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10/8/2008 8:43 PM
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Here is the Vatican translation of the Holy Father's address to the bishops of central Asia on adlimina visit.

Venerable Brothers,

I am particularly glad to meet you at the end of your visit ad limina Apostolorum. I welcome your greeting, expressed by Archbishop Tomash Peta.

I greet each one of you, the Bishops and the Delegate for Greek-Catholic faithful in Kazakhstan, the Apostolic Administrator in Kyrgyzstan, the Apostolic Administrator in Uzbekistan, the Superior of the Missio sui iuris in Takjikistan and the Superior of the Missio sui iuris in Turkmenistan.

I am also grateful to you for bringing me the greeting of the faithful entrusted to your pastoral care in the Region of Central Asia. I assure you that the Successor of Peter follows your ministry with constant prayer and brotherly affection. This house, the house of the Bishop of Rome, is also yours.

I listened to each one of you with great interest and attention, hearing about your communities' achievements, commitments, projects and aspirations, and, of course, also the problems and difficulties that you confront in your pastoral action.

Let us thank the Lord that the flame of the faith is still burning in believers' hearts despite the harsh pressure in the years of the atheist and Communist regime. This is thanks to the self-denial of zealous priests, religious and lay people.

Communities can be reduced to a "little flock". You must not be discouraged, dear Brothers! Look at the first communities of the Lord's disciples. Although they were small they did not withdraw into themselves but, impelled by Christ's love, did not hesitate to shoulder the burdens of the poor and to meet the needs of the sick, joyfully proclaiming and witnessing to the Gospel to all.

Today too, as then, it is the Holy Spirit who leads the Church onwards. Therefore, let yourselves be guided by him and keep alive in the Christian people the flame of faith; preserve and make the most of the worthwhile pastoral and apostolic experiences of the past; continue to teach everyone to listen to the Word of God, inculcate - especially in young people - love for the Eucharist and Marian devotion and spread the practice of the Rosary among families.

Furthermore, seek with patience and courage new forms and methods for the apostolate, concerned to put them into practice in accordance with today's needs, bearing in mind the language and culture of the faithful entrusted to your care. This will demand ever stronger unity among you as Pastors and among the clergy.

Your commitment to achieving this will certainly be more effective and efficient if you do not act alone but seek to increasingly involve the priests, your first collaborators, men and women religious, as well as the lay people dedicated to the various pastoral projects.

Then remember that it is first and foremost these cooperators of yours, labourers, like you, in the Lord's vineyard, to whom you must listen and pay attention. Be available, therefore, and willing to meet their expectations, support them in difficult moments and invite them to place ever greater trust in Providence who never abandons us, especially in times of trial; be beside them when they traverse situations of human and spiritual loneliness.

May all things be founded on constant recourse to God in prayer and a constant effort for unity among yourselves, as well as in each one of your respective and different communities.

All these things appear even more necessary in order to face the challenges to the proclamation of the Good News and consistent practice of Christian life posed by today's globalized society in your regions too.

Here I would like to recall that in addition to the difficulties I mentioned earlier, almost everywhere in the world disturbing phenomena are seriously threatening security and peace. I am referring in particular to the scourges of violence and terrorism, to the spread of extremism and fundamentalism.

Of course, it is necessary to combat these scourges with legislation. Yet the force of the law can never be transformed into injustice, nor can the free practice of religions be limited, because professing one's own faith freely is one of the fundamental and universally recognized human rights.

Then I feel it is helpful to reaffirm that the Church does not impose but rather freely proposes the Catholic faith, well aware that conversion is the mysterious fruit of the Holy Spirit's action.

Faith is a gift and the work of God. For this very reason every type of proselytism that forces, induces or entices someone to embrace the faith by unworthy devices is strictly forbidden (cf. Ad Gentes, n. 13).

A person can open himself to the faith after mature and responsible reflection and must be able to achieve this intimate inspiration freely. This is not only for the individual's benefit but indeed for that of the whole of society, for the faithful observance of the divine precepts is helpful in building a more just and supportive coexistence.

Dear Brothers, I encourage you to persevere in the work you have undertaken, wisely making the most of the contributions of all. I take this opportunity to thank the priests and religious who work in the various ecclesiastical circumscriptions, and in particular: the Franciscans in the Diocese of the Most Blessed Trinity in Almaty, the Jesuits in Kyrgyzstan, the Conventual Franciscans in Uzbekistan, the religious of the Institute of the Incarnate Word in the Missio sui iuris in Tadjikistan, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Missio sui iuris in Turkmenistan.

I also ask other religious families to make a generous contribution by sending personnel and means to bring to completion the apostolic work in the vast regions of Central Asia. I repeat to each one of you that the Pope is with you and supports you in your ministry.

May Mary, Queen of Apostles, always watch over you and over your communities. May you always be accompanied by my prayers as I warmly bless you all.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/17/2008 2:45 AM]
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October 3, 2006

This address was delivered in English.

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/17/2008 2:51 AM]
10/8/2008 8:45 PM
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HOMILY ON 10/4/08
Opening Mass for the 12th General Assembly of the Bishops' Synod
Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily today:

Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!

The first Reading, taken from the book of the prophet Isaiah, as well as the Gospel passage taken from Matthew, propose to our liturgical gathering a suggestive allegorical image from Sacred Scripture: the image of the vineyard, which we also heard in preceding Sundays.

The initial passage in the Gospel narration refers to the 'canticle of the vineyard' that we find in Isaiah. It is a song set in the autumnal context of the grape harvest - a small masterpiece of Hebrew poetry which would have been quite familiar to those who listened to Jesus, and from which, as from the other citations of the prophet (cfr Os 10,1; Ger 2,21; Ez 17,3-0; 19,10-14; Sal 79,9–17), one understands well that the vine indicates Israel.

To this vineyard, the people he has chosen, God reserves the same concern and care that a faithful spouse shows for his wife (cfr Ez 16,1-14; Ef 5,25-33).

The image of the vineyard, along with that of a wedding, thus describes the divine plan of salvation, and is a moving allegory of God's alliance with his people.

In the Gospel, Jesus takes up the canticle of Isaiah but adapts it to his listeners and to the new hour in the history of salvation. The accent is not so much on the vineyard but on the tenants of this vineyard, from whom the 'servants' of the master came to demand the produce in his name. But the servants were mistreated and even killed.

How can we not think of the experiences of the Chosen People and the destiny reserved to the prophets sent by God? In the end, the owner of the vineyard makes a last attempt: he sends his own son, convinced that the tenants would listen to him.

But the opposite happens. The tenants kill him precisely because he is the son, the heir, convinced that in doing so, they could more easily take possession of the vineyard.

Thus we see (in this parable) a qualitative leap from the accusation of violating social justice that emerges in the canticle of Isaiah. Here we see clearly how contempt for the orders given by the master is transformed into contempt for him. It is not simple disobedience to a divine precept. It is true and proper rejection of God. The mystery of the Cross comes to light.

What the Gospel page denounces concerns our very own way of thinking and behaving. It does not speak only of Christ's 'hour', of the mystery of the Cross at that moment, but of the presence of the Cross at all times.

It concerns especially the people who have received the news of the Gospel. If we look at history, we are forced to observe not infrequently the coldness and the rebellion of inconsistent Christians.

As a consequence, God, even if he will never take back his promise of salvation, often had to resort to punishment. One might think spontaneously, in this context, of the first announcement of the Gospel, which gave rise to Christian communities that flourished initially, but which then disappeared and are now remembered only in history books. Cannot the same thing happen in our time?

Nations which were once rich in faith and vocations are now losing their own identity under the deleterious and destructive influence of a certain culture of modernity.

There are those who, having decided that 'God is dead', declare themselves to be 'god', considering themselves the only authors of their own destiny, absolute proprietors of the world.

Ridding himself of God and not expecting salvation from him, man thinks he can do as he pleases and be himself the measure of his own behavior. But when man eliminates God from his own horizon and declares God 'dead', is he truly happy? Does he really become more free?

When men declare themselves absolute proprietors of themselves and the only masters of creation, can they really construct a society in which freedom, justice and peace can reign?

Does this not result rather - as the daily news demonstrates amply - in spreading the arbitrariness of power, selfish interests, injustice and exploitation, and violence in every form? The point of arrival, eventually, is that man finds himself more alone and society more divided and confused.

But there is a promise in the words of Jesus: the vineyard shall not be destroyed. Even as he leaves the unfaithful tenants to their destiny, the owner does not abandon his vineyard and entrusts it to other faithful servants.

This indicates that even if in some places, faith has been weakened to the point of extinction, there will always be other peoples ready to welcome it.

Precisely because of this, Jesus - while citing Psalm 117(118): "The stone that the workers had discarded has become the cornerstone" (. 22) - was giving assurances that his death would not be the defeat of God. He would not stay in the tomb; rather, that which would seem to be total defeat, would mark the start of a definitive victory.

His sorrowful passion and death on the Cross would be followed by the glory of Resurrection. The vineyard would continue to produce grapes and it would be leased by the owner "to other tenants who will give him the produce at the proper times" (Mt 21,41).

The image of the vineyard, with its moral, doctrinal and spiritual implications, will come back in the discourse at the last Supper, when, bidding farewell to his Apostles, the Lord will say: "I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine grower. He takes away every branch in me that does not bear fruit, and everyone that does, he prunes so that it bears more fruit" (Jn 15,1-2).

