Thursday, January 21, 2010

Blessing the Lambs

On the Feast of St Agnes, Pope Benedict blesses two lambs reared by Trappist monks from which the wool to make archbishops' pallia will be shorn. On 29th June, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, each pallium will be presented to those metropolitan archbishops appointed in the year since the previous ceremony.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A New Statue for St Peter's

Pope Benedict XVI blesses the statue of St Raffaella Maria Porras y Ayllon, founder of the Spanish religious order the Sisters of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, outside St Peter's Basilica.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Historic Visit of the Holy Father to the Synagogue of Rome

Address of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI

"What marvels the Lord worked for them!
What marvels the Lord worked for us:
Indeed we were glad" (Ps 126)

"How good and how pleasant it is
when brothers live in unity" (Ps 133)

Dear Chief Rabbi of the Jewish Community of Rome,
President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities,
President of the Jewish Community of Rome,
Distinguished Authorities,
Friends, Brothers and Sisters,

1. At the beginning of this encounter in the Great Synagogue of the Jews of Rome, the Psalms which we have heard suggest to us the right spiritual attitude in which to experience this particular and happy moment of grace: the praise of the Lord, who has worked marvels for us and has gathered us in his Hèsed, his merciful love, and thanksgiving to him for granting us this opportunity to come together to strengthen the bonds which unite us and to continue to travel together along the path of reconciliation and fraternity. I wish to express first of all my sincere gratitude to you, Chief Rabbi, Doctor Riccardo Di Segni, for your invitation and for the thoughtful words which you have addressed to me. I wish to thank also the President of the Union of Italian Jewish Communities, Mr Renzo Gattegna, and the President of the Jewish Community of Rome, Mr Riccardo Pacifici, for their courteous greetings. My thoughts go to the Authorities and to all present, and they extend in a special way, to the entire Jewish Community of Rome and to all who have worked to bring about this moment of encounter and friendship which we now share.

When he came among you for the first time, as a Christian and as Pope, my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II, almost 24 years ago, wanted to make a decisive contribution to strengthening the good relations between our two communities, so as to overcome every misconception and prejudice. My visit forms a part of the journey already begun, to confirm and deepen it. With sentiments of heartfelt appreciation, I come among you to express to you the esteem and the affection which the Bishop and the Church of Rome, as well as the entire Catholic Church, have towards this Community and all Jewish communities around the world.

2. The teaching of the Second Vatican Council has represented for Catholics a clear landmark to which constant reference is made in our attitude and our relations with the Jewish people, marking a new and significant stage. The Council gave a strong impetus to our irrevocable commitment to pursue the path of dialogue, fraternity and friendship, a journey which has been deepened and developed in the last forty years, through important steps and significant gestures. Among them, I should mention once again the historic visit by my Venerable Predecessor to this Synagogue on 13 April 1986, the numerous meetings he had with Jewish representatives, both here in Rome and during his Apostolic Visits throughout the world, the Jubilee Pilgrimage which he made to the Holy Land in the year 2000, the various documents of the Holy See which, following the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Nostra Aetate, have made helpful contributions to the increasingly close relations between Catholics and Jews. I too, in the course of my Pontificate, have wanted to demonstrate my closeness to and my affection for the people of the Covenant. I cherish in my heart each moment of the pilgrimage that I had the joy of making to the Holy Land in May of last year, along with the memories of numerous meetings with Jewish Communities and Organizations, in particular my visits to the Synagogues of Cologne and New York.

Furthermore, the Church has not failed to deplore the failings of her sons and daughters, begging forgiveness for all that could in any way have contributed to the scourge of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism (cf. Commission for Religious Relations with the Jews, We Remember: A Reflection on the Shoah, 16 March 1998). May these wounds be healed forever! The heartfelt prayer which Pope John Paul II offered at the Western Wall on 26 March 2000 comes back to my mind, and it calls forth a profound echo in our hearts: "God of our Fathers, you chose Abraham and his descendants to bring your Name to the nations: we are deeply saddened by the behaviour of those who in the course of history have caused these children of yours to suffer, and asking your forgiveness we wish to commit ourselves to genuine brotherhood with the people of the Covenant."

3. The passage of time allows us to recognize in the Twentieth Century a truly tragic period for humanity: ferocious wars that sowed destruction, death and suffering like never before; frightening ideologies, rooted in the idolatry of man, of race, and of the State, which led to brother killing brother. The singular and deeply disturbing drama of the Shoah represents, as it were, the most extreme point on the path of hatred that begins when man forgets his Creator and places himself at the centre of the universe. As I noted during my visit of 28 May 2006 to the Auschwitz Concentration camp, which is still profoundly impressed upon my memory, "the rulers of the Third Reich wanted to crush the entire Jewish people", and, essentially, "by wiping out this people, they intended to kill the God who called Abraham, who spoke on Sinai and laid down principles to serve as a guide for mankind, principles that remain eternally valid" (Discourse at Auschwitz-Birkenau Concentration Camp: The Teachings of Pope Benedict XVI, II, 1 [2006], p.727).

Here in this place, how could we not remember the Roman Jews who were snatched from their homes, before these very walls, and who with tremendous brutality were killed at Auschwitz? How could one ever forget their faces, their names, their tears, the desperation faced by these men, women and children? The extermination of the people of the Covenant of Moses, at first announced, then systematically programmed and put into practice in Europe under the Nazi regime, on that day tragically reached as far as Rome. Unfortunately, many remained indifferent, but many, including Italian Catholics, sustained by their faith and by Christian teaching, reacted with courage, often at risk of their lives, opening their arms to assist the Jewish fugitives who were being hunted down, and earning perennial gratitude. The Apostolic See itself provided assistance, often in a hidden and discreet way.

