Tight Security During Pope's Audience
Dear brothers and sisters,
I wish today to turn my thoughts back to various moments of my pastoral voyage to Bavaria, which thw Lord allowed me to fulfill last week. In sharing with you the emotions and sentiments that I felt revisiting the places that are dear to me, I feel above all that I must thank God for having allowed me this second visit to my country and my first to Bavaria, the land of my origin.
I am sincerely grateful to all - bishops, priests, pastoral workers, public authorities, organizers and volunteers - who worked with dedication and patience so that each event could take place in the best possible way.
As I said at my arrival in Munich on Saturday, September 9, the purpose of my visit was, in remembering how much my homeland contributed to my personality, to reaffirm and confirm, as the Successor to Peter, the close bonds that unite the Holy See and the Church in Germany.
The trip was therefore not a simple return to the past but a providential occasion to look at the future with hope. "He who believes is not alone", the motto for the visit, came to mean an invitation to reflect on how every baptized person belongs to the only Church of Christ, within which one is never alone but in constant communion with God and all our brothers.
The first stage of my trip was the city of Munich, also called the 'city with a heart' (Weltstadt mit Herz). In its historic center is the Marienplatz, Mary's Square, with Mary's column, crowned on top with a bronze statue of the Madonna.
I wished to start my Bavarian sojourn with a homage to the Patroness of Bavaria, in a place which has had great significance for me. It was there in that place and before that Marian image, where almost 30 years ago,when I was welcomed as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, I began my episcopal mission
with a prayer to Mary. I returned there at the end of my tenure as Archbishop, before leaving for Rome.
This time, I wanted to go back to pray at the Mariensauele to implore the intercession and the blessing of the mother of God
not only for Munich and Bavaria, but for all the Church and the whole world.
The next day, Sunday, I celebrated the Holy Mass in the open area adjoining Munich's New Fair grounds among the faithful who came from various parts of Germany. On the basis of the Gospel text for that day, I reminded everyone that there is a 'deafness to God' from which we suffer particularly today.
It is our task as Christians in a secularized world to proclaim and be witness to the message of hope that our faith offers us: in the crucified Jesus, God the merciful Father calls on us to be His sons and to overcome every form of hate and violence in order to contribute to the definitive victory of love.
"Make yourselves strong in the faith" was the theme of my encounter in the afternoon with First Communicants of Munich and their families and catechists, as well as pastoral workers and others who do pastoral work together in the archdiocese of Monaco
Together we celebrated Vespers at the famous Liebfraauendom, the Cathedral of our Beloved Lady, which houses the relics of St. Benno, patron of Munich, and where I was ordained a bishop in 1977.
I reminded both children and adults, that God is not far form us, in some unreachable part of teh universe. That, on the contrary, through Jesus, He came to us to establish with each of us a friendship.
Every Christian community, and the parish in particular, thanks to the constant commitment of its members, is called on to be a great family able to walk together along the path of true life.
Monday, September 11, was spent mostly in Altoetting, diocese of Passau. This little city is known as Herz Bayerns, the heart of Bavaria, where the Black Madonna is venerated at the Gnadenkapelle (Chapel of Mercy), the object of numerous pilgrimages from Germany and central Europe.
Near it is the Capuchin convent of St. Anne, where St. Konrad Birndorfer lived. He was canonized in 1934 by my venerated predecessor Pius XI.
With the many faithful who attended Holy Mass at the Square in front of the Shrine to Our Lady, we reflected on the role of Mary in the work of salvation, so e may learn from her the lesson of goodness through service, and the humility and generous acceptance of divine will.
Mary leads us to Jesus. This truth was made even more visible after the divine Sacrifice, in the procession with which, carrying the statue of the Medonna, we proceeded to the new Ambetungskappelle (Chapel of Adoration), inaugurated on this occasion.
Finally, the day closed with solemn Marian Vespers at the Basilica of St. Anne, in the presence of all the religious orders and seminarians in Bavaria, as well as members of the Opera per la Vocazione (Works for Vocations)
The following day, in Regensburg, whose diocese was established by St. Boniface in 739 and has as its patron anotther Bavarian saint, Bishop Wolfgang, there were three important events.
In the morning, at the mass in Islinger Field, we reflected once more on the theme of the visit, on the symbol of the faith.
God who is our Father wishes to gather together, through Jesus Christ, all of mankind in one family, the Church. That is why he who believes is never alone. He who believes need not fear coming to a dead end from which there is no way out.
In the afternoon, I was at the Cathedral of Regensbirg, famous for its boys' choir, the Domspatzen (sparrows of the Cathedral) which has more than a thousand years of history and was under the direction of my brother Georg for more than 30 years.
There, we held Ecumenical Vespers, with the participation of many representatives from the different churches and ecclesiastical communities of Bavaria and the members of the Ecumenical Commission of the German bishops conference.