With the Paschal event, the history of salvation will have a decisive turning point, and its protagonists will be those 'other tenants' who, grafted as chosen seedlings in Christ, the true vine, will bear abundant fruits of eternal life (cfr Collect prayer).

We are among such 'tenants', grafted to Christ, who is himself the true vine. Let us pray that the Lord who gives us his own blood, his very self, in the Eucharist, may help us to 'bear fruit' for eternal life and for our own time.

The comforting message which we take from these Biblical texts is the certainty that evil and death do not have the last word, but that Christ wins in the end. Always!

The Church does not tire of proclaiming this Good News, as it does even today, in this Basilica dedicated to the Apostle of the Gentiles, who was the first to spread the Gospel in vast regions of Asia Minor and Europe.

We wil be renewing this proclamation in a significant way during the 12th ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, whose theme is "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church".

I wish to greet all of you, venerated Synodal Fathers, with heartfelt affection, and all those who are taking part in this encounter as experts, auditors and special guests. I am equally happy to welcome the fraternal delegates from other Churches and ecclesial communities.

To the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops and his co-workers, I express my acknowledgment for the demanding work they have carried out in these past months, as well as my best wishes for the efforts that await them in the coming weeks.

When God speaks, he always asks for an answer. His action of salvation requires human cooperation. His love expects correspondence.
Dear brothers and sisters, may it never happen what the Biblical text says about the vineyard: "He looked for the crop of grapes, but what it yielded was wild grapes" (cfr Is 5,2).

Only the Word of God can profoundly change the heart of man, and so it is important that individual believers and communities enter into ever growing intimacy with it, The Synodal assembly will turn its attention to this fundamental truth for the life and mission of the Church.

To nourish ourselves with the Word of God is a primary and fundamental task. In effect, if announcing the Gospel constitutes its reason for being and its mission, it is indispensable that the Church itself knows and lives what it announces, so that its preaching may be credible, notwithstanding the weaknesses and poverty of the men who compose it.

We know, moreover, that the announcement of the Word, in the school of Christ, has the Kingdom of God as its content (cfr Mk 1,14-15), but the Kingdom of God is the person of Jesus himself, who with his words and his works, offers salvation to men in every age.

In this respect, St. Jerome had an interesting consideration: "He who does not know Scriptures does not know the power of God nor his wisdom. Not to know Scriptures means not to know Christ" (Prologue to the commentary on the prophet Isaiah: PL 24,17).

In this Pauline Year, we will hear the cry of the Apostle of the Gentiles resound with particular urgency: "Woe unto me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9,16) - a cry which, for every Christian, becomes an insistent invitation to place oneself at the service of Christ.

"The harvest is abundant" (Mt 9,37), the Divine Master repeats even today. Many have not yet met him, and are awaiting the first announcement of his Gospel. Others, though having received a Christian formation, have been weakened in their enthusiasm and have only a superficial contact with the Word of God. Still others have distanced themselves from the practice of the faith and need a new evangelization.

Then there is no lack of right-thinking persons who have essential questions on the sense of life and death, questions to which only Christ can provide satisfying answers.

Thus it becomes indispensable for Christians in every continent to be ready to answer whoever asks them the reason for the hope that they have in them (cfr 1 Pt 3,15), announcing with joy the Word of God and living the Gospel without compromises.

Venerated and dear brothers, May the Lord help you to ask each other, during the next few weeks of synodal work, how to make the announcement of the Gospel more effective in our time.

We are all aware how necessary to is to place the Word of God in the center of our life, to welcome Christ as our only Redeemer, as the Kingdom of God in person, to work so that his light may illumine every aspect of mankind: from the family to the school, to culture, work, free time and other spheres of society and life.

Participating in the Eucharistic celebration, we are always aware of the close link which exists between announcing the Word of God and the Eucharistic Sacrifice: it is the same Mystery which is offered for our contemplation.

That is why the Church - as the Second Vatican Council expressed it - has always venerated Divine Scriptures as it has venerated the Body of the Lord itself, never failing, especially in sacred liturgy, to nourish itself with the bread of life from the table both of God's word and of Christ's body, and to offer these to the faithful.

The Council rightly concluded: "Just as the life of the Church is strengthened through more frequent celebration of the Eucharistic mystery, similarly we may hope for a new stimulus for the life of the Spirit from a growing reverence for the word of God, which 'lasts forever'(Is. 40:8; see 1 Peter 1:23-25)" [Dei Verbum 21.26).

May the Lord grant that we approach with faith the double table of the Word, and the Body and Blood of Christ. May this gift be obtained for us by the Most Blessed Mary who "kept all these things, reflecting on them in her heart" (Lk 2,19).

May she teach us to listen to Scriptures and to meditate on it in an interior process of maturation that never separates the mind from the heart. May the saints come to our aid, particularly the Apostle Paul, who during this year we shall increasingly get to know as the intrepid witness and herald of the Word of God. Amen.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/8/2008 11:21 PM]
10/8/2008 11:19 PM
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The Holy FatHer improvised a homily at the Third Hour of the Divine Office which started the first general congregation of the Bishops' Synod's XII General Assembly on Monday, Oct. 6. Here is a translation of his meditation:

Dear Brothers in the Episcopate,
dear brothers and sisters!

At the start of our Synod, the Liturgy of the Hours offers us a passage from the great Psalm 118 [Psalm 119 in modern numbering] on the Word of God: a eulogy of his Word, expression of Israel's joy at being able to know it, and in it, to know his will and his face.

I would like to meditate with you on some verses of this excerpt from the Psalm.

It starts this way: "In aeternum, Domine, verbum tuum constitutum est in caelo... firmasti terram, et permanet". (Your word, LORD, stands forever; it is firm as the heavens...your truth endures; fixed to stand firm like the earth".)

It speaks of the solidity of the Word. It is solid, it is the true reality on which to base one's life. Let us recall the words of Jesus who continues these words of the Psalm: "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words never will".

Humanly speaking, the word, our human word, is almost a nothing in reality, a whiff of breath. No sooner said, it vanishes. It seems to be nothing. And yet the human word has an incredible power. They are words that make history, they give shape to our thoughts, thoughts which give rise to words. Words shape history and reality.

But much more so is the Word of God which is the basis of everything - it is the true reality. And to be realists, we must depend on this reality. We should change our idea that material things, those that are solid, that can be touched, are the most solid and sure realities.

At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord tells us the two possibilities of constructing the house of our own life: on sand or on rock. He who builds only on visible and tangible things, on success, on career, on money, builds on sand. These seem to be the realities.

Only the Word of God is the foundation of all reality - it is as stable as heaven, and more than heaven. It is reality. So we must change our concept of realism.

The realist is he who recognizes in the Word of God - this reality which can appear to be so weak - the foundation of everything. The realist is he who builds his life on this foundation which will stay permanently.

Thus these first verses of the Psalm invite us to discover what is reality and in this way, to find the foundation of our life, how to build our life.

The next verse says: "Omnia serviunt tibi" (All things are your servants). All things come from the Word, they are a product of the Word.

"In the beginning was the Word". In the beginning, heaven spoke. And so, reality is born from the Word, it is 'creatura Verbi', a creature of the Word. Everything is created from the Word, and everything is called on to serve the Word.

This means that all of creation, ultimately, was ideated to create the place of encounter between God and his creatures, a place where the love of the creature responds to divine love, a place where the love story between God and his creatures takes place. "Omnia serviunt tibi".

The story of salvation is not a small event, in a poor planet lost in the immensity of the universe. It is not a minimal thing that is happening by chance in an out-of-the-way planet.

It is the mover of everything, the aim of creation. Everything was created so that this story would take place - the encounter between God and his creature. In this sense, the story of salvation, the alliance with God, preceded creation.

In the Hellenistic period, Judaism developed the idea that the Torah (the Jewish book of laws) had preceded the creation of the material world. This material world was created only to provide the setting for the Torah, to the Word of God which creates a response and becomes a story of love.

Already, the mystery of Christ shines through. It is what we are told in the Letters to the Ephesians and to the Corinthians: Christ is the protòtypos, the firstborn of Creation, the idea for which the universe was conceived. He embraces everything. We enter into the movement of the universe by uniting ourselves to Christ.

We might say that while material creation is the condition for the story of salvation, the story of the alliance is the true reason for the cosmos. We come to the roots of being by arriving at the mystery of Christ, to his living Word which is the purpose of all creation.

"Omnia serviunt tibi". Serving the Lord, we realize the purpose of being, the purpose of our own existence.

Let us jump forward. "Mandata tua exquisivi" (I shall consider your commands with care). We are always in search of the Word of God. It is not just present in us. If we stop at the letter of the Word, we have not necessarily understood the Word of God. There is the danger that we only see the human words and fail to find within the true actor, the Holy Spirit. We do not find the Word in words.

St. Augustine, in this context, reminds us of the scribes and Pharisees consulted by Herod when the Magi arrived. Herod wanted to know where the Savior of the world would be born. They knew it, and gave him the correct answer; Bethlehem. They were great experts, who knew everything. And yet, they did not see reality, they did not recognize the Savior.

St. Augustine says - they showed the way for others, but they themselves did not move. This is a great danger,too, in our reading of Scripture: we stop at the words, human words from the past, a history of the past, and we do not discover the present in the past, the Holy Spirit which speaks to us today in words from the past.

