Friday, November 7, 2008

Pope's Address to New Irish Ambassador

"The Church Serves All Members of Society"

VATICAN CITY, SEPT. 16, 2007 ( Here is Benedict XVI's address Saturday upon receiving the letters of credence of the new Irish ambassador to the Holy See, Noel Fahey.

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Your Excellency,

1. It is with particular pleasure that I welcome you to the Vatican and accept the Letters of Credence by which you are appointed Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Ireland to the Holy See. I would ask you kindly to convey to your President, Mrs Mary McAleese, and to the Government and people of your country my gratitude for their good wishes. I warmly reciprocate them and assure the citizens of your nation of my prayers for their spiritual well-being.

2. As Your Excellency has observed, for over sixteen hundred years Christianity has shaped the cultural, moral and spiritual identity of the Irish people. This is not simply a matter of historical importance. It lies at the heart of Irish civilization and it remains as a ‘leaven’ in the life of your nation. Indeed, the Christian faith has lost nothing of its significance for contemporary society since it touches "man’s deepest sphere" and gives "meaning to his life in the world" ("Redemptor Hominis," 10), enabling both civic and religious leaders to uphold the absolute values and ideals inherent in the dignity of every person and necessary for every democracy.

3. In recent years Ireland has enjoyed unprecedented economic growth. This prosperity has undoubtedly brought material comfort to many, but in its wake secularism has also begun to encroach and leave its mark. Against the backdrop of these developments, I was interested to learn of the recent launch of a ‘structured dialogue’ between the Church and the Government. I applaud the initiative. Some might question whether the Church is entitled to make a contribution to the governance of a nation. In a pluralist democratic society should not faith and religion be restricted to the private sphere? The historical rise of brutal totalitarian regimes, contemporary scepticism in the face of political rhetoric, and a growing uneasiness with the lack of ethical points of reference governing recent scientific advances -- one need only think of the field of bio-engineering -- all point to the imperfections and limitations found within both individuals and society. Recognition of those imperfections indicates the importance of a rediscovery of moral and ethical principles, and the need both to recognize the limits of reason and to understand its essential relationship of complementarity with faith and religion.

The Church, in articulating revealed truth, serves all members of society by shedding light on the foundation of morality and ethics, and by purifying reason, ensuring that it remains open to the consideration of ultimate truths and draws upon wisdom. Far from threatening the tolerance of differences or cultural plurality, or usurping the role of the State, such a contribution illuminates the very truth which makes consensus possible and keeps public debate rational, honest and accountable. When truth is disregarded, relativism takes its place: instead of being governed by principles, political choices are determined more and more by public opinion, values are overshadowed by procedures and targets, and indeed the very categories of good and evil, and right and wrong, give way to the pragmatic calculation of advantage and disadvantage.

4. The Northern Ireland Peace Process has been a long and arduous endeavour. At last, there is hope that it will bear enduring fruit. Peace has been achieved through widespread international support, determined political resolve on the part of both the Irish and the British Governments, and the readiness of individuals and communities to embrace the sublime human capacity to forgive. The entire international human family has taken heart from this outcome and welcomes this wave of hope sent across the world that conflict, no matter how engrained, can be overcome. It is my fervent prayer that the peace which is already bringing renewal to the North will inspire political and religious leaders in other troubled zones of our world to recognize that only upon forgiveness, reconciliation and mutual respect can lasting peace be built. To this end, I welcome your own Government’s commitment to deploy both experience and resources in the prevention and resolution of conflict, as well as its pledge to increase various forms of assistance to developing countries.

5. Your Excellency, like many nations around the globe, Ireland has in recent years made care of the environment one of its priorities in both domestic policy and international relations. The promotion of sustainable development and particular attention to climate change are indeed matters of grave importance for the entire human family, and no nation or business sector should ignore them. As scientific research demonstrates the worldwide effects that human actions can have on the environment, the complexity of the vital relationship between the ecology of the human person and the ecology of nature becomes increasingly apparent (cf. "Message for the 2007 World Day of Peace," 8).

