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5/16/2008 8:46 PM
 
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ADDRESS TO THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE PASTORAL CARE OF MIGRANTS, 5/15/08
TO BE TRANSLATED
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5/16/2008 8:48 PM
 
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ADDRESS TO THE CONGRESS OF THE'ORDU VIRGINUM', 5/15/08
TO BE TRANSLATED
5/16/2008 8:54 PM
 
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ADDRESS TO BISHOPS OF THAILAND ON 'AD LIMINA' VISIT, 5/16/08


This morning, the Holy Father addressed the Bishops of Thailand, whom he has been meeting in separate groups on their current 'ad limina' visit to Rome. Here is the text of the address which he delviered in English:


Dear Brother Bishops,

"Lord, send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth" (cf. Ps 104:30).

With these words of the Pentecost antiphon I cordially welcome you, the Bishops of Thailand. I thank Bishop Phimphisan for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf. I warmly reciprocate them and assure you of my prayers for yourselves and all those entrusted to your pastoral care.

Your visit ad Limina Apostolorum is an occasion to strengthen your commitment to make Jesus increasingly visible within the Church and known in society through witness to the love and truth of his Gospel.

The great feast of Pentecost which we have recently celebrated reminds us that the Spirit of the Lord fills the whole world and prompts us to bring Christ to all peoples. In your country this mission of the small Catholic community is undertaken within the context of relationships, most especially with Buddhists.

In fact, you have readily expressed to me your great respect for the Buddhist monasteries and the esteem you have for the contribution they make to the social and cultural life of the Thai people.

The coexistence of different religious communities today unfolds against the backdrop of globalization. Recently I observed that the forces of globalization see humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand there is the growing multitude of economic and cultural bonds which usually enhance a sense of global solidarity and shared responsibility for the well-being of humanity.

On the other, there are disturbing signs of a fragmentation and a certain individualism in which secularism takes hold, pushing the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipsing the very source of harmony and unity within the universe.

The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon, which cause dismay to yourselves and other religious leaders in your country, in fact point to the importance of inter-religious cooperation. They call for a concerted effort to uphold the spiritual and moral soul of your people.

In concordance with Buddhists, you can promote mutual understanding concerning the transmission of traditions to succeeding generations, the articulation of ethical values discernable to reason, reverence for the transcendent, prayer and contemplation.

Such practices and dispositions serve the common well-being of society and nurture the essence of every human being.

As shepherds of small and scattered flocks, you draw comfort from the sending of the Paraclete, who advocates, counsels and protects (cf. Jn 14:16). Encourage the faithful to embrace all that begets the new life of Pentecost!

The Spirit of truth reminds us that the Father and the Son are present in the world through those who love Christ and keep his word (cf. Jn 14:22-23), becoming disciples sent forth to bear fruit (cf. Jn 15:8). The outpouring of the Spirit is therefore both a gift and a task; a task which in turn becomes itself an epiphanic gift: the presentation of Christ and his love to the world.

In Thailand, that gift is encountered particularly through the Church’s medical clinics and social works as well as through her schools, for it is there that the noble Thai people may come to recognize and know the face of Jesus Christ.

Dear Brothers, you have rightly noted that Catholic schools and colleges make a remarkable contribution to the intellectual formation of numerous young Thais. They should also make an outstanding contribution to the spiritual and moral education of the young.

Indeed, it is for these crucial aspects of the formation of the person that parents – whether Catholic or Buddhist – turn to Catholic schools.

In this regard, I wish to appeal to the many men and women religious who diligently serve in Catholic institutions of learning in your Dioceses. Theirs should not primarily be a role of administration but of mission.

As consecrated persons they are called to be "witnesses of Christ, epiphany of the love of God in the world", and require "the courage of testimony and the patience of dialogue" serving "the dignity of human life, the harmony of creation, and the peaceful existence of peoples" (Consecrated Persons and their Mission in Schools, 1-2).

It is of the utmost importance, therefore, that Religious remain close to the students and their families, most especially through their classroom teaching of the catechism for Catholics and others interested, and through moral formation and care for the spiritual needs of all in the school community.

I encourage Congregations in their commitment to the education apostolate, confident that fee structures will be fair and transparent, and trusting that schools will become increasingly accessible to the poor who so often long for the faithful embrace of Christ.

A fine example of the proclamation of the mighty works of God (cf. Acts 2:11) is the service undertaken in your communities by catechists. They have embraced with great zeal and generosity Saint Paul’s burning conviction: "woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9:16). This task cannot, however, be left to them alone.

It is the ministry of your priests to "announce the divine word to all" and to "labour in preaching and teaching" (Rite of Ordination, no. 102). This fundamental priestly role which, to be effective, requires a sound philosophical and theological formation, cannot be delegated to others.

Rather, when well-trained catechists work together with their parish priests the branches of the vine bear much fruit (cf. Jn 15:5). To this end, your own reports allude to various kerygmatic tasks requiring attention, including the formation of spouses who are not Catholic and pastoral solicitude for the many Catholic individuals and families who in moving from rural parts to the cities risk losing contact with parish life.

Lastly, dear Brothers, I wish to express my appreciation for the efforts of the entire Catholic community of Thailand to uphold the dignity of every human life, especially the most vulnerable.

Of particular concern to you is the scourge of the trafficking of women and children, and prostitution. Undoubtedly poverty is a factor underlying these phenomena, and in this regard I know much is being achieved through the Church’s development programmes.

But there is a further aspect which must be acknowledged and collectively addressed if this abhorrent human exploitation is to be effectively confronted. I am speaking of the trivialization of sexuality in the media and entertainment industries which fuels a decline in moral values and leads to the degradation of women, the weakening of fidelity in marriage and even the abuse of children.

With fraternal affection I offer these reflections, wishing to affirm you in your desire to receive the Spirit’s flame so that you may with one voice proclaim the Good News of Jesus!

To you all, and to your priests, religious, seminarians and lay faithful, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.


5/23/2008 2:04 AM
 
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HOMILY FOR CORPUS CHRISTI, 5/22/08


Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily at the Eucharistic Celebration this evening to mark the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Mass was celebrated in the piazza in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and was followed by the now-traditional Eucharistic Procession led by the Pope to Santa Maria Maggiore.





Dear brothers and sisters!


After the high point of the liturgical year that extends over three months and centers on Easter - first the 40 days of Lent, then the 50 days of Eastertide - the liturgy then marks three feasts that have a 'synthetic' character [in the sense of summarizing significance]: Trinity Sunday, then Corpus Domini, and finally the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

What is the significance of the feast we mark today to pay homage to the Body and Blood of Christ? The celebration itself tells us, as we manifest its fundamental acts.

