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6/4/2008 12:10 PM
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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

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/4/2008 12:23 PM]
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6/7/2008 2:53 PM
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Here is the address delivered by the Holy Father in English to the Bishops of Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, who are on ad limina visit to Rome. He has met with them separately in small groups.

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to welcome you on your ad Limina visit, as you renew the bonds of communion in faith and love between yourselves as Pastors of God’s people in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, and the Successor of Peter in the See of Rome.

I thank you for the kind words that Archbishop Pakiam has addressed to me on your behalf, and I offer you the assurance of my prayers and good wishes for all of you and for those entrusted to your pastoral care.

By a happy coincidence, your visit to the city of the Apostles Peter and Paul comes at a time when the Church all over the world is preparing to celebrate a year dedicated to Saint Paul, the great Apostle of the Gentiles, on the two-thousandth anniversary of his birth.

I pray that you will draw inspiration from the example of this zealous apostle, outstanding teacher, and courageous witness to the truth of the Gospel. Through his intercession, may you experience renewed fervour in the great missionary task for which you, like Saint Paul, have been set apart and called (cf. Gal 1:15-16) – that of preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore.

Echoing the words addressed by Saint Paul to the elders at Ephesus, I urge you to “take heed to yourselves and to all the flock in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the Church of God which he obtained with the blood of his own Son” (Acts 20:28).

“The Church’s faith in Jesus is a gift received and a gift to be shared; it is the greatest gift which the Church can offer to Asia” (Ecclesia in Asia, 10).

Happily, the peoples of Asia display an intense yearning for God (cf. ibid., 9). In handing on to them the message that you also received (cf. 1 Cor 15:3), you are sowing the seeds of evangelization in fertile ground.

If the faith is to flourish, however, it needs to strike deep roots in Asian soil, lest it be perceived as a foreign import, alien to the culture and traditions of your people. Mindful of the manner in which Saint Paul preached the Good News to the Athenians (cf. Acts 17:22-34), you are called to present the Christian faith in ways that resonate with the “innate spiritual insight and moral wisdom in the Asian soul” (Ecclesia in Asia, 6), so that people will welcome it and make it their own.

In particular, you need to ensure that the Christian Gospel is in no way confused in their minds with secular principles associated with the Enlightenment. On the contrary, by “speaking the truth in love” (Eph 4:15) you can help your fellow citizens to distinguish the wheat of the Gospel from the chaff of materialism and relativism.

You can help them to respond to the urgent challenges posed by the Enlightenment, familiar to Western Christianity for over two centuries, but only now beginning to have a significant impact upon other parts of the world.

While resisting the “dictatorship of positivist reason” that tries to exclude God from public discourse, we should welcome the “true conquests of the Enlightenment” – especially the stress on human rights and the freedom of religion and its practice (cf. Address to the Members of the Roman Curia at the Traditional Exchange of Christmas Greetings, 22 December 2006).

By stressing the universal character of human rights, grounded in the dignity of the human person created in God’s image, you carry out an important task of evangelization, since this teaching forms an essential aspect of the Gospel. In so doing, you are following in the footsteps of Saint Paul, who knew how to express the essentials of Christian faith and practice in a way that could be assimilated by the Gentile communities to which he was sent.

This Pauline apostolate requires a commitment to inter-religious dialogue, and I encourage you to carry forward this important work, exploring every avenue open to you.

I realize that not all the territories you represent offer the same degree of religious liberty, and many of you, for example, encounter serious difficulties in promoting Christian religious instruction in schools.

Do not become disheartened, but continue to proclaim with conviction the “unsearchable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8), so that all may come to hear of the love of God made manifest in Jesus.

In the context of open and honest dialogue with Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and the followers of other religions present in your respective countries, you assist your fellow citizens to recognize and observe the law “written on their hearts” (Rom 2:15) by clearly articulating the truth of the Gospel.

In this way, your teaching can reach a wide audience and help to promote a unified vision of the common good. This in turn should help to foster growth in religious freedom and greater social cohesion between members of different ethnic groups, which can only be conducive to the peace and well-being of the entire community.

In terms of the pastoral care that you offer to your people, I would encourage you to show particular concern for your priests. Using the image evoked by Saint Paul in writing to the young Timothy, urge them to rekindle the gift of God that is within them through the laying on of hands (cf. 2 Tim 1:6).

Be a father, brother and friend to them, as Paul was to Timothy and to Titus. Lead them by example, showing them the way to imitate Christ, the Good Shepherd.

Saint Paul famously proclaimed “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). By modelling your whole life and conduct upon Christ, let your priests see what it is to live as alter Christus in the midst of your people.

In this way, not only will you inspire them to offer their whole lives “as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God” (Rom 12:1), but more young people will aspire to this sublime life of priestly service.

I am aware that in the territories you represent there are some regions where it is rare for the people to see a priest and others where the people have not yet heard the Gospel. They too have a particular claim on your pastoral solicitude and your prayers. For “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” (Rom 10:14).

Here the formation of the laity takes on added importance, so that through sound catechesis the scattered children of God can know the hope to which they have been called, “the riches of his glorious inheritance” (Eph 1:18). In this way they can be prepared to welcome the priest when he comes among them.

Tell your catechists, both lay and religious, that I remember them in my prayers, and that I appreciate the enormous contribution they make to the life of the Christian communities in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore. Through their vital work, countless men, women and children are enabled “to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge” and so come to be “filled with all the fullness of God” (Eph 3:19).

Dear brother Bishops, I pray that, as you return to your respective countries, you will “rejoice always, pray constantly, and give thanks in all circumstances: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thess 5:16).

Commending all of you and your priests, religious and lay faithful to the intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/7/2008 3:16 PM]
6/7/2008 3:00 PM
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Here is the address delivered in English today by the Holy Father to the Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialog.

I am pleased to have this opportunity to meet you at the conclusion of the Tenth Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue. To all of you taking part in this important gathering I extend cordial greetings. I thank in particular Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran for his gracious words.

"Dialogue 'in veritate et caritate': Pastoral orientations" – this is the theme of your Plenary Assembly. I am happy to learn that during these days you have sought to arrive at a deeper understanding of the Catholic Church’s approach to people of other religious traditions.

You have considered the broader purpose of dialogue – to discover the truth – and the motivation for it, which is charity, in obedience to the divine mission entrusted to the Church by our Lord Jesus Christ.

At the inauguration of my Pontificate I affirmed that "the Church wants to continue building bridges of friendship with the followers of all religions, in order to seek the true good of every person and of society as a whole" (Address to Delegates of Other Churches and Ecclesial Communities and of Other Religious Traditions, 25 April 2005).

Through the ministry of the Successors of Peter, including the work of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue, and the efforts of local Ordinaries and the People of God throughout the world, the Church continues to reach out to followers of different religions. In this way she gives expression to that desire for encounter and collaboration in truth and freedom.

In the words of my venerable Predecessor, Pope Paul VI, the Church’s principal responsibility is service to the Truth – "truth about God, truth about man and his hidden destiny, truth about the world, truth which we discover in the Word of God" (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 78).

Human beings seek answers to some of the fundamental existential questions: What is the origin and destiny of human beings? What are good and evil? What awaits human beings at the end of their earthly existence? All people have a natural duty and a moral obligation to seek the truth. Once it is known, they are bound to adhere to it and to order their whole lives in accordance with its demands (cf. Nostra Aetate, 1 and Dignitatis Humanae, 2).

Dear friends, "Caritas Christi urget nos" (2 Cor 5:14). It is the love of Christ which impels the Church to reach out to every human being without distinction, beyond the borders of the visible Church.

The source of the Church’s mission is Divine Love. This love is revealed in Christ and made present through the action of the Holy Spirit. All the Church’s activities are to be imbued with love (cf. Ad Gentes, 2-5; Evangelii Nuntiandi, 26, and Dialogue and Mission, 9).

Thus, it is love that urges every believer to listen to the other and seek areas of collaboration. It encourages Christian partners in dialogue with the followers of other religions to propose, but not impose, faith in Christ who is "the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn 14:16).

As I said in my recent Encyclicals, the Christian faith has shown us that "truth, justice and love are not simply ideals, but enormously weighty realities" (Spe Salvi, 39). For the Church, "charity is not a kind of welfare activity which could equally well be left to others, but is a part of her nature, an indispensable expression of her very being" (Deus Caritas Est, 25).

The great proliferation of inter-religious meetings around the world today calls for discernment. In this regard, I am pleased to note that during these days you have reflected on pastoral orientations for inter-religious dialogue.

Since the Second Vatican Council, attention has been focused on the spiritual elements which different religious traditions have in common. In many ways, this has helped to build bridges of understanding across religious boundaries.

I understand that during your discussions you have been considering some of the issues of practical concern in inter-religious relations: the identity of the partners in dialogue, religious education in schools, conversion, proselytism, reciprocity, religious freedom, and the role of religious leaders in society. These are important issues to which religious leaders living and working in pluralistic societies must pay close attention.

It is important to emphasize the need for formation for those who promote inter-religious dialogue. If it is to be authentic, this dialogue must be a journey of faith. How necessary it is for its promoters to be well formed in their own beliefs and well informed about those of others.

It is for this reason that I encourage the efforts of the Pontifical Council for Inter-Religious Dialogue to organize formation courses and programmes in inter-religious dialogue for different Christian groups, especially seminarians and young people in tertiary educational institutions.

Inter-religious collaboration provides opportunities to express the highest ideals of each religious tradition. Helping the sick, bringing relief to the victims of natural disasters or violence, caring for the aged and the poor: these are some of the areas in which people of different religions collaborate. I encourage all those who are inspired by the teaching of their religions to help the suffering members of society.

Dear friends, as you come to the end of your Plenary Assembly, I thank you for the work you have done. I ask you to take the message of good will from the Successor of Peter to your Christian flock and to all our friends of other religions. Willingly I impart my Apostolic blessing to you as a pledge of grace and peace in our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/8/2008 7:52 PM]
6/8/2008 7:50 PM
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Here is a translation of the Holy Father's address to participants in the VI European Symposium of University professors held in Rome from June 5-8, on a theme drawn from one of Benedict XVI's constant appeals.

Lord Cardinal,
Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Distinguished professors:

It is with profound joy that I meet you on the occasion of the VI European Symposium of University Professors on the theme, "Widening the horizons of rationality: Prospects for philosophy", sponsored by the Office for University Pastoral Ministry of the Vicariate of Rome, in collaboration with regional, provincial and city institutions.

I thank Cardinal Camillo Ruini and Prof. Cesare Mirabelli who have conveyed your sentiments, and I greet everyone with a heartfelt welcome.

In continuity with the symposium held last year, your symposium this year examines an issue of great academic and cultural relevance. I wish to express my thanks to the organizing committee for this choice which allows us, among other things, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the publication of the Encyclical Fides et ratio by my beloved predecessor, Pope John Paul II.

On that occasion ten years ago, 50 philosophy professors of the Universities of Rome, both pontifical and public, manifested their gratitude to the Pope in a statement which reiterated the urgency of relaunching the study of philosophy in universities and schools.

