Speeches 2001 - Friday 7 September 2001
Saturday 8 September 2001
Venerable Sylvestrine Benedictines,
1. I am happy to meet you on the occasion of your General Chapter, and welcome each one of you cordially. I greet Fr Andrea Pantaloni, re-elected Abbot General, and thank him for his kind words on behalf of all. I greet the Chapter Fathers and the entire Family of Sylvestrine Benedictines, ever ready to offer the Church the precious contribution of their spiritual and apostolic work.
The Chapter meeting is a providential opportunity for your Institute to reflect on the challenges of the present time and to seek new ways in which to express your charism. You have therefore fittingly chosen to spend these days of prayer and intense work at Fabriano, in the Hermitage of Montefano called after your founder, St Sylvester Abbot, who in this very site grafted a new congregation onto the fruitful tree of the Benedictine Order in 1231. A contemplative and anxious to be consistent with the Gospel, Sylvester became a hermit, practising a strict ascetical life and growing in a deep and vigorous spirituality. For his disciples he chose St Benedict's Rule, wishing to build a community that would be dedicated to contemplation but would not ignore the surrounding social reality. In fact, he himself united a life of recollection, with the ministry of an esteemed spiritual fatherhood and the proclamation of the Gospel to the people of the region.
2. On these solid foundations, Your Congregation has lived through more than seven centuries of history, overcoming numerous difficulties. In the mid-19th century it expanded to horizons beyond Europe and introduced the Benedictine Rule in Asia, in the Island of Ceylon - today Sri Lanka. In the course of the past century new foundations were made in the United States of America, in Australia, in India and, recently, in the Philippines. This comforting development continues to bear valuable apostolic and missionary fruit. With monasteries on four continents, the Congregation can certainly claim to be international, and, thanks be to God, to be slowly and constantly increasing in number.
As I encourage you to continue on this journey opening yourselves to the demands of the new evangelization, I pray the Lord that he may always help you with the power of his love. May God bless in particular your project for further foundations in Europe and in Africa, so that your spirituality may spread for his glory and for the good of souls.
3. The lofty and demanding goal to which we must ceaselessly aspire, Fathers, is first and foremost holiness. It is important not to forget it, especially in our time, when our society feels the need for God more than ever. In our daily apostolate, we must keep our spirit turned toward God. There is a keen awareness of this in your Congregation in which down through the ages the Holy Spirit has inspired generous monks who distinguished themselves by their example and apostolic zeal. It is enough to think, in modern times, of the missionary Bishops Giuseppe Bravi, Ilarione Sillani and Giuseppe Pagnani, Vicars Apostolic of Colombo in the 19th century; of Beekmayer, the first native Prelate of Ceylon, and of Bernardo Regno, Bishop of Kandy. Twenty years after his holy death, his fame lives on among the poor workers of the tea plantations, as well as in his native Fabriano. The foundation's two pioneers in the United States in 1910 also deserve special mention: Giuseppe Cipolletti and Filippo Bartoccetti, who were patient, fearless missionaries among the miners of Kansas. And lastly, I would like to recall the Servant of God, Abbot Ildebrando Gregori, whose cause of canonization has been introduced.
May striving for holiness be the first and basic goal of your personal and community life. This is why the Lord called you and entrusted an important apostolic mission to you.
4. The theme of your Chapter Assembly: Celebrating the Memory, Celebrating our Hope, inspired by the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio ineunte goes with this mandate. You would like to focus your attention on monastic identity in the third millennium, according to the spirit of the holy Benedictine Fathers, Sts Benedict and Sylvester, in order to give life to "evangelical communities that are multicultural, and open to the future, but, at the same time, firmly rooted in tradition".
Today, a monastic family like yours is called to make a valid contribution, above all, to the contemplative dimension of personal and ecclesial life. It is urgently necessary to respond to the men and women of our time who, often in an implicit way, ask: "we wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21), showing them, in the first place by our example, the royal road of prayer that leads them to contemplate the face of God revealed in Christ. Therefore, dear friends, fervently contemplate his holy Face, so that Jesus' message may shine forth in your lives.
From unceasing prayer draw renewed vigour in order to "put out into the deep" fearlessly, setting out, in accordance with your charism, on the way of total dedication to Christ and to His Gospel. Thus you will build communities that are open to the future and rooted in tradition in constant fidelity to the Rule of your Fathers, Benedict and Sylvester.
