Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 4 March 2000


Saturday, 4 March 2000

1. I joyfully greet the members of the pilgrimage from Cremona. Dear brothers and sisters, you have come to celebrate the Jubilee in Rome.

I am particularly pleased to welcome you and to express my pleasure at this visit, which is a significant moment in the Jubilee journey you are making as modern "romei" to the places where the Apostles Peter and Paul were martyred.

I extend a fraternal greeting to your Pastor, Bishop Giulio Nicolini. I also greet the priests, the deacons, the consecrated persons, the men and women religious, the members of secular institutes, the seminarians and all the lay faithful, with a special thought for everyone involved in pastoral organizations and the tasks of the new evangelization. Lastly, I respectfully and cordially greet the Mayor of Cremona and all the authorities who have wished to be present at this meeting.

2. Your presence reminds me of my visit in November four years ago when your Bishop presented me with the Book of the Synod as a sign of obedience and fidelity to the Successor of Peter. It was the concluding act, sealing as it were the synodal journey and introducing, so to speak, the "Year of St Homobonus" which you celebrated during the eighth centenary of the death and canonization of your patron saint, whose memory the Diocese and the city of Cremona have faithfully and devoutly preserved.

The extraordinary figure of Homobonus, a cloth merchant, husband and father of a family, who was converted to the mystery of the Cross and became the "father of the poor", an artisan of reconciliation and peace, acquires exemplary value as a call to conversion. His example highlights the fact that holiness is not a vocation reserved for a few, but is meant for everyone.
Along with your illustrious patron there are three priests from your region who have reached the honour of the altars in the last 50 years. Vincenzo Grossi, beatified by Paul VI in the Holy Year 1975, the Camillian Enrico Rebuschini and Francesco Spinelli, whom I beatified. Always keep these exemplary figures before you, and may they spur and encourage everyone to follow the Gospel faithfully.

3. Dear brothers and sisters, you have come to Rome to cross the threshold of the Holy Door. This is a beautiful experience which, here at the heart of the Catholic world, over the tomb of the Apostle Peter and on the ground bathed with the blood of the first Roman martyrs, must be lived in depth. Jesus' statement: "I am with you always" is the support of the Christian, who becomes a repentant pilgrim in order to be strengthened in faith, hope and charity. This is what I hope for each of you, for your loved ones and for the whole diocesan community, with the special wish that the "House of Hope" that is being built on new foundations to accommodate those terminally ill with AIDS will fulfil the idea that inspired it: may it be a witness of charity from which tomorrow's generation can deeply draw.

Dear pilgrims of Cremona, I know that your four Jubilee churches, beginning with your magnificent cathedral, are all dedicated to Mary. This gladdens my heart. To her, "woman of silence, given to listening" (Incarnationis mysterium, n. 14), I entrust the needs of the Church of Cremona at the beginning of a new century and new millennium.

With my affectionate blessing.


Saturday, 4 March 2000

Dear Friends,

1. I am always delighted to return to the Roman Seminary, built in the shadow of the cathedral of Rome. I come with deeper emotion during this Jubilee Year which brings us into the third millennium. I greet you all, the Rector, teachers, seminarians, young people and friends. Thank you for your cordial welcome! I extend a special greeting to the Cardinal Vicar and to the Episcopal Board, the parish priests and the diocesan and parish co-workers, who collaborate with the seminary in a generous effort to give new life to the pastoral care of vocations.

2. Together we have contemplated the beginning of salvation history in the joyful mysteries of the Rosary. Mary, St Bernard reminds us, "believes, trusts and accepts" (Homily, IV, 8). Through her example and intercession, we too learn to believe, to trust and to receive the abundant gifts of grace which the Lord wants to lavish upon us. In the history of individuals and peoples, it is Mary who discloses God's pedagogy to our communities and to the whole Church. She makes us responsive to faith, trust, and humble acceptance.

