Most Holy Father,
In your goodness please accept the affectionate and devoted greetings of the Successor of Don Bosco who in these days is meeting with more than ninety Salesian Bishops and Cardinals in what is considered by all of us the cradle of the Charism: Turin – Valdocco. Yesterday we celebrated Mass contemplating the Holy Shroud, the icon of the sufferings of Jesus Crucified and at the same time the icon of the light of the Risen One. Today we are gathered together with His Eminence Cardinal Bertone, Secretary of State, in order to celebrate the Solemnity of Pentecost at Castelnuovo, in the Temple of Don Bosco, which Your Holiness with great kindness, has decided to raise to the dignity of a Minor Basilica.
Most Holy Father, I decided to invite all our confreres, the Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops to this occasion of our meeting together, following the example of what my beloved predecessors Fr Egidio Viganò in 1988 and Fr Juan Edmundo Vecchi in 2001 had done.
The reasons for this fraternal assembly are the recurrence of the 150th anniversary of our Salesian Congregation, the Centenary of the death of the first Successor of Don Bosco, Blessed Michael Rua and the 125th anniversary of the episcopal ordination of the first Salesian Bishop, Bishop John Cagliero, who was also later elevated to the dignity of a Cardinal. It is a time to reflect together on the situation of youth ministry, asking ourselves how, nowadays, the Gospel is to be inculturated and presented in various contexts around the world. It is a time also to listen to the pastoral experience of our Brothers who, raised to the episcopal dignity, carry in their hearts, as Salesians, the identity of pastors with a special attention to the world of youth.
The main reason for this letter, Most Holy Father, is that of expressing to your Holiness the affection, the closeness and the total availability which Don Bosco has taught us to live from the very beginning of his charismatic experience, with regard to the Holy Father and to the whole Church. Today, the Salesian Bishops are 119 in number. Some of them are serving the Church in Departments of the Vatican. Most of them have a pastoral role in the guidance of local churches spread around the whole world. Bishops engaged in all the continents, from far-flung places such as the Solomon Islands, Tierra del Fuego, Assam in India, Thailand, the Congo, Ethiopia or the Amazon Jungle to the historical dioceses of Europe, such as Rotterdam, Ghent, Victoria, Salzburg, Linz. Many of our Bishops are engaged in the mission fields. Some of them are responsible for Vicariates Apostolic.
Most Holy Father, please feel us close to you in this difficult hour for the Church. With Your Holiness we share the concerns of the present moment, asking the Lord to purify our lives and to purify the Church so as to be able worthily to proclaim the Gospel, especially to the young, to the poor, to the least, to those who still do not know the Good News.
In the second place, Your Holiness, we want to assure you of our desire to cultivate in the Congregation and in these Brothers of ours who are Bishops a profound spiritual renewal. We believe that the path to Holiness is something that needs to be constantly renewed in our hearts. Being well aware of the call to be living branches of the true vine which is Jesus, allowing ourselves to be pruned by the Word and by the love of the Father in order to be, in Jesus, ever more fruitful, allowing the Spirit to express Himself in our lives with the riches of His fruits.
We want to thank you, Holy Father, for your enlightening ministry which urges us to live in hope, to welcome the richness of Christian love, to give it life and make it bear witness in the fabric of today’s history.
The third reason, as Sons of Don Bosco, is to assure Your Holiness of our concern for the young people of today, who often appear to be “sheep without a shepherd.” We make our own the need pointed out to us by Your Holiness, to respond to this particular “educational emergency”. In a world which, in spite of thousands of contradictions, tries to respond to the need to defend the rights of the individual, we want to be apostles of the young, guarding their right to know all that is “noble, just, pure, honourable, worthy of praise.” We want them to know the existence of a path to human, affective and spiritual maturity which can be marked out according to the great human values contained in the Gospel. We want to guarantee for them the right to know Jesus Christ and His plan for a life to the full. We want to open them up to an experience of the Church which might be at one and the same time true and full of enthusiasm. We also want them to discover the beauty of giving themselves to God, totally, in consecrated or priestly life.
Most Holy Father, while we assure you of our constant prayers for the Successor of Peter, we ask you to bless our beloved Congregation and in particular these Brothers of ours, Cardinals and Bishops who simply want to be servants of the People of God, workers in the Lord’s vineyard, passionate seekers of the Kingdom of God.
We offer you all our affection, we express our faith in the Crucified and Risen Lord, we assure you once again of our apostolic commitment.
May the Spirit, on this Solemnity of Pentecost, fill your heart and ours with the fire of the apostolic passion Don Bosco used to express with his motto “Da mihi animas cetera tolle”. May Mary the Mother of the Church and Help of Christians be for all of us Mother, Teacher and Guide.
With great affection and filial obedience.
Turin, 24 May 2010
Fr Pascual Chavez Villanueva
Rector Major of the Salesians of Don Bosco
DIREZIONE GENERALE OPERE DON BOSCO
Via della Pisana 1111 – 00163 Roma
The Rector Major
Protocol n° 10/0442
To His Holiness
Pope Benedict XVI