Speeches 1999 - Monday, 29 March 1999
1. I affectionatly welcome you all. Deep bonds join me to the world of young people and I am pleased every time that I can meet them. The audience with the UNIV Congress has now become an annual event. Welcome, dear young people of different nationalities! Our meeting takes place during Holy Week and is illumined by the celebrations that will be held in the next few days, the last days of Lent. The liturgy fosters in us an expectation of the Resurrection and strengthens us in the knowledge that love overcomes evil. Yes, in Christ love has prevailed over hatred; mercy has triumphed over sin. The words: "The Father loves you!", which are the theme of the recent Message to young people, echo in our spirits. This clear certainty confers great breadth on the theme you have chosen for your Congress: "Solidarity and Citizenship".
2. I wish to start with the second of these two terms. In a book by Bl. Josemar ía, which you know well, we find a whole chapter with this very title: "Citizenship". In it we read the following: "This is your duty as a Christian citizen: to contribute to making the love and freedom of Christ pre-eminent in every aspect of modern life - in culture, in the economy, in work and leisure, in family life and life in society" (The Furrow, n. 302). Bl. Josemaría speaks of the love and the freedom of Christ: this is freedom from sin, the struggle that, out of love for Christ and sustained by his grace, Christians fight in themselves against everything that separates them from God and distances them from their brothers and sisters who, like themselves, are equally children of God. Never forget this, for it is here that the decisive battle for society's future is being waged: "The first and most important task is accomplished within man's heart. The way in which he is involved in building his own future depends on the understanding he has of himself and of his own destiny" (Centesimus annus CA 51).
3. Joined with the term "citizenship", we find that of "solidarity". How can I not invite you to reflect on the immense human potential of peace, harmony and brotherhood which a consistent Christian life, longing for personal encounter with Christ in prayer and in the commitment to fraternal charity, can contribute to the transformation of the world? Examined more closely, Christian solidarity proves to be more than a virtue in itself, but a spiritual attitude in which different virtues converge, particularly justice and charity. Justice can reduce differences, eliminate discrimination, assure the conditions for the respect of personal dignity. Justice, however, requires a soul. And the soul of justice is charity, charity which becomes service of the whole man. Today, being Christian means to grow in the awareness of "being at the service of a redemption which reaches all the dimensions of human existence" (Santità e mondo, Atti del Convegno teologico di studio sugli insegnamenti del Beato Josemaría Escrivá, Rome 1994, p. 10). The first and fundamental contribution which each believer is called to offer the new evangelization is faithfully to incarnate the Gospel in his own life: to be saints. In fact, those who seek personal holiness without reserve effectively help to spread goodness in the world.
This is a concrete way, within everyone's reach, to be apostles of the Gospel and artisans of a new humanity. In this respect, you have a teacher who guides you on this path: he is Bl. Josemaría, whose message contains one of the most significant charismatic impulses offered by the Holy Spirit to this awareness of service which the Church and all the faithful are called to render for the sake of the whole person and of all people.
4. Dear young people, this is the last UNIV Congress before the Great Jubilee. Treasure this occasion and all the opportunities this meeting offers you. Respond generously to the Lord's call: the Christian vocation, as you know so well, goes beyond the personal intimacy of your soul; it expands the spirit to the boundless dimensions of love. The gift of self to God, the summit of a conversion process from selfishness to love, will make you sharers in Christ's saving mission. It is in this complete solidarity with Christ that the children of God can fully discover the root of human brotherhood.
May Mary, Mother of God and our Mother, help you resolutely to direct your life to God and to your brothers and sisters, and enable you to foster the one ideal truly worthy of a child of God: to serve your brethren, like Jesus and with Jesus, who said of himself: "The Son of man came not to be served but to serve" (Mt 20,28).
As I wish you and your loved ones a holy Easter, I assure you of a remembrance in my prayer and cordially bless you all.
1. "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum"; "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". These are the words, this is the last cry of Christ on the Cross. It is these words that close the mystery of the Passion and open up the mystery of liberation through death which will be fulfilled in the Resurrection. They are important words. The Church, aware of their importance, has incorporated them into the Liturgy of the Hours and every day ends it with these words: "Into your hands, Lord, I commend my spirit".
Today we would like to put these words on humanity's lips at the end of the second millennium, and the end of the 20th century. Millenniums do not speak, centuries do not speak, but man speaks, thousands, millions of people speak, who have filled this space which is called the 20th century, this space which is called the second millennium. Today we want to put Christ's words on the lips of all these people who have been citizens of our 20th century, our second millennium, because these words, this cry of the suffering Christ, his last words, do not only close: they open. They signify openness to the future.
