(Madrid, 28th October 2015) “The world looks at us, the people who believe (…). We have to leave the world better than we found it. In order to encourage the interfaith dialogue, the best thing we can do is praying. In God everything is possible”. This is the exhortation expressed by Pope Francis in his greeting in Spanish language during the general audience in Saint Peter’s Square, before addressing “the Spanish-speaking pilgrims, in particular the participants in the fifth Congress of the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation, “La oración, fuerza que cambia el mundo” (The prayer and the power to change the world), that was held in Madrid”. A deafening applause by the 300 participants in the international congress welcomed the Pope’s greeting in the main hall of the Francisco de Vitoria University in Madrid. The topic of the congress, “La oración, fuerza que cambia el mundo”, refers to Benedict’s speech in the context of the fifth centenary of the birth of Saint Teresa of Jesus.
The cardinal Ricardo Blázquez Pérez, archbishop of Valladolid and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference opened the Congress and said he is grateful to the Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He said “The first time I met him was during the funeral of cardinal Döpfner in Munich. He was a theology professor in Regensburg. My theological education was influenced by Professor Ratzinger because he gave a great contribution to the Church.” “I would like to thank him also because when he was prefect, he guided the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. I will never forget his good attitude during the meetings we had in the past”. “As a Pope he was a great present for the Church. Many of his homilies remind the homilies of the Fathers of the Church”.
“What makes a man free – the apostolic nuncio in Spain Msgr. Renzo Fratini affirmed in his greeting – is the reason going to the Truth, that is a person, Jesus Christ”. “The prayer means hope – he added – it allow us to listen to God and speak to Him”.
The rector of the Francisco de Vitoria University Daniel Sada Castaño spoke about the truth: he quoted Benedict’s words during the apostolic journey in Madrid in 2011 and he said that “the University has always been as a house where people looked for the human truth”.
“Man without God lives in a desert land” the President of the Ratzinger Foundation Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti said in his speech. “Contemporary man is always looking for something, but he can’t harmonize his heart with his mind and the creative power of God on High”. “At the beginning of an International Congress of a great scientific value, organized by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation – Msgr. Scotti added – we would like to look at the man with Teresa’s eyes and heart. She was the mystic, the woman who understood how important the prayer was. This is because we want to donate a better future to the mankind, and we believe in what Pope Francis suggested: “When I pray, God is breathing inside me”.
The Carmelite father Miguel Márquez, president of the Foundation Fifth Centenary of the Birth of Saint Teresa of Jesus, noticed that “Today our faith needs more incentives, similar to the ones given from the Ratzinger Foundation. The aim of Congress, said the father, is “to foster theological reflection on Christian and Teresian prayer. Saint Teresa told us to become tireless witnesses of God, of his presence and action and to be His friends”.
The first presentation was that of the archbishop of Madrid, Msgr. Carlos Osoro Sierra, on the topic “La oración, fuerza que cambia el mundo”. “The prayer means hope and it explains the reason why it is possible to hope: we can enter in contact with God, the God of the world and history, he can listen to us and we listen to him”; the archbishop said. “Saint Teresa – said Msgr. Osoro Sierra, proposes two different values. Freedom because God does not oblige you, he only waits for a free answer, and communication, because man is a relational being.
It is possible to follow the Congress in streaming on the website www.ufv.es/ratzinger2015, and to ask questions online to the participants.
Participants in the Congress are, among others: the Jesuit Gabino Uribarri Bilbao, full Professor of Theology and Dean of the Faculty of Theology at the Universidad Pontificia Comillas and member of the International Theology Commission, who will report on “Jesus’s prayer according to Joseph Ratzinger, theologian and Pope”, father Bernardo Estrada, full Professor of New Testament at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome, who will report on “Saint Teresa of Jesus: the prayer no pensar mucho sino amar mucho”, the Carmelite father Emilio Martínez, who will report on “How to communicate the joy we have received. The love for Christ, as a symbol of evangelization in Saint Teresa of Jesus and the teachings of Benedict XVI”, the archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who will talk about Orationis formas, the letter about some aspects of Christian meditation, that was sent on 15th October 1989 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the bishops of the Catholic Church.
One of the two round-tables will be leaded by the Professors Pablo Blanco, from the University of Navarra (The prayer and the power to change the mankind), Ángel Barahona Plaza, dean of the Faculty of Human Sciences of the Francisco de Vitoria University, (The prayer and the power to change the family), María del Rosario Sáez Yuguero, rector of the Catholic University of Avila (The prayer and the power to change the University). Professors Mariusz Kucinski, dean of the Ratzinger Study Centre of Bydgoszcz, Poland (New relationships and social networks), María del Carmen de la Calle, Professor of Social Sciences at the Francisco de Vitoria University, (The heart of a young man) and Javier Menéndez Ros, director of “Ayuda a la Iglesia Necesitada” in Spain (The Church and the commitment towards Christian persecution) will participate in the second round-table.
Msgr. Giuseppe Scotti will make the final speech of the Congress.
The previous Congresses of the Foundation were in Bydgoszcz (Poland, 2011), Río de Janeiro (Brazil, 2012), Rome (Italy 2013) and Medellin (Colombia, 2014).