chosen people, he has liberated them from slavery and surrounds them with his merciful goodness. The Decalog is a testimony of a love that favors.
Today’s liturgy offers us a second message: the Mosaic Law found its fulfillment in Jesus, who has shown us the wisdom and the love of God through the mystery of the Cross, “a scandal for the Jews, stupidity to the pagans,” – as St. Paul tells us in the second reading – “but for those who are called, whether Jews or Greeks… the strength of God and the wisdom of God. (1 Cor 1, 23-24).
It is to this mystery that the gospel page we just heard refers to: Jesus drives out the merchants and money-changers from the temple. The evangelist furnishes the key to reading this significant episode through a verse from a Psalm: “Thh zeal for your house devours me.”)cfr Ps 69, 10). Jesus was “devoured” by this “zeal" for the “house of God” which was being used for purposes other than that for which it was intended.
Responding to the request of the religious authorities, who demanded a sign of his authority, he says to the amazement of those present: “Destroy this temple and in three days I will rebuild it.” (Jn 2, 19). Mysterious words, incomprehensible at that instant, but which John reformulates for his Christian readers, observing thus: “He spoke about the temple of his Body” (Jn 2,21). His enemies would destroy that “temple” but in three days he would rebuild it with his Resurrection. The sorrowful and “scandalous” death of Christ would be crowned triumphantly by his glorious Resurrection.
While we prepare during this Lenten season to relive in the Paschal Triduum this central event in our salvation, we look at the Crucifix and see in it the radiance of the Resurrected One.
Dear brothers and sisters, the Eucharistic celebration today which unites to the meditation of the liturgical texts of the third Sunday in Lent the memory of St. Joseph, gives us the opportunity to consider, in the light of the Paschal mystery, another important aspect of human existence.
I refer to the reality of labor, an activity now at the center of rapid and complex changes. The Bible shows in a few pages how work belongs to man’s original condition. When the Creator formed man in his image and resemblance, he asked him to till the earth (cfr Gn 2, 5-6). It was due to the sin by our first ancestors that work became effort and suffering (cfr Jn 3,6-8), but in the divine plan, work maintains its value, unaltered.
The Son of God, who made himself similar to us in every way, dedicated himself for many years to manual labor, such that he was known as “the carpenter’s son” (cfr Mt 13,55).
The Church has always shown, especially in the last century, attention and concern for this sector of society, as we see in the numerous social interventions of the Magisterium and the deeds of many associations of Christian inspiration, some of which are assembled here today to represent the entire word of laborers. I am happy to welcome you, dear friends, and I address to each one my cordial greetings. I specially greet Mons. Arrigo Miglio, Bishop of Ivrea and president of the Italian episcopal commission for social problems, who has expressed sentiments on your behalf as well as his best wishes for my name-day feast. I am very grateful to him for that.
Work has primary importance for man’s self-actualization and for the development of society, therefore it should always be organized and carried out with full respect for human dignity and service to the common good. At the same time, it is indispensable that man does not allow himself to be enlaved by work, does not set it up as an ‘idol’, seeing in it the ultimate and definitive sense of life.
In this sense, the invitation contained in the first reading today is appropriate: “Remember to keep holy the Sabbath day; for six days you will labor and do all kinds of work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath in honor of the Lord your God.” (Ex 20,8-9).
The Sabbath is a “holy day,” that is, consecrated to God, during which man should (seek to) understand better the sense of existence and even of work activities. We can even say that the Biblical teaching on work finds its crowning point in the commandment of rest. The Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church
notes in this respect: “For man, linked to the need to work, rest opens up the perspective of an even fuller liberty, that of the eternal Sabbath (cfr Heb 4,9-10). Rest allows man to remember and relive the works of God, from Creation to Redemption, to recognize himself as a work of God (cfr Ephj 2,10), to give thanks for his own existence and its subsistence in Him who is its author” (n. 258).
Work activities should serve the true good of humanity, allowing man as an individual and as a member of society to cultivate and to realize his integral calling” (Gaudium et spes, 35). In order that this can happen, having the necessary technical and professional qualifications is not enough; not even the creatin of a social order that is just and attentive to the good of all.
One also needs to live with a spirituality which helps the believer to sanctify himself through work, imitating St. Joseph, who needed to work every day in order to provide the needs of his Holy Family, with his own hands, and for which the Church recognizes him as the patron of workers.
