Vatican City, 11 June 2012 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican the Holy Father received forty members of the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy. He noted that they were meeting "as the academic year draws to a close and as, for some of you, the day is approaching when you will depart for service in papal representations throughout the world. The Pope also counts on you for assistance in fulfilling his universal ministry", he said.
In his remarks to the group, Benedict XVI underlined the virtue of faithfulness which, he said, "well expresses the unique bond existing between the Pope and his direct collaborators, both in the Roman Curia and in the papal representations: for many, it is a bond grounded in the priestly character that they have received, which is then specified in the particular mission entrusted to each in the service of the Successor of Peter.
"In the Bible, faithfulness is above all a divine attribute", he added. "God reveals Himself as the One Who remains ever faithful to His Covenant with His people, despite their unfaithfulness. ... In our case, the virtue of faithfulness is profoundly linked to the supernatural gift of faith; it becomes the expression of that steadfastness proper to those who have made God the foundation of their entire lives".
"With this in mind, I encourage you to cultivate a personal bond with the Vicar of Christ as a part of your spirituality. Certainly, this is something which ought to apply to every Catholic, and even more to every priest. Yet for those who work in the Holy See, it is of particular importance, since they spend much of their energy, their time and their daily ministry in the service of the Successor of Peter. This entails a serious responsibility, but also a special gift which as time goes on should make you grow in closeness to the Pope, a closeness marked by interior trust, a natural 'idem sentire', which is exactly expressed by the word 'faithfulness'".
The Holy Father went on: "Faithfulness to Peter, who sends you forth, also gives rise to a special faithfulness towards those to whom you are sent. The representatives of the Roman Pontiff and their collaborators are called upon to interpret his solicitude for all the Churches, as well as the affectionate concern with which he follows the journey of all peoples. You should therefore cultivate a relationship of profound esteem and benevolence, and indeed true friendship, towards the Churches and the communities to which you will be sent. You are also bound to faithfulness in their regard, a faithfulness concretely manifested each day by your diligence and devotion to your work, by your presence among them at moments of joy, sadness and even tragedy, by your coming to know their culture, their journey as a Church, and by your appreciation of all that God’s grace has accomplished in every people and nation".
"Thus you will also encourage and help the particular Churches to grow in faithfulness to the Roman Pontiff and to find in the principle of communion with the universal Church a sure direction for their own pilgrimage through history. Not least, you will also help the Successor of Peter to be faithful to the mission he has received from Christ, enabling him to know better the flock entrusted to his care and to be present to it more effectively by his words, his closeness, his affection. Here I can only mention with gratitude the assistance that I receive every day from my many collaborators in the Roman Curia and in papal representations, as well as the support that comes to me from the prayers of countless brothers and sisters worldwide".
Benedict XVI concluded: "Dear friends, to the extent that you are faithful, you will also be worthy of faith. We know too that the faithfulness proper to the Church and to the Holy See is no 'blind' loyalty, for it is enlightened by our faith in the One Who said: 'You are Peter, and on on this rock I will build my Church'".