And so we fail to enter into the interior movement of the Word, which hides in human words and opens the divine words. That is why there is always need for 'considering with care'. We should be in search of the Word within words.

Therefore, exegesis, the true reading of Sacred Scripture, is not simply a literary phenomenon, it is not limited to reading the text. It is the movement of my own existence. It is moving towards the Word of God in human words.

Only by conforming to the mystery of God, to the Lord who is the Word, can we enter into the Word, only then can we truly find the Word of God in human words.

Let us pray to the Lord that he may help us to search not only with the intellect, but with all our existence, to find his Word.

In the end: "Omni consummationi vidi finem, latum praeceptum tuum nimis" (I have seen the limits of all perfection, but your command is without bounds). All human things, all the things we could invent or create, are finite.

Even all the human religious experiences are finite, they show an aspect of reality, because our being is finite and always understands only a part, some elements. "Latum praeceptum tuum nimis": Your command is without bounds.

Only God is infinite. And so even his Word is universal and does not not recognize any limits. And so in entering the Word of God, we are truly entering into the divine universe. We leave the limitations of our experiences and enter into that reality which is truly universal.

Entering into communion with the Word of God, we enter into the communion of the Church that lives the Word of God. We are not entering a small group, into the order of a small group , but we go beyond our personal limits. And we go towards largeness. the true largeness of the only truth, the great truth of God. We are really into the universal, into the communion of all our brothers and sisters, of all mankind, because in our heart is hidden that desire for the Word of God which is one.

That is why even evangelization, the announcement of the Gospel, mission - these are not a kind of ecclesial colonialism with which we want to bring others into our group. It is leaving the limits of single cultures towards the universality that links everyone, unites everyone, makes us all brothers.

Let us pray too that the Lord may help us enter truly into the 'largeness' of his Word and thus open ourselves to the universal horizon of mankind, that which unites us despite all our differences.

Let us turn back to a preceding verse: "Tuus sum ego: salvum me fac" (I am yours; save me) (v. 94). it is translated into Italian as 'I am yours'. The Word of God is like a ladder which we can climb, and with Christ, descend as well into the depths of his love. It is a way to get to the Word within words. Because this Word has a face - it is a person, Christ. Before we can say "I am yours", he has already told us "I am yours'.

The Letter to the Hebrews, citing Psalm 39, says: "A body you have prepared for me... And so I said, Here I am, I am coming". The Lord prepared himself a body to come to. With his Incarnation, he said, "I am yours". And in Baptism, he tells me: "I am yours". In the Sacred Eucharist, he says the same thing anew, "I am yours", so that we may respond, "Lord, I am yours".

In the journey towards the Word, entering into the mystery of his Incarnation, of his 'being with us', we wish to appropriate his being to ourselves, we want to expropriate ourselves of our existence, giving ourselves to him who gave himself to us.

"I am yours". Let us pray to the Lord to be able to learn with our whole existence to say these words. Thus we will be in the heart of the Word. And thus we shall be saved.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/17/2008 2:52 AM]
10/9/2008 11:38 AM
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,

This year the theme of the Message for the World Day of Migrants and Refugees is: "St Paul migrant, ‘Apostle of the peoples’".

It is inspired by its felicitous coincidence with the Jubilee Year I established in the Apostle's honour on the occasion of the 2,000th anniversary of his birth.

Indeed, the preaching and mediation between the different cultures and the Gospel which Paul, "a migrant by vocation" carried out, are also an important reference point for those who find themselves involved in the migratory movement today.

Born into a family of Jewish immigrants in Tarsus, Cilicia, Saul was educated in the Hebrew and Hellenistic cultures and languages, making the most of the Roman cultural context.

After his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus (cf. Gal 1:13-16), although he did not deny his own "traditions" and felt both esteem and gratitude to Judaism and the Law (cf. Rm 9:1-5; 10:1; 2 Cor 11:22; Gal 1:13-14; Phil 3:3-6), he devoted himself without hesitation or second thoughts to his new mission, with courage and enthusiasm and docile to the Lord's command: "I will send you far away to the Gentiles" (Acts 22:21).

His life changed radically (cf. Phil 3:7-11): Jesus became for him his raison d’être and the motive that inspired his apostolic dedication to the service of the Gospel. He changed from being a persecutor of Christians to being an Apostle of Christ.

Guided by the Holy Spirit, he spared no effort to see that the Gospel which is "the power of God for salvation to every one who has faith, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Rm 1:16) was proclaimed to all, making no distinction of nationality or culture.

On his apostolic journeys, in spite of meeting with constant opposition, he first proclaimed the Gospel in the synagogues, giving prior attention to his compatriots in the diaspora (cf. Acts 18:4-6). If they rejected him he would address the Gentiles, making himself - an authentic "missionary to migrants" - as a migrant and an ambassador of Jesus Christ "at large" in order to invite every person to become a "new creation" in the Son of God (2 Cor 5:17).

The proclamation of the kerygma caused him to cross the seas of the Near East and to travel the roads of Europe until he reached Rome. He set out from Antioch, where he proclaimed the Gospel to people who did not belong to Judaism and where the disciples of Jesus were called "Christians" for the first time (cf. Acts 11:20, 26).

His life and his preaching were wholly directed to making Jesus known and loved by all, for all persons are called to become a single people in him.

This is the mission of the Church and of every baptized person in our time too, even in the era of globalization; a mission that with attentive pastoral solicitude is also directed to the variegated universe of migrants - students far from home, immigrants, refugees, displaced people, evacuees - including for example, the victims of modern forms of slavery, and of human trafficking.

Today too the message of salvation must be presented with the same approach as that of the Apostle to the Gentiles, taking into account the different social and cultural situations and special difficulties of each one as a consequence of his or her condition as a migrant or itinerant person.

I express the wish that every Christian community may feel the same apostolic zeal as St Paul who, although he was proclaiming to all the saving love of the Father (Rm 8:15-16; Gal 4:6) to "win more" (1 Cor 9:22) for Christ, made himself weak "to the weak... all things to all men so that [he] might by all means save some" (1 Cor 9:22).

May his example also be an incentive for us to show solidarity to these brothers and sisters of ours and to promote, in every part of the world and by every means, peaceful coexistence among different races, cultures and religions.

Yet what was the secret of the Apostle to the Gentiles? The missionary zeal and passion of the wrestler that distinguished him stemmed from the fact that since "Christ [had] made him his own", (Phil 3:12), he remained so closely united to him that he felt he shared in his same life, through sharing in "his sufferings" (Phil 3:10; cf. also Rm 8:17; 2 Cor 4:8-12; Col 1:24).

This is the source of the apostolic ardour of St Paul who recounts: "He who had set me apart before I was born, and had called me through his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles" (Gal 1:15-16; cf. also Rm 15:15-16).

He felt "crucified with" Christ, so that he could say: "It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me" (Gal 2:20), and no difficulty hindered him from persevering in his courageous evangelizing action in cosmopolitan cities such as Rome and Corinth, which were populated at that time by a mosaic of races and cultures.

In reading the Acts of the Apostles and the Letters that Paul addressed to various recipients, we perceive a model of a Church that was not exclusive but on the contrary open to all, formed by believers without distinction of culture or race: every baptized person is, in fact, a living member of the one Body of Christ.

In this perspective, fraternal solidarity expressed in daily gestures of sharing, joint participation and joyful concern for others, acquires a unique prominence.

However, it is impossible to achieve this dimension of brotherly mutual acceptance, St Paul always teaches, without the readiness to listen to and welcome the Word preached and practised (cf. 1 Thes 1:6), a Word that urges all to be imitators of Christ (cf. Eph 5:1-2), to be imitators of the Apostle (cf. 1 Cor 11:1).

And therefore, the more closely the community is united to Christ, the more it cares for its neighbour, eschewing judgment, scorn and scandal, and opening itself to reciprocal acceptance (cf. Rm 14:1-3; 15:7).

Conformed to Christ, believers feel they are "brothers" in him, sons of the same Father (Rm 8:14-16; Gal 3:26; 4:6). This treasure of brotherhood makes them "practise hospitality" (Rm 12:13), which is the firstborn daughter of agape (cf. 1 Tm 3:2, 5:10; Ti 1:8; Phlm 17).

In this manner the Lord's promise: comes true: "then I will welcome you, and I will be a father to you, and you shall be my sons and daughters" (2 Cor 6:17-18).

If we are aware of this, how can we fail to take charge of all those, particularly refugees and displaced people, who are in conditions of difficulty or hardship? How can we fail to meet the needs of those who are de facto the weakest and most defenceless, marked by precariousness and insecurity, marginalized and often excluded by society?

We should give our priority attention to them because, paraphrasing a well known Pauline text, "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Cor 1:27).

Dear brothers and sisters, may the World Day for Migrants and Refugees, which will be celebrated on 18 January 2009, be for all an incentive to live brotherly love to the full without making any kind of distinction and without discrimination, in the conviction that any one who needs us and whom we can help is our neighbour (cf. Deus Caritas Est, n. 15).

May the teaching and example of St Paul, a great and humble Apostle and a migrant, an evangelizer of peoples and cultures, spur us to understand that the exercise of charity is the culmination and synthesis of the whole of Christian life.

The commandment of love - as we well know - is nourished when disciples of Christ, united, share in the banquet of the Eucharist which is, par excellence, the sacrament of brotherhood and love.

