Saturday, 8 November 2003
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I gladly extend my heartfelt greeting to each of you who have come to Rome to manifest once again your deep devotion to the See of Peter and, at the same time, to exchange the Pastoral Visit that I had the joy of making to your Country last June. My warm welcome to all.
I greet first of all Cardinal Josip Bozanic and I thank him for the kind words which, also as President of the Bishops' Conference of Croatia, he has addressed to me in the name of those present. Together with him, I extend brotherly greetings to the Bishops who have wished to be present at this meeting. My respectful thought then goes to the representatives of the civil and military Authorities of Croatia, whom I thank for ensuring the success of my Pastoral Visits.
I would like to renew the expression of my deep gratitude for the warm welcome that always awaits me each time that I step onto the soil of your beloved Country. I keep in my mind and heart the images of an enthusiastic, hospitable and generous people animated by a living faith.
2. I recall the first large meeting with the Croatian people in the nearby Basilica, on 30 April 1979, at the tomb of the Prince of the Apostles. Since then I have had the opportunity to meet your countrymen on different occasions: here in Rome and on the Pastoral Visits to your homeland.
Providence decreed that my 100th Apostolic Visit outside of Italy would actually be to Croatia, with stops in ancient and splendid Dubrovnik for the Beatification of Sr Maria of Jesus Crucified Petkovic, and then in Osijek and Djakovo, Rijeka and Zadar. As a Gospel pilgrim, then, on the world's highways, called to serve the Church on the Chair of Peter, I was able to confirm you in the faith to which you have given a beautiful witness in the midst of ongoing adversity and suffering. In this way I wanted to sustain your much-tried hope and to awaken your charity, urging you to persevere in your attachment to the Church in the new atmosphere of freedom and democracy re-established 13 years ago.
3. Your beloved Nation has the necessary vigour and capacity to address the present-day challenges appropriately. I hope that this will stand you in good stead in building a solid society, ready to give effective support to the weakest classes; a society founded on the religious and human values that down the centuries have inspired the generations before you; a society that respects the sacredness of life and God's great plan for the family; a society that keeps healthy forces united, encouraging the spirit of communion and co-responsibility.
The commitment to men and women for their true good also draws strength from the Gospel and is therefore part of the Church's mission (cf. Mt Mt 25,34-46 Lc 4,18-19); whatever is genuinely human cannot be foreign to Christ's disciples.
4. I pray that God will grant peace, harmony and perseverance to the noble nation of Croatia, in its commitment towards the common good. I entrust your people to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, Our Lady of the Great Croatian Baptismal Vow, and to St Joseph, heavenly Patron of your country.
To all here present, to your diocesan and parochial communities, to your families, I impart my heartfelt Apostolic Blessing.
Praised be Jesus and Mary!
I am pleased to welcome your Delegation and I ask you kindly to convey my greetings and good wishes to President Yasser Arafat and to all the Palestinian people. I am confident that this visit of prominent Palestinian Christians to the Holy See will lead to a better understanding of the situation of Christians in the Palestinian territories and the significant role which they can play in promoting the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.
Despite the recent setbacks on the road to peace and fresh outbreaks of violence and injustice, we must continue to affirm that peace is possible and that the resolution of differences can only come about through the patient dialogue and persevering commitment of people of good will on both sides. Terrorism must be condemned in all its forms, for it is not only a betrayal of our common humanity, but is absolutely incapable of laying the necessary political, moral and spiritual foundations for a people’s freedom and authentic self-determination. I once again call upon all parties to respect fully the resolutions of the United Nations and the commitments made in the acceptance of the peace process, with engagement in a common quest for reconciliation, justice and the building of a secure and harmonious coexistence in the Holy Land. I likewise voice my hope that the national Constitution presently being drafted will give expression to the highest aspirations and the most cherished values of all the Palestinian people, with due recognition of all religious communities and adequate legal protection of their freedom of worship and expression.
Dear friends, through you I send warm greetings to the Christians of the Holy Land, who have an altogether special place in my heart. Upon you and all the Palestinian people I invoke God’s blessings of wisdom, strength and peace.
