I greet Bishop Franc Kramberger, Pastor of this Church, and I thank him for his words. I also greet the Cardinals, the Slovenian Bishops and the other Bishops who are concelebrating this solemn Eucharist. My greeting also goes to the clergy, to the religious and to all of you, dear faithful of this illustrious Church and of the neighbouring Churches, who have gathered here to pay homage to the new blessed.


I offer a respectful greeting to the President of the Republic and to the civil authorities who have wished to honour us with their presence, thereby adding to the solemnity of this celebration.


2. Today's Gospel, which speaks of the vine and the branches, reminds us that it is only by abiding in Christ that we can bear fruit. In this way Jesus shows us the secret to the holiness of Bishop Anton Martin Slomsek, whom I have the joy of beatifying today.


He was a vine which yielded abundant fruits of Christian holiness, of remarkable cultural richness and of lofty patriotism. This is why he stands before us today as a splendid example of one who put the Gospel into practice.


In the new blessed it is the values of Christian holiness which shine the brightest. In the footsteps of Christ he made himself the Good Samaritan of the Slovenian people. Attentive to the formation needs of the clergy and faithful, with an apostolic zeal that is still an example to us today, he never tired of evangelizing by conducting popular missions, founding numerous confraternities, preaching spiritual exercises and disseminating popular hymns and religious writings. He was a Catholic Pastor in the truest sense of the word, and was entrusted by his ecclesiastical Superiors with important pastoral tasks even in other regions of the State at that time.


Faithful and docile to the Church, Slomsek showed he was profoundly open to ecumenism, and was one of the first in Central Europe to be committed to Christian unity. May his desire for unity stimulate the ecumenical commitment, so that the Christians of this Europe which was so dear to him may cross the threshold of the third millennium "if not completely united, at least closer to overcoming the divisions of the second millennium" (Tertio millennio adveniente, n. 34).


3. The new blessed also paid great attention to culture. Living in the middle of the last century, he was perfectly aware of the importance for the nation's future of the intellectual formation of its inhabitants, especially the young. For this reason, he combined pastoral action with commitment to the promotion of culture, which represents a nation's wealth and is the patrimony of all. Culture is the soil from which a people can draw the necessary elements for their growth and development.


Convinced of this, Slomsek worked to open various schools for young people and saw to the publication of books useful for human and spiritual formation. He warned that if young people were corrupted, the fault could often be traced to the lack of adequate formation. Families, schools and the Church, he taught, must join forces in a serious educational programme, each preserving its own area of autonomy, but all taking account of the values they share.


Only with a sound formation can men and women be prepared to build a world that is open to the perennial values of truth and love.


4. The new blessed was also motivated by deep sentiments of patriotism. He was concerned for the Slovenian language, called for appropriate social reforms, promoted a higher level of national culture and did all he could to have his people occupy an honourable place in the concert of other European nations. And he did this without ever yielding to sentiments of short-sighted nationalism or selfish opposition to the aspirations of neighboring peoples.


The new blessed is offered to you as a model of true patriotism. His projects left a decisive mark on your people's future and made an important contribution to the achievement of independence. In turning my gaze to the beloved region of the Balkans, unfortunately scarred in recent years by conflict and violence, extreme forms of nationalism, cruel ethnic cleansing and wars between peoples and cultures, I would like to call everyone's attention to the witness of this new blessed. He shows that it is possible to be sincere patriots and with equal sincerity to coexist and cooperate with people of other nationalities, other cultures and other religions. May his example and especially his intercession obtain solidarity and genuine peace for all the peoples of this vast area of Europe.


5. Dear brothers and sisters of beloved Slovenia! Follow in the footsteps of your upright and generous compatriot, who longed to know God's will and to fulfil it at any cost. His inner firmness and Gospel optimism were rooted in a strong faith in Christ's victory over sin and evil.


Imitate him, especially you, dear young Slovenians, and like him, do not hesitate to put your young energies at the service of God's kingdom and of your brethren. For you priests, may he be a model of zealous labour and the spirit of sacrifice. For you, responsible lay people, especially those who work in public institutions, may he be an example of honesty, impartial service and the courageous quest for justice and the common good.


Be builders of peace within Europe too! The process of unification to which the continent is committed cannot only be based on economic concerns but must be inspired by those Christian values which are its most ancient and authentic roots. A Europe attentive to the human person and to full respect for his rights: this is the goal for which we must strive! May the old Europe transmit to the new generation the torch of the human and Christian civilization which illumined the steps of our ancestors during the millennium now drawing to a close.

