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from issue no. 04 - 2007

Address of homage from the Dean of the College of Cardinals

A small gesture of charity

by Cardinal Angelo Sodano

Your Holiness, today the College of Cardinals is tempted to gainsay the Psalmist’s word according to which when one reaches eighty there only remains labor et dolor, work and pain. In fact, the Psalmist had already been gainsaid by Deuteronomy which tells us that Moses reached the age of 120 in full vigor. Indeed, Holy Scripture tells us that not even his sight had become cloudy: «Non caligavit oculus eius», his eye did not darken (Dt 34, 7). Today then the verse of the Psalm seems quite out-of-date when we admire the vigor and the calm with which you stand at the helm of Peter’s “ship”. Today, the cardinals resident in the City have decided to gather together around you to show you all their closeness on such an important day in your life. The cardinals present number 48 and another 9 are present in spirit because unable, for various reasons, to be amongst us: first of them Cardinal Stickler, at the venerable age of 97; in presenting their greetings to Your Holiness, Cardinals Lourdusamy, Innocenti, Deskur, Felici, Sánchez, Noè and Angelini have likewise asked to be excused. Holy Father, accept our best wishes and of those absent for this splendid day. Among those present, the doyen is our dear Cardinal Mayer with his 96 springs, a cordial greeting to him! And the youngest is Cardinal Tauran, with his evergreen seventy-four! So you see, Holy Father, today all show themselves not to be weighted down by ingravescentem aetatem, but if anything having a florescentem aetatem. I then invited to join us of the Curia the venerated Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, your successor in the See of München und Freising, who is so dear to you. All together we took part yesterday in the Mass of thanksgiving, in Saint Peter’s Square, and today we decided to be with you again to demonstrate our closeness in this highly significant moment of your life. On this occasion, the cardinals of the Curia have charged me to deliver to you an offering they have collected amongst them to contribute to your works of charity. On my part, I am happy to hand you, now, a check for Euro 100,000 with the plea to be mindful, if possible, of the serious needs of the Christians in the Holy Land. It is a small sign of that brotherly agape, of that charity of which you, Holy Father, have often reminded us. Indeed, I was with you in Regensburg, on 12 September last, when in the homily in that beautiful cathedral you told us that everything is “enfolded” in love and that then this love must be “unfolded”, spread out in the life of every day. Well, we today decided to “unfold”, spread out the love we have, putting at your disposition this small gesture of charity for our suffering brothers in the land of Jesus of Nazareth. With these feelings, Holy Father, I again convey greetings on behalf of all the cardinals present, as also on behalf of the members of the Pontifical Household who are united with us, and say from the heart, on behalf of all, ad multos annos, ad multos felicissimos annos! Thank you.

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