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Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity 2008

Pope Benedict XVI was in Genova on the feast of the Most Holy Trinity 2008, on his apostolic pilgrimage to Savona and Genova. He began by visiting La Madonna della Guardia on Monte Figogna, to whom he gave a gold rose. He then visited Giannina Gaslini Hospital ahead of a meeting with young people in Piazza Matteotti, where he recited the angelus before going to the Cathedral of San Lorenzo and speaking with consecrated religious. Mass was celebrated in the afternoon in Piazza della Vittoria.

In 1490 Our Lady appeared on Monte Figogna to Benedetto Pareto, asking him to build a chapel on the mountain. Benedetto was worried because he did not know how to respond to the invitation to build a chapel in this place so far from the City. Our Lady said: "Trust in me! You will not lack the means. With my help it will all be easy for you. Only be firm in your will." "Trust in me!" A few days later, Benedetto fell from a tree and was seriously injured. Our Lady appeared to him again and he was miraculously healed. This convinced him to speak about the apparition and to seek help to build the chapel. Our Lady was called here 'La Madonna della Guardia' as the mountain area was known as La Guardia, with its impressive view out to sea.

Benedict XVI's speech at Giannina Gaslini Paediatric Hospital
Sunday 18th May 2008 in Genoa - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Madam Mayor, Mr Extraordinary Commissioner,
Dear Children, Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After having prayed at the feet of the Madonna della Guardia, in the beautiful Shrine that overlooks the City from above, my first meeting is with you, in this place of suffering and hope, which was inaugurated on 15 May 1938, exactly 70 years ago. I embrace you, dearest children who are admitted to and cared for with attention and love in this Hospital, "a place of excellence" for paediatrics at the service of Genoa, Italy, and the entire Mediterranean area. Your spokesperson has expressed to me your sentiments of affection, which I warmly reciprocate and accompany with a special thought for your parents too. A cordial greeting to Mrs Marta Vincenzi, Mayor of Genoa, who has expressed the City's welcome. I greet Prof. Vincenzo Lorenzelli, Extraordinary Commissioner of the "Giannina Gaslini" Institute who has recalled this Hospital's aims and the future developments planned.

The Gaslini project was born in the heart of a generous benefactor, the industrialist and Senator Gerolamo Gaslini, who dedicated this institute to his daughter who died when she was only 12 years old. It is part of the history of charity which makes Genoa a "city of Christian charity". Today too, faith inspires in many people of good will acts of love and material support for this Institute, which, with justifiable pride, the Genoese regard as a precious patrimony. I thank you all and encourage you to continue. In particular, I rejoice at the new complex whose foundation stone was laid recently and which has found a munificent donor. The effective, cordial attention of the public Administration is also a sign of recognition for the social value of the Gaslini institute for the children of the City and beyond. Indeed, when a good is destined for all it deserves the contribution of all, with the proper respect for roles and competence.

I now address you, dear doctors, researchers, paramedical and administrative staff; and you, dear chaplains, volunteers and all who are involved in offering spiritual assistance to the small patients and their relatives. I know that you are unanimously committed to ensuring that the Gaslini Institute is an authentic "sanctuary of life" and a "sanctuary of the family", where workers in every sector combine loving attention for the person with their professionalism. The decision of the Founder, who held that the President of the Foundation must be the pro-tempore Archbishop of Genoa, expresses the wish that the Christian inspiration of the Institute may never be lacking and that everyone may always be sustained by the Gospel values.

In 1931, when he was laying the foundations of the structure, Senator Gerolamo Gaslini predicted "the perennial work of good that must shine out from the Institute itself". Hence your Hospital's aim is to radiate goodness through the loving care of sick children. Therefore, while I thank all the personnel - managerial, administrative and medical - for their professionalism and dedicated service, I express the hope that this excellent Paediatric Institute may continue to develop its technologies, treatments and services, but also to extend its horizons increasingly in that perspective of positive globalization for which resources, services and needs are recognized, creating and reinforcing a network of solidarity that is so urgently needed today. And all this must never lack that supplement of affection which the little patients feel to be as important as the indispensable treatment. The Hospital will then become ever more a place of hope.