And just as Jesus at the Last Supper combined the new commandment of fraternal love with the gift of the Eucharist, so his "friends", following in the footsteps of Christ who made himself a "servant" of humanity, and sustained by his Grace cannot but dedicate themselves to mutual service, taking charge of one another, complying with St Paul's recommendation: "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ" (Gal 6:2). Only in this way does love increase among believers and for all people (cf. 1 Thes 3:12).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us not tire of proclaiming and witnessing to this "Good News" with enthusiasm, without fear and sparing no energy! The entire Gospel message is condensed in love, and authentic disciples of Christ are recognized by the mutual love their bear one another and by their acceptance of all.

May the Apostle Paul and especially Mary, the Mother of acceptance and love, obtain this gift for us. As I invoke the divine protection upon all those who are dedicated to helping migrants, and more generally, in the vast world of migration, I assure each one of my constant remembrance in prayer and, with affection, I impart my apostolic Blessing to all.

From Castel Gandolfo, 24 August 2008

10/9/2008 6:04 PM
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[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/17/2008 2:54 AM]
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Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily at the Mass today in St. Peter's Basilica.

Eminent Cardinals,
venerated Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
dear brothers and sisters:

The passage from the book of Ecclesiastes and the prolog to the First Letter of St. Peter, proclaimed as the first and second readings today, offer us significant points of reflection for this Eucharistic celebration during which we commemorate my venerated predecessor, the Servant of God Pius XII. Exactly 50 years have passed since his death during the early hours of October 8, 1958.

Ecclesiastes, as we heard it, reminds those who intend to follow the Lord that they should prepare themselves for trials, difficulties and sufferings.

In order not to give in to these, it advises, one needs a heart that is upright and constant, one needs faithfulness to God, and patience united with an inflexible determination, to proceed along the path of goodness.

Suffering refines the heart of a disciple of the Lord, as gold is purified in the furnace. "Accept what happens to you," writes the sacred author, "and be patient in sorrowful events, because gold is tried in fire as men are tried in the crucible of sorrow" (Eccl ?,4-5).

St. Peter, on his part, in the excerpt proposed to us, goes even farther when addressing the Christians of the communities of Asia Minor who were 'afflicted by various trials' - he asks them, notwithstanding, to 'rejoice' (1 Pt 1,6).

In fact, trial is necessary, he observes, "so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold that is perishable even though tested by fire, may prove to be for praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1 Pt 1,7).

Then, for the second time, he exhorts them to rejoice, indeed to exult 'with an indescribable and glorious joy' (v. 8). The profound reason for this spiritual joy is love for Jesus and the certainty of his invisible presence. It is he who makes the faith and the hope of believers unshakable even in the most complicated and difficult phases of existence.

It is in the light of these Biblical texts that we can read the earthly experience of Papa Pacelli and his long service to the Church begun in 1901 under Leo XIII, and continued under St. Pius X< Benedict XV and Pius XI.

These Biblical texts help us to understand the source from which he drew courage and patience in his pontifical ministry, which took place in the tormented world of the Second World War, and the postwar era, not less complex, with reconstruction and the difficult international relations that have passed into history described significantly as the Cold War.

"Miserere mei Deus, secundum magnam misericordiam tuam" - Have mercy on me, Lord, according to your great mercy. With this invocation from Psalm 50(51), Pius XII began his spiritual testament, continuing: "These words, which I am conscious of being undeserving and unequal, were those I said at the moment when, trembling, I accepted my election as the Supreme Pontiff. With greater reason, I repeat them now". He wrote this two years before his death.

To abandon himself in the merciful hands of God: this was the attitude that this venerated precedessor of mine cultivated constantly. He was the last of the Popes who had been born in Rome and came from a family linked for many years to the Holy See.

In Germany, where he was the Apostolic Nuncio, first in Munich then in Berlin till 1929, he left grateful memories behind, above all for having worked with Benedict XV in the attempt to stop the 'useless massacre' of the Great War, and for having grasped since its emergence the danger represented by the monstrous National-Socialistic ideology with its pernicious anti-Semite and anti-Catholic roots.

Made cardinal in December 1929, and soon after Secretary of State, he was a faithful collaborator of Pius XI for nine years, in an era marked by totalitarianisms: Fascist, Nazi and Soviet Communist - condemned respectively in the encyclicals Non abbiamo bisogno , Mit brennender Sorge and Divini Redemptoris.

"He who listens to my word and believes... has life eternal" (Jn 5, 24). This assurance by Jesus that we heard in today's Gospel makes us think of the more difficult moments in Pius XII's Pontificate when, taking note of the disappearance of every human certainty, he felt the need, through a constant effort at asceticism, to cling to Christ, the only certainty that never fades.

The Word of God became a light for his path, along which Papa Pacelli had to comfort the homeless and the persecuted, to wipe tears of sorrow and mourn the innumerable victims of the war.

Christ alone is the true hope for man - only by trusting in him can the human heart open itslf to the love that conquers hate. This awareness was ever with Pius XII in his ministry as the Successor of Peter, a ministry that started precisely when the menacing clouds of a new global conflict gathered over Europe and the rest of the world, a conflict that he tried his best in every way to help avoid: 'The danger is imminent, but there is still time. Nothing can be lost with peace. Eveything can be lost with war", he cried out in a radio messagge on August 24, 1939 (AAS, XXXI, 1939, p. 334).

The war placed in evidence the love that he felt for his 'beloved Rome', a love proven by the intense work of charity that he promoted in defense of the persecuted, regardless of religion, race, nationality or political affiliation.

When he was repeatedly advised, after the (German) occupation of Rome, to leave the Vatican for safer ground, his resolute response was always the same: "I will not leave Rome and my duty, even if it means I should die" (cfr Summarium, p.186).

His relatives and other witnesses attest to how he voluntarily deprived himself of food, heating, clothing, conveniences, in order to share the condition of people who were sorely tried by the bombings and other consequences of war (cfr A. Tornielli, 'Pio XII, Un uomo sul trono di Pietro').

And how can we forget his Christmas message in December 1942? In a voice torn with emotion, he deplored the situation of "hundreds of thousands of persons who, without any fault of their own, except for reason of nationality or race, are destined to death or progressive wasting away" (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p. 23), with a clear reference to the deportation and extermination being perpetrated against Jews.

He acted secretly and silently precisely because, in the light of concrete situations in that complex historical moment, he sensed that only thus could he avoid the worst, and be able to save as many Jews as possible.

Because of his interventions, numerous and unanimous messages of gratitude were sent to him at the end of the war, and later when he died, from the highest authorities of the Jewish world. For example, the then Foreign Minister of Israel, Golda Meir, wrote: "When the most frightening martyrdom struck our people, during the ten years of the Nazi terror, the voice of the Pontiff was raised in behalf of the victims", and she concluded movingly, "We weep for the loss of a great servant of peace".

Unfortunately, the historical debate on the figure of the Servant of God Pius XII, has not always been calm, and has neglected bringing to light all the aspects of his polyhedric Pontificate.

He gave so many discourses. allocutions and messages to scientists, doctors, representatives of the most diverse fields of work, some of which still retain an extraordinary relevance today and continue to be a valid refernece point.

Paul VI, who was his faithful co-worker for many years, described him as erudite, an attentive scholar, open to modern ways of research and culture, with ever firm and consistent faithfulness both to the principles of human rationality as well as to the intangible deposit of truth in the faith.

He considered him a precursor of the Second Vatican Council (cfr Angelus of March 10, 1974). In this perspective, many of his documents deserve to be recalled, but I will limit myself to citing only a few.

With the encyclical Mystici Corporis, published on June 29, 1943, while war was still raging, he described the spiritual and visible relationships that unite man to the Word incarnate, and proposed, in this context, to integrate the principal themes of ecclesiology, offering for the first time a dogmatic and theological synthesis that would be the basis for the Dogmatic Cosntitution of Vatican-II, Lumen gentium.

A few months later, on Sept. 20, 1943, with the encyclical Divino afflante Spiritu, he established the dotrinal norms for the study of Sacred Scripture, highlighting its importance and its role in Christian life. It is a document that shows great openness to scientific research on Biblical texts.

How can we not remember this encylical precisely when the Bishops Synod is meeting to consider the topic of "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church"?

It was Pius XII's prophetic intuition that opened the way for serious study into the characteristics of ancient historiography in order to better understand the nature of sacred books, without weakening them nor denying their historical value.

A deeper look into 'literary genres' that mean to understand better what the sacred author meant to say had been looked at with suspicion before then (in the Church), if only because of abuses that had been made.

The encyclical acknowledged their correct application, declaring their legitimacy to be used for the study not only of the Old Testament but also of the New.

"Today, this art, which is usually called textual criticism," he explained, "and employed very fruitfully and to great praise by secular authors in their publications, should be rightly applied to Sacred Books, precisely because of the reverence due the Word of God".

He added: "The purpose in fact is to restore with all possible precision the sacred text in its original sense, purging it of the deformations introduced by shortcomings of copyists, and ridding them of glosses and gaps, of the transposition of words, repetitions and similar defects of every kind, which infiltrated the texts as they were manually handed down for centuries." (AAS, XXXV, 1943, p. 336).

The third encyclical I wish to mention is Mediator Dei, dedicated to liturgy, and published on November 20, 1947. With this document, the Servant of God gave new impulse to the liturgical movement, insisting on 'the essential element of worship' which 'must be internal'.

