I'm 18, I'm a millennial



To my dear brother Ludwig Schick
Archbishop of Bamberg

I was pleased to learn that the Archdiocese of Bamberg is celebrating the millennium of its imperial cathedral these days. I am happy to join you, Your Excellency, the Most Honorable Auxiliary Bishop, the priests, deacons and religious as well as all the faithful in the joy of the festivities, and I convey heartfelt blessings to you all.

In the towering building of the Bamberg Cathedral, power and beauty combine to form an impressive testimony to the faith from whose spirit and strength this sublime house of God was once built. For the Archdiocese of Bamberg, the festive celebration of the thousandth anniversary of his consecration, in which I take part, may be the prelude to the year of faith that I have proclaimed for the whole Church. May it encourage you all, priests and believers, to rediscover and deepen that faith, as the stone witness of which your magnificent cathedral towers in the middle of the episcopal city and the Franconian region. So I would like to invite you to take a mental »tour« through this house of God to listen to the message that it itself proclaims to us wordlessly and yet impressively.

What distinguishes the cathedral from all other churches is the bishop's cathedra, which stands in a prominent position. That is why we call the cathedral the cathedral. The cathedra is not a throne, but a chair. It is from here that the word of the bishop comes out. And the bishops are appointed by God as successors of the apostles, as the Second Vatican Council teaches: "He who hears them hears Christ, and whoever despises them despises Christ and him who sent Christ" (Lumen gentium, 20). As a teacher of Catholic truth, the bishop vouches for the unity of the diocese, its priests and believers, and this only in harmony with the religious community of the universal church that encompasses spaces and times. If we go on, we stand in front of the altar. It is the center of the heart of the cathedral. The altar is the holy place where the Eucharistic sacrifice is offered, where suffering, death and resurrection are daily present.

"Be certain, I am with you every day until the end of the world" (Mt 28:20), Jesus promised. The Church enjoys this presence in the Eucharist, "the source and culmination of all Christian life" with a unique intensity (Lumen gentium, 11). This spring rises at this altar, and its invigorating river pours from here into the whole diocese. In addition, in front of this altar, the bishop lays his hands on those young men whom he sends to the parishes as priests. Here the holy oils - chrism, catechumens and sick oils - are consecrated, with which the holy sacraments are administered throughout the diocese. Verily, this altar is the center of the heart of the entire archdiocese.

Hence the real, hidden essence of the Church appears to us. Although it forms a community made up of people, it is at the same time a divine mystery. The Holy Scriptures call it the body of Christ, house of God. The Church of Jesus Christ is not simply an interest group, a joint enterprise, in short, a form of human society that could then also be shaped and managed according to secular, political rules by worldly means. Whoever is called to serve in the church is not a functionary of the congregation, he receives office and authority from Jesus Christ, the head of his mysterious body. It is Christ himself who unites the believers in a vital unity.

Let us then pause in front of Riemenschneider's magnificent tomb of Saints Heinrich and Kunigunde. In their form we encounter exemplary Christians who have received from the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and marriage the ability and the mission to serve the kingdom of God in the world. In this holy ruling couple, dear brothers and sisters, you may recognize what it means to live as Christians in the midst of the world and to shape it in the spirit of Christ. From the grave of the imperial couple, as well as that of King Konrad III. You are called to make the word of the gospel heard in family, profession, society, economy and culture and to shape earthly realities in its spirit.

After all, your cathedral contains the grave of Pope Clement II, who wanted to remain Bishop of Bamberg even after his election as Petri's successor, and so gave an impressive sign of Bamberg's unity with Rome. A message also emanates from this grave. It is an echo of those words which the Lord once spoke to Peter and in his person to all his successors: Peter, "I will build my church on this rock, and the powers of the underworld will not overwhelm it" (Mt 16,18).

These words remind us that your Archdiocese of Bamberg is built on this rock. In close communion with the successor of the Apostle Peter and with the universal Church you will find new, unshakable certainty and confidence in the crisis of faith of our day.

The cathedra of the bishop, the altar and the graves of your diocese patrons as well as a pope and a king have spoken their message into our time. This is also done by the strong walls of the cathedral that hide these holy places. They are walls that have withstood the storms of a millennium. The waves of the anti-god and misanthropic ideologies of the past century have broken on them. The house, it was and will be built on rock. Finally, there are the four tall towers of the Imperial Cathedral that point to the sky. They point to the goal of the earthly pilgrimage of the church, as the preface of the cathedral jubilee says: "Towards heaven". In this sense, the anniversary would like to draw the church of Bamberg, all believers as well as visitors to the cathedral "skyward", as it were.

The knowledge of this house on the rock, dear brothers and sisters, may strengthen you in the certainty that in the times to come, however difficult they may be, the Lord will not leave His Church. In the church, whose powerful symbol is the thousand-year-old cathedral, future generations of devout Catholics will also find a home of heart and security.

May Mary, the mother of our Lord, who proudly and happily call on her as the Duchess of Franconia, and the holy diocese patrons Heinrich and Kunigunde continue to hold their protective hand over the cathedral, the city, the archbishopric and the whole of Franconia! With this wish for prayer, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to all of you.

From the Vatican on May 3, 2012, the feast of the apostles Philip and James

Pope Benedict XVI



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