The Holy See
back up
Search
riga

 Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People

People on the Move

N° 106, April 2008

 

 

PAROLA DEL SANTO PADRE

FROM THE HOLY FATHER 

 

TE DEUM AND FIRST VESPERS OF THE SOLEMNITY OF MARY, MOTHER OF GOD 

I address my greeting to each one of you. In the first place, I greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Auxiliary Bishops, the priests and consecrated persons as well as all the lay faithful who are gathered here. I greet Mr Mayor and the Authorities present, and I extend my thoughts to the entire population of Rome and in a special way to all those in conditions of difficulty and hardship.

I assure them all of my cordial closeness, strengthened by constant remembrance in prayer. In this context, how can we fail to thank God for the precious pastoral service offered to the world by the Roman universities? It would be appropriate to start something similar in schools, despite the numerous difficulties.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 1 (2025), 2 January 2008, p. 2.

********************************************************************************

ANGELUS DOMINI, 1 GENNAIO 2008 

"Chi anche inconsapevolmente osteggia l’istituto familiare – osservo nel Messaggio per questa Giornata della Pace – rende fragile la pace nell’intera comunità, nazionale e internazionale, perché indebolisce quella che, di fatto, è la principale «agenzia» di pace" (n. 5). Ed inoltre, "non viviamo gli uni accanto agli altri per caso; stiamo tutti percorrendo uno stesso cammino come uomini e quindi come fratelli e sorelle" (n. 6).

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 2 (44.742), 2-3 Gennaio 2008, p. 7.

********************************************************************************

VISITA ALLA CASA “DONO DI MARIA” DELLE MISSIONARIE DELLA CARITÀ IN VATICANO 

Amava dire Madre Teresa: è Natale ogni volta che noi permettiamo a Gesù di amare gli altri attraverso di noi. Il Natale è mistero di amore, il mistero dell’Amore. Il tempo natalizio, ripresentando alla nostra contemplazione la nascita di Gesù a Betlemme, ci mostra l’infinita bontà di Dio che, facendosi Bambino, ha voluto venire incontro alla povertà e alla solitudine degli uomini; ha accettato di abitare tra noi condividendo le nostre quotidiane difficoltà; non ha esitato a portare insieme a noi il peso dell’esistenza, con le sue fatiche e le sue preoccupazioni. È nato per noi, per restare con noi ed offrire a chiunque gli apre la porta del proprio cuore il dono della sua gioia, della sua pace, del suo amore. Nascendo in una grotta, perché non c’era posto per Lui altrove, Gesù ha conosciuto i disagi che molti tra voi sperimentano. Il Natale ci aiuta a comprendere che Iddio non ci abbandona mai e sempre ci viene incontro, ci protegge e si preoccupa di ciascuno di noi, perché ogni persona, soprattutto la più piccola e indifesa, è preziosa ai suoi occhi di Padre ricco di tenerezza e misericordia. Per noi e per la nostra salvezza Egli ha inviato nel mondo il suo Figlio, che nel mistero del Natale contempliamo come l’Emanuele, Dio-con-noi. Con questi sentimenti rinnovo a tutti voi i miei più fervidi auguri per il nuovo anno appena iniziato assicurandovi il mio quotidiano ricordo nella preghiera. E mentre invoco la materna protezione di Maria, Madre di Cristo e nostra, a tutti dono con affetto la mia Benedizione.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 4 (44.744), 5 Gennaio 2008.  

********************************************************************************

OMELIA NELLA SOLENNITÀ DELLA EPIFANIA DEL SIGNORE


Con Gesù Cristo la benedizione di Abramo si è estesa a tutti i popoli, alla Chiesa universale come nuovo Israele che accoglie nel suo seno l’intera umanità. Anche oggi, tuttavia, resta in molti sensi  vero quanto diceva il profeta: “nebbia fitta avvolge le nazioni” e la nostra storia. Non si può dire infatti che la globalizzazione sia sinonimo di ordine mondiale, tutt’altro. I conflitti per la supremazia economica e l’accaparramento delle risorse energetiche, idriche e delle materie prime rendono difficile il lavoro di quanti, ad ogni livello, si sforzano di costruire un mondo giusto e solidale. C’è bisogno di una speranza più grande, che permetta di preferire il bene comune di tutti al lusso di pochi e alla miseria di molti. “Questa grande speranza  può essere solo Dio … non un qualsiasi dio, ma quel Dio che possiede un volto umano” (Enc. Spe salvi n. 31): il Dio che si è manifestato nel Bambino di Betlemme e nel Crocifisso-Risorto. Se c’è una grande speranza, si può perseverare nella sobrietà. Se manca la vera speranza, si cerca la felicità nell’ebbrezza, nel superfluo, negli eccessi, e si rovina se stessi e il mondo. La moderazione non è allora solo una regola ascetica, ma anche una via di salvezza per l’umanità. È ormai evidente che soltanto adottando uno stile di vita sobrio, accompagnato dal serio impegno per un’equa distribuzione delle ricchezze, sarà possibile instaurare un ordine di sviluppo giusto e sostenibile.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 6 (44.746), 7-8 Gennaio 2008, p. 8.  

*******************************************************************************

DISCOURS AU CORPS DIPLOMATIQUE ACCRÉDITÉ PRÈS LE SAINT-SIÈGE 

En Iraq aussi, la réconciliation est une urgence! Actuellement, les attentats terroristes, les menaces et les violences continuent, en particulier contre la communauté chrétienne, et les nouvelles qui sont parvenues hier confirment notre préoccupation; il est évident que le nœud de certaines questions politiques reste à trancher. Dans ce cadre, une réforme constitutionnelle appropriée devra sauvegarder les droits des minorités. D'importantes aides humanitaires sont nécessaires pour les populations touchées par la guerre; je pense en particulier aux déplacés à l'intérieur du pays et aux réfugiés à l'étranger, parmi lesquels se trouvent de nombreux chrétiens. J'invite la communauté internationale à se montrer généreuse envers eux et envers les pays où ils trouvent refuge, dont les capacités d'accueil sont mises à rude épreuve. Je désire aussi exprimer mon encouragement afin que l'on continue à poursuivre sans relâche la voie de la diplomatie pour résoudre la question du programme nucléaire iranien, en négociant de bonne foi, en adoptant des mesures destinées à augmenter la transparence et la confiance réciproques, et en tenant toujours compte des authentiques besoins des peuples et du bien commun de la famille humaine.

6. Me tournant maintenant vers l'Afrique, je voudrais en premier lieu redire ma profonde souffrance, en constatant combien l'espérance semble presque vaincue par le sinistre cortège de faim et de mort qui se poursuit au Darfour. Je souhaite de tout cœur que l'opération conjointe des Nations unies et de l'Union africaine, dont la mission vient juste de commencer, porte aide et réconfort aux populations éprouvées. Le processus de paix dans la République démocratique du Congo se heurte à de fortes résistances près des Grands Lacs, surtout dans les régions orientales, et la Somalie, en particulier Mogadiscio, continue à être affligée par les violences et la pauvreté. Je fais appel aux parties en conflit afin que cessent les opérations militaires, que soit facilité le passage de l'aide humanitaire et que les civils soient respectés. Le Kenya a connu ces jours derniers une brusque éruption de violence. M'associant à l'appel lancé par les Evêques le 2 janvier, j'invite tous les habitants, en particulier les responsables politiques, à rechercher par le dialogue une solution pacifique, fondée sur la justice et la fraternité. L'Eglise catholique n'est pas indifférente aux gémissements de douleur qui s'élèvent dans ces régions. Elle fait siennes les demandes d'aide des réfugiés et des déplacés et elle s'engage pour favoriser la réconciliation, la justice et la paix. Cette année, l'Ethiopie fête l'entrée dans le troisième millénaire chrétien, et je suis sûr que les célébrations organisées à cette occasion contribueront aussi à rappeler l’œuvre immense, sociale et apostolique, accomplie par les chrétiens en Afrique.

Même la liberté religieuse, «exigence inaliénable de la dignité de tout homme et pierre angulaire dans l'édifice des droits humains» (Message pour la Célébration de la Journée mondiale de la Paix 1988, Préambule), est souvent compromise. Il y a en effet bien des endroits où elle ne peut s'exercer pleinement. Le Saint-Siège la défend et en demande le respect pour tous. Il est préoccupé par les discriminations contre les chrétiens et contre les fidèles d'autres religions.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 6 (44.746), 7-8 Gennaio 2008, p. 4.  

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS TO THE MEMBERS OF THE REGIONAL BOARD OF LAZIO, THE MUNICIPAL COUNCIL OF ROME AND THE PROVINCE OF ROME FOR THE TRADITIONAL EXCHANGE OF NEW YEAR GREETINGS 

Another emergency that is becoming ever more acute is that of poverty: it is increasing above all in the great urban suburbs but is also beginning to be felt in other contexts and situations which seemed to be safe from it. The Church participates wholeheartedly in the effort to alleviate poverty. She willingly collaborates with civil institutions but the cost of life, especially the price of housing, the persistent pockets of unemployment and also the frequently inadequate salaries and pensions truly make the living conditions of numerous people and families difficult.

One tragic event, such as the killing of Giovanna Reggiani in Tor di Quinto has also brusquely confronted our citizens not only with the problem of security but also with the very serious degradation of certain Roman neighbourhoods:  here especially, constant and concrete interventions are required that go far beyond the emotion of the moment, which has the twofold and inseparable purpose of guaranteeing the safety of citizens and assuring everyone, particularly immigrants, of at least the minimum indispensable for an honest and dignified life. Through Caritas and many other voluntary associations, the Church, animated by lay people and men and women religious, is doing all she can also on this difficult front where the responsibilities and possibilities for the public Authorities' intervention are obviously indispensable.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 3 (2027), 16 January 2008, p. 3.  