In fact, he wrote, it is necessary "always to live in Christ, dedicate oneself totally to him, so that in him, with him, and through him, we give glory to the Father. The sacred liturgy requires that these two eklements be intimately joined... Otherwise, religion becomes a formalism without foundation and without content".

We cannot fail to point to the noteworthy impulse that this Pontiff gave to the missionary activity of the Church with the encyclicals Evangelii praecones (1951) and Fidei donum(1957), which highlighted the duty of every Christian community to announce the Gospel to the people, as the Second Vatican Council would do with courageous vigor.

Papa Pacelli had shown his love for the missions from the start of his Pontificate when, in October 1939, he personally consecrated 12 bishops from missionary countries, among them an Indian, a Chinese, a Japanese, the first African bishop, and the first bishop of Madagascar.

Finally, one of his constant pastoral concerns was the promotion of the role of lay faithful so that the ecclesial community could avail itself of all available energies and resources. For this, too, the Church and the world are grateful to him.

Dear brothers and sisters, as we pray that the cause for the beatification of the Servant of God Pius XII may proceed happily, it is well to remember that sanctity was his ideal, an ideal he never missed proposing to everyone.

Because of this, he also encouraged the cause of beatification and canonization for persons belonging to different peoples, representing all walks of life, all roles and professions, and not forgetting women.

Indeed, it was Mary herself, our Lady of Salvation, that he indicated to mankind as the sign of sure hope, proclaiming the dogma of the Assumption in the Holy Year of 1950.

In this world today which, like then, is assailed by concerns and anxieties for its future, in this world where, perhaps more than before, the distancing of many from the truth and from virtue raises scenarios devoid of hope, Pius XII invites us to turn ourelves to Mary who was assumed to heavenly glory.

He invites us to invoke her trustingly, so that she may make us appreciate better the value of life on earth and help us look towards the true goal to which we are all destined: that eternal life which, Jesus assures us, he who listens and follows his Word already has.

At the end of the Mass, the Holy Father went down to the Vaticna Grottoes to pray at the tomb of Pius XII.

[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/9/2008 7:25 PM]
10/9/2008 8:53 PM
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Lovely Mass
Today's Mass for Pius XII was beautiful, made more so by the traditional Roman chasuble worn by Papa. His homily was overwhelmingly moving. I had hoped that he may announce today that Pius XII would be made a Blessed, but apparently one miracle is needed.

I'm glad that EWTN prolonged its broadcast to show Papa going down to the grottos to pray at Pius XII's tomb.

10/12/2008 4:34 PM
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Here is a translation of the Holy Father's homily today, which he delivered in four languages, starting and ending in Italian.

Dear brothers and sisters,

Four new saints are offered today for the veneration of the universal Church: Gaetano Errico, Maria Bernarda Bütler, Alfonsa of the Immaculate Conception, and Narcisa of Jesus (Martillo Morán).

The Liturgy presents us with the Gospel image of the guests invited to take part at a banquet dressed in wedding clothes. We find the image of the banquet even in the first Reading and in other pages of the Bible. It is a joyous image because the banquet is a wedding feast, the Alliance of love between God and his People.

Towards this alliance, the prophets of the Old Testament constantly oriented Israel's expectations. In an era marked by trials of every kind, when difficulties threatened to discourage the chosen people, the prophet Isaiah raised a reassuring voice: "On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines" (25,6).

God will put an end to the sorrow and shame of his people, who would finally be able to live happily in communion with him. God never abandons his people - that is why the prophet invites us to rejoice: "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!" (v 8).

If the first Reading exalts the faithfulness of God to his promise, the Gospel with the parable of the wedding banquet makes us reflect on the human response.

Some who had been invited first refused the invitation because they were drawn by other interests; others even scorned the invitation of the king, which provoked a punishment not only upon them but on the whole city.

But the king was not discouraged and sent his servants to find other guests to fill the banquet hall. Thus, the refusal by those first invited resulted in the extension of the invitation to everyone, with special favor for the poor and the disinherited.

This is what happened with the Paschal mystery: the excessive power of evil defeated by the omnipotence of God's love. The risen Lord could henceforth invite everyone to the banquet of paschal joy, providing the wedding garments himself to the guests, a symbol of the free gift of his sanctifying grace.

But to God's generosity, man should respond with free adherence. This is the generous way that was taken by the saints we venerate today. In baptism, they received the wedding garment of divine grace - they kept it pure and and made them splendid in the course of their lives through the Sacraments.

Now, they are taking part in the nuptial banquet in heaven. That celestial banquet is a foretaste of the banquet of the Eucharist, to which the Lord invites us everyday and in which we should take part with the wedding garment of his grace.

If we happen to soil or even tear up these garments through sin, the goodness of God does not reject us nor abandon us to our own destiny, but offers us, in the sacrament of Reconciliation, the chance to restore integrity to the wedding garment that is needed for the feast.

The ministry of Reconciliation is thus one that is always relevant. And it was to this that the priest Gaetano Errico, founder of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, dedicated himself with diligence, assiduousness and patience, without sparing himself.

He thus belongs among extraordinary figures of priests who tirelessly made the confessional the place for dispensing the mercy of God, helping men to find themselves again, to fight against sin and to progress in their spiritual life.

The street and the confessional were the chosen venues for this new saint's pastoral activity. The streets allowed him to meet people to whom he addressed his customary invitation: "God loves you. When can we see each other?" And in the confessional, he made it possible for them to encounter the mercy of the heavenly Father.

How many wounded souls he healed in that way! How many people he brought to reconciling with God through the Sacrament of forgiveness! Thus St. Gaetano Errico became an expert in the 'science' of forgiveness, and occupied himself in teaching it to his missionaries, whom he admonished: "God, who does not wish the death of sinners, is always more merciful than his ministers. Therefore be merciful as much as you can be so that you may find mercy with God."

He eulogized the next saint in German:

Maria Bernarda Bütler, who was born in Auw, in the Swiss canton of Aargau, had an early experience of the Lord's deep love, and as she said, "it is almost impossible to explain this to others who have not felt it themselves".

This love led Verena Bütler to enter the Capuchin monastery of Mariahilf (Mary's Help) in Altstätten, where at 21, she made her vows. At 40, she began her missionary vocation and headed to Ecuador, then to Colombia. Because of her life and dedication to her fellowmen, my venerated predecessor John Paul II raised her as a Blessed One to the honor of the altar on October 29, 1995.

He continued in Spanish:

Mother Maria Bernarda, a figure who is much remembered and particularly loved in Colombia, understood very well that the feast the Lord has prepared for all peoples is represented very specially in the Eucharist. In it, Christ himself receives us as friends and gives himself to us at the meal of Bread and the Word, entering into intimate communion with each of us.

This is the source and the pillar of spirituality of this new saint, and of her missionary impulse which led her to leave her native Switzerland to open new missionary horizons in Ecuador and Colombia. In the serious adversities that she had to overcome, including exile, she carried in her heart the exclamation in the Psalm we heard today: "Even when I walk through a dark valley, I fear no harm for you are at my side" (Ps 22[23],4).

In this way, obedient to the Word of God in the example of Mary, she did as those servants which the Gospel we heard speaks of: she went where she could to proclaim that the Lord invites everyone to his feast. So she made others take part in the love of God to which she dedicated her life with happiness and joy.

He spoke next in English:

"He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces" (Is 25:8). These words of the prophet Isaiah contain the promise which sustained Alphonsa of the Immaculate Conception through a life of extreme physical and spiritual suffering.

This exceptional woman, who today is offered to the people of India as their first canonized saint, was convinced that her cross was the very means of reaching the heavenly banquet prepared for her by the Father.

By accepting the invitation to the wedding feast, and by adorning herself with the garment of God’s grace through prayer and penance, she conformed her life to Christ’s and now delights in the "rich fare and choice wines" of the heavenly kingdom (cf. Is 25:6).

She wrote, "I consider a day without suffering as a day lost". May we imitate her in shouldering our own crosses so as to join her one day in Paradise.

He spoke again in Spanish about the fourth new saint:

The young Ecuadorian laywoman Narcisa de Jesús Martillo Morán offers us a perfect example of the prompt and generous response to the invitation the Lord makes to participate in his love. From an early age, upon receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, she felt in her heart the call to live a life of sanctity and dedication to God.

In order to follow obediently the action of the Holy Spirit in her soul, she always sought the counsel and guidance of good and knowledgeable priests, considering spiritual direction as one of the most effective ways to achieve holiness.

St. Narcisa de Jesus shows us a way of perfection that is attainable by all the faithful. In spite of the abundant and extraordinary graces she received, she lived her life with great simplicity, dedicated to her work as a seamstress and her apostolate as a catechist.

In her passionate love for Jesus, which led her to follow a path of intense prayer and mortification, and of identifying herself ever more with the mystery of the Cross, she offers us an attractive testimony and a perfect example of a life totally dedicated to God and our fellowmen.

He concluded the homily in Italian:

Dear brothers and sisters, let is give thanks to the Lord for the gift of sanctity which shines forth today with singular beauty in the Church. Jesus invites each of us to follow him, as these saints did, in the way of the Cross, in order to have afterwards the legacy of eternal life which he gave to us in dying.

May their examples be an encouragement, may their teachings orient and comfort us, may their intercession sustain us in our daily efforts, so that we too may one day share with them and all the saints the joy of the eternal banquet in the heavenly Jerusalem.