His example shows that man is both subject and protagonistt of work. I want to entrust to him the youth who are challenged to find work, the unemployed, and all those who have problems related to the widespread employment crisis.
Together with Mary, his spouse, may St. Joseph watch over all workers and obtain tranquillity and peace for their families and all mankind. In contemplating this great saint, may all Crhistians learn to bear witness in every sphere of work to the love of Christ, source of true solidarity and stable peace. Amen.
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| 3/20/2006 4:26 PM
Pope Benedict met today at the Sala Clementina with the members of the Armenian Patriarchal Synod led by His Beatitude Nerses Bedros XIX Tamouni, Patriarch of Cilicia of the Armenias (Lebanon), accompanied by a large delegation of pilgrims. Here is a translation of the Pope's discourse to his guests which was delivered in Italian
3/20/06 MEETING WITH ARMENIAN PATRIARCH
With joy I greet you and extend my cordial welcome! You have come to Rome from different parts of the world, in the shared awareness of belonging to an ancient and noble Church which, with its spiritual treasures, contributes to enrich the beauty of the Spouse of Christ.
Thank You, Beatitude, for the fervent expressions of communion which you have addressed to me, in the name as well of the Synod of Bishops of the Armenian Catholic Church and of all here present. You have recalled the many signs of benevolence and concern that my predecessors have shown towards your ancient and revered Church. At the same time, we must recognize the strong attachment, that has been expressed even through martyrdom, that your community has always demonstrated towards the Seat of Peter in a reciprocal and fruitful relationship of faith and affection. I too wish to show my profound acknowledgement of this.
The Armenian Church, which harks back to the Patriarchate of Cilicia, has certainly participated fully in the historic events experienced by the Armenian people through the centuries, and in particular, in the sufferings it underwent in the name of the Christian faith during the years of terrible persecution which have come to be known historically with the tragic name of metz yeghem
, the great evil.
How can we not remember in this regard all the calls addressed by Leo XIII to all the faithful so that they may help alleviate the indigence and suffering of the Armenian population? Nor can we forget, as you underscored so opportunely, the decisive interventions of Pope Benedict XV when, with profound emotion, he deplored: “Miserrima Armeniorum gens prope ad onteritum adducitur
” (AAS VII, 1915, 510).
The Armenians, who have always sought to integrate themselves, with their industriousness and dignity, into any society in which they find themselves, continue to bear witness today of their loyalty to the Gospel. The Armenian Catholic community is now dispersed in many nations, even outside patriarchal territory. In consideration, the Apostolic See has constituted, where necessary, Eparchates or Ordinariates for their pastoral care. In the Middle East, Divine Providence has located the Patriarchate in Clicia, and subsequently, in Lebanon. All Armenian Catholic faithful look to your Patriarchate as a firm spiritual reference point for their cultural and liturgical traditions.
We also observe, how different churches who recognize St. Gregory the Illuminator as their common founding father, are divided among themselves, although in recent decades, they have all resumed a cordial and fruitful dialog in order to rediscover their common roots. I encourage this renewed brotherhood and collaboration, with the hope that it may set off new initiatives for a common course towards full unity. And if historic events led to the fragmentation of the Armenian Church, Divine Providence will see to it that one day it will become united, with one hierarchy, in internal fraternal harmony and in full communion with the Bishop of Rome.
A comforting sign of this desired unity was the celebration of the 1700th anniversary of the founding of the Armenian Church with the participation of my beloved predecessor John Paul II. The love of the Lord for the Church that is a pilgrim in time will offer Christians – that is our confident hope – the necessary means to realize its most fervent desire: “ut unum sint
”, that they may be one. We all want to be instruments at the disposal of Christ. May He who is the Way, the Truth and the Life, grant us to persevere in each effort that we may all be one flock under one Shepherd as soon as possible.
Dear brothers and sisters, with these sentiments I invoke upon you, on your community and on the Armenian people the celestial intercession of the Most Holy Mary who, as St. Nerses Shnorali liked to say, is the “home of the in-circumscribed Word, a world sealed in every part, where dwells Light, the dawn of the Sun of justice.” In addition, may you be sustained by the protection of St. Gregory the Illuminator and the saints and martyrs who in the course of centuries have given witness to the Gospel. Finally, I impart my blessing to you and your people from my heart as a sign of the constant affection of the Successor of Peter for all Armenians.