Dear Members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences,
I am especially pleased to greet you today as we celebrate the Four Hundredth Anniversary of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. I thank the President of the Academy, Professor Nicola Cabibbo, for the kind sentiments expressed on your behalf and I acknowledge with gratitude the thoughtful gesture with which you have wished to commemorate the Silver Jubilee of my Pontificate.
The Accademia dei Lincei was founded in Rome in 1603 by Federico Cesi with the encouragement of Pope Clement VIII. In 1847 it was restored by Pius IX and in 1936 re-established by Pius XI. Its history is linked to that of many other Scientific Academies throughout the world. I am happy to welcome the Presidents and representatives of these institutions who have so kindly joined us today, especially the President of the Accademia dei Lincei.
I recall with gratitude the many meetings we have had over the past twenty-five years. They have been opportunities for me to express my great esteem for those who work in the various scientific fields. I have carefully listened to you, shared your concerns, and considered your suggestions. In encouraging your work I have emphasized the spiritual dimension always present in the search for truth. I have also affirmed that scientific research must be directed towards the common good of society and the integral development of its individual members.
Our gatherings have also enabled me to clarify important aspects of the Church’s doctrine and life relating to scientific research. We are united in our common desire to correct misunderstandings and even more to allow ourselves to be enlightened by the one Truth which governs the world and guides the lives of all men and women. I am more and more convinced that scientific truth, which is itself a participation in divine Truth, can help philosophy and theology to understand ever more fully the human person and God’s Revelation about man, a Revelation that is completed and perfected in Jesus Christ. For this important mutual enrichment in the search for the truth and the benefit of mankind, I am, with the whole Church, profoundly grateful.
The two topics which you have chosen for your meeting concern the life sciences, and in particular the very nature of human life. The first, Mind, Brain and Education, draws our attention to the complexity of human life and its pre-eminence over other forms of life. Neuroscience and neurophysiology, through the study of chemical and biological processes in the brain, contribute greatly to an understanding of its workings. But the study of the human mind involves more than the observable data proper to the neurological sciences. Knowledge of the human person is not derived from the level of observation and scientific analysis alone but also from the interconnection between empirical study and reflective understanding.
Scientists themselves perceive in the study of the human mind the mystery of a spiritual dimension which transcends cerebral physiology and appears to direct all our activities as free and autonomous beings, capable of responsibility and love, and marked with dignity. This is seen by the fact that you have decided to expand your research to include aspects of learning and education, which are specifically human activities. Thus your considerations focus not just on the biological life common to all living creatures but also include the interpretive and evaluative work of the human mind.
Scientists today often recognize the need to maintain a distinction between the mind and the brain, or between the person acting with free will and the biological factors which sustain his intellect and capacity to learn. In this distinction, which need not be a separation, we can see the foundation of that spiritual dimension proper to the human person which biblical Revelation explains as a special relationship with God the Creator (cf. Gen Gn 2,7) in whose image and likeness every man and woman is made (cf. Gen Gn 1,26-27).
The second topic of your meeting concerns Stem Cell Technology and Other Innovative Therapies. Research in this field has understandably grown in importance in recent years because of the hope it offers for the cure of ills affecting many people. I have on other occasions stated that stem cells for purposes of experimentation or treatment cannot come from human embryo tissue. I have instead encouraged research on adult human tissue or tissue superfluous to normal fetal development. Any treatment which claims to save human lives, yet is based upon the destruction of human life in its embryonic state, is logically and morally contradictory, as is any production of human embryos for the direct or indirect purpose of experimentation or eventual destruction.
Distinguished friends, reiterating my thanks for your valued assistance I invoke upon you and your families God’s abundant blessing. May your scientific work bear abundant fruit and may the activities of Pontifical Academy of Sciences continue to promote knowledge of the truth and contribute to the development of all peoples.
I offer a cordial welcome to everyone present. I greet in particular President Lech Wa³esa, President of the Union. I greet Archbishop Tadeusz Goclowski, episcopal representative responsible for pastoral ministry in the world of work. I am glad once again to offer hospitality at the Vatican to representatives of "Solidarnosc".
It is not the first time that we have met on 11 November, a special day for Poland. I remember that such an Audience also took place in 1996. I said then: "In the depths of my heart I bear your problems, aspirations, worries and joys, and the fatigue that goes with your work, and I commend them to God in my daily prayer" (11 November 1996, n. 1; L'Osservatore Romano English edition [ORE], 4 December 1996, p. 7).
