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Benedict XVI's Evaluation of 2006

Address to the Roman Curia

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 7, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is the Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's address, delivered Dec. 22, to cardinals, archbishops, bishops and superior prelates, in which he evaluated the year 2006.

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Clementine Hall

Friday, 22 December 2006

Your Eminences,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Presbyterate, Dear Brethren,

I meet you today with great joy and address my cordial greeting to each one of you. I thank you for being present at this traditional appointment held close to holy Christmas. I especially thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano for the words with which he has expressed the sentiments of everyone here, inspired by the central theme of the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est. On this important occasion I would like to express my gratitude to him once more for the service to the Pope and to the Holy See that he has carried out for so many years as Secretary of State, and I ask the Lord to reward him for the good that he has done with his wisdom and his zeal for the Church's mission.

At the same time, I desire to offer a special greeting to Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone for the new task that I have entrusted to him. I gladly extend these sentiments to all those who have entered the service of the Roman Curia or of the Governorate this year, while we remember with affection and gratitude those whom the Lord has called from this life to himself.

The year that is coming to an end, as you have said, Your Eminence, lives on in our memory; deeply impressed upon it are the horrors of the war near the Holy Land as well as the general danger of a clash between cultures and religions - a danger that hangs threateningly over our time in history.

The problem of ways towards peace has thus become a challenge of primary importance for all who are concerned about humankind. This is true in particular for the Church, for which the promise that accompanied her at the outset also means a responsibility and a task: "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased" (Lk 2: 14).

The Angel's greeting to the shepherds on the night of Christ's birth in Bethlehem reveals an unbreakable link between the relationship of men and women with God and their own mutual relationships.

Peace on earth cannot be found without reconciliation with God, without harmony between Heaven and earth.

This correlation of the theme "God" with the theme "peace" was the decisive aspect of my four Apostolic Journeys this year: I would like to review them here. First of all was my Pastoral Visit to Poland, the Country in which our beloved Pope John Paul II was born. For me, the journey to his Homeland was an intimate duty of gratitude for all that he gave to me personally and above all to the Church and to the world during the quarter century of his service.

His greatest gift to all of us was his steadfast faith and the radicalism of his dedication. His motto was "Totus tuus". It reflected his whole being. Yes, he gave himself without reserve to God, to Christ, to the Mother of Christ, to the Church: to the service of the Redeemer and to the redemption of man. He held nothing back. He let the flame of faith consume him to his inmost depths. He showed us how, as people of today, it is possible to believe in God, the Living God who made himself close to us in Christ. He showed us that a definitive and radical dedication of one's whole life is possible, and that, precisely in giving oneself, life becomes great and immense and fruitful.

In Poland, everywhere I went I encountered the joy of faith. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" -- this word which amid the wretchedness of the new beginning, the scribe Ezra cried out to the People of Israel who had just returned from the Exile (Neh 8: 10), can be experienced tangibly here. I was deeply struck by the great cordiality with which I was welcomed everywhere. The people saw in me the Successor of Peter to whom is entrusted the pastoral ministry for the entire Church.

They saw the one to whom, despite all his human frailty, the word of the Risen Lord is addressed then as today: "Tend my sheep" (cf. Jn 21: 15-19); they saw the Successor of the one to whom Jesus had said, in the district of Caesarea Philippi, "you are Peter and on this rock I will build my Church" (Mt 16: 18). Peter, on his own, was not a rock; he was a weak and unsteady man. Nonetheless, the Lord wished to make Peter himself a rock, to show that through a weak human being, he himself firmly sustains his Church and keeps her united.

Thus, the Visit to Poland was for me a celebration of catholicity in the deepest sense. Christ is our peace and reunites the separated: over and ...

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