In this journey, may the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose Nativity we celebrate today, grant you her maternal assistance. May her Magnificat that celebrates the memory and hope of the People of God become your Congregation's canticle of praise at the beginning of this new millennium.
I enrich these wishes with the assurance of my prayer and a special Apostolic Blessing which I impart to you, to your confreres and to all who are entrusted to your apostolic care.
To the Most Reverend Father Joseph Chalmers,
Prior General of the Order of the Brothers
of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel
1. I am delighted to know that the centuries old Order of the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel is celebrating its General Chapter, moved by the desire to continue serving Christ and the Church in total fidelity to its charism and to the directives of the Papal Magisterium.
This resolve is most important at the beginning of the new millennium, in which the Church confidently goes toward the future fixing her eyes on Christ - "the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Ap 22,13) - striving to fulfil faithfully the mission He entrusted to her.
I want to underline the fact that the General Chapter is held during the year celebrating the 750th anniversary of the gift of the Scapular. For this special jubilee I did send, 25 March, a special message to the whole Family of Carmel. Further, this year also marks the 7th centenary of the birth of the great Carmelite bishop, St Andrew Corsini, rightly remembered as an example for pastors and a model of consecrated life for all religious.
While uniting myself spiritually to your Chapter to invoke the Spirit of the Lord upon its work, I greet you, Most Reverend Father, and I thank you for the service rendered to the Order of Carmel and to the Church during the past six years. With you I greet the participants in the General Chapter coming from various nations, and through them, I extend my warm best wishes to the whole Carmelite Order.
2. The theme of the chapter is: The journey continues.Your reference to human experience of a journey belongs to Carmelite spirituality. From the first hermits established on Mount Carmel, who had arrived in the Land of the Lord Jesus as pilgrims, life is represented as an ascetical ascent towards the holy mountain, that is Christ Jesus our Lord (cf. Roman Missal Collect of the Mass in honour of the B.V. Mary of Carmel, 16 July). Two Biblical icons, precious to the Carmelite tradition, inspire this interior pilgrimage: that of the prophet Elijah and that of the Virgin Mary.
The prophet Elijah burns with zeal for the Lord (cf. 1R 19,10); he sets off toward Mount Horeb and, although tired, he continues walking until he reaches the goal. It is only at the end of his difficult journey that he meets the Lord in the still small voice (cf. 1R 19,1-18). Looking at his example, the Brothers of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mount Carmel understand more deeply that only those who train themselves to listen to God and to interpret the signs of the times are able to meet the Lord and recognize Him in daily events. The Lord speaks in many ways, even through realities that at times can seem insignificant.
The other icon is that of the Virgin Mary, whom you venerate under the title of Sister and Beauty of Carmel. Our Lady sets out to visit an elderly cousin, St Elizabeth. As soon as she received the announcement of the angel (cf. Lk Lc 1,26-28), she generously departs, running along mountain paths (cf. Song Ct 2,8 Is 52,7), to visit Elizabeth when she learned that she needed her help. In the meeting with her cousin, from within her rich spirit she pours forth her hymn of joy, the Magnificat (cf. Lk Lc 1,39-56). It is a hymn of praise to the Lord and a witness of humble readiness to serve her neighbour. In the mystery of the Visitation, every Christian can discern the shape of his own vocation. Let it be so for you, gathered together in your Chapter, to give to your Order a fresh ascetical and missionary impulse. With a heart full of praise to the Lord in the contemplation of his mystery, go forward joyfully on the paths of charity, opening yourselves with fraternal readiness in order to be credible witnesses of the merciful love of the Word of God become man to redeem the world.
3. "The journey continues". Yes, brothers, your spiritual journey continues in the world of today. You are called to reread your rich spiritual inheritance in the light of the current challenges so that "the joys and hopes, the sorrows and anguish of the people of today, of the poor and of all those who suffer may be the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguish of the disciples of Christ (Gaudium et Spes GS 1) and especially, of every Carmelite.
