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Monday, September 26, 2016

0488: Reflections on the 27th Sunday
of Ordinary Time by Pope Francis



Entry 0488: Reflections on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time   

 by Pope Francis (Updated 1 October 2017) 


Ofour occasions during his pontificate, Pope Francis has delivered reflections on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time, on 6 October 2013, 5 October 2014, 4 October 2015, and 2 October 2016. Here are the texts of four brief addresses prior to the recitation of the Angelus and three homilies delivered on these occasions.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 6 October 2013

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

First of all, I want to give thanks to God for the day I spent in Assisi, the day before yesterday. Just think, it was my first visit to Assisi and it was a great gift to make this pilgrimage on the Feast of Saint Francis. I thank the people of Assisi for their warm welcome: thank you very much!

Today, the Reading from the Gospel begins like this: “The apostles said to the Lord, ‘Increase our faith!’” (Lk 17:5). It seems that we can all make this our invocation, especially during this Year of Faith. Let us too, like the Apostles, say to the Lord: “Increase our faith!” Yes, Lord, our faith is small, our faith is weak and fragile, but we offer it to you as it is, so that you can make it grow. Would it be good to say this all together? Shall we repeat together: “Lord, increase our faith!”? Shall we? Everyone: Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Lord, increase our faith! Make it grow!

And how does the Lord answer us? He responds: “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this sycamore tree, ‘Be rooted up, and be planted in the sea’, and it would obey you” (v. 6). A mustard seed is tiny, yet Jesus says that faith this size, small but true and sincere, suffices to achieve what is humanly impossible, unthinkable. And it is true! We all know people who are simple, humble, but whose faith is so strong it can move mountains! Let us think, for example, of some mothers and fathers who face very difficult situations; or of some sick, and even gravely ill, people who transmit serenity to those who come to visit them. These people, because of their faith, do not boast about what they do, rather, as Jesus asks in the Gospel, they say: “We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty” (Lk 17:10). How many people among us have such strong, humble faith, and what good they do!

In this month of October, that is dedicated in a special way to missions, let us bear in mind the many missionaries, men and women, who in order to bring the Gospel have overcome obstacles of every kind, they have truly given their lives. As Saint Paul says to Timothy: “Do not be ashamed then of testifying to our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but take your share of suffering for the gospel in the power of God” (2 Tim 1:8). This, however, is for us all; each one of us in our own daily lives can testify to Christ by the power of God, the power of faith. The faith we have is miniscule, but it is strong! With this power to testify to Jesus Christ, to be Christians with our life, with our witness!

And how do we draw from this strength? We draw it from God in prayer. Prayer is the breath of faith: in a relationship of trust, in a relationship of love, dialogue cannot be left out, and prayer is the dialogue of the soul with God. October is also the month of the Rosary, and on this first Sunday it is tradition to recite the Prayer to Our Lady of Pompeii, the Blessed Virgin Mary of the Most Holy Rosary. Let us join spiritually together in this act of trust in our Mother, and let us receive from her hands the crown of the Rosary: The Rosary is a school of prayer, the Rosary is a school of faith!


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 5 October 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

This morning, with the Eucharistic celebration in Saint Peter’s Basilica, we inaugurated the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod Fathers, who have come from every part of the world, will experience together with me two intense weeks of listening and discussion, made fruitful by prayer, on the theme “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the Context of Evangelization.”

Today the Word of God presents the image of a vineyard as a symbol of the Lord’s Chosen People. Like a grapevine, the people require great care, they require patient and devoted love. This is what God does with us, and this is what we Pastors are called to do. Taking care of the family is also a way of working in the Lord’s vineyard, in order that it may produce the fruits of the Kingdom of God (see Mt 21:33-43).

But in order that the family walk well, with trust and hope, it must be nourished with the Word of God. For this reason it is a happy coincidence that precisely today our Pauline brothers and sisters wish to distribute a large number of Bibles, here in the Square and in many other places. Let us thank our Pauline brothers and sisters! They are doing so on the occasion of the Centenary of their foundation by Blessed Giacomo Alberione, a great apostle of communication. So today, as the Synod on the Family opens, with the help of the Paulines we can say: a Bible for every family! “But Father, we have two, three of them.” But where have you hidden them? The Bible, not to place it on a shelf, but to keep it at hand, to read it often, every day, both individually and together, husband and wife, parents and children, maybe in the evening, especially on Sundays. This way the family grows, walks, with the light and power of the Word of God!