Recalling the date of 11 November cannot fail to remind me of the national freedom the Republic of Poland regained that day after years of strife which cost our Nation so much deprivation and so many sacrifices. This external freedom was short lived, but we have always been able to appeal to it in the fight to preserve our inner, spiritual freedom. I know how dear this day was to all those who, in the Communist period, sought to oppose the systematic suppression of the freedom of human beings, the humiliation of their dignity and the denial of their fundamental rights. Later, that opposition gave birth to the movement that you, its artisans, are continuing. This movement was also linked to 11 November, to the freedom that found external political expression in 1918. It developed from the inner freedom of the individual citizens of the divided Republic of Poland and from the spiritual freedom of the whole Nation.
Although after the end of the Second World War and the Yalta Agreements this spiritual freedom was repressed, it survived and became the leaven of the peaceful transformations in our country, and later throughout Europe, which also occurred thanks to the "Solidarnosc" Union. I thank God for the year 1979. In that year the sense of unity for good and the common desire for prosperity of the oppressed Nation overcame hatred and the desire for revenge and became the seed of a democratic State. Yes, there were attempts to destroy this work. We all remember 13 December 1981. We managed to survive those trials. I thank God, for on 19 April 1989, I was able to say the following words: Mary, "I commend to your motherly care "Solidarnosc' which today, following the new legalization of 17 April, can resume its activity. I recommend to you the process connected with this event, which aims at moulding the life of the Nation according to the laws of the sovereign society. I pray to you, Our Lady of Jasna Góra, that in line with this process all may continue to show the indispensable courage, wisdom and deliberation to serve the common good" (ORE, 3 May 1989, p. 12).
I am recalling these events because they are particularly significant in our country's history. And it seems that they are being forgotten. The younger generations have not experienced them first-hand.
Consequently, one might well wonder whether they properly appreciate the freedom they possess if they are unaware of the price that was paid for it. "Solidarnosc" cannot neglect to pay attention to this history, both so near and yet so distant. We cannot abstain from remembering the post-war history of how our freedom was recovered. We must constantly refer to this heritage so that freedom will not degenerate into anarchy, but take the form of joint responsibility for Poland's future and that of every one of its citizens.
On 15 January 1981, I said to the representatives of "Solidarnosc": "I think, Ladies and Gentlemen, that you are fully aware of the duties that are in store for you.... These are duties of enormous importance. They are connected with the need for a full guarantee of the dignity and efficacy of human work, by means of respect for all the personal, family and social rights of every man, who is a subject of work. In this sense these duties have a fundamental significance for the life of the whole of society, of the entire Nation, for its common good. In fact, the common good of society is reduced, when all is said and done, to the question: who makes up society; who is every man; how does he live and work? Therefore, your autonomous activity has, and must always have, a clear reference to the whole of social morality. First of all, to the morality connected with the field of work, to relations between the worker and the employer" (Address to Delegation of Independent Polish Trade Unions, 15 January, 1981, n. 5; ORE, 9 February 1981, p. 21).
It seems that today this exhortation to guarantee the dignity and efficacy of human work has lost none of its importance. I know how these two aspects of work are threatened today. Alongside the development of the market economy, new problems are emerging that painfully affect the workers. I have spoken several times recently about the problem of unemployment that is acquiring dangerous proportions in many parts of Poland. Apparently, it seems that the trade unions do not exercise influence on it. However, we should ask ourselves whether they can influence the engagement of new employees - since they appear to be hired more and more frequently on a temporary basis - or the method of dismissal, as they are fired with total disregard for the fate of the individuals and their families. Yes, "Solidarnosc" is clearly more active in the large firms, especially those that are State-owned. Yet we might well ask if the trade union pays enough attention to the fate of employees in small private firms, supermarkets, schools, hospitals or other institutions subject to the market economy, whose manpower cannot compare with those working in the mines or steel plants. Your union must openly side with the workers whose employers deny them their right to speak or to oppose phenomena that violate their fundamental rights.