********************************************************************************

DISCORSO AI DIRIGENTI E AL PERSONALE DELL’ISPETTORATO GENERALE DI PUBBLICA SICUREZZA PRESSO IL VATICANO 

Quanto numerosi sono i pellegrini che durante l’anno vi capita di incontrare! In ciascuno di essi vorrei invitarvi a vedere il volto di un fratello o di una sorella che Dio pone sulla vostra strada, una persona amica anche se sconosciuta da accogliere e aiutare con paziente ascolto, sapendo che tutti facciamo parte dell’unica grande famiglia umana. Non è forse vero, come ho scritto nel Messaggio sopra ricordato, che noi non viviamo gli uni accanto agli altri per caso?

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 10 (44.750), 12 Gennaio 2008.

********************************************************************************

ANGELUS DOMINI, 13 GENNAIO 2008

Si celebra oggi la Giornata Mondiale del Migrante e del Rifugiato, che quest'anno pone al centro dell'attenzione i giovani migranti. Numerosi sono infatti i giovani che vari motivi spingono a vivere lontani dalle loro famiglie e dai loro Paesi. Particolarmente a rischio sono le ragazze e i minori. Alcuni bambini e adolescenti sono nati e cresciuti in "campi-profughi": anch'essi hanno diritto ad un futuro! Esprimo il mio apprezzamento per quanti si impegnano in favore dei giovani migranti, delle loro famiglie e per la loro integrazione lavorativa e scolastica; invito le comunità ecclesiali ad accogliere con simpatia giovani e giovanissimi con i loro genitori, cercando di comprenderne le storie e di favorirne l'inserimento. Cari giovani migranti! Impegnatevi a costruire insieme ai vostri coetanei una società più giusta e fraterna, adempiendo i vostri doveri, rispettando le leggi e non lasciandovi mai trasportare dalla violenza. Vi affido tutti a Maria, Madre dell'intera umanità.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 12 (44.752), 14-15 Gennaio 2008.

*******************************************************************************

ANGELUS DOMINI, 13 JANVIER 2008

On célèbre aujourd'hui la Journée Mondiale du Migrant et du Réfugié qui, cette année, place les jeunes migrants au centre de l'attention. Nombreux sont en effet les jeunes qui sont poussés, pour différentes raisons, à vivre loin de leurs familles et de leurs pays. Les jeunes filles et les mineurs sont particulièrement à risque. Certains enfants et adolescents sont nés et ont grandi dans des "camps de réfugiés":  eux aussi ont droit à un avenir! Je félicite ceux qui s'engagent en faveur des jeunes migrants, de leurs familles, pour leur intégration dans le milieu du travail et de l'école; j'invite les communautés ecclésiales à accueillir avec sympathie les jeunes et les plus petits avec leurs parents, en cherchant à comprendre leur histoire et à favoriser leur insertion. Chers jeunes migrants! Engagez-vous à construire avec ceux de votre âge, une société plus juste et plus fraternelle, en accomplissant vos devoirs, en respectant la loi et en ne vous laissant jamais emporter par la violence. Je vous confie tous à Marie, Mère de l'humanité tout entière.

L’Osservatore Romano, (Edition Hebdomadaire en langue Française), N. 2 (3015), 15 Janvier 2008.

********************************************************************************

MESSAGE FOR THE SIXTEENTH WORLD DAY OF THE SICK 

The presence of many sick pilgrims at Lourdes, and of the volunteers who accompany them, helps us to reflect on the maternal and tender care that the Virgin expresses towards human pain and suffering. Associated with the Sacrifice of Christ, Mary, Mater Dolorosa, who at the foot of the Cross suffers with her divine Son, is felt to be especially near by the Christian community, which gathers around its suffering members who bear the signs of the passion of the Lord. Mary suffers with those who are in affliction, with them she hopes, and she is their comfort, supporting them with her maternal help. And is it not perhaps true that the spiritual experience of very many sick people leads us to understand increasingly that "the Divine Redeemer wishes to penetrate the soul of every sufferer through the heart of his holy Mother, the first and the most exalted of all the redeemed"? (John Paul II, Salvifici Doloris, n. 26).

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 5 (2029), 30 January 2008, p. 7.

********************************************************************************

DISCOURS AUX MEMBRES DE LA CONFÉRENCE DES ÉVÊQUES LATINS DANS LES RÉGIONS ARABES (C.E.L.R.A.) EN VISITE "AD LIMINA APOSTOLORUM"

La Conférence des Évêques latins dans les Régions arabes recouvre une grande diversité de situations. Le plus souvent, les fidèles, originaires de nombreux pays, sont regroupés en petites communautés, dans des sociétés composées majoritairement de croyants d’autres religions. Dites-leur combien le Pape est spirituellement proche d’eux et qu’il partage leurs inquiétudes et leurs espérances. À tous j’adresse mes vœux affectueux, afin qu’ils vivent dans la sérénité et dans la paix.

Il est compréhensible que les circonstances poussent parfois les chrétiens à quitter leur pays pour trouver une terre accueillante qui leur permette de vivre convenablement. Cependant, il faut encourager et  soutenir fermement ceux qui font le choix de demeurer fidèles à leur terre, afin qu’elle ne devienne pas un site archéologique privé de vie ecclésiale. En développant une vie fraternelle solide, ils trouveront un soutien dans leurs épreuves. J’apporte donc tout mon appui aux initiatives que vous prenez pour contribuer à la création de conditions socio-économiques qui aident les chrétiens restant dans leur pays et j’appelle l’Église tout entière à apporter un soutien vigoureux à ces efforts.

La rencontre des membres des autres religions, Juifs et Musulmans, est pour vous une réalité quotidienne. Dans vos pays, la qualité des relations entre les croyants prend une signification toute particulière, en étant à la fois témoignage rendu au Dieu unique et contribution à l’établissement de relations plus fraternelles entre les personnes et entre les différentes composantes de vos sociétés. Aussi, une meilleure connaissance réciproque est-elle nécessaire pour favoriser un respect toujours plus grand de la dignité humaine, l’égalité des droits et des devoirs des personnes et une attention renouvelée aux besoins de chacun, particulièrement des plus pauvres. Par ailleurs, je souhaite vivement qu’une authentique liberté religieuse soit partout effective et que les droits de chacun à pratiquer librement sa religion, ou à en changer, ne soient pas entravés. Il s’agit d’un droit primordial de tout être humain.

Enfin, je voudrais exprimer à nouveau ma proximité avec toutes les personnes qui, dans votre région, souffrent de multiples formes de violence. Vous pouvez compter sur la solidarité de l’Église universelle. J’en appelle aussi à la sagesse de tous les hommes de bonne volonté, en particulier de ceux qui ont des responsabilités dans la vie collective, afin qu’en privilégiant le dialogue entre toutes les parties, cesse la violence, s’instaure partout une paix véritable et durable, et s’établissent des relations de solidarité et de collaboration.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 16 (44.756), 19 Gennaio 2008.

********************************************************************************

ANGELUS DOMINI, 3 FEBRUARY 2008 

I invite you to join our brothers and sisters of Kenya - some of whom are here in St Peter's Square - in praying for reconciliation, justice and peace in their Country. As I assure them all of my closeness, I hope that the efforts for mediation now under way will succeed and, through the good will and cooperation of all, will lead to a rapid solution of the conflict which has already taken too heavy a toll of victims.

Wickedness, with its load of suffering, seems to know no limits in Iraq, as we learn from the tragic news in these days. I once again raise my voice on behalf of that harshly tried people and invoke God's peace for it.

I never cease to raise fervent prayers to God for Colombia where for a long time many sons and daughters of this beloved Country have suffered from extortion, kidnapping and the violent loss of their loved ones. I ask the Lord to end this inhuman suffering once and for all and that they may find paths of reconciliation, mutual respect and sincere harmony, thus restoring brotherhood and solidarity, the solid foundations necessary for just progress and the building of lasting peace.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 6 (2030), 6 February 2008.

********************************************************************************

AUDIENCE GÉNÉRALE, Mercredi des Cendres, 6 février 2008 

Ces derniers jours, je suis particulièrement proche des chères populations du Tchad, bouleversées par des luttes intestines, qui ont causé de nombreuses victimes, ainsi que la fuite de milliers de civils de la capitale. Je confie également à votre prière et à votre solidarité ces frères et sœurs qui souffrent, en demandant que leur soient épargnées des violences supplémentaires et que leur soit assurée l'assistance humanitaire nécessaire, tandis que j'adresse un appel fervent à déposer les armes et à parcourir la voie du dialogue et de la réconciliation.

L’Osservatore Romano, (Edition Hebdomadaire en langue Française) N. 6 (3019), 12 Février 2008, p. 12.  

********************************************************************************

INCONTRO CON I PARROCI E IL CLERO DELLA DIOCESI DI ROMA

Grazie per questo intervento. Lei sa bene che per l'ampiezza delle Sue domande ci sarebbe bisogno di un semestre di teologia! Cercherò di essere breve. Lei conosce la teologia, ci sono grandi maestri e tanti libri. Innanzitutto grazie per questa Sua testimonianza, perchè Lei si dice gioioso di poter lavorare a Roma anche se indiano. Per me questo è un fenomeno meraviglioso della cattolicità. Adesso non solo i missionari vanno dall'occidente negli altri continenti, ma c'è uno scambio di doni: indiani, africani, sudamericani lavorano da noi e i nostri vanno negli  altri continenti. È un dare e ricevere da tutte le parti; è proprio questa la vitalità della cattolicità, dove tutti siamo debitori dei doni del Signore, e poi possiamo donare l’uno all'altro. È in questa reciprocità dei doni, del dare e del ricevere, che vive la Chiesa cattolica. Voi potete imparare da questi ambienti e esperienze occidentali e noi non meno da voi. Vedo che proprio  questo spirito di religiosità che esiste in Asia, come in Africa, sorprende gli europei che sono spesso un po' freddi nella fede. E così questa vivacità, almeno dello spirito religioso che esiste in questi continenti, è un grande dono per tutti noi, soprattutto per noi Vescovi del mondo occidentale e in particolare di quei Paesi in cui più marcato è il fenomeno dell'immigrazione, dalle Filippine, dall'India, eccetera. Il nostro cattolicesimo freddo è ravvivato da questo fervore che viene da voi. Quindi la cattolicità è un grande dono.