The memory of these events compels us to strengthen the bonds that unite us so that our mutual understanding, respect and acceptance may always increase.

4. Our closeness and spiritual fraternity find in the Holy Bible - in Hebrew Sifre Qodesh or "Book of Holiness" – their most stable and lasting foundation, which constantly reminds us of our common roots, our history and the rich spiritual patrimony that we share. It is in pondering her own mystery that the Church, the People of God of the New Covenant, discovers her own profound bond with the Jews, who were chosen by the Lord before all others to receive his word (cf. Catechism of the Catholic Church, 839). "The Jewish faith, unlike other non-Christian religions, is already a response to God’s revelation in the Old Covenant. To the Jews ‘belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship, and the promises; to them belong the patriarchs and of their race, according to the flesh is the Christ’ (Rom 9:4-5), ‘for the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable!’ (Rom 11:29)" (Ibid).

5. Many lessons may be learnt from our common heritage derived from the Law and the Prophets. I would like to recall some of them: first of all, the solidarity which binds the Church to the Jewish people "at the level of their spiritual identity", which offers Christians the opportunity to promote "a renewed respect for the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament" (cf. Pontifical Biblical Commission, The Jewish people and their Sacred Scriptures in the Christian Bible, 2001, pp.12 and 55); the centrality of the Decalogue as a common ethical message of permanent value for Israel, for the Church, for non-believers and for all of humanity; the task of preparing or ushering in the Kingdom of the Most High in the "care for creation" entrusted by God to man for him to cultivate and to care for responsibly (cf. Gen 2:15).

6. In particular, the Decalogue – the "Ten Words" or Ten Commandments (cf. Ex 20:1-17; Dt 5:1-21) – which comes from the Torah of Moses, is a shining light for ethical principles, hope and dialogue, a guiding star of faith and morals for the people of God, and it also enlightens and guides the path of Christians. It constitutes a beacon and a norm of life in justice and love, a "great ethical code" for all humanity. The "Ten Commandments" shed light on good and evil, on truth and falsehood, on justice and injustice, and they match the criteria of every human person’s right conscience. Jesus himself recalled this frequently, underlining the need for active commitment in living the way of the Commandments: "If you wish to enter into life, observe the Commandments" (Mt 19:17). From this perspective, there are several possible areas of cooperation and witness. I would like to recall three that are especially important for our time.

The "Ten Commandments" require that we recognize the one Lord, against the temptation to construct other idols, to make golden calves. In our world there are many who do not know God or who consider him superfluous, without relevance for their lives; hence, other new gods have been fabricated to whom man bows down. Reawakening in our society openness to the transcendent dimension, witnessing to the one God, is a precious service which Jews and Christians can offer together.

The "Ten Commandments" call us to respect life and to protect it against every injustice and abuse, recognizing the worth of each human person, created in the image and likeness of God. How often, in every part of the world, near and far, the dignity, the freedom and the rights of human beings are trampled upon! Bearing witness together to the supreme value of life against all selfishness, is an important contribution to a new world where justice and peace reign, a world marked by that "shalom" which the lawgivers, the prophets and the sages of Israel longed to see.

The "Ten Commandments" call us to preserve and to promote the sanctity of the family, in which the personal and reciprocal, faithful and definitive "Yes" of man and woman makes room for the future, for the authentic humanity of each, and makes them open, at the same time, to the gift of new life. To witness that the family continues to be the essential cell of society and the basic environment in which human virtues are learned and practised is a precious service offered in the construction of a world with a more human face.

7. As Moses taught in the Shema (cf. Dt 6:5; Lev 19:34) – and as Jesus reaffirms in the Gospel (cf. Mk 12:19-31), all of the Commandments are summed up in the love of God and loving-kindness towards one’s neighbour. This Rule urges Jews and Christians to exercise, in our time, a special generosity towards the poor, towards women and children, strangers, the sick, the weak and the needy. In the Jewish tradition there is a wonderful saying of the Fathers of Israel: "Simon the Just often said: The world is founded on three things: the Torah, worship, and acts of mercy" (Avoth 1:2). In exercising justice and mercy, Jews and Christians are called to announce and to bear witness to the coming Kingdom of the Most High, for which we pray and work in hope each day.

8. On this path we can walk together, aware of the differences that exist between us, but also aware of the fact that when we succeed in uniting our hearts and our hands in response to the Lord’s call, his light comes closer and shines on all the peoples of the world. The progress made in the last forty years by the International Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations and, in more recent years, by the Mixed Commission of the Chief Rabbinate of Israel and of the Holy See, are a sign of our common will to continue an open and sincere dialogue. Tomorrow here in Rome, in fact, the Mixed Commission will hold its ninth meeting, on "Catholic and Jewish Teaching on Creation and the Environment"; we wish them a profitable dialogue on such a timely and important theme.

9. Christians and Jews share to a great extent a common spiritual patrimony, they pray to the same Lord, they have the same roots, and yet they often remain unknown to each other. It is our duty, in response to God’s call, to strive to keep open the space for dialogue, for reciprocal respect, for growth in friendship, for a common witness in the face of the challenges of our time, which invite us to cooperate for the good of humanity in this world created by God, the Omnipotent and Merciful.

10. Finally, I offer a particular reflection on this, our city of Rome, where, for nearly two millennia, as Pope John Paul II said, the Catholic Community with its Bishop and the Jewish Community with its Chief Rabbi have lived side by side. May this proximity be animated by a growing fraternal love, expressed also in closer cooperation, so that we may offer a valid contribution to solving the problems and difficulties that we still face.

