Papal Address to Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy

«Assume a True ‘Passion’ for Ecclesial Communion»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 14, 2010 ( Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered today upon receiving in audience members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. The academy is responsible for training candidates for the Holy See diplomatic service.

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Venerated Brothers in the Episcopate
Dear Priests,
I always welcome you with joy for our usual meeting, which offers me the occasion to greet and encourage you and to propose to you some reflections on the meaning of the work in the papal representations. I greet the president, Archbishop Beniamino Stella, who follows your formation with determination and ecclesial sense, and I thank him for the words he addressed to me on behalf of you all. A happy thought goes to his collaborators and to the Franciscan Missionary Sisters of the Child Jesus.
I would like to reflect briefly on the concept of representation. Not rarely, it is considered in a partial way in contemporary understanding: in fact, there is a tendency to associate it to something merely external, formal, not very personal.
The service of representation for which you have been preparing yourselves is instead something far more profound because it is participation in the «sollicitudo omnium ecclesiarum,» which characterizes the ministry of the Roman Pontiff. It is, because of this, an eminently personal reality, destined to influence profoundly the one who is called to undertake such a particular task. Precisely in this ecclesial perspective, the exercise of representation implies the exigency to receive and nourish with special attention in one’s priestly life some dimensions, which I would like to point out, though concisely, so that they will be a motive of reflection in your path of formation.
First of all, to cultivate a full interior adherence to the person of the Pope, to his Magisterium and to the universal ministry; full adherence, that is, of the one who has received the task to confirm brothers in the faith (cf. Luke 22:32) and «is the perpetual and visible principle and foundation of the unity, be it of the bishops or of the multitude of the faithful» (Ecumenical Vatican Council II, Constitution «Lumen Gentium,» 23). In the second place, to assume, as style of life and as daily priority, an attentive care — a true «passion» — for ecclesial communion. Again, to represent the Roman Pontiff means to have the capacity to be a solid «bridge,» a sure channel of communication between the particular Churches and the Apostolic See: on one hand, putting at the disposition of the Pope and of his collaborators an objective, correct and profound view of the ecclesial and social reality in which one lives, on the other, being committed to transmit the norms, indications and guidelines that emanate from the Holy See, not in a bureaucratic way, but with profound love of the Church and with the help of personal trust patiently built, respecting and appreciating, at the same time, the efforts of the Bishops and the path of the particular Churches to which one is invited.

As can be intuited, the service you are preparing to carry out calls for full determination and generous willingness to sacrifice, if necessary, personal intuitions, one’s own projects and other possibilities of exercising the priestly ministry. In a perspective of faith and of concrete response to God’s call — to be nourished always in an intense relationship with the Lord — this does not devalue each one’s originality but, on the contrary, is extremely enriching: the effort to be in synch with the universal perspective and with the service to the unity of God’s flock, peculiar to the Petrine ministry, is in fact able to value, in a singular way, the gifts and talents of each one, according to that logic that Saint Paul well expressed to the Christians of Corinth (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:1-31). In this way, the papal representative — in agreement with those who collaborate with him — truly becomes a sign of the presence and of the charity of the Pope. And if that is a benefit for the life of all the particular Churches, it is so especially in those particularly delicate or difficult situations in which, for varied reasons, the Christian community finds itself having to live. Properly viewed, it is an authentic priestly service, characterized by an analogy not remote from the representation of Christ, typical of the priest that, as such, has an intrinsic sacrificial dimension.
Precisely from here derives also the peculiar style of the service of representation that you will be called to exercise with State Authorities or with international organizations. In fact, also in these realms the figure and manner of presence of the Nuncio, of the Apostolic Delegate, of the Permanent Observer, is determined not only by the environment in which one operates but first of all and primarily, by him that one is called to represent. This puts the Papal Representative in a particular position in regard to other Ambassadors or Envoys. He, in fact, will always be profoundly identified, in a supernatural sense, with the one whom he represents. To be spokesman of the Vicar of Christ could be demanding, at times extremely exacting, but it will never be mortifying or depersonalizing. It becomes, instead, an original way of carrying out one’s priestly vocation.  
Dear students, I hope that your house might be, as my predecessor Paul VI liked to say, a «higher school of charity,» my prayer accompanies you, while I entrust you to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mater Ecclesiae, and to St. Anthony Abbot, patron of the Academy. To you all, and to all your dear ones, I willingly impart my blessing.
 [Translation by ZENIT]

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