"Father, into your hands I commit my spirit". These words are an opening. We hope that at the end of this Good Friday, and Easter Vigil of 1999, the words - "In manus tuas, Domine, commendo spiritum meum", "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit" - will be the last words for each of us, those which will open eternity to us.
2. "Christus factus est pro nobis oboediens usque ad mortem, mortem autem crucis"; "Christ became for us obedient unto death, even death on a cross" (Antiphon from the Breviary; cf. Phil Ph 2,8). With these words, the liturgy of Good Friday summarizes what was accomplished on Golgotha 2,000 years ago. The Evangelist John, who was an eyewitness, recounts the sorrowful events of Christ's Passion. He tells of his cruel agony, his last words: "All is accomplished!" (Jn 19,30), and the piercing of his side with a spear by a Roman soldier. From the wounded side of the Redeemer there came forth blood and water, certain proof that he was dead (cf. Jn Jn 19,34), and the supreme gift of his merciful love.
3. Keeping John's testimony in mind, what the prophet Isaiah says in the Song of the Suffering Servant becomes even more remarkable. He writes some centuries before Christ and his words seem in perfect harmony with those of the fourth Evangelist. They constitute a true "Gospel of the Cross": "Despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows.... / Pierced through for our faults, crushed for our sins.... / We had all gone astray like sheep, each taking his own way; and the Lord burdened him with the sins of us all.... / Yes, he was torn away from the land of the living, for our faults struck down in death. / They gave him a grave with the wicked.... / His soul's anguish over, he shall see the light and be content; / by his sufferings shall my servant justify many, taking their faults on himself" (53:3, 5, 6, 8-9, 11).
These considerations, so rich in detail, are all the more surprising because they are the words of one who could not see with his own eyes the drama of Calvary, having lived long before. They are words which foreshadow the theology of the sacrifice of Christ's Cross. In a wonderful synthesis, they contain the entire mysterium passionis et resurrectionis, which go to make the great mysterium paschale.
4. The prophetic words of the Book of Isaiah resound in our hearts this evening, at the end of the Way of the Cross, here at the Colosseum, eloquent reminder of the suffering and martyrdom of many believers who paid with their blood for their faithfulness to the Gospel. They are words which echo the Passion of Jesus "in agony until the end of the world" (Paschal, Pensées, Le mystère de Jésus, 553).
Christ is "despised and rejected" in those reviled and killed in the war in Kosovo and wherever the culture of death triumphs; the Messiah is "crushed for our sins" in the victims of hatred and evil in every time and place. Peoples divided and struck by incomprehension and indifference seem at times to have "gone astray like sheep".
Yet on the horizon of this scene of suffering and death, hope shines for humanity: "his soul's anguish over, he shall see the light and be content; / ... my servant shall justify many". In the night of sorrow and depression, the Cross is a torch which keeps alive the expectation of the new day of the resurrection. We look to the Cross of Christ with faith this evening, and through the Cross we want to proclaim to the world the Father's merciful love for every human being.
5. Yes, this is the day of mercy and love; the day on which the redemption of the world is accomplished, because sin and death have been defeated by the saving death of the Redeemer.
O crucified heavenly King, may the mystery of your glorious death triumph in the world.
Grant that we never lose the courage and boldness of hope in the face of the tragedies afflicting humanity and in the face of every situation of injustice that humiliates the human being, the creature redeemed by your precious blood.
Grant indeed that we may proclaim this evening with even greater force: Your Cross is victory and salvation, "quia per sanctum crucem tuam redemisti mundum", because by your blood and your Passion you have redeemed the world!
To the Most Reverend René Séjourné
Bishop of Saint-Flour
1. One thousand years ago on 2 April, Gerbert became Pope, taking the name of Sylvester II. In commemoration of this event, I would like to join in thought and prayer with everyone who will be celebrating it in the Diocese of Saint-Flour, especially the participants in the Study Days organized by the Cantal Association. It was the Benedictine monastery founded by St Gerald in Aurillac which accepted the young shepherd, Gerbert, and formed him as a man and a Christian.