I beg from the Lord the precious gift of peace in the world, above all in the Holy Land. During my pilgrimage there last May, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, I prayed to Him who can do all things, asking: "Send your peace upon this Holy Land, upon the Middle East, upon the entire human family; stir the hearts of those who call upon your name, to walk humbly in the path of justice and compassion" (Prayer at the Western Wall of Jerusalem, 12 May 2009).

I give thanks and praise to God once again for this encounter, asking him to strengthen our fraternal bonds and to deepen our mutual understanding.

"O praise the Lord, all you nations,
acclaim him, all you peoples.
Strong is his love for us,
He is faithful forever.
Alleluia" (Ps 117)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Disaster in Haiti

The Most Reverend Joseph Serge Miot, the archbishop of Port-au-Prince, pictured with Pope Benedict XVI. The Archbishop was found dead among the ruins of the archdiocese's office in the Haitian capital. Thousands - if not tens or hundreds of thousands - are feared to have perished in the disaster.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Papal Address to those Diplomats Accredited to the Holy See

Your Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

This traditional meeting at the beginning of the year, two weeks after the celebration of the birth of the Incarnate Word, is a very joyful occasion for me. As we proclaimed in the liturgy: "We recognize in Christ the revelation of your love. No eye can see his glory as our God, yet now he is seen as one like us. Christ is your Son before all ages, yet now he is born in time. He has come to lift up all things to himself, to restore unity to creation" (Preface of Christmas II). At Christmas we contemplated the mystery of God and the mystery of creation: by the message of the angels to the shepherds, we received the good news of man’s salvation and the renewal of the entire universe. That is why, in my Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, I urged all persons of good will – those same men and women to whom the angels rightly promised peace – to protect creation. In the same spirit of joy I am happy to greet each of you today, particularly those present for the first time at this ceremony. I thank you most heartily for the good wishes conveyed to me by your Dean, Ambassador Alejandro Valladares Lanza, and I repeat how much I esteem your mission to the Holy See. Through you I send cordial greetings and good wishes for peace and happiness to the leaders and people of the countries which you worthily represent. My thoughts also go to all the other nations of the earth: the Successor of Peter keeps his door open to everyone in the hope of maintaining relations which can contribute to the progress of the human family. It is a cause for deep satisfaction that, just a few weeks ago, full diplomatic relations were established between the Holy See and the Russian Federation. The recent visit of the President of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam was likewise very significant; Vietnam is a country close to my heart, where the Church is celebrating her centuries-long presence by a Jubilee Year. In this spirit of openness, throughout 2009 I met many political leaders from all over the world; I also visited some of them and would like to continue to do so, insofar as is possible.

The Church is open to everyone because, in God, she lives for others! She thus shares deeply in the fortunes of humanity, which in this new year continues to be marked by the dramatic crisis of the global economy and consequently a serious and widespread social instability. In my Encyclical Caritas in Veritate, I invited everyone to look to the deeper causes of this situation: in the last analysis, they are to be found in a current self-centred and materialistic way of thinking which fails to acknowledge the limitations inherent in every creature. Today I would like to stress that the same way of thinking also endangers creation. Each of us could probably cite an example of the damage that this has caused to the environment the world over. I will offer an example, from any number of others, taken from the recent history of Europe. Twenty years ago, after the fall of the Berlin wall and the collapse of the materialistic and atheistic regimes which had for several decades dominated a part of this continent, was it not easy to assess the great harm which an economic system lacking any reference to the truth about man had done not only to the dignity and freedom of individuals and peoples, but to nature itself, by polluting soil, water and air? The denial of God distorts the freedom of the human person, yet it also devastates creation. It follows that the protection of creation is not principally a response to an aesthetic need, but much more to a moral need, in as much as nature expresses a plan of love and truth which is prior to us and which comes from God.

For this reason I share the growing concern caused by economic and political resistance to combatting the degradation of the environment. This problem was evident even recently, during the XV Session of the Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in Copenhagen from 7 to 18 December last. I trust that in the course of this year, first in Bonn and later in Mexico City, it will be possible to reach an agreement for effectively dealing with this question. The issue is all the more important in that the very future of some nations is at stake, particularly some island states.

It is proper, however, that this concern and commitment for the environment should be situated within the larger framework of the great challenges now facing mankind. If we wish to build true peace, how can we separate, or even set at odds, the protection of the environment and the protection of human life, including the life of the unborn? It is in man’s respect for himself that his sense of responsibility for creation is shown. As Saint Thomas Aquinas has taught, man represents all that is most noble in the universe (cf. Summa Theologiae, I, q. 29, a. 3). Furthermore, as I noted during the recent FAO World Summit on Food Security, "the world has enough food for all its inhabitants" (Address of 16 November 2009, No. 2) provided that selfishness does not lead some to hoard the goods which are intended for all.

I would like to stress again that the protection of creation calls for an appropriate management of the natural resources of different countries and, in the first place, of those which are economically disadvantaged. I think of the continent of Africa, which I had the joy of visiting last March during my journey to Cameroon and Angola, and which was the subject of the deliberations of the recent Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod Fathers pointed with concern to the erosion and desertification of large tracts of arable land as a result of overexploitation and environmental pollution (cf. Propositio 22). In Africa, as elsewhere, there is a need to make political and economic decisions which ensure "forms of agricultural and industrial production capable of respecting creation and satisfying the primary needs of all" (Message for the 2010 World Day of Peace, No. 10).