I know that in our country it can happen that workers do not receive their wages. A short time ago, referring to the letter which the Polish Bishops published on this topic, I said that blocking payment owed for work is a sin that cries to heaven for revenge. "To take away a neighbour's living is to murder him; to deprive an employee of his wages is to shed blood" (Si 34,22). This abuse is the cause of the tragic plight of many working people and their families. The Trade Union "Solidarnosc" cannot remain indifferent to this heartrending phenomenon.
Another problem is the treatment of workers solely as "manpower". It happens that employers in Poland deny their employees the right to rest, to medical assistance and even to maternity leave.
Isn't this a curtailment of the freedom that "Solidarnosc" fought for? Much still remains to be done here. This duty is not only incumbent on the State authorities and the juridical institutions, but also on "Solidarnosc", in which the working world has placed such great hopes. They cannot be disappointed.
In 1981, during the state of emergency, I said to the representatives of the Trade Union "Solidarnosc": "The activity of the trade unions does not have a political character; it must not be an instrument of the action of anyone, of any political party, in order to be able to concentrate, in an exclusive and fully autonomous way, on the great social good of human work and of working people" (ibid. 15 January 1981, n. 6). It seems that it was the politicization of the trade union - probably a historical necessity - that led to its weakening. As I wrote in the Encyclical Laborem Exercens, the State's authority is an indirect employer whose interests do not usually correspond to the employee's needs. It seems that "Solidarnosc", at a certain stage in history, on entering directly into the world of politics and assuming responsibility for governing the country, had no option but to give up defending the interests of workers in many economic and public sectors. May I say that today, if "Solidarnosc" truly desires to serve the Nation, it should return to its roots, to the ideals that illuminated it as a trade union. Power passes from hand to hand, and workers, farmers, teachers, health-care workers and all other workers, independently of the authority in power in the country, are expecting help with defending their rights. "Solidarnosc" cannot overlook this.
Your task is difficult and demanding. Every day, therefore, I keep all your efforts in my prayer. By defending workers' rights you are working for a just cause, so you can count on the Church's help. I believe that this action will be effective and will lead to an improvement in the future of working people in our country. With God's help, may you continue to carry out the work we began together so long ago. Take my greeting to the entire "Solidarnosc" syndicate.
Take my greeting to the world of work.
Take my greeting to your families.
God bless all of you!
I wholeheartedly greet the delegation of the National Polish Soccer Team and the athletes of the National Italian Soccer Team, with their coaches and teammates. I greet in particular the President of the Italian Soccer Federation, Mr Franco Carraro.
You wanted to pay me a visit, my dear friends, on the evening before the good-natured match that is scheduled tomorrow in Warsaw, in order to give me your best wishes.
I thank you for this kind initiative and, while I assure each one of my remembrance in prayer, I give you all my heartfelt Blessing.
Dear Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,
1. I am pleased to meet you on the occasion of the International Conference organized by the Pontifical Council for Health Pastoral Care on the theme of "Depression". I thank Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragán for his kind words on behalf of those present.
I greet the distinguished Specialists, who came to offer the fruit of their research in order to further knowledge of this pathology, so as to improve treatment and provide the right type of assistance to those concerned and to their families.
Likewise, my appreciation goes to those who are dedicated to the service of persons with depression, helping them to retain their trust in life. My thoughts naturally extend to families who are accompanying their loved one with affection and sensitivity.
2. Your work, dear participants in the Congress, has revealed the different, complex aspects of depression: they range from chronic sickness, more or less permanent, to a fleeting state linked to difficult events - conjugal and family conflicts, serious work problems, states of loneliness... - that involve a crack, or even fracture in social, professional or family relationships. This disease is often accompanied by an existential and spiritual crisis that leads to an inability to perceive the meaning of life.
The spread of depressive states has become disturbing. They reveal human, psychological and spiritual frailties which, at least in part, are induced by society. It is important to become aware of the effect on people of messages conveyed by the media which exalt consumerism, the immediate satisfaction of desires and the race for ever greater material well-being. It is necessary to propose new ways so that each person may build his or her own personality by cultivating spiritual life, the foundation of a mature existence. The enthusiastic participation in the World Youth Days shows that the young generations are seeking Someone who can illuminate their daily journey, giving them good reasons for living and helping them to face their difficulties.