Hope at the Gaslini institute is expressed in the care of paediatric patients, for whom help is provided through the continuous formation of health-care workers. In fact, as an esteemed Institute for scientific research and treatment, your Hospital is known for being monothematic and multifunctional, covering almost all the specializations in the paediatric sector. Hence the hope that is fostered here is well-founded. Yet, to face the future effectively, it is indispensable that this hope be sustained by a loftier vision of life that enables the scientist, the doctor, the professional, the nurse and the parents themselves to devote all their capacities, sparing no efforts to obtain the best results that science and technology can offer today at the level of prevention and treatment. Then comes the thought of God's silent presence which, almost imperceptibly, accompanies the human being on his long journey through history. True "dependable" hope is God alone, who in Jesus Christ and in his Gospel opened wide the dark door of time to the future. "I am risen and now I am always with you", Jesus repeats to us, especially at the most difficult moments: "my hand supports you. Wherever you might fall, you will fall into my arms. I am present even at the threshold of death."

It is children who are treated here at the Gaslini institute. How is it possible not to recall Jesus' special love for children? He wanted them beside him, he pointed them out to the Apostles as models to follow in their spontaneous, generous faith, in their innocence. With harsh words he warned people against despising or shocking them. He was moved by the widow of Nain, a mother who had lost her son, her only son. The Evangelist Luke wrote that the Lord reassured her and said to her: "Do not weep" (cf Lk 7, 13). Still today Jesus repeats these comforting words to those in pain: "Do not weep." He is in solidarity with each one of us and asks us if we want to be his disciples, to bear witness to his love for anyone who finds themself in difficulty.

Lastly, I address you, dearest children, to repeat to you that the Pope loves you. I see your relatives beside you, who share with you moments of anxiety and hope. You may all rest assured: God never abandons us. Stay united to Him and you will never lose your serenity, not even in the darkest and most difficult moments. I assure you of my remembrance in prayer and entrust you to Mary Most Holy who as mother suffered for the sufferings of her divine Son but now lives with Him in glory. I thank each one of you again for this meeting, which will remain impressed on my heart. I bless you all with affection."

Papa BXVI's address at a meeting with the Young People of Genova
Piazza Matteotti, Genoa, Sunday 18th May 2008 in Genoa - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dearest Young People,
Unfortunately I am being pursued by the rain in these days but let us take it as a sign of blessing, of fertility for the land, as well as a symbol of the Holy Spirit who comes and renews the earth, even the arid terrain of our souls. You are the youth of Genoa! I am happy to see you here! I embrace you with the Heart of Christ! I thank the two representatives who have acted as your "spokespersons". And I thank you all for your work of preparation, not only external but above all spiritual: with the Eucharistic adoration and the prayer vigil you have really reached out to the Holy Spirit and, in the Spirit, you enter the Feast of the Most Holy Trinity that we are celebrating today. Thank you for this journey you have made! And I thank you for the enthusiasm that must always be a feature of your soul, not only in the years of your youth, full of expectations and dreams, but always, even when the years of youth are over and you will be called to live other seasons. But we must all remain young in heart! It is beautiful to be young and today everyone wants to be young, to stay young, and they disguise themselves as young, even if the time of youth has passed, visibly passed. And I wonder - I have thought about it - why is it beautiful to be young? What is the reason for the dream of eternal youth? It seems to me that there are two crucial elements: youth still has the whole future before it. Everything is in the future, a time of hope. The future is full of promises. To be sincere, we must say that for many people the future is also dark, full of threats. One wonders: will I find a job? Will I find somewhere to live? Will I find love? What will my true future be? And in the face of these threats, the future can also appear as a great void. Today, therefore, many desire to stop time for fear of a future in emptiness. They want to enjoy all the beauties of life instantly - and in this way the oil in the lamp is consumed just as life is beginning. Thus it is important to choose the true promises that pave the way to the future, even with sacrifices. Those who have chosen God still have before them in old age a future without end and without threats. It is therefore vital to choose well, not to destroy the future. And the first and fundamental choice must be God, God revealed in the Son Jesus Christ, and in the light of this choice which at the same time offers us company on the way, trustworthy company that never abandons me, in the light of this choice criteria are found to make the other necessary choices. Being young implies being good and generous and once again true goodness is Jesus himself, that Jesus whom you know or whom your heart is seeking: he is the Friend who never betrays, faithful to the point of giving his life on the Cross. Surrender to his love! As you have printed on the tee-shirts made for this Meeting, "scioglietevi" [soften] before Jesus for he alone can melt your anxieties and fears and fulfil your expectations. He gave his life for us, for each one of us. Could he ever betray your trust? Could he lead you on the wrong paths? His are the ways of life, the ways that lead to the pastures of the soul, even if they rise steeply and are daunting. It is the spiritual life that I am asking you to cultivate, dear friends. Jesus said: "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing" (Jn 15, 5). Jesus comes to the point, he is clear and direct. Everyone understands him and takes a stand. The life of the soul is the encounter with him, the actual Face of God; it is silent, persevering prayer, it is sacramental life, it is the Gospel meditated upon, it is spiritual guidance, it is cordial membership in the Church, in your ecclesial communities.

