"May it please Your Excellency Bishop Lori, Reverend Clergy and distinguished guests.
Today is a day of thanksgiving for our graduates and for their families. Let me begin by extending to you a special greeting from the President of our Institute, His Excellency, Bishop Angelo Scola. Today Bishop Scola met with the Holy Father to discuss the work of the Institute and indicated that at the conclusion of this meeting the Holy Father imparted to each of you his apostolic blessing on the occasion of your graduation.
During the time that you have studied at the institute we have received the great gifts of Pope John Paul II to the Church on the publication of his encyciicais, Evangelium Vitae and Veritatis Splendor. Together, these two pillars proclaiming the "Splendor of Truth" and the "Gospel of Life" will support the mission of the Church as it carries forward the new evangelization into the Third Millennium. And you have been one of the first to study these magnificent teachings here at the Holy Father's own Institute with the specific expectation of going forward to answer the call of the Holy Father that the Catholic people become truly "a people of life and a people for life."
Today is a day that we that we are proud of you, of what you have accomplished and of what you will accomplish. None of us can say now what will have been accomplished by you fifty years from today. But we can say now that each of you has been chosen for some specific, unique and unrepeatable service to the Church.
It is now a little more than a year since the publication of Evangelium Vitae and in that short time in the United States we have seen the efforts of the Congress to restrain the most brutal excesses of the abortion industry rebuffed by the veto of the President, we have seen at least one state prepare for the legal recognition of "marriage" between persons of the same sex and we have seen two federal appeals courts recognize a constitutional right to doctor-assisted euthanasia. We now find a society that is turning its back on the dignity of human life at its beginning and at its end and in the one institution that truly nurtures and defends life in all its stages.
As we survey these developments we find prophetic the words of Evangelium Vitae: "Faced with the countless grave threats to life present in the modern world, one could feel overwhelmed by sheer powerlessness: good can never by powerful enough to triumph over evil!" Wemust admit today that there are many people in society and some in the Church-perhaps even in the clergy who feel this way. But you must take up the challenge of this Pope when he states: "At such times the People of God ... is called to profess with humility and courage its faith in Jesus Christ."
Today the faculty joins me in asking that you are ever mindful of these words of the Holy Father from Evangelium Vitae and that you make them your own: "To all the members of the Church, the people of life and for life, I make this most urgent appeal, that together we may offer this world of ours new signs of hope, and work to ensure that justice and solidarity will increase and that a new culture of life will be affirmed." Resolve today to make these words your own. And so our prayer for you today is that of the Holy Father at the end of his great encyclical: "Grant that all who believe in your Son may proclaim the Gospel of life with honesty and love to the people of our time. Obtain for them the grace to accept that Gospel as a gift ever new, the joy of celebrating it with gratitude throughout their lives and the courage to bear witness to it resolutely...."
I would now ask His Excellency to grant us his blessing."