Papal Address to Association of Sts. Peter and Paul

«Fidelity Is needed! We Live in a Society That Has Lost This Value»

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VATICAN CITY, JUNE 26, 2011 ( Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI gave today before and after praying the midday Angelus with those gathered in St. Peter’s Square.

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Dear friends of the Association of Sts. Peter and Paul,

I greet you with joy and affection! I am glad to meet with you while you are gathered for the occasion of the 40th anniversary of your founding: a happy moment that invites thanksgiving, to the Lord first of all, and to the beloved Servant of God Paul VI, who did so much to renovate the environment of the Vatican according to contemporary exigencies. I greet your president in particular, Dr. Calvino Gasparini, and I thank him for his courteous words; I greet the spiritual assistant, Monsignor Joseph Murphy, the other officials and all the members of the Association, as well as the former assistants, among whom is Cardinal Coppa, who honors us with his presence, and Cardinal Bertone, who as a young priest was a formator for the Palatine Guards of the time. At the altar of the Lord and the tomb of St. Peter in this moment we especially remember all of those who in these 40 years have led the Association and those who were dedicated members. May the Lord grant the peace and beatitude of his Kingdom to those among them who have left this world.

In this meeting with you in my heart the sentiment of gratitude dominates, and it is directed to you for the service that you offer, above all for the love and the spirit of faith with which you carry it out. You dedicate part of your time — harmonizing it with family duties, and often at the expense of your leisure — to coming to the Vatican to help with the good order of various celebrations. Furthermore, you undertake various charitable projects in collaboration with the Figlie della Carità Sisters and the Missionaries of Charity. Such efforts require a profound motivation, which must always be renewed by an intense spiritual life. To help others to pray, we must have our heart turned toward God; to recall them to respect for holy places and holy things, it is necessary for us to have in us the Christian sense of the sacred; to help our neighbor with true Christian love, we must have a humble soul and the eyes of faith. Your attitude, often without words, constitutes an indication, an example, a reminder, and as such also has an educational value.

Your personal formation is naturally a presupposition for all of this; and I would like to tell you that precisely because of this, as for everything that you do, I am especially grateful. The Association of Sts. Peter and Paul, like every authentic ecclesial association, pays special attention, first of all, to the formation of its members, never as a substitute or alternative to parishes, but always in a complementary way with respect to them. Thus, I am glad that you are well inserted in your parish communities and that you educate your children in the meaning of the parish. At the same time I am pleased that the Association is in the appropriate measure demanding in planning specific periods of formation for those who desire to be effective members and regularly offers opportune moments to support perseverance. A special thought goes out precisely to those who pronounced the solemn promise of fidelity this morning; I wish them the joy of feeling like disciples of Christ in the Church, and I exhort them to give a valid witness to the Gospel in every sphere of their life. Again from this same perspective, I supported from the beginning the project of launching a youth component. I greet the young people with special affection, and I encourage them to follow the example of Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati, loving God with their whole heart, tasting the beauty of Christian friendship and serving Christ with great discretion in our poorest brothers.

Dear friends, I also thank you for the congratulations, and above all for the prayers, on the occasion of my 60th anniversary of priesthood. The gift that you gave me, a beautiful chasuble, is a reminder for me that I am always first of all a priest of Christ, and it also invites me to remember you when I celebrate the redemptive Sacrifice. I thank you from my heart!

Finally, I would like to entrust all of you to the Virgin Mary. I know that in your Association she is venerated with the title of «Virgo Fidelis.» Today more than ever fidelity is needed! We live in a society that has lost this value. Change, «mobility,» «flexibility,» are exalted for economic and organization reasons that are sometimes legitimate. But the quality of a human relationship is seen in fidelity! Sacred Scripture shows us that God is faithful. With his grace and Mary’s help, may you be faithful to Christ and to the Church, ready to endure with humility and patience the price that this carries. May the Virgo Fidelis obtain peace for your families and that authentic Christian vocations be born in them to marriage, the priesthood and the consecrated life. For this I assure you a special remembrance in my prayer, while I bless all of you and all of your loved ones from my heart.

[Translation by Joseph G. Trabbic]
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