Yet how can one love, how can one enter into friendship with someone unknown? Knowledge is an incentive to love and love stimulates knowledge. This is how it is with Christ too. To find love with Christ, to truly find him as the companion of our lives, we must first of all be acquainted with him. Like the two disciples who followed him after hearing the words of John the Baptist and asked him timidly, "Rabbi, where are you staying?", they wanted to know him better. It was Jesus himself, talking to his disciples who made the distinction: "Who do people say that I am?", referring to those who knew him from afar, so to speak, by hear-say, and "Who do you say that I am?", referring to those who knew him personally, having lived with him and having truly penetrated his private life, to the point of witnessing his prayer, his dialogue with the Father. Thus, it is also important for us not to reduce ourselves merely to the superficiality of the many who have heard something about him - that he was an important figure, etc - but to enter into a personal relationship to know him truly. And this demands knowledge of Scripture, especially of the Gospels where the Lord speaks to us. These words are not always easy, but in entering into them, entering into dialogue, knocking at the door of words, saying to the Lord, "Let me in", we truly find words of eternal life, living words for today, as timely as they were then and as they will be in the future. This conversation with the Lord in Scripture must always be a conversation that is not only individual but communal, in the great communion of the Church where Christ is ever present, in the communion of the liturgy, of the very personal encounter with the Holy Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, where the Lord says to me "I forgive you". And another very important step to take is to help the poor in need, to make time for others. There are many dimensions for entering into knowledge of Jesus; also, of course the lives of saints. You have plenty of Saints here in Liguria, in Genoa, who help us discover the true Face of Jesus. Only in this way, by being personally acquainted with Jesus, can we also communicate this friendship to others. We can overcome indifference. Because even if it seems invincible - in fact, indifference sometimes appears not to need a God - in fact, everyone knows that something is missing in his life. Only after discovering Jesus do we realize "this is what I was waiting for". And, the truer a friend of Jesus we are, the better able we are to open our hearts to others so that they too may become truly young and have a great future before them.

At the end of our Meeting I shall have the joy of presenting the Gospel to some of you as a sign of a missionary mandate. Dear young people, venture forth into the milieus of life, your parishes, the most difficult districts, the streets! Proclaim Christ the Lord, the hope of the world. The further people drift from God, their Source, the more they lose themselves, the more difficult human coexistence becomes and the more society crumbles. Stay united to one another, help one another to live and to increase in faith and in Christian life to be daring witnesses of the Lord. Be united but not closed. Be humble but not fearful. Be simple but non ingenuous. Be thoughtful but not complicated. Enter into dialogue with all, but be yourselves. Remain in communion with your Pastors: they are ministers of the Gospel, of the Divine Eucharist, of God's forgiveness. They are fathers and friends for you, your companions on the way. You need them and they - we all - need you.

If each one of you, dear young people, remains united to Christ and to the Church, he or she can do great things. This is the hope I leave you to carry out. I say goodbye until Sydney to those of you who have enrolled to go to the World Meeting in July, and I extend it to all, because anyone will be able to follow the event from here as well. I know that in those days the dioceses will be organizing some special community events so that there will truly be a new Pentecost for the young people of the whole world. I entrust you to the Virgin Mary, a model of availability and of humble courage in accepting the Lord's mission. Learn from her to make your life a "yes" to God! In this way Jesus will come to dwell within you and you will take him joyfully to all. With my Blessing!"