6. In this connection, I invite everyone to pray for the next Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which will be meeting in a few days to reflect on Christ, alive in his Church, source of hope for Europe. It is an important occasion for acquiring a deeper understanding of the particular mission of European peoples in the context of world relations: a Europe, teacher of civilization, which can appreciate the resources that come from West and East.


Here I would like to repeat the prophetic words spoken by Bishop Slomsek during a popular mission: "They say: "The world has grown old; the human race is adrift; Europe is coming to an end'. Well: yes, if we abandon humanity to its natural course, to its fatal direction. No, if the power from on high that is preserved in the religion of Jesus and in his Church is poured out anew on all ranks of the human race and restores them to life".


We can learn this important lesson from Blessed Slomsek. May he, a courageous servant of Christ, help us to be branches of the immortal vine, spreading the Gospel of hope and love everywhere. Amen!



Sunday, 19 September 1999


1. At the end of this solemn Eucharistic celebration, let us offer our prayer to Mary, to whom Anton Martin Slomsek was always very devoted. He turned to her many times during his life. He never ceased to trust in her motherly protection.


Dear Slovenian brothers and sisters! The Blessed Virgin holds an important place in the religious devotion of your people. Many of your hymns speak of her and many lovely churches and chapels are dedicated to her in every corner of your land. Here I would particularly like to mention the three famous Marian Shrines of Sveta Gora, Brezje and Ptujska Gora, where you love to go on pilgrimage to seek refuge in your trials and hardships and to give thanks when your prayers have been heard.

In these centres of deep Marian spirituality, people learn to grow in faith and in the desire to imitate Our Lady in purity and in humble submission to God's will. Mary leads us to Christ, in whom the human family is called to become the family of God's children.


2. In this regard, it is sometimes thought that the human person is a totally autonomous and independent being with no relationship with God, as if he were sufficient unto himself and could draw the necessary energies for his fulfilment from his own reason and the work of his hands. But can the human person truly fulfil himself without God, or even in opposition to him?

The shining example of the Virgin of Nazareth, humble handmaid of the Most High, shows on the contrary that the human being can find his authentic goal in God alone. This is exactly why Blessed Slomsek never tired of teaching that our lives and all social renewal should be rooted in faith.

Brothers and sisters of Slovenia, if you wish to build a society that is a welcoming home for all, make the most of the great gift of faith which came to your homeland more than 1,250 years ago from three cradles of Christianity: Salzburg, Aquileia and Velehrad. Be men and women of faith like Bishop Slomsek!


3. Today we entrust to the Blessed Virgin your city of Maribor, where the new blessed carried out his episcopal ministry. Let us entrust it to her together with the other Dioceses of Slovenia and with your beloved nation.

To her let us dedicate the Pastors, priests, religious, families, children and young people, the hope of the Church and of society, the elderly, the sick and the suffering. May Mary guide you and accompany you, filled with faith, hope and charity, towards the dawn of the now imminent third millennium.



After leading the recitation of the Angelus, the Holy Father greeted the Croatian-speaking faithful:


With great affection I greet the pilgrims from neighbouring Croatia who have wanted to participate in this solemn liturgical celebration. Their presence also gives me the opportunity to recall the innocent victims of wars and totalitarian regimes and, in particular, those who were heaped in the common graves recently discovered near Maribor. May these tragic events never occur again. May God grant the precious gift of peace to Slovenia, to Croatia and to all the countries of Europe and the whole world.







Castel Gandolfo
Sunday, 22 September 2002



Dear Brothers and Sisters,


1. These days in Italy and in many other countries school has begun again following the summer break. It is an important time for a great multitude of children and young people.


Transform the school with a more positive relationship between teachers and students
At times it is said that the school, like the family, is "in crisis". This expression is used to refer to the widespread feeling that this institution, recognized as essentially valid, is in need of a
profound transformation that will make it more responsive to the present needs of society.


However, to achieve this goal, it is not enough to modify programmes and structures. A well-functioning school depends, above all, on the constructive quality of the relation between teachers and students. The students are motivated to give the best of themselves when teachers help them to understand the meaning of what they must study, how it relates to their growth and the world that surrounds them. This is true for all schools, public and private, of all kinds and at all levels.


2. On many occasions, I have repeated that the culture is the foundation of a people's identity. The contribution that the school makes, with the family, and in a way that is subordinate to the family, continues to be indispensable for transmitting the values of the culture. The culture has become more articulated and complex but, really for this reason - when one realizes its impact - the school acquires new importance. Here lies the special responsibility of believers who work in this area.



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12 October 2014