"Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Today marks the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council. I remember well the enthusiasm, the hope and the joy, not only of the bishops, but of the whole Church during that period. As we begin tomorrow the Year of Faith, it is more necessary than ever to return to the documents of this great Council, which was convoked, in the words of Blessed John the twenty-third, to proclaim the truths of the faith in a “renewed” way, all the while keeping intact their perennial content.
Our own era, which has forgotten God, needs to be reminded of the profound message of the Council, that Christianity consists of faith in the triune God and in a personal and communal encounter with Christ who orients and gives meaning to life. Everything else flows from this.
As in the time of the Council, may we in our time recognize with clarity that God is present, he is watching over us, he responds to us, and that when man forgets God, he forgets what is essential to his own human dignity. The fiftieth anniversary of the Council thus reminds us that the Church, in all its members, has the task of transmitting the message of God’s love which saves and which leads us to eternal beatitude.
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims, visitors and groups present today, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Ghana, Australia, India, Japan, Malaysia, Canada and the United States. Upon all of you, I invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace!"