May this grace be obtained for us above all by Mary, the Queen of saints, whom we venerate with special devotion in this month of October. Amen.

10/17/2008 3:06 AM
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October 13, 2008

Here is a translation of the Holy Father's words after the concert. He began and ended in Italian, with German in between:

Eminent cardinals.
Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and priesthood,
dear brothers and sisters:

The concert tonight is among the various initiatives on the calendar for the special Pauline Year jubilee, and held in the evocative setting of the Basilica of St. Paul outside the Walls, where a few days ago, we solemnly inaugurated the ordinary General Assembly of the Bishops' Synod.

My greetings and heartfelt gratitude go naturally to those who promoted and organized such a high-level musical event for this beautiful evening.

First, I must thank the Fondazione Pro Musica e Arte Sacra, which has become known for its multiple initiatives. And I also greet and thank the members of the Vienna Philharmonic who have offered us a masterful performance of the Sixth Symphony of Anton Bruckner, a work permeated with religiosity and profound mysticism.

He said the following in German:

With grateful joy I greet the Vienna Philharmonic which has, today under the direction of Christoph Eschenbach, for the seventh time in the history of the International Festival of Sacred Music and Art, gifted its audience with special happiness.

Dear friends, you have succeeded once again, as always, with your professionalism and artistic knowledge, to touch the hearts of your listeners, and, in bringing them Bruckner's wonderful music, to make all the chords of human sensitivity vibrate.

With your musical talent, you are able to take your listeners away from the human towards the divine. And for this, I say to you all, 'Vergelt's Gott' ["God will reward you', a Bavarian form of saying 'Thank you'.]

He resumed in Italian:
Bruckner's sixth symphony translated the faith of the composer, who was able to transmit a religious vision of life and history in his compositions.

Anton Bruckner, drawing from the Austrian Baroque and the Schubertian tradition of popular song, brought to its extreme consequences, we might say, the Romantic process of interiorization.

Listening to this famous composition in the Basilica dedicated to St. Paul, one spontaneously thinks of a passage in the first Letter to the Corinthians, in which the Apostle, after speaking of the diversity and unity of charisms, likens the Church to the human body, which is composed of many members, very different from each other, but all indispensable for proper functioning (cfr Chap. 12).

Likewise, an orchestra, or a choir, made up of different instruments and voices in accord, offers music that is pleasing both to the ear as well as to the spirit

Dear brothers and sisters, let us meditate on this teaching, which we see confirmed in the splendid musical executionn that we just heard.

I greet you all with affection, with a special thought to the Synodal fathers and other personalities present.

Finally, a fraternal greeting to Cardinal Cordero Lanza di Montezemolo, Arch-Priest of this papal Basilica, who has once again welcomed us with such warmth.

I wish to thank him and all who work with him, for the diffefent religious and cultural manifestations programmed for the current Pauline Year.

May this Roman Basilica, which guards the mortal remains of the Apostle to the Gentiles, be a true fulcrum for liturgical, spiritual and artistic initiatives aimed at rediscovering missionary work and theological thinking.

Invoking the intercession of this illustrious saint and the maternal protection of Mary, Queen of Apostles, I impart the Apostolic Blessing from the heart to all present and to their loved ones.
10/17/2008 3:08 AM
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To translate from French
10/17/2008 3:09 AM
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To translate from Spanish
10/17/2008 4:52 AM
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Here is a translation from Italian of the Holy Father's address at the Sala Clementina.

Eminent Cardinals,
Venerated brothers in the Episcopate and priesthood,
distinguished ladies and gentlemen!

I am happy to meet you on the occasion of this Congress opportunely promoted on the tenth anniversary of the Encyclical Fides et ratio.

Above all, I thank Mons. Rino Fisichella for the kind words that he addressed to me to introduce our meeting today.

I am happy that in these days of study by your Congress, you have the collaboration of the Lateran University, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the World Conference of Philosophy Institutions of Catholic Universities.

Such a collaboration is always auspicious, above all when one is called to give a reason for one's faith before the ever more complex challenges that involve believers in the contemporary world.

At a distance of ten years, a careful look at the encyclical Fides et ratio allows us to grasp its lasting relevance: it shows the far-reaching profundity of my unforgettable predecessor.

The encyclical, in effect, is characterized by its great openness to reason, at a time when its weakness was theorized.

Instead, John Paul II underscores the importance of joining faith and reason in a reciprocal relationship while respecting the sphere of autonomy that is proper to each of them.

With this teaching, the Church made itself the interpreter of an emerging exigency born of the actual cultural context. It defended the power of reason and its capacity to reach the truth, while presenting the faith once again as a particular form of knowledge, thanks to which we can be open to the truth of Revelation (cfr Fides et ratio, 13).

The encyclical says that one must have confidence in the capacity of human reason and not to set too modest goals: "It is faith which provokes reason to come out of every isolation and to gladly risk itself for everything that is beautiful, good and true. Thus faith becomes a convinced and convincing advocate of reason" (No, 56).

The passing of time, moreover, shows how many goalposts reason - moved by passion for the truth - has been able to reach.

Who can deny the contribution that the great philosophical systems have brought to the development of man's consciousness of himself and to the progress of various cultures?

Cultures become fecund when they open up to the truth, allowing those who are part of it to reach objectives that make social living ever more human.

The search for truth bears its fruits above all when it is sustained by love for the truth. Augustine wrote: "What one possesses with the mind, one has by knowing it, but no good can be perfectly known unless one loves perfectly" (De diversis quaestionibus 35,2).

Nonetheless we cannot hide from ourselves that there has been a shift from thinking that was prevalently speculative to one that is largely experimental. Research has turned itself above all to observing nature in the attempt to discover its secrets.

The desire to know nature was then transformed into wanting to reproduce it. This change has not been without pain: the evolution of concepts has affected the relationship between faith and reason, leading each to follow different paths.

Scientific and technological conquests, which have increasingly provoked a confrontation between faith and reason, have modified the old concept of ratio - in any case, it has marginalized reason which searches for the ultimate truth of things, to make way for reason aimed at discovering the contingent truth of the laws of nature.

Scientific research certainly has its positive value. The discoveries and the increments in the mathematical, physical and chemical sciences, and their applications, are a fruit of reason, and express the intelligence with which man has succeeded to penetrate the profundity of creation.

Faith, for its part, does not fear the progress of science nor the developments to which its conquests lead - when these are ultimately aimed at man and his wellbeing, and the progress of all mankind.

As the unknown author of the Letter to Diognetes wrote: "It is not the tree of science that kills, but disobedience. There is no life without science, nor is there certain science without true life" (XII, 2,4).

Nevertheless, it does happen that scientists do not always address their research to such purposes. Easy profit, or even worse, the arrogance of substituting oneself for the Creator, often has a determining role.

This is a form of hubris of reason, which could take on characteristics that are dangerous for mankind. For one thing, science is not qualified to elaborate ethical principles - it can only take them in and acknowledge them out of the need to overcome
their eventual pathologies.

Philosophy and theology become, in this context, indispensable aids one must use to avoid that science proceeds by itself along a tortuous path, full of unforeseeables and not devoid of risks. This does not mean limiting scientific research and preventing technology from producing tools for development.

Rather, it means keeping vigilant the sense of responsibility which reason and faith have with respect to science so that it may always stay within the furrow of service to man.

St. Augustine's lesson is always heavy with meaning even in the present context: "What can he come to," asks the sainted Bishop of Hippo, "who knows how to use reason well if not the truth? It is not truth which arrives at itself by reasoning, but it is truth that is searched for by those who use reason... Confess that it is not you who is the truth because truth does not seek itself; but you have reached, it not going from one place to the next, but looking for it with the disposition of the mind" (De vera religione, 39,72).

It is to say: from whatever part comes the search for truth, this remains as a given which is offered and can be recognized, already present in nature. The intelligibility of creation, in fact, is not a fruit of the scientist's efforts, but a condition offered to him to allow him to discover the truth that is present in it.

"Reason does not create this truth," St. Augustine continues in his reflection, "but discovers it. Truths subsist in themselves before they can be discovered, and once discovered, renew themselves" Ibid., 39,73). In short, reason must complete its course in full, strong in its autonomy and its rich tradition of thought.

Reason also senses and discovers that beyond what it has already reached and conquered, there is a truth which can never be discovered coming from itself, but only received as a free gift.

The truth of Revelation does not superimpose itself on that which reason reaches - rather, it purifies reason and exalts it, allowing it to extend its own spaces in order to enter a field of research as unfathomable as mystery itself.

Revealed truth, in the 'fullness of time' (Gal 4,4), took on the face of a person, Jesus of Nazareth, who carries the last and definitive answer to everyman's question about the sense of life.

Christ's truth, insofar as it touches every man in search of joy, happiness, and sense, bypasses by far every other truth that reason can find. It is in mystery, therefore, that faith and reason find the real possibility of a common course.

In these days, the Bishops' Synod on "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church" is going on, How can we not see the providential coincidence of this time with your Congress.

The passion for truth urges us to re-enter ourselves in order for the interior man to grasp the profound sense of life. A true philosophy should lead each person by the hand and make him discover how fundamental it is for his own dignity to know the truth of Revelation.

Before this exigency of sense that will find no respite until it arrives at Jesus Christ, the Word of God reveals its character as the definitive answer. A Word of Revelation that becomes life and which asks to be heard as an inexhaustible spring of truth.

