Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Cassari celebrates Mass at Khanya House.


Pretoria, May 31st, 2012

Blessed are you O Virgin Mary for your firm believing that the promises of the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk1:45)

Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

dear friends,

Indeed it is a great joy for me to be with you at Khanya House, praying together in this Eucharist today as we celebrate the feast of the Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. It is wonderful occasion given to me by Sr. Hermenegild, to whom I express my deepest thanks. I greet and pray for each of you and I’m sure you will pray for me too, especially for this not so easy service entrusted to me by the Holy Father.

As you see I’m back in your country, in this region that I used to regard “my country and my region” in the years 1985-1989, while I was collaborating as a young secretary with the Pontifical Representatives Archbishops Mees and De Paoli. Already then I felt “at home”, here in South Africa although I wasn’t carrying the weight and responsibility of my Heads of Mission.  My task was to give a “small helping hand” to my Superiors. And I believe I did it with passion, not only because it was my duty, but  because I realized the injustice and disrespect for human dignity as well as the hard conditions and mistreatment endured by so many of our brothers and sisters during those difficult and challenging times. Today as well we are still facing other challenges as members of the Catholic Church. And you know better then me what these challenges are. In fact, because you are the staff of this precious body, the General Secretariat of the Southern Africa Catholic Bishops’ Conference, you are more aware of the challenges of the spiritual and human good of our people and I can say, of our society.

You and me, I’m sure, we are lucky because we strongly believe in the presence of God, and thus in the action of the Holy Spirit in our daily work. Our actions are to be in accordance with the teachings of the Holy Father, of the Holy See and our Bishops. Indeed, I repeat, your service at Khanya House is extremely precious. And I would like to thank you for this service you are giving.

In this context, allow me to remind you what our Holy Father Pope Benedict states in his book-length interview, Light of the World:

“We are not a production plant, we are not a for-profit business, we are Church. That means a community of men and women standing together in faith.”(Light of the World, 73 )

Yes, dear friends, we are Church, we are a community of men and women standing together in faith.  We are all baptized, we are priests or religious men and women, or lay people not because we have to learn how to be more successful or efficient.  We are what we are because we are part of the Universal Church.  We live for something greater than ourselves.  And from time to time, we need humbly to re examine how our individual roles fit within that larger picture called Catholic Church.  Because of its importance, I am grateful to have this opportunity to share with you my simple thoughts on how this can be done, without presumption from my side.

As the Holy Father said, our goal is to live the Catholic faith in an exemplary way, to be real witnesses of Jesus, and to proclaim the Gospel in season and out of season, without fear.  To be men and women of truth. Our only agenda is to make the name of Jesus Christ known and loved, which is, in fact our goal for the new evangelization. This is your work here at Khanya House, this must be my work at the Apostolic Nunciature. Of course the Papal Representative needs your understanding and cooperation, and the Apostolic Nunciature must be always ready to cooperate with you, with the Bishops, with all (priests, religious men and women, lay people, and persons of good will).  With these few words I mean, that we are celebrating today this Eucharist and this is for me a starting point for rallying together, united as a community of believers standing under the banner of the Catholic faith.

Allow me to pose one question: how do we balance the many demands of our time and still address our God-given call to evangelize our society?

We know that every man, woman and child is a precious gift from God, so we are all called to be a blessing, or a sign of God’s presence in our society. You and me we are called to be a particular blessing in a three-fold manner: a blessing to our neighbors (believers or not, Catholics or not), a blessing to our Church and a blessing to our society.  First, we are called to be a blessing to those with whom we have relationships, those we meet in our everyday life, starting with our families and our communities. They must see and find in us real witnesses of God.   Next, we are called to be a blessing within the Church, where growth in holiness, both on the individual and communal level, must be considered.  Finally, we are to be a blessing within society as agents of transformation in what is good and true. My dear friends, you and me we are called to be a blessing to those whom God has entrusted to our care.

Let us commit to being a blessing within the Church, as agents of God’s forgiveness. As disciples of the Master, you and I, we are called to be agents of forgiveness, especially among the members of the Body of Christ.  Christ’s prayer should ring in our ears – “I pray Father, that they might be one, as we are one”. We must love at all times, even in battle. We must stand together in unity, in communion, in love.

The compassion and mercy we show to others in the household of God flows not only from the commandment of God to forgive and to listen.  It also needs to flow from an understanding that we ourselves stand in need of the compassion and patience of God.  We all need forgiveness – we all need mercy, no exceptions.

My dear friend, we must always be mindful of our dignity as a chosen people of God, chosen in the waters of baptism, to be sons and daughters of God.  The world needs us because it needs Jesus, and we are his body, making him present to others. Through the Sacraments we have received, the Spirit equips us to be witnesses of Christ.

It is the Holy Spirit who accompanies us, follows us, and enables our labours to bear fruit.

I entrust all of you to the care of the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and our Mother. I assure you of my prayers and affection, and you please, pray for me. Amen.


                                                                             + Mario Roberto Cassari

                                                                                    Apostolic Nuncio

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