Dear seminarians, love Mary, our heavenly Mother, during the years of your formation and those of your generous and holy ministry, so that one day you may honour her in heaven. Taking part in today's celebration of Our Lady of Trust are all the friends of the seminary and especially the young people who are walking with you and who look to you, because they too want to know the secret of your life. May your example help many young people overcome the thousand fears of life and to open themselves to trust and commitment. Today, in a certain way, is a celebration for the entire diocesan community, particularly for those parishes and pastoral situations where you work and where your "yes" to the Lord is tested and strengthened.

3. In the Holy Rosary we have seen Mary listening to God and opening herself to conversation with him. In her interior attitude we see our model of prayer. She teaches us that to pray we must enter our own room and, after closing the door, speak to the Father in secret. Mary knows well that only the Father's eyes see in secret and cross the threshold of every human heart (cf. Mt Mt 6,5-6). She knows well that only an intimate encounter with the heavenly Father communicates that fire of love which spurs us to come out of our room and follow Christ's call. Mary is a model of wisdom and faith. In waiting, she does not take her eyes off the Bridegroom who comes; indeed, she wisely provides oil for the lamp of faith in the night of fear, in order to cross the threshold of nuptial joy (cf. Mt Mt 25,1-13).

Dear young seminarians, learn from Our Lady of Trust how to become trusting and vigilant servants of the Gospel as you await the Lord's coming in glory. May Mary teach you to grow in your vocation and to form the heart of her Son within you. May her example prompt you to transform your lives into generosity to the poor (cf. 1Jn 3,17) and into availability to the guests who arrive at inconvenient times (cf. Lk Lc 11,5-8). Accompanied by her, you too will experience the joyful confidence of the Apostles who, in obeying God rather than men, discovered how the Word of God overcomes the locked doors of every prison (cf. Acts Ac 5,17-25) or any form of discrimination.

4. Salve radix, salve porta, ex qua mundo lux est orta!

Dear friends, throughout the Holy Year let us continue to entrust our future commitments to Mary. May Our Lady of Trust guide the seminary and accompany the diocesan community to experience the Living One, who vanquishes fear and gives peace (cf. Jn Jn 20,19). May she help you to imitate the Good Samaritan, who pours oil and wine over the wounds of those who live in Rome or who come to Rome from every part of the world (cf. Lk Lc 10,29-36). May Mary teach gladness of spirit to every young man who crosses the threshold of the seminary.

May the olive tree which I have just blessed in the portico be for the seminary the sign of service to vocations. Jesus Christ is the centre of every vocation. He is the Teacher in whose shadow you will pause to listen: he is the suffering Servant who takes you with him into Gethsemane when men abandon you. Jesus is the root and the tree on which we are grafted like olive branches made fruitful by the Cross. From the Lord we receive our vocation, like oil scented with new life. May the Father, who anointed his Son Jesus with the oil of gladness (cf. Heb He 1,5-14), make the heads of each of you shine with the oil of holiness. Have a good Holy Year!

May the Lord grant many vocations, like olive shoots around the table! I bless you all with great affection.

The Holy Father then spoke extemporaneously to the seminary community:

I would like to thank you all for your hospitality. Visiting the Roman Seminary in the Jubilee Year, I again thought of the one I left so many years ago: the seminary in Kraków.

I thought: in Kraków I could talk to every seminarian; in Rome, I can only extend my hand to each seminarian. But thanks be to God for the Cardinal Vicar of the Diocese of Rome! To him I leave the pleasure of conversing with you. The Cardinal tells me that he has many conversations with you. This is great!

The Holy Year has begun very well. It has exceeded expectations. This is what we have seen in the first days, the first weeks, the first two months.

I also hope that you, seminarians of Rome's Major Seminary, can make the most of this year of grace, and with faith pass through the Holy Door of St Peter's, which leads us symbolically to salvation. So, have a good Jubilee Year, a good Holy Year, a good year 2000, a good academic year and a good year at the seminary!