First of all, we are gathered around the altar of the Lord, to be together in his presence. In the second place, we will have the procession, which means, walking with the Lord. and finally, kneeling before the Lord - adoration - which starts in the Mass and accompanies the whole procession, then culminates in the final Eucharistic Benediction, when we all prostrate ourselves before Him who stooped down to us and gave his life for us.

Let us pause a bit over these three attitudes, because they are truly an expression of our faith and our life.

The first act is to gather in the presence of the Lord. This was called in ancient times 'statio'. Let us imagine for a moment that in all of Rome there exists no other altar but this one, and that all Christians of the city are invited to assemble here to celebrate the Savior who died and was resurrected.

This gives us an idea of what it was like in the beginning, in Rome and so many other cities where the message of the Gospel and the Eucharistic celebration reached. In every local Church, there was only one bishop, and the community formed around him, around the Eucharistic sacrament that he celebrated - a single one, because there was one blessed Chalice and one bread that was broken, as we heard in the words of the Apostle Paul in the second Reading (cfr 1 Cor 10,16-17)

Another famous Pauline expression comes to mind: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3,28).

All of you are not just one thing, but one! In these words are felt the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound in human history, which is experienced precisely around the Eucharist: when persons of all ages, gender, social condition and political leaning gather in the presence of the Lord.

The Eucharist can never be a private matter, reserved for persons who are chosen out of affinity or friendship. The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric nor exclusive about it.

Even here, tonight, we did not choose whom we would meet, we have come here and find ourselves next to each other, bound by a common faith and called to become one body, sharing the only Bread who is Christ.

We are united beyond our differences in nationality, profession, social class, political ideas. But we are open to one another in order to become one in his name. From the very beginning, this has been a characteristic of Christianity which is visibly realized around the Eucharist. We must protect it, so that recurrent temptations of particularism, although in good faith, do not result in the opposite.

Corpus Domini reminds as above all that to be Christian means to come together everywhere in the presence of the one Lord and become one with him and in him.

Te second constitutive aspect of this feast is walking with the Lord. That is the reality manifested in the procession that we will experience together after the Mass, almost like its natural extension, as we move behind him who is the Life and the Way.

By giving himself in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus releases us from 'paralysis', he makes us get up and go on, to take one step forward, and then another, and thus proceed on our journey with the strength that comes from the Bread of life.

That is what happened to the prophet Elijah, who fled to the desert for fear of his enemies, and had decided to let himself die doing so (cfr 1 Kings 19,1-4). But God roused him from sleep and made him find a hearth cake next to him: " "Get up and eat," he told him, "else the journey will be too long for you!" (1 Kings 19,5.7).

The procession of Corpus Domini teaches us that the Eucharist means to rid us of every despondency and dejection, to make us rise up again so we can continue our journey with the strength that God gives us through Jesus Christ.

The first Reading spoke to us about the experience of the people of Israel during the exodus from Egypt, their long wanderings across the desert - an experience that was constitutive for Israel but also exemplary for all mankind.

In fact, the expression "not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD" (Dt 8,3) is a universal statement that applies to every man insofar as he is human.

Everyone can find his own way, if he encounters him who is the Word and the Bread of Life, and lets himself be led by his friendly presence. If we do not have God-with-us, God next to us, how could we sustain the pilgrimage of existence, whether as individuals, or as a society or family of peoples?

The Eucharist is the sacrament of God who will not leave us alone along the way, but is right beside us to show the way. Indeed, it is not enough to move ahead, but one must know where one is going. "Progress' does not suffice, if one has no reference points - because if one goes off course, then one could end up in a precipice, or at the very least, find oneself farther away from the destination.

God has created us free, but has not left us alone. He made himself the 'way' and has come to walk with us, because our freedom also includes the discernment to choose the right way and to take it.

At this point, we cannot help but think of the 'decalogue', the Ten Commandments, in which it is written: "I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me" (Ex 20,2-3).

We find in this the third constitutive element of Corpus Domini: to kneel in adoration in front of the Lord.

To adore the God of Jesus Christ, who, out of love, became bread to be broken, is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday as well as today. To kneel in front of the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: whoever bows before Jesus cannot and should not prostrate himself before any earthly power, no matter how strong.

We Christians only kneel before God, before the Most Blessed Sacrament, because we believe and know that the one true God is present, who created the world and loved man so much that for his sake, he gave his only begotten Son (cfr Jn 3,16).

We prostrate ourselves before a God who was the first to bend down to man, like the Good Samaritan, to help him and give him back life, who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet.

To adore the Body of Christ means to believe that he is truly present in that piece of bread, Christ who gives sense to life - to the immense universe as to its littlest creature, to the entire human history as to the briefest of existence.

Adoration is a prayer that prolongs Eucharistic celebration and communion, during which the soul continues to nourish itself: it feeds on love, on truth, on peace. It feeds on hope, because he before whom we bow, does not judge us, does not crush us, but frees and transforms us.

And that is why being together, walking together, and adoring together fills us with joy. Taking on ourselves the adoring attitude of Mary, whom we specially remember in this month of May, let us pray for ourselves and for everyone. Let us pray for every person in this city that he may know you, our Father, and him who you sent us, Jesus Christ, and thus, have life in abundance. Amen.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/23/2008 2:07 AM]
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HOMILY FOR CORPUS CHRISTI, 5/22/08


Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily at the Eucharistic Celebration this evening to mark the Solemnity of the Body and Blood of Christ. The Mass was celebrated in the piazza in front of the Basilica of St. John Lateran, and was followed by the now-traditional Eucharistic Procession led by the Pope to Santa Maria Maggiore.







Dear brothers and sisters!


After the high point of the liturgical year that extends over three months and centers on Easter - first the 40 days of Lent, then the 50 days of Eastertide - the liturgy then marks three feasts that have a 'synthetic' character [in the sense of summarizing significance]: Trinity Sunday, then Corpus Domini, and finally the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

What is the significance of the feast we mark today to pay homage to the Body and Blood of Christ? The celebration itself tells us, as we manifest its fundamental acts.

First of all, we are gathered around the altar of the Lord, to be together in his presence. In the second place, we will have the procession, which means, walking with the Lord. and finally, kneeling before the Lord - adoration - which starts in the Mass and accompanies the whole procession, then culminates in the final Eucharistic Benediction, when we all prostrate ourselves before Him who stooped down to us and gave his life for us.