Veniamo alle domande che Lei mi ha posto. Non ho davanti in questo momento le parole esatte del documento della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede da Lei richiamato; ma in ogni caso vorrei dire due cose. Da una parte, è assolutamente necessario il dialogo, conoscersi reciprocamente, rispettarsi e cercare di collaborare in tutti i modi possibili per i grandi scopi dell'umanità, o per i suoi grandi bisogni, per superare i fanatismi e creare uno spirito di pace e di amore. E questo è anche nello spirito del Vangelo, il cui senso è proprio che lo spirito di amore, che abbiamo imparato da Gesù, la pace di Gesù che Egli ci ha donato mediante la croce, diventi presente universalmente nel mondo. In questo senso il dialogo deve essere vero dialogo, nel  rispetto dell'altro e nell'accettazione della sua alterità; ma deve essere anche evangelico, nel senso che il suo scopo fondamentale è aiutare  gli uomini a vivere nell'amore e a far sì che questo amore si possa espandere  in tutte le parti del mondo.

Ma questa dimensione del dialogo, così necessaria, cioè quella del rispetto dell'altro,  della tolleranza, della cooperazione, non esclude l'altra, cioè che il Vangelo è un grande dono,  il dono del grande amore,  della grande verità, che non possiamo avere solo per noi stessi, ma che dobbiamo offrire agli altri, considerando che Dio dà loro la libertà e la luce necessaria per trovare la verità. È questa la verità. E quindi  questa è anche la mia strada. La missione non è imposizione, ma è un offrire il dono di Dio, lasciando alla Sua bontà di illuminare le persone affinché si estenda il dono dell'amicizia concreta con il Dio dal volto umano. Perciò vogliamo e dobbiamo sempre testimoniare questa fede e l'amore che vive nella nostra fede. Avremmo trascurato un dovere vero, umano e divino, se avessimo lasciato gli altri soli e se avessimo riservato la fede che abbiamo solo per noi. Saremmo infedeli anche a noi stessi, se non offrissimo questa fede al mondo, pur sempre rispettando la libertà degli altri. La presenza della fede nel mondo è un elemento positivo, anche se non si converte nessuno; è un punto di riferimento.

Mi hanno detto esponenti di religioni non cristiane: per noi la presenza del cristianesimo è un punto di riferimento che ci aiuta, anche se non ci convertiamo. Pensiamo alla grande figura del Mahatma Gandhi: pur essendo fermamente legato alla sua religione, per lui il Discorso della montagna era un punto fondamentale di riferimento, che ha formato tutta la sua vita. E così il fermento della fede, pur non convertendolo al cristianesimo, è entrato nella sua vita. E mi pare che questo fermento dell'amore cristiano che traspare dal Vangelo è — oltre al lavoro missionario che cerca di allargare gli spazi della fede — un servizio che rendiamo all'umanità.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 34 (44.774), 9 Febbraio 2008, p. 5.

********************************************************************************

DISCORSO AI PADRI DELLA CONGREGAZIONE GENERALE DELLA COMPAGNIA DI GESÙ

Allo stesso tempo vi incoraggio a continuare e a rinnovare la vostra missione fra i poveri e con i poveri. Non mancano purtroppo nuove cause di povertà e di emarginazione in un mondo segnato da gravi squilibri economici e ambientali, da processi di globalizzazione guidati dall’egoismo più che dalla solidarietà, da conflitti armati devastanti ed assurdi. Come ho avuto modo di ribadire ai Vescovi latinoamericani riuniti al Santuario di Aparecida, “la opzione preferenziale per i poveri è implicita nella fede cristologica in quel Dio che per noi si è fatto povero, per arricchirci con la sua povertà (2 Cor 8,9)”. È quindi naturale che chi vuol essere veramente compagno di Gesù, ne condivida realmente l’amore per i poveri. Per noi la scelta dei poveri non è ideologica, ma nasce dal Vangelo. Innumerevoli e drammatiche sono le situazioni di ingiustizia e di povertà nel mondo di oggi, e se bisogna impegnarsi a comprenderne e a combatterne le cause strutturali, occorre anche saper scendere a combattere fin nel cuore stesso dell’uomo le radici profonde del male, il peccato che lo separa da Dio, senza dimenticare di venire incontro ai bisogni più urgenti nello spirito della carità di Cristo. Raccogliendo e sviluppando una delle ultime lungimiranti intuizioni del Padre Arrupe, la vostra Compagnia continua a impegnarsi in modo meritorio nel servizio per i rifugiati, che spesso sono i più poveri fra i poveri e che hanno bisogno non solo del soccorso materiale, ma anche di quella più profonda vicinanza spirituale, umana e psicologica che è più propria del vostro servizio.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 45 (44.785), 22 Febbraio 2008, p. 8.

********************************************************************************

ANGELUS DOMINI, 24 FEBBRAIO 2008

Sabato prossimo, 1° marzo, alle ore 17, nell’Aula Paolo VI presiederò la veglia mariana dei giovani universitari di Roma. Ad essa parteciperanno, in collegamento radio-televisivo, anche studenti di altri Paesi dell’Europa e delle Americhe. Invocheremo l’intercessione di Maria Sedes Sapientiae, affinché la speranza cristiana sostenga la costruzione della civiltà dell’amore in questi due Continenti e nel mondo intero. Cari amici universitari, vi attendo numerosi!

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 48 (44.788), 25-26 Febbraio 2008, p. 8.

********************************************************************************

DISCURSO A LOS OBISPOS DE EL SALVADOR EN VISITA "AD LIMINA"  

A causa de la situación de pobreza muchos se ven obligados a emigrar en busca de mejores condiciones de vida, lo cual provoca a menudo consecuencias negativas para la estabilidad del matrimonio y de la familia. Sé también de los esfuerzos que estáis haciendo para promover la reconciliación y la paz en vuestro País, y superar así dolorosos acontecimientos del pasado.

L’Osservatore Romano, (Edición Semanal en lengua Española) N. 10 (2.045),  7 de Marzo de 2008, p. 5. 

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS TO THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE PLENARY ASSEMBLY
OF THE PONTIFICAL COUNCIL "COR UNUM"
 

For this reason, I willingly take this opportunity to express my particular gratitude to those who, in various ways, work in the field of charity, showing with their deeds that the Church makes herself present in a concrete way alongside those who find themselves caught up in different forms of trouble or suffering. For this ecclesial action, it is the Pastors who have the overall and ultimate responsibility with regard to both calling attention to and realizing projects of human development, especially in the case of less fortunate Communities. Let us give thanks to God for the many Christians who give of their time and energy to make available not only material aid, but also support through consolation and hope for those in difficult conditions, nurturing a constant solicitude for the true well-being of the human person. Charitable activity thus occupies a central place in the evangelising mission of the Church. We must not forget that works of charity constitute a privileged meeting place also for those who do not know Christ or know Him only partially. Quite rightly, then, the Pastors and those responsible for the pastoral of charity pay constant attention to those who work in the sphere of diakonia, taking care to form them on both the human and professional, as well as the theological-spiritual and pastoral level.

In this moment, much relevance is given to continuing formation in society as well as the Church, seen in the blossoming of institutions and centres set up to provide useful instruments for acquiring specific technical skills. It is essential, however, for those who work in the Church’s charitable organizations to receive that “formation of the heart,” which I cited in the Encyclical Deus caritas est (n. 31a): intimate and spiritual formation that, from the encounter with Christ, ignites that sensibility of the soul, which alone allows for the deepest knowledge and satisfaction of the human person’s longings and needs. This exactly is what enables the acquisition of the same sentiments of merciful love that God enkindles for each individual. In moments of suffering and pain, this is the approach needed. Those who operate in the multiple forms of the Church’s charitable activity cannot, therefore, confine themselves only to the technical presentation or resolving material problems and difficulties. The help that is offered should never be reduced to a philanthropic gesture, but must be a tangible expression of evangelical love. Those, then, who offer their service in favour of the human person in parish, diocesan and international organizations do so in the name of the Church and are called to make shine in their activity an authentic experience of the Church.

In this vital sector, therefore, a valid and effective formation cannot but aim at better qualifying those who are engaged in various charitable activities, so that they are also and above all witnesses of evangelical love. This they are if their mission is not exhausted by being social service workers, but rather heralds of the Gospel of charity. Following in the footsteps of Christ, they are called to be witnesses of the value of life, in all of its expressions, protecting most especially the life of the weak and sick, after the example of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who loved and cared for the dying, since life is not measured by its efficiency but always has value and for everyone. In the second place, these ecclesial workers are called to be witnesses of love by virtue of the fact that we are fully human when we live for the other; no one can die and live for himself; happiness is not found in the solitude of a life closed in on itself, but in the gift of self. Finally, whoever works within the sphere of the Church’s activity, must be witnesses of God, Who is the fullness of love and invites us to love. The source of every deed done by those who work in the Church is God, Creator and Redeemer love. As I wrote in Deus caritas est, we are able to practice love because we have been created in the divine image and likeness in order to “experience love and in this way cause the light of God to enter into the world” (n. 39). This is the invitation I wanted to extend with this Encyclical.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 11 (2035), 12 March 2008, p.4.  

*******************************************************************************

ADDRESS TO H.E. MRS. MARY ANN GLENDON, NEW AMBASSADOR OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA TO THE HOLY SEE

I cannot fail to note with gratitude the importance which the United States has attributed to interreligious and intercultural dialogue as a positive force for peacemaking. The Holy See is convinced of the great spiritual potential represented by such dialogue, particularly with regard to the promotion of nonviolence and the rejection of ideologies which manipulate and disfigure religion for political purposes, and justify violence in the name of God. The American people's historic appreciation of the role of religion in shaping public discourse and in shedding light on the inherent moral dimension of social issues - a role at times contested in the name of a straitened understanding of political life and public discourse - is reflected in the efforts of so many of your fellow-citizens and government leaders to ensure legal protection for God's gift of life from conception to natural death, and the safeguarding of the institution of marriage, acknowledged as a stable union between a man and a woman, and that of the family.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 52 (44.792),  1 Marzo 2008, p. 2. 

********************************************************************************

VEGLIA DI PREGHIERA IN OCCASIONE DELLA VI GIORNATA EUROPEA DEGLI UNIVERSITARI 

Cari giovani universitari!