This is the Bible that the Pauline brothers and sisters are giving you: one for every family. But be careful not to cheat: take it with one hand, not with two, with one hand to take it home!

I ask everyone to support the work of the Synod with prayer, invoking the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary. At this time, we unite spiritually to those, in the Shrine of Pompeii, who are raising the traditional “Petition” to Our Lady of the Rosary. May peace be obtained, for families and for the entire world!


HOLY MASS FOR THE OPENING
OF THE EXTRAORDINARY SYNOD ON THE FAMILY

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 5 October 2014

Today the prophet Isaiah and the Gospel employ the image of the Lord’s vineyard. The Lord’s vineyard is his “dream,” the plan which he nurtures with all his love, like a farmer who cares for his vineyard. Vines are plants which need much care!

God’s “dream” is his people. He planted it and nurtured it with patient and faithful love, so that it can become a holy people, a people which brings forth abundant fruits of justice.

But in both the ancient prophecy and in Jesus’ parable, God’s dream is thwarted. Isaiah says that the vine which he so loved and nurtured has yielded “wild grapes” (5:2, 4); God “expected justice but saw bloodshed, righteousness, but only a cry of distress” (v. 7). In the Gospel, it is the farmers themselves who ruin the Lord’s plan: they fail to do their job but think only of their own interests.

In Jesus’ parable, he is addressing the chief priests and the elders of the people, in other words the “experts,” the managers. To them in a particular way God entrusted his “dream,” his people, for them to nurture, tend and protect from the animals of the field. This is the job of leaders: to nurture the vineyard with freedom, creativity, and hard work.

But Jesus tells us that those farmers took over the vineyard. Out of greed and pride they want to do with it as they will, and so they prevent God from realizing his dream for the people he has chosen.

The temptation to greed is ever present. We encounter it also in the great prophecy of Ezekiel on the shepherds (see ch. 34), which Saint Augustine commented upon in one his celebrated sermons which we have just reread in the Liturgy of the Hours. Greed for money and power. And to satisfy this greed, evil pastors lay intolerable burdens on the shoulders of others, which they themselves do not lift a finger to move (see Mt 23:4)

We too, in the Synod of Bishops, are called to work for the Lord’s vineyard. Synod Assemblies are not meant to discuss beautiful and clever ideas, or to see who is more intelligent. They are meant to better nurture and tend the Lord’s vineyard, to help realize his dream, his loving plan for his people. In this case the Lord is asking us to care for the family, which has been from the beginning an integral part of his loving plan for humanity.

We are all sinners and can also be tempted to “take over” the vineyard, because of that greed which is always present in us human beings. God’s dream always clashes with the hypocrisy of some of his servants. We can “thwart” God’s dream if we fail to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit gives us that wisdom which surpasses knowledge, and enables us to work generously with authentic freedom and humble creativity.

My Synod brothers, to do a good job of nurturing and tending the vineyard, our hearts and our minds must be kept in Jesus Christ by “the peace of God which passes all understanding” (Phil 4:7). In this way our thoughts and plans will correspond to God’s dream: to form a holy people who are his own and produce the fruits of the kingdom of God (see Mt 21:43).


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Saint Peter’s Square, Sunday, 4 October 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

Moments ago in Saint Peter’s Basilica, the Eucharistic celebration, with which we opened the Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, concluded. The Synod Fathers, coming from every part of the world and meeting around the Successor of Peter, will reflect for three weeks on the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in society, for a careful spiritual and pastoral discernment. We will keep our gaze fixed on Jesus so as to identify, on the basis of his teaching of truth and mercy, the most opportune paths for the appropriate commitment of the Church with families and for families, so that the original plan of the Creator for man and woman may be implemented and operate in all its beauty and its strength in today’s world.

This Sunday’s Liturgy presents again the fundamental text of the Book of Genesis on the complementarity and reciprocity between man and woman (see Gen 2:18-24). Therefore—the Bible states—a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and the two become one flesh, that is, one life, one existence (see v. 24). In this unity, spouses pass on life to new human beings: they become parents. They participate in the creative power of God himself. But be mindful! God is love, and one participates in his work when one loves with Him and like Him. For this purpose—Saint Paul states—love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us (see Rom 5:5). This is also the love which is given to spouses in the Sacrament of Marriage. It is love that nourishes their relationship, through joy and pain, untroubled and difficult moments. It is love that gives rise to the desire to bear children, to await them, welcome them, raise them, teach them. It is the same love which, in today’s Gospel, Jesus shows toward children: “Let the children come to me, do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of God” (Mk 10:14).