Sharing that concern and encouraging the fruitful collaboration among the professors of different Roman and European universities, I wish to address to all professors of philosophy a specific invitation to proceed with confidence with philosophical research, investing their intellectual energies and involving the new generations in such a task.

The events in the ten years since the publication of the encyclical have made significantly evident the historical and cultural scenario which philosophical research must counteract.

In fact, the crisis of modernity is not synonymous to a decline of philosophy. Rather, philosophy should commit itself to a new direction of study in order to understand the true nature of that crisis (cfr Address at the European Meeting of University Professors, June 23, 2007) and to identify new perspectives to orient such a study.

Modernity, if understood well, would reveal an 'anthropological question' which is much more complex and detailed than what has been addressed by philosophical reflections in the last centuries, especially in Europe.

Without diminishing the attempts that have been made, there still remains much to inquire about and to understand. Modernity is not a simple cultural phenomenon that is historically dated. In fact, it implies a new 'directedness' towards a more exact comprehension of the nature of man.

It is not hard to see in the writings of authoritative contemporary thinkers an honest reflection on the difficulties that are in the way of resolving this prolonged crisis.

The 'credit opening' that some authors propose towards religions, particularly to Christianity, is an evident sign of a sincere desire to emerge from the self-sufficiency of philosophical reflection.

From the beginning of my Pontificate, I have listened attentively to requests coming to me from the men and women of our time, and in the light of such expectations, I offered a proposal for study that I thought would rouse interest - a new look at philosophy and its irreplaceable role in the academic and cultural world.

You have made it the subject of your reflections in this symposium: the proposal to "widen the horizons of rationality'. This allows me to dwell on that subject with you, as among friends who desire to follow a common course of study.

I wish to start out from a profound conviction that I have expressed several times: "The "Christian faith has made a clear choice: against the gods of religion in favor of the God of the philosophers, that is to say, against the myth of usual custom in favor of the truth of Being" (J. Ratzinger, Introduction to Christianity, Chap. III).

Such a statement, which reflects the path of Christianity from its very dawn, is seen in its full actuality in the historical cultural context that we are living through. Indeed, only by starting with such a premise, which is historical and theological at the same time, is it possible to meet the new expectations for philosophical reflection. The risk that religion, including Christianity, becomes instrumentalized as nothing more than a surreptitious phenomenon is very real even today.

But Christianity, as I recalled in the Encyclical Spe salvi, is not simply an informative message, but a performative one (cfr No. 2). This means that as ever, the Christian faith cannot be kept within the abstract world of theories, but it should be situated within historical experience, reaching man in the most profound truth of his existence.

This experience, conditioned by new cultural and ideological situations, is what theology must evaluate, and about which it is urgent to start a fertile dialog with philosophy.

Understanding Christianity as a real transformation of man's existence would, on the one hand, impel philosophical reflection to take a new approach toward religion, and on the other, encourage it not to lose its confidence in being able to know reality.

Therefore, the proposition to 'enlarge the horizons of rationality' must not be simply listed as one of the new lines of theological and philosophical thought, but it must be understood as calling for a new opening to the reality of the human being in his 'uni-totality', overcoming old prejudices and reductionism to open the road to a true comprehension of modernity.

The desire for a fullness of humanity cannot be ignored: it demands adequate responses. The Christian faith is called on to be responsible for this historical urgency, involving all men of goodwill in a similar undertaking.

The new dialog between faith and reason required today cannot come about with the same terms and ways as in the past. If it is not to be reduced to a sterile intellectual exercise, such a dialog must start from the actual concrete human situation, and based on this, develop thought which will grasp its ontological and metaphysical truth.

Dear friends, you face a very demanding path. Above all, it is necessary to promote high-profile academic centers in which philosophy can dialog with other disciplines, particularly with theology, thus favoring new cultural syntheses which are appropriate for orienting the path of society.

The European dimension of your convening in Rome - you represent 26 nations - can favor a confrontation and exchange that can only be fruitful. I am confident that the Catholic academic institutions are available to be used as true cultural laboratories.

I also wish to invite you to encourage young people to commit themselves to philosophical studies, by providing timely initiatives of university orientation. I am sure that the new generations, with their enthusiasm, will know how to respond generously to the expectations of the Church and of society.

Not too long from now, I will have the joy of opening the Pauline Year, during which we will celebrate the Apostle to the Gentiles. I wish that this singular initiative may constitute for you a propitious occasion to rediscover, in the footsteps of the great Apostle, the historical fecundity of the Gospel and its extraordinary potential even for contemporary culture.

With this wish, I impart on all my Benediction.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/8/2008 7:51 PM]
6/10/2008 10:55 PM
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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/10/2008 10:57 PM]
6/10/2008 10:56 PM
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At 7:30 P.M. on Monday, June 9, the Holy Father went to the Basilica of St. John Lateran to open the annual pastoral convention of the Diocese of Rome. Here is a translation of his address:

Dear brothers and sisters,

This is the fourth time that I have had the pleasure of being with you on the occasion of the conference that annually brings together the active energies of the Diocese of Rome in order to provide a continuity and identify shared goals in our pastoral ministry.

I address an affectionate and heartfelt greeting to each of you - Bishops, priests, deacons, religious, consecrated persons and lay faithful of the parochial communities, the ecclesial associations and movements, families, young people, and all persons committed in various ways in formative and educative work.

I thank the Cardinal Vicar (Ruini) from the heart for the words he has addressed to me in your behalf.

After having dedicated special attention to the family in the past three years, we have also focused in the past two years on the issue of educating the new generations. It is a subject that involves the family first of all, but also directly concerns the Church, schools and all of society.

Thus we seek to respond to that 'educative emergency' which represents for all a great and inevitable challenge. The goal which we have set ourselves for the next pastoral year, and on which we shall reflect in this conference, has to do yet again with education, in the perspective of theological hope, which is nourished by faith and by trust in God who, in Jesus Christ, revealed himself to be the true friend of man.

"Jesus is risen: educating in hope through prayer, action and suffering" is thus our theme tonight. Jesus resurrected from the dead is truly the indefectible foundation on which our faith and hope rest. He has been from the beginning, from the time of the Apostles, who were direct witnesses of his Resurrection and proclaimed it to the world at the cost of their lives. He is today and he will always be.

As the Apostle Paul wrote in Chapter XV of the First letter to the Corinthians, "If Christ has not been raised, then empty (too) is our preaching; empty, too, your faith" (v 14)...If for this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are the most pitiable people of all" (v 19) .

I repeat what I said on October 19, 2006, at the National Convention in Verona: "The Resurrection of Christ is a fact, an event in history, of which the apostles were witnesses, not its 'creators'. It was not a simple return to earthly life, but it was the greatest mutation that has ever happened in history, a decisive leap towards a dimension of life that is profoundly new, the entry into a different order that concerns not just Jesus but also us - the whole human family, history and the entire universe."

In the light of Jesus resurrected from the dead, we can understand the true dimensions of the Christian faith as "hope that sustains and transforms our life" (Encyclical Spe salvi, 10), liberating us from the mistakes and false alternatives that in the course of centuries have constrained and weakened the breadth of our hope.

Concretely, the hope of he who believes in the God who resurrected Jesus from the dead is directed with all of oneself towards that happiness, that full and total joy that we call eternal life, and precisely because of this, it invests, inspires and transforms our day-to-day earthly existence; it gives an orientation and a meaning which are not ephemeral to our little hopes as well as to the efforts we make to change the world in which we live and make it less unjust.

Analogously, Christian hope certainly concerns each of us in a personal way - the eternal salvation of our "I" and its life in this world - but it is also a communitarian hope, hope for the Church and the entire human family, and thus, "always, essentially also a hope for others - only then can it truly be hope even for oneself." (ibid., 48).

In the society and culture of today, and therefore, even in our beloved city of Rome, it is not easy to live under the sign of Christian hope. On the one hand, what prevails are attitudes of distrust, disappointment and resignation, which contradict not only 'the great hope' of faith but also those 'small hopes' that normally comfort us in the effort to reach the objectives of our daily life.

The feeling is widespread that, for Italy as for Europe, the best years are now behind us, and that a destiny of precariousness and uncertainty awaits the new generations.

On the other hand, expectations for great novelties and progress are focused on science and technology - namely, on the powers and discoveries of man - as if the solution to problems can only come from these.

It would be senseless to deny or minimize the enormous contribution of science and technology to the transformation of the world and our concrete living conditions, but it would be just as myopic to ignore that their progress also places abysmal possibilities for evil in the hands of man, and that, in any case, it not science and technology that can give a sense to our life and which can teach us to distinguish good from evil.

Therefore, as I wrote in Spe salvi, it is not science but love that redeems man, and this applies even in earthly and mundane matters (no. 26).

Thus we come to the most profound and decisive cause for the weakness of hope in the world in which we live. This reason is ultimately not different from what the Apostle Paul indicated to the Christians of Ephesus, when he reminded them that, before encountering Christ, they had been "without hope and without God in the world" (Eph 2,12).

Our civilization and our culture, which have known Christ for 2000 years, would not be recognizable without his presence, especially here in Rome. And yet they now tend to place God within parentheses, to organize personal and social life without him, and to maintain that no one can know God, or worse, to deny his very existence.

But when God is set aside, nothing which is of concern to us has any stable attachment, and all our great and small hopes would rest on a void.

In order to 'educate in hope', as we propose in this conference and in the next pastoral year, it is therefore necessary, first of all, to open our heart, our reason and our life to God, in order to be his credible witnesses among our brothers.

In our preceding conferences, we reflected on the causes of the present educative emergency and on the proposals that could serve to overcome it. In the past months, and with my letter to the Diocese on the urgent task of education, we have sought moreover to involve the entire city, particularly families and schools, in this common undertaking.

Therefore it is not necessary that we return to these aspects. Rather, let us see how we can educate ourselves in hope, turning our attention to certain 'settings' for its practical learning and effective exercise, as I identified them in Spe salvi.

Among these settings we find, first of all, prayer, with which we open ourselves and address ourselves to him who is the origin and the foundation of our hope.

The person who prays is never totally alone, because God is the only one who, in every situation and in whatever trial, is always there to listen and to help. Through perseverance in prayer, the Lord broadens our desire and expands our spirit, making us more capable of welcoming him into ourself.

The right way to pray is thus a process of interior purification. We should expose ourselves to God's scrutiny, to God himself, so that, in the light of God's face, then all lies and hypocrisies will fall away.

This exposure to the face of God in prayer is really a purification that renews us, liberates us and opens us not only to God, but also to our brothers. Thus, it is the opposite of an escape from our responsibilities towards our neighbor.

On the contrary, through prayer we learn to keep the world open to God and to become ministers of hope for others. Because in speaking with God, we see the entire community of the Church, the human community, all our brothers, and thus we learn to be responsible for others, and hope in God will help us in doing this.

To be educated in prayer, to learn 'the art of prayer' from the lips of the Divine Teacher, like the first disciples who asked him "Lord, teach us how to pray!" (Lk 11,1) is thus an essential task.

By learning to pray, we learn to live, therefore, we should always pray better - with the Church and with Christ alongside - in order to live better.