Let us pause a bit over these three attitudes, because they are truly an expression of our faith and our life.

The first act is to gather in the presence of the Lord. This was called in ancient times 'statio'. Let us imagine for a moment that in all of Rome there exists no other altar but this one, and that all Christians of the city are invited to assemble here to celebrate the Savior who died and was resurrected.

This gives us an idea of what it was like in the beginning, in Rome and so many other cities where the message of the Gospel and the Eucharistic celebration reached. In every local Church, there was only one bishop, and the community formed around him, around the Eucharistic sacrament that he celebrated - a single one, because there was one blessed Chalice and one bread that was broken, as we heard in the words of the Apostle Paul in the second Reading (cfr 1 Cor 10,16-17)

Another famous Pauline expression comes to mind: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus" (Gal 3,28).

All of you are not just one thing, but one! In these words are felt the truth and the power of the Christian revolution, the most profound in human history, which is experienced precisely around the Eucharist: when persons of all ages, gender, social condition and political leaning gather in the presence of the Lord.

The Eucharist can never be a private matter, reserved for persons who are chosen out of affinity or friendship. The Eucharist is public worship, which has nothing esoteric nor exclusive about it.

Even here, tonight, we did not choose whom we would meet, we have come here and find ourselves next to each other, bound by a common faith and called to become one body, sharing the only Bread who is Christ.

We are united beyond our differences in nationality, profession, social class, political ideas. But we are open to one another in order to become one in his name. From the very beginning, this has been a characteristic of Christianity which is visibly realized around the Eucharist. We must protect it, so that recurrent temptations of particularism, although in good faith, do not result in the opposite.

Corpus Domini reminds as above all that to be Christian means to come together everywhere in the presence of the one Lord and become one with him and in him.

Te second constitutive aspect of this feast is walking with the Lord. That is the reality manifested in the procession that we will experience together after the Mass, almost like its natural extension, as we move behind him who is the Life and the Way.

By giving himself in the Eucharist, the Lord Jesus releases us from 'paralysis', he makes us get up and go on, to take one step forward, and then another, and thus proceed on our journey with the strength that comes from the Bread of life.

That is what happened to the prophet Elijah, who fled to the desert for fear of his enemies, and had decided to let himself die doing so (cfr 1 Kings 19,1-4). But God roused him from sleep and made him find a hearth cake next to him: " "Get up and eat," he told him, "else the journey will be too long for you!" (1 Kings 19,5.7).

The procession of Corpus Domini teaches us that the Eucharist means to rid us of every despondency and dejection, to make us rise up again so we can continue our journey with the strength that God gives us through Jesus Christ.

The first Reading spoke to us about the experience of the people of Israel during the exodus from Egypt, their long wanderings across the desert - an experience that was constitutive for Israel but also exemplary for all mankind.

In fact, the expression "not by bread alone does man live, but by every word that comes forth from the mouth of the LORD" (Dt 8,3) is a universal statement that applies to every man insofar as he is human.

Everyone can find his own way, if he encounters him who is the Word and the Bread of Life, and lets himself be led by his friendly presence. If we do not have God-with-us, God next to us, how could we sustain the pilgrimage of existence, whether as individuals, or as a society or family of peoples?

The Eucharist is the sacrament of God who will not leave us alone along the way, but is right beside us to show the way. Indeed, it is not enough to move ahead, but one must know where one is going. "Progress' does not suffice, if one has no reference points - because if one goes off course, then one could end up in a precipice, or at the very least, find oneself farther away from the destination.

God has created us free, but has not left us alone. He made himself the 'way' and has come to walk with us, because our freedom also includes the discernment to choose the right way and to take it.

At this point, we cannot help but think of the 'decalogue', the Ten Commandments, in which it is written: "I am the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. You shall not have other gods besides me" (Ex 20,2-3).

We find in this the third constitutive element of Corpus Domini: to kneel in adoration in front of the Lord.

To adore the God of Jesus Christ, who, out of love, became bread to be broken, is the most valid and radical remedy against the idolatries of yesterday as well as today. To kneel in front of the Eucharist is a profession of freedom: whoever bows before Jesus cannot and should not prostrate himself before any earthly power, no matter how strong.

We Christians only kneel before God, before the Most Blessed Sacrament, because we believe and know that the one true God is present, who created the world and loved man so much that for his sake, he gave his only begotten Son (cfr Jn 3,16).

We prostrate ourselves before a God who was the first to bend down to man, like the Good Samaritan, to help him and give him back life, who knelt before us to wash our dirty feet.

To adore the Body of Christ means to believe that he is truly present in that piece of bread, Christ who gives sense to life - to the immense universe as to its littlest creature, to the entire human history as to the briefest of existence.

Adoration is a prayer that prolongs Eucharistic celebration and communion, during which the soul continues to nourish itself: it feeds on love, on truth, on peace. It feeds on hope, because he before whom we bow, does not judge us, does not crush us, but frees and transforms us.

And that is why being together, walking together, and adoring together fills us with joy. Taking on ourselves the adoring attitude of Mary, whom we specially remember in this month of May, let us pray for ourselves and for everyone. Let us pray for every person in this city that he may know you, our Father, and him who you sent us, Jesus Christ, and thus, have life in abundance. Amen.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/23/2008 2:06 AM]
5/30/2008 8:06 PM
 
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I am so behind in translations - I will check which are already available on LEV/Zenit. Meanwhile, these are the messages/addresses that the Holy Father gave in a language other than English after Corpus Christi Thursday:
5/22 Message for the 97th German Katholikentag
5/23 Address to Albanian bishops on ad-limina visit. Italian.
5/23 Address to Pontifical Council for Social Communications. Italian.
5/23 Eulogy for Cardinal Gantin. Italian.
5/24 Addresses to the Macedonian and Bulgarian delegations. Italian.
5/24 Letter designating Cardinal Daneels as Papal Represenative to the anniversary cellebrations of
Our Lady of Banneux in Belgium. Latin.
5/29 Address to nine new ambasssadors. French.
5/29 Individual messages to each of the 9 ambassadors (7 in English, 2 in French).
5/29 Address to the General Assembly of the Italian Bishops Conference. Italian.
I am providing spaces for these posts before posting today's English messages.