Monday, 6 March 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. It is a joy for me to greet you this morning, the day after the solemn beatification of a large group of witnesses to the faith. You come from different countries, especially from Brazil, Belarus, the Philippines, Thailand and Viêt Nam. My most cordial greetings to you all.

The new blesseds - priests, sisters and lay people - are all martyrs. I would like to stress the special eloquence of this fact: the first beatification of the Holy Year 2000 is characterized by martyrdom, that is, the total gift of self to Christ and the Gospel. These martyrs made their lives a generous response to God's gift and are eloquent models of Christian witness for us all.

2. I most cordially greet Cardinal Paul Joseph Pham Ðình Tung, Archbishop of Hà Nôi, the Vietnamese Bishops and pilgrims and their friends who have come for the beatification of Andrew of Phú Yên. Fr Alexander de Rhodes discerned great intelligence and an intense spiritual life in this young boy. In order to help the priests to proclaim the Gospel, he first welcomed him among his closest co-workers and later as a member of the Maison Dieu association of catechists. From that moment, won over by Christ, Andrew publicly dedicated his life to the service of the Church, generously agreeing to share in the sacrifice of the crucified Lord to the end, assured of following him in his resurrection.

After 350 years Vietnamese Catholics have not forgotten this Gospel witness, their country's protomartyr. They have found in him a model of calm faith and generous love for Christ and his Church. Today may they continue to find in his example the strength to remain faithful to their Christian vocation, in loyalty to the Church and to their country! May Bl. Andrew, whose ardent zeal enabled the Gospel to be proclaimed, implanted and spread, give all catechists the courage to be true witnesses to the faith by a life spent entirely for Christ and for their brothers and sisters!

3. I extend warm greetings to Cardinal Michael Michai Kitbunchu and the Bishops from Thailand, as well as to the priests, religious and faithful who have come to Rome for the beatification of Fr Nicolas Bunkerd Kitbamrung. The Church in Thailand rejoices that one of her sons has been raised to the altars. Bl. Nicolas was completely dedicated to his priestly ministry, which he showed in his love of others, his commitment to teaching the faith, and his courageous witness in times of trial. I pray that through the intercession of Fr Nicolas the Catholic community in your country will always be blessed with priests imbued with that same spirit.

I cordially welcome Cardinal Ricardo Vidal and the Bishops from the Philippines, as well as the many pilgrims who are accompanying you. For a long time the people of the Philippines, especially those of his native Visayas region, have been looking forward to the beatification of Pedro Calungsod. At a young age, Bl. Pedro heard the call of Christ and never wavered in his desire to do God's will, even at the cost of his life. Let us pray that many young people will follow Bl. Pedro's example and give themselves to the Lord in the many forms of lay apostolate or in the priesthood and religious life.

Upon you and your families, I invoke the joy and peace of the risen Saviour!

4. With great satisfaction I now greet Cardinal Eugênio de Araújo Sales and the many Bishops here, together with the Brazilian pilgrims who have come to Rome to take part in the solemn beatification of the martyrs of Natal: the Jesuit André de Soveral, the diocesan priest Ambrósio Francisco Ferro and their communities of 28 lay people who, at the beginning of Brazil's history, gave their lives out of fidelity to their faith.

These martyrs, who were beatified yesterday, came from the communities of Cunhaú and Uruaçu in Rio Grande do Norte. It was there that the seed of martyrdom began to grow and to become a great harvest of ripe fruit through the lengthy work of evangelization and sanctification by the Church in Brazil over the past five centuries of its history. Their blood poured out on the soil of their homeland made it fertile for the birth of new Christians. They are the first fruits of missionary work and are called Brazil's Protomartyrs of the Gospel in those regions, which have been given the name "Land of the Holy Cross".

Let us pray to God that the example of fidelity of these first Christians, especially of those families of martyrs - many of whom had tender-age children - and of the numerous unknown people, will spur us to renew our commitment to a courageous and fruitful evangelization at all levels of society, and that Our Lady of the Apparition, the Mother of God and our Mother, will walk at our side along all of life's paths.