It was a providential occasion to pray together for the day to come nearer for full unity among all the disciples of Christ, and to reiterate our obligation to proclaim our faith in Jesus Christ without diminution, but in an integral and clear manner, above all, by our own behavior in showing sincere love.
An experience that was particularly beautiful for me that day was to deliver the opening lecture of the academic year before an audience of professors and students at the University of Regensburg, where I taught as a profesor for several years.
It was with joy that I found myself once more in the university world, which for a long period of my life, had been my spiritual homeland.
I chose as my theme the relationship between faith and reason. To introduce the audience to the drama and the actual relevance of this issue, I quoted some words from a dialog between a Christian and a Muslim in the 15th century. In it, the Byzantine emperor Manuel II Paleologos - in a manner that for us was incomprehensibly blunt - presented to his Muslim interlocutor the problem of the relation between religion and violence.
The quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to being misunderstood. For the attentive reader of my text, however, it would be clear that I never inteded to make mine the words pronounced by the medieval emperor in that dialog, and that its polemical content is not my personal conviction.
My intention was altogether different. Tking off from what Manuel II himself said subsequently in a positive way, with a beautiful sentence about the rationality that should guide the transmission of faith, I wished to show that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together.
The topic of my lecture, corresponding to the mission of a university, was therefore the relation between faith and reason. I wished to invite a dialog of the Christian faith with the modern world and a dialog among all cutlrues and religions.
I hope that in various occasions during my visit - for instance, in Monaco, where I underscored how important it is to respect what is sacred to others - had made clear my profound respect for the great religions, particularly that of Muslims, who "adore the one God" and with whom we are committed to "defend and promote together, for all men, social justice, moral values, peace and freedom. (Nostro Aetate, 3).
I trust therefore that after the initial reactions, my words at the Unviersity of Regensburg could constitute an impulse and an encouragement for a positive dialog, even self-critical, among religions as well as beween modern reason and the faith of Christians.
The following morning, Wednesday, September 13, I presided over a brief liturgy to inaugurate a new organ in the Alte Kapelle (Old Chapel) of Regensburg, which houses a miraculous image of the Virgin painted, according to tradition, by St. Luke himself.
Taking note of the structure of an organ which is formed out of tubes of different diameters - but all well harmonized, I recalled the need for all the bishops and all who work together in the ecclesiastical community, to converge, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, for the single harmony in praise of God and of love for our fellowmen.
The last stage, Thursday, September 14, was in the city of Freising, to which I feel particularly linked because I weas ordained a priest right in the Cathedral of Freising, dedicated to the Most Holy Mary and to St. Corbinian, the evangelist of Bavaria.
In the Cathedral I had my last scheduled meeting, that with the priests and permanent deacons of the diocese. Reliving the emotions of my own ordination, I reminded my fellow priests of the duty to work with God to inspire more vocations, and called on them to develop an i,ner life as a pastoral priority so as never to lose touch with Christ, the source of joy in the daily efforts of ministry.
In the departure ceremony, thanking once more all who had worked to make the visit possible, I reaffirmed its ultimate purpose: to bring the attention of my fellow Bavarians once more to the eternal truths of the Gospel and confirm among the faithful their adherence to Christ, Son of God incarnate, who died and resurrected for us.
May Mary, Mother of the Church, help us to open our hearts and minds to Him who is "the Way, the Truth and the Life" (Jn 14,16). For this I prayed, and for this I invite all of you, dear brothers and sisters, to continue to pray, as I thank you from the heart for the affection with which you accompany me daily in my ministry. I thank you all.
Later, he said this in English:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Today I wish to share some recollections of my pastoral visit to Bavaria. More than a journey to my roots, it was an opportunity to look forward with hope. Under the motto "those who believe are never alone" I invited all to reflect on the baptized person’s membership in the Church where, never alone, one is in constant communion with God and others.
In Munich’s central square, I implored the Virgin’s blessing upon the whole world. The following day I spoke of a certain difficulty in hearing God in a secular world which needs so much the Gospel’s message of hope.
At Altötting we reflected on Mary’s generosity in accepting God’s will, recalling how she guides us towards Jesus.
Returning to the theme of the visit, I noted in Regensburg that the Father wishes to gather all humanity into one family, the Church.
Here, at the University where for many years I had taught, I spoke on the relationship between faith and reason. I included a quotation on the relationship between religion and violence.
This quotation, unfortunately, lent itself to possible misunderstanding. In no way did I wish to make my own the words of the medieval emperor. I wished to explain that not religion and violence, but religion and reason, go together.
I hope that my profound respect for world religions and for Muslims, who "worship the one God" and with whom we "promote peace, liberty, social justice and moral values for the benefit of all humanity" (Nostra Aetate, 3), is clear. Let us continue the dialogue both between religions and between modern reason and the Christian faith!
I warmly welcome all the English-speaking pilgrims present today. In particular, I greet the members of the Society of Missionaries of Africa and the pilgrims from Samoa. Upon you all, I invoke God’s abundant blessings.
From Papa Ratzi Forum and Papacy and the Vatican.