[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2008 4:33 AM]
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ADDRESS TO THE 2008 GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE ITALIAN BISHOPS CONFERENCE
, 5/29/08



At noon on 5/29/08, the Holy Father met with the General Assembly of the Italian bishops conference (CEI) at the Vatican's Synod Hall. Before addressing them, the Pope visited the exhibit set up in the Atrium of the Aula Paolo VI to mark the 40th anniversary of Avvenire, the CEI newspaper. Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address:





Dear brother bishops of Italy,

This is the fourth time during which I have the joy of meeting you gathered for your General Assembly, to reflect with you on the mission of the Church in Italy and the life of this beloved nation.

I greet your president, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, and I thank him most sincere;y for the kind words that he addressed to me in your name. I greet all the vice presidents and the Secretary General. And I greet each of you with the affection that comes from knowing that we are all members of the one mystical Body of Christ and are participants together in the same mission.

I wish first of all to congratulate you for having placed at the center of your agenda a reflection on how to promote the encounter of young people with the Gospel, and concretely, on the fundamental questions of evangelization and education of the new generations.

In Italy as in many other countries, what we have called a true and proper 'educative emergency' has emerged quite forcefully. In fact, when a society lives within a culture marked by pervasive relativism which is often aggressive, then the basic certainties seem to be unimportant - the values and hopes that give sense to life. Both among parents and among teachers, the temptation becomes widespread to renounce one's own task, and even before that, not to understand anymore what their own role and mission is.

Therefore, the children, adolescents and young people - although they may be surrounded by many attentions and even perhaps excessively protected from the trials and difficulties of life - ultimately feel left alone to face the great questions that they inevitably harbor within, as well as the expectations and challenges which they feel looming over their future.

For us bishops, our priests, catechists and the entire Christian community, the educative emergency takes on a more precise face: transmitting the faith to the new generations.

Even here - and in a certain sense, especially in this respect - we should measure ourselves against the obstacles interposed by relativism, by a culture that places God within parentheses and which discourages any choice that is truly demanding, particularly the definitive choices, in favor of self-affirmation and immediate self-gratification in the different areas of life.

To face such difficulties, the Holy Spirit has already inspired in the Church many evangelical charisms and energies, which are particularly lively in Italian Catholicism. It is our task as bishops to welcome these new forces with joy, to support them, promote their maturation, guide and direct them so that they may always stay within the great riverbed of the faith and the church community.

Besides that, we should give a more outstanding profile to evangelization in the many forms and occasions of encounter that we have with the world of young people - in the parishes, oratories, and schools, particularly Catholic schools - and in many other places were they gather together.

Most important, above all, obviously, are personal relationships with them, especially in sacramental confession and in spiritual guidance. Each of these occasions is an opportunity for us to make our children and young people get to know the face of that God who is man's true friend.

The big meetings with them, such as what we experienced in Loreto last September, and that which we will have in Sydney this July, with the presence of many young people from Italy, are the communal, public and festive expression of that expectation, that love and that confidence in Christ and the Church that must be rooted in the spirit of the young.

These meetings are a time to harvest the fruit of our daily pastoral work. At the same time, they help us breathe fully the universality of the Church and the brotherhood that should unite all nations.

Even in the wider social context, the actual educative emergency itself increases the demand for an education which is truly that: therefore, concretely, it calls for educators who can be credible witnesses of that reality and those values on which it is possible to build both personal existence as well as plans for a life that is shared and lived in common with others.

This demand, that comes from the social body and which involves the children and young people no less than their parents and educators, constitutes in itself the premise and the start for a course of rediscovery and recovery which, in forms adapted to present times, place at the center once again the full and integral formation of the human being.

How can we not, in this context, say a word about those specific places of formation that schools are? In a democratic state, which prides itself on promoting free initiative in every field, it does not seem justified to exclude church institutions involved in education from adequate support.

It is, in fact, legitimate to ask whether the quality of teaching would not benefit from the stimulating competition among different formative centers inspired by multiple popular elements - each respecting a curriculum prescribed and valid for all, while concerned with interpreting the educative choices made by individual families. Everything indicates that such a competition would not fail to produce beneficial effects.

Dear brother bishops of Italy, it is not only in the most important field of education, but in its overall situation that Italy now needs to come out of a difficult period, in which social and economic dynamism appear to have weakened, confidence in the future diminished, and in its place, a growing sense of insecurity because of the poor conditions of so many families, with the resulting tendency for each one to be closed off in his own concerns.

It is precisely with an awareness of this context that we note with particular joy the signs of a new climate in the country that is more confident and constructive. It is linked to the emergence of more tranquil relations among political forces and institutions, by virtue of a more sincere perception of common responsibilities for the future of the nation.

What is comforting is that this perception seems to be widening into popular opinion, and to all social categories. The desire is widespread to carry on, to resolve together at least the most urgent and serious problems in order to pave the way for a new season of growth, not only economic but also civic and moral.

Obviously, this climate must be consolidated because it could well evaporate if it is not matched by any concrete result. But in itself it already represents a precious resource, which it is the task of everyone, according to his own role and responsibility, to preserve and to reinforce.

As bishops, we cannot fail to give our own specific contribution so that Italy may have a new season of progress and concord, fruit of the energies and impulses deriving from its great Christian history.

To this end, we must above all affirm and bear direct witness to our ecclesiastical community and to the entire Italian people that even if there are so many problems to face, the fundamental problem of man today remains the question of God.

No human or social problem can truly be solved if God does not return to the center of our life, Only by an encounter with the living God, source of that hope which changes us within and which does not disappoint (Rom 5,5) is it possible to find once again a strong and sure confidence in life and give consistency and vigor to our plans for good.

I wish to repeat to you, dear Italian bishops, what I said last April 16 to our brother bishops in the United States: "As announcers of the Gospel and leaders of the Catholic community, you are called upon to take part even in the exchange of ideas in the public arena, in order to help shape adequate cultural attitudes."

In the context of a healthy and well understood secularity, it is necessary to resist every tendency to consider religion, in particular Christianity, as a fact that is merely private: rather, the perspectives born from our faith can offer a fundamental contribution to clarifying and solving the major social and moral problems in Italy and Europe today.

Rightly, you are dedicating great attention to the family founded on matrimony, to promote a pastoral ministry that is up to the challenges it must face, to encourage the affirmation of a culture that is favorable and not hostile to the family and to human life, as much as you must ask public institutions to have a consistent and organic policy that acknowledges the central role that the family plays in society , particularly in the generation and education of children. Italy has a great and urgent need for such a policy.

Likewise strong and constant must be our commitment to the dignity adn protection of human life at every moment and in every condition, from conception to the embryonic stage to situations of sickness and suffering up to natural death.