5. I cordially greet the pilgrims from Poland and Belarus.

I extend a particular greeting to the Sisters of the Congregation of the Holy Family of Nazareth, who have come here to thank God for the gift of the beatification of their 11 sisters, the martyrs of Nowogródek.

In commemorating these heroic Nazareth Sisters, Jesus' words come to mind: "There is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends" (cf. Jn Jn 15,13). They perfectly confirmed the truth of these words by their lives filled with devotion and by their death. Before the war and during the occupation, they zealously served the inhabitants of Nowogródek, participating actively in pastoral care and education and engaging in various works of charity. Their love for those among whom they fulfilled their mission took on special significance during the horror of the Nazi invasion.

Together and unanimously they offered their lives to God, asking in exchange that the lives of the mothers and fathers of families and that of the local pastor be spared. The Lord graciously accepted their sacrifice and, we believe, abundantly rewarded them in his glory.

Today, together with the entire Congregation of Nazareth Sisters, let us praise God for this grace, through which the religious charism and human zeal were able to yield such marvellous fruits of martyrdom. May the blood of these blessed sisters be the seed of new religious vocations and a support for many on the ways of holiness.

May the new blesseds, Maria Stella Mardosewicz and her 10 sisters, intercede with God for all the people of Belarus, whom I cordially greet.

From my heart I bless all the pilgrims here. Praised be Jesus Christ!

6. Dear brothers and sisters, let us give thanks to God for the gift of these shining witnesses to the Gospel! Let us praise him with our lives and try, with his grace, to follow the example of these martyrs.

May the Virgin Mary, Queen of Saints and Help of Christians, help us. In returning to your countries and to your homes, take with you the memory of these solemn celebrations which enabled you to experience the joy of belonging to the one holy Church, and bring to your loved ones the Pope's blessing, which he gives you affectionately.




Thursday, 9 March 2000

"Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel".

1. The Lord's invitation, which we heard again yesterday during the rite of giving ashes, opened the season of Lent and marks the journey of God's people to Easter. Conversion and faith in Christ, the one Saviour, are at the heart of the Jubilee pilgrimage which you have made in St Peter's Basilica today, dear priests of the presbyterate of Rome. I affectionately greet the Cardinal Vicar, the Vicegerent, the Auxiliary Bishops and each of you. I am pleased to meet you, as I do every year at the beginning of Lent, for a moment of deep communion between the Bishop of Rome and his priests. Common prayer and friendship foster priestly unity

This year the Jubilee characterizes our meeting and makes it even richer in spiritual and ecclesial themes. The passage through the Holy Door, the profession of faith and especially the sacrament of Reconciliation which you have celebrated show everyone that the priest himself, the minister of God's forgiveness, needs to receive this forgiveness in a spirit of faith, humility and deep trust. As steward of the divine mysteries, he must appear to his faithful first and foremost as one "saved" who continually receives from God and the Church the grace to live in union with Christ, the source of his ministry's effectiveness.

The sacrament of Penance renews that "life in the Spirit" and that Gospel radicalism which must distinguish the life and ministry of the priest. It is also a great help for overcoming any acquiescence in those forms of self-justification characteristic of the mentality and culture of our time, which lead to a loss of the sense of sin and prevent one from experiencing the consoling joy of God's forgiveness.

2. For the priest's spiritual life and apostolic work, a relationship of communion and brotherhood with the Bishop and with other priests is also very important. For the growth of this relationship, each of you must make a generous commitment; the pressure of your pastoral activity must not prevent you from fostering that deep unity with your brothers which is nourished by common prayer, meeting and dialogue, and the fostering of sincere friendship. Participation in continuing formation programmes, spiritual and pastoral help for brothers with particular needs, assistance to sick or elderly priests, willingness to dialogue and meet also with those who have left the priesthood, show a desire to follow the ways of communion and reconciliation with success and dedication. A united and harmonious presbyterate that can work together is a powerful witness to the faithful and increases the effectiveness of your ministry.