While I wish each of you may always feel this passion for the truth, and to do what is in your power to satisfy its demands, I wish to assure you that I follow your work with appreciation and sympathy, and accompany your searching with my prayers.

In the name of these sentiments, I gladly impart to all here present and to your loved ones the Apostolic Blessing.

10/19/2008 4:52 AM
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October 16, 2008

Here is a translation of the Message for World Food Day sent by the Holy Father to the Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, M. Jacques Diouf. the text was in French.

To His Excellency
Monsieur Jacques Diouf
Director General of the
Food and Agricultural Organization

The theme chosen this year for World Food Day, "World food security: The challenges of climate change and bio-energies", allows a refleciton on what has been realized in the battle agrainst hunger and the obstacles to the activities of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Oganization (FAO) in the face of new challenges that threaten the human family.

This Day is observed at a particularly difficult time for the world nutritional situation, when the availability of food seems insufficient with regard to its consumption, and when climateic conditions contribute to endanger the survival of millions of men, women and children, who are forced to abandon their homelands in search of something to eat.

These circumstances imply that together with FAO, everyone should reply in terms of solidarity, in acts that are free of all conditioning and truly at the service of the common good.

Last June, a high-level conference was the occasion for FAO to remind the international community of its direct responsibilities in the face of food insecurity at a time when the forms of basic aid for emergency situations risk becoming sverely limited.

In the message that I address to the participants then, I had referred to the necessity to adopt "courageous measures, which will not capitulate in the face of hunger and malnutrition as though these were simply endemic phenomena without solutions" (Mesage to the High-Level Conference on World Food Securitym June 2, 2008).

The first commitment is to eliminate the reasons with prevent an authentic respect for the dignity of the human being. The means and the resources that the world has at its disposal today can procure enough food to satisfy the growing need of everyone.

The first results of efforts to increase the global levels of food production in view of the shortfalls registered in recent harvests show this is so. Then, why is it not possible to avoid that so many people suffer from hunger with the most extreme consequences?

The reasons for this situation where abundance and scarcity often co-exist are numerous. One can mention the race in consumption which has not stopped despite decreased availability of food products which imposes fored reductions in the nutritional capabilities of the poorest regions on the planet; or the lack of a resolute will to conclude negotiations and rein in the selfishness of states and groups of nations; or to put an end to this 'frenzied speculation' which affects the mechanisms of price and consumption.

The absence of a correct administration of food resources caused by corruption in public life or growing ivnestment in armes and sophisticated military techonologies to the detriment of the prinary needs of man also plays a large role.

These very different reasons have their origin in a false sense of values on which international relations must be based, particularly this widespread attide in contemporary culture which favors only the race for material goods, foregetting the true nature of the human being and his most profound aspirations.

The result is, unfortunately, the inability of many to take charge of the needs of the poor and to understand them, thus denying their inalienable dignity.

An effective cmapaign against hunger reqauires much more than a simple scientific study to face climate change or to give priority to agricultural production of food products.

It is necessary, above all, to rediscover a sense of the human person, in his individual and communitarian dimensions, beginning with the establishment of family life, the source of love and affection which gives rise to a sense of solidairty and sharing.

This framework responds to the need to construct relations among peoples bases on constant and authentic availability, to make its counjtry capable of satisfying the needs of those who are in need, but also to trasnmit the idea of relations based on reciprocal knowledge, shared values, rapid assistance and respect.

This involves a commitment towards the promotion of a social jsutice that is effective in relationships among peoples, which asks of each one to be aware that the assets of Creation are destined for everyone, and that in the world community, economic life should be oriented to sharing such assets, to their long usesage and the just redistribution of the benefits that derive from them.

In the changing context of international relations, where unvertainties seem to grow and one sees new challenges emerging, the experience acquried by FAO up to now - with that of other institutions involved in teh battle against hunger - can play a fundamental role to promote a new ay of undertsanding itenrational cooperation.

An essential condition for imcreasing production levels, to guarantee the identity of indigenous communities, as well as peace and security in the world, is to guarantee access to the land, favoring agricultural laborers and promoting their rights.

In all these foorts, the Catholic Church is near you, as witness the attention with which the Holy See has followed the ctivities of teh FAAO since 1948, constantly supporting your efforts, so that you may continue your commitment for the cause of man.

This concretely means opening to life, respect for the order of Creation, and adherecen to ethical principles which have always been the basis for social life.

With these wishes, I invoke the blessing of the Most High on you, Mr. Director-General, and all the representatives of nations, so that you may work with generosity and a sense of justice towards the persons who are abandoned.

From the Vatican
October 13, 2008

10/26/2008 3:54 PM
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10/26/2008 3:55 PM
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Here is a translation:

Dear brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
dear brothers and sisters!

The Word of the Lord, which we just heard in the Gospel, reminds us that love summarizes all of divine law.

The evangelist Matthew recounts that the Pharisees, after Jesus had responded to the Sadducees by silencing them, assembled to put him to the test (cfr 22,34-35).

One of them, a doctor of the law, asked him: "Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?"

The question shows the preoccupation in ancient Jewish tradition to find a unifying principle for the various formulations of the will of God. It was not an easy question, considering that the Mosaic law contains 613 precepts and prohibitions.

How then to discern in all these what was the greatest? But Jesus had no hesitation and answered promptly: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment" (v 37-38).

In his answer, Jesus quotes the Shema, the prayer that the pious Jew recites several times a day, especially in the morning and in the evening (cfr Dt 6,4-9; 11,13-21; Nm 15,37-41): the proclamation of the integral and total love that is owed to God as the only Lord.

The accent is on the totality of this dedication to God, listing the three faculties that define man in his profoundest psychological structures - heart, soul and mind.

The term 'mind' - diánoia - contains the rational element. God is not only the object of love, of commitment, of willingness and of sentiment, but also of the intellect, which cannot be excluded even in this matter. Indeed, our mind must confirm itself to the thought of God.

Then, Jesus adds something which was actually not asked by the doctor of the law: "The second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself" (v. 39).

The surprising aspect of Jesus's answer was that he established a relation of similarity between the first and second commandments, which was also defined by a Biblical formulation derived from the Levitical code of holiness (cfr Lv 19,18).

And then at the end of his answer, Jesus associates both commandments together as the principal fulcrum on which the entire Biblical Revelation rests: "The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments" (v. 40),

The Gospel page on which we are meditating brings to light that to be a disciple of Christ is to put his teachings into practice, teachings which are summarized in the first and greatest commandment of divine law, the commandment of love.

Even the first Reading, taken from the book of Exodus, emphasizes the duty of love - a love that is concretely shown in the relationship among persons - a relationship of love, collaboration, and generous help.

The neighbor to be helped is also the stranger, the orphan, the widow and the indigent, all those citizens who have no 'defender'.

The sacred author goes into specific details, such as an object entrusted to one of these poor persons (cfr Ex 20,25-26). In this case, it was God himself who acted as guarantor for this neighbor.

In the second Reading, we can see a concrete application of the supreme commandment of love in one of the first Christian communities. St. Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, letting them understand that, even if he had not known them long, he valued them and carried them with affection in his heart.

He asks them to be "a model for all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Thes 1,6-7). The community, which had recently been established, was not lacking in weaknesses and difficulties, but love overcomes, renews and conquers everything: the love of those who, conscious of their own limitations, obediently follow the words of Christ, the divine Teacher, transmitted through one of his faithful disciples.

"You became imitators of us and of the Lord," St. Paul wrote, "receiving the word in great affliction". "From you," he continues, "the word of the Lord has sounded forth not only in Macedonia and in Achaia, but in every place your faith in God has gone forth" (1 Ts 1,6.8).

The teaching that we get from this experience of the Thessalonians - an experience that is common to every Christian community - is that love for one's neighbor arises from obediently listening to the divine Word.

It is a love that accepts even difficult trials for the truth of the divine Word - and that is how true love grows, how the truth shines in all its splendor. How important it is, therefore, to listen to the Word and to embody it in our personal and communitarian life!

In this Eucharistic celebration, which closes the Synodal work, we note particularly the link that exists between loving attention to the Word of God and disinterested service to our brothers.

How many times, in the past several days, we heard experiences and reflections which prove the emerging need today for a more intimate listening to God, for a truer knowledge of his word of salvation; for a more sincere sharing of the faith which feeds itself constantly at the table of the divine Word.

Dear and venerated brothers, thank you for the contributions that each of you has offered to a deeper examination of the Synod theme, "The Word of God in the life and mission of the Church". I greet all of you with affection.

I address a special greeting to the Cardinal president-delegates of the Synod and the Secretary-General for their constant dedication.

I greet you, brothers and sisters, who have come from all the continents to bring us your enriching experiences. Returning home, please convey to all the affectionate greeting of the Bishop of Rome.

I greet the fraternal delegates, the experts, auditors and special guests, as well as the members of the Synod Secretariat and those who were responsible for relations with the media.

I address a special thought to the bishops of mainland China who could not be represented in this Synodal assembly. I wish to be their spokesman and give thanks to God for their love of Christ, for their communion with the universal Church and for their loyalty to the Successor of Peter.

They are present in our prayers, along with all the faithful entrusted to their pastoral care. Let us ask the 'Supreme Shepherd of the flock' (1 Pt 5,6) to give them joy, strength and apostolic zeal to guide with wisdom and farsightedness the Catholic community in China who are very dear to all of us.

