Speeches 2001 - Saturday, 17 February 2001
6. Providence offers you many opportunities. We need only recall the ministry of hospitality at the various shrines entrusted to your order's care. I am thinking, for example, of the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, which I have had the joy of visiting on various occasions, where we can see first-hand how the Poverello still fascinates and draws to God countless throngs of those devoted to him.
I am also thinking of the Basilica of St Anthony of Padua, a great spiritual son of Francis of Assisi. Nor can I forget the valuable pastoral service of the praiseworthy confessors in the Vatican Basilica, who especially during the Jubilee spent themselves with laudable effort and dedication in receiving the throngs of penitents from every part of the world. I know that many of the order's religious came to Rome from different countries to assist their brothers who ordinarily carry out this ministry, as hidden as it is necessary for the good of souls.
Dear Friars Minor Conventual, continue your work with the popular style that distinguishes you. The people to whom God sends you to serve are asking you, as the Greeks who had come to Jerusalem for the Passover asked the Apostle Philip: "We wish to see Jesus" (Jn 12,21). It is up to you to make God's merciful love visible and, I would say, almost tangible: a love that welcomes and reconciles, that forgives and renews the hearts of believers, clasping every man and woman, all children of the one heavenly Father, in a comforting embrace.
7. The guidelines resulting from your reflections during these days will certainly help the order to continue on its way in the footsteps of the founder, faithfully following his Gospel insights. With prophetic discernment you will be able to adopt, in the light of the Spirit, "the best ways to preserve and adapt" your charism and your spiritual patrimony "to changing historical and cultural situations" (Vita consecrata, VC 42), without ever disregarding the Rule of life left by St Francis.
You have before you the heroic example of your various confrères who gave their lives for Christ and his Church in the last century. I am referring to your seven Polish brothers, some of whom collaborated with St Maximilian Mary Kolbe, a victim of Nazi ideology. I had the joy of beatifying them over the last six years. Looking at the shining ranks of your order's saints and blesseds, do not be afraid of following the Lord with total dedication. May the Virgin Mary, "Holy Lady, Most Holy Queen, Mother of God" (Greeting to the Virgin, 1, in Fonti Francescane, 259), protect you and help you to carry out the resolutions of the General Chapter.
With these wishes, I willingly impart a special Apostolic Blessing to each of you here, to your communities and to all the Friars Minor Conventual throughout the world, as well as to the lay people who work with you in your various activities.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
At the end of the Great Jubilee I wish to write you this letter in which, as in an informal conversation, I return to some of the emotions stirred by this extraordinary experience of faith, love and conversion which we have experienced together.
Rome will never be able to forget the numerous crowds of pilgrims from every corner of the earth, who walked its streets, prayed in its basilicas and churches and professed one faith in Christ the Lord and Saviour at the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and those of the martyrs.
The pilgrims, in turn, will not be able to forget the warmth of the joyful and fraternal hospitality of the families, religious communities and parishes of this marvellous city, which showed the world once again its universal vocation and gave proof that she "presides in love over all the Churches".
For all these experiences I give thanks with you to the Lord. I recall, in particular, some events that marked the life of the Diocese and were prepared and celebrated with great spiritual intensity and a generous spirit of service: the Diocesan Jubilee, the week of the International Eucharistic Congress with the inspiring Eucharistic procession from St John's Basilica to St Mary Major, the Jubilee of Families and especially the joyful and enthusiastic Jubilee of Young People, which will remain deeply etched in the memory of all who had the grace to take part in it. As I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte, it will not be easy for the young people themselves, or for the volunteers, the families, the parishes and the religious communities who welcomed them with friendship and kindness, to forget this event in which Rome became "young with the young" (cf. n. 9).
The great Jubilee events, but also the no less important daily activities of the Holy Year, could take place in the best possible way due to the dedication and commitment of the priests, religious and many faithful of the Diocese. Thank you, Church of Rome, for opening yourself to the grace of the Jubilee and for having accepted this grace with all the enthusiasm of your heart!
I would especially like to mention the volunteers, the families, the parishes and the religious communities who dedicated themselves with enthusiasm and sacrifice to offering hospitality to the pilgrims and to serving the very poor, the disabled and the suffering. In particular, I am thinking of all who welcomed the great number of young people to World Youth Day with joy and responsible commitment.