3. Reconciliation with the Lord and mutual communion open new possibilities for meeting those who expect from us, pastors of the Church, signs of attention and special pastoral care. Families must be your primary concern. During the city mission they received the message of Christ, the one Saviour, and this year too they expect another visit to continue this positive and beneficial experience. Therefore every parish is called to put great effort, with the valuable help of missionaries, into repeating the Lenten meeting with all families, to make the powerful message of the Jubilee echo in people's hearts: "God loves you and has sent Jesus Christ his Son to save you".

A visit strengthens the sense of belonging to the community for many people who often live on its fringes but who do not refuse, but in fact are waiting for opportunities and concrete signs of listening and dialogue which will help them to overcome loneliness and anonymity and to form a new network of human and spiritual relationships on the basis of a faith which was never completely rejected or forgotten.

We priests, as the first missionaries of the Gospel and following the example of Jesus the Good Shepherd who goes in search of the lost sheep, must dedicate ourselves with special pastoral charity to families in trouble, to those who live far from the Church and have serious problems of faith or morals, to those whose members are suffering from sickness or old age, and those which are going through particularly painful situations because of divisions between spouses or children. The Holy Year, a year of great pardon and of God's mercy, gives everyone the possibility of being heard, accepted and encouraged to find ways of reconciliation with the Lord and with his brethren, even when everything seems lost or irreversible. What seems impossible to man is not impossible for God, when we open ourselves to him with humility and responsiveness to the grace of his forgiveness.

4. It will also be your concern to see that the message of God's mercy and the living experience of his forgiveness reach, through the active efforts of lay Christians, every area of life and work, in order to reaffirm the power of Christ's love, which overcomes divisions and misunderstandings and re-establishes more fraternal and harmonious relationships. No area or situation of life is foreign to the Gospel or to the active evangelizing presence of the priest and of every baptized person. You must also pay special pastoral attention to young people, to whom Christ turns his loving gaze even when they abandon the Christian community that raised them with the faith and the sacraments.

How many adolescents and young people of our city do not know they are loved and sought by the Lord, because no one tells them and no one reaches out to them with sincere friendship and brotherhood where they are found: in places of study or work, sport or free time, in the streets of their neighbourhood!

This task first involves young believers, who are called to be missionaries to their peers and to rediscover, in communities and groups, that the joy of faith in Christ should be communicated and offered to everyone without fear and with apostolic courage. However, we cannot forget that the priest, by vocation, is an evangelizer and spiritual father to the young people entrusted to him by the Lord. They need to find in their priest an available and sincere friend, but also a witness who lives his calling with joy and with spiritual and moral consistency. Then they will be helped, in turn, to discover, and to accept the vocation that gives their whole life meaning and value. The preparation and celebration of the next World Youth Day is a truly providential opportunity to renew youth ministry and to instil new vocational and missionary zeal in parishes, movements and groups.

5. Celebrating the Jubilee means opening our hearts to our poorer brothers and sisters, seeing in them the presence of the suffering Christ who asks to be welcomed with active love. In the Letter I sent to the whole diocesan and urban community, I stressed that the Church of Rome "has, down the centuries, written bright pages of welcome, especially during Jubilees, with concrete and lasting signs of love for neighbour".

Today "Roman charity", which is practised by offering hospitality to poor and needy pilgrims, also spurs the diocesan community, families and every ecclesial reality to be willing to extend hospitality, especially during important events, such as the Jubilees for young people and for families, in which numerous pilgrims from all over the world will participate. Nor can the entire diocesan community fail to care for the many poor who live in our city. Sensitivity and attention to our neediest brothers and sisters will certainly be active if Christian communities know how to receive from the Eucharist, the bread of new life for the world, that special power of love which can also change society, making it more just, peaceful and united.