Benedict XVI's address in the Cattedrale di San Lorenzo, Genova
at a meeting with the Cathedral Chapter & Consecrated Religious - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Your Eminences, Dear Members of the Cathedral Chapter,
Dear Men and Women Religious,
In this brief but intense pastoral visit to Genoa I could not omit a visit to your famous Cathedral, dedicated to St Lawrence, which preserves the relics of St John the Baptist, the Precursor of Jesus. I am happy to meet the Canons of the venerable Metropolitan Chapter and the men and women Religious present and working in the Archdiocese. This church, surrounded by a network of alleys, seems to be the point of convergence and arrival of every path as though people desired to come out from the shade of the narrow streets into the light of their Cathedral, as if they wanted to come out into the light of God that welcomes, embraces, illuminates and restores all. I offer my cordial greeting to each one of you. I address a special greeting to Mons Mario Grone, Head of the Cathedral Chapter, and Fr Domenico Rossi, Diocesan Delegate for Consecrated Life, who have expressed your devout sentiments.

In past centuries, the Church of Genoa had a rich tradition of holiness and generous service to the brethren, thanks to the work of zealous priests and men and women religious of both active and contemplative life. Here the names of various Saints and Blesseds spring to mind: Antonio Maria Gianelli, Agostino Roscelli, Tommaso Reggio, Francesco Maria da Camporosso, Caterina Fieschi Adorno, Virginia Centurione Bracelli, Paola Frassinetti, Eugenia Ravasco, Maria Repetto, Benedetta Cambiagio Frassinello. But even now, notwithstanding the difficulties that society is going through, the enthusiasm for evangelization is strong in your communities. What has grown in particular is the common desire to have closer relations of ever more brotherly understanding in order to collaborate in the missionary action promoted throughout the Archdiocese. In fact, in compliance with the guidelines of the Italian Bishops' Conference, you wish to adopt an ongoing state of mission as a testimony of the joy of the Gospel and an explicit invitation to encounter Jesus Christ that is addressed to all. Here I am among you, dear friends, to encourage you to walk in this direction.

In particular, I would like to point out to you as an example the Apostle Paul, whose special Jubilee we are preparing to celebrate on the occasion of the 2000th anniversary of his birth. After his conversion to Christ on the road to Damascus he dedicated himself without reserve to the Gospel cause. For Christ he faced trials of all kinds and stayed faithful to him until the sacrifice of his life. Having come to the end of his earthly pilgrimage, he wrote to Timothy his faithful disciple: "For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4, 6-7). May each one of us, dear brothers and sisters, be able to say the same thing on the last day of our own life. In order for this to happen, and it is what the Lord expects of his friends, we must cultivate the same missionary spirit that animated St Paul with constant spiritual, ascetic and pastoral formation. Above all, we must become "specialists" in listening to God and credible examples of a holiness that is expressed in fidelity to the Gospel without yielding to the spirit of the world. As Cardinal Giuseppe Siri, a zealous Pastor of this Archdiocese for several decades and now buried in this Cathedral of yours, wrote: "Religious life pivots around God and arranges all things around God and thus becomes a witness of God and the call of God" (Letter to all the Women Religious, 15 August 1953).

Dear Members of the Chapter of Canons of the Cathedral, in attending to the liturgies which take place here, may you remember that everything in us is invigorated by personal and liturgical prayer. Once again it was Cardinal Siri who stressed that "the most venerable and holiest action, worthy of all consideration and regard, of all honour and distinction which is carried out in a diocese is the solemn celebration of the Divine Office, in other words what you do.... The entire Diocese, and in a certain sense the entire Church, prays through your lips. The debt of the diocesan family of the faithful is discharged before God primarily with this prayer of yours" (Pastoral Letter to the Canons, 24 January 1953).

Dearest brothers and sisters and in particular you consecrated persons, I thank you for your presence. It is a presence old and ever new, despite your dwindling numbers and strength. But be confident: our times are not those of God and of his Providence. It is necessary to pray and to increase in personal and community holiness. The Lord provides. I ask you never to consider yourselves as though you were in the "twilight" of life: Christ is the eternal dawn, our light. I ask you to persevere in your institutions and especially in your presence: the death of your communities impoverishes you but also Genoa. The poor, the sick, families, children, our Parishes: all this forms a valuable context for service and gift in order to build the Church and serve humankind. I especially recommend to you the education of children and young people: you know that it is the educational challenge which is most urgent because without an authentic human education it is impossible to go far. And all of you, although in different ways, have had an educational experience in the past. We must help parents in their extraordinary and difficult educational task; we must help Parishes and groups; we must continue even with great sacrifices, Catholic schools which are a great treasure of the Christian community and a true resource for the Country.

