VATICAN CITY, JAN. 18, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Here is the address Benedict XVI delivered Monday upon receiving in audience members of the community from the Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute in Rome on the occasion of the centenary of its foundation.
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Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and Priesthood,
Dear Brothers and Sisters!
It is with great joy that I receive you in the Apostolic Palace and I give you my cordial welcome. I greet you, monsignor rector, and all the community of the Pontifical Polish Ecclesiastical Institute, as well as the guests. In a particular way, I thank Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski for the significant words he addressed to me on behalf of all those present.
What has brought you here, to meet the Successor of Peter and to be confirmed in the faith and in your membership in the Church, is a happy circumstance rightly very dear to you: the centenary of the foundation of this worthy institution. Stemming from the illumined intuition and wonderful initiative of St. Jozef Sebastian Pelczar, then bishop of Przemysl, it initiated its history already during the pontificate of St. Pius X, to whom the foundation plan was presented. On May 13, 1909, the same Pope approved the request of Polish bishops and on March 19, 1910, with the religious decree “Polonae Gentis,” the Polish Hospice was erected. It was solemnly inaugurated on Nov. 13, 1910, by Monsignor Sapieha, who became afterward cardinal archbishop of Krakow. Thus the institute was able to enjoy in the course of the years the solicitude and affection of several Pontiffs, among whom we recall, closer to us, the Servant of God Paul VI and, of course, the future blessed, the Venerable Servant of God John Paul II, who visited it in 1980 and stressed its great significance for the Church and the Polish people.
The celebration of the first centenary of this important institution constitutes a valid call to the rightful and grateful remembrance of those who gave it its beginning with faith, courage and effort; a call, at the same time, to the responsibility of carrying forward today the original aim, adapting it opportunely to the new situations. Above all is the commitment to maintain alive the spirit of the institution: its religious and ecclesial spirit, which responds to the providential divine plan to offer Polish priests an ideal environment for study and fraternity, during the period of formation in Rome.
Of this pontifical institute, which witnessed so many significant events for the Church in Poland, you are now also a part, dear student priests that, arriving in the heart of Christianity, desire seriously to deepen your intellectual and spiritual preparation, to carry out in the best way all the tasks of responsibility which in the course of time will be entrusted to you by your bishops for the service of the People of God. See yourselves as “living stones”, an important part of this history which today also requires your personal and incisive response, offering your generous contribution, as offered in the course of the Vatican Council II, by the unforgettable primate of Poland, Cardinal Stefan Wyszynski, who precisely in the Polish Institute had the opportunity to prepare the celebration of the millennium of Poland’s baptism and the historic message of reconciliation that the Polish bishops addressed to the German prelates, containing the famous words: “We forgive and ask for forgiveness.”
The Church needs well prepared priests, rich in that wisdom that is acquired in friendship with the Lord Jesus, drawing constantly from the Eucharistic table and from the inexhaustible source of his Gospel. From these two irreplaceable sources know how to draw the constant support and necessary inspiration for your life and your ministry, for a sincere love of the truth that today you are called to deepen also through study and scientific research and that you will be able to share tomorrow with many. The search for truth, for you that as priests live this peculiar Roman experience, is stimulated and enriched by the closeness to the Apostolic See, which must give a specific and universal service to the Catholic communion in truth and in charity. To remain close to Peter, in the heart of the Church, means to acknowledge, full of gratitude, that you are within a multi-secular and fruitful history of salvation, which by a manifold grace has reached you and in which you are called to participate actively so that, as a luxuriant tree, you will always bear precious fruits.
May love and devotion to the figure of Peter drive you to serve generously the communion of the whole Catholic Church and of your particular Churches, so that, as one great family, all can learn to recognize in Christ the way, the truth, and the life, the face of the merciful Father, who does not wish any of his children to be lost.
Venerable and dear brothers, I entrust you all to the Virgin Mary, so loved by the Polish people. Invoke her always as mother of your priesthood, so that she will accompany you on the path of life and attract to your present and future ministry the abundance of gifts of the Holy Spirit. May Mary help you to persevere with joyful fidelity in the grace and commitment to follow Jesus, and to nurture constantly a fruitful dedication to your daily work and to those that the Lord puts close to you
I impart from my heart to all of you, as well as to your families and to your dear ones, a special apostolic blessing. May Jesus Christ be praised.[Translation by ZENIT]