3. You have stressed that depression is always a spiritual trial. The role of those who care for depressed persons and who do not have a specifically therapeutic task consists above all in helping them to rediscover their self-esteem, confidence in their own abilities, interest in the future, the desire to live. It is therefore important to stretch out a hand to the sick, to make them perceive the tenderness of God, to integrate them into a community of faith and life in which they can feel accepted, understood, supported, respected; in a word, in which they can love and be loved. For them as for everyone else, contemplating Christ means letting oneself be "looked at" by him, an experience that opens one to hope and convinces one to choose life (cf. Dt Dt 30,19).
In the spiritual process, reading and meditation on the Psalms, in which the sacred author expresses his joys and anxieties in prayer, can be of great help. The recitation of the Rosary makes it possible to find in Mary a loving Mother who teaches us how to live in Christ.
Participation in the Eucharist is a source of inner peace, because of the effectiveness of the Word and of the Bread of Life, and because of the integration into the ecclesial community that it achieves. Aware of the effort it costs a depressed person to do something which to others appears simple and spontaneous, one must endeavour to help him with patience and sensitivity, remembering the observation of St Theresa of the Child Jesus: "Little ones take little steps".
In his infinite love, God is always close to those who are suffering. Depressive illness can be a way to discover other aspects of oneself and new forms of encounter with God. Christ listens to the cry of those whose boat is rocked by the storm (cf. Mk Mc 4,35-41). He is present beside them to help them in the crossing and guide them to the harbour of rediscovered peace.
4. The phenomenon of depression reminds the Church and all society how important it is to provide people, and especially youth, with examples and experiences that can help them to grow on the human, psychological, moral and spiritual levels. In fact, the absence of reference points can only contribute to making persons more fragile, inducing them to believe that all forms of behaviour are the same. In this perspective, the role of the family, of school, of youth movements and of parish associations is very important because of the effect that these realities have on the person's formation.
Indeed, the public institutions have a significant role in guaranteeing a dignified standard of living, especially to abandoned, sick and elderly people. Equally necessary are policies for youth aimed at offering the young generations motives for hope to protect them from emptiness or from dangerous fillers.
5. Dear friends, in encouraging you to a renewed commitment in such an important task beside your brothers and sisters who are suffering from depression, I entrust you to the intercession of Mary Most Holy, Salus infirmorum (Health of the Sick). May every individual and every family feel her motherly solicitude in times of difficulty.
To you all, to your collaborators and to your loved ones, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am delighted to welcome all of you who come from various regions of Italy to commemorate the 100 years of life and activity of UNITALSI.
I first of all greet the national President, Dr Antonio Diella, and I am grateful to him for his cordial words on behalf of the entire Association. I greet Mons. Luigi Moretti, Vice Gerent of the Diocese of Rome and your Chaplain. I address a grateful thought to each one of you, and through you to all the members involved both in volunteer work and in the various activities promoted by your Sodality.
I would also like to recall at this moment all those who have preceded you in these 100 years, either in administration or in the humble and silent service that is a feature of the UNITALSI family.
2. Various celebrations in recent months have given you an opportunity to express your gratitude to the Lord: from the Rimini Congress to the international children's pilgrimage and the national pilgrimage to Lourdes; from climbing the hill of the Holy House in Loreto to all your other formative, cultural and religious initiatives.
You now want to conclude your jubilee with the visit to the Eternal City in order to renew in this way the expression of your fidelity to the Successor of the Apostle Peter. You know well that every baptized person is called to be God's "living shrine" by a life consistent with the Gospel message. On various occasions you have meditated on the universal vocation to "holiness". In this regard, and also recently in the Apostolic Exhortation Ecclesia in Europa, I stated that "the contribution of the lay faithful to the life of the Church is essential: they have an irreplaceable role in the proclamation and the service of the Gospel of hope" (n. 41).
3. Dear Brothers and Sisters, keep alive the charism of your ecclesial Association.
May the biblical icon of the Good Samaritan who stoops down to the one who is injured and in need (cf. Lk Lc 10,30-37), as well as the tenacity, fortified by faith and full of hope, of the people who carried the paralyzed man to Jesus by letting his bed down through the roof (cf. Lk Lc 5,18-20), be an incentive to you for ever fuller devotion to God and to your neighbour.