The sign of charity that will be inaugurated during the International Eucharistic Congress represents the commitment of the diocesan community to bear witness to its encounter with the Lord, in the sacrament of his Body given and his Blood shed, by practical service to the poor.

6. "Turn away from sin and be faithful to the Gospel".

May the invitation of the Ash Wednesday liturgy support and accompany our Lenten journey as we follow Christ, the Door of salvation and our Peace, to make fruitful with his grace the ministry of reconciliation, which in this favourable time and throughout the Holy Year we are called to exercise with special dedication. May Mary most holy, Mother of Mercy, who goes before us on the path of faith and charity, guide the Jubilee pilgrimage of the Church of Rome, of her priests and of her faithful, so that the Lord's gift of reconciliation will be received with a humble, trusting and sincere heart.

Lastly, I would like to add that this morning I celebrated Holy Mass for the intentions of all my brother priests in the Roman presbyterate.


Saturday, 11 March 2000

Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. I am pleased to receive all of you who have come to celebrate your Jubilee at the beginning of this Lenten season. I first extend a cordial greeting to you, the members of Rotary International. You have crossed the threshold of the Holy Door in the Vatican Basilica and have taken part in the Jubilee Eucharist at which Cardinal Paul Poupard presided; he is here with us and I greet him with affection. Welcome, dear brothers and sisters! I offer each of you my embrace of peace.

The celebration of the Jubilee is an excellent occasion for you to meditate on the importance and value of being Christians at the dawn of the third millennium. It would certainly be interesting to ask yourselves what Paul Percy Harris, your founder, would do today and how he would organize the association he founded almost 100 years ago. At the dawn of the 20th century he became aware of the loneliness experienced by people in large cities and sought to remedy it by developing an ever wider network of friendly relations between individuals on the basis of understanding, sympathy and peace among peoples.

You have tried to continue this service, dear Rotarians, in an ever more concerned and attentive way in the almost 100 years of your club's existence. The time we are living in is full of potential and challenge. As we cross the threshold of the third millennium of the Christian era, the Church once again presents the ancient and ever new Gospel message to everyone. You Rotarians, who want to be generous heralds and fearless witnesses of Christ, should also dedicate yourselves to giving hope to people today, to overcoming loneliness, indifference, selfishness and evil.

2. I now greet you, dear faithful who are taking part in the pilgrimage of the Diocese of Pitigliano-Sovana-Orbetello, and especially your Pastor, Bishop Mario Meini, who has led you on this faith journey. Through him, I would like to offer my encouragement and blessing to the priests, religious and faithful of the Diocese.

You come from the native land of my predecessor, Pope St Gregory VII. May his example and teachings spur you to love Christ and his Church with renewed intensity. He lived in a historical period when Christians were shaken by serious internal difficulties and the pernicious influence of the worldly spirit. Faced with the mentality of the time, he strove to the very end, even during his sad exile, so that the "Holy Church, Bride of God, our lady and our mother, would once again be adorned with her original splendour as she was for many centuries, and always be free, chaste and catholic" (PL 148, 709). He preached and bore witness that holiness is the vocation of every member of the ecclesial community.

Times have undoubtedly changed. However, the invitation to all believers to fulfil God's will eagerly and to be steadfast in bearing consistent witness to the faith is still timely.

Dear brothers and sisters, the Holy Year not only offers us a special grace, but also powerful reasons for converting mentalities and lives to a deeper fidelity to Christ and a more intense love for the Church. Returning home, continue in your commitment to Christian witness. Think of yourselves as active members in building the Christian community: "Always be prepared to make a defence to anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence" (1P 3,15). Always have trust: Christ has overcome the world (cf. Jn Jn 16,33)!

3. Next I extend a cordial greeting to the director and members of the Archdiocesan College of Pius XI in Desio. Dear friends, you have wished to make your Jubilee pilgrimage at the beginning of the important season of Lent, in which Christ's call to conversion becomes more insistent.