How can we forget, for that matter, that the struggle for access to natural resources is one of the causes of a number of conflicts, not least in Africa, as well as a continuing threat elsewhere? For this reason too, I forcefully repeat that to cultivate peace, one must protect creation! Furthermore, there are still large areas, for example in Afghanistan or in some countries of Latin America, where agriculture is unfortunately still linked to the production of narcotics, and is a not insignificant source of employment and income. If we want peace, we need to preserve creation by rechanneling these activities; I once more urge the international community not to become resigned to the drug trade and the grave moral and social problems which it creates.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the protection of creation is indeed an important element of peace and justice! Among the many challenges which it presents, one of the most serious is increased military spending and the cost of maintaining and developing nuclear arsenals. Enormous resources are being consumed for these purposes, when they could be spent on the development of peoples, especially those who are poorest. For this reason I firmly hope that, during the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference to be held this May in New York, concrete decisions will be made towards progressive disarmament, with a view to freeing our planet from nuclear arms. More generally, I deplore the fact that arms production and export helps to perpetuate conflicts and violence, as in Darfur, in Somalia or in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Together with the inability of the parties directly involved to step back from the spiral of violence and pain spawned by these conflicts, there is the apparent powerlessness of other countries and the international organizations to restore peace, to say nothing of the indifference, amounting practically to resignation, of public opinion worldwide. There is no need to insist on the extent to which such conflicts damage and degrade the environment. Finally, how can I fail to mention terrorism, which endangers countless innocent lives and generates widespread anxiety. On this solemn occasion, I would like to renew the appeal which I made during the Angelus prayer of 1 January last to all those belonging to armed groups, of whatever kind, to abandon the path of violence and to open their hearts to the joy of peace.

The grave acts of violence to which I have just alluded, combined with the scourges of poverty, hunger, natural disasters and the destruction of the environment, have helped to swell the ranks of those who migrate from their native land. Given the extent of this exodus, I wish to exhort the various civil authorities to carry on their work with justice, solidarity and foresight. Here I wish to speak in particular of the Christians of the Middle East. Beleaguered in various ways, even in the exercise of their religious freedom, they are leaving the land of their forebears, where the Church took root during the earliest centuries. To offer them encouragement and to make them feel the closeness of their brothers and sisters in faith, I have convened for next autumn a Special Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Middle East.

Ladies and Gentlemen, to this point I have alluded only to a few aspects of the problem of the environment. Yet the causes of the situation which is now evident to everyone are of the moral order, and the question must be faced within the framework of a great programme of education aimed at promoting an effective change of thinking and at creating new lifestyles. The community of believers can and wants to take part in this, but, for it to do so, its public role must be recognized. Sadly, in certain countries, mainly in the West, one increasingly encounters in political and cultural circles, as well in the media, scarce respect and at times hostility, if not scorn, directed towards religion and towards Christianity in particular. It is clear that if relativism is considered an essential element of democracy, one risks viewing secularity solely in the sense of excluding or, more precisely, denying the social importance of religion. But such an approach creates confrontation and division, disturbs peace, harms human ecology and, by rejecting in principle approaches other than its own, finishes in a dead end. There is thus an urgent need to delineate a positive and open secularity which, grounded in the just autonomy of the temporal order and the spiritual order, can foster healthy cooperation and a spirit of shared responsibility. Here I think of Europe, which, now that the Lisbon Treaty has taken effect, has entered a new phase in its process of integration, a process which the Holy See will continue to follow with close attention. Noting with satisfaction that the Treaty provides for the European Union to maintain an "open, transparent and regular" dialogue with the Churches (Art. 17), I express my hope that in building its future, Europe will always draw upon the wellsprings of its Christian identity. As I said during my Apostolic Visit last September to the Czech Republic, Europe has an irreplaceable role to play "for the formation of the conscience of each generation and the promotion of a basic ethical consensus that serves every person who calls this continent ‘home’ " (Meeting with Political and Civil Authorities and with the Diplomatic Corps, 26 September 2009).

To carry our reflection further, we must remember that the problem of the environment is complex; one might compare it to a multifaceted prism. Creatures differ from one another and can be protected, or endangered, in different ways, as we know from daily experience. One such attack comes from laws or proposals which, in the name of fighting discrimination, strike at the biological basis of the difference between the sexes. I am thinking, for example, of certain countries in Europe or North and South America. Saint Columban stated that: "If you take away freedom, you take away dignity" (Ep. 4 ad Attela, in S. Columbani Opera, Dublin, 1957, p. 34). Yet freedom cannot be absolute, since man is not himself God, but the image of God, God’s creation. For man, the path to be taken cannot be determined by caprice or willfulness, but must rather correspond to the structure willed by the Creator.