This year, when you commemorate the 750th Anniversary of the gift of the Scapular, you need to make more vigorous and decisive your will to allow yourselves to be clothed with Christ (cf. Rom Rm 13,14). Ask Mary, who was so caring and so gentle towards the Child Jesus (cf. Lk Lc 2,7), to clothe each of us with the wisdom and love of her divine Son. While you are fully aware of the mission that God has entrusted to your beloved Order, offer to the world the witness of your fidelity so that Christ may be known and accepted by all as the only Saviour of mankind, yesterday, today and forever (cf. Heb He 13,8).
For this end, I invoke the abundance of divine grace on you. May the Holy Spirit, in a renewed Pentecost, descend on you and enlighten you so that you can discern the will of your merciful and heavenly Father so as to be able to speak to the men and women of today in a way that is effective and appropriate (cf. Acts Ac 2,1-13).
With these sentiments I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to the members of the Chapter, and to the entire Family of Carmel, imploring on each of you the maternal protection of Our Lady of Mt Carmel along with the intercession of the prophet Elijah and of the numberless Saints of your Order.
Castel Gandolfo, 8 September 2001
To my venerable Brother,
Cardinal Kazimierz Swiatek
Archbishop of Minsk-Mohilev
With deep pleasure I learned that the inauguration of the Interdiocesan Major Seminary of Pinsk is now near. I congratulate you, venerable brother, for your fatherly concern in promoting this work, and I praise the entire Church community in Belarus, as I think of the service that the renovated structure can offer to the formation of candidates for the priesthood, as well as an effective programme to promote vocations.
This building, newly renovated, recalls significant episodes of history lived by the Church in Belarus. It was once the seminary of the Servant of God Zygmunt ozinski, the unforgettable pastor of the flock of Christ in your country during the difficult years of the last century. The Communist regime seized the building and used it for other purposes. Restored to its original aim and appropriately named after the universal patron of theological studies, St Thomas Aquinas, it is now to open to serve the dioceses of Minsk-Mohilev, Pinsk and Vitebsk.
How can we not see a promising sign for the future of the Church in this region in seeing this seminary flourish again? Indeed, the care of priestly vocations is an apostolic work par excellence that looks to the future, to the "harvest" which "is plentiful" (Mt 9,37) and which calls for zealous and well-prepared workers. Therefore, care of those aspiring to the priesthood is important: first of all, it calls for an insistent and trusting prayer to the "Lord of the harvest", "to send out labourers into his harvest" (Mt 9,38), and also requires a patient and discerning educational activity, which will accompany and sustain in his human and Christian growth those who are called.
Your Eminence, you know well how the concern for serious formation of the future ministers of the altar is very close to my heart. The pastoral service of gifted and zealous priests guarantees a steady development of Christian communities. That is why we must not ever grow weary of praying for this intention. I cordially hope that the Interdiocesan Major Seminary of Pinsk may become, most of all, a house of unceasing prayer for vocations and for priests. May the Blessed Virgin Mary watch over your seminary, so that it can appropriately form those who will spend important years of their life there and become a source of many and holy priests.
Moreover, I express my heartfelt appreciation to all who, in various ways, have collaborated in such an important ecclesial work, which will bear great benefits for the entire Catholic population of the region. May God reward everyone.
With these sentiments, I cordially impart to you and your collaborators a special Apostolic Blessing, which I gladly extend to the diocesan community and, in a special way, to those preparing for the priesthood.
From Castel Gandolfo 25 July 2001
Thursday, 13 September 2001
I am pleased to accept the Letters of Credence appointing you Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States of America to the Holy See. You are beginning your mission at a moment of immense tragedy for your country. At this time of national mourning for the victims of the terrorist attacks on Washington and New York, I wish to assure you personally of my profound participation in the grief of the American people and of my heartfelt prayers for the President and the civil authorities, for all involved in the rescue operations and in helping the survivors, and in a special way for the victims and their families. I pray that this inhuman act will awaken in the hearts of all the world’s peoples a firm resolve to reject the ways of violence, to combat everything that sows hatred and division within the human family, and to work for the dawn of a new era of international cooperation inspired by the highest ideals of solidarity, justice and peace.
In my recent meeting with President Bush I emphasized my deep esteem for the rich patrimony of human, religious and moral values which have historically shaped the American character. I expressed the conviction that America’s continued moral leadership in the world depends on her fidelity to her founding principles. Underlying your nation’s commitment to freedom, self-determination and equal opportunity are universal truths inherited from its religious roots. From these spring respect for the sanctity of life and the dignity of each human person made in the image and likeness of the Creator; shared responsibility for the common good; concern for the education of young people and for the future of society; and the need for wise stewardship of the natural resources so freely bestowed by a bounteous God. In facing the challenges of the future, America is called to cherish and live out the deepest values of her national heritage: solidarity and cooperation between peoples; respect for human rights; the justice that is the indispensable condition for authentic freedom and lasting peace.