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| 3/21/2006 4:19 PM
| From ZENIT today, here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave Saturday, 3/18/06, to the superiors of the Secretariat of State, led by Cardinal Angelo Sodano, together with the Holy See's representatives to various international organizations. A translation of an Italian news analysis of this address, entitled "Papa Ratzinger to Vatican diplomats: Never fear politics and public opinion", with significant excerpts quoted, was posted in NEWS ABOUT BENEDICT on 3/19/06
3/18/06 ADDRESS TO VATICAN DIPLOMATIC WORKERS
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.
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| 3/24/2006 3:49 PM
| Photo: Osservatore Romano
Here is the English translation of the homily delivered by the Holy Father today at the Public Consistory creating 15 new cardinals. The translation was released by the Vatican Press Office simultaneously with the original Italian text
HOMILY AT THE 3/24/06 CONSISTORY
Venerable Cardinals, Patriarchs and Bishops,
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 a feast: today, the College of Cardinals is to gain fifteen new members. To you in particular, my dear Brothers, whom I have had the joy of raising to the cardinalate, I address a most sincere and cordial greeting, and I thank Cardinal 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 honour 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 Saviour
. 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 Saint 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, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all" (here Jesus uses a stronger word - (Mk 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" (Mk 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 the 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 of today’s liturgy, which puts before us Peter’s exhortation to the "presbyters" and elders of the community (cf. 1 Pet 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’s own behaviour: 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. Phil 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
" (Gal 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 Pet 5:1).
These words, in their essential structure, recall the Paschal Mystery, specially present in our hearts during these days of Lent. Saint Peter applies them to himself as a "fellow elder," indicating that the elder in the Church, the presbyter, 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 have just received 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. All of us are truly witnesses of his sufferings today, in the world and also in the Church, and hence we also have a share in his glory. And so you will be able 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 colour 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
" (Jn 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 endeavour to fix our gaze on Christ’s open Heart will hasten and secure our path towards 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.
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| 3/25/2006 3:33 PM
Here is the English translation provided by the Vatican simultaneously with the Italian text delivered by the Holy Father in his homily today at the Mass to celebrate the Solemnity of the Annunciation. The mass was concelebrated with the 15 new cardinals who also received their rings from the Pope today.
HOMILY ON 3/15/06 - FEAST OF THE ANNUNCIATION
Dear Cardinals and Patriarchs,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ!
For me it is a source of great joy to preside at this concelebration with the new Cardinals after yesterday’s Consistory, and I consider it providential that it should take place on the liturgical Solemnity of the Annunciation of the Lord.
In the Incarnation of the Son of God, in fact, we recognize the origins of the Church. Everything began from there. Every historical realization of the Church and every one of her institutions must be shaped by that primordial wellspring. They must be shaped by Christ, the incarnate Word of God. It is he that we are constantly celebrating: Emmanuel, God-with-us, through whom the saving will of God the Father has been accomplished.
And yet - today of all days we contemplate this aspect of the Mystery - the divine wellspring flows through a privileged channel: the Virgin Mary. Saint Bernard speaks of this using the eloquent image of aquaeductus
(Cf. Sermo in Nativitate B.V. Mariae: PL 183, 437-448
In celebrating the Incarnation of the Son, therefore, we cannot fail to honour his Mother. The angel’s proclamation was addressed to her; she accepted it, and when she responded from the depths of her heart: "Here I am . . . let it be done to me according to your word" (Lk 1:38), the eternal Word began to exist as a human being in time.
From generation to generation, the wonder evoked by this ineffable mystery never ceases. Saint Augustine imagines a dialogue between himself and the Angel of the Annunciation, in which he asks: "Tell me, O Angel, why did this happen in Mary?" The answer, says the Messenger, is contained in the very words of the greeting: "Hail, full of grace" (cf. Sermo 291:6
In fact, the Angel, "appearing to her", does not call her by her earthly name, Mary, but by her divine name, as she has always been seen and characterized by God: "Full of grace - gratia plena", which in the original Greek is [a word which means] "beloved" (cf. Lk 1:28). Origen observes that no such title had ever been given to a human being, and that it is unparalleled in all of Sacred Scripture (cf. In Lucam 6:7
It is a title expressed in passive form, but this "passivity" of Mary, who has always been and is for ever "loved" by the Lord, implies her free consent, her personal and original response: in being loved, Mary is fully active, because she accepts with personal generosity the wave of God’s love poured out upon her. In this too, she is the perfect disciple of her Son, who realizes the fullness of his freedom through obedience to the Father
In the second reading, we heard the wonderful passage in which the author of the Letter to the Hebrews interprets Psalm 39 in the light of Christ’s Incarnation: "When Christ came into the world, he said: . . . ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will, O God’" (Heb 10:5-7). Before the mystery of these two "Here I am" statements from Christ and from the Virgin, each of which is reflected in the other, forming a single Amen to God’s loving will, we are filled with wonder and thanksgiving, and we bow down in adoration
What a great gift, dear Brothers, to be able to conduct this evocative celebration on the Solemnity of the Lord’s Annunciation! What an abundance of light we can draw from this mystery for our lives as ministers of the Church! You above all, dear new Cardinals, what great sustenance you can receive for your mission as the eminent "Senate" of Peter’s Successor!