The protection of creation also entails other challenges, which can only be met by international solidarity. I think of the natural disasters which this past year have sown death, suffering and destruction in the Philippines, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and Taiwan. Nor can I pass over Indonesia and, closer to us, the Abruzzi region, hit by devastating earthquakes. Faced with events like these, generous aid should never be lacking, since the life itself of God’s children is at stake. Yet, in addition to solidarity, the protection of creation also calls for concord and stability between states. Whenever disagreements and conflicts arise among them, in order to defend peace they must tenaciously pursue the path of constructive dialogue. This is what happened twenty-five years ago with the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Argentina and Chile, reached thanks to the mediation of the Apostolic See. That Treaty has borne abundant fruit in cooperation and prosperity which have in some way benefited all of Latin America. In this same area of the world, I am pleased by the rapprochement upon which Columbia and Ecuador have embarked after several months of tension. Closer to us, I am gratified by the agreement concluded between Croatia and Slovenia on arbitration regarding their sea and land borders. I am also pleased by the accord between Armenia and Turkey for the re-establishment of diplomatic relations, and I express my hope that, through dialogue, relations will improve among all the countries of the southern Caucasus. In the course of my pilgrimage to the Holy Land, I urgently appealed to the Israelis and the Palestinians to dialogue and to respect each others’ rights. Once again I call for a universal recognition of the right of the State of Israel to exist and to enjoy peace and security within internationally recognized borders. Likewise, the right of the Palestinian people to a sovereign and independent homeland, to live in dignity and to enjoy freedom of movement, ought to be recognized. I would also like to request the support of everyone for the protection of the identity and sacred character of Jerusalem, and of its cultural and religious heritage, which is of universal value. Only thus will this unique city, holy yet deeply afflicted, be a sign and harbinger of that peace which God desires for the whole human family. Out of love for the dialogue and peace which protect creation, I exhort the government leaders and the citizens of Iraq to overcome their divisions and the temptation to violence and intolerance, in order to build together the future of their country. The Christian communities also wish to make their own contribution, but if this is to happen, they need to be assured respect, security and freedom. Pakistan has been also hard hit by violence in recent months and certain episodes were directly aimed at the Christian minority. I ask that everything be done to avoid the reoccurrence of such acts of aggression, and to ensure that Christians feel fully a part of the life of their country. In speaking of acts of violence against Christians, I cannot fail to mention also the deplorable attack which the Egyptian Coptic community suffered in recent days, during its celebration of Christmas. Concerning Iran, I express my hope that through dialogue and cooperation joint solutions will be found on the national as well as the international level. I encourage Lebanon, which has emerged from a lengthy political crisis, to continue along the path of concord. I hope that Honduras, after a period of uncertainty and unrest, will move towards a recovery of normal political and social life. I desire the same for Guinea and Madagascar with the effective and disinterested aid of the international community.

Ladies and Gentlemen, at the end of this rapid overview which, due to its brevity, cannot mention every situation worthy of note, I am reminded of the words of the Apostle Paul, for whom "all creation groans and is in agony" and "we ourselves groan inwardly" (Rom 8:20-23). There is so much suffering in our world, and human selfishness continues in many ways to harm creation. For this reason, the yearning for salvation which affects all creation is that much more intense and present in the hearts of all men and women, believers and non-believers alike. The Church points out that the response to this aspiration is Christ "the firstborn of all creation, for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created" (Col 1:15-16). Looking to him, I exhort every person of good will to work confidently and generously for the sake of human dignity and freedom. May the light and strength of Jesus help us to respect human ecology, in the knowledge that natural ecology will likewise benefit, since the book of nature is one and indivisible. In this way we will be able to build peace, today and for the sake of generations to come. To all I wish a Happy New Year!

Tuesday, January 05, 2010


As the end of the earthly phase of life draws near for me, I once more sincerely say to the Lord, with Dag Hammarskjöld:

For all that has been, Lord, thanks.
To all that will be, Lord, yes.

But my last wish and prayer and hope would still be the same at St Paul's:

Life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that when I have finished my race I have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me - and that was to bear witness to the good news of God's grace. (Ac 20:24)

I pray, and I would like my friends to pray, that when I die, my life might have been such as not to belie these words.

Cardinal Cahal B Daly, Steps on My Pilgrim Journey: Memories and Reflections (Veritas, 1998)

Requiescat in Pace

Cahal Brendan Daly - A Life in Pictures

Images from the Requiem Mass for Cardinal Cahal Daly

Photos: Various and Liam McArdle

Homily of Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Armagh at the Requiem Mass for His Eminence Cahal B. Cardinal Daly Archbishop Emeritus of Armagh

President of Ireland and Dr McAleese, Your Eminences, we are honoured by your presence. Family of Cardinal Daly, you have our deepest sympathy. Taoiseach, Deputy First Minister, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Ministers of the Oireachtas and of the Assembly. Former Taoiseach, Members of Parliament and of the Oireachtas, Mayors and Members of Local Authorities, Members of the Diplomatic Corps and of the Judiciary. The Chief Constable, Matt Baggott.

My Brother Bishops, your Grace, my Lord Bishop of Down and Dromore, representing the Church of Ireland, Dr Hutchinson representing the Moderator of the Presbyterian Church, Rev Kerr, President of the Methodist Church. Priests and people of the Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise and the Diocese of Down and Connor.

My Brothers and Sisters in Jesus Christ, I welcome you

I welcome all of you to Armagh today. We gather with the family and friends of our late, beloved, Cardinal Cahal Daly to offer them our sympathy and the support of our prayers. We come to commend him to God’s tender mercy and compassion. We come to praise and thank God for Christ’s victory over sin and death.

I think there is something deeply symbolic about his dying on the last day of the civil year and in the middle of the Christmas season. He has indeed finished the race of a full, happy, and illustrious life. He has died in the season when we celebrate the coming of the Son of God to be our Saviour. It was a season he loved and celebrated so well. This year that celebration was marred by the news of the fire which engulfed his former Cathedral of St. Mel’s in Longford. It was news which caused him great distress. St. Mel’s held a very special place in his heart. It was here he started his ministry as Bishop. It was here that he began work of liturgical renewal and reordering of Churches following the Second Vatican Council. We extend our support and good wishes to his successor Bishop Colm O’Reilly as he prepares to rebuild the Cathedral following the tragic fire.

