11-February-2013 -- Vatican Information Service |

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Pope Visits Major Roman Seminary

Vatican City, 11 February 2013 (VIS) - Yesterday afternoon at 6:15pm, the Holy Father visited the Major Roman Seminary on the eve of its feast of its patroness, Our Lady of Trust. On arriving he was greeted by Cardinal Agostino Vallini and the rector, Fr. Concetto Occhipinti. Benedict XVI delivered a lectio divina on the First Letter of St. Peter to seminarians of the Major and Minor Roman Seminary, the "Almo Collegio Capranica", the "Redemptoris Mater" diocesan seminary, and the Virgin of Divine Love Seminary. Following are ample excerpts of his address, which was given without an official text.

"Peter speaks. This is almost the first encyclical by which the first apostle, vicar of Christ, speaks to the Church of all time. ... He doesn't write as an isolated individual, but with the help of the Church, of the persons who help him to go more deeply into his faith, to enter into the depth of his thought. ... This is very important: Peter doesn't speak as an individual, but 'ex persona Ecclesiae'. He speaks as a man of the Church, certainly as a person, with personal responsibility, but also as a person who speaks on behalf of the Church ... in communion with the Church."

"I believe that it is also important that at the end of the letter he names Silvanus and Mark, two people who belonged to the group of St. Paul's friends. Thus, the worlds of St. Peter and St. Paul come together; it is not an exclusively Petrine theology as opposed to a Pauline theology. Rather, it is a theology of the Church, of the faith of the Church, in which there is of course a diversity of temperament, of thought, of style. It is good that there are differences—different charisms, different temperaments—then as well as now. These differences do not divide but are united in the same faith."

"St. Peter writes from Rome. This is important: here we already have the Bishop of Rome, the beginning of the succession, the basis of the concrete primacy located in Rome, not only given by the Lord but also placed in this city, capital of the world. Ever since his flight from Herod's prison, Peter entrusted the Judeo-Christian church, the church of Jerusalem, to James and, in entrusting it to James, remained without qualification primate of the universal Church, primate of the Church of the pagans as well as primate of the Judeo-Christian Church ... In Rome he met both parts of the Church: the Judeo-Christian and the Pagan-Christian united, an expression of the universal Church. And Peter was not alone in thinking of this movement: Jerusalem/Rome, Judeo-Christian Church/Universal Church. St. Paul knew that his end would be martyrdom, would be the cross. Therefore, to go to Rome was without doubt to go to martyrdom. The primacy has this universal component and also a martyriological component. The cross can take many different forms, but one cannot be Christian without following the Crucified, without accepting also the martyriological moment."

"St. Peter called those to whom he wrote 'the chosen ones who are dispersed aliens'. Once again we have the paradox of glory and the cross: chosen but dispersed and strangers. We are chosen: God knows us always, since before we were born. God wanted me, as Christian, as Catholic, as priest ... he chose me, he loved me, and now I respond. But to rejoice because God has chosen us is not triumphalism but gratitude, and I think that we have to learn this joy. Without doubt, 'chosen ones' needs to be accompanied by strangers and dispersed ones. As Christians, we are dispersed and we are strangers. We see that today Christians in the world today are the most persecuted group because they do not conform, because they go against the tendencies toward egoism and materialism."

"Certainly Christians are not only strangers; we are also Christian nations, we feel proud to have contributed to the formation of culture. There is a healthy patriotism, a healthy joy in belonging to a nation that has a great history of culture and faith. However, without doubt, as Christians we are always strangers; this is the destiny of Abraham, as it is described in the Letter to the Hebrews. Today, as Christians we are each time more strangers than before. In the workforce, Christians are a minority and encounter a situation of alienation. It is remarkable that today one can still believe and live in this way. It is part of our life: it is the way of being with Christ Crucified, being strangers, who do not live the way everyone else lives. We live—or at least we try to live—according to his Word, in a great diversity, respectful of what everyone says. This is characteristic of Christians."

"Finally we arrive at today's three verses. I would only like to point out three words: regenerated, inheritance, and safeguarded by faith. Regenerated: this does not only refer to the area of the will; it refers to the whole sphere of being. It does not depend only on my will; it is an act of God ... I am reborn. I am transformed, renewed. Being reborn, being regenerated indicates that I become part of a new family: God, My Father; the Church, my Mother; and other Christians, my brothers and sisters."

"The second word: Inheritance. We are heirs, but not heirs of specific country but of the land of God, of the future of God. This word says that as Christians we have the future. Thus, as Christians, we know that ours is the future, and the tree of the Church is not a dying tree but a tree that grows ever new. Therefore, we have reason to not let ourselves be moved by the prophets of doom, as John XXIII said, who say that the Church is a tree grown from a mustard seed, which has lived two thousand years but now her time is past and the time to die has arrived. No. The church always renews itself; it is continually reborn. The future is ours. Of course, there is a false optimism and a false pessimism. A false pessimism says that the time of Christianity has come to an end. No: it begins again! A false optimism was that witnessed immediately after the Council when convents and seminaries were closed and people said: it doesn't matter, everything is good. No: this is not good! There are also serious and grave dangers. We have to recognize with a healthy realism that all is not well. It is not good when they do wrong things. At the same time, we have to be sure that even though here and there the Church dies for the sins of humans, because of their lack of belief, at the same time, it is reborn."

"Finally, 'safeguarded by faith'. Faith is like the 'sentinel' that preserves the integrity of my being. We have to be grateful for this vigilance of faith that protects us, that helps us, that guides us, and that gives us safety. God will not let us fall from his hands."

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