Dear Canons and dear men and women Religious, the long spiritual tradition of Genoa includes six Popes, among whom I remember above all Benedict XV of venerable memory, the Pope of peace. In Humani Generis Redemptionem he wrote, "What gives a man's words life and vigour and makes them promote wonderfully the salvation of souls is divine grace" [n. 17]. Let us never forget it: being called to proclaim together the joy of Christ and the beauty of the Church is what binds us. This joy and this beauty, which come from the Spirit, are a gift and a sign of God's presence in our souls. In order to be witnesses and heralds of the saving message we cannot rely solely on our human forces. It is God's own fidelity that encourages and shapes fidelity to him: for this reason let us be guided by the Spirit of truth and love. This is the invitation that I address to each one of you, corroborating it with a special remembrance in prayer. I entrust you all to the Madonna della Guardia, to St Lawrence, to St John the Baptist and to your Patron Saints. With these sentiments I bless you wholeheartedly."

Papa Benedetto's words at the Angelus in Piazza Matteotti, Genova
Domenica, 18 maggio 2008 - also in Croatian, French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In the middle of my pastoral visit to Genoa, we have come to the time of the usual Sunday appointment of the Angelus and the Shrine of Nostra Signora della Guardia, where I prayed this morning, is naturally in my mind. Pope Benedict XV, your illustrious fellow citizen, often went on pilgrimage to that mountain oasis. It was he who had a copy of the beloved image of the Madonna della Guardia set up in the Vatican Gardens. And, like my Venerable Predecessor John Paul II on his first apostolic pilgrimage to Genoa, I too would like to begin my pastoral visit with a tribute to the heavenly Mother of God who watches over the City and all its inhabitants from the summit of Mount Figogna.

Tradition claims that Benedetto Pareto, who was worried because he did not know how to respond to the invitation to build a chapel in that place so far from the City, Our Lady in her first apparition said: "Trust in me! You will not lack the means. With my help it will all be easy for you. Only be firm in your will." "Trust in me!" Today Mary repeats this to us. An ancient prayer, very dear to popular tradition, leads us to address to her these trusting words which today we make our own: "Remember, O Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help or sought thy intercession, was left unaided." It is with this certainty that we invoke the maternal assistance of the Madonna della Guardia upon your diocesan community, its pastors, its consecrated people and its lay faithful: the young, the families and the elderly. Let us ask her in particular to watch over the sick and all the suffering and to make fruitful the missionary initiatives that are under way in order to bring the proclamation of the Gospel to all. Let us entrust to Mary the whole of this City with its variegated population, its cultural, social and economic activities, the problems and challenges of our time and the dedication of all who cooperate for the common good.

My gaze now extends to the whole of Liguria, spangled with churches and Marian shrines, set like a crown between the sea and the mountains. Together with you, I thank God for the robust, tenacious faith of the past generations that down the centuries wrote memorable pages of holiness and human civilization. In particular, Liguria and Genoa have always been an open land on the Mediterranean and on the whole world; how many missionaries set out from this port for the Americas and for other distant lands! How many people emigrated from here to other countries, perhaps poor in material resources but rich in faith and the human and spiritual values which they subsequently transplanted to the places where they landed! May Mary, Star of the Sea, continue to shine upon Genoa; may Mary, Star of Hope, continue to guide the Genoese on their journey, especially the new generations so that, with her help, they may take the right route across the often stormy seas of life."

After the Angelus:
"I would now like to recall an important event that will begin tomorrow in Dublin, Ireland: the Diplomatic Conference on cluster munitions, convoked in order to produce a Convention that bans these lethal devices. I hope that thanks to the responsibility of all participants it will be possible to achieve a strong and credible international treaty: indeed, it is essential to remedy past errors and avoid their repetition in the future. I accompany with my prayers the victims of cluster bombs and their families, as well as those who will be taking part in the Conference, as I express my best wishes for its success.

I greet all the young people and all those present once again. Thank you for your presence. Good-bye and may the Lord bless you."