Many of you will have received Cardinal Daly’s now famous annual Christmas cards. They are a work of art in their own right. They also tell us so much about the man: about his abiding faith in Jesus Christ – the same yesterday, today and forever; about his loving devotion to Mary, the mother of Jesus. Those Christmas cards spoke of a man who loved art and beauty, prayer and poetry, especially religious poetry, as well as Holy Scripture.

We are here today to pay our respects to a disciple of Christ who worked and prayed tirelessly for mutual understanding, peace and reconciliation. His support for the noble vocation of politics is well known. Today, at the beginning of a New Year, we renew our encouragement to those who serve the public good in the political arena. The hopes and dreams of so many depend on you. Remain steadfast in the search for a brighter future for all. Remember the distance you have already travelled together. Continue to work together to address social, economic and environmental challenges and thereby create the kind of country which Cardinal Daly and so many others yearned to see. I am certain that a reconciled, stable and sustainable future would be the best monument you could build to his memory.

What a consolation it is to welcome so many representatives from other Christian traditions here today. Your faith and friendship played an immense part in the development of Cardinal Daly’s own faith and ministry. From his earliest days in Loughuile he sought to understand the proud, confident tradition of his protestant neighbours. He knew instinctively that those who treasured the Word of God with such love and devotion, who professed Jesus Christ as Saviour with such conviction, shared a bond with Catholics that went much deeper than politics or nation. He never tired of reminding Catholics that ‘one cannot be authentically Christian or Catholic without the ecumenical spirit’. To be bound by the common bond of Baptism, he used to say, is to be related to a fellow Christian as sister and brother. As we take leave of our brother Cahal today, we rejoice in our common Christian conviction that, in the words of our Gospel reading, ‘whoever sees the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life.’

It was his keen desire for eternal life that made Cardinal Daly so passionate in his commitment to the renewal of the Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council. The Council was an historic and momentous event which he attended as an advisor to his predecessor, the late Cardinal Conway. There his conviction that all the baptised share in the priestly, prophetic and kingly mission of Christ was given renewed energy and direction. In the three Dioceses where he served as Bishop the renewal set out by the Council became the dominant theme of his pastoral ministry and teaching. He set about establishing Diocesan Pastoral Councils and actively encouraged them at Parish level. He pioneered programmes of theological and spiritual formation for lay people in preparation for their increased participation in the liturgy, in catechesis and in administration. He established initiatives for young people and played a key role in developing a new national catechetical programme for Catholic schools. He was always anxious to ensure the effective renewal of the priesthood through initiatives of ongoing formation and fraternal support. He also had a very personal interest in the renewal and development of religious life. As many of the religious here today will testify, he was a regular visitor to the religious communities of his Dioceses. There he drew great strength from participation in the communal celebration of the Eucharist and the liturgy of the hours. I think he would have been very pleased with yesterday’s Evening Prayer in which so many women religious had leading parts.

Those who knew Cardinal Daly knew that he was never more content than when at prayer. Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, his heart burned within him as he prayed the Scriptures and as he brought his lively intellect to the work of faith seeking understanding and understanding seeking faith.

In so many ways Cardinal Daly was ahead of his time. As early as 1973 he was working with other Christian leaders in the search for peace. A report which they prepared at that time set out principles for a non-violent way forward for the divided communities of Northern Ireland. Today its language bears a remarkable similarity to that of political agreements we have now. Cardinal Daly remained adamant always that justice, mutual respect and purely peaceful means were the only way forward. It was a source of considerable satisfaction for him later to see politicians take courageous risks for peace. As he would often pray from the psalms, ‘Mercy and faithfulness have met, justice and peace have embraced’. Our task today is to continue along the path of mercy and to tackle all remnants of sectarianism in our midst.

In his later years Cardinal Cahal was also prophetic in warning us of the importance of renewing our Christian commitment to the Minding of Planet Earth; what he would call our fragile and precarious home. This was rooted in his early interest as a seminarian in Maynooth in the Social Doctrine of the Church. It was something that would continue to animate his ministry and preaching throughout his life. It found expression in one of his most notable and enduring contributions to the work of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, the pastoral letter entitled The Work of Justice. Here he played a central role, as he did in so many of the publications of the Conference, in anticipating many of the social and economic challenges which would come to confront Ireland in an era of unprecedented change.

He was prophetic too in his appreciation of the contribution and role of the feminine in the life of the Church. Throughout his life he drew inspiration from his deep devotion to the Mother of God. He often noted that it was a woman Mary, whom the early Church celebrated in song as ‘The Highest Honour of Our Race’. He would always insist that every effort would be made to ensure a balance of gender on Pastoral Councils, Committees and in the leadership of prayer groups and pastoral projects. The image of the prayerful Madonna would always adorn his Christmas cards. He would often refer to Mary as ‘the woman wrapped in silence’, who carried the mysteries of the Lord in the depth of her heart. This was reflected in his particular appreciation of the role of female religious, especially women contemplatives in the life of the Church. He had a great devotion to St Bernadette and to the sanctuary at Lourdes. However, he had a particular devotion to St. Thérèse of Lisieux. She was the young contemplative who, although she never strayed from the grounds of her enclosed Carmel in Lisieux, is the patron Saint of the missions. She is the heavenly patroness of those who go out to the whole world and proclaim the Good News, in season and out of season. It was in the life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux in particular, I believe, that Cahal Daly as a young priest found inspiration for his life of untiring apostolic activity rooted in deep, contemplative communion with the Lord and giver of all life.