As we were reminded by the beloved Servant of God John Paul II in his Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, "our Christian communities should become authentic 'schools' of prayer, where the encounter with Christ is expressed not only in pleas for help, but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening, the ardor of affections, until it is a true 'affection of the heart'" (No. 33). Thus, Christian hope grows in us. And with hope will also grow our love for God and for our neighbor.

In the encyclical Spe salvi, I wrote: "All serious and upright human conduct is hope in action" (No. 35). As disciples of Jesus, let us therefore participate with joy in the effort to make the face of our city more beautiful, more human and more brotherly, to reinvigorate its hope and joy in a shared identity, in belonging together.

Dear brothers and sisters, it is precisely the acute and widespread awareness of the evils and problems that Rome carries within itself which is reawakening the will for a common effort. It is our task to give our specific contribution to this effort, starting with that decisive resolution provided by education and formation of the individual, but also by facing with a constructive spirit the many other concrete problems that often make the lives of those who live in this city so wearing.

Let us seek, in particular, to promote a culture and a social organization that is more favorable to the family and to the welcoming of life, as well as giving value to the elderly, who are so numerous in the population of Rome.

Let us work to answer the primary needs of employment and home, especially for the young people. Let us share the commitment to make our city more secure and more 'livable', that it is so for everyone, especially the poorest, and that we may not exclude the immigrant who comes among us with the intention of finding a space for life while respecting our laws.

I do not need to enter more concretely into these problems that you know quite well because you live them daily. I wish to underscore instead the attitude and the way with which he who places his hope in God above all, must work and commit himself.

It is first an attitude of humility, that does not claim to always have success, or to be able to resolve every problem only with one's own efforts. But it must also be - and for the same reason - an attitude of great trust, of tenacity and of courage: the believer knows that notwithstanding difficulties and failures, his life, his actions, and history itself are all within the indestructible power of God's love, and that therefore, they are never fruitless and devoid of sense.

In this perspective, we can more easily understand that Christian hope lives even in suffering; indeed, that suffering itself educates and fortifies our hope in a special way. We should certainly "do whatever we can to reduce suffering: to avoid as far as possible the suffering of the innocent; to soothe pain; to give assistance in overcoming mental suffering" (Spe salvi, 36), and great progress has been made actually, particularly in the battle against physical pain.

But we cannot totally eliminate suffering from the world, because it is not within our power to dry up its sources - which is the finiteness of our being and the power of evil and sin.

Indeed, the suffering of the innocent and even psychic disorders unfortunately tend to increase in the world. Human experience today, as it has always been, particularly that of the saints and martyrs, confirms the great truth that it is not escaping from pain that can heal man, but the capacity to accept tribulation and mature thereby, finding a sense for it through union with Christ.

Thus, the measure of our humanity - as individuals and as a society - can be measured by our relationship to suffering and to those who suffer. The Christian faith has the historical merit of having inspired in man - in a new way and to a new depth - the capacity of sharing even within us the suffering of others, who are thus not left alone in their suffering, as well as the capacity to suffer for the sake of goodness, truth and justice.

All this is very much above our own powers but it becomes possible through God suffering with us [com-patire, suffer with, the root word for compassion] out of love for man in the Passion of Christ.

Dear brothers and sisters, let us educate ourselves daily in the hope that matures through suffering. We are called on to do this in the first place when we are personally struck by a grave illness or other severe trial. But we grow equally well in hope through our concrete help and daily nearness to the suffering of those who are close to us, as well as everyone who is our neighbor, when we are beside them in an attitude of love.

Further, let us learn to offer to God who is most merciful the small efforts of our daily existence, situating them humbly within the great 'com-patire' of Christ, that treasure of compassion that every human being needs.

But the hope of the believer in Christ cannot simply be of this world; it must be intrinsically oriented towards full and eternal communion with the Lord.

That is why towards the end of my encyclical on hope, I dwelt on the Judgment of God as a setting to learn and exercise hope. I sought to present anew, in a way that is familiar and understandable to man today and to the culture of our time, the salvation that is promised to us in the world beyond death, even if we cannot have here and now a true experience of that world.

In order to restore to education in hope its true dimensions and its decisive reason, all of us, starting with the priests and catechists, should place back that great truth in the center of our proclamation of faith, a truth that had its 'first fruits' in the resurrection of Christ from the dead (cfr 1 Cor 15, 20-23).

Dear brothers and sisters, I conclude this reflection by thanking each of you for the generosity and dedication with which you work in the vineyard of the Lord, and I ask you to always guard within you, to nourish and reinforce the great gift of Christian hope, with prayer first of all.

I call specially on you, young people, to take this gift in freedom and responsibility, in order to bring to life a future for our beloved city.

To the Most Blessed Mary, Star of Hope, I entrust each of you and the entire Church of Rome. My prayers, my affection and my blessing accompany you in this conference and in the pastoral year that awaits us.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/10/2008 11:02 PM]
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The Holy Father this morning addressed the Bishops of Bangladesh who are on ad limina visit, after meeting them in small groups during the week. Here is the text he delivered in English:

Dear Brother Bishops,

It is with great joy that I welcome you, the Bishops of Bangladesh, on your quinquennial visit to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul. I thank Archbishop Costa for the kind words he has addressed to me on your behalf. Your generous love of God, your solicitude for the people entrusted to your care by the Lord Jesus, and your bond of unity in the Holy Spirit are for me a cause of profound joy and thanksgiving.

Personal integrity and holiness of life are essential components of a Bishop’s witness since "before becoming one who hands on the word, the Bishop must be a hearer of the word" (cf. Pastores Gregis, 15).

Again and again our Christian experience demonstrates the Gospel paradox that joy and fulfilment are to be attained through the complete gift of self for the sake of Christ and his Kingdom (cf. Mk 8:35).

Bishops are called to be patient, mild and gentle in the spirit of the beatitudes. In this way they lead others to see all human realities in the light of the Kingdom of Heaven (cf. Mt 5:1-12). Their personal witness of evangelical integrity is complemented and strengthened by the many fruits of grace which the Spirit produces in the faithful as they tend to the perfection of charity (cf. Lumen Gentium, 39).

For this reason, I join you in giving thanks to Almighty God for the growth and fervour of the Catholic community in Bangladesh, especially amid the daily challenges it faces.

Many of your people suffer from poverty, isolation or discrimination, and they look to you for spiritual guidance that will lead them to recognize in faith, and to experience in anticipation, that they are truly blessed by God (cf. Lk 6:22).

As successors of the Apostles, you are called in a special way to teach God’s chosen people, availing yourselves of the many gifts God has granted his community for the effective transmission of the deposit of Faith.

In this regard, I appreciate your efforts to ensure that your lay catechists are sufficient in number, well prepared and given due recognition by the faithful. I pray that their example and dedication will draw other lay men and women to a more active role in the Church’s apostolates.

As you know from your own pastoral experience, catechists play an integral role in preparing laypeople to receive the sacraments. This is especially true in the increasingly important work of preparing young men and women to recognize the Sacrament of Matrimony as a life-long covenant of faithful love and as a path to holiness.

I have often mentioned my concern regarding the difficulty modern men and women have in making a lifelong commitment (cf. Address to the Bishops of the United States of America, 16 April 2008) . There is an urgent need on the part of all Christians to reassert the joy of total self-giving in response to the radical call of the Gospel.

One clear sign of this radical commitment is seen in the many vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life the Church in your country is currently experiencing. I encourage your efforts to offer these candidates suitable formation that will bring forth abundant fruits.

In this regard, I also wish to express my heartfelt gratitude for the generous assistance offered by the Church in other countries, especially Korea, in the preparation of your seminarians and priests.

The Church is Catholic: a community embracing peoples of all races and languages, and not limited to any one culture or particular social, economic or political system (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 42).

She is at the service of the entire human family, freely sharing her gifts for the well-being of all. This gives her a connatural ability to foster unity and peace.

My dear brothers, you and your people, as promoters of harmony and peace, have much to offer the nation. In your love for your country you inspire tolerance, moderation and understanding. By encouraging people who share important values to cooperate for the common good, you help to consolidate your country’s stability and to maintain it for the future.

These efforts, however subtle, give effective support to the majority of your fellow citizens who uphold the country’s noble tradition of mutual respect, tolerance and social harmony.

May you likewise continue to sustain and counsel Catholic lay people and all who wish to offer their service for the good of society in public office, social communications, in education, healthcare and social assistance.

May they always rejoice in the knowledge that Christ accepts as a gesture of personal love whatever good is done to the least of his brothers (cf. Mt 25:40).

I am aware of recent initiatives you have taken in the field of inter-religious dialogue, and I exhort you to persevere with patient dedication to this essential component of the Church’s mission ad gentes (Ecclesia in Asia, 31).

Indeed, much good can be accomplished when it is conducted in a spirit of mutual understanding and collaboration in truth and freedom. All men and women have an obligation to seek the truth. When it is found, they are compelled to model their entire lives in accordance with its demands (cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 2).

Consequently, the most important contribution we can bring to inter-religious dialogue is our knowledge of Jesus of Nazareth, "the way, the truth and the life" (Jn 14:6).

Dialogue, based on mutual respect and truth, cannot fail to have a positive influence on the social climate of your country. The delicacy of this task requires thorough preparation of clergy and lay people, first of all by offering them a deeper knowledge of their own faith and then by helping them to grow in their understanding of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and the other religions present in your region.

At the end of this month, we will begin the celebration of the Pauline Year, which will be for the whole Church a renewed invitation to announce with unfailing courage the Good News of Christ Jesus.

Saint Paul was not ashamed to preach the Gospel; he saw in it the power of God to save (cf. Rom 1:16). I am aware of the difficulties of this mission entrusted to you. Like the first Christians, you live as a small community among a large non-Christian population. Your presence is a sign that the preaching of the Gospel, which began in Jerusalem and Judea, continues to spread to the ends of the earth in accordance with the universal destination the Lord willed for it (cf. Acts 1:8).

My prayers accompany you as you lead your priests, men and women religious and lay faithful along the path marked out by so many dedicated missionaries, beginning with Saint Francis Xavier, who brought the Gospel to your country.

The Church you represent "proclaims the Good News with loving respect and esteem for her listeners" (Ecclesia in Asia, 20). Continue this task with goodness and simplicity, and with "creativity in charity" (cf. Pastores Gregis, 73), according to your talents, your specific graces and the means at your disposal. Have confidence in the Lord who opens the hearts of listeners to heed what is announced in his name (cf. Acts 16:14).

Dear brother Bishops, I know that you find great courage and inspiration in the words of Christ who commissioned you, "Behold I am with you always, unto the end of time" (Mt 28:20).

As you return to your homeland, please convey my prayerful encouragement and affectionate good wishes to your priests, men and women religious, your catechists and all your beloved people. To each of you, and to those entrusted to your pastoral care, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.

6/19/2008 9:00 PM
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Here is the text of the address delivered in English by the Holy Father to the Bishops of Pakistan on ad limina visit.

Dear Brother Bishops,

I am pleased to welcome you, the Bishops of Pakistan, as you make your quinquennial pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul.