Nor can we close our eyes and keep quiet in the face of the poverty, difficulties and social injustices that afflict a great part of mankind and require the generous commitment of everyone, a commitment that should extend to all needy persons even if they are unknown to us.

Of course, the willingness to come to their aid should be manifested in respect of the laws that are intended to assure the orderly course of social life within a state, as well as with regard to those who come into the state from other places.

It is not necessary for me to make this proposal more concrete: you, along with your dear priests, know full well the concrete and real situations out there because you live among your people.

It is therefore an extraordinary opportunity for the Church in Italy to be able to use the means of information which can convey its concerns and positions in the public debate in a manner that is certainly free and autonomous but in a spirit of sincere sharing.

I rejoice with you at the 40th anniversary of the founding of the newspaper Avvenire and I sincerely hope that it will continue to gain in readership.

I am also happy at the publication of a new Italian translation of the Bible, and for the copy that you presented me. It fits very well into our preparations for the coming Synod of Bishops which will reflect on "The Word of God int he life and mission of the Church".

Dearest brother bishops of Italy, I assure you of my nearness and constant remembrance in my prayers. I impart with great affection the apostolic blessing on each of you, your Churches and the entire Italian nation.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2008 7:25 AM]
5/30/2008 8:12 PM
 
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ADDRESS TO BISHOPS OF MYANMAR, 5/30/08


Here is the text of the address given in English by the Holy Father today to the visiting bishops from Myanmar.





My dear brother Bishops,

I am pleased to welcome you, the Bishops of Myanmar, who have come to the City of Rome to venerate the tombs of the holy Apostles and to strengthen your communion with the Successor of Peter.

Our encounter today bears witness to the unity, charity and peace that bind us together and animate our mission to teach, guide and sanctify the people of God (cf. Lumen Gentium, 22).

I am grateful for the kind greetings and the assurance of prayers which Archbishop Paul Grawng has expressed to me in your name and on behalf of the clergy, the Religious and laity of your respective Dioceses. I wish to reciprocate with my cordial greetings and sincere prayer that "the Lord may give you peace at all times and in all ways" (cf. 2 Thess 3:16).

The Church in Myanmar is known and admired for its solidarity with the poor and needy. This has been especially evident in the concern you have shown in the aftermath of the cyclone Nargis. The numerous Catholic agencies and associations in your land show that the people under your care have heeded the Baptist’s cry: "Let he who has two coats share with him who has none; let he who has food do likewise!" (Lk 3:11).

I am confident that under your guidance, the faithful will continue to demonstrate the possibility of establishing "a fruitful link between evangelization and works of charity" (Deus Caritas Est, 30), so that others will "experience the richness of their humanity" and that "God may be glorified through Jesus Christ" (ibid., 31; cf. 1 Pt 4:8-11).

During these difficult days, I know how grateful the Burmese people are for the Church’s efforts to provide shelter, food, water, and medicine to those still in distress.

I am hopeful that, following the agreement recently reached on the provision of aid by the international community, all who are ready to help will be able to furnish the type of assistance required and enjoy effective access to the places where it is needed most.

At this critical time, I render thanks to Almighty God that he has brought us together "face to face" (1 Thess 2:17), for it gives me the occasion to reassure you that the universal Church is joined spiritually with those who mourn the loss of loved ones (cf. Rm 12:15), as she holds out to them the Lord’s promise of comfort and consolation (cf. Mt 5:4).

May God open the hearts of all so that a concerted effort may be made to facilitate and coordinate the ongoing endeavour to bring relief to the suffering and rebuild the country’s infrastructure.

The Church’s mission of charity shines forth in a particular way through the Religious life, by which men and women devote themselves with "undivided" heart to the service of God and neighbour (cf. 1 Cor 7:34; cf. Vita Consecrata, 3).

I am pleased to note that an increasing number of women are responding to the call to consecrated life in your region. I pray that their free and radical acceptance of the evangelical counsels will inspire others to embrace the life of chastity, poverty and obedience for the sake of the Kingdom.

Preparing candidates for this service of prayer and apostolic work requires an investment of time and resources. The formation courses offered by the Catholic Religious Conference of Myanmar attest to the cooperation possible between different religious communities with due respect for the particular charism of each, and point to the need for sound academic, spiritual and human formation.

Similar signs of hope are seen in the rising number of vocations to the priesthood. These men are both "called together" and "sent out to preach" (cf. Lk 9:1-2) to be examples of faithfulness and holiness for the People of God.

Filled with the Holy Spirit and led by your fatherly care, may priests perform their sacred duties in humility, simplicity and obedience (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 15). As you know, this requires a thorough formation that accords with the dignity of their priestly office.

I therefore encourage you to continue making the necessary sacrifices to ensure that seminarians receive the integral formation that will enable them to become authentic heralds of the New Evangelization (cf. Pastores Dabo Vobis, 2).

My dear brothers, the Church’s mission to spread the Good News depends on a generous and prompt response from the lay faithful to become labourers in the vineyard (cf. Mt 20:1-16; 9:37-38). They too are in need of a robust and dynamic Christian formation which will inspire them to carry the Gospel message to their workplaces, families, and to society at large (cf. Ecclesia in Asia, 22).

Your reports allude to the enthusiasm with which the laity are organizing many new catechetical and spiritual initiatives, often involving great numbers of young people. As you foster and oversee these activities, I encourage you to remind those under your care to turn continually to the nourishment of the Eucharist through participation in the liturgy and silent contemplation (cf. Ecclesia de Eucharistia, 6).

Effective programs of evangelization and catechesis also require clear planning and organization if they are to achieve the desired end of teaching Christian truth and drawing people into the love of Christ. It is desirable that they make use of appropriate aids, including booklets and audio-visual materials, to complement oral instruction and to provide common points of reference for authentic Catholic doctrine. I am certain that other local Churches throughout the world will do what they can to furnish materials whenever possible.

Your active participation in the First Asian Mission Congress has led to new initiatives for promoting goodwill with Buddhists in your country. In this regard, I encourage you as you develop ever better relations with Buddhists for the good of your individual communities and of the entire nation.

Finally, my dear brothers, I wish to express my sincere gratitude for your faithful ministry in the midst of difficult circumstances and setbacks often beyond your control.

Next month, the Church inaugurates a special Jubilee year in honour of Saint Paul. This "Apostle to the Gentiles" has been admired through the centuries for his undaunted perseverance in trials and tribulations vividly recounted in his Epistles and in the Acts of the Apostles (cf. 2 Tim 1:8-13; Acts 27:13-44).

