Cardinal Sodano's Address at Pope's Luncheon

«The College of Cardinals Is … Always United to the Successor of Peter»

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VATICAN CITY, APRIL 21, 2010 ( On the occasion of the fifth anniversary of his election, Benedict XVI lunched with 46 cardinals and some members and collaborators of the Roman Curia on Monday morning, April 19, in the Ducal Hall of the Apostolic Palace.

At the end of the lunch, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, gave the following address on behalf of all those present.
* * *
Most Blessed Father,

Five years ago now the Lord addressed to you those telling words that one day long ago he directed to the Apostle Peter: «If you love me, feed my lambs, feed my sheep» (John 21:15-17).
Animated by a great love of Christ and of his Holy Church, you manifested your «Yes» to the Good Shepherd and thus initiated your mission with great generosity. Today we wish to thank you for all that you have done in these five years at the service of the Church and of the world.
At the end of the Holy Mass that you celebrated in the Sistine Chapel, the day after your election — many of those present remember it — Your Holiness said to us: «Of you, esteemed cardinals, with a grateful spirit for the trust demonstrated to me, I ask that you sustain me with prayer and with constant, active and wise collaboration» (cf. «Insegnamenti di Benedetto XVI,» 2005/i, page 9).
Holy Father, in these years this has been our commitment, or common commitment, and today more than ever we seek to do carry it out. It is the commitment not only of the 60 cardinals residents in the city, but also that of the 121 brothers spread over the world, whom we feel close today.
In fact, some cardinals resident in the Curia have not been able to be with us today, because of their conditions of health. But in spirit they are also present in our midst and present to you their most fervid wishes for every good.
Precisely last Friday, we were left my one of our brothers, dear Cardinal Tomas Spidlik, at the venerated age of 90 years, after having taught us, in all the alternating events of his long life, to trust always in Divine Providence, with that serenity and wisdom of heart that he had drawn from the heart of Christ.
As you see, Holy Father, the College of Cardinals is a large family, always united to the Successor of Peter, and committed to live in a mutual spirit of fraternal communion.
Of course, we cannot forget the challenges that the modern world poses to every disciple of Christ and so much more to us pastors, but we are always sustained by the light of Christian hope, with the certainty that the Lord’s grace continues to operate in our midst!
Recently, speaking of that great cardinal that St. Bonaventure was, Your Holiness reminded us of his teaching on the inexhaustible power of the grace of Christ, which is able to light lights of hope also between today’s generations.
In this connection, you quoted to us those profound words of the holy Franciscan cardinal: «Opera Christi non deficiunt, sed proficiunt.» In reality, also today the works of Christ do not diminish, but progress and it confirms to us that the leaven of the Gospel continues to permeate, with its innate interior dynamism, the whole of humanity (cf. L’Osservatore Romano, March 11, 2010).
I understand, Holiness, that I am taking water to the sea, speaking of hope in front of you, who have given us the beautiful encyclical «Spe Salvi» and that every day directs us to the Risen One, who said to his Apostles: «be of good cheer, I have overcome the world (John 16:33). We wish however to say to you that it is with this spirit that we, today, surround you on the fifth anniversary of your pontificate. With this spirit we say to you today from the depth of our heart: «Ad multos annos, ad multos felicissimos annos!»
 [These are the spontaneous remarks of Benedict XVI] 
Your Eminence, dear brothers, precisely for his mediation five years ago, the Lord asked me, Do you love me? He gave me the responsibility of continuing the work of St. Peter. At this moment, after five years, I can only give thanks: thanks above all to the Lord himself, who guides me, but also thanks to all of you: to you cardinal dean and to the entire College of Cardinals, for the support I receive every day.
On this occasion I would like to thank all of those who work in the Curia, who work together to carry out the mandate of the Lord to Peter of confirming our brothers in the faith, or proclaiming the Resurrection and of being witnesses of the charity of God. […] 
Let’s give thanks to God and pray that God will help us to go forward with strength and faith in the joy of His Resurrection.
Thank you!

[Translation by ZENIT]
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