This providential circumstance helps us to consider today’s event, which emphasizes the Petrine principle of the Church, in the light of the other principle, the Marian one, which is even more fundamental. The importance of the Marian principle in the Church was particularly highlighted, after the Council, by my beloved predecessor Pope John Paul II, in harmony with his motto Totus tuus
In his spirituality and in his tireless ministry, the presence of Mary as Mother and Queen of the Church was made manifest to the eyes of all. More than ever he adverted to her maternal presence in the assassination attempt of 13 May 1981 in Saint Peter’s Square. In memory of that tragic event, he had a mosaic of the Virgin placed high up in the Apostolic Palace, looking down over Saint Peter’s Square, so as to accompany the key moments and the daily unfolding of his long reign. It is just one year since his pontificate entered its final phase, full of suffering and yet triumphant and truly paschal.
The icon of the Annunciation, more than any other, helps us to see clearly how everything in the Church goes back to that mystery of Mary’s acceptance of the divine Word, by which, through the action of the Holy Spirit, the Covenant between God and humanity was perfectly sealed.
Everything in the Church, every institution and ministry, including that of Peter and his successors, is "included" under the Virgin’s mantle, within the grace-filled horizon of her "yes" to God’s will.
This link with Mary naturally evokes a strong affective resonance in all of us, but first of all it has an objective value. Between Mary and the Church there is indeed a connatural relationship that was strongly emphasized by the Second Vatican Council in its felicitous decision to place the treatment of the Blessed Virgin at the conclusion of the Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium
The theme of the relationship between the Petrine principle and the Marian principle is also found in the symbol of the ring which I am about to consign to you. The ring is always a nuptial sign. Almost all of you have already received one, on the day of your episcopal ordination, as an expression of your fidelity and your commitment to watch over the holy Church, the bride of Christ (cf. Rite of Ordination of Bishops
The ring which I confer upon you today, proper to the cardinalatial dignity, is intended to confirm and strengthen that commitment, arising once more from a nuptial gift, a reminder to you that first and foremost you are intimately united with Christ so as to accomplish your mission as bridegrooms of the Church. May your acceptance of the ring be for you a renewal of your "yes", your "here I am", addressed both to the Lord Jesus who chose you and constituted you, and to his holy Church, which you are called to serve with the love of a spouse. So the two dimensions of the Church, Marian and Petrine, come together in the supreme value of charity, which constitutes the fulfilment of each.
As Saint Paul says, charity is the "greatest" charism, the "most excellent way" (1 Cor 12:31; 13:13).
Everything in this world will pass away. In eternity only Love will remain. For this reason, my Brothers, taking the opportunity offered by this favourable time of Lent, let us commit ourselves to ensure that everything in our personal lives, and in the ecclesial activity in which we are engaged, is inspired by charity and leads to charity
In this respect too, we are enlightened by the mystery that we are celebrating today. Indeed, the first thing that Mary did after receiving the Angel’s message was to go "in haste" to the house of her cousin Elizabeth in order to be of service to her (cf. Lk 1:39). The Virgin’s initiative was one of genuine charity, it was humble and courageous, motivated by faith in God’s word and the inner promptings of the Holy Spirit.
Those who love forget about themselves and place themselves at the service of their neighbour. Here we have the image and model of the Church! Every ecclesial community, like the Mother of Christ, is called to accept with total generosity the mystery of God who comes to dwell within her and guides her steps in the ways of love. This is the path along which I chose to launch my pontificate, inviting everyone, with my first Encyclical, to build up the Church in charity as a "community of love"
(cf. Deus Caritas Est, Part II
In pursuing this objective, venerable Brother Cardinals, your spiritual closeness and active assistance is a great support and comfort to me. For this I thank you, and at the same time I invite all of you, priests, deacons, religious and lay faithful, to join together in invoking the Holy Spirit, praying that the College of Cardinals may be ever more ardent in pastoral charity, so as to help the whole Church to radiate Christ’s love in the world, to the praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Amen!