Paul exhorts us to keep our gaze fixed on the glory that awaits us so as never to despair in the pain and sufferings of today. The gift of hope which we have received—and in which we are saved (cf. Rom 8:24)—imparts grace and transforms our way of living (cf. Spe Salvi, 3).

Enlightened by the Holy Spirit, I invite you to join Saint Paul in the sure confidence that nothing—neither distress, or persecution, or famine, nor things present, nor things to come—can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (cf. Rom 8:35-39).

Commending you to the intercession of Mary, Queen of the Apostles, I willingly impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your clergy, Religious and lay faithful.



[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2008 7:28 AM]
5/30/2008 8:22 PM
 
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LETTER TO HIS HOLINESS ALEXIS II,
PATRIARCH OF MOSCOW AND ALL THE RUSSIAS
5/19/08



The letter, written in English, was delivered to Patriaarch Alexis in Msocow yesterday by Cardinal Walter Kasper, President of the Ponifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, who is on an extended visit to Russia.







To His Holiness Alexis II
Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia

The visit to Russia of His Eminence Cardinal Walter Kasper offers me a welcome opportunity to extend my cordial greetings, to express my esteem for your ministry in the Russian Orthodox Church and to restate my appreciation for your commitment to fostering relations between Catholics and Orthodox.

It is with joy that I reflect on the experience of growing closeness between us, accompanied by the shared desire to promote authentic Christian values and to witness to our Lord in ever deeper communion.

I think with gratitude of the recent visit of Your Holiness to Strasbourg and Paris, and the warm welcome given to the Catholic Archbishop of the Archdiocese of the Mother of God in Moscow during the Christmas celebrations last year.

Another sign of fraternity and friendship towards the Catholic Church is to be seen in the invitation extended to Cardinal Kasper by His Eminence Kirill, Metropolitan of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, President of the Department for External Church Affairs of the Patriarchate of Moscow, to visit that Eparchy on the occasion of his name–day.

This is not only a sign of personal goodwill, but also a gesture towards the Catholic Church which Cardinal Kasper represents.

During his time in Russia, Cardinal Kasper will visit Kazan to venerate the icon of the Mother of God which my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II, conveyed to Your Holiness through the good offices of Cardinal Kasper, who personally accompanied the sacred image back to its homeland.

This icon bears a likeness to all the other venerable icons of the Mother of God, and as such offers a powerful sign of the closeness which exists between us. It also offers an opportunity for encounter with Muslims, who show great respect for Mary, the Mother of God.

Your Holiness has been increasingly committed to dialogue with other Christians and the members of other religions, and it is with deep gratitude that I have followed with prayerful interest the signs of friendship and trust which your Church and its representatives have demonstrated in various ways.

With gratitude for your commitment to dialogue with different ecclesial, religious and social bodies, I extend in this Easter season my warmest best wishes for your ministry, entrusting to the Lord my prayer that the great mystery of our salvation, the Death and Resurrection of our Lord, may ever more deeply guide your life and your service to the Church.

May the Risen Saviour grant you health, peace and inner joy, and may he bring us closer to each other, that we may undertake together our journey towards full communion in him.

From the Vatican
19 May 2008







[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 5/30/2008 8:34 PM]
6/1/2008 7:31 AM
 
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I have posted on this page a translation of the Holy Father's address to the Italian bishops on 5/29/08, in reserved space three posts above.


The Holy Father delivered three addresses today, 5/31 -

To the new Ambassador from Guatemala. Spanish.

To an international conference sponsored by the Centesimus Annus Foundation. Italian.

To conclude the Marian month. Italian. ( I will translate this first).










[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/1/2008 3:42 PM]
6/1/2008 3:42 PM
 
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6/1/2008 4:26 PM
 
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REMARKS AT THE CONCLUSION
OF THE MARIAN MONTH, 5/31/08



MARY'S MAGNIFICAT
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
the Almighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
he has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones,
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
for he has remembered his promise of mercy,
the promise he made to our fathers,
to Abraham and his children for ever
.





At 9 p.m. the Holy Father came to the steps of St. Peter's Basilica to address the faithful who had gathered earlier to pray the Rosary in celebration of the conclusion of the month dedicated to Mary. Here is a translation of his words:


Dear brothers and sisters!

We conclude the month of May with this evocative encounter for Marian prayers. I greet you all with affection and thank you for your participation.

I greet, fist of all, Cardinal Angelo Comastri, and with him the other cardinals, archbishops, bishops and priests who have taken part in this evening celebration.

I extend my greetings to all consecrated persons and to all of you, dear lay faithful, who have rendered homage to the Most Blessed Virgin with your presence.

We celebrate today the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin and the memory of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Therefore everything invites us to turn our attention to Mary with confidence. We also addressed her tonight with the old but ever more pious practice of the Rosary.

The Rosary, when it is not a mechanical repetition of traditional formulas, is a Biblical meditation which makes us go over the events of the life of the Lord along with the Virgin Mary, keeping them in our hearts, as she did.

In many Christian communities, during the month of May, there exists the beautiful custom of reciting the Holy Rosary in the most solemn way among families and in the parishes.

Now that the month has ended, may this good custom not end, but may it continue with greater commitment so that, in the school of Mary, the lamp of faith may shine ever more in the hearts of Christians and in their homes.

In today's feast of the Visitation, the liturgy makes us listen anew to that passage of the Gospel of Luke which recounts the trip of Mary from Nazareth to the house of her older cousin Elizabeth.

Let us imagine the state of mind of the Virgin after the Annunciation, after the angel had left. She finds herself with a great mystery enclosed in her womb. She knew that something extraordinarily unique had happened. She realized that the last chapter in the history of the world's salvation had begun.

But everything around her was just as it was before, and the village of Nazareth was completely unaware of what had happened to her.

Before thinking of herself, Mary thought instead of the elderly Elizabeth, whom she knew to be in an advanced state of pregnancy, and impelled by the mystery of love which she had just welcomed herself, she set forth 'in haste' to go and be of help to her cousin. Such was the simple and sublime greatness of Mary!

When she reached the house of Elizabeth, something happened which no painter could ever render with the beauty and profundity of the event. The interior light of the Holy Spirit enclosed both of them.

And Elizabeth, enlightened from on high, exclaimed: "Most blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how does this happen that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled" (Lk 1,42-45).

These words may have seemed disproportionate with respect to their real context. Elizabeth was one of so many older women in Israel and Mary an unknown girl in a remote village of Galilee. What could they be and what could they do in a world where other persons counted and other powers held sway?