Yes, Cardinal Cahal Daly was a prophetic, renewing and transforming figure in a time of immense change in the history of this island. But his mission would be misunderstood, his legacy misrepresented if it focused solely, or indeed principally on the social and political aspects of his work. Cardinal Cahal Daly was first and foremost a man of faith, a man of prayer, a man of God. He was consumed with the desire to know Jesus Christ, to embody his values and to make him known to others. He did this so that others might know the hope God’s call holds for them and for the whole world.

One of the Cardinal’s favourite scripture verses comes from the Acts of the Apostles. He quotes it more than once in his autobiography. He said it often gave him inspiration in times of difficulty. He gave it place of honour on his 2007 Christmas Card, the year of his 90th birthday. In his last will and testament he has directed that it be inscribed on his headstone.

It goes like this: ‘Life to me is not a thing to waste words on, provided that, when I finish my race, I shall have carried out the mission the Lord Jesus gave me – and that was to bear witness to the Good News of God’s grace.’ (Acts 20:24).

Those words come from the famous farewell speech of St. Paul to the Church at Ephesus. There Paul described how he came as a humble servant. He came to preach and to teach, to preach and teach people how to come to know God and his healing love. Cardinal Daly saw himself as having a similar vocation in life. Well, the great long race is over. His mission has been accomplished. His life is a challenge to each one of us. It challenges us to ask ourselves - to what do we bear witness? Is it the Good News of God’s healing and merciful love? His life challenges us to keep on running the race! It challenges us to continue carrying out our mission and to declare before all who will listen, the truth of God’s renewing presence and love.

In God’s providence, the life of this gentle, kindly, loyal and ever faithful shepherd of God’s flock, who sleeps before us in the peace of Christ, was a sure guide to God’s people on their pilgrim journey. He guided us with such certainty through the challenges and change of the post-Conciliar era, to the first decade of the new millennium. As we contemplate the manifold challenges which lie ahead for the pilgrim Church in the Ireland which he loved so dearly and served so generously, we would do well to draw strength from his tireless spirit and his boundless confidence. That confidence was not in his own power but in the power of God to do infinitely more than we can ask for or imagine.

Cardinal Daly would have been well aware that the next steps on that pilgrim journey for the Catholic Church in Ireland will be among the most critical and most challenging of its history. The abuse of children and its shameful mismanagement by those charged by God to protect his ‘little ones’, have wrought such damage on those who were abused. It has caused such justified anger and outrage on the part of the faithful and damaged trust so profoundly in the integrity of the leaders of the Church.

No-one can doubt the Catholic Church in Ireland is now at a defining moment in its history. The only way to authentic renewal is that of humble service to God’s people. The rebuilding of trust will entail making sure that children are safe at every moment and in every Church setting. It will require complete commitment to the path initiated by Cardinal Daly, of working with the civil authorities and whole parish communities to ensure best practice, cooperation and accountability in safeguarding children in all Church activities.

In the sadness of saying farewell to one who gave so much and who was loved by so many as Cardinal Daly, today’s liturgy speaks to us of hope. In the words of our first reading: ‘That is what I shall tell my heart, and so recover hope: the favours of the Lord are not all past, his kindnesses are not exhausted; every morning they are renewed; great is his faithfulness.’

In the Epilogue of his autobiography, Steps Along My Pilgrim Way, Cardinal Dalys leaves us with some compelling words of hope. ‘This is emphatically not a time for discouragement’, he says, ‘It is not a time for pessimism or fear about the future. The Holy Spirit has worked powerfully in the Church in our time, and continues to work mightily among the priests and lay persons who constitute the People of God. The fields are now ripening in harvest…. No one needs to save the Church because the Lord saves his Church, the Holy Spirit renews the Church constantly and always leads it back to the joy of its youth.’

As we now accompany our brother Cahal with our prayers on his journey to the eternal youth of the Church in heaven, we thank God for the give of his long, generous and happy life. We renew our own hope in God’s promise to make all things new.

May his souls and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Another Pen Portrait

A good piece on Cardinal Daly in The Independent by the always excellent David McKittrick. Click HERE to read.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Cardinal Daly's Remains Arrive in Armagh

Homily of Bishop Gerard Clifford at the Mass for the reception of the remains of Cardinal Cahal Daly

We gather today to receive the remains of Cardinal Cahal Daly here in Armagh. In many ways the reception of his remains is his coming home to the place where he ministered for six years, where he led the liturgy here on a regular basis and where he endeared himself to the priests and people of the Archdiocese. It is indeed his coming home to finally rest in Armagh, the place he loved so much.

Cahal B Daly was priest, academic, scholar, writer, ecumenist, bishop of three dioceses, Ardagh and Clonmacnois, Down and Connor and Armagh. His was a busy life totally dedicated to his ministry, urbane, incisive in discussion and debate, a spiritual man whose ministry and work flowed out of his obvious own spiritual depths. He was first and foremost a man of prayer, a man of God. That was the power in his life. It gave direction to his work and was the hallmark of his ministry and life for sixty eight years. It is not easy to bring together the various strands and influences in his life. The most one can do is to pick a few vignettes that show the depth of his faith, the breadth of his scholarship and the sense of his trust in God.

The words of St. John in today’s Gospel about John the Baptist preparing a way for the Lord can aptly be applied to Cahal Daly in his life and work.

“He came as a witness to speak for the light so that everyone might believe through him”. (John 1; 7).

Cahal Daly was at heart a man deeply devoted to his family,supportive, encouraging, interested, always appreciative and always thankful. His annual pilgrimage to Lourdes was a family gathering; a gathering of the priests, religious, and lay people from the Archdiocese but it was also a family moment when family and friends gathered together in support and in prayer.