Grateful to Archbishop Saldanha for his kind words, I convey warm greetings to the priests, religious and laity of your dioceses, assuring them of my prayers for their well-being. May they never tire in giving thanks for having received the "first fruits" of the Holy Spirit, who is always with them to strengthen them and to intercede on their behalf (cf. Rom 8:23-27).

The seeds of the Gospel, sown in your region by zealous missionaries in the sixteenth century, continue to grow despite conditions that sometimes hinder their capacity to take root.

Your visit to the See of Peter not only provides me with an opportunity to rejoice with you over the fruits of your labours, but to listen to your account of the hardships which you and your flock must endure for the sake of the Lord’s name.

Whenever we courageously shoulder the burdens placed upon us in circumstances often beyond our control, we encounter Jesus himself, who gives us a hope that surpasses the sufferings of the present because it transforms us from within (cf. Spe Salvi, 4).

Your priests, united by a special bond to Christ the Good Shepherd, are heralds of Christian hope as they proclaim that Jesus lives among his people to ease their anguish and strengthen them in their weakness (cf. Directory on the Ministry and Life of Priests, 75).

I would ask you to assure your clergy of my spiritual closeness to them as they carry out this task. Just as the Lord continually gave to his Apostles signs of his love and solicitude for them, so should you strive to create a climate of affection and trust with your clergy who are your principal and irreplaceable co-workers.

By looking upon you as a father and brother (cf. Pastores Gregis, 47) and hearing your words of encouragement for their pastoral initiatives, they will be inspired to unite their will to yours and dedicate themselves more completely to the spiritual good of God’s people (cf. Presbyterorum Ordinis, 14-15).

The centrality of the Eucharist, both through the worthy celebration of the Lord’s Supper and in silent adoration of the Sacrament, should be especially apparent in the lives of priests and Bishops. This will lead the laity to follow your example and come to a deeper appreciation for the Lord’s abiding presence among them.

As Bishops, you are the chief stewards of the mysteries of God and the main promoters of the liturgical life of your local Churches (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 22). In this regard, I am pleased to note the various programmes you have initiated to raise awareness of the radical change that becomes possible when Christians allow their entire life to take on a "eucharistic form" (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 70-83).

The source and summit of the Church’s life radically reorients the way Christians think, speak and act in the world and makes present the salvific meaning of Christ’s death and resurrection, thus renewing history and vivifying all creation.

The breaking of the bread reminds us again and again that the absurdity of violence never has the last word, for Christ has conquered sin and death through his glorious resurrection. The holy Sacrifice assures us that his wounds are the remedy for our sins, his weakness the power of God within us, and his death our life (cf. 1 Pet 2:24; 2 Cor 13:4; 2 Cor 4:10).

I am confident that the daily offering of the Mass by you and your priests will lead your people to give constant thanks and praise to God the Father for the graces granted us in his Son, through whom we have received the Spirit of filial adoption (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1110).

Eucharistic spirituality embraces every aspect of the Christian life (cf. Sacramentum Caritatis, 77). This is evident in the emerging vitality of ecclesial movements within your Dioceses. The charisms of these associations both reflect and meet the particular needs of our time.

By exhorting the members of these movements and all the faithful to listen attentively to the word of God and to cultivate a habit of daily prayer, may your people foster genuine fellowship and create ever expanding networks of charitable solicitude for their neighbours.

My dear brothers, I join you in thanking God who calls forth men to serve as priests in your local Churches. The theologate in Karachi, the programme of philosophy in Lahore and your minor seminaries are vital institutions for the future of the Church in Pakistan.

Never doubt that your investment of human and material resources will ensure a solid formation for your candidates for the priesthood. Generous collaborators are also to be found among members of religious orders who can help to enhance programmes of priestly formation and strengthen bonds of cooperation between religious and diocesan clergy.

Of particular urgency at the present time is the task of preparing these men – and indeed all catechists and lay leaders – to become effective promoters of interreligious dialogue. They share a responsibility with all Christians in Pakistan to foster understanding and trust with members of other religions by constructing peaceful forums for open conversation.

Likewise, other Catholic institutions continue to serve the common good of the Pakistani people. They demonstrate that the love of Christ is no mere abstraction, but reaches out to every man and woman as it passes through real persons working in the Church’s charitable institutions.

The Gospel teaches us that Jesus cannot be loved in the abstract (cf. Mt 25:31-37). Those who serve in Catholic hospitals, schools, social and charitable agencies respond to the concrete needs of others, knowing well that they are ministering to the Lord himself through their particular acts of charity (cf. Mt 25:40).

I encourage you to build on the noble example of service to neighbour etched in the history of these institutions. Priests, religious and the lay faithful in your Dioceses, by caring for the sick, helping young people grow in knowledge and virtue, and meeting the needs of the poor, reveal the human face of God’s love for each and every person.

May their encounter with the living Christ awaken in their hearts a desire to share with others the joy of living in God’s presence (cf. Ps 73:25, 28). In imitation of Saint Paul, may they freely give to others what they themselves have received without cost (cf. 1 Cor 4:7; 2 Cor 11:7; Mt 10:8).

My brothers in the Episcopate, you exercise a special mission as preachers of the Gospel and as agents of love and peace in the Church and in society. May you support one another in prayer and effective collaboration as you face the difficult tasks that lie ahead. Invoking upon you and your priests, religious and lay faithful the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord Jesus.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/19/2008 9:15 PM]
6/23/2008 4:07 PM
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(By satellite feed to Quebec)

The homily was delivered in French and English, beginning in French, translated here:

Lord Cardinals,
Dear brothers and sisters,

As you are assembled for the 49th International Eucharistic Congress, I am happy to join you through television and thereby associate myself with your prayers.

First of all, I wish to greet Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec; and Cardinal Josef Tomko, my special envoy for the Congress, along with all the cardinals and bishops present.

I also address my heartfelt greetings to the personages from civilian society who have chosen to take part int today's liturgy. And my affectionate thoughts go out to the priests, deacons and all the lay faithful present, along with all the Catholics of Quebec, of all Canada and all the continents.

I do not forget that your country celebrates this year the 400th anniversary of its foundation. It is an occasion for everyone to remember the values that inspired the pioneers and missionaries of your country.

"The Eucharist, gift of God for the life of the world" is the theme that was chosen for this Eucharistic Congress. The Eucharist is our most beautiful treasure. It is the sacrament par excellence; it introduces us early to eternal life; it contains all the mystery of our well-being; it is the source and the summit of the Church's activity and life, as we are reminded by the Second Vatican Council (Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 8).

It is therefore particularly important that pastors and faithful alike should continually seek to examine this great sacrament in depth. That way, each one can affirm his faith and comply with his mission better in the Church and in the world, knowing that the fecundity of the Eucharist is in his personal life as it is in the Church and the world.

The spirit of Truth bears witness in your souls; bear witness in your turn to Christ before other men, as the Alleluia antiphon of today's Mass says.

Participation in the Eucharist does not keep us apart from our contemporaries - on the contrary, because it is the supreme expression of God's love, it calls us to commit ourselves with all our brothers to face current challenges and to make the planet a place where it is good to live.

To do this, we must fight ceaselessly so that every person may be respected from his conception to his natural death, that our rich societies may welcome the poorest and give them back their dignity, that every person may be able to feed and make a living for his family, that peace and justice may spread throughout all the continents.

These are the challenges which should mobilize all our contemporaries and for which Christians should draw their strength from the Eucharistic mystery.

He said the following in English:

"The Mystery of Faith": this we proclaim at every Mass. I would like everyone to make a commitment to study this great mystery, especially by revisiting and exploring, individually and in groups, the Council’s text on the Liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium, so as to bear witness courageously to the mystery.

In this way, each person will arrive at a better grasp of the meaning of every aspect of the Eucharist, understanding its depth and living it with greater intensity. Every sentence, every gesture has its own meaning and conceals a mystery.

I sincerely hope that this Congress will serve as an appeal to all the faithful to make a similar commitment to a renewal of Eucharistic catechesis, so that they themselves will gain a genuine Eucharistic awareness and will in turn teach children and young people to recognize the central mystery of faith and build their lives around it.

I urge priests especially to give due honour to the Eucharistic rite, and I ask all the faithful to respect the role of each individual, both priest and lay, in the Eucharistic action. The liturgy does not belong to us: it is the Church’s treasure.

Reception of the Eucharist, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament – by this we mean deepening our communion, preparing for it and prolonging it – is also about allowing ourselves to enter into communion with Christ, and through him with the whole of the Trinity, so as to become what we receive and to live in communion with the Church.

It is by receiving the Body of Christ that we receive the strength "of unity with God and with one another" (Saint Cyril of Alexandria, In Ioannis Evangelium, 11:11; cf. Saint Augustine, Sermo 577).

We must never forget that the Church is built around Christ and that, as Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas and Saint Albert the Great have all said, following Saint Paul (cf. 1 Cor 10:17), the Eucharist is the sacrament of the Church’s unity, because we all form one single body of which the Lord is the head.

We must go back again and again to the Last Supper on Holy Thursday, where we were given a pledge of the mystery of our redemption on the Cross. The Last Supper is the locus of the nascent Church, the womb containing the Church of every age.

In the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice is constantly renewed, Pentecost is constantly renewed. May all of you become ever more deeply aware of the importance of the Sunday Eucharist, because Sunday, the first day of the week, is the day when we honour Christ, the day when we receive the strength to live each day the gift of God.

He resumed in French:

I would like to invite all the pastors and the faithful to a renewed attention to their preparation to receive the Eucharist. Despite our weakness and our sins, Christ wishes to make his dwelling in us when we ask him for healing.

That is why we must do all we can to receive him with a pure heart, by regaining, through the sacrament of penance, the purity which sin has soiled, "with our minds attuned to our voices", according to the invitation of the Council (cf. Sacrosanctum Concilium, No. 11).

Indeed, sin - especially mortal sin - opposes the grace of Eucharistic action in us. On the other hand, those who cannot have communion because of their individual situation will perhaps find strength and redemptive effect through a communion of desire and participation in the Eucharistic celebration.

The Eucharist has a very special place in the lives of saints. Let us thank God for the history of saintliness in Quebec and Canada which has contributed to the missionary life of the Church.

Your country honors in particular its martyrs Jean de Brébeuf, Isaac Jogues and their companions, who gave their lives for Christ, thus associating themselves with his sacrifice on the Cross.

They belong to the generation of men and women who founded and developed the Church in Canada - with Marguerite Bourgeoys, Marguerite d'Youville, Marie de l'Incarnation, Marie-Catherine de Saint-Augustin, Mgr François de Laval who founded the first diocese in North America, Dina Bélanger and Kateri Tekakwitha.

Place yourselves in their school. Like them, have no fear - God accompanies and protects you. Make every day an offering to the glory of God the Father, and take part in building the world, remembering with pride your religious heritage and its social and cultural influence, and taking care to spread around you the moral and spiritual values that come to us from the Lord.

The Eucharist is not a meal among friends. It is the mystery of alliance. "The prayers and rites of the Eucharistic sacrifice continually relive before the eyes of our soul, in the course of the liturgical cycle, the entire history of salvation, and allows its significance to penetrate us more and more" (St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross [Edith Stein], Wege zur inneren Stille [The way of inner peace], Aschaffenburg, 1987, p. 67).