May the Jubilee pilgrimage be a favourable occasion for you to live deeply this year of great spiritual riches. The Holy Door, through which you have passed, signifies God's unlimited kindness to those who want to turn to him and follow the path of holiness. Through this Door and through the Church's ministry, believers are prompted to draw more abundantly from the inexhaustible treasures of divine grace.

This is the gift and message for you too: may Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life renew you so that you will be his friends and witnesses in the world. Be faithful to him and spread hope, joy and love among your brothers and sisters.

4. May these same sentiments also be in your hearts, dear faithful from the parishes of Rieti, Bologna and Urbania. I greet you all affectionately and, in addressing you, I would also like you to take the Pope's best wishes back to your families, friends and brethren in faith. In returning to your homes, may you be able to communicate to everyone you meet the enthusiasm of a renewed faith and the commitment to active charity. May Mary, Mother of the One who began the new time of salvation and whom we call upon with trust, accompany you and always keep you under the mantle of her protection.

With these sentiments, I cordially impart a special Blessing to you, which I willingly extend to your families and your communities.



Saturday, 11 March 2000

Dear Cardinal Bevilacqua,
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I am pleased to welcome you to Rome on the occasion of the Jubilee Year Pilgrimage of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Your visit to the Eternal City is undertaken, like every pilgrimage, in a spirit of prayer and a desire for interior renewal. Here in Rome you will venerate the tombs of the Apostles Peter and Paul and pray in the catacombs and the monuments which Christians in every age have erected to the memory of the martyrs and saints. I pray that this pilgrimage will help to deepen your faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and increase your love for his Body, the Church.

As an important part of your Jubilee visit, you will pass through the Holy Door, symbolizing the conversion which must mark the life of every Christian. May this passage confirm your commitment to turn away from sin and to accept the gift of new life which the Lord constantly offers through the ministry of the Church. This is the great goal of the Jubilee year: to increase in the hearts of all the baptized "a true longing for holiness, a deep desire for conversion and personal renewal in a context of ever more intense prayer and solidarity with our neighbors, especially the most needy" (Tertio Millennio Adveniente TMA 32).

I commend you to Saints Peter and Paul, the holy patrons of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, to Saint John Neumann and to Blessed Katharine Drexel, whom I will shortly have the honor of canonizing. Upon you and your families I cordially invoke the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ.



Saturday, 18 March 2000

At the end of the spiritual exercises, I thank the Lord who has given me the joy of sharing these days of grace and prayer with you, dear and venerable brothers of the Roman Curia. These were days of intense and prolonged listening to the Spirit, who spoke to our hearts in silence and in attentive meditation on the Word of God. These days have been a powerful community experience, which has enabled us to feel like the Apostles in the Upper Room: “Together they devoted themselves to constant prayer [with] Mary the mother of Jesus, and his brothers” (Ac 1,14).

On behalf of each of you I also thank Archbishop François Xavier Nguyên Van Thuân, President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, who, with simplicity and spiritual inspiration, led us in reflection on our vocation as witnesses to Gospel hope at the beginning of the third millennium. He himself was a witness to the Cross in the long years of his imprisonment in Viêt Nam and he frequently recounted to us facts and episodes of his sufferings in prison, thereby strenthening us in the consoling certainty that when everything collapses around us and perhaps even within us, Christ remains our unfailing support. We are grateful to Archbishop Van Thuân — in prison he was merely Mr Van Thuân — for his witness, which is particularly significant in this Jubilee Year.

The crucified and risen Christ is our only true hope. Strong in his help, his disciples also become men and women of hope. Not a fleeting, short-lived hope which later leaves the human heart tired and disappointed, but true hope, God's gift, which, sustained from on high, reaches for the supreme Good and is certain of achieving it. Today’s world also has urgent need of this hope. The Great Jubilee we are celebrating leads us step by step to have a deeper sense of the reasons for this Christian hope, which call for and foster a growing trust in God and an ever more generous openness to our brothers and sisters.

Speeches 2000 - Saturday, 4 March 2000