I am very pleased to renew this encounter which by now has become a tradition, for the mutual exchange of greetings at the beginning of the new year. My greetings and best wishes go first to Mr. Enrico Avola, recently appointed Director General, whom I thank for the words he addressed to me just now, as well as to the Prefect Salvatore Festa. With equal affection, I greet the other members and employees of the Inspectorate of Public Security at the Vatican.
I would first like to express my feeling of gratitude for the service you carry out with acknowledged dedication and professionalism in St. Peter's Square and the area adjacent to the Vatican for the necessary protection of public order. In particular, I think of your work during the public events involving the faithful and pilgrims who come from all over the world to meet the Successor of Peter and to visit the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles, and to pray at those of my venerable Predecessors, particularly that of Blessed John Paul II.
Your commitment also extends to my pastoral visits in Rome and during my apostolic journeys in Italy. On this occasion I intend to express once again my esteem and emphasize my deep appreciation for the manner and spirit that animates your service, attentive and professional. A style that, while honoring your identity as officials of the Italian State and members of the Church, also attests to the good relations that exist between Italy and the Holy See.
I listened with interest to the words of your Director, who, on behalf of you all, wanted to voice the feelings, ideals, intentions that inspire your life and your behavior in carrying out your daily task. I sincerely hope that your hard work, often done with sacrifice and risk, may be always animated by a strong Christian faith, which is undoubtedly the most precious treasure and spiritual value, which your families have entrusted you with and that you are called to transmit to your children. The Year of Faith, which the whole Church is experiencing, is an opportunity for you also to go back to the Gospel message and let it enter more deeply into your minds and your daily lives, courageously witnessing to the love of God in every environment, even in that of your work.
In my Message on the occasion of the recent World Day of Peace, I pointed out that "the many different efforts at peacemaking which abound in our world testify to mankind's innate vocation to peace. In every person the desire for peace is an essential aspiration which coincides in a certain way with the desire for a full, happy and successful human life"(no. 1). May your presence, dear friends, be an ever more effective guarantee of that good order and tranquility, which are crucial for building a peaceful and composed social life, and that, in addition to being taught by the Gospel message, are a sign of true civilization.
With these greetings, I wish to extend my best wishes for the new year also to your families, whom I entrust to the maternal protection of the Blessed Virgin, so that she may intercede with her divine Son to obtain for you prosperity, peace, harmony and to guard you from every danger. May you also be accompanied by my Apostolic Blessing that I impart to all of you.
[Translation by Peter Waymel]