2. A glance at the past...
Since the now distant Vigil of Pentecost of 1986, the journey of the Church of Rome has been marked and nourished by a series of great tasks and events. First of all, the Pastoral Synod for the full acceptance and implementation in our Diocese of the Second Vatican Council's teachings: communion and mission were the key ideas guiding the work of the Synod, whose sessions were themselves a great experience of communion. The Book of the Synod remains the reference-point and vademecum for our pastoral activity.
Then, on the feast of the Immaculate Conception in 1995, I called the Church of Rome to the great "City Mission", in preparation for the Holy Year and to carry out the missionary commitment made at the Synod. Here the key idea was that of the "People of God in mission" and everyone in fact - priests, deacons, religious and, above all, many lay people - became, with faith, courage and dedication, missionaries in families, schools, the workplace and more or less everywhere in the city.
This was followed by the wonderful spiritual experience of the Jubilee, which increased the communion and cooperation of all the realities, vocations and charisms that enrich our Diocese, and gave us further confirmation of how there are many individuals and families, in addition to those who usually take part in the life of our communities, in which we still find the roots of faith and a desire for contact with God and for a life that is not captive to mere ambition and earthly interests.
3. ...to plan for the future
We can look forward, then, in an attitude of faith and Christian hope, and, as I wrote in the Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte (n. 1), "put out into the deep" (cf. Lk Lc 5,4), to "live the present with enthusiasm" and to "look forward to the future with enthusiasm", in the certainty that "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever!" (He 13,8): for a new and fruitful season of evangelization in our city and throughout the world awaits us.
As we thank the Lord for the gifts we have received, we also ask ourselves about the best ways to make them bear further fruit; in particular, we seek the possible and effective ways to renew our ordinary pastoral work so that it can become permanently and concretely missionary. The great "Diocesan Convention" is dedicated to this goal, and, in response to my invitation, you have scheduled this for next June and are now preparing for it in the parishes, prefectures and other ecclesial circles.
The Apostolic Letter Novo millennio ineunte offers a basic outline for the preparation and orientation of this Convention, indicating the decisive factors for the life and witness of the Christian community in Rome as in every other part of the world: each local Church, and so too the Church of Rome, is called to identify "the specific features of a detailed pastoral plan - goals and methods, formation and enrichment of the people involved, the search for the necessary resources - which will enable the proclamation of Christ to reach our people, mould communities, and have a deep and incisive influence in bringing Gospel values to bear in society and culture" (n. 29).
But there is something even more important than reflection and pastoral planning and which alone can give them and all apostolic activity the right direction, fruitfulness and efficacy. I am referring, as you have already understood, to that contemplation of the face of Christ (cf. Novo millennio ineunte, II) which becomes the prayer, yearning for holiness and participation in liturgical and sacramental life from which flows the "high standard of ordinary Christian living" (ibid., n. 31).
Brothers and sisters of the Church of Rome, I especially urge you, always but particularly in this period when we are making a community discernment in view of future commitments, to allow great room for prayer and for listening to the word of God and to make the most of the Eucharist, especially on Sundays. Our communities "must become genuine "schools' of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly "falls in love'" (ibid., n. 33). May the rediscovery of the sacrament of Reconciliation, which we experienced during the Holy Year, continue now and be supported by appropriate catechesis and the generous availability of priests in the confessional.
4. Ecclesial communion
I already stressed how pastoral discernment must take place in a spirit of communion. For communion "embodies and reveals the very essence of the mystery of the Church" (ibid., n. 42). We must therefore "make the Church the home and the school of communion" (ibid., n. 43): this is the challenge that awaits us, "if we wish to be faithful to God's plan and respond to the world's deepest yearnings" (ibid.).
It is a question, above all, of increasing the "spirituality of communion", which helps us to overcome every vain search for personal success and to exploit all the charisms with which the Lord enriches his Church, and which, "by prompting a trust and openness wholly in accord with the dignity and responsibility of every member of the People of God, supplies institutional reality with a soul" (ibid., n. 45).
There can be many ways and concrete forms for fostering communion in our Diocese, so rich in various spiritual and pastoral experiences, but it is crucial, to this end, that every parish and religious community, every ecclesial reality, and even each baptized person, particularly those who have greater pastoral responsibilities, ask themselves sincerely: what contribution can I make to the growth of full communion in the Church? How can I help to make her the home and school of communion?