All of us who took part in the work of the Synod carry with us a renewed awareness that the priority task of the Church at the start of this new millennium, is above all to nourish itself with the Word of God, in order to make effective our commitment to a new evangelization, to announcing the Gospel in our time.

This ecclesial experience must now be brought to every community. It is necessary that we understand the need to translate to acts of love the word we have heard, because only then can the announcement of the Gospel be credible, notwithstanding the human frailties that mark us. This requires in the first place a more intimate knowledge of Christ and an ever more obedient attention to his word.

During this Pauline Year, adopting the words of the Apostle, "Woe on me if I do not preach the Gospel" (1 Cor 9,16), I wish with all my heart that this desire of Paul may be heard in each community with ever firmer conviction, as a call for Gospel service to the world.

At the start of the Synodal sessions, I recalled the words of Jesus, "The harvest is great" [but the laborers are few] (Mt 9, 37) - an appeal which we must never tire of responding to, despite the difficulties we may encounter.

So many people are in search, perhaps even without knowing it, of an encounter with Christ and his Gospel. So many need to find in him the sense of their life.

To give a clear and shared testimony of a life lived according to the Word of God, attested by Jesus, thus becomes the indispensable criterion to validate the mission of the Church.

The readings that the liturgy offers today for our meditation remind us that the fullness of the Law, as of all divine Scriptures, is love. Thus, whoever believes he has understood Scriptures, or at least a part of it - but without committing himself to build, through one's intelligence, the double love for God and neighbor - actually shows himself to be far from having heard its profound sense.

But how do we put this commandment into practice? How can we live the love of God and our brothers without a living and intense contact with Sacred Scriptures? The Second Vatican Council states "it is necessary that the faithful have wide access to Sacred Scripture" (Dei Verbum, 22), so that in encountering the truth, they may grow in authentic love.

This is an indispensable requirement today for evangelization. And because not rarely, an encounter with Scripture risks not being 'a fact' of the Church, but is exposed to subjectivism and arbitrariness, a robust and credible pastoral promotion of Scriptural knowledge becomes indispensable in announcing, celebrating and living the Word within the Christian community, in dialog with the cultures of our time, at the service of truth and not of current ideologies, increasing the dialog that God wants to have wit4h all men (cfr ibid., 21).

To this end, special attention must be given to the preparation of pastors for the necessary activities of spreading Biblical practice with timely assistance. Present efforts to encourage the Biblical movement among laymen, for the formation of group leaders, with particular attention to young people, must be encouraged.

Likewise to be supported is the effort to make the faith known through the Word of God even to those who are 'far' from us, especially those who are in sincere search for the sense of life.

There are many other reflections that could be added, but I will limit myself finally to underscore that the privileged place for the Word of God which builds the Church, as stated many times during the assembly, is without doubt, in liturgy.

Liturgy shows that the Bible is a book of a people for a people: a legacy, a testament handed down to its readers, so that they may actualize in their life the story of salvation that the writings bear witness to.

That is why there is a relationship of vital reciprocal belonging between people and Book. The Bible remains a living Book among the people who read it - and who are its subject. The People do not subsist without the Book, because they find in it the reason for being, their vocation, their identity.

This mutual belonging between people and Sacred Scripture is celebrated in every liturgical assembly, which, thanks to the Holy Spirit, listens to Christ, because it is he who speaks when Scripture is read in church, when we welcome the alliance that God renews with his people.

Scripture and liturgy converge, therefore, in the single end of bringing the people into dialog with the Lord and to obedience to his will. The Word coming from the mouth of God and testified to in Scriptures returns to him in the form of a praying response, of a lived response, of a response overflowing with love (cfr Is 55,10-11).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray so that in renewed attention to the Word of God, under the action of the Holy Spirit, there may come forth an authentic renewal of the universal Church and of every Christian community.

Let us entrust the fruits of this Synodal assembly to the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary.

I also entrust to her the II Special Assembly of the Synod for Africa which will take place in Rome next October.

It is my intention to go to Cameroon in March in order to present to the representatives of the bishops' conferences of Africa the Instrumentum laboris for that special assembly.

From there, God willing, I will proceed to Angola for the solemn celebration of the 500th anniversary of that country's evangelization.

Most Blessed Mary, who offered your life as a 'handmaid of the Lord' so that everything could be fulfilled according to divine wishes (cfr Lk 1,38), teach us to recognize in our life the primacy of the Word which alone can save us. Amen!
[Edited by TERESA BENEDETTA 10/26/2008 3:55 PM]
10/27/2008 7:37 PM
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Here is the text of the Holy Father's address today after receving the credentials of the new Ambassador from the Philippines to the Holy See, Madame Cristina Castaner Ponce-Enrile.

Madam Ambassador,

I am pleased to receive you today as you present the Letters of Credence accrediting you as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Republic of the Philippines to the Holy See.

I reciprocate the warm greetings which you have graciously extended to me on behalf of Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, and I would ask you to convey my own best wishes for her well-being and that of all your fellow citizens.

The Filipino people are renowned for their warm generosity and the high value they place on friendship and family life. The Catholic faithful in your country - through their hunger for prayer, their lively devotion, and their eagerness to serve others - demonstrate a firm trust in God’s loving providence.

I am grateful for the unique contribution they have made and continue to make to the life of the local and universal Church, and I encourage all men and women of goodwill in your nation to devote themselves to forging bonds of peace and social harmony within your borders and across the globe.

For its part, and in a special way through its diplomatic activity, the Holy See seeks to engage the world in dialogue so as to promote the universal values that flow from human dignity and advance mankind on the road to communion with God and one another.

The Catholic Church is eager to share the richness of the Gospel’s social message, for it enlivens hearts with a hope for the fulfilment of justice and a love that makes all men and women truly brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus. She carries out this mission fully aware of the respective autonomy and competence of Church and State.

Indeed, we may say that the distinction between religion and politics is a specific achievement of Christianity and one of its fundamental historical and cultural contributions. The Church is equally convinced that State and religion are called to support each other as they together serve the personal and social well-being of all (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 76).

This harmonious cooperation between Church and State requires ecclesial and civic leaders to carry out their public duties with undaunted concern for the common good.

By cultivating a spirit of honesty and impartiality, and by keeping justice their aim, civil and ecclesial leaders earn the trust of the people and enhance a sense of the shared responsibility of all citizens to promote a civilization of love.

All should be motivated by the desire to serve rather than to gain personally or to benefit a privileged few. Everyone shares in the task of strengthening public institutions so as to safeguard them from the corruption of factionalism and elitism.

In this regard, it is encouraging to see the many initiatives undertaken at various levels of Filipino society to protect the weak, especially the unborn, the sick and the elderly.

Your Excellency, I appreciate the concern you have expressed on behalf of your Government for the well-being of Filipino migrant workers.

Indeed, the Meeting of the Global Forum on Migration and Development hosted in Manila clearly attests to the Philippines’ solicitude for all who leave their homeland in search of employment in a foreign land. Initiatives such as the Global Forum are fruitful when they recognize immigration as a resource for development rather than as an obstacle to it.

At the same time, government leaders face numerous challenges as they strive to ensure that immigrants are integrated into society in a way that acknowledges their human dignity and affords them the opportunity to earn a decent living, with adequate time for rest and a due provision for worship.

The just care of immigrants and the building up of a solidarity of labour (cf. Laborem Exercens, 8) requires governments, humanitarian agencies, peoples of faith and all citizens to cooperate with prudence and patient determination.

Domestic and international policies aimed at regulating immigration must be based on criteria of equity and balance, and particular care is needed to facilitate the reunification of families. At the same time, conditions that foster increased work opportunities in peoples’ places of origin are to be promoted as far as possible (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 66).

In this regard, Madam Ambassador, the leaders of your nation have passed legislation for comprehensive land reform with the aim of improving the living conditions of the poor.

Carefully planned agrarian reforms can benefit a society by instilling a sense of common responsibility and stimulating individual initiative, making it possible for a nation both to feed its own and expand its participation in international markets so as to enhance opportunities for growth in the process of globalization.

I pray that by implementing measures that foster the just distribution of wealth and the sustainable development of natural resources, Filipino farmers will be granted greater opportunities for increasing production and earning what they need to support themselves and their families.

Your Excellency, it is encouraging to see that your nation will continue to participate actively in international forums for the advancement of peace, human solidarity and interreligious dialogue. You have indicated how these noble goals are intimately related to human development and social reform.

In light of the Gospel, the Catholic Church has always been convinced that the transition from less humane to more humane conditions is not limited to merely economic or technological dimensions, but implies for each person the acquisition of culture, respect for the life and dignity of others, and acknowledgment of "the highest good, the recognition of God Himself, the author and end of these blessings" (Populorum Progressio, 21).

I am confident that the Republic of the Philippines will continue to offer this holistic vision of the human person in world forums, and I join all Filipinos in praying that the peace of God may reign in the hearts and homes of all people.

Madam Ambassador, your presence here today is a pledge that the bonds of friendship and cooperation between your nation and the Holy See will continue to grow stronger in the years ahead. I assure you that the various agencies and dicasteries of the Roman Curia will always be ready to assist you in fulfilling your duties.

Offering you my best wishes and prayers for the success of your mission, I invoke the blessings of Almighty God upon Your Excellency, your family and the beloved people of the Philippines.

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