Benedict XVI's homily at Mass in Genova
Piazza della Vittoria, Sunday 18 May 2008 - also in French, German, Italian, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the end of a full day spent in your City, we are gathered around the altar to celebrate the Eucharist on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. From this central square, Piazza della Vittoria, which welcomes us for the communal service of praise and thanksgiving to God with which my pastoral visit concludes, I extend my most cordial greeting to the entire civil and ecclesial community of Genoa. I first greet with affection the Archbishop, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, whom I thank for the courtesy with which he welcomed me and for his touching words at the beginning of Holy Mass. Then how can I omit greeting Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, my Secretary of State, former Pastor of this ancient and noble Church? My most cordial thanks to him for his spiritual closeness and his precious collaboration. I next greet Auxiliary Bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti, the Bishops of Liguria and the other Prelates. I address my respectful thoughts to the Civil Authorities to whom I am grateful for their welcome and the effective support they have lent to the preparations for and execution of this apostolic pilgrimage. In particular, I greet Minister Claudio Scaiola, representing the new Government, who in these very days has assumed his full functions at the service of the beloved Italian Nation. I then address with deep gratitude the priests, men and women religious, the deacons, committed lay people, the seminarians and young people. My affectionate greeting to you all, dear brothers and sisters. I extend my thoughts to those who were unable to be present and especially to the sick, to the people who are alone and to all who are in difficulty. I entrust the City of Genoa and all its inhabitants to the Lord at this solemn Eucharistic concelebration which, as on every Sunday, invites us to take part as a community in the double table of the Word of Truth and the Bread of Eternal Life.

In the First Reading (Ex 34, 4b-6, 8-9) we heard a biblical text that presents to us the revelation of God's Name. It is God himself, Eternal and Invisible, who proclaims it, passing before Moses in the cloud on Mount Sinai. And his Name is: "The Lord, a God merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness". In the New Testament St John sums up this sentence in a single word: "Love" (cf 1 Jn 4, 8,16). Today's Gospel also testifies to this: "God so loved the world that he gave his Only Son" (Jn 3, 16). Consequently this Name clearly expresses that the God of the Bible is not some kind of monad closed in on itself and satisfied with his own self-sufficiency but is life that wishes to communicate itself, is openness, relationship. Words like "merciful", "compassionate", "rich in grace" all speak to us of a relationship, in particular, of a vital Being who offers himself, who wants to fill every gap, every shortage, who wants to give and to forgive, who desires to establish a solid and lasting bond. Sacred Scripture knows no other God than the God of the Covenant who created the world in order to pour out his love upon all creatures and chose a people with which to make a nuptial pact, to make it become a blessing for all the nations and so to form a great family of the whole of humanity (cf Gn 12, 1-3; Ex 19, 3-6). This revelation of God is fully delineated in the New Testament though the word of Christ. Jesus showed us the Face of God, one in Essence and Triune in Persons: God is Love, Father Love - Son Love - Holy Spirit Love. And it is precisely in the name of this God that the Apostle Paul greets the Community of Corinth: "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God [the Father] and the fellowship of the Holy Sprit be with you all" (2 Cor 13, 14).

There is thus, in these Readings, contained a principal that regards God and in effect today's Feast invites us to contemplate Him, the Lord. It invites us in a certain sense to scale "the mountain" as Moses did. This seems at first sight to take us far from the world and its problems but in fact one discovers that it is precisely by coming to know God more intimately that one receives fundamental instructions for this our life: something like what happened to Moses who, climbing Sinai and remaining in God's presence, received the law engraved on stone tablets from which the people drew the guidance to continue, to find freedom and to form themselves as a people in liberty and justice. Our history depends on God's Name and our journey on the light of his Face.

From this reality of God, which He himself made known to us by revealing his "name" to us, comes a certain image of man, that is, the exact concept of the person. If God is a dialogical unity, a being in relation, the human creature made in his image and likeness reflects this constitution: thus he is called to fulfil himself in dialogue, in conversation, in encounter. In particular, Jesus has revealed to us that man is essentially a "son", a creature who lives in relationship with God the Father, and in this way in relationship with all his brothers and sisters. Man is not fulfilled in an absolute autonomy, deceiving himself that he is God but, on the contrary, by recognizing himself as a child, an open creature, reaching out to God and to his brethren in whose faces he discovers the image of their common Father. One can easily see that this concept of God and man is at the base of a corresponding model of the human community, and therefore of society. It is a model that comes before any normative, juridical or institutional regulations but I would say even before cultural specifications. It is a model of the human family transversal to all civilizations, which we Christians express confirming that human beings are all children of God and therefore all brothers and sisters. This is a truth that has been behind us from the outset and at the same time is always before us, like a project to strive for in every social construction.