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 25/03/2006 15.39]
| 3/25/2006 9:59 PM
OFFICIAL TRANSLATION OF PAPA'S Q&A WITH ROMAN CLERGY
FYI- ZENIT's English service published in two parts today, 3/25/06, the Vatican's official translation of the Pope's Q&A with the Roman clergy on March 2, of which I provided a translation on this thread in a 5-part post on 3/5/06. Here are the links:
| 3/26/2006 4:03 PM
Here is a translation of the homily delivered by the Holy Father today on his parochial visit to the Church of God the Merciful Father in Tor Tre Teste, in the eastern sector of Rome
This fourth Sunday of Lent, traditionally designated as Laetare Sunday, is permeated by a joy which in some measure attenuates the penitential climate of this holy season: “Rejoice, Jerusalem… Exult and rejoice, you who were in sadness.” This invitation contained in the entrance antiphon is echoed in the refrain of the responsorial psalm: “Your memory, Lord, is our joy.”
Spontaneously comes the question: what is the reason that we should rejoice? Certainly, one reason is the approach of Easter, the anticipation of which gives us a foretaste of the joy of encountering the Risen Chirst. But the more profound reason is in the message offered by the Bibilical readings which the liturgy proposes today. They remind us that, notwithstanding our indignity, we are the eventual recipients of the mercy of God, God who loves us in a manner we might say is “obstinate”, and who envelops us with his inexhaustible kindness.
This is what emerges from the first reading, taken from the book of Chronicles (cfr 2 Chr 36, 14-16,19-23): the holy author proposes a synthetic and significative interpretation of the story of the chosen people, who experience the punishment of God as a consequence of their rebellious behavior. But even in his punishments, God follows a merciful design - for example, the destruction of the holy city and the temple, or exile, to touch the hearts of the people and make them turn back to God.
At that time, the Lord, showing the absolute primacy of his initiative over any purely human effort, availed of a pagan, Cyrus, king of Persia, to liberate Israel. In the text we heard, the anger and the mercy of the Lord alternate in a sequence of dramatic turns, but in the end love triumphs.
How can we not glean from the memory of those remote events a message that is valid for all time, including ours? The designs of God, even when they are shown though trials and punishments, are always aimed at an outcome of mercy and pardon.
And this is confirmed in the second reading, by the apostle Paul who reminds us that "God, rich in mercy, for the great love that he has borne us, has made us re-live in Christ after the death we undergo as sinners.” (Eph 2,4-5). To express this fact of salvation, the Apostle uses, next to the term for mercy, eleos
, that for love, agape
, repeated and ultimately amplified in that most beautiful opening sentence of the Gospel page we just heard: “The Lord so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son in order that whoever believes in him will not die but have eternal life” (Jn 3,16).
We know that that “giving” on the part of the Lord had a dramatic development that culminated in the sacrifice of the Son on the Cross. If the whole historic mission of Jesus was an eloquent sign of the love of God, his death was singularly so, completely expressing the redemptive kindness of God. Therefore, the Cross should always be – particularly in this Lenten season – the center of our meditation. In it we contemplate the glory of the Lord which shines through the martyred body of Jesus. It is the glory of the Crucified One that each Christian is called on to understand, to live, and to bear witness to in his own life
The cross is definitely the “sign” par excellence that is given to us to understand the truth about man and the truth about God: we were all created and redeemed by a God who, out of love, sacrificed his only Son. That is why the Cross, as I wrote in the encyclical Deus caritas est
, is the "culmination of that turning of God against himself in which he gives himself in order to raise man up and save him. This is love in its most radical form
.” (n. 12)
How do we respond to this radical love from the Lord? The Gospel presents us with a personage called Nicodemus who goes in search of Jesus at night. He is an upright man who is attracted by the words and example of the Lord, but who hesistates to make the leap of faith. He feels the fascination of this rabbi who is so different from the rest, but he is unable to rid himself of the conditioning of his environment and stands vacillating at the threshold of faith. How many, even in our time, are in search and looking for a “sign” that will touch their mind and their heart!