But once again, Mary astounds us - her heart is limpid, totally open to the light of God. Her soul is without sin, not weighted down by pride and ego. The words of Elizabeth kindle in her spirit a canticle of praise which is an authentic and profound 'theological' reading of history: a reading which we should continually learn from her whose faith is without unshadowed and unspoiled.

"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord". Mary acknowledges the grandeur of God. This is the first indispensable sentiment of faith - the sentiment that gives security to the human creature and liberates him of all fear, even amidst the tempests of history.

Going beyond the superficial, Mary 'sees' with the eyes of faith the working of God in history. She is blessed because of this - because she has believed. Out of faith, she welcomed the Word of the Lord and conceived the Word Incarnate.

Her faith made her see that the thrones of the powerful of this world are all temporary, while the throne of God is the only rock that will not change nor fall. And her Magnificat, at a distance of centuries and millennia, remains the truest and most profound interpretation of history, whereas the readings made by so many sages of this world have been belied by facts in the course of centuries.

Dear brothers and sisters! Let us go back home with the Magnificat in our heart. Let u carry in us the same sentiments of praise and thanksgiving that Mary had for the Lord, her faith and her hope, her obedient abandonment into the hands of Divine Providence.

Let us imitate her example of willingness and generosity in the service of our brothers. In fact, only by welcoming God and making of our existence a disinterested and generous service to our neighbor, can we raise with joy a hymn of praise to the Lord.

May Our Lady, who invites us tonight to take refuge in her Immaculate Heart, obtain this grace for us.


[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/3/2008 1:25 AM]
6/3/2008 1:20 AM
 
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ADDRESS TO PILGRIMS FROM TURIN, 6/2/08



The Holy Father addressed some 7,000 pilgrims from Turin today at the Aula Paolo VI. Here is a translation of his address to them:



Lord Cardinals,
Dear brothers in the Episcopate and in the priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters from teh Archdiocese of Turin:

I extend my heartfelt greeting to each of you. Welcome to the home of the Successor of Peter. It is my pleasure to meet with you at the end of your pilgrimage to Rome, which crowns the spiritual and pastoral course undertaken by your diocesan community these past few years.

As I welcome you with joy, I extend my greetings above all to your Archbishop, Cardinal Severino Poletto, whom I thank for his description of the ecclesial itinerary that you have followed so far and the missionary prospects that await you.

I greet your Auxiliary Bishop, Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, the priests, religious and consecrated persons, catechists and representatives of the parishes and various organisms of your Archdiocese. I also greet the civilian officials who have chosen to join you on this pilgrimage.

Through you who are present here, I wish to to extend my greeting to the entire population of Turin, a city that is rich in both civic and religious history.

I also wish to express my particular spiritual closeness and solidarity with the people of the Pionerolo and the Cuneo, who have been stricken these days with bad weather. I assure them of prayers to the Lord so that he may welcome into his peace those who passed away and sustain all those who continue to battle grave natural calamities.

Dear brothers and sisters, after having celebrated the Eucharist yesterday at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, this morning you renewed your solemn profession of faith at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. What place could be more appropriate for a gesture as significant as the Redditio fidei [re-consignment of the faith]?

In the Basilica of St. Peter, where everything speaks of the heroism in the beginnings of Christianity, the blood of martyrs continues to be an eloquent invitation to follow Christ without compromises.

In the Basilica and in the Vatican Grottoes, Catholics from many parts of the world - though belonging to diverse cultures and speaking different languages - pause everyday to profess the same faith as part of the one Church of Christ.

Even you were able to immerse yourself in this atmosphere of sanctity and catholicity, and now, before returning to your respective communities, you are awaiting a word from the Pope to encourage you further to be consistent witnesses to the Gospel in our age.

Your Archbishop has kindly informed me of the spiritual course taken by your diocesan community since 1999 when he was called by the Lord to be your Pastor, and even more, after September 2003, when he started making his pastoral visits which, God willing, will be completed next Sunday.

In this ecclesial itinerary, you have been protagonists of a vast apostolic and missionary activity starting from an intense spiritual movement centered on the Sunday Eucharistic celebration, on weekly Eucharistic adoration, and on the rediscovery of the importance of the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Inspired by the sincere desire for a 'renewed first evangelization' , you have been concerned with bringing back those who have strayed from the Church, widening the boundaries of pastoral charity in every parochial community.

This missionary commitment has become even more widespread during this pastoral year, the year of Redditio fidei, and it found its culminating moment in the profession of faith which you proclaimed together this morning at Peter's Tomb.

But everything does not end here. After this restorative Roman pause, you must carry on with the new tasks that await you. In fact, you will dedicate the next pastoral year to the Word of God, and the next one you will be undertaking a more attentive contemplation of the mystery of the Passion of Christ.

In this context, I am very happy to meet your great hope and to acknowledge the desire of your Archbishop by agreeing to another solemn Exposition of the Holy Shroud in the spring of 2010. If God gives me life and health, I hope to come myself to this exposition.

It will be a most propitious occasion, I am sure, to contemplate that mysterious Face which speaks silently to the hearts of men, inviting them to recognize the Face of God, who "so loved the world that he gave his only Son, in order that whoever believes in him will not die but have life eternal" (Jn 3, 16).

Dear brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to entrust yourselves to Christ: Only he can satisfy the most profound expectations of the human spirit. Let no difficulty nor obstacle get in the way of your love for his Gospel!

If Jesus is the center of your families, of your parishes, and of every community, you will feel his living presence, and unity and communion will grow among the various components of the diocese.

Therefore, constantly nourish a union with the Lord through prayer and the frequent practice of the Sacraments, especially the Eucharist and Confession.

Among your pastoral concerns should be to assure a continuing Christian formation for young people and adults. Following the3 example of your saints who were attentive to the needs of the young and the poor, such as Don Bosco, Murialdo, Cottoloengo, Cafasso and many others - truly a land of saints - may your diocese shine through works of charity and a concerted effort in facing the great 'educative challenge' of the new generations.

May the heavenly Mother of Christ, whom you invoke as Comforter and Helper, protect your priests and pastoral workers; obtain for your community many saintly vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life; inspire in young people the desire to follow the high ideals of saintliness; be a comfort and support to everyone, especially for the aged, the sick, the suffering, the solitary adn teh abandoned.

While I assure you of special remembrance in my prayers, I bless you present here with affection, and extend it as well to all those who are dear to you.





