After praying the Angelus the Holy Father said:
Once again - and with great sadness - I am forced to recall the tragic situation in the Holy Land, where every day repeated attacks and reprisals sow blood and death.
There is no way out of this perverse logic and it is painful to see how the leaders of the conflict have gone down a blind alley.
May God, through the intercession of the Virgin Mary, enlighten the mind and heart of every person of good will!
I also assure my spiritual closeness to the peoples struck by the fury unleashed by the Nyiragongo Volcano, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, that has once again become active, erupting with unheard of violence. Let us bring concrete assistance to all who are suffering because of this great disaster!
JOHN PAUL II
World Day of Migrants
1. Today, the entire Church is celebrating the "World Day of Migrants and Refugees". In the Message for this occasion I wanted to underline the importance of the integration among peoples that requires the proper balance between the assertion of one's own identity and the recognition of the identity of others.
I address my cordial greeting to all migrants and I hope that dialogue will help to develop sympathy and understanding among the different cultures.
I invite every community to make meaningful gestures of outreach and ecumenical dialogue and to implore God for the gift of the full unity of all Christ's disciples.
3. Let us entrust these important ecclesial events to Mary Most Holy. May her motherly intercession help Christians to form one heart and mind (cf. Acts 4: 32) and help all human beings to grow in solidarity in order to build a world of peace.
I wish everyone a good Sunday!
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Blessed Pope John Paul II, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
St Peter's Square
Thank you. Dear Brothers and Sisters, let us pray the Angelus together,
Two days ago we began the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, during which Catholics, Orthodox, Anglicans and Protestants, knowing that their divisions are an obstacle to the acceptance of the Gospel, implore the Lord together in a more intense way for the gift of full communion. This providential initiative was born 100 years ago, when Fr Paul Wattson introduced the "Octave" of Prayer for the unity of all Christ's disciples. For this reason, among many of you are Fr Wattson's spiritual sons and daughters, Brothers and Sisters of the Atonement, here in St Peter's Square today; I greet them cordially and encourage them to persevere in their special dedication to the cause of unity. We all have the duty to pray and work to overcome every division among Christians in response to Christ's desire "Ut unum sint". Prayer, conversion of heart and strengthening the bonds of communion constitute the essence of this spiritual movement that we hope will soon lead Christ's disciples to the common celebration of the Eucharist, a manifestation of their unity.
This year's biblical theme is significant: "Pray without ceasing" (I Thessalonians 5: 17). St Paul addressed the community of Thessalonica, which was experiencing inner disputes and conflicts, in order to appeal forcefully for certain fundamental attitudes, among which stands out ceaseless prayer. With this invitation, he wanted to make people understand that the capacity to overcome all selfishness, to live together in peace and fraternal union and for each one to bear the burdens and suffering of others comes from new life in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. We must never tire of praying for Christian unity! When Jesus prayed at the Last Supper that "they may all be one", he had a precise goal in mind: "so that the world may believe" (John 17: 21). The Church's evangelizing mission thus passes along the ecumenical road, the journey of unity of faith, Gospel witness and genuine brotherhood.
This Friday, 25 January, as I do every year, I shall be going to the Basilica of St Paul Outside-the-Walls to conclude the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity with solemn Vespers. I invite Romans and pilgrims to join with me and the Christians of the Churches and Ecclesial Communities that will be taking part in the celebration to ask God for the precious gift of reconciliation among all the baptized. May the holy Mother of God, whose apparition to Alphonse Ratisbonne in the Church of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte we are commemorating today, obtain from the Lord an abundance of the Holy Spirit for all his disciples, so that together we may reach perfect unity and thus offer the witness of faith and life that the world urgently needs.
After the Angelus:
I would now like first of all to greet the young university students who are many - thank you for your presence -, teachers and all of you who have come today in such great numbers to St Peter's Square in order to take part in the prayer of the Angelus and to express your solidarity to me; it is wonderful to see a communal solidarity of faith: thank you for this. I also extend a greeting to the many others who are united to us in spirit; I thank the Cardinal Vicar who promoted this meeting. As you know, I very willingly accepted the courteous invitation extended to me to speak last Thursday at the inauguration of the academic year of "La Sapienza-University of Rome", and I worked joyfully on my Address. I am well acquainted with this Athenaeum, I think highly of it and am fond of the students who attend it: every year, on various occasions, many of them come to meet me at the Vatican, together with their colleagues from other universities. Unfortunately, the atmosphere that had been built up made my presence at the ceremony inappropriate, as is well known. I postponed the Visit in spite of my wishes, but desired nevertheless to send the Text I had prepared for this occasion in the days after Christmas. I am attached to the university environment, which was my own world for many years, by love for the search for the truth, by comparison, by the frank and respectful dialogue between reciprocal positions. All this is also the mission of the Church, which is committed to faithfully following Jesus, Teacher of life, truth and love. As an emeritus professor, so to speak, who has met so many students in his life, I encourage you all, dear university students and teachers, always to show respect for the opinions of others and to seek goodness and truth in a free and responsible spirit. I renew the expression of my gratitude to each and every one, assuring you of my affection and prayers.