2. The monk Gerbert, a remarkable man, dominated his century in an exceptional way. The breadth of his knowledge, his teaching ability, his incomparable erudition, his moral rectitude and his spiritual sense made him a true teacher. Emperors and Popes had recourse to him. Gerbert, a learned humanist and wise philosopher, a true promoter of culture, put his intelligence at the service of the human person. Constantly seeking the truth, he formed his mind and heart by reading secular literature and by meditating on Scripture. Everything interested him; what he did not know, he learned; what he knew, he passed on to others.
With his spirit of openness and great generosity, Gerbert put his knowledge and his moral and spiritual qualities at the service of the human person and the Church. He reminds us that intelligence is a marvellous gift from the Creator, so that man can become more and more responsible each day for the talents he has received and serve others, thereby fulfilling his true vocation.
3. An active and faithful churchman, Gerbert was devoted to serving his brethren. As a true pastor, he defended the Church's interests, fought against simony and protected monasteries against various encroachments. A man of unity and peace, he knew how to reprimand in a fatherly way those who wandered from the right path; he denounced abuses and forgave, to the point of stepping aside to avoid risking divisions. With apostolic zeal, he encouraged the establishment of the Church in Hungary and Poland. Gerbert was a reformer in his own way, and his awareness of his ministry made him a Pope with a missionary spirit, keen to proclaim the Gospel in word and with his whole life. On the threshold of the third millennium, as wars and violence continue and Christians are still divided, Gerbert's example invites us to be tireless seekers of peace and unity through dialogue, concerned for truth and forgiveness. In this regard, as I have already said in the Apostolic Letter Tertio millennio adveniente, the Jubilee must be "a promising opportunity for fruitful cooperation in the many areas which unite us; these are unquestionably more numerous than those which divide us" (n. 16).
4. Gerbert constantly demonstrated his penchant for seeking the truth and his desire to serve it. He showed that man is invited to follow the path which "begins with reason's capacity to rise beyond what is contingent and set out towards the infinite" (Encyclical Fides et ratio FR 24). For Gerbert, as for every believer, truth is revealed in Christ, the eternal Word in whom all things were created, and the incarnate Word who reveals the Father (cf. ibid., n. 34). And this Word in whom we believe enlightens our knowledge of the human person and history, and enables us to discover the salvation and happiness to which we are called.
Today's questions certainly differ from those Gerbert encountered, but his intellectual and spiritual attitude is a call to the Pastors and the faithful of the present age: go in search of the truth; find inner strength in prayer; be concerned for the moral search and serve mankind. May Christians have the same desire as he did: not only to appear in the sight of men to be examples and models, but to be so, thus showing that Christ is the source of happiness!
5. The Church is preparing to celebrate the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, recalling that Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, leads us to the merciful Father. We cannot forget that the first change of millennium brought many hopes. I would like to stress that Sylvester II joined forces with Emperor Otto III to administer Christendom, just as Pope Sylvester I had worked with Emperor Constantine. We must therefore remember that the concern for unity and harmony between peoples was part of Gerbert's thought and must always inspire the Church's action and that of society's leaders. Peace is a common task, and the Church wants to make her contribution, because it is a service to man and therefore to God. While our world, subjected to ever more numerous changes, longs for profound peace, Gerbert leaves us a message which Bishop Paul Lecoeur of Saint-Flour, your distant predecessor, summed up in his pastoral letter for the millennium of Pope Sylvester II's birth: "To bring peace, to gather together and to make one in Christ". This peace must be achieved in the most diverse spheres, because man's field of activity varies. This will be possible if human beings refer to the Gospel and to basic human and moral values, with respect for every person.
6. Thus Gerbert's pastoral activity, and not only that of his relatively short pontificate, is impressive for its variety and its timeliness. We can appreciate what he did in his service to Church affairs, his renewal efforts, his concern for communion, his sense of dialogue. These are all aspects which the Second Vatican Council stressed in view of the new evangelization. May the example of Gerbert, the first French Pope, enlighten us all in our service to the Church and to our brothers and sisters, for the glory of God and the salvation of the world!
As I entrust you to the intercession of the Mother of God and of St Flour, the first evangelizer and patron of your Diocese, I cordially grant my Apostolic Blessing to all your diocesans and to those who will take part in this commemoration.
From the Vatican, 7 April 1999.
Once more I am pleased to welcome the members of The Papal Foundation and to express my gratitude for the support which the Foundation has given again this year to the Successor of Peter in his apostolic ministry of "concern for all the Churches" (cf. 2Co 11,28).