Then as now, the evangelist reminds us that the only “sign” is Jesus raised on the Cross, Jesus who dies and is resurrected. In Him we can understand the truth of life and obtain salvation. This is the central message that the Church proclaims, which has remained unchanged through the centuries. The Christian faith therefore is not an ideology, but a personal encouner with the crucified and risen Christ
. From this experience, which is both individual and communitarian, comes a new mode of thinking and behaving: it gives rise, as the lives of the saints give witness, to a life marked by love.
Dear friends, this mystery is particularly eloquent in your parish, dedicated to God the merciful Father. That was the wish of my beloved predecessor John Paul II to commemorate the Great Jubilee of 2000, because it condenses efectively the meaning of that extraordinary spiritual event.
Meditating on the Lord’s mercy, which was revealed totally and definitively in the mystery of the Cross, I was reminded of the text which John Paul II had prepared for his meeting with the faithful on Sunday, April 3, Sunday in Albis
. In the divine design it was written, however, that he would leave us on the eve of that day, Saturday, April 2, and so, he was unable to say the words which I am now happy to convey to you, dear brothers and sisters.
He wrote: "To humanity, which at times seems lost and dominated by the powers of evil, by selfishness and fear, the risen Lord offers the gift of his love which forgives, reconciles and opens up the spirit to hope. It is love that converts hearts and gives peace." Then he added: “How much need the world has to understand and to accept Divine Mercy!”
(L’Osservatore Romano, 4 April 2005)
To understand and accept the mercy of God: let this be your commitment, above all within your families and then everywhere in your district
I wish this for you from the heart as I greet you all cordially, starting with the priests who are responsible for your community under the guidance of your parish priest, Don Gianfranco Corbino, whom I sincerely thank for having been the spokesman of your feelings. Likewise I greet my Cardinal Vicar Camillo Ruini and Cardinal Cresencio Sepe, titular of your church, the Vice-Regent and Bishop of the east sector of Rome, and all those who actively work together in the various parochial services.
I know that yours is a young parish, barely 10 years old, which has passed its first years in precarious conditions while you awaited the completion of the present parish buildings. I also know that the initial difficulties, instead of discouraging you, encouraged a communal apostolic commitment, with particular attention to catechetical instruction, liturgy and works of charity.
Continue, dear friends, on the course you have undertaken, striving to make of your parish a true family where faithfulness to the word of God and to the Tradition of the Church become, day after day, ever more the rule of life
I also know that your church, because of its original architecture, is a destination for many visitors. Make them appreciate not only the beauty of the holy edifice but above all the riches of a living community that is committed to bear witness to the love of God the merciful Father – that love which is the true secret of Christian joy, to which today’s Laetare Sunday calls us.
Turning our look towards Mary, “Mother of Holy Joy”, let us ask her to help us to understand more profoundly the reasons for our faith in order that, as today’s liturgy exhorts us, we may respond to God’s eternal and boundless love with renewed spirit and joyous hearts. Amen.
[Modificato da TERESA BENEDETTA 26/03/2006 19.30]
| 3/27/2006 4:53 PM
| At 11:00 this morning, the Holy Father received the new Cardinals, along with their families and guests, in a special audience at the Aula Paolo VI. Here is an English translation of his multilingual address to those present:
POPE 'S AUDIENCE WITH NEW CARDINALS - 3/27/06
He started in Italian
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and PresbiteraTe,
After the solemn celebration of the Consistory, which offered us the possiblity of experiencing moments of prayer and intense brotherhood, I am happy to meet with you again.
With a grateful spirit to the Lord for this joyous occaison, we ask him to sustain the new cardinals and protect them in the fulfillment of the various ministries that they carry out in the Church. We ask Jesus the Good Shephered particularly to continue to accompany them with his grace. To all you who are here today, family members and faithful who have come to share these days of celebration with the new Cardinals, I address my most cordial greetings.
I greet you first of all, venerable Italian cardinals – I greet you, Lord Cardinal Agostino Valli, Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signature; I greet you, Lord Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, Archbishop of Bologna; I greet you, Lord Cardinal Andrea Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Paul outside-the-walls.
You, venerable brothers, are surrounded today by so many dear persons whose presence, besides being a sign of friendship and affection, is also a visible manifestation of the fecund communion of good men who animate the Church. May the Lord render each of us ever more generous witnesses of his love.