5. Missionary formation
On the basis of mutual communion, it will be easier to develop that commitment to Christian formation with a specifically missionary thrust that the passing years make ever more clearly necessary. In today's social and cultural context, and given that so many families are unable to provide their children with primary Christian formation, it is our ecclesial communities, beginning with the parishes, that must take up the task of their entire formation, starting with their childhood years and continuing without interruption to their youth, adulthood and old age.
It is a question of forming authentic Christians; this cannot happen without the deep personal involvement of teachers and those who are taught. But it also means giving this whole process a strongly missionary character that will make Christians willing and able to bear clear witness to their faith in all the circumstances of their lives. Only in this way can the "permanent mission", which is our great pastoral goal, become a concrete reality, not only through special programmes, but also and above all in the fabric of our Diocese's daily life with all its various dimensions.
6. Vocational promotion
Although every Christian receives his own vocation from the Lord and needs adequate formation to be able to respond to it, the vocations of special consecration, particularly to the priesthood and the consecrated life, retain all their special value. Even the Church of Rome, which has been blessed by God in recent years with the gift of many priestly ordinations, feels today the need to "implement an extensive plan of vocational promotion, based on personal contact and involving parishes, schools and families in the effort to foster a more attentive reflection on life's essential values. These reach their fulfilment in the response which each person is invited to give to God's call, particularly when the call implies a total giving of self and of one's energies to the cause of the kingdom" (Novo millennio ineunte, NM 46).
I ask each believer and every ecclesial institution, particularly the communities of contemplative life, to intensify their prayer for vocations. It is the first task and the most necessary. This must be followed by attentive care in promoting, guiding and fostering each individual vocation. It is a task for the whole Diocese and includes the specific responsibility of our diocesan seminaries, which I wish to assure that they are constantly in my thoughts and are especially remembered in my prayer.
7. The ways of permanent mission
The courage to dare and the wisdom of discernment must be expressed especially in planning and developing those forms of mission which we already experienced during the City Mission and which must now be suitably integrated into ordinary pastoral activity and even enriched with new concerns. I am thinking in particular of those fundamental decisions and initiatives such as the visits to families (which were followed by organizing the home centres for listening to the Gospel), the missionary witnesses in living and working environments, the dialogue in the light of faith with the cultural institutions of our city. If these decisions are to find a suitable background and support, however, catechesis, liturgical activity and the various initiatives of our communities must acquire features that are more clearly missionary. They can do this by always focusing on the proclamation of Jesus Christ, the only Saviour, and by making this witness respond to the questions, concerns and expectations which is interwoven with the daily life of our people.
At the very moment when the missionary commitment is spurring our parishes and the various ecclesial contexts to come out of themselves in order to offer the meeting with Christ to everyone, we are encountering many old and new forms of suffering and poverty in the homes and neighbourhoods of Rome. For us too, now is "the time for a new "creativity' in charity, not only by ensuring that help is effective but also by "getting close' to those who suffer, so that the hand that helps is seen not as a humiliating handout but as a sharing between brothers and sisters" (Novo millennio ineunte, NM 50). On this frontier of charity, where the Church of Rome has been engaged throughout her entire history, I ask for a united and generous presence that involves every Church member.
No less necessary is a constant attention to the vast world of culture in the variety of its expressions. The "Christian-oriented cultural project" that represents one of the great priorities of the Church in Italy must make ever more concrete advances especially in Rome. It is not only a question of being present in places more specifically devoted to fostering and communicating culture, but also of being able to make an impression on the mentality and culture through daily pastoral activity. It will also be necessary to make every believer aware of what his work, convictions and lifestyle can contribute to the formation of a more Christian social environment in the city.
I do not need to stress the importance of family ministry for a far-reaching missionary commitment at this historical moment when the family itself, even in Rome, is experiencing a deep and widespread crisis. Precisely for this reason we cannot be satisfied with attention to the family that is occasional or limited to the closest and most open families. The Church's maternal face must be seen instead, as far as possible, in every family through the work of the Bishops, but also through the witness and concern of Christian families who can "show convincingly that it is possible to live marriage fully in keeping with God's plan and with the true good of the human person - of the spouses, and of the children who are more fragile" (Novo millennio ineunte, NM 47).