Al termine di questa veglia mariana, con grande gioia rivolgo il mio saluto a tutti voi, a quanti siete qui presenti e a quanti partecipate alla preghiera mediante i collegamenti via satellite. Saluto con riconoscenza i venerati Cardinali e Vescovi, in particolare quelli che hanno presieduto la recita del Rosario nelle sedi collegate: Aparecida in Brasile, Avignone in Francia, Bucarest in Romania, Città del Messico in Messico, L’Avana a Cuba, Loja in Ecuador, Minsk in Bielorussia, Napoli in Italia, Toledo in Spagna e Washington negli Stati Uniti d’America. Cinque sedi in Europa e cinque nelle Americhe. Infatti questa iniziativa ha per tema: "L’Europa e le Americhe insieme per costruire la civiltà dell’amore". E proprio su questo tema si è svolto in questi giorni presso l’Università Gregoriana un convegno, ai cui partecipanti rivolgo un cordiale saluto.

È felice la scelta di evidenziare di volta in volta il rapporto tra l’Europa e un altro continente, in una prospettiva di speranza. Due anni fa Europa e Africa; l’anno scorso Europa e Asia; quest’anno Europa e America. Il cristianesimo costituisce un legame forte e profondo tra il cosiddetto vecchio continente e quello che è stato chiamato il "nuovo mondo". Basta pensare al posto fondamentale che occupano la Sacra Scrittura e la Liturgia cristiana nella cultura e nell’arte dei popoli europei e di quelli americani. Purtroppo però la cosiddetta "civiltà occidentale" ha anche in parte tradito la sua ispirazione evangelica. Si impone pertanto un’onesta e sincera riflessione, un esame di coscienza. Occorre discernere tra ciò che costruisce la "civiltà dell’amore", secondo il disegno di Dio rivelato in Gesù Cristo, e ciò che invece ad essa si oppone.

Mi rivolgo ora a voi, cari giovani. I giovani sono sempre stati, nella storia dell’Europa e delle Americhe, portatori di spinte evangeliche. Pensiamo a giovani come san Benedetto da Norcia, san Francesco d’Assisi e il beato Karl Leisner, in Europa; come san Martín de Porres, santa Rosa da Lima e la beata Kateri Tekakwitha, in America. Giovani costruttori della civiltà dell’amore! Oggi, voi, giovani europei e americani, Iddio vi chiama a cooperare, insieme con i vostri coetanei del mondo intero, perché la linfa del Vangelo rinnovi la civiltà di questi due continenti e di tutta l’umanità. Le grandi città europee e americane sono sempre più cosmopolite, ma spesso manca in esse questa linfa, capace di far sì che le differenze non siano motivo di divisione o di conflitto, bensì di arricchimento reciproco. La civiltà dell’amore è "convivialità", cioè convivenza rispettosa, pacifica e gioiosa delle differenze in nome di un progetto comune, che il beato Papa Giovanni XXIII fondava sopra i quattro pilastri dell’amore, della verità, della libertà e della giustizia. Ecco, cari amici, la consegna che oggi vi affido: siate discepoli e testimoni del Vangelo, perché il Vangelo è il buon seme del Regno di Dio, cioè della civiltà dell’amore! Siate costruttori di pace e di unità! Segno di quest’unità cattolica, cioè universale e integra nei contenuti della fede cristiana che tutti ci lega, è anche l’iniziativa di consegnare a ciascuno di voi il testo dell’Enciclica Spe salvi su un CD in 5 lingue. La Vergine Maria vegli su voi, sulle vostre famiglie e su tutti i vostri cari.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 54 (44.797),  3-4 Marzo 2008, p. 7.

********************************************************************************

LETTERA AI PARTECIPANTI AL XXVI CAPITOLO GENERALE
DEI SALESIANI DI DON BOSCO 

Nelle situazioni plurireligiose ed in quelle secolarizzate occorre trovare vie inedite per far conoscere, specialmente ai giovani, la figura di Gesù, affinché ne percepiscano il perenne fascino. Centrale pertanto deve essere nella loro azione apostolica l’annuncio di Gesù Cristo e del suo Vangelo, insieme con l’appello alla conversione, all’accoglienza della fede e all’inserimento nella Chiesa; da qui poi nascono i cammini di fede e di catechesi, la vita liturgica, la testimonianza della carità operosa. Il loro carisma li pone nella situazione privilegiata di poter valorizzare l’apporto dell’educazione nel campo dell’evangelizzazione dei giovani. Senza educazione, in effetti, non c’è evangelizzazione duratura e profonda, non c’è crescita e maturazione, non si dà cambio di mentalità e di cultura. I giovani nutrono desideri profondi di vita piena, di amore autentico, di libertà costruttiva; ma spesso purtroppo le loro attese sono tradite e non giungono a realizzazione. È indispensabile aiutare i giovani a valorizzare le risorse che portano dentro come dinamismo e desiderio positivo; metterli a contatto con proposte ricche di umanità e di valori evangelici; spingerli ad inserirsi nella società come parte attiva attraverso il lavoro, la partecipazione e l’impegno per il bene comune. Ciò richiede a chi li guida di allargare gli ambiti dell’impegno educativo con attenzione alle nuove povertà giovanili, all’educazione superiore, all’immigrazione; richiede inoltre di avere attenzione alla famiglia e al suo coinvolgimento. Su questo aspetto così importante mi sono soffermato nella Lettera sull’urgenza educativa, che ho recentemente indirizzato ai fedeli di Roma, e che ora idealmente consegno a tutti i Salesiani. Nell’emergenza educativa che esiste in numerose parti del mondo, la Chiesa ha bisogno del contributo di studiosi che approfondiscano la metodologia dei processi pedagogici e formativi, l’evangelizzazione dei giovani, la loro educazione morale, elaborando insieme risposte alle sfide della postmodernità, dell’interculturalità e della comunicazione sociale e cercando nel contempo di venire in aiuto alle famiglie.

L’Osservatore Romano, N.  54 (44.794),  3-4 Marzo 2008, p. 8.

********************************************************************************

HOMILY AT THE LITURGY OF THE WORD IN MEMORY OF THE WITNESSES TO THE FAITH WHO DIED DURING THE 20th CENTURY

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

We may see our meeting in the ancient Basilica of St Bartholomew on Tiber Island as a pilgrimage in memory of the martyrs of the 20th century, countless men and women, known and unknown, who shed their blood for the Lord in the 1900s. It is a pilgrimage guided by the Word of God which, like a lamp to our feet, a light on our way (cf. Ps 119[118]: 105), brightens the life of every believer with its light.

It seems as though violence, totalitarianism, persecution and blind brutality got the upper hand, silencing the voices of the witnesses to the faith who humanly speaking appeared to be defeated by history. But the Risen Jesus illumines their testimony and thus we understand the meaning of martyrdom. Tertullian says of this: "Plures efficimur quoties metimur a vobis: sanguis martyrum semen christianorum - Our numbers increase every time we are cut down by you: the blood of martyrs is the seed of [new] Christians" (Apol. 50, 13; CCC, PL 1,603). A force that the world does not know is active in defeat, in the humiliation of those who suffer for the Gospel: "for when I am weak", the Apostle Paul exclaims, "then I am strong" (II Cor 12: 10). It is the power of love, defenceless and victorious even in apparent defeat. It is the force that challenges and triumphs over death. Fraternal life in common and the love, faith and decisions in favour of the lowliest and poorest that mark the existence of the Christian community sometimes give rise to violent aversion. How useful it is then to look to the shining witness of those who have preceded us in the sign of heroic fidelity to the point of martyrdom! And in this ancient Basilica, thanks to the care of the Sant'Egidio Community, the memory of so many witnesses to the faith who died in recent times is preserved and venerated. Dear friends of the Community of Sant'Egidio, looking at these heroes of the faith, may you too strive to imitate their courage and perseverance in serving the Gospel, especially among the poorest. Be builders of peace and reconciliation among those who are enemies or who fight one another.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 16 (2040), 16 April 2008, p. 3.

*******************************************************************************

ADDRESS TO THE BISHOPS OF THE ANTILLES ON THEIR “AD LIMINA” VISIT

With fraternal affection I offer these reflections wishing to affirm you in your desire to intensify the summons to witness and evangelization which ensue from the encounter with Christ. United in your proclamation of the Good News of Jesus Christ, go forward in hope! Please assure all your seminarians and priests, Religious, and lay faithful – including in a special way the considerable immigrant communities – of my prayers and spiritual communion. To you all, I gladly impart my Apostolic Blessing.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 16 (2040) 16 April 2008, p. 8. 

********************************************************************************

INTERVISTA CONCESSA DAL SANTO PADRE AI GIORNALISTI DURANTE IL VOLO DIRETTO NEGLI STATI UNITI D’AMERICA 

D. – Un altro dei temi su cui abbiamo avuto molte domande da parte dei nostri colleghi è stato quello dell’immigrazione, della presenza nella società statunitense anche delle componenti di lingua spagnola. E per questo, la domanda viene fatta dal nostro collega Andrés Leonardo Beltramo Alvares che è dell’Agenzia di informazione del Messico:

D. – Santità, faccio la domanda in italiano e poi, se Lei vuole, può fare il commento in spagnolo. Un saluto, soltanto un saluto. Vi è una crescita enorme della presenza ispanica anche nella Chiesa degli Stati Uniti in generale: la comunità cattolica diventa sempre più bilingue e sempre più bi-culturale. Allo stesso tempo, vi è nella società un crescente movimento anti-immigrazione: la situazione degli immigrati è caratterizzata da forme di precarietà e discriminazione. Lei ha intenzione di parlare di questo problema e di invitare l’America ad accogliere bene gli immigrati, molti dei quali sono cattolici?