The following is translated from French
I cordially greet the new Cardinal AlbertVanhoye, as well as his Jesuit brothers, his family and all the French-speaking people who came for the Consistory, in which Mons. Jean-Pierre Ricard, Archbishop of Bordeaux and current president of the French bishops conference, was also made cardinal.
I give thanks for the fecund exegetic work of Cardinal Vanhoye, who devoted himself to scrutinizing the Gospels and to transmitting his knowledge patiently to many generations of young people, giving them the means to live the Gospel and be witnesses of it. May you all regularly take the time to nourish yourself with the Scriptures.
He said the following in English:
I extend warm greetings to the newly created English-speaking Cardinals: Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith; Cardinal Gaudencio Rosales, Archbishop of Manila, the Philippines; Cardinal Nicholas Cheong Jin-suk, Archbishop of Seoul, Korea; Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., Archbishop of Boston, United States of America; Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun, SDB, Bishop of Hong Kong, China; and Cardinal Peter Dery, Archbishop Emeritus of Tamale, Ghana.
Venerable and dear Brothers, in renewing to you my fraternal greetings and offering my fervent prayers for the mission that has been entrusted to you for the service of the universal Church, I once again commend you to the protection of Mary, Mother of the Church.
I also wish to greet the family members and friends of our newly created Cardinals, together with the lay faithful, who have accompanied them to Rome for the solemn celebrations of last Friday and Saturday. I trust that your time here in the Eternal City will deepen your love of the Church and strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ our Saviour and Lord! I encourage you to continue to pray for our Cardinals and to support them with your love and affection. May God Bless you all!
Translated from Spanish
I greet the two new Spanish-speaking cardinals and all the faithful from Latin America and Spain who accompany them. I particularly greet your families, brother bishops, priests, religious and seminarians here, expecially those from the Seminary of Toledo.
Venezuela rejoices for its Cardinal Jorge Liberato Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, who is accompanied by his aged mother. In Valencia earlier as well as in the capital today, he has carried out many pastoral initiatives for the good of his beloved nation.
Spain is honored with Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, Archbishop of Toledo, who previously carried out a fruitful ministry in Avila and Granada, giving ample proof of his constant commitment to their respective ecclesiastical communities.
Your peoples are distinguished by their faithfulness to the Successor of Peter and for their devotion to the Virgin Mary. May she always be the Star who guides your respective Churches in your evangelizing mission.
In Polish (as translated here from the Italian
I salute dear Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, his family, friends and guests. Together with you all, I express to the new Cardinal our gratitude for all the years he spent by the side fo John Paul II and for all that his service has brought to the universal Church. I pray that his future ministry will be equally fruitful. I bless everyone here from the heart.
In Slovenian (also translated here from the Italian
I address a cordial welcome to Cardinal Franz Rode, his countrymen and friends, especially the faithful of the Archdiocese of Ljubljana, of which he, until not so long ago, was Pastor. I am happy to note that the Church in Slovenia is able to contribute to the mission of the Apostolic See in the person of the new Cardinal.
His responsibility as Prefect of the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrtaed Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life is of great importance. Continue to accompany him in his service with your prayers so that the Church may progress further along the road to holiness.
He ended speaking in Italian once again
Dear brothers, thank you once again for your visit. In renewing to you, Lord Cardinals, my fraternal greetings, I wish to assure you that I accompany you with my prayers.
I know, on my part, that I will be able to count always on your collaboration of which I feel the need. May the meetings of the entire College of Cardinals with the Successor of Peter, such as we had last Thursday, cpntinue to be privileged occasions to seek together how to better serve the Church which has been entrusted by Christ to our care.
May the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and Saints Peter and Paul watch over each of you and your daily tasks. With these sentiments, I impart from the heart the Apostolic Blessing to you and to all those who surround you with such joy and affection.
| 3/29/2006 5:36 PM
The new cardinals shown at the special audience given to them and their families, friends and delegations by the Pope
on Monday 3/27/06.
Photo-montage by Sylvie. Photos by catholicpressphoto
| 3/30/2006 2:10 PM
| The Pope met at noon today, 3/30/06, at the VAtican's Hall of Benedictions with participants in the conference of the Partito Popolare Europeo, an organization of European Parliamentarians belonging to Christian-inspired political parties. Here is the address that he delivered to them in English
POPE ADDRESSES EUROPEAN 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 Honourable Mr Pöttering 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 neighbourhood 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, 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 defence 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 offence 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.