World Youth Day, in its celebration and in all its preparatory work, in which the Diocese of Rome distinguished itself, gave us proof that it would be an unforgivable mistake not to trust in that "special gift of the Spirit of God" which young people are for Rome and for the Church (cf. ibid., n. 9). We could see with our own eyes that many young people are in love with Christ and know how to overcome the insidious temptation of separating Christ from the Church. These young people can and must become the first missionaries to their friends and peers: the new apostolic enthusiasm that we intend to give to the whole life of our Church requires that their capacity for being authentic and credible witnesses to the Lord should be cultivated and developed through an attitude of trust and suitable formation.
8. The love of Christ impels us (2Co 5,14)
Dear brothers and sisters, the months from now until the June Convention will give you an opportunity to listen to the Spirit who speaks to his Church and to listen to one another, in order to discover together the most effective ways to make the commitment to the new evangelization a permanent one.
But we are well aware of how all the enthusiasm, energy and devotion of the evangelizers comes from that source which is the love of God, poured out into our hearts by the gift of the Holy Spirit.
This love embraces, in Christ, all our fellow men and women, who are called like us to faith and salvation. In particular, it embraces everyone who lives in this great city, poor and rich, young and old, Italians and foreigners. And with them it embraces the entire city, to whose authentic human and civil progress we wish to make, as believers in Christ, the most sincere contribution. Let us undertake, then, especially to live the preparation for the Convention and all that will follow as an act of love.
May Mary Most Holy, Salus Populi Romani, the Apostles Peter and Paul and all the saints of the Church of Rome sustain us by their intercession so that together we may all fulfil with fidelity and trust the mission that the Lord entrusts to us.
As a sign of my great affection I cordially give everyone my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of the grace and joy that come from the Holy Spirit.
From the Vatican, 14 February 2001.
1. I joyfully welcome you for your visit ad limina Apostolorum today. I thank Bishop Louis Pelâtre, Latin-rite Vicar Apostolic of Istanbul and President of your Episcopal Conference, for his cordial words summarizing the situation of the Church in your country and expressing your concern as Pastors, as well as the difficulties and hopes of your communities.
I cannot speak of your Church without returning to the sources of our faith, to the early days of evangelization in Asia Minor by the Lord's Apostles. The Gospel, in fact, first blossomed in your land: it was there that the Church grew, was established and organized around illustrious Bishops such as St Polycarp of Smyrna and St Ignatius of Antioch; it was there that the faith of the Church was later consolidated at the first seven Ecumenical Councils in Nicaea, Ephesus, Chalcedon and Constantinople. Moreover, how can we forget all that the Cappadocian Fathers, Basil, Gregory of Nazianzus, Gregory of Nyssa and John Chrysostom, did to increase our understanding of the faith! Here is a wealth and heritage shared by all your Dioceses, whatever their rite, which is an invitation, even in today's modest circumstances, to follow in the footsteps of this great tradition of acceptance and meditation on the Word of God and of personal sanctification for the glory of God and the proclamation of salvation in Jesus Christ.
2. I was very pleased to share prayerfully in your joy as Pastors and in that of all Christian people at the recent celebrations in Istanbul in honour of Bl. John XXIII. I appreciated the action of the Turkish authorities, who wished in this way to honour the memory of the "Pope, friend of the Turks", by naming after him the street where the historic building of the former Apostolic Delegation in Turkey stands and by organizing a full programme of cultural events to celebrate this occasion. These festivities have also been marked by important religious celebrations; in this connection I would like to acknowledge the fraternal participation of His Holiness Bartholomew I, Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople, of His Beatitude Mesrob II, Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul, of Metropolitan Çeltin, Patriarchal Vicar of the Syrian Orthodox, and of the representatives of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, as well as the presence of representatives of the Jewish community and the Muslim authorities. This participation by different members of Turkish society shows the great influence of the blessed's personality and the cordial understanding among all the country's inhabitants, with respect for different beliefs and religious practices. The Catholic community of Turkey was also delighted with the significant participation in these celebrations of Bishops representing the Episcopal Conferences of European countries, thus recalling Turkey's close ties with Europe and the positive role which Catholics can play on this continent. May the example and prayer of the blessed and good Pope John enlighten and encourage your pastoral ministry today!