R. – Non sono in grado di parlare in spagnolo, ma mis saludos y mi bendición para todos los hispánicos. Certamente parlerò di questo punto. Io ho avuto diverse visite “ad Limina” dei Vescovi dell’America Centrale, anche dell’America del Sud, e ho visto l’ampiezza di questo problema, soprattutto il grave problema della separazione delle famiglie. E questo veramente è pericoloso per il tessuto sociale, morale e umano di questi Paesi. Bisogna però distinguere tra misure da prendere subito e soluzioni a lunga scadenza. La soluzione fondamentale è che non ci sia più bisogno di emigrare, perché ci sono in Patria posti di lavoro sufficienti, un tessuto sociale sufficiente, così che nessuno abbia più bisogno di emigrare. Quindi, dobbiamo lavorare tutti per questo obiettivo, per uno sviluppo sociale che consenta di offrire ai cittadini lavoro ed un futuro nella terra d’origine. E anche su questo punto vorrei parlare con il Presidente, perché soprattutto gli Stati Uniti devono aiutare perché i Paesi possano così svilupparsi. È nell’interesse di tutti, non solo di questi Paesi, ma del mondo e anche degli Stati Uniti. Poi, misure a breve scadenza: è molto importante aiutare soprattutto le famiglie. Alla luce dei colloqui che ho avuto con i Vescovi, il problema primario è che le famiglie siano protette, non siano distrutte. Quanto si può fare, si deve fare. Poi, naturalmente, bisogna fare il possibile contro la precarietà e contro tutte le violenze e aiutare perché possano avere realmente una vita degna lì dove sono attualmente. Vorrei anche dire che ci sono tanti problemi, tante sofferenze, ma c’è anche tanta ospitalità! Io so che soprattutto la Conferenza Episcopale Americana collabora moltissimo con le Conferenze Episcopali dell’America Latina in vista degli aiuti necessari. Con tutte le cose dolorose, non dimentichiamo anche tanta vera umanità, tante azioni positive che pure ci sono.

D. – Adesso, una domanda che si riferisce alla società americana: esattamente al posto dei valori religiosi nella società americana. Diamo la parola al nostro collega Andrea Tornielli, che è vaticanista di un giornale italiano:

D. – Santo Padre, ricevendo la nuova Ambasciatrice degli Stati Uniti d’America, Ella ha messo in luce come valore positivo il riconoscimento pubblico della religione negli Stati Uniti. Volevo chiederLe se considera questo un possibile modello anche per l’Europa secolarizzata, o se non crede che ci possa essere anche il rischio che la religione e il nome di Dio possano venire usati per fare passare certe politiche e persino la guerra ...

R. – Certamente, in Europa non possiamo semplicemente copiare gli Stati Uniti: abbiamo la nostra storia. Ma dobbiamo tutti imparare l’uno dall’altro. Quanto trovo io affascinante negli Stati Uniti è che hanno incominciato con un concetto positivo di laicità, perché questo nuovo popolo era composto da comunità e persone che erano fuggite dalle Chiese di Stato e volevano avere uno Stato laico, secolare che aprisse possibilità a tutte le confessioni, per tutte le forme di esercizio religioso. Così è nato uno Stato volutamente laico: erano contrari ad una Chiesa di Stato. Ma laico doveva essere lo Stato proprio per amore della religione nella sua autenticità, che può essere vissuta solo liberamente. E così troviamo questo insieme di uno Stato volutamente e decisamente laico, ma proprio per una volontà religiosa, per dare autenticità alla religione. E sappiamo che Alexis de Toqueville, studiando l’America, ha visto che le istituzioni laiche vivono con un consenso morale di fatto che esiste tra i cittadini. Questo mi sembra un modello fondamentale e positivo. È da considerare che in Europa, nel frattempo, sono passati duecento anni, più di duecento anni, con tanti sviluppi. Adesso c’è anche negli Stati Uniti l’attacco di un nuovo secolarismo, del tutto diverso, e quindi prima i problemi erano l’immigrazione, ma la situazione si è complicata e differenziata nel corso della storia. Tuttavia il fondamento, il modello fondamentale mi sembra anche oggi degno di essere tenuto presente anche in Europa.

D. – E allora, un ultimo tema riguarda la Sua visita alle Nazioni Unite, e su questo la domanda ce la fa John Pavis, che è il responsabile a Roma dell’Agenzia cattolica di notizie degli Stati Uniti.

D. – Santo Padre, il Papa spesso è considerato la coscienza dell’umanità, e anche per questo il suo discorso alle Nazioni Unite è molto atteso. Vorrei chiedere: Lei pensa che un’istituzione multilaterale come le Nazioni Unite possa salvaguardare i principi ritenuti “non negoziabili” dalla Chiesa Cattolica, cioè i principi fondati sulla legge naturale?

R. – È proprio questo l’obiettivo fondamentale delle Nazioni Unite: che salvaguardino i valori comuni dell’umanità, sui quali è basata la convivenza pacifica delle Nazioni: l’osservanza della giustizia e lo sviluppo della giustizia. Ho già brevemente accennato che a me sembra molto importante che il fondamento delle Nazioni Unite sia proprio l’idea dei diritti umani, dei diritti che esprimono valori non negoziabili, che precedono tutte le istituzioni e sono il fondamento di tutte le istituzioni. Ed è importante che ci sia questa convergenza tra le culture che hanno trovato un consenso sul fatto che questi valori sono fondamentali, che sono iscritti nello stesso essere Uomo. Rinnovare questa coscienza che le Nazioni Unite, con la loro funzione pacificatrice, possono lavorare soltanto se hanno il fondamento comune dei valori che si esprimono poi in “diritti” che devono essere osservati da tutti. Confermare questa concezione fondamentale e aggiornarla in quanto possibile, è un obiettivo della mia missione.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 90 (44.830), 17 Aprile 2008, p. 8.

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE CELEBRATION OF VESPERS AND MEETING WITH THE BISHOPS OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

We began by celebrating Evening Prayer in this Basilica dedicated to the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, a shrine of special significance to American Catholics, right in the heart of your capital city. Gathered in prayer with Mary, Mother of Jesus, we lovingly commend to our heavenly Father the people of God in every part of the United States.

Many of the people to whom John Carroll and his fellow Bishops were ministering two centuries ago had travelled from distant lands. The diversity of their origins is reflected in the rich variety of ecclesial life in present-day America. Brother Bishops, I want to encourage you and your communities to continue to welcome the immigrants who join your ranks today, to share their joys and hopes, to support them in their sorrows and trials, and to help them flourish in their new home. This, indeed, is what your fellow countrymen have done for generations. From the beginning, they have opened their doors to the tired, the poor, the “huddled masses yearning to breathe free” (cf. Sonnet inscribed on the Statue of Liberty). These are the people whom America has made her own.

Of those who came to build a new life here, many were able to make good use of the resources and opportunities that they found, and to attain a high level of prosperity. Indeed, the people of this country are known for their great vitality and creativity. They are also known for their generosity. After the attack on the Twin Towers in September 2001, and again after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Americans displayed their readiness to come to the aid of their brothers and sisters in need. On the international level, the contribution made by the people of America to relief and rescue operations after the tsunami of December 2004 is a further illustration of this compassion. Let me express my particular appreciation for the many forms of humanitarian assistance provided by American Catholics through Catholic Charities and other agencies. Their generosity has borne fruit in the care shown to the poor and needy, and in the energy that has gone into building the nationwide network of Catholic parishes, hospitals, schools and universities. All of this gives great cause for thanksgiving.

America is also a land of great faith. Your people are remarkable for their religious fervor and they take pride in belonging to a worshipping community. They have confidence in God, and they do not hesitate to bring moral arguments rooted in biblical faith into their public discourse. Respect for freedom of religion is deeply ingrained in the American consciousness – a fact which has contributed to this country’s attraction for generations of immigrants, seeking a home where they can worship freely in accordance with their beliefs.

In this connection, I happily acknowledge the presence among you of Bishops from all the venerable Eastern Churches in communion with the Successor of Peter, whom I greet with special joy. Dear Brothers, I ask you to assure your communities of my deep affection and my continued prayers, both for them and for the many brothers and sisters who remain in their land of origin. Your presence here is a reminder of the courageous witness to Christ of so many members of your communities, often amid suffering, in their respective homelands. It is also a great enrichment of the ecclesial life of America, giving vivid expression to the Church’s catholicity and the variety of her liturgical and spiritual traditions. While it is true that this country is marked by a genuinely religious spirit, the subtle influence of secularism can nevertheless color the way people allow their faith to influence their behavior. Is it consistent to profess our beliefs in church on Sunday, and then during the week to promote business practices or medical procedures contrary to those beliefs? Is it consistent for practicing Catholics to ignore or exploit the poor and the marginalized, to promote sexual behavior contrary to Catholic moral teaching, or to adopt positions that contradict the right to life of every human being from conception to natural death? Any tendency to treat religion as a private matter must be resisted. Only when their faith permeates every aspect of their lives do Christians become truly open to the transforming power of the Gospel.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 3-4.

********************************************************************************

HOMILY AT THE Washington Nationals Stadium  

Our Mass today brings the Church in the United States back to its roots in nearby Maryland, and commemorates the bicentennial of the first chapter of its remarkable growth – the division by my predecessor, Pope Pius VII, of the original Diocese of Baltimore and the establishment of the Dioceses of Boston, Bardstown (now Louisville), New York and Philadelphia. Two hundred years later, the Church in America can rightfully praise the accomplishment of past generations in bringing together widely differing immigrant groups within the unity of the Catholic faith and in a common commitment to the spread of the Gospel. At the same time, conscious of its rich diversity, the Catholic community in this country has come to appreciate ever more fully the importance of each individual and group offering its own particular gifts to the whole. The Church in the United States is now called to look to the future, firmly grounded in the faith passed on by previous generations, and ready to meet new challenges – challenges no less demanding than those faced by your forebears – with the hope born of God’s love, poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit (cf. Rom 5:5). 

Queridos hermanos y hermanas de lengua española:

La Iglesia en los Estados Unidos, acogiendo en su seno a tantos de sus hijos emigrantes, ha ido creciendo gracias también a la vitalidad del testimonio de fe de los fieles de lengua española. Por eso, el Señor les llama a seguir contribuyendo al futuro de la Iglesia en este País y a la difusión del Evangelio. Sólo si están unidos a Cristo y entre ustedes, su testimonio evangelizador será creíble y florecerá en copiosos frutos de paz y reconciliación en medio de un mundo muchas veces marcado por divisiones y enfrentamientos.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 6-10.