The full understanding of this relationship is found in the natural and moral order with which God has created man and endowed the earth (ibid., 8-9). Curiously, while the majesty of God’s fingers in creation (cf. Ps 8:3) is readily recognized, the full acknowledgement of the glory and splendour with which he has specifically crowned man (cf. Ps 8:5) is at times less readily understood. A kind of split morality ensues. The great and vital moral themes of peace, non-violence, justice, and respect for creation do not in themselves confer dignity on man. The primary dimension of morality stems from the innate dignity of human life ) from the moment of conception to natural death ) a dignity conferred by God himself. God’s loving act of creation must be understood as a whole. How disturbing it is that not infrequently the very social and political groups that, admirably, are most attuned to the awe of God’s creation pay scant attention to the marvel of life in the womb. Let us hope that, especially among young people, emerging interest in the environment will deepen their understanding of the proper order and magnificence of God’s creation of which man and woman stand at the centre and summit.

6. Your Excellency, I am sure that your appointment will further strengthen the bonds of friendship which already exist between Ireland and the Holy See. As you take up your new responsibilities you will find that the various offices of the Roman Curia are most ready to assist you in the fulfilment of your duties. Upon you, your family and your fellow citizens I cordially invoke the abundant blessings of Almighty God.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Papal Message on Cardinal Van Thuân

"We Remember Him With Great Admiration"

CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 17, 2007 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today when he received in audience at Castel Gandolfo the officials and collaborators of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the death of Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân.

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Venerated Brothers in the Episcopacy and Priesthood,
Dear brothers and sisters!

I cordially welcome all of you, gathered to remember Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, who the Lord called to himself five years ago on Sept. 16. Five years have passed, but the noble figure of this faithful servant of the Lord is still alive in our hearts and minds. I too have many personal memories of the meetings I had with him during his years of service here, in the Roman Curia.

I greet Cardinal Renato Raffaele Martino and Bishop Giampaolo Crepaldi, respectively the president and secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, together with their collaborators. I greet the members of the St. Matthew Foundation established in memory of Cardinal Van Thuân, of the International Observatory, which bears his name, created to spread the Church's social doctrine, along with the relatives and friends of the deceased cardinal. To Cardinal Martino I express lively sentiments of gratitude for his greeting in the name of all those present.

I gladly take this occasion to recall, once more, the luminous witness of faith that this heroic pastor left us. Bishop Francis Xavier -- as he liked to introduce himself -- was called to the house of the Father during the autumn of 2002, after a long period of sickness that he faced with total abandonment to God's will. Years before he had been named by my venerable predecessor John Paul II as vice president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, of which he was later named president, setting in motion the publication of the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church.

How can we forget the outstanding marks of his simple and quick cordiality? How can we not highlight his ability to dialogue and to become everyone's neighbor? We remember him with great admiration, while recalling the great visions, full of hope, which animated him and which he knew how to propose in an easy and riveting way; his fervent effort to spread the Church's social doctrine among the world's poor, how he yearned for the evangelization of his continent, Asia, the ability he had to coordinate the activities of charity and human promotion that he promoted and sustained in the remotest corners of the earth.

Cardinal Van Thuân was a man of hope; he lived hope and spread it among everyone he met. It was because of this spiritual energy that he resisted all his physical and moral difficulties. Hope sustained him as a bishop when he was isolated for 13 years from his diocesan community; hope helped him to see beyond the absurdity of the events that happened to him -- he was never put on trial during his long imprisonment -- a providential plan of God. The news of his sickness, a tumor, which led to his death, reached him almost at the same time as his elevation to cardinal by John Paul II, who held him in great esteem and affection. Cardinal Van Thuân loved to repeat that the Christian is a man of hour, of the now, beginning from the present moment to welcome and live with Christ's love. In this ability to live the present moment his intimate abandonment in God’s hands shines through as does the evangelical simplicity which we all admired in him. Is it possible -- he would ask -- that he who trusts in the Father would refuse to let himself be embraced in his arms?

Dear brothers and sisters I welcomed with profound joy the news that the cause for beatification of this singular prophet of Christian hope has begun and, while we entrust this chosen soul to the Lord, we pray that his example will be for us a valuable teaching. With that, I bless you all from my heart.

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