Nourish your personal life and your work in UNITALSI through listening to the Word and prayer, with an intense sacramental life and an endless quest for the divine will. This is the way in which you will carry out "the spiritual worship" pleasing to the Lord.
4. The origins of your Association are linked to the Marian Shrine of Lourdes. By imitating the one who, after welcoming in her womb the "Word made flesh", set out for the house of Elizabeth, make yourselves also available to carry out every sort of humble and simple service. Like her, be witnesses of God's love.
The Immaculate, who "gives joy and peace", will make "God's holiness shine" in your hearts (cf. Missal of the Blessed Virgin Mary, n. 36, Preface and Collect). Turn to her with the recitation of the Rosary and accept her invitation to make the most of suffering and pain as precious contributions to the world's salvation. Our Lady will not fail to give you her help and will support you in every situation.
I accompany you with prayer and very willingly impart a special Blessing to you, to all those to whom you offer your care and love, and to the entire UNITALSI family.
My Dear Brother Bishops,
1. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for his love endures forever” (Ps 118,1). It is fitting that I use these words from the Psalms as I welcome you, the Pastors of the Ecclesiastical Provinces of Madras-Mylapore, Madurai and Pondicherry-Cuddalore, at the conclusion of this series of Ad Limina visits of the Bishops of India. In particular I wish to greet Archbishop Arul Das and thank him for the sentiments he has conveyed on behalf of you all.
My previous addresses to your brother Bishops have frequently examined the importance of promoting a true spirit of solidarity in the Church and in society. It is not enough that the Christian community hold the principle of solidarity as a lofty ideal; rather it must be seen as the norm for human interaction which, in the words of my venerable predecessor Pope Pius XII, has been “sealed by the sacrifice of redemption offered by Jesus Christ on the altar of the Cross to his Heavenly Father, on behalf of sinful humanity” (Summi Pontificatus). Being successors of Christ’s Apostles, we have a primary duty to encourage all men and women to develop this solidarity into a “spirituality of communion” for the good of the Church and humanity (cf. Pastores Gregis ). As I share these thoughts with you today, I wish to place my reflections in the context of this fundamental principle of human and Christian relations.
2. We cannot hope to spread this spirit of unity among our brothers and sisters without genuine solidarity among peoples. Like so many places in the world, India is beset by numerous social problems. In some ways, these challenges are exacerbated because of the unjust system of caste division which denies the human dignity of entire groups of people. In this regard, I repeat what I said during my first pastoral visit to your country: “Ignorance and prejudice must be replaced by tolerance and understanding.Indifference and class struggle must be turned into brotherhood and committed service. Discrimination based on race, colour, creed, sex or ethnic origin must be rejected as totally incompatible with human dignity” (Homily at the Mass in Indira Gandhi Stadium, New Delhi on 2 February 1986).
I commend the many initiatives that have been implemented by the Bishops’ Conference and individual Churches to fight this injustice. The brave steps you have taken to remedy this problem, such as those of the Tamil Nadu Bishops’ Council in 1992, stand out as examples for others to follow. At all times, you must continue to make certain that special attention is given to those belonging to the lowest castes, especially the Dalits. They should never be segregated from other members of society. Any semblance of a caste-based prejudice in relations between Christians is a countersign to authentic human solidarity, a threat to genuine spirituality and a serious hindrance to the Church’s mission of evangelization. Therefore, customs or traditions that perpetuate or reinforce caste division should be sensitively reformed so that they may become an expression of the solidarity of the whole Christian community. As the Apostle Paul teaches us, “if one member suffers, all suffer together” (1Co 12,26). It is the Church’s obligation to work unceasingly to change hearts, helping all people to see every human being as a child of God, a brother or sister of Christ, and therefore a member of our own family.
3. Genuine communion with God and others leads all Christians to proclaim the Good News to those who have neither seen nor heard (cf. 1Jn 1,1). The Church has been given the unique mission to serve “the Kingdom by spreading throughout the world the ‘Gospel values’ which are an expression of the Kingdom and which help people to accept God’s plan” (Redemptoris Missio RMi 20). Indeed, it is this evangelical spirit which encourages even those of different traditions to work together towards the common goal of spreading the Gospel (cf. Address to the Syro-Malabar Bishops of India, 13 May 2003).