******************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE MEETING WITH CATHOLIC EDUCATORS IN THE Conference Hall of the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. 

How might Christian educators respond? These harmful developments point to the particular urgency of what we might call “intellectual charity”. This aspect of charity calls the educator to recognize that the profound responsibility to lead the young to truth is nothing less than an act of love. Indeed, the dignity of education lies in fostering the true perfection and happiness of those to be educated. In practice “intellectual charity” upholds the essential unity of knowledge against the fragmentation which ensues when reason is detached from the pursuit of truth. It guides the young towards the deep satisfaction of exercising freedom in relation to truth, and it strives to articulate the relationship between faith and all aspects of family and civic life. Once their passion for the fullness and unity of truth has been awakened, young people will surely relish the discovery that the question of what they can know opens up the vast adventure of what they ought to do. Here they will experience “in what” and “in whom” it is possible to hope, and be inspired to contribute to society in a way that engenders hope in others.

Dear friends, I wish to conclude by focusing our attention specifically on the paramount importance of your own professionalism and witness within our Catholic universities and schools.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 8. 

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE MEETING WITH REPRESENTATIVES OF OTHER RELIGIONS AT THE “Rotunda” Hall of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center of Washington, D.C. 

Americans have always valued the ability to worship freely and in accordance with their conscience. Alexis de Tocqueville, the French historian and observer of American affairs, was fascinated with this aspect of the nation. He remarked that this is a country in which religion and freedom are “intimately linked” in contributing to a stable democracy that fosters social virtues and participation in the communal life of all its citizens. In urban areas, it is common for individuals from different cultural backgrounds and religions to engage with one another daily in commercial, social and educational settings. Today, in classrooms throughout the country, young Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, and indeed children of all religions sit side-by-side, learning with one another and from one another. This diversity gives rise to new challenges that spark a deeper reflection on the core principles of a democratic society. May others take heart from your experience, realizing that a united society can indeed arise from a plurality of peoples – “E pluribus unum”: “out of many, one” – provided that all recognize religious liberty as a basic civil right (cf. Dignitatis Humanae, 2).

The task of upholding religious freedom is never completed. New situations and challenges invite citizens and leaders to reflect on how their decisions respect this basic human right. Protecting religious freedom within the rule of law does not guarantee that peoples – particularly minorities – will be spared from unjust forms of discrimination and prejudice. This requires constant effort on the part of all members of society to ensure that citizens are afforded the opportunity to worship peaceably and to pass on their religious heritage to their children.

The transmission of religious traditions to succeeding generations not only helps to preserve a heritage; it also sustains and nourishes the surrounding culture in the present day. The same holds true for dialogue between religions; both the participants and society are enriched. As we grow in understanding of one another, we see that we share an esteem for ethical values, discernable to human reason, which are revered by all peoples of goodwill. The world begs for a common witness to these values. I therefore invite all religious people to view dialogue not only as a means of enhancing mutual understanding, but also as a way of serving society at large. By bearing witness to those moral truths which they hold in common with all men and women of goodwill, religious groups will exert a positive influence on the wider culture, and inspire neighbors, co-workers and fellow citizens to join in the task of strengthening the ties of solidarity. In the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “no greater thing could come to our land today than a revival of the spirit of faith”.

There is a further point I wish to touch upon here. I have noticed a growing interest among governments to sponsor programs intended to promote interreligious and intercultural dialogue. These are praiseworthy initiatives. At the same time, religious freedom, interreligious dialogue and faith-based education aim at something more than a consensus regarding ways to implement practical strategies for advancing peace. The broader purpose of dialogue is to discover the truth. What is the origin and destiny of mankind? What are good and evil? What awaits us at the end of our earthly existence? Only by addressing these deeper questions can we build a solid basis for the peace and security of the human family, for “wherever and whenever men and women are enlightened by the splendor of truth, they naturally set out on the path of peace” (Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace, 3).

Confronted with these deeper questions concerning the origin and destiny of mankind, Christianity proposes Jesus of Nazareth. He, we believe, is the eternal Logos who became flesh in order to reconcile man to God and reveal the underlying reason of all things. It is he whom we bring to the forum of interreligious dialogue. The ardent desire to follow in his footsteps spurs Christians to open their minds and hearts in dialogue (cf. Lk 10:25-37; Jn 4:7-26).

Dear friends, in our attempt to discover points of commonality, perhaps we have shied away from the responsibility to discuss our differences with calmness and clarity. While always uniting our hearts and minds in the call for peace, we must also listen attentively to the voice of truth. In this way, our dialogue will not stop at identifying a common set of values, but go on to probe their ultimate foundation. We have no reason to fear, for the truth unveils for us the essential relationship between the world and God. We are able to perceive that peace is a “heavenly gift” that calls us to conform human history to the divine order. Herein lies the “truth of peace” (cf. Message for the 2006 World Day of Peace).

As we have seen then, the higher goal of interreligious dialogue requires a clear exposition of our respective religious tenets. In this regard, colleges, universities and study centers are important forums for a candid exchange of religious ideas. The Holy See, for its part, seeks to carry forward this important work through the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, and various Pontifical Universities.

Dear friends, let our sincere dialogue and cooperation inspire all people to ponder the deeper questions of their origin and destiny. May the followers of all religions stand together in defending and promoting life and religious freedom everywhere. By giving ourselves generously to this sacred task – through dialogue and countless small acts of love, understanding and compassion – we can be instruments of peace for the whole human family.

Peace upon you all!

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 9.

********************************************************************************

MESSAGE TO THE JEWISH COMMUNITY ON THE FEAST OF PESAH 

Because of that growth in trust and friendship, Christians and Jews can rejoice together in the deep spiritual ethos of the Passover, a memorial (zikkarôn) of freedom and redemption. Each year, when we listen to the Passover story we return to that blessed night of liberation. This holy time of the year should be a call to both our communities to pursue justice, mercy, solidarity with the stranger in the land, with the widow and orphan, as Moses commanded: “But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this” (Deuteronomy 24: 18).

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 11.

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE FAREWELL CEREMONY IN John Fitzgerald Kennedy International Airport, New York 

The time has come for me to bid farewell to your country. These days that I have spent in the United States have been blessed with many memorable experiences of American hospitality, and I wish to express my deep appreciation to all of you for your kind welcome. It has been a joy for me to witness the faith and devotion of the Catholic community here. It was heart-warming to spend time with leaders and representatives of other Christian communities and other religions, and I renew my assurances of respect and esteem to all of you.

One of the high-points of my visit was the opportunity to address the General Assembly of the United Nations, and I thank Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for his kind invitation and welcome. Looking back over the sixty years that have passed since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, I give thanks for all that the Organization has been able to achieve in defending and promoting the fundamental rights of every man, woman and child throughout the world, and I encourage people of good will everywhere to continue working tirelessly to promote justice and peaceful co-existence between peoples and nations.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 23.

********************************************************************************

HOMILY DURING THE CELEBRATION OF THE EUCHARIST AT Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York 

Today we recall the bicentennial of a watershed in the history of the Church in the United States: its first great chapter of growth. In these two hundred years, the face of the Catholic community in your country has changed greatly. We think of the successive waves of immigrants whose traditions have so enriched the Church in America. We think of the strong faith which built up the network of churches, educational, healthcare and social institutions which have long been the hallmark of the Church in this land. We think also of those countless fathers and mothers who passed on the faith to their children, the steady ministry of the many priests who devoted their lives to the care of souls, and the incalculable contribution made by so many men and women religious, who not only taught generations of children how to read and write, but also inspired in them a lifelong desire to know God, to love him and to serve him. How many “spiritual sacrifices pleasing to God” have been offered up in these two centuries! In this land of religious liberty, Catholics found freedom not only to practice their faith, but also to participate fully in civic life, bringing their deepest moral convictions to the public square and cooperating with their neighbors in shaping a vibrant, democratic society. Today’s celebration is more than an occasion of gratitude for graces received. It is also a summons to move forward with firm resolve to use wisely the blessings of freedom, in order to build a future of hope for coming generations.

Praying fervently for the coming of the Kingdom also means being constantly alert for the signs of its presence, and working for its growth in every sector of society. It means facing the challenges of present and future with confidence in Christ’s victory and a commitment to extending his reign. It means not losing heart in the face of resistance, adversity and scandal. It means overcoming every separation between faith and life, and countering false gospels of freedom and happiness. It also means rejecting a false dichotomy between faith and political life, since, as the Second Vatican Council put it, “there is no human activity – even in secular affairs – which can be withdrawn from God’s dominion” (Lumen Gentium, 36). It means working to enrich American society and culture with the beauty and truth of the Gospel, and never losing sight of that great hope which gives meaning and value to all the other hopes which inspire our lives.

And this, dear friends, is the particular challenge which the Successor of Saint Peter sets before you today. As “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation”, follow faithfully in the footsteps of those who have gone before you! Hasten the coming of God’s Kingdom in this land! Past generations have left you an impressive legacy. In our day too, the Catholic community in this nation has been outstanding in its prophetic witness in the defense of life, in the education of the young, in care for the poor, the sick and the stranger in your midst. On these solid foundations, the future of the Church in America must even now begin to rise!

May you find the courage to proclaim Christ, “the same, yesterday, and today and for ever” and the unchanging truths which have their foundation in him (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 10; Heb 13:8). These are the truths that set us free! They are the truths which alone can guarantee respect for the inalienable dignity and rights of each man, woman and child in our world – including the most defenseless of all human beings, the unborn child in the mother’s womb. In a world where, as Pope John Paul II, speaking in this very place, reminded us, Lazarus continues to stand at our door (Homily at Yankee Stadium, October 2, 1979, No. 7), let your faith and love bear rich fruit in outreach to the poor, the needy and those without a voice. Young men and women of America, I urge you: open your hearts to the Lord’s call to follow him in the priesthood and the religious life. Can there be any greater mark of love than this: to follow in the footsteps of Christ, who was willing to lay down his life for his friends (cf. Jn 15:13)? 

