It really is a great joy for me to be with you this morning and to celebrate Holy Mass with you and for you. Indeed, my Visit to Santa Maria Consolatrice, the first Roman parish I have been to since the Lord wished to summon me to be Bishop of Rome, is for me, in a very real and concrete sense, a return home.
I remember very well that 15 October 1977 on which I took possession of this titular church of mine. Fr Ennio Appignanesi was parish priest and Fr Enrico Pomili and Fr Franco Camaldo were the parochial vicars. The master of ceremonies assigned to me was Mons. Piero Marini. Well, here we all are together again! This is truly a great joy to me.
Since then, our reciprocal bond has grown gradually stronger and deeper. It is a bond in the Lord Jesus Christ, whose Eucharistic Sacrifice I have so often celebrated and whose Sacraments I have so often administered in this church. It is a bond of affection and friendship that truly warmed my heart and still warms it today. It is a bond that has bound me to you all, and especially to your parish priest and the other priests of the parish. It is a bond that did not weaken when I became titular Cardinal of the suburbicarian Diocese of Velletri-Segni; a bond that has acquired a new and deeper dimension because I am now Bishop of Rome and your Bishop.
Moreover, I am particularly glad that my visit today, as Fr Enrico has already said, is taking place in the year in which you are celebrating the 60th anniversary of your parish, the 50th anniversary of the ordination to the priesthood of our beloved parish priest, Mons. Enrico Pomili, and lastly, the 25th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of Archbishop Ennio Appignanesi. It is a year, therefore, in which we have special reasons for thanking the Lord.
I now greet with affection Mons. Enrico himself and thank him for his very kind words to me. I greet Cardinal Camillo Ruini, Vicar, Cardinal Ricardo María Carles Gordò, titular of this church, hence, my successor to this Title, Cardinal Giovanni Canestri, formerly your deeply loved parish priest, Archbishop Luigi Moretti, Vicegerent and Bishop of the Eastern Sector of Rome; we have already greeted Archbishop Ennio Appignanesi, your former parish priest, and Bishop Massimo Giustetti, your former parochial vicar.
I extend an affectionate greeting to your current parochial vicars and to the women religious of Santa Maria Consolatrice. They have been in Casalbertone since 1932 as precious collaborators of the parish and true messengers of mercy and consolation in this neighbourhood, especially for the poor and for children. With the same sentiments, I greet each one of you, all the families in the parish and all who, in their various capacities, work in the parish services.