We are called to enter this mystery of alliance in conforming our life more each day to the gift we receive in the Eucharist. It has a sacred character, as Vatican-II reminds us: "Every liturgical celebration, because it is an action of Christ the priest and of His Body which is the Church, is a sacred action surpassing all others; no other action of the Church can equal its efficacy by the same title and to the same degree" (Sacrosanctum Concilium, n. 7).

In a way, it is a 'celestial liturgy', an anticipation of the banquet in the eternal Kingdom, proclaiming the death and resurrection of Christ, until he comes again (cf. 1 Cor 11,26).

So that the People of God may never lack for ministers to give them the Body of Christ, we should ask the Lord to make a gift of new priests to his Church. I invite you also to transmit this call to priesthood to young boys, so that they may be prepared to respond to Christ with joy and without fear. They will not be disappointed. May the families be the primary place and cradle of priestly vocations.

Before concluding, it is with joy that I announce the meeting place for the next International Eucharistic Congress. It will be in Dublin, Ireland, in 2012.

I ask the Lord to make each of you discover the profundity and greatness of the mystery of the faith. May Christ, who is present in the Eucharist, and the Holy Spirit, whom we invoke on the bread and wine, accompany your daily routine and your mission. Following the example of the Virgin Mary, may you be available for God to work in you.

Entrusting you to the intercession of Our Lady, of St. Anne, Patroness of Quebec, and all the saints of your land, I impart to all an affectionate Apostolic Blessing, and to all who are present from different parts of the world.

He concluded in English:

Dear friends, as this significant event in the life of the Church draws to a conclusion I invite you all to join me in praying for the success of the next International Eucharistic Congress, which will take place in 2012 in the city of Dublin!

I take this opportunity to greet warmly the people of Ireland, as they prepare to host this ecclesial gathering. I am confident that they, together with all the participants at the next Congress, will find it a source of lasting spiritual renewal.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/24/2008 6:02 AM]
6/29/2008 1:26 AM
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Very unusually, the text was released online in four 'original' versions - Italian, Chinese, English and Portuguese. The Chinese version is posted in Chinese characters, of course!

My dear Brother Bishops,

'Send forth your Spirit and renew the face of the earth' (cf. Ps 104:30). With these words I am pleased to extend a warm welcome to you.

I thank His Eminence Cardinal Zen for the kind words of filial devotion which he expressed on your behalf. Please be assured of my personal affection and my prayers for you and for all who have been entrusted to your pastoral care. I am thinking at this moment of the priests, the religious men and women and all the lay faithful of your two diocesan communities.

This Ad Limina Apostolorum visit is an occasion to renew your commitment to make Jesus ever more visible in the Church and better known in society by bearing witness to his love and the truth of his Gospel.

As I wrote in my letter of 27 May 2007 to the Catholic Church in China, referring to the invitation Duc in altum (cf. Lk 5:4) which Jesus offered to Peter, to his brother Andrew and to the first disciples, "these words ring out for us today, and they invite us to remember the past with gratitude, to live the present with enthusiasm and to look forward to the future with confidence: ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and for ever’ (Heb 13:8)" (cf. No. 3).

Your two particular Churches are also called to be witnesses to Christ, to look forward in hope and to announce the Gospel facing up to the new challenges that the people of Hong Kong and Macao must embrace.

The Lord has given every man and woman the right to hear the proclamation that Jesus Christ "loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20). Corresponding to this right is the duty to evangelize: "For I preach the Gospel, that gives me no ground for boasting. For necessity is laid upon me. Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1 Cor 9:16; cf Rom 10:14).

All of the Church’s activities are oriented towards evangelization and may not be separated from the commitment to assist everyone to encounter Christ in faith, which is the primary aim of evangelization: "Social issues and the Gospel are inseparable. When we bring people only knowledge, ability, technical competence and tools, we bring them too little" (Benedict XVI Homily during Holy Mass at Munich’s Neue Messe Esplanade [10 September 2006] AAS 98 [2006] 710).

The Church’s mission is taking place today in the context of globalization. I observed recently that the forces generated by globalization hold humanity suspended between two poles.

On the one hand are the many social and cultural bonds which tend to promote attitudes of world-wide solidarity and shared responsibility for the good of mankind.

On the other hand, there are worrying signs of fragmentation and individualism dominated by secularism which pushes the transcendent and the sense of the sacred to the margins and eclipses the very source of harmony and unity of the universe. The negative aspects of this cultural phenomenon draw attention to the need for a solid formation and call for concentrated efforts aimed at supporting the spiritual and moral ethos of your people.

I am aware that in both Dioceses, just as in the rest of the Church, an adequate ongoing formation of the clergy is needed. Hence the invitation extended to you as Bishops who are responsible for your ecclesial communities, to give special attention to young priests confronted with new pastoral challenges arising from the task of evangelizing a society as complex as today’s.

Ongoing formation of the clergy "is an intrinsic requirement of the gift and sacramental ministry received; and it proves necessary in every age. It is particularly urgent today, not only because of rapid changes in the social and cultural conditions of individuals and peoples among whom the priestly ministry is exercised, but also because of that ‘new evangelization’ which constitutes the essential and pressing task of the Church at the end of the Second Millennium" (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Pastores Dabo Vobis [25 March 1992], 70: AAS [1992] 78).

Your pastoral solicitude should embrace especially all consecrated men and women, called to render visible in the Church and in the world, the characteristic traits of Jesus, chaste, poor and obedient.

Dear Brothers, as you know, Catholic schools offer an important contribution to the intellectual, spiritual and moral formation of the new generations. This crucial aspect of personal growth is what motivates Catholic parents, and those from other religious traditions, to seek out Catholic schools.

In this regard I wish to send greetings to all the men and women who offer generous service to the Catholic schools of both Dioceses. They are called to be "witnesses of Christ, epiphany of the love of God in the world" and to posses "the courage of witnessing and the patience of dialogue" serving "human dignity, the harmony of creation, the existence of peoples and peace" (Consecrated Persons and their mission in schools, 1-2).

It is therefore of great importance to be close to students and to their families, to watch over the formation of the young in the light of Gospel teaching and to follow closely the spiritual needs of all who form part of the school community.

The Catholic schools of your two dioceses have given significant impulse to the social development and cultural growth of your people. Today these educational centres face new difficulties; be assured that I am with you, and I encourage you to ensure that this important service will never fall by the wayside.

In your mission as Pastors, draw confidence from the Paraclete who defends, counsels and protects (cf. Jn 14:16)! Encourage the faithful to welcome all to which the Spirit gives birth! I have recalled on different occasions that ecclesial movements and new communities are a "luminous sign of the beauty of Christ and of the Church his Bride" (cf. Message to the Participants in the Congress of 22 May 2006).

Addressing them as my "dear friends of the movements", I encouraged them to act so that they would always be "schools of communion, journeying together and learning the truth and the love that Jesus has revealed and communicated to us through the witness of the Apostles, in the great family of his disciples" (ibid.).

I exhort you to support the movements with great love because they are one of the most important new realities fostered by the Spirit in the Church in order to put into practice the Second Vatican Council (cf. Address to the participants of a Seminar promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Laity [17 May 2008]).

I pray too that the movements themselves will make every effort to harmonize their activities with the pastoral and spiritual programmes of the Dioceses.

I am personally grateful to you for the affection and devotion you have shown to the Holy See in different ways. As I congratulate you on the many achievements of your well organized Diocesan communities, I encourage you to even greater commitment in the search for adequate means of presenting the Christian message of love in a more comprehensible way to the world in which you live.

By doing so you will effectively show to all your brothers and sisters the enduring youthfulness and inexhaustible capacity for renewal of the Gospel of Christ, and bear witness to the fact that one can be authentically Catholic and authentically Chinese at the same time.

I also encourage your Dioceses to continue your contribution to the life of the Church in mainland China, both by offering personnel for formation purposes and by supporting initiatives in the field of human promotion and assistance.

In this regard I cannot but recognize the invaluable service which the charitable organization Caritas of both Dioceses has offered to the needy with such generosity and professionalism. We must never forget however that Christ is also for China a Teacher, Pastor and loving Redeemer. The Church must never allow this good news to remain unspoken.

I hope and pray to the Lord that the day will soon come when your Brother Bishops from mainland China come to Rome on pilgrimage to the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of communion with the Successor of Peter and the Universal Church.

I willingly avail myself of the occasion to send to the Catholic community of China and to all the people of that vast country the assurance of my prayers and my affection.

6/29/2008 1:36 AM
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6/29/2008 1:38 AM
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Here is a translation of the homily delivered by the Holy Father tonight at the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls.

Your Holiness and Fraternal Delegations,
Lord Cardinals,
Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and the Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters:

We are gathered at the tomb of St. Paul who was born 2000 years ago in Tarsus of Cilicia, now modern-day Turkey.

Who was this Paul? In the temple of Jerusalem, before an agitated crowd that wanted to kill him, he presented himself with these words: ""I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city (Jerusalem). At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated strictly in our ancestral law and was zealous for God..." (Acts 22,3).

At the end of his journey, he would say of himself: "...I was appointed... teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth" (1Tm 2,7; cfr 2Tm 1,11). Teacher of the Gentiles, apostle and preacher of Jesus Christ - that is how he characterizes himself in a retrospective look at the course of his life.

But he is not looking only to the past. 'Teacher of the Gentiles' - these words open up to the future, to all peoples and to all generations. Paul is not, for us, a figure of the past whom we remember with veneration. He is also our teacher - apostle and preacher of Jesus Christ, even for us.

We are therefore gathered here not to reflect on a story from a past that has irrevocably gone. Paul speaks to us - today. That is why I proclaimed this special Pauline Year - to listen to him and to learn from him, as our teacher, 'faith and truth', in which are rooted the reasons for unity among the disciples of Christ.

In this context, too, I wished to light, for this bimillennary of the birth of the Apostle, a special Pauline Flame which will remain lit during the whole year in a special brazier mounted in the quadri-portico of the Basilica.

To solemnize this occasion, I have also inaugurated the so-called Pauline Door, through which I entered the Basilica, accompanied by the Patriarch of Constantinople, the Cardinal Arch-Priest of the Basilica and other religious authorities.

It is an intimate joy for me that the opening of the Pauline Year has a special ecumenical character with the presence of numerous delegates and representatives of other churches and ecclesial communities, whom I welcome with an open heart.

I greet in the first place His Holiness Patriarch Bartholomew I and the members of his delegation, as well as the large group of Orthodox lay faithful who have come to Rome from various parts of the world to experience with him and with all of us these moments of prayer and reflection.

I greet the fraternal delegates of the Churches who have a particular bond to the Apostle Paul - Jerusalem, Antioch, Cyprus, Greece - which make up the geographical setting of the Apostle's life before he came to Rome.

I cordially greet our brothers from different churches and ecclesial communities of the East and West, together with all of you who have wanted to take part in this solemn beginning of the year dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles.

And we are here to ask ourselves about the great Apostle. We ask ourselves not only 'Who was Paul?' We ask above all "Who is Paul? What does he have to say to me?"