6/4/2008 12:10 PM
 
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MESSAGE TO THE ROME SUMMIT
ON WORLD FOOD SECURITY, 6/3/08



Here is a translation of the Holy Father's message delivered for him by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, at the opening of the summit on the current world food crisis sponsored by the Rome-based Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, on the issue of 'World food security: the challenge of climate changes and bio-energy resources".

Cardinal Bertone heads the Vatican delegation to the 3-day meeting which ends Thursday.




Mr. President of the Italian Republic,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr. Director-General of the FAO,
Mr. Secretary General of the United Nations,
Ladies and Gentlemen:

It is my pleasure to extend my respectful and cordial greeting to you who, in different ways, represent the various components of the human family who are gathered in Rome to arrive at solutions to the problem of hunger and malnutrition.

I have asked Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, to let you know of the particular attention with which I am following your work and to assure you that I attribute great importance to the arduous task which awaits you.

Millions of men and women look to you, even as new dangers threaten their very survival, and situations of great concern place the security of their nations at risk.

Indeed, the growing globalization of markets does not always favor the availability of food, and the systems of production are often conditioned by structural limits, as well as by protectionist policies and speculative phenomena which relegate entire populations to the margins of the development processes.

In the light of such a situation, one must reiterate forcefully that hunger and malnutrition are unacceptable in a world which actually has the production levels, resources and knowledge sufficient to put an end to such tragedies and their consequences.

The great challenge today is to "globalize not only economic and commercial interests, but also the expectations of solidarity, which respect and value the contribution of every human component" (Address to the Fondazione Centesimus Annus Pro Pontefice, May 31, 2008).

I extend my appreciation and gratitude to the FAO and its Director General for having called anew the attention of the international community on all that is in the way of the battle against hunger, and for seeking action which, in order to be effective, must be united and coordinated.

In such a spirit, I would like to renew to the high personages who are taking part in this summit the wish that I expressed during my recent visit to United Nations headquarters: it is urgent to overcome 'the paradox of a multilateral consensus which continues to be in crisis because it is subordinated to the decision of a few" (Address to the UN General Assembly, April 18, 2008).

Moreover, allow me to invite you to collaborate in more transparent manner with the organizations of civilian society which are committed to narrowing the growing gap between wealth and poverty.

I call on you once again to continue with those structural reforms which, at the national level, are indispensable to successfully face the problems of underdevelopment, of which hunger and malnutrition are direct consequences. I know how much all of this is arduous and complex.

Nonetheless, how can one remain insensible to the appeals of those who, in the various continents, cannot manage to feed themselves enough to live? Poverty and malnutrition are not just random destinies, provoked by adverse climatic conditions or by disastrous natural calamities.

On the other hand, considerations that are exclusively technical or economic should not prevail over the obligation of justice towards those who suffer from hunger. The right to food "responds principally to an ethical motivation to 'feed the hungry' (cfr Mt 25,35), which impels us to share material goods as a sign of the love which we all have need of... This primary right to alimentation is intrinsically linked to the protection and defense of human life - the firm and inviolable rock on which the entire edifice of human rights is built" (Address to the new Ambassador from Guatemala, May 31, 2008).

Every person has a right to life; therefore it is necessary to promote the effective realization of such right, and the populations who suffer from lack of food should be helped to gradually become capable of satisfying their own needs for sufficient and healthy alimentation.

In this particular moment, when alimentary security is threatened by the rising price of agricultural products, new strategies must be developed in the battle against poverty and in the promotion of rural development.

This should take place through processes of structural reforms which will allow facing the challenges of such security as well as of climate changes. Moreover, the availability of food must be augmented, making the most of small farms and guaranteeing their access to the market.

But the global increase in agricultural production will only be effective if it is accompanied by effective distribution of these products and if these are destined primarily to satisfy essential needs.

This calls for a course that will surely not be easy but which would allow, among others, rediscovering the value of the rural family. It is not simply a means of transmission, from parents to children, of the systems of cultivation, conservation and distribution of food products, but it is above all a model of life, education, culture and religiosity.

Moreover, from the economic point of view, it assures effective and loving attention to the weakest, and through the principle of subsidiarity, can assume a direct role in the chain of distribution and commercialization of agricultural products destined for alimentation, reducing the costs of middlemen and favoring small-scale production.

Ladies and gentlemen, today's difficulties show how modern technologies by themselves are not sufficient to satisfy the food shortage, and neither are statistical calculations, and in emergency cases, sending food aid. All of this certainly are important but they should be completed and oriented by political activity which - inspired by those principles of natural law which are written in the hearts of men - protect the dignity of the person.

In this way, the order of creation is respected, 'the orienting criterion (being) the good of all" (Message for the World Day of Peace, Jan. 1, 2008, No. 7).

Only the protection of the person will permit fighting the principal cause of hunger, namely, that man is closed off from his fellowmen, with the loss of fraternal solidarity, justifying consumeristic lifestyles and fraying the social fabric, preserving if not directly deepening the furrows of unjust equilibrium and ignoring the most profound demands of goodness (cfr Encyclical Deus caritas est, No. 28)

If, therefore, respect for human dignity were given weight on the negotiating table, in decisions and their execution, then one can overcome insurmountable alimentary obstacles and one could eliminate - or at least diminish - the lack of interest in the good of others. As a result, it will be possible to adopt courageous provisions which will not yield in the face of hunger and malnutrition as if these were endemic phenomena that admit no solutions.

The defense of human dignity in international activities, including emergency work, would also help to view surplus production through the perspective of the needs of others and to administer with justice the fruits of creation, placing them at the disposal of all generations.

In the light of such principles, I hope that the delegations present at this meeting may take on new commitments and set themselves to realize these with great determination.

The Catholic Church, for its part, wishes to join itself to this effort. In the spirit of collaboration, it brings from ancient wisdom, inspired by the Gospel, a firm and heartfelt appeal which remains of great relevance to those who are taking part in this summit: "Give food to those who are dying of hunger, because if you do not do so, then you would kill them" (Decretum Gratiani, c. 21, d. LXXXVI).

I assure you that in this path, you can count on the contribution of the Holy See. Even as it is different from other states, it joins them in the most noble objectives to seal a commitment that, by its nature, involves the entire international community: to encourage every nation to share the needs of other peoples, having in common the goods of the earth which the Creator has destined for the entire human family.

With these sentiments, I express my most fervent wishes for the success of your work and I invoke the blessing of the Most High on you and all who are committed to the authentic progress of the person and of society.

From the Vatican
June 2, 2008


BENEDICTUS PP. XVI



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