3. To carry out her mission, the Church in Turkey must strengthen her bonds of communion with the universal Church: this is the profound meaning of what you are doing today by this ad limina visit, which is also an experience of fraternal communion among yourselves in order to continue your collaborative efforts within the Episcopal Conference. You are concerned to maintain and to develop relations of good understanding with all the country's inhabitants, showing your concern for everyone you meet. You are also pursuing a patient, determined dialogue with the public authorities; this is how the Church, as an institution and a group of communities of the faithful, will increasingly find her place in national life. In fact, freedom of religion and worship, which is inseparable from freedom of conscience, is an essential element for social harmony at the local level. Every State, with the help of all its inhabitants, is called to be vigilant in this area, in order to strengthen relations within the country and to consolidate its place in the concert of nations and in multilateral relations. You know that it is in this spirit that the Holy See, for its part, works for greater understanding between peoples.
4. Two years ago your Episcopal Conference started the project of an Ecclesial Assembly, which will soon take shape in meetings at the diocesan and national level. I am delighted with the results of this pastoral dialogue among Bishops, and I encourage you to continue in this direction: it is a living expression of the affectus collegialis, whose value was restored by the Second Vatican Council and which enables you to support each other in the care of your mission. This gathering, just after the year of grace and mercy of the Great Jubilee, will give new ardour and zeal to your Christian communities, often frail and dispersed, so that the Church in Turkey can advance in the new millennium with confidence and courage, inspiring Christians "who are always prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls them to account for the hope that is in them" (cf. 1P 3,15). I firmly encourage you to carry through this important project, taking care that all the members of the ecclesial community feel involved: priests, religious and especially lay people, who must take an ever more active and responsible part in the Church's life and mission.
5. It is important that the Church of Christ be truly involved in the life of Turkish society. This requires a considerable work of adaptation, already widely begun in the liturgy, the translation of the Word of God and catechetical texts; it also involves an important investment, to which you are committed, so that the priests and religious who come to Turkey can learn the country's language, history, customs and culture.
Is it not necessary to take a further step and to work patiently and perseveringly to foster vocations to the priesthood and consecrated life among Turkey's young Catholics? In contemporary society, so avid for immediate gratification, it is not easy for people to hear Christ's call to leave everything and to follow him in self-giving, celibacy and chastity offered for the love of God and others. Youth, as you have noted, do not lack generosity and idealistic aspirations; they can accept this call if they have ready and attentive witnesses at their side. I therefore encourage you to redouble your efforts to support the pastoral care of vocations, seeking together the most appropriate ways to form the future priests of your Churches, either in your country or by seeking the help of other Dioceses, particularly in Europe, to which your country is tied. Local structures for the discernment of vocations and for the first stage of priestly formation will certainly give new energy to the pastoral care of vocations. It is essential, in all cases, that the young men who are thinking of the priesthood can come together in a meaningful way to share their searching, their aspirations, their discovery of Christ with the help of teachers who are at their disposal. Moreover, community life in the seminary is essential for teaching them how to grow humanly and in faith, to create unity in themselves and their lives through intimacy with Christ, as well as for learning to be pastors of the Church who are conscious of being members of one presbyterate.
6. The future of the Church and of society as a whole depends, in a certain way, on today's young people. I know the attention that you and other adults are paying to the circumstances in which they live. In the Ecclesial Assembly you are preparing, they will be able to express their hopes and expectations. You are already contributing to the education of Turkish youth, in which the Catholic schools participate, thanks to the skill and dedication of the religious congregations that run them.
Bring all of them the Pope's greeting and encouragement. The formation of young Christians is also a concern for you, and I am delighted with the fruits of collaboration between communities of different rites, while I ask families to be more and more involved along with their pastors, so that young people will receive the necessary instruction for a solid Christian life. May all families be more aware of the importance of passing on the faith to the younger generation, which requires that the parents themselves have a good Christian formation and can, if necessary, take an active part in catechesis!
7. The work of growth and renewal that you want to undertake with the whole Church calls for the genuine formation of lay people, for this is often the occasion for a profound reawakening of their spiritual life and of their sense of ecclesial responsibility. This formation is particularly important for your minority communities, so that they can live the dialogue of life with all the members of the nation, without anxiety or the temptation to withdraw into themselves. It is important that the faithful receive good formation, not only in order to know Christian doctrine, but also to bear witness to a living spirituality and faith through their prayer life, their commitments and their sharing in the reflection on society's problems.
8. Your quinquennial reports often stress the difficulties regarding marriage in a society where the Christian ideal of fidelity and indissolubility is poorly grasped. It is the task of pastors to support Christian families in their daily life, for they "bear a very valuable witness to Christ before the world when they remain faithful to the Gospel and hold up the example of Christian marriage throughout their lives" (Apostolicam actuositatem, AA 11). Meetings between couples, like those in the past, are valuable occasions of mutual support for their conjugal and family life. Families can thus be places of human, moral and spiritual education for young people.