At this time, at the start of the Pauline Year that we are inaugurating, I wish to choose from the rich testimony of the New testament three texts in which we see his interior physiognomy, the specifics of his character.

In the Letter to the Galatians, he has given us a very personal profession of faith , in which he opens his heart to readers of all time and reveals the most intimate marrow of his life.

"I live in the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2,20). Everything that Paul does comes from this core.

His faith is the experience of being loved by Jesus Christ in a very personal way. It is a consciousness of the fact that Christ faced death not for something anonymous, but out of love for him - of Paul - and that, as the Risen One, he continues to love him; that Christ gave himself for him.

His faith is having been struck by the love of Jesus Christ, a love that stirs him up in his most intimate being and transforms him. His faith is not a theory, an opinion about God and the world. His faith is the impact itself of the love of God on his heart. And so, his very faith is love for Jesus Christ.

Many have presented Paul as a combative person who could wield a sword as well as words. In fact, his path as an apostle never lacked for disputes. He never sought superficial harmony. In the first of his Letters, that which was addressed to the Thessalonians, he says: "We had the courage... to announce the Gospel of God to you in the midst of much struggle....In fact, as you know, we never pronounced words of adulation" (1Ts 2.2.5).

Truth was, for him, too great to consider sacrificing it in order to gain external success. The truth he experienced in his encounter with the Risen Christ earned for him struggle, persecution, suffering.

But what motivated him in his deepest being was being loved by Jesus Christ and the desire to transmit this love to others. Paul was a man capable of love, and all his work and his suffering can be explained on this basis. The founding concepts of his preaching can be understood only on that basis.

Let us take one of his key words: freedom. The experience of being loved all the way by Christ opened his eyes to the truth and the way of human existence - and that experience comprehended everything. Paul was free as a man loved by God, who, because of God, was also able to love together with him. This love was now the 'law' of his life, and as such, was his 'freedom' in life. He spoke and acted in response to the responsibility of that love.

Freedom and responsibility are united here inseparably. Because he has the responsibility of love, he is free. Because he is one who loved, he lives totally in the responsibility of that love, and he does not take freedom as a pretext for arbitrariness and selfishness.

In the same spirit, Augustine formulated the statement he made famous:
Dilige et quod vis fac (Tract. in 1Jo 7,7-8) – love and do what you please.

Whoever loves Christ the way Paul loved him can truly do what he wants, because his love is united to the will of Christ, and therefore, to the will of God: Because his will was anchored in truth and because his will was no longer simply his - no longer the free will of an autonomous I - but integrated in the freedom of God from whom it receives the way to follow.

In the search for the interior physiognomy of St. Paul, I wish, in the second place, to remember the words that the Risen Christ said to him on the road to Damascus.

First the Lord asked him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" To his question, "Who are you, Lord?", the answer was, "I am Jesus whom you persecute" (Acts 9,4f). In persecuting the Church, Paul was persecuting Jesus himself.

"You are persecuting me." Jesus is identifying with the Church as one sole subject. This exclamation by the Risen Lord, which transformed the life of Saul, contains the entire doctrine of the Church as the Body of Christ.

Christ has not retreated to heaven, leaving on earth a legion of followers to carry 'his cause' forward. The Church is not an association to promote a certain cause. It is not about any cause. It is about the person of Jesus Christ, who even as the Risen One remains 'flesh'. He is 'flesh and bone' (Lk 24,39), the Risen One affirms in the Gospel of Luke to the disciples who thought he was a phantasm.

He has a Body. He is personally present in his Church. "Head and Body' form one single subject, Augustine would say.

"Do you not know know that your bodies are members of Christ?", writes Paul to the Corinthians (1Cor 6,15). And he adds: as, in the second Book of Genesis, man and woman become one single flesh, so Christ with his own becomes one single spirit, one single subject in the new world of the resurrection (cfr 1Cor 6,16ff).

In all this, one sees the Eucharistic mystery in which Christ continually gives bis Body and makes of us his Body: "The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? Because the loaf of bread is one, we, though many, are one body, for we all partake of the one loaf" (1Cor 10,16f).

With these words, not only Paul but the Lord himself addresses us: How could you have lacerated my Body? Before the face of Christ, this word becomes at the same time an urgent request: Let us repair together all divisions, make it reality again: There is one bread because we, though we are many, are just one body.

For Paul, the word on the Church as the Body of Christ is not a metaphor. It goes far beyond being a metaphor.

"Why do you persecute me?" Continually Christ draws us within his Body, he h builds his Body starting from the Eucharistic center, which, for Paul, is the center of the Christian existence - by virtue of which everyone, together and individually, can experience in a very personal way (that) Jesus has loved me and given himself for me.

I wish to conclude with a late word from St. Paul, an exhortation to Timothy from prison in the face of death. "Bear your share of hardship for the Gospel", the apostle tells his disciple (2Tm 1,8). This word, which comes like a testament at the end of the ways the Apostle has gone through, goes back to the very beginning of his mission.

When, after his encounter with the Risen Christ, Paul found himself blind in his habitation in Damascus, Ananias received the order to go to the feared persecutor to lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight. To Ananias's objection that this Saul was a dangerous persecutor of Christians, came the answer: This man should bring my name before peoples and kings. "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name" (Acts 9,15f).

The responsibility of proclaiming Christ and the call to suffering for Christ come together inseparably. The call to become the teacher of peoples is at the same time and intrinsically a call to suffering in communion with Christ, who has redeemed us through his Passion.

In a world where lies have power, the truth is paid for with suffering. Whoever wants to avoid suffering, to keep it away from himself, also holds life itself and its greatness away - and cannot be a servant of the truth and thus, a servant of the faith.

There is no love without suffering - without the suffering of self-renunciation, of transformation and purification of the I, for true freedom.

Where there is nothing worth suffering for, life itself loses its value. The Eucharist - center of our Christian being - is based on Jesus's sacrifice for us, it is born from the suffering of love, which culminated on the Cross. From this love that was self-giving, we live. It gives us the courage and the strength to suffer with Christ and for him, in this world, knowing that by doing so, our life becomes great and mature and true.

In the light of all the letters of St. Paul, we see how his journey as the teacher of all peoples fulfilled the prophecy made to Ananias when he was called: "I will show him how much he must suffer for my name."

His suffering made him credible as a teacher of truth who did not seek his own interest, his own glory, his personal satisfaction, but committed himself for him who loved us and gave himself for all of us.

At this time, let us thank the Lord because he called Paul and made him the light for the Gentiles and teacher of us all, and let us pray to him: Give us even today witnesses to the Resurrection, struck by your love and able to carry the light of the Gospel in our time.

St. Paul, pray for us! Amen.


Holiness, Beloved Brother in Christ,
and all the faithful in the Lord,

Inspired by joy full of solemnity, we find ourselves praying the Vespers in this ancient and splendid temple of St. Paul outside the Walls, in the presence of many devout pilgrims from all over the world, for the happy formal inauguration of the Year of St. Paul, Apostle of the Gentiles.

The radical conversion and apostolic kerygma of Saul of Tarsus 'shook' history in the literal sense of the word and shaped the identity of Christianity itself. This great man exercised a profound influence on the classic Fathers of the Church, like St. John Chrysostom in the East, and St. Augustine of Hippo in the West. Even if he had never met Jesus of Nazareth, St. Paul directly received the Gospel "through the revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal 1,11,12).

This sacred place outside the walls is doubtless more than ever the appropriate place to commemorate and celebrate a man who established the union between the Greek language and the Roman mentality of his time, stripping Christianity once and for all of every mental constraint and forging for always the catholic foundation of the ecumenical Church.

Let us hope that the life and Letters of St. Paul may continue to be for us a source of inspiration "so that all men may have the obedience of faith in Christ" (cfr Rom 16,26-27).

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/29/2008 11:02 AM]
6/29/2008 9:54 PM
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Here is a translation of the homilies delivered today by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I and Pope Benedict XVI at the Mass marking the Feast of Saints Peter and Paul. Both spoke in Italian.


Brothers and sisters,

The great feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Patrons of the Church of Rome, and founding pillars along with the other Apostles, of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church, brings us every year the happy presence of a fraternal delegation from the Church of Constantinople which this year, because the feast coincides with the opening of the Pauline Year, is led by the Patriarch himself, His Holiness, Bartholomew I.

I address my heartfelt greeting to him, as I express my joy for having once more the happy opportunity to exchange the kiss of peace with him, in our common hope to see that day coming closer of unitatis redintegratio - of full communion among us.

I also greet the members of teh patriarch's delegation, and the representatives of other Churches and ecclesial communities who honor us with their presence, as a sign of their desire to intensify the journey towards full unity among the disciples of Christ.

Let us now prepare to listen to the reflections of His Holiness Bartholomew I, words that we welcome with open hearts, coming from our beloved brother in the Lord.



Recalling vividly the joy and emotion of the personal and blessed participation of Your Holiness at the Patronal feast of Constantinople in memory of St. Andrew the Apostle, the First-Called, in November of 2006, we travelled 'with exultant steps' from the Fanar of the New Rome to come to you, in order to participate in your joy at the Patronal Feast of the first Rome.

We have come to you "with the fullness of the Blessing of Christ's Gospel (Rom 15,29), repaying honor and love, to celebrate together with our beloved brother in the West, those 'resolute and inspired heralds, Coryphaei of the Disciples of the Lord', the Holy Apostles Peter - brother of Andrew - and Paul: these two immense central pillars raised to heaven by the Church, and who, in this historic city, made their last blazing confession of faith in Christ and gave up their soul to the Lord through martyrdom, one through the Cross, the other through the sword, thus sanctifying the city.

Therefore we greet, with the most profound and devout love, on the part of the Most Holy Church of Constantinople and its children spread throughout the world, Your Holiness, beloved brother, wishing from the heart "to all in Rome who are loved by God" (Rom 1,7) that you may enjoy good health, peace, prosperity and progress day and night towards salvation, "fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, joyful in hope, strong in tribulation, persevering in prayer" (Rom 13, 11-12).

In both Churches, Holiness, we rightly honor and venerate him who gave a salvific confession of the Divinity of Christ, Peter, as well as the chosen vessel, Paul, who proclaimed this confession and faith to the limits of the known universe in the midst of the most unimaginable difficulties and dangers.

We have celebrated their memory together, since the year of salvation 358, on June 29, in the West as well as in the East, where according to a tradition of the early Church, we have been preparing ourselves in the preceding days by fasting in their honor.

To better underscore their equal value - even in their importance within the Church and their regenerative, saving work throughout the centuries - the East habitually honors them with a common icon, in which they each hold in their hands a small boat which symbolizes the Church, or they embrace each other and exchange the kiss of Christ.

It is this kiss that we have come to exchange with you, Holiness, underscoring our ardent desire in Christ and our love, both of which
touches us in our most intimate.

The theological dialog between our Churches 'in faith, truth and love', goes on, thanks to divine help, despite some difficulties and known problems. But we all desire it and pray that the difficulties may be overcome and that problems may be minimized as soon as possible in order to reach our final goal, to the glory of God.

We know that this is your desire as well, just as we are sure that Your Holiness is not overlooking anything, working in person together with your illustrious co-workers to clear the way towards a positive fulfillment, God willing, of the tasks of dialog.