In the century now opening before us, humanity has the opportunity to make great strides against some of its traditional enemies: poverty, disease, violence. As I said at the United Nations in 1995, it is within our grasp to see that a century of tears, the 20th century, is followed in the 21st century by a "springtime of the human spirit". The possibilities before the human family are immense, although they are not always apparent in a world in which too many of our brothers and sisters are suffering from hunger, malnutrition and the lack of access to medical care and to education, or are burdened by unjust government, armed conflict, forced displacement and new forms of human bondage. In seizing the available opportunities, both vision and generosity are necessary, especially on the part of those who have been blessed with freedom, wealth and an abundance of resources. The urgent ethical issues raised by the division between those who benefit from the globalization of the world economy and those who are excluded from those benefits call for new and creative responses on the part of the whole international community. Here I would emphasize again what I said in my recent meeting with President Bush, that the revolution of freedom in the world must be completed by a "revolution of opportunity" which will enable all the members of the human family to enjoy a dignified existence and to share in the benefits of a truly global development.
In this context, I cannot but mention, among so many disturbing situations throughout the world, the tragic violence which continues to affect the Middle East and which seriously jeopardizes the peace process begun in Madrid. Thanks also to the commitment of the United States, that process had given rise to hope in the hearts of all those who look to the Holy Land as a unique place of encounter and prayer between peoples. I am certain that your country will not hesitate to promote a realistic dialogue which will enable the parties involved to achieve security, justice and peace, in full respect for human rights and international law.
Mr. Ambassador, the vision and the moral strength which America is being challenged to exercise at the beginning of a new century and in a rapidly changing world call for an acknowledgment of the spiritual roots of the crisis which the Western democracies are experiencing, a crisis characterized by the advance of a materialistic, utilitarian and ultimately dehumanized world view which is tragically detached from the moral foundations of Western civilization. In order to survive and prosper, democracy and its accompanying economic and political structures must be directed by a vision whose core is the God-given dignity and inalienable rights of every human being, from the moment of conception until natural death. When some lives, including those of the unborn, are subjected to the personal choices of others, no other value or right will long be guaranteed, and society will inevitably be governed by special interests and convenience. Freedom cannot be sustained in a cultural climate that measures human dignity in strictly utilitarian terms. Never has it been more urgent to re-invigorate the moral vision and resolve essential to maintaining a just and free society.
In this context my thoughts turn to America’s young people, the hope of the nation. In my Pastoral Visits to the United States, and above all in my visit to Denver in 1993 for the celebration of World Youth Day, I was able personally to witness the reserves of generosity and good will present in the youth of your country. Young people are surely your nation’s greatest treasure. That is why they urgently need an all-round education which will enable them to reject cynicism and selfishness and to grow into their full stature as informed, wise and morally responsible members of the community. At the beginning of a new Millennium, young people must be given every opportunity to take up their role as "craftsmen of a new humanity, where brothers and sisters – members all of the same family – are able at last to live in peace" (Message for the 2001 World Day of Peace, 22).
Mr. Ambassador, as you begin your mission as your country’s representative to the Holy See, I reiterate my hope that in facing the challenges of the present and future the American people will draw upon the deep spiritual and moral resources which have inspired and guided the nation’s growth, and which remain the surest pledge of its greatness. I am confident that America’s Catholic community, which has historically played a crucial role in the education of a responsible citizenry and in the relief of the poor, the sick and the needy, will be actively present in the process of discerning the shape of your country’s future course. Upon you and your family and all the American people I cordially invoke God’s blessings of joy and peace.
Dear Daughters of St Paul,
1. With joy I greet you, gathered at Ariccia to celebrate the General Chapter of your Institute. It is an important "family" meeting and you want it to be full of communion and hope. The already "universal" face of your Congregation is well-highlighted, thanks to the presence of delegates from five continents.
I give a special greeting to the Superior General, Sr Giovannamaria Carrara, and to her close collaborators. I greet each of the Chapter members, and through them, all the Daughters of St Paul, present in 50 countries of the world.