Our meeting is taking place at the beginning of the Easter season, when the whole Church returns in a sense to her origins: to the empty tomb and to the Upper Room in Jerusalem where the risen Jesus appeared to the Apostles and promised them the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. During this holy season the Church also recalls the mission which Christ entrusted to Peter and the other Apostles, charging them to proclaim the Gospel and to bear witness to him, even to the ends of the earth (cf. Acts Ac 1,7). This great mission is carried forward in every age by the Successors of the Apostles, with Peter at their head. It is my hope and prayer that today's visit to Peter's Successor will renew in each of you a sense of joyful communion with the Lord of Life and an even firmer resolve to cooperate in the universal mission of his Church.
In the years since its establishment, The Papal Foundation has demonstrated a particular concern for the needs of the Church in developing countries. I deeply appreciate this commitment of effective solidarity with our brothers and sisters throughout the world who look in hope to the Church's witness to the Gospel and her efforts to promote justice, reconciliation and fraternal cooperation among the members of the human family. As we await the time of grace which is the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, I invite you to continue to work and pray that the Church will become ever more fully, in the lives of her members, the sign and instrument of the unity of the entire human family and its saving union with God (cf. Lumen gentium LG 1).
With great affection I commend you and your families to the loving intercession of Mary, Mother of the Church. To all associated with the work of The Papal Foundation I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing as a pledge of joy and peace in our Lord Jesus Christ.
From the Vatican, 12 April 1999.
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the Diocese of Vigevano,
1. My most cordial greetings to each of you. I affectionately greet your zealous Pastor, Bishop Giovanni Locatelli, whom I thank for his warm words expressing your common sentiments. I greet the priests who have accompanied you, the women religious, the members of the Synod Assembly and the pastoral workers who represent the whole Church in Vigevano.
At the end of the Diocesan Synod, an extraordinarily important event which has involved the whole Diocese for the past three years, you have wished to make a pilgrimage to Rome to the tombs of the Apostles. You have wished to meet the Pope and hear his words encouraging and strengthening you in your faith and apostolic commitment.
Thank you for this visit! I welcome you with joy and congratulate you on your zeal. I fervently hope that the Synod's work will renew the missionary enthusiasm of the entire diocesan community. In a particular way, the Synodal Constitutions must serve as a compass, showing every believer the path to follow in this time rich in social and religious challenges.
2. "Put out into the deep and let down your nets" (Lc 5,4).
How many times have you heard and meditated on these words throughout the Synod process! Today too I repeat them to you.
Church in Vigevano, put out into the deep; do not be afraid to venture onto the high seas! Be not afraid of the great challenges of the present time! Advance with confidence on the path of the new evangelization, in loving service to the poor and in bearing courageous witness in the various areas of society. Know that you bring a message which is for every person and for all mankind; be builders of real brotherhood and universal solidarity.
This invitation is first addressed to you, dear priests, who have been configured to Christ, the "Head and Shepherd", by the sacrament of Holy Orders and appointed to lead his people. Grateful for the immense gift you have received, you generously carry out your task, seeking support in intense prayer and in ongoing theological and pastoral renewal.
This invitation is also extended to you, women religious, who are a treasured spiritual resource for the Christian people, and to all of you, dear lay faithful, who have come in such large numbers. Everywhere may you know how "to account for the hope that is in you" (cf. 1P 3,15).
3. During the Synod you devoted special attention to young people and the family. Continue to support families and to help them, so that they can be authentic communities of life and love. With ceaseless care, spare no energy in the Christian formation of children, adolescents and young people. They need sound guideposts: be examples of human and Christian fidelity for them. Vocations to the priesthood and the consecrated life are born and develop in a context of faithfulness to the Gospel. Thanks be to God that in your Diocese there is a comforting increase in vocations and all the seminarians are here with the diaconal community. May the Lord who has called them help them persevere to the end.
During the Synod you were also rightly concerned to bring the living proclamation of the Gospel to those who are "far away", not fearing to meet the challenges of postmodern culture. Continue in this effort, using every tool you can. And in this regard, how can you not remember that this year you are celebrating another happy event: the centenary of the Catholic weekly L'Araldo Lomellino? This praiseworthy periodical should not only be supported but appropriately enhanced. Along with it, make it your concern to utilize every modern means of social communication for the service of evangelization.
4. Dear brothers and sisters, the Bishop just mentioned that your cathedral has recently been restored to its original splendour. It is the heart and image of the Christian community. May you be the "living stones" of the spiritual edifice which is the Church in Vigevano. Walk in unity towards the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000, so that it will be a providential time of conversion and spiritual revival.