Holiness, we proclaimed 2008 as the Year of the Apostle Paul, just as you have did, from this day on to the next year, to mark the 200th anniversary of the birth of the Great Apostle.

In the context of the different manifestations for the anniversary, in which we have already venerated the precise spot of his martyrdom, we have also planned, among other things, a sacred pilgrimage to some monuments of the Apostle's evangelical activity in the Orient, like Ephesus, Perge, and other cities of Asia Minor, but also Rhodes and Crete, to the places called the 'Good Ports".

You may be certain, Holiness, that in this sacred itinerary, you will be present with us, walking with us spiritually, and that in each place, we will raise an ardent prayer for you and for our brothers in the venerable Roman Catholic Church, addressing a strong plea for the intercession of the divine Paul to the Lord in your behalf.

And now, venerating the sufferings and the cross of Peter and embracing the chains and stigmata of Paul, honoring the confession, martyrdom and venerated death of both in the name of the Lord who truly brings us to Life, we glorify thrice-holy God and implore him, that through the intercession of his Apostle Proto-Coryphaei, he may give us and all the children anywhere in the world of the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches, 'the union of faith and the communion of the Holy Spirit' in the 'bond of peace' down here, and life eternal and his great mercy in the beyond. Amen.


Holiness and fraternal delegates,
Lord Cardinals,
Venerated brothers in the episcopate and priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!

From the earliest times, the Church of Rome has celebrated the solemnity of the great apostles Peter and Paul as a single feast on the same day, June 29. Through their martyrdom, the two became brothers. Together, they were the founders of the new Christian Rome.

It is thus that they are praised in the hymn of the second Vespers which goes back to Paulinus of Aquileia (+806): "Oh happy Rome, adorned with the crimson of the precious blood of such great Princes, you surpass every beauty in the world, not by your own merit, but trough the merit of the saints whom you have killed with bloody sword".

The blood of martyrs does not call for vengeance - it reconciles. It does not present as an accusation but as a 'golden light', according to the words of the hymn in the first Vespers. It presents as the power of love which overcomes hate and violence, thus founding a new city, a new community.

For their martyrdom, Peter and Paul became part of Rome. Through martyrdom, even Peter became a Roman citizen for always. Through their martyrdom, their faith and their love, the two Apostles show us where true hope lies, and are the founders of a new kind of city, which should always form itself anew among the old cities of man which continue to be threatened by the opposing forces of sin and man's selfishness.

By virtue of their martyrdom, Peter and Paul are in reciprocal relationship for always. A favorite image of Christian iconography is the embrace of the two Apostles walking towards martyrdom.

We can say that their very martyrdom, in its most profound sense, is the realization of fraternal embrace. They died for the one Christ, and in the testimony for which they gave their lives, they are one.

In the writings of the New Testament, we can, so to speak, follow the development of their mutual embrace, their becoming one, in testimony and in mission.

Everything starts when Paul, three years after his conversion, goes to Jerusalem 'to consult Kephas' (Gal 1,18). Fourteen years later, he
returns to Jerusalem in order to present 'to persons of repute' the Gospel that he preached in order "that I might not be running, or have run, in vain" (Gal 2, 1f).

At the end of this meeting, James, Kephas and John "gave him their right hands in partnership, thus confirming the communion that united them in the one Gospel of Jesus Christ (Gal 2,9).

A beautiful sign of this growing interior embrace, which developed despite their difference in temperament and in tasks, I find in the fact that the co-workers mentioned at the end of the First Letter of St. Peter - Silvanus and Marcus - were equally close co-workers of St. Paul. Having the same close collaborators makes visible in a very concrete way the communion of the one Church, the mutual embrace of the great Apostles.

Peter and Paul met each other at least twice in Jerusalem, Ultimately, their destinies would both lead them to Rome. Why? Was this perhaps more than just pure chance? Or is there a lasting message in it? Paul arrived in Rome as a prisoner, but at the same time, as a Roman citizen, and it was as such that he had made an appeal to the emperor, to whose tribunal he was being brought.

But in a more profound sense, Paul came to Rome voluntarily. Through the most important of his Letters, he had already drawn close to this city. To the Church in Rome, he had addressed the letter which more than all the rest is a synthesis of his entire announcement and of his faith.

In the opening salutation of the letter, he says that the faith of the Christians of Rome speaks to the whole world and that such faith was known everywhere as exemplary (Rm 1,8). Then he writes: "I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I often planned to come to you, though I was prevented until now" (1,13).

He picks up the subject at the end of the letter, speaking of a plan to travel to Spain. "I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain and to be sent on my way there by you, after I have enjoyed being with you for a time" (15,24) ...and I know that in coming to you I shall come in the fullness of Christ's blessing" (15,29).

There are two things made evident here: Rome was for Paul a stage on the way to Spain, that is, according to his concept of the known world, towards the extreme end of the earth. He considers it his mission to fulfill the assignment received from Christ to bring the Gospel to the very ends of the known world. Rome would be on his way,

While Paul only went to places where the Gospel had not yet been announced, Rome was an exception. There he would find a Church whose faith the world knew about. Going to Rome was part of the universality of his mission as an envoy to all peoples.

The way to Rome, which he had already accomplished interiorly with his letter before his external voyage, is an integral part of his task to bring the Gospel to all peoples - to found the catholic universal Church. Going to Rome was for him the expression of his mission's catholicity. Rome should render the faith visible to all the world - it should be the meeting place for the only faith.

But why did Peter come to Rome? About this, the New Testament does not say anything directly. But it gives us some indication. The Gospel of St. Mark, which we may consider a reflection of the preaching of St. Peter, is intimately oriented towards the moment when the Roman centurion, facing the death of Christ on the Cross, says, "Truly this man was the Son of God!" (15,39). Near the Cross, the mystery of Jesus Christ is revealed. It is under the Cross that the Church of the Gentiles is born: the centurion of the Roman execution squad recognizes the Son of God in Christ.

The Acts of the Apostles describe as a decisive stage for the introduction of the Gospel into the pagan world the episode of Cornelius, the centurion of the Italic cohort. Following a command of God, he sends someone to fetch Peter. And the latter, also following a divine order, goes to the centurion's house and preaches.

While he is speaking, the Holy Spirit descends on the domestic assembly and Peter says: "Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the holy Spirit even as we have?" (Acts 10,47).

Thus, in the Council of the Apostles, Peter becomes an intercessor for the Church of the pagans who do not need the Law [of Judaism] because God 'has purified their hearts with faith' (acts 15,9).

Certainly, in the Letter to the Galatians, Paul says that God gave Peter the power of apostolic ministry among the circumcised, and to him, Paul, the ministry among the pagans (Gal 2,8). But this assignment could be in force only as long as Peter remained with the other Twelve in Jerusalem in the hope that all of Israel might adhere to Christ.

In the face of later developments, the Twelve recognized the time when they too must go forth into the world to announce the Gospel. Peter who, following divine order, had been the first to open the door to pagans, now leaves the leadership of the Christian-Jewish Church to James the Less, in order to dedicate himself to his true mission: ministering the unity of the one Church of God made up of Jews as well as pagans.

The desire of Paul to go to Rome underscored, as we have pointed out, the word 'catholic' among the characteristics of the Church.

The journey of St. Peter towards Rome, representing the peoples of the world, has most to do with the word 'one' - his task was to create the unity of the catholic church, of the Church made up of Jews and pagans, the Church of all peoples.

And this is the permanent mission of Peter: to make it clear that the Church never identifies itself with any one nation, any one culture or any one State. That it may always be the Church of all. That it may unite mankind beyond frontiers and, amids the divisions of this world, make God's peace present, the reconciling power of his love.

Thanks to a technology now shared everywhere, thanks to the global information network, as well as the bonds of common interests, the world today has new ways of unity that also cause new differences to erupt and give new impulse to old ones.

In the midst of such external unity, based on material things, all the more we need interior unity which comes from the peace of God - the unity of all those who, through Jesus Christ, have become brothers and sisters. This is the permanent mission of Peter, as well as the specific task entrusted to the Church of Rome.

Dear brothers in the Episcopate! I wish now to address those of you who have come to Rome to receive the pallium as the symbol of your rank and your responsibility as Archbishop in the Church of Jesus Christ. The pallium is woven from the wool of the lambs which the Bishop of Rome blesses every year on the Feast of Peter's Chair, thus setting them apart, so to speak, to be a symbol for the flock of Christ, over which you preside.

When we put the pallium on our shoulders, this gesture reminds us of the Shepherd who picks up the lost sheep which, by himself, would not find the way home, and takes him back to the flock. The Fathers of the Church saw in this lamb the image of all mankind, of all human nature which has lost its way and cannot make it back home.

The Shepherd which takes the lamb home can only be the Logos, the eternal Word of God himself. In the Incarnation, he took us all - the lamb 'man' - on his shoulders.

He, the eternal Word, the true Shepherd of mankind, carries us. In his humanity, he carries each of us on his shoulders. On the way of the Cross, he carried us all home, he takes us home. But he also wants men who can 'carry' alongside him.

To be a pastor in the Church of Christ means taking part in this task, which the pallium commemorates. When we put it on, Christ asks us: "Will you carry, together with me, those who belong to me? Will you bring them to me, to Jesus Christ?"

What comes to mind next is the order Peter received from the Risen Christ, who links the command, "Pasture my lambs" inseparably with the question, "Do you love me? Do you love me more than others do?"

Every time we put on the pallium of the Pastor of Christ's flock, we should hear that question, "Do you love me?" and we must ask ourselves about that 'something more' of love that he expects from his Pastors.

Thus the pallium becomes a symbol of our love for the Shepherd Christ and our loving together with him - it becomes the symbol of the calling to love men as he does, together with him: those who are searching, those who have questions, those who are self-assured, the humble, the simple, the great. It becomes a symbol of the calling to love everyone with the strength of Christ and with the sight of Christ, so that they may find him, and in finding him, find themselves.

But the pallium which you will receive 'from' the tomb of Peter has yet another significance, inseparably connected with the first. To understand this, a sentence from the First Letter of Peter may help us. In his exhortation to priests to pasture their flock in the correct way, he calls himself a synpresbýteros – co-priest (5,1). This formulation implicitly contains the principle of apostolic succession: the Pastors who follow are Pastors like him; together with him, they belong to the common ministry of the pastors of the Church of Jesus Christ, a ministry that continues in them.

But the prefix 'con-' has two other meanings. It also expresses the reality that we indicate today by the word 'collegiality' among bishops. We are all 'con-presbiteri'. No one is a Pastor by himself. We are in the succession of the Apostles thanks only to being in communion with the college in which the College of Apostles finds its continuation. The communion - the 'we' - of Pastors is part of being a Pastor, because there is only one flock, the one Church of Christ.

Finally, this 'con' also refers to communion with Peter and his successor as a guarantee of unity. Thus, the pallium speaks to us of the catholicity of the Church, of the universal communion between the Pastor and his flock. And it refers us back to apostolicity: to communion with the faith of the Apostles on which the Church is founded.

It speaks to us of the one, holy, catholic, apostolic Church, and of course, in linking us to Christ, it also tells us that the Church is holy, and that our work is in the service of this holiness.