Queridos hermanos y hermanas en el Señor: 

Aquí, en este País de libertad, quiero proclamar con fuerza que la Palabra de Cristo no elimina nuestras aspiraciones a una vida plena y libre, sino que nos descubre nuestra verdadera dignidad de hijos de Dios y nos alienta a luchar contra todo aquello que nos esclaviza, empezando por nuestro propio egoísmo y caprichos. Al mismo tiempo, nos anima a manifestar nuestra fe a través de nuestra vida de caridad y a hacer que nuestras comunidades eclesiales sean cada día más acogedoras y fraternas.

Sobre todo a los jóvenes les confío asumir el gran reto que entraña creer en Cristo y lograr que esa fe se manifieste en una cercanía efectiva hacia los pobres. También en una respuesta generosa a las llamadas que Él sigue formulando para dejarlo todo y emprender una vida de total consagración a Dios y a la Iglesia, en la vida sacerdotal o religiosa.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 20-21.

********************************************************************************

MEETING WITH THE MEMBERS OF THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION
 

The life of the community, both domestically and internationally, clearly demonstrates that respect for rights, and the guarantees that follow from them, are measures of the common good that serve to evaluate the relationship between justice and injustice, development and poverty, security and conflict. The promotion of human rights remains the most effective strategy for eliminating inequalities between countries and social groups, and for increasing security.  Indeed, the victims of hardship and despair, whose human dignity is violated with impunity, become easy prey to the call to violence, and they can then become violators of peace. The common good that human rights help to accomplish cannot, however, be attained merely by applying correct procedures, nor even less by achieving a balance between competing rights. The merit of the Universal Declaration is that it has enabled different cultures, juridical expressions and institutional models to converge around a fundamental nucleus of values, and hence of rights. Today, though, efforts need to be redoubled in the face of pressure to reinterpret the foundations of the Declaration and to compromise its inner unity so as to facilitate a move away from the protection of human dignity towards the satisfaction of simple interests, often particular interests. The Declaration was adopted as a “common standard of achievement” (Preamble) and cannot be applied piecemeal, according to trends or selective choices that merely run the risk of contradicting the unity of the human person and thus the indivisibility of human rights.

Experience shows that legality often prevails over justice when the insistence upon rights makes them appear as the exclusive result of legislative enactments or normative decisions taken by the various agencies of those in power.  When presented purely in terms of legality, rights risk becoming weak propositions divorced from the ethical and rational dimension which is their foundation and their goal. The Universal Declaration, rather, has reinforced the conviction that respect for human rights is principally rooted in unchanging justice, on which the binding force of international proclamations is also based.  This aspect is often overlooked when the attempt is made to deprive rights of their true function in the name of a narrowly utilitarian perspective.  Since rights and the resulting duties follow naturally from human interaction, it is easy to forget that they are the fruit of a commonly held sense of justice built primarily upon solidarity among the members of society, and hence valid at all times and for all peoples.  This intuition was expressed as early as the fifth century by Augustine of Hippo, one of the masters of our intellectual heritage.  He taught that the saying:  Do not do to others what you would not want done to you “cannot in any way vary according to the different understandings that have arisen in the world” (De Doctrina Christiana, III, 14).  Human rights, then, must be respected as an expression of justice, and not merely because they are enforceable through the will of the legislators. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, 

As history proceeds, new situations arise, and the attempt is made to link them to new rights. Discernment, that is, the capacity to distinguish good from evil, becomes even more essential in the context of demands that concern the very lives and conduct of persons, communities and peoples. In tackling the theme of rights, since important situations and profound realities are involved, discernment is both an indispensable and a fruitful virtue.

Discernment, then, shows that entrusting exclusively to individual States, with their laws and institutions, the final responsibility to meet the aspirations of persons, communities and entire peoples, can sometimes have consequences that exclude the possibility of a social order respectful of the dignity and rights of the person.  On the other hand, a vision of life firmly anchored in the religious dimension can help to achieve this, since recognition of the transcendent value of every man and woman favours conversion of heart, which then leads to a commitment to resist violence, terrorism and war, and to promote justice and peace.  This also provides the proper context for the inter-religious dialogue that the United Nations is called to support, just as it supports dialogue in other areas of human activity. Dialogue should be recognized as the means by which the various components of society can articulate their point of view and build consensus around the truth concerning particular values or goals. It pertains to the nature of religions, freely practised, that they can autonomously conduct a dialogue of thought and life. If at this level, too, the religious sphere is kept separate from political action, then great benefits ensue for individuals and communities. On the other hand, the United Nations can count on the results of dialogue between religions, and can draw fruit from the willingness of believers to place their experiences at the service of the common good. Their task is to propose a vision of faith not in terms of intolerance, discrimination and conflict, but in terms of complete respect for truth, coexistence, rights, and reconciliation.

Human rights, of course, must include the right to religious freedom, understood as the expression of a dimension that is at once individual and communitarian – a vision that brings out the unity of the person while clearly distinguishing between the dimension of the citizen and that of the believer. The activity of the United Nations in recent years has ensured that public debate gives space to viewpoints inspired by a religious vision in all its dimensions, including ritual, worship, education, dissemination of information and the freedom to profess and choose religion. It is inconceivable, then, that believers should have to suppress a part of themselves – their faith – in order to be active citizens. It should never be necessary to deny God in order to enjoy one’s rights. The rights associated with religion are all the more in need of protection if they are considered to clash with a prevailing secular ideology or with majority religious positions of an exclusive nature. The full guarantee of religious liberty cannot be limited to the free exercise of worship, but has to give due consideration to the public dimension of religion, and hence to the possibility of believers playing their part in building the social order.  Indeed, they actually do so, for example through their influential and generous involvement in a vast network of initiatives which extend from Universities, scientific institutions and schools to health care agencies and charitable organizations in the service of the poorest and most marginalized.  Refusal to recognize the contribution to society that is rooted in the religious dimension and in the quest for the Absolute – by its nature, expressing communion between persons – would effectively privilege an individualistic approach, and would fragment the unity of the person.

My presence at this Assembly is a sign of esteem for the United Nations, and it is intended to express the hope that the Organization will increasingly serve as a sign of unity between States and an instrument of service to the entire human family.  It also demonstrates the willingness of the Catholic Church to offer her proper contribution to building international relations in a way that allows every person and every people to feel they can make a difference.  In a manner that is consistent with her contribution in the ethical and moral sphere and the free activity of her faithful, the Church also works for the realization of these goals through the international activity of the Holy See.  Indeed, the Holy See has always had a place at the assemblies of the Nations, thereby manifesting its specific character as a subject in the international domain. As the United Nations recently confirmed, the Holy See thereby makes its contribution according to the dispositions of international law, helps to define that law, and makes appeal to it.

The United Nations remain a privileged setting in which the Church is committed to contributing her experience “of humanity”, developed over the centuries among peoples of every race and culture, and placing it at the disposal of all members of the international community. This experience and activity, directed towards attaining freedom for every believer, seeks also to increase the protection given to the rights of the person. Those rights are grounded and shaped by the transcendent nature of the person, which permits men and women to pursue their journey of faith and their search for God in this world.  Recognition of this dimension must be strengthened if we are to sustain humanity’s hope for a better world and if we are to create the conditions for peace, development, cooperation, and guarantee of rights for future generations.

In my recent Encyclical, Spe Salvi, I indicated that “every generation has the task of engaging anew in the arduous search for the right way to order human affairs” (no. 25).  For Christians, this task is motivated by the hope drawn from the saving work of Jesus Christ. That is why the Church is happy to be associated with the activity of this distinguished Organization, charged with the responsibility of promoting peace and good will throughout the earth. Dear Friends, I thank you for this opportunity to address you today, and I promise you of the support of my prayers as you pursue your noble task.    

Before I take my leave from this distinguished Assembly, I should like to offer my greetings, in the official languages, to all the Nations here represented. 

Peace and Prosperity with God’s help!

Paix et prospérité, avec l’aide de Dieu!

Paz y prosperidad con la ayuda de Dios!

(the same greetings follow Arabic, Chinese and Russian) 

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 12-13.

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE MEETING WITH THE STAFF OF THE UNITED NATIONS ORGANIZATION, New York 

On the occasion of my visit, I wish to pay tribute to the invaluable contribution made by the administrative staff and the many employees of the United Nations, who carry out their duties with such great dedication and professionalism every day – here in New York, in other UN centres, and at special missions all over the world. To you, and to those who have gone before you, I would like to express my personal appreciation and that of the whole Catholic Church. We remember especially the many civilians and peace-keepers who have sacrificed their lives in the field for the good of the peoples they serve – in 2007 alone there were forty-two of them. We also remember the vast multitude who dedicate their lives to work that is never sufficiently acknowledged, often in difficult circumstances. To all of you – translators, secretaries, administrative personnel of every kind, maintenance and security staff, development workers, peace-keepers and many others – thank you, most sincerely. The work that you do makes it possible for the Organization to continue exploring new ways of achieving the goals for which it was founded.

The United Nations is often spoken of as the “family of nations”. By the same token, the headquarters here in New York could be described as a home, a place of welcome and concern for the good of family members everywhere. It is an excellent place in which to promote growth in understanding and collaboration between peoples. Rightly, the staff of the United Nations are selected from a wide range of cultures and nationalities. The personnel here constitute a microcosm of the whole world, in which each individual makes an indispensable contribution from the perspective of his or her particular cultural and religious heritage. The ideals that inspired the founders of this institution need to take shape here and in every one of the Organization’s missions around the world in the mutual respect and acceptance that are the hallmarks of a thriving family.

In the internal debates of the United Nations, increasing emphasis is being placed on the “responsibility to protect”. Indeed this is coming to be recognized as the moral basis for a government’s claim to authority. It is also a feature that naturally appertains to a family, in which stronger members take care of weaker ones. This Organization performs an important service, in the name of the international community, by monitoring the extent to which governments fulfil their responsibility to protect their citizens. On a day-to-day level, it is you who lay the foundations on which that work is built, by the concern you show for one another in the workplace, and by your solicitude for the many peoples whose needs and aspirations you serve in all that you do.