I wish to express my gratitude for your love for the Church seen in your works and for the commitment with which you strive to live the spirit of the Apostle Paul in proclaiming the Gospel in the vast and complex "aeropagus" of social communications.
2. A short time ago you commemorated the singular night which began the 20th century, when the then young man, Giacomo Alberione, in prayer before Jesus in the Eucharist in the Cathedral of Alba, received the inspiration that would mark his whole life as an apostle and evangelizer.
He himself recalled that experience with emotion, when a mysterious light broke forth from the holy Host and made it easier to accept Jesus' invitation: "Come to me all of you" (cf. Mt Mt 11,28). He seemed in that night to understand better the desires of the Pope and the exhortation of the Church about the real mission of the Priest. He saw with clarity the needs deriving from the duty of Christians to be evangelizers and understood that they must learn to use the same means that the enemies of the faith use, often with more cunning and initiative. He felt compelled to prepare himself to realize something new in the service of the Lord in the apostolic field. He recognized his personal limits, but at the same time the words of the divine Teacher reassured him: "I am with you until the end of time" (Mt 28,20). Contemplating the Eucharist, he understood perfectly that Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament is always with us. In Him we find light, nourishment, and strength to overcome evil and accomplish the good.
3. In your General Chapter you intend to return spiritually to those extraordinary moments of grace. The theme of your Chapter Assembly is in harmony with what your Founder experienced in that memorable night of prayer: "From the Eucharist to the mission. Together to communicate the Gospel today". This is a topic that leads you to the roots of your vocation and opens your spirit to the needs of your mission in the service of the new evangelization. The Lord draws you to himself: "Come to me, all...", then to entrust to you a specific missionary mandate: "Go to all nations".
Go "together"! This He repeats to you during your Chapter sessions. Go confidently, because you are sustained by the Eucharist, the source of renewed life, from which you can draw light, strength, the grace necessary for your missionary task. From this sublime mystery you can draw ardour and enthusiasm to announce to the people of our time with ever faster and more effective means the hope that does not disappoint (cf. Phil Ph 1,20).
4. Don Alberione, seeing clearly the urgency implied in your mission, imagined you as "Apostles who burn with love for God in their deep spiritual life"; he wanted you to be sisters always "on the way", "bearers of Christ and living, active members of the Church".
Through the witness of his life, he has left you a spiritual heritage that can be summed up in these words of his: "You are founded on the Host. Always call yourselves "Pauline': Jesus drew Paul, Paul grafted onto Christ produced the fruits of Christ..." (Exercises and Meditations, USA 1952, p. 168).
To become true apostles of Christ, you need to keep your gaze fixed on his face (cf. Heb He 12,2).
May Christ be the centre of your lives and your mission. Strive for holiness! If you should happen, like the disciples, to spend yourselves without success (cf. Lk Lc 5,4-6), transform this apparently frustrating experience into a precious occasion to pray and mature spiritually. The challenges of today are many and the means at our disposal to face them do not always seem adequate. Do not let the problems, the obstacles discourage you. On the contrary, may they force you to open your hearts to divine grace so that, with the strength of the word of Christ, you can sow the joy and newness of the Gospel with your presence and your action.
5. Dear Daughters of St Paul! I am grateful for the service you give to the Church in a vast and complex missionary field, the area of social communications. In this epoch of global communication, you must make the message of salvation be heard. To fulfil this mission, the Church needs, more than ever, skilled labourers who are also convinced and credible witnesses of Christ. This is your vocation. Be faithful to it in every situation. Know yourselves to be true "Daughters of St Paul", communicators of Christ, in total and docile acceptance of the teachings and directives of the Church.
I repeat to you, dear Daughters of St Paul, the words of the Redeemer: "Put out into the deep!" (Lc 5,4). Do not hesitate to put out into the deep in the unending ocean of today's humanity. Bring to life in yourselves the fiery sentiments of Paul who exclaimed: "Woe to me if I do not preach the Gospel!" (1Co 9,16). May this be the longing of your whole lives. The Lord is with you and in the Eucharist he continually enlightens you and refreshes you.
I extend to you my cordial best wishes that these days of reflection and meeting help you to follow your apostolic journey with greater enthusiasm, walking in the footsteps of Don Giacomo Alberione, of the co-foundress Sr Tecla Merlo, of all the sisters and brothers who have preceded you.
