Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s address to the Cardinals this morning in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace.
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Venerable and dear Brothers,
With great joy I welcome you and extend to each of you my most cordial greeting. I thank Cardinal Angelo Sodano, who – as always – has successfully interpreted the sentiments of the entire College cor ad cor loquitur [heart speaks to heart]. Thank you Your Eminence, from the heart.
I would to say to you, taking up the reference to the experience of the disciples of Emmaus, that for me, too, it has been a joy to walk with you in these years, in the light of the presence of the Risen Lord. As I said yesterday, in front of the thousands of faithful filling St. Peter’s Square, your closeness, your advice have been of great help to me in my ministry. In these eight years we have lived with faith beautiful moments of radiant light in the path of the Church, along with times when a few clouds have formed in the sky. We have tried to serve Christ and his Church with deep and total love, which is the soul of our ministry. We have given hope, that which comes to us from Christ, and that alone can enlighten the way. Together we can thank the Lord, who has made us grow in communion; together we can beseech Him to help you grow still in this profound unity, so that the College of Cardinals may be like an orchestra, where the diversities, an expression of the universal Church, may always contribute to the greater, unifying harmony.
I would like to leave you a simple thought, which is close to my heart: a thought on the Church, its mystery, which is for all of us – we can say – the reason for and passion of life. I allow myself to be helped by an expression from Romano Guardini, written in the year the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council approved the Constitution Lumen Gentium, in his last book, which contains a personal dedication also to me. For this reason, the words of this book are particularly dear to me. Guardini says: “The Church is not an institution devised and built at a desk, but a living reality. It lives still throughout the course of time. Like all living realities, it develops and changes itself. And yet in the depths of its being it remains the same: its heart is Christ.” And then our experience, yesterday, it seems to me, in the square: to see that the Church is a living body, animated by the Holy Spirit and it truly lives by the power of God. It is in the world, but not of the world: it is of God, of Christ, of the Spirit. We saw this yesterday. For this reason, true and eloquent, too, is the other famous expression of Guardini: “The Church is awakening within souls.” The Church lives, grows and awakens within souls, who – like the Virgin Mary – accept the Word of God and conceive it by the power of the Holy Spirit. They offer to God their own flesh and, in their very poverty and humility, become capable of giving birth to Christ today in the world. Through the Church, the mystery of the Incarnation remains present forever. Christ continues to walk throughout time and in all places.
We remain united, dear brothers, in this mystery. In prayer and especially in the daily Eucharist, we thus serve the Church and all humanity. This is our joy, that no one can take away.
Before greeting you personally I want to tell you that I will continue to be close to you with prayer, especially in the next few days, so that you may be fully docile to the action of the Holy Spirit in electing the new Pope. May the Lord show you what is willed by Him. Among you, among the College of Cardinals, there is also the future Pope, to whom already today I promise my unconditional reverence and obedience.
For all this, with affection and gratitude, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.[Translations by Peter Waymel/ZENIT News Agency]