9. You told me of the good relations that exist between Christian brothers and sisters of different confessions, and I am pleased with this. Do not be afraid to be resolutely involved in the ecumenical task: it is by deepening our mutual knowledge and by learning to work together, whenever possible, that unity makes progress, although there is necessarily a long way to go. All the signs already given during the Jubilee Year are an encouragement for new progress in the common journey towards full unity. In the year 2001 we will be able to celebrate Easter on the same day.
May this be a call, as I wrote recently, "for a full return to that exchange of gifts which enriched the Church of the first millennium. May the memory of the time when the Church breathed with "both lungs' spur Christians of East and West to walk together in unity of faith and with respect for legitimate diversity, accepting and sustaining each other as members of the one Body of Christ!" (Novo millennio ineunte, NM 48).
10. You come into daily contact with Islam through the country's culture and through personal meetings. Because of this specific situation, you have acquired a tradition and an experience of interreligious dialogue, and you are aware of its demands. Continue your efforts to create and encourage opportunities for dialogue, in daily life first of all, and in the different areas of human interaction which it offers: school, which brings together children and young people of all beliefs, the engagements of professional and social life, the service of solidarity and mutual aid. It is here that believers can become better acquainted with one another and develop mutual esteem in their common efforts for justice and peace, thus sowing the seeds of a truly fraternal society that is respectful of personal convictions. But this also goes hand in hand with more institutional dialogues, which already exist. I note with interest the fruitful relations which have been established between the State University of Ankara and the Pontifical Gregorian University, and the cooperation prompted by the preparation for the celebrations in honour of Pope John XXIII.
As Turkey prepares to establish new relations with Europe, the vocation of the country's Catholic community seems even clearer. Bearing witness to the Good News of Jesus our Saviour enables individuals and cultures to meet and shows that new bridges can be built, despite the hostilities of the past and the disagreements or misunderstandings which could arise. This desire for acceptance and reconciliation is called dialogue (cf. Gaudium et spes, GS 92). Today more than ever it takes the form of a dialogue between cultures, which is required of all nations. The various religions can and must make a decisive contribution in this regard. Reciprocal openness between the followers of different religions can greatly serve the cause of peace and the common good of humanity (cf. Message for the World Day of Peace, 8 December 2000, n. 16).
11. Your mission requires many apostolic resources in terms of people and material goods; I know the poverty of your Dioceses and the lack of priests which affects you all. In this situation, I would first like to invite you to find strength of soul and encouragement in meditation on the Letters of St Paul, who experienced difficulties very similar to yours and who traveled your roads many times to support the communities he visited. May you also draw new energy from the appeal I made to the whole Church at the end of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, which represents, as it were, a programme for the years to come. We must first of all commit ourselves with greater confidence in pastoral work that gives personal and community prayer its proper place. This means "observing an essential principle of the Christian view of life: the primacy of grace. There is a temptation which perennially besets every spiritual journey and pastoral work: that of thinking that the results depend on our ability to act and to plan.... We then share the experience of the disciples in the Gospel story of the miraculous catch of fish: "We have toiled all night and caught nothing' (Lc 5,5). This is the moment of faith, of prayer, of conversation with God, in order to open our hearts to the tide of grace and allow the word of Christ to pass through us in all its power: Duc in altum! On that occasion, it was Peter who spoke the word of faith: "At your word I will let down the nets' (ibid.)" (Novo millennio ineunte NM 38).
Dear Brothers in the episcopate and the priesthood, may I tell you once again of all my confidence, using the Lord's words: Duc in altum! Put out into the deep! Go even further!, to build a living Church, open and confident about her future, in the hope and expectation of the abundant harvest that the Lord will provide.
Express my gratitude and affectionate greeting to your priests and religious, who are so devoted to their apostolic work, and to the lay people of your communities, especially the young. The future of the Church in Turkey greatly depends on their daily witness: may they know how much the Church encourages them and counts on them! I entrust all of them, as well as you and your common work, to the protection of the Virgin Mary, the Blessed Mother of God and our Mother. I cordially give you all my Apostolic Blessing.
Speeches 2001 - Saturday, 17 February 2001