This brings me back, finally, to St. Paul and his mission. He expressed the essence of his mission, as well as the most profound reason for his desire to go to Rome, in Chapter 15 of the Letter to the Romans, in an extraordinarily beautiful statement.

He knows he has been called "to be a minister [leitourgos] of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in performing the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering up of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the holy Spirit" (15,16). In this passage, Paul uses the word 'leiturgos' - liturgist and 'hierarchist' administering as priest. He means the cosmic liturgy, in which the world of men itself becomes an adoration of God, an oblation to the Holy Spirit.

When all the world will have become a liturgy of God, when its reality will have become adoration, then it will have reached its goal, then it will be whole and saved. This is the ultimate objective of St. Paul's apostolic mission and of ours.

Let us pray at this time that he may help us carry it out correctly in order that we may be true liturgists of Jesus Christ. Amen.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 6/29/2008 9:55 PM]
7/1/2008 1:28 AM
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Here is a translation of the multilingual address delivered by the Holy Father today to the 40 metropolitan Archbishops who received the Pallium from him at the Mass on St. Peter's Basilica yesterday. The Pope had a special audience for the bishops, their families, friends and diocesan delegations at Aula Paolo VI.

The Pope began his address in Italian:

Venerated brothers,
distinguished officials,
dear brothers and sisters!

After the solemn celebration yesterday, during which I had the joy of imposing the pallium on the Metropolitan Archbishops named in the past year, today's encounter offers me the welcome opportunity to renew to all my heartfelt greetings and to prolong the climate of communion - hierarchical but at the same time familial and informal - that one experiences in this particular circumstance.

The image of the organic body applied to the Church is one of the strong and characteristic elements of the doctrine of St. Paul, and therefore, in this jubilee year dedicated to him, I wish to entrust each of you, dear brothers, to his celestial protection.

The Apostle of the Gentiles will help the community entrusted to you to grow in unity and missionary spirit, coordinated in pastoral action with a constant apostolic impetus.

I now wish to address a greeting to each of you, dear Archbishops, as well as to your families and all the persons who have wished to be present here, as I extend my thoughts and my prayers to your local Churches.

I am happy to begin with the Holy Land, with a greeting to the Patriarch of Jerusalem of the Latins, Mons. Fouad Twal and those who accompany him.

I affectionately greet Mons. Giancarlo Maria Bregantini, Mons. Paolo Benotto and Mons. Francesco Montenegro, metropolitans respectively of Campobasso-Boiano, Pisa and Agrigento. May the Lord always bless you and guide your daily pastoral ministry.

He next greeted the French-speaking archbishops:

I greet with joy the pilgrims who have come from Niger, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti and France who have come with their new Metropolitan Archbishops, to whom I was pleased to impose the pallium, sign of communion with the Apostolic See.

My special greetings go to Mons. Michel Christian Cartatéguy, Archbishop of Niamey (Niger); Mons. Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, Archbishop of Kinshasa in the Congo; Mons. Louis Kébreau, Archbishop of Cap Haïtien (Haïti); Mons. Serge Miot, Archbishop of Port au Prince (Haïti); and Mons. Laurent Ulrich, Archbishop of Lille (France).

Please convey my greetings to the priests and all the faithful in your dioceses and assure them of my fervent prayers.

The pallium symbolizes the profound union of their pastor with the Successor of Peter, as well as the pastoral concern of the Archbishop for his flock. May the faithful unite themselves even more to Christ in this communion of charity in order to bear witness to him with courage and truth.

He addressed the English-speaking archbishops next:

Your Excellencies, dear friends in Christ, I extend a cordial greeting to the English-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops upon whom I conferred the Pallium yesterday: Cardinal John Njue, Archbishop of Nairobi (Kenya); Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of Baltimore (USA); Archbishop Anthony Mancini of Halifax (Canada); Archbishop Martin Currie of Saint John's, Newfoundland (Canada); Archbishop John Hung Shan-chuan of Taipei (Taiwan); Archbishop Matthew Man-oso Ndagoso of Kaduna (Nigeria); Archbishop Richard Anthony Burke of Benin City (Nigeria); Archbishop Robert Rivas of Castries (Saint Lucia); Archbishop John Ribat of Port Moresby (Papua New Guinea); Archbishop Thomas Kwaku Mensah of Kumasi (Ghana); Archbishop Thomas Rodi of Mobile (USA); Archbishop Donald Reese of Kingston in Jamaica (Jamaica); Archbishop Peter Kairo of Nyeri (Kenya); Archbishop John Nienstedt of Saint Paul and Minneapolis (USA) and Archbishop John Lee Hiong Fun-Yit Yaw of Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia).

I also welcome the family members and friends of the new Metropolitans, and the faithful from their Archdioceses who have accompanied them to Rome.

The Pallium is worn by Metropolitan Archbishops as a symbol of their hierarchical communion with the Successor of Peter in the governance of God's People. It is made of sheep's wool, as a symbol of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, and the Good Shepherd who keeps vigilant watch over his flock.

The Pallium reminds Bishops that, as vicars of Christ in their local Churches, they are called to be shepherds after the example of Jesus. As a symbol of the burden of the episcopal office, it also reminds the faithful of their duty to support the Church's Pastors by their prayers and to cooperate generously with them for the spread of the Gospel and the growth of Christ's Church in holiness, unity and love.

Dear friends, may your pilgrimage to the tombs of Saints Peter and Paul confirm you in the Catholic faith which comes from the Apostles. To all of you I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in the Lord.

His next words were for the two German-speaking metropolitans:

I extend a joyful Gruess Gott to all who have come from my home diocese of Munich and Freising to accompany their new Archbishop Reinhard Marx to Rome for the reception of the pallium.

Likewise I greet the guests of Archbishop Willem Jacobus Eick from Utrecht (the Netherlands).

Yesterday, I laid the pallium on your Pastors to remind us of the Good Shepherd who takes up the lost sheep on his shoulders and gives his life for his flock.

The Lord called the Apostles to be his followers in love. Three times the risen Christ asked Petrus if he loved him. And three times he repeated to him the command to pasture his sheep.

So must Pastors today be pervaded by the will to safeguard the unity between the Lord and his flock. I invite you all to serve your Archbishop in harmony and support him with your prayers. May God and his mercy be always with you!

Next, he spoke in Spanish:

I affectionately address the Spanish-speaking metropolitan archbishops - Francisco Pérez González, of Pamplona and Tudela, (Spain); Lorenzo Voltolini Esti, of Portoviejo (Ecuador); Andrés Stanovnik, of Corrientes (Argentina); Óscar Urbina Ortega, of Villavicencio (Colombia); and Antonio José López Castillo, of Barquisimeto (Venezuela), who have come to Rome for the imposition of the Pallium, accompanied by their families, friends and delegations from their local churches.

Dear brothers in the Episcopate, may the pallium - a liturgical ornament with a venerable tradition, woven out of white wool - remind you always of Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd who is also the Lamb who was immolated for our salvation.

Faithful to your ministry, seek at every moment to promote communion among the bishops of the ecclesiastical province you preside over and with the Bishop of Rome. Inspire all those who came with you for this beautiful occasion not to stop praying for you so that you may continue to lead the flock entrusted to your pastoral efforts with ardent charity, in order that Christ - he for whom the holy Apostles Peter and Paul shed their blood - may be better known, loved and emulated.

I ask the Virgin Mary, who is invoked with such fervor in your countries - Spain, Ecuador, Argentina, Colombia and Venezuela - to protect and support you with her maternal love, your bishops, priests, religious communities and all the diocesan faithful.

With these feelings I impart to you from the heart the Apostolic Blessing as a token of abundant celestial gifts.

Next, he spoke in Portuguese:

I greet with fraternal esteem the Portuguese-speaking Metropolitan Archbishops who received the Pallium yesterday: Dom Mauro Aparecido dos Santos, of Cascavel (Brazil); Dom Luís Gonzaga Silva Pepeu, of Vitória da Conquista (Brazil); and Dom José Francisco Sanches Alves, of Évora (Portugal).

Dear brothers, may you always be solicitous for the flock of Christ entrusted to your care, seeking to make ever closer the bonds of communion with the Successor of Peter and among your various dioceses.

And to you, dear friends who have accompanied your bishops, follow their teachings obediently, cooperating with them generously towards realizing the Kingdom of God.

Invoking the protection of the Virgin Mother of God, I impart the Apostolic Blessing to those present here and to your diocesan communities.

NB: The following greetings were translated from the Italian translations provided by the Vatican Press Office:

To the Polish bishop and pilgrims, the Holy Father said:

I greet the Polish pilgrims, particularly the new Metropolitan of Gdansk, Archbishop Sławoj Leszek Glódz, who received the Pallium yesterday, on the Solemnity of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul, as a sign of the close link between every Metropolitan and the Successor of Peter.

I greet all those who are with him on this solemn occasion, especially his dear ones and the other faithful from the city of Gdansk. I hope that the Pauline Year which has just begun may strengthen your faith and your link with the Church and with its Pastors.

In my prayers, I entrust to God the pastoral service of Your Excellency. I bless with all my heart the pilgrims who are present today. May Jesus Christ be praised!

He spoke next in Russian:

I affectionately greet the Archbishop of the Mother of God Cathedral in Moscow, Mons. Paolo Pezzi. I thank the officials present and assure them of my special prayers.

And I address a heartfelt greeting to Mons. Tadeusz Kondrusiewicz, Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev Uktraine), and those who have accompanied him, with my best wishes for his ministry.

In Slovakian, he said:

I cordially greet the pilgrims coming from Slovakia who accompany their two new archbishop metropolitans: Stanislav of Bratislava and Jan of Presov.

With affection, I bless you and your families. Praise be to Jesus Christ!

In Croatian, he said:
I adderss a heartfelt greeting to Mons. Marin Srakic, the new Archbishop and Metropolitan of Ðakovo-Osijek, his family, and the pilgrims who have come to Rome from ever-faithful Croatia.

The pallium is the sign of the special link between the pastors of the Church and the Successor of Peter. With the hope that the Lord guides and protects you, my venerated brother, and the community of faithful of your dear land, I impart on all a special benediction. Jesus and Mary be praised!

He concluded the omnibus address in Italian:

Dear friends, let us thank God who has not stopped insuring that there are Pastors for his Church to lead it firmly through its earthly pilgrimage.

Let us always remember that for every pastor, the condition of his service is love for Christ, before whom nothing should come ahead.

"Simon bar Jonah, do you love me?" May this question of Jesus to Peter resound always in our heart, dear brothers, and inspire our response, always new and always passionate: "Lord, you know everything: you know I love you".

From this love of Christ comes our mission: "Pasture my lambs" (Jn 21, 16,17) - a mission which is summarized best in our testimony to him, our Master and Lord, who tells us, "Follow me!" (Jn 21,19).

May this be our joy, as it is certainly our Cross - but a gentle adn light Cross, because it is a cross of love.

May the Virgin Mary, Mother of Hope, watch over you and sustain you, while I impart the Apostolic Blessing to each of you, those dear to you, and all who are entrusted to your ministry.

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