I am happy to greet all the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors present for this Angelus. Today’s Gospel presents the figure of John the Baptist who proclaims Jesus as the Chosen One of God. It is Christ, anointed with the Holy Spirit, who brings forgiveness of sins and the gift of new life. May we welcome this gift and strive with courage to follow in the footsteps of our Saviour.
I wish you all a pleasant stay in Rome, and a blessed Sunday!
St Peter's Square
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday is World Day of Migrants and Refugees, which every year invites us to reflect on the experience of numerous men and women and a great many families who leave their homeland in search of a better standard of living.
Migration is sometimes voluntary and at other times, unfortunately, is forcefully imposed by war or persecution and often happens — as we know — in dramatic circumstances. The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was set up 60 years ago for this reason.
On the Feast of the Holy Family, straight after Christmas, we recalled that Jesus’ parents were also obliged to flee from their country and seek refuge in Egypt, to save the life of their Child: the Messiah, the Son of God was a refugee.
The Church herself has always experienced migration internally. Unfortunately, Christians at times feel forced, with distress, to leave their land, thereby impoverishing the countries in which their ancestors lived.
Yet the voluntary moving of Christians, for various reasons, from one city to another, from one country to another, from one continent to another, is an opportunity to increase the missionary drive of the Word of God. It ensures a broader circulation of the witness of faith within the Mystical Body of Christ through peoples and cultures, reaching new frontiers and new environments.
“One human family”: this is the theme of the Message I wrote for this Day. It is a theme that indicates the purpose, the destination of humanity’s great journey through the centuries: to form one family, with, of course, all the differences that enrich it but without boundaries, recognizing each one as a brother or sister.
This is what the Second Vatican Council affirmed: “All men form but one community. This is so because all stem from the one stock which God created to people the entire earth” (Declaration on the Relation of the Church to Non-Christian Religions, Nostra Aetate, n. 1).
The Church, the Council stated further, “is in the nature of sacrament — a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men” (Constitution, Lumen Gentium, n. 1).
It is therefore fundamentally important — although they are scattered across the world and thus have different cultures and traditions — that Christians be one, as the Lord desired.
This is the aim of the “Week of Prayer for Christian Unity” that will take place in the next few days, from 18 to 25 January. This year it is inspired by a passage from the Acts of the Apostles: “They devoted themselves to the Apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:42).
The Octave for Christian Unity is preceded, tomorrow, by the Day for Jewish-Christian Dialogue. This significant juxtaposition calls to mind the importance of the common roots that unite Jews and Christians.
As we address the prayer of the Angelus to the Virgin Mary, let us entrust to her protection all migrants and all those who are dedicated to pastoral work among them.
May Mary, Mother of the Church also obtain for us that we may progress on our journey towards the full communion of all Christ’s disciples.
After the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, as you know, next 1 May I shall have the joy of beatifying my beloved Predecessor, Venerable Pope John Paul II. The date chosen is deeply meaningful: it will in fact be the Second Sunday of Easter, which he himself entitled Divine Mercy Sunday, on the eve of which his life on earth ended. Those who knew him, those who esteemed and loved him, cannot but rejoice with the Church in this event. We are glad!
I would like to assure the populations of Australia, Brazil, the Philippines and Sri Lanka, recently hit by devastating floods, of my special remembrance in prayer. May the Lord welcome the souls of the dead, give strength to the evacuees and sustain the commitment of all the people who are doing their utmost to alleviate the suffering and hardship.
To all the English-speaking visitors and pilgrims here today, I extend heartfelt greetings. On Tuesday next we begin the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity. I invite all of you to join me in praying earnestly for the gift of unity among the followers of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Upon all who are here today, and upon your families and loved ones at home, I invoke God’s abundant Blessings.
I wish you all a good Sunday.
Acknowledgment: We thank the Vatican Publisher for allowing us to publish the Homilies of Pope Benedict XVI, so that it could be accessed by more people all over the world; as a source of God’s encouragements to all of us.
26 January 2014