There is a great expression in English that success has a thousand fathers and failure is an orphan. I think this successful gathering here has not just one but a thousand fathers, and His Excellency Bishop Sorondo is certainly one of them, because we are in his land, in his property and because of his kindness we are able to to gather together this very distinguished group of men and women, and how good it is that we can all get together with the same hopes, the same desires, the same challenges that face us all in our world of today, so Excellency thank you so much for being one of the real masters of the table at this place.
Of course, we are honored to have the Foreign Minister of the Holy See, Archbishop Gallagher with us, it is a special joy, he has been a great friend of all the nations that are represented here and a great friend of the world community and with his wisdom, his experience and his insights he brings to the Holy Father and to the Holy See and to the Church as well as to the world an extraordinary wisdom, extraordinary goodness, an extraordinary understanding of the difficulties of our time.
Of course, without my dear colleague Cardinal Peter Turkson I would be walking outside and in the rain even though it wasn't raining, because if it wasn't for Cardinal Peter we would not have this, because when we spoke to the Holy Father the first thing he said was "See Cardinal Turkson" and I know that this is what the Holy Father says on many occasions in many different circumstances and thank goodness the Church and the world is able to say, "See Cardinal Turkson" and know that something good will come out of that conversation. So I want to thank Cardinal Peter for initiating it, for courage and wisdom and for the enthusiasm that he brings to everything and that's a great gift for the Church and for the world, he has been a good brother to me and I have appreciated his leadership with Bishop Sorondo here today.
I had the privilege of getting to know a number of you but if I begin talking about my experiences with you I would never finish because there are so many whom we have met in times past. I recall the former master general of the Dominicans and I know how often I've sat at his feet to listen to his wisdom and so that his presence here today is very very significant. I regret, as we all do, the absence of the doctor, who became a real friend of mine a while ago and I found him not only a wise man but an intensely human scholar who can joke, who can delight, who can be so serious on the serious questions and so honestly a human and wise about everything. We have spoken already about him with his other friends and I suppose the hope is that this will not be the last meeting that we will see but that there will be other meetings to come in the years ahead.
I have 10 minutes to speak I think I've used it up already so I probably should just stop. I'm usually sitting down these days since I had a serious operation a while ago and I am, as a result of that, developing a new method of transportation which you see here. I have not tried it out completely because every once in a while I land on my posterior when I use it so I don't recommend it. Those of you who have cars keep your cars, don't turn to these walkers. We haven't perfected it yet, when I've perfected it I'll come back and tell you how to do it but up until then...
I wanted to be brief but I do want to begin with three very short stories. The first short story is, about four or five months ago I received a very strange invitation, I was invited to speak to the United States Federal Reserve Board, which is the group that does so much for the financial well-being of the world and, of course, of our nation too. I began by saying I had a confession to make, I'm not an economist, and that became obvious after my first two minutes of talking that they realized that I was not an economist. By trade I'm a sociologist. Theologians in Canada and biblical scholars look down on sociologists, but our day will come. I'm not sure when, but our day will come.
When I got to speak to them I didn't really know what to say and so I just told the story that you have all heard so many times and yet it is a fascinating and important story for what we're doing. When the votes were being tallied at the Conclave and it was finally realized that – I can talk about it because I wasn't there, if I was there I couldn't talk about it (this is the interesting way we work things here at the Vatican) – but when it was clear that the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio, had received the votes necessary they all stood, I understand, and in fact as he was sitting again, the Cardinal next to him was a dear friend of his and of ours, the former Archbishop of Sao Paulo,said "Giorgio, don't forget the poor", and that has been a haunting challenge to His Holiness Pope Francis, in a very special way, "don't forget the poor". I think it was the last words he heard as an Archbishop and the first words he heard as the new Holy Father and it's been a very special thing for part of his life. What we are doing today is not forgetting the poor, what we're doing today is studying more carefully and rejoicing more enthusiastically on the fact that this new pope, Pope Francis, has not forgotten the poor. You know, in almost every statement he makes, in almost everything he writes he has not forgotten the poor and that's why we are here today, because we are not to forget the poor also.
Years ago I was in one of the great nations of the world, the very capitals of the world and at that time we were talking about what are the needs of great nations as well as the needs of small nations and a very wise member of the government said to me, "We have tremendous needs because we have so many wonderful people" and he gave me his statistics, which I'm sure are still not invalid because of the growth of nations and populations. He said we probably have 300 million poor people to take care of and as we went on he began to specify that 200 million of them are old people and their needs are enormously great and I said to him, and I hope it was passed on to the government of that great nation, I said we've had so much experience in taking care of the poor and taking care of the old and taking care of the crippled and taking care of people in need, we would be so happy to be of help in any way we could be and I spoke of myself and yet I spoke in the terms of the Bible and of the Gospels, that's all. This is what Pope Francis sees every day when he looks out at the poor and when he reads the papers of the difficulties that the poor of the world are facing and it is that that touches him and that notion that moved him into Laudato si', and the splendid poetry and not just poetry, but the splendid reality of that document. We who have studied it and learned to quote it back and forth see the tremendous opportunities that the world has in following the teaching of Francis of Assisi and of our present Francis and of all of you who have been teaching the same way have been understanding the needs that are like my friends who came from this very large and important country have been dealing with every day. How do we take care of the poor, how do we take care of the millions and millions who cannot take care of themselves, how do we take care of all those who come to us and say, "You are our leaders, help us to lead a life that is full, that is rich not of money but rich in experience and rich in humanity and all of those things that are important to all of us".
I can't add much more, not being an economist or a scientist. I thank Bishop Sorondo for his kindness in allowing me to be in these halls in which I would not merit entree by my own learning but I am grateful to him and to all of you for seeing how we can sing this great song of Francis of Assisi together and understand how important it is, in our time, when the world is more used to crying than to singing and so our job is not to cry, because it doesn't help, but to sing a realistic song of life and of wisdom and of reality and that's what you are all here to do, and there will be many around the world who will listen to the song and many around the world whose lives may be changed by the song that you will sing and so I thank you for coming and I am so grateful to all those whose names I mentioned already who have made it possible to bring me here, so God bless you all and God bless this gathering. Thank you