Today let us ask the Lord that all parents and educators of the world, as well as the whole of society, make themselves instruments of welcome and of that love with which Jesus embraces the littlest ones. He looks into their hearts with the tenderness and solicitude of a father and of a mother at the same time. I think of so many children who are hungry, abandoned, exploited, forced into war, rejected. It is heartbreaking to see images of unhappy children, with a bewildered gaze, who flee from poverty and conflicts, knocking at our doors and on our hearts, begging for help. May the Lord help us to be not a society-fortress, but a society-family, able to welcome, with appropriate rules, but to welcome, to always welcome, with love!

I invite you to support the works of the Synod with prayer, so that the Holy Spirit may render the Synod Fathers fully docile to his inspiration. Let us invoke the maternal intercession of the Virgin Mary, uniting us spiritually to those who, at this moment, in the Shrine of Pompeii, recite the “Prayer to Our Lady of the Rosary.”


HOLY MASS FOR THE OPENING
OF THE XIV ORDINARY GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE SYNOD OF BISHOPS

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Vatican Basilica, Sunday, 4 October 2015

“If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration.

The readings center on three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden. He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them. Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20). He was lonely.

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture.

Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom. The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as the Psalm proclaimed today says (see Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self. It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; see Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question—probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact—Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centeredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense.

For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.

Paradoxically, people today—who often ridicule this plan—continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: ‘world-weariness.’ Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.

To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously.

The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centeredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in veritate, no, 3).

And the Church is called to carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but—faithful to her nature as a mother—conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation.

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved, we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II, Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide his Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.


POPE FRANCIS

ANGELUS

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sunday, 2 October 2016

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

In this Eucharistic celebration I have given thanks to God with you, and also for you: here the faith, after the years of persecution, has accomplished wonders. I wish to recall the many courageous Christians who trusted in the Lord and were faithful in the face of adversity. As did Saint John Paul II, I offer you the words of the Apostle Peter: “Honor to you who believe” (1 Pt 2:7; Homily, Baku, 23 May 2002).

Our thoughts turn now to the Virgin Mary, who is venerated in this country not only by Christians. To her we address the words of the Angel Gabriel who brought her the good news of salvation, prepared for humanity by God.

In the light that radiates from the maternal gaze of Mary, I offer a warm greeting to you, dear faithful of Azerbaijan, as I encourage each of you to witness joyfully to faith, hope and love, united among yourselves and with your Pastors. I greet and thank in a particular way the Salesian family, who take such good care of you and who promote various good works, and the Missionary Sisters of Charity: continue with enthusiasm your work in the service of all!

Let us entrust these intentions to the intercession of the Most Holy Mother of God and let us invoke her protection upon your families, the sick and the elderly, and upon all those who suffer in body or spirit.


HOLY MASS AT THE CHURCH OF THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION

HOMILY OF POPE FRANCIS

Baku, Azerbaijan, Sunday, 2 October 2016
 
The word of God presents us today with two essential aspects of the Christian life: faith and service. With regard to faith, two specific requests are made to the Lord.

The first is made by the Prophet Habakkuk, who implores God to intervene in order to re-establish the justice and peace which men have shattered by violence, quarrels and disputes: “O Lord, how long,” he says, “shall I cry for help, and you will not hear?” (Hab 1:2). God, in response, does not intervene directly, does not resolve the situation in an abrupt way, does not make himself present by a show of force. Rather, he invites patient waiting, without ever losing hope; above all, he emphasizes the importance of faith, since it is by faith that man will live (see Hab 2:4). God treats us in the same way: he does not indulge our desire to immediately and repeatedly change the world and other people. Instead, he intends primarily to heal the heart, my heart, your heart, and the heart of each person; God changes the world by transforming our hearts, and this he cannot do without us. The Lord wants us to open the door of our hearts, in order to enter into our lives. And this act of opening to him, this trust in him is precisely “the victory that overcomes the world, our faith” (1 Jn 5:4). For when God finds an open and trusting heart, then he can work wonders there.