May Blessed Mary, whom you venerate with the title Madonna della Bozzola, watch over your family as a caring Mother. May the patron saints of the Diocese, Ambrose and Charles, protect you. And may my Blessing, which I cordially extend to your whole diocesan community, be a comfort and encouragement to you.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
1. I am pleased to welcome again all of you who came for the canonization of Marcellin Champagnat, Giovanni Calabria and Agostina Livia Pietrantoni. Today's meeting offers us the happy occasion to extend yesterday's celebration in the atmosphere of Easter joy which marks this liturgical season.
We give thanks to the Father in heaven, the origin and source of all holiness, for giving these beloved children to the Church and to the world. God has accomplished great things in them, fashioning in them the wonderful image of his Only-begotten Son by the gentle strength of the Holy Spirit. As we see the Year 2000 emerging on the horizon, how can we not think of the multitude of blesseds and saints whom divine grace has brought forth and made fruitful in these two millenniums? In the lives of the saints the kingdom of heaven is already made present and active in this world.
2. Dear pilgrims who have come to celebrate the canonization of Marcellin Champagnat, I am pleased to welcome you. Your presence shows your attention to this saint's ever timely charism, which has attracted so many vocations. I greet Bishop Pierre Joatton of Saint- Étienne and the civil authorities from the department of the Loire, where St Marcellin lived. In a special way I greet the Marist Brothers, the institute he founded, as well as the members of the other institutes of the Marist family. Dear young people who have come particularly from Spain, Mexico and France to express your devotion to the spirit of the education given by Fr Champagnat, I encourage you to remain faithful to the path to God that he taught you.
I also greet the teachers who share in the mission of the Marist Brothers and have come to express their admiration for Marcellin Champagnat, apostle of youth, and their desire to continue the same educational service, with respect for the young and their development. Lastly, I greet the members of the Marist lay branches, who wish to live according to St Marcellin's spirit in all their commitments. Following Mary's example, may you all follow Christ and be concerned to make him known!
We can give thanks for the numerous disciples of Fr Champagnat who faithfully fulfilled their mission even to the witness of martyrdom. We especially remember the 11 brothers, witnesses of truth and charity, who died tragically over the past five years in Algeria, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Hidden witnesses of hope, they join the very long martyrology of Marist Brothers, which began at the outset of their foundation with Bro. Jacinto. We also recall St Peter Chanel, a Marist Father and Oceania's first martyr.
I cordially grant my Apostolic Blessing to all the faithful here and to all the Marist Brothers of the world, to those who work with them in the educational field and to all the young people who benefit from their apostolate.
3. In the year in which the Church, on her way to the Great Jubilee, fixes her gaze on the infinite tenderness of God the Father, we see in St Giovanni Calabria, a priest of Verona and founder of the Poor Servants and Poor Sister Servants of Divine Providence, a wonderful reflection of the divine fatherhood. From the very start he thought of the mission entrusted to him by the Lord in this way: he felt called to "show the world that divine Providence exists, that God is not a stranger but a Father who thinks of us, provided that we think of him and do our part, which is to seek first God's holy kingdom and his righteousness" (Letter to his religious, III, 19 March 1933). The heart of all his intense apostolic and charitable activity was the discovery, through the Gospel, of the love of the heavenly Father and of Christ for man.
Gospel love was the virtue which most characterized his life. A Jewish woman doctor, whom he hid among his Sisters to save her from the Nazi-Fascists, testified that every moment of his life seemed to personify the Apostle Paul's hymn to love. I firmly hope that his spiritual sons and daughters, whom I warmly greet here, will continue and extend that irrepressible love which overflowed from the heart of this holy priest, won by Christ and his Gospel.
4. Today the Church rejoices with the entire religious family of the Sisters of Charity of St Joan Antida Thouret for the gift of St Agostina Livia Pietrantoni. A few days after the celebration marking the second centenary of the institute's foundation, let us praise the Lord for the wonders he worked in the life of this faithful disciple of St Joan Antida. At the same time, we would also like to thank him for the abundant good fruits produced during these two centuries of the congregation's life through the humble and generous work of so many Sisters of Charity.