The Magisterium of the Church which has developed from this vision of God and of man is a very rich one. It suffices to run through the most important chapters of the Social Doctrine of the Church, to which my venerable Predecessors have made substantial contributions, especially in the past 120 years, making themselves authoritative interpreters and guides of the social movement of Christian inspiration. Here I would like to mention only a recent Pastoral Note of the Italian Episcopate: "Rigenerati per una speranza viva': Testimoni del grande 'si' di Dio all'uomo" (29 June 2007). This Note proposes two priorities. First of all, the choice of the "primacy of God": all the Church's life and work depend on putting God in first place, not a generic God but rather the Lord with his Name and his Face, the God of the Covenant who brought the people out of slavery in Egypt, who raised Christ from the dead and who wants to lead humanity to freedom in peace and justice. The other choice is to put the person and the unity of his life at the centre, in the various contexts in which he is deployed: emotional life, work and celebration, in his own fragility, tradition and citizenship. The Triune God and the person in relationship: these are the two references that the Church has the duty to offer to every human generation as a service to build a free and supportive society. The Church certainly does so with her doctrine, but above all through her witness which, with reason, is the third fundamental choice of the Italian Episcopate: personal and community witness in which the spiritual life, pastoral mission and the cultural dimension converge.

In a society fraught between globalization and individualism, the Church is called to offer a witness of koinon├Ča, of communion. This reality does not come "from below" but is a mystery which, so to speak, "has its roots in Heaven", in the Triune God himself. It is He, in himself, who is the eternal dialogue of love which was communicated to us in Jesus Christ and woven into the fabric of humanity and history to lead it to fullness. And here then is the great synthesis of the Second Vatican Council: the Church, mystery of communion, "in Christ is in the nature of sacrament - a sign and instrument, that is, of communion with God and of unity among all men" (Lumen Gentium, 1). Here too, in this great City, as well as in its territory with the variety of the respective human and social problems, the ecclesial Community, today as yesterday, is first of all the sign, poor but true, of God Love whose name is impressed in the depths of the being of every person and in every experience of authentic sociability and solidarity.

After these reflections, dear brothers and sisters, I leave you some special exhortations. Take care of spiritual and catechetical formation, a "substantial" formation that is more necessary than ever to live the Christian vocation well in today's world. I say to adults and young people: foster a thought-out faith that can engage in profound dialogue with all, with our non-Catholic brethren, with non-Christians and with non-believers. Continue your generous sharing with the poor and the weak, in accordance with the Church's original praxis, always drawing inspiration and strength from the Eucharist, the perennial source of charity. With special affection I encourage seminarians and young people involved in a vocational journey: do not be afraid; indeed, may you feel the attraction of definitive choices, of a serious and demanding formative process. The high standard of discipleship alone fascinates and gives joy. I urge all to grow in the missionary dimension which is co-essential to communion. Indeed, the Trinity is at the same time unity and mission: the more intense love is, the stronger is the urge to pour it out, to spread it, to communicate it. Church of Genoa, be united and missionary to proclaim to all the joy of faith and the beauty of being the Family of God. My thought extends to the entire City, to all the Genoese and to all who live and work in this territory. Dear friends, look to the future with confidence and seek to build it together, avoiding factiousness and particularism, putting the common good before your own specific legitimate interests.

I would like to conclude with a wish that I have taken from the stupendous prayer of Moses which we heard in the First Reading: let the Lord always walk in the midst of you and make you his heritage (cf Ex 34, 9). May the intercession of Mary Most Holy, whom the Genoese, at home and throughout the world, invoke as the Madonna della Guardia obtain this for you. With her help and that of the Holy Patrons of your beloved City and Region, may your faith and works always be in praise and glory of the Most Holy Trinity. Following the example of the Saints of this earth, be a missionary community: listening to God and at the service of men and women! Amen."