But to have faith, a lively faith, is not easy; and so we pass to the second request, which the Apostles bring to the Lord in the Gospel: “Increase our faith!” (Lk 17:6). It is a good question, a prayer which we too can direct to the Lord each day. But the divine response is surprising and here too turns the question around: “If you had faith.” It is the Lord who asks us to have faith. Because faith, which is always God’s gift and always to be asked for, must be nurtured by us. It is no magic power which comes down from heaven, it is not a “talent” which is given once and for all, not a special force for solving life’s problems. A faith useful for satisfying our needs would be a selfish one, centered entirely on ourselves. Faith must not be confused with well-being or feeling well, with having consolation in our heart that gives us inner peace. Faith is the golden thread which binds us to the Lord, the pure joy of being with him, united to him; it is a gift that lasts our whole life, but bears fruit only if we play our part.

And what is our part? Jesus helps us understand that it consists of service. In the Gospel, immediately following his words on the power of faith, Jesus speaks of service. Faith and service cannot be separated; on the contrary, they are intimately linked, interwoven with each other. In order to explain this, I would like to take an image very familiar to you, that of a beautiful carpet. Your carpets are true works of art and have an ancient heritage. The Christian life that each of you has, also comes from afar. It is a gift we received in the Church which comes from the heart of God our Father, who wishes to make each of us a masterpiece of creation and of history. Every carpet, and you know this well, must be made according to a weft and a warp; only with this form can the carpet be harmoniously woven. So too in the Christian life: every day it must be woven patiently, intertwining a precise weft and warp: the weft of faith and the warp of service. When faith is interwoven with service, the heart remains open and youthful, and it expands in the process of doing good. Thus faith, as Jesus tells us in the Gospel, becomes powerful and accomplishes marvelous deeds. If faith follows this path, it matures and grows in strength, but only when it is joined to service.

But what is service? We might think that it consists only in being faithful to our duties or carrying out some good action. Yet for Jesus it is much more. In today’s Gospel, and in very firm and radical terms, he asks us for complete availability, a life offered in complete openness, free of calculation and gain. Why is Jesus so exacting? Because he loved us in this way, making himself our servant “to the end” (Jn 13:1), coming “to serve, and to give his life” (Mk 10:45). And this takes place again every time we celebrate the Eucharist: the Lord comes among us, and as much as we intend to serve him and love him, it is always he who precedes us, serving us and loving us more than we can imagine or deserve. He gives us his very own life. He invites us to imitate him, saying: “If anyone serves me, he must follow me” (Jn 12:26).

And so, we are not called to serve merely in order to receive a reward, but rather to imitate God, who made himself a servant for our love. Nor are we called to serve only now and again, but to live in serving. Service is thus a way of life; indeed it recapitulates the entire Christian way of life: serving God in adoration and prayer; being open and available; loving our neighbor with practical deeds; passionately working for the common good.

For Christians too, there are no shortage of temptations which lead us away from the path of service and end up by rendering life useless. Where there is no service, life is useless. Here too we can identify two forms. One is that of allowing our hearts to grow lukewarm. A lukewarm heart becomes self-absorbed in lazy living and it stifles the fire of love. The lukewarm person lives to satisfy his or her own convenience, which is never enough, and in that way is never satisfied; gradually such a Christian ends up being content with a mediocre life. The lukewarm person allocates to God and others a “percentage” of their time and their own heart, never spending too much, but rather always trying to economize. And so, he or she can lose the zest for life: rather like a cup of truly fine tea, which is unbearable to taste when it gets cold. I am sure, however, that when you look to the example of those who have gone before you in faith, you will not let your hearts become lukewarm. The whole Church, in showing you special affection, looks to you and offers you encouragement: you are a little flock that is so precious in God’s eyes.

There is a second temptation, which we can fall into not so much because we are passive, but because we are “overactive:” the one of thinking like masters, of giving oneself only in order to gain something or become someone. In such cases service becomes a means and not an end, because the end has become prestige; and then comes power, the desire to be great. “It shall not be so among you,” Jesus reminds all of us, “but whoever would be great among you must be your servant” (Mt 20:26). This is the way the Church grows and is adorned. Returning to our image of the carpet, and applying it to your fine community: each of you is like a magnificent silk thread. Only if you are woven together, however, will the different threads form a beautiful composition; on their own, they are of no use. Stay united always, living humbly in charity and joy; the Lord, who creates harmony from differences, will protect you.

May we be aided by the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary and by the saints, especially Saint Teresa of Calcutta, the fruits of whose faith and service are in your midst. Let us recall some of her noble words to summarize today’s message: “The fruit of faith is love. The fruit of love is service. The fruit of service is peace” (A Simple Path, Introduction).

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For reflections on the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time
 by Pope Benedict XVI,
please scroll down to the bottom of this page.


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