My blessing to all!
To the Members of the Seventeenth General Assembly
of the Congregation of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood
With affection in the Lord, I welcome the General Assembly of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood on this feast of the Triumph of the Cross. How fitting it is that we meet on the day when the whole Church sings the glory of the Cross of Christ and rejoices in the power of the blood that flowed from "its source in the secret recesses of his heart to give the sacraments of the Church power to confer the life of grace" (Saint Bonaventure, Opusc. 3, 30). With you, I bow down in adoration of that infinitely precious stream flowing from the wounded side of Christ, and I pray that the General Assembly will seek to ensure that the power of his blood will flow still more abundantly through your Congregation for the sake of the world’s Redemption.
The dawn of the new millennium is a time for bold planning (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, NM 29); and it is good therefore that you have chosen as your theme "The Future Face of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood". This is a moment in which the Holy Spirit is summoning the whole Church to a new evangelization, and the Successor of Peter looks confidently to the Missionaries of the Precious Blood to play an imaginative and energetic part in the Church’s fresh efforts to "make disciples of all nations" (Mt 28,19) as Christ commands. Your Congregation from the beginning understood the import of the Lord’s words: Duc in altum! (Lc 5,4). The command to Peter seemed to make no sense: he had toiled all night and caught nothing. So too now the Church is asked by Christ to go to places and to people where there seems to be little hope of success, and to do things which seem to make little sense according to conventional logic. The Lord asks us to abandon our own assumptions and to trust instead in his command, for he knows that otherwise we will toil in vain.
When Saint Gaspar del Bufalo founded your Congregation in 1815, he was asked by my Predecessor Pope Pius VII to go where no one else would go and to undertake missions which seemed unpromising. He was, for instance, asked to send missionaries to evangelize the bandits who so troubled the area between Rome and Naples at that time. Trusting that the Pope’s request was Christ’s command, your Founder did not hesitate to obey, even if as a result some criticized him for being too novel. Casting his nets into deep and dangerous waters, he made an astonishing catch.
Two centuries later, another Pope summons the sons of Saint Gaspar to be no less bold in their decisions and actions – to go where others cannot or will not go and to undertake missions which seem to hold little hope of success. I ask you to continue your efforts to build a civilization of life, seeking the protection of all human life, from the life of the unborn to the life of the aged and infirm, and promoting the dignity of every human person, especially of the weak and of those deprived of their rightful share of the earth’s abundance. I urge you to pursue a mission of reconciliation, as you work to rebuild societies torn by civil strife, even bringing together victims and perpetrators of violence in a spirit of forgiveness, so that they may come to know that "it is [the blood of Christ] that is the most powerful source of hope; indeed it is the foundation of the absolute certitude that in God’s plan life will be victorious" (Evangelium Vitae, EV 25).
"The future face of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood" must be the face of the Crucified Lord who poured out his blood for the life of the world. His, certainly, is a face of sorrow, for "in order to bring man back to the Father’s face, Jesus not only had to take on the face of man, but he had to burden himself with the ‘face’ of sin" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, NM 25). Yet most mysteriously, even in the midst of such affliction, Jesus did not cease to know the joy which came from union with his Father (cf. ibid., 26-27). And at the moment of Easter this joy came to its fullness as the light of divine glory shone on the face of the Risen Lord, whose wounds shine for ever like the sun. This is the truth of who you are, dear Brothers; this is the face of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood past, present and future; this ought to be your witness in the world.
But this will only be so if your mission springs from the depths of contemplation, in which "the believer learns to recognize and appreciate the almost divine dignity of every human being and can exclaim with ever renewed and grateful wonder: ‘How precious must man be in the eyes of the Creator if he gained so great a Redeemer!’" (Evangelium Vitae, EV 25). Contemplation of the face of Christ was the prime legacy of the Great Jubilee (cf. Novo Millennio Ineunte, NM 15) and it remains for ever the womb of Christian mission. Therefore a new evangelization demands a new depth of prayer; and I urge you to make this a prime focus of all your deliberations during the General Assembly, so that in these days of grace you will not cease to say: "It is your face, O Lord, that I seek" (Ps 26,8).
Speeches 2001 - Friday 7 September 2001