Pope's Address in Remembering Vatican II

«I was there, a theologian of no great importance … But it was a great gift for me»

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NEMI, Italy, JULY 10, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the brief, unscripted address Benedict XVI gave Monday when he made a private visit to the «Ad Gentes Centre» of the Missionaries of the Divine Word, located in the village of Nemi, close to his summer residence of Castel Gandolfo.

In that building, then called the International Centre of the Society of the Divine Word, the Vatican Council II Commission on Missions met in 1965.

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I am really pleased to have the possibility to see this House in Nemi again after 47 years. I have a beautiful memory of it, perhaps the most beautiful memory of the whole Council. I was living in the center of Rome, in the Santa Maria dell Anima College, with all the noise: all this is also beautiful. But to be here surrounded by green, to have this breath of nature and also this freshness of the air, was already in itself a lovely thing. And then there was the company of so many great theologians, with the important and beautiful task to prepare a decree on the mission.

I remember first of all the General of that time, Father Schutte, who had suffered in China, he was condemned and then expelled. He was full of missionary dynamism, of the need to give a new thrust to the missionary spirit. And I was there, a theologian of no great importance, very young, invited I know not why. But it was a great gift for me.

Then there was Fulton Sheen, who fascinated us in the evening with his talks; Father Congar and great of Leuven. For me it was a spiritual enrichment, a great gift. It was a decree without great controversies. There was this controversy, which I never really understood, between the school of Leuven and that of Munster: is the principal aim of the mission the implantation Ecclesiae or the Evangelii proclamation? However, everything converged in the unique dynamism of the need to take the light of the Word of God, the light of the love of God to the world and to give new joy to this proclamation.

And thus a new and beautiful decree was born in those days, accepted almost unanimously by all the Conciliar Fathers, and, for me, it is also a very good complement to Lumen Gentium, because you find in it a Trinitarian ecclesiology, which stems above all from the classic idea of the bonum diffusivum sui, the good that has need to communicate itself, to give itself: it cannot remain in itself, the good thing, goodness itself is essentially communicatio. And this appears already in the Trinitarian mystery, in the interior of God, and it is diffused in the history of salvation and in our need to give to others the good we have received.

Thus, with these memories I have often thought of these days at Nemi which are in me, as I said, an essential part of the experience of the Council. And I am happy to see that your Society is flourishing – the Father General spoke of 6,000 members in so many countries, of so many nations. Clearly the missionary dynamism is alive, and it is alive only if there is the joy of the Gospel, if we are in the experience of the good that comes from God and which must and wants to communicate itself. Thank you for your dynamism. I wish every blessing and much inspiration from the Lord for this Chapter: may the inspired forces themselves of the Holy Spirit, which have accompanied you almost visibly these days, be present again among you and help you find the way for your Company as for the mission of the Gospel ad gentes for the forthcoming years. Thank you all. May the Lord bless you. Pray for me, as I pray for you. Thank you!

[Translation by ZENIT]
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