The Catholic Church, through the international activity of the Holy See, and through countless initiatives of lay Catholics, local Churches and religious communities, assures you of her support for your work. I assure you and your families of a special remembrance in my prayers. May Almighty God bless you always and comfort you with his grace and his peace, so that through the care you offer to the entire human family, you can continue to be of service to him.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 14.

********************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE ECUMENICAL PRAYER SERVICE, St. Joseph's Parish, New York 

Globalization has humanity poised between two poles. On the one hand, there is a growing sense of interconnectedness and interdependency between peoples even when – geographically and culturally speaking – they are far apart. This new situation offers the potential for enhancing a sense of global solidarity and shared responsibility for the well-being of mankind. On the other hand, we cannot deny that the rapid changes occurring in our world also present some disturbing signs of fragmentation and a retreat into individualism. The expanding use of electronic communications has in some cases paradoxically resulted in greater isolation. Many people – including the young – are seeking therefore more authentic forms of community. Also of grave concern is the spread of a secularist ideology that undermines or even rejects transcendent truth. The very possibility of divine revelation, and therefore of Christian faith, is often placed into question by cultural trends widely present in academia, the mass media and public debate. For these reasons, a faithful witness to the Gospel is as urgent as ever. Christians are challenged to give a clear account of the hope that they hold (cf. 1 Pet 3:15).

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 15.

*******************************************************************************

ADDRESS AT THE MEETING WITH YOUNG PEOPLE AND SEMINARIANS Saint Joseph Seminary, Yonkers, New York 

In front of you are the images of six ordinary men and women who grew up to lead extraordinary lives. The Church honors them as Venerable, Blessed, or Saint: each responded to the Lord’s call to a life of charity and each served him here, in the alleys, streets and suburbs of New York. I am struck by what a remarkably diverse group they are: poor and rich, lay men and women - one a wealthy wife and mother - priests and sisters, immigrants from afar, the daughter of a Mohawk warrior father and Algonquin mother, another a Haitian slave, and a Cuban intellectual.

Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini, Saint John Neumann, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha, Venerable Pierre Toussaint, and Padre Felix Varela: any one of us could be among them, for there is no stereotype to this group, no single mold. Yet a closer look reveals that there are common elements. Inflamed with the love of Jesus, their lives became remarkable journeys of hope. For some, that meant leaving home and embarking on a pilgrim journey of thousands of miles. For each there was an act of abandonment to God, in the confidence that he is the final destination of every pilgrim. And all offered an outstretched hand of hope to those they encountered along the way, often awakening in them a life of faith. Through orphanages, schools and hospitals, by befriending the poor, the sick and the marginalized, and through the compelling witness that comes from walking humbly in the footsteps of Jesus, these six people laid open the way of faith, hope and charity to countless individuals, including perhaps your own ancestors.

And what of today? Who bears witness to the Good News of Jesus on the streets of New York, in the troubled neighborhoods of large cities, in the places where the young gather, seeking someone in whom they can trust? God is our origin and our destination, and Jesus the way. The path of that journey twists and turns ─ just as it did for our saints ─ through the joys and the trials of ordinary, everyday life: within your families, at school or college, during your recreation activities, and in your parish communities. All these places are marked by the culture in which you are growing up. As young Americans you are offered many opportunities for personal development, and you are brought up with a sense of generosity, service and fairness. Yet you do not need me to tell you that there are also difficulties: activities and mindsets which stifle hope, pathways which seem to lead to happiness and fulfillment but in fact end only in confusion and fear.

My own years as a teenager were marred by a sinister regime that thought it had all the answers; its influence grew – infiltrating schools and civic bodies, as well as politics and even religion – before it was fully recognized for the monster it was. It banished God and thus became impervious to anything true and good. Many of your grandparents and great-grandparents will have recounted the horror of the destruction that ensued. Indeed, some of them came to America precisely to escape such terror.

Let us thank God that today many people of your generation are able to enjoy the liberties which have arisen through the extension of democracy and respect for human rights. Let us thank God for all those who strive to ensure that you can grow up in an environment that nurtures what is beautiful, good, and true: your parents and grandparents, your teachers and priests, those civic leaders who seek what is right and just.

What might that darkness be? What happens when people, especially the most vulnerable, encounter a clenched fist of repression or manipulation rather than a hand of hope? A first group of examples pertains to the heart. Here, the dreams and longings that young people pursue can so easily be shattered or destroyed. I am thinking of those affected by drug and substance abuse, homelessness and poverty, racism, violence, and degradation – especially of girls and women.

Nor is it simply a set of rules. It is a discovery of the One who never fails us; the One whom we can always trust. In seeking truth we come to live by belief because ultimately truth is a person: Jesus Christ. That is why authentic freedom is not an opting out. It is an opting in; nothing less than letting go of self and allowing oneself to be drawn into Christ’s very being for others (cf. Spe Salvi, 28).

Your personal prayer, your times of silent contemplation, and your participation in the Church’s liturgy, bring you closer to God and also prepare you to serve others. The saints accompanying us this evening show us that the life of faith and hope is also a life of charity. Contemplating Jesus on the Cross we see love in its most radical form. We can begin to imagine the path of love along which we must move (cf. Deus Caritas Est, 12). The opportunities to make this journey are abundant. Look about you with Christ’s eyes, listen with his ears, feel and think with his heart and mind. Are you ready to give all as he did for truth and justice? Many of the examples of the suffering which our saints responded to with compassion are still found here in this city and beyond. And new injustices have arisen: some are complex and stem from the exploitation of the heart and manipulation of the mind; even our common habitat, the earth itself, groans under the weight of consumerist greed and irresponsible exploitation. We must listen deeply. We must respond with a renewed social action that stems from the universal love that knows no bounds. In this way, we ensure that our works of mercy and justice become hope in action for others.

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 18-19.

*******************************************************************************

HOMILY AT THE VOTIVE MASS FOR THE UNIVERSAL CHURCH St Patrick's Cathedral, New York 

Dear brothers and sisters, in the finest traditions of the Church in this country, may you also be the first friend of the poor, the homeless, the stranger, the sick and all who suffer.  Act as beacons of hope, casting the light of Christ upon the world, and encouraging young people to discover the beauty of a life given completely to the Lord and his Church.  I make this plea in a particular way to the many seminarians and young religious present.  All of you have a special place in my heart.  Never forget that you are called to carry on, with all the enthusiasm and joy that the Spirit has given you, a work that others have begun, a legacy that one day you too will have to pass on to a new generation.  Work generously and joyfully, for he whom you serve is the Lord!

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (2041), 23 April 2008, p. 17.

********************************************************************************

DISCORSO AI VESCOVI DEL CAUCASO MERIDIONALE IN VISITA "AD LIMINA APOSTOLORUM" 

Dopo la caduta dell’Unione Sovietica, le vostre popolazioni hanno conosciuto significativi cambiamenti sociali sulla strada del progresso, ma rimangono ancora difficili situazioni: molti sono i poveri, i disoccupati e i rifugiati, che le guerre hanno allontanato dalle loro case, lasciandoli di fatto in balia della precarietà. Le vicende travagliate del secolo scorso non hanno però spento la fiamma del Vangelo che, nel corso delle generazioni, ha trovato nel Caucaso un terreno fertile, pur non essendo mancate contrapposizioni violente, sia interne sia provenienti dall’esterno, che hanno causato molte vittime, tra le quali la Chiesa annovera non pochi martiri della fede.

Cari e venerati Fratelli, il Papa vi sostiene ed è al vostro fianco nella faticosa missione di Pastori del gregge di Cristo che vive nel Caucaso. So quanto zelo vi arda nel cuore e quanti sforzi compiate per diffondere il Vangelo della speranza. Mi colpisce particolarmente l’attenzione che, con differenti attività caritative, riservate alle necessità dei poveri e delle persone in difficoltà, grazie al prezioso contributo di religiosi, religiose e laici. E mi piace sottolineare che tali attività sono svolte con spirito evangelico, nella consapevolezza che “la carità non è per la Chiesa una specie di attività di assistenza sociale che si potrebbe anche lasciare ad altri, ma appartiene alla sua natura, è espressione irrinunciabile della sua stessa essenza” (Deus caritas est, 25). Fate sì che ogni comunità operi sempre con questo spirito. Educate i fedeli tutti a testimoniare con la vita l’amore di Cristo senza secondi fini, perché per il cristiano “l’esercizio della carità non può essere un mezzo al servizio del proselitismo, poiché l’amore è gratuito (ibid., 31). Il vostro compito di educatori alla fede e di Pastori del gregge di Cristo richiede inoltre che tra voi intercorrano rapporti di costante collaborazione improntati a fiducia e reciproco sostengo. Non manchino perciò incontri e momenti per verificare periodicamente i piani pastorali che elaborate, specialmente per la preparazione ai Sacramenti. Tali piani puntino soprattutto alla formazione delle coscienze dei fedeli secondo l’etica evangelica con un’attenzione privilegiata ai giovani.

L’Osservatore Romano, N. 97 (44.837), 25 Aprile 2008.

********************************************************************************

ANGELUS DOMINI, 27 APRIL 2008 

News that arrives from some African countries continues to be a cause of profound suffering and real worry. I ask you not to forget these tragic occurrences and our brothers and sisters who are involved! I ask you to pray for them and to be their voice!

In Somalia, especially at Mogadishu, bitter armed conflicts make the humanitarian situation of that dear population ever more dramatic, oppressed for so many years under the weight of brutality and misery.

Darfur, notwithstanding some momentary glimmers, remains an endless tragedy for hundreds of thousands of defenceless people abandoned to themselves.

Lastly, Burundi. After the bombardments of recent days that struck and terrorized the inhabitants of the Capital of Bujumbura and also reached the Seat of the Apostolic Nunciature, and faced with the risk of a new civil war, I invite all parties involved to begin without delay the way of dialogue and reconciliation.

I trust that the local political Authorities, those responsible for the international community and every person of goodwill will not withhold efforts to make the violence cease and to honour the commitments made in order to build solid foundations for peace and development.

 

L’Osservatore Romano, (English Edition), N. 17 (3.030), 29 April 2008.

 

top