Growing up in a family accustomed to hard work and deeply rooted in the faith, the new saint embraced the Vincentian ideal of charity, humility and simplicity expressed in respect for others, in warmth and in the sense of duty "done well". During her years of service to the tuberculosis patients in Santo Spirito Hospital, Sr Agostina met people who were suffering and begged that their physical and spiritual integrity be recognized. In an age marked by the winds of secularization, Agostina Livia Pietrantoni witnessed to spiritual values. She said of her sick, who were incurable at the time and often irritable and difficult to deal with: "In them I serve Jesus Christ ... I feel inflamed with love for them all, ready to make any sacrifice, even to shed my blood for love". The supreme sacrifice of blood would be the final seal of her life, wholly spent in undivided love for God and her brothers and sisters.
May her example inflame the sisters of St Antida's congregation and spur them to bear ardent witness to that love which sums up the divine law and is the bond of all perfection (cf. Col 3,14).
5. Dear brothers and sisters, let us look to these new saints and learn from them the secret of holiness. Let us reflect on their charisms, assimilate the spirit they have bequeathed to us and imitate their example. Then the peace of Christ will reign in our hearts! May the Mother of the Redeemer, the Queen of All Saints, obtain this for each of us.
With these sentiments, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you and to your loved ones.
To the Most Reverend Jean Bonfils
Bishop of Nice
As the Diocese of Nice celebrates the third centenary of the consecration of the Cathedral Basilica of St Mary and St Reparata, which took place on 2 May 1699, I join wholeheartedly in the joy and thanksgiving of the Christian community that is gathering in this place, so significant for the diocesan Church and a sign of her unity round her Bishop. The cathedral of Nice is now dedicated to the Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church, and to St Reparata, whom the Roman Martyrology describes as a virgin, a native of Caesarea in Palestine and a martyr who refused to offer sacrifice to idols.
By a solemn liturgical act, the consecration made the cathedral the centre of your Diocese, since the cathedral reflects its life, just as a house reflects the life of the family that lives there. In this place, open to all, each person meets Christ, who calls his disciples together to nourish them with his Word and his Body. A continual reference-point for all the members of the Diocese, it is meant to unite the faithful in a "Church-assembly" and "Church-community". The cathedral should be seen as the centre of the Diocese's liturgical life: "In the majesty of its building it is a symbol of the spiritual temple that is built up in souls and is resplendent with the glory of divine grace. As the Apostle Paul says: 'We are the temple of the living God' (2Co 6,16)" (Apostolic Constitution Mirificus eventus, 7 December 1965).
The cathedral not only symbolizes a part of the Church, but also the whole Church. In fact, the Church of Christ is present in each local Church, and Christ's presence dwells within her. Does not the Prayer of Dedication recall that "here is reflected the mystery of the Church. The Church is fruitful, made holy by the blood of Christ: a bride made radiant with his glory, a virgin splendid in the wholeness of her faith, a mother blessed through the power of the Spirit"? In this way all the faithful are invited to acquire a deeper knowledge of the Church's mystery. In particular, they will remember that the cathedral is the church where the Bishop's chair is placed, the cathedra that is "the sign of his teaching office and pastoral power in the particular Church, and ... of the unity of believers in the faith that the Bishop proclaims as shepherd of the Lord's flock" (Ceremonial of Bishops, n. 42). Since the early centuries, there has been a succession of "transmitters of the apostolic line" (Lumen gentium LG 20) on the cathedra of Nice. The ordained ministers and the faithful are called to gather round the Bishop's chair, for "where the Bishop is, there is the Church" (Letter to the Smyrnaeans, 8, 2).
I hope that the Catholics of your Diocese can come in large numbers to this cathedral, especially during the Great Jubilee, to strengthen their faith, to have a deeper sense of belonging to the Church, to repent and to become missionaries of the new evangelization (cf. Bull of Indiction of the Great Jubilee of the Year 2000 Incarnationis mysterium, n. 6). They will earnestly reinforce the bonds of ecclesial communion by coming on Sundays to celebrate the memorial of the Lord's Death and Resurrection. In entering this dwelling-place of God, whose décor draws one's gaze to heaven and sings the mystery of Revelation in Jesus Christ, they will come here to hear his constant call to know and follow him, as the psalm says: "We have thought on your steadfast love, O God, in the midst of your temple" (Ps 48,9). In the perspective of the Jubilee, they will also come to draw strength from forgiveness, in order to find the peace which comes from the risen Lord.
As I pray to the Virgin Mary and St Reparata that this anniversary may strengthen your diocesans' faith in God, their love of the Church, their bonds of communion and their missionary fervour, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, to those who will attend the celebration of the dedication and to all the faithful who celebrate the Holy Mysteries in this place or come to pray here.
From the Vatican, 20 April 1999.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Speeches 1999 - Monday, 29 March 1999