I believe that Cahal Daly’s ministry as Bishop can be summed up under four broad headings each one coinciding with its distinctive emphasis and focus in his ministry in three dioceses.

'Second Vatican Council'

Cahal Daly was ordained Bishop of Ardagh and Clonmacnois on 16th July 1967. He had just returned from the Second Vatican Council where he was one of the chosen ‘periti’ or experts available to the Fathers of the Council. He was enthused by the insights of the Council and the ‘aggiornamento’ or call for spiritual renewal that was the hallmark of the Council. Over the three years of the Council many key issues in the life of the Church and in the renewal of the Church were discussed and debated. Those key documents would influence the ministry of Cahal B Daly for the rest of his life. In Ardagh and Clonmacnois he gave inspiration to many religious communities facing new challenges in their ministry and in their work. He drew inspiration from the Council document on the Liturgy and initiated change at parish and diocesan life. In the light of the document from the Council on Education Bishop Daly, as he was at the time, led a renewal of catechetics and Christian formation at national level. More than anything he was enthused with the new challenges presented by the document “Unitatis Redintegratio” (Restoration of Unity) and he lectured throughout Ireland and abroad on the challenges presented to leadership in the Church. Shortly he would move to the Diocese of Down and Connor where the challenges of peacemaking, ecumenical outreach and of building bridges of friendship and support would find an immediate application.

'The Troubles'

Bishop Daly was installed bishop of Down and Connor on 17 October 1982. He came to a diocese that had experienced the worst of the so-called ‘troubles’. For the rest of his ministry he would give unparalleled leadership in calling for an end to violence and a commitment to peace and reconciliation. He was unfaltering in his challenge to the men of violence to turn away from violence and to take the way of peace and reconciliation. As more and more people became the victims of violence, lives being lost, people maimed for life, property destroyed, businesses burnt to the ground, his call was as urgent as it was demanding.


At national level Bishop Daly joined with key leaders in the Protestant Churches to be a witness to reconciliation and peace. With leaders from the Church of Ireland , Methodist and Presbyterian Churches he spearheaded a process of renewal and commitment within the Churches addressing social problems in society and addressing the sources and causes of violence with a mind to working together as Churches for peace, justice and reconciliation. The Report to the Churches on Violence in Ireland, published in 1977 became the ’vademecum’ for all who were interested in peace.

It took some years, too many years, before people began to listen. Cardinal Daly would have said that the words of Pope John Paul II on 29 September 1979 in Drogheda were a watershed in changing attitudes and in calling for a radical rethink about violence and its effectiveness. Pope John Paul’s words were unequivocal. He said; “On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and to return to the ways of peace”. Relentlessly Cahal Daly continued to work for peace and reconciliation.

'Child Protection'

Meanwhile lurking in the shadows were the revelations of child sexual abuse in Ireland. This was without doubt one of the great trials of Cardinal Daly’s ministry. The extent of child abuse by priests marked a sad chapter in the history of our country. It was a time of unmitigated sadness and sorrow for the Cardinal. I believe that is well captured in a portrait of Cardinal Daly hanging in the cloisters of Maynooth College. He looks distressed and tired. I believe it sums up the awful effect the whole sad story had on his life. But Cardinal Daly was a man of faith. He believed deeply in the power of God to heal and rebuild lives.

As President of the Irish Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Daly worked tirelessly to ensure that programmes and policies would be put in place. In April 1994 a committee was set up to prepare a report on Child Sexual Abuse in Ireland. The Report was completed and published in 1996 under the title of ‘Child Sexual Abuse: framework for a Church Response’ (commonly known as the Green Book). These were the guidelines which informed the management of child protection at diocesan and national level.

At all times throughout his life his own intuition and scholarship made him aware of the road to follow.

Some twenty years ago when he came to Armagh as Archbishop he began a programme of building parish pastoral councils and even as far back as the beginning of the 1990s he set up a Diocesan Pastoral Council. Today in the face of enormous challenges presented to the leadership in the Church we continue to build on these structures to involve lay people in the ministry and life of the Church. It is the only way forward.

The message of St Paul in today’s second reading presents that challenge starkly. He said;

“May the God of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of all glory, give you a spirit of wisdom and perception to bring you to the full knowledge of him”.

That is our hope for the future. That has to be the way forward, in humility and determination that all of it can be achieved through a firm conviction that we are not alone in this work. That spiritual awareness and dependence on the Lord himself was the inspiration of Cardinal Daly’s life and work. May he rest in peace.
Photos: PA and Liam McArdle

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Sunday Sequence

The BBC's Sunday Sequence programme carried an extensive reflection on the life of Cardinal Cahal Daly. It can be heard HERE.

Down and Connor Bishops at St Peter's Cathedral

Dr Patrick Walsh (centre) and Dr Anthony Farquhar (left) pictured following the celebration of Mass for the repose of the soul of Cardinal Cahal Daly in St Peter's Cathedral, Belfast on Saturday 2nd January 2010. Drs Walsh and Farquhar were ordained as Auxiliary Bishops of Down and Connor by Cardinal (then Bishop) Cahal Daly in May 1983. Following Bishop Daly's translation to Armagh in November 1990, Bishop Walsh was named as his successor in Down and Connor. He retired in 2008.

[Also pictured, nearest the camera, is Dr Hugh Kennedy, Administrator of St Peter's Cathedral Parish.]

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Vatican Radio Tribute to Cardinal Cahal Daly

A programme on the English Language section of Vatican Radio carried two tributes to Cardinal Daly this evening. One is by Cardinal Sean Brady, the other by the Very Rev Houston McKelvey, Dean of St Anne's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Belfast. They can be accessed HERE.